181 4.


-r -

ti THE










Strahxn and Preston,
Printers-Street, London.




,......e.., Page

Nov. lo. Treason and Sedition Bills I
16. The Same 9

17. The Same 16
23. The Same z8
24. The Same

25. The Same


27. The Same

3o. The Same

Dec. 3. The Same 61

ro. The Same

Nov. z3. Mr. Reeves's Libel on the British Constitution 8o

z6. The Same 85

Dec. 4. The Same 87
9 . King's Message respecting a Negotiation with

the present Government of France

4. Mr. Whitbread's Bill to regulate the Wages of
Labourers in Husbandry


Feb. tz. The Same

15. Mr. Grey's Motion for Peace with France

18. Abolition
of the Slave Trade 116

March 15. The Same

Feb- 26. Mr. William Smith's Motion respecting the Loan 132
March 4. Mr. Curwen's Bill for the Repeal of the Game


April 29. The Same


March 22. Duties on
Legacies of Personal Estates


April 5. The Same

8. General Smith's Motion respecting the Expen-
diture of Public Money in Barracks

II. Mr. Francis's Motion respecting the better Re-

of Slaves in the West Indies ...... ..., 156








May 27•

Feb. 29.
March 15.
April 23.
June IS.

Feb. i8.
April 8.
May 14.

June 20.


Jan. 27.
March 3.

April 23.
May I.


June to.

Mr. Fox's Motion respecting the Mediation of


Volunteer Consolidation Bill
Naval Administration of' Earl St. Vincent
Mr. Fox's Motion on the Defence of the Country
Additional Force Bill
List of the New Administration

Property Tax
Proceedings respecting Lord Melville
Mr. Fox's Motion for referring the Petition of

the Roman Catholics of Ireland to a Com-

Mr. Grey's Motion on the State of Public Af-

Continental Alliances





Funeral Honours to the Memory of Mr. Pitt

List of the New Administration

Lord Ellenborough's Appointment to a Seat in
the Cabinet

King's Message on the War with Prussia

Slave Importation Bill

Property Tax

Limited Service in the Army

Abolition of the Slave Trade



May 5. Duty on Succession to Real Estates
The Same

6. Mr. Grey's Charges against Ministers relative to
the Expenditure of Public Money

Jo. Mr. Fox's Motion on the Conduct of the War
with France

Oct. 6. Address on the King's Speech at the Opening

of the Session

18. Invasion - Augmentation of the Militia

31. The Same

Dec. 7. Budget for 1797 - Terms of the Loan - Ad-

vances to the Emperor without the Consent
of Parliament

8. The Same

14. Mr. Fox's Motion of Censure on Ministers for

advancing Money to the Emperor without
the Consent of Parliament

30. Mr. Fox's Amendment to the Address on the

King's Message respecting the Rupture of
the Negociation for Peace with France ......


Feb. 27. Stoppage of Cash Payments at the Bank
28. The Same ............

March z3. Mr. Harrison's Motion for the Reduction of
Useless Places, Sinecure Offices, &c.

23. Mr. Fox's Motion on the State of Ireland
April to. Mr. Pollen's Motion for Peace with France

May 23. Mr. Fox's Motion for the Repeal of the Trea-
son and Sedition Bills

26. Mr. Grey's Motion for a Reform in Parliament
Dec. 14. Assessed Taxes Bill


3. King's Message respecting Overtures of Peace
from the Consular Government of France

March 25. Mr. Grey's Motion on the State of the Nation

List of the New Administration


3. Address on the Preliminaries of Peace with the
French Republic

March 16. Character of the Duke of Bedford

29. Arrears of the Civil List


May 24. Mr. Grey's Amendment to the Address on the
King's Message relative to the War with







<ST' cfS'c'


November 1795.
TNconsequence of the indignities offered to his majesty in his

way to and from the House of Peers on the first day of the
session, a proclamation was issued on the 31st of October, offering
a thousand pounds for the discovery of any person guilty of those
outrages. On the 4th of November it was followed by another,
wherein it was said, that previously to the opening of parliament,
multitudes had been called together by hand-bills and advertise-
ments, who met in the vicinity of the metropolis, where inflamma-
tory speeches were made, and -divers means used to sow discontent
and excite seditious proceedings. These meetings and discourses
were followed three days after by the most daring insults to the
king, by which his person had been imminently endangered. Ru-
mours had also been spread, that assemblies were to be held by
disaffected people for illegal purposes. In consequence of those
proceedings, it was enjoined by the proclamation to all magis-
trates, and well affected subjects, to exert themselves in prevent-
ing and suppressing all unlawful meetings, and the dissemination
of seditious writings. So great had been the alarm and indigna-
tion, created by the treatment of the king, that as soon as he had
gone through the reading of his speech, and had left the House,ictoNi visalsiltiamttitoiendi‘avtaes held by to be cleared of all strangers, and a

eld by the lords, in what manner to proceed

an occasion. An address to the king was re-


to alul a conference with the House of Commons to
request their concurrence therein. The majority agreed in this
measurefore ; but the Marquis of Lansdowne accused the ministers of

seize this opportunity to work upon the passions andfears
the people, and to lead their representatives into conees-


sions derogatory to the public liberty, and debasing to their cha-
racter, in order to confirm their own power at the expense of the
constitution. A conference with the Commons was held accord-
ingly in the course of the day, and witnesses were examined in
relation to the outrages committed. Their evidence was commu-
nicated to the Commons, and both houses unanimously concurred
in the addresses proposed.

On the 6th of November, Lord Grenville introduced a bill into
the House of Lords, for better securing the king's person and
government. The motive he alleged was, the necessity of pre-
venting abuses similar to those that had taken place on the opening
of the session. He explicitly attributed them to the licentious
language and maxims held forth in the meetings, which had been
so long suffered, without due notice on the part of the legislature,
but which were now arrived to such a degree of insolence, that
they required immediate restriction. He would recur on this
occasion, he said, to precedents framed. in approved times, the
reign of Elizabeth, and the commencement of the reign of
Charles II. In order more effectually to obviate so great an evil,
he would move the passing of a bill, which he produced, and
which was entitled, " An act for the safety and preservation of
his majesty's person and government against treasonable and
seditious practices . and attempts."

On the 9th of November, Mr. Pitt moved in the House of
Commons, that the royal proclamations in consequence of the
late riot, should be taken into consideration. He grounded his
motion on the necessity of preventing such insults being offered to
the sovereign, as he had experienced on the opening of the session.
He presumed every loyal subject would unite with him on this oc-
casion, and that methods would be taken to obviate those causes
from whence the outrages proceeded, which were the factious
meetings of disaffected people, wherein seditious discourses were
constantly held, and principles maintained utterly subversive of
good order and obedience to government. The pretence of these
meetings was to petition the legislature for rights withheld from
the people; but the real motive was, to promulgate opinions,
inimical to government, and calculated to bring it into contempt.
If' the executive power were not invested with sufficient authority
to controul these meetings, they would finally endanger the exist-
ence of the state. The rights of the people doubtless ought to
be respected, but it was equally indispensable to obviate their
abuse. The question before the House was, Mr. Pitt said,
Whether the pressure of the moment did not require an instant
remedy? A precise and acknowledged power was wanting in.
the magistrate to disperse such meetings as threatened disorders.
This power indeed ought not to extend to meetings held for lawful
purposes, but only to authorize him to watch over the proceedings
of any large assembly, whatever might be the object of those
who assembled. To this intent, notice should be given to the
magistrate previously to the intended meeting; he should be em-
powered to be present, and if it appeared of a seditious tendency,
to seize the guilty on the spot; to obstruct. him should. be made


felony ; and if the meeting did not disperse at his command, the
penalties provide d in the riot-act should be. inflicted on the re-There was, Mr. Pitt added, another species of meeting,f ractory.
ICnoeiisisting of persons who attended public lectures on political

;subjects the lecturers were mca notoriously disaffected to go-
vernment, and the doctrines they delivered were calculated to
instil the rankest principles of resistance and rebellion to the
established powers. In order to obviate this effectually, the act
against disorderly houses should be applied to meetings of this
kind, whenever they exceeded, by a number to be stated in the
act, the real family of the House. Mr. Pitt concluded with
moving, " That leave be given to bring in a bill for the more ef-
fectually preventing seditious meetings and assemblies." As soon
as the Speaker had read the motion,

Mr. Fox said. he trusted it was unnecessary for him to.pre7
face what lie had to say, by a declaration which he hoped, for
every member of that House, was equally unnecessary; that
he felt as much horror at the attempt which was made against
his majesty as any man in the kingdom; quite as much as arty
man who might move, who might second, or who might sup-
port the bill, which it seemed was to be offered to the House.
Having agreed so far with the minister that night, there lie
must take his leave of him. lie did not think he should well
express his feelings, if he declared that his indignation at
what had happened even on that day, was more than equal to
what he felt from what he had heard this night. The right
honourable gentleman had adverted to a bill, at that time in
the other House; which was stated to have for its object the
better security of his majesty's person, and on which, it was
probable the House would have some communication with
their lordships. He believed it would be difficult for the
right honourable gentleman to shew the necessity for that bill,
if he meant to ground that necessity upon the assumption that
what happened on the first day of the session was Sin conse-
quence of what passed at meetings to-which he had alluded.
He disapproved highly of all these experiments, which were
professed to be intended as securities for the enjoyment of all
the blessing's of our constitution. He knew the constitution
had existed for ages sufficiently guarded by the law as it now
stood, and therefore, if the right honourable gentleman had
not opened his plan, which, he declared, struck him with
horror; if he had not said a single word upon that detestable
plan, he should have given his negative to the proposition in

breaches of

because the proposition itself laid it down as an
assumed fact, that the law at present is insufficient to prevent

t le public peace. It was said, that a seditious
meeting had been held somewhere in the neighbourhood of

n 2,


the metropolis a few days previous to the meeting of parlia-
ment; that at such meeting very alarming -proceedings had
taken place, striking at the very existence of parliament itself.
That such proceedings took place he did not know; but, this
he knew, if speeches were made that had such a tendency,
the speakers were amenable to the law. If hand-bills were
distributed that 'had such a tendency, the distributors were
amenable to the law. If any person had so conducted him-
self as to be the means of causing the people so assembled to
form a resolution, having such a tendency, he was amenable
to the law, and, when proved guilty, was liable to adequate
punishment. But this bill was to proceed upon the flimsy
pretext, that all the violence and outrage that had been
offered to his majesty was the result of this meeting, of which
there was not the colour of proof. He knew, indeed, that
the right honourable gentleman had attempted to connect-
them; he knew, too, there had been, and would 1.)e endea-
vours to confound the two things.

It was, Mr. Fox said, ridiculous to talk of these things
being perfectly notorious; that these proceedings were clearly
seditious; they were points upon which that House could not
regularly proceed, for they were points on which there was
no proof. Nothing was more clear than that the House of
Commons ought never to proceed upon any measure that
might trespass upon the rights of the public, without evi-
dence that was decisive, even in cases of extreme necessity;
but there was no evidence whatever to connect any of the
proceedings of these meetings with the daring insult offered to
his majesty. The right honourable gentleman had said, Should
not the House endeavour to prevent the repetition of such an
insult ? Undoubtedly it should. But then it should be upon
evidence; and here the right of persons to meet any where
to consult on public measures, was to be affected in conse-
quence of what happened to his majesty on the first clay of
the session, although there was no evidence to prove that the
outrage arose from any proceedings that were had at any
public meeting previous to that day. Some persons, perhaps,.
might consider the proclamation itself as evidence. He could
agree to no such rule: he well knew there were those who
doubted the truth of the proclamations : who believed many
of them to be the acts of ministers for certain purposes of
their own ; and he was sure it was not regular in that House
to take things for granted, merely because they appeared in a

These were strong objections to proceeding upon this sub-ject without better evidence. All this, however, was trifling,
in comparison with what tile right honourable gentlenian had

subject. He had said, that there might be a

confessedcslalItlipltoynilebuses of

right. the Difficulty

of petitioning, and -to prevent
a ses



able gentleman talked

not embarrass licachimy
for, he said


l e


d with


Thus the right honour-


settled in
icn thethereo

they might
igelirt :

but tttlIel

on the rights of the subject, as.
if he expected to bring the public to submit to the most rigid
despotism. In that detail, Mr. Fox said, he would never take
a share, for he would never attend the detail of a measure
which in its essence was so detestable. The right honourable
gentleman had hinted at two points. With regard to the
first, that of public meetings for the discussion of public sub-
jects, he must not only confess them to be lawful, but must
allow them also to be agreeable to the very essence of the
British constitution, and to which, under that constitution,
most of the liberties we enjoyed were particularly owing.
The right honourable gentleman had said, that these meetings
were not to be prevented, they were only to be regulated.
" Attend," said Mr. Fox, " to the regulation. I thought I
knew the rights of man — aye, and the rights of Englishmen.
[Here was a prodigious cry of Hear ! hear What, said he,
that is a slip you suppose. The rights of man is a sentence
without a meaning. Do you say that men have no natural
rights ? If so, Englishmen's rights can have no existence ;
this House would have no existence. The rights of man, I
say, are clear; man has natural rights; and he who denies it
is ignorant of the basis of a free government; is ignorant of
the best principle of our constitution."

The people, he had always 'thought, had a right to discuss
the topics from which their grievances arose. In all instances,
they had a right to complain by petition, and to remonstrate
to either House of Parliament, or, if they pleased, to the
king exclusively ; but now, it seems, they are not to do so,
unless notice be given to a magistrate, that he may become a
witness of their proceedings. There were to be witnesses of
every word that every man spoke. This magistrate, this
jealous witness, was to form his opinion on the propriety of
the proceedings ; and if lie should think that any thing that
was said had a tendency to sedition, lie had power to arrest
the man who uttered it. Not only so, he was to have the

• ,•

power of dissolving the meeting at his own will. " Sa y at
once," said Mr. Fox, " that a free constitution is no longer
suitable us say at once, in a manly manner, that upon an
ample review of the state of the world at this moment, a free

k 1 .

senators isof


fit for you; conduct yourselves at once as
acknowlede, and enmar

; lay down your freedom, and
be ante accept of despotism. But do not mock the

13 3


understandings and the feelings of mankind, by telling the
world that you are free — by telling me that, if out of the
house, for the purpose of expressing my sense of the public
administration of this country, of the calamities which this

• war has occasioned, I state a grievance by petition, or make
any declaration of my sentiments, which I always had a right
to do; but which if I now do,. in a manner that may appear
to a magistrate to be seditious, I am to be subjected to pe-
nalties which hitherto were unknown to the laws of England.
If in stating any of these things out of the House, a magi-
strate should be of opinion that I am irregular, he is to have
the power to stop me: he may say — The cause which you
allege for your grievance is unfounded; you excite, by what
you say, jealousies and discontents that are unfounded ;' and
if I say what in his judgment or his wishes ought to be con-
cealed, he is to have a power-to stop me, and to treat me as
a rioter, if I do not obey him. I ask again, if this can be
called a meeting of free people ? Did ever a free people meet
so ? Did ever a free state exist so? Did any man ever
hypothetically state the possibility of the existence of freedom
under such restrictions? Good God Almighty, Sir! is it
possible that the feelings of the people of this country should
be thus insulted ? Is it possible to make the people of this
country believe that this plan is any thing but a total annihi-
lation of their liberty ?"

The right honourable gentleman had next adverted to a
bill which had been passed to prevent the assembling of per-
sons for the discussion of questions on the Lord's day, from
which he was to bring in a bill to prevent the discussion of
questions on any day; and this, he said, was to be applicable
to all cases where money was to be taken. Why all questions
were to be prohibited where money was to be taken, merely
on an allegation that such questions might produce mischief;
was, he confessed, beyond his skill to understand. But this
was not all : it was to he applicable, it seemed, to places,
where no money was to be taken, because, in truth, persons
might be admitted by means of tickets; and they must not
amount to a number beyond a certain one which the minister
should be pleased to insert in his bill, unless duly licensed by
a magistrate. He would again ask — Was this, or was it
not, to prevent all political discussion whatever? Let them
spew him when this had obtained since the Revolution, or
at any time when this country could be called free. The
people are to be prevented from discussing public topics
publicly : they are to be prevented from discussing them
privately. If then, without this private intercourse or pub-
lic debate, the grievances of this ,country are to 'be kit,


and are such as to call forth a general desire that they should

what are the public to do? They must send,
it seems, a_ magistrate, and under they
n: e o




his good leave t
ermitted to proceed. [Here there was a cry

I er r t dreteo ,

from the treasury bench of No ! no " I do not mean,"
said Mr. Fox, " to overstate this power, God knows there is
no occasion for that, for there seems to be sufficient care
taken of magisterial authority in every step of this proceed
inc. Behold, then, the state of a free born Englishman
Before he can discuss any topic which involves his liberty,
he must send to a magistrate who is to attend the discussion.
That magistrate cannot prevent such meeting: but he can
prevent the speaking, because he can allege, that what is
said tends to disturb the peace and tranquillity of this realm.

' Sir, I hope this bill will never come into this House. I ant
not friendly to any thing that will produce violence. Those
who know me will not impute to me any such desire; but I
do hope, that this bill will produce an alarm; that while
we have the power of assembling, the people will assemble;
that while they have the power, they will not surrender it,
but come forward and state their abhorrence of the principle
of this proceeding; and those who do not, L pronounce to be
traitors to. their country. Good God, Sir, what madness,
what frenzy has overtaken the authors of this measure ! I will
suppose for a moment that the only object which they have
in view is the preventing a revolution in this country. But
that they should have proceeded upon a plan which has no
regard for the liberty of the people, no regard for the glo-
rious efforts of our ancestors, no regard for their maxims,
no esteem for the principles and the conduct which have Made
us what we are, or rather, if this bill be countenanced, what
we were, is to me astonishing ! For to proceed thus, in order
to suppress or prevent popular tumults, appears to me to be
the most desperate infatuation. Good God, Sin! We have
seen andowdin have heard of revolutions in different states. Were
t yto the freedom of popular opinions? Were they
Owing to the facility of popular meetings? No, Sir, they were
Owing to the reverse of these; and therefore I say, if we wish
to avoid the danger of such revolutions, we should put our-
selves in a state as different from them as possible. What
are we now doing? Putting ourselves in a condition nearly
resembling the periods when these revolutions happened.
In the reign of Charles I., the most interesting period to
which we can look in the history of this country, was free-
dora of speech indulged to any latitude; or were libels suf-
fered to pass without notice? On the contrary, were not both,
at that tune, punished with an extraordinary degree of ri7

B 4


gour? Is it the intention of ministers, by these arbitrary
measures, to bring the country into the same disastrous situ-
ation in which it was plunged during that unhappy reign?
It might have been hoped, that the impressive lessons of
modern times, and of events still fresh in their consequences,
had not yet been forgotten. Look to France before the
period of her revolution. Was it the facility of public meet-
ings, or the freedom of discussion granted to the subject, that
tended to produce that great change ? On the contrary, was
it not the absolute prerogative of the king? Was it not the
arbitrary power lodged in ministers? Was it not the oppres-
sive privilege of issuing Lettres de- Cachet against all who
dared to utter their sentiments, and complain of existing
grievances, that excited the indignation of the people and
accelerated the downfall of the monarchy? If, therefore, one
view on which the present measure is held out to your accep-
tance, be in order to prevent the troubles arising from the
frequency of popular assemblies, on that very ground ought
the friends of peace and of order to resist the adoption of
the measure. In countries where men may openly state their
grievances and boldly claim redress, the effect of their com-
plaints and remonstrances may, indeed, for a time be ob-
structed by the operation of ministerial corruption and in-
trigue; but perseverance must ultimately be effectual in pro-
curing them relief. But if' you take away all legal means of
obtaining that object, if you silence remonstrance and stifle
complaint, you then leave no other alternative but force and
violence. These are means so dreadful in their effects, that
it may be matter of question whether any good they produce
can possibly compensate for the evils with which they are
necessarily attended ; such means as scarcely even the best
cause can justify. Let us examine a little closely the argu-
ment on which so much stress is laid, namely, the danger that
may arise from a popular discussion of grievances. If the
pretext of grievances be groundless, and not warranted . by
any immediate pressure, the more it is discussed, the less
effect it will have in exciting discontent. But if you pre-
clude these political humours, if I may so call them, from
having a vent, you then leave no alternative but unconsti-
tutional submission, or actual violence. If ever there exists
a just cause of grievance, one or other must he adopted; a
tame acquiescence, incompatible with the spirit of freedom,
or an open resistance, subversive of the order of government.
I know that peace and quiet are the greatest of all blessings,
but I know also, that rational liberty is the only security for
their enjoyment. I admire the British constitution, because
it gives scope to the people to exercise the right of political



discussion ; not merely, with the permission of a magistrate,
or under the control of an executive force, but on all occasions
to state, in bold and plain words, the grievances which they
feel, and the redress which they desire. I have only now to
express my firm determination to oppose the bill in every
stage of its progress. And, in the first instance, I shall con-
ceive it necessary to move. for a call of the House, as it is
impossible for me to suffer a question, which involves so
material an alteration of the constitution, to pass in this
House, without solemnly calling on every member to give a
vote on the discussion.

The motion for leave to bring in the bill was also opposed by
Mr. Stanley, Mr. Maurice Robinson, Mr. Curwen, Mr. Sheridan,
and Mr. Grey. The House divided on the motion for leave to
bring in the bill :

Tellers. Tellers.
Mr. Grey

{Lord Belgrave

Mr. R. Stewart j 2I4--NoEs 1Mr. Sheridan} 42 ' •
Leave was accordingly given to bring in the bill, and, on the

motion of Mr. Fox, a call of the House on that day fortnight was
agreed to.

November 16.

The bill " for the safety and preservation of his majesty's person
and government, against treasonable and seditious practices and
attempts," passed the House of Lords this day, and was brought
down to the Commons. After it had been read a first time, Mr.
Sheridan, insisting that no proofs had been adduced to authorize
so harsh a measure, and that ministers had no right to bring
forward such a bill without the clearest proofs of its necessity,
moved, " That a committee be appointed to inquire into the
existence and extent of the danger of seditious meetings, as re-
ferred to in his majesty's proclamation." The motion for an
inquiry was opposed by Mr. Powys, Mr. Windham, Mr. Pitt, and
the attorney-general, as creating a delay that might be productive
of much danger. The tranquillity of the public, they said, re-
quired the promptest measures. The latter expressed great
solicitude in vindicating his conduct at the late trials : he insisted
on the propriety of the bill in question, which, he said, would, at
the most, prove the adoption of a lesser evil, to prevent a greater.


Air. laws of the land were, in his opinion, inadequate to
prevent the appearance of such publications as he had read, and
of such meetings as had been held ; new laws were of consequence

Air. Fox said, that as he did riot wish, in the present stage
of the business, unnecessarily to detain the House, he would


principally advert to what had fallen from the honourable,
and learned gentleman who had last spoken, who had gone
into a very wide field, and introduced different topics, partly
of a personal nature, and partly of a more general description,
as applying to the question before the House. He was not
one of those 'a ho thought that the attorney-general ought
not, in the recent instances, which had been referred to in
the course of debate, to have prosecuted for high treason.
The declaration of the two Houses on that subject was decisive.
Whenever it was the opinion of the attorney-general that
persons had been guilty of high treason, it was his bounden
duty to prosecute.. But itndid not follow, because those
persons had been acquitted of the crime of high treason, that
if they had been tried upon a different charge, they would
have been found guilty of a misdemeanor. He had no
doubt, that under this alteration of the charge, the jury would
have conscientiously exercised their judgment, and brought
in an honest verdict according to the circumstances of the
case. The honourable and learned gentleman said, that ac-
quittal did not disprove guilt. Fie was not one of those who
would contend that acquittal was a decisive or unequivocal
proof of innocence. In common cases there were many cir-
cumstances that might engender doubt as to the question of
guilt or innocence. First, when the existence of the offence
was ascertained, the difficulty was to prove by whom it had
been committed, to what particular quarter the guilt should
attach. Secondly, even when there was a moral certainty,
with respect to the authors of the offence, there was often ex-.
treme difficulty in bringing home the charge to the individual,
by legal proof: Neither of these circumstances, however, ex-
isted in the case of the individuals tried for high treason.
There could neither be doubt as to their persons, nor diffi-
culty in proving that they were the authors of the acts charged
against them. They were acquitted by a jury not less respect-

able than the committee of that House who had drawn up the
report respecting their proceedings. He would say not less
respectable, from their situation in life; and in his opinion,
not less respectable; because they were removed from those
objects of ambition which might be supposed to have had
some influence with the members of that committee, and
which some of them since might have been deemed pretty
well to have attained. In the course of the business, he had been
early convinced of the want of evidence sufficient to convict
those men, and had broadly stated his sentiments on that
subject ; but the honourable and learned gentleman had said,
that Mr. Erskine and Mr. Gibbs, the prisoners' counsel,
thought differently. For one of those gentlemen, from habits


of long intimacy, he entertained sentiments of the highest re-
gard and friendship ; of the other, from all, he had heard of
b iro, lie had been taught to think with the greatest respect.
But he should not have felt for one that ardent friendship, nor

ook{, he have deemed the other entitled to that sincere re-

s if, in a question of life and death, where they were

called upon to act as counsel, from any speculation of their
own, with respect to the guilt or innocence of the prisoners,
or With respect to the nature of evidence, they had neglected
to set up that defence which was infallibly- calculated to save
the lives of their clients. Was it in consequence of the result
of the trials that the bills were brought in ? He was told that
not from these trials only, but from their subsequent proceed-
ings the dangerous temper of these meetings had been proved,
and that their mischievous tendency could not be corrected,
except by some new legislative regulation. He would appeal
to ministers what had been the effect of the former regulations
they had adopted. Had they not suspended the habeas corpus
act, upon grounds which he must ever contend to be slight,
and such as by no means warranted so violent a measure?
Had they not afterwards renewed that suspension ? The sus-
pension, however, they had afterwards allowed to drop during
the interval of the sitting of parliament. He had congratu-
lated himself at the beginning of session, when he heard
his majesty talk of the spirit of order and submission to the
laws, which, with a very few exceptions, had discovered itself
among his faithful subjects. Coupling this declaration with
the conduct of ministers, in allowing the suspension of the
habeas corpus to drop, he had flattered himself that ministers
had now renounced the opinion, that the evil to be dreaded
from certain principles would be diminished by vigorous judi-
cial proceedings, and the prosecution of the war with France.
He did not think for his own part that the evil was in any de-
gree diminished ; but he conceived that ministers had begun
to form more just opinions on the subject, that they had begun
to perceive the folly and inefficacy of their former measures,
and to adopt in the course of their future' proceedings the
suggestions of a milder spirit and more enlightened policy.Unhappily, however, for the country, it appeared from the
present measure, that he had been mistaken in these expect-
_atinns. Was it in consequence of the meeting at Copenhagen-
house, or the meeting at St. George's Fields, that they had
been induced to brimg forward the present bills? Both these

eetings, he remarked, had taken place previous to the com-

ncement of the present session, when the ministers put into
the mouth of his majesty a declaration of the spirit of order
and submission to the law, which had manifested itself in the
country. Would they then say, that any thing which had



occurred at those meetings, was the ground of their pre-
sent measures? If they did say so, he defied even credulity
to believe them. He had stated, that notwithstanding the
prosecutions which had been carried on in this country ; not-
withstanding the still more disgraceful judicial proceedings in
Scotland, which exhibited a mere mockery of justice; still he
had hopes, from the conduct of ministers, in allowing the sus-
pension of the habeas corpus to drop, that that law would
be left to its course, and even that liberty would revive. But,
then, what had happened on the 2 9th of October — that out-
rage on his majesty, which they all equally deplored. He was

„tola that outrage was connected with the proceedings of cer-
tain societies. He was referred for proof to the coincidence
in point of time, and the notoriety of their transactions. Here



gence, which they might deem it essential for the interests or
safety of the state to communicate, and these he should set

down as useful or meritorious spies. There were others who
went certain lengths in order to acquire information, and
made certain sacrifices, in order the more completely to get
into the secrets of others ; these he should reckon at least
doubtful. But there wereaitha

iit.celd themselves

rt, -wl


creoo7 those w from they


wished to betray, not only affected
adt si imilarity of sentiment, but even spurred and goaded them on,
and prompted them to adopt more violent language and more
reprehensible propositions, than they would otherwise have
employed—of such characters there were no words in the

fioEnng LI which could sufficiently mark his contempt
detestation. This was the description of spy, which most

frequently appeared in the cases that solicited their notice—
the trials at the Old Bailey. In all instances, the spy had
been found the most furious in his sentiments, and the most
intemperate in his language. He had often been the exare-

' b
rated and falsifying reporter of those proceedings, of which
he himself had been prime mover and contriver. [The at-
torney-general here interrupted Mr. Fox, 'to tell him that an
information had been preferred against one of the witnesses

jfor perjury, but had not been proceeded upon by the grandury.] Mr. Fox resumed. It was no proof to him of the in-
nocence of the man, that a bill had not been found

.him. But he would here refer to the trial of Mr. Walker, of

Manchester, the proceedings on which were of such a na-
ture, that they made his blood run cold, whenever he read or
thought of them. Mr. Walker was not, indeed, put in peril
of his life, for it required the oaths of two witnesses to have
brought him to condign punishment; and fortunately for hu-
man nature, a second Dunn was not to be found. But he was
put in hazard of his character, his liberty, and his fortune;
and in the course of the trial it was found, that the person by
Novalitohnolfltileli, v

.accused was notoriously perjured. Yet on the
iy Irian., one of the name of Paul, had, for sometoilienec,obneveinet keptpt in prison. To be sure he was liberated upon

ation did ministers6:o

from the falsehood'e


perjury of his accuser. But what repar-


grant to this man, thus exposed to suffer,

their '

and corruption of' another ? It was, surely,

the di

, ,y of government to make amends' to the innocent indi-
ment, agfise,ounibltlis'e.tethe to the disgrace and hardships of confine-
were times MI:nc: r gence of ministers, or the depravity of

The honourable and learned gentleman said, that these
c I. ire could not contemplate without the most

he remarked, that while ministers declined giving that proof
to which the House was entitled, and which they ought to
have received before they consented to entertain a question of
such deep importance to the constitution, they brought a sort
of evidence which was worse than all ; evidence was brought
from a proclamation of the executive government. An at-
tempt was made so far to degrade the House, as to bring in a
bill upon the evidence of a proclamation of his majesty's mi-
nisters. Part of the honourable and learned gentleman's
speech he confessed had strongly affected him. He talked of
the contempt into which parliament had fallen. If parliament
were so careless of their duty, so lost to all sense of character
as to take a-proclamation of the executive government as evi-
dence of the facts, upon which they were to ground their pro-
ceedings, they would, indeed, deserve that contempt which
they were said to have incurred. The honourable and learned
gentleman had read a number of papers, in order to show the
atrocious spirit and dangerous views of the persons who com-
posed these meetings. It was a sort of evidence which he
confessed lie received with much suspicion, in consequence of
the distrust with which he was accustomed Ito receive every
Such communication from that quarter of the House. If such
facts existed, as had been stated by the honourable and learned
gentleman, why were they not brought before the House in
such a way as might constitute a proper ground for their pro-
ceedings? Why ought not the House to have the spies of
the right honourable gentleman at their bar, in order to ex-
amine them as to their report of the facts which might have
come under their inspection ? The honourable and learned
gentleman said that spies were instruments whom government
had at all times found necessary to employ. Mr. Fox ad-
mitted that there were different sorts of spies. First, there
were persons who might by chance be privy to sane intelli-


serious apprehensions with respect to the fate of all who were
dear to him. He confessed that he- did not think less se-
riously of the times than the honourable and learned gentle-
man. It bad been asked, whether it was filir to set down the
whole of the friends and supporters of ministers as in a con-
spiracy against the liberties of the country ? To this lie
would answer by another question, Did not the honour-
able and learned gentleman believe that there were in the Cor-
responding Society some men who were morally good, and
who were by no means actuated by those detestable views and
malignant passions, which were, upon every occasion, indis-
criminately ascribed to the whole of the body? So in the same
way lie might believe, that there were some supporters of mi-
nisters, who really meant well, though they were blind dupes
of the folly, or unconscious instruments of the wicked policy
of ministers. But though he by no means confounded every
supporter of ministers under the same censure, yet if lie saw a
rooted design on the part of ministers to invade the liberties
of the subject, followed up by successive efforts, all directed to
that object, he should think himself wanting in his duty, if
he did not take all peaceable means of stirring up opposition
on the part of the country t- the progress of their measures.
The honourable and learned gentleman had prefaced his
speech with different views of the nature of the British con-
stitution, in some of which he agreed with him, in others
he thought his own opinions more applicable. Ile agreed
with the honourable and learned gentleman, that the constitu-
tion was better adapted for the enjoyment of practical liberty
than that of any other country, but he rather thought that had
been the case formerly more than it was at present ; it would
be invidious to state any precise epoch when the alteration
began to be most manifest, yet without meaning any thing,
either personal or disrespectful to the king, he must state, that
from the time-o • the Revolution till the accession of his pre-
sent majesty to the throne, practical liberty had been greater
than it had been since, and that the system which had been
acted upon in this reign • was more hostile to liberty than that
acted upon during the period to which he had alluded. He
declared he could discover nothing in the present-state of
the country that could justify this new infringement on the
liberties of the subject intended by the bill. So far from it,
the power and influence of the crown were obviously so enor-
mons, that all the liberty that subsisted in the country was
preserved only by the freedom of speech and the liberty-of
the press; if either of these were given up, or in any degree
taken away, the only barrier -that we had against the annihi-
lation of liberty would be completely destroyed.



The operation of the present bill would interrupt the meet-
ing of clubs, occasional attendance on which formed the chief, if
1, 6t the sole, luxury of persons in certain stations. [A cry of

If it did not do so, he could only say, that as it was
t expressed, he did not understand it. The honour-

at present

nsl leraenoedn
learned gentleman told us, that the whole of govern-

ment was attacked. He was not an advocate for attacks on
government, but he was an advocate for human nature, when
it was oppressed. It had been well said in a former war with
respect to the Americans, "You drive them to madness, and
will you quarrel with them about their ravings?" When he
looked to the many calamities which the war had brought upon
the country ; when he saw, during them all, an acquiescent
and confiding House of Commons, he thought he could ac-
count for some part of that spirit of murmuring and discon-
tent which pervaded a great body of the people. He stated
this to have been the only war since the peace of Utrecht,
which had in no one instance given rise to any inquiry in the
House of Commons. Eyeu during the famous wars of • Chat-
ham, and the. victorious campaigns of Malborough, inquiries
were instituted respecting some of the operations. Had this
been the only war so eminently brilliant, so uniformly success-
ful, so clear in its details, so economical in its arrangements,
as to claim exemption from that accuracy of investigation,
which had been displayed at former periods in the military
history of this country ? With this negligence of the House
of Commons before , their eyes, with the experience of their
own accumulated sufferings, was it to be wondered at that men
should complain, more especially, when the betrayers of their
interests, and the authors of their misfortunes, were at the same
time ngahktsiT an attempt to deprive them of their dearest and

An honourable gentleman, (Mr. Powys,) the sting of whose
eloquence chiefly consisted in its personality, had alluded to an
immense number of people, who had that day been assembled
without tumult or disorder. He appealed to the gentlemen
who istv ere presen t, thle ,

immense concourse had not
e seriously impressed with the import-

ance of the question, and deeply interested in the issue. He
must confess, that of the many meetings which in the course3 • 3
of'his public duty,he had been called upon to attend, he never
leadtdhisecyovweelle.edwitn ssed one, which, from its numbers or deportment,

so strong an imprcision of the object for which

, and so fixed a determination to pursue it by all
. Proper means. You may prevent men from complaining, said3A,oftrl.rFboixll,s bllutttts3t,oitnac nnot prevent them from feeling. Either

remain waste paper, or they must becarried


into execution with circumstances of the greatest oppression.
Arid depend upon it, if men speak less, they will feel more, and
arms will be left them as the only resource to procure redress
to themselves, c)r exercise vengeance upon their oppressors.

Mr. Fox then proceeded to refute the pretexts for not going
into an inquiry, from the supposed urgency of danger. He
stated the little advantage which ministers had derived from
their system of alarm and terror, from an instance personal to
himself. If, at the commencement of the war, it should have
been proposed, that he should make a speech, as he had that
day done to thirty thousand people, the question would not
have been, whether he should have been suffered to speak, but
whether he should have been suffered to exist. By that large
concourse he had that day been heard with unanimity and ap-
probation; so great was the change that had taken place in
their sentiments ! He concluded with recommending mi-
nisters to abandon a system, which had hitherto only been
marked by reverses and disappointments. The pressure of
the war was the original source of the discontents of the people,
and the measures taken to repress these discontents, had only

increased the evil. The bad success of their policy ought to
induce them to trace back their former steps,

Iterate cursus •

Relictos ;
and to try what effects they could produce upon the people,
by treating them with respect and gentleness. He reminded
them of the saying of a great man, whom he had often occasion
to quote, (Mr. Burke,) " Try all means of gentleness; terror
can always be applied to, but never without danger; for if it
fails in one instance, it produces contempt ever after."

The motion was also supported by Mr. Jekyll, Mr. Curwen,
and Sir William Milner. The House divided : for Mr. Sheridan's
motion 22 : against it, 167.

Novem ber 17.

The motion for the second reading of the sedition bill was
strongly supported by the solicitor-general. He was replied to,
most ably and eloquently by Mr. Erskine, who denied that the bill
was consistent with the principles of the British constitution. The
statute enacted in the r 3 th of Charles H. was, he observed, the
acknowledged precedent of the present bill : by the tenour of that
statute one hundred thousand individuals might assemble in order
to concert together a petition : the only prohibitions contained in
that act, were, to hawk the petition about for those to. sign, who



might not know of the grievances complained of, and that more
than ten persons should present the petition to the king. It also
empowered magistrates to interpose their authority when overt
acts of tumult tookbuptlancoe,maendetingtonorle. teliie security against anyugaiIts

bwireaertaelecihflo.orfbIlde nevpnedia.d fferent, exclaimed Mr. Erskine, was this act from
cteu;multuously petitioning was the only thing for-

the bill now depending, which even prevented men from petition-
ing! He concluded by animadverting on the language once used
by Mr. Pitt himself, on the subject of parliamentary reform. " We
had lost America," were the minister s words, " through the cor-
ruption of an unreformed parliament, and we should never have a
wise and honourable administration, nor be freed from the evils
of unnecessary war, nor the fatal effects of the funding system, till
a radical reform was obtained." But the man who had spoken
these true and memorable words was the same who now charged
with sedition all those who thought and spoke as 11<,

had done, and
who reprobated the measures, which, after he had so bitterly com-
plained of them in that speech, he had now thought proper to
adopt! — The bill was defended by Mr. Dundas, who took occasion
to observe


that. no member of that House had so. frequently dis-
tincmished himself by appeals to the people as Mr. Fox, combating
ministers in popular meetings one half' of the day, and attacking
them with equal fervour in parliament during the remainder. He
had acted the same part during the American war to as little pur-
pose, however, as it would appear he had done 'at present. Mr.
Dundas inveighed, with great asperity, against some particulars in
his political conduct and connections.

Mr. Fox said, that if he possessed much of that vanity,
which the right honourable gentleman had been pleased to
impute to him, it would have been no small gratification to him

• to have formed the subject of not merely one or two or three,
but at least of four different speeches, which he recollected the
right honourable gentleman, considerable in abilities himself,-
high in situation, and great in power, to have made upon his
character and public conduct. On several occasions, he re-
membered to have been publicly addressed from the same
quarter, in a similar style of catechism, upon his -opinion re-
specting the extent and mode of reform in parliament, and re.,
specting his sentiments upon the influence of the crown and
the proper limits of the royal prerogative. The right honour-
able secretary had at that time received several hints from his
right honourable friend near him, (the chancellor of the ex-

equer,) not to push his enquiries too fhr. On the present
occasion, however, he was not fortunate enough to reap the
benefit of so kind a hint, and therefore he would answer the
different questions

-in the catechism, with all the plainness aridsin
cerity in his power. The first inquiry of the right honour-able secretary related to his conduct in the famous MiddleseNt


election ; in reply to which he was at liberty to affirm, that
while he gave his decided opinion in favour of the sovereignty
of parliamentary law, he never had uttered any sentiment which
was in the least unfavourable to the right which the people
indisputably possessed of expressing their sense of every public
measure. From the Middlesex-election the right honourable
secretary had proceeded to catechise him upon his conduct
during the American war, and by talking of his erecting a stage
without doors, he seemed to speak with some contempt of the
manner in which he (Mr. Fox) had acted at certain meetings,
that were held at Westminster-hall and other places, upon these
occasions : he found himself accused with having pronounced
invectives against persons who were then in high authority.
The right honourable gentleman had forgotten the conduct
which his right honourable friend (M •. Pitt) had adopted, and
those eloquent speeches he had at that time delivered, in which
public harangues to the people were described as the most
agreeable and most useful duty which representatives in par-
liament could discharge to their constituents. In answer to
the charge, that he had, in a personal manner, attacked those
who had no opportunity of appearing in their own defence, he
had to say, that it was the duty of every man, and particularly
of every member of parliament, when the conduct of the exe-
cutive government was called in question, to represent the
characters and conduct of members in their true colours.
What was the use or the value of a popular meeting, upon a
political subject, without that freedom ? At meetings held in
Yorkshire and other places at that time, such had been the
practice of others. Although he had then spoken freely of
government, when he opposed its measures, he was willing to
allow others to oppose lhm. In the year 1784, for instance,
the house would recollect what had happened. Mr. Burke,
in his emphatical language, had called the parliamentary con-
duct of some gentlemen the revolution of 1784. In that year,
the House could not have forgotten how he had been opposed ;
what invectives had been employed against him, and those in
places, where, as the right honourable gentleman had said, he
could not be present to answer. Did he ever make one un-
manly murmur upon that occasion ? Did he ever complain of
that invective? Did he ever say one word against tile sacred
right of the people to assemble and freely discuss political
subjects when those discussions were against him ? Never in
any one instance had he uttered a syllable that went to ques-
tion the' right, or to blame the practice, of holding public
meetings of the people. He had endeavoured to answer much
of the reasoning that had been urged against him at these0 0
meetings; but he had not said a word against the propriety


079holding them. What was the principle of the presentbill? To restrain the exercise of free discussion at all those
In honourable secretary had asked, what advantagesmeetings.l


had resulted to the country from those political meetings
during the American war ? He did not mean to arrogate to
himself any extraordinary share in the opposition which he
made to that war. It did not become him to say much upon
that subject; he trusted he might, however, be pardoned, if
he said that the popular meetings in question, tended to hasten
tile conclusion of that war. Was the right honourable gen-
tleman of that opinion, or was he not? What did he think
of the meetings that were held at Norwich and at other places?
Upon this head the right honourable secretary might have
some information from one of his present friends"', if he

any Those measures went further thanwanted information.
to put an end to the war; they contributed to the correction of
some of the abuses of administration, since the celebrated bill
of Mr. Burke, which did that gentleman so much honour, was
founded on those measures. Perhaps he should be told, that
all the meetings that had any effect (indeed, he had been told.
so already,) were called by the sheriff, and that all that was
said at the meeting at Westminster had no effect, because it
was not a meeting which had that authority. He wished to
know what magic there was in a meeting that was called by
the sheriff, in preference to any other public meeting ?

much of the subject, therefore, as related to public meetings,
he recollected with pleasure and satisfaction. Public meet-
ings had contributed to put an end to the American war : and
if he had said some things against any of those individuals who
advised it, he was consoled with the reflection, that if he had
helped to shorten that destructive war only one year, he had
contributed to prevent the increase of the number of helpless
Orphans and mourning widows—he had contributed to lessen
the distress of the poor and friendless. Let him not be told,
then, that he had acted an unmanly part, by frequenting those
public meetings. He must again say, that if there was

•Iglaltobryloir;putting an end to the American war, he should
fo hhear that he had, in common with others, a share


o:wthraihNvnVihen the right honourable secretary talked of
out at those public meetings, against per-i icsozinizs‘cv_ho

, were not present, he would recommend to hill to
what had happened the day before at the meeting at

yard. He knew, and if necessary, he could prove, that

Mr. Windham. See the note to Vol. v. p. 208,
C 2


there had been manifested a good deal of zeal: in fact, an
active canvass had taken place on the part of ministers, in
order that their friends might attend that meeting. Messages
were sent about, stating that it would be agreeable to govern-
ment if their friends took care to be present. The consequence
was, an attendance was procured,- and many friends to govern-
ment, persons of authority, were there, among whom was his
noble colleague, Lord Hood, and two honourable gentlemen
in his eye (Messrs. Canning and Jenkinson); he hoped, there-
fore, the right honourable gentleman would not complain
that any attacks had been made on ministers in the absence of
their friends that day.

The right honourable gentleman had also accused him of
having altered his course for some years with regard to public
meetings ; that he had been fond of attending them in the
earlier part of his parliamentary life, but that he had of late
declined them. He admitted the observation to be founded in
truth ; the reason was, that for some time past he did not see
that his attendance at public meetings could be of any use to
the public: whenever he thought it might become so, he was
ready to attend ;' and this he thought a part of his public duty,
whatever opinions other persons might entertain upon that
subject. If ever such attendance had been necessary, it was
so at this time ; when the constitution was attacked, it was the
duty of every man to exert himself in its defence : he should
therefore give all the authority he could pretend to, to such
meetings, for the purpose of supporting the rights and liber-
ties of the people. Avowing that for his motive, he was ready
to meet any ministerial censure that might be cast upon him.
The right honourable gentleman had asked him, if he thought
that any efforts of his could be heard with attention ? and
whether he imagined his eloquence could make any impres-
sion on such a multitude as thirty thousand? He had no
such idea; he had nevertheless used all his endeavours to ex-
plain to them the nature of the subject which they had to
consider. The right honourable gentleman had also asked,
whether he thought they applauded him ? I-lis answer was,
that he was not so vain as to expect it : he attended not for
the purpose of receiving applause, or commanding assent ; he
went for the purpose of learning the sense of his constituents
on the most important political topic which could be presented
for their deliberation. It was, he confessed, somewhat un-
pleasant, particularly at his time of life, to attend popular
meetings ; the labour and fatigue, however, he considered. as
the merest trifles, when compared with the fate of the ques-
tion which had yesterday been submitted to the inhabitants of
Westminster, whose applause at the meeting arose from the



feeling which those present had of the propriety of the mea-
sure they were met to adopt. This arose out of the detesta-,
tion they felt for the bill before the House. - In that view he
saw the utility of such meetings, and it was on that ground
that lie attended them. At that meeting the bill met what it
ought to meet, and what, if the public had any regard for
their liberties, it would meet all over the kingdom — general
execration and abhorrence. Execration that would be in-
creased in consequence of certain opinions that had been lately
delivered in that House. The more the public had that feel-
ing (which, thank God, they began to manifest,) the more
he thought it his duty to give such meetings his countenance;
meetings on which, perhaps, depended at this moment, the
very essence of our constitution. That was his firm and sin-
cere opinion ; and that he believed to be the opinion of the•
public; for very plain and very decided language must at
this moment be spoken to save the country from absolute

The right honourable gentleman had been pleased to pay
him compliments on his talents, and had intimated a wish
that they should never be exercised any where but in that
House. To this he would answer, that lie attended that
House not for pleasure, but for duty; and he trusted that his
attendance there might be more or less useful to the public; of
how much use it was, it did not become him to determine.
The right honourable gentleman had then asked, if he ex-
pected to convince that great multitude by his eloquence ?
Most certainly he did not; as little did he expect to convince

, that House. It had been said, that the majority of that mul-
titude came pre-determined ; perhaps they did. Did the
majority of that House come wholly undetermined ? Was
there no resemblance between the House and that meeting in
that respect ? He had some experience of the House ; and
whenever he wholly despaired of persuading the majority ofbtleiecaHusoe tuise on points where the constitution was .t stake, hettihlo

eught attending such meetings as those alluded to useful,
public. tenLded

to enable him to arrive at the opinion of

had no effect upon it, his attendance there would be useless,

- It was matt

et t Hs be stated to the House; and if this

and even burtl

the hien:v(71;y


of' observation, that the debates on


the bill

of ;l


3 it




the throne,

an open and


espousal of the cause of the house of Stuart. On theprecedino- night


been said by an honourable baronet,(Sir lets Basset,) and the idea had been borrowed that
C 3



evening by the solicitor-general, that even if there had been a
revolution in the reigns of George the First and Second, it
would not have been accompanied with the same dangers
which would flow from a similar event taking place at the pre-
sent crisis; as in the former case, the descendants of the
house of Stuart might have been reinstated on the throne;
whereas, at the present moment, anarchy, and a general
dissolution of all the principles of civilized society, would fol-
low any dispute about the constitutional rights of the sove-
reign. This was jacobitism in perfection, and he was not at
ail surprised at hearing jacobites come forward with such rea-
sonings. What would the house of Stuart have done, had
they been established on the throne? They would have in-
troduced the catholic instead of the protestant religion. They
would, perhaps, have put an end to parliaments, resumed the
rights of juries, and subverted the liberty of the press. They
would not, it was said, have invaded the rights of property,
nor invented the detestable name of French equality, the
inroads of which our British heroes swear by their lives and
fortunes to resist. But if in the choice of dangers, a man
Must fbrfeit his life and property, in order to avoid a greater
evil, (for the blessings of the constitution were out of the
question, under the government of the Stuarts,) whatever may
be the theoretical distinction, there was very little practical
difference between the one or other alternative.

The right honourable gentleman had deprecated the idea
of the legislature adopting the doctrine of resistance as a prac-
tical principle, though, at the same time, he allowed, that
resistance must inevitably follow from a system of oppression
long pursued. A most worthy and enlightened man, (Ge-
neral La Fayette,) in a neighbouring kingdom, which it was
the fashion to refer to for instances of atrocious criminality,
had affirmed resistance to be the most holy of duties, which
the people of England were called to exercise ; and perhaps the
difference between him and the right honourable secretary
would, on a second thought, appear but trifling. No man
ever supposed that the legislature should adopt the doctrine.
of resistance, as a direct and practical maxim, though every
man was convinced, and even the speech of the right honour-
able secretary himself strengthened the conviction, that re-
sistance, in certain circumstances, was impossible to be
avoided. With respect to the right which parliament pos-
sessed, of altering the bill of rights, he agreed with the right
honourable secretary. He never could consent to the pro-
position that there were some fundamental laws of the consti-
tution which parliament was incompetent to alter. They
certainly were competent to make any alterations iii the code

I 795']


either of civil or criminal law, so far as their acts would
necessarily be recognized in the decisions of all the various
courts of judicature in the kingdom. But though they might
be competent in point of power, it would not be prudential or
expedient in many cases to use that power. There were many
laws of the constitution which never ought to be repealed,

pPraivrliiiaeigneesntof the represented as the only source
people which never ought to be

iolnf'vdta.ecnidei raden.ss, and infallible object of public confidence. But
who did not know, that if our ancestors had trusted every
thing to parliament, their posterity would not have inherited
that constitution which it has been their happiness to en-
joy; and that the provision for petitioning the legislature
would never have found admittance into the bill of rights.
Even in the reign of King William, the Marquis of Harting-
ton moved, in the House of Commons, for a power to be
vested in the people of petitioning his majesty to hold or dis-
solve the parliament, and to remove the grievances to which
it might be their fate to be subjected. Perhaps he might be
laughed at for the superstitious veneration in which he held
the names of some great and ancient families in the kingdom.
There was no one for which he had a more profound respect
than that of Cavendish ; and sorry was he to see, that in a
question of such great constitutional importance, not one of
that illustrious family, who had so many seats in parliament,
was to be found either in the minority or the adverse ranks.

Mr. Fox defended the sentiments of his honourable and
learned friend, Mr. Erskine, which had been misunderstood
or misrepresented by the right honourable secretary. His
honourable and learned friend did not mean, and no man who
pretended to the character of a statesman, he was convinced,
would presume to say that property ought not to have great
political weight. But even the right honourable gentleman
himself would not contend, that property had an exclusive
right of thinking and speaking upon subjects of constitutional
importance. This would be to rob man of his natural and
indefeasible rights, and to reduce society to its original ele-
ments. In another place, report declared that a person of
high authority, considerable talents, and great learning (the
Bishop of Rochester) had said, that the mass of the people
had nothing to do with the laws, but to obey them. And this
strange assertion had been made by a member of that order,
who beyond all others were taught in their religiom to_recog-

e the natural equality of man. But he trusted that the
people of England would not tamely surrender their indis-p
utable and hereditary right, whatever inclination an arbi-


minister or a supercilious prelate might betray, to
c 4


wrest them out of their possession. How absurd was it, that
because a man had not the good fortune to have a freehold
cwelification of forty shillings , valued rent, he must not be al-
lowed to speak his sentiments on subjects which involve his
dearest and'most important concerns! At present he would
not enter into the arguments for and against parliamentary re-
form. The sum of the argument on the one side was, that the
people of the country were not equally represented; and the only
answer bearing the smallest semblance of speciousness, which
had been made, was, that though the people were not equally
and individually represented, the aggregate body was to all
intents and purposes, virtually represented ; and that, for
instance, the member for Westminster was equally zealous in
promoting the general interest of the country, as he was in
consulting the more immediate interests of his constituents.
From this reasoning, the inference which naturally occurred
was this, that they who had not an equal influence in chus-
ing representatives in parliament, and who, in fact, had none,
should by the exercise of petition have an opportunity of
making their grievances known to those who were the virtual
representatives of the nation. Whereas, in the present bill
the privileges of petition, as well as the powers of election,
were confined to boroughs and corporations who actually
had representatives whom they had it in their power to entrust
with the exercise of their functions. Would it not, said Mr.
Fox, be much more suitable and becoming to extend .this
privilege to the poor householders, and the millions of un-
represented people in the country who have no other medium
through which to make known their grievances, and to pour
in their complaints? Deprive them Of this right of petition-
ing, and you take from them all that is valuable -in their
political existence. In this view, then, the bill went to in-
stitute a final distinction between the constituents and non-
constituents in the kingdom; a distinction which was suf-
ficient to destroy the harmony and peace of the country; to
confute the only argument which could be adduced in oppo-
sition to parliamentary reform, and to convert the government
of the country into an aristocracy, or an oligarchy.

Mr. Fox proceeded to inquire how far the bill actually
went in its provisions, to limit the right of petitioning. The
sheriff must call the meeting. But what was to be done, if
he refuse to call a meeting upon a subject of' pressing im-
portance? Can a meeting be held without his permission or
not? But was not the sheriff an officer nominated by the
crown; and what a mockery was it, to solicit permission
from the crown, to meet in order to petition the crown ?
Suppose, for instance, that the object of the petition were to


be a dissolution of parliament, would the crown countenance

such purpose, as long as the king found
it for

for any
st to retain. the parliament then in being?

On the

interest that redress of public grievances was the

object, how could the people expect the countenattce of thosemen to such an object, from whom all their grievances pro-
ceeded, and who afforded the real cause of complaint? The

however, was not the least exceptionable; after
had been convened, a justice of peace might,

unde various, s pretences, dissolve it; so that its proceedings
were to be entirely subject to his caprice: Suppose, for
example, that a petition for a reform in parliament was to
be the subject which occupied the attention of the meeting;
the magistrate might take it into his head, that the very idea
conveyed an implied contempt of' the present organization
of the House of Commons, and under this impression might
order it immediately to disperse under pain of military exe-
cution, before any of the purposes of the e,me tine.

were axl-
swered. All is referred to a discretionary power, which can
be amenable to no earthly tribunal, as no man is accountable
for the errors of his understanding.

Mr. Fox applied this reasoning to the meeting at Copen-
hagen House, the object of which he contended to be strictly
legal, whatever were the forms of the petitions which were
then drawn up, but an object which would have been resisted
ci princip'o, had the bill now pending been previously in'
force. There was another clause which was almost too ri-
diculous to mention, namely, that which prohibited all public
lectures delivered for money. 'What would become of the
professors of the different sciences in the universities? Would
they not be clearly involved in the operation of this clause?
But even in its most qualified construction, he could not
conceive by what principle of policy a man was to be pro-
hibited from acquiring his subsistence by instructing the
people in the principles of the constitution. Of Mr. Thel-
wall and his lectures, he was entirely ignorant. If, however,
they were innocent, why should he be disturbed? If they
were seditious and treasonable, why was he not prosecuted
under the existing statutes? The same observations applied
to the papers which had been read by the noble lord (Mor-
ningtou): iff theywere treasonable, the authors of them were
menable to the treason laws. He would not be understood

as delivering an opinion whether they were or not, nor even
whether seditious paper which was circulated

oueht tobe submitted to the course of law. He rather thought that

a judicious selection of the most elating and dangerous oughtto be made by the attorney-gene al.


Mr. Fox then adverted to the general principle of the bill
in the most animated and pointed terms. It was not, he said,
a blow at the outworks of the constitution — it was a daring
attempt to subvert its very foundation. Upon the liberty of
the press and freedom of discussion, the basis of the con-
stitution was known to rest. Take away these, and the whole
fabric must fall. No man would deny that there were many
abuses and defects in the practice of the constitution. Its
chief value consisted in the excellence of the foundation ; and
when that was destroyed, the rest would not be worth pre-
serving. For almost any other shock which it could have
received, a remedy might have been found. Had parliament
thought proper to alter the succession to the crown from the
present family on the throne, dreadful convulsions would no
doubt have ensued, but the investiture of a new prince with
the sovereign power might have quieted the commotion.
Had parliament made a bold and open attack upon the trial
by jury, a speedy remedy would have been found iu the
deluge of argument and declamation which would imme-
diately have issued from the press. Petitions would have
been poured in, remonstrating against the assault on pub-
lic liberty ; and the voice of the people raised with una-
nimity and firmness, would have awed the proudest minister
into submission. But when the power of speaking was taken
away, what was there left but the patience of implicit sub-
mission? What hopes could be entertained that grievances
would be removed when those who felt them dared not com-
plain? In such a case, it would give him but little anxiety
that a spirit of resistance was found impossible to be sup-
pressed. At present he believed a spirit of discontent to be
pretty general in the country, and he had no hesitation in
saying, that it originated in a bad government, in wicked
and ruinous measures, and in the blind and unmeaning con-
fidence which the people had reposed in an unfortunate and
desperate administration. The discontent might, perhaps,
exist in some degree previous to the war, but he affirmed
that it had spread since to. a much more alarming extent.
If the discontent originated in French principles, it was
indebted for its currency to the measures of Beitish ministers.
He wished to bring them to issue upon this point. They
said the people of England were loyal; so said he. They
asserted that there were malcontents in the country; in this
also he agreed. But he would ask, whether the danger to
be apprehended from French principles, was greater now or
two years ago? Let them say either the one or the other;
but he intreated them, for God's sake, not to say both. Fore
his own part, he thought it was greater. If it was, he de-


tracting the danger was by continuing this system, of which
the present bill seemed to form a most prominent part.

danger had
ministers had adopted ; and the most effectual mode of pro-


theyje apply

prosecuted? If the danaer was dimini h ,


of universal suffrage and annual parliaments. They had been

been unfortunately was unjustly commenced, and had

ct hea n:1iistoeu


ncWroelav'sa esttetiovoerrdad

rather than lessened by the remedy propos


a l

Mr. Fox next adverted to what had been said of the danger

if the increase of danger was not owing to the

was the degree of danger in which the country

principally arisen from a system of terror, which

as described as raging with its utmost fury?

was firmly of opinion, that it would be in-

a more hazardous remedy, than when


represented as the cause of the subversion of the old French
government, and they were described as the instrument em-
ployed by the Corresponding Society, to demolish the British
Constitution. He professed himself no friend to either; but
he quoted the high authority of the Duke of Richmond, by
whom they had been supported, and drew this inference,
that the opinions of those in the higher and lower stations
of society were treated in a very different stile of respect.
When tile members of corresponding societies think now,
as the Duke of Richmond thought some years ago, there is
a general outcry, Will you presume to touch the sacred ark
of the constitution with unhallowed hands? But nothing was
said when a daring minister conies forward, —not, indeed, with
unhallowed hands, for a minister's hands are like those of the
high priest of old, which it would be sacrilege even to look
at, — not to touch it only, but to tear it in pieces.

The sole reason assigned for this outrage against the con-
stitution, was, that when new occasions happen, new changes
must take place. Mr. Fox here exposed the fallacy of the
assertion, that universal suffrage was the cause of the downfall
of the ancient despotism of France, and of the overthrow of
the first constitution. He urged upon the serious consider-
ation of ministers the situation into which they had reduced
the country, and implored them to give up a system which
was pregnant with ruin, and to employ every lenient and


,tilNiNatlso. ry means for gaining the affection of tile people,
annadrelyattaching them to the constitution: He said, he knew

a ;frit in the country to ward off the ravages of
lie hoped, also, there was a spirit to resist the strides

of oppression. Before he sat down, he would say a few
words with respect to the general scarcity of provisions that
Prevailed, though not connected with the subject before the
House. If the war was not the principal cause of the scar-


city, that it was an integral part could not be disputed.
Thou gh the harvest was in general abundant, yet wheat was
not so productive as had been expected. Other articles of
consumption which were more plentiful were equally dear;,
so dear, that the poor could not, for the price of labour (which
was in no proportion to the dearness of provisions) buy enough
of bread. There were many other mischiefs that followed in
the train of a destructive war, the expences of which had
lowered the value of money, as it had increased the price of
necessaries. Though the blessings of returning peace could
not in a month, or a year, restore plenty, and repair the
hardships of the war, still they afforded the only cure for
famine and poverty. Thus he might in some degree say —
Sublata causa, lollitur ej'ectus. The war ended, peace would, ,.,,
it' not immediately, at least in time, bring back the country
to its former state of prosperity. Mr. Fox concluded a mas,
terly speech by saying, that he should consider it an unpar-
donable omission to conceal from the people, that they had
to reproach themselves for a great part of their calamities
by their supineness, in not bringing ministers to an account
for their destructive measures, and with calling on the House
to be aware of what they were doing, and not to continue a
blind confidence in government to the ruin of the country.

The House divided on the motion for the second reading of the
bill :

Tellers. ' Tellers.
Solicitor-General} {Mr. Erskine 1

YEAS {Mr. Neville 2I3.-NO
Es Mr. St. John S 43'

November 23.

Mr. Pitt having moved, " That the order of the day for going
into a committee on the treason bill be discharged, and that
the House do resolve itself into the said committee on the 25th
instant ;"

Mr. Fox said, he felt himself called upon by the expression
of the right honourable gentleman, who had asserted, that
the voice of the people had not been fairly taken, and that
delays were made for the express purpose of misrepresent-
ation. How was this proved? He had applied, it was true,
for delay : but was that a proof of misrepresentation ? Cer-i
tainly not. It was uniformly the wish of those who mis-
represented facts and opinions to hasten precipitately to their
object. They must know that every hour would unveil some
part of the delusion, would demolish some part of the artifice.

1 795.]


He wished for the delay, because it appeared that these bills
were mast reprobated where they were best known, and that
they met with an equivocal approval only where their merits
had not been discussed. The ample discussion of the sedi-
tion bill, as it was termed, had afforded ministers an oppor-
tunity of refuting every misrepresentation. Did it however
appear that theie• . explanations had satisfied the country ?
By no means. The right honourable gentleman expressed

discussion of the bills, and a confidence
ianw'ttseh eftfoerctthoeffutlri taleidiscussion.ti c cu sion. Had he not had an oppor-
tunity of discussing them; and had lie not seen and felt that
the spirit of the country rose with the debate? If such had
not been the case, he should have been mortified and hurt.
The right honourable gentleman had charged him with ar-

He had not practised any. Hetifice and misrepresentation.
had stated nothing without doors that he had not stated
within ; nothing that was not consonant with his sincere
opinion : if he expressed himself 'in strong terms without
doors, he had spoken with equal ardour and vehemence within
those walls. His opinion on the bills was precisely what he
had declared it to be — that they repealed the bill of rights,
and subverted the constitution of the country. He had no
recourse to indirect means; nor did he, as the right honour-
able gentleman had done, exert his influence by under agents.
He courted public discussion, being well assured, that the
more the principle was discussed, the more general would be
the odium and detestation with which it would be regarded.
He did not wish to see the bills altered or amended; he
rather hoped they might pass in their present form, because,
as the attack was to be made upon the rights and liberties
of the nation, he wished that

attack should be open, broad,

and intelligible to the people at large. He wished the bills
to be pushed fairly forward, with all their force, that the
people might feel and see the full extent of the danger that

rroctoniiicitietcili had
ec,.itated, should not steal upon them bys

urprize, and by gradation sap and undermine them. He
palates, but that poison of these bills to be sweetened to their
against the dreadful d people should be prepared. and cautionedg

rai " We would not vote for these'g
bills," say the members to their constituents, " if we could
foresee the intended mischief." What attention however had

die os ef x ?

right honourable gentleman paid to public opinion ?


Where is his charge of misrepresentation ? Has he heard
e voice id

the country? Has he heard the voice of West-muist
Of the common hall of London ? Of' the countyMiddlesex


If, indeed, the opinion of the majority were in favour of
these bills; if he scould believe it possible that the people of
this country were so degraded and abject as to prefer
slavery to liberty, or to countenance these bills with any thing
like their approbation ; if they did not so generally express
their abhorrence of them, as to show that they yet retained
an unabating attachment to the constitution of their ancestors;
he could only say, that he could no longer be a profitable
servant of the people. He might sit down in silence, and
enjoy in the tranquillity of private life, the society of his
friends; but he could not, with the feelings he possessed, be
a profitable servant of the people. If, on the contrary, the
people of England were, as he truly believed them to be,
decidedly against these bills ; not a mere concerted majority,
but the great mass of the people against them; then, un-
doubtedly they bad a right to demand his services, and he
should hold himself hound to obey the call. He had a right
to hope and expect that these bills, which positively repealed
the bill of rights, and cut up the whole of the constitution
by the roots, by changing our limited monarchy into an ab-
solute despotism, would not be enacted by parliament against
the declared sense of a great majority of the people. If,
however, ministers, so resolute on their spirit of destruction,
were determined, by means of the corrupt influence they
possessed in the two Houses of Parliament, to pass the bills,
in violent opposition to the declared sense of a great majority
of the nation, and they should be put in force with all their
rigorous provisions, if his opinion were asked by the people,
as to their obedience, he should tell them, that it was no.
longer a question of moral obligation and duty, but of pru-
dence. It would, indeed, be a case of extremity alone which
could justify resistance, and the only question would be,
whether that resistance was prudent ? He was aware that
these words were liable to misconstruction, and he knee:
that ministers were adepts in the art of misrepresentation ;
but a public man must not shrink in times of' danger from
strong expressions, because they may be misconstrued, or
misrepresented. What he said, he said deliberately ; and it
was for the authors and abettors of the bills to consider
whether they would hurry the parliament to the passing of
them, before it could be ascertained whether they had the
sense of the people with them or not. With regard to the
amendments that might be made in the committee, he re-
peated what he had said before on the subject, that no mend-
ing could qualify this attack on the constitution. He repeated
it, the poison might be concealed, it might be made more
palatable, and it would be so much the worse. If, how-


ever, the constitution was to

violated, lie wished that the
people might see the attack all its glaring, open treason,

might be roused to its defence. He certainly, there-
h a t they

hould not lend himself to qualify the atrocious wicked-

ness of these bills. Mr. Fox concluded with moving to adjourn
the debate till that day fortnight.

Mr. Pitt said, he did not rise to follow the right honourable
gentleman through. the whole of his speech ; but there were sonic
passages in it which, consistently with his duty as a member of
parl iament, with his feelings as a man, with his attachment to his
sovereign, and his veneration for the constitution, he could not
hear, without rising instantly to express his horror and indignation
at them. The right honourable gentleman, he observed, had
made a bold, broad, and unqualified declaration, that if his argu-
ments and his measures did not prevent the passing of bills, which
a great majority of the House conceived to be necessary for the
security of the person of the sovereign, and the preservation of
the rights of the people, he would have recourse to different means
of opposition. He had avowed his intention of setting up his
own arguments in opposition to the authority of the legislature.
He had said, that if he was asked his advice, he would put the
propriety of resistance only on the question of prudence ; without
adverting whether the consequences of this advice might be fol-
lowed by the penalties of treason, and the danger of convulsion ;
thus openly advising an appeal to the sword, which must either
consign its authors to the vengeance of the violated law, or involve
the country in anarchy and bloodshed. The right honourable
gentleman had taken care not to be mistated ; happily for the
country, this declaration of his principles was too clear to admit
of a doubt. With all the horror he felt at such language, he was
glad the right honourable gentleman had been so unreserved and
explicit. The House and the country would judge of that gen-
tleman's conduct from his language ; they might see the extent
of his veneration for the constitution, and of his respect for par-
liament, when in violation of his duty, in defiance of legal
punishment, he could bring himself to utter such sentiments.
He was glad the right honourable gentleman had made that
avowal, because lie hoped it would warn all the true friends of the
constitution to rally round it for its defence.

Mr. Pox said in explanation : The right honourable gen-

eman's talent for misrepresentation is neither unknown to
myself nor to the House. I rise to re-state my expression,
but not to retract one word of what I have said. Let the
words be taken down at the table. They express the senti-
ments of an honest Englishman, they are those sentiments
for which our forefathers shed their blood, and upon whichthe rev

olution was founded : but let me not be mistated. The
Case I put was, that these bills might be passed by a corrupt



majority of parliament, contrary to the opinion and sentiments
of the great body of the nation. If the majority of the people
approve of these bills, I will not be the person to inflt me their
minds, and stir them up to rebellion ; but if, in the general
opinion of the country, it is conceived that these bills attack
the fundamental principles of our constitution, I then main-
tain, that the propriety of resistance, instead of remaining any
longer a question of morality, will become merely a question
of prudence. I may be told that these are strong words; but
strong measures require strong words. I will not submit to
arbitrary power, while there remains any alternative to vin-
dicate my freedom.

Mr. Sheridan repeated what Mr. Fox had stated, with respect
to resistance. If, he said, a degraded and oppressed majority of
the people applied to him, he would advise them to acquiesce in
those bills, only as long as resistance was imprudent. They had
affirmed, that these bills went directly to overturn the constitution;
if they were sincere in that language, what other answer could
they give to the people than that which they now avowed ? What
contemptible wretches must they be, if, while under the shelter of
their privilege, they professed the measures to be calculated to
overturn the constitution, and infringe the bill of rights, they
shrank hack on such an occasion, from stating that which they.
conceived to be the undoubted right of the subject — to resist
oppression, when all legal means of redress were refused. To the
declaration of Mr. Fox he implicitly subscribed. It must be the
feeling of every true Englishman ; of every man Who acknowledged
the principles which seated the illustrious family of Brunswick on
the throne. His right honourable friend had said, that if the
people of England were so dead to all their former feelings, that
they wished for these bills, then he was no longer a fit servant for
such a people W and he had no occasion to have made that declar-
ation ; they did, and must know that the frame and texture of his
soul could never suffer him to be the servant of slaves, as they
must be if these bills passed into laws. — Mr. Grey also said, that
from the principle which had been maintained by his right ho-
nourable friend, he would not shrink ; and. he would repeat with
him, that if, by the government of the country, measures were
carried into effect, contrary to the wishes of a great majority of
the people, and contrary to the liberties of the nation, if he
should be asked, whether the people ought to refrain from resist-
ance, he would say, that they-should only he induced to refrain.
by motives of prudence. With respect to the bills themselves;
he concurred entirely with his right honourable friend, that no
modification could make them otherwise than hostile to the prin.,
ciples of the constitution.

November 24.

Mr. Erskine having this day presented a petition f•:n the
merchants, bankers, and other inhabitants of London against tha.
_treason and sedition bills, its reception was opposed by Mr. Serjeunt
Adair, Alderman Newnham, and others.

Mr. Fox said,. that several things had been observed and
stated in the course of the debate, which ought _not t6 go
unnoticed. Insinuations against the conduct of noble dukes
appearing at public meetings, and the novelty of such be-
haviour had been thrown out. The Middlesex meeting was
not, he observed, the first instance in which peers and mem-
bers of parliament had taken a share in county meetings. In
the year 1780, meetings of that sort had been frequent, and
had proved highly useful. He was convinced by the influence
and spirit they had excited, that they had tended to abridge,
by at least one or two years, the duration of a cruel and im-
politic war. Similar meetings had on various occasions been
held, and he would defy any man to deny the

1advant; a s that0ehad resulted from them to the country.
Alarms, it was asserted, had been spread concerning the

tendency of the bills now pending in parliament, and that
these meetings were calculated to inflame and irritate the
minds of the people against measures of no serious consequence
to their liberties and the constitution. Was it possible that
he should forget the zeal and activity which had been exerted
to spread alarm without doors concerning the tendency of his
India bill ? One right honourable gentleman, the present
chancellor of the. exchequer, in arguing against that measure,
had boldly avowed, that•he would employ every means in his
power to spread alarm among the people; and while he

ilvlcs the
recollected. the circumstance, it was with the utmost satis-


nature of those


l ever
y the answer he then returned, that ita


nsituation• my member to explain to his constituents


in which he 1111(1 been placed, had he forgotten


lose measures by which th y were to be aPcted.


or ceased
d to respect the right of the subject to investigatepublic

hen it , th atrs,tene

did lie attempt to check that discussion,w


to be unfavourablele to the measures whichlie

gentlemen, and . f


an alteration in the language of


posed, and which he was convinced were advantageousto

the He declared, he considered it as a symptomof decay o the principles of the constitution, when, sincethe year

Upon that im

1 78o, such a revolution had taken place in the -e.n-

. VI.

portant point.COL
0 ' 0


With equal astonishment bad he heard the attempts which
had been made to detract from the weight of that almost
universal public disapprobation by which the bills had been
condemned. It was roundly asserted that other petitions
would come forward to counteract the influence of those al-
ready presented. Of that the House knew nothing ; it was
an absurd and ridiculous preference of speculation to facts,
which it was presumptuous to indulge. A worthy alderman
(Mr. Lushington) had not only undertaken to answer for the
merchants and bankers of London, and for his constituents,
in contradiction to the positive vote of the Common Hall, but
for three-fourths of the householders of the kingdom. Where
were the facts upon which this assertion rested ? Were three-
fourths of the householders of 'Westminster for the bills?
Would the worthy alderman tell him that the supporters of
the bills Lad appealed to the parochial meetings with more
success than they had appealed to general meetings? It was
almost incredible, he said, that gentlemen should blind, not
merely their understandings against the reception of truth,
but even against the testimony and demonstration of their
senses. It indicated a perverseness of mind, which would
hear and see and judge of nothing that was unwelcome, and
which, in spite of the clearest evidence, doubted of every fact
that was disagreeable. Will they tell me, said Mr. Fox, that
three-fourths of the inhabitants of Westminster are not against
these bills, without contradicting my very senses ?

But it was said, that the opposers of the bills bad been
guilty of misrepresentation. Be it so, for the sake of argu-
ment, said Mr. Fox. They tell us, that other petitions will
appear, and testify a different sense in the people. This, at
least, was a powerful reason for delaying the progress of the
bills till these actually were brought forward. It had been
said by a learned friend of his, (Mr. Serjeant Adair,) that
these very petitions did not speak the sense of those who
signed them. This was, at once anal without proof; to take up
a particular case, instead of the general presumption. The
learned serjeant had accused his learned friend near him of
misrepresenting the scope of the bills, when he said that such
a meeting as that from which the petition was presented could
not take place were the bill passed into a law. With the
explanation lie had repeatedly given, he would plead guilty
to this accusation. He had stated, he said, that in such a
meeting, no matter could be discussed freely, or to any effect.
They might meet, no doubt, but for how long a time ? No
longer than till the magistrate thought, or chose to appear to
think, that something improper had been done, on which lie
might disperse them, and prevent their . coming. to any reso-


lotion. It must be admitted, therefore, that no misinter-
pretation had taken place; but that it was indubitably true
that a meeting in such a situation was merely a nominal
vilege, and that the efficient importance or utility of it was
entirely done away. With regard to the responsibility of the
magistrate, a difference of opinion certainly was entertained,
but none as to his right of interference. Why, then, flatter
or delude men with the idea that they have the right to meet
and deliberate, when its exercise depends on so precarious a
circumstance as the virtue or the caprice of the superintending
magistrates? Was it ever contradicted that this was the case?
Whatever might be the degree of responsibility, it was un-
doubted that the meeting might be dissolved. — Mr. Fox was
proceeding, when lie was called to order; and it was stated
that the argument into which he had gone was irregular.
Mr. Fox made an observation or two upon the call to order,
and then said, that he should not trouble the House farther
than to declare that if it had been supposed to have been
literally stated by his honourable and learned friend, that
no meeting could be held in future, that supposition was
certainly unfounded ; but if it had been supposed to have
been stated that no free meetings could be held in future, to
that statement lie pleaded guilty. The distinction wnS so
frivolous, as to be wholly unworthy of any man of sense and

The petition was ordered to lie on the table.

November 25.
This day a motion was made by Mr. Curwen to postpone for

one week the discussion of the two bills. It was supported by
Mr. Harrison, Mr. Whitbread, Mr. Lambton, and Mr. I'ox. Mr.
Whitbread animadverted with uncommon warmth upon the bills.
Ministers, he said, pretended that the bills were to secure the
liberties and constitution of the country. He was not surprised at
such pretences, for he knew that it had been the practice of weak
politicians and of furious bigots, in all ages, to pretend, while they
secretly undermined any institution, that they were putting that
stitution on a firmer basis. had not the axe, the whael, and the
stake, been used to enforce that mild religion we professed ? Now,
he would unequivocally affirm, that these bills were exactly of a
similar nature, and equally detestable with the most despotic mea-
sures of the most accursed tyrant upon earth. Instead of behold-
mg the people prosper under a government of freedom, justice,
and mercy, we should soon see them sink under a government of
tyranny, cf persecution, and of blood — aye of blood! Was -there
no blood in this bill ? What did it tend to .

but the shedding the
blood ofhis majesty's subjects, when it so slightly enforced military
execution ? The bill was a severe and rigorous act ; and if

D 2


was possible to heighten the rigour of it, it was now to be passed
into a law without the smallest shadow of necessity.— The motion
was opposed by Mr. Wallace, Mr. Hiley Addington, and Mr.
William Grant, afterwards master of the rolls.

Mr. Fox said, he had listened with sincere pleasure, in
common with every man in the House, to the able and elo-
quent speech delivered by the learned gentleman who hid just
sat down. He respected the talents of that learned gentleman,
and admired his ingenuity. Nor did he mean any thing in the
least disrespectful to the masterly display of both, which he
had made on the present occasion, when he said, that though
his speech was full of argument, and replete with eloquence,
a man Might safely subscribe to every statement he had
brought forward, and every conclusion he had drawn, and yet
vote against the present bill.

The ingenuity of the honourable and learned gentleman
had, indeed, made no inconsiderable impression upon the
House; though his arguments seemed not so much to bear on
the principle of the bill under immediate discussion, as on the
general policy of legislation. He felt the difficulty, therefore,
in replying to a speech of that nature. Able and extensive
as it had been, lie was not in the least disposed, nor did he
believe any sober politician would be inclined to controvert
the principles laid down by the honourable and learned gen-
tleman in the beginning of his speech. His position was, that,
at a time of considerable danger, it was proper to give up part
of the constitution, in order to secure the remainder. That
maxim abstractedly considered, was incontrovertible ; before
it could have any weight, however, when applied in a practical
view, it was necessary to prove the existence of the danger, its
extent and magnitude ; it would also be necessary to she•,
that the remedy called for was exactly a surrender of that por-
tion of the constitution which it might be proper to sacrifice,
and not more than the value of the object to be secured. The
degree of constraint which government was to impose, could
be the only ground of doubt and difference of opinion. That
government was in its application a system of restraint upon
human action, was clear and -Undeniable. It was important,
however, to consider well the quantity and the quality of the
restraint which circumstances might require.

The honourable and learned gentleman had complained,
that it was the temper of the times to take every general prin-
ciple as ;meant to apply universally, and to fasten upon the
person who employed it all the absurd consequences which
might arise from such an application. He admitted the truth
of the observation, and was convinced that no man had better

reason to complain than himself: The honourable and learned
gentleman . luid accused gentlemen on that side of the House
of wishing to produce this dilemma, either that the people
were animated by an universal spirit of loyalty, or that they
were inflamed with a spirit of disaactioa. He had never
said that the people were completely harmonious in their poli-
tical sentiments or opinions, or that no discontent prevailed.

had, however, been often stated on his side of the House,
and he would call upon the honourable and learned gentle-
man to say, whether he believed the spirit of dissatisfaction
was greater or less at present than it had been previous to the.
war. He had never stated, because he had never believed,
that the state of public affairs was wholly without danger. If
it was allowed to be greater, to what cause was the increase to be
attributed ? He was surely entitled to presume that it was oc-
casioned by the discontents excited by an impolitic and un-
just war ; by the measures of a corrupt, incapable adminis-
tration ; and that it was ascribable to the complicated mise-
ries arising from the decay of commerce, and the pressure of
famine, into which the country had been plunged. The war,
then, had produced an effect directly the reverse of that stated
by ministers themselves as the chief reason for triumphing in
its success. If', on the other hand, the ground of apprehension
was less, why were the sacrifices required for public security to
be increased ? He asked pardon of the House for the repetition
in which he indulged; but when the same arguments came
from the opposite bench, and the same objections were offered
to gentlemen on his side of the House, he could not forbear
repeating that material question.

With regard to the point of danger, of which the honour-
able and learned gentleman was so anxious to have a specific
declaration of his sentiments, he had always stated, that some
discontent existed, which might not be unworthy of attention,
but which would never justify the legislative remedies pro-
posed. The honourable and learned gentleman had affected
to treat as a paradox the observation of his honourable
friend, (Mr. Lanibton,) that the danger of an attack was
often created by the injudicious mode of defence. If it was
a paradox, however, it was one of those which frequent experi-
ence proved to be true. Who could deny that many political
evils were rendered desperate by the absurd methods pursued
to remedy or to remove them? Was the honourable and
learned gentleman so much more of a Whig than himself; as
to impute the whole evils of the civil wars, and the resistance to
Charles I. to which the nation owed its liberties, to the conduct
of that ill-fated monarch ? Did the honourable and learnedgentleman believe all these calamities were to be ascribed to the

D 3


[Nov. 2 S.

illegality of ship-money, or of various other acts of that prince?
Had there not been at that time a body of persons, previously
inimical to the constitution ; and was not the attack upon the
monarchy rendered formidable, and even tragical in the event,
by the rigorous measures which rendered the breach irrepara-
ble? The honourable and learned gentleman had also men-
tioned the case of the Americans. When that unfortunate dis-
pute was first agitated, and when he heard scraps of pam-
phlets and papers read, to prove . that there was a settled design
formed to shake off the connection with this country, he had
never been so unqualified a supporter of America, as to as-
sert that no such designs were entertained. He was con-
vinced, however, that those who had conceived the project
of separating from the mother country were few indeed. By
injurious attempts to remedy the evils then complained of, the
catastrophe which it was intended to prevent was realised.

The honourable and learned gentleman had recurred to the
fallacy so often answered, of which gentlemen on his side were
accused, that they ascribed the discontents to the measures of
his majesty's ministers. The honourable and learned gentle-
man asked, did not these discontents exist before the war, to
which much of the discontent was imputed, had been com-
menced? Here again he would recall the two examples he had
already employed. In the time of Charles the First there
might have existed causes of dissatisfaction, which, neverthe-
less, the extravagant pretences of that prince, and the in -
policy of his ministers in urging them, carried to that height
which proved so fatal to themselves. At one period a com-
promise with America was practicable, but the opportunity of
conciliation was lost, and the desperate system pursued in
this country for ever cut off ail hopes of that compromise being

It had been said, that much danger was to be apprehended
from that party hostile to the constitution drawing to itself all
the discontented persons of the country. If the strength of
this party depended upon the discontent which a bad govern-
ment produced, and as the worst administration necessarily
would occasion the most discontent, he would defy any man to
deny that a great part of the ill humour arose from the bad
conduct of ministers. If the discontented were composed of
two kinds, those who were enemies to the constitution, and
those who, from a spirit of discontent, joined their party and
encreascd its number, correct the abuses which had been so
much the subject of complaint, introduce moderation and
economy in the public expenditure, and banish that cor-
ruption which had crept into the representative body. Such
a proceeding would separate those from the disaffected who.


were displeased with abuses, and at the same time reconcile
those to the constitution who had been alienated by its

honourable and learned gentleman, in animadverting
odiel fTNevciell:as.t .had been said to come from gentlemen on his side, had
only engendered a monstrous doctrine to show his dexterity
M demolishing it. It had never been said, much less con-
tended, that the verdict of juries on the state trials had proved
that no seditious practices existed, but merely that the traitor-
ous conspiracy was proved to be ill-founded. He had no he-
sitation to declare, that he considered the verdict of the jury
on that point to be of more w.Light than the report of die secret
committee. The honourable and learned gentleman had at-
tempted to point out On inconsistency between the language
at present held, and that which they had heard upon the re-
port of the secret committee. The honourable and learned
gentleman likewise had confounded a variety of circumstances,
and, from the result of his own combinations, had endeavoured
to fix on his side of the House that inconsistency which he
had first invented, and then urged as a charge of incon-

With regard to the degree of danger the honourable
and learned gentleman imputed to the corresponding and
other societies, (principles which he charged upon no authority,)
it was impossible to believe that, among the whole, there was
a majority unfavourable to monarchy. They might, indeed,
have professed to maintain the doctrine of annual parliaments,
and universal suffrage. These principles, however, were not
borrowed from the French ; they had been inculcated in dis-
courses and writings, by respectable characters in Great
Britain many years since; and if they contained the evil im-
puted to them, the French might complain, with more justice,
that they had been imported into France from this country.
Those societies, the honourable and learned gentleman had
observed, must have some determinate object; either they were
deserving of encouragement, or of disapprobation. Could
there, he exclaimed, be no division of men, or opinions, which
they might overlook, without being censured for their appro-
bation, or accused for their neglect? Must the intolerance ofFrench politics be adopted, which permits no minority, but
which proceeds to violence, bloodshed, and extermination?

learned gentleman

many opinions which it was indifferent to approve,
Dr to condemn; and the dilemma which the honourable and

eci gentle an employed was the most absurd and ridicu-
lous that had ever been framed. Was a man bound to attack
every opinion different from his own? He had never been
advocate for annual parliaments; yet that opinion had been

D 4


avowed and maintained at various periods Within this century.
By the tories it was held as a favourite doctrine; and it had
been said that the restoration of that system was a part of the
plan of politics taken up in the beginning of the present reign,
though that condition had never been observed. Instead, then,
of attempting to legislate on this subject, it would be most
proper to allow the public to judge for themselves, and trust
to the good sense of the English nation. He had stated all
his opinions. He had never evaded an explicit declaration.
It was now to be considered how far the bill was applicable to
the object it professed to have in view. If Englishmen had
been seduced from their attachment to the constitution, how
could it be restored by the present bill? Meetings might, in-e, 5
deed, be put a stop to, but a total communication of senti-
ment could not be prevented. The intercourse of the mind
would remain. If there were, as represented by the honour-
able and learned gentleman, something so fascinating in the
opinions it was to proscribe, the prospect was indeed alarming.
Good God, Sir ! said Mr. Fox, in such a case, what must be
the horrors of our situation, when, in addition to its other
evils, this detestable bill, strong as the measure is, is found to
be inadequate to its purpose !

The honourable and learned gentleman had treated with a
degree of contempt an opinion of his honourable friend,
(Mr. Sheridan,) that the difference of habits, government,
and character, would prevent the people of this country from
ever sinking into the horrors to which the French, unpre-
pared for freedom, had been exposed. Did the right ho-
nourable gentleman think that the negroes of the plantations,
or the subjects of Russia, Turkey, or Germany, were capable
of that liberty with which an Englishman might be indulged ?
It was not fair, therefore, to reason from Frenchmen to
Englishmen, or to argue that in such dissimilar circumstances
the same events would take place. Was the honourable and
learned gentleman correct in his information concerning the
French revolution? The jacobin club produced, per laps,
terrible effects upon minds not prepared for so great a change.
Yet many of those events, to which their future disasters were
owing, such as the depriving the clergy of their lands, and
the nobility' of their titles, took place previous to the establish-
ment, at least to the credit and authority of the jacobin club.

The honourable and learned gentleman had stated, that the
whole of the confusion which had desolated France had arisen
from the jacobin clubs; that the number of them were few,
that the original republican club in Paris consisted only
of seven members, and that they afterwards produced the re-
volution of the I oth of August, 1792. Would 'that honour-




able and learned - guitletnan seriously say .he believed it rational
to frame a legislative provision which was to affect a whole
nation, with respect to the most important part of its rights,
on the ground of the determination of seven persons ? The
revolution in France was not to be accounted for in that
manner, nor was that the period at which they were to date
its commencement. When, then, was the period ? What
WAS the cause of' the revolution of the loth of August, 792 '?
Be it remembered, that he was no advocate for the conduct of
the jacobins; no liberal man would accuse him of it ; though
he knew he must put up with that ill-founded charge from
others. Let them inquire into the cause of the success of the
jacobins in France ; such an inquiry was necessary in order to
be able to follow the arguments of the honourable and learned
gentleman upon that subject. He would say, then, that they
were concluding irrationally indeed, if they said it was owing
entirely to the doctrine.

of the jacobins that the horrors of that
day were exhibited, or that they were the cause of the dreadful
catastrophe or the late unfortunate monarch of that country ; a
prince whose cruel fate might induce them to overlook the
errors of his reign. In fact, his fate was in a great degree
owing to his avowed connection with the nobility of that coun-
try; a nobility whose views were hostile to the interests of the
people. He believed the king and his ministers were guilty
of planning what was attempted at that time against the
people. Supposing even that they were not, he would ask, was
not the suspicion that they were guilty, a great cause of the
revolution of the moth of August, 1792 ? At that time the
king's brother had left him ; and the situation of his family,
and theirconnection with the house of Austria, then known
to be enemies to the government of France, were so well as-
certained, that their objects could not be doubted. Did not
these circumstances give ample room for suspicion, on the
part of the French, as to the intentions of the king, and those
ministers by whose council he was so fatally guided? If
this were admitted, be had a right to say, that the cata-
strophe was no more accelerated by the wickedness of those
whtoenadett(ai cked, than by the baseness and folly of' those who

The honourable and learned gentleman had observed, that
if he had said some years ago, that the then constitution of
France would not last so long as our own, he should, by
many, have been treated as a person who spoke in a very
visionary re, m.n and idle manner. In what company that gentleman
had been, or from whose sentiments he formed that conjec-

Fox said, he did not know; if the learned gentle-
man had alluded to him, he had never said any thing like it•,


On the contrary, he had always entertained and professed a
different doctrine. Would any man assert, that although he
had often said, that the first French revolution was a glorious
event, he had asserted, that the systems which had been built
upon that revolution were good ? So far from it, the most mo-
derate of them appeared to him to be unstable at least. That
was his opinion ; and the right honourable gentleman opposite
to him knew it to be so; in one particular instance, he had em-
phatically so pronounced it. He meant to allude to a motion
made for a reform of parliament. On that occasion, he had
stated it as his opinion, and he had not changed it, that an
old edifice, well altered and repaired, was more likely to be
useful, than one built on an entirely new construction, of
the structure of which they had no experience*. That was
his opinion then, and it was his opinion at the present ; the
honourable and learned gentleman's allusion to opinions, there-
fore, if directed to him, was unfairly directed, and the sar-
casm ill applied.

The rest of the honourable and learned gentleman's speech
was what was commonly called pathetic, and he thought it
necessary to take some notice of parts of it. He had stated,
that if there was a violent party in this country, who pre-
tended to have in view the destruction of the power of minis-
ters and the correction of abuses, and they should once succeed,
they would not stop there: that not only the minister would
be the object of their fury, but they would aim at the destruc-
tion of others who had any authority in the country from their
talents, independent of any connection with the government.
If the honourable and learned gentleman did him the honour
to include him under that class, he would tell him plainly, the
caution to him was needless ; by such an observation the ho-
nourable and learned gentleman only brought to his mind what,
indeed, had been but seldom absent from it for many years.
66 If ever," said Mr. Fox, " those persons who wish to destroy
the constitution of this country, as was done in the French
revolution, by rapine and plunder, by carnage and desolation,
should become a triumphant party here, though I may not be
the first, I am well convinced I shall not be the last object of
popular fury." If ever the day should come, which God
avert, when men's lives should be subject to that sort of po-
pular fury, he thought there were others who would go before
him, and those were the authors of the present measures ;
and from that time, in his conscience, he believed, his life
would be short indeed ; and therefore the honourable and

See Vol, v. p. 109.


learned gentleman need not warn him upon that subject. He
saw that danger clearly; but he was not one of those who
looked at to I the danger on one side only. The honourable andlearned gentleman had said, if he joined bad men, he could
not shake off his companions, nor check their excess; a truth
which history confirmed. Was it not true on the other side
also ? If it was true,, that if he acted with men of bad princi-
ples, the effect of such a junction might be that those who had
served them in a particular cause might have no power to resist
their fury, was it not, however, undeniably true, that those
who joined a particular minister, and assisted bin in his at-
tempts to destroy the constitution of the country, would feel
the same inability to check the progress of his ambition ?
Was it not as clearly true, it' he had lent his assistance to bring

about that euthanasia of the constitution, that he must after
wards yield his life to that accursed power who had effected
the destruction of their country ? He believed the time was
not very distant, when those who had lent the minister, what
he would call very honourable assistance, would not deny that
they were become his personal slaves. He believed that some
of them had felt it, and he thought he had seen some symp-
toms of that fact already. Certain gentlemen smiled at this :
he did not mean to say any thing that could be deemed a per-
sonal degradation to them, if they did not feel it for them-
selves. But when he saw, day after day, and year after year,

system pursued, which tended to bring this country to that,
euthanasia predicted by Hume, he could not say he was
willing to be an assistant in its accomplishment. With regard
to the mischief; which was dreaded from the junction of men

. who only wanted to reform abuses with those who wished
'the destruction of the constitution, he would apply the
remedy proposed by Mr. Burke, in the case of America, who
had said on that occasion, that he would wish to separate the
by ---not by separating the north from the south, not
by separating the east from the west, not by separating Bos-
ton front Philadelphia, -but by separating those who were
merely discontented with the abuses of the constitution, front
those who had a hatred for it, and wished its total destruction.

The honourable and learned gentleman had asked, in what
manner they should enter into a negociation with these dis-
contentedpersons ? He believed there would be some diffi-
culty knowing with whom to treat. As to the question,how

• we should treat ? his answer was, by conciliation. This
wouldbe done, as Mr. Burke had said, by separating them.1-loa- •w ere they to be separated ? By setting about to correct
abuses in earliest, as much as possible, whether in that House,
or in any other part of the government. This would remove


all ground of jealousy and discontent on the part of' those who
loved the constitution, and who wished only to see the abuses
eradicated ; and this would destroy the alliance between them
and those who really harboured a hatred for the constitution
itself. This was the sort of separation .which Mr. Burke re-
commended with regard to the Americans; and this was the
separation which he would recommend, of the discontented
in the country, at this time. Strike out the bad part of our
present system, add to the beautiful parts, if that be possible;
but, at all events, strike out the bad ones; and then, although
they should not reconcile to their system, those who hated
the constitution itself, they would deprive them of their force,
by taking away the arguments by which they prevailed on
good men to join them, and by which alone they could ever
become formidable; namely, that of stating the ablies of our
constitution as they subsisted in practice at present. What
were the arguments that these men made use of to gain to
their party those who loved the constitution, and which had
been said by the honourable and learned gentleman to be so
seducing? Topics of abuses in the constitution ! Reform
those abuses, and. they took these seducing arguments away.
It was, indeed, the whole of their argument ; for as to their
theory of government, that he was sure would not make any
deep impression on the body of the people, who had too much
good sense to be misled by such egregious fallacies.

The honourable and learned gentleman, in one part of his
speech, and only in one, seemed to have a reference to the
bill before the House. The honourable and learned gentle-
man admitted that the House was going to make a sacrifice
by the measure before them ; but had contended that what
was retained of the rights of the people was still of higher
value; the history of governments was certainly better than
theory ; in this, therefore, he agreed with the honourable and
learned gentleman. IIe did not, however, agree with him,
that what they were to retain was superior to what they had
to lose, if the bill were passed into a law. That which was
to be taken away was the foundation of the building. It might,
indeed, be said, that there were beautiful parts of the building
still left. The same might be said of another building that
was undermined : " Here is a beautiful saloon, there is a fine
drawing-room; here are elegant paintings, there elegant and
superb furniture ; here an extensive and well chosen library."
But if the foundation was undermined, there could be nothing
to rest upon, and the whole edifice must soon fall to the
ground. Such would be the case with our constitution, if the
bill should pass into a law. Our government was valuable,
because it was free. e What, he begged gentlemen to ask

45795 :-]

were the fundamental parts of a free government ?
tkIleenk'siciel7s t'here was a difference of opinion upon that subject.
His own opinion was, that freedom did not. depend upon the
executive government, nor upon the administration of justice,
nor upon any one particular or distinct part, nor even upon
forms so much as it did on the general freedom of speech and
of writing. With regard to freedom of speech, the bill before
the House was a direct attack upon that freedom. No man
dreaded the use of a universal proposition more than he did
himself; he must nevertheless say, that speech ought to be
completely free, without any restraint whatever, in any•go-
vernment pretending to be free. By being completely free,
he did not mean that a person should not be liable to punish-
ment for abusing that freedom, but he meant freedom in the
first instance. The press was so at present, end he rejoiced it

was so; what he meant was, that any man might write and print
what he pleased, although he was liable to be punished, if he
abused that freedom ; this he called perfect freedom in the
first instance. If this was necessary with regard to the press,
it was still more so with regard to speech. An imprimatur
had been talked of, and it would be dreadful enough; but a
dicatur would be still more horrible. No man had been dar-
ing enough to say, that the press should not be free : but the
bill before them did not, indeed, punish a man for speaking,
it prevented him from speaking. For his own part, he had
never heard of any danger arising to a free state from the free-
dom of the press, or freedom of speech; so far from it, he was
perfectly clear that a free state could not exist without both.
The honourable and learned gentleman had said, would they
not preserve the remainder by giving up this liberty ? He ad-
mitted, that, by passing of the bill, the people would have_
lost a great deal. A great deal ! (said Mr. Fox,) Aye, all
that is worth preserving. For you will have lost the spirit,
the fire, the freedom, the boldness, the energy of the British
character, and with them its best virtue. I say, it is not the
written law of the constitution of England, it is not the law
that is to be found in books, that has constituted the truep
rinciple of freedom in any country, at any time. No ! it is

the energy, the boldness of' a man's mind, which prompts him
to speak, not in private, but in large and popular assemblies,
that constitutes, that creates, in a state, the spirit of freedom:
This is the principle which gives life to liberty ; without it the
human character is a stranger to freedom.

• If you suffer the
liberty of speech to be wrested from you, you will then have
lost the freedom, the energy, the boldness of the British clia-;
meter. It has been said, that the right honourable gentle-
man rose to his present eminence by the influence of popular



favour, and that he is now kicking away the ladder by which
he mounted to power. 'Whether such was the mode by which
the right honourable gentleman attained his present situation
I am a little inclined to question ; but I can have no doubt
that if this bill shall pass, England herself will have thrown
away thatladder, by which she has risen to wealth, (but that
is the last consideration,) to honour, to happiness, and to fame.
Along with energy of thinking and liberty of speech, she will
forfeit the comforts of her situation, and the dignity of her
character, those blessings which they have secured to her at
home, and the rank by which she has been distinguished
among the nations. These were the sources of her splendour,
and the foundation of her greatness

Sic fortis Etruria crevit,
Scilicit et rerum facta est pulcherrima Roma.

We need only appeal to the example of that great city,
whose prosperity the poet has thus recorded. In Rome, when
the liberty of speech was gone, along with it vanished all that
had constituted her the mistress of the world. I doubt not but
in the days of Augustus there were persons who perceived no
symptoms of decay, who exulted even in their fancied prospe-
rity, when they contemplated the increasing opulence and
splendid edifices of that grand metropolis, and who even
deemed that they possessed their ancient liberty, because
they still retained those titles of offices which had existed
under the republic. 'What fine panegyrics were then pro.
flounced on the prosperity of the empire !--- " Turn tutus bos
prata perambulat." This was flattery to Augustus: to that
great destroyer of the liberties of mankind, as much an enemy
to freedom, as any of the detestable tyrants who succeeded
him. So with us, we are to be flattered with an account
of the form of our government, by King, Lords and Com-
mons— Eadem magistratuum vocabula. There were sonic
then, as there arc now, who said that the energy of Rome was
not gone; while they felt their vanity gratified in viewing
their city, which had been converted from brick into marble,
they did not reflect that they had lost that spirit of manly
independance which animated the Romans of better times,
and that the beauty and splendour of their city served only to
conceal the symptoms of rottenness and decay. So if this bill
passes you may for a time retain your institution of juries
and the forms of your free constitution, but the substance is
gone, the foundation is undermined; —your fall is certain
and your destruction inevitable. As a tree that is injured at
the root and the bark taken off, the branches may live for
a while, some sort of blossom may stal remain; but it will


soon wither, decay, and perish : so take away the freedom of
speech or of writing, and the foundation of all your freedom
is gone. You will then fall, and be degraded and despised
by all the world for your weakness and your folly, in not
taking care of that which conducted you to all your fame,
your greatness, your opulence, and prosperity. But before
this happens, let the people once more be tried. I am a friend
to taking the sense of the people, and therefore a friend to this
motion. I wish for every delay that is possible in this im-
portant and alarming business. I wish for this adjournment

" Spatium rcquieinque furori." Let us put a stop to the
madness of this bill ; for if you pass it, you will take away the
foundation of the liberty of the people of England, and then
farewel to any happiness in this country I

The House divided on the question of adjournment :

yzA8 S Mr. Curwen
Mr. Steele

WhitbreadS 70' —
N°ES Mr. Wallace 2 657"

November 27.
On the order of the day for going into a committee on the

sedition bill, Mr. Fox rose merely to ask when it was probable
that the report, and the third reading of the bill, would come on.
He said, he supposed when the bill had gone through the coin-
mince, that it would he reported, and then ordered to be printed.
Mr. Pitt said, that immediately after the bill had gone through the
connnittee, he should move for it to be printed, and that the further
consideration would probably come on about Tuesday, Dacem-i
her I., and the third reading on the Thursday following. Mr. Fox,
Mr. Grey, Mr. Lambton, Mr. Whitbread, General Tarleton, Ge-
neral Macleod, and the other opposers of the bill ( Mr. Sheridan
excepted) immediately rose and left the House. Mr. Sheridan
said, he did not attend for the purpose of proposing any- amend-
inents to the bill, being persuaded that no alteration, except that
of negativing every clause in it, would be of service, or render itpalatable to the great majority of the public. He attended chiefly
to watch some things which were going forward, and to hear what
amendments would be proposed.

November 3c.
On the motion for going into a committee on the treason bill,

'Mr. Erskine opposed the Speaker's leaving the chair. He observed,
that the bill diminished the liberty of the subject, without adding
to the safetysafety of the king's person. It was a political maxim, he
said long standing, that the best government was that whichproduced the greatest security with the fewest restraints, and
the worst, that which increased penalties without undisputed evi-

deuce of their propriety. Another maxim, of equal force, was to
preserve ancient laws in their primitive simplicity, till experience
had proved them inadequate to their intended purposes. The sta-
tute Of Edward III. concerning treason, had not been proved, but
merely asserted, to be unequal to the punishment of the outrages
referred to in the two bills. In the opinion of one of the greatest
luminaries of the law in this country, the lord chief-justice Hale,
that important statute had been enacted, as a remedy against
former oppression, and to secure the subject against illegal pro-
secution. To compass, or even to imagine, the death of the king,
was, by that statute, declared high treason : could words be found
of stronger import, or of plainer meaning? To levy ivar against
the king, or to grant comfort and protection to his enemies was,
by that statute, made equally criminal ; but it did not make the
compassing to levy war against him high treason, because the le-
oislators of that- day did not consider a conspiracy to levy such a
war as more than a misdemeanor, which, like many others, mightr,
not deserve material notice, while no clear and overt act could
be adduced to prove it, and without which act no treasonable in-
tentions could lawfully be presumed. Mr. Erskine argued, from
the decision of lord-chief-justice Holt, that overt acts alone,
properly established, ought to be admitted as proofs of guilt in
trials for high treason. The bill in contemplation would, he ex-
plicitly affirmed, extend the crime of high treason to such a
multitude of trivial cases, that every petty misdemeanor might be
brought within its construction.— Mr. Erskine was replied to by
the attorney-general, after which,

Mr. Fox said, it did not appear to him from what he had
heard, that there was any thing very auspicious to the free-
dom of the people of this country to be expected from the
progress of the bill before the House. The honourable and
learned gentleman had begun his speech with finding ?<lull
with his learned friend (Mr. Erskine) for having blended the
two bills in argument on the present occasion. 'Though his
honourable and learned friend had spoken at considerable
length, and with an effect which he trusted would not easily
be forgotten, and though the two bills, in their component
parts, might be traced to the same principle, and considered
as the result of a connected attempt on the liberties of the
country, he called upon the house to recollect that his ho-
nourable and learned friend had spoken most distinctly to
the bill then before the House, and also on the system which
ministers had lately adopted for the purpose of subverting the
liberties of the people of England. in this his honourable
and learned friend was perfectly right, because the charge lit
made was just. He spoke of one in consequence of the con-
nection which it evidently had with the other; they were
both branches of the sonic system, which ministers had adopted
against the liberties of the people; and he must say again,.

that, from the manner in which the honourable and learned
gentlema n had taken up the subject, it did not give him the
most favourable opinion of the manner in which this business
was intended to be conducted by •its advocates; by the spe-
cimen he had witnessed, he was not led to expect any great

the then before the House undoubtedly was, the


the present bill; he hoped, however, he was not
mistaken when he expected that parliament would consider
that the preamble of a bill and its enactments were two sepa-
rate and distinct things. If that were true with respect to a
bill that originated in that House, did it not more emphati-
cally apply to a bill that originated in the other House of
parliament? And if the bill then under consideration not only
came from another House of parliament, but came also from
persons who were suspected of not being attached to the
best principles of our constitution, upon that view only, if
there had been no other, he was desirous that the bill should
be rejected; because he could not help thinking that the House
would do well to consider the state of the country, to watch
with anxious care and constitutional jealousy, every thing that
tended to abridge the rights of the subject, and then consider
the state of public affairs, and adopt some measure-for its
safety, if, upon mature deliberation, some measure should be
found to be necessary.

To him, Mr. Fox said, there had appeared to be one way
of considering a bill which could not fairly be objected to;
that was to attend to the preamble of it. He had flattered
himself that he knew something of the bill from some recol-
lection of its contents : however, the speech of the honourable
and learned gentleman had staggered him ; certainly the
speech he had heard bore no resemblance to the ideas he had
entertained of the bill. From one part of that speech a
person who was a perfect stranger to the bill, would have
thought the bill was a declaratory law on the crime of trea-
son, and on the meaning of the statutes which defined it.
He would have expected to have heard read as an int

tion to the bill, words to this effect: " Whereas. doubts have
arisen respecting the law as it now stands with regard to the
crime of treason; be it declared, &c." Instead of this, he ,
only found that reference was had to, and loose, very loose,

mments made on what had recently happened, and on facts
nvhich had lately been brought forward in a court of justice.
The honourable and learned gentleman had done no more
than this, and then appeared to insinuate, to render the bill
a little less disgusting, that it was intended to be only tem-poiaz


would ask, if the bill was to be temporary,


where was the propriety in making it of' a declaratory nature?
A declaration must be either true or false: truth was eternal
if, therefore, the bill depended upon the truth of its declara-
tion, it should not be a bill passed for a temporary purpose,
but ought to be made a permanent law. This, however, was
not the case with respect to the present bill; it was made
use of as an argument for the moment, to take it in that
light by way of justification of its enactments; but the bill
itself was only an experiment to try how the people would.
bear it. If any part of the learned gentlemen's speech was
attempted to be opposed to the reasoning of his honourable
and learned friend, by way of answer or refutation, it was
that which related to the construction that had been put from
time to time by judges on the statute of the 25th of Edward III.
Was the bill a measure to set that question at rest, as the
honourable and learned gentleman had stated it ? Was such
a declaration necessary? If the honourable and learned gen-
tleman thought so, would it not be necessary to bring in a
bill to make that declaration explicit? Upon the necessity of
making that declaration he might agree with the honourable
and learned gentleman. " Tiiat the declaration of the ho-
nourable and learned gentleman and mine upon that law
would be different, I have, said Mr. Fox, as little doubt as
that we differ upon this; but the bill surely cannot be con-
sidered in the light of a declaration, because it is temporary,
and says nothing upon treason as to the levying of war.'
With regard to the act of Edward he must make a dis-
tinction between an attack upon the natural life and political
power of the king. He could easily conceive that any per-
son, who should be guilty of an attack on the natural life of
the king, that was to say, who had, by overt-act, proved that
be compassed or imagined his death, should be subject to the
highest penalty of the law ; and yet that an attempt at the
destruction of the political power of the king should only be
deemed guilty of a misdemeanor. He knew it was a popular
argument; he had conversed with many who urged it, and
said, " Why, is it not absurd to say you will guard the
natural life of the king, which, in a constitutional point of
view, cannot be more important than the political power of
the king, more than you will guard that political power:"
In his opinion, that argument was wholly fallacious; because
the laws of a state were not to be governed by the ideas of
guilt, and in proportion to our feelings as to the mischief
which might possibly ensue, but in proportion to the difficulty
or facility with which the object might be attacked. It was
in this last view that the wisdom of our ancestors had framed
the law of Edward III. They had said, that he who should,

by overt-act, prove that he compassed or imagined the natural
death of the king, should be guilty of high treason. Why?
Not because the natural life of the king could be more con-


stitutionally important than the political power of the kingly
office, but, as his honourable and learned friend (Mr. Erskine)
had well observed, because the death of the king could be
accomplished by one man who was wicked enough to de-
termine on it; and this he could do in an instant with a
pistol or a dagger, or in any other way; and therefore the
legislature had done wisely to declare, that lie who should
compass or imagine the death of the king should be guilty
of high treason. To such an act there ought to be the highest
possible penalty annexed.

Mr. Fox said, he was read y
to admit that the king's person

was not so well guarded as he could wish, but It was as
strongly guarded as it was possible to guard it by law.
Guards of another description, indeed, he might have, but.
nothing of that sort was proposed by the present bill; and
he trusted they never would be proposed by any parliament,
because it would be highly unconstitutional. With regard
to the political power of the king, he must observe, that
although, constitutionally speaking, that was a still dearer
and more precious object to them, yet there was no necessity
of guarding it in the same manner ; because, the destruction
of the political power of the king could not be effectually
attacked by one man, nor could it be accomplished, like the
other, in one moment. Levying war for the destruction of
government could not be the act of a single man, it must
be the act of multitudes; it must, indeed, be a sequence of
acts, upon which a government might wait with safety until
something was done, instead of' declaring that the com-
passing or imagining constituted the guilt, as the law declared
in the other case. The difference was, in the one case the
king might be assassinated by a single individual in a moment,
whereas the constitution could not be assassinated but by a
series of acts committed by a multitude of persons; that was
the reason why our ancestors had made an attack upon the
lire of the king, a different offence from that of an attempt to
subvert the monarchy. The distinction had been well marked
by a• common expression — " the constitution may be de-
stroyed, but it cannot be assassinated."

Mr. Fox having thus observed on the wisdom of our an-c
estors with respect to the statute of Edward

wished to
Say a few words with regard to the construction which had
rovedput upon it. He might be asked, whether he ap-p of the construction which had been put by the judges

upon that statute ? He admitted the inferiority of his


merit to that of those learned persons; he must, however, •
form it from the best lights he was able, and having done so,
he had no difficulty in saying, that he (lid not agree with
them according to the statement of the honourable and learned 10
gentleman that night. If he were asked, whether he thought
the judicial determination of the judges from time to time
made part of the law of the land ? he would answer, he was 'W
not competent to determine that question. This he would
nevertheless say, that an act of parliament was a part of the
law of the land, as interesting as the judicial determination
of the judges, and often more intelligible to the mass of
mankind; and it was and ought to be, of higher authority.
If, therefore, there was a doubt as to the real meaning of the,
act of Edward III. he had no objection to a parliamentary
declaration of the law in that respect; what that declaration
should be, he would be ready to argue hereafter. For the
sake of the argument, he would allow, that all the judgments
which had been given by the judges were correct ; and then
he would maintain, that gentlemen on the other side had not
proved, that this bill was not a material alteration of the law
of the land; but that he would not enter into at that moment,
but merely observe, that his honourable and learned friend's
arguments upon that, as well as other points, had not at all
been answered. Whether the point was to be given up, he
did not know ; but as it stood at present, it made conspiracy
to levy war a substantive treason. [The Attorney General
explained, that it only put under this description a conspiracy
to levy a direct war, and not to levy an indirect war.] Then,
continued Mr. Fox, the point is gained; if, in some instances,
it made a conspiracy to levy war a substantive treason, and
in others not, it was evident that a material innovation had
been made. 'With respect to the construction of the law of
Edward III. he had always thought, from what he had read
from Hale, from Foster, and other authorities, and he had
read their works with attention, that the point was clear,.
particularly the case of a special verdict. He conceived that
-when there were charges of levying direct war, stated as high
treason, for deposing the king, they were always stated in.
that way, that they were overt acts, to prove the intention of
compassing and imagining the death of the king ; and, upon
that, the question came to this : whether such acts proved
the compassing or imagining? If that levying of war be of
itself treason without the compassing or imagining, then a
verdict that the defendant did so conspire and levy war, with-
out saying one word of the compassing or imagining, would
be a complete verdict, and whatever the opinion of the jury

might be with respect to the imagining the death of the king,
the crime would be complete.

He would ask the honourable and learned gentleman one
question. Suppose A. and B. had conspired to levy war

wraihst the king, and with hostile arms proceeded to depose
tile king, and that the jury on the trial should find the con-
spiracy and the appearing in hostile arms, but should find
that there was no intention of putting the king to death,
would the honourable mid learned gentleman then say, that
judgment should follow against the defendants for high treason
as a consequence of law from that verdict ? If the honour-
able and learned gentleman would boldly say this, then he

3would allow that his construction of the law of treason was
a bad, and the learned gentleman's a good construction. In-
deed, he believed the learned gentleman would not maintain
that doctrine ; and he -believed too, that the very essence of

crime of high treason, was that of compassing and
imagining the death of the king; and that if the jury did not
find the compassing and imagining the death, the verdict
would be null and void. Such, he maintained, was the law
at present ; but if the bill passed, that would not be the law;
then the law would be, that the bare finding of such verdict
'as he had stated, would be sufficient to convict any person of
high treason ; and he would maintain, that it was extremely
material to attend to that distinction. The subject ought to
be protected in his rights upon all occasions ; the House
should, therefore, be extremely cautious in agreeing to any
thing that encroached upon them ; but, above all, in cases
of high treason ; they should not forget that, as the crime of
high treason was a crime to which the highest penalty was
attached, it was also a crime in which the power of the ma-
gistrate ought to be looked at with the highest degree of
jealousy. In all other charges made by the crown against its
subjects, the chief magistrate had no distinct interest in the
conviction ; but in the charge of high treason, he was to be
swayed by considerations of a personal nature, and thence
hadsprung all the regulations of giving to the accused a list
of the jurors and the witnesses, and all the various other
checks which the wisdom of our ancestors had provided.
These were not jealousies of his own, stated for the purpose
of supporting the debate, they were jealousies of the law of
the land, jealousies which had been shewn in a variety ofinstances, constitutional jealousies, that ought to be con-
sidered attentively by that House. They ought still further
to be careful how they proceeded in a measure that abridged
the functions sl ,o4i( mke

olfaajury; independent of other considerations,
a formidable invasion of the law : the


E 3


j ury would not hereafter have to consider the mind of the
person accused ; they would have nothing to try but the fact
stated in the indictment; the rest would be mere inference
of law; and although the jury should negative the intention
of putting the king to death, yet judgment must pass upon
the defendant.

Mr. Fox slightly adverted to the history of the two acts,
the statute of Edward III. and that of Charles IL which
were referred to by gentlemen of the other side as the pm-
cedents that made the foundation of the present measure.
The statute of Edward III. was the old constitutional law of
treason. Its introduction had freed the jurisprudence of the
country from much uncertainty ; and it had, in no instance,,
been deviated from in later times without producing con-
siderable mischief. The other act was brought in at the period
of the Restoration, when the people were wearied of the
evils they had suffered under the former usurpation, and were
willing to throw all their liberties into the hands of the clown.
Let the House look at the statutes, and recollect the prevail-
ing spirit of that day. They would find that parliament,
‘vhich the present was about to imitate, giving to the king a
power to raise a military of his own, and money to pay then),
which was to be applied afterwards without the consent of
parliament. They gave to the king the power which they
ought to have kept in their own hands; a scandalous negli-
e,ence and for which the people suffered most deplorably !b 5
That reign was a dreadful one to the people; infamous and
detestable as that reign had been, if there was any one part of
it that called for the execration of the historian more than
the rest, it was the public prosecutions that had been in-
stituted in the course of it. Englishmen had, indeed, the
happiness to feel that justice had been administered in this
country for a century past, in a manner more mild, more pure,
and more independent, than perhaps in any other country
-upon earth for the same period; they ought nevertheless to
take care not to copy the sort of laws that were enacted in
those abominable times of blind submission. They were about
to adopt laws similar to those passed in one period of our
history. e And what period ? the period of the reign of
Charles II., that period which of all our history was most
abominable and scandalous in the administration of its justice;
the most scandalous, perhaps, in the world, under all the
circumstances of it.

With regard to that reign, one of its most 'remarkable
features was, that the names of those who perished on the
scaffold for high treason, were among those that were most
dear to the recollection of Englishmen. He 'knew that

57 9 5-3

Sydney and Russell were not, indeed, tried by the statute
which he had alluded to, the time being expired within which
that law allowed them to be accused, but those eminent men
perished on the scaffold for high treason. He said this to
shew the general spirit of jurisprudence that governed this
country at that period, and disgraced that reign. Those,
therefore, who admired that reign, were not to look to its
ministers cr its judges, but to those who expired on the scaf-
fold for high treason. The law which then was enforced, was
such as the law under consideration was proposed to be; it
expired, however, with the prince for whom it was brought
forward. Richard II. was also a prince for whom such a law -
was enacted, and soon after he was deposed and assassinated.
Charles II. had a long, and, as some said, a flourishing reitm;
but it was not flourishing in the mind of any man who really
knew what a flourishing reign was. Was there any one who
looked to the history of those times, to the unprincipled
policy of the court, and the o pen profligacy of public mea-
sures, who did not consider it as a blemish on the English
character, and a reproach to the spirit of our ancestors, that
'the reign of that monarch was suffered to be protracted till
the period of his natural life? Were those auspicious times,
from which to derive a precedent for their present conduct ?

Two reasons had been adduced in favour of the present
bill. The first he should dispose of very shortly. It was
said to be a declaration of the meaning of the statute of
Edward III. A declaratory act it could not be, because a
declaratory act must be plain and simple; and, indeed, that
part of the case had not been seriously insisted upon by
the honourable and learned gentleman. The other reason
was, the general prevalence of libels; and in proof of this,
much had been said about the disposition of some people to
treat all authority with contempt. It was true that a stone
had been thrown at his majesty; but whoever attended to
speeches upon that subject, would find how small a part of
the people were concerned in that outrage, or tinctured with
the disposition he had just maintained. The act, every body
knew, was an odious and a detestable one; but ought the whole
people ofoafctE?ngland to be deprived of their rights on account

The honourable and learned gentleman, Mr. Fox observed,

had adverted to what passed at the Old Bailey last year. If
the temper of some of the people had been seen to be so
dangerous at that time, it was extraordinary that the mea-
sures then proposed had not been proposed sooner. The
truth was, ministers had not an opportunity to suit their
Views till just at present. They took the advantage of the

E 4

generous indignation of the people at the atrocious outrage
offered to his majesty, and, under pretence of providing
against a similar outrage, were going to deprive the people
of their rights. They turned the best passions of the people
of England into a delusion, in order to deprive them of their
dearest s interests. He was justified in saying this; else why
had not the bill been brought forward sooner ? Be could
say much more upon this topic, but that he deemed it unne-
cessary, after the very able and eloquent mariner in which it
had been treated by his honourable and learned friend,
(M•. Erskine). •it'h respect to the state trials, the learned
gentleman. contended that they had proved much, and that
notwithstanding the persons indicted had been acquitted, the
trials were calculated to produce a considerable effect on the
public mind. So they certainly had, but not the sort of
.effect the learned gentleman would insinuate. In that ac-
quittal he, for one, had already declared, that he much exulted,
and he should ever continue to exult. That acquittal, in his
view of the subject, tended to produce an impression of the
happiest kind. If there were men to whom the constitution
had begun to appear odious, that acquittal must have softened
their animosit y, and disposed them to regard it with a friendly
eye; if there were others wavering in their sentiments, it
must have had the effect to revive their attachment, and
confirm them in the line of their duty, more than all the
penal laws that the legislature could enact in a century. Even
if those persons who had been tried entertained opinions
hostile to the constitution — and he did not deny that in the
societies there were some men of that description — still he
considered it as a glorious event for the constitution itself, that
those persons had been acquitted. Nay more, if even men,
whose .sentiments were hostile to the constitution, had found
refuge from that strict and impartial justice which it adminis-
tered to all, such an event he could not but consider as cal-
culated to convert disaffection and enmity into admiration and
applause. This he believed to be the real effect of these trials,
although the learned gentleman made use of them in his
argument, in order to spew a spirit of disaffection to the con-
Stitutionin a considerable part of the people.

'with regard to the other part of the bill now before the
House, that which regarded the penalty of misdemeanour, it
called for. animadversions,- as it referred to an offence more
likely to occur often than the offence of high treason. The
learned gentleman had urged, „ that it did not, in the first in-
stance, create new misdemeanour ; be did not know that it did ;
this, however,. he .knew, that it defined that which, by the
law as it stood, was subject only to the penalty of misde-

meanonr, to the penalty of felony, although it should not be
stated in the indictment to be a felony. He wished to know,
whether the provision in the late would be allowed
to apply to the new law, or whether the bill was not to renew

yil u(surpation of judges upon the old law, and deprive the

of the privilege of examining into the intention of the
accused, and front that intention to find their verdict; or,
were they to be left to find the dry matter of fact, and was all
the rest to be in the hands of the court, to be disposed of as
mere matter of law? The most material part of the case in
this view was that which subjected a man for the second mis-
demeanour to transportation. How the honourable and
learned gentleman would answer this he could not tell, but lie
was sure it was not in the power of human skill and ability
to answer it satisfactorily. His learned friend (Mr. Erskine)
had observed., that this description of offence was so wide
and general, that by applying a sentence of equal severity
whenever an offence was repeated, the same punishment
might be made to include the most venial errors, and the
blackest crimes. It was a great principle of justice, that the
punishment should be proportionate to the offence; but by
the regulation proposed, this principle would be entirely de..
feated. Would the honourable and learned gentleman say,
that by the analogy of law a comparative distinction could be
made between the second misdemeanour and the first ? Was
it not essential, that the distinction should be kept up between
a misdemeanour and a felony ? And was it not essential that
there should be a proportion between the punishment for one
and another misdemeanour? There were some misdemeanours
of so slight a nature, that though a thousand times repeated,
they would not, in point of enormity, be equal to one of a
more serious description. Under the head of misdemeanours
was defined, whatever might tend to excite hatred and con-
tempt against the constitution. He, who complained of the
inequality of the representation, and, in illustration of his
argument in support of a reform in parliament, referred to a
borough so and so situated, might, from the operation of this
bill, be sent to Botany Bay for seven years !

I wish (said Mr. Fox) you had made it death ; the pu-
nishment would not have been more severe ; and your law
Would be better understood by it. Compare this with the
most atrocious misdemeanour in cases that are not political.
Suppose a man be convicted of an assault, with intent to kill
his own father, and repeats it as often as imagination can
Suggest, still he will be punished as for a misdemeanour only,
which is fine and imprisonment : but if he be guilty twice of
insisting on the propriety of a_ reform in parliament, he may


[Nov. 30:

be punished with transportation to Botany Bay ! I have
stated this case in the extreme, to s pew the enormous dispro-
portion which this bill creates in the punishment of offences.
It was in the nature of the thing, he said, that misdemeanour
should be punished by a discretionary sentence, and that it
should stand distinct from felony ; a thousand misdemeanours ,
could not, by the spirit and genius of the law of England,
amount to, or be punished as, a felony. That was to con-
found all the principles of our law. The sort of punishment
which the bill enacted for misdemeanours was for the first time
introduced into the country from the pretended law of Scot-
land ; though such was the horror with which Englishmen
regarded it, that when, some time since, it had been presented

b • 5

to their minds, it excited an universal sentiment of indigna-
tion. He called it 64 pretended law ;" for he would never so
far degrade Scotland, as to suppose it could really be the law
of that country. Had any want of effect, he asked, been
experienced from punishments formerly inflicted, because they
were not sufficiently severe ? He adverted to the case of
Messrs. Muir and Palmer, men of enlightened minds, of re-
spectable rank in society, of irreproachable morals, who, be-
cause they expressed themselves warmly with respect to what
they considered to be grievances, were sent to Botany Bay,
to associate, not merely with the lowest of men in point of
rank, but with a description of persons so degraded and
abandoned, that the necessity of associating with them under
any circumstances, was a deep disgrace, and must itself consti-
tute a considerable punishment. What effect did ministers
pretend to say that had produced ? Had it produced a greater-
reverence for the laws, or occasioned a cessation of those libels
which were the subject of complaint? No ; for they were told
that libels had increased since that period a thousand fold. If,
on the other hand, it had produced those effects, what neces-
sity was there to resort to new measures ? If it had failed,
did not experience demonstrate the futility of again having
recourse to a similar policy? But it was said, that in Scotland,
where those measures had been adopted, no discontent existed.
He believed the case was quite the reverse, and that the dis-
content really felt in that quarter was not the less because the
expressions of it had been subdued by the terror of severe and
unwarrantable punishments. If the state of Scotland was, as
they pretended, they ought not at least to think of extending
the penalties of the bill to that country. The best way to
attach the people to the constitution, would be to preserve the
mildness of its laws. Could the honourable and learned gen-
tleman, or any of his friends, learned in the history of this
country, point out an instance of such a punishment as that



which was proposed by the bill ? He warned them against
of multiplying new codes of penal laws, and ofthe policy

oppressive restrictions beyond what the temper
oletluienl peopleiil could bear ? But in answer to all this, they had
been told, that the corresponding and other societies did such
end such things ; and he was applied to on a former night,
by an honourable gentleman, who said, that he avoided
stating his opinion upon those societies. He did not avoid
stating his opinion. That honourable gentleman had asked
him, what those societies meant ? To that question he had
answered, that he could not decisively say, because he be-
lieved there were some in that society who meant one thing
and some another. He had distinctly said, that there might be
a few persons in those societies hostile to the constitution, but
the greater number he believed to be sincere in the object
which they professed — a parliamentary reform. That there
might be others who had different views he did not deny;
but he could not separate the whole from a part ; and there-
fore in the mass lie gave them, as he thought he ought, credit
for the sincerity of their professions. Such he should always
give to large bodies of people. There had been long established
in this town a society against what were called republicans
and levellers. What was his opinion of that society ? The
same as his opinion was of the corresponding society ; that
they were in a mass sincere in what they professed ; that they
were in favour of the constitution. Did he believe that one
of them wanted to overturn the monarchy of this country, and
the other to make it absolute ? No such thing; he gave them
each credit for being sincere in preserving the constitution ;
the one dreading one event, the ether dreading the oppo-
site event. He knew none of the kaders of the corresponding
society ; he however knew the leading member of the society
against republicans and levellers ; be know lqr. Reeves. Ile
knew lie had published libels after libels, attacking the con-
stitution ; that he had, year after year, circulated such publi-
cations ; that he had circulated a pamphlet, a direct libel on
that House, in which it was said that rotten boroughs, ex-
travagant courts, selfish ministers, and corrupt majorities were
ssential to the well-being of the constitution of the country,


conclusionto be drawn . from such abominable doctrine,
he did not ascribeoe to every man in that society; the greater

believed to have united, in order to guard the

stitution against a danger, which they supposed to bepressing and imminent. The few who took advantage
of theiragefears f01 • t le constitution, in order to forward their own de-

signs for its destruction; of those he judged from their actions.
Ile knew that, with respect to those societies, there were


violent opinions on both sides ; but he saw Mr. Reeves's SA*
ciety with as much industry, and with more means, because.
with more money, circulating such doctrines as were contained
in the sentence he had just quoted ; he saw circulated by the
same authority a book called " John Bull to Thomas Bull," ,
and he saw such doctrines accompanied with incendiary hand-
bills against the protestant dissenters, and fraught every
species of gross and inflammatory misrepresentation. He
saw, on the other hand, libels ascribed to the corresponding
society, so monstrous, that he could only compare them with
the ()Oilers to which he had referred ; with this difference, that
when it was proposed to enquire into their authenticity, the
proof was denied. He would say, therefore, that those who
professed that they had no other aim but a reform of parlia-
ment were in earnest in the mass, as he said of the society
against republicans and levellers, and he saw no ground for a
parliamentary provision against the mass of either society,
although individuals among the , members of each of them
might deserve censure,

His two principal objections to the bill, Mr. Fox repeated
-it, were, that it narrowed the power of the jury in cases of
treason, and that it provided for misdemeanours a new pu-
nishment, which would apply with undistinguished severity to
the greatest and least degrees of delinquency. The honour-

. able and learned gentleman had stated the increased and in-
creasing number of libels as a justification of the present bill;
some of these libels, he understood, had been punished pretty
severely; and the publishers, who might have been in their
beds at the time the books were sold, and who at any rate
had only been in the exercise of their business, without being
aware that they were committing a breach Of the law, had
been confined for two or three years. Some had been con-
victed on the oaths of witnesses notoriously perjured. One
man had been convicted and punished at Manchester, on the
oath of a person named Dunn, who was afterwards proved to
be guilty of perjury, and another upon the same evidence
at Lancaster.

It had been said by the honourable and learned gentleman
that libels were so numerous that they could no longer be pro-
secuted. Was he satisfied that the severity of the bill would
infallibly diminish their numbers, or that he should be able
more safely to apply the new law than the old ? If there was
a spirit of discontent so widely diffused in the country, and
still likely to increase, arising, as he verily believed, from the
bad administration of public affairs; and as the honourable.
and learned gentleman thought from the obstinacy and per,
verseness of tie people ; it would be proper, in' order to stop


the progress of the evil, to send whole fleets of libellers to
Botany Bay. The honourable and learned gentleman had
spoken of libels against the king and other persons. His
opinion was, that libelling the king and individuals had not
been sufficiently punished. He would prosecute with the
utmost severity, all libels on the characters of persons, with
whatever party they were connected. The most exemplary
rigour of that sort he would connect with equal temperance
in respect to libels of another description. He would punish
whatever reflected on the dignity of the chief magistrate, or
the fair fame of individuals; but all political libels he would
leave to themselves ; discussions on government, so far as
they did not interfere with private character, he would per-
mit to pass entirely unrestrained; that was the way to make
the press respected and useful; and lie was convinced, that
if this policy had been adopted sooner, things would not have
been in the situation in which they were at present ; but such
was not the object of the bill; the chief point which its pro-
moter had in view was to terrify the people from making free
with him under the name of government. Mr. Fox concluded
with declaring himself against the principle of the present bill.
He should therefore vote against the Speaker leaving the
chair. If another bill should be brought in less exceptionable
in its clauses, and better calculated to answer the purpose ill
view, he should have no objection to give it his support.

The House divided on the question, That the Speaker do leave
the chair,

Tellers. Tellers.yEAS Mr.John Smyth"), ,
Mr. Whitbread"v,i• s20 .3 .---Noest Mr. Anstruther J i vetr. Jekyll S `P°

December 3.

A debate took place on the third reading of the seditious
meetings bill. The bill was supported by Mr. Hardinge, Mr. N.
kontaele Mr. Powys, Mr. Abbot, and Mr. Dundas ; and opposed
by Mr. Sheridan, Mr. William Smith, and Mr. Grey. Mr. AbbotConcluded his speech with these words : " It must ever live in our
memoq, for the words sunk dee p

into our minds, that the right ho-
nourable gentleman, whose words are still unexplained, (Mr. Pox, )
did openf3', declare, that if these laws should be ratified by the
royal sceptre, and the people of England should afterwards ask of
hint, what they ought to do ? He would tell them :

is no

longer a question of duty, it is no longer to question of moralation; it is a question of mere prudence alone, whether you
should obey or resist.' I endure the painful task of repeating
these words, only to ground a representation to that right ho-


pourable gentleman who so spoke; and I conjure him to speak
out again, in terms not ambiguous, nor oracular, but plainly and
distinctly ; Whether now, if these laws, amended as they are,
shall be passed, he will again repeat his signal to the inquiring
people of England, and bid them wzfurl the standard of rebellion?'

Mr. Fox immediately rose. He said he was called upon in
a very polite and civil, but at the same time in a very unpar-
liamentary manner in that House to account for his conduct.
The honourable gentleman might have taken notice of the
whole that he had said on a former night. He would then
have afforded him an opportunity of restating his words if
they had been misconceived ; upon all this he had no par-
ticular complaint to make; he should only say, that the prac-
tice of attacking a member of parliament for what he said on
former occasons, in that general manner, was wholly new in
the course of parliamentary debates. That an y individual
member, for he made a difference between such a character
and a member of his majesty's council, should be thus called
to account, was very extraordinary, and what the honourable
gentleman, when he had taken more pains to become ac-
quainted with the usages of the House, whatever abilities he
might display in his speech, and however politely he might
conduct himself, would not he was persuaded frequently prac-
tise. Indeed, there was hardly any part of the speech of that
honourable gentleman which, in former times, would have been
suffered to be delivered in that House. He wished to know
whether it would be of advantage to the proceedings of that
House, that the sentiments of every individual, and every part
of his parliamentary conduct should be the subject of particular
debates, unless part of that conduct was such as called for the
particular cognizance of the House ? He knew there was
a species of artifice, of which he did not accuse the honourable
gentleman, to call on individuals in advanced stages of debates
upon a bill, to explain what they bad formerly said, and this
was done with a view of making it impossible to have a fair
debate. This he had experienced more than once; lie hoped
however he possessed a temper that was not to be discomposed
by such an artifice, and at the same time not to be damped
by any species of catechism.

The honourable gentleman had asked him questions, with
regard not only to expressions which he had used on a former
debate, but also with regard to his former conduct; and he
seamed to think he had a right to know why he did not at-
tend the committee on the present bill. He thought he had
told that honourable gentleman and the House already his
reason for his non-attendance. He would repeat it. it was



because the principle of the bill was so detestable, so radi-
cally vicious, and so dangerous to the constitution of this
country, that he believed it to be impossible to amend it to
any good purpose. He did not wish to gild a pill which con-
tained in its essence such a noxious medicine. He wished to
speak plainly upon such a subject, and he scorned to defend
himsclt by any species of garbled explanation. He believed
that he was not singular, nor were those with whom he acted
singular, in abstaining from the committee upon this bill. He
would ask gentlemen who were so forward to put questions to
him upon this occasion ; nay, he would ask those who were
the most forward to countenance the practice, but who did
not choose to come forward themselves with such catechisms,
whether they did or did not aftend the committee on the
India bill, which be had formerly brought forward in that
House? Whether they had attempted in a committee to gain
something in that bill for the East-India company? It was
well known they declined altogether to attend that committee.
Why ? They stated, that they conceived the principle of tho
bill (whether right or wrong, was another question,) to be so bad,
that they would not endeavour to amend it in the committee.
Let him ask the right honourable gentleman and the majority
of that House, who seemed to have forgotten the conduct of
the minister and his adherents upoa that occasion, whether
they would not then have blamed him if he had asked them
whether they did not think that their country would regard
them as acting with partiality ? But. he never thought of cen-
suring the right honourable gentleman for his conduct on that
occasion, or- of inquiring into the grounds of his secession.
He put it to the candour of the House, if it was worthy of the
the character of gentlemen, or if they imagined that the
country would really consider those as honest men, who at-
tacked the same measure in one man, which they applauded
in another, merely because he had the influence of the crown
at his back, and because he had places and pensions and peer-
ages to bestow? In his own opinion, such conduct reflected
as little credit on their honesty as patriots, as on their under-
standings as men. He knew the honourable gentleman to
whom Ile alluded to be versed in the proceedhe.

of parlia-is
ment, and with the knowledge which he possessed he certainly
could not be ignorant that at one time there was a regulation
that no one who disapproved of the principle should attend
ou the commitment of a bill. The rule, however, had not,
of late, been rigidly observed; nor did he himself wish to ob-
serve it in every instance ; there might, indeed, be cases in

he disapproved of the principle of a bill, and yet mightbe induced to attend the detail of it in a committee. But

then it must be such a bill as would be capable of being mc,
dined by amendment, so as possibly to produce some good.
With regard to the present measure, he was clearly of opi-
nion, that no amendment whatever could make the bill safe,
wise, just, or in any sense constitutional.

With respect to the other points, which the honourable
gentleman had stated against him, and on which he had been
so much catechised, although he disapproved of such a mode
of debate altogether, as a personality, it did him no injury,
because he never had expressed an opinion, in that House or
out of it, which, if he had reason to alter, he was not ready
to retract; or to which, if he still continued in the same
opinion, he was not willing to adhere. The honourable gen-
tleman had said, that he had explained away at one time,
what he had said at another. He would ask that gentleman,
whether this was a fair charge, whether it was correct in
point of fact, whether it was candid in point of inference?
That honourable gentleman had stated certain words of his,
but had omitted to accompany those words with the reason
which followed them. The honourable gentleman had charged
him with stating a certain doctrine, to which he was still
ready to adhere; the honourable gentleman, however, had
omitted to accompany that doctrine with the application of it.
Ile would ask that honourable gentleman, was it in reality
to the doctrine, or the application of it, that he objected ? He
thought a just, or a candid, or a wise man, would have en-
deavoured to understand the distinction between a doctrine
in itself dryly laid down, and the application of that doctrine.
This applied to what he had formerly said, when he had stated
what it was that would justify resistance on the part of the
people of this country. He never said any thing upon that
topic, which he was not prepared to defend; and what he had
asserted from principle, he would scorn to explain away,from.
caution. He was ready, therefore, to repeat the doctrine
he bad stated to its full extent, and he would repeat, that
neither lords nor commons nor king, no nor the whole legis-
lature together, were to be considered as possessing the power
to enslave the people of this country ; they might separately
or unitedly do such acts as might justify resistance from the
people.. Was this doctrine false ? 'Was it necessary to urge
any argument to support its truth ? It was a doctrine which
he had learnt from his early youth. He had been taught it not
only by Sydney and by Locke, but by Sir George Savile and
the late Earl of Chatham. Had he any fear upon uttering
this doctrine ? Yes; one fear he confessed he had, and that
was, lest same persons might imagine that he was too pusil-
lanimous to maintain this doctrine without referring to audio-




to support it, and that he might be considered as a slave
rauthority. To avoid this, he would state, at once, that, if
to o authority to support it, he would maintain it bythere was nhimself. He was not singular, however, in that opinion ; fbr
he believed that every man who really valued the principles of
our constitution, entertained the same sentiment ; and this had
been eloquently expressed in a celebrated sermon recently
preached by Dr. Watson, the present Bishop of Landaff.

Mr. Fox said, that he himself had no such idea of the om-
nipotence of the whole legislature of the country, as to

that it could not so conduct itself as to justify the resist-

ance of the people. It was more necessary than ever to main-
tain this doctrine ; since it had of late become the fashion in
that House to refer to precedents in the slavish reign of the
Stuarts. It seemed that some gentlemen were extremely fond
of reviving doctrines that were popular in those abject times.
Many men, of slender talents, had been encouraged by the
countenance which that eloquent man, and great genius, Mr.
Burke, had lately been supposed to give them. He lamented
that talents so brilliant should have been so employed ; they
had contributed, in a great degree, to render odious principles
palatable. He trusted, however, that the spirit, the energy,
the vigour of the English character, was not to be depressed;
and that there would be always found in the country men bold
enough to assert, aye and to maintain also, that king, lords,
and commons, uniting to compose a legislature, might so con-
duct themselves as to justify resistance on the part of the people.
Did any man say, or would any man maintain, that they were
so omnipotent that nothing which they did could justify the
resistance of the people? He believed there was not one,
amongst the most base, contemptible, and servile of mankind,
who was yet prepared to stale, that the people could, in no
case, be justified in resistance, even to the whole legislature.

He came next to the application of this doctrine, which,
for some strange reason or other, those gentlemen who ac-
cused him, bad totally omitted in the course of the late de-
bates. In referring to that, the House would do him the jus-
tice to recollect, that when he spoke of resistance, he did not
speak of actual resistance, or the propriety of it at the present
tinge ; he only stated it as an argument, to spew that it might
be just; and he observed, that it ought to be considered at-
tentively by that House, when they were passing a bill, which,
if all its provisions were enforced, after the declared sense of
the majority of the people was against it, might provoke that
resistance. He was sure that the House would also do him
the justice to recollect, that he z,uraed it as an advice to the go-verttors, not an incitement to the governed. Let gentlemen,

VOL. Yr.


then, not mistate his words, or the meaning of them, nor mis-
represent them again. He was not, he said, surprised at the
misrepresentation that had taken place ; since the same thing
had happened with regard to the words of his honourable
friends upon the same subject, and particularly those of his
honourable friend (Mr. Sheridan,) who had been accused that
night of having recommended passive resistance. In that case,
he must declare, that his honourable friend had been very un-
fairly treated. Be had not recommended resistance, either
passive or active; he had more than once or twice, in discus-
sing the subject of resistance, stated, that if there should be
any persons determined to make resistance, the mode he should
recommend them to adopt would be that of a passive nature.
That, however, as well as other expressions, had been taken
without the qualifications by which they were accompanied,
which marked too plainly the sort of candour that was shewn
to himself and his honourable friends. But, after inflicting
the most cruel wounds upon the constitution, the only re-
source which was left them, was to cover their conduct by
misrepresentation, and of this resource, he allowed, they
availed themselves in its utmost latitude.

Mr. Fox said, he was not a correct measurer of words;
but at the same time, when his meaning depended upon the
precise expressions which he employed, he did not chase that
his words should be misrepresented, or, what was the same
thing, partially given. The honourable gentleman had stated,
that on a former evening he had shortly said, that if the pre-
sent bill should pass into a law, resistance would no longer be a
question of duty but of prudence. This he certainly said,
but lie would have it recollected that he said a good deal
more. His expressions were, that if the bill now before the
House should pass into a law, contrary to the sense and opi-
nion of a great majority of the nation, and if the law, after
it was passed, should be executed according to the rigorous pro-
visions of the act, then, in that case, resistance would not be a
question of duty but of prudence. These were the words which
he had used, and from which he would not now depart. And
if the general doctrine was admitted to be true, and if it was
the opinion of the country, that the bill was a direct invasion
of the rights of the subject, and a daring attempt to subvert
the constitution, the application of the doctrine could not be
false. The nature and tendency of the bill was the point at

issue between him and the honourable gentleman ; and upon
this point the House was now called upon to decide. He had
laboured to prove that it not only struck at the out-works and
bulwark of the constitution, but that it struck at the very vitals,
and went tctondermine the pillars upon which the fabric rested.


This he had not only stated as an Opinion, but he had argued
it in different stages of the bill, and though he had not been
so fortunate as to convince the House, it was neither arro-
gance nor presumption in him to affirm, that his arguments
were completely satisfactory to himself, and that they never
had been answered. And if the House consented to any bill,
the real effect of which was to give a mortal stab to the con-
stitution, he could not understand how any man could deny,
that resistance on the part of the people involved only a question
of prudence, and not of duty, if it was at all their province to
guard it from danger, or to repel the assailant. The honourable
n ,

gentleman, however, was not content with imputing to him the
fecision on the question of right; he also thought fit to make

him decide upon the question of prudence, a question on which
he had left the people entirely to determine for themselves.
In talking of resistance, however, he must again observe, that
he could not recommend it; for prudence, in his opinion, dic-
tated quietness to mankind under many severe oppressions.
There was a maxim from a celebrated character of antiquity,
of which he was fonder at this time than when the ardour of
youth had greater influence on his passions. The more he
thought, the more he was convinced of the philosophy of the
maxim, Iniquissimam pacem justissimo bellu antefero. That
appeared to him to be one of the wisest sayings of that wise
man, and it expressed his opinion upon the point of prudence
in these cases. He must also add, that if the people of this
country, who felt that they were called by Providence into a
free state, should revolt at such a measure as the present bill,
he should not wonder at it. If they saw a conspiracy against
that liberty which made them happy, a conspiracy proved, as
it was, by the bill—for the bill repealed the bill of rights, and
reduced Englishmen to the character of slaves—he should not
wonder if they resented it. If, therefore, regardless of the
maxim which he had just quoted, the people of England

t might

be so unwise as to commit acts of resistance, ministers
might condemn them, parliament might condemn them, the

ig t condemn them, prudence might condemn them, but
he believed no good man could ever accuse them of moral

The honourable gentleman had been pleased to accuse him
roundly for sentiments which he had uttered on a former
night, and which he now repeated. He would ask that ho-
nourable gentleman, if he approved of the names of Sydney
and Russell? Were they dear to that honourable gentleman ?
" Dear to me they are (said Mr. Fox); dear is their very
name ; dear to this country are the descendants of the illustri-
ous Russell. I see the spirit of .

that great men at this day


animating his . descendant ; I see-a man of high rank, splendid
talents, and patriotic spirit, emulating the virtues of his an-
cestor: I admire his principles, they adorn his character, and

• will I hope be rewarded with glory. I say he emulates thd:.
virtuous principles of his ancestor. Perhaps, some people
in this country wish he may share his fate. I, assuredly, have
no such wish ; but I have hopes, when I see the descendant at
the illustrious Russell possessing the spirit, the patriotism, the
fortitude, and the perseverance of his ancestor, that he will be
rewarded in like manner by the affections of an admiring
people. Why do we admire the great characters of Russell
and Sydney? Is it because they were unjustly condemned ?
Certainly they were unjustly condemned, for they were con-
demned illegally, on defective evidence, and against law. But
although they were thus condemned, is there a man this day
who has read their history, and does not believe they had in
contemplation a resistance to the prince then upon the throne?
Why do we admire them then ? The simple injustice of their
execution .could have reflected disgrace only upon their ac-
cusers, and their judges. No; it is because we know they
had that resistance in contemplation ; that they were determi-
ned to resist principles which then prevailed; principles which
were odious to the people of this country, much too nearly re-
sembling some modern doctrines among ourselves : they found
the law insufficient, and they endeavoured to bring about a
revolution favourable to the liberties and rights of English-
men ; and if this be the cause at present, the question
is still nothing but a question of the application of the same
principle. These are the reasons why we admire the characters
of these great men, and admired they will be while a spark of
liberty. animates the bosom of an Englishman." These, Mr.
Fox said, were his sentiments ; and he would maintain them
to the hour of his death. If others, who heard him, did not
approve of them, let them use what arts they pleased to blacken
him in the opinion of his countrymen ; he would still perse-
vere; for he knew he had pronounced principles, independent
of which his present majesty never could have been placed
upon the throne of these kingdoms.

He wished it again to be understood, that he did not mean
to shelter himself under the authority of names; he spoke for
himself; but he could not here help referring to the venerable
Earl of Chatham's speech on the American war. That great
statesman had said, " that he rejoiced the Americans had re-
sisted." A noble sentiment ! and although he differed on other
points from that illustrious man, he would say, that in that
event he rejoiced also; for considering the point which was
then at issue between America and this country, the had rather


America should be independent of Great Britain, than
that, by the meanness of her servitude, she should have in-
fected this country by the baseness of her own slavery. Upon
that occasion Lord Chatham had said, in his own peculiarly

emphatic strain, 44 rather than slavery should be established, let
discord reign for ever ;" and "old as he was, he wished to
see the question tried between government and the people."
The phrase was, perhaps, a. little harsh, but the principle was
excellent. He was sure he had heard similar sentiments from
the late Sir George Savile. But after all, he would beg
leave to say, that, of all the attacks to which he knew he was
exposed, there was but one he feared ; that of incurring the
charge of pusillanimity. He must therefore again say, that,
from the course of his education, from the disposition of his
mind, and from the principles he had uniformly maintained, in

that House and out of it, he should be a fool if he did not
believe these principles to be true, and a coward if he did not
profess them.

Mr Fox then adverted to another article of charge, which
had been brought against him ; namely, withdrawing from
the committee on the bill. The motive which had been as-
cribed to this proceeding was very extraordinary indeed. For
how the honourable. gentleman could make out, that he had
obtained a

• triumph over his rival by -withdrawing from the
committee, he could not conceive. Had he attended, and
persuaded the House to alter some of the most obnoxious
clauses, then- with some justice, perhaps, he might have got
the credit of a triumph ; but it was the first time he had ever
heard that to absent one's self from a debate was the way to
obtain a victory. But, when he attributed his conduct on
that occasion partly to another motive, which was, that the
bill might go-into the country with all its limits upon its head,
the supposition was not so incorrect, and, as far as it imputed
a crime, he would plead guilty to the charge. He confessed
that he wished the bill to go abroad in its native deformity, as
it was impossible for any amendment to render it worthy Of
retaining a place in the statute books of the kingdom.

On the different clauses of the bill he would not enter
much at large, after the eloquent and irresistable speech which
had been delivered by his honourable friend, no argument of
which had ever been touched. There was only one or two
points on which he wished to make a few remarks. It had been
contended by a learned gentleman (Mr. Hardinge), that not
only meetings which were really dangerous ought to be stopt, butb
that all meetings whatever, whether the debates were inflam-
matory- or argumentative, ought to come within the operation
of the bill. The learned gentleman saw that it was impossible


accurately to draw the limits between one speech that was
merely argumentative, and another which might contain some
appeals to the passions, and therefore he wisely confounded
all those trifling distinctions, and brought both within the
reach of the law. For instance, were he, in a public meeting,
to state coolly and dispassionately, the inadequacy of our re-
presentation, and the disproportionate influence of Old Sarum
to some large and populous towns, in choosing their representa-
tives, he might be taken up for sedition, a justice or magistrate
might dissolve the meeting, and, on their refusing to disperse,
he might call in the military to murder them. With respect
to the conduct of magistrates, he had little to add to what had
been said by his honourable friend. He bad received a letter,
however, that day, from a most respectable magistrate, who
held that office muchto his honour, and the benefit of the place
in which he resided, in which he expressed his terror at these
bills. Heretofore, men of different political principles had
held the office of magistrates together, and, forgetting all
private opinions on politics, had united in consulting the in-
terests of the poor, and in forming plans for their relief; where-
as, henceforward they would be forced to depart from their
civil capacities to decide controversies between Mr. Burke and
Mr. Paine. In short, it would be almost impossible for two
men, differing in their political sentiments, however honest,
however expert, however useful in their office they might be,
to be in the same magistracy. They were directed by this
bill to check the progress of sedition in popular meetings.
How was it likely they should, for any length of time, agree
upon the propriety of interfering their authority, unless they
were all of One opinion?

In the course of the debates upon this subject, it had been
taken for granted, that the preamble of the bill was a proof
of the object of it. That was a curious way of taking a point
for granted; it never could be taken as a thing that was true
of course, and he did not believe it to be true in this instance.
The preamble of the bill talked of seditious meetings. A
learned gentleman had said, that as to the intention of these
meetings, he had evaded the question. That learned gentle-
man had asked what these societies were? A pretty compre-
hensive phrase, " corresponding and other societies !" He
had said, on a former occasion, that some of them meant one
thing, and some another. The learned gentleman had said
that was Scrub's answer. He really did not care whether it
was Scrub's answer, or the answer of any other person ; it
appeared to him to be the only good answer which a man
of common sense could make. Where there were a great
number of men, there must of course be a variety of senti-
ments, and upon that he must refer to the observations


already made by .his honourable friend. The general ,prin-
ciple of every society be took to be that which it professed.
He knew it might be said, that the language which was held
forth on behalf of these societies was moderated- in conse-
quence of the course which parliament was then taking.
The general principle of every society he took to be that
which it professed. It had been said that Thelwall had lately
become more moderate, and that his moderation proceeded
from terror of the strong measures now threatening to be
adopted. He could not speak to the fact; but if it was as
had been represented, he rather supposed that any improve-
ment in moderation had been owing to the prosecutions being
suspended by the attorney-general. For he was convinced,
that lenient measures would be more effectual than violent
steps, in subduing those who were disaffected to government.
Mr. Fox denied that there was any ground for the calumnious
allegations advanced against the meeting at Copenhagen-
house. The meeting had assembled in a legal and consti-
tutional manner, for the legal and constitutional object of
petitioning; but if there were a few individuals intent upon
desperate designs, that was no reason for throwing out a
general aspersion against the whole body. In great meetings
lie always conceived, too, that their ostensible object was their
real object, because it was impossible to bring twenty or thirty
thousand persons to practice dissimulation in unison. He
would ask any gentleman to show him the probability of a
person holding forth, in a very large popular assembly, any
doctrine that was not agreeable to the real feelings of the
mass of that society? He would ask any gentleman to give
him proof that the proceedings even at Copenhagen-house
were in any degree seditious, and to show him that the meet-
ing there had any idea of recommending an attack upon his
majesty? The petition presented to that House contained
sentiments of a different nature. He would ask the attorney-
general himself, if he knew of any

proceedines at that place

which called upon him to institute a prosecution ? What they
had done upon that subject could not have been blamed in the
bad reign of Charles II. whose shameful example they were
at this time so fond of servilely imitating. They had not
gone beyond the limits which were then prescribed to those
who wished to petition the king. He did not know that these
Proceedings opposed in the slightest degree, the sentiments of
those who censured Jeffreys and impeached North. He did
not know that they had clone any thing illegal; and he could
not presume the proceedings were seditious, merely because.
it was so insinuated in the preamble of the present bill. He
knew that to take any thing for granted, without evidence,




was contrary even to the principles laid clown in the slavish
reign of Charles II. and directly contrary to all the principles
of our constitution. But gentlemen, when they talked of
seditious meetings, adopted general terms —" these societies"
--by which they converted t"them as it were, into a species of
body corporate of sedition. Now, instead of considering them •
as a body corporate, he considered them just as he did every
other large body of men, as consisting of sonic good and some
bad persons; and the mass of that body he considered to be
good. Such lie had considered, and had. more than once
stated to be, the body of the society of which Mr. Reeves was
president. He knew, indeed, that some of the publications
of that gentleman, as also those of Mr. Arthur Young, were
directly hostile to the best principles of our constitution, and.
that they had been circulated with a mischievous avidity ; he
was, nevertheless, willing to allow that the mass of that society
were what they professed to be, namely, friends to the con-
stitution of this country, as consisting of king, lords, and
commons. Precisely the same. did he think of the London
Corresponding Society. By the way, there fell into his
hands very lately a pamphlet which contained much admir-
able reasoning; it was stated in the form of a dialogue, sup-
posed to have been supported by two opposite characters, the
one a friend, the other an enemy, to the London Correspond-
ing Society. The enemy says, " I hate the society because
it has for its object the destruction of all monarchy." The
friend says, " Have you found any thing of that kind in their
proceedings?" " No," says the other; " they are too cunning
to profess that." " What," says the friend of the society,
" were the 30,000 men all cunning?" Now, Mr. Fox said,
he fell very much in with this sort of reasoning, on behalf of
the society, because he believed it was very difficult to collect
together at any time, or at any place, 3 0,000 men, all of them
so cunning as to conceal their real object.

In proposing the question the other night to the pro-
moters of the bill, as to their opinions upon the effect it was
likely to have upon all societies, Mr. Fox declared he had not
done so for the purpose of endeavouring to amend the bill,
but merely to get, if he could, at the opinion of its authors as
to the probable extent of it. It had been contended, that the
sense of the people of this country was not averse to the
passing of the bills. If they had eyes and ears, he:could not
conceive how they could ever maintain such a proposition,
which the experience of every day demonstrated to be false.
And if they had lost the use of their senses, it was not to be
expected that he could make up the loss by any arguments
which he could adduce. Peace was said to have been the


charm which wrought upon the populace to make them sign

petition s against the hills ; but, were not loyalty to the sove-
•ian, and the support . of the constitution as popular words
as peace, and were they less frequently or less artfully used
to procure signatures to petitions of a different nature? But,
if gentlemen were willing to be deceived, in God's name let
them be deceived. If they would shut their eyes, let them
persist in their error. The opposers of the bills had also
been accused of misrepresentation; but he would ask on
*whom the suspicion of misrepresentation was most likely to
attach ? The accusers would not admit a day's delay, in order
to rectify these misrepresentations : whereas the accused wished
for nothing.

so much as for a little delay, to compare their
representations with the fact. With regard to what had been
said upon the general opinion of the public upon this mea-
sure, he believed it to be, in the true sense of the phrase, as
clearly against the general sense of the people of the country,
and as entirely unpopular, as any measure that had ever been
brought before parliament. That he was sure would be
evident to every unprejudiced man in the kingdom. Upon
looking at the petitions,

which had been presented, and.
stated to be in the nature of approbation of the bills, scarcely
one would be found directly to approve of them. They
prayed generally for such measures as the wisdom of parlia-
ment might adopt, and were founded chiefly on an idea on
which there could scarcely be two opinions in the country,
namely, that of congratulating his majesty on his fortunate
escape from the late daring outrage upon his person.

With regard to the general topic, that the present were fit
times for temporary restrictions upon popular rights, his
opinion was directly the reverse. He thought that the people
of the country were more enlightened at the present period
than ever they had been, and that they could be more safely'
trusted with liberty than the inhabitants of any other part of
the habitable globe; because, the better they understood the
principles of liberty, the better use would they make of them,
and consequently the more and more might and ought they
to be trusted with liberty. When gentlemen, therefore, asked
him what measure he would adopt to prevent confusion, he
would answer, " meet the evil; reform those who are adverse
to-your Constitution by reforming its abuses; reform —I do
not say upon what system, that may be discussed hereafter —
but reform the representation of the people in this House:
keep your word with the public: tell them they may safely
confide in your promise: proceed immediately to the abolition
of that infernal traffic the slave trade: shew them the con-
stitution of this country in its perfection : show them that.


TREASON AND SEDITION /311.,Ls. [Dec. to,

is favourable to the principles of liberty, and then your
enemies will be so few that you indeed may despise them.
These, Sir, are the points by which you will preserve the
constitution of this country. I know that liberty is the
greatest blessing that mankind can enjoy, and peace the next;
but, 'from the experience I have had of the human character,
and particularly of the people of England, persuaded I am
that this bill will drive the people to this alternative: they will
feel that peace and liberty cannot be enjoyed if the provisions
of this bill be enforced. If the provisions of this bill be still
obstinately endeavoured to be carried into effect, the attempt
will disgrace our government. I know that some persons
are of opinion, that, if this bill be not passed, government will
be disgraced; and I believe that some of the promoters of it
are of that opinion, and therefore wish to pass this bill ; but
that they do not intend to act upon it. I think that would
be next to throwing out the bill. As for myself, said Mr.
Fox, let gentlemen catechise me as much as they please ;
let them spread papers, stating me to be the enemy of my
country; let them blacken me as much as they please; let
them even be successful, if they can, in their endeavours to
make me odious to my countrymen ; still will I persist in
doing my duty to the public, and never relinquish it but with
my life. I am not vain enough to suppose, that any efforts
of mine have contributed much , to the spirit and the energy
which has been manifested in this country; I should be proud
to think they bad; I should be glad to learn that any efforts
of mine had contributed to awaken my countrymen to a sense
of the value of their own freedom. A great orator, whose
chief defect has frequently been stated to be vanity, has said,
Nobile .jusjuranans juravi, ne quid omitterem ut Ilespublica
denique salva sit. That is far from being my opinion of myself:
but ambitious I am to preserve the liberties of my country.
I have therefore opposed these bills; and I trust the spirit of
the country will resent them, especially as they are avowedly
only a part of what is intended for them by those ministers,
who have brought on the present distresses of the country.

The House divided:

266--No ES
T .ellers

YEAS {Mr. A. Neville ') 1 Mr. Sheridan.Mr. Steele 3 Mr. Whitbread P •

December t o.
The motion for the third reading of the treason bill was this

day strongly opposed by Mr. Harrison, General Tarlcton, Mr.

I 795'1


Western, Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Maurice Robinson, Mr. Jekyll, and
my. Fox ; and supported by Mr. Alderman Newnham, Sir W.
Pulteney, Mr. Hawkins Browne, Mr. Jcnkinson, the attorney-
general, and Mr. Pitt.

Mr. Fox said, he entirely agreed with his honourable and
learned friend (Mr. Jekyll) in thinking that there were no terms
of reprobation and contempt too severe for the two important
bills which ministers had brought, on the sudden, into parlia-
ment. After hearing several speeches of the learned attorney-
ceeneral with all the attention of which he was capable, and
after examining minutely the amendments which the present
bill had undergone in the committee, he confessed that at
that moment, as much as ever, he was disposed to object to
every tittle and clause of it. He still retained the same ob-
jections against the clauses relative both to sedition and misde-
meanor that he had ever entertained. He was prejudiced
against the bill from its very preamble. An outrage had been
committed upon the person of the sovereign, and a new enact-
ment was made, not for the better security of the life of the
king, for that was impossible, but to constitute an attempt to
overawe the Houses of parliament into a substantive treason.
He was told that the present bill was merely declaratory ; and
he was told, at the same time, that it was merely temporary :
now, a temporary declaratory bill, he had no hesitation to
pronounce an absurdity, and a contradiction in terms.

That the bill went to create new treasons had been con-
fidently denied; he must, however, affirm the direct contrary,
and assert that it did create new treasons, if it was admitted
that there was any difference between an act being high trea-
son, and an act being only evidence of high treason. At
present, an overt act was an evidence of high treason; but by
the provisions of this bill, those acts which were before only
evidence of treason, became in themselves substantive treasons.
And if' new substantive treasons were created, new construc-
tions would be made upon these treasons; so that not only
all the constructions of the present statute would be . con-
stituted into substantive treasons, but new constructions would
arise upon these new created treasons, which would perplex
the statute to a degree that would render it impossible to be
fairly understood. He had no objection to a declaratory

'explanatory of the statute of Edward III., by which it
might be reduced to its plain, simple, and original meaning.
1'he bill, however, he did not consider to be by any
means calculated for that purpose. It was, indeed, the fashion
to say, that it was necessary to give sonic additional security
to the person of the sovereign. He would nevertheless con-



tend, that it was not the natural effect of the extension of
penal laws to confer security; and he appealed to the history
of the world for the truth of his opinion. He asked, if ever
there was an instance in any country in which the sovereign,
whether he was individual, or whether that power Was de-
puted to an assembly,. was indebted for security- -to the se-
verity of a penal code? He called upon the House to look
into the history of the bad times of the world, and to com-
pare his observation with facts : and, if they were not sa-
tisfied with that comparison, he desired that they would
judge of it upon the experience of more modern times.Was the overthrow of the primitive monarch y of France
owing to lenient laws, or a lenient execution of those laws ?
And when the government of France was overturned, was the
fall of Robespierre owing to the gentleness of his principles, or
the mildness of those laws which he had framed for the pur-
pose of protecting his person ? If they looked to the assassi-
nation of the King of Sweden, would they attribute that event
to the extension of liberty, or to an unusual licence of speak-
ing and of writing ? Or would they not rather ascribe it to
the enraged fimaticism of the people, at seeing themselves de,
prived of those liberties in which they were born, and under
which they thought they had a right to live ? From what
time were the regulations of the present bill borrowed ? Were
they not copied from the reign of Charles II., a prince against
whom, certainly, not the fewest personal. attacks had been

As far, then, as the bill respected the law of treason, in his
opinion, it created new substantive treasons, by constituting
an attempt to overawe the parliament an overt act of treason.
What was to be construed an attempt to overawe the parlia-
ment? Did the framers of the bill intend that an attempt to
overawe the parliament, by the violence of prayer and of
petition, should be considered as an overt act of treason? •
But,: if they meant to affix the penalty to hostilities directed
against parliament, the provision, he considered, as super-
fluous, as it would be impossible to wage hostilities against
either house of parliament, without, in the first place, making
an attack upon the person of the sovereign. It had been
stated, that a convention had met for the express purpose of
overawing the legislature; but of this he had never heard any
proof. He had some material objections to another clause
respecting treason, which had been somewhat altered in the
committee, but which in some respects had not been altered
for the better. The clause to which he referred was that in
which " writing or overt act or deed " was mentioned. The
word " other" was put out, bat he could not understand what


lens meant by the words which were suffered to remain, for if
there was either sense or grammar in the expression, some-
thing else than an overt act was meant. And if writing was,
contra-distinguished from an overt act, to be considered as a
substantive treason, he demanded with what propriety, or
upon what grounds it was declared, that the present bill was
merely explanatory of the statute of Ed ward

Having said this much upon the treason part of the bill,

which he thought the least objectionable, he proceeded to re-
mark upon the clause respecting misdemeanour. And here
also it was contended, that the bill did not go to create any
new misdemeanour, which he positively denied ; because, the
judge would have it in his power to say to the jury, " Do you
find that these words and sentences were spoken with a design
to excite the hatred and contempt of the people against the

House of Commons as at present constituted ?" and if the jury
should find such a design to be proved, the court would have
nothing to do but to claim the right of explaining the law, and,
under the legal construction of the act, to enforce its penalties.
Upon this principle, a meeting could not be held for petitioning
ibr a reform in parliament, without incurring the penalties de-

' nounced in the provisions of the act. With regard to the
penalty of transportation for the second offence, he did not
think that the arguments which he had adduced on a former
night had ever been answered. He had then asserted, what
he was not now disposed to retract, that the same offence
ought never to be punished with different penalties, particu-
lagneyNev.hen there were diffiirent shades and degrees •in the

Gentlemen on the other side had pleaded the power of his
majesty to pardon, as an extenuation of the severities of the
act. This privilege Mr. Fox considered as absolutely neces-
sary in a goverment similar to that of England ; but there
Was a wide difference between this privilege when applied to
genera! and to political crimes. It was notorious, that this
privilege of the king was controuled in its exercise by his mi-
'lister& In cases of felony he would trust the compassion of
iniyii )minister, but in state prosecutions he would be backward
in trusting any minister, because these were connected with
circumstance in which ministers were particularly interested.
Far less would he trust the present ministers, who had sanc-
tioned the iniquitous and cruel sentences of the court of jus-

i "I I.

Scotland; sentences not less execrable than any
which had been passed in the reigns of Queen Mary, or of
Cha les

It was said that sedition was the reigning crime of the day :
if it was, it looked ill for administration ; because popular


discontent was the usual and, indeed, the natural consequence
of ministerial misconduct; and he ventured to predict, that if
the present system was obstinately pursued, still more alarm-
ing consequences would ensue. Such laws as the present bills
would constitute against sedition, were to him objects of ab-
horrence, because they were novelties unknown to the Eng-
lish constitution. He was more and more convinced of the
rectitude of his opinion, when he reflected on the detestable
system of criminal law practised in Scotland ; the iniquitous
and cruel sentence of the court of justiciary in which part of
the kingdom, his majesty's ministers had not only sanctioned
but elaborately defended. The trial of Mr. Muir, and the
other unfortunate gentlemen who suffered a similar fate,
Mr. Fox said he could never think of without expressing his
utmost abhorrence. The sentence was an eternal disgrace to
the court ; and the Scotch judge who had affirmed, that no
punishment was too severe for the man who was guilty of
sedition, that the wretch ought to be exposed to wild beasts—
that judge, Mr. Fox said, merited the universal execration of
mankind, and it would entail lasting disgrace on the present
times, as nothing more harsh, brutal, and unfeeling was to
be found. in the arbitrary and oppressive reigns of Charles II.
and Queen Mary. In the bill before the House, the abomi-
nably intolerant spirit of the Scotch court was attempted
to be established. The proceedings were a national disgrace,
and were not excelled in the barbarous code of the most bar-
barous ages. Had Mr. Muir's case been submitted to an
English jury, he would, undoubtedly, have been acquitted :
but, whether totally acquitted or not, he was fully persuaded
that he never would have been consigned to the sufferings
which he had experienced. The noble and generous spirit of
England would have revolted at such excessive and over-
strained punishments. And it ought never to be forgotten,
that, notwithstanding the grand jury found the bills against
the persons tried at the Old Bailey, the petty jury acquitted

Mr. Fox condemned the unlimited power which the bill was
about to repose in the executive government. By the infamy
of spies and intrigues, both he and his countrymen were ex-
posed to the indignation of the court party for the time being.
He deprecated such an unconstitutional power, and bestowed
unbounded praise on our ancestors for their wisdom in resist-
ing any appearance of such abominable encroachments upon
the liberties of the people. If the detestable spirit of the
Scotch law respecting sedition were established in this coun-
try, then farewell to all liberty of speech I farewell to the
familiarities of conversation The servant who stood behind

his chair, if wicked . enough, might betray him ; and, seduced
by those in power, might give information which would en-
danger both his liberty and his life. The abandoned maid-
servant of Mr. Muir had acted in a similar manner : violating
the confidence reposed in every servant by a master, she com-
municated to the friends of government the honest, midis-
cruised expressions of Mr. Muir's mind. All that he had fre-
quently expressed was, a wish for reform of the abuses which
he daily saw ; and no good man could lay his hand upon his
heart, and deny the rectitude of his mind, when provoked by
such a system as sullied the country which gave it birth.

Mr. Fox said, that even if Mr. Reeves should be found
guilty of the libel on that House, which had lately engaged
their notice : if he should be found to have recommended and
circulated another infamous libel against the constitution,
written by Arthur Young; arid if he should also be found to
have published at different times libels against the protestant
dissenters, marking them out as a description of people who
ought to be exterminated, he would even go upon his knees
to beseech his majesty not .to enforce against Mr. Reeves a
sentence of transportation.

A good deal had been said respecting his majesty's refusing
his assent to these bills. His own wish was for that preroga-
tive of the crown to remain dormant and quiescent. It was a
prerogative which, he believed, would only be a favourite,
while it was not attempted to be exercised. He trusted, that
if the bills should pass, they would meet with a speedy repeal.
He rather trusted that the people would petition his majesty
to dissolve parliament, which was their undoubted right, if
ever parliament had acted in such a way as to require an in-
terference of that kind. He rejoiced, that on the present occa-
sion, the spirit of the people had shewn itself to be alive; and
he trusted, that the display which had been made of the
energy of the public mind, would be attended with thehappiest effects. The bills formed a crisis in the history
of the country; inasmuch as they were a departure from
the whole system of the principles of the constitution.
The present bill was modelled upon an act of Charles II.
The people of England had, in his opinion, committed a
Worse offence, by the unconstitutional restoration of that mo-
narch, than even by the death of Charles I. It was a mea-
sure .

which originated in a period when the parliament gave
up to the king the disposal of the military force, and surren-dered the liberties of the people at the foot of the throne.
There was one clause in the act of Charles II., which spewed
the spirit of those times. By this clause it was made penal
to say the king was a papist. And why? Because such was


the precise fact. It was rather inauspicious in the present
moment, that it should be thought necessary that a bill
should be adopted to prevent people from telling the truth.
No man would say that George III. was a papist. But what
was the object of the present bill ? By this bill men were
forbidden to speak of the defects of government, and of those
abuses which were growing up from day to clay, to destroy
the spirit of the constitution. If ministers had not been
conscious of the existence of those defects, they would not
have forbidden men to discuss them. He had somewhere
read, that after the defeat of Brutus and Cassius, a decree
had been passed that Augustus, who was then raised to the
highest. dignities of the state, should not be called a boy, —
"puer, ne majestrati populi Romani detractaret." Augustus
passed no such decree at the latter end of his reign ; nor did
Tiberius, at any period, feel such a decree to be necessary.
The present was a law against proclaiming the defects of the
constitution, at a period when the government were every
day bringing on fresh abuses. The bill was itself an intole-
rable grievance. This is the last opportunity, (said Mr. Fox,)
that I may have to state my sentiments with respect to these
bills. I feel it therefore incumbent upon me to declare, that
my objections still remain unimpaired. The one is calcu-
lated to prevent the liberty of speech ; the other the liberty
of writing and publishing. If these bills be carried into
effect, and if their influence extend to the national character,
other nations will be enabled to say, that England, which has
conquered others, has at last made a shameful conquest of

The House divided on the motion, That the bill be read a third.
time :

Tellers. Tellers.

{Sir W. Yonne' C Mr. Jekyll}
Mr. John Smyth 2 26' No ES I Mr. Whitbread} 4'5'

The bill was then read a third time and passed.


November 23.

THIS clay, Mr. Sturt in presenting to the House the petitionof the London Corresponding .Society against the Treason
and Sedition bills, justified that body from the aspersions thrown

8 i1795'1

out against them and their writings ; and to prove that things at least
as exceptionable had appeared from the partizans of the ministry,
he read to the House several passages from a pamphlet, entitled,
" Thoughts on the English Government," written by Mr. Reeves,
the framer and president of the association against republicans
and levellers, and among others the following : " With the ex-
ception of the advice and consent of the two Houses of' Parlia-
ment, and the interposition of juries, the government, and the
administration of it in all its parts, may he said to rest wholly and
solely on the king, and those appointed by him. Those two
adiuncts of parliament and juries are subsidiary and occasional ;
but the king's power is a substantive one, always visible and active.
By his officers, and in his name, every tiling is transacted that
relates to the peace of the realm and the protection of the subject.
The subject feels this, and acknowledges with thankfulness a
superintending sovereignty, which alone is congenial to the sen-
timents and temper of Englishmen. In fine, the government of
England is a monarchy; the monarch is the ancient stock from
which have sprung those goodly branches of the legislature, the
Lords and Commons, that at the same time give ornament to the
tree, and afford shelter to those who seek protection under it.
But these are still only branches, and derive their origin and their
nutriment from their common parent; they may be lopped off, and
the tree is a tree still ; shorn, indeed, of its honours, but not like
them, cast into the fire. The kingly government may go on in
all its functions, without Lords or Commons, it has heretofore
done so for years together, and in our times it does so during
every recess of parliament ; but without the king, his parliament
is no more. The king, therefore, alone it is who necessarily sub-
sists without change or diminution ; and from him alone we un-
ceasingly derive the protection of law and government." Mr.
Stun then moved, that the House do order the attorney-general
to prosecute the author of the said pamphlet. The Speaker said
that the motion could not be made in that form. The honourable
member must first make his complaint, and then move that the
passage complained of be read by the clerk. Mr. Pitt said, he
would not say a word upon the merits or demerits of the pamphlet,
but he called upon the House to decide whether they ought to
sacrifice the important. subject of discussion, which was expected
to occupy the attention of the House a great part of the evening,
to a subject of inferior moment, which had accidentally oc-
curred. He therefore moved the order of the day. — Mr.
Jekyll hoped there was still enough of honour and indepen-
dence in a British jury, and virtue sufficient in English judges, to
bring the author to condign punishment. The question was not,
whether the House of Commons ought to be calumniated, but
whether it ought to be lopped off as an excrescence. He spoke
on the ground of privilege, and therefore the question which he
spoke to was entitled to the priority of every other discussion. He
appealed to the highest authority of the House if he was not per-
fectly in order. — The Speaker said, that questions of privilege
celit.oa r,ii: vi.lyclaimed a precedence in discussion; and all that Wag

necessary, to be done at present, was for the House to consider
whether it was a question of privilege.— Mr. Erskine, taking for
granted that the passage quoted from Mr. Reeves's pamphlet was
a libel, argued either that it was a question of privilege, or that
it was not. If it was not, he contended that it was prejudging
the case to direct the king's attorney-general to file any inform.
ation he had received against the libeller. But if it was a libel,
(and if it. was not, he knew not what was, for not only the con.
stitution, but the very existence of the House of Commons was
represented as a matter of little or no concern,) the only point to
be settled was, whether a libel upon the House of Commons was
or was not a question of privilege. Here Mr. Erskine referred to
the instance of the king versus Stockdale, in which the attorney-
general was directed to prosecute Stockdale for a breach of pri-
vilege of the House, not very dissimilar from the present. The
Speaker had given a decided opinion_ on the point, that a
question of privilege claimed a priority of discussion. The chan-
cellor of the exchequer, on the other hand, had pressed the im-
portance of the bill, as if the people of England were more
anxious to have their liberties taken away than to preserve the
very existence of the right of representation ; a position which
that right honourable gentleman might endeavour to palm upon
the House, but which would require much more ingenuity of ar-
gument than he could command to render it palatable. — Mr. Pitt
said, he did not mean to argue upon any of the sentiments con-
tained in the pamphlet ; the leading consideration was, whether
it was a breach of privilege or not ? And, if it was, he thought,
instead of recommending the attorney-general to prosecute, the
House should vindicate its privileges by acts of its own. How-
ever, he was at present for passing to the order of the day.

Mr. Fox considered the objection which had been started
by the chancellor of the exchequer as the strangest he had
ever heard. A member of parliament had complained of a
breach of privilege ; .and, because an informal remedy had
been proposed by a single individual, was this to alter the
fact in limine ? But the great object was to get forward to
the order of the day. Oh, how differently (exclaimed Mr.
Fox) do you feel on the code of liberty, and on the code of
despotism ! France emerged from a state of slavery, and
shook off the chains of her tyrants — a general alarm was
the consequence — an armament was ordered war was de,
dared — millions of treasure have been expended, and thou-
sands of lives have been sacrificed. Poland was robbed of
her liberties by the lawless grasp of overgrown ambition. In
.one speech of the minister, a lamentation was made over the
scene of oppression, and shortly after a treaty was signed to
guarantee the robbery The Corresponding Societies came
forward with spirit in the cause of parliamentary reform, and

-4 few paltry libels were published; the habeas corpus aCt was

suspended, indictments for high treason were drawn up; new
treasons were enacted, and the bill of rights was repealed.
A -more atrocious libel than any that had been published now
appears from the pen of a ministerial hireling, against the
House of Commons, and the motion which is made by the
chancellor of the exchequer is that we should proceed to
the other orders of the day Mr. Fox, though in general he
declared himself no friend to prosecution for opinions, called
upon the House to come forward on the present occasion,
in vindication of their privileges, their dignit y, and their

Mr. Windham said, that after hearing the passage read, he was
not prepared to deliver his mind upon it.; but it was not conform-
able to the interpretation given it by gentlemen. As far as he
was then prepared to decide on it, it might be perfectly innocent.
It was, he thought, merely the opinion or declaration of an
antiquarian or historian, speaking his sentiments of the British
constitution. It merely meant, that monarchy was antecedent to
the other parts of the constitution ; and might possibly survive or
subsist without them. It was merely such an opinion as an his-
torian might give of any form of polity. He was persuaded, that
if it were tried before that tribunal which gentlemen sentenced it
to, there was not sufficient to condemn it. With respect to the
person who was said to be the author, very indecent language;
had been used; but the gentlemen who so traduced his cha-
racter had good reason : he incurred their displeasure, in pro-
portion as he gained the good will of the country.

Mr. Fox said, that he was always sorry when he felt him-
self obliged to arraign the general character of any man;
but of Mr. Reeves he must say, that he never could mention
him with respect, since he saw in the public prints a letter
respecting him by Mr. Law. He asked, was this a solitary .
libel ? He always doubted the wisdom of prosecuting for opi-
nions ; but when opinions were made the grounds for the
alarming bills then pending, it was for the House to see,
whether they ought not to hold this libel in equal abhorrence
with any that ever came before them. He said, he was not
fond of prosecutions for opinion, and he proposed merely
that the House should publicly declare the sentiments they
entertained of this atrocious libel. Great God ! said Mr.
Fox, 'shall it go out into the world, that a gentleman of dis-
tinguished talents, and powerful influence in the cabinet,
holds the doctrine which this passage inculcates ! If he ad-
heres to that opinion, it is a demonstration that the system
of the cabinet is changed, that a settled plan of overthrowing.
the liberties of the people is _entertained. He was glad that

0 2

84 MR. REEVES'S LIBEL ON [Nov. 23.

those ministers who had been once his friends, were the per-
sons who displayed some openness and candour, for from
their declarations, the opinion of their colleagues was to be
gathered. He wished to know, whether the secretary at war
could possibly defend this libel as innocent; and therefore
he hoped that gentlemen would discuss it. He hoped the
House would come to no opinion on the passage, till they
had heard the context. He hoped that the House would
agree to the reacting of the whole of the pamphlet, and that
they would not proceed on detached scraps, as they did in
bringing in the bills.

The question was put, that the said pamphlet be read, which
-was agreed to without a division. After it had been read by the
clerk, Mr. Sheridan said, that it must now be admitted upon full
proof to be the falsest, foulest, dullest, and most malicious pamphlet
that had ever issued from a prostituted press. Doubts had been
stated, whether the author was of importance enough to attract
and call for the weighty and immediate notice of that House : but
they should consider, that this person was the main agent and
abettor of all those associations which originated and circulated
those alarms about French principles, that had contributed so
much to the unhappy state in which the country, stood at that
moment. He considered him however as too despicable for that
species of trial which Sacheverell, whose works contained no prin-
ciples more detestable, had suffered. He would therefore move,
" That the said pamphlet is a malicious, scandalous, and seditious
libel, reflecting on the glorious Revolution ; containing matter
tending to create jealousies and divisions among his majesty's loyal
subjects, to alienate their affections from our present happy form
of government, as established in king, lords, and commons, and
to subvert the true principles of our free constitution ; and that
the said pamphlet is a high breach of the privileges of this House."
The master of the rolls finding it impossible, he said, to make up
his mind to an instantaneous decision upon such a mass of matter,
moved, " That the said pamphlet be taken into further consider-
ation on Thursday." In this he was supported by Mr. Pitt and
Mr. Sergeant Adair ; and opposed by Mr. Erskine, who moved
that the word " to-morrow" be inserted instead of " Thursday."

Mr. Fox said, it had been asked, why he had not brought
on the consideration of the pamphlet before ? In answer to
which, he begged leave to say, that he did not know whether
be should have brought it on at all. He conceived that dan-
gerous opinions might be stated in a publication, and that yet

might not be of consequence to proescute the author. But
when such a publication as the present was brought forward
in that House ,it was then incumbent on them to show that they
Were not parties to libels upon the constitution, nor the pa-
-tioni of those by whom such libels were circulated. The



existence of the treason and sedition bills formed another
why this publication should not be passed by ; for if

was found that arbitrary doctrines were recommended, and

if arbitrary measures were in the course of being adopted by
ministers, he then thought it of consequence that the House
should not subscribe to the opinion of the right honourable
the secretary:of war, that the passage in that publication, which-
had been particularly referred to, appeared to be innocent.
A learned gentleman (Mr. Adair) admitted it to be a libel on.
the constitution, and yet was an advocate for delay. Why did
he not narrow his condemnation to the doctrines contained in
that particular passage ? Notwithstanding all the partiality of
ministers for arbitrary power, he did not conceive that many of
their advocates would be found to come forward to support
those doctrines. A delay, then, was on their part desirable, in-
order that they might concert, in the interval, whether any de-
fence could be set up for this passage, in all probability- the-
production of one of their own agents. But, he asked, was
this exceptionable passage so long, was it so doubtful, that
after having heard it once r ead, the House could have any
hesitation with respect to its tendency ? Did ministers wish.
for the delay of a few days, in order to give notice to the-
author of the libel, to get out of the way? Did they wish
for time in their distressed situation, in order to palliate the
atrocity of the libel by some straining and twisting of the-
other parts of the pamphlet, and justify the declaration set up-
by the right honourable the secretary at war, that it was per-
fectly innocent? It was, Mr. Fox declared, a libel of a more
dangerous nature, and a worse tendency, than any that had
been issued by the Constitutional and Corresponding Societies.
It was not difficult, however, to perceive the tenderness of mi-
nisters for this libeller on the House of Commons, nor to pe-
netrate into the motives of their conduct ; and he thought it
a bad omen for the country, that while such dispositions were
manifested, it should be urged, that not a moment was to be
lost in coming to a decision on bills, which, under the pretence
of giving greater security to his majesty's person, were, in
reality, calculated to strengthen the hands of government, and
overturn the privileges of the constitution.

The question for adjourning the further consideration of the
pamphlet till Thursday was carried without a division.

November 26.
The debate on Mr. Sheridan's motion being resumed, it was

-strongly opposed by Mr. Windham, who defended the pamphlet
In a speech of considerable length.

0 3

[Nov. 26, 179$.J


Mr. Fox asked, whether the right honourable secretary at
war would have taken the same pains to find out a different
meaning had any other pamphlet been the subject of discus-
sion? Supposing it had been from Mr. Paine's ? If so, he
would then, indeed, pronounce him impartial. Or, if he,
(Mr. Fox,) had endeavoured to explain any pamphlet coming
from a member of the Corresponding Society, whether that
right honourable gentleman would have exculpated him from
the charge of partiality towards that body; then, indeed, he
would give him credit for impartiality on the -present occa-
sion : bat when he saw him employing his ingenuity in order
to give a sense to the pamphlet different from what it would
obviously bear, he could not help thinking that the right ho-
nourable gentleman entertained some lurking partiality to-
wards the principles asserted in that pamphlet. Would any
gentleman venture to declare, that there did not appear as set-
tled a design in Reeves's association to attack the constitution,
as in any of the corresponding societies? To the pamphlet
of Mr. Arthur Young, an express vote of thanks, signed by
Mr. Reeves, as chairman of the association, and an appro-
bation of the doctrines contained in Mr. Young's pamphlet.
were subjoined. The principles which Mr. Reeves's association
wished to adopt were, that rotten boroughs, extravagant courts,
selfish ministers, and corrupt magistrates, formed the security
for the constitution of England. What could such doctrines
proceed from but a settled design in that society to destroy
the constitution of this country? If' they analized the pam-
phlet minutely, they would find the doctrine contrary not only
to fact, but to the language of the statute-book, which declared,
that the government of this country was not simply a mo-
narchy, but a government in king, lords, and commons.
My own difficulty (said Mr. Fox) is what the conduct of the
House should be on this occasion. I profess myself an enemy
to prosecutions for libellous attacks; and yet, at such a time
as this, when Mr. Reeves's association arc spreading their
pernicious doctrines abroad, I am anxious that the House of
Commons should express their disapprobation of principles
recommended by that association. I wish to get at the author
of this pamphlet; and this is so material an object, that I
think the better way would be, for the House to keep this
business in its own hands.

The motion was carried, and a committee was afterwards ap-
pointed to enquire who was the author of the said libel.

December 14.

The reports of' the committee appointed to enquire who was the
author of the pamphlet, entitled " Thoughts on the English Govern-
ment," being this day taken into consideration, Mr. Sheridan
moved, " That one of the said printed books be burnt by' the
hands of the common hangman in the New Palace-yard, 'West-
minster, on Monday, the zest day of this instant December, at one
of the clock in the afternoon ; and that another of the said printed
books be burnt by the hands of the common hangman before the
Royal Exchange in London, on Tuesday the 22d day of this in-
stant December, at the same hour; and that the sheriffs of London
and Middlesex do attend at the said time and places respectively,
and cause the same to be burnt there accordingly." As an amend-
ment to this motion, Mr. Secretary Dundas moved, " That an
humble address be presented to his majesty, humbly to desire his
majesty that he will be graciously pleased to give directions to his
attorney-general to prosecute John Reeves, esquire, as the author
or publisher of a printed pamphlet, entitled " Thoughts on the
English Government, &c.' After the amendment had been sup-
ported by Lord Sheffield and Mr. Sylvester Douglas,

Mt. Fox said, that with respect to the danger to be appre-
hended from the pamphlet, he could not allow that the danger
of an arbitrary government being established was wholly chi-
merical, though he was ready to admit that the recent feeling
which had been excited by the two bills had, in a considerable
degree, diminished his apprehension of such an event. In a
mixed government like this, however, all publications were
dangerous which tended to give to one of the parts of that
government too great an ascendancy over the rest. It might
be asked, why, if no prosecution were wished, all the facts had
been stated ? For this plain reason, to convince the House of
the impropriety of the pamphlet. What was it that'be de-
sired? It was this, that as a pamphlet such as this bad been
brought before the House, the House should not content them-
selves with a mere vote of censure, but should make the pam-
phlet undergo, as it were, the ignominious punishment of
burning. With regard to precedents, he contended that, with
a very few exceptions, they ran in favour of the original
motion. Early in the present reign, a pamphlet, called
" Omit le Roi," had been complained of, censured, and burnt.
At the commencement of the American war, another pam-
phlet, called " The Crisis," had also been complained of and
burnt. Why, then, should it be for the honour of the House
at present to thew such tenderness for the doctrine contained

0 4

88 MR. REEVES'S LIBEL, &C. [Dec. 14,
in the pamphlet, as to exempt it from the punishment which
had been inflicted on similar doctrines?

An insinuation had gone forth, that a wish to oppose Mr.
Reeves had existed, and a noble lord (Sheffield) had stated,
that that gentleman was to be prosecuted because he had
counteracted the views of gentlemen on his side of the House.
Now, he would fairly own, that Mr. Reeves had counteracted
his views. His views had been to put an end to all religious
differences. Mr. Reeves's association, however, had tried to
light up the flame of religious discord all over the king-.
dom. His own object had always been to preserve the ba-
lance between all the parts of the government. Mr. Reeves,
by the circulation of Mr. Soame Jenyns's doctrines, and
other pamphlets, had tried to destroy that balance. He
was, therefore, not ashamed to say, that Mr. Reeves had
counteracted his views. He had mentioned Mr. Soame
Jenyns's pamphlet ; lie had read it when it first came out;
he thought it ingenious and innocent. But though Mr.
Jenyns wrote it innocently, did Mr. Reeves circulate it in-
nocently? The material difference lay in that circumstance

Arguments had been used to shew that the House, if they
adopted the motion, would, at the same time, be judge and
jury. Was it not in the nature of things that it must be so ?
And in a case which related to its own privileges, how could
it be otherwise ? Could any of the courts below vindicate their
privileges, in any other manner than by acting both as judge
and jury ? If he were asked, whether he would stop there,
his reply would be, that he had no objection. He had no
objection also to sending for Mr. Reeves to the bar. At the
bar he might make his defence, and comment upon the evi-
dence that had been adduced against him, in order either to
disprove it or abate its force and application. About punish-
ment he was little solicitous, and he should even have cared
little about burning the pamphlet, if Mr. Reeves had not been
at •the head of these associations ; and if this and other pam-
phlets, circulated by those associations, had not proceeded
from the same shop. The removal from a place of trust was
certainly a severe punishment; but was it not inflicted in cases
where particular tests were not taken? Had it not been in-
flicted in similar cases to the present. In the case of the
Bishop of Worcester, who had interfered in an election, did
not the House petition the Queen to remove him from the
office of almoner to her majesty ?

Mr. Sheridan's motion was put and negatived ; after which
Mr. Dundas's motion for the attorney-general to proceed against
Mr. Reeves was agreed to.




December 9.

ON the 8th of December, Mr. Pitt presented the followingmessage from his majesty :

" His majesty relying on the assurances which he has received
from his faithful Commons, of their determination to support his
majesty in those exertions which are necessary under the present
circumstances, recommends it to this House to consider of making
provision towards enabling his majesty to defray any extraordinary
expence which may be incurred for the service of the ensuing year,
and to take such measures as the exigency of affairs may require.
His majesty, on this occasion, thinks proper to acquaint the House,
that the crisis which was depending at the commencement of the

. present session has led to such an order of things in France, as will
induce his majesty (conformably to the sentiments which he has
already declared) to meet any disposition to negotiation on the part
of the enemy, with an earnest desire to give it the fullest and speedi-
est effect, and to conclude a treaty of general peace, whenever it
can be effected on just and suitable terms for himselfand his allies.—
It is his majesty's earnest wish that the spirit and determination
manifested by parliament, added to the recent and important suc-
cesses of the Austrian armies, and to the continued and growing
embarrassments of the enemy, may speedily conduce to the at-
tainment of this object on such grounds as the justice of the cause,
in which this country is engaged, and the situation of affairs, may
entitle his majesty to expect."

On the following day the said message was taken into consider-
ation, when Mr. Pitt moved, " That an humble address be pre-
sented to his majesty, to return his majesty the thanks of the
House for his most gracious message : To acknowledge, with the
utmost gratitude and satisfaction, his majesty's condescension and
goodness, in haying been graciously pleased to acquaint us, that
the crisis which was depending at the commencement of the session,
has led to such an order of things in France, as will induce his ma-
jesty, conformably to the sentiments which he has already declared,
to meet any disposition for a negotiation on the part of the enemy,
with an earnest desire to give it the fullest and speediest effect, and
to conclude a treaty of general peace, whenever it can be effected
on just and suitable terms for himself and his allies : To assure his
majesty, that, until that desirable period shall arrive, it is our firmdetermination to continue to afford his majesty that vigorous sup-
port which we are persuaded is essential to the most important

interests of his kingdom ; and that it will yield us the highest grati.
fication, if his majesty's powerful preparations and exertions, added
to the recent and important successes of the Austrian armies, and

the continued and growing embarrassments of the enemy, should
have the happy effect of speedily conducing to the restoration of
a general peace on such grounds as the justice of the cause in which
this country is engaged, and the situation of affairs, may entitle his
majesty to expect."

Mr. Sheridan avowed himself of opinion, that the intention of
the minister was to frustrate the motion for peace, of which his
honourable friend Mr. Grey bad given notice. What other mo-
tive, lie asked, could induce the minister to this change of lan-
guage respecting the French, whom he • had so lately represented
as unable to continue the war, and on the brink of destruction?
The•men who governed that country were the same who had put
the king to death, and with whom, our ministry had declared, no
settled order of things could ever take place. But, whoever were
the governors of France, Mr. Sheridan insisted, that no reason•of
that sort ought to prevent an accommodation . On that ground
he would move the following amendment : " Your majesty's faith-
ful Commons, having thin manifested their determination to give
your majesty the most vigorous support in the further prosecution
of the war, in case just and reasonable terms of peace should be
refused on the part of the enemy, and having declared the cordial
satisfaction they feel at your majesty's gracious intention, to meet
any disposition to negociation, on the part of the enemy, with an
earnest desire to give it the fullest and speediest effect, cannot at
the same time avoid expressing the deep regret they feel, that your
majesty should ever have been advised to consider the internal
order of things in France to have been such, as should not have
induced your majesty at any time to meet a disposition to negocia-
tion on the part of the enemy :— And your faithful Commons feel
themselves at this conjuncture the more forcibly called on to.
declare this opinion, because, if the present existing order of things
in France be admitted as the motive and inducement to negocia-
tion, a change in that order of things may be considered as a ground
for discontinuing a negotiation begun, or even for abandoning fi
treaty con cluded : Wherefore, your majesty's faithful Commons,duly reflecting on the calamitous waste of treasure and of blood,
to which it is now manifest the acting on this principle has so un-
fortunately and so largely contributed, and greatly apprehensive
of the grievous and ruinous consequences to which the persevering
to act on such principles must inevitably tend, do humbly and
earnestly implore your majesty, that it may be altogether aban-
doned and disclaimed ; and that the form of government, or internal
order of things, in France, whatever they may be, or shall become,
may be no bar to a negociation for restoring to your majesty's sub-
jects the blessings of peace, whenever it can be effected on just and
suitable terms for your majesty and your allies : — And as the
principal bar to a negociation for peace appears to have been your
majesty's having been hitherto advised to consider the order Of
things in France as precluding your majesty from meeting a dis,



)osition to negociation on the part of the enemy, your faithful
ommons now humbly beseech your majesty to give distinct direc-

t ions that an immediate negociation may be entered on the above
salutary object."

The amendment was seconded by Mr. Grey, who advanced a
variety of facts and reasonings upon them, to prove the propriety
of treating. Mr. Pitt replied, that until the present opportunity,
none had offered to encourage ideas of peace, which, however, had
not been prevented by the mere existence of a republic in France,
but by a total absence of any species of regular government. The
change now was manifest : the new constitution was contrary to
the doctrine of universal equality; the French had now a mixed
form of government, admitting of distinctions in society ; and their
legislature was not constructed on a pure democracy. This fully
authorized ministry to consider them in quite another light than
formerly ; but did not furnish any pretence for depriving ministers
of their right to act in the name of the executive power, without
undue interference, which must certainly be the case, were the
amendment to be adopted.

Mr. Fox said, that however he might differ from much of
what had fallen from the right honourable gentleman, how-
ever he might object to the terms of the address which had
been moved, there was one thing which must give him plea-
sure; he must congratulate the House and the country on
the complete change which had happily taken place in the
language and in the system of government. The House
would believe him when he said that he rejoiced, and when
he congratulated them upon this change, since he had also to
congratulate himself upon the occasion, as this change of
language and of system pronounced his pardon, and was a
complete absolution of all his past sins. Ministers had made
a total rctractation of all the charges they had brought against
him for the motions he had made, and for the doctrines he
had held from the commencement of the war to the present
day; they had fully acquitted him, and had positively de-
clared that, in every sentiment he had uttered, he was right,
and that the House should have acted upon his opinion ;
for all along he had maintained the doctrine now laid down
in his majesty's message. Three years ago, namely, on the
15th of December 5792, lie had made a motion for a negoci-
ation for peace. In June 1793

he had done the same thing;
be had also moved an amendment in the course of the same
session, tending to the same purpose. In January 17 94

had supported the motion of an honourable friend; and in -
the latter end of the same session he had maintained and
supported in argument the same sentiment as that now con-
veyed in his majesty's message, namely, that it was fit and
Proper to negotiate with the existing government of France.


[Dec. 9.

It had been his uniform argument, that, at every moment
from the first commencement of hostilities to the present, it
was wise and politic to make the declaration which had been
now submitted to the House, — that France was in a state
to negociate with this country. He had, therefore, at present,
this triumph, that ministers retracted by this message all the

nlanena they had held in answer to his motions, and all thela guage

which they had thrown upon him. 44 What !"
they said, " treat with men whose hands are yet reeking
with the blood of their sovereign ! What ! treat with men
who would come here with principles that are destructive of
all government !" Such were their arguments, and yet mark
their conduct: they now declared themselves ready to treat
with the new directory of France, four members of which bad '
actually participated in the judgment and death of their
sovereign, and were directly implicated in that act. He
regretted exceedingly the absence of some gentlemen from
the House this evening, who had signalized themselves by
reprobating his sentiments and conduct in the severest terms,
because from them also he might have received the same
sentence of pardon and absolution, and because they might
now have been ready to confess, that the censures in which
they had so liberally dealt were the effect of sudden irritation,
or gross misapprehension. Other modes of attack had been
practised; not the least remarkable of which was, that he
and his friends left nothing to the discretion 'of ministers.
When by their motions they had merely called upon the
House to consider the existing government of France as
capable of maintaining the relations of peace and amity with
their allies, a complaint was made on behalf of ministerial
discretion, and the supporters of the motions were accused
of a wish to deliver over his majesty's advisers bound hand
and foot, to the governors of France. They did no such
thing; neither his two amendments, nor the motions of his
honourable friend (Mr. Grey), went so far as the present
message from the crown. His amendments did no more
than declare, that there were no embarrassments to treating
in the form of the government of France; nothing that made
it impossible or improper for this country to treat. The
motion of his honourable friend was still more gentle. It
was, that there was nothing in the government of France
that tended to retard a negotiation. But the present mes-
sage declared at once their readiness to treat under certain
circumstances, and the House were now called upon to do
what had then been declared to be so improper, so degrading,
and so ignominious. All these foul epithets, however, were
now completely retracted, and justice was dohe to the good-

intentions, and to the sound policy of the gentlemen on his

by insinuating that his honourable friend
sco.f the exchequer had thought to involve

had argued against the address. But this Mr. Fox positively
denied, for he had not opposed the address, but thinking it
inadequate fully to express the sentiments which the House
ought to feel on the occasion, he had proposed an amendment
more definite in its object, and more comprehensive in its
provisions. He could not, however, but protest against a
mode of arguing, by which a person was not allowed to
approve of an address if' he ventured to express his disap-
probation of the measures by which the situation was pro-
duced in which the address was moved. If it should be said,
that it was an opposition to the address, because they pro--
posed an amendment, he must protest against such reasoning,
which tended to deprive him of' the freedom of speech. If he
must agree to a proposition only in the terms in which it was
put, he was deprived of deliberation, and was no longer
permitted to be a free reasoner. But this would not, he
supposed, be seriously disputed ; and it would not be ascribed

. to him, that he was an enemy to peace because he agreed
to an amendment to a message which was extremely equivocal.
An enemy to peace ! The whole tenor of his reasoning from
the commencement of the war was, that every moment was
favourable to a negotiation for peace. Had he any objec-
tions to that peace being concluded by the honourable gen-
tleman? None; for he should think it an addition to the
blessings of peace, if the country could along with it procure
the advantage of bringing his majesty's ministers into dis-
grace; and he should conceive that they were completely
disgraced by the retractation of every assertion they had made,
and by the surrender of every object which they had held
out as the pretext of war. If this should be said to be ani
nvidious mode of speaking, he bad no objection to plead

guilty to the charge, for he most assuredly did think, that
next to the blessings of peace would be the disgrace of mi-
nisters, who had entered upon the war without reason and
ejected every opportunity of concluding a peace upon terms

the country

more favourable for the country than any that they

than they were now likely to obtain, still they had brought
soling idea, that if they had rejected peace upon better terms
were now likely to obtain. It might, however, be their con-

country to such a pitch of calamity, and so clamorous
were the people, that peace upon any terms would be received
from them as a boon and an atonement for all their trans-gressions. Such might be their feeling. But, if it were
Possible to believe that the members of that House could so


far surrender their pride, their independence, and their spirit,
as to justify such a sentiment, he could only say, that they
surrendered their public principles to personal motives, but
that such conduct was inconsistent with their duty as repre-
sentatives of the people, and incompatible with their' cha-
racter as men of honour. 'No; though they should give
peace to the country, he would not agree to forget their de-
merits. He should still think himself bound to accuse them
as the authors of all the calamities that we had suffered, and
he should not think it was a sufficient atonement for their
conduct, that they had prevailed on a majority of that House
to support them in the system.

He now came to consider the question of the amendment.
And first, it was necessary to inquire whether the address
wanted explanation ; and secondly, whether it was not neces-
sary, in addition to the declaration which it contained, to
come to some precise expression of the sense of the House as
to the necessity and wisdom of negociation, whatever might
be the form of the government of France. The right ho-
nourable gentleman, had said, that they should be left open
to negotiate, but not be obliged to it. Upon this lie would,
inquire, whether there did exist at this moment a form of
government in France, that in the opinion of his majesty's
ministers made it wise, fit, and practicable for them to treat?
This was the question. Was it not the intention of gentle-
men, that with such a government they should treat ? Last
year, when his honourable , friend made a motion for paci-
fication, the right honourable gentleman objected to it as
being a practical declaration for treating, and he moved an
amendment, which he called a conditional declaration, that
we were disposed to treat, 'whenever there was a form of go-
vernment in France capable of maintaining the accustomed
relations of peace and amity with other countries. That
time was come. I-Bs majesty's message expressly declared
that they were now come to such a form of government. Nay,
a more precise term was used than in the amendment of last
year, for, instead of other countries, the message expressly
stated Great Britain. Then, if they were come to this state,
why not declare, said Mr. Fox, that you will treat with them ?
Why not act upon your owri declaration ? Why not be steady
to the principle which you have pronounced, and declare that
you will treat? Since that declaration was made in the month
of June last, there was not a statesman in Europe, except his
majesty's ministers, who did not believe that France was in a
state capable of maintaining . the relations of peace and amity
with other countries. Their conduct to neutral powers had
demonstrated the fact. Prussia had acted upon the demon-



and had concluded a peace accordingly. It was
s.t:iadtetto all the world, then, except to the king's ministerseviden

if they had been sincere in the declaration that they madein die month of June last, it would have been manifest to
them also, and they would have acted upon it. With this
alaring fact before their eyes, would the House again leave it
in their power to juggle with words, and to evade their own
declarations? Would they not now think it necessary in pru-
dence to bind them down to a specific act upon their own
words? If they did not, what possible confidence could they
have in the present declaration more than in the past? They
might say, it was true that at the time of making such decla-
ration there appeared to be a disposition in France to treat;
but now circumstances have changed, and there is not the
same disposition. They might affect to see circumstances un-
known or totally disregarded by the rest of Europe, and
might say that they were not bound by the present declaration,
and that the House had come to no opinion which made it
necessary for them to treat; such had been the result of their
former conduct. The right honourable gentleman had per-
suaded the House to leave them to the exercise of their own
discretion, and they had neglected the time which other
statesmen and other cabinets had wisely seized and happily
improved. If the House desired, therefore, that the blessings
of peace should be restored to the country, they must take
care that the present address should be precise and definitive,
If it was not clear and intelligible, it was fit that it should be
amended, and the experience of last year ought to convince
them that no loop-hole should be left, no latitude given, totitude a,


that disposition to equivocate which they had so much reason
to lament.

Speaking of France, the right honourable gentleman said,
that the present was a fit government with which to treat;
and he had accused his honourable friend (Mr. Grey) of hav-
ing made a slip of the tongue, when lie said that by a singular
state of things they might be said to be attacking the French
constitution which ministers were defending. It was no slip
of the tongue; nor was there any thing wrong in the reason-

I-Iis honourable friend never otherwise hail defended
the former constitutions of France as being <rood o•overnments.

relationfor the people of that country, but good in relatio to others.
Re and every gentleman around him had contended, not that
the constitutions of France were well framed for the happiness
of the people of that country, but that they were sufficient for
all the purposes of good neighbourhood, and of preserving
1?eace and amity with others. They never attempted to de-
lend the government of Robespierre. The right honourable


gentleman would not do him the injustice to impute to him
an approbation of that detestable monster. He had always
said, that every one of the successive governments of France
had shewn a disposition and capacity to maintain their
treaties with foreign nations. . He was of the same opinion
still; and if any one man should rise in his place, and assert
that he saw good reason to believe that the present govern-
ment of France was more capable than any of its predeces-
sors to maintain those relations, he must only say that he
should very much doubt either his sincerity or his judgment.
It had been a darling expression to call the state of France
for three years past a state of anarchy. It would have been a
more correct description to have called it a state of tyranny,
intolerable beyond that of any, perhaps, that ever was expe-
rienced in the history of man. To say that he rejoiced in the
probability of its termination was, he hoped, unnecessary.
He certainly rejoiced in it as much as he did in the fall of the
tyranny of the House of Bourbon. But, was that tyranny
capable of maintaining terms with foreign powers ? Most
certainly it was. And if this assertion should be denied, he
called upon gentlemen to produce a single instance in which
they had departed from the strict performance of their en-
gagements; a single instance in which any one of the adverse
parties that tore one another to pieces, and in their despicable
and horrid conflicts tore also the bosom of their country, ever
violated the engagements they had made out of France. Did
not the Brissotinc party maintain the treaties of their prede-
cessors? Did not the execrable tyrant Robespierre himself;
observe with equal fidelity the treaties made by Brissot?
Were not his successors uniformly steady in their adherence
to the external system which had been adopted ? It had been
observed with truth, that no one period in the French revo-
lution had been marked by a more sacred regard to the neu-
trality of foreign powers, than the reign of that execrable
tyrant Robespierre; and it would not be denied, but that
treaties had been made with tyrants as execrable; and con-
sidering what sort of treaties ministers had made, with whom
they had made them, and what acts of base and abandoned
tyranny they had not discountenanced, it was not worthy the
manly•character of the British nation to abet them in their
resistance to a treaty with France.

Having thus shewn, in his mind, the futility of all objections
to treat on account of the insecurity of treaty, Mr. Fox came-
to their next argument, that now France was in the greatest
possible distress. Granted. Was that a reason for treating
now? Was it because this very stable government was on the
point of annihilation, that it was capable of 'maintaining the

relations with foreign powers? The absurdity was too grossifor argument. But, if their distress was a reason for treating
with them, had they not experienced this distress a twelve-
month ago ? Let the House remember the speeches of the
right honourable gentleman and his noble friend (Lord Morn-
ington) on the state of their assignats, when they said that

depreciation was at the rate of 8o per cent. Aye, but
they had not then come to sufficient distress to be solicitous
of peace, and now it seems they were come to this disposition.
And what was of more consequence, it seemed that they had
now a constitution which was quite fit for all the purposes of
neeociation. If ministers depended upon this slender thread,
our security was slight indeed. He was not about to praise or
to censure their new constitution ; that he owned could be
properly estimated only by experience. But whether it was
good, bad, or indifferent, did not signify a farthin g the6present argument. Whether it was calculated to rive happi-
DM to the people of France, was none of their concern;
it was not with the constitution but with the government of
France that they had to do. That government they had be-
fore, and had, he would venture to say, in as perfect a shape

-as they had 110W. Nay, if he could trust to an assertion
that had been made in that House but very lately, had more
perfectly, since it was said, that some of their generals had
violated the treaty that had been made with Prussia. What
was the construction to be put upon this conduct? That this
government, the only one under which the slightest violation
of treaty had been known since the Revolution, was also the
only one with which it was proper for this country to treat.
[It was whispered across the House by ministers, that this
violation happened before the establishment of the presentgovernment.] Before ! said Mr. Fox :—the fact was ex-
pressly stated as an argument by the other side of the House,
that day se'nnight ; that it was totally without foundation he
believed ; he certainly never had head it except in that House
upon that occasion. But now they were to have perfect con-
fidence in these identical men, because France had now two
houses of legislature instead of one ! Their nature Was to be
changed, their insincerity to be obviated, and every objection
to be at an end, because France had now two houses instead
of one ! There was something so extremely whimsical, and
so enworthy of statesmen, in this mode of reasoning, that he
Ivoeld not stop to reply to it. He did not mean to criticise
the present French constitution; he certainly thought it bet-
ter Planned than any of the preceding; -but he could not look.ito it with greater confidence than to any of its forerunners.H m ee ca now to speak of the origin of the War, in WWI



he would not cease to say, that ministers were the aggressors.
It was their eternal answer to this charge, that France had
declared the war. Their incessant recurrence to this feeble
subterfuge proceeded from a conscious qualm that the accus,
ation was well founded. In his opinion, even in a case of
actual insult, it was the duty of statesmen to attempt to pro•
cure redress by negociation before they recurred to the argu-
ment of war. Had ministers taken this course? The pretexts
were, that the French had threatened to deprive our allies,
the Dutch, of the free navigation of the Scheldt, and that
they had made a declaration, threatening all the world with
the dangers of fraternity. Grant that these were legitimate
grounds upon which it was the duty of this country to demand
satisfaction, was it not the duty of ministers to negociate for
that satisfaction ? The French had a minister at this court.
Why did they not express to that minister the terms upon
which they would continue their amity ? In every corre-
spondence of the sort, it was incumbent on both parties to
state explicitly what they desired to be done, and what they
would do in return. Let gentlemen look at the correspond-
ence which had been published, and they would see that
there was no declaration on the part of ministers upon what
terms they were disposed to continue their amity. But grant
even to government their demand, that the French were the
aggressors, and that this was merely a defensive war : then it
was the nature of a defensive war that it should be pursued
on the motives of defence, and that every moment should be
seized upon when it might be possible to obtain the security
for which it was undertaken. He appealed to the House and
to the country if this had been their conduct. He demanded
whether, after the defeat of Dumourier, when Belgium was
recovered, and when French Flanders was over-run, a peace
upon the terms of security, and upon such terms as-we had
not now either reason or right to expect, might not have
been obtained ? If the war had been really defensive, if it
had been undertaken only to resist encroachments, terms
ought then to have been offered upon which we might have
procured reparation, security and indemnity. Terms were
offered by the French : Maret was sent here commissioned'to
offer terms. But they were rejected. Upon what principle?
Not because we were fighting about a limit, about a boun-
dary ; but for that security which could only be obtained by
the destruction of their government. He would not say that
it was- expressly stated that the ancient monarchy should be re-
instated, though, by the by, Lord. Hood, in his declaration
at Toulon, had impressed that opinion upon every part of
France ; • but both then, e.nd at every time -sinhe, it had been


1795'1 99
time avowed object of ministers in the war, to destroy the
acobin government. 'Was the jacobin government destroyed ?
Vas the government founded on the rights of man at an

end ? Had the declaration of the 1 9th of. November 1792,
been any otherwise abandoned than it had been two years

•.) Why had they not then treated before?
Because theyago,

had objected to treat expressly with any government founded
on the rights of man. He would not say that the right ho-
nourable gentleman had gone the length of asserting that it

would be a bellum ad internecioncm ; he had said there might
be a case of extremity, but he made use of a quotation which
had this effect, that it left an impression of his meaning on
the memory, and the words were not liable to misconstruction.
His quotation was,

—" Potuit (lux plurhna virtus
Esse, fuit. Toto certatum est corpore regni."

Such was the right honourable gentleman's declaration. But
now we were come to a government when we might surrender
all our former assertions, and safely treat for peace. Had
we then obtained the objects of the war? The first was cur
obligation to defend our ally, the States-General. He had
always lamented the fate of that unhappy people. They
were entangled in a situation, from which, whoever were
conquerors, they could not escape; whoever gained, their
ruin was inevitable. Had we saved our ally? It was the
boast that we had taken the Cape of Good Hope. Good
God ! was this safety for Holland ? We had abandoned their
possessions in Europe to France, while we had marked out
their dependencies in the East for our share of the plunder.
Our protection was like that of our allies toward Poland; we
divided it for its safety ; and it was an argument for having
abandoned all its European possessions to France, that we
had seized, or were about to seize, on all its Asiatic territo-
ries for ourselves.

He could not help again digressing to one of the.attaeks
which had been made upon himself: -What, it had been
said, would you be so dastardly as to negociate for a peace


With France, and leave Holland in their hands ? Now even
from thisthis attack he was delivered, ministers had agreed to

da stards, and to treat with France, possessed of

t This they must acknowledge, or agree with him

that there was nothing dastardly in the proposition last year.
He wished to God it were as probable DOW as it was then,
that it might be recovered by negociation. He still trusted it
would be so. But there were other reasons that now induced
them to negotiate for peace. The domestic state of this

H 2


country was changed. He could not avoid remarking ho*,
`the arguments varied. If they were speaking upon the sedition
bills, and he were to assert that there were no excesses in the
country, that called fir such unconstitutional restraints, he
should instantly hear a set of pamphlets and hand-bills read,
to prove that Great Britain was almost in a state of rebellion;
but if he - were to demand, why the present was a more fit
time than any other to negociate for peace, he should in-
stantly be answered, because we were happily sale at home
against all danger of jacobin principles. If he should say,
that by the increase of our debt, and the growing load of na-
tional burdens, there was much discontent in the country,
it would be answered, No such thing ; the example of France
has checked every symptom of discontent with the present
order of things. Then why pass the abominable bills?
'Why? it would on the other side be answered, because there
was something so perverse and obstinate in the seditious mul-
titude, that nothing but depriving us of our constitution
could make us safe. In this way did they reason. Each
measure had its own stile of argument ; and it was thought
necessary to insult the understanding, as well as to impose
chains upon the person.

We had failed, then, in Holland ; and we had failed at
home. What had we done for the rest of Europe ? What
for Prussia, for Spain, for Austria ? 'What had been the
fate of the war in general? His honourable friend had
spoken generally of our disasters, with the exception of our
naval exploits. The right honourable gentleman, with that
peculiar cast of candour which belonged to himself, bad thrown
out an insinuation that his honourable friend had forgotten the
achievements of his illustrious father. What fortunate im-
pression his candid sneer had made upon the House, he would
not inquire. His honourable friend had spoken generally
of the disasters of the war, without thinking it necessary to
enumerate the particular instances in which, under the con-
duct of great and gallant officers, even the incapacity of mi-
nisters had not deprived the British arms of glory. But
swhat great advantages had we obtained in the West Indies,
except the glory of Sir Charles Grey's achievements ? Would
any man say that the manner of the loss of Guadaloupe and
St. Lucie did not make us lament their previous 'conquest?
Again, therefore, he asserted, that the war had been dis-
astrous, inasmuch as we had failed in every object. We had
lost Holland, which was one object of the war ; and we had
settled and rivetted discontent on the minds of the people of
.England, not merely by the calamities arising from the war,

'1 A PEACE 'WITH rrtarcer. let1795
nut from the measures we had taken, and were now taking,

r uas

Peace,ifl t h now said to be near. Perhaps he
thought it was near, but he did not think so on account of
the message from the throne. He thought so because mi-
nisters felt the sense of the country to be declared against
the war; because, however they might affect to misrepresent

st e

the feeling of the country in their speeches, they felt in their
hearts, that there was not one man in the kingdom, the race
of money jobbers, contractors, and interested persons only
excepted, who was not sick of the war, as well as of the mi-
serable pretexts for carrying it on. He thought, therefore,
that to fix ministers to the point, they should adopt the
amendment, which contained a much more clear and specific
declaration than that contained in the address. He knew

that it was a vulgar opinion, and surely it was the most vulgar
of all vulgar opinions, that the proposers of a negociation,
always stood the worst chance in that negociation. He
wished to know one instance in which this had ever been the
case. In the present circumstances of Great Britain and
France, he thought the advantage was evidently on the side
of the proposers. For in both countries there was an evident
desire for peace in the great body of the people; so that it
would be impossible for the executive government of either
country to reject any proposals which might be made, if they
were not altogether unreasonable. If, therefore, at this mo-
ment, we were to make proposals to France, if they were not
grossly dishonourable, their committee of directory and
council of ancients, would not dare to refuse them, because,
by refusing them, they know that they would lose the con-
fidence and respect of the people.

The right honourable gentleman had not thought it neces-
sary to open his motion for the address, with any exposition
of the reasons why the message had been brought down at
this very remarkable conjuncture. The speech from the
throne was made on the zyth of October, and then no such
intimation was given ; but the right honourable gentleman
had said, that a declaration tantamount to the present was
made in the king's speech, and that the people from that
speech would have been justified in expecting the present
message. They must judge of the impression by the effects.
The speech from the throne had produced no sensation on
the funds. What had the message produced ? A rise in the
funds that day of 5 or 6 per cent. He came therefore now
to a material part of the present inquiry. Why had not the
right honourable gentleman made known the substance of this
message before, or at least why not stated his reasons in justi,

H 3


fication of doing it at this most suspicious moment? It had
been the good practice till his time, of closing the loan only
the day before it was opened. to parliament. If the right ho-
nourable gentleman had made his loan in that way, he must
acknowledge that with the words of this message in lis pocket,
he ought to have made terms materially different. If he had
this message in his mind, and felt himself bound not to make
an open loan, in what predicament did he stand? Messrs. Boyd
and Co. very handsomely left it to him to propose the terms ;
then, with the knowledge of this intention, ought he not to
have made a bargain upon the ground of the impression which
this message was calculated to make? Were the circumstances
of the country such, that he was bound to make the bargain a
week before he opened it? Perhaps the suspicion was well
founded, that his secret contract with the gentlemen, on ac-
count of bills coming due on the r oth of December, stipulated
that the bargain should be made before that day. But he
called upon every gentleman who heard him to say, if he
could believe it possible, that any change could have hap-
pened so material as to justify the concealment of this intima-
tion until after be had made his bargain, and then to bring it
forth to swell the bonus to such a height; or, if any circum-
stances had arisen to justify the concealment then, and the
intimation now, to say why the right honourable gentleman
should not be called upon to state them. A loss had been
suffered by the public of not less, on the meanest computation,
than one hundred and fifty thousand pounds. This had been put
into the pockets of persons who talked loudly of their independ-
ence, and of the disinterested support they gave to ministers.
It was not his practice to impute any thing personally corrupt
to the right honourable gentleman, and he did not impute
to him any thing of the kind now ; but he did think that, in
decency and in -duty, in regard to himself as well as to the
country, he was called upon to explain this extraordinary
transaction. It was a direct robbery upon the public of y or
6 per cent. upon the whole loan, if with the knowledge of his
intention he made his bargain without a public declaration of
the change that had taken place ; and he must prove that be
did not know of this change but a week before he . declared it.
The change however was now announced. He trusted the
declaration would not have the fate of former declarations.
He should rejoice in the day of peace, come when it would.
When it did come, he should certainly be thankful ; but he
Should by no means consider the restoration of peace as su-
perseding the necessity of an inquiry into the origin, principle,
and conduct of the war. For if this were neglected, it might
establish a precedent upon which any minister might under-

wark without principle, conduct it with incapacity, andtae a

be acquitted of all his misdeeds immediately upon the patching
up a peace. He trusted that, with the return of peace, we
should also have a return of the constitution. He should truly
rejoice if, with the blessings of peace, we were also to have
the next desirable blessing, that of freedom, of which we
were about to be deprived. With regard to some persons in
the cabinet, with whom he had been long in the habits of
agreement and friendship, he knew not what effects peace was
to produce upon them. They had differed upon the prin-
ciples of the present war. If peace should put an end to
the differences between them, and restore them to their
former habits of thinking and acting, he should undoubtedly
see the day with peculiar sensibility. He owned, however,
that he had very little expectation of such an event. Ile
was not so sanguine as to look for such a return. However
that might be, he should ill discharge his duty to his country,
if he did not steadily resolve to do his utmost to bring mini-
sters to a strict account for all the calamities that this war had
engendered. He sat clown, begging not to be understood as
opposing the address, or disapproving of the sentiments it con-
tained. He only wished that it had gone as far as the amend-
ment which had been proposed by his honourable friend.

Mr. Sheridan's amendment was negatived without a division ;
after which the original address was agreed to.


December 9.

R. WHITBREAD presented to the House a bill ‘ c to ex-
..C1 plain and amend so much of the act of the 5th of Elizabeth,i
ntituled, An act containing divers orders for artificers, labourers,

servants of husbandry, and apprentices,' as empowers justices of
the peace, at, or within six weeks after, every general quarter
sessions held at Easter, to regulate the wages of labourers in hus-bandry." The bill was read a first time. On the motion for the
second reading, Mr. Whitbread said, that he had brought forwardthis bill under the idea that it was possible, by adopting its regula-
tions, to give great relief to a very numerous and useful class of the
community. The act of Elizabeth empowered justices of the
peace to fix the maximum of labour. This bill went only to em-
P ower them to fix the minimum. However, the House might

I3 4



decide with respect to his bill, he trusted at least that the act of
Elizabeth would be repealed. He should move that the bill be
now printed, and read a second time on an early day after the

Mr. Fox said, that the bill was undoubtedly a bill of great
delicacy and importance, and with respect to which, he ad-
mitted that, to a considerable extent, there might exist a
rational difference of opinion. The act of Elizabeth, as his
honourable friend had truly stated, empowered the justices toe
fix the highest price of labour, but it gave them no power to
:fix the lowest. It secured the master from a risk which could
but seldom occur, of being charged exorbitantly for the
quantity of service ; but it did not authorise the magistrate
to protect the poor from the injustice of a griping and ava-
ricious employer, who might be disposed to take advantage of
their necessities, and undervalue the rate of their service. If
the price of labour was adequate to the support of the poor in
ordinary times, though not equal to the accidental high price
of provisions at the present moment, it might be contended,
that there was less necessity for any new legislative regulation.
But, taking the average price of labour for some years past,
including that period during which the scarcity had operated,
no man could deny that the price of labour was greatly dis-
proportionate to the rate of provisions. That the general
price of labour should be adequate to the support of the ge-
neral mass of the community was indisputably a right prin-
ciple. They all knew that a very extensive tax was exacted
from the country, under the denomination of poor rates, and
that such a tax must be continued. It was understood, that
to this fund none could apply, but those few to whom, from
particular circumstances, their labour might not be suffi-
ciently productive to secure an adequate support. But he
feared that the reverse was the case ; that the exception was
with respect to the few who derived sufficient means of subsist-
ence from their labour, and that the (Treat mass of the labour-
ing part of the community were under the necessity of apply-
ing to this fund for relief. If the House, as was proposed,
were to form an association, in order to pledge themselves to
use only a particular sort of bread, with a view to diminish the
pressure of the scarcity, ought they not at the same time to
form an association, in order to raise tile price of labour to a
rate proportionate to the price of the articles of subsistence?
With this view, he called upon the House to consider the
principle of the bill and its provisions. Be would call upon
them also to attend to the subject, in a constitutional view,
though he could not hope, from the complection of recent


transactions, that this was a view of the subject which would
have great weight. It was not fitting in a free country that
the great body of the people should depend on the charity of
the rich. In the election of members of parliament, all those
were strictly excluded from exercising any franchise, with a

who had at any time received relief from
'‘t'leileTpfae;ivslelexceMpt7insaosi't becoming in a country like this, that the

fgeneral mass of the labouring, part of the community, except-
ag those who derived relief from the bounty and generosity

individuals, should be excluded from the exercise of their
most important privilege as freemen ? He admitted many of
the rich to be humane and charitable; but he could not al-
low that those who were the most useful and industrious
members of society should depend upon a fund so precarious.
and degrading, as the occasional supplies derived from their
bounty. If the price of provisions had for two years been
such as to put every poor man under the necessity of applying
for the aid of parochial charity, and if that circumstance con-
stituted a positive disqualification with respect to the exercise
of a constitutional right, what, he asked, was the state of a
country which first compelled every poor man to dependence,
and then reduced him to servitude? If they were to go into
associations, pledging themselves to use a particular sort of
bread, with a view to alleviate the scarcity, it was surely of
more importance that they should associate in order to redress
the more material grievance, and strike at the fundamental
source of the evil. With this view he should be glad, as he
had already suggested, to see an association in order to put
the price of labour upon a footing adequate to the rate of
provisions. If the regulations of the present bill should not
be adopted, he should be happy that any other legislative
enactments should be brought forward, in order to afford
relief and protection to the poor.

February 12. 1796.

Mr. Whitbread moved the second reading of his bill. He was
supported by Mr. Honeywood, Mr. Lechmere, and Mr. Fox ; and.opposed by Mr. Burden, Mr. Buxton, Mr. Vansittart, and Mr. Pitt.

Mr. Fox said, it was necessary for him to say a few woxds
to explain the reason of the vote he should give, if there
should be a division upon the subject. No man was more
against the idea of compulsion as to the price of labour than
he was himself. His opinion he had often expressed to be on
the other side. The question now was, not on the general


ICU mt. GREY'S MOTION [Feb. 1.5,

principle, but on that particular state of the law, which rendered
some measure necessary to be adopted for the relief of the
labouring poor, while the law, as it stood, was saddled with so
many restrictions. He approved of the bill proposed by his
honourable friend, as calculated to correct that which was bad
in its present operation, and to secure at least to the labourer
the means of partial relief. But if the House objected to the
measure as improper, if they were of opinion that it was not
the most judicious or desirable that might be applied, under
all the circumstances of the case, he hoped that they would


o to the root of the evil, and provide some remedy adequate

the extent of the grievance. If, therefore, they should give
a negative to the second reading of the bill, he should con-

that by so doing they pledged themselves to take the

subject into their early and most serious consideration. Andhowever eligible the proposition of his honourable friend
might be, he was convinced that if what he had brought for-
ward should induce the House to go into a full examination
of the subject, and to provide a remedy commensurate to the
evil, he would not only have accomplished his own benevci:.
lent intentions, but would have done a much greater service
to the country, than even if the bill which he had now brought
forward were adopted.

The motion for the second reading of the bill was negatived.


February 15.

r HIS day Mr. Grey moved, " That an humble address be pre-
sented to his majesty, stating, that it is the desire of this House,

that his majesty may graciously be pleased to take such steps
as to his royal wisdom shall appear most proper, for commu-
nicating directly to the executive government of the French repub-
lic, his majesty's readiness to meet any disposition to negociation
on the part of that government, with an earnest desire to give it
the fullest and speediest effect." He observed, that contrary to
general expectation, the ministry, in lieu of a negociation for peace,
were making preparations for a continuance of the war. But with
what well-grounded hope of success could they persist in this un-
fortunate system? There was no confidence nor unity of views in
the remaining parts of the coalition ; and yet this country WaS to
bear the weight of this pretended alliance in favour of the common
interest of Europe. The public was exhorted to rely on the

cretion of ministers ; but were they worthy of any trust, after be-
ing deceived in their allies in the most material points, and still ex-
pressing a forwardness to depend on promises so repeatedly broken?
The French, it was now acknowledged, were in a situation to be
treated with ; we ought, therefore, no longer to stand aloof.—Mr.
Pitt opposed the motion. He urged the necessity of confidence
in ministers, and observed that, if the House thought this confi-
dence could not be safely vested in them, the proper mode was to
address his majesty for their removal. He asserted that the French
bad almost exhausted their means of carrying on the war; and
said that, since his majesty's message had been delivered, ministry
had taken every measure, consistent with the interests of the coun-
try, to accomplish the object of' it. The point to be considered
was the probability of obtaining just and honourable terms ; but
such terms must be very different from those which the public
declarations of the French had for a long time past indicated.

'Mr. Fox rose and said :— Notwithstandine• Sir, the mode
of arguing which the right honourable gentleman has adopted
this day, in introducing matter somewhat irrelevant to the
question at issue, I intend to confine myself almost entirely to
the subject of my honourable friend's proposition. The House
will pardon me, however, if' I make a few preliminary obser-
vations upon the manner in which the right honourable gen-
tleman commenced his speech. Far be it from me to dis-
courage any inclination that may be shewn to negotiation, or
in any degree to retard the advance to peace; for whether the
season for negociation be advantageous, when compared with
those which have occurred at periods which are past, it is cer-
tainly advantageous, when compared with any that may he
expected in future, however numerous our victories, or how-
ever unprecedented our success. I cannot, however, refrain from
saying a word or two upon the past, not with a view to ex-
aggerate the difficulties of the present, but merely in my own
vindication, for having proposed pacific measures, when they
were refused to be adopted. Will it be said, that when the
Low Countries are in the hands of the enemy, when Holland
is become a province of Prance, and when they are in pos-
session of St. Lucie and St. Domingo, that we are in a situ-
ation in which more honourable terms of peace may be
expected, than when they were driven out of the Dutchprovinces; when they were routed in every battle in Flan-
ders ; when they were compelled to retreat within the limits
of their own territory; when Valenciennes was taken ; when a

siderable impression was made upon them by the emperor
in the north, and by Spain upon the south ; in short, when
they did not hold an inch of ground without the boundaries
of Old France ? Then we were told, that it would be hu-



miliating for the country to offer terms of peace, and that we
should wait till the misfbrtunes of our foes should lay them
prostrate at our feet.

When I proposed a pacification in the beginning of tia,
year 1794, I was told, that the late


campaian had exhibited a
series of triumphs more brilliant than any which the annals of
the country could boast. Last year a negociation was moved
for, before Holland was totally lost, the recovery of which was
assigned as a principal cause of the war; and then it was
said, that any proposal on our part would be degrading to the
honour of the country. I hope, however, that he who thinks
it possible to propose an honourable ncgociation now, will no
longer accuse us of having entertained a wish to humiliate
the country, by advising the government to offer terms of
peace, under circumstances in which it was infinitely more
advantageously situated. My argument at present, does not
turn upon the propriety of proposals for peace coming
from one country more than from another, but upon the
seasonableness of the time. I perfectly agree with the right
honourable gentleman, that the present is the most proper
season which may well occur, and in the faith that he is in-
clined to improve it, I have the less disposition to press the
errors of the past. But here a question occurs — Who shall
make the first step towards peace ? In all wars, I think, this
is a point of little importance ; and in this war, I think it
of less importance than almost in any other. When hos-
tilities commenced between the countries, the French held it
out as a principle, that they were determined to propagate
their government all over Europe. How long they perse-
vered in maintaining this absurd principle, it is of little con-
sequence now to decide. Suffice it to say, that it afforded a
real or ostensible ground of hostilities, and that the principle
has been formally renounced in an official declaration, ab-

juring all interference in the internal government of any coun-try. This is an example which we ought to follow; and
when the French have announced themselves at amity with
the English constitution, the English government ought to
abandon every idea •of intermeddling in the affairs of France,
or of altering any form of government which they may think
proper to adopt. Perhaps I may be told, that even if terms
of peace be proposed by this country, they may be rejected by
the French, and that this rejection may render it necessary

for us to interfere in the settlement of their form of govern-
ment. But if we do not formally publish the declaration, we
may at least announce our readiness to make it. And even
then we do not go so far as they have done.

There was a word in the minister's speech; which, not-


withstand ing all its pacific complection, I was sorry to hear,
an d which to me appeared to indicate, that it is his opinion,
that the present government of France has not arrived at
that crisis which was particularly described in his majesty's
speech. It was this, that the French government were per-
haps disposed to grant to this country, as a compensation
for all the losses which it has sustained from

the war — the

honour of its fraternization. But, does the French govern-
ment persevere in that system now ? I hope and trust it does
not. And if it does not, why rake up the recollection of for-
mer wrongs, and renew the causes of discord which no longer
exist? The subject, however, chiefly depends upon a question
of time. On the 8th of December, a message was sent down

. from his majesty, stating, that the affairs of France had ar-
rived at such a crisis, as to render negociation possible. On

the 29th of October, in his majesty's speech, there was a para-
graph upon the subject, the meaning of which appeared to me
to be by no means clear. We were told, however, that it was
afterwards explained, and that the subsequent message was
nothing more than the natural consequence of the king's
speech. If, then, the ideas conveyed by the message were hy-
pothetically the opinion of the minister, who was certainly to
be considered as a principal assistant in framing the speech,
we are to trace the measures of government back to the 29th
of October. But even supposing that the 8th of December
was the earliest time that the king's cabinet ministers formed
any definitive opinions upon the subject, when we take into
consideration, not only the lapse of time, but the very extraor-
dinary circumstances attending that lapse of time, it is natural
to ask, did it require two months (or if we date it from the
29th October, did it require three months,) to come to an un-
derstanding with our allies; or rather, was it not reasonable
to expect that something might have been done in that time?
The expectation was the more reasonable, when we consider
what those two months were. They were not two months in
the heat of a campaign — they were not only in a season, when
God and nature united to create an armistice, but when an
armistice had actually taken place — they were not during
the sitting of the parliament, (though I am not one of those
who consider the sitting of parliament as an impediment to
negotiation,) but during a parliamentary recess, prolonged,
as the friends of the minister gave out, for the purpose of leav-

unshackled to carry on the negociation. When these

mstances are considered I wish to know why no steps
Lav e been taken ?

I must here advert to a passage in the right honourable
gentleman's speech, in which he represented it as having15eet1 the policy of France to divide the allies, and when she


*as on the eve of sinking beneath their combined pressure, to
detach some of them from the confederacy. Perhaps I am
not so well acquainted with the circumstances of the war as
the right honourable gentleman, or at this moment I mad=
not have such a lively recollection of the details of its history ;
but I certainly do not remember any peculiar difficulties under
which the enemy had the misfortune to labour, at the particu-
lar conjuncture when our allies seceded from the treaty. I do
not recollect that France was in circumstances of partite
difficulty, when. the King of Prussia renounced the c n
of the allies. I do not recollect that France was in a situation
of unusual hardship when she concluded a peace with Sp:•
Nor do I recollect that the Elector of Hanover and the
German princes were exulting in the abundance of their v ic-
tories when they commenced a negociation. On the contrary,
I think I have heard that Spain sued for peace, not when
Spain was in the unimpaired possession of her territory, but
when the principal provinces of the empire were in the hands
of the French. Nor from any information which I have re-
ceived upon the subject, can I pay such a compliment to the
King of Prussia and the princes of Germany, as to say, that
they offered terms of peace to the enemy when they were in:
the career of conquest, and the zenith of their glory. I con-
fess I cannot see (a . the professions of the right honourable
gentlemen be true) what renders an explanation of the pro-
ceediogs of the government of this country a subject of so
much delicacy in the present war. If he admits that he h
engaged in a clandestine negociation, of the benefit of which
he means to deprive our allies, and of which, of course, he
would wish to keep them ignorant, then I conceive some mo-
tive for his conduct, and I am ready on such a supposition to
allow his argument, if not honourable, to be at least logi-
cal. But if, as lie declares, he is really acting in concert with
our allies, where would be the harm, if he were to lay all the
papers which have passed upon the subject before the House?
And here I cannot refrain from making one observation on
the difference of situation, in which we have stood with respect*
to our allies in the course of this contest. I cannot help re-
membering a glaring defect which was pointed out last year,
in the terms of the loan which was then voted to the emperor.
It was then objected, that we did not bind him to persevere
in the prosecution of the war longer than he thought fit. The
answer was, if we bind the emperor to prosecute the war, we
must ourselves come under the same restriction. And now
we are told, we cannot make peace, except in concert with our
allies. I mention this merely to chew the different represen-
tations that are given of matters according td the pressure of
different arguments.

The right honourable gentleman has given us to understand

something in his speech. It is material to know what be
roily intends to convey, to understand how much, and the

precise value of what lie has advanced. I understand him to
have said, and I beg to be corrected if I am mistaken, that
measures have been already taken by ministers, with a view
to avail themselves of whatever circumstances may occur fa-
vourable, either to making or receiving overtures .

of peace
with France. I certainly do not mean to quibble upon words,
and therefore it cannot be supposed that lie can mean a con-
tinuance of the war to be one of those measures which he
hopes are introductory to negociation. If it be understood,
that since the message of the 8th of December, he has endea-
voured, by means of communication with our allies, to learn
the grounds on which they wish. to negociate, this certainly is
something ; but it is an instance of tardiness for which it is
difficult to account. And even admitting these steps to have
been taken, it still remains a question of serious urgency,
whether the motion of my honourable friend ought to be
agreed to by, the House ? That the manifestation of a sincere
desire to negociate would in this country produce an effect
highly popular, is a fact not to be disputed. To the rest of
Europe such an inclination would be no less grateful; and I
will put it to the judgment of the House, if they really think
the country will make worse terms of peace with France, be-
cause the French government know our desire for peace to be
sincere .? Is it not to be feared, on the other hand, that the
mutual alienation of affection, and the mutual distrust which
have subsisted between the countries, will create a more se-
rious difficulty with respect to the success of any negociation, 9than even the terms that may be proposed? In former
wars, we have found that the obstructions to pacification arose
more from the temper of the adverse countries, than the spe-
cific terms which were brought upon the tapis. In the war of
the succession, which, without exception, was the most glo-
rious of any that this country was ever engaged in, is there a
Whig at this day so bigotted as not to believe that the con-ferences of Gertruydenburg might have led to peace, had
they been properly conducted, and that the prolongation of
the war arose from unextinguishable jealousy, and unyielding
rivalship ? I am not so sanguine as to expect that no diffi-
culty will arise in negociation about terms. I wish to God
that the situation of the country were such as to afford any
reasonable ground for such an expectation. But what I
contend for is this, that such has been the asperity displayed
on both sides, in the course of the contest, that

• the temper
of the governments will occasion a difficulty no less formi-

I 12 MR. GREY'S MOTION [Feb. Is,

cable, than any that may occur in the discussion of terms —
a difficulty which I am sorry to say the concluding part of the
right honourable gentleman's speech was by no means calcu-
lated to remove. It may be said, that the language held by
the directory was insolent in the extreme. But because inso-
lent language is held by the directory of France, is that a
reason why the government of England should assume the
same tone of insolence? Were we to adopt conciliatory Ian-
nuarie the effect would be immediate upon the temper of theb French government in softening asperity, and silencing abuse.
And if such would be the effect in France, what might not be
expected here?

It was stated by the right honourable gentleman that the
motion of my honourable friend, if agreed to by the House,
would so cramp, fetter, and humiliate government, that it
would be impossible to negotiate with honour. This is an
objection which has been stated so often in the course of the
war, that it has entirely lost its force. When on a former
occasion it was proposed to declare the government of France
in a negociablc situation, the 'proposition was rejected with
scorn, and now this very declaration has been made by minis-
ters, and we have experienced no inconvenience from it. As
to the prerogative of the crown of making peace when and how
his majesty pleases, no man doubts of it ; but no man, on the
other hand, will doubt of the prerogative of the Commons of
England, to advise his majesty, both as to the time and the
terms of pacification. The present is not a matter of right,
but a matter of discretion. I have put a case before to the
House, which is so appropriate to the present circumstances
of the country, that I may be allowed to quote it again — the:
case of the American war. In the course of that war, We
heard from a noble lord, that it was the height of indiscretion
in parliament, to interfere with the prerogative of the king m
making peace. Parliament wisely rejected the noble lord's
argument, and not only declared that America was in a ne-
gociable situation, and that the states should be acknowledged
as independent, but they even declared that no offensive war
should be carried on against America ; and this very decla-
ration enabled the right honourable .gentleman and his asso-
ciates at that time to conclude a. peace, the terms of which
were certainly not such as the country, in my opinion,
bad reason to expect from its circumstances at the time, but
which redounded much to his credit, when compared with
the misfortunes to which it had formerly been subjected.

There are certain bugbears which have always been held
out by ministers to parliament, and which have been disposed
of according to its good sense at the time. The pretences of

state secrets, and parliamentary confidence, have always been
held forth as a shield for the measures of the servants of the
crown; fortunately for the people, however, their consti-
tuents have not been always inclined to pay- that attention to
them, which to superficial observers they may seem to claim.
As to the state paper to which the right honourable gentleman
referred, and which he said was published at Hamburg' ', and
was industriously circulated in this country, I have not seen
i t, and therefore am not qualified to. reason upon it. But
allowing the sentiments of the directory on the subject of
peace, to be as wild, fanciful, and extravagant as it is possi-
ble for them to be, that is no reason why these sentiments
ought to deter us from offering terms of peace. The time in
which we live„ is a time in which government must pay some

• attention to the opinion of the people whom they are ap-
pointed to govern. Were a disposition for peace, on the
part of the government, discovered to the people of England,
it would diffuse general happiness over the kingdom; and if
it was made known to France, I am convinced that her con-
cessions would be as ample as we could wish. As to the po-
pular opinion in this country, it has for some time been
evidently against the war; and I say it to the credit of minis-
ters, that they have sacrificed something to the constitution
of the country, in permitting the opinion of the people re-
specting the war, to have some weight in regulating their
conduct. If the demands of France are exorbitant, let

meet them with reasonable overtures on our part, and mode-
ration will have a greater effect than the most strenuous re-
sistance, in relaxing their exertions. I know reason has too
little to do in the government of the world, and that justice
and moderation must often yield to power and lawless might.
This has been unhappily exemplified in the fate of Poland.
Still, however, it is no light matter in national as well as pri-
vate concerns to have reason on our side. I know I have
been sometimes thought absurd, when I argued, that honour
was the only just cause of war; but I still believe, and there
has been nothing in late events to contradict the opinion,
that reason and justice in any cause are the most powerful
allies. If this be the case, let us manifest to France, toEurope, and to the world, a spirit of moderation ; and let us
this night address his majesty to commence a

gne Yociation
ofwith the republic of France. I say the republic of France ;

for there is more in names than one would sometimes be apt
to imagine. Ministers have talked of " the French rulers,"
of" persons exercising the government of France," &c. If
they are serious in their intentions of making peace, they
toast hold a

blannuarie more explicit. They have sent an am-VOL. yr.

I 14 R. GREY'S MOTION [Feb. Is,

bassador (Lord Macartney) to the court of Louis XVIII.
Do they imagine, after such an insult to the present govern.
ment of France, that a negotiation can be entered upon with-
out a previous and direct acknowledgement? That govern..
ment has been recognised in various acts, both by us and our
allies; in the exchange of prisoners, the release of the prin..
cess royal, &c. There is no injury, therefore, but on the
contrary much advantage to be derived from a more full and
explicit recognition. At the peace of Utrecht, the negotia-
tion and conferences at Gurtruydenberg were injured by
Louis XIV. employing an ambassador in the interest of the
pretender : why, then, the Count D'Artois should now be so
much countenanced by government as ambassador from an
unfortunate prince, I am at a loss to conceive. Is it not
highly necessary, then, to make an explicit declaration, that
we are really desirous of a suitable and honourable peace.
Let us, however, come to the point. Ministers say, all this is
very good, if you let us do it; but if the House of Commons
suggest it, it. is very wrong. Do they think, however, that
there is a cabinet in Europe, or even that there is a man
who reads a newspaper, who believes, if the motion of my
honourable friend were to be carried this evening, that it was
forced upon administration ? Nay, would he not rather
think (if in decency I may be allowed to say so), that minis-
ters had made the House of Commons adopt the motion ?
Allowing the right honourable gentleman all the confidence
•which he can desire, as much even as his right honourable
friend:. beside him (Mr. Dundas) reposes in him, nothing
could tend more to evince the confidence of the House in ad-
ministration, than the motion that has been made this evening.
Even if it be the etiquette of the minister, that all declara-
tions of this nature shall originate in the crown, (an etiquette
which I do not understand,) I would not put a declaration of
the crown in comparison; in point of authenticity, with that
which the present motion, if carried, would convey. Let
him recollect that every moment of delay is a moment of
danger, and therefore let him not procrastinate in making
the ''declaration. He may, perhaps, have -intended the speed
of this evening to serve the purpose of a declaration : but
he cannot but know the wide and immeasurable differenCe
between a speech which may or may not go abroad in an sk
citrate manner, and a resolution inserted in the votes of the
House of Commons.

I shall not say one word on the relative situation of Great
Britain. I am not one of those who are inclined to think
despondingly of the situation of the cOuntry. But if all
thing .could make me despair, it would be fhatspecies • of ree'


Boning, which, after telling me of the increased national debt,
the load of taxes, and the consequent misery entailed upon the

desires me to look to the ruined finances of Francepeople;
for comfort, which are quickly hurrying that power to the
precipice of destruction. So that, in proportion as the enemy
retreats from the common abyss which would swallow up
both, we are encouraged to he under no apprehension for

I will allow, that the French may be inour ui t
ndisstayrfeests .than the people of this country are at this

o;:but to me it appears to be very poor comfort to the
afflicted to hear, that their enemies will fall a little before
them. Even supposing France to come and bow at our feet,
supposing that Louis XVIII. were to be proclaimed rightful
heir of the crown, and supposing that she were tamely to
surrender all the conquests she has made, it would be no re-
compence for the loss that we have already sustained. Ac-
cording tot he statement of the right honourable gentleman,
the territorial rental of the kingdom does not exceed twenty-
five millions annually. The taxes, if they turn out as pro-
ductive as they have been estimated, will amount to twenty-
one millions, which with the poor rates, will make a sum
equal to the whole landed rental. Now, though I am not
one of those, who with a late petitioner, (Sir Francis Blake,
think that land pays all the taxes, I think the weight of them
lies upon the land, which cannot exist very easily under a
burden of twenty shillings in the pound. I am told that
things are worse in France ; but, will any man be bold
enough not to wish for peace, because the finances of France
may be in a state still more deranged than ours ? Rather
than continue the war for another campaign, independent of
the moral reasons against its prolongation, I would not un-
questionably give up our honour, our dignity, or our liberty,
which, till I die, I trust I shall never fail to assert; but I
would give up all questions of etiquette and accommodation,
and in fact every thing short of what most nearly concerns our
character. Let it not be understood that I wish for a dis-
honourable peace, or peace on any other terms than those
which are suitable to the interests, and consistent with the
dignity of the country ; but I am sanguine enough to think,
that even now this country may have fair and honourable

• terms of peace. The governors of France dare not refuse any
reasonable terms which we may oiler; if they do, others will
then be appointed in their place, who will dare to accept of
them, When peace shall be proposed, however, I hope and
trust that it will not be proposed on the dividing system, and
that this country will never give its sanction to any such trans-
action as the infamous partition of Poland. Dearly as I love

x 2


peace, exclaimed Mr. Fox, and anxiously as I wish for it,
that such a peace may never prevail, I most heartily pray.
I hope, when peace shall arrive, that the interests of huma-
nity as well as of kings, and that of every particular state
will be consulted, and that tranquillity will be re-established
on the broad basis of justice, in answer to the prayers of
mankind, who are now fatigued with war, slaughter, and

The House divided on Mr. Grey's motion :
Tellers. Tellers.

Mr. Grey Mr. Steele , Q
YEAS' Mr. Whitbread 50.—Nots {Mr. Adams j 9'


February 18.

THIS day Mr. Wilberforce moved, "That leave be given tobring in a bill for the abolition of the slave trade, at a time
to he limited ;" and then proposed that the said motion be referred
to the consideration of a committee of the whole House. The
motion was supported with much eloquence and ardour by Mr.
Fox, Mr. Pitt, Mr. W. Smith, Mr. Courtcnay ; and opposed
by General Tarleton, who moved the other orders of the day,
Mr. Jenkinson, Sir William Young, and Mr. Secretary Dundas.

Mr. Fox said : —The sentiment of opposition, Sir, to this
trade is one, which if it has once got possession of the breast
of an honest man, it is impossible that any mode of debating
or of resisting it should add to the impression which must
already be made on his mind. But if it were possible that
any mode of resistance to the question of abolition could have
the effect of inspiring me with a greater degree of earnestness,
•than I -already feel on the subject, it would be that which has
been attempted by the right honourable gentleman who spoke
last (Mr. Dundas). I confess, that I am not a little indignant
at the mode in which he has treated the subject. The honour
of the House, the honour of the legislature, and. a regard to
the principles of the constitution, make me feel warm upon
the occasion. As for the general subject, it has been already
so repeatedly discussed, that it cannot be necessary for me
again to bring it before the view of the House. It has been
this night so ably handled by the right honourable the chan-
cellor of the. exchequer, whose opinion with ,this House


likely to have more weight than mine, that I will not venture
take from the impression of any thing he has said. I must ;to

however, take notice of one assertion of the honourable
baronet, (Sir William Young,) that there were many matters
cleared up with respect to the characters of the planters.
Tlie honourable baronet will give me leave to say, that it is
not to those who live among slaves, that I would naturally look
for examples of humanity. To the charges which have been
brought of the cruel treatment of slaves, I grant there may
he many honourable exceptions. But when I am desired to
look for examples of the most exalted humanity and benevo-
lence, to those men who framed the barbarous laws of
Jamaica; when I am referred, as a model of mildness and

• mercy, to the conduct of the men concerned in carrying those
laws into execution, I must hesitate a little. What, Sir,

must be my feelings, when I read of laws by which men are
condemned to be exposed in cages to the burning influence of
the sun; and when I learn that such laws have actually been
carried into effect ! From the perusal of such facts I must
necessarily recoil, though, upon the whole, I am not apt to
believe that the planters are distinguished by any particular
inhumanity in the exercise of a power, with which, I contend,
no man ought to be entrusted.

I must remind gentlemen, that at present the question is
not emancipation, but abolition. How far the argument of
my honourable friend (Mr. Seijeant Adair) might go to the
point of emancipation it cannot be now necessary to discuss.
The question is, Whether we will suffer a horrible injustice
to be carried on under the sanction of our laws? The question
is not one that interferes with the local jurisdiction of the
colonies; it is, whether we shall exert a right, which un-
doubtedly we possess, to determine with respect to the con-
tinuance of a trade, which depends on ourselves ? The
confusion in this instance has arisen from the idea, that if the•
abolition takes place, it must necessarily be followed by the
emancipation. I hope and trust that it will; but this point I
leave for the decision of the proper legislature, with whose
province I have no wish to interfere. But we are told, that
ye ought not to join with the negroes against their masters.
Undoubtedly it would to us be matter of greater satisfaction,
if we could in this business obtain the concurrence of all the
Planters, But how does this argument agree with the other
statement of the right honourable gentleman, that by aaree-
in,a to the abolition we shall afford an argument to Victor
fugues, who will be enabled to say, " The French con-
vention liberates slaves, the British parliament takes no care
4f them ; it abolishes, indeed, the traffic in slaves, but leaves-



to their fate those, who are already in bondage?" Indeed, I
do not see how this argument can possibly apply, except I
were to conceive, that the right honourable gentleman was
arguing for the emancipation. I think it is net necessary to
employ more than one argument with respect to the character
of the House, "Did you not, four years ago, pledge your-
selves at this time, to abolish the detestable traffic in human
flesh ?" The honourable baronet says, that the House then
acted from the opinion expressed in the numerous petitions,
which were received from different parts of the country.
What, then, would you have it go abroad, that the House
supposed it right to act from the opinion of the public, in
order to ensure a little popularity, and promote their petty
interests at elections, and the moment that the pressure of
that opinion is withdrawn, conceive themselves to he justified
in renouncing the pledge which they had solemnly adopted ?
And, what is the period at which you choose to hold up the
House in this light ? — after the passing of the two bills
which have thrown difficulties in the way of expressing the
public opinion. Is it at such a period you think proper to
hold out that you are so much inclined to favour the cause of
slavery, in opposition to truth, justice, and humanity, that
though you formerly truckled to popular opinion, you now
come forward in your genuine colours, and, in violation of
the most solemn and deliberate pledge, announce yourselves
the advocates and supporters of slavery ? If any thing can
add to the flagrancy of the case, it is the conduct which has
been adopted by the House of Lords since this question came
before them. I suppose that it is not regular, in this place,
to arraign the conduct of the House of Lords, and there-
fore I will not arraign it. But there is one ground suggested
by the right honourable gentleman, on which I can, con-
sistently with order, advert to their conduct. The right ho-
nourable gentleman said, that the House of Lords had as
much right to their opinion, as this House has to theirs.

. Now let me state a case. If, after a long and laborious in-
vestigation, on a point deeply affecting the honour of the
national character, and the general interests of humanity,
their lordships had communicated to us the result of their
deliberations, involving an issue of the most pressing urgency,
and of the greatest practical importance, and had called upon
us for our decision ; and if we, after four years, had come to
no resolution, and taken no notice of such communication, I
have no hesitation to say, that in such a case we should have
betrayed our trust, and have had no right to sit as a branch
of the legislature. What chiefly appears extraordinary is,
that the Lords should take no step at all in the'business; that


should flinch from the proceeding, and abandon it, as itthey
re, to silent contempt. Undoubtedly, every branch of the-

legislature has a right to expect from the others, either agree-
ment or dissent to any measure, which it may choose to bring
forward. And it is well known, that if this House takes the
business to the House of Peers; as it ought, it never will
experience such mortifying neglect, or such contemptuous
silence. The right honourable gentleman will not deny that
if a majority of this House cordially concur as to the principle
of the abolition, and agree as to the necessity of carrying it
into effect with the smallest delay, the House of Lords will
also concur in the propriety of taking some immediate steps
for the purpose. But if the House of Commons never are
in earnest in the business, it is in vain that they carry their
resolution to the House of Lords. That House will see
through the pretext, they will second the policy, and will
suppose, that by such neglect and delay, which amount, in
fact, to rejection, they better comply with the wishes of the
House of Commons, as to the real state of the question,
than by giving it the most cordial reception, and the most
diligent attention. It is necessary for the honour of the House,
that this reproach should not attach. Iii order to vindicate
the dignity of their character, anal the consistency of their
proceedings, it is incumbent upon them to shew, by adopting
the motion of the

entlema that if the reSo-honourable

lution which they some years since passed for the abolition of
the slave trade be rejected, it is the limit, not of the Commons,.
but of some other part of the legislature.

But it has been said, that if you abolish the trade, other
powers will take it up. This is an argument which cannot at
all affect the line of conduct which we are bound to pursue.
The question is, whether you have not the power of com-
pletely abolishing it in your own colonies ? Unquestionably
You have, notwithstanding what has been urged, that they
will still continue to be supplied from other powers. You
may certainly as easily put a stop to any contraband trade of
this sort, as to the trade which was formerly carried on of
importing provisions from America. There is no vigour of
means, or language of authority, which you ought not to
employ for that object. This country ought to threaten with

, iindependence every colony which, after the int rd ction of
the legislature, should still persevere to carry on this infamous
traffic. But it is farther said, that even if the trade were
abolished by us, the- interests of humanity would not be be-
nefited, and that it would be carried on with circumstances
of still greater cruelty and oppression. Upon the same prin
ciple might we justify every crime. It might be alleged, that

1 4


crimes must be committed in society, and that therefore we
will anticipate the criminal purpose, in order to prevent its
being perpetrated with more wanton outrage, or determined
ferocity. By this reasoning the robber might defend his
occupation of plunder; he might say, "It is an advantage to
myself, and I exercise it with less injury to others, than
more hardened or savage offenders." The same argument
might be brought to extenuate the crime of murder ; it might
be alleged, that it was less reprehensible, because it was ac-
companied with fewer circumstances of excrutiating torture,
or persevering malice.

The right honourable gentleman treated as a figure of
rhetoric, the expression, " 6 to drive the shame of this iniqui-
tous traffic from ourselves." A figure of rhetoric ! Good God !
can any appeal be more forcible and impressive, more directly
practicable, more powerfully urgent ? Is it nothing to drive
from ourselves the shame of such a traffic, at a period, too,
when great revolutions have seemed, in future, to demand a
more intimate connection between politics and morals; when
nations affect to hold out the principles of eternal justice, as
the basis of their conduct, and to establish a character for
something better than the artifices of intrigue, or the re-
sources of their power ? Is it nothing to wipe away the guilt
and the stain of a traffic which the right honourable gentle-
man has himself admitted to be inconsistent with humanity
and justice? If the House of Commons still mean to per-
severe in the trade, for Heaven's sake let them, at least, act
fairly and manfully. Let them not use a timid caution, or
skulk behind the shameful negligence of others. Let them
boldly and openly declare, that after they have confessed the
trade to be cruel and unjust, they still mean to carry it on to
an unlimited extent.

But the right honourable gentleman has alleged as a reason
why we ought to give some quarter to this trade, the respect
which we owe to our forefathers. We ought not, forsooth,
to load their memories with all that accumulation of guilt
which is charged upon this traffic, or to brand with such harsh
epithets a practice which they encouraged by their example.
Reverence for their characters, and regard to their manes
ought to sink the consideration of injustice, and extenuate
the horror of cruelty. The tendency of mankind to dege-
neracy has been a common topic of declamation among
moralists and poets. If the complaint be well founded, we
ought at least, by getting rid as much as possible of the
vices of our ancestors, to endeavour to compensate for the
particulars in which we fall short of their virtues. But if
antiquity shall be found to sanctify injustice, 'and reverence
for former times to diminish the detestation of cruelty --


we shall conceive it to be a point of honour to throw a gloss
over the crimes of our ancestors, v bile we are led from a
sense of duty to their manes, to copy them in our own prac-
tice, then truly the prediction of the poet will be fulfilled

" }Etas Parentum, pejor axis tulit
Nos nequiores, mox daturos

Progeniem vitiosiorem."

It was amusing enough, however, to hear the right honour-
able gentleman talk of this pious veneration for the memories
of our ancestors, this charitable covering for their failings,
and deprecate all harshness of obloquy, and general terms of
condemnation as applied to the slave trade, which he had
himself previously admitted to be inconsistent with justice and,
humanity. After this admission, it might have been supposed
that few epithets could have been added of more severe
obloquy, or more general condemnation. The right honour-
able gentleman objected that the trade ought not to be
abolished immediately, and instanced Grenada, which was
by no means in a state ripe for the abolition, and would re-
quire for that purpose a period as long as had been granted
from the date of the former resolution. 'That was a point
which would come regularly to be discussed in the committee,
and there, if it should be found expedient, the period of
the abolition might be fixed for the year 1799. As to the
plan of the right honourable gentleman to effect the abolition
by calculations with respect to the'ages of the negroes im-
ported, I must remark, that those who think it impossible at
once to abolish the trade, and yet conceive that the object
may be effected by such regulations as these, strain at small
difficulties, and swallow large ones. It has been stated, that
it would be desirable for us to proceed with the concurrence
of the gentlemen interested : experience, however, has shewn
that we cannot hope to obtain it. We do not pretend to
legislate for them on the point of emancipation, nor ought
we, so far as relates to the abolition, to suffer them to legis-
late for us. The question is, whether the House, by its pre-
sent decision, shall spew itself to have been hypocritical or

honourable in its former declaration. It is even of more
Importance. It is whether the nation, after pretending to

• spend oceans of blood and millions of money, in the cause of
:religion, social order, and humanity, shall continue to carry
on this shameful and unprincipled traffic, and by a conduct
s0 inconsistent with its professions, so injurious to its honour,incur the charge of the vilest simulation, or the most har-
dened effrontery. It is surely a point of no small importance,
Whether, under these circumstances, the legislature shall

[Feb. IS,

permit, (and to permit is in some cases to enjoin,) the Con.k.',
tinuance of a trade, which, after a long and laborious in-
vestigation, they have pronounced to be inconsistent with,
humanity and jiistice.

But the honourable baronet has discovered a new reason
why. we should not .agree to the abolition. He has said,
that we must look to an indemnity for the expellee we have
incurred in the prosecution of the present war. And where
arc we to look for •it? In the \Vest Indies. So that we shall
want fresh _ cargoes of slaves, in order to cultivate our new
territorial acquisitions, and so to render them productive as
to constitute an adequate indemnity. Consequently, it turns
out at last, that 'the reward of those crusaders in the cause of
social order, justice, religion, and humanity, is to be an in-
creased profit on the slave trade ! I, for one, never can
consent that the country should purchase an indemnity at
such a price. Whether the motion shall succeed or not, I
beg leave to express to the honourable mover my thanks
for bringing it forward, and m y confidence that he will
never suffer the question to rest till it is finally decided.
we are influenced by any sense Of duty to ourselves, by any
honourable principle of action, we shall not suffer a session
to pass over without bringing forward the subject for con-
sideration. It is a subject which becomes peculiarly urgent
from the situation of the West Indies. Whence arises our
weakness in that quarter? Why are we so extremely vul-
nerable on every side? From the existence of that abominable
slave trade; which is as miserably impolitic as it is odiously
unjust. The motion is for leave to bring in a bill to abolish
the slave trade at a time to be limited. In the committee
I certainly shall vote for the earliest day that shall be pro-
posed. It is now about eight or nine years since the subject
was first brought forward, and if the House keep their word,
they cannot avoid taking some decisive step. It was matter
of joy to us, when we learned, that the slave trade was to
be • abolished in Denmark; but when afterwards we under-
stood that the period of the abolition was not to take place
till the year x Soo, our satisfaction on the occasion was con-
verted into contempt and ridicule. At present I see no pro-
bability that the century will put an end to this shame of
Great Britain. I cannot submit to sanction this infamous
traffic by mere regulations ; there are some things so bad,
that even to regulate them, is in some measure to, participate
in their criminality. Let us send the bill to the House of
Lords; if it is there rejected, let us send it up session after
session. Satisfied with the grounds on which we have brought
the measure forward, let the perseverance of 'our exertions

rrespon d with the justice and humanity of our cause, andco

' let us at least prove that we shall not be wanting to vindicate
the honour of our character and the consistency of our

prorrcheeeIliilOgs.u e divided on General Tarleton's motion, " That the
other orders of the day be now read."

Tellers. Tellers..
f Gen. Tarletonl1Sir

6^. NOES 1 Mr' Ryder
- Mr. Rob. Smith 93*1+"s1+"s'r W. Young /ng

So it passed in the negative, after which Mr. Wilberforce's
motion for leave to bring in a bill for the abolition of the slave
trade, at a time to be limited, was agreed to.

March i s.

On the order of the day for taking into consideration the report
ofthe committee on the bill for the abolition of the slave trade,
at a time to he limited, the bill was again strongly opposed by Sir
William Young, General Smith, Mr. Rose, Mr. Secretary Dun_
das, and General Tarleton ; and. as strongly supported by Mr.
Francis, Mr. Fox, Mr. Montagu, and Mr. Pitt. In reply to what
fell from Mr. Dundas,

N.U. Fox rose and said: —As the right honourable gentle-
- man- seemed in some part of his speech particularly to allude

to me, I am desirous to take this opportunity shortly to give
my opinion on the subject of the debate, which at all events
I should have felt to be necessary in the course of the even-
ing. i am glad that the right honourable gentleman has
found himself sufficiently recovered to attend on this occasion,
and more especially that he has been able to enter into so

a discussion of the question. 'When, Sir, we consider
his abilities, his opportunities of acquiring information on the
subject, and the great attention which he has-paid to it, we
may flatter ourselves that we have now heard the whole force
of the argument against us. When I say against us, I am
aware that I do dot use the most parliamentary way of
speaking; but I must confess, that I have been so long en-
gaged on one side of the question, that I have now formed
a strong predetermined opinion. I do not affirm that I am
not to be shaken by reasoning, but so intimately interwoven
Is my conviction, that I cannot easily be persuaded, that any
reasoning can be found to induce me to alter it. There
were many parts of the speech of the right honourable
gentleman, which must be considered as highly favourable
to the cause of those who are friends to the abolition.. The


whole of his argument is a complete answer to those advocates
on the other side, who contend, that the question ought to
be left at rest, that the discussion is highly improper, under
the peculiar circumstances of the present time, and that it
ought not at all to be agitated. I am happy to find that the
right honourable gentleman and myself agree in our pre-
mises, however we may differ with respect to our conclusion.
He admits that the trade is not only inconsistent with hu-
manity and justice, (and I should suppose, when I had got
that I had not much to ask,) but with policy and prudence
in time of war. It appears, then, that we only differ as to
the mede . of abolition.

The right honourable gentleman states a powerful objec-
tion to our mode, if it be well founded ; namely, that it is
impracticable. Let us examine it, as contrasted with that
mode of abolition which he has himself proposed, and see
to which of the two this objection of impracticability may
most justly be applied. First, the right honourable gen-
tleman states that our mode cannot be carried into effect
without the consent of the planters, which we cannot expect
to have. I have no hesitation to state, that if to the accom-
plishment of the abolition of the slave trade, we attach, as
a necessary condition, the consent of' the planters, 'we do not
see the question in a fair and manly light. What ground
of hope have we, even from their professions, that they will
ever be induced to give their consent to such a measure?
And if we advert to what has been their conduct in every
former instance, we cannot have the smallest prospect that
such an event is ever likely to take place. On a former
occasion, I trust I may make the allusion without any ir-
regularity, [Mr. Fox here alluded to the line of argument
adopted.. by Mr. Dundas, when he proposed his plan of gra-
dual abolition,] I remember great pains to have been taken
to hold two different languages to the different parties in this
question, to persuade the planters that if they did not accede
to terms of gradual abolition, an immediate abolition would
be effected; and the enemies of the trade, that if they did
not accept of their object upon the same terms, there would
be no abolition at all. This attempt to persuade both
parties completely failed. It did not succeed with me, be-.
cause I was persuaded that the abolition might be effected
in a different manner; and I have not understood that it
has gained one proselyte among the West Indians. The
right honourable gentleman says, that whatever laws may be
passed, the traffic in slaves will not be extirpated, and that
the whole of the navy of England cannot prevent illicit inter-
course. I am fully aware of the truth of this position, and



of the inefficacy of laws to suppress any commerce which-
holds out the tempting prospect of high profit; but this
refutes the reasoning of those who condemned the severity


of penalties imposed by the present bill ; as it is evident that
rigour of the penalty ought to be in proportion to the

of suppressing the offence. In this respect, there-
right honourable gentleman made the fullest defence

of those penalties, which have been so much reprobated.
On the penalties themselves he did not dwell much; in fact,
he did not seem to take them at all into his consideration.
When he asked, " Will it not be practicable to smuggle,
notwithstanding the operation of the law ?" ought not another
question to have suggested itself, " Is it not also possible,
that those concerned in smuggling may be detected?" May
it not be expected, that the law will at least have some effect
in securing the object in view; that in some instances the
vigilance of its operation will arrest the criminal; and that
in others, the contemplation of its penalties will prevent the
offence? But another objection is, that these laws cannot be
executed without the co-operation of the West Indians them-
selves. Are there not already laws in force, prohibiting any
intercourse between the West Indians and North America,
for the purpose of procuring provisions?' Has there been
found any deficiency with respect to the observance of those
laws? And yet provisions may be purchased more easily than

Allusions have been made to an expression brought for-
ward by me on a former evening, and repeated this night by
an honourable friend of mine, (Mr. Francis.) From the
construction put upon that expression, I conceive that it has
been misunderstood. My honourable friend did not say,
46 the West Indies are of little consequence, let them go;"
he merely answered a speculation that the consequence of
the abolition of the slave trade would be the loss of our West
India possessions; a speculation which, by the bye, is very
uncertain. To the assertion on the one side, he only opposed
an assertion of his own, that

oven if the speculation of the

loss of those islands should be true, we should be as well
without them : and then came in the case of America. On
that subject, I confess that I hold a different opinion. I
onsider the loss of America as a grievous misfortune to the

British empire. I always should be inclined to coincide with
those prudent men, who arc not disposed to risk any great
stake on the chance of speculation; and if even, in the con-
test between Great Britain and her colonies, I had been of
the opinion of the Dean of Gloucester, that the independence
of America was desirable, I should not have ventured to have


acted on that opinion. But in this case, if' the West India
planters should present the alternative, " either we will
separate from Great Britain, or continue the slave trade,"
I should have no hesitation. I would say, " Separate, go to
America, or if you think proper, go to France." When I
threaten them thus, I mean to convey, that the separation
would be infinitely more inconvenient to them than to Great
Britain, and that they are but little prepared for such a step.

The right honourable gentleman entered into a detail of
the amount of the importations, but was afterwards obliged
to admit, that not much stress was to be laid on a calculation
of that sort. He entered also into a speculation with respect
to the rivalship of America in point of manufactures. The
probability of what this country may suffer from such a rival-
ship, I consider to be very remote. The extent of land to
be cultivated in America, compared even with the increasing
rate of population, must retard such an event for a great
number of years. But when I venture to put the case of
the loss of the West Indies, I talk so from a certainty that
there is rio danger of such a separation, and from a firm
conviction that it cannot be the result of the present bill. As
to the point of right, I affirm that, from the nature of the
connection, no right can be more unquestionable than for
the legislature of Great Britain to interfere in regulating the
external commerce of her colonies. The right honourable
gentleman says, that if you cut them off from one branch of
trade, you become yourselves bound to supply the deficiency.
In point of fact, the argument is not founded, for you have
already interdicted them from many branches of commerce,
which you do not supply. But what is the extent of his
argument, as applied to the present case? To say that you
are. bound to supply the West India planters with slaves with
your own hands and your own _capital, till such a time as
those gentlemen are convinced that no fresh -supplies are
necessary, is to suppose that you have formed something like
the worst of all contracts. It is to suppose that you have
sold yourselves to the Devil to the end of time, and are
engaged to do his service, without the possibility of redemp-
tion. When the right honourable gentleman talks of the
danger to be apprehended from slaves newly imported front
a country, where neither from religion, morality, nor philo-
sophy, they have acquired any laudable sentiment or pod
disposition, where neither precept nor example has caai-
eurred to form them to amiable manners and habits of vir-ale,
what is the obvious inference? If there is one country ID the
world so peculiarly unfortunate, so totally depraved, is n
this wretched picture of our nature owing to the existence

1 27 271796.]


f that abominable traffic, which thus tends to eradicate
from the character any thing good, amiable, or even hunian ?
Can there exist any obligation to be the conductors of such
a trade? We cannot have made such a contract. If we
have, it is one of those few contracts, which ought to be

The right honourable gentleman, in taking notice of the
particular clauses of -the bill, lamented that there should be
one, enacting, that those slaves, who are already in the islands,
should be taken from one island to another, and thus sepa-
rated from their acquaintance, and the connections they may
have formed. If such are his feelings with respect to a re-
moval from Barbadoes to Jamaica, if he conceives the attach-
ment which binds them to the place they have once inhabited
to be so strong, with what sentiments must he contemplate
that separation which they, in the first instance, experience
from their native soil—that separation which breaks asunder
all the bands of nature, which tears them from every object
of sympathetic fondness, from every scene of early endear-
ment? With respect to the other clause, which enacts, that
those negroes who shall be attempted to be brought over for
the purpose of illegal commerce, shall be sold, and the money
applied to particular purposes, I certainly shall regret its
operation, and I sincerely wish that any other mode of dis-
posing of them could possibly be suggested. It is urged
against us, " You say, that they are unjustly torn from their
friends and their country : why, then, do you not take the
means to restore them ?' If it were possible to secure this
object, I should grudge no expence with which it might be
attended. But one of the evils of this robbery is, that it
leaves no means of restitution. Should we attempt again to
convey those wretches to the coast of Africa, they might only
be left to perish by famine, or might be exposed to a repetition
of the same sufferings which we now deprecate; and this cir-
cumstance in itself I can only consider as a fresh stigma which
attaches to this abominable traffic, and a more convincing
proof of its foul atrocity.

As to the practicability of the different plans, so far as they
are connected with the question of the co-operation of the
olonies; if the plan of abolition can be carried into effect

With the consent and co-operation of the colonies, my plan isfully as easy and practicable as that of the right honourableg
entleman : but if it must be enforced without their con-

sent, his plan is more difficult in execution, and less certainin its operation than mine. Evasion becomes easy, in pro-p
ortion as distinction is difficult. Would it be harder to pu-

niah a man for importing negroes, or for only importing them


above a certain age? In the one case, the enactment is broad
and positive, and removes at once all difficulty and deception
the other, the distinction is matter of intricacy and doubt, and
opens a wide door for imposition and subterfuge. But is the
right honourable gentleman prepared to say, that he is autho.
rind by the West-India planters to state their co-operation
to the plan which he has proposed? Have they not constantly
opposed the utmost obstacles in their power to every step
which has been taken in this business? Did not the act to
prevent the exportation of negroes to other islands meet also
the opposition of those gentlemen who are enemies to the
abolition ? Their co-operation we cannot hope, and we never
shall have it. 'Doubts have been attempted to be raised with
whom the right rested to decide upon this question. Un-
questionably the assembly of Jamaica may decide upon mat-
ters of internal jurisdiction, but it belongs to the parliament of
Great Britain to regulate the concerns of external trade. It
is not fit that the assembly of Jamaica should take upon itself
the province of the British legislature. Yet such is the scope
of that reasoning, which goes to affirm that this trade cannot
be abolished without the consent of the colonies. With re-
spect to the existence of a supposed engagement sanctioning
the trade, and pledging the faith of parliament for its conti-
nuance; whenever parliament at any time thinks proper to
encourage a trade in point of' policy, it by no means binds
itself either to carry it on, or to compensate for its abolition.
When I opposed the commercial treaty with France, on the
ground that it would be prejudicial to our trade with Portu-
gal, I never pushed the argument so far as to contend, that
because, by a former treaty, we had encouraged the trade with
Portugal, we were still indispensably bound to afford it the
same countenance, and not to divert commerce into any other
channel. But what have we done this session and the last?
We have in this country, on the ground of the scarcity of
provisions, entirely stopped a great trade, the distillery trade.
No proposition can be more evident, than whenever any mo-
tive of policy requires a trade to be suppressed, the legislature
are immediately authorized to employ measures to suppress it.
But the suppression of this trade is called for, not only by
motives of policy, but of humanity; and by what is far supe-
rior to any considerations either of policy or humanity—the
principles of justice.

The right honourable gentleman admits, that without some
regulations the trade not only cannot be carried on, con-
sistently with policy and prudence, but consistently with hu-
manity and justice. When he admits this right of regulation,
all question with. respect to the right of interference is at an


end. If we have a right to stop the importation of all slaves
above twenty, why not. stop the importation of all ? If the right
honourable gentleman had brought forward what be stated,
respecting a commission, to take into consideration the situ-
ation of the West Indies and the claims of the planters, as a
specific proposition, I should certainly, in that form, have
Given it all clue attention. At most, it can only weigh as an
rgument for him, to bring up a clause for that purpose to be

inserted in the bill.
In the course of his speech the right honourable gentleman

took notice of the unfounded calumnies circulated against the
planters, who had been represented as men devoid of humanity.
Undoubtedly a great body of evidence had been brought
forward to prove, that many acts of cruelty and tyranny land
:a different times been perpetrated, under the sanction of this
odious traffic. This, indeed, is no good reason why the
planters, who partake of the characters of any mixed body of
men, should be branded with one general stigma. It cannot,
however, be denied, that wherever there is slavery, there will
be abuse. If, with respect to the West Indies, we judge of
the national character from that which has always been con-
sidered as its best criterion, the national laws, we shall form
no very favourable conclusion. What can be more detestable
than the laws of Barbadoes, which have been referred to on
a former occasion ? And if any thing can exceed the letter of
the law of Barbadoes, it is the practice of Jamaica, as de-
scribed by Mr. Bryan Edwards, a man who is justly entitled
to every praise. I do not impute that spirit of cruelty to in-dividuals; it is the inevitable consequence of slavery. This
trade, it is said, has existed a hundred years. Slavery, it is
to be lamented, is much older. We have had writers on
slavery among the ancients, and there we can trace the same
effects, produced by this detestable practice, as we have oc-
casion to witness in modern times. The authority of Aristotle
has been quoted, and what does he say on the subject? " TheBarbarians are slaves by nature, and made for the service of
the Creeks." Finding the practice subsisting among hisCountrymen, this occurred to him as the easiest and most sa-tisfactory mode of accounting for its origin ; and in another
place he says: " You must not introduce what is too impro-
bable, even in fiction ; therefore you must not represent a slave
as a good man; for the character, though not impossible, is

ntrary to nature and to general experience." Nothing, in-
deed, can be more true than that all the virtues of man are
alli ed to liberty : in the generous soil of freedom they take
deep root, and acquire full vigour and maturity ; their


[March I °

) •

vices foster on the dunghill of slavery, and shoot forth with
nauseous luxuriance.

But the right honourable gentleman says, that even if we
should abandon the trade, from a principle of justice, we
should still gain nothing on the score of humanity. I will.
not again repeat the argument already so often enforced, that
we ought t9 abstain from crimes without any consideration of
consequences. But I will ask, if we abandon the trade at the
present moment who arc likely to take it up? Win the French,
the Dutch, or the Americans readily embark in such an un-
dertaking? If, from a principle of justice, this great country
takes the lead in renouncing this abominable and disgraceful
traffic; if America bears testimony to the same cause, and
France, already pledged by her own declarations, perseveres
in the course she has adopted, may not this powerful example
be supposed to be the most effectual step to bring about a
.complete and final abolition? I ask those who question your
right to legislate for Jamaica, what right you have to legislate
for Africa? what right Englishmen have to tear the unoffend-
ing inhabitants from their native soil, and to devote them as
the victims of their [avarice and cruelty ? what sort of law
that is which sanctions the commission of injustice ? what sort
of morality that is which teaches us to commit crimes, because
they are countenanced by the example of others ?

An honourable friend of mine (General Smith), supposing
that a general burst of exclamation which proceeded from
those who were adverse to the trade was meant to interrupt
him, said " it was very well for gentlemen to decide on the
question, without thinking of the claims of those in the West
Indies, and then retire to their luxury or repose." I rather
suppose that exclamation proceeded from those who were
thinking of the claims of persons in the West Indies, though
not of the description intended by the honourable general—
from those who were thinking of the claims of the poor ne-
groes. Good God ! are we placed in those circumstances of
comfort and ease which he has described, and can we hesitate
a moment to decide whether we shall leave the African in
possession of the common blessings of nature; of the en-
joyment of his freedom, and the privilege of his industry, or
whether we shall barbarously tear him from his home, and
doom him to be the drudge of avarice, and the victim of

But, if I have already shown the plan of the right honour-
able gentleman to be most exceptionable in point of practica-
bility, how does it stand in point of humanity and justice?
What must we think if Great Britain, giving up the general


point of her right to carry on-the trade, and openly avowing
i ts injustice, should still continue to exercise that- trade with
respect to the weak and the helpless ? Is it of consequence
for a nation to be moral? 'What impression, then, must it
(rive to other states, that Great Britain declares that she feels
file inhumanity, that she acknowledges the injustice of the
slave trade, that she henceforth renounces all privilege to
traffic in those who have arrived at manhood, and attained
their full strength, but reserves to herself the power to prey
on helpless infancy and unoffending innocence, without con-
sidering the feelings of those who are thus bereaved of their
children, or the sufferings of the poor victims thus dragged
from the bosom of parental fondness, to drink the bitter
draught of slavery ? Can a government continue respected
or respectable, which places humanity and justice in one -
hand, and policy and gain in the other? And yet, this must
he the case if you do not abolish the slave trade, and
still more so if you adopt the plan of abolition proposed
by the right honourable gentleman. My honourable friend
(General Smith) says, that an act of parliament will never
pass to abolish this trade. I am persuaded that the opinion
of the House of Commons, firmly and decidedly expressed,
will have great weight in influencing the ultimate decision ;
and you ought to lose no time in giving it the utmost possible
effect. I am astonished that our proposition should be termed
abrupt and hasty ; it is now eight years since the business was
first brought forward; the abolition, by a vote of this House,
was fixed for 17 96, and we now come to ask it in 1797 ! Of
all other charges, that of precipitancy is the least applicable to
the supporters of this bill. If the other branch of the legis-
lature shall still be found to differ from us in 'opinion on 'this
subject, let us at least shew by our conduct, that it is not the
fault of the House of Commons that the continuance of a
traffic was sanctioned, which every man admits to be contrary
to humanity, policy, and justice.

At the close of the debate, General Tarleton moved to leave
out the word " now," and at the end of the question to acid thew
ords " this day four months." The question being put, that the

Word " now" stand part of the question, the House divided :
Tellers.y8As J Lord Muncaster,

General Tarleton7o. — NOESZ Mr. M. Montagu
Mr. Robt. Dundasf 74'

So it passed in the negative. After which General Tarleton'sro
otion, that the report be taken into consideration upon this dayfour months was agreed to.

X. 2

1 79 6.] RESPECTING TIIE LOAN. 133132 MR. SMITH'S MOTION [Feb. 26.


Febr/My 26.

T N the course of an investigation into the circumstances attendingI the negociation of the loan for this year, it appeared that a very
extraordinary and marked preference had been given by the mi.
nister to the mercantile house of Messrs. Boyd, though conducted
on the professed principle of a free and open competition, and that
the equally respectable house of Mellish and Morgan would have
taken it on terms considerably more advantageous to the public.
The attention of parliament was called to the subject by Mr.
William Smith, who moved several resolutions of censure on the
subject. On the first resolution being put, viz. " That it ap-
pears to this House, that the principle of making loans for the
public service by free and open competition, uniformly professed
.by the chancellor of the _exchequer, has been very generally re,
cognized, as affording the fairest prospect of public advantage ;" a
debate of great length took place. An amendment to the reso-
lution was proposed by Mr. Sylvester Douglas, who moved that it
should stand thus : " That it appears to this House, that the prin-
ciple of making loans for the public service by competition, which
was introduced, and has in general been acted upon, by the present
chancellor of the exchequer, has been productive in many instances
of great public advantage ; but that this principle could not be
applied in its full extent, to the bargain for the late loan, consist-
ently with the peculiar circumstances of the case, and with that
attention to the equitable claims of individuals, which ought always
to be shewn in transactions with them on the behalf of the public."
Afer the terms of the loan had been defended by Mr. Steele, and
Mr. Pitt,

Mr. Fox said, that exclusive of the importance of the
subject now before the House, he must, from the evidence
before him, vote for the original proposition of his honour-
able friend, and against the amendment which had been
proposed, for that amendment alledged for a fact that
which was not true; and among the reasons which lie had for
the vote which he should give, was that of some expressions
of the learned gentleman who proposed the amendment, and
also of the minister himself; who had held pretty lofty
language upon this occasion. He had said, that they had in-
ferred guilt where there was no evidence of it, and had made
insinuations which they half retracted. He thought lie knew
his duty too well ever to make any insinuation of guilt, where
there was no suspicion. It was wholly against his, nature to

make that sort of attack on any man, to pretend to say there
might be guilt, when he thought there was none ; nor should
he ever be backward in stating it where he had suspicions.
But with regard to the guilt, as it appeared to him in this
case, he would state it to the House, as well as what he
conceived to be the nature of the accusation.. The minister
had stated, that the accusation originally made against him-
upon this subject was, that he held a negociation in concluding
the bargain for the loan, that was to be used for the purposes of
of corruption, and that it might be made use of to influence
the members of that House to vote for him. This was in-
correct. No such accusation was ever made against that right
honourable gentleman. The original mover of the resolutions
now before the House' had never imputed that to the minister.
He too, had always acquitted the right honourable gentleman
of personal corruption ; and for this the right honourable gen-
tleman said, he did not thank him. I care not, said Mr. Fox ;
I claim not his thanks, nor shall I ever complain that I do not
receive them. But I accused him then,and I accuse him now, of
having made an improvident bargain for the public. Even
improvidence, in a minister of finance, Mr. Fox contended to
be no small crime; and he could

not help saying he was sur-

prised to hear that sort of improvidence stated as a mere pecca-
dillo. 'What ! improvidence in a chancellor of the exchequer,.
to the vast extent of this loan, a mere peccadillo ! It was not
so to be called; it was a very serious charge against a minister
of this country to say that he had in a transaction of this vast
importance made an improvident bargain. The bargain was
not improvident merely ; it was made under such suspicious
circumstances, as the House ought not to be too ready to ex-
cuse. But he must protest against the doctrine that no bad
motive should be assigned to the minister, if it could not be
proved what that motive was. This was against the common
order of things, which he conceived in the present instance
ntitled him to say, that the motive, be it what it might, could

not be a good one where the effect was so bad, and the cir-
cumstances so suspicious.

The right honourable gentleman had insisted that he wastotally
.fexculpated from all attempts to influence, by this loan,

the votes of the members of' that House. He dared to say that

s was true, for he did not see in the present state of the po-
litics of this country, that the right honourable gentleman
had any occasion to increase his majority in that House, and

loan was made a subject of influence, it mustbe i

nfluence of another kind. The right honourable gentle-
Man, as well as the learned gentleman who opened the debate,had insisted much that the merchants in the city, who were

x 3

1 34

subscribers to this loan, were not concerned in any way of di..
rect influence; but that was not the charge which he madejagainst the minister. If there was any species of improvidence-hich it was proper in the house to check rather than another,
it was that species which went, not to affix political weakness
and political disgrace on the character of the minister, but
which tended to procure for him; from great and powerful
men, great and powerful support. In the present case, the
loan was diffused among a class of men, from whom the mi-
nister, even supposing him innocent of any corrupt intention,
might derive much more solid advantage than from a few
votes in the House of Commons.

The first point in the business to which he would call the
attention of the House, was the mode of transacting the loan.
The right honourable gentleman had all along been an advo-
cate for free and open competition. He begged leave to dis-
miss all cavil upon the expression "free and open competition;"
lie meant it in the fair and candid sense. But how stood the
matter in point of fact with regard to the conduct of the chan-
cellor of the exchequer ? In 17 9 3, he brought before the House
a bargain so extravagant and wasteful to the public, that he
attempted to defend it only by stating, that it had been the
result of a free and open competition. This proved how much
merit the minister thought there was in free and open compe-
tition, since he rested his defence in a case so desperate wholly
on that circumstance. Why then, he could not help suspect-
ing the fairness of that loan, in which the minister abandoned
this mode, and that, too, in a loan as extensive and extrava-
gant as any we had ever heard of. This loan, therefore, was
as extravagant in point of terms and more objectionable in
point of manner, than the loan of 1793 ; and here he must
make an observation, that the right honourable gentleman's
exceptions were greater than his rules. For it was not true,
that he had in substance followed the principle of public com-
petition in loans; particularly if we looked to quantity instead
of number of loans. The last two loans were not made by
competition, and in point of quantity they nearly equalled all
the others put together; amounting to pretty nearly fifty
millions. The minister, therefore, had abandoned the prac-
tice, which he extolled in theory, of public competition ; fifty
millions had been added to the capital of our debt, and that
without a competition in the bidding for the loans. He wanted
to know whether, according to the principles of common sense,
he was not called upon to say that this loan was an improvi-
dent bargain, on the part of the public? And he would ask
the House, whether such a man should pass uncensured,
merely because it could not be proved what his motives were?


Here Mr. Fox proceeded to take notice of the evidence as
printed in the report, and to comment on the various circum-
stances of that evidence, by which he inferred that a pre-
ference was really intended by the minister to be given to Mr.
Boyd. At all events, it was extremely material to the honour
of his character, fairly to tell when he had the first notice of
Mr. Boyd's claims. He had pressed him often for an answer
to this question, and never had obtained any specific reply.
On this point he thought Mr. Boyd's evidence inconsistent
with the right honourable gentleman's declaration. Mr..I3oyd
said positively, on his examination, that as early as October
he preferred his claim to the chancellor of the exchequer, and
that the chancellor of the exchequer, being convinced of its
justice, came under promise to give him the preference. Ile
was willing to make every allowance for omissions amid the •
multiplicity of business with which the attention of the right
honourable gentleman must necessarily be distracted, but to
forget such an important subject as this, admitted neither of
palliation nor excuse. Was it nothing, after having come
under a positive promise to prefer an individual, to give notice
to the governor of the bank of his intention to hold out
proposals of public competition, in which he knew at the
time it would not be in his power to persevere, and which, in
fact, he had been obliged to abandon ? And here he would
say something upon the claim of Mr. Boyd. If the claim was
invalid, it would only vary the degree of guilt; and if it was
valid, it was a singular circumstance that it should have been
entirely forgotten. It certainly was not a claim founded upon
a direct written or verbal agreement: but even though the
claim was good, it was not sufficient to stand between him and
the public ; and though gentlemen were extremely fond of
appealing to the governor of the bank, the evidence that he
gave before the committee went directly to invalidate his
claim. The opinion of Mr. Giles was fortified by fact and
justice. For supposing, which he really believed was the case,
that it would have been better for the nation to have given
the contractors a pecuniary compensation, if the chancellor
of the exchequer, or if the country, were bound to the con-
tractors, they were bound to the contributors; and if such a
compensation had been granted, it would have been but fair
that its advantages should have been extended to the contri-
butors, as well as to the contractors. Supposing, for instance,
that 3 or 400,000l. had been voted to Mr. Boyd and his
friends for the loss they sustained, the House would certainly
have provided that the compensation should extend to all the
subscribers as well as to the contractors; for how the country
could be bound to the contractor and not to the contributor,

K 4

[Feb. 26. 796.] RESPECTING THE LOAN. t

he was at a loss to conceive. It was said that these come
under some degree of risk. But how long did it exist? Only
till the deposit was made. What was the nature of the risk''
A risk might be so much that it might be nothing at all.
The contractor might sometimes be obliged to hold scrip for
a considerable time ; but so was the contributor, and the risk
on his part was only less, as the contractor had commonly a
greater share than the contributor. In justice, then, and the
nature of things; there was certainly nothing to authorize the
claim. There had been many a loan bargained for in this
country; but there had not been a sufficient number of in-
stances to constitute a custom on this head.

Much stress had been laid on the conversation which took
place between the chancellor of the exchequer and Mr. Boyd,
in 17 94. It seemed, the chancellor of the exchequer, in order
to hasten the payment of the loan, had said, that the following
February would be too late for the last instalment, because it
might be necessary to negotiate a new loan before that time.
This expression of the chancellor of the exchequer was re-
presented as a virtual recognizance of the claim of Mr. Boyd.
But it *as not necessary to ascribe this conversation to a ten-
derness for Mr. Boyd's right, when it was much more natural
to suppose it proceeded from a concern for the public in-
terest. This casual expression, however, had such an effect
upon the mind of the right honourable gentleman, that
he could not efface the idea of Mr. Boyd's peremptory right
to shut the market against new loans, till the last instalment
upon the preceding loan should have been paid. To all this
the right honourable gentleman asked, " Have I shewn any
symptoms of partiality to Mr. Boyd? On the contrary, was
it not with the greatest reluctance that I deserted my favourite
system, in order to satisfy his claim?" We have seen reluc-
tance (said Mr. Fox) often used as a veil under which we con-
ceal the commission of acts which we ought not to have com-
mitted. With what " sweet, reluctant, amorous delay," the
right honourable gentleman took leave of his professions I
know not. Still, however, lie maintained that he kept up
some degree of competition. But if he was aware that it was
such a competition as to excite contempt, Mr. Fox said he could
give it no other character than that of a miserable expedient
to cover his determination ; and if he had a better opinion of
it, why did he abandon it on the opinion of two angry men ?
But here occurred a question of moment, respecting the time
at which the loan was made. On account of some pressing
business in the House of Commons, he could not bring on
the budget, but yet he could not put off the loan, but con-
cluded the bargain twelve days before he notified it to parlias,

men t • whereas, on Rimer occasions, it used only to be eon-
eluded one, two, or three days before the opening . of the

From the circumstances of the loan Mr. Fox proceeded to

he motives which actuated the negociation. And ifspeak
it was not allowed to operate as an instrument of corruption,
it certainly had sonic reference to a transaction which took
place in September, in which Mr. Boyd raised 2,500,0001.
for government, upon treasury bills, bearing a fictitious date
at IIainburgh though drawn here. This transaction Mr. Fox
reprobated, on the authority of the governor of the bank of
England, as extremely discreditable to government, and as
disgraceful to those who set it On foot. When he saw the
right honourable gentleman abandon his principles; when lie
saw him abandon them at the suit of an individual; and when
he saw him abandon them in favour of this individual, after
being engaged in a discreditable transaction with him, the
observation could not but excite some suspicions, and it would
require stronger reasons than any that he had adduced to
establish his innocence. But, said the right honourable gen-
tleman, this was only a necessary supply, which Mr. Boyd
advanced in the most liberal manner for the service of the
country, in a time of difficulty, when her resources were ex-
hausted, and when it would have been exceedingly incon-
venient to have convened parliament. This representation
served only to enhance the favour conferred by Mr. Boyd,
and to establish the relation between that transaction and the
negociation of the present loan ; for to relieve the minister
from such difficulties as those, and in which he had involved
himself by improvidence or extravagance, was an obligation
which would naturally in these circumstances be too highly
valued to be easily forgotten. He might have negociated a
short loan in September, which would have operated as a pre-
sent supply till after the holidays; but this could not have
been explained to France, nor would it have given that power
half the idea of our financial superiority which she must ne-

with mockery

cessarily have formed from such a highly-creditable trans-
action, as raisi a money by means of fictitious Hamburgh
bills !


Mr. Fox adverted to the report, and to that part of it espe-
a stated the conduct and the evidence of Mr. IVIor-

gan, both of which he said, appeared to him to have been na-
tural enough. That gentleman had expressed himself in his
evidence consistently. Much had been said, that Mr. Morgan
appeared to be angry with the minister on this occasion. Was

unnaturalilr l in a man, who felt that he had been insulted
of competition ? He had lost that which was

138 MR. SMITH'S MOTION [Feb. 26.

the object of his heart, the loan, and therefore there was no-
thing wonderful in his anger. Every candid man would agree
that some allowance ought to be made for a man irritated by
disappointment. Mr. Morgan had said he wouldhave made
a bargain for the loan, which would have been better for the
public than this. Here was at once, then, the best of all possible
evidences, the evidentia rei, that the bargain was an impro-
vident one. Why, it was asked, did Mr. Morgan not hid
above Mr. Boyd by his proxy in the House of Commons when
the subject was debated, up to the whole amount, which he
stated the public to have lost? The answer to this question
was plain, and Mr. Morgan had already given it. He did
not hid for the public good, but for his own good, and there-
fore, when he was bidding to the House of Commons when
they were called upon to ratify a bad bargain, a sum consider-
able enough to make that bargain much better for the public,
the less he advanced the better for himself. Such was the
admission of Mr. Morgan ; and he had not the smallest
scruple to declare, that he felt as much willingness to be-
lieve a man who thus admitted that he wished to take care of
his own interest, as he who pretended, in money matters, to
have nothing in view but the public good. Here, then, we
had a man preferred by the minister, with whom transactions
of a very suspicious nature had been carried on, and this pre-
ference had cost the public an immense sum of money. What
was he to say on such a case ? What could he say, but that
the minister proceeded upon some motive or other that, from
the circumstances and the manner of it, had rather the ap-
pearance of a bad than a good one ; it had certainly operated
to the very great detriment of the public at large, and to the
ill character of the pecuniary concerns of this country.

Mr. Fox next proceeded to take notice of the different
causes, which the minister had assigned for the rise in the
price of the funds soon after the loan was contracted for, and
declared that he was clearly of opinion, that the king's mes-
sage, which came to that House on the day after the budget,
was the chief cause of that rise. The right honourable gen-
tlemen contended, that. the news of the Austrian victories,
had a considerable share in promoting the rise. These victo-
ries, let it be recollected, were pretty generally known before
the 2gth of November. The rapid decay of the French
finances was assigned as another cause of this political pliwno-
menon. He begged however to know, whether, after the
25th of November, the French finances had decayed so ra-
pidly, that even the most sanguine calculator found his calcu-
lations far short of the truth. He was the more surprised at
hearing this language when he recollected that about eight

months ago they were described as being in the agonies of death,
in the very gulph of bankruptcy. All arguments respecting the
decay of the French finances, he considered as so many childish
and contemptible pretences to veil (and a thin veil it was,) the
suspicious conduct of the chancellor of the exchequer. When
the right honourable gentleman was obliged to have recourse

pretexts, in his opinion, no accuser could say moreto such

against him. He was asked, how he came to calculate upon
ui average rise of stock, and of course the average premium

On the loan from the temporary effect of any particular news ?
He replied, that he calculated upon the price of stock, when
subscribers made their first deposit, at which period the cra-
nium afforded a clear profit of twelve and a half per cent. He
admitted, for argument's sake, that the message might be
the natural effect of the minister's comment on the king's
speech at the opening of the session ; but who did not know
that a formal message from the throne carried much greater
weight with it than an occasional speech of a minister in par-
liament ? The fall of stock was not to be wondered at, be-
cause the public had never seen the message acted upon, and
therefore it was but natural that the funds should sink to their
former level. The conduct of the commissioners appointed
to manage the funds for the liquidation of the national debt,
in buying into the four, instead of three per cents., Mr. Fox
stated to be another matter deserving the attention of the
House; and a due consideration of it would, he said, easily
satisfy them, that it was to be regarded as a part of the cir-
cumstances, that bore relation to the late improvident bargain
with Mr. Boyd. He concluded with maintaining, that the
terms of the loan were much more extravagant, not than the
country had paid at former times, but in comparison with the
terms which might, when the loan was made, have been ob-
tained by free and open competition. He sat down, with
giving it as his opinion, that the chancellor of the exchequer
had been guilty of a breach of duty, and on that ground he
must give his assent to the original resolution.

Mr. Smith's first resolution was rejected, on a division, by 171
-against 23 ; after which Mr. Douglas's amendment was agreed to.

141I 796.]144

was not considered to involve any moral guilt, and therefore
it was to be altered and avoided, and always would be altered
and avoided, as much as possible, by every wise legislature.

The question here was, whether the good (if there was any)
which • was gained by these game laws, was so much as to
overbalance the evil they were the cause of? It was said, that
gentlemen should have great inducements to live in the coun-


March 4.

'HIS day Mr. Curwen moved, " That leave be given to bring in
a bill to repeal the acts of the 22d and 2 1 d of Charles II. the

1st of James I. the 4th and stir of William and Mary, the 5th and
9th of Anne, and the 2gth of George or such parts thereof, to
be particularly specified, as relate to the Preservation of Game ;
and for substituting other provisions in lieu thereof." Mr. Buxton
was of opinion that game should be made private property. Mr.
Windham wished for a modification of the game laws, but upon
general principles he felt a very great repugnance to accede to any
sudden change in any ancient system.

Mr. Fox said, he hoped that no effectual opposition would
be made to the motion of his honourable friend that night,
which was-only for leave to bring in a bill, hereafter to he
discussed. He should not offend the right honourable gen-
tleman who spoke last, by saying any thing upon the doc-
trine of natural rights. But although, on the principle of
property, it might not be absolutely unjust to make a dis-
tinction between the qualification to kill game and any other
qualification, yet, on the principle of congruity and of policy,
the game laws were indefensible, for by them it appeared, that
a great number of the most opulent part of the people of this
country were not permitted to enjoy the luxury of sporting
with game. This was obviously incongruous ; it would be so
in any state, and therefore improper, but much more so in
that state under which we had the happiness to live. So much
for the consistency of these laws. Was it not true that these laws
were ineffectual ? That they were almost universally broken?
That there was no place whatever where game was not, or
might not be purchased, contrary to these laws ? What was
the use of laws to prohibit the sale of game ? As long as
rich men wanted game, poor men would procure game. Was
not that the result of the ,game laws ? Did not that call for a
repeal of the game laws ? He would not say that he would
never agree to a proposition that made that criminal by law
which was not morally considered criminal ; yet it was cer-
tainly clear, that that law was best kept which declared that to
be criminal, which the general feeling and sentiment of man-
kind regarded as morally criminal. That law would thrive.
It would be generally obeyed. It always had been, it always
would be, otherwise with a law which prohibited that which

try. Certainly they should ; it was proper and beneficial ;
men of high situation in life and of large fortunes, were, un-
doubtedly, fit objects of the attention of the legislature in every
point of view. He was willing to grant that care should be
taken to protect them in the enjoyment even of their amuse-.
me.nts. Be it so. It was, however, his opinion, that the
repeal of the game laws would not tend to the diininution of
that object; and that ought to go a great way towards the
repeal of those laws. He could not say, like an honourable
gentleman, that lie was quite impartial on the subject, be-
cause certainly he indulged in the amusements of sporting as
much as his leisure would allow. So did the honourable gen-
tleman who made the present motion. That could not ren-
der either of them, from the part they took in this case, the
more liable to distrust by those who wanted to protect the
game. With respect to the game laws, his opinion was, that
there might easily be found a much better system than they
were for the protection of the game, supposing the House to
have nothing else in view upon the subject. He thought that
the better way would be for the House to adopt the idea of.
an honourable gentleman, (Mr. Buxton,) and make game pri-
vate property. If he was bound to take his choice out of
three cases, either that the laws should remain as they are, be
totally and nothing else, or that be made pri-
vate property, he should certainly say, " make game private

If, however, he was compelled to clause between two ques-
tions, whether these laws should remain as they were, or be
totally repealed, and nothing else, he should have no diffi-
culty in saying, that they should be all repealed without any
thing being substituted in their stead. The greater part of
these laws were so arbitrary, the principle which ran through
them all was so impregnated with tyranny, that they were en-
tirely unfit to exist as laws in a free state. Such was their
Principle. The practice arising out of them was equally liable
to objection ; for the penalties sued for must be solicited by
Parties who were generally too much affected by animosity
to the party against which they sued. Nor was it always quite
a Clear case that the magistrate who pronounced the convic-
tion was strictly impartial. The whole of the system was, in

142 MR. CURWEN'S BILL FOR [March • •

fact, amass of insufferable tyranny, which no gentleman had
ever ventured to defend in a direct way. If gentlemen thought
proper to assert that the game laws tended to protect the
game, he would answer them directly, that they did no such
thing. He would ask any person conversant with the subject,
whether, in point of fact, where game was preserved, it was
not from the law of property, and not from the game laws?
He was sure it was owing to the law of property, solely, that
game was preserved. Where had game been well preserved, ex-
cept where the holder of the land was the proprietor of it, and
had the right by law to kill game ? Had it been so where
the holder of the land was not the proprietor, and had not
the right to kill game ?

He would say again, that the preservation of the game was
entirely owing to the proprietors of land, and not to the game
laws, and therefore it was the principle of property which
protected the game. He spoke confidently upon this subject,
and he was glad he spoke in the hearing of many who
knew the matter better than he did. But what was the pro-
position of his honourable friend ? Only that a penalty of sl.
be imposed on a person who should, after notice, trespass on
the land of another, and kill game there. He thought that
game should be made private property. That was his opinion.
He knew that the prejudices of men were a long time in wear-
ing out, and that was a point that was much to be considered,
and great care to be taken of it ; for would it be an easy thing
to make the public regard game in a field, in the same light as
any other property? To conquer that prejudice would re-
quire time, and the House might consider of that hereafter.
The question, however, here was, whether the House would
not agree to bring in a bill, to repeal laws which no man in
the House defended in principle? Why not agree, then, to
the introduction of the bill, and when it went into a com-
mittee, propose some substitutions for the laws? But al-
though this was his opinion, yet the question, he was willing
to confess, was not so pressing or so urgent that the Houser,
should not take time to consider it. That the game laws were
really mischievous and created crimes ; that they increased the
number of offenders against themselves, and thereby increased
the number of persons who were ready to commit other crimes,
could not possibly admit of any doubt. He should hope,
therefore, that the bill would be permitted to be brought in
and would pass. He was perfectly sure, that the game laws
were not good for the preservation of game. It seemed to
be agreed that they were bad for that purpose: they could,
therefore, be kept only (if they were to be kept) for the sake
of the invidious distinction which they establislied. 1;

Mr. Jenkinson said, that although he considered the game laws

i„ an objectionable point of view, yet he was so averse to any al-
teration taking place in a system so long established, especially at
a time like the present, when every deviation from legal custom
ought scrupulously to be guarded against, that he must oppose thc..

. He therefore moved, That the House do now adjourn.
Upon this the H


divided :

Mr. Jenkinson

YEAS 1 Mr.
-,,, { Mr. Curwen


--- IN 0 ES
M Buxt n


W allace
So it passed in the negative. After this, Mr. Curwen consented
withdraw . his motion, and the House agreed to go into a com-to

mittee of the whole House, on that day sennight, to take the said
acts into consideration.

April 29.

On the it th of April Mr. Curwen obtained leave to bring in a bill
for repealing certain statutes relating to the game, and for the bet-
ter preservation thereof, and also for extending the privilege of
killing game, to the owners and occupiers of land. On the motion
for the second reading of the bill, on the 29th, Captain Berkeley
moved, That it be read a second time upon that day three months.
The bill was also opposed by Sir Richard Sutton, who stated, that
in Germany game could be bought and sold at the public market
by those who were qualified ;

and recommended the same regulation
in this country.

Mr. Fox said, that lie was a very warm friend to the prin-
ciple of this measure, though some of the clauses of the bill
might be thought exceptionable. He wished to abstain from
general arguments, he hoped however the House would con-
sider what the houourable baronet had advanced with regard
to the German laws, as totally inapplicable to the question.
What, he asked, was there in the British code to resemble
in the least the laws of Germany ? He was surprised to hear
any thing like the introduction of them into this kingdom.
The arguments, however, of the honourable baronet as far
as they were right, most assuredly went to the fundamental
repeal of the game laws. He said, that in Germany, and
he recommended the same regulation to be adopted here,
game could be bought and sold at the public market by those
who were qualified. How then did the matter stand ? The
l rof the manor might employ a game-keeper to kill hisgame; but the lord of the manor must sell it. He was firmly
Persuaded, that to give the land-holder his just right over the
game on the grounds which he occupied, would be the best
cleans of preserving the game. The land-holder had an in-


disputable right to the game on his ground, and much man,
so, assuredly, than the man who obtains a fictitious right to
kill game, by taking out his qualification. With regard to
poaching, he confessed he was no friend to it, but he would
not go so far as the worthy baronet, and say, that he would
have no mercy for poachers. But, if the worthy baronet en-
tertained such an idea of the criminality of a poacher, a
person whose situation might be some alleviation of his guilt,
what did he say to those by whom he was employed ? Were
they not, in a moral point of view, equally, if not more
culpable in inciting him to the violation of the laws of his.
country ? He never could look upon the breach of the laws
with more horror, as far as related to the poor, than he did
with respect to the rich ; who, in many instances, conceived
that they were free from guilt, as long as they escaped with
impunity. When gentlemen called for vengeance against
these unfortunate men, he could riot look upon those with
complacency who trafficked for boroughs, and purchased seats
in the House of Commons. He could not persecute the
poor poacher with indignant rage, without manifesting his
detestation at the conduct of many of his superiors. To
prevent the evil, the remedy, he maintained, was in the prin-
ciple of the bill; for he insisted that, conformably to the
doctrine of the most eminent writers on the criminal juris-
prudence of this country, , the game laws were not only in-
effectual, but disgraceful to the nation. It was shocking that
a penal law should exist, which was daily broken, and without
the possibility of being enforced. And what was the conse-
quence? The consequence was obvious; it increased the
number of persons acting against law, who were, from their
bad habits, the more liable to fall into other offences. Take
away, therefore, the corner stone of these crimes, the tempt-
ation to the private sale of game ; for in proportion as the
laws were infringed with impunity, so did crimes invariably
increase. This law, so often broken, added considerably to
the melancholy catalogue of criminals. If he were asked,
would he repeal the game laws without any substitution? he
would answer, certainly, rather than they should exist, with-
out any amendment. But the substitute was provided by the
bill, by making game private property. A reciprocal desire
to oblige prevailed throughout this country between the tenant
and landlord; and if the present bill, properly amended,
was passed, gentlemen would not find themselves more re-
strained than they were at present in their amusement. He
again pressed the House, if the preservation of game was
its object, to give the land-holder an interest in its pro'
tection, and he called on the right honourable gentleman,



(M•. Windham) to say whether in the great sporting county
where he occasionally resided, it was usual for farmers to
warn gentlemen off their grounds ? The reverse, he believed,
was the fact. Thus was the game, he insisted, diminished in
consequence of the acts passed by our ancestors for its pro-
tection, as the farmers were indifferent as to the persons by
whom it was destroyed. The vote he should give that night,
certainly would be for the second reading of the bill, which
might be amended in the committee, and lie over to another
session, until it was maturely considered by the members of
the House.

The House divided on the motion, " That the bill be now read
a second time:


YEAS {Mr. Curwen ) iCaptain Berkeley )

Mr. Crewe 17. ---N"s IMr. Sumner

i 48.
The motion that the bill be read that day three months was then

put an d carried.


March 22.

ON the order of the clay for taking into consideration the
report of the committee on the bill for repealing certain

duties on legacies and shares of personal estates, and granting
other duties thereon, Mr. Pitt moved, That the said report be
now taken into consideration ; as an amendment to which, Mr.Alderman Newnharn moved, that it be taken into consideration
on this day four months.

Mr. Fox said, he should concur in the motion for post-
poning this bill. As to the time, perhaps he might differ
from the worthy magistrate who made the motion. With
respect to the bill itself, he had considered it I'rom the verybeginning to be a measure altogether impracticable in the
present state of the country. He did not think that anyc
lause could be introduced into the bill which would do awaytobjections to it; for the whole principle of the bill wasradically unjust. He was exceedingly sorry, however, that

he bad been prevented by indisposition from attending when
the bill was in the committee, and examining the different

uses as they were proposed, for he now professed himself
von. yr.

incapable of understanding them. Objections, however, to
the whole bill were too obvious to pass unnoticed. Every
species of commercial property must by this bill be laid hold
of and exposed by government. He was told formerly, that
this inconvenience might be avoided. His answer was, " that
is morally impossible;" for the very idea of making a man
pay a profit to government for his property ad valorem, must
necessarily imply that the value of that property shall be
ascertained. This must also necessarily make public the
value of all the bequests in the kingdom. It was not neces-
sary for him to dilate upon this subject. This ascertainment
of the value of every thing hereafter to be bequeathed, must
necessarily depend upon a balance between debts and credits.
Now, there might, and there must be, cases in which this
system would be attended with great injustice. It was said,
that as we cannot ascertain the value of a person's property,
it shall-be taken according to the profits afterwards received.
The House should consider the tendency of this system.
There must be thus annually laid before parliament the whole
state of our commercial prosperity and adversity. A man
might lose upon one branch and gain upon another; he
might have a partner in the one case, and he might be con-
cerned alone in the other, and he might bequeath a legacy
to the partner who had sustained this loss; then there must
be a deduction of six per cent. out of such bequest. This,
perhaps, was an injustice which was not intended, but it was
an evil that was inseparable from the very nature of the bill,
and therefore could not be avoided. Now, he would ask,
how it was possible for a man to give an account ad valorem
of the profits of a trade complicated with a thousand circum-
stances? And how this account was to be made to govern-
ment without the whole of the circumstances of that trade
being made known to the public ? In short, made known to
every man in the world who should choose to inquire into
them ? With regard to the practicability of estimating the
value of property under this bill, suppose, for instance, a
certain capital left between six persons, the interest of
which only was to be enjoyed by one at a time : suppose it
should go to the uncle in the first instance, the brother in the
second, the nephew in the third, until the whole capital be
made absolutely in the sixth person in succession. How could
the claim be made on the part of government ? If it be laid
upon the capital in the first instance, it must reduce the value
of the interest of the legacy to the first annuitant, while a
calculation must be made of the lives of the other parties,
which could never be precisely determined, on account at
various accidents. In case of any contingently happening t°


the second or third annuitant after the death of the first, if
restitution be made to the third or fourth, what restitution
eould be made to the first annuitant ? Or how was any res-
titution provided for ?

There were many other objections to the provisions of the
bill. It was well observed by the worthy magistrate, that a
°Teat hardship would be cast on children who had the mis-
fortune to be of illegitimate birth. How was this to be ma-
nand ? Was there to be a power to institute an inquiry into
the legitimacyof the children ? Was there to be an inquiry
into the legality 'of the marriage of the father, or the grand-
father. Had government that power? If they had, what a
scene of confusion and intolerable vexation would follow from
the exercise of that power ! If this bill was consented to,
there would be other taxes of the same kind brought forward,
and no good argument could then be found for opposing them.
Admitting the principle of this to be just, he could not see any
good reason why it should not be extended; for what was this
but a mere shift to levy a duty on all species of bequeathed
property ? If this should succeed, he would dare to say the
mode would be deemed an eligible one. He then took no-
tice of property in the funds. There was, indeed, a solitary
act of parliament which recognized the practice of recurring
to it as an object of taxation. 13ut he did not think that just;
for when we funded a debt we contracted with the holder of
it, that he should enjoy it without diminution by a tax
while he lived, and that he should bequeath it to his posterity.
He thought, therefore, there was a considerable objection to
that measure; but there was a great deal more to this. He
thought, also, that there was a great deal of force in the ob-
jection of the worthy magistrate about not bringing forward
the other bill with regard to the tax on landed property.
He saw no good reason why they should be separated, but
many why they should be kept together, and chiefly that the
House might see the real extent of the plan upon this sub-
ject; and by applying it to landed property, the impracti,-
eability of doing any thing like justice in the execution of it
would be more striking.

He lamented, indeed, that the House was so indifferently
attended; but that was a thing which he had reason to la*
meat upon subjects of greater moment, even than the present.
-Re did not see any necessity of postponing this bill for four

enths; four weeks would be sufficient for the House to make
'IP Its mind on the subject. But both the bills should be de-
bated touether, and the House ought not to pass this without
eic"wingb whether they could ever pass the other. He had
'eallY objections to the particular provisions of the bill, but

L 2

they were all as nothing when compared to his objections to
the general principle. The idea of an ad valorem estimate or
taxation on a man's property was repugnant to sense and kis_
Lice in any country, but particularly in such a state as ours,
where it was impossible to calculate the inconveniences to
which it would give birth. It might, for aught any man
could say to the contrary, endanger even the very existence
of our commerce. Indeed, he wondered that the House,
which had in it so many men well acquainted with the nature
of commerce, felt so easy under a measure so alarming as this.
Feeling so many objections as he did to this tax, and wish-
ing the people to understand its nature better than he believed
they did at present-, he should at all events vote for some de-
lay i11 this business. He, indeed, was confident that a sense
of his duty to the public would command him to vote for the
rejection of the bill altogether. He -should now, however,
only desire that this bill should be delayed until the oth
bill for taxing landed property should 'be laid before t

• t

Mr. Alderman Newnham's motion was rejected, on a division,
by 46 against 16.

April 5.

On the motion, that the bill do pass,

Mr. Fox said, that he did not mean to trouble the House
with any observations, either'upon the principle of the bill or
any of its clauses, though he was clearly of opinion, that if the
principle was followed up to its full extent, it would put an
end to that commercial prosperity, which, impaired as it at
present was, still enabled us to support those burdens to which
we were subjected. It had been said, that this bill was of a simi-
lar nature with another intended to be brought into parliament,
proposing a corresponding tax upon land. What he meant
now to propose, was to postpone the third reading of this bill,
till the propriety and practicability of the other should have
been discussed. The principle of both was allowed to be the
same ; but the provisions of each, from their nature, must be
different. Allowing the principle to be just, if the provisions
of the other bill were found, upon discussion, to be impracti-
cable, he asked, in what situation the House would be placcu •
They would have sanctioned a tax upon personal property,
which, it was allowed, ought equally to attach upon real pro-
perty; but, perhaps, the tax upon real property might be

foriiii tol



found to be impracticable, and then the present tax would
incur the charge, at least, of being partial. Upon this ground
he moved, " That the debate be adjourned till this day

Douse divided on Mr. Fox's motion :

f Mr. G

yers 1 16.—NOES { S TOelileleirtOs; GenA'Ir. Hobart . v4.YEAS Mr. Ald. Newnham j
So it passed in the negative.


April 8.

THIS day General Smith moved, " That it be referred to a com-
l. mittee, to examine into the expenditure of public money in

the construction and furnishing of barracks since the year 1 790 ;
as also to investigate by what authority such an expence, amount-
ing to upwards of one million sterling, has been incurred." The
general affirmed, that 1,400,0001. had been employed upon them.
The patronage accruing from them to ministry was the appoint-
ment of no less than fifty-six officers for their management, with
considerable salaries. The number of barracks already constructed
were sufficient for the reception of 34,000 men, which were more
than a peace-establishment by 14,00o. Did not such a measure,
he asked, tend to impress the strongest conviction upon the public,
that ministry were determined, in the words of one of their princi-
pal members, to exert " a vigour beyond the law ?"— Mr. Wind-
ham, the secretary at war, admitted the expellees of the barracks
to be great, but the importance of the object in view required them:
their intent was to exonerate publicans, and people of that descrip-
tion, from the heavy charges to which they had so long and so un-
reasonably been liable, and of which they had so often and so
J ustly complained. The necessity of procuring public-houses for
the reception of soldiers on their march occasioned sundry incon-
veniences, which these barracks were calculated to remove : they
Would afford shelter, and a temporary stay, when necessary, with-
out producing trouble and expence to innkeepers and others, who
kept places of accommodation on the roads. In the event of a
Peace, they need not contain any larger numbers than would be
requisite for the usual establishment ; but while the war lasted, the

thspensible necessity of holding men in readiness, in such critical
kept as the present, and the lesser expence at which they were
'eP t together, with much more comfort and convenience to them.

L 3

selves, and utility to the public, than by the former method of quar.
tering them, were, he presumed, sufficient arguments in favour of
barracks ; nor would he omit the propriety of removing soldiers
from the danger of being contaminated by the seditious dispo,
sition of the lower classes.— In reply to Mr. Windham,

Mr.. Fox rose and said I am happy, Sir, that the right
honourable gentleman opposite to me, as being particularly
connected with the department to which belongs the cogni-
zance of that which is the object of this evening's discussion,
has thought proper to come forward in so full and explicit a
manner. I am, at the same time, proud to confess, that I differ
with him upon almost all the points which he has advanced,
and have no hesitation to declare in what that difference con-
sists, though I do not intend to go at length into the consider-
ation of all of them. He has, however, alluded to one general
principle that particularly claims my attention; and in doing
so, has noticed an expression of mine on a former occasion,
made use of when I advanced a general principle, which I
always have entertained, and ever shall entertain, a principle
which he himself formerly espoused, and which I believe to be
espoused by almost all those with whom I have the honour of
acting. I mean the general principle of resistance; the right
inherent in freeman to resist arbitrary power, whatever shape
it may assume, whether it be exerted by an individual, by a
senate, or by a king and parliament united. This I proclaim
as my opinion. In the support of this principle I will live and
die. The discussion of this principle is not necessarily in-
volved in the present question ; I shall therefore content myself,
for the present, with thus again fairly stating it.

The right honourable gentleman has also brought forward
another general question, more closely connected with the sub-
sect of debate, but at the same time not altogether necessary
in its decision: I speak of the connection which ought to sub-
sist between the military and the rest of their countrymen.
Upon this point I am, indeed, proud to differ with the right
honourable gentleman. " Because," says he, " there are bad
men and bad principles abroad in the country, the military
must be secluded from the society of their fellow-subjects." He
then most aptly introduces the language of the Mock Doctor,
and says, " If I cannot make others dumb, I can make them
deaf." I will place them entirely out of reach, where no such
doctrine shall assail their ears. What, Sir, is the full meaning
and extent of this doctrine ? Can tile right honourable gen-
tleman make his troops partially deaf? Can he prevent them
from listening to the voice of sedition, without, at the same,
time, shutting them up from the knowledge,of those genept!

iples i of i the liberty, whose animating influence, ought,

say, to inspire t le soldiers of a free country ? They ought
to be taught disobedience. God forbid that11):1:,1csays he,'

they should ! but is it not a plain proposition, that indiscrimi-
nate obedience is not the duty of an Englishman, whether he
be a soldier or any other citizen ? `L' here commands are il-
legal, it is his duty to resist them. The right honourable
gentleman, surely, does not intend to say, that his troops
should be altogether deaf. If he does, it will be in vain fbr
him to look fin. an army in this country, possessed of this phy-
sical advantage. He must call in foreign mercenaries. Ig-
norant of any language but their own, they would be suffici-
ently deaf for all the purposes of despotism. It would be
enough that they should understand their officers, and might
easily be brought, as in former times has been attempted, to .
act against this House and the general liberties of the

c"ExtrLsively of what I have already urged, I differ in this
question, upon the point of prudence and policy. If one sys-
tem be more corrupt and inimical to freedom than another,
it is the system of barracks. What was actually the case in
France ? Was not the mode in which their army was can-
toned out in barracks a principal operative cause in pro-
ducing the Revolution ? It is beyond all belief astonishing,
that while we'declaim so violently upon the state to which
France has been reduced, we are at the same time pursuing
those very same measures which are likely to bring us every
day nearer to a similar situation. The right honourable gen-
tleman speaks of those who preach up doctrines hostile to the
constitution : but permit me to say, that it is not Mr. Paine,
nor much more ingenious men than he, who by any thing they
say can injure the constitution. Those are its real enemies
who are constantly making practical comments upon such
authors. Those who, with me, admire our constitution, arc
of opinion, that, if strictly adhered to, it has sufficient energy
to defend and preserve itself. Paine says that our constitution
is a mere farce, a mockery; that there is no real check upon
the exercise of the powers of government. Do not ministers
practically say the same? Do they not, day after day, year
after year, pass acts in direct violation of the acknowledged
principleol;iitloiecoinpl Thesestf constitution? Their manifest breach of the
appropriation act, as lately proved, must be fresh in our recol-

iese deviations they pretend to justify on the plea
necessity. this plea is at any time to be received with

Jealousy, it must be in the present instance ; and it is indeed
curious to observe the language by which this measure is at-
tempted to be defended. In the mode of ()Tooting the

L 4

money, says the right honourable gentleman, there may pos-
sibly have occurred some deviation from strict form, but no-
thing has been done substantially prejudicial. What! is it
from him that such language was to be expected ? From
him who has a sanctified horror at every thing which bears
the semblance of reform? From him who on the subject ora
reform in the representation, trembled at the bare idea of tak-
ing one step towards innovation ? Is he the person who
comes forward and tells us that forms may be dispensed with ?

But let us sec what is actually the form, as it is called, which
we are desired thus to dispense with. Are we not rather de-
sired to dispense with a fundamental principle of the consti-
tution ? Are we not desired to dispense with the exercise of
that control which we ought to have over the public purse,
and called upon to sanction those expellees which never ob-
tained our consent? The constitution says, that money can-
not be raised without the consent of parliament. Has that
not been done in the present instance ? I ask, is it, or is it
not, a principle to be advanced and supported in this House,
that where considerable expence is to be incurred, leave for
that purpose is to be obtained from parliament, and not from
the executive government ? When the question of barracks
was under the contemplation of government, should it not
have been solemnly brought before parliament, have under-
gone that grave consideration which the importance of the
subject demanded, and not merely be laid before them for their
approbation, atter all the expencc has been incurred? In the.
common affairs of life, if a servant comes to his master want-
ing I cool. for any particular purpose, the master would na-
turall y deliberate on the propriety and necessity of the pro-
posed measure; but, were his steward to inform him he had
actually expended a few thousand pounds in such and such
a way, the master, I p •esutne, would be apt to startle at this
being done without his previous consent; and were the steward
to justify his conduct, by saying he considered that as a
mere matter of form, the master would no doubt give his ser-
vant to understand, that such forms were not to be dispensed
with. The steward might then be induced to justify himself
on the score of necessity. Cases might certainly occur where
such a plea might be admissible, but they must be cases.
neither of any great magnitude, nor where the same purpose
could be equally well effected in a different and more satis-
factory manner.

We are told that the magnitude of the expence is nothing,
for that ail state expenses must be great; but I have always
understood, that in proportion to the magnitude of the ex-
pence, is the propriety of instituting an inquiry. The eN-

pence in the present instance is unquestionably great ; and
how is it attempted to be justified? We are told that the
different circumstances occasioning it were unforeseen. This,

if any, is the only excuse which can be made: but
mark the inconsistency, observe the application of this ex-
ciiuladsreked't o the manner in which the subject has been treated this
evening. We are told that barracks were erected, and ex-
pence incurred upon the spur of the occasion. This is the
excuse; but not satisfied with this, the right honourable
gentleman, in the same breath, enters into an elaborate jus-
tification of the propriety of keeping them up as a permanent.
source of expellee. He informs us, that necessity produced
all this of a sudden, and at the same time assures us that it
has been long a matter of experience, that the military could
not be properly accommodated in any other manner. The:
plan has avowedly been long in agitation, but ministers hate
never thought proper, as they ought to have done, to bring
it regularly before this House. They have, on the contrary,
incurred all the expence, and gone on in the prosecution of
an extensive system, not only without the authority, but in
absolute defiance of parliament. -When I talk of erecting
barracks on a system, the right honourable gentleman may
perhaps not chuse to understand me. I remember a dispute
I had with him upon the laws of nations. Those he treated
with very little ceremony, and seemed to be of a similar
opinion with Citizen Genet, who thought that without any
great loss, they might all be thrown into the sea. If this
system is to be defended, and defended in such a manner as
I have heard this night, we may dispose in the same manner
of all the laws of England. 'We may, when we please, throw
into the sea, the commentaries of Mr. Justice Blackstone,
and the brilliant speeches on this subject delivered by the
late Lord Chatham. We are triumphantly told, that our
ancestors gave their occasional consent to such a measure.
What ! can the right honourable gentleman say, there is any
resemblance between small cantonments partially taking place,
and the whole army of this country being constantly secluded
from the rest of the inhabitants, and shut up in permanent
barracks ? I certainly do not ask much upon the present
occasion, when I state it as my opinion, that before we in-
troduce innovations contrary to the avowed doctrines of
..1r. Justice Blackstone and other constitutional writers, par-liament ought to be consulted, ought to have time for deli-beration, and ought to have given its solemn decision.

Great reliance has been placed upon the argument, thatthis
subject was actually discussed in the debate upon a

motion brought forward by my honourable friend who spoke


last, (Mr. M. A. Taylor.) That motion was for the pur-
pose of passing a resolution, that such a system as was then
entered into of erecting barracks, was contrary to the prac-
tice and example of our ancestors. What was then done by
the House? They did not put a direct negative upon it,
but got rid of it by the order of the day. Can this be called
a solemn decision of parliament, upon the principle of this
measure? The most that can be said of it is, that they did
not disapprove of what was immediately doing; but that
decision gave no countenance whatever to the unauthorized
expenditure of public money. I very well recollect, that that
debate, in which I took 'a share, by no means turned upon
the principle, but upon the words .of the motion. The right
honourable gentleman has certainly logic enough to perceive
the difference, and to allow that the denial of any particular
proposition is not an universal affirmation of its opposite.
But how stands this question with the constitution? its op-
posers say it is but a name, but a mockery of a constitu-
tion. How many melancholy facts daily occur to justify the
assertion ! Large sums are,expended, without consulting par-
liament, without bringing forward any estimate whatever;
a thing surely not difficult to be obtained. An argument
has, with propriety, been adduced from the civil list. The
king has it not in his power to make any arrangement in his
parks or pleasure grounds, where a salary is to be given to
the amount of 5 ooi. without an order passing the sign ma-
nual, and being approved by the lords of the treasury. I
applaud this with reluctance, as I do any thing relative to
the management of the civil list. But I have not heard of
any estimate on the subject of barracks being approved by
the lords of the treasury; if there has, why has it not been
presented to this House?

The right honourable gentleman seems to hold all argu-
ments of fact extremely cheap. He says, he understands
our manner on this side of the House. I think he was long
enough with us to understand our sentiments too; and he

s)ouoht to know, that when we talk of the increase of pa-
tronage, it is not as a mere matter of declamation, but as an
object of serious apprehension and danger to the liberties of
the country. He defends himself by saying, What ! would
you deprive the poor officer of this his last resource? I know
not how many worthy objects may be selected to fill such
situations under government, but I do venture to say, on
good authority, that many are appointed for no real purpose

See Vol. p.49.


but that of forwarding ministerial elections. There is an
ostensible and a secret purpose combined. It is, in the lan-
,uaae of the right honourable gentleman himself, like a the-
nltrical dress, where the gold and embroidery serve to conceale dirt and dowlas beneath. The right honourable gentle-
man tells us, that no barrack-masters were appointed without
an intention of erecting barracks. I hardly, indeed, could
suppose that they would be so absurd as to appoint barrack-
masters without any intention at all. He allows, however,
that there were three instances where no duty whatever was
performed. He has appealed to the honour of the gentleman

e that department, the barrack-master-general,at tb head of
for the propriety and economy of the manner in which the
business is conducted. Does he not recollect, that to pledge
a man's honour is not the most honourable mode of account-•
Mg? and that to such a man it may be answered, I have no
intention of disputing the point of honour, but I want to
know what you have done with the money ? For these different
reasons I exceedingly approve of appointing a committee of
inquiry; and if it still be resisted, I do say, however liable
I may make myself to invidious observations, that we have
but a mockery of a constitution. If ministers disregard all
fundamental principles, if this House calmly tolerate their
excesses, if the power of raising and applying money be
exercised, not by the House of Commons but the king's
ministers, what is our constitution, but a farce and a mockery?

We hear, Sir, many orations upon the necessity of obe-
dience and subjection to the laws; but if those at the head
of the government paid equal deference to the laws, with the
other orders of the community, we should have little reason
to complain. Example would avail ten times more than
precept. It is strange that those who have the law constantly
in their mouths, should, with equal perseverance, be acting
in direct opposition to it. My honourable friend who spoke
before me, illustrated this subject by an allusion to what passed
on the fortification act. The illustration was certainly in
point. if this House had not entered into the examination
of that system previous to its being carried into execution,
what would have been the consequence? Would it have met
with the fate which it experienced ? By no means. Had
the expence been first incurred, and the plan brought for-.
ward afterwards, this House, I believe, would have acceded
to the measure. I am not, indeed, so sanguine as to imagine,
that the barrack-system would, in these degenerate days,

i a i ,

been resisted, even if it had been brought forward in a way
equally regular. But at all events, ministers would have
acted more openly mid avowedly in the business : and if it


had been carried, it would have been, as it . ought, an act of
the legislature, and not merely of the executive government.

The only tools which ministers seem not to think dangerous
are edge-tools; they play with them with all the com1;lacency
imaginable. I repeat, that the maintaining of a standing
army in this country, and dissolving the connection between
the soldier and the citizen, is a subject of the highest delicacy,
of the greatest intricacy, and is not thus wantonly to he
sported with by ministers, without condescending to consult
the wisdom of parliament. We seem to have thrown away
all that constitutional jealousy which ought ever to be awake
in a free country. We have sacrificed it to a false alarm.
The exorbitant power and influence of the crown in this
country must ever be pregnant with danger to its liberties:
In better times than these, the opinion was that it ought to
be curtailed; and, in the present day, is there no ground.
for a continued and watchful jealousy ? On the contrary, the
more power we give, there is the greater cause for jealousy.
Such was always the opinion of our ancestors; such ought to
be our opinion ; and before ministers dared, in the present
instance, upon a plea of necessity, to trample upon the rights
of Englishmen, it would have been but decent, even for
form's sake, to have given this House an opportunity of
exercising its deliberative functions, before a measure was
carried into execution so hostile to the general freedom and
happiness of the nation.

The motion was also supported by Mr. M. A. Taylor, Mr. Wil
ham Smith, Mr. Courtenay, Mr. Grey, and Mr. Sheridan. The
House divided :

Tellers. Tellers.

Mr. Sheridan (Mr


Mr. M. A. Taylor 1 24' — NOES Mr. Sargent} 9"

So it passed in the negative.


April I t.

MHIS day Mr. Francis moved, " That leave be given to bring
in a bill for the better regulation and improvement of the

state and condition of negroes and other slaves, in the islands,
colonies, or plantations in the West Indies or Amdrica, under the

dominion of his majesty, his heirs, or successors." After the
motion had been opposed by Mr. Serjeant Adair,

roseox.r and said : — The case, Sir, which we haveM F
now before us is unquestionably one of very.considerable mag-
nitude. I am still, however, ready, when called upon, to
(rive a decided opinion upon the subject, and to show the rea-
sons upon which that opinion is formed. Before I enter upon
the discussion of the question, it is impossible for me not to
premise, that whatever may be the result of the motion, the
House and the public cannot fail to be gratified with the
abilit y and philanthrophy of the honourable mover, and must
ever do honour to his humane intentions. It is undoubtedly
a question attended with many and serious difficulties, and
nothing of an extraneous nature ought, if possible, to be in-
troduced or enlarged upon ; the attention ought not to be
diverted from the main object immediately submitted to our
decision. I cannot, however, refrain from taking notice of
what has been said relative to this country or America, being
the proper asylum where the friends of freedom may expect to
find themselves secure from the encroachments of arbitrary
power, and the miseries of unjust oppression. My honoura-
ble and learned friend opposite to me has talked of the bless-
ings of this free constitution, and the advantages resulting
from it to those who live under ler it. Such things may have
existed ; but, if I am to speak of our constitution as it now
exists, if the retrograde movement which has commenced is
suffered to continue, if the present system of government is
persevered in, there is an end of all those blessings ; we may
go any where else we please in search of true liberty. Let us
look back, Sir, to the year 178 4

; let us trace the progress of
ministers at different periods, but let us particularly consider
what has passed in the present session, and we must perceive
such enormous alterations in this constitution, that those who
were formerly acquainted with it, could not possibly know it
again. America is said to have a new and untried constitu-
tion: the observation may be just; but I cannot help think-
ing, that from the late wonderful innovations, the constitution
of this country may practically be said to be of a later date,
than even that of America or any other country whatever.
Upon this, however, I shall not enlarge farther at present.

As to the object of my honourable friend's motion, it seems
to be admitted, that the principles upon which it is supported,
are of the most desirable nature. So much, indeed, do I con-
ceive this to be the case, that I think it unnecessary to argue
upon the wisdom of them, considered in an abstract point of
view. He has likewise admitted that the improvements he
looks up to, must be of a gradual nature; and he has cer-


tainly hit upon the most solid and natural basis on which to
build his future superstructure, when he 'proposes to emu-
mencc his operations by establishing a system of property'
among the negroes. Independently, then, of the principles
abstractedly considered, the chief questions seem to be; first,
how far in a prudential point of view, it is wise in my ho-
nourable friend to bring forward the proposition he has now
Clone, as connected with, and introductory to the final aboli-
tion of the slave trade ; and secondly, what arc the means by
which he intends his principles to be carried into practice ?

My honourable and learned friend who spoke last, seemed
to consider this as a debate upon the propriety of adopting the
proposition now made to the House, or of deciding for a total
abolition. how happy should I feel were that actually the
case, and with how little hesitation should I prefer a total
abolition ! I do not consider that my giving my vote one way or
the other this evening, is to be considered as an instance of my
receding one step from the ground which I have always taken
on the question of the entire abolition of the slave trade. I have
pledged myself to the House upon that point. Those honourable
gentlemen who have been equally, if not more strenuous than
myself in this cause, I do not presume have any intentions of
abandoning it ; but sure I am, that no session shall pass,
while I have the honour of sitting in this House, without my
exertions being employed to accelerate this desirable event.
I, for one, 'am determined not to contribute to the increase or
perpetuation of that stigma which must ever be attached to
this House and to this country, while that abominable traffic
is permitted to exist. If, Sir, we were at the beginning of a
session, and there was any solid hope that an abolition was
likely to take place, I would yield to the argument of my
honourable and learned friend : but the bill introduced for
that purpose has been lost. I know not exactly, if the forms
of the House admit of the introduction of another, for the ac-
complishment of the same object; or if they did, I sec no
certainty of better success. When I look forward, I see
little rational ground of hope, particularly when I reflect upon
the characters and situation of some men who were in the
minority on the late question. To say, that men of the
greatest power and influence in the country, and of unques-
tionably- great abilities, -could throw little weight into the
scale in the consideration of any question would indeed be ri-
diculous. What was actually the case? The question was
introduced during the administration and with the approba-
tion of a man, who surely had neither less influence nor less
personal talents than any of his predecessors, and yet the plan
has failed. If this be so, when, where, how' are we to pro'


cure success ? The plan too, Sir, was defeated, after a
parliament ; and having disgraced them-this


aneful manner, what right have Ito hope that
another occasion will soon be presented for the attainment of
this desired object? What, then, does my honourable friend
• •

forget ? That the House will not totally et all those

solemn c i ndecision

honourable, humane sentiments they have formerly uttered
upon the occasion ; but that if they are not inclined to fulfil
all they have promised, they will at least shew a desire of
doing something.

I now come to consider the nature of the means by which
my honourable friend proposes to carry his proposition into
execution ; and upon this undoubtedly the whole difficulty
rests. The right of taxation and of general legislation have, I
conceive, been improperly confounded together. They are,
to all intents and purposes, practically different. This dif-
ference was constantly acknowledged in the great question of
American independence. The Americans never found fault
with our legislative acts, until they involved the question of
taxation. Lord Chatham, in a speech which he made in this
House, and I do honour to his memory for the sentiment,
said, that he rejoiced in the resistance made by America, to
every attempt to tax her, for the purposes of revenue : and
in the very same speech he added, (I do not say I go all that
length with him,) that he nevertheless would not permit any
matter of commerce to take place, not even a hob-nail to be
made in America, without the sanction of the British legisla-
ture. I mention this chiefly to shew the distinction that has
been made betwen legislative acts of the one kind and the
other; but in the American dispute there was a difference
taken, not only between acts of general legislation and of
taxation, but between acts of taxation for the purposes of in-
ternal regulation, and acts of taxation for the increase of the
revenue. Acts of taxation for the regulation of the Post-
office were quietly acquiesced in. It was only when we
offered them the alternative to accept or refuse indiscrimi-
nately acts of every description passed by the British senate,
that they discovered signs of serious resistance.

With respect to the West Indies, we have already re-
nounced every right of taxation. My learned friend says, we
Have no right of this kind. So do I. But he says, that he is
not ready to admit in what respects legislative acts of any
other nature may be passed, and he has brought forward the
case of Ireland as in point upon this question. The act passedfou .teen years ago put that matter right as to Ireland. In
1,10 instance could the difference between acts of legislation and
taxation be more clearly ascertained. I from this source


drew my arguments during the American war. In every case
either of external or internal regulation, the Irish were per.
fectly submissive; but if the bare intention of raising a tax for
the purpose of revenue had gone abroad, it would inevitably
have produced resistance. I must confess, at the same tii*
that to legislate for colonies, is at no time desirable ; it ;ought
only to be done when necessity calls for it. How far is this
the case at present ? I do not wish, it must be observed,
upon this occasion, to repeat the mere letter of the law. My,
learned friend, and every other professional man, would cer-
tainly tell me, that a statute that relates to any transaction as
passing in Jamaica, would be as binding as if it took place in
Middlesex ; but I am not fond of unnecessarily exercising this
legislative authority over persons not actually represented, and
where the local situation is almost totally unknown. But we
are at present reduced to an unfortunate dilemma, and I am
obliged to put this question to myself, " Whether it be better
to make use of a partial remedy which may in some respects
be exceptionable, or permit the evil in its full extent to con-
tinue ?" I have been accused of throwing out the threat of
independence upon the subject of the \Vest India islands. I
do, in answer to that, most decidedly affirm, that if it were
to become a question, whether these islands should be con-
nected with this country, and in consequence of that connec-
tion, all the stigma attending the abominable system of slavery
should be ignominiously continued, or that their complete inde-
pendence should take place, I should not have one doubt on
the subject. I am by no means blind to the danger of such a
separation. I desire it not: but if the colonies were inclined
to refuse their assent to so wise and humane a proposition as
has now been made for the amelioration of the state of the
slaves, I should not feel myself inclined to employ either
armies or navies to reduce them to subjection, but would, in
the language of a

• gentleman, who, though not present, I
cannot name, as being a member of this House, desire them
to " go and be happy in their ON111 way," if happiness could
be found by acting contrary to every principle of justice, policy,
and humanity.. If, however, it be acknowledged that the
British parliament has the power of general legislation, and
that it may in some cases of necessity be exercised, I ask,
what case of greater necessity can be put, than a case which
involves the character and honour of the British name ?
have occasionally said, that a war to preserve our honour is
the only justifiable war. Even this principle, were it neces-
sary, I should not find myself at a loss to support; but if in
any case a legislative act is demanded for the purposes of in-
terest, policy, aggrandisement, or the increase of commerce,


are any such objects to be compared with that of removing
the national dishonour, which must ever be connected with
the support and continuance of this trade in any of its
branches ? I shall for these reasons unquestionably vote
for the introduction of this bill.

Were any person to give me a reasonable ground to hope
that an abolition of the slave trade would speedily take place ;
were it held out to me that any other step would be taken
towards an amelioration of the state of the slaves in the
`'nest Indies ; were I to be told that a recommendation should
come from the throne to effect the desirable purpose, I might
perhaps be silent upon this occasion ; but let me no longer
hear of expectations from the acts of colonial assemblies !
When I look at the infernal code of laws under which the
poor negroes languish, when I see they are not considered -•
as men, and reflect one moment upon the penalties to which
they arc subjected, and the oppression under which they
labour, I expect nothing from assemblies who give counte-
nance to such proceedings.

It was urged as an argument by my learned friend, that the
question of abolition to which he so heartily gives his assent,
by no means involves the dispute on the right of legisla-
tion, but that every provision in that bill comes within the
acknowledged authority of this House; but permit me to say,
that the opposers of that bill, and some of them high in au-
thority, constantly held out as an argument of some weight,
the opinion which those immediately upon the spot in the
West Indies, or immediately connected with them, might
entertain upon the subject. This, therefore, is no fair ground
for opposing my honourable friend's motion. As to the
question of representation, the West Indies are not, properly
speaking, represented in this House, nor is it practicable, •
perhaps, that they should be so ; neither is Ireland ; neither
Was America. As to their representation in the West
Indies, it might be called a pure representation -of property,
in consequence of the number of blacks. But we ou ght, inthis case, to consider the difference between a real and a
virtual representation, and the proportion which, in this
respect, the West Indies bear to any other instance known in
this country. Were we even to bring to our recollection the
time when so many Irish landholders residedin this country,
and held seats in this House, and when so much land in Ire-
'and was tinder mortgage in this country, yet would that bear

nu proportion to the power and influence of West India pro-
rn ile,Ototr.svIt.it the present moment. A country may, undoubt-

ealy, be virtually represented. I do not say it is in every

162 MOTION RESPECTING THE REGULATIO7'1", 8;..c. [April 1/,

instance the-best mode ; but standing where I now do, I must
acknowledge the fact; and, surely, if any country was ever
virtually represented, it is the West Indies in this House.
Does not every gentleman who hears me, feel, from the fate
of the bill for the abolition of the slave trade, that they are
both virtually and powerfully represented in this House?
In short, Sir, no case can appear to me to call in a more
pressing manner upon the legislative authority of the British
parliament than the present, unless we consider as nugatory
all we have ever heard, either from those who promote or
oppose the abolition of the slave trade. Good God Mr.
Speaker, have we come to a solemn decision upon the sub-
ject, and yet pass year after year, without taking a single
measure to carry our resolutions into execution ? We are
guilty of hypocrisy of the basest sort. I am constrained to
vote for any measure of the kind proposed, in order to prove
that there is yet some sincerity left in the House of Commons.

.I hoped, Sir, that my learned friend in opposing this mo-
tion, and with the anxiety he expresses for a total abolition,
would have thrown out some prospect of such an event being
likely to take place ; but I am sorry to say, I see none such
at the present period. After what took place in the year 1792,
and the subsequent flagrant breach of promise that has been
exhibited, all assurances coming from this House must na-
turally be looked upon as vain and frivolous. At the same
time, I confess I even now think it would be something, were
the House, during the present session, to come to some solemn
resolution on the subject. I have already said, that a vote on
this question must necessarily be given with some degree of
difficulty ; but I give mine clearly and conscientiously, because
such a measure, with all the obstacles attending it, is less ob-jectionable, and less contrary to humanity and justice, thandoing nothing to alleviate those miseries which are at th4
moment attached to slavery in the West Indict. Were an
entire abolition of the trade to be proposed in 1796, or were
it now to be proposed at any fixed period, I should probably
object to any regulations of an inferior nature ; but the ques-
tion of abolition is lost, and I have no option left. It is
deed, conic to this, that the British parliament have refused
to abolish the abominable traffic in human flesh, and the
slaves in the islands are to be left to the humanity of the
West India proprietors ! If it were apparent from authentic
documents that the colonial assemblies would pass those acts
which humanity demands, or that an abolition of the trade
would be effected by parliament, there would be no occasion
for ally such measure as- the present ; but if no such thing is


likely to take place, I find myself under the necessity of
voting for the motion of my honourable friend. .

The motion was negatived without a division..



Mcv 5.

nN the motion that the bill for granting a duty on succession
•-• to real estates in certain cases be immediately recommitted,
Mr. Rashleigh moved, that it be recommitted on that day three

Mr. Fox said, that this measure laboured under two ob-
jections; first, the novelty of the principle, as a tax upon
capital.; and secondly, the iniquity of the application. It was
a system which, if acted upon to the extent to which the prin-
ciple might be carried, (and he admitted the present instance-
to be only a slight degree,) would enable the state to seize
upon the whole property of the country. Of all shapes in
which despotism had ever appeared in history, the most
frightful was that under which the sovereign became heir to
the whole property of individuals ; and were the principle of
this measure once admitted, it was impossible to calculate how
far it might be extended. From brothers and relations in a
collateral line, it might in time reach to children, and from
four or five per cent. the tax might be increased to ten or
twelve. This was his principal objection to the bill. He
had another, however, grounded upon the particular hard-
ship which would in certain cases attend its operations.
In cases of marriage settlements, children were most fre-
quently the objects fbr whom provision was made, but some-
times collateral relations had an interest in the settlement. A
case of that kind had come under his own experience. In
case of the death of his nephew, Lord Holland, he was to
succeed to the estates of his elder brother, by

an article in
the marriage settlement. As it happened, he had not given
any consideration for the contingent benefit of this settlement.
Re might, however, have paid his brother some consider-
ation for it, and in this case, were the tax to attach upon
this property, the contract would be violated, because he would
Hot receive it in the saine circumstances in Which it ftS When.

II 2



he concluded the bargain. On these grounds he seconded the

The question being put, that the word " immediately" stand
part of the question, the House divided :

Tellers. Tellers.

Solicitor-General } e
Mr. Douglas 05. — N OES

{Mr. Rashleigh
Mr. Jekyll - 2+.

May 9.

On the motion, that the report of the committee on tbe said
bill be now taken into con,sideration, Mr. Crewe moved, that it
be taken into consideration on that day three months.

Mr. Fox said, that all his objections to this measure re-
mained in full force. It was; in fact, what he had stated it,
a tax upon capital, for it was levied in proportion to that
capital. If it was really a tax upon income, why not fairly
lay it upon income? It was said, that it was to be paid by
instalments during the first four years, but if the same was
paid by the man who enjoyed four, and the man who enjoyed
forty years, it could not with propriety be said to be a tax
upon income. In such a country as this, all taxes on capital
were particularly dangerous. He did not mean to undervalue
the constitution of this country, but he believed that much
of our prosperity might be owing to the complete disposal of
property which was enjoyed. If this tax had been laid on
the transmission of property by sale, he believed no man
would have denied its bad effect ; but when freedom of •dis-
posal even at death was iMpaired by annexing burdens to the
transmission, the bad consequences would, in a certain degree,
be felt. In all cases where the payment of the tax depended
upon the terms of succession, production of deeds was in-
evitable. Whether a brother succeeded as heir to bis brother
or to his father, in a variety of possible cases, he would be
liable or not liable to the tax; of course, a minute examin-
ation of settleimints would be necessary, if the tax was meant
to be effectively levied. With regard to the levying of

oo,00d. by the tax, it was not the extent of this sum, but
the precedent that was thought to be dangerous: it might be
extended to direct succession; and he saw no difference in the
principle. It was said, there was less right to expect in the
cases subject to the tax ; but there were many instances where
the expectation was greater in collateral than in direct descent,

ail 04c ease of entails, wlore the heir bad a greater ccr-

minty of the possession than a son, whose father might dis-
pose of what part of his estate he pleased. Upon the whole,
there was no principle of taxation more destructive than that
which tended to destroy forcibly the power of exchange and
t ransmission, and thereby lessen the desire of acquisition.
And, as this bill encroached upon this principle, be hoped,
notwithstanding the result of former divisions, that the House
would consider seriously the consequences that might follow
from so new and unprecedented a system of taxation.

The House divided on the motion, That the word " now" stand
part of the question :

Tellers. Tellers.
, Mr. CreweYEAS 0 I . — INOES
.Mr. Ai MontaguLord Cavendish 2


May 6.

THIS day Mr. Grey brought forward several heavy charges
against ministers. They had, he. said, violated the act of

appropriation, the main pillar of the pecuniary privileges of par-
liament, by diverting the grants of money to other purposes than
those for which they were voted, and they had endeavoured to
screen themselves by spurious accounts. He then detailed the
particulars in proof of his accusation, adding, that if the necessities
or the times had compelled them to have recourse to such methods
for procuring money, they ought, without disguising the fact, to
have applied to parliament for indemnity. The House of Com-
mons had, he said, been notoriously faulty in not setting limits to
the extraordinaries durinp: the American war ; and the committee
appointed to examine and digest the public accounts had par-ticularly pointed out the ruinous consequences of such negligence.
Mr. Pitt bad censured it himself with peculiar severity, but bad
nevertheless been more guilty than any of his predecessors. Sodetermined was the House to put a stop to these infractions of its
rights, that it passed, in 1784, a resolution, that should parliament
be dissolved before the act of appropriation had passed, to misapply
the money granted should be reputed a high misdemeanor. An
act had also been passed under the present minister, to obviate the

bad consequences of balances remaining with

- the paymaster-gene-
, and to provide for the constant pay of the army ; but this act

n..ad been notoriously infringed ; the paymaster having actually in
hands a balance of eighty-three thousand pounds. Mr. Grey,

m 3

after mentioning other instances of misapplication, adverted to the
disposition-paper, a species of voucher first used in the prodigal
reign of Charles II. and established at the Revolution, as an au,
thentic document, to inform parliament in what manner the sup.
plies they had granted had been expended. This paper ,he eon,
sidered as a mere deception ; its contents represented the sums
voted by parliament, as issued and applied conformably to its
intent, which was contrary to truth. This he might be told was
only a form ; but the practice was in fact directly opposite to the
regulations enacted by the legislature, in order to preserve to
itself the power over the national purse, against the attempts of
ministers to dispose of the nation's money at their own discre-
tion. On these various premises, Mi. Grey moved the following
resolutions :

" That at all times, and under all circumstances, it is the
indispensable duty of the House of Commons vigilantly to super.
intend the expenditure of the public money, and strictly to inquire
into the application of the grants made by parliament to the service
for which they have been voted.

2. " That by an act passed in every session of parliament, theparticular sums granted for each particular service are specified,
and the money that shall be paid into the exchequer is appro-
priated to their discharge : and that it is strictly directed that such
aids and supplies shall not be applied to any use, intent, or pur-
pose whatever, other than the uses and purposes mentioned in the
said act.

That it appears from an account presented to this House


on the gist of April, 1796, that the sum of 644,1o61. 7s. 9d. was
then due to the several colonels or commanding officers of his ma-jesty's forces, for net off-reckonings and clothing for the years 1794
and 1795, although, by acts passed in 1 794 and 1795, money was
granted to discharge the same; and although the said acts direct
that the money so granted shall be applied in discharge of the same,
and not otherwise.

4. "'That it appears from an account presented to this Hose
on the z ist of April, 1796, that the slim of 146,900/. 12s.
now due to the general and staff officers of his majesty's forces
for the years 17 9 3, 1794, and 1795, although, by acts passed in
the said years, money was granted for' payment of the said sum:
and although the said acts direct that the said money so granted
shall be applied in discharge of the said sum, and not otherwise.

5. " That it appears from an account presented to this House
on the a ist of April, 1796, that the sum of 34 , 3 131. I38. 3 d. is.
now due to the several governors, lieutenant-governors, and other
officers of his majesty's forces and garrisons, in Great Britain and
parts beyond seas, for the years 1794. and 1795, although, by acts
passed in the said years, money was granted for discharging the
said sum ; and although the said acts direct that the money so
granted shall be applied in discharging of the same, and not

6. " That it appears from an account presented to the House
on. the zest of April, 1796, that the sum of 31,0561. 3 d. clue to


e general and staff officers of his majesty's forces, for the year.
was paid out of grants for the year 1796, although, by an

atlic;n'passed In 17 94, money was granted for discharging the
. said

stun ; and although the said act directs that the said money so
granted shall be applied in discharging the same, and not other-

" That it appears from an account produced to this House
the 2 1st of April, 1796, that tile sum of 172,1oc/. due for off-

reckonings, to the 24th of December, 17 94, and which remained
due on the 21st of January, 1796, was discharged out of the vote
of credit granted for the express purpose of defraying expences
that may occur in 1796. By an act passed in 179 4, money was
granted for discharging the said sum ; and although the said act
clirccts that the money so granted shall be applied in discharge of

Tha t it appears to this House, that by an act passed in
the same, and not otherwise.

the 23d year of his majesty's reign, for the better regulation of the
office of paymaster-general of his majesty's forces, it is enacted,
That no money for the service of the army shall be issued from
his majesty's exchequer to the paymaster-general of his majesty's
forces, or shall be placed or directed to be placed in his majesty's
hands or possession ; but the same shall be issued and directed to
be paid to the governor and company of the bank of England, to
be placed to his account.

9. " That it appears to this House, from an account produced
on the 2 zd of April, 1796, that, in open contempt and defiance
of the said act, the sum of 430,2ocd. has been issued directly to
the paymaster-general of his majesty's forces, in exchequer bills,
on the vote of credit for 1796 ; and that a balance of 83,300/.
was remaining unissued in his hands on the said 22d of April,1796.

" That it further appears to this House, that, by the said
act, the paymaster-general of his majesty's forces is directed and
required to form his memorials and requisitions to the treasury,
and to issue his drafts upon the governor and company of the bank
of England, upon the. 24th day of June and 24th day of December
in every year, in equal payments, to such person or persons as have
a regular assignment from the several colonels, lieutenant-colonels,

mandants, majors, captains-commandant, and captains, for the
monies appropriated for the clothing of the non-commissioned
officers and private men of his majesty's regular forces.
r " That it appears to this House, that the sums of money

app ropriated for the clothing of his majesty's regular forces, and
wh ich, according to the provisions of the said act, ought to have
been issued on the 2 4th of December, 17944.the 2 4th of June and24th of December, 17 95, had been directed to other purposes, and
stil l

remained due on the 1st of January, 1796, in open contempt
and defiance of the said act.
, 1 2 . " That it appears, that an account is annually presentedco this House, shewing flow the money granted for the service ofthe preceding year has been disposed of; distinguished under the
several heads, and the parts remaining unsatisfied, with the defi-
ciency thereupon.

51 4


13. " That such account was Intended to be, what in its title
it professes to be, a real account, shewing how the money given
for the service of the year had actually been disposed of, in order
that the House of Commons might be informed of the state of
the public expenditure, and satisfy themselves as to the application.
of the money voted to those services for which it had been granted
by them.

14. " That an account of the above description has been pre-
sented to this House in each of the years, 1794, 1795, and 1796,
in which the money granted for the services of each year is stated
to have been applied to the services for which it was voted by
parliament, although it now appears, from accounts since presented
to this House, that the sums of 644,1o61. granted for off-reckonings
for the years 1794 and 1795 ; the burn of 1 46,9001. granted for the
pay of the general and staff officers of his majesty's forces for 1793,
1 794, and 1795 ; the sum of 34,3131. granted for the pay of the
several governors, lieutenant-governors, and other officers of his
majesty's forces in Great Britain and parts beyond seas, for the
years 1794 and 1795, and severally stated to have been disposed
of for those services, still remain unsatisfied.

15. " That, in the instances above mentioned,, his majesty's
ministers have been guilty of presenting ffilse accounts, calculated
to mislead the judgment of this House, of a flagrant violation of
various acts of parliament, and of a gross misapplication of the
public money."

The reply, made by Mr. Pitt, stated, that though ministers were
bound faithfully to appropriate the public money to the purposes
specified, yet there were a multiplicity of cases wherein that rule
could not strictly be observed. Services of the most critical im-
portance, and the most imperious necessity, often compelled them
to deviate from the letter of the act of appropriation : but was
that, or was any other act, to stand in the way of material services
due to the nation by those who were entrusted with its safety and
preservation ? These deviations were founded on wise precedents,
and sanctioned as just, by long and repeated experience. Ex-
traordinaries were the inevitable attendants of war, especially such
an one as the present, which requiring unprecedented exertions,justified unprecedented methods of conducting it. Mr. Pitt ad-
duced a number of facts to prove that he had acted comformably
to the practice authorized in former wars. The very act of ap-
propriation, he said, evinced the propriety of extraordinaries, by
making good several millions expended under that head; and no
objection was ever made to the principle itself.

Mr. Fox said, he knew not what character the right ho-
nourable gentleman would be disposed to allow him for can-
dour, but he was under the necessity of speaking upon the
question before the House, and he should speak as he felt, as
was his custom. He had listened as attentively as lie could
to a very able speech delivered by the right honourable gen-
tleman. 'What struck him first upon review'ing- that speech

was, that the right honourable gentleman had made great
exertion where there was the least occasion for exertion, in
point of real argument. Where his honourable friend who
had made the motion, had dwelt the least, and touched on

lts as being merely incidental, there the right honourablep011 •
,tentleman had been the most elaborate in his answer. Where
his honourable friend had been the most forcible, there the
right honourable gentleman had been the least explicit. The
truth of this matter was, the right honourable gentlemen had
said much on points which required but little, and very little
on those which required a good deal. The right honourable
gentleman, however, had been very methodical, and he
should endeavour to follow him in the order he had adopted.
The part on which the right honourable gentleman was the
the most successful, was that which went simply to state,
that tile whole which had been clone by administration, against
the letter of the law, was the result of necessity. On this
he had justified the whole of his extraordinaries, upon the ex-
tent of which his honourable friend had spoken so ably that
day. Now, if any gentleman had heard the speech of the
minister that night, without hearing that of his honourable
friend, that was to say, whoever had heard the defence,
without hearing the Accusation, would have thought that the
accusation was merely the incurring of any extraordinaries at
all, not that they had been incurred improvidently, or that
they had been withheld improperly from the House, or
that when incurred or provided for, the money voted for
them had not been applied to their discharge. 'With respect
to army extraordinaries, he would first say, in a general way;
that, to a certain degree, they- were evils unavoidable. He
said this without diffidence, because extraordinaries had been
recognized by the House of Commons, precisely under the
description which he was then giving of them. The minister
himself had in his speech of that day admitted extraordinaries

be an evil, but had contended that they were necessary.
was the answer which he gave to that part of the charge,

although by what he had said, he had admitted them to be,
to a certain degree, contrary to the principles of our con-
stitution. He must therefore contend, ..that these practices,
Which partook of an unconstitutional nature, ought to be
avoided as much as possible in our executive government in
its future arrangements. The right honourable gentleman
had maintained, that if the expellees of the year exceeded
What the executive government had foreseen, and that in
matters which required immediate payment, we must pay
that service which had that- necessary demand upon us; and
when- that necessity demanded it, we must so far obey the

act of appropriation. Undoubtedly, this would always ap,
pear to be true, if it was to be argued generally, as the mi-
nister was pleased to argue it now : and this sort of argument
would be applicable to any other law, as well as the appro.;
priation act, inevitable necessity being an answer to eve
thing. This certainly, taken in its full extent, would appl
to any act of parliament, as well as the appropriation act.
It would, in short, apply to every thing as a general rule,
and only be subject to some particular exceptions, as most
general rules were.

The right honourable gentleman had alluded to the case
which was debated in the year 1744, where the House Of
Commons had inquired into the disposition of 40,0001., and
how far that was, or was not, a deviation from the duty of
the executive government to make the appropriation which
they did of that money ; whether there was ground f'
censuring administration ? and that upon that question
House of Commons had determined, that this conduct
the executive government was deserving of praise instead
of censure. He had no doubt of the regularity of that de-
termination of the House of Commons, nay, he would go
farther, and say, that had he been a member of that House at
that time, he believed he should have voted in the majority
upon that occasion. What principle did the agitation of
that question inculcate? It slimed to us this, that 145
members of the House of Commons of that clay thought
that the slightest deviation from the letter of the appropri-
ation act deserved to be censured, and here he could not help
observing, that the right honourable gentleman seemed to
think that he was speaking ad hominon to him, when he told
him, that that person for whose memory he had, as he ought
to have, great esteem and gratitude, (his father,) voted in the
majority. To which he could only answer, that. he believed
the right honourable gentleman would find on examination,
that another person equally entitled to the esteem and gra-,
titude of that right honourable gentleman, (the late Earl of
Chatham,) voted in the minority in the same division, and
therefore thought that it was proper to censure ministers for
applying this money, even on that occasion, contrary to the
provisions of the appropriation act.

But what was the accusation here ? Not that the payment
of a particular bill drawn should not be made, when that
became necessary for the service; such an accusation his
honourable friend was incapable of making, or if lie was,
Mr. Fox said, he was sure he would resist it ; but that the
extraordinaries had for a long time been studiously concealed
from the House, when the ministers ought to have stated



because they knew them. It had been stated, that in
which he admired as much as any one did, and also

in the report of a committee of that House in 1782, the
atraordinaries of the American war were censured. They

were so. The right honourable gentleman had
:1:tteadillitYhat the extraordinaries were very great in that war,
and that administration could not now be blamed for these
extraordinaries, any more than they were at that time. Upon
this he must observe, that the case was widely different be-
tween the condition of that administration and the present.
However desirable it might be to put an end to extraordi-
naries at. that moment, it was absolutely impossible. Was
the case the same with the right honourable gentleman ? In-
dianant as he professed himself to be at the amount of these
extraordinaries, and violent as he was at the administration
which had carried them to such an .extent, coming into
power upon these principles, and presiding in the govern-
ment of the country during seven years of peace, one would
have naturally expected, that in this particular at least, there
would have been some radical reform ; instead of which, the
present minister laid before parliament accounts of extra-
ordinary expences which far exceeded any that were ever
incurred by his predecessors. The right honourable gentle-
man had talked of our extraordinaries being no more than
thur million in three years. The fact was, they exceeded
that amount in this Very year; and upon this part of the
subject the right honourable gentleman had made for him-
self deductions which he did not allow in his calculations to
Lord North. Mr. Fox stated the sums, to illustrate his

He next proceeded to observe that the minister had that
day defended himself by referring to the American war, the
practice of which they had all reprobated, and the right
honourable gentleman most of any ; this was a little singular,
but however, so it was, and the House would do, well to
observe it. The right honourable gentleman had taken up
considerable time upon this, and lie was sorry he had imitated
him in that respect, for the point was too clear to require
much argument. The great matter to be explained was,
how did it happen that when the House had voted sums for
extraordinaries, that these sums were not applied to the
purposes for which the House thought they were intended?
That the services were not paid for as provided ? He wished
to know why they were delayed after they were provided for?

wished to know in particular why the payment of the
clothing of the army had been so long delayed, and that
contrary to the express direction of the act of parliament

passed for that purpose ? Why- ! the right honourable gen.-
tleman would say, because money allowed for that purpose
was applied necessarily to other services. Surely, however,
that complaint should not have existed an hour after the vote
of the next, which included all these allowances, and made
up all these deficiencies. How did the minister answer this?
By acknowledging a system which tended to bring our
finances into a state of greater confusion than any man in
this country had ever thought of before. The system of the
right honourable gentleman was, that new votes for old de-
mands should, at the discretion of the executive government,
be applied to the discharge of still newer demands, so that to
the uncertainty of the application of money voted by parlia-
ment, there was to be no end. How was it possible to come
to any clearness in practice upon such a system ? What
excuse could there be Inade for such confusion ? Why not
apply money in general to the purpose for which it was spe-
cifically voted ? The extraordinarics were generally voted
early in the session. At least he was entitled to ask, why
we did not pay off arrears of former years, for which sums
had been specifically voted ?

To put this point in another way, the minister should here-
after candidly declare, that although he called on parliament
to vote a sum of money for a particularly described purpose,
he nevertheless meant to apply it to another. He heartily
wished that there might come a system by which they should.
understand directly what it was they were doing. That,
necessary, the House might vote so much occasionally for the
deficiency of supply of each preceding year under that head
specifically. Although this would appear extraordinary, he
could not help thinking it would be a considerable improve-
ment in the mode of transacting the business of the public..
They would then annually see how much the preceding year
was deficient, and clearness was essential in the transacting of
business. That„ therefore, instead of voting any extraordi-
naries, there should be voted sums to satisfy all demands for
services, the payments of which had not been fulfilled on ac-
count (to make use of a favourite expression of the minister)
of the diversion of former services. It would be better to do
so at once; for that in substance, although not in letter, they
had been a long time doing. That would not be a more sub-
stantial disobedience of the law than the present practice, and
it would be accompanied with the advantage of being more
intelligible to the public.

On what principle was it, that instead of settling our ar-
rears, they left those arrears standing on account of the ne-
cessity of settling new demands? Let the House sec to what

this practiceavould lead. The minister said that new
ere often more urgent than arrears. Granted. The vote

of credit was exhausted. These new demands might be stated
arid then they should provide for them as they

eci ,oililissetead of postp oning the payment of arrears, insteadoc urred,

of distressing those who accused them of that shameful and
scandalous mode of conduct. These arrears fell heavy on the
persons to whom they were due first; afterwards on the execu-
tive government, and filially- heavy on the mass of the people,
Who must bear the whole of their load eventually. If some
regulation was not adopted upon this, where were they to
end? The minister said, that these were extraordinary ser-
vices for which it was necessary to appropriate money in pre-
ference to other services of last year. If the fact were so, he
must observe, that, unless some regulation be made of this,
new services would follow one another, so that the House of
Commons, or the people, could never know that the money
was applied to the purposes for which the law required it to be
applied. Besides the perpetual confusion which such arrange-
ments must produce in our accounts, how was parliament to
know where this system would end ? We might go on perpe-
tually contracting debt, and perpetually voting extraordinaries
for past deficiencies, but which were applied to new demands,
leaving always the arrears unpaid.

Having said thus much on the violation of the appropriation
act, he came next to the consideration of the paymasters' act;
which, lie contended, had also been most positively and un-
necessarily broken. If the bank would not receive the exche-
quer bills, which it was admitted they had a right to reject,
why didnot government issue money in another way for thep

for which these bills were issued ? They afterwards,
it seemed, came to some arrangement .

with the bank; but
supposing that this arrangement had never taken place, to what
situation would they have been reduced ? Had the bank, or
had it not a right to refuse these bills? They certainly bath
They did refuse them for some time; the consequence of which
Was a breach of the act of parliament. And if this arrange-
ment had never taken place, ministers would have been pm-
eisely in the situation of doing for a longer time, what they
actually did for a short time, and then the inconvenience to
the public would have been prodigious.

He then came to the disposition-paper, on which the right
honourable gentleman admitted there was much explanation
to be made. He was right in admitting that there certainly
was much to be explained. He had listened, however, very
attentively to what the minister called an explanation of that
subject, and he must confess that he did not hear any thing


that appeared to him to excuse or palliate the minister's con.
duct upon the subject; of what was in itself a breach of a p:ti.
sitive law without a just cause for it. It was said, that it h64
been the constant practice of the House to violate the appro.. •
priation act : that a committee had reported its disapprobation
of the breach of that act, but that as parliament had never
done any thing against the mode of appropriating money to
the discharge of the extraordinaries from time to time, they
seemed by that silence to admit there was no possibility of
preventing the abuse. He would not then question the yali-

ofdity f that reasoning. He owned, however, it appeared to
him to be at least doubtful. It seemed to him to be a little
hasty, to say that parliament had made no law against this
practice with regard to extraordinaries, and that therefore
they did not disapprove of the practice. But when parlia-
ment had declared, as decidedly they had done, that it was
contrary to the principles of the constitution, they must be
supposed at least to think that the . existing laws were suffi-
cient, if properly inforced, to remedy the evil. But, said the
right honourable gentleman, parliament, by making no pro-
vision to prevent these extraordinaries encroaching on the
appropriation act, shewed they connived at it. Ile would
bgrant the minister the whole force of this argument. If par-liament were of this sentiment, the more force there must be
in the acts which they had really passed, and which were de-
claratory of their sentiments on this subject, because those
who connived at some abuses, must surely be well convinced
of others before they prohibited them. Thus, by relying on
what they had not done, the right honourable gentleman had
given double weight to what they had done in the way of pro-
hibition. What had they said on the cloathing of the army?
When parliament despaired, if the minister pleased, of adopt-
ing any general regulation against extraordinaries, they de-
clared certain things must be done, and ordered a strict and
literal observance with regard to the cloathing of the army.
For this purpose they directed the paymaster to make certain
memorials at certain times; that he should draw such and
such bills, and that payments should be made on certain stated
times. The minister stated upon this point (to shew he could
state something on that subject) that this was not a charge on
the treasury, nor on him in his official situation. To this lie
would observe that his honourable friend did not complain of
him particularly, but of ministers .generally, upon this. sub-,
ject, and therefore there was nothing in the distinction of the
chancellor of the exchequer, upon that point.

Here, however, he must complain against the ministers
every day acted contrary to law, and that not a law made at


a time when the subject of it was not well understood. The
ininister said, that this was an ,act with which it was hnpossi-
ble to comply ; that it required a memorial to be presentediwhen that was impossible. Be it so: That it required the
Pa)anent of money when it was not in the possession of exe-government. Be it so. But it was an act of parliament
framed when the right honourable gentleman was himself a
member of that House, and active in the passing of the act,
(although that was not material). But this was not an old
act of parliament, formed when the business of the executive
ouov rnment was not understood, as it is by his majesty's mi-.
nisters. It was a modern act of parliament to prevent those
very abuses which, he contended not to be within the spirit of
the appropriation act. When the minister considered the
supply of the year, ought he not to take care he had consi-
dered . the law of the country? Ought he not to observe the
positive injunctions of an act of parliament which he himself
took a share in framing? Or was this all ? What were they
to say of an act of parliament that was made so as to be im-
possible to be obeyed, or its provisions complied with ? Did
the minister say that the provisions of this act were difficult
in times of war ? That it was an act of parliament, in which
it was impossible to proceed at all times ? Did the minister
come to the House, and complain of an act of his own making ?
Did he complain that it was wholly impracticable in time of
war ? That was the time for which it was principally made.
What reason had the minister to complain of this instead of
complying with it ? In the years 17 94

and 1795, he did not
comply with it. He seemed to leave the act as a monument
of the inefficacy of parliament ; a monument of the motives
of a man who only aimed at gaining a little popularity ; for
which lie seemed to favour a popular act, but with which,
after it was passed, he did not mean to comply, nor did coin-
ply when afterwards he came into office.

The character of men in that House had from many events
been questioned and suspected from time to time for the lastforty years; and he was sorry to say that many things were
done, that hal a very unfavourable effect on many characters
in the course of that time. He would not say, although he
felt much, what might he thought upon that subject in conse-
quence of what had happened within the last two years.These things should be recollected by that House. TheyConcerned the members of it nearly. The more especially
when certain doctrines which he had lately heard were to be
ma intained by the minister of executive government. Much
had been thrown out (he was not now enquiring whether right

wrong) against the conduct of Sir Robert Walpole, and it


was said in his time that man professed what he did not mean
to practise. That charge, he feared, was much more just
now that it was then. Men had some time ago so reprobate(1
the conduct of others, that they had gone so far as to say it
was impossible to make part of an administration with them.
What did they do now ? Only say to the people we will bring
in acts of parliament to amuse the public in which things thi
are theoretically right are maintained ; but when the authors
of them have gained a little popularity, they disobey the pro-
visions of such acts, and make speeches on the impracticability
of them.

He knew not what influence there might be in that House;
this, however, he knew, that it was impossible for that House
to have the confidence of the public, if they did not take care
that ministers obeyed acts of parliament, instead of talking of
the impracticability of them, when called upon to obey them.
The minister, to do him justice, had said that a great deal of
explanation was due to this subject. The misfortune was, that
he did not give that explanation. By the explanation which
he had given, the act of parliament,' to which he had at last
alluded, would be null and void ; because it never could be
told when the right honourable gentleman would be able to
calculate exactly what would be the expellee of the year ; and
till that time he had assumed a dispensing power with regard
to the provisions of the law. He agreed with the minister,
that to over calculate the expence of the year would be dis-
advantageous to the public. He agreed, too, that the very
best system was to make the estimate as great and the extraor-
dinaries as little as possible. Upon that point he had often
complained before, and he complained then, that the minister
had not done his utmost. An evident instance in the case
of the barracks presented itself. The minister himself bad
said, that it would have been more regular to have given to
the House of Commons an account of them in the first instance;
and yet those ministers who pleaded guilty in the instance of
barracks, told the House that in every other instance they
had done better than their predecessors.

Having said this, he must observe upon the general outline
of the subject before the House, that, in his opinion, a vote of
credit was better than extraordinaries ; first, because you pro'
vide in the former for the interest of the debt you incur ; se-
condly, you do not, by a vote of credit, disobey a positive act
of parliament, in complying with such vote. He must again
desire to know, whether extraordinaries might not be voted
immediately after they were incurred when parliament were
sitting? What advantages were there to be expected, in 3
financial point of view, to say nothing of then principle, if 0"

troordinaries incurred this day were to be voted immediately
by the House ? How stood the case, when compared with the
eloathing of the army, which was required by law ? He wished
to know why the minister did not provide for them at once, if
necessary, .by a vote of credit. The right honourable gentle-
man said, that his votes of credit bore a greater proportion to
the expellee than in former wars, and yet he would defray ex-
peaces of this year out of money voted in the last. He would
ask, why the vote of credit ought not to be increased, rather
than the service of last year should be unpaid ? The
right honourable gentleman .

had stated a number of suppo-
sitions. He said, he could not know the extent of the esti-
mates of the service altogether, or the time they would each
of them occur. Certainly. He said also, he could not esti-
mate when the supplies would come in ; the most certain in
that respect were, the land and malt ; another was the case of
the exchequer bills ; and most of was the period when the
loan was to be paid. Granted. But, what occasion had they
to suppose when they were talking of facts ? One loan came in
so early last year, that it was argued that a possible inconve-
nience might arise from the circumstance; that the loan Might
come in before they had use for it ; and that it wouldbe lying
dead upon our hands, while they were paying the interest first.
At this very period ministers were proceeding in direct dis-
obedience to the act of parliament, and they were scandalously
in arrear to the army. Then, he would say again, the minister
had no occasion to have recourse to supposition while he was
furnished with facts upon the subject.

With respect to this year, nine million had already been
expended in the army. He would leave the House to judge
what they were likely to do next year. As to the question,
What was the blame of the executive government ?. He would
say there was much indeed, under all the circumstances, in thedis

obedience of the law, in .their proceeding without informing
the House of what they were doing and what was the situa-
tion of the country. Had he then any difficulty in saying that
this was a great misdemeanor on the part of administration,
.and one that called for the public judgment? Most certainly
he had not. It seemed, however, that the right honourablegentleman thought of secu ringhimself by precedent. The
right honourable

- gentleman had heard of the case of the Earl of
,Maeclesfield, who, in many respects, was a worthy character..
What how stood the case upon the trial of that nobleman?

what was said by the wisest men of that day upon that occa-

:.0L1? tvhrat precedent of similar conduct in others ought not
, prevent the pronouncing of judgment upon guilt. He wouldther

efore say, that although precedent might be pleaded tozu,


prevent a rigorous judgment, yet it was no justification of the
breach of the law. On the paymaster's act, he would say no
excuse could be offered, far there was no precedent for its
breach. It was an act of parliament recently made after full
consideration of the subject; an act which all men were bound
to obey, and the minister more than any other, on account a
the share he took in framing of it. The minister had, however,
wilfully, wittingly, wantonly, and unnecessarily disobeyed it;
and he could not help saying, that administration, by such
conduct, had made the act a sheet of waste paper. He defied
any man to show what the act was good for, if the minister's
defence.was just. The minister said it was inapplicable to a
time of peace. This should have been stated to the House long
ago if that was really the feeling which the minister had upon,
the subject. He would again repeat, and he was sorry to be
obliged to repeat, that ministers had knowingly, wittingly,
:wilfully, and, according to their own statement, unnecessarily,
set this act aside, and made it a sheet of waste paper. Heartily


agreeina with his honourable friend, in all the facts he had
stated, Mr. Fox said, he should most cordially vote for the
motion before the House.

Mr. Steele having moved the previous question on the first reso-
lution, the House divided:


1 Mr. Neville 1-


May 10.

N pursuance of the notice he had given,

Mr. Fox rose and addressed the House to the following
effect:—It having fallen to my lot, Sir, both at the commence'
anentand in the course of the present war, to trouble the
House with several motions Which have not been honoured
with their concurrence, and having last session proposed al.'
inquiry into the state of the nation, to which the House Aid
tot think proper to assent, it may be thought by some, per'
haps, to be rather presumption in me again to call their atten-
tion to the same subject. And I confess that if some eventts
had not occurred during the last year, rather singular in their


nature, I should have, however reluctantly, acquiesced in the
former decisions of the House, after having entered my solemn
protest against the plans that were adopted, and avowed myo.
strong arid complete disapprobation of the whole system of
measures that has been pursued. There certainly, however,
have happened, during the Jast year, some events, which must,
in no inconsiderable degree, have tended to alter the senti-
ments of those with whom I had the misfortune to differ, as
well as to strengthen and confirm the former opinions of those
with whom I have the honour to agree. The event of great
importance, and to which I particularly allude, is the negoci-
ation at Basle and the notice which has been given of the
negotiation with foreign powers. As I shall have occasion
to comment upon this transaction more fully hereafter, I
shall only say at present, that notwithstanding all the applauses
that have been bestowed upon it, the result cannot fail to draw
the attention of every thinking man to tile present posture of
public affairs; it must call the attention of every man who is
not determined to act blindly (a description of persons, of
which I hope there are none in this house,) to the situation of
the country, and that line of conduct which the government
ought to follow. For one thing that we have learned is, whether
ministers have acted wisely or not, (no matter which for our
present purpose,) that we have no immediate prospect of
peace. It signifies but little, whether the obstacle may have
arisen from the unreasonable demands of the enemy, or the
mismanagement of his majesty's ministers ; but of this we are
assured, that we have no prospect of peace, (an event much to
be lamented, but more especially in the present circumstances
of the country,) and that it is not in the power of those who
are entrusted with the administration of public affairs to ob-
tain terms from the enemy, which they dare to offer to the na-
tion. Whatever may be our opinions of the causes which have
led to this situation, we must all be agreed as to the effect;
and none, I presume, will dispute that our situation is worse
than it was at the period when, either ,by conquest or con-
cession, we had a prospect of approaching peace.

Having stated this point, upon which there can be no dif-
ference of opinion, I shall go into a detail of those circum-
tances which, in my mind have reduced us to the situation

Which we are now placed. I know the language which has
been held by the executive government on former occasions of
a similar nature, and the language which may be used by the

cutive government on the present, because it is its interest to

use it, is, that it is not our business to inquire into the causes

the evil, but into the best mode of remedy. If these could
lie separated, I admit that the conclusion would be just, but

N 2


General Tarleton s
Mr. Randy!! Barch 3 •



as long as man remains the same, I contend that there is le,
mode of extricating ourselves from danger, but by retracine
the circumstances by which we have been involved in
difficulties of which we complain. The first thing then to be
done, is, to take an impartial review of past events, which
have led to the situation in which we now stand, that the
country may be enabled to take steps to extricate itself from
the situation into which it has fallen. I shall, therefore, rather
look retrospectively than prospectively, and in that retrospect
I shall not go farther back than the American war. Most
members present will recollect the calamities which befel m
in that contest, and also the terms of peace which in the end'
we were constrained to make ; terms which I shall not argue
at present, whether it was or was not for the advantage of the
country to accept, in the circumstances in which it was then
placed. Many will also recollect the discussions which took
place in the course of that war, and the constant argument
which on all occasions was pressed from the ministerial side of
the House, that we ought to look not retrospectively but pro-
spectively; that when the House was on fire, the question was
trot how the fire was kindled, but how it could be most speedily
and effectually extinguished. The argument which we opposed
to that was one founded upon solid principles, and one which
the House listened to at last; that a consideration of past er-
rors would lead to future amendment, and that a change of
measures would lead to a change of circumstances. -And I
appeal to fact, whether the truth of this argument was not
confirmed by experience. As long as we declined going
into a retrospective inquiry, the war continued, and our misfor•
tunes increased; but from the moment that the House adopted
a resolution to inquire into its past errors, measures were put
into a train by which peace was obtained, and the national
prosperity restored.

Before we go into particular inquiries, let us first examine
whether erroneous maxims of policy have not been adopted,
and whether the principles which have been acted upon are
not fundamentally wrong. There is an argument, which has
been used by an ancient orator, the greatest orator that per-
haps the world ever saw, which, in my opinion, is not inap-
plicable to the present situation of this country. Demosthenes
uses this brilliant, and, in my opinion, no less solid than bril-
liant argument, in the introduction to one of his noblest
orations. When he observed the conduct and the fate of the
Athenians, and compared their calamities with the mismanag e

-ment of their rulers, this mismanagement so firs from be-
Lig a cause of despair, he directly stated as a ground



of hope. " " said he, " they had fallen into these mis-
fortunes by the course of natural and irremediable causes,
then, indeed, there would be reason for despair; if, on the
contrary, they are the fruits of lolly and misconduct, it
,nay be possible, by wisdom and prudence, to repair the evil."
In the same manner I would argue on the present occasion.
Had we not fallen into our present situation, from plans
formed and worse executed ; if every minister had been wise,
and every enterprise ably executed, then, indeed, our state
would have been truly deplorable. But if our policy has
been erroneous and our measures ill conducted, we may still
entertain sortie hope, because our errors may be corrected,
and the losses from our misconduct retrieved. I have often
had occasion to employ this argument, and I know it has been
said in reply, that the argument is good when carried to an
extreme, but that the natural imperfection common to every
man renders it inconclusive in any other case. But when
the misconduct was of such a nature as to be capable of being
remedied, when the mismanagement was such as ought to be
avoided, it shewed that the argument was true in a degree,
as well as true in the extreme. This I state as a motive

&against despair; and I contend, that upon the face of theling, when we compare the situation to which we are now
reduced, with that which we held four years ago, there is
ground for presumption, that the change has been in a great
measure owing to errors in the conduct of those who have
had the management of public affairs. In a survey of the
past, the period to which we are naturally apt to recur, is
the period of the commencement of the war. If we could
consider in one debate every particular of the external and
internal situation of the country, and more especially the
effects which the measures that have been adopted have
had on its constitution, we might go farther back : but this

would involve a detail too extensive for the discussion of
a single night, a field too large for the capacity of the

I shall begin, Sir, with the opening of the budget in 792,
when a most splendid display of the situation of the country
was given by the minister, without alluding to any prior or
subsequent statement : and I take that day because it was aday on which his statement was more to his own satisfaction,
and more to the satisfaction of the House than at any other
Period. In the year 1792, three years after the French
trineRevolution, the minister came forward with his boasted andtphant description of the state of the country, of the pros-
Perity of our commerce, of the improvement (dour manufac-
tures, of the extent of our revenue, and the prospect of perma-

N 3

182 :kn.. PDX'S MOTION ON THE [May

neat peace." He then admitted that fifteen years' peace was,
perhaps, rather too much to expect, but he said that we had
as rational hopes of the continuance of tranquillity as ever had
existed in the history of modern times. Then—full two years
and a half (I wish to speak within compass) after the first
Revolution in France, after the time that the king had been

Assemblycompelled to return to Paris, that the National Asse had
annihilated the titles and destroyed the feudal tenures of the
nobility ; had confiscated the lands belonging to the church,
banished part of the clergy, and compelled those who re-
mained to take an oath contrary, in many instances, to the
dictates of their conscience ; — then, I say, it was, that this
prospect of fifteen years' peace was held out to the country.
It was after the King of France had been made, as was said at
the time, to stand in a splendid pillory, on the f ‘lth July,
that this expectation of lasting tranquillity was raised. So
that I have a right to conclude, that in the opinion of the
king's ministers, the annihilation of the titles of the »obi-
lity, and the degradation of the order, the exile of the clergy;
and the confiscation of the lands of the church ; that the
invasion of the royal prerogative, and the insults offered to
the sovereign, described as they then were by their friends,
by the terms pillory and imprisonment, (terms which I now
repeat, not with any view of courting the favour of those who
employed them, but merely to shew the light in which those
events wore considered at the time,) not only so little inter,
fered with the system of neutrality which they had adopted,
but were in so small a degree connected with the interests of
the country, as not to damp the prospect of peace, or even to
render the duration of tranquillity for fifteen years very un,
certain. I so far agree, therefore, with the opinion of mi.,
histers, that instead of the country being in danger from the
French Revolution, there were no circumstances attending
which rendered the continuance of peace more uncertain than
it was before it happened. It may be said, that at that time
France was professing pacific views. I have so often seen
these professions made by the most ambitious powers, in the
Very moment when they were thirsting most for aggrandize•
ment, that I repose little faith in them; so little, indeed, that I
cannot believe that the pacific views of ministers were found-
ed upon these professions which were made by the French.
But at that very time France was either engaged in actual
hostilities with Austria; or on the point of commencing hostili-

See Vol. iv. p.3fz:


'War was either begun, or there was a moral certaintyties.


discuss a point, (on which, however, I
eave no difficulty in my own mind,) whether Austria or France
was the aggressor, it was sufficient that ministers knew at the
time that an aggression had been made on the part of one of
those powers. And notwithstanding the defeats which at-
tended the French arms at the outset, it was the general
opinion that the Austrian territory was defenceless, and that
it would soon be over-run by the enemy's arms. But even
then a. fifteen-years' peace was talked of. And I must here
state a fact, which though not officially confirmed, rests upon
the general belief of Europe, that before hostilities com-
menced between Austria and France, an insinuation, or rather
a communication, was made by England to the latter power,

that if they attempted any aggression upon the territories of
Holland, which at that time was our ally, we should be obliged
to break the neutrality that we had observed, and interfere in.
the contest. This message has been differently interpreted.
Some have put upon it the interpretation, which I think, upon
the whole, is the fair one, that it was our policy to take all
prudent means of avoiding any part in the war. Others; I
know, have put upon it a more invidious constructioin, and in-
sinuated that our meaning was neither more nor less than this,
speaking to the French, " Take you Austria and do with it
what you please, but we set up the limits of Holland, beyond
which you shall not pass." I state this to shew that at that time
ministers did not foresee any probable event which might oc-
asion a rupture between this country and France. That this
also was the general opinion of the House in the spring of
1792, I need not spend time in convincing them. I shall,
however, barely mention a circumstance of a financial nature,tlielicilliethbappene

happenedd nearthe close of the session, which proves

, beyond dispute. I mean the measure of funding the
4e elia. d ocents. At


that time the per cent. consols had risen to 95,
96, and even to 97, and it was the opinion of the right honour-
able the chancellor of the exchequer that they would rise to
ar; in this conviction, and with a view of a probable saving,

lost t le opportunity of a certain saving to the nation
of a perpetual annuity of 240,0001.; a thing of such maoni-z,

.-7,tilde as to prove to the House that at. that time n right ho-

nourable gentleman had no expectation that the peace was


y to be disturbed since it induced him to forego the greatbgoodwthat was in his power, in the hope of the trifling ad-dition
, 0Lnat might have accrued on the event of the 3 per(cieelciitasr. arisin g

s which
to ar . I mention this as a fact subsidiary to the

the minister made at the commencement of
N 4


that session, and which proved, that to the end of it he con-
tinued to entertain the same confidence of peace.

Thus ended the session of 5792. In the course of the
summer of that year various events of various kinds took.
place. The Revolution in France of ;the loth of Ant*
chiefly deserves notice. I shall not now comment upon the
nature of that Revolution, I shall speak of it merely as a
member of the British legislature, and as an event connected
with the interests of this country. The great alteration it had
produced was the changing the government of France ii•orn
a monarchy to a republic. I know that these are excellent
words, and well adapted, as the history of our country has
proved, for enlisting men under opposite standards. But this
is not the view in which that Revolution is to be considered,
as affecting the policy of this country. Let us in the first
place consider its influence upon this country, in the way of
example, and the prevalence which it was likely to give to
Jacobin principles throughout Europe. After this countryhad seen the order of the nobility destroyed and their titles
abolished, when it had seen the system of equality carried to
as great a length as it was possible to carry it, except in
that one instance of the existence of a king, I ask those
who are fondest of the name of monarchy, (I beg not to be
understood as speaking in the least disrespectfully of that
form of government,) whether there was any thing in the
monarchy of France previous to the loth of August which
tended to fortify the English monarchy ? Whether there was
any thing in the subsequent Revolution which tended to render
it less secure than it was immediately before that event hap-
pened, when no danger was apprehended ? Whether there be a
greater or a less prospect of peace between this country and
France since the overthrow of the house of Bourbon than there
was before ? It is not my disposition to triumph over the dis-
tresses of a fallen family ; but, considering them as kings
of France, as trustees for the happiness of a great nation,
and remembering at the same time my old English preju-
dices, and I may farther add, old English history, can l
regret that expulsion as an event unfavourable to the
happiness of the people of France, or injurious to the
tranquillity of Great Britain ? No man who thinks that the
former wars of this country against France were just and
necessary, can refuse to say that they were provoked by the
restless ambition of the house of Bourbon. And can it then
be said, that the overthrow of that monarchy was either a
cause of alarm or a symptom of danger to Great.Britain ?

Lest, however, I should be thought by . some to approye
more of the conduct of ministers than I really do, I here fin('


it necessary to say a few words by way of explanation. I ape
prove of their sentiments in 5792, in as far as they thought
h ilt the French Revolution did not afford a sufficient cause for

that country involving itself in a war, and I approve of their
conduct, in as far as it proceeded upon a determination to ad-
here to an invariable line of neutrality, provided universal
tranquillity could not be preserved. I differ, however, with-
them upon the means of preserving that neutrality. I think
there was a time before the war broke out with Austria, which
presented an opportunity for this country to exercise the great
end dignified office of a mediator, which would not only have
been highly honourable to herself and. beneficial to Europe,
but an office which she was in some measure called upon to
undertake by the events of the preceding year. The event to
which I particularly refer was the treaty of Pilnitz, by which
Russia and Prussia avowed their . intention of interfering in
the internal affairs of France, if they should be supported by
the other powers of Europe, which certainly was to all intents
and purposes an aggression against France. The circum-
stances of the transaction, still more than the transaction it-
self, pointed out the propriety of this mediation on the part
of Great Britain. This treaty, I really believe, was never in-
tended to be acted upon ; but this certainly does not lessen
the aggression, much less the insult which it carried to France.
The emperor at that time was importuned by the emigrant
nobility and clergy to interfere in the domestic affairs of France.
Austria did not dare to interfere without the co-operation of
Prussia, and Prussia 'did not wish to hazard the fate of
such an enterprize. When those powers were in this state of
uncertainty, that was the very moment for England to be-
come a mediator; and if this country had at that time pro-
posed fair terms of accommodation to the parties, the matter
aught have been compromised, and the peace of Europe pre-
served, at least for some time; for, God knows, the period of
Peace is at all times uncertain ! If England had then steppedf
orward as a mediator, the questions to be agitated would have

elated solely to Lorraine and Alsace. And, is there any man

Who believes, putting out of the question the internal affairs
of Prance altogether, that under the impartial mediation of
this country, all the difficulties respecting the tenures of the
nobility, and the right of the chapters in those two provinces,
Plight not have been easily settled to the satisfaction of thedisputants ? I cannot conceive that ministers, in concertingtheir schemes, and adopting the measures which they have
Pursued, could be influenced by any secret principle so de..P rayed and truly impolitic, as to be induced to contemplate
with satisfaction the growing seeds of discord, under the idea

186 MR. FOX'S MOTION ON THE [May tz.

that this country would flourish, whilst the other powers of
Europe were exhausting themselves( in contention and Neve,.
Neutrality I admit to have been preferable to an active share
in the contest; but to a nation like Great Britain, whose pres
verity depends upon her commerce, the general tranquillity of
Europe is a fin- greater blessing (laying the general interests
of mankind out of the question) than any partial neutrality
which it could preserve. I hope, therefore, that it was upon
no such contracted views that ministers declined the office of
mediators at the period to which allude. One would think,
however, that after refusing such interference, they would
have been the last men- in the world to intermeddle with the
internal government of another country.

Having proved that the event of the loth of August made
no difference in our relative situation, I trust it is not neces-
sary for me to refer to the horrible scenes that were disclosed
in France, in the month of September. I merely mention them
that it may not be said that I wished to pass them over in si-
lence, or without expressing those feelings which in common
with all mankind I experienced, on hearing of atrocities which
have excited the indignation of Europe. However monstrous
they have been, they seem, notwithstanding, to have no rela-
tion to the present question ; they have no small resemblance,
at the same time, to the massacres in Paris in former periods;
massacres in which Great Britain was much more nearly af-
fected than by the events of the month of September 1792,
but in which she nevertheless did not interfere ; a conduct,
the propriety of which it fell to the province of the historian
to discuss; and to historians alone must the massacre of
September 17 92 be also left; for though individual members
might think them a fit topic with which to inflame the rage
of mankind, ministers never contended that they were a legiti-
mate cause of war.

We now come to that important event the successful inva-
sion of the Austrian Netherlands, by the French under Gene-
ral Dumourier. How far it would have been wise in this,
country to have permitted •France to remain in possession 01
this key to Holland, I shall not now argue. But what hap-
pened in October was apprehended in April; and if it is once
admitted as a principle, that it would have been impossible
for this country to have allowed France the quiet possession
of this territory, would it not have been wise in this country
to have prevented the invasion by a mediation between the
two powers? Perhaps it may be said, that they trusted that
the great military power of Austria would be able, if not to
resist the invasion in the first instance, at least to compel than
to retire. If this was the policy with which' they acted, it

policy more than ordinarily shallow.

N,%e'as abeen, perhaps, in this, as in every instance of aceritiakiinl3have
•e more wise to adopt a resolution at the outset,Aar nature,

id to act upon it with uniformity, firmness, and consistency.
31- a France to be successful, did you expect to strikeSupPosint,

et the end of the war, and speak to France as you did in
case of Russia and the Porte, when you vauntingly said to

:1110elutss eilt'oPne? You were not seconded by the country ; you

You shall not keep Ockzakow as an indemnity for
ences of the war ? What was the consequence,

however, when you came forward in this arrogant and impe-

were condemned, as assuming haughty and unwarrantable
pretensions by every impartial man in Europe ; and in the

• ,

end you were obliged to send a minister to Petersburgh to
renounce every thing that you had said. Had you pursued
the same conduct in respect to France, you would have been
reduced to the same dilemma. The more the aggrandize-
ment of France was to be dreaded, the stronger motives we
had to exercise the office of a mediator before the war come
menced. Shortly afterwards Lord Gower was recalled from
Paris; a circumstance which I always lamented, because from
that moment the continuance of peace between the countries
became more doubtful. And this brings me to the immediate
causes of the war.

The immediate causes of the war have generally been re-
duced to three : first, the way in which certain individuals
belonging to the Corresponding Society in this country were
received by the government of France; secondly, the decree
of the 19th of November ; and, thirdly, the claims which
were set up against the monopoly held by the Dutch of the
navigation of the Scheldt. The first appears to me to be so
insignificant as not to be worthy of a serious answer. In the
first place, in order to give it shape, in order to make it fit for
being put down upon paper, you must begin with assuming
that there was a government in France to whom you might
complain, and from whom you might demand redress. But,
was there ever any complaint made, or any dissatisfaction
stated ? Respecting the decree of the 1 9th of November, did
you ever complain of it? did you ever demand that it should
be either revoked or explained? This is a circumstance so
timately connected with the. existence of a government in
France, that I know not how to separate them. You refused
to recognize the government of France, and from that very
moment all the means of conciliation and explanation were at
an end. Things were then brought to the ultima ratio reollln •
for the moment that you cut off all means of explanation,
You virtually made a declaration of war. But though you



arrogantly and unwisely refused to recognize the government
of France, you allowed M. Chauvelin to remain here, and
from the papers which passed between him and the Igs
ministers at the time, the French seem to have shown a strong
disposition to explain that decree. Why then, it will
asked, did they not explain it? Because they did not know
what explanation would be satisfactory. But it is admitted
by all the writers on the law.- of nations that I have read,
that an insult, or even an aggression, is not sufficient cause of
war, till explanation or redress is demanded and refused, and
that the party who refuses an opportunity of explanation to
the other is the aggressor. This opportunity, however, was
denied to the French ; and upon these principles England
was the aggressor. With respect to the opening of the
Scheldt, is there any man who does not believe, if a nego:
elation had been then attempted, that matters might not have
been arranged to the mutual satisfaction of the parties? This
was even admitted by the House. F'or what was the favourite
argument at the time ? " England is the last power in Europe
upon whom the French will make war ; but after devouring
the rest of Europe, they will swallow you up at last." Upon
this part of the argument I am a good deal relieved by subse-
quent events. And here I am sorry to allude to the opinions
of a gentleman (Mr. Burke) who is no longer a member of
this House, but, from the part he took in the politics of the
country at the time, and the effect which his eloquence pro-
duced, I find it impossible to speak of the history of the
times, without saying something on the doctrines and senti-
ments of that able and respectable man. In a most mas-
terly performance, he has charmed all the world with the
brilliancy of his genius, fascinated the country with the
powers of his eloquence, and, in as far as that cause went to
produce this effect, plunged the country into all the calamities
consequent upon war. I admire the genius of the man,
and I admit the integrity and usefulness of his long public
life; I cannot, however, but lament that his talents, when, in
my opinion, they were directed most beneficially to the in-
terest of his country, produced very little effect, and that when
he espoused sentiments different from those which I hold
to be wise and expedient, then his exertions should hoc
been crowned with a success that I deplore. Never, certainly,
was there a nation more dazzled than the people of this coun-
try were by the brilliancy of this performance of Mr. Burke !
Much of the lustre of his opponents, as well as of friends, was
drawn from the imitation of this dazzling orb; but it was the
brilliancy of a fatal constellation, which bore terror and deso-
lation in its train ; .and we arc to this day suffering its bane-

lid effects. This able man had no bounds in his opposition
to joy proposition for recognizing the government of France.
ft was represented as a proposition to petition France for
peace, by throwing ourselves at her feet, to surrender our be-
loved sovereign's head to the block : in fine, entirely to give
up the constitution. And why ? Because it was to treat with
roricides, though the unfortunate event (for such I shall al-
wa'ys call it) of the death of the King of France had not as
yet taken place. When the question comes to be re-considered,
I am confident that the country will not be of this opinion.
At present I have even ministers themselves as necessaries to
the fact, after it has actually happened. By this petition or
message to the directory have they not acknowledged the
power of those very men who pride themselves upon the
part they took in promoting that unfortunate event, and who
110W celebrate it by an anniversary festival? For what purpose
do I mention this, but to skew that I did not wish to surrender
the constitution, which has been handed down to us from our
ancestors, cemented with their blood, and that it was no, part
of my design to bring the head of our beloved sovereign to
the block ?

But to return to the opening of the Scheldt. I am not one
one of those who conceive the navigation of the Scheldt to be
of no importance to Holland; in its present circumstances, I
think it was of very little importance. It may be'asked, how-
ever, are you to judge what is and what is not for the interest
of Holland ? Are not the Dutch much better judges of what
is for their interest than you are? Far, far better certainly, is
my answer. But did the Dutch themselves at the time think
it au object worth disputing about, or rather did not we drag
them reluctantly into the contest? A variety of other argu-
ments were used at the time. I do not wish to recal the lan-
guage of any particular gentleman to the recollection of the
House; but the argument being adduced against a proposi-
tion which I had the honour to make, I have more particular
lieoatsiolctti s


remember it. I was told, that we ought not to re-
cognize the French republic, for fear of disgusting our allies.
IA us inquire, then, who were our allies at the time? The


ral were among the number. Then it was said,
that even those who were disaffected to the interest of the
Stadtholder, were so aristocratic in their sentiments, that they

urn with indignation at French principles, and that
an invasion would heal all the internal divisions which sub-

in that republic. Notwithstanding these assertions,

n""ever, I have heard, and I know it is commonly believed,
that Holland was not conquered by the arms of France, but
by the disaffection of the Dutch to the cause in which they

190 MR. Fox's MOTION ON THE [May Io.
were engaged. Our other allies were Austria and Prussia,
Whether the King of Prussia has acted to this country with
fidelity and honour, or with falsehood and perfidy; whether
he has performed his engagements, or whether he has rio,
lated the faith of the treaty, we have never been informed by
ministers; but this I will ask, whether after granting him an
enormous subsidy, a subsidy which must be regarded as most
extravagant, when compared with the amount of the services
which he has performed; whether, if you had thought proper
to recognize the French republic before you entered into the
war, he would have deserted you one day sooner, or swallowed
up more of the treasure of the country than he has done?
With respect to Austria, is there any man who seriously
believes that, though we had recognized the French re-
public, we might not have availed ourselves as much as we
can do at this moment, of the service of that power ? Even if
Austria had been disgusted, all that she could have done
would have been to make a separate peace, which would
have probably been the means of restoring general tranquil-
lity, because that must have happened before we engaged in
the war. But if this danger would have attended the recog-
nition of the French republic before, may not the effect be
produced by the late negociation at Basle, in which Austria
was not a party? It was argued, that a recognition implied
an approbation of every thing that had passed. But this I
denied when the objection was taken, and still persist in
denying. On the question of—who was the aggressor? I
contend, that by the law of nations, as it is explained by the
best writers upon the subject, we were the aggressors, because
we refused to give to France an opportunity of redressing
those grievances of which we complained.

I now come to the period at which we began to take an
active part in the contest. When our armies first appeared
in the field, the enemy were forced to retire from the terri-
tories which they had occupied ; they were completely driven
out of the Netherlands, and we were in possession of almost
all French Flanders. At this period, it was reported that a
person of the name of Maret made proposals for peace, on
the part of the French, which were not listened to by his ma-
jesty's ministers. Why, then, I ask, did you not make peace
at this prosperous juncture ? when the enemy were defeated in
every battle, when they were driven from the frontiers of our
allies which they had occupied ; when we had made a con-
siderable impression upon French Flanders; when, excepting
Savoy, they had not one foot of land belonging to our allies,
and when they might have been disposed to purchase terms of
peace by a considerable sacrifice of territory ? Why did We


not make peace in these . circumstances ? Why, because the
system on which ministers had set out was deserted ; because
you no longer confined your views to the security of your
allies, but, infatuated with success, you began to seek for in-
demnity. The declining to negotiate at this period, I set
down as a principal cause of all our succeeding calamities.

I cannot help remarking, that there has been a good deal
of inconsistency in the mode of o.arguin adopted by those who
have been adverse to negociation. When the French were
successful, I was asked — What ! would you humble the
country so far as to beg peace from the enemy, in the moment
of her victories? And when the allies were successful in their
turn, I was told, that we must not treat at a time when our
.armies were every where triumphant, and when nothing but
disgrace and defeat marked the progress of the enemy ; that
then was the period to avail ourselves of our good fortune,
and reap the fruits of our victories. It was even at one time
thought advisable to push our victories so far as to march to
Paris. Upon the project of effecting a counter-revolution in
France, having said so much on former occasions, I shall not
enlarge now. The great defect in the management of the
war, however, has, in my opinion, been the want of a deter-
minate object for which you have been contending. You
have neither carried on war for the purpose of restoring mo-
narchy in France, nor with a view to your own advantage.
While the emperor in Alsace was taking towns in the name
of the King of Hungary, you were taking Valenciennes for
the emperor — proclaiming the constitution of 1791 at Toulon

and taking possession of .
Martinique for the King of Great

Britain. What has been the consequence of this want of
object? You have converted France into an armed nation—
you have given to her rulers the means of marshalling all the
strength of the kingdom against you. The royalists in
France, also, so little understood your intentions, that they
did not join you; and the reason is obvious—they did not
know whether you were at war for the purpose of re-establish-
ing the ancient monarchy of France, or for the purpose of
aggrandizing yourselves by robbing France of her territories.
It might then have been imagined that we would have endea-
voured to conciliate the body of constitutionalists. No such
thing. We had acted so as to give . .the impression .

that we
were desirous to she• our enmity towards that body of men.

unfortunate De la Fayette, who deserved the praise of

being a man of the most uncorrupted nature, who had the
merit of steering between the two extremes of the parties drat
agitated this country ; this firm, brave, and steady friend of

sovereign, — this gallant and distinguished uelltlernaD,1


[May 0,

equally the friend of his king and his country, emigrated after
the loth of August. Upon neutral ground he was seized by
certain robbers in the service of the King of Prussia ; he was
kept by that monarch for years in prisons and dungeons.
It might have been thought, if you had been desirous to
conciliate this body of men, whose constitution you announced
at, Toulon, that you would at least have made a point of
procuring the . enlargement of this estimable character. It
might have been thought, that in return for an enormous
subsidy, the King of Prussia could not hesitate at the en-
largement of one prisoner. But when a motion on the
subject was made by my right honourable friend (General
Fitzpatrick) it was said that it was impossible for this govern-
ment to interfere. He is delivered from the King of Prussia,
on his recognition of the French, to the emperor, because,
he said, he belonged to the allies generally, and by him he
is kept in the same scandalous and inhuman bondage. From

this dreadful captivity he endeavours to escape — a circum-
stance not very surprizing— he is taken and sent back to his
prison, to experience more rigorous treatment. At length
Madame de la Fayette, after enduring a series of most
dreadful sufferings under the brutal Robespierre, from which
she escaped by miracle, flew, on the wings of duty and affec-
tion, to Vienna, to solicit the emperor for permission to
give to her husband the consolation of her attentions in his
prison. The emperor granted her request. But on her
arrival at Ohnutz, the officer who had the care of M. dc la
Fayette, told her with openness and candour, that if she
resolved to go down to the dungeon to her husband, she must
submit to share in all the horrors of his captivity. [A burst
of indignation and sorrow broke from every part of the House.]
This, however, had no terrors for her affectionate heart ; she
plunged into his dungeon, and there they remain together,
the living, and yet buried, victims of' this inhuman power.
Nay, this is not all ; she applied for leave to have a female
attendant, instead of a male, about her person ; this, she said,
even the implacable Robespierre had not denied her; but
even this request was brutally refused ! As if it were not
enough that our ministers had not interfered for the de-
liverence of this gentleman, and for fear that it should be
misunderstood that they did not participate in the measure,
N. Alexander Lamed', one of the persons who retired from
France along with De la Fayette, bad, after a most cruel
confinement, come to this country to take the benefit of the
Bath waters. He had also been confined in the prisons
of Prussia ; but his health having fallen a sacrifice, the king,
yielded to the solicitation of his mother, and, had permitter


like to have a certain period of relaxation, and, having after-
wards made his separate peace with France, was easily per-
suaded to give him liberty. This gentleman, then, who had
co greatly distinguished himself as the friend of his king and

who had only been desirous to establish a limited
monarchy,liy, and who had fallen a sacrifice in his native land
w his endeavours to prevent the violence and injustice which
have unhappily been committed, sought to re-establish his
health in this country. He had not been here a single fort-
night, the greatest part of which he spent in his bed, before
he was ordered to quit the kingdom; and to every repre-
sentation of the alarming state of his health; and the impro-
priety of his being put on board any other than a neutral
vessel, very little attention was paid, and he was hurried
away, at the hazard of his being carried into Calais, and
conducted to the guillotine. What could be more injurious
to the country than such conduct ? Any person, who had
seen M. Lameth with his broken and decayed constitution,
would not have conceived that lie was in a state to be dan-
gerous to the government. Good God ! (exclaimed Mr. Fox)

Lameth an object of terror to the British government !
An object of terror no otherwise than of moral terror, which
his sufferings might excite, as exhibiting a dreadful example
of the justice of what are termed " regular governments,"
of the implacable temper of political animosity, and of that
severe vengeance, which jealousy and offended power ex-
ercise on their unresisting victims ! And thus this gentleman,
who had justly rendered himself clear to all who love rational
liberty, and to whom the emigrant nobility of France owed
such obligations, was driven from England.

Thus it appears, that it is not to loyalists of' every descrip-
tion that favour is to be sliewn; it is not to those who take
up arms in favour of the limited monarchy, which it was thepretended object of the allies, and of this country in particular,
to establish, but to those only whose endeavours aim at the

storation of the ancient tyranny, who are the friends of the
old feudal system. They, it seems, are the only royalists
whose loyalty is entitled to support. With respect to the
treatment of General Dumourier, though I do not mean to
place him exactly in the same point of view as the two gen-
tlemen I have just mentioned, yet the behaviour of the allies
towards him has not been less impolitic; for, certainly, to
afford an asylum and offer our protection, to those men who,disgusted with the party whom they served, withdrew their
assistance, 2?was the only effectual way to encourage othersto followv-

i.their example. It is said, that the legitimate object
Great Britain in this war was, to obtain from France a


just and honourable peace, and that this was also the object
of the allies. Why, then, was not that object attempted
when the confederacy existed in its full power? Why were'
two of the powers, Prussia and Spain, suffered to melt away,
and their aid to be withdrawn from the general cause, with_
out making any overtures for such a peace? You may says
it was not your fault, that you could not foresee their secession;
let Inc, however, observe, that when statesmen take open
themselves to form alliances with other powers, they sliouil
know something of the characters of the princes with Wham
they make such alliances, and how far it is probable they will
keep to the letter of their engagements. As to the King of
Prussia, there was every reason to suppose, long before the
event took place, that he would make peace with France;
that it was his interest so to do: and . with respect to Spain,
it was apparent to the most short-sighted statesman, that her
ministers could not protract the conclusion of a peace with
the victorious republic, without endangering the existence
of the Spanish monarchy itself. It was, therefore, an incum-
bent duty on ministers to have foreseen the probable con-
sequences of their alliances: if they had possessed any of that
necessary foresight, they would, during the last session of
parliament, have used their endeavours to have procured a
peace, while the confederacy was acting in concert, and not
have waited till it was dissolved.

It is alleged, that the form of government in France was
not such as to enable ministers to treat for peace upon any
sure foundation. I, however, am one of those who think that
the government, so far as respected external relations, was
of no consequence to the contracting parties. If an absolute
government is, as it is thought to be, the best to enter into
engagements with, surely no one will deny but France was
an absolute government during the tyranny of Robespierre,
as well as during the reign of the prior and succeeding fac-
tions. The acts of those 'factions were never afterwards
revised, with respect to external relations. But, you say, you
must wait till there is a regular constitution established. IS
that the most proper time to retrieve your losses by nego0
ation, when they have settled themselves in a permanent
government, ascertained the limits and boundaries of their,
conquests, made the whole subject to their general laws, So
communicated to what was your territory every inherent
quality of their own departments ? We were told, several yeals
ago, that the French were reduced to such extremity, that
they could not possibly find resources to enable than t„
continue the contest much longer ; and only last session e•
was asserted, with the utmost degree of confidence, that they

X 796.]


were not upon the verge, but in the actual gulf of bankruptcy,
that they were in the last agony.

• A twelvemonth has now
elapsed since they have been in that agony; and really it is
the first time I ever heard of any set of people continuing
so long in such a situation. I certainly must admit, that
last year, while France was labouring under this agony, the
emperor, with the assistance of this country, was enabled to
regain part of his dominions which had been wrested from
him, and this was looked upon as an accomplishment of the
prediction, that the French were reduced to the last ex-
tremity, and that they were not in a capacity ever to recover
themselves. It • might naturally have been expected, that
death would have been the consequence of this agony ; but
was that the case ? Far from it. The events of the last three
weeks have been of a nature sufficient to prove that their

agonizing struggles may in the end destroy their enemies,‘,„
and draw them into that gulf of ruin, in which they had
flattered themselves the French would have been irrevocably

The state of the French finances has been another argu-
ment to prove their inability to continue the war. God for-
bid, that the finances of this country should ever be so in-
volved ! But the French have now got over the worst con-
sequences resulting from the state of their finances. France
has been placed in that situation, wherein it has been neces-
sary to call forth all the property of the country, in order to
maintain the quarrel. Without recurring to the mode of ar-
gument which was made use of yesterday, with respect to the
new mode of taxing capital, I hope, if ever we should be in
the situation of the French, that we shall not hesitate to ex-
pend the whole capital of the country, rather than have a
constitution imposed upon us by a foreign enemy. I had ra-
ther that all should be taken away by the calamities of the
present war; I had rather that we should be forced to submit
to one, two, three, or four requisitions of all the adults in the
kingdom; all this I would rather submit to, than that the
Country should experience the misery of absolute servitude.
You have reduced France to the situation of absolute bank

; but that bankruptcy is past, and now they have the
Whole resources of the country to bring forth against you.
It is now twelve months since we conceived them in such a
state of bankruptcy, as to be incapable of resistance. It was
the boast of Austria, that she had recovered her losses; but
we see the campaign open this year with such gigantic efforts
on the part of the French, as to leave no room to hope that
we Can ever be able to resist them.

At the commencement of the present session, his majesty,

196 MR. Fox's MOTION ON THE [May I.

in his speech from the throne, intimated a disposition trene_
gociate, and had more fully manifested that disposition in his
message of the 8th of December. -Why did not ministers make
the attempt at that time, which was peculiarly favourable for
such a measure, as the campaign could not well be opened for
some months? instead of this, we -find that the first step
taken was on the 8th of March, threeltrionths: after the cone
munication of the earnest desire for' peace contained in the
king's message; and four months after the same sentiments
had been avowed in his speech from the throne. This delay
has not been occasioned by a wish to consult with our allies,
and obtain their concurrence, for it does not appear that they
either sanctioned or disapproved it. An allusion was made
to them in Mr. NATickham's letter; but in order to justify the
delay, the application should have been made in the name of
them all, 'and sorry terms should have been offered.
This was not the case. Mr. 'Wickham's letter was such as
might have been agreed upon in a quarter of an hour, instead
of three months. But this letter, after all, expressed nothing
more than was container in the king's speech, and cannot be
produced as a new proof of the desire of ministers for peace.

It has been said in this House, and his majesty's ministers
have particularly supported the opinion, that the contagion
of French principles is highly dangerous to this country.
Those principles and their supporters in France, have been
treated in: this House with every mark of insult and contempt,
with every expression of disgrace and detestation. The first
thing ministers should have done, was to remove the un-
favourable impression, the hostile disposition which their
language and conduct must have created; and the first step
towards accomplishing this, was a full and unequivocal recog-
nition .of the French republic. Towards the conclusion of
the American war, some gentlemen in this House thought an
acknowledgment of the independence of America should be
made the price of peace. I always thought otherwise, and
that it ought to be made freely and gratuitously. But whe-
ther I was right or not, the present is a question materially
different. We have no claim on France, like that which Ire
had on : America, and therefore the less would have been the
sacrifice in recognizing the republic. But so far from doing
this, Mr. 'Wickham's note does not even hint at the term'
that would be acceptable. This reserve may in some cases be
prudent and wise. In the present case I see neither prudence
nor wisdom. Instead of either recognition or offers, you tell
the directory, that your minister is not empowered even !(:'
negociate. To argue this point fairly, I must put myself ill
the situation of the enemy, and here I rnust .ask, \lila could I


olio]; of such a communication from ministers, who for several
year:;a have traduced the principles and governments in France;v
,'Ind reviled all the ruling men in that country ; from ministers
who delayed that communication for three mouths? I could
not believe the sincerity of their offers.

It is not regular to-mention what has passed in former de-
bates; but, if I may be .permitted to allude to the arguments
advanced a fe'Ve evenings ago, upon the subject of the King
of Sardinia's subsab we shall find a full illustration of the
minister's motives,- in making the pretended offers of peace
through Mr. Wickham. On that occasion, it was said, that
i t was by no means certain; that the overtures of his Sardinian
majesty were made with the view of obtaining peace. It was
most probable, that they were made in consequence of the
pressure of circumstances, and that all his object was to know,

what were the conditions on which the French would consent
to a pacification; for he had no real intention of putting an
end to the war. I cannot conceive more happy expressions
to explain the views of his majesty's ministers, in making
overtures through Mr. Wickham. They were no doubt ac-
tuated by the same motives that guided his Sardinian majesty,
and the French might well suppose that their pretended offers
were produced by the pressure of circumstances, and made
with the view rather of protracting than concluding the war.
The pretence set up by the -French, that they could not give
up any territories which had been consolidated with the re-
public, is, indeed, a matter of regret, but it is a circumstance
that doubles my indignation against those ministers who
have brought us into this lamentable situation, who have de-
ferred any proposition for peace till a period when the diffi-
culties are such, that there is no prospect of obtaining it on
safe and honourable terms. I see great triumph on the other
side of the House, and I do not wonder at it. Their object
was to delay overtures of peace till they could not be accepted,
and they have succeeded. This may be a manoeuvre in war,
but It is not an act of which a minister, sincerely desirous of
Peace, ought to boast. That it was such a ]manoeuvre, I am
convinced, by the eagerness and exultation with which the
correspondence has been published. Is there no better means

ceifa' tniloank? Aingtlie government of France believe the sincerity of
Your wishes for peace? Why is it not considered how othertreaties


have been


other channelsc
not malke





And above all, why not recognize the republic,

and Lord

renrdounce any design against it on account of the princia
Nes on which it was founded ? When that great man, the

Chatham, was consulted respecting the best mode

19 gam. FOX'S NOTION ON Tilt [May c)

of terminating the unfortunate dispute with America, did he
send to know what were the terms demanded by the Ameri.
cans ? : his opinion was, that nothing would effect a corn.
plete conciliation, but a complete change in his majesty's
councils.— f A laugh on the treasury bench.] — Gentlemen
may laugh, but I do not understand how the calamities of the
people, brought on by the present councils of his majesty, can
be a subject of merriment. To remove those calamities, a
total change, not only in the councils of his majesty, but in
his counsellors, is absolutely necessary ; for to suppose, after
their recent conduct, that they will abandon those principles
of action which have brought on us so many misfortunes, is
absurd. They have not in any way manifested such a change,
The administration which conducted the American war, was
found unfit to settle the peace; and yet Lord North, of whom
as a private man I never can speak but with respect and
esteem, had a most conciliating disposition, and never was
considered to be personally anxious to establish our dominion
over America, neither had he spoken with so much acrimony
of our enemies as has lately been the case. He might have
treated with more advantage than our present ministers, and
yet it was found necessary that he should resign.

The change of feeling towards the French must have been
very sudden in the right honourable gentleman ; for at the
time he was making pacific professions, he was sending an
expedition to the coast of France, which if it had succeeded,
would have compelled him to declare Louis XVIII. king.
Had the island of Noirmoutier been taken in the name of
Louis XVIII. in whose name it was summoned by a British
officer, how could ministers have recognized the republic?
It appears, then, that their conversion is very sudden, and
sudden conversions are most suspicious. It is but too mani-
fest, that they never were sincerely desirous of negociating a
peace with the French republic. They might, indeed, draw
up a paper with the ingenuity of special pleaders, that might
serve as a declaration in a court of law, but which from its
ambiguous mode of expression, could not satisfy a more liberaljudgment of the sincerity of their wishes for peace. I do not
wish to visit the sins of the father upon the son ; I do not
wish that the descendants of the house of Bourbon should
be treated in the manner in which they treated the unfortu

-nate house of Stuart; but if your pacific offers were sincere)
you should have disowned Louis . XVIII. as King of France.
You should have recalled Lord Macartnev, who was sent as
ambassador to him, anti avowed that you made war on France
as a republic, and consequently that you recognized it as
such. It would have been a becoming act of justice in yo

„, have declared this to Louis XVIII.; and it would have
been an act of prudence to yourselves, with a view of con-
„incing the directory of the sincerity of the change in your
sentiments; it would have freed the unfortunate emigrants
from all farther suspense respecting their fate, and would
have convinced the French government of your actual solici-

tude,l here
forr peace.

And must beg pardon of the House, for entering
into a short digression on the double dealing that has been
used towards the unfortunate emigrants from France, and
observe, that it a most consoling circumstance to me, that not
one of them owes the smallest atom of his misfortunes to any
thing I ever did or said. It was natural that those unhappy
men, when they heard that the estates of Englishmen were
insecure, unless the estates of the emigrants were restored ;
when they heard that we could not make peace with the re-
publicans, without laying the head of our sovereign on the
block ; when they heard that Great Britain was fighting for
her very existence; it was natural for them to' say, we may
safely risk ourselves in the same bark that carries Cmsar ; we
may venture our fortunes along with that of the British empire.
With these opinions, which they imbibed from speeches de-
livered in this House, the royalists had been drawn from all
parts of France, fully persuaded that they would be cordially
received here. But how have they been duped with ambi-
guous declarations, made purposely to deceive them into an
idea that they were to fight for the restoration of the French
monarchy, and of their own property ; when, in fact, they
were only set on to fight for the fluctuating views of ministers,
who never regarded their personal welfare, or the cause they
wished to support, as an object of real importance ! In this
manner many of the emigrants have been seduced to their.
ruin, and it would be but an act of justice to tell them we arc
not now fighting for the restoration of the French monarchy,
lye are not now fighting for the restoration of your property

our only object now is, to regain the territories we have
lost — we are -fighting only about the conditions of peace.
The question now is, whether ministers have really changed
their sentiments respecting the origin and objects of the war.
If they have, they should prove it by some unequivocal act or
declaration. If they have 'not, as I suspect is the case, then this
House should entreat his majesty to change his councils. I
know it will be said, ” What ! you have been speaking three
/lours, and all for the purpose of procuring a change of minis-
ters, because such a change might be advantageous to yourself."
To this I can only answer, that I never will take a part in the
government, till the principles upon which the present war has

0 4

200 MR. FOX'S MOTION ON THE [May 10.

been made, till the principles upon which our domestic politics
-have been conducted during its continuance, have been cow,
pletely renounced and abandoned; for it is to them that we me
trace the source of all the evils with which we are now afilich .
No minister who commenced and carried on a war, ever made zin
advantageous peace; but if the present ministers expect to prove
an exception to this rule, they should shew that they are seriously
convinced of their past errors; they should renounce the prin-
ciples on which they have acted, before they can hope to put
an end, with safety and honour, to a war which they have
conducted with so much rancour and with so little success.
It has been said, let us persevere a little longer, and we shall
ultimately succeed ; mandlits are as much depreciated now, as
assignats were formerly; France cannot, therefore, continue
the contest long. In answer to this I will only say, look at
the effects of the war upon ourselves, and consider well how
long we shall be enabled to carry it on. Between fifty and
sixty thousand men have already been sent to the West Indies;
the mortality has been great among them, and the advantages
comparatively trifling, for if we have taken Martinique — St.
Vincent's and Grenada are laid waste. The Dutch posses-
sions, it is supposed, will form our chief indemnity at the
peace. I will say little as to the fairness of taking these from

. a nation, to preserve the territory of which we professedly
went to war. I am told, ministers do not now wish the
Stadtholder to be restored ; but I will only remark, that our
extensive colonies in different quarters are already a great
incumbrance to us in time of war; they exhaust our strength,
and if our maritime force shall ever be

• equally opposed by a
hostile power, their possession will be very precarious.

We have, Sir, completely tailed in all the objects for which
the war was commenced. Holland is lost, the King of France
exiled, and the aggrandizement and power of the French

_ is more alarming than ever. Of our allies, the King
of Prussia, who was the first to treat with the French, has
sustained the least injury ; the King of Spain has been forced to
make peace, in order to save his dominions ; and the King of
Sardinia is now in the same predicament,- compelled, for his
own safety, to accept such terms as the directory may cause to
grant. The fate of this monarch, whose good faith was so
loudly extolled in a late debate, who was termed the very pat-
tern of fidelity, most forcibly and unequivocally demonstrates,
that in proportion as every ally of this country, in the present
contest, has been a pattern of fidelity, he has also been an
example of misfortune. The Empress of Russia has indeed
Buffered nothing. It is impossible not to see, that her only
object in the alliance was to plunder

. Poland; in which she


has been collaterally supported by England. This is a mortal
blow to another professed object of the war, the balance of

Will any man believe that the avowed object of thepower.
the destruction of jacobinism in Poland, was the

real cause of dividing that unfortunate country ? And will
any man contend that England and France united, might not
have prevented that transaction, and by that means preserved
the balance of power in Europe ? But Poland was abandoned
to its fate, suffered to be sacrificed, annihilated, destroyed, for
the sake of those absurd and vicious principles, which govern
the policy of ministers, and which have involved us in the
present war. These principles must now be deserted. If the
country is to be saved, we must retrace our steps ; that is the
only course which presents any hope of an effectual cure for
the evil. All other remedies arc mere palliatives, which must
rather prove mischievous than useful. What I recommend
therefore is a complete change of system. Mr. Fox concluded
a speech which lasted nearly four hours by moving,

" That an humble address be presented to his majesty, most
humbly to offer to his royal consideration, that judgment which
his faithful Commons have formed, and now deem it their duty to
declare, concerning the conduct of his ministers in the commence
went, and during the progress, of the present unfortunate war.
As long as it was possible for us to doubt from what source the
national distresses had arisen, we have, in times of difficulty and
peril, thought ourselves bound to strengthen his majesty's govern-
ment, for the protection of his subjects, by our confidence and
support : but our duties, as his majesty's counsellors, and as the
representatives of his people, will no longer permit us to dissem-
ble our deliberate and determined opinion, that the distress, dif-
ficulty, and peril, to which this country is now subjected, have
arisen from the misconduct of the king's ministers ; and are likely
to subsist, and to increase, as long as the same principles, which
have hitherto guided these ministers, shall continue to prevail in
the counsels of Great Britain.

" It is painful to us to remind his majesty of the situation of his
dominions at the beginning of this war, and of the high degree
9E prosperity to which the skill and industry of his subjects
bad, under the safeguard of a free constitution, raised the British
empire, since it can only fill his mind with the melancholy recol-
lection of prosperity abused, and of opportunities of securing per-
manent advantages wantonly rejected. Nor shall we presume to
wound his majesty's benevolence by dwelling on the fortunate con-
sequences which might have arisen from the mediation of GreatBritain between the powers then at war, which might have en-
sured the permanence of our prosperity, while it preserved all
Europe from the calamities which it has since endured ; a media-
l ion which this kingdom was so well fitted to carry on with vigour
and dignity by its power, its character, and the nature of its go-



vernment, happily removed at an equal distance from the contend,
ing extremes of licentiousness and tyranny.

" From this neutral and impartial system of policy, his majesty's
ministers were induced to depart, by certain measures of the
French government, of which they complained as injurious and hos-
tile to this country. With what justice these complaints were made.
we are not now called upon to determine, since it cannot be pre.
tended that the measures of France were of such a nature as to
preclude the possibility of adjustment by negociation ; and it is
impossible to deny, that the power which shuts up the channel of
accommodation must ever be the, real aggressor in war. To reject
negociation is to determine on hostilities ; and whatever may have
been the nature of the points in question between us and France,
we cannot but pronounce the refusal of such an authorised com-
munication with that country, as might have amicably terminated
the dispute, to be the true and immediate cause of the ruptare
which followed. Nor can we fin-bear to remark, that the pretences,
under which his majesty's ministers then haughtily refused such
authorized communication, have been sufficiently exposed, by
their own conduct, in since submitting to a similar intercourse with
the same government.

" The misguided policy, which thus rendered the war inevitable,
appears to have actuated the ministers in their determination to
continue it at all hazards. At the same time we cannot but ob-
serve, that the . obstinacy with which they have adhered to their
desperate system is not more remarkable than their versatility in
the pretexts upon which they, have justified it. At one period the
strength, at another the weakness, of the enemy, have been urged
as motives for continuing the war : the successes as well as defeats
of the allies have contributed only to prolong the contest ; and
hope and despair have equally served to involve us still deeper
in the horrors of war, and to entail upon us an endless train of

" After the original, professed, objects had been obtained, by
the expulsion of the French armies from the territories of Holland
and the Austrian Netherlands, we find his majesty's ministers in-
fluenced either by arrogance or by infatuated ambition and vain
hope of conquests, which, if realized, could never compensate to
the nation for the blood and treasure by which they must be ob-
tained : rejecting, unheard, the overtures made by the executive
council of France, at a period when the circumstances were so
eminently favourable to his majesty and his allies, that there is every
reason to suppose that a negociation, commenced at such a junc-
ture, must have terminated in an honourable and advantageous
peace. To the prospects arising from such an opportunity they
preferred a blind and obstinate perseverance in a war, which could
scarce have any remaining object but the unjustifiable purpose Of
imposing upon France a government disapproved of by the inhabi

-tants of that country. And such was the infatuation of these nu
-nisters, that, far from being able to frame a wise and comprehen•

sive system of policy, they even rejected the few advantages that
belonged to their own unfortunate scheme. The general ex15t°


ice of a design to interpose in the internal government of France
es;.as too manifest not to rouse into active hostility the national zeal
of that people; but their particular projbcts were too equivocal to
attract the confidence, or procure the co-operation, of those
Frenchmen who were aisaffected to the then government of their
country. The nature of these plans was too clear not to provoke
awn:lidab le enemies, but their extent was too ambiguous to conci-
liate useful friends.

"We beg leave farther to represent to your majesty, that at sub-
sequent periods, your ministers have suffered the most favourable
opportunities to escape of obtaining an honourable and advantage-
ous pacification : they did not avail themselves, as it was their duty
to have done, of the unbroken strength of the great confederacy
which had been formed against France, for the purpose of giving
effect to overtures for negociation they saw the secession of seve-
ral powerful states from that confederacy ; they suffered it to dis-
solve without an effcbrt for the attainment of a general pacification :
they loaded their country with the odium of having 6enuaged with
the most questionable views, without availing themselves of that
combination for procuring favourable conditions of peace. That,
from this fatal neglect, the progress of hostilities has only served
to establish the evils which might certainly have been avoided by
negociation, but which are now confirmed by the events of the war.
We have felt that the unjustifiable and impracticable attempts to
establish royalty in France, by force, has only proved fatal to its
unfortunate supporters. We have seen, with regret, the subju-
gation of Holland and the aggrandisement of the French republic ;
and we have to lament the alteration in the state of Europe, not
only from the successes of the French, but from the formidable ac-
quisition of some of the allied powers on the side of Poland ; ac-
quisitions alarming from their magnitude, but still more so from
the manner in which they have been made: so fatally has this war
operated to destroy, in every part of Europe, that balance of
power for the support of which it was undertaken, and to extend
those evils which it was its professed object to avert.

"Most cordially, therefore, did we assure his majesty, this his
faithful Commons heard with the sincerest satisfaction, his majesty's
most gracious message of the 8th of December, wherein his ma-
jesty acquaints them that the crisis, which was depending at the
commencement of the present session, had led to such an order of
things as would induce his majesty to meet any disposition to nego-
elation, on the part of the enemy, with an earnest desire to give it
the fullest and speediest effect, and to conclude a general treaty of
Peace whenever it could be effected on just and suitable terms for

and his allies. That from this gracious communication,
they were led to hope for a speedy termination to this most dis-
astrous contest ; but that, with surprize and sorrow, they have
now reason to apprehend that three months were suffered to elapse
before 'any steps were taken towards a negociation, or any over-
tures made by his majesty's servants.

" With equal surprize and concern they have observed, when alair and open conduct was so peculiarly incumbent on his ma-


[May to.

j esty's ministers, considering the prejudices and suspicions whichtheir previous conduct must have excited in the minds of the French,
that, instead of acting in that open and manly manner which be-
came the wisdom, the character, and dignity, of the British nation,
they adopted a mode of proceeding calulated rather to excite sus,
picion than to inspire confidence in the enemy. Every expres,
lion which might be construed into an acknowledgment of the
French republic, or even an allusion to its forms, was studiously
avoided ; and the minister, through whom this overture was made,
Was, in a most unprecedented manner, instructed to declare,
that he had no authority to enter into any negociation or dis-
cussion relative to the objects of the proposed treaty.

" That it is with pain we reflect, that the alacrity of his majesty's
ministers in apparently breaking off this negociation, as well as the
strange and unusual manner in which it was announced to the mi-
nisters of the various powers of Europe, affords a very unfavour-
able comment on their reluctance in entering upon it, and is cal-
culated to make the most injurious impression respecting their
sincerity, on the people of France.

" On a review of so many instances of gross and flagrant mis-
conduct, proceeding from the same pernicious principles, and di-
rected with incorrigible obstinacy to the same mischievous ends,
we deem ourselves bound in duty to his majesty, and to our con-
stituents, to declare, that we see no rational hope of redeeming
the affairs of the kingdom, but by the adoption of a system radi-
cally and fundamentally different from that which has produced
our present calamities.

" Until his majesty's ministers shall, from a real conviction of
past errors, appear inclined to regulate their conduct upon such a
system, we can neither give any credit to the sincerity of their
professions of a wish for peace, nor repose any confidence in their
capacity for conducting a negociation to a prosperous issue.
Odious as they are to an enemy, who must still believe them
secretly to cherish those unprincipled and chimerical projects,
which they have been compelled in public to disavow, contemptible
in the eyes of all Europe, from the display of insincerity and in-
capacity which has marked their conduct, our only hopes rest on
his majesty's royal wisdom and unquestioned affection for his
people, that he will be graciously pleased to adopt maxims of
policy more suited to the circumstances of the times than those
by which his ministers appear to have been governed, and to
direct his servants to take measures, which, by differing essen-
tially, as well in their tendency as in the principle upon which
they • are founded, from those which have hitherto marked their
conduct, may give this country some reasonable hope, at no
very distant period, of the establishment of a peace, suitable to
the interests' of Great Britain, and likely to preserve the tran-
quillity of Europe."

Mr. Pitt answered. Mr. Fox at great length ; after which,

Mr. Fox said, that though he felt it somewhat unreasonable
again to trespass upon the patience of the House, by claim`



the usual privilege of reply, yet, at this period of the ses-

sion and of the parliament, he was so anxious to have his
sentiments fairly understood, that he would avail himself of
In indulgence which he would not otherwise have required,
and make a few observations on the speech of the right ho-
nourable gentleman. At the beginning of his speech the right
honourable gentleman seemed to dwell, with some degree of

upon an imputed inconsistency which he affected to
in his arguments on a former occasion, when Turkey


endangered by the Empress of Russia, and, in the present


instance, with respect to the recent dismemberment of Poland.
But, was the infamous partition of Poland in any respect to
be compared with the circumstances of Turkey at the period
alluded to? The Turks, after an unprovoked aggression,
were humbled by the power of the empress, and he had re-

the idea of the arrogant interference of this country
to prevent her from obtaining that indemnification to which
she was entitled. He had said, that if the concurrence of
France, in a. situation to act with effect, could have been ob-
tained, he would have advised our interposition to prevent
that horrible injustice, the infamous partition of Poland ; a
measure which would have been justified by a due regard to the
balance of Europe. The right honourable gentleman how-
ever seemed to consider the balance of power as very little
affected, because the division which took place among the
three different states concerned in the transaction was so equal
as to preserve that relation of strength which they mutually
held to one another. This argument, upon its own principle,
could only be good, if the division had been so exact al-to
preserve the proportion, not in any three, but in all the
states of Europe, by assigning a correspondent share to each.
But when a minister went so far as to overlook the injus-
tice of a few

ts ilea o

wealth rnnd d



in swallowing up the possessions&iiatti Id destroying the independence of the little surroundino
.., zpstates, and to sanction that robbery- which kings iniomightfina

y to practise, merely because the plunder was equally
divided amongst the guilty, there was an end at once of the

balance of Europe. But what was the injustice and the in-

of this partition, how formidable the danger to thebalance of Europe, when it was considered that the popu-
onourable as equal to that of this country, and its

natural n aa resources great and important ! It was,
hindeeds a terrible principle, which was advanced by the


gentleman, that (no matter for this injustice) thebalance of power remains the same, as those states, who have
"`'Ided the plunder, have_ maintained in this new accession

the proportion of strength they previously held to one

With regard to what had been called his special pleading
on the subject of the communication between the French
government and certain societies in this country, he would
still ask, how it was possible for us, without acknowledf,
ing the French republic then established, to found any 1110',
ceedings upon those communications, or to take any offence
at the conduct pursued by the French, without referring
it to the government, and stating it as a ground of dissa-
tisfaction? It was certainly true, that he did consider the
minister, in 1792, as sincere in his wish for the continuance
of peace. The right honourable gentleman had said, that
this confession supported the presumption that ministers
bad not gone to war precipitately. 'What he meant to
show, however, was, that the general effects of the Revo-
lution in France were not the causes of the war; for, at the time
when ministers expressed pacific intentions and hopes, many
of the events so much insisted upon, had taken place, and he
wished to confine the real causes to the three points which he
had mentioned. The right honourable gentleman said, that
at the beginning of the war the success was such as to justify
the hopes they entertained. This was precisely what he had
intended to illustrate, that, whether good or bad success oc-
curred, the argument for the continuance of the war derived
equal support with ministers from either event. At the end of
1793, it was said, that proposals for negotiation would have
been humiliating, and would have produced an offer of terms,
which it would have been disgraceful to accept. But did the
right honourable gentleman recollect the language he held,
and even announced from the throne, with regard to the events
of 1793, when he said that the campaign had been as brilliant
as could have been expected, and equal to the most glorious
campaigns of the war of 1763 ? The support of monarchy in
France was justified as a desirable object of policy for the
purpose of dividing the French, and as a means of promoting
the security of this country. On the first point he presumed
to differ, and he considered the support held out by thus
country to monarchy in France as one of the causes of that
union which had prevailed among the French. -With regard
to security, it was a vague, indefinite object, nor was it easY
to know to what it related. He understood, that at the col'
mencement of the war, the establishment of monarchy OS
left out of the question ; nothing but atonement and satisfac'
tion were the topics insisted upon, arid it could only be fr°',11
the existing government that this satisfaction could be obtainen'
and for which purpose it was also necessary that the govern'



went should be recognized. With regard to La Fayette, he
,vas sorry that the right honourable gentleman, who found
Himself obliged so often to interfere in continental affairs, on
an occasion like this, possessed so little influence. But what
could he say with respect to the treatment experienced by
I. Alexander Lameth in this country ? The right honourable

gentleman said, that whatever might have been the conduct
of ministers, this House was not the place where he was to give
nay explanation. He had execrated the bill under which
ministers had acted, on its first introduction"', and had fore-
told the abuses that would be committed, which lie now found
to be realized. But it was then said, that the bill inferred a
responsibility on ministers for their conduct under it ; if so,
ministers had incurred responsibility, and this was the proper
place to inquire into the subject. He asked, then, for what

M. Alexander Lameth was sent away ? That gentleman
had been a constitutionalist, many of whom were employed by
reason ei

us, and those alone were treated with harshness, who would not
draw their swords against their native country. If any man
was deserving of particular respect and attention, it was the
man who had been the zealous assertor of limited monarchy,
who had been thrown unjustly into a Prussian dungeon, and
his health greatly impaired ; and yet he was marked out to
Europe as the severest victim of our persecution, and as an ex-
ample to those who should refuse to fight against their country.
It was said, that the effect of the motion was humiliating —
but for whom ? Not for-the country, which he wished to se-
parate from ministers as much as possible, but for ministers
alone. But it was said, that the war had been approved by par-
liament, and sanctioned by repeated votes. But did the right.
honourable gentleman recollect, that in 1782, when the Ameri-
can war drew near a conclusion, it too had been sanctioned by
repeated votes, and supported by very great majorities? In the
course of his reading that morning, lie had found in the works
of his deceased friend Mr. Gibbon, an observation, that during
that war the sense of the people without doors, which had ori-
ginally been favourable to it, began to turn ; yet the Houle
of Commons followed the change of public opinion, hod passi-
bus CC quis, —a remark, historical with regard to the past,
Which might have been prophetic with regard to the present.

By submitting his present propositions, he wished to give
the people of this country an opportunity of rescuing their
character from any share in the guilt which ministers had in-
curred. The right honourable gentleman had talked:of the

See Mr. Fox's Speeches on the Alien Bill, Vol, v. p. r.

2 o 8 .MR. FOX'S MOTION, &C. [May. :'o;

derangement of the French finances ; but if the right honour.
able gentleman reasoned from cause to effect, might notlie
reason from effect to cause, and, from the astonishing vigour
and success of the military operations of the French, conclude
that their finances either had not been deranged in the degree
alleged, or were now re-established ? It was said, that no an.
theistic accounts. were received. of the late successes ; but, he
believed, little doubt could be entertained of their truth.
It was little doubtful that the French had an army of . o,000
men in Italy, and he was persuaded, that when the Ger.
man accounts, on which the right honourable gentleman
relied so much, arrived, the army of the French would pro.
bably be stated to be more numerous. It was urged, that for-
merly it had been admitted by opposition, that if prop°.
sitions of peace should be made, and not accepted, the elfect
would be to divide the French, and unite the people of
this country. But surely it was understood, when this ob-
servation was made, that proposals were to be made in such
a way as to have a fair chance of success.

•As to what the right honourable gentleman had said of
Mr. Wickham's communication, he had made the best defence
of the conduct of the French; for was it to be expected that
any attention would he paid to a man who had no sanction
from the allies with whom we were connected, nor any autho-
rity to make specific proposals; or would the right honourable
gentleman have caused the correspondence with Mr. Wick7
ham, which was of a private nature, to be published, or have
published any private communications that might have been
made from the French, had he been serious in his desire of
pacification ? With regard to terms, certainly sonic atten-
tion should have been paid to the prejudices of the French.
If the right honourable gentleman reprobated the'conduct of
France, in not coining forward with proposals, why did he
not avoid the conduct which he considered to be presump-
tuous in them ? There might be reasons of policy which de-
termined the French to adhere in appearance to the principle
of annexation of the conquered provinces, as there the war was
to be carried on, and it night be prudent to consult the in-
clinations of the inhabitants of those provinces. This he
thought probable, but he stated it only from conjecture. He
certainly considered the recognition of the French republic
as of the last importance, and much more necessary as a pre"
liminary than the conditional recognition of America, duriuhr
the last war. Though the French, acknowledged by almost all
Europe, and triumphant in their military career, might not
condescend to complain. of the circumstance of not being r e

-cognized they.would feel and resent the indignity. II the


French had talked of the British nation, without any notice
of his majesty or the government, would not the right ho-
nourable gentleman have dwelt on this as a proof of their
insincerity in their desire of peace ? Since tile French had
bestowed upon the various republics of Genoa, Venice, Berne,
8:e. their titles of Magnifique Doge, &c. they had been upon
better terms with these states. The French, therefore, felt
from his conduct, that the minister discovered no serious in-
clination for peace. Much as he disliked the system of an-
nexation which the French professed, still he thought that


fair chance had not been given to -any proposals for nego-
ciation. He wished the House to come to some resolution
which would bring forward a different system of measures.
Of the finances he had said little. He reprobated the prac-
tice of comparing the state of our finances with tile exhausted ,
situation of the enemy, and thereby deriving arguments for
perseverance. He was sensible that our resources were great,
and he was happy to consider them in that light; but the
efirts which the French had made, should convince us that
their resources were not exhausted.

The House then divided:


yE s IVIr. Whitbread /
42. ------ NOES

r. Sargent
Smyth 1

Jur.I Gen. TarletonSo it passed in the negative.


October 6.

THE king opened the first session of the new parliament with
the following speech to both Houses :

" My Lords, and Gentlemen ; it is a peculiar satisfaction to me,thepresent
conjuncture of affairs, to recur to your advice, afterLie recent opportunity which has been given for collecting the

sense of my people, engaged in a difficult and- arduous contest,rer the preservation of all that is most dear to us. — I have omittedihlo endeavours for setting on foot negociations to restore peace toturope
, and to secure for the future the general tranqulillity.

The Steps which I have taken for this purpose have at ength

oleL.d .e way to an immediate and direct negotiation, the issue,
' Which must either produce the desirable end of a just, honour-


able, and solid peace for us, and for our allies, or must prove, be-
yond dispute, to what cause alone the prolongation of the ealanii.
ties of war must be ascribed. — I shall immediately send a person
to Paris with full powers to treat for• this object, and it is my aux.
ions wish that this measure may lead to the restoration of general
peace : but you must be sensible that nothing can so much contri.
bute to give effect to this desire, as your manifesting that we
possess, both the determination and the resources to oppose,
with increased activity and energy, the farther efforts with
which we may have to contend.— You will feel this peculiarly ne-
cessary at a moment when the enemy has openly manifested the
intention of attempting a descent on these kingdoms. It cannot
be doubted what would be the issue of such an enterprise ; but it
befits your wisdom to neglect no precautions that may either pre.
elude the attempt, or secure the speediest means of turning it to
the confusion and ruin of the enemy.— In reviewing the events of
the year, you will have observed that, by the skill and. exertions
of my navy, our extensive and increasing commerce has been pro-
tected to a degree almost beyond example, and the fleets of the
enemy have, for the greatest part of the year, been blocked up in
their own ports. --The operations in the East and West Indies
have been highly honourable to the British arms, and productive
of great national advantage; and the valour and good conduct of
my forces both by sea and land, have been eminently conspicuous..
— The fortune of war on the continent has been more various,
and the progress of the French armies threatened, at one period,
the utmost danger to all Europe; but from the honourable and
dignified perseverance of my ally the emperor, and from the intre-
pidity, discipline, and invincible spirit of the Austrian forces, un-
der the auspicious conduct of the Archduke Charles, such a turn
has lately been given to the course of the war, as may inspire a
well-grounded confidence that the final result of' the campaign will
prove more disastrous to the enemy ,than its commencement and
progress for a time were favourable to their hopes.— The appa-
rently hostile dispositions and conduct of the court of Madrid
have led to discussions of which I am not yet enabled to acquaint
you with the final result ; but I am confident that whatever may be
their issue, I shall have given to Europe a farther proof of my
moderation and forbearance ; and " I can have no doubt of your
determination to defend, against every aggression, the dignity,
rights, and interests of the British empire.

" Gentlemen of the House of Commons ; I rely on your zeal
and public spirit for such supplies as you may think necessary for
the service of the year. It is a great satisfaction to me to ob-
serve that, notwithstanding the temporary embarrassments which
have been experienced, the state of the commerce, manufactures,
and revenue of the country, proves the real extent and solidity 01
our resources, and furnishes you such means as must be equal 1°
any exertions which the present crisis may require.

" My Lords, and Gentlemen ; the distresses which were in
the last year experienced from the scarcity of corn are now, by. Ole
blessing of God, happily removed, and an abundant harvest afford


2 I I

the pleasing prospect of relief in that important article to the la-

community. Our internal tranquillity has

eirbed. The general attachment of my people
abiosourcholgra classess

i its];

to the ish constitution has appeared on every occasion, and
the endeavours of those who wished to introduce anarchy and con-
fusion into this country, have been repressed by the energy and
wisdom of the laws. — To defeat all the designs of our enemies, to
restore to my people the blessings of asecure and honourable peace,
to maintain inviolate their religion, laws, and liberty, and to deliver
down unimpaired to the latest posterity, the glory and happiness
of these kingdoms, is the constant wish of my heart, and the uni-
form end of all my actions. In every measure that can conduce to
these objects, I am confident of receiving the firm, zealous, and
affectionate support of my parliament."—After an address in
answer to the speech had been moved by Lord Morpeth, and
seconded by Sir William Lowther,

Mr. Fox rose, and spoke to the following effect — It is
not, Sir, my intention to take up much of your time in what
I have to offer to the House on the present occasion ; but if I
were to give a silent vote upon the motion which has just been
made, I apprehend that my conduct might be subject to mis-
construction. I know that it may undoubtedly be considered
as presumption in an individual to take up any portion of the
attention of the House, merely to obviate the possibility of
misinterpretation, yet I feel that I should not do justice to my
own principles, if I were to sniffer the question to pass under
a silent vote. In the first place, then, the striking feature of
the speech is — that his majesty has been at length advised to
do what it has fallen to my lot to advise his majesty's mini-
sters to do repeatedly for the last three years, namely, to
open a negotiation; this, which is the leading feature of the
speech, ought undoubtedly to reconcile me to the address
which has been moved, and I should be happy if it contained

. no other features of a -less pleasing inspect, and that I could
have given my entire approbation to every part of the address.
Of that striking feature I most cordially and highly approve.

cannot forget how often I have advised this measure, nor
flow often, without success, I have pressed it upon ministers;but h

owever I may lament that the counsel was not taken
before a hundred millions of money had been spent, and thou-
sands of lives devoted to the cruel contest, yet it must drawfrom

me my warm approbation now that it has been followed.
‘1,-Ie who thought that the war was originally unnecessary, andat every moment since its commencement was a proper mo-


Loi ent for beginning a negotiation for peace, cannot object to
measure which his majesty has announced that he hasbeen advised to take in the present moment. I will not sayo

Ile word about the particular and the fit time for such a
P 2

measure, all times appearing to me to be equally wise and
salutary for endeavouring to restore to the people the blessings
of peace. Nor will I recollect, much less retaliate, the per,
sonal invectives that were thrown out against myself; that an
attempt to negociate with such a people, was to lay his majesty's
crown at their feet, and that it was a degradation of the ho.
nour and dignity of Great Britain; that to propose to- open
a negociation was, in fact, to sue for peace ; and that such

language of the last parliament, and such was tliteua,iiltlinci
conduct vaswas neither dignified nor political. Such was the

contentsion made on the advice which I t en gave.
myself with repeating what I then said, that " to propose
negociation is not to sue for peace." It is at every moment

b •dignified and proper to strive to restore the blessings of peace,
and it is certainly one thing to propose a negociation in which
terms arc to be fairly and manfully discussed, and another to
sue to your enemy for peace. He who objects to this dis•
tinction is not animated by that feeling which ought ever to
be uppermost in the mind of a statesman — an anxious desire
of shortening the calamity of war, and paving the way, by
every practicable means to that desirable end. He ought,
therefore, to make it manifest by his conduct, that no career
of conquest and no reverse of fortune, can divert him from
that single object — a negociation for peace in preference
to any other object. I repeat, therefore, that I most per-
fectly and entirely approve of the present measure, and will
not now mix my assent to that part of the address, with any
observation on the tardy and protracted manner in which it
has at length been resolved upon.

And thus approving of the principal feature of the address,
I am extremely unwilling to oppose any other part of it, and
wish that it had been so worded as to have entitled it to the
perfect unanimity of the whole house. There are some ex-
pressions, however, of which I must take notice, and I 01
do so rather with the intention of explaining the vote which
I shall give, than of moving any thing upon them. And
first, in the beginning of the speech there is an express
sion that his majesty has " omitted no endeavours" to open eine
gociation ; now, unless by the words " omitted no endeavours,
it is meant to say that every endeavour has been used since
the close of the last parliament, we ought not to agree to the
expression ; for undoubtedly ministers cannot expect that
gentlemen, who like myself; objected so frequently to !het/
refusal to exert any effort at all, should now acquiesce 10
assertion that they had used every endeavour to bring about
a negociation. Unless, therefore, it is meant to allude to the
endeavours which his majesty has made since the close °'


2,13.11796'1 RES

the last parliament, endeavours which I am willing to take
upon trust, I desire that it may be clearly understood that I
ain not to be precluded by my vote this night from animal-

upon his majesty's ministers for their former want of
'erte]rtlt'eilgavours to bring about a negociation for peace.

There is much, Sir, that deserves praise in the construc-
tion of the present speech. Ministers have omitted the words
to which they have been so bigotted heretofore, of the war-
having been undertaken for " the cause of religion, humanity,
and social order," words calculated only to inflame and to
exasperate the two nations against each other, and to set the
probability of peace at a greater distance ; neither have
they asserted their constant and unfounded phrase, that "the
war was just and necessary." They have acted wisely in thus
abstaining from intemperate language; for surely at a time
when they are about to negociate for a peace, it would have
been peculiarly ill-judged and unseasonable, to have made use
of language repulsive and bitter to the people with whom you.
had to treat; nor would it have been wise to introduce
words calculated to prevent unanimity in this House, upon
the course which his majesty has been slowly advised to
pursue; since with respect to the necessity of the war, and
all the jargon of epithets that have been applied to it, there
must always continue to be a fundamental difference of

There are other parts of the speech, which, perhaps, de-
mand a little explanation, and which if we pass over for the
time, it is to be understood that we are left at full liberty to
enquire and to question the assertions hereafter; such is thedeclaration of the flourishing state of our manufactures, trade,
and commerce. I must take this upon trust. I cannot object
to the assertion of a fact, the proofs of which I have not
before me. We shalt soon have the means of knowing, upon
better authority than mere assertion, the state of the country ;
and I trust it will turn out to be prosperous and flourishing.
VIII' agreeing to the assertion in the mean time, must not be
construed to preclude us from enquiry, much less to involve


it:igs:ut. When I hear it said, that by the flourishing state
of our manufactures, .trade, and commerce, our resources aretehqu pllboat rthe crisis in which we are involved, I must hesitate

credit to an assertion which is so little supported by
lc appearance of things. I must think, when I look

at the price of the general funds of the country, the state of
th e transferable securities of government, the monstrousdiscounts upon the enormous quantity of paper which theyhay •

e issued, together with the daily conferences of which weh
ear for schemes to relieve the pecuniary embarrassments of

P 3


trade, I must think, I say, that our resources are in a less
favourable state than his majesty's ministers have chosen to
make us believe they are; and when the question comes
hereafter fairly before us, then, and not now, will be the
proper moment for ascertaining the truth of this important
fact, and of making the proper declaration thereon.

There is one other part of the address, I believe it is nearly,
if not the concluding sentence, upon which I cannot forbear
to make some observations; it is that part of it in which we
are made to rejoice in the general tranquillity of the country;
a sentiment in which I heartily concur, for tranquillity at all
times is a most desirable thing; but when we proceed farther
and hear this tranquillity ascribed to the wisdom and energy
of' the laws, insinuating that the laws which were passed in
the last session of the last parliament have secured to us this
tranquillity, and triumphed over anarchy and confusion, I
must enter my solemn protest against the whole of this asser-
tion, and against all such assertions. I have never been
convinced that there were any such persons in this country,
or at least that there were any number of persons in this
country desirous of anarchy and confusion, worthy of the
attention of' his majesty, or of this House ; I therefore must
solemnly protest against the insinuation, that it is to the
energy of those laws that we are indebted for the general
tranquillity that is said to have reigned. General tranquillity
arising out of the obedience which a rational people cheer-
fully pay to good Jaws, must always be a subject of real re-joicing; but, if it is meant to be said, that general tranquillityleas sprung out of the two laws of the last session of the last
parliament —laws which ought to be the object of our terror
and abhorrence, and which are calculated to excite these
feelings I cannot rejoice in any such tranquillity. Should I
be asked, have these laws produced tranquillity ? I answer,
No : it is not in the nature of such laws to produce tran-
quillity. Such laws may produce a forced quiet, which I
consider as a real alarm. Do we rejoice in such a tranquillity
where discussion is to be stifled, and men are to brood Iii
secret over the grievances which they feel ? No : such a tran-
quillity alarms me more than tumult. It is a tranquillity
which every man who loves freedom ought to see with pain

every man who loves order ought to see with tarron
Sir, to the constitution no man can feel a stronger attac h

-merit than myself; but I will not sport with the word con-
stitution; I will not use the word without explaining h : InY
attachment is to the constitution under which I was born--
under which I was bred --not to that of the last parliament'
which did more to maim and disfigure the ancient constitution

not join


of England than any former parliament that
. ever sat withinl walls. Let me then, Sir, be clearly understood, that I

l in this insinuation of praise upon these abomin-


nor ascribe to them effects which I believe inap-
i Much as I wish for a general approbation of the

measure of endeavouring to procure peace to this country,
yet,r I should think it was purchased at too dear a rate, if
coupled with the approbation of these abhorrent laws; and
I have thought it my duty to say so much, that my vote may
net be misinterpreted into an acquiescence of this part of the

adIdia'ers.ns one, Sir, who thinks that the whole system of our
foreign politics, on which this war was undertaken, has been
faulty : I think also, that springing from the same source,
our whole system of domestic policy has been equally Entity;

have run on together in a parallel progress, and have
produced all the varied calamities which the people have
been doomed to suffer. I think, therefore, that whatever
may be the result of the negotiation which his majesty has
been at length advised to open, still it will be the duty of this
House seriously to re-consider the system which has produced
these evils, and to devise the means of preventing similar evils
in future. Peace, I own to be our great object, the first,
the chief thing to be pursued, and if possible, to be obtained :
but whether peace itself; without such a review and such a
change of system as may protect us in future from such
calamities, can restore us to our former condition, may be a
matter of doubt. Peace would certainly be beneficial, even
accompanied by the .bad system that has lately been intro-
duced. Peace might enable the people a little longer to
endure the evils with which that system is fraught ; it might
render it a little less pernicious on account of the advantages
which would flow from the revival of industry and trade ;
and therefore, at all events, let us have peace ; but let it be
thoroughly understood, that in the one case it will only be a
palliative, in the other a remedy. Peace certainly is the
chief object : it is preferable to any single object of policy ; but
whether peace will be effectual, if there be no change in
our domestic politics, may be a matter of doubt. Peace, there-
fore, shall have my cordial support, and every measure, like
the present, that leads to the desirable event, or that makes
an opening towards it, ought to be received with unanimity
by all descriptions of men.

The noble lord who moved the address with so much credit,
as to justify the House in entertaining the most promising
expectations of him, (and the noble lord well knows that it
must at all times afford me peculiar pleasure to see him diS-

P 4


•tinguish himself as he has done this evening,) — the noble
lord, I say, went a little farther than the speech from. the
throne, and in speaking of the proper period for negociation,
said, that " the present government of France, possessing sta.
biiity, possessing security, was a proper government to
gociate with." If you treat with a power, you ought to speak
with respect of that power. It is therefore that I approve of
the noble lord's sentiment; for it must have struck him, as
it must strike every sensible person, that if you mean to
negociate with the French government, you ought to speak
with respect and civility of the executive directory. I wish
that something more of this kind had been introduced into
the speech and the address. I do not mean to say that it was
necessary to state the stability and security of the present go.
vernment of France; but after all the jealousies and per-
sonalities that have been entertained, I should have expected
that his majesty would have told us to whom he was sending
a person; and if not to what government, at least to what
country. I should have expected, that if in our differences
with Holland, his majesty had sent a person on a mission to
the Hague, he would have made mention of the States
General. I did expect, therefore, that he would, in this
case, have told us, that he meant to send a person to the
executive directory of the French republic. I perceive gen-
tlemen on the other side of the House laugh at this expres-
sion. Are the members of the executive directory so obscure,
that if they had not been named, we should not have known
to whom we had been sending a person ? It is on this ac-
count that I thought the sentiment expressed by the noble
lord, respecting the present government of France, a proof
of his good sense. I know it may be said, that-men are apt
to be tenacious of their own opinions; that I have carried
the opinions I expressed during the American war into this
war, and that, as in the former instance, I supported the
recognition of American independence, I have in the latter
supported the recognition of the French republic. This may
be the case ; but I must contend, that it. is agreeable to
common sense, that when you enter into a negociation, there
may be points which are not of a nature to be insisted upon
by the power negotiated with, but which are calculated to
conciliate esteem, or if you will, to gratify the pride of such
a power ; that the executive directory are in such a situation
as to have their pride hurt by the omission of such points,: I
do not believe; but if I were negotiating with any gentleman,
I should certainly take care not to do any thing that might
seem to be a purposed omission, or a calling in question of
any of the titles and dignities by which ,such gentleman was


distinguished. If these things were omitted in the speech
from mere inadvertency, I shall be extremely glad to find that

ere is no other cause. But they are material in another

of view. That the negociation may be successful, I

'sincerely hope; but if unfortunately it should not, much would
have been gained by an attention to these things; they would
have served to have convinced the people that the nature of
the contest was changed,. and that all ideas of restoring the

old government of France, or of interfering in the internal
affairs of that country, had been abandoned. I am sure that
this would have produced the greatest advantages, on the
supposition that the war was to be prolonged; upon this sub-
ject, however, I do not mean to press any alteration in the
address, because, if omitted by accident, I will not thwart
the prosecution of the main object by my remark; they might
refuse my amendment, though convinced of their own error,
from an unwillingness to be so corrected; and this is not the
moment in which I shall endeavour to throw any thing that
may be construed into a check upon their conduct. It is my
wish to leave them full powers; and therefore I mention the
circumstance without meaning to move any amendment in
consequence of .it.

On the subject of the situation of this country with respect
to Spain I shall say nothing, because his majesty has in-
thrmed us that he is not yet enabled to acquaint us with the
issue of the discussions that have been entered into with that
power. Ministers say that their conduct has been forbearing:
I hope it will be proved so. I hope, too, that the country
will learn by the severe lesson which the American.war, and
the present

- war, have afforded them, that moderation and
forbearance are the characteristics most fitting a great nation,

• the most consistent with true magnanimity. I own I
was sanguine enough to suppose that the American war had
taught them .

experience— I was mistaken ; a second lesson
of adversity was necessary ; a second lesson they have had,
and I trust it will prove effectual. On the differences with
tSbilini, I


shall, as I have before stated, say nothing; it is not

affbrds a proof of the short-sightedness of human w.

now the period to look back, a retrospect must come, but
not at present; yet the very apprehension of a war with Spain
is1:111 ei. f time when we entered into the war, Spain and Prussia
were our firmest allies. Now, however, we are to expect,

the war be 'continued, we are to have an enemy in
Of Prussia I hear nothing, but I may at least sup-

fp,roosie that we have no reason to expect any great assistance
- ,

n iatpower. It has been saki that experience may be
bought too dear; as we have paid so dear a price for it, let


us at least have the benefits of it, and let us go to negotiation
with moderation and forbearance. Of the terms of peace I
purposely avoid saying any thing. I know the resources of
the country to be still great, and sure I am, that if the people
arc convinced that the ambition of France renders it Metes.
sary to employ force and to continue the war, those resources
will be afforded with the utmost readiness. What are likely
to be the terms of peace, I will not even conjecture. What
hitherto has been done can only be considered as an overture
towards that desirable object; but I have no difficulty in say.
ing, that we ought to negotiate in the spirit of great moder-
ation. By the spirit of great moderation, I do not mean that we
ought to accept degrading terms, but I 'will not hesitate to
say, that I should be inclined to find less fault with terms that
may be faulty on the side of moderation, than faulty from a
contrary principle.

With regard to the Austrian victories which make a topic
of animated exultation in his majesty's speech, it may cer-
tainly be right to rejoice in the gallantry they have displayed,
and the laurels they have recently acquired. No man ad-
mires their great military exertions more than I do; but let
it be recollected, that we arc called upon to rejoice on their
having recovered only a part of what was lost in this cam-
paign, and that it is not because they have reaped successes,
calculated to obtain what ministers themselves originally stated
the object of the war to be, but because they have saved the
house of Austria from the utter destruction with which it
was threatened ; while we rejoice, I presume we can hardly
flatter ourselves that the Austrians are likely to recover all
that they have lost in the present campaign, much less what
they have lost in all the campaigns that are past; and even
this, Sir, must furnish a new subject for reflection, which the
achievements of our navy still farther serve to corroborate:
the achievements of that navy have been brilliant and glorious;
at no former period have they displayed greater gallantry/
and never perhaps equal skill. No eulogiums can be too,
high for their merits. Yet after all this, the character of
the peace which we are desirous to obtain, and the utmost
we can expect, is, that it shall be solid and of permanent
duration : this, I believe, is as high a character as the peace
is likely to deserve. Then what must be the sort of conflict;
in which we are engaged, in which, — after a four yeas
successful exertion of all the skill and all the valour of 011;
navy, in which they have invariably conquered, and carrier
the flag of England triumphant to every quarter of the
world — all our efforts cannot produce to, us a peace either,
brilliant or glorious, but we must content ourselves Wit'



/loping for a peace that may he solid and permanent ? Must
we not own that there is something in the cause in which we
lire engaged radically defective, that palsies our efforts, and
disappoints our strength ? that there is something which de-
wands from the common sense and from the prudence of
Englishmen, a strict and a rigorous investigation, that we
may discover what this something is, not merely to retrieve
the present calamity, but to guard our offspring against the
error in future ? A day will come for such a question ; and
I give my assent to the present address, without moving any
amendment upon the points of which I do not cordially
approve, because when the day of such a discussion does
come, I shall have an opportunity to state the sentiments
that I think it important for the House to entertain upon
those points. 'With this reserve for a future day of discus-.
sion, I shall not oppose the present address.

The address was carried nein. con.


October 18.
-rHE House having resolved itself into a committee of the whole
I House, to consider of the paragraph of his majesty's speech

to both Houses on the 6th instant, which relates to the enemy's
having manifested an intention of attempting a descent on these
kingdoms, Mr. Pitt opened his plan for repelling the designed, as
well as future attempts. For this purpose, he formed a plan for
levying Ig,000 men from the different parishes for the sea service,
and another for recruiting the regular regiments. In the pro-
jected levies for the land service, he considered two objects; first,
the means of calling together a land force sufficient of itself to
repel an invasion, even independently of our naval armaments ;
and, secondly, to adopt such measures in the levies as should not
materially interfere with the agriculture, commerce, and general
Industry of this kingdom. The primary object was to raise, and
gradually train, such a force as might in a short time be fit for
rervice. For this purpose he proposed a supplementary levy of
Militia, to be grafted on the old establisment, of the number of
60,000 men ; not to be immediately called out, but to be enrolled,
officered, and completely trained, so as to be fit for service at a
moment of daager. He also proposed to provide a considerableforce of irregular cavalry, to be levied in the following milliner:
every person who kept ten horses, should be obliged to provide
one horse, and one horseman, to serve in a corps of militia; and ,


those who kept more than ten, should provide in the same propo
tion ; and that those that kept fewer than ten, were to form the
selves into classes, in which it should be decided by ballot, who,
at the common expense, should provide the horse and the horse-
man : these troops were to be furnished with unifiirm and accou.
trements, arranged into corps, and put under proper officers. The
whole number of cavalry proposed to be raised by this mode was
2o,000: the other supplemental troops amounted to 75,000 men._
Mr. Sheridan said, he did. not mean to oppose the resolutions ; he
wished only to have some farther explanation, -and to be informed,
whether the real object of all our military preparations was not the
extension of our colonial possessions in the 'West Indies? — After
Mr. Dundas had spoken in defence of Mr. Pitt's proposition,

Mr. Fox rose and spoke to the following effect: In this
stage of the business it does not appear to me to be the duty
of any man to make an opposition to the measure now pro-
posed. But even in this stage of it I have no difficulty
saying, that from the sense I have of the general plan, there
are many parts of it, to the adoption of which no eloquence
is likely to reconcile me. The right honourable secretary.
who spoke last had been pleased to say in answer to the
observations of my honourable friend, that although the
French in case of an invasion may land no cavalry, yet it is
proper that we should be provided with cavalry to oppose
them. My honourable friend's observation did not call for
this sort of answer. The right honourable gentleman ob-
serves, that at all events this country : ought to make great
preparations at home, and that he is • satisfied, that if we
should be under the necessity of going on with the war, these
preparations may be very beneficial to us in many respects.
I object to the generality of this mode of speaking, because
it conveys to us no specific information, and is likely, from
being just in the abstract, to entrap some into an approbation
of measures which may lead to consequences of which persons
so approving are not .aware. That if we are compelled ti
go on with war, great preparations will be necessary, is a
truth which nobody disputes; but it is a truth which con-
veys to us no information. It is applicable to this war, was
applicable to the last, and will be applicable to every war.
The right honourable gentleman should have applied his
reasoning a little more closely; he should have come to the
proposition which is now before the House. The question
is this: — is the proposition before us fit to be adopted under
our present circumstances? If it be, then I say, that, for any
evidence that appears before us, it was fit in 756, was fit ill
1778, fit in 1794, and has always been fit in every period in
which this country has been engaged in ware. But, for •the

whole necessity of the measure, we have only the authority of
the kings ministers, on which I do not choose to rely. I
should have been unwilling to rely, in the last war, on the
authority of much better ministers than the present, and to
make that authority a foundation for such propositions as the
present. It is not by the authority of ministers, but by the-
striking exigency of a particular moment, that parliament
arc justified in adopting particular and extraordinary mea-
sures. I beg the committee will attend to this, and reflect on
all that has been said upon it by the right honourable the
chancellor of the exchequer ; they will then see that he has
dealt in nothing but generality; which, if considered as proof,
proves a great deal too much for the purpose of the right
honourable gentleman, for it proves that this species of defence
is applicable to this country in every war, since he has not
distinguished the exigency of the present moment, from that
of any other in which this country has had the misfortune to
be engaged in war. This is one in addition to the very many
instances which his majesty's ministers have given of their
great eloquence in urging general arguments without any
specific applicability, in which they are eminently skilful,
when it is their object to take money from the people, and
to increase the power of the crown. The right honourable
secretary has thought fit to pronounce a panegyric on the last
parliament, and to recommend its conduct for the imitation
of this. My opinion of the last parliament is, that it has
done more mischief to the real welfare of this country than
any other that ever sat since a parliament was ever known
or recognized in England; at least, since parliaments had any
credit for

attendinu to the interests of the people. To hold

it up, therefore, as an object of imitation, is enough to con-
ofound any man who feels for the principles of freedom; —a

parliament which has clone more to destroy every thing that
is dear to us, than in better days would have entered into the
mind of any Englishman to attempt, or even to conceive.
Slim me a parliament, in consequence of whose proceedings
the people have been drained so much, and from which they

have had so little benefit ! Shew me a parliament since the
ear 1688, the wra of our Revolution, that has diminished the

rights, the best, the dearest rights of the people, so shamelessly,
so wickedly, as the last parliament have done ! Shew me apa

rliament since that period that has so uniformly, so stu-
diously sacrificed the liberty of the subject to increase the
influence of government, as the last parliament have done !
,To make it the subject of panegyric — to state its proceed-
tugs to be such as to be worthy of imitation, is beyond en-durance. Sir, I consider the last parliament as a curse to

2'22 INVASION — [Oct. 1 8

this country. The leading principle on which they acted
was that which leads directly to complete despotism —un_
limited confidence in the ministers of the crown. Shew
a parliament since the Revolution, that has given such a con-
fidence, and look at the effect of such practice. This is the
only war that has ever been conducted on the part of this
country, in which there never has been one inquiry on the
part of parliament. You see to what state that has led you
already. Should this parliament be like the last (God in his
mercy avert it I) this country will soon be in a condition, in
which it will be of little importance, whether they have a
parliament or not. But for the conduct of the last parlia-
ment we should not have heard of the measure which is 110\V
proposed to us.

I know I may be told that I often speak intemperately, and
that I do so now, but I speak as I feel, and I think it is im-
possible for any man to feel more strongly than I do at the
present situation of this country. Ministers tell us, that the
measure which they • now propose is necessary to our safety.
If it be so, it is their own conduct and the conduct of a con-
fiding parliament, which has brought us into that situation.
And what is tile measure which they now propose ? Why,
it is, in its nature, a requisition; an imitation , of the system
of the French, against which so many vehement declamations
have been pronounced : against the principle, applying it to a
settled state, justly; but as against the French, in their condition,
in my opinion, improperly, or at least in too unqualified a man-
ner. Ministers now tell us, however, that our situation is
such as to call for this measure. Granting it to be so for the
sake of the argument only, I would then ask, what has brought
us into that situation ? To this I answer, without the least
difficulty, the confidence, the criminal confidence, of the last
parliament. One inevitable effect of that confidence of par-
liament in the minister has been the want of the confidence
of tile people in the integrity of parliament. The right ho-
nourable secretary says, 64 it is good to be prepared." Cer-
tainly it is so ; but when he comes to us, and makes this re-
quisition, it is incumbent on him to shew us the reason why
we should be thus prepared. He should lay before us the
ground on which he calls for that requisition. How stood the
case in former periods of this war ? In 1794 there was
much. reason for such a measure as there is now ; there was
then as much of a rumour of an invasion as there is now ; and
so the ministers told us at that time. The House, -upon the
faith of the ministers' assertions, agreed to measures of the
most unconstitutional nature, to avert, as it was supposed,
the impending danger. Such measures, although uneonstiar


we'l -0 then thought to be necessary; and they were thoughttioua,
else to be sufficient to keep the French from attempting the des-
perate measure of an invasion. Are the French now more likely
to make that despera te attempt than they were then ? Or are
we not now in a better situation than we were then ? I con-
ceive that ministers themselves would answer these questions
in a manner very consolatory to the people of this country.
Such was our state in 1794. What is it now, and what the
difference between the two situations? Ministers now tell us
that an intention has been manifested on the part of the enemy
to invade these kingdoms. I am too much accustomed to the
artifice of ministers to receive any very deep impression from
what they say. Did they not say formerly what they say
now, that the enemy had some intention of invading this
country ? Certainly they did, and they were entrusted with
force sufficient to prevent that calamity.

But, says tile right honourable gentleman who spoke last,
I am of opinion, that, as it may be necessary for this coun-

try to carry on an offensive war, this measure may be of great
advantage, inasmuch as we may thereby be the better able to
avail ourselves of our forces." To this, as a general propo-
sition, I do not object. It is true. But then I say to minis-
ters, 46 Bring before us the facts on which you say this mea-
sure is necessary. What I object to is your duplicity. If you
really want this force, and to the extent you say you do, shew
me the reason for it, and I will grant it cheerfully. All I
want is, that you state to me the reasons. You did so when
you called for the augmentation of the navy, and you had it ;
but do not ask any thing to carry on the war abroad under
the mask of defending us at home ; for in that case you are
asking under a false title what, under a real one, the people
of this country would not grant to you ; for, I know, they

to you, to prevent an invasion at home, what they
Would refuse with indignation, if asked to carry on the war

But, Sir, it seems we are to have the responsibility of mi-
nisters for the due application of the grant which they now
call for. Look at the extent to which the principle of votine-
such extraordinary measures as tlrse, upon the idea of respon-
sibility, may lead you. By it you will introduce a practice
that must deprive the people of all their rights and all their pro-
tPheartYa. l. this

should turn out (not an extravagant hypothesis),
els story about an invasion is a mere pretence togain the consent of the people to the measure now proposed,

and that the real object is extremely different, what then will
I.- eccnie of the boasted responsibility of ministers? How are

224 INvAsroN — [Oct,
we to make them responsible? We may say, and say truly,
that " the event has proved there was no danger of an in•a..
sion when this measure was adopted." To which the minis-
ters may answer, and be assured they will, " True, there w4-
no invasion, but then it was owing to the very measures which
we proposed, and you adopted, that the invasion was pre-
vented." How, then, arc We to make ministers responsible
for what they do under such- a measure as this? The idea of
responsibility in such a case is perfectly ridiculous. Why, Sir,
at this rate you may go on and do every thing that the minister
may ask you, until you have totally destroyed the constitution;
the principles have already been too much invaded by the
measures of the present ministers. There are some inconve-
.niences that necessarily arise out of a free constitution. I
know that many authors of great eminence have pointed out
those inconveniencies. I do not deny it, although I have
never seen them in so strong a light as the authors I allude to
say they did ; but the advantages resulting from a free consti-
tution arc so great, so numerous, and to me so clear, that I
cannot patiently argue upon them, when they are put in the
scale against the supposed advantages of a contrary form. Be
that as it may in the opinion of others, I say, you cannot
argue that subject in this House; for the people of this coun-
try have made their election : they have chosen a free govern-
ment, and it is your duty to preserve it with all its inconve-
niences, if there be any that are worth mentioning. If,
therefore, when ministers pretend an alarm, you are to give
them whatever power they may ask for, when it is impossible
you can attach any responsibility to them, as I have proved

. already in this case you cannot, why then you desert the point
on which the people of the country have already made their
election ; and, instead of the blessings which your ancestors
intended for you, you take what may appear to you, but what
never appeared to me, the advantages of despotism. This
would be a fraud upon the people of this country.

I know the eloquence that has often been employed to shew,
or in attempting to show, by a flourishing antithesis, that we
possess all the advantages of a free government and those of a
despotic monarchy, by possessing the wisdom which arises
from a free discussion of the representatives of the people and
the promptitude and dispatch of an unlimited monarchy.
Such an antithesis may answer the purpose of an ingenions
orator, and aid him in the course of a florid declamation;
but it can avail but little to any man who wishes for the safety
of our constitution. I am of opinion, that our constitution,
in its true spirit, cannot mix with any thing despotic. Have
recourse to experience, the only unerring guide; read the

historY of this country, and then shew me out of what page it
is that you have discovered how and when it was, that the
max-ims of a free government have been united with the prin-
ciples of despotism. I know it cannot be done. I know also,
that if you attend to history, and take it as a lesson, you will
return to your ancient distrust and jealousy of ministers, who-
ever they may be, and that you will examine minutely into
their conduct. Reflect on the consequences of the contrary
practice. You see now before you the effect of it. Confi-
dence, in the first instance, renders confidence necessary in
the second. Confidence in ministers induces them to take
measures which they cannot continue without farther confi-
dence; they are obliged to call for it in their own defence;
in that career you may proceed until you have confided away
the whole spirit of our constitution. I am afraid you have
advanced in that career much too far already. In my opinion,
the spirit of the constitution has been almost entirely set at
rest for a time, by the measures of the last parliament. Let
it be the practice, for it is the duty, of the present to revive it.
There was an expression in the speech of the right honour-
able gentleman to which I cannot help alluding. He said,
" if the present negociation should be unsuccessful, then the
.present measure will be advantageous to this country." No
man wishes more heartily than I do that it may be successful.
I wish it from every motive that can actuate a man; but I am
not sure that the same feelings are entertained by his majesty's
ministers. I hope they are. I say this by way of caution,
lest the world should suppose I am such a devotee to the pre-
sent administration as to suppose that any negociation in
Which they may fail may render peace to this country totally
unattainable. Notwithstanding there arc many new members

, iu this House, they know, I believe, enough of me and of
my opinion of this war to be well satisfied that I abhorred its
commencement. That feeling remains completely unchanged;
and whatever'opinion the people may have upon the propriety
of the measure which is now proposed for the defence of this
island from an invasion, I trust this country will never relin-
quish the opinion, that the war was in its principle and com-

cement unjust, unnecessary and diabolical. If it shall
unhappily become our lot to defend ourselves against an inva-
Sian, ourselves we must defend ; but whether the proposed
measure is more or less than we ought to agree to, or one
that we ought to try, are questions of detail, and therefore to
that detail shall I defer them. I cannot, however, permit the
particular parts of the measures to pass without taking notice

gaZof some of them. That part of the plan which refers to theeLzkv.eeipers appears to me to be a measure of violent injustice

226 INVASION [Oct.

to a class of persons who, as far as the tax which they bear
goes, already contribute pretty handsomely to the support
the state.

There is another part of the plan which I cannot pass by
in silence. The navy of this country is so much and so
justl y, the favourite service of it, that no man is willing to
find fault with it. I am the last man in the kingdom who
would wish to do so, or to say any thing against any service
that contributes so much to the greatness of this nation, as I
know the navy does. I feel, and I know I only feel in com-
mon with all my countrymen, gratitude to the navy; but the
circumstance of impressing men, even into that service, great
and valuable as it is, would not be a part which a judicious
friend to it would select for the subject of his panegyric. I
am not now arguing the policy of the practice, for great as
the grievance may be to the individuals who are the objects
of it, the discussion will be unseasonable until we shall find a
better mode for providing for that service, and therefore upon
that subject I shall say nothing. But upon the subject of
forcing men into the land service the case is widely different;
so much so, that I have never yet heard it defended in this
country; and yet this measure seems to me to have that ten-
dency, for out of the force which is proposed to be raised,
there is to be a certain proportion for the navy and a cer-
tain proportion for the land service. I cannot, for one,
conceive any danger to which this country, under all its cir-
cumstances, can be exposed, that would make me ready to
assent to a measure that had for its object the impressing the
subjects of this country into the land service. I cannot
assent to any measure that has for its object the increase of
the military force of the kingdom in that manner. This
is entering into the very spirit of the French requisitions,
:which we decry so much. The chancellor of the exchequer
says, that only one-sixth part of them shall be exercised ata
time, that is, only i o,000, and that they will not be called
to the service but in case of actual exigency. Now, are rot
these words (abating the difference between a speech and the
authority of the legislature) the very words of the act of par'
'Lament with . regard to the militia, which says, " unless ill
case of invasion or imminent danger thereof?' The collo
(pence will bethat the military force thus raised will be sub'
ject to military. law. I wish to know whether it was tlIC
opinion of those who passed the act respecting the militia
that they should beesubject to regulations, to which they 1DS:
submit ? Certainly it was not ; and as it has been found .e7s.;
pedient to call upon them to conform to the rules now etlopte'
in that service, it would have been more fnanly parliaillel'



to alter the law in that particular. We are here told, that
the military force which is now proposed to be raised, is only
to act

in case of emergency. What is that to be ? Until the
French shall land upon -our coast? No such thing ; I know
that such a restriction cannot, and ought not to be imposed
upon executive goverment; because you should repel the dan-
ear when you are threatened by it. Why, then, it will
amount to this, that whenever ministers shall think fit to
allege there is danger, the whole of this military power to
be entrusted to them for the internal defence of this country
in case of invasion, will be entirely at their disposal. What
security have we that no abuse will take place, respecting the
application of this enormous force? What security. have we
that we are not now voting for a force, said to be intended
for one purpose, but which is really to be applied for a dif-
ferent object? What security have we for trusting that this
vreat military force is not intended to supply the place of .e
other troops, who are intended to be sent abroad? The right
honourable gentleman alluded to the safety of these king-
doms. I do not chose to follow him in that course, for I only
speak of the safety of Great Britain, when I canvass the mea-
sure which is now before us. It is to that object, and to that
only, that I intend it to be applied.

I do not know what information ministers may have respect-
ing the intention of the French to attempt an invasion of this
Country. I have none, except what I derive from newspa-
pers. I believe that the idea of an invasion is as visionary as
that of succeeding in it. I believe the French have no such
intention ; for they have a government which is likely to be
much better informed of the disposition of the people and the
situation of the country, than to be led to any hopes of success
in such an attempt, therefore do I believe they will not be
guilty of the rashness to attempt it. But

zesupposio they had„

hopesis upon

desperate intentions; supposino

they should attempt to

carry them into execution, I have no doubt of the issue. My
pon that subject are as sanguine as those of any other

man in this country. But what should we do in the meantime? What is the duty of this House at this moment? Tocherish the spirit of freedom in the people of this country,
restore to them that for which their anstors have bled.


Take the ministers really responsible. Let their parliament
not be confiding ' in the servants of the crown, but watchful
and jealous of the exercise of their power. Restore to them

right of popular discussion. Allow them to state freely
the grievances they feel. Repeal those laws which have for-
bidden the exercise of their most invaluable rights. In one
''o d, instead of amusing with panegyrics upon the form,z,

2 2

228 INVASION [Oct.
allow them to possess the spirit of the old constitution of
England : then will you indeed see the energy. of the people
of England, and then you will have no occasion for adding
to your internal military force, for then even an invasion
would never be formidable. These are your real resources:
the rest are all imaginary. I shall give no opposition to the
plan that is now before the committee in its present stage;
but I think it lair to say, that some of the parts of it are such
as, in the detail, I shall think it my duty to oppose.

Mr. Pitt obtained leave to bring in three bills : viz. r. A bill
for raising a certain number of men in the several counties of Eng.
land, and in the several counties, stewartries, royal burghs and towns
in that part of Great Britain called Scotland, for the service of his
majesty's army and navy : 2. A bill for providing an augmentation
to the militia, to be trained and exercised in the manner therein di.
rected, and for enabling his majesty to cause the same to be embo-
died in case of necessity, for the defence of these kingdoms : A
bill for enabling his majesty to raise a provisional force of cavalry,
and to require the military service of persons therein described, to he
embodied in case of necessity, for the defence of these kingdoms.

October 31.

On the order of the day for taking into consideration the report
of the committee on the militia augmentation bill, the measure
was strongly opposed by Mr. Curwen, and defended by Mr. Pitt.
After which,

Mr. Fox said : —I rise, Sir, to offer a few obseryatiom
upon the doctrines that have fallen from the right honourable
gentleman who has just set down ; doctrines, which if they be
true, we had better do that in words, which the present ad-
ministration have been constantly doing in actions; we bad
better declare that the constitution of the country is only good
for praise and for oratorical flourish, but that it is not proper
for a state of warfare; we had better say that when ministers
have brought the country into peril, that peril is a sufficient
ground for confidence in them, and that when they have in'
volved us in difficulty and danger, it is the business of the
people to surrender all their vigilance, to repose complete
faith in them, or in other words, to suspend the constitution,
and to make the government of the country an armed mo-
narchy. We are told that it is enough for the king to acquaint
us that danger exists, and for us to declare that if it exists,
we will put the country in a situation to resist it; we are told,
I say, that it is enough for us to pledge ourselves at once t .
such bills as these; bills which impose upon the people greater


niary burdens than any that were ever imposed for anyDeo

rpose of government ; this, however, we are informed we
must do, or forfeit our pledge to the king.

Sir, the speech of the king I shall always consider, and
it is usual so to consider it, as the speech of the ministers.
They tell us there is danger of an invasion. I may be
willing for a time to suspend any inquiry into the causes that
have involved us in this difficulty and disgrace. I may be
milling to suspend for a time an inquiry into the conduct of
those who have brought us into this danger; but must I not
know what it is ? Must the mere bringing us into danger be
of itself a sufficient claim to confidence? For one, I am of
opinion, that from external causes there is no particular ap-
prehension of an invasion ; but still more am I of opinion,
that if; under the pretence of strengthening the country, mi-
nisters are only doing as they have formerly done, strengthen-
ing themselves and their principles; if they are expressing
their apprehensions of danger only to produce this effect, why
then I should hesitate whether I would apply any remedy at
all; but even should the danger really exist, I should hesitate
much before I applied such a remedy as this. We are not,
Sir, so young in the House as to imagine that, because we
approve of the speech from the throne, we pledge ourselves
to all the measures which the minister may think proper to
adopt, or that the vote we came to upon the first day of the
session, bound us to pass such bills as these. With respect
to the bills, I sec some parts of them more objectionable in
their principle and provisions than others. Sir, the calling
upon so many men in the country, the putting them under
martial law, and under officers of the crown, without those
safeguards which are contained in the old militia acts, and at
a time when the erection of barracks all over the country
evinces the system of separating the soldiery from the people,
and according to the ingenious reasoning of some gentlemen,
making the soldiers deaf if the people cannot be made dumb ;
Sir, the doing these things is a grievous hardship and op-
pression. It is no light thing to make the people imbibe mili-
tary notions and military prejudices under officers of the crown,
without any of those checks and guards, which, I repeat it, are
contained in the former regulations relative to the militia. It
has lately been too much the fashion to forget old prejudices and
old principles. Sir, I have no difficulty, much as the term has
been ridiculed, in confessing myself an alarmist. I am alarm-
ed at the situation of the country. I believe that there is a
faction in it, whose wish and endeavour are to- increase the
Power of the crown, at the expellee of the liberties of the
People. I believed it. in common, once, with those who are


230 INVASION [Oct. 31,
now converts from that belief; who think now that ministers,
whose measures they formerly so much reprobated, are so al..
tinted with power, so glutted with patronage and emoluments,
as to have lost all those marks and features that rendered them
the objects of their former dread and detestation. I am not
one of these; I am not one who think that the lesser evil is
—and, good God ! what is this lesser evil ?—the fear of the
liberties and rights of the people being lost in the power of
the crown ! With these feelings about me, can I be brought
to think that raising such a force, as that proposed ley the
bill, is not a most alarming circumstance, to which nothing
short of the necessity of risking every thing, could possibly
reconcile me ?

And now, Sir, a word or two on the bills themselves ; and
first, with respect to the present bill, by which men are to be
raised in the diffbrent parishes. Without entering into the
policy of the bill, I must contend that the general burden will
be very considerable. Do I mean to contend by this that bur-
dens ought not to be imposed in times of difficulty and peril?
By no means ; but if we are now to provide against an exist-
ing danger, we are not to provide against a general danger, but
against a specific danger of an invasion of Great Britain by
the enemy. Such is my opinion. Why then, I say, it does
give me no good idea of the present ministers, when I see
them always bringing forward false pretences. When I see
them, under these bills, providing that the different parishes
shall raise men, not for the specific purpose of resisting an
invasion, but for general military purposes ; when I see this,
I must think that the real motive of the measure is not for
domestic service, but for the purpose of carrying on offen-
sive war abroad ; and in this opinion I am a good deal in•
flueneed by what fell from a right honourable gentleman high
in office (Mr. Dundas). I do not like to quote the words
of any person in his absence, but, Sir, words that drop from
ministers are not in the nature of expressions from com-
mon Men ; they come with authority and in an official shape.
I cannot forget that right honourable gentleman's speech on a
former night, when he said that the present plan was highly
eligible, inasmuch as it would enable his majesty's ministers
to prosecute the war abroad. If this be the fact, I would ad-
vise gentlemen not to be so active in their approbation of the
measure. Do not be so impatient, as the right honourable,
gentleman has recommended you to be in your testimonies 01
support. You will have opportunities enough of voting hun-
dreds, thousands, and millions, I have no doubt, for carrying
on offensive war abroad. This, therefore, is what I complain
of;- and I cannot help thinking the present alarm with respect


to invasion, to be one of those pretences which ministers do
pot believe, but which they bring forward in order to get
strength for purposes which they do not chuse to state. The
bill for the raising a force of cavalry is objectionable in all its
shapes. If an invasion were certain, I should object to it as
impracticable and tyrannical, and as tending to lay such enor-
mous taxes upon the people as would be almost intolerable.
And at what period are we called upon for such taxes ? Be-
fore the minister has opened what is usually called his budget.
When, Sir, I consider the conversation that passed in the
former part of this day, and the excess that has occurred in our
expenditure, have I not ample reason to suppose that we
shall in the ensuing budget be called upon to bear burdens
equally heavy at least, with any that have been laid upon us
in the former years of the war ? When to those burdens, the
burden that will be imposed upon the country by this bill for
the raising an additional force of cavalry is added, I feel that
I cannot consent to it without trying if any other measure can
be adopted less oppressive in its operation, and equally effec-
tual in its consequences.

The right honourable the chancellor of the exchequer, in
recurring to what fell from my honourable friend, (Mr. Curwen,)
has alluded to what he stated respecting his disbelief of the pre-
sent alarm, because all former alarms propagated by ministers
have been proved to be false. The right honourable gentle-
man contends, that that disbelief' is against evidence, and con-
trary to the opinion of nine-tenths of the people. Sir, I re-
member when an inquiry into the existence or non-existence
of any cause for alarm was demanded. That demand was
refused. Should that inquiry ever be entered into, I maintain,.
that not only will it be found, that no reason existed for any
alarm, but that ministers, when they called out the militia and
summoned the parliament in 17 92, disbelieved the alarm them-
selves. Sir, .that measure of calling out the militia and sum-
moning the parliament, will be a measure to be deplored to the
latest posterity. It occasioned more rivers of blood to be
shed and more treasure to be expended, than ever were shed
or expended during the reign of that despot Louis XIV. On
the subject of alarms, a ingenuity, deal of inenuity, and I think
Misapplied ingenuity, has-been exerted on different occasions.
Some gentleman were alarmed about. the operation of French
Principles, and the consequences that. would result in this
Country from the French victories. That being mere matter
of reasoning, I have candour enough to believe, that though
the danger appeared to me to be very trifling, if any existed
at all, yet that persons who entertained those apprehensions


232 INVASION — [Oct. 31,

were sincere; but that is not the alarm we are speaking of. I
am speaking of the calling regiments to the capital, and the
fortifying of the Tower, as if an immediate insurrection were
apprehended. Since that period, many innocent men have
been arraigned by his majesty's government for high treason.
However certain persons may be inclined to blame the want
of diligence in the lawyers, I think no complaint will be urged
against them for not bringing a quantum of evidence, and that
too of a date considerably remote. Yet, though these lawyers
had access to all the sources of government, though they ran-
sacked and rummaged all the records possessed by adminis-
tration, yet they-never produced a single proof— I do not say
to satisfy themselves — yet they never produced a single proof
to satisfy the jury, that, when the Tower was fortified, any of
those desperate traitors entertained such projects of insurrection
as those that have been alluded to. I did not think that I
should have been under the necessity of entering into these
particulars this day; but when the right honourable gentle-
man says, that our belief is contrary to the belief of nine-tenths
of the people, it becomes incumbent upon me to maintain,
that no solid ground of alarm existed at the time when these
extraordinary precautions were taken. I wish gentlemen to
refer to the trials for high treason. I wish gentlemen to read
them, and tell me if they find the slightest trace of that insur-
rection, affected to be so much dreaded in December 1792.
Upon these trials some have expressed an opinion that they
are the disgrace of the country; others have said that they
contribute to its honour. Strange as it may seem, I agree in
both those opinions. I think that they were disgraceful.
[llir. Yorke here said, that he was obliged to call the right
honourable gentleman to order, as he conceived he had wan-
dered from the question, and if such latitude of discussion were
indulged, the present question would not be decided that night.
The Speakersaid, that he conceived Mr Fox to be perfectly in
order. He opposed the re-commitment of the present bill,
upon the ground that the alarm of an invasion had been raised
upon false pretences; a proposition which lie illustrated by
recurring to the history of former alarms. He admitted, how-
ever, that he was rather too particular upon some of these
points; but he did not consider himself as called upon to in-
terrupt him.] Mr. Fox in continuation—I am not quite
satisfied, Sir, with the mode in which I was called to order.
We have not yet imbibed such a detestation of equality, as
not to have some regard for impartiality, and we have not yet
established the custom of deciding by a hammer or a bell at_
ivhat particular hour the debate shall be closed, however it

roy sometimes he finished by a clamour for the question. I
should not have alluded to the trials, had not an allusion been
rendered necessary by what fell front

the-right honourable the
chancellor of the exchequer. Our belief of the alarms is said
to be contrary to the opinion of nine-tenths of the people.
I do not think so; but if it were contrary to the belief not
only of nine-tenths, but of nine hundred and ninety-nine out
of a thousand, I should still be equally inclined to declare my
opinion; but I should augur very ill indeed of' the people, if
I thought that they could resist such evidence as was adduced
upon the trials. Perhaps I flatter myself that I am not in
such a minority as the right honourable gentleman sup-
poses. What I am in this House, I know not. What I
am in the country, I am equally ignorant of ; but I do

know, that if I speak of that part of the country which
Lam best acquainted with, I have the good fortune to agree
in opinion with a decided majority. When I was called to
order, I was observing, that there was no ground for the ori-
ginal alarm in the year 1792. I was going to remark upon
those trials, that the prosecution of innocent men was dis-
graceful to the country, and their acquittal honourable. How
comes it that so many were acquitted ? Because so many
were prosecuted who ought not to have been prosecuted.
Sorry I am, that I shall frequently have Occasion, to offend
the honourable gentleman who called me to order, if recur-
ring to past actions, in order to form my opinion of the fu-
ture, be against the established rules of the House. The
country, I allow, is in a situation of great difficulty, in a
situation of danger, cruel danger, but not so much from
any apprehension of an invasion on the part of the enemy ;
it is in a state of peril from which there is no way to
extricate it, but by a retrospective view of the measures
of ministers, and a judicial examinination of their conduct.

I have stated that the three bills are doubtful measures,
even supposing extraordinary measures to be necessary. In
1 794, after the great arming of the country, we were told that
the force then embodied was sufficient to resist any invasion
that might be attempted. What is the situation of the country
now ? An honourable friend of mine states that it is in a
state of great internal quiet. In this opinion, as in most
others, I perfectly agree with him, if he means that there is
in the country a general love for the constitution. I have no
doubt of it; the people are universally well affected to the con-
st itution, I believe; but that they are more attached to the con-
stitution as it is now, than as it was at the commencement of the
war, I cannot allow. I cannot believe that I am one of those


2-34 INVASION— [Oct. 31

‘, eighty thousand incorrigible jacobins'"" whom nothing can re..
concile to the monarchy of this country. So far from thinking
their number to be so formidable, I believe that it will be difficult
to find one of that description. But if those be incorrigible
jacobins who detest the measures of his majesty's ministers,
who are of opinion that their conduct has tarnished the glory
of the country, and that they have conducted pusillanimously a
contest which they rashly and unjustly commenced —who think
that not only an inquiry into their conduct is indispensable
but that a reform is absolutely necessary, in order to prevent
the country from being cursed with such ministers as the pre-
sent, if any such can ever curse the country — if these are the
incorrigible jacobins, I am glad to hear that they amount to,
eighty thousand. I wish they amounted to eight millions.

The right honourable gentleman, who states that there is so
much necessity for going into the committee, does not disdain,
however, to give us some . information. He says, that his ap-
prehensions of the danger of an invasion are increased lately;
and he said this in so emphatic a way, that I, for one, do not
wish to press an opposition to the measure. If the minister
really thinks that there is any danger of an invasion, I will
not object to some increase of the militia force; but even in
that case, I will only suspend. my inquiry into the causes that
have brought us into this danger. The right honourable gen-
tleman, however, must be aware, that if an invasion is. likely
to be attempted in England, One system of measures will be
necessary, which will not apply, if the invasion is likely to be
attempted in another part. Let the minister state this, in
order that the means may be adapted to the exigence. • Sup-
pose, for example, that Jamaica was in danger of being invaded,
you would hardly think it necessary to adopt any precaution
in Great Britain ; the same observation will apply to parts
nearer home. If any other part of the British territories
is in danger, the measures calculated to repel that danger
ought to be applied to that part, which is conceived to be par-
ticularly menaced. In observing upon the speech of my ho-
nourable friend, the right honourable gentleman said, with a

* " In England and Scotland, I compute that those of adult age, not
declining in life, of tolerable leisure for such discussions, and of some means
of information, more or less, and who are above menial dependance, mg,
amount to about four hundred thousand. Of these four hundred thousallu
political citizens, I look upon one-fifth, or about eighty thousand, to be pure.
jacobins ; utterly incapable of amendment; objects of eternal vigilance'
and when they break out, of legal constraint." Barke's Letters on a Rel.
cide Peace.


2 3
kind of triumphant air, that he admitted the general support

to the government. I heard distinctly what the

le friend said, and I conceived him to express
10',.jfiys not that there was a general support of the mea-
sures of his majesty's ministers throughout the country, but a
general indifference; whether this is the same thing, I leave
e the right honourable gentleman to decide. He must know
that his only chance of support is from the indiarence and
lethargy of -the country, and from their natural consequence,
ignorance. Such kind of support, however, as this, can
hardl y, I should think, be as cordial and satisfactory to his
feelings, as that which is the result of-judgment and the effect
of deliberation. When I consider the basis upon which the
constitution stands, I confess that I consider this indifference •
as an alarming symptom. I hope it does not exist to any
great extent; for sure I am, that the best security against an
invasion will consist, not in the indifference of the country, but
in its zeal, its firmness, and its unanimity. I understand the
right honourable gentleman to say that there is a real danger :
a miserable assertion this, by the way, for the House to pro-
ceed upon without more substantial evidence; but, however,
the danger we are told is real. That such is the case, is mat-
ter of serious concern. Of the ultimate issue of any attempt
at an invasion, I am as sanguine as his majesty's speech ex-
presses ; but I shall be more sanguine, in proportion as I see
the people less indifferent to the constitution, as the minister
found it, not as lie has made it.

With respect to the bill in question, in consequence of the
declaration of the right honourable gentleman, I shall not
object to the recommitment of it; but unless it be, materially
altered in the committee, I cannot consent to the passing of
it, because I do not think that it contains remedies adequate
to the evil. The measure, as far as I have been able to learn,


oes inuch alarm. I think it liable to objections, and If
eel that I should not do my duty if I did not state those ob-jec

tions. The other bills appear to be defective in principle,
and cannot see any amendments that can reconcile me to

ne word more. The right honourable gentleman
says, that a great danger threatens us. I agree with him in
calling upon the people to resist an invasion on the part oftr

ance. Resist it, I say, with all your might. Be unanimousi
n your exertions : be vigorous in your efforts : draw yourpurses freely

: contribute your personal labours cheerfully.

but when I call upon the people to repel any attempt that

be made by France, I also call upon them not to be

armed at the danger as not to adopt such measures after-
'''9-rds as may make the struggle beneficial to themselves. Let


them not struggle against France, only to yield to the artifices
of the present ministers. My advice to them is, Be vigilant
against the French; be vigilant also against the minister,o1 this
country, who has brought you into this situation et' danger.
Beware, that while you take measures to prevent your be-
coming a prey to the French, you do not become a prey to
the minister. I say be vigilant against domestic as well
as foreign enemies ; but learn to distinguish who your do-
mestic enemies are: you have been in prosperity, you now
feel adversity. Judge not by the assertions of those who have
robbed you of your rights; judge not by their comments;
judge not upon presumptive evidence ; but judge by your own
good sense. Reflect upon your condition; consider how you
were brought into it. The situation of your finances must
show you that it is paradoxical indeed, if you could have been
brought into it without considerable errors (to use the softest
word) on the part of ministers, for I wish to speak tenderly
even of them in the present conjuncture. I hope you will
judge, not from the assertion of those who brought you into
the calamities you now feel; but that you will attend a little
to the sentiments of those who opposed them in their mad
career. I hope you have not quite forgotten the calamities
which the American war brought upon you, and which you
would not have suffered to any thing like the extent you did,
had you not given to ministers confidence which they did not
deserve. But, it seems, we who oppose ministers are not a
tenth of the nation. Be it so; then ministers cannot com-
plain that we have been any material impediment to them.
This is their artifice, and I think I understand it pretty clearly.
It has been always the trick of governments whose proceedings
are unjust and foolish, to say, " Our measures were wise, but
they were thwarted in much of their efficacy by opposition."
I hope the public will not be the dupes of that artifice any
longer. I hope they will discriminate between their domestic
enemies and their domestic friends, and that they will not suf-
fer their affairs to remain in that paradoxical situation which
was some time ago stated, that ministers by their misconduct
may have brought the country into such a state of danger, al
to require that the people should continue to give them confi-
dence, in order to prevent public ruin. Some may think, by
a strange perversion of reason, that the same causes which con-
ducted us to the brink of ruin, may ultimately lead us to
safety ; that folly and wickedness will in time have the same
effect as wisdom and virtue; as it has been said that sonic ani-
mals can counteract their venom, by the repetition of .their
own bite. We must look for some such fabulous remedy ill
our misfortunes, if we give ministers any further confidence;

for it is too much to expect a relief from maxims of truth, if
quell is to continue to be our system.


December 7.

TINS day Mr. Pitt produced his annual estimate of the public
revenue and expenditure, with a demand of supplies, usually .

called the Budget. The sum total of the supply' required for the
year 1797, digested under the heads of army, navy, miscellaneous
services, diminution of the national debt, ordnance, and deficiency
of taxes, amounted to 27,647,0001. The ways and means, pro-
posed by the chancellor of the excequer, for raising this supply,
amounted to 27,945,0001. New taxes were to be laid for raising
the interest of former debts to be liquidated, and sums now bor-
rowed or anticipated to the amount of 2,t 10,0001. The interest
on the loan was calculated at 61. 158. per cent.

The new taxes for raising the interest on public expences, con-
tracted or to be contracted, being stated, Mr. Pitt said, that these
were diffused over so many articles, that they would operate with
equality, and yet not bear hard on the poor. By the production
of the taxes it might be inferred, that the war had not materially
:loved the sources of our prosperity, Having explained the
grounds of his estimates, as nearly as he could, both of the requi-
site supplies and the means of receiving them, he took notice of
an expence of a particular nature that had occurred in the interval
01 parliament : an aid granted to the emperor. A sum of about
1 , 2c0,cool., he believed, had been allotted to that prince. To have
withheld this assistance would have been to sacrifice the best hope
of this country of bringing the present contest to a fortunate issue. It
Was his intention, if this conduct should meet their approbation, to
claim and solicit their confidence, in continuing the same system.
He could not, for obvious reasons, propose any specific sum to begranted to his imperial majesty. But if they should think proper
to repose the same confidence in ministers, in granting such occa-
sional aid as ,they might see to be necessary, it should, on their(part,.


i bec exercised with the same caution. He therefore proposed
a vote of three millions, chiefly with a view of enabling ministers to
make advances to our allies, if we should be compelled to persevere
In the war. After. Mr. Grey had impugned the chancellor of the
echequoeirLstrstatements as erroneous and false, and his demands
as unsuitable to the situation, and unnecessary to the true interests


Mr. Fox rose: —Notwithstanding (he said) the abundance of
evidence which has been brought forward by my honourable
friend, to prove the erroneous manner in which the chancellor
of the exchequer has thought proper to treat the subject of
this evening's consideration ; notwithstanding also the oppor


tunities which will be given of future discussion, I should not
be satisfied that I had performed my duty as a member of par-
liament, were I to pass over this day without expressing some
of those feelings which have been excited by hearing one of
the falsest statements of finance that ever was brought for,-
ward; calculated merely to delude the people of this country,
and accompanied with some political observations which are
a libel upon the constitution—observations that I would sooner
die than avow ; for if the principles conveyed by them are
true, the end to which they lead must be the downfall of this
House and all its privileges, and the establishment of a dicta.
tor upon its ruins. I shall first, however, make some obser-
vations on what has fallen from the right honourable gentle.
Juan, relative to-the subject of finance. It has ever been his
boast, that in opening his budget, he has always come forward
with plain and candid statements of the full extent of the
charges to be made for the current service of the year. Upon
more occasions than one, I allow this to be the case, and I
have not hesitated to bestow my praises upon such conduct;
but as to the business of this day, after the discussion that has
taken place between him and my honourable friend, is there
in the whole country so miserable a dupe, a being so corrupted
and so entirely devoted to every measure of ministers, as to
say that a fair statement has this evening been laid before us?
It is unnecessary for me to enter into minute details. ' I wish
to call the attention of the committee to principles. By the
consolidation act (27 G. III. c. 13. s. 72.) it is provided, that
a paper shall be laid upon the table of this House, with an
account of the annual charges of the public debt, together
with an account of the produce of the duties imposed, or of
any addition that shall be made to the revenue for the purpose
of defraying the increased charges. Now it appears, that, in
fact, since the commencement of the war, the increased
charges amount to upwards of four millions, and that taking
the amount of taxes, after making allowance fox the Spanish
armament, the stoppage of the distilleries, and other necesserY
admissions, there is a deficiency in the provision made for
these charges, to the amount of 8o,000l., but this does not ap-
pear in the paper officially laid before the House. But We
are told, that were it worth while (let this expression be 013;
served, " were it worth while,") all this could be explained
in a most satisfactory manner. What does the right honour'


able gentleman mean ? Will he dare to lay claim to the cha-
racter of a fair and candid minister by barely telling us " what
signifies what is the actual produce, my calculations are per-
fectly accurate, and that is sufficient." It may, and, indeed,
i t has been said, that, in stating this deficiency, many of the
toles have been taken only for part of the year, and some of
them have hot commenced. This, however, is not the case.
I take them from the 5th of July 179s, to the 5 th of July
179 6 ; but let them, if you please, be taken from the loth of
October, and the conclusion will be found to be the same.
But the right honourable gentleman farther says, that a defi-
ciency may actually take place during the years of war, but
that on the return of peace, and by the assistance of additional
regulations, ample compensation may be made. If this be
the mode of reasoning to be adopted, what is the use of this.
boasted paper of accounts ? It is a mere form, a shadow.
Let the deficiency be what it will, 8o,000l. or one million, let
the usual accounts be made up to satisfy the words of the sta-
tute, and let us leave the real deficiency to be afterwards
provided for the best way we can, or by some peace regula-
tions. What is this, Sir, but flying from duty, and turning
the business of finance into insult and mockery ? Such con-
duct, too, comes with a peculiarly ill grace from that right
honourable gentleman. His inconsistencies upon the present
occasion it is impossible to enumerate. I remember well,
upon the subject of spirits, he was formerly of opinion, that
the duty would be too great ; but now it is impossible 'to raise
it sufficiently high ; and with the most astonishing facility of
argument, both war and peace are to tend equally to render
it productive.

It was ably contended by my honourable friend, that the
navy debt was not dejiwto provided for; and what is the sort
of answer we receive to this? " There is, or there may be,
till:eel:ill:I:like a deficiency, but look to my calculations, - I
can make it all right in point of figures, and, as to three, four,
or eight millions of deficiency, I can provide for that some
way or other." To make such excuses and observations as

indeed, cost little ; but are they satisfactory, are
they to be endured ? Is this to be called a candid statement?
-f,,kre we to look for truth in the investigation of the state of our
finances, and to be merely entertained with the right honour-
able gentleman's conjectures, and imaginations ? My ho-
nourable friend, in stating actual deficiency of taxes tothe am

• ‘.amount or upwards ofb8o,000t. has taken the produce of
the taxes up to July 17 9 6; and he has fairly and properly de-
manded, that before the laying on of fresh burdens, this defi-
ciency should be acknowledged and provided for, or at least


that in the mean time the House should not be insulted With
the production of a paper which, contrary to fact, supposes
this to be provided for already. To understand what I now
urge, I only wish gentlemen to read that paper and judge for
themselves. To come to a fair decision, I do not conceive it
necessary to go back step by step, but to look merely at the
sums total. But here, indeed, the right honourable -gentle
man might be inclined to interrupt me, and tell me as he has
already told the House in his speech, that for the real pro-
duce of taxes we are not to look to a time of war ; and yet
with the same breath we are informed, that this has been so
glorious and so fortunate a war, that our commerce, in point of
exports and imports, exceeds any former period of peace, and
that the old taxes are more productive than ever. If this be true,
it is strange indeed, that while the war has not affected the old
taxes, it should diminish the amount of those which are newly
imposed. As to the exports and imports, my honourable
friend has mentioned one curious particular, that one-fifth of
the increased exports consists of the article of coffee, and in
order to show the committee the fallacy of any 'dependence
upon such sort of statements, I remember that formerly the
coffee exported in the custom-house hooks exceeded that which
was imported ; now; as no one could be such a fool as to be-
lieve that more of that luxury was sent out of the country than
was brought into it, upon examining the cause of this apparent
inconsistency, the mystery was explained by finding that the
coffee exported was estimated at a considerably increased
value. The right honourable gentleman, however, imme-
diately informs us, that he reasons only comparatively from
the present state of exports and imports. I observed nothing
of that comparative reasoning in his first speech. The right
honourable gentleman told us, in something of a commanding
manner, that the exports of the present year would amount to
30 millions. The country, Sir, indeed stands in need of
some comfort, and I should be sorry to diminish any of its sub,
stantial comforts; but if this increase of exports and imports be a
source of consolation, as far as it goes, it has not been wanting
at any period, except during some part of the American war.
During the war under the conduct of Sir Robert Walpole,
and also during the seven years' war, this increase was equally.
-observable. I am not a person inclined to erect theories, but
rather to oppose them if not confirmed by some sort of expe-
rience ; but I have no doubt there are many persons who can
give satisfactory reasons why exports and imports should in-
crease in the time of war, generally speaking, and why the
American war proved to be an exception. It may likewise be
added, that such a proof of the flourishing state of the ye-


Sources of the country was never brought forward by Mr. Peh.
ham, Lord Chatham, and other ministers, when placed in a
Similar situation in the wars to which I have alluded. I /1111:4
nor beg leave to make a comparative statement of what must
be the peace establishment at the end of this war. To do
this, I take the average of the additional charges for the five
last years, and add about 500,000/. more, which, altogether,
will amount to about four millions. This day we are called
upon to vote about 2,200,0001., yet enormous as this sum is, if
the House will attend to the real statement of facts brought
forward by my honourable friend, they will find that above
one million more is still actually necessary.. If this be true,
as it certainly is, what shall we say of the CG fair statement"
of the right honourable gentleman ?

Mr. Fox entered next into an examination of the terms of

the loan. After which he came to the vote of credit, on
which he said, the minister had spoken out plainly and can-
didly. He had said he had given to the emperor, without
the consent of parliament, twelve hundred thousand pounds,
and that he is to continue to do it if he shall think it neces-
sary. He had not seen the date of this advance; but those
who were members of the last parliament could not have
forgotten, that for the last three months of that parliament, riot
a week elapsed in which some question was not put to the
minister, in which he was called upon to declare, whether he
intended to grant any pecuniary assistance to the emperor.
Did the minister mean to say he intended to give it to him,
but that he thought his own authority for that purpose was
sufficient; that it was superfluous to submit such a subject to
Parliament; that he could issue the money of his own authority ?
Perhaps he did. He might borrow an example from his own
conduct to keep the measure in countenance. It was of a piece
with his advice to his majesty to continue him as his minister
agains t

the declared opinion of the House of Commons in the


3.1. 1,e x
ali,10784. But now he had gone one step farther than to ad-

vise the king to continue him as minister, in opposition to the ex-
Press opinion of the House of Commons ; for lie had sliewh to

people of Great Britain that he was a better judge than theparliament
of Great Britain, to whom their money, and how

m uch of it, should be given to any foreign prince. If (said
tr'r3orx; ) iithtehsee ntliiliare the sentiments to be acted upon in this

minister is to be permitted to carry them into
effect, I declare for myself, that the constitution of this ccun-
t9' is not worth fighting for. I wish to know on what prin-
elple it is that thefighting takes this power upon himself, ra-the• than refer it to the Commons of Great Britain, to whom,and

to whom only, it constitutionally belongs. If he directs_
vole vt.


the application of the money of the people thus, upon foreign
affairs, without the consent of parliament, I see no reasoe
why he should not claim the same power (as I dare say he
will if he succeeds in this) over the whole of our domestic con-
cerns. I am sure the reason he gives for the one, will just as
well apply to the other. He says that parliament could net
calculate so well as he could upon the necessity, and upon the
amount. That may be said as correctly of our domestic as of
foreign affairs. Until this instance occurred, the minister
thought it decent to apply to parliament, and to give you an
estimate of what, you arc to provide for ; but now he tells you
that he did not think it necessary to consult you, because you
are not judges of the extent of it. Did he consult you on the
principle of it? ITe certainly did not. He suffered the.last
parliament to be dissolved, he suffered you all to meet your
constituents with an assurance, (I do not say his positive and
declared assurance, but by his silence he gave you an implied
assurance,) that no money was to be advanced to the emperor
in the interval of the dissolution. On the 27th of September
you met. Did he give you any intimation of his having ad-
vanced this money before you were called together? Did he
.give you any intimation of it before this very night, when he
comes before you with his fresh burdens on the people? Not
a word ! For this conduct, I say, he ought to be impeached.
He has had it in his power to consult you upon this subject
long ago, as it was his duty. He has neglected to do so, by
which he has manifested a determination to dispose of the mo-
ney of the people of this country, without consulting their
representatives. This is aggravated by his not calling parlia=
ment together sooner. If he had advanced the money before
you met, why did he not tell you so ? 'What reason can be
assigned for this? In the name of God, what can be said
but that the minister thinks his judgment better than the
judgment of the representatives of the people of Great Britain,
He has said much upon the time at which this money was-
advanced. If he had any intention of advancing this money
before the dissolution, why did he not state that intention to
the last parliament? Or, if he found out the necessity of iD
since the dissolution, might he not have said so to the present
parliament long ago? But he has done it for the purpose of
establishing the principle, that ministers are better judges of
the manner in which the public money is to be applied, than
the representatives of the people. The minister says, that We
should feel the utmost confidence in lending our money to the
emperor, because we have seen in the emperor those heroic
qualities which usually accompany good faith. Now, sup-
posing heroism to be a good criterion of good filial : in peOuj


concerns,yar I should like to try the effect of this mode of,ni

reasoning. Suppose, fur a moment, that we were in a state
e • neutrality with regard to the French republic, and it was
proposed that we should lend money to the French, would
the minister say we should lend them money ? Certainly he
would not : and, yet, if good faith in pecuniary engagements
is to be measured by heroic qualities, there are none to whom
we should be more ready to lend our money; for of their va-
lour they have given abundant proofs.

Mr. Fox then proceeded to state the situation of the em-
peror and the French at this moment, in which he maintained
that with all the successes of the Austrians in the latter part
of the present campaign, another could not be opened under
circumstances of more advantaeei to the emperor, than those .
in which he had been placed at the commencement of the last.
He here took notice of the recent successes of the French in
Italy, and by way of answering the praises that were be-
stowed on the good qualities of the house of Austria, he in-
stanced the cruelties that had been exercised on the unfortu-
nate M. de la Fayette, which he said excited horror all over

Mr. Fox then proceeded to observe, that the minister had
that night omitted the brilliant comparison which he had often
made between the English and the French finances. The
French had been stated week after week, and month after
month, to be not on the verge but in the gulph of bankruptcy.
He had omitted also to state that the French had, by be-
coming the allies of the Dutch, partaken of the sluggishness
of the Hollanders. He did not know, he said, whether the
French had passed the gulph of bankruptcy. He hoped they
had, for while they were in it, they were most dreadful ene-
mies to this country. But to return to the minister's calcu-
lation of events. He had, year after year, calculated upon
the events of the war, and year after year the public had been
misled by his calculations. At one time he was sure the navy
debt would only be a million and a half; after that he calcu-
lated the same debt at four millions, then at six or seven
m illions, and new it was stated to be above eight millions.
What security had the House and the public that the minister
1`,.° Illd not miscalculate in future, as he had already clone, in
the course of the present war ? By his miscalculations he had
added to the debt of this country one hundred and fifty
lien s. By his miscalculations rivers of human blood had been


spade to flow all over the world. The minister now talked of
eace. He hoped in God we should soon enjoy that blessing;

but as the minister was so fond of his own calculations, he
wished he would some day or night sit down in his closet and:

A 2


calculate what. a sum of human happiness he had destrove(l
by his false calculations already; what a waste of human life
he had occasioned, because he could not sooner discover that
the French were " capable of maintaining the accustomed re_
rations of peace and amity with other powers." He did not
wish to distress the minister with any unseasonable appli-
cations, but he believed he should puzzle him a good deal
were he to ask, at what. period the French became more ca-
pable of maintaining the accustomed relations of peace and
amity with other powers than they were at the moment when
we entered into this contest.

Here Mr. Fox took notice of the great difference between
the ministers of tare Elector of Hanover and those of the King
of Great Britain, with respect to the prudence of all powers
making peace with the French republic. lie had. heard it
often said, that the spirit of the people of this country was
very great. lie believed it to be . so. He gloried in that
spirit. But if the system on which this war was carried on
was to be continued much longer, he had his doubts of the
continuance of that spirit. A great people who saw hundreds
of thousands of their fellow subjects fall, their national debt,
increased above one hundred and fifty millions, their credit
sinking, the necessaries of life becoming, by their price, almost
entirely out of the reach of the labouring class, and all this
merely because one man, or a few men in the country made
false calculations, were not likely to preserve their old spirit.
Such were the evils which the minister had already occasioned

by his false calculations 1 To these charges he hoped the right
honourable gentleman would have an opportunity of anewer-
ing at the bar of the public. He knew that every man who
reasoned fairly would be deeply affected by these things.
Every man who thought deliberately upon the subject would
mourn over the hundreds of thousands of human beings who
had lost their lives in this contest, because the minister of this
country had miscalculated the power of the French; nd
what, in comparison with the loss of so many human lives,
was trifling, but which, in other respects, was mightily im-
portant, was the accumulation of our burdens. The na-
tional debt of this country was now above four hundred mil-
lions. He had not calculated exactly what portion of it
was owing to this war altogether; still less was he able to,
guess what part of it was accumulated at particular periods
of the war; but he was now ready to declare, what he had
often declared, and still oftener felt, that he thought this
war unjust in its commencement, and impolitic in its prog•essr
and he believed there was not one man of sense in this
eountry, who had any wishes for its welfare, who did 11()t

Cron his heart wish it was at an end. This he was sure

general wish of the people of this country. It waswas - (r
the wish even of that House, else he was strangely deceived.
This brought to his mind what had been xecently published
by a gentleman whose talents he always admired, and for
whom, notwithstanding every thing that had happened, he
had still great esteem, he meant Mr. Burke; that gentleman
bad lately published it as his opinion, that the minority in
parliament speak the sentiments of the people of England at
this hour, and that they have done so for some time past. On
the subject of the war, Mr. Fox said, be had no doubt,
that the minority spoke the sentiments of the people. On the
subject of the war, at least, he would maintain that to be the
case; he believed it to have been so ever since the time of
Robespierre; but he would defy any man to show that this
was not the wish of this country onl y, but also that it was
not the general wish of all Europe at this hour. He would
go farther, and say, that in the opinion of' Europe

at large

nothing had impeded the arrival of general tranquillity for a
long time, but the opinion of the ministers of this country.
All this arose from the miscalculation of the right honourable
gentleman. However, that very minister now talked of
peace; but let him consider on what terms we are likely
to obtain it, and compare such terms with those which we
might have obtained a great while ago, and then let him
endeavour to sum up the mischief which his false calculations
have brought, not upon this country merely, but also on all
Europe. Perhaps lie might think the Cape of Good Hope
an equivalent for all we had suffered. If he did, neither his
humanity nor his judgment were to be envied. He was afraid,
he said, that there was no point to be stated in the resolutions
of that night that brought in question the propriety of lend-
ing money to the emperor, without the consent of parlia-
ment, and therefore he could not manifest by his vote his
opinion upon that subject. However, when it should come
before the House, he should certainly meet it with his direct
negative, for it was a violent mid daring attack on the British
constitution. It was essential for the House to come to a
vote upon the question, Whether the minister was to be per-
mitted to apply
for foreign alliances without the eon- money o

sent of parliament or not ? and that we should know whether
we were in a free -country, or were mocked only with the
name of freedom. He should say no more now' upon this
si!bject; but would take a future opportunity of deliveringh ssentiments with respect to the particular taxes.
• The resolutions for raising the supplies were then put and carried.

It 3


[Dec. 8.

December 8.

The resolutions of the committee of ways and means were this
day reported to the House. On the motion " That the said re.
solutions be now read a second time,"

Mr. Fox rose and said: — It is not my intention, ou
this evening, to enter into any detailed argument upon the re.
solutions.' Future opportunities will occur of discussing the
particulars of which they consist; and it is my earnest wish
that every member of the House may pay the most serious
attention to the subject to which they belong, under a strong
conviction, that the greatest exertions will be necessary to put
the finances of the country in a proper situation. But this
is not the point to which I propose, on the present evening,
particularly to call the attention of the House. I wish them
now to attend to the degraded situation in which the Com-
mons of Great Britain stand, in relation to the executive
government of the country. It will be easily perceived that
here I allude to the 1,2oo,000/. which has been granted to
the emperor by ministers without the consent of parliament—
a grant which I contend to be directly contrary to positive
law, and a flagrant violation of the constitution of parlia-
ment. I certainly should have expected, since the right
honourable gentleman did not think it worth his while to
apply to the House of Commons before lie advanced such a
sum to a foreign power, that when he informed them of the
circumstance, he would have accompanied it with some ex-
planation. But from the mode in which the money was given,
as well as from the speech of the minister on opening
the budget, I evidently perceive that the whole affair has
been conducted, not for the convenience of ministers, or the
advantage which they might imagine would result from it,
(though, God knows, this would have been bad enough !) hut
that it has been done for the purpose of setting a precedent
in the annals of the constitution, from which the public
money is to be understood as lying at the disposal, not of the
representatives of the people, but of the ministers of the
crown. When I went home last night and reflected upon the
various subjects which had passed under discussion, mustI
confess that I felt hurt at the idea of having appeared to Wile
my assent to, at least at not having positively dissented *on!,
resolutions which struck me as being so extremely unconsue
tutional. I considered myself as having been guilty 49!..;1
neglect of duty, and as called upon lw the relations in whica

I stand to my constituents and to the country, to come for-
ward this clay and enter my solemn protest against a measure
which I regard as an infringement of the rights of the people,
and of the privileges of this House : for I should look upon
myself as a traitor to the public were I to vote one shilling,
or one Man, for the service of the crown, without the con-
sent of parliament. We have been in the practice of hearing
for some time past, very warm and elaborate eulogiums upon
the constitution of the country, notwithstanding all the
wounds which it has lately received; and I always thought,
that whatever differences of opinion might subsist upon some
points, there were others on which we were all agreed.
Though we might differ in sentiment respecting the pre-
ponderance of power in one branch of the constitution over
another, and in affixing precise limits to each, I thought and
believed that there was no man who would maintain that it
was right and proper for the executive to usurp the legis-
lative power ; or, that it was just and lawful for the crown
to supersede the office of parliament.

But, let us consider the nature of the transaction before us.
Had ministers, \when parliament was not sitting, found them-
selves called upon by an imperious sense of duty, dictated by
a combination of urgent and unforeseen circumstances, to
grant a certain pecuniary aid to the emperor; and had they
taken the earliest opportunity upon the meeting of parliament,
to submit the whole of the business to its consideration, then
would have been the time for the House to pass a-decision
upon their conduct, after a candid and impartial review of
the situation in which they were placed, and the motives by
which it was fair to suppose them to have been actuated.
But the present case is wholly different. In the course of the
last three months of the last parliament repeated applications
were made to them respecting their intentions of granting or
withholding pecuniary assistance to the emperor; and, from
the silence which they persevered in preserving on the occa-.Sion, it was natural to infer that they would not grant such
assistance without the previous concurrence of parliament.
lei fact, however, we find that a great part of the money
given to his imperial majesty has been granted without that
concurrence, not during the parliamentary recess, but whenparliament was actually sitting. If parliament had not been

and ministers had thought it prudent to grant peen-
mar.,y assistance to the emperor, I say it ought to have been
assembled for the purpose of deliberating upon it; but when

was sitting, in God's name, why was not proper
4Pplication made to the House ? Was it because ministers
were afraid that the House wanted confidence in them?

R 4

The whole course of their experience taught them the con_
Crary. No: it was because the right honourable gentleman
thought himself better qualified to judge of the propriety of
the time, and the extent of such assistance, than the House
of Commons. I shall not dispute with him at present,
whether he was or not. The constitution says, he was not,
and under this authority he was bound to act. The consti.
tution says, that the public money is at the disposal, not of
the crown, but of parliament, and therefore he had no
right to dispose of such a sum without the consent of pa•_
liament. I do not argue the point of his superior knowledge,
or his superior wisdom. I think it !hirer to stand upon audio.
city; and when the constitution speaks precisely, as it does
upon this point, neither he, nor any other man, has a right
to resist its will.

The question now is, not whether the constitution be good
or bad, whether this be a wise or unwise arrangement; it
has its advantages, and it, no doubt, may have its incon-
veniences; but it was his duty, as the minister of a free con-
stitution, to adhere to the principles which it has laid clown,
and to the rules which it has prescribed ; the first and most
important of which is, that the disposal of the public money
is vested, not in the king, but in the people. When he
violated this fundamental principle, and infringed this sacred
law, what else can I infer than a desire to establish a pre-
cedent against the constitution? The circumstances which
have accompanied the transaction justify the inference which
I draw. I find from the accounts upon the table, that a
considerable part of the sum was issued in November last.
How, then, does the matter stand ? Ministers finding them-
selves . called upon to lend pecuniary aid to the emperor during
the recess, the measure, instead of being laid before the parlia-
ment immediately upon its meeting, was studiously concealed
for the purpose of holding out, as a precedent in the history
of the country to be made known to Great Britain and to the
world, that the disposal of the public money is no longer ill
the hands of the House of Commons, but that it is in the
hands of the crown. We beard something like an apology
yesterday from the right honourable gentleman, which, w
me, appeared as unsatisfactory as the conduct which it Ice',
brought forward to justify is unconstitutional. It consisted 0/
two parts : in the first place, that parliament was not 5°

agood a judge of the amount of the assistance to be granted
to the emperor as the right honourable gentleman; and,
candly, that from the discussions to which the publicity 0'
;,.he transaction would lead, considerable mischief might Irate
taken place. With respect to the first; 'it takes the point


issue for ;ranted, by supposing that an absolute is preferable
to a limited monarchy; and that our free constitution would
be much better were it transformed into a despotism. . As to
the danger to be apprehended from the publicity of the trans-
action, the pretence may be used upon other occasions as well
as upon this, till at last we come to the old exploded argu-
ment, that the money of the pople ought to be vested with
the king's ministers, and not with their own representatives.
In short, the right honourable gentleman tells you, he did
not think it worth while to acknowledge you at all in the
matter, because you were neither fit judges of the propriety
of the quantum, nor of the period for granting the money.
He takes care, however, that you shall finally be informed of
it. But when? When it Comes to be paid.

Let us see, also, from what fund this loan has been raised.
One part of it has been raised upon a vote of credit, and
another part has been taken from the money voted for paying
the extraordinaries of the year, and of course certain services
of which parliament approved, and for which it made pro-
vision, remain unpaid. In what situation, then, is the House
of Commons placed? If they refuse to make good the debt,
which I hope and trust they will, a part of the public service
will remain in arrears. They are reduced, therefore, to this
dilemma, either to discharge a debt, in contracting which
they were not acknowledged, and for which they are not re-
sponsible, or by refusing to discharge it, to leave services
which were sanctioned by their approbation unpaid. When
we look back, Sir, one cannot help observing a peculiar train
of proceeding. For the first time the budget was opened this
season before the extraordinaries of the army were voted. I
know the reason that is given for it is, that the budget was
opened uncommonly early in the season. I would remind
the House, however, that it was opened last year on the 7th
of December as well as this year, (with this difference, that

year parliament had not been so long convened ;) and
yet the extraordinaries of the army were voted previous to
the opening of the budget. This season the account was not
so much as produced till the day of the opening of the budget,
the more strongly to mark the precedent, and that it may be
said in future times, that in 1796 the minister of the country,
after having, of his own accord, granted a loan to the
9Mperor without the consent of parliament, did not deign
,even to inform them of it upon their meeting; nay, that he
Kept back the account of the extraordinarres of the year,lest the House of Cormnons, by sanctioning or conniving at
Ole measure, might in the least have weakened the precedent.

11.7hile I am upon this subject, I cannot refrain from re-

marking also, that last night for the first time, we heard that
the country was at war with Spain. Every gentleman who
is in the habit of reading the papers, must

seen that

it is now some months since it was openly declared, that
letters of marque had been issued, and that it had been an.,
nounced by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; in short, it is
only in their capacity as members of parliament that they did
not know it till last night. I am aware that this may be de-
fended upon the score of right, and that the prerogative of
declaring war is vested in the crown. But how far it is gra.,
cious not to announce the exercise of that right to the House
of Commons, is another question, especially when it is re.
recollected, that the ministers of the crown are so little
scrupulous about entrenching upon the rights of the people,
To return, however, to the subject of discussion. 'Were I
to put the question to any man at all acquainted with the con-
stitution of the country, When expences are to be incurred,
who are the best judges of the propriety of incurring them?
he would answer, the Commons of Great Britain. And
were I to add, When the propriety of incurring certain ex,
ponces is decided, who are the best judges of the extent to
which they ought to be incurred? he would not hesitate
also to reply, the Commons of Great Britain. When we
give up these two strong holds, the constitution is lost. What,
then, are we to think of the minister who wrests them out of
our possession • Or what will be said by future historians of
that parliament which tamely gave them up without one
syllable of remonstrance, or one threat of defiance? It is
true, that the House have so far relaxed from the rigorous
exercise of their privilege as to give a vote of credit to the
minister that he may be enabled to meet unforeseen emer-
gencies. This, however, has always been to a limited extent;
but, in the present instance, the right honourable gentleman
thought that we were as little qualified to judge of the extent
of the assistance to be given to the emperor as of the pro-
priety of giving it. He cannot surely pretend, .that by
twisting any vote of the last parliament he was at liberty, to
send pecuniary succours to the emperor. Notwithstanding
the obsequiousness of that parliament, notwithstanding all the
wounds which it gave the constitution, and notwithstanding all
the evils which it has entailed upon the country, I much
doubt whether it would have sanctioned a proposal for giving
another loan to the emperor. But with regard to this par-
liament, I hope that it will vindicate its own, dignity and nil".
portance at the outset, and chew the ministers of the countrY,
that if they arc advisers of the measures of the crown, th°
House of Commons are the guardians of the public put•

1 7961


on the other hand, they patiently acquiesce in the most
daring encroachments upon their rights, what figure will they
make in history, or how will they answer to their country for
those liberties which they have wantonly sacrificed at

• the
shrine of unprincipled ambition ?

The right honourable gentleman last night expressed a
hope that parliament would continue their confidence; but
I trust he did not mean by this, that they will allow him to
go on disposing of the property- of the country without their
consent ; or if he does, I hope that in this, at least, they will
disappoint his expectations. On the present evening I shall
think it my duty to take the sense of the House upon every
question, whether of supply or of ways and means; and if
I succeed, I shall move on an early day, that his majesty's
ministers, in granting a loan to the emperor without the con-

of parliament, have been guilty of a high crime and.
misdemeanor. If, however, the House shall not think proper
to agree with me on this evening, I shall defer that motion,
conceiving that it would not be attended with success. I
hope, however, that in this case the subject will be taken up
out of doors; that the people will, in every part of time coun-
try, express their abhorrence of the doctrince last night de-
livered by the right honourable gentleman, and that the House
of Commons will be obliged (I do not mean by force, but by
the voice of the country,) to assert those rights which they
have tamely and pusillanimously surrendered. For my own.
part, Sir, I consider this as a more serious attack upon the
constitution of the country, than any that has been conveyed
through the writings of Paine, or of any man whatever. The
nature of a libel is explained by its tendency, to bring into
hatred and contempt the constitution. Were I, said Mr. Fox,
upon a jury, deciding upon any composition containing the
speech of the right honourable gentleman last night, I would
not hesitate a moment to pronounce it a libel upon the con-
stitution : for if the doctrines laid down in it are constitutional,
ours is a most vile and detestable constitution. Even after
all the attacks which have been made upon it, and all the
wounds which it has received, we would still have shed ourblood in its defence; but, if this new defalcation is to be added
to what we were formerly robbed of, I would wish to know
What there is left to interest our feelings, or to stimulate our
exertions. This will, indeed, be an incalculable addition to
all the woes and calamities which the war has produced ; and
if, after what we have lost in money, in reputation, and in
,blood, we are also to submit to this Oppression, the House of
ucmmons is no longer to be considered as a branch of- the
distinguish ; and there will be little in our government to
wstinguish it from that of an absolute monarchy.



December I4.

IN pursuance of the notice he had given,Mr Fox rose and said : — Notwithstanding, Sir, the ita..
portance of the subject of this evening's discussion ; the ap.
parent sense which the House entertains of its magnitude,
from the general attendance which is given; the conversation
which it has excited out of doors; and the decision which
has been this day passed by a respectable public body '" upon
the measure to which it refers; notwithstanding, I say, all
these considerations, I shall deliver the observations which
I mean to make, by way of preface to the Motion that I shall
have the honour to propose, without trespassing for any length
of time upon the patience of the House. And the reason is
shortly this, that much of the argument has been anticipated
in the two debates to which the subject has already given
rise. Besides, upon the fundamental point, or the principle
which the question involves, I shall think it much more be-
coming in me as a British subject, and as a member of par-
liament, to assert rather than to argue, studious not to weaken
the constitution, by stating as doubtful what it has recog-
nized as one of its leading features. The grand principle to
which I refer, Sir, is, that this is a limited arid not an absolute
monarchy, and that it is the peculiar privilege of the House of
Commons, not only, to levy taxes and impose burdens upon
the people, but to judge of the whole expellees of the state;
as well of the mode in which they ought to be applied, as of
the manner in which they ought to be raised. I trust that
this general principle is so universally acknowledged, that
I shall not be called upon to come forward in its defence.
I trust that in these times, and in this House, I shall not
hear a doctrine, which was received at an earlier period, and
which I have since seen revived in writings lately published4
that I shall not, I say, hear it contended, that the disposal of
the public money is a secret which ought not to be entrusted
to a public assembly, but that one or a few individuals are.

The Common Hall of the City of London.

loch more competent to manage and direct the pecuniary
much of the British nation than a British House of Com-
Icons., That an absolute government may be attended with
coy advantages which the government of a free state may
not possess, I am ready to allow. But were I called upon
to argue the question, (which I think is entirely foreign to
the subject of this night's discussion,) laying aside all &e
blessings' of liberty, and laying aside all the energy of cha-
racter which it is so eminently calculated to produce, I think
I should have no difficulty hi proving, that, merely for the
sake of external relations and for the purpose of carrying on
wars, even upon this narrow ground, setting out of view all
the collateral advantages of freedom, there is enough, ccete•is
pa•ibu.c, to turn the scale in favour of a free constitution.
This, however, is a question which I hope I am as little
called upon by the sentiments of the House as by the subject
now before us to discuss. I hope and trust that the prin-
ciple of freedom is recognized as a principle of the con-
stitution, and that, as a constitutional principle, it is received
as just, politic, and wise. I presume, however, it will be
contended, that though the principle be established, it is
Not invariable; that though it generally obtains in the ma-
nagement of the affairs of government, still it is liable to some
exceptions. I certainly inn not disposed to deny that it has
been the practice of the House and of the constitution sonic


times to deviate from the precise line of conduct which this
principle prescribes.

It may be argued, and I do not contravene the fact, that,
from the nature of our continental connections, and at a
period when our arms are employed in foreign service, it is


impossible precisely to state by estimate the amount of the
xpellee. of any separate measure, or of any particular line of

operation. And hence it may be truly inferred, that ex-tra
orclinaries have become necessary to be voted, to cover

expences exceeding the estimates which parliament has
voted; and that even these being found insufficient to provide
for incidental emergencies, it has been usual to pass a vote
of credit to the ITiinister, to be applied according to hisdisc

retion, to such unforeseen conjunctures as may arise.in either of the cases, however, it cannot be said, that the
rn,Pney is either levied or applied wholly without the consent
of since, in the one case it voted the service and
°lily mistook the estimate, and in the other, it voted the
money, confiding in ministers for the wisdom of the applica-(ma A

,,on tut i t must be remembered, that these are exceptions
" the princHe not the act of the con stitution that theyfl're t

- cessary evils which can never be extended beyond the


necessity in which they originate, without some degree ei
criminality in the persons who multiply them. It is not ver y
pleasant to quote a passage from the writings of an author
even in his absence, but much less when he Is present, par-
ticularly when he has not an opportunity of explaining his
own sentiments. My respect for the author, in the present
instance, however, is such, and the sentiments- which he has
expressed in the work to which I refer, seem to me to be
so forcible and just, that I feel I should be doing injustice
to my argument were I to refrain from quoting them. Most
gentlemen, I believe, will have gone before me in supposing
that I refer to a work, intitled, " Precedents of the House
of Commons:" by a very respectable gentleman, Mr. Hat-
sell, one of the clerks of this House. The following is the
passage to which I wish to call the attention of the House:

" Notwithstanding every precaution which can be taken
to confine the expellees of the different services within those
sums, which, after consideration of the estimate laid before
them; appear to the House of Commons to be fully sufficient,
we learn from fatal experience, that this has been found to
be impossible. In all the different services, the navy, the
army, and the ordnance, there has always been an exceeding,
or debt contracted upon each, which has been brought before
parliament ie a subsequent session, under the title of navy
debt, or of extraordinaries incurred and not provided for.
Formerly these exceedings were confined within some limits,
as appears from the accounts entered in the journals during
the war of the succession, and even in the war which ter-.
minated in I 748. In what is commonly called the German
war, in 1758, these sums first became very large: but in the
late war carried on in America, they exceeded all bounds.
There was a

deo-ree of' negligence, or extravagance, or both,

in those who had the conduct of this department, which
rendered all the votes of the House of Commons, or bills for
appropriating the supplies, ridiculous and nugatory. The
sums demanded upon the head of extraordinaries of' the
army, incurred, and not provided for during this period,
Egli not very much short of the whole sums voted by parlia-
ment, upon estimate, for that service."

Sir, Mr. Hatsell afterwards proceeds to speak of the trans-
actions of the year 1734: " The general and unlimited power
which was given by the resolution of time 3d of April, 1734i
to the ministers to apply, out of the aids of the year, such:
sums as the exigency of public affairs

miffht require, was it,

measure entirely subversive of those rules and restrictive
forms of parliament, which the House of , Commons Itave
imposed upon themselves in the mode of granting supplies,

and was contrary to the practice, which had been wisely
established since the Revolution, of' appropriating the sup-
plies- to the services for which they had been voted. We see,
therefore, that this proceeding did not pass without much
difficulty and debate, and that soon after, another, and so far
,rs it is limited, a better mode was adopted, which, though it
gave the ministers credit for the manner of disposing of the
oney voted, confined that credit to a precise and special

This deviation, in times of war, from the usual form
of parliament, can only be justified from the impossibility
of stating, in an estimate, those demands which the unforeseen
exigencies of extensive and uncertain operations may require;
it Is therefore incumbent on the House of Commons, not
only to make this supply of credit as small as possible, but
in a subsequent session to inquire into the particular ex-
penditure of the sum granted, and to be assured that it is
strictly applied to those purposes for which it was intended,
and not squandered loosely, improvidently, wantonly, or,
perhaps, corruptly."

I am happy to observe, also, that since this passage was
quoted last year in another House (by the Marquis of Lens-
down) the book has undergone a new edition, and that the
author, in revising and republishing his valuable work, has
seen no reason to alter his opinion upon the constitutional
danger of granting large votes of credit, and of voting great
sums under the head of extraordinaries, which might have
been previously provided for by parliament.

Having laid down this principle, then, and admitted the
exception, I hope I shall not be accused of pursuing an ar-
gument which would operate as arm objection to all extraor-
dinaries. All I contend is this; that they are an evil, but
an evil which may sometimes be unavoidable, or in other
Words, that they are a mischievous exception to the principle
of the constitution. The measure now before time Housei
uvolves two questions : in the first place, Whether it was
an ex-pence fit to be incurred ? and, secondly, Ought it tohave been incurred in the mode in which it actually has beenincurred, or to have been previously submitted to the decision
of parliament? On the first question, I shall not enter into
ally discussion. And, after I have guarded the House against

Considering it as my opinion, I shall suppose on this day,

it was an expellee proper to be incurred. With thisica havtea:, then, let it be taken for granted, for the sake of ar-
ment, that it was a wise arid prudent measure to remit

ezoo,000t. to the emperor ; yet we have still this important9h
estion to decide — Ought the sum to have been issue.

manner in which it was issued ? In the first place,-


it was not an expence respecting the extent of which we COQ
have been uncertain. Had the remittances been numerouq,
and the services for which they were destined been of a very
complicated nature, it might have been difficult to ascertain
with precision the amoun t of the sum to be granted, but there
could be no difficulty in determining the sum which it was
proper for this country to grant either to the emperor or the
Prince of Conde. I would beg to be informed why, after
the country had been in the practice, year after year, of
maintaining emigrant corps, when it was in meditation to
send supplies to the army of the Prince of Conde, the in,
tention was not communicated to parliament? Or why a
precise estimate, which might have been very easily formed
of that head of expence, was not submitted to the House
along with the other estimates for the year? In the present
case, to rank the expence in the class of extraordinaries,
was in good truth to go the length of rendering extraor-
dinaries absurd and ridiculous, and all the laws of appropria-
tion nugatory and void. To apply the vote of credit to
defraying this expence, was as strange and unconstitutional.
When gentlemen are informed, that so early as December
1795, two hundred thousand pounds were issued to supply
the army of the Prince of Conde, upon what vote of credit
will they naturally suppose the money to have been raised?
It must be considered as an unforeseen expellee, else it ought
not to have been placed to the account of the vote of credit.
From what vote of credit, then, is it natural to suppose that
an unforeseen expence occurring in December 1795, should
be defrayed? One would certainly suppose from the vote of
credit for 17 95. No such thing. It was defrayed from the
vote of credit for 1796. 'What, then, was the conduct of the
right honourable gentleman? In February 1796, he came
down to the House, and said, " After all the taxes which I
hare levied, and all the burdens which I have imposed upon
the country, and grievously the people will, no doubt, feel
them, they arc not sufficient to answer all the exigencies Of
the state, and I must have credit for two millions and a half
more to meet the occurrences of unforeseen services ;" not,
you will observe, to supply the deficiencies of former esti-
mates, but to be applied expressly for the purpose of answere-

ing unexpected, but possible demands. But what does the
right honourable gentleman do? The first use lie snakes
the vote of credit is to pay a remittance of 200,0001. to thcie
Prince of Conde's army in December 1796, and of whi
parliament knew nothing. By way of illustration, I shall
suppose that a gentleman was leaving his house in town t°0
go to the country, or his house in the country to come

,Ilints,0leho, ei.sr, etirliie,.


ctattillill iel that lie called his steward, and gave him a sum of
for the purpose of paying the servants their wages

they became due, and of paying the taxes when they
The steward, we shall suppose, might say,

dthfins very proper, but on, an establishment so
extensive as yours, many expenses in repairs, charities, &c.
may occur for which I am not provided." Well, in con-
sequence of this representation the gentleman gives him 2001.
pr 3 001. more. But what would he think of his steward, if,
instead of keeping this 2001. or 3001. in reserve for unforseen
exigencies, he applied the sum to the payment of debts which
he had formerly contracted, and of which he kept his master
ignorant? Not to use any coarser language, he would cer-
tainly consider him as a steward who was no longer worthy
to be trusted. The analogy holds good in the conduct of
the right honourable gentleman in applying the vote of credit
for defraying expences formerly incurred, and which he kept
secret from parliament.

This, Sir, is something, but it is not all. There were some
suspicious circumstances in the time and manner in which the
vote of credit was applied for. My honourable friend, (Mr.
Grey,) who apprehended something incorrect, I remember
well, was accused of being extremely suspicious, though his
suspicions were certainly very fist from coining near to the
reality, if that could be called suspicion, which formerly, in
parliamentary language, would have been termed a watchful
Jealousy of the conduct of administration. It was matter of
surprise to my honourable friend, as well as to myself; that
application should be made for a vote of credit at so early a
period of the year; and admitting that it could be applied re-
trospectively, it was certainly not too much to expect that in
the disposition paper which was produced in April, some ac-
coun ]caye been given of the application of a sum which
had actually been employed to cover an expellee incurred in
the preceding year. No such account, however, was given
ni that paper. Now, Sir, I ask, what was this but a directfi.
aud upon the public ? Supposing, for argument's sake, that

there wits a difference between the money sent to the army of
Prince of Conde and the sums sent to the emperor; though

there certainly was no material difference, for it signified little
whether we supplied an army which the House of AustriaM ust otherwise have paid and supported, or whether we sent
/nalley to the House of Austria to enable it to pay and sup-1,1ort that army. I wish gentlemen to attend a little to thedebates of the fast session, and to the subjects of public clis-
ussion• They will recollect that there were several circum-

connected with the loan which attracted attention,
vox- vx.

z 5 8 M. rox's MOTION OF [Dec. „

There is one circumstance which it is material to recollect:
the terms upon which it was raised gave occasion to a good
deal of discussion, and they were justified upon several grounds,
one of which was, that we were not to consider it merely as a
loan ; that a quantity of navy debt was to be funded, and that
there might be wanted a loan of three millions for the emperor.
Frcm this I certainly inferred, -that if a loan was to be given
to his imperial majesty, the House of Commons would be
consulted, both respecting its propriety and extent ; that
nisters never would have taken it upon them to grant peen.
Mary succours to any foreign power without the consent of
parliament; that those who were averse to the measure would
have an opportunity of publicly opposing it; and if it was
carried, that at least it would not be adopted till it had as-
sumed a legal and constitutional shape. I heard it also ru-
moured, upon what I considered to be very good authority at
the time, that there were sonic people connected with the bank
who had stated the danger of sending so much specie out of
the kingdom ; and that there were many gentlemen who were
acquainted with the financial state of the country who would
have opposed such a step, not upon political grounds, but
upon their knowledge of the state of public credit. In the
course of the session questions were put to the right honour-
able gentleman several times upon the subject. The answers
were not very decisive, but they led me to conclude, that if
the measure was in contemplation, the House of Commons
would certainly be consulted upon it, before it was finally
adopted. Parliament was not consulted, and the period ar-
rives when we find that money actually was sent to Germany.

And here, Sir, for the sake of argument, I shall also admit
that it was expedient, that it was wise, that it was necessary
to send money to the emperor, that it was necessary fore*
salvation of Germany, and that the salvation of Germanai0
necessary to that of Great Britain. This necessity, then,
arose during the recess, and if they considered it as so impe-
riously urgent as not to admit of the delay of calling parlia-
ment before the money was sent, why did they not assemble
parliament to inform the public of that had been done,
arid to petition for a bill of indemnity Perhaps flleY,
will say, that that might be done as well at the usual period el
the meeting of parliament ; that after the money was granted,
it was unnecessary to assemble them for the purpose of in'.
forming therm of a measure already adopted; that when
sent the first remittance they had no idea of sending a s,
and that when the second was sent, they did not conceiv e t;r3t,:
a third would be necessary; and so on. Well: the
September arrived, when the king bad summonedparliamea

2 7th 01


to meet. One would have thought, that now their own time
was come, that they would have condescended so far as to
communicate the secret. But no 'such communication is made !
Now, Sir, I ask how ministers, when parliament was sitting,
could presume, clandestinely, to send money to the emperor
without either informing-or consulting the House of Commons
upon the subject ? I ask, if there be any possibility of answer-
ing the question to the satisfaction of the House of Commons
of Great Britain, if they are not resolved tamely and pusillani-
mously to surrender the most sacred and important privilege
that has been conferred upon them by the constitution ? I
trust that I shall not hear the argument which was employed
in a former debate restated on this evening ; that secrecy was
observed for the purpose of restoring the credit of the country.
This is too flimsy an argument to impose upon even the most
superficial thinker. To what motive, then, is the conduct of
ministers to be ascribed ? I can account for it upon only one
of two grounds. The first and most natural, I confess, appears
to be, that it was their intention to take advantage of the uni-
versal satisfaction which was occasioned throughout the coun-
try by the successes of the imperial arms, to establish a pre-
cedent against the constitution, by disposing of a sum of money
in an unconstitutional mode upon a favourite object, and thus
to set an example to future ministers to employ the public
money as their judgments may direct, or their caprices dictate,
without consulting the wisdom or acknowledging the authority
of parliament. The only other ground on which they can at-•
tempt to justify their conduct is, that the ministers of the king
are better judges than the House of Commons of the propriety,
the extent, and the period for executing any public measure.
The right honourable gentleman knew for certain whether it
was proper or improper to grant pecuniary succours to the
emperor ; he knew the specific sum which it was proper to
send, and the precise period for remitt i no• it • but, had theremitting

House of Commons been consulted, they would not have been
Proper judges ; they would have been for sending either too
much or too little ; -for sending either too hastily or too tardily.
Such a defence, Sir, instead of extenuating, is an aggravation of
the offence. I ask, if a British House of Commons will bear to
be told by a minister, not only that he is a better judge than they
are of the prerogatives of the crown, which he did with so
much arroaance‘, in 1784, but that he is the best judge also
0f the privileges of the people ? If the case was difficult, why

he not come to the House of Commons for instruction?
If the case was delicate, why did he not depend upon the wis-
d" I of the House of Commons for direction? If Germany
was to be saved by the money of the people of Great Britain,


260 ant. FOX'S :MOTION OF
[Dec. 54.

why were not the House of Commons the saviours? I ask
him, whether he believes that the Ilouse of Commons would
have sanctioned a loan to the emperor, or that they would not?
If he thought that they would, why did he not apply to them?
If he conceived that they would not, why did he dare, not
only to usurp their authority, but to trample upon their privi.
leges ; to dispose of the money of the nation, not only without
the consent, but in direct contradiction to the will of parlia.
ment ? It is pretty well known that I have no great opinion of
the public spirit of the last parliament ; and I do believe, that
after what they did to extend the influence of the crown, and
to infringe upon the liberties of the people ; after their perse-
vering support of a war, as disastrous in its consequences as it
was unjust in its origin ; after their blind and obstinate con-
fidence in ministers, by whom they were deceived and misled,
and after the grievous and intolerable burdens which they im-
posed upon the people; I do believe, I say, that the influence
of the crown would have carried even this question. I am
persuaded, however, it would have been attended with more
than ordinary difficulty, and that parliament would at least
have hesitated before they gave their assent.

But, will the right honourable gentleman pretend to say,
that he was not aware during last parliament, that there would
be any necessity for the measure? I ask him, when he con-
siders the debt as having been contracted, whether, when the
bills were drawn, or when the money was issued ? If he con-
siders the debt as contracted when the money was issued, the
emperor might have received it all, excepting about 77,0001.
as soon, had parliament been consulted, as he did when the
money was sent without their concurrence. But, upon the
other supposition, which is the more favourable of the two for
the right honourable gentleman, that the debt was contracted
when the bills were drawn, and that it was necessary that the
bills should be drawn during the recess ; was I, says the right
honourable gentleman, to take the sense of parliament upon
the payment of a bill after permitting it to be drawn ?
answer, that he must still take the sense of parliament, when
the question comes to be put upon the payment of the extrao r

-dinaries of the army ; and that it is then in the power of the
House of Commons, if not to stop the payment of that speci-
fic sum to the Emperor of Germany, to refuse to cover th..e
deficiency which it has occasioned •in the estimated service.
One of the bills I find to have been dated on the 20th of MaYi
and, if I recollect right, the House was prorogued on the 19th'
Now, I ask, Did he not know, on the 59th, that this bill vies
to be drawn on the 2ctli ? And if he did, which it was im-
possible but he must have done, I ask, when it was his in-


tendon to send money to the emperor, why he concealed it?
When he found that it would be necessary to call upon the
country .for pecuniary aid to the House of Austria, why did
be not inform the public of the additional burden which they
would be called upon to sustain ? When lie was compelled
to have recourse to the House of Commons for support, why
did he not ask that support in a constitutional manner ? Sup-
posing even for a moment, that the urgency of the crisis was
such as to render it necessary to draw the; bills during the re-
cess, why did he not submit the matter to the House of Com-
MOUS as soon as they were assembled ?

Without entering at all into the question of the propriety
of granting these succours, a discussion which I wish on this
evening entirely to avoid, I cannot help making an observa-
tion upon the relation in which we stand to the House of

Austria in pecuniary matters. In 179 5. , this country guaran-
teed a loan to the emperor of four millions and a half. There
were many who doubted at the time the policy of the mea-
sure; and I recollect well that a noble lord urged in behalf
of the good faith of his imperial majesty, that he had made
good his first payment of the interest due upon the loan. I
did not consider it as a very powerful argument at the time-,
because I knew that the money for the first payment of the
interest was deducted from the capital ; and I shall be still
less surprized now to hear of Ins imperial majesty's punctuality
in paying the interest upon that loan after we have remitted
him 1,200,0001. which is three or four times more than any
Suns of interest which he has to pay to this country. I do not
state this as a reason why parliament should withhold


cours from the emperor, but I state it as an additional reason
why ministers should be cautious of granting these succours
without the sanction of parliament.

I have been often accused, Sir, of representing the consti-
tution as in danger. Of these alarms I am willing to take all
the shame, and to the crime, if it be any, I readily plead
guilty. The oftener I think upon the subject, and the
more experience I have of the conduct of ministers, the more
I am convinced that my alarms are just, and my apprehen;.
sions well founded. Upon some measures which I have con-
ceived to be dangerous to the constitution, I allow that there
was room for difference of opinion. The question now before
the House, however, is not, whether the attack is greater
or less than those which have been formerly directed against
the constitution. It is so bold and so daring, and so entirelySubversive of the letter of the constitution, that if it meet the

nction of parliament, the question will be, not how far the
constitution is injured, but whether or not we have any consti-

s 3

162 MR. FOX'S MOTION, &C. [Dec. 14
tution at all? It is upon these grounds that I am induced to
bring forward the motion which I am about to propose.
When it has been thought necessary to add new and extra.
ordinary powers to the crown, to accumulate new descrip.
tions of treason, to inflict cruel, barbarous, and unheard-of
punishments; in fact, to institute something approaching to a
military government, whether these innovations have been
necessary or not, I think they are of such a magnitude as to
have justified some degree of alarm. But if, in addition to all
these new and extraordinary circumstances, there is to be
added a direct attack upon the privileges of this House, and
the Sum of 1,2oo,oco/. is to be disposed of by the minister,
not only in augmentation of expellees approved of by parlia,
meat, but without obtaining the consent of, or so much as
acknowledging, parliament, I should be glad to know where
there is the smallest safeguard of the constitution left, or what
seciirity we can have against the future encroachments, either.
of a minister, or of a prince, who may be disposed to make
them ? I am sure the right honourable gentleman cannot twist
any provision in the vote of credit bill, so as to afford him
the smallest pretence for making the application of it which
he has clone, and the expence can with less propriety be MUG-
duced among the extraordinaries of the army, since it might
have been previously voted upon estimate. In both cases,
whether the money has been paid from the vote of credit, or
under .the head of army extraordinaries, the right honourable
gentleman has been equally culpable: in the one case, be has
been guilty of a breach of trust, and in both he has acted di-
rectly contrary to the principles of the constitution. I move,
Sir, that the act founded on the vote of credit may be read.
[The act being read, Mr. Fox continued.] Some persons
think, that in order to repair the breach of the constitution, a
bill of indemnity ought to be passed : for my own part, I am
not of such an opinion. I think there is no alleviating circum-
stance in any part of the conduct of ministers, to entitle them
to such indulgence. When the subject was under discussion
on a former evening, the right honourable gentleman, instead
of soliciting pardon, came forward with a vindication of his
conduct, and challenged the House if they dared to find fault
with it. I think, therefore, that an act of indemnity would be
improper, because the circumstances have been even a greater
outrage upon the constitution (if a greater be possible) than,
the principle itself. I cannot conceive any more proper mode
of acting, than for the House to express a plain intelligible
opinion upon the measure. I know hot what is their opinion/
nor do I know the opinion of the public upon it; but this I do
know, that he must be sanguine indeed who can hope that the



constitution can long survive such en attack, if the authors of
it are suffered to pass without any mark of reprehension.
gr. Fox concluded with moving, " That his majesty's mi-
nisters, having authorized and directed, at different times,
without the consent, and during the sitting of parliament, the
issue of various sums of money for the service of his imperial
majesty, and also for the service of the army under the Prince
of Conde, have acted contrary to their duty, and to the trust
reposed in them, and have thereby violated the constitutional
privileges of -this House."

Mr. Fox's motion was seconded by Mr. Alderman Combe, and
supported by Mr. Sheridan, Sir William Pulteney, and Mr. Wil-
liam Smith. Mr. Pitt, in a speech of great length, endeavoured
to slim, from parliamentary history, that the measure was not un-.
precedented nor unconstitutional. Mr. Bragge defended the con-
duct of ministers, and moved as an amendment, " The measure
of advancing the several sums of money, which appear, from the
accounts presented to the House in this session of parliament, to
have been issued for the service of the emperor, though not to be
drawn into precedent, but upon occasions of special necessity, was,
under the peculiar circumstances of the case, a justifiable and pro-
per exercise of the discretion vested in his majesty's ministers by
the vote of credit, and calculated to produce consequences which
have proved highly advantageous to the common cause, and to
the general interests of Europe." After a long debate, the House
divided on Mr. Fox's motion :

Tellers. Tellers.
YEAS Mr. Aid. Combo Lord Carrington} 0Mr. Wm. Smith


r. Steele 205.
Mr. Fox's motion was thus negatived ; after which, Mr. Bragge's

amendment was put and carried.


December 3o.

ON the 26th of December, Mr. Secretary Dundas presented amessage from his majesty, acquainting the House with the
rupture of the negociation for peace with France. On the follow-
ing day, Mr. Pitt, -after entering into an elaborate defence of the

act of his majesty's ministers during the progress of the nego-
Ciotti:in, moved, " That an humble address be presented to his ma-
3"tY, to return his majesty the thanks' of this House for his most
gracious message; and for having been pleased to lay before the

S 4


House the papers which have been exchanged in the course of the
'late discussion, and the account transmitted to his majesty of its
final result : to assure his majesty, that we cannot but deeply
participate in the concern which his majesty (from his constant
regard to the interests of his subjects) naturally feels in the dis.
appointment of his earnest endeavours to effect the restoration of
peace, and in the abrupt determination, on the part of the French
government, of the negociation in which his majesty was engaged,
but that it affords us the greatest consolation, and the utmost in.
citement to our zeal and perseverance, to observe the abundant
proofs that his majesty's conduct has been guided by a sincere de.
sire to effect the restoration of general peace, and to provide for
the permanent interests of his kingdoms, and for the general secu-
rity of Europe ;• while his enemies have advanced pretensions, at
once inconsistent with those objects, unsupported even on the
grounds on which they were professed to rest, and repugnant both
to the system established by repeated treaties, and to the principles
and practice which have hitherto regulated the intercourse of in-
dependant nations : — that, in this situation, persuaded that the
present continuance of the calamities of war can he imputed only
to the unjust and exorbitant views of his majesty's enemies, and
looking forward, with anxiety, to the moment when they may be
disposed to act on different principles, we feel it incumbent on us
to afford his majesty the most firm and zealous support in such
measures as may be most likely to bring this great contest to a safe
and honourable issue ; and we place the fullest reliance, under the
-protection of Providence, on his majesty's vigilant concern for the
interests of his subjects, on the tried valour of his forces by sea and
land, and on the zeal, public spirit, and resources of these king-
doms, which can never be called forth under circumstances more
important to their permanent welfare, and to the general security
and interests of Europe."— Mr. Erskine commenced a most elo-
quent reply to the chancellor of the exchequer, but was suddenly
obliged to sit down, in consequence of indispositon. Upon this

Mr. Fox rose and said :— Sorry, indeed, am I on account
of my honourable and learned friend, whose indisposition has
suddenly compelled him to sit down ; sorry for the sake of the
I-louse, whose information, from the train of argument which
he had adopted, has been thus unpleasantly interrupted; and
sorry for the cause of peace and Great Britain, which mini-
sters, by their imprudent counsels and infatuated policy, seem
determined to push to the last verge of ruin, that I am thus
unexpectedly called upon to address the House on the present
occasion. I feel it, however, incumbent upon me to step for'
ward, knowing that my opinion on the subject entirely coin-
cides with that of my honourable and learned friend who hagjust sat down, but lamenting, that in consequence of his indis'position, the argument on this momentous question must cons
siderably stiffer from the want of that ability with which it


would have been enforced by superior powers. I need not
state, that the business before us is of the utmost importance,
that the occasion is such, as, though we may not think it neces-
sary to contemplate it with despair, we cannot survey but with
the most serious considerations, and with feelings of the deepest
regret.• After a war of four years, which is stated to have
been attended with many occurrences highly honourable and
advantageous to the British arms, and to have been

p lied with no disgrace, after the immense expenditure in-
cuffed in the prosecution &hostilities, an expenditure, which
undoubtedly has been greatly aggravated by the extravagance
of those concerned in superintending the plan of operations,
after an addition of no less than two hundred millions to the
national debt, and of nine millions to the permanent taxes of
the country ; after an enormous effusion of human blood ; af-

an incalculable addition to the sum of human wretched-
ness, so far are we from having gained any point or any
object for which we set out in the war, so fin- are we from
having achieved any advantage, that the minister has this
night come forward in a most elaborate speech, and has en-
deavoured to prove, that the only effect has been, that the
enemy have become more unreasonable than ever in their pre-
tensions, and that all hopes of peace are removed to a still
greater distance. 'We are now not allowed to hope for the
restoration of peace, unless some change is wrought by the
events of war. And at what period is this prospect brought
forward ? After a war of four years, which so far from having
produced any favourable change in the disposition of the
enemy, if we may trust to the representations of the right ho-.
pourable gentleman, has only served to increase the insolence,
of their style, and the exhorbitance of their pretensions.
The same necessity is still stated to exist for the continuance
of the war.

It would, Sir, have been some consolation, if after the rightho
nourable gentleman had stated at such length, and with

such an elaborate display of eloquence, the exorbitant preten-
sions of the enemy, he had suggested some means of reducing
them. But, good God, how striking is the contrast ! In this
speech of three hours, I find only one solitary sentence which
is at all calculated to afford any hope of a satisfactory issue to
the present unfortunate contest. And of what materials does
"le remainder of the speech consist? It is merely a revival of
°Pinions by which we have been led on from year to year,

_d by which we have found ourselves constantly deluded.
W e are left in the same hopeless state with respect to the at-
ainment of the object of the contest. The right honourablegentleman says, that he formerly gave a representation of the


deplorable state of the French finances from uncertain doen,
ments, but that he is now enabled to confirm the same repre-
sentation from the most indubitable authority — the statement
of the directory. I am apt to believe that the documents of
the right honourable gentleman in .both instances are equally
authoritative. Formerly he proceeded on the speeches of
leading members of the convention, and on official reports.
He now grounded his statement on a publication of the
directory. If his authority has failed him in former in.
stances, what force can he now attach to conclusions drawn
from similar premises. It has been found from experience,
that in proportion as the finances of the French have been ac-
knowledged, even by themselves, to be reduced to the lowest
ebb, in the same proportion have their exertions been won_
derful and unparalleled. Now the right honourable gentle-
man builds his conclusion of the certain ruin of the French
finances on an immediate statement from the directory. I
wonder that he does not go farther, and quote the very in-
genious letter of Lord Malmesbury, in which he reports the
conversation that took place between him and M. Delacroix,
in this conversation the French minister is represented as
having paid the highest compliments to the extensive means
possessed by this country, as having described it from its in-
ternal sources of wealth, and from its colonies in the Indies,
to be mistress of almost boundless resources. Thus, while
the directory admit that Great Britain is distinguished by her
wealth, and full of resources, they have no hesitation to ac-
knowledge their own poverty and embarrassments. They
acknowledge to all Europe, that from the want of money, the
army is considerably in arrears, and every branch of the in-
ternal administration under circumstances of the greatest em-
barrassment and distress. They at the same time allow to this
country all the advantages of an augmented commerce, and
of increasing opulence and prosperity. In this House we
have heard France represented as sometimes in the gulph,
and sometimes on the verge of bankruptcy; and it is rather
curious, that at different periods we should have heard it al
ternately described at one time as in the very gulph, and at
another as on the verge of bankruptcy. But, while they admit
the ruined state of their own finances, what a striking con-
trast do their exertions in their present contest, and the suc-
cess which has followed from their operations, afford to the
conduct and fate of those who have been entrusted with the
management of the war on the part of this country ! Whilst
we, in every quarter, which it was deemed most important to
defend, have been losing city after city; whilst we have been
equally driven from the possessions which we Conceived to be

necessary to the security of our commerce, or to the balance
of power, France, resourceless and dispirited, all, the while -
avowing her own distressed situation with respect to finance,
and talking in the most respectful terms of our wealth and
resources, has been constantly adding to her acquisitions, and
aggrandising her empire. France appears, in the present
moment, as the conqueror of most extensive and important
territories. Belgium is annexed to her empire, great part of
Italy has yielded to the force of her arms, and Holland is now
united to the fate of the republic by ties of the strictest alliance.
If; indeed, these acquisitions could be regained to the cause
of Great Britain and her allies by a lofty tone of argument, if
the tide of victory could be turned by the dexterity of debate,
and the efficacy of our exertions bore any proportion to the
insolence of our boasting, we need not yet be afraid to claim
a decided superiority. -'We are not at all deficient on the
score of confident assertion or presumptuous menace.

But, Sir, it is by other means, and by another criterion
that this question is to be decided. Weak and inconsidera-
ble as I am in this House, I did my utmost previous to the
commencement of this unfortunate contest, to persuade the
government to send an ambassador to Paris, when undoubt-
edly he would have met with the treatment which an am-
bassador of Great Britain is now alleged to have experienced.
But when ministers tell us, that this ambassador was dismissed
in a way unexampled in the history of civilized nations, they
surely must have forgot the manner in which M. Chauvelin
was sent from this country. At a subsequent period, when
the whole of Belgium was regained, when the French were
not possessed of one foot of ground in that territory, did 1
then neglect my duty to the country ? No ! I then renewed
my motion for peace. This was at the period before the
powers combined against France had gained the fortress of
Valenciennes ; but when it was certain that it must fall, I
contended that then was the period to make peace. And
now ask, if an attempt had been then made to negociate,
whether we might not have expected to have obtained peace
Oil terms as honourable and as advantageous as any which we
can now possibly lay claim to ? Again and again have
Pressed upon the House the necessity and policy of


Imeasures for the restoration of peace, and again and againleave
my motions for that purpose been rejected. In order to


snow how greatly ministers miscalculated the nature of the
cniitest, at that former period when I argued for peace, it

said , " What, make peace before you have achieved a
'ionic contest, and when you are just beginning to make ad-
vances in the country of the enemy !" Such, at that time,


was the style of reasoning brought forward in opposition to
the arguments which I urged in favour of peace. So widely
were ministers then deceived with respect to the nature of the
contest, so falsely did they calculate as to the turn of subse,
quent events ! Unhappy calculation ! Unhappy mistake
The object did not respect a particular branch of trade, or
a limited extent of territory : the most important interests of
the country were at stake. The ministers, by their calcula-
tions, were not pledging Jamaica, or any island of the West
Indies ; they were pledging Great Britain herself, the fate of
which may in some degree be considered as depending on the
issue of this night's debate. The right honourable gentle-
man, formerly, in talking of the nature of the contest, made
use of a memorable expression, which cannot easily be for-lgotten. He intimated that the nature of the contest was such,at our exertions ought to be bounded only by our resources,
and that our efforts must he extended to the utmost pitch,
before we could hope for an honourable termination of the
struggle. He expressly declared that we ought not to cease
from the contest, till we should be able to say,

Potuit quw plurima virtus
Esse, fuit ; toto certatum est corpore regal.

The right honourable gentleman has stated the difficulties
attendant upon the negociation, as arising from two circum-
stances; first, the difficulty in all eases of proposing overtures,
without being able to ascertain what reception they are likely
to experience; secondly, the particular obstacles from the re-
lative situation of the. two countries. The right honourable
gentleman has, however, omitted to state a difficulty more
weighty and insuperable than either of those I have now men-
tioned. In every negociation the difficulty of coming to any
definitive arrangement must be infinitely increased, in propor-
tion to the degree of distrust entertained by the parties with
respect to their mutual intentions. If the right honourable
gentleman had some reason to suspect the sincerity of the
French directory, had not they at least equal ground to en-
tertain the same doubts with respect to his views iii the tier
elation ? After every epithet of reproach had been exhausted
by ministers to vilify their characters, was it to be ex dpecte
that they would readily listen to terms of peace dictated by those
ministers, except they were brought into that state of neces-
sity and submission, which precluded them from any alterna-
tive, and compelled them to an unconditional complianee
with any pacific proposition that might be presented to their
acceptance? When Lord Malmesbury, in addressing the

2691 796.1

French minister, so often brings forward his profession of
hi,rh consideration, I cannot but smile, when I recollect that
Lord Auckland was made a peer (for I know of no other .

for his advancement to that dignity), merely because he de-
clared that the men who are now addressed in such respectful
terms " ought to be put under the sword of the law," and be-
cause he denounced them as miscreants and traitors to all

His lordship, by this declaration, brought for-Europe *-
ward in a public capacity, shelved that he, acting on the part.
of Great Britain, was not slow to be their executioner and
their j udge.

Sir, there is one part of the address, which the right honour-

can by no means subscribe — that his majesty has neglected no
able gentleman has entirely omitted to notice, and to which I

proper opportunity to conclude this war. A few years ago,
when I earnestly pressed the propriety of negociation, the
right honourable gentleman contended, that the French were
not capable of maintaining the relations of peace and amity.
He neither, however, at that time, nor at any subsequent
period, shoved any reason why they were not capable of
maintaining those relations. I ask, in what respect they are
now become more capable of maintaining those relations than
when I formerly proposed to treat ? Will the right honour-
able gentleman say, that then there was only a provisional
government, and that there now exists a permanent constitu-
tion? I am sure that he will not venture to press that argu-
ment, as he must be aware of the extent to which it will lead
him. And if such be the case, I have no hesitation to state,
that the assertion in the address, that no proper opportunity
has been omitted to conclude peace, is entirely false, and as
such, must meet my decided negative. At last, however, the
right honourable gentleman declares, that he felt it his duty to

negociation. I did not think it my duty to come for-
ward to animadvert either on the motives of his conduct, or
for the probable

The r
result of the. measure, till the event had spoken

ie result has proved to be such as, however
. anxiously we may be disposed to deprecate it, it was not diffi-


the country, indeed
a theyright honourable gentleman to be a blessing, must take

cult to foresee from the mode in which it has been conducted.
If th

• consider the administration of the
y s

between the continuance of that blessin• andthe

See Vol. S .,
p. 84.

restoration of peace. It is evident, that those individuals
who have conducted the war with such notorious incapacity,
and entailed so many mischiefs on the country, must of all



others be the most unfit to repair the errors of their own ix,
licy, and secure to Great Britain_ the enjoyment of permanent
tranquillity. But not only have they evinced this glaring
capacity in the management of the present war, their conduct
in former negotiations with respect to Spain and Russia has
been such, as on the one hand to excite considerable distrust,
and'on the other to inspire a well-grounded hope of bringing
them down from the loftiest pretensions to the most burnt,
hating concessions. But what can be thought of their since,
rity in the present instance, when they have repeatedly de,
dared that any peace, under the particular circumstances,
could only afford a breathing space from hostility, and ulti,
mately must tend to redouble all the mischiefs to be dreaded
from a continuance of the war? But even if ministers had
conducted the 'war with ability as distinguished as their inca.
,pacity has been notorious, if they had displayed in debate as
much temper and prudence as they have discovered impoli-
tic and indecent violence, if they had shewn themselves as
much friends to the French as on every occasion they have
endeavoured to prove themselves the reverse; still I should
have no hopes of peace on any permanent basis, except the
present system of policy was entirely changed, and the prin-
ciples upon which the war was undertaken totally disavowed.
If the administration were to be transferred into the hands of
persons whose abilities I admire, and whose integrity I respect,
as much as I contemn and reprobate the talents and character
of those who are now placed at the-helm of affairs, still I should
consider this change of system, and disavowal of principles, to
be a necessary preliminary of peace. It is necessary, Sir, for
the solidity of any peace that may he concluded, that maxims
of sound sense and of impartial equity be recognised in the
outset of the negociation. The present has been a war of pas-
sion and of prejudice, and not of policy and self-defence.
The right honourable gentleman, whatever may have been
his sincerity in the transaction, is no stranger to the advan-
tages that may be derived from the idea of a pending De'
gociation. That lie now feels those advantages nobody will
dispute. I know that some weeks ago a very confident,
report was circulated with respect to the probability, a
peace. It would be curious to know how far Lord Malmes

-bury at that period was influenced by any such belief: It
does AO; appear from the papers on the table, that at the
momatt he could reasonably hope for a successful issue to his,
negociation. It seems doubtful, indeed, from the inspectioniat
those papers, whether Lord Malmesbury was not sent 01'C'.
merely to chew his diplomatic dexterity ; to fence and pall
with M. Delacroix, in order to evince his superior skill anu

3" 5


adroitness in the management of argument, and the arts of
political finesse; to confound the shallow capacity, and super-
ficial of the French minister and to make the
cause of this country appear to be the better cause. 'While
Load Malmesbury was employed thus honourably in the dis-
play of his talents at Paris, the minister had an object of
policy to answer at home. It was' found convenient for the
purpose of financial arrangements to hold out the hopes of
peace,ae till such time as it was found that the appearance of
negociation might be renounced without any unfavourable
effect, as to the supplies of the year.

But, in order more completely to ascertain the sincerity
which has been shewn by ministers in the desire which they
have expressed for'peace, and the fairness of the means which.
they have employed for the attainment of that object, it may .
be necessary to enter a little more minutely into the history of
the negociation, and to follow the right honourable gentle-
man through the long detail which he has brought forward
on the subject, and which was sufficiently laboured to prove
that he was aware of all the difficulties with which he had to
contend in vindicating the character of the British govern-
ment, and of the necessity of putting the most favourable
gloss uPon their conduct. The first step taken fbr the pur-
pose of negociation was, the communication at Basle, in
which Mr. Wickham had been engaged as the agent of the
British government. As he was not authorized to take any
definitive step, or to ma14.e any declaration binding on the
government, but little stress could be laid on that circum-
stance. Those, however, who attended to the details of that
transaction, would not be disposed, even in that early stage
of the business, to draw any inference very favourable to the
sincerity of ministers. The mission of Lord Malrnesbury is
unquestionably- what ministers wish to be considered as the
grand effort for peace, -and as affording an unequivocal proof
of thesincerity of their wishes for its attainment. Of the
details of that negociation we are enabled to judge from the
Papers which have been laid upon the table of this House.


Until the publication of his majesty's manifesto on the subject,
acquainted with the circumstances of that trans-

il:it', I;l ltiolsitIl (fTol the statement of the public prints. I was not a
e surprized when the manifesto reached me in the country,
from the perusal of its contents was induced to suspect.

that30Iiiii sbelutist leave been completely misled in my previous in-
on. On the inspection, however, of the papers laid

I was still more surprized when I found that
the public prints were much more accurate in their represent-
ation of facts than his majesty's declaration. Never, indeed,


[Dee, 30.

was there any paper brought forward with the stamp of of:
ficial authority so little connected with the documents ups'
which it is professed to be founded ; so little warranted in the
conclusions drawn from its premises. It entirely conceals the
most important facts of the negotiation, and states the others
so loosely as not to exhibit them in any precise and distinct
shape. The right honourable gentleman has stated, th at a
degree of disrespect was in the first instance shewn to a foreign
court by the French _directory, in their refusal to grant a
passport for a British ambassador, upon the application ej
the minister from the court of Denmark. But how does this
fact stand ? The court of Denmark did not at all interfere
in the. business. The Danish minister in the letter in which
he applied for a passport, expressly stated, that he acted
merely in a private capacity, and not in consequence of any
instruction which he had received from his court. So much,
then, for the alleged disrespect shewn by the French to a
foreign court, and the inference which is thence drawn of a
disposition thus manifested to throw contempt on all esta-
blished usages, and to dispense with the ordinary forms of
accommodation, and the understood civilities of political

I understand, that as an apology for bringing forward the
manifesto previous to the publication of the papers, much has
been said of the mechanical labour of preparing those papers
for the inspection of the House. I have formerly been in
office, and I believe that those who are now engaged in the
service of the department are fully as capable and diligent as
the persons by whom I was then assisted. And I confidently
declare that I see nothing in the mechanical labour of those
papers that, if they had arrived on Saturday morning,
ought to hale prevented them from being in a state of readi-
ness to be produced on Saturday evening. But I rather
suspect, that with regard to the publication of the manifesto,
it was thought expedient to attempt to give a bias to the sen-
timents of the House, before it was deemed advisable to
submit the facts contained in the papers to their cool and
sober investigation. As to the delay which has been imputed
on the score of mechanical labour, I am rather disposed to
believe that it was purposely interposed, in order to afford 10
ministers an opportunity of revising the papers, and of


ciding what part ,of their contents it might be prudeet
suppress, and what might be safely submitted to the publliln

eye. It is curious to attend to the nature of the powers Wi'
which Lord Malmesbury was furnished, and to their conn,_:
tion with the object of his mission. He was sent in 0017
to negotiate for peace, and furnished with full pow er50


onchide ; but though lie was thus authorized to conclude, he
allowed no latitude to treat. He had no instructions with

respect to the terms he should propose, and no discretion
uf )011 which to act with respect to the propositions he might

ceive. When he was asked, if he came to treat for the
King of Great Britain separately ? he said, No : but that he
came jointly to treat for the King of Great Britain and his
allies. When lie was asked, if lie was furnished with any
powers from those allies? he again replied, No. 'When he
leas asked, what terms he had to propose ? he said lie would
send for instructions. Thus it appeared, that he was em-
powered to conclude for the King of Great Britain, but not
qualified to treat; and that for the allies for whom lie came
to treat, lie had no power to conclude. Could there possibly
be a more ridiculous farce — a more palpable mockery of the
forms of negociation ?

We next come to the basis; and this, indeed, carries us
but a little way in the progress of negotiation. In this in-
stance, the basis was laid so wide, as to comprehend no dis-
tinct object, and to be reducible 1;0 no precise meaning. It
was that sort of general principle which no one could possibly
dispute, but which could at the same time be attended with
no practical benefit. The French accordingly stated, that
they had agreed to your principle, and that they only disputed
its application. The right honourable gentleman has asserted
that a basis is always desirable ; but then, it ought to be a

which meant something, and not, as in the present in-
stance, which meant nothing. The principle of mutual com-

substantially recognized in every negotiation,


and b


is r

equire to be specified. The general objects of
dispute in fixin,,,la a basis of negotiation have been, whether

regulated by the status quo ante helium, or the
Sri possidetis?

r te
right honourable gentleman stated, as a

proof of reluctance to negotiate on the part of the French,
that they for some time hesitated to admit our proposed basis ;b m fact, they virtually recognized the principle when
they entered into the discussion of terms. He who asks,
w hat you will give, or states what lie is willing to receive, at
°nee admits the basis of mutual compensation. But - as a
Proof of the consistenc y of ministers, a fortnight afterwards,
\dice the French formally recognized the principle, and.
asked Lord Malmesburv, what terms he was prepared to
t"Pnse; lie Was unprovided with any answer, and obliged

° send to this country for instructions. What inference is

be drawn from this conduct on the part of ministers.? Is
not most probable, that by thus bringing forward a futile,

' Ilus°r37, and unmeaning 'basis, they expected to disgust the

French in the first instance, and at once to get rid of the
negociation ? And if the French, who must have felt then,
selves mocked by this treatment, and who must have beet
more and more assured of the insincerity of our ministers,
had thought proper to stop all farther proceedings, would
they not have been fully justified? On what principle wet,
they bound to countenance a transaction which was conducted
with no good faith, and could promise no satisfactory issuer
Undoubtedly ministers expected that the French would resent
the insult, and break off the negociation in its outset. They
thus hoped to obtain an easy credit for their pacific intentions,
and to throw upon the enemy the odium of determined
hostility, and an unreasonable rejection of the preliminar;
basis of negociation. Unfortunately, however, for t6
project, the basis was recognized. The disappointment of
ministers was evident. Lord Malmesbury was unprepared
how to act, and obliged to send home for farther instructions.
The question with ministers .then became, 46 Since the French
have so ungraciously and unexpectedly accepted the basis
which we intended to be rejected, what can we find that they
must be indispensably called upon to refuse ? What terms of
insult and humiliation can we find that may rouse their pride,
and inevitably provoke rejection ?" Lord Malmesbury, who
before had no terms to propose, was now instructed to bring
forward terms for the purpose of being rejected; and care
was taken that they should be of such a nature as could
not undergo much discussion, or readily to fail of their

1 come now, Sir, to consider what was said by the right
honourable gentleman with respect to the particular terms.
In commencing this part of his speech, he thought sow
apology necessary for the sort of terms which had been pro-
posed by Lord Malmesbury on the part of this country. 11(
stated that it was always usual to be somewhat high in out
demands in the first instance; that propositions at the OM-
mencement of -a negociation were never considered as decisive,
and that, in the progress of treating, we might relax fi•o
our original demands as circumstances should render expe-
dient. But, was the right honourable gentleman so unfit for
the situation which he held, so ill qualified to judge of the
conduct which was proper for those times, as seriously t°
maintain this argument? Did lie not recollect, that, fro°
what he had himself stated, negociation itself might be coo:
sidered as made upon a hostile principle? He had described
it as a negociation, the unsuccessful result of which must te nd
to divide France and to unite Great Britain, which

rtagive indubitable confirmation to the justice'of our cause, a


add double energy to our future efforts. In this situation,
.od with this particular view, what wise man would have
looked to the last precedent of negociation in order to regulate
his conduct, and have conceived it necessary to proceed with
all the tediousness of forms and dexterity of diplomatic
artifice, which might have been employed in any former in-
stance? Instead of carrying your pretensions higher than
you might be disposed to accept, you should have gone to
the other extreme; you should have stated them at the lowest
point of what you deemed to be fair and equitable, and, if
nay thing, have been rather below the mark of what you
might fairly claim, than exorbitant and unreasonable in your
demands. You would thus have secured the end which the
minister professed to have in view— to render apparent to
all Europe the equity and moderation of your own sentiments,
and the injustice and ambition of the enemy. Had the
French, from a suspicion of your sincerity, been inclined to
break off the negociation in the first stage, they might have
said, "As no basis has been agreed upon, we see that the
negociation can come to no good, and therefore we will stop
all farther proceedings." But when they acceded to your
basis, and invited you to propose particular terms, it became
you to be doubly careful, by the fairness and moderation with
which you acted, to demonstrate the equity of your character,
and vindicate your sincerity in the eyes of Europe.

I shall now advert, Sir, to the two confidential memorials.
I confess that I never was more struck with the impossibility,
even for talents the most splendid, and eloquence the most
powerful, to cover the weakness of a cause, and supply the
deficiency of real argument, than in the instance of what the
right honourable gentleman said with respect to Holland.
Even if Holland should be restored to its former situation, if
the Stacltholder should be reinstated in the government, and
the alliance renewed with this country, the right honourable
gentleman does not go the length of saying, that even then
he would restore to Holland all her former possessions. No :


bl 'eer night then, perhaps, only be disposed to relax in their
favour a considerable part of the conditions on which thepresent

state of thinas obli gess him to insist. A rightt ho-
nourable gentleman(Mr. Dundas) some time since made a


cimprudent declaration in this H ouse — that as we had
Cape of Good Hope and Ceylon, we meant to keep

for ever. VII c feel ourselves, it seems, too nearly in-

terested in those acquisitions to be disposed to relinquish them.
.ibis is reasoning very much i la Francaise. We say that it
's better even for the Dutch themselves, that Ceylon and the
'Pe of Good Hope should be in our hands than in theirs.



The French may, with equal justice, allege the same pretence
fbr their refusal to part with Belgium. They may say that it is
more fbr the interest of Belgium that it should remain
their hands, than that it should be restored to Austria. 13et
if Holland be not, in every respect, reinstated in her former
situation, then, says the right honourable gentleman, we
have nothing to propose. It is curious to remark, in the
very moment that he is at such pains to represent the demands
of the French as in the highest degree exorbitant and unjust,
how much he countenances those demands by the style of his
own pretensions. He says, " We have taken a great deal from
Holland, they have taken nothing from us, therefore we are
not bound in justice and equity to make them any restitution;
Inn, if Maestricht, or some place, be ceded to the emperor
for the security of the Austrian Netherlands, we may perhaps
be induced to'rnake them some restitution, but on no account
can we consent that Ceylon or the Cape of Good Hope shall
be restored." On the same grounds might the French
say, " We have taken a great deal from the emperor, he has
taken nothing from us, we therefore are . not bound in jus-
tice and equity to make him any restitution : we demand
that the uti possi delis shall be the basis of the negotiation,."
What are the specific proposals which you make to the
French ? You propose to them to give up all their conquests
to the emperor, and to evacuate Italy. The right honour-
able gentleman has said, that it is a strained geographical
supposition, that by this demand with respect to Italy, it
should be understood that they are also required to evacuate
Savoy and Nice. I know not upon what geographical au-
thority he proceeds, when he affirms that this would be a
strained supposition. I always thought that these places had
been in no other country but Italy ; perhaps I may have been
mistaken. You propose to the French to evacuate Italy, to
give up the Milanese, Belgium and Luxemburgh ; you de-
mand of them to negoeiate the arrangement of peace with
Germany, with his imperial majesty as constitutional head of
the empire. And though the French are already at peace
with the most considerable Germanic powers, with the King
of Prussia, with the Electors of Saxony, Hanover, &c.
thus would place them in a situation in which they would
have to begin all these treaties anew. You hint, indeed, that
in consequence of this arrangement, which supposes on then
part so great a sacrifice, it is not impossible that soo.e
cession may be made to them on the Germanic side of 0'6'1.
frontiers. And in return for all the sacrifices you require fro?
the French, you offer to restore to them Martinique, St. 1.4108:


13t1).1faoi aity
.tttootif really


reserving, however, one of them as an equivalent,

if they are to retain St. Domingo.
i'The restoration of Belgium is stated as a s te qua non ; it has

been represented to be of the utmost importance, that it should
not be suffered to remain in the hands of the French. I
should, indeed, regret to see Belgium attached to the territo-


f for

republic; but if you are really sincere in your

wishes you consider Belgium as an object of so
much value, do not offer brass for gold. Let us put the case,

Belgium was still in the hands of' the emperor, how would
treat the offer of two or three West India islands, on the

the French, in order that it might be given up to them?,
wished France to give up Belgium, you should

have offered to give up the Cape of Good Hope, which a de-
termination has been so indiscreetly expressed to retain. I

have no hesitation in saying, that it ought only to be con-
sidered as an instrument to procure the restoration of peace
on lilvourable terms, and that if you could get a proper equi-
valent, you ought not to keep it. What you now offer is
trifling indeed, and if France should comply with your de-
mands, what would be her relative situation with respect to
the other powers of Europe? She would, in that case, have
given up Belginm, Luxemburgh and Italy, and farther it is
required, that something should be ceded to the emperor, in
order, as is stated, to render him secure on the side of the
Austrian Netherlands.

• The three great powers of Europe
will all of them be left with considerable acquisitions. The
King of Prussia has gained a third part of Poland. Russia
has obtained a considerable extent of territory from that un-
fortunate country ; and, in addition to his share in the division,
it is also proposed that the Emperor of Germany shall be put
in possession of Maestricht, or of some other place. France
is only to be left with Savoy, Nice and Avignon. Is the state
of the war such as to justify this proposition ? Is it fair and
equitable that all the other powers should gain more than
France? When Great Britain made a proposition so un-
reasonable, France naturally took a step calculated to give
Confidence to the people in those countries she had annexed
to the republic, by declaring that on no account could she
Consent to give them up. In the ingenious conference which
took place between the British ambassador and the French
'Y' i" ister, Lord Malmesbury declared that the King of Great
ii,rttain would not recede from his demand with respect to theNetherlands. Must not the French, in consequence of thisdecl

aration, have been induced to assume an equally resolute
104e with respect to their intention of keeping that territory,
' hen, from the nature of the terms proposed, they perceived

T 3


no likelihood that peace could be had ? As to the French
minister having asked Lord Malmesbury to give in his 114,
matum, it evidently meant no more than that he should make
a formal declaration of what he had said with respect to Bei,
gium ; a demand which surely cannot be considered asili,
reasonable. After having heard this day so much statttLey
the value of Belgium, and such importance attached tr. 11,e
demand that it should be restored to the emperor, I
but recollect that it is not very long since the peop le of
that country were in a state of rebellion, and that it was sur.
mised at the time, that we were by no means averse to support
them in their endeavours to shake off the Austrian yoke. But
however great the value of Belgium may be, is it an object of
such immense consequence as to justify the continuance of a
long, a hazardous, and destructive war ? Is it worth
contended for at the expence of such blood and treasure?
And even if the objects be deemed so valuable as to justify all
these sacrifices, there is another question to be considered.
If, in addition to that expellee and carnage with which the
war has already been attended, it be proper to sacrifice a
hundred millions more, and a hundred thousand men for its
attainment, it ought also to be shewn that it is attainable by
those means. From the experience of the past, who will pre-
tend to say that a continuance of war and all its calamities
will tend ultimately to bring you nearer to your object?
ought, beside, to be recollected that the emperor, who is your
friend to-day, may be your enemy to-morrow. I remember
that it is not eight months since the emperor was not so much
a favourite with ministers; perhaps, indeed, they were cautious
in expressing their partiality, lest it should be suspected that
money was then going to the court of Vienna. At that time,
the King of Sardinia was extolled as a pattern of fidelity to
all princes: the emperor seemed to make no figure in the
comparison. I do not mean to impute to the Sardinian
monarch any breach of faith ; circumstances of necessity com-
pelled him to conclude a treaty with the French republic,
and we have not heard in what situation he is now to be con-
sidered with respect to this country. Ministers have alteadY
sent large sums to his imperial majesty : we are are about to
make still farther advances, and it cannot be calculated that,
the alliance can be maintained at an expence to the country 01
less than two millions annually. I mean no reflection on the
character of the emperor; but if we should not be able to
grant him the same assistance, he may be reduced to the man!e
necessity as the King of Sardinia, and compelled to conclude
a peace. When all these circumstances are considered/ t()-A
,e her with the sacrifices which must necessarily be incurreu

in the attempt to wrest Belgium from the French, and the
uncertainty of obtaining the object, the minister, who on that

und only shall refuse to make peace, has undoubtedly muchar0
to answer for on the score both of policy and humanity.

And here, Sir, comes the question of the treaty concluded
with the emperor i,n 1793, by which we engaged not to lay
down our arms without his consent. I greatly lamented the

such treaty at the time, and then beought
that it was the duty of the House not toforwar

dconclusion a

of any

approve of any engagements that might tend to create obsta-
cles in the way of peace. If we urge the stipulations of a
treaty, as a reason why we cannot conclude peace but on cer-
tain terms, we directly sanction the sort of argument which is
represented as so unjustifiable on the part of the French. I
certainly am no friend to setting up the constitution of France
against the droit publique of Europe. But, are the French
in their arrangements to consider the engagements of our
treaties, as of greater weight and consequence than we affect
to consider theirs? The right honourable gentleman has put
the case, that supposing the French constitution decreed that
the city of Westminster formed an integral part of the repub-
lic, were we bound to respect such a determination ? The•
case may be retorted, that if we by our treaty with the emperor
had stipulated to put him in possession of Paris, with what
colour could so ridiculous a stipulation be urged as an obstacle
to peace ? We had no more right to talk of our treaties, than
they of the regulations laid down with respect to their bound-
mines. If an absurd or impracticable condition is introduced
into a treaty, is there not reason to suspect, that it has been
foisted in merely for the purpose of throwing difficulties in the
Ivay of peace ?

The right honourable gentleman has gone at length into the
Subject of the French constitution. He laid great stress on a

emark of M. Delacroix, that it would be impossible to revoke

the regulations of the constitution with respect to the bound-
ries of the republic without convening the primary assemblies.
Ns, which he treated as an exaggeration of time proposition

0f the French minister, that it was impossible to give up any .
part of the territory annexed to the republic, I, on' the





ini sidher in the light of an explanation, and as doing
all the offensive part of the principle. For instance, if

e Prince of Hesse Darmstadt had applied to me, as a mi-It.n,
,',! ster of this country, to conclude with him a subsidiary treaty,
:irth the

measure advisable, I would have signified mytlead iness to acquiesce in his application; but at the same time
p have told him, that I must first consult the House of
• ""ons, and that without their approbation the constitution

T 4


declared that it was impossible to dispose of any part of the
public money. The same conduct I should have pursued to.
wards the emperor, in making advances to whom,
during the present session, have thought themselves entitled to
-dispense with the- most valuable privilege of the House of
Commons. And when, in this instance, I cited the constitution
of this country, it could not be considered as a direct nega.
tive on the application, but only as throwing a difficulty in the
way of the measure. We are not bound to respect the French
constitution ; but they, undoubtedly, in the course of nego.
ciation, may fairly urge any ground of difficulty which its re-
gulations present to a compliance with our demands.

The right honourable gentleman has imputed to the French,
all the odium and blame of breaking off the negociation. He
says, that we arc not bound by any thing as a sine qua" non,
for that, in the nature of a negociation, is impossible until
it is concluded. That, Sir, is easily stated in the course of a
debate. But whatever the right honourable gentleman may
say upon the subject, the world at large, in judging dispassion-
ately upon it, will regard the memorial of Lord Malmesbury
as the sine qua non of the court of Great Britain respecting
Belgium. You say it may be recovered by force of arms.
Good God! what is the probability of that event? 'What
arc we to do ? What can we do ? What security have we
that we shall not sink in our prospects upon that event, and
that they will not rise in proportion as we sink ? Remember
the time when Belgium was in possession of the allies, and it
was proposed that we should enter upon a negociation for
peace then, and at which time the French would have gladly
attended to terms of peace of which they will not now hear.
What, in. the prosecution of this unhappy contest, are you to
look for the farther you proceed, but terms still worse than
those which you might 'obtain even now, if you gave proof of
sincerity in the negociation ? Consider what your disgrace
will be if you fail to recover Belgium, which you have told
the world is a sine qua non. Are you prepared for all the ha-
zards that may attend it? If you are, say so at once boldly,
and act like men ; but do not amuse the people of this hcountry
by a delusive pretence, as you did by an amendment, wich
you adopted, to get rid of the motion of an honourable
of mine, and in which you stated to Europe that you wool",
negotiate with Fiance when her government was capable 0 .
maintaining the relations of peace and amity with other
powers*. I know that these little tricks and artifices

Sec Vol. V. p. 367.


bad their ends. They have often, much too often, been



.ed to cover the dexterity of a debate; and in some situ-
tionS theyt may almost appear harmless; but these little quib- '

Ming distinctions are not adapted to the important affairs of
which we are now to consider. The minister, in ordinary
cases, shall be welcome on my part to his little triumph in such
little artifices : but these are not times to indulge him in them.
He is not made for these times of great difficulty. When the
fate of a question, comparatively indifferent, is before us, his ta-
lents are well adapted to obtain success, which, for my own part,
.1 do not envy him ; but when the fate of empires depend upon
our proceedings, we should not give way to his vanity. These
arc times that require openness and candour, and a determi-
nation to look at the posture of our affairs in a bold and un-
daunted manlier. Prevarication, subterfuge, and evasion, will
not now do. The plain question now is, peace or war ? How-
ever the right honourable gentleman may contrive to persuade
the majority of this House, that his inclinations bend towards
peace, I have no doubt, but the papers in the interest of mi-
nisters will hold forth to the public, that the vigorous prose-
cution of the war is the only measure which the country has
left for its security. Members of this House, when they go
into the country, will perhaps hold a different language, and
tell their constituents that they do not hold themselves pledged
to a continuance of the war. But it will not be believed. The
sine quit non with regard to Belgium, will overbalance the as-
sertions of members of parliament. Parliament has not that
credit which it once had—parliament does not deserve to
have that credit.

There is, Sir, a generally prevailing idea, that the House
cannot get rid of the decision of this day. The question is
plainly, peace or war ? The proposition of a negociation was
said to be for peace : the present address is evidently for war.
it will not be got rid of by any ambiguous shuffling, by way
of amendment, as former motions in this House have been.
An honourable friend of mine near me (Mr. Grey) some time
agc, moved a fact. The minister thought proper to decline
It, but he did not dare to do it by a direct negative ; heth

erefore got rid of it by a shuffling amendment. In con-
sequence of the cavils of that day, one hundred millions
erling have been added to the national debt, and half am illion of souls have been swept from the face of the earth.

If the House shall be of opinion, that Belgium is really en-
titled to be regarded as a sine qua non, that it is an objectfo r which this country ought to continue at war, till it has
'lair another hundred millions, and shed the blood of
'W rit million more of our fellow creatures; if the House is



of this opinion, it ought openly to declare it. If, on th
contrary, the House should think with me, that this count
ought riot to expend such immense treasures of money and':
blood to obtain Belgium, in order to restore it to the em;
peror, who may, perhaps, in a short time, be no longer our
ally ; then let them act like men, and by some fair and nu.
equivocal amendment, convince the country, that they -will
no longer be parties to such a dreadful waste of blood and

I now come, Sir, to what is said with regard to the break-
ing off the negociation, by making Belgium a sine qiui 12011.
If it be true that Lord Malmesbury did this, I ask upon what
ground it was done ? 'Was the emperor a party to the ne-
gociation? Here, then, is a sine qua non made in a matter
intended solely for the benefit of the emperor, to which,
nevertheless, he is not a party, and which we do not know
whether he himself would absolutely insist on or not. Surely
this might have been known before the negociation was
entered upon. When we were so often sending such immense
sums to the emperor, millions after millions, surely some
person or other employed in those offices might have asked
the question. Has any one done so? No. I ask any
partial man, then, if this is not a mere mockery? But, says
the right honourable gentleman with great emphasis, why
did not the directory present a contre projet ? To whom
should they present it? Was the emperor a party? No.
They had, then, no one to present it to, for every thing
contained in our prqjet was for the emperor's benefit alone.
I agree with the right honourable gentleman as to the prin-
ciple, that a people, who come into the power of another
people by the chance of war, cannot, by the law of nations,
be disposed of, lawfully, till the definitive treaty of peace
is concluded ; but this is very different from a people who
are left at liberty to chase a government for themselves,
and who, after such liberty, voluntarily adopt the step of
uniting themselves with their neighbours, and those who,
perhaps, at one time might have claimed over them the right
of conquest.

Sir, there is one thing very remarkable, that in all this
negociation, where almost every possession of all the parties
is taken notice of, one place should never once have heel
mentioned. The name of the valuable and important island
of Corsica never appears in a single instance. Did ministers
say when they took Corsica, You may form a government Of
your own, and be a free people? Did they offer to leave then/
to themselves? No; they sent a viceroy. Sir Gilbert Elliot
went as a representative of his majesty, cooked them


constitu tion, half French, half English, and endeavoured to
detach them entirely from any predilections they might be

se sed with in flavour of French principles. The French
were, and always had been, represented by ministers, and
those they employed, as a hoard of assassins. Suppose the
Corsicans had said, they chose the King of Great Britain as
their king, and had desired, in the strongest terms, to be
attached to the British empire as a part of it, and entreated.
that they might not be given up to this hoard of assassins;
would you have said in a negociation for peace, that Corsica
was an object of restoration ? I fancy not. May not the
French, then, use the same argument with respect to Bel-

? On,former occasions, when I said that the conquests
in the West Indies would be a means of negociation, the .
right honourable gentlemen started at the idea. He then
ridiculed the notion of a status quo ante Odium ; he par-
ticularly alluded to Martinico, which he said was not to be
considered like a conquest in former wars; that this island
was taken at the particular request of the inhabitants of it,
who all desired to be taken into the protection and allegiance,
and to become subjects of his Britannic majesty. Martinico
was, however, mentioned in this negociation, and the right
honourable gentleman had gone off from his high language.

The right honourable gentleman has mentioned the break-
ing off the negociation as " a matter of disappointment, but
not of despondency or despair." I certainly am not one of
those who despair of the country. I very well know that
we are not yet at the end of our resources; but I am certain
that we are every day approaching nearer to it. If we had
peace at this moment, I have very little doubt but, with
economy in every department, a due regard to the finances,
and to the encouragement of the commerce and manufactures
of the country, we might still retrieve ourselves from ourp
resent difficulties; but if the war is to continue any length

of time, God only knows what may be the dreadful conse-
quences ! Certain, however, it is, that peace cannot be ob-
tained! by a perseverance in the present system. It must be
Changed. I am not one of those who wish to alter the con-sti

tution: I wish only to reform it; to restore the voice ofthe people to that rank in it which it is entitled to hold;t
° inake the opinion of the minister nothing; to see that ofthe people every thing. I am told, You wish for a removal

try, the present ministers. I for one certainly do. The coun-
' 1Y, in my opinion, cannot be saved without it. The people

chase. ET there are those who love the constitution
under which ey were born, and not the defacings of it by
ministers, it is

- me for them to stand forward, to skew them-


selves, and by constitutional means renovate that constitu.
tion, which alone can save them and their posterity from
inevitable ruin.

It has been said, Sir, that the breaking off the negociat',
was all owing to the unreasonableness of the enemy. I
not think so. They have taken advantage of the situatic:,
in which their great success has placed them. If they shoy
be able to continue their successes; if they should in cc;
sequence rise in their demands; there must be great alter..
ation in the conduct of ministers, or our situation will
deplorable indeed. I cannot here help reflecting on
period of the American war. Able men used then to
" It is not our fault; we are not to blame; 'tis all owing t9,
the unreasonableness of the enemy that we do not obtaili
peace." Infatuated and self-abused men ! They were aft&
wards, fatally for the interests of this country, convinced 'off
the folly of such arguments, and obliged to accept of terr
far less favourable than they might have obtained, had
gociations been entered upon long before they were. But,
good God, Sir ! what were the calamities then, compared to
those with which we have now to struggle? What the pros-
pect of extricating ourselves then, compared with the present?
The contemplation of the difference is shocking. To Ante-
rica we had little to give but her independence, and the
trouble of conciliating her lost affection; to France, Spain,
&c. mutual restitutions. In the present case, we have no
prospect but the continuance of the war; and the con*
quences of that are too dreadful to anticipate, farther than
I have already done. There is one other part of the right
honourable gentleman's political conduct, which strikes upon
my mind at this moment, and which I cannot forbear to
mention; I mean his entrance into parliament. This was
towards the close of the American war. He began his par-
liamentary career by opposing it most vehemently, and soon
after the majority which had carried on the war was put an
end to, the right honourable gentleman complimented the
Rockingham administration, and said, " You have destroyed
the majority which carried on the American war ; but you
cannot be sure of having gained your end, if you do not
strike at the root of the evil: there must be a radical reform,
otherwise ministers may, on future occasions, arise, who will
again plunge the country into more bloody and expensive
wars than even that we have got rid of." The predictions
of the right honourable gentleman have been now fatally
accomplished. He himself has lived to become that very
minister, whose anticipated misconduct he had so feelin,gy
deplored, and no sooner did he become possessed of minis-


terial influence, than he used it more liberally than his pre-
] essors had ever done, not only to prevent reform, but to•tiec
stab the constitution in every vein, and to plunge us into
armaments and wars far more prodigal, both in blood and
treasu re, than had ever been known before in the annals of
our history. Sir, I shall not trouble the House any farther

present. I have already taken up too much of their time.
Before I sit down, however, I intreat the House to give the
subject the most mature examination. If they are not for the
continuance of the war, I hope they will, like men, withdraw
their confidence from that quarter, where it has been, in my
opinion, so long misplaced, and vote for the amendment
which I shall have the honour to submit to the House.
Mr. Fox then moved an amendment, by leaving out from
the word " result," at the end of the first paragraph, to the
end of the question, in order to insert these words,

" Your majesty's faithful Commons have learnt with inexpressi-
ble concern, that the negociation lately commenced for the re-
storation of peace has been unhappily frustrated :

" In so awful and momentous a crisis, we feel it our duty to
speak to your majesty with that freedom and earnestness which
becomes men, anxious to preserve the honour of your majesty's
crown, and to secure the interests of your people : in doing this,
we sincerely deplore the necessity we feel, of declaring that, as
well from the manner in which the late negociation has been con-
ducted, as from the substance of the memorial, which appears to
have produced the abrupt termination of it, we have reason to
think 'your majesty's ministers were not sincere in their endea-
vours to procure the blessings of peace, so necessary for this
distressed country :

" The prospect of national tranquillity, so anxiously looked for
by all descriptions of your majesty's subjects, is at once removed
from our view ; on the one hand, your majesty's ministers insist
upon the restoration of the Netherlands to the emperor, as a sine

• qua non, from which they have pledged your majesty not to recede ;
while on the other, the executive directory of the French repub-
II?, with equal pertinacity, claim the preservation of that part
ot their conquest as a condition from which they cannot depart :

" Under these circumstances, we cannot help lamenting to
your majesty the rashness and injustice of your majesty's ministers,
whose long continued misconduct has produced this embarrassing

uation, by advising your majesty, before the blessings of peacehail been unfortunately interrupted, to refuse all negociation for
the adjustment of the then subsisting differences, although theNetherlands, now the main obstacle to the return of tranquillity,Were not then considered by the French republic as a part of
their territory, but the annexation of them solemnly renounced,
and the peace of Europe offered into your majesty's hands, upon
the basis of that renunciation, and upon the security and inde-

pet dence of Holland, whilst she preserved her neutrality towar
France : ,

" Your majesty's faithful -Commons have further deeply to
lament, that soon after the commencement of the war, when the
republic of Holland had been rescued from invasion, and the
Netherlands had been recovered by the emperor, at a time too
when most of the princes of Europe, with resources yet unex_
hausted, continued firm in their alliance with Great Britain, your
majesty's ministers did not avail themselves of this high and com-
manding position, for the negociation of an honourable peace, and
the establishment of the political balance of Europe, but on the
contrary, without any example in the principles and practice of
this or other nations, refused to set on foot any negociation what-
soever with the French republic ; not upon a real or even alleged
refusal on her part to listen to the propositions now rejected by
her, nor to any specific proposal of indemnity or political security,
but upon the arrogant and insulting pretence, that her govern-
ment was incapable of maintaining the accustomed relations of
peace and amity amongst nations ; and upon that unfounded and
merely speculative assumption, advised your majesty to continue
the war,to a period, when the difficulties in the way of peace have
been so much increased by the defection of most of the powers
engaged in the confederacy, and by the conquests and consequent
pretensions of the French republic : 1,,••,

" Your majesty's faithful Commons having thus humbly su*,
mitted to your majesty the reflections which your majesty's gil0
cious communication . immediately suggest, will proceed with
unremitting diligence to investigate the causes which have pro-
duced our present calamities, and to offer such advice, as the
critical and alarming circumstances of the nation may require."

Mr. Secretary Dundas answered Mr. Fox, and was replied to by
Mr. Grey ; after which the House divided on the motion, " That
the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question."

Tellers. Tellers.

{Lord Hawkesbury I

Mr. Canning 1z. —NOES '


1. Mr. Jekyll

C Gen leton 1_ 37'


February 27. I 797.

QO early as the month of January 1795, the directors of the bank
Li of England informed Mr. Pitt, that it was their wish, " that
he would arrange his finances for the year, in such a manner
not to depend on any farther assistance from them." These re-
monstrances were renewed in the months of April and July, in tile


same year ; and on the 8th of October following, they sent a writ-tea paper to the minister, which concluded by stating, " the
absolute necessity, which they conceived to exist, for diminishing
the sum of their present advances to government ; the last having
been granted with great reluctance on their part, on his pressing
solicitations." In an interview, which took place on the 23d of
the same month, on the loans to the emperor being mentioned,
the governor assured Mr. Pitt, " that another loan of that sort
Would go nigh to ruin the country." And on the eth of February,
497 , the directors ordered the governor to inform the minister,
c, that, under the present state of the bank's advances to govern-
ment here, to agree with his request of making a farther advance
of 1 ,500,0001. as a loan to Ireland, would threaten ruin to the bank,
and most probably bring 'the directors to shut up their doors."
yith this cause, another springing also out of the war, powerfully
'co-operated. This was the dread of an invasion, which had

induced the farmers and others, resident in the parts distant from
the metropolis, to withdraw their money from the hands of those
bankers with whom it was deposited. The run, therefore, com-
menced upon the country banks, and the demand for specie soon
reached the metropolis. In this alarming state, the ministry
thought themselves compelled to interfere, and an order

. .of the
privy council, was issued on the 26th of February, prohibiting
the directors of the bank from " issuing any cash in payment till
the sense of parliament could be taken on that subject, and the
proper measures adopted thereupon for maintaining the means
of circulation, and supporting the public and commercial credit
of the kingdom at this important conjuncture."

On the 27th of February, Mr. Pitt presented the following mes-
sage to the Commons from his majesty :



" His majesty thinks it proper to communicate .to the House
of Commons, without delay, the measure adopted to obviate the
effects which might be occasioned by the unusual demand of
specie lately made from different parts of tile country in the me-
tropolis.—The peculiar nature and exigency of the case appeared
to require, in the first instance, the measure contained in the
order of council which his majesty has directed to be laid before
the House. In recommending this important subject to theimmediate and serious attention of the House of Commons, his
majesty relies with the utmost confidence on the experienced
Wisdom and firmness of his parliament for taking such measures
as may be best calculated to meet any temporary pressure, and
to call forth, in the most effectual manner, the extensive resources
of his kingdoms in support of their public and commercial credit;
and in defence of their dearest interests."

,?Tr. Pitt having moved, " That the message be taken into con-tde
ration to-morrow," took that opportunity of givinc, notice, that11e
should at the same time move for a committee to enquire intothe outstanding engagements of the bank, and likewise of their

fund, for discharging the same. Upon this,


Mr. -Fox said, that although what had been just delivered
by -the right honourable gentleman could be considered
strictly as a notice only of what he intended to bring forward
to-morrow, yet at this eventful crisis he did not wish to allow a
moment to pass without saying a few words. As to what might
or might not be advisable to be done, he should now give
no opinion. But with respect to the obligation on every
member of that House, and every man in the country, to
turn in his mind the subject, to employ the whole activity
of his intellect upon it, and to form as good an opinion 'as
he was able upon it, and that without the delay of a single
hour, he thought that to give that sort of warning was his
duty. The right honourable gentleman had said, he should
move for a committee of inquiry into the circumstances of
the bank. To a motion for such an inquiry, he should have
no objection ; it might be useful as far as it went. But he
owned he saw the propriety of that House making an inquiry
to a much greater extent. They should inquire, not only
into the circumstances of the bank, but also into the circum-
stances which led to the present embarrassment. The right
honourable gentleman had stated some things relative to the
prosperous state of the bank, which he would dare to say
were warranted, and which he hoped would be made ma-
nifest in the result of the inquiry. They should not, how-
ever, stop here; they should inquire into all the causes of this
necessity ; they should be possessed of all the measures that
led to this most extraordinary and wholly unprecedented
scheme to aid our finance — a scheme which no man could
think of without shuddering.

With regard to what the right honourable gentleman had
stated of the propriety of aiding the security of' the bank
notes, by pledging the faith of government to them, there
appeared to him nothing objectionable in such a proposition..
But there -were in the minister's speech some general words
which -might be differently understood by different persons.
If he thought that bank notes should be made legal tenders
for public purposes, there might be but little, if any, difficulty
in assenting to his proposition. But these were very general
words, capable of being differently understood by different
persons. If the minister meant to make bank notes legal
payment from individuals to the public, that was a point liable
of course to discussion, but against which he did not see the
same objection as if he took the question in another -viewl
for it would be only matter of policy to a limited expelice'
But if he meant to make bank notes legal payment from till
public to the individual, if' such a measure, he said, la
become necessary, it was a measure -which 'the House cou


/lot think of without seeing that it must shake the very .
foundation of public credit.

What led him to .
this observation was part of the right

honourable gentleman's speech that night, and something
which he saw in papers which were now before the House.
ja the minister's statement of the matter, he had set forth the
difficulties of the bank to answer, by payments in cash, for
their outstanding engagements. The means of answering
these engagements in that way formed the difficulty of the
bank. He had no hesitation in assenting to what the minister
bad stated upon the subject, as fin.

as payment was to be made
to government : but when he came to reflect upon an order
in council, and on the obedience which he saw the bank dis-
posed to pay to that order, the subject became alarming.
He did not say that the conduct of the bank brought on the .
necessity, but the thing itself appeared to him to be alarming,
for the bank said they would pay government in bank notes,
and that warrants on dividends should be paid in like manner.
The warrants on dividends were the interest of the national
debt. He was not now going to anticipate the measure
which parliament should adopt upon the. occasion, nor to
discuss it at length ; but parliament having passed an act
binding the bank to pay the warrants on dividends, not in
bank notes but in money, this was a very alarming proposition,
and worthy of the serious attention of the House.

The king's message, together with the order in council, were
ordered to be taken into consideration to-morrow.

Felnntaly 28.

111r. Pitt moved, " That a committee be appointed to examine
and state the total amount of outstanding demands on the bank
of England, and likewise of the funds for discharging the same,
and to report the result thereof to the House, together with their
°Pinion on the necessity of providing for the confirmation andcontinuance of measures taken in pursuance of the minute of
e°11461 ; on the 26th instant." The motion being read,

, Mr. Pox rose and said: — Sir, when I consider the won-
(2erful event which has this night been announced to the
.-louse for a second time; when I take into review. the causes
Which have led to this extraordinary situation of affairs, and
tie effects likely to result from it; I confess that after thePause Which has been afforded me for deliberation, I do nottait. all feel More sanguinely or more agreeably than I did on

'e first mention of the subject. The right honourable gen-


tleman has moved for the appointment of a committee for the
purpose of inquiry, to which, if it was vested with spower,
sufficiently ample, I certainly should not object. But it
might have been expected, and I for one did expect, that
the minister, who had conducted affairs in such a manlier a,
to call for the measure that has now been proposed, wouiti
not have been contented to pass so slightly over the nature
of the crisis; but would have thought it incumbent on him
to have given, at least, some general statement of those cit.-
cumstances which have led to that situation of unprecedented
embarrassment, in which we are now placed. Let us con-
sidcr a little how he has proceeded, even in the first stage
of the business. Every man who read the order of council
must have been struck with the reflection that this was
the first time a measure had been adopted by the executive
government of this country to prevent the bank from an-
swering the demands of its lawful creditors. The effect
of the measure I will not describe by saying that it has
impaired — for that is but a weak word on such an occa-
sion — I contend that it has destroyed the credit of the
bank. There is no gentleman so ignorant of the principles
of paper credit, as not to know, that the whole source of the
validity of this species of currency is derived from the circum-
stance of its being convertible into gold and silver. But when
we learn, that ministers have not merely recommended to the
bank to suspend all payments in specie, but have positively
required them to adopt this measure, we must consider our•
selves as placed in a very different situation with respect to
the fixture state of our paper credit. If the thing itself was
necessary from the circumstances of the times, still I do not
approve of the mode in which it has been carried into exe-
cution. If the measure was indispensably requisite from the
pressing exigency of the country, an act of parliament was
surely the only proper mode of effecting the purpose. If
plea of urgency be brought forward, that was a consideration
on which the House were competent to decide, and
must have impelled them, as in other cases, to lose no time ID
carrying a bill through the different stages. This House. ivg-
that particular branch of the legislature, which it was of


most essential importance to consult on such an occasion;
The neglect that has taken place in this instance is of thein°t
mischievous example, and may be attended with the rot
fatal consequences at a future period. All those who ho'

oturned their attention to the paper credit of this conatr.C;
must view with alarm, that the king or executive governme,,
have by the present measure claimed a power to annihilate pit
one breath all the property of the creditors of the bank.


„tit), be said, that such a power would be equally dangerous
in any branch of the legislature. But surely the danger is
greater from the quarter in which it has now been exercised.

has been found that wherever a power of this nature has
been confided to a senate, or to a large body of men, it has
resented fewer instances of abuse, than in those situations
where the reverse has been the case. This conclusion is sup-
ported by the recorded facts of history, and the uniform tes-
timony of experience. It has been proved that the stability
of credit has always been better maintained in republics, than
in those governments where it merely depended on an indivi-
dual, or on a small body of men. Of all modes, then, by
which the object could have been effected, the measure that
has actually been adopted is the most pernicious in its prin-
ciple and the most dangerous in its consequences. It will riot

be easily erased from the memories of men, or from the annals
of the country, that whatever may be the vaunted theory of
our constitution, whatever the nominal value of our rights,
whatever the pretended security of our laws, one word from
the king may have the effect to destroy one half of the pro-
perty of the country. The order of council merely forbids
the issuing of money; the paper, however, subsequently pub-
lished from the bank, removes all doubts with respect to the
nature and extent of the measure, and thanks arc due to the
directors for the explicitness they have manifested on the oc-
casion. After expressing their intention to comply with the
order of council, they proceed to point out the objects which
the measure has in view. They declare that they will con-
tinue their discounts to the merchants in paper, and that they
Will also pay in paper the dividend warrants. Gentlemen
may ascribe it to affectation, when I declare that I feel ner-
vous in stating the probable effect of this proceeding; and
the more so, as I observed that the right honourable gentle-
fearful i


s certainly more cause than myself to take af

u theres in the issue of this transaction, seemed to ex-p
erience a similar feeling to so great a degree, that he was

Unable to use his splendid abilities to afford to the House any
satisfactory explanation of its objects and effects.

What, I ask, is the meaning of this measure ? Though it

has been declared by repeated laws, that faith is most solemnly

lie kept with the public creditors, though you honourablyde
clare that you will impose no tax on the interest they holdi

n the stocks ; you now so strongly feel the exigency of your
Situation, that you are compelled to overlook the covenants

and thei .obligations of honour, and to apply for a re-.so . to u
g reat depot of national wealth. But it may be
"id that
1-• •a the dividends are still to be paid in paper. Is there,


however, any gentleman so ignorant as to conceive that there
is any difference between refusing to pay the dividends in
specie, and refusing to pay them altogether? Are not tht,
terms of the contract, that they shall be paid in the current
coin of the kingdom? With what pretence can you affinn
that you do not tax the income of the stock-holder, if van
break the terms of the contract, and compel him to take foe
his interest a compensation of less value than that which ho
been stipulated by solemn, engagement? Does any mana
lieve that he would receive at the present moment in the 04,
a thousand pounds in cash for a thousand pounds in notes?
You admit, then, that you are arrived at such a state of de-
speration, that it becomes necessary to violate all contracts,
Suppose the dividends were confided to ministers to pay the
expellees of the army or navy, and that they gave to the
holders certain paper on government security, would they be
placed in the same situation as before with respect to the sta-
bility of public credit? So far as regarded the principle, mi-
nisters might as well at once confiscate their property for*
use of the state. But it has been said, that emergencies will
arise, which render it necessary to break through all ordinary
restraint. Unquestionably, necessity furnishes that strong ar-
gument, to which no reason can be opposed; but it oughtto
be proved, that the emergency was of the most pressing na-
ture, and capable of being clearly demonstrated. The mini-
ster who comes down and endeavours to prove to the House,
that necessity has compelled him to this fatal and irremediable
act of bankruptcy, ought at least to he prepared to skew that
the necessity was occasioned by no fault of his own. Nothing
of this sort has been attempted; we have only the assertion of
the right honourable gentleman of the strong conviction be
felt of the necessity of the measure; and it is incumbent on
the House to determine whether they ought to be satisfied 031
the authority of his bare assertion that the danger has been
fully proved, and that it could by no precaution have possibly
been prevented. If we arc to be satisfied on such authority,
if we are to conceive an assertion a sufficient ground of con-
fidence, what account shall we be able to give to our consti:
stuents of this new disaster that has befallen the country
Amidst the calamities and disgraces of former periods, we had
still one ground of consolation in the sanctity of national ere'
dit: Every minister might say to parliament, and every
member to his constituents, even at the most afflicting wrasle
" the public faith has been preserved." The inviolability of
the principle sanctioned its future observance. But now we
are even deprived of this last source of public consolation,
this last prop of national honour.

With the feelings naturally impressed upon me by these re-

flections, I yesterday came down to the House. I must own
that I did not then like some words that fell from the right
honourable gentleman with respect to the order of council.
A motion for inquiry is brought forward. The order evi-
dently threw some slur on the bank, and as a proof that they
felt so, the directors immediately published a paper which
contained an assurance of the prosperous state of their affairs.
Under these circumstances, it was natural and laudable that
they should feel an anxiety fir that inquiry, which was neces-
sary to vindicate their own credit. Another reason assigned
for the inquiry is, that the public are to be called upon to
guarantee the security of the bank notes. On the first sug-
gestion, I did not see any thing objectionable in granting this
guarantee. As I have since, however, altered my opinion, it
may be proper for me to say a few words on the subject.
Every sanction given by the public to the credit of individuals,
though for a time it may be attended with some advantage,
will ultimately be found to be injurious and destructive. If
the credit of the bank rests on that footing of solidity which
has been asserted, it is better that it should still remain on
the same fbundation. The right honourable gentleman, how-
ever, thinks that even with the favourable opinion which is
now entertained by the public of the credit of the bank, there
would still be some advantage derived from the guarantee of
the government. It is curious to bear from the right honour-
able gentleman this theory with respect to the advantages of
guarantee. Happy would it have been for the country -if he
had not in former instances extended this system of guarantee
to foreign powers. Without paying any compliment to the
bank orEngland, I think its credit fully as good as that of
itihaevebalonk of Vienna. Without instituting any particular in-
quiry, I think we might as safely guarantee its security, as the
tslelcetyiraitiy,e o


f some


princes, with respect to whom we
means to ascertain either the obligations to which

i the funds which they possess to discharge
them, and of whose good faith we are entirely ignorant.

If I thought that the committee would be empowered to goInto all the causes which have led to this disastrous state of
. frairs, I certainly should not desire that the inquiry should
be placed on a more extensive scale. The right honourablegentleman has, however, intimated that it is not his intentionthat

•the inquiry should be conducted in this manner. He
has stated that there are some points of peculiar delicacy con-
nected with an investigation of the state of the bank, and thedis

closure of which would create great embarrassment. There
Is one distinction, however, to which it is material to attend,

IT 3

While the credit of a corporation is entire, the public have
no right to pry into their secrets; nor is it fitting that they
should be matte matter of investigation ; but when once a
failure has taken place, or a slur has been thrown upon its
character, the best remedy for this unpleasant situation of its
affairs, is to bring them into a state of the utmost publicity,
When we hear, in the present instance, of some points of
great delicacy, we must view them in comparison with those
points of still greater delicacy which attach to this subject:
and in this light what exposure of the affitirs of the bank call
possibly involve considerations pf greater delicacy than
measure which goes to the extent of violating the national
faith, and invading the property of the public creditors?
The House arc called to decide upon the merits of the whole
transaction. To assist them in forming their judgment, it is
necessary that all the concerns of the bank should be investi-
gated. They ought to be enabled to pronounce how far the
measure has *been dictated by motives of imperious necessity:
every circumstance which has been made known to the chan-
cellor of the exchequer respecting the situation of the bank,
ought also to be made known to the committee : all the
grounds on which he has been induced to publish the order
of council, ought to be laid before them : it is only from such
full infbrmation that they. can be enabled correctly to judge of
the conduct pursued on the occasion. The nature of the case
is such as immediately to demand the most particular inves-
tigation. For though there were eight members of the cabi-
net present at the council from which the order was issued,
it is to be remarked that the responsibility chiefly attaches to
one individual—the chancellor of the exchequer. Upon the
representation of the chancellor of the exchequer of the un-
usual demand for specie, and the danger of a scarcity of that
article for the purposes of the public service, was the measure
adopted. Let me beg of you not to imitate the blind confi-
dence of the lords of the council, and bestow your appr o

-bation on the mere representation of the necessity of the mea-
sure, but to have before you all the facts and arguments con-
nected with the transaction, and to draw your conclusion
from a full and impartial investigation.

The minister tells us, that he would not have taken the
measure without feeling the strongest conviction of its neoes;
sity. He insinuates that the same conviction was experience°
by the bank directors. Of the excellent conduct of the bank
of England, I have not the least doubt ; that many circuniT
stances in that conduct are highly meritorious, I do not deny'
still less should I think of denying that to the excellent conduct
of administration, from time to time, since the'revolution,q°11



the subject of preserving faith with the public creditor, much
of the prosperity of this country is owing. But am I, therefore,
because they chuse to ask for it, to accede to measures that
arc wholly without a precedent, and that without under-
standing that there is to be a full inquiry into all the con-
duct of those who, in my opinion, have brought our af-
Ors into their present condition ? therefore, say, that if
the house of Commons should allow this committee to be
appointed, they will most scandalously abandon their duty, if
they confine their inquiry to what the chancellor of the ex-
chequer has this night stated. If the committee shall in-
quire into the state of the outstanding engagements of the
bank, and what are their funds for providing for them, and
shall stop there, I say they will shamefully abandon their duty.
They must not be content with any measure, merely because
in the opinion of the minister it is right; no, nor even upon
finding that, in the opinion of the directors of the bank, that
it is right. It is your duty to examine the grounds upon
which these opinions are formed, and finally to form an opi-
nion of your own. If ever there was a question in which
confidence in ministers should be placed out of view alto-
gether, it is this very case. Let us look at the case, and see
what sort of a thing it is. Is it a case of treaty upon peace or
war? Is it a case of negotiation ? No ; it is a case of finance,
and finance merely— a subject which at all times has be-
longed, and belonged almost exclusively to this House —
subject which, from its nature, is best considered in a public
assembly. MTill the minister himself' get up this night and say,
that administration are, on the face of things, exculpated for
every thing that has lately happened to the financial concerns
of this country ? MTill he say, that they have been punctual in
the discharge of their duty upon that subject, and that it is
not owing to them that we are in our present deplorable con-
dition ? Is it not notorious that the prizes of the last lottery
were delayed in payment for• a considerable time? Has not
the public creditor thereby suffered? Has not the public credit
of the nation been thereby diminished ? I-have not bills on
government been protested ; have not the holders been
ic li itil:toldthat they must wait for a considerable time; and

they not been obliged so to wait? Most unquestionably
they have. And the reason assigned for all this delay in pay-
meat, has been fashionably called, the want of a sufficient cir-

, medium, but which, in truth, only proved our insol-
ve,noy, and the inability of the minister to fulfil the promises
\Mich he so readily held forth. All his new schemes of

ance have only contributed to bring on the evil which he
froze: time to time pretended to remove. Is it not noto-

It 4


rious that he has rejected all the advice that has been gieeli
to him from time to time? He pretended to do away all the
evils that arose from the increase of our• unfunded debt, evils
which we all felt, and for which certainly a remedy was tie.
cessary. But what was the effect of his pretended remedy,

and what has been the result of his conduct since he pretended
to provide against the mischief? Why, that he has so mis..
calculated the wants of government, or from time to time se
mistated them, that he has been obliged to provide for the
sum of twelve millions, after assuring us that no farther
money would be wanted for the funding of the navy debt;
and after all these assurances from time to time, that he was
making ample provision, the navy bills at this very time are
at a higher discount than they were at any former period.

Sir, I come now to another point. The directors of the
bank often told the right honourable gentleman what the ef-
fect-would be of his sending such vast sums of money abroad.
They remonstrated against such conduct. I will not enter
upon the detail of the advice that was given to him at these
times ; but we all know, and now feel the effect of, his con-
duct ; for he sent money abroad, not only in defiance of the
remonstrance of the bank, bet against the spirit and letter of
the constitution. Such has been the conduct of the chan-
cellor of the exchequer; and I do say, we are now called
upon, by the duty we owe the public, to give no farther credit
to him for his statements in any public affair of finance; more
especially upon the subject which is now before us. It
is a subject on which this House ought not to place confi-
dence in any minister, because it is a subject which we ought
most scrupulously to examine for ourselves. If the best me--
nister that ever managed the affairs of this country were to ask
for confidence in such a case as this, it would be the duty of
this House to withhold it. If the right honourable gentle-
man's father, in the course of the seven years' war, 'when his
measures led to the most brilliant victories, had come to this
House to demand such confidence as the minister seems to
ask by the speech which introduced the motion which is now
before you, I believe, that notwithstanding all the esteem
which that illustrious statesman deservedly enjoyed, the p ar

-liament would then have had virtue enough to refuse it to
him ; but he' had too much regard for the constitutional pri-
vileges of this House, to ask ter such a confidence. - hat,
however, would have been denied to the virtue, the wisdom,
the eloquence, the glory of that minister, had he asked it, Is
now, I fear, to be given to a minister who has disgraced hinr
self, and ruined his co re,untry. The House, if,it means to ha
any credit with the people, must not confide in an y man, bill


examine the real state of public affairs, control the executive
power, and institute minute inquiry, into all the circumstances
that have led to the calamitous condition in which we are
new placed. We must take care that the man who has brought
us into this deplorable state shall not be permitted totally to
ruin us. If we do not do so, the most candid manner in which
we can act towards the public is, to declare at once that we
are persuaded the care of this country is grown above-the.
cognizance of the House of Commons, and that we chuse to
give it up entirely to the direction of the king's Ministers; in
which case we shall plead guilty to all the charges that have
been exhibited out of doors against us; that we are not the
representatives of the people of England, but the servants of
the minister of the crown; that it is true, indeed, the theory
of the constitution of England is beautiful, but that its prac-
tical utility is at an end, as far as regards the thnctions of the
House of Commons, for that now they implicitly commit to
the minister of the crown all control over subjects of finance.
Let me ask, if this must not be the inevitable conclusion of
the people of this country, if you do not enter upon a full in-
quiry into this subject ? Let me ask, if this be not a case for
inquiry, what case can possibly be called so? Let me ask, what
case can be more violent, and less warrantable by law than the
present? Let me ask, if ever since the Revolution there was pro-
posed a measure more fraught with danger to the credit of this
country ? Let me ask, if any minister ever existed who had
less claim to confidence, and whose conduct called more for
the jealousy of this House than the present minister? If,
after you have turned these questions in your minds, and have
agreed what answer ought to be given to them all, you still
confide in the present minister, I will then say you will de-
serve every thing that has been said against you, for you will,ifnundeceticobnsbteo theIaI-ouse of -Commons that has surrendered .

all its
will of the minister of the crown.

There has been a custom, I confess a very laudable one, to
speak well of the navy. It certainly is a service to which the
People of this country are prodigiously indebted, and we






not have too much tenderness for the character of our naval
°Ricers, and yet we find it to be the uniform practice of this

untry tocall to a court martial every officer who has been
:fnsucciessful to a certain extent, however meritorious his con-

have been. Now let me ask, if this be the case with

•te rcl
to our favourite service, what should be the conduct

s ouse when the minister of the crown has been guilty
mismanagement M. an alarming degree ? What should be

the conduct of this House when a minister issues a in oclam-
4611 in the name of the privy council to destroy the public

credit of this country? Let me ask what should be the con,
duct of a House of Commons towards him who is at least
prima facie a culprit before them and the public, — who is
certainly in the situation of an accused person ? I think it is
not difficult to answer these questions. If there are any who
hear me who think that I say this from personal rivalship,
they are welcome to charge me with it; they do not know ray
nature; those who do, will bring no such charge against me.
If, however, to charge a criminal minister, in order that an in,
quiry may be made into his conduct, be a crime, then I am
content to be called a great criminal. Let me ask, w
is the credit of this nation, if a proclamation, dictated by a
minister, is to set aside the provisions of solemn acts of par-
liament ? Long, long experience has taught us, or should have
taught us, that punctuality and good faith are the foundations
of credit ; that credit can have no existence independent of
good faith. It has been said, more that once, that we are to
trust to Providence in our affairs. It would be a miracle
which I have never yet heard that Providence has performed
towards man to give credit to those who have no fah. On
the 27th of February r 797, for the first time since the Revo-
lution, an act was done in the king's name which has struck
at the foundation of the public credit of the country, by'
seizing the money belonging to individuals, deposited in the
public treasury of the public creditor; and afterwards with-
holding and refusing payment of that money. What can now
restore that public credit? Will any man say he knows the
remedy for this ? If it shall appear that ministers have acted
prudently, according to the pressure of the case; that they
acted wisely ; that they have acted economically; that they
looked forward to all the consequences, as far as human pru-
dence could foresee—then I am willing to allow there is Be
man can blame them, however calamitous our condition may
be. If they can shew, contrary to the prime.; facie evidence
of the case, that they have not been to blame, they must be
absolved ; but that is no reason why we should not have a
full inquiry into the matter: on the contrary, it is a very
strong reason for su,:h inquiry ; and they themselves are
deeply interested in having it instituted. But, if it should
appear that this crisis has not been brought on without Olt
on their part, it must be absolutely for the credit of the public
that the truth of the matter should be made manifest to the
world. If you shun this inquiry, what will be the. conse-
quence ? I will suppose, for the sake of argument, that the,
whole of this measure is the result of inevitable necessity„'
wish, then, to know what the public creditor is to think. Pe
will deliberate thus Although in the year 17 97 the mitOq



struck unavoidably at the public credit, yet what happened in
the House of Commons ? That in pursuance of a full inquiry
it was found to be an act of inevitable necessity, and could not
have happened under any other plea? No ; it passed upon
the assertion of the minister that it was an act of necessity, and
there was no inquiry; therefore some future minister may be
wicked, although the present one is virtuous, and may take
this as a precedent, and call that inevitable necessity, which,
m truth, will be only an act of convenience to hint, and un-
der that pretext appropriate the property of the public cre-
ditor to the use of government ; so that without a full inquiry
into this matter, you can never restore confidence to the public
creditor. On the other hand, if this is the result of the mis-
conduct of the minister, you should declare it to be so, and
by the punishment of the delinquent shew the public you take
care of their affairs. These are the only two ways in which
you can restore the confidence of the public creditor.

Let us now see what has been the conduct of the present
minister in the course of this war, upon the subject of finance.
Have any three months passed in which he has not produced
some new expedient? And have they not every one of them,
without a single exception, proved erroneous ? Good God !
Sir, let us look at the situation of this country ! Year after
year the minister has been amusing us with his ideas of the
finances of France — now on the -verge, now in the gulph of
bankruptcy! What computations upon their assignats and
their niandats ! They could not possibly continue. All per-
fectly true. But the misfortune is, that while he was thus
amusing us, he has led us to the very same verge, aye,; into
the very same gulph. While he thus declaimed against thefinances of France, and predicted truly as to the issue of those
expedients, lie fell miserably short of his conclusion, that these
considerations would put an end to the energy of the French.
Their rash expedients have not put an end to their energy ;
and, perhaps, these rash expedients will not make us a prey to
a foreign invader. But, arc we to follow their expedients on
that account ? By no means. We are not in the same rela-
tive situation with regard to the rest of the world. We de-
dead more upon our commercial credit than they do. The
minister has conducted the war upon the hope, that we should
be able to defeat the French by a contest of finance; and you

see the expedients to which we are driven. I am aware
oat I may be answered, that I propose my panacea, — an in-

quiry- I plead guilty to that charge ; but my panacea has
Meyer been tried ;the minister's opposition to it has been triedil;epe

atedly; namely, confidence in him. The public have seenItle effect of that opposition. All I ask is, that my remedy


may be tried ; it can never be worse than his. 'We have for
a long time had a confiding House of Commons. I want now
an inquiring House of Commons. I say, that with a diligent,
inquiring House of Commons, even although it should be an
indifferent one with regard to talents, and with a minister of
very ordinary capacity, we shall be able to do more for tile
service of the people of this country, than with a House of
Commons composed of the best talents that ever adorned any
senate, and a minister of the first abilities would be able to, if
that House should implicitly confide in that minister. If;
therefore, I have, in an uniform tone, called for inquiry, and
the House has been as persevering, as certainly it hitherto
has in confiding, it is not wonderful that we are in our present
condition. I say, that without inquiry into the cause of our
calamities, the public neither will nor ought to be satisfied. I
say farther, that the House ought, for the sake of its credit with
the public, to enter into a full inquiry upon this matter, for
the authority of an inquiring is much greater than that of a
confiding House of Commons.

Mr. Sheridan moved an amendment to Mr. Pitt's motion, by in.
sertin ,, after the word " House," the words, " and also to inquireinto the causes which have produced the order of council, of the
26th instant." The question being put, that these words be there
inserted, the House divided :

Tellers. Tellers.
S Mr. Grey I Mr. DouglasYEAS

86.--;—Nozs Roset Mr, Whitbread


March 13.

77-1HIS day Mr. Harrison moved, " That the extent of the supplies
voted to government since the commencement of the present.

war, having caused so heavy an increase of taxes, it is the duty of
this House to inquire, whether some relief to the burdens of the
people, or provision for farther expence, may not be obtained by
the reduction of useless places, sinecure offices, exorbitant fee:
and other modes of retrenchment in the expenditure of the public
money." The motion was supported by Lord William Russell,
Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Pollen, Mr. Bastard, Mr. Fox, and Mr. Tie r

-ney ; and opposed by Mr. Pitt, Mr. Windham] Mr. Rose, 3111:,1
Serjeant Adair, and Dr, Laurence.


MY. Fox said, that having been personally alluded to in the
course of the debate, and challenged to vindicate his con-
sistency in supporting the present motion, with his conduct in
,/7 8 2 , he found himself called upon to make a few observa-
tions in his own defence. There were also a few general
positions which the right honourable gentleman opposite to
him (Mr. Windham) had laid down, on which he wished to
make some yemarks. The right honourable gentleman repro-
bated, in strong terms, the expedient of having recourse to
the property of private individuals in time of public calamity.
Ele admitted the principle in its full extent, and agreed with
him, that any encroachment upon the rights of private pro-
perty under pretence of public necessity, led to nothing short
of a system of universal plunder and depredation. But, iii
the name of God, how .vas this general principle applicable to
the present ease ? He had almost imagined that the right ho-
nourable gentleman was answering a speech containing some
proposition to rob the Duke of Bedford of the property
which his ancestors - had received from Henry VIII., or to
despoil the Duke of Grafton or the Duke of Richmond of
the possessions which their forefathers had received from
Charles II. The right honourable gentleman contended,
that he had as good, or a better title to his salary as secretary
at war, than lie had to the rents of his paternal estates. This,
Mr. Fox said, he would not admit ; for if a motion was
made in that House to address his majesty to remove the
right honourable gentleman from his counsels — a motion for
which he would certainly vote —it could not be argued, that
he was guilty of the same injustice as if he addressed his
majesty to deprive him of his landed property. And if the
principle did not apply to his removal from office, it could
not be applicable to a diminution of the income belonging to
that office. There was no connection, then, between the ge-
neral principle, and the instance to which it was attempted to
he applied. The question was, whether, in the present calami-
tous state of the country, the emoluments of offices of every de-
scription ought not to be retrenched as much as possible for the
good of the public ? Upon this statement of the question,
there was but little difficulty. Butit was said, that he could
not accede to the present proposition, because in 1782 he was
as much pledged not to go farther than the limits of Mr.
Burke's bill, as he was pledged to go that length. He asked
the right honourable gentleman, whether he recollected the
contents of Mr. Burke's bill ? Was there not something in
It about exchequer offices and crown lands ? But it was wellknown, that it never had its full effect, and that the plan, on

- 4ccount of the -.ehort duration of what was commonly called

the coalition administration, was only partially executed. B Lit
supposing, for a moment, that it had been executed up to die
full intention of its authors, was no allowance to be made for
a change of times and circumstances? Had not a greater
portion of influence been since created than was then de_
stroyed ? And if it was urged, that new offices were occa.
sioned by the necessities of the times, why were not offices
that were less necessary abolished in proportion to the new
ones that were created ? The right honourable gentleman
asserted, that, as a pecuniary resource, all the saving which
would arise from any retrenchment that could be made would
be extremely trifling. The saving arising from Mr. Burke's
bill also was trifling in amount. But the advantage was not
to be calculated by merely a sum of nood. or too,coa,
which might be directly saved. It ought to be recollected,
that it might be the means of saving ninny millions to the
public, and of preserving not only the independence of the
House of Commons, but the independence of the coun-
try. The right honourable gentleman did not dispute the
calamitous state of the country, but he looked at only one
side of the calamity ; he only looked at the extension of the
French territory, forgetting altogether the situation of its
internal credit. He forgot that it was the means of influence
which were in the hands of ministers that had contributed to
the enormous territorial aggrandizement of France ; that had
it not been for this influence, the Republic of France would
not have had Brabant, would not have had Italy, and
that the right honourable gentleman would not now have had
reason to lament the extent of her dominions. To prove
that ministerial influence obtained in the House of Commons,
Mr. Fox appealed to the authority of Mr. Burke, in that pas-
sage of his Thoughts on a Regicide Peace where he intimates
a suspicion, that the minority in the House of Commons,
express the sense of the majority of the country. And to
what was this to be ascribed ? Was it not to the places, pew,
sions, commissions, and all the various kinds of patronag e 01
which ministers were in possession ? It had been asked, 'wile'
then he supposed that there were no other principles of public
conduct but those that were founded upon corruption? Ile
admitted that there were gentlemen who acted upon t o

-tally different principles ; but he contended, that this was
a very general and very powerful spring of action. This 09
a topic nearly connected with the exchequer offices, which, 111

his opinion, at the death of the present incumbents, ough t t°
be entirely abolished. If he was asked, how he had come ra
change his opinion upon this subject since , 1782, he wo°'

answer, that it was one of those topics on which a man rillv


alter his sentiments without deserting any general princi-
ple. Indeed, there were arrangements which ought to be

Mated so much by the circumstances of the times, that heregu

should have no objection that an inquiry of the nature now

proposed should take place every ten or twelve years. When
ie heard of the splendour necessary to a court, and of the
dignity which it was proper to support in high situations, he
was ready to acknowledge, that in certain circumstances that
splendour and that dignity might be proper and becoming
bu t

in times such as these, when public credit was fallen,
when commerce was fast decaying, and when the nation were
groaning under a load of taxes which they were scarcely able
t ai then they became insults upon the people ; and insupport, t

authority, instead of affecting gaiety and

s(sject,111:the rulers of the nation ought to manifest the same
symptoms of mortification and distress which pervaded the
community. The right honourable gentleman contended,
that the idea of retrenchment was a vulgar error, and that
pensions were bestowed as the reward of merit. If it was a
vulgar error, the vulgar ought to be undeceived; and with
respect to pensions being given as the reward of merit, he
would appeal for the refutation of the doctrine to the history
of modern times, where the right honourable gentleman would
find that they had been bestowed upon men merely on ac-
count of their subserviency to a faction, of which the right
honourable gentleman once held the same opinion that he
(Mr. Fox) still entertained of them. Mr. Fox here adverted
to the sinecures of Mr. Pitt and Lord Grenville, with which
they had provided themselves when they were loading the
people with an accumulated weight of burdens ; and also to
the arrangement in the secretary of state's office, by which
Mr. Aust was removed from the situation he there held, though
he was eminently qualified for holding it, and at a time of
life when he was as fit for business as ever he had been, merely
:11: i o.provide for Mr. Canning,

who could not do the business
of the office till he was instructed in it by Mr. Aust.

Air. Fox then proceeded to a topic a little more difficult
and nice. The rioht honourable gentleman had appealed to

tether he believed that his conduct was influenced by
corrupt motives? He certainly believed that his conduct, as
well as the conduct of those with whom he had been ac-cu

stomed to act, was influenced by motives very different
from those of venality, but he confessed that it had been such

stmagly to induce suspicion of their motives, and that the

would not, perhaps, give ,
them so much credit for

esty as he did. He here referred to a sentiment in one of
'Ir. Burke's publications, in which he states, that when men

3 04 min HARRISON'S MOTION FOR THE [March /3.

swerve from those principles upon which they used to act, and
leave those parties to which they were formerly attached, they
often deceive themselves respecting their motives, and when
they fall into a state of the lowest insignificance, they some,
times flatter themselves that they never stood on so high
ground. Were he flow to state his opinion of his noble friem
(Lord William Russell) who bad been referred to in the
course of the debate, of his clear consistency of character, of
his high and nice sense of honour, and above all, of his stea,
diners of character, and even were he to be asked, whether
he had not at one time as high an opinion of others from
Whom he now differed, he would answer, certainly he had:
nor would be be more surprized at any change in the semi--
meats of his noble friend than he had been at the difference of
sentiments between the author of the work, entitled " The
Causes of the present Discontents" and of those who signed
the resolutions of 3784, and the opinions which they at pre-
sent professed to hold. A distrust of public men was one
among others of the lamentable effects of the present war., ,

The right honourable gentleman had said, that the labourer
was worthy of his hire, and that the servants of the public
were not overpaid. He had no objection to the servants of
the public being handsomely rewarded ; nay, he for one
would go so far as to say, that wherever a man had a legal
right to a place, however that right was acquired, he should
not be for disturbing him in the possession of it. But if the
labourer was to be paid, why did not Mr. Cowper, who did
the duty, receive the salary of clerk to the House of Lords?
Why did an honourable gentleman opposite to him (Mr. Rose,)
receive the salary, and as if that were not enough, secure the
reversion to his son ? It was most scandalous and enormous!
When he said this, however, if he had got a legal grant of it,
he would not deprive him of it. All he wanted was, that the
reversions should be saved to the public. Mr. Fox said, he
did not approve of the mode of assigning the inquiry to 3
committee already balloted for. But even supposing that it
was to be referred to this committee, was that any reason
why the 'House should not agree to the proposition of his he,
nourable friend ? They would then be pledged to dip coun-
try to make retrenchments wherever they could, consistently
with the public interest and the public honour. But, in plain
language, the chancellor of the exchequer wished that it
should rather be done by him than by the House of Commons,
in the same way that he had insisted, that when advances
were to be made to the bank, it should be done at his 01
instance, and not upon a resolution of that House. C4°°"

I797 .3 305
God ! had not the House even yet had enough of his mea-
c. ures? If they were not yet tired of them, they might
'wake trial of a few more. The right honourable gentleman
was afraid that the present proposition would delude the pub-
lic. But he would put it to the House, whether the public
were more likely to be &hided by an open discussion of the
subject, or by a committee which was appointed by him who
bad spent his whole life in delusion. To delude them into an
expense of seven or eight millions was nothing, but to lead
them to hope for a little saving in the public expenditure
would be an incurable evil ! Mr. Fox warned the House
against the influence of such argument, and against'' v-
ioer the inquiry to the committee which had been balloted;
for he did not know the members who composed the
committee, he knew, that if it was formed by the minister, it
was formed for the purposes of delusion.

Mr. Pitt having moved the previous question, the House divided
thereon :

Tellers. Tellers.
IX> AS 77.-Mr. St. John NOES {Mr. Canning}

Mr. Tierney
Mr. Sargent

Harrison's motion was consequently lost.



March 23,

IN pursuance of the notice lie had given,

Mr. Fox rose and addressed the House in substance as
follows : — The business, Sir, which I am about to bring be-
fore the House, is one not only of great importance in its na-
ture, but of great urgency in point of time. It is not my
Wish to go at length into all the causes that have produced
the uneasiness that exists in Ireland, and which has created
a similar uneasiness here; but I do think it necessary to recur
to a period somewhat distant from the present, in order to
?N.-Able the House to form an accurate opinion upon the sub-ject, and to induce them to accede to the motion which it is
1'V intention to submit to them. Sir, in the year 1782, very
P'eat discontents existed in Ireland, and it appeared to me to
''e indispensably necessary, that every thing should be done,lion. Yr.

3 06 MR. FOX'S MOTION ON [March 21

on the part of the government, to appease and allay them,
With this view I proposed the recognition of the , complete
independence of Ireland It is not now of importance io
consider whether that recognition was a boon or a right. it
not necessary for me to discuss whether it was a right de
manded by justice, or a boon required by policy. But having
been the person who proposed that act, I consider myself
bound to follow up the principle of it, which was to make Ire.
land a free and independent country; and, above all, to adopt
such measures as are calculated to admit her to the enjoyment
of all the advantages of that independence, and to restore that
cordial affection between the two countries, so eminently*
quisitc to the preservation and prosperity of both. To those
who consider the recognition as a right, and still more to
those who view it as a boon, it may seem not a little extraor-
•inary, after a conduct so just and liberal on the part of this
country, that, from the period of 1782, there have been
growing scenes of dissatisfaction and discontent in that couu•
try, and that at this moment Ireland is in a condition at
which no man can look without the deepest alarm. In my
opinion, therefore, the parliament of Great Britain is natu-
rally called upon to inquire, how it has happened that those
concessions have not produced all the salutary consequences
that might have been expected from them, and it is on that
account that I think it the duty of this House, and my own
duty in particular, to direct the attention of the British legis-
:attire to the present state of the sister kingdom.

Sir, without entering into particulars, no man will deny
that the situation of Ireland, at the present moment, is one
of great peril ; it appears by late accounts that we are
commencing a system of rigour, occasioned by what some
consider as discontents, and others the disaffection that at
present subsist among the people — to that situation it be-
comes us to advert, and by wise counsels to provide such
remedies as the circumstances of the case may require. la
such an important situation we ought to approach the throne
with that advice which may be calculated to avert the -danger
which threaten, and to remedy the distractions which prevail.
It is sufficient for this purpose to shew that Ireland is 11.1
state of disturbance and discontent, and it is material to In'
quire how this situation of things has been occasioned. Al"
though a variety of circumstances have combined to produce,
this state, there are two or three leading points to which.'
propose chiefly to direct the attention of the House. 1 he'e

* See Vol. ii. p.49.

how far, in consequence of the concessions which havere,
on made to Ireland, she has, in fact and in substance, en-

oyed the advantages of an independent legislature; whether,
n that form of a free cdnstitution which they obtained, the
people possess that political weight to which they are entitled
i nd whether their just voice and influence have been pro-
noted by the alteration which was effected ? Other points

perhaps, nearly as important; but these cer-
creobjects of most essential consideration. In viewing

the inhabitants of Ireland, we find that a very great pro-
portion, about five-sixths, as it has generally been calculated,
are Roman catholics. It is true that considerable concessions
have been made in their favour, and several of the grievances

athere may b

under which they laboured have apparently been removed.
The question, however, is, whether in point of fact, these
concessions have tended to remove dissatisfaction, and to
conciliate attachment? If upon inquiry it shall appear, that
the mode in which these concessions were made, and the acts
of the executive power with which they were accompanied,
have produced the severest persecutions of a political nature,
those who do not mistake paper regulations and theoretical
privileges for practical government, will be convinced that
grounds of discontent of the Roman catholics have not
been redressed, and that they have been kept in a situation
worse than that in which they previously stood. These are
the principal points which the inquiry must embrace : but
there are others unconnected with the state of the catholics.
The inhabitants of the northern part of Ireland are by some
considered in a less favourable light, and their grounds of
complaint are heard with a less favourable ear. The dis-


of no class of men whatever ought to be viewed with
t at repugnance which precludes an impartial examination ;
and I cannot much admire the wisdom of those by whom

prejudices are adopted as rules of conduct. ihe dis-

ntents of the inhabitants of the northern parts of Ireland

s; and the

causes : one of them is the temporary pressure
of a war, in which they were involved without interest in the

d t e distresses which the calamities with which it
has been attended have entailed upon their trade and corn-
nieree ; the other has been the abuses which they conceived to
xist M the constitution by which they are governed. The

constitution of Ireland, they complain, does not resemble
that cif Great Britain ; they have not a legislature by which
the people are even virtually represented ; and as to political,hel ty, they enjoy as small a portion of it as those who liveuncle ,
„ monarchies, in which the principles of freedom have
'lever been introduced.

X 2

308 MR. Fox's MOTION ON [March 23.
As to the first point, the efficacy of the recognition in

7 82, an opinion prevails in Ireland, that whatever may have
been the intention with which that measure was adopted, it
has not, produced a free and independent legislature, but that
'the advantages which the form of a free constitution seemed
to promise, have been counteracted by the influence of the
executive government and of the British cabinet. It would
be fortunate if this were merely the language of discontent.;
it would be fortunate if this were an opinion not supported
'by that unequivocal confirmation it has derived from the
measures of government; it would be fortunate if the system
which has been uniformly acted upon, did not give to the
complaint so much countenance and validity. 'Without going
into particular details, it is impossible not to mention a few
of the most striking events which establish its truth. At the
time of the unfortunate event of his majesty's indisposition,
the legislature of Ireland took a very decided part; the
parliament of Ireland censured the lord lieutenant for the
conduct lie had pursued, and expressed a decided opinion on
the state of public affairs at that period. Immediately after
this, however, and during the administration of the same
lord lieutenant, a great accession of influence was gained by
the crown, and the parliament was prevailed upon to unsay
all they had said, and to retract every opinion they had given..
It is even matter ,pf notoriety, too, that a regular system was
then devised for enslaving Ireland. A person of high con-
sideration was known to say, that half a million of money
had been expended to quell an opposition in Ireland, and
that as much more must be expended to bring the legislature
of that country to a proper temper. This systematic plan of
corruption was followed up by a suitable system of measures.
It was asserted, and offered to be proved in the Irish par-
liament, by men of the first character and the highest talents/
and when I mention the name of Grattan, I need add no-
thing more, that it had been the system of government by
the sale of peerages, to raise a purse to purchase the repre-,
sentation, or rather the misrepresentation of the people of
Ireland. The charge was brought by men of as great
Mies, of as unimpeached honour, of as high public character
..and private virtue, as ever appeared either in that country o .
in this, by men too, who feel a sincere attachment to Ore*
Britain, who cherish the connection which subsists between the
two kingdoms, and who would be as much alarmed as arty
men whatever, at any circumstances which might threat en tv,
involve a separation. It was offered to be proved, that 003
half, or even a majority of the House of Commons, 'were
creatures of the crown. The manner in which these evesno

were considered at that time in Ireland was this: " You have

us," said the people, "an independent legislature,

irdaenpendent certainly of your parliament, but dependent
our executive crovernment." The concession, there-upOn your

fore, they viewed not as a blessing, but as a mockery and an

Another proof of this substantial dependence upon the
executive government, was evinced in the manner in which
the demands of the catholics had at different times been
treated. Their first petition merely prayed for a remedy to
some of the most oppressive grievances under which they
laboured, and in the humblest style solicited indulgence and
concession. An immense majority of the House of Com-
mons were not content with refusing the desire of the petition,
but they resolved to fix upon it a mark of particular insult,
by voting its rejection. In this haughty and insulting vote
every member under the influenoe of government concurred.
The very next session, however, when the war was begun,
and when a more conciliatory conduct was deemed prudent,
a petition, comprehending claims much more extensive, ob-
tained a reception very different from their former modest
pretensions. The crown recommended the claim, and. the
same ministers who had caused it to be indignantly rejected,
now carried the vote by which pretensions far more import-
ant were sanctioned. Of this opposite conduct which the
executive government thus displayed, I most certainly approve
the latter part; but it is not as deserving approbation that I
now insist upon it, but I mention it to chew that it is not the
representation of a factious declaimer, that it is not mere cant
and nonsense, to assert that the independence of the Irishlegislature is a delusion, and that their freedom vanishes be-
fore the breath of the minister. How, in fact, can the people
of Ireland entertain a different opinion, when they see theindecent manner in which government have

• exhibited theparliament as their creatures? When Earl Pitzwilliam went
0 Ireland in the capacity of lord lieutenant, it was under-

stood that he left London with the approbation of ministers,
n favour of the complete emancipation of the catholics; and

though no such vote ever passed
the legislature, no doubt

vas entertained that the measure was to take effect, and that

t would have experienced the most complete support from

ament. However I may differ with my noble friend uponhis system of politics, it cannot be denied that he was the
most popular,

lord lieutenant with all ranks of men, that had
been sent to govern Ireland; but after the hopes which1a01 been raised, after the known preparation of parliament

° vote complete emancipation to the catholics, he is slid-

310 MR. FOX'S MOTION ON [March 23

chilly dismissed, the whole system is reversed, and the question
which a few weeks before would have been carried with luta,.
nitnith is rejected by a vast majority. What was this but
the most insulting display of the dependence of the Irish
legislature? Was it not a proof beyond a thousand demon-
strations, that the measure of 1782 had been rendered cora,
pletely inefficacious ? 'that, in fact, Ireland had gained no,
thing, but was placed in a; state of degradation beyond any
former period ? The effects of this persevering and avowed
system of duplicity might, indeed, be different, according to
the character and situation of those on whom it operated.
The lower classes of the Roman catholics, unfortunately not
more enlightened, not better informed, nor, perhaps, so well
as the peasantry in other countries, though unable to specu-
late upon political circumstances and to reason upon events,
might yet feel its effects. The inhabitants of the northern
parts, as well informed, as intelligent, as enlightened as the
middling classes in Great Britain, or any other country, would
view the system with a more discriminating glance; they
would be able to combine the disposition which they saw ma-
nifested with the constitutional grievances under which they
laboured, and it would at once heighten their sense of abuses,
and their desire of reform ; but even the concessions which
were extended to the catholics, were conducted upon a plan
-which seemed studiously intended by government to damp
the joy of their success.

Before I proceed, I must here beg leave pointedly to express
my abhorrence of the maxim divide et impera, and espc,
cially that by such a truly diabolical maxim, the government
of Ireland should be regulated; on the contrary, I am con-
vinced, that in order to render Ireland happyin herself, and
useful in her connection with this country, every idea of
ruling by division ought to be relinquished, and that the ob-
ject of government shculd be to effect a complete union of
all ranks of men. Disapproving, as I do most heartily, the
maxim I have mentioned, I cannot help being surprised that,
a government so little disposed to act upon the principles of
justice or of liberty, should have acted as if it had heel'
their aim to undo every part. So little was it the object l°
inspire the catholics with gratitude for what had been 0331,:
ceded, that opinions were given without concealment, whic::
left little room for exultation in what had been obtained. of
was usual for men of consideration in Ireland, to talk 'as
what had been done was an act of necessity, which, on
occasion, would be recalled : 'hostile suspicions were
sinuated, not merely against the lower orders of •eatbol'ad
whom it seemed to be the policy of government wtakly

wickedly to divide from the higher rank, but against men of
considerable property, unimpeached character, and undoubted

it Numbers were taken up under charges of higloyalty
treason ; and when acquitted, it appeared that no ground of
suspicion could ever have been entertained against them.
What could be the object of such proceedings, but to con-
vince the catholics that the concessions in their favour were
extorted, that the hostile mind still existed, and that they-
Were marked out as the victims of the most cruel proscription*,
and oppression ? Private animosities, too, arose, and pro-
duced those different classes of disturbers of the public peace
about which so much has been said. The remedies applied
tended to foment the evil. The authority of the laws was
superseded. Those against whom it was thought convictions
could be procured, were taken up ; and those whom it would
have been impossible to convict, were' transported in great
numbers, without the ceremony of a trial. To enable the
government to pursue these violent measures, the Insurrection
act was passed. Those who delight in violent measures, re-
joiced in the effect of their application. Other laws, nearly
as objectionable as the Insurrection act, ,mere also adopted ;
and to one of these I must particularly call the attention of
the House, in order to show the inefficacy of violent remedies.
It was thought a point of the first necessity to prevent the
people, who were the objects of jealousy, from procuring
arms. Considering the strength which the government of
Ireland possessed, it might have

• been supposed that none
could have obtained arms but those who were armed by the
licence of the executive power. Such, however, has been
considered the extent of the danger, that a rigour beyond
any former measure has been employed in disarming the
people. The .exercise of one inordinate authority has pro-
duced the demand for increased powers, while every remedy
that has been applied, has served only to augment the danger.

And now, Sir, a few words upon the grievances of theCatholics and the dissenters. I know an opinion has gone
forth, that the catholics have now no substantial grievances
to complain of, that the presbyterians have still less. It is
said that the catholics have had ceded to them all the privi-
leges of the most importance; that they can vote for members
of parliament, and that they are not distinguished from the
Protestants, but by being excluded from the high offices of
state, and from being members of parliament. If this wereI should still say, that they have a right to all the pri-
vileges possessed by the protestants. On what principle
01.ight they to be excluded ? On what ground of justice ?Sir, upon no ground of justice: the only reason therefore,


Must be i reason of policy, which is a sufficient proof of
hostile mind against them.


But let us consider it in another point of view. Is it no,
thing to have no share in the government, and to be excluded
from the higher offices of the state ? But it is invidiously
objected to the catholics, that it is not civil liberty which they
wish, but power and emolument. To this I would answ"
for the catholics, Yes; nor is it any discredit that they should
be actuated by such desire. I would say, that civil liberty
can have no security without political power. To ask for
civil liberty without political power, would be to act
like weak men, and to ask for the possession of a right for
the enjoyment of which they can have no security. I know
that distinctions have been made between civil and political
liberty, and I admit, that it is possible for whole classes,

whole casts and descriptions of men, to enjoy the one without
possessing the other. Still, however, I assert, that it can be
only by sufferance. I admit, that civil liberty is of a higher
kind; but this I contend, that political power is the only
:security for the enjoyment of the other. - The catholics may
justly say, therefore, It is not this or that concession that will
satisfy us, but give us that which alone Can give us security
for its continuance. It is objected also, that the catholics
are not merely ambitious of power, but actuated by views of
private emolument. But if this were true, is it improper
that the catholics, contributing so largely to the support of
government, should be desirous to share the emoluments
which it bestows, as a compensation for what they sacrifice?
The compensation, indeed, is trifling ; but still, should they, '
in, point of right, be excluded from their•proportion ? Yet,
how strongly will their claim be felt, when it is considered
who are the disputants ? Are the catholics to be told by a few
monopolising politicians, who engross all places, all rever-
sions, all emoluments, all patronages, " Oh ! you base calla-
tics, you think of nothing but your private emolument ! You
perverse generation, who have already been permitted to
vote for members of parliament, are you so base as to urge
the disgraceful demand of a share in personal emoluments?"
Sir, the . catholics are met:, and are to be governed. The
expence of maintaining all governments must be considerable,
and that of Ireland is certainly not a model of economy. In
the emoluments arising out of the establishments of govern'
ment, the catholics have a just right to participate; a forland f
a small and interested minority to imagine that they c0
monopolize all these advantages to themselves, is a pretension,
which cannot be admitted. Mankind are not to be treatill
in this mannet.. It is not now-a-days that such claims



bass current in the world. The loyalty and activity of the
atholics upon the late attempted invasion, are now the theme

of the highest panegyric; but it is empty, unavailing praise:
Laudatzcr et alget is the situation of catholic loyalty. The

which are so much extolled, ought to be rewarded
ay conferring on their possessors those just claims Which are
YetB(elefonriedI tphie•enCe. ed to consider the situation of the protestants,
them is one point relative to the catholics which I ought to
explain. It has been said, that the catholics are entitled to
vote for members of parliament; and the fallacy of this
boasted privilege ought to be exposed. Except in the counties,
the representation of Ireland remains in what is hem known
by the name of close corporations. The animosities which
formerly subsisted are anxiously kept up by the executive go-
vernment, who favour the determination to exclude the catho-
lies from the corporations, so that their privilege is almost
entirely evaded. They thus confer in theory a power, which
they are careful to defeat in practice. Those who esteem this
privilege, then, must be fond of theories upon paper, and
unconcerned about their practical effect. Yet the preSby7
terians consider their grievances to consist in the abuses of
the government, which they have not means to remedy. They
wish for the substantial blessings of the English constitution.
They wish for the political principles on which that consti-
tution is founded. Whoever imagines that a practical re-
semblance exists between the government of Ireland and the
English constitution, will find that the Irish government is
a mirror in which the abuses of this constitution are strongly
reflected. I will not speak of the abuses of which we have
been used to complain, but if I were desirous to reconcile
any one to the abuses of the British constitution, it would
be by a comparison with those of Ireland. Whatever may
have been thought of the plans of parliamentary reform
which have been agitated here, still it was always admittedthat

the House of Commons should be at least a virtual re-pre
sentation of the people. It certainly was stating the point

of virtual representation very high, when it was asserted in
this House, that though all the representatives of England
were chosen by the county of Middlesex, it would be notrhaealaltsoat;efo: reform, so long,- as such a parliament dischargedits

•duty as a parliament. But, are the people of Ireland un-

onable when they complain that they have not the ad-

even of virtual representation? When they complain
le jobbing system of influence and patronage for pur-

poses of personal advantage, is an abuse that totally destroysthe • •Tint of their form of government, and a practical nui,

R March[314 M. Fox's MOTION ON 23,
sance which cannot be endured ? To suppose that a large,
industrious, active, and intelligent body of men can be f;,),
verned against the principles they have imbibed, and the
prejudices by which they are guided, is an idea which history
and human nature prove to be absurd. What is the situation
of affairs with respect to Ireland ? You have raised enormous
burdens both in England and in Ireland. You have produced
great discontents, and you are reduced to such a point that you
must take a decided part. In fact, we now arc precisely at the
point in which we stood in x 774 with America, and the question
is, Whether we are to attempt to retain Ireland by force, instead
of endeavouring to gain her by concessions, and to conciliate her
by conferring on her the substantial blessings of a free consti-
tution? Whenever I see a government desirous to decide byforce
against the will of the majority, in these circumstances I be-
ald the danger of civil war. There is this difference now in
our situation, that the state of our finances may deter us from
encountering such hazardous enterprises. In the Other case
we were wealthy and prosperous. Stultitiam patiuntur apes
might then be said of our situation : but now the critical state
of our affairs, and the embarrassed condition of our finances,
forbid similar experiments. I hope and trust that . the dis-
contents which threaten the separation of Ireland, will be
dissipated without the necessity of a war. But now the ex-
tremity of rigour has been tried, the .severity of despotism
has been let loose, and the government is driven to that state
when the laws are not to be put in execution, but to be super-
seded. Ireland is precisely in that state which a person well
acquainted with the subject defined to be despotism : " Where
the executive power is every thing, and the rights of the people
nothing." At the beginning of the American contest, the
province of Massachusets bay was disarmed; but I do not
think that if this province .had been left armed, the separation
of the American colonies would have been accelerated. The
people of Ireland are now in that state-when, if they should
chuse to resist, a contest must ensue, the issue of which must
be doubtful. In the commencement of the American warn
had made such an observation of the disposition of the rem
lar governments of Europe, that I was convinced that France
:would aid America. In the present there can be no room
,doubt that the French would make it a chief point of their
policy to give assistance to the insurgents. But suppose yof
were to succeed in disarming the whole of the north01.1
.Ireland, you must keep them in subjection by force. rto
do not allay their discontents, there is no way but forocle
keep them in obedience. Can you convince them by tP
musauet that their pri

ciples are false? Can you pro/e°


by the bayonet that their pretensions are unjust? Canthem
you demonstrate to them by martial law that they enjoy the
blessings of a free constitution ? No, it is said, but they
may lie deterred fi• om the prosecution of the objects which
you have determined to refuse. But on what is this founded?
On the history ofIreland itself? No ; for the history of
Ireland proves that, though repeatedly subdued, it could not
be kept in awe by force; and the late examples wilt prove the
eirect which severity may be expected to produce. The cha-
racter of the people of the north of Ireland has been severely
stigmatized. For my own part, it is not my habit to admit a
fixed dislike against any bodies of men, nor do I see any thing
in these to justify such dislike. But it is said these men are
of the old leaven. They are indeed of the old leaven, that
rescued the country from the tyranny of Charles I., and
James II.; they are of that leaven which asserted and defen-
ded the principles of liberty; they are of that leaven which
fermented, kneaded the British constitution. If these princi-
ples have been carried to excess-, it is an excess to which
I am more partial than to the opposite extreme. The oppo-
sition they have suffered is some apology. I arri told, that the.
mode now adopted is this — to declare a country out of the
king's peace, it is necessary that there should be a certificate
from the magistrates; many of the magistrates are not na-
tives of Ireland, or resident there, but Englishmen and officers
of the fencible corps. Are the people to be told that these
magistrates are acting only in a civil capacity ? But have they,
not been provoked to violence? Have not several of .the
principal people of Belfast been taken up ? The law is in
that state, that men may be kept in prison without trial. Is
that an inference of their guilt? I have seen the wanton pro-SectitiOns

of government in this country which juries happilych
ecked. I have.seen too much of these prosecutions to make

ine draw an inference of guilt from the circumstance of a man's
being -taken up. I have heard in Ireland of men being igno-
miniously arrested and carried to Dublin, who on their trials
were found to be perfectly innocent, and ought not to havebeen s

uspected. The people of the north, attached to these
men, were determined that they should not suffer in their
Prop.erty, The people Worked for

.nothing ; they reapedtheir harvests, on purpose to shew.either their good will tothe

arties, or their detestation, possibly, of the•conduct of
offengovernment. This, however, was construed to-he a heinous

s,ece; -the people were dispersed by The ;military; and whenwere killed, the attending their bodies to the grave was
nied criminal, and the persons assisting were, dispersed, asIf they were,

doing an act against the ,state. That these things


8 16 MR. FOX'S MOTION ON [Marc*

will goad who can doubt? Is it not possible that they who
prefer monarchy may find the exercise of it so bad, as almost
to doubt the excellence of a monarchical government? B
should the people even be totally subdued, can you do other-
wise than keep up a large military force? But suppose the
people submit— I put the , in that way can you trust
to such a situation ? Wil their submission to laws which
they detest, last longer than your power lasts, and their ire.
potency? Will you continue to keep up your force? Du-
ring the war, I believe you will. But can Ireland afford to
maintain it during peace? Is it the way to persuade the
catholics to assist you,you. to refuse acceding to their demands?
I have heard that a direct application has been made, not
from the catholic peasantry, but from the catholic nobility;
a strong and urgent application to the government to grant
the remainder of their demands. I have been told, what cer.
tainly it was unnecessary to tell me, that these applications
have been unsuccessful. To refuse all these demands, to de-
termine' to govern Ireland by military force, to risk a civil
war ; which of these evils is the worst I know not.

But it may be said, what is to be done? My general prin-
ciple is to restore peace on principles of peace, and to make
concessions on principles of concession. I wish members to
read that celebrated speech of Mr. Burke on the subject of
such concessions. Let them read that beautiful display of elo-
quence, and at the same time of sound reasoning, and they will
find in it all those principles which it is my wish to have
adopted. There is another expression of that gentleman's, I
believe, in his letter to the people of Bristol. In that letter
he says, that " that is a free government which the people
who live under it conceive to be so." Apply this to Ireland;
make it such a government as the people shall conceive to be
a free one. But it is said, it is not possible to satisfy all per-
sons. It may be so. But is there one concession that could
be made to the catholics which the people in the north of
Ireland could object to ? Is there one grievance which could
be remedied in the north, to which the catholics would object?
They have no inconsistent pretensions, no clashing interests
The concessions to be made to the different parties are not
inconsistent; the one party will not repine at the satisfactien
which the other obtains. Who, then, would be dissatisfied
by such concessions ? Not the aristrocracy, for I will not
call it by so respectable a name. And is that miserable mono'
polising minority to be put in the balance with the prefer?
oration of the empire and the happiness of a whole peoPI,e'
The Irish wish to have a reform, upon an extended scale;
they desire an extension

f popular rights, But may




t be a conciliation and compromise ? In the: declaration
of the people of Belfast, I see that they do most distinctly
state, that they conceive all the benefits of freedom may be
enjoyed under a government of king, lords, and commons.
What, then, is it that the people wish for ? They wish the
House of Commons to be differently constituted. I think
them right. They desire a diminution of patronage, and they
may go the extraordinary length of saying, that it is not right
to have a church in all its splendour, which is applicable only
to a small part of the inhabitants. But do not these things
admit of temperate discussion and satisfactory compromise ?
What, they ask, is a constitution such as Great Britain has, ac-
cording to some, and such as she ought to have, according to
others — a government which shall virtually express the will
of the people ; and if in treating with them you should fail,
you will then have to resort to violent measures ; you will then
have to divide the people, as Mr. Burke said — not to divide
the people of Massachussets from the people of Virginia—
not to divide Boston from Carolina — not, I say, to divide
Ulster from 'Connaught, and Leinster from Munster, but you
will divide the people who wish for the constitution from
those who wish to destroy it. These are the divisions which
I wish for. But conciliation, it may be said, will not do. If
it will not, then only may we have recourse to arms. Is there
a worse period for the country in point of credit and re-
sources? I know not; but sure I am, that we cannot do worse,
than at the end of one war, to adopt measures to bring on
another. I would therefore concede; and if I found I had
not conceded enough, I would concede more. I know of no
way of governing mankind but by conciliating them; and
according to the forcible way which the Irish have of express-
ing their meanina " I know of no mode of governing themeaning,
the people, but by letting them have their own way." And.
what shall we lose by it? If Ireland is governed by conced-
ing to all her' ways and wishes, will she be less useful to GreatBritain? What is she now? Little

• more than a diversion
for the enemy. If you keep Ireland by force now, what must
You do in all future wars ? You must in the first place secure
her from insurrection. I will therefore adopt the Irish ex-pr

ession, and say, that you can only govern Ireland by lettingher have her own way. The consequences of a war with
Ireland are dreadful to contemplate ; public horrors would beso increased by the laceration of private feelings,' as to spread

versal misery through both countries; the connection is so
interwoven between the individuals of the two countries that
4,o rupture can happen without wounding the most tender
'llendshis and the most sacred ties. Rigour has already

318 MR. Fox's MOTION, &C. [March 1197')


been attempted ; let concession and conciliation then-be tried
before the last appeal is hazarded. My wish is, that die
whole people of Ireland should have the same principles, the
same system, the same operation of government, and, thotwh
it may be a subordinate consideration, that all classes should
have an equal chance of emolument : in other words, I wood
have the whole Irish government regulated by Irish notions
and Irish prejudices; and I firmly believe, according to another
Irish expression, the more she is under the Irish government

• the more will she be bound to English interests.
' One word or two on the subject of Lord Fitzwillime;s
administration. He went to Ireland, and after a short resi-
dence, was recalled. I wish to ask those who know that
country best, whether the day of his departure was not a day
of the greatest sorrow ? That his lordship has many qua-
lities to render him popular, I know ; but his popularity in
Ireland was derived from this circumstance, that he went
upon the principle of concession. What happened after his
departure ? Those who look only superficially at events
boasted that the effects which bait been predicted in conse-
quence of his lordship's recal, did not happen. The catholic
petition was rejected. I said that these appearances were
deceitful, that the effects might not be immediate, but would
be certain. See what has happened, and say, whether you
cannot conceive that great part of the present distracted state
of the country has been produced by the hopes of the people
having been disappointed," and by the cup of enjoyment having
been dashed from their lips. You may be now in a situation
somewhat similar. The measures you have adopted may pro-
duce apparent quiet, but I warn you against premature exul-
tation. That the present state of Ireland can afford no satis-
faction, all must admit. That there is so great a part of the
king's subjects as the county of Down contains, 'out of the
king's peace and the pale of the constitution, is a circumstance
which w2 must all lament; and should it lead to civil dissention,
there is no man, I am sure, but will feel the horrible situation
in which individuals would be involved, and the calamities that
would be entailed upon the public Sir, I say, therefore)
try conciliation, but do not have recourse to arms, which,
if once attempted to a considerable degree, cannot be rem°.
died or recalled. In case of civil dissention, whom can you
rely upon ? Not upon that small party of monopolists, maRY
of whom could not bring so many men into the field, as they
bring members into parliament. I can scarcely conceive titat,
any objection can be urged against the present motion in Poi'
of form. The interests of this country and of Ireland
same ; its afhirs arc conducted by ministers and the 1.')

cabinet, and it is the privilege of this House to 'advise his
It I were to justify the measure by precedent, Imajesty.

tai m i t quote the case of an impeachment of the Earl of Lau-
derdale by the English parliament, before the Union, for his
conduct of the government of Scotland. But why should I
peak of forms when the consequence of the discontents in
Ireland may be . contest to be supported by Englishmen and•
English money? I therefore move, Sir, " That an humble
address be presented to his majesty, that his majesty will be

ously pleased to take into his royal consideration the
bed state of his kingdom of Ireland, and to adopt such


healing and lenient measures as may appear to his majesty's
wisdom best calculated to restore tranquillity, and to conciliate
the affections of all descriptions of his majesty's subjects in
that kingdom to his majesty's person and government."

This motion was seconded in an animated speech by Sir Francis
Burdett, and supported by Mr. William Smith, Lord Wycombe,
Mr. Curwen, Mr. Courtenay, and Mr. Hobhouse ; and was opposed
by Mr. Pitt, Lord Hawkesbury, and Lord Frederick Campbell.
On a division, the numbers were,


y s f Mr. Curwen 7 0

Ld. Hawkesburyi 2
Mr. WM. Smith S Mr. John Smythf

So it passed in the negative.
4 . — NOBS


April a 0.

THIS day Mt. Pollen moved, " That an humble address beI
to his majesty, to represent to him, that it appearsto this 'House, on a mature consideration of the circumstances,

and the result of the late negotiation, that his majesty's gracious
benign intentions for restoring general peace, have been eitherMisconceived by the government of France, or ill explained by

them to the people of that country i that we therefore humbly be-

seech his majesty, that he will be graciously pleased, without






lay, to adopt such measures as may appear to him, in his royal

,MoSt efBeatious for removing every misconception which
may have been entertained by the directory of France, by thei bl'ench nation, and by all Europe, relative to the sincerity of they which the government of this country was actuated

making of peace to the directory of France."—Mr. Pitt
opposed the motion. He said it would appear, on inquiry, that
ministers had not only performed the whole of what the motion

[proposed, but had even gone beyond the direct terms of it.

had no hesitation in declaring that in consequence of dispatches
received from his imperial majesty, who had refused to negociate
for peace, but in conjunction with Great Britain, a confidential
person was to be sent from this country to Vienna,

with inStrIte,
tions to enable the emperor to conduct farther negotiations,
concert with his allies. He, therefore, hoped that Mr. Pollen
would withdraw his motion, rather than persevere in a measure
which would tend to defeat the end which it proposed.--`After
the other orders of the day had been moved by Mr. Hiley M.

sistently with my duty, to give a silent vote upon the question
now before the House upon this extraordinary day. After
all that this country has suffered, after all the calamities that
have been brought upon us, and after contemplating those
that are impending, we have to consider whether we will ad-
dress the throne for the purpose of facilitating peace, which I
think, which trust this House, which I know this country
thinks, is the only means of repairing our misfortune, and
averting our ruin. What is it that is now stated to the

minister himself, who has had so large a share in producing
your present calamities, and who therefore ought to feel for

you should persist in continuing that confidence in him which

House by those who oppose this motion? What does the

them, propose to you this night? What, but a desire that

has brought you to that calamity ; that you should continue

you should still trust to those councils which have been so
fatal. He is for ever the same character, although he comes

that forbearance which is the source of your misfortune; that

before you in different shapes. When he is called upon by
those who are the most willing to trust him, to take some step
that may lead to peace, he comes forward with, a promise that
he will do so, nay, that he is actually doing it. Promises
you. have had from him in abundance, but not one of theta

that the city of London was informed in the morning, that
has he fulfilled. 'We are told this day, as I understand,

gentleman in a confidential character is going to Vienna, the

t of whose mission would be explained this evening to,

the House of Commons. How far that has been explaine d' ',
leave gentlemen to say. But, it seems, Mr. Hammond, 01
whose abilities I have no doubt, is going to Vienna, and 1110
this the minister expects you to stop at once in the perforn'rf

with the unanimous wishes of the people of this country . 1311-
to be sincere in desiring to forward that event, he would et

ante of your public duty. He is going upon the sub ect 0
peace, and under that general head, supposing his emploYell

M. Fox rose, and said : It would be difficult for me; Ct.

1 797'3

n that sincerity I have great doubts. What is the reason,yr-
th en


of this embassy ? I am afraid it is too much like that
which took place last summer. 'When the French arms were
victorious; when the situation of the emperor was critical, as
admitted by all; desperate, as thought by many ; then you

a step similar to that which is now about to be taken,
that was afterwards followed by your sending a negociator

Paris. I know that some persons chuse to forget the elates
circumstances of these events; seeing that when Lord

'.1.1oliti:o:( Pli


lamesbury was sent to Paris, the French had met with some
defeats. That we were in a state more prosperous when that
noble lord went to Paris than we had been s