VOL. I. 3T„,








&c. &c. &c.








LOND02,1, November; 1806.

A 2

sPrinted by A. Strahan,

.nnters-Street, London.


h presenting to the public the following collection
of Mr. Pitt's Speeches, the Editor would persuade
himself that little apology is necessary, either for

. the motives which induced him to undertake the
work, or for the plan upon which it has been con-
ducted. Animated by an ardent zeal and a lively
veneration for the memory of Mr. Pitt, and anxious
that every vestige of that illustrious statesman's par-
liamentary career should be recorded as faithfully
as possible, he has aimed at accomplishing this
object by all the means that diligent and persevering
research coup afford him.

From the journals of Debrett and Woodfall,.
and from other public reports of admitted authen-
ticity, the work has principally derived its mate-

. rials.
These, however, have not been the only



channels, through which intelligence has been re-
ceived. Other sources of more difficult access,
but at the same time of more authoritative inform-
ation, have been consulted, and have contributed
very valuable assistance : and. it has been by col-
lating these various authorities, by detecting the
misrepresentations of some through the avowed
fidelity of others, by discarding errors where they
could be ascertained, and supplying defects where
the means of amendment where within reach, that a
compilation has been formed, not inadequate, it is
hoped, to the expectations of the public. Some
few of the speeches that appear in this collection

'derWent the-revision of Mr. Pitt himself; some
communicated by respectable members of the

of dintiniAis'frOm private note&in their own
; and 'Ofihe remainder, the greater part

1-ifr, been sanctioned by the testimony of those,
:use frequent observation of the style and charac-

ts of the speaker enabled them to determine the

den: of accuracy with which the speeches were

Wi*Eifs-t the Editor presumes to offer this explana-
tion, as to the merits of the collection in general,
he is sensible that some exceptions must be admit-
led: Instances -Will occasionally occur, in which
airs efforts will be feitirid unsuccessful ; where either
the :skeolies are 'presented in an imperfect form,
or where the report of them has been entirely lost.


This is a 'defect, for which no remedy could be dis-
covered - which the utmost caution has not been
able to prevent, nor the most assiduous industry to

In regulating the size of the work, the impor-
tance of the matter has been always the first object
in vieW; nor has the _privilege of rejection ever
been resorted to, but in cases where the nature of
the subject seemed to Warrant - the omission. Few
readers, it isimagined, will make it ground of com-
plaint, that, 'on questions of comparatively inferior
interest, on local and incidental topics, which in
Many instances were discussed rather in the form
of desultory conversation than of serious debate,
the speeches have not been inserted : and to those,
whose curiosity upon points connected with finance
may experience a disappointment in the exclusion
of any of the budget speeches, it may possibly af-
ford some satisfaction to learn that the most cele-
brated of these have been retained—such as, though
perhaps not superior to the others either in clear-
ness of arrangement or precision of detail, exhibit
matter more remarkable for novelty, and abound
with a largo share of general information.

The prefatory and' supplemental notes have been
compressed and used as sparingly, as was found
consistent with the necessary illustration of the
subjects to which they refer.


With these introductory observations it was
deemed expedient to prepare the reader, as to the
nature and execution of the work before him. Of
the exalted character, some portion of whose elo-
quence these pages have attempted to preserve, it
is superfluous to speak. His talents, his patriot-
ism, his virtues, are fresh in the memory of all
and. his country will feel with long and deep regret
its premature loss of them. " Quidquid ex Agri-
cola amavimus, quidquid mirati sumus, manet man-
surumque est in animis hominum, in ceternitate tem-
porum, lama rerum. Nam multos veterum velut
inglorios et ignobiles oblivio obruet, Agricola poste-
ritati narrates et traditus, superstes erit." (TAci-




FEB. 26. 1781. MristEurke's bill for regulating the civill

List of Administration
May 31. — Bill for continuing the commission of pub-

lic accounts
Dec. 6. 1782. Debate on the report of the address to His

List of Administration

Feb. 17. 1783. American peace

--- 21. -- Ditto
Mar. 31. — Motion for a new administration

May 7. Mr. Pitt's motion for a reform in parlia-

List of Administration

June 17. — Mr. Pitt's bill for reforming abuses in the

public offices

Nov. 27. — Second reading of Mr. Fox's East India





List of Administration



Jan. 12. 1784. Debate on postponing the bringing up of a

message from the King

14. - Mr. Pitt's motion for leave to bring in his

East India bill ,71

23. - Second reading of Mr. Pitt's East India
bill 84

29. - Mr. Fox's motion for adjourning the com-

mittee on the state of the nation 91
Feb. 20. Motion by Mr. Powys, that the House

relies on His Majesty's readiness to
comply with the wishes of His Com-

Mar. 1. - Mr. Fox's motion for an address to the

King 101
June 8. Further considerations of the 'Westminster

election 108
July 6. Mr. Pitt opens his new system for the

government of India .118
Feb. 22. 1785. Debate on the resolutions of the Irish par-

Aiament 132
Mar. 9. Motion by Mr. Fox for expunging from

the journals the resolutions respecting
the Westminster scrutiny

April 18. - Mr. Pitt's motion for a reform in the re-

presentation of the people 160
May 5. - Motion for a committee on the East India

company statements 177

12. - Irish commercial regulations 183
Feb. 27. 1786. Mr. Pitt's motion relative to fortifying the

dock-yards 198
Mar. 29. - Reduction of the national debt 217
Feb. 12. 1787. Commercial treaty with France 237
May 9. Charges against Mr. Hastings 254

15. - Mr. Gray's motion for an enquiry into
abuses in the. Post Office 263


Dec. 10. 1788. Proceedings during the King's illness 266
--- 12. -- Ditto 271
- 16. Ditto 277
Jan. 16. 1789. Ditto 298
Mar. 2. 1790. Mr. Fox's motion to repeal the test and

corporation acts 313
Dec. 22. 1790. Motion relative to the impeachment of Mr

Hastings 324
Feb. 17. 1792. Consideration of the state of the public re-

venue and expenditure 337
April 2. African slave-trade 363
Feb. 1. 1793. His Majesty's message respecting an aug-

mentation of the naval and military

- 12. - Ditto, announcing war with France

413.M y 7.
Motion by Mr. Grey respecting a reform

in parliament




_February 26. 1 78 1.

THE House having proceeded to the order of the day on the second
reading of Mr. Burke's bill for the better regulation of His Majesty's
civil list revenue, and for abolishing several useless, expensive, and in-
convenient places, and for applying the monies arising therefrom to the
public service.

Mr. P/TT rose on this occasion for the first time and, in a speech in
answer to matter that had fallen out in the course of the debate, dis-
played great and astonishing powers of eloquence. With a voice rich
and harmonious ; an easy and elegant manner; and language beautiful
and luxuriant, he exhibited, in this first essay, a specimen of oratory
worthy the son of the immortal Chatham.*

He said, that he gave the most hearty consent to what had
fallen from his honourable friend on the .

other side of the House—
that a proposition for the retrenchment of the.

civil list revenue
ought to have come from His Majesty's ministers. He. gave his
entire approbation to this sentiment. It would.-have come with
more grace ; it would have come with more benefit to the pub-
lic service, if it had sprung from the royal breast. His Majesty's
ministers ought to have come forward and proposed a reduction
in the civil list, to give the people the consolation of knowing

Mr. Pitt entered parliament in his 22d year. He was born the 28th
of May, 1759; and took his seat in the House of Commons as represen-
tative for the borough of Appleby on the 23d of January, 17.8i.

The Administration at this time consisted of
Lord North

$ First Lord, of the Treasury and Chancellor
of the Exchequer:


MR. PITT'S [FEB. 26.

that their sovereign participated in the sufferings of the empire,
and presented an honourable example of retrenchment in an hour
of general difficulty. They Ought to have consulted the glory of
their royal master, and have seated him in the hearts of his peo-
ple, by abating from magnificence what was due to necessity.
Instead of waiting for the slow request of a burthened people,
they should have courted popularity by a voluntary surrender of
useless revenue. Far more.agreeable would it have been to that
House to accede, than to propose; much more gracious to have
observed the free exercise of royal bounty, than to make the
appeal and point out what was right or what was necessary. But
if ministers failed to do this ; if they interfered between the be- .
tlignity of the sovereign and the distresses of his people, and
stopped the tide of royal sympathy; was that a reason why the
House of Commons, His Majesty's public counsellors, should de-
sist from a measure so congenial to the paternal feelings of the
sovereign, so applicable to the wants and miseries of the people ?

Earl of Hillsborough
(afterwards Marquis of Downshire)

Lord Viscount Stormont
(afterwards Earl of Mansfield)

Lord George Germain (Colonies.)
Lord Thurlow Lord Chancellor.
Earl Bathurst Lord President of the Council.
Earl of Dartmouth Lord Privy Seal.
Lord Hyde Chancellor. of the D uchy of Lancaster.(atlerwardsEarlofClarendon)
Earl of Sandwich First Lord of the Admiralty.
Lord Viscount Townshend Master General of the Ordnance.
Charles Jenkinson, Esq War.(afterwards Earl of Liverpool) } Secretary at
Right Hon. Richard Rigby Paymaster-General of the Forces.
Welbore Ellis, Esq } Treasurer of the Navy.(afterwards Lord Mendip)
James Wallace, Esq. Attorney-General.
James Mansfield, Esq Solicitor-General.
Earl of Carlisle Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
William Eden, Esq Secretary to do.(afterwards Lord Auckland)


The natural beneficence of the royal heart would be gratified by
the seasonable remittance. And surely it was no reason, be-
cause ministers failed to do their duty, that the House should cease
to attend to theirs. Acting as the faithful representatives of the
people, who had trusted them, they ought to seize on every ob-
ject of equitable resource that presented itself; and surely none
were so fair, so probable, or so flattering, as retrenchment and
economy. The obligations of their character demanded from
them not to hesitate in pursuing those objects, even to the loot
of the throne; and, actuated by duty, to advise the crown to
part with useless ostentation, that he might preserve necessary
power ; to abate a little of pomp, that he might ascertain re-
spect; to diminish a little of exterior grandeur, that he might
encrease and secure authentic dignity. Such advice would be-
come them, as the counsellors of His Majesty, and as the repre-
sentatives of the people; for it was their immediate duty, as the
Commons House of parliament, to guard the lives, the liberties,
and the properties of the people. The last obligation was the
strongest; it was more immediately incumbent upon them to guard
the properties, because they were more liable to invasion by the
secret and subtle attacks of influence, than either their lives or
liberties—It would not derogate from the real glory of the crown
to accept of the advice. It would be no diminution of true gran-
deur to yield to the respectful petitions of the people. The tute-
lage of that House might be a hard term ; but the guardianship
of that House could not be disgraceful to a constitutional

bkino.The abridgment of useless and unnecessary expense could be

abatement of royalty. Magnificence and grandeur were not in-
consistent with retrenchment and economy, but, on the contrary,
in a time of necessity and of common exertion, solid grandeur
was dependent on the reduction of expense. And it was the
general sentiment and observation of the House, that economy
was at this time essentially necessary to national salvation.
This had been the language of the noble lord 4- on the other side
of the House, and he had declared, that, if the bill then before

Lord Nugent.
z 2

Secretaries of State.

MR. pirr .s FEB. 2C,
the House had provided that all the monies to be derived from
the reductions proposed were to be applied to the public service,
he would have given his hearty concurrence in it, and would
have become one of its warmest advocates. Here then he begged
leave to join issue with the noble lord. He had said, that the
savings were to be appropriated towards a fund for creating a
provision for the royal family and this clause he had found in
the bill before them. He begged to inform the noble lord, that
there was a Clause in the bill which expressly stated that the
monies arising from the reductions proposed should be directly
applied to the public service. The only merit that he could
claim in a competition with the noble lord was, that his eyes
were somewhat younger than his, and he would read the clause
to which he alluded. He here read the following clause :

" And it is hereby enacted by the authority aforesaid, that
all salaries, lawful fees, perquisites, and profits whatsoever, be-
longing to all and every the offices by this act suppressed, shall
cease and determine with the determination of the said offices
severally, and be no longer paid ; and that the commissioners
of the treasury shall, within a reasonable time, make, or cause
to be made up, an account of the salaries and fees now payable
for or on account of the said offices severally, as also an account
of all the charges whatsoever, ordinary or extraordinary, in-
curred for, or by reason of the said offices, during (a certain
number) of years last past ; and shall cause a sum, to the
amount of a medium of the said salaries, fees, and charges,
to be annually set apart, and a separate account to be kept of
the same, and to carry the said sum or sums of money, together
with the amount of each and every pension as it shall fall or de-
termine, until the said pension-list be reduced to a sum to be
limited by the act (except as in this act otherwise provided )
to the sinking fund, there to remain for the disposition of par-
liantent." This was the clearest refutation of the noble lord's
assertion ; but his error seemed to have arisen from his having
taken notice of another clause in the act, which ordains that the
monies appropriated to the payment of annuities to be granted


to those persons whose places were to be abolished, should be
placed in a fund, as they should arise by the death of the annui-
tants, to create a provision for the royal family. This was the
error of the noble lord ; he had mistaken this provision for all
the savings of the plan ; unless indeed he imagined that to place
money in the sinking fund, subject to the disposal of parliament,
was not to apply it to the public service. He might consider
the blind profusion of the minister as the public service ; and
unless it had been left to him to be mismanaged and squandered
in his usual way, it was not applying it, in his opinion, to the
public service. He trusted the House would excuse him for
having wantoned with their patience on this point ; and he, for
his own part, should think his time and labour very well repaid,
if thereby he had been fortunate enough to gain over so powerful
an assistant and friend as the noble lord to the principle of the

It had been said by an honourable gentleman who spoke early
in the debate, that the bill connected two objects that ought to
have been kept separate. His honourable friend *

. near him had
shown that these objects ought to go hand in hand together ;
and had very properly contended that this was the fit moment
for introducing reform and economy. He should add, that the
bill had a third object, much more important than either of
these, and that was, the reduction of the influence of the crown

that influence; which the last parliament, by an express reso-
lution, had declared to be increasing, and that it ought to be
diminished--an influence, which was more to be dreaded, be-
cause more secret in its attacks, and more concealed in its oper-
ations, than the power of prerogative. All these objects were
not only coopatible with each other, but they had a mutual
connection, and ought not to be divided in a measure of

In all the arguments of the noble lord who spoke last, on the
subject of the resolutions of the 6th of April, he observed the
noble lord's objections were directed solely to the second of

Mr. John Townshend.
B 3

(.3 MR. PITT'S [Fire. 26,
these resolutions ; he took it for granted, therefore, that the
noble lord admitted the first. That resolution pledged the House
to do something effectual, in compliance with the petitions of
the people. Why then should the House refuse to adopt the pre-
sent bill, the operation of which, in diminishing the influence of
the crown, rendered it, in his opinion, much more valuable than
the mere consideration of the saving it would effect ?

But it had been said, that the saving was immaterial — it was
a matter of trifling consideration, when measured by the neces-
sities, or the expenses of the time. It proposed to bring no
more than 900,0001. a year into the public coffers ; and that
sum was insignificant, in the public account, when compared
with the millions which we spend. This was surely the most
singular and unaccountable species of reasoning that was ever
attempted in any assembly. The calamities of the crisis were
too great to be benefited by economy ! Our expenses were so
enormous, that it was ridiculous to attend to little matters of
account ! We have spent so many millions, that thousands are
beneath our consideration ! We were obliged to spend so
much, that it was foolish to think of saving any I This was the
language of the day, and it was by such reasoning that the
principle of the bill had been disputed.

Much argument had been brought to prove the impropriety,
and the injustice, of resuming a parliamentary grant; and it had
been even said, that they had not a right to do so. It would be
needless to attempt an answer to such a doctrine. It contained
its refutation in its weakness. But it ought to be remembered,
that the civil list revenue was granted by parliament to His Ma-
jesty for other purposes than those of personal gratification. It
was granted to support the power and the interests of the em-
pire, to maintain its grandeur, to pay the judges and the foreign
ministers, to maintain justice and support respect ; to pay the
great officers that were necessary to the lustre of the crown ;
and it was proportioned to the dignity and the opulence of the
people. It would be an ungracious task. to investigate the great
difference that there was between the wealth of the empire when


that revenue was granted, and the wealth at the present time.
It would serve, however, to spew, that the sum of revenue which
was necessary to the support of the common dignity of crown
and people, at that time, ought now to be abated, as the neces-
sities had increased. The people who granted that revenue, un-
der the circumstances of the occasion, were justified in resuming
a part of it, under the pressing demand of an altered situation.
They clearly felt their right ; but they exercised it with pain and
regret. They approached the throne with bleeding hearts, af-
flicted at the necessity of applying for retrenchment of the royal
gratifications ; but the request was at once loyal and submissive.
It was justified by policy, and His Majesty's compliance with the
request was inculcated by prudence, as well as by affection.

He confessed, that when he considered the obligations of the
House, he could not cherish the idea that they would dispute the
principle of the bill before them. He could not believe it pos-
sible that the principle of economy would be condemned, or the
means of accomplishing it abandoned. For his own part, he
admitted the plan proposed. He felt himself, as a citizen of
this country, and a member of that House, highly indebted to
the honourable author of it ; and as he considered it essential to.
the being, and the independence of his country, he would give.
it the most determined support.

On a division, the motion for the second reading was negatived,

Noes 233

and the bill was then put off to that day six months.

May 31. 17814.
THE order of the day was read for going intoa.committee on the bilk

for paying into the exchequer the balances in the hands of public ac.
countants. On the question for the Speaker's leaving the chair,

Col. Barre moved " That it be an instruction to the committee, that
they have power to make provision in the said bill for removing the conr

B 4,

MR. PITT'S [11,1A-Y 31.

missioners named , by the said act, and for substituting other commis-
sioners in their stead, who are members of the House of Commons."

Lord North opposed Col. Barr6's motion.
Mr. Pitt, in support of it, said,

It was-so universally admitted, on general principles of theory,
that the House could not constitutionally delegate any of its
powers and privileges, that he wondered that any gentleman
could hesitate upon a question of so important a nature, for a
single moment-; for' what was the matter in dispute at present ;
no less than, whether that House should forego, and delegate into
other hands, that most essential of all the various privileges with
which it was invested by the constitution, the privilege of redress-
ing the grievances, and alleviating the burthens of the people!
The people had called upon them to examine into the expenses
of the war, to see if they could find a system of reformation
and economy; and if they could, to take care that it was immedi-
ately.adOpted, and closely adhered to for the future. This was a
duty which., even undirected, they were bound to perform ; but
it was a duty which they not only had uniformly neglected to
discharge, but were now piing to appoint others to do for them.
It was the peculiar duty of that House to watch, examine, and
correct, the expenditure of the public money. He conceived
the proposed delegation to be an absolute surrender of that most
invaluable right with which they were invested by their consti-
tuents, and for which in particular they were appointed. What
was it that gave the House of Commons their importance in the
legislature, their .respect and their authority ? What, but the
power of the purse ? Every branch of the legislature had some-
thing peculiar to distinguish and to characterize it; and that
which at once gave the character and elevation of the Commons
House of parliament was, that they held the strings of the na-
tional purse, and were entrusted with the great important
power, first of granting the money, and then of correcting the
expenditure. To delegate this right, then, he considered as a
violation of what gave them their chief consequence in the le-
gislature; and what, above all Other privileges, they could not



surrender nor delegate without a violent breach of the con-

The noble lord * seemed fully impressed with the importance
of this commission : be admitted its proper execution to be es-
sential for the public interest, and that the salvation of the state
depended upon it, yet he called upon the constitutional guar-
dians of the people to commit into the bands of others, a trust
so unspeakably consequential, and be mere spectators of an in-
quiry which was to decide upon the fate of their country. The
noble lord had said, that the present commissioners of accounts
were merely to, inquire, examine, and report, and that it was
reserved for parliament to judge, to determine, and to act ; that
the final deliberation was. reserved to them, and they had the
power to reject such measures, proposed by the commissioners;
as they might deem inconsistent with the public welfare. How
humiliating, how miserable a picture of parliamentary power
was this ! So then, all the power of parliament, with respect
to the alleviation of national burthens, the redress of griev-
ances, the reform of expense, the economy, the system, the
elucidation of office, :

was sunk into a disgraceful negative ! One
positive power, indeed,. an odious power remained, — the power
of taxing the people, whenever the noble lord thought proper;
the power of making them. pay for the noble lord's wild schemes
and lavish corruption. If any plan was formed and suggested,
by which thousands might be saved, by which the expenditure
might be simplified, the influence of the crown diminished ;
and the responsibility of ministers be more clearly established ;
by. which the engine of government might be relieved from that
load of machinery which rendered its movements so slow, so in-
tricate, and so confused; then the House of Commons possessed
only the power of putting a negative upon every such proposi-
tion. The power of oppressing and burthening the people,
therefore, was the only parliamentary power that remained posi-
tive anti active, while the power of doing good, and of reliev-
ing the distresses of the subject, was merely negative. He bad

Lord North.


often heard that the crown had a constitutional power of putting
a negative on the acts of the Commons, but he had never before
heard that the Commons had the power to put a negative on the
wishes of the people, when those wishes tended towards the esta-
blishment of a plan of reformation. He was almost going to
say, he could hardly have imagined that the noble lord would
have ventured to assert as much : perfectly sure he was that no
man else would have dared to have suggested even an opinion
that approached towards such a position. What then were the
arguments on which the noble lord had rested the vindication of
the House for such scandalous inattention to their business ?

The noble lord had talked a great deal of the experience of
the present commissioners, and had said every thing in their
praise that the most elaborate panegyrist could have uttered ; he
had collected their eulogy from all sides of the House, and had
poured forth a profusion of compliments on their wonderful ef-
forts, and the great and successful effects of their inquiry. With-
out designing to detract in the least from their real merit, it was
perfectly fair, he conceived, to examine a little what were the
mighty benefits deduced to the public from the acknowledged
industry of these commissioners? Theoretical principles, he was
ready to admit, must sometimes be suffered to give way for the
sake of practical advantages ; but then, the first ought never to
be departed from, but in cases where there was almost a moral
certainty that the second were within reach, and would be at-
tained. In the present case, the commissioners had examined
into, and stated in their reports, the amount of several balances
in the hands of several public accountants; in doing this, the
noble lord would not, he trusted, venture to say that they had
done any more than a commission, filled by members of that
House, was competent to perform. In his opinion nothing could
be more degrading to parliament than such an idea ; for, by the
nature of his duty, every representative of the people should be
capable of examining how their money was expended. But were
not many of them, in fact, versed in the business of public ac-
counts ? In one of their reports, however, they had come a

little nearer to a compliance with the prayers of the people, and
had gone so far as to point out, with great humility and great
deference, an alteration that seemed to them likely to be at-
tended with advantage to the people, by a more economical re-
gulation of office. What did the noble lord in that case ? He
put a negative upon it, and that not by any parliamentary pro-
ceeding; he did not even allow them the exercise of that power
of judging and of acting, of which he had said so much, but he
took upon himself to negative the proposition of those commis-
sioners of accounts, in whose praise he had been so lavish, and
to tell parliament, that although the commissioners had pointed
out the inconvenience, and even suggested a remedy, he did not
mean to attend to the one, or adopt the other, because he had
been told by a great board that the alteration proposed was im-
practicable. So that the noble lord had disregarded the report
of the commissioners, a report delivered in upon oath, and having
all the facts stated in it ascertained upon the oaths of a variety
of witnesses, and had preferred the loose conversation of a pub-
lic board; suffering them to become the unsworn witnesses in
their own cause. He had not the smallest objection to the board
of treasury's conferring with the navy board or any other; but it
was a little extraordinary that the noble lord should have assigned
it as a reason for not adopting the regulation proposed, and for
not even giving parliament an opportunity of putting its own
negative upon it, that he had been told it was i mpracticable by
the very board likely to be affected by the alteration.

Such was the distressed situation of this country at present,
that he was aware mere forms, and even those which were the
most dear, most essential, and most valuable forms of parliament,
must be foregone for the sake of immediate and essential public
ease, satisfaction, and benefit; he, therefore, much as he
disliked the idea of continuing the present commissioners, in
preference to members of that House, so far differed from his
honourable friends, that he was ready to vote for the present
bill, even under the noble lord's limitation of it, provided that

mediate ease, satisfaction, and benefit would result from it to

MR. PITT'S r MAY 31-

the public. But was this likely to be the case ? Let the noble
lord, and let the House remember, that it was on the noble
lord's solemnly pledging himself, that the extraordinaries of the
army should be submitted to the inquiry of the commissioners
of accounts immediately, that the debate on that immense claim
for the present year had been given up. If, therefore, the noble
lord now went back from his promise ; if he shifted the matter
and did not fulfil what he had pledged himself to perform, all
the world must see that the noble lord had cheated and ensnared'
the House with false hopes ; mid hypocritically deluded them out
of that full and scrutinous discussion, and inquiry into the extra-
ordinaries of the army, which a subject of such great importance
undoubtedly called for, and would have met with. But the
noble lord having pretended that he himself was astonished at their
enormous amount, and-having pledged himself that the commis--
sioners should be instructed to inquire into the cause of it imme-
diately, the House had confidence in his promise, and dropped,
or at least suspended the investigation. What was it that had
carried the noble lord through the present session, but the pro-
mise of the reformation which the commissioners of accounts
were to effect? and what hopes were there of their doing any
good under the present circumstances of the commission ? The
noble lord has said, the reason why he was not willing to accede
to the proposition, to insert the word " immediately," moved in
the preceeding debate by his honourable friend, was this — because
they had not yet gone through that ground of inquirythey had
begun upon ; a ground of inquiry extremely narrow of itself,
and which he. could not but suspect had been studiously laid
down by the original bill, as the object to which the commis-
sioners were first to direct their attention, whereby parliament
and the people would be diverted. and silenced. And here he

must remark, that he verily believed on his credit, his honour,
and his conscience, that the noble lord meant and designed,
that the commissioners should spend their time in inquiring into
trifles without going into an examination of any great, extensive,
and important object, the better to continue the deception,


and to carry on the hypocrisy and deceit that had already led
that House into so many votes, disgraceful to themselves, and
ruinous to the' public.

The noble lord, Mr. Pitt observed, affecting more than com-
mon modesty, had spoken in the third person— " the noble lord,
he was sure, if the commissioners were to be chosen from among
the members of that House, would not wish to have the nomi-
nation of them." This was asingular remark from a minister
who had named every one of the present commissioners ; but,•
perhaps, It had some truth in it. Indeed, he would do the noble
lord so much justice-as to declare, that if his honourable friend's
motion was carried, mid it was agreed that the commissioners to
act under the new bill were to-be chosen from among the mem-
bers of that House, by ballot, he did not believe the noble lord
would interfere, and make up a list of names, who, on all occa-
sions, were found among his followers. Such a measure would

•be too palpable, and too gross a mockery of all justice, and all
fairness, fbr the noble lord to venture ; it would be at the same
time too shameful an avowal of influence for the noble lord's
tools to submit to, pliant and accommodating as they were, and
too gross even for the profligate impudence of his adherents to
defend. The noble lord, therefore, might safely adopt the pro-
position, and might rest assured he would not be accused of
having used the influence of his situation to procure a partial

The present commissioners were said to be experienced, be-
cause they had already executed some part of their business,
and made very accurate reports ; but it should be remembered,
that the inquiry they had hitherto made, was of a nature quite
different from that on which they were now to enter. As yet,
they had only examined into the receipts of the exchequer, and
other branches of public accounts, which were recommended to
their attention by the board of treasury, as primary objects,
when the commission was first instituted, and which were un-
doubtedly very simple ; but those greater and more general
objects of ref

ormation, for which a commission of accounts was

14, MR. PITT'S [MAY Si.

first proposed, had not been touched upon. In every future
branch of the business, therefore, they were entire novices,
except in one article of the first class, that still remained to be
examined.; they had still to determine how much current cash
should remain with the paymaster-general : but there was time
enough for an inquiry of that kind before the expiration of the
former act, and another report might still be received this session.
In what, then, as to the grand objects of reformation, were those
-gentlemen better qualified for commissioners than members of
that House ? Not, surely, by their former habit of life ! No one
could respect their characters more than himself; but what were
their former avocations ? One was Sir Guy Carleton, an officer
of distinguished merit ; but military and numerical talents were
not necessarily connected. Another, Mr. Pigot, was young in
a profession to which he could not be thought an enemy, but
he could. not admit that it qualified gentlemen for a commission
of this kind. Added to these, there were masters of chancery.
In short, men of almost every description, but of that peculiar
description which belonged to members of that House, viz. men
accustomed to transacting national business.

Another argument used by the noble lord was this, that a
delay having occurred in the initiation of this business, it would
be again retarded by changing its conductors ; for the delay had
not arisen from any official neglect of the treasury : No, that was
impossible; they could never think of obstructing an inquiry
into national expenditures ! But here his former answer would
apply; the future subject of inquiry differing essentially from
the past, if preparation was necessary it would be equally so to
the old. as to the new commissioners ; for the former would of
course deliver over to their successors all papers and articles of
undigested evidence now in their possession.

The noble lord had admitted that it was true, Sir Guy Carle-
ton and Mr. Pigot had. desired to retire, and that for the reasons
before stated ; but that such were their good wishes, such their
zeal to serve the public, from a consciousness of the good that
had arisen, and of the greater degree of good that might arisp


f1r7o8n1;t3he prosecution of their labours as commissioners, that they
had determined to give up every personal consideration, and
continue to act under the renewed commission. The plain Eng-
lish of this argument was, that Sir Guy Carleton bad determined
to have no more ill health ; and that Mr. Pigot was determined
to have no more business. For this, ridiculous and absurd
as it was, was the only rational interpretation that could be put
on the noble lord's words. Again, the noble lord had boasted
greatly of the experience of the present commissioners ; and
had said, that no persons could be equally capable of discharging
the duty of commissioners with those who had been tried,
who had been found able, and who had given proofs of their
talents, their assiduity, and their integrity. He admitted that
they were men able, industrious, and honest; that their reports
were clear, and their attention indefatigable ; but as to their
superior abilities and assiduity, without his selecting any of
those gentlemen whom he had the happiness to see round lain,
surely it would be no very difficult matter to find six gentlemen
on either side of the House, to the full as able, as prompt, as
industrious, and as honest, as the present commissioners of
accounts had shewn themselves.

After a variety of particular arguments, all strongly

cable to what Lord North had suggested; Mr. Pitt resumed his
general argument, as well on the propriety and the necessity of
reformation, as on the duty of the House to-listen to the voice
of the people, and do something more than follow the noble lord
in every proposition he offered, let it be good or bad, solid or
superficial, politic or impolitic. He earnestly conjured them to
use their own eyes, and to consult their own understandings; to
return to a sense of their duty to the people ; to act like honest,
independent members of parliament ; and nb longer implicitly
to pin their faith on the sleeve of a minister, whose sole object
it was to deceive and mislead, just as best answered his pur-
pose. He concluded with a pathetic exhortation to the noble lord,
that he would at least give up this point, and shew the public that
some substantial remedy' was intended for their complicated mis-

MR. PITT'S [Mc. 6.

fortunes. If this commission was properly . constituted, there
might still remain some hopes for the prosperity of this country ;
for, having once returned into the path of rectitude, they might
go on progressively from one step of reformation to another.
But, if the motion was rejected, and the old and vicious system
of government thus in every point tenaciously adhered to, the

freedom of the people, and the independence of that House,
must be buried in the same grave with the power, the ono
lence, and the glory of the empire.

Colonel Barre's motion was negatived,
Ayes 42
Noes 98

and the House then resolved itself into the committee.

December 6. 1782.

THE report from the committee who had been appointed the preceding
day, to frame the address to His Majesty, being brought up by Mr. Yorke,

the Marquis of Rockingham, and the other by the Earl of Shelburne.
The Marquis of Rockingham's Administration,which lasted only from

Two new Administrations had this year been formed, the one by

March till July, was composed as follows :

Marquis of Rockingham First Lord of the Treasury. -
Earl of Shelburne Z Principal Secretaries of State. (The
Hon. Charles James Fox .. S third secretaryship abolished.)
Lord John Cavendish Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Admiral Keppel

} First Lord of the Admiralty.
(created a Viscount)

Duke of Grafton Lord Privy Seal.
Lord Camden President of the Council.
Duke of Richmond Master-General of the Ordnance.
Lord Thurlow To continue Chancellor.
General Conway . Commander in Chief of the Forces.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lances-
John Dunning, Esq............... ter, and created Baron Ashburton.

The above composed the Cabinet.
Hon. Thos. Townshend Secretary atWar.

Mr. Burke took this occasion to call the attention of the House to -a

very ingenious and forcible commentary on the speech of the King's
ministers, as delivered from the throne; and, after using a great deal of
laughable, mixed with a portion of serious, argument, he Concluded
with declaring, that he considered the speech as a compound of.hypo-
crisy, self-condemnation, contradiction, and folly; and that, were it not,
that unanimity was so absolutely necessary at the present crisis, he
would have moved an amendment to the address; which, even yet,
he was hardly determined against doing.

MR. PITT, in answer, observed, that the present was a moment
for seriousness, and not for mirth. The gay flowers of a bril-

Colonel Barre

Treasurer of the Navy.
Edmund Burke, Esq

Paymaster-General of the Forces.
Lloyd Kenyon, Esq..

(afterwards Lord Kenyon)
} Attorney-General.

John Lee, Esq

Duke of Portland

Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
Hon. Richard Fitzpatrick

Secretary to do.

of the Marquis of Rockingham, consisted of
Lord Shelburne's Administration, which succeeded upon the death

Earl of Shelburne

First Lord of the Treasury.
Hon. William Pitt

Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Lord Grantham

} Principal Secretaries of State.Thos. Townshend, Esq
Lord Thurlow

Lord Keppel

Lord Camden

Duke of Grafton

Duke of Richmond

Lord Ashburton

Sir George Yongc

Henry Dundas, Esq

(afterwards Lord Melville)
Colonel Barre

LloydKenyon, Esq

(afterwards Lord Kenyon)
John Lee, Esq

Earl Temple

Hon. Wm. Wyndham Grenville(afterwards Lord Grenville)
VOL. 1.

Lord Chancellor.
First Lord of the Admiralty.
President of the Council.
Lord Privy Seal.
Master-General of the Ordnance.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Secretary at War.

} Treasurer of the Navy.
Paymaster of the Forces.


Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
} Secretary to do,


MR. PiTT'S [DEC. 6.

liant and exuberant fancy were proper for their season, — for
hours of jollity and recreation. He should be happy to share in
the delights of that fertile imagination which had so long been
the wonder and pleasure of that House ; but he could not consent
to indulge himself in admiring " the beautiful motes which
people the sunbeam," when his mind was occupied with objects
so serious and important as those now before the House, nor
could he approve of the indiscretion of that wit, which so un-
seasonably ran away with the good sense and sober judgment of
the honourable gentleman. He said he was as willing as any
man to unbend his mind, and indulge in the recreation of the
theatre ; but it was only in the theatre, and in circles of amuse-
Ment, that sober men would choose to give a loose to imagin.
ation, and abstract their minds from all business and reflection.
He now rose, therefore, to bring back the House"to sobriety and
seriousness; and to tell them that this was neither a fit time,
nor a proper subject for the exhibition of a gaudy fancy, or the
wanton blandishments of theatrical enchantment : it was their
duty and business to break the magician's wand, to dispel the
cloud, beautiful as it was, which had been thrown over their
heads, and consider solemnly and gravely the very perilous
situation of the country, and by the force of their united wis-
dom, abilities, and experience, endeavour to rescue the king-
dom from its difficulties by the restoration of an honourable
peace. The honourable gentleman had paid him many compli-
meats, which he was sorry he could not either accept or thank
him for, as they were accompanied with animadversions of such
a nature, that only the elegance of the gentleman's genius could.
save them from being ridiculous.— All such playful exercises of
the gentleman's talent for the gay and ludicrous, he should treat
with the same neglect with which all sober men would treat
them ; and all compliments paid to him in such a style, he
should• never think himself bound to acknowledge. That his
character of the speech, in regard to the matter and manner,
would he admitted by the House, he could not believe, because
he could not believe that they would consent to call that speech


a farrago of hypocrisies and absurdities, which they had unani-
mously approved, and for which they had, nenzzne contradicente,
agreed to present His Majesty with an address of thanks. That
His Majesty's serious admonitions to his parliament should be
branded with such epithets ; that his feelings on so serious a sub-
ject as the dismemberment of his empire, should be outraged;
that his speech, delivered with all the sacredness of royalty,
should be charged with mockery, hypocrisy, and even profane-
ness, were things which he did not expect to hear; and which
nothing could justify but the circumstance of' their being the
overfiowings of a mind, the richness of whose wit was unchecked
for the time by its wisdom and consideration.

For his part, he was in a more serious mind. He would en-
deavour, therefore, to pursue a different language from what
the honourable gentleman had chosen; and, as he should not
imitate him in style, neither would he resemble him in length.

In His Majesty's speech there was nothing that called for the
ludicrous treatment the honourable gentleman had been pleased
to bestow upon it. The language was plain, intelligible, sincere,
and adapted to the occasion, and the address then under consi-
deration was equally expressed with propriety. In order, there-
fore; that His. Majesty's ministers might yet know what part of
it was liable to objection, he begged it might be discussed in a
manner suitable to the subject. He had the day before addressed
himself to grave and independent men, with a view to find if
there really appeared cause of objection to any part of it ; that
His Majesty's ministers might have an opportunity of openly
clearing up any doubts that might be entertained, and of con-
vincing that House, that their intentions were founded in a sea-
Ions endeavour to promote the public good, and that in a man-
ner the most unexceptionable. With regard to the construction
put upon various passages by the honourable gentleman who spoke
last, they were, upon the face of them, such as could not be
maintained for a moment, by fair and serious argument. After
defending that pay of the speech in which His Majesty depre,•
Bates the evils that might follow such a dismemberment of the•

MR. PITT'S [Mc. 6.

empire• as the recognition of the independence of America
creates, he said, the honourable gentleman, among other interpo-
lations and misconstructions of the text, (for it was evident he
had tortured the text repeatedly for the sake of furnishing an
opportunity to pursue an inapplicable comment) had chosen to
connect the paragraph expressive of the readiness shewn by the
subjects of the city of London in the general defence, with the
mention of the proof of public spirit that had been given by some
particular persons ; two matters as distinct and separate as could
possibly be. Was that House, was any man, a stranger to the zeol
of certain descriptions of persons in the metropolis, who, when
the government, by a vigorous effort, was sending all the fleets
of this country from our own coasts, to the relief of Gibraltar,
offered to embody themselves for the defence of the city ? Had
that fact any natural analogy to the offer of money to build
ships with for the use of the public ? Was there an idea-enter-
tained by- any one member of that House, that there was the
smallest degree of intention in His Majesty's ministers to apply
the voluntary proofs of public spirit in private individuals, to an
unconstitutional or a dangerous purpose ? To what end then
attempt, by arguments so ill suited and uncalled for, to endea-
vour to damp the ardour of the country, and repress its spirit in
a moment when it was most necessary to be excited ? The ho-
nourable gentleman had ridiculed the calling forth of the temper,
wisdom, and disinterestedness -of parliament. Would any serious
man attempt to maintain, that the exigency of the times did
not render every possible exertion of the temper, wisdom, and
disinterestedness of parliament necessary ? and, that being al-
lowed, would it be contended that it was an insult to parliament
to endeavour to arouse its attention, and that the admonition,
so gravely and solemnly given from the throne, was either un-
seasonable or indiscreet ? The serious part, therefore, of what
had fallen from the honourable gentleman, he considered as illo-
gical and ill-founded: the trifling part, as the redundancy of an
over-luxuriant imagination, which, in the hour of cool reflection,
the honourable gentleman, he was convinced, would confess to
[rave been ill-timed and improper.

With regard to the honourable gentleman's question of the

sincerity and reality of the explanation of the provisional articles,
which he had just given, he knew not'Whether the honourable
gentleman meant to insinuate that he would be guilty of equi-
vocation, when he solemnly stood up as a minister in that
House, and gave an explicit answer to a question explicitly put
to him ; but he trusted to his hitherto unirriperiched character,
that the House would not in candour suspect him to be capable
of any such base and scandalous duplicity, till they had proof of
his guilt ; when they believed he was guilty, he should expect
their detestation ; but lithe honourable gentleman now meant to
impute any such charge to him, he should only say, that the im-
putation had, if it might be permitted to a young man to say so
to 'one so much older than himself, his scorn and his contempt. If
he had deceived the House in this instance, he desired to be con-
sidered no longer fit to be trusted in any degree. He pledged
himself on his honour, that he would never sacrifice his veracity,
nor be a party to a fraud, for any poor and inadequate advantages
which he could reap from his continuance in a station, for which
he did not think himself qualified.

The Address was afterwards agreed to.

February 17. 1783.

Debate on the Preliminary Articles of Peace with France and Spain, and
the Provisional Treat, ?via America.

THE address approving of the treaties was moved by Mr. Thomas Pitt;
upon which an amendment was proposed by Lord Joim Cavendish, omit-
ting the expressions which pledged the House to the approval of the
treaties, and promising that the House would proceed to take the same
into their serious consideration.

Mr. PITT spoke in answer to the various arguments that had
been adduced against the motion for the address to the throne.


MR. PITT'S [FEB. 17.

He was pointedly severe on the gentlemenwho had spoken against
the address, and particularly on Mr. Sheridan. No man ad-
Mired more than he did the abilities of that right honourable
gentleman, the elegant sallies of his thought, the gay effusions of
his fancy, his dramatic turns, and his epigrammatic points ; and
if they were reserved for the proper stage, they would no doubt
receive, what the honourable gentleman's abilities always did
receive, the plaudits of the audience; and it would be his fortune,

" plausu gaudere theatri."
tut this was not the proper scene for the exhibition of these ele.
gancies; and he therefore must beg leave to call the attention of
the House to the serious consideration of the very important
question then before them.

The clamours excited against the peace were loud in propor,
tion to their injustice ; and it was generally the case that where
Men complained without cause, they complained without tempers
It was necessary to look back, notwithstanding all that the ho-
nourable gentleman on the other side of the way had said, to the
language of that House, and to the sentiments of that House on
this very subject. Had they forgot the resolutions of last session,
by which ministers were bound to recognize the independence of
America? Had they considered that that resolution, in which
he for one most heartily concurred, took at the same time from
ministers their advantage ground in negotiation; and deprived
them of the opportunity of proposing independence as a boon
to be conceded, as a matter to be offered as the price, or as the
basis of peace ? Had they forgot the application made by the
right honourable gentleman over the way* to the Dutch, an ap-
plication couched in terms, to his feeling, more degrading than
any concession in the present peace ? Had they forgot the lam:
gunge of that day, when we Were told that we must have peace
On any terms; peace for a •year, for a day, just to give us a little
breathing tune? N'kete not these things to be remembered? or
were they to be told, that times and circumstances were so
completely changed; that what would have been desirable then,

Mr. FOX.


would not be so now? Were the circumstances so materially
changed? Yes, they were ; for these opinions were given, and
these assertions made, when the right honourable gentleman
was in office, and when the task of making peace was likely
to fall on his own head. This was the change ;' this was the ma-
terial alteration of circumstances which had taken place, and
which now called for different conditions. The right honourable
gentleman was no longer in place : he was no longer responsible
for the terms, and therefore the circumstances were changed.

But to chew that there was no other change of circumstances,
he went into a long and particular detail of the relative situa-
tion of the belligerent powers— their strength, their resources,
their wants, their objects, and their prospects, deducing from this
the inference, that it was absolutely and indispensably necessary
for this country to have peace, and that under all the circumstances
of the nation at the time, the terms which he had procured, were
fair and advantageous. That be might prove this to be the case,
he examined the articles, and spoke particularly to the points which
had been complained of— the boundaries of Canada, the fishery
of Newfoundland, the cession of the Floridas, the abandonment
of the loyalists, and the other topics which had engaged the atten-
tion of the House ; recommending to them temper and mode-
ration, and spurning at all unseasonable and invidious schemes of
opposition, in a moment so calamitous and alarming to the state.

With respect to the unnatural alliance which it was reported
had taken place, Mr. Pitt said, it was undoubtedly to be reckoned
among the wonders of the age. It was not easy to reduce such
an event to any common rule of judging of men. It stretched
to a point of political apostacy, which not only astonished so
young a man as he was, but apparently astonished and con-
founded the most veteran observers of the human heart. He
was excessively severe on this junction, and spoke in most pointed
terms of reproach.*

* Mr. Sheridan, in rising afterwards to explain, took notice of the perso-
nal allusions which Mr.Pitt had introduced in his speech. "On the partieu.
lar sort of personality which the right honourable gentleman had thought
proper to make use of; he need not, he said, make any comment—the pro-


MR. PITT'S [FEn. 21.

At half past seven in the morning the House divided
For the amendment 224
Against it 208

Majority against ministers...16

reb /limy 2 1 . 1 7 8 3 .

THE discussion of the Preliminary Articles of Peace with France,
Spain,and America, being this day restuned, the following resolutions cen-
suring the terms of the peace, were moved by Lord John Cavendish.

1st. " That in consideration of the public faith which ought to be pre-
served inviolate, this House will support His Majesty in rendering firm
and permanent the peace to be conducted definitively, in consequence of
the Previsional Treaty and Preliminary Articles which have been laid
before the House."

2d. " That this House will, in concurrence with His Majesty's paternal
regard for his people, employ its best endeavours to improve the bless-
ings of peace, to the advantage of his crown and subjects."

5d. " That His Majesty, in acknowledging the independence of the
United States of America, by virtue of the powers vested in him by
the act of the last session of. parliament, to enable His Majesty to con-
clude a peace or truce with certain colonies in North America, has
acted as the circumstances of affairs indispensably required, and in
conformity to the sense of parliament."

4th. " That the concessions made to the adversaries of Great Britain,
by the said Provisional Treaty and Preliminary Articles, are greater than
they were entitled to, either from the actual situation of their respective
possessions, or from their comparative strength."

priety, the taste, the gentlemanly point of it, must have been obvious to the
House. But, saidMr. Sheridan,let me assure the right honourable gentle-
man, that I do now, and will at any time when he chooses to repeat this
sort of allusion, meet it with the most sincere good humour. Nay, I will
say more—flattered and encouraged by the right honourable gentleman's
panegyric on my talents, if ever I again engage in the compositions he
alludes to, I may be tempted to an act of presumption — to attempt an
improvement on one of Ben Jonson's best characters, the character 4
the Angry Boy in the 41chymist."


After Mr. Fox had cdncluded a very long and forcible speech in sup.
port of the resolutions,

Mr. PITT rose, and delivereil his sentiments as follows :

Sin, Revering, as I do, the great abilities of the honourable
gentleman who spoke last, I lament, in common with the House,
when those abilities are misemployed, as on the present question,
to inflame the imagination and mislead the judgment. I am told,
Sir, " he does not envy me the triumph of my situation on this
day," a sort of language which becomes the' candour of that ho-
nourable gentleman as ill as his present principles. The triumphs
of party, Sir, with which this self-appointed minister seems so highly
elate, shall never seduce me to any inconsistency which the busiest
suspicion shall presume to glance at. I will never engage in
political enmities without a public cause. I will never forego
such enmities without the public approbation ; nor will I be ques-
tioned and cast of in the face of this House, by one virtuous and
dissatisfiedfriend.* These, Sir, the sober and durable triumphs
of reason, over the weak and profligate inconsistencies of party
violence; these, Sir, the steady triumphs of virtue over success
itself, shall be mine, not only in my present situation, but through
every future condition of my life ; triumphs which no length of
time shall diminish ; which no change of principle shall ever sully.

The fatal consequence of Tuesday's vote, which I then depre-
cated and foretold, is already manifest in this House, and it has
been thought on all sides requisite, to give a new stability to the
peace, which that vote had already shaken. But the proof which
the present motive is about to establish, that see are determined
to abide by this peace, is a declaration that we have examined
the terms, and have found them inadequate. Still less consistent
is this extraordinary motion with the language of Tuesday.
It was then urged, that no sufficient time had been allowed us
to, determine on the articles before us ; and in the short space
of two days, we are ready to pass a vote of censure on what
we declare we have not had leisure to discuss. This, Sir, is the
first monstrous production of that strange alliance, which threat..

* Supposed to allude to Sir Cecil Wray, Mr. Powys, &c.

Jamaica. Who, Sir, can suppose with serious confidence, that.
island could have long resisted a regular attack, supported by
seventy-two sail of the line ? Admiral Pigot, after his reinforce-
ment from Europe, would have commanded a fleet of only forty-
six sail, and it has long been acknowledged in this House, that
defensive war must terminate in certain ruin. Would Admiral
Pigot have undertaken at this time refenSiVe operations against
the islands of the enemy?—Those islands on which Lord Rodney,
flushed with victory, could not venture to attempt an impres-
sion? Would Admiral Pigot, Sir, have regained by arms what
the ministers have recovered by treaty? Could he in the sight of
a superior fleet, have recaptured Grenada, Dominique, St. Kitt's,
Nevis, and Montserrat? Or, might we not too reasonably ap-
prehend the campaign in the West Indies would have closed with
the loss of Jamaica itself, the remnant of our possessions in that
part of the globe?

Let us next consider our situation in the East. A mere defen.
sive resistance, however glorious, had entitled Sir Edward
Hughes to the thanks of this House; but his success, if it may be
termed a victory, had not. prevented the enemy from landing a
greater European force than we actually possess in India, and
who at this instant are in conjunction with Hyder subduing arid
desolating the Carnatic.

The prospect is by no means brightened when we look forward
to the probable operations in the Channel, and in the Northern
Seas, during the course of the ensuing summer. Thirteen new
sail of the line would at that time have been added to the fleet
et France ; and the Dutch force, as it Has been accurately
stated by a great naval officer*, in this debate, would have
amounted to twenty-five sail of the line. What accession the
Spanish force would have received, is not sufficiently known. It
is enough for me to state, the fleets of Bourbon and of Holland
would have doubled ours in our own seas, should we have seized
the intervals of their cruize, and poorly paraded the Channel for

Commodore Keith Stuart.

M1. PITT'S [VE% 21.

ens once more to plunge this devoted country into all the horrors
of another war.

It is not, Sir, an exception to any single article, if well-founded
exceptions should really exist, that ought to determine the merits
of this Areaty. Private interests have their respective advo-
cates, - and subjects may be easily found for partial complaints :
but private interests must bend to the public safety. What these
complaints may prove is indeed yet unknown : for whilst the ho-
nourable gentleman alone is describing with so much confidence
the distresses and dissatisfactions of trade, she herself is approach- I
ing the throne with the effusions of gratitude and affection. The
honourable gentleman who spoke last, has fairly stated the terms
by which the merits of this peace are to be decided — the relative
strength and resources of the respective powers at war. I will im-
mediately meet him on this issue.

I shall begin, Sir, with a most important subject, the state of
the British navy; and shall refer myself for proofs of what I as-
sert, to the papers now lying on your table. This appeal, Sir, to

solid and authentic documents, will appear the more just and ne-
cessary, when I acquaint the House, that a noble lord*, from whom
the honourable gentleman professes to receive his naval inform-
ation, has varied in his statements to the cabinet, no less than
twenty sail of the line.

We are informed, Sir, from the papers before us, that the Bri-
tish force amounted nearly to one hundred sale of the line. —
Many of these had been long and actively employed on foreign
stations. 'With diligent exertions, six new ships would have been
added to the Catalogue in March. The force of France and
Spain amounted to nearly one hundred and forty sail of the line,
sixty of which were lying in Cadiz harbour, stored and victualled
for immediate service. Twelve ships of the line, including one
newly built by the United States, had quitted Boston harbour
under Vaudreuii, in a state of perfect repair. An immense land-
armament was collected at St. Domingo. These several forces
were united in one object, and that object was the reduction of

*' Lord Keppel.

MR. PITT'S [FEB. 21.

a few weeks, to tarnish again, by flight, the glories of the last cam-
paign? Or should we have dared to risque the existence of the
kingdom itself, by engaging against such fearful odds?

What were the feelings of every one who hears me, (what were
my own feelings it is impossible to describe,) when that great man,
Lord Howe, set sail with our only fleet ; inferior to the enemy,
and under a probability of an engagement on their own coasts ?
My apprehensions, Sir, on this occasion, however great, were
mixed with hope ; I knew the superiority of British skill and cou-
rage might outweigh the inequality of numbers. But, Sir, in an-
other quarter, and at the same instant of time, my apprehensions
were unmixed with a ray of comfort. The Baltic fleet, almost as
valuable as Gibraltar itself, for it contained all the materials for
future war, was on its way to England ; and twelve sail of the
line had been sent out from the ports of Holland to intercept
them. Gibraltar was relieved by a skill and courage that baffled
superior numbers; and the Baltic fleet was, I know not how, mi-
raculously-preserved. One power, indeed, the honourable gentle-
man has omitted in his detail :—But the Dutch, Sir, had not been
disarmed by the humiliating language of that gentleman's minis-
try. They were warmed into more active exertions, and were
just beginning to feel their own strength. They were not only
about to defend themselves with effect, but to lend ten sail of the
line to the fleets of France and Spain. Here, Sir, let us pause
for a moment of serious and solemn consideration !

Should the ministers have persevered from. day to day to throw
the desperate die, whose successes had won us only a barren
though glorious safety, and whose failure in a single cast would
sink us into hopeless ruin? However fondly the -ideas of na-
tional expectation had diffused themselves amongst the people,
the ministers, Sir, could entertain no rational hopes. Those
columns of our strength, which many honourable gentlemen had
raised with so much fancy, and decoratedwith so much invention,
the ministers had surveyed with the eye of sober reason. I am
sorry to say, we discovered the fabric of our naval superiority to
be visionary and baseless.


I shall next, with submission to the right honourable gentleman

who presides in that department, state, in a few words, the situa-
tion of the army. It is notorious to every gentleman who hears
me, that new levies could scarcely be torn, on any terms, from
this depopulated country. It is known to professional men how
great is the difference between the nominal and effective state of
that service; and, astonishing as it may appear, after a careful in-
quiry, three thousand men were the utmost force that could have
been safely sent from this country on any offensive duty. But, I
am told, Sir, the troops from New York would have supplied us
with a force equal to the demands of every intended expedition.
The, foreign troops in that garrison we had no power to embark
on any other than American service ; and, in contradiction to
the honourable gentleman who spoke last, and to that noble lord
whose language he affects to speak in this House, no transports
had been prepared, or could have been assembled for their im-
mediate embarkation. 'Where, Sir, should they have directed
their course when they were at length embarked, but into the
hazard of an enemy's fleet, which would have cruized with un-
disputed superiority in every part of the western world.

No pressure of public accusation, nor heat of innocence in its
own defence, shall ever tempt me to disclose a single circum-
stance which may tend to humiliate my country. 'What I am about
to say will betray no secret of state ; it is known, for it is felt
throughout the nation. There remains at this instant, exclusive of
the annual services, an unfunded debt of thirty millions.— Taxes,
Sir, the most flattering, have again and again been tried, and,
instead of revenue from themselves, have frequently produced a
failure in others, with which they-had been found to sympathize.
But here, Sir, I am told by the honourable gentleman who spoke
last, other nations would have felt an equal distress. Good God
to what a consequence does the honourable gentleman lead us
Should I, Sir, have dared to advise a continuance- of war, which
endangered the bankruptcy of public faith ; a bankruptcy which
would have almost dissolved the bonds of government, and havei
nvolved the state in the confusion of a general ruin

MR. PITT'S [FEB. 21.

have ventured to do this, because ONE of' the adverse powers
MIGHT have experienced an equal distress?

The honourable gentleman who spoke last has amused the
House with various statements, on the different principles of uti

possidetis and restitution. The principle of those statements is
as false as it is unexpected from him. Did his great naval
friend acquaint him with the respective values of Dominique and
St. Lucia ? that lord who in His Majesty's councils had advised,
and perhaps wisely, a preference of' the former The value of
Dominique, Sir, was better known to our enemies ; and the ink.
mense sums employed by them in fortifying that island, prove as
well its present value, as their desire to retain it. That howisur-
able gentleman has, on all occasions, spoke with approbation of
the last peace : was St. Lucia left in our hands "by that peace,
the terms of which we ourselves prescribed? or was St. Lucia
really so impregnable as to endanger all our possessions at the
commencement of the present war?

It would be needless for me to remind the honourable gentle-
man who spoke last of any declarations he had made in a pre-
ceding session: professions from him so antiquated and obsolete,
would have but little weight in this House. But I will venture
to require consistency for a single week, and shall remind him
of his declaration in Monday's debate, " that even this peace
*as preferable to a continuance of the war." Will he then cri-
minate His Majesty's ministers by the present motion, for pre-
ferring what he would have preferred ? or how will he presume
to prove, that, if better terms could have been obtained, it was
less their interest than their duty to have obtained them.

Was this peace, Sir, concluded with the same indecent levity,
that the honourable gentleman would proceed to its condemna-
tion ? Many days and nights were laboriously employed by His
Majesty's ministers in such extensive negociations;—consulta-
tions were held with persons the best informed on the respective
subjects;—many doubts were well weighed, and removed: and
weeks and months of solemn discussion gave birth to that peace,
which we are required to destroywithout examination; thatpeaeC,


the positive ultimatum from France, and to which Isoleninlyassure
the public there was no other alternative but a continuance of war.

Could the ministers, thus surrounded with scenes of ruin, affect
to dictate the terms of peace? And are these articles seriously
compared with the peace of Paris? There was, indeed, a time
when Great Britain might have met her enemies on other con-
ditions; and if an imagination, warmed with the power and glory
of this country, could have diverted any member of His Majesty's
councils from a painful inspection of the truth, I might, I hope,
without presumption, have been entitled to that indulgence. I
feel, Sir, at this instant, how much I had been animated in my
childhood by a recital of England's victories : — I was taught,
Sir, by one whose memory I shall ever revere, that at the close
of a war, far different indeed from this, she had dictated the
terms of peace to submissive nations. This, in which I place
something more than a common interest, was the memorable
era of England's glory. But that mra is past : she is under the
awful and mortifying necessity of employing a language that
corresponds with her true condition : the visions of her power
and pre-eminence are passed away.

We have acknowledged American Independence—That, Sir, was
a needless form : the incapacity of the noble lord who con-
ducted our affairs ; the events of war, and even a .,vote of this
House, had already granted what it was impossible to withhold.

We have ceded Florida — We have obtained Providence and-
the Bahama Islands.

We have ceded an extent offshery on the coast of Netybundianci
—We have established an exclusive right to the most valuable

We have restored St. Lucia, and given up Tobago — We have
regained Grenada, Dominica, St. Kitt's, Nevis, and Montserrat,
and we have rescued Jamaica from her impending danger. In
Africa we have ceded Goree, the grave of our countrymen ; and
we possess Senegambia, the best and most healthy settlement.

In Europe we have relinquished Minorca — Kept up at an im-'
dense and useless expense in peace, and never tenable in war.

39 MR. PITT'S [Fan. 21.
We have likewise permitted His Most Christian Majesty to re-

pair his harbour of Dunkirk —The hutniliat ing clause for its
destruction was inserted, Sir, after other wars than the past.
But the immense expense attending its repair will still render
this indulgence useless; add to this, that Dunkirk was first an
object of our jealousy when ships were constructed far inferior
to their present draught. That harbour, at the commencement
of the war, admitted ships of a single deck ; no art or expense
will enable it to receive a fleet of the line.

In the East Indies, where alone we had power to obtain this
peace, we have restored what was useless to ourselves, and
scarcely tenable in a continuance of the war.

But we have abandoned the unhappy loyalists to their implaca-
ble enemies — Little, Sir, are those unhappy men befriended by
such a language in this House : nor shall we give much assist-
ance to their cause, or add stability to the reciprocal confidence
of the two states, if we already impute to Congress a violence
and injustice, which decency forbids us to suspect. Would a
continuance of the war have been justified on the single prin-
ciple of assisting these unfortunate men? or would a continuance
of the war, if so justified, have procured them a more certain
indemnity ? Their hopes must have been rendered desperate
indeed by any additional distresses of Britain ; those hopes which
are now revived by the timely aid of peace and reconciliation.

These are the ruinous conditions to which this country,
engaged with four powerful states, and exhausted in all its
resources, thought fit to subscribe, for the dissolution of that
alliance, and the immediate enjoyment of peace. Let us examine
what is left, with a manly and determined courage. Let us
strengthen ourselves against inveterate enemies, and reconciliate
our ancient friends. The misfortunes of individuals and of king-
doms, that are laid open and examined with true wisdom, are
more than half redressed ; and to this great object should be
directed all the virtue and abilities of this House. Let us feel
our calamities — let us bear them too, like men.

But, Sir, I fear I have too long engaged your,attention to Ile

real purpose ; and that the public safety is this day risqued,
without a blush, by the malice and disappointment of faction.
The honourable gentleman who spoke last has declared, with that
sort of consistency that marks his conduct, " Because he is pre-
vented from prosecuting the noble lord in the blue ribbon to the
satisfaction of public justice, he will heartily embrace him as his
friend." So. readily- does he reconcile extremes, and love the
man whom he wishes to persecute ! With the same spirit, Sir, I
suppose he will cherish this peace too — because he abhors it.

But I will not hesitate to surmise, from the obvious complexion
of this night's debate, that it originates rather in an inclination to
force the Earl of Shelburne from the treasury, than in any real
conviction that ministers deserve censure for the concessions they
have made : concessions, which, from the facts I have enumerated,
and the reasoning I have stated, as arising from these facts, are
the obvious result of an absolute necessity, and imputable, not so
much to those of whom the present cabinet is composed, as to that
cabinet of which the noble lord in the blue ribbon was a member.
This noble earl, like every other person eminent for ability, and
acting in the first department of a great state, is undoubtedly an
object of envy to some, as well as- of admiration to others. The
obloquy to which his capacity and situation have raised him
has been created and circulated with equal meanness and address:
but his merits are as much above my panegyric, as the arts, to
which he owes his defamation, are beneath my attention When
stripped of his power and emoluments, he once more descends
to private life without the invidious appendages of place, men will
see him through a different medium, and perceive in him qualities
which richly entitle him to their esteem. That official superiority
which at present irritates their feelings, and that capacity of con-
ferring good offices on those he prefers, which all men are fond
of possessing, will not then be any obstacle to their making an im-
partial estimate of his character. But notwithstanding a sincere
predilection for this nobleman, whom I am bound by every tie to
treat with sentiments of deference and regard,I am far omwishin gahim retained i.t i in power against the public approbation ; and if his

MR. PITT'S [FFm..2f..

removal can be innocently- effected, if he can be compelled to re-
sign without entailing all those mischiefs which seem to be involved,
in the resolution now moved, great as his zeal for his country 18-,
powerful as his abilities are, and earnest and assiduous as his en-
deavours have been to rescue the British empire from the difficul-
ties-that oppress her, I am persuaded he will retire, firm in the
dignity of his own mind, conscious of his having contributed to
the public advantage, and, if not attended with the fulsome plau-
dits of a mob, possessed of that substantial-and permanent satis-
faction which arises from the habitual approbation of an upright
mind. I know him well ; and dismiss him from the confidence of
his sovereign, and the business of state when you please, to this
transcendent consolation he has a title, which no accident can in--
Validate or affect.. It is the glorious reward of doing well, of acting,
an honest and honourable part. By the difficulties he encountered
on his accepting the reins ofgovernment, by the reduced situation
in which he found the state of the nation, and by the perpetual
turbulence of those who thought his elevation effected at their own
expense, he has certainly earned it dearly r and With such a solid-
understanding, and so much goodness of heart as stamp his cha.,:
meter, he is in no danger of losing it. Nothing can be a stronger-
proof that his enemies are eager to traduce,. than the frivolous
grounds on which they affect to accuse him. An action, which
reflects alustre on his attention to the claims of merit*, has vet
been -improved into a fault in his conduct. A right honourable
gentleman who has exhausted his strength in the service of the
state, and to whose years and infirmities his absence from par-
liament can only be attributed, owes to the friendship and inter-
ference of the noble earl a pension, which, however adequate to
all his necessities and convenience in the evening of life, is no
extraordinary compensation for the public spirit which has uni-
formly marked his parliamentary conduct. Surely the abilities•
and virtues of this veteran soldier and respectable senator, de-
served some acknowledgment from that community in which they
have been so often and so manfully- exerted. Surely his age entitled:

Alluding to the pension granted to Colonel Barre._

him to a little repose in the lap of that public to whose welfare
his youth had been dedicated. Surely, that principle of humanity,
which stimulates those in power to commiserate in this manneg
the situation of neglected merit, possesses a nobleness, a gene-
rosity, a benevolence, which instead of incurring the censure of
any, ought to command the admiration and praise of all.

I repeat then, Sir, that it is not this treaty, it is the Earl of
Shelburne alone whom the movers of this question are desirous
to wound. This is the object which has raised this storm of
faction ; this is the aim of the unnatural coalition to which I
have alluded. If, however, the baneful alliance is not already
formed, if this ill-omened marriage is not already solemnized, I
know a just and lawful impediment, and, in the name of the
public safety, I here forbid the banns.

My own share in the censure, pointed by the motion before
the House against 1-Xis Majesty's ministers, I will bear with forti-
tude, because my own heart tells me I have not acted wrong.
To this monitor, who never did, and, I trust, never will, deceive
me, I will confidently repair, as to an adequate asylum from all
the clamour which interested faction can raise. I was not very
eager to come in, and shall have no great reluctance to go out,
whenever the public are disposed to dismiss me from their ser-
vice. It has been the great object of my short official existence
to do the duties of my .station with all the ability and address in
my power, and with a fidelity,

and honour which should bear me
up, and give me confidence, under every possible contingency or
disappointment. I can say with sincerity, I never had a wish
which did not terminate in the clearest interests of the nation.
I Will at the same time imitate the honourable gentleman's can-
dour, and confess, that I too have my ambition. High situation,
and great influence, are desirable objects to most men, and ob-
jects which I am not ashamed to pursue, which I am even solici-
tous to possess, whenever they can be acquired with honour, and
retained with dignity. - On these respectable conditions, I am
not less ambitious to be great and powerful than it is natural for
a young man, with such brilliant examples before him, to be.

D 2 '

MR. PITTS.gm 21.

But even these objects I am not beneath relinquishing, the
moment my duty to my country, my character, and my friends,
renders such a sacrifice indispensable. Then I hope to retire,
not disappointed, but triumphant ; triumphant in the conviction
that my talents, humble as they are, have been earnestly,
zealously, and strenuously, employed to the best of my appre-
hension, in promoting the truest welfare of my country ; and
that, however I may stand chargeable with weakness of under-
standing, or error of judgment, nothing elm be imputed to my
official capacity which bears the most distant connection with an
interested, a corrupt, or a dishonest intention. But it is not any
part of my plan, when the time shall come that I quit my present •
station, to threaten the repose of my country, and erect, like the
honourable gentleman, a fortress and a- refuge for disappointed
ambition. The self-created and self appointed successors to the
present administration, have asserted with much confidence, that
this is likely to be the case. I can assure them, however, when
they come from that side of the House to this, I will for one
most readily and cordially accept the exchange. The only
desire I would indulge and cherish on the subject is, that the
service of the public may be ably, disinterestedly, and faithfully
performed. To those who feel for their country as I wish to do,
and will strive to do, it matters little who are out or in ; but it
matters much that her affairs be conducted with wisdom, with
firmness, with dignity, and with credit. Those entrusted to my
care I will resign, let me hope, into hands much better qualified
to de them justice than mine. But I will not mimic the parade
of the honourable gentleman in avowing an indiscriminate oppo-
sition to whoever may be appointed to succeed. I will march
out with no warlike, no hostile, no menacing protestations : but
hoping the new administration will have no other object in view
than the real and substantial welfare of the community at large ;
that they will bring with them into office those truly public and
patriotic principles which they formerly held, but which they
abandoned in opposition ! that they will save the state, and pro-
mote the great purposes of public good, with as much steadiness„

integrity, and solid advantage, as I am confident it must one
day appear the Earl of Shelburne and his colleagues have done,
I promise them, before-hand, my uniform. and best support on
every occasion, where I can honestly and conscientiously assist

In short, Sir, whatever appears dishonourable or inadequate
in the peace on your table, is strictly chargeable to the noble
lord in the blue ribbon, whose profusion of the public's money,
whose notorious temerity and obstinacy in prosecuting the war,
which originated in his pernicious and oppressive policy, and
whose utter incapacity to fill the station he occupied, rendered
peace of any description indispensable to the preservation of the
state. The small part which fa to my share in this ignominious
transaction, was divided with a set of men, whom the dispassion-
ate public must, on reflection, unite to honour. Unused as I
am to the factious and jarring clamours of this day's debate, I
look up to the independent part of the House, and to the public
at large, if not for that impartial approbation which my conduct
deserves, at least for that acquittal from blame to which my in-
nocence entitles me. I have ever been most anxious to do my
utmost for the interest of my country ; it has been my sole con-
cern to act an honest and upright part, and I am disposed to
think every instance of my official department will bear a fair
and honourable construction. WW1 these intentions, I ventured
forward on the public attention ; and can appeal with some de-
gree.of confidence to both sides of the House, for the consistency
of my political conduct. My earliest impressions were in favour
of the noblest and most disinterested modes of serving the pub-
lic : these impressions are still dear, and will, I hope, remain for
ever dear to my heart : I will cherish them as a legacy infinitely
more valuable than the greatest inheritance. On these prin-
ciples alone I came into parliament, and into place ; and I now
take the whole House to witness, that I have not been under
the ndenelcaeses.ity of contradicting one public declaration I have
v r

I am, notwithstanding, at the disposal
-of this House, and with

D 3


their decision, whatever it shall he, I will cheerfully comply. It

is impossible to deprive me of those feelings which must always
result from the sincerity of my hest endeavours to fulfil with in-
tegrity every official engagement. You may take from me, Sir,
the privileges and emoluments of place, but you cannot, and
you shall not, take from me those habitual and warm regards
for .the prosperity of Great Britain, which constitute the honour,
the happiness, the pride of my life ; and which, I trust, death
alone can extinguish. And, with this consolation, the loss of
power, Sir, and the loss of fortune, though I affect not to de-
spise them, I hope I soon shall he able to forget.

Laudo manentem; si celeres qualit
Pennas, resign() glue dedit —

Pauperiem sine dote qucero.

The three first resolutions were agreed to without opposition, Upon
the fourth, the House divided,

Ayes 207
Noes 190

Majority for censuring the terms of the Peace 17*

*Public affairs continued, for several weeks after this division, in a
state of great disorder ; no new administration was appointed, and the
negociations for power were, through the several conjunctions of parties,
carried on with much violence and animosity.


that he was not competent to give official information of any
thing that came within his knowledge of the forming of an ad-
ministration, as his royal master had, a little time before, on
that clay, been . graciously pleased to accept his resignation of
that employ which he had the honour.of filling in his government.
If the noble lord, however, would accept of his personal know-

, ledge, he would pledge himself, it was the earnest desire of his
gracious sovereign to accede to the wishes and requisitions of his
faithful commons, and which he had so amply testified in his
answer to their address. However, though he could not take
upon himself to say that an administration was formed, or when
an event, which was so much to be wished for, should take place,
his full reliance upon His Majesty's answer to the address firmly
persuaded him, that His Majesty was anxiously employed in
effectuating a purpose which was so much the wish of his people,
and of his faithful commons in particular.

This explanation not proving satisfactory, the Earl of Surrey declared
that he found himself the more peculiarly called upon to proceed with
his 'notion, and he accordingly moved, " That a considerable time hav-
ing now elapsed without all administration responsible for the conduct of
public affairs, the interposition of this House on the present alarming
crisis is become necessary.

Mr. PITT again rose to assure the House that he gave every
credit to the noble mover for the best intentions. He, however,
did not admit with the noble lord, that there was a necessity for
such a resolution after His Majesty's answer of Wednesday, and
he thought the words of that resolution were as exceptionable
as its spirit. There was an indecency in the language and style
of it, of which, he said, he could never approve, and the spirit of
it aimed at the very dissolution of the government of this country.
If the most undoubted, the most constitutional, the most neces-
sary prerogative of the crown was to be wrested from it; or it'
any thing like an interference of that House, tantamount to such
an intention, once took place, then there was an end of the con-
stitution, and the very political existence of this country.

n 4

March 3], 1783.
Tar Earl of Surrey called the attention of the House to the unset-


state of the administration; and desired to know, from the right
honourable gentleman (Mr. Pitt) who had jnst entered the House,
whether an administration had yet been formed, or whether there was a
near probability of such an event taking place; as if that was the case,
he observed, the necessity that enforced his motion was superseded, and
he should take pleasure in not being obliged to bring it forward. fit

Mr. PITT said, be was to inform the noble lord, and the House,


40 MR. PITT'S [MARCn 31.

Mr. Pittcaught hold of the noble lord's word co-operating, to
which he attached himself for some time, and said, for his part,
he could not form a doubt but that it was the wish of the House
to establish such a co-operation as would prove undoubtedly of
the most salutary consequence ; that co-operation, however, was
not to be acquired by the present resolution, whichltended neither
in its letter, nor its spirit, to conciliate it. If, by any co-opera-
tion of sentiment, in respect to an address, there was a probable
likelihood of removing the difficulties that stood in the way of
forming an administration, there was no man to be found more
ready than -he should be to adopt and subscribe to it ; but he
asked, and he demanded an answer from gentlemen, whether it
was decent, whether it was loyal, whether it was parliamentary,
whether it was constitutional, whether it was prudent, to agree
to the motion proposed by the noble lord ? He requested the
House to consider that. it was only on Wednesday last when His
Majesty received the address, and that there had clasped but lour
days since that time. The royal answer was all that parliament
could expect, it was all that parliament could wish, and a reason-
able time should be allowed for conforming to the requisitions of
the House. He lamented the situation of government without
a minister, and saw inevitable destruction to the country if an
administration was not formed ; yet he must confess at the same
time, that the measure proposed to the House to effect that
desirable purpose did not meet his idea of what was due to the
country, and what was due to the sovereign. The motion
strongly militated against political justice, and went directly to
abolish the clear and undisputed privileges of the crown, and to
effect a dissolution of all regal authority.

Until, therefore, he heard some sound reason adduced, some
goodsubstantial argument in proof of the propriety of the noble
lord's motion, it should not, it could not, have his assent. In the
words in which it now stood, it seemed to him to be couched in
terms totally unwarrantable according to the present situation of
the business. A most gracious answer had come from His Majesty,
of which he was certain every member of the House approved ;


and that answer he insisted was a sufficient security to .parliament
of the sovereign's intentions to comply with the wishes of the
House. It was. a pledge of a very strong nature, and which, if the
noble lord's motion was carried, must in consequence lose its in-
trinsic value, and give an opinion of the royal word, which, per-
haps, nay, which he was certain, it was not in the intention of any
member of that assembly to convey. If a second application
became necessary, it should be adopted with propriety, and
conveyed with delicacy. There was a respect due to Majesty,
which he hoped the . House would never forget, as it was one of
the great links that bound the three estates of the constitution
together. Having said thus much, he observed, he should not,
until he heard what was farther to be urged in support of the
motion, take up any more of the time of the House,

Lord John Cavendish and Lord North disapproved of the resolution,
preferring, as a more eligible mode, the form of an address. Lord North,
in the course of his remarks, objected further to the wording of the mo-
tion. It implied, he said, that for six, weeks past there had been no
responsible ministers : this was not the fact ; there had been ministers,
who, till they resit: , • • •:ere responsible Tor the conduct of government—
responsible as mini,: . r, for every part of their conduct. This brought
Rip Mr. PITT once more :

Considering himself called upon by the noble lord who spoke
last, he declared that, so long as he held any employment under
the crown, lie looked upon himself as responsible to parliament
and to the people for his conduct. He wished not to conceal,
nor to do away, any one act during his official administration, by
resigning the place he lately held. His desire — his. ambition
was, that his conduct as Chancellor of the Exchequer should
meet every investigation — should be canvassed and scrutinized.
He was conscious in himself that he acted uprightly, and there-
fore had nothing to dread. He again repeated, that he was
responsible so long as he continued in office, and that he shadowed
himself not from enquiry under the idea of retirement.

. The Earl of.Surrey then, in compliance with the wishes of the House,
'withdrew the resolution he had proposed ; and substituted in its stead

412 MR. PITYS [MARCH 31..

an address to His Majesty, in substance the same, but differing in its
language from the original resolution.

To the proposition thus modified, Mr. Pitt had only to object
that it was something premature. He again made a public de-
claration, that he was unconnected with any party whatever, that
he should keep himself reserved, and act with which ever side Ile
thought did right. He would abide hy.the declaration he had
made on a former occasion, that he would take no active part for
-or against any party, but would be guided solely by the measures
that were pursued; and it would he with the utmost reluctance
that he should oppose any administration whatever; neither would
he do it unless he was convinced they were acting wrong. In
reply to what had been said about his responsibility, he declared,
lie was the last man in the kingdom holding the principles that
be repeatedly avowed in that House, and meaning to act up to
those principles in every possible situation, who would for a
moment attempt to argue, that persons holding offices were not
responsible for every part of their public conduct. Undoubtedly
they were, and he held himself responsible to the very hour of
his resignation. At the same time, he trusted, that it would be
admitted, the extent of the responsibility was to be determined
and governed by the peculiar circumstances of the times. It' it
should appear hereafter, that he had, on any occasion, within
the past six weeks, done what he ought not to have done, or
left undone what he ought to have done, or, in fact, neglected.
to promote the public interest where he could have promoted it,
he was ready to admit his culpability.

With respect to the motion before the House, he really thought
-it too precipitate : there had been scarce time, since His Majesty
had given his gracious answer, to form an arrangement. He
could wish, as the right honourable gentleman had said, that
unanimity would prevail, and that the address would be with-

-drawn without a division. He would not pledge himself to the
House that such an arrangement would positively be made as the
former address required, yet he thought an arrangement would




take place in the course of a few days ; therefore be could wish
they would wait for it, and if then they should observe any cul-
pable delay, the motion should have his hearty concurrence and
support. He would not pledge himself to abide by the exact
words, but he certainly would vote for an address to the throne
to know the cause of delay.

The motion was agreed to be withdrawn, but with the notice of its
beimg resumed on an early day.*

May 7. 1783.
Mr. PITT this day brought forward his promised motion respecting the

Reform of Parliamentary Representation.

On the 2d of April it was announced to the .House, that a new
administration had been formed.

Members of the Cabinet.
Duke of Portland

First Lord of the Treasury.
Lord North

Secretary of State for the Home D epartment.
Right Hon. Charlesjames Fox,... Ditto for the Foreign Department.
Lord John Cavendish

Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Lord Viscount Kcppcl

First Lord of the Admiralty.
Lord Viscount Stormont

President of the Council.
Earl Carlisle

Lord Privy Seal.
Not of the Cabinet.

Lord Loughborough

Wm. Henry Ashurst

Lords Commissioners for the CustodyiofSir
Sir Beamont Hotham

the Great Seal.
Lord George Townshend

Master-General of the Ordnance.
Hon. Richard Fitzpatrick

Secretary at War.
Edmund Burke, Esq

Paymaster of the Forces.
Charles Townshend, Esq

Treasurer of the Navy.
James Wallace, Esq....

John Lee, Esq. ......

Rich. Brinsley Sheridan, Esq

Richard Burke, Esq....

} Secretaries to the Treasury.
Earl of Mansfield

Speaker of the House of Lords.
Earl of' Morthington

Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
William Wyndham, Esq

- Secretary to do.


[MAY 7.

In order to secure a full attendance of members on this important ques-
tion, the House had been previously called over; and now, after the various
petitions that had been presented in favour of the measure had been read,

Mr. PITT rose to open the business. He declared that in his
life he had never felt more embarrassment, or more anxiety than
he felt at that moment, when, for his country's good, he found
himself obliged to discover, and lay before the House, the imper-
fections of that constitution to which every Englishman ought to

look up with reverentia l awe ; a constitution which, while it con-
tinued Such as it was framed by our ancestors, was truly called
the production of the most consummate wisdom: raised by that

to greatness and to glory, England had been at

once the envy and the pride of the world ; Europe was taught
by experience that liberty was the foundation of true greatness ;
and that while England remained under a government perfectly
free, she never failed to perform exploits that dazzled the
neighbouring nations. To him, he did assure the House, it was 1,
interesting, indeed interesting and awful beyond the power of 1,'
description. He wished, however, the House to view the ar-
duous and very difficult task he had ventured to undertake, in
its true light. No man saw that glorious fabric, the constitution
of this country, with more admiration, nor with more reverence
than himself: he beheld it with wonder, with veneration, and-
with gratitude ; it gave an Englishman such dear and valuable
privileges, or he might say, such advantageous and dignified pre- *-
rogatives, as were not only beyond the reach of the subjects of
every other nation, but afforded us a degree of happiness un-
known to those who lived under governments of a nature less an-

prenant with principles of liberty ; indeed there was no form of
government on the known surface of the globe, that was so
nearly allied to perfect freedom. But a melancholy series of •
events, which had eclipsed the glory of Britain, exhibited a re-
verse of fortune, which could be accounted for only upon this
principle, that, during the last fifteen years, there had been a
deviation from the principles of that happy constitution, under
which the people of England had to long flourished,

Mr. Pitt reminded the House how and upon what reasons the

public had begun to look at the state of parliamentary represent-
ation; of the steps they had taken to procure some remedy for
the inadequacy.which they discovered; the degree of success that
their endeavours had met with; and what it was, that particularly
occasioned him to rise at that moment, in support of their peti-
tions. He said, to put the House in possession of all these cir-
cumstances, he need only advert to the history of a few years
'recently past ; a history which he would touch upon as shortly as
possible, because it was not only a most melancholy picture of
calamitous and disgraceful events, but because it was so extremely
difficult to mention it in any shape, that would not appear invidi-
ous and personal. He then stated that the disastrous conse-
quences of the American war, the immense expenditure of the
public money, the consequent heavy burthen of taxes, and the
pressure of all the collateral difficulties produced by the foregoing
circumstances, gradually disgusted the people, and at last pro-
voked them to turn their eyes inward on themselves," in order
to see if there was not something radically wrong at home, that
was the chief cause of all the evils they felt from their misfortunes
abroad. Searching for the internal sources of their foreign fata-
lities, they naturally turned their attention to the constitution
under which they lived, and to the practice of it. Upon look-
ing to that House, they found that by length of time, by the ori-
gin and progress of undue influence, and from other causes, the
spirit of liberty and the powers of check and control upon the
crown and the executive government, were greatly lessened and
debilitated. Hence clamours sprung up without doors, and hence,
as was perfectly natural, in the moment of anxiety to procure an
adequate and a fit remedy to a practical grievance, a spirit of
speculation went forth, and a variety of schemes, founded in
visionary and impracticable ideas of reform, were suddenly pro-
duced. It was not for him, he said, with unhallowed hands to
touch the venerable pile of the constitution, and deface the fabric;
to see it stand in need of repair was sufficiently melancholy : but
the snore he revered it, the more he wished to secure its duration-

46 MR. PITT'S [MAY 7.

to the latest posterity, the greater he felt the necessity of guard-
ing against its decay. Innovations were at all times dangerous :
and should never be attempted, but when necessity called for
them. Upon this principle he had given up the idea which he
suggested to the House last year; and therefore his object at pre-
sent was not to innovate, but rather to renew and invigorate the
spirit of the constitution, without deviating materially from its
present form. When he submitted this subject to the consider-
ation of the House last year, he was told, that the subject ought
not to be discussed amidst the din of arms ; the objection was
not then without its force: but at present it could not be renewed,
as we were happily once more in the enjoyment of the blessings
of peace. This therefore was a proper time to enter upon the
business of a reformation, which every man, who gave himself
a moment's time to think, must be satisfied was absolutely

An Englishman, who should compare the flourishing state of
his country some twenty years ago, with the state of humiliation
in which he now beholds her, must be convinced, that the ruin
which he now deplores, having been brought on by slow degrees,
and almost imperceptibly, proceeded from something radically
wrong in the constitution. OE' the existence of a radical error
no one seemed to doubt : nay, almost all were so clearly satisfied
of it, that various remedies had been devised by those who wished '-
most heartily to remove it. The House itself had discovered,
that a secret influence of the crown was sapping the very found-
ation of liberty by corruption : the influence of the crown had
been felt within those walls, and had often been found strong
enough to stifle the sense of duty, and to over-rule the propo-
sitions made to satisfy the wishes and desires of the people ; the
House of Commons (in former parliaments) had been base
enough to feed the influence that enslaved its members: and thus
was at one time the parent and the offspring of corruption. This
influence, however, had risen to such a height, that men were
ashamed any longer to deny its existence, and the House had at
length been driven to the necessity of voting that it ought to bek

diminished. Various were the expedients that had been thought,
of; in order to effect so salutary a purpose, as was that of guard-
ing against this influence; of shutting against it the doors of that
House, where, if it once got footing, after the resolution alluded
to, liberty could no longer find an asylum. The House of Commons
which; according to the true spirit of the constitution, should be
the guardian of the people's freedom, the constitutional check
and control over the executive power, would, through this influ-
ence, degenerate into a mere engine of tyranny and oppression,
to destroy the constitution in effect, though it should, in its out-
ward form, still remain.

Among the various expedients that had been devised to bar the
entrance of such influence into that House, he had heard prin-
cipally of three. One was, to extend the right of voting for
members to serve in parliament, which was now so confined, to
all the inhabitants of the kingdom indiscriminately; so that every
man, without the distinction of freeholder, or freeman of a cor-
poration, should have the franchise of a vote for a person to re-
present him in parliament :—and this mode, he understood, was

•thought by those who patronised it, to be the only one that was
consistent with true liberty in a free constitution, where every one
ought to be governed by those laws only to which all have actu-
ally given their consent, either in person, or by their representa-
tive. For himself, he utterly rejected and condemned this mode,
which it was impossible for him to adopt, without libelling those
renowned forefathers who had framed the constitution in the-
fulness of their wisdom, and fashioned it for the government of'
freemen, not of slaves. If this doctrine should obtain, nearly
one half of the people must in fact be slaves ; for it was abso-
lutely impossible that this idea of giving to every man a right of
voting, however finely it might appear in theory, could ever be
reduced to practice. .Ent, though it were even practicable, still
one half of the nation would be slaves; for all those who vote for
the unsuccessful candidates cannot, in the strictness of this doc-

trine, be said to be represented in parliament ; and therefore

ey are governed by laws to which they give not their assent,.



either in person or by representative s
; consequently, according

to the ideas of the friends to this expedient, all those who vote
for unsuccessful candidates, must be slaves; nay, it was often-
times still harder with those who arc members of parliament,
who are made slaves also, and are governed by laws to which
they not only have not given their consent, but against which
they have actually voted.

For his part, his idea of representation was this, that the mem-
bers once chosen, and returned to parliament., were, in effect, the
representatives of the people at large, as well of those who did
not vote at all, or who, having voted, gave their votes against
them, as of those by whose suffrages they were actually seated
in the House. This being therefore his principle, be could not
consent to an innovation founded on doctrines subversive of
liberty, which in reality went so far as to say, that this House of
Commons was not, and that no House of Commons ever had
been, a true and constitutional representation of the people; for
no House of Commons had yet been elected by all the men in

the kingdom. The country had long prospered, and had even
attained the summit of glory, though this doctrine had never-
been embraced; and he hoped that no one would ever attempt

to introduce
it into the laws of England, or treat it in any other

light than as a mere speculative proposition, that may be good
in theory, but which it would be absurd and chimerical to en,
deavour to reduce to practice.

The second
expedient he had heard of, was to abolish the fran-

chise which several boroughs now enjoy, of returning members
to serve in parliament. These. places were known by the fa-
vourite — popular appellation of rotten boroughs.

He confessed

that there was something very plausible in this idea ; but still he
was not ready to adopt it ; he held those boroughs in the light of
deformities, which in some degree disfigured the fabric of the

constitutio n , but which he feared could not be removed without
endangering the whole pile. It. was true that the representation
of the people could not be perfect, nay, it could not be good,
unless the interests of the representatives and the represented.

were the same ; the moment they became different, from that
moment the liberty of the people was in danger ; because those
who ought to be the guardians of it might find their account in
circumscribing it within narrower limits than the constitution
marked out, or in carrying through measures, which might in the
end effectually destroy it. It must be admitted, from a variety
of circumstances, which it was unnecessary for him at present
to explain, that though the members returned by boroughs might
be for the present the brightest patterns of patriotism and
liberty, still there was no doubt but that borough members,
considered in the abstract, were more liable to the operation of
that influence, which every good man wished to see destroyed in
that House, than those members who were returned by the
counties; and therefore, though .

he was afraid to cut up the roots
of this influence by disfranchising the boroughs, because he was
afraid of doing more harm than good by using a remedy that
might be thought worse than the disease, still he thought it his
duty to counteract, if possible, that influence, the instruments
of which he was afraid to remove. The boroughs ought to be
considered, not only as places of franchise, but also as places
where the . franchise was in some measure connected with pro-
perty by burgage.

tenure ; and therefore, as he was unwilling to
dissolve the boroughs, he would endeavour to defeat the effect
of undue influence in them, by introducing and establishing a
counterbalance, that should keep it down, and prevent it from
ruining the country.

This brought him naturally to the third expedient, that he had
often heard mentioned, which was, to add a certain number, of
members to the House, who should be returned by the counties
and the metropolis. It was unnecessary for him to say, that the
county members in general were almost necessarily taken from
that class and description of gentlemen the least liable to the
seduction of corrupt influence, the most deeply interested inthe
liberty and prosperity of the country, and consequently the most
likely to pursue such measures as appeared to them the most sa-
lutary to their country: in the hands of such men the liberties of

VOL. 1.

their constituents would be safe, because the interests of such
representatives and the represented must necessari l

y be the same.

This expedient appeared to him the most fit to be adopted,
because it was the least objectionable ; it had the merit of pro-
missing an effectual counterbalance to the weight of the boroughs;
without being an innovation

in the form of the constitution. He

would not then say what number of members n
ought to be added

to the counties ; he Would
leave that to be inserted in a bill,

which, if the resolutions he meant to propose should pass, he
intended to move for leave to bring in ; he however would say,
that, in his opinion, the number ought not to be under one hun-
dred. It was true he thought the House would then be more
numerous than he could wish; but still it were better it should be
so, than that the liberties of the country should be exposed to
destruction from the baleful influence of the crown in the boroughs.
He was not, however, without an expedient, by degrees, to reduce
the number of members, even after the addition, down to nearly

the present. number : his expedie
nt was this ; that whenever it

should be proved before the tribunal, which happily was now
established by law to try the merits of contested elections,


the majority of any borough had been bribed and corrupted, the
borough should then lose the privilege of sending members


parliament ; the corrupt majority should be disfranchised, and the
honest minority be permitted to vote at election s

for knights of

the shire. -
By this expedient he was sure the boroughs would

bepreserved free from corruption; or else they must be abolished
gradually, and the number of members of that

House be reduced

to its present standard. This disfranchising of boroughs would
be the work of time : the necessity of disfranchising any one,

that necessity should appear, would sanctify the mea-

sure; it would
appear to be, what in fact it would then be, an

act of justice, not of whim, party, or caprice : as it would be
founded not on surmise, but on the actual proof of guilt.

After amplifying upon this for some time, and hewing
that it

was equally founded in policy and in just he urgently pressed
the necessity of something being done in compliance with the


i f present state'petitions that had been presented, complain ing othe
of the representation ; and took abundant pains to caution.,the
House against adopting any extravagant plans of reform. that
might be suggested by enthusiastic speculatists, on the one band.,
or obstinately refusing to take any.Step whatever : in compliance
with the : petitions, under a childish dislike, and dread : of inno-
vation, on the other. After urging very elaborately.:an. infinite
variety of arguments, Mr. Pitt said his first resolution was what
he conceived every individual member would feel the force, and
be ready to come into, without a moment's hesitation : of his
second, he entertained hopes pretty nearly as sanguine, convinced
as he was of its propriety and justice ; and with regard to his
third, though it might possibly meet with considerable oppo-
sition, he was extremely anxious to obtain it the sanction of the
House. He then read his three resolutions, which in substance
were as follow :

1. " That it was the opinion of the House that measures were
highly necessary to be taken for the future prevention of bribery
and expense at elections."

2. ".. That for the future; when the majority of voters for any
borough should be convicted of gross and notorious corruption
before a select committee of that House appointed to try the
merits of any election; such borough should be disfranchised, .and
the minority of voters not so.convicted should be .

entitled to vote
for the county in which such borough should, be. situated."

3. " That an addition of knights of the shire, and of repre-
sentatives of the metropolis, should be added to the state of the
representation." .

Mr. Pitt said, if he should : be so happy as to succeed in carry-
ing these resolutions, his intention was to bring in a bill upon
their respective principles..., When that bill was under considera-
tion, it would then be the proper titoe.for discussing and decid-
ing on the number of knights of the shire to be added, and for
making all such other regulations and restrictions as to the wis-
dom of the House might appear necessary. He therefore should
not bold any gentleman, who chose to vote for his :resolutions

L 2



as containing general propositions, to be bound and pledged
either to support the bill he intended to bring in, provided the
House agreed to his present motion, or to any clauses it might
be- fraught with, but to be wholly at liberty, and as much un-
restrained in that respect as if he had not voted in support of the
resolutions. Before lie sat down, he again earnestly pressed the
`House either to adopt his propositions, or to suggest some other
plan equally calculated to remedy the grievance.

The House divided on the order of the day, as moved by Mr. Powys.
Ayes 293
Noes 149

Majority against Mr. Pitt's propositions, 144

June 17. 1783.

Mr. PITT having, on a former night, brought in a bill for abolishing
fees, and establishing various regulations in the offices of the Treasury,
Admiralty, Ordnance, Excise, and Stamps, and of several other offices
therein mentioned, moved the House this day, to resolve itself into a
committee on the said bill ; which being opposed by Lord John Caven-
dish, on the ground of the inutility of the measure,

MR. PITT expressed a good deal of surprise at what had
fallen from the noble lord. He would not refer the regulations
to the commissioners of public accounts, and yet he intended to
continue them for another year ! But above all, he was surprised
at hearing the noble lord say, that the heads of the different
offices would be the best persons to correct the abuses, and intro-
duce new regulations into their several departments. He said
he would state a few facts to the House, which would convince
them of two things ; that abuses did exist in several public offices,
and that the heads of these offices were not the most fit persons
to correct them.

If there was any object more worthy the jealousy of parliament
than another, it was to take care that the receipt and expenditure

of the public money were, in all the great revenue offices, con-
ducted and managed with the utmost purity and fidelity. The
evil consequences of a contrary practice were too obvious to need
illustration. He would therefore proceed to shew, that abuses
in of fices of revenue really existed, and that to a very great and
alarming amount. And first, he would say something with regard
to fees, gratuities, and perquisites. To instance one office only;
in the navy-office, when an inquiry was instituted by the late
Board of Treasury, with a view to prepare the present bill of
reform, the answer given was, that there were no fees received
by that office. Upon a closer examination of the matter, how-
ever, it afterwards came out, that although there were no fees,
received as such, yet that money, to a very considerable amount,
was received by some of the officers under the name of gifts :
thus, for instance, the chief clerk of the navy-office received a
salary of about 240 or 2501. a-year, and it turned out that he
received no less than 25001. in gifts. Other clerks with smaller
salaries received gifts in proportion. Mr. Pitt dwelt for some
time on this filet, and urged, that the public were liable to have
great frauds practised upon them, if those, in whose hands the
means of cheek and control were placed, were in the practice
of receiving what certainly might be termed the wages of cor-
ruption. In the particular instances of those officers of the pub-
lic yards, who were intrusted with the delivery of stores, the
House must see that the practice was big with the most dangerous
mischief. Mr. Pitt further stated, that in various other cases,
the practice prevailed to an alarming degree, and mentioned a
particular contract that had been deemed a very easy one, inso-
much so, that it had been a matter of wonder how it could be
fulfilled on terms so extremely reasonable. The solution of the
enigma was, however, as easy as any solution could be, since it
was only recollecting that the officers, who were to pass the eon-
tractor's accounts, to see that his contract was duly and faithfully
executed, and to report, if they found the contrary to be the
fact, were each of them in the pay of the contractor. In order,
therefore, to put a stop to these abuses, and to prevent any


E 3


of this infamous t
raffic between the clerks in office, immediately

concerned in checking, passing, and expediting the accounts of

persona employed in serving the .
public with different articles,

anclthosepersons themselves', he said, the aim of one clause of

the- bill-was to establish and ascertai
n the actual amount of all

the fees hereafter to be taken, and to appoint an officer in each
Office to receiVeAhe•fees thus -established.

While he was upon this part of the subject, he took notice
of what had fallen from Mr. Burke a few days since, and said,
that honourable gentleman had charged the two late Secretaries
of StatelVith having unprecedentedly and illegally extorted enor-
mous fees for passports. (Mr. Fox and Mr. Burke said across
the .

House, there never was any such charge made.) Mr. Pitt,
observing the contradiction, said, he averred it on his recol-
lection, that the charge was as he had declared it to be. He then
explained the matter, by stating, that when passports had been

applied fer 7
Otithe conclusion, of the peace, inquiry was made

what had been the custom and usage of the office, in that par-
ticular, when the noble lords, then Secretaries of Stateover

e each

informed what the uniform practice bad been, and that practice
they very naturally follOWed: Upon the matter being complained
of as a grievance, one of the noble lords had declared, he had
no objection to abide by the decision of a court of law, and had
in the mean time stopped the distributio n

of the fees so taken.

So far, therefore; bad the honourable gentleman, who had moved
for the account of passports granted; been from bringing forward
any thing adverse to the bill under consideration, that he was free
to confess his obligations to the honourable gentleman in that
particular, since the honourable gentleman had thereby fortified
him with a very strong argumentin support of the bill, and in

proof of the necessity
: of stich a bill's passing. In order to show

that he felt the matter in that ,
way, he declared, he meant to

move for an instAtetion to' the committee; 'to insert a clause to
makelhe bill extend to the fees, taken in:the7Setretary of State's
office, as well aSlinhedbilieit already entinnerated in the first

clause of the bill.

He also took notice of a remark made by Mr. Sheridan a few
days ago, who had charged the late board of treasury with
having created a new fee at the very time that they professed to
be employed in forwarding plans of economy and reform respect-
ing office-fees in general. Mr. Pitt said, the charge was ill-found-
ed, and he went into an explanation of the subject-matter of it,
declaring that the lords of the treasury had acted therein solely
upon the ground of custom ; that the matter related to a sum
claimed as a gratuity upon contract, which the treasury, as a
custom and usage were proved to have warranted such gratuities,
and as the regulations intended relative to such points were not at
the time carried into execution, had allowed to be taken. [Mr.
Pitt produced and read the treasury minute that had been made
on this occasion, in proof of what he asserted.] In the course of
speaking of fees, he also mentioned the place of the secretary of
the post-office, who, with a salary of 5001. or 6001. made an an-
nual income of upwards of three thousand. - Mr. Pitt stated this
to arise from his having two and a-half per cent. on all packets ;
and in the last year of the war, he said, 140,0001. had been
expended in packets, so many were either lost at sea or taken.
He likewise alluded to the salaries of the two secretaries of the
treasury, which he stated at 20001. a-year during peace, but said
they swelled to 50001. a-year during war.

After very amply discussing the subject of official abuses in
respect to fees, perquisites, and gratuities, he proceeded to the
other parts of the bill, promising not to take up the time of the
House in sayiug much on those, which were admitted by thenoble
lord to be proper objects-of reform. The sale of places certainly
ought tn, be checked, and so likewise ought some regulations to
be made respecting the superannuation of officers, and the ap-
pointment of persons to discharge the duty of such as may have
leave of absence. He would mention one instance of the latter
species of abuse, which, he trusted, would sufficiently demon-
strate the necessity of some immediate reform. Previous to the
existence of the last board of treasury, a practice had obtained
of the occasional superannuation of the stampers of the stamp-




rooms ; and he observed, that a great part of the cost, he had
understood, was occasioned by the foundation of the house prov-
ing bad. Nor had the house of the chancellor of the exchequer
alone proved a source of expense. Other houses belonged to the
public in Bushy Park, at Hampton Court, and elsewhere, though
they had not cost so much, had followed at no very considerable
distance, and would he allowed, when the charges were ascer-
tained, to have kept their pace in tolerably regular gradations.

He at length came to the latter clauses of the bill, those respect-
ing the improvident consumption of stationery wares by the offi-
cers of the different departments of government. The abuses
under this article of charge were, he said, almost incredible, and
the mode of abuse in some instances truly ridiculous. He had
even heard of rooms being papered with stationery at the expense
of the public, and of other as unjustifiable uses of it. The annual
charge on account of stationery wares, he stated to be above
eighteen thousand pounds, and it would, he believed, somewhat
astonish the noble lord in the blue ribbon *, when he told the
House, and informed him, (for he really believed the noble lord
had no idea of any such circumstance,) that the noble lord alone,
as the first lord of the treasury, cost the public, the year before
the last, no less than thirteen hundred pounds for stationery.
Great as this sum must appear to gentlemen, he declared, that,
knowing as he did, of what curious articles the bill consisted, he
should not have wondered if aie amount had been as many thou-
sands as it was hundreds. One article of the bill was an item of
three hundred and forty pounds for WHIP-CORD ! When he men-
tioned this circumstance, he desired to be understood, as not in-
tending any thing personal to the noble lord ; he was persuaded,
the noble lord neither connived at, nor knew of the abuse, and
from that very circumstance he drew an argument in support of
his bill, and in proof of the necessity of a substantial reform.
The bill of the two secretaries to the treasury jointly for station-
ery the same year, nearly amounted to as much as the bill of the
first lord; the bill of the five lords to little more than an hundred

Lord North.


office, when the commissioners of the treasury each appointed a
stamper, regularly one after the other in turn, as real vacancies
happened, or as artificial vacancies were created. It also pretty
generally was the practice for each commissioner

to appoint one

of his own servants, and instantly to grant him a leave of absence,
which leave of absence was constantly renewed for six months
every half year ; so that in fact the place was a sinecure to the
servants appointed, and all the business was done by a deputy.
This abuse the last board of treasury had stopped as far as in
them lay, and he meant in this bill to give the regulation in this
particular the sanction of an act of parliament. y The creation

of new offices unnecessarily, was equally a matter that called for
reform. It was pregnant with abuse, and could produce no

possible good to the public.
The next article the bill stated its intention to reform, was the

improvident expenditure of the public money in what were term-
ed incidental expenses ; under which head were comprehended,
the supply of persons in office with coals, candles, furniture, &c.
This, he observed, was subject to great abuse, and had in some
instances been carried to a most absurd and indefensible extent,
there being in existence, to his knowledge, various proofs of
officers having not only made no scruple to order the different
articles at the expense of the public, to their dwelling-houses in
town, but even to their houses in the country, and that at a most

extravagant rate.
The clause•

Mr. Pitt next spoke of, was the clause relative to
work done in the houses held under government. The abuses
under this head, he declared, it appeared from enquiry, were very
great. He mentioned the expense of repairing the house in
Downing-street, in which he had the honour to be lodged for a
few months. . The repairs of that house only, had, he said, but
the year or two before he came into office, cost the public 10,0001.
and upwards ; and for the seven years preceding that repair, the
annual expense had been little less than 5001. The alterations
that had cost 10,0001. be stated to consist of a- new kitchen and
offices, extremely convenient, with several comfortable lodging-

58 MR. PITT'S [dat4E 17.

pounds each. Great abuse and waste of stationery wares was
also practised in the houses of ministers, servants generally con-
sidering it as a part of their duty to contrive ingenio us

means for

using more than their masters, and generally wasting ten times
as much as they used. If, then, the board which possesse d

all the

powers of control, and which he doubted not had exercised
those powers with becoming vigilance, viz. the board of treasury,
were liable to such gross imposition, he had a right to suspect
that in the subordinate offices, offices possessed of less power, and
not so likely to exercise any check upon abuses of this nature,
similar abuses prevailed to a considerable degree. He meant to
propose allowing a certain fixed sum for stationery wares to each
office, as the best, and indeed the only practicable means of cor-
recting the abuse. Having amplified extremely on this and the
other points of the bill, Mr. Pitt declared, he had no doubt but
the plan of reform contained in the bill would save the public
forty thousand a-year at the least ; be therefore hoped, that it
would not only be the sense of the House that it should go to a
committee, but that it should pass this session.

Before he sat down, he took notice of Lord North's expression
in a former debate, that not a trace was to be found in the trea-
sury, indicating a single step towards that glorious fabric

(as the

noble lord had been pleased to term it) qf reform and economy

held out in
the King's speech. That speeCh had been orften

ed mwen-
tionedin the course of the session, and repeatedly chagth
being full of vaunts and promises, never intended to be kept or
fulfilled. The expression he had, just alluded to of the noble
lord, struck him as so very strong a one at the time, that he
thought itnecessary to take it down in writing, and he was deter-

mined, at
the moment, to bring it to the test at some fit oppor-

tunity. As it was materially connected with the subject of the
bill then under discussion, he knew of no fitter opportunity than
the present. In order to bring the matter fairly within view, he
declared he would read the promises f the speech on the open-

ing of the sessions, paragraph b

Y paragraph. He did so ; and

then urged the various measures tending towards a plan of reform

begun by the late ministry, as well those brought before parlia-
ment, as those not sufficiently matured for the inspection of the
House of Commons, ere the late ministry went out. He referred
to Lord North and the present chancellor of the exchequer, as
witnesses, whose evidence he was entitled to upon different topics
in this part of his argument. He appealed to them whether there
were not in the treasury, very laborious and accurate materials,
drawn up at the instance of the last board of treasury, upon the
mint, the royal forests, and a variety of other subjects alluded to
in the King's speech, as intended to be brought forward in par-
liament as matters of reform ? And after going through the
whole, he complimented Lord North on his well-known candour
on all occasions ; whence he was induced to flatter himself the
noble lord would do him the justice to acknowledge he had
rashly made his assertion, and that, so far from there being no
trace to be found in the treasury of that glorious fabric to
which he had alluded, there .

were the foundations laid for the
whole building, and that its basis was obviously intended to be
most solid and substantial. Mr. Pitt said, this latter part of his
subject had been touched upon in that House, and occasioned
much warmth and asperity ; he trusted that he had now put it
fairly to issue, and stated it in so plain and precise a way, that
it could hereafter become only a topic of cool and dispassionate
discussion. He added other remarks, and at length wound up his
argument with declaring, that it had afforded him some satisfac-
don to have had an opportunity of offering an explanation of the
bill to the House : not doubting but that, after the bill had been
explained, the House would acknowledge its importance, and
immediately proceed to give it that consideration to which such
a bill was undoubtedly entitled.

The motion was agreed to, and the House in a committee went
through the bill..


MR. PITT'S [Nov.

November 27. 1783.

against it from the courts of proprietors and directors of the East India
Company were then read, and their counsel were heard at the bar — Mr.

mer for the court of directors. As soon as they had withdrawn, Mr.
Pox, in a long and able speech, enforcing the necessity ofparliamentary
interference in the affairs of the Company, moved, " That the bill be

oes and Mr.Dallas for the proprietors, and Mr.Hardinge and Mr. Plo-

Mr. Fox's East India bill was this day read a second time. The petitions

committed."ISIRYITT began with remarking to the House the peculiar situa-
tion in which he found himself placed by the progress and present
state of this question. I have, said he, from the commencement

of it, by every exertion
in my power, summoned the attention of

the House, and of the country in general, to the importance and
dangerous consequences of the measure now proposed. I have
pledged myself to the House, and to the world at large, to point
out the dreadful tendency of this bill on every thing dear and sa-
cred to Englishmen; to prove its inimical influence on the consti-

tution and liberties
of this country ; and to establish,by undeniable

evidence, the false and pernicious principles on which it is found-
ed. These particulars require time and deliberation, which the
violent and indecent precipitancy of this business virtually pro-
scribes. However, it is impossible to regard the very face of the
bill, without feeling the strongest repugnance at its success.
I desire the House to take notice, that the ground of necessity
'upon which the bill was originally declared to have been intro-
duced, is now changed : that necessity no longer rests on the

simple, clear, and obvious propositio n
, the bankruptcy of the

East India company., but is this day placed on a still weaker
foundation, though a foundation infinitely more fallacious, upon
the temporary distress of the company. Is that a fit plea
to warrant the passing of a bill, which openly professes a
daring violation of the chartered rights of the company, and
proceeds to an immediate confiscation

of all their property ?

Ought the House to be satisfied with it, even if proved beyond
the possibility of question ? I trust they will not : I trust the
House has too much regard for their own honour and dignity,


too scrupulous an attention to justice, and too conscientious an
adherence to their duty to their constituents, to support the mi-
nister in one of the boldest, most unprecedented, most desperate
and alarming attempts at the exercise of tyranny, that ever dis-
graced the annals of this or any other country.

The right honourable gentleman whose eloquence and whose
abilities would lend a grace to deformity, has appealed to your
passions, and pressed home to your hearts the distressed situa-
tion of the unhappy natives of India : a situation which every
man must deeply deplore, and anxiously wish to relieve.
But 'ought the right honourable gentleman to proceed to the
protection of the oppressed abroad, by enforcing the most unpa-
ralleled oppression at home ? Is the relief to be administered in
Asia, to be grounded on violence and injustice in Europe ? Let
the House turn their eyes to the very extraordinary manner in
which the very extraordinary bill, now under consideration, has
been introduced. When the right honourable gentleman opened
it to the House on Tuesday se'nnight, he urged the indispensable
necessity of' the measure as its only justification ; and, in order to
carry that necessity to the conviction of the House, he gave such a
statement of the :company's affairs, as to convey to the ideas of
almost every gentleman present that the company were bankrupts
to the amount of eight millions. [Mr. Fox here shook his head.]
I am ready to admit that the right honourable gentleman did not
expressly say so ; but I shall still contend, that the manner in
which the right honourable gentleman stated their affairs, con-
veyed that idea. It has been entertained by most of those who
'heard the right honourable gentleman, it has been entertained by
the public, and it has been entertained by the company.

The right honourable gentleman has himself confessed, he made
several omissions in his former statement of the company's affairs.
Omissions he certainly has made ; omissions, gross, palpable, and
prodigious. What is the consequence ? The company flatly deny
The right honourable gentleman's statement. They prepare an

Mr. Fox.

MR. PITT'S [Nov. 27.62
account of the true state of their affairs ; they produce it at the
bar of the House; they establish its authenticity by the concurrent
testimony of their accountant and auditor. What happens then?
The right honourable gentleman declares it is incumben t on him

to clear his own character, and that can only be done by refuting
and falsifying the company's statement of their affairs to the enor-
mous amount of twelve Millions. Arduous and difficult as this
task is, the right honourable gentleman

enters upon it with a de-

gree of spirit peculiar to the boldness of his character. He acknow-
ledges that the company's paper must be deprived of its credit
some how or other ; and he proceeds in: a most extraordinary
manner to effect a purpose he had just told you was so necessary
to himself. The right honourable . gentleman ran through the

account with the volub ility that rendered comprehension difficult,
and detection almost impossible. I attempted to,

follow' him

through his..commentary ; and though it was impossible upon first
hearing such a variety of assertions, to investigate the truth of all
of them, and completely refute their fallacy, I will undertake to
shew that the right honourable gentleman has unfairly reasoned
upon some of the articles, grossly' misrepresented others, and
wholly passed by considerations material to be adverted to, in or-
der to ascertain what is the true state of the company's affairs.

Mr. Pitt then entered into a revision of the credit side of the
company's statement, and endeavoured to overturn Mr. Fox's !1104

objections to some of the articles, and to defeat the force of his ob-
servations upon others. He justified the company's giving them-
selves credit for 4,200,0001. as the debt from government, on the
ground that as they had advanced the full principal of the sum to
government, they had a right to give themselves credit for the
whole of it; and the more especially, as, on the other side, they
made themselves debtors for 2,992,4101.borrowed, to enable them
to make the loan to government of 4,200,0001. The money due
for the subsistence of prisoners in a former war, for the expenses
of the expedition against Manilla, and for hospital expenses, he
also reasoned upon, to shew that the company were not to blame
for inserting them on the credit side of their account. The right


honourable gentleman, he said, had such a happy talent of ren-
dering even the driest subject lively, that his pleasant allusion to
the charge of one halfpenny for bread, in Falstaff's tavern bill*,
when he came to take notice of the 10001. amount of silver
remaining in the treasury of the East India company, had so far
caught his fancy, that it was not till a minute or two afterwards
that he glanced his eye a little higher in the same page of the com-
pany's account, and saw an entry of money to the amount of
142;7941. Mr. Pitt dwelt upon this for some time, and went into
a discussion of the observations of Mr. Fox, upon the entry of
280,5751. for bonds, which he strenuously maintained the com-
pany had a right to give themselves credit for. He also :entered
into a long argument respecting the sums credited for freights paid,
defending them from Mr. Fox's objections. He likewise defended
the entry of 253,6161, as the value of the company's houses and
buildings in London, declaring, that as the company understood
:themselves to stand charged with bankruptcy, they felt it necessary
to state the value of the whole of their assets in the schedule of
the particulars of their estate. He reasoned for some time on the
assertions of Mr. Fox upon the prime-cost of four cargoes on their
passage from Bengal, and said, notwithstanding the arguments of
the honourable gentleman, that when the freight and duties were
paid, there would be a loss rather than a profit on the investment,
he believed the reverse would be the fact; for he generally under-
stood, when an investment was made in India, the prime-cost was
at least doubled in the price the cargoes fetched in England. He

The passage in Mr. lox's speech, which is here alluded to, may
not be improperly inserted.

" After enumerating," said Mr. Fox, " their mullions afloat
'; their mil.

lions in the warehouses; they (the company) come to the calculation of
their specie, and it amounts to the suns of 10001. This reminds me of
an article in one of our great.bard's bestplays, where, speaking of one of
his best characters, it is said, 'So much for sack ; so much for sugar; so
much for burnt hock ; so much for this, and so much for that; but for
the solid—the substantial—the staffoflife—bread, one hal4)enny !' So
it is with this flourishing company; they have millions of goods, of bonds,
of debts; but of silver they have one solitary thousand pounds."


[Nov. 27.

opposed Mr. Fox's observations on the different entries under the

head of quick stock,
at the various presidencies of Bengal, Madras,

and Bombay, and at Bencoolen, and in China, contradicting many
of them, and upholding the company in their statement. He
declared he did not know what the right honourable gentleman
alluded to, relative to the private debt incurred by the Madras
presidency. With regard to the debts due from the Nabob Asoph
ul Dowla, and the Nabob of Arcot, he said the honourable gentle-
man had taken such advantage of those facts to display his ora-
tory, that the House was lost in a blaze of eloquence, and so
dazzled with the lustre and brilliancy of the right honourable
gentleman's talent's, that they were deprived of the exercise of
their sober reason, and rendered incompetent to weigh the pro-

priety of the company's making any mention of debts, some of
which they expressly declared would be lingering in their pay-
ment, and others they acknowledged to be precarious.

After going through the whole
of the observations and objections

of Mr. Fox, and contending that the right honourable gentleman
had uniformly declined any sort of discriminatio n as to the different

periods of time that the company's debts would col e upon them,
but had argued as if the whole were due at the present moment
Mr. Pitt said, the last matter urged against the company, viz. their
capital, was, to his mind, the most extraordinary of any thing he
had ever met with. He had often heard when traders were bank-
rupts, or when it became necessary that their affairs should be
vested in the hands of trustees, that it was incumbent on them to
discover the whole amount of their debts to others ; but he never
before knew, that it was either incumbent on them to state, or ne-
cessary for the creditors to know, how much they owed themselves.
Having put this very strongly, Mr. Pitt, denied that there was any
deficiency whatever in their capital, contending on the other hand,
that the company, though distressed, were by no means insolvent,
and that they ought to be allowed an opportunity of proving the
whole of the statement of their affairs at the bar of the House. The
right honourable secretary had accused the temerity of the com-
pany in bringing before that House the accounts of the company in


a state exceedingly fallacious. He had asked, "what indigna-
tion and censure was due to the individual who dared to have
thus trifled with truth, with decency, and with the dignity -of
the House ?" What then shall be said of a minister, who ven-
tures to rise up in his place, and impose on the House a state-
ment every way absurd and erroneous ?

On these, and ninny other accounts, Mr. Pitt' was clearly for
deferring the debate. This position he argued very elaborately ;
and said, as it was perfectly reasonable to allow the [louse time
to enquire into and examine the truth of the papers then on the
table, the falsehood of which ought not to be taken for granted
upon the bare assertions of the secretary of state, so introduced
and made as they had been, he should hope there could be
no objection to adjourning the debate for a single day, and
should therefore ,reserve his sentiments upon the principle of
the bill for the present, and move " that the debate be ad-
journed till to-morrow (Friday) morning."

Mr Pitt's motion of adjournmen t
was negatived,


The original question was then carried.*

On the 18th of Deeeniber at twelve o'clock at night a special mes-
senger delivered to the two secretaries of state a message from HisMajesty, intimating that he had no further occasion for their services,
and desiring them to render up the seals of their offices; — at the same
time mentioning, that it was the royal pleasure that they should be de-
livered to him by the under-secretaries, as a personal interview would
be disagreeable. Early the next morning letters of dismission signed

,Temple," were sent to the other members of the cabinet. Earl Tem-
plc, who was appointed secretary of state, resigned two days after— and
the following arrangement was at length completed:

First Lord of the Treasury, and
Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Secretary of State for the Foreign

5 Secretary of State for the Home



Right Hon. William Pitt

Marquis of Carmarthen

Lord Sidney

vol.. 1.



oaths and their seats, Mr. Fox and Mr. Pitt rose at the same time, and'
the friends of both gentlemen were very loud in procuring for each the
preference of being heard. — The Speaker decided, that Mr. Fox was in
possession of the House, as he had been up, and was interropted by the
swearing in of the re-elected members. Mr. Pitt spoke to order, and
declared that he knew not that Mr. Fox was in possession of the House ;.
but he thought it requisite for him to say, that the reason for his rising
was to present to the House a message from His Majesty, conceiving,,
as he did, that the House would be disposed to hear that in preference to

Mr. Purr and the: other re-elected members having taken the usual
January 12. 1784.

The Speaker then, from the chair, announcing that Mr. Fox, havingother matter.

begun his speech, was clearly in possession of the House, and- was en-
titled to go on,Mr. Fox said, that nobody would believe that he was inclined to pre-
vent the right honourable Chancellor of the Exchequer from presenting
a message from His Majesty ; but having risen to move for the order of
the day,, and the right honourable gentleman having it in his power to

Earl Gower (succeeded by President of the Council.
Lord Camden)

Duke of Rutland (succeeded 5 Lord Privy Seal.
by Earl Gower) First Lord of the Admiralty.

Earl Howe
Lord Chancellor.

Lord Thurlow The above composed the Cabinet.,

Duke of Richmond
Master-General of the Ordnance.

Lloyd Kenyon, Esq. (after- Attorney-General.
wards Lord Kenyon) .

Richard Pepper Arden, Esq. Solicitor-General,
(afterwards Lord Alvanle n

Right Hon. Win. Wyndham
Grenville (afterwards Lord Joint Paymasters of the Forces.

Lord MuThrave
Reary*********** Treasurer of the Navy..(afterwards . Lord Melville)
Sir George Yonge, Bart.. ***** Secretary at War.
George Rose, Esq... Secretaries of the Treasury,.
Thomas Steele, Esq
Duke of Rutland

Lord Lieutenant of Ireland..

Thomas Orde, E.s.q Secretary to do.


present the message after the business of the day as well as before, and
knowing at the same time, from the nature of the message, that there
would be no injury in waiting, he wished that the House should go into
the committee on the state of the nation, where a motion of the most
immediate consequence to the House would be made, and which, in his
mind, ought to precede all other business. He therefore begged leave
to move the order of the day.

Mr. PITT now rose:
He was by no means anxious, he said, to prevent the House

from going into the committee on the state of the nation, or to
keep the right honourable gentleman from the possession of the
House, to the gaining of which such art and such accommo-
dation had been used. He could not be at all surprised that
those men, who before the recess had been so clamorous and
so petulant, and who had gone such strange lengths, at a time
when those persons who unquestionably ought to be present at
the discussion of all important questions, were necessarily absent,
should now have Proceeded in the same way, and taken the ad-
vantage of absence to bring on a measure, by which he, as the
minister of the crown, should' be prevented from delivering a
message from His Majesty. It was not his desire to prevent gen-
tlemen from saying any thing that they might imagine would
support that clamour which they had endeavoured so insidiously
to raise in the country, any thing that would support that petu-
lance which they had shown before the recess, that unjustifiable
violence and those unprecedented steps which they had taken,
for the purpose of inflaming the country, and exciting jealousies,
for which there was no real fbundation. He was happy to see
the House met again, that now the ministers of the crown might
be able to face the assertions, the insinuations, that were thrown
out; for nothing in the shape of a charge had been brought for-
ward, nothing had even been attempted to be proved : now they
would have it in their power to meet the enquiries and the pro-
positions- that might be agitated in the committee on the state
of the nation; and he assured the House, that he should trot
shrink from any question, charge, or insinuation, which the gen-
tlemen on the other side might choose to bring against him.

r 2

68, MR.

At the same time, however, that he cheerfully expressed,bis,
readiness to go into a committee on the state of the nation, be
thought it right that this committee should be delayed for some
Short time, and he trusted the reasons which he should give would,
be satisfactory to the House. It had pleased His Majesty to com-
mand his services, at a time, when, however he might feel himself
unqualified for the high station of the Minister, he could net
think himself justified in conscience to decline. The circum-
stances of the country were peculiar and distressing.' The East.
India bill brought in by the right honourable gentleman, a bill
so violent in its form as to give just reason for alarm to every
thinking man, bad been, by what powerful management it was
not for him to say, hurried, through that House. That bill
established a species of influence unknown to the constitutio

n of

this country ; and he was one of a most respectable minority,
who thought, that if it had passed into a law, the independence
of that House, the equilibrium between the three estates of the
realm, and the beautiful frame of our government, were at an end.
That bill passed this House; but at the same time it was the idea
of all men, even of those who objected to that bill as unfit to be
passed, that some bill was essentially necessary ; and he had
pledged himself, if it was withdrawn or thrown out, to propose
one less violent in its principles, and, as lie thought, more ado- -
quote to its purposes. Would any man object to his moving for
leave to bring in that bill? Would not all sides of the House ac-
knowledge, that the first object to be embraced was the India

It was for this question that the house was impatient.
They had thought proper to present an address to the throne, tes-
tifying. their extreme anxiety to go upon this important pursuit,
which they stated to be so urgent as to make them dread any
interruption whatever. Was it possible, then,. that they should
think of interrupting the business? Was it possible that they
should think of preventing the introduction of a new bill, which
was the only way of coining fairly to the business? Whatever
serious enquiry into the state of the nation might be meditated
afterwards, he should think it his duty most attentively and cheer-


fully to accompany. In the mean time he begged the House to
consider, that this was the first day -when the new ministers had
met them in parliament. That ministry was formed, was called
by His Majesty into office, chiefly on the ground of the India
bill. Their first duty was to frame a system for the government
of India. They had not opposed the last bill by cavilling; they
had not objected to it from envy to the parents of it. They had
opposed it, because they thought that its objects might be ac-
complished in a safer way. This was the point on which they
were at issue. They had now to prove that they had not lightly
disturbed the government of the country ; that they had not set
up a captious opposition, an opposition to men merely; but that
they opposed a most violent measure ; and having overthrown
it, they thought it their first duty to substitute a more mode-
rate, a more constitutional scheme in its place.

He spoke again of the clamour which had been excited, and
said he was ready to meet it all. He had ,objected to the last
bill, because it created a new and enormous influence by vesting,
in certain nominees of the ministers, all the patronage of the
East. He stated all his great objections to Mr. Fox's bill, and
said, that he was now called upon by his duty to bring in a new
bill ; and if the House, by agreeing with him to postpone the
order of the day, would allow him to move for leave to bring in
his bill, he would state all the outlines of his system, as shortly
and precisely as he could. He trusted that he should not be
prevented, because the right honourable gentleman had fore-
stalled the House, by rising at a time when those persons were
absent, whose duty it was to conduct official business; and he
hoped the House in general would agree with him in voting
against the order of the clay.

Before the debate closed, Mr. PITT again rose, and applied to a variety
of matters that had been urged against him, as well on the ground of
secret influence, as on the principles on which he had come into admi-

He declared he came up no back stairs ; that when he was
sent for by his Sovereign to know whether he would accept of


70 P1TT'S [JAN. 12..

office, he necessarily went to the royal closet ; that he knew of .
no secret influence, and that his own integrity would be his
guardian against that danger; but the House might rest assured
whenever he discovered any, he would not stay a moment longer
in office. I will neither have the meanness, said Mr. Pitt, to
act upon the advice of others, nor the hypocrisy to pretend,
when the measures of an administration in which I have a share
are deserving of censure, that they were measures not of my
advising. If any former ministers take these charges to them-
selves, to them be the sting. Little did I think to be ever
charged in this House with being the tool and abettor of secret
influence. The novelty of the imputation only renders it the
more contemptible. This is the only answer I shall ever deign
to make on the subject, and I wish the House to bear it in their
mind, and judge of my future conduct by my present declara-
tion ; the integrity of my own heart, and the probity of all my
public, as well as my private principles, shall always be my
sources of action. I will never condescend to be the instrument
of any secret advisers whatever, nor in any one instance, while
I have the honour to act as minister of the crown in this House,
will I be responsible for measures not my own, or at least in
which my heart and judgment do not cordially acquiesce.

With regard to the questions put to him as to the dissolution,
it did not become him to comment on the words of a most gra;
cious answer of the Sovereign delivered from the throne; neither
would he presume to compromise the royal prerogative, or bar-
gain it away in the House of Commons. When his honourable
friend in whose hands he considered his honour to be as safe
as his own, before the recess, in his name, and by his autho-
rity, pledged himself to the House„ that he (Mr. Pitt) would
not advise a dissolution, such at that time had been his real
sentiment ; he could not at present say more, but he hoped,
nevertheless, the House would now consent to receive and -go
into the consideration of his India bill.

Mr. Dundas.

The motion for the order of the day was carried,

Ayes 032
Noes I 93,

and the House went into the committee on the state of the nation ; when
several strong resolutions were passed, condemning as unconstitutional
both the appointment, and the continuance in office, of His Majesty's
ministers, who possessed not the confidence either of that House, or of
the people.

The purport of the message from the King, which Mr. Pitt had to pre-
sent, and which was afterwards read from the chair, was" to inform the
House, that on account of the river Weser being frozen up, and its
navigation rendered impassable, two regiments of Hessian troops had
been obliged to be disembarked and distributed in barracks at Dover,
Canterbury, Chatham, audPortsmouth ; and that His Majesty had given
especial directions that, as .soon as the navigation of the Weser was

-open, the two regiments in question should be again embarked, and im-
mediately sent home to Germany."

Janitary l

Mr. PITT, in pursuance of the notice he had given, this day moved for
":cave to bring in a bi g

for the better regulation of the government in India.
He rose, he said, in performance of his engagement to the

public and to the House, and to discharge that duty which was
indispensable to him in the situation which he held. He was
neither deterred by the circumstances of the time, nor the ap-
pearance of the agitation of that assembly, from rising to move
for the introduction of a new bill for settling the government of
India, because he knew it to be the most immediate concern of
the country, and that which before all other things called for the
consideration of parliament. He was aware that, in the present

rcumstances of the time, any proposition that -.came from him
was not likely tó be treated with much lenity.; and indeed from
what he had heard, he might be permitted to apprehend, not
likely to be treated by certain persons with impartiality or jus-
tice; for they had already excited a clamour against what they
onceived to be his ideas, and had already condenmed, without

knowing, his system. They had taken up certain resolutions
passed by the proprietors of East-India stock, and had said, that




a system founded upon them must necessarily be defective, must
necessarily be charged with more influence, accompanied with
less energy, than the bill which had been rejected. He knew the
triumph which he should afford to a certain description of men,
when he informed the House, that the plan which he proposed to
submit to parliament was Chiefly founded on the resolutions of
the proprietors of India stock, and that his ideas in all the great
points coincided with theirs. He anticipated in his mind the
clamour which would take place on this discovery, and the voci-
ferous acclamations of those gentlemen ranged behind the right
honourable member, whose signals they were always disposed to
obey, and whose mandates they were always ready to execute. He
perfectly understood the nature of their conduct ; he knew well
how capable they would be of deciding on the subject, from the
notices they would receive, and how eagerly they would embrace
the opinion which the right honourable gentleman would give
them ; but he was not to be intimidated from undertaking what
he conceived to be for the interest of his country ; and. to the
crime which was alleged against him, he pleaded guilty. He
confessed himself to be so miserably weak and irresolute, as not
to venture to introduce a bill into that House on the foundations
of violence and entrenchment. He acknowledged himself to be
so weak as to pay respect to the chartered rights of men, and
that, i» proposing a new system of government and regulation,
he did not disdain to consult with those, who, having the greatest
stake in the matter to be new-modelled, were likely to be the
best capable of giving him advice. He acknowledged the enor-

,mous transgression of acting with their consent, rather than by
violence ; and that, in the bill which he proposed to move for,
he had governed himself by the ideas of the proprietors of East-
India stock, and by the sense and wisdom of those men who
were most habituated to the consideration of the subject, as well
as the most interested in it.

He gave to his opponents, with perfect cheerfulness, all the
advantage which this view of the subject could confer. His plan

Mr. Fox.

was really founded on the resolutions which the House had seen
in the public newspapers, and he acted in concurrence with the
sentiments of the general proprietary. He had not dared to
digest a bill without consultation ;

which was to violate chartered
rights sanctified by parliamentary acts ; he had not ventured to
conceive that any plan, which should erect

• in this country a
system unknown to the constitution, would be ever embraced by
any House of Commons ; or that a scheme of new and uncon-
trollable influence in the hands of new and unconstitutional
characters, would be suffered to have an establishment, since such
a scheme must give the death-blow to our frame of government.
He had taken notice of the objections started by the right ho-
nourable gentleman, before he had heard his plan, and accepted
by his followers with the same haste and the same decency ; he
had heard him allege, that his plan was calculated to give as much
or more influence to the crown than the bill which had been re-
jected ; and that it was not calculated to produce the salutary
consequences to this country, or to India, which his bill would
have certainly done. These were the imputations which had
been brought. against it before it was known, and the House were
now to enquire into the truth of the assertion. He wished to be
tried by comparison. He challenged the trial by that test ; and
he trusted to the candour of the House, even circumstanced as
it now was ; he trusted to theirfairness and impartiality, that if
they found the provisions of his bill as effectual, with less vio-
lence, — affording as vigorous a system of control, with less
possibility of i nfluence,—securing the possessions of the East to
the public, without confiscating the property of the company, —
and beneficially changing the nature of this defective government
without entrenching on the chartered rights of men, they would
give him a manly, liberal, and successful support, without en-
quiring what party of men, or what side of the House, was to be
maintained on the occasion. He trusted they would not approve
his plan the less for being without violence, for being destitute of
the rapidity, the grasping principle, the enormous influence, the
nordinate ambition, the unconstitutional tendencies of the bill


which had been rejected. He trusted also they would find, that
he had not objected to the bill of the right honourable gentle-
man from motives of capricious, or of personal opposition, or
that he was now to seduce them into the approbation of a
measure more speciously coloured, but in truth stolen from that
to which he had denied his assent.

Ile was not much affected with the clamour, that his was to
be a half-measure — a palliative — although he had so loudly de-
precated half-measures and palliatives on the first day of' the ses-
sion. Hay-measure was the watch-word of the day. He should
not be affected with this charge, if by that was meant, that every
measure, which did not proceed to the violation of charters,
and the confiscation of property, was a half-measure. If he could
only avoid the imputation of erecting a system of power new
and unknown in the country, to the extinction of the company,
and the danger of the constitution, he would not be displeased
to hear his plan receive the appellation of a half-measure. But
he trusted that in the exposition of the principles of his plan
and, of the provisions, they would find reasons to go with him in
thinking, that without materially entrenching on the company,
and without deviating from the practice of the constitution, a
scheme of government might be framed, less overbearing, and
equally efficacious. Whatever might be its reception, however,
he should have the heart-felt pleasure of knowing that he had
discharged his duty conscientiously ; and he professed that he
was infinitely more eager to see a fair, solid, and effectual system
established, than that he should be the person to propose it, as
he was really more anxious for the welfare of his country than
for the aggrandisement of himself.

The general objects to be looked to, and provided for in the
formation of a system for India, were chiefly these :

The concerns of this country in India, in the various consider-
ations to which they branched; the civil and military govern-
ment : the revenues ; the commerce; the vast territorial posses-

though they had been long acquired, had never yet
finlly)settled : there were claims to be ascertained, and in-


terests to be divided. The happiness of the natives was to be
studied: the connection between the commerce and the territo-
rial government was to be maintained; and, last of all, they
were to consider what were likely to be the effects of the govern-
ment of India on the government of Great Britain ; how it
might affect our constitution in point of influence, and how it
might be rendered at once vigorous and unalarming.

These were the objects to be considered, and surely the House.
would go with him in saying, they were most important. The
possessions in India were great and ample ; they could not be
maintained but with broad and extensive establishments ; they
contained an immense number of the human race, for whose
happiness it behoved us, by every call of humanity and policy,
to provide ; and there was the utmost necessity of framing a
-system, which should at once preserve the connection and the
distinction between the territories and the commerce. This
was particularly difficult, and indeed the whole business was of
so complicated a kind, that it required all the wisdom, all the
experience, and all the consideration of parliament.

Any plan which he or any man could suggest for the govern-
ment of territories so extensive and so remote must be inade-
quate ; nature and fate had ordained in unalterable decrees, that
governments to he maintained at such a distance must be inade-
quate to their end. In the philosophy of politics such a govern-
ment must be declared irrational ; it must be declared at the best
to be inconvenient to the mother and supreme power, oppressive
and inadequate to the necessities of the governed. In such a
scene there could be formed, there could be imagined no theo-
retical perfection it must be. a choice of inconveniences ; and
therefore he trusted that, in the examination of the ideas which
he should throw out, the House would take into their view the
difficulties, and always remember, that whatever was suggested,
however specious, however promising it might be, must be tried
by the event rather than by speculation. The general ideas
which he had thrown out, and the objects which he xed–de.,.-.
scribed to be in view, would serve the House as la


guide them in the consideration, and they would examine how
far his propositions were calculated to answer the object.

In the first place, then, the political concerns of this country
in India, that is, the civil and military government of India —
the political establishments— the political system—the collection
of the revenues—and, to give it one short and general definition,
the imperial dominion of our territories in the East, ought to
be placed under other control than that of the company of mer-
chants in Leadenhall-street ; but the change ought to be made
with as little violence as possible; it ought to be mady by the
conviction of the company, and not by violence. In this the
proprietary agreed with him. The first business, then, was to
take care, that this should be made an effectual control, and it
was his clear idea, that this control could not with safety or pro-
priety be placed in any other hands than those of the genuine
and legitimate executive power of the constitution.

His next principle was, that the commerce of the company
should be left, as much as possible, to their own superintendence.
This was an idea which must strike every thinking man ; for com-
merce ought always to be left to the merchant, unshackled, unem-
barrassed by interferences which might impede its current, and
diminish its security. In this, however, there was a consideration
to be attended to. The commerce of the East-India company
was bT a mixed nature. It was involved with revenue, and it
would be requisite that a provision should be made for distin-
guishing between what was merely commercial and what was
mixed, that under the colour of commercial acts or commercial
regulation the politics of India should not be affected.

His next principle was to prevent capricious effects on the con-
stitution of Britain from the government of India. In providing
for this principle, very great delicacy was to be used in the nature,
quality, and extent of the powers to be given to the governments
in India. The servants in India must obey the controlling power
at home; but still, in regard to the distance from the controlling
power,...care must be taken to arm them with such discretionary
authority as should leave energy mid vigour for all the purposes of

good and substantial government, sufficient to secure the happi-
ness of the natives, as well as to protect the commerce and the pos-
sessions, but at the same time, so limited as to restrain inordinate
ambition—to crush oppressive rapacity—to extinguish the job-
bing of adventure= and to establish true and equitable dominion.

He understood well that it was more easy to exhibit principles
than adopt provisions ; and he only exhibited these principles to
serve as land-marks to the House in the examination of his pro-
visions, for he should succeed or fail in his plan in so far as he
reached or came short of these ideas.

The first point, then, in the plan, was to ascertain the degree
of control which should be established over the company, and
the hands in which that control should be placed. The degree
of control should amount to the government of the civil and mi-
litary concerns, and of the revenue, and this was a species of con-
trol not new; for we had already seen a control over the company
established in the hands of government. But the former interfe-
•ence . of ministers had not been beneficial, because it had not been
active or vigilant. On this account was it, that the right honour-
able gentleman in his bill, had placed itin new hands? Was it
on this account that he had vested the control in the hands of a
set of men, whose character was a monster and a novelty in the
constitution ? What security had parliament that this new and
unheard-of board would have been more active and vigilant than
a constitutional and executive one? Surely none but the charac-
ter, the integrity, the intelligence, and the alacrity of the indivi-
duals who composed it. If men could be found by the executive
government of the country equally endowed, he asked if the
security to the. public was not the same ?

But he must again take notice here of the imputation, which,
he imagined, would be thrown on his plan for its moderation in
this respect. It would be called a half-measure, because it left
with the company many of their rights, their property, their
patronage, their respect : but he saw no aspersion in the term of a
half-measure, if his plan was to be so termed in opposition to the
totality of that scheme which grasped at every thing which they

MR. PITT'S [JAN. 14.

enjoyed. This grasped at no more than what was essential to
the object, and he with confidence trusted to the impartiality of
the House of Commons, that they would approve of a measure

lent than those of the late plan : and he had this confidence, not-

be new and extraordinary. His plan aimed at beneficial control.

calculated to effect all the purposes required, by means less vio-

withstanding the impression of the times, which he confessed to

He meant not to rob nor to steal the rights of the company.

He knew that the merits of his plan must be comparative ; and

4 '

that the House would give the preference to that, which, in the
comparison, was proved to be the best in the two great points
of sufficiency and vigilance of control. The public required secu-
rity. What was the security which they had in the projected
board of commissioners ? Was it the greatness of their character,
or the circumstance of their being appointed by the House on the
nomination of the minister? If this was all, might not others be
found as great in character, and found constitutionally by the
executive power? And would it be a less recommendation of
such men that they were not a new and independent institution,
unknown to the constitution and uncontrollable by the crown ?
The persons, that had the control, should be persons capable of
giving time and attention to the objects of the trust—they should
have leisure for activity and exertion, that it should be no longer
subject to the imputation of a sleepy and ineffectual control, but
deserve the character of an active and efficacious one. But this
could not be done, perhaps, without the creation of new officers;
for, in the present state of administration, the ministers through
whole the crown should speak, that is, the two secretaries of
state, were so occupied as not to be able to give the business all
the time and attention which would be necessary. To provide
for this, there should be joined to the minister other assistance
to expedite the affairs, that they might not be delayed or
neglected, at the same time that the crown's control was signi-
fied through a minister.

His proposal therefore was, " that a board should be insti-
tuted to be appointed by His Majesty, consisting of one of the


principal secretaries of state, the chancellor of the exchequer for
the time being, and a certain number of the privy council." The
number of the board would be left blank for the consideration of
the House. The privy counsellors were not to be as in the con-
stitution of the privy council itself, to attend precariously ; but
such as His Majesty appointed were to give regular attendance at
this board, and devote their time and study to its objects. But
it might be asked, were there to be salaries given to the mem-
bers of this new board, and was it to be productive of additional
burdens to the people ? He knew that in the last bill, though-
there was no salary mentioned, it was the general rumour, if not
the general intention, that they should have a remuneration. It
was his idea, however, that in the present establishment any ex-
pense might be avoided. There were in this country a number
of persons, who, from their rank, were members of the privy
counsel, and who at the same time were possessed of great and
distinguished offices, with large emoluments and little labour.
There was no doubt but a number of such persons might be
found to accept of this important duty without any additional
reward. It was what they owed to the country, from which they
derived- splendid incomes for no service ; and he was sure that
if it fell to his lot —which was a question to be decided —he
would think it his indispensable duty, and would give up his
time and attention most cordially to the object.

A board thus constituted, it might be imagined, would have
the qualities of activity and vigour. It would be derived consti-
tutionally from the executive power. It would create no new
office of emolument. It would load the subject with no new bur-.
den. It would be as efficacious as the board of seven commis-
sioners. That board undoubtedly was composed of men of great
integrity and fair honour ; but he might be allowed to add, some
of them not possessing much knowledge of; or interest in, the sub-
ject of their control. But this new board would be at least equally
intelligent and as efficacious. It would be as good, only with
this difference, that the rights of no company would be violated
—only with this difference, that they would not be uncontrolled



MR. PITT'S [JAN. 14. 1784.]

or uncontrollable ; — only with thin difference, that they would
not possess the whole of the patronage, to the great danger of
British liberty . The dispatches of the company must be sub-
mitted to this board, and be made subject to their control, their'
opinion to be given in a reasonable and competent time, and the
dispatches countersigned by the hoard, by which a complete
responsibility was vested in them. This was no ambiguous sys-
tem — it was clear, public, and administrative.

In the next place, though he had . no wish to interfere with,
much less to control, the commerce of the company., yet as the
commercial acts might be connected with the political, because
they might have an aspect leaning both to the one and to the
other, he also proposed, " That all the commercial dispatches of
the company should also be submitted to the board, whose con-
trol should be signified in a reasonable and competent time : but
the court of directors, if they agreed not with the opinion of the
board on the decision of the question, whether it had a political
or merely a commercial tendency, might appeal to the King in
his counsel, whose decision should be final." This he hoped
would not be considered as a security nominal and frivolous,
when it was remembered that this was to be a public appeal
and public trial. He was sincere in his ideas on the subject of
the security ; and being so, he regarded neither the sneers nor
the smiles of gentlemen : this appeal he considered as a guard to
the company, and chiefly because it was liable to be discussed
in both Houses of parliament.

This board possessed not the patronage of the company. They
had the power of a negative, indeed, but they could not alter the
names that were sent them by the company ; they could not make
use of this power in the way of patronage, for it was his idea that
this should be a board of political control, and not as the
former was, a board of political influence. He stated what the
constitution of that board was, and what the constitution of this
was to be. That board was to seize on the rights, patron-
age, commerce, and property of the company. This left to
the company the uncontrolled possession of their commerce,

their treasury, their patronage, their contracts, the appointment
of their writers and cadets ; by which, in the course of things,
all the officers and servants in India were in their immediate

He then came to state what was to be the nature of the go-
vernment abroad : "Their authority should have the powers of
large discretion, accompanied with the restraint of responsibility."
They should be bound to obey the orders of the board at home,
but at the same time they should have a sufficient quantity of
power for all the purposes of emergency, and all the occasions
which the immense distance might give rise to. He went into a
long detail to chew how much the influence created by the last
bill exceeded the influence of this. Here the government abroad
could at best but select from among the appointments of the
company — they could not make original appointments of their
own. In addition to this, there was in the crown, and consequently
in the two Houses by an address to the crown, the power of meal.

It was to be enquired by whom the members of the councils
abroad were to be appointed. The company had cheerfully
yielded this point also to the crown. He however had his doubts
on this subject, and therefore in his bill the matter should be
left for the wisdom of the House to decide; but "the appointment-
of the commander-in-chief he thought should be clearly in the
crown," for the duties which he had to fulfil were so essentially
connected with the great operations of' the state, that there
could be no doubt on his appointment.

The next consideration was the number of the councils abroad.
His idea was, " that their number should be four, the governor;-
general to have the casting vote." But this also he would leave to
the House. The number of the council at Bengal he did not mean
to reduce; for in this he followed the example of the right hon-
ourable gentleman, in

. not making the system a personal question.
The late bill thought fit to vest all the power in the govern-

ment here, and none or little in the government abroad. Hisidea was otherwise. He thought there should be a power inVOI, J.

M R. PITT'S [.TAx.

the government abroad, large and broad, but guarded with

He propose d

that there should be " a revision of all the esta-
blishments in India, to see where retrenchments might be made

with safety—to see what were necessar
y, what were useful, and

what, on account of their inutility, inconvenience, corruption, or
abuse, ought to be extinguished." This he recommended, for
he believed that many of the abuses in India arose from the

establishments being overloaded.
Another reform struck him as essential, and which indeed was

only an enforcement of an old rule. This was, " that all appoint-
ments in India should take place by gradation and succession."
Influence would by this means be very much diminished ; and
indeed, without entering much into the nature and amount of
the power, he imagined the government might be framed to
possess all that was necessary to its purposes, without having so
much as to create influence. He would speak only therefore of
the great lines of power, without entering into the little detail.

His last proposition, he said,. was, " that there should be
erected a new tribunal for the trial of offences in India." He
explained the necessity of 'such an institution, and said, it would
be for the wisdom of the House to determine its nature and autho-
rity. His idea was, that it should consist of a number of the
principal persons in Westminster-hall in the first place ; that.
civilians should also be joined; and also a number of peers, and a.
number of the members of the House of Commons. A tribunal:.
thus constituted might, in his idea, embrace the great object.
The culprit might have the power of challenging ; and, before.
this tribunal, evidence might he admitted which the courts of law
could not receive. They should be directed to question, td.;
arraign ; they should determine the nature of offences ; arid ins
offences he wotdd reckon the disobedienc e of orders, theacceptance
of presents, oppressions of the natives, monopolies, rapacity, any
all the train of offences which had tainted the national character
in India. They should enquire into the personal fortunes of the
delinquents ;. they should have the power of confiscation; and


every thingbut capital power. In regard to the Zemindars, though
he admired the spirit of the right honourable gentleman's intention
towards them, yet he could not imitate it on account of its imprac-

. ticability. General indiscriminate restitution was as bad as indis-
criminate confiscation. He proposed, therefore, "That an enquiry
should be instituted into the confiscations, for the purpose of
restoring such as had been irregularly and unjustly seized

• and
that they should be secured against violence in future."

He had taken notice of many more points, he said, than were
included in his motion ; but he had thrown them out for the
consideration of the House, as a subsequent bill must he brought
in for regulations, or what he believed would be effectual, the bill
of the right honourable gentleman now in the House might be
modified to his purpose. He again gave a comparison betwee
his bill and that which had been thrown out ; and he declared,
that the establishment of a Moderate and effectual system of
government for India, was the great and immediate object of his
mind. He did not wish to gratify young ambition by the place
to which he was called ; he was not attached to hi's eminence. I
am not, said Mr. Pitt, governed at this moment by motives of
personal interest, or of personal fame. I have introduced this
plan as the deliberate conviction of mymind, Made up on the most
serious consideration of the most intelligent men. Accept the ideas
if they are worth your notice; strengthen them with your wisdom;
mature them with your experience ; or, in their room, establish
a more adequate system, and I am happy.

However unpleasant to me a majority of this House, and
insinuations against me, must be, I shall incur the danger of them
all on this great point— establish a good, rational, and safe system,
and dispose of me as you will. I have the consciousness of a
good intention, and therefore, without having the serious fear,
that personal consideration will be imputed to me, I conclude

moving, " That leave be given to bring in a bill for the better
regulation of our Indian concerns."

The motion was seconded by Mr. Dundas, and, after some discussion,
agirloeeNc il ntgo; and the bill was ordered to be read alirzt time on the Friday4,

MR. PITT'S [ JAN. 23'..

January 23. 3. S4.

On a motion for the second reading of Mr. Pitt's EasOndia Bill, and.
after Mr. Fox, Mr. Erskine, and other members had expressed their
objections to the measure,

Mr. Purr rose, and spoke to the following effect :
Notwithstanding the vast variety of auxiliary matter with which

the right honourable gentleman*over the way has thought proper,
according to his ordinary manner, to aid and to embellish his
speech ; notwithstanding also his learned friend t, in a speech
equally diffuse, bas followed his right honourable leader through
a most faithful repetition of the same arguments ; yet I cannot
help thinking that I meet the question fairly, when I say that all
the objections made to the present East-India bill, reduce
themselves to these two :

In the first place it is said to want vigour and effect ;
In the second place to want permanency.
Now, Sir, with regard to the first of these objections, that it

is a plan of patronage, and not a plan of vigour, effect, and of
power ; that it gives to the crown a new and enormous extent of
influence, while it furnishes no new means of controul ; to this I
must reply ; Is it possible that gentlemen who argue thus can
have read the bill? Sir, I defy any man to contradict me when I
say, that while there is every possible guard against patronage, the
crown's vigorous, effectual, and authoritative command over the
politics of Indostan, is clearly the main object of every line of the
bill. It was the acknowledged

fault of the regulating act of 177S,
that it left only a dormant power among His Majesty's ministers
-to negative and regulate political orders sent out to India. This
power, I allow, was not usefully, nay, not at exercised; respon-
sibility lay riot then with the crown; but, Sir, does it follow, when
an express board is appointed,. and devoted to the object of East-
India politics; charged with the whole responsibility, furnished

* Mr.. Fox. -I- Mr. Erskine.


with every means of information, as well as every power that can
possibly be necessary to the dominion of the East—does

i it follow,
I say-, Sir, that by means of such a board, there will be no active,
no efficient control ? How does the right honourable gentleman
torture the imagination, and strive to mislead the common sense
of the House, in order to persuade them into this absurdity : He
introduces a most curious dialogue between the government-board
and the directors; the directors appoint a servant, whom (accord-
ing to his train of argument) the board object to, and say, " No,
you shall not appoint this man your servant, for if you do, we will
punish you, by insisting on such and such a measure." " Whom
shall we appoint then ?" say the directors. " Why we choose you
should appoint such an one," says the board, "and then you shall
order what political measures you please." The right honourable
gentleman, therefore, in order to prove that the new hoard will
have the patronage, while the directors will keep the control,
argues exactly thus : The board, he says, will barter their control
for patronage ; ergo, the board will have all the patronage, and
none of the control. But, Sir, v; ill the directors agree to such a
bargain ?. Will they give up all their right of naming their own
servants, for the pleasure of dictating political measures ? Is it
possible to conceive such a perversion of common sense? I say,
therefore, away with such arguments as these. If any honourable
gentleman can fairly devise the means whereby the patronage of
the crown can be still farther restrained, and its authority in India
at the same time supported, I am not only willing, but I urn ex-
tremely eager to listen to any such propositions ; but the com-
mittee, I conceive, will be the place for observations of this sort.
What I contend, and insist at present, is only this, that to give
the crown the power of guiding the polities of India, with as
little means of corrupt influence as possible, is the true plan for
India, and is the true spirit of this bill.

Next, Sir, with respect to the permanency of this system. Anti
here I am forced to confess, that I, for my part, can never ex-
pect any duration, any consistency, any degree of permanency in
the government either of India or any other of our dependencies,

G 3


Without a strong and permanent government is established in this
distracted country. The right honourable gentleman has boasted
that his system is able to maintain itself unshaken amidst all the
changes of administration here : perhaps I may deny to the right
honourable gentleman's plan 'even this quality: and here I beg the
house to recollect an argument which the learned gentleman -
pressed most forcibly the ether day ; for when it was justly objected
to that bill, that the seven commissioners would support the right
honourable gentleman's party whether in or out of power, " Oh

( said the learned gentleman) we all know that any new minister
would be able, by carrying an address through either House of
parliament, to displace any of these commissioners, and they
must depend, therefore, on the good graces of those who have the
majority or parliament," that is to say, on the minister for the
time being; and, in short, Sir, it was the common answer to this
very serious objection on our part, that the India commissioners
would naturally and necessarily have a good understanding with
the minister for the time being. Why, Sir, if they will turn
round with every new minister, how is the system said to be thus
permanent amidst all the changes of administration ? and yet I,
forsooth, am the man accused of aiming at inconsistent advantages!
Sir, I do wish the persons who shall rule India to maintain always
a good understanding with administration. The right honourable
gentleman compares the duty of the board appointed by this bill,
to the duty of a new secretary of state, and laments that such a
new office should be created : I accept of his comparison, and I
say that the power of government over India ought to be in the
nature of that of a secretary of state. The seven commissioners ,
were secretaries of state set over all India, but independent of,
and unconnected with the government of this country ; and is not
this a new and unheard of power, in this or in any constitution?

Earl Fitzwilliam, Sir, by that bill, had power to involve this
country in war with France or with Holland, not only without the
direction, but without the privity of the government of this coun-
try. Sir, he and his board were to manage all the politics of In-
&stall, implicated as they are with the politics of European


powers, without the least knowledge of the politics subsisting in the
King's cabinet,without theleast co-operation, without the least kind
of official communication with any one of His Majesty's servants.
What an imperium in imperio was this ! The East-India company
is said to be already an imperium in imperio ; but, Sir, they at
least hold some communication, they render up some information,
they act in some concert with the government of this country; for
the very ground on which government's right of interference has
been built is this : That inasmuch as European politics were be-
come involved in the politics of India, it was necessary that one
executive power should have the superintendence over the whole
empire. When the right honourable gentleman therefore calls
his system permanent, because his commissioners were thus sepa-
rated and insulated from the crown, I should lament such perma-
nency, if it were possible ; but I deny the possibility : for all our
dependencies cannot continue to exist, unless in our Asiatic and
European politics there be some unity of action. His permanency
therefore was only this: it was a permanency of men, not a perma-•
nency amen and measures. The present bill, indeed, gives to no
set of men a permanent, indefeasible power.; but it establishes a
permanency of system ; it gives to the crown of these realms the
sway over its Indian, much in the same manner as over its other
dependencies, and insures to it a permanent, regular, systematic,
and supreme control over all the political affairs of that vast country.

I must say a few words, Mr. Speaker, with regard to the in-
fluence which this bill adds to the crown; for the right honourable
gentleman has

- insisted, with no little acrimony, that the whole
drift and spirit of thisbill is to give an unbounded patronage to the
crown ; that lain become the champion of influence, and no won-
der I am so earnest in this bill. The learned gentleman has
even asserted, with a perfect air of confidence, that this bill takes
more patronage front the company than the former bill itself;
the former indisputably took the Whole ; the present as indisput-

ably takes but a part : the learned gentleman has therefore assert-
ed that a part is greater than the whole—an assertion which, I ant
sure, to his mind it were in vain to attempt disproving, and pre-

0 •.



sumptuous in me to contradict. nut, Sir, let me state it fairly
and candidly, and see what is the influence gained to government.
It has been repeatedly said that-a great deal of patronage has been
all along derived to government from the company : what is the
case by this bill? In the first place, all influence in England is
left to the company; an influence infinitely more dangerous to
this constitution, and more liable to abuse, than that which is ex-.
ercised abroad, the nomination of all the numberless clerks,
labourers, and servants here, is left entirely to the company; all
contracts (than which nothing can be more adapted to the pur-
poses of corruption) arc left to the company ; the preference of
what ships, captain:, shopkeepers, buyers and sellers, they please,
is, in my opinion, most properly left to the option of the company ;
the nomination of all writers remains also to the company, as
well as the nomination of the far greater part of the servants
abroad. The crown, in short, appoints none but the supreme ser-
vants abroad, whose authority must be transcendant, and who
must, for the sake of unity, be cordial with government. These
superior servants, it is true, have a great command of influence
in India ; that influence, however, is materially broken, by being
exercised only through their instrumentality ; and: it must be fur-
ther remembered, that these very servants will have been named
in the first instance by the company, and are chosen to these high
offices only after a regular and necessary gradation. If less influ-
ence than this will suffice, let it be still further reduced in the
committee; I hope, however, it is indisputably clear that influ-
ence is not the object of this bill. I avow, indeed, that whatever
is given, should, in my opinion, go fairly to the crown, and not be
delegated to any set of men, who may pervert it to their own
purposes. •

One word more, Sir, with respect to the bill of the right ho-
nourable -gentleman over the way;—he affects to tell you, with
all the simplicity in the world, that his bill created no new power,
gave no new influence, erected no new estate in the constitution
of this country ; for that it was a mere transfer of power from,
ene body of men to another. Sir, I have already proved it was'

not a mere transfer of power ; for the former directors were in
some degree at least connected, and in some measure co-operated
with government : the new commissioners were not to be con-
nected, were not to co-operate with government. But, Sir, this is
not all. It was a transfer of power from a body of men, uncon-
nected with each other, numerous, and fluctuating, by whom the
boundless patronage of India was divided into a thousand little
wandering streams : it was a transfer from that large uncon-
nected body, into the hands of a small junto, politically connected,
established in a manner independent of the crown, by whom
India was to be converted into one vast political engine, an
engine that, might be brought to bear against the independence
of this House. Is. the right honourable gentleman so dim-sighted,
so unsuspecting, on a subject thus deeply affecting the' freedom
of parliament, and this whole constitution, as not to perceive
the political bearing which must be given to this vast machine ?
Let the characters of his seven commissioners be what they may,
even in that view, I say they are one political hand; the collected
patronage of all India at home and abroad, was to be. knit toge-
ther in their hands, to be levelled, as the party chose, either
against the prerogatives of the crown, or against the independ-
ence of parliament. Compared to these things, the very loss of
India, Sir, nay, the loss of every dependency ofthis country, were
light and trifling ; the loss of India were a sacrifice easy to be'.
borne ; but -the loss of liberty to this country, the sacrifice of
the independence of parliament, :

and the ruin of this constitu-
tion — this is a calamity, this akind of ruin, to which I.will never
yield without a struggle.

The-total overthrow of the chartered rights of the East-India
company, was another most important objection, Sir; from which
the present bill is indisputably free,. since, in spite of all the
cavil of the right honourable gentleman, it does come forward
fortified and recommended by the consent of the company.

These are the grounds on which I maintain this. bill. I offer it .
not to the House as a perfect plan. Let the right honourablegen-
demon himself propose any amendments. in; the committee. Hits


(JAN. 2:3.MR. PITT'S
'principle be right, if it be practicable; as a plan of reform for

India, and above all, - if it be safe as to the constitution of this
country, the House, I trust, will so far recognise it, as to suffer
it to pass into a committee.

The House divided on the second reading,
Ayes . .21.1
Noes 222

The bill was then rejected.
After the division, Mr. PITT was urgently pressed to give the House

some satisfactory explanation respecting the probability of a dissolution
of parliament ; and, on his remaining silent to all their entreaties, a loud
and general call was repeated from every side of the House. At length,
upon some harsh expressions from General Conway, who charged the
minister with standing against the voice of the representatives of the
people by means of bribery, and by other dark and intricate arts, which,
if the imputation was false, he was bound for the Sake of his own honour

to explain and refute,

called the right honourable general to order, and

desired him to specify the instances where the agents of ministers
had gone about the country practising bribery. It was an :assertion
which he believed the right honourable general could not bring to
proof, and which, as he could not prove, he ought not to assert.
He begged the right honourable general to suffer him to be the
fudge of his own honour. He had not been long accustomed to
the violence of that House, or to its harsh language ; but he had
been long enough accustomed to it, to assure the House, that
neither unsupported slander, nor intemperate invective should
discompose his mind. He would not condescend to answer inter-
rogatories, which he did not think gentlemen entitled to put to

him. Ile
said, he should not give any answer whatever to their

questions, and he concluded in a tone of high and elevated sen-
timent; and. with a classical text, expressive of its being incon,
sistent with dignity to attend to either their rash slanders, or
their modest questions.

acre the conversation was terminated by au adjournment.


Jconcaly 29. 1784.

THE order of the day for resuming the committee on the State of the
Nation was, on the motion a Mr. Fox, adjourned till Monday. In reply
to Mr. Fox's observations, which severely inveighed against ministers for
retaining their situations in direct opposition to the sense of the House,

Mr. PITT declared he did not rise to oppose the motion of the
right honourable gentleman, but was called up in very express
terms to state his objections to the mode of arraignment thus
constantly adopted by those on the opposite side of the House.—
Against all that very high language thus personally addressed to
him, he would only oppose his simple assertion, as he should
affect no more argument on one side than was used on the other.
Indeed hedoubted not the House would think with him, that such
a torrent of eliminating assertions could not by any facts whatever
be established. He was conscious to himself no part of his public
life or official conduct stood in the least need of any apology.

The delicacy of his present situation required discretion. He
was determined to sustain it with as much firmness and decency
as he could. This resolution was the result of deliberation ;
and no invective or aspersion which the right honourable
gentleman could throw out should divert him from that sort of
behaviour he had already pursued ; he could only act as his own
judgment directed him. This direction, he trusted, would not
lead him into any very palpable mistake ; and while he retained

confidence of this kind, it was in vain to expect he would be
the dupe of any other.

The right honourable gentleman, in saying they did not possess
the requisites of a legal administration, was wrong, as they cer-
tainly had every formality which belonged to them as the servants
of the public. These epithets, so well calculated to throw an
odium on them, were therefore improperly applied ; for whatever
the right honourable gentlemen might think of a majority, he
would not allow that, in every case, a majority was to prescribe
what in such and such circumstances it was proper for ministry to

MR. PIT T'S [JAN. 29.

do.. He did not believe there was a power in the House of Corn- -
`mons for the control of the prerogative. He rather thought
every branch of the legislature was instituted to secure the legal
and constitutional exercise of the other. He hoped, therefore,
that it would never be contended, that the sovereign, in creating
peers, or chusing his ministers, must first ask leave of the House.

The right honourable gentleman had said too, that there was
now no government in the country : an allegation to which he
would give an open and avowed negative. What ! Were minis-
ters of no use but to attend their duty in parliament ? Was there
110 official business to transact of a public and national description
without the walls of the House of Commons? And whether these
measures or schemes which depended on the assistance and con-
currence of parliament, were or were not suspended, undoubtedly
other matters, however inferior they might be thought, came
under their inspection and control.

He wished, however, the right honourable gentleman . would
speak out. If His Majesty's ministers were as criminal as he would
insinuate, there were only two ways of rendering them amenable
to their country—by criminating their conduct, or turning them
out of place or power. Why does not the right honourable
gentleman conic boldly forward, and do one or other of these?
The charge of disturbing the tranquillity of the country, or im-
peding publiebusiness, he considered as invidious and groundless.
This he might retort, • but he would not adopt the language of

The throne was still as accessible as ever, and would still listen
to the voice of reason and necessity. But it was as futile as it was
improFer to be coming down from time to time to the House,
so•undingtheminds• of gentlemen, and exciting them to opposition
against a ministry . whom they had it so much in their power to
remove. It would be more manly as well as candid, to cone at
once to some specific charge, and decide the fate of a ministry
thus obnoxious and uncomplying.

As for his own part, he regarded all threatenings of that sort
with great indifference. The right honourable gentleman had ttn-

doubteclly exerted his utmost to paint his conduct in the worst
light; bat still he was willing to stand forth in his own vindication.
Nothing could be imputed to him for which he had any reason,

be ashamed. His heart, his principles, his hands were pure: and
-while he enjoyed the conscious satisfaction of his own mind, no
language of the right honourable gentleman, no clamour, no arti-
fice of party, no unfounded imputations, should affect him. He
-had already stated his conduct fairly and explicitly to the House.
He hoped it was not necessary to repeat his former declarations.
Ey these reasons he wished to abide, and he trusted the House
would not dissent from him in presuming thatthe motives which
he assigned for whatever might seem peculiar iii his situation,
were not frivolous, but satisfactory.

Februau 20. 1784.

Mr. Powys, after adverting to certain resolutions passed by the House for
the removal of His Majesty's ministers, which, however, His Majesty had
net thought proper to comply with, moved, " That this House, impressed
with the most dutiful sense of His Majesty'spaternal regard for the welfare
of his people, relies on His Majesty's royal wisdom, that he will take such
measures as may tend to give effect to the wishes of his faithful Commons,
which have.already been most humbly represented to His Majesty." To
which was afterwards added, on the suggestion of Mr.Eden, " by removing
any obstacle to forming such an administration as the House has declared
to be requisite in the present critical and arduous situation of affairs."

Mr. PITT rose the moment Mr. Fox sat down, and spoke in substance
as follows :

The right .
honourable gentleman*, Sir, has gone through

vast an expanse of matter, he has embarked the House in so wide
an ocean of politics, that it is impossible for me to follow him
through the whole course of his speech. I beg leave, however,
while both the House and myself are-fresh in the recollection of it,
to press upon them again what the right honourable gentleman


94 MR. PITT'S [Fan. 26.

himself, at the close of his speech, has this day at last been driven
to confess, though I had long laboured; and, as I began to fear,
had laboured in vain, to convince him of it ; namely, that if the

right honourable gentleman and the noble lord in the blue ribbon
should regain their situation, should expel all His Majesty's pre-
sent ministers, and resume their old measures, their restoration
would not ensure the restoration of peace, of happiness, and of
content to this distracted country. The right honourable gentle-
man now confesses it; and yet, Sir, he ought also to confess, and
to know and feel, that his present measures do most directly tend
to the reestablishment of that coalition, to the certain exclusion
of HisMajesty's present ministers, and to that very calamity which
he himself now begins to dread, and with the dread of which, I had
so strenuously endeavoured to inspire the House. Procrastination
is now become his plan. I wish not to be understood as calling
out for violent measures : but this I will say, that merely to tem-
porise is no man's duty at the present moment. lf, therefore,
every violence is intended against this administration, let us not
keep the country in suspense; but let us advance like men to the
issue of this contest ; the present question is weak and feeble,
compared with those which have gone before it ; and I dare say,
therefore, every gentleman must expect that it will be without

The right honourable gentleman, Sir; has appeared to-night in

a character perfectly new to him, but which he has supported (as,
indeed, he supports every one of his characters) with wonderful
dexterity ; he is to-night the champion of the majority of this
House against the voice of the people. Imposture was the word

used by his learned friend ; the right honourable gentleman im-
proves upon the idea, and tells you that imposture was a word
used merely by way of civility; it is by way of complimenting the
people of England, that the right honourable gentleman says their
opinions are founded in imposture; and then, by way of libelling
these addresses, and of libelling this reign, be recals to your mind
the addresses offered in the infamous reign of King Charles the_
Second, affecting to furnish the House with a case somewhat in.


point, and warning them not to trust at . all to the most unanimous
addresses of the people of England, by summarily mentioning those
which were offered to that monarch, requesting the crown to take
'into its hands and protection the several charters of this country.
Sir, I beg these allusions may not pass off unexplained : the
case was this — After many cruel and scandalous decisions in the
courts against chartered companies, in a fit of desperation, the
several corporations offered their charters to the crown, as the
only protection against this tyranny : and shall I hear this cited
by way of libelling addresses of the people at this time ?
believe, in truth, Sir, the right honourable gentleman is surprised
and exasperated at the manly spirit of the people in these times,
who will not wait till their .

charters are pro.stituted to the pur-
poses of ministers, and then seek relief by yielding them to the
crown ; but who boldly resist the -violation in the first instance,
and who are as hardy in their resistance, as the right honourable
gentleman has been in his attack.a.

But, says the right honourable gentleman, how should the
people understand the India bill ? Do they know all the abuser
in India ? True, Sir, the people may not have read all your volu-
minous reports, neither, perhaps, have one half of the members.
of this House read them : but, Sir, they know that no abuses in
India that the very loss of India that the annihilation of
India, could not compensate for the ruin of this constitution.
The plain sense of this country could see that objection to


India bill, which I could never persuade the right honourable
gentleman to advert to : they could see, that it raised up a new
power in this constitution, that it stripped at once the crown of
its prerogative, and the people of their chartered rights, and
that it created that right honourable gentleman to be the dic-
tator of his King and his country.

But, Sir, the right honourable gentleman ventures still to deny
that the addresses have sufficiently marked what is the opinion of
the people; and then he talks of battles at Reading, of battles at
Hackney, andbattles atWestminster• At Reading, Sir, I under-
stand, there was no battle ; the county addressed


against the opinion and in the face of its members, although the
honourable member * assures you how he exerted his oratory to
deprecate the address. As for Hackney, I behold over against me
a most valiant chieftain t who is just returned from that field of
Mars, whose brow, indeed, is not, as before, adorned with the
smile of victory, but from whose mouth I doubt not we shall hear
a faithful, although, alas ! Sir, a most lamentable history of that
unfortunate flight and defeat. Whether at Westminster it is suf-
ficient proof of victory to say, " The people would not even hear
met" whether that right honourable gentleman, who once could
charm the multitude into dumb admiration of his eloquence, and
into silent gratitude for his exertions in the cause of freedom, and
of his country; whether he, the champion of the people, once em-
phatically named " the man of the people," is now content with
the execrations of.those multittides, who once, perhaps, too much
adored him ; N.;Nether, in short, Sir, the sonorous voice of my
noble friend was a host itself, or whether it might not have be-
come a host by being joined to the voices of the host around him ;
all these are points I will net decide : but sure I am, that the
right honourable gentleman will not persuade me that the voice
of the people is with him, if Westminster is his only example.
There is one thing the right honourable gentleman proyes merely
by strong affirmations, to which, therefore, I can only oppose affir-
mations as strong on my part : he says his -late majorities have
been composed of men the most independent in their principles,
respectable in their situations, and honourable for their connec-
tions ; I can only affirm as roundly in answer, that the minority is
by no means inferior to them, in point either of principles, of re-
spectability, or of independence. Having thus disposed of the pec-
pie, and of the minority in the House of Commons, large as it cer-
tainly is, the righthonourable gentleman proceeds next to dispose
of the majority in the House of Lords, and -he denies that they-were
respectable., Sir, if the right honourable gentleman will trouble
himself with this kind of calculation, I am not afraid to match the

'-x• Major Hartley. t Mr. By: g.

-majority there against the minority, either on the score of inde-
pendence, of property, of long hereditary honours, of knowledge
of the law and the constitution, or on the score of any thing that
can give respect and dignity to peerage. And, Mr. Speaker, when
I look near me, [looking at Mr. Pratt] when I see near whom I am
now standing, I am not afraid to place in the front of that battle,
(for at-that battle the noble peer whom I allude to was not afraid
to buckle on his old armour, and march forth, as if inspired with
his youthful vigour, to the charge) I say, Sir, I am not afraid to
place foremost at the head and in the very front of that battle,
that noble and illustrious peer (Lord Camden) venerable as he
is for his years, venerable for his abilities, adored and venerated
through this country on account of his attachment to this glorious
constitution, high in rank and honour, and possessing, as he does,
in these tumultuous times, an equanimity and dignity of mind
that render him infinitely superior to that wretched party spirit,
with which the world may fancy us to be infected.

But, Sir, I am carried away too far ; my warm admiration of
the subject has hurried me into expressions, perhaps, notperfectly
becoming the strictness of this debate. The point which I should
particularly speak to, and the great subject of contention between
us, is, whether I shall resign, in order, afterwards to return into
office; and the example of the noble lord. in the blue ribbon is
held out for my imitation : for he, it is said, is willing to sacrifice
his personal pretensions for the sake of unanimity. Good God !
Mr. Speaker, can any thing that I have said, subject me to be
branded with the imputation of preferring my personal situation,
to the public happiness? Sir, I have declared again anti again,
only prove to me that there is any reasonable hope, show me but
the most distant prospect, that my resignation will at all contri-
bute to restore peace and happiness to the country, and I will in,
stantly resign. But, Sir, I declare at the same time, I will not be
nduced to resign as a preliminary to negotiation. I will not aban-

don this situation, in order to throw myself upon the mercy of that
right honourable gentleman. He calls me now a mere nominal
minister, the mere puppet of secret influence. Sir, it is because

VOL. 1.

MR. PITT'S [Fns. 20.

I will not •become a mere nominal minister of his creation—it is
because I disdain to become the puppet of that right honourable
gentleman, that I will not resign ; neither shall his contemptuous
expressions provoke me to resignatio n

: my own honour and re,

putation I never will resign. That I am now standing on the
rotten ground of secret influence, I

will not allow; nor yet will I

quit this ground, in order to put myself, as the right honourable
gentleman calls it, under his protection, in order to accept of my
nomination at his hands, and in order to become a poor self-
condemned, h31pless, Unprofitable minister in his train — a
minister, perhaps some way serviceable to that right honour-
able gentleman, but totally unserviceable to my king and to my
country. If I have, indeed, submitted to become the puppet and
minion of the crown, why should that right honourable gentleman
condescend to receive me into his band? It seems, however, that
1 have too much of the personal confidence of my sovereign, and
that I must resign, in order to return into administration, having
only an equal share of it with others. But the right honourable
gentleman knows that my appointment would, in that case, be
only as a " piece of parchment." Admit that I have more than
my share of the king's confidence, yet how is my being out of
office two days to make any diminution of that confidence? The
right honourable gentleman, therefore, every moment, con-
tradicts his own principles, and he knows that if I were first to
resign, in the forlorn hope of returning as an efficient minister
into administration, I should become the mere sport and ridi-
cule of my opponents ; nay and forfeit also the good opinion of
those, by whose independent support I am now honoured; for

when I
shall have sacrificed my reputation for that support

which I am told shall arise to me from that right honourable
gentleman's protection, when I shall have bartered my honour
for his great connections, what shall I become but the slave of
his connections ? The sport and tool of a party ? for a while, •
perhaps, the minister appointed by that party, but no longer
useful to my country, or myself independent.

The right honourable gentlema n
tells you, Sir, that he means


not to stop the supplies again to night, but that he shall only
postpone them occasionally. He has stopped them once, be-
cause the King did not listen to the voice of his Commons, he now
ceases to stop them though the same cause does not cease to
exist. Now, Sir, what is all this, but a Mere useless bravado ? a
bravado calculated to alarm the country, but totally ineffectual
for the object for which it was intended. I grant, indeed, with
him, that if all the money, destined

to pay the public creditors

is voted, one great part of the mischief is avoided. But, Sir,.
let not this House think it a small thing to stop the money for

- all public services; let us not think that, while, such prodigious
sums of money flow into the public coffers, without being suf-
fered to flow out again, the circulation of wealth in the country
will not be stopped, nor the public credit affected. It has been
said indeed, " how is it possible that parliament should trust
public money in the hands of those, in whom they have ex-
pressly declared they cannot confide ?" Is there any thing then
in. my character so flagitious; sin I, the chief minister of the
treasury, so suspected of alienating the public;

money to my
own, or to any sinister purposes, that I am not to be trusted
with the.Ordinary issues ? [a cry of " No! No !"] Why, then;
Sir, if they renounce the imputation, let them renounce the

By what I am now going to say, perhaps I may subject myself
to the invidious imputation of being the minister and friend of
prerogative ; but, Sir, notwithstanding those terms of obloquy
with which I am assailed, I will not shrink from avowing myself
the friend of the king's just prerogative. Prerogative, Sir, has
been justly called a part of the rights of the people, and sure I am
it is a part of their rights, which the people were never more dis-
posed to defend, of which they never were more jealous than at
this hour. Grant only this, that this House has a negative in theappointment of ministers, and you transplant the executive power
into this House. Sir, I shall call upon gentlemen to speak. out ;
let them not come to resolution after resolution, without stating
the g

rounds on which they act; for there is nothing more dangerous
II 2

among mixed powers, than that one branch of the legislature
should attack another by means of hints and auxiliary argu-.
ments, urged only in debate, without daring to avow the direct
grounds on which they go ; and without stating in plain terms.
on the face of their resolutions, what are their motives, and what
are their principles which lead them to come to such resolu-
tions. Above all, Sir, let this House beware ,

of suffering any

individual to involve his own cause, and to interwea v
e his own

interests in the resolutions of the House of Common
s. The

dignity of the House is for ever appealed to : let us beware that
it is not the dignity of any set of men : let us beware that per-
sonal prejudices have no share in deciding these great constitu-
tional questions. The right honourable gentleman is possessed
of those enchanting arts whereby he can give grace to deformity;
he holds before your eyes a beautiful and delusive image ; he
pushes it forward to your observation ; but as sure as you em-
brace it, the pleasing vision will vanish, and this fair phantom of
liberty will be succeeded by anarchy, confusion, and ruin to the
constitution. For in truth, Sir, if the constitutional


dence of the crown is thus reduced to the very verge of annihi.
cation, where is the boasted equipoise of the constitution? Where
is that balance among the three branches of the legislature which
our ancestors have measured out to each with so much prec


sion? Where is the independen ce
— nay, where is even t

safety of any one prerogative of the crown, or even of the
crown itself, it' its prerogative of naming ministers is to be
usurped by this House, or if, (which is precisely the same thing)
its nomination

of them is to be negatived by us without stating
any one ground of distrust in the men, and without suffering our-
selves to have any experience of their measures ? Dreadful
therefore, as the conflict is, my conscience, my duty, my fixed
regard for the constitution of our ancestors, maintain me still in
this arduous situation. It is not any proud contempt, or de-
fiance of the constitutional resolutions of this House ; it is
co personal point of honour ; much less is it any - lust of
power that makes me still cling to office ; the situation of the


times requires of me, and I will add, the country calls aloud to
rse that I should defend this castle; and I am determined, there-
fore, I WILL defend it.

The question was carried,

Ayes 197
Noes 177

An Address to the King in the words of the resolution was then
moved by Mr. Fox, and, after a second division, was carried, and or-
dered to be presented to the Throne by the whole House.


March 1. 1784,
Tin order of the day,beine read for 'taking into consideration His

Majesty's answer* to the Address of the House for the removal of
ministers, Mr. Fox, alter expressing his dissatisfaction at the language
that had been used from the Throne, concluded with moving,

" That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, most humbly
to represent to His Majesty the satisfaction his faithful Commons derive
from the late most gracious assurances they have received, that His Ma-
jesty concurs with them in opinion, that it concerns the honour of his
crown and the welfare of' his people, that the public affairs should be eon-

. ducted by a firm, efficient, extended, united administration,entitled to the
confidence of his people, and such as may nave a tendency to put an end
to the unhappy divisions and distractions of this country. To acknow-
ledge His Majesty's paternal goodness, in his late most gracious endea-
vours to give effect to the object of our late dutiful representation to His

:, His Majesty in his answer, after assuring the House of his earnest
desire to put an end to the divisions and distractions of the country,
proceeds thus: —


" I shall he always desirous of taking.
every step most oonducive to

such an object : but I cannot see that it would in any degree be advanced
by the dismission of those at present in my service.

" I observe, at the same time, that there is no charge or complaint sug-
gested against my present ministers, nor is any one or more of them spe-
cifically objected to ; and numbers of my subjects have expressed to me
in the warmest manner their satisfaction at the late changes I have made
in my councils. Under these circumstances, I trust my faithful Com-
mons will not wish that the essential offices of executive government
shall be vacated, until I see a prospect that such a plan of union as I
have called for, and they pointed out, may be carried !into effect."

x 3

MIL PITT'S - [Fca. 20.

102 MR. PITT'S [MARCH 1.

Majesty. To )ament that the failure of these His Majesty's most gracious
endeavours should be considered as a final bar to the accomplishment of
so salutary and desirable a purpose; and to express our concern and dis-
appointment, that His Majesty has not been advised to take any further
step towards uniting in the public service those whose joint eftbrts have
recently appeared to His Majesty most capable of producing so happy an
effect. That this House, with all humility, claims it as its 'right, and on
every proper occasion feels it to be their bounden duty, to advise His
Majesty touching the exercise of any branch of his royal prerogative.
That we submit it to His Majesty's royal consideration, that the conti,
nuance of an administration, which does not possess the confidence of the
representatives of the people, must be injurious to the public service.
That this House can have no interest distinct and separate from that of
their constituents, and that they therefore feel themselves called upon to
repeat those loyal and dutiful assurances they have already expressed of
their reliance on His Majesty's paternal regard for the welfare of his
people, that His Majesty would graciously enable them to execute those
important trusts which the constitution has vested in them, with honour
to themselves and advantage to the public, by the confirmation of a new
administration appointed under circumstances which may tend to conci-
liate the minds of his faithful Commons, and give energy and stability to
His Majesty's councils. That as His Majesty's faithful Commons, upon-
the maturest deliberations, cannot but consider the continuance of the
present ministers as an unwarrantable obstacle to His Majesty's most
gracious purpose, to comply with their wishes in the formation of such
an administration as His Majesty, in concurrence with the unanimous
resolutions of this House, seems to think requisite in the present exi-
gencies of the country, they feel themselves bound to remain firm in the
wish expressed to His Majesty in their late humble address, and do there-
fore find themselves obliged again to beseech His Majesty, that he
would be graciously pleased . to lay the foundation of a strong and stable
government, by the previous removal of his present ministers."

Mr. PITT declared that he wished to avoid, as much as pos-
sible, all those repetitions of argument which had become so
frequent, and had mingled themselves of late so much in the
progress of debate. He wished to confine himself to what he
considered the point in question, and to deliver his sentiments
on this subject with as much conciseness as lay in his power,
that those who speak might not be deprived of an opportunity of
giving their opinions, arid that those who hear might not be
tired by a fatiguing and disagreeable reiteration of beaten themes.


and of hacknied arguments. It had been insinuated by an ho-
nourable member and some others, that he was averse to
union. He could by no means admit this assertion — Had he
not on many occasions given the strongest evidence of his pre-
dilection for the principle ? Had he not expressed these attach-
ments repeatedly in the course of his speaking on the subject ?
It was his wish to erect a strong government. It was his desire
to contribute all in his power to the formation and support of
so desirable a system. He was therefore ready to express his
sentiments of reprobation against those who opposed union,
as he considered this measure as necessarily connected with the
interests and the happiness of the public. But whilst he emitted
these strong and decided sentiments in favour of union, he by
no means thought that this desirable object would be brought
nearer by the address under consideration, nor could at all be
forwarded by the resignation of ministers. On this point he
had already given his sentiments. Those sentiments he had
seen no reason to alter.

He was equally struck at another assertion of the honourable
general — It had been affirmed that the words of one side of the
house aimed at the annihilation of its privileges. Good God !
how could such ideas be formed or entertained ? Had he in any
part of his conduct, or of his past procedure, manifested any
peculiar predilection in favour of monarchy, or of the undue in-
fluence of the crown ? Had he, during the progress of his par-
liamentary conduct, wished to encroach on, or to destroy,
the privileges of parliament ? The constitution and the rights of
the House of Commons he had always been taught to venerate.
He would therefore appeal to the candour of the House, to its
recollection of his expressions on this subject, whether he had
not, on all occasions, and under every description of circum-
stances, maintained its privileges and its dignity ? His opinions,
his partialities, and his views, favoured those ideas ; and he must
have been deluded to have acted in opposition to them.

4 General Conway.
11 4.

10 It. PITT'S [MA itOtx
But whilst he expressed his warmest sentiments for the honour

and the dignity of the House of Commons, he felt himself under
an obligation at the same time, to vindicate the doctrines of the
honourable baronet* behind him, so far as they respected the
rights of the other branches of the legislature, so far as they re-
garded the just and constitutional prerogatives of the sovereign.
These the constitution had defined with as much accuracy as it
had done those of the House of Commons: and it was surely the
duty of ministers, and of members of that House, equally to
support the rights of both. No man was more zealous, or more
unreserved, in admitting and asserting the right of the House to
advise the sovereign in the exercise of all his prerogatives than he
was. This had always been a sentiment which he had avowed ;
but that a declaration on the part of the House of their disappro-
bation of His Majesty's ministers, should, ipso facto, in any
given instance, bind and compel the sovereign to dismiss those
ministers, or oblige them to resign, was a point which he never
had admitted, and would never allow. Such a sentiment of dis-
approbation surely placed ministers in aukward and unpleasant
situations ; but that it should force them to retire, he would
-maintain, was an unconstitutional doctrine, hostile to the pre-
rogative of the crown, and to that balance of power, on which
the excellency of our government depended. This was a point,
therefore, which he was always ready to maintain, and from sup-
porting which he hoped he would never be precluded by any
false theories, or vague declamation, respecting the dignity of
the House.

He alluded to the idea of a faction existing in the House,
stated by his honourable friend is, and which he had asserted to
be dangerous to the balance of the constitution. How far this
was true, how flar the conduct of the House of Commons during
its late procedure justified this doctrine, and how far the address
under consideration confirmed its truth, ought to be weighed,
and ought to produce corresponding effects oit the minds and

Sir William Dolben. 'I- Mr. Wilberforce.


votes of the members of the House. In deliberating, however.
on this point, he would caution gentlemen not to be overawed
by false alarms of an encroaching prerogative, by false fears of
an extended monarchy, or to be decided by the ring and sound
of dignity, so incessantly poured into the ear of the House on
the present and past occasion. But though he was thus the op-
ponent of all capricious decision on the appointment of ministers,
he was as unfriendly to their continuance in office when disap-
proved of by the House of Commons on proper grounds, as 13-,-
either branch of the legislature. On this account he called on
the House to specify charges against administration, to prove
those charges, and not capriciously to condemn an administration
which had never as yet been found guilty, and had in fact, by
an unaccountable obstinacy and untowardness of circumstances,
been deprived of an opportunity of displaying its prudence and
its zeal in the service of the public. When these accusations
were proved, when these charges were substantiated, it would
then be proper for ministers to resign ; and if in such a case he
should afterwards continue in office, be would suffer himself to
be stigmatized as the champion of prerogative, and the uncon-
stitutional supporter of the usurpations of the crown. But till
this period arrived, he should reckon it his duty to adhere to the
principles of the constitution; as delivered to us by our ances-
tors; to defend them against innovation and encroachment, and
to maintain them with firmness.

Attempts have been made, said Mr. Pitt, to fix imputations
of criminality on the present administration. Their sins have
been stated : and one of the most glaring of them is, that the
late ministry were dismissed against the sense of the House. But
what is the meaning of this charge ? To what conclusion does
the argument, when followed up, lead ? Does it not fairly ad-
mit of this comment, that it is improper for His Majesty to dis-
miss his ministers, provided they are approved of by the House

- of Commons ; and that so long as they act agreeably to its sen-
timent, so long, and no longer are they to enjoy the patronage
of the crown, and retain the

• offices of administration? Is this a


decent treatment of the prerogative ? Is this constitutional doc-
trine? Is it not degrading the dignity of the sovereign? Is it not
a transference' of the prerogatives of the crown to the House of
Commons, and a placing the royal sceptre under the mace that
lies upon the table ? The constitution of this country is its glory.

s But- in what a nice adjustment does its excellence consist!
Equally free from the distractions of democracy, and the tyranny
of monarchy, its happiness is to be found in its mixture of-
parts. It was this mixed government which the prudence of our
ancestors devised, and which it will be our wisdom inviolably to
support. They experienced all the vicissitudes and distractions
of a republic. They felt all the vassalage and despotism of a
simple monarchy. They abandoned both, and by blending each
together, extracted a system which has been the envy and ad-
miration of the world. It is this scheme of government which
constitutes the pride of Englishmen, and which they can never
relinquish but with their lives. This system, however, it is the
intention of the present address to defeat and destroy. It is the
intention of this address to arrogate a power which does not be-
long to the House of Commons — to place a negative on the ex-
ercise of the prerogative, and to destroy the balance of power
in the government as it was settled at the revolution.

It has been remarked by an honourable member *, that no
period of our history affords an example of ministers existing
after an address, disapproving of them, from the House of Com-
mons. But to obviate this observation, it may be proper to ask,
whether the history of this country affords any instance in which
a ministry have been called on to retire from office without a
cause ? This is a remark which merits attention, and to which
it May not be improper to direct the notice of the honourable
gentleman at the present moment. On what grounds of plausi-
bility, under what pretexts then are the supplies for the service
of the public to be refused? Is it on account of the arbitrary
decision of the House ? Have they no confidence in the conduct
of administration? I will even venture to ask the honourable

Mr. Fox.

gentleman whether he believes that these supplies, if granted,
would be .misapplied ?

Mr. Pitt declared, the sentiments of the public were flatter-
ing to ministry, and the addresses which had been presented to
the throne were unequivocally in favour of that administration
of which the house had disapproved. He expressed his disap-
probation of the explicitness of the present address ; he hoped
gentlemen would now speak out, and that they would bring
their charges against ministers. He flattered himself that the
honourable gentleman's manliness and candour would lead him
to this, and that he would not any longer tear in pieces the cha-
racter of ministers by distant but dark invective, or unsupported
allegation. He cautioned the house against entertaining an idea
that the present motion was calculated to promote union — it
seemed rather intended to divide and drive parties at greater
distance from each other. He insisted that an union, if estab-
lished at all, must exist and be formed on honourable principles
--without this, all coalition was a farce, and could never be
permanent. Union formed on different motives could never be
of long continuance—they carried in them their very principles
of division, " They hold the word of promise to the ear, and
break it to the sense." He concluded with apologizing to the
house for delaying them so long : thus much, however, he
thought it necessary to say in support of the balance of the
constitution, the prerogatives of the King, and the privileges of

The question for the address was carried,


189 *

* On the 24th of March the parliament was prorogued, and the fol-
lowing day dissolved by proclamation.

The new parliament met on the 18th May, when Mr. Pitt took his
seat as member for the University of Cambridge.

108 MR. PITT'S [Jus-E 8.

June 8. 1784.

Dm order of the day being read for the further consideration of the
Westminster election, Mr. Welbore Ellis submitted to the House the
following resolution: " That, Thomas Corbett, Esq. bailiff of the city of
Westminster, having received a precept from the sheriff of Middlesex
for electing two citizens to serve in parliament for the said city,-and
baying taken and finally closed the poll on the 17th day of May last,
being the day next before the day of the return of the said writ, he be
now directed forthwith to make return of his precept, and of members
chosen in pursuance thereof."

After Mr. Fox had delivered his sentiments at great length upon the
question, Mr. PITT spoke to the following effect:

StR,—If the right honourable gentleman's 4* reason for being
so desirous of securing to himself the last hearing in this debate,
has been in order that his mad and violent assertions might pass
without opportunity of being contradicted, I must acknowledge,
indeed, the prudence and policy of his conduct in endeavouring
to prevent a reply ; but I must rejoice, however, when charges
are brought against administration, as gross as they are un-
founded, that I have the opportunity of rising to refute the
charge, to contradict the assertions, to defy that right honour-
able gentleman to proof, and to assert with equal hardiness, and
I trust, with more than equal truth, that, in no respect, has
administration exercised any undue influence — in no respect
have they been so profligate as to furnish those means which
have been hinted at — in no instances have they suborned wit-
nesses to swear away men's lives — in no respect whatever have
they been accessary to those violences, murders, perjuries, and
that black catalogue of offences which the right honourable
gentleman calls up, by way of auxiliary matter, to embellish
his speech, and to assist the House in the decision of that grave,
dry, constitutional question, which is all that we have this night
to determine. Sir, if the right honourable gentleman has his
charge to bring forward, the courts of this country are open to
him ; I hope, and trust, administration is not so strong as to

Mr. Fox.



be able to resist any just accusation that he can bring against
them. I hope, on the other hand, administration is not so weak
as to give way and yield to vehement assertions, utterly unsup-
ported, and evidently malicious I hope opposition is not so
strong ; I hope there is no faction in this country so strong, so
bold, so mad with desperation and disappointment, as to throw
out great and criminal charges against administration, without .
having either the intention, or the means, or the shadow of any
means, to support the accusations which they venture so roundly
to make.

I am not surprised, indeed, if the right honourable gentleman
should attempt to represent himself as the marked object of rot-'
nisterial persecution. With respect, Sir, to the cruel hardship
he has just complained of, namely, that he has not been allowed
to have the last word in the debate, I would only beg leave to
remind both him and the House, that so far from having, from
his present situation, an indisputable right to the last word, it
is contrary, I believe, to a standing order of your House, that he
is allowed to speak at all, or even to be present in the House ;
for one of your standing orders says, " That if any thing shall
" come in question touching the return or election of any mem-
" ber, he is to withdraw during the time the matter is in debate."
Such, then, is the cruel persecution carrying on against the right
honourable gentleman, that, instead of being forced to be silent,
and to withdraw, he is allowed to speak often ten times a day on
the same question ; sometimes, Sir, for three hours at a time,
filling his speech with every thing that is personal, inflammatory,
and invidious. I say, nevertheless, I am not surprised, if he
should pretend to be the butt of ministerial persecution, — and
if, by striving to excite the public compassion, he should seek to
re-instate himself in that popularity which he once .enjoyed, but
which he so unhappily has forfeited. For it is the best and most
ordinary resource of these political apostates, to court, and to
offer themselves to persecution for the sake of the popular pre-
dilection and pity which usually fall upon peraecuted men ; it ,
becomes worth their while to star, fora time, political mar!

110 MR. PITT'S

[JuNE 8.
tyrdom, for the sake of the canonization that awaits the suffer-•
lug martyr ; and I make no doubt, the right honourable gentle-
man has so much penetration, and, at the same time, so much
passive virtue about him, that he would be glad not only to seem
a poor, injured, persecuted man, but that he would gladly seek
an opportunity of even really suffering a little persecution, if it
be possible to find such opportunity.

Upon the same ground, Sir, it would unquestionably be my
interest, and no less, I am sure, my wish, to abstain from every
thing that has even the appearance, much more that is in reality
any thing like persecution ; but yet, when great constitutional
questions are involved, *it then becomes a minister to forego
every other consideration : and so . far, perhaps, to gratify his
adversary, as to furnish him with the pretence of being the
object of ministerial persecution, stedfastly determining, at all
hazards, and contrary, perhaps, to • his own convenience, to
maintain the true spirit of the constitution.

I wish to meet the right honourable gentleman on the two
grounds which he has laid down, and to decide upon the issue of
them—first, the propriety and expediency of granting a scrutiny;
and, secondly, the legality of it under -all the circumstances of
the case. And here, Sir, let me first touch a little on the hard-
ship which the right honourable gentleman is sard to labour un-
der. Now I do insist, that if, his single object is (as he says it
is) to bring the dispute to .the decision of Mr. Grenville's com-
mittee, a scrutiny will not delay that decision one moment; nay,
it will even forward it : for, suppose the return, according to
the motion before the House, to be made immediately, still the
petition before Mr. Grenville's committee could not be gone
through this yeaii it must therefore begin again, de novo, the.
next, and the latter end of next session would arrive before the '•
question could be decided. On the other hand, let a scrutiny
be now instituted, preparatory to the petition, it will be finish-
ed, in all human probability, before the beginning of the next
session ; and the petitioner, whoever he may be, will come pre-
pared, having his business cut short by this means, so that the



petition must be finally decided in the early part of the next
session ; or perhaps the consequence of a scrutiny may be, that •
there shall come no petition at all.

But the right honourable gentleman wishes even that there
might be anew writ, and a new election, rather than a scrutiny;
now, let us see how this would expedite the business? Why, Sir,
if a new writ were issued while the parliament is sitting, as this
would be, all sides are agreed, that the bailiff would have a per-
fect right to prosecute a scrutiny whenever the poll is over ; it
being universally allowed, that scrutinies are lawful in the case
of elections during the sitting of parliament. If you grant,
therefore, the right honourable gentleman this curious wish of
his, the consequence will simply be, that after another forty days
poll, forty days riot, and forty days confusion, he will find him-
self just where he is at this moment, except, indeed, that he will
then be constrained to own (from the precedent of Vandeput
and Trentham, which will become precisely in point) that the
high bailiff, if he pleases, will then have an undoubted right to
go on with the scrutiny.

Now, to say the truth, the arguments of the right honourable
gentleman, if they prove any thing, must necessarily prove what
I have just stated ; namely, that there must be a new writ : for
he tells you, that, after the 18th of May, the bailiff became

'undue nfficio ; that all the virtue of his writ expired, and that
the high bailiff, after that day, was no longer in this respect, high
bailiff, but was turned into a private person, and had no more
right to institute a scrutiny than any one of us: and yet, Sir, by
the resolution before you, this bailiff is ordered to do an act
which no bailiff; fanatics officio, can possibly do ; namely, to re-
turn the writ. The hand you order to sign the writ is a dead
man's hand. Why surely, Sir, if the bailiff; ever since the 18th
of May, has been like one of ourselves, you may as well order
one of us to make the return as order the high bailiff to do it.
So far, therefore, as the hardship of the case is considered, it is
clear, that, to let the scrutiny proceed is a mitigation of trouble
and expence; since a new writ is the consequence of the honour

able gentleman's argument, and a new writ, as I said before,
would, forty days hence, exactly bring us to that point where
we are now arrived.

I must beg the House, then, to consider coolly and distinctly
what the motion before you tends to it does not, indeed, com-
mand the high bailiff to return Lord Hood and Mr. Fox, as the
honourable gentleman first intended, and as his petition prayed;
that is now found out to be too monstrous, for that would be no
less than to make this House the electors of its own members,
usurping at once the office of returning officer, and the right of
electing the representatives of the people. That ground, I say;
Sir, is shifted; and to what does the resolution now no ? It
orders the high bailiff to return two members ; it orders this
deceased returning officer to come back again to life, in order to
lnake a return of the writ ; this officer, I say, Sir, whose exist-
ence irrevocably ceased on the 18th-of May ; for, on the single
argument of his perfect nonentity since that day, rests the whole
of that conclusion which is so contended for, that he is not in
the capacity to prosecute the scrutiny. Now, Sir, the resolution
also orders the high bailiff to return those two candidates, who
have, in his judgment, the majority of legal votes ; though the
bailiff told you yesterday, he could form no judgment who had
the legal majority, and though he explained, by substantial evi-
dence, for what reasons it was, impossible to form such judgment.
Sir, I will not weary the House with entering into all the detail
of evidence ; but I ask any man of honour, of candour, and of

.plain sense, whether the high bailiff of Westminster had not suf-
ficient reason to wish for a scrutiny, in order to satisfy his own
judgment and conscience, provided a scrutiny could be legally
prosecuted, under all the circumstances of the case? The lega-
lity of it is what I shall certainly have to prove.—His evidence,
in three words, was this ; that there have polled at this election
above 4000 more men than there are legal votes in Westminster,
upon any calculation that can be formed; that there have some-
times been i800 suffered to poll in a day, under the idea that
the votes were to be revised at a crutiny ; that he has received

information of' many hundred bad votes for Mr. Fox in two par-
ticular parishes ; that he has had intelligence sufficient, certainly,
to warrant a suspicion that bad practices had been used for the ,
purpose of procuring a number of illegal votes; and that he was
terrified, by violent threats, into an admission of many votes
extremely doubtful, which, however, he set down at the mo-
ment, with the determination to enquire into them afterwards ;
upon these grounds, let any man deny, if he can, the expediency
and propriety of a.

scrutiny, provided it be lawful. We are
told, indeed, of Mr. Grenville's committee, and that it is there
alone an effectual scrutiny can be had ; but, Sir, the high bailiff
is not to take Mr. Grenville's bill into his consideration ; he is
sworn to return those who have the majority of legal Votes ac-
cbrding to his judgment ; and he is bound, therefore, to do
every thing that is legal, in order sufficiently to inform his judg-
ment : besides, give me leave to say, the possession even of the
seat ought not to depend on the very-loose discretion of the
returning officer. The law and the constitution consider it to
be a matter of some moment, who shall be put to the trouble
of petitioning, and it is expected of the returning officer, that
he should give the intermediate possession of the seat to those
candidates alone, who have pretty strong prima facie evidence
of their right.

Now, Sir, with respect to the legality of the scrutiny, under
all the present circumstances, which appears to me the hinge
on -which every thing is now to turn, I am certainly forced to
acknowledge, that there exists no precedent precisely in point,
though the case of Vandeput and Trentham, in this same city of
Westminster, appears to me nearly in point as to the meaning
and spirit of it ; but there is certainly this accidental difference,
that that was an election during the existence of parliament, the
present is an election following a dissolution. What I mean,
however, to prove, and what I say must be proved (unless we
issue a new writ) is this ; that the high bailiff was not so com-
pletelyfunctus officio on the 18th of May, but that sufficient ex-
planation having been given, why the bailiff could not return the

VOL. 1,

I12, MR. Pars


MR. PITT'S portr 8.

writ on the day when it was returnable, the law and the , consti-
tution do allow, that this House should leave the returning officer
to prosecute and complete the election which lie has begun,
without issuing a new writ.

The case of Coventry has been quoted, in order to prove the
returning officerfundus qfficio ; but I deny that that is a case in
point. There, the election was interrupted by riots, the poll
books destroyed, mid the returning officer therefore made (as in
the present case) a special return, certifying to the House the
reasons why he could not return two members ; whereupon the
House issued a new writ. But, Sir, between that case and. the
present, there is a striking difference. Here the bailiff reports
to us, that the election is begun, but is not yet complete for
certain reasons. In-the case of Coventry, the returning officer
certified, that the whole election had been defeated ; not that he
had not had time to decide whom he should return, bur that he
had all to begin again, which rendered a new writ most un-
doubtedly proper. The act of parliament on which gentlemen
lay their great stress, and which the bailiff is said to have
broken, is, as I understand, the 10th and 11th of King William ;
an act, as I must insist, applicable only to sheriffs, who were
grown at that time extremely negligent in forwarding their writs,
which are the aggregate of the precepts they had received in
their respective districts from the several bailiffs. It applies to
sheriffs, merely as executive, not as judicial officers; enjoining
them to make up with diligence the precepts they had received,
and to send them to the crown office within a limited time, under
the penalty of 5001.; a moiety of which is payable to the person
suing for it. Now, Sir, as the right honourable gentlemen has
confessed, upon better information, that he should stand no
chance of recovering the penalty on a popular action, since he
has declined this species of revenge upon the bailiff, which he at
first threatened, he has saved me the trouble of contesting that
question ; and it is indisputably clear, that the present case can
by no means come under that act. That act relates, I say, to
the executive conduct of the sheriff; the present question re,


spects the judicial conduct of the bailiff, who, in order to make
up his judgment, has thought proper, under certain extraordi-

circumstances, to institute a scrutiny. I am far from
thinking that a bailiff has any right to protract his election be-
yond the day when the writ is returnable, unless from very par-
ticular circumstances.— That argument, therefore, that bailiffs, at
this rate, may protract the meeting of parliament to what period
they please, must fall entirely to the ground. The House must
judge of his reasons, must hear them, must examine them, and
if they are insufficient, must correct and punish him, if he be
worthy of punishment ; but if proof be given, that, owing to
peculiar circumstances, it was impossible for him to fulfil his
oath, and to judge who had the majority of legal votes, I say,
then the law and the constitution permit, that he should prose-
cute what he has begun without a new writ, and take those
measures which are absolutely necessary to form his judgment.

In order to examine more particularly what is the law of the
case, we can only ask ourselves, how it stands when similar
circumstances occur in the execution of other writs. In the
nature of writs, it is agreed, there is no difference. Let us
examine, then, the analogy of law upon the subject, and I hope,
Sir, I shall not be thought pedantic, if I should allude some-
what technically to a profession which I once had the honour
of belonging to, in order to prove distinctly what is the law
upon this point. A very learned gentleman* near me has
told you that in many instances the court allows an extension
of time, in cases where some proceedings have been had upon
the writ, but where every thing is not perfected by the day
when the writ is returnable. Now, Sir, to bring this point of
law more directly into the cognizance of the House, I will state
a case; A writ is issued to the sheriff (in an action of debt)
called a capias ad satVaciendunt, ordering him to seize the goods
of A, and this is followed by another, called a venditioni C Xj7on as,
and is returnable by 'a certain day; the sheriff, in prosecution of
his writ, seizes the goods, in order to put them lup to sale. But

The Master of the Rolls,

116 MR. PITT'S

we will suppose, that in taking these goods of A, as he is com-
manded by the writ, the sheriff, through mistake s and confusion,

lays hold of some goods of B, which are mixed with them, and
he has not time to separate the goods of A, which are all he
must take, and to put them up to sale before the writ is return-
able. What does the sheriff do in this case ? Why, Sir, he re-
ports the particular circumstances which prevent his returning
the writ to the court, and the court then allows him to go and
examine into the goods, or, in other words, they grant a scrutiny
upon the circumstances laid before them, not issuing any new
writ, but allowing only an extension of the old one. Now, Sir,
let the House alter the word sheriff to bailiff; and for dead
goods read living, and this is the very case before you.

But if this which I have stated be true, if it be law, if it ,be
the fact in the courts below, arguing as I have a right to,argue
upon the analogy of the law in every new case,. I do implore
the House to consider the absolute illegality of our interfering
in the office of bailiff, and directing him either to return Lord
Hood and Mr. Fox, as was once desired of us, or the illegality
even of forcing him to return any two members before those
measures are taken, which it -is absolutely necessary to take,
and which the law therefore enjoins him to take, in order to
snake his return.

Some gentlemen have talked of the peculiar jealousy of our
constituents on matters of election ; but, Sir, theirs has never
been a jealousy lest this House should be supine in watching its -
own privileges. The jealousy of the people has always justly
been, lest this House should assume privileges of electing mem-
bers, or of directing their election, which is not for us to do.
What was the case of the Middlesex election ? Was it not, that

the House of Commons determined, by their own authority, to
impose on the people a representative who was not the object of
their choice ? God forbid that this House should again impose,,,
on the people any man who is not the object of their choice 1;
But elections without doors take their legal course. It is our.
office to punish corrupt or partial returning officers ; it is OUAZ


office to issue new writs ; it is our office ultimately toclecide
election contests: but it is not within the scope of our privileges
to direct the bailiffs whom to return ; nor to order them, as if
they were servants or officers of ours, to make returns in what
manner and at what time we please. The right honourable
gentleman, indeed, might, with some degree of consistency,
propose to the House the assumption of new privileges in mat-
ters Of election ; for, in the case of the Middlesex election, we
know -that he was the champion of this House against the rights
of the people ; and it is singular enough that the only two points
in which the right honourable gentleman and the noble lord for
a series of years agreed, were in their decision of the Middlesex
election, which is now so deservedly execrated, and in their
execration of Mr. Grenville's bill, which is now so deservedly
applauded. •

Sir, it has been hinted to the House, that some new law to
regulate Westminster elections will be proposed ; and the right
honourable gentleman, with a degree of ingenuity that is charac-
teristic, immediately exclaims, that we find it necessary to in-
troduee-a new law, in order to prevent future parliaments from
adopting the bad precedent we have set them. That a new law
is wanted on the subject of elections in Westminster, is surely
what nobody can deny ; but my opinion is, that, until a new law
is-introduced, it is better to decide according to the laws exist-
ing, than to anticipate new laws, or to pass the bounds of our
privileges. I am aware of the difficulties we are all reduced to,
in so unheard-of a case as the present : for this House to order
a bailiff whom to return, is impossible ; neither is it possible
for us to punish a bailiff; or even to forbid him from doing that
which is absolutely necessary, to the forming of a reasonable
judgment, which is not contrary to law, and in which the
analogies of law, when the circumstances are compared, com-
pletely justify him.

Time resolution was negatived,



118 MR. PITT'S [JuLY 6.
Lord Mulgrave's motion was then, upon a second division, carried,

" That the High Bailiff of the city of Westminster do proceed in the
scrutiny for the said city with all practicable dispatch."

July 6. 1784.
Mr. Pm rose to open his new system for the government of India.

No one, he said, could be more deeply impressed than he was
with the importance of the subject on which he was then going •
to enter : in whatever point of view he considered it, he felt that
no subject could .possibly be more interesting. In it were in-
volved the prosperity and strength of this country ; the happi-
ness of the natives of those valuable territories in India, which
belonged to England ; and finally the constitution of England
itself. India had at all times been of great consequence to this
country, from the resources of opulence and strength it afforded;
and that consequence had, of course, increased in proportion to
the losses sustained by the dismemberment of other great posses-
sions; by which losses, the limits of the empire being more con•
tracted, the remaining territories became more valuable. — He
was aware that nothing could he more difficult than to digest a
plan, which should at. once confirm and enlarge the advantages
derived to this country from its connections with India ; to ren-
der that connection a blessing to the native Indians, and at the
same time preserve inviolate the essence and spirit of our own
constitution from. the injuries to which this connection might
eventually expose it. Gentlemen would recollect with a degree
of horror, to what dangers that happy constitution was exposed
last year, when a bill was introduced into parliament, which
would have established a system dangerous to every thing that
Englishmen held dear ; they would recollect, that the liberties
of this country had nearly suffered shipwreck ; the danger, how-
ever, was happily over; and thelegislature had now an opportunity
to consult about the means the most likely to reconcile and se-
cure the interests of the people of this country, of the people of


India, and of the British constitution, as far as it might be
effected by the connection with India. To his lot fell the arduous
task of proposing to the House a plan which should answer all
these great purposes. He was aware that no plan could be de-
vised, to which some objections would not lie ; he was aware
that it was not possible to devise a plan that should be free
from imperfections; he should therefore console himself if he
should be able to suggest the means of doing the most good to
India, and to the East-India company, with the least injury to
our constitution. In the arrangements that he should propose, it
would be impossible to proceed, without giving to some body of
men an accession of power ; but it was his duty to vest it where
he should have reason to think it would be least liable to abuse,
at the same time that it should be sufficient, and not more than
sufficient, for all the purposes for which it should be given ;
sufficient to secure to this country the wealth arising from the
commerce of the company ; to the inhabitants of Hindostan,
peace and tranquillity ; and to enforce obedience on the part of
the servants of the company, to the orders that should be sent
to them from home. In framing such a system, he thought it his
duty never to lose sight of this principle—that though no charter
could or ought to supersede state necessity, still nothing but ab-
solute necessity could justify a departure from charters. He ad-
mitted that charters ought not to stand in the way of the general
good and safety of the country ; he admitted that no charter
ought to be suffered to stand in the way of a reform, on which
the being or welfare of the country depended ; but at the same
time he contended, that a charter ought never to be invaded,
except when the public safety called for its alteration : charters
were sacred.things ; on them depended the property, franchises,
and every thing that was dear to Englishmen ; and wantonly to
invade them, would be to unhjnge the constitution, and throw the
state into anarchy and confusion.

With respect to the India company, its affairs were not in a
state that called for a revocation of the charter ; the necessity
which would justify a revocation did not exist in this case; and


120 MR. PITT'S

he felt no small degree of satisfaction in the assurance, that, at
the 'moment When he had to propose such measures for the go-
vernment of India, and the conduct of the affairs of the East-
India company, as to his judgment appeared most applicable,
there no longer existed any danger of the best and most sacred
rights of Englishmen being made a sacrifice to the ambitious pro-
jects of those, who, under the necessity that actually existed,
had taken the desperate resolution, that nothing short of mea-
sures of the most decisive and extreme nature, and measures far
exceeding the necessity of the case, could be effectual. He thank-
ed God, so great a sacrifice had been escaped ; and he trusted
that the sense plainly and incontrovertibly declared to be enter-
tained upon the subject by the majority of the people of England,
would prove to be the sense of the majority of that House; and
that they would join with him in opinion, that although it must
on all . hands be admitted, that there did exist a great and urgent
necessity for the interference of the legislature with regard to the
East-India company, and the future government of India, yet,
that neither state policy nor common prudence called for the le-
gislature's proceeding beyond the limit of the existing necessity,
Much less of going the length either of destroying the rights of
any individuals or bodies of mcn, established upon the most sa-
cred of all foundations, the express words of solemn charters,
recognized and confirmed by repeated acts of parliament, or of
directly changing the constitution of the country, and departing
from those known principles of government, which the wisdom of
our ancestors had provided, and which had proved for ages the
uninterrupted Source of security to the liberties of Englishmen.
It was, he said, to be acknowledged on all hands, that no rights
of any body of men, however confessed to be rights of the most
sacred sort, could supersede state necessity. To that, and that
alone, they must give way ; but then it ought ever to be a rule
of conduct with those, to whose lot it fell to act under such a
necessity, to take care that they did not exceed it.. Nothing but
such a necessity could warrant any government in proceeding to
do, what must be an unwelcome task for all who had any con-


cern in its execution ; but when they found themselves obliged
to discharge a duty of that irksome nature, they ought to
proceed warily, and with all possible tenderness and regard for
those w ith whose rights they felt themselves obliged to inter-
fere, and to be assured, that, in endeavouring to do all that
their duty required, they did not unnecessarily tear up by the
roots and annihilate those rights that were of essential considera-
tion, and ought not to have been touched, because the exigency
of the case did not actually require it. And though on a former
occasion he had been derided, when he comforted himself with
the idea, that, in every departure he should propose from the
charter, he should have the consent and concurrence of the com-
pany, he still continued to find great consolation in the reflection,
that he did no violence to the company ;s for no violence could be
said to be done by regulations, to every one of which the com-
pany most cheerfully consented.

He did not find it necessary to create any system absolutely
new for the government of our territories in India; he should
rather endeavour to improve on the system by which those terri-
tories were governed at present. The great considerations to be
looked to in the regulation of the government of India were
threefold—the commerce of this country with that, and conse-
quently the resources we derived from it; the interests of the in-
habitants there; and the connection that the management of both
had with our own constitution. Great inconvenience must, un-
der the best possible devised form of government, necessarily
arise from the circumstance of . any country deriving a considerable
part of her resources from a dependency at so great a distance;
and this must also add to the extreme difficulty of govern-
ing India from home, because that distance must necessarily
prevent the government at home, and those who filled the exe-
cutive offices in India, from acting with equal views. For this
reason he must repeat what he had before taken the liberty to
state, when the subject had been under the consideration of the
last parliament, that as no plan of government for India that hu-
man wisdom could suggest, was capable of perfection, so he wat;


far from presuming to think, that the plan he should propose
would,not occasion much difference of opinion, and be liable to
a variety of objections. He could only with great humility sub-
mit that plan to the judgment, of parliament, which, from the
maturest consideration, he had been able to select as the most
practicable and the most consonant to the present constitution ;
conscious, at the same time, that it was impossible for him with
so many different subjects to attend to, to have found leisure to
do justice to a matter of sufficient importance to engross the at-
tention of any man whose mind had been vacant and unoccupied
by other objects. To proceed, however, to the business to be
stated, he observed, that it could not be denied, that in every
project of government of India, there must be an accession of
influence somewhere, which it became that House and the people
in general always to regard with extreme jealousy. That ingur
mice, for obvious reasons, should not be left at home, but might,.
with greater safety, be trusted abroad in India, where the,execu-
tive power must be lodged; as every man must sec the necessity
of having a government active on the spot, yet . not indepen-
dent of this country, but so constituted as to secure obedience
to the system of measures dictated from home, while, at the
same time, it was capable of preventing extortion in India, and
frustrating the improper views of ambition and despotism. The
channel of commerce, he said, must be our guide, as to our fu-
ture expectations from our connection with India, since we ought
to look to the management of our manufactures there, which
must chiefly depend on the establishment of the happiness ofthe
inhabitants, and their being secured in a state of peace and tran-
quillity. In order to effect this, he declared it would be neces-
sary to give the government abroad a certain degree of power,
subject only to the control of a board, to be appointed at home,
of the nature that he had mentioned, when he had proposed a
bill upon the same subject to the last parliament. He observed,
that in the present consideration there were mixed interests to be
regarded as well as mixed objects. Government and commerce
were the tsPo great objects to be looked to, while the interest of

the East-India company, and the interest of the country, called
for their most serious attention. The commerce of the com-
pany exclusively belonged to them ; nor was it till the territorial
acquisitions of the company became considerable, that. the public
claimed any participation in the advantages arising from the re-
sources of those acquisitions, in the obtainment of which they
had borne so large a share. The commerce to and from India,
therefore, he meant to leave, where it ought to be left, in the
management of the company.

It had, he remarked, been ever held, that commercial companies
could not govern empires ; but that was a matter of speculation,
which general experience proved to be not true in practice, how-
ever universally admitted in theory. The East-India company had
conducted its commerce, and governed a vast empire for years ;
and it was to be remembered that the East-India company was
no new establishment ; it rested on charters and acts of parlia-
ment ; those charters ought undoubtedly to be regarded, and, as
far as possible, the rights exercised and enjoyed under them
ought to be held sacred. But, as he had before observed, there
were no rights, that by accident or time became fatal to the in-
terests of the public, or to the safety of the state, which must
not be touched. The matter was, how to connect the constitu-
tion of the company with the national interests : from that re-
gard and attention to chartered rights which he ever should pro-
fess, and which every man ought to practise, he had been led
rather to consider, whether it was not possible to model the old
constitution of the company, so as to make it answer every view
of the state, and every interest of the public, rather than to
make a new one: not thinking it necessary to confiscate, annihi-
late, and destroy, where the purpose could be attained without
proceeding to any such violent lengths.

In the measures to be taken for the future government of India,
if they had the company's concurrence, it would surely be admit-
ted that they took the safest line ; that they had pursued the
wisest course ; and the measures he should propose, were such as
the company agreed to. Tho control he had mentioned ought

124 Mit. PITT'S [Jury 6.
undoubtedly to remain where the constitution had placed all
power, in the executive-government of the country. The manage-
ment of the commerce he meant to leave with the company. The
patronage should be separate from the executive government:
but be it given where it would, he should propose regulations that
would essentially curtail and diminish it, so as to render it as little
dangerous as possible. The patronage, however, he would trust
with no political set of men whatever. Let it be in India, it would
be free from corruption then, and when exercised under the re-
strictions and limitations he should propose; could, he flattered
himself, be attended with no bad consequences.

He enlarged upon these points considerably ; and then said,
from what he had stated,- the House would doubtless observe,
that the bill he meant to move for leave to bring in, was not dif-
ferent from former bills that he had stated to the House. The
great point of it, as far as he had opened it, was the appoint-
ment of a separate department of board of control, to whom all
dispatches should be transmitted, and who should be responsible
for what they did, and for what they did not do ; who should
blink nothing ; who should be obliged to act upon every- ques-
tion that came before them ; who should not chew any indulgence
or partiality , or be guilty of procrastination ; who should not have
the plea of other business, or in fine, on any pretence, or in any
other way whatever, put off or delay the duties of their office.
This institution, though certainly new, was not charged with new
duties ; because the same powers of control had been given to
the secretaries of state by various acts of parliament, but unfor-
tunately they had never been exercised, having been suffered to
remain dormant. He wished, therefore, to put it out of the power
of that degree of laziness natural to office, any longer to defeat
the public interest, by the institution of a board necessarily active
and efficient. He was aware that many persons, who in general
disliked, as much as he had done, the violence of' the measures
proposed in another bill, approved the idea of making the board
of commissioners, to be instituted under the authority of that
bill, permanent. He was not of' this opinion ; sure he was, that


the permanency of such a board as that bill proposed to insti-
tute, would have added to the mischiefs of it. Such a board
Would have been in itself a deviation from the principles of the
constitution, and its permanency would have involved it in con-
tradictions to the executive government that must have been at-
tended with great public inconvenience. Aninstitution to control
the government of India must be either totally independent of the
executive government of this country, or it must be subordinate
to it.. Ought. the administration of the day to have no connec-
tion with what was going on ? Let it be remembered that a per-
manent board might be hostile to those who held the government
at the time ; a view of it, which, he trusted, would sufficiently
prove, that an actual independent permanency in any such board
would be an evil. The existing government ought- to be, to a
degree, permanent ; but the Indian department must not be
independent of that : he meant, therefore, to give it a ground of
dependence, upon which all the various departments had anatura/
and legitimate dependency ; viz. upon the executive government.
Every government that had no other object than the public good,
that was conscious of acting upon no other principles than such as
were perfectly constitutional, that was swayed by no motives of a
personal, an interested, or an ambitious nature, but which pos-
sessed'a!sufficient share of the confidence of the sovereign, of par-
liament, and of' the people at large, would, from its conduct, be
permanent ; and the Indian government would be so of course.
Having said this, he animadverted on the danger of once depart-
ing from the constitution, by appointing such a commission as the
bill that had passed that House, but which had been rejected by
the lords in the last parliament, authorised. He remarked, if
the practice once obtained, therewas no saying to what extent it
might be carried, or how often the precedent might be multiplied :
admitting it to pass in the instance of the late bill, they might
have proceeded to separate and tear away all the departments
from the crown, and put them one after another into so many
parliamentary commissions.

With regard to the objections that had been started,
- and the


reasons that had been urged to prove that the company's directors
ought not to be excluded from an insight of the papers of the com-
missioners, he was willing so far to give way to the arguments of
that nature, as to permit the court of directors to see the papers
of the commissioners ; but they were to have no power of
objecting : the decision of the commissioners must be final and
binding upon the directors. Ile meant also to invest the com-
missioners with a power to originate measures, as well as to
revise, correct, alter, and control those of the company : but with
regard to suchmeasures as the commissioners originated, the com-
pany were to be obliged to carry them into execution. This, he
observed, took nothing from the company ; since, in fact, it was
nothing more than the power to put a negative on their measures,
and the power of altering them, acting in another way. With
respect to the appointment of the commissioners, he said, if was
meant to be the same as that of persons holding great offices,
viz. at the nomination of the crown. It was intended that the
board should consist of none but privy counsellors ; but the board
should create no increase of officers, nor impose any new bur-
dens, since he trusted there could be found persons enough who
held offices of large emolument, but no great employment,
whose leisure would. amply allow of their undertaking the duty in
question. And this circumstance, he observed, would have a
good effect for the future, in rendering it necessary for ministers,
when, byway of .providing for their families, they appointed to
offices hitherto considered as sinecures, to have some other con-
sideration of the ability of the person about to be appointed to
fill it : a consideration that could not but occasion the description
of offices to which he was alluding, to be well filled for the fu-
ture. The principal powers of this board, he recapitulated, would
consist in directing what political objects the company's servants
were to pursue, and in recalling such as did not pay obedience to
such directions, or be able togi ve very satisfactory reasons to shew
that circumstances rendered disobedience a virtue. The board
would be strictly a board of control : it would have no power to
appoint, nor any patronage; consequently it could have no motive
to deviate from its duty.

Thus much, the House would see, related solely to the govern-
ment at home. With regard to the government abroad, the first
and leading ideas would be to limit the subsisting patronage, and
to produce an unity of system, by investing the supreme govern-
ment, to be seated in Bengal, with an effectual control over every
other presidency, and by investing that supreme government with
executive power, and with the disposition of offices in India ; but
to make it a matter less invidious, and to prevent the possibility of
abuse, gradation and succession should be established as the inva-
riable rule, except in very extraordinary cases ; with a view to
which, there must be lodged in the supreme government, as in
every other executive power, a discretion, which every man must
see was actually necessary to be vested in an executive power,
acting at such an extreme distance from the seat of the supreme
government of all, but which was nevertheless to be subject to
the control of the board of superintendency to be established here
at home, whose orders in this, as in every other case, the govern-
ment of India must obey. Though Bengal was designed to be the
supreme government, it was not to be the source of influence:
that being as much as possible guarded against by the regulations
designed to make a part of the bill. The officers of the govern-
ment of Bengal were intended to be left to the nomination of the
court of directors, subject to the negative of the crown ; and the
court of directors were to have the nomination of the officers of all
the subordinate governments, excepting only of the commander-
in-chief, who, for various reasons, would remain to be appointed
by the crown. He said, it might possibly be argued, that if the
crown nominated the commander-in-chief, and had a negative
upon the rest of the appointments, all the patronage remained in
the hands of government at home. This, however, was far from
being the case; the patronage of great appointments not being the
sort of patronage for the public to entertain a jealousy about, and
the other patronage being diffused and placed in Bengal, the
influence from it was considerably weakened and diminished ;
add to this, all officers going by gradation and succession,
would be a :forcible cheek upon the patronage, and tend greatly
to its reduction.


Having discussed this matter very fully, Mr. Pitt proceeded to
state, that much would depend on the manner of administering
the government in India, and that his endeavours should be
directed. to enforce clear and simple principles, as those from
which alone a good government could arise. The first and
principal object would be to take care to prevent the govern-
ment from being ambitious and bent on conquest. Propensities
of that nature had already involved India in great expenses, and
cost much bloodshed. These, therefore, might most studiously
to be avoided. Commerce was our object, and with a view to its
extension, a pacific system should prevail, and a system of defence
and conciliation. The government there ought, therefore, in an
especial manner to avoid wars, or entering into alliances likely
to create wars. At the same time that he said this, he did not
mean to carry the idea so far as to suggest, that the British
government in India was not to pay a due regard to self-defence,
to guard against sudden hostilities from the neighbouring powers,
and, whenever there was reason to expect an attack, to be in a
state of preparation. This was undoubtedly and indispensably
necessary ; but whenever such circumstances occurred, the
executive power in India was not to content itself with acting
there, as' the nature of the case might require ; it was also to
send immediate advice home of what had happened, what mea-
sures had been taken in consequence of it, and of what further
measures were intended to be pursued. He mentioned also the
institution of a tribunal to take cognizance of such matters, and
state how far such a tribunal should be empowered to act with-
out instructions from home. He next said, that the situation of
the Indian princes, in connection with our government, and of the
number of individuals living immediately under our government;
were objects that ought to be the subject of an enquiry. The
debts due from one Indian prince to another, over whom we had
any influence, such as the claims of the Nabob of Arcot upon the
Rajah of Tanjore, ought undoubtedly to be.settled on a perma-
nent footing : this, and the debts of the natives tributary to us,
ought also to be the subjects of enquiry. Another object of inves-
tigation, and an object of considerable delicacy, was the preten-

:ions and titles of the landholders to the lands at present in their
possession : in the adjustment of this particular, much caution
must be adopted, and means found that would answer the end of
substantial justice, without going the length of rigid right ; be-
cause he was convinced, and every man at all conversant with
Indian affairs must be convinced, that indiscriminate restitution
would be as bad as indiscriminate confiscation. Another very
material regulation, or rather principle of reform, from which
solid hopes of providing a surplus adequate to the debt in India
might be drawn,. was, the retrenchments of our establishments in
that country. At present it was a well-known fact, that all our
establishments there were very considerably overcharged; at any
rate, therefore, there must be no augmentation suffered ; and in
order to prevent the possibility of such an improvident measure,
a return of all the establishments must be called for. With re-
gard to the means of reducing them, they ought to be laid before
parliament, and submitted to the determination of both Houses.
Every intended increase of the establishment ought also to be
submitted to parliament, and the company to be immediately re-
strained from sending out any more inferior servants. He stated
that it would be necessary, by proper provisos ;

to compel the
execution of these points : and the better to guard against the
continuance of that rapacity, plunder, and extortion, which was
shocking to the feelings of humanity, and disgraceful to the na-
tional character, he proposed to render the company's servants
responsible for what they did in every part of India, and to
declare it illegal and punishable, if they, on any pretence what-
ever, accepted sums of money, or other valuables, from the
natives. This would, be hoped, tend effectually to check private
corruption. There were, he was aware, a certain species of
presents, so much a part of the ceremonies inseparable from the'
manners of the Fast, that an attempt to direct that they should
not be received, would be utterly impracticable ; but even as
much as possible to guard against any bad consequences result-
ing from the continuance of the practice in question, he meant
that the bill should oblige the company's servants in India to
keep an exact and faithful register of all such presents.


130 MR. PITT'S [JULY 6.

With regard. to those of the company's servants, who did not
comply with the directions the bill would hold out. to them, and
to such other directions as should, under the sanction and autho-
rity of the bill, be transmitted to them from home, such persons
should be considered as guilty of offences punishable in the de-
grees stated in the bill, which should contain a special exception
of those guilty of disobedience of orders and other crimes, which
from their consequences, being of a most fatal tendency, must be
punished with great severity. In respect to this part of his sub-
ject, the House, he had no doubt, would go along with him in feel-
ing the necessity, and at the same time the extreme difficulty, of
providing a proper tribunal, before which persons charged with
offences committed in India should be tried. He owned he had
an extreme partiality to the present system of distributing justice
in. this country ; so much so, that he could not bring himself for
a moment to think seriously upon the idea of departing from that
system, without the utmost reluctance : without mentioning
names, however, or referring to recent instances, every man must
acknowledge, that at present we had it mot in our power to do
justice to the delinquents of India, after their return home. The
insufficiency of parliamentary prosecutions was but too obvious ;
the necessity for the institution of some other process was therefore
undeniable. A summary way of proceeding was what had struck
him, and, he believed, others who had thought nutch upon the
subject, as most advisable : the danger, however, was the eXam-
ple that must arise from any deviation from the established forms
of trial in this country, it being perhaps the first, the dearest, and
the most essential consideration in the mind of every Englishman,

that , he,heldlis property and his person in perfect security, from
the wise, moderate, and liberal spirit . of our laws. Much was to
be.said with respect to.the case, in point : either a new process
must be instituted, or offences equally shocking to humanity, , op-

posite to justice, and contrary to every principle of religion and
morality, must continue to prevail unchecked, uncontrolled, and
unrestrained. The necessity of the case outweighed the risk and
the hazard of the innovation ; and when it was considered. that
those who might-go to India hereafter, wonld know the danger of

transgressing before they left England, he trusted it would be ad-
mitted that the expedient ought to be tried. Should such a law
pass, every man who should go to India in future, would, by so
doing, consent to stand in the particular predicament in which
the particular law placed him ; and in thus agreeing to give up
same of the most essential privileges of his country, he would do
no more than a very numerous and honourable body of men did
daily, without the smallest impeachment of their characters, or
the purity of the motives that impelled their conduct.

Mr. Pitt suggested loosely what his idea of the summary spe-
cies of trial he meant to authorise was. He said, there must be
an exception to the general rules of law ; the trials must be held
by special commission : the court must not be tied down to strict
rules of evidence : but they must be upon their oaths to give
judgment conscientiously, and pronounce such judgment as the
common law would warrant, if the evidence would reach it.
Much, he was aware, would depend on the constitution of the
court. His design, therefore, was, that it should be composed of
men of known talents, unimpeached character, and high conse-
quence ; that their impartiality should be farther secured by their
election being by ballot ; and that a certain number out of the
whole nominated should make a court, in order that there might
exist the chance of a choice by ballot. The persons to be bal-
loted for, should be some of them from among the judges, some
members of the House of Lords, and some members of that
House. Such a mixed assemblage, from the very first characters
in the kingdom, would leave no room for suspicion, or possible
impeachment of justice ; and, in order still more strongly to for-
tify the subject against injustice, they should not be chosen till
the hour of trial, and should then be all sworn. To effect the
purposes of the institution of such a tribunal, they should be em-
powered to take depositions, and receive information, commu-
nicated by witnesses who were in India when the delinquent was
stated to have committed the offences he might stand charged
with ; and farther, they should be judges both of the Jaw and
the fact. With regard to the punishments, they should be go-


[FEB. 22.-

verned by the punishments the law, as it stood, authorised in
cases of misdemeanour, viz. fine and imprisonment ; but the ex-
tent of these should rest in the discretion of the court, to apportion
according to their opinion of the proved enormity of the crime
and as a farther means- of rendering such a tribunal awful, and
of giving effect to its plans for preventing the perpetration of
crimes shocking to humanity, it should be armed with the
power of examining the parties charged as delinquents, by
interrogatories,- as to the value of their effects, in order the bet-
ter to be able to govern the quantum of the fine to be levied in
case of conviction : it should also be armed with the power of
examining the amount of any man's property on his arrival in
England from India: and since purity and abstinence were the
objects which every man must desire should characterize the con-
duct of their countrymen in Asia, the company should not have•it
in their power to employ any one of their servants convicted of a
misdemeanour while he had been in India, nor should any per-
son be suffered to return to that country after his stay in this be-
yond a certain limited period. Mr. Pitt interspersed his notifi-
cation of the different principles and regulations which his in-
tended bill went to establish, with a variety of illustrations and.
arguments ; and concluded with moving, " That leave be given
to bring in a bill for the better regulation and management of the
East-India company, and of the possessions in India."

The motion, after a few observations from Mr. Fox, was agreed to.

Feb) wry 22. 1785.
Tin. House having, on Mr. Pitt's motion, resolved itself into a Com-

mittee of the whole House, for the purpose of taking into consideration
that part of His Majesty's Speech which recommended to their earnest
attention the adjustment of such points in the Commercial intercourse
with Ireland as were not yet finally adjusted; and the eleven resolutions
agreed to by the Houses of Lords and Commons of Ireland, being read,

MR. PITT rose, and opened the system of commercial inter-

course betweeh the two kingdoms. Ile said he flattered himself
he should be honoured with their indulgent attention, of' which
he should fully stand in need, while he endeavoured to state to
them the important propositions on which he conceived an ad-
vantageous and honourable system of intercourse might be esta-
blished between Great Britain and Ireland. In a business of
such moment, he knew that it was equally unnecessary for him
to desire the attention of gentlemen, as to entreat that they
would enter into the consideration of the subject without preju-
dice, and with the earnestness which its political magnitude re-
quired. There was not a man in the House, of whatever party
or description, however attached or connected, who would not
agree that the settling of the commercial intercourse of the two
countries, on a firm, liberal, and permanent basis, by which an
end might fbr ever be put to jealousies and clamour ; by which
all future pretexts to discontent might be removed, and by
which the surest foundations of future strength and opulence
might be laid, was one of the greatest topics which could be agi-
tated in parliament, and one of the most desirable objects that
they could accomplish. They would meet with one disposition
as to the end, however they might differ about the means : and
he only prayed that gentlemen would enter into the discussion of
the subject 'without prepossession from what they might have
heard, and without giving car to the insinuations which had been
so industriously circulated through the metropolis, and distri-
buted, perhaps, to every corner of the country. These insinua-
tions applied to particular subjects of the discussion, and were
founded on misconception of those great and necessary data in
our relative situation, upon ivhich, without bending our view- to
partial aspects, we must ultimately decide this great question.
If gentlemen had adopted ideas from cases half stated, or from
eases misrepresented by those who had made up their minds,
without knowing whether the state of the question made it ne-
cessary that the line should be pursued which had been adopted,
it would be more difficult for him to clear the way to the true
consideration of the question than it otherwise would have been.


131 MR. PITT'S [FEB. W4.

It was incident to every proposition, that, until it should be fully
exposed, those who might have the interest or inclination to raise
clamour by partial statements of it, had the advantage in the
conflict for a time : but when the whole could be fairly eluci-
dated, truth would always, as it ought, have its'prevalence over
misrepresentation, and the delusion, though extensive, would be
but momentary.

With regard to the important question, he conceived it to he
simply this : What ought to be the principles on which the rela-
tive commercial interests of the two kingdoms should be settled
in the system of intercourse to be established between them ? In
answering this question he had no difficulty in saying, that the
system should be founded on principles of expediency and jus-
tice ; and he was confident in saying, that, in the mode in which
the King's ministers had pursued the object, they had paid re-
gard to those principles. It had been a subject of insinuation
that the steps which they had taken were not conducive to the
ultimate success of the measure, and that they had embraced.
notions which were hostile in every conception to the end in
view. He would not go minutely into the detail of the propo-
sitions which bad been read by the clerk at the table, and which
he confessed were the basis of the system which he meant to
submit to their wisdom, because he was aware that the com-
mittee were not ripe to decide on them, and would not be
competent to the discussion, until they had examined all the ac-
counts which were already, or which might hereafter be, laid
on their table.

It was his wish that those examinations should be full and mi-
nute ; that time should be given them for the discussion ; and
that the whole should be fairly and fully investigated before they
came to any determination. He did this in the confidence that,
upon such mature consideration, they would find the general
propositions to be founded on good sense and substantial policy.
He was sensible that the smaller parts might require much curi-•
ous and minute investigation ; they would stand in need of cor-
rection, and perhaps of change. He trusted that he should have"

the assistance of all the wisdom and information of the commit-
tee on those points ; and he assured them that full time, and the
utmost information, should be given for the discussion. In such
a business, such.a determination was essential ; for it was of the
greatest and most decisive importance to both kingdoms, since
the end and object was 'no less than to establish a system that
should be permanent and irrevocable.

He should confine himself to general principles in the exposi-
tion of the business this day. The motion with which he should
conclude would fully explain the principles ; it had a reference
to the commercial regulations which had been read at the table,
and which the Houses of Lords and Commons of Ireland had
declared to be the basis of what they should consider as a proper
and effectual system of' intercourse. His motion did not tend
to any direct point ; but. it led their attention to the general
prospect of the scheme, accompanied with a provision which he
conceived to be essential to the whole.

In treating this important question, he would beg leave to
recta their attention to what had been, and what was the relative
situation of the two countries. They would recollect that, from
the Revolution, to a period within the memory of every man who
heard him, indeed, until these very few years, the sYstem had
been that of debarring Ireland from the enjoyment and use of
leer own resources; to make tle kingdom completely subservient
to the interests and opulence of this country, without suffering
her to share in the bounties of nature, in the industry of her
citizens, or making them contribute to the general interests and
strength of the' empire. This system of cruel and abominable
restraint had however been exploded. It was at once harsh and
unjust, di-id it was as impolitic as it was oppressive ; for, however
necessary it might be to the partial benefit of districts in Britain,
it promoted not the real prosperity and strength of the empire.
That which had been the system counteracted the kindness of
Providence, and suspended the industry and enterprise of
— Ireland was put under such restraint, that she was shut out
tiom eVery species of commerce: — she was restrained from'

K 4

136 MR. PITT'S [FEB. 22.

sending the produce of her own soil to foreign markets, and all
correspondence with the colonies of Britain was prohibited to her,
so that she could not derive their commodities but through the
medium of Britain. This was the system which had prevailed,
and this was the state, of thraldom in which that country had •
been' kept ever since the Revolution. Some relaxations of the
system, indeed, took place at an early period of the present cen-
tury. Somewhat more of the restrictive laws were abated in
the reign of George II.; but it was not until a time nearer to
our own day, and indeed within the last seven years, that the
system had been completely reversed.

it was not to be expected but that when Ireland, by the more
enlarged sentiments of the present age, had acquired an inde-
pendent legislature, she would instantly export her produce and
manufactures to all the markets of the world. She did so, and.
this was not all. England, without any compact or bargain,
generously admitted her to a share in her colonies. She gave
her liberty to import directly, and to re-export to all the world,
except to Britain, the produce of her colonies. Thus much was
done some years ago ; but to this moment no change had taken
place in the intercourse between Great Britain and Ireland them-
selves. Some trivial points, indeed, had been changed ; but
no considerable change had taken place in our manufactures
exported to Ireland, or in theirs imported to England. That,
therefore, which bad been done, was still viewed by the people
of Ireland as insufficient ; and clamours were excited, and sug-
gestions published in Dublin and elsewhere, of putting.duties
on our produce and manufactures, under the name of protecting

Having thus far relaxed from the system which had been
maintained since the Revolution,— having abandoned the com-
mercial subserviency in which we had so long persevered, and
having so wisely and justly put them into a state in which they
might cultivate and profit from the gifts of nature, — having
secured to them the advantages of their arts and industry, it
was to be observed that we had abolished one system, and had

established another ; but we had left the intercourse between the
two countries exactly where it was. There were, he said, but
two possible systems for countries situated in relation to one
another like Britain and Ireland. The one, of having the smaller
completely subservient, and subordinate to the greater — to
make the one, as it were, an instrument of advantage, and to
make all der efforts operate in favour, and conduce merely to the
interest of the other. This system we had tried in respect to
Ireland. The other was a participation and community of bene-
fits, and a system of equality and fairness, which, without tending
to aggrandize the one or depress the other, should seek the
aggregate interests of the empire. Such a situation of commer-
cial equality, in which there was to be a community of benefits,
demanded also a community of burdens; and it was this situation
in which he was anxious to place the two countries. It was
on that general basis that he was solicitous of moving the pro-
position which he held in his hand, to complete a system which
had been left unfinished and defective.

Under these circumstances, to discover the best means of
uniting the two countries by the firmest and most indissoluble
bands, ministers had, during the recess, employed themselves
in inquiries by which they might be able to meet parliament with
a. rational and well-founded system. That they might form the
outline of such propositions, from the mutual ideas of both
countries, and that they might join in the principles on which
the basis of the intercourse was to be laid, they thought it their
duty not to come into the parliament of Britain until they knew
what additions to the relaxations which were lately made, would
be likely to give entire satisfaction to the people of Ireland ;
what commercial regulations they would think essential to
commercial equality ; and what proportion of the expense of
supporting the common interests Ireland would-be content to
bear, on being thus made a common sharer in the benefits. They
were now prepared to meet parliament with the system, founded
on the intelligence of the sense of the Irish legislature on the
ubject, and, he believed, of the Irish people.

135 MR. PITT'S

It was his wish to examine the system in two striking points
of view, into which it naturally divided itself :

1st. To examine what would be the effects of the commercial
arrangements suggested in the propositions on the table, on our

particular commerce and manufactures ; and,

2d. To examine the effects of an extension of the trade of
Britain, in the return which Ireland would make towards the
common expense.

He would beg the indulgence of the House while he went par-
ticularly into the consideration of these branches of the subject.
The first branch, viz. the commercial arrangements, again should
be divided into two parts. 1st, In so far as they regarded our .
navigation laws, and the monopoly of our commerce with our
colonies; and, 2dly, In so far as they regarded the intercourse
between the two countries by the equalizing of duties.

The first branch of this subject, namely, the liberty of irti-
porting the produce of all countries'importable into England,
directly, from henceforth, through the medium of Ireland, was
likely to attract most of the attention of the House. The alarms
of the people would also be excited to this measure, and excited
under names which, from long habit, we were accustomed to
reverence. It would be said, that this measure would be de-
structive of our navigation laws, the , source of our maritime
strength and commercial opulence. Those who argued in this
way Merited, however, but little credit ; for they did not seem
to have taken much pains to make themselves acquainted by
experience with those navigation laws. How far this new measure
would depart from the spirit of those laws, would be seen from
this short statement of the fact. Goods, the produce of Europe,
might now be imported into Britain through Ireland, by the
express authority of'the navigation act. The new proposition
applied only to Africa and: America, for Asia was excluded; as
the East-India company had the monopoly of the trade to that
quarter of the world: It Was therefore to be asked, whether it
would be- wise- in this country to give to Ireland the liberty el

importing, and afterwards of exporting to Britain, the produce
of our colonies in Africa and America ?

If we desired to give satisfaction to Ireland, and to put an
end to all contention, by a system founded in equality and
reciprocity, he conceived that this was a wholesome and proper
measure. Every man would agree that it was desirable to give
them a complete participation, if it could be done without en
croaching on our navigation laws and commercial system, which
were so deservedly dear to us. It should be remembered that
we had already given to Ireland our intercourse with our West-
India islands. In the late alteration of the system we had opened
the way of Ireland to all foreign markets ; and in doing that, we
had conferred no favour, and made no concession. It was the
natural right of Ireland, and the measure was a measure of
justice, but not of grace. We, however, had gone farther than
that: we had given them direct intercourse with our own colo-
nies—with those colonies which we had acquired by our own
treasure, and which we maintained by our own authority. This
was liberal —it was a favour—it was certainly advisable to give
this proof of our friendship ; but it was given without reciprocity,
without securing from Ireland any return, or receiving any
proportionate aid towards the maintenance of trade or the pro-
tection of those colonies.

The question now was, therefore, whether, with so much
given, and so little received, it would be wise to destroy that_

_ much by a niggard detention of• the little that was left; or
whether, by adding the little to the much already given, we
might not secure a valuable return ?

He knew there might be persons, who, with separate interests,
or perhaps with personal interests, might start objections, and
find pretexts for clamour against every national object that could
he embraced ; and while ear was given to such clamour, we
must remain in the same unprofitable system as heretofore. But
rif they wished to pay respect to the advantages of quiet and
ecurity ; if they desired to have a return proportional and

equate, it was his opinion that the little which was left ought



to be given for a return, in addition to the much which was given
without any return at all : and happy would it be for Britain, if,
by a profitable use of What little was left, she could yet secure
the advantages which might have been so much more certainly
procured in the former season.

But it was requisite to proceed to inquire what would he the

effects produced by giving this extension to Ireland ? The com-
mittee would be the place for detail. He would confine himself,
therefore, to the general view of the subject. They had heard
in popular discussions, and in those publications which were
propagated so freely through the metropolis, that this measure
would strike a deadly blow to the navigation laws of this kwingas


don'. It would be said that, by this blow, that act,


the palladium of our commerce, would be ruined. These

clamours to which,
he could not subscribe. He desired to know

what was likely to be the .extent of this boon ? Would it be
more than that Ireland would be able to send to Britain what
she might have imported from the colonies above what was ne-

cessary to her own consumption
? Was it likely that she was to

become the emporium, the mart of the empire, as it was said she
would? He could not believe that it would ever be the case.
By emporium -he supposed was meant, that Ireland would
import the produce of Africa and America, afterwards to dis-
tribute it to all the world, and to Britain among the rest. If this
liberty would strike a fatal blow to the commerce of England, he
begged it might be remembered with whom the blow had origi-
nated. By the inconsiderate and unsystematic concessions
which had been made four years ago, the blow was struck.
They would not have been inconsiderate, if accompanied with
provisions of a return— not if the system had been finally settled;
but those concessions were inconsiderate, because we had been
inclined to hide our situation, both from ourselves :and others,
without examining the extent of what we were giving away, and
without securing the general interests of the empire : so that, if
there was any danger of Ireland's becoming the emporium, and

of her supplantin
g us either in our own' or in foreign markets, it

was by the advantages given by the noble lord *whom he had
then in his eye ;. and lie trusted the nation would know and feel
from whence the calamity really sprung.

No such consequence, however, was likely to ensue. Ireland
did not covet the supply of the foreign markets, nor was it pro-
bable that she would furnish Britain with the produce of her own
colonies in any great degree. Ireland was to have the liberty
of bringing to Britain, circuitously, what she herself had the
liberty of bringing directly. It inust be proved that Ireland
could afford this circuitous supply cheaper than Britain herself
could give the direct supply, before any idea of alarm or appre-
hension could he raised in any bosom. That fact would be
inquired into. It would be inquired, whether there was any
thing in the local situation of the ports of Ireland, which would
enable her to make this circuitous voyage cheaper than we could
make the direct one; whether the nearest way to England was
through the ports of Ireland. He had no reason to believe
that the freight was cheaper from Ireland to the West Indies,
than from England. Then there was to be super-added to this
equal freight, the freight between Ireland and Britain, which
would operate as a very great discouragement ; for he had rea-
son to believe, that this super-added freight would be, on the
average, a fourth of the original freight. He wished to avoid
figures and unauthorised assertions ; but all this would be sub-
ject of inquiry ; and to this he must add the double insurance,
double commission, double port duties, and double fees, &c.
all of which would operate most severely against Ireland.

There was one other observation on this part of the subject.
It was not merely a question, whether Ireland should be able,
by local advantages and resources, to become the carriers, but
we were to compare the contest between ourselves and then].
Ireland could now send a cargo to the West Indies, and bring a
cargo directly to Britain ; or she could invoice a part of her
cargo to Britain, and part to Ireland. The question was, there-

Lord North,.

142 M11. PITT'S
[Fan. 22.

fore, whether her original cargo was to be afforded cheaper,
whether her shipping andnavigating were cheaper, and whether,
with all these advantages, it could be possible that this circuitous
trade could be cheaper than the direct trade ?

All this would be searched to the bottom ; and in this view of
the subject, the discussion would be fair ; but nothing would be
more unfair than to contend, that this new commerce would be.
Contrary to the act of navigation. It ought to be a question,
how much of the wealth of this nation might centre in Ireland
by this Measure ; but in looking into the spirit and meaning of
the navigation act, nothing could be more absurd than to say

that it was..CentrarY to that act. The principle of that act was
the increase of the` British shipping and seamen. Here then this
principle was out of the question ; for in several acts, and in one
passed so lately as 1778, Irish shipping and seamen were to be

considered as . British. There was not then that degree of
danger in adding this to the other concessions which had been

made. to Ireland.
The other great and 'leading principle in this branch of the

measure was the equalising . of the duties on the produce and
manufactures Of both countries ; and this he would explain very
shortly. On most of the manufactures of Ireland, prohibitory
duties Britain: linen, however, was a liberal ex-

ception: On the .Contrary, our manufactures had-been imported
into 'Ireland at low duties. It was now the 'question, whether,
under the aceuniulationof cur heavy taxes, it would be wise to
equalise the!dtities;'hy which a country, free from those duties, -

might: be ab1e to'lneet US, and to overthrow us in their, and in

our own Markets? : Upon this he would state some' general
'observations as7Shortly as possible. A country not capable of
supplying herself, could hardly meet another:in a foreign mar-

ket. They:ha& not admitted our'commodities totally free from
duties — they bore, upon an average, about ten per _cent. ; but it
was very natural that Ireland, with an independent legislature,
should now look for perfect equality. If it be true, that, with
every disadvantage on our part, our manufactures were so su-


perior that we enjoyed the market, there could be no danger in
admitting the Irish articles to our markets on equal duties. Wbat
strong objections could be started ? Every inquiry had been
made, and the manufacturers with whom he had conversed bad
not been alarmed at the prospect. On our side, on account of
our heavy internal duties on some articles, port duties must be
added on the equalising principle ; and he _trusted that all little
obstacles would be over-ruled.

It was said, that our manufactures were all loaded with heavy
taxes—it was certainly true ; but with that disadvantage they
had always been:able to triumph over the Irish in their own mar-.
kets, paying the additional ten per cent. on the importation to
Ireland, and all the charges. But the low price of labour was
mentioned. 'Would that consideration enable them to undersell
us ? Manufacturers thought otherwise ; there were great ob-
stacles to the planting of any manufacture. It would require
time for arts and capital, and the capital could not increase
without the demand also ; and in an established manufacture
improvement was so rapid as to bid defiance to rivalsliip. In
some of our manufactures, too, there were natural and insur-
mountable objections to their competition. In the woollens, for
instance, by confining-the raw material to this country, the
manufacture was confined also.

There might be some branches in which Ireland might rival,
and perhaps beat England ; but this ought not to give us pain :
we must calculate from general and not partial views, and above
all things, not look on Ireland with a jealous eye. It required
not philosophy to reconcile us to a competition which would give
us a rich customer instead of apoor one. Her prosperity would
be a fresh spring to our trade.

One observation more on this branch, and that was, that the
price of labour, proportionably lower now, was an advantage
which would be constantly diminishing. As their.manufactures
and commerce increased, this advantage would be incessantly,
growing less. For these reasons he did not think that England

144 MR. PITT'S

had any thing to fear in the proposed scheme of equalising the
duties on the admission of their mutual produce.

Having said so much about what was to be given by England,
he should pass next to the other part of his proposition, without
which the former would be an improvident surrender of advan-
tages belonging at this moment to Great Britain—he meant the
return that was to be made for them by Ireland. He could not
at the outset of this business, expect that any specific sum should
be proposed by the Irish parliament, towards defraying the ex-
pense of protecting the commerce of the empire ; because it was
impossible for them to ascertain at present, or for some time to
come, the amount of the advantages that the Irish would derive
from this system : on the other hand, it would have been im-
proper not to stipulate for something. He had, therefore,
thought it best for this country, that she should have some solid

and substantial provision for what should be stipulated in her
favour, and that should keep pace with benefits that the system
would produce to the Irish ; for this . purpose it had been agreed,
that the provisions should consist of the-surplus of the hereditary
revenue, whenever there should be a surplus ; and this fund, the
committee would perceive, from what he was going to state, was
precisely that from which it could be best collected, to what .
degree the Irish should have been benefited by the commercial

The hereditary revenue in Ireland was that which was insepa-

rably annexed to the crown, and left to the king to be disposed
of at his discretion, for the benefit of the public. It was pretty
much like the hereditary revenue that was formerly annexed to
the crown in this country, and which was given up by His pre-

sent 111.ajesty for a certain annuity : above four-fifths of the Irish
hereditary revenue was raised in such a way, that the whole
must necessarily increase, with'an increase of commerce. It was
raised from three several objects : — from customs, the produce
of which must necessarily be greater, when the customed goods
imported. into Ireland should be more in value than they had


hitherto been ; from 10 per cent. on other kinds of goods entered,
which must of course bear always a proportion to the extent of
the trade;—from hearths ; an increase of population would pro-
duce an increase of houses, and an increase of houses would ne-
cessarily produce an increase of hearths, and consequently of
this branch of the revenue ; — from an inland excise, which, de-
pending always upon consumption, must always rise with popu-
lation and property, and consequently, should the trade and po-

- pulation of Ireland exceed-in future what they were at present,
the hereditary revenue would be benefited by both. This re-
venuelad not, indeed, for many years back, been equal to the
ends for which it had been granted to the crown; and the defi-
ciencies had been made up by new taxes-imposed by the Irish par-
liament: it did not at present make above half of the whole; by the
papers on the table, itappeared that it produced atpresent 652,000/.
a year.- For some time back there had been an arrear incurred,
the expenses of the state being greater than its income: but he
understood that steps were to be taken to bring both to a level,
and then a reasonablehope might be entertained, that, if the trade
of Ireland should grow more flourishing, there would be a consi-
derable surplus on this revenue, applicable to the protection of
the common trade of the empire, and he indulged this hope the
rather, for that several years back, when government. took care
that the expenditure should.not be greater than the income, the
hereditary revenue produced 690,0001. a year, though the com-
merce of the country was at the time shackled with innumerable.
restraints : what then might be expected from it, when that trade
on which it depended should be enlarged P.— Then it would be
found that our strength would grow with the strength of Ireland ;
and., instead of feeling uneasiness or jealousy at the increase of
her commerce, we should have reason to rejoice at such a cir-
cumstance, because this country would then derive an aid for the
protection of trade, proportioned to the increase of commerce
in Ireland. Iie-did not mean that we should very soon experi-
ence any very great assistance from this revenue, because it
would take some time before. new channels of trade could be


MR. PITT'S [Fun. 22.

opened to Ireland : but from the nature of this fund

it would ap


pear, that if little should be given to England, itwould be
cause little had been gained by Ireland: so that, whether much
or little should be got from it, England would have no cause to
be- dissatisfied: if much should be got, she would be a gainer ;
if little, it would be a proof that little of the commerce of Eng:-
land had found its way into Ireland l-

and consequently there

could not be much room for jealousy'. The parliament of Ire-
land had readily consented to the appropriation of the surplus
out of the hereditary revenue, to the defence of trade ; but
though he did not in the least doubt the intention of that parlia-
ment liberally to fulfil what had been so readily resolved, yet in a
matter of so much moment to Great Britain, he felt that he ought
not to leave any thing to the generosity or liberality even of the
most generous and liberal. As it was his object to make a final set-
tlement in this negociation, and to proceedupon a fixed principle,
he wished it to be understood that, as he meant to insure to Ire-
land the permanent and irrevocable enjoyment of commercia l ad-
vantages, so he expected in return, that Ireland would secure to

England an aid as permanen t
and irrevocable. The resolution of

the Irish parliament on that point was not worded in as clear a
manner as he could wish. It stated, " That for the better protec-
tion of trade, whatever sum the gross hereditary reveue o the
kingdom, (after deducting all drawbacks, repayments, o


r bounties

in the nature of drawbacks,) shall produce annually over and
above the sum of ---, should be appropriated towards the
support of the naval force of, the empire, in such a manner as
the parliament of this kingdom shall direct." Now this did not
plainly hold out the prospect of this surplus being irrevocably
applied to this purpose ; and as this was with him a

conditia sine

qua non,
he would not call upon the committee to pledge itself to

any thing on the subject, till the parliament of Ireland should
have re-considered the matter, and explained it more fully.

Such, then, was the outline of the plan he intended toto pro-
pose : the minute parts of it, would, no doubt, be open


and fair investigation
; and gentlemen would consequently be at



liberty to call for any information that could possibly be pro-
cured. He flattered himself, that after what he had stated on
different points, fears and jealousies would be laid aside. Gen-
tlemen would see that except the mere intercourse with respect to
certain articles between the two kingdoms, all the rest of the globe,
not included in the East-India company's charter, was already
open to Ireland : nay, that she could by law at this moment
supply England circuitously through her own ports, with every
sort of West-India commodities ; and therefore, that whatever
ground there might have been a few years ago for alarm, there
was little or none now, when so little remained to be done. He
did not apprehend that any manufacture in this country would
immediately feel any bad consequence from the commercial ex-
tension to Ireland, or that any number of English manufacturers
would be thrown upon the world for want of employment, or
that they could be so soon rivalled or surpassed in any 'branch,
as not to have time first to turn their thoughts to some other line
of business; but should even an inconvenience of this kind hap-
pen in some small degree, it would be over-balanced by the good
consequences that must attend the proposition he had to make :
for, in the first place, it would form a final adjustment of com-
mercial interests between the two countries; it would allay dis-
contents in Ireland, and restore peace and harmony to the re-
maining branches of the empire ; and secondly, if it took any
thing from England in one way, it would highly benefit her in
another, by providing a relief to her in the heavy expenses of
protecting trade. He concluded, by moving the following reso-
lution : " That it is the opinion of this committee, that it is
highly important to the general interest of the empire, that the
commercial intercourse between Great Britain and Ireland shall
be finally adjusted; and that Ireland should be admitted tq a
permanent and irrevocable participation of the commercial- ad-
vantages of this country, when the parliament of Ireland shall
permanently and irrevocably secure an aid out of the surplus of
the hereditary revenue of that kingdom, towards defraying the
expense of protecting- the general commerce of the empire in

r. 2

118 MR. PITT'S [MAncu 9.

time of peace." He observed, that, consistently with what he had
said of the necessity of a further explanation on the part of the
parliament of Ireland, respecting the permanency of the aid to be
given for the protection of trade in general, he could not call
upon the committee to give an immediate opinion upon his pro-
position ; he would not, therefore, press for a vote now, but, on
the contrary, would move that the further consideration of the
resolution should be adjourned to a future day.

Mardi 9. 178.5.

DEBATE on a motion made by Mr. Fox, " That the former resolutions
respecting the Westminster Scrutiny be rescinded and erased from thejournals."

Mr. PITT declared, that he had given the minutest attention

to every thing that had fallen on either side of the House, and
particularly to the right honourable gentleman*, not with any
hopes . of finding a new light thrown either on the legality or ex-
pediency of the question, but because he had been desirous to
discover howfar the ingenuity of gentlemen would go in giving an
apparent diversity to arguments, which had already been so re-
peatedly. handled in every shape that invention and subtlety could
possibly give them. In aid to all the authorities which had al-
ready been adduced, the right honourable gentleman had resort-
ed-to new authorities of his own creation, those of the lord
chancellor t, and the chief justice of the king's bench. t Gen-•
tlernen, no doubt, must have at first imagined that the right:
'ionourable gentleman had come to the House armed with the:
express opinions of those great luminaries of the law, by the.con-
fidence with which he had used the sanction of their names to
enforce his argument ; but after availing himself for about a
quarter of an hour of the credit which he assumed on the suppos i

-tion of' their opinions, he had at last thrown off his borrowed or-
naments, and confessed that in the supposed opinions of thosel

Mr. Fox. t Lord Thurlow. Lord Mansfield.

'great men he had Aieen only gratifying his imagination in com-
templating in them, as in a mirror, his own conceptions. He
wondered that with. regard to the latter of those noble and learned
personages, who had been so long ago, as the right honourable
gentleman had mentioned, a " practical lawyer," it had not been
observed, that he was a practical lawyer, just about the.period
of the scrutinyon the contest for Westminster between Trentham
,and Vandeput, and at that very time in a high department under
government. He wished the right honourable gentleman had
not forgot to refer to another authority—an authority, which,
while true dignity of character, unbounded information, abi-
lities of the most unparalleled magnitude; and an integrity on
which no party had ever attempted to fix a stain, should conti-
nue to be respected, would ever be an object of the love, the
gratitude, and the admiration of England ;—the authority to
which he alluded, was that of-a noble lord *, who bad formerly
been chief justice of the court of common pleas, and afterwards -
chancellor of England, and who, he was happy and proud to
say, was now at the head of His Majesty's

councils. He pre-

sumed it. would not be contended as probable, that that noble
'lord was of the same opinion as the right honourable gentleman ;
or, no doubt, he would also have availed himself of the strength
which the supposed accession of his opinion would have given his
motion. Another authority had been offered, and it was an au-
thority tO which he paid as great a degree of respect as the right
Honourable gentleman possibly could — the resolutions of the
city of York. This authority was not, like the others, merely
imaginary ; and he rejoiced it was not so, as it was decidedly in
his (Mr. Pitt's) favour ; for so far from desiring the House to
correct the abuse complained of, in the manner in which they
were, by this motion, pressed to do, the object of those resolu-
tions was nothing more than an exact type of what had already
been declared by so many of his friends to be the proper and
necessary remedy, and which it was, and had been ever since
the abuse had arisen, his resolution to apply.

Lord Camden.
1, 3

150 MR. PITT'S
EMAncH 9.

With respect to the animadversions which he had levelled
against his learned friend near him, (the attorney general,) they
were such as he was sure could make no impression on himself,
or the House. The learned gentleman (setting aside the conside-
ration to which he was entitled from abilities, that, he would
venture to say, were not surpassed in his profession) might well.
expect that some degree of credit was due to the high office he
filled, especially on a question of this nature, where it was not in
issue merely whether the conduct complained of was, on a close
and deep investigation, contrary to the abstruse and more difficult
point of law ; but whether it was so manifest and so gross a vio-
lation of plain, avowed, and important principles, as must have
proceeded from intentional corruption, or unpardonable error,
which could alone justify the measure now demanded: a measure
of so delicate a nature, that it certainly ought never to be re-
sorted to on light and frivolous grounds, nor could it be adopted
without the danger of introducing a wantonness and inconsistency
into the conduct of parliament, that must effectually overturn
all the good purposes of its institution a measure that called

upon the House in express terms to avow their own repeated
resolutions, formed on the most mature deliberation, and the most
patient debate and discussion, to 'be the offspring either of wilful
dishonesty, or of the most disgraceful ignorance. For his own
part, he said, that however he might have altered his sentiments,
in respect to the expediency of the resolutions which the House
was now called upon to rescind, he had by no means departed
from his firm persuasion of the legality of those resolutions.
The House had been warned against adopting legal analogies
as the ground on which they were to decide the present ques-
tion; positive precedents were insisted on, as the only documents
that could support the legality of the scrutiny. He argued,
that the doctrines of the gentlemen on the other side of the
House, went to establish the necessity of a returning officer's

sacrificing the substance
to the exigency of the writ. It would ill

become him, the avowed advocate for a pure representation of
the people, and it would tend very little towards procuring for


him the confidence of the public towards his profession on that
subject, were he by any means whatsoever to contribute to the
increasing of the many defects which were at present so justly
complained of in the constitution of parliament; and surely there
could be no greater abuse than that of compelling a returning
officer to make a return of members, who were not elected by
a majority of legal votes ; yet this must be the case in many
popular elections, if the returning officer, on a fair suggestion and
rational belief of improper practices on the poll, had not the
power of examining by a more regular and accurate mode, than
the nature of such an election, according to the usual method of
conducting them, was capable of affording.

The right honourable gentleman had disputed the calculation
of the right honourable and learned gentleman (the master of the
rolls *) of the time allowed to the sheriffs of London to make their
return, by the statute of 13 Geo. II. in order to overturn the
argument of analogy, which had been drawn by that gentleman,
who, though he had given the assistance of his opinion, he was
sorry to inform the House, would not be able, from a domestic
misfortune, to contribute his vote upon the question. That cal-
culation, however, of his right honourable friend he would ven-
ture to adhere to, as he knew it to be strictly accurate. By that
statute, the time allowed to the sheriff's was fifty-two days ; now
the only question, with regard to the time for summoning a par-
liament, was, whether it was forty or fifty days; this, the right
honourable gentleman had well imagined, was, at the time of the
dissolution of the late parliament, a subject of consideration with.
ministers, and from that consideration which he had given, he was
ready to affirm, that it might lawfully be summoned in forty days.
With regard to the argument drawn from the clause in the act of
union, that fifty days were positively prescribed, as the shortest.
time, that clause, he said, did not apply ; the object of that
clause was merely local, temporary, and partial, for it related
only to the kingdom of Scotland, to the members for Scotland,
and to the firseparliament that should meet for the united kin.--

Sir Lloyd Kenyon.

doms. It enacted, that it might be lawful for Her Majesty; at
any time, to call the then parliament of England, and also to
issue writs for the election of the Scotch members, to meet in
that parliament, but that there should be fifty days allowed be-
tween the issuing of the writs and the assembling of the parlia-
ment ; the usual term was thus prolonged, in order to afford

. leisure for the confusion, consequent on the new arrangement,
then taking place, to subside. Still, however, he would concede
to the right honourable gentleman the difference between forty
and fifty days, and take it at fifty : in this concession he lost
nothing ; for all he wanted was a principle, which he would find
in either case, namely, that by absolute and positive statute, the
very thing is allowed which the gentleman on the other side
complain against as contrary to all law, common sense, justice,
or precedent — the continuation of an election or scrutiny (for
it v,ras hard to discriminate between them) after the meeting of
parliament, and consequently after the return of the writ. For
if-the parliament might meet in fifty days, and the election for
London be deferred for fifty-two, then it was evident, that the
principle was sufficiently established, as in a case of this nature
two days were as strong as two hundred. He should be happy
to hear any of the ingenious and learned gentleman on the other
side attempt an answer to this.

But if het.should not be allowed the benefit. of a
legal analogy

with this act for the city of London, by the candour of those gen-
tlemen, he would, at least, satisfy them with a precedent. The

case of 'Trentham and Vandeput was that precedent : to prove
this precedent fully ,adequate to the case, or as an honourable
gentleman * opposite to him would, perhaps, call it a simile

in point, he. would lay down an alternative a scrutiny either
is, or it is not, a part of an election. If it be a part of an
election, then' the election cannot be said to be finished while

the scrutiny. .continues, and, not being finished, no members can
he chosen, because the event and termination of an election must
be the choice of members ; in this part of the alternative the

Mr. Adam_

right honourablizentleman had nothing to complain of, because
the scrutiny not being determined, the election of course was not
finished, and the election not being : finished, he certainly could
not have'been chosen by an imperfect and unfinished election.
The other part of the alternative put the right honourable gentle-
man into a worse situation, because it overturned the whole Of
his objections to the analogy between the late scrutiny for West-
minster and the former one : for if he contended that a scrutiny
Was not a part of an election, then did the House of Commons do,
in thatinstance, exactly what theyhave done now; for they sent the
candidates back to a scrutiny; after the day on which the writ was
returnable a day which, though not ascertained in the writ by
name, had been sufficiently identified by description, namely, the
14th day after the conclusion of the election. Now this clay be-
ing thus ascertained, from the conclusion of the election, brought
the two cases in spirit exactly to the same point, stripping them
of that distinction which it was so much the object of the gentle-
men opposite him to establish, namely, the day being expressly
named in the one and only described in the other. The right
honourable gentleman had shewn so great a soreness on this
subject of scrutinies, that, perhaps, it might embarrass him to
be -asked—how it came, that he himself, within three or 'four
weeks of the time appointed for the return of the writ, threatened
to demand a scrutiny ? This question, as he never wished
to lead any man into an embarrassment, out of which he was
not equally willing to extricate him, he would endeavour to an-
swer in some degree ; and having already presented the gentleman
in the last head 'of his argument with-two, he. would-here give
him three divisions of that question. The right honourable.gen-
tleman,. then, had one or the other of the three following ob-
jects in view : first, he either thought that the subject of the scru-
tiny was of so simple a nature, that he hoped to see it decided
in his favour in so short a time. as the remainder of that appoint-
ed for the return of the writ; and certainly, if to the


honourable gentleman, who-knew so much of the business, it ap-
peared to promise so speedy an issue, theHouse were not much

AIR. PIT T's "ERA Rot 9

to blame in hoping that an end might be put to it in a period not
much longer : if this was not his reason, perhaps it was, that he
then believed a scrutiny might legally be carried on, after the
strict exigency of the writ demanded a return ; in that also the
House could not be to blame: finally, if neither of these were
his reasons and his intentions, they must have been this ; that
he was conscious that he had no right, and therefore proposed
a scrutiny, in order that, that scrutiny not being completed
against the return of the writ, the high bailiff must have made
such a return, as, on the grounds of the scrutiny not being com-
pleted, would necessarily pave the way to a fresh election. Of
these three motives, he observed, that two only were in any de-
gree excusable; and in case of either of those two excusable
motives, the House stood qualified on the principles of the right

honourable gentleman himself.
With respect to those authorities, which, he said, of all others-,

should he most earnestly sought after by the House, namely,
statutes, he should say a little, because the gentlemen on the
opposite side of the House had seemed to rely so much on them,
in matters to which, in his opinion, they had no relation. Here

went into the argument which the attorney-general had in-
troduced on the necessary difference which must have arisen in
the conducting of elections, from the changes which had taken
place in the nominal value of property, and from other circum-
stances which had crept in with it. From hence he argued,
that the acts of Henry VI. and VIII. did not attach to the pre-
sent question, inasmuch as, so far from an instance similar to the
present being then in the contemplation of the legislature, the very
seeds, from whence this instance sprung, had hardly been sown ;
for scrutinies, or the necessity of them, as they were now under-
stood, were then not only unnecessary and absurd, but absolutely
unknown and inconceivable. The right honourable gentleman
had another ground of uneasiness, on the subject of the irregu-
larity of:

he form by.which he had been seated in that House as
member for Westminster, because the precept was not originally
annexed to the sheriff's writ, on its return to the crown-office•


What, then, had the member for Westminster so soon forgot the
concerns of the member for Kirkwall ? Did he forget, that in
the precept, which returned that member, there was the very
same irregularity that was here complained of? But in that in-
stance the right honourable gentleman had to blame himself and
his friends alone ; nor did he see any other person liable to cen-
sure on the present occasion.

He should be glad to know what was the object of the right
honourable gentleman in this motion, if other than to entrap the'
House into a measure that would fix an indelible stain upon them,
the very proposing of which was an insult, if not to their honour
and integrity, at least to their understanding. Why, it must be
to obliterate all recollection of the transaction, so that it should
not afford a single document, to tell to the world, that it ever
existed. If this was his object, he must go farther than the pre,
sent motion would lead him; he must erase from their journals
the petition of the electors of Westminster, unless he thought,
perhaps, that the reproaches, with which it was qualified in some
measure, might compensate for its poisonous tell-tale qualities ;
he must remove from the table that heap of unfounded and un-
supported assertions, which he triumphantly alluded to, as a
body of solid, substantial, and irrefragable proof; he must Storm
the crown-office for those parchments, which he knew not how
properly to describe, but as a heap of corruption and inconsist-
ency, but which heap of corruption he himself sent there. There
was one argument used by a learned gentleman who spoke early
in the debate, why that resolution should be erased from the
journals, for which he begged to return him his sincere thanks,
because it applied with all the force it had, to the contrary
side of the question. The learned gentleman said, it ought to
be erased, because the House passed it in their judicial capacity.
He congratulated the gentlemen of the bar on this new principle
which was thus to be introduced into the jurisprudence of the
country. What ! erase a judicial resolution ! A man must have
a very vague idea of the law indeed, if he imagined that such a
proceeding could agree with any of its principles. No. Every


decree, judgment, order, or decision, of any court of justice
must always remain on the records of the court, right or wrong ;
there it must remain on its own merits to be followed and imi-
tated, if it were right ; to be avoided, if wrong ; but always to
show what the idea of the court was at the time it was made.
• Great. emphasis has been laid by each side of the House on two
cases, which were imagined for the sake of argument, he sup-
posed, for-no man could be wild enough to suppose it possible
either should ever exist in fact ; one was, that by the precedent
of that scrutiny, the returning officers of this kingdom had a
power, on the slightest suggestion, or without any suggestion at
all, to withhold their returns, or to make ineffectual returns,
similar to that of the high bailiff, and thus prevent the meeting
of parliament at all.• On the contrary, it had been put from this
side of the House, that, if they overturned the right of the officer, •9:
to whom the writ or precept was directed, to satisfy himself by a 1
more' cool investigation than could possibly be had during the
poll, then that House, by a parity of argument, might be filled
with such ragamuffins as should, by assembling men like them-
selves at the place of poll, obtain a fraudulent majority. He
should not attempt a comparison between the two misfortunes,
but he would only say, that of such two extreme cases, the last
was as likely to happen as the first: and, since the gentlemen
wire so fond of exaggerated and extravagant cases, he could fur-
nish them with another, which occurred to him from the expe-
dient that had been proposed from the other side of the House,
of making a double return in doubtful cases ; — now by that

.1i-wails -all the returning officers in the kingdom might, by enter-
ing into a wicked conspiracy, by all making double returns, keep
the House empty. But he thought an argument, which could
only be supported by such hard-strained and far-fetched imagi-
nations as those, was scarcely worth the holding. That stood
upon different grounds ; it was intrenched behind the strong holds
of law, of justice, and of expediency.

The right honourable gentlemen had threatened the House
that if it refused to comply with his motion at the present, 'it

would only be postponing their disgrace, for he would never rest
satisfied, until by perseverance and a constant agitation of the
question, he should have at last accomplished that desirable ob-
ject. That period of triumph, he was happy to find the right
honourable gentleman did not think -at present to be near at
hand, for he had left himself an interval of one, or two, or, per-
haps, more years, for his successive efforts. Nor should he be
surprized,.if the endeavours of the right honourable gentleman
should at length be croNned with success : for, together with his
knowledge of his great ability, and the pertinacious industry with
which that ability was sure to be supported, on every occasion
that called forth his interests, his passions, or his party attach-
ments, he was besides prepared to expect, that there-might pos..
sibly be a House of Commons under the influence of the right
honourable gentleman, which would act on different principles,
and with different views to those which formed the motives and
the objects of the present House of Commons ; and he should be.
happy to find, that, in such a contingency, lie knight have nothing
more dangerous to complain of, than a vote of disapprobation of
him and his friends. Such a House of Commons. had already •
been seen, and, perhaps, might be seen again ; and he would-in
that case be willing to compound on the part of his country,
that he alone, or even the very respectable body of his friends,
which at this clay formed a majority in his favour, might be the
victims of the pride and ambition of the right honourable
gentleman ; but that the present House should ever suffer them-
selves to be imposed on so far, as to sign their own condom-
nation, on the unfounded suggestions which had given rise.to
that day's debate, was an event that he never could fear. For,
if tile plainest legal analogies, the most obvious precedents in.
point, the strongest convictions of reasons and of right, together
with the pride of consistency, and the jealousy of incorruptible,
but insulted integrity, were not of themselves sufficient to. pre,
elude every possibility of a compliance with the present motion,
still there was another motive more binding on their feelings
and on their justice, (though in itself not of equal importance,)


which there could be no doubt would operate to confirm the
House in an adherence to its former principles ; this was the
situation into which the high bailiff of Westminster would be
betrayed by such a conduct. This man, on the credit and faith
of the House, had been reduced to proceed on the scrutiny :
for that proceeding he was now threatened with a penal action ;
and would the House, by rescinding the resolutions which had
formed the basis of the high bailiff's determination to prosecute.
that line of conduct which had subjected him to those threats,
seem, by abandoning the principles on which the whole pro-
ceeding had been founded, to prejudge a question which was to
be the object of a judicial inquiry ?

Here he took occasion to exult in the complexion of the pre-
sent House of Commons, which, notwithstanding the disadvan-
tages that attended its constitution from the imperfect mode of
its election, retained so much of the characteristic dignity of the
British nation, as it had evinced in every stage of its existence.
He attributed this, in a great measure, to the right honourable
gentleman*, and his colleagues in office, who, by pressing for-
ward a crisis, the most momentous and important any part of
our history presented, had roused every exertion of public spirit
that remained among the people, and had concentred the whole
weight of those exertions in the assembly before whom he had
the honour to stand. The present House of Commons, with a
manliness and liberality that became the representatives of a•
manly and a liberal people, had proceeded hitherto in the face
of all those prejudices which had so long bound down and re-

•straittedthe faculties of the nation, to the reform of all abuses
that militated against the great end of their free constitution.
He was still in hopes farther to see every local prepossession,
which now stood between the empire and its true interests,
vanish ; and he derived a flattering presage, from the character
of the House, that the great question which was nearest to' his
heart —that on which the whole and only prospect of a final
triumph over every obstacle to greatness and to glory depended

Mr. Pox,


that, alone, which could entitle Englishmen to the appellation
of free, and that alone, which could ensure to wise, to virtuous,
and to constitutional endeavours, a victory over factious ambi-
tion or corrupt venality—the great and stupendous question of
a parliamentary reform, would be taken up with a degree of de-
termined and upright boldness, that must soon be crowned with
success. In that case, he could not help flattering himself, that.
at the remote period to which the right honourable gentleman
looked forward for the completion of his meditated triumph, he
would, perhaps, find a parliament, that, like the present, should
speak the sense• of the people — of a people, who had in a most
specific and decided manner already passed judgment beween
him and the right honourable gentleman; and he warned gentle-
men, particularly those whom the right honourable gentleman had
so repeatedly marked with the most insolent contempt and invec-
tive, those new members, with whom the House was crowded on
$he opening of the session, " men, whose faces nobody was ac-
quainted with," how they trusted to those professions of regard
and affection, those meretricious blandishments, which one suc-
cessful day's good humour had drawn from the right honourable
gentleman, to lure theta into a dereliction of principle, a viola-
tion of law, and an undeserved self-condemnation !

An explanation afterwards from Mr. Pox, wherein he charged the as-.
sertions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as being false in fact, and
calculated solely for the purpose of rounding his periods to captivate
the House, induced Mr. Pm to rise again :

He was entirely satisfied, he said, that no person in that House
would believe him capable of inventing and throwing out any
charge or assertion whatsoever, for the purpose of " rounding
his periods." He desired the House to recollect whether the
expressions he had made use of in his speech, of the House
being crowded by " new members, men whose faces nobody was
acquainted with," had not fallen from the right honourable gen-
tleman ; whether he had not repeatedly endeavoured to depre-
ciate the respectability of the House by his repeated assertions,
that it had been chosen under a delusion, and that it seemed to

160 MR. PITT'S [Aram iS

act under a similar delusion ; and whether he had not repeatedly
thrown out the most pointed invectives against that East-India
phalanx which had absorbed and swallowed up all the faculties
of the executive government.

Here he was interrupted by Mr. Fox, who again positively denied
laving used the expression, " That the House was filled with faces
Which had' never been seen there before," and contradicted the charges
which the right honourable gentleman had advanced.

Mr. Pitt was proceeding to enter into a more minute detail of the
instances. of disrespect shewn by Mr. Fox to the House, when he was
called to order for alluding to what had passed in former debates; and
on the Speaker's interposing and stating that such allusions were dis-
orderly, and contrary to the rules of the House,

Mr. PITT rose once more, and assured the Speaker that he


was' not going to violate the established order ; but that he
thought it highly unbecoming in the right honourable gentle-
man to throw out such language as the House had just heard
language tending to fix the stigma of falsehood and dishonour
on a member of that House, at a time when his general denial
could not, by the orders of the House, be called into question.
That for his own part, being precluded from coming to the
proof of the truth of his assertions, he had only to 'rest satisfied,
that the memory of many gentlemen in the House, and his own
reputation, would do him justice. I cannot, he concluded,
enter farther into the reality of what I have advanced, but I
maintain it.

The question for rescinding the resolutions was negatived.
Ayes 157
Noes 242 •

April 18. 17.85.

Mr.Prr :r, in conformity to the notice he had given, again called the
attention of the House to the subject of a Reforinin the representation_
of the people:

In entering upon this subject, he said, he was aware of the divi-

sion of sentiment, .and of the pertinacity with which some men
adhered to opinions inimical to every species of reform. But he
rose with hopes infinitely more sanguine than he eve

• felt before,
and with hopes which lie conceived to be rationally and solidly
founded. There never was a moment when the minds of men
were more enlightened on this interesting topic than now; there
never was a moment when they were more prepared for its discus-
sion. A great many objections which from time to time had been
adduced against reform, would not lie against the propositions
which he intended to submit to the House; and the question was
in truth new in all its shape to the present parliament.

He was sensible of the difficulty there was now, and ever must
be, in proposing a plan of reform. The number of gentlemen
who were hostile to reform, were a phalanx, which ought to give
alarm to any individual upon rising to suggest such a measure.
Those, who, with a sort of superstitious awe, reverence the con-
stitution so much as to be fearful of touching even its defects,
had always reprobated every attempt to purify the representation.
They acknowledged its inequality and corruption, but in their en-
thusiasm for the grand fabric, they would not suffer a reformer,
with unhallowed hands, to repair the injuries which it suffered
from time. Others, who, perceiving the deficiencies that had
arisen from circumstances, were solicitous of their amendment
yet resisted the attempt, under the argument that when once
we had presumed to touch the constitution in one point, the awe
which had heretofore kept us back from the daring enterprise of
innovation might abate, and there was no foreseeing to what
alarming lengths we might progressively go, under the mask of
reformation. Others there were, but for these he confessed he
had not the same respect, who considered the present state of
representation as pure and adequate to all its purposes, and per-
fectly consistent with the first principles of representation. The
fabric of the House of Commons was an Aucient pile, on which
they had been all taught to look with reverence and awe from
their, cradles they had been accustomed- to view it as

a pattern

vol. 1.
• M.

MR. PITTS [limn 18.

of perfection ; their ancestors had enjoyed freedom and prospe-
rity under it ; and therefore an attempt to make any alterations
in it would be deemed, by some enthusiastic admirers of anti-
quity, as impious and sacrilegious. No one reverenced the vette,-
cable fabric more than he did; but all mankind knew that the
best institutions, like human bodies, carried in themselves the
seeds of decay and corruption, and therefore he thought himself
justifiable in proposing remedies against this corruption, which the
frame of the constitution must necessarily experience in the lapse
of years, if not prevented by wise and judicious regulations.

To men who argued in this manner, he did not presume to
address his propositions,• for such men he despaired of convinc-
ing ; but he had. well-grounded hopes, that in what he should
oiler to the House, he should be able to convince gentlemen of
the former descriptions, that though they had argued so strongly
against general and unexplained notions of reform, their argu-
ments would not weigh against the precise and explicit proposi-
tion which it was his purpose to submit to them. The objection
to reform under the idea of innovation, would not hold good
against his suggestion, for it was not an innovation on any known
and clear principle of the- constitution. Their objection to re-
form, because it might introduce habits of change and alteration,
of which no man could foresee the extent or termination, would
be equally inapplicable to his plan, for in his mind it would be
complete and final. In his mind, it would comprehend all that a
rational reformer would think it necessary now or at any time to
do, and would therefore give no licence to future or more exten-
sive schemes. The argument, that no alteration of the number
of members composing the House ought at any time to be suf-
fered, and that no reform of the representation in what was em-
phatically called the corrupt parts, ought to be accomplished by
an act of power, would be equally inapplicable ; for, by his pro-
position, he meant to lay it down as a first principle that the
number of the House ought to remain the same, and that the
reform of decayed boroughs ought not to proceed on disfran-
chisement. This, he said, was the third effort made by him since
he had the honour of a seat in pailiament, to prevail upon the


legislature to adopt a reform in the representation of the people.
He had twice failed in his endeavours to effect this salutary pur-
pose, and yet he was not discouraged from renewing them this
day : he was encouraged by two circumstances which he had not
in his favour on the former occasions. The reform which he now
meant to propose, was more consistent with the views of the best
and most moderate men ; and this was a new House of Commons,
that had never been consulted on the subject of reform, and con-
sequently:, had not, like the two last, negatived a proposition made
for introducing it. Therefore, though the subject might be
thought stale by the public, as it had been so frequently agitated
it was perfectly new to the House of Commons which he had
then the honour to address.

That gentlemen should have set themselves against general and
unqualified notions of reform he did not much wonder ; and that
they should be still more inimical to the vague, impracticable,
and inconclusive chimeras which had been thrown out at different
times by different reformers, he was not astonished. Reve-
rencing the constitution, and feeling all the pride of an English-
man on the experience of its beauty, even with all its blemishes,
it was no wonder that gentlemen should be alarmed at sugges-
tions which were founded on no principle, and which admitted
of no limit. But there were certain propositions, in which he had
reason to think that all men must coincide. If there were any spe-
cific means of purifying the state of representation on its first prin-
ciple, without danger of altering the fabric, and without leaving it
either in uncertainty or disorder, such means ought, with becom-
ing caution, to be used. On this clear and indisputable proposi-
tion it was that he wished to go. It was because he imagined that
a plan might be formed congenial with tile first principles of repre-
sentation, which would reform the present. inadequate state, and
provide in all future times for as adequate and perfect a state of
representation as they could expect to arrive at, in the present cir-
cumstances of the country. He was aware, when he spoke in
this manner, that the idea of general and complete representation
so as to comprehend every individual, and give him his personal

DI 2 .


share in the legislature of the country, was a thing incompatible
with the population and state of the kingdom. The practical de-
finition of what the populur branch of our legislature was at this
day, he took to be precisely this : An assembly freely elected,
between whom and the mass of the people there was the closest
union and most perfect sympathy. Such a House of Commons
it was the purpose of the constitution originally to erect, and such
a House of Commons it was the wish of every reformer now to
establish. Those who went farther—those who went to ideas of
individual representation, deluded themselves with impossibilities,
and took the attention of the public from that sober, and prac-
ticable path in which they might travel safely, and with ease, to
launch them into an unbounded sea, where they had no pilot to
direct, and no star to guide them.

Solicitous as he was of reform, he never could countenance
vague and unlimited notions. It was his wish to see the House
adopt a sober and practicable scheme, which should have for its
basis the original principle of representation, and should produce
the , object which every lover of our constitution must have in
view—a House of Commons between whom and the people there
should exist the same interest, and the most perfect sympathy and
union. It was his purpose to see an arrangement made, which,
while it corrected the present inadequate state of representation,
should keep it adequate when made so, and should give to the
constitution purity, consistency, and, if possible, immortality.
Such was the sanguine idea which he entertained from his project,
and such he trusted would be the sentiment of the House upon
its exposition. Whatever argument might be adduced against its
practicability, and what against its expediency, he trusted that
the old argument of innovation would not be alleged. As he.
had said, it was not an innovation; and he was sure that gentle-
men would agree with him in this sentiment, when they turned
their eyes with him back to the earliest periods of our history,
and traced the practice of our ancestors in the purest days.

He considered it on such a review, as one of the most indispu-
table doctrines of antiquity, that the state of representation was


to be changed with the change of circumstances. As far back
as the period of the reign of Edward L, which was the first time
when they could trace distinct descriptions of men in the repre-
sentation, the doctrine of change was clearly understood. The
counties were not uniform ; the number of members was fre-
quently varied: and from that period to the reign of Charles II.,
there were few reigns in which representation was not varied, and
in which it did not undergo diminutions or fluctuations of some
kind or other. Those changes were owing to the discretion which
was left in the executive branches of the legislature, to summon
or not to summon whom they pleased to parliament. The execu-
tive branch of the legislature was vested with this discretion on no
other principle, than that the places, which might for the time
being have such a share in the general scale of the people, as
should entitle them, or rather subject them, to the duty of send-
ing members to the representative body, might be appointed to
do so. In this very discretionary power the principle ofalteration
was visible, and it manifested the original notion which our fore-
fathers had of representation to be this : — That whereas it was
impossible that every individual of a populous countrycould make
choice of a representative, the task should be committed to such
bodies of men as might be collected together in communities in
the several districts of the kingdom : and as such communities
must from their nature be fluctuating and moveable, that the
crown should have the discretion of pointing out which of them
were proper from their size and scale, to execute this duty for the
rest. Every man must acknowledge that to have exercised this
discretion otherwise than soundly, must have been a high grie-
vance; and he needed not to say, that if it were now vested in
the crown, and that ministers might fix on such places as they
pleased for the choice of members, there was not a man in Eng-
land who would not consider the liberties of his country as
extinguished. Such discretion, however, did exist, and he men-
tioned it to shew, that principles in representation had been
departed from, and had their existence no longer. The argument
against change was an argument against the experience of every

m 3

166 AIR. PITT'S [APRIL 18.

period of our history. There had not been of late any addition
to the county share in the representation, except, indeed of the
palatines, of the principality of Wales, and of another addition
which had been made since the period at which it was common
to say that our constitution was fixed, the Revolution, namely, the
addition of all that part of the United Kingdom called Scotland.

But in the borough representation the changes had been infi-
nitely more common. Gentlemen had undoubtedly read, that, of
the boroughs which used formerly to send members to parliament,
seventy-two had been disfranchised, that was to say, that the
crown had ceased to summon them at general elections to return
burgesses to the House tof Commons. After the restoration,
thirty-six of these boroughs petitioned parliament to be restored
to the exercise of their ancient franchise; their prayer was granted,
and to this day they continue to enjoy it. But the other thirty-
six, not having presented any petition on the subject, had not
recovered their lost franchise. Upon this he would be bold to say,
that, considering the restoration of the former, and the continued
deprivation of the latter, the spirit of the constitution had been
grossly violated, if it was true (but which he denied) that the exten-
sion to one set of boroughs of the franchise of returning members
to parliament, and the resumption of it from others, was aviolation
of the constitution. For if the numbers could not originally have
been constitutionally increased, so they could not constitutionally
have been diminished. But having been once diminished, to re-
store them might by some be said to make an innovation ; and if
the parliamenthad anyauthority to restore the franchise, the prin-
ciple of restoration ought to have been extended to the seventy-
two boroughs, and not confined to one half of them. Here then
it appeared manifest, that the whole was governed by a principle
which militated directly against the modern doctrine, that to do
what had been constantly done for ages, by the wisest of our an-
cestors, was to innovate upon the constitution. The seventy-two
boroughs in question had discontinued to return members,. be-
cause they had fallen into decay. Thirty-six of them afterwards
recovered their franchise, when they recovered their former


wealth and population ; but the other thirty-six, not having
renovated their former vigour and consequence in the state,
remained to this day deprived of the franchise which had been
taken from them, when they lost the wealth and population, on
account of which they bad originally obtained it.

Why then was there a greater objection to any change in the
representation of certain boroughs now, than there had been in
former periods ? Why were they more sacred now than the
thirty-six boroughs which had been disfranchised, and which had
no share at present in the representation of the country ? The
arguments that influenced gentlemen against any change at this
time, would have equally operated against the thirty-six boroughs
which had from time to time been extinguished, as well as against
the same number, which, having been abolished, were from a
change of their circumstances, reinstated in their privilege. In
those earlier periods, such was the notion of representation, that
as one borough decayed, and another arose, the one was abo-
lished, and the other invested with the right; and alterations took
place from accident or caprice, which, however, so far as they
went, stood good and valid. The alterations were not made by
principle ; they did not arise from any fixed rule laid down and
invariably pursued, but they were founded in that notion which
gave the discretionary power to the crown ;

viz. that the principal
places, and not the decayed boroughs, should be called upon to
exercise the right of election.

He contended, therefore, that the same notion should nowpre-
vail, but that it should be rescued from that accident and caprice
in which it bad before been involved ; that the alteration should
be made on pri:leiple ; and that they should establish this as a
clear and external axiom in representation—that it should always
be the same—that it should not depend upon locality or name, but
upon number and condition, and that a standard should be fixed
for its size. He would submit to the world which of the two was
most anxious for the preservation of the original principle of the
constitution, he who was for maintaining the exterior, and name
of representation, when the substance was gone, or he, who pre-

:e 4



ferring the substance and reality of representation to the name and
exterior, was solicitous of changing its 'seat from one part of the
country to another, as one place might flourish and another
decay? It was his idea, that if they could deduce any good prin-
ciples from theory, and apply them to practice, it was their duty
to do so. It was then the theory, and it had been the practice,
in all times, to adapt the representation to the state of the coun-
try ; and this was exactly what it was his intention to recommend
to the House. Now and in all future time to adapt the repre-
sentation to the state of the country, was the idea of reform
which he entertained.

Perhaps gentlemen would be apt to exclaim that this contra-
dicted the declaration with which he set out, viz. that the plan
which he meant to propose would be final and complete. When
they came, however, to hear the whole of his idea, he trusted they
would find that his proposition had in view not only an immediate
reform, but that it comprehended an arrangement which must
operate in all future time, and provide for the changes which in
the nature of things must incessantly arise-in a country like Bri-
tain. He wished to establish a permanent rule to operate like the
discretion, out of which our present constitution had sprung.
That discretion would 'be very improper to exist now, though in
ruder times it was not so dangerous, when representation was
rather a burthen than a privilege, rather a duty than an object of
ambition. For that discretion he was no advocate; but he wished
to-remind gentlemen, that that discretionary power had never been
wrested from the hands of the executive branch of the legislature,
and that to this day there existed but the act of union to prevent
the crown from adding to or diminishing the number of that
House. By the act of union, the proportionate numbers for the

two parts of the kingdom were fixed, and from the date of that
act, but not till that act, the discretion of the crown was at an end.

The argument of withstanding all reformation, from the fear of
the ill consequences that might ensue, made gentlemen come to
a sort of compromise with themselves. " We are sensible of cer-
tain defects:; we feel certain inconveniencies in the present state of

representation ; but fearing that we may make it worse by alter-
ation, we will be content with it as it is." This was a sort of
argument to which he could not give his countenance. If gentle-
men had at all times been content with this doctrine, the nation
would have lost much of that excellence of which our constitution
now had to boast. Who would say but that the excellence of the
constitution was the fruit of constant improvement ? To prove
this fact required but little illustration. It was, for instance, a
first principle in our constitution, that parliament should meet as
frequently as the exigencies of the state should require. This was
a clear principle, but the periods were ,not fixed. Practice, how-
ever,' had improved on this principle, and now it was established
that parliament should annually meet.

Something like that which he meant now to recommend, did
take place in very early periods of our history. It was remark-
able that James I., a prince who mounted the throne with high
ideas of prerogative, and who was not to be suspected of being
too partial to the liberties of the subject, stated, in his first pro-
clamation for calling a parliament, that the sheriffs of the counties
should not direct such boroughs to send members, as were so ut-
terly ruined as to be incapable or unentitled to contribute their
share to the representation of the country. Another period of
our history, which, whatever objection he might have to its gene-
ral principles, had given rise to many salutary laws ; he meant
in the days of Cromwell : it was declared by the Protector that
there should be a greater proportion of knights than of burgesses
in the House of Commons. He mentioned this authority, ( for which,
as he said, he had, in the general, no great reverence, whose op-
position to Charles I. began in licentiousness, and proceeded, as
licentiousness always did, to tyranny,) because it would show, that
whatever was his respect for the constitution of the country, his
opinion evidently was, that representation should be proportioned
to the people represented. Lord Clarendon, in speakinc, of the
plan of Cromwell, had said, and it was to be found in his writings,
" that it was worthy of a more warrantable authority, and of bet-
ter times." From these circumstances, he thought that a doubt

MR. PITT'S [Arnit 18.

could not be left on the mind, but that it always had been the
principle of representation that it should change with the changes
which the country might endure, and that it should not be merely
governed by exterior and local considerations.

Feeling, therefore, that this was the clear principle of represent-
ation, he begged the House to remember, that he had told them
in the outset that his plan was free from the objection of altering
the number of the House, and also from the objection of making
any change in the boroughs by disfranchisement : his plan con-
sisted of two parts ; the one was more immediate than the other,
but they were both gradual. The first was calculated to procure
an early, if not an immediate change of the representation of the
boroughs ; and the second was intended to establish a rule, by
which the representation should change with the changes of the
country. It was the clear and determined opinion of every specu•
latist, that there should be an alteration of the present proportion
between the counties and boroughs, and that, in the change, a
larger proportion of members should be given for the populous
places, than for places that had neither property nor people.

It was therefore his intention to submit to the House to provide,
that the members of a certain number of boroughs of the last de.
scription, that is, ofboroughs decayed, should be distributed among
the counties. He would take the criterion, by which he should
judge what boroughs were decayed, from the number of houses ;
and this was a mode of judgment which was not liable to error,
and which he conceived to be perfectly consistent with the origi-
nal principle of representation. He should propose, that these
members should be transferred to the counties, beginning with
those that stood in the greatest need of addition. Such a reform
as this was in its nature limited ; for, if once the standard for the
lowest county was fixed, the proportion for all must be the same,
and it would be impossible to add more for any one county than
for the rest. In this view of the business, he imagined, that the
House would agree with him in thinking, that there were about
thirty-six boroughs so decayed, as to come within the scheme of
such an operation. Seventy-two would therefore be the number

of members to be added to the counties, in such proportion as
the wisdom of parliament might direct, and this number it was
his intention to propose should be fixed and unalterable. The
operation should be gradual, as he intended that the boroughs
should be disfranchised, on their own voluntary application to
parliament. Gentlemen must be aware that a voluntary appli-
cation to parliament was not to be expected without an adequate
consideration being given to the boroughs ; and he trusted that
gentlemen would not start at the idea of such a consideration
being provided for. A reform could only be brought about by
two means —by an act of power, or by an adequate consideration
which might induce bodies or individuals to part with rights which
they considered as a species of valuable inheritance, or of per-
sonal property. To a reform by violence, he, and he was sensible
many others, had an insurmountable objection ; but he consi-
dered a reform in the representation of the people an object of
such value and importance, that he did not hesitate in his own
mind to propose and to recommend to the House the establish-
ment of a fund for the purpose of purchasing the franchise of
such boroughs as might be induced to accept of it under the
circumstances which he had mentioned.

It might be asked what the consideration could be for such a
franchise. He knew there was a sort of squeamish and maiden
coyness about the House in talking on this subject ; they were
not very ready to talk in that House, on what, at the same time
it was pretty well understood, out of doors they had no great ob-
jection to negociate, the purchase and the sale of seats. But he
would fairly ask gentlemen, if these sorts of franchises were not
capable of being appreciated ? and whether, notwithstanding all
the proud boast of its being an insult to an Englishman to ask,
him to sell his invaluable franchise, there were not abundance of
places where, without imputing immorality to any individual,
such franchise might be purchased ? Could it not be proved,
that in this country estates so situated as to command an in-
fluence in a decayed or depopulated borough, and to have the
power of returning two members to parliament, sold for more
money than they would have done if situated in any other place,

172 MR. PITT'S
[A PRIL 18:

however luxuriant the soil might be, however productive its
harvests? Unless, indeed, its harvests could occasionally produce
A couple of members, its intrinsic value was less. There were
many reasons why men might be induced to surrender this fran-
chise. In some instances, where the right of returning members,
was attached to the possession of an estate, and where it might
be considered as an inheritance, giving to the possessor the power
of doing so much good to his country, he might warrantably and
honourably accept of a valuable consideration, since by the use
of the equivalent, he might be equally serviceable to the com-
munity. In some instances, persons enjoyed the franchise in con-
sequence of a life-right ; and enjoying it only for their lives,
interest would naturally induce them to accept of a consideration;
others enjoyed it by a still more ttemporary ene, merely by
the circumstance of local residence ; and to them,


therefore, it

must be an opportunity which they would covet to embrace.
Seeing the matter, therefore,, in these points of view, he had no
doubt, in his own mind, but that the boroughs to which he
alluded would voluntarily surrender their franchise to parliament

on such consideration
being given. He should propose that the

fund to be established should he divided into two parts, and
that it should be stipulated that a larger sum should be given
for perpetuities than for temporary rights. He had stated be-
fore, that this operation would not be immediate, at least to the
full extent : for he had reason to believe that it would neither be

slow nor distant.
The second part of his plan was to provide, that, after the full

and final operation of the first proposition, that is, after the ex-
tinction of thirty-six boroughs, and the transfer of their mem-
bers to the county representation, if there still should remain any
borough so small and so decayed as to fall within the size to be
fixed on by parliament, such borough should have in its power to
surrender its franchise on an adequate consideration, and that the
right of sending the members to parliament should be transferred
to such populous and flourishing towns as might desire to enjoy
the right ; and that this rule should remain good, and operate .in
all future time, and be applied to such boroughs as, in the fluctu-


ating state of a manufacturing and commercial kingdom, might
fail into decay in one part of the country, and rise into condition
in another. These propositions, taken together, comprehended
what he conceived to be a final and complete system, and which
would ease the minds of gentlemen with respect to any future
scheme of reform being attempted, or being necessary. This
was not a plan of reform either fluctuating or changeable. It
was not subject to the argument, that the stirring of this question
would lead to endless innovations, and that when once involved
in change, there was no foreseeing where we might stop : nor
was it subject to the objection that it was an innovation ; for
he had very much failed in making his own ideas intelligible
to the House, if he had not shewn them that it was a plan in
every respect congenial, not only with the first principle, but
with the uniform practice of the constitdtion. These arguments,
therefore, he trusted, would not be brought against his plan.
The argument whether his propositions were practicable, whether
they were susceptible of an easy and early execution, he should
be happy to hear and to discuss. But all the arguments that
had from time to time been brought against general and unex-
plained notions, as they were not applicable, he trusted they
would not be adduced.

He anticipated several objections, Which, when the propositions
came to be discussed in the detail, he should be happy to meet
and to combat. The first, he supposed, would be the argument
of the expense. Certainly it would always be wise and proper for
that House to guard against wild and chimerical schemes and
speculations, which might involve their constituents in additional
burthens ; but he did not believe that, in amatter so dear and
important to Englishmen, they would be intimidated from em,
bracing it by the circumstance of the cost. He conceived it to
be above price ; it was a thing which the people of England could
not purchase too highly. Let gentlemen set the question in its
proper point of view ; let them oppose to the expense, however
great, the probable, and indeed the almost certain, advantages to
accrue from it, and then they would see how little the argument

MR. PITT'S [Aran, IS.

of economy ought to weigh against the purificatio n of the popular

branch of the legislature. If there always had been a House of
Commons who were the faithful stewards of the interests of their
country, the diligent checks on the administration of the finances,
the constitutional advisers of the executive branch of the legis-
lature, the steady and uninfluenced friends of the people, he
asked, if the burthens which the constituents of that House were
now doomed to endure, would have been incurred ? 'Would
the people of England have suffered the calamities to which
they had lately been made subject? And feeling this great and
Melancholy truth, would they consider the divestment of any
sum as an object, when by doing so, such a House of Commons
might be ascertained? lle did not, therefore, think that the
argument of the expense would be much insisted on, nor indeed
would the expense be so great as, on the first blush of the
matter, gentlemen might be apt to imagine.

Another objection that he foresaw was, that the operation
would be but gradual, and its full and final accomplishment at
least be distant. This, however, was not an objection that
could have much weight. He did not believe that the operation
would either be slow or very distant : he had stated to the House
several reasons to shew that the different descriptions of men
would have an interest in accepting the conditions to be offered

by parliament
; and in the fluctuating state of property, and in

the almost constant necessities of men, he argued, that the offer
of the consideration would from time to time be irresistible.
He was sanguine, perhaps, in saying, that, before next parlia-
ment, the benefit of this plan might be felt, and in the mean
time, this objection of the plan being gradual, would be less
regarded, from the confidence which the people of England had
in their present representatives. They would wait with patience
for the operation of this arrangement, from the confidence which
they had in the truth and character of the present parliament.
It•as elected under circumstanceswhich mae it dear to Engli

men ; it had not yet forfeited the confidence of the


and he was warranted in presuming that, with such a House .Of

of Commons, the constituent body would not be eager for the
immediate accomplishment of this reform.

Ile said, that in the proposed change of representation, and
in adding seventy-two members to the counties, he fbreot in the
proper place to mention, that it was his wish to add to the
number of the electors in those counties. There was no good
reason why copvholders should not be admitted to the exercise
of the franchise as well as freeholders. Their property was as
secure, and, indeed, in some instances, more so than that of the
freeholders ; and such an accession to the body of electors would
give an additional energy to representation. He conceived that
the addition of seventy-two members would be as much as it
would be proper to give to the proportion between county and
borough. These seventy-two members would be divided between
the counties and the metropolis, as nothing could be more evi-
dent than that the cities of London and Westminster, as well as
the counties, had a very, inadequate share in the representation
of the kingdom. To give to the counties and the metropolis a
a greater addition than seventy-two members or thereabouts,
would be the means of introducing disorders into the election
snore injurious than even its present inadequacy.

He needed not, he believed, enumerate the arguments that pre-
sented themselves to his mind in favour of a reform. Every gen-
tleman who had taken pains to investigate the subject, must see
that it was most materially wanted. To conquer the corruption
that existed in those decayed boroughs, would be acknowledged
an impossible attempt. The temptations were too great for po-
verty to resist, and the consequence of this corruption was so
visible, that some plan of reforming the boroughs had clearly
become absolutely necessary. In times of calamity and distress,
how truly important was it to the people of this country that the
House of Commons should sympathise with themselves, and that
their interests should be indissoluble? It was most material
that the people should have confidence in their own branch of
the legislature ; the force of the constitution, as well as its
beauty, depended on that confidence, and on the union and
sympathy which existed between the constituent and yepresen,

tative. The source of our glory and the muscles of oar strength
were the pure character of freedom, which our constitution
bore. To lessen that character, to taint it, was to take from
our vitals a part of their vigour, and to lessen not only our im-
portance, but our energy with our neighbours.

If we looked back to our history, we should find that the.

periods of its glory and triumph were those in which

the House of Commons had the most complete confidence in
their ministers, and the people of England the most complete
confidence in the House of Commons. The purity of repre-
sentation was the only true and permanent source of such con-
fidence; for though occasionally bright characters had arisen,
who, in spite of the general corruption and depravity of the
day, in which they lived, had manifested the superior influence
of integrity and virtue, and had forced both parliament and

people to countenanc e
their administration; yet it would be un-

wise for the people of England to leave their fate to the chance
of such characters often arising, when prudence must dictate
that th.e. certain way of securing their properties and freedom
was to purify the sources of representation, and to establish
that strict relation between themselves and 'the House of
Commons, which it was the original idea of the constitution to
create. He hoped that the plan which he had mentioned was
likely to re-establish such a relation; and he recommended to
gentlemen not to suffer their minds to be alarmed by unneces-
sary fears. Nothing was so hurtful to improvemen t

as the fear

of being carried farther than the principle on which a person

It was common for gentlemen to reason with themselves, andset out.

to say that they would have no objection to go so far and no
farther, if they were sure, that, in

countenancing the first step,

they might not
either be led themselves, or lead others farther

than they intended to go. So much they were apt to say was

right—so far they would go —of such a scheme they approved

but fearing that it might be carried too far, they desisted from
doing even what they conceived to be proper. He deprecated
this conduct, and hoped that gentlemen would come to the con-


sideration of this business, without fearing that it would lead to
consequences that would either ruin or alarm us. He begged
pardon for having troubled the House so long ; he wished to
put them in possession of all his ideas on the important subject,
though he was aware, that until the matter came to be argued
in the detail, it was impossible for him to foresee all the objec-
tions that might be started. He should therefore conclude for
the present with moving,

" That leave.
be given to bring in a bill to amend the repro,

sentation of the people of England in parliament."

The question was negatived,

Noes 24a

May 5. 1785.
DEBATE on Mr. Francis's motion, for appointing a committee to take

into consideration the several lists and statements of the East-India
company's establishments in India, that had been laid before the House
during the present year.

Mr. Fox strongly supported the motion, and expressed much surprise
at seeing any opposition offered to it. Whilst he was proceeding in.
some severe remarks upon the delusive statement of the East-India direc-
tors, which he asserted was of a piece -, with the whole conduct of those
in office, Mr. Pitt and the Master of the Rolls were observed to laugh:
upon which Mr. Fox said, with considerable warmth, " he saw he was
treated with personal indecency by the right honourable gentleman, and
by another honourable gentleman, whose indecency was a matter of
mere indifference to him. He disregarded the incivility of such conduct,
and held it in contempt It was sufficient for him to be convinced he
was completely in the right on the question of finance discussed the other
day.* So convinced was he of this, that he,

would risk his reputation
on the two statements; and he thanked God a time would come when
they would have an opportunity of knowing who was in the right, and

On the 29th of April, when Mr. Fox moved for a committee to in-
vestigate the financial statements of Mr. Pitt; which motion was re,
jetted by the House.


MR. 1)17178.' [AprtiL 18.

mr,. PITT'S [MAY 5.

who.wasin the Wrong in that matter, in like manner as they had that
day had an opportunity of detecting the fallacies arid falsehoods of the
former estimates of the directors of the East-India'company."

Mr. PITT rose, and began his speech by replying to that part
of Mr. Fox's, in which he had complained of being treated with
indecency. He observed, that, considering the extreme deco-
rum which at all times distinguished the arguments of the right
honourable gentleman, considering the coolness and moderation
of his language, together with the measured propriety of his
manner, he had certainly a very substantial ground of complaint,
if any thing like disrespect and indecency were offered to him.

own part, as it was far front his intention to be guilty of

such a breach of good breeding, he was ready to do on that oc-

casion what he had seldom done before, and what
he believed

he should seldom do in future, namely, to make him an apology.
This he was the more willing to do, as it would afford hint an
opportunity of explaining to the House the nature of the alleged

offence, acid the cause which had given rise to it.
He had long, he said, admired the great abilities, and the

surprising powers of argument and eloquence with which the
right honourable gentleman was so eminently endowed ; but there .

were also other qualifications belonging to him which had not
escaped his wonder, in the general view and contemplation of

his character .
It was, he said, the display of sonic of those

qualifications during his late speech that had given occasion to
that conduct, for which the House had just then heard him so
severely censured. The right honourable gentleman finding the
present question not applicable to any of his favourite purposes,
had, with his usual ingenuity, and agreeably to his usual prac- .
tice, contrived to introduce another subject, better calculated
to afford him an opportunity of gratifying his passions and re-
sentnients, and of giving vent to those violent and splenetic emo-
tions to Which his present situation so

naturally gave birth ; --- a

situation, in which, to the torments of baffled hope, of wounded
pride, and disappointed ambition.

, was added the mortifying re- +

ilection, that to the improvident and intempera
te use be bad




made of his power and influence, while they lasted, he could
alone attribute the cause of all those misfortunes to Which lie
was used so constantly, so pathetically, but so unsuccessfully,
to solicit the compassion of the House. Feeling, as he did, for
the right honourable gentleman, he declared, that he should
think it highly unbecoming in him to consider any of his trans-
ports, any of those extacies of a mind labouring under the ag-
gravated load of disappointment and self-upbraiding which at
present were his lot, as objects of any other emotion in his
breast than that of pity, certainly not of resentment, nor even
of contempt. -

What the particular action or expression of countenance was,
that had given such uneasiness to the right honourable gentleman,
he could not well explain to the House, but he remembered, that
at the time, it proceeded from no other impulse of his mind, than
that of surprise at the singular adroitness with which he found a
dry and insipid question of account converted into a subject for
such sublime and spirited declamation, as that with which the
House had just then been entertained ; and be could not but
think, that, considering all circumstances, there was great judg-
ment in the change which the right honourable gentleman had
made, as so Much better adapted to his purposes, his talents,
and his information. But though the right honourable gentle.
man had been so fortunate as to introduce a variety into the
debate, well calculated to display the lustre of his oratorical
capacity, he had unluckily hit upon a subject that in other re-
spects did him but little credit. He wondered that the right
honourable gentleman did not consider, that, in bringing back
the'recollection of the House to the object, on which he had
some few days ago engaged their attention, lie must also remind
them of the event of that day's debate, and serve to imprint
more lastingly on their minds the situation to which he had re.
duced himself by his conduct on that occasion — a situation,
which, were it his case, he confessed he should himself look
back to rather with humiliation and self-reproach, than with
pride and exultation. But he admired the fortitude and pink).

N 2

MR. PITT'S [May 5.

sophy with which the right. honourable gentleman persisted in
his favourite purpose, be it what it might, even though shame
and disgrace stood in his way. He drew, however, a happy
omen from the warmth with which he espoused the present
motion, and from the affinity which was endeavoured to be
established between it and the former motion, which had been
thus irregularly alluded to ; wishing that the consequence at-
tending this attack on the credit of the East-India company,
might be similar to that which had already followed the several
reiterated attacks on the public credit of the nation, viz. a great
and rapid increase in the value of the stocks. He lamented,
therefore, that the argument of this day could not be known in
India as speedily as that of the former was in England, because
by that means the happy effects of it would in that quarter be no
longer delayed. When he considered the latitude which the
right honourable gentleman had given himself in the use of his
expressions, and compared it with his extraordinary sensibility
to a silent and almost imperceptible relaxation of features, he
was inclined to suppose that the doctrine of the right honour-
able gentleman was; that a silent spectator ought to endeavour,
by all possible means, to avoid even a look that might give of-
fence, while he that was speaking had a right to consider him-
self as absolved from all the restraints of moderation, good
manners, or even common decency.

With respect to the motion before the House, he was sur-
prised to hear from the right honourable gentleman, that he had
not expected any opposition to it, until the order had been
given for strangers to withdraw ; for if he had listened to the
arguments of a right honourable friend * of his behind him; he
would have seen, that they were all founded on an idea that
such an opposition was intended; and he would take upon him
to say, that there never was a motion which merited anopposi-
tion more strongly than the present.

The two most obvious grounds for such a committee as was re-
quired, were either to ground on their report a charge of erimi-

Mr. Burke,



nality against the court of directors, (and a very high degree of
criminality it would be, if they should be found to have wilfully
attempted to deceive the House in their statement of the resources
and disbursements of the company,) or else to gratify an idle curi-
osity by an inquiry, which, when finished, would be wholly useless,
and inapplicable to any desirable purpose. With respect to the
directors beingliable to any charge for an intentional mis-statement
to the House, that, he observed, was entirely out of the question,
as the statement, which was alleged to be fallacious, was not a po-
sitive account of disbursements already made, and resources at the
time in being, but of what was expected to be the amount of both,
in case a circumstance, which was at the time shortly to have been
looked for, should take place, namely, the conclusion of a peace.
That peace having been deferred for nearly a year beyond the pe-
riod when it was expected to have taken place, had of course
made a material difference between the fact and the hopes of the
directors, by considerably increasing their disbursements, and
diminishing their resources. From hence tile inaccuracy of the
account, and the innocence of the directors, were perfectly re-
coecileable to each other ; for he presumed there was no gentle.
man would contend, that in a speculation of so uncertain and
distant a nature as the affairs of the East-India company, there
could be any criminality in being unable to foresee such acci-
dental events, as might naturally take place to derange an estimate
calculated without any view or prospect of such accidents. This
being the case, he must conclude, that the other motive, (that
of curiosity,) was that to which the House was indebted for the

. present motion. Such a motive as this he would by no means
give way to, when by so doing he should involve any number of
gentlemen in an unnecessary and troublesome inquiry. Such a
curiosity as this, if once indulged, would still continue to gain
ground and to increase, and at length, perhaps, the House would
be applied to, to appoint a committee to consider and make their
observations on every single dispatch that should arrive from
India. Indeed, if this principle of curiosity formed any part of
the system of parliamentary proceedings, he remembered a time

N 3

7,500, four of 5,000, twenty-three of 3,000, and so on till he
came to places of one thousand, which, he observed, were, in
comparison with the others, so trifling, as hardly to be worth
his mentioning.

There could, he said, be but one other motive for appointing
the committee, and that was, to discover the true state of the
company's affairs, in order to give them such relief as they
might appear to be in need of. If this was the idea on which it
was suggested, lie was surprised to find in the right honourable
gentleman so very forward and unusual a liberality towards.the
company ; for, setting aside the desperate attempts which he
already had alluded to, on their interests, he had, since that
period, made a most violent opposition to the granting of them
that relief which they applied for in the last session of parlia-
ment ; and now, when they demanded no such assistance, was
lie desirous of imposing it upon them against their consent,
though he had so recently endeavoured to withhold it from
them when they thought it necessary. Upon -the whole, he
concluded with saying, that if he had come down to the House
perfectly uninformed on the subject, he should, notwithstand-
ing, have learned enough from what he had already heard in
the course of the debate, to be able to make up his mind as to
the impropriety of appointing the committee ; a measure that
should therefore meet his most hearty negative.

The motion was negatived,
Ayes...... ......... 45


May 12. 1785.
THE House having resolved itself in to a committee of the whole House

on the commercial regulations proposed to be adopted between Great
Britain and Ireland,

Mr. PITT opened the business by desiring that the resolution
which he had formerly moved as the ground-work of the system
of intercourse between the two countries, might be read:

N 4,

MR. PITT'S DLO! .13..

when it might have been applied with peculiar propriety : he
thought there could not have offered a more interesting, nor a
more curious object of such an inquir y, than " what were the
motives upon which the right honourable gentleman Nd his
friends had fraMed their celebrate d

plan of East-India regulation

last year, and what might have been the effects naturally to be
expected from thence, had it been carried into execution ?"
When it was considered to what a surprising-extent the bold and
aspiring authors of that plan had endeavoured to carry it ; that
it embraced the whole of the executive government, the whole
of the patronage, and, in short, every political function •

of the

company, and transferred them all to the right honourable gentle-
man, in such a manner as to have secured to himself and his
friends a power over this country, as well as over that, which
should have continued to last, until, by a few more such experi,
inents on both, they had rendered either no longer worth the

; when it was considered that it had been complained of,

that one source of the calamities of the company proceeded
from the too great influence of patronage, and the abuses to
which it had been made instrumental, and yet, that, to cure
these abuses, that very influence from which they sprung was to
be increased to such an extent, and modelled in such a manner,
as to leave no hope of its not being used to much more danger-
ous purposes than any yet known, except from the acknowledged
immaculacy of the hallowed hands in which it was to be placed:
—under such circumstances, be contended, a parliamentary in-

quiry would have been a ,
most interesting and beneficial experi,

merit. He had, he said, in his hand, a list of the officers which
that famous bill made removable at pleasure, a few of which he
would mention to the House, in order that they might judge who•
ther the universal opinion which that business had given rise to,
of the evils likely to result from the increase of patronage, and

the placing that patronage in dangerous hands, could be called,
with any regard to the meaning of the word, a delusion — here be
read, besides the governors and council, one place of 25,000/.
per annum, one of 15,000, five of 10,000, five of 9,000, one of

MR. Vi'rr 8 [MA* 11.

Resolved, " That it is highly important to the general inte
rests of the British empire that the trade between Great Britain
and Ireland be encouraged and extended as much as possible ;
and, for that purpose, that the intercourse

and commerce be

finally settled and regulated, on permanent and equitable prin-
ciples, for the mutual benefit of both countries:"

He then said, that the attention of the committee having
been engrossed for so many weeks by the propositions, he flat-
tered himself their importance and magnitude were by this time
sufficiently impressed on their minds, to render it perfectly un-

for him to dwell upon that part of the subject. He

should, therefore, after the useless manner in which so much of
their time had been wasted, enter at once into the business; and
state to the committee the extent and object of his plan, en
deavouring to clear it from such misconceptions, and to obviate
such objections, as from the various interests that it was sup-
posed to affect, and the pains taken to alarm those interests, it

had necessarily become liable to.
He desired the House to recollect, among the many important

and extensive objects to which the legislature of this kingdom
had for some years past directed its attention, that the affairs of
Ireland; and the forming of a suitable arrangement between that
kingdom and this were the most considerable. A vast deal bad
already been clone in several preceding administratio ns ; and

though he was by no means inclined to censure the liberality of
former parliaments, or former ministers, yet he could not but
think, that if nothing more was to be done for Ireland, it would
have been more advisable not to have done any thing at all, or
at least not so much as had been done. In fact, if the British
parliament were to go no farther, all that had hitherto been
done was absolutely nugatory and useless ; for the advantages
Which were by those acts put into the hands of the Irish, were
such as they were unable to make use of, at least not in the de-
gree in which it was the avowed intention of parliament that they
should.. And would the people and the legislature of England

ondescend to assume a credit for what they had never bestowed,

and lay claim to the gratitude and love of a nation to whom
they bad made no concessions, but such as it was impossible for
her to avail herself of? His present plan, he said, was nothing
more than a necessary supplement to those which had formerly
been adopted, for the purpose of creating such a mutual interest
as should for ever preserve inviolate, and secure the connection
between the two countries : and he trusted, if it should be
found to have a tendency to so very desirable an end as that if
it should be found to add considerably to the general strength
and splendour of the empire ; if it should be found to contribute
a great and obvious augmentation to the welfare of Ireland,
and at the same time to maintain the interests of Great Britain
in every essential point, and in some instances considerably to
promote them ; that in that ease the opposition he should meet
with would be confined within very narrow limits.

The objections which he had generally observed to be made to
this plan, were such as appeared.to him either to be convincing
proofs of its propriety and necessity, or at least that they were
capable of an easy and complete refutation. He had desired
the proposed resolution to be .

read, in order that he might the
more easily lead the committee into his sentiments with regard
to the general arrangement, of which it was the foundation ;
and although there were several subsequent resolutions to follow
it, yet they were but the detail and formality of that principle
which was laid down in the former. This principle, then, he
would first explain by way of comment on that resolution, and
afterwards would go through the whole series of the propositions
from Ireland, applying to them such alterations, restrictions, and
modifications, as should still restrain them within the principle
now to be adopted, and at the same time free them from the
objections which those, who could not dissent from the principle,
had endeavoured to raise against the mode in which it was
intended to apply it.

The principle then was, " that a treaty should be concluded
with Ireland, by which that country should be put on fair,
equal, and impartial footing with Great Britain in point


With respect to the first, it had been frequently suggested in
behalf of a very respectable and very useful body of men, the
West-India merchants and planters, that should Ireland be per-
mitted to supply the British market with the produce of the
islands, they must necessarily run the risk- of being very consi-
derable sufferers in common with the rest of the people of Eng-
land. To this - suggestion he would reply, that Ireland, as he
had said before, might at this moment carry in Irish

- bottoms
the produce of the islands directly into Great Britain: she was
already in possession of that liberty, and had enjoyed it- ever
since the passing -of the navigation laws, which had- put Irish
ships, in that respect,. on a footing with British : it was therefore
-only by a circuitous trade fi

•orn the colonies, that any-new dan-
ger could accrue to their

- interests. And here he felt that the
apprehensions of the merchants and planters were best founded ;
for they feared that the Irish being once admitted to bring-to
England circuitously the produce of the British colonies, French
sugars and other goods, the growth of islands in the West In-
dies not belonging to this country, might be imported-into Eng-
land as British. It, was certainly his wish, as it was his•uty, to
guard against such a Mischief : the British West-India planters
were clearly entitled -to a monopoly of the English

market ; and

it would be -but justice to secure it to them, -aS far as laws and
regulations-could -give .

was upon this principle, then,

that he intended to propose certain regulations which 'would fully
answer -this end,'withont affecting in the smallest degree the spirit
of the Irish resolutions. He

. prop'oSed then in-the first placeethat
the committee shoUld'reSol*e that all the navigation laws actually
in "force in this kingdom, or-which it should be hereafter found
necessary to enact,- for the preservation of the ,

trade' of Great
Britain, should be in force in Ireland. Under these laws the
door Would be shut to -the importation of foreign West-India
goods, and consequently the-British- market would be secured
for British West-India commodities, to the exclusion of those
of foreign islands. In consequence of these laws it would be
necessary that every :

Irish vessel, arriving in Ireland from 'the

186 MR. PITT'S

[iVIAY 11.

of commerce, with respect to foreign countries and to our
colonies ; and as to the mutual intercourse between each
other, that this equality should extend to manufactures, to
importation, and to exportation, and that Ireland, in return
for this concession, should contribute a .share towards the
protection and security of the .general commerce of the em-
pire." In order to destroy the general prejudices entertained
against these propositions, it would be necessary for him only
to mention in what situation Ireland actually stood at that mo-
ment in point of commerce with respect to the world in general,
and Great Britain in particular. Ireland could at this moment
trade, with unlimited freedom, to -every foreign state in Europe,

y them with her own produce and manufacture, and carry

home in return the produce and manufacture of any country in
Europe. She was also at liberty to supply the British colonies
in the West Indies with her own commodities ; and by a . direct

trade homeward, furnish herself with the West-India goods. But
this was not all. She could also, at this moment, supply the
British market, by a direct trade to Britain, with the produce
of the British islands ; and this privilege was not of a recent
date : she had enjoyed it ever since the navigation laws were
framed. The only question arising now, relative to the West-India
commodities, was, that the Irish should in future be permitted
to bring into England, circuitously through Ireland, those goods
which they were at this instant at full liberty to import into this
country directly from the West Indies. But not to dwell any
farther on this point for the present, on which he intended here-
after to speak somewhat more at length, he observed, that the
adjustment which was now to -be proposed resolved itself natu-
rally into three parts, which might be ranged under three different
heads : 1st, The intercourse between the British West-India,.
islands and Ireland ; 2nd, between Great Britain and Ireland ;
Srd, exports of manufactures to foreign countries ; to which might
be added a 4th, which was rather • political, and-related to the

assistance that Ireland should contribute towards the support of

the navy of the empire.




West Indies, should be furnished. with a certificate that her cargo
was really the produce of a British West-India island ; and that
this certificate should be signed by the proper officer of,such
island. But it might be said, of what avail would laws be, if
the execution of them should be left to those who were not most
concerned in the due observance of them? He would answer,
that unquestionably if laws were not duly observed and obeyed,
they were of little use. But he did not conceive that entrusting
the execution of laws to persons not immediately under our
power, was a thing absolutely unprecedente d : this country re-
lied much upon the officers in the West-India islands, whose
duty it was to sign certificates ; and if they abused their power,
the danger, against which these certificates were to guard, would
necessarily arrive. He would not, however, trust to Irish offi-
cers for the execution of the navigation laws, but would propose
an :additional regulation, which, in his opinion, would satisfy
the planters ; and that was, that every ship from the West
Indies touching in Ireland should be obliged, on entering a port
in Great Britain, to produce the same original certificate which
she shoved in Ireland, and which she received from the proper
officer, on clearing out from the island at which she shipped her
cargo. This, he flattered himself, would answer the expectations
of the planters : for he did not suppose that the Irish would at-
tempt to import into their own country the produce of a French
island, with which they could not have a British certificate, and
without which it could not be admitted afterwards into England.

Some gentlemen seemed to apprehend that the British mer-
chants would be injured, if the Irish were left at liberty not only
to supply the English, but also foreign markets, with West-India
produce : but he did not see so much danger in the case as they
did. For in the first place, it was, from a number of circum-
stances, highly improbable that the Irish would supply the
English market to any great extent with West-India goods :
probably the principal consequenc e of this liberty might be, that
the Irish merchant would be encouraged to speculate a _little
more than he did at present, and bring home a greater quantity

of West-India produce than might be necessary for his own mar-
ket, in hopes that a scarcity might happen in England, and then
he might send in the goods he had thus laid in upon speculation.
This certainly was possible, but it was barely so, and he did not
conceive that it could happen frequently. It might occur oftener,
that the Irish merchant would, in case of scarcity on the conti-
nent, have an opportunity of supplying foreign countries, which
would otherwise be supplied from England. But though, what-
ever might be thus gained by the Irish, would be taken from the
British merchants, yet he hoped the loss would be rated very low,
when it was recollected that this sacrifice would procure lasting
friendship and harmony with Ireland ; it would knit together the
two great limbs, the remaining great members of the British em-
pire, and bind them fast in bonds of eternal amity. To Ireland
he did not wish to make this boon trifling and insignificant : he
did not indeed think it was such as would do this country essential
injury ; but it would nevertheless procure to Ireland substan-
tial good ; and therefore he trusted it would be given cheer-
fully by the one as the best proof of affection and friendship,
and be received by the other as a mark of that regard and
community of interests which ought to subsist between the two
countries, connected as England and Ireland are by the dearest
ties. This regulation, however, did not stop here ; he intended
to propose farther, that all ships coming from Ireland to Eng-
land with West-India produce should also be furnished with
cockets, and give bonds in the same manner as coasting ships in
England were bound to do. If Ireland should thus enjoy the
benefit of the colony trade, it was but fit the colonies should
derive some benefit in return ; and therefore he would propose
an amendment in the second of the Irish resolutions, which
allows a drawback on exportation of all the duties laid on im-
portation into either country ; and the amendment was an
exception from this allowance of drawback on all spirits not the
produce of the British colonies in the West Indies.

There was, besides, he observed, another branch of foreign
commerce which demanded regulation, and which, in some

190 MR

. PITT'S [MAY 12

degree, might be considered as allied to that_of which he was
speaking, and that was the trade to the East Indies. That trade,
he observed, being by charter exclusively- the property of the
East-India company, there was no possibility of giving a share of
it particularly and nominally to the Irish ; on that subject, how-
ever, he was not very uneasy, as he was fully satisfied in his own
mind, that, to suffer the East-India trade to remain in its pre-
sent channel, was by no means a departure from the system that.
was now under discussion, a system of an equat and reciprocal
participation of commercial benefits with Ireland. As long as
the legislature of this country thought it advisable to suffer that
trade to be exclusively engrossed by the company, Ireland had
no better right to complain of the exclusion than-one of our own
out-ports, or even an individual merchant. Still, though he (lid
not see either the practicability or the expediencyof conceding

to Ireland a part of our East India trade, he thought it was fit
that certain regulations affecting that country should be relaxed,
in order to open a door for Ireland to proportional advantages,
from which, by these regulations, she had been excluded. Thus,
he would have the East-India company empowered to take in
such part of their outward-bound cargo as they might find con-
venient, in the ports of Ireland, and also to import directly from
the East Indies suoh part of the produce of that country as they

might think proper.
He then recapitulated what he had already laid before the

House, enumerating the several objections which had been taken
to that part of his plan that related to the colony trade, together
with the several resolutions he meant to propose, in-order to
overturn such objections ; and then, calling the recollection of
the House to the period when the principal part of the com-
mercial concessions were made to Ireland; he desired them to
recollect the serious alarm which the demands of that kingdom
at that time gave rise to, and to consider whether those alarms
had not been found futile and groundless, though at first taken
up as loudly, and extending as widely as the present ; whether,
having experienced how beneficial our bounty had already been



to that country, at the same time that it had been of no prejudice
to this, they ought to stop short now, at a time when so very
little more would accomplish the whole, and when that little
was necessary to give effect and operation to what had been done
already. But he expected, that if any opposition were to be
made to this measure, it might not come from a quarter which
had already given so much, as to render the remainder not worth
withholding, or if it were, not possible to be- withheld. Above
all,he hoped, that gentlemen would not_ oppose him on such
grounds ; .as they must expose their own former arrangements to
a great degree of censure, and involve, in their disapprobation of
the present measure, a condemnation of those acts of which they
themselves had already been the authors. What he meant to
allude to, was the objection, that as a considerable part of his
plan would necessarily depend on an adjustment of duties, draw-
backs, and bounties, that adjustment washable to so many errors;
as to render sit extremely uncertain and dangerous to place
any dependence on the accuracy with which it could he done.
In the first place, he flattered himself there was no person who
would take upon himself to say that such an adjustment was
absolutely impracticable, nor, for his own part, did he think it
even in •any great degree difficult ; but whether it was difficult,
Or whether it was impracticable, it was a part of the system on
which the noble lord in the blue ribband* had founded his
former arrangement of that portion of the colony trade which,
in his administration, had been given to Ireland. That concession
had been made upon the _same principle as the present, that Of
equalization between the two countries ; nor could he see any
reason why such an equalization could be less carried into effect
upon the present than on the former occasion.'

Such, he said, were the outlines of the first part of his system,
and which, accompanied by the necessary safeguards and regula-
tions, he wished the House to adopt. We had hitherto bound,
he observed, the friend we ought to -cherish ; we had treated

an alien, instead of caressing as a partner but, by a system

Lord North.

Ma. PI'T'S [MAY 12.

thus comprehensive, unambiguous, and complete, we should .
remove the effect of former prejudices, and entitle ourselves not

to the zealous contributions of a generous sister, but, what

was much more, to her gratitude.
That goods now prohibited, or subjecte d to duties amounting

to a prohibition, should be admitted hereafter into th


te rnaln

i king-

dom, under a duty merely sufficient to countervail
excise, formed the outline of the second part of the system. As
other bounties which might defeat its end Ivere by a particular
provision excluded, this must be looked on as a conciliatory sys-
tem, which would tend to diffuse, and therey to increase, the
wealth of both nations. To one effect only

b of this regulation

an exception had been made ; and an alarm had been spread in
the northern part of this kingdom, as if the removal of the pro-
hibition which now existed with respect to corn and grain would
be highly injurious to the agriculture of Scotland : this dread,
however, it was his intention to remove, by excepting corn, meal,
&c. from the effects of this regulation. Beer, also, exported


Ireland, being already subject to a high duty, to countervail the
internal imposition on that article in Ireland would form another

exception.He then went through the different propositions as they had
been submitted to the Irish parliament, making comments and

alterations as he proceed ed
; after which he remarked, that of

tile numerous petitions which had been presented to the House,
the objections of the greater part were perfectly wide of what
might be expected from any who had given a proper attentio

n to

the subject. They had spoken of liberties now given, and of
privileges unknown before ; they dwelt on the rivalship that must
take place between this country and Ireland in every foreign
market ; but they seemed not to know that these liberties, and
this rivalship, subsisted by the laws already in existence. Every
inconvenience that had been stated, flowed from the system that
was now established, but went not to criminate that which was

about to be formed. He had been, also, arraigned of arro-

gance and self-sufficiency in the prosecution of this business ;


but it was not in the power of words such as these to deter
him from the prosecution of his duty, to drive him to little,
temporizing expedients, such as the sacrifice of a post•oflice or a
court of admiralty. He was not, he said, one of those who
thought, that if a session were passed without any thing material
being done, it was a circumstance of pleasure and self-congratu-
lation. It was his wish to place the arrangements between the
two kingdoms on a basis the most durable ; and in the pursuit of
an end so important, he would not be deterred by. clamour or

Mr. Pitt then went into that part of the question which re-
lated to the apprehensions of certain persons, of being undersold,
by the import of the manufactures of Ireland, in our own mar-
kets. He combated th.e doctrine, that Ireland, from the cheap-
ness of labour, must necessarily be able to undersell the English
manufacturer. Was it, he asked, because the rudest species.
of labour was somewhat cheaper in Ireland than in England,,
that the former therefore had the advantage of the latter ? No.'
It did not . depend on that sort of work which was required
for the roughest and rudest occupations of agriculture, whether
a nation was to flourish in manufacture or not ; it was a habit
of industry and ingenuity which were to effect it. He drew a
distinction between the meaning of the words wages and labour,
observing, that a man's wages might he extremely low, and yet
the price of his labour very dear, provided that he did but a
small quantity of work. He instanced in the example of an En-
glishman and an Irishman, that perhaps the latter, though re-
ceiving but five shillings per week, might really be a dearer
workman to his employer than the former at eight shillings; pro-
vided the one worked hard, and the other was idle. He said
also, that, besides the different degrees of the industry of the
two nations, he was well informed, and sufficiently convinced,
that the rate of wages, as well as of labour, was greater in Ire-
land than in England, in any branch of manufacture which re-
quired execution and ingenuity, instancing a gentleman, whom
he described to be the first rind the principal person in the cottOa



business in IrclamV, who was several times in danger of losing
his life, because he refused to allow his workmen a greater price
than they had. at Manchester. He could not help observing,
that the fears and apprehensions of the manufacturers were ex-
tremely far-fetched and ill-founded ; nor did it appear to him
that there was such grounds for them as ought to weigh with
any reasonable man. They had declared themselves to be under
great anxiety and uneasiness, lest the Irish, in consequence of
this arrangement, should be able to draw over all their workmen,
all their trade, and all their capitals, and thus undersell them in

their own markets by
at least 131. per cent. He desired the

committee to attend_to- that single subject. The Irish cotton
trade was to be imported into England, according to this plan,
at 101. and a half per cent. duty, and yet it was said, they were,
to undersell the English manufacturer

131. per cent. These two
sums amounted to 231. and a half per cent. Besides this, Eng-
lnd had hitherto imported into Ireland at a duty of 101. and a
ball per cent. This, therefore, added to the other two sums,
would amount to 311. per cent.; at which disadvantage, there-
fore, if the manufacturers who had stated this degree of danger
to the House deserved any degreo of credit, they had been
hitherto dealing in Ireland, so as to have almost exclusively en-
grossed that market, and had increased and flourished to an ex-

tent hardly to ly
e equalled by any other branch of trade known

a thing perfectly beyond the reach of belief, and even unworthy
of a single serious thought. In another branch of manufacture,
be said, there was the same sort of exaggerated danger repre-
sented to the House, by a person who had given a very long and
copious testimony at the bar, and that in the most collected and
delibiAte manner that it was possible for any man to do ; [here
Zia: alluded to Mr. Wedgwood, the earthen-ware manufacturer:
who gave in his testimony in writing to the clerk] and yet, from
this gentleman the House could learn nothing more than that of

his having wished to engross every market to which he ha ever



ought of sending his wares; and, although, by the by, he did

*Iajo r Brooke.

not well know how to send them to Ireland for fear ofdamage,
by breaking mid other losses, yet he was now determined at all-
hazards, and at all risks of credibility and consistency, to run
into every extreme that the present prevalent agitation of men's
minds could prompt them to, in order to find nothing in those
propositions but certain destruction to him and his manufacture
if they should pass into a law. He most earnestly entreated the
House not to suffer themselves to be carried away with the idea
that a poor country, merely because she enjoyed some compara-
tive exemption from taxes, was therefore able to cope with a
rich and powerful country ; the fact, he was ready to contend,
was by no means so : on the contrary, the smallest burthen on a
poor country was to be considered, when compared with those of
a rich one, by no means in a proportion to their several abilities;
for if one country exceeded another in wealth, population, and
established commerce, in a proportion of two to one, he was
nearly convinced that that country would be able to bear near
ten times the burthens that the other would be equal to. This
argument he applied to Great Britain and Ireland, and illus-
trated it with an example from England and Scotland. There was
no-gentleman, he believed, who would contend, that the taxes
which Scotland paid, when compared with those of England;
bore any proportion to their mutual and relative resources of
.....ealth and power; and yet he believed, that, although every
man must admit, that the connection between them had been pro-.
ductive of great and manifest advantage to both, yet there were
few would hesitate to say, that one country had been more bene-
fited by it than the other, and that the event of that ramsolida-
tion of interest which took place between the two British king-
doms, had been such as ought not to make England-averse from
a repetition of the experiment.

Mr. Pitt now proceeded to open that part of the, plan which
was entirely and exclusively favourable to this country, ands
which was to be the gratuity given by Ireland for whatever
benefit she was to derive from the arrangement and the com-
pensation to England for any advantage she might give up. It



happened, he said, that as this compensation bore an exact pro-
portion to the advantages to be gained by Ireland, so was it of
necessary consequence exactly commensurate to the effect of
the concessions made by England ; while, at the same time that
it thus balanced the favour conf'er'red and received, it over and
above secured an additional advantage to each party, by Consi-

derably promoting the collective strength, prosperity, and
splendor of the empire at large. This compensation was the
surplus of the hereditary revenue of Ireland, after deducting
654,0001. for the support of her own establishments, to be ap-
plied to the naval defence of the trade and commerce of each
kingdom. In order to shew the House how certainly this com-
pensation would bear a proportion to the benefit which Ireland
was to reap from the new arrangements, he would state what
the hereditary revenue was. It consisted of certain duties by
custom on almost every species of goods imported; an excise
upon some articles of the most general consumption : and a
house-tax levied according to the number of hearths in each.
The committee would sec from hence, that this hereditary
venue - would necessarily increase as soon as the new arrangement
began to have effect, and in exact proportion to that effect,
every article of which it was composed being so closely con-
nected with commerce, wealth, and population. It was his idea,
that the supply, whatever it might be, should be taken in pro-
visions and stores, a mode which would be productive of equal,
benefit to both nations.

He should have, he said, on a future day, some remarks to
make as to the regulation of patents, and the securing of copy-
right to their _respective possessors. At present, however, he
would detain the committee no further upon this part of the

He then addressed the House in a most earnest manner, en-
treating them to . consider and reflect how momentous the object
before them was; that it tended to-conciliate a difference between
this and our sister kingdom, which, though now confined to se-

cret• repining, to disgusts, to jealousies, and a war of interests

and of passions, might perhaps, in time, proceed to a length which
he shuddered to think of, and could not venture to express ; that
it tended to enrich one part of the empire without impoverishing
the other, while it gave strength to both ; that like mercy, the
favourite attribute of heaven —

" It is twice bless'd,
" It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes;"

that after the severe calamities under which this country had so
long laboured, that after the heavy loss which she had sustained
from the recent division of her dominions, there ought to be no
object more impressive on the feelings of the House, than to en-
deavour to preserve from farther dismemberment and diminution,
to unite and to connect what yet remained of our reduced and
shattered empire, of which great Britain and Ireland were now
the only considerable members, in the mutual bond of affection,
of mutual kindness, and of reciprocity of interests. He called
upon those gentlemen who had enjoyed a share at different pe-
riods in the government of Ireland, to declare, whether the time
was not now passed when temporary expedients, 'when lenitives,
calculated merely for the purpose of deadening the immediate
sense of pain, without even approaching the seat of the distem-
per, could be administered with safety ? Whether they could
silence the demands which the Irish, with a loud united voice,
were at this moment making, on the justice, the wisdom, and
the humanity of the nation ?

He apologized for having so long troubled the House upon a
subject on.which they had now been already for such a length of
time engaged ; declaring, that among all the objects of his poli-
tical life, this was, in his opinion, the most important he had ever
engaged in, nor did he imagine he should ever meet another that
would call forth all his public feelings, and rouse every exertion
of his heart, in so forcible a manner as the present had done. A
question in which, he verily believed, was involved every pro-
spect that still remained to this country, of again lifting up her
head to that height and eminence which she once possessed


198 MR. PITT'S [Eels.. 27.-

amongst nations ; and of giving to her commerce, her public
credit, and her resources, that spring and vivacity, which she
felt at the conclusion of the war before last, which were now so
obviously returning, and which, he trusted, she would never be
found to want, as long as liberality, public spirit, and disin-
terestedness, held their place in that; House. He concluded with
moving the first proposition.

The ,question of adjournment., which was moved by Lord North, was

Ayes 155
Noes :tat

and the original resolution was then agreed to.

February 27. 1786.

Debate on the Duke of Richmond's plan for fortifying the Dock-yards.

Mr. PITT introduced the business: —
. .

He begged leave 'earnestly to submit to the most serious and
deliberate attention of the House, a proposition which, in his
humble opinion, it behoved them to adopt previously to their
forming themselves into a committee of supply ; in order that it
might serve as a direction to that committee in what manner-to
regulate that , )find of vote which naturally might be expected
from them at the close of the debate. Little, indeed, was his
astonishment excited, when he reflected. with how prejudiced
'comment great numbers of the public had chosen to describe the
question for discussion; because, as much within as beyond the
vans of parliament, its real nature had been concealed by an
Irksidious colouring, to give a lasting force to which all arts were
put in practice.

The system of fortification had been dragged forth ,to public
view as deserving the severest censures which could be thrown
on any measure of government ; and there had been attempts to
excite against it, the feelings, the passions, and even the most

estimable prejudices of the nation. It was represented as novel
in its principle, as unconstitutional in its tendency, by laying
foundation for the increase of the standing army, and as calcu-
lated to divert into either a useless or a dangerous channel those
resources which ought rather to be applied to that great founda-
tion of our strength, of our glory, and of our characteristic
superiority over the rest of the nations of Europe — our navy.
Those were in themselves substantial objections, and such as, if
they did really apply to the case, ought to carry with them an
insuperable authority: but lie was come down prepared with
such arguments as he flattered himself would appear to the House
sufficient to answer, and even overturn them all; and in order
that the whole scope and object of his reasoning might be the
more readily and clearly understood, he would state, at the out-
set, the nature of his proposition, which he had so worded as
to comprehend the whole of the several principles on which, in
his mind, the question was to stand. He had, on a former day,
suggested, that the most regular mode for debating the subject
would arise in the committee of supply, when the question would
be, whether to vote the whole of the annual ordnance estimates,
which would amount to about 300,000/. or to vote only 250,000/.
and by such means prevent the application of the 50,000/. voted
in a former session for the purpose of fortifications, from the
object for which it had been intended, by obliging the board of
ordnance to apply it to the current service of the year: and, by
SO doing, to put an effectual stop to the whole system. From
many things, however, which had fallen from gentlemen on the
other side of the House, he was induced to wish, that a different
method of arguing the question should be adopted ; and he
accordingly devised the present mode as best calculated, in his.
opinion, to afford an opportunity of discussing, in their fullest
extent, every principle which could possibly be involved in the
proceeding, as well those in opposition to it, as those in its
favour. It was also more consistent with the great importance of
the subject to bring it immediately before the House, in the form
of a specific resolution, recognizing a great and momentous



principle, and. founding on that principle an instruction to the
committee, than to send it to the committee at once, as it were
incidentally and collaterally. The resolution which he proposed,
before he sat down, to move to the House was,

" That it appears to this House, that to provide effectually for•
securing His Majesty's dock-yards at Portsmouth and Plymouth,
by a permanent system of fortification, founded on the most
economical principles, and requiring the smallest number of
troops possible to answer the purpose of such security, is an
essential object for the safety of the state, intimately connected
with the general defence of the kingdom, and necessary for
enabling the fleet to act with full vigour and effect for the
protection of commerce, the support of our distant possessions,
and the prosecution of offensive operations in any war in which
the nation may hereafter be engaged."

He felt it impossible to contemplate this important question
without regarding it as a portion of that momentary system
which challenged, from its nature, the utmost care of all admi-
nistrations whatsoever ; a system, upon which rested the secu-
rity and the glory of the national defence. And, in order to
judge of its necessity towards that great object, he should
attempt, but with much pain, to bring back the recollection of the
House to the unfortunate and calamitous situation to which we
were exposed in the late war, much in consequence of our want
of those fortifications which it was the aim of the present ques-
tion to provide. A considerable part of our fleet was confined
to our ports, in order to protect our dock-yards ; and thus we
were obliged to do what Great Britain had never done before —
to carry on a mere defensive war ; a war in which, as in every
other war merely defensive, we were under the necessity of
wasting our resources, and impairing our strength, without any
prospect of benefiting ourselves but at the loss of a great and
valuable part of our possessions, and which at last was termi-
nated by a necessary peace. Shame and affliction were brought
upon us by the American war. Was the House ready to stand
responsible to posterity for a repetition of such disgraces and

misfortunes ? Were they willing to take upon themselves the
hazard of transmitting to the next generation those dangers
and those consequent calamities, which they had themselves so
bitterly experienced? The subject of fortifications was not now
for the first time to be discussed ; it had been before the House
during the course of the last session, and from what passed then,
together with what had been done in consequence, he thought
there was very little room, compatible with consistency of con-
duct, for that opposition which he apprehended was intended to
be given to the present measure. The House, in the last session,
had seemed well aware, that such an inquiry as was necessary
towards forming a proper judgment on the subject, was by no
means a proper one for it to go into. It had been, on all hands,
agreed, that it was, in a great measure, a question of confidence,
and they had, therefore, acquiesced in his proposal of sending it
to the arbitration of a board of land and sea officers, to be con-
stituted for that express purpose. That board had, of course,
been appointed, and consisted of every thing that was great and
respectable in the two professions; they had given the subject
a higher degree of consideration and research than had ever
been known . on such an occasion in any other age or country.
The report made by that board was in itself so direct, and so
conclusive, as to the necessity of the measure, that it ought in
itself completely to determine the question, should it even ap-
pear that the reasons of a collateral nature, advanced in opposi-
tion to it, were entitled to the authority which some persons
seemed inclined to give them.

Concerning the questions, " whether the dock-yards could
properly and effectually be defended by a naval force alone ;
by a military force alone ; or by a naval and military force com-
bined ?. or whether it was necessary that fortifications should be
erected for their defence ? and if so, what sort of fortifications
were likely to be most effectual?" the board had answered, that
neither a naval nor a military force, nor even both united, could
afford a sufficient security for the nation to rely upon ; but that
the fortifications were absolutely necessary, and that, of all



modes of fortification, the mode suggested by the master-general
of the ordnance* was the most eligible, as being the most ade-
quate to the defence proposed, capable of being manned by the
smallest force, requiring the least expense to erect and particu-
larly, as affording an increasing degree of security as they were
erected ; insomuch as, that, it' any given portion of them were
completed, and the remainder unfinished, yet even that part so
completed would afford a great deal of strength. Such were the
characters and abilities of the officers who composed that board,
that it would naturally follow as the highest degree of incon-
sistency, were the House, after having referred the various
branches of the detail of the inquiry to the board of officers, to
re-assume that duty which they had already declined, as being
out of their reach, and attempt to revise and correct the report
of the board. All that the House ought to attend to was the
general result of the report of that board ; for it was itself in-
capable of investigating the subject minutely, and by detail,
much less was it capable of correcting or deciding on the re-
port of the officers. In order to diminish the credit of the re-
port, (for the credit of the persons who framed it could not be
impeached,) attempts were made to prove, that the instructions
given to the board of general officers were such as confined
them to the necessity of coming to one certain result, by means
of data proposed for their consideration, which were all merely
hypothetical, and afforded no latitude to them for the exercise
of their own judgment. But how was it possible this could
have been the case, when to the two first data the whole board
were unanimous in giving their opinions? and their opinions on

those data were entirely conclusive on the whole of the subject,
for they went (and that unanimously) to establish the necessity.
of fortifications. Was it credible that a board, consisting of
such men, could possibly be duped by chimerical and absurd
hypotheses, so absurd and so extravagant, that he recollected the
honourable general t had stated them as tantamount to a con-

tdsion of nature? Was it to be supposed that they could be so
* The Duke ofRichmond. 1- General Burgoyne.

easily misled, and drawn unanimously into an opinion on a sub-
ject of such magnitude, and contrary to their own conviction ?
But, in fact, it was impossible to impute any such delusion in
the present instance, for the answer to the first datum was ab-
solutely unqualified and positive, and recognized the necessity
of fortifying the dock-yards ; the second enforced the same
necessity, it is true, with a proviso; — but of what? the expense
of their erection, and our ability to furnish a force to man them.
It was not fair to argue that the whole result of the report was
founded upon data in themselves improbable and ill-grounded,
when, in truth, the principal data by which the several parts of
the report had weight, were not the original data referred to
the board, but such as they thought necessary to substitute
and adopt, as a foundation for their ultimate opinions. This
idea was in itself so absurd, that from the very words in which
it had been expressed, and which he had before repeated, it ap-
peared as if the gentlemen who had used them were in collu-
sion with the House, and endeavouring to put their own op-
position into the most ridiculous point of view. He should
think it an insult to the officers concerned in the report, if he
thought of saying any thing more in answer to a suggestion sb
much to their dishonour, as that they liad been so egregiously
and so palpably duped by an article so shallow, and of course
so easily detected.

Some reliance had been placed, in former conversations, upon
the dissent of certain members of the board, with respect to
their opinion, touching partiodar parts of the subject. The
stances of' dissent, however, were not many; and they were such
as he flattered himself could not stand as an insuperable objec-
tion to the general result. He felt himself rather in a disagree.
able situation, at being obliged, in arguing the subject before
the House, to attack the opinion and authority of any individual
member of the board ; but with respect to one* of the two very
respectable land officers, who had in any instance dissented

* General Burgoyne.

MIL I'ITT'S [Fat. 27.

from the rest, his-uneasiness was the less poignant, because the
honourable general was on the spot to explain and support his
own judgment ; though even still he felt for the honourable ge-
neral, who, he knew, would not think himself at liberty to enter
so deeply into several of the more delicate parts of the question,
as, perhaps, were his own justification alone concerned, he might
wish to do. With respect to the other officer*, his feelings were
more distressing, because he was obliged to canvass his opinion
in his absence. Those two officers had joined with the rest of the
board in their two first unanimous opinions, with respect to the
necessity of fortifications towards the defence of the dock-yards ;
but they afterwards, by a subsequent proposition, declared, that
notwithstanding such necessity, yet they were useless, because
we were not masters of a sufficient military force to man them.
He begged the House for a moment to consider the conclusion
which would follow from such premises; because if nothing but
certain fortifications could possibly afford protection to our dock
yards, and if we were unable to garrison those fortifications
when erected, what must prove the consequence ? Deplorable
in the extreme. It must be, that we Niue unable to protect
them at all. The nation, however, need not despond at the
prospect thus, unintentionally he was convinced, presented to
them by the noble earl, for whose character he had the highest
veneration, and whose noble disinterestedness, together with the
brilliant example which he held out to the nobility of the age,
in the active service of his country, and the uniform tenour of
his conduct, were sufficient to add lustre even to the rank which
the noble lord already filled. They need not -despond at this
uncomfortable prospect ; for the papers laid upon the table, in

' consequence of the motions made by the enemies-of the mea-
sure, clearly proved, that we should by no means stand in need
of a greater force for the purpose of defending those fortifica-
tions, than we could easily afford to that service.

It would appear from one of those papers, that, in the year
1779, we had about fifty-three thousand men in South Britain,

Earl Percy.


who were constantly and uniformly increasing, until the year
1782, to upwards of seventy-one thousand. There was also
another paper on the table that had been demanded by the
gentlemen on the other side, which gave an account of different
cantonments in which those troops had been stationed during that
period ; a paper which he could not think in any way material
for the government of the present question, unless the right
honourable gentleman* opposite was ready to undertake to prove,
that, like all the other arrangements made during the course of
the American war, the disposition of the army through England
was the very best and wisest which human ingenuity could de-
vise. It appeared, however, from this paper, that the number
of troops stationed in such cantonments, as might be considered
within reach of Portsmouth and Plymouth, was, in 1779, above
sixteen thousand men, and that it had, in the year 1782, amount-
ed, by a progressive increase, to twenty-one thousand five hun-
dred in each case, including that Most invaluable resource of
national defence, the militia. Let gentlemen judge from this state
of our military force, whether it would, in case of an invasion,
prove difficult to furnish a sufficient garrison for the proposed
works. But when it was to be considered, that our forces in
Great Britain bore scarcely any proportion to those which we
were obliged to distribute through our then extensive dominions,
azd that, from our present situation, it was not likely that any
such distraction of our 'military power would ever again take.
place, it might be looked upon as able to command a force fully
adequate to the maintenance of the fortifications, without in any
degree derogating from the respectable defence of all our other
dominions. On this part of the subject, some gentlemen had
thought proper to throw into derision and ridicule the whole in-
quiry of the board of officers, as if they had proceeded to in-
vestigate the question of fortifications, without having any state of
the probable means of supplying those fortifications with troops
for their defence laid before them. But he would only desire the

Mr. Vox.

206 MR. PITT'S [FEn. 27.

House to turn over the names of the land officers who sat at the
board, and then to say, whether there was any foundation for
such a reflection. Was the Duke of Richmond—Was Sir Guy
Carleton—Was Sir William Howe—Was Lord George Lenox,
who commanded at one of those places— Was Earl Cornwallis,
his respect for whom he should extenuate; were he to attempt
to express it—Was Sir David Lindsay, who commanded in an:
other of those places— Was Sir Charles Grey, who commanded in
a third, and who, besides, served in the course of the war with
the greatest brilliancy, in the remotest parts of the globe—Was
General Roy, who, at the time, was quarter-master-general to
the whole—Were all those gentlemen to be supposed ignorant of
the general military strength of the kingdom ? Or, was it to be
contended, that, to enable them to form an opinion on so broad
and extended a question, it was necessary that the returns of
every regiment should have been laid before theta? Surely gentle-
men would not persist in such weak and groundless arguments !

There was, besides, in the report, another instance of disagree-
ment in opinion: that, however, he conceived, ought not, and
could not carry any very great weight ; not from the person from
whom the dissent came being at all deficient in authority and
consideration, but from a circumstance standing on the face of
the report itself. The name of an honourable officer ' A' appeared
to a dissent to the answer given by the board to the third datum.
It was to be observed that this datum, together with its answer,
was omitted in the report, as containing matter not safe to be
made public. This consideration rendered it impossible for him,
consistently with his duty, to attempt to examine it in detail,
arld4o combat the opinion of the honourable officer upon its own
ground ; but yet he had a stronger argument than any other he
could be master of, and that was, the opinion of the honourable
officer himself, who had, six weeks before, as appeared from .the
minutes of the board, given, together with all the other members
of the board, his opinion directly in favour of the principle which

Captain Macbride.

that datum was calculated to establish. If he was mis-stating the
honourable officer, he begged to be set right ; but he believed it
would be evident to any gentleman that would look at the report,
that he was perfectly correct.

[Captain Macbride here interrupted Mr. Pitt.— He admitted that the
statements of the right honourable gentleman were perfectly exact, but
declared, that still he could not avoid embracing his former idea, that the
opinion of the naval officers was fully in the teeth of the fortifications
proposed at Plymouth; and for this assertion he had Admiral Barring-
ton's authority, whom he had seen and talked with upon the subject
during a part of the intermediately preceding days. The fact was, that
the naval officers were not permitted to have an opinion of their own-

Mr. PITT, resuming his speech, remarked that as he had court-
ed the corrections of others to fall upon the accidental, certainly
not voluntary, errors in his statement, so it could not follow that
he experienced the least concern, but rather pleasure, when he
discovered the. honourable gentlemen corroborating, instead of
refuting his representation. The honourable officer, then, had
formerly united with the rest of the board in an unanimous vote
upon the subject.of the third datum, and had afterwards, after
an interval of six weeks, retracted that vote, and entered another
on the minutes of the board, diametrically opposite to it. Thus,
each opinion had the authority of the name of the honourable
officer ; and if any dilemma arose in forming a judgment between
them both, it became easily solved by referring to the report
itself, in which it would appear, that though each opinion was
equally supported by the honourable officer, yet the casting voice
between his first and second opinion was given by the whole
hoard, by which he acted in favour of his former opinion, and of
Course there could be no room for the House to hesitate a,
moment which of the two they ought to adopt.

There was another circumstance which he thought it necessary
to state under the head of the dissents from the general purport
of the report, that he might answer it in order : although it did.
not arise cut of the report itself, but had been taken up in that

• house for the first time by the honourable officer, , when he stated
I 1


that the fortifications proposed to be erected on the lands adja-
cent. to Whitesand bay, were directly in the teeth of the opinion
of all the sea-officers. He begged the House to attend partici:,
larly to the two distinct branches into which that part of the
question was divided; one of a naval, the other of a military
consideration. That which more immediately demanded the
judgment of the naval service was the practicability of the enemy
effecting a landing at all upon the coast, together with the va-
rious circumstances of tides, winds, soundings, currents, and
anchorage, which might be necessary, and the probability-there
was of all those concurring, so as to enable an enemy to land at
all, and to remain long enough off the coast to cover and :com-
plete their debarkation ; the other subject was for the discussion
of the land-officers singly, and had for its object the most effec-
tual method of so fortifying the coast, as to prevent the enemy,
should they effect a landing, from penetrating the 'country.
The opinion of the sea-officers was, that, in certain circumstances,
it was possible for an enemy to land ; and he could only account
for the objection of the honourable officer against fortifying a
coast on which an enemy might (as it was admitted) land, by
that . gallant spirit and bravery which would at all times induce
him to turn his thoughts more to the animating and brilliant
prospect of attacking his enemy, than the less glorious, but still
prudent, duty of providing for his own defence. In furnishing,
however, the part of the country in question . with forts, they
ought not to confine themselves solely to the idea of an enemy's.
landing in Whitesand bay. They should consider whether it
would be practicable for him to land in any place to the west of
Plymouth ; for if he could do so, then were these forts absolutely
necessary for the defence of that town and its dock-yards.;
they were the very posts which an enemy would most eagerly en-
deavour to occupy, because from them they would be able to
bombard the dock-yards. All persons who knew 'our coasts, and
such as, to their own honour, and the glory of their country,
were acquainted with the coasts of our•enemies, knew also that
it was 'absurd to think of fortifying every part of them which

could afford a landing-place for the purpose of an invasion. The
consideration was, where would an invasion prove most detri-
mental ; and upon that spot to erect such fortifications, that not
only an invasion by sea, should not become practicable, but that,
if ins enemy should have been able to land in another place, he
might not also be able successfully to attack them there. He
hoped to hear no more of Whitesand bay ; for it was not the de-
fence of that bay, it was the defence of the dock-yards of Ply-
mouth, which was intended ; it was not a landing there alone
which was to be prevented ; it was a landing on any part of the
coast which was to be defeated, at least as far as it had an attack
on Plymouth for its object ; and if Whitesand bay were sur-
rounded by a wall of adamant, still Plymouth could not con-
tinue safe unless those grounds were fortified. He hoped, and
believed, that he had completely done way the whole force
of the dissents of the several officers to whom he had alluded :
and now he should attempt to answer objections of another

It had been thrown out, and much stress seemed to be laid
upon the position, that the whole system of' fortification was new
and unprecedented in this country : but this idea he was pre-
pared to combat in the most direct and positive manner. The
system of fortification did always make a part of the general de-
fence of England, and he would prove it by the most incomes-
tible records of history. Even during the reign of King Henry
the Eighth, there was a provision, made by statute, for fortifying
certain parts of the coasts. The statute he would not take upon,
himself to read, because the terms in which it was couched were
become obsolete, and almost unintelligible. The same policy
was observed by Queen Elizabeth, and formed a considerable
part of the defence provided by that great and glorious princess,
against the unexpected attack of the armada. In the less pros-
perous reigns of the Stuart princes, the same system was occa-
sionally continued, and again adopted by our illustrious deliverer,
-William the Third. During the reign of Queen Anne, at the time
when the victories of the British arms were forming an era in



the history of Europe, at which England looked back with pride,
and other nations with amazement, did our ancestors think it in-
compatible with their fame, with their liberty or their constitu -
tion, to fortify the most vulnerable parts of their coasts, as it was
now proposed to do ?— On the contrary there was a resolution of
the Commons, not even at the desire of the crown, laying down
the necessity of fortifying the _dock-yards against any possible
invasion, and those resolutions were founded upon estimates of
plans which had been made under the reign of King William.
The estimates of those fortifications amounted to a sum, which,
considering the difference between those days and the expensive
times in which it was our misfortune to live, gave no great room
for a charge of prodigality against those who had digested the
present plan. The money then voted was 300,0001. which, when
compared with the value of money at this day, would not appear
as a very trifling sum.. To come down to a later period, a period
to which it might be supposed he was somewhat partial—the
last war — the last war! would to Heaven we could call it the
last war !— not indeed the last war, but the last on which Britons
could reflect without either a sigh or a blush—the war of contrast
with the last! the war in which the name of Britain was exalted.
above the highest and the proudest of nations, by successes as
stupendous, and conquests as glorious, as our late miscarriages
and defeats had been calamitous and disgraceful!— What was
the policy of the administration of that day ? That it was ex-
actly similar with what was now recommended he would prove
by one or two short extracts from the statute book. The first
was from an act of 22d Geo. II. for providing fortifications for
the dock-yards : and the second was for a fortification for some.
more insignificant place (Milford, as well as he could remember).
in which the very grounds of the policy now inculcated were re-
cognized ; that, by procuring adequate means for domestic de-
fence, the nation would become more at liberty tasend its fleets
abroad, either for the purpose of defending her foreign settle-
ments, or carrying the operations of offensive hostility into the
center of the enemy's possessions.

Thus it might be seen, that in the very best days of this coon-
try the system of fortification was uniformly practised and en-
couraged ; but even in a much later period, and during the admi-
nistration of the right honourable gentleman t- opposite to him,
the very identical plan of fortification then under discussion had
been considered, and an estimate for carrying it into execu-
tion was presented to the House. He supposed that the right
honourable gentleman who contended for the propriety of minis-
ters being always ready to make up their minds on every subject
which related to the force of the country, and who had himself;
it appeared, made up his mind on the subject, was now ready to
give his reasons for that change of opinion, which, it was to be
feared, he intended on the present occasion to avow. For his
own part, notwithstanding the great abilities and uncommon ver-
satility of talents which the right honourable gentleman was
well known to possess, he apprehended that he would not be
able to reconcile, to any principles of consistency, his prac-
tice of making up his mind when in administration, and un-
making it with so much facility when out of office. He should,
however, expect to hear that particular circumstance fully
explained, as far as so extraordinary a change of opinion
in such a peculiar variety of circumstances could admit of

As to the necessity suggested as likely to ensue from this mea-
sure of augmenting the standing army, nothing could prove more
void of' foundation. It had been unanimously reported by the
board of officers, that the plan of fortification proposed was the
best calculated for the defence of the dock•yards of any other
which could be devised, and that it was such as was capable Of
defence by the smallest number of troops. Would any person,
then, contend that a smaller number of troops, independent of
fortifications, were able to defend a place better than a large
body, assisted with the best possible fortifications ? Such an idea
was too absurd to be argued against; and yet, in fact, it was the
only idea on which that topic of opposition could possibly be

t Mr. Fox.
r 2

MR. PITT'S [Fan.

maintained. Should we, in. case of an invasion, trust solely to
our standing army, then there would be a necessity of augment-
ing, to a most enormous degree, that army on which the whole
safety of the kingdom was to rest. Was this the way to vindi-
cate and secure our liberties ? If we did not keep up such an
army, then we should he reduced to the necessity of recurring to
foreign. assistance : perhaps to the protection of mercenaries,
bribed by our money, and who, when we had no longer occa-
sion for their service, would prove as ready to turn their arms
against ourselves. 'Was it less desirable for us to be defended by
the walls of Portsmouth and Plymouth, garrisoned by our own
militia, than to purchase the protection of Hessian hirelings ?
The plan was objected to upon the ground of the expense which
would attend it, and of the probability that we could not expect
to be free from a war until it should be completed, and that we
should derive no advantage from. them at the time of the greatest
necessity. As to the latter of these objections, he requested
the House to recollect the words of the report upon the table,
from which they would learn, that the plan of fortification pro-
posed to be adopted, was one calculated, even. in an unfinished
and imperfect state, to afford great means of defence ; and that
every part of them, though wanting all other assistance, and
standing singly by itself, would prove highly useful and of
course desirable. Thus, every part would he answerable to
the great object :. and so far from rendering it necessary for
the House to hold itself committed to a constant and periodical
expense until the whole was completed, the fact would be, that
every year the necessity of adding to the fortifications must

• diminish, because every year the dock-yards would receive addi-
tional strength.

With respect to the expense attending. the building of the
, works, he flattered himself, that his sentiments and ideas on the
;,subject of the finances of this country, was not a backward fea-
ture in his political character —lit hoped that he had not shewn
himself remiss in any endeavours which could possibly tend to
raise the revenue from that deplorable state to which it was re-


ducal by the melancholy process of the late war. It was too
well known how much his feelings were engaged, not only by the
duty of his station, and by his attachment to his country, but by
considerations of his own personal reputation, which was deeply
committed 'in the question, to exert every nerve, to arm all his
vigilance, and to concentre all his efforts towards that great ob-
ject, by Which alone we should have a prospect, by relieving their
burthens, of transmitting to our posterity that ease and comfort
which ourselves felt the want of— an efficient sinkingfimd of the
national debt ; to accomplish which was the first wish of his heart,
and this, as well by every means of prudent, well regulated ew-
nomy, as by a rigid collection of the revenue. But was he to
be seduced 'by the plausible and popular name of economy —he
would not call it only plausible and popular, he would rather
say, the sacred name of economy— to forego the reality, and for
the sake of adding a few hundred thousands more to the sinking
-fund, perhaps render for ever abortive the sinking fund itself?
Every saving which could, consistently with the -national safety,
be made, he would pledge himself to make ; but he would never
consent to starve the public service, and to withhold those
supplies without which the nation must be endangered.

The relieving by every such means as his duty would suffer
him to adopt, the burthens of the people, and removing that load
of debt by which she was oppressed, was the grand and ultimate
end of his desire ; it was the pedestal to which he would wish to
raise a column which should support whatever pretensions he
might have to reputation and popularity ; but let it be well con-
sidered, how far the objects of necessary defence, and of public
economy, could be reconciled, and. let the bounds that divide
them not be transgressed. Let it be well weighed, what a certain
security for a lasting peace there was in a defencible and powerful
situation, and how likely weakness and improvidence were to be
the forerunners of war. But should a war happen, where was
economy? What was become of the sinking fund ? The very
expenses of one year's loan would amount to more than the,



whole of those fortifications which might have secured us peace,
because they would have diminished, or effectually destroyed,
all temptation or hope of success in an attack. In this point of
view, as the means of preventing a war, he should conceive, that
the first million which would. be appliei as the foundation for the
sicking fund, might not be better applied than a million of money
for the fortifications ; not that a million would prove neces-
sary, but he chose to state it as high as any other gentleman,
let his talents of exaggeration be what they might, could pos-
sibly carry it.

There was also another part of the subject which ought to
have the greatest weight of all, and this wa.:;, that these fortifi-
cations being calculated to afford complete security to the dock-
yards, would enable our whole fleet to go on remote services,
and carry on the operations of war at a distance, without endan-
gering the materials and seeds of future navies from being liable
to destruction by the invasion of an enemy. It had been insi-
nuated, that the second datum in His Majesty's instructions had
been used to draw forth an acquiescence from the board of offi-
cers, upon an unreasonable supposition of the fleet being absent
for an improbable time. He believed there were few gentlemen
could forget, that at no very distant period, even since he had
the honour of a place in His Majesty's councils, the fleet had been
absent for a time nearly equal to that supposed in the datum,
upon a service which this country could not have dispensed with,
without sacrificing the most brilliant success which attended us
in the late war :— a success of such lustre as to spread an irra-
diation over the more gloomy scenes in which we had been in-
volved. Had we been then in fear of an attack upon our coasts,
which from reasons not propel' to be mentioned, we happened
not to be, Gibraltar, and the renown of defending it, must have
been for ever lost. But it was not only by foreign expeditions
that we might lose the aid of our fleet in case of an invasion; it
might so happen, that our fleet, though in the very Channel,
might be prevented by contrary winds, tides, or other contin-
gencies, from arriving to the assistance and relief of the dock-



yards. What would then prove the situation of this country ?
The enemy might, in one day, in one hour, do an irreparable
injury, and give a mortal stab to the very vital principle of our
national vigour: might effectually destroy the seeds of that
navy from which alone we had to hope for commerce, for safety,
and for reputation. On the whole, lie really thought the pre-
seat rather a question to be considered as connected with our
naval establishment, than that of either our army or ordnance,
as it was calculated to give liberty to the fleet which had hitherto
been confined to our coasts, and

_as it were to the defence of
those dock-yards, without the security of which, the very exist-
ence of the navy, or even of the nation, must be no more.
Were it to be asked, why the sum required for these fortifica-
tions had not been demanded for strengthening the navy, he
should answer fairly, that he thought the same sum laid out upon
the fleet, would by no means afford a proportional strength to
what would be derived from the fortifications. The money which
would prove sufficient to accomplish those works, would not
build as many ships as would answer for the defence of those
invaluable harbours of Portsmouth and Plymouth. There was,
besides, a certain degree beyond which the navy of this country
could not go ; there was a certain number of ships, beyond
which she could neither build nor man any more ; what that
line was, he could not, nor would it be proper for him to point
out: yet necessarily such a line must exist in the nature of'
things, but there never could be any line drawn to limit the
security which we ought to provide for our dock-yards. What
could be the reason that gentlemen on the other side of the
House seemed so anxious to impede this measure? Were they
bold enough to stake themselves upon a question of such ,

magnitude, and to stand forward with such decided vehemence
as the opponents of a measure, which parliament, thinking itself
incompetent to scrutinize, had referred to the highest profes-
sional authority in the army, and in the navy ; which had re-
ceived the sanction of that authority ; and which the ministers


216 MR. PITT'S [Fen. '27. 1786.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECIIES. 217
of the crown, who could have no personal feelings on the sub-
ject, except such as from considerations of their own ease and
advantage were adverse from it, and who could share no temp-
tations towards it, but a strong sense of its indispensable neces-
sity, declared themselves so much interested about, as to he
unable to rest upon their pillows so long as it remained in sus-
pense? He called upon the House to beware how they suffered
themselves to be lightly drawn into a line of conduct which
might involve their posterity, nay themselves, in the heaviest

He flattered himself that more arguments were scarcely neces-
sary to prove, that the proposed system of fortifying the dock-
yards was absolutely necessary for the preservation and security
of the sources of our marine in case of a future war, and that
the system in question had received the unanimous sanction of
a board of land and sea officers, consisting of the most respect-
able and experienced characters in the two services; and that
they had in their report pronounced the plan the best adapted
to its purpose of any which could be devised, grounded on the
most economical principles, and requiring the smallest number
of troops. Viewing it properly, it was a naval question, and as
such it ought to be considered, because while it gave security to
the vital springs and sources of our marine, so far from render-
ing an increase of the military force of the kingdom necessary,
as some gentlemen, from a laudable jealousy of the standing
arm y, and from a natural and zealous regard for the constitu-
tion, had been led to imagine, it would actually tend to enable
government to keep up a less military establishment than other-
wise must be maintained. Thus circumstanced, he should rest
'all his hopes of support solely upon the power of his arguments
to prove what he had asserted in that respect. Having read the
words of two preliminary resolutions, which he remarked would
prove declaratory of the opinion of the House upon the subject,
(should they think fit to adopt them) and which, by being voted
previous to their going into the committee of supply, would lay
a foundation for their future proceedings, and rest their votes in

the committee upon a perspicuous and permanent footing, Mr.
Pitt concluded with moving his first resolution as follows :

'c That it appears to this House, that to provide effectually
for securing His Majesty's dock-yards at Portsmouth and
Plymouth, by a permanent system of fortification, founded on
the most economical principles,'and requiring the smallest num-
ber of troops possible to answer the purpose of such security, is
an essential object for the safety of the state, ultimately con-
nected with the general defence of the kingdom, and necessary
for enabling the fleet to act with full vigour and effect, for the
protection of commerce, the support of our distant possessions,
and the prosecution of offensive operations in any war in which
the nation may hereafter be engaged."

After a long discussion of the'suhject, the House came to a division;
For Mr. Pitt's motion

Against it 169
when the Speaker, by his casting vote, decided the question in the


March 29. 1786.

The House having resolved itself into a Committee of the whole House,
to take into consideration that part of His Majesty's speech on the 24th
of January last which recommended the establishment of a fixed plan for
the reduction of the National Debt,

Ma. PITT addressed the chairman of the committee as follows :

Sir, The object I have to refer to this committee is, to con-
sider of the means of decreasing the national debt. To attempt
to recommend this purpose by any words would surely be quite
superfluous : the situation of this country, loaded with an enor-
mous debt, to pay the interest of which every nerve has been
stretched, and every resource nearly drained, carries with it a
stronger recommendation than any arguments I could possibly
adduce. That something should be done to relieve the nation
from the pressure of so heavy a load is indeed acknowledged by

218 'Mil. PITT'S [MARCH 29•

all; and, I trust, that in this House there is only one feeling
upon the subject. To you do the public turn their eye, justly
expecting, that from the trust you hold, you will think it your
duty to make the most serious efforts, in order to afford them
the long-wished-for prospect of being relieved from an endless
accumulation of taxes, under the burthen of which they are
ready to sink. Upon the deliberation of this day do they place
all their hopes of a full return of prosperity, and that public
security, which will give confidence and vigour to those exer-
tions in trade and commerce, upon which the flourishing state
of this country so much depends. Yet not only the public and
this House, but other nations look to the business of this day ;
'for, by the establishment of what is now proposed, our rank will
be decided among the powers of Europe. To behold this coun-
try emerging from a most unfortunate war, which added such an
accumulation to sums before immense, that it was the belief of
surrounding nations, and of many among ourselves, that our
powers must fail us, and we should not be able to bear up under
it ; to behold this nation, instead of despairing at its alarming
condition, looking boldly its situation in the face, and establish-
ing upon a spirited and permanent plan the means of relieving
itself from all its incumbrances, must give such an idea of our
resources, and of our spirit of exertion, as will astonish the
nations around us, and enable us to regain that pre-eminence to
which we are on many accounts so justly entitled. The pro-
priety and the necessity of adopting a plan for this purpose is not
only universally allowed, but it is also admitted that immediate
steps ought to be taken to make provision for this purpose. And
I am persuaded, that whatever differences of opinion we may
have in this House upon political points, no difference of opinion
will this day be entertained thateffeetual provision be immediately
made to reduce the debt of this nation.

The chief subject then before the House is, not whether the
recommendation in His Majesty's speech should be complied
with ; \nor even is it a matter of dispute what sum ought to be al-
lotted. ?or this purpose; for it seems agreed, by common consent


of all, that one million annually ought to be laid aside as the
means of gradually accomplishing this desirable purpose. The
great points which we have to consider are, in the first place,
what measures ought to be taken to acquire a million for this
purpose. Secondly, what is the way of applying it? I must
here congratulate the nation upon the arrival of this wished-for
day, when all despondency and gloomy fear may be laid aside,
and our prospects brightened with joy and hope. With how
much pleasure am I able to add, that this can he carried into
effect without laying any heavy new burthens upon the people.
This is beyond the hopes of almost every man, and is indeed a
subject of the great4st rejoicing to every friend of this country.

In order to be acquainted with our real situation, to see what
we have and what we want, I mean to state to the committee
the annual income and the annual expenditure of the nation, as
the ground upon which we are to proceed with regard to the
object before us. This has already been done by the select
committee, who were appointed for the purpose of examining
into the subject, and whose reports are now upon your table.
It is a matter of much satisfaction that this mode has been taken
to ascertain the sums of the revenue, and the expense of the
nation. You have not the word of an individual, but the report
of a committee of this House, who have given an authentic, an
accurate, and a clear statement of the whole. This has been
long enough published to have put it in the power of every
gentleman to examine it with attention, and I hope none have
neglected it. It is so much better that every thing of that kind,
every thing that contains so many figures, should be stated on

• paper, than be trusted to the memory, that it will not be neces-
sary for me to detain the House long with that part of the subject.

The committee have very properly arranged their inquiries
under two heads, taken from different periods. The first is,
-from Michaelmas 1784 to Michaelmas 1785 ; and the second,
from the 5th of January 1783 to the 5th of January 1786. In
the first period the annual receipt appears to be 15,379,1801.;
in the second period, in the year ending the .5th of January 1786,



the amount is, 15,397,4711. There never was a report upon
any Subject, nor upon such a subject as this, of so much con-
sequence to the nation. The manner in which it has been
brought up speaks the praise of the committee much higher
than I am able to do by any words I could use. The clear, the
precise, the accurate mode they have observed throughout the
whole ; the great attention which they have paid to the object
for which they were appointed, deserves the highest encomiums.
The care with which they have avoided all sanguine conclusions
from the premises before them can never be too much applauded.
Rigorous in calculating all contingencies which might arise to
baulk the hopes of the nation, and tend to disappoint their hopes
or the expected surplusses ; most faithful to their trust, most
scrupulous with regard to the truth of their statements, sheaving
at once their respect for the House, their sense of the importance
of the business into which they had been deputed to examine,
they have proceeded to deliver in a report, which, in point of
clearness, precision, just and fair deduction, stands eminently
distinguished above every report I have ever seen.

The first sum they have stated as the whole revenue that has
been received into the exchequer from the 5th of January 1785
to the 5th of January 1786, is 12,499,9161. After this, next
follow two sums, which they have thought proper to deduct from
this sum, which has been received into the exchequer. First are
the arrears due from the East-India company, which ought to
have been paid before, but had been respited to them, and
amounts to 101,118/. The other sum, which in the same man-
ner is deducted, is the excess of the window duties, but which,
from the alteration of the assessments, will not be paid any
longer. These two articles, therefore, being considered only as
contingencies, are not reckoned as part of the yearly revenue.
These two sums, then, amounting to about 457,2001., being
deducted, leave a remainder of 12,042,6901. This sum, which
has been paid into the exchequer, is considered as a part of our
stated yearly income, it being, each article of it, made up by
taxes which arc payable every year.


The rest of the sums which they have stated as the amount of
the public revenue, which is something above 3,300,0001., arise
from taxes, which, though payable yearly, have not yet been all
received into the exchequer in such a manner as to have with
them their proper vouchers; but the committee thought right to
add them to the sums that had been received. Of these sums
there can be little doubt or uncertainty. They are collected by
the officers in different parts of the kingdom, according to assess-
ments made and returned to them; where, therefore, these taxes
have not actually been received, the assessments are taken, and a
calculation made from them; with which there is the greatest
human probability of their agreeing ; indeed, no other method
more clear and conclusive could have been suggested. Of' this
kind is the additional window tax, commonly known by the
name of the commutation tax

.: this amounts to 380,0001. from
Michaelmas 1784. to Michaelmas 1785, and 253,0001. from the
5th of January 1785 to the 5th of January 1786. The addi-
tional tax also upon two-wheel and four-wheel carriages, 107,000/.
for the latter, and 59,281/. for the former. The added duty on
male servants, 12,0001. for the latter period, and 26,000/. for
the former. Farther duty on horses, waggons, and carts, 73,610/.
to January 1786, and 56,829/. to Michaelmas 1785. It is
impossible to say all these taxes have been received, but they
have stated them in so cautious and guarded a manner, that there
is little reason to doubt of their equalling, if not exceeding the

After these follow the taxes which have not been all received
into the exchequer : those which were laid on in 1784. and 1785,
and not having had time for their fair and full operation. The
produce of those laid on in the year 1784

., at Michaelmas,
amounted to 103,0001, and in January to 22,000/.; the produce
of those laid on in 1785, at Michaelmas last, including the
improvement of the medicine duty, amounts to 265,000/., and at
the 5th of January to 212,000/. To these is added the sum of
14,000/., which is yearly paid at the excise and alienation office
in part of the civil list : and also the land and malt tax, which


being yearly voted, came under this head, and amount to
2,600,0001. All these sums added, made together, at Michael-
mas 1785, 3,365,000/., which, added to the receipts for that
Year, viz. 11,874,0001., would produce a sum of 15,379,000/.
But, in January 1786, the whole of the sums amounted to
3,354,0001., which, added to the amount of the receipts
for the year, made 15,397,0001., only a difference of about

This, then, is the annual income of this country, and upon the
true statement of which there is every reason to rely. There is,
indeed, a small difference in the two statements, the one ending
at Michaelmas, and the other at January; but, although should
take the smallest, it would not make any difference in the deduc-
tions I shall draw from this subject. Indeed, it is well known to
those who, from their official situations, have had an opportunity
of observing, that it is some time before new taxes can fairly
operate. So many evasions are at first formed, and so many
frauds committed, that it generally takes some time before
they can be levied to their full extent ; and it is owing to this
circumstance chiefly that there is a difference between the two

Many of the taxes laid on in the year 1784, and almost all
those in 1785, are under the description I have given ; and I
have the greatest reason to believe they Will greatly increase in
their produce, when evasions are detected, Ord more effectual
means made use of to collect them fully ; and although none
of them have been actually paid into the exchequer, nor is it
possible from receipt to form any judgment with regard to them,
yet I am persuaded that the particular character which the com-
mittee have maintained, will appear, with regard to them, that
they are stated cautiously, and within their true limits. There is
one tax which 1 may just mention as an instance of' the truth of
what I have observed with regard to new taxes ; that is the duty
on game licenses, which has produced 20,0001. more since the
alterations it received. There is only one error that I can per-
ceive, and that is 4,1101., which ought to be deducted from the-


produce of the taxes imposed in 1785. Surely, on a subject of
this kind, the sum of 4•,0001. is not a great. deal. Some of the
taxes in 1785 are stated upon very sure ground, and from what
has been received sinceJanuary, though not received soon enough
to be laid before the committee, give reason to believe they will
produce more than they are rated at. Among these particularly
is the shop tax, the house tax, and the servants' tax ; the other
taxes are stated on more uncertain grounds, such as the duty on
pawnbrokers, and some others. Upon the whole, I do conceive,
that we may rely upon this account as the real revenue of the
country. The committee have stated every thing upon the best
grounds the nature of the case admitted ; and 1 have. stated their
results more for the sake of recalling them to gentlemen's minds.
than to add any thing new. My object is to chew that it is a fair
deduction, and may be taken as the produce of the year from
January 1785 to January 1786.

Whether or not we can rely upon this as an annual income, to
continue at the same rate to this nation, is another question. I
do think we may rely upon it so far as to look upon this annual
income as a fund for an annual decrease of our debt ; yet I do
not look. upon it as a certain income. Events may happen to
swell this produce beyond the most sanguine calculation ; and it
may also happen that a disappointment may take place upon
subjects so complicated in their nature. The trade and wealth
of the nation is too fluctuating to admit that any average can be.
taken. A sudden disaster may blast all our hopes ; and it may
happen even that, without any disastrous event to this country,
we may cut a poor figure for a year, or a number of years. I
therefore do not take the liberty to make any other statement
but what the committee have made, and would therefore read
what the committee have said at the beginning of their report,
For the reasoning stated by the committee, you (as much as
they expect) have reason to conclude that this flourishing condi-
tion of our revenue will continue. We have nothing indeed to
fear. We may lay despondent thoughts aside. Every thing
depends upon the spirit of this House, and the resolution, the good


sense, and the industry of' the country, to put these things out of
all doubt. It was more than could be thought possible, that,
within a single year, such a success would happen. But it is
not confined to one year ; ever since the happy a'ra of the resto-
ration of the peace, this has been more or less the case. The
increase was slow at first, but constant ; and the happy progress
of last year sp ews, from pleasing experience, that we have no
reason to fear its being stationary, or becoming retrograde. A
great part of this flourishing appearance which trade has of late
put on, and the great influx into the exchequer, have been owing
to the regulations that have been taken to crush clandestine trade.
This was the more to be believed, as the increase of revenue
chiefly appeared from the customs ; and this gave room to hope
that further great and essential improvements of the revenue
might arise from wholesome regulations with regard to articles of
illicit traffic. Driven from its strong hold of tea, it lurks in,
other petty trenches, from whence it may be effectually chased.
Every thing that is done to effect this, is introducing a perma-
nent source of revenue by making trade return into a regular
channel. 'What has been done in this way cannot as yet have
had its full operation, because, as great capitals were employed
in this clandestine business, the occupation will subsist for a
while, even although it is a losing trade. The measures taken
two years ago, under the articles of tobacco and spirits, have
caused the smuggling of these to subside to a great degree, and
have much increased our revenue. In the article of salt the
frauds are very considerable, and ought immediately to be
redressed. But, with regard to wines, the frauds arise-to so great,
to so enormous a pitch, that, if we will take the effectual mea-
sures to repress them, all the deficiencies will be made up in what
is stated as the annual progress of the revenue. If we have the
means of doing this in our power, and do not make use of them,
we must certainly suffer just blame. I intend, for my part, to
bring forward very soon a plan for that purpose, which I mean to
submit to the consideration of the House, and flattermysell, that,
if it meets with their approbation, it will occasion a very great

increase to the revenue of the kingdom. After having in this
manner represented every thing in the fairest light I am able,
to enable you to form a just view of the whole of the real and
probable sources of our national income, I shall now proceed upon
the idea that thisis a true statement of our revenue, which has been
laid upon your table by the committee, and that-we may expect
(with as much certainty as can attend any thing of this kind) that
we shall enjoy an increasing revenue of 15;397,0001. per annum.

The next subject of our discussion is, what may be the annual
expenditure of the nation. This the committee have also stated,
and it amounts to 11,178,0001. There is a great part of the
particular items, of which this sum is made up, that the com-
mittee have omitted to mention, because the sums charged have
been previously stated by act of parliament. This they consi-
dered as permanent expenses, and- therefore distinguish them
from what is fluctuating. In the former description they consi-
dered the interest of the national debt, which is 9,275,7691. and
with the exchequer bills, make a sum of 9,532,0001. this part
contains also the civil list, 900,0001.; the charges on the aggre-
gate fund, 64,0001.; and the appropriated duties, 66;5001.: the
whole of this division is. 10,554,0001. The other class of ex-
penses include the different establishments for the defence of the
nation; as the army, the navy, the

ordnance, and the militia.

There may be extraordinary charges for these purposes; but
that the committee had not any thing to do with in the present
estimate; they have stated the expense only that must be occa-
sioned by a peace establishment, and this they have done on a
very enlarged and liberal footing.

They have allowed for the. navy, during peace, 18,000 men,
which is more than ever had been kept up during any peace; and
they allowed for this 1,800,0001. It must be observed that the
committee did not go to state what ought to be the expense of
our navy, but only what, after the deduction of all oak expenses,.
would remain as a surplus ; and therefore their business is to
state every thing on the largest probable footing. They-have

taken the army upon the same mode of reasoning ; and they at-
low for the charge of it a sum of 1,600,0001., much greater than
was in the peace establishment before the last war, when we had
so numerous, but distant possessions to defend; and it is ex-
tremely probable that this may be reduced, in a short time, con-
siderably under the sum stated in the report. The ordnance,
also, is stated largely ; this, however, we shall be under the ne-
cessity of keeping up ; it was found that we•were very wanting
in this respect in the beginning of the last war; and it would
be very hazardous to allow ourselves to run a similar risk in any

The miscellaneous services are taken upon an average of some
years back : but I think it is very probable that they too have
been stated higher than they will be found to be : these arose,
chiefly from addresses of this House to the king, for particular
grants, and also from the establishments of our colonies abroad,
and from bills of exchange drawn by their governors upon the
treasury ; these services were stated at 74,0001. Deducting the
whole of the expenditure from the annual income, there remain-
ed a surplus of 900,0001.

This, then, is the sum which remains to be applied to the pur-
pose of decreasing the annual debt : but, as the fund for this
purpose ought to be' a million annually, I shall move, in this
committee, such taxes as will produce the sum of 100,0001.
And I am happy to say, that this may be done without laying
fresh burthens upon the people. I shall move that an additional
duty he laid upon spirits ; they were formerly charged in what
is called the wash, with seven-pence per gallon, that was after-
wards decreased to five-pence ; I shall-now raise it to six-pence
per gallon, which will produce about 70,0001., without being
any encouragement to smuggling. Another I mean to lay is only
a modification of a tax ; a duty upon the importation of two
species of timber, deals and battens: I will rate this at 30,0001.
I shall lay another upon an article of mere luxury ; upon per-
fumery and hair powder ; these I will rate at 15,000, or 20,0001.

So that, altogether, the sum wanted to complete the million
be' made up.

After I have now stated these things to you; I must observe
that, although this is stated to be the annual expenditure, some
tithe must intervene before the expenditure can be reduced to

'this point. It -must be attended to, that we are only just emerged
from the most ruinous and expensive war in which this coun-
try was ever engaged. Many of the heavy burthens we incurred
during that war, had -hot ended with the conclusion of it, but
still continued, and must be expected some time 'to continue to
hang upon us. Under the head of the navy, many ships that
had been laid upon the stocks were to be finished. They had
been built too far to allow them to go back, and to be lost to the
public ; and they were, besides, necessary to increase our naval
strength to an equality with our powerful neighbours. This was
so considerable, that, although the committee had stated the
peace establishment of the navy at 1,800,0001., yet the expense
attending this present-year was 600,0001. above it, though it may
not, perhaps, be inure than 560,00W. In the army also, the ex-
ceedings were much above the-common—run of the expense on
that establishment ; and this amounted to nearly 300,0001. This
is chiefly expended in a Way inhere justice and humanity forbid
ederibrity — to the reduced officers on half pay, and to the widows
of offleet

•s•; a part of the nary extraordinary is taken up in the:
saute way. These two sums would goAniost to annihilate the
surplus if it was to be applied - 1-/ese purposes within the year.
But in truth and fact they are 1,0t- annual charges, they are only
the remaining sums, of .the expentes of last war, and must cease
altogether in a few years. It would, therefore, be unfair and
unwise to charge' them as aunual'expenditures. In four years
the great burthen of them, that of the ship-building, will cease:
nor can this be effected sooner: I conceive, therefore, that you
must look to a .ftiture average to come at your expense. It ap-
pears to me that this may be done with great safety ; and I have
not a doubt but that resources are to be found that will justify
this mode of proceeding, and be sufficient to keep every thing'


well without burthening the nation. And if we judge in this
manner, there can be no doubt that the expectations raised by
the public will be amply satisfied.

Now, therefore, I wish to call the attention of the committee
to this object. I am clear that we immediately appropriate this
million to the payment of the debt, even although the time when
we shall have this surplus free from all other expenses, cannot be
exactly ascertained. I myself am persuaded, that, as I have al-
ready intimated, we have certain extraordinary resources to which
we may apply to liquidate this sum, without the addition of new
taxes. Let us then examine what sums they are for which we
have to provide the means of payment.— This extraordinary ex-
pense chiefly arises from the navy : and it was occasioned by the
very large contracts into which we had entered for the building
of ships. On this account 2,400,0001. had been called for this
year, as the extraordinary expense of the navy ; but this would
not continue to be required after the ships now building were
completed. This would decrease each year, and would be, in
every probability, reduced to a standing sum for a peace esta-
blishment in the year 1790. This expense, and the very liberal
establishment of 1,800,0001. would enable us to possess a marine
the most flourishing this country ever beheld. As the estimate
for the navy stands this present year, it is 600,0001. above what
is stated at the settled peace expense in the year 1790. But it is
to be noticed, that, after two new ships have been completed,
which will be in the course of this year, this extra sum will be
reduced to 400,0007.; this, in four years, amounts to the sum of
1,600,0007., and, with the additional expense of this year, to

With regard to the army, the expenses also had been very
great, but were of a nature which also tended to diminish, in
time, but which it was impossible to restrict. What this chiefly
arose from was, as I mentioned before, from pensions to officers'
widows, and to officers upon half pay ; and this sum amounted
to about 260,0001. Under this head of expense comes also
that occasioned by bills of exchange from our colonies abroad;


these amounted to very considerable extra sums of late years.
But when we recollect, that we are not now obliged to keep up
the immense establishments abroad that we have been accus-
tomed to do, we may expect these will diminish very rapidly.
Our chief expense at present arises from Canada; and from the
well-known prudence, honour, economy, and disinterested spirit
of the gallant officer who is now appointed to that command,
we have every reason io hope that a very considerable saving of
expense will be produced. I need only mention his name to
enforce conviction of whatever I say in his praise ; the great
and gallant officer I speak of is Sir Guy Carleton. Those who
are acquainted with his military talents and military conduct,
deservedly hold him high indeed. But from his no less ac-
knowledged disposition to economy, from his vigilance and ac-
tivity, we may say, that whatever can be done by care and
attention will be effected. And at present, even the extraor-
dinary expense is not very considerable, as far as it has come to
our knowledge ; but we have reason to think that a saving may
be produced on this establishment.

Another matter of expense comes properly under this head;
and it is what the House have already acknowledged to be a just
demand upon the justice and generosity of this nation, that is, a
provision for the American sufferers. Their situation demands
the most tender consideration. Nor would. I chuse to mention
any sum for this purpose ; if it was a great one, it would raise
the expectations of those unhappy people ; and I would not wish
to say any thing more to them than that I hope there will he a
generous and liberal regard paid to their melancholy and unfor-
tunate circumstances. Another matter of extra expense under
this head, is the ordnance ; but as parliament have not decided
what is to be the expense of it, and have already disapproved
going into large additions to this part of the national establish-
ment, I shall not say what sum will be necessary for this pur-
pose. All these different subjects of expense are, in a great
measure, uncertain ; nor is it possible at present to say, with.

3 •

230 MR. PITT'S [MARcu

minute accuracy, to what particular sum they will amount : but
I think a sum of 300,0001. is likely to be the call for those
purposes, and to be provided for in the course of two or three

There is another matter of expense which the committee
have not mentioned in their reports, and which is the subject of
the King's message this day ; this will be a matter before par- •
liament. The impossibility of reducing the civil list within
the sum of 900,0001. allowed by parliament, proceeded chiefly
from that part being mortgaged for the payment of certain
exchequer bills, by annual payments of 50,0001., which reduced
it from 900,000 to 850,0001. Of these exchequer bills there
remains due about 180,0004 and there was besides, an arrear
against the civil list of about 30,0001. more. The crown had
long been embarrassed by this incumbrance ; and that it may be
entirely removed, I shall move on this day sc'nnight, when His ,
Majesty's message shall be taken into consideration, for the
sum of 210,0001.

The whole, therefore, that we are now to find the means of
providing for is, the extra expenses of the navy and army, which
I have stated liberally at 3,000,0001. This is to be accounted
for in the course of four years, after which time we shall have
a clear annual surplus of a million, uninenmbered with any de-
mands upon the national income. Although this sum should
be funded, and ways, and means found to answer the interest, it
would not occasion. any great burthen upon the people; but the
state of this. country at present is so very flourishing, that I am
happy to say that it will not be necessary to burthen the people
with any taxes upon this account, but certain extraordinary re-
sources arc to be found within ourselves that abundantly
answer what .is here required. The committee first make men-
tion of lotteries ; which are, indeed, a resource that govern-
ment can have recourse to, but which is in itself so encouraging
to a. spirit of gambling, that it is doubtful whether it ought to
he adopted. The spirit of gambling is indeed so deeply rooted,
that I am afraid it is of little consequence whether a lottery be


withholden or not, and it is always a resource equal to 140,0001.;
however, as it is not resolved by government whether there
shall be one this year, I shall not put it to- account.

The next head they mention is that of army savings, and this
bears the appearance of being very considerable : and indeed a
very considerable sum under this description had been paid into
the exchequer ; this consisted chiefly of money that had been
appropriated to different services, and which had not been -ex-
pended. This had been very considerable in the peace following
the war before the last; and from the extent of the immense
grants during this war, we might expect much more. Of these
sums, together with the surplus of several funds, the amount of
450,0001. had already been paid into the exchequer. There are,
besides this, immense sums in the hands of former paymasters,
which, it is to be expected, we shall be able in a little time to
come at. The mode, hitherto, of keeping the army accounts
has been extremely open to abuse ; and accordingly paymasters
have taken-every advantage to keep the public money in their
hands. Notwithstanding this, it is to be hoped that as soon as
the commissioners- have time to call in the out-standing ac-
counts, they will be enabled to collect a very great sum : this
is justified as far as they have gone ; but the labour is extremely
great, as they have to go through no less than one hundred and
eighteen regiments of foot, and as many regiments of horse
and dragoons whose accounts for non-effective men had not
been examined into for twenty years

together. One regiment

they had gone through already had produced 22,0001. for the
use of government; and although I cannot be so sanguine as
to hope that every regiment will produce as much,'yet I think
I may state the total, including contracts and other articled
abuse, at the sum of 100,0001.

The next source mentioned by the committee, is a balance
due from the East-India company for the subsistence of troops.
in India)

and on account of victualling the navy. This amounted
to 600,0001:;. and there was a probability of its being paid in a
very short time. The committee also mentioned the unclaiMett

0 4


dividends in the funds, that a part of them might be applied
consistently .with the safety of the public creditors to the pub-
lic use.

The crown lands are also a source of produce ; but as it is
not determined how to dispose of them, I will not mention them
in the account ; and that perhaps it might be thought right to
apply them to the relief of the American loyalists.

The great article upon which the committee dwell, and upon
which they founded their expectations of a permanent surplus,
is the improvement of our•revenne by proper regulations to dis-
courage smuggling, and give room to the fair trader to reap
those advantages which are due to his labours, and which must
in every light add to the amount of the customs ; this, both by
encouraging the legal merchant, and bringing those goods to a
regular entry that would have been clandestinely disposed of.
The regulations which had been already made in this respect,
had not had room for their full operation, and yet they have oc-
casioned a very great addition to the revenue of . the nation, and
might be expected still to increase, as this increase is regular
and progressive, and not the sudden effect of the suppression of
our warlike operations. It is indeed not easy to be conceived,
by those not conversant in those subjects, how numerous and
how artful the frauds arc which are daily put in practice in every
subject of the national revenue. One article, that of wine, re-
quired immediate remedy ; and I flatter myself with very great
sums indeed from this branch. The consumption of wine in this
country is not diminished, and yet it does not appear that the
average of last year compared with the year 1746, is equal to it
in produce of revenue, so far that it sinks below it no less than
240,0001. Without laying a burthen upon the country, there
are many regulations to be made in the article of spirits that will
increase the revenue from that branch of trade. The article of
tobacco. is another object that attention must be paid to : and I
have no doubt that from the regulations that will be proposed in
these„ articles, at least 300,0001. annually may be produced. In
another session of parliament I intend also to bring about a con-



sideration of the customs, which will undoubtedly add greatly
to the produce, of the revenue : we shall not, however, enter
upon this at present ; I have stated enough to the House. Those
Who compare our annual sums to our annual expenditure, may
here see sums equal to apply to the deficiencies without any new
demands, or any new burthens upon the people.- I have stated
what these deficiencies may be, as matters 'Of uncertainty ; but
if it be about 3,000,0001. the whole may b`h provided for without
any new burthens of any sort. Why, it may be said, do I not
fund this ? For this good reason ; that I shall 'not, in all pro-
bability, have occasion to raise it : even if it were funded now
there could be little hazard of its being made good.

I may now proceed to lay apart the million : but before I
enter upon that part of the discussion which relates to the par-
ticular mode of applying this annual sum, it will be proper to
consider the effect it will have. If this million, to be so applied,
is laid out, with its growing interest, ,

it will amount to a very
great sum in a period that is not very long in the life of an indi-
vidual, and but an hour in the existence of a great nation : and
this will diminish the debt of this country so much as to prevent
the exigencies of war from raising it to the enormous height it
has hitherto done. In the period of twenty-eight years the sum
of a million, annually improved,. would amount to four millions
per annum:

But care must be taken that this fund be not broken in upon:
this has hitherto been the bane of this country : for if the ori-
ginal sinking fund bad been properly preserved, itis easy to be
proved that our debts at this moment would not have been very
burthensome : this has hitherto been, in vain, endeavoured to
be prevented by acts of parliament : the minister has uniformly,
when it suited his convenience, gotten hold of this sum, which
ought to' have been regarded as most sacred. What then is the
way of preventing this ?. The


plan I mean to propose is this :
that this sum be vested in certain commissioners, to be by them
applied quarterly to buy up-stock; by this means, no sum so
great will ever lie ready to be seiied upon any occasion, and

234 M. PITT'S
[MARcll 29,

the fund will go on without interruption . Long, and very long
has this country struggled under its heavy load, without any
prospect of being relieved : but it may now look forward to an
object upon which the existence of this country depends ; it is,
therefore, proper it should be fortified as much as possible
against alienation. By this manner of paying 250,0001. quar-
terly into the hands of commissioners, it would make it impos-
sible to take it by stealth ; and the advantage would be too
well felt ever to suffer a public act for that purpose. A minister
could not have the confidence to come to this House and de-
sire the repeal of so beneficial a law, which tended so directly
to relieve the people from their burthens.

The persons who should be appointed to this commission
should be of rank and distinction, to secure them from suspicion,
and to give, as far as character could go, a belief of their dis-
charging it. with faithfulness . In the first place, I think it right
that the respectable commoner, whoever he shall be, who fills
the chair of this House, should be placed at the head of it. Par-
liament, in instituting a commission of so much importance to-
wards the support of national credit and prosperity, could not
more solemnly, nor more pointedly promulgate its high sense of
the duty by which that commission is bound, • than by appoint-

ing the first member of this House to be at the head of it. I
think also, without ascribing any thing to myself, that the per-
son who holds an office so intimately connected with finance as

the chancellor of the exchequer, ought to have a place in this
commission. There is another person who, from his high rank,
as well as from his virtues and reputation, I think ought to have
a share in this business, and he is also, at present, a member of
this House : this is the master of the rolls. The governor and the

deputy-governor of the Bank of England I think ought also to be
of the number. Also the accountant-general of the high court
of chancery, who, by virtue of his office, was already employed in
the money of all suitors and wards in the funds, and increasing, by
that means, the capital,by the accumulation of compound interests.

Such as these persons I shall propose to be appointed to this


trust, • when the bill comes before the cojumittee. There might
he.sorne difficulty in determining how to regulate the conduct of
the commissioners in the purchase of stock ; but that might, per-
haps, be left to their own discretion. But although it might be
proper to leave the manner of doing this to their own prudence,
it would not be so proper, by any means, to leave to them the
regulation of the time when they were to purchase : this, I think,
ought to be on every transfer day in the quarter, at regular
periods, and in equal sums.

I am very far from ascribing any merit to myself in suggesting
this scheme; but, -I cannot but think myself peculiarly happy in
having a task -to perform so very different from any of my
predecessors, and that, instead of expending the money of the
public, I should have the great good fortune to be led to set about
to diminish our burthens. This plan, which I have now the honour
to bring forward, has long been the wish and the hope of all
men ; and I am proud to flatter myself that my name may be
inscribed on that firm column now about to be raised to national
faith and national prosperity.

I shall not detain the House longer, because I •am persuaded
that they must be already tired of the tedious detail upon which
I have been under the necessity of entering. The time when the
operation of this fund is to begin, I think should be upon the
5th of July. At that time:let 250,0001. be paid into the hands
of the commissioners for this purpose ; and after that, continued
quarterly ; this will make 750,0001. to be expended during the
three quarters. I shall just mention upon what I round the
expectations of having a surplus this year, 0 1. 750,0001. after
paying the current expenses- of the year ; by which there will
appear a surplus over and above the stipulated annual one of
some hundred thousand pounds.

The House had voted for seamen

Ordinary of navy






[MARCH- 29-

Army plantations, extraordinaries, &c 1,966,261

Ordnance 333,000

Civil list, &c. making the sum voted 8,956,261

Exchequer bills 2,500,000

Sum not yet voted ,. 810,824

£.12,477,085The total of the supplies would be

The ways and means are as follow

Land and malt-tax.,
Exchequer bills
Surplus of the sinking fund, in hand
Estimated produce of 1786
Arrears from East-India company life annuities, &c. 1,086,000

Amount of ways and means for the current

From which deduct the surplus, as above
year, 1786


Remainder, X.

From this sum deduct the three quarterly pay-
ments beginning on the 5th of July, of
250,0007. per quarter, for the reduction
of our debts, amounting to

And there would he a neat surplus of
But if, 'as the committee stated, the revenue

rise according to the latest experience,
there would still -he a farther difference in
our favour of

Making, in this case, a clear excess, accruing at
Christmas next, (above the regular surplus)
of the sum of 419,093


I shall now move, Sir, " That a sum of one million be annu-
ally granted to certain commissioners, to be by them applied to
the purchase of stocks, towards discharging the public debt of
this country, which money shall arise out of the surplusses,
excesses, and overplus monies, composing the fund commonly
called the sinking fund."

The motion was:agreed to without opposition.

February 12. 1787.

Tar: House, pursuant to the order of the day, resolved itself into a
Committee of the whole House, to consider of so much of His Majesty's
speech as related to the Treaty of Commerce concluded with France.

MR. PITT then rose :

He trusted that when the House considered the magnitude of
the subject, they would not only forgive him for trespassing upon
their patience with an extended investigation, but would en-
courage him in his attempts to throw all necessary lights upon
its nature, and its possible effects. Convinced that he could not
enter into details without employing much time, he should, on
this account, avoid needlessly prolonging the hours of debate,
by the introduction of any extraneous matter whatsoever. If
the treaty should be found to comprehend principles hostile to
the received notions and doctrines of British commerce, and
that thereby a general spirit of objection and discontent had-
spread abroad over the country, he was assured that it would
little avail him to stand up in that committee, and argue for the
acceptance of a negotiration, which was generally offensive. The
committee would not be seduced, by any thing which he might be
able to advance, from the exercise of their clear and

dent jadginents ; and certainly they would not be bound

. in any
degree to the confirmation of this treaty, unless, after the most
deliberate and solemn discussion, they should perceive it sup-
ported by the most rational principles, and by the most incon-







31 3,698 _


trovertible policy ; and so finding it., declare their sense of it,
by adopting the means necessary for carrying it into effect.

On this occasion, he should not hesitate again earnestly to
contend, that the treaty, in its commercial aspect, had been be-
tween four and five months before the public, and it was on that
ground that he had confidence in going into the committee, and
commencing its discussion. For if, after remaining between four

and five months in , the hands of every manufacturer and merchant
in the kingdom, after being freely discussed in various publica-
tions, it should turn out that no one complaint had been heard ;
that no great manufacturing body of men had taken the alarm ;
and that nothing whatever had happened to prevent the discus-
sion, save the petition presented upon that day, praying for time,
from a few manufacturers collected in a certain chamber of com-
merce, he should certainly think himself justified in calling the
attention of the committee to the discussion. If even that very
chamber who thus presented the petition, did not at the same
time state any reasons against the treaty, but leaned itself simply
on the rape and unsatisfactory- ground, that after four or five
Months they had not had time, he was sensible that gentlemen
would not think it a substantial ground for delay ; after the
expiration of such a period of time, it appeared that all upon
which they had determined, was to entertain doubts, and of
course avoid bringing forward an opinion upon the subject.
But another transaction had been mentioned and coupled with
this, he must say, in a very singular manner — he meant the Irish
propositions. Did the honourable,gentleman* mean to insinuate
that there was any analogy between this treaty arid those
propositions? Surely he did not intend to conclude from -that
experience, that the manufacturers were a body of men slow to
apprehend their own danger, or to communicate their apprehen-
sions to parliament ; or did the honourable gentleman wish to'
keep the resemblance in another way ? Those propositions, after
being canvassed, discussed, and debated, were at length, on

Mr. Sheridan.

the most solemn deliberation, and he thought with the most
perfect wisdom, approved by the parliament of Great Britain as
a set of resolutions, salutary and political, f'or the' basis of an
intercourse. But those propositions, so evidently opposed by the
manufacturers here, had in the end been rejected by another
kingdom as injurious and inimical to her interests. Was this the
part of the precedent which the honourable gentleman meant to
select ? But, in. truth, there was no similarity. The manufac-
turers, who were in general not a little watchful of their interests,
and he rejoiced that they were vigilant, had taken no alarm.
The woollen trade, so properly dear to this country, had mani-
fested no species of apprehension. The manufacturers of cam-
brics, of glass, the distillery, and other members and branches
of our domestic trade, though, in fact,' particularly affected by
the treaty,- had made no complaint, much less had they received
any notices from the manufacturers, from the hardware, _the
pottery, and other branches, of any objection.

If after four or five months nothing like an objection had been
heard ; and if at the same tithe gentlemen were sensible, that in
many parts of the country, many descriptions of men were now
eagerly looking forward for the completion of the business, form-
ing exclusive speculations on the foot of it, and all waiting in
readiness and anxiety to avail themselves of the benefits, and
with themselves greatly to benefit their country, he begged of
gentlemen not to think that they rashly entered into the consider-
ation of the subject. Under these circumstances, therefore,
he felt himself justified in declaring, that a reference to the case
of the Irish propositions, made more for his arguments, and
against his opponents, than was perhaps suspected. While the
propositions were agitating, and they were not surely more inju-
rious than gentlemen would represent this treaty to be, the ma-
nufacturers of the kingdom came forward to parliament ; and at
a. time when they experienced every attention and indulgence
from the House, exhibited themselves the most incontrovertible,
and indeed, laudable proof, that, while they fancied themselves
endangered, or saw their interests at stake, they possessed.the

MR. PITT'S LEes• 12.

010 MR. NTT'S [FEB. 12.
most unremitting vigilance in watching over their concerns, and
at least a sufficient degree of firmness in maintaining their ob-
jections. There was not a body which thought itself concerned
but instantly took alarm, and joined in the general remonstrances.
Was it not fair then to conclude, that if any such apprehensions
at present existed, instead of supineness and negligence, they
would apply to parliament again with redoubled earnestness;
but, so far were the public *from entertaining any dislike, or even
doubts, concerning the merits of this treaty, that from the very
best information he could assert, in the presence of many of
the members from great commercial towns, that in most parts of
the country they looked with sanguine wishes for the speedy rati-
fication of it. Great and various were the objects of' this treaty,
but the resolutions which he should have the honour to propose
that evening would lie in a narrow compass, and be easily em-
braced. It was not his intention to draw the committee to any
general resolution which should involve. the measures necessary to
be taken in future, nor need gentlemen be alarmed by the ground-
less idea of being committed by one question to all the important
details necessary to the full establishment of the system. • Several
observations had been made respecting the navigation laws and
maritime regulations, upon which, as they did not come within
the scope of his motion to the committee, and more properly
belonged to the prerogative and the executive government, he
would forbear offering any remarks. He meant only to submit
to them certain leading resolutions, tending merely to the com-
mercial establishment, and they were founded on the Gth and
11th articles of the treaty. The result of the resolutions was
precisely this :

1. That the committee should agree, that all articles not enu-
merated ,and specified in the tariff should be importable into
this country, on terms as favourable as those of the most coun-
tenanced nation, excepting always the power of preferring
Portugal, under the provisions of the Methuen treaty..

2. That if any future treaty should be made with any other
foreign power, in any articles either mentioned or not mentioned


in the present treaty, France shall be put on the same, or on as
favourable terms as that power. And

3. That all the articles enumerated and specified in the tariff
shall be admitted into this country on the duties, and with the
stipulations stated in the sixth article.

He thus confined himself to the commercial part of the treaty ;
nor was even all, which belonged to that part, comprehended in
the scope of these resolutions. It would be necessary for the
committee to take into their consideration the relative state of the
two kingdoms. On the first blush of the matter, he believed he
might venture to assert it, as a fact generally admitted, that
France had the advantage in the gift of soil and climate, and fir
the amount of her natural produce ; that, on the contrary, Great
Britain was, on her part, as confessedly superior in her manu-
factures and artificial productions. Undoubtedly, in point of
-natural produce, France had greatly the advantage in this treaty..
Her wines, brandies, oils, and vinegars, particularly the two for-
mer articles, were matters of such important value in her produce,
as greatly and completely to destroy all idea of reciprocity as to
natural produce—we perhaps having nothing of that kind to put
in competition, but simply the article of beer. But, on the con-
trary, was it not a fact as demonstrably clear, that Britain, in its
turn, possessed some manufactures exclusively her own, and that
in others she had so completely the advantage of her neighbour,
as to put competition to defiance ? This then was the relative con-
dition, and this the precise ground, on which it was imagined that
a valuable correspondence and connection between the two might
be established. Having each its own and distinct staple—having
each that which the other wanted ; and not clashing in the great
and leading lines of their respective riches, they were like two
great traders in different branches, they might enter into a traffic
which would prove mutually beneficial to them. Granting that
a large quantity of their natural produce would be brought into
this country, would any man say, that we should not send more
cottons by the direct course now settled, than by the circuitous
passages formerly used — more of our woollens, than while


242 MR. PITT'S
[Fns. 12.

restricted in their importation to particular ports, and burthened
under heavy duties ? Would not more of our earthen ware, and
other articles, which, under all the disadvantages that they for-
merly suffered, still, from their intrinsic superiority, force.thcir
way regularly into France, now be sent hither ? and would not the
aggregate of our manufactures be greatly and eminently benefited
in going to this market loaded only with duties from twelve to
ten, and in one instance with only five per cent.? If the advan-
tages in this respect were not so palpable and apparent as to strike
and satisfy every mind interested in the business, would not the
House have had very different petitions on their table than that
presented this day ? The fact was apparent. The article (sadlery)
charged the most highly in the tariff; gave no sort of alarm.
The traders in this article, though charged with a duty of fifteen
per cent. knew their superiority so well, that they cheerfully
embraced the condition, and conceived that the liberty would be
highly advantageous to them. A market of so many millions of
people — a market so near and prompt — a market of expeditious
and certain return — of necessary and extensive consumption,
thus added to the manufactures and commerce of Britain, was an
object which we ought to look up to with eager and satisfied
ambition. To procure this, we certainly ought not to scruple to
give liberal conditions. We ought not to hesitate, because this
which must be so greatly advantageous to us must also have its
benefit for them. It was a great boon procured on easy terms,
and as such we ought to view it. It was not merely a consoling,
but an exhilarating speculation to the mind of an Englishman,
that, after the empire had been engaged in a competition the
most arduous and imminent of any that ever threatened a nation
— after struggling for its existence, still it maintained its rank
and efficacy so firmly, that France, finding they could not shake
her, now opened , its. arms, and offered a beneficial connection
with her on easy, liberal, and. advantageous terms.

We had agreed, by this treaty to take from France, on small
duties, the luxuries of her soil, which, however, the refinements
of ourselves had converted into necessaries. The wines of France.


were already so much in the possession of our markets, that,
with all the high duties paid by us, they found their way to our
tables. Was it then a serious injury to admit these luxuries on
easier terms ? The admission of them would not supplant the
wines of Portugal, nor of Spain, but would supplant only an
useless and pernicious manufacture in this country. He stated
the enormous increase of the import of French wines lately, and
instanced the months of July and August, the two most unlikely
Months in the year, to skew the increase of this .

trade. The
committee would not then perceive any great evtl in admitting
this article on easy terms. The next- was brandy ; and here it
would be inquired whether the diminution of duty was an eligible
measure. He believed they would also agree with him en this
article, when they viewed it with regard to smuggling. The
reduction of the duties would have a material effect on the con-
traband in this article ; it was certain that the legal importation
bore no proportion to the quantity clandestinely imported ; for
the legal importation of brandy was no more than 600,000 gal-
lons, and the supposed amount of the smuggled, at the most
rational and best-founded estimate, was between three and four
hundred thousand gallons. Seeing then that this article had.
taken such complete possession of the taste of the nation, it
might be right to procure to the state a greater advantage from
the article than heretofore, and to crush the contraband by
legalizing the market.

The oil and vinegar of France were comparatively small objects,
but, like the former, they were luxuries which had taken the
shape of necessaries, and which we could suffer nothing from
accepting on easy terms. These were the natural produce of
France to be admitted under this treaty. Their next inquiry should
be to see if France had any manufactures peculiar to herself; or
in which- she so greatly excelled as to give us alarm on account
of the treaty, viewing it in that aspect. Cambric was the first
which stared him in the face, but which, when he looked around

r- him, and observed the general countenance of the committee,
he could hardly think it necessary to (retain them a -moment-

R 2

244 MR. mrs [FEB. 12.
upon. The fact was, it was an article in which our competition
with France had ceased, and there was no injury in granting an
easy importation to that which we would have at any rate. In
no other article was there any thing very formidable in the
rivalry of France. Glass would not be imported to any amount.
In particular kinds of lace, indeed, they might have the advan-
tage, but none which they would not enjoy independent of the
treaty ; and the clamours about millinery were vague and
tunneaning, when, in addition to all these benefits,. we included
the richness of the country with which we were to trade : with its
superior population of twenty millions to eight, and of course a
proportionate consumption, together with its vicinity to us, and
the advantages of quick and regular returns, who could hesitate
for a moment to applaud the system, and look forward with
ardour and impatience to its speedy ratification? The possession
of so extensive and safe a market must improve our commerce,
while the duties transferred from the hands of smugglers to their
proper channel would benefit our revenue — the two sources of
British opulence and British power.

Viewing the relative circumstances of the two countries then
in this way, he saw no objection to the principle of the exchange
of their respective commodities. He saw no objection to this,
because he perceived and felt that our superiority in the tariff
was manifest. The excellence of our manufactures was unri-
valled, and in the operation must give the balance to England.
But it was said, that the manufacturers dreaded the continuance
of this superiority. They were alarmed at the idea of a compe-
tition with Ireland, and consequently they must be more under
apprehensions at the idea of a rivalry with France. He always
did think, and he must still continue to think, that the opinions
of the manufacturers on this point were erroneous. They raised
the clamour in respect to Ireland chiefly, he imagined, because
they perceived no certain and positive advantage by the inter-
course to counterbalance this precarious and uncertain evil. In
this instance, their consent to the treaty did not proceed from a
blind. Acquiescence, for they never would be blind to their inte-


rest ; but now that they saw so certain and so valuable an advan-
tage to be reaped, the benefits being no longer doubtful, they
were willing to hazard the probability of the injury.

Some gentlemen thought proper to contend, that no beneficial
treaty could be formed between this country and France, be-
cause no such treaty had ever been formed, and because, on the
contrary, commercial intercourses with her had always been in-
jurious to England. This reasoning was completely fallacious,
though it sounded largely. For, in the first place, we had not,
during a very long series of years, experienced any commercial
connection with France, and could not therefore form a rational
estimate of its merits ; and secondly, though it might be true
that a commercial intercourse founded on the treaty of Utrecht
would have been injurious, it did not follow that this would
prove the same ; for at that time the manufactures, in which we
now excelled, had hardly existence, but were on the side of
France instead of being against her. The tariff did not then, as
now, comprehend all the articles in which we comparatively
excelled, but in addition to the produce of France, which at all
periods must be the same, she had the balance of manufactures
also in her favour. At that period also the

prejudices of our

manufacturers against France were in their rage, and corre-
sponded with the party violence of the day in the reprobation of
the measure ; but so far was the parliament from entertaining
the opinion of no treaty being otherwise than detrimental, which
could be made with France, that they went up with an address
to Her Majesty, 'praying her to renew commercial negotiations
with the court of France. It was not correctly stated, neither
that we had invariably considered it as our policy to resist all
connection with France. She had been more jealous of us than
we of her Prohibitions'began on the part of -France, and we
only retaliated in our own defence. These part& of his subject
he felt it difficult to drop, without again adverting to' the effect
of this treaty on our revenue, which would almost exceed credi-
bility, though it would cause an average reduction of 501. per
cent. in every article in our book of rates ; on French wines the.

R 3

246 MR. PITT'S [FEB. 12.

reduction would be 10,0001. per annum ; on Portugal wines,
170,0001. should the Methuen treaty he continued ; and, on
brandy, a reduction of 20,0001. The surrender of revenue for
great commercial purposes was a policy by no means unknown
in the history of Great Britain, but here we enjoyed the extra,
ordinary advantage of having them returned to us in a three-fold.
rate, by extending and legalizing the importation of the articles.
When it was considered. that the increase must exceed the con-
cession which we made, it would no longer be an argument that
we cannot afford this reduction. Increase by means of reduc-
tion, he was obliged to confess, appeared once a paradox,
but experience had now convinced us that it was more than

The simple question for the committee to consider, was,
Whether, if the situation of the two countries was. changed in
its relative aspect—if it was true, that at the treaty of Utrecht
we had but little to send to France, and that we had now.much
to send them— that our manufactures were so confessedly super
rior as to dread no competition, and greatly to counterbalance
the natural produce of France — we ought not to enter into the
treaty ; or whether there was some preposterous and inscruta-
ble, as well as fixed and eternal, something between the two
countries which must prevent them from ever forming any cow,
nection, or cherishing any species of amity ? Having decided
on this point, the next business of the committee was to see
how far this treaty would affect their commercial treaties with
other powers. This naturally led him to Portugal ; and he must
positively affirm, that there was nothing which prevented them
from complying fully with the conditions of the Methuen treaty,
if the British legislature should find it right, by the conduct of
Portugal, to maintain the full force of that treaty. By enlarg.
ing their market for wine, they neither infringed on the.markets
of Portugal nor of Spain, It was not pretended even that the
treaty could affect their connection with any other powers.

He contended, that it was not more necessary to view the ef-
fects Of the treaty in its commercial operation, than as it might


have an influence on the revenue. There would undoubtedly
be a very considerable reduction of cloaks. It was a question,
however, whether this reduction would be attended with a pro,
portionate loss to the revenue. On the subject of wines, it was
certain that this reduction would not so Operate; for if the
Methuen treaty was to be preserved, and he certainly thought
that nothing but the conduct of Portugal could make us harbour
the idea of putting an end to it, there must be a defalcation from
the subsisting dales on wine to the amount of 160 or 170,000/.
a year. On brandy there must also be a loss, though a very
small one, considering the probable increase of the legal import a.
tion — but there might be a diminution of the revenue to the
amount of 20,0001. Taking this evil at the worst, a surrender
of revenue for great commercial purposes was not contradictory
to sound policy, not to established practice. it was happy for
the nation that this delineation would make no difference
because it did not interfere with the plan of applyingthe surplus
of the revenue to the payment of the debt.

Previous to an examination of the treaty in its political as-,
pect, he begged leave to trespass upon the patience of the House,
whilst he adverted to the report made to the general chamber of
manufacturers — a report, which would now form a part of his
speech ; but; however, he should be sorry and ashamed were
the committee to mistake it as being actually a part ot'his speech.
The House would, therefore, please to recollect; that this

bet of manufacturers had asked, " What laws must be repealed
to make room for the French treaty ?" Theymeeded not to sus-
pend their opinions simply on this ground; they might have left
the task of discovering these laws to parliament, unless they
meant to take from their the trouble of legislation. The enu-
meration which they had made was singular. They had found
out that the aliens' duty must be repealed. In confirmation of
this, they had thought proper to observe, that besides the laws
restraining exportation, there are many others which, in favour
of our own manufactures, prohibit the importation of foreign
goods, as the 4th Edward 4th, chap. 1. by which no cloths


MR. PITT'S [FEB. 12.

wrought beyond sea, shall be brought into England, and set to
sale. That the 3d Edward 4th, chap. 3d and 4th : The 1st of
Richard 3d, chap. 12.: The 7th Elizabeth, chap. 7. : The 13th and
14th Charles 2d, chap. 13. contain a variety of prohibitions on
the importation of a great number of articles in the woollen, iron,
copper, and glass manufactures : every one of which laws must
necessarily be repealed. And that it has also been proved by
a law, 1st of Richard 3d, chap. 9th, and 32d Henry 8th, chap. 15.
" That no alien shall sell by retail, nor take any lease of a house
or shop to trade in," which must by this treaty also be repealed,
as the permission to sell by retail is not (as was in the treaty of
Utrecht) excepted. And they add, that it may be proper to
remark, that any relaxation of the laws, to prevent the clan-
destine landing of goods, will have a worse effect upon our
manufacturers, than even a direct importation upon certain
duties ; and that by the free approach allowed to French vessels
upon the coast ; and the time given by the treaty to make en-
tries, and to correct them when made, an alteration of the
custom-house laws (made as well for the protection of fair trade,
as the collection of the revenue) must take place, from which
they apprehend great mischiefs may ensue.

Mr. Pitt here remarked, that he believed a well-founded
opinion prevailed in the learned profession, that the statutes of
Richard III. and Henry VIII. imposing that odious duty, were
in fact no longer in existence. If this were not so, he was sure
at least that the gentlemen on the other side of the House, whose
liberal principles he would always acknowledge, would not
become advocates for the continuance of those odious penal
statutes. In this enumeration also they talked of a vast number
of articles which would be clandestinely imported and exported—
of the encouragement to smuggling by the re-approach to our
shores, although the re-approach was pointedly confined to ships
driven by stress of weather, and the danger of alteration of en-.
tries—and that by taking off the old prohibitions, their wool,
their fuller's earth, nay, their tools, utensils, and secrets, would
be transmitted to the rival. He professed he could not divine


the part of the treaty where this committee of manufacturers had
discovered these dangers. He conceived that they were empow-
ered to preserve all the prohibitions which they might think it
wise to continue. He knew not of any possibility of sending the
wool, the fuller's earth, or the tools of the manufacturers out of
the kingdom. He went through the whole report of the com-
mittee, commenting on each passage, and opposing the ideas of
the whole. That a set of manufacturers should neglect to con-
sider the application of the treaty to themselves, while they wan-
dered into the paths of legislation and government, did not look
like that apprehension for their real interests which their terrors
betrayed at the time of the Irish propositions. They indeed ex-
pressed their fears, should the tools and manufacturers of this
country be imported to France ; but upon that subject they may
be quite at their ease, for there was not a word in the treaty to
favour such a construction.

Considering the treaty in its political view, he should not he-
sitate to contend against the too-frequently advanced doctrine,
that France was, and must be, the unalterable enemy of Britain.-
His mind revolted from this position as monstruous and im-
possible. To suppose that any nation could be unalterably the
enemy of another was weak and childish. It had neither its
foundation in the experience of nations, nor in the history of man.
It was a libel on the constitution of political societies

. , and sup-

posed the existence of diabolical malice in the original frame of
man. But these absurd tenents were taken up and propagated ;
nay, it was carried farther; it was said, that, by this treaty, the
British nation was about blindly to throw itself into the arms of
this constant and uniform foe. Men reasoned as if this treaty
was not only to extinguish all jealousy from our bosoms, but
also completely to annihilate our means of defence ; as if by the
treaty we gave up so much of our army, so much of our marine ;
as if our commerce was to be abridged, our navigation to be les-
sened, our colonies to be cut off or to be rendered defenceless,
and as if all the functions of the state were to be sunk in apa-
thy. What ground was there for this train of reasoning ? Did

MR. PITT'S [FEn. lg.
the treaty suppose that the interval of peace between The two
countries would be so totally unemployed by us as to disable us
front meeting France in the moment of war with our accustomed
strength ? Did it not much rather, by opening new sources of
wealth, speak this forcible language — that the interval 'of peace,
as it would enrich the nation, would also prove the means of
enabling her to combat her enemy with more effect when the day
of hostility should come ? It did more than this ; by promoting
habits of friendly intercourse, and of mutual benefit, while it in-
vigorated the resources of Britain, it made it less likely that she
should have occasion to call forth those resources. It certainly
bad at least the happy tendency to make the two nations enter
into more intimate communion with one another, to enter into
the same views even of taste and manners; and while they were
mutually benefited by the connection, and endeared to one an,
other by the result of the common benefits, it gave a better
chance for the preservation of harmony between them, %while,
so far from weakening, it strengthened their sinews for War.
That we should not he taken unprepared for war was a matter
totally distinct from treaty. It depended in no degree on
that circumstance, but simply and totally on the watchfulness
and ability of the administration for the time being. He had
heard of the invariable character of the French nation, and of
the French cabinet ; her restless ambition and her incessant en-
mity and designs against Britain ; and he noticed the particular
instance of her interference in our late disputes, and of the re,
suit oilier attack at that time. That France had, in that instant
of our distress, interfered to crush us, was a truth over which
he did not desire to throw even the slightest veil. Having pre-
mised that the provisions of the treaty would neither delude us
into security, nor accomplish our reduction ; that, on the con-
trary, it would strengthen our hands, and, Whilst it did not di-
minish our means, would throw the prospect, and the necessity
of war, at a very great distance, friendly assurances, he added, '-
were not always to be relied on ; but, although he thought
Trance the aggressor in most of our former wars, yet, her assur-


anccs and frankness during the present negotiation, were such
as, in' his opinion, might be confided in. What might be the
projects which wild ambition might one day dictate, was beyond
his penetration ; but, at present, the court of France was govern,
ed by maxims too prudent and political, not to consult its own
safety and happiness beyond the ministerial aims Of impractica-
ble conquest. Oppressed as this nation was during the last war
by the most formidable combination for its destruction, yet had
France very little to boast at the end of the contest, which should:
induce her again to enter deliberately into hostilities against
this country. In spite of our misfortunes, our resistance must
be admired, and in our defeats we gave proofs of our greatness
and almost inexhaustible resources ; which, perhaps, success
would never shew us

Doris ut ilex tonsa bipennibus,
Nigra? feraci frondis in Aikido;

Per donna, per cades, ab ipso
Ducit opes aninzumque ferro.

Indeed; whilst he recollected the whole of that dreadful con-
troversy, he could deduce arguments from it to reconcile the
present conduct of France with more equitable and more candid
principles of policy than gentlemen seemed willing to attribute to
our rival. When France perceived that, in that dreadful contest,
when with the enormous combination of power against us it

'might be truly said that we were struggling for our existence, we
not only saved our honour, but manifested. the solid, and, he
might also be tempted to say, the inexhaustible resources of the
land; reflecting that, though she had gained her object in dis-
membering our empire, she had done it at an expense which had
sunk herself in extreme embarrassment; and reflecting also,
that such a combination of hostile power against us, without a
single friend in Europe on our side, can never be imagined again
to exist; may I not (exclaimed Mr. Pitt) be led to cherish the
idea, that, seeing the durable and steady character of our
strength, and the inefficacy as well as the ruin ,of hostility, France

252 MR. prrT'S• [Frs. T2.
would eagerly wish to try the benefits of an amicable connection
with us? It was a singular line of argument. which he had heard,
and which he saw was also propagated out of doors, that the
treaty would prove objectionable, if it should be found that,
though advantageous to ourselves, it. would he equally so to
them. It was ridiculous to imagine that the French would
consent to yield advantages without an idea of return : the
treaty would be of benefit to them ; but he did not hesitate to
pronounce his firm opinion, even in the eyes of France, and
pending the business, that though advantageous to her, it would
be more so to us. The proof of this assertion was short , and in-
dubitable. She gained for her wines and other produce a great
and opulent market; we did the same, and to a much greater
degree. She procured a market of eight millions of people, we
a market of twenty-four millions. France gained this market for
her produce, which employed in preparation but few hands, gave
little encouragement to its navigation, and produced but little to
the state. We gained this market for our manufactures, which
employed many hundreds of thousands, and which, in collecting
the materials from every corner of the world, advanced our ma-
ritime strength, and which, in all its combinations, and in every
article and stage of its progress, contributed largely to the state.
France could not gain, the accession of 100,0001. tb her revenue
by the treaty; but England must necessarily gain a million. This
could easily be demonstrated. — The high price of labour in Eng-
land arose chiefly from the excise, and three-fifths of the price
of labour were said to come into the excheger. The produce
of France, on the contrary, was. low in the staple, and less pro-
ductive to the state in the process. Even the reduced duties.
were so proportionably high, that France could not send to us
500,0001. of brandies, but we must gain cent. per cent. by the
article. In this view, then, though France might gain, we must
be, comparatively, so much more benefited, that we ought not
to scruple to give her the advantages : and surely ought not to
fear that this very disproportionate gain could be injurious to us
in case of a future contest. It was in the. nature and essence of


an agreement between a manufacturing country and a country
blessed with peculiar productions, that the advantages must ter-
minate in favour of the former ; but it was particularly disposed
and fitted for both the connections. Thus ' France was, by the
peculiar dispensation of Providence, gifted, perhaps, more than
any other country upon earth, with what .

made life desirable
in point of soil, climate, and natural productions. It had the
most fertile vineyards, and the richest harvests ; the greatest
luxuries of man were produced in it with little cost, -and with
moderate labour. Britain was not thus blest by nature ; but, on
the contrary, it possessed, through the happy freedom of its
constitution, and the equal security of its laws, an energy in its
enterprise, and a stability in its exertions, which had gradually
raised it to a state of commercial grandeur ; and not being so
bountifully gifted by Heaven, it had recourse to labour and art,
by which it had acquired the ability of supplying its neighbour
with all . the necessary embellishments of life in exchange for her
natural luxuries. Thus standing with regard to each other, a
friendly connection seemed to be pointed out between them, in-
stead of the state of unalterable enmity, which was falsely said
to be their true political feeling towards one another.

In conclusion, lie remarked, that, with respect to political re-
lation, this treaty at least, if it affiirded us no benefits, brought
us no disadvantages. It quieted no well-founded jealousy ; it
slackened no necessary exertion ; it retarded no provident sup-
ply : but simply tended, while it increased our ability for war,
to postpone the period of its approach. But on this day he had
only to draw the attention of the House to objects merely com-
mercial, and he must again say, that he by no means wished to
bind them by any resolution this night, to any general appro-•
bation of the measure. He should sit down after voting his first
resolution ; yet he begged to be understood that he meant to
move the others which he had mentioned.

Mr. Pitt now moved, " That in case either of the two high
contracting parties shall think proper to establish prohibitions,
or to augment the import duties upon any goods or merchandise

MR. pars [MAY 9.

of the growth or manufacture of the other, which are not speci-
fied in the tariff, such prohibitions or augmentations shall be
general, and shall comprehend the like goods and merchandises
of the other most favoured European nations, as well as those of
either state : and in case either of the two contracting parties
shall revoke the prohibitions, or diminish the duties, in favour
of any other European nation, upon any goods or merchandise
of its growth or manufacture, whether on importation or export-
ation, such revocations or diminutions shall be extended to the
subjects of the other party, on condition that the latter shall
grant to the subjects of the former the importation and export-
ation of the like goods and merchandises.under the same duties;
the cases reserved in the seventh article of the present treaty
always excepted. That all articles of manufacture and com-
merce, not enumerated in the tariff, be admitted from France, on
paying the same duties as the same articles pay on importation
from the most favoured nation."

The committee divided on Mr. Fox's motion, " That the chairman do
leave the chair, report progress, and ask leave to sit again,"

Ayes 118
Noes 252

and the main question was then put and carried.

May 9. 1787.

Tar. House having proceeded to the order of the day for the further
consideration of the report of the secret committee, appointed to draw
up articles of impeachment against Warren Hastings, Esq. it was
moved, " That this report be now read a second time :"—

Upon which motion an amendment was proposed by Mr. Alderman
Wilkes, " That the report be read a second time this clay three months."

Mn. PITT said that he had deferred giving his sentiments on
the question so- long, because he found many gentleman who
were averse to the prosecution, had hitherto reserved them-
selves on the various stages through which the business had


already passed, and had taken the present opportunity of deliver-,
lug their opinions at large upon the whole of the subject, and
had then for the .

first time entered into the defence of Mr.
Hastings. As this seemed to be the case, he thought it was
but justice to those gentlemen, to Mr. Hastings, and to the
cause, to hear what they had to say without interrupting them,
or anticipating their general argument in favour of Mr. Hastings,
by a particular discussion of the question immediately before the
House. Those gentlemen had not taken up the question either
as to the form of' the articles, or the mode of' proceeding, but had
confined themselves solely to the broad consideration, whether
Mr. Hastings was or was not guilty of crimes sufficiently great
and glaring to render him deserving of punishment ; and this
discussion had been handled in a variety of ways by the several
gentlemen that had undertaken it, and all of them had gone the
length of arguing that there should be a complete and final con-
elusion to the whole proceeding—an opinion that he was ready
to declare his own perfect and entire dissent from : for he felt
himself totally at a loss to conceive how it could be reconciled
to the honour, the consistence, or the justice of that House to
stop short of sending up the impeachment to that place, where
alone it ought to undergo its ultimate discussion.

The noble lord* who opened the debate, and the honourable
magistrate 1- who followed him, had confined themselves wholly
to a collateral question, and not one immediately connected
with that before the House, to the merits of Mr. Hastings, which
they pleaded as a set niTagainst his offences. This was a ground
which he expected and hoped would have been abandoned, after
what had already passed upon that subject, .both from Mr.
Hastings himself, who had disclaimed any such plea, and from
many of the gentlemen who had delivered their opinions in the
debates on the several charges. For his own part, such was his
opinion of many parts of the charges brought against Mr.
Hastings, of their importance and criminality, that he could not
conceive, if they were well founded, how the highest and the

Lord Hood.
1- Alderman Wilkes.

256 MR. PITT'S [MAY 9;

greatest merits which had ever been alleged in favour of Mr.
Hastings, could be set in opposition to them as a plea even
against conviction and punishment—much less against inquiry
and trial, which were now the objects in question. His learned
friend had very judiciously taken a different ground, and given
up that set off ; but still the principles he went on were no less
objectionable than those of the noble lord and the honourable
alderman ; he had treated the subject as if it was deficient of
that consequence or magnitude which could entitle it to the judg-
ment of that high and weighty tribunal to which it was proposed
to submit it, and had besides endeavoured to oppose the farther
progress of the business in that House, by analogous reasonings
from the nature of this form of proceeding in parliament and
that of grand juries and other courts. But he could not con-
ceive how any gentleman could possibly consider the charges
against Mr. Hastings in any other light than as a very grave,
heavy, and serious accusation, such as was supported by evidence
at least sufficient to warrant the putting him on his trial, and
such as was of magnitude sufficient, if substantiated in proof, to
bring down on him very ample punishment.

As to the analogies to other inquests, the learned lord him-
self, and those who entertained opinions similar to his, had
themselves shewn how little their analogous reasonings applied ;
for they all seemed to go upon an "idea, that the finding matter
sufficient to put the party on his trial was assuming, for a cer-
tainty, that there was sufficient matter to convict. But this was
by no means the case ; for it was never supposed or imagined
that exactly the same degree of evidence which was sufficient.to
Warrant an impeachment of that House, must necessarily be suf-
ficient to support and insure a conviction ; neither was this the-
case in the finding of a grand jury : in both cases the final judi-
cature must have proof considerably more substantial than that
which the original inquest would have been justifiable in pro-
ceeding upon. But it was impossible for that House to govern
itself exactly by the rules of a grand jury 'for the subjects that

The Lord Advocate (Mr. Dundas).

were likely to become objects of impeachment, were so different
from those with which grand juries were conversant, that no
analogy could take place in their modes of proceedings. Be-
sides, if the House of Commons were to take the proceeding of a
grand jury as their precedent, and follow it exactly in all
instances, it would amount to a complete dereliction of that func-
tion which they were then exercising— that of impeachment ; a
function which had been the bulwark of the constitution, and
which had enabled that House to preserve and maintain the
freedom of their country, through the several struggles they had
made for that purpose. \Vas that House competent to take
deposition and evidence upon oath ? It certainly was not : and
therefore if it were not to proceed to an impeachment upon any
other species of evidence than would justify a grand jury in find-
ing a bill of indictment, it must never impeach at all ; for a
grand jury could not find it except upon affidavit. Still he
admitted that the House ought never to go to such a length as the
carrying up of an impeachment, except upon such evidence as
would afford a reasonable probability of their being able to make
good their charge before the other House ; and was there not
here, from what had been produced in support of this charge,
and from the collateral and indirect matter which had alone been
resorted to in defence of that charge, very reasonable grounds
for expecting that they should be able to make good the present ?

An honourable magistrate* had inveighed with great severi ty on
the conduct of gentlemen who (he thought), in support of the
charge, had used expressions of too violent and personal a nature
to be admitted in the progress of a judicial inquiry. He certainly
was of opinion, that there was much illiberality in any attempt to
inflame and excite emotions beyond what might naturally be
expected to result - from a fair and candid development of facts in
the minds of those who were the instruments of public justice.
He admitted that he once was of opinion, that the language of
those who chiefly promoted the present proceeding, was too full
of acerbity, and much too passionate and exaggerate4; but when

4' Alderman Townsend.



9.58 MR. PITT'S [MAY 9.

he found what the nature of the crimes -alleged was, and how
strong was the presumption that the allegations were true, he
confessed that he could not expect that gentlemen, when reciting
what they thought actions of treachery, actions of violence and
oppression, and demanding an investigation into those actions,
should speak a language different from that which would natu-
rally arise from the contemplation of such actions.

The honourable magistrate had argued, that the honour of the
House was not committed to adopt the resolutions of the com-
mittee, and had endeavoured to prevent such an impression from
falling upon gentlemen as an inducement to their voting for them.
But, was there any danger of gentlemen being influenced by such
a consideration in the present case ? Had the resolutions of the
secret committee been a new matter, perhaps there might then
have been some room for cautioning the House not to be drawn
into too hasty an adoption of them from motives of consistency,
because, in such a case, their adoption might possibly be attri-
buted to such motives; but even then such a caution must prove
unnecessary; for no member could consider himself bound to
support the resolutions of a committee, merely because they were
resolutions of a committee. In this instance, the object of the
honourable alderman ought to be to convince such gentlemen
individually as had voted for the several charges, that, having done
so, yet they would not be inconsistent in now opposing the report;
but this argument, he must say, lie believed no gentleman would
attempt to support ; for certainly no gentleman who had sup-
ported the charges could, consistently with the principles on
which he did so, now oppose the farther progress of the business.
But, in fact, he not only considered those gentlemen who voted
for the charges individually, but the whole House collectively, as
called upon by every motive of honour and consistency, by their
regard for the national character as well as their own, to unite
and persevere in bringing the matter to a final conclusion before
the other House.

The honourable gentleman * who had spoken last, and whom

Mr. Nathaniel Smith.

every body knew to be most perfeetly . conversant in the affairs Of
the East who had done himself so much honour in every
part he had at any time taken in the management of their affairs,
aiid:who had been besides in general a strenuous opposer of the
Measures of Mr. Hastings, had- that day made the best defence
for him which le had yet heard; but still, upon the very grounds
of that defence, Mr. Hastings appeared highly culpable. The
principal argument which that honourable gentleman had stated
in favour of Mr. Hastings, was, that a great part of those rapaci-
ous exactions which he had made in India, arose from the Orders
he had received from his employers, the East-India directors, who
were so elated with the acquisition of the Dewanee of Bengal, and
the expectations they from thence entertained of becoming the
channels of vast wealth into this country, that they gave him
directions for such extensive investments as could not be provided
by the ordinary resources of the company, and of course drove
him to the necessity of supplying, by rapacity and extortion, the
means of fulfilling their injunctions. Taking this to be the fact, it
was, lie contended, no argument whatsoever to screen Mr. Hast-
ings from punishment ; for it went to say, that whatever acts
of injustice a servant of the company might commit, provided
that lie does it by the orders of his immediate superiors and em-
ployers, he should not be amenable to punishment ; a principle
which, of all others, that House should be most assiduous to
resist, because such a principle, if once established, would en-
tirely overthrow the responsibility of' all public officers — even'of
ministers themselves. But were the fact even thus, the East..
India company might entertain too flattering and too sanguine
ideas of their situation, and in so doing, would naturally (as they

did) give orders to their servants measured by the scale of those
ideas ; still was Mr. Hastings justifiable in recurring to acts of
oppression and tyranny, in order to realise the visionary prospects
of his masters ? Was it not his duty to undeceive them, and by a
proper representation of their affitirs excuse himself for the non-
performance to its full extent of their commands? Ho should
recapitulate, as shortly as possible, the state of the charges

s 2


.`260 . MR. PITT'S [MAY 9.

against Mr. Hastings, from which it would appear, how impassi-
ble it was for him, or such gentlemen as 'were of opinion with
him, to give him any other vote but one — of concurrence with
the motion : though he certainly considered the whole of the
charges as originally brought forward, as highly exaggerated in
some parts, and as not wholly founded in others ; yet there
appeared from the evidence which had been produced, that
there was in them; a great deal of matter of substantial
criminality, and sufficiently authenticated to warrant that House
in proceeding upon it.

The chief point of this mass of , delinquency was all which he
could touch upon ; nor would he go into the articles at any
length, having already delivered his sentiments at large upon such
of them as he was not anticipated in by gentlemen who thought
as he did. 'In one part of the charge of Benares, there was great
criminality; in that of the princesses of Oude there was still more;
and that, indeed, he looked upon as the leading feature in the
whole accusation. In the charges concerning Parruckabad and
Fyzula Khan, there was also much criminal matter. In all of
those there were instances of the most violent acts of injustice,
tyranny, and oppression; acts which had never been attempted to
be vindicated except on the plea of necessity. What that neces-
sity was, had never been proved ; but there was no necessity
whatsoever which could excuse such actions as those, attended
with such circumstances. He could conceive a state, compelled
by the necessity of a sudden invasion, an unprovided army, and an
unexpected failure of supplies, to lay violent hands on the pro-
perty of its subjects ; but then, in doing so, it ought to do it
openly, it ought to avow the necessity, it ought to avow the
seizure, and it ought, unquestionably, to make provision for a
proper compensation as soon as that should become practicable.
But was this the principle on which Mr. Hastings went ? No: he
neither avowed the necessity nor the exaction; he made criminal
charges, and under the colour of them he levied heavy and inor-
dinate penalties ; seizing that which, if he had a right to take it
at all, he would be highly criminal in taking in such a shape, but

which having no right to take, the mode of taking it rendered it
much more heinous and culpable. He certainly had no right to
impose a fine of any sort on the princesses of Oude ; for there
was not sufficient proof of their disaffection or rebellion. And
the fine imposed on Cheit Sing, in a certain degree, partook of a
similar guilt, though not to so great an extent; for then the crime
was, in his opinion, not so much in the fine itself as the amount
of it, and its disproportion to the circumstances of the person
who was to pay it, and the offence which he had committed.
But this vindication, from one part of the charge, in itself so weak,
became, when coupled with other parts, a great aggravation; for;
when a person on the one hand commits extortion, and, on the
other, is guilty of profusion, if he attempts to screen himself
under the plea of necessity, for his rapacity, it follows that he
is doubly criminal for the offence itself, and for creating the
necessity of that offence by his prodigality. And a still higher

aggravation arises from the manifest, and, indeed, palpable corrup-
tion attending that prodigality ; to what else could be attributed
the private allowances made to Heyder Beg Khan, the minister
of the Nabob Vizier, and the sums paid to the Vakeel of Cheit
Sing, when it was remembered that the one led the way to the
treaty of Chunar, and the other to the revolution in Benares ?

The honourable gentleman who spoke last, had attempted to
excuse all these actions, by shewing that Mr. Hastings was not
the person who first began the interference of the company with
the native princes, nor the influence which it had obtained in
their politics ; and that the inconveniences attending the double
government of Oude were not to be imputed to him. But, surely,
to whatever cause that influence might be originally attributed,
Mr. Hastings was answerable for the management of it, as long
as it was in his hands ; and to excuse him on this plea, would be
to justify the tyranny by the power ; for; though the influence of
the company had given him the power to oppress the neighbour-
ing country, it had not imposed on him the necessity of doing so.
The honourable gentleman had attempted to palliate those parts
of Mr. Hastings's conduct, by stating, that if he were guilty, he


262. MIL PITT'S [MAY 7'),

was so in common with the rest of the council ; but this, if it
were the case, was by no means a sufficient excuse for him, nor
could it be a reason with the House for dropping the impeach-
ment ; for his having accomplices. in his crimes could be no ex-
culpation, and it would . be highly derogatory to the honour of
that House, if they were to say " No ; we will not bring the
delinquent to justice, because there are a number of delinquents
besides him." Nor -would this be a reason even for impeaching
the rest ; for it was by no means advisable to multiply examples:
the proper way was to select such as, from their exalted and
ostensible situations, were the morelikely to become an effectual
example. But, it •was impossible to justify Mr. Hastings on
such a ground as this, even if it were tenable at all ; because •a
considerable part of those enormities with which he was charged
were committed at a distance from his council, and when he was
entirely out of the reach of their advice or control.

In the articles of the contracts, there were some glaring in-
stances of breach of orders, and of improvidence and profusion,
which, though not of so heinous a nature as those he had before
mentioned,.were such as called loudly for punishment. But there
was another charge which he was astonished to find the gentle..
men who defended Mr. Hastings could treat so lightly, as it was
one which appeared to him in itself sufficient to justify the im-
peachment, though it had stood alone, and was of such a nature
as in a peculiar degree called for the interference of that House.
This was the charge of taking presents, which, in every light it
could be considered in, whether as a direct breach of the law
which appointed him a positive evidence of corruption, or a de-
gradation of the character of his employers, was a great and heavy
accusation ; and as to the, excuse which had been offered, that
he had received those presents for the use of the company, even
that was. criminal in a degree. But, for his part, he could not
accede to the opinion either that he had received thosesums with
an intention of applying- them to the service of the company, or
that he had actually applied them at all in that way ; for, had
this been his intention, he would have kept such accounts, and.



made such immediate communications of them, as should clearly
prove that it was so. But, no such accounts were produced,
no such communications were made ; and there were, ',besides,
circumstances attending some of them, that proved they must
have been received with a corrupt intention. As an instance of
this, he should mention the present Mr. Hastings had received
from Kelleram, which was attended with the most suspicious of
all circumstances, namely, that this very person was at the time
in treaty for a district of land belonging to the company, and.
no question could be entertained, but he gave the money in
order to obtain a favourable bargain . ; so that had this been done
for the company, it was a most unjustifiable and impolitic
method of managing their concerns; for in that case, it should
have been negociated openly in the nature of a fine, and not
privately as a bribe, in which latter light alone it ought to be

Upon the whole, Mr. Pitt concludedwith declaring, that the-
House could no otherwise consult their own honour, the duty
which they owed their country, and the ends of public justice,
than by sending up the impeachment to the House of Lords.

The original motion was carried,

Noes 89

May 15. 1787.

Mx. GREY, after complaining to the House of certain abuses that pre-
wailed in the Post Office, moved for a committee to be app,ointed to in-
quire into the same: when

MR. PITT rose, declaring his intention not to detain the
House long, and certainly not to oppose the motion of the
honourable gentleman. A motion made for an inquiry into
abuses stated to exist in a flagrant degree, and which an honour-
able gentleman declared himself impelled, by his duty as a mem-


,̀26 MR. PITT'S [MAY 15.

bee of parliament, and not by any private or personal views, to
make, was such a one as he should at all times feel the strongest
inclination to comply with, and from which nothing but evident
and palpable impropriety could induce him to withhold his con-
sent. But he expected that if the motion were to pass, the in-
quiry intended to be made might be proceeded upon immediately
before the end of the session, and be pointed to the proper ob-
ject of censure, if censure were, upon investigation, found to be
deserved. The honourable gentleman had made heavy charges
against a noble lord of high character and unsullied honour, and
had thought proper also to extend his accusation to him, and it
would be but a bad method of consulting either his own or the
noble lord's reputation, to endeavour to shrink from an inquiry
into the true grounds and merits of the accusation. The part
which he had taken in the transaction relative to Mr. Lees, was
one which he was always ready to submit to the judgment of the
House. A memorial had been sent from the general post-office,
signed by the two noble lords who then presided there, the Earl
of Tankerville and Lord Carteret, stating that Mr. Lees would
probably suffer an injury in his employment, to a very consider-
able amount, in consequence of the separation of the two esta-
blishments of the post-office—that of England and Ireland from
each other. It also stated the annuity paid by Mr. Lees to
Mr. Walcot, and by Mr. Walcot to Mr. Baron ; and he, together
with other lords of the treasury, as well in consideration of the.
actual loss sustained by Mr. Lees, as from the circumstance of
that gentleman having done the business for a considerable time
for a small salary in the prospect of an increase in his profits
in future, did, upon inquiry into the amount of the loss, sign an
order for an addition of 1001. to his salary. As to the charge
made by the honourable gentleman, that he was inclined to wink
at abuses in the post-office, or any other public establishment, it
was a charge wholly unwarranted by fact, and unfounded by any
reasonable presumption. So far was he from any backwardness
for the reform in abuses in that office, that he had suggested a
-.measure for the general reform of all those very abuses relative


to shipping and other things which the honourable gentleman
had mentioned, and that measure formed a part of the office re-
form bill. He then concluded, by reading the resolution which
he had moved about three years ago on that subject.

Some expressions having fallen from Mr. Pitt in the course of the de-
bate which Mr. Grey considered as reflecting injuriously upon the

• motives by which he was influenced in the present inquiry, the latter
rose with great warmth to repel such insinuations, and affirmed that no
man should Are to question the purity of the principles on which he

'To this Mr. Pitt answered : -The honourable gentleman ar-
rogates too much to himself, if he conceives that I shall not -
take the liberty of calling his motives in question as often as his
conduct shall warrant such a freedom. If the honourable gen-
tleman chooses not to have his motives questioned, he must take
care that his conduct is such as not to render it necessary.

Mr. Grey immediately replied, that he should never act in that House
upon any principle which did not appear to him to be honourable; and
while he was conscious that his conduct was governed by the unerring
principles of honour, if any person chose to impute dishonourable prin-
ciples to him, he had those means in his power, to which it would then
be proper to resort.

Mr. Pitt and Mr. Sheridan rising together, the latter obtained a hear-
ing first, and endeavoured to appease the heat that had arisen, by ob.
serving, that he believed his honourable friend had misunderstood the
words of the chancellor of the exchequer.

Mr. Pitt declared, that he had not before spoken with heat,
nor should there be any heat in what he was going to say. He
then deliberately repeated the argument of his former speech,
and added, that with respect to any means to which the honour-
able gentleman might wish to resort, it would be for himself to
determine whether they , were proper or not.

The question was afterwards put and agreed to.


2.66n MR. pin's [DEC. 10, 1188.]- PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 261
December 10. 17S8.

Ms. PITT, after having brought up the report of the physicians touch-
ing the state of His Majesty's health, which was ordered to lie on the
table, proceeded to observe

That the paper from the privy-council, which had been already .
placed upon the table, as well as the more regular examinations
of which the House had just heard the contents, afforded them
sufficient information, both with regard to the melancholy sub-
ject which had occasioned them to assemble, and the opinions of
the physicians ; and must, at the same time, naturally fill their
minds with a reasonable hope, that a happier moment would
arrive than the present, although the faculty, who had been con-
sulted, were still unable to declare the precise point of time of its
arrival. Gratified, however, as the House might be in that ex-
pectation, yet the uncertainty by which its completion might be
protracted, rendered it their indispensable duty to proceed, not-
withstanding their regret for the occasion, with every degree of
dispatch, and in the most respectful manner to take those inter-
mediate steps which the unfortunate exigency of the moment
required, in order to provide for the present serious situation of
affairs, with a view to guard the liberties of the people from
danger, and secure the safety of the country ; that His Majesty
might have the gratification 'of knowing, When the happy moment
of his recovery should arrive, that the people whom he had loved
and protected, had suffered as little as possible by his illness.
The point to be agitated, on this occasion, involved in it whatever
was dear to the interests of the country ; it. involved in it what-
ever was valuable to the people, whatever was important in the
fundamental principles of our free constitution. The steps to
be taken as preliminaries, therefore, to the discussion of this truly
interesting subject, were such as he could not conceive likely to
create any difference of opinion. That the House might haveithe
advantage of the wisdom of their ancestors to guide their proceed-
ings, and act upon the fullest information, he should move for

the appointment of a committee to examine into, search for, and
report precedents, from which report they -would be enabled to
see, what had been the steps taken in former moments of diffi-
culty and danger, whence they might proceed with the greater
security in providing for the present melancholy circumstances
of the country.

In conclusion, after dilating at some extent upon the necessity
of this mode, Mr. Pitt said, he would not detain the House by
enlarging upon the subject any longer, but as, art the one hand,
it would serve to throw all the light upon it that precedent and
history could afford ; so, on the other, as lie conceived the report
of such a committee as he had mentioned might be made in the
course of the present week, it could very little contribute- to
retard the dispatch that was so desirable, and must prove of no
material inconvenience. With a view, therefore, to give their
proceedings every necessary solemnity, and regulate them by
every possible degree of Caution, he should move,

" That a committee be appointed to examine and report pre-
cedents of such proceedings as may have been had, in case of the
personal exercise of the royal authority being prevented or inter-
rupted, by infancy, sickness, infirmity, or otherwise, with a view
to provide for the same."

Mr. Fox, although he did not resist the motion, considered it as pro-
ductive of unnecessary delay, when it was the duty of the House to
provide with all possible dispatch for the exigency of the present moment,
He had no hesitation, he said, in declaring it as his decided opinion, that
His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales had as clear, as express a right
to assume the reins of government, and exercise the powers of sove-
reignty during the continuance of the illness and incapacity with which
it had pleased God to afflict His Majesty, as in the case of His Majesty's
having undergone a natural and perfect demise.

To this latter assertion Mr. Pitt answered,
That he must take the liberty to observe, that the right

honourable gentleman had thrown out an idea which, whatever he
might have generally thought of him, as to his penetration and
discernment, as to his acquaintance with the laws and general
history of the country, and as to his knowledge of the theory of

266 MR. PITT'S [Dix. 10,

the constitution, (however he might repeatedly have found
occasion to differ with him in respect to his measures and opi.
nions in his practice under it,) he defied all his ingenuity to
support, upon any analogy of constitutional precedent, or to
reconcile to the spirit and genius of the constitution itself. The
doctrine advanced by the right honourable gentleman was itself,
if any additional reason were necessary, the strongest and most
unanswerable for appointing the committee he had moved for,
that could possibly be given. If a claim of right was intimated,
even though not formally, on the part of the Prince of Wales,
to assume the government, it became of the utmost consequence
to ascertain, from precedent and history, whether this claim
were founded ; which, if it were, precluded the House from the
possibility of all deliberation on the subject. In the mean time,
he maintained, that it would appear, from every precedent, and
from every page of our history, that to assert such a right in
the Prince of Wales, or any one else, independent of the decision
of the two Houses of Parliament, was little less than treason to
the constitution of the country.

He said, he did not mean then to enter into the discussion of
that great and important point ; because a fit occasion for dis-
cussing it would soon afford both the right honourable gentleman
and himself an ample opportunity of stating their sentiments
upon it. In the mean time, he pledged himself to this assertion
— that in the case of the interruption of the personal exercise of
the royal authority, without any previous lawful provision having
been made for carrying on the government; it belonged to the
other branches of the legislature, on the part of the nation at
large, the body they represented, to provide, according to their
discretion, for the temporary exercise of the royal authority, in
the name, and on the behalf, of the sovereign, in such manner as
they should think requisite ; and that, unless by their decision,
the Prince of Wales had no right (speaking of strict right) to
assume the government, more than any other individual subject of
the country. What parliament ought to determine on that sub-
ject, was a question of discretion. However strong the arguments


might be on that ground in favour of the Prince of Wales, which
he would not enter unto at present, it did not affect the question
of right ; because, neither the whole, nor any part of the royal
authority, could belong to him in the present circumstances,
unless conferred by the Houses of Parliament.

As to the right honourable gentleman's repeated enforcement
of' the Prince of Wales's claim, he admitted that it was a claim
entitled to most serious consideration ; and thence must take
the liberty of arguing, that it was the more necessary to learn
how the House had acted in cases of similar exigency, and what
had been the opinion of parliament on such occasions. He
would not allow that no precedent analogous to an interruption
of the personal exercise of the royal authority could be found,
although there might possibly not exist a precedent of an heir ap-
parent in a state of majority, during such an occurrence, and in
that case, he contended, that it devolved on the remaining
branches of the legislature, on the part of the people of England,
to exercise their discretion in providing a substitute.

Mr. Pitt contended, that in the mode in which the right
honourable gentleman had treated the subject, a new question
presented itself, and that of greater magnitude even than the
question which was originally before them, as matter of necessary
deliberation. The question now was, the question of their own
rights, and it was become a doubt, according to the right honour-
able gentleman's opinion, whether that House had, on this
important occasion, a deliberative power. He wished, for the pre-
sent, to wave the discussion of that momentous consideration
but he declared that he would, at a fit opportunity, state his rea-
sons for advising what step parliament ought to take in the pre-
sent critical situation of the country, contenting himself with
giving his contradiction to the right honourable gentleman's bold
assertion, and pledging himself to maintain the opposite ground
against a doctrine so irreconcileable to the:spirit and genius of the
constitution. If the report oPthe committee had not proved the
necessity of the motion he had made, the right honourable gen-
tleman had furnished the House with so strong an argument for

270 'MR. PITT'S [Dec. 10,

inquiry, that if any doubt had existed, that doubt must vanish.
Let it not, then, be imputed to him, that he offered the motion
with a view to create delay : indeed, the right honourable gen-
tleman had not made any such imputation. In fact, no im-
putation of that sort could be supported ; since no longer time
had been spent, after the first day of their meeting, than was
absolutely necessary to insure as full an attendance as the so-
lemnity and seriousness of the occasion required; since that
time, every day had been spent in ascertaining the state of His
Majesty's health, and now the necessity of the case was proved,
it :behoved them to meet it on the surest grounds. Let them

. proceed, then, to learn and ascertain their own rights ; let
every man in that House, and . every man in the nation, who
might hear any report of what had passed in the House that
day, consider, that on their future proceedings depended their
own interests and the interest and honour of a sovereign, de-
servedly the idol of his people. Let the house not, there-
fore, rashly Annihilate and annul the authority of parliament,
in which the existence of the constitution was so intimately

Mr. Burke next rose and sarcastically attacked the doctrine laid down
by the chancellor of the exchequer; emphatically calling Mr. Pitt " one
of the Prince's competitors," and declaring that, were he to give an elec-
tive vote, it should be in favour of that Prince, whose amiable disposition
was one of his many recommendations, and not in support of a "Prince,"
who had threatened. the assertors of the Prince of Wales's right with the
penalties of constructive treason.

Mr. PITT concluded the conversation with remarking, that
if the right honourable gentleman*, who had condescended to
be the advocate and tho, specimen of moderation, had found any
warmth in his manner of speaking before, which led him to
think that he had not considered what he said, he was ready to
repeat it with all possible coolness, and knew not one word that
-he would retract. Upon this grotmd., _therefore, was he still ready
to maintain that it was little less than treason to the consti,

4' Mr. Burke.


tution to assert, that the Prince of Wales had a claim to the ex-
ercise of the sovereign power during the interruption of the per-
sonal authority of His Majesty by infirmity, and in his life-time ;
and to this asseveration should he adhere, because he considered
such a claim as superseding the deliberative power and discretion
of the two existing branches of the legislature. And, when he
had said the Prince of Wales had no more right to urge such a
claim than any other individual subject, he appealed to the House
upon the decency with which the right honourable gentleman
had charged him with placing himself as the competitor of His
Royal Highness. At that period of our history, when the consti-
tution was settled on that foundation on which it now existed,
when Mr. Somers and other great men declared, that no person
had a right to the crown independent of the consent of the two
Houses, would it have been thought either fair or decent for any
member of either House to have pronounced Mr. Somers a per.
::ional competitor of William the Third ?

The question was then put and agreed to, and a committee was accord,
ingly appointed, consisting of the following members :

The Chancellor of the Exchequer,

Ld. Advocate of Scotland,
Marquis of Graham,
Lord Belgrave,
Sir Grey Cooper,
Wm. Wilberforce, Esq.
Rt. Hon. Win. Windham,
Philip Yorke, Esq.
Earl Gower,
Rt. Hon. W. W. Grenville,
Rt. Hon. Edmund Burke.-

December 12. /788.

Tim report being brought up from the committee, who had been zip-
pointed to examine precedents in cases of the personal exercise of the
royal. authority being interrupted by sickness, infirmity, or otherwise,

Welbore Ellis, Esq.
The Master of the Rolls,
Rt. Hon. F. Montagu,
Attorney General,
Robert Vyncr, Esq:
Rt. Hon. Henry Pundas,
'Thomas Powys, Esq.
Solicitor General,
R. B. Sheridan, Esq.
Wm. Hussey, Esq.

MR. Pars [Dtc. 14.1.

Mr. Pitt moved, " That the House should on Tuesday next resolve
itself into a Committee of the whole House to take into consideration
the state of the Nation."

After Mr. Fox had spoken,

ME. PITT rose, and begged leave to remind the House, that
they had just received a voluminous report from the committee,
appointed to search for precedents, in order that gentlemen
might have every information before them, to guide their pro-
ceedings under the present arduous and singular situation of the
country, that the wisdom of their ancestors, the statutes of the
realm, and the records of parliament, could afford ; and he had
moved to refer that report, together with the examination of His
Majesty's physicians, to the committee of the whole House, who
were to take the state of the nation into their consideration upon
the ensuing Tuesday. In that committee the topic. touched on
by the right honourable gentleman* would necessarily undergo
an ample discussion. In their last debate on the subject, there
appeared to be a point at issue between the right honourable
gentleman and himself: and, from all that the right' honourable
gentleman had then said, it still appeared to be no less at issue
than before. The right honourable gentleman explained, as he
thought proper, the meaning of a very essential part of his speech,
on the preceding Wednesday. Mr. Pitt said, that he should
be sorry to fix on any gentleman a meaning, which he afterwards
declared not to have been his meaning. In whatever way,
therefore, he had before understood the right honourable gen-
tleman's words relative to the Prince's forbearing to assert his
claim, he was willing to take the matter from the right honour-
able gentleman's present explanation, and to meet it upon those
grounds where he had then, after maturer deliberation, thought
fit to place it. The right honourable gentleman now asserted,
that the Prince of Wales had a right to exercise the royal au-
thority, under the present circumstances of the country, but
that it was as a right not in possession, until the prince could ex-

* Mr. Fox.


ercise it on, what the right honourable gentleman called, the ad,
judication of parliament. He, on his part, denied that the Prince
of Wales had any right whatever, and upon that point the right
honourable gentleman and he were still at issue—an issue, that,
in his opinion, must be decided, before they proceeded one
step farther in the great and important considerations to be dis-
cussed and determined.

Concerning one part of the right honourable gentleman's
speech, it was impossible for him to remain silent, as the right
honourable gentleman's ideas in that point had not appeared to
him to be quite accurate and distinct. He seemed to have in-
tended to have renounced all idea of the Prince of 'Wales's right
to assume the exercise of the royal authority, under the present
or similar circumstances, without the .previous adjudication of
parliament, or of' the two houses; but, if he understood the right
honourable gentleman correctly, he had used the words, " during
the sitting of parliament ;" the plain inference from which ex-
pression was, that if parliament were not sitting, the Prince of
Wales could assume the exercise of the regal authority. Mr.
Pitt declared, that he thought the Prince of Wales could, in no
one case, have power to assume the right. If there were no par-
liament in existence, he granted that the heir apparent, acting in
concert with other persons in great situations, might, under such
circumstances as the present, have issued writs, and convened
the two houses, for the purpose of providing for the exigency,
Such a proceeding would be justified by the necessity of the case,
and with a view to the safety of the nation, which superseded all
forms; but, that it would be a legal and formal summons of the
parliament, or that a parliament could be called together, with-
out legal authority, he must absolutely deny. Such a meeting
would be a convention, like to that,

assembled at the time of the
abdication of James the Second, and in other periods of difficulty ;
but it could not be a legal and formal calling together of a par-
liament. With regard to the question of the Prince of Wales's
right of assuming the power, during the intermission of parliae
ment, and his right not in possession, as it was called, during the

VOL. I. 1'


271 MR. PITT'S [Dec. l2,


sitting of parliament, he need notrest much upon the distinction,
'denying, as he did, that any right to-assume the regal authority,
under any-circumstances, independent of the consent and appro-
bation of parliament, existed in -the Prince of Wales, But, sup,
posing the right of assumption of royalty given up altogether,
and that the Prince must have the right adjudged by parliament,
he denied that they were canvassing a right, and acting as judges,
as the sentiments of the right honourable gentleman so manifestly
intimated. It was subversive of the principles of the constitution
'to admit that the Prince of Wales might seat himself on the
throne-during the lifetime of his father ; and the intimation cifthe
-existence of such a right, as he had remarked on a former occa-
sion, presented a question of greater magnitude and importance

. even than the present exigency, and the provision that it neces-
sarily required; a question that involved in it the principles of
the constitution, the protection and security of our liberties, and
the safety of the state.

Whatever, therefore, might be the order of their proceeding,
'he-hoped there would be an unanimous concurrence of opinion,
'that it was impossible to let the question of right, which had been
started, undergo admission, without its being fully discussed and
decided. It was a question that shook thefoundation of the con-
stitution, and upon the decision of which, all that was dear to
us, as Britons, depended. In his opinion, therefore, it was their
first duty to decide, whether there were any right in the Prince
of Wales to claim the exercise of the regal power, under any
circumstances of the country, independent of the actual demise
of the crown. In the discussion of the powers with which 'the
regent was to be invested, there might be differences of:opinion,
whether the whole of the royal prerogatives should be delegated,
on the grounds of expediency ; there might be differences of
opinion, whether a portion only of the royal authority should be
delegated, and a part reserved, on the grounds of-prudence and
discretion. These were important topics, W1ii6h' they coal not
discuss, unless they first knew, whether they were sitting as
judges, or as a house of parliament, possessing . a-power of deli-


beration, and capable of exercising a constitutional discretion.
They must first ascertain, whether that which should be vested
in the hands of the Prince of Wales, was matter of adjudication
on their part, of right in His Royal Highness, or as a trust in be-
half and in the name of His Majesty ; and therefore .he.should
think it his duty to bring . forward the question of right, as a pre-
liminary question. If that question should .be decided in the
affirmative, there Would be no need of specific measures. Should
it, however, be determined upon a contrary ground, the way
would become cleared, and the House would know how to pro-
ceed. He had, indeed, mentioned the alternative, bankleaven
forbid, that the fatal alternative should be decided in favour of
the intimated right of the Prince of Wales!

Mr. Pitt next took notice of the .call which Mr. Fox 13,04
made upon him, relative to the future propositions to be brought
forward by him in the committee which had been moved for, to
take into consideration the state of the nation. He said, that, if
the question of right should be decided, as he thought it would,
upon constitutional principles, he should, in that case, certainly
proceed to propose measures.forproviding:for the interruption of
the royal authority, occasioned by His Majesty's present incapa-
city to exercise it ; and, as he was always happy when he could
concur with the requisition of the right honourable gentleman,
he would state the outline, without feeling any prejudice to the
person who had called for it ; but, he begged to have it under-
stood, that what he was about to state was not to be a matter of
debate at that moment, nor were any arguments then to be
raised upon it. He proceeded to declare, drat, however decided
-he -might be in his opinion against the whole, or any part, of-the
regal power being -vested in the:Prince of Wales, as _a matter
of right, in any way in which that right :had been explained,
be was equally. ready to .say, that,.as.a matter of discretion, and
on the ground of.expedieney, it ;was, in his opinion, highly de-
sirable, that whatever part of the:regal power it was necessary
should be exercised-at all, during thisAmhappy interval, should
be vested in a single person, and-that this person shoulitbc: the



Prince of Wales that he also thought it most consistent with
true constitutional principles, and most for the public conveni-
ence, that His Royal Highness should exercise that portion of
authority, whatever it might be, unfettered by any permanent
council, and with the free choice of his political servants. With
regard to the portion of royal authority which ought to be given,
or that which ought to be withholden, it would be premature, in
this stage, to enter into the particular discussion of it : he had no
objection, however, even now, to declare in general, that what-
ever authority was necessary for carrying on the public business
with vigour and dispatch, and for providing, during this interval,
for the safety and interests of the country, ought to be given;
but on the other hand, any authority, not necessary for those pur-
poses, and capable of being by possibility employed in any way
which might tend to embarrass the exercise of the King's lawful
authority, when he should be enabled to resume it into his own
hands, ought to be withholden ; because, from its being given,
more inconvenience might arise to the future interests both of
the people and of the crown, than any which could arise in the
mean time from its temporary suspension.

Mr. Pitt added, that he could justify the principles of this ex-
plicit declaration of his intention, on the ground, that, whatever
was given to the regent, or withholden, ought to be given or
withholden with a view to the moment when His Majesty should
be capable of resuming his rightful prerogatives ; a circumstance
to which it peculiarlybecame him to look, in the situation in which
he stood, honoured with the confidence of a sovereign to whom
he was bound, and strongly attached, by the ties of gratitude and
duty ; — but of that he would say no more. 'Whatever judge-
ment -might be formed of what he had declared, he was con-
scious of having given a free and an honest opinion, and was satis-
fied with that consciousness. He conceived, it could not be
thought necessary for him to go any farther into the subject, as
the adjustment of the whole proceeding must rest with the com-
mittee orx - the state of the nation, where it would be necessary to

come forward with the different propositions separately, and to

proceed, step by step, to mark and define, by distinct resolu-
tions, what parts of the royal prerogative should be given to the
regent, and what withholden.

The motion was agreed to.


December 16. 1788.
THE House, conformably to the order of the day, resolved itself into

a Committee of the whole House, on the consideration of the State of
the Nation, Mr.,Brook Watson in the chair; when

MR. PITT rose, and, having premised that the House Were
then in a committee to take into consideration the state of
the nation, under circumstances the most calamitous which had
befallen the country at any period, remarked, that it was then a
century ago since any point of equal importance had engaged the
attention of that House. The circumstance that had then oc-
curred was the revolution ; between which, however, and the
present circumstance, there was a great and essential difference.
At that time, the two Houses had to provide for the filling up a
throne, that was vacant by the abdication of James the Second;
at present they had to provide for the exercise of the royal au-
thority, when His Majesty's political capacity was whole and
entire, and the throne consequently full, although, in fact, all
the various functions of the executive government were sus-
pended, but which suspension they had every reason to expect
would be but temporary. There could, he said, be but one
sentiment upon that head, which was, that the most sanguine.
of His Majesty's physicians could not effect a cure more speedily
than it was the anxious wish of every man in that House, and
every description of His Majesty's subjects, that his cure might
be effected, and that he might thence be enabled again to
resume the exercise of his own authority. During the tempo-
rary continuance, however, of His Majesty's malady, it was their
i ndispensable duty to provide for the deficiency in the legisla-
ture, in order that a due regard might be had to the safety of


`278 MR. PITT'S [DEC. 16.

the crown, and to the interests of the • people. The first re,
port before the committee established the melancholy fact
that had rendered their deliberations necessary ; the second
contained a collection of such precedents, selected from the
history of former times, as were in any degree analogous to
tlle present unfortunate situation of the country ; and, although
he would not undertake to say that still more precedents
might not have been found, yet such as the report contained
would serve to throw a considerable degree , of light on the
subject, and point out to the . House the mode of proceeding
most proper to be adopted.

Notwithstanding the magnitude of the question, What pro-
vision ought to be made for supplying the deficiency? there was
a question of a greater and still more important nature, which
must be discussed and decided first, as a preliminary to their
future transactions, with a view to the present exigency. The
question to which he alluded, was, Whether any person had a
right, either to assume or to claim the exercise of the royal
authority, during the incapacity and infirmity of the sovereign ;
or, whether it was the right of the Lords and Commons of Eng-
land to provide for the deficiency in the legislature, resulting from
such incapacity ? On a former day, he had stated, that, in con-
sequence of an assertion having been made in that House, that
a right attached to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, as
heir apparent, to exercise sovereign authority, as soon as the two
Houses of Parliament declared His Majesty, from illness and in-
disposition, incapable of exercising his royal functions, it ap-
peared to him to be absolutely and indispensably necessary, that
the question of right should be first decided by the committee,
before they took a single step to provide for the deficiency of the
third estate of the realm. By the assertion of the existence of
such a right, no matter whether a right that could be assumed in
the first instance, or a right which attached, after the declaration
of both Houses of Parliament, that His Majesty was incapable, a
doubt had been thrown upon the existence of what he had ever
considered as the most sacred and important rights of the two



Houses ; and it became absolutely necessary for them to decide
that doubt, and, by such decision, ascertain whether they had a
power to deliberate, or whether they had only to adjudge, that
such a right as had been mentioned was legally, vested in His
Royal Higness,

the Prince of Wales. The most embarrassing dif-
ficulties had, indeed, been thrown upon their proceedings hy, the
assertion, that such a claim existed ; and although he was free to
confess, that the assertion had not been made from any authority,
and that they had since heard, though not in that House, that
it was not intended that the claim should be made, yet, having
been once stated, by a very respectable member of that House,
as his opinion, it was an opinion of too much importance to be
passed by unnoticed. He would entreat the House to remem,
ber, however, that he had not stirred the question of right
originally. If, therefore, any serious danger were actually to
be dreaded, by its being discussed and decided, that danger
and its consequences were solely imputable to the first agitator of
the question, and not to him. Had the doubt never been raised,
an express declaration op, the subject had not been necessary ;
but, as the matter stood, such declaration must be made one way
or the other. He begged, however, that it might not be imputed
to him, that he was desirous of wasting time in bringing forward
any abstract, or speculative, or theoretical question. An abstract
question, in his conception of it, was 4 question wholly unneces-
sary, the discussion of which could answer no end, nor could its
decision afford any light to guide and assist them in their proceed-
ings. Of a very different nature was the question of right; it was
a question that stood in the way of all subsequent proceeding,
the resolving of which must necessarily decide the whole of their
conduct, with regard to the present important business ; they
were not free to deliberate and determine, while the doubt of an
existing right or claim hung over their heads ; they could not
speak intelligibly, or to any purpose, until they knew their pro-
per characters, and whether they were exercising their own riehts
for the safety of the crown, and the interests of the people, or
whether they were usurping that which had never belonged to


080 MR. PITT'S [DEC. 16

them. On that ground it was, that he had declared the ques-
tion of right not to be an abstract, question, a speculative
question, or a theoretical question.

The first information which the papers that had been referred
to the committee afforded, was that which he should make the
first resolution. :It was a resolution of fact, as the ground of
those that were designed by him to follow it ; a resolution, stating
that of which the language of all His Majesty's physicians afforded
sufficient proof, that His Majesty was incapable, from illness, of
coming to his parliament, or attending to any public business,
whence arose the interruption of the exercise of= the royal au-
thority. To that resolution of fact, he conceived there could
not be any objection. His next resolution would be the reso-
lution of right, couched in part in the words of the bill of
rights, and stating, " That it was the right and duty of the lords
spiritual and temporal, and of the House of Commons, as the
rightful representatives of all the estates of the people of Eng-
land, to provide for the deficiency in the legislature, by the in-
terruption of the exercise of the royal authority, in consequence
of His Majesty's incapacity through indisposition."

Here Mr. Pitt renewed his arguments in support of the claim
of the two Houses of Parliament, declaring that under the pre-
sent circumstances of the country, it was his firm and unalterable
opinion, that it was the absolute and undeniable right of the two
Houses, on the part of the people, to provide for the revival of
the third estate. He declared, he would state the point at issue
between him and the right honourable gentleman 4 opposite to
him fairly. He wished not to take any advantage of any shades
of difference between them, but to argue upon the solid and
substantial difference of their opinions. If he had conceived the
right honourable gentleman properly, he had asserted, that, in
his opinion, the Prince of 'Wales, as heir apparent, upon the in-
capacity of the sovereign to exercise the sovereign authority
being declared, had as clear, as perfect, and as indisputable a
right to take upon himself the full exercise of all the authorities
and prerogatives of his father, as if His Majesty had undergone

Mr. Fox.

an actual demise. If it could be proved to exist by any precedents
drawn from history, or founded in law, or by the analogy of the
constitution, he wished to have been told what those precedents
were, because, in that case, the ground would be narrowed, and
the proceedings of the committee rendered short and simple, as
they would have no power nor occasion to deliberate ; the only
step they could take would be to recognise the claim of right,
That claim of right, however, he flatly denied to have any exist-
ence capable of being sustained by such proof as he had men-
tioned. The right of providing for the deficiency of the royal
authority, he contended, rested with the two remaining branches
of the legislature. He professed himself exceedingly happy to
hear that a declaration had been made in another place, from
high authority, that the right stated by the right honourable
gentleman in that House, to have existence, was not meant to
be urged by a great personage. He came that day, confirmed in
every opinion which he had before stated; and particularly con-
firmed in the opinion that no such right or claim in the Prince of
Wales, as heir apparent, to exercise the royal authority during
the incapacity of the sovereign, could be proved, either from
precedents drawn from history, or from the law, or from the
spirit of the constitution.

He begged leave to remind the committee, that when the right
honourable gentleman first mentioned the right of the Prince of
Wales in this particular, the right honourable gentleman had
declared he was willing to wave the motion for a committee to
search for precedents, because that he was persuaded, and the
House must allow, that no precedent could be found that bore
upon the particular case, of a Prince of Wales, the heir apparent
to the crown, being of full age, and capable of taking on himself
the exercise of the royal authority, under such circumstances as
the present. There certainly was no case precisely in point ;
but, though the committee above stairs could not find a case pre-
cisely in point, they had furnished the House with many prece-
dents, from which analogies might be drawn. He called upon
the right honourable gentleman opposite to him, to point out a

MR. PITT'S [Dec. 16.

single case analogous to the infancy, infirmity, or illness of a
sovereign, in which the full powers of sovereignty were exercised
by any one person whatever. If the right attached to His Royal
Highness, under the present circumstances, in the same manner
as on the demise of his father, an heir presumptive would suc-
ceed as perfectly as an heir apparent, and, in pursuance of that
doctrine, those precedents that would attach in the one case,
would attach in the other. For precedents that were analogous,
he would refer the committee to the report on the table ; the
precedents in which, though they might not throw all the light
on the subject that. could be wished, certainly tended to eluci-
date it considerably. He would refer to some of the precedents,
and convince gentlemen, that their result formed the most
undeniable proof, that no such a right existed as had been

The first precedent was taken from the reign of Edward the
Third, when no heir apparent had claimed the exercise of the
royal authority. The parliament of those days, whether wisely
or not, was no question before the committee, provided a coun-
cil about the King's person to act for him ; a clear proof, that
they conceived the power existed with them to provide for the
exercise of the royal authority. The next precedent was in the
reign of Richard the Second, when counsellors were also appoint-
ed to exercise the regal power. The third precedent occurred
in the infancy of Henry the Sixth : at that time the parliament
were called together by the young King's second uncle ; the first
being still living, but out of the kingdom ; and that act was rati-
fied by parliament, they not considering it sufficient that it was
done by the authority of the Duke. In that instance, again, it
was clear, that the regency was carried on by the parliament.
These three instances were the principal of those stated in the
report of the committee ; subsequent ,precedents would prove,
that no one instance could be found of any person's having ex-
ercised the royal authority, during the infancy of a King, but by
the grant of the two Houses of Parliament, excepting only where
a previous provision had been made. Having thus far mention,




ed the power of parliament, during the infancy of a King, he
observed, that he would next state their power during the King's
absence; and in that. case, it should be asserted, that the heir
apparent had a right to exercise the royal authority, let the
committee consider how the assertion would stand.

It had been advanced, that, in the majority of such cases,
the power had been given to the Prince-of Wales. If such cases
could be adduced, they would, he owned, be cases in point ;
but, then, to prove what? To prove, that such heirs apparent
possessed no inherent right. If a right existed to represent the
King, it must be a perfect and an entire right, a right admitting
of no modification whatever ; because if any thing short of the
whole power were given, it would be less than by right could
be claimed, and consequently an acknowledgment that no such
right existed. But, could any such cases be pointed out ? By
a reference to the ancient records, it- would be found, that the
Justos regni, or lieutenant for the King, had never been invested
with the whole rights of the King himself. The powers given
to the custos regni had been different, under different circum-
stances ; a plain and manifest inference then arose that the
custodesregnidid not hold their situation as a right but by appoint-
ment. The powers of bestowing benefices, and doing other acts
of sovereignty, had been occasionally given to the custodes regni,
which shewed that their powers had been always subject to some
limitation or other. In modern times, lord-justices had been
.'requently appointed to the exercise of sovereign authority, dure
Mg the residence of a prince of age in the country. Another in-

'stance that occurred to him was, where the exercise of royalty
had been interrupted by severe illness, and which appeared to him
to be more a case in point than any ,other to the present melan-
Choly moment. The example to which he alluded was the prece-
dent of Henry the Sixth, where the heir apparent was not of full
age. It would, then, to supply the defect of that precedent, he
necessary to have recourse to the principles of the constitution,
and to the laws of the land ; and, upon this ground, it would be
discovered, that the parliament of that day provided for the mc-

MR. PITT'S [Dxc. 16,

meat ; that they were not content with such provision, but, that
they looked forward to the time when the heir apparent should at-
tain full age, granting him a reversionary patent, the same pre-
cisely-with the regent's, to take place when he should come of age.
Thus, though they provided for allowing him at that period more
considerable powers than they had suffered him before to possess,
they bad still not granted him the full powers of sovereignty, but
bad made such limitations, as proved their most positive denial of
any right existing. That instance, though a single one, and where
the heir apparent was not of full age, was sufficient to s pew the
sense of parliament in those days, as much as if the heir apparent
had been of full age.

If no precedent contrary to those which he had stated to the
committee could be advanced, he should presume, that the com-
mittee would, of course, admit that no right existed with an heir
apparent, or an heir presumptive, to assume the functions of
royalty on the temporary incapacity of the sovereign ; nor any
rights but those delegated by the two remaining branches of the
legislature. He scrupled not therefore to declare, that no posi-
tive law, nor the least analogy from any law, could be adduced
to support. the doctrine of right. A record had, indeed, been
quoted elsewhere [the House of Lords] to prove that the King
and the heir apparent were one and the same person, and that it
followed of course, that, on the incapacity of the King, the heir
apparent had a legal and clear right immediately to exercise
the same powers that the King had possessed : but, a different
opinion was entertained of that record by persons of great emin-
ence and authority in the law, and by their opinion a far different
conclusion was drawn from the same record, the metaphorical
expression of which was not to be taken literallyi. Another
opinion which had been started, was, that if parliament had not
been sitting, in such a ease the Prince would have a right to assume
the royal authority and summon parliament. But this position
he should expressly contradict ; because, those who were, like
him, standing up for the rights of parliament, and, through par-
liament, for the rights of the people, were peculiarly fortunate


in ono particular ; they were as fortunate as most of those, who
had truth and justice on their side, generally were, because
little was left for them to do, except to controvert and overcome
their antagonists by stating to them, and comparing their own
arguments and assertions, made at different times, and as the
occasion suited.

It had been pretty strenuously contended elsewhere by a
learned magistrate who had chosen to force his own construc-
tion on their silence, that our ancestors, if they had entertained
any doubt of the right of an heir apparent, would, in their wis-
dom, have provided for so possible a case as the present ; and
yet instead of leaving the interpretation of this point to that
learned lord's wisdom, it must be concluded by the committee,
that they would have provided for it in plain, distinct, clear,
and express words, and would not have left it liable to be dif-
ferently understood. The wisdom of our ancestors, however, he
conceived, was better proved by their having said nothing upon
it, but left such a question to be decided where it ought to be
decided, whenever the occasion required it — by the two Houses
of Parliament. That the committee might assert

. the same, he
meant, in the resolution he should offer, to quote that doctrine
from the bill of rights, and assert that it rested with the Lords
and Commons, as the rightful representatives of the people. If
the contrary doctrine was so evident that it must be true ; if the
heir apparent, or heir presumptive, had a clear right to assume
the royal prerogative, on the interruption of those powers, he
desired to ask every gentleman in the committee, whether they
would wish to adopt such a doctrine as a doctrine applicable to
the safety of the crown, which had been long gloriously worn by
His Majesty, and which it was the ardent, the sincere wish of his
people that he might long continue to wear, until it should, in
due time, and in a natural manner, descend to his legal and his
illustrious successor? 111r. Pitt here strongly deprecated the idea
of avoiding the discussion of what limitations might be necessary
for insuring the safety of the crown on the head of its present.

Lord Loughborough.


possessor, on account of the many ,virtuoas qualifications of the
Prince, or out of respect to any other motive whatsoever. It

would not= ave been wisdom in our ancestors, had they said, that
the care of the person of .the sovereign ought to be vested in the
heir apparent. He hoped, in this declaration,' that he should not
be misunderstood, for he was ready to acknowledge:the greatest
and best qualities in the present heir apparent ; but he would
rather, in what he had said, be misrepresented in any manner, and
any where, than sacrifice the duty which he owed to the safety of
his sovereign, and to the,interests of the people.

The right honourable gentleman opposite to him had said, on
a fortneraay, that His RoyalEighne ss had as clear a right to the
exercise-of the sovereign authority, as:be would have had in case
.of the natural demise of the sovereign, and that he conceived

the present to be a civil death..
Could the committee so con-

sider His Majesty's indisposition, which was not an uncommon
case, and generally but temporary—cou ld they conceive that His

Majesty had undergone 'death? He was sure they would
not. If such a thing existed at the present moment as a civil

death, :His Royal Highness would immediately ascend the throne,

with ' the full exercise of the royal prerogative, and not as a re-

gent ; for :a civil death,
like a natural death, was permanent.

He stated from Mr. Justice Blackstone, that there were but two
cases in which .a man could undergo a civil death ; the first was
his being banished from the realm by process of common law ;
the second, his having entered into a religious order, and be-
coming a,monk professed, thereby taking himself for ever from'
all secular concerns. The first was an act which cut off a cri-
Ininalfrom. society ,within the realm, and the other was the vo-
luntaryaa ofretiring from theworld. Would any man pretend,

that , either -of,those.caseslvas,analogous to the visitation of Ilea-

ven;toastroke infiictedby the hand Of

,and probably 'would,:prove temporary ? Could .it.lbe pretended,
that theyought Ito be, adduced as acts to:preventllisMajestyiii.
future from exercising th ose-powersv,'hich Wiwi never forfeited,
which he had never renounced?


After having advanced so much in contradiction to the claim
of right, he believed no one woeld think of asserting it. The
only question, then, was, and to Which. what had passed before
was brit preliminary, where did lhe right exist ? If no provision
in precedent, inlistory,orin law, was to be found, for the exer-
cise of such authority, on the disability of the sovereign, where
was it to be found ? It was to be found in the voice, in the sense
of the people. With them it rested ; and though, in extraordinary
cases, inmost countries, suCh:an event as the calamity which all
deplored, would have gone -near to dissolve the constitution it-
self; yet, in this more happily-tempered form of government,
equally participating the advantages, and at the same time avoid-
ing the .. evils of a democracy, an oligarchy, or an aristocracy, it
would have no such effect ; for, though the third estate of the le-
gislature might bedeficient, yet the organs of speech ofthe people
remained entire in their representatives, by the houses of Lords
and. Commons, through which the sense of the people might be
taken. TheLords and the Commons represented the whole estates
•tthe people, and with them it rested. as a right, , a constitutional
and legal right, to provide for the deficiency of the third branch
of the legislature, whenever a deficiency .arose ; they were the
legal organs of speech.for the people ; and such he conceived to
-be the -true doctrine of the constitution. He would not merely
state these as his own opinions, would state them to be
the opinions of those who had framed the revolution, who had

not, like the committee, to provide for the interruption of legal
powers, while the throne was full, but to supply the deficiency of
the third branch of the legislature, which was wholly vacant.
Whenever the third branch, however, of the legislature was
wholly gone, or'

ut suffered ivsuspension, it was equally necessary
to resort to the organs of the people's speech. Agreeably to the
laws of the land, to the records of parliament, to precedent, and
to the constitution, the political capacity of the King, except in
cases of absolute forfeiture of the crown, was always considered
as legally entire; and during that political capacity, according to
the spirit:of the constitution, if any natural incapacity should

MR. PITT'S [Dec. 16.

MR. PITT'S LD2C. 16:

cause a suspension of the royal authority, it then rested with the
remaining branches of the legislature to supply such defect. In
every proceeding of the parliament, in the reign of Henry the
Sixth, they had acted upon such a power, and declared in what
manner, and by whom, the royal authority was to be exercised
for, and in the name of, the King. In that reign, the Duke of
Gloucester claimed the regency, and applied to parliament for
the same as his right ; but the answer of parliament to such claim
was, that he neither had by birth, nor by the will of his brother,
any right whatever to the exercise of the royal authority. They,
however, appointed him regent, and intrusted him with the care
of the young King. Here was an instance of the claim of right
having been actually made, and an instance, likewise, that it had
been fully decided upon by the then parliament, who declared,
that no such right existed, either from the law of the land, or
from precedent. The rights of parliament were congenial with
the constitution.

Mr. Pitt referred the committee to every analogy that could
be drawn from the principles of the constitution, and he con-
tended, that the only right would be found to exist in parliament,
describing it as a right capable of so effectually providing for the
deficiency of the third branch of the legislature, as to enable
them to appoint a power to give sanction to their proceedings,
in the same manner as if the King was present. As the power of
filling the throne rested with the people at the revolution, so, at
the present moment, on the same principles of liberty, on the
same rights of parliament, did the providing for the deficiency

. rest with the people. He declared, that he . felt himself inade-
quate to the great task of stating the rights and privileges of the
constitution, and of parliament ; but he had made it appear, as
plainly as he could, that no right existed any where to exercise
the whole, or any part, of.the royal prerogatives, during the in-
disposition of the sovereign. He had also proved, that, from
the necessity of the case, it rested with that and the other House
of Parliament, to provide for the deficiency in the legislature.
He supposed that doubts might be stated as to the propriety of


coming to any decision on the question, and that he might be
charged with having stirred notions dangerous to the state ; but
such questions, he begged it to be remembered, he had not stir-
red. When questions concerning the rights of the people, the
rights of the parliament, and the interests of the nation, were
started, it was necessary, if Ow House had a right-on the subject,
to exercise that right ; it was their duty ;. it was a matter that
could by no means be lightly given up. If it was their duty, in
the present calamitous state of the nation, to grant power, they
ought to know how they granted such power. They must de-
cide, either in the manner of a choice, or as acting judicially, to
recognise a claim of right; and if they recognised such claim,
it would be an acknowledgment that they had no power to deli-
berate on the 'subject. If they did not come to some decision,
.they would confound their own proceedings, and it would be
highly dangerous to posterity, in point of precedent. They
were not, therefore, to consult their own convenience. He re-
marked, that, originally, the claim of right had been asserted
.by the right honourable gentleman, in strong and lofty terms,
but that the tone had been since somewhat lowered. -He de-
clared, he could see no possibility of the committee proceeding
a single step farther, without knowing on what kind of ground
they proceeded ; and, therefore, it became indispensably neces-
sary to have the question of right decided. The danger of the
question originated in its having been stirred, not in its being
decided ; the danger of the stirring would be done away by the
decision, but leaving it undecided, and equivocal, would be
highly dangerous. The decision of both Houses could be attended
with no dissension, but, if the right of parliament was not con-
firmed, the measures of both Houses would be imputed, he
feared, rather -to motives of personal interest and convenience,
than to a due regard for the interest of the country. The mea-
sures which he meant to propose were dictated by no other
motive than an anxious desire, in conformity .to his duty, to'
provide for the safety of the King, the rights of parliament, and
the interests of the people.


290 MR. PITT'S rDEc. 16-

Mr. Pitt; previous to the conclusion of his speech, adverted to
what he described as -the opinion stated by a noble lord* ,' in an-
other place, in contradiction to his assertion, that the Prince of
Wales had no more right to assume the regency, than any other
individual subject. He said, that he understood, that in arguing
that matter, some very extraordinary modes of reasoning had
heen resorted to. Among other conceived proofs that the rights
of the Prince of Wales were different from those of other sub-

- jects, it had been contended, that the Prince of Wales was, in an
old record, quoted by Lord Coke, pronounced one and the same
with the King. The fact certainly was so ; but to draw from
such azircumstance an argument, that the Prince had a right to
exercise the sovereign authority, under the present circum-
stances of His Majesty's unfortunate incapacity, was an inference
so monstrous, that he should think he deserved censure for
sporting with the gravity of the House, if he suffered himself to
treat it with the least gravity whatsoever. In truth, a very dif-
ferent conclusion might he drawn from the whole of that record,
the metaphorical language of which was not to be taken in a lite-
ral sense, in that or any other point of so much importance.
Another position, laid down at the same time, and in the same
place, was, that the Prince of Wales, as heir apparent, and being
of full age, could assume the exercise of the sovereign authority,
if His Majesty's infirmity had occurred when parliament was not
sitting : but that doctrine had been So expressly contradicted in
that House, by the right honourable gentleman opposite -to him,
when -the subject was last agitated, that it was needless for him
to :say -a syllable more relative to its nature. A third argument
urged in support of the Prince's right, was, that a Prince of
Wales, when he came to the crown, could sue out an execution,
as king, in a cause in which he had obtained a judgment as Prince
.of Wales. But what was there decidedly conclusive in this .posi-
lion ? The reason why the Prince of Wales had this advantage
over other subjects was obvious. If the son of a peer, who had
maintained a suit in -the courts in Westminster-hal l , and obtained

4 Lord Rawdon.

a judgment, succeeded to 'his father's honours before he had
sued out an execution, he could not sue out an execution, with-
out previously identifying himself, and satisfying the court that
he was the same person who had prosecuted the suit, and ob-
tained the judgment. And why was not the Prince of Wales
obliged to do the same? For this plain reason, the courts of
Westminster-hall are holden in the name of the King, and there•
fore, in his own courts, it must be a matter of notoriety that, on
the demise of the crown, the Prince of Wales had succeeded to
it, and become King: but were these arguments multipled ten
times over, what did they prove? Merely that the Prince had
rights, of some sort or other, peculiar to himself; but did they
prove, that he had a right to exercise the sovereign authority,
on his father's incapacity, without the consent and declared ap-
probation of the two remaining branches of the legislature ? No
more than a proof; that a man having an estate in Middlesex,
was a proof that he had another in Cornwall, and a third in
Yorkshire. In fact all these drguntents put together, regarded
and considered with a reference to the point in dispute, whether
the Prince of Wales, as heir apparent, had a right to exercise
the sovereign authority, during the incapacity of His Majesty,
were so irrelevant, so foreign to the question, and so perfectly
absurd, that they were not to be relied on as law, even if they
-came from the mouth of a judge.

With respect to the strong and lofty assertion that had been at
first made of the right of the Prince of Wales, as heir apparent,
to assume the exercise of the sovereignty, it was sufficient to ob-
serve, that this doctrine was retracted. Upon this occasion, he
should beg leave to recall the word and say, not retracted, but
disavowed. This reminded him of the precedent in the reign of
Henry the Sixth, during which the Duke of Gloucester quar-
relled with the Bishop of Winchester, which disagreement rose
so high, and was carried so far, that, at length, the duke brought
a criminal charge against the bishop, accusing him of having, in
a former reign, advised the Prince of Wales, afterwards Henry
the Fifth, to assume the sovereign authority in the life-time of


292 MR. PITT'S [DEc. 16.

his father, Henry the Fourth. Though this charge, if' proved,
would have been high treason, the bishop desired that it might
be referred to the judges, and that its validity might be deter-
mined_ by the strictest investigation. The quarrel, however,
was compromised, on grounds of personal convenience, and the
charge . never came to a legal decision.

Mr. Pitt having endeavoured, by many arguments, to establish
the right of the two Houses of parliament to provide the means
of supplying the defect in the case of the King's incapacity to
exercise the sovereign authority, expressed his hopes that he
should impress the House with a conviction, that if they had a
right, they had also a duty ; — a duty, which neither their al-
legiance nor their affection to their sovereign would allow them
to dispense with. It was their duty, at this time, not only unequi-
vocally to declare their right, so that it might remain ascer-
tained, beyond the possibility of all question hereafter, and
become secured to posterity, but to proceed, without delay, to
exercise their right, and provide the means of supplying the
defect of the personal exercise of the royal authority, arising
from His Majesty's indisposition. Upon no account did it ap-
pear probable, that their decision could either occasion a dis-
sension between the two Houses of parliament, or produce
mischievous consequences of any kind whatsoever. On the
contrary, if-the right were not declared, as well as decided, it
would appear that the two Houses had made a compromise,
unbecoming themselves, and had acted upon personal motives,
rather than a due regard to the true interests of their country.
Mr. Pitt then read his resolutions as , follow :

L " That it is the opinion of this committee, That His
Majesty is prevented, by his present indisposition, from coming
to his parliament, and from attending to public business, and
that the personal exercise of the royal authority is thereby, for
the present, interrupted.

II. " That it is the opinion of this committee, That it is the
right and duty of the Lords spiritual and temporal, and Commons

of Great Britain, now assembled, and lawfully, fully, and freely


representing all the estates of the people of this realm, to pro-
vide the means of supplying the defect of the personal exercise,
of the royal authority, arising from His Majesty's said indis-
position, in such manner as the exigency of the case may ap-
pear to require. -

Resolved, " That for this purpose, and for maintaining en-
tire the constitutional authority of the King, it is necessary, that
the said Lords spiritual and temporal, and Commons of Great
Britain, should determine on the means whereby the royal
assent may be given in parliament, to such bill as may be
passed by the two Houses of parliament, respecting the exer-

of the powers and authorities of the crown, in the name,
and on the behalf, of -the King, during the continuance of His
Majesty's present indisposition."

The first resolution was carried unanimously. Upon the second a
long debate ensued, Lord North moving, as an amendment, " That the
chairman leave the chair, report progress, and ask leave to sit again."

After Mr. Fox had spoken, Mr.PrrT rose to reply.

He observed, it was not without some astonishment that he
discovered, that the right ,

honourable -gentleman had thought
proper, particularly in the latter part of his speech, to digress
from the question of right, which was then before the House, in
order to enter upon the question of expediency, and that not so
much for the purpose even of discussing that expediency as to
take an opportunity of introducing an attack of a personal nature
on him. The House would recollect, whether the manner in
which he (Mr. Pitt) had opened the debate, either provoked or
justified this animosity. This attack, which the right honour-
able gentleman had just now made, he declared to be unfounded,
arrogant, and presumptuous. The right honourable gentleman
had charged him, as acting from a mischievous spirit of ambi-
tion, unable to bear the idea of parting with power, which.he
had so long retained ; but not expecting the favour of the
Prince, which he was conscious he had not deserved, and there-

Mr. Fox.

291 MR. PITT'S [Dec. 16

fore disposed to envy and obstruct the credit of those who were
to be his successors. Whether to him belonged that character
of mischievous ambition, which would sacrifice the principles of
the constitution to a desire of power, be must leave to the
House and the country to determine. They would decide,
whether, in the whole of his conduct, during this unfortunate
crisis, any consideration which affected his own personal situ-
ation, or any management for the sake of preserving power, ap-
peared to have had the chief share in deciding the measures he
had proposed. As to his being conscious that he did not de-
serve the favour of the Prince, he could only say, that he knew
but one way, in which he or any man could deserve it ; by
having uniformly endeavoured, in a public situation, to do his
duty to the King his father, and to the country at large. If, in
thus endeavouring to deserve the confidence of the Prince, it
should appear, that he in fact had lost it, however painful and
mortifying that circumstance might be to him, and from what-
ever cause it might proceed, he should indeed regret it, but he
could boldly say, that it was impossible he should ever repent
of it.

The right honourable gentleman had thought proper to an-
nounce himself and his friends to be the successors of the present
administration. He did not know on what authority the right
honourable gentleman made this declaration; but, he thought,
that with a view to those questions of expediency, which the
right honourable gentleman had introduced, both the House and
the country were obliged to him for this seasonable warning of
what they would have to expect. The nation had already had
experience of that right honourable gentleman, and his princi-
ples. Without meaning to use terms of reproach, or to enter
into any imputation concerning his motives, it could not be de-
nied, that they were openly and professedly active, on the ground
of procuring an advantage, from the strength of a party, to:no-
minate the ministers of the crown. It could not be denied, that
it was maintained as a fundamental principle, that a minister
ought at all times so to be nominated. He would therefore
speak plainly. If persons, who possessed these principles, were

in reality likely to be the advisers of the Prince, in the exercise of
those powers which were necessary to be given, during the pre-
sent unfortunate interval, it was the strongest additional reason,
it' any were wanting, for being careful to consider, what the ex-
tent of those powers ought to be. It was impossible not. to sup-
pose, that, by such advisers, those powers would be perverted to
a purpose, which it was indeed impossible to imagine that the
Prince of Wales could, if he was aware of it, ever endure for a
moment; but for which, by artifice and misrepresentation, lie
might unintentionally be made accessary, for. the !impose of
creating a permanent weight and influence, in the hands of a
party, which would be dangerous to the just rights of the crown,
when the moment should arrive, (so much wished, and, per-
haps, so soon to be expected) of His Majesty's being able tore-
sume the exercise of his own authority. The notice, therefore,
which the right honourable gentleman in his triumph had con-
descended to give to the House, furnished the most irresistible
reason for them deliberately to consider, lest in providing for
the means of carrying on the administration, during a short
and temporary interval, they might sacrifice the permanent; in-
terests of the country, in future, by laying the foundation of
such-measures, as might, for ever afterwards during the continu-
ance of-His-Majesty's reign, obstruct the just-and salutary exercise
of the constitutional powers of government, in the hands ofits
rightful possessor, the sovereign, whom they all revered and laved.

The noble lord in the blue ribband*, like. most of the:gentle-
men who had spoken on that side of the House, had argued, not
against-the truth of the resolutions, but the propriety of coming
to them, and had waved any dispute on the question. of'right;
The-right honourable gentleman, though he.affected, :also/ 10 ob-
ject to the propriety of coming to this resolution, had • di-
rected; his whole argument, as far as it went; to.an invalidation-,
of the ,

truth. of the proposition, and the maintenance of his for-
mer assertion, in favour of the existing right of the Prince of;
Wales. This line of argument, supported by such authority,'

* Lord North.
u 4

296 MR. PIrris [DEc.16.. 1788.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 297
was itself an answer to those who doubted the propriety of any

The right honourable gentleman had ventured to represent
him as having declined maintaining his former assertion, " That
the Prince of Wales. had no more right to the regency than any
other subject in the country," and he -had also intimated, that
he had thus retracted, in consequence of believing! that not •
twenty persons •would join in supporting that proposition. But
it so happened, that he did not retract one single word of that
assertion. Gentlemen might quarrel with the phrase, if they
thought proper, and misrepresent it, in imitation of the right
honourable gentleman, in order to cover the arguments used by
a noble lord* in another place. But he was in the recollection
of the House, whether when he first used the expression, he had
not guarded it, as meaning to speak strictly of a claim of right,
not of.any. reasons of preference, on the ground of discretion or
expediency. He was also in their recollection, whether the
right he spoke of was any other than the specific Tight in ques-
tion, namely, the right to exercise the royal authority, under the
present circumstances. He had maintained, that the Prince had
no such right. If the Prince had not the right, he could not be
said to have any more right than fuiy other subject in the coun-
try. But was it any answer to the assertion, that as Prince of
Wales he had no right to the regency, to say that he had other
rights, different from . the rest of the King's subjects, but which
had nothing to do with the regency ? Yet all the rights of the
Prince of Wales, which had been mentioned by the noble lord
alluded to, were of this description. It would be just as reason-
able if the question were, whether any person had a right to a
particular estate in Kent or Surry ? to argue, yes he has, for he
has such and such an estate in Yorkshire, and in Cornwall. With
regard to the question, whether twenty persons did or did not
agree in his denial of the right of the Prince of Wales, he would
put the whole on that issue, that if the Prince of Wales had any
such right, the resolution he had moved could not be true ; and

Lord Loughborough.

he considered every person who differed from his assertion on that
subject, as bound to vote against the present motion.

The right honourable gentleman, in discussing the question of
chose also to remark, that the right of the two Houses, and

the right of the Prince of Wales, were to be considered as two
rival rights, and that the only question was, in favour of which
the arguments preponderated. He should be perfectly ready to
meet the question on this issue, if it were the true one, . for the
right of the two Houses was clearly supported by precedent and
usage, in every .similar case, by express declarations of parlia-
ment, and by positive authority of law ; yet the right of the
Prince of Wales was not even attempted to be supported on any
of those grounds, but on pretended reasons of expediency, found-
ed on imaginary and extravagant cases. In fact, this was not the
fair issue of the argument. The right of the Prince of Wales
was not to be considered as a rival right, to be argued on the
same grounds as the other. It was a right which could not exist,
unless it was capable of being expressly and positively proved ;
whereas, the right of parliament was that which existed of course,
unless some other right could be proved to exclude it. It was
that which, on the principles of this free constitution, must al-
ways 'exist in every case, where no possitive provision had been
made by law, and where the necessity of the case, and the safety
of the country, called for their interposition. The absence of
any other right, was in itself enough to constitute the right of the
two Houses ; and the bare admission, that the right of the Prince
of Wales was not clearly and expressly proved, virtually operated
as an admission of every point under discusion.

The amendment was negatived upon a division;

Noes 268
And the second and third resolutions were then put and carried.*

* The following correspondence passed between Mr. Pitt and His
Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, during this interesting discussion :

298 MR. PITT'S PAN. 16.

January 16. 1789.

Tin; House having, in pursuance of the order of the day, resolved
itself into a Committee of the whole House, on the further consideration
of the State of the Nation,

MR. PITT opened his remarks by expresssing concern at per-
ceiving that the particular situation of the country called upon

Copy of Mr. s Letter to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales,
left at Carlton House, on Tuesday Night, the 30th of December.

" SIR,
" The proceedings in parliament being now brought to a point, which

.will render it necessary to propose to the House of Commons the par-
ticular measures to be taken for supplying the defect of the personal ex-
ercise of the royal authority during the present interval, and Your Royal
Highness having some time since signified your pleasure, that any commu-
nication on this subject should be in writing, I . take the liberty of respect-
fully entreating your Royal Highness's permission to submit to your
consideration the outlines of the plan which His Majesty's confidential ser-
vants humbly conceive (according to the best judgment which they are able
to form) to be proper to be proposed in the present circumstances.

It is their humble opinion, that Your Royal Highness should be em-
powered to exercise the royal authority in the name and on the behalf of
His Majesty during His Majesty's illness, and to do all acts which might
legally be done by His Majesty; with provisions, nevertheless; that the care
of His Majesty's royal person, and the management of His Majesty's house-
hold, and the direction and appointment of the officers and servants
therein, should be in the Queen, under such regulations as maybe thought
necessary : That the power to be exercised by Your Royal Highness
should not extend to the granting ,of the real or personal property of the
King, (except as far as relates to the renewal of leases,) to the granting of
any office in reversion, or to the granting, for any other term than during
His Majesty's pleasure, of any pension, or any office whatever, except
such as must by law be granted for life, or during good behaviour ; nor
to the granting of any rank or dignity of the peerage of this realm to
any person except His Majesty's issue, who shall have attained the age
of twenty-one years..

" These. are the chief points which have occurred to His Majestfs
servants. I beg leave to add, that their ideas are formed on the suppo-
sition that His Majesty's illness is only temporary, and may be of no long

them to exercise a right that had devolved upon them in con-
sequence of the melancholy situation of His Majesty, which
rendered him incapable of exercising the royal authority. Upon
the present distressful occasion, it behoved them to provide the

duration. It may be difficult to fix before-hand the precise period for
which these provisions ought to last ; but if unfortunately His Majesty's
recovery should be protracted to a more distant period than there is
reason at present to imagine, it will be open hereafter to the wisdom
of parliament, to reconsider these provisions, whenever the circum-
stances appear to call for it.

" If Your Royal Highness should be pleased to require any farther
explanation on the subject, and should condescend to signify ,

your or-
ders, that I should have the honour of attending Your Royal Highness
for that purpose, or to intimate any other mode in which your Royal.
Highness may wish to receive such explanation, I shall respectfully wait
Your Royal Highness's commands.

"1 have the honour to be,
" With the utmost deference and submission,

" SIR,
" Your Royal Highness's

" Most dutiful and devoted Servant,
" W. PITT."

Downing Street,
" Tuesday Night, Dec. 30. 178S."

Copy of the Paper delivered by the Prince of Woks to the Lord Chan-
cellor, in reply to the Letter sent to His Royal Highness from Mr. Pitt.
" THE Prince of Wales learns from Mr. Pitt's letter, that the proceed-

ings in parliament are now in a train which enables Mr. Pitt, according
to the intimation in his former letter, to communicate-to the Prince the
outlines of the plan which His Majesty's confidential servants conceive,
to be proper to be proposed in the present circumstances.

" Concerning ,
the steps already taken by Mr. Pitt, the Prince is silent.

Nothing done by the two Houses of parliament can be a proper subject
of his animadversion ; but when previously to any discussion in parlia-
ment, the outlines of a scheme of government are sent for his con-
sideration, in which it is proposed that he shall be personally and
principally concerned, and by which the royal authority and the public
welfare may be deeply affected, the Prince would be unjustifiable, were
he to withhold an explicit declaration of his sentiments. His.silence

300 MR. PIT 'S [,TAN. 16.

means of supplying the deficiency ; but, in doing so, he trusted
that it must be the wish of every gentleman, that they should
proceed in the manner the best calculated to give general satis-
faction, and the . most likely to secure the approbation of the


might be construed into a previous approbation of a plan, the accom-
plishment of which every motive of duty to his father and soyereign, as
well as of regard for the public interest, obliges hint to consider as
injurious to both.

" In the state of deep distress in which the Prince, and the whole
Royal Family were involved, by the heavy calamity •which has fallen
upon the King, and at a moment when governments deprived of its
chief energy and support, seemed peculiarly to need the cordial and
united aid of all descriptions of good subjects, it was not expected by
the Prince, that a plan should be offered to his consideration, by which
government was to be rendered difficult ; if not impracticable, in the
bawls of any person intended to represent the King's authority, much
less in the hands of his eldest son — the heir apparent of his kingdoms,
and the person most bound to the maintenance of His Majesty's just
prerogatives and authority, as well as most interested in the happiness,
the prosperity, and the glory of the people.

" The Prince forbears to remark on the several parts of the sketch of
the plan laid before him ; he apprehends it must have been formed with
sufficient deliberation to preclude the probability of any argument of his
producing an alteration of sentiment in the projectors of it. But he
trusts, with confidence, to the wisdom and justice of parliament, when
the whole of this subject, and the circumstances connected with it, shall
come under their deliberation.

" He observes, therefore, only generally on the heads communicated
by Mr. Pitt—and it is with deep regret the Prince makes the observ-
ation, that he sees, in the contents of that paper, a project for pro-
ducing weakness, disorder, and insecurity in every branch of the
administration of affairs. A project for dividing the Royal Family from
each other, for separating the court from the state; and therefore, by
disjoining government from its natural and accustomed support, a scheme
for disconnecting the authority to command service, from the power of
animating it by reward; and for allotting to the Prince all the invidious
duties of government, without the means of softening them to the pub-
lic, by any one act of grace, favour, or benignity.

" The Prince's feelings on contemplating this plan, are also rendered
still more painful to him, by observing that it is not founded on any
general principle, but is calculated to infuse jealousies and suspicions
(wholly groundless, he trusts) in that quarter, whose confidence it will
ever be the first pride of his life to merit and obtain.



people, which, he had the happiness to know, had generally
attended every step which they had hitherto taken. He sincerely
wished that every measure which lie should,have the honour to
propose, might be fully discussed, and fairly decided upon ; that

" With regard to the motive and object of the limitations and restric-
tions proposed, the Prince can have but little to observe. No light or
information is offered him by His Majesty's ministers on these points.
They have informed him what the powers are which they mean to refuse
him, not why they are withheld.

" The Prince, however, holding as he does, that it is an undoubted
and fundamental principle of this constitution, that the powers and
prerogatives of the crown are vested there, as a trust for the benefit of
the people; and that they arc sacred only as they are necessary to the
preservation of that poise and balance of the constitution, which ex-
perience has proved to be the true security of the liberty of the subject

—must be allowed to observe, that the plea of public Utility ought to be
strong, manifest anti urgent, which calls for the extinction or suspension
of any one of those essential rights in 'the supreme power, or its repre-
sentative; or which can justify the Prince in consenting, that, in his
person, an experiment shall be made to ascertain

with how small a

portion of the kingly power the executive government of this country
may be carried on.

" The Prince has only to adtl, that if security for His Majesty's re-
possessing his rightful government, whenever it shall please Providence, in
bounty to the country, to•remove the calamity with which he is afflicted,
be any part of the object of this plan, the Prince has only to be con-
vinced that any measure is necessary, or even conducive, to that end, to
be the first to urge it as the preliminary and paramount consideration
of any settlement in which he would consent to share.

" If attention to what it is presumed might be His Majesty's feelings
and wishes on the happy day of his recovery, be the object, it is with
the truest sincerity the Prince expresses his firm conviction, that no
event would be more repugnant to the feelings of his royal father, than
the knowledge that the government of his son and representative had
exhibited the sovereign power of the realm in a state of degradation, of
curtailed authority, and diminished energy, a state, hurtful in practice
to the prosperity and good government of his people, and injurious in
its precedent to the security of the monarch, and the rights of his family

" Upon that part of the plan which regards the King's real and per-
sonal property, the Prince feels himself compelled to remark, that it was
not necessary for Mr. Pitt, nor proper, to suggest to the Prince the
restraint he proposes against the Prince's granting away the King's real

302 MR. PITT'S [JAN. 16.

the nature of the case, the general principles on which they ought
to proceed, and the application of those principles, might be
clearly and distinctly pointed out. In so doing, they would be
best enabled to meet the emergency which called upon them, and
to provide for the defect of the personal exercise of the royal

The business of the committee lay in a very narrow compass,
notwithstanding the voluminous reports on the table. In the
report last delivered, there was abundant matter of confirmation
to him of the propriety and prudence of those measures which
he was, as the committee were aware, prepared to have proposed
to them nearly ten days ago. But, though there was much
material information in that report, there was no difference, in
his opinion, in the ground of what he had to offer, as, on the
former day, as well as on the present, the committee had more
information before them than was sufficient to bear out all that

and personal property. The Prince does not conceive, that, during the
King's life, he is, •

by law, entitled to make any such grant; and he is
sure, that he has never shewn the smallest inclination to possess any
such power. But it remains with Mr. Pitt to consider the eventual in-
terests of the Royal Family, and to provide a proper and natural security
"against the mismanagement of them by others.

" The Prince has discharged an indispensable duty, in thus giving his
free opinion on the plan submitted to his consideration.

" His conviction of the evils which may arise to the King's interests,
to the peace and happiness of the Royal Family, and to the safety and
welfare of the nation, from the government of the country remaining
longer in its present maimed and debilitated state, outweighs, in the
Prince's mind, every other consideration, and will determine him to
undertake the painful trust imposed upon him by the present melan-
choly necessity (which of all the King's subjects he deplores the most)
in full 'confidence, that the affection and loyalty to the King, the ex-
perienced attachment to the house of Brunswick, and the generosity
which has always distinguished this nation, will carry him through the
many difficulties, inseparable from this most critical situation, with com-
fort to himself; with honour to the King, and with advantage to the

• " G. p."
" Carlton House,

" January 2. 1789."

he should submit to their consideration. Had he, on the former
day, felt it necessary to state the ground on which he intended
to have built his proceeding, he should have stated it thus,
" That His Majesty was incapable of meeting his parliament, or
attending to public business ; that the unanimous opinion of his
physicians was, that-His Majesty's recovery was more probable
than the contrary, and that all the physicians agreed that it was
impossible to ascertain when that so much wished-for event might
-take place ; but that those who were more immediately conver-
sant with the disorder with which His Majesty was afflicted, had
declared that the majority were cured ; and that one of the phy-
sicians, the most conversant of any, had stated, that the greatest
length of time which he had ever known the disorder to conti-
nue, was a year and a half or two years, that the shortest was
three months, and that the average was five or six months." In
saying even that, he should have said more than was necessary
for any argument on the principle on which he went. What they
had to provide for, therefore, was no more than an interval, and
-he flattered himself that it would prove but a short interval. If,
however, unfortunately, His Majesty's illness should be pro-
tracted, they might leave it to parliament to do what was at pre-
sent clearly unnecessary — to consider of a, more permanent plan
of government. If they regarded the disorder not in itself in-
curable, every man must admit that the provisions ought not to
be permanent. Mr. Pitt now recapitulated what had passed con-
cerning the subject upon the Tuesday se'nnight, and the line of
argument that had been adopted, which rendered it impossible
for him to avoid giving way to a more narrow and minute in-
quiry than had before taken place ; and, however he might feel
pain on account of some particular points which had -passed in
the committee, he could not, upon the whole, but rejoice that
he had given way, as it now appeared that the argument on which
the right honourable gentleman over against him had relied, viz.
that because a month bad elapsed since the former'inquiry, His
Majesty's cure was to be considered as the more improbable,
was not grounded ; and as, however much the physicians dis-

301 MR. PITT'S Pax. 16,

agreed in other points, they were unanimous that the probabi-
lity of the cure rested precisely on the same grounds as before ;
— a circumstance which, he was persuaded, would give as much
pleasure to the right honourable gentleman as it had done to

With regard to the difference of opinion between the pbysi-
clans, as to the prospect of a recovery, it appeared to him to de-
pend on two circumstances, by which it could be decided on
whose opinion the greatest reliance ought to be placed. The
first circumstance was the knowledge of the malady in general;
and the second the knowledge of the particular case of the patient.
Three of His Majesty's physicians had been conversant with the
malady. Two others, though not so conversant, were well ac-
quainted with His Majesty's habits. These two ( Sir George
Baker and Dr. Warren) attended His Majesty for two hours each
day ; the three others from the evening until eleven in the fore-
noon. Surely it was natural for those who attended His Majesty
most to be the best judges of his situation ; and it was remark-
able that Dr. Warren and Sir George Baker were the least confi-
dent of a cure, and the other doctors had much greater hopes;
but Dr. Willis, who attended His Majesty more than any of the
others, was more sanguine than them all. Sir Lucas Pepys stated
circumstances which did not amount to a certainty of a cure, but
which proved an abatement of His Majesty's disorder. Dr.
Willis was of opinion that all the symptoms since the time of the
last examination were more favourable. In a word, all the phy-
sicians agreed in the probability of His Majesty's recovery,
and. that the length of the time had made no unfavourable
changes : those, too, who understood the disorder best, thought
it more favourable.

For his own part, he wished not to go at length into the par-
ticulars of the last report, on which the committee might safely
rely, as there were those on the committee who were anxious to
sift, with the most scrupulous accuracy, every point likely to
prove His Majesty's recovery. There had been those who gave
no considerable degree of credit to Dr. Willis; if, therefore, any

observations should arise from them, he conceived that they
Would be made in the same spirit, and with the same ability, as
when they were urged in the committee above stairs.' Upon thiS
occasion he felt it but common justice to commend -the skill, .in-
tegrity, and good sense of Dr. 'Willis, which were evinced under
a severe cross-examination, calculated to puzzle simplicity, and
leave the coolness which should, of necessity, accompany the
delivery of evidence, too unguarded. However it might suit with
the political intrigue of the times, or be converiient to. circulate
them at present in London and its environs, he would not anti-
cipate the remarks which might be made ; but if there were any
such remarks to be advanced, lie desired, if they chose to


the credit of either this or that physician, that they might under-
stand the nature of the imputation. In the course of the imp:dry
above stairs, a circumstance had come out, over which he would
not draw a veil of delicacy, as he was not ashamed to bring it
forward. If it be stated to the discredit of any physician, that
he had submitted to be unduly influenced by a great personage,
let the committee know to what physician the imputation of
having consented to give an untrue account of the state of His
Majesty's health applied : if an impropriety of transaction like
that was imputed, he would not believe it till it was distinctly
ventured to be said, and when he used the term venture, he did not
mean to use it with regard to the exalted station of the person in
question, but with regard to the transaction itself; nor did he

. ( he
repeated it) believe that any man would venture to charge blame
of any kind on the respectable personage in question, who had
lived for almost thirty years in this country without traduction,
a pattern of the-most unexampled affection, domestic tenderness,
and virtue ; against whom the breath of calumny had not dared
to send forth even a Whisper ; and who 'could not merit it at a
moment, when visited by a calamity which rarely befals a private
person, but which surely was not a little aggravated when it
becomes the lot of the family of a person in so exalted a rank as
the sovereign of the country. As to the fact itself, it appeared
that Dr. Warren allowed that apparent circumstances of an

VOL. I. ti

amendment began to appear ; and there was, in consequence, a
wish on the part of Her Majesty that the report might be such
as should give the public the most favourable account of His
.Majesty's health ; but would any man prove that any undue influ-
ence had been used for that purpose ? Mr. Pitt explained in what
manner the words, a cony'ortable way, had been introduced into
the report, and then spoke of Dr. Willis, declaring that he was
known inthe country where he lived, by his character, and by
the ,happiness .which he had been the means of giving to the
numerous families who were bound to bless him. for the good
effects of his skill. He mentioned another physician; whose
character was likewise high, but declared that if he wished to
draw a true conclusion of His Majesty's state of health, and
prospect of recovery, he would wish to draw it from Dr. 'Willis,
More than from any other physician.

At length, Mr. Pitt adverted to the situation for which they
were to provide, and this situation was no less than the cessation
of the personal exercise of the royal authority ; a deficiency for
which no previous provision had been made. As the cause of
deficiency, he had every reason to think, would prove but tem-
porary, they must deliberately consider what were the . cases for
which-they were to apply a remedy. The first object for which.
they had to provide, was to secure the establishment of a govern-
ment in the country, equal to its safety and the dispatch of public
business. Out of the nature of such a provision another duty
Arose, of equal importance to the other ; and this was, to take
care that the measure embraced did not go beyond the necessity
of the case. The committee were to provide powers for the ex-
ercise of the government, and they must take care to place those
powers in proper hands ; but, above all things, to recollect that
they were not placing a king on the throne. They were to re-..
member that the throne was full, that no right any where existed
to exercise the royal authority, but that which was conferred by
that House ; they were to take care to provide against any , em-
barrassment in the resumption of the regal authority, whenever
God, in his providence, should permit the rightful holder again

to exercise it. They were to provide only for the necessity of
the case, and not to exceed it ;. and therefore the measures
which he should propose, would be to invest His Royal Highness
the Prince of Wales with the whole royal authority, to be exer-
cised in the name, and on the behalf of His Majesty, under such
limitations and restrictions only as should be provided. The
principle was not new, although the circumstances of the case
happened to be unprecedented. No man would say, that the
same power which the principal exercised ought to be given to,
the delegate; and if the House referred to precedents, they would
find that no one instance could be met with of the whole of the
royal prerogatives having been so delegated. Ori the contrary,
every precedent which bore the smallest analogy to the present.
situation, evinced the direct contrary, and that, doubtless, with a
View to facilitate and insure the resignation of the delegate, when
the principal should- be competent to exercise or to resume his
authority. Referring them to the act of Queen Anne (the act
of succession), the regency act of George the Second, and the
regency act of the present King, Mr. Pitt added, let them look
to the case of a sovereign disabled by infancy. Was the-Regent
of the country invested with full and unlimited power to exercise
the royal authority? Undoubtedly not. In the three regency
bills in the statute books to which he adverted, were there not
limitations ? There were in every one: All the powers might be
given, but then they were not given to one person. What was the
principle in a case of minority ? It was thought unsafe to vest all
the. powers in.

one -person. He laid particular stress on the
regency bill in the reign of George the Second, and observed,
that there appeared at that time to have been a wish on both sides,
of the House to doubt what confidence should be placed in the
regent. They were afraid of making a precedent, and therefore
they gave the royal powers among many, appointing a council,
without whose consent the regent could take no important step
whatever. The will of the predecessor was, by one of the bills;
to be the system followed ;

while the heir 'apparent continued a
minor, a principle which he owned he thought went too far,



although it was a plausible principle, and NV as apparently most
applicable to the present case. After reasoning upon the three
different precedents, and touching upon the short protectorate of
iRichard the Third, and the other protectorates or guardianships
n the earlier periods of our history, and endeavouring to de-
monstrate by argument, that as, in no preceding instance, all
the powers of royalty were given to one person, so, in the present
instance, which certainly differed most essentially, they ought
not to be, nor could they be, trusted in the hands of one person,
without proving a hazardous, and, possibly, a prejudicial experi-
ment, he declared that he would give his vote for investing the
regent with all the powers which are necessary, but would not
agree to give any which were not requisite to carry on the go-
vernment of the country with energy and effect.

Mr. Pitt now observed, that he need not trouble the House
with his first resolution, as he had already stated its substance
and effect. The second resolution (which he read), was to re-
strain the Regent from exercising one branch of the prerogative
peculiarly inherent in the crown, and this was, the power of grant-
ing peerages, excepting to His Majesty's sons, being twenty-bne
years of age. This restriction he thought necessary, as the Regent
ought not to confer any grant which might produce difficulties
and embarrassments, when the happy hour of His Majesty's re-
storation to his health should arrive. The object of investing
the crown with the power of creating peers, was to enable the
sovereign to distribute rewards to eminent merit, and to give the
crown the means of choosing persons who should add to the
number of one of the branches of the legislature. The creation
of peers was one of those powers which belonged personally to
the King. When he made this assertion he scarcely meant to
inculcate that it was the individual right of the King to create
peers, but that it was an especial prerogative of the crown. He
enumerated the grounds on which he conceived that the crow*
might exercise the privilege of making peers, and described what
be regarded as the inconveniences which might follow from the
regent having the power to make peers, contending it was possi.


hie that the consequence of the House of Lords might be lost,
the system of the country overturned, and the government end in
a pure monarchy, an aristocracy, an oligarchy, or some resource
equally distant from our present constitution. He desired, if he
failed to enumerate any particulars connected with any part of
the subject, to have them pointed out to him. He reasoned
upon the sort of effect which (as he supposed) might arise from
depriving the Regent of the power of creating peers, merely for a
time, observing, that surely it would not be contended, that for
want of such an incentive for a few months, the country was
likely to be deprived of the service of men of merit. If His
Majesty recovered, as they all hoped, and had reason to expect
he would, the power of creating peers might be exercised by the
rightful holder.

of the prerogative ; but if unfortunately His
Majesty should grow worse, and be pronounced not likely to
recover for a long time, parliament would have it in its power to
take off the restriction, and vest the Regent with a power, which,
though not at present, he was ready to admit might in time
become necessary to the carrying on of a powerful government.
He mentioned the fluctuation of wealth and property in the
country, and the propriety of occasionally raising monied men to
the peerage, in order to give the landed interest its fair balance
and share .of the honours in the power of the crown to bestow.
He alluded also to the sort of hands into which the conduct of
public affairs was likely to fall, and said that, unless they had
reason to expect a desperate confederacy and cabal to obstruct
the public measures, he saw no sort of inconvenience which
could result from a temporary withholding from the Regent the
power of making peers. As an abuse of the prerogative of
making peers, he urged the possibility of such another con-
federacy and cabal forming (as had been convicted of a design
to overthrow the constitution a few years since), who might give
the Regent advice which the crown would probably have rejected,
and such a number of peers might be created, as might consider-
ably embarrass the crown in carrying on the government, when
His Majesty should be restored to his health. For his own part,

x 3



310 -MR. PITTS rJaN. 16<

he meant to make no professions, but he desired that what he
was going to say might be considered as the test of his future
conduct ; and, he declared, that he should not be found an
opposer of the just and wise measures of the new government,
which would remain to be discussed hereafter. He urged other
arguments in the attempt to prove that the withholding of the
power of making peers for a time was what they owed to the real
interests of the country and the true sovereign; that it could not
become prejudicial to the Regent's government ; and if it should
threaten to grow detrimental, they would have the remedy in
their own hands—a principle which was coupled with that of doing
nothing beyond the real necessity of the case. At the first view,
the principles which he had laid down might be supposed not to
confine themselves merely to one branch of the legislature, and
it could be contended, that, as the present House of Commons
had proved themselves so loyal to 'their Sovereign, and attentive
to the interests of his people, His Majesty would be happy to
receive the congratulations of the same House of Commons on his
recovery ; but a little more consideration would shew, that this
would perhaps be reserving from the people an opportunity of
shewing their sense of the conduct of their representatives ; and
no danger could accrue to the sovereign in sending them back to
their constituents, if the Regent should deem it wise or pro-
per to embrace the measure, especially to a people whose
loyalty had been so conspicuously manifested by the general and
heartfelt sorrow expressed throughout the kingdom in conse-
quence of His Majesty's melancholy situation and illness.

He now read the third resolution, which was a restriction
preventing the Regent from allowing any grant, patent place,
reversion, or annuity for life, excepting in particular, unavoid-
able cases, such as to judges, and others. As this resolution
ran so much upon the principle of the preceding one, Mr. Pitt
said that it was unnecessary for him to go into farther ex-
planation of it. The fourth resolution restrained the Regent
from exercising any power over the personal property of the
King. Mr. Pitt on this occasion observed, that he scarcely


thought it necessary to pass this resolution, as it was not proba-
ble that His Royal Highness would interfere with His Majesty's
personal property in his life-time ; but, as they were acting upon
parliamentary principles, he thought it his duty to submit it to
the committee. The last resolution would be for .incrusting the
care of the royal person, during His Majesty's illness, where of
course all men would be unanimous in agreeing that the royal
person ought to be placed, in the guardianship of the Queen ;
and, with this trust, his intention was, to propose to put the
whole of His Majesty's household under the authority of Her
Majesty, investing her with full powers to dismiss and appoint
as she should think proper. Without being invested with this
control, he imagined that the Queen could not discharge the im-
portant trust committed to her care. He spoke of the officers of
high rank in the household, who, though their places might justly
draw forth the ambition of men of the first rank and family in
the kingdom, were nevertheless only the first menial servants of
His Majesty, and actually necessary to direct and superintend
the greater part. of His Majesty's household. He stated that
these officers, such as the master of the horse, lord chamberlain,
lord steward, and others, were, by many, thought high officers of
state ; but the fact was otherwise ; they were the menial servants
of the crown, and essential to its dignity and splendour. 1-le
argued against new-modelling the royal household under the
present circumstances, and spoke of the anxiety -and pain which •
he conceived it must give His Majesty, to find all those whom he
had chosen to be about his royal person discharged. Possibly,
His Majesty's illness might continue but a few months, perhaps
a few weeks ; and, in such a situation, would it, he asked, be
delicate and respectful to make a change ? Those who were lords
of the bed-chamber, he admitted, did no great duty at


but the equerries were employed. He owned, that this part of
the arrangement was a matter of some difficulty ; but wheal-be
considered what His Majesty would feel, when he waked frOrkkhia
trance of reason, and asked for those attendants, and was told
that his snbjectS had taken advantage of his iiiiimen,>ary absence

312, MR. PITTS IVAN. 164

of mind, and changed them, he flattered himself that no gentle-
man would object to such a-mark of attention being paid to His
Majesty. The Regent, indeed, was different from the King; but,
at the same time, the Regent ought to have a retinue adequate to
the importance and the high rank of his station ; and he meant
to propose that he should have such a retinue, which would un-
questionably be some increase of expense to the country : but, as
it was unavoidably necessary to appoint a Regent, it was equally
necessary to maintain the dignity of the character, and gentle-
men would not, he conceived, grudge a little expense on such an
occasion. He recurred again to the power to be lodged in the
hands of the Queen, and urged the necessity of considering the
rank of the King, the rank of the Prince of Wales, and the rank
of the Queen, who was consort of the sovereign, and mother
of the Regent. It was not to be supposed, therefore, that the

' influence arising from the patronage holden by the Queen, would
operate to the detriment of the Regent's government; and, surely,
to conceive as much, would be equally indecent and improper.

Mr. Pitt concluded with moving, " That it is the opinion of
this committee, that, for the purpose of providing for the exercise
of the King's royal authority, during the continuance of His Ma-
jesty's illness, in such manner, and to such extent, as the present
circumstances of the urgent concerns of the nation appear to re-
quire, it is expedient that His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales,
being resident within the realm, shall be empowered to exercise
and administer the royal authority, according to the laws and
constitution of Great Britain, in the name and on the behalf of
His Majesty, under the style and title of Regent of the kingdom,
and to use, execute, and perform, in the name and on the behalf
of His Majesty, sall authorities, prerogatives, acts of government,
and administration of the same, which belong to the King of this
realm to use, execute, and perform, according to the law
thereof, subject to such limitations and exceptions as shall be

On the first resolution being read, Mr. Powys moved as an amendment,
to Ieave out all the words after the word " illness," and to insert, " And

preserving the constitution of Great Britain undisturbed, and the dignity
and lustre of the crown unimpaired, his Royal Highness the Prince of
Wales be appointed, during the present indisposition of His Majesty,
and no longer, in the name of the King, and in Isis stead, to exercise
and administer, according to the laws and constitution of Great Britain,
the regal power and government, under the style and title of Regent of
the Kingdom, and to use, execute, and perform, all prerogatives,
authorities, and acts of government which might have been lawfully
used, executed, and performed by the Regent and Council of Regency,
constituted and appointed by an act of the 5th of His present Majesty
cap. 27."

The committee divided on Mr.Powys' amendment, which was rejected;
Ayes 155
Noes 227

the original resolution then passed.
Another division took place on the

For it
Against it

All the other resolutions, except that
were then severally put and carried.

March 2. 1790.

Mr. Fox, in pursuance of the notice he had given, this day brought
forward ]Lis motion for the repeal of the Test and Corporation acts,— .
concluding a long and eloquent speech with moving, " That the House
will immediately resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House, to
consider of so much of former acts as'requires persons, before their ad-
mission into any office, civil or military, or any place of trust under the
Crown, to receive the sacrament of the Lord's supper, according to the
rites of the Church of England!'

MR. PITT, in rising, declared, that he was anxious to deliver
his sentiments at that early period of the debate, in reply to the
right honourable gentleman *, on the _present important question
under discussion. He had, he said, stated his objections, on
former occasions, to file motion ; he should still continue to pur-
sue the same line-of conduct, with this difference only, that he

but the more strengthened and confirmed in his former

Mr. Fox.

second resolution,

... 152
respecting the King's household,

opinions upon the subject, and should therefore now restate them
with greater force and confidence.

He considered both himself and the House under great obliga-
tion, however, to the right honourable gentleman, for his clear
and candid statement-of the precise object of the dissenters in
their present application ; he had completely unravelled the
mystery in which their views had been enveloped ; and, in a plain,
open, and manly manner, had exhibited the full extent to which
his motion was intended to be carried. Had it ever been possi-
ble for him to be at a loss on the subject, his doubts must now
forsake him. The important question at issue was simply and
plainly this : Whether the House ought or ought not to relinquish
at once those acts which had been adopted by the wisdom of our
ancestors to serve as a bulwark to the church, whose constitu-
tion was so intimately connected with that of the state, that the
safety of the one was always liable to be affected by any danger
which might threaten the other.? He, for one, was clearly con-
vinced that we ought not to relinquish those great and funda-
mental principles upon which the prosperity of the state so much

The right honourable gentleman's sentiments on the general
principles of dissension and toleration coincided with his own ;
yet, he must take leave to differ from him in his definition of
toleration, which he had carried to an extent which, in his opinion,
it would not bear. Toleration could, by no means, be considered
as an equality; for it only consisted in a free exercise of re-
ligious tenets, and in the enjoyment of the protection of the laws.
The dissenters had a right to enjoy their liberty and property ;
to entertain their own speculative opinions, and to educate their
offspring in such religious principles as they approve. But the
indispensable necessity of a certain permanent church establish-
ment, for the good of the state, required that toleration should
not be extended to an equality ; for that would inevitably endan-
ger such an establishment. Upon the supposition that every class
of dissenters, agreeably to the extent of the right honourable gen-
tleman's principles, were admitted to a full and complete equality

of participation, those would be admitted, who might conscien-
tiously think it their duty to subvert the establishment ; for
not only Roman catholics, but also papists who acknowledge
the supremacy of a foreign ecclesiastical prince, were not to
be excluded until the commission of some overt act against
the constitution. If this were once to be done, there would
be an end for ever put to the wise policy of prevention, and
a dangerous door would be opened to the absolute ruin of
the constitution. He was ready to admit, that no citizen of a
free state ought to be subject to any punishment for his spe-
culative opinions ; nor should even the publication of them,
with moderation and decency, fall under the cognisance of
the civil power : but he contended that the interest of indi-
viduals claiming pecuniary rewards, or lucrative employments,
was very different from this, and that the public safety required,
in his opinion, such a species of security for an establishment,'
as the test laws prescribed. Our very constitution had been
saved by virtue of their sanction : had it not been for such bul-
warks of defence, the family of Stuart might have been now
in possession of the throne, and the right honourable gentleman
had never had the opportunity of delivering those opinions in
that House which they had that day heard. Although all
cognisance of opinion might not be a warrantable ground for
crimination, until the commission of some overt ,

acts, yet he
should ever contend, that an inquiry and test of a man's opinion,
as the means of judging of his religious and constitutional
principles, was highly expedient.

It had been exposed as extremely absurd that a test of
religious tenets should be imposed upon persons about to oc-
cupy the meanest civil offices, while there was no inquiry
into the religious opinions even of the members of the legisla-
ture. The fact was otherwise. In the oath of abjuration; a
religious test was imposed on the constitutional tenets of the
legislative body. The oath against transubstantiation was purely
religious, and the oath of allegiance was a civil and political
test of loyalty and civil obedience. But to have no test of

I 0

316 MR. PITT'S [MAncil

any kind was contrary to the, genius and spirit of monarchy ;
much more, then, must the obligation of test laws he necessary
to a government like ours, where the monarchy is limited. The
executive power should be allowed undoubtedly the exercise of a
right of discrimination into the fitness of individuals to occupy
stations of trust, for which that branch of the government was
always responsible. The benefit of' the general community re-
quired the establishment of public offices ; and, as a distinction
in their distribution was highly conducive to the same important
service, the idea of right to civil offices, then, was highly absurd
and ridiculous : there could be no foundation for such extraor-
dinary claim, it were agreed that the offices in question
were created' more for the advantage of those who occupied
them, than as a trust for the benefit of the public ; and that their
salaries were to be defrayed upon the principle of a lottery,
rather than out of the public treasury. While our constitution,
however, had invested the executive power with the appoint-
ment of offices, the legislature had made - a wise application of a
limited monarchy, by restricting the supreme magistrate in the
disposal of these offices.

Suppose the case of a republic, the government of which was
the purest democracy, the officers of state elective out of the
general body, where the most perfect equality existed. Now,
imagine any form of religion, or superstitious ceremony, to be
entertained and professed by a small part of the people, whose
tendency might be to destroy the democratic equality, and, con-
sequently, the constitution itself : would not the majority, with a
view to the preservation of this constitution, be warranted in the
exclusion of such an obnoxious party from the right either of
electing, or being elected, to fill offices of trust in the state?
Most undoubtedly. It should then be recollected, that the
test laws under discussion Were enacted with a direct view to
the defence and preservation of our excellent constitution. They
were to be regarded as a species of jealousy of the monarch,
which had never been considered as unconstitutional. They had
a direct tendency to check the influence of the royal prerogative,

which was a circumstance never very unpopular in a free state ;
and he hesitated not to say, if any distrust were to be enter-
tained of either of' the three branches of the .constitution, it
ought to be of the executive power. The test laws, by abridg-
ing the prerogatives of the crown, in preventing the sovereign
from employing persons in offices of trust, who could not give a
certain pledge or security of their attachment to the govern-
ment, guarded against all danger or abuse from this branch of
the legislature. The persons excluded by..the test laws from
civil offices lay under no kind of stigma, in his opinion, more
than those who were necessarily kept out of that House, or from
voting at an election, in consequence of their disqualification by
statute from their elective rights. It was a common policy
which obtained in private life, for no man to admit another to
the management of his affairs, whose principles he did not ap-
prove ; the same policy should prevail in states. The exclusion
of the dissenters, therefore, from civil offices, from a disappro-
bation of their political sentiments, could be no usurpation in the

The merits or demerits of individuals ought, most undoubt-
edly, to have no weight or influence in the discussion of the
present question. Yet the conduct of the dissenters seemed to
him liable to just reprehension ; for when they were reprobat-
ing the test laws, they were loud in their complaints, and were
appealing to the legislature for redress of their grievances ; even
at that moment, they discovered intentions of forming associa-
tions throughout the whole country, for the sole purpose of
putting the members of that House to a test; of whose fitness
and competency to discharge their parliamentary, duty they were
to judge from their votes upon this single question. They had,
indeed, explained themselves, that it was far from being their
intention to put a test to any one; but even in their explanation
a testwas evidently implied. For in their resolutions, under the
signature of Mr. Jefferies, it was expressly declared, that the

senters meant to favour such members with their support, who
should prove themselves friends to civil and religious liberty,

318 MR. PITT'S • [MAnda2:

Their construction and application of such terms must be obvious
to every understanding. No man, in their estimation, would be
regarded as a friend to civil and religious liberty who did not
vote for the repeal of the test laws.

Although the right honourable gentleman had well expatiated
on the excellence of toleration, yet he was not certain that the
description of men, whose cause he had so ably pleaded, would
be eminently distinguished for their candour, moderation, and
tolerance, should they succeed in their application. He owned
he was not prepared to repose implicit confidence in .any fair pro-
raises they should make, from the suspicious circumstance of
their applying for a repeal of the test laws, when, at the same
time, they were threatening the legislature itself with a test.
No individual, therefore, as he had contended, could either
have a right to occupy, or be eligible to occupy, any official si-
tuation under a government like ours, especially if such an ap-
pointment, too, was likely to be attended with any political in-
convenience; for when such an inconvenience. ever exists, the
claim of right must be utterly unfounded. The claim of the dis-
senters, therefore, to be admitted to civil employments, 'upon the
ground of right, equally with the members of the establishment,
must of necessity fall to the ground. He had no idea of such le-
velling principles as those which warranted to all citizens.an equa-
lity of rights; as if the, Whole property, under the control of go-
vernment, were equally to be distributed among the public again.
The appointment to offices rested with government, which no
citizen could, claim:as a matter of right. The dissenters ought
not to consider themselves, by the operation of the test laws, as
debarred from any right to fill official situations under govern-
ment, nor ought their exclusion to be regarded as any stigma upon
them ; since the government, in concurrence with the majority;
are of opinion that none ought to be , admitted to civil employ-
ments, except members of the establishinent. To ascertain this
important circumstance, without exacting either promise or obli-
gation from any individual of the community, the test laws are


• Having now, he hoped, sufficiently argued the question on the
ground of right, he should proceed to discuss its merits onn , the
ground of policy and expedience. The reasons for the adoption
of the test laws, by the wisdom of our ancestors, had not, in his
opinion, ceased. Political expedience prohibited their abolition.
To elucidate this matter he would inquire : First, whether an
establishment was not necessary, and materially connected with
the state? Secondly, whether the dissenters are not likely to
exercise power, should they once have it in possession ? Thirdly,
would not the repeal of the test laws indulge them with that
power ? Fourthly, whether the dissenters labour under any prac-
tical inconveniences from the operation of the test laws ? Fifthly,
whether a repeal of them could take place consistently with the .
safety of the established church.

The necessity of an establishment was generally admitted, he
believed, in that House. The right honourable gentleman had
declared it highly useful and advantageous : an argument from
him, therefore, in support of this position, was. unnecessary. A
just panegyric had been pronounced from the same high au-
thority . upon our present church establishment. It was said to
be equally devoid of all unnecessary exterior ceremonies, as its
interior rites were of superstition and enthusiasm. An argument
to prove that the dissenters would exercise power when in pos-
session of it, was also, in his opinion, useless : since the posses-
sion of power, it was well known, was always attended with a
natural inclination to the exercise of it. Without intending to
throw any stigma upon the dissenters, who were undoubtedly a
respectable body, he did not hesitate, however, a moment in
supposing it extremely probable that they might exercise their
power to the subversion of the present establishment. Their con-
duct would not be reprehensible in acting from the principles they
profess ; for it became their duty as honest men, regarding as
they do the established church " sinful and bordering on idola-
try," to act a conscientious and consistent part, by exercising
every legal means in their power towards its subversion. To
grant the dissenters such power, from a repeal of the test laws,


as might endanger the establishment, was highly impolitic. Such
a national establishment of religion as ours was capable of ren-
dering essential services to the state : it was therefore entitled
to the vigilant protection and support of the state in return. A
national religion was calculated to meliorate the morals of the
people, especially when its form was congenial to the civil consti-
tution of the country.

He should not comment, he said, on the letters of the bishops,
nor on the sermons of dissenting ministers, as he perfectly agreed
in opinion with the right honourable gentleman, that matters of
state ought not to be blended with religious duty. Such dis-
cordant mixture had been always attended with , great mischief.
It was the duty of men of such character to confine themselves
to the purposes for which their employments had been institu-
ted—to cultivate peace and good order ; to instil into the minds
of the public a rational love of Christian morality ; to exhibit in
their practice exemplarity of conduct for piety and virtue ; to
have no other competition than that recommended by the gospel,
namely, who shall most contribute to promote the great ends of
religion and morality. From such a contention, the state must
derive the most important advantages; it were a warfare truly
worthy the sacred title of religion. If an ecclesiastical establish-
ment was necessary for the good of the state, as fact and expe-
rience had proved in many instances, both before and since the
revolution ; and as the power to be derived to the dissenters,
from a repeal of the test laws, might endanger the church, and
hazard . the safety of our civil constitution, policy demanded the
prevention of all possible danger to the state, from the prudent
interference of the legislature, in rejecting every application,
however respectable, that might lead to such serious inconveni-
ence. 'The essence of policy consisted in the general good
of the public : where the rights and interests of individuals,
therefore, came in competition with those of the public, policy
claimed precedence even of justice. Admitting the dissenters to
endure some small practical inconvenience from the test laws, yet,
if the general good and the public safety demanded such sun,.


fices, as he must contend they did, their appeal to the legislature
for redress, in the nature of justice, ought to be rejected.


But it had been contended, that no danger whatever could
possibly arise to the constitution, either in church or state, from
a simple repeal of the test laws, and that the dissenters would
rest satisfied, and would trouble the legislature for no farther
indulgence, provided their present application proved success-
ful. He would assure the dissenters, that he would neither deny
them any right that belonged to them, nor would he refuse them
any regulation which did not seem attended with any dangerous
consequences; but-as the object of their present application did,
in his opinion, warrant a sufficient ground for apprehension and
alarm, it was the duty of the House, as the faithful guardians of
the constitution, to, watch and repel the danger in due time.
The dissenters bad, the House would recollect, succeeded in their
application about fourteen years ago, and obtained what had been
considered as a completion of their toleration. It was then de-
clared, both in and out of that House, that the dissenters in-
tended to proceed no farther, if they only obtained the relief
they then solicited; and Dr. Kippis, a man of no inconsiderable
rank and esteem amongst them, in his letter upon the subject,
declared, that after obtaining the toleration in question, they
would ask no more of the legislature, but would retire, grateful
and content, to their books and closets, impressed with a
becoming sense of the great indulgence with which they had
been favoured.

He must differ from the right honourable gentleman in his
opinion, that if the test laws were once repealed, the dissenters
would be desirous of proceeding no farther. Niany gentlemen
among them, who stood foremost in the present application,
did, by their declarations, contradict such an opinion ; they had
openly avowed their disaffection to the constitution of the church;
and although they had declared they were perfectly satisfied with
the indulgence granted them by the legislature, and should apply
no more, yet they had violated their promise by the present ap-
plication ; and from their professions, there was no judging with



what they would be satisfied. If the 'House should, in compli-
ance. with their wishes, consent to the repeal of the test laws,
who could tell but their next application might be for an exemp-
tion from church dues ? to which every argument advanced in
support of the present question would equally apply. Now, an
established religion had been admitted as necessary, useful, and
advantageous to the civil government of a state ; such an esta-
blishment ought, therefore, to be protected and supported by the
government; and its expense should fall equally on all the mem-
bers of the general community, in a certain proportion. A re-
peal, therefore, of the test laws could not, in his opinion, take
place, consistently with the safety of the church, the security for
the safety of which bad not commenced at the revolution, as the
right honourable gentleman had stated, but had been in exist-
ence long anterior to that date ; and had there not existed such
bulwarks of defence, previous to the revolution, that memorable
event itself had never taken place. The continuation of the test
laws was, then, highly expedient.

A reference had been made to the repeal of the test laws in
Ireland, and no danger had ensued to the constitution. The
situation of the Irish and English churches, he observed, were
very materially different ; the former found a security in the
superior numbers of the catholics over the dissenters, which bore
a proportion of six to one, and therefore needed not the same
protection as the English church from the sanction of test laws:
the repeal, too, having only recently taken place, we could not
judge by experience of the consequences of its operation. The
repeal of the test laws in Ireland was not, therefore, an instance
in point, to warrant the adoption of such a measure in this coun-
try. The reference also to the kirk of Scotland having no test
was equally inapplicable ; as a test there would prove a very fee-
ble barrier, since the majority of dissenters from the kirk con-
formed to the mode prescribed by law for the administration of
the sacrament, and since the establishment of the presbytery had
been sufficiently secured by a solemn pledge in the act of union.
The allusion made to the French church, antecedent to the revo-



cation of the edict of Nantz, having no test laws for its protec-
tion, was also foreign to the present question. Had there pre-
vailed less bigotry in those times, the church would have been
secure, since the sovereign will of the monarchwas the only law
of the country. The right honourable gentleman's argument
that no test laws existed in America, was as inapplicable as the
other references and examples he had adduced in elucidation of
his point. The American constitution resembled ours neither in
church nor state ; he most sincerely wished it had, in affording
equal security for liberty and happiness to the subject. But in
America there was no uniform established religion; no test laws
were therefore necessary for the protection of such an establish-
ment. Although the opinions of men were much divided at one
time on the subject of the American dispute, while one party
was contending that the revolting colonies ought to be coerced
to obedience, and another was as strenuously insisting that they
ought to be for ever abandoned, and the world in general was
willing to believe that England could not exist independent of
her colonies : yet the event, however, had happily proved the
reverse of these different opinions; for, in the loss of the territo-
rial government of the thirteen American colonies, Great Britain
had sustained but a very inconsiderable diminution in her com-
merce ; while she had to boast her deliverance and exemption
from that load of expense which attended the support of the
civil establishment of the states.

The test laws had been declared inefficacious and nugatory, as
the legislature had been obliged every session to pass an act of
indemnity. If the fact was so, the ground of all complaint of
oppression 'must cease ; for, from the right honourable

man's own argument, it was obvious that the laws were not en-
forced. Although the temperate forbearance of the government
from the non-execution of the laws was truly laudable, when
the danger was neither imminent nor alarming to the church,
whose security and permanent safety was their object, yet to
repeal the laws in question, because their execution was not al-
ways necessary, would be impolitic in the extreme; as the legis-2

324 MR. PITT S [DEc. 21.

lature, in thus suffering the remedy to such danger to depart from
their hands, might not very easily be able to recover such salu-
tary influence, as might stem the torrent of danger in the hour
of pressing emergency. So far was he from agreeing with the
right honourable gentleman, that no danger whatever was to be
apprehended, that he could easily conceive a man, with all the
abilities of the right honourable gentleman, but without the in-
tegrity of his principle, who, influenced by ambition and corrupt
views, might exercise his powerful talents in rousing the disaf-
fected to an attack upon the church. Would there not, in that
case, be real danger ? Most certainly. To guard against danger
to the constitution, however distant, was the indispensable duty
of every member of that House, but of none more than of a
person in the situation he had the honour to hold, with whom
the safety of hi country ought ever to be his principal object.
He must, therefore, give his decided negative to the motion,

The motion was negatived;
Ayes Jos
Noes. 294

December 22. 1790.
THE order of the day having been read, for the House to resolve itself

into a committee of the whole House to consider the state of the im-
peachment of Warren Hastings,'Esq., Sir Peter Burrell took the chair of
the committee : when Mr. Burke moved, " That it appears that an im-
peachment by this House, in the name of the Commons of Great
Britain in parliament assembled, and of all the Commons of Great
Britain, against Warren Hastings, Esq. late governor-general of Bengal,
for sundry high crimes and misdemeanours, is now depending."

Mr. Erskine opposed the motion, and, in order that a committee might
be appointed to search for precedents, he moved, " that Sir Peter
Burrell leave the chair :" upon which a debate ensued of very consider-
able length.*

*The parliament had this year been dissolved : and the question to be
decided by this debate (which lasted by adjournments for three days) •
was, whether an impeachment brought by the Commons of Great Britain


Mr. PITT, in rising, requested the attention of the committee
5n that early stage of the discussion, while he submitted to their
consideration his solemn and deliberate opinion upon the ques-
tion at issue, the decision of which involved in it considerations
of the first magnitude ; the rights and privileges of parliament
were concerned, which must remain ever inviolably sacred, or
our valuable and excellent constitution was subverted and
destroyed. Notwithstanding such display of ability, learning,
and eloquence, on the part of the honourable gentleman op-
posite to him*, his arguments, however ingeniously and forcibly
urged, did not impress his mind with that conviction which ef-
fected any change in his sentiments upon the point in question.
Precedents had been consulted, with the laborious industry, no
doubt, of many months' investigation, by several honourable and
learned gentlemen ; but those adduced, upon the present occa-
sion, in favour of impeachments abating upon a dissolution of
parliament, were in number so few, and of such questionable
authority in his opinion, as clearly to evince the imbecillity of

• the cause, without the most distant reflection upon the abilities
of the learned advocates who supported it. After the most dili-
gent and accurate investigation in his power, of the subject under
discussion, after deliberating for a length of time upon almost
every possible ground on which it might be argued, he was come
prepared to deliver his sentiments, how far impeachments were
affected by a dissolution of parliament.

The first point, he said, which claimed the attention of the
House in discussing the subject under their consideration, was to
ascertain if any evidence existed of an uniform established prac-
tice observed by both Houses in their conduct of impeachments,
which was to be considered as the law of parliament in such
cases. If there were precedents which clearly established the
point, that, from the usage of parliament, impeachments did abate

in .parliament assembled, in their own name, and in the name of their
constituents, did not remain in state quo, notwithstanding the intervention
of a dissolution?

Mr. Erskine.
Y 3

826 MR. PITT'S [DEc. 22.

by a dissolution, he would bow in silence to the authority, but
would lose no time in providing a remedy against a practice
whose tendency was hostile to the privileges of the house, and
destructive of the liberties of the country. The authority of
such precedents no one would say ought to be relied upon in
preference to that of the fundamental principles of the consti-
tution. But he was happy to find that there existed no evidence
of such an uniform rule of parliamentary practice. From a dis-
passionate review of the different precedents, he was prepared to
assert with confidence, and the sequel, he trusted, would abun-
dantly justify the assertion, that impeachments did continue iu
statu quo from parliament to parliament, notwithstanding the
precedents so much insisted upon by the honourable and learned
gentleman in support of an abatement of such proceedings by a
dissolution. That impeachments did not abate by a dissolution-
of parliament, was a principle sufficiently recognised and well
established by many precedents in our history from the early
times of antiquity. Cases perfectly in point. might be adduced
from the reigns of Richard the Second and others ; but he
should only insist upon the case of the Duke of Suffolk in the
reign of Henry the Sixth, which indisputably proved that im-
peachments continued from one parliament to another. In his
investigation of precedents, however, he did not mean to confine
himself to the more doubtful decisions of antiquity, but should
advance to more modern times, and advert to instances better
ascertained and more applicable to his purpose. By the reso-
lution of the Lords in the year 1673, writs of error and petitions
of appeal were made to continue from parliament to parliament;
but it was contended, since no mention is made of impeach-
ments in this resolution, that a dissolution of parliament ope-
rates an abatement of such proceedings. Now the very opposite
conclusion was deducible from the report of the committee, which
expressly stated that "writs of error, petitions of appeal; and other
business of a judicial nature," ought not to be narrowed in their
discussion, but to extend from parliament to parliament. Im-
peachments, therefore, as judicial proceedings, do not necessarily-

abate by a dissolution. But in the order of 1678, impeachments
are expressly mentioned, in common with writs of error and pe-
titions of appeal, to continue from one parliament to another.

To this precedent, however clear and decisive, objections are
taken to invalidate its authority. First, it was affirmed to have
been a very precipitate proceeding. But how can this objection.
apply ? Did it refer to any new matter not included in the
former resolution of 1673 ? Clearly not. This order was only
a deduction from the principles already laid down in the former
decision ; it could not then be a precipitate measure. But the
critical juncture of affairs, during the ferment of party violence
and of civil contention, might probably, it was said, contribute
Materially to that resolution which authorised the continuance
of impeachments. This objection, too, must vanish the moment
the circumstances of the times when the decision in question
took place, are contrasted with those of the subsequent period
when it was rescinded. In 1678, the proceedings of the Lords
were not influenced by any particular reference to some matter
then depending ; it was a general order, that writs of error, pe-
titions of appeal, and impeachments, should survive a dissolution
of parliament. Nor was this measure the production of any
party violence or animosity ; it was an unanimous decision
founded upon the resolution of 1673, to serve as a standing pre,
cedent for the conduct of future impeachments. But what was
the case of the reversal of this decision in 1685)

so much depend-
ed upon as a precedent in favour of the.abatement of impeach-
ments by a dissolution ? Was it not at the sera when James the
Second, a bigotted and popish prince, had ascended the throne
of these realms ; when the parliament was obsequiously devotee
to the will of the monarch ; when the sacrifice of principle was .
required to be made to practical abuse by the prejudices of the
times ; when certain popish lords were about to be solemnly
peached who were the supposed favourites of the king?


such circumstances, what was the conduct of parliament ? They
very probably thought that compliance was better than resist-
ance at suet-1 .a period ; and therefore they determined, probably


828 MR. PITT'S [Dm 22-

with the best intentions, to rid themselves of the impeachments
in contemplation, by rescinding the order of 1678. The pro-
fessed object of this reversal, then, was to screen the nobleman
in question from the impending danger of impeachment. He
then would ask, against which of the decisions the objection taken
from the circumstances of the times applied most forcibly ; whe-
ther to the order of 1678, or to its reversal in 1685 ? Unques-
tionably the latter. The honourable and learned gentleman had
therefore ably and successfully argued against himself; since by
this objection he had clearly proved the one decision a good pre-
cedent, but its reversal a bad one. So much for the precedent
of 1685.

The next objection to the order of 1678 was taken from the
case of Lord Stafford. But how could this instance invalidate
the authority of the precedent in question? Because it afforded
the learned gentleman an opportunity of appealing to the pas-
sions, that, from his eloquent and pathetic description of the trial,
conviction, and execution of this unfortunate nobleman, the coin-
mittee_ might infer the injustice of the principle of continuing im-
peachments. But was that a legitimate and conclusive argu-
ment? Would not such reasoning prove adverse to the cause
he attempted to establish ? For, admitting the parliament, in
this instance, to have acted improperly by continuing an impeach-
ment, might not another parliament be equally culpable in dis-
pensing with the continuance of such a proceeding? Suppose a
delinquent impeached, and the charges of crimination alleged
against him gone through, a dissolution of parliament takes
place ; would it not prove the .extremity of injustice to stay
the proceedings in such a House, by which the defendant would
be precluded from entering upon his defence, and judgment of
crimination or acquittal could not pass without a renewal of the
proceedings de novo? His innocence or guilt must remain a sub-
ject of much doubt and suspicion. Would it not therefore be
infinitely more expedient and proper for the honour and repu-
tation of both parties, that such proceedings, conducted by one
parliament, should be resumed in stag quo by another ? Upon


such a liberal principle the accuser would have every fair oppor.,
tunity of making good his charges; and the accused would have
equal liberty to establish his defence. Nothing short of this pro-
cedure could deserve the name of public justice. What ! because
the fate of one nobleman, from the continuance of impeachment,
was supposed bard and oppressive, did it therefore follow that
the exercise of such a privilege of the Commons in every instance
would be attended with the same obnoxious consequences ? If
the abuse of an institution was a valid argument of its inutility,
the objection might apply ; otherwise the honourable and learned
gentleman's pathetic expostulation would go for nothing ; for
in deciding upon the merit of a dry precedent, our passions ought
not to interfere with our judicial deliberations. The validity of
the order of 1678 stood therefore unimpeached ; a precedent
which neither eloquence nor sophistry can possibly invalidate.

The case of Lord Salisbury and Peterborough, adduced as a
:precedent in favour of an abatement of impeachments by a dis-
solution, is equally unfortunate ; for there does not appear from
the proceedings, any reference whatever, either to the order of
1685, or to any former decision upon the subject. The impeach-
merit in question abated, not by virtue of any usage of parliament,
but by the operation of an act of general pardon. The impeach-
ment of Sir Adam Blair and others did not apply ; since no at-
tempts were made to renew the prosecution, and they had been
held to bail subsequent to a dissolution. Now, if the proceed-
ings had abated in consequence of that event, the parties could
not have been held to bail afterwards; the impeachment having
determined, they must have been dismissed.— But as the pro-
ceedings were pending, unaffected by any dissolution; the parties
were bound in a recognisance. The only just inference, there-
fore, from this case, clearly was, that impeachments did not
abate in the manner it had been contended, by a dissolution of
parliament. The same conclusion was evidently deducible from
the impeachment of Lord Danby ; for there cannot remain any
doubt as to the sentiments then entertained by parliament ; since

was clearly dismissed upon this principle, because the Corn-

330 MR.. PITT'S [Dt.c. 22.
mons had declined the prosecution. Now three dissolutions of
parliament had obtained before he was discharged. It was evi-
dent if a dissolution operated an abatement of impeachments,
Lord Danby must have been dismissed upon the first dissolution;
nay, he would have been, upon that principle, discharged of
course. But the case was quite otherwise . ; for parliament was
repeatedly dissolved, and Lord Denby was as often detained,
until at length, the Commons declining to prosecute, he was dis-
charged ; so that the impeachment in question abated by the
act of the Commons, and not by the operation of a dissolution.
In the cases of Lords Somers, Halifax, Portland, and the Duke of
Leeds, impeachment abated in the same manner ; the Commons
not prosecuting, the parties were severally discharged. Now,
on which side of the question did the weight of evidence from.
precedents preponderate ? Did not the scale fairly incline in
favour of the continuance of impeachments from parliament to
parliament? The right of the Commons to prosecute an impeach-
ment, until judgment was obtained, in his opinion, was clear,
unequivocal, and indisputable, from the authority of such a body
of precedents.

After investigating the evidence to be collected from prece-
dents, the practice of parliament, during the last three years,
was the next object of inquiry in the present discussion. Par-
liament exercised two powers, — legislative and judicial, which
had their separate and distinct limits and duration. The con-
fusion of these powers was the principal source of all the doubts
upon the present question. Lawyers had differed as much in
their opinions respecting writs of error, and petitions of appeal,
as upon impeachments; from such collision of opposite sentiments,
much satisfaction could not be expected. A reference should,
therefore, be made to the clear and established principle of the
constitution, in order to remove every cloud of doubt or cliffi-
culty. Every act of legislation, it was well known, was termi-
nated by prorogation, as well as by dissolution : but no judicial
act was influenced by either. Impeachment, therefore, being
a judicial proceeding, could not be affected by prorogation or


dissolution. In the case of writs of error, and of petitions•of
appeal, the process continued from session to session, and from
parliament to parliament :. much more necessary was it that the
proceedings in an impeachment should also continue ; for in the
one case, there was only one individual against another, but in
the other, the House of Commons, and all the Commons of Great
Britain, were parties against a state-delinquent. The impeach-
ment in question was not the act of the late parliament, but of
the whole Commons of the realm ; the proceeding being in the
name both of constituents and representatives. It had been
asked, if the House of Commons, in this instance, were the attor-
neys of the people ? In one sense they were considered as agents,
consulting their own judgment and discretion, in the protection
of the interests of their constituents. But they were not the
attorneys of the people, as agents delegated with power to act
merely by the instructions of their constituents. Such an accep-
tation of the term should have his heartiest abhorrence and
reprobation. An impeachment had been commenced by the
Commons in the persons of their late representatives ; such a
proceeding ought not to be discontinued without due inquiry and
deliberation; for the House stood in a similar situation with the
successor of the King's attorney-general, in the present instance,
who was always required to proceed with all the trials already
commenced on the part of the King. But in law, it was said,
there was no such body as the Commons of England recognised:
but would any one draw such an absurd inference from an acci-
dental omission, that such a body had no real existence, which
was to be regarded as the principal object of legislation in every
civilised country ? Our ancestors had, in their accustomed
wisdom, sufficiently, in his opinion, guarded against such a sup-
posed solecism in politics ; by ordering all supplies to be granted
in the name of the Commons, as well as all impeachments to be
laid in their name; when once a proceeding, therefore, assumed
a judicial form, its existence no longer depended upon the per-
sons who were immediately concerned in its institution. The
House of Commons was only the legal organ of instituting im-

552 MR. Pars r DEC. 22.
peachments, as the attorney-general was of filing an information
ex officio, or an indictment in the name of the King. The public
prosecutors in the one case were the Commons of the realm, and
the King was the prosecutor in the other. From the considera-
tion of the capacity in which the House, as a judicial and not a
legislative body, acted in the conduct of impeachments, it there-
fore followed, that their proceedings, by the constitution, could
not abate or be affected either by a prorogation or a dissolution
of parliament.

His next ground of evidence in the discussion of the ques-
tion, to which he requested the attention of the committee,
should be taken from the decisions of the courts of justice,
and the authority of eminent lawyers. The authority of the
great and venerable Lord Hale was to be distrusted in the present
instance, since writs of error, petitions of appeal and impeach-
ments, were considered by him as legislative, and not judicial
proceedings. Now, all the legislative proceedings unquestion-
ably abated by prorogation as well as dissolution : but im-
peachments, writs of error, and petitions of appeal are judicial
proceedings which continue from session to session, and from
parliament to parliament. The error of Lord Hale proceeded
from his confounding the legislative with the judicial power in
parliamentary proceedings. This mistatement appeared from
a passage which he here read to the committee, in which writs
of error, petitions of appeal, and impeachments, were said to
abate, as well by prorogation as dissolution. Lord Holt enter-
tained a different opinion upon the subject, since he had argued
from the case of Lord Stafford, as a weighty and irrefragable
precedent in favour of the continuances of impeachments and
other judicial proceedings, from one parliament to another.
Lord Chief Baron Commyns, an authority of the highest re-
spectability in the courts of justice, was also decided in his
opinion upon the subject ; for, from a passage which he read
out of his Digest, it appeared not only that impeachments con-
tinued, but that they should be resumed and prosecuted, until
judgment was obtained, notwithstanding any contingent inter..-


ruptions from either prorogation or dissolution. The authority
of the legislature too, in the preamble to an act of the 13th of'
the King, by implication, was also favourable to the point he
endeavoured to establish; besides, many cases from Carthew's
Reports, and other authorities, might be adduced, which abun-
dantly proved it had been long held that impeachments were
not affected by the operation of a dissolution. If such pro-
ceedings had abated, in consequence of such an event, it was
evident that the course of public justice would be greatly inter-
rupted. But there was neither precedent nor law which autho-
rised such a deduction ; and the continuance of impeachments
was frequently rendered indispensably necessary, in order to
produce a salutary operation, and to guard against their abuse.
If impeachments were allowed to be a branch of the judicial
power, they must necessarily have the same operation with the
other acts of that power. Writs of error, petitions of' appeal,
as judicial acts, survived prorogation and dissolution ; so also
ought impeachments. To admit the continuance of the former,
and to insist upon the abatement of the latter, by the operation
of a dissolution, were the grossest absurdity : since, as judicial
Foteedings, they were branches of the same power, and their
connection depended upon a permanent union of principle.
Those who insisted upon the abatement of impeachments, were
consistent, if they also insisted upon the abatements of writs
of error and petitions of appeal ; but when once the con-
tinuance of the latter was allowed, and. the abatement of the
former contended for, in consequence of a dissolution, then it
was evident that impeachments were made, in one instance, a
branch of the judicial power, and in another, an act of the
legislative, to serve some particular porpose. Now such con-
fusion of the two parliamentary powers he had noticed, should
be studiously avoided, lest their proceedings were impeded by
endless doubts and difficulties, and might terminate in a great
oppression and injustice to individuals, and eventually tend to
subvert our excellent constitution. The power of impeach-
ments is a privilege of the first consequence to the liberties of

Mit. Pin" S [DEC. 22.

the country ; it operated as a salutary cheek upon those in
administration, and effectually guarded against every undue in-
fluence of the crown, in the protection of state-delinquency.
Ought the event of an impeachment, then, to depend upon the
operation of a dissolution ? No. If the exercise of this power
were once to be influenced by such an event, there would be an
end put to official responsibility ; the most flagrant acts of cor-
ruption, oppression, and injustice, would pass with impunity.;
fur the party impeached might procure, .by his own interest,
or the influence of his friends, a dissolution of parliament, in
order to escape the punishment his offences might justly deserve.
Voluntary exilement were, indeed, too heavy a punishment for
injured innocence to endure, to avoid an unjust impeachment:
but for the guilty delinquent to enjoy such an indulgence, would
be no punishment, but rather a reward, for his villany. The
abatement of impeachments, therefore, by a dissolution of par-
liament, would throw an insurmountable obstacle in the way of
public justice, and would deprive the House of a power the most
formidable to a corrupt administration, whose exercise served as
a shield and bulwark for the constitution.

As to the honourable and learned gentleman's objection, that
no man can be a judge, de jars, in a court, without a competent
knowledge of the whole proceedings ; this was true in an inferior
court of judicature, but was not applicable to the House of

'Lords : for this supreme court of judicature was liable perpetually
to change its members in consequence of death, which naturally
produced others- as their successors. Supposing the new mem-

bers were ignorant of the proceedings already had of the im-
peachment depending, what inconvenience could arise from
that circumstance, .when copies of the whole evidence were
printed ? They need only refer for the requisite information to the
journals. They had a right to judge from the minutes, upon the
fidelity and accuracy of which they might always depend,. since
they were distributed not only among those peers who were pre-
sent at the taking of the evidence, but among those who were
absent, for their information. An impeachment was an extraor-

Binary case, which did not admit of being conducted upon the
same rules with an inferior court of judicature. In the one
case, judgment was formed upon printed evidence ; but in the
other, viva voce evidence was certainly requisite. Were the rules
of the court of King's Bench to obtain in the. House of Lords, the
question would be wholly at an end, and the right of impeach-
ment at once annihilated ; since it were better to file


indictment in the one than prefer an impeachment in the
other. But the

• foundation of impeachments was, to bring
delinquents to justice, who would have escaped if tried ac-
cording to the ordinary rules of the courts of judicature. The
practice of the House of Lords was incompatible with that of the


other courts, in regard to viva voce evidence and decision, with-
out separating. Notes were in constant practice, and written
evidence consulted, without which it were impossible, in cases of
impeachment, to reduce under one view 'the whole body of the
evidence ; for there were few instances in which impeachments
did not occupy some days ; written evidence were then as indis-
pensable in a trial of ten days as of three years. But it was said,
that in a long impeachment, in consequence of the constant
change of the membe-s in the House of Lords, some who had
been accusers, became judges. In reply, he observed, that there
was no period of prorogation to which the same objection would
not apply. The members who were so circumstanced, certainly
could not be deprived of their judicial powers; at the same time,
the exercise and application of those powers remained at the sole
disposal of their own feelings and consciences. It was an una-
voidable circumstance incidental to the nature of such a proceed-
ing as an impeachment, from which no danger of injustice could
be apprehended, with any shadow of reason.

He should, he said, wave for the present, every consideration
of the inquiry how far the House of Commons were disabled from
proceeding in the impeachment depending, as it remained a sub-
ject for future investigation. When: it was once established that
the right of impeachment did not abate by dissolution, the dis-
cretion of the House would next determine whether it were


MR. PITT'S [Due. 22-

expedient to prosecute the impeachment in question any farther ;
or whatever line of conduct to pursue in regard to such a pro-
ceeding. Of this he was very sure, that no fair objection could
he urged, from any defect of information.- The court in which,
the trial had been conducted, was accessible to all ; all the re-
ports and papers respecting the evidence, were open to general
inspection ; so that it was entirely at the option not only of every
member of the House of Commons, but also of every British
subject, to remain - in ignorance of any part of the proceedings.
Ile wished it to be understood by all, as an established and in-
controvertible principle, that impeachments continued in stain
quo. A contrary mode of proceeding would be attended with
consequences destructive of the privileges of the House, as well
as injurious and prejudicial to the cause of the party accused.
If an offence, for instance, were committed, the conviction of,.
which required a proceeding by impeachment, upon the eve of a
dissolution of parliament, the prosecution might be postponed
until the meeting of a new parliament, in order to avoid a repe-
tition of the proceedings ; the consequence naturally to be ap-
prehended was, the escape of the delinquent. If, on the other
hand, an impeachment had been carried on for such a consider-
able length of time, as to exceed a dissolution of parliament, the
repetition of the proceedings in that case might materially im-
pede the progress of other public business. The death of a
witness, in the meantime, might very considerably, too, affect the
state of the evidence ; and an impeachment, by this mode of
proceeding, might be converted into an engine of oppression and
injustice. Suppose the party impeached to have made some
progress in his defence, his accusers might possess sufficient
influence to procure a sudden dissolution of parliament ; the
consequence might be, a fresh accusation against him, fabricated
out of his own defence. By such a nefarious proceeding, an
individual might continue to be the object of a public prosecution
all his life-time, without the possibility of the means of being
pronounced either innocent or guilty. Thus, an impeachment
must continue in static quo after a dissolution, or the privileges


parliament must suffer violence, and the cause of the accused
sustain irreparable injury, and intolerable oppression. He was
clearly decided in his opinion, therefore, from the weight of pre-
cedents, from the principles of the constitution, from the
authority a the greatest luminaries of the law, from the im-
mutable principles of justice, from the expediency of public
trials, and from every argument of plain common sense, that im-
peachments not only continued unaffected by a dissolution of
parliament, but existed in static quo, notwithstanding the operation
of such an event ; he therefore would vote, with cheerful con-
fidence, for the original motion of the right honourable gentle-
man, that the impeachment of Warren Hastings, Esq. was now

On a division there appeared,.
For the Speaker's leaving the chair

Against it

The on minal motion 'vas then carried.

February 17. 1792.

The House having resolved itselfinto a committee of the whole House,
(of which the Earl of Mornington was chairman,) to consider of so much
of His Majesty's speech on the opening of the session, as related to the
Public Revenue and Expenditure; the following paragraphs from the
speech were read :-

" It will, I am persuaded, give you great satisfaction to learn that the
extraordinary expenses incurred in the course of the last year have; in a
great measure, been already defrayed by the grants of the session. The
state of our resources will, I trust, be found more than sufficient to provide
for the remaining part of these expenses, as well as for the current service.
of the year, the estimates for which I have directed to be laid before you.

" I entertain the pleasing hope, that the reductions Which may be found
practicable in the establishments, and the continued increase in the revenue,
will enable you, after:making due provision for the several branches of
the public service, to enter upon a system of gradually relieving my sub-
jects from some part of the existing taxes; at the same time giving addi-

VOL. 1.

538 NIR. PITT'S [FEn. 17.

tional efficacy to the plan for reduction of the national debt, on the
success of which our future case and security essentially depend.

With a view to this important object, let me also recommend it to
you to turn your attention to the consideration of such measures as the
state of the funds and of public credit may render practicable and expe-
dient, towards a reduction in the rate of interest of any of the annuities
which are now redeemable."

Mr. Pitt then rose, and addressed the committee as follows : —

Lord Mornington — The paragraph in His Majesty's speech
which has been referred to this committee, has already announced
to us, and to the public, the most welcome intelligence which it
was possible for us to receive; it has raised the pleasing expecta-
tion, that, after all the difficulties with which we have struggled,
the period is at length arrived, when, by the flourishing state of
our finances, we may be enabled to enter on a system which
will afford immediate and substantial relief to a large propor.
tion of our constituents, and at the same time give additional
security and effect to that important; and, I trust, inviolable
system which has been adopted for the reduction of the national

In proceeding to detail the measures which I shall propose with
a view to these important objects, I shall consider it as my first
and most indispensable duty to state, as distinctly as possible,
every circumstance which can be necessary for enabling all who
hear me, not only to form a satisfactory judgment on the general
result of our situation, but to examine the various calculations
and reasonings on which that result is founded; and in attempting
to exceute,so extensive a task, it is no small relief to my mind to
reflect; that the repeated discussions which have taken place on
questions of finance, have rendered them, in a great degree, fa-
miliar to the House and to the public ; and that, by the Mea-
sures which have been adopted for simplifying the nature and
form of the public accounts, they are at length freed from that
obscurity and intricacy in which they were formerly involved, and
arc rendered so clear and intelligible, that there is no man who


may not, with a small degree of attention, become as fully master
of the subject, as those whose official duty has led them to make
it their peculiar study.

The first point to which I wish to call the attention of the
committee, is the amount of what may be considered as the
probable future income of the country ; and I will begin by ra-
capitulating the result of the accounts for different years, which
have been already stated. The produce of the permanent taxes
in the last year, from the 5th of January 1791, to the 5th of
January 1792, appears to have been 14,132,0001. ; which, with
the addition of 2,558,0001. (being the average amount of the
annual duties on land and malt, as stated by the select com-
mittee last year,) would snake the total revenue of the year
16,690,0001. To this there must be added a sum, which, in the
accounts on the table, has been included in the produce of the
separate and temporary taxes imposed last year, for the purpose
of defraying the expense of the Spanish armament, but. which,
in fact, makes part of the general and permanent revenue. It
will be recollected that an addition was made last year to the
duties on bills and receipts, and the addition was consolidated
with the old duty. The whole of this consolidated duty has
been carried to the account of the separate fund; but only the
excess beyond the former produce can be considered as arising
from the additional duty ; and a sum equal to the former pro-
duce, being about 40,0001., is to be added to the other sums
which I have stated, making the total revenue for the last year

The produce of the year preceding was 16,437,0001. after
deducting the produce of a fifty-third week, which was included
in the account of that year.

The principal branches of the revenue being paid from the
respective offices into the exchequer, by weekly payments, on a
stated day, a fifty-third weekly payment in the course of a year
recurs nearly in the proportion. of once in every period of six
years. In judging therefore of the probable future amount of
the revenue, the produce of the fifty-third week ought not to he


840 MR. PITT'S [FEB. 17.
included in any one particular year, and it is therefore here
deducted ; but, on the other hand, one-sixth part of its amount,
being about 52,0001., ought to be added to the average formed
on any number of years. The average formed on the two last
years, without this addition, would be 16,585,0001., and with it

The produce of the year ending on the 5th of January 1790,
was 15,991,0001., and the average of the last three years
(making the same allowance for the fifty-third week) amounts
to 16,4:18,0001.

If we look back still one year farther, the produce of the
year ending the 5th of January, 1789, was 15,565,0001., and
the average formed on the last four years, amounts to

It appears therefore that the actual produce of the year 1791,
being 16,750,0001., exceeds by above 500,0001. the average
formed on the last four years ;— that it exceeds the average
formed on the last two years by above 100,0001.; — the average
on the last three years by nearly 500,0001., and the actual pro-
duce of the last year but one, by nearly the same sum.

If then I form my calculation of our future revenue, not on
the separate amount of any one of these particular years, but
upon the average amount of four years, during which there has
been a constant increase, 1 am certainly not attempting to lead
you into too favourable an opinion ; but I am rather wishing to
recommend that degree of caution, which the importance of
the subject always deserves, and particularly at the present mo-
ment, when we arc holding out hopes of relief, in which, above
all things, we should be careful to avoid the chance of disap-
pointment. I propose therefore to rest my computation upon
this average produce of four years, being 16,212,0001., and this
sum, on a general view of the subject, we may safely assume, as
not being likely to exceed the permanent annual revenue of the

I shall next desire the committee to compare the statement of
the annual revenue, with that of the permanent annual expendi-

'lure ; and I shall take as the basis of this comparison, the esti-
mates contained in the report of' the committee appointed in the
last session to examine the public income and expenditure, only
making such corrections as arise from certain additions on the one
hand and reductions on the other, which at that time were not
foreseen. The whole permanent expenditure as stated by the
committee (including therein the interest of the national debt,
the million annually issued for the reduction of debt, the civil
list, and all the permanent charges on the consolidated fund, as
well as all the establishments which are annually voted) is
15;969,0001. ; to which there was added in the course of the last
session (but subsequent to the report of the committee) the sum
of' 12,0001. charged on the consolidated fund, for the establish-
ment of His Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence ; and a fur-
ther sum of about 12,0001. for defraying the expense of the
separate government of the province of Upper Canada. Besides
this, sonie further provisions will be necessary for the establish-
ment of His Royal Highness the Duke of York, on the happy
event of his marriage ; and this may probably occasion an addi-
tion of 18,0001.

The amount of these additional charges is 42,0001.
I have next to. state those reductions which, as flu as we can

at present judge, may be expected to take place in our perma-
nent establishments, although they cannot operate to their full
extent in the present year. The first article of reductions is
under the head of the naval service, in which I am inclined to
hope that the number of seamen may be reduced to 16,000,
being 2,000 less than last year. This will produce a saving of
104,0001., and a further saving of about 10,0001. may probably
be made in the estimate for the works to be carried on in the

In the actual establishment of the army, (after allowing for the
proposed additions,which were explained when the army-estimate
was voted,) there may probably be a diminution of about
50,0001.; and 36,0001. will be saved in consequence of the ex-
piration of the treaty for the Hessian subsidy, which, under the


342 MR. PITT'S [Faa. 17.

present circumstances, His Majesty has not thought it necessary
to renew.

If, therefore, allowance is made on the one hand for the ad-
dition of 12,0001., and for the reductions in the army and navy,
amounting together to about 200,0001., the estimate of the
permanent annual expenditure- will stand at 15,811,0001. ; the
amount of the income of the last year, as I have before stated it,
exceeds this sum by 919,0001.; the average of the amount of
the two last years exceeds it by 801,0001.; the average of the
three years by 607,0001. ; and that of the four years on which I
rest my calculations, by 101,0001. This, then, is the compa-
rative view which I take of the permanent income, and the per-
manent expenditure ; and, according to the lowest of these cal-
culations, there remains a disposeable annual surplus of about
400,0001., after defraying the expense of all the establishments,
and applying the annual million to the reduction of the public

Before I submit to the committee the manner in which I would
propose to distribute this surplus in future, I wish to advert to the
supply, and ways and means, for the present year, because in
these there will be found some additional articles both of expen-
diture and of receipt. The supply for each year, as gentlemen
are aware, includes all the establishments and the charges for the
various branches of the public service, together with all incidental
charges which are defrayed by annual grants. It is independent
of the interest and charges of the national debt, of the million
annually issued to the commissioners of the civil list, and of the
other charges on the consolidated fund. The amount of all these
articles is 11,391,0001., and being permanently fixed, forms no
part of the supply voted in each year.

For the navy we have voted this year 16,000 seamen, of which
the charge is 832,0001. ; for what is called the ordinary of the
navy, 672,0001.; and for the extraordinary building and repairs
(including the work in the dock-yards) 350,0001. We have
also voted 131,0001. towards the reduction of the' navy debt,
which is sufficient for defraying the whole of the extra-expenses


of the naval department in the last year, (including those of the
armament,) as far as they have not been already defrayed by the


arising from former grants. These sums together make9

The establishment of the army for the present year is
1,171,0001. ; the extraordinaries 277,0001. ; besides 63,0001.
advanced for the troops in India, which will ultimately be repaid
by the company. The total voted for the army is 1,811,000/.

For the ordinary expenses of the ordnance there has been
voted 221,0001. ; for the extraordinaries nearly 157,0001.; and
under the head of services performed in former years, but
unprovided for, 44,0001., making in the whole the sum of

The estimates for the colonies and plantations amount to
about 31,0001.

Various miscel laneous services, including the expense of African
forts, the Mint, the roads in Scotland, the maintenance and
transportation of convicts, the sum paid for printing journals, and
some other articles, (particularly a compensation to the owners
of African vessels for losses sustained in consequence of the
late regulations, and likewise to the settlers removed in the
year 1786 from the Mosquito shore,) amount in the whole to

There are two other articles which always form part of the
annual statement of the supply, under the heads of deficiency
of grants, and estimated deficiency of the land and malt, the
nature of which is fully explained in the report of the committee
of the last session, and for which allowance is made, though in
a different shape, in the comparison of the permanent income and
expenditure. The amount of the deficiency of grants is 436,0001.,
which includes in it the sum of 123,000/. repaid to the Bank,
in consequence of the diminution of their floating balance, out
of which 500,0001. had been advanced for the supply of last
year ; and the deficiency on the land and malt may be estimated
at 350,000/.

To these articles I shall propose to add two others; thefirst is

344 MR. PITT'S [PEB.17.

100,0001. out of the supplies of the present year, to be applied
towards the discharge of the exchequer bills issued on account
of the Spanish armament ; by which means we shall be enabled
to repeal immediately the additional duty on malt, the pro-
duce of which for the present year was appropriated to the
separate fund created for that purpose. The second is an addi-
tional sum to be issued in this particular year, beyond the
annual million, for the reduction of the national debt; and, on the
comparison of the supply with the ways and means for the year,

think it will appear, that this sum may be safely stated at

I have now enumerated all the articles of the supply, except
the debentures to the American loyalists. These I. omit, be-
cause they are nearly balanced by the profit on the lottery,
which I do not mean to include in the statement of ways and

The first article of the estimated ways and means for the
present year is the amount of the annual duties on land and
malt, which may here be taken at 2,750,0001., because ex-
chequer bills will be issued on the credit of these duties to that
amount ; and the deficiency in the actual produce of the duties
will, according to the usual practice, become a charge on the
supply of future years, as the deficiency of the produce of
former years is a charge on the supply of the present year. The
next article Consists of the sums which may be expected to be
applied towards defraying the supply of the year out of the
produce of the consolidated fund. This fund includes in it the
whole amount of all the permanent taxes, and is applicable, in
the first instance, to the payment at the end of each quarter
oethe permanent charges which I have before had occasion to
enumerate. Any surplus which remains after payment of those
charges is, from time to time, disposeable by parliament ; and
a sum equal to the expected amount of that surplus in the
course of a year is always voted as an article of ways and means.
In voting the ways and means, it has for some time been the
practice to calculate front the 5th of April in the current year,


to the 5th of April following ; so that the grants for the supply
of each particular year are not expected to be completed till
the expiration of the first quarter in the subsequent year. In the
present instance, however, there remained a sum of 155,0001.
out of the actual surplus of the consolidated fund on the 5th of
January, 1792, after making good the whole sum granted for the
service of the year 1791, which had not been estimated to be
completed till the quarter ending the 5th of April, 1792. The
increase of the revenue having defrayed the whole charge, and
furnished this actual surplus, as early as on the 5th of January
last, and the 5th of April next, will yield a further surplus (after
paying the interest of the debt, and other fixed charges), which,
instead of being applied, as was estimated, to the service of the
year 1'791, will be applicable to the supply of the present year ;
and to this is to be added the growing produce of the consoli-
dated fund for the succeeding twelve months, from the 5th of
April, 1792, to the 5th of April, 1793.

The expected amount of the disposeable surplus on the 5th of
April next, I state at 186,0001.; and in forming this calculation,
I suppose the whole produce of the permanent taxes, during the
current quarter, to be equal to the average formed from the cor-
responding quarters in each of the last four years, which amounts
to 2,970,0001. To this is to be added the expected produce,
during this quarter, of the temporary taxes appropriated to
defray the expenses of the Spanish armament, because, up to
the 5th of April, those taxes arc directed to be carried to the
consolidated fund, and the proportion of the expense of the
Spanish armament, which was charged on the supply of 1792,
has been already defrayed out of the produce of the revenue up
to the 5th of January. Supposing these taxes to yield in this
quarter a sum equal to their average produce in the three quar-
ters since they have taken effect, their amount will be nearly
900,0001., and this, added to the-sum before stated, will make a
total of 3,170,0001. From this is to be deducted the amount of
the interest of debt, and other fixed charges on the consolidated

346 MR. pirrs LI...En. 17.
fund for this quarter, which is about 2,684,000/., leaving a re-
mainder of •86,0001.

The further amount of the sum, which may be expected to
arise from the surplus of the consolidated fund, between the
5th of April, 1792, and the 5th of April, 1793, I propose to
estimate in like manner on the average of the four last years,
making the necessary deduction on account of the taxes which
I shall on this day propose to you to repeal.

The total amount of the revenue on that average, exclusive
of land and malt, was 13,651,000/. The annual amount of the
taxes proposed to be repealed is about 223,0001.: but as some
arrears will be received from these taxes subsequent to their
repeal, the sum to he deducted on this account in the present
year, will not be to that amount, and may be estimated at about
163,0001. The total amount of the interest of debt and other
fined charges on the consolidated fond is (as I have already
stated) 11,391,0001. There will, therefore, on these suppositions,
remain a disposeable surplus of 2,100,0001., to" which is to
be added a sum of 200,0001. which there is good ground to
suppose will be repaid to the public during this year from the
balances of different accounts. These articles of ways and
means added together amount to 5,691,000/. The articles of
supply which I have enumerated amount in the whole to
5,651,000/., so that the ways and means exceed this supply by

I have already observed that, in the supply of the present
year, there are some articles included, which exceed consider-
ably the estimate of the permanent annual expenditure in the
several branches of the public service ; these consist principally
of the additional sum of 400,000/. proposed to be issued to the
commissioners ; the sum of 100,000/. granted in lieu of the malt
duty ; the sum granted for the navy debt ; that repaid to the
Bank ; the advance on account of the troops in India, and some
excess in the army-estimate ; in the unprovided estimate of the
ordnance ; in the miscellaneous services and the deficiency of
grants ; and they all appear peculiar to the present year, and not



likely to recur in future, except as far as an annual addition may

de)r be made to the sums issued for the reduction of the

In speaking however of the future expenditure, I am aware
that contingencies may occasionally arise, which cannot at pre-
sent be foreseen ; but, as far as I have now the means of judging,
I am not aware of any specific article in which there is likely to
be an excess beyond the permanent estimate, except in the
amount of the small sums which may be still necessary for com-
pleting the works for the protection of the dock-yards at home,
and the expense of carrying into execution the plan of forti-
fications in the West Indies, which will be a subject of separate
consideration. And with a view to these articles, or to other
contingencies that may arise, I have the satisfaction of thinking,
that they will probably be fully balanced by extraordinary
resources, beyond the calculated amount of the present income.
On the result, then, of these different statements, I think there is
no reason to doubt, that we may, in the present year, apply an
additional sum of 400,000/. to the reduction of the national debt,
and repeal the temporary duty on malt, at the same time allow-
ing for the repeal of permanent taxes to the amount of about
200,000/. and- for the application of nearly an equal annual sum
in future, as a permanent addition to the fund for the discharge
of the national debt.

The next point for consideration is, the propriety of the
general principle which I have assumed as the foundation of my
plan ; that of distributing the surplus of our revenue, and apply-
ing it in equal proportions to the diminution of taxes, and the
reduction of debt. I have thought this the wisest plan which we
can adopt, because by combining present relief with permanent
credit and security, it seems most likely to prevent any tempta-
tion hereafter to break in, with a rude hand, on the system for
the gradual reduction of our debt. At the same time, this addi-
tion to the sinking fund, with the aid of a further sum from a dis-
tant source, which I shall mention presently, and, independent
of any further increase of revenue, will enable us to make a rapid

348 MR. PITT'S [FEB. 17.

progress in this important work, and in a very short space of
time to reach a point, which perhaps not long since was thought
too distant for calculation.

I shall beg the indulgence of the committee while I state this
rather more at large, because it is connected with other consi-
derations which may lead to important measures for enforcing
and strengthening our system for the discharge of the national
debt. In attempting to form any calculations of the proportion
of debt which may be discharged at any particular time; there are
some cogtingencies which can only be stated hypothetically.
They may, however, now be reduced to a narrower point than
they have been in any former period. One material circum-
stance which has necessarily been considered as uncertain, is the
price of the funds ; but as far as relates to the 3 per cents, this
uncertainty seems to he in a great measure removed, with a view
to the question under consideration ; for, supposing the present
state of prosperity to continue, no calculation can reasonably be
formed on the idea of paying off any large portion of this stock
but at par. Under such circumstances, the principal question
would be, whether the fund for the reduction of debt ought to
be applied to the redemption or purchase of the 3 per cents,
with a view to the reduction of interest on the 1 per cents, and on
the 5 per cents? or, whether it should be applied to the redemp-
tion, first, of the 1 per cents, and afterwards (as soon as they
become redeemable) of the 5 per cents ? Without entering into
minute disquisitions on this point, I will only state, that, accord-
ing to the most accurate calculations which I have seen, the
mode of applying the sinking fund to the purchase of the 3 per
cents, and making use of the general improvement of credit in
order to reduce the interest of the 4 per cents, and of the 5 per
cents (when redeemable), and to carry the saving of interest as
an addition to the sinking fund, will on the whole be quicker in
its operation than the other mode, though not in any very consi-
derable degree. - I shall therefore suppose, in the first instance,
that an addition-of 100,0001. should be applied in the present
year to the reduction of debt, and an annual addition, from the


revenue for the next four years, of 200,000/. When the debentures
to the American loyalists shall be discharged, (which will be in
about four years subsequent to the present,) the profits arising
from the lottery, which, as I have already stated, are now set
against this article of expenditure, will be left free, and will form
an addition to the annual surplus. If the addition shall be dis-
tributed in the same manner as is now proposed, with respect to
the present surplus, and if the tickets should continue to bear
their present price, a further annual sum of 150,0001. (after
allowing for the repeal of taxes to the same amount) will be appli-
cable to the reduction of debt. Previous to this period, the 4 per
cents may naturally be supposed to have been reduced in the
first instance to 32, and ultimately to 3 per cent. ; and the saving
by this reduction of interest will amount at first to about) 60,000/.,
and when completed, to about 320,000/. By the operation of
the present sinking fund, and of these additions to the redemp.
tion of the 3 per cents at par, it may be expected that 25 millions
of 3 per cents will have been paid off in the year 1800, after
which the 5 per cents become redeemable ; and supposing the 3
per cents to continue at par, a further saving may then in a short
time be made, by converting the 5 per cents to 3 per cents, which
will amount in the whole to above 360,0001. and which 1 like-
wise suppose to be carried to the aid of the present sinking fund.
The material question which on these suppositions it is natural
to ask, is, When will the sinking fund arise to the amount of 4
millions per annum, which is the limit after which, according to
the act of 1786, it isno-longer to accumulate, but the interest of
the capital whichzit thenceforth may redeem, is to be left open
for the disposition of parliament ? It will amount to that sum,
on the suppositions which I have stated, in 1808, a period of
about fifteen years from the present time.

I am not, indeed, presumptuous enough to suppose, that when
I .
name fifteen years, I am not naming a period in which events

may arise, which human foresight cannot reach, and which may
baffle all our conjectures. We must not count with certainty on

350 MR. PITT'S • [FEB. 17.

a continuance of our present prosperity during such an interval ;
but unquestionably there never was a time in the history of this
country, when, from the situation of Europe, we might more
reasonably expect fifteen years of peace, than we may at the pre,
sent moment. But in looking forward to this very period, there
arises one of the considerations to which I have referred, and
which may lead us still to amend and enforce our system for the
reduction of debt.

When the sum of four millions was originally fixed as the limit
for the sinking fund, it was not in contemplation to issue more
annually from the surplus revenue than one million ; conse-
quently the fund would not rise to four millions till a proportion
of debt was paid off, the interest of which, together with the
annuities which might fall in in the interval, should amount to
three millions.

But as, on the present supposition, additional sums beyond the
original million are to be annually issued from the revenue, and
applied to the aid of the sinking fund, the consequence would be
that, if that fund ( with these additions carried to it) were still to
be limited to four millions, it would reach that amount, and cease
to accumulate, before as great a portion of the debt is reduced as
was originally in contemplation. This 'effect would be more
considerable, if, instead of an annual addition of 350,0001. in the
whole, which is the amount on which I have calculated, the fur-
ther increase of the revenue should admit (as it probably may)
of the application of a larger surplus : and in either of these
cases, although the ultimate amount of the sinking fund would
be equal to what was originally intended, and it would reach that
point sooner, yet it would bear a less proportion to the capital
of the debt which it would afterwards have to discharge, than it
would have done according to the original plan. In order to
avoid this consequence, which would, as far as it went, be a re-
laxation in our system, I should propose, that whatever may be
the additional annual sums applied to the reduction of debt, the
fund should not cease to accumulate till the interest of the



capital discharged, and the amount of expired annuities should,
together with the annual million only, and exclusive of any ad-
ditional sums, amount to four millions.

But I confess, that, in the present situation of the country, I
am inclined to think that we ought not to stop here. What we
did in 1786 was, perhaps, as much as could be attempted under
the circumstances of that time. At present we ought not to
continue our views to the operation of the sinking fund, com-
pared with the debt now existing. If our system stops there,
the country will remain exposed to the possibility of being again
involved in those embarrassments, which we have, in our own
time, severely experienced, and which, apparently, brought us
almost to the verge of bankruptcy and ruin. - 'We ought there-
fore to look forward, in order to provide a permanent remedy
against the danger of fresh accumulation of debt in conse-
quence of future contingencies. And this, as I shall explain
more particularly on some future occasion, may, I am per-
suaded, be effected without the danger of any inconvenience
or embarrassment, which can counterbalance the magnitude of
the object.

The measure which I have in view, is to enact, that when-
ever any loan should take place in future, unless raised by an-
nuities which would terminate in a moderate number of years,
there should of course be issued out of the consolidated fund,
to the commissioners for the reduction of the national debt, an
additional annual suni, sufficient. to discharge the capital of such
loan, in the same period as the sinking fund, after reaching its
largest amount, will discharge what would then remain of the
present debt. The committee will recollect, that the idea which
I am now stating is not new to my mind, though I have never
before proposed it as a permanent regulation. Two years from
this time, when I had the mortification of thinking that the
country might be engaged in an expensive war in consequence
of our discussions with the court of Spain, I gave notice that I
should propose to follow, very nearly, this system, with respect
to any loans which might then be necessary. I will not, how-

552 MR. PITT'S [FEB. 17.

ever, enlarge further on this subject at present. I have already
stated enough to spew that the system which I wish to propose--
is calculated to provide effectually for the discharge of the pub-
lic debt, at the same time that it diminishes the burdens of
the people ; and that, in consulting our own immediate ease,
we cannot be accused of sacrificing the permanent interests of

Supposing, therefore, that the distribution which I have sug-
gested should appear to the House fit to be adopted, and that
taxes to the amount of 200,0001. per annum should now be
taken off, I will beg leave next, for the purpose of bringing the
whole subject under consideration, to state the particular taxes,
which, if nothing preferable is suggested by others, I should pro-
pose to repeal. And, in making this selection, there are two
objects which I wish principally to keep in view. The first,' to
which it is very material to attend, is, that the actual relief felt
by the public should be proportioned to the amount of revenue
which is relinquished. Under these descriptions those taxes
seem most clearly to be included, which are raised by the mode
of assessment, because as they are paid directly out of the pocket
of the individual, and do not pass through circuitous channels
like taxes upon the articles of consumption, where the tax is
often blended with the price of the commodity, there can be
little doubt that the relief intended to be given will in these in-
stances be effectual to its\fullest extent. The other object which
I naturally have in view, is, that the relief intended should ap-
ply peculiarly to that class, to whom, on every account, it ought
first to be extended, —I mean the most necessitous, and the
most industrious part of the community.

Combining these objects, the first article to which I have
directed my attention is, the temporary duty on malt, imposed
in the last session.

The three next taxes which I shall state are permanent taxes,
which fall under the description of being raised by assessment,
and which have also the further advantage of extending relief
widely, and where we must most wish it to be extended.—The

first is the tax upon female servants, which is certainly paid by
the poorer class of house-keepers, and which is charged upon
about 90,000 different families — the amount is 31,0001. The
next is, the tax upon carts and waggons, which applies to the
whole of the yeomanry of 'the country, to all those who are oc-
cupied in agriculture, who pay in this shape a sum not indeed
very considerable, but which perhaps is felt, from the incon-
venience and trouble which it occasions, more than from the
burden itself. About 90,000 persons are affected by this tax
also, of which the amount is nearly 30,0001. The third tax
applies to the poorest of all the orders of the community, —
mean the tax on houses having less than seven windows, which
are exempted from the payment of any other tax, but that of
three shillings. The amount of the sum is small, but to those
who are the objects of it, its repeal will be a substantial relief
and comfort, and it will at least be a pledge and earnest of the
attention of parliament to their interests. It extends, I believe,
to between three and four hundred thousand houses, and its
amount is about 56,0001.

The next and last which I have to mention is the last addi-
tional tax of a halfpenny per pound on the article of candles,
which presses more, perhaps, than any other tax on consump-
tion, upon the class of whom I have been speaking ; and if this
tax is repealed from a given day, and the duty upon the stock
in hand is allowed to all the manufacturers and dealers in that
article, I believe there can be no question that the reduction
of the price will he in proportion to the duty repealed : its
amount is about 106,0001. ; and the total of all these taxes is

I have now explained the several measures which I shall this
day propose to the committee ; but I should think that I left
the subject imperfectly discussed, if I did not proceed to lay
before you such considerations as may enable you to judge how
far there is a reasonable prospect that the fortunate situation
which I have described may be permanent. And in order to do
this, I wish again to call your attention to the progressive in-


354 MR. PITT'S [PEn. 17a

crease of the revenue, and to state within what periods it has
taken place.

If we compare the revenue of last year with that of the year
]. 786, we shall find an excess in the last year of 2,300,0001.
If we go back to the year 1783, which is the first year of peace,
we shall find the increase since that period, including- the pro-
duce of the additional permanent taxes which have been im-
posed in the interval, to be little less than four millions. We
shall, I believe, also find, that, with the exception of the year
1786, in which the suspense of trade, occasioned by the nego-
tiation for the commercial treaty with France, naturally affected
the revenue, there is hardly any one year in which the increase
has not been continual.

In examining the branches of revenue, we shall find that
rather more than one million has arisen from the imposition of
new taxes ; about one million more in those articles in which
particular and separate regulations have been made for the pre-
vention of fraud; and that the remaining sum of two millions
appears to be diffused over the articles of general consumption,
and must therefore be attributed to the best of all causes — a
general increase in the wealth and prosperity of the country.

If we look more minutely into the particular articles on
which the revenue arises, we shall still find no ground to imagine,
that any considerable part of it is temporary or accidental, but
shall have additional reason to ascribe it to the cause which I
have just now stated. In the revenue of the customs there is
no material article where an increase might be supposed to pro-
ceed from the accident of seasons, but that of sugar, and it
appears that, upon the average of the four years on which I
have formed my calculation, that article has not produced
beyond its usual amount. Many of the articles under the head
of customs, in which the augmentation is most apparent, con-
sist of raw materials, the increasing importation of which is,
at once, a symptom and a cause of the increasing wealth of the
country. This observation will apply, in some degree, even to
the raw material of a manufacture which has generally been


supposed to . be on the decline,— I mean that of silk. In the
article of wool, the increase has been gradual and considerable.
The quantity of bar-iron imported from abroad is also increased,
though we all know how considerably our own iron works have
been extended during the period to which I have referred.
There is hardly any considerable article in which there is any
decrease, except that of hemp in the last year, which is probably
accidental, and that of linen, the importation of which from
abroad may be diminished by accidental causes, or perhaps in
consequence of the rapid increase -of the manufacture of that
article at home.

On looking at the articles composing ,the revenues of excise,
the same observations will arise in a manner still more striking.
There is, indeed, one branch of that revenue, the increase of
which may in part be attributed to the accident of seasons, —I
mean that which arises from the different articles of which malt
is an ingredient ; but I am inclined to believe that this increase
cannot be wholly ascribed to that cause, because, during all the
four years, the amount of the duty upon beer and ale has uni-
formly been progressive. In the great articles of consumption
which I will shortly enumerate, without dwelling on particulars
—in home-made and foreign spirits, wine, soap, tobacco, — the
increase has beers considerable and uniform. In the articles of
bricks and tiles, starch, paper, and printed goods, there has also
on the whole been a considerable increase, although there has
been some fluctuation in different years. Almost every branch
of revenue would furnish instances of a similar nature. The
revenue raised -by stamps has increased in the produce of the
old duties, while at the same time new duties have been added
to a large amount, and the augmentation is on this head, on
the whole, near 400,0001., a sum which is raised in such a
manner as to be attended with little inconvenience to those who
pay it. The amount of the duty upon salt during the same
period has been progressive. The revenue of the post-office is
another article, comparatively small, but which furnishes a
strong indication of the internal state of the country. No ad.

A A 2'


MR. PITT'S [FEB. 17'.
ditional duty has been imposed since the year 1784. In 1785;
it yielded 238,0001., and in the last year 338,0001. I mention
all these circumstances as tending to throw additional light on
the subject, and serving to illustrate and confirm the general
conclusion to which they all uniformly tend.

If from this examination of the different branches of the re-
venue, we proceed to a mote direct inquiry into the sources of
our prosperity, we shall trace them in a corresponding increase.
of manufacture and commerce.

The accounts formed from the documents of the custom-
house are not indeed to be relied upon as shewing accurately.
the value of our imports and exports in any one year, but they
furnish some standard of comparison between different periods,
and in that view I will state theme to the committee.

In the year 1782, the last year of the war, the imports, ac-•
cording to the valuation at the custom-house, amounted to
9,711,0001. ; they have gradually increased in each successive
year, and amounted in the year 1790, to 19,130,0001.

The export of British manufactures forms . a still more im-
portant and decisive criterion of commercial prosperity. The
amount in 1782 was stated at 9,919,0001. ; in the following
year, it was 10,109,0001.; in the year 1790, it had risen to
14,921,0001.; and in the last year (for which the account is
just completed as far as relates to British manufactures), it was
16,120,0001. If we include in the account the foreign articles
re-exported, the total of the export in 1782 was 12,239,0001.:
after the peace it rose, in 1783, to 14,741,0001. ; and in the.
year 1790, it was 20,120,0001. These documents, as far as they
go, (and they are necessarily imperfect,) serve only to give a view
of the foreign trade of the country. It is more than probable,
that our internal trade, which contributes still more to our
wealth, has been increasing in at least an equal proportion. I
have not the means of stating with accuracy a comparative view
of our manufactures during the same period ; but their rapid
progress has been the subject of general observation, and the
local knowledge of gentlemen from different parts of the country..

before whom I am speaking, must render any detail on this
point unnecessary.

Having gone thus far, having stated the increase of revenue,
and shewn that it has been accompanied by a proportionate in-
crease of the national wealth, commerce, and manufactures, I
feel that it is natural to ask, what have been the peculiar cir-
cumstances to which these effects are to be ascribed ?

The first and most obvious answer which every man's mind
will suggest to this question, is, that it arises from the natural
industry and energy of the country : but what is it which has
enabled that industry and energy to act with such peculiar
vigour, and so far beyond the example of former periods?—The
improvement which has been made in the mode of carrying on
almost every branch of manufacture, and the degree to which
labour has been abridged, by the invention and application of
machinery, have undoubtedly had a considerable share in pro-
ducing such important effects. We have besides seen, during
these periods, more than at any former time, the effect of one
circumstance which has principally tended to raise this country
to its mercantile pre-eminence—I mean that peculiar degree of
credit, which, by a twofold operation, at once gives additional
facility and extent to the transactions of our merchants at home,
and enables them to obtain a proportional superiority in markets
abroad. This advantage has been most conspicuous during the
latter part of the period to which I have referred ; and it is con-
stantly increasing, in proportion to the prosperity which it con-
tributes to create.

In addition to all this, the exploring and enterprising spirit of
our merchants has been seen'in the extension of our navigation
and our fisheries, and the acquisition of new markets in different
parts of the world ; and undoubtedly those efforts have been not
a little assisted by the additional intercourse with France, in
consequence of the commercial treaty; an intercourse which,
though probably cheeked and abated by the distractions now
prevailing in that kingdom, has furnished a great additional in,
citement to industry and exertion.

A A 3


358 MR. PITT'S [FEB. 17.
But there is still another cause, even more satisfactory than

these, because it is of a still more extensive and permanent
nature; that constant accumulation of capital, that continual
tendency to increase, the operation of which is universally seen
in .a greater or less proportion, whenever it is not obstructed by
some public calamity, or by seine mistaken and mischievous
policy, but which must be conspicuous and rapid indeed in any
country which has . once arrived at an advanced state of com-
mercial prosperity. Simple and obvious as this principle is, and
felt and observed as it must have been in a greater or less de-
gree, even from the earliest periods, I doubt whether it has
ever been fully developed and sufficiently explained, but in the
writings of an author of our own times, now unfortunately no
more, (I mean the author of a celebrated treatise on the Wealth
of Nations, ) whose extensive knowledge of detail, and depth of
philosophical research, will, I believe, furnish the best solution
to every question connected with the history of commerce, or
with the systems of political economy. This accumulation of
capital arises from the continual application, of a part at least,
of the profit obtained in each year, to increase the total amount
of capital to be employed in a similar manner, and with con-
tinued profit in the year following. The great mass of the pro-
perty of the nation is thus constantly increasing at compound
interest ; the progress of which, in any considerable period, is
what at first view would appear incredible. Great as have been
the effects of this cause already, they must be greater in future ;
for its powers are augmented in proportion as they are exerted.
It acts with a velocity continually accelerated, with a force
continually increased —

Mobilitate viget, viresque acquirit eundo.

It may indeed, as we have ourselves experienced, be checked
or retarded by particular circumstances — it may for a time be
interrupted, or even overpowered; but, where there is a fund of
productive labour and active industry, it can never be totally
extinguished. In the season of the severest calamity and dis.


tress, its operations will still counteract arid diminish their ef-
fects ; — in the first returning interval of prosperity, it will be
active to repair them. If we look to a period like the present,
of continued tranquillity, the difficulty will be to imagine limits
to its operation. None can be found, while there exists at
home any one object of skill or industry short of its utmost
possible perfection ; —one spot of ground in the country capable
of higher cultivation and improvement ; or while there remains
abroad any new market that can be explored, or any existing
market that can be extended. From the intercourse of com-
merce, it will in some measure participate in the growth of
other nations in all the possible varieties of their situations..
The rude wants of countries emerging from barbarism, and the
artificial and increasing demands of luxury and refinement, will
equally open new sources of treasure, and new fields of exertion,
in every state of society, and in the remotest quarters of the
globe. It is this principle which, I believe, according to the
uniform result of history and experience, maintains on the
whole, in spite of the vicissitudes of fortune and the disasters.
of empires, a continued course of successive improvement in
the general order of the world.

Such are the circumstances which appear to me to have con-
tributed most immediately to our present prosperity. But these
again are connected with others yet more important.

They are obviously and necessarily connected with the dura-
tion of peace, the continuance of which, on a secure and per-
manent footing, Must ever be the first object of the foreign
policy of this country. They are connected still more with its
internal tranquillity and with the natural effects of a free but
well-regulated government.

What is it which has produced, in the last hundred years, so
rapid an advance, beyond what can be traced in any other
period of our history? What but that, during that time, under
the mild and just government of the illustrious Princes of the
family now on the throne, a general calm has prevailed throug4

360 MR. PITT'S [FEB. 17.

the country, beyond what was ever before experienced ; and we
have also enjoyed, in greater purity and perfection, the benefit
of those original principles of our constitution, which were as-
certained and established by the memorable events that closed
the century preceding ? This is the great and governing cause,
the operation of which has given scope to all the other circum-
stances which I have enumerated.

It is this union of liberty with law, which, by raising a harrier
equally firm against the encroachments of power, and the
violence of popular commotion, affords to property its just
security, produces the exertion of genius and labour, the extent
and solidity of credit, the circulation and increase of capital ;
which forms and upholds the national character, and sets in
motion all the springs which actuate the great mass of the com-
munity through all its various descriptions.

The laborious industry of those useful and extensive classes
(who will, I (rust, he in a peculiar degree this day the object of
the consideration of the House), the peasantry and yeomanry of
the country ; the skill and ingenuity of the artificer ; the expe-
riments and improvements of the wealthy proprietor of land ;
the bold speculations and successful adventures of the opulent
merchant and enterprising manufacturer ; — these are all to be
traced to the same source, and all derive from hence both their
encouragement and their reward. On this point therefore let us
principally fix our attention, let us preserve this first and most
essential object, and every other is in our power. Let us re-
member, that the love of the constitution, though it acts as a
sort of natural instinct in the hearts of Englishmen, is strength-
ened by reason and reflection, and every day confirmed by
experience ; that it is a constitution. which we do not merely
admire from traditional reverence, which we do not flatter from
prejudice or habit, but which we cherish and value, because we
know that it practically secures the tranquillity and welfare both
of individuals and of the public, and provides, beyond any
other frame of government which has ever existed, for the


real and useful ends which form at once the only true foundation
and only rational object of all political societies.

I have now nearly closed all the considerations which I think it'
necessary to offer to the committee. I have endeavoured to give
a distinct view of the surplus arising on the comparison of the
permanent income ( computed on the average which I have
stated) with what may be expected to be the permanent expendi-
ture in time of peace, and I have also stated the comparison of
the supply, and of the ways and means of this particular year.
I have pointed out the leading and principal articles of revenue in
which the augmentation has taken place, and the corresponding
increase in the trade and manufactures of the country ; and
finally, I have attempted to trace these effects to their causes,
and to explain the principles which appear to account for the
striking and favourable change in our general situation. From
the result of the whole, I trust I am entitled to conclude, that
the scene which we are now contemplating is not the transient
effect of accident, not the short-lived prosperity of a day, but
the genuine and natural result of regular and permanent causes.
The season of our severe trial is at an end, and we are at
length relieved, not only from the dejection and gloom which,
a few years since, hung over the country, but from the doubt
and uncertainty which, even for a considerable time after our
prospect had begun to brighten, still mingled with the hopes and
expectations of the public. We may yet, indeed, be subject to
those fluctuations which often happen in the affairs of a great na-
tion, and which it is impossible to calculate or foresee ; but as far
as there can be any reliance on human speculations, we have the
best ground, from the experience of the past, to look with satis-
faction to the present, and with confidence to the future. "Nunc

de-mum redit animus, can non spent modo ac votum securitcts
" publica, sed ipsius voti fiduciam et robur assumpserit." This
is a state not of hope only, but of' attainment ; not barely the
encouraging prospect of future advantage, but the solid and im-
mediate benefit of present and actual possession.

362 MR. PITT'S [FEB.

On this situation and this prospect, fortunate beyond our most
sanguine expectations, let me congratulate you, and the House,
and my country ! And before I conclude, let me express my
earnest wish, my anxious and fervent prayer, that now in this pe-
riod of our success, for the sake of the present age and of poste-
rity, there may be no intermission in that vigilant attention of
parliament to every object connected with the revenue, the re-
sources, and the credit of' the state, which has carried us through
all our difficulties, and led to this rapid and wonderful improve-
ment;—that, still keeping pace with the exertions of the legisla-
ture, the genius and spirit, the loyalty and public virtue of a great
and free people may long deserve, and (under the favour of Pro-
vidence) may insure the continuance of this unexampled prospe-
rity ; and that Great Britain may thus remain for ages in the
possession of these distinguished advantages, under the protec-
tion and safeguard of that constitution, to which (as we have been
truly told from the throne) they are principally to be ascribed,
and which is indeed the great source and the best security of
all that can be dear and valuable to a nation !

At the conclusion of' the debate, the committee, without a division,
came to the following resolutions:

That, from and after the 5th day of April 1792, the duties charged by.

an act made in the 51st year of the reign of His present Majesty, intituled,
" An act for granting to His Majesty additional duties upon malt," do.
cease and determine.

That, from and after the 5th day of April 1792, the duties on female

servants: charged by an act, made in the 25th year of the reign of His
present Majesty, intituled, "An act to repeal duties on male servants,
and for granting new duties on male and female servants," do cease and

That, from and after the 5th day of April 1792, the duties charged by

an act, made in the 23d year of His present Majesty, intituled, " An act
for granting to ruts Majesty several rates and duties upon waggons, wains,
carts, and other such carriages, not charged with any duty under the ma-
nagement of the commissioners of odse," do cease and determine.


That, from and after the 5th day of April 1792, the duties now pay-

able on certain inhabited houses, containing less than seven windows or
lights, charged by an act of the 6th year of the reign of His present
Majesty, do cease and determine.

That, from and after the 5th day of April 1792, one halfpenny in the

pound of the duty upon all candles (except wax and spermaceti can-
dles) do cease and determine.

That a bill, or bills, be brought in upon the said resolutions ; and

that the Earl of Mornington, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr.
Edward James.

Eliot, the Lord Bayham, Mr. Hopkins, Mr. Attorney-
General, Mr. Solicitor-General, Mr. Rose, and Mr. Charles Long, do
prepare, and bring in, the same.

And in the committee of the supply on the same day, it was resolved
to grant to His Majesty the sum of 400,000/. to be issued and paid to
the governor and company of the Bank of England, to be by them
placed to the account of the commissioners for the reduction of' the
national debt.

April 2. 1 792.
Tur: House, after receiving a number of petitions praying for the

Abolition of the Slave-trade, resolved itself into a committee of the
whole House, to take the circumstances of the trade into consideration :
— when Mr. Wilberforce moved the following resolution: " That it is
" the opinion of this committee, that the trade carried on by British
" subjects, fin- the purpose of obtaining slaves on the coast of Africa,
" ought to he abolished."

Mr. Pm, at a late hour, rose and addressed the committee as follows:
At this hour 'of the morning I am afraid, Sir, I am too much

exhausted to enter so fully into the subject before the commit-
tee as I could wish ; but if my bodily strength is in any degree
equal to the task, I feel so strongly the magnitude of this
question, that I am extremely earnest to deliver my sentiments,
which I rise to do with the more satisfaction, because I now look

The whole number of petitions presented to this clay, was five hun-
dred and eight.'



MR. PITT'S [Aram 2.

forward to the issue of this business with considerable hopes of

The debate has this day taken a turn, though it has
produced a variety of new suggestions, has, upon the whole,
contracted this question into a much narrower point than it was
ever brought into before.

I cannot say, that I quite agree with the right honourable gen-
tleman over the way*; I am far from deploring all that has been
said by my two honourable friends. -I- I rather rejoice that they
have now brought this subject to a fair issue, that something, at
least, is already gained, and that the question has taken altogether
a new course this night. It is true, a difference of opinion has been
stated, and has been urged with all the force of argument that
could be given to it. But give me leave to say, that this difference
has been urged upon principles veryfar removed from those which
were maintained by the opponents of my honourable friend when
he first brought, forward his motion. There are very few of those
who have • spoken this night, who have not thought it their duty
to declare their full anti entire concurrence with my honourable
friend in promoting the abolition of the slave-trade, as their ulti-
mate object. However we may differ as to the time and manner
of it, we are agreed in the abolition itself; and my honourable
friends have expressed their agreement in this sentiment with
that sensibility upon the subject, which humanity does most
undoubtedly require. I do not., however, think they yet perceive
what are the necessary consequences of their own concession,
or follow up their own principles to their just conclusion.

The point now in dispute between us, is, a difference merely as
to the period of time, at which the abolition of the slave-trade
ought to take place. I therefore congratulate this House, the
country, and the world, that this great point is gained ; that
we may now consider this trade as having received its condemna-
tion; that its sentence is sealed; that this curse of mankind is
seen by the House in its true light ; and that the greatest stigma

Mr. Fox. t 'Mr. Dundas, and the Speaker,


on our national character which ever yet existed, is about to be
removed ! And, Sir, (which is still more important,) that man-
kind, I trust, in general, are now likely to be delivered from the
greatest practical evil that ever has afflicted the human race
from the severest and most extensive calamity recorded in the.
history of the world !

In proceeding to give my reasons for concurring with my
honourable friend in his motion, I shall necessarily 'advert to
those topics which my honourable friends near me have touched
upon; and which they stated to be their motives for preferring a
gradual, and, in some degree, a distant abolition of the slave-
trade, to the more immediate and direct measure now proposed
to you. Beginning as I do, with declaring that in this respect I
differ completely from my right honourable friends near me, I
do not, however, mean to say, that I differ as to one observation
which has been pressed rather strongly by them. If they can
shew that their proposition of a gradual abolition is more
likely than ours to secure the object which we have in view —
that by proceeding gradually we shall arrive more speedily at our
end, and attain it with more certainty, than by a direct vote
immediately to abolish : — if they can shew to the satisfaction
both of myself and the committee, that our proposition has
afore the appearance of a speedy .abolition than the reality of
it, undoubtedly they will in this case make a convert of me,
and my honourable friend who moved the question ; they will .
make a convert of every man among us, who looks to this, which
I trust we all do, as a question not to be determined by theore-
tical principles or enthusiastic feelings, but considers the prac-
ticability of the measure — aiming simply to effect his object in
the shortest time, and in the surest possible manner.

If, however, I shall be able to show that our measure. pro-
ceeds more directly to its object, and secures it with more cer-
tainty and within a less distant period ; and that the slave-trade
will on our plan be abolished sooner than on his; may I not then
hope, that my right honourable friends will be as ready to adopt

366 MR. PITT'S [Asfun '2.

our proposition, as we should in the other case be willing to
accede to theirs ?

One of my right honourable friends has stated, that an act
passed here for the abolition of the slave-trade would not
secure its abolition. Now, Sir, I should be glad to know, why an
act of the British legislature, enforced by all those sanctions
which we have undoubtedly the power and the right to apply, is
not to be effectual : at least as to every material purpose ? Will
not the executive power have the same appointment of the offi-
cers and the courts of judicature, by which all the causes relating
to this subject must be tried, that it has in other cases ? Will
there not be the same system of law by which we now maintain a
monopoly of commerce ? If the same law, Sir, be applied to
the prohibition of the slave-trade, which is applied in the case of
other contraband commerce, with all the same means of the
country to back it., I am at a loss to know why the actual and
total abolition is not likely to be effected in this way, as by
any plan or project of' my honourable friends, for bringing about
a gradual termination of it. But my observation is extremely
fortified by what fell from my honourable friend who spoke last:
he has told you, Sir, that if you will have patience with it for a
few years, the slave-trade must drop of itself, from the increasing
dearness of the commodity imported, and the increasing progress,
on the other hand, of internal population. Is it true, then, that
the importations are so expensive and disadvantageous already,
that the internal population is even now becoming a cheaper
resource ? I ask then, if you leave to the importer no means of
importation but by smuggling, and if, besides all the present dis-
advantages, you load him with all the charges and hazards of the
smuggler, by taking care that the laws against smuggling are in
this case watchfully and rigorously-enforced, is there any danger
of any considerable supply of fresh slaves being poured into the
islands through this channel? And is there any real ground of
fear, because a few slaves may have been smuggled in or out of
the islands, that a bill will be useless and ineffectual on any such

Mr. Jenkinson.

ground ? The question under these circumstances will not bear
a dispute.

Perhaps, however, my honourable friends may take up another
ground, and say, " It is true your measure would shut out
further importations more immediately ; but we do not mean
to shut them out immediately. We think it right, on grounds
of general expediency, that' they should not be immediately
shut out." Let us therefore now come to this question of the
expediency of' making the abolition distant and gradual, rather
than immediate.

The argument of expediency, in my opinion, like every other
argument in this disquisition, will not justify the continuance of'
the shave-trade for one unnecessary hour. Supposing it to be
in our power ( which I have shown it is) to enforce the prohibi-
tion from this present time, the expediency of doing it is to me
so clear, that if I went on this principle alone, I should not feel
a moment's hesitation. What is the argument of expediency
stated on the other side ? It is doubted whether the deaths and
births in the islands are as yet so nearly equal as to ensure the
keeping up of a sufficient stock of labourers : in answer to this, I
took the liberty of mentioning, in a former year, what appeared
to me to be the state of population at that time. My observa-
tions were taken from documents which we have reason to judge
authentic, and which carried on the face of them the conclusions
I then stated ; they were the clear, simple, and obvious result of
a' careful examination which I made into this subject, and any
gentleman who will take the same pains may arrive at the
same degree of satisfaction.

These calculations, however, applied to a period of time that-is
now four or five years past. The births were then, in the gene-
ral view of them, nearly equal to the deaths; and, as the state of
population was shewn, by a considerable retrospect, to be regu-
larly increasing, an excess of births must before this time have
taken place.

Another observation has been made. as to the disproportion
of the sexes ; this, however, is a disparity which existed in any

MR. PITT'S EAVail, 2.

material degree only in former years ; it is a disparity of which
the slave-trade has been itself the cause; which will gradually
diminish as the slave-trade diminishes, and must entirely cease, if
the trade shall be abolished ; hut which, nevertheless, is made the
very plea for its continuance. I believe this disproportion of the
sexes, taking the whole number in the islands, Creole as well as
imported Africans, the latter of whom occasion all the dispro-
portion, is not now by any means considerable.

But, Sir, I also shewed, that the great mortality which turned
the balance so as to make the deaths appear more numerous than
the births, arose too from the imported Africans, who die in
extraordinary numbers in the seasoning. If, therefore, the
importation of negroes should cease, every one of the causes of
mortality which I have now stated, would cease also. Nor can
I conceive any reason why the present number of labourers
should not maintain itself in the West Indies, except it be from
some artificial cause, some fault in the islands ; such as the im-
policy of their governors, or the cruelty of the managers and
officers whom they employ.

I will not reiterate all that I said at that time, Or go through
island by island. It is true, there is a difference in the ceded
islands ; and I state them possibly to be, in some respects, an
excepted case. But, if we are to enter into the subject of the
mortality in clearing new lands, this, Sir, is undoubtedly another
question ; the mortality here is tenfold ; and this is to be con-
sidered, not as the carrying on of a trade, but as the setting on
foot of a slave-trade for the purpose of peopling the colony ; a
measure which I think will not now be maintained. I therefore
desire gentlemen to tell me fairly, whether the period they look
to is not now arrived ? Whether, at this hour, the West Indies
may not be declared to have actually attained a state in which
they can maintain their population ? and upon the answer I
must necessarily receive, I think I could safely rest the whole
of the question.

One honourable gentleman has ratlier ingeniously observed that
one or other of these two assertions of ours, must necessarily be


false : that either the population must be decreasing, which we
deny ; or if the population is increasing, that the slaves must be
perfectly well treated, (this being the cause of such population,)
which we deny also. That the population is rather increasing
than otherwise, and also that the general treatment is by no
means so good as it ought to be, are both points which have been
separately proved by different evidences ; nor arc these two points
so entirely incompatible. The ill treatment must be very great
indeed, in order to diminish materially the population of any
race of people. That it is not so extremely great as to do this,
I will admit. I will even admit, if you please, that this charge
may possibly have been sometimes exaggerated ; and I certainly
think, that it applies less and less as we come nearer to the
present times.

But, let us see how this contradiction of ours, as it is thought,
really stands, and how the explanation of it will completely settle
our minds on the point in question. Do the slaves diminish in
numbers? It can be nothing but ill treatment that causes the di-
minution. This ill treatment the abolition must and will restrain.
In this case, therefore, we ought to vote for the abolition. On
the other hand, Do you choose to say that the slaves clearly in-
crease in numbers ? Then you want no importations, and, in this
ease also, you may safely vote for the abolition. Or, if you choose
to say, as the third and only other case which can be put, and
which perhaps is the nearest to the truth, that the population is
nearly stationary, and the treatment neither so bad nor so good
as it might be ; then surely, Sir, it will not be denied, that this of
all others is, on each of the two grounds, the proper period for
stopping further supplies : for your population, which you own is
already stationary, will thus be made undoubtedly to increase
from the births ; and the good treatment of your present slaves,
which I am now supposing isbutvery moderate, will be necessarily
improved also by the same measure of abolition. I say, therefore,
that these propositions, contradictory as they may be represented,
are in truth not at all inconsistent, but even come in aid of each
other, and lead to a conclusion that is decisive. And let it be


370 11111. PITT'S [ApnIr., 2. 1792.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 371
always remembered, that in this branch of my argument I have
only in view the well-being of the West Indies, and do not now
ground any thing on the African part of the question.

But, Sir, I may carry these observations respecting the islands
much further. It is within the power of the colonists, (and is
it not then their indispensable duty ?) to apply themselves to the
correction of those various abuses by which population is re-
strained. The most important consequences may be expected
to attend colonial regulations for this purpose. With the im-
provement of internal population, the condition of every negro
will improve also ; his liberty will advance, or at least he will be
approaching to a state of liberty. Nor can you increase the
happiness, or extend to the freedom of the negro, without adding
in an equal degree to the safety of the islands, and of all their
inhabitants. Thus, Sir, in the place of slaves, who naturally
have an interest directly opposite to that of their masters, and
are therefore viewed by them with an eye of constant suspicion,
you will create a body of valuable citizens and subjects, forming a
part of' the same community, having a common interest with their
superiors, in the security and prosperity of the whole.

And here let me add, that in proportion as you increase the
happiness of these unfortunate beings, you will undoubtedly
increase in effect the quantity of their labour also. Gentlemen
talk of the diminution of the labour of the islands ! I will venture
to assert, that, even if in consequence of the abolition there were
to be some decrease in the number of hands, the quantity of
work done, supposing the condition of the slaves to improve,
would by no means diminish in the same proportion ; perhaps
would be far from diminishing at all. For if you restore to this
degraded race the true feelings of men ; if you take them out
from among the order of brutes, and place them on a level with
the rest of the human species ; they will then work with that
energy which is natural to men, and their labour will be pro-
ductive, in a thousand ways, above what it has yet been ; as the
labour of a man is always more productive than that of a mere

It generally happens, that in every bad cause some information
arises out of' the evidence of its defenders themselves, which
serves to expose in one part or other the weakness of their
defence. It is the characteristic of such a cause, that if it be
at all gone into, even by its own supporters, it is liable to be
ruined by the contradictions in which those who maintain it are.
for ever involved.

The committee of the privy council of Great Britain sent over
certain queries to the West-India islands, with

• a view of eluci-
dating the present subject ; and they particularly inquired,
whether the negroes had any days or hours allotted to them, in
whieh they might work for themselves. The assemblies, in their
answers, with an air of great satisfaction state the labour of the
slaves to be moderate, and the West-India system to be well
calculated to promote the domestic happiness of the slaves :
they add, " that proprietors are not compelled by law to allow
their slaves any part of the six working days of the week for
themselves, but that it is the general practice to allow them one
afternoon in every week out of crop time, which, with such
hours as they choose to work on Sundays, is time amply sufficient
for their own purposes :" now, therefore, will the negroes, or I
play rather say, do the negroes work for their own emolument ?
I beg the committee's attention to this point : the assembly of
Grenada proceeds to state I have their own words for it

-u that though the negroes are allowed the afternoons of only
One day in every week, they will do as much work in that after-
noon, when employed for their own benefit, as in the whole day
when employed in their masters' service."

Now, Sir, I will desire you to burn all my calculations ; to dis-
believe, if you please, every word I have said on the present state
of population ; nay, I will admit, for the sake of argument, that
the numbers are decreasing, and the productive labour at present
insufficient for the cultivation of those countries : and I will.then
ask, whether the increase in the quantity of labour which is
reasonably to be expected from the improved condition a the
slaves, is not, by the admission of the islands themselves, by their

B n 2

SIR. PITT'S [Apair-, 2>

admission not merely of an argument but a fact, far more than
sufficient to counterbalance any decrease which can be rationally
apprehended from a defective state of their population Why,
Sir, a negro, if he works for himself, and not for a master, will
do double work ! This is their own account. If you will believe
the planters, if you will believe the legislature of the islands,
the productive labour of the colonies would, in case the negroes
worked as free labourers instead of slaves, be literally doubled.
Half the present labourers, on this supposition, would suffice
for the N' vhole cultivation of our islands on the present scale. I
therefore confidently ask the House, whether, in considering the
whole of this question, we may not fairly look forward to an
improvement in the condition of these unhappy and degraded
beings, not only as an event desirable on the ground of humanity
and political prudence, but also as a means of increasing very
considerably indeed, ( even without any increasing population,)
the productive industry of the islands ?

When gentlemen are so nicely balancing the past and future
means of cultivating the plantations, let me request them to put

,this argument into the scale ; and the more they consider it, the
more will they be satisfied, that both the solidity of the principle
which I have stated, and the fact which I have just quoted in the
very words of the colonial legislature, will bear me out in every
inference I have drawn. I think they will perceive also, that it
is the undeniable duty of this House, on the grounds of true
policy, immediately to sanction and carry into effect that system
which ensures these important advantages; in addition to all
those other inestimable blessings which follow in their train.

If, therefore, the argument of expediency, as applying to the
West-India islands, is the test by which this question is to be
tried, I trust I have now established this proposition, namely,
that whatever tends most speedily and effectually to meliorate
the condition of the slaves, is undoubtedly on the ground of
expediency, leaving justice out of the question, the main object
to be pursued.

That the immediate abolition of the slave-trade will most emi--


nently have this effect, and that it is the only measure from which
this effect can in any considerable degree be expected, are points
to which I shall presently come; but before I enter upon them,
let me notice one or two further circumstances.

We are told (and by respectable and well-informed persons)
that the purchase of new negroes has been injurious instead of
profitable to the planters themselves ; so large a proportion of
these unhappy wretches being found to perish in the seasoning.
Writers well versed in this subject have even advised that, in order
to remove the temptation which the slave-trade offers to expend
large sums in this injudicious way, the door of importation
should be shut. — This very plan which we now propose, the
mischief of which is represented to be so great as to outweigh
so many other momentous considerations, has actually been
recommended by some of the best authorities, as a plan highly
requisite to be adopted on the very principle of advantage to
the island ; nay, not merely on that principle of general and poli-
tical advantage on which 1 have already touched, but for the ad-
vantage of the very individuals who would otherwise be most
forward in purchasing slaves. On the part of the West-Indians
it is urged, " The planters are in debt ; they are already dis-
tressed ; if you stop the slave-trade, they wilt be ruined." Mr.
Long, the celebrated historian of Jamaica, recommends the
stopping of importations, as a receipt for enabling the planta-
tions which are embarrassed to get out of debt. I will quote his
words. Speaking of the usurious terms on which money is often
borrowed for the purchase of fresh slaves, he advises " the lay-
ing of a duty equal to a prohibition on all negroes imported for
the space of four or five years, except for re-exportation. - Such
a law," he proceeds to say, " would be attended with the follow-
ing good consequences. It would put an immediate stop to these
extortions ; it would enable the planter to retrieve his affairs by
preventing him from running in debt, either by renting or pur-
chasing negroes ; it would render such recruits less necessary, by
the redoubled care he would be obliged to take of his present
stock, the preservation of their lives and health z and lastly, it

B 3

374 MR. PITT'S [APRIL 2.

would raise the value of negroes in the island. — A North-
American province, by this prohibition alone for a few years,
from being deeply plunged in debt, has become independent,
rich, and flourishing."

On this authority of Mr. Long I rest the question, whether
the prohibition of further importations is that rash, impolitic,
and completely ruinous measure, which it. is so confidently de-
clared to be with respect to our West-Indian plantations.

I do not, however, mean, in thus treating this branch of the
subject, absolutely to exclude the question of indemnification on
the supposition of possible disadvantages affecting the West-
Indies through the abolition of the slave-trade. But when gen-
tlemen set up a claim of compensation merely on those general
allegations, which are all that I have yet heard from them, I can
only answer, let them produce their case in a distinct and spe-
cific form ; and if upon any practicable or reasonable grounds it
shall claim consideration, it will then be time enough for parlia-
ment to decide upon it.

I now come to another circumstance of great weight, connected
with this part of the question. I mean the danger to which the
islands are exposed from those negroes who are newly imported.
This, Sir, like the observation which I lately made, is no mere
speculation of ours ; for here again I refer you to Mr. Long, the
historian of Jamaica. He treats particularly of the dangers to
be dreaded from the introduction of Coromantine negroes ; an
appellation under which are comprised several descriptions of '
negroes obtained on the Gold Coast, whose native country is not
exactly known, and who are purchased in a variety of markets,
having been brought from some distant inland. With a view of
preventing insurrections, he advises, that " by a laying a duty
equal to a prohibition, no more of these Coromantines should
be bought ;" and after noticing one insurrection which happened
through their means, he tells you of another in the following
year, in which thirty4hree Coromantines, most of whom had
been'newly imported, suddenly rose, and in the space of an hour
murdered and wounded no less than nineteen white persons."

To the authority of Mr. Long, both in this and other parts of

his work, I 'may add the recorded opinion of the committee of
the house of assembly of Jamaica itself; who, in consequence of
a rebellion among the slaves, were appointed to enquire into the
best means of preventing future insurrections. The committee
reported, " That the rebellion had originated (like most or all
others) with the Coromantines ; and they proposed that a bill
should be brought in for laying a higher duty on the importation
of these particular negroes," which was intended to operate as a

But the danger is not confined to the importation of Coro-
mantines. Mr. Long, carefully investigating as he does the
causes of such frequent insurrections, particularly at Jamaica,
accounts for them from the greatness of its general importations.
" In two years and a half," says he, " 27,000 negroes have been
imported. - - No wonder we have rebellions ! Twenty-seven
thousand in two years and a half!" Why, Sir, I believe that in
some late years there have been as many imported into the same
island within the same period ! Surely, Sir, when gentlemen
talk so vehemently of the safety of the 'islands, and charge us
with being so indifferent to it ; when they speak of the calamities
of St. Domingo, and of similar dangers impending over their
own heads at the present hour, it ill becomes them to be the
persons who arc crying out for further importations. It ill be-
comes them to charge upon us the crime of stirring up insurrec-
tions— upon us who are only adopting the very principles, which
Mr. Long, which in part even the legislature of Jamaica itself,
laid down in the time of danger, with an avowed view to the
prevention of any such calamity.

The House, I am sure, will easily believe it is no small satis-
faction to me, that among the many arguments for prohibiting
the slave-trade which crowd upon my mind, the security of our
West-India possessions against internal commotions, as well as
foreign enemies, is among the most prominent and most forcible.
And here let me apply to my two right honourable friends, and
ask them, whether in this part of the argument they do not see


reason for immediate abolition ! Why should you any longer
Import into those countries that which is the very seed of insur-
rection and rebellion ? Why should you persist in introducing
those latent principles of conflagration, which, if they should
once burst forth, may annihilate in a single day the industry of
an hundred years ? Why will you subject yourselves, with open
eyes, to the evident and imminent risk of a calamity, which play
throw you back a whole century in your profits, in your cultiva-
tion, in your progress to the emancipation of your slaves ? and,
disappointing at once every one of those golden expectations,
may retard not only the accomplishment of that happy system
which I have attempted to describe, but may cut off even your
opportunity of taking any one introductory step ? Let us begin
from this time ! Let us not commit these important interests to
any further hazard ! Let us prosecute this great object from this
very hour ! Let us vote that the abolition of the slave-trade
shall be immediate, and not left to I know not what future time
or contingency ! Will my right honourable friends answer for
the safety of the islands during any imaginable intervening period?
Or do they think that any little advantages of the kind which
they state, can have any weight in that scale of expediency in
which this great question ought Undoubtedly to be tried?

Thus stated, and thus alone, Sir, can it be truly stated, to
what does the whole of my right honourable friend's arguments,
on the head of expediency, amount? It amounts but to this: —
the colonies on the one hand would have to struggle with some
few difficulties and disadvantages at the first, for the sake of ob-
taining on the other hand immediate security to their leading
interests ; of ensuring, Sir, even their own political existence;
and for the sake also of immediately commencing that system
of progressive improvement in the condition of the slaves, which
is necessary to raise them from the state of brutes to that of
rational beings, but which never can begin until the introduction
of these new disaffected and dangerous Africans into the same
gangs, shall have been stopped.

If any argument can in the slightest degree justify the seve-

rity that is now so generally practised in the treatment of the
slaves, it must be the introduction of these Africans. It is the
introduction of these Africans that renders all idea of emanci-
pation for the present so chimerical ; and the very mention of
it so dreadful. It is the introduction of these Africans that
keeps down the condition of all plantation-negroes. Whatever
system of treatment is deemed necessary by the planters to be
adopted towards these new Africans, extends itself to the other
slaves also. Instead therefore of deferring the hour when you
will finally put an end to importations, vainly purposing that
the condition of your present slaves should previously be
mended, you must, in the very first instance, stop your impor-
tations, if you hope to introduce any rational or practicable
plan, either of gradual emancipation, or present general im-

Having now done with this question of expediency as affecting,
the islands, I come next to a proposition advanced by my right
honourable friend which appeared to intimate, that on account
of some patrimonial rights of the West-Indians, the prohibition
of the slave-trade might be considered as an invasion on their
legal inheritance.

Now, in answer to this proposition, I must make two or
three remarks, which I think my right honourable friend will
find some considerable difficulty in answering. — First, I observe
that his argument, if it be worth any thing, applies just as much
to gradual as immediate abolition. I have no doubt, that at
whatever period he should be disposed to say the abolition
should actually take place, this defence will equally be set up ;
for it certainly is just as good an argument against an abolition
seven, or seventy years hence, as against an abolition at this mo.
anent. It supposes, we have no right whatever to stop the im-
portations ; and even though the disadvantage to our plantations,
which some gentlemen suppose to attend the measure of immediate
abolition, should be admitted gradually to lessen by the lapse of

'IP Mr. Dundas.


378 MR. PITT'S [APRIL 2.

a few years, yet in point of principle the absence of all right of
interference would remain the same. My right honourable
friend, therefore, I am sure will not press an argument not less
hostile to his proposition than to ours. But let us investigate
the foundation of this objection, and I will commence what I
have to say, by putting a question to my right honourable friend.
It is chiefly on the presumed ground of our being bound by a
parliamentary sanction heretofore given to the African slave-
trade, that this argument against the abolition is rested. Does
then my right honourable friend, or does any man in this House
think, that the slave-trade has received any such parliamentary
sanction, as must place it more out of the jurisdiction of the
legislature for ever after, than the other branches of our national
commerce? I ask, is there any one regulation of any part of
our commerce, which, if this argument be valid, may not
equally he objected to, on the ground of its affecting some tan's
patrimony, some man's property, or some man's expectations ?
Let it never be forgotten, that the argument I am canvassing
would be just as strong, if the possession affected were small,
and the possessors humble ; for on every principle of justice,
the property of any single individual, or small number of indi-
viduals, is as sacred, as that of the great body of West-Indians.
Justice ought to extend her protection with rigid impartiality to
the rich and to the poor, to the powerful and to the humble.
If this be the case, in what a situation does my right honourable
friend's argument place the legislature of Britain ? What room
is left for their interference in the regulation of any part of our
commerce ? It is scarcely possible to lay a duty on any one
article, which may not, when first imposed, be said in some way
to affect the property of individuals, and even of some entire
classes of the community. If the laws respecting the slave-
trade imply a contract for its perpetual continuance, I will ven-
ture to say, there does not pass a year without some act, equally
pledging the faith of parliament to the perpetuating of some
other branch of commerce. In short, I repeat my observation,


that no new tax can be imposed, much less can any prohibitory
duty be ever laid on any branch of trade, that has before been
regulated by parliament, if this principle be once admitted.

Before I refer to the acts of parliament by which the public,
faith is said to be pledged, let me remark also, that a contract
for the continuance of the slave-trade must, on the principles
which I shall presently insist on, have been void, even from the
beginning ; for if this trade is an outrage upon justice, and
Only another name for fraud, robbery, and murder, — will any
man urge that the legislature could possibly by any pledge
whatever incur the obligation of being an accessory, or I may
even say a principal, in the commission of such enormities, by
sanctioning their countenance? As well might an individual think
himself bound by a promise to commit an assassination. I am .
confident, gentlemen must see, that our proceedings on such
grounds would infringe all the principles of law, and subvert
the very foundation of morality.

Let us now see, how far the acts themselves shew that there
is this sort of parliamentary pledge to continue the African
slave-trade. The act of 23d Geo.H. c. 31. is that by which
we are supposed to be bound up by contract to sanction all
those horrors now so incontrovertibly proved. How surprised
then, Sir, must the House be to find, that by a clause of their
very act, some of these outrages are expressly forbidden ! It
says, 4 ' No commander, or master of a ship, trading to Africa,
shall by fraud, force, or violence, or by any indirect practice
whatsoever, take on board or carry away from the coast of
Africa, any negro, or native of the said country, or commit. any
violence on the natives, to the prejudice of the said trade, and
that every person so offending shall for every such offence
forfeit"— When it comes to the penalty, sorry am I to say, that
we see too close a resemblance to the West-India law, which in-
flicts the payment of 301. as the punishment for murdering a
negro The price of blood in Africa is 1001.; but even this;
penalty is enough to prove that the act at least does not sanction,
much less does it engage to perpetuate enormities; and the


386 MR. PITT'S [Avail, '2,

whole trade has now been demonstrated to be a mass, a system
of enormities ; of enormities which incontrovertibly bid defiance
not only to this clause but to every regulation which our
ingenuity can devise, and our power carry into effect. Nothing
can accomplish the object of this clause but an extinction of the
trade itself.

But, Sir, let us see what was the motive for carrying on the
trade at all ? The preamble of the act states it, — " Whereas
the trade to and from Africa is very advantageous to Great
Britain, and necessary for the supplying the plantations and
colonies thereunto belonging with a sufficient number of negroes
at reasonable rates, and for that purpose the said trade should
be carried on," &c.—Here then we see what the parliament had
in view when it passed this act ; and I have clearly shewn that
not one of the occasions on which it grounded its proceedings
now exists. I may then plead, I think, the very act itself as
an argument for the abolition. If it is shewn, that instead of
being " very advantageous" to Great Britain, this trade is the
most destructive that can well be imagined to her interests ;
that it is the ruin of our seamen ; that it stops the extension of
our manufactures ; if it is proved in the second place that it is
not now necessary for the " supplying our plantations with ne-
groes;" if it is further established that this traffick was from the
very beginning contrary to the first principles of justice, and
consequently that a pledge for its continuance, had one been
attempted to have been given, must have been completely and
absolutely void;—where then in this act of parliament is the con-
tract to be found, by which Britain is bound, as she is said to be,
never to listen to her own true interests, and to the cries of the
natives of Africa ? Is it not clear that all argument, founded on
the supposed pledged faith of parliament, makes against those
who employ it? I refer you to the principles which obtain in other
eases. Every trade-act shews undoubtedly that the legislature
is used to pay a tender regard to all classes of the community.
But if for the sake of moral duty, of national honour, or even
of great political advantage, it is thought right, by authority, of

parliament, to alter any long-established system, parliament is
Competent to do it. The legislature will undoubtedly be careful
to subject individuals to as little inconvenience as possible ; and
if any peculiar hardship should arise, that can be distinctly
stated, and fairly pleaded, there will ever, I am sure, be a liberal
feeling towards them in the legislature of this country, which is
the guardian of all who live under its protection. On the
present occasion, the most powerful considerations call upon us
to abolish the slave•trade; and if we refuse to attend to them
on the alleged ground of pledged faith and contract, we shall
depart as widely from the practice of parliament, as from the
path of moral duty. If indeed there is any case of hardship,
which comes within the proper cognizance of parliament, and
calls for the exercise of its liberality,—well ! But such a case
must be reserved for calm consideration, as a matter distinct
from the present question.

I beg pardon for dwelling so long on the argument of expe.
diency, and on the manner in which it affects the West-Indies.
I have been carried away by my own feelings on some of these
points into a greater length than I intended, especially considering
:row fully the subject has been already argued. The result of
all I have said, is, that there exists no impediment, no obstacle,
no shadow.of reasonable objection on the ground of pledged
faith, or even on that of national expediency, to the abolition of
this trade. On the contrary, all the arguments drawn from
those sources pleaded for it ; and they plead much more loudly,
and much more strongly in every part of the question, for an
immediate than for a gradual abolition.

But now, Sir, I come to Africa. That is the ground on which
I rest, and here it is that I say my right honourable friends do
not carry their principles to their full extent. Why ought the
slave-trade to be abolished ? Because it is incurable injustice.
How much stronger then is the argument for immediate than
gradual abolition ? By allowing it to continue even for one
hour, do not my right honourable friends weaken o do not they
desert, their own argument of its injustice ? If on the ground

382 MR. PITT'S [APRIL 2-

of injustice it ought to be abolished at last,_why ought it not
now ? Why is injustice to be suffered to remain for a single
hour ? From what I hear without doors, it is evident that there
is a general conviction entertained of its being far from just ;
and from that very conviction of its injustice, some men have
been led, I fear, to the supposition, that the slave-trade never
could have been permitted to begin, but from some strong and
irresistible necessity ; a necessity, however, which, if it was
fancied to exist at first, I have shewn cannot be thought by any
man whatever to exist now. . This plea of necessity, thus pre-
sumed, and presumed, as I suspect, from the circumstance of
injustice itself, has caused a sort of acquiescence in the conti-
nuance of this evil. Men have been led to place it among the
rank of those necessary evils, which are supposed to be the lot of
human creatures, and to be permitted to fall upon some coun-
tries or individuals, rather than upon others, by that Being,
whose ways are inscrutable to us, and whose dispensations, it
is conceived, we ought not to look into. The origin of evil
is indeed a subject beyond the reach of human understandings;
and the permission of it by the Supreme Being, is a subject.
into which it belongs not to us to enquire. But where the
evil in . question is a moral evil which a man can scrutinise,
and where that moral evil has its origin with ourselves, let us
not imagine that we can clear our consciences by this general,
not to say irreligious and impious way of laying aside the ques-
tion. If we reflect at all on this subject, we must see that every
necessary evil supposes that some other and greater evil would
be incurred were it removed ; I therefore desire to ask, what
can be that greater evil, which can be stated to overbalance
the one in question?—I know of no evil that ever has existed,
nor can imagine any evil to exist, worse than the tearing of
seventy or eighty thousand persons annually from their native
land, by a combination of the most civilized nations, inhabiting
the most enlightened part of the globe, but more especially
under the sanction of the laws of that nation which calls
herself the most free and the most happy of them all. Even if

these miserable beings were proved guilty of every crime before
you take them off; (of which however not a single proof is
adduced,) ought we to take upon ourselves the office of execu-
tioners ? And even if we condescend so far, still can we be
justified in taking them, unless we have clear proof that they
are criminals ?

But if we go much farther, —if we ourselves tempt them to
sell their fellow-creatures to us, we may rest assured, that they
will take care to provide by every method, by kidnapping, by
village-breaking, by unjust wars, by iniquitous condemnations,
by rendering Africa a scene of bloodshed and misery, a supply
of victims increasing in proportion to our demand. Can we
then hesitate in deciding whether the wars in Africa are their
wars or ours? It was our arms in the river Cameroon. put into
the hands of the trader, that furnished him with the means of
pushing his trace; and I have no more doubt that they are
British arms, put into the hands of Africans, which promote
universal war and desolation, than I can doubt their having done
so in that individual instance.

I have shewn how great is the enormity of this evil, even on
the supposition that we take only convicts and prisoners of war.
But take the subject in the other way; take it on the grounds
stated by the right honourable gentlemen over the way ; and
how does it stand ? Think of EIGHTY THOUSAND persons
carried awa ,

out of their country by we know not what means !
for crimes imputed ! for light or inconsiderable faults ! for debt
perhaps! for the crime of witchcraft ! or a thousand other
weak and scandalous pretexts ! besides all the fraud and kid-
napping, the villanies and perfidy, by which the slave-trade
is supplied. Reflect on these eighty thousand persons thus an-
nually taken off! There is something in the horror of it, that
surpasses all the bounds of imagination. Admitting that there
exists in Africa something like to courts of justice; yet what
an office of humiliation and meanness is it in us, to take upon
ourselves to carry into execution the partial, the cruel, ini-
quitous sentences of such courts, as if we also were strangers

381 MR. PITT [APRIL 2.

to all religion, and to the first principles of justice ! But that
country, it is said, has been in some degree civilised, and civil-
ised by us. It is said they have gained some knowledge of
the principles of justice. What. Sir, have they gained principles
of justice from us ? Their civilisation brought about by us!!
Yes, we give them enough of our intercourse to convey to them
the means, and to initiate them in the study of mutual destruc-
tion. We give them just enough of the forms of justice to en-
able them to add the pretext of legal trials to their other modes
of perpetrating the most atrocious iniquity. We give them just
enough of European improvements, to enable them the more
effectually to turn Africa into a ravaged wilderness. Some evi-
dences say, that the Africans are addicted to the practice of
gambling; that they even sell their wives and children, and
ultimately themselves. Are these then the legitimate sources of
slavery ? Shall we pretend that we can thus acquire an honest
right to exact the labour of these people ? Can we pretend
that we have a right to carry away to distant regions, men of
whom we know nothing by authentic enquiry, and of whom
there is every reasonable presumption to think, that those who
sell them to us, have no right to do so ? But the evil does not
stop here. I feel that there is not time for me to make all
the remarks which the subject deserves, and I refrain from
attempting to enumerate half the dreadful consequences of this
system. Do you think nothing of the ruin and the miseries in
which so many other individuals, still remaining in Africa, are
involved in consequence of carrying off so many myriads of
people ? Do you think nothing of their families which are left
behind? of the connections which are broken ? of the friendships,
attachments, and relationships that are burst asunder ? Do you
think nothing of the miseries in consequence, that are felt from
generation to generation ? of the privation of that happiness
which might be communicated to them by the introduction of
civilisation, and of mental andmoral improvement? A happi-
ness which you withhold from them so long as you permit the
slave-trade to continue. What do you yet know of the internal



state of Africa ? You have carried on a trade to that quarter
of the globe from this civilised and enlightened country ; but
such a trade, that, instead of diffusing either knowledge or wealth,
it has been the check to every laudable pursuit. Instead of any
flair interchange of commodities ; instead of conveying to them,
from this highly favoured land, any. means of improvement, you
carry with you that noxious plant by which every thing is withered
and blasted ; under whose shade- nothing that is useful or pro-
fitable to Africa will ever flourish or take root. Long as that
continent has been known to navigators, the extreme line and
boundaries of its coasts is all with which Europe is yet become
acquainted; while other countries in the same parallel of latitude,
through a happier system of intercourse,have reaped the blessings
of a mutually beneficial commerce. But as to the whole interior
of that continent you are, by your own principles of commerce,
as yet entirely shut out: Africa is known to you only in its skirts.
Yet even there you arch

able to infuse a poison that spreads its
contagious effects from one end of it to the other, which 'pene-
trates to its very centre, corrupting every part towhich it reaches.
You there subvert the whole order of nature ; you aggravate
every natural barbarity, and furnish to every man living on that
continent, motives for committing, under the name and pretext of
commerce, acts of perpetual violence and perfidy against his

Thus, Sir, has the perversion of British commerce carried

misery instead of happiness to one whole quarter of the globe.
False to the very principles of trade, misguided in our policy,
and unmindful of our duty, what astonishing — I had almost
said, what irreparable mischief, have we brought upon that
continent ? I would apply this thought to the present question.
How shall we ever repair this mischief? How shall we hope
to obtain, if it be possible, forgiveness from Heaven for those
enormous evils we have committed, if we refuse to make use of
those means which the mercy of Providence hath still reserved to
us for wiping away the guilt and shame with which we are now
covered ? If we refuse even this degree of compensation, if,

VOL. I. c c

5t33 1'ITT'S [APRIL 2.

knowing the miseries we have caused, we refuse even now to put
a stop to them, how greatly aggravated will be the guilt of
Great Britain! and what a blot will the history of these trans-
actions for ever be in the history of this country ! Shall we then
oELAy. to repair these, injuries, and; to, begin rendering this
justice to Africa ? Shall we not count, (he days and hours that
are suffered- to intervene and to delay the accomplishment of
such a work ? Reflect, what an immense object is before you —
what en object for a nation to have in view, and to have a prof
4pect„, under the favour of Providence, of being now permitted to
attain ! I think, the, House will agree with me in cherishing the
ardent wish to enter without delay upon the measures necessary
for these great ends: and I am sure that the immediate . abolition
of the slave-trade is the first, the principal, the most indispen-
sable act of policy, of duty, and of justice, that the legislature of
this, country has, to take, if it is indeed their wish to secure those
important objects . to which I have alluded, and which we are
bound to pursue by the most solemn obligations:

There is, however, one argument set up as an.universatanswer
to every thing that can be urged on . our side; whether we address
ourselves to gentlemen's . understandings, or to their hearts and
consciences., Itisnecessary I should remove this formidable . ob-
jection; for though not often stated in distinct terms, I fear it is
one which has a very wide influence. The slave-trade system,
it, is: supposed, has taken so deep root in Africa, that it is
absurd to, think of its being eradicated ; and the abolition of
OA share of trade carried on by. Great Britain (and espe-
cially, if her, example is not followed by other powers) is likely.
to; be of, very, little service. Give me leave. to say, in answer
to so dangerous; an argument, that we ought to be extrercely
sure indeed, of the, assumption on which it rests, before, , we
venture, to . rely on its validity ; before we decide that an evil
which we ourselVeS,OntatIte to inflict is incurable, and, onthat
very. plea refuse to desist from bearing our part. ip the, system
which produces it. You are not sure, it is- said, that other
nations will give up the trade, if you should renounce . it. I


answer, if this trade is as criminal as it is asserted to bei or
if' it has in it a -thousandth part of the criminality, which I
and others, after thorough inVestigation of the subject, Charge
upon it, God forbid that we should hesitate in determining - to
relinquish so iniquitous a traffic, even though it should be
retained by other countrieS! God forbid, however, that we should
fail to do our utmost towards inducing Other countries to aban-
don a bloody /commerce Which' they have probably been in
great measure led by our example to pursue ! God forbid,
that we should be capable of wishing to arrogate to ourselves
the glory of being singular in renouncing it !

I tremble at the thought of gentlemen's indulging themselves
in this argument (an argument as pernicious as it is futile) which
Lam combating. " We are friends," say they,- " to humanity:
We are second to none of you in our zeal fin' the good of Africa,
—but the French will not abolish, — the Dutch will not abolish.
We wait, therefore, on prudential principles, till they join us, or
set us an example."

How, Sir, is this enormous evil ever to be eradicated, if every
nation is thus prudentially to Wait till- the concurrence of all the
world shall have been obtained ?— Let me remark too, that there
is no nation in Europe that has, on the one hand, plunged so
deeply into this guilt as Britain; or that is so- likely, on the
other, to be looked up to as an example, if she should have the
manliness to be the first in decidedly renouncing it. But, Sir,
does not this argument apply a thousand times Mere strongly
in a contrary way ? How much more justly may other nations
point to us, and say, " Why should we abolish the slave,trad.e
when Great Britain has not abolished ? Britain, free at she ia,
just and honourable as she is, and deeply also involved es
she is in this commerce above all nations, not only liar not
abolished, but has refused to — She has investigated it
well ; she has gained the derhpleteaf insight into its nature and
effects ; she has collected- volumes of evidence on every branch
of the subject. Her senate has deliberated — has' deliberated
again and.

again — and what' is the result? She has gravely fold
c c

388 MR. PITT'S [Aran. 2.

solemnly determined to sanction the slave-trade. She sanctions
it at least for a while her legislature, therefore, it is plain,
sees no guilt in it, and has thus furnished .us with the strongest
evidence that she can furnish, — of the justice unquestionably,
— and of the policy also, in a certain measure and in certain
cases at least, of permitting this traffic to continue."

This, Sir, is the argument with which we furnish the other
nations of Europe, if we again refuse to put an end to the slave-
trade. Instead, therefore, of imagining, that by choosing to pre-
sume on their continuing it, we shall have exempted ourselves
from guilt, and have transferred the whole criminality to them ;
let us rather reflect that on the very principle urged against us,
we shall henceforth have to answer for their crimes, as well as
our own. We have strong reasons to believe that it depends
upon us, whether other countries will persist in this bloody trade
or not. Already we have suffered one year to pass away, and
now that the question is renewed, a proposition is made for gra-
dual, with the view of preventing immediate abolition. I know
the difficulty that exists in attempting to reform long-established
abuses; and I know the danger arising from the argument in
favour of delay, in the case of evils which nevertheless are thought
too enormous to be borne, when considered as perpetual. But
by proposing some other period than the present, by prescribing
some condition, by waiting for some contingency, or by refusing
to proceed till a thousand favourable circumstances unite toge-
ther; perhaps until we obtain the general concurrence of Europe
(a concurrence which I believe never yet took place at the com-:
mencement of any one improvement in policy or in morals)
year after year escapes, and the most enormous evils go mire-
dressed. We see this abundantly exemplified, not only in public,
but in private life. Similar observations have been applied to
the case of personal reformation. If you go into the streets, it is
a chance but the first person who crosses you is one, " Vivendi
recta gui prorogat horam." We may wait ; we may delay to
cross the stream before us, till it has run down ; but we shall wait
for ever, for the river will still flow on, without being exhausted.


We shall be no nearer the object which we profess to have in
view, so long as the step which alone can bring us to it is not
taken. Until the actual, the only remedy is applied, we ought
neither to flatter ourselves that we have as yet thoroughly laid
to heart the evil we affect to deplore ; nor that there is as yet
any reasonable assurance of its being brought to an actual ter-

It has also been occasionally urged, that there is something
in the disposition and nature of the Africans themselves, which
renders all prospect of civilisation on that continent extremely
unpromising. " It has been known," says Mr. Frazer in his
evidence, " that a boy has been put to death, who was refused to
be purchased as a slave." This single story was deemed by that
gentleman a sufficient proof of the barbarity of the Africans, and
of the inutility of abolishing the slave-trade. My honourable
friend, however, has told you, that this boy had previously run
away from his master three several times ; that the master had to
pay his value, according to the custom of his country, every trine
he was brought back ; and that partly from anger at the boy for
running away so frequently, and partly to prevent a still further
repetition of the same expense, he determined to put him to
death. Such was the explanation of the story given in the
cross-examination. This, Sir, is the signal instance that has
been dwelt upon of' African barbarity. — This African, we ad-
mit, was unenlightened, and altogether barbarous : but let us
now ask, what would a civilised and enlightened West Indian, or
a body of West Indians, have done in any case of a parallel
nature ? I will quote you, Sir, a law passed in the West Indies,
in the year 1722, which, in turning over the book, I happened
just now to cast my eye upon; by which law, this very same
crime of running away, is, by the legislature of the island, —
by the grave and deliberate sentence of that enlightened' legis-
lature, punished with death ; and this, not in the case only
of the third offence, but ever in the very first instance. It is
enacted, " that it' any negro, or other slave shall withdraw him-
self from his master, for the term of six months; or any slave

cc 3

390 MR. PITT'S [APRIL 21

that was absent, shall not return within that time, it shall be
adjudged felony, and every such person shall suffer death."
There is also another West Indian law; by which every negro's
hand is armed against his fellow-negroes, by his being autho-
rised to kill a runaway slave, and even having a reward held out
to him for doing so. Let the House now contrast the two cases.
Let them ask themselves which of the two exhibits the greater
barbarity ? Let them reflect, with a little candour and libe-
rality, whether on the ground of any of those facts, and loose
insinuations as to the sacrifices to h.e met with in the evidence,
they can possibly reconcile to themselves the excluding of Africa
from all means of civilisation ? Whether they can possibly vote
for the continuance of the slave-trade upon the principle, that
the Africans have shewn themselves to be a race of incorrigible

I hope, therefore, we shall hear no more of the moral impos-
sibility of civilising the Africans, nor have our understandings
and. consciences again insulted, by being called upon to sanction
the slave-trade, until other nations shall have set the example
of abolishing it. While we have been deliberating upon the
subject, one nation., not ordinarily taking the lead in politics,
nor by any means remarkable for the boldness of its councils,
has determined on a gradual abolition ; a determination, indeed,
which, since it permits for a time the existence of the slave-
trade, would be an unfortunate pattern for our imitation.
France, it is said, will take up the trade, if we relinquish it.
What! is it supposed that in the present situation of St. Do-
mingo, of an island which used to take three-fourths of all the
slaves required by the colonies of France, she, of all countries,
will think of taking it up? What countries remain ? The Portu-
guese; the Dutch, and the Spaniards. Of those countries let
me declare it is my opinion, that if they see us renounce the
trade, after full deliberation, they will not be disposed, even on
principles of policy, to rush further into it. But I say more :
How are they to. furnish the capital necessary for carrying it on ?
If there is any aggravation of our guilt, in this wretched


business, greater than another, it is that we have stooped to be
the carriers of these miserable beings from Africa to the West
Indies for all the other powers of Europe. A.tid now, Sir, if
we retire from the trade altogether, - .I ask, where 'is that futia
which is to be raised at once by other nations, equal to the pur-
chase of 30 or 40,000 slaves? A fund, which if we rate them at
•,01. or 501. each; cannot make a capital of less than a Million
and a half, or two millions of money. From what branch of their
commerce is it that these European nations Will draw togetheiqt
fund to feed this monster ? — to keep alive this detestable coin-
merce ? And even if they should make the attempt, will not
that immense chasm, which must instantly be created in the
other parts of their trade, front which this vast capital must be
withdrawn in order to supply the slave-trade, be filled up by
yourselves ? — Will not these branches of commerce which they
must leave, and from which they must withdraw their industry
mid their capitals, in order to apply them to the slave-trade, be
then taken up by British merchants ? Will foil not even in this
case find your capital flow into these deserted channels?-=- Will
not your capital be turned froth the slave-trade to that natural
and innocent commerce from which they must withdraw their
capitals, in proportion as they take up the traffic in the flesh and
blood. of their fellow,droatures?

The committee sees; I trust, how little ground of objection
to our proposition there is in this part of our adversaries' argu-

Having noW detaihed the House so long, all that I will fur-
ther add, shall be On that itOpOttaiit subject, the civilisation of
Africa, which I hate already sheifn that I consider as the lead.
ing feature in this cititititl: Grieved ern I to think that there
should be a single person in this country, much more that there.
should be a single member in the British parlianient, Who Can
look on the present dark, unctiltiVated, and tincivilised state of
that continent, as a ground'for continuing the slave-trade, — as
a ground not only for refusing to attempt the improvement of
Africa, but even for hindering and intercepting every ray of


392 MR. PITT'S [APRIL 2.
light which might otherwise break in upon her, as a ground
for,refusing to her the common chance and the common means,
with which other nations have been blessed, of emerging from
their native barbarism.

Here, as in every other branch of this extensive question, the
argument of our adversaries pleads against them ; for, surely,
Sir, the present deplorable state of Africa, especially when we
reflect that her chief calamities are to be ascribed to us, calls for
our generous aid, rather than justifies any despair on our part of
her recovery, and still less any further repetition of our injuries.

I will not much longer fatigue the attention of the House; but
this point has impressed itself so deeply on my mind, that I must
trouble the committee with a few additional observations.• Are
we justified, I ask, on any one ground of theory, or by any one
instance to be found in the history of the world, from its very
beginning to this clay, in forming the supposition which I am
now combating ? Are we justified in supposing that the particu-
lar practice which we encourage in Africa, of men's selling
each other for slaves, is any symptom of a barbarism that-is
incurable ? -Are we justified in supposing that even the practice
of offering up human sacrifices proves a total incapacity for civi-
lisation? I believe it will be found, and perhaps much more
generally than is supposed, that both the trade in slaves, and the
still more savage custom of offering human sacrifices, obtained
in former periods, throughout many of those nations which now,
by the blessings of Providence, and by a long progression of im-
provements, are advanced the farthest in civilization. I believe,
Sir, that, if we will reflect an instant, we shall find that this
observation comes directly home to our own selves ; and that, on
the same ground on which we are now disposed to proscribe Africa
for ever from all possibility of improvement, we ourselves might,
in like manner, have been proscribed and for ever shut out from
all the blessings , which we now enjoy.

There was a time, Sir, which it may be fit sometimes to revive
in the remembrance of our countrymen, when even human sacri-
fices are said to have been offered in this island. But I would

peculiarly observe on this day, for it is a case precisely in point,
that the very practice of the slave-trade once prevailed among
us. Slaves, as we may read in Henry's History of Great Britain,
were formerly an established article of our exports. " Great
numbers," he says, " were exported like cattle, from the British
coast, and were to be seen exposed for sale in the Roman mar-
ket." It (lees not distinctly appear, by what means they were
procured ; but there was unquestionably no small resemblance,
in the particular point, between the case of our ancestors and
that of the present wretched natives of Africa—for the historian
tells you that " adultery, witchcraft, and debt were probably
some of the chief sources of supplying the Roman market with
British slaves—that prisoners taken in war were added to the
number—and that there might be among them some unfortunate
gamesters who, after having lost all their goods, at length
staked themselves, their wives, and their children." Every one
of these sources of slavery has been stated, and almost precisely
in the same terms, to be at this hour a source of slavery in
Africa. And these circumstances, Sir, with a solitary instance
or two of human sacrifices, furnish the alleged proofs, that
Africa labours under a natural incapacity for civilisation ; that
it is enthusiasm and fanaticism to think that she can ever enjoy
the knowledge and the morals of Europe ; that Providence never
intended her to rise above a state of barbarism : that Provi-
dence has irrevocably doomed her to be only a nursery for slaves
for us free and civilised Europeans. Allow of this principle, as
applied to Africa, and I should be glad to know why it might
not also have been applied to ancient and uncivilised Britain.
Why might not some Roman senator, reasoning on the prin-
ciples of some honourable gentlemen, and pointing to British
barbarians, have predicted with equal boldness, " There is a
people that will never rise to civilisation — there is a people
destined never to be free — a people without the understand-
ing necessary for the attainment of useful arts ; depressed
by the hand of nature below the level of the human species ;
and created to form a supply of slaves for the rest of the world."

394 AIR. PITT'S [Aran, 2.

Might not this have been said, according to the principles
which we now hear stated, in all respects as fairly and as truly
of Britain herself, at that period of her history, as it can now
be said by us of the inhabitants of Africa?

We, Sir, have long since emerged from barbarism—we have
almost forgotten that we were once barbarians — we are now
raised to a situation which exhibits a striking contrast to every
circumstance, by which a Roman might have characterised us,
and by which we now characterise Africa. There is indeed one
thing wanting to complete the contrast, and to clear us altogether
from the imputation of acting even to this hour as barbarians ;
for we continue to this hour a barbarous traffic in slaves ; we
continue it even yet in spite of all our great and Undeniable
pretensions to civilisation. We were once as obscure among
the nations of the earth, as savage in our manners, as debased
in our morals, as degraded in our understandings, as these un-
happy Africans are at present. But in the lapse of a long series
of years, by a progression slow, and for a time almost impercep-
tible, we have become rich in a variety of acquirements, favoured
above measure in the gifts of Providence, unrivalled in commerce,
pre-eminent in arts, foremost in the pursuits of philosophy and
science, and established h all the blessings of civil society ; we
are in the possession of peace, of happiness, and of liberty ; we
are under the guidance of a mild and beneficent religion ; and
we are protected by impartial laws, and the purest admini-
stration of justice : we are living under a system of government
which our own happy experience leads us to pronounce the best
and wisest which has ever yet been framed ; a system which has
become the admiration of the world. From all these blessings,
we must for ever have been shut out, had there been any troth in
those principles which some gentlemen have not hesitated to lay
down as applicable to the case of Africa. Had those principles
been true, we ourselves had languished to this hour in that
miserable state of ignorance, brutality, and degradation, in
which history proves our ancestors to have been immersed.
Had other nations adopted these principles in their conduct



towards us ; had other nations applied to Great Britain the rea-
soning which some of the senators of this very island now apply
to Africa, ages might have Passed without our emerging from
barbarism ; and we, who are enjoying the blessings of British
civilisation, of British laws, and British liberty, might at this
hour have been little superior either in morals, in knowledge,
or refinement, to the rude inhabitants of the coast of Guinea.

If then we feel that this perpetual confinement in the fetters of
brutal ignorance, would have been the greatest calamity which
could have befallen us; if we view with gratitude and exultation
the contrast between the peculiar blessings we enjoy, and the
wretchedness of the ancient inhabitants of Britain; if we shud-
der to think of the misery which would still have overwhelmed
us, had Great Britain continued to the present times to be the
mart for slaves to the more civilised nations of the world,
through some cruel policy of theirs, God forbid that we should
any longer subject Africa to the same dreadful scourge, and
preclude the light of knowledge, which has reached every other
quarter of the globe, from having access to her coasts !

I trust we shall no longer continue this commerce, to the de-
struction of every improvement on that wide continent ; and
shall not consider ourselves as conferring too great a boon, in
restoring its inhabitants to the rank of human beings. I trust
we shall not think ourselves too liberal, if, by abolishing the
slave-trade, we give them the same common chance of civili-
sation with other parts of the world, and that we shall now allow
to Africa the opportunity—the hope—the prospect of attaining
to the same blessings which we ourselves, through the favour..
able dispensations of Divine Providence, have been permitted, at
a much more early period, to enjoy. Sf we listen to the voice of
reason and duty, and pursue this night the line of conduct which
they prescribe, some of us may live to see a reverse of that pit-
lure, from which we now turn our eyes with shame and regret.
We may live to behold the natives of Africa engaged in the calm
occupations of industry, in the pursuits of a just and legitimate
commerce. We may behold the beams of science and philo-

896 PITT'S [APRIL '2o

sophy breaking in upon their land, which, at some happy period
in still later times, may blaze with full lustre ; and joining their
influence to that of pure religion, may illuminate and invigorate
the most distant extremities of that immense continent. Then
may we hope that even Africa, though last of all the quarters of
the globe, shall enjoy at length, in the evening of her days, those
blessings which have descended so plentifully upon us in a much
earlier period of the world. Then also will Europe, partici-
pating in her improvement and prosperity, receive an ample
recompense for the tardy kindness (if kindness it can be called)
of no longer hindering that continent from extricating herself
out of the darkness which, in other more fortunate regions, has
been so Much more speedily dispelled.


Nos primes equis oriens aalavit anhelis ;
lllic sera rubens accendit lumina Vesper.

Then, Sir, may be applied to Africa, those words, originally
used indeed with a different view :

His de»zum exactis
Devenere locos lcetos, et ameena vireta
Fortunatorum nemorum, sedesque beatas :
Largior hie canzpos ;Ether, et linzine vestit

It is in this view, Sir, it is as an atonement for our long and
cruel injustice towards Africa, that the measure proposed by my
honourable friend most forcibly recommends itself to my mind.
The great and happy change to be expected in the state of her
inhabitants, is, of all the various and important benefits of the
abolition, in my estimation, incomparably the most extensive
and important.

I shall vote, Sir, against the adjournment ; and I-shall also
oppose to the utmost every proposition, which in any way may
tend either to prevent, or even to postpone for an hour, the total
abolition of the slave-trade : a measure which, on all the various


grounds Which I have stated, we are bound, by the most press-
ing and indispensable duty, to adopt.

The House divided on an amendment moved by Mr. Dundas, for in-
serting in the motion the word " gradually,"


Noes 125•

and the question thus amended was then put, and, after a second divi,
shin, carried.

Ayes '230
Noes 85

February I. 1793.

The order of the day being moved for taking into consideration His.
Majesty's message of the 28th of January, it was read by the Speaker,
as follows :

" His Majesty has given directions for laying before the House of

Commons, copies of several papers which have been received from NI.
Chauvelin, late minister-plenipotentiary from the Most Christian King,
by His Majesty's secretary of state for foreign affairs, and of the answers
returned thereto; and likewise copy of an order made by His Majesty
in council, and transmitted by His Majesty's commands te the said M.
Chauvelin, in consequence of the accounts of the atrocious act recently
perpetrated at Paris,

" In the present situation of affairs, His Majesty thinks it indispen-
sably necessary to make a further augmentation of his forces by sea and
land ; and relies on the known affection and zeal of the House of Com-
mons to enable His Majesty to take the most effectual measures in the
present important conjuncture, 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
peculiarly so, when connected with the propagation of principles which
lead to the violation of the most sacred duties, and are utterly subver.
sive of the peace and order of all civil society.

G. R.."
Mr. PITT then rose :

Sir — I shall now submit to the House some observations on


the many important objects which arise out of the communication
of His Majesty's message, and out of the present situation of this
country. And in proceeding to the consideration of that mes-
sage, the attention of the House should, in the first instance, be
strongly directed to that calamitous event *, to . that dreadful
outrage against every principle of religion, of justice, and of
humanity, which has created one general sentiment of indig-
nation and abhorrence in every part of this island, and most
undoubtedly has produced the same effect in every civilised

At the same time I am aware, that I should better consult not
only my own feelings, but those of the House, if considerations
of duty would permit me to draw a veil over the whole of this
transaction, because it is, in fact, in itself, in all those circum-
stances which led to it, in all that attended it, and in all which
have followed, or which are likely to follow it hereafter, so full
of every subject of grief and horror, that it is painful for the
mind to dwell upon it. It is a subject which, for the honour of
human nature, it would be better, if possible, to dismiss from
our memories, to expunge from the page of history, and to
conceal it, both now and hereafter, from the observation of
the world. ,

Excidat ilk dies avo, neu postera credant
Secula ; nos certe -taceamas, et obruta multa
Nocte tegi nostra patiamur crimina gentis.

These, Sir, are the words of a great historian of France in a
former period, and were applied to an occasion which had always
been considered as an eternal reproach to the French nation ;
and the atrocious acts , lately perpetrated at Paris are, perhaps,
the- only instances that furnish any match to that dreadful and
complicated scene of proscription and blood. But whatever may

3 The murder of the King of France.
-I- Dc Thou, who applies these words to the massacre of St. Bartholo-

mew, and•wishes-that day could be blotted out of the history of France.

be our feelings on this subject, since, alas ! it is not possible that
the present age should not be contaminated with its guilt; since
it is not possible that the knowledge of it should not be conveyed
by the breath of tradition to posterity, there is a duty which we
are called upon to perform— to enter our solemn protestation,
that, on every principle by, which men of justice and honour
are actuated, it is the foulest and most atrocious deed which
the history of the. world has yet had occasion to attest.
. There is another duty immediately relating to the interest of
this and of every other country. Painful as it is to dwell upon
this deed, since we cannot conceal what has happened, either
from the view of the present age or of posterity, let us not de-
prive this. nation of the benefit that may be derived from reflect-
ing on some of the dreadful effects of those principles which. are
entertained and propagated with so much care and industry by a

- neighbouring country. "Wo see in this one instance concentrated
together, the effect of principles, which originally rest upon
grounds that dissolve whatever has hitherto received the best
sanctions of human legislation, which are contrary to every prin-
ciple of law, human and divine. Presumptuously relying on
their deceitful and destructive theories, they have rejected every,
benefit which the world has hitherto received from the effect
either of reason, experience, or even of Revelation itself. The
consequences ofthese principles have been illustrated by having
been carried. into- effect in the single person of one, whom every
human being commiserates. Their consequences equally tend
to shake the security of commerce, to rob the meanest indivi-
dual in every country of whatever is most dear and valuable
to him.

They strike. directly against the authority of all regular go-
vernment, and the inviolable personal situation of every law-
ful sovereign. I do feel it, therefore, not merely a tribute due to
humanity,.not merely, an effusion of those feelings which I pos-
sess, in-common with every Man in this country, but I hold it to be
a proper subject of reflection to fix our minds on the effect of
those principles which have been thus dreadfully attested, before

400 MR. PITT'S [FEB. I,

we proceed to consider of the measures which it becomes this
country to adopt, in order to avert their contagion,• and to pre-
vent their growth and progress in Europe.

However, notwithstanding that I feel strongly on this subject,
I would, if possible, entreat of the House to consider even that
calamitous event rather as a subject of reason and reflection,
than of sentiment and feeling. Sentiment is often unavailing,
but reason and reflection will lead to t