VOL. II. 1)-1




• 'It

- ;;/





Printed by A. Straban,
Printers-Street, London.

June 17.1793, Mr. Fox's motion for peace with France 1
Jan. 21. 1794, His Majesty's speech on opening the

session 10
May 16. — Report of the secret committee respecting

seditious societies 23
— 17. —1;i11 for suspending the habeas-corpus act 34
-- 30. — Motion by Mr. Fox for promoting a paci-.

fication with France

Dec. 30. — His Majesty's speech on opening the
- session

Jan. 26. 1795, Mr. Grey's motion respecting peace with


May 97 — Motion by Mr. Wilberforce to facilitate

Nov. 10. — Bill for preventing seditious meetings

—17 — Ditto

— 23. — Bill for the better security of His Majesty's


Dec. 10.

Feb. 12. 1796, Mr. Whitbread's bill for regulating labour-

ers' wages

— 1.5. Mr. Grey's motion to negotiate for peace
with France, " ........ ................... 137


Feb. 26. 1796, Mr. W. Smith's motion respecting the late

loan to the Emperor 146
May 10. — Mr. Fox's motion for an entire change in the

system hitherto pursued by ministers 161
Oct. 6. — His Majesty's speech on opening the

18. — Motion for augmenting the national force

in case of invasion
Dec. 8. — Debate on the second reading of the report

of the committee of ways and means 207
— 14. — Mr. Fox's motion respecting advances of

money to the Emperor 214
— 30. — His Majesty's message announcing the fail-

ure of the negotiation 239
Mar. 13. 1797, Motion for retrenchment. in the public ex-

on the present state of


April 4. — Motion by Mr. Sheridan respecting advances
to the Emperor

May 26. — Mr. Grey's motion for a reform in parlia-
ment 299

June His Majesty's message relative to the mutiny
in the fleet 312

Nov. 10. Address to His Majesty on the late negoti-
ations at Lisle





June 17. 1793.

MR. FOX having moved an address to His Majesty, requesting him to
take the earliest measures for procuring. Peace with France on terms
consistent with the justice and policy of the British nation,

Mr. Prrt,rosc to deliver his sentiments in opposition to the motion:
.After wbat has been already so ably urged, I do not, in'the

present stage of the debate, conceive it necessary to speak td
the merits of the question. The almost unanimous cal] of the
House shews, that on that point they have already sufficiently
made up their minds. But something has been alleged on the
general grounds on which the motion is brought forward, and .
particular allusions have been made to me, which I cannot allow
to pass over in silence. The motion has been introduced by the
honourable gentleman on the eve of the conclusion of the ses-
sion, no doubt as a solemn expression of the sentiments enter-
tained by him on the present state of affairs, and I should be
sorry that my opinion on the present occasion should be at all
equivocal. I do not, then, hesitate to declare that this motion
is in itself the most impolitic and preposterous which could
possibly be adopted,. the most contradictory to those general
principles which at all times ought to regulate our conduct, and
the most unsuitable to those particular circumstances in which
we are now' placed. Such is my opinion of the nature of this
motion, which points out to us a line of conduct we can by no

.pursue, namely, to make peace upon terms which even,



23. — Mr. Fox's motion



24. — The budget
Dec. 14. — Assessed taxes
Jan. 4. 1798, Ditto
April 2. — Redemption of the land-tax 403
— 20. — His Majesty's message respecting invasion 417
May 25. -- Motion to bring in a bill for the more ef-

fectual manning of the navy 422

Dec. 3. -----. The budget 425



if within our reach, we ought not to accept, but which, in fact,
is only calculated to amuse and delude the people, by holding
out to them a possibility of peace, when, in reality, peace is
impossible, and thus serving to create groundless discontents
and dissatisfaction with the present situation of affairs.

Are we, I would ask, in pursuance of this motion, to be con-
tent merely with the French relinquishing those conquests
which they have unjustly made, without either obtaining repa-
ration for the injuries they have already done us, or security
against their future repetition? There might, indeed, be situa-
tions in which we might be compelled to adopt such a conduct.
Against necessity there is no possibility of contending. But.
indeed, it would be rather strange if we should do that at the
beginning of a most successful war, which could only be advi-
sable at the conclusion of a most disastrous one. It would be
'a principle somewhat new, if, when unjustly attacked, and
forced into a war, we should think proper to cease from all hos-
tilities, as soon as the enemy should be unwilling to support
their attack, and go on with the contest. Has such been the
case in any of the most favourite periods of the history of this
country, to which the honourable gentleman is so fond of allud-
ing? Where can he find any such principle in any of those wars
which this country has carried on in support of its independence?
And if so, what is there in the peculiar situation of the French,
the disturbers of the peace of Europe, and the unprovoked ag-
gressors of this country, that should require any other measure
to be dealt to them, than what we have been accustomed on.
former occasions to afford to our enemies? With a prospect of
success , so great as we have in the present moment, are we to
grant them an impunity for all those designs which they have so
unjustly formed and attempted to carry into execution ? Would
this tend in any degree to remedy the temporary inconvenience
to this country, which the honourable gentleman has stated as
resulting from the war, but which, in reality, is produced by
collateral causes? In no case would the conduct here pointed out
be expedient. But of all cases, where we ought not to stop


merely because the enemy stops, is that where we have suffered
an injury without having either obtained reparation or security.

This I will illustrate by what is at present our situation. And
first I will ask, what was the state of this country with respect to
France, previous to the declaration of war on her part ? We
then contended, fir*, That she had broken a treaty with our
allies, which we were bound to support: secondly, That she
had engaged in schemes of ambition and aggrandisement, in-
consistent with the interests of this country, and the general se-
curity of Europe ; thirdly; That she had entertained principles
hostile to all governments, and more particularly to our own.
In consequence of all these circumstances, you then de-
clared in addresses to His Majesty, that if proper satisfaction
was not obtained, a war must be the consequence. But while
this was in agitation, they had themselves declared war, and
been guilty of a sudden and unprovoked aggression upon this
country. Is then that aggression, the climax of all their in-
juries, to induce you to abandon those reasonable views of
satisfaction which before you entertained ? The necessity of
security against those three points, their disregard of treaties,
their projects of ambition, and their dangerous principles, cer-
tainly becomes greater, inasmuch as their injuries are increased
by the aggression. The argument for satisfaction, instead of
being diminished, derives greater strength from this last Cir-
cumstance. Indeed if we were foiled, we might then be in-
dnced to abandon those views with which we bad set out, to
submit to the hardship of our fate, and to receive such terms as
necessity might dictate. But those terms which the motion
prescribed are nonsuch as are to be aimed at in the first instance,
but such as are only to be submitted to in the last extremity.
The question then is, whether we shall now court calamity,
whether we shall, after a most successful commencement, vo-
luntarily submit to the most direful consequences of failure
and defeat ? At present wr,

have both right and interest on our
side. Shall we abandon both ? Shall we, with the means of
doing ourselves justice, pass by the most repeated and aggra.



[JUNE 17.

vated injuries, and grant peate to those whose unprovoked ag-
gression :alone compelled us to arm in our own defence ? The
question resolves itself into this ; shall we, from a view of the pre-
sent situation of the belligerent powers, risk more by vigorously
persisting , in the war till we have obtained its objects, or by
abandoning it without either reparation or security ? I shall only
put the question, and leave it to you` to decide.
-. Allow me only to subjoin a few remarks with reference to
some points urged by the honourable , gentleman who made the
motion. We thought it necessary in the first instance, upon
being attacked, to enter vigorously into the war. Did we not
seethe evils which we might expect to encounter in carrying it
on?:. Were we insensible of those calamities with which every
war is attended ? Have these evils and calamities turned out to
be greater than at first were expected and foreseen ? On this
point I shall not refer you to the inflamed exaggerations of the
honourable gentleman, who predicted from the war, even in its
commencement, every possible calamity, such as the most
alarming discontents at home, the total stagnation of commerce,
and interruption of public prosperity ; and who represented
that its infallible consequence must be not to check the schemes
and repulse the progress of the enemy, but, on the contrary, to
unite their views and concentrate their vigour. No — however
justified I might be in taking this statement, I shall refer you only.
tathe more -moderate apprehensions of those who, though con-
-vinced of the necessity of the war, were not insensible to its
dreadful consequences. These apprehensions happily have been
disappointed, and the very reverse of those calamities, which
there was but too much reason to dread, has taken place. The war
has been attended, even in its outset, with the most brilliant,
rapid,- and unexpected success. The views of the enemy have
experienced a most effectual check, and every circumstance
concurs to favour the hope of our being able completely to ac-
complish every object of the war. Is there any thing, then, in this
situation, to induce us to abandon our views of reparation and
security? . - -Are we to give up our claims of satisfaction, merely


because we have been beyond example successful in repelling
an unjust attack ? To urge this point, would indeed be wasting
the time of the House.

The only question that remains, is, at what period, and from
what situation of affairs, we are to obtain that reparation and
security which we desire. How long are we to wait for these
objects ? Are we to place them upon circumstances which may
never happen, and thus pursue them without any possibility of
attaining our end, which may be the case if we look to the estab-
lishment of any particular government in France ? The answer
to these questions, like the degree of security and reparation to
be obtained, depends upon circumstances of comparison. I
declare, that on the part of this government there was no inten-
tion, if the country had not been attacked, to interfere in the
internal affairs of France. This was clearly proved by the vs,
tern of neutrality, on our part, so strictly observed. But having
been attacked, I affirm, that there is nothing, either in the
addresses to His Majesty, or the declarations of his servants,
which pledges us not to take advantage ofany interference in the
internal affairs of France that may be necessary. I, for my own
part, repeat, that I have given no such pledge. I do not say that
if, without any interference, sufficient security and reparation
could be had for this country, I would not, in that case, be of
opinion that we ought to abstain from all interference, and allow
their government to remain even upon its present footing. But I
consider the question of obtaining these, while the same principle
that now prevails continues to actuate their government, to be
extremely difficult, if not impossible. I should certainly think,
that the best security we could obtain, would be in the end of
that wild ungoverned system, from which have resulted those
injuries against which it is necessary to guard. There are, how-
ever, degrees and proportions of security which may be obtained,
and with which we ought to rest satisfied ; these must depend
upon the cir

cumstances that shall afterwards arise, and cannot
be ascertained by any previous definition.. But when you have
seen yourselves and all Europe attacked — when 3iou have seen

13 . 3

[JUNE 17.

a system established, violating all treaties, disregarding all obli-
gations, and, under the name of the rights of man, uniting the
principles of usurpation abroad, tyranny and confusion at home

you will judge, whether you ought to•sit down without some
security against the consequences of such -a system being again
brought into action. And this security, it appears to me, can
only be obtained in one of three modes : 1st, That these prin-
ciples shall no longer predominate ; or, 2dly, That those, who
are now engaged in them, shall be taught that they are impracti-
cable, and convinced of their own want of power to carry them
into execution ; or, idly, That the issue of the present war shall
he such as, by weakening their power of attack, shall strengthen
your power of resistance. Without these, you may indeed have
an armed truce, a temporary suspension of hostilities ; but no
permanent peace ; no solid security to guard you against the
repetition of injury and the renewal of attack. If on these
points we have made up our minds, if we are determined to
prosecute the war till we shall obtain proper satisfaction, and at
least be able to provide some security for the continuance of
peace, the present motion can only tend to fetter the operations
of war, to delude our subjects, to gratify the factious, to inflame
the discontented, to discourage our allies, to strengthen our

What could be the effect of any negotiation for peace in the
present moment ? It is not merely to the character of Marat,
with whom we would have to treat, that I object ; it is not to
the horror of those crimes which have stained their legislators,
crimes in every stage rising above another in point of enormity ;
but I object to the consequences of that character, to the effect
of those crimes. They are such as render negotiation' useless,
and must entirely deprive of stability any peace which could be
concluded in such circumstances. Where is our security for
the performance of a treaty, where we have neither the good
faith of a nation, nor the responsibility,of a monarch ? The mo-
ment that the mob of Paris becomes, under the influence of a
new leader, mature deliberations are reversed, the most solemn


engagements are retracted, our free will is altogether controlled
by force. In every one of the stages of their repeated revolu-
tions we have said, " Now we have seen the worst, the measure
of iniquity is complete, we shall no longer be shocked or asto-
nished by the contemplation of added crimes and increasing
enormities." The next mail gave us reason to reproach our-
selves with our credulity, and, by presenting us with fresh crimes
and enormities still more dreadful, excited impressions of new
astonishment and accumulated horror. All the crimes which
disgrace history have occurred in one country, in a space so short,
and with circumstances so highly aggravated, as outrun thought,
and exceed imagination. Should we treat with Marat, before
we had finished the negotiation he might again' have descended
to the dregs of the people from whom he sprung, and have given
place to a still more desperate villain. A band of leaders had
swayed the mob in constant succession, all resembling in guilt,
but each striving to improve upon the crime of his predecessor,
and swell the black catalogue with new modes and higher gra-
dations of wickedness —

etas parentum pejor avis tulit
Nos nequiores, moo daturos

Progenium vitiosiorem.

No treaty can exist on their good faith independent of the terms
of peace. Could they be bound by engagements more solemn
than those to which thay had pledged themselves in return for
our neutrality ? What new engagements can be more binding,
or from what part of the character of the leaders, or what change
in the principles of action, can we expect greater good faith, or
stricter attention to engagements, than were exhibited by their

edecessors ? To make a treaty with them would be only to
afford them an opportunity of breaking it off before it was
finished, or violating it in its very commencement.

But if the motion can answer no good purpose, can it answer
no bad one ? Might it not serve to encourage the French ?

B 4


MR. pars PINE 17•
What the honourable gentlemen reserved as the last part of his
argument, seemed particularly to have this tendency, the con-
clusion' which he drew of the necessity of a peace.froin the situa-
tion of the country. If we are really come to that period of
distress and embarrassment, that peace upon such terms is ne-
cessary, we must indeed submit to the decrees of Providence
with the resignation with which we would submit to the sacrifice
of our independence. If the period of our ruin is come, we
roust prepare to meet the fate which we cannot avert ; we can-
not meet it in any shape more.dreadful than that which is pro-
posed by the motion of the honourable gentleman. But our
situation is not yet so desperate. With respect to the embar-
rassment of credit, and the consequent interruption of commerce,
I may safely say, that none have watched it more carefully than
myself, none can have felt it more anxiously. The honourable
gentleman states the means of relief, which have been adopted by
the legislature," as, in his opinion, a proof of the extent of the
calamity. For my part, I have formed a very different conclu-
sion. The effect of the relief held out by the legislature, even
before it was experienced, vas completely to restore confidence
and vigour to commerce a proof that the embarrassed state of
credit was only temporary, and, in a great measure, accidental.
It clearly was. not the effect of the war in which this country was
engaged, but was influenced by the state of the Continent, where
the war had previously subsisted, and where it had taken away
the market for our commodities. This embarrassment then
could only be ascribed to that cause which had produced so many
other calamities—that destroying spirit on the Continent, which
devours not only the fruits, but the_seeds of industry—which
overturns the very altar of society, and lets loose upon the
world all the horrors of anarchy and desolation.

The question then is, whether we shall persevere in those ex-
ertions, by which we may at least remove this. inconvenience,
while, in co-operation with our allies, we strive to remove its
cause—.a cause which, if riot checked, might. have led to distress
and ruin ? The present motion, by magnifying the inconvenience

which we have sustained into a calamity, is calculated to give a

'false impression, and give to what at most could only be the ob-
ject of apprehension at home, all the mischievous consequences of
a real distress abroad. It is calculated to discourage our allies,
and inspire our enemies with confidence.

Having thus given my opinion as a member of parliament,
there are some allusions which have been made • to myself, as a
member of the cabinet, which I am called upon to notice. .I
have only to-say, that if . ever that honourable gentleman should
be a member of the cabinet, I trust that he will be better in-
formed of-the proceedings of the councils of other nations, than
at present he seems to be with what every man would desire to
have some acquaintance with—those of his own. He stated, that
he brought forward his motion with a view of giving support to
certain opinions, which he understood to be entertained in the
cabinet respecting the war. If he brought forward his motion
from any motive of personal kindness to me, I have only to
request that he will withdraw it. Not having lately been much
in the habit of reading newspapers, I could not easily conceive
to whom the honourable gentleman alluded. Indeed, there is
no proposition which I could deem so impolitic to be brought
forward by any of His Majesty's servants as the present motion.,
Tf there is any difference in opinion between me and the other
members of the cabinet, I can only assure him, that I am the
most determined to oppose the grounds and principles upon
which that motion is founded. The question is, whether, in
conjunction with our allies:with whom our own prosperity is so
intimately connected, and with those prospects of success which
our situation affords, we shall persevere vigorously-to oppose
those destructive principles with which, even though baffled at
present, we may expect to contend to the latest hours of our lives?
And on this issue I allow it to: rest. I. have spoken at much
greater length than at first I .intended; hut on this subject,
whenever it occurs, I find it impossible to keep those bounds
which I had prescribed to myself,. prompted as I am to enlarge
by the dearest feelings and principles of my heart, 'affection and

10 MR. PITT'S [JAN. 21.

gratitude to my sovereign, and that duty which I owe as a mem-
ber of the community.

The motion passed in the negative;
Ayes •••••• 47

January 21. 1 7 94.

DEBATE on the address in answer to His Majesty's most gracious
speech on opening the session.

The address, which was moved by Lord Cliffden and seconded by Sir
Peter Burrell, was strenuously opposed by Mr. Fox, who, at the conclu-
sion of his speech, moved the following amendment,—" To recommend
to His Majesty to treat, as speedily as possible, for a peace with France
upon safe and advantageous terms, without any reference to the nature
or form of the government that might exist in that country."

Mr. PITT observed, that the motion which had been brought
forward by the right honourable gentleman t who spoke last,
amounted to little less than negativing. the address, and upon
this principle, what had previously been said by the noble lord

" My Lords and Gentlemen,
THE circumstances under which you are now assembled, require

your most serious attention.
" We are engaged in a contest, on the issue of which depend the

maintenance of our constitution, laws, and religion ; and the security
of all civil society.

" You must have observed, with satisfaction, the advantages which have
been obtained by the arms of the allied powers, and the change which has
taken place in the general situation of Europe since the commencement of
the war. The United Provinces have been protected from invasion; the
Austrian Netherlands have been recovered and maintained ; and places of
considerable importance have been acquired on the frontiers of France. The
re-capture of Mentz, and the subsequent successes of the allied armies on
the Rhine, have, notwithstanding the advantages recently obtained by the

j- Mr. Fox. Lord Mornington.


exactly referred to the subject of debate. From the length to
which the discussion had been carried, and the lateness of the

enemy in that quarter, proved highly beneficial to the common cause.
Powerful efforts have been made by my allies in the south of Europe;
the temporary possession of the town and port of Toulon has greatly
distressed the operations of ray enemies; and in the circumstances at-
tending the evacuation of that place, an important and decisive blow has
been given to their naval power, by the distinguished conduct, abilities,
and spirit of my commanders, officers, and forces, both by sea and land.

" The French have been driven from their possessions and fishery at
Newfoundland, and important and valuable acquisitions have been made
both in the East and West Indies.

" At sea oar superiority has been undisputed, and our commerce so
effectually protected, that the losses sustained have been inconsiderable,
in proportion to its extent, and to the captures made on the contracted
trade of the enemy.

" The circumstances by which the farther progress of the allies has
hitherto been impeded, not only prove the necessity of vigour and per-
severance on our part, but, at the same time, confirm the expectation
of ultimate success.

" Our enemies have derived the means of temporary exertion, from a
system which has enabled them to dispose arbitrarily of the lives and pro-
perty of a numerous people, and which openly violates every restraint of
justice, humanity, and religion ; but these efforts, productive as they ne-
cessarily have been of internal discontent and confusion in France, have
also tended rapidly to exhaust the natural and real strength of .that

" Although I cannot hut regret the necessary continuance of the war,
I should ill consult the essential interests of my people, if I were desirous
of peace on any grounds but such as may provide for their permanent
safety, and for the independence and security of Europe. The attain-
ment of these ends is still obstructed by the prevalence of a system in
France, equally incompatible with the happiness of that country, and
with the tranquillity of all other nations.

" Under this impression, I thought proper to make a declaration of the
views and principles by which I am guided. I have ordered a copy of
this declaration to be laid before you, together with copies of several
conventions and treaties with different powers, by which you will perceive
how large apart of Europe is united in a cause of such general concern.

" I reflect with unspeakable satisfaction on the steady loyalty and•fum
attachment to the established constitution and government, which, not-
withstanding the continued efforts employed to mislead and to seduce, have


MR. PITT'S [JAN. 21.

hour, it was impossible for him to go much into derail ; yet in
circumstances of Such peculiar and transcendent importance as
the present, though he could acid little more, in point of argu-

been so generally prevalent among all ranks of my people. These senti-
raentshave been eminently manifested in the zeal and alacrity ofthe militia
to provide for our internal defence, and in the distinguished bravery and
spirit displayed on every occasion by my forces, both by sea and land : they.
have maintained the lustre of the British name,and have shewn themselves
worthy of the blessings which it is the object of all our exertions to pre-

" Gentlemen of theRouse of Commons,
" I have ordered the necessary estimates and accounts to be laid before

you, and I am persuaded you will be ready to make such provision as the
exigencies of the time may require. I feel too sensibly the repeated
proofs which I have received of the affection of my subjects, not to la-
ment the necessity of any additional burdens. It is, however, a great
consolation to me to observe the favourable state of the revenue, and
the complete success of the measure which was last year adopted for
removing the embarrassments affecting commercial credit.

" Great as must be. the extent of our exertions, I trust you will be
enabled to provide for them in such a manner, as to avoid any pressure
which could be severely felt by my people."

" .32y Lords and Gentlemen, •
" In all your deliberations, you will undoubtedly bear in mind the,

true grounds and origin of the war.
" An attack was made on us, and on our allies, founded on principles

which tend to destroy all property, to subvert the laws and religion of
every civilised nation, and to introduce universally that wild and destruc-
tiye- system of rapine, anarchy, and impiety, the effects of which, as they
have already been manifested in France, furnish a dreadful but useful
lesson , to the present age and to posterity.

" It only remains. for us to persevere in our united exertions ; their
discontinuance or relaxation could hardly procure even a short interval
of delusive repose, and could never terminate in security or peace.
pressed with the necessity of defending all that is most dear to us, and
relying, as we may, with confidence, on the valour and resources of the
nation, on the combined efforts of so large a part of Europe, and, above
all, on the incontestable justice of our cause, let us render our conduct
a contrast to that of our enemies, and, by cultivating and practising the
principles of humanity, and the duties of religion, endeavour to merit
the continuance of the Divine favour and protection which have been
DO eminently experienced by these kingdoms."



went, to what had already been so ably and fully stated by his
noble friend, he considered it as incumbent on him expressly to
deliver his opinion on several points which had been urged by
the right honourable gentleman. He still considered it as
necessary, in the present stage of the question, to refer to the
original grounds upon which the war had been undertaken. The
honourable gentleman on the other side had told them that these
were of little consequence ; and had insisted, that a secure and
honourable termination of the war, was the only point which
(night now to occupy their discussion. But it became more
necessary to -refer to these original grounds, as, while the
present system continued, there was no probability of any such
termination in the present moment.

In recurring then to the principles on which they set out, it
would appear that the present war had not been hastily and
rashly engaged in, but after due deliberation and mature convic-
tion. It had been the opinion of the majority of that House, and
of the great body of the nation, that it was undertaken upon
grounds strictly defensive; and that the nation were equally
compelled to engage in it by the obligations of duty, and the
urgency-of necessity. An honourable gentleman had asked—
Would not we have engaged in the war, even if France had not
previously declared against us ? To this he would answer, what
he had last session asserted, That if we did not receive satisfac-
tion for 'past "injuries, and security with respect to the future,
-Most certainly we would. From the conduct of France, the war,
in whatever form it appeared, could .

only be considered as ag-
gressive on their part. As to what were the objects of the war
in the first instance, they had frequently been brought forward in
the. course of last session, and had again, in the present debate,
been stated by his noble friend. These objects were--First, that
the system adopted by the French had developed principles de-
structive to the general order of society, and subversive of all
regular government. Secondly, that the French themselves,
with a view, no doubt, of extending their system, had been guilty
of usurpations of the territory of other states. Thirdly, that



MR. P1T1"S [J AI

they had discovered hostile intentions against. Holland. Fourth-
ly, that they had disclosed views of aggrandisement and ambi-
tion entirely new in extent and importance, and menacing, in
their progress, not only the independence of this country, but the
security of Europe.—Unless it could be shewn, that we were
originally mistaken; that these were not proper objects of con-
test ; or that these objects were already gained ; the obligations
and necessity which originally induced us to undertake the war,
would operate with equal force at the present moment. In that
case, even supposing that disappointment and difficulty had oc-
curred in the prosecution of the war, they ought to have no other
effect than to inspire us with additional vigour, and stimulate
us to new exertions. Though not insensible to any failure or
miscarriage that might be ascribed to the misconduct of those
employed in conducting the operations of the war, yet these
could not at all affect the general question, even if their conduct
had as much demerit as had been stated by the honourable gen-
tleman on the other side. However unpleasant he or his col-
leagues might feel from that peculiar situation of responsibility
in which they stood, that was no reason why there should be
any alteration in the sentiments of the country. If those disap-
pointments and difficulties arose, not from the nature of the
contest, but from the misconduct of those intrusted with the
management of public affairs, the.nation were not therefore to
be discouraged in the career of exertion, and to shrink from the
discharge of their duty. If those persons who conducted His
Majesty's councils were unequal to the task, let us not, think so
meanly of the abilities of the country, as to suppose that there
are not others of superior talents, without resorting to the few
individuals who have ever since its commencement discovered
principles inimical to the war. Surely it was not necessary to
suppose that all the abilities of the nation were exclusively mo-
nopolised by those individuals. But if, on the other hand, the
difficulty was ascribed to the nature of the contest itself, which,
however, he should much more regret, then would the argu-
ment with respect to the misconduct of ministers, or of those


concerned in conducting the active operations of the war, be
much weakened.

He would now, he said, proceed briefly to take a view of the
different stages in which the question of the war had been de-
bated. At the conclusion of last session, he had placed its
termination upon two circumstances; first, the being able to pro-
cure a peace upon terms likely to render it secure and perma-
nent ; and, secondly, 'an indemnity suitable to the expense which
the nation should have incurred in carrying on the war. He
had therefore, in the debate at the conclusion of last session,
held out as a means, not only of annoying the enemy, but of
securing those desirable ends, the propriety of an interference
iu the internal government of France. Not that he had abso-
lutely insisted upon an entire subversion of that government
he had always asserted that if a peace could be made upon terms
of security to this country, no consideration of the detestable
characters of the ruling men in France, or of the crimes and
horrors with which they were sullied, ought to influence this
country to reject such terms.

The honourable gentleman had at that time admitted this
principle to be right, both in point of expediency and morality.
And here he must advert to an unfair mode of argument which
had been employed by the honourable gentleman. He had en-
deavoured to give a different turn to sentiments, by confound-
ing the periods at which they were brought forward.— When the
strict neutrality observed by this country, with respect to
France, had been mentioned in His Majesty's speech, no injury
had then. been. received from France. When circumstances al-
tered., the same sentiments could no longer apply. If a foreign
country, divided into two parties, discovered hostile intentions
with respect to a nation, it would surely be perfectly fair in that
nation to endeavour to oppose those parties to one another ;
more especially if the continuance of a system was the ground
Of that enmity, an interference to destroy that system was par-
ticularly justifiable. Such was the precise state of the case be-
tween France and this country. Last year this interference had


MR. PITT'S [JA g. 214

been avowed and admitted as a ground of action, and its pro-
priety could not surely be now denied. Since last year, a new
scene had presented itself, more eventful and extraordinary even
than those which had formerly been exhibited. However the
horrors and crimes which had taken place in former periods of
the revolution might have exceeded all expectation, and tran-
scended even the utmost strength of imagination, they now ap-
peared only to have paved the way for fresh horrors and accu-
mulated crimes, beyond whatever fancy could have feigned, or
fear conceived. Things had now come to such a crisis, that he
had no difficulty to declare, that, while that system continued,
peace was less desirable to him than a war, under any circum-
stances of disaster which he could possibly imagine. Not that
he would contend that the mere abhorrence of crimes, that the
mere detestation of character, except directly bearing upon our
own safety, could constitute any reasons why we should engage
in a war : but, in the present instance, the reasoning of his
noble friend directly applied. That reasoning had gone—first,
to shew the horror and enormity of the system which now pre-
vailed in France: secondly, the danger of the extension of that
system, if not speedily and effectually resisted: thirdly, the
measures which were employed for the purpose of extending
that system : fourthly, the prospects of success which we derived
from the very nature of those measures, in our . attempts to
crush the progress of that system : and fifthly, that the success
of those attempts depended upou the vigorous continuance of
our warlike efforts; and that the circumstances of the case were
such, as, in the present moment, entirely precluded all negoti-
ation. The speech of his noble friend had been styled decla-
matory; upon what principle he knew not, except that every
effort of eloquence, in which the most forcible reasoning was
adorned and supported by all the powers of language, was to be -
branded with the epithet of declamation. The propositions
which he had brought forward, had been urged, not in a vague
and general way they had been supported by strong facts.

The history of the rulers of France had been taken from their


own mouths, from records written under their inspection, and
decrees sanctioned by their authority. From the nature of their
government, there could be no dependence on the characters of
whom it was composed. The shifting of persons took place
like the shifting of scenes ; but this change of persons produced
no alteration in the conduct of the drama, the principles and
proceedings still continued the same, or were distinguished in
their progress only by increasing gradations of enormity. On
the 21st of May, a new government, more dreadful in its cha-
racter, and more fatal in its effects, than any which preceded it,
had taken place This was the revolutionary government.

My noble friend began, continued Mr. Pitt, by stating, that
one of the leading features of this government was the abolition
of religion. It will scarcely be maintained that this step could
tend only to affect opinions, and have no influence upon the
conduct of a nation. The extinction of religious sentiment- was
only intended to pave the way for the introduction of fresh
crimes, and entirely to break asunder those bands of society
which had been already loosened. s It was intended only to fa-
miliarise the mind with guilt, and, by removing the obstacle of
Tear, to relieve it from the restraints of conscience. Infidelity,
as my noble friend remarked, was only meant to go hand in
hand with insurrection. A second measure of this revolutionary
government was the destruction of property, a precedent which
tended not less to destroy all ideas of justice, than the former to
extinguish all sentiments of piety. Not less detestable was their
conduct in their mode of inflicting punishments — a mode which
took awayfrom the accused all privilege of defence, and from
their trials even the appearance of legal forms. All these
crimes, however, they contrived to convert into sources of
revenue. From the pillage of the churches—from the destruction
of property— from the confiscation of the effects of those who
were condemned— they derived the means for conducting their
military operations. They pushed every resource to its utmost
extent; as, for instance, the unbounded circulation of assignats,
anvdotrheI itn. mosition of a forced loan. What can be expected



j MR. PITT'S [JAN. 21,
from a system of acting upon such principles, and supported
by such resources ? Resources so desperate afford in themselves
the most certain symptoms and indications of the approaching
decay of that system with which they are connected. If, then,
such be the system, if such the means of its support ; and if
France in consequence has, during these few months, experienced
a degree of distress ; the greatest, perhaps, ever known in that
country during the same space of time ; what prospect can there
be of either stability or permanence to the present order of
things? Can it be supposed to rest on that something approach-
ing to instinct that spirit of enthusiasm which has been so
highly extolled by the gentlemen on the other side ? What can
we think of the probability of the duration of a system which
has sent as many suspected persons to the prison or scaffold, as
it has sent recruits to the field ?

'But it has been urged, that the French have distinguished
themselves in the field ; nor will it be denied, that, independ-
ently of any other circumstance, the spirit of a people called
forth by the impulse which acts so strongly in such a situation,
may have the effect to make them brave in the moment of action.
But their efforts are merely the result of a system of restraint
and oppression, the most terrible and gigantic that has, perhaps,
ever existed. They are compelled into the field by the terror of
the guillotine —they are supported there only by those resources
which their desperate situation affords ; and, in these circum-
stances, what can be the dependence on the steadiness of their
operations, or what rational prospect can there be of the per-
manence of their exertions ? On this ground, the more mon-
strous and terrible the system has become, the greater is the pro-
bability that it will be speedily overthrown. From the nature of
the mind of man, and the necessary progress of human affairs,
it is impossible that such a system can be of long duration ; and
surely no event can be looked for more desirable than a destruc-
tion of that system which at present exists, to the misery of
France and the terror of Europe.

As to the question of the honourable gentleman, whether I

am never to make peace with the jacobins, it is extremely diffi-
cult to answer, and it would be neither prudent nor rational in
me to 'give him any definitive reply in the present moment. It
is a question, the solution of which must depend upon a com--
bination of events. As circumstances may vary, a different
line of conduct must necessarily be pursued ; nor would it lie
proper to bind up my discretion to act with a regard to those
contingencies that may arise, by pledging myself at present to
one set of measures. In the present circumstances, I have no
hesitation to declare, that I would rather choose to persevere in
the war, even amidst the worst disasters, and should deem such
a conduct much more safe and honourable, than to conclude
a peace with the ruling powers in France on their present sys-
tem. The question of pursuing the war must, in every instance,
depend upon the convenience with which it can be carried on
to ourselves ; and of that you must be best qualified to judge.
On this great and interesting crisis, I have no hesitation to
state, that I should think myself deficient in point of candour,
if I did not most unequivocally declare, that the moment will
never come, when I shall not think any alternative preferable
to that of making peace with France, upon the system of its
present rulers. The question I do not now mean to argue at
large, both from the very advanced hour, and from the full
discussion which it has already received. I shall only touch on
one or two points which have been brought forward by the ho-
nourable gentleman in the course of his argument. His motion
is certainly couched in *ery general terms, and such as might.
take in every thing that I have contended for. It recommends
to His Majesty to conclude a peace whenever it can be done upon
safe and advantageous terms, without any reference to the na-
ture and form of government which may exist in France. I
likewise am of opinion, that, a safe and advantageous peace
ought to he concluded; but that the security and benefits of that
peace must depend upon the establishment of a government es-
sentially different from the present. Though the motion, however,
from the general terms in which it is expressed, is calculated to

c 2

20 MR. PITT'S..,


gain no precise object, it is yet capable of doing much mischief.
It means and says, that this House entertains sentiments dif-
ferent from those expressed by His Majesty in his speech. It
holds out to our allies that they are no longer to consider us as
eager in the cause, or acting upon the principles in which we
embarked along with them ; while it must impart encourage-
ment and confidence to our enemies.

The honourable gentleman had said, that a treaty with the
French government would afford us as good a security for the
continuance of peace, as that which we derived from the treaty
of Ryswick or Utrecht. He then, in his usual way, entered into
a declamation against kings, and said that we might place equal
dependence on the good faith of the present government of
France, as on that of the court of Louis XIV. This I expressly
deny; and I affirm, that had that king even succeeded in his am-
bitious projects to their full extent, what we should' then have
suffered might have been considered as a deliverance, compared
with what must be the consequence of success attending the pre-
sent French system. All the splendour of his court, all the abi-
lities of his generals and discipline of his armies, all the great
exertions which he was enabled to make, proceeded from a high
sentiment of honour. The exercise of that power which he pos-
sessed, however directed to the purposes of his ambition, was re-
gulated by certain principles, and limited within certain bounds.
No such principles actuate the conduct of the present French
rulers. They have contrived to banish all restraints, and, with
an ambition more insatiable, they have at their disposal means
of destruction much more formidable than that monarch ever
possessed in the plenitude of his power.

The honourable gentleman has inaccurately stated, that I at-
tach the same degree of importance to the restoration of monar-
chy in France, as to the destruction of the present system. This
is by no means the case : I attach importance to the restoration
of monarchy, from an opinion that, in the present state of France,.
some settled form should take place, in which the greater part
of the people may be disposed to concur. The ancient govern-

•- 0 or-

went I consider as affording the best materials upon which they
could work, in introducing any change into the fabric of their
constitution. Besides, as I have thought it incumbent, in any
interference which I proposed in the internal- affairs of that
country, to consult chiefly the happiness of the people, monarchy
appeared to me the system most friendly to their true interests.
In another respect, the honourable gentleman has misrepre-
sented me, by stating the restitution of monarchy as an event
which must necessarily be preceded by the conquest of France.
I consider monarchy only as the standard under which the people
of France might be united, the more especially as it is that form
of government which my noble friend has proved to be most
agreeable to the wishes of two-thirds of the inhabitants. But
it has been said, that even the re-establisment of royalty would
afford us no additional security for the permanence of peace, and
that the French would still be equally formidable to this country.
It is, however, surely a wild and extravagant assertion, that the
monarchy of France, stripped as it would then be of much of
its power, and diminished in its revenues, should be as formi-
dable as a system which has proved itself to be more dangerous
than monarchy ever was, in the plenitude of its power and the
height of its greatness.

But there is one part of the argument of my noble friend to
which I must particularly call your attention, and which, inde-
pendently of every other consideration, precludes even the
possibility of our treating with France in the present moment.
A decree has been passed by the convention, forbidding to treat
with any enemy till they shall have evacuated the territories
of the republic; and on the 11th of April it was again decreed,
that those persons should be punished with death who should
propose to treat with any power which should not have previ-
ously acknowledged the independence of the French nation, and
the unity and indivisibility of the republic, founded upon li-
berty and equality. Thus, by any proposal to treat, we should
not- only incur the disgrace of the most abject h umiliation, but
absolutely put ourselves at their mercy, and subject ourselves

c 3




[JAN. 21.

to the necessity of receiving any terms which they might be
disposed tO dictate. Are you then to withdraw your armies, to
deprive yourself of the co-operation of your allies, to forego all
your acquisitions, to give up Conde, Quesnoi, Tobago, Fort
Louis, all the factories in the East Indies? Are you to abandon
all these acquisitions, the rewards of your past labours, and the
pledges of your future success ?

Should you consent to do all
this, should you even hasten to sent an ambassador to treat
with the convention, (and the right honourable .gentleman I
believe on a former occasion volunteered himself for that service, )
you not only must acknowledge the unity and indivisibility of
the French republic, but you must do so in their own way.
You must acknowledge it as founded on liberty and equality.
You must subscribe to the whole of their code, and by this act
sanction the deposition of their sovereign, and the annihilation
of their legislature. It. may be said that they would not insist
upon all this to its full extent; but of this I can have but little
confidence, when I compare their past declarations and their
conduct. To whatever pitch of extravagance they may have
reached in what they have said, they have always outstripped it
by what they have done. The absurdity of their expressions
has in every instance been surpassed by the outrages of their
conduct ; nor can we have any hopes of more moderation from
any change of parties. In all revolutions that have hitherto
taken place; the first recommendation to favour has been
hostility to England. The most violent party have always
predominated. The leading feature in their character at pre-
sent is a spirit of military enterprise, exerted, not for the pur-
poses of ambition, but every where spreading, in its progress,
terror and desolation.. We are called in the present age to wit-
ness the political and moral phenomenon of a mighty and civi-
lised people, formed into an artificial horde of banditti, throwing
off all the restraints which have influenced men in social life, dis-
playing a savage valour directed by a sanguinary spirit, forming
rapine and destruction into a system, and perverting to their de-

* Mr. Fox.

testable purposes, all the talents and ingenuity which they de-
rived from their advanced stage of civilisation, all the refinements
of art, and the discoveries of science. We behold them uniting
the utmost savageness and ferocity of design with consummate
contrivance, and skill in execution, and seemingly engaged
in no less than a conspiracy to exterminate from the face of
the earth all honour, humanity, justice, and religion. In this
state, can there be any question but to resist; where resist-
ance alone can be effectual, till such time, as, by the blessing
of Providence upon our endeavours, we shall have secured
the independence of this country, and the general interests of

It cannot be doubted, that there are many other points
brought forward by the honourable gentleman with respect to
the conduct of the campaign, and the treatment of neutral
powers, which I am extremely anxious to meet, but into which
the lateness of the hour forbids me to enter. My own strength,
as well as the patience of the House, is already exhausted; and
I the more willingly postpone them on the present occasion, as
they will, with more propriety, form future and separate subjects
of discussion.

The amendment was negatived:


- And the question on the address was afterwards put and agreed to.

May 16. 1794.

A message from His Majesty having been delivered to the House on the
th instant, informing them, " that seditious practices to an alarming

extent had been carried on by certain societies in London, in corre_
pondence with societies in different parts of the country, tending to sub-
vert the laws and costitution of the kingdom, and introductory of the
system of anarchy prevailing in France; and recommending to the House
to adopt such measures as night appear necessary ;" and the books and

c 4



papers of the said societies having been in consequence laid before the
House, and referred by them to a committee of secrecy;—the report of
this committee was this day brought up.

On its being read by the clerk at the table, Mr. PITT rose:

He said, the committee of secrecy had formed their opinion
on the papers submitted to their examination with the greatest
expedition, and their report stated so fully and particularly
those circumstances, which in the judgment of the committee
required the immediate attention of parliament, that he felt it
hardly necessary for him to do more than shortly to recapitulate
the different objects to which that report applied, and the various
particulars which came under their consideration. Gentlemen
would perceive that that report, so expeditiously laid before
the House, contained a general view of the transactions referred
to the committee, without waiting for a more minute investiga-
tion, and was shortly this :—That it appeared to them that a plan
had been digested and acted upon, and at that moment was in
forwardness towards its execution, the object of which was
nothing less than to assemble a pretended convention of the
people, for the purposes of assuming to itself the character of
a general representation of •the nation ; superseding, .in the
first place, the representative capacity of that House, and arro-
gating, in the next place, the legislative power of the country
at -large. It would be for the House to consider whether the
circumstances contained in the report, impressed their minds
with the same conviction with which they had impressed the
minds of the committee. If they did, he could not have a
doubt but that they would lead to the same practical conclu-
sion, namely, that, if such designs existed, if such designs had
been acted upon and were in forwardness, there was not
one moment to be lost in arming the executive power with those
additional means, which might. be sufficient effectually to stop
the further progress of such a plan, and to prevent its being
carried into final execution. .

It was chiefly necessary for the House, in considering the
report, to recollect, that a great part of it was merely intro-.


d17n9e4to.jry ; and that, though it stated transactions of a date long
antecedent to the period in which the acts of the societies im-
plicated had assumed the serious aspect of practical treason,
and though they were of notorious publicity, it was neverthe-
less necessary to bring them forward again to observation, to
give a clue to unravel the complicated circumstances of the
plan, and, by comparison and combination of them with the
subsequent proceedings of the individuals concerned, to shew,
that from the beginning their views were the same, and that
the pretext of reform, under which they masked their purpose,
was far from being the true object of their intentions. The
House would also carry along with them, that the committee,
having been stinted in point of time, had not been able to
digest methodically, or point out distinctly, the various minute
parts that formed the great and momentous business before
them. In order to give the house, however, as soon as possible,
possession of so much of it as might serve to point out the daily
and increasing approximation of danger, the committee, in
examining and making up the report, had kept in view the
great object, the leading design of the plan : for it was not to
be imagined, that the distance of the transactions in point of

. time, and the fact of their being previously known, made them
the less material as comments on those parts of their conduct
which were discovered in their full maturity.

It would be seen by the report, that the papers found, as far
as related to that part of the conspiracy which immediately im-
plicated the Corresponding Society, and that for constitutional
information, contained two years' correspondence with various
other societies in this and a neighbouring country ; and from
these, coupled with their subsequent and more recent proceed-
ings, it was evident that those societies, which would be found
to be now setting on foot .a convention, had had such a measure
in negonatgeornaps two from the very outset ; that it was conceived so


o years back ; was openly avowed in their corre-
but kept in reserve to be reduced to practice as soon

as a
°liable occasion should offer. This whole system of



insurrection would appear, front the papers found with them, to
be laid in the modern doctrine of the rights of man; — that
monstrous doctrine, under which the weak and ignorant, who
are most susceptible of impression from such barren abstract
positions, were attempted to be seduced to overturn government,
law, property, security, religion, order, and every thing valuable
in this country, as men acting upon the same ideas had already
Overturned and destroyed every thing in France, and disturbed
the peace and endangered the safety, if not the existence, of
every nation in Europe. However gentlemen might ground
arguments against the cautionary measures taken to prevent the
evil effects of that pernicious doctrine, on the contemptible situ-
ation of the authors, and the absurdity of the principles of those
books in which it was inculcated, yet allowing the one to be in
the extreme as contemptible as the others were absurd, it was
no light or trivial circumstance, when, deduced from it, alarming
principles were promulgated and eagerly adopted by large bodies;
and when the proceedings of all those jacobin societies would
appear (as the papers before the House fully demonstrated) to
be only comments on that text ; — a text for the inculcation of
which those societies were the disciples here, as their eel-re-
sponding French brethren were the instruments for disseminat-
ing it in France, and extending it by carnage and slaughter to
all other parts of Europe.

It would appear, that, prior to the enormities committed in
France, a correspondence had been carried on between those
societies and the jacobin club in Paris, and that delegates were
sent from them to the national convention, and received for..
mally by that assembly ; and that, at the very moment when the
jacobin faction which usurped the government of that country
had commenced hostilities against Great Britain, those societies
still, as far as they could, had pursued the same conduct, ex-
pressed the same attachment to their cause, adopted their ap-
pellations, forms of proceeding and language, and, in short, had
fornied a settled design to disseminate the same principles, and
sow the same seeds of ruin, in their own country. It would be

found, not only that the most effectual plans which cunning
could devise, had been laid to carry this design into practice,
but in the report would be seen a statement of the catalogue of
manufacturing towns marked out, as the most likely (from the
vast concourse of ignorant and profligate men who necessarily
collect in such places) to adopt their plans, and corresponding
societies established there, to keep up the chain of seditious
intercourse, and promulgate and give it universal circulation.
Gentlemen would find in that catalogue a well-chosen selection
of the places where those people dwell, who must be naturally
supposed most ready to rise at the call of insurrection ; who were
most likely to be blinded by their artifices, and prejudiced by
professions; whose understandings were most subject to be mis-
led by their doctrines, and rendered subservient to their views,
and whom fraudful persuasion, proneness to discontent, and the
visionary and fallacious hope of mending their condition by any
alteration of it whatever, would be most likely to congregate
into an enormous - torrent of insurrection, which would sweep
away all the barriers of government, law, and religion, and leave
our country a naked waste for usurped authority to range in,
uncontrolled and unresisted.

In considering this subject, the House could not but remark
the extraordinary manner in which those societies had varied
their plans of operation ; sometimes acting in undisguised auda-
cious hostility, sometimes putting on the mask of attachment to
the state and country; one day openly avowing their intentions,
as if purposely to provoke the hand of justice; the next, putting
on the mask of reform, and affecting the utmost zeal for the
preservation of the constitution. In their letter to the society
at Norwich, would be seen a plain avowal of their object, an
apology for deigning to apply to parliament; and a candid, sincere
confession, that, -not to the parliament, not to the executive
power were they to look for redress, but to the convention which
they proposed to erect, and to themselves : afterwards they re-
commended persevering in petitioning for reform to be used as
a mask to their designs, which they were to throw off when time

28 Mil. PITT'S [MAY 16.
served, and a period propitious to their views should arrive.
Happily for this country, and for the whole world, they had pre-
maturely thought that period at hand, and thrown off the mask
just when the bulk of the nation unanimously were uniting with
government in vigilance and care for its protection, and in the
resolution to oppose their efforts.

By a due attention to the correspondence of that society, the
House would find, intheir communication with the British con-
vention at Edinburgh, which still retained some flimsy remnant
of that disguise, some remains of that hypocrisy assumed to hide
those designs which, though not publicly declared, too obviously
appeared, that they styled this convention the representatives of
the people, clothed in all the right to reform, and send delegates
to it ; and, when some of the most mischievous and active of
its members fell under sentence of the law, that they boldly as-
serted their innocence, nay their merits - directly in the teeth of
that law, paid every tribute of enthusiastic applause to the per-
sons convicted by the verdict of juries legally constituted, and
of respect to the convention, pronouncing them objects of pane-
gyric and envy. In conformity to their prior declarations, and
to the plans of insurrection laid by them, they made the legal
condemnation of those guilty persons the signal; as they styled it,
of coming to issue-on the point, "Whether the law should frighten
them into compliance, or they oppose it with its own weapons,
to wit, force and power !" that is to say distinctly, Whether
*they should yield obedience to the laws of their country, or op-
pose them by insurrection ? That was avowed in as plain and
marked language as man could possibly conceive. He thought
that that case, so circumstanced, and supported by such a variety
of coincident matter, was as strong a case as the mind of man
could well imagine ; yet, singular though it might appear, all
this was but introductory to facts of a still stronger nature which
ware. to follow. He should call the attention of the House to the
history of a society which, despicable and contemptible though
the persons who composed it were, as to talents, education, and
influence, yet when looked at with cautious attention, and corn-

pared with the objects they lied in view, and the motives on
which they acted, namely, that great Moving-principle of all jaco-
binism, the love of plunder, devastation,, and robbery, which
now bore the usurped name of liberty, and that system of
butchery and carnage which had been made the instrument of
enforcing those principles, would appear to be fbrmidable in exact
proportion to the meanness and contemptibility of their charac-
ters. Of that society the characteristic was, that, being com-
posed of the lower orders of people, it had within it the means
of unbounded extension, and concealed in itself the seeds of
rapid increase. It had risen already to no less than thirty di-
visions in London, some of those containing as many as six
hundred persons, and was connected by a systematical chain of
correspondence with other societies scattered through all the
manufacturing towns where the seeds of those principles were
laid, which artful and dangerous people might best convert to
their own purposes. It would appear in proof; that that society
had risen to an enormous height of boldness, and erected in it-
self, in express terms, a power to watch over the progress of
parliament, to scan its proceedings, and prescribe limits for its
actions ; beyond which if it presumed to advance, that august
society was to issue its mandate, not only to controvert that act,
but to put an end to the existence of parliament itself: so that,
if the parliament should think it necessary to oppose, by any act
of penal coercion, the ruin of the constitution, that would be the
war-whoop for insurrection ; the means of our defence

become the signal for attack, and the parliament be made the
instrument of its own annihilation. Such language as this, com-
ing from people apparently so contemptible in talents, so mean
in their description, and so circumscribed in their power, would,
abstractedly considered, be supposed to deserve compassion, as
the wildest workings of insanity; but the researches of the com-
mittee would tend to prove, that it had been the result of deep
design, matured, moulded into shape, and fit for mischievous
effect when opportunity should offer.

About six weeks since, there had arisen a new era in this his-



tory of insurrection, in which the House might contemplate those
great machines of jacobinism, the societies alluded to in the re-
port.. At that period the Corresponding Society had laid, in due
form, before the society for constitutional information, a delibe-
rate and deep-concerted plan for actually assembling a con-
vention for all England, not to be the representatives of these
particular bodies for the accomplishment of particular legal
purposes, but to be the representatives of the whole body of
the people of England, and evidently to exercise legislative and
judicial capacities, to overturn the established system of govern-
ment, and wrest from the parliament that power which the people
and the constitution had lodged in their hands. Within a few
weeks the plan was fixed upon to be carried into execution,
and in their circular letter they precisely and emphatically stated,
that no time teas to be lost ; and lest, by any possibility, their
ruinous intentions should be misunderstood, the letter was ad-
dressed equally to all parts of the island, and circulated with a
share of vigour, cunning, and address, truly astonishing. It
contained also a declaration that a central spot was fixed upon,
which they would not venture to name till they had assurances
of the fidelity of those to whom they were to disclose it ; which
central spot they chose, as they themselves asserted, for the
purpose of having with greater facility -the delegates of the
whole island present when they assembled; and they particularly
desired each separate society to send an exact account of the
number of its members, friends, and adherents, in order to
estimate their force. Of this they informed the society for con-
stitutional information, in a letter, accompanied with .a set of

It might be objected that men of the description which he had
stated, could not be expected to act so consistently, and under
such well-managed disguise ; but when, on inspection, it ap-
peared that their plans had been carried on with a degree of cun-
ning and management that greater men in worthier causes had
failed in manifesting, that objection could have no weight when
opposed to evidence thus incontrovertible. Who was there that

knew what jacobins and jacobin principles were, but must see,
in the pretences of reform in parliament held out by these socie-
ties, the arrogant claims of the same class of men as those who
lorded it in France, to trample upon the rich, and crush every
description of men, women, and children ; the dark designs of
a few, making use of the name of the people to govern all; a plan
founded in the arrogance of wretches, the outcasts of society,
tending to enrich themselves, by depriving of property, and of
life, all those who were distinguished either for personal worth,
or for opulence?— 4 plan which had been long felt by the unfor-
tunate people of France in all its aggravated horrors, and which,
he feared, would long, very long, continue to be felt by that ill-
fated country.

From the period be had mentioned, they had acted upon that
horrible plan ; and subsequently ( on the 14th of April) the House
would find a meeting of the society, their proceedings in which
meeting, carried with them no faint illustration of what they
might be expected to do in the full majesty of power. There
would be found resolutions arraigning every branch of the go-
vernment, threatening the sovereign, insulting the House of
peers, and accusing the Commons of insufficiency ; there would
be found notice taken of the measures of parliament, which had
been previously made the signals for an insurrection of the people,
and declarations that certain measures, if adopted, whether
with or without the consent of parliament, should be rescinded,
under their doctrine, Salus suprema lex, and that the con,
stitution had been utterly destroyed. Could there be a more
explicit avowal of their views? All the materials from whence
proof of these allegations was drawn, rested on their own au-
thentic records, and on the express and unequivocal avowal of
their own deliberate acts in their meditated system of insurrec-
tion. This was the essence of the subject ; but if the House
were of opinion, that this so deeply affected the safety and.
existence of parliament itself, and struck at the root of govern
went and the constitution, as to demand interference, there
were, in addition, other things which must contribute not a



[MAY 16.

little to increase the impatience of the House to baffle the views
of those conspirators, and stop the final execution of their

For his part, Mr. Pitt said, such was his opinion of the British
constitution, that, even supposing the executive government had
been guilty of every neglect of their duty in watching over its
safety, and parliament had been supine under those manifesta-
tions of sedition, he conceived its enemies must nevertheless
have failed of success ; but, however persuaded he might be of
this fact, it was still right to prevent, by timely interference, the
small misery which a short struggle might necessarily produce,
and to save the nation at large from the-reproach, that they had
seen such acts, and heard such avowals, without having adopted
proper steps to check their execution, and punish those who were
so wicked as-to devise them. There were stated in the close of
the report, on grounds not light or trivial, though not minutely
entered into in the report till after fuller investigation by the
committee, allegations that arms had been actually procured and
distributed by these societies, and were in the hands of those
very people whom they had been striving to corrupt : and that
even now, instead of breaking up this formidable league, and
disbanding and dispersing this jacobin army, they had shown
themselves immoveably bent on the pursuit of their purpose,
and displayed preparations of defiance and resistance to the
measures of government.

It remained for the House to consider what was to be done ?
and, in considering that, they would not refer to the quality of the
persons, but to the nature and magnitude of the objects theyhad.in
view. It would be found, when the causes and proceedings were
taken into contemplation, that so formidable a conspiracy had ne-
ver before existed. The enquiry was yet far from complete, and
unfit for final decision, the'documents being very voluminous: but
the committee bad deemed it their duty to s pew the House that
instant precaution was necessary, and had therefore, though
unable to finish the important research, laid before the House
what they bad yet done, which he hoped would be thought


sufficient grounds for adopting the measure he intended to pro-
pose. It had been usual, in time Of danger, to enact a temporary •
suspension of the Habeas Corpus law. As that great and essen-
tial benefit to the subject had been suggested, and provided for
the preservation of the constitution on the one hand, so, on the
other, it could not exist if the constitution was gone. The tem-
porary sacrifice of that Jaw might be, on certain occasions, as
necessary to the support of the constitution, as the maintenance
of its principles was at all others. It had been suspended at, a

. time when the constitution and liberty of the country were most
peculiarly guarded and respected ; and such a suspension was
more particularly called for at this crisis, when .attempts were
made to disseminate through the realm, principles and means of
action that might endanger that constitution, for the preservation
of which that law had been made, and which might produce much
more lamentable effects, and at last require a remedy greater in
extent and more dreadful, than the one now proposed. This
was not his opinion alone, but the sentiments of all those re-
spectable gentlemen of the committee who had investigated the
matter. He should therefore move " for leave to bring in a
bill to empower his-Majesty to secure and detain all such per-
sons as should be suspected of conspiring against his person and

The motion was carried,
Ayes 201

and, after another division, on a motion made by Mr. Grey, " for a call
of the House," which was negatived, the bill was presented, read a first
and second time, and voted into the committee ; where its various clauses
being adjusted and agreed to, the report was received, and the bill ordered
to be engrossed and read a third time the next day.


- 34 MR. PITT'S


May 17. 1794.

On a motion for the third reading of the bill, which had been intro-
duced the preceding day, " for suspending the operation of the Habeas
Corpus Act," the measure was strenuously opposed, particularly by Mr.
Grey, Mr. Sheridan, and Mr. Fox.

Mr. PITT, in defence of the motion, observed, that from the
lateness of the hour, and having but little inclination to go
much at length into a question which had been already so fully
discussed, it was not his intention to detain the House for any-
great length of time ; and, indeed, the very able manner in
which his honourable friends had already argued it, rendered it
unnecessary for him to say much. The right honourable gentle-
man* commenced, and had concluded, his speech, by holding
out, as an incontrovertible argument, that the measures at
present necessarily adopted by administration, would impair
materially, if not totally destroy, the constitution of this coun-
try ; a mode of reasoning that he could never suffer to pass
without a reply. Pursuing that strain of argument, the honour-
able gentleman had pronounced, in terms of unrivalled eloquence,
a most pathetic funeral oration on the supposed departed liber-
ties of British subjects, which he had stated as having expired
with the introduction of the present bill — a bill, in his mind,.
nothing worse, or more dangerous in its consequence, than what
had been known, from the experience and practice of our an-
cestors, to be a wise and proper measure, when the existing
circumstances of the country demanded such a measure, and
required that the hands of the executive government should be
strengthened. That necessity, however difficult it might be to
convince that honourable gentleman of its existence, he trusted,
had been fully made out to the House, and to all those who had
given themselves the trouble of bestowing the slightest consider-
ation on the subject ; and such necessity having been proved to
exist, it came then to be considered, whether the danger was

Mr. Fox.

of sufficient magnitude to justify the suspension of the Habeas
Corpus act, which, properly speaking, was the only question
for consideration before the House. That measure, he granted,
was of considerable importance ; it was a remedy only to be ap-
plied when the emergency was so great as really to call for it.
The fair question, therefore, which gentlemen were to put to
their own minds, was simply this, Whether the danger with
which the constitution of the country was threatened by the
practices now exposed, was, or was not, greater than any dan-
ger which could result from putting into the -lianas of the execu-
tive government, a more than ordinary degree of power, for
the purpose of resisting what they considered, and what parlia-
ment considered, a very dangerous conspiracy ? The honour-
able gentleman had carried his argument so Far as to say, that if
the bill passed, all the rights of the people, and all the privileges
of parliament, would be at once destroyed—a doctrine which' e
could never admit, by whatever ability or eloquence it might
be supported. On that point it was important for the consider-
ation of the House, a point which had not yet been touched on
by any of those who had argued the question, that the 'bill was
limited in its duration ; that it was but a temporary measure,
adapted to a present existing evil, and was to continue in force
for little more than six months ; and that it invested the exe-
cutive government with a temporary discretionary power, to
imprison suspected persons for that limited time, without bring-
ing them to trial;—all the rights of the people, and all the privi-
leges of parliament, remaining uninterruptedly the same, attach-
ing all the time the same responsibility upon ministers to which
they were liable in every other situation in which they acted,
and equally answerable for any abuse of this power, if they
should abuse it, as they were for the abuse of any other discre-
tionary-power which was vested in them, Stating the question
in that view, which -was the real and proper state of it, could
any gentleman think that all the liberties of the subject, and all
the privileges of parliament, would be so completely, annihilated
by the 'bill, as to make it a question, whether a member of

D 2

MR. RIMS ' [MAT 17.

parliament, ought, or ought not,-to give up his attendance in par-
liament,or the interest of his constituents? He would not do those
honourable gentlemen the injustice to suppose that any of them
thought so for a moment ; and it would not be doing justice to

.their own characters, were they to make any such declaration.
The right honourable gentleman, and those who argued on the

same side with him, had contended, that in this, and other
measures of government, there appeared a strong imitation of
the French system of procedure : upon what grounds they
knew best : hitherto they had never taken the trouble of ex-
plaining them to the House. Wherein was the comparison to be
found? He begged gentlemen to attend a little to the com'para-
tive state of the two countries. Here a case had been stated,
and dearly made out, proving that there was a party in this .
country, whose avowed system aimed at the destruction of all
civilised order, the annihilation of parliament, and the subver-
sion of the constitution, by the introduction of Jacobinism,
which had already proved so fatal to France, and at that
moment threatened the dissolution of every established govrrn-
merit in Europe ! Such being the case in this country, it was •
proposed to prevent the calamitous effects of this dangerous
conspiracy, by the adoption of a legal measure, limited in its
duration, and which the experience and wisdom of our ancestors
had approved, and found highly beneficial. What, then, was
to be compared to this in the situation of France, under the
influence of the present ruling power in that country, miscalled.,
a government ?— a power which, to support its reprobated, de-
testable, and. presumptuous usurpation, had recourse to every
stratagem that fraud, robbery, and injustice could suggest. It
was, therefore, unfair to impose any such comparisons upon -
the House ; for, in the present instance, we were doing no more
than resisting French crimes, by opposing to them English prin-
ciples; and between them it would not be said, there could be
found the least comparison, analogy, or imitation. The right
honourable gentleman had next proceeded, in the climax of his
imagination; to augur consequences the most portentous, omi-


nous, and inauspicious, from the arguments of ....the right
4onourable gentleman * who sat near him ; and, taking that to
be the first step of the ladder which he supposed reared for the
destruction of the constitution, seemed dreadfully afraid about
the extent to which that reasoning might be carried ; and on
that point he bad produced somewhat of an extraordinary kind
of argument, which was, that, because all the measures which
had yet been taken had proved ineffectual to check the progress
of the evil they had been applied to remedy, we were not thfre-
fore to persevere in endeavouring to overcome the evil by the
application of means stronger and more efficacious. But here
it might be asked, whether, if those measures had not been
adopted, and the vigilance of government exerted, the evils
complained of might not have been much greater now than they
really were ? and whether, if no such steps had been taken
during the last two years, we should have enjoyed the same tran-
quillity that had prevailed during that period ? The fact was, if
these measures had not been adopted, we should have been
hurried much faster to the same scenes of mischief which had'
now been opened to our view, and from the dreadful conse-
quences of-which we had been saved by the vigilance of parlia-
ment, and the exertions of government, assisted by the prevailing.
opinions of the country.

The right honourable gentleman had then said, that if we•
dreaded all that our alarms had suggested, and found that 'the
Measures adopted last year had

- not succeeded in checking those
parties, we ought not to persevere by more severe measures,
when there was reason to think that such measures had been of
little avail, and that those of a cooler and more moderate nature
would have been more adequate : but to what did the right
honourable gentleman mean to apply those mild and moderate
remedies ? Did he suppose that the progress of a Jacobin con-
vention, were it to be once established in this country, was to 'be
stopped, and its consequences avoided by indulgence and con-

'4- Mr. Windham.





cession ? or that indulgence and concession were fit to be applied
as a remedy to so daring an attempt upon the existence of
the constitution ? He might wish to preserve the British con-
stitution, but that would be a thing impossible, if these societies
met with indulgence or concession. Their own language clearly
expressed, that they would make no compromise ; and it must
be clear that no concession would satisfy them, short of a surren-
der of the British constitution. It must therefore appear that
resistance, and the strongest resistance that could be made, was
absolutely necessary, notwithstanding all that had been augured
in so prophetic a strain against the adopt ion of severe measures,
even in extreme cases. The right honourable gentleman had
said, " if there are such persons, to be sure you cannot like them ;
but never imagine that persecution' will get the better of their
opinions, whatever they may be." If such toleration of opinions
ought to be granted to persons of the description which the
members of those societies proved to be, to what did it amount?
It amounted to a toleration of the worst species of anarchy,
sedition, and treason. In his idea of persecuting for political
opinions, the right honourable gentleman need not suppose that
there was any particular intention, by that bill, to go too
great a length in that way ; and, once for all, to answer the
question of " where are you to stop ?" It was not proper
that the limit of their remedies should be ever declared, or that
they should pronounce that this was the last remedy to which
they would have recourse: he would at the same time say, that
prosecution, in no instance, ought to extend beyond what the
real necessity of the case required : and the temporary means
proposed by the present bill might be supposed the best remedy
in the present case.

Mr. Pitt said, he should next come to those points on which
the right honourable gentleman seemed to have argued at a
much greater _length than he thought necessary, viz. the degree
of necessity,that existed, the proofs of that necessity, and the na-
ture of the remedy applied to the case. Upon these several points,
he conceived, the House was already perfectly satisfied; and he


could see no reason why the right honourable gentleman should
have-introduced into that part of his speech, so much in favour
of the right which the people had to meet for legal purposes in
a constitutional- way, or their right to petition parliament for a
reform in the representation, because these were points which
had never been disputed, and had no conneciion whatever with
the question before the House. With regard to the policy of
such an application to parliament, when that question came
regularly before the House last year, he had fully declared his
sentiments on that subject, and on a parliamentary reform, and
his opinions still remained the same : but, surely, no person
would presume to say, that there existed the most remote ana-
logy between legal societies for obtaining reform in parliament,
with an intention and desire legally and constitutionally to im-
prove the representation, and that convention proposed by the
Jacobin societies, whose object was the destruction of parlia-
ment, and not its improvement. That that was their design, was
clearly proved by the authority of their own records : the bulk
of them did not even pretend that reform was either their view
or their wish ; such a measure was neither in their mouths, nor
in their minds ; neither did their actions iu any sort correspond
with the actions of men who wished well to their country. To
give . any sanction to them, under the impression that their
object was a legal and constitutional reform, was too ridiculous
an idea to admit even of a moment's consideration : as well
might they talk of giving their sanction to legal conspiracy and
legal assassination, as imagine that those societies had any legal
or virtuous purpose whatever in their system ! [To corroborate
this argument, the Chancellor of the Exchequer read various
extracts from the proceedings of the Society for Constitutional
Information, and the London Corresponding Society.] ;These
societies were, he said, the main springs ofthis destructive system,
which called aloud for such immediate and such powerful resist-
ance. What he had read from their own books; proved suffi-
ciently, in his mind, that it was through hypocrisy they pretended
their object was a parliamentary reform, and that they used




it merely as a pretext or mask for their real and mischievous
designs; and the papers inserted in their report were, in his
opinion, a full and complete answer to such gentlemen as endea-
voured to confound those men with parliamentary reformers,
and served also to refute the charge made by those who had
insisted that the report contained no new matter whatever. In
one of their proceedings they appointed a committee for the
express purpose of watching over the conduct of parliament, with
a view to control any proceeding which might appear to them
improper ; and that they were to effect through the organ of a
convention, expressing at the same time, that as no redress of
grievances could be expected from that quarter, it became their
duty to repel tyranny by the same means by which it was sup-
ported. On that point he- could not but express his surprise at
hearing the same arguments used by that right honourable gen-
tleman which had been used on a former night, respecting the
right which existed in the people at large to watch over the pro-
ceedings of parliament, and to interfere when any measure was
going which they might conceive inimical to their inte-
rests. What most astonished him was, that any argument of
that sort should be offered as a palliation for the conduct of that
society ; since, after the union with the other in the same sys-
tem, and for the same objects, they avowedly came to resolu-
tions, that they should not appeal to parliament for redress of
their supposed grievances, but were to proceed to acts of autho-
rity and control over the functions of parliament.•

With regard to nothing new being contained in the report, it
was in itself a matter of indifference, whether the information
contained in it was old or new, provided it was considered to
substantiate the grounds upon which the alarm had taken place.
However, in point of fact, they were not old proofs which it
contained ; for, until the seizure of the papers, the correspon-
dence with the club at Norwich was never known ; and that was
one of the most important discoveries that those papers con-
tained, as it had brought to light the general design of assem-
bling their Jacobin convention. As to what was known two


years ago, could any person say, that these transactions were
unconnected with the subsequent and progressive proceedings of
those societies, and that they did not form a very material link
of that chain of conduct which it was necessary to trace from its
first commencement down to the present moment ? One part of
the report, however, the right honourable gentleman had admitted
to be new ; that which stated that these societies were preparing
to put arms into the hands of those who were to carry their
designs into execution. That article of the report had been some-
what curiously objected to, that, not being in the body of the

• report, but given as a separate article, it was therefore less
authentic. In answer to which he should mention, that that
piece of information was cautiously given, because the com-
mittee, at the time their report was made up, had not been able
to make so full an inquiry into that matter as the importance of
the subject demanded ; they, however, were now convinced,
that they would very soon be in possession of such information
as might lead them to propose to parliament some further mea-
sures on that article. Another reason they had for making it
a separate article, was, that the full information contained in
the report respecting the intended convention, was in their
minds sufficient to warrant the proceedings intended to be
founded thereon.

As to the propriety of the remedy, without again recurring
to the arguments used against persecution for matters of opi-
nion, he would shortly say, the remedy amounted to nothing
else than putting a legal restraint upon criminal actions ; and
the present crime amounted, in his opinion, to a conspiracy of
that nature, which was an equal, if not a stronger, reason for
the suspension of the Habeas, Corpus act, than either the cases
of invasion or rebellion, to which gentlemen had so frequently
alluded. The right honourable gentleman seemed very

to doubt the good effects of the bill, and that it would never
attain the object for which it was intended:

the opinion of the

persons who composed those societies seemed to differ essen-
tially from his, and they considered it in a different point of

4.2 MR. PITT'S [MAY 30.

view ; for they had declared the suspension of the Habeas Corpus
act the very measure which should be the signal for them to
assemble their convention, and on that account it became the
more necessary for parliament to pass the bill quickly, to pre-
vent them from taking measures to evade its operation.

With regard to the measure being likely to invite the French
to invade us, the right honourable gentleman had spoken nobly
and boldly on that head, when he said, that he did not fear an
invasion, but would not invite one ; a4,14 in that sentiment he
perfectly concurred: but the material difference between them
was, that he believed the effect on the French would be quite
the reverse from what he supposed, for certainly the suppression
of our enemies at home would be no very welcome intelligence
to our enemies abroad. But however that might be, with
regard to the disaffected persons in this country, whatever their
numbers were, it was proper the vigilant exertions of govern-
ment should equal their. activity.

The House divided on Mr. Jekyll's motion of adjournment; which
being rejected,

Ayes 53
Noes 18:5

the bill was read a third time, and passed. '4


May 30. 1794.

Mr. Fox, pursuant to the notice he had given, this day submitted to the
House a series of resolutions (fourteen in number), reviewing the past
proceedings of the war, and setting forth the measures that ought in-
stantly to be adopted for promoting, on equitable and moderate
conditions, a pacification with France.

Mr. Sheridan, in supporting these resolutions, took occasion to com-
ment, in very severe terms, upon the conduct of Administration. He
charged them with being the authors of a system of alarm calculated to
deceive and insnare the people, and maintained that the traitorous

This debate, which was conducted with unusual warmth, lasted till
three o'clock the following morning (Sunday).

designs, which had been pointed at in the report of the Secret Com-
mittee, were fabulous plots and forged conspiracies, originating solely in
the foul imagination of 1-fis Majesty's Ministers.

Ma. PITT :

I do not feel it necessary, on the present occasion, or in the
present stage of the debate, to trouble the House for any length
of time, for the same reason that I had, in the first instance,
conceived that it would be unnecessary for me to trouble them
at all. The substance of the question, and of the arguments
brought in support of it, is, as was stated by the right honour-
able mover of' the resolutions, certainly old. The honourable
gentleman''', however, who spoke last, has contrived to intro-
duce a considerable deal of novelty into the latter part of his
speech. I will not say that the matter which he thus intro-
duced, was not connected with the question : had it not been
connected with the question, you, Sir, would undoubtedly have

.called him to order. 1 could easily, however, account for the
principle on which you were restrained from doing so, when I
recollect that on a former occasion you stated, that any argument,
however bad or absurd, does not therefore become disorderly.
It is possible that an argument may have some connection though
it be not such as can evidently be received in the first instance, and
certainly it will be allowed, with respect to the honourable gentle-
man, that he is possessed of such ingenuity as to bring together

argument, however incongruous, that may suit his purpose,
and give it an appearance of

• connexion with the question. What.
then was the amount of his arguments ? That you ought to dis-
continue .the war, because it afforded the means of fabricating
plots in this country. The honourable gentleman thought proper,
without the smallest regard either to probability or decency, to
assert that plots had been fabricated, and that these plots had
no foundation except in the foul imagination of ministers. The
abuse of that honourable gentleman has been too often repeated
to have any degree of novelty with me, or to be entitled to any
degree of i

mportance, either with myself, or any other of my

Mr. Sheridan.




honourable friends, who may occasionally happen to be its ob-
jects. But I must own, that there is some degree of novelty
"indeed in this mode of attack against a report originating from
twenty-one members, to whose character for honour and in-
tegrity I will not do any injury by comparing it with the quar-
ter from which the attack was made —

[Being here called to order by Mr. Courtenay, for an improper and
uncalled-for attack upon the character of his honourable friend (Mr.
Sheridan), the Speaker interfered, and allowed that the expressions
were disorderly, however they might have arisen from the node of at-
tack which had been irregularly adopted by the honourable gentleman
(Mr. Sheridan) in the first instance.

Mr. Sheridan rising to speak, Mr. Pitt proceeded :

Except the honourable gentleman rises for a motion of order
I certainly, as having been already before the House, am en-
titled to be heard. [Here Mr. Sheridan sat down.] I beg leave
to say, that I must always bow with deference to any interrup-
tion from you, Sir, whose regard to the dignity and impartiality
in conducting the business of this House is upon every oc-
casion so evident, and whenever interrupted for any expression
that, may appear disorderly, and may have escaped me in the
heat of debate, I most readily make my apology, where alone
it is due, to you and to the House. Still, however, I must be
permitted to add, that the language of the honourable gentle-
man whose observations I was called upon to answer, was
neither within the rules of-parliamentary debate, nor of parlia-
mentary decency.

I was proceeding, when interrupted, to state, that the
honourable gentleman had argued, that , the discontinuance
of the war would put an end to those proceedings of a com-
mittee of this House, which he has chosen to brand with
Such coarse and indiscriminate censure. The question is not
merely, whether his mode of attack is fair and candid with -
respect to the individuals composing that committee ; but how
far it is proper to be adopted, when their report has already
been received by this House, and been made the foundation.

or a measure now sanctioned by the three branches of the
legislature — the suspension of the Habeas Corpus act. The
preamble of that measure states the existence of that plot, as
recognised from the investigation of a committee, and the
spection of voluminous papers, which the honourable gentle-
man has chosen to brand as the fabrication of ministers. But
why has he introduced this subject, apparently so little con-
nected with the question ? In order, as it appears, to give an
account of a transaction, of which, I declare, till this night, I
knew nothing *: as little am I acquainted with the dissemina-
tion of those inflammatory papers of which.so much has been
said by the honourable. gentleman. I have, indeed, for these
few days past, been engaged with the examination of papers,
but papers very different from those alluded to by the honour-
able gentleman. These papers, voluminous in their size, form
the records of those societies, whose proceedings have attracted
the notice of government. They contain materials of a nature
very interesting indeed, and with which this house will speedily
be acquainted. When these materials shall be brought forward,
it will then appear, whether there is any real ground for alarm,
or for supposing the existence of that plot which has been
stated : I shall only desire the House to compare what shall

. I* Mr. Sheridan, in the course of his speech, had complained of certain
liberties, which he conceived had been taken with his character as a
Member of that House. —" Suppose," continued Mr. Sheridan, " a great
magistrate of the city, robed in the ensigns of his office, not lightly over
a glass of wine, or after a good dinner, but solemnly and gravely in the
court with his brother aldermen, should declare that a member of par
liament, by name Mr. Sheridan, would he sent to the Tower within two
months, provided the Habeas Corpus act were suspended, and should
back his assertion with a bet, and so considerable a bet as one hundred
and twenty guineas to six,— would you think this a light or trivial mat-
ter ? And would not gentlemen suppose that such a magistrate, from
his known connection with administration, had some authority for saying
so beyond his own ideas as a private man? It would not be orderly to
name the honourable magistrate; but if he be in the House, he pro-
bably may be known by a gold chain which he wears."



MR. PIT T'S [MAY 30.

appear upon the face of the report of their committee with what
has been asserted by the honourable gentleman, as having been
mode use of by a respectable member of this House.* I am sur-
prised that it could ever have appeared in any other light than
as an expression of levity. The honourable gentleman, how-
ever, thinks otherwise. From the serious view in which he has
taken it up, it appears that a conspiracy cannot be going abroad,
but he immediately takes guilt to himself. If his jealousy be
indeed so wakeful, and his fears so easily excited, in all proba-
bility the bet which he has mentioned with respect to himself,
may be a fair speculation.

In one point of view I must indeed thank the honourable_
gentleman for having introduced the topic of the state of the
country, and the existence of plots, however irrelevant it might
seem to the subject of debate. However irrelevant it might
seem, as introduced by him, it is certainly highly in our favour.
For if, from the result of the report of your committee, it shall
appear that there is ground to suppose that there has existed
a system in this country, (and indeed no country in Europe has
been exempted from its effects,) to introduce French principles
for French purposes, and by French means; if the same system
may be traced all over the tontinent, and there shall be found
to be the most striking coincidence, both in the object aimed
at, and the means by which it has been prosecuted ; if the
whole shall be clearly imputable to the present government of
France, and be calculated every where to produce the same
effects, which we have witnessed in that country, it must then
be admitted, that nothing less than the subversion of that
jacobin government, which has been contended for by my
.honourable friend t, can be adequate to the purposes of the war.
The present, indeed, is not a contest for distant, or contin-
gent objects ; it is not a contest for acquisition of territory ; it
is not a contest for power and glory ; as little is it carried on
merely for any commercial advantage, or any particular form
of government ; but it is a contest for the security, the tran-

,*-Tke Lord Mayor. 1- Mr. Jenkiuson.


quillity, and the very existence . of Great Britain, connected
with that of every established government, and every country
in Europe. This is the view of the nature of the war, upon
which this House has acted in its former decisions. It is a view
confirmed by the experience of every day, and of every hour ;
it is a. view which the events of the present moment have tended
still more strongly to impress upon the minds Of gentlemen of
this House, this moment which has been chosen of all others in
order to induce us to abandon our principles, and reverse our
decisions. .

I do not think it necessary to comment at length upon the
string of resolutions brought forward by the right honourable
gentleman.* They are evidently introduced for the express
purpose of recording upon the journals -of this House the opi-
nions of that right honourable gentleman with respect to the
nature, the objects, and the probable events of the war—opi-
nions which he has brought forward both in the course of the
present and of the former session. The substance of all his
resolutions may be reduced to two, to each of which, now that
I am upon my legs, I shall feel it necessary to say a very few
words. The right honourable gentleman, in a speech more
distinguished by its length and ability, than by any additional
matter or novelty of argument, divided the whole subject into
three or four periods, in order to prove that the subversion of
the jacobin government was inconsistent with the former pro.,
fessions of this government, and in its own nature impolitic
and impracticable. In order to prove his assertion, the right
honourable gentleman began with adverting to the professions
of neutrality, held out on the part of this country previous
to the declarations, and to the negotiations set on foot, in
order to secure the continuance of peace. To this part of his
argument, the answer of my honourable friend was so full and
satisfactory, as to require on my part no addition. I have
only to state, along with him, that it is not every provocation
which justifies a war. The French -revolution might not, in.

Mr. Fox.




the first instance, appear to be so great an evil, as it has .
since evinced itself to be. It might not be discovered-to have
such pernicious effects as have since unfolded themselves to our
view. The extent to which it carries the principle of propagat-
ing its doctrines by fire and sword is now, however, no longer a
matter of doubt. The principle is rendered still- more danger-
ous by the means which it possesses for carrying in into effect.
Can we, then, be supposed to be pledged to the same line of
conduct in the present moment, which, in the first instance, we
might have deemed it prudent to adopt ? In proportion as the
extent of the evil discloses itself, does not there arise a neces-
sity for increased means of resistance? The right honourable,
gentleman stated, that even subsequent to the memorable period
of the 10th of Angust, we continued our professions of neu-
Arality, though we thought proper to break off all intercourse
with the French nation on account of their conduct to ,the
sovereign. Of the principles upon which that intercourse was
broken off, the House have already expressed their decided
approbation ; and can they then, with regard either to the dig-
nity of their character, or the consistency of their principles,
renew, in a time of war, that intercourse which they thought
proper, on such solid grounds, to break off in time of peace ;
and at a time too, when, I contend, that the attempt to re-
new such intercourse would be as impotent as it would be dis-

The right honourable gentleman stated, that the objects first
held out for the war on the part of this country, .were the
breach of treaty by the French with respect to the Scheldt, and
the views of aggrandisement which they disclosed in seizing
upon the territory of the neighbouring powers. So far I admit
he has stated justly ; but when he says that. all idea of inter-
ference with the government of France was entirely dis-
claimed, he states what is not the fact. — Such an interference,
I grant, was- not precisely stated; it was, however, referred
to, even in the first instance. And, in proof of this asser-
tion, I refer to the following passage in His Majesty's mes-


sage, brought down to this House so early as the 28th of
January, 170.

" the present situation of affairs, His Majesty thinks it
indispensably necessary to make a farther augmentation of his
forces by sea and land, for maintaining the security and rights
of his own dominions, for supporting his allies, and for opposing
views of aggrandisement and ambition on the part of France,
which would be at all times dangerous to the general interests
of Europe, but are particularly so, when connected with the
propagation of principles which lead to the violation of the
most sacred duties, and are utterly subversive of the peace anti
order of all civil society."

Such was the language even then adopted by His Majesty,
and re-echoed in the answer of this House to that message. A
few days after, came the declaration of war on the part' of
the French. What were the sentiments I expressly declared in
the course of the last session, I refer to the recollection of every
member present. A few days previous to the close of last
session, the right honourable gentleman came forward with a
motion precisely similar in nature and effect to the resolutions
which he has this day proposed to the House. I then stated,
that while the existing system continued in France, we could
have but little hope of obtaining a peace upon solid and perma-

. neat grounds; that, could a peace be obtained, I certainly
should not consider the continuance of the system, as itself; an
Objection. At the same time I Expressly assured the House that
the prospect of affairs was such as not to afford the smallest
ground of rational expectation of our ever being able to obtain
such a peace as we could either accept, or, for any length of
time, hope to enjoy, while France remained under the influence

of jacobin councils, and that the prospect of bringing the war
to a conclusion, as well as the security for any engagements
which we might form with France, must ultimately depend upon

dee d

the .destruction of those principles, which were hostile to jever,
regular - government, and subversive of all good faith. I as-
serted farther, that if an opportunity should occur, in which we



might interfere with advantage in the internal government of
France, we certainly should avail ourselves of every such oppor-
tunity, as an operation of the war. Had I, as the right honour-
able gentleman has contended, disclaimed all such interference
in the present war, I should have done what never has been done
in any former war. And I have only to remind the right
nourable gentleman, of what, upon a former occasion, was his
opinion with respect to an interference, which government found
necessary to make in the affairs of Holland. When we at-.
tempted to defend that measure upon the principles of justice,
he contended that. we proved too much, and that in order to
justify it, it was only necessary to show that it was for the inte-
rest of Great Britain. Upon what. principle, then, can he now
possibly urge that an interference, admitted in every former .
war, should become unjustifiable in the present, that cog-
menced, on the part of France, with an interference. against'
ourselves ?

Having supposed, then, that all idea of interference was dis-
claimed, the right honourable gentleman proceeded to bring
forward a charge of inconsistency, from the declaration of
Lord Hood, at Toulon, and that afterwards published by His
Majesty, addressed to the people of France. These declara-
tions, I affirm, are perfectly consistent. That of Lord Hood.
only promises protection to the people of Toulon, so far as he
could grant it, without specifying any particular form of govern-.
meat— they chose to pledge themselves to tile constitution of
1789. The declaration of His Majesty offers protection to all the
people of France who shall approve of an hereditary monarchy.
What, then, do the resolutions, prepared by the right honourable
gentleman, call upon you to do ?—to counteract all your former
sentiments—to abandon those principles to which you have
pledged yourselves— to rescind the measures which ,you have
solemnly adopted — and, after having displityed the extent of
your resources, and put into the hands of His Majesty means
for carrying on the war, to tell him that he shall not avail him,
self of those means, and abandon every resource, except that

of making peace with France. It is to require you, at the end
of the session, to make a recantation of all that you have clone
in every former part of it—to contradict all yotir former pro-
fessions, and to renounce opinions formed upon the most serious
deliberation, and confirmed by repeated acts. It is worthy of
remark, that, the gentlemen on the other' side, , who are so fond
of accusing others of inconsistency, take to themselves the
credit of supporting the war to a certain period. Beyond that
period they have stated they found it impossible to give it
any farther support, though I must observe, looking to their
general conduct, if the periods at which they gave it support,
and at which they thought necessary to withdraw it, were to be
transposed, the difference would be very inconsiderable. What
was the period, down to which they take the credit of having
given support to the war?—the passing of the French corps bill.
Then it was, it seems, that they first discovered that the present
was a war for the purpose of an internal interference in the
government of France. But it is of little consequence to this
House, what ,are the opinions of individuals, or what the pre-
tences which they may hold out. It is their business to con-
sider what has been their general line of conduct, and what
course they are bound to adopt on the present occasion, from
a regard . to the dignity of their character, and the consistency of
their measure's. In this point of view they will consider whether
they have this night heard any thing to induce them to deviate
from these principles, which they adopted on the most mature
deliberation. The right honourable gentleman, in order. to throw
discredit on the object of the war, has had recourse to a confu-
sion of argument, He chooses to confound the subversion of the
present jacobin government with the conquest of France, and
states, that we 'have in view nothing less than the entire subju-
gation of that country. He forgets that the objects are entirely
different : we have no desire to conquer France ; we wishonly
to free it from a system of tyranny equally oppressive to itself
and dangerous to its neighbours; which can, in the first in-
stance, • only exist by the misery of its subjects, and menaces

E 2



in its progress the destruction of every regular government,
but he states, as an argument against our success, that the force
of that government is in the present moment stronger than ever,
while he adds, however, by way of parenthesis, no matter whe-
ther by terror, or by whatever means. He seems to think that
the means by which that power is supported, have nothing to
do with the question. I contend that they form the whole ; since
on those means the permanence and stability of the government
must depend. If it is a power acquired by the influence of ter-
ror, and supported by a system of coercion, it is neither likely
to be solid nor lasting.

Another object which the right honourable gentleman has
urged, is, that even if you should succeed in subverting the
present government of France, such a measure would be in
itself impolitic, and could afford you no prospect of rational
advantage. What, says he, would you destroy a government'
before you have made up your minds what to substitute in its
stead ? Do you consider the consequence of again setting the
'minds of then adrift, and how can you be sure that the result
will be better than what you at present witness ? This is
exactly an illustration of the mode of argument adopted by the,
right honourable gentleman, who, consulting neither the policy
nor expediency of the particular question, is always addicted to
push his general principles to the extreme. You ought not,
says he, to subvert the present form of government, because,
if the French arc to be left to choose for themselves, you do not
know by what other form it may be succeeded, whether an ab-
solute or a limited monarchy, or a different species of republic.
In opposition to this reasoning, we can safely decide from ex-
perience of its effects, that any form of government which
succeeds the present, founded upon jacobin principles, though.
not the best, must be comparatively good. But as a reason
why we ought not to seek the subversion of this jacobin govern-
ment, or be apprehensive of danger from its existence, tl:e

right honourable gentleman has stated, that it has been found
perfectly possible for opposite governments to exist together,


without interfering with each other. I grant that this is per-
fectly possible with respect to any established government,
however defective, acting upon certain rules, and from certain
principles. But I cannot admit that it is the case with respect
to a system such as the present established in France, a system
such as never existed before in any country, and to which no
analogy can be found in the history of . mankind ; a system
admitting of no modification of its vices, excluding all principles,
and bearing in itself the seeds of hostility to every regular go-

. vernment ; a system not possessing the means of power for the
protection of its subjects, but usurping them for their oppres-
sion. Such a system presents no remedy for its vices, or hope
of security to its neighbours, but in its entire subversion. On
all these grounds I trust that the policy, consistency, and ne-
cessity of a vigorous prosecution of the war, will still appear to
remain unimpeached.

I have only a few words to say to that resolution of the right
honourable gentleman, which suggests that we ought to aim at
peace . by negotiation. In desiring us to have recourse to nego-
tiation, he contends, that we have at least nothing to apprehend
from the experiment, even if it should fail, and that to propose
terms can surely be attended with no harm. The answer of my
'honourable friend* to this part of his argument was so full
and satisfactory, as to render it unnecessary for

me to add any

thing farther. My honourable friend stated, in the clearest
manner, the little hope we could have of success in any nego-
tiation from the nature of the jacobin system, and the cha-
racter of the present French rulers, and the still less security
which we should have for the performance of any engagement
into which they might enter. But the question is not merely
whether these persons, now at the head of affairs in France,
would be disposed to treat with us, or Whether we could have
:my security for any peace which we might make with thew
We are to recollect, that while that system, with which we now

* Mr. Jenkinson.

MR. Pars [MA,/ SO.

contend, continues in France, we can have no peace upon any
terms short of absolute ruin and dishonour ; and that, by an ex-
press law of the constitution, any Frenchman who should pro-
pose to treat with us, except upon the conditions of abandoning
our most sacred principles and our dearest rights, of surrender-
ing our constitution, dethroning our virtuous monarch, and
consenting to introduce into this country that horrible system
of anarchy which they propose to our imitation, is declared a
traitor. What, then, becomes of the argument of the right
honourable gentleman, that even if we should enter into nego-
tiation, no harm could possibly be attendant upon our failure ?
Have we not reason to suppose, that by those who avow such
principles, the terms which we should propose would most
certainly be rejected? And what, then, would be the conse-
quence ? By entering into negotiation we should have dissolved
that confederacy, on which we can alone depend for success
against the common enemy. To the French we should have
given confidence and vigour ; and, baffled in our expectations of
peace, should ourselves be again obliged to have recourse to
war, When war was found to be our only alternative, and when
we had deprived ourselves of the means for its vigorous pro-

The acquisition of the West-India islands, the right honour-
able gentleman affirmed, was but of little consequence, as to
attaining the object of the war—the subversion of the jacobin
government of Paris. I grant that it may appear of little con-

. sequence as to its immediate effects : but may it not be supposed
to have a collateral influence ? Is it indeed of little consequence
in the first year of the war to cut up their resources, and destroy
the sinews of their commerce ? Is the injury to their revenue
less fatal, though, from the monstrous and gigantic expedients
of finance to which they have had recourse, it may not, in the first
instance, be perceived ? Is it of little consequence to us in the
prosecution of a war for which we do not ourselves possess sutii-
cient military force, and in aid of which we must have recourse
to our pecuniary resources, thus to procure the means of increas-

1 2


int.; these resources, by extending our commerce, and opening
new sources of industry ? When the .right honourable gentle-
man, then, represents the loss of these West-India.islands as but
little felt, or altogether contemned, by the French, what obviously
is the inference ? Is it not that the government which can suffer
such a limb . to be torn from the empire without shrinking, which
can view with indifference and unconcern the sinews of its coin-
merce destroyed, and the sources of permanent revenue annihi-
lated, can have but little interest or feeling in common with its
subjects ? If, indeed, we can suppose that the French govern-
ment could see the danger of their colonies without. fear, and
submit to their loss without regret, it would only be a proof that
they had become callous from desperation. Yet after the right
honourable gentleman has represented these islands -as consi-
dered but of little consequence by the convention, how does lie
proceed to argue ? He considers them in one respect import-
ant, as they may be employed by you as valuable media of nego-
tiation that is, lie proposes to you to give up acquisitions which
are highly valuable to you, as a bribe to induce those who de-
spise them, to abandon their favourite project.

• But if the right honourable gentleman should not succeed in
prevailing upon you to adopt any of his resolutions which go to
Offer terms of negotiation, still he has one resolution of a dtf-
ferent nature : he calls upon you, by an explicit declaration, to
prescribe the precise form of government which you mean to
insist should be adopted in France. This strange proposition
he clothes indeed in elegant language : in that case, says he, you
certainly would have .

fewer friends, but then they would be more
sincere. What is the case ? That at present there are a great
many of different opinions with respect to the form of government
which they would wish to see established, but who, equally dis-
approving of the present horrible system, are prepared to concur
with you for its destruction. These, whom it

oue-ht to be your

object to unite and concentrate, he calls upon you, by this reso-
lution, to alienate and disperse ; a resolution too, which goes
beyond the line of your policy, inasmuch as your object is the




subversion of a system incompatible with your interest, and with
the security of' Europe: and that once effected, the government
that shall he deemed most proper to succeed will then naturally
become the object of modification to the different parties. I am
the more surprised that such a resolution should have come from
the right honourable gentleman, as an honourable friend* of his
had stated as a principle, and it is the only part of his speech
in which I can agree with him, " That seldom has any nation
laid down a peremptory declaration, from which it has not found
it necessary at some time or other to recede." I am astonished,
indeed, that the right honourable gentleman, who so much dis-
approves of all idea of internal interference in the government
of another country, should himself, by this resolution, carry the
principle so far— to a length greatly beyond the line of our po-
hey, and that object, which by our interference we propose to
ourselves. It is not, in fact, more inconsistent with our prin-

than with his own : you could not adopt it without repro-
bating those sentiments which have been so often maintained by
the right honourable gentleman ; nor could he himself vote for
it without giving up all his former opinions on the subject. This
last resolution, - therefore, I cannot deem more admissible than
the others it is not less incongruous in point of policy, than
the former were repugnant to all those principles with respect to
the present contest so solemnly adopted, and so repeatedly sane-.
tioned by this House.

Upon a division, the previous question, which had been moved by
Mr. Jcnkinson, was carried;

Ayes 208
Noes 57

. Mr. Sheridan.


December 30. 1794.

DEBATE on the address in answer to His Majesty's most graciotu
speech* on opening the session

An amendment to the address being moved by Mr. Wilberforce,
" advising His Majesty to order a negotiation for peace on such terms,
'as should be deemed just and reasonable,"

Mr. PITT delivered his sentiments to the following effect :
I should not have so much endeavoured, Sir, to have en-

gaged your attention at the present moment, bad not a sudden
indisposition seized me, which I was apprehensive might, at a
later hour, have incapacitated me from entering fully into the

illy Lords and Gentlemen,
" After the uniform experience which I have had of your zealous

regard for the interests of my people, it is a great satisfaction to me te,
recur to your advice and assistance, at a period which calls for the full
exertion of your energy and wisdom.


" Notwithstanding the disappointments and reverses which we have
experienced in the course of the last campaign, I retain a firm convic-
tion of the necessity of persisting in a vigorous prosecution of the just
and necessary war in which we are engaged.

" You will, I am confident, agree with sue, that it is only from firm-
ness and perseverance that we can hope for the restoration of peace on
safe and honourable grounds, and for the preservation and permanent'
security of our dearest interests.

" In considering the situation of' our enemies, you will not fail to
observe, that the efforts which have led to their successes, and the un-
exampled means by which alone those efforts could have been supported,
have produced among themselves the pernicious effects which were to
he expected; and that every thing which has passed in the interior of
the cotmtry, has shown the progressive and rapid decay of their re-
sources, and the,

instability of every part of that violent and unnatural
system which is equally ruinous to France, and incompatible with the
tranquillity of other nations.

" The'States-General of the United Provinces have nevertheless been
led, by a sense of-present difficulties, to enter•nto negotiations for peace
with the party now prevailing in that unhappy country. No established
government or independent state can, under the present circumstances,
derive real security from such negotiations. On our part, they could not


MR. PITT'S' [Dac. 30.

discussion of a question, upon which I must be supposed to feel
most anxious to deliver my sentiments.

I am aware, that there are some gentlemen with whom the
original opinions which they have expressed on the war, pre-

be attempted without sacrificing both our honour and our safety to an
enemy, whose chief animosity is avowedly directed against these kingdoms,

" I have therefore continued to use the most effectual means for the
further augmentation of my forces ; and I shall omit no opportunity of
concerting the operations of the next campaign with such of the powers
of Europe as are impressed with the same sense of the necessity of
vigour and exertion. I place the fullest reliance on the valour of my
forces, and on the affection and public spirit of my people, in whose
behalf I am contending, and whose safety and happiness are the objects
of my constant solicitude.

" The local importance of Corsica, and the spirited efforts of its in-
habitants to deliver themselves from the yoke of France, determined me
not to withhold the protection which they sought for; and I have since'
accepted the crown and sovereignty of that country, according to an
instrument, a copy of which I have directed to be laid before you.

" I have great pleasure in informing you, that I have concluded a
treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation, with the United States of
America, in which it has been my object to remove, as far as possible,
all grounds of jealousy and misunderstanding, and to improve an inter.
course beneficial to both countries. As soon as the ratifications shall "

' have been exchanged, I will direct a copy of this treaty to be laid be-
fore you, in order that you may consider of the propriety of making
such provisions as may appear necessary for carrying it into effect.

I have the greatest satisfaction in announcing to you the happy
event of the conclusion of a treaty for the marriage of my son the Prince
of Wales, with the Princess Caroline, daughter of the Duke of Bruns-
wick. The constant proofs of your affection for my person and family
persuade me, that you will participate in the sentiments I feel on an
occasion so interesting to my domestic happiness, and that you will
enable me to make provision for such an establishment, as you may
think suitable to the rank and dignity of the heir apparent to the crown
of these kingdoms."

" Gentlemen
of the house of Commons,

" The considerations which. prove the necessity of 'a vigorous pro-
secution of the war will, I doubt.not, induce you to make a timely and
ample provision for the several branches of tbe - public service, the esti-
mates for which I have directed to be laid before you. While I regret

vent me from entertaining any hopes of concurrence. But
there are other gentlemen, who, having supported the war at its
commencement , have been led, by the disastrous events of the
campaign, to change their former sentiments, and to withdraw
their former support. It. is with these gentlemen that I shall
consider myself more immediately at issue. And, Sir, I must
first make some remarks on the arguments which they have
drawn from the words of the address. To this address they
say that they cannot give their assent, because it pledges them
2:ever to make peace with the republican government of France.
I do not consider that it does so pledge them. It says only, that
with a government, such as the present government of France,
we cannot treat on terms that can be deemed secure. And, Sir,
where does there exist this imperious necessity to sue for peace ?
Are we sunk down and depressed to such an absence of hope,
and to such a want of resources ? If we were indeed so cala-
mitously situated — if we were indeed so devoid of hope, and
so deprived of resources—if the continuance of the war pro-
duced so intolerable a pressure, then, perhaps, we might consent
to a change of system. I am ready to confess, that I can conceive
an imaginary case of a peace being made with the govern-
ment of France, even in its republican form ; but I will fairly

the necessity of large additional burdens on my subjects, it is a just con-
solation and satisfaction to me to observe the state of our credit, com-
merce, and resources, which is the natural result of the continued
exertions of industry under the protection of a free and well regulated

" .51.9 Lords and Gentlemen,
" A just sense of the blessings now so long enjoyed by this country

will, I am persuaded, encourage you to make every effort, which can
enable you to transmit those blessings unimpaired to your posterity.

" I entertain a confident hope that, under the protection of Provi-
dence, and with a constancy and perseverance on our part, the principle
of social order, morality, and religion, will ultimately be successful
and that my faithful people will find their present exertions and sacri-
fices rewarded by the secure and permanent enjoyment of tranquillity at
home, and by the deliverance of Europe from the greatest danger kith
which it has been threatened since the establishment of civilised society."

MR. PITT'S [llEt. 30.

say also, that I have no idea of any peace being secure, unless
France return to the monarchical system. That there may,
however, be intermediate changes that may give the probability
of a peace with that country, even should it continue a republic;
I am ready to allow, though I certainly think that the monarchical
form of constitution is best for all the countries of Europe, and
most calculated to ensure to each of them general and indivi-
dual happiness. Considering myself, therefore, as I said before,
principally at issue with those who now, for the first time, dis-
sent from the prosecution of the war, I am content to deliver
my sentiments before I hear the arguments of some gentlemen,
who will probably enter into a more full, discussion than the
subject has yet received.

Sir, the reasons that have induced gentlemen to dissent from.
the prosecution of the war, seem to have possessed a considerable
influence on the manner in which they speak of the justice and
necessity of the war at its commencement ; and their language
is now fainter and feebler than I had reason to expect. Con-
tending, as these gentlemen and I did, with the new and mon-
strous systems of cruelty, anarchy, and impiety ; against those
whose principles trampled upon civilised society, religion, and
law—contending, I say, with such a system, I could not have
entertained the slightest expectation, that from them would have
proceeded such an amendment.

It has pleased inscrutable Providence that this power of
France should triumph over every thing that has been opposed
to it ! but let us not therefore fall without making any efforts to
resist it ;— let us not sink without measuring its strength. If
any thing could make me agree to retire from the contest, it
would be the consciousness of not being able to continue it. .I
would at least have no cause to reproach myself on the retro-
.spect. I would not yield till I could exclaim,

—Potuit qua plurima virtus
Esse, fait : tote certaturn est corpora regni.

If, Sir, I have expressed myself with more emotion than is


consistent with the propriety of debate, the particular situation
in which I stand, opposing and contesting the opinions of those,
with whom I have been, on all occasions, in almost all points,
fortunate enough to agree, will, I trust, excuse the warmth of
my feelings.

The arguments used by my honourable friend, in support of
his amendment, may be divided into two classes : The impolicy
of continuing the war, and the insecurity of peace. One of the
arguments which he uses in support of the impolicy of continu-
ing the war, is grounded on the recent changes that have taken
place in France. My' right honourable friend's speech was a
sufficient answer to that argument. The change that has taken
place in France is only the change of an attachment to a name,
and not to a substance. Those who havesucceeded to the govern-
ment since the fall of Robespierre, have succeeded to the same
sort of government. They adopt the same revolutionary
system ; and though they have made a more moderate use of
their power than Robespierre, yet they differ from him only
about as much as Robespierre did from Brissot, who incited
the war against this country. The present government, there-
fore, deserves no more the name of moderation than that
established by Brissot and his followers, who committed the
unprovoked aggression against Great Britain. The system of
the present governors has its root in the same unqualified rights
of man, the same principles of liberty and equality — prin-
ciples, by which they flatter the people with the possession of
the theoretical rights of man, all of which they vitiate and violate
in practice. The mild principles of our government are a
standing reproach to theirs, which are as intolerant as the-
rankest popish bigotry. Their pride and ambition lead them
not so much t6 conquer, as to carry desolation and destruction
into all the- governments of Europe. Have we any right, there-
fore, to suppose that victory and triumph can produce so great
a. change in their detestable principles, or that success is such.
a corrective. of all those vicious qualities that pervade their.
principles and their practice ?



MR. PITT'S [Dac. so.
Do the gentlemen who now desert the war, expect that a

peace can be obtained, of such a nature, as has been so well
described by my honourable friend'? Do they hope for a free
and useful commerce ? Do they expect that the armies on both
sides will he disbanded, and the fleets be called home ? Do
they mean to put an end to the traitorous correspondence act ?
I believe not. I can easily suppose that those gentlemen who
have, in an early part of the evening, so decidedly given their
opinion with respect to the late trials, and who have supposed all
the persons in this country to be so pure, as not even to be in-
fected by contact with jacobin principles, would foresee no
danger from a French alliance, and would look forward with
satisfaction to the consequences of such a measure. But such
is not the case with my honourable friends, who even, in such.
an event, talked of the necessity of additional precautions,
in order to guard the dignity of the crown, and preserve the-
tranquillity of the country. What, then, would be the rational
prospect of advantage to this country from a peace with an
enraged enemy, in which there could exist no confidence on
either side, but which must necessarily give rise to a state of
jealousy, suspicion, and constant armament ? How long would
this state of trouble or repose last ? How will you come to the
contest when it is renewed ? If you disband your armies, if
you diminish your force, you will then put an end to that
-Machine which, under the two first years of a war, can barely
be said to have been raised to a point high enough to try the
strength of the country. Disband your force, and see if' the'
same means and the same period can raise it again to the same
point. You will then be opposed in another war with a dimi-
nished military power to an enemy, who may have found it
as difficult to disband his armies, as you would find it difficult
to collect fresh forces. They will again be prepared to start
with the same gigantic resources, deriving fresh confidence from
the disposition which you had shewn to peace, and new vigour

fi Mr. Canning.


from the interval which had been afforded to hostilities. But
will that be all ? What assistance can you expect from the con-
tinental powers, if you dissolve the confederacy ? And can you
expect to assemble such a confederacy again ? Suppose the
enemy made an attack upon Holland, Prussia, Austria, Spain.,
and the states of Italy, or all or each of these ; on what grounds,
I would ask, could you rouse the spirit, or raise the 'vigour of'
this country again, when, from a sense of your inferiority, you
have before given up the contest at a period when the confede-
racy was at its height ? On the event of this night's debate,
may depend what shall be your future situation with respect to
your allies. If' you do not now proclaim your weakness, if you
do not renounce your prospects, you have still great hopes from
the alliance of Europe. Prussia, Austria, Spain, and the States
of Italy, are vet in such a situation that their assistance may be
looked to in carrying on the contest.

The honourable gentlemen who supported the amendment,.
disclaimed the language of fear ; they said they knew what
Great Britain could do, if once it was roused. What then is to
be inferred from all their former professions? Is this a business,
in which, after all, we were not serious ? Is this cause, which
has been admitted to involve not only the most important interests
of Great Britain, but the safety of Europe, and the order of
society, not considered to be of such a nature as requires all the
energies of the country ? What, then, is the greater necessity. to
which they looked? what the occasion on which they deemed
that they could more worthily employ their efforts ? If we
should dissolve the powerful confederacy with which we are now
united, could we hope again to bring it back at our summons?
and shall we not, in the case of a. fresh rupture, be exposed
alone to the fury of France, without the smallest prospect of
assistance from any other quarter ? Besides, I think I shall show
you that you are desired to relinquish the conflict, at a time
when all the national and artificial resources of your enemy are
verging to a rapid dissolution.

I must now take notice of a speculation which has been


that peace, under the present circumstances; is not desirable,
unless you can show that the . pressure is greater than, as 1 shall
prove to you from a comparative view of the situation and re-
sources of the two countries, it is.

But this is but a small part of my objections to the measure.
My next objection is, that my'honourable friend has not told
us what sort of peace we are to have : unless, therefore, they
state this, I say, that they would reduce Os to .a gratuitous loss
of honour, and -an unnecessary despair. On the kind of peace
we might obtain, I will ask my honourable friend, whether he
will say that we ought to leave the Austrian Netherlands in the
possession of the French ?— He will not say so.

I have heard it stated •In passing, that the ground of war has
been done away by the Dutch negotiation for peace. However
paradoxical it may appear, I assert that the safety of Holland,
even if she do make peace, depends on our being at war ; ..for
if both countries were at peace, then Trance would be left with-
out restraint. Who dolt looks to the proceedings of the con -
vention, does not see that it is their policy, on every occasion,
to keep up their:arrogant and menacing system, and -to hold a
high tone of superiority with respect to all other nations ? By
these means they have contrived to cherish that spirit of enthu-
siasm among the people, which has enabled them to make such
extraordinary exertions, and on which they depend for the
continuance of their power. But who, I would ask, will say
that France will make peace on terms; I will not make use of
the word moderation, but of concession, when you make peace
from a confession of her superiority ? And this naturally leads
me to an assertion made use of by me during the last session,
(an assertion not accurately alluded to by an honourable baro-
net *,) relative to the decree of the national convention of the
13th of April, which states, that the preliminary of peace must
be a recognition of the unity and indivisibility of the republic,
on the te-cms of equality: —a decree which has neither been -re-

Sir Richard Hill.


MR. PITT'S [DEC. 30,
indulged— that if you withdraw, France will return to some
more moderate system of government. I ask whether we ought
to put ourselves in such a situation of hazard, which, if de-
cided against us, would involve us in much greater calamities
than we have yet experienced, and would reduce us to a
situation in which we should be without means and without
resources ?

When it is said, therefore, that a peace will have the effect
to overthrow the government of France, the proposition is by
no means clear ; the probability is much greater, that the
persons now at the head of the government, will, in order to
continue their own power, (and in France it is to be recol-
lected, that the continuance of their power is connected with
that of their lives, so that in addition to the incentives of
ambition, they have the all-powerful motive of self-preserva-
tion,) be induced to continue the same system of measures that
now prevails. Obliged as they would be to recal a numerous
army from the frontiers, will the troops of whom it was com-
posed, after having tasted the sweets of plunder and the licence
of the field, be contented to return to the peaceful occupations
of industry ? Will they not, in order to amuse their daring-
spirit, and divert from themselves the effects of their turbulence,
be compelled to find them some employment? And what is the
employment to which they will most naturally direct their
first attention ? They will employ them to crush all the remains
of courage, loyalty, and piety, that are yet to be found in
France, and extinguish all that gallant and unhappy party, from
whose co-operation we May promise ourselves, at any future
period, to derive advantage. What else can be expected from
those Moderates, who, though assuming that appellation, have,
In succeeding to the party of Robespierre, only established
themselves on a new throne of terror ? Thus the peace
which is in the present instance proposed as the means of
safety, will ultimately only operate to insure the work of 1'

This being my feeling, my objection to asking for peace is,

6fi , MR. PITTS- [ITF,c. SU-

pealed nor modified, and which, if you make peace during ita
existence, would sign the dissolution of your parliaments and
of your present system of civil society.

Again, I say, that if this were only an ordinary war, and if
after two years you had gained the West-India islands as an
indemnification, and had been convinced of the strength of
your own resources, and that the means of the enemy were de-
caying, would you consent to make concessions in order to ob-
tain peace ? You received the West-India colonies into your
protection ; will you then give them back to a system, under
which they can have no protection ? I say we cannot do this
without being convinced that the further continuance of the war
could only produce misfortune, misery, and ruin. Will you
add something more terrific to the colonies than all the horrors
of that miserable trade which has peopled those miserable
colonies ?

Before, too, you made such a surrender, there is another
question to be considered: no less than whether you would
afford to the French an unresisted opportunity of working upon
the unfortunate system that now .prevails in that country, and
introducing their government of anarchy, the horrors of which
are even more dreadful than those of slavery. To those who
have in common deplored the miseries of the unfortunate no--
groes, it must appear astonishing, that any proposition likely
to be attended with such consequences, could ever enter into
the mind of' my honourable friend *. Besides, it is impos-
sible to ascertain what a wide-spread circle of calamity the
adoption of this proposition may produce. If once the prin-
ciples of jacobinism should obtain a footing in the French West-
India islands, could we hope that our own would be sate from
the contagion ? If it has been found scarcely possible to shut
out the infection of these principles from the well-tempered,
and variously blended orders of society which subsist in this
country, where a principle of subordination runs through all the

Mr. Wilberforce.


ranks of society, and all are united by a reciprocity of con-
nexion and interest, what may be expected to be their effects
operating upon the deplorable system pervading in that quarter?
It would be giving up your own colonies speedily to be devoted
to all the horrors of anarchy and devastation.

Such would be the status quo. That the status quo would
probably not be accepted, I have before argued. Will the
country, therefore, consign itself, if not to the language, at least
to the posture, of supplication ?

With respect to our situation, I have not heard it so fully
stated as it is my intention to do. Of the last campaign I shall
not be suspected of a wish to conceal the disasters, to deny
the defeats, or to disallow the bad effects of the wounds in-
flicted on the two great military powers of Europe. But can
I forget what the energies and perseverance of Britons have
effected in former wars ? Or that constancy from a point of
honour in greater difficulties has at length produced the object
at which it aimed ?

Will any man say, that the bare event of military disasters,
and territories taken, is a fair way of weighing the resources of
the belligerent powers ? No, not in any wars, and least of all
in this, as far as it relates to this country. All wars depend
now on the finances of the nations enaged in them. This ob-
servation particularly applies to the present war. The balance
of territorial acquisitions and pecuniary resources is in our fit-
y our; and I am not afraid to assert, that, putting together what
has been lost in territory and what has been spent in money,
vet with a view to resources, what has been lost by France
is more in point of permanent value and present means than
the losses of all the allies composed together.

What, let me ask, are the resources of France ? They
exist by means as extraordinary as the events they have
brought about —their pecuniary expenses are beyond any thing
ever known — and, supported by requisition of person, life,
and property, they depend entirely upon terror — every thing
that weakens that system, weakens their means, and as the

B 2



adoption of moderation saps it on one side, so the perseve-
rance in attack cannot but pull it down on the' other—take
every part of it, one by one, view their expenditure, and then
see,• whether terror is not the instrument by which they have
raised their extraordinary supplies, and obtained all their ur-
exampled successes.

Let us enter into a view of the actual expenditure
France. This expenditure, since the revolution, has amount-
ed to the enormous sum of four hundred and eighty millions,
spent since the commencement of the war. Three hundred
and twenty millions have been the price of the efforts that have
enabled them to wrest from the allies those territories which
are now in their possession. What your expenses have beer
during the same period, I need not state. I ask now, whethel
it is likely that France will see you exhausted first? I think not.
But it may be said, that what the French have spent provc•-
what they can spend. To this I reply, have they been enabled
to bear this expenditure by the increase of their revenue, • or
by any of the ordinary inetMs of finance? No : but by 'the
Creation of an unlimited paper-credit. I desire gentlemen tc
look at all the debates of the national convention, and they
will find that all the deputies agree in this point — that they
cannot. increase the emission of the paper-money without ruin_
and that the miseries arising from this system aggravate all tip,
calamities of the country. Many persons at first imagined flil-
assignats must have stopped early in 1793. The fact undoubt-
edly was, that, previously. to that period, it was thought the
emission was greater than France could bear, and that no fur-
ther creation could take place without producing a depreciation
on the value of assignats, and an immoderate increase in the
price of provisiOnS. • The whole circulating medium of France.
at the highest, was 90,000,000 sterling. In August 1793, as-
signats existed to the amount of 140 millions ; commerce
was then declining ; agriculture was discouraged ; population
checked; a forced loan of 40 millions was adopted on the
idea, that to the amount of 130 millions they could not main-

' .1

taro assignats in circulation ; as early as May or June, assig-
nats had lost nearly half their value. A louis in specie soon
afterwards produced 144 livres ; then it was that the system of'
terror commenced, and that a system of credit was begun,
which had its foundation in fear.

It may be asked, could any man have imagined that such a
plan would have been resorted to ? That it was resorted to —
that it succeeded, .has been proved. Let us look to the prin-
ciples of it. There was a law which compelled every man to
take at par, that which was worth only one-sixth of the sum
for which it was taken : a law for the maximum of the price of
all commodities : a law by which no person was permitted to
renounce his occupation, under the penalty of twenty years'
imprisonment. But you will tell me, that this proves how
unlimited the powers and resources of the French are. My
reply is, that such a system could neither be undertaken nor
succeed but by means which could not last. I will not detain you
by detail, but merely mention the other means of terror : the
constant activity of the guillotine ; the ferocious despotism of
the deputies on missions. In addition to all the other engines
of torture, Cambon, the mouth of the convention in matters
of finance, tells us, that, in every district, there were revolu-
tionary committees to watch the execution of the decrees of
the convention, and to enable the convention to seize the spoil
of the people; the pay of these committees amounted annu.-
ally to 26 millions sterling. • I say this standing army of revo-
lutionary committees is a mean adequate to produce so mighty
an end.

Let us add now a new creation of assignats of 1.30 millions,
which increased the total to 260 millions. Will any man say
that though the system of terror is done away, the effects can
remain? When the system of terror was at an end, the maxi-
mum ceased to be observed : assignats were then converted into
money, and hence the discount became enormous. The 1411 of
Robespierre took place in July; three months afterwards, the
discount was 3

.1ths per cent. or 75 on the 100. I have even the
I' 3


authority of Tallien for saying that the French cannot maintain
their assignats, without contracting their expenses and diminish-•
ing their forces. And it should be recollected this has been
their only resource. is it then too much to say, their resources
are nearly at an end ? It is this unlimited power which the
French convention have assumed to purchase or to seize all pro-
perty, as suited their purposes, that accounts for the stupend-
ous scale of operations which they have been able to pursue.
This circumstance completely solves the phenomenon, which
otherwise would appear so inexplicable, and is adequate to all
those miraculous effects which have attended the progress of the
French revolution, and which seemed to baffle all reasoning, as
ranch as they have exceeded all human expectation. In all
these circumstances we have sufficient inducements to carry on
the war, if not with the. certainty of faith, yet at least with the
confidence of expectation ; — a war, the immediate termination
of which must be attended with certain evil, and the prosecu-
tion of which, under the present circumstances, is at least not
without great probable hope.

If we look to the situation of France, they are now attempt-
ing to have recourse to a milder and more moderate system,— a
system which will only deprive them of those prodigious ener-
gies, which they have hitherto exerted with such astonishing
effect; but they no longer indeed possess the same means, and
cannot therefore be expected to display the same exertions.
Will it be possible for them all at once to restore the farmer to
the occupations of agriculture, and the merchant to the pursuits
of commerce, and to replace, in an instant, the devastations of
war and plunder, by the arts of peace, and the exertions of
industry ? It will require years of tranquillity to restore them
to the enjoyment of those ordinary resources, which they pos-
sessed previous to the commencement of the present destructive
war — resources which they can no longer employ. For even
could it . be supposed that Robespierre were raised from the
dead, they would no longer be qualified to display the same
energies which, under his administration, were called forth by'

the influence of a system of terror ; the means by which these
exertions have been supplied are now exhausted. Where can
.They possibly resort for fresh supplies ? Can it be supposed,
that when the forced loan failed at the time it was attempted, it
can again be tried and succeed in a time much more unfavoura-
ble to it, when the system of terror is almost dissolved?

The question then is, Have we, under the present circum-
stances, the prospect of being able to bring as great a force into
the field as will require from the French the same degree of
exertion which has been necessary in the former -campaigns ?
Even let it be supposed that Holland should fall, and that cir-
cumstances should be such that we can no longer look for as-
sistance from the court of Berlin, yet I see no reason to believe
that, in the next campaign, we cannot increase the British
forces on the continent to an amount that shall nearly supply
the deficiency of Prussian troops, and act with more effect.
Other powers look with attention and anxiety on this night's
debate. If you afford to those powers the means of making
large exertions, you will oblige France to make efforts to which
she is now unequal. If you act with spirit, I see no reason
why the powers of Italy and Spain may not make a diversion,
and thereby accomplish the important purpose I have before
stated — a purpose, in the accomplishment of which, the happi-
ness, almost the existence, of Europe entirely rests.
- The amendment was rejected;


Noes 246
And the Original address was then aareed .


Januau 26. 1795.
On a motion by Mr. Grey, " That it is the opinion of this House that

the existence of the present government of France ought not to be con

sidered as precluding, at this time, a negotiation for peace,"

Mx. PITT expressed himself extremely desirous of taking the
earliest opportunity to deliver his sentiments oil thepresent lin-

k 4•

• MR. PITT'S . Pax. 26. 1795.] .PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 73

portant question. Before, however, he stated the grounds of
his objection to the resolution moved by the honourable gentle-
man, and before he proposed the amendment, which he meant
to submit to .

the House, he was anxious that they might be fully
in possession, Moth of the repeated declaration of His Majesty,
and the sentiments that. had been expressed by parliament on
former occasions. For this purpose, he desired the clerk to read
a passage from His Majesty's speech on the 21st of January,
'1794, and the answer of the [louse; and likewise part of the
declaration of the 29th of October, 1793 ; and the declaration
of the 20th of 'Thvember, 1793, at Toulon. [They were ac-
cordingly read.]

He would take the liberty, in the course of what he had to
offer to the House, to contend, that there was nothing at present
in the situation of the country, or of Europe, which ought to
induce the House to depart from the sentiments recorded in those
declarations ; from the sentiments expressed from the throne;
and from those sentiments which had received the approhatiOn
of parliament. lie would contend that. the Motion that had
been made was directly inconsistent with those principles, and
he would farther contend, that, whatever there was in the pre-
sent situation of the country, it called on the House, instead of
acceding to the honourable gentleman's motion, to show to our
enemies and to the world, that we did not shrink from those
sober and rational principles which we had uniformly main-
tained. With that view, he thought it right in the outset to
mention the precise nature and terms of the amendment he
meant to propose, which was as follows:

"That, under the present circumstances, this House feels itself
called upon to declare its determination firmly and steadily to
support His Majesty in the vigorous prosecution of the present
just and. necessary war, as affording, at this time, the only" rea-'
sonable expectation of permanent security and peace to this
country : and that, for the attainment of these objects, this
House relies, with equal confidence, on His Majesty's intention
to employ vigorously the force and resources of the country, in

support of its essential interests; and on the desire uniformly
manifested by His Majesty, to effect a pacification on just and
honourable grounds with any government in France, under what-
ever form, which shall appear capable of maintaining the accus-
tomed relations of peace and amity with other countries."

He begged to refer the House to the authentic declarations of
parliament and of the crown on this subject, from which it
clearly appeared, that His Majesty from the throne had avowed
sentiments which they themselves had also stated in speeches in
'that House, and which he believed, to a greater or less extent,
had been adopted by every man in that House and-in the country,
namely, that it would be a desirable issue of the present state of
things, to see the re-establishment of some government in the
form of a monarchy in France. His Majesty had declared his
desire to co-operate with those who were willing to effect that
re-establishment. That nothing was more justifiable, and, under
the present circumstances, would be more political, than to di-
rect the efforts of this country to avail itself of any opening in
that country, if any there was, to facilitate the re-establishment
of some monarchical government, was plain, obvious, and ex-
plicit: on the other hand, it was equally clear, that His Ma-
jesty's sentiments and the language of parliament were not to be
tried by doubtful constructions or plausible misrepresentations,
but by the most solemn written documents.
- In fact, the restoration of monarchy, upon the old principles,
had never been stated by His Majesty, by government, or by
parliament, as a sine quii non, as preparatory to peace. Not only
so, but it had never been stated, that any one specific and par-
ticular form of government was deemed on our part necessary,
before we coult1 negotiate for peace. It had been stated, that
His Majesty had no desire to interfere in the internal affairs of
France ; and as long as that country had abstained from inter-
fering with the government of other nations, till a direct and
absolute aggression had been made on this country, and till hos-
tilities had been actuallycommenced, His Majesty adhered strictly
to that declaration,. and abstained from any such interference.


MR. Pars
[.Ltx. 26.

When that interference took plaice, which was agreeable to every
experience and practice of the world, and justifiably on every
plain principle of the law of nations, His Majesty still restrained
himself to that degree of interference which was necessary for
his own security and that of Europe. When His Majesty felt
himself under the necessity of looking at the government of
France, he looked at it certainly not without a wish which must •
naturally arise in every generous heart, that it might be adapted
for the prosperity and happiness of those who were to live under
it. But with a view to negotiation and to peace, His Majesty
did not look at it with that view, or for that purpose. He could
only look at it for English views and for English parposes, tb
see whether it held out the solid grounds of treating, with any
degree of reasonable security, for the performance of engage-

. ments that usually subsisted, and was to be found in the existing
system of the different powers of Europe, without being liable to
that new and unexampled order of things, that state of anarchy
and confusion, which had for years existed in France. That
having been the true measure and extent of the declarations made
by His Majesty and by parliament, he conceived that no man in
that House, on looking back to them, would wish he had not
made those declarations ; that no man would feel they were not
made on just principles, or that they did not arise from a fair
view of the circumstances and necessity of the case. He had
endeavoured to state his amendment almost in the very form of
His Majesty's declarations. 'The honourable gentlemen on the
other side of the House were of opinion, that in no case the form
of government in another country ought to be considered as hav-
ing any influence on the security of a treaty, but that we ought
only to look to the terms and conditions of the treaty, without
regarding the power, the authority, the character, the nature,
and circumstances, of the government that made it, or the state
of that government. To that doctrine, however, he could never
assent. • He must contend, that every nation at war with another,

. ought not-to treat for peace with the government that could not
givtvieeui4y. He was not ready, therefore, to treat with the

44 •

present government of France ; nor with any government, under

any circumstances, or at any time, but such as should appear
capable of maintaining the accustomed forms of peace and amity

That o


si tuation f France, since the commencement of the

present war, had been such, that there did not exist in that coun-
try a government capable of maintaining with other nations the
accustomed relations he had stated ; — that it was in a situation
in which no security that could be given to a peace, made it pre-
ferable to the continuing of a difficult and hazardous war, was a
proposition which he was perfectly prepared to maintain. It was
a proposition that had been maintained again and again in that
House, and by some of the gentlemen who now seemed to think
that treaty ought to be attempted. He conceived, as it appeared
on the face of the argument of that day, that the honourable
mover and others could not expect any considerable part of the
House to agree with them, either in their principles or their con-
clusions. They set out with observing, that the war was not a
war originating in aggression on the part of' France, and that we
had not that proof of the hostile intentions of France towards
this country, which would demonstrate that the war was just and
necessary in its origin. It had, as he had just observcd that day,
been denied that the war commenced by aggression on the part
of France ; but that in fact it had originated with this country.
To such an assertion neither he, nor those who had acted with
him, could accede, without sacrificing every principle upon
which they had hitherto called for and received the zealous
and uniform support of the country. But that was not all. The
honourable mover, and those who supported him, must contend.
that throughout the whole of the French revolution, from the
very commencement of it, during the reigns of the two tyrants,
Brissot and Robespierre, as well as under the present system of
rnoderatism, there was no one period in what was falsely termed
the republican government, even in the most bloody part...of-the-.

• ,- .

reign of Robespierre, when there was no' one pause ofsanarchy' ..\.,
and confusion, even when that government was st,16646141irs'i ..\

.- .,,,,-',Atp •


terror, and declared to be supported by enthusiasm, at the mo-
ment when the system of terror W.

as working its own destruction —
there was no one period in which the government of France did
not possess sufficient stability or authority founded on a perma-
nent basis, in which it did not possess a sufficient community of
interest with the people, a sufficient interest in the hearts of tht
people, a sufficient guard for its own engagements, sufficien
power, sufficient moderation of sentiment, to afford this countr3
a rational prospect of security.

From the beginning of the war to that moment, supposing
the terms of peace could be settled, we were not, according to
the honourable mover, and those who agreed with him, to con-
sider our security as affected by the internal situation of France
The House had not said so : the House had said directly the
reverse ; and he hoped the House would say the same thin
again. Every man in the House and. in the country must bi
satisfied that, in the termination of every war, there were two
objects, reparation and security ; but the great object was secu-
rity. Reparation was only an auxiliary, only a subordinate
object. Would any man tell him that a nation like France; put
into a situation perfectly new, into a situation directly the


verse of all the existing governments on earth, destroying the
foundations and the bonds of all political society, breaking
down the distinction of all ranks, and subverting the security of
property ; a government pretending to put a whole nation into
a situation of pretended equality, an equality contrary to the
physical equality of men — would any man tell him, that We
ought to make peace with a government constructed upon such
principles, which had attempted, by every means in its power,
to molest its neighbours, to impoverish and distress itself; to
propagate its pernicious principles; to make converts; and to
hold out the means of .seducing other nations ; and that had
followed that up by open and direct acts of aggression, by a
positive violation of treaties.; and, lastly, by an open declara-
tion of war ? This /.:ountry,scrupulously and religiously ob-
served a netrality, while it could hope, or have a reasonable


prospect, that the mischiefs of the French revolution would be
confined within their own territories. We remained passive
spectators of the conduct of France, until the very moment
that we, against our will, were forced into the contest. And
would any man say that it was rational, under any circum-
stances, to attempt to negotiate a peace without taking into
consideration the idea of security, the attainment of which, as
already observed, was the great and primary object of every
war? The whole question was narrowed to a single and a plain
point ; war being at all times one of the greatest of human evils,
and never to be tolerated on any other grounds. than that the
evils of war were less painful, upon the whole, than the dangers
attending an insecure and dishonourable peace. The whole
question, from time to time, since the commencement of hosti-
lities, resolved itself into a comparison of these two evils. They
must not impiously imagine they could explore the secrets oC
Providence, and define the precise point to which the fortune of
war might compel them ; that would be to arrogate more than
belongs to human wisdom, and, like other presumptions, must
terminate in error and disappointment. They must proceed on
general principles, which he could fairly describe. For the ap-
plication arising from the circumstances, he must refer to the
wisdom of parliament. The general principle he had stated was,
that they ought not to regard the particular form of the govern-
ment; but to look to the whole, to all the circumstances,
whether it was or was not a government that could give them a
reasonable degree of security.

The immediate question between the honourable mover and
him was, whether the present circumstances of the internal
state and government of France did or did not afford a pro-
spect of sufficient security for a peace, so as to make it wise on
the part of this country to negotiate it? That was a question
of infinite importance. It was, whether the government of

a reasonable security from any treaty of peace which might
he concluded, as to make it, under all the present eirce.

78 ' M R. PITTS
[JAN. 2G,

stances, preferable to the vigorous prosecution of the war ?4"41
What did they naturally look to in the state of any country,
hut to the manner in which they performed their engage-
ments ? They looked to their stability to their apparent
authority—and to the reliance they could place in their pacific
dispositions. He would not dwell on these-.circumstances.
Let them recollect what had been generated under that system,
and those priu-,::iples that were now prevalent in France.
They ha-seen them producing and exhibiting, hitherto, not
a government, but a succession and series of revolutions, for
that was the proper situation in which France had stood since
the commencement of the present war. The terror of this
revolution had been suspended a little more than six months.
They had seen the reign and fall of Brissot ; they had seen
the reign and fall of Robespierre ; and they now saw the
prevalence of a system that was called moderatism. They
had to recollect that gentlemen on the other side of the House
held out to them the same sort of arguments for entering
into a treaty with France, almost on the extiaction of these
two tyrants. Arguments were then produced of the stability
of the government ; and they now saw what was the ground
of security, and how much they ought to depend on such ar-
guments. But he did not wish to rest the question solely on
the ground of so many successive changes, but whether the
manner in which they had cried up the sovereignty, of the
people, whether the manner in which the pride and passions .?"10
of the populace had been erected into the criterion and rule
of' government, afforded any rational ground of security to
any peace that could possibly be made. If that was not so,
what were the particular grounds of permanence now existing
in France, that ought to give us dependence on its stability
more than formerly, in the time of Brissot and Robespierre ?
The mere question of moderatism would not be sufficient foe '
that purpose. Though there was some relaxation of the se-
verity and terror of former times, that would not be suffi-




eient. It was a moderation which arose only from comparison.
The system of revolutionary tribunals was not varied. That

great leading article, on which . the happiness of the people so.
materially depended, was not essentially varied, whatever it
might be in mode or degree. He said he would not tire the
House on that subject, but examine what were the leading
points to which they ought to turn their attention. Some of
them had been enumerated by a noble friend of his *, at the
beginning of last session, with a force of language and of ar-
gument which had made too strong an impression upon the
minds of those who heard him to be readily forgotten. He
had then most clearly-showed the influence of public opinion,
as unfavourable to the permanence of the government, and
paving the way for its destruction. He said he mentioned this
for the purpose of showing, that when the power of Robes-
pierre was at its height, it was understood, by the other side
of the House, as a powerful argument of the great stability of
the. government. That tyrant possessed the greatest degree of
power and terror that ever existed ; whereas the present
rulers of France, being disarmed of that force, had only the
chance of being supported by the opinion of the people.
Look at the manner in which the revenue was at present col-
lected in France. Did the present government recommend itself
by the greater moderation of the •means it used ? Within a
little more than a year and a half, the confiscations that took
place in that devoted country, and which were the resources of
the present government, exceeded THREE HUNDRED MILLIONS
STERLING-!. That was the amount of the confiscations from
May 1793, to the month of May last. And these confisca-
tions were founded on what ? — Upon that which would be
looked upon by a British House of Commons, and by this
country in general, with horror. That immense sum did not
arise from seizing the fortunes of exiled nobles and emigrants,
but from confiscations made long after. They had seized as

Lord Mornington.


PAN. 2(';
forfeitures the property of all persons who remained in the.
country, but who were possessed of landed estates, and had'
shown the smallest dislike to the revolution. Having exiled
the whole nobility and great landed proprietors in the course"
of a year and a half, they had, after that, collected that great
sum. Whether the charge of guilt, upon which that confisca-
tion had been grounded, bad been falsely"

or truly applied, it
equally made for his argument. In one view, it fl

•nished the
strongest proof of oppression in consequence of the system of
terror ; and if it was considered in another view, it was an in-
contestible proof of the division of the sentiments of the people
of France, which contradicted the observations of the honour-
able mover, who talked in such strong terms of that united
people, although three hundred millions sterling were wrested
from those persons who did not admire the principles of the.
revolution. Taken in the other view, it might be considered
as the fruits of the bloody massacres that took place under
the dominion of Robespierre. It would appear, then, what
weight was due to the assertion, that all the French, were
united in one cause, when the great resources by which they had
been able to carry on the war, had been derived almost entirely
from the fund of confiscation and proscription, and had been
the fruits and harvest. of the bloody massacres which had
marked the different periods of their revolution, and consisted
of that system, on their professed detestation of which they .
built their power, and by the destruction of which alone, they
attempted to support it, and acquire the confidence, affection,
and, good-will of the country.- If' these had hitherto formed its
principal resources, in renouncing the system of Robespierre,
the present government had crippled their power of action, and tio
deprived themselves of the means of:exertion.

Mr. Pitt next called the attention of the House to the
state of the agriculture and commerce of France. He said
he wished to describe the present state of the agriculture and
commerce of that country, not from any reports which the
honourable mover might suppose had come to his hands from


t1b7o9s5e.3wbo were friendly to him : his reporters were certainly
not persons immediately dependent on him, or those who had
any good will towards him. They were the members of the
national convention of France, who made reports to that as-
sembly from the several committees. According to those
reports their agriculture was extinguished; their commerce anni-

hilated. That was the situation in which France stood. They
had declared they were willing to re-animate commerce : but
the present actual situation of the country was such as he had
described. See whether, in fact, they had afforded any relief
to commerce, and to the agriculture of the country, and whe-
ther they had any just title to the love and affection of the bulk
of the people.

He next adverted to the state of justice in the country.
All sanguinary cruelties had been committed through the me-
dium of revolutionary tribunals : and though they were less
cruel under the present government, they were only so by
comparison with the former system, properly denominated the
system of terror.

He desired the House to look at the state of religion in
France, and asked them if they would willingly treat with a
nation of atheists. He did not wish to consider them in that
point of view. God forbid, that we should look on the body
of the people of France as atheists, whatever might be the
case with some individuals ! It was not possible that a whole
nation, in so short a time, should have renounced the religion
of their fathers, forgotten all the principles in which they had
been educated, extinguished the feelings of nature, and sub-
dued the workings of conscience. To the larger proportion of
the mass, there could not be a heavier burden than to be
deprived of the exercise of that religion, and to be deprived
of it in a country that called itself a land of liberty, and
which set out on the principles of toleration, in a country
which supposed. itself to enjoy more than human liberty; and
yet, under the present moderate government, he believed a
proposition v i. ii. had been made, to solemnise the Christian reli-


[JAN. 26,

gion; when the convention passed to the order of the day,
proposing forthwith to establish a plan of decadal pagan festi.
vats, and accompanied by a declaration, that all the priests
should be detained in prison till that new religion was estab-
lished. Although the present convention of France profess
to have renounced the crimes and cruelties of their predeces.
sors, yet, since they had been in a state of pure innocence,
had there been more apparent unanimity among those in
whom the present government subsisted ? On the contrary,
there never had been stronger instances of opposition, distrac-
tion, and confusion. They were continually recriminating
on each other the guilt of those very cruelties he had been
stating. Did he say then that the present system of govern-
ment in France must necessarily fall ? He said no such thing.
Did he then say that the present rulers of France might not ex-
tricate themselves in some degree from that abuse, and follow
a more just and prudent line ; and that they might not gra-
dually draw a veil over former severities, by which, if they
could 'not gain the good opinion and confidence of others,
they might at least obtain their acquiescence ? They certainly -:1:;
might. Had that time arrived ? Undoubtedly it had not.
But if such a change should take place, and such an order of
things should arrive, through whatever road, and by whatever
means, if they gave to their government that stability and
that authority which might afford grounds, not of certainty
but of moral probability (by which human affairs must be con-
ducted), that we might treat for peace with security, then would.
be the proper time to negotiate ; but we ought in prudence to
wait the return of such circumstances as would afford us a pro-
bability of treating with success. So much on that part of
the subject.

Supposing, however, that he did not look to the chance of
a change, the next thing was, what assurance had we of the
pacific disposition of the present national convention Of
France toward this country ? We had reasons, founded on
probability, to infer that they entertained a spirit of hostility

1795 ]
to all regular governments, and most of all to the govern-
ment of Great Britain. If they had any reason to believe
that the convention of France were disposed to peace, must
he not infer that they were disposed to it, because they thought
it would most probably tend to their advantage, and to our
ruin? Till there was satisfactory evidence that their spirit of
hostility to other nations was destroyed, he saw probable

ground, in the very nature of their system, that they must
persevere in that hostility, till they ceased to act upon it.
They looked upon their own government as the only lawful
government in the world, and regarded the governments or
all other nations as usurpation. Such was the ground on
which they had undertaken the war. Did France make any
professions of peace, or did she show any dispositions for peace,
but as she felt herself wearied of the war, and as she found
herself involved in difficulties? The national convention had
said plainly they desired a partial peace, because so extensive
a war they found themselves unequal to prosecute. Tliey had
professed they desired peace with some of the powers, in or-
der to ruin more securely those against whom they wished still
to carry on the war ; and he might add, afterwards to ruin
those with whom they now professed to be willing to treat
for peace. They would make a distinction in making peace.
Their moderation was reserved for Holland, their vindictive
principles for Great Britain. Could such dispositions either
give security to peace, or render it of long continuance.

It had been stated, that the decree of the 19th of November
had been repealed, and that therefore the French no longer
aspired at interfering with the internal government of other
countries. In April 1793, they :had enacted something on
the subject of peace. They enacted that the penalty of death
should be inflicted on any person who should propose peace
with any country, unless that country acknowledged the
French ofrepublic,m

ncoh liberty
aione and indivisible, founded on the princi-

with a partial acknowledgment
equality. They were not merely satisfied
nowledg ent de facto ; they required an ac-


[JAN. 20

knowledgment de jure. He wished to know, if these principles
were once recognised as the legitimate foundation of • govern-
ment, whether they would not be universal in their applica-
tion? Could these principles be excluded from other nations?
And if they could not, would they not amount to a confes-

-. sion of the usurpation and injustice of every other govern-
ment? If they were to treat for peace with France, they
knew one of the things that must be preparatory to it, and
that was, that they .

would acknowledge what they had hitherto
'denied. They must acknowledge those principles which con-
demned the usurpation of all the other governments and de-
nied the very power they were exercising. Such was the
preliminary that must precede a proposal to treat ; and what
next would happen if peace was obtained ?— Leaving out all
consideration of the terms of it, which might be expected to
be high in proportion to their acquisition of territory. Did
they look at the situation in which they would lay open this
country to all the emissaries of France ? In proportion to
the success of France, those principles had grown more bold
in this, and every other country. They had increased in
activity and means of resistance. Were they give up those
safeguards which had been lately thrown round the constitu-
tion ; and were they to follow the advice of the other side of
the House by having recourse to the universal loyalty of the•
people of England ? Did gentlemen think that we ran no risk
of serious and internal dangers by reviving and rekindling the
embers of that faction in this country, which the other side
of the House had supposed were now totally extinguished:
Peace obtained under such circumstances, could not be stated
with confidence as to its permanence, and therefore, if it
were to be obtained, we must remain in a state of vigilant
jealousy and never-ceasing suspicion. In that state, what sort
of peace could we enjoy ? — Could such a state possibly be
preferable to war ?— Would they not then give up those ad-
vantages thy enjoyed? Were the country to disarm, few, he
supposed, would be inclined to approve of that alternative


on the other hand, they could not remain armed without giving
up, in a certain degree, that pitch of force, to which they
had brought the exertions of the country, and retaining an
establishment burdensome to peace, and ineffectual to war.

impossible for any human being, in the present circum-

n ,to suppose a state of settled peace ; it must be a state


was im

of watching each other, of inquietude, of distrust, merely a
short truce, a state of partial inactivity and interrupted repose.
In such a peace there could be no security; it was exposed to
so much hazard, doubt, and danger, that no man could possibly
look to it, except the exhausted state of our resources was
such as to exclude the possibility of further exertion. The
question was not the option between peace and war, but the
option of war under considerable difficulties, with great means
and resources, or peace without security.

He said he should be ashamed to go over the means of our
resources ; but as that object had been touched on by the
honourable gentleman who had introduced the question, he must
say a few words on the relative situation of the two countries.
The foundation of the argument of the honourable mover was,
that the resources of France were of so extraordinary a na-
ture, that they were such as the other nations of Europe
could not bear, but France, having borne them for so many
years, could do that which other nations could not do — and
that they were therefore bound to suppose that the resources
of France were superior to those of this country, which had
expended so many millions without having had any effect on
the revenue, commerce, and manufactures of the country,
without means that were equal to the pressure sustained in
other wars where this country had carried them on success-
fully. The honourable gentleman, who swept off millions
from the expenditure of France, had added them with as rude
a hand to the account of this country ; he had said, if we were
to make peace at that moment, the expense would be seventy
millions sterling, and the extra expenses would 'be calculated
moderately at fifty millions sterling. How much the honour-

0 3


86 MR. PITT' s [JAN. 26.
able gentleman allowed for winding up expenses lie knew not,
but they were certainly large. Without taking in the expenses
of the present year of 220,000 men, including the regular
army and militia, and the vote of 100,000. seamen, to the best
of his recollection, — taking the expenses of the year 1793 and
of 1794.

up to the end of last December, the.sum was about
twenty-five millions sterling, and there was a capital to be
created, of somewhat more than thirty millions. This point.
was not very closely connected with the question, but he had
corrected the statement of the honourable gentleman, who
wished to shew we were no longer able to carry on the war,
though he could not prove the least defalcation in the revenue
of the country, or a diminution of the public credit. To what
was that sum to he opposed on the part of France.? To 260
millions sterling, which that country had expended during the
last two years. Would any man say that France could afford
to. spend 260 millions sterling, of which the inhabitants had
been plundered, better than Great Britain ? That immense
sum had been collected in France by force and ,

terror, and
had been attended by. effects admitted by themselves to produce
the desolation of the interior of the country, the extinction
of agriculture, the ruin of their resources, the subversion of
all the means of profitable

industry, and the annihilation of

every branch of commerce, besides the collateral circumstance
of the system of assignats, which he had mentioned on a former
day'. He said, on a former day he had made the expenses of
the French,. republic amount to 00, millions sterling, which
the honourable gentleman who had made the motion said was
exaggerated by 120, millions. But the honourable gentleman
had begun his calculations two years later than*, which was
the reason of that difference. The assignats„ which were for-
merly- near,. par, were. now about 35, per. centtebelow it, That -
the House might not. mistake him, they were not woqh 85/,
per cent. but only. 4.51. per cent. And therefore he repeated
his former assertion, that there was a rapid and a progressive
decay in the internal reso4tes of France. 1,t had been stated



that he had year after year represented the resources of France
to be in a rapid state of decline. The first year of the war cost
France 160 millions, which produced a rapid and progressive
decay in the state of their finances ; and was there any thing
ridiculous in supposing those resources to be still in a progressive
state of decay, after they had expended, during the last cam-
paign, another 160 millions sterling.?

The honourable gentleman* who seconded- the motion, in the
longest simile he had ever heard,. observed, that the resources of
America • were declining for three years together. But would
any man say that the features of that war bore any resemblance
to those of the present, which marked the calamities of France ?
It had been observed, that the French were making great exer-
tions; and that therefore it was unjust to say their resources
were at all decayed. But the question was, whether those great
exertions ought not to be considered as a proof of the decay of
the resources of the country? Would any man tell him that the
internal state of the country would not be affected by a con-
tinued and extraordinary supply of the nerves and sinews of
war ? The honourable gentleman who made the motion, had
stated that the French had extended their conquests from
Gibraltar to the Baltic. But no brilliant success, no acquisition
of territory, was sufficient to compensate this internal decay of
resources. The wide difference, in point a resources, was as
important to the fate of empires.and the lot of kingdoms, as new
conquest ; and the balance there was as much in our favour, as
the acquisition of territory-was against other countries, and in

favour of France.
There were many other points on which he wished to touch,

but would not discuss therroat length. One or two observations.
he could not help stating. It had been asked, what force had
we to oppose to that of France? He answered, an increased
force on the part of this country. The convention had said that
their forces must be contracted their efforts must therefore be

Mr. W. Smith,

0 4.


Ss MR. Pars
EJAIT. 26.

exhausted. Besides the exertions by sea and land which had
been made by this country, it. would probably depend on the
resolution and firmness of that House, whether the Emperor
might not be enabled to bring such a military force into the field,
as would render an extent of exertion necessary on the part of
France, of which they had declared themselves incapable. It
was said, do you expect to conquer

France ? Do you expect a

counter-revolution ? When do you intend to march to Paris ?
If such was at one time our success in France, that the conven-
tion were put in imminent fear of the combined armies pene-
trating to Paris, it was not very extraordinary that his honourable
friend* at London should allow himself to entertain a degree
of hope of the possibility of that event. By a mode of arguing,
not unusual with gentlemen on the other side, whose practice
it frequently was, first to state positions in order that they after-
wards might combat them, ministers had been charged with
looking to the conquest of France. They had never held out
any such object ; they had only professed their hope of making
such an impression upon the interior of that country as might
lead to a secure and stable peace ; and of being able, by the
assistance of those well-disposed persons who were enemies to
the present system, to establish a government honourable to
them and safe to ourselves. If a change had taken place in the
government of France, _which rendered it more expedient for
us to treat in the present than at a former period, he would ask,

nothing had been gained ? We were now in a situation less . ?,!1
remote from that in which we might be able to treat with
security. It had been urged, that we ought to have let France
alone. What was the consequence of neutrality but to produce
aggression ? But now that war had been two years carried on,
the detestable system of their government had subsided into a
state of less flagrant atrocity. It had been said that all France,
to a man, was united for a republic. What was meant by the
phrase of a republic ? Was it merely a name at the top of a sheet

Mr. Jenkinson.


of paper ? Was their desire of a republic to be gathered from
their submission to the tyranny of Robespierre? Was their
unanimity to be inferred from the numerous proscriptions and
massacres of federalists and royalists ?

Mr. Pitt proceeded to recapitulate the general grounds on
which he had opposed the original resolution, and the motives
from which he had been induced to bring forward the amend-
ment, which he had read, and should conclude with moving.,
Peace ! Peace was not obstructed by any form of government ;
but by a consideration of the internal circumstances of France.
He remarked that there had been great misconstructions and
misconceptions with respect to what he had stated on former
occasions to be his sentiments, as to the re-establishment of
monarchy, which he by no means wished to be considered as a

sine quiz non to the attainment of peace, and therefore he had not
contented himself with barely negativing the resolution, but had
been induced in the amendment to substitute that language
which, in his mind, it became parliament to hold, as best adapted
to the subject. •

There was one other consideration to which he should. advert,
namely, the remark that the attempt to treat, though not likely
to be successful, would yet be attended with advantage, both
in France and this country. In France it would show that we
were disposed to treat. If it were wise to treat, this certainly
would be an advantage, but such a conduct, instead of for-
warding peace, would only be productive of danger ; it would
lead to a proposition of terms from France, elated by its recent
acquisitions, which it would be impossible for this country to
accept. And he trusted that his honourable friend*, who had,
he conceived, gone too far in his propositions with respect to
peace on a former occasion, would be convinced, upon his own
principles, that as the difficulty increased, any proposition
to treat in the present moment would have the effect to en-
aturage the enemy, and to bury the remains of opposition in

Mr, Wilberforce.

90 MR. PITT'S [MAY 27.

France. In this country it would have the effect to sink the
spirit of the people, and to tell them that it was right to look for
peace, though it was impossible to look for security ; it would
be to insinuate a doubt of their zeal, energy,. and courage, and
to add to the depression already produced by a succession of
misfortunes and a series of misrepresentations. The honourable
gentleman had said, that if his proposition to treat should not in
the event be successful, he would then support the war. Upon
what. ground could he support a war, which he had in the first
instance conceived and declared to be neither necessary nor
just ? But till the period should arrive at which it would be
possible to treat, with a rational prospect of security, and a
degree of, at least, probable advantage, he, and those who thought
with him, must continue to support a war, of the justice and
necessity-of which, they were firmly persuaded, and which they
could not, in the present moment, abandon without a sacrifice
of their opinion, their consistency, and their honour.

The .
original motion was negatived;.

Ayes 86

acrd Kr..Pitt's amendment was:afterwards adopted.

May 27. 1795.
Oer a motion by Mr.

'Wilberforce, " That it is the opinion of this
House, that the present- circumstances of France- ought not to precludethe governinent

of this country from entertaining proposals for a general
pacification; and that it is for the interest of Great Britain to make
peace with France, provided it can be effected on fair terms, and iu an
honourable manner ;"

Mr PITT delivered his sentiments as follows:

I. shall certainly endeavour, Sir, to confine what I have to
say to the real point under consideration, and must stand ex-
cused- if' I do

-not follow the right honourable gentleman* who
4 Mr. Fox,


spoke last, in many of the points to which he adverted. I impute
uo blame to my honourable friend who has made this motion,

though I lament. and deplore that he has done so.
Her has

acted, no doubt, from the fullest conviction that he was dis-
charging his duty to his constituents and to the public at large.
A great deal has been said this night about Holland being lost,
without taking into consideration all the circumstances that
belong to the case. It is. not my business at present, but at any-
other time I should not be unwilling to discuss, whether it was
not of immense advantage to Europe in general, that Holland
was not added to France without a struggle, and which, but for
the interference of this country, would have taken place two
years ago. This union, after a long struggle, unfortunateiI
admit in the issue, has been. formed chiefly from that country
indulging unfounded hopes, of peace, in a treaty of alliance,
which has ended in their having been invaded and conquered;
in their having submitted, being promised protection, aria
having been defrauded of four millions of money. Perhaps it
may be better for them in the end, but , it is certainly better for
the state of the world, however unfortunate it . may be for the
inhabitants of that country at the present moment, that they
were united to France after a severe and unsuccessful struggle,
and when Holland is no great acquisition to France : instead
of being added to her, as a,great accession,. when she was, in
the zenith of her power. It . h4s beenargued, this night, that
this country entered upon the present justand necessary, war
with a great and poWerful confederacy in Europe ; and I
admit that-. this confederacy is narrowed: and diminished. But I
would ask, , whether, alai:344111g the question of peace; and
wAr, we have note furnishede them wit•,grounds to argue upon,
which it is impossible they could have, had, without the ,exist-
ence of that confederacy ? To look for, negotiation at the44,e-
selat moment, is premature, , though I look to it , at no remote
1* (4 I- have oq,obj,904*, were it connectpt withi this: busi-
ness, to, follow,,my /pAptlyable.frig4 and tho,right, honourable


EIVIAv 27.

gentlemen to the West-Indies, to examine the efforts that have
been made by this country, and compare them with those made
in any former period ; from which we should clearly see,
whether greater exertions had ever been made, and whether the
distresses in that quarter had not been aggravated by a great
mortality and other accidental causes.

But I come to the question immediately before us. I beg
leave to consider what that question is, and I must say, that
my honourable friend, in making his motion, suffered himself
to be deceived in the manner of stating it ; and this pervaded
the whole of his argument. His statement was neither more
nor less than this: Is a peace on fair and honourable terms
preferable to the continuance of the war ? We should not
have been debating here so long, if this were the question ;
about this there can be no difference of opinion. But the
question is, 'Whether a peace on fair and honourable terms,
which is the end of all war, is more likely to be attained by
negotiation at the present moment, than by a continuance of
the war ? Are you more likely to arrive at a better and more
secure peace with a reasonable prospect of permanency on
fair and honourable terms, by a continuance of the war with
energy and vigour, till a more favourable opening presents
itself by taking some step or other to encourage and invite
negotiation? That is the question which puts away at once
all the declamations on the advantages of peace, which nobody
in this country will deny ; where the rapid effects of peace
have healed wounds, infinitely greater than any we have expe-
rienced since the commencement of the present war, in repairing
losses far more affecting the prosperity of the country than any
we have sustained, and which were so vigorously experienced in
the interval of a few years, as to make us almost forget the
calamities of former wars.

Sir, that being the state of the question, I mean to submit
to the House, that at the present moment perseverance in the
contest is more wise and prudent, and more likely in the end


lasting,, and honourable peace, than any at-

tempt at negotiation. My honourable friend does not choose
to state that this country ought to take the first steps to peace,
and he claims great merit for his moderation in not going so
far, but only that ministers ought to receive overtures. I beg
leave to submit, whether this be not only taking the first step,
but doing it in the most exceptionable manner. To say it is
not an overture on our part, if we have received no intima-
tion whatever from the government of France to treat, to
say we shall be glad to treat, is what no man living will con-
tend. Where the overture comes from the legislature of the
country, it is attended with a degree of publicity which the
right honourable gentleman admits is one of the merits of our
constitution. But surely this mode of making overtures of
peace is not the most convenient, inasmuch as it makes known
the whole terms of peace to the enemy. It leaves no will
to ministers to take advantage of any favourable circumstances
that may occur. For that reason it is that the legislature does
not usually interfere in such transactions, as the true state of
the transactions is only fully understood by a few, and there-
fore it has been wisely committed to the executive government.
Why has this country, which is so jealous of its rights and
liberties, intrusted such prerogatives to the crown ? Why is
the making of peace and war, and other prerogatives which
form the happiness of this constitution, intrusted to the King?
Because it has been found, that the power of parliament was
sufficient to prevent the royal prerogative from being carried
beyond its proper limits. I say the question is then, whether
you will step forward, and assume this power of the crown at a
crisis of peculiar delicacy ?

The right honourable gentleman who spoke last, was of opi-
nion that the French convention, from the publicity of its pro-
ceedings, bore a nearer resemblance to the British constitution, •
than the constitution of any other country. In this compari-
son, I trust, it was not meant to be carried any farther, as if

[MAY 27,

the interests of this country were to be discussed in one popular
assembly. I hope the right honourable gentleman is not so much
in love with France. I think the right honourable gentleman
took up that idea rather hastily. I am by no means certain, nor
is it worth while here to examine, whether a despotic govern-
ment, or an anarchial republic, like that of France, most nearly
resembles the constitution of-Great Britain, which is removed at
an equal distance from both extremes.

The publicity of the proceedings of the French convention,
has been the source of outrage, horror, and disgust, to every
feeling heart. That publicity has been a faithful recorder, and
an accurate witness of the enormity of their proceedings. The
question is, whether we are to take the first step towards nego-
tiation, or to go on, trusting to the executive government to
take the opportunity of the first favourable moment for nego-
tiation, and in the mean time strengthening the hands of that
government, to persevere with vigour in the contest in which
we are engaged. We have been told, that although this question
has been several times brought forward, it has never been
directly disposed of; it has never been directly negatived. I
contend that it has in effect been directly negatived. For when
the motion was made some time ago, an amendment was made
to the motion; stating, that we were resolved to persevere in the.
contest, trusting that His Majesty would seize the first flk yOur-
able opportunity that presented for treating with security. I
beg to know, whether that which was done with deliberation,
was not negativing the motion. Subsequent 'to that, this ques-
tion was discussed again and again, and this House on these
:occasions came to a resolution, that it did not conceive, under
the present circumstances of the countries, negotiation was •a
measure expedient to be adopted.

But another question here arises. Have the eireuinstanee'6
andi.7situation of the country materially altered since -the last
Motion on the subject, or since my honourable friend first
found himself an advocate for negotiation ? Has the posture

of affairs varied since that time, so as to make negotiation
more -eligible at the present moment than it was at any former
period? I heard my honourable friend state one fact on this
business, which no evidence can contradict. I heard him

with pleasure state, that the situation of France was now so
weakened and exhausted, as to make peace with that govern-
ment, though not secure, yet, in consequence of that weak-
ness, attended with a considerable degree of security. That
something more of this security exists at the present moment,

I not only admit, but contend that the prospect is improving
every day, and that this becomes more and more ascertained;
as I shall state before I sit down. But is this a reason why
we should negotiate at this moment? I think not. From facts
that are notorious, from things known to the world, there is
now a general feeling that there is, comparatively speaking, a
sense of security in the country, when compared with the
alarming uneasiness which some time ago prevailed. The enemy
have not been able to avail themselves of their success and
acquisitions, nor have they acquired solid and substantial
strength. The natural anxiety of the people of this country
has led them to remark the progress of the decay, decline, and
ruin of the enemy, as being more rapid than they could have
foreseen. When this business was formerly discussed, It was
used as a very considerable argument against negotiation, that
from our situation then, we could not hope to treat with France
on terms of equality : that our affairs since the commencement
of the war were in so unfavourable a state, that we could not
reasonably hope to obtain terms of equality, or any thing fair
and honourable. Is not this argument very considerably
strengthened at this moment, when you compare the state
of this country and France? Exhausted and wearied with the
addition of your own weakness, will you 'give up the contest
in despair? We should then, like Holland, have to consider
what indemnity France would expect of us. I state this as a
practical objection, and wholly-independent of any question on
the security of negotiation. Those who argue for peace, con-

[MAY 27.

cider our situation as rendered more fit for negotiation in this
way ; that we have lost our allies, by which we are reduced
to such a state of weakness, that we must listen to peace ; and
now that our allies have deserted us, it is unnecessary to obtain
their consent. We formerly refused to treat with France, be-
cause we were satisfied she was unable to maintain that peace
and amity that ought to prevail among neutral nations. Gentle-
men have chosen to forget all the arguments used with regard
to acknowledging the republic of France. We refused to treat
with M. Chauvelin after the unfortunate murder of Louis XVI.
We refused to acknowledge a government that had been reeking
with the blood of their sovereign. Was not that an objection
not to acknowledge them at that period ? The murder of the
King preceded but a very few days the declaration of war against
this country.

The next argument is, whether you would dishonour yourself
by acknowledging a republic that might endanger your own inde-
pendence, and which made a public profession of principles which
went to destroy the independence of every nation of Europe ? I
say, I will not acknowledge such a republic. The question here
is but simply whether you will acknowledge so as to treat with it ?
It is not, nor has it been, since the commencement of the war,
the interest of England, not from any one circumstance, but
from taking all circumstances together, to institute a negotiation
with the ruling powers now existing in France.

As to the declaration of the Emperor to the Diet, if it is au-
thentic, that he should be happy to enter into a negotiation for
peace, I beg leave to say, this declaration must be supposed to
bind the Emperor in no other capacity than as head of the em-
pire; and I am sure they cannot, and will not state that that
precludes him, as Duke of Austria, or King of Bohemia, from
performing any agreement he may choose to enter into, on his
own separate account, in those capacities. As the head of the
empire, he might, from the present situation of that country,
think it wise and expedient to go beyond the line he may chalk
out to himself as a sovereign prince and king, as King of Bohe-


mia and Archduke of Austria. There may be circumstances to
induce him, as the head.of the empire, to wish to open a nego-
tiation with France, rather than run the risk of a separate nego-

tiation, through the medium of the King of Prussia, contrary to

the constitut ion of the Germanic body. One of the next points
relied upon, and imputed as blame to ministers, was the circum-
stance of the war in La Vendee and with the Chouans being at
an end. I do not see how that circumstance can attach any
blame to government. It has been stated, that the inhabitants
of La Vendee have submitted to the French republic. Who-
ever has conversed with gentlemen coming from France, has
been made acquainted with the situation of the inhabitants of La
Vendee and the Chouans, as well as from the Paris newspapers.
They will do well to consider, whether the French government
can have any degree of confidence, that they can reap the least
advantage from that union. The advantages of the peace in that
quarter have been entirely in favour of La Vendee and Britanny,
and not of the republic ; the inhabitants have gained by the
treaty, and lost nothing. The republic has no right to any
accession of strength from this district of the kingdom. Were
they subject to requisitions ? or did they furnish recruits for the
army ? or did they increase the treasure of the country ? By the
articles of their submission to the laws of the republic, if they
are reported truly, they are in fact an independent government,
from which what are called patriots are excluded. The state of
La Vendee was directly the reverse of that of Holland; and if
that country was not an accession of strength to the republic, is
it not a confession of the weakness of the government, that they
found themselves under the necessity, notwithstanding all their
splendid success, to enter into such a treaty as a sovereign would
never have entered into but from necessity ?

There is another circumstance which has been relied upon,
and which I must not pass over in silence. Among other events
of the day, we see that Holland and France have entered into
an alliance; and that Holland is to furnish France with twelve
ships of the line, and eighteen frigates. The present state of


WAY 27,

Holland makes that circumstance more favourable for this
country than we had reason to expect it would have been when
Holland was over-run by the French.

The question is, whether the state of France is not so weak;
whether the distractions and disturbances of the country, and
the discontents of the people, are not so great, as are likely to
lead to some change or new order of things, more favourable
than any that has hitherto appeared ?

First, as to the weakness of France. We have been told by
the right honourable gentleman, that there was no appearance in
France of the relaxation of its efforts ; that the reign of terror
ended with the month of July last ; and subsequent to that
period they have been as successful as ever. But surely it is not
very wonderful if the operations of that great and extraordinary
machine had wound up the whole of that extensive empire, by
all the men who were put in a state of requisition, and by all the
meretricious treasure that was amassed ; if so many causes
operating so long, the effects were not to cease as immediately as
the causes. The effects in their operation survive the causes :
but have the French acquired fresh vigour ? Whoever has taken
any pains to look at the number and efforts of their armies, and
state of the provisions and magazines, and attends to the manner
in which requisitions have been carried on ; whoever reads the
accounts the members of the convention give of themselves;
whoever reads their speeches; whoever trusts to their own ac-
count of themselves ; — these al] prove that the vigour and exer-
tion of that country have been evidently diminishing.

In the next place, look at the state of their assignats, which
for a long time has been the subject of a great deal of anxious
attention to the convention. They have been employed almost
in a perpetual contest about two things, — to make a constitu-
tion, and to raise their credit, by preventing an unlimited-number
of assignats entering into circulation. They therefore passed a
decree to withdraw a certain number of them to raise their credit.
The nominal value of assignats was only 251. per cent. At pre-
sent they are somewhat less than SI. per cent. Their expendi-



ture is incredible ; last month it amounted to twenty-seven m
lions sterling, which is more than is wanted by Great Britain in
the course of a year. This expense amounts to three hundred
and twenty-four millions sterling per annum, which exceeds the
whole national debt of Great Britain. The commerce -of that
country is totally extinguished, and a portion of bankruptcy
mixes itself with every transaction.

The next article is the price of provisions, respecting which
I have received a great deal of authentic information within
these few days, indeed I may say within these few. hours;
and the price of provisions is so very high, and scarcity pre-
vails to such a degree, as must stop all great and extensive

In the next place, I doubt very much whether the provisions
for the French army and navy will in future be so regularly sup,
plied as they formerly have been. I have accounts of provisions
being re-landed from on board some of the ships at Brest; and
the city of Paris has been supplied by pittances from the army
on the Rhine. Expressions of discontent are not confined to
individuals, but are genera], and such as come home to the door
of every individual in France. What will be the effect of this
complicated pressure, how long it may be continued, or what
order of things may ultimately rise out of it, I shall not pretend
to say. But I think it may produce, and probably at no great
distance of time, some new order of things, more friendly to a
general pacification, and to a regular intercourse with the other
established powers of Europe. Such is the genuine prospect for
all the countries of Europe, for an order of things more satis-
factory than we have seen at any former period. It is owing to
your perseverance in forcing them, anti to which they are un-
equal, that they would willingly accept of peace. But because
you have such a prospect at this moment, you arc by no means
certain that a safe and honourable peace could be obtained.
That is, at this moment, premature ; a continuance of your
perseverance some time longer will in all probability produce
that happy effect.

H 2

1.o mrt. PITT'S [Mitt 27. 1795.)

Compare the situation and resources of this country, feeling
for the burdens of the country, which must be felt by the poor
and industrious to a certain extent, and deploring their neces-
sity, as they must obstruct the increasing wealth of the country,
Look also at the manufactures and trade and revenue, and corn.
pare it with the expense of the war. Compare the annual
expenditure of twenty or twenty-five millions sterling, to the
enormous sum of twenty-seven millions sterling per month, or
three hundred and twenty-four millions per annum, the sum
yearly expended by France. After you have made these com-
parisons, tell me whether you will lay aside your exertions, under
the peculiar circumstances in which you are now placed. You
have laid on taxes unprecedented in their amount, but at the
same time having the satisfaction to know that they are borne by
the inhabitants of this country without any material severe pres-
sure. You are provided therefore with the most ample and
liberal supplies for the present campaign. But is that the case
with France ? No. Every month, every week, is an additional
strain of the new machine, and they are not provided with any
of that enormous expense which I have mentioned, but must
raise it all by forced means, by requisitions, by robbery, and
plunder. I have trespassed too long on the patience of the
House. I conclude by observing again, that I have to hope for
a more favourable order of things, and I have no reason to be
satisfied with any attempt at negotiation at this moment : but
by a vigorous prosecution of the war for a short time longer, we
have every reasonable prospect that we shall be able to procure
for ourselves a solid, permanent, and honourable peace.

The resolution was rejected: the House dividing on the order of the
day, moved by Mr. Windham,

Ayes.... :201
Noes 86

November 10. 1795.

THE House having proceeded to the order of the day for taking into
consideration His Majesty's late proclamation against seditious meetings,

Mr. PITT rose and said,

That the circumstances, upon which he meant to ground the
proceedings of that night had made so deep an impression on
the mind of every gentleman in that House, as well as on that
of every man in the country, that it would not be necessary
for him to make any comments on them. The public had seen
with becoming indignation, that a virtuous and beloved sove-
reign had been attacked in the most criminal and outrageous
manner, and at a time too when he was in the exercise of the
greatest and most important function of kingly capacity, when
he was going to assemble the great council of the nation
that great, and indeed only resource against every national
evil. The first impulses of every man's mind, after an attack
so immediately directed against the life of the King of these
realms, must be those of horror and detestation of the wicked,
the diabolical wretches, who in contempt of the respect and
reverence due to the sacred character of their sovereign ;— in
contempt of the whole legislature, by a kind of concentrated
malice, directed a blow at once at its three branches, in attempt-
ing to assassinate a mild and benignant monarch, who was the
great cement and centre of our glorious constitution. In con-
templating this calamity, the House would feel that some cor-
rection must be given to the laws, at present in force against
such crimes; means must be found to repress the spirit which
gave birth to so daring an outrage, and to prevent such unpre-
cedented consequences of sedition, and of sedition too leading
to assassination by the most despicable, as well as the most
dangerous of all modes of attack, against the vital principles of
the state, in the person of the sovereign.

If; under this first impression, every man should think him,
x 3


self called upon (as he was sure would be the case) by the
loyalty and allegiance he owed to the sovereign office, and by
affection to the person of the sovereign, by the reverence due
to religion, by self-preservation itself, and the happiness of
society at large, to apply a remedy to those very alarming
symptoms, another impression would arise out of it, equally
forcible, and equally obvious, namely, that they would do this
business but by halves, and act carelessly and ineffectually, if
they directed their attention only to that separate act, and not
to those very mischievous and formidable circumstances, which
were connected with it, in point of principles, and which pro-
duced it, in point of fact.

In endeavouring to lead the attention of the House to the
remedies which appeared to him most likely to be efficient to
this purpose, he would not advert to legal distinctions, but to
prudential principles. If the House viewed the separate act
with that eye of horror he conceived they must, and if, view-
ing it so, they felt the conviction, that a repetition of such
enormities should be prevented immediately : the next point,
that would impress itself upon their minds, as arising from
the two former, was, that they should adopt some means to
prevent these seditious assemblies, which served as vehicles to
faction and disloyalty, which fanned and kept alive the flame
of disaffection, and filled the minds of the people with discon-
tent. He had the most indubitable proof to support him in
saying, that this sentiment pervaded not only that House, but
all the kingdom ; and that in no one instance which had ever
occurred, were the Commons called upon more loudly by the
wishes and prayers of an anxious community, than they were

at this time by the whole people of England, to avert the ruin
with which those assemblies menaced the country, by prevent-
ing their further proceedings. In full hopes that the House
felt the force of these impressions as forcibly as he did, and
would agree to some such measure as he had alluded to,
his motion of that day would go to that object. It might,
perhaps, occur to gentlemen, that a law should be previously


made for the protection of His Majesty's person: but he in-
formed them, that the other House had now under its consider-
ation a bill to that effect, which he hoped would soon be laid
before them for their concurrence. His motion, therefore, was
not directed to alter or enforce the laws of the King's safety, but
to prevent those meetings, to which all the mischiefs he had,
mentioned were attributable.

The meetings to which he alluded were, he said, of two de-
scriptions; under the first of those descriptions, fell those meet-
ings which, under a pretext (to which they by no means adhered)
of petitioning parliament for rights of which they affected to be
deprived, agitated questions, and promulgated opinions and
insinuations hostile to the existing government, and tending to
bring it into disrepute with the people. The other description,
though less numerous, not less public, nor less dangerous, were
concerted evidently for the purpose of disseminating unjust
grounds of jealousy, discontent, and false complaints, against
the constitution ; of irritating the minds of the people against
their lawful governors; and of encouraging them to acts of
even treason itself. In these meetings every thing that could
create faction, every thing that could excite disloyalty, every
thing that could prepare the minds of those who attended for
rebellion, was industriously circulated. Both these required
some strong law to prevent them ; for, if the arm of the execu-
tive government was not strengthened by such a law, they would
be continued, if not to the utter ruin, certainly to the indelible
disgrace of the country.

As to the first of those descriptions, no one would venture to
deny the right of the people to express their opinions on poli-
tical men and measures, and to discuss and assert their right of
petitioning all the branches of the legislature ; nor was there
any man who would be farther from encroaching on that right
than himself. It was undoubtedly a most valuable privilege,
of which nothing should deprive them. But on the other hand,
if meetings of this kind were made the mere cover or the pretext
for acts which were as inconsistent with the liberty of the•.sub-



101 MR. PITT'S

ject as it was possible to imagine any thing to be ; if, instead of
stating grievances, the people were excited to rebellion; if;
instead of favouring the principles of freedom, the very found-
ation of it was to be destroyed, and with it the happiness of the
people ; it s was high time for the legislature to interpose with its

This consideration, he confessed, occasioned considerable
difficulty, but it did not create an insuperable dilemma. In
applying the desired remedy, two things were to be looked to —
the first, to correct the abuse of a sacred and invaluable privi-
lege ; the second, to preserve that privilege inviolate : caution,
was therefore necessary, lest, on the one hand, they should
encroach on the rights of the people, or, on the other, should
suffer the abuse of those rights to become the instrument of their
total extinction. This was a matter of great delicacy, and
should be attended to in the detail; but the House would see,
that at present the real question was, did not the pressure of
the moment call for some remedy ?

According to the opinions which he had collected, as well as
he had been able, from others, and such as he had formed for
himself, the great point wanted at this moment was a more clear
and defined power in the magistrate, to disperse and put an end
to all meetings likely to be productive of consequences such as
were already mentioned. He by no means meant this power of
dispersion to extend to meetings professedly and obviously law-
ful, and held for legal and constitutional purposes ; but that,
in every case of a numerous meeting, of whatever nature, or
under whatever colour, notice should be given, so as to enable
the magistrate to keep a watchful eye over their proceedings.
He should therefore propose, that whatever be the pretext of a
public meeting, (if the House was at all of opinion there was any
necessity for the regulation of such meetings, ) such notice
should be given to the magistrate, in order that he might attend,
for the preservation of the public peace; that he might watch
the proceedings, to prevent any measure that might tend to
attack, or to bring into contempt, either the sovereign himself

or any branch of the established government of the country.
That the magistrate should be empowered to apprehend any per-
sons whose conduct should seem calculated for those purposes,
and that any resistance to the authority of a magistrate so act-
ing, should be deemed felony in every person concerned in it.
That, on perceiving the proceedings of such meeting to be
tumultuous, and leading to the bad consequences he had already
mentioned, the magistrate should have power similar to that
which he had already by the riot act, to disperse that assembly ;
and that, after reading the riot act, and ordering them to dis-
perse, any number of persons remaining should, as by the riot
act, incur the penalty of the law, that of felony. The House
would see, that this summary power in the magistrate, while it
would still leave to the people the fair right to petition, on the
one hand, would, on the other, prevent the abuse of it. This,
he said, was the outline. All detail he would reserve for future

Under the other description of meetings, through which the
minds of the people were poisoned, fell those of public lecturers,
who made the dissemination of sedition the source of livelihood.
To them he thought it would be proper to apply regulations
something like those that passed about fourteen years ago, in
an act, which, from the learned gentleman who brought it in,
was called Mansfield's act, and by which all houses wherein
meetings of an improper kind were held on a Sunday, were to
be treated as disorderly houses. And, to avoid evasion, the
clause should apply to every house wherein any people met, ex-
ceeding a certain number to be stated in the act, the real family
of the House. These, said he, are the outlines of the measure I
have to propose ; and so convinced am I that there can be but
one feeling, and one opinion, that some measure of this kind is
necessary [here a cry of " hear !" from the opposite side] ; and
so little am I shaken in that conviction by the adverse vocifera-
tions of " hear ! hear !" that I am sure I should but show a
distrust of the cause, if I said any more. I will therefore only


[Nov. 17.
" That leave be given to bring in a bill for the more effec-

tually preventing of seditious meetings and assemblies."

After a debate of much warmth, in which the measure was loudly
reprobated by Mr. Fox, Mr. Sheridan, and Mr. Grey, the House divided
on the motion for leave to bring in the bill,

Ayes 214
Noes 42

November 17. 1795.

ON the question for the second reading of the bill for more effect-nail,.
preventing seditious meetings and assemblies,

Mr. PITT said, that as he had repeatedly delivered his senti-
ments upon the bill, he felt but little inclined unnecessarily to
take up the attention of the House, particularly as most part of
what bad been already said that day had little connection with
the question. Under this description he did not include the
comparison which the right honourable gentleman * had thought
proper to draw between a revolution in this country in favour
of the house of Stuart, and a revolution in favour of that kind
of government which French principles would recommend and
inculcate. No man could be more sensible than he was of the
dreadful calamities that the nation would sustain by the re-estab-
lishment of a Popish pretender, who would, no doubt, endea-
vour to subvert our liberties, our religion, and our laws, and
possibly he might succeed in his object.. He bad no hesitation,
however, in declaring, that were he to chuse between two such
horrible alternatives, he would cheerfully prefer the restoration
of the pretender to that cruel and desolating system of anarchy,
which would radically destroy all those principles by which social
order was maintained. He scrupled not to agree with the right
honourable gentleman in declaring, that were we under the same
circumstances that pressed on our ancestors, we should be equally

Mr. Fox.


ready to make the same sacrifices that they had done in so
necessary a resistance ; and he further admitted, that when we
expressed ourselves equally willing to risk our lives in an oppo-
sition to either jacobitical or jacobinical principles, we had no
more to offer, nor were we any longer to seek for any practical
difference. It happened conveniently for his purpose, that the
arguments and illustrations employed by the right honourable
gentleman furnished him with materials which would serve for
an answer to most of his arguments, as far as he had.urged any
thing closely connected with the subject. Of this comparison
between the two kinds of revolutions alluded to in particular,
without attempting to reason on which side the choice ought to
preponderate, it was sufficient to say, that we were ready with
our lives to resist the introduction of either.

Here, then, Mr. Pitt said, he wished to pause, and beseech the
right honourable gentleman to adopt the sage counsels of his
ancestors, with the same ardour which he expressed when he
declared his desire to imitate the valour of their arms. Our an-
cestors expelled the family of the Stuarts, and established the
glorious and immortal revolution, in the first instance by the
sword but their bravery might have been ineffectual, if they had
not secured their object by legislative provisions. It was in this
manner, more than by personal valour, that they preserved the
constitution. What was the bill of rights itself, but a measure
adopted by our ancestors in consequence of their finding them-
selves under new circumstances ? They declared it to be high
treason to dispute the queen's authority, to deny that the parlia-
ment was competent to confine and limit the succession, and,
finally, to render attempts to introduce a system, different from
that which they had established by the laws, feloniously penal.
Upon examining the present bill it would be found, that their
example was rigidly adhered to, and preventive measures resorted
to, on motives of policy and prudence, in order to guard against
that extreme which would make it necessary for many to risk
their lives in a contest, and be involved in all the miseries that
attend a civil war. One great recommendation of this temporary

108 MR. PITT'S
[Nov. 17.

measure was, that it strictly adhered to the examples of for-
mer times ; and while it added to the general security, made no
innovation on the constitution, nor, in the smallest degree,
weakened the spirit of the laws. Our ancestors, in times of
danger, and even during that interval which took place between
the deposition and the restoration of the monarchy, adhered, as
much as so peculiar a situation would admit, to ancient forms,
and conducted the public business by means of both Houses of
Parliament, if that assembly could properly be called a parlia-
ment, when it was actually deprived of one of its component

Were there no precedents, no land-marks, to guide their pro-
ceedings on the present emergency ? In days of difficulty and
danger, which had threatened one branch of the legislature, and
when doubts had arisen respecting the competency of parliament
to legislate in one particular case —limiting the succession of
the crown, our ancestors made a law suitable to the occasion.
But at this time what was the enemy that

we had to contend

with, and what the danger to be repelled ? Not an attack upon
one branch of the legislature, not a doubt about the right to
legislate in a particular case ; the right to legislate at all was
questioned, and the legality of monarchy itself in any shape was
denied. Was that, he begged to ask, a proper time to sit still,
and refrain from taking vigorous and effectual measures, merely
because they might deviate in some degree from established
practice ? The parallel that had been attempted to be drawn
between the measures of the executive government at this time,
and those of the house of Stuart, in na degree applied. In the
days of the Charles's, the people were above all taught to look
up to parliament for safety and protection : they might un-
doubtedly look elsewhere for assistance, but parliament was the
centre in which all their hopes and dependence rested, and in
which alone they were led to expect redress for their grievances:
such had been the example of their ancestors at the revolution,
and, as it was before their eyes, it ought to regulate their pro-


The right honourable gentleman had talked of risking his life
in defence of the constitution ; he was not asked now to risk his
life, he was asked only to apply the laws to the present state
of the country, in such a manner as to render the risking of
lives, for the present at least, unnecessary ; and he was asked to

do this in time, before the evil which threatened. us should have
risen to such a height, as to bring on personal dangers. Gentle-
men had. made much objection to this bill, as debarring the sub-
ject of the right to petition, as secured. to them by the bill of
rights. But did the bill of rights imply, that any other than
parliament was to be the channel through which evils in the go-
vernment or constitution were to be redressed ? The revolution
itself tended also to prove the point he was contending for ;
since it was a memorable example, that even when the throne
was vacant, and. when the forms of the constitution necessarily
failed, yet, even then, so strong was the impression on the minds
of men, of the maxims which they had before learnt, that no
new constitution was formed in consequence, but the old con-
stitution was still considered as subsisting. The two remaining
Houses of Parliament, and those two Houses alone, were then
resorted to, and not the sovereignty of the people, as the means
through which the other branch of the legislature was to be
supplied. It was not to that sovereignty of the people which is
now talked of, that recourse was had. Thus, therefore, the
revolution itself conspired to skew that it was to parliament, or
to the people in parliament, and not to the people out of parlia-
ment, that the right of framing alterations in the constitution
always devolved.
. The next point to be considered had. been insisted upon much
in the House, and, as he understood, made very industrious use
of out of it ; viz. that the present bill was calculated to create a
difference, and cause a separation, between the lower and the
higher orders of the people. The effect of this bill he was ready
to maintain would be diametrically the reverse. The system of
dividing the orders of the community was that which formed the
grand spring and power of jacobinism, which the present bill

[Nov. 17.

was evidently calculated to oppose, to check, and to suppress.
It was by exciting the envy and hatred of the poor against those
in higher stations, by holding out to them the hope of exchang-
ing their conditions, and by representing property as the easy ,
prey of the indigent, the idle, and the licentious, that the profli-
gate principles of jacobinism had succeeded in destroying all
social order in France, and the same end had been aimed. at, by
the.same means, in all other parts of Europe.

Under our happy constitution, he believed there was no man
of rank or property, at this time, so negligent of his duty, and
so unacquainted with his interest, as to draw a line of separation
between himself and those that were below him, in rank, afflu-
ence, or degree. What nation in the world now existed, or had
been known to exist, in which the great and the low were placed
at so little distance, and so slightly separated ? A continued
and well-cemented connection, which could not easily be dis-
solved, was so visible, that it was impossible to fix upon any link
in the general chain where the union of the parts did not imme-
diately appear. The middle class derived supply, vigour, and
support from that below it ; diffused it through all around ;
communicated and received reciprocal aid from that which was
above it ; and an animating spring gave that activity and general
circulation of benefits to the whole, which composed the order of
well-regulated society.


The manner by which the right honourable gentleman had
attempted to prove that the tendency of this bill was to make
such invidious distinctions, was most extraordinary. The bill
had been held out, as a bill which proscribed all meetings what-
soever from petitioning parliament, except such as were licensed.
So far from this, the bill left all established meetings precisely as
they were before. The requiring of a license had been stated
as, in all cases, an intolerable evil ; it was, nevertheless, singular
enough, that not to require a license was now considered by the
right honourable gentleman as a still worse evil, on account of
the partiality of the principle. He would ask, what was the
partiality ? Was it that all other meetings but those that were -


licensed were to be abolished ? No such thing : they were merely
to be put under some new restrictions, which should make them

more resemble the regular meetings, which were not to be sub-

the main question: — it was distinctly this.j e cdt to to

a come

o nio t 0


First, Does the bill so abridge and limit the right of petitioning
parliament, as to leave it insufficient for the purpose of affording
due constitutional security ? Secondly, Does the bill impose any
ineffectual, superfluous, and unnecessary restraints ? In order
to judge upon these questions, he would consider what were the
limitations imposed by the bill on this right of petitioning. A
previous notice of the intended meetings was, in certain cases,
to be required. The meetings of corporate bodies were not re-
quired to give any notice whatever meetings called by a certain
number of justices : meetings called by the lord-lieutenants of
counties, or by sheriffs, were all excepted from the obligation.
It had been said, however, that these last were servants of the
crown, and because servants, therefore in the interest of the
crown. But how did this observation apply ? A sheriff of a
county was under no influence either of dependence, or expecta-
tion, or gratitude. The office of sheriff was considered as an
onerous -and expensive office, which few persons liked, and from
which many wished to be excused. Was it fair then to describe
a meeting called by a sheriff, as a meeting called by one who was
a mere tool of the crown ? But, besides, what was the fact ? —
The fact was, that meetings were, according to the present cus-
tom, called by these very sheriffs, and a great proportion of the
complaints of the-country actually found their way to parliament
through this channel ; — a way which was still left open. This, he
said, was the best proof that meetings of this sort were not un-
availing. He believed it had commonly happened, that much
the greater proportion of petitions to parliament came through
the sheriffs, and those of another kind were usually thought more
suspicious. How unfair then was it to call the bill, as it had
been called, " an extinction of the right to petition," when, in
fact, that channel through which petitions usually. come, was still


112 MR. PITT'S
Nov. 17.

left open ! He declared he was as ready as any man to admit
broadly, that supposed or real grievances might, as matter of right,
be presented to parliament by all ranks ("people. He must, how-
ever, at the same time remark, that he did not consider those to
be the best friends of the constitution, or of the lower ranks of
the people, who were always goading them to bring forward peti-
tions, and- encouraging the agitation and discussion of public af-
fairs ; among those, too, who, 'of all men, from their education,.
their habits of life, and their means of information, were indis-
putably the least capable of exercising sound judgment on such
topics. The right of petitioning then remained as formerly, ex-
cepting in certain cases, to which he had alluded.

With regard to the observations made by the right honourable
gentleman in his interference for procuring a more equal repre-
sentation of the people in parliament, Mr. Pitt said, he would do
him the justice to say that he never had encouraged the wild,
visionary, and mischievous plan of universal suffrage and annual
parliaments. He had felt, what every man of sense and obser-
vation must feel, that the House of Commons, composed as it
was, was the virtual representation of the people of England:
the sole matter in doubt was, whether the members had such an
identity of interest with those who had no voice in election of
representatives, as would secure to the latter the consideration,
to which, as Englishmen, they ought to be entitled ? In the
meetings held upon that subject formerly, though some of them
had not been regularly convened by the sheriffs, he well remem-
bered that their proceeding were looked to with more jealousy
than the proceedings of those meetings which were assembled in
a regular manner.

So little had been urged in opposition to the provisions of
the bill, that it was unnecessary for him to argue much in their
defence. The notice to be given of meetings held avowedly
for the discussion of public measures, had been so modified as
to retain little of that formidable appearance which gentlemen
at first represented it to bear ; indeed, the honourable gentle-
man himself had confessed, it was that part of the bill to which


he saw the least objection. So necessary did public advertise-
ments, in order to convene large bodies of men on political
questions, strike him to be, that the clause would seem a super-
fluous precaution, if it were not for the peculiar construction of
the correspondi ng societies, which, by their divisions and sub-
divisions, had not only the means of secret communication, but
also of prompt execution of their designs, however alarming,
however dangerous.

It had been much insisted on, that a Main objection to the bill
was, that these meetings were hereafter to be held under the
inspection of magistrates. The force of this objection would
surely be done away, when it was considered that this provision
only set all other meetings on the same footing with those
which had always been authorised in their corporate capacities ;
for in regular meetings the sheriff was necessarily and of course
always present. The next point complained of had been the
mode of dispersing meetings. Was it possible for the House
not to have felt the danger of some late meetings, and did they
not feel the necessity of checking them ? If they did not, he
would only say, that this was not the time to trifle : if they did
not seize the opportunity of applying a preventive, they might
soon lose the power of exercising their own functions in that
House. For this reason it was highly necessary to grant new
discretionary power to magistrates— a degree of additional
power, guarded by the degree of additional responsibility at-
tached to them. He owned he felt some astonishment at one
argument coming from a quarter from which he least ex-
pected it, a declaration that struck at the very foundation of
the administration of public justice in this country. A
learned gentleman* of the first professional talents, reputation,
and practice, had urged as an argument against the bill, and
put it in a general and unqualified manner, that the magistracy
of the country were necessarily corrupt ; an invective against a
body of persons, to whose 'exertions, in their situation, the

Mr. Erskine.

111 MR. PITT'S

country owed the most signal services. With equal surprise he
had heard the same learned and honourable gentleman who,
while he arraigned the discretion granted to the. magistrates
under. this bill, acknowledged at the same time, that they were
already authorised to exercise the same powers under - the
existing laws, namely, the Riot Act, and a statute of Henry.
IV. which bad been alluded to by the Judge (the late Lord .'
Mansfield) on the trial of Lord George Gordon. Without in.
sisti»g for the present, on the illiberality of the suggestion, its
inconsistency was glaring, and it might be proper to consider,
in another point of view, how a Meeting convened by a sheriff w
could be esteemed a meeting held only by permission of His 7
Majesty's ministers. That sheriffs were appointed by His
Majesty, from lists made out by the judges of assize, of the
persons most capable of serving that office, was certainly true.
Although the office of sheriff was an office of dignity and honour,
were he to ask, whether His Majesty, in conferring it, bestowed
a favour which called for any great gratitude on the part of the
receiver, he believed that in most instances he should be an-
swered in the negative. Added to this, when the appointment
was once conferred, the King had no power to remove the per-
son appointed sheriff; and upon the whole, there was scarcely
any office which was attended with a greater degree of inde-
pendence. Other magistrates who exercised offices, for which,
as all our law-writers declared, the nation was indebted to them,
and who, in the service of their country, every day exposed
themselves to insults and dangers, —he could not but lament that
any professional gentleman should be found to speak of them
with such undeserved- indignity. It well merited the close,
examination of gentlemen, to what extent, and to what exe'
tent only, the powers of magistrates under the present bill
went to prevent meetings, if their designs seemed calculated to
obtain redress through any other medium than the legislature,
and to disperse them, if the magistrates were of opinion, that
the proceedings 'held, or the speeches delivered at any meeting
had an illegal tendency. In flue, the sole object of the bill was,

that the people should look to parliament, and to parliament
alone, for the redress of such grievances as they might have to

of, with a confident reliance of relief being afforded

them, if their complaints should be well founded and practically
That it should be understood that the condition

of no man was so abject, but he could find a legal means of
bringing his grievances before his representatives in parliament,
and subject them to their consideration ; but that he would
not leave a door open, through which a torrent might rush in,
and overwhelm the constitution. It behoved them to take care
that menaces were not conveyed to parliament under the pretext
of petitions, and that they were not made the vehicles of indirect
libels, fabricated at meetings convened under the pretence of
very different objects, by men whose real purpose it was to
undermine and subvert the constitution.

Mr. Pitt concluded by saying, that, upon the whole, a just
comparison ought to be made between the evils that might fol-
low from this bill, and the dangers that might arise, were the
House to reject it. The balance being struck on this alterna-
tive, the next question was, whether it was not necessary that
the people should know it was to parliament alone that they
must look for any alteration of the law, and that, when their
grievances were known and stated, they would not look to parlia-
ment in vain for redress. The House- and the public were
equally interested in this bill, and so was every class of the
people, as fair and constitutional petitioners ; it therefore only
remained for gentlemen to decide whether they did their duty
best for the interests of their constituents or not, by entertain-
ing or rejecting a bill founded on such principles.

The question was carried,
For the second reading of the bill 215


r 2

Against it.,117•11, lllllll It ll

116 MR. PITT'S
[Nov. 2g.


'November 23. 1795.

Ma. PITT having moved, that the order .of the day, for going into a
committee on the bill for the better security of His Majesty's person and
government against treasonable and seditious practices, should be post-
poned till Wednesday,

Mr. Fox took this occasion to express in very forcible language his
reprobation of the bills then passing through parliament, [the bill for
more effectually preventing seditious meetings was at this time in its
progress through the House] asserting that he conceived them to be a
repeal of the bill of rights, and as tending to the subversion of the con-
s titution. " If," said he, " I am asked how they are to be resisted, in
the present instance, I will say by peaceable means, by petition, by re-
monstrance; but if they have once passed into law, and I am then asked
how they are to be resisted, I will then answer, that it is no longer a
question of morality and duty, but of prudence. I affirm, that no at-
tack which the unfortunate family of Stuart made upon the liberties of
the country was more alarming and atrocious than that which is in-
tended by the present bills. I know that by this declaration of senti-
ment, I shall subject myself to misconstructions, but I am prepared to
brave them iu the discharge of my duty. I again repeat, that if the
people of England submit to these bills, I may still retain my partiality
for my countrymen : I shall wish them all happiness, consistent with
such an abject state of mind —but I can no longer be a profitable ser-
vant to the public." Mr. Fox concluded by moving, that the committee
on the bills should be postponed till that day se'nnight.

Mr. PITT : I do not rise, Sir, to argue the tendency of these
bills. I do not rise to speak to the question of delay ; that has
already been fully discussed. Nor do I rise to follow the right
honourable gentleman * through the whole of his speech. But

'there are some passages in it which consistently with my duty as -
a member of parliament, with my feelings as a man, with my
attachment to my sovereign, and my veneration for the consti-
tution, I cannot hear, without instantly expressing my horror
and indignation at them. The right honourable gentleman
has made a bold, broad, and unqualified declaration, that if his

* Mr. Fox.

arguments and his measures do not prevent the passing of the
bills, which a great majority of this House conceive to be neces-
sary for the security of the person of the sovereign, and the
preservation of the rights of the people, he will then have
recourse to different means of opposition. He has avowed his
intention of setting up his own arguments in opposition to th .
authority of the legislature. He has said, that if he is asked his
advice, he will put the propriety of resistance only on the ques-
tion of prudence ;— without adverting whether the consequences
of this advice may be followed by the penalties of treason, and
the danger of convulsion, thus openly advising an appeal to
the sword, which must either consign its authors to the ven-
geance of the violated law, or involve the country in anarchy
and bloodshed. The right honourable gentleman has taken
care not to be misstated : happily for the country, this decla-
ration of his principles is too clear to admit of a doubt. With all
the horror that I feel at such language, I am glad however the
right honourable gentleman has been so unreserved and explicit.
The House and the country will judge of that gentleman's con-
duct from his own language ; they will see the extent of his
veneration for the constitution, and of his respect for parliament,
when, in violation of his duty, in defiance of legal punishment,
he can bring himself to utter such sentiments. I am glad the
right honourable gentleman has made that avowal, because I
hope that it will warn all the true friends of the constitution to
rally round it for its defence.

I will not enter into a discussion of the abstract right of
resistance, or what degree of oppression, on the part of the
government, would set the people free from their allegiance.
I will only call to the recollection of those who hear me, that the
principle of these bills, upon which the right honourable gen-

he majority

ventured such language, has met with the approbation
it of the House, and I trust that majority have

not forgot what is due to themselves and their country. I hope
they will show the right honourable gentleman, that they have
not lost the spirit of their ancestors, which has been so fre-

t 3

[Nov. '2

quently referred to ; and that if they are driven by treason to
the hard necessity of defending the constitution by force, that
they will act with that irresistible energy which such a crime
must necessarily excite in a loyal assembly. The power of the
law of England, I trust, will be sufficient to defeat the machi-
nations of all who risk.such dangerous doctrines, and to punish
treason wherever it may he found. Let me tell the right honour-
able gentleman, therefore, that if our sense of public duty in-
duces us to have recourse to those measures, we will not suffer
ourselves to be intimidated by his menaces. If we feel it in-
cumbent upon us to enact laws suited to the emergency of the
times, we shall not be wanting to ourselves in the energy which
may be required to enforce those laws; and whatever attempts
may be made to resist their operation, we trust, that the power
of the laws themselves will be found amply sufficient to deft
such attempts.

Mr. Fox rose to explain : —" I rise to restate my expressions,

not to retract one word of what I have said. Let the words he take,
down at the table. — They express the sentiments of an honest Englis,‘
man; they are those sentiments for which our forefathers shed their,
blood, and upon which the revolution was founded : but let me not If
mistaken. The ease I put was, that these bills might be passed by a cdt
rupt majority of parliament, contrary to the opinion and sentiments
the great body of the nation. If the majority of the people approve of
these bills, I will not be the person to inflame their minds, and stir them
ep to rebellion ; but if, in the general opinion of the country, it is con-
ceived, that these hills attack the fundamental principles of our consti-
tution, I then maintain, that the propriety of resistance, instead of
remaining any longer a question of morality, will become merely a ques-
tion of prudence. I may be told that these are strong words; but strong
Measures require strong words. I will not submit to arbitrary power,
while there remains any- alternative to vindicate my freedom."

The•House negatived Mr. Fox's amendment without a division.


December 10. 1795.

order of the day being snored, for the third reading of the bill

for the better security of His Majesty's person and government against
treasonable and seditious practices,

Mr. PITT rose as soon as Mr. Fox had spoken :

After the many important discussions, which for some days
past have successively engaged your attention, it would ill

beoome me to occupy much of your time at this advanced
period of the debate; but having had so large a share in bring.,
ing forward these bills, it is necessary that I should shortly
advert to the arguments advanced against them by gentlemen
on the other side. And first, I will take notice of the general
objections, before I enter into the detail of the measures.

There is one circumstance, in which I agree with the right
honourable gentleman who has just sat down, that these bills
form an important crisis in the history of this country. The
crisis is not less important than whether the King, Lords, and
Commons, invested with the constitutional power of the country,
and acting for the protection of the whole, shall unite to repel
the attacks of those, who have proclaimed themselves the enemies
of the constitution, and who now, under the pretence of exer-
cising its privileges, are busied in carrying on the hostile designs
Which formerly they openly avowed, and which they have never
since abandoned. There are two reasons from which I am apt
to think that this crisis is determined. On this day a boldness
of language and vehemence of assertion have been employed in
arraigning the bills, which go beyond the bounds of parliamen-
tary usage, and almost beyond the expressions of the English
language. One gentleman', in a speech apparently studied,
with a great deal of prepared and elaborate attack, has called
these, infernal bills, and has used terms which, if meant to cha-

* Mr. Jekyll.

I 'I`

120 MR. PITT'S
[nEc. I

racterise those bills, were too hyperbolical for the effusions of
practical exaggeration. Another honourable gentleman*, who
has always been the champion exclusively of the democratic part
of the British constitution, has said, that if be was by rank en-
titled to demand an audience, he would beseech the King to
exert that power vested in him by the constitution, of putting
his negative on these bills. What ! does the honourable gentle-
man think it would be decorous in a grave hereditary counsellor
of the crown, to go to His Majesty with his advice to reject these
bills, which are to be offered to him by the other two branches
of the legislature, as a testimony of their concern for the safety
of his royal person, and which comprehend a salutary enactment
in support of their own constitutional rights ? That honourable
gentleman has gone so far as to say, that such a counsellor would
receive immortal honour by such advice. The right honourable
gentleman who spoke last+, would advise His Majesty not to put
his negative on the bills, hut immediately to dissolve his parlia-
ment, which he said was his constitutional right. It certainly
is part of the power and prerogative of the crown, to dissolve
the parliament : but there has been a time when that right
honourable gentleman was not quite so well convinced that such
dissolution was an unquestionable exercise of a just prerogative ;
on the contrary, when the loud voice of the people was heard
from all quarters, about twelve years ago, against a particular
public measure, that honourable gentleman not only questioned
the constitutional right to dissolve in such circumstances, but
branded the dissolution which took place, as perfectly unconsti-
tutional. If His Majesty should have advisers that would give
such counsel, I shall only say, that they will not be those who
are in the habit of giving His Majesty advice, and are responsible
for the advice they give.

A strong proof to me that the crisis to which I have referred
is determined, is the different language which I now find to be
held by the right honourable gentleman.- He has no longer

* Mr. Sheridan. f Mr. Fox.


any hopes to prevent the bills from being enacted, but he trusts
to the people in order to have them speedily repealed. I am
glad to find that the right honourable gentleman is become so

far a
convert to the system of moderation, that he looks to see

how many he can bring to concur with him in endeavouring
to procure the repeal of the bills, if they should pass into laws,
and not with how many he may think it prudent to resist
their operation. I am glad to find that this doctrine of
resistance, on which so much stress was laid in an earlier stage
of the business, is not at this time uppermost in the mind of
the right honourable gentleman. I trust that the avowal and
justification of this doctrine will not sink deeper in the minds
of any part of the community, and produce that impression
which such a principle is calculated to make on violent and lin.
enlightened minds. Should their ignorance be misled and their
passions inflamed, dreadful indeed may be the consequences
on their future conduct. I trust that the danger incurred to
the public peace, will operate as a warning to prevent gentlemen
from rashly and hastily broaching doctrines in the heat of debate,
which may produce the most pernicious effects on the minds of
others, long after their better judgment and more mature deli.
beration have eradicated them from their own.

Having noticed these general topics, I proceed now more
particularly to consider the nature of the present bill. The sub-
ject resolves itself into two points. I shall first advert to that
part of the bill, which affects the existing law of treason ; and
secondly, to the particular species of misdemeanour to which the
bill is calculated to apply. First, the bill makes a conspiracy
to do any thing that may tend to the King's death, to maim
or to do him any species of bodily injury, to restrain and im.
prison his person, or to seek to make him alter, by force, the
measures of his government, a substantive treason. These by
the statute of the 25th of Edward III. are only made overt
acts, of compassing and imagining the King's death. By the
present bill they are made direct and substantive treasons.
By the other part of the bill it is made treason to levy war,

CDBc. 10.

to overawe the legislature. The right honourable gentleman
has asked, might not the people attempt to influence the decision
of the legislature by the force of opinion, by the violence
of prayer ? He forgets that the bill does not preclude the
people from any peaceable and legal mode of bringing forward
their opinion, in order to influence the sentiments of the
legislature ; that it does not interfere with their right, or pre-
vent them from carrying to their representatives, in 'decent
and orderly language, their sense of public measures. The
treason described by the bill attaches only to those who levy
War in order to overawe the legislature. Will the honourable
gentleman contend, that levying war has any connection with
that mode of expressing opinion, which is intended to influence
the proceedings of a legislative body ? The right honourable
gentleman objects to the preamble, which, by the bye, he seems
not to have read. ---[Mr. Fox expressed some indignation at
this charge.] I do not mean, that the right honourable gen-
tleman ought to have read the preamble as part of his speech ;
but undoubtedly he seems not to have attended to the latter
part of that preamble. He said, that he liked no preamble,
which did not state truth. He affirmed, that the preamble
made the attack on His Majesty the foundation of the bill, and
contended, that though the bill purported to be for the security
of Hit.

Majesty's person, and the preservation of his govern-
ment, it ,

did not, in fact, tend to give to either any additional
security. If the right honourable gentleman had gone farther,
and read the latter part of the preamble, he would have found,
that it was not so narrowed and confined as he has described ;
that it stated not only the attack on His Majesty, as the ground
of the bill, but also the seditious speeches and publications of
evil-disposed persons.

In opposition to the tight honourable gentleman, I maintain,
that the provisions of the bill are calculated to give greater secu-
rity to His Majesty's person and government, and that the grounds
stated in the preamble, are commensurate to all the objects
which the bill has in. vie*. In all times, when the person of

the sovereign has been supposed to be endangered, a law of
this nature has been passed. We are not now, for the first
time, bringing forward a speculative act, of the probable



the wisdom

to judge, but we are

of which wefcannoto
uancestors— we are adopting theou

precautions of former times. Acts, of which this is acopying

ranscript, were passed in the reigns of Queen Elizabeth, and of

Charles the Second. Elizabeth has been reproached as an arbi-
trary princess. It is certain that her life was threatened from
many quarters. But how far is the charge that this act is a
weak and inefficient measure, consistent with the description
which has been given.of her character? If she was an arbitrary
princess, it surely is not likely, that where her own preserva-

ed, she should adopt measures inadequate totion was concern
the purpose. The parliament of Charles the Second has been
accused with making many sacrifices to the throne. It is not,
therefore, probable, that in the excess of their loyalty, and the
superabundance of their zeal, they should have neglected to
put a sufficient guard around the King's person. Thus does
the reasoning of those gentlemen, so far at least as concerns
the efficacy of the measure, retort upon themselves. Such
laws having passed in different periods of our history, 'and hav-
ing in no instance been found insufficient, we have a strong
and well-grounded presumption that they are well calculated
to afford security to the person of the sovereign. They apply
directly the penalties of treason to that species of offence against
the person of the sovereign, to which, before, they could only
have circuitously been brought to attach. They constitute
substantive treasons, acts which before could only have been
brought to prove the criminal intention. But an instance yet
fresh in our memories, and which made too deep an impres-
sion on the House to be easily forgotten, will best illustrate
the proposition. Supposing the person who threw the stone at
Ms_ Majesty, on his way to parliament, to have been discovered
and brought to trial, he would not have wanted an able and
eloquent advocate to have pleaded, " that by throwing the stone



032c. I CY..
he had no intention of seriously injuring the person of the sove-
reign; that he was actuated by no deliberate, malicious pur.
pose; that he was carried away by the impulse of the moment ;
that he meant, by throwing the stone, only to mark more -
strongly that sentiment of indignity to His Majesty, which-
excited the clamours of disapprobation among the surrounding
multitude, and to express his own feelings of resentment from
the continuance of the war." It is possible (I do not say that
it would be justified by the sound construction of the law) even •
that such a defence, dressed up with ingenuity,- and enforced
with the eloquence with which it would not fail to be supported,
might induce an honest jury to pronounce a verdict

of acquittal.
The intention of this bill is to cut off the possibility of such
a defence being made in extenuation of such an act, to remove
from the offender all hopes of escape by subterfuge and eva-
sion, and by making the remedy more simple, to diminish the

But it was said, why not make a new declaratory law? It
was necessary that the present should be an enacting and not a
declaratory law, because it only made that which was already
treason by the statute of the 25th of Edward III. treason under
another branch, and to be laid in a different manner in the
indictment. As to the present bill making new treasons, which
were not before known to the law of England, in contradiction
to so injurious an assertion let me refer to the most grave
and respectable authorities, to the writings of Lord Hale and
Sir Matthew Foster. These learned and venerable Judges have
given a history of the different statutes of treason, accompanied
with their own comments. The object of the present bill

clearly to define the true meaning of the old law, which is now
only to be drawn out of a long series of judicial expositions.
It is in order to guard against all ambiguous and doubtful in-
terpretation, at a time when it may be necessary to provide
against a positive and immediate danger. Must not such be

. 44 1felt to be the case, when a daring attack has so recently been
made on the person of His Majesty, and when the instance of

the precise danger against which the bill is directed, has hap-
1)ened under our own eyes, and at the door of parliament ?
The bill also makes an attempt to overawe the legislature, high
treason. Is it necessary by any long deduction of argument to

the necessity of such a precaution at a moment, when thereprove •
exist societies hostile to the authority and existence of parlia-
ment ? Those societies, meeting under the specious pretext of
parliamentary reform, and the right of petitioning, have em-
ployed a language which sufficiently shows how far these were
their real objects. ' They declared that the five hundred and.
fifty-eight gentlemen of St. Stephen's chapel may go about their
business. They took every opportunity to vilify the character of
the legislative body, to express their contempts of its authority,
and to show how much they were disposed to usurp its functions,
and, if possible,- to annihilate its existence.

The . right honourable gentleman has dealt much in general
topics of declamation. He said that he had never found that
the lives of princes had been safe in proportion to the sangui-
nary laws and the severe punishments which had been instituted
for their protection. I must remark that the present is no
new sanguinary law, that it creates no extraordinary severity
of punishment. If the right honourable gentleman thinks that
the person of the sovereign is not rendered safer by the pu-
nishments which the law has devised for his protection, this
argument goes to repeal all the existing laws of treason. But
he chooses to appeal to the testimony of experience, and to
the example of former periods of the history of this country.
He asks, whether, notwithstanding the excessive loyalty of the
parliament, and the extreme vigour of the laws, there were not
some real plots in the reign ofCharles the Seeond, fbesides the sham
plots that were brought forward to serve a particular purpose ?
That in the course of that reign the parliament made many
shameful concessions I am ready to admit ; but I can by no
means allow that it was a blind indiscriminating spirit of devo-
tion to the monarch which gave rise to the act, of which this
bill is the counterpart. Neither , cats 1 allow that these persons


[DEc. 10,
who were concerned in effecting the restoration, left principles
altogether out of their view, though, perhaps, they neglected to
employ some precautions which it would have been wise and pre,
per to have adopted. In order to prove that some regard was had
to principles in the act of the restoration, it is only necessary to
refer to the history of the times, and to the persons concerned
in that event. Hyde Earl of Clarendon, and those who were
connected with him, were not men entirely indifferent about
the English constitution, or likely to be parties in a transac-
tion, where its principles were entirely left out of contempla-
tion. But with respect to this particular act, we have the sanction
of the venerable name of Serjeant Maynard, who was one of
the persons then employed in framing the bill for the security
of His Majesty's person. Immediately after the restoration,
this truly constitutional lawyer said, " That except for that
event he had been on the eve not only of surviving lawyers,
but the laws."— [Mr. Pitt was reminded that these words were
spoken not after the restoration, but after the revolution] — I ad-.
mit my error—these words were spoken after the revolution;''.
and is it likely that the venerable person, who, during the'
course of a long and honourable life, had preserved his attach
ment to the constitution, should have so entirely forgotten
spirit, or departed from its principles in framing that' bills
so frequently referred to in the discussion ? But I will ask
the right honourable gentleman, does he attribute the plots',,
in the time of Charles the Second, to the adoption of

laws, and the unusual severity of punishments : or does he not
rather attribute them to the repeated breaches of law commit-
ted by that monarch, and to the attempts which he made, at
different periods of his reign, to govern without a parliament ?

Among his other allusions to history, the right honourable gen-
tleman refers to the reign of Robespierre. He asks, whether
that tyrant derived any security from the system of terror
which he employed as the engine of his government, and which
he supported by a large military force ? I appeal to the House,
bow far this allusion can, with any propriety, apply to the

present discussion ? 1 appeal to the House, how far the question
— whether a lawless, wanton, and barbarous system of proscrip-
tion and carnage, is calculated to afford security to the tyranny
from which it priginates?-ee. can possibly bear a comparison with
the effect of those regulations, which we are now employed in
enacting for the security of His Majesty's person, who is the
object of the affections of his people, and for the preserva-
tion of that government, which is the best pledge for their

I shall now very shortly advert to the second part of the

bill, which relates to misdemeanours. The first question is,
whether, in any possible case of misdemeanor, transportation
is a punishment which ought to be left to the discretion of the
courts ? Misdemeanours are undoubtedly of very different sorts,
and unless they can be marked out and graduated by some scale
of legislative regulation, it is necessary, that in adjusting the
punishment, something should be left to discretion. The mis-
demeanours against which the present bill is directed, are of the
most serious description. They are those offences which are
productive of the worst consequences, which militate against
the welfare of the whole community, which are calculated to.
disturb the order, and interrupt the tranquillity of society. If
we look to the ordinary operation of law, and compare the
species of misdemeanours described in this bill, with other
offences which are at present punishable with transportation, I.
appeal to the House whether those offences, either in point of
moral guilt, or of public danger, are to be compared to the
acts against which this bill is calculated to guard. The right
honourable gentleman has descanted on the hardship of the
sentence of transportation, and talked of the compassion due
to individuals, who from having been placed in a better situa-
tion of life, had been doomed to experience its rigours.. That
it is a sentence at all times severe in its operation I - cannot but
admit ; and that it becomes more peculiarly so when the per-
son who is its object, has been placed in a respectable and
comfortable situation. That such a person should be compelled


{DL;`. 10,
to abandon the society to which he had been accustomed

,for companions of a very different description ; that he should
be doomed to relinquish his native land, and the comforts of
his situation, and condemned to associate with the rudest and
vilesi of mankind, is a consideration which must naturallyimpress every mind with compassion. But while we feel com-
passion for the individual, we must recollect, that as legisla-
tors, there is a duty which we owe to the public paramount to
every other consideration. We must recollect, that if the
punishment rises in proportion to the situation which the indi-
vidual held in society, and that if our pity is more strongly
excited from the consideration of these advantages he has
forfeited, so also is the enormity of the crime aggravated by the
same consideration ; and he who, being placed in a

and comfortable situation, subjects himself to the penalties of
law, wanting the temptation to err, wants also the apology for
offence. If the ignorant arid unenlightened individual, the
blind and deluded instrument, is doomed to punishment for
the crime which, from the instruction or the example of others,
he has learned to regard as a virtue, with what sentiments tnust,
we look to the mast

er-workman, who perverts the advantages
of education, abuses the talents of nature, and employs the
very distinctions which he derives from the present order of L
society, as means of attack against the existence of society

141itself? I have only to call upon the House, to consider what is
the description of offence against which the punishment is
directed. It is not to apply twice to the offence that may
have p

reviously been committed, but to the second instance of
offence after conviction. An objection was started, that the
species of crimes comprehended under the present bill, was of
a description of the nature of which it was not within the pro-
vince of a jury to judge. My honourable friend (the

attorney-gceeral) has stated to the House what is his own p
ractice. He

has always left to the jury to decide, whether the innocent
cause assigned was the real motive of the action: but in stating
this, he stated not only that mode of practice which is conform--



able to the liberality of his own sentiments, but which is sanc-
tioned by the liberal spirit of the laws of England. There is.no
legal privilege which may not be made the pretext to cover
the most illegal actions. I must particularly remark, in order
to obviate misrepresentation, that nothing is made a crime by the
present bill which was not before criminal, and subjected to a
severe punishment by the common law of England.

After what I have already said, I have nothing farther to add,
as I conceive the present bill to be supported on the plainest
and simplest grounds on which any legislative provision was ever
offered to the House.

The bill was afterwards read a third time and passed.

February 12. 1796.

Mr. Whitbread having moved the second reading of the labourers'
wages bill, and the motion being seconded by Mr. Honeywood,

IVIR. PITT said, that not observing that gentlemen were pre-
pared to deliver their sentiments on the present bill, he could
not give a silent vote upon a question of so much importance,
and at the same time of so much delicacy. In the interval
which had taken place since the first reading of the bill, he had
paid considerable attention to the subject, and endeavoured to
collect information from the best sources to which he had ac-
cess. The evil was certainly of such a nature as to render it of
importance to find out a proper remedy ; but the nature of the
remedy involved discussions of such a delicate and intricate
nature, that none should be adopted without being maturely
weighed. The present situation of the labouring poor in this
country was certainly not such as could be wished, upon any
principle, either of humanity or policy. That class had of late
been exposed to hardships which they all concurred in lament-
ingv,Oartulit.were equally actuated by a desire to remove. lie



would not argue how far the comparison of the state of the
labourer, relieved as it had been by a display of beneficence

-never surpassed at any period, with the state of this class of the
community in former times, was just, though he was convinced
that the representations were exaggerated. At any rate, the
comparisons were not accurate, because they did not embrace
a comprehensive view of the relative situations. He gave the
honourable gentleman * ample credit for his good intentions in
bringing the present bill into parliament, though he was afraid
that its provisions were such as it would be impolitic, upon the
whole, to adopt ; and though they were adopted, he believed
that they would be found to be inadequate to the purposes which
they proposed.

The authority of a very eminent calculator, Dr. Price, had
been adduced to show the great advance that had taken place on
every article of subsistence, compared with the slow increase of
the wages of labour. But the statement of Dr. Price was erro-
neous, as he compared the earnings of the labourer at the period
when the comparison is instituted, with the price of provisions,
and the earnings of the labourer at the present day, with the
price of the same articles, without adverting to the change of
circumstances, and to the difference of provisions. Corn, which
was then. almost the only food of the labourer, was now supplied
by cheaper substitutions, and it was unfair to conclude that the
wages of labour were so far from keeping pace with the price of
provisions, because they could no longer purchase the same quan-
tity of an article, for which the labourer had no longer the same
demand. The simple question now to be considered was, whe-
ther the remedy for the evil, which was admitted in a certain
extent to exist, was to be obtained by giving to the justices the
power to regulate the price of labour, and by endeavouring to
establish by authority, what would be much better accomplished
by the unassisted operation of principles ?

It was unnecessary to argue the general expediency
of any

*Mr. Whitbread.


1796 .
legislative interference, as the principles had been perfectly

the honourable gentleman himself. The most

celebrated b,writersrters upon political economy, and the experience of
those states where arts had flourished the most, bore ample
testimony of their truth..., They had only to inquire, therefore.,
whether the present case was strong enough for the exception,
and whether the means proposed were suited to the object
intended ? The honourable gentleman imagined that he had on
his side of the question the support of experience in this coun-
try, and appealed to certain laws upon the statute book, in
confirmation of his proposition. He did not find himself called
upon to defend the principle of these statutes, but they were
certainly introduced for purposes widely different from the
object of the present bill. They were enacted to guard the
industry of the country from being checked by a general com-
bination among labourers ; and the bill now under consideration,
was introduced solely for the purpose of remedying the inconve-
niences which labourers sustain from the disproportion existing
between the price of labour and the price of living.

He had the satisfaction to hear the honourable gentleman
acknowledge, that if the price of labour could be made to find its
own level, it would be much more desirable than to assess it by
arbitrary statute, which in the execution was liable to abuse on
the one hand, and inefficacy on the other. If the remedy suc-
ceeded according to the most sanguine expectations, it only
established what would have been better effected by principle ;
and if it failed, on the one hand it might produce the severest
oppression, and on the other encourage the most profligate idle-
ness and extravagance. Was is not better for the House then
to consider the operation of general principles, and rely upon the
effects of their unconfined exercise ? Was it not wiser to reflect
what remedy might be adopted, at once more general in its
principles, and more comprehensive in its object, less excep-
tionable in its example, and less dangerous in its application ?
They should look to the instances where interference had shack-
led industry, and where the best intentions have often produced

x 2

132 MR. PITT'S [FEB.

the most pernicious effects. It was indeed the most absurd
try in asserting the general principle, to exclude the exception;
'but trade, industry, and barter would always find their own
level, and be impeded by regulations which violated their na-
tural operation, and deranged their proper effect. This being
granted, then, he appealed to the judgment of the House,
whether it was better to refer the matter entirely to the discretion
of a magistrate, or to endeavour to find out the causes of the
evil, and by removing the causes, to apply a remedy more justi-
fiable in its principle, more easy in the execution, more effectual
in its operations, in fine, more consonant to every maxim of
sound and rational policy. The evil, in his opinion, originated,

a great measure, in the abuses which had crept into the
poor-laws of this country, and the complicated mode of execut-
ing them. The poor-laws of this country, however wise in
their original institution, had contributed to fetter the circu-
lation of labour, and to substitute a system of abuses, in room
of the evils which they humanely meant to redress, and by
engrafting upon a defective plan, defective remedies produced
nothing but confusion and disorder. The laws of settlements.
prevented the- workman from going to that market where he
could dispose of his industry to the greatest advantage, and
the capitalist, from employing the person who was qualified to
procure him the best returns for his advances. These laws had
at once increased the burdens of the poor, and taken from the
collective resources of the state, to supply wants which their
operation had occasioned, and to alleviate a poverty which
they tended to perpetuate. Such were the institutions which*
misguided benevolence had introduced, and, with such warnings
to deter, it would be wise to distrust a similar mode of conduct,
and to endeavour to discover remedies of a different nature.
The country had not yet experienced the full benefit of the
laws that had already been passed, to correct the errors which
he had explained.

From the attention he had bestowed upon the subject, and
from the inquiries he had been able to make of others, he



disposed to think we had not gone yet far enough, and to enter-

tain an opinion that many advantages might be derived, and
much of the evil now complained of removed, by an extension

of those reformation s in the poor-laws which had been begun.
The encouragement of friendly societies would contribute to
alleviate that immense charge with which the public was loaded
in the support of the poor, and provide by savings of industry —
for the comfort of distress. Now the parish-officer could not
remove the workman, merely because he apprehended he might
be burdensome, but it was necessary that he should be actually
chargeable. But from the pressure of a temporary distress,
might the industrious mechanic be transported from the place
where his exertions could be useful to himself and his -family, to
a quarter where he would become a burden without the capacity
Of being even able to provide for himself. To remedy such a
great striking grievance, the laws of settlement ought to un-
dergo a radicaLamendment. He conceived, that to promote the
free circulation of labour, to remove the obstacles by which
industry is prohibited from availing itself of its resources, would
go far to remedy the evils, and diminish the necessity of apply-
ing for relief to the poor's rates. In the course of a few
years, this freedom, from the vexatious restraint which the laws
imposed, would supersede the object of their institutions. The
advantages would be widely diffused, the wealth of the nation:
would be increased, the poor man rendered not only more
comfortable but more virtuous, and the weight of poor's rates,
with which the landed interest is loaded, greatly diminished.
He should wish, therefore, that an opportunity were given of
restoring the original purity of the poor-laws, and of removing
those corruptions by which they had been obscured. He was
convinced, that the evils which they had Occasioned did not
arise out of their original constitution, but coincided with the
opinion of Blackstone, that, in proportion as the wise regulations
that were established in the long and glorious reign of Queen
Elizabeth, have been superseded by subsequent enactments,

K 3


1st MR. PITT'S [FEB. 12.
the utility of the institution has been impaired, and the bene.
volence of the plan rendered fruitless.

While he thus had expressed those sentiments which the dis.
euStion naturally prompted, it might not, perhaps, be improper,
on such an occasion, to lay before the House the ideas floating
in his mind, though not digested with sufficient accuracy, nor
arranged with a proper degree of clearness. Neither what the
honourable gentleman proposed, nor what he himself had sug.
gested, were remedies adequate to the evil it was intended to
remove. Supposing, however, the two modes of remedying
the evil were on a par in effect, the preference in principle was
clearly due to that which was least arbitrary in its nature : but
it was not difficult to perceive that the remedy proposed by
the honourable gentleman would either be completely ineffectual,
or such as far to over-reach its mark. As there was a difference
in the numbers which compose the families of the labouring
poor, it must necessarily require more to support a small
family. Now by the regulations proposed, either the man with
a small family would have too much wages, or the man with a
large family, who had done most service to his country, would.
have too little. So that were the minimum fixed upon the
standard of a large family, it might operate as an encouragement
to idleness on one part of the community ; and if it were fixed
on the standard of a small family, those would not enjoy the
benefit of it for whose relief it was intended. What measure
lhen could be found to supply the defect ? Let us, said he,
make relief in cases where there are a number of children, a
matter of right and an honour, instead of a ground for oppro-
brium and contempt. This will make a large family a blessing,
and not a curse ; and this will draw a proper line .of distinction
between those who are able to provide for themselves by their
labour, and those who, after having enriched their country
with a number of children, have a claim upon its assistance for
their support. All this, however, he would confess, was not
enough, if they did not engraft upon it resolutions to discou-
rage relief where it was not wanted.

If such means could


be practised as that of supplying the necessities of those who
required assistance by giving it in labour or affording employ-

men t,
t which is the principle of the act of Queen Elizabeth, the

important advantages would be gained. They would thus

those to whom they afforded relief, not only by the
assistance bestowed, but by giving habits of industry and fru-

gality and in furnishing a temporary bounty, enable them to
make permanent provision for themselves. By giving effect to

the operatio n of friendly societies, individuals would be rescued
from becoming a burden upon the public, and, if necessary,
be enabled to subsist upon a fund which their own industry

contributed to raise. These great points of granting relief
according to the number of children, preventing removals at
the caprice of the parish-officer, and making them subscribe to
friendly societies, would tend in a very great degree to remove
every complaint to which the present partial remedy could he
applied. Experience had already shown how much could be
done by the industry of children, and the advantages of early
employing them in such branches of manufactures as they are
capable to execute. The extension of schools of industry was
also an object of material importance. If any one would take
the trouble to compute the amount of all the earnings of the
children who are already educated in this manner, he would be
surprised, when he came to consider the weight which their
support by their own labours took off the country, and the
addition which, by the fruits of their toil, and the habits to
which they were formed, was made to its internal opulence.
The suggestion of these schools was originally drawn front
Lord Hale and Mr. Locke, and upon such authority he had no
difficulty in recommending the plan to the encouragement
of the legislature. Much might be effected by a plan of
this nature susceptible of constant improvement. Such a
plan would convert the relief granted to the poor into an
encouragement to industry, instead of being, as it is by the
present poor-laws, a premium to idleness, and a school for
sloth. There were also, a number of subordinate circum-

lc 4


stances, to which it was necessary to attend. The law which
prohibits giving relief where any visible property remains should
he abolished. That degrading condition should be withdrawn.
No temporary occasion should force a British subject to part
with the last shilling of his little capital, and compel him to
descend to a state of wretchedness from which he could never
recover, merely that he might be entitled to a casual supply. s

Another mode also of materially assisting the industrious
poor was, the advancing of small capitals, which might be
repaid in two or three years, while the person who repaid it
would probably have made an addition to his income. This
might put him who received them in the way of acquiring what
might place him in a situation to make permanent provision
for himself.

These were the general ideas which had occurred to him upon
the subject ; if they should be approved of by any gentleman
in the House, they might perhaps appear at a future time in a
more accurate shape than he could pretend to give

them. He

could not, however, let this opportunity slip without throwing
them out. He was aware that they would require to be very
maturely considered. He was aware also of a fundamental
difficulty, that of insuring the diligent execution of any law
that should be enacted. This could only be done by presenting
to those who should be intrusted with the execution motives
to emulation, and by a frequent inspection of their conduct as
to diligence and fidelity. Were he to suggest an outline, it
would be this. To provide some new mode of inspection by
parishes, or by hundreds to report to the magistrates at the
petty sessions, with a liberty of appeal from them to the gene-
ral quarter sessions, where the justice should be empowered to
take cognizance of the conduct of the different commissioners,
and to remedy whatever defects should be found to exist.
That an annual report should be made to parliament, and that
parliament should impose upon itself the duty of tracing the
effect of its system from year to year, till it should be fully
matured, That there should be a standing order of the House


for this purpose, and in a word, that there should be an annual
opened, containing the details of the whole system of

by which the legislature would chew, that they had a

and a watchful eye upon the interests of the poorest and

most neglected part of the community.
Mr. Pitt said he was not vain enough to imagine that these

ideas were the result of his own investigations, but he was happy

o say, that they arose from a careful examination of the sub-

ject, and an extensive survey of the opinions of others. He
would only add, that it was a subject of the utmost importance,
and that he would do every thing in his power to bring forward
or promote such measures as would conduce to the interest of
the country. He concluded with apologizing for having taken
up so much of the time of the House: the fact was, the import-
ance of the subject had led him into a further discussion than it
had been his intention to go into, and he was desirous of shewing-
the honourable gentleman that he had spared no pains to collect
information upon it : and although he gave the honourable gen-
tleman every possible credit for his humane and laudable motives,
yet, seeing the subject in the light in which he did, he was com-
pelled to give his negative to the motion.

Mr. Whitbread afterwards, waving his motion for the second reading
of the bill, moved for leave to bring in a repeal the statute of the
5th of . Elizabeth; which was granted

February 15. 1796.

Os a motion by Mr. Grey, for an address to His Majesty, " That he
would be graciously pleased to take such steps as to his royal wisdom
should appear most proper, for communicating directly to the Executive
Directory of the French Republic, His Majesty's readiness to meet any
disposition to negotiation on the part of that government, with an
earnest desire to give it the fullest and speediest effect."

Mr. PIT T spoke to the following purport

136 MR. PITT'S [FEB. 12.

138 pin"s
[FEB. 15..

Much as the honourable gentleman* has introduced into his
speech, connected with the origin and conduct of the war, from
which I must decidedly dissent : much as I differ with him on
many of the topics he has urged, and on many of the principles
he has laid down, as grounds for his motion: and firmly as I am
persuaded that no measure could be more hostile to the true in-"
tcrests of this country, than the line of conduct which he has
proposed to be adopted; there is still one view of the subject on
which I believe it impossible there can be any difference of
opinion. If the state of the country, and the sentiments of a
great majority of this House, are such as I have reason to suppose,
there cannot, indeed, be any wide or essential difference as to
the general result. But if, after the explanation which I may be
able to give with respect to the state of this country, and the
position of the enemy, the honourable gentleman shall still
choose to persevere in his motion, there are one or two conse-
quences, which might otherwise be drawn from any declaration
of mine on the present occasion, against which it may be neces-
sary for me to guard. I must, therefore, guard against any im-
putations which may hereafter be brought forward, either as to
the insincerity of any declaration which I may express in favour
of peace, or as to the inefficiency of the measures taken to fa-
cilitate its progress. However I may be disposed to favour that
object, which the motion seems principally to have in view, I
can by no means concede the grounds on which it has been fol-
lowed up ; — I mean that from a view of our situation, and of the
events of the war, we should discover such shameful humiliation,
such hopeless despondency, as to abandon every thing for which
we have formerly contended, and be disposed to prostrate our-
selves at the feet of the enemy. If the necessity of our condition,
if the sense of having been baffled, should operate so strongly
as to induce us to make overtures of peace upon any term's ; if
every consideration of policy, and every feeling of decent and
honourable pride, must be sacrificed to the extreme pressure of

* Mr. Grey. •


our affairs, we must then, indeed, be bound to receive the law
of the conqueror. This situation of affairs the honourable gen-
tleman has not indeed developed, but has pretty plainly insinu-
ated it as a ground for his motion. I trust, however, that the
state of this country is far different, and that no temporary re-
verse in the fortune of war, no internal pressure in our domestic
situation, has yet produced this mortifying humiliation, this
dreadful alternative.

But the honourable gentleman, as an impeachment of the sin-
cerity of ministers with respect to peace, has alluded to an argu-
ment which was formerly supported from this side of the House
— that we could not make peace without humbling ourselves to
the enemy, and without discovering that we were baffled in our
attempts and exhausted in our resources. From this he no doubt
meant to insinuate that ministers were at no time sincere in their
wishes for peace, and were disposed to throw every obstacle in
its way. He does not think proper to mention, that this argu-
ment was made use of at a time when the opponents of the war,
availing themselves of a series of misfortunes and disappoint-
ments which had befallen the confederacy, took the opportunity
to press their motion for an immediate peace. We then con-
tended, that the evil was not so great as to exclude hope, or to
damp enterprize, that no circumstances had taken place under
which . a firm and manly resistance became impracticable, and

wthat e might still look with confidence to the effect of a vigor-
ous and persevering prosecution of the war. In proportion as
this truth has become manifest to the enemy themselves, do we
feel ourselves inclined to adopt a more conciliating tone. In
proportion as the situation of things is inverted, the objection,
which we formerly made, is superseded. That situation which
the honourable gentleman chose only to suppose as theoretical,
I contend to be practical; that our successes have been such as
to obviate any obstacle to negotiation on the score of national
honour; and so far I undoubtedly am of opinion, that the diffi-
culty is infinitly diminished.

In stating, however, generally, my own sentiments, and those


of His Majesty's ministers, I. must protest against the practice of
being called upon from day to day, from week to week, from
time to time, to declare what are precisely our views on the pos-
ture of affairs, or what are the steps which we may think it ne-
cessary in consequence to adopt. The progress of the measures,
which such a situation of affitirs as the present may render ne-
cessary, can only be left safely to the conduct of the executive
government. If the House are of opinion that the business can-
not be safely left in the hands of ministers, the proper step wouldbe to address His Majesty to remove them from their situation ;
and not to endeavour to interrupt the affairs of governmen


calling on the House of Commons to interfere with the functions
of executive authority. The honourable gentleman himself
seemed to be aware of this, as he admitted the principle to be
correct; he said he did not contend against the

degree of confidence which an executive government ought to
have from the legislative power, while its conduct was unex-

The honourable gentleman says that he does not confide in
ministers : on that ground he has been led to give an uniform
opposition to their measures during the war : and on the same
ground he now expresses his distrust of the sincerity of their
wishes respecting peace. U n questionably the honourable gen-tleman,

who places no confidence in ministers, is entitled to op-
pose their measures and to question their sincerity ; but he is
bound to conform to established rules, and not to effect

anychange in a constitutional question. I mean,
Nvil en ever thisHouse, adopting a motion like the present, instead of addressing

His Majesty to remove his ministers, apply in order to take the
business into their own hands, they deprive the country ofevery
chance for a successful negotiation. On a question so critical, I IP
am afraid lest I should overstep the line of my duty, by entering
too much into detail. It is a subject on which it is impossible tod'escant so minutely as the honourable gentleman seems to expect,
without breaking in upon that principle which has guided every
discreet minister in treating subjects of this nature. If I felt


that generally, as applicable to subjects of this kind, how much
more must I feel it on this particular occasion, considering, as
1 must, the peculiar situation of the country at this moment ?

Let gentlemen look at the situation of affitirs on the Continent;
let them look at the situation of our enemy ; what has been their
plan and practice ? what has been the case in this respect since
the honourable gentleman reminded the House of the matter ?
What, I would ask, has been the effect of the separation of the
general confederacy against France, and the weakening of the
power of that confederacy ?— power, that long ere this, might
have achieved much advantage, had they kept in union. Re-
collect what has happened upon the appearance of that separa-
tion, and then conjecture what might have been the effect, had
the confederacy remained entire. The destruction of the enemy,
perhaps, or at least the diminution of its strength to such an
extent as to have brought forward an honourable repose and
lasting tranquillity to Europe. Let me ask the House, whether
or not every man did not believe it was the policy and the aim of
France to use all endeavours to separate the confederacy against
her? Let me ask, whether she did not seem to triumph even
in the hope of being able to effect it? Let me ask, whether any
thing remttined of the hope of France but this separation, to
enable her to dictate to Europe ? Let me ask, whether any thing
could, therefore, be so desirable to France as the detaching of
that confederacy, which, fur the honour and safety of Europe,
was formed against her ? And then, let me ask, whether there
ever was, or could be, a cause in which it would be more the
duty of every good man to prevent any jealousy, or the rising
of any suspicion, or the creating of any disunion, among those
who, if they remain entire, may yet give honourable and lasting
peace to Europe ? If the Directory have yet any hope of dic-
tating terms to Europe, it is, no doubt, on the same policy which
they have hitherto found so beneficial, that they ground their
expectations of future success. If there is any thing by which
they can. expect to attain this situation of proud eminence, this
object of their favourite ambition, it is by being able to instil


[FEB. 15.
jealousy, to sow the seeds of division, and engender sources of
animosity among those of the confederacy, who yet

united to oppose their power. On preserving entire the remains
of that confederacy, depends the only hope of impressing on
them a conviction of the necessity of yielding to reasonable
terms, and of bringing the war to a desirable conclusion. And
perhaps, in this point of view, an attention to the preservation
of that confederacy becomes a duty, not only for ministers, but
for all those persons who are anxious for the public welfare,
and interested in the national character ; for all those who are
desirous of an honourable peace, and adverse to any peace
purchased with dishonour; and, if such b3 the case, it is important
for them to consider whether the measures which they may wish
to persuade government to adopt, be such as may oblige the
country to give up the chance of a successful peace altogether,
or to take it on terms inconsistent with the honour of the na-
tion. If we receive propositions of peace on the terms of the
honourable gentleman, the considerations " speedy and honour-
able" then become separated. We must, in that case, choose
the alternative ; if we adopt the motion, a peace, " speedy and
honourable" we cannot have. But an honourable peace we may
have, if we persevere in the same firm and vigorous line of con-
duct which we have hitherto pursued. This I know, not from
any immediate communication with the enemy, not from any
communication of their disposition for peace, but from the state-
ment which they have themselves furnished of their defective
and almost exhausted means for carrying on the war. On this
ground I oppose the motion. If I were not sincerely and
anxiously desirous of peace, I should be forfeiting my duty to
the country, and violating the trust which I hold from my pub•
lie situation ; but I can never consent to the proposition of peace,
unless the terms should be consistent with our present honour,
suitable to our preselitt condition, and compatible with our future

Having said this with the general view I have of the subject
of peace, if the question be thought a necessary one, I will say

a few words as to the message from His Majesty to parliament
about two months ago, because it was said, that no step had
been taken since for a negotiation ; I hope the House will recol-
lect what I said upon that occasion. I said then, that the House
should not compel, by its vote, the executive government to
enter into a negotiation, bound down and fettered with any
acknowledgment of our own weakness : precisely the same thing.
do I desire of the House upon the present occasion. Those who
differ from me in general, and who have thought the war alto-
gether unnecessary, I did not then, nor do I now, expect to
convince ; but the House at large thought as I do. To the House
a large, therefore, I will now say, that the question, as the
honourable gentleman has himself stated it, is a very narrow
one — " Whether, because after having received the message
from His Majesty no communication has taken place of any sub-
sequent measures, the House, by adopting a motion of this
sort, ought to compel the executive government, bound hand
and foot, to commence a negotiation ?" If the honourable
gentleman entertains such distrust of the sincerity of ministers,
as to suppose them disposed to take no measures to carry into
effect their own declarations, I shall certainly not argue with him
on that point. But in order to be consistent, the argument of
the honourable gentleman must infer, either that overtures have
been made on the part of the enemy, or that some favourable
opportunity has occurred to this country for the purpose of
commencing negotiation, which have been rejected subsequent
to the period of the message.

If a negotiation should be entered into, it is evident, that in
order to give it its full effect, we should be careful not only to
keep up the strict letter of our engagements with our allies, but
to maintain with them full concert and harmony. I therefore,
take upon me to assert, that since His Majesty's message has
been delivered to this House, ministers have taken every mea-
sure consistent with the general interests of the country, and
with the attention and regard due to her allies, to enable His


144 MR. PITT'S

[FEB. 15,
Majesty to take any opportunity, either to meet overtures for
negotiation, or to make,

such overtures as might be found most
expedient. That no etiquette with respect to who should make
the first overture —no•difficulty in finding a mode of making it,
appeared to government to he an obstacle to negotiation, if in
other respects there appeared to be a probability of leading to
just and honourable terms ; the great point being what prospect
there was of obtaining such terms. Measures have been taken
to ascertain these points, and are now in train ; and if the enemy
are sincere, they must speedily lead to a negotiation. Whe-
ther that negotiation will lead to peace I cannot say, because
that depends upon whether the exhausted state of the enemy
will incline them to set on foot that negotiation with a view to
peace, very different as to the terms of it from any which their
public declarations have for a long time past seemed to indi-
cate: if this is not the case, I must say a speedy peace is im-
possible. I wish ardently for peace—but not for any but an
honourable peace. The country has a right to expect it from
its own strength and resources, and from a knowledge of the
relative situation of France.

I admit that the honourable gentleman in his speech separated
negotiation from the terms. But in other passages he talked of
negotiation as leading to an immediate peace. I do not hold
out a prospect of immediate peace, nor do I state any period
that I can ascertain for it; I only say it will not be the fault of
His Majesty's servants if the period is remote. The enemy must
be however ready to make it on terms which we have a right to
think just and honourable; it rests not on us only, but also on
the enemy, whether this may lead to any negotiation at all, or
whether negotiation will lead to peace. It all depends on this,
whether the disposition of the enemy shall be more moderate
than any we have lately seen of their professions. Sorry I am to
see such a seeming .

disposition on the part of the enemy, as
may render them, in case of success, desirous of preventing
any effect to pacific dispositions, which they may now profess,


or even of retracting them. Whether this may lead to a mode-
ration in practice which I have not seen yet, I know no more

of, as I have said already, than what any other gentleman has
an opportunity of knowing. What has been made public I hope
is not authentic ; however, by what has been circulated in this
country, and through the continent with industry, and what they
are said to hold out as the boon of peace to the English nation,
it does not appear as if they were very desirous of meeting us
on honourable terms ; for I have heard that they are 'ready to
give peace, because the government of England asks it. Thus
then we are to have peace if we shall sue for it : that is, if we
shall abandon that for which our ancestors have fought so bravely.
If we shall abandon our allies ; if we shall abandon the safety or
all Europe, and sacrifice to France every thing that is dear to
ms, and offer to them homage, and grant them an unconditional
and -uncompensated restitution of' all that has been their's, and
all that has been in the possession of those whom they have
forced to be their allies— then, in return for this, they will
offer to the people of England their fraternization.

I have thus stated the degree to which we have been ready to
go. I hope I shall not be told some weeks hence I have been
insincere. We have not been ready to grasp at a treaty such.as
you have heard from me. There is but one situation in which a
minister of this country should convey such terms toile enemies
of* it; that is, when the abjectness of the country and its
willingness to sue for peace is proclaimed by parliament, so as
to deprive us of vigour and energy, and make us unwilling to
strive for the maintenance of ourselves. If this motion be
adopted, what overtures we shall receive, or what we shall not,
I will not pretend to determine; but while we show any confi-
dence in our resources, I do not fear that a negotiation of mea-
sures that are in train may prove effectual : at what period, for
reasons I have already stated, it is impossible for me to imagine.
I am not apprehensive that parliament will not leave this to
take the course which the practice of our ancestors lays down to
us, and iLwhich reason dictates. I say, if we and our allies arc

L •

E FEB. 26

not false to each other and ourselves, we shall have an oppor.
amity- of restoring to Europe peace, on safe, just, and honour-
able grounds, and nothing but a premature motion like the
present can deprive us of that blessing ; and therefore, as a
lover of my country, and of justice, I oppose this motion.

The motion passed in the negative;

Noes 18!:)

_February 26. 1796.

Ma. 'WILLIAM SMITH having on a former day submitted to the House
a string of resolutions upon the subject of the late loan, setting out with
establishing the principle of an open and public competition, and, by a
ithies of facts and deductions, asserting the conclusion—tha t

the loan,
then - under consideration, was a bad and improvident one for the
public, and that the minister in conducting the negotiation, and in adjust-
ing the terms, had been guilty of a departure from his own principles,
;and of a breach of his duty :— the debate on this important question
was resumed this day.

Upon the first. resolution being moved, " That it appears to this
House, that the principle of making loans for the public service, by free
and open competition, uniformly professed by the chancellor of the
exchequer, has '.been very generally recognised, as affording the fairest
prospect of public advantage,"

. Mr. Sylvester Douglas, in a speech of considerable detail, moved an
amendment, to leave out- all the

-words of the resolution after the words
" public service," and to insert other words, which would make the
amended question stand as follows, ". That it appears to this House, that
the principle of snaking loans ,

for the public service by competition,
which was introduced, and 'has in general been acted upon, by the
present chancellor of the ekehever, 'has been productive in many
initaiites of grefitpiiblie'adfintage;

• but that this principle could nothe
applied in its full'exthnt , to:the bargain for the late loan, consistently
with the .peculiar circumstances of the ;case, and with that-attention to
the equitable claims of individuals, which ought ahyays to be shown in
transactions with them on thelthalf of the public."


n. subject so interesting to my personal feelings,
MH. a :O naturally

as well as so important in a public view, I am anxious to
address the House at a period of the debate, before their atten-,
Lion is more exhausted. And they will forgive me when I am
called upon to meet a charge of the most direct and important
nature, in which my personal character, as well as my official

situation , as a trustee for the public, are materially implicated,
and which has been so diligently and ably pursued, (though I
might be content to rest my defence on the impression of the
arguments and facts which have been brought forward by my
honourable friends, ) if, even at the hazard of some repetition, I
should advert to the points which press most closely upon my
own immediate feelings. Indeed I should not do justice to
myself, far less should I do justice to the public, if I did not
state them in as plain and intelligible a way as possible; at the
same time, .1 will endeavour to reply shortly to many- things
that have been asserted so much at large in the speech of the
honourable gentleman, who brought forward the subject, and
were likewise repeated at considerable length in the resolutions
and papers before the House.

The honourable gentlemart*, who has lately spoken, said, that
if my answer to one point was satisfactory, he would withdraw
his support from the charge against me. Though, in the course
of what I have to say, I shall not be inattentive to his question,
it cannot be expected that I should narrow my defence t-o) that
point. It cannot be supposed that from any recent declarations
which have been made by the honourable gentlemen, excul-
pating me from all charge of personal corruption, that from any
equivocal and imperfect disclaimers, accompanied, when re-
tracted, by artful suggestions and fresh insinuations,- I should
have forgotten that it was broadly stated by gentlemen on the
other side, who moved for a committee of inquiry, that there
was ground of suspicion that the distribution of the loan had

Mr. Francis.

1 4,8

been employed for thy,. purpose of corrupt influence. They,ex
empted me, indeed, from any charge of having regulated that

distribution from any view of sordid gain to myself; and I then.
took the liberty to say, feeling as I did on the subject, that I
was not obliged to them for the exception, or the sort of can-
dour that dictated it. If they formerly asserted that, if the
enquiry was 'gone into, and substantiated, the result would be,
to establish the actual interference of corrupt influence ; if such
declarations were rash and unguarded; if they were dictated by
the intemperate warmth of debate, or pushed beyond all bounds
of justifiable discretion, and if they are now retracted as unjust
and unfounded, I certainly have reason to rejoice in the pro-
gress which has been made, in consequence of the diligent and
sober i

nvestigation of a committee towards a decision so
much more grateful to my character and feelings. Undoubtedly
there is no charge which can be brought against the transac-
tion of the loan, there is no .instance of neglect, there is no
error of judgment, there is no want of prudence, which I
should not most seriously and severely regret; but still I should
consider such charges as light, compared with that which
formed the prominent point, and the most weighty one in the
present accusation, viz. that in the transaction of the late loan,

had acted on motives of corruption, partiality, and undue
influence, to answer political and interested purposes, both
within and without doors. I cannot therefore help

that while the ground on which the enquiry was originally
brought forward, " that the loan had been employed as the
means of corrupt and pernicious influence," is now professed
to be abandoned, instead of being, as the House had a right to
expect; either substantiated by proof, or wholly and completelydone away, it seems to be but half retracted by the honourablemover of the resolution, ' and to be supplied by ambiguoushints and fresh in

sinuations. After avowing that it was his
opinion, that the committee oughtto have asked for no lists,
he discovers a strange coincidence between the names in the
list of subscribers, and the names of a certain respectable body


of merchants and bankers, assembled for a great object of
political discussion ; a coincidence which could not be the effect
of accident . If this be true, and the act originated in design,
most certainly that design must have arisen from a corrupt
votive ; and if not for personal gain, that motive must have
resulted from a desire to obtain the means of corrupt influence.

The honourable gentleman brings no such charge against
me. His mode of acquittal is, however, somewhat singular ;
he imputes to me no motive of corrupt influence or undue
partiality . Ile desires me to say nothing of the transaction
relative to the Hamburgh bills, on which nevertheless some part
of the resolutions is founded, and which has been ascribed to
the motive of a determination to reward the services of an
individual by a sacrifice of the public interest. The right
honourable gentleman therefore openly disclaims all accusation,
while be supports the resolutions which contain the very charge
he so much affects to disclaim, drawn up with all the art and
address of the most cunning special pleader ; and certainly no
resolutions could be more ably drawn up, if the avowed purpose
of them had been to censure and undermine any man's public
and. private character. The honourable gentleman's ability in
the management of this point has been really singular. — He
acquits me of any intention of benefiting myself, or corrupting
parliament by means of the loan ; but then insists that the loan
was improperly made, and that it must have been so made for
some undue motive or other ; that is to say, he acquits me
of two specific undue motives, and exhorts me not to speak, in
order that I may leave myself undefended against the suspicion
of an endless train of indefinite undue motives, which ingenious
insinuation and artful malice may think proper to raise against
me. I do not deny that the nature of a transaction may be such
as to afford ground for the suspicion of an undue motive, even
though the motive itself may not appear on the face of the
transaction. If the transaction however be pecuniary, there

L 3

re.FEB. 26.

are only three motives which can be supposed to operate— per,
son& e

molument, private partiality, and public influence; andif, after the most accurate investigation, strong evidence be
brought to prove that none of these motives can be traced in
the present transaction,

have some right to take to myself
credit that no such motives eXisted, and that the charge has
been fully refuted.

The honourable gentleman who moved the
resolutions,stated that the c

ommittee had decided that there was no ground
for suspicion of any corrupt interference ; and thus, so far as
their judgment went, had put their negative on that ground,
on which the enquiry had originally been undertaken The
last speaker* on the other side has stated, that he disliked the
mode in which that committee was constituted. It might
have been supposed that a committee, which afforded to every
man, who was actuated by jealousy, suspicion, by public zeal,
or, if such a motive could be supposed to insinuate itself, by
private pique, an opportunity to state his sentiments, and to
disptay his.vigilance, was of all others the least liable to objec-
tion. It seemed, indeed, probable, in the first instance, that it
would be deprived of the assistance of two honourable gentle

n'ien -f- Whose abilities and diligence none would dispute. These
honourable gentlemen,. when it was declared that the, com-
mittee should be an open one, and that all who attended should
have voices, had, upon due deliberation no doubt, desired
their names to be withdrawn, and seemed to consider them-
selves as disgraced by being put in a situation in which they
should only exercise their privilege in common with every mem-

Of that House. I am happy, however, to find that these
gentlemen revised their first decision, that both assisted in 66 .
committee, and that one of them in particular distinguished
himself by his active anti constant attendance. It is rather
singular that the decision of the committee, by which they
negative all idea of corrupt in terference, is the only one which
the honourable mover conceives to be already so well recog-

Mr. Francis,

• Mr. Sheridan and Mr. Grey.


raised, that he excludes it from that string of resolutions which

he has presente d as an analysis of the whole report.
Another honourable gentleman states, that he thinks on that

point the committee have no right to give an opinion, and he
has declared so this day for the first time. If there is anything
forcible in this objection, it certainly is very unfair to bring it
forward now for the first time. Why was it not stated when
the report was received ? If the House bad then thought that
their committee had exceeded their powers, the report would
have been re-committed. But why is that opinion expressed by
the committee ? They assign it as a reason for not having given

particular detail of evidence, which by the resolution of the

House they were required to give, and which they had declined
to bring forward, on the ground that it 'was inconvenient to
individuals. It is surely a little hard that gentlemen should
first receive the whole of the evidence the committee thought
right to report, and then not admit the excuse for the omission
of that part of the evidence which was principally exculpatory
of the person whose conduct was the object of censure.

An honourable gentleman complains, 04 there was a want
of notice of the intention to conic to such a resolution in the
committee. Notice was however given the day before by my
right honourable friend", who spoke last, and who had not only
answered that point, but also explained the individual use that
1141 been made of the word " colleagues;" which meant to
apply generally to all who attended the committee, who cer-
tainly were colleagues on that enquiry and not merely official
persons; and I cannot admit that it was not likely that so
attentive and so able a man as the chairman of that committee
would have allowed any important resolution to be adopted
without a fair notice, even if there had been such a want..of
attention and . industry in those gentlemen on the other side,
who took a principal share in the investigation, as to afford atty,
room for such a charge. 1 therefore think myself entitled. to
assume the benefit of that opinion of the committee, not rviai

* Mr. Steele.

MR. PITT'S rpm 26,
those qualifications, equivocations, arid reserves, with whichit has been fettered by the honourable mover of the

resolutions,but as a clear, full, and decided testimony, that there was no
distribution of the loan for the purpose of corrupt i nfluence

.As to the other charges of undue partiality to any i ndividualfor
services supposed to have been performed to the government,it shortly r

esolves itself into the question, whether, by the mode
of setting the loan, I have contrived to enrich Mr. Boyd, by
a sacrifice of the public interest? I am aware

it has been said
that no such charge was meant to be conveyed ; but why
should such frequent allusion have been made to the Hamburgh
bills, except for that express purpose ? They would not have
been mentioned had it not been with a view to give counte-
nance to such an in

sinuation. I shall not, however, now fully
enter into the nature of that t ransaction, as an opportunity
will soon be presented when it shall be brought forward as an
object of separate enquiry. I will only at present shortly

statethe substance.

In every loan-bill, parliament inserts a clause holding out a pre-
mium for the prompt payment of the sums subscribed, foresee-
ing that governmen t

may possibly have occasion for the money
before the instalments become due in the regular course of pay-
ment. Last year, though large sums were paid up, still the
public exigences were such as to render additional supplies ne-
cessary, and the terms offered were not sufficiently tempting to
induce individuals to come forward with their money. Under
these circumstances government entered into a negotiation

a monied house to advance such sums as were wanted for the
service. The aid of parliament at that time could not be had
without calling it together at a great trouble and inconve-
nience, both public and s

private. In consequence of thistre
asury-warrants were offered; but Mr. Boyd said, that bills

of exchange were a more mercantile
commodity; and, to avoidthe expense of stamps, they were dated at Hamburg,h, to makethem foreign bills of exchange, they otherwise being inlandand subject to a stamp.


In the whole transaction, however, there was nothing ques.
tionable or suspicious, nothing unwarrantable on the part of
government which gave Mr. Boyd an exclusive right, far less a
discretionary power to dictate the terms of a future loan. —
So much for the subject and substance of the transaction, by
far the most material part of every such transaction ; the bills
themselves were nothing more than mere forms of security to
those who advanced the money. The giving them was only
an engagement on the part of government to make good the
sums advanced for the public. Whether that engagement was
executed on stamped or unstamped paper, whether written on
paper or on parchment, added nothing to the validity of the
security. The particular manner of executing it, was such
as was dictated by the necessary regard for secrecy. As to
the case of a merchant, in whom it was affirmed such a trans-
action . would be highly discreditable and suspicious, there was
nothing in common between -the conduct of a merchant in the
management of his private affairs, and that of the government
of a great country under the pressure of public exigences.
No comparison would, therefore, hold for a moment. It
might reasonably be suspected, that a merchant resorted to
such a mode of transacting business in order to supply the de-
ficiency of his capital, and to support a fictitious credit. In
the case of government, the sums were already voted, they
were only wanted for immediate service, and funds were pro-
vided to reimburse those who advanced them as soon as their
claims became due. But was this a service of such magnitude
and importance, as to be conceived to give Mr. Boyd such
strong claims upon government as could be construed into a
right to dictate the terms of the loan? Mr. Boyd never had
entertained such an idea, and I confess that this part of the
transaction was executed with the same liberality and zeal as
every other service to government which he has undertaken to
perform. It is supposed that, in order to reward Mr. Boyd,
the most likely method which I could devise, ‘icwhas i htiobeesotnolwy
upon him a loan of such considerable extent, in which


E Fgt.

is a holder among many others. Is it probable that in order to
reward him individually, the chancellor of the exchequer, at

atime of severe pressure, and when under the
necessity of

making such large demands from the House, should add eigh

or ten per cent. to the public burdens of the year ?
All this, however, turned upon a question of evidence, and

with respect to the evidence before the committee, it is a prin-
ciple in human nature, that where persons give evidence in a
case which involves their own interests and merits, their judg-
ments will imperceptibly and involuntarily be biassed to one side
of the question ; and all such evidence requires to be weighed
with the most scrupulous attention, and to be received with
some qualification. I am sure I mean to say nothing offensive'
or disrespectful to either gentleman, but I apply this principle
equally to Mr. Boyd and to Mr. Morgan. How far Mr. Boyd
had a share in the transaction of the Hamburgh bills, and how
far that had any influence on the disposition of the loan, appears
from the testimony of that gentleman himself. He declares
that he formed no claim front that circumstance ;' that he had
not the smallest expectation of any preference, nor did he con-
ceive that such an idea existed.. An& it is to be remarked, that
Boyd's evidence was clear and consistent with itself, distinct,

it,.plain, and explicit, while Morgan's, in many material points,
was inconsistent, and not only contradicted by himself, but by
every authority and evidence that was confronted with it. After
stating that the governor of the bank had warned him of some-
thing, which was likely to secure to Mr. Boyd a preference to
the loan, he had, Mr. Morgan says, upon being questioned,
more particularly affirmed, that he had not mentioned what
that something was. Afterwards he said, that the governor of
the bank described the transaction of the Hamburgh bills, as
likely to secure a preference to Mr. Boyd. So much for fir. -
Morgan contradicting himself. The governor of the bank,
upon being examined, expressly stated, that lie had not men-
tioned a syllable about the bills ; that he had only said, that Mr.
Boyd had a claim from the loan of last year, which he con-


ceiyeel him to be too sagacious , to allow to escape him. If I
bad determined to avail myself of an opportunity to throw the
loan, at all events, into the hands of Mr. Boyd, could I not have

found some better mode of achieving my purpose, than that

which I pursued ? Should I have held out the system of com-

petitio n ? Should I have deliberately announced my intention
for that purpose, and have invited competitors, when I was
aware that the result could tend only to beget animosity and dis-
appointmen t? Should I have expressed my reluctance to the.
claims of Mr. Boyd, and yielded to them only upon the convice
tion that they were well founded ? If nothing was got by the
intention which I at first announced of a free competition, but
increasing difficulty and accumulated embarrassment, as to the
mode in which the bargain was ultimately settled, is not this
internal evidence better than any parole proof that can be ad-
duced, that I was completely sincere in the month of October,
when I first announced that intention, and that I had formed no
determination to benefit Mr. Boyd at any rate, by giving him a
preference? I had not then examined his claim, because it had
not then been stated to me so distinctly, and because it had not
been brought to my recollection by the governor of' the bank.
If, then, 1. was under the influence of error, it was because I
carried the system of competition strong in my mind, and be-
cause, looking solely to that, I neglected, in the first instance,
to attend sufficiently to the claims of Mr. Boyd, and kept them
back longer than, as it afterwards appeared to me, in justice I
ought to have done.

As to the injury which Mr. Morgan and his friends may have
suffered, from having prepared their money in order to bid, that
surely cannot be seriously insisted on, while it is recollected
That the final adjustment of every loan is matter of so much
uncertainty, and connected with so many collateral consider-
ations. No communication from the bank, as to competition,
ever took place, except with respect to Mr. Boyd. How could
Mr. Morgan contend, that he had sustained injury from having
prepared his property to qualify himself to be a bidder, When


MR. pars

he stated, that, till the 23d of November, he never began to
doubt that there would be a

competition. His own account ofhis inf
ormation on this subject was rather whimsical ; it camefrom a co

nfidential friend, of whom he knew nothing, who in-
formed him that he had heard, from a third person, that Boyd
was sure of the loan ; and yet, though his information led him
to know more than the rest of the world, he went on with

hisspeculations, and never doubted that there would be a com-
petition till the twenty-third of November ; he therefore wouldnot be res

ponsible for any loss that the parties might sustainfrom such speculations. All lists or plans that were

about were merely speculations, particularly Morgans ; and
ifthe parties have sustained any injury, it lies entirely

with himand themselves.

The next point was the nature of Boyd's claim, and the im-
propriety of departing from the system of

competition. As to
the claim of Mr. Boyd, it has been proved that I, at first, testi-fied strong p rejudices and great reluctance, which were not over-
come till it was brought forward in a shape in which it was nolonger con

trovertible ; that I admitted the principle of compe-
tition, and receded from it only when fair and just grounds were
adduced on the part of an individual to warrant a deviation from
the general system. Here a great deal of minute criticism has
been displayed by gentlemen on the other side, with respect to
Mr. Boyd's letter. I was in the situation of a

judge trying a
cause between Mr. Boyd and the public; acting as a trustee for
the latter on the one hand, and a person called upon to decide
on the justice of the claim of an individual on the other. The
claim of Mr. Boyd may have been asserted too

strongly, or thecontrary might have been the case. Was the
consideration ofthe manner in which his cause was urged, however, to have any

influence on my mind in the decision on the justice of his claims?
I now stand here accused. I have been placed in the high situa-
tion of a judge, and now I appear

in the more humble one ofa person accused, defending myself against a
foul charge. Ithas been said that I was bound to pay no attention to the claims


of Mr. Boyd for a preference, because there was no express
agreement, no specific terms of engagement for that purpose.
Gentlemen seem to think that unless government were bound
down by specific terms, an engagement of this sort entered into
by them should not be abided by ; might there not, however,
be some common understanding, some implied condition, some
strong and clear construction, equally binding on the minister
of the country to the observance of the claim in point of honour
and justice ? No personal inconvenience shall ever induce me
to depart from the terms of what I consider an honourable deal-
ing, when a claim is made up founded on an understood and
implied condition, on the nature of things, and a practice re-
cognised by a constant usage. Had there been an express
agreement, it would have unquestionably been presented to my
recollection, but this was no reason why an explanation properly
understood, and clearly made out, should not receive its due
degree of attention. In transacting all loans, there must be
preliminary points of conversation ; a good deal of discussion
naturally takes place, some particulars of which are committed
to memorandums, and others suffered to pass more loosely.

In the loan of 1795, it was proposed by the contractors that
there should be no payment on any new loan till February of the
succeeding year, to which I readily assented, not conceiving that
the exigences.Of the public service would require any money to
be advanced before that period. Of this promise I was reminded
by the governor of the Bank of England, and I was the more
confirmed in its propriety, as I found that no new loan had
taken place in such circumstances, even where no assurance
direct, or by implication, had been given.

ildr. Pitt then noticed the connection in which contractors
stood with government, distinct from the scrip-holders, and which
gave to them particular claims. Contractors bad, in the first
instance, to treat with ministers, and were immediately respon-
sible for the fulfilment of the term. Government neither could
ascertain, nor had any thing to do with, the scrip-holders ; they
had no claim ....were under no engagement; the contractors

[Fee. 96.

were. As to that part of the resolutions which censured the
terms of the loan, it was easy for ingenious men to connect or
confound facts by stating some that were true, and

om itting
others that were equally true, so as to make their reasoning upon
them apply to the particular purpose for which they were thus
drawn up. In this place he would say, that his g

reatestobjections to the resolutions were, that in them the
honourablegentleman had contrived to put together a collection of truths,

in such a manner as to convey all the malignity and venom of
falsehood. He adverted to the term

open and free competition,from which he was said to have departed, and
remarked, that in

order to secure the interests of the public, and prevent the
manoeuvres of designing persons, every competition must, to a
certain degree, be qualified —at least by the

consideration how
far the parties were competent to fulfil their bargain. He never
meant any but a system of qualified competition ; and from thisit was not true, as stated in the resolution, that he had made a
total departure. He then justified the propriety of his own
conduct, in not having l

efthimse/f at the mercy of Boyd and Co.but when the qualified competition which he held out was
declined by the others, in having taken such precautions as still
enabled him 'to name his own terms. But he was asked, why
did he not send the loan back again into the city ? What ;
after it had been rejected by two sets of gentlemen, and when it
would come in the less:inviting shape of qualified competition !When the most f

avourable terms could only bring forward three
parties, was it probable that the less favourable terms would
produce more ? When a day was fixed for conversation on theloan, it

was necessary that some interval should take place, that
the parties might deliberate on the terms; when

all was finally
arranged, he saw no good that could possibly arise from a delay
of forty-eight hours, a period of suspense and

un certainty, of
which advantage might be taken to occasion fluctuations in thepublic funds ; —one cir

cumstance that made him determine not
to let the contractor leave his house till the bargain was closed.
He accounted for the delay which took place between tb.e time


the bargain was made, and its being intimated to the House, by

bis being disappointed in bringing on the budget, .as he first
intended, on the 2d of December. It was well known to the
House, the pressure and importance of the public business which

then was in dailyly agitation, and which totally precluded him
from making the necessary arrangements for the budget. He

defended the manner in which he had exercised his discretion in
making the terms ; and having described the state of the coun-
try, though.by no means so impoverished and exhausted as op-
position would represent it, he thought credit was due to those
efforts by which government had been able to contract for so
large a loan in the fourth year of the war, upon even better
terms than had been obtained in former years ; which he exem-
plified by a comparison of this with the last year's loan, which
was sanctioned by parliament without a single objection ; and
would leave it to the House to decide whether, in the present
instance, he most deserved their censure or approbation.

The next -point was the effect of the King's menage ; those
Who knew him best, knew that it was ad in his mind when the
bargain was made. But if he had forseen it, he could not have

foreseen the rise that took place in the stocks. He was no party
to any such fraud; but to whatever cause that temporary rise
was to be ascribed, it certainly was not produced by the message
only. Whatever ideas of peace or negotiation people who
wished for it might entertain, there was nothing more in the
message than a declaration, that the time was arrived, to which
His Majesty had alluded-in his speech to parliament. Any one
who carried its meaning farther, was either too sanguine in ex-
pectation, or intended to raise hopes which could not be real-
ised. Besides the message, there were other collateral causes for
the sudden rise of the stocks — the unexpected victories of the
Austrians, the increasing distresses of the enemy, the serene
and tranquil appearance of affairs at home, compared with that
cloudy and turbulent aspect which they bore during the period
when the terms of the loan were originally settled (the discussion
of the two bills). All these causes, coupled with the intimation

clude my defence.

assertion concludes the charge against me ; and with

desiringthe House to attend to the extr
avagance of this assertion, I con-

pounds, by the mode of negotiating the present loan. With

given away a sum of two millions one hundred and fifty thousand

premeditation. thlder these
circumstances, I am said to have

turn to the terms of the loan, to have been the result of my
and unforeseen causes, which operated to give so

favourable a

to centre in the individual contractors, and all the concurring

ket, as must have occasioned a depression, that would greatlyhave ov
erbalanced the temporary rise. All the profit is stated

stance which would have brought such a quantity into the

must have been disposed of within these few hours, a circum-
hours. So that, in order to make out this profit, all the


so that altogether it did not bear this price for above a few
four days, during which stocks were exceedingly fluctuating;
loan amounted to 12 per cent. It amounted to this sum only for
through the country. It had been stated, that the profit upon the

of figures had been brought forward, in order to be

public, had been greatly ov
er-rated. An exaggerated statement

extent of the benefit to the contractors, and of the loss to the

which singly they would have failed to produce. After all, th

that peace only depended on the disposition of the enemy, con).
bined to give that sudden and

extraordinary rise to the funds,

[pEz. 26


On a division, the amendment was carried,

.... ..... 171
and Mr. Smith's remaining .Noes...............

were severally put and negatived.


May 10. 1796.

MR. Fox, in pursuance of the notice he had previously given, this day
submitted to the House a motion for an entire change in the system hi-
therto pursued by ministers in regard to external politics; concluding his
speech with moving,

That an address be presented to His Majesty, most humbly to offer
to his royal consideration, that judgment which his faithful Commons have
formed, and now deem it their duty to declare, concerning the conduct
of his ministers in the commencement, and during the. progress, of the
present unfortunate war. As long as it was possible for us to doubt from
what source the national distresses had arisen, we have, in times of dif-
ficulty and peril, thought ourselves bound to strengthen His Majesty's
government for the protection of his subjects, by our confidence and
support. But our duties, as His Majesty's counsellors, and as the repre-
sentatives of his people, will no longer permit us to dissemble our deli-
berate and determined opinion that the distress, difficulty, and peril, to
which this country is now subjected, have arisen from the misconduct
of the King's ministers, and are likely to subsist and increase as long as
the same principles which have hitherto guided these ministers shall
continue to prevail in the councils of Great Britain.

" It is painful for us to remind His Majesty of the situation-of his do-
minions at the beginning of the war, and of the high degree of prosperity
to which the skill and industry of his subjects lied, under the safeguard of
a free constitution, raised the British empire, since it can only fill his -
mind with the melancholy recollection of prosperity abused, and of op-
portunities of securing permanent advantages wantonly rejected. Nor
shall we presume to wound His Majesty's benevolence, by dwelling on the
fortunate circumstances that might have arisen from the mediation of Great
Britain between the powers then at war, which might have insured the
permanence of our prosperity, while it preserved all Europe from the ca-
lamities which it has since endured ; — a mediation which this kingdom
was so well fitted to carry on with vigour and dignity, by its power, its
character, and the nature of its government, happily removed at an equal
distance from the contending extremes of licentiousness and tyranny,

" From this neutral and impartial system of policy, his Majesty's mi-
nisters were induced to depart by certain measures of the French govern-
ment, of which they complained as injurious and hostile to this country..
With what justice those complaints were made, we are not now called
upon -to determine, since it cannot be pretended that the measures of
Prance were of such a nature as to preclude the possibility of adjustment



by negotiation ; and it is impossible to deny, that the power which shuts
up the channel of acco

mmodation must be the real aggressor in war.
To reject negotiation is to determine on hostilities; and, whatever may,
have been the nature of the points in question between us and France,
we cannot but pronounce the refusal of such an authorised

communica-tion with that country, as might have amicably terminated the dispute,to be the true and immediate cause of the rupture which followed:
" Nor can we forbear to remark, that the pretences under which His

Majesty's ministers then haughtily refused such authorised
communica-tion have been sufficiently exposed by their own conduct, in since sub.

mitting to a similar intercourse with the same government.
" The misguided policy which thus rendered the war inevitable, appears

to have actuated ministers in their determination to continue it at all
hazards. At the same time we cannot but observe, that the

with which they have adhered to their desperate system is not more re-
markable than their versatility in the pretexts upon which they, have jus-
titled it. At one period the strength, at another the weakness of the
enemy has been urged as motives for continuing the war; the

as well as the defeats of the allies, have contributed only to prolong

contest; and hope and despair have equally served to involve us stilldeeper in

the horrors of war, and to entail upon us an endless train of
calamities. After the original professed objects had been obtained by the
expulsion of the French armies from the territories of Holland and theAustrian N

etherlands, we find His Majesty's ministers, influenced either
by arrogance, or infatuated by ambition and vain hope of conquests,
which, if realised, could never compensate to the nation for the blood
and treasure by which they must be obtained, rejecting, unheard,

theOvertures made by the executive council of France, at a period when the
circumstances were so eminently favourable to His Majesty and his allies,
that there is every reason to suppose that a negotiation, commenced at
such a juncture, must have terminated in an honourable and advantageous
peace: to the prospects arising from such an opportunity they

a blind and obstinate perseverance in a war which could scarce have any
remaining object but the unjustifiable purpose of imposing upon France a
government disapproved of by the inhabitants of that country. And
such was the infatuation of these ministers, that, far from being able toframe a wise and co

mprehensive system of policy, they even rejected the
few advantages that belonged to their own unfortunate scheme.

Thegeneral existence of a design to interpose in the internal government of
France was too manifest not to rouse into active hostility the national zeal
of that people: but their particular projects were too equivocal to attract -
the confidence, or procure the co-operation of these Frenchmen who
were disaffected to the government of their country. The nature of


these plans was too clear not to provoke formidable enemies, but their
extent was too ambiguous to conciliate useful friends.

c, We beg leave further to represent to Your Majesty, that at subse-
quent periods your ministers have su fired the most favorable opportu-
nities to escape of obtaining an honourable and advantageous pacification.
They did not avail themselves, as it was their duty to have done, of the
unbroken strength of the general confederacy which had been formed
against France, for the purpose of giving effect to overtures for nego-
tiation. They saw the secession of several powerful states from that
confederac y ; they suffered it to dissolve without an effort for the attain-
ment ofgeneral pacification. They loaded their country with the odium
of having engaged it in a combination charged with the most question-
able and unjustifiable views, without availing themselves of that combina-
tion for procuring favourable conditions of peace. That from this fatal
neglect, the progress of hostilities has only served to establish the evils
which certainly might have been avoided by negotiation, but which are
now confirmed by the events of the war. We have felt that the unjusti-
fiable and impracticable efforts to establish royalty in France, by force,
have only proved fatal to its unfortunate supporters. We have seen with
regret the subjugation of Holland, and the aggrandisement of the French
republic, and we have to lament the alteration in the state of Europe,
not only from the successes of the French, but from the formidable
acquisitions of some of the allied powers on the side of Poland, acqui-
sitions alarming from their magnitude, but still more so from the man-
ner in which they have been made; thus fatally learning that the war
has tended alone to establish the very evils for the prevention of which
it was avowedly undertaken.

That we now therefore approach IIis Majesty to assure that his
faithful Commons heard, with the sincerest satisfaction, His Majesty's most
gracious message, of the 8th of December, wherein His Majesty acquaints
them, that the crisis which was depending, at the commencement of the
present session, had led to such an order of things, as would induce His
Majesty to meet any disposition to negotiation on the part of the enemy,
with an earnest desire to give it the fullest and speediest abet, and to
conclude a general treaty of peace, whenever it could be effected on
just and equitable terms, for himself and his allies.

" That from this gracious communication they were led to hope for a
speedy termination to this most disastrous contest, but that with surprise
and sorrow they have now reason to apprehend that three months were
suffered to elapse before any steps were taken towards a negotiation, or
any overtures made by His Majesty's servants.

" With equal surprise and concern they have observed, when a fair
and open conduct was so peculiarly incumbent on His'Majesty's ministers,

M 2

164 MR. PITT'S CMAy 10,
considering the prejudices and suspicions which their previous conduc

must have excited in the minds of the French, that, instead of adoptingthe open and manly manner which became the wisdom, the character,
and the dignity of the British nation, they adopted a mode

cal culated
rather to excite suspicion, than to inspire confidence in the enemy.
Every expression which might be construed into an acknowledgment
of the French republic, or even an allusion to its forms, was studiously
avoided : and the minister, through whom this overture was made, was,
in a most unprecedented manner, instructed to declare, that he had no
authority to enter into any ne gotiation or discussion relative to the objects

.of the proposed treaty.
" That it is with pain we reflect that the alacrity of His Majesty's

nisters in apparently breaking off this incipient negotiation, as well as the
strange and unusual manner in which it was announced to the ministers
of the various powers of Europe, affords a very unfavourable comment
on their reluctance in entering upon it, and is calculated to make the
most injurious impression respecting their sincerity on the people of
France. On a review of many instances of gross and flagrant miseoduct, proceeding from the same pernicious principles, and directed w4incorrigible obstinacy to the same mischievous ends, we deem ourselyil

.bound in duty to His Majesty, and to our constituents to declare, did-
we sec

no rational hope of redeeming the affairs of the kingdom but by
the adoption of a system radically and fundamentally different from that
which has produced our present calamities. Until His Majesty's ministers
shall, from a real conviction of past errors, appear inclined to regulate
their conduct upon such a system, we can

neither give any credit to the

sincerity of their professions of a wish for peace, nor repose any con-
fidence in their capacity for conducting a negotiation to a prosperous
issue. Odious as they are to an enemy, who must still believe them
strictly to cherish those unprincipled and chimerical projects which they
have been compelled in public to disavow; contemptible in the eyes of
all Europe from the display of insincerity and incapacity which has
marked their conduct, our only hopes rest on His Majesty's royal wis-
dom and unquestioned affection for his people, that he will be graciously
pleased to adopt maxims of policy more suited to the circumstances of
the times than those by which his ministers appear to have been governed,
and to direct his servants to take measures, which, by differing essentially
as well in their tendency, as in the principle upon which they are
founded, from those which have hitherto marked their conduct,

maygive this country some reasonable hope, at no very distant period, of
the establishment of peace suitable to the interests of Great Britain,
and likely to preserve the tranquillity of Europe."

1 796.]

The motion being read, Mr. PITT immediately rose:

It is far from being my intention, Sir, unnecessarily to detain
the attention of the House, by expatiating at any great length

the various topics introduced into the very long and elabo-

rate speech which you have now heard pronounced. The right
honourable gentleman who delivered it, thought proper to lay
considerable stress on the authority of a celebrated orator of
antiquity 4*, who established it as a maxim, that, from a retro-


spect of past errors, we should rectify our conduct for the future ;
and that if they were errors of incapacity only that had occa-
sioned our misfortunes, and not an absence of zeal, strength, and
resources to maintain our cause, and secure our defence, instead
of such a disappoinment being a cause of despair, it should, on
the contrary, invigorate our' exertions, and reanimate our hopes.
That such a retrospect may, in most cases, be wise and salutary,
is a proposition which will hardly be denied. It is evident, that
our appeal to experience is the best guard to future conduct, and
that it may be necessary to probe the nature of the misfortune,
in order to apply a suitable remedy. But in a question so mo-
mentous and interesting to the country, as undoubtedly the pre-
sent question must be, if it can be deemed expedient to run out
into a long retrospective view of past calamities, surely it must
be far more so to point out the mode by which their fatal effects
may be averted, and by proving the origin of the evils com-
plained of, to judge of the nature and ef ficacy of the remedies
to be applied. Whatever, therefore, our present situation may
be, it certainly cannot be wise to fix our attention solely on
what is past, but rather to look to what still can, and remains to
be done. This is more naturally the subject that should be pro-
posed to the discussion of a deliberative assembly. Whatever
may have been the origin of the contest in which we are engaged,
when all the circumstances attending it are duly considered, it
has had the effect of uniting all candid and impartial men, in


166 MR. PITT'S

EMAY 10.

owledging the undisputed justice of our cause, and the un-
just and wanton aggression on the part of the enemy. Such
having been, and still, I presume to say, being the more general
opinion, prudence then must tell us to dismiss all

views of the subject, and to direct the whole of our attention to
what our actual situation requires we should do. The

righthonourable gentleman must have consumed much time in pre-
paring the r

etrospect he has just taken of our past disasters; and
he has consumed much of his time in detailing it to the House;but instead of lavishing away

what was so precious on evils
which, according to him, admit of no remedy or change,

wouldit not be more becoming him, as a friend to his country, and an
enlightened member of this House, to attend to what new circum-
stances may produce, and to trace out the line of conduct which
in the present state of things it would he prudent to pursue?

In the close of his speech the right honourable gentleman al-
luded to his former professions respecting the prosecution of the
war. According to these professions, he, and every gentleman
who thought with him, declared, that should the enemy reject
overtures of peace, or appear reluctant to enter into negotiation,
when proposed, then he; and every man in the country would
unite in advising the adoption of the most vigorous measures:
mid that not only such conduct on the part of the enemy would
unite every Englishman in the cause, but that while it united
England, it must divide France, who would be indignant against
whatever government or governors should dare to reject what
was the sincere wish of the majority of its inhabitants. Instead,
therefore, of expatiating on the exhausted state of the financial
resources of the country,

and running into an historical detail of
all our past calamities, a subject which almost engrossed the right
honourable gentleman's speech, I Must beg leave to remind him
of those his former professsions, and invite. him to make good the
pledge he has so often given to this House, and to the country,
and not to inflame the arrogance and unjust pretensions of the
enemy, by an e

xaggerated statement of our past misfortunes,
or of our present inability to retrieve them by a spirited and


vigorous prosecution of the war. His feelings as an Englishman,
and his duty as a member of parliament, must assuredly induce
the right honourable gentleman to exert his abilities in suggest-
ing the most effectual means of insuring our success in the con-
test, especially since he heard the late arrogant and ambitious
professions of the enemy. All retrospective views I therefore
for the present must regard as useless, and think.it far more Wise
and urgent to provide for the success of future exertions ; net

that 1 decline entering into the retrospect to which I am chal-
lenged, which I am ready to do with the indulgence of the House,
but because I feel it of more serious importance to call your
attention, not to the retrospect alone, but rather to the actual
state of things, which the right honourable gentleman has
entirely omitted.

And, first, let me observe, that, while I endeavour to follow
the right honourable gentleman through his very long detail of
facts and events, I shall follow him as they bear on a particular
conclusion which he wishes to draw from them, but which the
country does not call for, and which it will not admit. What
is the conclusion to which he wishes to lead us Does it not

go to record a confession and retractation of our past errors ? An
avowal that, instead of a just and necessary war, to which we
were compelled by an unprovoked aggression, we are embarked
in a contest in which we wantonly and unjustly engaged, while
our defence is evidently such as our dearest interests call for,
and which a regard to justice, and to every moral principle,
legitimates and sanctifies? Can, then, this House adopt a motion,
which directly contradicts its recorded opinions, and which
tends to force on it new counsels; or, in other words, to oblige
it to rescind all the resolutions- it has come to since the corn.
menceMent of the war ? The right honourable gentleman has, in
rich and glowing colouring, depicted our exhausted resources ;
the want of vigour in our measures, and the inattention of minis-
ters to seize on the more favourable opportunities for making
peace. He also assumes, that the sole cause of the war was the
restoration of monarchy in France; and that this cause after.


168 MR. PITT'S
[MAY 10.

wards shifted into various other complexions. All these charges,
however, as well as the unjustness of the war, he establishes only
by presumption. The right honourable gentleman then goes
back to 1792, when he says the first opportunity was offered of
our procuring peace to Europe, but of which ministers did not
avail themselves. He also refers to a speech made- by me on
the opening of the budget of that year, which he describes as
having been uttered in a tone of great satisfaction, triumph, and
exultation. It is true, indeed, that I felt much satisfaction in
exhibiting to the country the high degree of prosperity to which
it had then reached ;

not less satisfaction, I am sure, than the
honourable gentleman seems to feel in giving the melancholy
picture that his motion has now drawn of its present reduced
situation ; and I felt the more vivid satisfaction in viewing that ,
prosperity, as it enabled us to prepare for, and enter into, a
contest of a nature altogether unprecedented. Now, however,
when that prosperity is over, the honourable gentleman dwells
on it rather rapturously, though it seemed little to affect him at
the time it was enjoyed. But, not only are ministers accused
of having neglected the opportunities of making peace, but when
they have attempted overtures of that nature, they arc charged
with insincerity, or with holding forth something in the shape
and make of these overtures that must create suspicions of their
sincerity in the enemy; or provoke their disgust. What can
countenance such an accusation, I am sadly at a loss to discover :.
for at the periods alluded to, every motive of public duty, every
consideration of personal ease, must have induced me to exert
the best of my endeavours to promote a peace, by which alone I
could be enabled to effect the favourite objects I had in view, of
redeeming the public debt and the 4 per cents. as alluded to,by
thei honourable gentleman. No stronger proofs could be given
of the sincerity ofgovernment to promote and insure peace, than
was then given by His Majesty's ministers; and if they were
disappointed, the fault is not with them, but their conduct must
be understood and justified by the imperious necessity which in
1793 compelled them to resist an unprovoked aggression. As to


the accusations urged against us of not offering our mediation,
or even refusing it when solicited, they are equally of little
weight. Are ministers to be blamed for what it would he
hazardous in them to attempt, and would it not be hazardous
to propose a mediation where both parties were not ready to
agree? To have erected ourselves into arbiters,, only ex-

pose us to difficulties and disputes, if we were determined, as we
ought to be, to enforce that mediation on the parties who refused
to admit it. And what is the great use which the honourable
gentleman seems to be so eager to derive from that peace, if so
procured ? Is it fit that we should go to war in order to prevent
the partition of Poland ? In general policy, I am ready to con-
fess, that this partition is unjust ; but it does not go, as is said,
to overturn the balance of power in Europe, for which the right
honourable gentleman, as it suits his argument e expresses greater
or less solicitude ; for that country being nearly divided equally
between three great powers, it can little contribute to the undue
aggrandisement of either. But how strange did it seem in that
right honourable gentleman, who inveighed so strongly against
the partition of' Poland, to censure ministers for their endeavours
to prevent the partition of Turkey, when it was the establishment
Of the principle; that this country could not interfere to prevent
the partition of Turkey, precluded the possibility of any inter-
ference with respect to Poland !

As to the latter transactions that have occurred between this
country and France, they are too recent in the memory of the
House, to require that I should call their attention to them. The
resolutions to which we have come on this subject, are too sacred
and too solemn, the opinion too settled and too deeply formed,
to be lightly reversed. We cannot, surely, forget the first
cause of complaint, allowed to be well founded, and the famous
decree of the 19th of November, which was an insult and
an outrage on all civilised nations. Seditious men, delegated
from this country, with treason in their mouths, and rebellion
in their hearts, were received, welcomed, and caressed by
the legislature of France. That government, without waiting

until it had even established itself; declared hostilities
agains tall the old established systems: without having

scarcely az,
existence in itself, it had the presumption to promise to

inter-pose lb the destruction of all the existing g
overnments in the

world. All governments alike fell under its vengeance ; the
old forms were contemned and . reprobated ; those Which had
stood the test of experience, whether monarchy, aristocracy,
or mixed democracy, were all to be destroyed. They declared
that they would join the rebellious subjects of any state to over.:
turn their gov

ernment. And what was the explanation received
from M. Chauvelin on these subjects of complaint ? Did it
amount to any more than that the French would not in termeddle
with the form of government in other countries, unless it ap-
peared that the majority of the people required it to be changed ?
As, to their declaration against aggrandisement, without stop-
ping to argue a.point that is so extremely clear, I will only refer
the House to their whole conduct towards Belgium. They
declared that they would never interfere in the government of
Belgium, after it had consolidated its liberties; — a strange way
Of declining interference when a form of constitution was forced
upon it, bearing the name, but not the stamp of liberty, and
compelling the Belgians to consolidate and preserve it. With
respect to another cause of war, viz, the opening of the Scheldt,
their explanations regarding that circumstance, and their in-
tentions upon Holland, were equally u nsatisfactory ; their ulti-
matum was, that they would give no further satisfaction ; and
their refusing a fair explanation made them the aggressors in
reality; if not in form. Still, however, the channel of nego-
tiation was not cut off by this country : as long as the King of
France retained a shadow of power, M. Chauvelin continued
to be received in an official capacity ; and even after the cruel
Catastrophe of that unfortunate monarch, His Majesty's minister
at the Hague did not refuse to communicate With GeneralDurnOttrier,- when he expressed a Wish to hold a conference
With hinYfélative to some proposals of peace. When all these
opporttiriitieS had been Offered and neglected, they declared





Ivar, and left us no choice, in form or in substance, but reduced
us to the necessity of repelling an unjust aggression. In every
point of view, they therefore were evidently the aggressors,
even according to the right honourable gentleman's own prin.
eiples, and we certainly took every precaution, that it was
either fit, or possible to do, to avoid it.

I cannot help wishing to recal the attention of the House to
the general conclusion of what I have stated, for upon that rests
all I have to say on the first part of the right honourable
gentleman's propositions. If the House had been hurried by
passion into the war, if it had been hurried by the false opinion
of others, or by any unjust pretensions of its own, would it go
to the enemy to atone for its misconduct, and accede to such
conditions as the enemy might offer ? Could it happen that a
war not ordinarily just and necessary, when applied to every
moral principle, should in form be so untrue, that, after three
years' standing, it should be found all illusion ? If the House
cannot acknowlege these things, much less can I believe,
admitting all the depreciated statements of our resources to be
true, and founded to such an extent as to make us submit
almost to any humiliation, that last of all we should submit to
the pride and ambition of an enemy, whose hypocrisy, injus-
tice, tyranny, and oppression we have so repeatedly witnessed,
reprobated, and deplored : and yet that was what the right
honourable gentleman proposed. He proposed that we should
bow down before the enemy, with the cord about our necks,
when we have not felt the self-reproach of doing wrong ; to
renounce and abjure our recorded professions, and receive a
sentence of condemnation, as severe as undeserved. This I
contend would he to renounce the character of Britons. Ever,
if, by the adverse fortune of war, we should be driven to stiaor
peace, I hope we shall never be mean enough to acknowledge
toauinrs ietl..ves guilty of a falsehood and injustice, in order to ob-

The right honourable gentleman's next accusation against
ministers is, that they have been guilty of a radical error, in

MAY 10
172 MR. PITT'S


not a
cknowledging the French republic. It is said this has

been the bar to all treaty : this has prevented every overture in
subsequent situations. I admit that it has so happened, that we
have never acknowledged the republic, and I admit also, that

application nor overture for peace, on the part of this coun-
try, has been made till lately. I admit, that after the siege of
Valenciennes, I did say it was not then advisable to make con-
ditions, and I admit also, that when we struggled under disad-
vantages, I was equally averse : whence the right honourable
gentleman infers, " that if you will not treat for peace when you

, are successful, nor treat for it when you are unfortunate, there
must be some secret cause, which induces us to believe you are
not disposed to treat at all." Is it reasonable, I ask, when a just
hope is entertained of increasing our advantages, to risk the
opportunity which those advantages would secure of making
better terms ; or, is it reasonable when we experience great and
deplorable misfortunes, to entertain a just apprehension of ob-
taining a permanent and honourable peace, on fair and perma-
nent conditions ? These are the principles on which I have
acted, and they are raised upon the fair grounds of human
action. If success enough were gained to force the enemy to re-
linquish a part of their possessions, and we might not yet hope
to be wholly relieved from similar dangers, except by a repetition
of similar efforts and similar success, was it inconsistent for a
lover of his country to push those efforts further upon the rea-
sonable expectation of securing a more permanent and honour-
able peace ? And, on the other hand, when we experienced the
sad reverse of fortune, when the spirit of our allies was broken,
our troops discomfited, our territories wrested from us, and all
our hopes disconcerted and overthrown, did it argue a want of
reason or a want of prudence not to yield to the temporary
pressure ? The same situations to a well-tempered mind would
always dictate the same mode of conduct. In carrying on the
war, we have met with misfortunes, God knows, severe and
bitter! Exclusive of positive acquisitions however, have we
gained nothing by the change which has taken place in France ?


I f we bad made peace, as the right honourable gentleman says
we ought to have done, in 1793, we should have made it before
France had lost her trade ; before she had exhausted her
capital; before her foreign possessions were captured, and her
navy destroyed. This is my answer to every part of the right
honourable gentleman's speech relative to making peace at
those earl

lypuesrioiodns.But a

is once more introduced as to the object of
the war. Ministers have repeatedly and distinctly stated the
object, but it is a custom, on the other side of the House to take
unguarded and warm expressions of individuals in favour of the
war, for declarations of ministers. Thus, many things which
fell from that great man (Mr. Burke) have since been stated as
the solemn declaration of government ; though it is known that,
to a certain extent, there is a difference between ministers and
that gentleman upon 'this subject. But then it is to be taken as
clear, that ministers are not only anxious for the restoration of
monarchy in France, but the old monarchy with all its abuses.
That ministers wished to treat with a government in which jaco-
bin principles should not prevail, that they wished for a govern-
ment from which they could hope for security, and that they
thought a monarchy the most likely form of government to af-
ford to them these advantages, is most undoubtedly true ; but
that ministers ever had an idea of continuing the war for the
purpose of re-establishing the old government of France, with
all its abuses, I solemnly deny. If, for the reasons I have
before stated, it would not have been prudent to have made a
peace in the early stage of our contest, surely it would not have
been advisable when the enemy were inflated with success.
-The fate of the campaign of 1794 turned against us upon as
narrow a point as I believe ever occurred. We were unfortu-
nate, but the blame did not rest here : that campaign led to
the conquest of Holland, and to the consternation which im-
mediately extended itself among the people of Germany 'and
England. What, however, was the conduct of ministers at that
period ? If they had given way to the alarm, they would have


been censurable indeed : instead of doing so, they immediately
sent out expeditions to capture the Dutch settlements, which we
may now either restore to the stadtholder, if he should be re-
stored, or else we :may retain them ourselves. If, instead of that
line of conduct, His Majesty's ministers had then acknowledged
the French republic, does the right honourable gentleman, does
the House, suppose that •the terms we should then have obtained
would have been better than those we can now expect ? Then,
it vas asked, why did not administration negotiate for peace be-
fore the confederacy was weakened by the defection of Spain and
Prussia, because, of course, better terms might have been ob-
tained when the allies were all united, than could be expected
after they became divided ? It undoubtedly would have been a
most advantageous thing, if we could have prevailed upon the
Kings of Spain and Prussia to have continued the war until the
enemy were brought to terms, but that not having been the case,
we at least had the advantage of the assistance of those powers,
while they remained in the confederacy. Before any blame can
attach upon ministers upon this ground, it will be necessary to

ew, that, prior to the defection of Prussia and Spain, terms
were proposed to us, which we rejected. Whether these two
powers have gained much from the peace they have made, is not
a question very difficult to be answered. Whether Spain was
really in that state that she could not have maintained another
campaign, without running the risk of utter destruction, is a
point upon which I do not choose to give an opinion ; but, with
respect to Prussia, she certainly enjoys the inactivity of peace,
but she has all the preparation and expense of war.

The right honourable gentleman again adverts to the form
of government which, he says, it was the intention of ministers
to establish in France, and alludes, particularly, to the affair at
Toulon ; and, from that subject the honourable gentleman makes
a rapid transition to the case of M. de la Fayette. With respect
to whatAnight be the treatment of that unfortunate gentleman,
the- cabinet,

of Great Britain had no share in it, nor did mini-
sters think themselves warranted in interfering with the allies

upon the subject. With regard to Mr. Latneth, the right
honourab le gentleman certainly did ministers justice, when he
said they could feel no antipathy to that person ; and they cer-
tainly did feel great reluctance in ordering him to quit the king-
dom : but as to the motive which induced them to take that step,
they did not conceive it to be a proper subject of discussion.
The act of parliament had vested discretion in the executive
government, and they must be left to the exercise of it.

The right honourable gentleman has also alluded to the situ-
ation of the emigrants, and asserted, that if government were
of opinion that there was no prospect of making an attack with
success upon France, it was the height of cruelty to have em-
ployed them. This, however, was not the case : there were, at
different times, well-grounded expectations of success against
that country, and surely it cannot be considered as cruelty to
have furnished the emigrants with the means of attemptin g to

regain their properties and their honours.
The right honourable gentleman has also thought proper, in

his speech, to dwell at considerable length on the state of the
enemy's finances. He is willing to admit that their finances are,
as he says I have stated them to be, in the very gulf of bank-
ruptcy — in their last agonies. But then the right honourable
gentleman proceeds to ask me whether, notwithstanding this
financial bankruptcy, they have not prosecuted their military,
operations with increased vigour and success ? Whether, not-
withstanding these their last agonies, they may not make such
dreadful struggles as may bring their adversaries to the grave ?
I will not now detain the House by contrasting the finances of
this country with those of the enemy ; I will not now dwell on
the impossibility of a nation carrying on . a vigorous war, in which
it is annually expending one third of its capital . ; but I will tell
the right honourable gentleman that the derangement of the
French armies at the latter end of the last campaign, the ex-
hausted state of their magazines and stores, and their
retreat before the allied troops, furnish a convincing proof that
the rapid decline of their finances begins. to affect in the greatest

.1 76 MR. PITT'S
[MAY 10,

degree their military operations. How far their recent

on the side of Italy, deserve credit to the extent stated by the
right honourable gentleman, I shall not take upon me to say
I have had no intelligence on the subject, and therefore shall
offer no opinion to the House.

The next topic which I have to consider, is the argument
drawn from the question of our sincerity in the message delivered
to the French minister at Basle, on the 8th of March ; and a
great variety of observations have been suggested and urged
upon that point. One inference drawn by the right honourable
gentleman, arises from the circumstance of this message having
been communicated four months after I-Es Majesty's speech, and
three months after the declaration made to parliament, that His
Majesty was ready to meet and give effect to any disposition
manifested on the part of the enemy for the conclusion of a
general peace. In the first place it must be remembered, that
neither the speech from the throne, nor the declaration, expressed
any intention in the British government, to be the first in mak-
ing proposals for opening a negotiation. The fair construction
went no farther than to invite the enemy to make the first
advances, if they were so disposed, and to show that no obstacle'-
would be opposed on our part to the capacity of the govern-
ment they had chosen to negotiate terms with this country.
Gentlemen, therefore, have no right to feel in any degree dis-
appointed at the delay of the communication, since, in being
the first to make any overtures of peace, His Majesty's mini-
sters went beyond any pledge they had given, or any expectation
that ought to be entertained.

It has further been objected, that those proposals must be
insincere, because it did not appear that on this occasion we had
acted in concert with our allies. A sufficient answer to this
may be given by the peculiar c ircumstances of affairs, the lateness
of the season, and those communications being cut off, by which
we and our allies were before enabled to maintain a ready inter-
course. Had this ceremony been complied with, the delay,
which it would have occasioned, must unavoidably have been


gre.eter than that of which gentlemen think themselves warranted
to complain. They are, however, as much mistaken in their
facts, as they are in their inferences, for this step was not taken
without previous communication with our allies, and we acted
in concert with them, though they were not formally made par-
ties to the proposal ; a ceremony which in my opinion would be
wholly superfluous.

Another proof, it should seen), of our insincerity is, that,.
in the message alluded to, we did not recognise the republic.
It is truly generous in the right honourable gentleman, generous
towards them at least, to find out an objection for the French
which they themselves did not discover. We had the answer
of the directory to our note, and they took not the least
notice of the republic not having been recognised. If that had
been a necessary and indispensable form, without which they
considered themselves insulted, their natural conduct would
have been to give no answer at all. On this point of recog-
nition, however, the right honourable gentleman is always
extremely tender, and has it very much at heart. He holds up
the example of' America to us, as if' it was an instance that had
any application to the present question. The right honourable
gentleman also boldly contends, that it' we had paid the French
government this mark of respect and confidence, it would have
induced them, in return, to propose more moderate terms. I
am, however, very far from expecting any such effect ; for, in
fact, the government of France never seemed to think of it. I
do not consider the omission as an act of hostility, and they
must be aware, that the proposal to treat in itself implied a
recognition, without which it was impossible that a treaty should
be concluded.

To show the consistency of the arguments on this subject, I
shall take the liberty of recalling the attention of the House to
those antecedent periods, when the gentlemen on the opposite
side of the House, in defending the French government, held up
to our imitation the wise and temperate conduct of the court of
Denmark, which maintained a beneficial neutrality with France, -


and with which the latter showed itself capable of

maintainingthe necessary relations of amity and peace. It is indeed
true:that France has in a great measure respected the

neutrality of
Denmark, and observed with it the relations of peace, at l east, if
not of amity. What, however, destroys the right honourablegentleman's argument at once is, that this wise, peaceable,

and amicable court of Denmark had not recognised the French
republic till the present year. So that, in fact, Denmark did
not consider the French government as one that it ought to
acknowledge, till the form which it assumed rendered it in
some degree equally admissible in the eyes of the other powers
of Europe..

Another argument of insincerity is, that we did not pro-
pose terms to the enemy, while we called upon them for theirs.
This I conceive to be that which we had no right to do ; the
application did not come from the enemy, it was made on our
part, and it would have-been ridiculous to propose any parti-
cular terms to them, till we were previously informed whether
they were willing to treat at all. It has also been alleged, that
we must have been insincere, because when

we employed the
minister at Basle to make this application, we did not at the
same time give him the power to negotiate. It was oxtraordi-
nary indeed that an observation of this kind should be urged
by any person who professed the slightest acquaintance with
diplomatic proceedings. I would ask the right honourable
gentleman, whether it was ever known that the person em-
ployed to sound the disposition of a belligerent party, was also
considered as the proper minister for discussing all the relative
interests, and concluding a treaty ? The House must remem-
ber, on former occasions, when the right honourable gentlemanwas so warm in the re

commendation of a peace with France,
whatever might be its government, that, apprehensive a an
adherence to that etiquette, which might prevent us from being
the first to make overtures, he advised us to make recourse to
expedients, and sound the disposition of the enemy, throngh
the medium of neutral powers. As soon as France adopted v.


form of government, from which an expectation of stability
was to be drawn, His Majesty's ministers readily waved all eti-

and would not let such forms stand in the way of the
'p ent object of the peace and trangliillity of Europe, andperman en

direct proposals to the enemy. Had they, however,
adopted the expedient proposed to them, and employed a neutral

power to make their communications, wasit to be expected that
we should appoint that neutral power our minister plenipoten-
tiary to manage our interests, as well as those of our allies?
The gentleman through whom the communications were made
at _Basle, is one perfectly qualified from his talents, his zeal, and
his integrity, to conduct any negotiation ; but whatever may be
his character, it would be the height of imprudence, or rather
folly, to intrust the management of a negotiation of such un-
common moment to the discretion of an individual, and, at such
a distance.

The motives which induced His Majesty's ministers not to
employ the same minister who had made the. advances, as the
negotiator of a peace, are not confined to what I have hitherto
stated ; it was also - necessary in order to show our allies that
we did not go. beyond the line of that arrangement which was,
concerted with them, and that, true to our engagements, we
had no separate object, and would not proceed a step without
their concurrence. We wished to avoid any thing which could
excite the slightest suspicion, that we were disposed to a Sepa-
rate negotiation, which was what Fratme would wish, and
what was her uniform aim. during the present contest. This
was a policy which in some instances was too successful with
some of our allies, and which enabled her to enforce on them
successively more harsh and unequal conditions. It was with a
view to the same -open.dealing, that it was thought proper to
publish to the different courts of Europe-the message and the
answer,• that the world might judge of the moderation of the
allies, and the arrogance of the enemy.

There was one ground of sincerity which I believe the
right honourable gentleman did not . state; but which' the

N 2

180 MR.

Directory rested upon, principally, in their answer, This was the,
proposal for holding a general congress. How this could sup-
port the charge of insincerity, I am at a loss to conceive. The
British government pointed out the mode of pacification. This
the enemy thought proper to decline and to reproach, hut did
not attempt to substitute any other mode by which the object
was likely to be obtained. So far froin projecting any thing

. which
could even justly be an object of suspicion, ministers had pre..

, ferred that of a congress, which was the only mode in which
wars were concluded in all cases wherein allies were concerned,
ever since the peace of Munster, the two last treaties only.
excepted. This charge of insincerity was represented by the right
honourable gentleman as the probable cause of the exorbitant
terms demanded by the enemy : — "They are high in their de-
mands," says the right honourable gentleman, " because they
know you are not in earnest ; whereas, were they confident in
your sincerity, they would be moderate and candid."

In" 11W
humble apprehension, the extravagance of their terms leads to
an opposite conclusion, and proves that the plea of insincerity .
is with them only a pretence. If' they really thought His
Majesty's ministers insincere, their policy would have been to
make just '

and moderate demands, which, if rejected, would-
exhibit openly and in the face of the world, that want of can-
dour, and that appetite for war, which the right honourable
gentleman joins in so unjustly attributing to us. But having,
in fact, no disposition for peace, and led away by false and
aspiring notions of aggrandisement, the government of France
offered us such terms as they knew could not possibly be com-
plied with. Did they know the spirit, temper, and character of
this country, when they presumed to make such arrogant
proposals ? These proposals I will. leave to the silent sense
impressed by them in the breast of every Englishman. I am,
thank God ! addressing myself to Britons, who are acquainted
with the presumption of the enemy, and who, conscious
of their.

.resources, impelled by their native spirit, and va-
luing the national character, 'will prefer the chances and


alternatives of war to such unjust, unequal, and humiliating

of the French directory, that their constitution did

rcioTit1(11)lpermitt ioi i'icsa. them to accept of any terms, which should diminish
the extent of country annexed by conquest to the territories of
the republic, the right honourable gentleman himself very fairly
condemns; because, if persevered in, it must be an eternal ob-
stacle to the conclusion of any peace. That the interests of
foreign nations should yield to those laws, which another country
should think proper to prescribe to itself, is a fallacy, a monster
in politics, that never before was heard of. Whether their mi-
litary successes are likely to enable them to preserve a constitu-
tion so framed, I will not now inquire, but of this I am certain,
that the fortune of' war must be tried before the nations of
Europe will submit to such pretences.

On a fair examination, however, will it appear, that the right
honourable gentleman 'is right in observing, that this allegation
could be no more than a pretext ? If so, is it not singular that
the right honourable gentleman, who seems so shocked at this
pretext of' the law of the French constitution, should direct
none of his censure against the legislators, er government of
that nation, but vent all his indignation on the British ministers,
for deferring their proposals for peace,.till the enemy had form-
ed such a constitution as rendered peace impracticable ? I will
not now recount all those arguments which, on former occasions,
I have so frequently submitted to the House, nor the motives
which induced me to decline all proposals for peace, till some
form of government was'established, which had a chance of being
stable and permanent. Surely, however, it is too great a task
imposed upon me to be able to foresee, amongst the innumerable
mid varying constitutional projects of the French, the precise sys-
tem on which they would fix at last. Much less could I foresee
that they woulk have adopted a constitution which even the
right honourable gentleman himself would be induced to con-
demn. But, having so condemned it, he should in justice have

N 3

The motion was rejected ;


transferred his censures to those by whom it was fratned; insteatt
of which, all the thunder of the right honourable gentlematti?'
eloquence is spent at home upon the innocent, while the guilty
at a distance are not disturbed even by the report.

However the spirit of this country may be roused, and its in.
di-rnation excited, by the exorbitant conditions proposed to it by
the enemy, yet even these extravagant pretensions should not
induce us to act under the influence of passion. I could easily
have anticipated that unanimity of sentiment, with which such
degrading proposals have been rejected by every man in this
country, but our resentment, or our- scorn, must not for a
moment suffer us to lose sight of our moderation and our tem-
per. We have long been in the habit of waiting for the return
of reason in our deluded enemy, and whenever they shall de-
scend from those aspiring and inadmissible projects which they
seem to have formed, and are proceeding to act upon, we shall
still be ready to treat with them upon fair and honourable
terms. We are particularly interested in urging them to the
acceptance of such a constitution as may be best suited to their
character and situation, but we must take care that their consti-
tution shall not operate injuriously to ourselves. We do not
shut the door against negotiation'whenever it can be fairly en-
tered upon, but the enemy, so far from meeting us, say plainly
they cannot listen to any terms, but such as in honour we cannot
accept. The terms of peace which the right honourable gentle-
man pointed at, and which, after all, he considers as very dis-
advantageous, are, that the French may retain their conquests in
Europe, and that we should keep our -acquisitions in the colo-
nies. What however is the proposal of the directory ? No less
than this : that .every thing should be restored to them, and
they in return are to give up nothing. It is also urged by the
honourable gentleman, that we were to blame in so abruptly
breaking off the negotiation, and communicating the result to
the world, together with the observations made upon it. To
this I will answer, that the terms proposed by the enemy cut




short all further treaty ; and as to the communication of the
result, it will have, at least, the important consequence of
dividing the opinions of France, and uniting those of England.

October 6. 1796.

on the address of thanks to His Majesty for.His most gracious

speech *. on opening the session.

Mr. PITT :

Although I feel myself impelled, Sir, from more than one
consideration, to come forward on 'the present occasion, I shall
not be under the necessity of troubling the House much at
length. It is certainly to me matter of great satisfaction, that

" My Lords and Gentlemen,

It is a peculiar satisfaction to me, in the present Conjuncture of
affairs, to recur to your advice, after the recent opportunity which has
been given for collecting the sense of my people, engaged in a difficult
and arduous contest, for the preservation of all that is most dear to us.

" I have omitted no endeavours for setting on foot negotiations to re-
store peace to Europe, and to secure for the future the general tranquillity.
— The steps which I have taken for this purpose have at length opened
the way to an immediate-and direct negotiation, the issue of which must
either produce the desirable end of a just, honourable, and solid peace
for us, and for our allies, or must prove, beyond dispute, to what cause
alone the prolongation of the calamities Of war must be ascribed.

" I shall immediately send a person to Paris with full powers to treat
for this object, and it is my anxious Wish that this measure may lead to
the restoration of general peace, but you must be sensible that nothing
can so much contribute to give effect to this desire, as your manifesting
that we possess both the determination and the resources to, oppose,

with increased activity and energy, the further efforts with which we
may have to contend.

N 4

[O• 6.
at so critical a conjuncture, indeed the most critical and the
most i

mportant that has occurred during the present century,
that on the only great and substantial question, on which the
address proposes to express any opinion, there should be no

" You will feel this peculimiy necessary at a moment when the enemy
has openly manifested the intention of attempting

a descent on thesekingdoms. — It cannot be doubted what would be the issue of such an

enterprise, but it befits your wisdom to neglect no precautions that may
either preclude the attempt or secure the speediest means of turning it '
to the confusion and ruin

of the enemy.

"In reviewing the events of the year, you will have observed that,
by the skill and exertions of my navy, our extensive and increasing

commerce has been protected to a degree almost beyond example, and
the fleets of the enemy have, for the greatest part of the year, been
blocked up in their own ports.

" The operations in the East and West Indies have been highly

honourable to the British arms, and productive of great national advan-
tage; and the valour and good conduct of my forces, both by sea and
land, have been eminently conspicuous.

" The fortune of
war on the Continent has been more various, and the

"progress of the French armies threatened, atone period, the utmost dan-
ger to all Europe; but from the honourable and dignified perseverance of
my ally the Emperor, and from the intrepidity, discipline, and invincible
spirit of the Austrian forces, under the auspicious conduct

of the Arch,duke Charles, such a turn has lately been given to the course of the war,
as may inspire a well-grounded confidence that -the final result of the
campaign will prove more disastrous to the enemy than its commence-
ment and progress for a time were favourable to their hopes.

" The apparently hostile dispositions and conduct of the court of
Madrid have led to discussions, of which I am not yet enabled to
acquaint you with the final result ; but I am confident that whatever
may be their issue, I shall have given to Europe a further proof of my
moderation and forbearance; and I can have no doubt of your deter,
mination to defend, against every aggression, the dignity, rights, andinterests of the British empire.

" Gentlemeni of the House of Commons,
" 1 rely on your'zeal and public spirit for such supplies as you may

think necessary for the service of the year. It is a great satisfaction to
me to observe that, notwithstanding the temporary embarrassments
which have been experienced, the state of the commerce, manufactures,


difference of sentiment in this House, and that even the right
honourable gentleman * should have expressed-his cordial con-
currence. There are indeed many topics on which he touched
in the course of his speech, in which I now differ with him as
much as ever I differed at any former period ; but, with respect
to the great and substantial object of the address, the propriety
of the conduct employed to bring about a solid and durable
peace, such a peace as may be consistent with the permanent
security and the just pretensions of the country, there does not
subsist even the slightest shade of difference. That object is found
to command the most full and most unequivocal support. Such a
circumstance I must indeed consider as matter of just pride and
of honest satisfaction. It exhibits the most decided and unde-
niable proof that the steps which His Majesty has taken towards
negotiation, that the clear . and explicit declaration that he has
'made, are in themselves so unexceptionable, and so well calcu-

and revenue of the country, proves the real extent and solidity of our
resources, and furnishes you such means as must be equal to any exertions
which the present crisis may require.

" Illy Lords and Gentlemen,

The distresses which were in the last year experienced from the
scarcity of corn are now, by the blessing of God, happily removed, and
an abundant harvest affords the pleasing prospect of relief in that im-
portant article to the labouring classes of the community. — Our internal
tranquillityhas also continued undisturbed :— the general attachment
of my people to the British constitution has appeared on every occasion,
and the endeavours of those who wished to introduce anarchy and
confusion into this country, have been repressed by the energy and
wisdom of the laws.

" To defeat all the designs of our enemies, to restore to my people
the blessings of a secure and honourable peace, to maintain inviolate
their religion, laws, and liberty, and to deliver down unimpaired to the
latest posterity, the glory and happiness of these kingdoms, is the constant
wish of my heart, and the uniform end of all my actions.— In every
measure that can conduce to these objects, I am confident of receiving
the firm, zealous, and affectionate support of my parliament."

# Mr. Fox.

181 MR. PITT'S



lated for the end in view, that they must command assent from
any man who retains the smallest care for the interest and
honour of his country. Impressed with this feeling of satis.
faction, I can have btit little inclination to detain the House roi
points of slighter difference. I look with still higher satis-
faction to the concurrence now expressed in the object of the
address, as the pledge of general unanimity, and the omen of
great exertions, if, unfortunately, that object should not be

The honourable gentleman justly
•states, that what hitherto

has been done, only amounts to an overture for peace. It is
impossible to state what may be the result. We cannot pro.'
p ounce what will be the disposition of the enemy, or what cir-
cumstances may oecnr to influence the fate of negotiation.
We ought to look fairly to our situation. It holds out to us a
Chance of peace, if the enemy are disposed to accede to it on just
and reasonable terms; but, on the other hand, if they are still
actuated by ambitious projects, we shall gain another object by
the course we have pursued:- we shall unmask them in the eyes
of Europe ; -we shall expose the injustice of their policy and
their insatiable thirst of aggrandisement ; and, if no other ad-
vantage be gained, we at least shall be able to put to the proof
the sincerity of that pledge which this day has been given, that if
the enemy are not disposed to accede to peace on just and
reasonable terms, the war will be supported by the unanimous
voice and,

the collected force of the nation. I trust and hope
that it may not be necessary to have recourse to such a test of
sincerity ; but, while we indulge with satisfaction in the hope of
a more favourable issue, we must at the same time look to the
other alternative ; we must be prepared with all the force of the
country to support the prosecution of the contest, if its con-
tinuance should he found necessary. If the unanimity of this
day be accompanied with such views, if it is not an unanimity
founded merely upon the pleasing sound of peace, the capti-
vating charm of renewed tranquillity, and the prospect of the
termination of those scenes of horror and calamity with which

war is always attended (such an unanimity would indeed be
fatal to the country), but if it is an unanimity the result of
rational and manly reflection, founded upon -a careful consider-

ation of the situation of the country, and: prepared to meet

conjuncture, it cannot then be too highly prized. We

must not. put out of view those means of exertion which we

still possess ; we must fairly compare the situation of this country
with that of the enemy, and the amount of our own. acquisitions
with the losses of our allies ; we must estimate the extent of
the sacrifices which, under all these circumstances, it may be
fitting for us to make, in order to effect the restoration of peace.
It is with a view to these principles, that unanimity becomes so
peculiarly desirable in the present moment. The clear and
unequivocal explanation which His Majesty has given of his
conduct, with respect to peace, has commanded a general con-
currence. If it be that sentiment which, on the one hand, is
prepared to support the just pretensions and reasonable hopes of
the country, and on the other to resist the unjustifiable demands
and arrogant claims- of the enemy, I shall then consider the
unanimity of this day as the happiest era in the history of the
country. Onthis head I shall say- no more, and agreeing thus
far with the right honourable gentleman, I would wish to say
as little as possible on the other points on which he touched
in the course of his speech, and with respect to which we widely
differ. They have been too often and too warmly discussed
to be now forgotten by gentlemen )vho sat in the former par-
liament; and in the concluding part of his speech, the right
honourable gentleman gave us an assurance that we should hear
of them again.

The right honourable gentleman has intimated as his opinion,
that we must change the whole system of our interior policy,
which he considers as inconsistent with the constitution of the
country. I am happy, however, to find that he is so far satisfied
With the constitution, as to ascribe to its protection that internal

. order and undisturbed tranquillity which he admittedtetamtheatiitmhee
country had for some time past enjoyed. He at the.


reprobated in the severest terms laivs which were passing during
the last parliament, and which he represented as pregnant with
the most mischievous consequences, and declared that he

couldnot subscribe to any construction of that part of His Majesty's
speech which included those among the laws, the energy and
wisdom of which had contributed to secure the tranquillity of
the country. Having made this declaration, it would be unfair
and uncandid on my part not to be equally explicit. I desire

' no gentleman to vote for the address upon
any such q u alificationwith

respect to those laws. I am firmly of opinion, that, exclu-
sive of their influence, the peace of the country could not have
been so successfully maintained, nor can I suffer the sinallest
reproach to fall upon the character of the last parliament, whodisplayed their wisdom and their

energy in providing a remedy

so suitable to the alarming nature of the crisis. If there is any
ambiguity in the address, with respect to those laws, it. is because
they are so consistent with the spirit of the constitution which
they were framed to protect, and so blended with the system of
our jurisprudence, so congenial to the practice of former times,
and so conformable even to the letter of former acts, that it was
impossible to make any discrimination.

• It is to be recollected,
that they were passed in a moment of alarm and turbulence;
they had been found most admirably calculated to meet the
emergency of the time. The address does not apportion with
minute exactness what degree of tranquillity we have derived
from the operation of those laws, when blended with the con-
stitution, and what we might have enjoyed from the influence
of laws previously subsisting; how much we were indebted for
protection to the

. ancient strength of the edifice, or to those
buttresses that were raised to support it in the moment ofhurricane. ,

There were some other points on which the right honourable
gentleman touched. He seemed to consider, from the language
of the address, that endeavours have only been made of late to
procure peace. He ought to recollect that His Majesty's speech
particularly refers to what has taken place since he last coms


smanicated with his parliament. If ever the clay shall come when
an examination shall be instituted into the steps which have
been adopted to secure the re-establishment of the general tran-
quillity, I am confident that no endeavours for that purpose will
be found to have been wanting on the part of His Majesty's
ministers. But gentlemen must be sensible, that what may be
admitted as an endeavour to restore peace depends upon a
variety of circumstances, and is likely to be differently appre-
ciated by individuals of opposite sentiments. It depends on the
relative state of parties, on the number of allies with whom we
may be engaged to act,- on the degree of attention we pay to
their interests, and on the concert we wish to preserve with
them. Taking all these necessary considerations into view,
I again pledge myself that it will be found in the result of en-
quiry, that ministers have neglected no opportunity which could
have been improved for the purpose of accelerating peace.

But the right honourable gentleman has told us, that we are
at last come to the period which he had all along pointed out ;
that we have now consented to adopt that course which he has
uniformly recommended since the commencement of the contest
— to send a person to Paris, and to try the effect of negotiation. -
He takes to himself all the merit of that policy which we have
tardily adopted, and so confident did he feel himself in this ground
of self-exultation, that he declined all illustration of his victory,
and merely made it the subject of one triumphant observation.
His assertion was, " you are now taking those measures which,
if you had listened to my counsels, you might have adopted four
years ago." But does it follow that the measure was right then,
because it is right now ? May not a period of four years pro-
duce many events to justify a material change of policy, and to
render measures wise and expedient, which at a certain time
would neither have been prudent nor seasonable ? Because you
do not choose to make.peace the day after an unprovoked aggres-
sion, you may not be justified in holding out pacific over
tures after a lapse of four years ? The argument of the right


[Om G.
honourable gentleman amounts to this, that either you must
make peace the day after the aggression, or not make it at all.

With respect to the relative. situation of this country and
Spain, it would not be consistent with my duty to go into any
detail on that subject at the present moment.

As to the question of our resources, the right honourable gen-
tleman admits them to be extensive and flourishing.. They fur:
nish, indeed, in a moment like the present, a subject of peculiar
congratulation and well-grounded confidence. If the revenue
after a four years' war, which might have been expected to have
injured it so materially in so many branches, and after all the
additional burdens which have been imposed, still keeps up to
the rate at which it was stated last year, that c ircumstance is
surely no slight source of satisfaction. With respect to the state
of commerce, I am enabled to speak in a very different strain.
Notwithstanding all the embarrassments which it has had 'to
encounter, it has attained and still continues to enjoy a pitch of
unexampled prosperity. Those embarrassments have proceeded
from various causes ; — the expense of the war abroad, and the
high price of articles of consumption at home; the situation of
part of the Continent, where the markets have been shut against
us ; and even the growth or our capital re-acting upon the com-
merce which occasioned it, so that what was an unequivocal
symptom of prosperity, was itself a cause of temporary distress.
Of the continuance of this prosperity, we have now the best
assurance. The state of our exports during the last six months
has been equal to what they were in the most flourishing year
of peace, 1792; and our foreign trade has even exceeded the
produce of that year, which was the most productive of any
in the history of this country. Under these circumstances, what-
ever temporary embarrassments may have arisen from the quan-
tity of specie sent out of the country, from the want of a
sufficient circulating medium, from the state of foreign markets,
and from the increase of our capital; and however these difficul-
ties may for a time have obstructed the ordinary operations of


finance, the commercial character of the country has lost neither
its vigour nor importance. If such has been the state of things,
at a period when the country has had to contend for every thine:
dear to it ; if, notwithstanding all' the obstacles which have
clogged the machinery, the spring has retained so much force
and energy, we may presume, that, if by the. obstinacy and ambi-
tion of the enemy we should be called to still greater exertions,
our resources as yet remain untouched, and that we shall be
able to bring them into action with a degree of concert and
effect worthy of the character of the 'British nation, and of the
cause in which they will be employed. These resources have in
them nothing hollow or delusive. They are the result of an
accumulated capital, of gradually increasing commerce, of high
and established credit. They are the fruits of fair exertion, of
laudable ingenuity, of successful industry ; they have been pro-
duced under a system of order and of justice, while we, under
many disadvantages, have been contending , against a country
which exhibits in every respect the reverse of the picture ; —a
proof that the regular operation of those principles must tri-
umph over the unnatural and exhausting efforts of violence and
extortion. By these resources we are now qualified to take
such steps as may tend to conduct us to a solid and a durable
peace; or, if we do not succeed in that object, to prosecute the
contest with firmness and confidence. -

The right honourable gentleman suggested one remark, that
the speech contained no recognition of the government of France.
He wasted a good deal of ingenuity in attempting to prove that
it ought to have contained an express acknowledgment of the
French government. It ought to have occurred to him that,a
passport having been sent for and granted, some communication
must have , taken place on that occasion, and as the executive
directory had been satisfied with the form of communication,
and the mode in which.they had been addressed, it could not be
necessary for him to start a difficulty where they had found none.
I can assure him, on the part of British ministers, that no ques-
tion of etiquette, no difficulty of form originating from them,


shall be permitted to stand in the way of negotiation, or to ob.
struct the attainment of the great object of peace.
• As to the other points, the right honourable gentleman has
suggested what lessons we ought to derive from the experience
of adversity. These lessons may be greatly varied according to
the situation of parties and the different points of view in which
the subject is considered. But when the right honourable gen-
tleman tells us that the situation of this country is that of adver-

. sity, I can by no means agree to the proposition. How far it
deserves to be ranked under that description, let those pronounce
who are best acquainted with the state of our resources. It
cannot surely be termed a state of adversity from any losses of
our trade, the diminution of our capital, or from the reduction
of any of our foreign possessions. We have not been greatly
impoverished by the events of the war in the East and West
Indies. Wecannot be much iveakened in our national strength,
even upon the statement of the right honourable gentleman, by
having our navy, in consequence of repeated triumphs over every
hostile squadron, raised to a greater degree of glory and of fame
than it had ever before attained. Where then are we to look
for the symptoms of this'adversity ? Are we to look for them
in the losses and disasters of our allies ? But, does the right
honourable gentleman appeal to these as a criterion of adversity,
when in the same breath t hear him hold out as a source of
complaint, that yonare not, under your present circumstances,
sure of a triumphant peace? And why can you not command
such a peace ?— because you will not separate your own great-
ness, and your own commerce, from the interest and from the
fate of your allies ; because you refuse to purchase peace for
yourselves on any other terms than those which will secure the
tranquillity of Europe, and consider the situation

of Great Bri-

tain as chained to that of the Continent, by the bonds of a liberal
and comprehensive policy. If what. has been lost on the Conti-
nent is a subject of regret, it is at least a topic on which we have
no reason to reproach ourselves. If even the prospect in that ,
quarter continued as gloomy as it was some time since, and if


the extremity had not roused the armies of' the emperor to those
gallant and spirited exertions which have been crowned with
such brilliant and unprecedented success, no share of blame
could attach to us. While the violence of France has been
overrunning so great a part of Europe, and every where carrying
desolation in its progress, your naval exertions have enabled
you to counterbalance their successes, by acquisitions in diffe-
rent parts of the globe, and to pave the way for the restoration
of peace to your allies, on terms which their own strength might
have been unable to procure. If you look indeed to the geogra-
phical situation of the seat of war, the emperor has not regained
by his recent victories all that he had formerly lost. But do
you count for nothing the destruction and ruin of those armies,
by whom all the previous successes of the enemy had been
achieved? Do you count for nothing the glorious and immortal
Testimony that has been exhibited to mankind, that disciplined
valour must finally triumph over those principles that the war
was undertaken to oppose, and which owed all their extraordi-
nary and unaccountable success to the violence in which they
originated, and the excesses with which they were accompanied?
A memorable warning has also been afforded with respect to the
true consequences which have resulted to those foreign powers,
who, in opposition to their true interest, have courted the
alliance of that enemy, and expected to find security in dis-
graceful tranquillity. Recent events have served also to excul-
pate the characters of those who were calumniated as desirous
to einbrace their principles, and receive their laws, and in
Germany they have left behind them nothing but the memory
of their wrongs, and a feeling of eternal resentment. Are
such effects to be. considered as of small importance, or to be
put in competition with the reduction of a fortress, or the pos-
session of a district?

Of the virtues to be acquired in the school of adversity, the
right honourable gentleman only mentioned those of moderation
and forbearance. Moderation I should consider as that virtue
which it best adapted' to 'the dawn of prosperity : there lire other

VOL. it. 0

191 MR. PITT'S EOM 18.
virtues of no less importance which are to be acquired under a
reverse of fortune, and which are equally becoming in those who
are called to-suffer — there are the virtues of adversity endured
and adversity resisted ; of adversity encountered and adversity
surmounted. The recent example of Germany has furnished an
illustrious instance of fortitude and perseverance, and their for-
titude and perseverance have had theiv merited reward. These.
are lessons which I trust this country has not to learn. Eng.
land has never shown itself deficient in firmness and magnani-
mity ; it is unrivalled in resource ; it has always been foremost
in the career of honourable exertion, and it has only to maintain
its accustomed vigour and perseverance, to effect the restoration
of general tranquillity upon terms consistent with the dignity of
its own character, and the security and interest of Europe.

The question upon the address was carried without a division.

October 18. 1796.

THE House having resolved itself into a committee to consider of that
part of His Majesty's speech, which respected invasion, and the paragraph
being read as follows,

" You will feel this peculiarly necessary at a moment when the enemy
has openly manifested the intention of attempting a descent on these
kingdoms. It cannot be doubted what would be the issue of such an
enterprise; but it befits your wisdom to neglect no precautions that may
either preclude the attempt, or secure the speediest means of turning
it to the confusion and ruin of the enemy ;" ...-

MR. PITT rose:

After the unanimous vote which the House gave upon the first.
day of the session, and their general concurrence in that part.
of the address which respects a foreign invasion, it would be

injustice to the feelings which were then expressed,
were I to make any apology for calling their attention to the sub-


wet on the present occasion. I shall not detain them therefore
a single moment in showing the propriety of laying before them
at so early a period the measure which I mean this day to pro-
pose. It is equally our duty and our interest by every means
in our power, and by every exertion of which we arc capable,
if possible, in the language of the address, to preclude the
attempt, and at the same time to take such measures of defence
as shall cause the invasion, if it should be attempted, to issue
in the confusion and ruin of the enemy. I shall not at present
go much at large into the detail of preparations, but merely
suggest a general outline of defence, which, if it should be
approved of by the committee, may be particularly discussed
when the bills arc afterwards brought in upon the resolutions.
The general considerations are few and obvious. The natural
defence of this kingdom, in case of invasion, is certainly its
naval force. This presents a formidable barrier, in whatever
point the enemy may direct their attack. In this department,
however, little now remains to be done, our fleet at this
moment being more respectable and more formidable than ever
it was at any other period in the history of the country. But
strong and powerful even as it at present is, it is capable of
considerable increase, could an additional supply of seamen, or
even landsmen, who in a very short time might be trained to
an adequate knowledge of the naval service, be procured. For
this purpose I would suggest a levy upon the different parishes
throughout the kingdom—an expedient precisely similar to that
which was practised with so much success nearly two years ago.
This levy, however, I would not confine as a mode of supply
for the sea-service. It is certainly of the highest importance
both for the internal defence of the country and the security
of our foreign possessions, that all the old regiments should be
complete. But every one must be sensible, that from the num-
bers in those regiments who have fallen a sacrifice to sickness
and the fortune of war, a more expeditious method must be
adopted for their completion, than the ordinary mode of re-
cruiting supplies, in order that the country may be able to avail

o 2

196 MR. PITT'S [Om 18.

itself of this arm of strength. I would propose, therefore, in
the first place, a levy of fifteen thousand men from the diffe-
rent parishes for the sea-service, and for recruiting the regi-
ments of the line. The committee, however, must be sensible
when a plan of invasion is in agitation —a scheme, which
almost at another time would not have been conceived, and an
attempt, which, by any other enemy than that with whom we
have now to contend, might have been justly deemed imprac-
ticable that a more enlarged and a more expensive plan of
prevention and of defence is necessary.

In digesting this plan there are two considerations of which
we ought not to lose sight. The first is the means (which
must not be altogether new ) of calling together a land force,
sufficiently strong to frustrate the attempt, keeping our naval
force entirely out of view; and secondly, to adopt such mea-
sures in raising this force as shall not materially interfere with
the industry, the agriculture, and the commerce of the country.
It will be for the House to decide upon the degree to which
the former consideration ought to be permitted to interfere
with the latter. A primary-object will be to raise, and gra-
dually to train, such a force as may in a short time be fit for
service. Of all the modes of attaining this object, there is
none so expeditious, so effectual, and attended with so little
expense, as that of raising a supplemental levy of militia, to be
grafted upon the present establishment. I should propose that
this supplement shall consist of sixty thousand men, not to be
immediately called out, but to be enrolled, officered, and gra-
dually trained, so as to be fit for service at a time of danger.
The best nmde of training them without withdrawing too many
at one time from their regular pursuits, will be to embody
one sixth part in regular succession, each to be trained for
twenty days, in the course of which they may become toler-
able proficients in the military exercise. With respect to the
mode of conducting the levy, the returns that have been lately
made from the different counties, show the present levies to be
extremely disproportioned, and that the clause in the act which


provides against this abuse has never been executed. Accord-
ingly we find that in some counties the proportion is one out of
seven, and in others one out of three. It will he expedient
therefore to regulate the future levy, not by the proportions
now existing, but by a general estimate of the inhabitants who
are able to bear arms.

The next consideration which merits attention is the manner
in which the troops are to be furnished, which I think ought to
be generally from all parts of the kingdom, and :that an obliga-
tion be imposed upon those who are balloted, either to serve in
person or to provide a substitute; and- the better to preserve
the general proportion, that this substitute be provided either
from the parish in which the person balloted resides, or from a
parish immediately adjoining. It will be propel-also to remove
the present exemption from those wlio•have more than'one child,
on the express condition- that • they shall not be called upon to
serve out of the parish in which they live. The mode of train-
ing only one-sixth part of the whole, twenty days in succession,
as it will only withdraw ten thousand at•a time from their usual:"
occupations, consequently will not much infringe upon the
general order of the community. Of course they must be pro-
vided with some sort of uniform, but it will be of the coarsest
kind, and such as may be purchased at a small expense. A
sufficient number of arms will also be in readiness for supplying
each man in the moment of danger.

Another measure which I would suggest to the committee is
to provide a considerable force of irregular cavalry: The regu-
lar cavalry on the present establishment is certainly by no means
inconsiderable, and the yeomanry cavalry, which from their
numbers are sufficiently respectable, we have found to be highly
useful in securing the quiet and maintaining the internal tran-
quillity : of the country. But with a view to repelling an inve-,
lion, the more that this species of force is extended the greater
advantage is likely to accrue from it, as an invading enemy,
who must be destitute of horses, can have no means to meet

0 3

198 MR. PITT'S
[Om 18.

it upon equal terms. Besides, it is a species of force which
may be provided in a mode that will be attended with almost
no expense to the public, and with little hardship to indivi-
duals. In order to calculate the extent to which these irregular
cavalry may be raised, it is necessary to estimate the number
of horses which are kept for pleasure throughout the kingdom,
and by raising the levy in this proportion we shall have the
satisfaction to think that it will fall upon those only who have
a considerable stake to defend. By the produce of the tax,
which is as good a criterion as any of the number of horses
kept for pleasure, we find that, in Scotland, England, and
Wales, they amount to about two hundred thousand, one hun-
dred and twenty thousand of which belong to persons who keep
only one horse of the kind, the rest to persons, some of whom
keep ten and various other proportions. It certainly would
not be a very severe regulation when compared with the object
meant to be accomplished, to require one tenth of these horses
for the public service. I would therefore propose that every
person 1,vho keeps ten horses, shall be obliged to furnish one
horse and a horseman to serve in a corps of cavalry ; — that
every person,who keeps more than ten horses, and a number
falling short of twenty, after furnishing a horse and horseman,
for the first ten, shall subscribe a proportionate sum for the
rest, which shall be applied to defray the general expense ;—
that those who keep twenty shall furnish two, three of thirty,
&c. and that those who keep fewer than ten shall form them-
selves into a class, when it shall be decided by ballot who, at
the common expense, shall furnish the horse and the horseman.
These troops thus raised will be provided with uniform and ac-,
coutremcnts, formed into corps, and put under proper officers.
And surely when the means are compared with the object t4 be
attained and the expense to which individuals will be subjected,
with the security of the property which they possess, no one
will complain that that end or that security is purchased at too
dear a price.


There is still another source which, though it may not
appear so serious as those which have been already mentioned,
ought not to be neglected. Upon the supposition of an invasion,
it would certainly be of no small importance to form bodies
of men, who, from their dexterity in using fire-arms, might
be highly useful in harassing the operations of the enemy.
The employment of such men for the purpose of defending the.
country and harassing the enemy, in case of an invasion, must
be attended with the most serious and important consequences.
Gentlemen will naturally guess that I am now alluding to that
description of men called gamekeepers; and to others of the
same class. I do most certainly allude to them, for there are
many whose personal services would be of the utmost advantage.
But I also, and more particularly, allude to those instances
where gentlemen are gamekeepers for their own amusement,
where they are gamekeepers merely for the satisfaction of
being so, not gamekeepers of necessity but of choice ; in such
eases, there can be no hardship in obliging those gentlemen, if
we cannot have their personal services, at least to find a substi-
tute, who may be as well calculated to defend the country as
themselves. I do therefore propose, that those persons who,
shall have taken out licenses to shoot game, or deputations fir
gamekeepers, shall, within a certain period, be at liberty to
return the same if they think proper ; but if, after that period,
they shall continue their licenses or deputations for gamekeepers,
then they shall be obliged to find substitutes. I observe gentlemen
smiling at the idea of raising a force by such means, but that
smile will be converted into surprise, when they hear that the
number of persons who have taken out those licenses are no
fewer than 7000. Such a plan cannot be considered as a means
of internal defence likely to be approved of by -every person in
the country.

I have stated to the committee the general outline of the
bill. I shall defer saying much more on the subject: it will be
more satisfactory to speak particularly. when the resolution

o 4,


200 MR. PITT'S [Om 18.

reported to the House, than to enter into any further detail at
this moment. The number of cavalry which I propose to raise
in the manner I have mentioned will be 20,000 ; but with
respect to whether there must not be some other additional
mode adopted, it is impossible to say exactly, from not being
able to ascertain with certainty how many persons it may be
necessary to exempt, on account of their being in orders, or
for other reasons. Thus have I pointed out the weans by
which I propose to raise 15,000 men, to be divided between
the sea and the land service, to raise the supplemental levy of
60,000 for the militia, of which one-sixth part is to be forth-
with called out to exercise; to raise 20,000 men by means of
persons taking out the licences to shoot game and keep game-
keepers, or on such other persons as may hereafter be deemed
necessary. If the propositions I have mentioned should be
approved, I should wish the resolutions to be printed, and if
immediately, to introduce the bill, to carry it on to a committee,
and to fill up the blanks;

and then to allow an interval of a week
for its discussion. I mention this in order that more time
should not be taken up than is absolutely necessary for the due
examination of the principles of the bill ; since, gentlemen,
you cannot but recollect, when you are once satisfied, and
have determined upon the propriety of any particular measure,
every day, every hour of delay, is attended with additional

I shall now move that the chairman be directed to report to
the House, " That it is the opinion of the committee, that a bill
should be brought in for raising a certain number of men in
the several counties of England, and the several counties,
burghs, and stewartries of Scotland, for the service of His

A discussion of some length succeeded, in which Mr. Sheridan, Mr.
Dundas, and Mr. Fox, severally delivered their sentiments upon the
proposed measure.

Mr. PITT spoke in reply;


After what has already been said by my rig–ht honourable
friend', I entertain some doubts whether I ought to detain the
committee one moment from the unanimous vote which I believe
will be given upon the present occasion. I am sure, at least,
that it will not be necessary to consume much of your time
by replying at length to the short observations of the honourable
gentleman t, or to the more detailed remarks in which he
has been followed by the right honourable gentleman t, upon
the same side, as I cannot but regard the declaration with
which they prefaced and concluded their animadversions, that
they did not mean to oppose the resolutions which I had the
honour to propose, as a sufficient answer to the arguments by
which it was accompanied. If the right honourable gentleman
feels that the declarations of ministers, upon the subject which
constitutes the foundation of their present deliberations, are not
sufficient to justify the measures which are to be grounded upon
it ; if he considers their assurances or their representations
entitled to no confidence ; if he is persuaded that there exists
no danger of invasion, against which it-is intended to provide ;
if he is convinced that the objects of the preparations that are
to be made are destined to carry on other warlike operations
than the plan avows, or are employed as pretexts to cover
designs of ambition or of encroachment at home ; if he believes
that they are intended to prosecute that object of the war which
he thinks proper to describe as unjust and diabolical, I would
ask, how can he reconcile these principles with the conduct he
is to pursue ; or, as a public man, upon what public ground
he can rest that assent which he has bestowed upon the measures,.
which have been suggested? But while the right honourable
gentleman indulged in these animadversions, ; he knew well that
the precautions were demanded by the country as measures of
self-defence, from which he could not withhold his concurrence.
He demonstrated, by his actions, that he was in reality sensible.
that the present was not like other wars, undertaken, to

Mr. Dundas. t Mr. Sheridan. t Mr Fox.

202 MR. PITT'S [Ocr. 18.
maintain a point of' national honour, or to defend a disputed
interest ; — to support an ally that was attacked, or to guard
remote or doubtful dangers ; but that it was the first war in
which a great and free people, in the prosecution of their
commerce and the enjoyment of their prosperity, were called
upon for a time to defend the sources from which they flowed,
and, in compliance with the good faith which was due to their
allies, and urged by a sense of common danger, found, them-
selves compelled to . oppose unprovoked aggression, and resist
principles hostile to the government and constitution of these
kingdoms, and to every regular government in Europe.
Why did not the right honourable gentleman follow up his
principles, by opposing, likewise, the measures which were
proposed to meet.this danger, but because he believed that the
situation of affairs is such as to require these precautions ; and
because he must know that a false security could alone present
the smallest chance of success in the attempt which has been
threatened ; because, also, he knew that such was the cha-
racter of the enemy with whom we had to contend, that they
were not so liable to be deterred by the desperate nature of
the enterprise, or by a consideration of the number of persons
whom its ruin might devote to destruction ? Such, I am con-
vinced, were the feelings of the right honourable gentleman
upon this occasion, and such are the considerations by which *'
his conduct is explained, although, perhaps, he found it neces,
sary to colour his assent, and to disguise his conviction, by the

. invectives he introduced against the last parliament, and against

the conduct of administration. Though, however, he repro-
bated the system and the measures of administration, though he IE.
accused the justice and vilified the character of the former par-
liament, he could not trust the natural conclusion of his own
premises. He did not ask if any of the new members, who hrad
so lately come up impregnated with the sense of their electors,
or W the old members, who were witnesses of the proceedings,
and whose recollection of the last parliament was so recent,


would agree with him in the character which he had ascribed to
it. Nor did he venture to make any appeal to ascertain who
were those who would concur with him in asserting the prin-
ciples he had professed. While I reflect upon these circum-
stances, I feel confident that it will not be incumbent upon me
to answer at much length the arguments of the honourable
gentlemen on the other side of the House, especially when the
objections of the one are answered by the observations adduced
by the other.

While the right honourable gentleman* professed to agree
with every sentiment of his honourable friend t, they materially
overthrew each other's reasonings, and every sentence uttered
by the right honourable gentleman was confuted by that which
preceded it. The internal order of battle seems to have been
completely deranged, and the arguments of the honourable
gentlemen themselves meet in hostile encounter. The honour-
able gentleman t wished to impose upon ministers a responsibi-
lity for the measures which were founded upon the assertion in
His Majesty's speech, because, continued he, this matter rests
only upon the information of the speech from the throne, which
I must consider as the speech of ministers ; and in order to supply
the defect of this responsibility which attaches to ministers by
the most solemn and formal declaration, the honourable gentle-
man insists upon receiving satisfaction, and imposing responsi-
bility by a communication less formal and less authentic ! The
right honourable gentleman*, however, proceeded as if mini-
sters were pleading on their responsibility, and then concluded
by maintaining that there is no responsibility at all.

The right honourable gentleman is likewise offended with the
general argument of the necessity of precaution, which was
employed by my right honourable friend $ ; but his honourable
friend t beside him admits, that only general information was to
be expected; so that to this argument the right honourable gentle-
man must lift up his hand and express his disapprobation, as he

Mr. Fox. t Mr. Sheridan. Mr. Dundas.

[Om 18.

professes that he cannot act upon general information. But why;
says he, did not the danger, which you now apprehend, long
before this induce you to demand the adoption of those measures
of precaution which you now think it necessary to employ ? No
such plansr continued he, were pursued upon any former period.
The right honourable gentleman- too went out of his way to find
comparisons to depreciate the characters of ministers, and
asserted, that to such measures as the present much better mini-
sters, in former wars, never had found it necessary to resort.
He does not, however, mention, who these much better mini-
sters are ; and if the right honourable gentleman recollects the
language he !employed during the seven last years of the Ame-
rican war, there was a time when he bestowed upon the con-
duct of that administration epithets as offensive as unjust and
diabolical. Why, exclaims the honourable gentleman, did you
not call for these measures upon former occasions? Are we,
then, gravely deliberating upon a great and important subject,
and are we to be told that, in certain given circumstances, no
precautions are to be taken, because, at a former period, such
measures were not required? May not the means-which were
judged adequate in a particular situation, be foumLinsufficient
when circumstances alter, or when danger is iriereased? The
honourable gentlemen, though in other points their arguments
were at variance, go on together contending that my right
honourable friend had said, on a former occasion, that.the force
which this country possessed was sufficient to repel

the attacks

of all Europe. Certainly I do not believe that my Tight honour-
able friend ever asserted, that in any possible case the volun-
teer corps would be sufficient for the defence of the country.
If my right honourable friend had asserted that the spirit by
which these volunteer associations were dictated, put inaction
as.-circumstances requi4ed, and accommodated to the pressure

danger, would be able to resist the: efforts of the whole
House of Bourbon, or of the republics of France, aided by any
particular branch of the House of Bourbon, or of any other
combination of powers---such an opinion I believe to be just,


and. at least, perfectly consonant to the well-known firmness and
zeal of my right honourable friend. But may not the relative
situation of the enemy present them with more specific means
of carryingTtheir purpose into execution, than they possessed at
a former period, when it was necessary to guard against the
dangers which then threatened them from various quarters?

The right honourable gentleman says, you relied on the
firmness and attachment of the people two years ago ; and is
it less now that you have recourse to extraordinary precau-
tions? The attachment and loyalty of the people of this coun-
try, I trust, has experienced no diminution. It lives, and is
cherished by that constitution which, notwithstanding the
assertions of the right honourable gentleman, still remains
entire. Under the protection and support which it derives from
the acts passed by the last parliament, the constitution inspires
the steady affection of the people, and is still felt to be worth:
defending with every drop of our blood. The voice of the
country proclaims that it continues to deserve and to receive
their support. Fortified by laws in perfect unison with its •
principles and with its practice, and fitted to the emergencies
by which they were occasioned, it still possesses that just esteem
and admiration of the people which will induce them faithfully
to defend it against the designs of domestic foes, and the
attempts of their foreign enemies. The right honourable gentle-
man discovers the extent of the adversity into which he repre-
sents the country to be fallen in some of the measures now
proposed for its defence, and which he reprobates by the name
of requisitions; — a species of levy, however, which, so long as it
was practised in France, he did not consider as deserving of
any particular disapprobation. I will not at this moment en-
quire, whether requisitions in France were a right and proper
measure; but let not the right honourable gentleman at once

• maintain that the attachment of the people renders these mea,
sures of defence superfluous, and in the next moment represent
these precautions as proofs of the intolerable pitch of adver-
sity to which the nation is reduced. The situation in which we



EOM 18.

are placed does not imply a suspicion of our power, though it
justifies our precautions. That prosperity is deceitful and dan-

. gerous, if it lead to a false security ; that the danger, though
groundlessly apprehended, or falsely exaggerated, without exer-
tion upon our part, can alone be of doubtful issue or perilous
consequence, is the real opinion which the contemplation of the
state of the country is fitted to inspire.

The right honourable gentleman, when he expressed his dis-
like of the mode of pressing men for the public service, did
not specifically apply his objection to the plan of augmenting the
militia and raising the new supplies of cavalry ; he admits that
these may, in some measure, come under the description of per-
sonal force. The mode proposed of increasing the militia is
not new in its principle. They are to be ballotted in the same
manner as the established militia of the country. The 60,000
men which it was proposed to add, were to he formed precisely
as the 90,000 of which the ordinary number consists. The
present addition does not exceed the amount for which, on
former occasions, it was thought necessary to provide. In
1756, a bill passed for doubling the number. The right
honourable gentleman, however, in pressing his argument, runs
before his recollection. The 15,000 men for the land and sea
service are to be raised according to the provisions of the act
passed two years ago upon this subject. Does the right honour-
able gentleman then consider this to be pressing? No; it is
meant to raise volunteers by contribution among the inha-
bitants of each parish, and, if they failed to, produce the num-
ber at which they were rated, they were to pay a certain
sum over the sum at which a person to serve could be pro-
cured. If the right honourable gentleman reprobates this
mode as pressing, what was the language he held upon another
occasion, and when a different mode was pursued ? In 1794,
when voluntary offers of service were introduced for the
defence ,of the country, this mode was reprobated as repugnant
to the constitution ; and now, when men are called upon to con-
tribute their property and their personal service to the defence



of their country, it is discovered to be unjust, and stigmatised
as requisition ? The two honourable gentlemen admit the neces-
sity of precaution, and they reprobate every measure which is .
proposed ; and while they agree that it is necessary to provide
for the defence of the state, they are dissatisfied with the means
by which security is to be obtained. Notwithstanding the
unanimity with which the resolution will be voted, 1 cannot
augur well for the future co-operation which the measures may
obtain, when I consider the sentiments which the honourable
gentlemen entertain, and the observations with which their pre-
sent concurrence is accompanied.

The resolution was afterwards put and agreed to.

December 8. 1796.

report of the committee of Ways and Means was brought uri
and the resolutions were read.a first time. On the motion for their
being now read a second time,

Mr. Fox, in very animated language, urged the attention of' the House
to the circumstance of ministers having granted 1,200,0001., to the
Emperor of Germany without the consent of parliament, upon which
he dwelt for a considerable time.

Mr. PITT replied to his observations :

Those who never before had an opportunity of hearing the
speeches which the right honourable gentleman has been accus-
tomed to pronounce, and of observing the line of argument which
he has been accustomed to employ upon every public question
which has been agitated in this House, would certainly have
supposed, upon the present occasion, that this day, for the first
time in his life, the right honourable gentleman had felt real
alarm for the liberties and constitution of his country, and for
the first time a point. had occurred, so intimately connected with
the preservation of their political rights, that in the event of a de-
cision hostile to the opinion which he holds, it is to be vindicated

208 MR. PITT'S
[Dxc. 8.

by nothing less than an appeal to the people. But it has hap.
pened to those who have often had occasion to attend to the
right honourable gentleman, to have heard the same danger
represented, and the same consequences applied. It is not once,
twice, or three times, that the right honourable gentleman has
reprobated with the same emphasis, stigmatised with the sairie
epithets, and denounced as pregnant with ruin to the liberties of
the country, measures, which it has been thought necessary to
bring forward, and which the wisdom of parliament has thought
proper to adopt ; nor is it now the first time that the right
honourable gentleman, and those who sit near him, have made a
stand behind the last dike of the constitution. It is not the first,
the second, nor the third time, I repeat, that upon points which
a great majority of the House and of the country deemed to be
connected with the preservation of their dearest interests, the right
honourable gentleman has raised the cry of alarm, and has affected
to see the downfal of the constitution, and the destruction of our
liberties. Not many months even have elapsed since the right
honourable gentleman stated with the same confidence, and urged
with the same fervour, that the liberties of England were annihi-
lated, and its constitution gone, if certain bills then pending passed
into law ; laws under which, I will venture to affirm, that a
vast majority of the people of this country agree that the sub-
stantial blessings of their free government have been preserved,
and the designs of our real enemies have hitherto been


Nay, not many hours have elapsed since the right honourable
gentleman gave a two months' notice of his intention to move
the repeal of those acts which he once represented as a grievance
under which he could not sleep.

There is, indeed, something striking, something peculiarly
singular, in the manner in which the new constitutional light
has broken in upon the right honourable gentleman. This de.-
claration of mind, which has infused so deadly an alarm into the
mind of the right honourable gentleman, this declaration by
which the constitution is annihilated, was made yesterday I.
This declaration is admitted to have been made in a way the


most clear and distinct, indeed so clear as to magnify the danger,
and to aggravate the offence. This declaration, which he now
feels to be so fatal to the liberties of the country, so repugnant to
the principles of the constitution, as to render it incumbent upon
him to make it the ground of an extraordinary proceeding, and the
reason of signal animadversion against me, did not yesterday
strike him as of so much importance as immediately to call him
up ! It did not inspire with any particular sensation his honour-
able friend near him*, a gentleman by nature not free from jea-
lousy, and of a vigilance which it is not easy to elude — it had
not drawn from him the smallest remark of any kind, that could
expose the danger with which it was pregnant. It. never dis-
turbed the serenity of his temper, though perhaps not the
least liable to irritation, nor had it prevented him from laying
before the House the details of his various calculations with the
most calm and placid equanimity, the very moment after he had
witnessed the death-wound of the constitution ! After an inter-
val of debate, it had deranged none of the calculations of the right
honourable gentleman, it had not driven out of his head his rea-
sonings of the three per cents., his remarks upon the navy debt,
nor a single circumstance of objection which the survey of the
snbject had presented, nor had it deterred him from allowing the
resolutions to be carried with an unanimous vote. But after the
right honourable gentleman had slept upon this subject, he dis-
covers that the speech which he yesterday heard with so much
indifference, contains principles of such dreadful tendency, and
threatens consequences of such fatal operation, as to lead him
not merely to propose a censure of the doctrines, or the repro-
bation of the particular measure ; not merely the punishment of
the person by whom it was uttered; but which would induce
him, in the first instance, to take revenge for the error or the
guilt of a minister, by giving his negative to the whole resolu-
tions, which have no relation to the particular measure in ques-
tion; which would prompt him to suspend those supplies which

* Mr. Grey.

210 MR. PITT'S Dre:S,

are calculated to givittonfidence to the negotiations for peace,
or in case of being reduced to that alternative, energy to the
operations of war ; that would induce him to tell the enemy by
the very next post, by which the unanimous determination of
parliament to provide for every situation is conveyed, that the
House of Commons had interfered to stop the effect of their for-
mer decision, had suspended the means that were to add weight
to the exertions of the executive government, and at So critical
a moment of the negotiation had committed the interests of this
country and her allies, and flattered the hopes and raised the
pretensions of the.enemy. Such is the length to which the pro,
position of the right honourable gentleman goes. It is not to
remedy the imputed crime which has been committed, nor to
guard against the chance of its occurring in future, but it is cal-
culated to derange every measure which may be in train, and to
disappoint every design that may be in contemplation. I cannot,
however, but hope, that when the right honourable gentleman
has viewed the subject with more consideration, when he has
again slept upon his wrath, he will recur to that coolness which
he first experienced, and that his vehemence and his alarm will
subside. But whether the right honourable gentleman is to be
deterred by the prospect of the dangers which must arise from
the measure which he proposes, at least I cannot doubt that
consideration will have its just weight with the House.

The right honourable gentleman says, that if he succeeds in
his present motion, he will move the House against His Majesty's
ministers for thepart they have acted upon this occasion. There
is one thing that I will entreat of the right honourable gentle-
man, and he may be assured it is the only supplication that I
will address to him upon this subject, and it is, that if he can
prove to the House thoat I have violated the constitution, and
committed the crime of which he accuses me, he will not defer
a single moment to take the step which he has threatened; that
he Will confine his efforts to that object, and that he will not
combine with the vengeance he pursues, a measure that involves
the ruin of his country.

Let the punishment destined for


ministers light upon them alone, and let the consequences of
the measures which they employed to avert the dangers which
threatened their country, the measures which they adopted for
its safety, for the salvation of Europe, rest upon themselves.
This much I address to the right honourable gentleman, not for
personal considerations, nor do I entreat the boon as a matter of
personal indulgence. If it be refused by him, I hope at least
that the House will he actuated by more moderate feelings, and
guided by wiser maxims.

The rest of the right honourable gentleman's propositions, and
the point of his observations, are so exclusively confined to my-
self, that I am at a loss in what way to proceed, or whether I
ought to trespass upon the House with any remarks upon them,
since the subject is intended for a more full discussion. I can-
not, however, refrain from exposing the strange and extraor-
dinary misrepresentations which he has given of the general
question upon which he builds the conclusion of criminality ;
and I cannot doubt, that when the House perceives the founda-
tion upon which the accusation is raised, they will be able to
judge of the effect that ought to be given to the others with
which it was vested in the House of Commons. The right
honourable gentleman stated the general principle which consti-
tuted the chief security of our liberties — the power of control-
ling the public expenditure — and I hope there is little difference
of opinion upon this subject. The right honourable gentleman
says, that if there is one thing sure in the -constitution, it is this;
and if it be violated, he maintains that the people still possess the
means of obtaining redress. After the representations which
the House have heard upon the dilapidations which the constitu-
tion has suffered, and the invasions committed upon the public
liberties, they may judge of the reality of the danger which is
now threatened, when it is even yet admitted that resources are
left by which it may be opposed. Although the general prin-
ciple which the right honourable gentleman states as the essence
of the freedom of the constitution be admitted, it cannot be dis-

P 2

212 MR. NITS
CDRc. 8,

prated that it is subject to t every period since the
commencement of those periods to which we refer for the pure
practice of the constitution, in the best and most glorious arras
in. the history of our government, the principle of extraordi.
naries has been received, not merely for individual expenses,
but recognised upon general views. It has prevailed under every
administration, even those with which the right honourable
gentleman was connected, during the three last reigns, and in
the most approved periods of liberty and constitutional policy„
The right honourable gentleman then holds this principle with--
out .exception, while the practice of every government proves
that it has been always limited, and his whole argument is
applicable to all the extraordinaries that ever were voted by par-
liament. It is impossible, therefore, that the right honourable
gentleman could have correctly stated—I can hardly believe that
he has sincerely stated — this argument, which his experience
must disavow, and his knowledge must inform him is neither
consistent with the principles of the constitution, nor with its
practice at periods which deserve to be followed as examples.

But though I am here arguing upon general points, the ques-
tion in reality comes within a narrower compass. The right ho-
nourable gentleman chooses to overlook in one instance what he
alludes to in another part of his speech. Did it never occur to
him that Parliament had sometimes committed to His Majesty,
not new, but special powers, which superseded all general ques-
tions? In reality, this discretionary power is expressly com-
mitted to His Majesty. Before I sit down, I intend to move
that His Majesty's message of the 8th of December last year
should be read, and likewise the act, granting a vote of credit.
From this it will appear that a power was given to His Majesty-
to.apply the sum contained in the vote of credit as the exigen-
cies of the state might require. Suppose the case, which will

• be a less suitable illustration, because it approaches the fact,
that powers had been conferred to give that assistance to the
allies of this country, which our own interest and the circum-


1t7a9n6c.e3s of the situation required ; can any man doubt that the
minister, who should have hesitated to issue that sum, which,
granted, might have enabled our allies to maintain their own
cause, and to defend the safety of Europe, and who should have
allowed the enemies of Austria to complete her destruction by
withholding a seasonable supply, would have been a traitor to
his country, and would have merited the severest punishment ?
The vote of credit last year does actually invest the executive go-
vernment with a discretionary power of applying the sums granted
in a manner that might best suit the public exigencies, and the
money applied to the service of the Emperor is within the
amount of the grant. I do not mean to say that the discretion
thus vested in the crown is absolute and independent of the con-
trol of parliament, or that the minister, who exercises it in an
improper manner, is exempted from censure ; but in what man-
ner I understand this limitation, I will state when I am called
upon to make my defence. Whatever be the issue of this dis-
cussion, I cannot forbear observing, even at the risk of incurring
the imputation of arrogance, that I would rather he convicted of
having acted a principal part in the measure of granting a supply
by which the salvation of Austria was secured, and the inde-
pendence of Europe was maintained, than be acquitted for with-
holding that aid,• by which the cause of our allies was sacrificed,
and the general interests of mankind compromised. At present,
however, the question is not, Whether the conduct of His Ma-j esty's ministers was proper or improper ; whether they were
entitled to praise or deserving of punishment ? The House have
now to determine, Whether they shall announce to France that
the supplies of the year are to be stopped, and the exertions of
theexecutive power suspended? Whether at a moment of such
critical importance we are to be reduced to the unhappy situa-
ation when we can neither prosecute the negotiation with that
confidence which is calculated to insure a favourable issue, nor
prepare for war with an energy which can afford the prospect of
success to our exertions?


211 MR. PITT'S 41,
• [DEC. I4.

The House divided on the question, that the word "now" stand part
of the motion,



The original question was then put and carried.

December 11. 1796.
Ma. Fox, after an introductory speech, condemning, as unconstitutionai,

the conduct of ministers in having granted money to the Emperor of Ger-
many and the Prince of Conde, without the consent of Parliament, moved
the following resolution: "That His Majesty's ministers, having autho-
rised and directed, at different times, without the consent, and during
the sitting of Parliament, the issue of various sums of money for the
service of His Imperial Majesty, and also for the service of the army
under the Prince of Conde, have acted contrary to their duty, and to
the trust reposed in them, and have thereby violated the constitutional
privileges of this House."

Mr. PITT then- rose :

When I consider, Sir, the nature of the motion which is
this day brought forward by the right honourable gentle-
man against his Majesty's ministers, and the serious charge
which it involves, I must regard myself as particularly impli-
cated in that charge, as possessing a particular share of re-
sponsibility in the conduct of that measure which is censured as
a violation of the constitution, and a breach of the privUeges of
this House. I have, however, in the discussion of this ques-
tion, everything to expect from the candour and justice of the
House. An imputation of a most serious kind has been advanced
against His Majesty's ministers ; but it is necessary that all which
may be offered on both sides should be fairly heard, before any
decision can take place. It is requisite that gentlemen should be
in full possession of every important fact that can be adduced,
before they hasten to a conclusion which necessarily involves in it
matter of such weight and magnitude. The House should clearly
know the general principles on which it is to decide ;- it should
know the grounds on which the theory of this part of the consti.


tution is erected : it should also know, what .the particular in-
stances are in point of practice that militate in a certain degree
against the general principles. I say, Sir, when these considera-
tions are once known, it will then be incumbent on the House to
decide. But I trust it will not be denied, that until these points
are completely and satisfactorily ascertained, the House ought,
with every view to propriety, to suspend its determination. It is
no small object of satisfaction to me, that the full review of for-
mer precedents with respect to the present motion, forms a chief
ground of it. In such an application of facts, I have consider-
able reason to be pleased, and I trust I shall clearly demonstrate,
before I sit down, that former precedents concur in justifying
the measure which is at this moment so severely condemned.

I am, however, not a little surprised to hear the language
made use of by an honourable magistrate, who has declared
that he has received instructions from his constituents to join in
a vote of censure against His Majesty's ministers, for having sup-
plied the Emperor with money without the authority of parlia-
ment. There is, perhaps, not any question on which a.member
ought to allow the decided dictates of his own conscience and
judgment to be superseded by the instructions of his constituents;
but if there is any case in which a member ought to be particu-
larly anxious to preserve his right of private judgment, it is in
the present instance, with respect to a criminal charge : for I
think it must be admitted, that it was impossible for the honour-
able gentleman's constituents to decide in a just and candid
manner, on the propriety of giving a vote on a motion, with the
particulars of which they must have been unacquainted, and more
peculiarly as they must have been totally ignorant of the defence
which His Majesty's ministers meant to set up. 1 have, Sir, to
caution the House against those unconstitutional doctrines which
have been maintained in former debates, and particularly on
Thursday night last. But without entering into a minute refu-
tation of them, or stating those which. I conceive to be strictly
just, I cannot help observing, that much is saved for my purpose

Alderman Combe.
r 4,

216 MR. PITT'S
[DEc. 14.

by the concessiens which the right honourable gentleman him-
self has made. I certainly do not wish to goad the right ho-
nourable gentleman into the former opinions he has at different
times maintained : I am better content tc take his present. state-
ments : I am better content with what I have heard from him to-
day, and with those general principles which have fitIlen from
him in support of his motion. For as, on a former occasion,
when the present subject was first started, the interval of one
night .

made him see the measure more inflammatory than it
really is ; it now appears that a pause of a few days has dimi-
nished his ideas of the inflammatory tendency which, in his own
opinion, it possessed. The right honourable gentleman has taken
great pains to lay. down the great constitutional principles with
regard to pecuniary grants, and the use of these grants. I did un-
derstand, on a former night, that the honourable gentleman told
us one thing, to which he said there was no exception, namely,
that no expense could be incurred without the consent of parlia-
ment. I did not altogether subscribe to that doctrine, and twill
state, as nearly as possible, the very words of the argument I then
used in answer. I argued, that the practice of extraordinaries
had been adopted at different periods of the history of the coun-
try, at periods the most approved in the history of the country, at
least at periods which the honourable gentleman must naturally
think the most approved — when he was himself in the adminis-
tration. Extraordinarics, to a large amount, were used during
the sitting of parliament, and parliament afterwards justified the
act by a vote. The honourable gentleman did then admit, that
he never could ' be supposed to have said that extraordinaries
could not be used without the consent of parliament previously
obtained ; but when ministers have now adopted the same mea-
sure, the propriety of which, the honourable gentleman said, he
could not be supposed to deny, yet such is his alarm, that he
cannot feel himself justified in pausing a moment on the neces-
sity of the actual condemnation of ministers.

Mr. Fox.


j79H6c/ever, Sir, it is enough for my purpose to admit, that, ac-
cording to the fundamental principles - of the constitution, all
grants must proceed from the Commons; that they are afterwards
subject to their control, is a principle undeniable : but although
the Commons are possessed of the power of controlling the ap-
plication of the supplies raised by them, yet it is a circumstance
proved to demonstration, by practice and general observation,
that it would be impossible to carry on any wars, that it would he
impossible for government to proceed with due regard for the
public safety, or with advantage for the public service, if extra-
ordinaries were not raised by parliament. In point of practice, it
is evident they have been raised. Those great writers, who have
written on the subject subsequent to the Revolution, prove that
extraordinarieshave always been used from thatperiod. I desire to
refer to the practice of the whole of the succession of administra-
tions, from the days of King William down to the present time,
when the principles of the constitution are become infinitely more
definite, and when, owing to ambition on the part of Prance, pub-
lic expenses and the transactions of finance have attained a greater
magnitude; and 1 ask, whether from that period down to the
present, the practice of extraordinaries has not been recognised,
and admitted? I do not mean of extraordinaries only, but of ex-
traordinary services during the sitting of parliament. I do not
state this, as if there was only one or two solitary precedents, but
as the uniform practice of all the wars in which this country hag
been engaged ; and that, during such wars, the extraordinaries
have been precisely of the description I have stated. Sir, our
constitution is one which rests on great and leading principles,
but still no one would wish that the constitution should expe-
rience any injury by pushing those principles to a rigid and ex-
treme excess. If we are to look into the record books of the
constitution, we shall find certain principles laid down, which
seem to contradict many acts of parliament, which are held as
strictly legal. If we examine the law of parliament, we shall
find, that it is derived principally from the general tenor of the
whole of the principles of the constitution, illustrated by the par-

. 4
218 MR. PITT'S [Dui.
titular urgency and necessity of circumstances. If this is the
true way which men ought to study the constitution, by applying
the principles of it to the exigency of circumstances, let me
repeat what I stated on a former night, with respect to the im-
possibility of the measure being wrong, which was done in con-
formity to the best and most approved principles, as adapted to
peculiar events : and let me also ask, how a measure can deserve
to be loaded with obloquy and reproach, which in truth is no
more than has been the practice of every administration, at those
periods when we have been most proud of the constitution; I
might remark, that the honourable gentleman, in the course of
his speech, has admitted such to have been the practice, because
he has himself acted upon it ; yet I must admit that the honour-
able gentleman, when he stated that such was the practice, ob-
served, that because extraordinaries were consonant to practice,
it was no reason they should be extended so far, if it could pos-

be avoided. The honourable gentleman, if I understand
him right, by that very mode of argument, of the extension of
the extraordinaries being attended with so much the more mis-
chief, does, in fact,. admit the exception to the principle which
he charges me with having violated, and, in short, destroys in
effect the-very principle he before admitted. He told us that
every extraordinary service involved the breach of the pledge to
satisfy former estimates, by removing the means of paying them
to some other service. If his doctrines mean to infer that ex-
traordinaries ought not to be unnecessarily extended, I cannot
but perfectly coincide with him: but if his argument has for its
object that of rendering all extraordinaries invidious, I hope in
such case I may be allowed to guard the House against the effects
of attending too much to topics opposed to the very same prin.
ciples which he has before admitted. That extraordinaries are
liable to the future observation and control of parliament, is
true ; but parliament has at all times felt, that it is necessary,
for the public safety, that ministers should have the power of
using extraordinaries, without appealing to parliament, provided



that power, and the means by which these extraordinaries are
incurred, are subject to future discussion.

But it is not the question of extraordinaries only that arises.
Parliament, finding the impossibility of reducing every thing to
estimated expenses, has introduced the practice of giving votes
of credit, with the power, generally, to apply them as exigencies
might require. As far as it has been possible to provide against
extraordinaries which always hitherto has been impracticable,
every endeavour has been exerted ; but it is a circumstance in
which parliament have certainly acted with great wisdom,
that it has not thought proper at any time to interfere with
respect to the amount of the sums which Ministers might think
necessary for supplying the extraordinaries, but merely to make
ministers responsible for the application of the sums, and the
necessity of the extraordinaries, to the payment of which they
are directed. Before I say any more, I will only observe, that
it is not likely I should be one to dispute the propriety of the
measure of providing for the .extraordinaries by the extent of
the vote of credit, if such a thing could be adopted ; I have often
heard it made a matter of reproach to me, that I endeavoured to
estimate every expense and provide for it beforehand. The
votes of credit were always smaller in former wars than in the
present. In the present war, I have added to the vote of credit
other provisions for the purpose of providing for the extraordi-
naries beforehand ; I may therefore be considered as having
done all in my power towards endeavouring to take the previous
authority of parliament. 'What then do I say, that there is no
difference between a vote of credit and extraordinaries? As to
the vote of credit, I conceive it to be a privilege granted to His
Majesty's ministers to employ a given sum to any such purpose
as the exigency of affairs shall require. There is no circumstance,
however unforeseen, there is no purpose, be it what it may, no
possible event, to which ministers may not think it requisite
that a vote of credit is applicable; no expenses upon sudden
emergencies,' which do not come within the spirit of a vote of
credit, subject however to that principle which I shall state.

[Dec. 14

[Here Mr. Grey took notes of what fell from the Chancel/or of
the Exchequer.] I observe an honourable gentleman taking
notes of what I have just mentioned, and by his manner he
seems to express disapprobation. I only hope he will not inter-
rupt me, till he has done me the honour to attend to the whole
of what I say, when I have no doubt butI shall be able to con-
vince him I am right. Have I said that, because a vote of credit
is applicable to every public service, there is no question of
responsibility ? Have I said there is no principle of respect, of
attention, of deference to parliament ? I trust I have neither
denied, nor at any one moment of my life have failed to show by
my conduct, that such responsibility does exist. I know that
for every exercise of that discretion, regularly given by the act,
founded upon the vote of credit, ministers are subject to the
same responsibility as for the exercise of every other discretion,
which permanently belongs to them as ministers of the crown,
and which they are bound to use for the safety, the welfare, and
the dignity of the country ;. a discretion the more important, as

• it relates to the disposition of the public money : and I trust
parliament will not lose sight, that it is their duty to weigh
those unforeseen difficulties on which alone government can use
the powers with which it is intrusted.

But, Sir, I do not mean to stop here ; I do not mean to say
that government ought not to be questioned as to the propriety of
the measures it may think proper to recur to. I have admitted
its liability to be censured. I will admit, that if, at that time of
using a vote of credit, ministers foresee any expenditure which
appears likely to be of consequence, either with respect to its
amount, or the importance or peculiarity of the subject, if it
admits of a precise estimate, and if the subject is of such a
nature that it can he divulged without injury or inconvenience
to the public — should readily admit that that minister would
fail in his duty to parliament, that he would not act according to
the sound principles of what I believe to be the constitution ofthe
country, if he were not to state the nature of the emergency,
and endeavour to estimate the expense : but if, from the nature


of the exigency, it should be impolitic to divulge it, in that case
J. conceive the minister justified, who conceals it from parlia-
ment till a future season. By these principles as to the general
question, I am satisfied that my merits or demerits should be
tried ; if I have, in the opinion of the House, departed from
the principles of the constitution, then I have committed an
error in judgment : if through an error in judgment I have
departed from the principles of the constitution, I admit that I
ought to receive the censure of the House, notwithstanding that
error proceeded from my having felt it my irresistible duty, in
common with the rest of His Majesty's ministers, to act upon
principles which I conceived the best calculated to ensure the
prosperity and advantage of the country. Let me not be sup-
posed to admit, what the honourable gentleman seems to assume
as an instance of candour:namely, that he reserved the question,
whether any degree of importance, which might attach to the
subject, could possibly be considered an argument for con-
cealing it, or that its importance could make any difference
with regard to the estimate of its expense. Of the principle
itself, it is not material to say more ; but with respect to what
the honourable gentleman has stated, I will make this observa-
tion. He has said that extraordinaries are admitted on account
of indispensable necessity, and that those extraordinaries are
such a mischief, that he almost doubts whether they should be
suffered at all. 1 will admit that expense, be it what it will,
is indubitably objectionable, and that if the expense arises to a
considerable sum, the objection is still stronger ; but the greater
the expense, the higher is the advance on the responsibility of
ministers, and the greater is the inducement for this House to
vote to discharge those expenses. The only case has occurred
which was in contemplation. If it should appear to the House,
that,. in consequence of an unforeseen change of circumstances,
the necessity of expenditure was increased ; if it-should appear
that the only opportunity had arrived, in which there was no
alternative, but that of relinquishing the cause in which the
country was engaged, or of advancing the responsibility of

222 MR. PITT'S {DEC. I t.
ministers ; if, I say, this should appear, is it a mark of candour
in the honourable gentleman to desire that the urgency only
Should be put out of the question ?

Why then, Sir, as to the utility of the advance to the Emperor,
whether it could have been made in a more proper form ;
whether, by a previous application to parliament, it would not
have been attended with a greater degree of inconvenience ;
whether the advance was not made at a time the most critical
that could possibly have occurred these are questions which
I shall shortly proceed to discuss. But, assuming for the present,
that there was a difficulty about the mode of doing it, what mode
under similar circumstances would have been more eligible ?
In this way it has been tried, and has succeeded : by previously
applying to parliament, it is doubtful whether it would have
succeeded or not. I entreat gentlemen to recollect the situation.
of the Emperor on the Continent; the situation of this country,
with respect to the prosecution of the war, or of its termination
by a safe and honourable peace : I request them to look back to
July or August last ; a period when we saw with regret and ap-
prehension the triumphant arms of the French Republic at the
gates of Munich, and the territorial possessions of the belligerent
powers in danger of being wrested from them. When they look
back to this period, let them at the same time contemplate the slow,
firm, measured, and magnanimous retreat of the gallant Austrian
army, and the consequences which followed from a retreat only
calculated to insure the success of their future operations. Will
they then ask themselves, dry as the question may be, when so
animated a subject is presented to the mind, how far the assurance
of the aid which this country was disposed to grant, may have
invigorated the spiri t

of a country making its utmost efforts to
resist an invading foe, how far it may have given confidence to
their resources, and enabled them to prosecute that line of
operations which has been attended with such distinguished suc-
cess? With these considerations in his view, is there any man
who can regard as a matter of consequence, whether the expense
of 900,0001. or 1.200,0001. has been incurred to the country ?


Is there any man who can question the propriety of the sum
allotted for the object, and would be willing, for the sake of so
paltry a saving, to give up our share in promoting a service,
which has terminated so honourably for the character of our
allies, and 'so beneficially for the general interests of Europe?
Who would not rejoice that he was admitted into partnership
so illustrious, and accompanied with such brilliant success?

Me credite Lesbon,
Me Tenedon, Chrllsenque, et Cyllan Apollinis urbes,
Ft Scyron cepisse. 17ea concussa putate
Procubuisse solo Lyrnessia mcenia destrii.

We have besides to consider, that whatever in this instance
has been given, has only been lent to a power whom we have
no reason to distrust. Even if a sum had been given to a much
larger amount, it would surely have been amply repaid by the
success which has attended the exertions of our allies, and the
important advantages 'which have been gained to the common
cause. In the' course of discussion on this subject, frequent
mention has been made of the opinion of the public. The .pub-
lie are not so dead or so insensible as either to be ignorant of the
advantages which have been obtained, or ungrateful towards
those to whose gallant exertions they are indebted on the present
occasion. There is not a man, even the meanest individual in
the country, wlv will not feel himself more than repaid for the
small quota which he will be required to bring forward in aid of
the public service, by the important benefits which have been
secured to the general interests of Europe. There is not, I will
venture to say, an Englishman who does not feel the most ardent
sympathy with the magnanimity, the resources, the spirit, and
perseverance which have been displayed by Austria in her recent
exertions, and who does not rejoice that the contributions of
England have been brought forward in aid of operations which
have been equally marked by their gallantry and success. I
will not think so ill of the good sense of my countrymen, as to
suppose that they can regret any trifling expense, which has
been the means of obtaining such signal advantages. The

224 MR. PITT'S [DEc. 14,
question alone is, whether there is any doubt of the exigence of
the measure, whether there is any doubt of its necessity, and
whether the service would have been performed by a previous
statement to parliament.

Here, Sir, let me state to this House, or rather repeat what I
have shortly stated on a former night. The House will recollect,
that from the principles on which I conceive a government
should act, it never could have been in my contemplation, or
that of His Majesty's ministers, under the vote of credit, to
propose advancing the whole of the sum which turned out to be
necessary for the Emperor. That it was not my intention, is
proved by this circumstance, that at the very period of proposing
the vote of credit, a reserve was expressly made for a loan to be,
specifically brought forward, and submitted to parliament, to a
much larger amount than the vote of credit. What inference
do I wish to draw from this ? First of all, that it is a pretty clear
and evident proof, that it in reality appeared, by the Austrians.
being so much in want, that His Majesty's ministers had an
impression of the necessity of assisting the Emperor. Could they
have any motive to hold out a loan, if there was no such thing
in agitation ? What view could any government have in stating
the necessity of an Austrian loan, if they did not see the occasion
for one ? When we asked for the vote of credit, it was plain
we were not asking for a vote of credit for services unforeseen,
but that we intended to apply it as it. has been applied,. Gen-
tlemen will recollect, that on the first loan of eighteen millions,
it was stated as uncertain the precise time it would be called for;
that the precise time depended on the result of an intercourse
between ,

His Majesty and the Emperor, without which it was
impossible to settle the extent of it. But it is true, I felt that
in consequence of the extraordinary extent of the drain of money,
some time would be necessary before the influx of trade would
be such as to render a measure of that kind practicable in its
execution, or safe in its impression ; for of all subjects, that
which relates to credit, or the stagnation of money, the delicacy
of which every man knows, is that in which it is necessary to


be particularly circumspect. Now, how does this stand ? I was
sanguine that a much shorter interval would have diminished the
scarcity. Afterwards, at a much later period, I found that it
would be impossible to bring forward the loan. Under this im-
pression, I did think it advisable to take the step 1 have taken,
a short time previous to the end of last parliament. How far that
can be fairly imputed to me as a crime, is a question I shall have
occasion to discuss. However, this is the first principle of my
defence, that when the campaign was advancing, so that the
Emperor could not wait for any proof of the reality of his hopes
of an increase of pecuniary supply, in conformity to what had
been done before, and according to principles recognized by
parliament, I thought it expedient, for the success of his arms,
to send the means of repelling the enemy.

The principal question is, whether this measure has deprived
you of any thing you possessed ? Whether any disadvantage has
been the consequence of it, so as to make our situation more
embarrassed now than it would have been some months ago, by
a loan taking place ? I believe the situation of mercantile men,
and the pecuniary state of the country, is more favourable now
than they were at the periods when the several remittances to
the Emperor were issued. This I state not merely on the sug-
gestions of any particular member of this House, not merely in
consequence of any discovered public opinion ; but I state it
on evident grounds of reason. Nor can I for a moment suppose
that the members of this House; that the public will long sus-
pend the delegation of their assent to a measure founded equally
in the justice and expediency of the motives which gave it birth.
But however this may be, I have on this occasion-the satisfaction
of knowing that I am not stating my own sentirnents only, but
also those of the persons who were the contractors for the last
loan. The contractors for that loan themselves felt then, and
have -since communicated to me, the inconveniences that had
resulted to commerce in general, from the immense, but necessary
drains in the money market. They had felt that any specific
proposition to guarantee a fresh loan to the Emperor would have


226 MR. PITT'S
[DEC. 14.

sensibly affected the money market ; would have depreciated the
funds, and depressed the public credit. Had I upon that occa-
sion adopted the mode of a public loan ; had I come to parlia-
ment, when parliament first sat to deliberate on public measures ;
had I, while the necessities of the empire and the dearest inte-
rests of Europe depended in some measure,. the one for relief,
the other for preservation, on the remittance of certain portions
of that sum of 1,200,0001.—had I in that eventful crisis done
any thing that might, in its ultimate consequences, increase the
difficulties of that ally, endanger and risk the liberties of Europe,
what, let me ask, would have been the language of the honour-.
able gentleman, who has this night censured my conduct, and
made it the subject of a specific motion ? I repeat it : The per-
sons best acquainted with the money market were, at the periods
I have mentioned, deeply impressed with a sense of its growing
embarrassment, and seriously felt the inconveniences necessarily
concomitant to a state of warfare. They felt those inconveni-
ences, but they more than felt the justice of the contest which
had operated as the cause of them. In their opinion, the pecu-
niary situation of the country was such as would have rendered
the public avowal of any loan to the Emperor extremely impolitic,
and by an ill-timed discussion of its propriety, have produced
those evils I have in part detailed. To them I submitted whether
a public loan would be prudentin such circumstances, but they
were unanimous in their preference of the adopted ,mode. A
proof this, that I could have Do intention to violate the consti-
tution. That I had not hastily, and immaturely adopted the
alternative ; that I made those preliminary arrangements ; that
my enquiries on the subject were as general and earnest as I
have this night avowed, is well known, not only to the indivi-
duals with whom I consulted, but also to my colleagues in the
ministry. I appeal, without fear of being contradicted, I appeal
to those in my confidence, whether such were or such were not
my sentiments, whether such was or was not my conduct on
that occasion ? At this time the situation of the empire was also
so peculiar, that His Majesty's servants could not but have a



strong and influencing sense of the impropriety of affording pub-
licly the aid that situation so much required. The arms of the
French republic were victorious in almost every quarter, the
empire threatened with destruction, and Europe with ruin.
.This was, I own, the reverse of our once favourable hopes : .
from the exertions of that ally our expectations had been dif-
ferent : liut could any temporary reverse of circumstances justify
a measure that must have entailed on that ally a permanent mis-
chief? Surely we, who had considered ourselves entitled to share
in the good fortune of the arms of Austria, would not justly
have separated our interests in her adversity. Surely that ally,
of whose good faith and candour, of whose steady attachment to
the principles of the alliance, we had so many and such splendid
proofs ; that ally, who had almost singly resisted the destructive
progress of an impetuous and enthusiastic enemy ; yes, the
house of Austria eminently merited our confidence and our
esteem. But these were not enough. The empire was in actual
danger ; her treasury exhausted ; and many of her princes forced
to abandon her defence. It was in this conjuncture that His
Majesty's servants, faithful at least to their sense of the danger,
afforded to Germany that assistance which I am proud to say
had been in a great measure the means of saving not only that
particular empire, but a vast portion of Europe. Actuated by
these considerations, thus hurried by existing necessities, to
adopt a particular measure, I flatter myself few who hear me
will in the end fail to discover, that the act itself, even sup-
posing it to be unconstitutional, could not be the result of a deli-
berate intention to violate acts of parliament.

The right honourable gentleman has supposed that the mea-
sure was now brought forward under cover of the glory of the
Austrian successes ; but I have to remind that honourable gentle-
man and the House, that the resolution of His Majesty's-mini-
sters to assist the Emperor, was taken not under the flattering
phantom of delusive glory, not because the house of Austria was
resuming, under the auspices of one of its illustrious members,
its former spirit, and had regained its ardour ; not because the

Q 2

228 • 229MR. PITT'S
[Di c.

French had been forced to abandon some places, and retreat
from others, in the German dominions; but their resolution was
taken when ministers felt that they had an opportunity of giving
to the Emperor, Europe, and the country, the best pledge of
their sincerity, of their attention to their interests, of their inch..
victual integrity, and collective force. The resolution was not
taken without serious contemplation of the risk. It was not un-
dertaken without maturely considering every relation, ill which -
it could possibly connect itself with the constitution. It was not
undertaken in defiance of law, nor made a solitary exception to
all former usage. It was not undertaken to cripple our finances,
nor had it, either prospectively or retrospectively, any one thing
in common with a deliberate insult to the House. But it was
undertaken in a way, and upon an emergency, which warranted
the measure. Even the measure was warranted by the former
opinions of my adversaries ; but especially by the then and pre-
sent opinion of monied men. I shall perhaps be asked, what is
the difference between a loan in the manner that loan was trans-
acted, and a loan granted in the old and popular way ? What
the difference between a direct and avowed disbursement of the
public money, and an indirect and concealed disbursement ?
The former I shall, perhaps, be told, must have decreased the
pecuniary resources of the country equally with the latter; and
have lessened, though in a secret manner, -the general means of
commercial security. But to this I cannot concede, because the
reverse has been the fact. The fact has been, that by remitting
money to the Emperor in that season of difficulty, of doubt, and
danger, His Majesty's ministers have rendered less doubtful the
prospects of a safe and honourable peace. Had Ministers on that
occasion, after being convinced themselves of the necessity and
justice of such assistance, and during the recess of parliament,
delayed the adoption of the conduct they have pursued, instead
of affording to the Emperor, the enemy, and Europe, a proof of
superior wisdom and superier resources, it would be a proof of
the Want of both, by giving the money publicly. By discuss-
ing the subject in parliament, at the earliest period, if such a
discussion could be entered into, not only public credit would -


have been injured, but you would have told the enemy that your
difficulties obliged you to stint the acknowledged wants of your
allies. To those who thought worse of our resources than I did,
to the public mind in general, such a measure, in such a crisis,
would, I know, have been a cause not of rejoicing, but of sor-
row ; not a source of pleasure, but of pain. Every man who
wished well to his country, every man sincerely attached to the
principles of the constitution, instead of approving of that assist-
ance being afforded originally as a loan, would have said, No,
do not commit yourself to your ally, so as to make your neces-
sities a test of his. If, instead of endeavouring to poise and
remove the difficulty as I have done, this House had so passed a
public lean, such must have been the consequence. I am cer-
tain, that had parliament been acquainted with the danger of our
ally, and had even determined to give the necessary assistance,
the publicity of the measure would have defeated the object. So
that, whether we had or had not been reduced to the alternative
of refusing assistance altogether, the event must have produced
collateral mischiefs. I may, therefore, I think, ask, Ought you
to yield to the pressure of temporary difficulty, and abandon your
ally at a moment when such a step may be decisive of his fate ?
Ought you, on the other hand, completely to pledge yourselves
to grant a pecuniary assistance which, in the first instance, may
be attended with considerable inconvenience, and the influence
of which, on the future course of events, you are unable to
ascertain'? Pledges of aid, and of instant aid, His Majesty's
servants had certainly seen good reason to give to the Emperor.
These pledges had been given long before the meeting of parlia-
ment, and might justly be considered as very eminently conducive
to every measure and every success which has been since adopted
and experienced. It is, I know, one among the grounds on
which the right honourable gentleman has brought his accusation,
that a part of the money was sent previously to the meeting of
parliament, and another ground, that money has been sent
since its meeting. I own, the advance to the Emperor consists
of sums sent since the meeting of the present parliament ; but
I do contend, that the pledges of these sums were the means

Q 3

230 MR. PITT'S [DEc. 1'l.
by which the house of Austria endured adversity, and retrieved
its prosperity. Had the Emperor, in July and August last, had
no assurance of your assistance, I will not say we should have
been at this moment a ruined people, but I will say, that the
pecuniary security of England, and the territorial security of
Austria, had been diminished, if not utterly destroyed.

On a former night, an honourable friend of mine used as an
argument, the effect which he thought a public discussion of the
measure would have to depreciate the credit of the country ; and
I own I have not yet heard any thing that could induce me to
think differently on that subject. The effect of a knowledge of
the pecuniary distresses of the Emperor, joined to the difficulty
which a prompt supply would have produced, could not fail to
hear with peculiarly embarrassing weight on the course of ex-
change. Whereas the transmission of the sum of 1,200,0007. in
different sums, and at different periods, tended greatly to relieve
the Emperor, and preserve the credit of this country from that
depression which the same sum, granted at once, and in the form
of a public loan, would have occasioned. I need not, therefore,
enumerate the particular dates of those hills. Our assurance to
Austria was not confined to the meeting of parliament, not sub-
jected to the delays of several months of recess, but it was given
with reference to every situation of difficulty or danger in which
the arms of the Emperor might be placed by their resistance to
the arms of France. When the Austrian troops were 'retreating
from their. severe and glorious combat with the French repub-
licans, they surely merited every assistance this country could
afford them ; but when, in the career of a brilliant series of the
most splendid victories, those gallant men were urged by their
emulation of the intrepidity of their invincible officers to acts of
unparalleled prowess, His Majesty's servants found themselves
called upon, most particularly called upon, to aid and promote
their views, to soften their•calamities, and to afford them means
of securing then-important conquests. On the conviction of the
propriety of these sentiments, and of such conduct, it was, that
the King's ministers had acted. Of the number of those who had


been guided by these sentiments, I, Sir, certainly was one, not
the least active to provide, nor, I trust, the least vigilant to
manage prudently, that pecuniary stimulus which, during the
recess, and at other' periods, was given to the arms of the empire..
Our conduct, therefore, Sir, does not respect the months of
October, of November, nor December, in particular, but it had
a clear and unerring relation to every crisis and circumstance, to
every moment of danger. In truth, the acts themselves were acts
performed distinctly in compliance with solemn engagements ;
they were acts in execution of pledges which had been previously
given. Acting during the recess from the conviction that these
pledges were given by the letter and the spirit of the existing
treaties, acting after the parliament was met, under the sanction
of these treaties, with no intention then, and surely none now,
of setting up their own judgments as the standard of, or superior
to, the judgment of the House of Commons, ministers, I think,
may be permitted to avail themselves of the exceptions of all simi-
lar treaties in favour of similar conduct. As to the transaction
itself, no separation could fairly be made of the necessity which
gave existence to the measure, and the motives which influenced
its adoption. Even supposing the judgment of parliament could •
have been taken, the state of Germany was such as could not
have left gentlemen one moment to their doubts whether or no
it was proper to assist the Emperor. What ministers-have done

pursuance of their pledge was, however, done in a great mea-
sure before parliament could have been assembled to consider its
expediency. Of the nature and effect of the services performed
by the Emperor, gentlemen may very readily judge. They have
them recorded in the annals of very recent periods, annals the
most brilliant, perhaps,' in the history of the world.. Thus,
whether we judge of the services of Austria in whole, or only in
part, I think gentlemen must concede to me that the services
of the last three months have been at least such as merit our par-
ticular approbation. On this part of the subject I have, there-
fore, at present, scarcely any thing more to remark. I have, in
the best manner I am able, stated to the House the circumstance


[DEC. 14.

of that situation which rendered it impossible for Austria to con-
tinue her warlike operations without assistance from this country.
I have likewise endeavoured to render my own conceptions of the
act of sending money to an ally without the previous consent of
parliament. In addition to these, I have submitted to the House
those principles, in the practical exertion of which I pursued that
line of conduct now so much the subject of the animadversions
of the right honourable gentleman.

With this species of defence, I might in some measure rest
satisfied : but I should still be wanting in duty to myself, did I
not, before I sat down this night, desire the House to keep in
memory the principles I have thus stated, as being those on
which I acted ; if I did not desire the House to compare these
principles with my conduct. As to the question of extraordina-
ries, I have heard the idea suggested, and something like an
argument attempted to be deduced from it, that if' its spirit be
adhered to, no part of a vote of credit can be employed to pay
foreign troops. I have heard too, that of such an application 'of
the public money so voted, our annals scarcely afford any, and
if any, not apposite precedents. Sir, I think I can instance a
number of precedents of this kind ; I can instance to this House,
and for the information of the right honourable gentleman, that
votes of credit were appropriated by our ancestors to the pay-
ment of foreign troops. In times before the revolution, but of
those times gentlemen seem unwilling to say much, in the reign
immediately before the revolution, this very thing had been
done by the crown ; but, Sir, in periods subsequent to the revo-
lution, in periods not the least favoured in our annals, although
.certainly not altogether free from the stains of calumny, but
especially of party violence, in the reign of King William, during
the year 1701, accompanied by circumstances of a singularly
important and curious nature, the parliament voted an extra sum
for the payment of foreign forces. This sum was voted not re-
gularly as a vote of credit, but it succeeded the granting of a
vote of credit, and was a measure which, although it occasioned
some trifling opposition, was carried unanimously. Such was


the conduct of our ancestors at the revolution. In, the reign
of Queen Ann, a reign reprehended undoubtedly by- some, a
reign which had unhappily encouraged, if not occasioned and
fomented, those differences which rendered the Tories so im-
placable against the Whigs; in that reign, thus chequered by the
persecutions, sanguinary persecutions, first of the Whigs, but lat-
terly, and I will confess with not less cruelty, begun and con-
tinued by the Tories; in this reign, and in the years 1704. and
1705, both subsidies and grants had been employed in paying
foreign forces. This, too, was done without the authority of par-
liament. In 1706, a transaction more directly characteristic of
this, for which the ministers of the present day are censured, was
publicly avowed, and as publicly discussed ; yet it seems the
right honourable gentleman had overlooked it. This at least
seems to be the case ; or, if known, he certainly ought to have
abandoned his assertion. There is to be met with in the annals
of the parliament of that day, an account of three different
sums, each considered, by the opposition of that day, as viola-
tions of the constitution —a remittance to the Duke of Savoy, to
the Emperor, and to Spain. A sum too had been paid in the
same manner to the Landgrave of Hesse, for a corps of his
troops then In the pay of England. All these sums were not
voted regularly after the specific propositions, submitted for that
purpose to the House, but were remitted to those sovereigns
without the previous consent of parliament. Not even estimates
of the services for which the sums had been paid, were laid
before the House, till six weeks after its meeting. The sum sent
to the Emperor was peculiarly distinguished— it had been trans-
mitted, not at the close, not during the recess of that session in
which it was first announced to parliament, but before the end of
the preceding. session. These proceedings did certainly attract
notice. The House of Commons and the public had been ad-
dressed on the unconstitutionality of the measure ; then, as now,
there had been employed every effort which ingenuity could
suggest; every vehicle of public communication rendered a
vehicle of asperity and censure on the conduct of ministers. It



[D.F.e. 11.
became the subject of a solemn discussion— a discussion, appa-
rently not less vehement, than it was laboured and profuse. But
how, Sir, did the ministers of that day retire from the combat ?
Did they retire overwhelmed with the virulence and abuse, the
censure of the discerning and temperate members of that parlia-
ment? Or were those their actions distinguished by the appro-
bation of the Commons of Great Britain ? Sir, the minister of
that day had the satisfaction to see the attack of his adversaries
repelled, and their expressions of censure charged to approba-
tion. That minister, Sir, beard his conduct applauded, and the
journals of this House were made to bear record that the sense
of its members was, that the sums advanced to the Emperor on
that occasion had been productive not only of the preservation of
the empire, but had also supported and Maintained the interests
of Europe. In the year 1718, in the beginning of the reign of
George the First, an instance of the application of the public
money occurred, which, though not so analogous as the last, I
think it right to mention. A message bad been received from
His Majesty, soliciting the aid of the Commons to make such an
augmentation of the actual forces of the country as might be
deemed necessary to place it in a respectable state of defence;
and that because there had been an appearance of an invasion.
A tthis time His Majesty takes Dutch troops into his pay, and the
money voted to raise and maintain native troops is

• disbursed for
the use of a foreign corps. It is true this body of Dutch' troops
were landed in England, and their services confined to it ; but
not even these affected much the application of the fact as a pre-
cedent.- However, Sir, in the year 1731, a period nearer our
own tunes, a general vote of credit was granted. That vote of
credit was applied on such occasions, and for such purposes, as
might, at any time during its existence,, arise out of the exi-.
gencies of the time. On the 18th of February of the subsequent
year, a vote of credit was also granted, and a treaty concluded
with Denmark. And, Sir, if 1 have not totally misconceived
the passage of our parliamentary history where these facts are
stated, this last, as Well as the vote of credit immediately pre-


ceding it, was applied to purposes in their nature not unlike
those to which necessity impelled the ministers of the present
day to apply the vote of 1.796. I might also refer gentlemen to
another instance of an advance to foreign troops. An advance
to the Duke of Aremberg, commander of the Austrian forces,
in the year 1712, was noticed in debate, and censured in the ad-
ministration of Mr. Pelham — a name this as dear to the friends
of constitutional liberty as perhaps any that could be mentioned ;
but the enquiry was avoided by moving the previous question. It
happened, however, that, not long after, the same question was
made the subject of a specific discussion. It appeared that the
advance had been made under the authority of an assurance ex-
pressed by Lord Carteret, and not in consequence of any previous
consent of parliament ; but it appeared also that the progress
of the Austrian troops was considerably accelerated by the in-
fluence of that aid, and their subsequent successes owing chiefly
to it: The vote of censure, therefore, which had been founded
on the act of Lord Carteret, was amended, and the advance
declared necessary to the salvation of the empire. But, Sir, let us
compare the crisis of 1796 with that of 1787, when the expenses
incurred by our endeavours to protect Holland were recognised
under the head of secret services. This, too, was an unanimous
recognition of the act which, hadit been the offspring of 1796,
the right honourable gentleman, influenced by his new opinions,
would, I have no doubt, marked with his disapprobation ; but so
stood the fact then.

The right honourable gentleman avoids no opportunity to
express his disrespect for the memory of the last parliament. But
surely he ought to recollect, that, although he has often told us
that the last parliament completely undermined the constitution,
there yet remain principles for which the right honourable gen-
tleman thinks it his duty to contend, under the sanction of
which he is yet permitted to accuse His Majesty's ministers as
criminals for doing that which necessity provoked, and. which
precedents warrant. Undoubtedly, Sir, think that whether
the people of England will hereafter approve of the conduct of

236 PITT'S
[Dec. 11.

opposition as constitutional conduct, they will admit that it is a
vigilant opposition. On the present occasion, however, much of
that vigilance Seems to me to have been exerted in vain. They
have not, with all their industry, fallen even in the way of one
precedent, that might have induced some little relaxation of their
inordinate zeal. They have not discovered that the act they
have marked with every species of obloquy, of which language
is capable, is an act that has been again and again approved of.
It is even within the admitted principle of successive


But the members who sat in the last parliament have not forgot
that, when a loan of four millions and a half was proposed to be
granted to the Emperor, the intention of granting that loan was
known as early as February 1795. A message had been received
from His Majesty, stating that a negotiation was pending with
the Emperor to maintain 200,000 men. The loan to be granted
when the negotiation succeeded, and when it failed, to be men-
tioned. Soon after the answer to this message was communi-
cated to the throne, a motion was made for an account of
250,0001. advanced to the Emperor in May, 1795 ; and again a
similar motion was made for an account of 300,0001. also ad-
vanced to the Emperor in the month of May following. With
respect to these sums, it was agreed by the House before the loan
was debated, that they might be afterwards made good out of
the loan. This, Sir, I have stated to show that the members
who sat in the last parliament cannot be altogether ignorant of
the principles of the constitution. After the negotiation was
concluded, the loan was debated ; the House was divided, but
no objection was made to these advances. On-the subject of
the Prince of Condes army being supplied with money by this
country, I can only say, that whatever sums that army has as
yet received have been paid, on account of services rendered, as
forming a part of the Austrian forces. The circumstance of a
part of the 1,200,0001,. stated as being sent to the Emperor,
being afterwards received in this country in part payment of the
interest due on the second Austrian loan, is also easily accounted
for, these payments, on account of being in their nature the


same, as if the Emperor, instead of being so accommodating to
himself as to pay the money, by his agent, on the spot, had
ordered it to be sent to Vienna, and transmitted by the same
post to this court.

I may now, Sir, I think be permitted to ask on what principle
of justice a criminal charge can be brought against me for merely
having followed the uniform tenor of precedent, and the estab-
lished line of practice ? By what interpretation of a candid and
liberal mind can I be judged guilty of an attempt, wantonly to
violate the constitution ? I appeal to the right honourable gen.
tleman himself, who is not the last to contend for the delicacy
which ought to be used in imputing criminal motives to any
individual, and to urge in the strongest terms the attention
which ought to be shown to the candid and impartial admini-
stration of justice. In what country do we live? And by what
principles are we to be tried ? By the maxims of natural justice
and constitutional law, or by what new code of some revolu-
tionary tribunal ? Not longer than a year and a half since, the
same principle was adopted, and suffered to pass without any
animadversion ; and now, at a crisis of ten-fold importance, and
where the measure has not outrun the exercise of a sound dis-
cretion, it is made the foundation of a criminal charge. We
are accused with a direct and wanton attack upon the constitu-
tion. It is riot supposed that we have been actuated by any but
the blackest and most malignant motives. We are not allowed
the credit of having felt any zeal for the interest of our country,
nor of those advantages which the measure has produced to the
common cause.

I have now weighed the whole merits of the transaction before
the House, and with them I am well content to leave the deci-
sion. While we claim a fair construction on the principles and.
intentions which have guided our conduct, if it shall appear that
it has in the smallest instance deviated from any constitutional
principle, we must submit to the consequence, whatever be the
censure or the punishment. It is our duty, according to the
best of our judgment, to consult for the interest of the country ;

238 MR. PITT'S

it is your sacred and peculiar trust to preserve inviolate the prin-
ciples of the constitution. I throw myself upon your justice,
prepared in every case to submit to your decision ; but with
considerable confidence, that I shall experience your approba.
tion. If I should be disappointed, I will not say that the disap:
pointment will not be heavy, and the mortification severe ; at
any rate however it will to me be matter of consolation, that I
have not, from any apprehension of personal consequences,
neglected to pursue that line of conduct which I conceive to be
essential to the interests of the country and of Europe. But
while I bow with the most perfect submission to the determi-
nation of the House, I cannot but remark on the extraordinary
language which has been used on this question. Ministers have
been broadly accused with a wanton and a malignant desire to
violate the constitution : it has been stated that no other motive
could possibly have actuated their conduct. If a charge of such
malignant intention had been brought against men, who have
affirmed the present war to be neither just nor necessary, and.
who on that ground cannot be supposed friendly to its success ;-
who have extolled, nay, even exulted in the prodigies of French
valour ; who have gloried in the successes of the foes of civil
liberty, the hostile disturbers of the peace of Europe, men who
blasphemously denied the existence of the Deity, and who had_
rejected and trampled on every law, moral and divine ; who
have exclaimed against the injustice of bringing to trial persons,
who had associated to overawe the legislature ; those who gravely
and vehemently asserted, that it was a question of prudence,
rather than a question of morality, whether an act of the legis-
lature should be resisted ; those who were anxious to expose
and aggravate every defect of the constitution; to reprobate
every measure adopted for its preservation, and to obstruct
every proceeding of the executive government to ensure the
success of the contest in which we are engaged in common with
Our allies; I say, if such a charge of deliberate and deep-rooted
malignity were brought against persons of this description, I
should conceive that even then the rules of candid and charitable

interpretation would induce us to hesitate in admitting its reality ;
much more when it is brought against individuals, whose con-
duct, I trust, has exhibited the reverse of the picture I have
now drawn. I appeal to the justice of the House, I rely on
their candour ; but, to gentlemen who can suppose ministers
capable of those motives which have been imputed to them on
this occasion, it must be evident that I can desire to make no
such appeal.

An amendment was afterwards moved by Mr. Bragge, to leave out from
the, first word F` that," and to insert, " the measure of advancing the
several sums of money, which appear, from the accounts presented to
the House in this session of parliament, to have been issued for the sex.-
vice of the Emperor, though not to be drawn into precedent, but upon
occasions of special necessity, was, under the peculiar circumstances of
the case, a justifiable and proper exercise of the discretion vested in His
Majesty's ministers by the vote of credit, and calculated to produce con-
sequences, which have proved highly advantageous to the common cause
and to the general interests of Enrope ," which upon a division was

Ayes 285
Nocs...... .81

December 30. 1796.

Me. PITT moved the order of the day for taking into consideration
His Majesty's message, respecting the failure of the negotiation for peace
that had been carrying on with the French government.

" It is with the utmost concern that His Majesty acquaints the House

of Commons, that his earnest endeavours to effect the restoration of
peace have been unhappily frustrated, and that the negotiation, in which
he was engaged, has been abruptly broken off by the peremptory refusal
of the French government to treat, except upon a basis evidently
inadmissible, and by their having in consequence required His Majesty's
Plenipotentiary to quit Paris within 48 hours.

" His Majesty has directed the several memorials and papers which
have been exchanged in the course of the late discussion, and the account
transmitted to His Majesty of its final result, to be laid before the House.

" Prom these papers His Majesty trusts, it will be proved to the whole

240 MR. PITT'S

[Dec. 30.
world that his conduct has been guided by a sincere desire to effect the
restoration of peace on principles suited to the relative situation of the
belligerent powers, and essential for the permanent interests of this king-
dom, and the general security of Europe : whilst his enemies have
advanced pretensions at once inconsistent with those objects, unsup-
ported even on the grounds on which they were professed to rest, and
repugnant both to the system established by repeated treaties, and to the
principles and practice which have hitherto regulated the intercourse of
independent nations.

In this situation, His Majesty has the consolation of reflecting, that
the continuance of the calamities of war can be imputed only to the
unjust and 'exorbitant views of his enemies ; and His Majesty, looking
forward with anxiety to the moment when they may be disposed to act
on different principles, places in the mean time the fullest reliance, under
the protection of Providence, on the wisdom and firmness of his parlia-
ment, on the tried valour of his forces by sea and land, and on the zeal,
public spirit, and resources of his kingdoms, for vigorous and effectual
support in the prosecution of a contest, which it does not depend.on
His Majesty'to terminate, and which involves in it the security and per-
manent interests of this country, and of Europe.

G. R."

The message being readfrom the chair, Mr. PITT addressed the House
to the following effect

I am perfectly aware, Sir, in rising upon the present occasion,
that the motion which I shall have the honour to propose
to the House, in consequence of His Majesty's most gra-
cious message, and founded upon the papers with which it
was accompanied, involves many great and important con-
siderations.. Whatever difference of opinion may be entertained
upon some of the topics which they contain, I am sure there
will exist only one sentiment with regard to the event which
they announce. We must all concur in that deep and poignant
regret which is naturally excited by the information that the ne-
gotiation, in 'which His Majesty was engaged, is abruptly broken
off; a negotiation by which we fondly wished, and perhaps might
have sanguinely hoped, that upon terms of peace, which it would
have been wise and prudent, and honourable in this country to
have embraced, we should at length have been enabled to have
retired froma contest undertaken in compliance with the faith of


treaties and for the defence of our allies ; undertaken to repel
the daring, unprincipled, and unprovoked aggression of the
enemy ; undertaken for the maintenance of our own indepen-
dence and the support of our own rights ; undertaken for the
preservation of our constitution and laws, and in obedience to
those principles of policy by which the conduct of England has
so long and so gloriously been directed ; undertaken from an union
of all these causes and a combination of all these motives, to a
degree for which the annals of the world present no parallel.
From the documents of which the House are now in possession,
and from the proceedings of which they are now enabled to
judge, I trust it will appear, that if- it was thought necessary to
embark in the contest upon such urgent grounds and such pow-
erful considerations, His Majesty's ministers have evinced a perse-
verance equally sincere in their-endeavours to restore peace to
Europe upon fair, just, and honourable grounds, in spite of the
discouragements under which they laboured, and the difficulties
with which they had to encounter. To whatever cause, however,
the failure of the negotiation is to be ascribed, it must be matter
of regret to all, and to none more than to myself.' Whatever
subject of personal anxiety I may have had, in addition to the
common feelings of humanity and for the general happiness of
1:tankind„ my sentiments are only those of disappointment. BLit I
have the satisfaction of knowing that this feeling of disappoint-
ment is unaccompanied with any reflection, unmingled with
regret, unimbitttered with despondency, as it must be evident to
the world, that the event which we deplore can be attributed
only to the pride, the ambition, the obstinacy, and the arrogant
pretensions of the enemy. I feel this consolation annexed to
the task which we have now to perform, that we can come for-
ward, not unaware of the difficulty, yet not dismayed by the
prospect, prepared to review the situation in which we are placed,
to ask what are the causes from which the failure of the negoti-
ation proceeded, what OpiniOn' it authorises US to form, what
conduct it requires us to pursue, what duty it imposes upon us to
discharge, and what efforts we are called upOit'to .e:cerfiri


212 MR. PITTS [Dec. 30.
own defence, and what support and assistance policy demands
that we should grant to our allies for the vigorous and effectual
prosecution of a: contest in which we are compelled to per-

As to the next point which I shall have to consider, I cannot
expect equal unanimity ; not, however, that it is much more
complicated, although undoubtedly not so self-evident. I allude
to the failure of the negotiation, in point of terms, and which
renders a Continuance of the war necessary ; but have we not
the consolation that the aggression has uniformly been on the
side of the enemy, and that nothing has been wanting on the
part of this country to restore peace, on the grounds on which
peace alone would be desirable ? When we wish for peace, we
wish for a secure and permanent peace, and the secure and
permanent possession of those blessings with which peace is ac-

If, in that necessity to which we are now subjected, of pur-
suingwith vigour the war in which we are engaged, we can look
for consolation, amid the sacrifices with which it will be attended,
to the original aggression of the enemy by which it was occa-
sioned, to the consideration, that no endeavour has been omitted
which can evince our earnest and sincere desire of peace, and
that this sentiment still predominates to put an end to the conteo,p
upon those principles which alone can render that event desir-
able; which can secure a peace, safe, honourable, and permanent,
which can restore those blessings which it is calculated to pro-
duce,-and those advantages for which it is worthy to be desired ;
—if we have adhered to these considerations, we have clone
every thing which it was in our power to perform. We may
lament the failure of His Majesty's exertions upon this occasion,
but at least we have not to regret that they have been wholly
without advantage. They must prove to which party the pro-
longation ,

of the. war is to be imputed ; they will tend at once to
unite England and to divide France ; they will animate our en-
deavours witkupw energy and new confidence, while they must
have the effect.fonfeeble and to embarrass the operations of the


enemy. The question is not merely how far His Majesty's mi-
nisters and those to whose province it is committed to judge of
the terms, upon which peace ought to be concluded, and what
offers are to be proposed, (a duty always attended with difficulty,
but in the present circumstances peculiarly embarrassed and un-
usually critical) acted properly in the conditions upon which
they were willing to treat: but after the propositions which were
made had been rejected ; when, instead of yours, terms utterly
inadmissible and glaringly extravagant were substituted ; when,
to a peremptory objection,-was added the refusal of all farther dis-
cussion; when the negotiation was abruptly broken off, and His
majesty's ambassador was- sent away ; when all this is accompa-
nied with a proceeding more insulting than the original
dismissal, when a condition is reserved, which is not even the
semblance, but-which stands-undisguised as the most glaring
mockery of negotiation, it remains for the House, to „judge whe-
ther anything has been wanting upon the part of ministers, whe-
ther any thing more is.roquired to display the sentiments and
the views of the enemy.. It remains to be seen whether there
are any gentlemen .in this House, • who, as friends to peace, as
friends to their country,, who, consistent with the principles of
statesmenT -or the -feelings of patriots, can discover any alter-
-native 'in the ultimate-line of conduct to be pursued. From the
manner in which what I have now said has been received, I
hope it will not be incumbent upon me to dwell more particu-
larly upon this topic, before I advert to others which come
previously to be considered.

The two leading points which arise from the views connected
ivith the subject in discussion, are, the sentiment which it is
properf toi express upon the . steps to be taken by His Majesty for
the purpose of obtaining peace, and then, combining the :offers
made with the rejection of the enemy, and the circumstances
with which it was accompanied,.what sentiment. parliament and
the nation 'ought to entertain, witkregard to the couducOvces-
sary to be adopted for our own . security, for maintaining the
cause of our allies, and protecting the independence of Europe.,

a 2


9,44 MR. PITT'S [DEC. 30.
After the communications which have already been made of the
former steps taken by this country, and on the part of the
Emperor, for the purpose of bringing the contest to a termini.
tion, it would be unnecessary to dwell upon the particulars of
these transactions. I would beg leave, however, to remind the
House, that, in March 1796, offers were made to the French
government, by His Majesty's envoy at Basle, Mr. Wickham, to
treat for a general peace, in a manner which of all others had
been most usual in a complicated war, a mode sanctioned by
custom, and justified by experience, which had been commonly
found successful in attaining the objects for which it was intended;
yet this proposal met with a refusal, and was affected to be
received as a mark of insincerity. We find the enemy advancing
a principle, to which I shall afterwards more particularly advert ;
so •manifestly unjust, and so undeniably absurd, that whatever
difference of opinion subsisted upon other points, there was no
man living had the temerity to support it. The question upon
the former discussions to which this transaction gave rise, was,
whether the principle to which I allude was fairly imputed. In
the answer to Mr. Wickham's note, when we found the govern-
ment of Prance advancing a law of her own internal constitution,
-to cancel the obligation of treaties, and to annul the public
law of Europe, the only doubt was, whether it was fair and
candid, upon such a foundation, to -ascribe to the directory
the reality of such a pretension. The principle itself I am sure
sari-=never be successfully defended upon any law of nations or
any argument of reason. The Emperor too, in spite of the
refusal with which the application of- this country had 'been
received ; in spite of the discouragement which a new attempt
presented ; at the opening : of the- campaign, renew the
offers for negotiating a general peace Upon the principles upon
which the proposition of this country had been founded. In
the course of this eventful year, so chequered with .reinarkable
vicissitudes, before the successes of the 'enemy, '

nately so rapidly followed the breaking- of d

before the glorious tide Cof victory by'Which the :latter period of



the campaign had been distinguished, many instances occurred
for the application of their principle. The proposition of the
Emperor, however, was received nearly in the same manner
with our own : and even the answer which it produced was con-
ceived in the same tone, and conveyed the same unfounded
imputation, excepting that there were some topics with regard
to points of etiquette and differences about form, which, upon
the application of this country, had not been observed till they
were renewed upon the perusal of reports of certain proceedings
in this House, whether faithfully detailed or not I will not
enquire. The answer which the Emperor received was, that he
might send a plenipotentiary to Paris to treat for a peace, con-
sistent with the laws and constitution of the republic. Not-
withstanding the discouragement which the repeated experience
of former disappointments was calculated to produce, His
Majesty, retaining that desire of putting a period to hostilities
by which he was uniformly animated, felt some hope from the
distress to which France was reduced, and from the embarrass-
ments under which she laboured, that a renewed proposal would.
be welcomed with a more friendly reception. To show that the
inveterate disposition which the enemy had manifested did not
discourage His Majesty from giving another chance of success
to his ardent wishes, without having witnessed any indication
upon their part of sentiments more pacific or more conciliatory,
without their having discovered any retraction of the principles
which had been advanced in reply to his first proposal, His
Majesty determined to try the experiment of a new attempt of
negotiation, to the circumstances or which I shall again recur.

Upon many occasions during the present contest it had been
discussed, whether it was politic for this country to appeal to
negotiation in whatever circumstances the enemy were placed.
Gentlemen on the other side were accustomed to press the argu-
ment, that in no situation could negotiation be humiliating. If a
sincere desire of peace, it was said, does exist, there are modes
of ascertaining the dispositions of the enemy, of making your
wishes known, and making advances to the attainment of the


216 MR. PITT'S
[Dee. 30.

object, withoutinvolving any question of etiquette or provoking
any discussion of forms.— Of all the modes then recommended,
that of application through the medium of a neutral minister
was the most approved. After the reception which the successive
proposals of this country, and of the Emperor, received at Basle,
the mode of application by a neutral power, by that very power
which had been again and again cited as an instance of the good
faith of the French government, and their respect for inde-
pendent states, was at length adopted, and the Danish minister
was pitched upon for this purpose. In this proceeding it was
not the object to announce on what terms this country was will-
ing to conclude a peace, not to avoid any objections of etiquette,
not to evade any discussion of preliminary formalities, but
merely to ascertain the point, whetheCthe:directoryvouldigrant
passports to a confidential person' \k,henl-HiS'Illtajaty ‘vasrWilling,
to send to Faris. The . application was accordingly Made by.the
Danish resident, and, after an inteival of some days' delay
this step was allowed to pass in silence ; to diviitfen:#plieation
no answer was returned, and at 1

-aSt a verbal—Mitifieition Was
given, that the directory could nee

-listen to any •indireet:appli:.
cation through the medium of neutral powers; : - :arid . that'a-pleni-
iintentiary might proceed to thefrObliers,• and there Wait'fa-the
necessary passports.

I would now ask the

House terjUdge,"-fr it bad realrybeelt the
wish of His Majesty's ministerstiti"ai rall • theniSalieS::.Of the' phut-
sible grounds for proceeding 130 fthliery Which

•were .theispre-
Sented, which detild so easily beIthStified . by a,refetnoeAhthe
conduct' of the French governifiefiWand'hy 'dispo§itions

. by
which experience had proved theniiiilieluided, would-they have
been very eager again to try the'iSstie irif=neWL'attehiptS,Plr-Bilt
even to this they submitted, and'bya flag 6f trtiCe , ; gent to the
governor 'of Calais, directly•dériiaiidetiltliVoneeesSaryptSports.
— The directory, now feeling 'With 1/2014ch l this
country pursued the desire •of 6fifilailitikieth re lenifteSehy n ego -
tiation, and, foreseeing the odid*WitlilirhiChliliCiefitS'ativbda
be attended,'Were compelled, F fipehf,' :*ere'bOmpelledi totrant

a, ,


the passports, and thus to afford to His Majesty the opportunity
of presenting the outline of the terms upon which peace might
be restored. Under circumstances like these, with the expe-
rience of an uniform tenor of conduct which testified the very
reverse of any disposition to a cordial co-operation for the re-
establishment of peace, there was little hope that the French
government would keep pace with the offers proposed by this
country, and it was foreseen that it would rest with His Majesty,
after stimulating their reluctant progress through every part of
the discussion, to encounter the further difficulty of proposing
specific terms. In this embarrassing situation the first thing to
be done was to endeavour to establish what is at once conformable
to reason, sanctioned by usage, and agreeable to universal prac-
tice since negotiation was first reduced to a system ; I mean some
basis upon which the negotiation was to be founded. How usual
such a practice had been, it would be unnecessary to argue ; how
reasonable, it would be impossible' to dispute ; as it must he evi-
dent that such a mode of proceeding must conduce to abridge the
delay with which a discussion of this kind is apt to be attended,
to afford a clue to that labyrinth of complicated interests that are
to be considered, and to supply some rule of stating mutual pro-
positions. It would be equally unnecessary, as this mode was to
be adopted in a negotiation where we, for ourselves directly,
had so little to ask, and for our allies so much, and where the
interests of Europe demanded such important claims; where we
had to treat with a country which had advanced principles that.
destroyed all former establishments; thatt'ancelled all received
laws and existing treaties; that overthrew all experience of past
proceeding. This basis then was to be a basis of compensation,
not of ambition or aggrandisement, but that compensation which
was due for the conquests achieved by the valour and perseve-
rance of our forces from the acquisitions gained by the 'enemy ;
a basis than this I am confident more equitable, or more just,
better calculated to secure the interests of our allies, to maintain
the independence of Europe, or more honourable to this country,
never was proposed. But whether this basis be reasonable or

R 4.

218 MR. PITT'S [Dac. 30.
not, is not now so much the enquiry, as another proof of the
views of the enemy is disclosed, and a fresh instance of the
inveterate disposition of the French government is displayed.
Before any explicit answer to the basis proposed was returned ;
when it was understood that it was to be rejected, Lord Malmes-
bury is required, within twenty-four hours, to present his ultima-
tum. It appears, however, from the able manner in which Lord
Malmesbury conducted himself upon this demand, that this de-
mand.was not insisted upon, and to his explanation, they replied
only by an evasive answer, which announced their refusal of the
basis proposed, and intimated the extravagant pretensions they
were desirous to substitute. I will now put to the recollection
of the House the public discussions, to which the subject of the
basis of negotiation presented to the French government gave
rise. I will not say that the public was unanimous, nor will I
pretend to decide in what proportions it was divided. None,.
however, doubted that this basis would not be agreed to. In the
public discussion to which the plan was subjected (by this I do
not mean parliamentary discussions), and in the writings which it
produced, particularly in the metropolis, the argument main-
tained was, that the principle was unreasonable, and ought not
to have been offered. The directory, however, thought proper
to accept what it was argued in this country ought to have been
refused, and the principle of compensation was admitted.

having, I trust, shown therefore, from the extorted,-confes-
sion which arises out of every statement, that the basis of com-
pensation was accepted, there follow the particular terms, as far
as they were the subject of negotiation. It is a point well un-
derstood that the final terms to be considered as binding upon the
parties, never form a part of the original proposition. What,
however, is the case here ? When the first advances were made
by this country, they were met by no corresponding offers by the
directory; every difficulty that was started and removed, prepared
only new cavils ; the demands made by us were accompanied by
no disclosure of the terms to which they would accede. After a
reluctant admission of the basis, they insisted upon a specific


statement of the objects of compensation. Under circumstances
similar to those upon which the negotiation was begun, the
difficulties with which it is attended must be obvious, and the
common practice has been, as far as possible, to divide them, to
render the statement of terms mutual, to give reciprocally, and
at the same time, the explanations, the concessions, and the
demands upon which each party is disposed to insist. The pro-
priety of this is obvious. Without such a mode of proceeding it
is impossible to know what value the one sets upon a particular
concession, or a particular acquisition, and upon what conditions
this is to be abandoned, and how the other is to be compensated.
This difficulty obtains in all negotiations, more particularly
where doubts are entertained of . the sincerity of the party with
whom you have to deal, but most of all when no advance, no
reciprocal offer is made. How difficult then must it have been
under all the circumstances of this case to produce specific terms
with any probability of success or advantage. Yet the same
motives which had induced His Majesty on former occasions to
surmount the obstacles presented by the enemy, induced him here
likewise to remove every pretence of cavil. Plans were given in,
signed by Lord Malmesbury, stating likewise terms for the allies
of this country. In the outline, two things are to be kept sepa-
rate and distinct— the compensations demanded for our allies,
and those which were intended to protect the balance of Europe.

I need not argue again that a basis of compensation is reason-
able ; that I am entitled to assume as admitted : but to what
enormous extent it was retracted, I am now to state. During
that period of adverse fortune which has since by the valour and
glory of the gallant Imperial army so remarkably been retrieved,
considerable possessions belonging to Austria and other states
were added to the acquisitions of the enemy. On the other hand„
the success of our brave troops, retarded indeed in particular
quarters by some untoward circumstances, though not obstructed,
had added to our distant possessions, and extended, by colonial
acquisitions, the sources of our commerce, our wealth, and our
Prosperity, to a.: degree unparalleled even in the annals of this

250 MR. PITT'S
[DEc. 80.

country. Feeling the pressure, which the war, no doubt, gave
to our commerce, but feeling too that it neither affected the
sources of our commerce, nor would ultimately retard the full
tide of our prosperity, I was convinced that the temporary em-
barrassments which occurred, were less the effect of a real
distress, than of an accidental derangement arising from our in-
creasing capital and extended commerce. In looking round, you
discovered no symptom of radical decay, no proof of consuming
strength; and although I have been accused of advancing a para-
dox, while I maintained this proposition, I am convinced that
the embarrassment stated as an evidence of decline, was a proof
of the reality and the magnitude of our resources. I do not state
these circumstances, to give any one an idea that I do not ar-
dently wish for peace, but to show that we are not yet arrived
at so deplorable a state of wretchedness and abasement, as to be
compelled to make any insecure and dishonourable compromise.
What, on the other hand, was the situation of the enemy ? They
at first indeed were enabled to employ gigantic means of support,
which, from their extravagant nature, were temporary, not per-
manent. They find also the additional expedient of disseminating
new, unheard of; destructive principles ; these they poured forth
from the interior of France, into all the quarters of Europe,
where no rampart could be raised to oppose the dangerous, the
fatal inundation. Although madness and fanaticism carried
them thus far for a time, yet no rational man will deny that
those persons formed a fair and reasonable conclusion, who
thought that such resources could not be attended with either
duration or stability. I need hardly recur to the subject of
French finance, though it has a very considerable effect indeed
upon the question. I have on this subjeet been accused of bring-
ing forward groundless surmises, of using fanciful reasoning, of
stating elaborate theories without authority. I have even been
complimented on my dexterity at this sort of argument, for the
kind purpose of afterwards converting it into ridicule : but I shall
not now stop to confirm what in this respect I have formerly
asserted: I may surely, however, suppose that the admissions of

the executive directory are true, particularly when officially eOu-
veyed in the form of a message to one of their councils. A're'we
told by themselves, that the only pay of their troops are the
horrors of nakedness and famine ; that. their state contractors,
their judges, and all other public functionaries, receive no part
of their salaries ; that the roads are impassable, that the public
hospitals and general interests of charity are totally neglected ;
that nothing, in short, remains in a state of organization but
murder and assassination ? Is this a true picture drawn by them-
selves, and can this be the time for Europe to prostrate itself at
the foot of France — suppliantly to bow the knee, and ignomi-
niously to receive its law?

If these considerations would not have justified this country
in refusing to treat unless upon the principle of restoring to the
Emperor the territories of which he has been stripped, at least it
is sufficient reason to entitle us to refuse to the French republic
in the moment of debilitated power and exhausted resource, what
we should have disdained to grant to France in the proudest days
of her prosperous and flourishing monarchy. It was reason
enough why we should not desert our allies, nor abandon our
engagements, and why we should not agree to yield up to France
for the pretence of preventing future wars, what for two cen-
turies our ancestors thought it wise to contend to prevent the
French from obtaining possession of; and why, after the recorded
weakness of the republic, we ought not to resign without a strag-
gle, what the power and the riches of France in other times could
never extort ? What then were we to attain by the conquests we
had achieved ? For ourselves, we had nothing to ask; we dc--:
manded the return of no ancient possessions; we sued notfor
liberty to maintain our independence, to reject the fraternal
brace; and prevent the organization of treason. These do nOfres't
upon the permission of the enemy ; they depend upon the valour,
the intrepidity, and the patriotism of .the people ofIliii.00untry.
We desired, Sir, only to preserve our -good 'faith' iriViaate, and
were read .), to sacrifice all our own advantageg;`16 obtain ivhaf
we could not honourably give aWaY . Withiiiii 'the' atiSent of 'the

- 252 MR. PIT1"S [Drc.
Emperor. Could we possibly ask less at the outset of a negoti-
ation ? I touch, no doubt, upon a delicate subject, but I ask,
could we even have demanded the consent of the Emperor to ask
less ? Whatever might have been the disposition of the Emperor
to peace, would he have been content to agree to inferior terms,
when the campaign was not yet closed when the enemy were
yet struck with the effects of the brilliant and glorious success
with which the Imperial arms have lately been attended on the
side of the Rhine, when the exertions in Italy might have been
expected to communicate to the affairs of Austria in that quarter,
the same tide of victory by which the frontiers of Germany were
distinguished ? Could we have. asked less, consistently with the
good faith we owe to that ally, to whose exertions and to whose
victories we have been so much indebted; that ally to whom we
are so closely bound by congenial feelings, with whom we par-
ticipate in the glory of adversity retrieved, and of prosperity
restored.? In doing this, I am confident the House will agree
in thinking that we do not do too much.

By the terms proposed, all the territory between the Rhine
and the Moselle was to be ceded by France, subject to future
modification. When the French conquests in Italy were stated
as objects of restitution, it was not from that to be inferred that
Savoy.and Nice were included, for in no geographical view could
they be considered as component parts of that country. All the
propositions underwent discussion between the plenipotentiary
of His Majesty, and the French minister ; only the British
minister informed the minister of France, that as to the Nether-
lands, His Majesty could, on no account, retract any part of his
propositions, but that every thing else should be subject to modi-
fication. These offers, Sir, I maintain to have been extremely
liberal in their principle, and more so, when we consider the
application of it. We carried the principle of compensation to
the fullest extent, when we offered to give up all that we had
taken, reserving one subject only for consideration, which de-
pended on a treaty, and which I shall presently mention ; and
we asked no more than what, by the strictest ties of justice and


honour, we were bound to demand. Let me appeal to every one
present if this conduct was not fair, just, and reasonable ; if it
did not bespeak sincere intentions and an anxious wish on the
part of His Majesty to procure peace, consistently with good
faith and security to himself and his allies, and if it was not en-
titled to a candid reception from the enemy ? As to the value
of the French possessions which we offered to give up, it must
be confessed that the same evils with which France has been
afflicted have been extended to the colonial possessions ; they
have undoubtedly been much depreciated, much impoverished ;
but after all, they are of infinite importance to the commerce
and marine of France. The valuable post of St. Domingo ; the
military and commercial advantages of Martinique ; the pecu-
liarly favourable military situation of St. Lucia ; the importance
of Tobago to this country ; when we combine these, and place
them in an united point of view, we have some reason to doubt
whether there was not some degree of boldness on the part of His
Majesty's ministers to make such overtures ; we have some rea-
son to suspect the wisdom of the measure, rather than to cavil
at the insufficiency of the offer:

I come now more particularly to mention what relates to the
•Spanish part of St. Domingo, in the late negotiation. By a
former treaty with Spain, made at die peace of Utrecht, in the
year 1713, Spain engages not to alienate any of her possessions
in America and the West-Indies, without the consent of Great
Britain. Ilave we not then a right to take advantage of this
circumstance, on the present occasion, and to' hold out our con-
sent to this alienation, as a part of the compensation offered on
the part of this country ? In what consists the rightbf the French
to the Spanish parts of St. Domingo? Is if the right of possession?
No ! they never yet have been in possession. Is it then merely
the right of title ? No for their title is derived from-the alien-
ation of the -Spaniards, who had no right to transfer i
the consent of this country. But it may be said that-this treaty
is old and, obsolete. On the-contrary, having beenliiit-saered
up to the-Year 1796, it has gained*Strength by a long Piestription;


MR. PIT 6 [,1)
besides ithas; been recognised and confirmed at the end of every
war since that time, and particularly so in the definitive treaty
of 1783. It may be objected, however, and has indeed been
urged on this occasion, that England herself has violated this
treaty in the transaction of Pensacola and Florida; but this
argument depends upon an obvious fallacy. The agreement
with respect to the Spanish dominions in America and the
West-Indies was made between this country and Spain. Now,
although the two parties to the agreement may, by consent at
pleasure, modify their respectiye interests, it does not follow
that either party can, without the consent, and to the disad-
vantage of,

the other, introduce the interests of third parties.
Upon every view of' this subject, then, I ask if we have not a
fair and reasonable right to avail ourselves of the advantages
arising to us frounthe treaty, of Utrecht ?

Sir, I think, that from the great extent of the subject, it will

be unnecessary for me to trouble the House with any farther ob-
servation on that part of it ; but I must request the attention of
the House to the nature of the terms proposed with respect to
the meditated peace between this country and her allies; and first
,yr-0,,Fes.pect to Holland, a country which, although now hostile
:VI us, I cannot help considering as having, at the commencement
Of the present war, been concerned in alliance with us in car-
rying it on, and connected in our interest by every tie of internal
policy —a country which is now only opposed to us in tonse-
auence of the restraint imposed by the overhearing arms of
France. However, Sir, notwithstanding Holland was our ally,
and an ally, whose protection against the •common enemy was one
of the causes of our entering into the war; yet, as circumstances
have occurred, which have compelled Holland to become the
enemy of this country, I must, of necessity, treat her as such ;
I must consider her in the relation, in which she stands with
respect to France, though at the same time I cannot bring myself
to. forget she was formerly an ally, whose friendship was attended
with reciprocal advantages to herself and to this country. I am
satisfied, if it were possible to replace Holland in the situation


in which she formerly stood,- and restore' her legitimate govern.
merit, not nominally, but permanently and effectually, that such
a restoration would undoubtedly redound to the advantage of this
country. But as it is perhaps a question of too remote contin-
gency to consider the advantage which we should acquire by
the restoration of Holland to her former system, such an event,
either nominally or really, being extremely unlikely under the
present aspect of things,• Lshall therefore refrain from arguing
the point. Now, Sir, as to the conduct pursued on the part of
this country, with regard:to her connections with other powers,
and supposing. for the ?resent that Holland may for a time
remain subject to France; •I may be allowed to assert that the
terms proposed by this country, on behalf of her allies, were
such as could only be dictated by a principle of moderation, of
disinterestedness,. and earnest desire for peace. This country
having nothing to ask, for herself, was induced to surrender a
considerable part, nay, almost the whole of her acquisitions,
for the purpose of inducing the French to give up to our allies
that territory she has wrested from them.

The continental possessions which France had acquired from
Holland,•might perhaps be subjects of discussion in what manner
they were best to be ..arranged at once for the interest of Holland,
and of the allies. But these and the conquests made by this
country mnst• be considered, in the view of restitution, as
merely an addition to the French power. We ought to consider
that those possessions, with regard to which no relation was to
be admitted, Were to be retained, in order that they might not
become acquisitions to the French government. In refusing to
yield them up,. we only refuse to put into the hands of the enemy
the means of carrying into effect the deep-laid schemes of ambition

they have long cherished, and the plan they have conceived of
undermining our Indian empire, and destroying our Indian com-
merce, by ceding out of our own hands, what may be deemed
the bulwark of the wealth of this- country, and, the security of
the Indian empire. These, indeed, were refused, to be given up to
our enemies ; but every thing else which* valour and the arms

256 MR. PITT'S EDEc. 30,

of this country had acquired, which was valuable, was proposed
to be made matter of negotiation. This, Sir, was the nature of
the propositions made at the very first moment when the nego.
tiation was commenced : and I again submit to the final-decision
of the House, whether a proposition, including the restoration of
every thing valuable which we had acquired, except that which we
could not forego without manifest detriment to the most import-
ant interests of the country, was .not founded in liberality and
sincerity. Sir, I must beg leave to observe, that on this part of
the subject I have been the more anxious to be explicit, because
it is that part on which I lay the more particular stress, as tending
to prove to the House, that every thing was done at the com-
mencement, every thing distinctly stated, on which this country
was willing to enter upon a negotiation. I am the more desirous
of impressing the House with this part of my argument, because
I feel it material in order to enable them to form a determinate
precise idea of the character and prominent features of the nego-
tiation itself. In return to the statements of compensation pro-
posed by this country, the French government presented no
projet of their own, they afforded no room for discussion; because
they were actuated by motives very distant from conciliation.

This much I have thought it necessary to state, in vindication
of the character of myself and colleagues, that the House may be
enabled to see that. we never lost sight of the idea of a peace,
advantageous for our allies, safe for Europe, and honourable'to this.
country. With regard to any specific terms of peace, which it
might be proper to adopt or refuse, I do not think it would be
wise for the House to pronounce. This may still be considered
as a dormant negotiation, capable of being renewed; and it
would be impolitic to give a pledge to any specific terms to which
it might be impossible to adhere, and which can never be in-
curred without rashness. No man can be pledged to any parti-
cular terms, liecause in these he must be guided by a view of
collateral circumstances, and A comparative statement of re-
sources. AlIthat I wish parliament to pronounce is, that they
will add their testimony to the sincerity with which His Majesty



has endeavoured to restore peace to Europe, and their approba-
tion of the steps which were employed for its attainment. But
even after their rejection of every proposition that was advanced,
after all the difficulties they started, after all the cavils they
employed, after all the discouragements which they presented,
when, at last, the French government had been compelled to
open the discussion, the first thing that happens, after requiring
a note containing specific proposals, is a captious demand to have
it signed by Lord Malmesbury. This demand was complied with,
to deprive them of every pretence for breaking off the nego-
tiation, and immediately they call for an ultimatum in twenty-
four hours. The impossibility of complying with such a-demand
is obvious. Was it possible to reconcile discordances, to
smooth opposition, or pronounce good understanding in this
manner ? Does it come within the scope of the negotiation ? Is
an ultimatum, which means that demand which is to come the
nearest to the views of all parties, and to state the lowest terms
which could be offered, thus to be made out at random, without
knowing what the enemy would concede on their part, or what
they would accept on ours ? A proposal, drawn up in such a
manner, without explanation, without information, could have
no good effect. It is a demand contrary to all reason and to all
principle. With such a demand, therefore, it was impossible to
comply ; and in consequence of this, Lord Malmesbury received
orders to quit Paris in forty-eight hours, and the territories of
the republic as soon as possible.

Perhaps, however, I shall be told, that the negotiation is not
broken off, and that the French government have pointed Out a
new basis upon which they are still willing to proceed. There
are two things upon this subject not unworthy of consideration.
The time at which they propose this new basis, and what sort of
basis it is that they propose. After having approved and acted
upon the basis proposed by His Majesty's government ; after hav-
ing acknowledged, and, to all appearance, cordially acquiesced in
it, as the ground of negotiation ; after having demanded an ulti-
matum' at the very commencement of this negotiation, and be-


258 MR. PITT'S

[ D EC. 80.

fore any discussion had taken place, .to be delivered in to the
directory, in the space of twenty-four hours ; and after dis-
missing the ambassador of the King with every mark of igno-
miny and insult, they propose a new basis, by which the nego-
tiation is to be carried on by means of couriers. And what is the
reason they assign for this new basis ? Because Lord Malmes-
bury acted in a manner purely passive, and because he could
assent to nothing without dispatching couriers to obtain the sanc-
tion of his court. Here one cannot help remarking the studied
perverseness of the temper of the French government. When a
courier was dispatched to Paris, at the instance of the minister
of a neutral power, in order to get a passport from the French
government, it was denied. A courier could not even obtain a
passport, though the application was made to the executive direc-
tory through the medium of the Danish minister. The request
of the Danish minister was not enough : nothing could satisfy
them but a British minister. Well, a British minister was sent.
At the commencement of the negotiation he had occasion fre-
quently to send dispatches to his court, because it is very well
known that there are a great number of difficulties which
attend the opening of every negotiation, and because Lord
Malmesbury had been sent to Paris before the preliminaries,
which are usually settled by means of couriers, were arranged.
While these preliminaries were in a course of settling,, Lord
Malmesbury's presence was barely endured, and the frequent
dispatches of his couriers were subjects of animadversion ; but
no sooner were these preliminaries settled, and the British
minister delivered in a projet, when there was less necessity


for dispatching couriers, when the period for discussion was
arrived, when the personal presence of an ambassador was par-
ticularly necessary, and when the King's ministers announced
to the French government that he was prepared to enter into dis-
cussion upon the official memorials containing his projet, than
he was ordered to quit Paris, and leave the negotiation to be
carried on by means of couriers. Such is the precise form,
and it was impossible to devise a better, in which a studied


:insult, refined and matured by the French directory, was offered
to His Britannic Majesty.

I now come to state the broad plain ground on which the
question rests, as far as the terms, Upon which we are invited
to treat on this new basis, are concerned. After having started
a variety of captious objections at the opening of the negotiation,
after the preliminaries were with much difficulty adjusted, after
an ultimatum was demanded, almost befotte discussion had
commenced, after the King's minister was ordered, in the most
insulting manner, to leave the territories of France, after a
retraction by the• executive directory of the original basis of
negotiation, and the substitution of a new one in its place, they
demand, not as an ultimatum, but as a preliminary, to be per-
mitted to retain all those territories of which the chance of war
lias given them a temporary possession, and respecting which
they have thought proper, contrary to every principle of equity
and the received laws of nations; to pass a constitutional law,
declaring, as they interpret it, that they shall rot be alienated
from the republic. Now whether this be the principle of their
constitution or not, upon which I shall afterwards have occasion
to make some observations, it was at least naturally to be sup-
posed that the principle had been virtually set aside when the
former basis of negotiation it as recognised by the French direc-
tory ; for it must have been a strange admission of the principle
of reciprocal compensations indeed, if they . were obliged by
the rules of their constitution to retain all those conquests
which we were most bound in 'duty and in honour to insist
upon their giving up, (not by any mystery of a new constitu-
tion, which is little known, and"eien among those who know it of
doubtful interpretation, but by public and known engagements,)
and if they were under the same constitutional necessity, which
they certainly are, of demanding the restitution of those colo-
nies formerly in their possession, but which they have lost in
the' course of the war. NotWiihstanding, however, their dis-
avowal of this principle in the admission Of the former basis of
the negotiation, it is now alleged as a ground for the preten-

s 2

260 -

*ion, that they are entitled, as a matter of right, to demand from
'this country, not as an ultimatum, but as a preliminary to the
discussion of any articles of treaty, that we shall make no pro-
posals inconsistent with the laws and constitution of France.
I know of no law of nations which can in the remotest degree
countenance such a perverse and monstrous claim. The annex-
ation of territory to any state, by the government of that state,
during the continuance of the war in which they have been ac.
quired, can never confer a claim which supersedes the treaties
of their powers, and the known and.public obligations of the
different nations of Europe. It is impossible in the nature of
things, that the separate act of a separate government can
operate to the dissolution of the ties subsisting between other
governments, and to the abrogation of treaties previously con-
cluded; and yet this is the pretension to which the French
government lay claim, and the acknowledgment of which they
hold out, not as an ultimatum, but As a preliminary of negotiation,
to the King of Great Britain and his allies. In my opinion,
there is no principle of the law of nations clearer than this, that
when in the course of war any nation acquires new possessions,
such nation has only temporary right to them, and they do pot
become property till the end of the war. This principle is in-
controvertible, and founded upon the nature of things. For,
supposing possessions thus acquired to be immediately annexed
to the territory of the state by which the conquest was made,
and that the conqueror was to insist upon retaining them, be-
cause he had passed a law that they should not be alienated,
might not the neighbouring powers, or even the hostile power,
ask — Who gave you a right to pass this law ? What have we to
do with the regulations of your municipal law ? Or, what
authority have you, as a separate state, by any annexation of
territory to your dominions, to cancel existing treaties, and to
destroy the equilibrium established among nations ? Were this
pretension to be tolerated, it would be a source of eternal hos-
tility, and a perpetual bar to negotiation between the contending


parties ; because the pretensions of the one would be totally
irreconcilable with those of the other.

This pretension in the instance of France has been as incon-
sistent in its operations as it was unfounded in its origin. The
possessions which they have lost in the West-Indies in the
course of the war, they made independent republics ; and what
is still more singular, Tobago, which they have lost in the war,.
and which is retained by British arms, is a part of 'indivisible
France. I should not be surprised to hear that Ireland, in con-
sequence of the rumour which has been circulated of their in-
tention to attempt an invasion upon that country, is constitution-
ally annexed to the territories of the republic, or even that the
city of Westminster is a part of indivisible France. There is a
distinction, no doubt, between the Netherlands and the West-
India islands, but it whimsically happens that this principle of
law, that this constitutional pretension, is least applicable to
those possessions upon which it is held out as operating by the
French government, and that the Austrian Netherlands, even
by the letter of their own constitution, ought to'be exempted
from its operation. I own I am little qualified to read a lecture
upon the French constitution, and perhaps I shall be accused,
in my interpretation of it, of pretending to understand it
better than they do themselves. Here I must remind my
accusers, however, that even M. Delacroix, that great master
of the law of nations, allows that, on this point, the constitution
is not perfectly clear, and gives that particular interpretation
of it upon the authority of the best publicists, I again repeat
it — that, in discussing the terms of a treaty with France, I
am not obliged to know either her constitution or her laws,
because it was unreasonable for her to advance a pretension
upon a foundation inconsistent with the received law of nations
and the established nature of things. But it will demonstrate
their insincerity and the shallowness of the subterfuges to
which they have been obliged to have recourse, if I can spew
that no such law is in existence, and that their constitution
leaves the government entirely at liberty to dispose of the pos-


26'2 MR. PITT'S [DEC. 30.

sessions which they have acquired in war, in any way they
may think proper. 1 have looked through this voluminous code
[holding a copy of the constitution in his band], and I think it
may be considered as an instance that a constitution upon paper,
digesting and regulating the conduct of municipal jurisprudence
as well as of foreign relations, does not lead to the best appli-
cation of the true principles of political economy. In the
copy of their constitution all I find upon the subject is a de-
claration that France is one and indivisible, which is followed
by a long list of departments. And here I would recommend
it to gentlemen to read the report upon which this decree was
founded, in which they will find that it was passed for the avowed
purpose of obtaining for France an indisputable ascendant in
Europe, and of suppressing the trade and commerce of rival
nations. Overlooking, however, the principle of the decree,
if it was found inapplicable to the possessions of the French in
the East and West Indies, which they had previous to the
war, it was certainly much more inapplicable to the Austrian
Netherlands, of which they have got possession in the course
of the war ; and, therefore, the government, in holding out
the principle as operating upon the latter, and not to the for-
mer, apply it to that part of their territory to which

c it is least
• If we look at the provisions under the next title, respecting

relations williforeign powers, the argument against the existence

of;.;ny such principle in their constitution is confirmed : for we
find the executive government is there vested with the full power
of treAtig,. but all their treaties must be ratified by the legisla-

.._ .

tive bodies, with the singular exception of secret articles, which
it in the power of the directory to put in execution without

ratified, a proof that they are authorised by the constitu-
tion to alienate territories belonging to the republic. Allowing,
however, that it is , a principle of their constitution, is it an evil
without a remedy ? No. N. Delacroix confesses that it may
b.e remedied) - h. 1-1,t not without the inconvenience of calling the
primary assemplies. And are we then, after all the exertions


that we have made in order to effect the object of general pacifi-
cation, and after being baffled in all our efforts by the stubborn
pride and persevering obstinacy of the French government, after
our propositions have been slighted, and our ambassador insult-
ed, are we now to consent to sacrifice our engagements, and to
violate our treaties, because, forsooth, it would be attended
with some inconvenience for them to call their primary aSsem,
blies, in order to cancel a law which is incompatible with the
principle of fair negotiation? Shall we forget our own honour,
our own dignity, and our own duty, so far, as to acquiesce in
a principle as a preliminary to negotiation, intolerable in its ten-
dency, unfounded in fact, inconsistent with the nature of things,
and inadmissible by the law of nations ?

But this is not all the sacrifice they demand. This is-not all
the degradation to which they would have us submit. You must
also engage, and as a preliminary too, to make no propositions
which are contrary to the laws of the constitution, and the
treaties which bind the republic. Here they introduce a new
and extraordinary clause, imposing a restriction still More absurd
and unreasonable than the other. The republic of France may
have made secret treaties which we know nothing about, and.
yet that government expects that we are not to permit our pro-
positions to interfere with these treaties. In the former instance
we had a text upon which to comment, but here we are in
the state of those diviners who were left to guess at the dreams
which they were called upon to interpret. How is it possible
for this c'iuntry to know what secret articles there may be in
the treaty between France and Holland ? How can we know
what the Dutch may have ceded to France, or whether France
may not have an oath in heaven never to give up the territories
ceded to her by Holland ? Who can know but her treaty
Spain contains some secret. article guaranteeing to the latter the
restitution of Gibraltar, or some important possession now be-
longing to His Majesty ? And how can I know whether the
performance of all these engagements may not be included under
the pretension which the French government now holds out?



261 MR. PITT'S
[DEC. 30.

How is it possible for me to sound where no line can fathom ?
And even after you have acceded to these preliminaries, in what
situation do you stand ? After accepting of terms of which you
are entirely ignorant, and giving up all that it is of importance
for you to keep, you at last arrive at a discussion of the go-
vernment which France may choose to give to Italy, and of
the fate which she may be pleased to assign to Germany. In
fact, the question is not, how much you will give for peace,
but how much disgrace you will suffer at the outset, how much
degradation'you will submit to as a preliminary ? In these cir-
cumstances, then, arc we to persevere in the war with a spirit
and energy worthy of the British name and of the British cha-
racter ? Or are we, by sending couriers to Paris, to prostrate
ourselves at the feet of a subborn and supercilious govern-
ment, to do what they require, and to submit to whatever they
may impose ? I hope there is not a hand in His Majesty's coun-
cils that would sign the proposals, that there is not a heart in
this House that would sanction the measure, and that there is
not an individual in the British dominions who would act as the

Mr. Pitt concluded with moving,
" That an humble address be presented to His Majesty, to

assure His Majesty, that that House also felt the utmost concern
that His Majesty's earnest endeavours to effect the restoration of
peace had been unhappily frustrated, and that the negotiation,
in which he had been happily engaged, had been abruptly broken
off by the peremptory refusal of the French government to treat,
except upon a basis evidently inadmissible, and by their having,
in consequence, required His Majesty's plenipotentiary to quit
Paris within forty-eight hours.

" To thank His Majesty for having directed the several me-
morials and papers which had been exchanged in the course of
the late discussion, and the account transmitted to His Majesty
of its final result, to be laid before the House.

That they were perfectly satisfied, from the perusal of these
papers, that His Majesty's conduct had been guided by a sincere


desire to effect the restoration of peace, on principles suited to
the relative situation of the belligerent powers, and essential for
the permanent interests of His Majesty's kingdoms, and the
general security of Europe : whilst his enemies had advanced
pretensions at once inconsistent with those objects, unsupported
even on the grounds on which they were professed to rest, and
repugnant both to the system established by repeated treaties ;
and to the principles and practice which had hitherto regulated
the intercourse of independent nations.

" To assure His Majesty, that, under the protection of Pro-
vidence, he might place the fullest reliance on the wisdom and
firmness of his parliament, on the tried valour of his forces by
sea and land, and on the zeal, public spirit, and resources of
his kingdoms, for vigorous and effectual support in the pro
secution of a contest, which it did not depend on His Majesty
to terminate, and which involved in it the security and permanent
interests of this country and of Europe."

The House divided on an amendment moved by Mr. Fox, censuring
the conduct of ministers in the negotiation:

For the amendment 37
Against it "12

The address was then agreed to.

March 13. 1797.

ON a motion by Mr, Harrison, " That the extent of the supplies voted
to government, since the commencement of the present war, having
caused so heavy an increase of taxes, it is the duty of this House to
enquire whether some relief to the burdens of the people, or provision
for further expense, may not be obtained by the reduction of useless
places, sinecure offices, exorbitant fees, .and other modes of retrench..
ment in the expenditure of the public money."

Mr. PITT spoke to the following effect :

266 MR. PITT'S

Sir — Though the honourable mover, and the noble lord who
seconded the motion, have thought proper to enter into con-
siderations, which, so far from exactly applying to the subject
before the House, go a very great extent beyond it, it is not my
intention to enter minutely into objects so completely uncon-
nected with the present motion, and which we may have many
opportunities of discussing. It seems- to me unnecessary to trou-
ble the House with any allusions either to the origin, or conduct
of the present -

war ; or to take a review, or enter into a justifi-
nation of the great and various questions which have been fre-
quently agitated here. The noble lord has in his speech thought
fit to condemn the measures adopted by the last parliament, for
the preservation of the internal tranquillity of the kingdom, and
the security of the state. But, Sir, the precautionary measures
to which he has adverted were not, as he has been pleased to de-
clare, retrenchments of the constitution, but essential safeguards
against lawless attacks levelled at the British constitution by a
faction, which, though small, was acting with the common
enemy, and was openly proceeding not on British, but on
French principles. The safety of the state at that time depended
on the wise and just precautions which it was found necessary to
take ; and though I feel that any review of these transactions is
foreign to the question on which we are called to decide ; yet I
trust I may be allowed to notice the manner in which the noble
lord has referred to those measures which were calculated to
oppose any check to the progress of French principles. He has,
Sir, taken great pains to reprobate the proceedings of parliament
on that momentous occasion, and the speech which he has deli-
vered in support of his honourable friend's motion relates so little
to the subject of it, that it appears to have been prepared for an-
other purpose, of which notice has been already given. [Mr. Pitt
alluded to Mr. Fox's notice of moving for the repeal of the treason
and sedition bills.] But as these measures have been fully dis-
cussed and resolved by parliament, I cannot, until this House

Lord William Russel.


feels convinced of their error, suppose that they have agreed to
improper proceedings. While their resolutions on those subjects
stand 'On record, I am authorised in assuming, that they have
acted on principles of public order against principles of anarchy
and confusion ; that they have supported the cause of true liberty
against the ravages of licentiousness ; that they have protected
religion and morality against the desperate attempts of destruc-
tive innovation, and that they have preserved our constitution
inviolate from the bold and daring attacks of a faction acting in
concert with the common enemy of freedom, and of public and
private happiness. So far, Sir, I conceive I have an undisputed
right to argue on the solemn decision of this House. With
respect to the manner in which the honourable gentleman has
opened his motion, 1 am led to observe, that he has not entered
into any specific grounds to support it. He has confined himself

-to very general statements, and he seems to have reserved him-
self for a particular detail on some other opportunity.

The honourable gentleman appears, from the words of his
motion, to have two different objects in view. The first relates
to making retrenchments, and correcting profusion in the
established offices of government, and in sinecure places and
pensions. The second has for its object an enquiry into the
state of the national expenditure, and proposes a check on the
expenses of the state. This, it is needless for me to urge, is
comprehended in a resolution which has already passed this
house, to enquire into the finances of' the country, and to con-
sider of the .Host practicable means for obtaining a diminution of

public expenditure. The honourable gentleman means to
include ude in the investigation whichhe proposes, subjects of the
most extensive and complicated nature. He wishes to embrace
all the ordinary and extraordinary exnenses of the different
branches of government. H end .dairy into the dis-


bursemcnts. of the army, navy, and every public establishment.
I am ready to admit, teat as tar as this proposition goes, it forms

a. subject worthy the consideration of the House ; and the:mag-nl. •,,,,
nitride of it amears to be such f that no man can say what will

268 MR. PITT'S [MARCH 13*
be the effect of it, or to what particular measures it may lead.
Yet, Sir, the honourable gentleman, bringing before the House
considerations of such extensive views, and of such high im-
portance, adopts a very singular mode of proceeding. He does
not think proper to offer matters so momentous and compli-
cated in their relations in a direct manner to parliamentary dis-
cussion, but states them as the objects of a collateral enquiry,
and introduces them immediately after his motion for retrench-
ment in the offices of government. :But certainly the honourable
gentleman will not deny that there is an extreme difference be-
tween both objects; for the check which he proposes on the public
expenses very much exceeds in importance that reform which
he wishes should take place in the establishment and salaries of
public offices. The distinction between these two objects being
so evident, as the latter does not form any part whatever of
the proposition formerly submitted to the House by the ho-
nourable gentleman, nor of the notice which he gave of his
motion of this night, I must consider the manner of introducing
it not only irregular, but inadequate to the magnitude of the
enquiry which he proposes to establish. I also think it neces-
sary to remind gentlemen, that the objects which it compre-
hend, form the grounds of my motion for the appointment of
the committee which has been this night chosen by ballot. I
stated in general terms, previous to my bringing forward that
motion, the various points to which the attention of the 'Com-
mittee was to be directed ; but 1 could not, until I had appointed
that committee, proceed to offer, in a specific manner, each of
these points. I therefore only stated, that it was my wish and
desire to move, as an'instruction to the committee, that after
enquiring into, and ascertaining the whole state of the finances
of the country ; after reviewing the whole amount of the debt
which had been incurred during the war ; after investigating
the provision which had been made to meet it ; after consider-
ing the probable amount of the total expense of public service
for the whole of the year 1797, and the sums now applicable
for defraying it ; — I say, Sir, after taking these steps, it was also


my intention to move that further instruction should be given
to the committee to exercise a full power in forming and di-
gesting a plan for controlling the public expenditure, and to
enquire into, and report upon, the best and most practicable means
for obtaining a diminution thereof. I therefore, Sir, am not a
little surprised, after stating these measures in general terms—
measures which I contend have been sanctioned by the unani-
mous concurrence of the House, in consequence of the ap-
pointment of the committee for the professed and acknowledged
consideration of those very objects, that the honourable gentle-
man should now bring forward a motion to the same end, and
without any previous notice whatever. The instruction for the
committee, the nature of which I had thus before stated in
general terms, I held in my hand ready to move, when the
honourable gentleman brought forward his motion ; for I cer-
tainly did not think any new proposition on the same subject
could be urged, after an express declaration of my desire that
the most speedy and effectual measures should be taken, which
went to retrench the great and heavy expenses of war, and were
of infinitely superior magnitude to any diminution that might
be expected in the salaries of the public offices.

Without entering at this moment into a particular. discussion,
whether there exist any specific grounds to authorise the House
to proceed to a reduction of useless offices, or to a retrenchment
of profuse salaries, I can only say, that it is not my wish to
oppose an enquiry to that effect. But I feel I shall not do my
duty to the House and the public, if I were to agree to any
other examination than that which I have proposed, and
which, has received the concurrence of the House. The ho-
nourable gentleman has, however, neglected many important,
and, indeed, necessary considerations in suggesting his motion.
He seems, in the first place, to have been unmindful that the
limits of the proposed reduction should be expressly declared.
He next forgets, that the steps which have been already taken
to effect the same end, should be submitted to the consideration
of parliament, as a guide to direct their measures ;• and above

NI R. PI TT '8 [MA R.C11 13.

all, that no ill-founded hope may be raised without fully look-
ing into the subject on which the decision is to be formed. If
it can appear that retrenchment, both in the number and ex-
pense of public offices, is calculated to promote the public ser-
vice, I am convinced there is no man in this House that will
oppose it. But the question now before us is, what arc the
Specific grounds on which the honourable gentleman brings for-
ward his motion ? It is incumbent on him to point out, in a
decisive manner, abuses which are said to exist in the pet

-formance of duties, or in payments for services which are not
done for the public. I know, Sir, how very easy it is to give
credit out of doors to the reports of abuses in sinecure places
and pensions ; but I really believe it is a subject as much mis-
taken as any other of a public nature. I therefore think, in
whatever way the enquiry may terminate, that it will not be
of much utility. If it can be shewn that there are strong
grounds for correcting abuses, much may be gained for the

public good; but if, on the contrary, it shall appear that there
are no specific grounds to warrant a strong measure of that kind,
and that the idea of the prevalence of abuses in the offices of the
state is erroneous, much also is gained by removing an opi-
nion, which might otherwise diminish the national confidence.
Offices of very different descriptions come within the honourable
gentleman's motion; the first which present themselves to
notice are absolutely necessary, and in respect to them the
enquiry fairly stated is, whether or no the number of. offices
More than the different duties of them require ; and secondly,
whether the reward for the exercise of the various talents and
industry necessary for the due execution of them is too great ?
It might also form a most important consideration, whether
the same talents, the same diligence, and perseverance, at pre-
sent employed in the performance of the duties annexed to these
offices, 'Might not be rewarded in an equal or superior manner,
were they applied to and exerted in the ordinary pursuits
life? I have, Sir, no hesitation in saying, that it is an unjust
idea to imagine that 'the abilities and labour devoted to the


service of the public should not be paid as well, and to the full
as liberally by the public, as those which are applied in private
life to the interest of individuals, and which are rewarded by
individual compensation. Next to the offices which I have
noticed, and which must be viewed in a necessary light, I come
to those which relate to state duties. Many of them are
attended with considerable expense for the , maintenance of the
relative duty they should hold to the high ranks in life of those,
near whom they are placed. If we look into the various offices
connected with the army, the navy, and the revenue, we shall find
that the wages they receive are not higher than those they
might earn by an equal exertion in private life, from indivi-
duals ; and, therefore, Sir, the real state of the question
appears to be, whether they are paid in a larger way by the
public, than they would be by particular persons, for the per-
formance of equal services. I only state this, that gentlemen
may turn it in their minds, and not be induced to take up the
matter in a general view. There are unquestionably offices of
another description — of less business and with fewer duties
attached to them ; but I think it necessary to observe, that they
arise out of our ancient manners, and are, in fact, the remnants
of termer times, attached to the splendour of Majesty, and
attendant on the dignity of monarchy. I am not inclined to say
what should be the exact sum for duties of this kind. I only
maintain, that such offices have ever existed ; and such has
been the custom of all countries which have been governed by
monarchs. This custom has been interwoven in our constitu-
tion, and forms an appendage to our mixed government; not
for the display of idle parade ; not for the loose gratification of
idle vanity, but sanctioned by the authority of our ancestors,
and continued for the dignified consistency of appearance in the
king of a great and free people. Having noticed this branch
of public duties, I shall only observe, that though not included
in the first class, they should notwithstanding be considered as
connected with your constitution of mixed .monarchy. Another
description of offices is of a more invidious nature than any I


272 MR. PITT'S [MAncit 13,
have yet mentioned. I allude to sinecure places, which, not-

withstanding the ridicule and severity with which they
commented on by some gentlemen, are capable of being looked
at with the eye of reason. I shall, Sir, shortly state the prin..
eiples. on which they stand. They stand on the invariable
custom of this country ; they are recognised by the solemn
decisions of parliament. It will not, I trust, be denied, that the
fair principle of honourable remuneration has ever been held a
sacred consideration. It will not, I hope, be contested, that a
provision and retreat for a life devoted to the public service, has
ever been deemed a just and irresistible motive for conferring
permanent rewards.

The question then presents itself, whether, at the instant
when one common sweep is designed, to remove all offices in
which actual duty is not performed, remuneration for actions
done in the service of the state is a wise, a just, and an useful
principle ? Another enquiry will naturally arise, and that is,
whether the mode in which they are distributed is more liable
to abuse than any other ? In the consideration of this question,
I will not confidently maintain that the first principle of remu-
neration may not sometimes be misapplied, as it frequently
depends on chance, discretion, and various causes, which it is
unnecessary for me to enumerate. It may also be objected, that
it cannot be ascertained by a precise rule how to reward precise
merit. BWthen, Sir, I say, can any other method more effica-
cious, more independent of abuses, and less liable to errors,
be adopted? Can any other mode be pointed out in which
chance and discretion are to be completely laid aside ? Sup-
pose, Sir, for a moment, that even an application to parliament
should be made the constitutional way of bestowing this kind of
rewards ; can it be imagined that such a proceeding would pro-
duce less complaint and murmurs than the present way in which
they are conferred? I beg, therefore, gentlemen will not
conclude, because there may be some offices connected with
government which it may be wise to reform, that all are indis-
criminately to be wiped away. I should imagine, that a correct

and particular statement ought to be made of useless offices, and ,
excessive salaries ; that specific objections should be precisely
stated, and thus, by pursuing an authentic detail, the House
might be enabled to entertain a probability of the saving which
could be made for the country. But, Sir, if without resorting
to any of these indispensable measures, if without establishing a
proper clue, which in the course of enquiry would lead to a
just conclusion, you were to precipitate this business, I must
contend, that instead of striving to meet the popular opinion,
instead of serving the essential interests of the nation, you
would, on the contrary, act in opposition to both, and even
excite general discontent. In such a case, the House would not
do justice to themselves, nor to their constituents. This is not,
however, the first time that von have been called on to interfere in
similar considerations. The honourable gentleman brought
forward, in the last parliament, a resolution of the same nature
which he has this night proposed ; and the event of it is fresh in
every person's recollection. In a former parliament, a plan,
which contained a particular detail, which furnished a full
statement of the grounds of the application, Ind which went
to a general economical reform, was brought forward by a
right honourable gentleman who is no longer a member of
this House ; yet parliament, at that period, and in an hour
of confessed necessity, with every possible authority before
them, with every document which ,a well-digested and a judi-
ciously executed plan could furnish, with the report of the
commissioners invested with powers to examine into the various
branches comprehended in the proposed reform — I say, Sir,
parliament, with all these authorities before them, which the
most exalted talents, or the most minute investigation, could
supply, proceeded in a very cautious and limited manner. T14‘ly
abolished some offices, and reduced the value of others ; but
they did not allow themselves to extend their reform beyond a
prudential and constitutional line of conduct ; and what cannot

4v-i.Mr. Burke.

274 MR. PITT'S [MARCH is,

be too closely attended to, they effected no change nor modi-
fication whatever, without the aid of incontrovertible evidence,
and the assistance of positive fact. They wisely lopped off•

-whatever was proved to be superfluous, and they made educ.
tions to the amount of many thousand pounds. To them were
added savings by the commissioners of His Majesty's treasury,
which were confirmed by the vote of parliament. But when
they came to investigate the offices held under the exchequer.,
and proceeded to take into their consideration the nature of the
tenure by•which sinecure places were held, they did not think
fit entirely to lop them off. The tellers of the exchequer, and
several other Offices, were retained and recognised by the reso-
lution of parliament as necessary to be continued. Such was
the. opinion of the right honourable gentleman who proposed
the reform, and such were the sentiments even of some gentle-
men whom I now see over against me. A considerable reduc-
tion was then also effected in different offices of the customs,
while some were entirely dropped ; and, with respect to subor-
dinate .employments, large additional savings were made. I
have now to observe, that in all these retrenchments, the
House proceeded on the general and acknowledged principle. of
remuneration for public services which I have already stated ;
and of such weight was that principle, that even Mr. Burke
himself, though animated with the most enthusiastic zeal to
carry his plan into execution, was on every occasion -ready to
recognise not only the wisdom, but the necessity of adopting
it. I maintain, Sir, that sinecure offices arc given in the nature
of a freehold tenure. Parliament has expressly said, they will
respect them as freehold property : and if, in answer to this
solemn declaration, it is urged, that parliament may rescind
their former resolutions, I say they may, by a parity of reason-
ing, destroy every kind of property in the country. But- to
dwell any longer on this kind of argument would be too absurd
to merit attention; and I have only to observe, that we ought
not to lose sight, even for an instant, of those grand principles


which lead to, and are inseparable from, the administration of
public justice. I repeat, Sir, it is my sincere and earnest wish
that the House should ascertain the particular offices which
may be paid beyond the duties annexed to them, and beyond
the trust and responsibility which attach to them. But until
that great and necessary measure takes place, you cannot pro-
ceed to retrench or to lop off.

I must once more entreat the attention of the House to the
nature of the honourable gentleman's motion, and to the time
in which it is proposed. The tendency of it is completely in-
cluded in the instruction of which I have already given a
general statement, and which I have given notice I should move
for the direction of the committee, and it is brought forward
at the very moment when a general investigation is set on
foot with respect to the whole finance of the country, and with
a view of ascertaining a plan for controlling the public expen-
diture. If therefore, Sir, it should be the opinion of the House
to refer to the committee the subject of the honourable gentle-
man's motion, as part of the general enquiry with which it was
intended they should be intrusted, it would be au easy matter,
if the words of the instruction were thought too general, to
introduce particular terms that might peculiarly specify it.

On these grounds I oppose the motion, convinced as I am
that were I to agree to it, the public could derive no benefit
from it, and that I myself should become a party in the disap-
pointment, and in the delusion of the people: I therefore move
the previous question.

The previous question was carried,

Ayes 1G9
Noes, 77.

T 2

276 MR. PITT'S [MARCH 23.

March 28. 1797.

Mr. Fox, in pursuance of a previous notice, this day submitted to the
House the following resolution :

" That an humble address be presented to His Majesty, that His
Majesty will be graciously pleased to take into His royal consideration
the disturbed state of His kingdom of Ireland, and to adopt such
healing and lenient measures as may appear to his Majesty's wisdom
best calculated to restore tranquillity, and to conciliate the affections of
all descriptions of His Majesty's subjects in that kingdom to His Majes-
ty's person and government."

The motion being seconded by Sir Francis Burdett, Mr. PITT rose :

Sir — However generally the terms of the motion of the right
honourable gentleman are couched, for an address to His Majes-
ty, it is utterly impossible for any man to form his judgment on
the merits of it, unless by proceeding to separate it from the
various and collateral topics which he has thought proper to
introduce, and without which the proposed address would, in
reality, be indistinct and unnecessary. He has, in the early part
of his speech, developed a subject to which I most seriously desire
to call the attention of the House. The right honourable gen-
tleman, who has made a speech on the whole system of the
Irish legislature, who has argued at large upon the principles and
frame of it, who has considered in a very ample marmot; its apti-
tude to make laws, and who has gone at length into the disposi-
tion of the people, with respect to the practical effect of these
laws, began by reminding us, when he stated to the House the
discontents now existing in Ireland, that it was necessary to have
recourse to that period Allen we recognised and fully established
the complete independence of the Irish legislature, as it might be
known whether we gave that independence as a boon or a right
— whether that measure was a concession to Ireland. There is
one certain point in which we must all coincide by having recourse
to that period, and the truth of which the right honourable
gentleman himself cannot controvert — that whether the esta-
blishment of the independence of Ireland was a concession or a


recognition on our part, it was putting Ireland in the absolute
possession of independence in point of fact. He had himself,
on former occasions, fully admitted and acknowledged that im-
portant truth, and to oppose it would tend to shake the autho-
rity of the parliament of Great Britain.

But, Sir, 1 beg leave to ask in what parliament of Ireland
was it that he recognised the independence of the legislature of
that country, and the necessity of which lie then urged with so
much force ? Was it one formed on a more extensive frame.
than that which now exists ? Did it include more persons at-
tached to the Roman catholic interest of Ireland than it does
now, or was it more calculated to give satisfaction at a time when
concessions were not made in their favour, than now when such
measures have actually taken place ? Yet that very parliament,
which existed at the period to which the right honourable gentle-
man has thought proper to have recourse, was conceived to be
the national source of the most valuable blessings to Ireland.
Surely he did not mean to say that, when he himself pressed for-
ward in establishing the independence of Ireland, he was then
only putting the people of that country in possession of a delu-
sion, and that the legislature was incapable of conveying to the
inhabitants of the country the enjoyment of practical liberty.
The right honourable gentleman will not therefore now maintain,
that in the year 1782, he considered the parliament of Ireland so
extremely defective in its frame and principles, that the nation
could receive no essential benefit from the line of conduct then
pursued by it ; and if he will not say that, (and I am perfectly
convinced he cannot say what would necessarily expose him to
the charge of the most glaring inconsistency,) I am naturally led
to enquire upon what ground it now happens, that we are to come
this day to vote an address for an alteration in the frame of that
parliament, the superintendance of which we have entirely put
out of our control by the recommendation of the right honour-
able gentleman, and the independence of which we have un-
equivocally acknowledged ? By what means will he make it
appear, that, having renounced all power over the legislature of

T 3




Ireland, having formally abdicated the privilege which might
have once existed, of enforcing any internal regulation in that
country, having solemnly divested ourselves of all right, of
whatever nature that right may have been, to make laws in any
respect for Ireland ; I say, Sir, by what particular means will be
undertake to make it appear that it now remains for us to declare,
what laws shall affect that country, and to dictate the precise
modifications which he proposes to take place in the fixed prin-
ciples of the legislature itself? In the year 1782, having given to
Ireland a distinct and independent legislature, having, with every
solid testimony of good faith, laid aside all pretensions td inter-
ference in the internal concerns of the nation, can any person
now point out a subject to which Ireland should look with such
well founded jealousy, as the subject presented to the consider-
ation of the House by the right honourable gentleman's motion ?
I am ready to admit that the address, proposed as it is, does
not exactly say so ; but, Sir, it conveys too much by implication,
not to call for the attention of the House in a serious manner.
Let us for a moment compare it with the speech of the mover,
and if we proceed upon that just and reasonable ground, to
which the right honourable gentleman himself can have no ob-
jection, as his speech forms the ground-work of his motion, it
will in that case be found to convey what ought not to be stated
in general terms, but expressed clearly and fairly.

The motion submitted to the House is, Sir, if I recollect right,
for an address to His Majesty, that he will be pleased to take into
his gracious consideration the present disturbed state of Ireland,
and to adopt such healing and lenient Measures as may restore
it to tranquillity. But what can be the effect of such an address ?
Will it be maintained that the situation of Ireland has not been

. .the frequent subject of His Majesty's thoughts ? Can it with the
shadow of propriety be urged, that the royal mind has been at
any time exempt from those considerations which may best pro-
mote the happiness of his people ? What then can be the object
of the address ? It proposes to His Majesty the propriety of

measuresadopting eas res for the restoration of the tranquillity of his


subjects of Ireland. But such, Sir, must be His Majesty's dis-
position : and to what- purpose will our advice tend? No man
can presume to say, that such is not the firm desire, as it most
undoubtedly is the interest, of the executive government.
During what part of His Majesty's reign has there appeared:
any mark of neglect to the interests of the people of Ireland?.
On the contrary, Sir, the most solid testimonies have been given.
of the sincerity of his intentions to promote the happiness of that
country, not by promises, not by declarations, but by deeds and
acts which have been received with grateful satisfaction by the
whole nation. The most minute attention has been paid to the
commerce, to the agriculture, to the manufactures of the
country ; and what was at the time considered as the most
valuable measure, the independence of the legislature was re-
cognised beyond a possibility of doubt. The whole has been
one continued succession of concessions, and to such an extent,
that during the present reign, they have exceeded all the pre-
ceding ones.put together since the revolution.

But, Sir, if further concessions arc demanded, if the object
of the address consists in soliciting these concessions, I must
contend, that while it does not precisely point out the particular
measures, which are to be adopted, it is, in the general state in
which it now stands, nugatory-and superfluous. If, on the other
hand, the address is compared with the right honourable gen-
tleman's speech, which indeed must be viewed as the chief
ground of the motion, I maintain that it would be absurd and
impossible to express propositions any way conformable to the
sentiments delivered in the course of that speech. In the first
place, let us consider them politically. If they mean that the
lord lieutenant. of Ireland is accountable for any misconduct
during his administration of public affairs there, as the servant
of the crown, and it shall be urged that the control of abuses
of that kind remains with this country, I answer to that—granted.
If in another point of view they go, as was in 'a certain degree,
conveyed by the honourable baronet who seconded the motion,
to arraign His Majesty's ministers for gross errors and crimes

T 4

280 MR. PITT'S rmA twit 23,

committed in -the government of Ireland, and to bring them to
trial, I again answer— granted. But if they are calculated to
express and recommend measures which are not within thc,..
province of the executive government of Ireland, it is but fair
and also necessary to ask, are these measures so recommended
to be carried into execution by His Majesty, who is only a part
of the legislative authority of Ireland, and what must seem still
more extraordinary, are they to be so adopted by the desire of
the parliament of Great Britain ? I beg leave to demand, whether
His Majesty is not bound to act in what concerns the internal
regulation of Ireland, in consequence of the advice of the legis-
lature of that country ? Our assenting to the address would
therefore be highly unconstitutional with respect to Ireland,
and we could not for a moment entertain such an idea, without
being guilty of an unjustifiable interference in the duties of the
legislative and executive government of that. nation. Such, Sir,
is the real ground on which I oppose the address.

There certainly have been many other collateral topics brought
forward, with which the right honourable gentleman has judged
it proper to embellish his speech, but which do not apply to the
question, and the discussion of which may do much mischief,
without producing one single advantage. I will not, therefore,
enter into a review of all the various statements and arguments
that have been used, nor will I declare whether the right
honourable gentleman's assertions are right or wrong; bat I will
leave it to the justice and to the candour of the House to decide,
whether any one point he has this night proposed, can be carried
into effect, by any other means than by the voice of the Irish
legislature ? I must also observe, that he has, in the course of
his speech, gone into a long historical narrative, and has at-
tempted to skew, that the Irish legislature is so framed as not to
be adequate to perform its functions for the practical happiness of
the people ; that the principles on which it acts are radically de-
fective, and that while it remains in its present state, the nation,
or at least the majority of the nation, cannot enjoy the essential
blessings of a free constitution. In answer to this, Sir, I must


beg leave to direct the attention of the House to the great and
important consideration, that the parliament of this country has
completely recognised, and solemnly established the indepen-
dence of that of the kingdom of Ireland, which is as entirely
distinct and as incapable of being controlled by us, as we are
independent of them. Yet the right honourable gentleman pro-
poses an interference in the internal concerns of those who
now have as much right to dictate to us, as we can possibly have
to prescribe rules of conduct to them. Does it, Sir, become us
now to say, that they are not qualified to act for the good of the
people of Ireland, and that they are not entitled to the confidence
of their constituents ?— We who told the same people upwards
of fourteen years ago, that they were completely adequate to
promote the public happiness, that they were framed to secure
the prosperity of the country, and what cannot be too often
stated, that they were unchecked by any external control to de-
liberate and decide on the great business of legislation! If we
speak thus to that parliament, (and such must be our language,
if we give our assent to the address moved this night,) I confess,
Sir, it does appear to me the most extraordinary and singular '
line of conduct that can be adopted by one independent parlia-
ment against another independent parliament.

But allowing, for the mere sake of argument, that we are
authorised to dictate in the manner proposed by the honourable
gentleman, is it reasonable that we should proceed in the way
he has pointed out on the bare suggestions which he has stated to
the House ? Should we, supported by assertions alone, assume
the power, which by his motion he seems to.suppose we possess",
of watching over, and superintending the parliament of Ireland ?
With regard to what may be termed the practical part of the
right honourable gentleman's speech, though it is very far from
my wish to enter into a discussion of the various topics contained
in it, yet I only follow him to shew, that, by agreeing to his
proposition, however you disguise it by any specious name,
however you gloss it over by any artful expression, you do
nothing less than attempt directly to control the legitimate au-

EINIA a c 23.282 MR. PITT'Si.

thority of the parliament of another country, and to trespass on
the acknowledged rights of another distinct legislative power.
But, taking the honourable gentleman's arguments in a different.
point of view — assuming for a moment that he has made out his
ease in an incontrovertible manner, and that be has fully ill.oved
to our satisfaction that the parliament of Ireland was, in the year
1782, in every respect competent to perform its functions, and
is at this time directly the reverse, I wish to know what is the
practical conclusion he draws from my admission ; and in what
manner does he propose to remove the evil which I thus suppose
he has clearly made out ? What remedy, Sir, does he attempt
to point out ? Does he give us a single idea to guide us in the
execution of the task which he wishes to impose on us ? It is our.
duty to enquire what the principles are on which he invites us to
proceed; and what the precise limits are, within which the sub-
ject is to be confined. With respect to these questions —and I
trust every gentleman will readily allow them to be questions,
not only of great importance, but of absolute necessity, the right
honourable gentleman has left us entirely in the dark ; and he
appears so little impressed with the urgency of them, that he
has not even hinted at them in the whole course of his speech.

Having, Sir, noticed the first point to which the honourable
gentleman has called the attention of the House, I now come to
the other parts on which his observations have been made, relative
to the divided state and jarring interests of Ireland. HeVhas
first dwelt on the discontents of the Roman catholics ; and in
the next place he has described at some length the grievances of
the protestants of the northern parts. He has, in the redress
Which he proposes to Make to both sides, admitted, that con-
cessions ought ta be made to both parties ; and from the state-
/tents of the right honourable gentleman, who thus wishes to
fed-61101e apposite claims, I am confirmed in my opinion that he
of ly desires, and is eager to effect tin alteration in the frame of
the parliament of Ireland, as far as it May rise out of the pre-
tensions of the edthOlieS, and out of the demands of the inha-
bitants of the north. Atid'here, Sir; I feel myself called on to


notice the declaration made by the right honourable gentleman,
that he would not enter into the particulars of the respective
discontents of both parties, and yet he immediately after, not-
withstanding that declaration, laid before the House a minute
detail of circumstances on which I will not now dwell, thinking
as I do, that a discussion of that nature is more calculated to
inflame - the minds of many than to prove of any essential service.
When he came to mention the subject of religion, which has,
according to his statements, produced many of the present dis-
contents, he certainly did not seem very solicitous to preserve
the church establishment, and though he does not wish to address
the throne for the adoption of any particular line of conduct, it
is something singular that he should recommend a measure that
must affect a great mass of private property, and even injure the
church itself.

Not deeming it necessary to trouble the House any longer on
these particulars, and convinced as I am that neither we nor
the crown can interfere to effect that which exclusively belongs
to the parliament of Ireland, I shall make a few observations on
what has fallen from the right honourable gentleman with respect
to the rights of which the Roman catholics are possessed, and
also on the subject of those additional rights which it is his
desire they should yet obtain. He observes that the catholics
ought to have the general right of voting, of sitting in the legis-
lative assembly, and of filling the public offices. To this, Sir,
I answer, that they are in the actual possession of every other
right, but that they certainly do not possess the right of voting
for members of parliament, unless according to qualifications
prescribed by law. This I conceive to be the mere State in which
the catholics are placed. But, says the right honourable gentle-
man, enough has not been done to extend to them civil and reli-
gious liberties. Have not concessions of the' most liberal kind
been made to them since the revolution ; and, during the present

r.'64011 has not every possible pledge been given t6 thein of real

affection and sincere zeal for their best interests on- die part of
the crown? •But, Sir, it is curious to remark the detail which

MR. PITT;S [AI item 23.

the right honourable gentleman proposes, even admitting that
the present subject is a proper one for us to recommend to the
adoption of the executive government. In this detail there un-
questionably arises an inconsistency, which he will find it no
easy matter to do away. He first declares than he means to
satisfy the catholics, by conferring on them the

. power of voting
generally. But he immediately adds, that, by pursuing that mea-
sure, we shall not be able to give them any weight in point of
political liberty ; for, as he maintains that the elective franchise
is so managed in Ireland, that it is entirely in the power of cor-
porations to bestow or to withhold it, it would consequently be
impossible for them to gain any material benefit, or to obtain
any political influence, even if the law, which he himself wishes
to be passed in their favour, were to take place. It therefore
appears evident, that the •remedy proposed by the right honour-
able gentleman himself, must be inadequate to meet the evil
-which he so seriously laments. And it naturally follows, as I
have before had occasion to observe, that the great end of his
plan is to alter essentially the whole frame of the constitution of
the legislature of Ireland. In other words, Sir, the right honour-
able gentleman proposes an investigation and a scrutiny into
the pretensions of the catholics of the south, and of the Pro-
testants of' the north, for the express purpose of laying down
what he considers to be just principles ; and then the parliament
of Ireland must be new-modelled and revised, in consequence of
his previous enquiry. But is it reasonable to call on the par-
liament of England to do that very thing which must not only
be condemned by the parliament of Ireland, but is not entertained
in the opinion of even a considerable number of persons ? Yet,
Sir, this question, which calls into doubt the existence of the
whole constitution of Ireland, is to be brought forward on mere
surmise, and without the shadow of authority. I say, it does
not come within the constitutional right which we may possess,
of controlling the executive government. It certainly does not
come within the possibility of any right, which we can possess, of
interfering in considerations which exclusively belong to a legis-
lature totally separate front, and independent of us.


The other points which the right honourable gentleman has
referred to, are lost, if possible, in more obscurity than that
which I have just noticed. The various and clashing pretensions
of the different parties are so extremely opposite, that it would
be an arduous task to reconcile them. And if, in commending
certain political principles which are acknowledged by the
northerns, he has in his mind principles founded on the French
doctrine of the sovereignty of the people, and intimately con-
nected with those revolutionary tenets which have produced such
vast mischiefs throughout Europe, I maintain, Sir, that it would
be contrary to the duty of the parliament of Great Britain to
entertain the motion of the right honourable gentleman, sup-
ported as it is by the speech which he has this night delivered.
There are, Sir, none of his considerations on which we can
prudently or safely pronounce ; for there are none of them which
may not excite such a flame as we shall never have it in our
power to extinguish. They involve objects most delicate in their
nature, and dangerous in their consequences. They embrace
difficulties of a prodigious extent; and on which I shall not
dwell, as they have been sufficiently described in the speech of
the right honourable gentleman, so as to make us shudder with a
just apprehension of the fatal and dreadful effects that must
result from them. I must, therefore, Sir, consider the address
proposed as a blind injunction, without any specific extent or
means of execution. On this short ground I oppose the motion ;
and, with the conviction of the dangers that must arise from the
adoption of it, with the solemn recognition of the independence
of the parliament of Ireland, with a just sense of our duty that
others may not in their turn he wanting to us, I cannot enter-
tain a doubt but that the motion will be rejected by a consider-
able majority of the House.

The motion was rejected;
Ayes 84
Noes 02o

286 MR. PITT'S [APRIL 1.

April 4. 1797.
Ma. SHERIDAN, conformably to the notice he had given on a former

day, called the attention of the House to the subject of making further
advances to the Emperor of Germany; concluding his observations with
moving the following resolution : " That the Hcluse will resolve itself
into a Committee of the whole House, to enquire whether it is con.
sistent with a due regard to the essential interests of this country, that
under the present circumstances, anz further loans or advances should
be made to his Imperial Majesty."

Mr. PITT rose, as soon as the motion was read:

The speech of the honourable gentleman, who has just sat
down, varied so much from his ,motion, and there was so little
resemblance with the opinions he advanced, and the proposition
with which he concluded, that I find it extremely difficult to
adopt a train of argument which will bear upon both at one time.
The argument of the honourable gentleman, which he pretended
to found upon a long detail of circumstances, in his opinion un-
deniable in point of fact, and certainly, if they are true, very
serious in their nature, pointed to a conclusion, in which, he
premised that the House would betray their trust to their con-
stituents, if they did not join, and from which, if they ventured
to dissent, he apprehended the most fatal consequences would
ensue to the country. 'I-le stated the subject now under dis-
cussion, as one not to be hung up or suspended, not as one upon
which information ought to be collected, and mature deliberation
exercised before a decision was passed ; but he described it with
all that richness of imagery and aptness of allusion of which he is
so much master ; with even multiplied illustrations, as one -on
which a moment's delay ought not to be permitted, and on which
to hesitate was to sacrifice the best interests of the nation. It
was a case, according to him, in which patience led to death. I
must observe, in setting out, however, that his analogies, bow..
ever various and beautiful, were not very appropriate. He repre-
sented the absurdity of enquiring into the nature of the instru-
ment by which a wound was inflicted, before bandages and styp-


tics were applied, and the insanity of waiting for the coroner's
inquest upon a person drowned, before the means recommended
by the Humane Society were used for his recovery. He forgot,
however, that his motion, as calculated to operate upon the
political malady of the state, did not correspond with the steps
which ought to be taken in the first instance with a person
wounded or drowned. In order to make the allusion accurate,
his argument should have stated, that the continuance of remit-
tances to the Emperor would produce an inability in the bank to
make good their money payments; or, supposing that inability to
have just arisen, he should have shown, that the measure recom-
mended in his motion was the best which could be adopted to
remove that inability. It so happens, however, unfortunately
for the accuracy of his allusion, that money payments have been
suspended at the bank for a considerable time ; that an order of
council was issued as the best remedy at the moment for the diffi-
culties of the bank ; that this suspension has been recognised by
the House of Commons; and that the legislature, anxious to
devise the best mode of restoring the credit of that corporation by
reinstating it in its former situation of solvency, has thought
proper, as a fit preliminary to that deliberation, to appoint a se-
cret committee to enquire into the causes of its embarrassments.
This is the true state of the question.

The honourable gentleman, in his argument, represented his
motion as essential to the very being of the bank, and of the
country, and as one from which the House cannot withhold its
assent without sealing their own reproach and infamy, by sacri-
ficing every trust which has been delegated to them by the nation ;
and when the motion was read, it turned out to be nothing more
than an ambiguous attempt to make them pronounce indirectly
an opinion upon a subject, upon which they were not yet in
possession of information sufficient to enable them to pass a fair
and just decision. For though the case was of such a nature, as
represented in his speech, that it could admit of neither . doubt
nor delay, his motion went to nothing more than the appoint-
ment of a committee to enquire into the circumstances connected


with it. Does the honourable gentleman mean that the House
should now resolve itself into that committee, and report to.
night ? If this is his intention, where would be the candour of
the proceeding in respect of those who wish for further inform.
ation, and who are unwilling to deliver an opinion till that in.
formation is collected ? Ifhe does not mean that the House should
now resolve itself into this committee, then I object to the mo-
tion as ambiguous, disingenuous, and uncandid, as capable from
its nature of being understood two ways, and as tending to mis-
lead the House upon the subject ow-which they arc called upon to
decide. The honourable gentleman knows, and the House must
be aware, that every question which respects the disposal
of the public money must be agitated in a committee of the
whole House, so that whether the House may think it proper to
give their sanction to the honourable gentleman's argument or
not, it must be in a committee of that description which the
subject will eventually come before, and in which their decision
will be finally given. There is this difference, however, that
at present they are not in possession of that degree of inform-
ation which is necessary for them to decide upon a question of
so much importance; whereas they will then have the materials
before them, from which such information is to be collected. If

• the honourable gentleman contends that the information of which
they are at present ht possession, is sufficient to enable them to
form a correct judgment of what ought, or of what ought not to
be done, why does he not move them to conic to an immediate
decision without going into a committee at all ? In short, it was
.as superfluous in one view, as it is inconsistent and contradictory
in another. I should not think that the House will consider it
to be their duty to sanction the opinions of the honourable gen-
tleman, upon a view of their general policy and expediency, far
less that they will decide upon a subject of so much importance,
with the scanty means of information now in their power ; but if
they mean to comply with the real object of the motion and the
true wishes of the mover, let them do it in a fair and manly way,
and not by assenting to a motion as ambiguous in its nature as


perfidious in its designs. This much I thought it right to say
upon the narrow shape of the motion ; and having said so much
upon the question immediately before the House, it is the less
necessary for me to dwell long upon the train of argument which
prefaced the proposition on which it turns.

"though I differ very considerably from the honourable gen-
tleman on many of the topics on which he touched, I entirely
agree with him on the general importance of the subject. I agree
with him in thinking that it is connected not only with the fate
of a great and powerful empire, but with the general fate and
destiny of the world ; but in proportion to its magnitude, ought
to be the caution of this House in deciding upon it on nar-
row and confined principles. That these are domestic con-
siderations which are highly momentous, I readily admit, but
I would remind the House that there may be a narrow mode of
looking at them. Without attending to the circumstance of our
having a great and powerful enemy to contend with, flushed with
success, and ambitious of conquest, with means of bringing into
the field more numerous armies than perhaps ever were known,
and without attending to the circumstance of our insular situation,
which in time of war renders a continental diversion of great
consequence to our external security ; but considering it merely
as a question to be decided upon the principles of economy, and
calculating the effect, which granting pecuniary remittances to
His Imperial Majesty at the present moment, has a tendency so
produce upon public credit, upon the success of the war, and in
accelerating the period and improving the terms of peace, I have
no hesitation in pronouncing an opinion, that the result of this
calculation will be, that this country, by sendingpecuniary assist-
ance to her magnanimous and faithful ally, will adopt the best
mode of consulting real economy, of restoring public credit, of
prosecuting the war, while War is necessary, with advantage,
and of securing a speedy and honourable issue to the contest.
Were the House therefore to be driven to a decision upon the
subject, I should state this as my clear opinion ; but by deferring
that decision till they have the means of information snore fully


[ A rim.

before them, the influence of my opinion, I firmly believe, will
be superseded by their own conviction, and on that account I
am happy that the honourable gentleman does not mean to press
it to an ultimate decision to-night. The more the subject is
discussed, the fewer doubts will be left upon the minds of gen-
tlemen of the propriety of the measure, and the more the cir-
cumstances of the case are investigated and analysed, the more
will the opinion of its policy and utility be confirmed. As an
opportunity for this discussion will hereafter occur, I do not
think it necessary now to enter much at length upon the different
topics connected with it. I shall, therefore, only say a few words
on each of them.

In the first place let us try its merits as a measure of economy.
And he1e I must remind the House that the honourable gentle-
man, by his own confession, does not bring forward the propo-
sition as an indirect mode of forcing government to conclude a
peace by disarming the country. The question therefore is,
whether, as a mode of carrying on the war, the advantage which
is likely to arise to this country from the co-operation of the
Emperor, secured by her pecuniary aid, is an equivalent for the
temporary inconvenience which the public may sustain in con-
sequence of sending these remittances ? To estimate the ad-
vantages with the inconveniences is very difficult. But, in the
outset, I must set right an assumption of the honourable gentle-
man respecting the difference of this country granting or with-
holding pecuniary assistance from her ally. The difference (which
of itself is no small one) is not merely whether we are to carry on
an offensive or defensive war : this is one consideration, but it
is not the only one. The honourable gentleman may talk in as
high terms as he will of French enthusiasm and French gallantry,
but he cannot deny, at least he cannot in justice deny, an equal
tribute.of applause to Austrian valour and Austrian heroism, If
we review the campaigns of the war, it is impossible to find in
history instances of greater prowess in the soldier, of more ac-
complished talents in the general, or of more true magnanimity
in the sovereign, than what they have exhibited. But the re-



sources of His Imperial Majesty are in such a situation, that, with
all his zeal to persevere in the contest, and all his honour in
keeping his engagements with his allies, he cannot put the full
force of his dominions in action without pecuniary assistance.
Will any man then tell me that, if we cut off all hope of this
assistance, he may not be able to persevere in his exertions ?
Will any man tell me that, if there were no military diversions
created upon the Rhine or in the Tyrol, on the north or on the
south of France, her numerous armies would not be employed_
in menacing our territory, and perhaps in invading our coasts ?
Or will any man tell me that if we withhold pecuniary assistance
from the Emperor, that refusal may not lead to a separate peace
between Germany and France ? The difference, then, is not
carrying on a defensive instead of an offensive war, but it is car-
rying on a war solely on your part, without any assistance to aid
your efforts, or any diversion to divide the force of the enemy,
instead of carrying op the war as at present, in conjunction with
an ally whose exertions are able to resist the whole military
power of France, while your fleets are occupied in protecting
your trade and extending your foreign dominions. And do not
the advantages which we enjoy, as they may be estimated from
this short and simple statement, infinitely more than counter-
balance any temporary inconvenience that we may sustain front
the mode in which they are procured ? The honourable gentle-
man took occasion to introduce the subject of a report from a
secret committee of which he is a member, but which is not yet
before the House. I should wish, therefore, that the House will
wait till the report is produced, and not repose implicit confidence
in any of the statements made by the honourable gentleman. I
do not know whether the peace establishment came under the
enquiry or calculation of that committee. I rather think that it
could not immediately come under their investigation. But
whether it did or not, I am happy to assure the House that
no such result, nor any thing approaching to it, wiVie found
to arise out of a fair examination of the circumstances of the

u 2


292 MR. PITT'S


But I find I am discussing the question on grounds on which
I ought not to object to it. Upon the train of argument which
I was before pursuing, it is easy to she

• that, if we do not in-
tend to lay down our arms, if we mean to continue any method
of exertion, if it be our wish to be in a situation to persevere in
hostilities, if hostilities are necessary from the overbearing pride
and unjust pretensions of the enemy, it cannot be a measure of
economy to abandon the plan of availing ourselves of the co-
operation of His Imperial Majesty by contributing money to his
assistance. When we consider the amount of the expense, and
the magnitude of the service, there is no ground of comparison
between them ! Upon what data does the honourable gentleman
assume that the measure will lead to any difference of expense
at all ? He may consider the war as unjust as it was unnecessary,
and as ill conducted in its process as it was groundlessly
undertaken : he may, if he pleases, think that the French were
right in every thing in which this country thought them wrong,
but he does not contend that we should this day throw down
our arms and make unconditional submission to the enemy.
Overlooking, then, the consideration of additional security aris-
ing from the co-operation of the Emperor, and the effects of that
co-operation acting upon the spirit, the trade, the manufactures.
and the population of the country ; overlooking, I say, these
considerations, (and surely when I put them aside none will sup-
pose that I view them as trifling or unimportant, ) let him calcu-
late the additional direct expense which it requires to protect
cur coasts from a vigilant and enterprising foe, who would have
nothing to do but to molest his only remaining enemy. Reduce
the public expenses as much as you can, and let the inevitable
burdens of the war be alleviated as much as possible by well
judged economy in the different branches of the public service ;
but-be not so weak or so treacherous to yourselves as to blot out
One part of an estimate under pretence of economy, while you
create another service which must be provided for at a much
larger expense, and which would tend to aggravate the evil
which it is your intention to cure.

The honourable gentleman does not recommend his motion,
or rather h does not ground his opposition to the measure here-
after to be proposed upon the tendency of' this opposition, to
accelerate the restoration of peace. This, however, is an object
which on no political question ought to be set out of view, and
therefore I shall say a few words upon the subject in this point
of light. Of those who wish for peace, there are two classes.
There are some, and of these a very numerous body, who are
desirous for peace, as soon as peace can be obtained on safe
and honourable terms. To such it must be clear that the object
of their wishes cannot be secured by laying aside the means of
action. But there are others, and the honourable gentleman
-nay be one, who are of opinion that, for the attainment of
peace, there are no terms which we ought not to accept, no law
to which we ought not to submit. Even those who entertain
these humiliating ideas, would be guilty of insanity, were they
to add to thc degradation by laying aside one of the weapons to
which they have to trust for the acquisition of their darling
object. Such conduct would betray a desire not only to take
any terms which the enemy might be pleased to dictate, but to
take every means to render these terms as bad as possible. It is
evident, then, that the measure in agitation affects the question
of peace, both as it depends upon the period of its restoration,
and the terms on which it may be concluded. Did the reason-
ings upon the subject leave any doubt as to the fact, the conduct
of the enemy through the whole course of the war would put
the matter beyond all question.

Having said so much upon the topics of economy and the
return of peace, I proceed to advert to it as a means of restoring
public credit. Now, what does the honourable gentleman here
assume ? He assumes, that the great operating cause of the pre-
sent embarrassments has been foreign remittances ; and upon th,
assumption, he objects to any further advances being made to thY
Emperor. In this view of the subject, I shall beg leave to throw
out a few suggestions, which will lead not only to a conclusion
different from his, but to a conclusion directly opposite.


294, MR. PITT'S
[APRIL 4,.

The honourable gentleman has had the goodness to give me
intimation, that he has some serious charges to prefer against me.
Of course, I shall probably have opportunities enough in future
of explaining my own conduct ; and with the decision of the House
I shall most willingly abide, whatever that decision may be. As
this is not the subject of discussion on this night, perhaps it is
improper in me to say any thing upon it. I would only beg leave
to observe, that the printed papers, upon which the honourable
gentleman commented, contain the written representations of the
bank, and, it is added, my answers. These answers, however,
were not given in writing, and what is there printed under this.
title, is merely minutes of what passed between me and the gover-
nor and deputy-governor of the bank, reported for the perusal
of the bank-directors, without having been previously submitted
to my examination ; nor did I so much as see them till just
before they were printed. The honourable gentleman argues,
that advances to the Emperor were calculated to produce ruinous
consequences, that ruinous consequences did ensue, therefore,
that the advances made to the Emperor were productive of
ruinous consequences. This is very short logic: but if he will
not believe it to be false upon my authority, if it is not too much
to ask, let him compare it with information. In order to make
his conclusion good, he must shew that the remittances made to
the Emperor actually did diminish the cash in the bank, and that
the issue of the order in council was occasioned by the diminution
produced by these remittances. If it should appear that -these
advances did not occasion any diminution of cash at the time
that they were made ; on the contrary, that the balance of cash
rather increased, and that the mischief so much and so justly
lamented arose from the operation of causes widely different, then,
in justice as well as prudence, the House ought not to ascribe an
evil to a cause different from that in which it originated.

The honourable gentleman preferred another charge against
me, which I heard without much dismay — that I had persisted
in sending money to the Emperor when I was aware that the
bank, from the line of conduct I was pursuing, was approaching


to a state of insolvency. This, again, he takes for granted
without any information upon the subject. If it should turn
out that, during the whole period that these remittances were
made, so far was I from being aware of the approaching difficul
ties of the bank, that by the successful operation of commerce,
the balance of exchange for all that time was in favour of this

country, insomuch that, if these circumstances had continued,
the state of the bank would at .this day have been growing
better, the honourable gentleman will surely not persist in the
accusation, when he finds that the ground on which it was
preferred is wholly and completely fallacious. The premises the
honourable gentleman may wish to be taken on trust ; but to
this I object, not wishing to supersede his position by any
assertion of my own, but merely because the House are not in
possession of materials from which they can infer whether it be
true or false. When these materials are before them, perhaps
it may be found that the mischief arose from remittances of cash,
which were sent to Ireland to a greater extent than usual, and
to local alarms in this country, which caused a great run upon
the bank for some time before the order in council was issued.
This is all the answer which I think I need give to the honour-
able gentleman's charge of misrepresentation.

I have only a word more to say respecting an expression in
the speech from the throne at the opening of the present session.
In that speech His Majesty was advised to state, that the re-
sources of the country were equal to every exertion — an expres-
sion founded certainly not upon a knowledge of the balance of
cash or bullion at that time in the bank, but upon the survey of
the general state of trade and manufactures of the kingdom.
Our trade and manufactures certainly depend in a considerable
degree upon the stability of public credit, which is interwoven
with the independence of the country. To preserve that inde-
pendence, then, is necessary above. all things to the restoration
of public credit ; and, next to the preservation of this indepen-
dence, is the prevention of the danger of a future run upon the
bank. And here we may look at the question in two points .of



[Aran. 1.
view. Let us first look at the best way to procure the greatest
quantity Of cash ; and, if the subject is fairly viewed, I do not
despair of convincing the House that the remittance of a sum to
the Emperor, instead of obstructing and impeding the influx of
cash into the kingdom, will accelerate and increase it. I will
grant that, if collateral circumstances did not vary, the balance
in our favour would be diminished precisely in proportion to the
sum sent abroad. But will it be contended, that abandoning an
ally would have no effect upon the markets of Europe, and that
such a step, were it taken by this country, would not influence
any of the avenues of her commerce ? Such a position is so ab-
surd and untenable, that it would be an insult on the good sense
of the House to spend their time if combating it. But a profit-
able trade depends not only on the state of the purchaser to
receive, but of the seller to send. And need I ask what effect it
would have upon the zeal, the spirit, the industry, and, conse-
quently, the trade and manufactures of the country, were our
coasts to be incessantly threatened by the whole concentred force
of France, which would be the case were the Emperor obliged,
in consequence of our refusing to aid him with money, to con-
clude a separate peace with our common enemy ? When the
subject, therefore, is viewed in this light, who is s2 short-sighted
as not to see, that the inconvenience which may arise from pre-
sent. exertion would be much more than counterbalanced by the
pressure of subsequent events ? If the argument be admitted in
one case, there is no possible case to which it may not be
applied. In short, it may be argued upon the same grounds,
that, as soon as you experience the difficulties arising from

drain of cash, you must give up all your foreign connections,
and, upon this principle, you ought to withdraw your protection
from all your possessions in the East and West Indies. Of these
possessions, for instance, it might be said, " True, they have
been accounted extremely valuable, they have yielded great pro-
fits, the produce of them has formed a great article of commerce,
and been the cause of a vast influx of wealth into the country,
but in time of war they put us to an expense ; we will save


therefore in future the expense of protection." But how ? By
sacrificing all the present and future advantages which might flow
from the possession of them. Precisely the same argument will
apply to an ally.

But if the reasoning is just in the view of procuring an influx
of cash from abroad, how much stronger is it in the view of pro-
moting circulation at home, which is fully as necessary for the
restoration of the credit of the bank as the other ! If our foreign
commerce would be affected by the abandonment of an ally, how
much more would our internal situation be affected by the pres-
sure which would naturally result from an enemy increasing in
strength in a direct ratio to our inability to resist his efforts ?
Would not the natural consequence be a new alarm, accompa-
nied with a disposition to hoard ? And thus the immediate
cause of the mischief would he renewed. I trust that, though
there might be some cause for the late alarm, it is now almost
gone by ; and I am convinced, that the more the state of the
country is enquired into, the less ground there is for despond-
ency, or the apprehension of any danger which Englishmen
may not boldly meet with the fortitude which belongs to the
national character. While our object is however to remove
alarm, and to restore the public credit, is it wise or prudent to
court a greater alarm? Can it be expected that the effects of
the greater would be less serious than of the slighter alarm, or
that even the same effects would not do much more harm?
Those, then, who look to the restoration of public credit in the
bank of England as their favourite object, should be the last
persons to counteract a measure which has an obvious tendency
to produce that event to which their wishes and their endeavours
tend : and how the honourable gentleman can claim the benefit
of the argument drawn from his subject, I have yet to learn,
nor can I even guess.

There is still another topic left, upon which I feel myself im-
pelled to say a few words, namely, the additional security that
would be given to credit by the restoration of' peace. Whether
the best mode-of obtaining peace is to run the risk of losing the

aid of the Emperor, is a question upon which there exists but
little doubt. We have seen long ago that the uniform object of
the enemy's policy has been to disunite us from our ally. This
design has manifested itself in the course of several negotiations
and discussions, and we have seen a similar policy too success-
fully practised with other powers who were formerly leagued with
us against France, and who have been seduced, some into a neu-
trality, others into open hostility against us. She has publicly
and repeatedly declared her wish to make a separate peace with
Austria, that she might he enabled to dictate terms to us, or to
carry on the war against this country with greater effect. It is
but very lately that we have heard that France has, a short time
ago, made distinct overtures of peace to the Emperor to the
exclusion of this country, and that he, with his accustomed
honour and good faith, instead of accepting of them, commu-
nicated them to the court of St..Tames's, and renewed his
declaration to the enemy, that he would not conclude a peace
except in conjunction with Great Britain, justly persuaded that
no peace can be concluded on a permanent foundation, but one
founded upon a due regard to the individual claims, and the
common interests of the different powers of Europe.

Putting apart, therefore, the obligations of gratitude and
honour, it must be obvious to every one whose views are not
confined within the narrowest and most contracted

- limits, that
the best mode of attaining the desirable object of peace is, to per-
severe in making a common cause with the Emperor, and aiding
him with those means which his own dominions do not furnish,
but with which the resources of this country enable us to supply
him. It is for this House to determine whether they will give
success to the intrigues of the enemy, which have hitherto been
frustrated by the fidelity and magnanimity of our ally, or whether
they will persevere in those measures, which are most likely to
bring the contest to a safe and honourable issue. To their judg-
ment and their spirit I leave the decision, convinced that they
will act in a manner becoming the representatives of a great and
powerful nation. On these grounds I think there is no use in


countenancing the present measure, and as it does not commit
the House to give any opinion upon the subject, I shall give it
my negative.

The resolution was negatived,

Noes '266

May 26. 1797.

Mn. GREY, in pursuance of the notice he bad previously given, this
day brought forward his proposition for a Reform in Parliament, con-
cluding his speech with moving, for leave to bring in a bill to amend the
representation of the people in the House of Commons.

After the motion had been seconded by Mr. Erskine, Mr. PITT rose:

Feeling, Sir, as I do, the danger with which the present pro-
position is attended, upon the grounds upon which it has been
supported, and in the circumstances in which it has been brought
forward, I am very desirous, as early as possible in the debate,
to state the reasons by which I am determined to give it my most
decided opposition. The honourable gentleman who introduced
the motion, began with disclaiming very distinctly, and, as far
as he went, very satisfactorily, all those abstract principles of
imprescriptible right, all those doctrines of the rights of man, on
which those without doors, who are most eager in their profes-
sions of attachment to the cause which he now supports, rest the
propriety of their demand, and upon which alone they would be
contented with any species of parliamentary reform. The
honourable gentleman denies the truth of that principle which
prescribes any particular form of government, as that which is
essential to freedom; or that universal suffrage is necessary to civil
liberty ; or that it even must depend upon that light which the
revolution of France has let in upon the world, but from which,
however, he derives hopes of so much advantage to the general

[MAY 26,

happiness of mankind. But, in disclaiming these views of the
question, and in placing it upon the footing of the practical
benefit it was calculated to produce, the honourable gentleman
did not state all the considerations by which the conduct of a
wise statesman was to be regulated, and the judgment of an
upright senator to be guided. The question is not merely,
whether some alteration might or might not be attended with
advantage ; but it is the degree of advantage which that altera-
tion is likely to effect in the shape in which it is introduced ; the
mischief which may be occasioned from not adopting the mea-
sure, and the chance, on the other hand, of producing by the
alteration an effect upon those to whom you give way, very dif-
ferent from that which had induced you to hazard the experiment.
Those are the considerations which the subject ought to embrace,
and the views upon which impartial men must decide.

Before we adopt the conclusions of the right honourable gen-
tleman, we have a right, it is even imposed upon us as a duty,
to take into our view as a leading object, what probability there
is by encouraging the particular mode of attaining that union,
or of effecting that separation of the friends of moderate reform,
and the determined enemies to the constitution, which they
conceive it calculated to produce ; we must consider the danger
of introducing an evil of a much greater magnitude than that
we are now desirous to repair ; and how far it is prudent to give
an opening for those principles which aim at nothing less than
the total annihilation of the constitution. The learned gent]e-
man who seconded the motion said, that those who formerly
supported parliamentary reform had sown the seeds of that
eagerness for parliamentary reform, which was now displayed,
and of the principles on which it was now pressed ; he thinks that
those, who have ever supported the cause of parliamentary reform
upon grounds of practical advantage, must not oppose those
who have nothing in common with them, but the name of reform,
making that the cover for objects widely different, in order to
sup p ort that pretence which they assume upon principles diame-
trically opposite to those upon which the true friends to the


cause of-reform ever proceeded. Will the honourable gentleman
who made, or the learned gentleman who seconded the motion,
say, that those men who contend, as an indispensable point, for
universal suffrage; — that those who hold doctrines which go to
the extinction of' every branch of the constitution, because they
think it convenient to avail themselves of the pretence of parlia-
mentary reform, as the first step towards the attainment of their
own views, and as facilitating their progress ; — that those who,
though they condescended to take advantage of the co-operation
of those who support the cause of reform in this House, yet have
never applied to parliament, and who would not even receive
as a boon, what they contend for as a right;—can it seriously be
said, that such men as these have embarked in the cause, or
have proceeded on the principles of those, who upon far diffe-
rent grounds, and for far different objects, have moved this
important question ? Will they say, that those men have
adopted the principles, or followed the . course, of those who for-
merly have agitated the cause of reform, who have avowedly
borrowed their political creed from the doctrines of the Rights
of Man, from the writings of Thomas Paine, from the monstrous
and detestable system of the French jacobins and affiliated
societies, from that proud, shallow, and presumptuous philoso-
phy, which, pretending to communicate new lights to mankind,
has carried theoretical absurdity higher than the wild imagi-
nations of the most extravagant visionaries ever conceived, and
carried practical evil to an extent which no age or history has
equalled ? Will it be said that those men pursued only that
practical advantage, which a reform upon principles consonant
to the British constitution was calculated to afford, who saw
without emotion the detestable theories of the jacobins deve-
loped in the destructive ravage which marked their progress, and
their practical effects in the bloody tragedies which were acted
on the theatre of France, and who still adhered to their system
of indefeasible right, when they saw such overwhelming proofs of
its theoretical falsehood, and of its baleful tendency ? Will it he
believed that those men are actuated by principles consonant

26.302 MR. PITT'S DU/iv

to the spirit of the British constitution, who, with the ex-
ception of the pretence of parliamentary reform, adopted all
the forms of French political systems, who followed them
through all their consequences, who looked upon the ravage
which they spread through all laws, religion, and property,
without shrinking from their practical effect, and who deemed
the horrors with which it was attended, as the triumphs of their
system? Can we believe, that men who remained unmoved by the
dismal example which their principles had produced, whose pre-
tensions rose and fell with the success or the decline ofjacobinisrn
in every part of the world, were ever actuated by a similarity of
motives and of objects, with those who prosecuted the cause of
reform as a practical advantage, and maintained it upon consti-
tutional views ? The utmost point of difference, indeed, that
ever subsisted between those who supported, and those who
opposed the question of reform, previous to the French revolu-
tion, which forms a new era in politics, and in the history of the
world, was union and concert in comparison with the views of
those who maintained that question upon grounds of expediency,

. and those who assert it as a matter of right.
The question then was, with those who contended for reform

on grounds of expediency, whether the means proposed were
calculated to infuse new vigour into the constitution ? The ob.
ject with those who affect a parliamentary reform upon French
principles, is the shortest way to compass its utter destruction.
From the period when the new and alarming era of the French
revolution broke in upon the world, and the doctrines which it
ushered into light laid hold of the minds of men, I found that
the grounds upon which the question rested were essentially anti
fundamentally altered. Whatever may have been my former
opinion, am I to be told that I am inconsistent, if I feel that it
is expedient to forego the advantage which any alteration may be
calculated to produce, rather than afford an inlet to principles
with which no compromise can be made ; rather than hazard
the utter annihilation of a system under which this country has
flourished in its. prosperity, by which it. has been supported in


its adversity, and by the energy and vigour of which it has been
enabled to recover from the difficulties and distresses, with
which it has had to contend? In the warmth of argument upon
this subject, the honourableand learned gentleman has con-
ceived himself at liberty to assume a proposition, which was not
only unsupported by reasoning, but even contradicted by his
own statements. The learned gentleman assumed that it was
necessary to adopt the moderate . reform proposed, in order to
separate those whom such a plan would satisfy, from those who
would be satisfied with none ; but who, I contend, by means of
this, would only labour to attain the complete object of their
wishes in the annihilation of the constitution. Those men who
treat parliament as an usurpation, and monarchy as an invasion
of the rights of man, would not receive .a reform which was not
the recognition of their right, and which they would consider
as vitiated if conveyed in any other shape. Though such men had
availed themselves of the aid of those who supported parliamen-
tary reform on other grounds, would they be contented with this
species of reform as an ultimate object ?

But does the honourable and learned gentleman mean to
-assume that those who arc the friends of moderate reform, (and
I know not how such a wish has been expressed at all, ) must
remain confounded with those whom no reform will satisfy, un-
less some measure like the present is adopted ? Where has such
a wish for Moderate reform been expressed ? If those who are
even thought to entertain sentiments favourable to that cause,
have cherished them in silence, if they have abstained from
pressing them at a moment when they would have served only to
promote the views of those who wished to annihilate riot to
reform, is it to be apprehended that any ill effects will ensue,
.unless you adopt some expedient to distinguish the moderate
reformer from the desperate foe ?. Yet this is the main argu-
ment of the learned gentleman, which he has put into a thousand
different shapes. I do not believe, however, that the temper
of moderate reformers will lead them to make common cause
with the irreconcilable enemies of the constitution. If there

301 MR. PITT'S [MAN 26.
are really many who may be•ranked as moderate reformers, it is
at least probable that they feel the force of the danger which I
have stated ; that they think it wiser to check their wishes than
to risk the inlet of jacobin principles, and the imprudence of
affording to the enemies of the constitution the means of accom-
plishing its destruction. Has there been, however, any decisive
manifestation of their desires, or is there reason to believe that,
disappointed in their wishes, they will be immediately driven
beyond the bounds of duty to the constitution ? If there is no
security that those, whose views have already pointed beyond
reform, will be recalled to better sentiments, if there are even
certain grounds to believe that they will merely employ any
reform that may be introduced, as a step towards realizing their
own system, upon what pretence can the present measure be
held out as calculated to reconcile those men to the constitution?
From the conduct of gentlemen on the other side, it is obvious
that they do not conceive any decisive manifestation of the wishes
of the people for a moderate reform being now introduced, to have
taken place. My reason for such an opinion is this : we have
seen that the gentlemen in opposition have not been deficient in
their efforts to procure every expression of the public concur-
rence in the objects for which they have contended. From their
own account these efforts have not been unsuercessfel ; but,
supposing that no efforts of theirs had been employed, and that
to the spontaneous impulse of the people themselves are to
be ascribed the petitions which have been voted in different
quarters, to a degree indeed, in their opinion, to decide the
sense of the country to be in favour of an immediate peace, and
the removal of ministers, it follows, that those who have 'ire-
sented such petitions have not felt, or the exertions of opposition
have not been able to excite, any expression of that opinion
they have so often urged, that no change of men, without a
change of system, would lead to any permanent good.

It does not appear then, that there is any call upon the House
to adopt a measure which, so far from being necessary to satisfy
men friendly to a moderate reform, they have not, in any shape,


expressed a wish to obtain. Before the practical expediency of
this measure, then, comes to be discussed, the practical necessity
of such a measure must be established. In this proof, however,
the honourable and learned gentlemen have failed ; I need not,
therefore, go into the state of the country to refute-the state-
ments of the honourable gentlemen. Indeed, I must observe
that every thing urged upon this topic was nothing more than
assertion. The calamities and difficulties under which the
country labours, the war with France and inroads upon the con-
stitution, the profusion of public expenditure, were the topics
upon which they insisted, and which they said would have been
avoided if parliamentary reform had formerly been adopted. I
boldly contend, however, that in the origin of the war, in the
efforts to an unparalleled extent which the novelty of the contest,
and the nature of the enemy, forced us to exert; that in what
they call inroads, and which we contend were necessary bul-
warks for the defence of the constitution, the feelings of the
people went uniformly along with the proceedings of parlia-
ment. I will venture to assert, without the fear of contradic-
tion, that in no time when the tide of prosperity began to turn in
favour of this country, when the nation began to recover from
the struggles and from the burdens of the American war, when,
Year after year, the sources of public wealth and individual
happiness were increasing and extending, had the functions of
parliament been more congenial to the feelings of the people,
than in the painful yet necessary struggles to which we were
obliged to submit in the present contest. That the nation has
suffered, during the progress of the war, many and serious cala-
mities, I do not dispute ; calamities, however, much less severe
in their effects than those which have been undergone by coun-
tries acting upon a different system.

It has indeed been urged, and with no ordinary degree of per-
severance, that the voice of the nation is against the proceedings
of government : that, however, is more a matter of opinion
than of fact; and every man will naturally judge of the credit
that ought to .attach to such an assertion, from the sentiments

voL, 11.

which are expressed in the circle of his own acquaintance, and,
from his personal enquiries on the subject. But I will undertake-
to say, that at the present moment, amidst all the difficulties and.
embarrassments, unavoidably occasioned by the vigorous pro

of hostilities, the system pursued by parliament in sup-
port of the measures of government is the system of the people;
and parliament at no period possessed in a more ample degree.
the confidence of the country than it does now. [Here Mr. Fox.
showed some signs of dissent.] . The honourable gentleman may
be disposed to controvert this opinion, but I am sure he cannot
maintain the contrary with more sincerity or with more perfect
conviction than I advance what I now assert. The right hollow--
able gentleman, the House will recollect, was accustomed to as-
sert last session of parliament, with equal boldness and vehemence
as now, that the sense of the country was against the system or
ministers. Good God ! where can •the honourable gentleman
have lived? In what remote corner of the country can he have
passed his time? What great public question can lie state, upon
which the public have not evinced a great degree of interest, as
great as that shown upon any former occasion 2 On the contrary,
if ever there was a period which we should select, as the one
in which the attention of the public was the most turned to pub-
lic affairs, it was precisely that period in which the learned
gentleman has described the public to have lost all interest in
the deliberations of parliament.

I know it is maintained that parliament does not represent the
great body of the nation, and that the result of general election&
gives no striking character or impressive feature of the send.,
ments of the people : but. I desire it may also be recollected,
whether there are not many leading instances and particular cir-
cumstances attendant on general elections, that go strongly to
express the opinion entertained by the constituent body; and,
taking up the consideration in that point of view, I do insist,
and am convinced the position cannot be objected to, that the
approbation given by those who had been members of the last
parliament, to the commencement and prosecution of the war,


were strong and powerful recommendations in their favour at the
late general elections. I will for a moment, pursuing this argu-
ment, request the House to take the parliamentary representa-
tion as it. has been stated and recommended by the honourable-
gentleman.* I will desire the honourable gentleman himself to
look for an instant to . his own statement of the proposed addi-
tional representation of the counties, and then candidly decide,
whether he can argue that the sense of the people was not in a
great degree to be collected at general elections? It is submitted
in that statement, to extend the number of county members
from ninety-two to one hundred and thirteen; the augmentation,
therefore, did not consist of' many : and does the honourable.
gentleman intend to except the ninety-two former members,by
general proscription? or will he pretend to say, that the system
of counties, as it stands at present in point of' representation,
goes for nothing ? Certainly he cannot undertake to advance
such an argument, and so evidently inconsistent with his own
plan of reform. If, therefore, the one hundred and thirteen
members proposed by the honourable gentleman to represent
the counties, would express the true sense of the people, it can-
not be denied on the same grounds, that the ninety-two who
were elected by their constituents, were in a very considerable
proportion the organs of the public opinion. The arguments
therefore adduced by the honourable gentleman go against his
own declaration, that the sense of the people was not the sense
of parliament ; and that sense had been fully manifested in
favour of the war at the general elections. Since, therefore, I
recollect the former declaration of the honourable_ gentleman at
the end of the last session of parliament, that parliament (lid not
possess the confidence of the people, am I to be discouraged
now, after the general election, from saying that they actually
did enjoy that confidence ? But that is not the only statement
which I can make in justification of this assertion. I will appeal
to the proceedings in great and populous cities, as well as in the

1( Mr. Grey.


city of London, in which the opinions of gentlemen on the other
side of the House, with respect to parliament not possessing
the confidence of the people, were as strongly refuted, on a fair
poll, by a vast majority of the electors, as by the elections for
the counties to which he has referred. It consequently appears
that the honourable gentleman has not specific ground to pro-
ceed on ; and that he has totally failed in the foundation of his
assertion, that parliament does not enjoy the public confidence.
The learned gentleman has, in the fanciful flights of his do-
quenee, pushed his objects farther than his honourable friend;
for he has not only said, that parliament has lost the confidence
of the people, but that the proceedings of parliament have no
effect whatever on the public mind.

The learned gentleman, however, wished to unite two classes
of persons very opposite in their pursuits. He desires to recoil-

- cile those, who by the very nature of their principles are alto-
gether irreconcileable; those whose political doctrines are known
to be inimical to legal government, and those who are distin-
guished by the moderation of their tenets. With respect to the
moderates, it could not be too minutely attended to by the House,
that they propose no plan of reform whatever ; that they perfer
no complaints ; that they set out with no petition on that suoject;
and is it proper or reasonable that the House should sponta-
neously give what had not been even demanded ? With regard to
the other persons alluded to by the learned gentleman, the House,
by agreeing to what has been urged in their favour, would give
them not merely what they claim, but what they demand as an
absolute right, and what is in reality the first step to the accom-
plishment of their real views. That the present moment should
be a time for the measure of reform appears rather inconsistent,
when it is admitted by the learned gentleman himself that radical'
discontent is prevalent in the country, and when it is undeniable,
that the men who talk of liberty aim merely at licentiousness,
and set up the name of reform as a disguise to mask their re-
volutionary projects, and as the first step to their acknowledged
system of innovation. Concessions to such men, at such a time,


would be impolitic, would be fatal, would be absurd. The House
also, by agreeing to the arguments of the learned gentleman,
would grant what could not be of any use to one set of men, and
what would be productive of great mischief to the otl-A. descrip-
tion. Such concessions, I will maintain, are not warranted by the
sound maxims of philosophy, nor to be measured. by the numerous.
examples drawn from the history of the world.

The honourable gentleman* has talked highly of the blessings
which are to result to mankind from the establishment of French
liberty ; and because new lights have appeared to set off the doc-
trine of freedom, this House is therefore to alter their principles
of government, and to accommodate themselves to the new order
of things. The system of French liberty is represented. as a new
light diffusing itself over all the world, and spreading in every
region happiness and improvement. Good God! is the House to
be told, after the benefits which have been derived from the revo-
lution in this country, that other and more essential benefits are
to be added by adopting the principles of the French revolution ?
From such lights, however, I hope we shall ever protect this con-
stitution, as against principles inconsistent with any government.
If we are to be relieved from any evils under which we may at
present labour, by means of this new light, I for one beg leave
to enter my solemn protest against the idea. The doctrines upon
which it is founded, are, as I have already said, false, shallow,.
and presumptuous, more absurd than the most pestilent theories
that were ever engendered by the disordered imagination of man ;
more hostile to the real interests of mankind, to national prospe-
rity, to individual happiness, to intellectual and moral improve-
ment, than any tyranny by which the human species was ever
afflicted. And, for this new luminary, shall we abandon the.
polar star of the British constitution, by which we have been,
led to happiness and glory, by which the country has supported:
every danger, which it has been called upon to encounter,.

Mr. Grey.

.310 MR. PITT'S [MAY 26.
and risen superior to every difficulty by which it has been
.assailed ?

independent of these general grounds on which I have

opposed this motion, 1 have no difficulty in stating that the par-
ticular measure appears liable to so many objections, that in no
circumstances could I have given it my assent. Indeed I could
as little concur in the plan of the honourable gentleman as in a
proposal for universal suffrage : how hear it approaches to that
system I shall not nint,

discuss. The honourable gentleman, on
a former occasion, has said, that he would rather have universal
suffrage than no reform. The learned gentleman, however, diS•
claims universal suffrage, when asserted as a matter of right.
Certainly, indeed, some people have reason to complain of' the
learned gentleman who, in supporting a plan ofreform on grounds
Of practical advantage, refuses that universal suffrage to which
he has no objection on practical grounds, merely because it is
asked as a matter of right. He will, however, find it difficult to
reconcile 'that practical expedience with the new light of general'
freedom which has so unexpectedly broken in upon the world.
The proposition, however, is neither more nor less than, with
the exception of one fifth, to abolish the whole system of the
representation of this country, as it has been formed byharter
or by parliamentary arrangement, as it has been moulded by time
aud experience, as it has bees blended with our [handers and
customs, 'without regard to the rights or compensations, or to the
general effect of modifications. All these are to be swept away,
and a numerical scale Of representation to be substituted in its
place ; the country is tobe divided into districts, and every house-
holder, paying taxes, is to vote ; thus a system would be intro-
duced little short of universal suffrage. On what experience,
what practice is this gigantic scale of numerical representation to
be introduced? In former plans the variety of the modes of
representation was admitted to be proof, how much better time
and circumstances may mould and regulate representation than
any institutions founded on reasonings a priori, and how ncces-


sary it was to give way to the effects of such experience. It is
not the harsh uniformity of principles, each pushed to its extreme,
but the general complexion arising out of the various shades,
which forms the harmony of the representation, and the practi-
cal excellence of the constitution, capable of improving itself
consistently with its fundamental principles. Who will say that
this beautiful variety may not have contributed to the advantage
of the whole ? That system was practical, and experience has
confirmed the excellence of it, but the present plan goes the
whole length of destroying all the existing representation, with
the exception only of the county members (why they alone are
excepted I am at a loss to conceive), and bringing all to one
system. Are the gentlemen who propose this system aware of
the benefits resulting from a varied state of representation, and
are they ready at once to resign them.

It never was contended that the inequality of the representa-
tion has been attended with any practical disadvantage, that the
interest of Yorkshire was neglected because it sent only two
members to parliament, or that Birmingham and Manchester ex-
perienced any ill consequences from having no representatives.
How does it appear that universal suffrage is better than if the
Tight to vote be founded on numerical, or even alphabetical
arrangement ? There is no practice, certainly no recognised prac-
tice, for its basis. The experiment proposed is new, extensive,
overturning all the ancient system, and substituting something
in its stead without any theoretical advantage, or any practical
recommendation. In the mixed representation which now sub-
sists, the scot and lot elections are-those which have been chiefly
Objected -to, and the honourable gentleman opposite to me for-
merly agreed with me in opinion, that bu •gage tenures and small
,corporations were even less exceptionable than open burghs with
small qualifications. Yet this extension of email 'qualifications,
from which it has been a general complaint that much confusion,
:debauchery, and abuse at elections arose, forms the principal
feature in the honourable gentleman's plan.

Upon these grounds, therefore, looking seriously at the sal:i-


312 MR. PITT'S prgE 2
ation of the country, examining facts with attention, unless we
would seal our own dishonour, unless we would belie the testi-
mony of our constituents, we must dissent from the reasons on
which the necessity of this proposition is founded. We ought
to resist the specific plan which the honourable gentleman has
offered, unless we would renounce the tried system of our
representation, for a plan at once highly exceptionable in theory;
and totally unsupported by experience.

The motion was negatived;

Noes 256

June 2. 1797.

Ma. Pm moved the order of the day for taking into consideration*
His Majesty's message relative to the Mutiny in the Fleet—.

" It is with the deepest concern His Majesty acquaints the House of

Commons, that the conduct of the crews of some of his ships now at the
Nore, in persisting in the most violent and treasonable acts of mutiny
and disobedience, notwithstanding the full extension to them of a/4 the
benefits which had been accepted with gratitude by the rest of His
Majesty's fleet, and notwithstanding the repeated offers of His Majesty's
gracious pardon, on their returning to their duty, have compelled His
Majesty to call on all his faithful subjects to give their utmost assistance
in repressing such dangerous and criminal proceedings. His Majesty has
directed a copy of the proclamation which he has issued for this purpose,
to be laid before the House; and he cannot doubt that his parliament
will adopt, with readiness and decision, every measure which can tend,
at this important conjuncture, to provide for the public security. And
His Majesty particularly recommends it to the consideration of parlia-
ment, to inake snore effectual provision for the prevention and punish-
ment of all traitorous attempts to excite sedition and mutiny in His
Majesty's naval service; or to withdraw any part of His Majesty's
forces, by sea or land, from their duty and allegiance to him : and from
that obedience and discipline which are so important to the prosperity
and safety of the British empire.

G. B."


The Message being read, Mr. PITT spoke to the following effect :

Important as the present occasion is, I feel that it will not be
necessary for me to detain the House with a long detail upon the
subject of the gracious communication from the throne, which
has now been read to us. By that communication we learn that
all the benefit of His Majesty's gracious favour, which restored
satisfaction to part of His Majesty's forces,- was attended with
every mark of duty and gratitude by that part, and was extended
to the whole of His Majesty's fleet ; but that, nevertheless, there
are now at the Nore deluded persons who have persisted in dis-
obedience, and proceeded to open acts of mutiny and disorder,
although all the same benefits have been allowed to them ; the
same liberal allowance which was agreed upon by parliament,
and His Majesty's most gracious pardon, have been offered to
them in the same generous manner as it was to those who have
returned to their duty. We have the mortification now to learn
that mutiny is carried on to the most dangerous and criminal.
excess, to such a length, that the persons concerned in it have
gone into open and undisguised hostility against His Majesty's
forces acting under orders and commands from regular authority.
Much as we must deplore such events, much as we must feel
them as an aggravation of the public difficulties with which we
have to contend, yet we must all feel it to be the duty of the
House of Commons to show to its constituents, and to the world
at large, that there is no difficulty which they will not meet
with firmness and resolute decision ; that we will take measures
to extricate the country from its difficulties in a manner that
is worth} of the representatives of a great, a brave, a powerful,
and a free people. I am persuaded that, under our present
circumstances, we can have no hesitation in laying at the foot of
the throne an address of assurance, that we will afford His Ma-
jesty every effectual support in our power ; that we will counter-
act, as far as we can, so fatal an example as has, by the most
consummate wickedness, been set to His Majesty's naval force;
that we will show that we feel a just indignation against a con-

314 MR. PITTS [JeN.E
duct so unworthy of, so inconsistent with, the:manly and gene-
rous character of British seamen ; that we feel resentment at so
ungrateful a return to the generosity of a liberal parliament, and
the mildness and benignity of an illustrious throne. I trust,
that we shall recollect what our duty is in such a conjuncture ;
I trust too, that as these late proceedings are utterly repugnant
to the real spirit of the British sailor, contrary to the conduct
which has established the glory of the British navy, and the
renown of the British nation, it will appear that it was not ih
the hearts of British seamen that such mutinous principles ori-
ginated. I trust that we shall show also, that if there are
among us those who ate enemies to the fundamental interests
of this country, teitS 'glory, to its safety, and to its existence
as a nation, whose malignity is directed to the honour and even
existence of our navy, who carry on their diabelital artifice by
misrepresentation of facts, to pervert the dispositions and change
the principles of the seamen, by instilling into their minds false
alarms and apprehensions, and prevail upon them to do acts
contrary to their instincts and that too when they are called
upon to contend with an alertly * / trust, say, that if there
be among us slid', foes, they may he detected and dealt with as
they deserve. Our indignation should be more active ainst
the seducers than the seduced and misguided..

Whether, according to the existing law against the 'Wen
attempts that We . leave Seen Ina& upon another branch Of His
Majesty's service to shake its loyalty, but which, to the honour
Of that body, remains unmoved, and I trust is immoveable, we
possess power enough to punish, as they deserve, 'such wicked
Offenders, may be a matter perhaps of doubt. I shall, however,
instantly proceed to that part of the recommendation in His
Majesty's message, and to state my ideas upon the law against
persenS , who shall excite HiS Majesty's forces to mutiny or dis-
ebedienee. It is not necessary for me to enter now into parti-
culars upon that subject ; but I feel it my duty to declare, that
if the address which 1 shall propose shall meet, as I hope and
confidently trust it will, the unanimous sense of the House, I shall


immediately move for leave to bring in a bill for the better
prevention of the crime I have already stated. There is, I am
persuaded, in this House, but one sense of the great guilt of this
offence, of the notoriety of its practice, and of the danger
of its consequences; in short, there exists every ground upon
which penal law can be applied to any offence, viz. the mischief '4
of the act itself, and the frequency of its commission. The re-
medy which I mean to propose for the consideration of parlia-
ment, will, I trust, be sufficiently efficacious to attain its object,
without o'erstepping the moral guilt and real malignity of the
crime. While, however, we all feel it to be our duty to eater
On the consideration of such legislative provision, while parlia-
ment is not wanting in its duty at such a crisis of public affairs,
I trust also that we shall not be disappointed in our expectation
of the spirit of the public collectively or individually ; that they
will not be wanting in their exertions in such a crisis ; that they
will be animated, collectively and individually, with a spirit that
will give energy and effect to their exertions ; that every man
who boasts, and is worthy of the name of an Englishman, Will
stand forth in the metropolis, and in every part of the kingdom,
to maintain the authority of the laws, and enforce obedience to
them, to oppose and counteract the machinations of' the disaf-
fected, and to preserve a due principle of submission to legal
authority. I trust that all the inhabitants of the kingdom will
unite in one common defence against internal enemies, to
maintain the general security of the kingdom, by providing for
the local security of each particular district ; that we shall all
remember, that by so doing we shall give the fullest scope to His
Majesty's forces against foreign enemies, and also the fullest
scope to the known valour and unshaken fidelity of the military
force of the kingdom against those who shall endeavour to dis-
turb its internal tranquillity. Such are the principles which I
feel, and upon which I shall act for myself, and such are the
principles, and will be the conduct, I hope, of every man in
this House and out of it; such are the sentiments that are itn-
planted in us all; such the feelings that arc inherent in. the

2,316 MR. PITT'S CJuNE

breast of every Englishman. I should insult the House by
chewing that I distrusted its character, and the character of the
country, if I said more, and I should have neglected my duty if
I had said less. I now move, Sir,

" That an humble address be presented to His Majesty to
return His Majesty the thanks of this House for his most gracious
message :

" To express to His Majesty the concern and indignation which
we must feel in common with His Majesty, at the heinous and
criminal conduct of the crews of some of His Majesty's ships, not-
withstanding the offer se repeatedly made to them of HisMajesty's
most gracious pardon, and the proofs of the paternal regard of
His Majesty, and of the liberality of parliament, which they
have received in common with the rest of His Majesty's fleet.

" To assure His Majesty, that we are ready and determined to
afford to His Majesty our utmost assistance in repressing such
dangerous and criminal proceedings, and to adopt every measure
which can tend, at this conjuncture, to provide for the public
security : with this 'view we shall proceed, without delay, in
pursuance of the recommendation of His Majesty, to consider of
such further provision as it may be necessary to make, for the
more effectual prevention and punishment of all traitorous at-
tempts to excite mutiny in any part of His Majesty's forces, for
to withdraw them from their duty and allegiance, and from that
obedience and discipline which are so important to the pros-
perity and the safety of the British Empire

" That we have the fullest reliance, that all His Majesty's
faithful subjects, from sentiments of loyalty and attachment to
His Majesty, and a just anxiety for their dearest interests, will
be eager to manifest, at so important a crisis, a full determination
to contribute, on every occasion, their utmost exertions for the
support of legal authority, the maintenance of peace and order,
and the general protection and defence of His Majesty's king-

The question on the address was put and agreed to nemine contradicente.


November 10. 1797.

THE order of the day being read for the House to take into consider-
ation the papers which had been laid before them by His Majesty's di-
rection, relative to the late negotiation at Lisle, and the address of the
House of Lords being also read, Mr. Dundas moved " that the Hot& do
concur with Their Lordships in that address."

After Sir John Sinclair and Lord Temple had spoken, the former
of whom moved an amendment to the address,

Mr. PITT rose, and delivered his sentiments as follows:

Sir— Having come to this House, withthe firm persuasion, that
there never existed an occasion, when the unanimous concur-
rence of the House might be more justly expected than on a pro-
posal to agree in the sentiments contained in the address which
has been read, I must confess myself considerably disappointed,
in some degree, even by the speech of my noble relation, (much
as I rejoice in the testimony which he has given of his talents
and abilities,) and still more by the speech of the honourable ba-
ronet, and by the amendment which he has moved. I cannot
agree with the noble lord in the extent to which he has stated
his sentiments, that we ought to rejoice that peace was not made;

much less, Sir, can I feel desirous to accept, on the part of my
self or my colleagues, either from my noble kinsman, or any
other person, the approbation which he was pleased to express,
of the manner in which we have concluded the negotiation.
We have not concluded the negotiation—the negotiation has been
concluded by others; we have not been suffered to continue it ;
our claim to merit, if we have any, our claim to the approbation
of our country is, that we persisted in every attempt to conduct
that negotiation to a pacific termination, as long as our enemies
left us, not the prospect, but the chance or possibility of doing so,
eonsistent with. our honour, our dignity, and our safety. Welament
and deplore the disappointment of the sincere wishes which we
felt, and of the earnest endeavours which we employed; yet we
Are far from suffering those sentiments to induce us to adopt the

318 MIt. PITT'S
[Nov. IO. 179'7.]


unmanly line of conduct that has been recommended by the ho-
nourable baronet ; this is not the moment to dwell only on our
disappointment, to suppress our indignation, or to let our cou-
rage, our constancy, and our determination, be buried in the ex-

, pressions of unmanly fear, or unavailing regret. Between these
two extremes it is, that I trust our conduct is directed; and in
calling upon the House to join in sentiments betwen those ex-
tremes, I do trust, that if we cannot have the unanimous opinion,
we shall have the general and ready concurrence both of the
House and of the country.

Sir, before I trouble the House, which I am not desirous of
doing at, length, with a few points which I wish to recapitulate,
let me first call to your minds the general nature of the amend-
ment which the honourable baronet has, under these circum-
stances, thought fit to propose, and the general nature of the
observations by which he introduced it. He began with deploring
the calamities of war, on the general topic, that all war is cala-
mitous. Do I object to this sentiment ? No : but it is our busi-
ness at a moment when we feel that the continuance of that war
is owing to the animosity, the implacable animosity of our ene-
my, to the inveterate and insatiable ambition of the present fran-
tic government of France, not of the people of France, as the
honourable baronet unjustly stated it— is it our business at that
moment to content ourselves with merely lamenting in com-
mon-place terms the calamities of war, and forgetting that it is
part of the duty which, as representatives of the people, we
owe to our government and our country, to state that the con-
tinuance of those evils upon ourselves, and upon France too, is
the fruit only of the conduct of the enemy; that it is to be imputed
to them, and not to us?

Sir, the papers which were ordered to be laid on the table
have been in every gentleman's hand, and on the materials
which they furnish we must be prepared to decide. Can
there be a doubt, that all the evils of war, whatever may be
their consequences, are to be imputed solely to His Majesty's
enemies? Is there any man here prepared to deny, that the

delay in ever y stage of the negotiation, and its final rupture,
are proved to be owing to the evasive conduct, the unwarrantable
pretensions, the inordinate ambition, and the implacable ani-
mosity of' the enemy ? I will shortly state what are the points,
though it is hardly necessary that I should state them, for they
speak loudly for themselves, on which I would rest that propo-
sition ; but if there is any man who doubts it, is it the honour-
able baronet? Is it he who makes this amendment, leaving ont
every thing that is honourable to the character of his awn
country, and seeming to court seine new complaisance on the
part of the French directory ?— the honourable baronet, who,
as soon as be has stated the nature of his amendment, makes the
first part of his speech a charge against His Majesty's ministers,
for even having •commenced the negotiation in the manner,
and under the circumstances in which they did commence it—
who makes his next charge, their having persevered in it, when
violations of form and practice were insisted upon in the earliest.
stage of it ? Does he discover that the French government,
whom we have accused with insincerity, have been sincere from
the beginning to the end of the negotiation? Or, after having
accused His Majesty's ministers for commencing and persevering
in it, is the honourable baronet so afraid of being misconstrued
into an idea of animosity against the people of France, that he
must disguise the truth, must do injustice to the character and
cause of his own country, and leave unexplained the cause of
the continuance of this great contest? Let us be prepared to
probe that question to the bottom, to form our opinion upon it,
and to render our conduct conformable to that opinion. This
I conceive to be a manly conduct, and, especially at such a
moment, to be the indispensable duty of the House. But let
not the honourable baronet imagine there is any ground for
his apprehension, that by adopting the language of the address,
which ascribes the continuance of the war to the ambition-of •
the enemy, we shall declare a system of endless animosity
between the nations of Great Britain and France. I say directly
the contrary. He who scruples to declare, that in the present

320 MR. PITT'S [Nov. 10.

moment the government of France are acting as much in con-
tradiction to the known wishes of the French nation, as to the
just pretensions and anxious wishes of the people of Great
Britain—he who scruples to declare them the authors of this
calamity, deprives us of the consolatory hope which we are
inclined to cherish, of some future change of circumstances
more favourable to our wishes.

It a melancholy spectacle, indeed, to see in any country,
and on the ruin of any pretence of liberty however nominal,
shallow, or delusive, a system of tyranny erected, the most
galling, the most horrible, the most undisguised in all its parts
and attributes that has stained the page of history, or disgraced
the annals of the world ; but it would be much more unfortu-
nate, if when we see that the same cause carries desolation
through France, which extends disquiet and fermentation
through Europe, it would be worse, indeed, if we attributed
to the nation of France that, which is to be attributed only to
the unwarranted and usurped authority which involves them in
misery, and would, if unresisted, involve Europe with them in
one common ruin and destruction. Do we state this to be ani-
mosity on the part of the people of France ? Do we state this
in order to raise up an implacable spirit of animosity against that
country ? Where is one word to that effect in the declaration to
which the honourable gentleman has alluded ? He complains
much of this declaration, because it tends to perpetuate animo-
sity between two nations which one day or other must be at
peace — God grant that day may be soon ! But what does that
declaration express upon the subject ? Does it express, that
because the present existing government of France has acted as
it has acted, we forego the wish or renounce the hope that some
new situation may lead to happier consequences ? On the con-
trary, His Majesty's language is distinctly this: " While this
determination continues to prevail on the part of his enemies,
His Majesty's earnest wishes and endeavours to restore peace
to his subjects must he fruitless; but his sentiments remain
unaltered ; he looks with anxious expectation to the moment


when the government of France may show a temper and spirit
in any degree corresponding with his own." I wish to know
whether words can be found in the English language which
more expressly state-the contrary sentiment to that which the
honourable baronet imputes ; they not only disclaim animosity
against the people of France in consequence of the conduct of its
rulers, but do not go the length of declaring, that after all this
provocation, even with the present rulers, all treaty is imprac-
ticable. Whether it is probable, that acting on the principles
upon which they have acquired their power, and while that
power continues, they will listen to any system of moderation or
justice at home or abroad, it is not now necessary to discuss ;
but for one, I desire to express my cordial concurrence in the
sentiment, So pointedly expressed in that passage of the decla-
ration, in which His Majesty, notwithstanding all the provocation
he has received, and even after the recent successes, which, by
the blessing of Providence, have attended his arms, declares his
readiness to adhere to the same moderate terms and principles
which he proposed at the time of our greatest difficulties, and
to conclude peace on that ground, if it can now be obtained,
even with this very government.

I am sensible, that while I ant endeavouring to vindicate His
Majesty's servants against the charges of the honourable baronet,
which are sufficiently, however, refuted by the early part of his
own speech, I am incurring, in some degree, the censure of
the noble lord to whom I before alluded. According to his
principles and opinions, and of some few others in this country,
it is matter of charge against us that we even harbour in our
minds at this moment, a wish to conclude peace upon the terms
which we think admissible with the present rulers of France.
I am not one of those who can or will join in that sentiment.
I have no difficulty in repeating what I stated before, that in
their present spirit, after what they have said, and still more,
after what they have done, I can entertain little hope of so de-
sirable an event. I have no hesitation in avowing, for it would
be idleness and hypocrisy to conceal it, that for the sake of


PARLIAMENTARY' SPEECHES. 323322 MR.. PITTS [Nov. 10. 1797.1
mankind in general, and to gratify those sentiments which can
never be eradicated from the human heart, I should see with
pleasure and satisfaction the termination of a 'government whose
conduct and whose origin is such as we have seen that of the
government of France : but that is not the object — that ought
not to be the principle of the war, whatever wish I may enter
tain in my own heart ; and whatever opinion I may think it
fair or manly. to avow, I have no difficulty in stating, that, vio,-
lent and odious as is the character of that government, I verily
believe, in the present state of Europe, that. if we are not
wanting to ourselves, if, by the blessing of Providence, our per-,
severance, and our resources, should enable us to make peace
with France upon. terms in which we taint not our character, in
which we do not abandon the sources of our wealth, the means
of our. strength, the defence of what we already possess; if we
maintain- our equal pretensions, and assert that rank which we
are entitled to hold among nations — the moment peace can be
Obtained on such terms, be the form of government in France
what it may, peace is desirable, peace is then anxiously to be
sought. But unless it is attained on such terms, there is no--
extremity of war, there is no extremity of honourable contest,
that is not preferable to the name and pretence of peace, which
must be in reality a disgraceful capitulation, a base, an abject
surrender of every thing that constitutes the pride, the safety,
and happiness of England.

These, Sir, are the sentiments of my mind on this leading
point, and with these sentiments I shape my conduct between
the contending opinions of the noble lord and of the honourable
baronet. But there is one observation of the honourable
baronet on which I must now more particularly remark. He
has discovered that we state the Directory of France to have been
all along insincere, and yet take merit for having commenced a
negotiation, which we ought never to have commenced without
being persuaded of their sincerity. This supposed contradiction
requires but a few words to explain it. I believe that those who
constitute the yresent government of France never were sincere

for a moment in the negotiation: from all the information I
have obtained, and from every conjecture I could form, I, for
one, never was so duped as to believe them sincere; but I did
believe, and I thought I knew, that there was a general prevail-
ing wish for peace, and a predominant sense of its necessity
growing and confirming itself in France, and founded on the
most obvious and most pressing motives. I did see a spirit of
reviving moderation gradually gaining ground, and opening a
way to the happiest alterations in the general system of that
country : I did believe that the violence of that portion of the
executive government, which, by the late strange revolution of
France, unhappily for France itself and for the world, has
gained the ascendancy, would have been restrained within some
bounds ; that ambition must give way to reason ; that.. even
phrenzy itself must be controlled and governed by necessity.
These were the hopes and expectations I entertained. I did,
notwithstanding, feel, that even from the outset, and in every
step of that negotiation, those who happily had not yet the full.
power to cut it short in the beginning, who dared not trust the
public eye wit the whole of their designs, who could not avow
all their principles, unfortunately, nevertheless, did retain from. -
the beginning power enough to control those who had a better
disposition ; to mix in every part of the negotiation, which they
could not then abruptly break off, whatever could impede, em-
barrass, and perplex, in order to throw upon us, if possible, the
odium of its failure.

Sir, the system of France is explained by the very objections
that are made against our conduct. The violent party could
not, as I have stated, at once break off the treaty on their part,
but they wished to drive England to the rupture ; they had not
strength enough to reject all negotiation, but they had strength
enough to mix in every step those degradations and insults, those
inconsistent and unwarranted pretensions in points even of sub-
ordinate importance, which reduced ministers to that opinion
which I have described ; but which they decided in a way that
has exposed them to the censure of the honourable baronet.


324, MR. PITT'S CNov. 10.

They abose father to incur the blame of sacrificing punctilios (at
some times essential), -rather than afford the enemy an opportu-
nity of evading this plain question — Is there any ground, and,
if any, what, upon which you are ready to conclude peace ?
To that point it was our duty to drive them ; we have driven
them to that point ; they would tell us no terms, however exor-
bitant and unwarrantable, upon which they would be ready to
make peace. 'What would have been the honourable baronet's
expedient to avoid this embarrassment ? It would have been, as
he has this day informed us, an address which he had thought
of moving in the last session, and which, indeed, I should have
been less surprised had he moved, than if the House had con-
curred in it ; he would have moved that no projet should be
given in till the enemy were prepared to present a contre projet.
If it was a great misfortune that that address was not moved, I
am afraid some of the guilt belongs to me, because the honour
able baronet did suggest such an idea, and I did with great
sincerity and frankness tell him, that if he was really a _friend to
peace, there was no motion he could make so little calculated to M
promote that object ; and I did prevail upon the honourable
baronet to give up the intention. If I am right in the suppo-
sition I have stated ; if I am right in thinking that our great
object was to press France to this point, and to put the question
— if you have any terms to offer, what are they ? — was there
any one way by which we could make it so difficult for them to
retain any pretence of a desire for peace, as to speak out our-
selves, and call upon them either - for agreement, or for modifi-
cation, or for some other plan in their turn ? By not adopting
the honourable baronet's plan, we have put the question beyond
dispute, whether peace was attainable at last, and whether our
advances would or would not be met on the part of France ;. and
I shall, to tile latest hour

of my life, rejoice that we were fortu-

nate enough to place this question in the light which defies the
powers of misrepresentation, in which no man can attempt to
perplex it, and in which it . presents itself this day for the decision
of the House and of the nation, and calls upon every individual


who-has at stake the public happiness and his own, to determine
for himself, whether this is or is not a crisis which requires his
best exertions in the defence of his country.

To show which, I shall now proceed, notwithstanding the re-
proach which has been thrown on our line of conduct, to show the
system even of obstinate forbearance, with which we endeavoured
to overcome preliminary difficulties, the determined resolution on
our part to overlook all minor obstacles, and to come to the real
essence of discussion upon the terms of peace. To show this, it
is not necessary to do more than to call to the recollection of the
House the leading parts of the declaration of His Majesty. I
mean to leave that part of the subject also without the possi-
bility of doubt, or difference of opinion. It is certainly true,
that, even previous to any of the circumstances that related to
the preliminary forms of the negotiation, the prior conduct of
France had offered to any government that was not sincerely and
most anxiously bent upon peace, sufficient ground for the con-
tinuance of hostilities ; it is true that, in the former negotiation
at Paris, Lord Malmesbury was finally sent away, not upon a
question of term's of peace, not upon a question of the'cession of
European or colonial possessions, but upon the haughty demand
of a previous preliminary, which should give up every thing on
the part of the allies, and which should leave them afterwards
every thing to ask, or rather to require. It is true it closed in
nearly the same insulting manner as the second mission ; it is
true, too, that, subsequent to that period, in the preliminaries
concluded between the Emperor and France, it was agreed to
invite the allies of each party to a congress, which, however,
was never carried into execution. It was under these circum-
stances that His Majesty, in the earnest desire of availing him-
self of that spirit of moderation which had begun to show itself
in France, determined to renew those proposals which had been
before slighted and rejected ; but when this step was taken, what
was the conduct of those who have gained the ascendency in
France? On the first application to know on what ground
they were disposed to negotiate, wantonly, as will be shown by

x 3

326 MR. PITT'S [Nov. 10.
the sequel, and for no purpose but to prevent even the opening
of the conferences, they insisted upon a mode of negotiation very
contrary to general usage and convenience, contrary to the mode
in which they had terminated war with any of the belligerent
• powers, and directly contrary to any mode which they themselves
afterwards persisted in following in this very negotiation with us.
They began by saying, they would receive no proposals for pre-
liminaries, but that conferences should be held for the purpose
of concluding at once a definitive treaty.

His Majesty's answer was, that it was his desire to adopt that
mode only which was most likely to accelerate the object in view,
and the powers of his plenipotentiary would apply to either ob-
ject, either preliminary or definitive. They appeared content with
his answer : but what was the next step ? In the simple form of
granting a passport for the minister, at the moment they were
saying they preferred a definitive peace, because it was the most
expeditious ; in that very passport, which in all former times has
only described the character of the minister, without entering
into any thing relating to the terms or mode of negotiating, they
insert a condition relative to his powers, and that inconsistent
with what His Majesty had explained to be the nature of the
powers lie had intended to give, and with which they had appa-
rently been satisfied ; they made it a passport not for a minister
coming to conclude peace generally, but applicable only to a
definitive and separate peace.

This proceeding was in itself liable to the most. obvious objec-
tion ; but it is more important, as an instance to show how,• in
the simplest part of the transaction, the untraetable spirit of
France discovered itself; it throws light upon the subsequent
part of the transaction, and shows the inconsistencies and contra-
dictions of their successive pretensions. As to the condition then
made in the passport for the first time, that the negotiation should
be for a separate peace, IIis Majesty declared that he had no
choice between a definitive and a preliminary treaty, but as to a
separate peace, his honour and good faith, with regard to his
:ally the Queen of Portugal ;

would not permit it : he therefore


stated his unalterable determination to agree to no treaty in which
Portugal should not be included, expressing, at the same time,
his readiness that France should treat on the part of Holland
and Spain.

On this occasion, the good faith of this country prevailed ; the
system of violence and despotism was not then ripe, and there-
fore His Majesty's demand to treat for Portugal was acquiesced
in by the directory. They, at the same time, undertook to treat
on their part for their allies, Holland and Spain, as well as for
themselves, though, in the subsequent course of the negotiation,
they pretended to be without sufficient power to treat for either.

I must here entreat the attention of the House to the next cir-
cumstance which occurred. When the firmness of His Majesty,
his anxious and sincere desire to terminate the horrors of war,
and his uniform moderation, overcame the violence, and defeated
the designs of the members of the executive government of
France, they had recourse to another expedient—the most absurd
as well as the most unjustifiable : they adverted to the rupture of
the former negotiation, as if that rupture was to be imputed to
His Majesty; andlthis insinuation was accompanied with a per-
sonal reflection upon the minister who was sent by His Majesty
to treat on the part of this country. His Majesty, looking
anxiously as he did to the conclusion of peace, disdained to reply
otherwise, than by observing, that this was not a fit topic to be
agitated at the moment of renewing a negotiation,. and that the
circumstances of the transaction were well enough known to
Europe and to the world. And the result of this negotiation
has confirmed what the former had sufficiently proved, that His
Majesty could not have selected, in the ample field of talents
which his dominions furnish, any person better qualified to do
justice to his sincere and benevolent desire, to promote the
restoration of peace, and his firm and unalterable determination.
to maintain the dignity and honour of his kingdoms.

In spite of these obstacles, and others more minute, the British
plenipotentiary at length arrived at Lisle ; the full powers were
transmitted to the respective governments, and were found un-



MR. PITT'S [Nov.10.

exceptionable, though the supposed defect of these full powers
is, three months after, alleged as a cause for the rupture of the
negotiation ; and what is more remarkable, it did so happen
that the French full powers were, on the face of them, much
more limited than ours, for they only enabled the commissioners
of the directory to act according to the instructions they were to
receive from time to time. On this point it is not necessary now
to dwell, but I desire the House to treasure it in their memory,
when we come to the question of pretence for the rupture of
the negotiation.

Then, Sir, I come to the point in which we have incurred the
censure of the honourable baronet, for delivering in on our part a
projet. To his opinion I do not subscribe, for the reasons that I
stated before. But can there be a stronger proof of His Majesty's
sincerity, than his waving so many points important in themselves,
rather than suffer the negotiation to be broken off? What was
our situation ? We were to treat with a government, that had
in the outset expressed, that they would treat only definitively ;
and from every part of their conduct which preceded the meeting
of our plenipotentiary-and their commissioners, we might have
expected that they would have been prepared to answer our
projet almost in twenty-four hours after it was delivered. We stood
with respect to France in this predicament — we had nothing to
ask of them ; the question only was, how much we were to give
of that which the valour of His Majesty's arms had acquired from
them, and from their allies. In this situation, surely, we might
have expected, that, before we offered the price of peace, they
would at least have condescended to say what were the sacrifices
which they expected us to make. But, Sir, in this situation,
what species of projet was it that was presented by His Majesty's
minister ? A projet the most distinct, the most particular, the
most conciliatory and moderate, that ever constituted the first
words spoken by any negotiator ; and yet of this projet what
have we heard in the language of the French government? What
have we seen dispersed through all Europe by that press in
France which knows no sentiments but what French policy dic-



tates ? What have we seen dispersed by that English press-which
knows no other use of English liberty, but servilely to retail and.
transcribe French opinions ? We have been told, that it was a
projet that refused to embrace the terms of negotiation. Gen-
tlemen have read the papers — how does that fact stand ? In the
original projet we agreed to give up the conquests we had made
from France and her allies, with certain exceptions. For those
exceptions a blank was left, in order to ascertain whether France
was desirous that the exceptions should be divided between her
and her allies, or whether she continued to insist upon a com-
plete compensation, and left England to look for compensation
only to her allies. France, zealous as she pretends to he for her
allies, had no difficulty in authorising her ministers to declare,
that she must retain every thing for herself. This blank was then
filled up, and it was then distinctly stated, how little, out of
what we had, we demanded to keep ; in one sense, it remains
a blank still ; we did not attempt to preclude France from any
other mode of filling it up ; but while we stated the utmost
extent of our own views, re left open to full explanation what-
ever points the government of France could desire. We called
upon them, and repeatedly solicited them, to state something as
to the nature of the terms which they proposed, if they objected
to ours. It was thus left open to modification, alteration, or
concession : but this is not the place, this is not the time, in
which I am to discuss, whether those terms, in all given cir-
cumstances, or in the circumstances of that moment, were or
were not the ultimate terms upon which peace ought to be
accepted or rejected ; if it were once brought to the point when
an ultimatum could be judged of, I will not argue whether
some great concession might not have been made with the
certainty of peace, or whether the terms proposed constituted
an offer of peace upon more favourable grounds for the enemy
than His Majesty's ministers could justify. I argue not the one
question nor the other ; it would be inconsistent with the public
interest and our duty, that we should here state or discuss it;
all that I have to discuss, is, whether the terms, upon the face

330 MR. PITT'S [Nov. 10.


of them, appear honourable, open, frank, distinct, sincere, and
a pledge of moderation ; and I leave it 'to the good sense of
the House, whether there can exist a difference of opinion upon
this point.

Sir, what was it we offered to renounce to France ? In one
word, all that we had taken from them. What did this consist
of? — the valuable, and almost, under all circumstances, the
impregnable island of Martinique, various other West-India
possessions, St. Lucia, Tobago, the French part of St. Domingo,
the settlements of Pondicherry and Chandernagore, all the
French factories and means of trade in the East Indies, and the
islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon ; and for what were these
renunciations to be made? For peace, and for peace only.
And to whom ? To a nation which had obtained from His
Majesty's dominions in Europe nothing in the couise of the war,
17hich had never met our fleets but to add to the catalogue of
our victories, and to swell the melancholy lists of their own cap-
tures and defeats : to a power which had never separately met
the arms of this country by land, but to carry the glory and
prowess of the British name to a higher pitch, and to a country
whose commerce is unheard of, whose navy is annihilated,
whose distress, confessed by themselves, (however it may be
attempted to be dissembled by their panegyrists in this 'or any
other country,) is acknowledged by the sighs and groans of the
people of France, and proved by the expostulations and remon-
strances occasioned by the violent

measures of his executive

government. Such was the situation in which we stood — such
the situation of the enemy when we offered to make these impor-
tant concessions, as the price-of peace. What was the situation
of the allies of France ? From Spain, who, from the moment
she had deserted our cause and enlisted on the part of the enemy,
only added to the number of our conquests, and to her own
indelible disgrace, we made claim of one island, the island of
Trinidad, a claim not resting on the mere naked title of pos-
session, to counterbalance the general European aggrandisement
,of France, but as the price of something that we had to give by


making good the title to the Spanish part of St. Domingo,
which Spain had ceded without right, and which cession could
not be made without our guarantee. To Holland, having in our
hands the whole means of their commerce, the whole source of
their wealth, we offered to return almost all that was valuable
and lucrative to them, in the mere consideration of commerce ;
we desired in return to keep what to them, in a pecuniary view,
would be only a burden, in a political view worse than useless,
because they had not the means to keep it ; what, had we
granted it, would have been a sacrifice, not to them, but to
France ; what would in future have enabled her to carry on her
plan of subjugation against the Eastern possessions of Holland
itself, as well as against those of Great Britain. All that we
asked, was, not indemnification for what we had suffered, but
the means of preserving our own possessions, and the strength of
.our naval empire ; we did this at a time when our enemy was
feeling the pressure of war and who looks at the question of
peace without some regard to the relative situation of the country
with which you are contending ? Look then at their trade ;
look at their means; look at the ',posture of their affairs ; look
.at what we hold, and at the means we have of-defending our-
selves, and our enemy of resisting us, and tell me, whether this
.offer vas or was not a proof of sincerity, and a pledge of
moderation. Sir, I should be ashamed of arguing it, I confess ;
I am apprehensive we may have gone too far in the' first pro-
posals we made, rather than show any backwardness in the
negotiation ; but it is unnecessary to argue this point.

Our proposal was received and allowed by the French pleni-
potentiaries, and transmitted for the consideration of the Direc-
tory; months had elapsed in sending couriers weekly and daily
from Paris to Lisle, and from Lisle to Paris: they taught us
to expect, from time to time, a consideration of this subject,
and an explicit answer to our projet. But the first attempt of
the directory to negotiate, after having received our projet, is
worthy of remark ; they required that we, whom they had
summoned to a definitive treaty, should stop and discuss preli-


[Nov. 10.
minary points, which were to be settled without knowing
whether, when we had agreed to them all, we had advanced ono
inch ; we were to discuss, whether His Majesty would renounce
the title of King of France, a harmless feather, at most, in the
crown of England; we were to discuss, whether we would
restore those ships taken at Toulon, the acquisition of valour,
and which we were entitled upon every ground to hold ; we
were to discuss, whether we would renounce the mortgage
which we might possess on the Netherlands, and which engaged
much of the honourable baronet's attention : but it does so
happen, that what the honourable baronet considered as so im-
portant, was of no importance at all. For a mortgage on the
Netherlands, we have none, and consequently we have none
to renounce ; therefore, upon that condition, which they had
no right to ask, and we had no means of granting, we told
them the true state of the case, and that. it was not worth
talking about.

The next point which occurred, is of a nature which is dif-
ficult to dwell upon without indignation ; we were waiting the
fulfilment of a promise which had been made repeatedly, of
delivering to our ambassador a contre-projet, when they who
had desired us to come for the purpose of concluding a definitive
treaty, propose that we should subscribe as a sine quiz' non pre-
liminary, that we were ready, in the first instance, to consent
to give up all that we had taken, and then to hear what they
had farther to ask. Is it possible to suppose that such a thing
could be listened to by any country that was not prepared to
prostrate itself at the feet of France, and in that abject posture
to adore its conqueror, to solicit new insults, to submit to de-
mands still more degrading and ignominious, and to cancel at
once the honour of the British name? His Majesty had no
hesitation in refusing to comply with such insolent and unwar-
rantable demands. Here again the House will see, that the spirit
of the violent part of the French government, which had the
insolence to advance this proposition, had not acquired power
and strength in that state of the negotiation to adhere to it;



His Majesty's explanations and remonstrances for a time pre-
vailed,. and an interval ensued, in which we had a hope, that we
were advancing to a pacification. His Majesty's refusal of this
demand was received by the French plenipotentiaries with
assurances of a pacific disposition, was transmitted to their
government, and was seconded by a continued and repeated re-
petition of promises, that a contre-predet should be presented,
pretending that they were under the necessity of sending to their
allies an account of what passed; and that they were endea-
vouring to prevail on them to accede to proposals for putting an
end to the calamities of war—to terminate the calamities of that
war into which those allies were forced, in which they were
retained by France alone, and in which-they purchased nothing
but sacrifices to France, and misery to themselves. We were
told, indeed, in a conference that followed, that they had
obtained an answer, hut that not being sufficiently satisfactory,
it was sent back to be considered. This continued, during the
whole period, until that dreadful catastrophe of the 4th of
September : even after that event, the same pretence was held
out ; they peremptorily promised the contre-projet in four
days : the same pacific professions were renewed, and our
minister was assured, that the'change of circumstances in France
should not be a bar to the pacification. Such was the uniform
language of the plenipotentiaries in the name of the govern-
ment—how it is proved by their actions I have already stated to
the House. After this series of professions, what was the first
step taken to go on with the negotiation in this spirit of con-
ciliation? Sir, the first step was to renew, as His Majesty's
declaration has well stated, in a shape still•more offensive, the
former inadmissible and rejected demand ; the rejection of
which bad been acquiesced in by themselves two months before,
and during all which time we had been impatiently waiting for
the performance of their promises. That demand was the same
that I have already stated in substance, that Lord Malmesbury
should explain to them, not only his powers, but also his in-
structions; and they asked not for the formal extent of his


MR. PITT'S [Nov.

power, which would give solidity to what he might conclude in
the King's name, but they asked an irrevocable pledge, that he
would consent to give up all that we had taken from them and
from their allies, without knowing how much more they had
afterwards to ask. It is true they endeavoured to convince
Lord Malmesbury, that although an avowal of his


was demanded, it would never be required that he should act
upon it, for there was a great difference between knowing the
extent of the powers of a minister, and insisting upon their
exercise. And here I would ask the honourable baronet, whether
he thinks, if, in the first instance, we had given up all to the
French plenipotentiaries, they would have given it all back
again to us ? Suppose I was ambassador from the French direc-
tory, and the honourable baronet was ambassador from Great
Britain, and I were to say to him, " Will you give up all you
have gained ? It would only be a handsome thing in you, as an
Englishman, and no ungenerous use shall be made of it —"
would the honourable baronet expect me, as a French ambas-
.sador, to say, " I am instructed, from the good nature of the
directory, to say, you have acted handsomely, and I now re-
turn you what you have so generously given ?" Should we not
be called children and drivellers, if we could act in this manner:
and indeed the French government could be nothing but children
and drivellers, if they could suppose that we should have acceded
to such a proposal. — But they are bound, it seems, by sacred
treaties ; they are bound by immutable laws ; they are sworn,
when they make peace, to return every thing to their allies ; and
who shall require of France, for the safety of Europe, to depart
from its own pretensions to honour and independence?

If any person can really suppose that this country could have
agreed to such a proposition, or that such a negotiation was.
likely to lead to a good end, all I can say is, that with such a
man I wilt not argue. I leave others to imagine what was
to have been the end of' a negotiation, in which it was to have
been settled as a preliminary, that-•ou were to give up all that
you have gained ; and when, on the side of your enemy, not a


word was said of what he had to propose afterwards. They
demand of your ambassador to show to them not only his powers,
but also his instructions, before they explain a word of theirs;
and they tell you too, that you are never to expect to hear what
their powers are, until you shall be ready to concede every thing
which the directory may think fit to require. This is certainly
the substance of what they propose; and they tell you also, that
they are to carry on the negotiation from the instructions which
their plenipotentiaries are to receive from time to time from them.
You are to have no power to instruct your ambassador ; you are
to show to the enemy at once all you have in view, and they will
only tell you front time to time, as to them shall seem meet,
what demands they shall make.

It was thus it was attempted, on the part of the French, to
confluence the negotiation. In July, this demand was made to
Lord Mahnesbury. He stated, that his powers were ample. In
answer to this, they went no further than to say, that if he had
no such power as what they required, he should send to England
to obtain it.. To which he replied, that he had not, nor should
he have it if he sent. In this they acquiesce, and attempt to
amuse us for two months. At the end of that time, the pleni-
potentiaries say to Lord Ivialmesbury, not what they said before,
send to England for power to accede to proposals which you have
already rejected ; but go to England yourself for such powers,
in order to obtain peace.

Such was the winding up of the negotiation ; such was the
way in which the prospect of peace has been disappointed by the
conduct of France ; and I must look upon the dismissal of Lord
Malmesbury as the last stage of the negotiation, because the
undisguised insult by which it was pretended to be kept up for
tee days after Lord Malmesbury was sent away, was really below
comment. You ( France) send him 'to ask for those powers which
you were told he had not, and in the refusal of which you acqui-
esced: you have asked as a preliminary, that which is monstrous
and exorbitant; that preliminary you were told would not be
complied with, and yet the performance of that preliminary you

136 MR. PITT'S [Nov. 10.
made the sine ph non condition of his return ! Such was the
last step by which the French government has shown that it
had feeling enough left to think it necessary to search for some
pretext to colour its proceedings ; but they are such proceedings
that no pretext or artifice can cover them, as will appear
more particularly from the papers officially communicated to the

But here the subject does not rest : if we look to the whole
complexion of this transaction, the duplicity, the arrogance,
and violence which has appeared in the course of the negotiation,
if we take from thence our opinion of its general result, we shall
be justified in our conclusion, not that the people of France,
not that the whole government of France, but that that part of
the government which bad too much influence, and has now
the whole ascendency, never was sincere ; was determined to
accept of no terms but such as would make it neither durable
nor safe, such as could only be accepted by this country by
a surrender of all its interests, and by a sacrifice of

• every
pretension to the character of a great, a powerful, or an inde-
pendent nation.

This, Sir, is inference no longer ; you have their own open
avowal ; you have it stated in the subsequent declaration of
France itself, that it is not against your commerce, that it is not
against your wealth, it is not against your possessions in the Epst,
or colonies in the West, it is not against even the source of your
maritime greatness, it is not against any of the appendages of
your empire, but against the very essence of your liberty, against
the foundation of your independence, against the citadel of your
happiness, against your constitution itself, that their hostilities
are directed. They have themselves announced and proclaimed
the proposition, that what they mean to bring with their in-
vading army is the genius of their liberty : I desire no other
word to express the subversion of the British constitution,—
and the substitution of the most malignant and fatal contrast,—
and the annihilation of British liberty, and the obliteration of
every thing that has rendered you a great, a flourishing, and a
happy people.


This is what is at. issue ; for this are we to declare ourselves in
a manner that deprecates the rage which our enemy will not
dissemble, and which will be little moved by our entreaty.
Under such circumstances are we ashamed or afraid to declare,
in a firm and manly tone, our resolution to defend ourselves, or
to speak the language of truth with the energy that belongs to
Englishmen united in such a cause? Sir, I do not scruple for ono
to say, if I knew nothing by which I could state to myself a
probability of the contest terminating in our favour, I would
maintain, that the contest with its worst chances is preferable to
an acquiescence in such demands.

If I could look at this as a dry question of prudence, if I could
calculate it upon the mere grounds of interest, I would say, if
we love that degree of national. power which is necessary for the
independence of the country, and its safety ; if we regard do-
mestic tranquillity, - if we look at individual enjoyment, from
the highest to the meanest among us, there is not a man, whose
stake is so great inthe country, thathe ought to hesitate a moment
in sacrificing any portion of it to oppose the violence of the
enemy ; nor is there, I trust, a man in this happy and free nation,
whose stake is so small, that he would not be ready to sacrifice
his life in the same cause. If we look at it with a view to safety,
this would be our conduct ; but if we look at it upon the prin.
ciple of true honour, of the character which we have to support,
of the example which we have to set to the other nations of
Europe, if we view rightly the lot in which _Providence has
placed us, and the contrast between ourselves and all the other
countries in Europe, gratitude to that Providence should inspire
us to make every effort in such' a- cause. 'There may be danger,
but on the one side there is danger accompanied with honour;
on the other side, there is danger with indelible shame and dis-
grace ; upon such an alternative, Englishmen will not hesitate.
I wish to disguise no part of my sentiments upon the grounds
on which I put the issue of the contest. I ask, whether up ' to

the principles I have stated, we are prepared to act? Having done
so, my opinion is not altered ;" my hopes however "are animated




from the reflection that the means of our safety are in our own
hands; for there never was a period when we had more to en-
courage us; in spite of heavy burdens, the radical strength of the
nation never showed itself more conspicuous ; its revenue never
exhibited greater proofs of the wealth of the country ; the same
objects, which constitute the blessings we have to fight for,
furnish us with the means of continuing them. But it is not.
upon that point I rest it; there is one great resource, which I
trust will never abandon us, and which has shone forth in the
English character, by which we have preserved ourexistence and
fame, as a nation, which I trust we shall be determined never
to abandon under any extremity, but shall join hand and -heart-
in the solemn pledge that is proposed to us, and declare to His
Majesty; that we know great exertions are wanting, that we-
are prepared to make theta, and at all events determined to stand
or fall by the laws, liberties, and. religion of our' country.

The amendment was afterwards Withdrawn, and the original address
passed rewine contradieenie,

November %. 1 n7.-

?Ea Muse having resolved "itself into a Oortnattee a Supply,

Ma. PITT rose and addressed the committee to the following purport,'

In pursuance of the intimation which I gave upon a former
day, I now rise to state to the committee the general' outline of

- the measures which are proposed as the foundations for raising
the supplies, and for meeting the exigencies of the ensuing year.-
As the principle of that part of the intended plan to which

I am

most desirous to direct the attention of the committee is new in
the financial operations of this country, at least ffor More !than a
century ; as it is a principle so important in its witare, and so ex-
tensive in its consequences, it is not my intention:V.) call for any


decision upon its merits in the present stage of the business. All
that I now mean to state to the committee, I wish to be consi-
dered merely as a notice, and a general explanation of a plan that
is afterwards to be brought forward. Any minute consideration
and particular dispositions I shall omit till tile subject is submitted
to a detailed discussion, and content myself with a general view
of the object proposed, and a general outline of the mode by
which it is to be carried into execution. After the facts which
are already in your possession, after the unanimous resolution
which the two Houses of parliament have passed upon the subject,
it would be unnecessary for me to dwell upon the causes which
demand your exertions, and the nature of the objects which the
supplies you are called upon to provide are intended to secure.
The question which you have to consider is . of no less importance
than by what means you are to provide for the expenses which
will be necessary to enable you successfully to resist the avowed
intentions of an arrogant foe, to destroy your liberties and con-
stitution, to cut off the sources of your, wealth, your' prosperity,
your independence, and your glory. In pledging ourselves to
withstand these haughty pretensions, and to defend the blessings

.-we enjoy, we have not acted lightly. In expressing our determin-
ation to support the honour and the interest of the country at
every hazard, we spoke equally the dictates of sober reflection,
and the language of indignant feeling ; our judgment was in
concord with our ardour ; we declared ourselves ready to meet
the difficulty in its fullest extent, and prepared to support our
resolution at every extremity. I wish to be understood, there-
fore, that it is upon these principles, that the plan which I am
now about to explain is founded. I know that it is upon these
principles, that parliament and the nation have pledged them-
selves to act ; by these principles, and these only, the measures
which are to be submitted to your consideration have. been
framed, arid it is upon these principles that their propriety ought
to be judged.

Before I proceed to enter more largely into the principles of
the plan -which it is my intention to propose, I shall briefly take


510 MR. PrIT§ L Nov. 21,
a view of the amount of the expenses for which it will be ne-
cessary to provide, These I shall state under the usual heads,
avoiding in the present stage of the business, all minute details,
and considering only the amount of the supplies which will be

I shalbegin, then, with the.sums that will be necessary for
the service of the navy. The committee will recollect that
there has already been voted for this branch the sum of
12,539,0001. It will likewise be recollected, that the estimates
of the present year have been made out in a new form, intended,
with greater correctness than formerly, to present a full view of
all the ex pense that would be necessary. Instead of the former
allowance of 41. per month, which was found to be inadequate,
the full expense has been taken into view. Even in their present
shape the estimates are not to be considered as so accurate as to
exclude the possibility of any excess. All that can be said is,
that they are now more likely than at any former period to include
the whole of the expense which this branch of the service may
demand. The amount voted, then, for this article is 12,539,0001.
It is unnecessaryhere to specify the different heads of this branch ;
all that is requisite is, to point out the whole of the expense
which we are called upon to devise measures to supply. Besides
this sum, there will be a sum of navy debt, owing to the excess
of last year above the estimate, amounting to three millions.
This, however, will form no part of the expense for MIA it
will now be requisite to make a cash provision. It will only be
requisite to provide a sum equal to the interest; and in the pre-
sent state of the funds, that provision cannot be calculated at
less than 250,000/. By a regulation adopted last year to prevent
the depreciation of navy and exchequer bills, by providing that
the period of payment should never be very distant from their
date, there will be on their monthly issue of 500,0001. a floating
debt of 1,500,0001. to be funded, arising out of the excess of the
estimates fir the year 1797. There will likewise be a similar
sum of 1,500,0001. falling due in the year 1799; but for these
no cask provision will be necessary, nor are they included in the-


supplies to be raised- The sum of 12,539,000/. is all that enters,
into the account of the supplies under this branch for the ensuing.

The expense for the army, excepting only barracks and extra--
ordinaries, has likewise been voted. What the amount of the
extraordinaries will be, it is impossible to ascertain ; but so far
as can be collected from the bills already drawn, this article may
be taken at four millions besides the vote of credit, making an
excess of about 1,300,000/. at the end of the year.

In judging of the probable amount of the demands of this
branch of service for the year 1798, it will be seen that there is
no prospect of increase at home ; that the situation of the war.
abroad promises to admit of a diminution ; and that from the
general state of affairs, many of the causes, which contributed
to swell the extraordinaries of the.army, cease to operate. The
amount of the extraordinaries, then, may. be taken at 2,500,0001.
The charge on the head of barracks may be estimated at 400,000/.
The expense of guards and garrisons, and the general articles.
included under this head, has already been voted, amounting
to 10,112,000/. The ordnance may be taken at 1,300,0001. ;
and the various articles of miscellaneous service may be rated at
673,000/. There remain only two articles to be noticed, the
sum of 200,0001. appropriated for the reduction of the national
debt, and about 680,000/. arising from deficiencies of grants.
From the whole, then, the committee will see, that the sum now
to be provided for amounts to about twenty-five millions and a
halt. Supposing the statements under the head of the army and.
navy to be correct, the expense on these branches will be re-
duced to the extent of two millions and a half; and, including
the reduction on the head' of extraordinaries, the saving uponn
the whole will amount to the sum of 6,700,0001..

Notwithstanding this diminution, however ; there still remains
the sum of twenty-five millions and a half to be provided.for, as
the supplies of the ensuing year. Before I proceed to explain,
the general plan proposed for covering this expense, I shall state

• MR: PITT'S [Nov. 24:

the usual articles which compose part of the annual ways and

These are the growing produce of the consolidated fund, and
the land and malt. The former I shall take, along with the pro-
fit on the lottery, at so very small a sum as 700,0001., making
with the land and malt the sum of three millions and a half.
There still remains, however, the sum of twenty-two millions to
be supplied by some other means. The mode by which this sum
is to be raised, forms the great object of consideration. The re-
duction upon the head of naval and military establishment does,
indeed, amount to a very considerable saving. The committee
will see with satisfaction that their expenses admit of a diminution
below what was necessary in some former periods of the war.
Pleasing as this circumstance certainly is, I will not disguise,
however, that after the sums which have already been added to
the national debt, after the burdens which have already been
imposed, to raise so large a sum as twenty-two millions is no
light matter. But the difficulty is to be examined with a firm
determination to exert every effort which the magnitude of the
occasion demands, with a firm determination to produce the
means by which the struggle is to be supported with vigour and
Frith effect, so long as these continue to be the only course by
which we can maintain our national honour, and secure our
national safety. After this decided resolution, to render these
supplies effective, the next point to be considered is the mode
by which the expense is to be defrayed, without danger to the
sources of our prosperity, and without inconvenience to those
who may be called upon to contribute.

Before I enter into the statement of that plan by which it is
proposed to meet a considerable part of this expense in a manner
rather new in our more recent financial operations, I shall men-
tion one of the intended supplies which, under the restriction
with which it will be guarded, I am disposed to think will be
viewed as altogether unexceptionable. After what I have heard
from some gentlemen on former discussions, I cannot expect


that the measure to which I allude will encounter no opposition ;
but I am pretty confident that though not universal, the appro-
bation which it will receive will be very general. This measure,
however, is considerably different from that which some gentle-
men conceive. I propose that towards the supplies the bank shall
make an advance to government. The sum which it is in con-
templation thus to raise is neither very large in itself, nor will it
be made in such a shape as to deprive the bank of the certainty
of repayment within a short period, if it shall be considered
expedient to take off the restriction on payment in cash. That
under all the circumstances of our present situation that restric-
tion is necessary, I cannot entertain a doubt. I confess, that,
while the war continues in its present shape, it is my decided
opinion that it would be unwise to discontinue that restriction.
If, however, any unforeseen events of the war, or if the return
.of peace should supersede that necessity, the advances, which. it
is proposed should be made by the bank, are to be upon such
conditions as shall render them available for the payment of their
debt. If such a measure should meet with the approbation of
parliament, the bank will consent to make the advance. If it is
clear, then, that in the present situation of affairs the restriction

is prudent; if, under. the conditions intended to be stipulated with
regard to the manner of repayment, this advance will be attended
with advantage to the public service without any detriment to the
bank, I am at a loss to discover why we should decline an accom-
modation which, in the present circumstances of the country,
would prove so material a relief. The sum of three millions,
then, the bank will agree to advance on exchequer bills, to be
repaid at a short period, capable of being prolonged if nothing
occur to render that extension inexpedient, but still claimable
by the bank if any change in their affairs shall render it

There now remains to be supplied the sum of nineteen mil-
lions. According to the received system of pur financial opera-
tions, the natural and ordinary mode of providing this . sum would
be by a loan. I know that, notwithstanding the magnitude of



.344 MR. PITT'S


the debtalready accumulated, resources are still left for supplying
the public service by this means. I admit the funding system,
which has been so long the established mode of supplying the
public wants, though I cannot but regret the extent to which it
has been carried, is not yet exhausted. If we look, however,
at the general diffusion of wealth, and the great accumulation of
capital ; above all, if we consider the hopes which the enemy
have conceived of wearying us out by the embarrassments of the
funding system, we shall find that the true mode of preparing
ourselves to maintain the contest with effect and success, is to
reduce the advantages which the funding system is calculated to
afford within due limits, and to prevent the depreciation of our
national securities. We ought t• consider how far the efforts
we shall exert to preserve the blessings we enjoy, will enable us
to transmit the inheritance to posterity unencumbered with those
burdens which would cripple their vigour, which would prevent
them from asserting that rank in the scale of nations which their

cestors so long and so gloriously maintained. It is in this point
of view that the subject ought to be considered. Whatever
objections might have been fairly urged against the funding
system in its origin, no man can suppose that, after the form
and shape which it has given to our financial affairs, after the
heavy burdens which it has left behind it, we can now recur to
the notion of raising in one year the whole of the supplies which
a scale of expense, so extensive as ours, must require. If such
a plan is evidently impracticable, some medium, however, may
be found to draw as much advantage from the funding system, as
it is fit, consistently with a clue regard for posterity, to employ;
and at the same time to obviate the evils with which its excess
would be attended. We still may devise some expedient by
which we may contribute to the defence of our own cause, and
to the supply of our own exigencies, by which we may reduce
within equitable limits the accommodation of the funding system,
and lay the foundation of that quick redemption which will
prevent the dangerous consequences of an overgrown aceumn-
lation of our public debt.


Such are the advantages Which the plan I am about to propose.
endeavours to combine. To guard against the accumulation of
the funded debt, and to contribute that share to the support of
the 'struggle in which we are engaged, which our ability will
permit without inconvenience to those who are called upon to
contribute, appears essentially necessary. The great object of
such a practical scheme must be to allot fairly and equally to
every class that portion which each ought to bear. As I have
already stated then, it is my intention to propose, not for your
immediate decision, but for your mature deliberation, the plan
of raising, by a general tax within the year, the sum of seven
millions. I am aware that this sum does far exceed any thing
which has been raised at any former period at one time, but I
trust I have stated sufficient reasons to show that it is a wise and
necessary measure. I am sure that whatever temporary sacri-
fices it may be necessary to make, the committee will feel- that
they can best provide for the ultimate success of the struggle, by
showing that they are determined to he guided by no personal
considerations ; that, while they defend the present blessings they
enjoy, they are not regardless of posterity. If the sacrifices
required be considered in this view ; if they be taken in reference
to the objects for which we contend, and the evils which we are
labouring to avert, great as they may be compared with former
exertions, they must appear very light in the balance.

It will be observed, that there will be twelve millions out of
the eighteen still to be provided for in the way of loan. At pre-
sent I state this circumstance merely in the cursory review I have
taken of the whole supplies. In what manner it will be done
must depend upon the views which the progress of affairs may
afterwards suggest. Certain parts of this sum would probably
be raised on different terms. Whatever part of it might be
covered by the produce of the sinking fund may be borrowed as
permanent debt, providing for its redemption on the same terms
with the other permanent debt ; other parts again may be bor-
roved upon a . much earlier scheme of redemption. But to pro-

coed to the mode. by which it is proposed to raise this sum of
seven millions.

It has been understood for a considerable time that a great
increase of the assessed taxes was in agitation. I shall state the
reasons why this branch of the revenue has been chosen as best
calculated to combine the advantages, which I have already
explained as desirable in the intended plan. The objects to be
attained in the mode of executing this scheme are threefold. One
great point is, that the plan should be diffused as extensively as
possible ; that it should be regulated as thirly and equally as pos-
sible, without the necessity of such an investigation of property
as the customs, the manners, and the pursuits of the people would
render odious and vexatious. That it should exclude those who
are least able to contribute or furnish means of relief; that it
should distinguish the gradation of classes : that it should admit
of those abatements which, in particular instances, it might be
prudent to make in the portion of those who might be liable
under its general principles. I am aware that no measure can be
devised adequately to provide for all these objects in all their
details and in every particular instance. No scheme can be
practically carried into execution, in any financial arrangement,
much more in such a one as the present, with such perfect dis-
positions as to guard against every possible inconvenience, and to
render every individual application unexceptionable. These
general principles, however, must be kept in view in every prac-
tical plan, and the great question in discussion will be, whether any
means of apportioning the extent of the contribution can be
found, better calculated to preserve them entire than the provi-
sions which I propose contain. It will at once occur that the taxes,
known by the name of assessed, include so many objects differ-
ent in their nature, so many objects in the present state of society,
of real necessity, so many of optional use and of luxury, so
diversified by modes and by the state of families, that in general
nothing can afford a better test of expenditure than the way in which
these taxes are combined. One great objection, that the poor


who contribute to the assessed taxes yet may be entitled to be
exempted from such a contribution as the present, will thus be
obviated in a-striking manner. Those who contribute to the
assessed taxes compose a number of about 7 or 800,000 house-
keepers and masters of families, including a population of nearly
four millions, on whom the sum will be raised. Who then are
those who will be entitled to exemption ? Those who already
are not included at all, on account of their poverty, or those
who, for the same reason, arc discharged from payment. Whe-
ther this description includes the artificers and labourers who
have a fair claim to exemption, there_is at least reason to believe,
from the best information that can be collected, that 500,000
housekeepers and masters of families, covering a population of
between two and three millions, are so comprehended. Such is
the extent of the total exemption.

The next object then is, to consider the effect of the contribution
upon those classes on which it would be raised. The assessed taxes,
so far as can be ascertained, amount to a sum of about 2,700,0001.
This sum as collected is levied on about 7 or 800,000 house-
keepers, of whom it is ascertained that. 00;000 do not contribute
more than 150,0001. This, indeed, is a little increased by the late
additions, but in a very small proportion, as these additions
chiefly affect those who belong to the superior classes. The pro-
posed additional assessment, then, upon the whole contributors,
would amount, on the whole sum of the assessed taxes, to some-
thing less than a treble contribution. Why it should be some-
thing less than treble, which would be about eight millions, will be
explained in the sequel. 'When we see that 4.00,000 householders
contribute only 150,0001. we shall see how small a part of the
additional share will fall upon those who are most entitled to
mitigation. In this extensive apportionment, too, we shall dis-
cover the modifications which it may be necessary to make, and
the means to adapt it to the ability of the contributors. The
assessed taxes obviouslydivide themselves into two classes. Those
which in a great measure applied to inhabited houses, consisted of
three duties; that which was known by the name of the old duty,

-S 46 MR. PITT'S (Nov. 24.

[Nov. 24,

the window duty, and tile commutation duty, first imposed last

and regulated in 1788 : and of the different per cents.
since imposed, which may amount to about 1,400,0001. out of
two millions and a•half. In this both the high and the low
classes were included ; but among the latter, 400,000 contri-
buted only 150,000/. The other consists of optional consump-
tions and luxury — the duty on servants, carriages, horses for
pleasure, and that class of horses employed in agriculture, the
proprietors of whom, in the present state of the country, one of
the most opulent classes which it contains, could not be injured
by such an addition to the moderate rate which is now paid. It
will readily occur that, where there are houses which do not con-
tribute for the optional, or class of luxury, there the inhabitant
must be best entitled to favour and mitigation. On these, then,
the burden will fall much more lightly than on those, such as
ourselves, and those who contribute to both divisions of the
assessed taxes. There is another distinction likewise which will
increase the facility of applying the relief, which it may be

proper to bestow. The house-tax in the metropolis and
other great towns, is more felt by the inferior classes than it is
felt by the same class in the country. Persons in the same cir-
cumstances of life, who in the country pay only perhaps 21., in
towns may pay three or four times that amount. It is the advan-
tage of this plan then, that it will be in the power of the com-
mittee to make the contribution bear upon those who are best
able to pay, and diminish the burden of those who are best
entitled to relief. It forms another characteristic advantage of
the plan, that the relief which it may be expedient to give to the
poor, will not materially affect the productiveness of the tax.
There is reason to believe, from the best estimate that can be
formed, that not more than 3 or 400,0001. is raised in all the
metropolis. This includes, indeed, all who are entitled to relief,
but it likewise includes all those who are best able to pay. If
great cities and populous towns contain a great number who,
from their poverty, have a claim to exemption, they contain.
likewise a great proportion of the opulent class, who will be


able to contribute in such a manner as to supply what it would
be unfair to exact from the inferior class. Thus the two classes
together will supply what is required without oppression to the
poor, or defalcation of the tax. In this manner, following
the gradations of ability, as they are clearly pointed out by the
profits of voluntary or luxurious contribution, and the claims
to relief; as they are ascertained by the nature of the taxes
which individuals already pay, the full amount will be fairly
collected, and the burden justly distributed. In this way the
first class of contribution will, on the whole, double the amount
of what is already paid, though in some cases it may be more
than double, in others considerably less. In this way 2,800,000/.
may be obtained. Upon that class which comprehends the taxes
on servants, pleasure horses, carriages, &c. it is proposed to
treble the assessment. In the higher classes, where the quantity
of assessed taxes may be considered as a fair criterion of opu-
lence, the rate of contribution may in some cases be an addition
of three and a-half, and even, in the highest class of all, a
quadruple of the present tax.

On the second description, there may be obtained about
3,900,000/. at the treble rate. Allowing 500,0001. for the
highest class, the produce with the '2,800,0001. for the first class,
makes more than 7,000,000/. If it were trebled on the whole,
the produce would be more than 8,000,0001. ; but it will now be
sufficiently understood, that, from the modifications which it will
be expedient to introduce, in many cases, instead of double there
will not be one rate, in some not one half-rate, and others still
less, to be exacted. Thus, from the treble allotment, there will
be nearly one million to be divided in modification to alleviate
the burdens of those whom it may be wise to exempt. In this
manner each class will mutually contribute to the relief of those
who are unable to sustain an additional burden, and the 400,000
who now pay so small a proportion will continue to be protected
from any severe exaction by the extent which the tax will receive
from the more opulent class of contributors.

Thus the advantage of such an arrangement will allow

350 M R. RUTS [Nov. 21.
sufficient latitude of relief where relief should be given without
diminishing the productiveness of the tax. It will allow any
exemption to those who have no means, not to those who are
unwilling to contribute ; .of the former there may be many in
number, but little in amount ; of the latter, whatever the
amount may be, I am sure the numbers will be few. I am sure
that there cannot be a large proportionef men in any part of
this country who will be unwilling to concur in those measures
which are felt so necessary for the public safety, or who can
refuse to contribute a part of their property for the preservation
of all they possess. In such a cause no man can find the extent
of his contribution limited, but by the extent of his ability. In
every class where the means exceed the actual necessity ; in
every case where the power of contribution exceeds the absolute
demand, no man can surely be so unmindful of the duties he owes
to his country, no man can be so blind to the interests he has to
preserve, as not to feel that he makes the most frugal and gene-
rous option in contributing to defend the society, of which he
forms a component part, and to maintain that station which he
occupies. lain aware that I anticipate the wishes of every man
•who hears me, in thus proposing that the extent-o

• the relief,
which the poor will receive, will be defrayed by the rate of con-
tribution varying with the property and the stake which men

' hold in the country, by attaching upon the same class with our-
selves the additional burdens which the poverty of the lower
classes will improve. In thus affording a proof of the sincerity
of the pledge we have given by our readiness to make the saeri.
fices Which it requires, I feel that I am equally in unison with the
general sentiment of the committee, as with the great principles
of policy and of justice. - Speaking for ourselves, we thus dis-
claim every little jealousy of the extent of the burden we are
called upon to bear. We prove to the world that we are not
limited by this or that contribution: we demonstrate that we
Calculate only the magnitude of the occasion, and consider only
whether the effort be equal to the importance of the demand. I
trust that the exertion will not be deficient, that the contribution

will not be inadequate; but if it were found to be below the
unexampled greatness of the cause, I am sure that the utmost
alacrity would be shown to submit to still greater sacrifices, and
to display more vigorous efforts. We have the satisfaction of
knowing that, however heavy these burdens might be, if per-
manent, yet as temporary sacrifices they are light in the scale
when weighed against this mighty crisis and extremity of defence,
when compared with the horrors we have to shun, and the value
of the blessings we have to preserve. If I am not deceived in
the enquiries I have made, the greatest contribution will not ex-
ceed a tenth of the income of the highest class of those by whom
it.is paid. No man surely will think such a sacrifice too great
for such a cause; he cannot think advantages too dearly pur-
chased, if the effect of our preparation be to discourage the.
extravagant pretensions of the enemy, to dissipate the vain hope's
they have built on our supposed financial embarrassments, to-
animate confidence at home, to confirm the solidity of our power,.
and to maintain the sources of our prosperity.

Having thus explained the general nature of the plan propos-
ed, I must not omit to suggest the precautions which will be
necessary to prevent the contribution from being eluded on the
one hand by a subsequent diminution of establishment, and on the-
other to make provision that a real change of circumstances may
not expose individuals to an oppressive exaction. It is evident,
however, that in order to make the tax productive, it must pro-
ceed on a past, not on a future assessment. For, Sir, every
gentleman must feel, that if for the period this contribution is to
be levied upon the people, the share each individual is to con-
tribute, were to be regulated by future assessments, a great part
of the benefit there is now reason to expect we shall derive from
it, would be frittered away by concealment and evasion, It is,
therefore, my purpose to propose, that not future but past assess-.
ments shall be made the basis of the new contribution ; because
prima facie, the most impartial evidence that can be obtained of
the ability:of each individual to contribute to the exigencies 4)f:
the state, is the-amount of his expenditure of income before he

352 MR. PITT'S

has any temptation to lower it, in order to elude taxation. On
the other hand, Sir, as cases may exist of some, who by . acci-
dental causes are rendered unable to support their . present estab-
lishment; of others, who, having improvidently engaged in
them, repent of their imprudence, and desire to return to a situ-
ation better adapted to their real circumstances ; and of others.
who, though able to pay their present .assessments, can show
themselves, by the proportion they bear to their income, to be
unable to hear the additional weight of the new contributions, it
is my intention, when the whole shall come in detail before the
House, to propose regulations for the relief of such persons, -to
be digested and modified in the best manner which so compli
tateda subject will admit. But while provisions of this kind are
to be made in favour of those upon whom the assessment would
he too severely felt, the House will foresee that it will be impos-
sible, with any regard to the great and important object in view,
to suffer the tax to be evaded, by those who, not deficient in
ability, but wanting in inclination, to contribute to the necessities
of their country, would abandon the establishments to which
they have been accustomed, and diminish their expenditure, in
order to avoid the tax: But if it be found that, in point of fact,
they shall have resigned their establishments from inability to
maintain them ; and if they follow up that resignation with a
declaration to be prescribed. for the purpose, that the increased
assessments would amount to more than a certain proportion, to
be regulated on a future day, of their whole income, then they
shall be entitled to relief. Sir, I am aware, that, though the
House and the nation will, with few exceptions, concur with me
in this, there will not be wanting those who will cavil at'this
mitigating provision, and'allege that it will amount in its effects
to a compulsory disclosure of property ; hut the House will im-
mediately see that it falls short of that, and will view it in its
true aspect, that is to say, as a provision intended to qualify, to
mitigate, or to prevent any severity or injury that may arise to
individuals from the difficulty, or rather the utter impracticability
cif drawing a precise line of demarkation between those who,



on account of the , property they possess are bound, and those
who, from inferior circumstances, are unable to contribute to a
supply for the exigencies of the state: no man can say that such
a provision, coming with the effects of relief, is a hardship; and
I.am sure no man can say that the tax would be efficient without
it. These, Sir, are the outlines of the plan which I mean to offer
to the consideration of the House in more minute detail upon a
future day. "If, when the whole has been e*amined, it shall
meet the concurrence of, and be adopted by, the House, it will.
be found disengaged from many difficulties, embarrassments,
and expenses, that lie in the way of other modes of taxation ;
for, Sir, the execution of it will entirely depend upon laws
now existing, laws long in force, laws familiar .to those who
will be the objects of its provisions. To enforce it, no new
power will be delegated, no new office created, no new expenses

Sir, I am aware that in contemplating a system of finance
which professes to make property the basis of its assessments, and
to be as diffusively, as generally, and as equally, levied as circum-
stances will admit, an idea will naturally suggest itself to every
one, as it has to myself— I meaty that assessed taxes, however
differently apportioned to the circumstances of different persons,
and however certainly they may attach on persons of opposite
descriptions, are often eluded by a particular description of men
of large property ; you will see I mean those men who possess
large capitals, and who, by denying themselves many of the
enjoyments of life, hoard up money, and exclude themselves'
from assessment. How much this applies to the subject in con-
sideration I will not now discuss, since it certainly applies 'no
more to this than to a former mode of taxation ; for I know no
act to make property. the subject of taxation, while it is not ren-
dered conducive to the pleasure or convenience, or rendered visi-
ble by the optional expenditure of the person who possesses it.
If this objection has never stood in the way of taxation before, I
am at' a loss to suppose how it can be made an objection to this,
and shall be extremely obliged to any gentleman'who will point


354 MR. PITT'S
[Nov. 24.

out a mode by which property so held in hand can be subjected to
taxation or assessment. The proportion this class of individuals
bears to the mass of the taxable part of the nation, is not suffi-
ciently great to add any weight to the objection if it were made;
and I submit it to the feelings and wisdom of the committee,
whether, in a case of urgency and importance like the present,
nine-tenths of the community shall refuse to contribute to the
support, the preservation, the existence, of the state, because no
means can be found to compel the remaining tenth to contribute
also. Undoubtedly if it be now necessary to make great contri-
butions instead of incurring a large mass of new debt, and if that
be the best mode of carrying on the war, it would be greatly
advantageous to be able to get at some mode of assessing all pro-
perty in all individuals ; and so far it is to be lamented that the
description of people of which I speak cannot be made subject
to an _assessment. But if, on the , other hand, we can flatter
ourselves, as I own I do, with the hopes of being relieved some-
time from that necessity, then, even though the hoards of the
penurious elude our search, it by no means follows that the
nation will receive no profit from them; for, on a general plan,
though utterly inactive in the expenditure of the possessors, they
become active in some other shape, or in other hands, .and
always find their level in the course of successive ages : so that
though the scrutiny to pry into wealth may for a time be baffled.
the effects of that scrutiny never fail to be produced by time,. If,
however, I saw the means, or could suppose that means might'
be devised, by which such capitals .could be made productive
and useful to the state in way of revenue, I do assure the com-
mittee I should consider it an object too important at this time-to
be neglected ; though I still consider them as making a part of
.the strength of the country upon the average principles of general
resources. Yet, Sir, we might flatter ourselves that, independent
of that compulsory power which the condition of such pro-
perty denies us, a due proportion of it would, at least in some
cases, be forthcoming at the solicitation of self-interest and self-.
defence ; for if this is a time, as I contend it is, when the people


of this country are called upon not to contemplate their wealth
only for its enjoyment, not to indulge in prejudices, or opinions,
or in doubtful speculations., but to take measures for the pre-
servation of their existence now, and their security in future,
and that for this purpose we are calling for money, not to be
raised by loan with interest, to remain a heavy burden on those
who are to follow us, but by demand on capital, then ought the
hoards of the penurious to be opened; then should those who,
devoted to accumulation by ignorance of enjoyment, and early
habits of frugality, have arisen from the lower rank and meanest
employments, by rigid frugality and indefatigable industry,
protected, fostered, and encouraged, by that happy system of
government, and those equal laws, which enabled them and per-
mits any man to emerge from the bottom to the top of society,
and who, in contemplating their possessions, can scarcely have a
hope but that of transmitting to their posterity those blessings
and comforts they deny themselves— then ought they, I say, for
the recollection of the benefits they have received, and for the
sake of those to which they look forward, to consider themselves
above all men bound to come forward, in defence of that system
which afforded encouragement to their labours, nurture to their
industry, vigour to their pursuits, and protection to their per-
sons, their property, and their acquisitions ; then ought such
men to reflect, if they have the means, that this is the occasion
on which they should come forward; then ought they, who have
an interest so great in the country, to see that though it is im-
practicable to compel them, it is at least necessary for them to
contribute, and that the necessity of the times is the most urgent,
as well as the best of all compulsions; and come forward, not
only uncompelled, but unsolicited, to offer their contribution.
That some will have this feeling, and act upon it, I will not
doubt—that. all will do so, I am not so sanguine as to expect ;
but though they should neither come . forward voluntarily, nor
be subject to coercion, that can hardly be stated as an objection
to the plan, unless something more =exceptionable can he pre-
sented in its place.

A A 2


[Nov. 24.

Then, Sir, there remains another, and a leading consideration.
I have already stated the grounds on which I build my plan for
raising seven millions of the nineteen that are necessary for the
supply of the year. This leaves, as I have before mentioned, a
stun of twelve millions to be raised by loan. And here a point. •
separate, indeed, in its nature, but not less important in its
consequences, properly claims your attention. I have stated
that the sum of seven millions, to be levied in a direct way fw
increased assessments, is intended to make the quantum of the
loan more moderate. But I shall now state another principle
which would lay the security, the credit, the efficient powers.
and the resources of the country on a firm and immovable
foundation— a principle that will tend not to effect a diminution
of our burdens for the present, but to prevent an accumulation
of them for the future. The House will recollect that, by means
of the sinking fund, we had advanced far in the reduction of
the national debt previous to the loans necessarily made in the
present war, and every year was attended with such accelerated
salutary effects as outran the most sanguine calculation. But
having done so, we have yet far to go as things are circum-
stanced, if the reduction of the debt be confined to the operations
of that fund, and the expenses of the war continue to impede our
plans of economy: we shall have far to go before the operation
of that fund, even under the influence of peace, can he expected
to counteract the effects of the war. Yet there are mea4s by
which, I am confident, it would be practicable in not many
years to restore our resources, and put the country in a state
equal to all exigencies. It is impossible, Sir, but we must
feel ourselves bound by duty, if we wanted the encouragement
of success, to . proceed in the business, and to complete the
work which has already had so much success, and even to
provide, if it shall be found expedient or necessary, for more
rapidly accomplishing that desirable object. Not only, Sir, do
I think that the principle is wise, and the attempt practicable,
to provide large supplies out of the direct taxes of the year,
but I conceive it to be equally wise, and not less practicable,


to make provision for the amount of the debt incurred and
funded in the same year ; and if the necessity of carrying on the
war shall entail upon us the necessity of contracting another
debt, the principle I have in view is such, that, with the
assistance of the sinking-fund to co-operate, we shall not
owe more than at the beginning. I cannot, indeed, take upon
me to say, that the war will not stop the progress of the plan
of liquidation ; but if the means to which I look be adopted,
t will leave us at least stationary— it will leave us where we

; and besides the salutary influence it will have upon our
credit and resources at home, it will produce the happy effect
of demonstrating to the enemy, that, whatever the nature of
the contest may be, or whatever its duration, our strength is
undiminished, our resources unexhausted, and our general
situation unimpaired ; that, the hopes they entertain of destroy-
ing the country through the medium of its finance are as vain
as their designs are wicked ; and that, whatever measures
they may think proper to adopt against this country, they Will
find us not at all disabled for the contest. But, Sir, it is neces-
sary for me to be more explicit ; and I will endeavour to
make the point appear as clear to the House as it now appears
to me.
- If I must borrow twelve millions, four of those may be bor-

rowed without making any additional debt ; for the sinking-fund
will pay so much. There then will remain eight millions, which
would be an additional permanent capital if suffered to be
funded : for these eight millions, therefore, I would make a
different provision, that is to say, I would propose that the in-
creased assessed taxes, the plan of which. I have already laid
before the House, be continued till the principal and interest be
completely discharged ; so that, after seven millions have been
raised for this year, the same taxes in one year more, .with the
additional aid of the sinking-fund, will pay off all that principal
and intermediate interest. My proposition, therefore, if carried
into effect, would not only furnish a current supplyebut quicken
the redemption of the national debt, without bearing harder on,

A A 3

MR. PITT'S [Nov. 24.

the people than they can conveniently sustain. This would
speak a language to all Europe; this would speak a language to
the enemy, that, by cooling the ardour of their expectations, and
showing them the absurdity of their designs, will afford the best
chance of shortening the duration of the war, and of lessening
the duration and weight of our taxes. If you- feel yourselves
equal to this exertion, its effects will not be confined merely to
the benefits I have stated in the way of general policy, and in a
successful determination of the contest, but will go farther ; it
will go to the exoneration of the nation from increased burdens,
and to the relief of those who are to follow us from the weight
of the expenses of a war, waged in defence of a system which
we have received from our progenitors in trust to be transmitted
entire to our successors. Unless you feel you have a right to
expect, that by less exertion you will be equally secure, and
indulge the supposition that, by stopping short of this effort, you
Will produce a successful termination of the war, you must set
aside all apprehensions of the present pressure, and, by vigorous
exertion, endeavour to secure your future stability, the happy
effects of which, I pledge myself, will soon be seen and ac-
knowledged. I am aware that it will be said, (for it has often
been said,) and I agree to it., that it would be fortunate if the
practice of funding had never been introduced ; and that it is
not terminated is much to be lamented ; but if we are arrived at
a moment which requires a change of system., it is some qn-
coura.gement for us to look forward to benefits, which, on all
former occasions, have been unknown, because the means of
obtaining them were neglected.

If, Sir, the whole sum be provided for in the manner I pro.
pose, instead of being funded, the advantages will be greater
than those who have not been at the trouble to calculate it can
suppose. In. the mode I propose, the whole, with the interest
on it, will amount to no more than sixteen millions ; raise that
sum, and you and your posterity are completely exonerated from
it; but if, on the contrary, you will fund, it will entail an
annual tribute of 150,000/. for forty years, which makes a



difference of not less than forty millions to those who are to fol-
low you. These are the principles, this is the language, this
the conduct fit for men legislating for a country, that, from its
situation, its constitution, and its natural strength, bears the
fairest title of any in Europe to perpetuity. You should look
to distant benefits, and not work in the narrow circumscribed
sphere of short-sighted, selfish politicians. You should put to
yourselves this question, the only one now to be considered

Shall we sacrifice, or shall we save to our posterity, a sum
o. fs between forty and fifty millions sterling?" And above all,
you should consider the important effect such firm and dignified
conduct will have in the progress and termination of the pre-
sent contest which may, without exaggeration, be said to involve
every thing dear to yourselves, and to include in it the fate of

our posterity.
The House will now judge how far I have succeeded in finding

a criterion by which to mark out the distinctions and the pro-
portions in the taxes I have proposed. They will decide how
far I have succeeded in accommodating the different rates of in-
crease to the circumstances of the different classes of society:
they will determine whether I have given a plan that affords
sufficient modifications, and just mitigations of the severity of
the imposts. If there be any thing defective, I wish to supply
it ; if there be any thing erroneous, I am desirous to rectify it ;
if I have exceeded, I am willing to retrench: it is a measure

- of unprecedented importance, and it must be my anxious desire
to be correct in it. I therefore court investigation— but I ear-
nestly hope there will be no difference of opinion in the House,
as to the principle upon which the measure is founded. As I
have not been able to find, in any man of any party, a trace of
doubt as to the sufficiency of our resources, I think I have a

' right to assume that there can- be no difference as to our right to
employ them ; at least .1 can say that I have not heard a word of
any avowed difference on that point in any corner of the
country. Attested thus, I have produced a state of resources

A A 4.

360 MR. PITT'S
[Nov. 24.

unimpaired even by this wasteful war ; on any other account
no difference can possibly arise upon this day. In the interval
between this and the day on which I shall finally bring this
subject before you, I will receive with attention any observa-
tions that gentlemen may please to suggest ; anti I hope all will
agree with me, that the question for consideration is ndt,
whether the burdens proposed are heavy or unprecedented, but
whether there is any option left to. us —whether they are .not
dictated by unavoidable necessity, and whether any, better
adapted to the circumstances of. the country, can be devised to
supply their places ?

Sir, having said so much, I will not follow it up with particu-
lars, but move a resolution conformable to the general design I
have laid before the committee ; and I will postpone the parti-
cular parts of the plan to another day — the earliest that circum-
stances will allow.

He then moved the following resolution, which was agreed -

" That it is the opinion of this committee, that there shall
be paid a duty, not exceeding treble the amount of the duties
imposed by several acts of parliament now in force, on houses
and windows and inhabited houses, by the 6th, 19th, 24th, and
27th Geo. III. and likewise the several additional duties of ten
per cent. per annum, imposed thereon by several acts of parlia-
ment, with certain exceptions and abatements."

Mr. Tierney rose next; and, after going over the various calculations
of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and inferring from thence- the
declining state of the national resources, he declared, that, with the
present administration, lie held it impossible that this country could
have peace. The right honourable gentleman, he affirmed, wanted the
requisites to bring about a peace; he possessed not the confidence and
respect either of France, or of any of the European powers.

Mr. PIT T replied:


I shall' endeavour to follow the honourable gentleman who has
just sat down, in some of the observations he has thought proper
to make. Knowing, as I do, the ingenuity of that gentleman,
and recollecting .his declaration in this House some time since :
knowing that he stands pledged to give His Majesty's present'
ministers every opposition in his power— when I compare that
declaration, and apply it to his speed' to-night, a speech cer-
tainly not destitute of ingenuity or of preparation, I own I am
a little at a loss to find in him that consistency for which he
expects to_ obtain credit, as a man wishing for nothing so much •
aS• the welfare of his country. Whatever may be thought of
the speech of the honourable gentleman, 'either by the public or
by his own constituents, I shall observe upon parts of his speech


as they appear to me. I will endeavour to follow him in
his direct and his collateral topics ; in some which were cer-
tainly not direct, and in others that I cannot say were collateral,
because they had no reference to the subjects now before the,
committee, either collaterally or otherwise. He begins by corn-
plaining - of excess, and he comments on the navy estimates, in
which his Teal has misled hint. He talks of three milllions, and.
a million and a half; as sums I took credit for whereas I stated
the whole sum to which he referred in this part of his speech
would be three millions, and that I should provide for half of
them by bills, and that a million and a half 'of them should be
outstanding. But he then, goes on to state, that I made a mis-
take of three millions upon the statement of navy extraordinaries.
Gentlemen assert things that have no foundation any where but
in their own fancy, and they repeat them so often, and with so
much confidence, that at last they become the dupes of their
own artifice, and believe these assertions themselves. Be it
remembered, however, that in the course of every session since
the war began, I have, on every occasion, stated that the nature
of such extensive transactions, as those of the army and navy,
was such as to render accuracy in the estimate unattainable.

do not pretend to it at any time, but I always do my utmost to

362 MR. PITT'S [Nov. 24,.
approach it, and I do aver that there never was at any time of
war more attention paid, Man in the whole course of this, to
prevent excesses beyond the estimate. True it is, you have had
more excesses in this than in-any other war, nor is it marvellous,
for it is a war of a different kind, and of a more complicated
nature than any other you were ever before engaged in. But the
honourable gentleman, in his public zeal to detect the fallacy of
my statements, assures' the committee, that, in stating the sum
of five millions upon the article of the navy, I have committed
an error of three millions. This' he states as being the excess
upon one article, which amounts, I own, to only five-millions :
but the excess fairly applies to the whole sum of seventeen
millions, of which these five were a part ; and instead of taking
the whole and considering that excess as applying to the whole,
he applies it to one part, merely because the whole of the sum
was voted by separate votes on different heads, and compares
that excess with one branch of the whole. I shall say no more
than that I leave the committee to judge of the fairness of such
a mode of reasoning.

The honourable gentleman says, I do not now speak with
confidence on the produce of the taxes, and yet he allows the
revenue to be flourishing, in which too, it seems, he rejoices. He
says I have put into the mouth of the King what has riot been
uttered out of my own this night. Nothing has been said by
me upon that subject to-night — I mean upon the flourishing
state of our revenue. No, Sir, it is not out of my mouth that
expression came to-night, and which the honourable gentleman
censures me for omitting, but out of his own ; and when the
honourable gentleman thinks he sees a smile from this side of the
House, he magnifies it into a horse-laugh in consequence of what
he advances. I am afraid he gives credit to some part of the
House for more attention than they deserve. All these consider-
ations induce me to suspect, that, if Phad stated many things
which he expected me to state concerning the prosperity of the
country, he was prepared with a long speech to contradict me


upon that head. He went into a detail of the revenue in 1796
and 1797, from which the committee is to derive nothing but a
very desponding inference. For the future powers of this coun-
try are, according to his deductions, to be very feeble. He is
not, however, bound to abide by these sentiments; and as he says
he will take a view of the subject, and mature his judgment
for the discussion of it in future, I hope a minute attention to
it will alter his opinion. He has told us that the accounts are
not yet before us. In this his vigilance has been eluded, for the
documents necessary for the purpose are now upon your table,
and by which, if he condescends to peruse them, he will find that
the report of the committee of .finance, and which holds out to
us a prospect so flattering, is entirely justified. The honourable
gentleman dwelt for some time on the produce of the wine duty,
and that of the Scotch distillery, and infers that they will not
'answer the estimate; in which inference he is too rapid, for nei-
ther of which has hitherto found its level. These points I merely
touch incidentally, not meaning to argue them now, that being
foreign to the leading purpose of this night's discussion, and.
of which there is to be a detailed discussion hereafter.

The next,point to which the honourable gentleman refers, is the
subject of the advance from the bank to government. Upon this
the honourable gentleman has indulged in a species of eloquence,
which is almost as new to him, as is his congratulation on the pros-
perity of this country. He says that this resembles the system
which was adopted in France, and leads to the despotism which,
under the name of liberty, is carried on there. What-similarity
there is between the limited and voluntary advances of the bank,
to an amount which would he shortly repaid, and the depreciated
millions and milliards of the French government, I leave to him,
and to those who are now convinced with him of the rapacity of
that system, and who have so lately thought it prudent to declaim
against the French system, to discover. He says that this is a dan-
gerous connection between the government and the bank ; and
he states the sum of three millions to be of an enormous amount

MR. PITT'S [ No v. 24.

for the bank to advance to government. He had forgot, not to
say he never knew, for to a gentleman of so much research,
that would be an extravagant supposition ; but be seems to have
forgotten, that the advances of the bank to government have never
been less during the present war, 'than they are now proposed
to be, under the very special nature and extraordinary circum-
stances of the present war. I ask, then, what does the honourable
gentleman mean by saying that this is a dangerous connection
between government and the hank? Does he mean to say that the
restriction on the bank ought no longer to continue ? If he does
not, I maintain that it is no dangerous connection whatever,
since it will be of no inconvenience to the public while the
restriction continues, for the public security is precisely the
same as if this advance was not made by the bank at all.

But it seems the honourable gentleman could not face his con-
stituents; that they would ask him, where he was when such a
measure was- proposed ? [Where my tongue was, said Mr. Tier-
ney.] It is not very material, Sir, which, as I should suppose
where the honourable gentleman is, there his tongue must be
also. He says that the measure is of such an alarming nature,
that the sense of the House ought to be taken upon it at once;
he says that I have a great desire to impose upon the House, and
that I distrust my case. I have heard, Sir, that great eagerness
for the dispatch of business is sometimes evidence that the party
bringing it forward has some distrust of it; but that I should
propose a plan that would give him time to prepare a speech, 'is
an instance of distrust, which, considering the extent of his in-
ingenuity, I could hardly have expected to be accused of. I can-
not help thinking, that it is a little extraordinary he should first
tell me that the measure I propose is unprecedented, and then
tell me I am to blame for offering to the House time to come to
a decision upon it, instead of calling for a decision immediately.

The honourable gentleman then tells us that this is a plan
which cannot.be effectual in the hands of Majesty's present
ministers, for that they are not qualified to carry it into effects

That there may be, and are, in his opinion, others better quali-
fied, I have no doubt, and I have as little doubt that he would
be ready to propose them if' it depended upon him : but if his
objections go against the man, it is hardly fair, upon that ground,
to call upon the House to reject the measure. It seems I am not
the person to make any proposals of' this kind to the House.
Why am I not the man ? The question is, not who proposes the
measure, but. whether the measure ought to be adopted ? But
when the honourable gentleman comes to argue the question in
that sense, and when he comes to lay before you the unexampled
profusion of which he says I am the profligate author, I hope he
will condescend to take in view the extent of the service for

. which we have had to provide, its extraordinary nature and
character, as well as the great expense with which it has been
attended, without forgetting the dearness of all the articles of
provision, and various other things, at which it is not necessary
at this moment to glance ; but. above all, at the extraordinary
-efforts, and corresponding expense.

But there is another part of the speech of the honourable gen-
tleman, which contains an important objection to my continuing
in the official situation in which I now stand, because, he says,
while I remain in that situation, this country cannot have peace.
If he thinks so, that is a good reason for his moving an address
to remove me. Supposing this House to agree to that motion,
there is no reason, I presume, why this House should not take
care of the interests of the public, and still more why, supposing
them to have no objection to the measure now before them, they
should not agree to it. But there is a reason for apprehending
that this country cannot have peace while I and my colleagues
continue in office. Why cannot this country have peace while
we continue in office? Because, in truth, we have not the confi-
dence 9fs the enemy. Sir, we cannot have the confidence of the
enemy. The confidence of the enemy ! No, Sir, that is im-
possible! We are not entering into the spirit of their rules, we
are not disposed to promote their principles ; we do not wish to
imitate their system; we do not think it practical in England,

366 MR. PITT'S [Nov. 24.
however it may be made the subject. of applause by those who
favour it in their hearts, and, for the purpose of opposing Eng-
land's true interest, the occasional theme of vindictive declama-
tion, while it is wished that their principles should be adopted
which principles have been admired, and occasionally extolled,

. since the commencement of the revolution, by those who have
opposed us. If the only claim to the support of the honourable
gentleman in the prosecution of the war is, to deserve the con-
fidence of the enemy; if it is necessary to admire the French re-
volution, which has been the root of all the evils of the present
contest ; if it is necessary to have asserted the justice of the ene-
my's cause ; if the exertions of the war are to be entrusted- to
those who have, from the commencement of the contest, thwarted
its prosecution, then, indeed, I am glad that we have not the
vote of the honourable gentleman in our favour.

But the honourable gentleman says again, that there is no
confidence in us in any part of Europe, and he proves it by show-
ing that all our allies have deserted us, and kept none of their
engagements. This argument, if' true, might go a good way
towards sp ewing that we ought to have no confidence in them ;
but until he shews some instances of our want of good faith, I
apprehend it does not prove that they have ,

no confidence in us,.
and proves pretty nearly as much, as the argument that it is ne-
cessary that I ought to .

possess the confidence of His Majesty's
enemies in Prance.

I think I am entitled-now, in my turn, since the honourable
gentleman has opposed the whole system of the plan which I
have proposed, and especially as he is so much, and as it were
exclusively, the friend of his Country, to ask him, whether he has
a better, or any in ha stead-?=for he has stated none. Perhaps he
has not-had time• to digest a-proper-plan ; if he has any in con-
templation, -he cannot fairly object to the proposal which I make
now, since he- is to have time to prepare his own, which I trust
will be much-better. But the honourable gentleman says, that

this plan -should have been brought forward at all, it should
have:be-en brought forward much-sooner. He acknowledges that


in cases of great danger, great efforts ought to be made. Now,
I think that in our former situation we were not in so much dan-
ger as we are at present, if we do not make great resistance; and
therefore 'it appears to me to be more sensible to make great
efforts in time when they are necessary, than to make them when
the circumstances of the time do not call for them, especially
when by your financial operations, you are likely to bring the
contest to a happy termination. But the honourable gentleman
says, that this plan is to shew that we are at the end of our re-
sources. If he thought so, he might have spared himself the
trouble of pronouncing a panegyric upon these resources in the
course of his speech this night. The honourable gentleman
says, that this plan shews to the world that we are at the end of
our funding-system. The manner in which persons possessed of
capital in different parts of the country have acted, in investing
their property in your funds, is no proof that monied men think
so ; but proves, on the contrary, the confidence they have in
your resources, and proves also, that wealth is generally diffused
all over the country. This wealth is manifested in the improve-
ment of your agriculture, in your buildings, in your canals, in
your inclosures all these, I say, prove that you possess at this
moment the confidence of monied men, that there is at this
moment more wealth than there was at any former period in
this Country.

The resolution was agreed to, and a day was fixed for taking the
several propositions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer into further

December 14. 1797.

ON a motion for the second reading of the bill for increasing the as.
sessed taxes; a long and animated discussion took place,

[Dix. 14.

After Mr.Fox had delivered his sentiments in reprobation of the mea-
sure, Mr. PITT rose:—

Before I proceed to make any remark upon the wide va-
riety of topics which the honourable gentlemen upon the
other side of the House have introduced, I shall just advert
to the last point on which the right honourable gentleman in-
sisted. The other parts of his speech were directed against the
whole of the measure in substance, but in the latter part he se-
parately urged the propriety of delay. The right honourable
gentleman founds this argument for delay upon the agitation
which this question has excited in the public mind, and the ob-
jections to which the measure is liable in its application to a
great number of his constituents. I am aware, that in all great
towns;particularly in the metropolis, the objections will be felt
with peculiar force ; but at the same time I am sensible that in
the provisions of which the bill is susceptible, many modifica-
tions may be expected, many are practicable consistently with
the leading principle of the measure, and many are necessary in
order, as far as possible, to prevent it from bearing hard in par-
ticular instances. I am aware even that greater modifications may
be necessary than appeared to me requisite upon the first consider-
ation of the subject, and when the first imperfect Outline of it was
presented. This, however, does not by any means tend to im-
peach the general principle of the measure. These objections are
capable of modification without defeating the salutary objet,
which it is the purpose of the measure to secure. Instead of feel-
ing these objections as completely destructive of the principle,
every hour's reflection convinces me, that though it is our duty to
enquire in what respects modification May- be proper, how it may
be practicable, how mitigation may be given so as to prevent
any oppressive application of the measure, yet as to the general
necessity of providing for the public safety, and repelling the
danger by which we are threatened, on the -determination we
shall form upon this question after mature discussion depends

Mr. Fox,


whether by the exertions we have pledged ourselves to make,
we shall rescue the country from impending calamity, and lay
the foundation of as 'great a portion of future greatness and pro-
sperity as any nation ever enjoyed, or whether we shall surrender
the dignity of the British nation, and expose to inevitable ruin
the sources of its glory and its power. Feeling as the repre-
sentatives of the people, that it is our duty to provide for these
important and essential objects, we shall be deterred by no diffi-
culties, we shall spare no pains, we shall sacrifice every local
prejudice, every partial.opinion, to a consciousness of the neces,
sity in which we are placed, to make a vigorous exertion.
Feelineas I do that necessity, I know my duty too well not to
persist in what I conceive to be a measure calculated to save the
country from the present danger, and to enable it to struggle
against future attacks. It is our first duty, as guardians, to pro*
vide for its present safety, and to transmit to posterity the bless-
ings which we have enjoyed, and the means of preserving them.
It is by these considerations ,that our conduct ought to be
directed ; it is by these great maxims of policy that the measure
ought tn be judged.

Can we then conceive it our duty, on account of some parti-
cular objections of some alledged hardship of application, to
hang up the bill altogether before its provisions have been dis-
cussed, before its details have been arranged? Must we forego
the opportunity of suggesting the case where the evil would be
felt, of removing prejudice where it exist, and obviating objec-
tions where they are well founded ? Instead of agreeing to any
delay, both in real respect to those who complain of the hard-
ship with which the bill in its present shape would attach, and in
duty to the public, for whose service in this important crisis we
are called upon to provide, we ought to lose no time to examine
the bill with the utmost attention, and see where the pressure
which it would occasion may be. mitigated. What are the parti-
culars and extent of the farther modifications_which it nay still
be- necessary to introduce, it will not be incumbent upon me now
to state. It will be recollected that,. when I first opened the sub-

1." II. 33

MR. PITT'S [DEC. 14.

ject, I stated that, as a visible criterion of income, I preferred
the payment cf the assessed taxes, because it was more compre-
hensive, better calculated to diffuse the burden, and more suscep-
tible of modification in the various classes where it would be
.required, than any other criterion which could be taken. It will
he recollected, not by the honourable gentleman who had
thought it proper to absent himself from his attendance in par-
liament, but it will be recollected by the House, that one great
recommendation of this criterion I stated to be, that the prin-
ciple being still preserved, it furnished greater means of modifi-
cation, more opportunity for providing for the particular cases of
hardships and inconvenience, than any other criterion which
could be adopted. The means of this modification are now in
our power, and we shall but perform our duty to our consti-

*uents, by showing our readiness to consider the inconvenience,
and to apply the remedy. That many modifications are neces-
sary I am aware, and in the committee, both those which I may
propose, and which others may suggest, will be considered. This
I trust will be a sufficient. answer to what fell from a worthy alder-
rnan• at the beginning of the debate. Much as I differ from
that honourable gentleman as to the extent of the abatement, and
the nature of the scale of contribution he proposed, I was glad
to hear the manly and decided manner in which he enforced the
necessity of great exertion, and the propriety of raising a consi=
derable sum, without recurring to the system of funding. I am
convinced that the sentiments he expressed were congenial to
the feelings of a great majority of his constituents and of the
country ; and I could not help remarking the contrast between
the language he held, and the tone of the honourable gentle-
man i on the other side, compared with the sentiments of their
respective-constituents, in the indiscriminate opposition to every
part of the plan, which characterised the speeches of both the
honourable gentlemen.

Having made these observations on the question of delay, I.


Shall proceed shortly to consider some of the other topics on
which the honourable gentlemen insisted. I do not complain of
the wide field of argument which they took up ; I know that in- a
parliamentary sense they were regular : whether they were justi-
fiable in the use they made of this privilege, and whether they
made a proper choice of the topics which they introduced on the
present subject, I shall leave for the House to determine. The
object of this bill shortly is, an extraordinary grant of money for
the support of the war ; it proposes to raise within the year a
certain part of the supplies, by -a tax on income, on the visible
criterion of rite assessed taxes, subject to -modification as . .cir-
cumstances may require. In considering the whole of the case.,
then, the first question that occurs is, whether it is proper,tO
grant any money at all •? Then, whether the principle of raising
a certain part within the year ought to be admitted ? And;
thirdly, whether -by this criterion attaching to income in the.
course of expenditure, the burden would in general be fairly
apportioned ?

As to the first point, whether any money at all ought to be
granted, the honourable gentleman 4 , thongh he did not say so in
very words, by the whole of his argument supposed the negative:',
The right honourable gentleman who spoke last distinctly argued,
that while ministers continued in power, he could not agree to

any supplies being granted. In stating this to have.been their
meaning, 1 ant endeavouring to do justice to their mode of
reasoning. Unless upon this idea, more than three-fourths of'
their observations were irrelevant to the subject now before the
House. If they do not contend that peace cannot be obtained
by the present ministers, that they ought to be dismissed before
any scheme of supply can at all be afit subject for discussion,
the greater part of their argument is quite foreign to the matter
now under consideration.

The right honourable gentleman, while he argues that' my
'honourable friendt considered the majority of the HOuseand His

Mr. Fox. + Alderman Ltribington. f Mr. Fox. Mr. Sheridan. t Mr. Dundas.
nn 2

372 MR. PITT'S [DEC. 14.
Majesty's ministers as, the same, forgets that his honourable

• friend*, when he talked of our going out of our places, did not
address himself to the House, but gave it, as a very friendly
advice no doubt, personally to us. It was expressed with a hope
that we would of ourselves abandon the offices we held, as the
means of obtaining peace. The honourable gentleman then must
settle this inconsistency with his honourable friend beside him.
But before the honourable gentleman, with all his talents, can
demonstrate the propriety of our dismissal, he ought to show
that the nine persons, whom he proposes to pick up between
London and Windsor, will administer the public affairs better
than those by whom they are now administered ; he must bring
forward something more conclusive and more convincing than
any thing he had to offer when the dismissal of ministers was
last discussed, the failure of which attempt had induced him to
quit the service of his constituents, and his despair of success
had -led him to abdicate his public character. If f understand
Mtn right, he considers as preliminary to every measure of public
defence, to every exertion in support of the war, a radical change
is necessary. What the right honourable gentleman means by this
preliminary, expressed in a manner so large and comprehensive,
in terms no less obscure than undefined ; whether a parliamen-
tary reform is to be only a part of this sweeping change ; how this
change of system is to operate as a means of saving the country ;
how this unlimited change is to conduce to the public safety in
preparing exertion and in repelling danger, I am really at a loss
to conceive. In considering the propriety of such a change of
system, or such a preliminary as the introduction of new men
into office, it certainly will be important for the House to ascer-
tain, whether such a change of ministers is calculated to secure
us against the dangers with which we are threatened, whetherit
is calculated to check the ambition of the enemy, and to procure
a peace that will satisfy the honour of the nation, and preserve
tilt: sources of the public wealth and prosperity.

Mr. t5hcridan

But the honourable gentleman says, that the whole tenor of

our language at the beginning of the present contest was, that no
peace could be made with the jacobin republic, and that France
is thus justified in refusing to make peace with the present
administration. At no period of the war did we ever express such
a sentiment, or even entertain the idea that no peace could be
made With republican France. I remember the quotation from
Virgil to which he has alluded, and as far as I can recollect it was
used in one of those debates in which the right honourable gen-
tleman proposed that overtures should be made for peace at a
period when we contended that no security for peace could be
obtained, and that the evils of war were not to he compared to
the inadequate peace which then could have been concluded. 'I he
right honourable gentleman then urged the question, whether no
extremity of danger could induce us to make such overtures? I
then answered, that this must ever be a question of comparison,
that we must decide as circumstances might arise, and at least
we ought to persevere -till our means were -exhausted, till we
could support the contest no longer, and we could say,

Toto certaturn est corpore regni.

The honourable gentleman says, that the meaning of Virgil can-t!
not be explained away, but he seemed to think that Virgil's lan-
guage might be improved. The honourable gentleman urged
the propriety of making overtures even at that period, and con-
tended, as he often bad done, that if reasonable terms of peace
were refused, it would unite England and divide France. He
then retorted, that after such overtures were rejected,

Toto certandum est corpore regni.

The honourable gentleman has now seen these overtures made
and rejected; and now; when he wishes to bind me down to
the meaning of Virgil, I think he ought not to forget his Latin


37-je MR. PITT'S ir.DE(;.
If the honourable gentleman has seen that all attempts at ne-

gotiation have been unavailable, if he can look to any period in
which he is called upon to fulfil his pledge, if he means to ani-
mate the public exertions; to exhort to perseverance, to stimu-
late their zeal for the maintenance-of, the national honour and
the national safety, at a moment when these objects are thus
unequivocally stated,- he would not, as he,now does, attempt to
disarm their courage, and to distract theirefforts. What did the
honourable gentleman expect from the overtures he proposed ?
What degree of insult and contumely did he lay his account to
endure before he was to be roused to energy and to honour ?
Did he expect any thing more insulting than the reception our
overtures had; obtained, any thing more repulsive, more haughty,
Mere injurious, than the proceedings of the enemy; any thing
more decisive of their determined spirit of-hostility than their
refusal to discuss the terms we proposed, or to propose any terms-.
in their turn, on which they were willing to conclude a peace?
If any thing can meet the honourable- gentleman's ideas of
insult, sufficiently humiliating to require hirri to act upon his
pledge, let him look to the negotiation at Lisle, and the conduct
of the enemy upon that occasion. The honourable gentleman,
though he admitted formerly that there might be occasions
to demand unanimity and exertion, thinks himself freed from
his pledge, because itiinisteWwere never

• sincere in their ex-
ertions for peace, alit France -was justified in refusing to treat
with them. But When did the -het-mutable -gentleinantlisoover
this ? When did :

the light flaSh. 'npon his mind,- that Ministers
originally were hostile to the republican . goveirninent -or France,
and therefore .could not be Sincere? It-is SitiftieAnt; surprising
that this never occurred to the honourable gentleman be. ore the
pledge was given, it/Stead of discovering a

-our apology for
eluding the pledge after it was given. If the dislike of ministers
to French principles preVes their aggression and justifies the
hostility of the enemy, this cannot be . a new discovery ; it cer-
tainly would as well have justified the honourable gentleman in
distrusting any efforts they might make, even while they:Urged


the overtures, on the refusal of which they promised unanimity,
as now when they have seen their overtures made without effect.
The-declaration of France, at the beginning of the contest, proved
that on their side it was a war of aggression, and on oar's a war
of necessity and good faith towards our allies. If ministers did
at first see the danger of French principles, without-embarking
in the contest, must they have been the aggressors when they
saw their fears realised in the actual aggression, in which the
principles they had apprehended finally terminated ? At no
period of the contest did we say there could be no peace with
republican France. We said, that for peace we would not agree
to prostrate the nation at the feet of the enemy ; that we could
not agree to give up what was essential to the safety of the
country. If the honourable gentleman can prove that we ha-;c
applied for peace, disowning the justice of our cause, abandon-
ing the principles on which the present safety and future prospe-
rity of the country are founded, he would prove that we con-
sidered the period arrived when every exertion had been made,
and when the struggle was to he given up, because it could no
longer be supported. The honourable gentleman, however,
does not say that we have acted in this manner. What then are
the opinions of those who have uniformly, or rather with grow-
ing zeal and devotion, contended that the war was just on the
part of France, and unjust upon the side of this country ?sklave
they not repeatedly said, on former occasions, that our ordinary
resources were exhausted ? And to-day, with mysterious silence,
they pass over the subject, and cautiously decline giving any
opinion on the efficacy of former resources, while they reprobate
new expedients ; and say nothing about the propriety of resort.
ing to the funding system, while they condemn the principle of
every plan by which it may be relieved.

The honourable gentlemen have said, that our ordinary sources
are exhausted, and that no extraordinary resources can be em-
ployed. I leave it to the House then to judge how far those, who
in principle give the enemy a right to ask all, who, by decrying
our resources, give them confidence to advance every pretension,

B B •

376 MR. PITT'S

byi kindly informing them, that from our inability to resist, they
may extort whatever they demand, are the true friends to their
country, or the enlightened advocates of peace ? I am con-
vinced that the majority of the House and of the country Will
feel that peace is not likely to be obtained upon terms consistent
with our honour or our safety, by dismissing ministers, if they
are to be followed by men who have ever viewed with kindness
the principles of the enemy ; —by men who have justified every
act of the enemy, while they have traduced every measure of
the British government ;—by men who have extolled-the resources
of the French, with a zeal equalled only by:the perseverance
with which they have depreciated the energy and the resdurces
of their own country. Whatever opinions Such men profess to
have of the sincerity of ministers, of their capacity for the con-
duct of affairs '; whatever conclusions they may draw from the
review of the finances and the magnitude of Mir expenses, I
leave it to the country and to the world to determine, whether,
under such auspices, there could be any chance of peace upon
terms short of the basest humiliation to an insolent foe, and the
most criminal surrender of every principle 9f national honour,
and every source of national greatness.

The honourable gentleman speaks of peace as absolutely ne-
cessary : but has the honourable gentleman explained how peace
is to he obtained ? After encouraging the perseverance of the
enemy in their wild and destructive design, by holding out how
little resistance we can oppose to their attempts, the honourable
gentleman says not a word of this. He thinks he does his duty
to his country and his constituents, by enforcing. the necessity
of peace, without saying a syllable of the means of pacification.
Because he thinks peace cannot be obtained without a change of
system, he would in the mean time suspend all grants of supply.
After disavowing every opinion we have pronounced, after
recanting every principle we have maintained, after abandoning
every pledge we have given, after neglecting every means of
defence, and renouncing every -manly exertion, how would the
honourable gentleman have us appease the fury of the enemy


and secure the safety of England ? Why there must be a
total change of system in England and Ireland ! Till Ireland
was in a better situation France could have no inducement to
make peace ! What this change, so mysteriously announced, is
to be in detail, we are left to guess. Are you to neglect the
means of defence, if you cannot persuade the enemy to make
peace. The change which the honourable gentleman recom-
mends, I suspect would be to remove those distinctions, and to
sweep away those privileges which have raised the hatred and
envy of France. But the honourable gentleman contends that

, the French would be justified in refusing to make peace, because
Ireland is not unanimous• would he, however, consider minis-
ters justified in refusing to make peace, because La Vendee was
in a state of insurrection ? If in his eyes this would be an in-
sufficient reasorifor refusing to make-peace with France, when
nearly one-fourth of its inhabitants were in a state of open hos-
tility against the tyranny under which they were Oppressed, will
he say that it is a reason for the persevering hostility of the
enemy, that Ireland is in a state of danger, arising from the
necessary exertion of vigour to resist the operation of French
principles diffused every where with such assiduity, and in Ireland
with peculiar success ;— circulated with that industry, which
they have ever shown, to supplant by their desolating principles
of liberty the real practical blessings of the British constitution?

Mie Pitt declared, he could.not conceive how that degree of
perfect 'unanimity, which the right honourable gentleman seemed
to think-so necessary, could be obtained while these principles
were disseminated with such industry ; but this was not the
time to enter into thisdiscussion, and he had only alluded to
this subject, to show the consistency of :the right honourable
gentleman's argument, when applied to the case of La Vendee.
But after all, did , the right honourable gentleman seriously imaa
gine, that he had convinced the. House that it was unnecessary
for them to make great efforts ? He had relied much upon the
declarations which had be-en made out of doors respecting this

378 MR. PITT'S [Di:(.
tax ; as far as the public opinion accorded with the right honour-
able gentleman's views, so far he seemed inclined to treat it
with respect ; but he totally laid out of his consideration those
sentiments which accompanied those declarations. Though, in
some instances, the people had expressed their disapprobation
of this tax, in its present state, without any of the alterations
and modifications which it would be necessary to make, yet they
n ever r went the length of the right honourable gentleman, and
said, that no supplies ought at all to be raised ; on the con-
trary, in the case of the borough of Southwark, they had ex-
pressed the strongest sense of the necessity of making great and
-vigorous exertions for the public defence. Could this be a subject
of doubt, after all the papers relative to the rupture of the nego-
tiation had been laid before the House, and above all, 'since they
had seen the late proclamation of the Directory ? Indeed, he
should feel ashamed if it could now become matter of argument.

If then it might be assumed, as an indisputable proposition,
that great and vigorous exertions were necessary at the present
arduous crisis, the next point for consideration was; whether a
large part of the supplies of the year ought to be raised by the
mode now proposed, within the year ; or whether the whole
should be raised by the old system of funding ? This was the
real question for consideration : but, instead of discussing it,
the gentlemen on the other side had exerted all their abilities to
prove that we ought to make no efforts at all. They had never
given any answer to the only important question, viz. if great
exertions were necessary, how were they to be made ? In-
stead of this, they had only said, that a. proposal to depart from
the funding system came with a very bad grace from him, who
had funded so much. This could not be considered as a very
strong argument ; and he should have thought, that the'gentle-
men, after so long an absence from their parliamentary duty,
would have discovered some more efficacious mode of reason-
ing, than to say, " Do not adopt a good measure, because you
ought to have adopted it sooner." Surely the House had a right
to expect, from a great and experienced statesman, something


more than a declaration, that if any, means could be devised
to raise a large proportion of the . eupplies, within the year,
and if these means were in their nature unobjectionable, he
should not oppose them. • This could not be considered as a
very great instance of condescension. However, the principal
objection of the right honourable gentle:nee: -.eetned to be, that:
those extraordinary means ought not to be resorted to now, NVIien
a great and obvious necessity existed, because we had not em-
ployed them when no such necessity did exist.

But gentlemen-seemed to consider, that, by adopting the pre-
sent mode of raising a part of the supply, the system of funding
was to be given up, and the present substituted in ite room. If
..,entleracli had lien present ill their places when this measure
was first proposed, they. would have known that the funding
system was not given up, ; on the contrary, he had proposed that
the larger part of the supplies-of-theyear should be raised by way
of loan. It was thought advisable, as the funds had been so
much increased, to ease them, by procuring a large part of the
supplies in a different mode ; therefore. so far from giving up the
system of funding,. the present plan . was intended to relieve it.
That this object, if it could be attained, would be most desir-
able, could not be questioned, even by those who disliked the
present tax.

Haying said thus much, he did not think it necessary to argue
this point more at length upon the present occasion. The point
that called particularly for the• consideration . of the -House was
this — assuming that it was nece ssary to raise a large sum within
the year, was the present planethe most expedient,' and the
most likely to be-effectual? this subject, the two
honourable gentlemen on the de had: argued very differ-
ently. The first called it a . tax upon. property ; the Other, a
general tax upon income:. The latter was nearer the truth, but
neither of them was correct. . With respect to the honourable
gentleman who called this a tax upon property, it was astonish-
ing that he should be so ill informed of what passed in that.
House, even though he was absent, as to state as arguments

[Disc. 14-.

against this-plan, the very topics which he (Mr. Pitt) had urged
in order to obviate some objections which had been made to jt.
The honourable gentleman had contended, that a tax upon pro-
perty, supposing ,

it possible that the amount of the property
could be ascertained, would not be a proper measure. In this
opinion, however, the honourable gentleman differed from those
declarations out of doors against this tax, upon which so much
reliance had been placed on the other side of the House. How-
ever, the honourable gentleman had pushed this argument to a
greater length than he had done. He (Mr.Pitt) had said, that
if the amount of every man's property could be ascertained,' it
would be a most desirable thing to make the people contribute
to the public exigence in proportion to their wealth. But there
existed no means of ascertaining the property of individuals,
except such as were of a nature that could not be resorted to.
Instead, therefore, of a tax upon property, this was what he had
stated it to be, a tax upon general expenditure. In opening it to
the House, he had anticipated an objection which he thought
would be made, viz. that this tax applied only to such income
as was in expenditure. This was an inconvenience which it was
impossible to avoid, without having recourse to such a scrutiny
of property as must, in every point of view, be highly objec-
tionable. That the present plan was in its nature imperfect he
was ready to admit, and had stated it to be so when he first
introduced the subject; hut he thought it the best and most •
general criterion that could be found. The question then was,
whether this plan was so very imperfect, and so objectionable in
principle, that it ought immediately to be rejected ; or whether,
after proper alteration and modification, it might not be of the
greatest public benefit ? The right honourable gentleman oppoe
site to him had not considered this with his usual accuracy

.; for,
because this tax was calculated at seven millions, and that it was
not to exceed a tenth part of a person's income, he had calcu-
lated the whole income of the country at only seventy millions;
but the inaccuracy of this calculation- must be obvious to the
right honourable gentleman, when he recollected, that though


this tax never took more than one-tenth of the income, yet, in
many cases it took only the 120th part, and in some cases took
nothing. At all events, this observation was inapplicable, be-
cause he had never spoken 'of the general income of the country,
but only so much of it as was in expenditure. Without dilating
more upon this part of the subject, he should say a few words
upon what he considered as the leading objection's to the

The right honourable gentleman had made a division of the
different kinds of property, which appeared to him to be incor-
rect, inasmuch at it omitted one great source of income. The
right honourable gentleman's division was, income•arising from
landed estates, from commercial pursuits, and from property in
the funds. As to the income derived from professional exertions,
the right honourable gentleman had very properly classed it
under the head of commercial gains. But he had omitted one
great source of income, viz:that which was received as the re-
ward of labour ; and of the latter class many were exempted by
the criterion now proposed. The right honourable gentleman
'had contended, that this would operate as a tax upon funded
property, which always had been, and must ever be, considered
as inviolate. But the measure now proposed by no means
tended to affect property in the funds. No description of in-
come, whether arising from landed estates, commercial pursuits,
or funded property, was meant to he exempted from the opera-
tion, because it was meant to attach upon expenditure in gene-
ral. Where was the injustice of this ? " .Why," says the right
honourable gentleman, " by taxing the expenditure of a man
whose income is derived from the funds, you do in fact tax his
property in the funds." If this was a valid objection, it ought
not only to induce the House to reject this measure, but to
repeal every tax that ever was laid on ; because it was impos-
sible to suggest a tax which would not be paid by people having
money in the funds. Every tax imposed upon consumption, of
course must be defrayed by people having property in the funds ;
but it was absurd •to say that was a tax upon the funds. If this

382 MR. PITT'S Mac. :II.

objection was never made to taxes which were in their nature
perpetual, it appeared to him singular that it should now, for
the first time, be made to a tax which was merely temporary.

The next objection of the right honourable gentleman was, that
a tax upon commercial income was not just ; for, said he, a man's.
landed property is his own, but the income he derives from com-
merce is partly derived from his industry. This was not a time
to enter into a minute discussion of these arguments, but surly
the right honourable gentleman did not mean to contend that
commercial gains were not a fair object of taxation. Those gains
were derived under the protectionof the laws of the. country, and
consequently ought to contribute proportionably tosupport them.
He did not, however, mean to contend that many distinctions
ought not to he made, and in the committee modifications would
.undoubtedly be proposed. As •to persons who „employed great
capitals, in proportion to their. annual gains, they would be less
affected than persons of landed property ; but all that could be
inferred from this was, that it was a recommendation of the cri-
terion. Perhaps this criterion, as far as it affected the lower
classes, did not make distinctions enough. It would be recol-
lected, that tine particular reason he assigned for making this tax
lower upon houses than upon the other articles was, that it should
not fall too heavily .upon that species of income arising from re-
tail trade. The right honourablogentleman had next censured
the mode of appeal given in this case.. -.Some alterations might
also be made upon this subject ; but still he thought that mode
of correcting the operation of the tax might be useful: The
right honourable gentleman himself had admitted, that it might
with propriety be applied to landed property; and, on the other
hand, he .(Mr, Pitt.) was Willing to admit, that as far as it re-
lated to the lower class of retail dealers some modification was
necessary. These were the general objections which had .been
made to the plan, and lie should now leave them to the consider,
atiortofthe House, with the observations he had made upon them:

He was aware that there were many who thought that, rather
than take this visible criterion of ascertaining property,.it would



be better to lay a general tax upon property. Undoubtedly, if
they could find the means of taxing property equally, without
compelling improper disclosure, it would be a most desirable
Object; but as that could not be done without being open to
stronger objections than the present plan, it became necessary
that some visible criterion should be found. If that were the
case, could any criterion be found more general in its nature
than the assessed taxes ? The persons immediately affected by
this tax amounted to 800,000, and through them extended'to
about 4,000,000 of persons. By this plan a great number of
poor persons would be wholly excluded, and above half of the
number before-mentioned would contribute very little.

The committee upon this bill might, and he had no doubt
would, make many amendments in favour of shop-keepers ; but
all this would be consistent with the principle of the bill. • The
committee might, if they thought proper, make an alteration in
the scale proposed, without any dereliction of the principle of the
bill. Many mitigations were undoubtedly necessary ; but if the
utmost inference that could be drawn from this was, that the
exemptions should be carried farther than was proposed in the
committee of ways and means, how did that affect the general
principle of the measure, when they had the means olobviating in
the committee the only objections that had been made against it ?
Without going now into those details, which he wished to reserve
for a future period, he should only say, that if it was admitted
that great exertions ought to be made, and that a large part of
the supplies ought to be raised within the year, and if the only
objection to this criterion was, that it would bear hard upon
the lower. orders of retail dealers, and it appeared to be within
their power to obviate this objection ; then, upon what ground
could they hesitate, unless they had changed their opinions ;
unless, instead of making preparations for war, they were deter-
mined to begin by begging for peace from a haughty and insult-
ing enemy ? If they were not determined to give up every means
of exertion, had they any option but to go into a committee upon-
this bill, to remedy the inconveniences that might result from it;

384 MR. PITT'S PAN. e1.

if passed in its present shape? What was the conduct which the
gentlemen on the other side wished the House to adopt? it was
to reject this measure at once, and thereby to declare that they
would make no efforts to raise the supplies within the year. if
the House adopted this advice, it would be proclaiming to France
and to the world, their repentance for having dared to stand up''
in defence of their laws, their religion, and of every thing that
was valuable to them as Englismen. It would be humbling
themselves before a haughty adversary; and, when'they had no
means of defence, imploring mercy and forgiveness from an
enemy from whom we had to expect neither.

Upon these grounds, he hoped the House would read the bill
a second time, and let it go into a committee.

The motion was agreed to,

Ayes 175

r • Noes 50
and the bill was ordered to be committed.

January 1. 1798.

ON a motion for the third reading of the bill for increasing the ti.H
sessed Taxes,

MR. PITT, at the close of the debate, (which had been adjourned fruit:
the preceding day) rose and expressed himself as follows :

After the great length of time that has been consumed in the
debate, the House, I am sure, will not be surprised if I should
desire to avoid, as much as possible, the vast mass of extraneous
matter that has been brought forward on the present occasion,
and select from the numerous topics that present themselves to
my view, such as bear directly on the subject under our imme-
diate consideration. With this view I shall endeavour to guide.
the attention of the House through the various irrelevant and
contradictory arguments that have been used, anti fix . it more
exclusively on those leading and practical points, which alone,
can determine the question we are now called upon to decide. I


should have thought it, Sir,- unnecessary to enter at any length
into this argument, after the admission made by the several gen-
tlemen who most vehemently opposed. this measure, if I .

did not
find that the principle they conceded in name is afterwards re-
called in substance, and treated as a matter foreign to their
consideration, and wholly inapplicable to the case now before
them. The principle I allude to is this, whether, in the present
circumstances of this country, there is, or is not an occasion to
Make a great and unexampled exertion to defeat the projects of
the enemy, and secure our own national independence and
honour. The affirmative of this proposition has been uniformly
admitted and openly avowed : unless, therefore, the House, in-
fluenced by what has been advanced in the course of this night's
debate, should think proper expressly to retract that opinion, I
have a right to take it as the fundamental point that will govern
their determination. This is not an opinion hastily adopted,
and lightly considered. It is the language which, after full
deliberation and enquiry, the House, at the commencement of
the session, presented at the foot of the throne. Such, at that
time, was their opinion, and the facts on which it was founded
have, in the interval which has elapsed, been neither weakened
nor denied: So far from any thing having been advanced con-
trary to this position, in the course of this debate, the right
honourable gentleman himself* has unequivocally admitted, that
great military and financial exertion is indispensable in the pre-
sent situation of the country.

Now having advanced so much, it was natural to expect he
would disclose the nature of those exertions, the necessity of
which he did not deny ; and if he disapproved of the present mode
of raising so considerable a part of the supplies within the year
that he would point out how that end might be obtained, by
means less objectionable. The question, as now argued by the
right honourable gentleman, is, whether, after a delay of six weeks
since the first agitation of this subject, and two months since the
issue of the negotiation, from which period the necessity of the

* Mr. Fox.

586 MR. PITT'S [J_tx.4.

exertions he admits must be dated ;— whether, after such a delay,
all exertion should not be suspended on the part of the country,
till the House should obtain the dismission of His Majesty's pre-
sent ministers, a radical parliamentary reform, and a total change
of system. Such is the ground, if I followed the right honour-
able gentleman, and understood him right, on which he wishes
the present question to be determined. In his opinion the guilt
of -the present administration is so enormous, their general and
particular misconduct so manifest and great, that all the facul-
ties of government should be suspended till they are removed.
Their removal alone, however, will not do, and he has no hopes
of security without a radical reform in parliament, and a total
change of system ; and, unless these latter parts are conceded,
he professes that he will not take any share in any new admini-
stration that may be formed. With a view of persuading the
House to pursue these objects, much time and much eloquence
have been consumed, to convince them that they had a regular
constitutional right to withhold the supplies, till the grievances,
of which they might think proper to complain, were redressed.
But time and eloquence appear to me to be wholly misemployel
No one that I know of ever doubted of the validity of that doc-
trine. The true question now is, according to the right honour-
able gentleman's mode cf reasoning, not whether they have a
right under the constitution of withholding supplies till griev-
ances were redressed, bat whether the House and country look
upon those things as grievances which the right honourable gen-
tleman does; and whether they will make such an exercise of
power in the present situation of the country, to obtain a radical
parliamentary reform and total change of system, according to
his acceptation of those expressions ? It becomes, therefore, of
great consequence to ascertain what that acceptation is : and if
any ambiguity or uncertainty exists from loose and indefinite ex-
pressions, the true meaning will be found to arise no less from
the colour and complexion of circumstances which accompany,
precede, and follow his professions, than logical distinctions and
the context of words, Now I wish to put it seriously to the


House, whether, notwithstanding the explanations for the first
time given this night by the right honourable gentleman of the
extent of his meaning in this respect, a very considerable portion
of uncertainty, as to their extent, does not yet remain, and whe-
ther all the exertion he himself admits as necessary for the sal-
vation of the country, is to be suspended till objects so general,
loose, and indefinite, are obtained? For such is the partial result
of all he has now advanced.

But to descend to the few particulars he has mentioned.— A
change of ministers, he says, is absolutely necessary before any
peace, consistent with the welfare and security of the country,
can be expected. Yet how was this attempted to be proved. I
do not consider myself much indebted to the right honourable
gentleman's candour in admitting, that at least ministers were
sincere in the last negotiation for, peace. No men, in or out of
the House, could venture to entertain a doubt of a fact so plain
and manifest. The internal evidences of the treaty itself, and
every circumstance by which it was attended, sets every suspi-
cion on that subject at defiance. The purity and zeal of minis-
ters throughout the whole of their conduct on that occasion, is
established beyond the possibility of doubt. It is not now for
me to enter into the discussion how far, in 1794 and 1795, France
was capable of preserving the relations of peace and amity.
Every thing that the right honourable gentleman could urge on
this subject, was advanced when the facts of that question were
recent, and regularly before the House, which, after full enquiry
and deliberation, gave an opinion contrary to that which he
maintained. Every step that ministers have taken, relative to
peace, has been submitted to parliamentary discussion, and is
fully before the public : and I can assert with confidence, that
no man can reflect upon their conduct in that respect, or deny
that they have done every thing to obtain peace, short of sacri-
ficing the honour and welfare of the country. According to the
right honourable gentleman's own view of the subject, it is a
singular mode of reasoning, to threaten ministers with dismis-
sion, that peace might be obtained, because they had not done



MR. PITT'S [JAN. 4;<

every thing in their power to obtain it before, though there is no
doubt they have since been, and were still disposed so to do.
The reasoning is still more curious if followed further. Suppose
the measure recommended by the right honourable gentleman
were adopted, is it likely that any new administration could suc-
ceed in negotiation with the enemy, after a considerable suspen-
sion of exertion and comparative weakness, when the present
administration, backed with the whole strength of the country,
and having done every thing consistent with their duty to oppose
the wrath of' the enemy, had failed ? Who will undertake that,
in case of an appointment of a new administration, by means at
least injurious to our strength, the enemy will be inclined to give
terms of peace which they denied to the present ministers, when
their conduct was admitted by all to be such, as this new admi.
nistration could alone adopt? What ground of probability is
there to expect such an event?-tut if the right honourable
gentleman's argument has any weight, it is at best ill-timed at
present, and should have been argued two months ago, on the
first termination of the treaty.

. •

The right honourable gentleman has attempted to draw a dis-
tinction between the responsibility of those in office, and those
who are not so. In this, however, I do not see any marks of
that impartiality which should equally guide both the one and the
other. He seems to think, that, while he has a perfect right to
arraign the conduct of public men in office, lie being a private
member of parliament, is not answerable to any account. I cer-
tainly know of no sanction that any man in office has, that should
exempt him from animadversion on his conduct; and as little
am I acquainted with any exemption that private gentlemen may

, have from reprehension, when their conduct is such as to deserve
it : justice, prudence, and expediency, as little exempt the one
as the other. I therefore cannot but behold the right honour-
able gentleman as amenable in his conduct as any other person,
whether I consider his character, in relation to domestic con-
cerns at home, or the situation of the enemy abroad. With spe-
cious professions of humility, he has doubtless declared himself


a simple individual, and expressed a determination to abstain
from the risk and fatigue of public office. But what does this
amount to ? It is not certain that, thinking as many around
him do, the country, can be saved by him alone. Thinking so,
I say, if a change of administration should take place, will they
not feel themselves bound to overcome his scruples, and insist,
as a matter of public duty, that he should take upon him the
burden of office ? Nay, I put it to them, whether they would
not consider it as the pride and glory of their lives, by any means
in their power, to place him in the situation to which they think
his talents entitle him ? And if they think so, they will, in so do-
ing, do no more than what, according to their view of the sub-
ject, is right and highly laudable in them to effect. Nevertheless,
those who might differ from them in that opinion, and, though
admitting the brilliancyand extent of the right honourable gentle-
man's talents, think that the practical application of them is not
conducive to the welfare of the country such persons must be
allowed to look to that event with repugnance and alarm. Upon
this subject I have no hesitation of declaring, that were I obliged
to plead guilty to every other charge against my colleagues and
myself, or from any motive should wish to relinquish my present
station, yet, while I wish such a peace as is consistent with the
security and welfare of this kingdom, I should feel it as a bounden
and over-ruling duty, if the right honourable gentleman had any
chance of succeeding me, to remain in office at any risk, and
with every sacrifice, ' in order to prevent an effect so fatal and
ruinous to the safety and consequence of this country, as the
gratification of the wishes of him and his friends. I have yet to
learn what is the nature of that confidence, which the enemy are
to have in an administration supported by that right honourable
gentleman. I have on a former occasion said, that I do not envy
those whose boast it is that they stand high in the confidence of
the enemy. It is maintained, that in case of a change of admi-
nistration, the House and the country would have the most unli-
mited confidence as to the sincerity of the negotiation for peace,
and if it could not be obtained on terms adequate to a just and

c c 3

390 MR. PITT'S


reasonable expectation, that in such a case the war would be
continued with incalculable advantage. Will those who think
in this way, attempt to deny that the right honourable gentleman
and all his friends have uniformly, since the commencement of
the war, maintained the cause of the enemy, at least so far as to
contend that they acted on the defensive, and retained a right
of inflicting vengeance, and that we were the aggressors ?
Throughout the whole course of the war they have asserted the
justice of the enemy's cause and the insufficiency of our resources.
How, in case of such men succeeding to offices, terms favour-
able or just to this country are to be expected, or how, if the
war is to be continued, the enemy are to be convinced of the
energy of our kingdom and the permanency of our means, I leave,
with no doubt of its decision, to the prudence of the House.

The next point of attack against HisMajesty's ministers is their
general misconduct. in respect to general constitutional doc-
trines ; and then, that they are bad financial ininisters, and in-
competent to preserve the combination, which, as to the prose-
cution of the war, they had so much relied upon. These points,
I must observe, which are wholly irrelevant to the present ques-
tion, have repeatedly been discussed and decided in this House,
and may be decided again after this is determined, as they have
been before. These I do not in the least consider myself bound
to enter into at present, and if I did, the decision, either one
way or the other, would not affect this bill. Upon these sub-
jects, however, it is obvious that the strength of the right
honourable gentleman's arguments lay in this : he says, you, the
administration of the country, are incompetent and ignorant ;
you rely on foreign alliances; these alliances desert you. You
grant subsidies, you guarantee loans; we told you this would
not secure you allies. You are fools, and we are wise. This I
believe is not a weak summary of his charge against those he is
inclined to condemn in every act, and impeach the motives when
he cannot deny the effect. I ask, however, and put to the
recollection of the House, whether those loans, subsidies, and
alliances, were ever maintained on any such principle as that it


was impossible to be deceived. In the nature of the thing, lag
independent state can have security against another, from want
of foresight and prudence. It is no imputation against our ally,
that another might not see so acutely its own true permanent
interest and safety. In the case of our acting with greater wis-
dom and resolution than others, we are not to let our regret at
their misconduct overrule our own satisfaction in our own pru-
dence and sagacity. Even to this very moment I do not regret
those loans, subsidies, and alliances, of which the right ho-
nourable gentleman complains. They were entered into with
correct views of the real and permanent interest of the country :
and though I could have wished that other powers had had a
true sense of their own interest ; yet, as a matter of policy, I do
not regret the advantage we derived even at the expense at which
it was purchased.

When it is considered that the conduct of ministers with re-
spect to peace, was such as those who wish for a change them-
selves approve, -it is pretty certain that the real cause for their
retirement is not that which is ostensibly assigned ; but whether
the motives be real or pretended, it can be no reason for post-
poning the present bill, as whether the present administration
continue to yield their places to others, this bill, as a measure
essential to the security of the country from the menaces and -de-
signs of a rancorous enemy, would be equally expedient and ne-
cessary. Suppose the right honourable gentleman was at the
head of a new-formed administration, would he tell the House
that he would expect any success in this treaty, should the na-
tion disarm, or be unprovided to continue the contest with vi-
gour and effect? Were he minister, the same exertion'would be
necessary, the same question would revert, whether it was ex-
pedient to raise. seven of the nineteen \millions within the year.
Is it therefore fair, or generous, or manly, to hear the possibility
of a change assigned as a cause for delaying a measure, which,
under every administration, would be equally necessary, and must
be equally made the subject of discussion ? There must be some
secret motive for this sudden exertion of the right honourable

c c

392 MR. PITT'S

gentleman. It was most probably to take advantage of what he
supposed the public opinion, that he thus appeared again in em-
battled phalanx, and left the hidden path of secret warfare. With
what other vievci would he otherwise bring into such a debate all
the inflammatory topics he has urged, and in a speech of three
or four hours, though attending, as he says, by the express
commands of his constituents, scarce touch on the subject which
he avowedly came forward to discuss ? Instead of watching the
details and particular bearings of this bill, he adverts only to its
principle in the most general terms, and did not even attend in
that stage, in which alone, by means of regulations, be could
alleviate those hardships of which his constituents complain. Far
from observing the instructions lie professed to obey, he enters
into the most foreign and dissuasive questions concerning the
origin and conduct of the war, in which, as usual, he decide
favour of France, and against this country, and in favour of
himself and his party, against the ministers in whom His Majesty
thought proper to confide. He wishes to impose on the House
the condition of putting off the discussion of the bill he was sent
here to discuss, in order to enforce that radical reform of parlia-
ment and total change of system, of which his constituents in
their instructions said nothing, and which, if he thought it his
duty to urge, he should have felt himself bound to attend for
that purpose, without waiting for those injunctions, which were
the occasion of his presence.

I for one should be glad to have a clear idea of what the right
honourable gentleman means by this species of reform atni
change. He has on former occasions expressed the same wishes,
but yet in a way more general. In the course of what he has
said on this subject to-night, we have at least the satisfaction of
learning that he looks only to these changes through the organ of
parliament, which however he expects will not he effected by the
power of his eloquence or the force of his reasoning within, but
by the influence of the public mind from without. The precise:
plan of parliamentary reform, of which he is the advocate, is:
now for the first time disclosed, namely, that brought forward


last session by another honourable friend of his, not now in his
place.* Thus for a plan of parliamentary reform, which the
House had already discussed and rejected, and for other particu-
lar reformations, on which neither his constituents nor the public
had expressed any opinion at all, he wished the House to sus-
pend and hang up All the means of public defence, in a•crisis of
unexampled danger and difficulty. This mode of obtaining his
objects is certainly less mild and regular than the one he professed
himself attached to, and recommended with respect to parlia-
mentary reform; for it tends to this—suspend your exertions, let
the enemy come and make this change of system and reform the
price of self-defence;—an expedient at least hazardous and rash
under the present circumstances of the country. If, to avoid
this inference, the right honourable gentleman should contend,
that, by the influence of the public mind, he means the opera.:
tion of the fair rational sense of the public mind on their repre-
sentatives only, then he must admit that he has at last found
something more sympathetic between the people and their repre-
sentatives than he thinks it possible to discover in some views of
the subject he occasionally takes, a consistent ground of virtual'
and effective representation, even in the present form of parlia-
ment. If he means neither of these, but something else different
from both, but which he does not think it fit and prudent at this
moment explicitly to state, his views are then evidently open to
the objection, on the ground of ambiguity and indistinctness,
which an honourable friend of mine t has said occasioned diffi-
dence and alarm.

The right honourable gentleman has thought proper, on this,
and several other occasions, to quote some words used by me in
reference to this subject. It is impossible to recollect particular
words used so long ago; but I frankly admit that my views of
parliamentary reform were favourable to that object, and that
I, on all occasions, expressed my opinion with all the warmth of
expression I could use : these, however, must, in common can-

* Mr. Grey. Mr.Wilbcrforce.

MR. PITT'S [JAN. 4..

dour, be understood in reference to that object as at that time
understood, and not as to the change of meaning that expression
has undergone in later times. He has done me the justice to say,
that he believes it was not I who declared " that no good govern-
ment could subsist, nor bad one be opposed with safety, without
parliamentary reform." But whatever words I may have used,
or to whatever doctrines I may have subscribed, they must be
understood in reference only to the ideas of parliamentary re-
form then entertained, and I solemnly declare that whatever I
may have said or done on that subject, had no relation to the pre-
sent prevailing systems of reformation, or any principle on which
they are founded. My ideas then were as different from those
systems then, as my language is now. I always, as is well
known to the right honourable gentleman, opposed every plan
of universal suffrage and individual representation. All the
words I then used, all the measures I then abetted, must be con-
sidered as bearing a relation to the ideas and views of things then
entertained. By the same rate the right honourable gentleman
must now be judged ; the words he uses will be understood, un-
less otherwise restricted, by the ideas and views of things now
received ; and surely he cannot deny that the expressions he has
this night made use of to signify his wishes, constitute the
watch-words of a party out of doors, whose real meaning is well
understood, and admits of no doubt. Is it not known that they
couple their ideas with his words, and hail him as a convert to their
system and. a champion in their cause ? If indeed the right ho-
nourable gentleman does mean something in a more limited and
rational sense, sure I am, he must be thankful for that scrupu-
lous vigilance and alarm that wishes to distinguish his views of
a radical reform in parliament from those entertained by the Cor-
responding Society, expressing himself, as he accidentally does,
in precisely the same words which .t.„4thody has thought ,proper
to adopt. It happens, however, that therein a further coincidence
subsisting between that body and the right honourable gentleman
than mere words. He has not only, they seem to think, exalted,
like them, the representative government, but looks with a jea-

, 393

lous eye to nobility and hereditary honours ; in short, disclaims
every principle of government but the representative species.
This, I believe, is well known to be their opinion of him, though
undoubtedly he will contend that they misconceive the meaning
of his words, and that they do not imply the object they sup-
pose. Whatever may be -his meaning on other points, he has
now, however, fully explained the views he entertains of parlia-
mentary reform : and I must declare that I would forego for ever
all prospect of reform, rather than incur the risk of such an one
as he wishes, by his own confession, may take place. What is
it he contends for? No less than that the whole elective fran-
chise should be taken from those in whom it has long resided,
and transferred to all the householders in the kingdom. This is
the preliminary, not only to all supply and exertion, but to other
changes hitherto unlimited by any designation of their objects.
After concealing his opinion for fourteen years, as to the spe-
cific plan of reform, it now appears no less than a total change
of the old system of election, and a substitute that will at once
demolish all the benefits connected with it. In short, he would
take from the old electors all their rights, and invest them,
without reserve, in new.

The right honourable gentleman has further expressed, as a
general principle, that he wishes to repress increasing power, and
encourage protecting liberty. In the first place, I wish to know
what he means by these terms. I here remark the same uncer-
tainty and ambiguity that appear in most of his professions, and
which occasion no groundless degree of distrust and alarm in
those who do not enter so readily into his views as others imme-
diately around him. I wish to know what is this increasing
power he wishes to reprobate, and what this protecting liberty
he means to encourage ? In another part of his speech he says,
that the authority of parliament ought to be such as it was before
the American war. Here also I am at a loss to reach the mean-
ing of his words, I know of no liberty then possessed that is
not now equally enjoyed. On professions so loose and indefinite,
it would be absurd to rely, unless they are circumscribed by dis-


396 MR. PITT'S [JAN. 4•
tinct meaning, they never can be adopted as a safe and rational
ground of action.

Another commentator on the acts of government'•' has, in
addition to the charges advanced by the right honourable gen-
tleman, insisted, that an end shall be put to the possibility of
making a breach in the appropriation-act. This charge is not
now for the first time brought forward. It was fully and regu-
larly discussed on a former occasion, when first advanced ; and
how did it turn out ?— that the appropriation.act had not been
violated, but. that, under particular circumstances, the form had
been departed from to preserve its spirit. The same may he
observed with respect to the charges advanced relative to bar-
racks, and the laws concerning persons sent out of the kingdom ;
the right of assembling, petitioning, and all the other instances
advanced as matters of criminal charges against the administra-
tion of government by His Majesty's present ministers, which at
this late hour it will hardly be expected that I have strength
sufficient minutely to examine and answer. The sum total of
these objections amounts to this — that the House should at once
repeal all those wise precautions and measuresethich, after an
anxious view to the particular circumstances of the times, and
an adequate discussion of each particular, they had thought
proper to enact, not only with the consent of a vast majority of
their own body, but with that of at least nine-tenths of the
people out of doors. Is the House and country prepared for
such sacrifices — such sweeping preliminaries ?

The honourable gentleman objects also to the conduct pf
ministers with respect to peerages. Here, too, he is, as usual,
general and indistinct. What is it he means ? Does he intend
to say the prerogative of the crown to create peers should be
extinguished ? How does he limit his objections ? What excep-
tions are they that he makes ? Does he mean that no vacancies
should be filled up, that he may supply large arrears when he
conies into power, in the way formerly used, when, as he says,

Mr. Sheridan.


" peerage was given as an honour." Till particulars are men-
tioned, it is impossible to reply to such vague charges, which
rather impeach the constitution than criminate the ministers.
These, however, are the principal allegations, for which it is con-
tended that ministers deserve to be dismissed from their offices,
in order that others more competent to forward the national
interests should serve the public in their stead.

If we pass the bill, the right honourable gentleman says, that
we shall not be considered as the representatives of the people,
intimating thereby some doubt, at least, that we are not now
the substantial and virtual representatives of that body. How
does he make that assertion good? Because, he says, large
meetings of the people have expressed their disapprobation of
the bill; and therefore, if we do not adopt their opinions, he
infers we have no sympathy with them, and in no sense what-
ever can be called their representatives. In the first place, I
must observe, that these meetings were only held in the metro-
polis : that in other parts of the kingdom no disapprobation has
been expressed, and that, even in the metropolis itself, the op-
position has a good deal subsided since the modifications, which
have removed the principal causes of objection. In the next
place, I shall never agree that this House, as the representatives
of the people, are bound to bend to every partial and unsettled
opinion of that body. I mean not to deny that we should give
due weight to the influence of public opinion ; but it never was
the principle of the constitution, that the representatives of the
people should shift with every breath of popular desire. Nothing
could be more inconsistent with true wisdom and public utility,
than that the legislators should be influenced by every fleeting and
partial expression of the public will. How easy, was it in the
present case, by misrepresentation, and an imperfect view of the
bill in its operation, to raise in the first instance a popular
clamour against it ! A general disinclination towards it appeared
in the public meetings within the metropolis ; but no sooner was-
the subject fully understood, and its particular hardships re-
moved, than it was regarded in a very different light, as appeared

398 MR. PITT'S
[JAN. 4,

by the proceedings of the common hall in the city, and other
parts. The gentlemen opposite to me are ready enough, on all
occasions, not only to condemn the conduct of' His Majesty's
Ministers, but also to make the public a party to their cause. I
have not only a right to consider them as prejudiced in this
respect, but, from frequent experience, erroneous also; for in
many cases where they have as loudly maintained the public
opinion was with them, on a fair enquiry, where occasion offered,

. We have found the fact to be directly the reverse. Is it in the
nature of things, that a heavy and general tax can, in the first
instance, be popular ? And, on the contrary, it ever must be
the easiest of all things, by artifice and misrepresentation, to
raise a clamour against any such measure on its first breaking
upon the public mind. It is hardly possible for such a tax to be
popular and cheerfully received. All taxes are necessarily hard-
ships, and must be submitted to, not from pleasure, but a sense
Of 'public duty : and I hope with confidence that this tax will be
so received by the good sense and fortitude of the people ; and
that, when it comes to be explained and amused, they will sub-
mit to the sacrifices it enjoins, as a, measure of urgent necessity,
under circumstances of the most severe trial that this nation
ever experienced. It does not, however, enter into my ideas of
public duty, that the legislature should consult the popular
Opinion at the expense of public safety.

There was one part of the right honourable gentleman's speech
that I am impelled to notice, from the extraordinary request it
Contained. He Admitted the great use of unanimity, and-allowsd,
that in this critical period in particular it was highly desirable.
The mode, however, in which he means to obtain it is, iii nny
opinion, somewhat singular. He says, we the minority con-
ceiving ourselves right, will not yield to you, the majority, but,
as Unanimity is desirable, you should undoubtedly come over to
Our opinion. So that the majority arc thus called upon at once
to forego their opinions, though adopted after long arid frequent
debate, and to tread back all their steps, and admit themselves
to be wrong, although they knew themselves to be right ! This


was the reasonable request his arguments conveyed ; and we
were told that a zealous unanimity was to be expected on no
other terms. In like manner he requires us to postpone the bill
indefinitely, though arising from urgent necessity, and calculated
for security and defence, until he shall in his own good time
return to his parliamentary duty, and, as occasion suits, unfold
to our view, for separate discussion, all the parts of that radical
change in our system which he projects.


As to the principles of individual conduct in this House, it is
not now a general question of how far a member is authorised
to secede from his attendance; but, in my opinion, that virtual
representation, of which the right honourable gentleman is so
fond, cannot be more completely violated than by a dereliction
of duty, particularly in a moment of imminent danger to the
country. And this is doubtless aggravated if it should be done
with a view of depreciating the body of which he is a member,
and to alienate the affections of the people from it. I can hardly
conceive how a man can act in grosser violation of his duty as a
Member of parliament than by such a conduct. Much of the
fact, in such a case, must be collected from attendant circum-
stances. I shall not now enquire by What motives those gen-
tlemen acted (Mr. Burke and others), alluded to by the right
honourable gentleman, who seceded in the American war ; but I
recollect that his own secession was announced after the motion
made by an honourable gentleman* for parliamentary reform ;
and that in the course of that debate, the right honourable gen-
tleman said, that unless the measures were adopted, the House
would not be any longer entitled to the respect of the people out
of doors. As to the general principle, nothing can be more cer-
tain than that it is a violation of duty to desert a post committed
to one's charge, and that it increases, in exact proportion to the
danger of those for whom we undertake the charge. Now it slid
so happen, that the right honourable gentleman could not, in his
whole political career, have chosen a moment of secession more

' 4( Mr. Grey.

400 MR. PITT'S
[JAN. 4.

encompassed with danger than the one in which he actually did
secede. The motive, therefore, is at best suspicious, and de-
clining to attend under such circumstances led at least to enquiry,
whether by keeping away he sought opportunities to reflect that,
by inflaming the people without these walls, which no exertion of
his talents could achieve within. He retired just as the rancour
of our enemy became most inveterate, and exclusively directed
to this country, and when the manifestation of their malice called
forth the spirit and zeal of all classes to support our national
independence and honour. Just at this juncture it was that the
right honourable gentleman thought proper to retire.

On what ground is it that gentlemen oppose this bill ? Do
they deny the danger that surrounds us ? Do they maintain
that exertion is not necessary ? that it can be suspended with
safety ? No ; they do not attempt to do either ; but, as the
means of obtaining their own objects, they are willing to risk
the honour, welfare, and existence of the country. The right
honourable gentleman had asserted his right to secede on his own
motives of expediency, and, of course, those. who surround
him 'will not object if I take their justification on the same
principle ; but the right honourable gentleman, it seems, re-
tains his opinion of that expediency, and only now appears at
the particular injunction of his constituents to defend their local
interest. How conies it, then, that he appears so surrounded
with friends, who, adopting his principle of secession, have not,
in the desire of their constituents, the same motive for his par-
ticular exception ? Can any thing show in a stronger light the
blind acquiescence of party zeal, when, in defiance of every
avowed principle of their public conduct, they now attend to
add to the splendour of their leader's entry.

There is one point in the constitution of this country, in which
difference of opinion arises, namely, concerning the instructions
of constituents to their representatives. Some think themselves
bound to obey them, whatever their individual opinion may be
on the subject. Others thinking those instructions entitled to
their respect, yet follow the dictates of their own consciences.


Of this latter class the right honourable gentleman professes
himself to be. According, therefore, to his own admission, he
now attends in spite of his own opinion of the expediency of
secession, to discuss the local interest of his constituents. He,
nevertheless, declined attending in that stage of the bill in which
alone he could be of service in that particular, by proposing re-
liefs for the particular hardships his constituents might sustain ;
and now, without noticing the modifications made, lie objects
to other particulars, without suggesting or moving any remedy!
He came here to oppose its local and partial effect, yet indulges
only in a general and indiscriminate opposition to it ; and pro-
fessing to come for the express purpose of discussing this bill, he
introduces every topic that has been decided during the long
period of his absence ! The House must therefore decide in what
spirit, and for what real purpose he now appears. Nothing
that he has said can be understood as touching in any degree
the question now before us. He may, indeed, be said to re-
proach His Majesty's ministers, but can with no propriety be
said to speak to the subject for which his constituents directed
him to attend.

With respect to many objections urged in the course of the
.debate, I must say, in general, that if gentlemen had attended
in the proper stage of the bill, they would have heard them
answered. It is not that the objections are unanswerable,but they
have not heard the answers that have been given, by neglecting
to attend when it was their duty to be present. Upon the ques-
tion of a great and unusual exertion, no doubt is made; all
agree that it is indispensable. Now, if this is to be made, the
next enquiry is, in what manner is it to be done? From whence
arises this secondary question, whether it is to be done in the
usual mode of raising supplies, or by raising a considerable pro-
portion of the sum requisite for the current services within the
year ? Upon this latter question the right honourable gen-
tleman is dubious ; his honourable friend * thinks that a suns

Mr. Sheridan.

•07 MR. PITT'S [JAN. 4.
should be raised by a great exertion within ., the year. There
is one objection to the present plan not easy to comprehend,
namely, that by this mode of exertion I only relieve the stocks
so as to affect -a few particular friends of ministers ; for the old
stockholders, who bought in before the war, it is said, cannot
be hurt, inasmuch as they manifest an intention of retaining
their capital and receive the same interest ; therefore no depre-
ciation of the funds can affect them. This, however, is a very
fallacious and defective view of the subject ; for property, the
nature of which is transferable, must always depend on the
value of that transfer ? Is it nothing to prevent the depreciation
of 200,000,0001. in capital, or can that he said to affect only a
few particular friends of a minister? If further loans are to be
made for the public service, is it of no consequence whether the
funds are at 40 or 48 per cent. ? Does it make no difference
whether money is borrowed for the public at . 1, 5, or 6 per cent.?
Has the price of stocks no effect on commerce and agriculture,
if they fall below a certain point ? According ttlhis- plan, it
is not property that is directly taxed, but expenditure is made
the criterion of income in its application. I admit that some
inequalities will be found ; but so there must in every plan of
raising a considerable sum within the year, and this only forms
an objection to the plan in case it can be shewn that the same
sum can he raised by means less partial and irregular. There
have been instances of large sums raised within the year, but
in no instance by means less liable to the objection of irregu-

On the whole, the House will decide whether they will, under
the present circumstances of the country, make a great and tin?
usual exertion to resist the enemy, or whether, cm the arguments
they have heard, they will suspend all defensive precautions;
and leave the country open to the ruinous projects,of an insolent
and overbearing enemy. Notwithstanding the right-honourable
gentleman has intimated his intention to persevere: in his retire-
ment, I leave this question to the House, in full confidence that
they will decide on this, and on every other occasion, in such a


way as most effectually to support the independence and perma-
nent interest of the country.

The House divided, and di g question for the third reading of the bill
passed in the affirmative ;

Ayes 196
Noes 71

April 2. 1798.
REDEUPTION or THE LAND-TAX. — The House having.resolved itself

into a committee of the whole House, Mr. Hobart in the chair,
Mr. PITT rose, and spoke in substance as follows :

The subject which I am now about to submit-to the commit-
- tee has of late excited considerable attention, and given rise to
considerable enquiry. As the ultimate judgment which the com-
mittee will form upon it .host depend upon the consideration of
a great variety of details, it is not my intention to call upon you
for any decision to-day-. I trust, however, that the principle.
upon which the measure is founded only requires to be very
shortly stated, in order to engage your attention, and to recom-
mend itself to your notice. That in the present situation of the
country, every measure which tends to invigorate public credit,
which. will facilitate the means of supporting that struggle into
which we were driven for our necessary-defence, and which has,
been prolonged by the obstinate ambition of the enemy ; that
every measure which will furnish fresh resources to animate the
courage of the nation, and to enable us to maintain that character
which Englishmen have ever displayed, has a fair claim to the
favour of the legislature, I am warranted to pronounce, from the
experience of the present session, the unanimity you have shown
upon former occasions, and the .. recent exertions you have made
for the public defence. When I recollect, then, the temper which
parliament has uniformly manifested, I am sensible that it is
needless to say any thing. in recommendation of the principle,
provided the measure itself be practicable. The leading object

D D 2


of the plan which I shall have the honour to propose, is to absorb
a great quantity of stock, to transfer a considerable portion of
the funded security to landed security, and, by the redemption of
the present land-tax, to purchase a quantity of stock more than
equivalent to the amount of the tax. That tax will be made ap-
plicable in the same manner as at, present, but the proportion of
stock it will purchase will be one-fifth larger, presenting at once
a considerable pecuniary gain to the public, and an advantage
to the individual by whom the redemption shine made. The
chief recommendation of the plan, however, is, that it will dimi-
nish the capital stock, and remove that which presses more se-
verely upon us than any inconvenience with which our situation
is attended. It is a truth now universally felt, a truth which
the enemy have-acknowledged, and which faction itself will not
venture to deny, that even in this stage of the war, the state of
every part of our trade, our industry, and revenue, is astonishing
and proud for-this country ; that our general capital and wealth
is greater than they were even at its commencement ; that our
commerce, so far from having experienced adiminution as in other
wars, has greatly increased; that our industry and manufactures)
subject to those local fluctuations which are inseparable from a
s ystem so extended and diversified, have sensibly advanced ; and
that, on a general view, our situation exhibits every symptom
of internal wealth, that we are richer, that we possess a greater
command of capital than this country ever enjoyed at any former
period. It is singular too, that under the depreciation which the
funds have experienced, the price of land has maintained itself
above the average of former wars, and equal to the price in times
of peace ; • very little indeed below the unexampled state of a few
years preceding the war.

I am aware that no argument is required to demonstrate the
necessity of great exertion in the circumstances in which we
are now placed. You have already expressed your opinion of
that necessity, and have shown your readiness to employ our
resources. All then that is wanting is judgment and discrimina-
tion in the mode of calling them into action. If there be any


chance of diminishing the capital of the funded debt, which is
the only pressure by which our efforts are embarrassed, the
measure, by which it is to be effected, is founded upon clear and
substantial principles of policy. This•is a principle upon which
the House has acted in the course of the present session. Upon
this principle you felt the expediency of making. an extraordi-
nary exertion to raise, within the year, a considerable part of the
supplies. It is a further satisfaction for us to know, that the
energy of the measure has been fully proved ; that though difficult
in detail, though encountered by considerable opposition on its.
appearance, and many obstacles in its progress, its advantages
have been recognised by the country. Though necessary to
qualify it by many modifications, which diminished the full effect
it was intended to have, yet the voluntary zeal of -the country
has borne testimony to the principle; and the contributions with
which the patriotism of individuals has come forward for the pub-
lic defence, furnishes the best proof, that in this measure, the
legislature was in unison with the sentiments of the people. From
what I have heard, the objection to the measure of increasing the
assessed taxes has been, that it did not go far enough ; and
commercial men have declared, that it did not embrace sufficiently
that species of property of which they are possessed. Whatever
may be the decision of the House, as to the principle of the plan
which I am about to propose, I am sure that any measures which
tend to give effect to the same object, which will combine an
annual saving with other collateral advantages, which, without
imposing any new burdens upon the public, will be attended with
considerable benefit to the nation as well as individuals, cannot
fail to be received with the highest favour by this House, and to
secure the approbation of the country.

In stating the principle upon which the plan proceeds, I are
aware that I have claimed a great deal of merit to the measure.
In this, however, I claim none from the proposal. The principle
itself possesses that recommendation which usually belongs to
good principles, that it is so simple t