SPEECHES
}

SPEECHES
OF


THE RIGHT HONOURABLE


CHARLES JAMES FOX.


VOL. IV.




O


THE


SPEECHE S


or


THE RIGHT HONOURABLE


CHARLES JAMES FOX,


IN THE


HOUSE OF COMMONS.


IN SIX VOLUMES=


VOL. IV,


LONDON:
FEINTED FOR LONGMAN, IIITR.ST, REES, ORME, AND BROWN-,


PATERNOSTER-ROW;


AND J. RIDGWAY, PICCADILLY-


1 8 s.
Stiahan and pr.est,,,n,


Ptinters-Strent, London.




CONTENTS


OF


THE FOURTH VOLUME.


1789.
Page


_May
ry


8. Mr. Beaufoy's Motion for the Repeal of the
Test and Corporation Acts


12. Abolition of the Slave Trade
Jane 8. Choice of a Speaker


so. Mr. Sheridan's Motion for a Committee on the
State of the Public Income and Expenditure 18-


Tobacco Excise Bill 22
179o.


Feb. 5. Army Estimates— French Revolution Dif-
ference of Opinion between Mr. Fox and
Mr. Burke 32


The Same 38
March z. Mr. Fox's Motion for the Repeal of the Test and


Corporation Acts 55
4. Mr. Flood's Motion for a Reform in Parliament 76


April 16. Tobacco Excise Bill 78
19. Budget for the Year 1790




.................. I
May 6. The King's Message respecting Vessels cap-


tured by Spain, at Nootka Sound
21. Complaint against Major Scott for a Libel on


the Managers of the Impeachment of Mr
Hastings
90


27. The Same


92
Nov. z6. .A...drresseossntilie King's Speech at the Opening of


the Session
98Dec. 1 3 . Mr. Grey's Motion for Papers relative to the


Convention with Spain


103
I 4. Address on the Convention with Spain.... ........ —
23. Abatement of an Impeachment by a Dissolu-


tion of Parliament .................., ..................... 125
21. Mr. Hippesley's Motions respecting the War in


India with Tippoo Sultan 139




vi CONTENT5,


1791.


Feb. 28. The Same


. Catholic Dissenters' Relief 13111


March I. The Same


April I. The Same


CONTENTS. vii


Page' 1792. Page
142 Establishment of the Duke and Duchess ofMarch 7. 36o144 Yor aint


against547 13. Mr. George Rose for Abuses
152 committed at the Westminster Election 366


8. The Same
March 15.




Bank Dividends' Bill


22. The Same


25.
The Same


153 28. War in India with Tippoo Sultan


155 April 2. Abolition of the Slave Trade


165 4. The Same
169 I7. The Same


370
376
386
388


29. King's Message respecting the War between 23. The Same ...... ..... ............ 01. . ........ 414/ 389
Russia and the Porte
571 25. The Same 398


April Corn Regulation 13111
179 18. Mr. Sheridan's Motion relative to the Royal


19. Abolition of the Slave Trade
18o Burghs of Scotland 402


15. War with Russia- French Revolution


March Quebec Government Bill - French Revolution 194
30.


Mr. Grey's Notice of a Motion relative to Par-
liamentary Reform 407


Separation between Mr. Fox and Mr


Burke May
8. Abuses committed at the Westminster Election


200 Conduct of Mr. Rose 413
April


8. The Same
21. The Same <,•••• 0000000000000 of OOOOOOOOOOOOOOO “e•e••‘•.




May 6. The Same
1. The Same


202 II. Mr. Fox's Motion for Leave to bring in a Bill to
208 repeal certain Penal Statutes respecting Re-ligious Opinions
2I0


April 17. Middlesex Justices' Bill 228


418
429


10. Motion for a Repeal of the Test Act, as far as May x8. The Same 1-30.
it extends to Scotland


20. Mr. Fox's Libel Bill
Copy of Mr. Fox's Libel Bill




24. East India Budget
25. Mr. Thomas Grenville's Motion for an Address,


advising His Majesty to decline any Inter-
ference in the War between Russia and the
Porte


June 2. Mr. Grey's Motion for an Address, imploring
His Majesty not to prorogue the Parliament
without communicating some distinct Infor-
mation relative to the Cause of the present
Armament




237
244-
270


275


z80


23. The Same
25. Address on the King's Proclamation against Se-


ditious Writings
Dec. 13. Mr. Fox's Amendments to the Address on the


the King's Speech at the Opening of the
Session


I.I. The Same


15. Mr. Fox's Motion for sending a Minister to
Paris, to treat with the Provisional Govern-
ment of France


17. Complaint of a Libel, intitled " One Pennyworth
of Truth from Thomas Bull to his Brother
John"


431


435


442
466


473


477
2o. Situation of the Royal Family of France 4811792.


Jan. 31. Address on the King's Speech at the Opening
of the Session


APPENDIX.
A Letter from the Right Honourable Charles


287 James Fox to the Worthy and Independent Electors of
Feb. 9' Major Maitland's Motion for Papers relating to


theWar in India
•.••..•••• .......... ••• ..........


the City and Liberty of Westminster .••,, .........
.....


3c.s2 485


17. State of the Public Income and Expenditure ... 31I
20. Mr. Grey's Motion for Papers relative to the


War between Russia and the Porte
320


March r. Mr. Whitbread's Motion respecting the Arma-
ment against Russia


..... ...•..•.; ..... • ••"•” 1”..••• 329




I


SPEECHES
OF THE


RIGHT HONOURABLE


CHARLES JAMES FOX,


cS'C. cS'C. 4,


MR. BEAUTOY'S MOTION FOR THE REPEAL OF THE TEST
AND CORPORATION ACTS.


May 8. 1789.


ON this day, Mr. Beauf'oy moved the House for a committeeto take into consideration so much of the test and corpora-
tion acts as related to protestant dissenters. The motion was op-
posed by Lord North and Mr. Pitt, and supported by Sir Harry
Hoghton, Sir James Johnstone, Mr. Fox, Mr. Martin, and Mr.
William Smith.


Mr. Fox said, that on the present occasion, he did not
feel himself under the necessity of trespassing, for any length
of time upon the indulgence of the tiouse ; because the nature
of the subject now under their investigation had been so
thoroughly examined, and so amply and variously reasoned
upon, not merely within the walls of parliament, but in every
corner of the kingdom, that it was •not in his power to give
the force of novelty to arguments, the frequency of the re-
petition of which must still live within the general remem-
brance. He could not avoid declaring at the outset, that
he experienced an insurmountable difficulty in submitting
to that opinion of the honourable gentleman who spoke last,
(Mr. NV Smith,} which had led him to describe the reason'-;
ings of the noble lord in the blue • ribband as weak, fallacious,
and pompous nothings. Although even the solid and bril-liant abilities of the noble lord could not impart an irresistible
weight to that side of the question which he had chosen to
espouse, yet their exertions were. too formidably respectable


VOL. IV.




2
IIIOTION FOR THE REPEAL OF [May 8.


1789.1
THE TEST AND CORPORATION ACTS. 3


to be laid open to the lash of either levity or contempt. He
was, however, so much accustomed to find the House adopt
a contrary opinion to that which he endeavoured to main-
tain, that he was apprehensive the noble lord's arguments
would have more weight with the majority of the House
than his own. Whatever sentiments gentlemen might have
formed with respect to religion, with respect to an esta-
blished church, to toleration, or to the length to which it
ought to extend, there could, in :his opinion, be no objec-
tion to a motion which went only to a committee of enquiry.
If the corporation and test acts should appear to be wrong
in their principle, they certainly ought to be repealed ; if
they were right in their principle, it might, perhaps, be found
that they were inadequate to the purpose for which they were
enacted. In either case, examination and enquiry might do
much good, and could not possibly prove injurious.


The first question which naturally presented itself was,
whether the church and the constitution were necessarily
connected and dependant on each other, and in what degree ?
And on this point the House, he trusted, would be careful
how they assented'to the proposition of the noble lord. For
his own part, he should not scruple most unequivocally. to
declare, that lie conceived that religion should always be
distinct from civil government, and that it was no otherwise
connected with it, than as it tended to promote morality
among the people, and thus conduced to good order in the
state. No human government had a right to enquire into
private opinions, to presume that it knew them, or to act on
that presumption. Men were the best judges of the conse-
quences of their own opinions, and how far they were likely
to influence their actions; and it was most unnatural 'and
tyrannical to say, " As you think, so must you act. I will
collect the evidence of your future conduct from what I
know to be your opinions." The very reverse of this was
the rule of conduct which ought to be pursued. Men ought
to be judged by their actions, and not by their thoughts.
The one could be fixed and ascertained, the other could only
be matter of speculation. So far was he of this opinion, that
if any man should publish his political sentiments, and say in
writing, that he disliked the constitution of this country, and
give it as his judgment, that principles in direct contradic-
tion to the constitution and government were the principles
which ought to be asserted and maintained, such an author
ought not, in his judgment, on that account, to be disabled
from filling any office, civil or military ; but if he carried
his detestable opinions into practice, tile law would then find


remedy, and punish him for his conduct, grounded' on his


opinions, as an example to deter others from acting in the
same dangerous and absurd manner. No proposition could,
he contended, prove more consonant to common sense, to
reason and to justice, than that men should be tried by
their actions, and not by their opinions : their actions ought
to be waited for, and not guessed at, as the probable conse-
quence of the sentiments which they were known to enter-
tain and to profess. If the reverse of this doctrine were ever
adopted as a maxim of government, if the actions of men
were to be prejudged from their opinions, it would sow the
seeds of jealousy and distrust, it would give scope to private
malice, it would sharpen the minds of men against one
another, incite each man to divine the private opinions of
his neighbour, to deduce mischievous consequences from
them, and thence to prove that lie ought to incur disabilities,
and be fettered with restrictions. This, if true with respect
to political, was more peculiarly so with regard to religious
opinions; and from the mischievous principle which he had
described, flowed every species of party zeal, every system
of political intolerance, every extravagance of religious hate.


In this position, that the actions of men, and not their
opinions, were the proper objects of legislation, he was sup-
ported by the general tenor of the laws of the land.


• His=
tory, however, afforded one glaring exception, in the case
of the Roman Catholics. The Roman Catholics, or, more
properly speaking, the papists, as the noble lord had very
justly called them, (a distinction which, lie trusted, was per-
fectly understood by all who heard him, and would ever be
maintained by the English Roman Catholics in time to
come,) had been supposed by our ancestors to entertain opi-
nions which might lead to mischief against the state. But
was it their religious opinions that were feared? Quite the
contrary. Their acknowledging a foreign authority para-
mount to that of the legislature; their acknowledging a. title
to the crown superior to that conferred by the voice of the
people; their political opinions, which they were supposed
to attach to their religious creed, were dreaded, and justly
dreaded, as inimical to the constitution. Laws, therefore,
were enacted to guard against the pernicious tendency of
their political, but not of


- their religious opinions, and theprinciple thus adopted, if not founded on justice, was at least
followed up with consistency. Their influence in the statelov


ff
aiscefesared, and they were not only restricted from holding


purchasing
b


p owe'. or trust, but rendered incapable of eitherlands, or ac uirino influence of any kind. But
if the Roman Catholics Olt' those times, arid not the RomanC


atholics of the present day, were papists, in the. strictest
B 2




4


1


4 =mos, FOR THE REPEAL or [May 8.
sense of the expression, even upon this ground, Mr. Fox
observed, that he should hold himself justified in declaring
that the legislature ought not to have acted against them,
until, by carrying into practice some of the dangerous doc-
trines which they were thought to entertain, they had ren-
dered themselves obnoxious to those penalties which, in the
case of such a perpetration, it threatened to inflict. Disabi-
lity and punishment ought to have followed, but not to have
anticipated, offence.


Those who attempted to justify the disabilities imposed on
the dissenters, must contend, if they argued fairly on their
own ground, not that their religions opinions were inimical
to the established church, but that their political opinions
were inimical to the constitution. If they failed to prove
this, to deprive the dissenters of any civil or political ad-
vantage, was a manifest injustice; for, it was not sufficient
to say to any set of men, " We apprehend certain dangers
from your opinions, we have wisely provided a remedy
against them, and you who feel yourselves aggrieved, ca-
lumniated, and proscribed by this remedy, must prove that
our apprehensions arc ill founded." The onus probandi lay
on the other side; for whoever demanded that any other
person should be laid under a restriction, it was incumbent
on him first to prove that the restriction was necessary to his
safety by some overt act, and that the danger which he ap-
prehended was not imaginary but real. To such a ground
as this the noble lord in the blue ribband had not endea-
voured to advance ; but, on the contrary, had expressed him-
self concerning the dissenters in terms the most liberal and
handsome. For what reason ? Because he felt that enco-
miums of this nature must be considered as a candid ad-
herence to true propriety, and to the principles of common
j ustice. He knew that they had been steady in their attach-
ment to government ; that their religious opinions were fa-
vourable to civil liberty, and that the true principles of the
constitution had been remembered and asserted by them,
at times when they were forgotten, perhaps betrayed, by the
church.


Such had been the character of the dissenters. 'Were their
political opinions now different from what they had been at
any one preceding sera ? Were they more formidable from
their numbers, more dangerous from their principles, more
considerable in any respect, except, perhaps, from the ta-
lents of some of their members? No assertion of this kind
had been ever made; and the noble lord finding their ex-
clusion from an equal participation of power with their fel-
low-subjects, a topic on which it was impossible for him to


1789.] THE TEST AND CORPORATION ACTS. 5
serve his cause, had entered on a more pleasing theme; a pa-
negyric on the church of England ;. which, he said, had
shared the dangers and the fate of the state, had sunk and
risen with the constitution, and therefore ought to be pecu-
liarly endeared to us. He felt no difficulty in acknowledging
the j ustice of this encomium ; but he could not consent to
adopt the conclusion — that the happiness of the state was
dependant on the flourishing state of the church ; for who
that perused the history of those dangers which the church
had shared in common with the state, but must see that the
church might have been triumphant, while the state was in
ruin ? Was it seriously to be contended, that religion de-
pended on political Opinions; that it could subsist only under
this or that form of government? It was an irreverent and
impious opinion to maintain, that the church must depend
for support as an engine or ally of the state, and not on the
evidence of its doctrines, to be found by searching the scrip-
tures, and the moral effects which it produced on the minds
of those whom it was its duty to instruct.


The noble lord had praised the moderation of the church.
To this, however, there were some exceptions. In the reign
of Charles the Second, her fortitude had been greater than
her moderation; in that of James the Second, her servility
had been greater than either ; under King 'William, and still
more, under Queen Mary, so little had the clergy been dis-
tinguished for moderation, that they frequently disturbed the
nation by their affected alarms for the safety- of the church;
and he never apprehended`persecution to be so near, as when
those who were actually possessed of power, cried ont that
they were in danger; tins justifying the truth of the well-
known remark, " Omnia fo•midant. formidanturque tyranni."
Since the accession of the house of i3runswick, that auspicious
mm in the history of the constitution, the church had me-
rited every praise, because it had not been indulged in eitherits whims or its imaginary apprehensions. Since that time,it had flourished and


- improved ;
moderate behaviour. A




but how? By toleration and
end how had these been produced?By the members of the established church being forced tohear time arguments of the dissenters; by their beingeim). obligedbtthoyeottihr-mluemtohssterooati hand to argument, instead of imposing silence


which the collisioni v


nd of power; by that modest confidence in


among men own
tenets and charity for those of others,


fpoi;oet,ecatec(11 byit:sinoleuoelrfxfo.aepi
ie the


to


in open and libe
ra


l discussion


to the happiness under


same government, and equally
produce.


o elation, there-
indulgence to other sects, were equally conducive


ness of mankind, and the safety of the church;
B 3




' MOTION FOR THE REPEAL Or [May 8.
and for that moderation and liberality of sentiment, by which
the church had flourished during the two last reigns and the
present, was she indebted to those very dissenters from whom
she thought herself in danger.


With regard to the test act, he thought that the best
argument which could be used in its favour was, that if it
had but little good effect, it had also little bad. In his opi-
nion, it was altogether inadequate to the end which it had
in view. The purport of it was, to protect the established
church, by excluding from office every man who did not
declare himself well affected to that church. But a professed
enemy to the hierarchy might go to the communion table,
and afterwards say, that in complying with a form enjoined
by law, he had not changed his opinion, nor, as he con-
ceived, incurred any religious obligation whatever. There
were many men, not of the established church, to whose
services their country had a claim. Ought any such man
to be examined before he came into office, touching his pri-
vate opinions? Was . it not sufficient that he did his duty as
a good citizen ? Might he not say, without incurring any
disability, " I am not a friend to the church of England,
but I am a friend to the constitution, and on religious sub-
jects must be permitted to think and act as I please." Ought
their country to be deprived of the benefit which she might
derive from the talents of such men, and his majesty pre-
vented from dispensing the favours of the crown, except to
one description of his subjects ? But whom did the test ex-
clude? the irreligious man, the man of profligate principles,
or the man of no principle at all? Quite the contrary ; to
such men the road to power was open ; the test excluded
only the man of tender conscience ; the man who thought
religion so distinct from all temporal affairs, that he held
it improper to profess any religious opinion whatever, for
the sake of a civil office. Was a tender conscience incon-
sistent with the character of an honest man ? or did a high
sense of religion shew that he was unfit to.be trusted?


But the noble lord contended, that the established church
ought to be protected. Granting this, it was next to be en-
quired, what was the established church ? Was the church
of England the established church of Great Britain ? Cer-
tainly not; it was only the established church of a part of
it; for, in Scotland, the kirk was as much established by
law, as the church was in England. The religion of the
kirk was wisely secured as the established religion of Scot-
land by the articles of union ; and it was surely absurd to
say, that a member of the kirk of Scotland, accepting an
office under government, not for the service of England


13


1789.]


THE TEST AND CORPORATION ACTS.
7


exclusively, but for the service of the united kingdoms, should
be obliged to conform, not to the religious establishment
of Scotland, in which he had been bred, but to the religious
establishment of England. It was singular to contend for


of persecution, when the only principle on
avlyicliip


riitilccoitieuld ever have been reconciled to a rational mind
was abandoned, not only in speculation, but in practice.
In ancient times, persecution originated in the generous,
though mistaken principle, that there could be but one true
religion, but one faith, by which men could hope for salva-
tion ; and that it was not only lawful but meritorious, to
compel them to embrace the true faith, by all the means,
of whatever nature they might prove, which offered. The
rectitude of the intention might, perhaps, be some excuse for
the barbarity of the practice. But how did we act ? We
acknowledged, not one true religion, but two true religions;
a religion for England, and a religion fbr Scotland; and
having been originally liberal in the institution of two
churches of equal right, we became illiberal in. our more
enlightened days, and granted to the members of one esta-
blished church, what we denied to those of another, equally
established. According to this doctrine of protecting the
church of England, if the practice had kept pace with the
principle, the country must have been deprived of all those
gallant characters of the kirk of Scotland, who had so emi-
nently distinguished themselves in the army and the.navy
and of all those celebrated legislators and senators who had
added learning and dignity to the courts of justice, and wis-,
loin to his majesty's councils. is tests were right, the pre-
sent was clearly a wrong test, because it shunned all the
purposes for which tests were originally introduced.


The candour of the noble lord, and the information which,
doubtless, he had collected upon enquiry since, Mr. Fox
said, had enabled him to satisfy the House in a point which
had not been answered two years ago, and that was, in the
case of a person who was a notorious evil doer, who applied
for the sacrament. The manner of the noble lord's answer
was rational, and, 'from the good sense of it, he had no
doubt that it was the true answer ; but, upon this ground,
it might be proper to take a serious view of the melancholy
situation of the person who, upon application to a minister,
had been refused the sacrament. From that very moment,
did he incur the penalties of the act; from that moment,
w spunished in a manner perfectly unexampled, andu
nauthorised by the laws of the land; from that moment,


was he convicted without a trial by jury, and disabled from
enjoying an ofiice which his majesty, in the legal exercise;


13 4




S MOTION FOR THE REPEAL OP [May S.
of his prerogative, might have thought proper to confer
upon him.


Much boasted reliance had been placed upon the old ar-
gument of the length of time that the test and corporation
acts had subsisted. It was true, that they had so subsisted
for nearly a century: but how had they subsisted ? By re-
peated suspensions; for the indemnity bills were, he believed,
literally speaking, annual acts. With regard to the noble
lord's argument relative to the evading of these indemnity
bills, he admitted, that if any person neglected to conform
merely for the sake of evading the law, he certainly acted in
direct opposition to an act of parliament, and did not con-
duct himself as a good subject ought to do, While an act
was deemed fit to remain in force, it was the duty of every
good subject not to evade it. Indeed, the only justification
of evading a statute which could be for a moment maintained,
was, where that statute notoriously ought not to remain in
force. He trusted, however, that the House would consent
to go into the committee, to examine whether it was fitting
or necessary to be repealed or not, and not deny the requi-
sition, as if they were ashamed even to look at the statutes
in question. He trusted that it was scarcely necessary to
remind the House - that, in consequence of a violent alarm
from the papists, the test act had been introduced, with a
view to exclude them, and them only, from office; that the
dissenters had cordially joined in it, and consented to their
own exclusion, thinking that a less evil than to leave the
door open to papists. And is it possible, therefore, (added
Mr. Fox,) that you can thus ungenerously requite them; thus
take a most unbecoming advantage of their patriotism, and
convert what they consented to as necessary for the general
safety at that time, into a perpetual exclusion against them-
selves ! Is it thus that the church would reward the service
which they had done her in the day of her distress !


Adverting to the Occasional Conformity act, which had been
repealed a few years since, Mr. Fox observed, that they had
heard, during the course of the debate, that the church of
England was in its glory. The church of England, therefore,
according to the arguments of the noble lord, and the ad-
vocates for the continuance of the statutes, which, he con-
tended, were at once too needless and too unjust to remain
in force any longer, had not suffered, but gained by what
they feared would have proved detrimental to her interests.
The dissenters had been stated to be pious and good men ;
but it had been said, that they might nevertheless be no
friends to the church of England. Surely, if they were dan-
gerous any where, it must be as members of parliament, and


1789.3 THE TEST AND CORPORATION ACTS. 9
es electors of the representatives of the people; and yet they
were suffered to sit as the one, find vote as the other. Mr.
Fox declared that, for his own part, he was a friend to an
established religion in every country, and wished that it
might always be • that which coincided most with the ideas
of the bulk of the state, and the general sentiments of the
people. In the southern parts of Great Britain, hierarchy
was the established church, and in the northern, the kirk ;
and for the best possible reason, because they were each
most agreeable to the majority of the people in their respec-
tive situations. It would, perhaps, be contended, that the
repeal of the corporation and test acts might enable the dis-
senters to obtain a majority. This he scarcely thought pro-
bable; but it appeared fully sufficient to answer, that if the
majority of the people of England should ever be for the
abolition of the established church, in such a case, the aboli-
tion ought immediately to follow.


To the opinion of the honourable gentleman who opened
the debate, that there were too many oaths imposed by the
statutes in force, Mr. Fox observed that he most thoroughly
assented. What, he desired to know, could be a greater
proof of the indecency resulting from the practice of qua-
lifying by oaths, than if, when a man was seen upon the
point of taking the sacrament, it should be asked, " Is this
man going to make his peace with Heaven, and to repent


- him of his sins?" the answer should be, " No; he goes to
the communion table, only because he has lately received
the appointment of first lord of the treasury !" When the
noble lord in the blue ribband represented the corporation
act to have been forced from the legislature as an act of self-
defence, he might truly be said to have entered into the exact
description of an act which, after the lapse of a century, when
the grounds and reasons for passing it no longer existed,
ought to be repealed. The noble lord had accurately stated,
that the corporation act was forced from the legislature in
the nreian of Charles the second, by the violence of the secta-
ries, which had not only overturned the church, but the
state, and that so lately, that threatening to do the same again,iato.la)


jeicIsatintehenelicnepsseaatio apply a present preventive, to guard
danger. No better argument, he re-


peated, need be urgebd against it now, than that it had been
extorted a century o':go from the legislature, by resentment of
past and the dread of future injuries. Fear and indignation
had operated on the parliament of Charles the Second. Did
the same motives operate on the parliament of George theThird ?
Continuing


not; and could there be any reason fora
act, when the violence which gave birth to it




-d


o MOTION FOR THE REPEAL, &C. [May 8,
had, long since, subsided ? Party and religion were separate
in their views and in their nature ; and as it was for the repu-
tation of both that they should remain so, he therefore urged
the injustice of harassing with penalties, disabilities, and sta-
tutable restrictions, the dissenters ; a respectable body of men,
whose morals were not inconsistent with the religion of the
church of England, and whose sentiments were favourable to
the on the throne.


It had been said, that in France it was customary for Pro-
testants to be employed in the army and in civil offices, and
that in protestant countries abroad, papists were also employed.
For the purpose of invalidating this remark, the noble lord
had given an ingenious and able answer; but let it be exa-
mined. The noble lord had said, that the monarch of a
free country was limited, while the employing whom the
prince pleased was one of the trivial advantages incidental to
absolute power. Let not, then, Great Britain be the last to
avail herself of such an advantage. Wisdom had been de-
scribed as the offspring of freedom ; and should a people, who
boasted of their freedom, and amongst whom, he firmly
believed, men of enlightened understandings were more com-
mon than among those who lived under a less happy form of
government, reject those liberal principles of toleration which
other . nations had adopted ? It was upon such a ground
that, addressing himself to the church of England in particular,
he felt himself justified in accosting her, as a friendly ad-
viser, in language to this effect ;


4G Tape prior, to parce, genus qui ducis Olympo !"
And surely the church of England ought, if possible, more
than any other ecclesiastical establishment upon earth, prac-
tically to inculcate the glorious idea that indulgence to other
sects, the most candid allowance for the diversity of their
opinions, mid a sincere zeal for the advancement of mutual
charity and benevolence, were the truest and the happiest
testimonies which she could give of the divine origin of her
religion ! Mr. Fox concluded with giving his hearty assent
to the motion.


The House divided.
2'd/en. Tellers.


YEA S I
Mr. Plumcr Mr. G A. No tl


So it passed in the negative.
Lord Maitland J . 1 °2 ' N"s 1Sir .VT; D. r




o1b en
122.


1789.]
ABOLITION OP THE SLAVE TRADE. I I


ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE TRADE.


May 12.


17HE consideration of the slave trade, which in conformity to aresolution passed by the House of Commons last year, ought
to have been resumed early in the present session, was, on account
of the peculiar circumstances of the times, deferred till the Izth
of May. A large and elaborate report from the privy council was


and several petitions, both for and against thelaid upon the table,
proposed abolition of the trade, were presented to the House,
These papers were this day referred to a committee of the whole
House to consider of the circumstances of the slave trade ; in
which committee Mr. Wilberforce concluded a speech of extra-
ordinary merit, with


''


movinv the following twelve resolutions :
" That the number of slaves annually carried from the coast of


Africa, in British vessels, is supposed to be about 38,000. That the
number annually carried to the British West India islands, has, on
an average of four years, to the year 1787 inclusive, amounted to
about 22,500. That the number annually retained in the said
islands, as far as appears by the custom house accounts, has
amounted, on the same average, to about 17,goo.


z. " That much the greater number of negroes, carried away by
European vessels, arc brought from the interior parts dale conti-
nent of Africa, and many of them from a very great distance.
That no precise information appears to have been obtained of
the manner in which these persons have been made slaves.
But that from the accounts, as far as any have been procured on
this subject, with respect to the slaves brought from the interior
parts of Africa, and from the information which has been received
respecting the countries nearer to the coast, the slaves may in
general be classed under some of the following descriptions : 1st,
Prisoners taken in war. 2nd, Free persons sold for debt, or on
account of real or imputed crimes, particularly adultery and witch-
craft; in which cases they are frequently sold with their whole
families, and sometimes for the profit of those by whom they are
condemned. 3rd, Domestic slaves sold for the profit of their
masters ; in some places at the will of the masters, and in some
places on being condemned for real or imputed crimes. 4.th, Per-
sons made slaves by various acts of oppression, violence, or fraud,
tclolemir subjects, by the princes and chiefs of those countries on
by Europeans eon.


of Africa, for thes purchase of slaves, has necessarily a tendency to
occasion


convictions
frequent and cruel wars among the natives, to produce


unjust
encourage


punishments for pretended or aggravated
tocrimes, acts of oppression, violence, and fraud, and




I


I


ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE TRADE.
[May it.


to obstruct the natural course of civilization and improvement in
those countries.


4. " That the continent of Africa, in its present state, furnishes
several valuable articles of commerce highly important to the trade
a...d manufactures of this kingdom, and which are in a great mea-
sure peculiar to that quarter of the globe ; and that the soil and
climate have been found, by experience, well adapted to the pro-
duction of other articles, with which we are now either wholly, or
in great part, supplied by foreign nations. That an extensive
commerce with Africa in these commodities, might probably be
substituted in the place of that which is now carried on in slaves,
so as at least to afford a return for the same quantity of goods as
has annually been carried thither in British vessels. And lastly,
that such a commerce might reasonably_be expected to increase
hi proportion to the progress of civilization and improvement on
that continent.


S. " That the slave trade has been found, by experience, to be
peculiarly injurious and destructive to the British seamen who
have been employed therein ; and that the mortality among them
has been much greater than in his majesty's ships stationed on the
coast of Africa, or than has been usual in British vessels employed
in any other trade.


6. " That the mode of transporting the slaves from -Africa to the
West Indies necessarily exposes them to many and grievous suf-
ferings, for which no regulation can provide an adequate remedy ;
and that, in consequence thereof, a large proportion of them has
annually perished during the voyage.


7. " That a large proportion of the slaves so transported, has
also perished in the harbours in the West Indies, previous to their
being sold. That this loss is stated by the assembly of the island
of Jamaica at about four and a half per cent, of the number im-
ported ;. and by medical persons of experience in that island,
ascribed, in great measure, to diseases contracted during the
voyage, and to the mode of treatment on board the ships, by which
those diseases have been suppressed for a time, in order to render
the slaves fit for immediate sale.


8. " That the loss of newly imported negroes, within the first
three years after their importation, bears a large proportion to the
whole number imported.


9. " That the natural increase of population among the slaves
in the islands, appear to have been impeded principally by the
following causes : 1st, The inequality of the number of the
sexes in the importations from Africa. 2nd, The general disso-
luteness of manners among the slaves, and the want of proper re•
gulations for the encouragement of marriages, and of rearing
children. 3rd, Particular diseases which arc prevalent among
them, and which are in some instances attributed to too severe
labour or rigorous treatment, and in others to insufficient or im-
proper food. 4th, Those diseases which affect a large proportion
of negro children in their infancy, and those to which the negroes
newly imported from Africa have been found to be particularly
liable.


1789'3
ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE TRADE.


"


That the whole number of slaves in the island of Jamaica, in
1768, was about 167,000; that the number in 1774, was stated by
Governor Keith about 793,000 ; and, that the number in Decem-


as stated by Lieut. Governor Clarke, was about 236,000.
bTelriatT78,b7; comparing these numbers with the numbers importedinto and retained in the island, in the several years from 1768 to
1774 inclusive, as appearing from the acounts delivered to the com-
mittee of trade by Mr. Fuller ; and in the several years from 1775
inclusive, to 1787 also inclusive, as appearing by the accounts de-
livered in by the inspector general ; and allowing for a loss of about
one twenty-second part by deaths on ship board after entry, as
stated in the report of the assembly of the said island of Jamaica,
it appears, That the annual excess of deaths above births in the
island in the whole period of nineteen years, has been in the pro-
portion of about seven-eighths per cent., computing on the medium
number of slaves in the island during that period. That in the
first six years of the said nineteen, the excess of deaths was in the
proportion of rather more than one on every hundred on the me-
dium number. That in the last thirteen years of the said nineteen,
the excess of deaths was in the proportion of about three-fifths
on every hundred on the medium number ; and that a number of
slaves, amounting to ii,000, is stated by the report of the island
of Jamaica to have perished, during the latter period, in conse-
quence of repeated hurricanes, and of the want of foreign supplies
of provisions.


" That the whole number of slaves in the island of Barba-
does was, in the year 1764, according to the account given in to
the committee of trade by Mr. Braithwaite, 70,706. That in 1774,
the number was, by the same account 74,8 74. In r 780, by ditto,
68,270. In 1781, after the hurricane, according to the same ac-
count, 63,248. In 1786, by ditto;62,r 15. That by comparing theseinumbers with the number imported into this sland, according to
the same account, (not allowing for any re-exportation) the annual
excess of deaths above births, in the ten years from r764 to 1774,
was in the proportion of about five on every hundred, computing
on the medium number of slaves in the island during that period.
That in the seven years from 1774 to 178o, both inclusive, the ex-
cess of deaths was in the proportion of about one and one-third on
every hundred, on the- medium number. That between the year 178o
and 1781, there appears to have been a decrease in the number of
slaves of about five thousand. That in the six years from i 7 81 to
1786, both inclusive, the excess of deaths was in the proportion of
rather less than seven-eighths in every hundred, on the medium
number. And that in the four years from 1783 to 1786, both in-
clusive, the excess of deaths was in proportion of rather less than


t
one third in every hundred on the medium number. And that
from


the wilnioltehepelarsiot.d there is no doubt that some were exported
rom the island, but considerably more in the first part of thisperi d


d: for


C omparing the state of population in the said islands




ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE TRADE.
[May 12:


at different periods, with the number of slaves which have been
from time to time, imported into the said islands, and exported
therefrom. But that from the evidence which has been received
respecting the present state of these islands, as well as of Jamaica
and Barbadoes, and from a consideration of the means of obviating
the causes which have hitherto operated to impede the natural
increase of the slaves, and of lessening the demand of manual
labour, without diminishing the profit of the planter, it appears
that no considerable or permanent inconvenience would result from
discontinuing the farther importation of African slaves."


Mr.Wilberforce was most ably supported by Mr.Burke. Mr.
Pitt was willing that the resolutions should be entered on the
journals.


Mr. Fox having premised that he had listened to the course
of this debate with a pleasure equal to any which he bad felt
during the progress of other important and well-conducted in-
vestigations, added, that with regard to the plan of laying the
propositions before the House, where he was agreed as to the
substance of a measure he did not like to differ as to the form
of it. If,' however, he differed in any thing, it was rather
with a view to forward the business than to injure it, or to
throw any thing like an obstacle or impediment in its way.
Nothing like either should conic from him. What he
thought was, that all the propositions were not necessary to
be voted, previous to the ultimate vote, though some of them
undoubtedly were. In order to explain this he must beg leave
to remind the honourable gentleman, that the propositions
were of two sorts : one sort alleged the fit grounds on which
the House ought to proceed to abolish the slave trade, which
were, that it was a disgrace to humanity, and that it was at-
tended with the loss of lives to our seamen, as well as to the
Africans. Another sort contained assertions in answer to the
objections which either had been stated, or were supposed
likely to be stated. The putting such resolutions on their
journals might create a difficulty to foreign powers, because
that which might be a matter of objection to Great Britain
might not be so to any other country.


Mr. Fox applauded Mr. Wilberforce for professing to do,
what he thought it their duty to do, completely to abolish
the traffic in slaves, a traffic for continuing which on no 3
ground either a plea of policy or necessity could be urged.., •
Wherever an effectual remedy could not be had, Mr. Fox
said, he approved of a palliative, because something like a
remedy was better than no remedy at all ; in the present case,
an effectual remedy was not only more desirable, but it was
much less difficult to be obtained than a palliative. He was


• clad that the propositions were. to be put upon the journals,


1789.]
ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE TRADE. I .;


because if, from any misfortune, the business should fail,
while it stood upon the journals, it might succeed another
year; certain he was, that it could not fail to succeed sooner
or later. Foreign countries, when they heard that the mat-
ter had been discussed in that House, might fbllow the ex-
ample, or they might go before us, and set one themselves.
If this were to happen, though we might be the losers, hu-
manity would be the gainer.


Mr. Fox reminded the House, that he had always been
particularly sanguine, that whenever they examined the slave
trade thoroughly, they would find it not only inhuman, but,
impolitic. From what the honourable gentleman who had
submitted the propositions to their consideration, had said, it
was clear, there was as little policy as humanity in the trade.
But lie had risen chiefly to notice what had fallen from the
right honourable the chancellor of the exchequer respecting
the probability of foreign nations assuming the slave trade on
our abandoning it, and in an illicit manner supplying our.
West India islands with slaves. He had intended to have
risen to have said the very same thing, because he was con-
vinced that it was the fit tone to be held upon such a subject,
and that foreign nations should be given to understand, that
when this country thought proper to abolish the slave trade,
we had resources among us toprevent that trade from being
carried on in any manner with our colonies. With the idea
of an honourable baronet, who declared that a clandestine
trade in slaves was worse than a legal one, he could not coin-
cide. He thought that such a trade, if it existed at all, should
be only clandestine. A trade in human flesh was so scanda-
lous, that it was to the last degree infamous to let it be openly
carried on by the authority of the government of any country..
He had sometimes been thought to use too harsh expressions
of France, in treating her as the rival of this country. Poli-
tically speaking, France certainly was our rival; but he well
knew the distinction between political enmity and illiberal
prejudice. If there was any great and enlightened nation
now


b
existino.


in Europe, it was France, which was as likely
an




o


nwaittihonoii
warmth


thee face of the olobe to act on the present


motin
rom th


g eth
li
e


b
ehnds


analth enthusiasm ; to catch a sparkf gh


in 1


omi. fire, and o-to run a race with us in pr


noura


roper°f nJhumanity. France had been often nn-
p she wouId a eci by her ambition; he had no doubt butthat


ble


ly stimulated


dictates.
, tae present instance, readily follow its ho-c


thaNtIgear.rGrtenville the Speaker (now Lord Grenville) said lie thought
advantage would be derived to the question, from its




CHOICE OF A SPEAKER.
171789.]16


CHOICE OF A SPEAKER. Prune 8.


being thoroughly discussed, and therefore was peculiarly happy
that Mr. Wilberforce had introduced the grounds of it in distinct
propositions. With regard to our colonies, we were bound, Mr.
Grenville said, to assort our right to prevent our islands from hav-'
ing either directly or indirectly, any farther connection with a
trade which we had thought it our duty to abandon, as unfit to be
carried on. Tout, he said, was, as Mr. Fox had termed it, the
proper tone to assume to all Europe on such a subject.— The
House afterwards sat for sonic days in a committee, to hear the
evidence offered by the petitioners interested in the slave trade ;
and after some progress therein, adjourned the farther considera.
tion of the matter to the next session. The bill brought in by Sir


Dolben, for regulating the transportation of slaves from
Africa to the West India islands was by another act continued
and amended.—In the course of a debate on the zest of May, on
a motion for going into the committee,


Mr. Fox took occasion to observe, that with regard to the.
abolition of the slave trade, he felt no difficult y in saying, that,
without having seen one tittle of evidence, he should have
been for the abolition. With respect to a regulation of the
trade, a detestation of its existence must naturally lead him
to remark, that he knew of no such a thing as a regulation of
robbery or a restriction of murder. There was no medium ;
the legislature must either abolish the trade, or avow their own
criminality.


CHOICE OF A SPEAKER.


June 8.


I_JoRD Sydney having resigned the office of secretary of statefor the home department, the right honourable William
Wyndham Grenville was immediately appointed in his room. This
having occasioned a vacancy in the chair of the House of Commons,
Mr. Henry Addington was proposed for that high office by the
Marquis of Graham, and Sir Gilbert Elliot by Mr. Welbore Ellis.
After Mr. Addington and Sir Gilbert Elliot had addressed the
House,


Mr. Fox rose and observed, that it was scarcely possible for
any liberal mind to avoid feeling concern, when called upon to
give judgment, to be governed by considerations altogether
personal: to him it was peculiarly painful, but, on the pre-
sent occasion, it would be less difficult for him, from the very


Nthe,ust
je two


o' ernytiemenfair, and the very handsome manner in which
the been pleased to speak of each other.
He


v


opportunity of judging for himself of the
abilitieses of the honourable gentleman who had first been named
that day; but all that he heard from others had been much
to his advantage. The noble marquis, in his opinion, had
introduced his motion with a speech. not the most happily
adapted to the occasion; lie knew not whether the noble mar-
quis had said that the late Speaker was placed in a state for
which he was better suited, as a matter of judgment, and
from an idea that it would be proper for his purpose to lower
the situation to which he meant to recommend the honourable
gentleman, in order to induce the House to support his re-
commendation. Mr. Fox added, that he must, on the pre-
sent occasion, give his reasons why he did not think that the
House would act prudently, if they should prefer the honour-
able gentleman over the way to Sir Gilbert Elliot. On such
occasions as the present, the question necessarily became a
question of comparison; as such, in what he should say, he
meant always to consider it, and not-as a question of posi-
tive approbation. Much had been said in favour of the
honourable gentleman over the way, and he believed with
truth. It was contended that he had considerable talents; he
believed that the honourable gentleman had; but all knew
that the honourable baronet had considerable abilities like-
wise. It had been said that the honourable gentleman had
been bred to the law. They were not to be told that Sir
Gilbert Elliot had been bred a lawyer ; in fact, they knew that
the honourable baronet had every advantage which the ho- ,
nourable gentleman possessed. His mildness of temper they
well knew. What, then, was the question, but whether
the House should trust to qualities which they knew, or
whether they shank! rely on the opinion of others as to qua-
lities which they did not know whether they were possessed
or not? What confidence, or what portion of confidence,wfraiesns,tdobe


placed in the opinion of the honourable gentleman's
were questions which lie should beg leave to wave.


Where there was, an equally good opinion given of two gen-
tlemen, the House might feel some difficulty; but, in the pre-sent i


nstance, they could feel- none. The gentlemen over the
way desired the House to rely on what they said in favour ofthe honourable gentleman


• they, on the contrary, who spoke
tino wthhvoatult*ley


of
ott


Perhaps
nomination


Gilbert Elliot, desired the ]Eloise not to trust
The said, but to act upon what the House itself knew.


question therefore was, whether they should take goodqualities by
the their knowledge of them, or from conjecture?


,


o ination of that day might be made merelyVOL. re.




1


IS.


MOTION RESPECTING THE STATE OF [July


as a proof of power in some persons, and a wish to shew the
Confidence of the House in the gentlemen on the other side.
If so, it was a call upon the confidence of the House, which
was by no means justifiable; and when confidence degenerated
into such an arbitrary use of it, it became an abuse. Mr. Fox
declared that he should consider himself as exceedingly unfor-
tunate, were he to be considered as having said any thing which
might be thought disrespectful or uncivil to the honourable
gentleman. He had heard much in his praise, and he be-
lieved it to be true; he only observed, that Sir Gilbert Elliot
was a gentleman, whose talents and qualifications were known
to the House, and in that case they could speak from a well-
grounded confidence ; in the other, only from the most fa-
vourable suppositions.


After the appointment of Mr. Addington to the Chair had been
supported by Mr Pitt, and that of Sir Gilbert Elliot by Mr. Burke,
the House divided on the question, " That Henry Addington do
take the Chair of this House as Speaker."


Teller. Teller.
YEAS, Mr. Robert Smith, zi 5 .—Noes. Mr. Grey, 1 42


So it was resolved in the affirmative.


.e.posla=1.0*.m.M.NsowizMtre•


MR. SHERIDAN'S MOTION FOR A COMMITTEE ON THE STATE
or THE PUBLIC INCOME AND EXPENDITURE.


July 1 0.


rT`HIS day Mr. Sheridan moved, " That a committee be ap-
_a_ pointed to enquire into the state of the public income and


expenditure, the progress actually made in the reduction of the
national debt since the year 178,6, and into the grounds on which
a reduction of the same may be expected in future, and to report
the same, with their observations thereon, to the House; and that
the said committee do consist of Henry Bankes, Esq. Daniel Parker
Coke, Esq. George Dempster, Esq. William Drake, jun. Esq.
William Hussey, Esq. Sir William Lemon, Baronet, James Lowther,
Esq. James Martin, Esq. Mr. Alderman Newman, Edward Phelips,
Esq. Charles Anderson Pelham, Esq. Thomas Stanley, Esq. Sir
George Augustus William Shuckburgh, Baronet, Mr. Alderman
Watson, and the Earl of Wycombe." In the course of a long and
able speech, Mr. Sheridan undertook to prove the four following
propositions : " That the report of the committee, appointed- in
1786, to examine and state the several accounts relating to the
public income and expenditure, and to report the probable amount'.
of the income and expenditure in future, does not appear to


IO


17 89.]
THE PUBLIC INCOITE AND EXPENDITURE.


19


have been founded in filet, nor verified by experiment. z. That,
for the three last years, the expenditure has exceeded the in-
come two millions, and may be expected to do so for three years
to come. 3. That no progress has hitherto been made in the re-
duction of the public debt. 4. That there is no ground for rational
expectation, that any progress can be made without a consider-
able increase of the annual income, or reduction of the expellees."
The report of the committee of 1 786 was defended by Mr. Secre-
tary Grenville, who had been the chairman thereof.


Mr. Fox remarked, that under the conviction of his inabi-
lity to afford the same instruction and entertainment as the
two last honourable gentlemen, he should have remained si-
lent had not the business struck him in a different point of
view from any in which it had hitherto been examined. The
right honourable secretary had argued in a manner that ap-
peared to him to be rather extraordinary. He had said, " I
know I am right, therefore let me deprecate a committee,
where alone it can be proved whether I am right or not, and
I beg you to rely on my assertions." Mr. Fox said, that where
there was the opposition of assertions from different gentlemen
it was extremely difficult how to act, but he could not help
being inclined to rely on the statement of his honourable
friend. He perceived that there were two grounds of diffin.-
ence between the statement of his honourable friend and that
of the right honourable gentleman ; the first of these was, that
his honourable friend had rested his calculations on the aver-
age of three years, and the right honourable secretary had
rested his arguments on an average of two years only. Of
these two he liked an average of three years best, because all
averages were the better the greater the number of years they
included; but it was a curious reason that the right honour-
able gentleman had assigned for omitting the year 1786, it
was because trade had been in a state of stagnation during that
year, on account of the commercial treaty then pending with
France. That was the very reason why the year 1786 should
have been included, for it was admitted that the imports in the
year 1 7 8 7 had risen very considerably. Those imports clearly
were what belonged to the year 1786, and would have been
then made but for the commercial treaty. So that the year
1787 might be said to have in its pocket a considerable sum,
the property of the year 1786. The right honourable secre-
tary had thought proper to observe that he suspected that the
1 00,00o/. for the army would be a permanent establishment.
If so, it made a difference of 200,000/. in addition; because if
the House had voted too,000f. expenditure, the right honour-
able the chancellor of the exchequer ought to have provided
an adequate aid of too,000/. income, and not having done so


C 2




20 MOTION RESPECTING THE STATE OF [July To.


it was an addition to the national debt of 200,000/. in time of
peace.


Mr. Fox took notice that the right honourable secretary had
said, that the day was not vet come when the estimate of ex-
penditure was to be looked for as the level of the peace esta-
blishment, nor would it arrive before the year 1791; and there-
fore the addition of I oo,ocol. for the army was not to be found
fault with. Was it meant, then, that the national debt was to be
loaded as much as gentlemen on the other side pleased in the
interim ? The definitive treaty of peace, he believed, was signed
in 1783, and in the interim, between the conclusion of the
peace and four years following it, were we to borrow what we
pleased ? He desired to know if that was so understood?
There was A great difficulty in proving these expences to be
only temporary, and he shrewdly suspected that they would
prove permanent.


The argument of the right honourable secretary, relative to
the cause of the encrease of the army, had been fallacious. Ile
had asked, if we entered into foreign alliances ought they not
to be enabled to keep faith with their allies? Most undoubt-
edly they ought ; but the I oc,000/. was not wanted on account
of the Hessian treaty ; it was for the sending additional troops
to India and the \Vest India islands. Besides, that was, he
believed, the first time that eaer it was deemed necessary to
increase, the army on account of foreign alliances. A con-
trary doctrine had ever prevailed; the stronger your strength
by alliance, the less the necessity for a large army. Every
man knew that alliances were less likely to increase the army
than the navy. But he chiefly disliked the fallacy of ministers,
in affecting that they had a surplus over and above their es-
tablishments. Had they come down to that House in 1786,
and said, to use a vulgar phrase, " We can barely make both
ends meet, and have not enough for surplus, therefore we can-
not yet proceed to provide for paying off the national debt,"
he should have applauded their conduct, and have answered„
that they thought too lowly of the resources of the country,
and could and might, by imposing additional burthens on the
people, which it was their ditty to do, furnish a surplus. Then
their conduct would have been manly and honest.


The right honourable secretary had observed that his ho-
nourable friend had ridiculed the extraordinary resources of
the preceding session. Now, his honourable friend, he be-
lieved, had onl y ridiculed such of them as were extravagantly
disproportidned to the object which they were proposed to
meet. He certainly had not ridiculed them all. He did not,
for instance, ridicule lotteries, and had never disputed the,
fact, that four lotteries at 5 o,00ck profit to government,


1789.] THE PUBLIC INCOME AND EXPENDITURE.
2 t


would yield 600,000/. in four years. He had, indeed, ar-
raigned lotteries as a source of revenue, unless in cases of great


and condemned them as destructive to the morals
integrity of the people. Mr. Fox observed that this was


aeoxiittier-°'eci i nf'tee3the very few points in which he differed from his ho-
nourable friend. He was not yet prepared wholly to object to
lotteries as a means of revenue, and an object of taxation.
He repeated, that it was the fallacy of the arguments of gen-
tlemen on the other side that he complained of, since, in re-
spect to the miscellaneous services, every act of administration
sheaved that they were likely to be increased rather than
reduced.


Mr.. Fox spoke again of the amazing increase of the navy
debt, and remarked that the right honourable secretary had
said, " We have a fine navy, and no man can speak of the
expence with regret and sorrow." No man doubted it, but
it went not in the least to the argument. What they had all
heard, he hoped, would make that House a little more cau-
tious and doubtful how they relied too implicitly on the state-
ments of' ministers in future. Without meaning to dilate on
what had fallen from his honourable friend, he declared that of
all the admirable things which he had heard him say in that'
House, none had excited his admiration more than some of
his observations upon the operation of the national debt on the
constitution. He asked, was the right honourable secretary
ready to answer his honourable friend's question on 'the sub-
ject of the omission of new taxes ? The minister who did not
consider unforeseen expences as a great part of his expenditure
would be much deceived. Mr. Fox spoke of the debts, and
particularly of that due to the American loyalists, who had
every claim to their generosity and their justice. They held
national bonds upon the good faith of parliament, and must
be satisfied. With regard to the million borrowed, that was
an additional annuity, and so far an addition to the debt, for,
in fact, we owed no capital but only annuities.


Mr. Fox pressed the House to go to a committee with the
accounts, in order to decide what was the income, what the
expenditure, what the state of the debt. It had been
with that of France!?


u compare the situation of this countryI
we might take w,


• •


bHeaven forbid that he should ! But




tp
be


of
de th


ei
ysituation


of France, not to de-lu
the migh


this country as to the state of their finances.It


s


truel,uth dit with regard to the finances of France
were deluded as to millions, when this countrycould only)




be deluded as to thousands. A committee wouldremovell•love
thereall doubts, and put an end to error. He believedthat


some who heard him who would rather have
c3




IP


22 TOBACCO EXCISE BILL. [July 15. 1789.] TOBACCO EXCISE BILL. 23
the constitution of this country joined to the finances of France,
than the constitution of France joined to the finances of this
country. Let us take warning by what was to happen there !
The ruined finances of France might produce the freedom of
France ! Let us take care that the abuses of our public credit
did not produce the ruin of our constitution, and entail sla-
very upon us ! Their financial deceit was engrafted on arbi-
trary power ; our public credit on our free constitution. In
France it was the deformed son of an accursed parent who
would restore freedom by committing parricide.


The motion was negatived without a division.


TOBACCO EXCISE BILL.


dilly 15.


ON the 16th of June, Mr. Pitt, pursuan.t to a notice he hadgiven upon the opening of the budget, submitted to the
House his plan for transferring the duties on tobacco from the
customs to the excise. Tobacco being a commodity of general
consumption, might, he said, be rendered a productive source of
revenue, but under the present regulations and duties was an arti-
cle of smuggling, and indeed the principal subject of contraband
trade, since the late regulations concerning tea, wines, and spi-
rits. It appeared on inquiry, that one half of the tobacco con-
sumed in the kingdom was smuggled, and that the revenue was
defrauded by this means to the amount of nearly 3oe,ceol. To
remedy this evil the roost effectual means would be to subject the
greater part of the duty on tobacco to the survey of excise : the
peculiar benefit of this change in the mode of collection, had been
very clearly exemplified in the article of wine : the manufacturers
would no doubt make objections to the present proposition, as the
dealers in wine had done respecting the change in the duties upon
their merchanclize : but though they were to be heard with can-
dour, assertions affecting their own interests were to be scruti-
nized with strictness, and to be no farther admitted than they were
supported with collateral proof. Mr. Pitt obtained leave to bring
in the bill. The plan, however, occasioned a general alarm
amongst the manufacturers of tobacco, and petitions were pre-
sented against it from various quarters. On the report of the bill
being brought up, on the 15th of July, a clause was offered to be
added to the bill, by Sir Watkin Lewes, declaring, " that persons
aggrieved by a determination of the commissioners of excise, or
justices of the peace, may bring an action of trespass against such"
commissioners or justices, in which action the condemnation or


conviction shall not be pleaded in bar, or in abatement, or given
in evidence on the trial of such action, but that such action shall
he tried as if no such condemnation or conviction had been made."
Upon this occasion,


Mr. Fox remarked, that he felt it impossible to discover,
without concern, that many persons, blinded by a species of
political phrenzy, were thrown into so superstitious a reve-
rence for the revenue, that they would sacrifice every point
for such an object. If it were true, that all the rigour of the
excise laws was necessary for the protection of the revenue,
then the bill as it stood was to be justified, admitting, what
he never could agree to, its principle to be right ; but if it
was true, that trial by jury could be allowed without injury to
the revenue, how could there be a doubt but that it ought at
least to be resorted to as an experiment? The tobacco manu-
facturers not having the excise laws applied to them before,
had every right and claim of justice to the utmost latitude of
legislative indulgence. Their case was distinct and different
from that of other trades long since subjected to excise laws.
If it failed of the wished-for effect, and the excise was defeated
of its object, the security of the revenue, and it should be
found that the failure was owing to the fraudulent conduct of
the manufacturers of tobacco and snuff, then they would only
deprive them of their birth-rights, which ought never to be
clone but in cases of the most urgent necessity. As to the mul-
tiplicity of causes, men who thought that they should not get
redress, were not likely to apply for justice. But it was a
matter which would be brought to a question of fact, and if
there should arise a multiplicity of causes, it would, doubtless,
be at the beginning. As to the question, whether the tobacco
manuliicturers merited any particular indulgence; undoubt-
edly, they did not merit any particular indulgence ; they did
not claim it; but surely, they did not merit any particular
hardships. When they talked in that House, day after day,
of the birth-rights of Englishmen, for which they had shed
their blood, and were ready to shed it again, did they mean
nothing but empty sounds ? The lateness of the session, the
scanty attendance of members, and the impossibility of his
doing any good, Mr. Fox said, had been his reasons hitherto
for not troubling the House with any remarks on the subject;
but he could wish gentlemen to consider, that the extension
of the excise laws was a very important object, and that
bringing such a measure forward at that time of the year,
when it could not be properly discussed, betrayed a mostinexcusable indifference for the rights and liberties of their
countrymen.


ca




'ii


24 TOBACCO EXCISE BILL. [July 15. 1789.] TOBACCO EXCISE BILL. 25
On a division, the clause was negatived by a majority of 65 to


16. On the motion for engrossing the bill, Mr. Alderman Wat-
son said that the present was the stage of the bill at which he
should make his stand, that he had opposed it upon its principle
and in detail, but that he had not harassed it with a captious oppo-
sition. Mr. Sheridan could have wished that gentlemen had con-
tented themselves with making their opposition to the bill in the
manner they thought best, without obliquely conveying reflexions
on the conduct of those who had acted differently. Mr. Henry
Thornton said, that being an enemy to the bill, he had often la- •
mented that Mr. Fox and many other of his friends who were equally
adverse, had not come down to the House upon so popular, as well
as proper, an occasion, but had delayed their opposition so long,
that there was now no hope of its being eTectual. On the day the
business was first opened to the House, the members for the me-
tropolis and its neighbourhood were all absent, except himself, at
the commemoration of the repeal of the shop tax, and he had also
been under a considerable dilemma, whether to obey the request of
some of his constituents, who called his attention to the tobacco
bill, or the request of others, who invited him at the same time to
the said commemoration.


Mr. Fox remarked, that the honourable gentleman Lad
talked of the best mode of opposing a measure ; but, for his
part, he thought it was the duty of every man to oppose
what he thought fit to be opposed, in the manner in which
he conceived his opposition could be most effectually applied.
He did riot wonder at what his honourable friend (Mr. Sheri-
dan) had said, when the honourable gentlemen behind him
had declared that they took their stand there, and did not
approve of harassing the bill, by hanging on it perpetually,
not deeming it liberal to oppose a measure in every stage.
There certainly was a degree of oblique censure on the conduct
of other gentlemen conveyed in such observations. Perhaps,
like himself; some of the gentlemen, Mr. Fox said, had not
attended much to the business. He had not, he owned, be-
cause from the sort of manner in which the first mention of the
bill had been received, he saw clearly that little effectual oppo-
sition could be made against it. He agreed, notwithstanding,
that every man should attend to the business throughout,
whenever there was a prospect of its being crowned with suc-
cess, and when there was a probability of such being the effect,
perhaps harassing a measure, by continued opposition in
every stage of it, was the most likely way of putting an end to
and defeating a bad measure. If the measure did not prove
either bad, or so bad as to call fbr determined opposition,
such a mode of opposing it was certainly not necessary.


There was another point which called for observation, and
that was, what the honourable gentleman who spoke Last had
said of the meeting in commemoration of the repeal of the


shop tax. He did not expect that that honourable gentleman,
of all men, would have attempted to ridicule the repeal
of the shop tax, because the honourable gentleman had
more than once professed himself to be a sincere well-wisher to
that measure. Perseverance, the honourable gentleman had
said, would accomplish great things, and the strength and
effect of perseverance was never more fully seen than on that
occasion. The repeal of the shop tax was a fit subject of com-
memoration, because it was the triumph of reason and just
argument over ignorance and obstinacy. It was also worthy
of commemoration, in as much as it proved to that House,
that a blind confidence ought not always to be placed in mi-
nisters, since the proposers of the shop tax had been at length
obliged to confess, that the reasons assigned for the propriety
of its repeal were founded in truth, and that the grounds on
which the proposers of it had maintained and defended it, were
erroneous and delusive.


With regard to the popular act of opposing the present bill,
which the honourable gentleman who spoke last had sarcasti-
cally imputed as the cause of his attendance that day, Mr. Fox
denied that his attendance was occasioned by any desire of
seizing on that opportunity of retaining popularity. In fact,
if any such weak and idle motive could influence his public
conduct, on any occasion, that was an unseasonable moment
tin- its exercise ; because, so till . from opposition to the Mea-
sure being popular, he had every reason to believe, that it
unfortunately happened that the reverse was the fact, and that
the people of this country were so changed in their nature,
and so altered in their feelings, that they had become, as it
were, enamoured of the collectors of taxes, especially under
the excise laws, and that they looked up with eagerness and
with gratification, to invite the most wanton exercise of power;
and, as if nauseated with the sweets of liberty, were anxious
to wear the badge of slavery and of despotism.


As to his not having attended the bill more closely, lie had
already stated, that he had not clone so, because he plainly
saw, that all opposition would be fruitless ; but surely, the
honourable gentleman, and other gentlemen of the same de-
scription, had no right to expect on every occasion, when
the interests of their constituents, or some personal mo-
tive to themselves, induced them to wish the measure of the
minister opposed, that he, and those who acted with him,
would be at their command, and ready to act as perpetual ad-
versaries of the minister and his measures, whether those mea-
sures should appear to them to be well or ill founded ! It
should seem as if the honourable gentleman, and those whop
ursued the same general political line of conduct, but who,




26 TOBACCO EXCISE BILL. [July IS%


nevertheless, opposed the present bill, considered opposition as
the standing counsel against the crown in that House, ever to
be resorted to in the moments of difficulty, and therefore as
necessary to exist as administration. What was this but
laughing at them ? What was it but saying, " We have put
you into the most humiliating situation ; you shall have no
share of the power, no share of the honours, or emoluments
of office ; but we expect to command your public services, to
profit by whatever abilities you may possess, to be joined by
you and your friends, whenever we want the assistance of
either." Was it not, in other words, saying, " We have
raised one man to a degree of power which makes all opposi-
tion useless. By our false clamours against you, and our delu-
sions respecting him,- we have taught the public to look up to
him as something more than man ; hence his measures, how-
ever mischievous, however fatal, are scarcely to be resisted :
but remember, we look to you to watch him. Do you take
care that he does no mischief in his situation. It is your of-
fice to sound the alarm, when danger lurks beneath a plausi-
ble pretext ; and to oppose yourselves to the occasion, so that
the evil may be in time averted." Having deprived them of
the means of resistance with any hopes of success, by putting
them into so useless a. situation, to call upon them to oppose,
to check and to stop the minister's measures, was neither more
nor less than directly laughing in their faces, and adding in-
suit to injury.


Mr. Fox declared that he was one who differed much from
an honourable alderman behind him, who had said that he
thought that this bill was following former examples. Under
no administration had the excise been extended in the man-
ner that it had been under the present. He had seen the fus-
tian manufacture attempted to be put under the excise, but he
thanked Heaven that the attempt had proved abortive.
When he saw the wines put under the excise, he had then op-
posed it, because he would oppose every extension of the ex-
cise laws, being convinced that they were a system of laws
under which no freeman ought to live, as they were utterly
incompatible with a free constitution. The excise upon wines
had been said to have proved successful : if they had proved
ever so successful, still he should retain his opinion against
that measure. But he did not admit that the scheme respect-
ing wines had been fairly tried, or that its apparent success
was imputable to the articles being under excise laws.
The French commercial treaty had taken place soon after the
wines were put under the excise laws, and the increase of the
consumption of wines, and the wine duty revenue, might as
properly be ascribed to the effects of the commercial treaty, as


s789.]


TOBACCO EXCISE BILL. 27


to the effects of the application of excise laws to the article.
But his objections were founded in other notions than a mere
view of the revenue. He was aware that, with some men, an
increase of revenue outweighed every other consideration.
He thought far differently ; it was the probable success of the
application of the excise *laws to tobacco which he deprecated,
because he considered a farther extension of those laws, as an
additional symptom that, by degrees, all our trade would be
subjected to the excise laws, and our liberties and our consti-
tution, hitherto regarded as inestimable, and boasted of re-
peatedly as beyond all price, would fall a sacrifice to revenue.


However old fashioned the idea might be, he gloried in
saying, that if the excise on tobacco would bring in half a
million a year, he would oppose it. It was the principle of
extension of the excise laws which he resisted ; and in doing
so, he considered the increase of revenue as no object. He
declared that he rather took the opportunity of saying this, •
because it might be objected against him, that, as he, the other
day, had contended, that our revenues fell short of our ex-
penditure, and that means for their increase ought to be re-
sorted to, he of all men ought not to oppose the present bill,
which was one of those means which, in the consideration of the
present ministers, was deemed most likely to prove effectual.
He did, nevertheless, resist the bill, because he considered
the extension of the excise laws as undermining the founda-
tion of our constitution with a view to raise the superstructure,
which would be a sacrifice that no friend to his country ought
to consent to make. But so far from this bill answering its
end and producing a large encrease of revenue, he had heard
persons, who might be supposed best to know the subject, say, -
that the bill would produce a contrary effect, and that the
trade would fall in consequence. He reasoned upon the dan-
gerous effect of thus extending the excise laws, and contended,
that it manifested a forgetfulness of those blessings, which it
was so much our habit to boast of as an enjoyment beyond the
reach of most other nations. It seemed as if liberty and a free


were,coolii.sdtsitouitiiloynfill'etro decoratee nerey. talked of and not felt ; as if th •
theory, but no longer


otaLe a speech in parliament—a beautiful
compatible with practice, or fit for en-jwsoiemsneenotfht.iotu


own


b


It was the more wonderful that this apathy to a


nations,


advantages should take place at a period


.


this country was enlightened almost beyond all other
when


distinguished, not only for the exten-Si


not only
only for


r le


the
it was only for the .spreadh c of literature,


not
on




foi
•eintscesuperior n


success and improvement of the fine arts,


l toleration,
advances in history, philosophy, andUniversal
but for all that was great and glorious,




28 TOBACCO EXCISE BILL.


[July 15.
useful and ornamental, in man. That, at such a moment, we
should be so blind to our own advantage, so madly bent on
sacrificing the solid and substantial blessings we enjoyed, was
most astonishing ; but nothing could be more certain, than
that if we went on extending the excise laws in the manner we
had lately done, it would be a preference of revenue to the
constitution of the country.


When this country ceased to be- free, the people would
cease to be industrious, and consequently cease to be wealthy,
and when the nation ceased to be wealthy, it would cease to
be powerful. The real source of revenue was, he contended,
the riches of the people; but if the excise laws were made ge-
neral, all opportunity of acquiring wealth would be at an end.
The first attempt at the introduction of the excise laws had
been made in the time of Sir Robert Walpole's administra-
tion. Sir Robert Walpole, he thought, had been treated
with less respect than he deserved ; but it was much easier to
load the memory of a dead minister with calumny than
to traduce a living minister. Sir Robert Walpole, all
circumstances considered, and allowing for the foibles to
which all mankind were liable, had, in his opinion, been a
wise minister for this country. In his time, the debt of
country had increased to a size alarming to the politicians of
that day. The general language was, that the minister
ought to resort to means of encreasing the revenue. Sir Ro-
bert Walpole had listened to the advice of those about him,
and had proposed an excise scheme to that House. The
consequences were well known, and it was a proof of Sir
Robert Walpole's wisdom that he had relinquished the
scheme. The next excise heard of; was in the administration
of the Earl of Bute. At that time, an attempt was made •
to carry an excise on cyder ; but it was clamorously resisted.
There had been a distinction taken, and it was said, excising
cyder was bringing the excise into a private gentleman's
house, whereas an excise on a particular trade was very dif-
ferent. Mr. Fox declared that he saw no force in the dis-
tinction. If excise was inadmissible in the one instance, it
was not less so in the other. The shop of the trader was as
much his castle as the dwelling of the private gentleman.
He was not one :of those who thought none useful but such
as, by arts and arms, by their military services by sea and,. •
land, and by commerce and manufactures, conduced to the
public wealth and revenue; the country gentlemen, or, in
fact, the true nobility of the kingdom were useful likewise;
but he could perceive no reason why those who of necessity
were deprived of the trial by jury, that glorious mode of,.
trial which they ceased not every day to praise, while they


1789.]


TOBACCO EXCISE BILL. 29


were daily taking it way — (he meant the navy and army) —
and those employed in manufacture and trade, should be ex-
cluded the benefit of a trial by jury and the enjoyment.of
that benefit be left solely to the country gentlemen and the
idle. The prosperity of this country and its wealth and
commerce depended on its constitution and its freedom, and
to confine liberty to the enjoyment of those who were com-
paratively idle, was unjust, absurd, and preposterous. They
had no fair grounds whereby to calculate the probable pro-
duce of the scheme of applying the excise laws to tobacco.
Might not the truth be, that tobacco being such a good ar-
ticle for taxation, as he confessed it was, had been pushed
too far, and taxed beyond what it could bear? All evils
were solicited by our being habituated to them : and if ex-
cise laws were suffered tamely to be applied to one trade,
they would soon be applied to another. He ascribed this to
the apathy of the people in general, when the excise laws
were applied in any one instance. The tobacco manufac-
turers, when they entered upon the trade, little expected
this measure ; and, perhaps, from the encouragement given
in Sir Robert Walpole's time, they thought tobacco the last
article which would be put under the excise. Other traders,
who possibly were at present as little aware, or in expecta-
tion of being subjected to the excise laws, would, he had no
doubt, be soon called upon to stand in a similar situation.
He asked, if there was any man acquainted with the freedom
of the constitution, who did not think the excise laws more
harsh and oppressive than could be borne ? He declared,
therefore, that he came clown that day, not so much with
any great hope of successfully opposing the bill, as with a
view to state his opinions on the subject, and to enter his
general protest against a scheme, which he completely dis-
approved. If, in a country where every trade could see its
own danger by what happened to another, they did not feel
it as a common cause, and join in resistance whenever the
excise laws were attempted against any one article of manufac-
ture, they gave but bad symptoms of their hearts, or their
understandings. If the tobacconist, when he saw the wine
merchant taxed, and put under excise laws, stood by and
said to himself; " Let the excise go to the wine merchant
so that I am free," he acted foolishly, and scarcely deserved
to be assisted, when the case should become his own. The
wine merchant, in like manner, might say the same of the
tobacconist and of the country gentleman, whereas it was
now proved, that the oppression of the excise laws would fall
upon both. Those who would not assist others, must not
expect to be assisted themselves in the hour of danger.




;o TOBACCO EXCISE BILL. [July s,


Mr. Fox expatiated on the preference due to regulations in
regard to old taxes, rather than to new taxes, which latter
all feared, because they knew not on whom they would fall;
but the present regulation, he continued, would not answer,
and when he said so, he declared it to be his belief, not ori-
ginating in any wish for popularity. The bill seemed little
to interest the public in general, and if parliament would
not attend their duty, and if they who were most interested
in the subject had abandoned it, he saw no prospect of stem-
ming the tide, and recalling them to a clue sense of their own
interest ; but, standing as we did, the first country for litera-
ture, for science, and for all which could improve and adorn
mankind, that the sources of those enjoyments should - be so
forgotten must mortify every man who admired the freedom
of our constitution, and the equality of our laws.


In reply to some remarks which fell from Mr. Secretary
Grenville,


Mr. Fox expressed his firm belief that it would be admitted
on all hands, that he did not usually say one single syllable
against the right honourable the chancellor of the exchequer,
in his absence, which he was not perfectly ready to repeat
in his presence. In fact, he had not, that he recollected,
made any personal attack on the minister, but on the present
administration, of whom he should always speak as he thought.
The right honourable secretary had asked, was he ready to
give up the six millions of revenue at present under the excise
laws, and to push the nation to bankruptcy, by which our
liberties and constitution must be destroyed ? Most certainly
not. He complained of this bill as an additional extension
of the excise laws, and he certainly would oppose every
attempt to extend them farther. But was that like declar-
ing himself ready to abandon the six millions of revenue col-
lected under the excise laws? He was not for pushing any
argument, whether of revenue or politics, to an extreme ;
and had he been in parliament when the first excise law
which passed was in agitation, he should have firmly opposed
it. He understood the right honourable secretary to have
said, that he had declared a preference of new taxes over
new regulations. He had declared no such thing. He pre-
ferred new regulations to new taxes, generally speaking; but
it did not follow, that he was bound to approve of all new
regulations. He had only said that he should have pre-
ferred a new tax to the new regulation now proposed. As
to there being no tobacconist, who was an honest man and,
a fair trader, who did not approve of the measure, he knew


1789*] TOBACCO EXCISE BILL. ,)


the reverse to be the fact ; he knew, if what lie heard from
those without doors who were most likely to be well informed,
was to be relied on, that there was no one tobacconist in


kingdomthe for and therefore, according to the right
honourablec er it;tary's argument, there was not one holiest


s e


tobacconist.


Mr. Dundas said it was now clear from Mr. Fox's explanation,
that he did not object to the excise laws in general, under which
the country derived six millions of revenue, but merely to the
present extension of the excise laws to the article of tobacco.


Mr. Fox answered, that if he could draw any clear con-
clusion from such perpleed and novel modes of arguing.,
he should maintain, that the right honourable and learned
gentleman had as much understated him, as the other right
honourable gentleman had overstated him. He was against
the excise laws, unless two things could be proved to -)him ;
first, that there existed an adequate and urgent necessity for
extending the excise laws, and secondly, that they could be
extended without oppression and harshness to the subject.
Those who contended that abolishing the excise laws alto-
gether would create a national bankruptcy, asserted more
than the case required, because other means could surely be
found for raising the money. As to the right honourable and
learned gentleman's saying that he called the chancellor of
the exchequer the idol of his country, what he said he would
say still, that the right honourable gentleman was the instru-
ment of a victorious party. With regard to himself, Mr.
Fox observed, he had been for twenty years in opposition,
with some few exceptions, and had perceived that the gene-
ral cry was, that opposition opposed every measure, right
or wrong ; but the right honourable and learned gentleman
seemed to think it necessary that they should come down, day
after day, to watch the measures of the minister; a duty
which he did not think quite so requisite, when business came
on at a period of the session, when it was vain to resist.
With regard to its not being right that opposition should
propose taxes, he had ever maintained that doctrine, because
taxes ought only to be proposed by those who had the finances
under their immediate care, and must best know how far any
proposition which they made, was fit and practicable. That
was, undoubtedly, his general doctrine; but his conduct, in


life
particular, oncehad in been


his
an exception to his own rule; for heh


s


titute, though ns e opposed a tax, without suggesting
some other mode of raising the money. In the present case,
for want of preparation, he was not ready to propose a sub-


ugh he declared himself adverse to the regulatioru




32 ARMY ESTIMATES.— FRENCH REVOLUTION, &c. [Feb. S.
There were other modes of raising the money, however,
and some of them extraordinarily simple, which had, he
understood, been proposed to ministers ; one was reducing
the duty, which would at least put an end to the frauds
practised in the article of tobacco, if it did not make good
the deficiency of the revenue. The right honourable gen-
tleman, Mr. Fox observed, had referred to the debate of
Friday ; in regard to that, he must observe — [He was called
to order from the Chair.] In explanation, Mr. Fox said, that
if one gentleman was suffered to allude to a former debate,
he ought to have stated it as it happened, and not as it did
not happen. All he wished to remark was, that not only
with respect to the increase of the army, but, in other in-
stances, he had opposed expence, and tried to enforce eco-
nomy, the surest means of aiding the revenue.


The House divided: Yeas 7o: Noes 20.


ARMY ESTIMATES. — FRENCH REVOLUTION. — DIFFERENCE
OF OPINION BETWEEN MR. Fox AND MR. BURKE.


February 5 . 1790.


'THE session was opened on the 2 ist of January, and on the1 5th of February the army estimates were brought forward by
Sir George Young, the secretary at war. The estimates were
nearly the same with those of the preceding year, and were not
voted without some objections from the side of opposition. It was
observed by Sir Grey Cooper, Mr. Marsham, and others, that eight
years of peace had elapsed, and that the military estimates were
not yet reduced even to the peace establishment of 1775, though
the committee of finance which sat in the year 1786, had pre-
sumed upon a still greater reduction. That there was nothing in
the actual situation of affairs that called for this extraordinary
military force : but on the contrary, that his majesty had assured
them of the pacific disposition of all the foreign powers ; that
France, our ancient rival and enemy, in consequence of her in-
ternal disturbances, would probably be disabled from giving us any
molestation for a long course of years ; and, lastly, that the alli-
ances we had made, and the subsidiary treaties we had entered
into on the continent, inasmuch as they multiplied the chances
of our being involved in war, were proportionably mischievous, if
they did not enable us to reduce our expences in time of peace.
To these arguments it was answered in general by Mr. Secretary
Grenville and Mr. Pitt, that though there was no reason at present
to apprehend that we should be engaged in hostilities, with any


1790.] ARMY ESTIMATES — FRENCH REVOLUTION, &C. 33


foreign power; yet the unsettled state of Europe, and the internal
situation of several parts of it, made it necessary for us to keep
ourselves in such a state, as might enable us to act with vigour and
effect, if occasion should require. That it was a preposterous
economy to tempt an attack by our weakness, and for a miserable
present saving to hazard a great future expellee. That our foreign
alliances, which had been approved of by all parties as necessary
for the preservation of that balance of power in Europe, upon
which the permanence of its tranquillity depended, could only be
rendered effbetual for that purpose, by our being able to support
them with an adequate force; and, lastly, that it would be found,
upon an examination of the detail of all our military establishments,
that they could not, with common prudence, be reduced to a nar-
rower scale. — In the course of the debate,


Mr. Fox said, he perfectly agreed with the right honourable
the chancellor of the exchequer, that the House were greatly
indebted to his honourable friend (Mr. Marsham) for having,
that day, introduced a discussion of the army estimates. He
also agreed with him, that this might not be the period fit for
the reduction of taxes. However harsh such an opinion might
sound in the ears of their constituents ; however irksome and
unpleasant it might be for gentlemen in office to broach it ;
and however unpopular and disadvantageous it might be for
men in similar situations with himself to avow it; yet he
made no scruple to declare it at his opinion, that great and
heavy as the public burdens were, and however the necessity
of their continuance might be a matter of lamentation, this
was not the time to diminish them by a reduction of taxes.
Every honest man, every lover of his country, every admirer
of the constitution, and every one who had made political
concerns the subject of observation and study, must unite
with him in opinion, that the House ought ever to regard as
sacred these two grand objects—the preservation of our ex-
cellent constitution, mid the support of our national credit.
But, while it was the indispensable duty of the House to ac-
quaint their constituents, that for the purpose of preserving
the constitution and our national credit, there might even be
a necessity of imposing additional burdens upon them, care
ought to be taken that no unnecessary addition to the publicb
burdens should be tolerated ; that no undue advantage should
be taken of the spirit and resolution of the people to support
the necessary exigencies of the state, to do any thing under
colour of defence, or of revenue, to the prejudice of the eco-
nomy or the constitution of the country. He had never
thought it expedient to make the internal circumstances of


bother nations the subject of much conversation in that House;ut if there ever could be a period in which he should be less -yin. IV.




1790.] ARMY ESTIMATES--FRENCH REVOLUTION, &C.
35


Mr. Fox observed, that when the subject was agitated two
years ago though he had the misfortune to vote in a mino-
rity, yet his sentiments were still the same—that the increase
of the army was wrong. His opinion, indeed, had been but
the more confirmed and strengthened in proportion to the
time that had elapsed ; at the time, however, he did not state
his sentiments in very strong terms, as there might be many
circumstances in the knowledge of his majesty's ministers that
called fir an augmentation with which he could not possibly
be acquainted. But these were matters connected immediately
with the subject of which the right honourable gentleman had
taken no notice; namely, the subsidiary treaties and alliances
with foreign powers. We had formed an alliance with the


cStates-general and the King of Prussia, of which he highly
approved ; as they must afford us assistance in the hour of
extremity, and add to our reputation of strength. The sub-
sidy to Hesse Cassel ought to be regarded as an additional
supply for the army ; and, indeed, every foreign alliance
should be considered as an indirect augmentation ofthe army.
These treaties, therefore, lie conceived, ought to have lessened
the expence of our peace-establishments. But he was told,
that these treaties might excite the envy and rouse the ambi-
tion of other powers to combine against us; that the neces-
sary consequence, therefore, ought to be the augmentation of
our force. These arguments he did not then think very ap-
plicable ; but now having had the sanction of time, and
stood the test of experience, and no unfriendly combinations
having been formed against us, ought we not rather to ex-
pect a reduction, than an augmentation, of our military
establishment ?


He would ask, were we not now less liable to an attack
than in the year 1787, when an increase of military force was
thought expedient for the defence of the West Indies? There
might, indeed, then have existed some ground for apprehen-
sion of danger, known only to his majesty's ministers, which
no man differently situated could come at; and so much
credit was always due to the servants of the crown, who,
'from their official situation, might obtain intelligence a foreign
transactions, which might render an augmentation of military
force in the West Indies at the time, a prudent and politic
measure, for the majority of the House to adopt. But


be e


whatever might have been the danger then to be appre-
hended,
calculated


it Navtaedsn.
ow
.


certainly diminished in a degree hardly


* Sec speech oa the augmentation of the land forces, vol, kit 335W
2


3 4 ARM Y. ESTIMATES — FRENCH REVOLUTION, &c. [Feb. .5.


jealous of an increase of the army, from any danger to be
apprehended to the constitution, the present was that precise
period. The example of a neighbouring nation had proved,
that former imputations on armies were unfounded calum-
nies; and it was now universally known throughout all
Europe, that a man, by becoming a soldier, did not cease to be
a citizen.


It was not, therefore, in a constitutional point of view that
he dreaded the increase of the army, but on the ground of
economy. That this country had escaped the tumults and dis-
tractions in which other countries were involved, might be
imputed to our having passed the ordeal, and our being long
in possession of what other countries were now laudably con-
tending for. We had long enjoyed the advantages of a free
and happy constitution, and could, therefore, not be exposed
to the difficulties arising from the necessity of framing a new
one. Having stood clear in point of finance, and preserved
our credit entire, we could not be exposed to the difficulties
arising from a breach of faith, or from public bankruptcy..
The first object of our attention, therefore, ought to be, the
preservation of our constitution; on which alone depended the
security, happiness, and repose of this country. The next
object to which our attention ought to be directed, was the
preservation of our credit, which was principally supported
by a due regard to matters of economy and finance. To
consult economy, we must look for reductions in some depart-
ment of our public expenditure; and in no branch did it ap-
pear to him so practicable, as in the army-establishment. But
the augmentation of the army, it was said, had undergone
the fullest discussion and decision of the House. This he
begged leave to controvert. The question was undoubtedly
debated, and carried by a considerable majority; but though
the augmentation of our military force was then agreed to, it
was not considered as a permanent peace-establishment of thi:
country, but a temporary establishment, to answer the exi-
gency of the occasion, from a confidence in the judgment of
the right honourable the chancellor of the. exchequer of its
indispensable necessity. That many votes were given in favour
of the measure, on this express ground, must be in the recol-
lection of the House : by this observation, however, lie did
not mean to insinuate, that the right honourable gentleman
had misled the majority into that opinion ; for he was well
aware, that at that time the chancellor of the exchequer had
held a different language from that just stated to have been
that of many members who then voted for the military aug-
mentation in question.




36 ARMY ESTIMATES — FRENCH REVOLUTION, &c. [Feb. 5.


The concern expressed in the speech from the throne, at
the events that had taken place in Europe, did honour to
his majesty; but on receiving those events, and estimating
their probable consequences, did there appear any greater
likelihood of an attack to be made on this country, than be-
fore the events in question took place ? Was it at all pro-
bable, that France, while her whole attention was occupied
by so important an object. as the arrangement and formation
of her constitution, would attack our West India islands ?
The necessity, therefore, which had been urged of keep-
ing up so large and expensive a military establishment in that
quarter of the globe, must be founded in idle chimeras and
vain pretences. The new form which the government of
France was likely to assume, he was persuaded, would render
her a better neighbour, and less disposed to hostility, than
when she was subject to the cabal and intrigues of ambitious
and interested statesmen. From Spain we bad little to fear,
when not impelled by the force of the family-compact. From
what quarter, then, were we apprehensive of danger to our
West India possessions? Every circumstance tended to con-
firm the certainty of greater safety to the West Indies at this
time than at any other period ; and consequently a reduction
of our military establishment there might now have been ex-
pected. But he was told, that each island must have such a
force, in time of peace, as might be sufficient to defend it in
time of war. To this plan he always objected; because he
firmly believed it impracticable ; but he particularly corn-.
plained that the plan had never been explained in. detail; nor
had it ever been specified what number of troops was requi-
site for the defence of each island. To such an explanation,
in his opinion, the House was now entitled. Gentlemen ought
also to attend to the continued augmentation of the troops in
the East Indies.; and consider that when they voted this in-
creased army estimate, they had not voted the whole expellee ;
because the amount of the extraordinaries must increase in a
much greater proportion. What the reasons were which
induced his majesty's ministers to continue the increased
establishment he could not say ; nor was he at all desirous of
hearing what they might think it their duty to conceal.


From all that appeared to him in the situation of the coun-
try, and in the general state of Europe, he had no difficulty in
saying that the present was the proper time for reducing the
army. With regard. to the right honourable gentleman's
comparative statement of the army-establishment, which, he
contended, was nearly the same now as it was at the time pre-
ceding the last war, Mr. Fox observed, that the comparison
was inaccurate, unless the expellee of the subsidiary treaties.


*790.] ARMY ESTIMATES—FRENCH REVOLUTION, &c. 37


were included ; and that the whole argument, therefore, must
be fallacious. If the establishment proposed in 1783 was
right, the present was undoubtedly wrong. He should only
say, that the most pardonable error a minister of this country
might perhaps commit, was to make the peace-establishment
of the army lower than it ought to be. With regard to the
increase of the garrison et Gibraltar, he was not inclined to
say much, because his majesty's ministers might have reasons
that induced them to believe such an augmentation necessary;
if so, he was of opinion the men were well bestowed, and
the additional expellee no profusion. It was also observed,
that as Holland and Prussia were our allies, from whom we
might expect assistance, they also, agreeably to the stipulated
terms, were entitled to support from us. True : but did it
from thence follow, that we ought to augment our military
establishment?


-Was it not obvious to the merest smatterer in
politics, that the assistance expected from us by our allies was
not in an army, but in ships, sailors, and money ? The argu-
ment in favour of an increased army-establishment, upon this
ground, was therefore false and inconclusive.


Some persons might be of opinion, that this was the time to
take advantage of the situation of France. It undoubtedly was
so; but how ought this to be done? Not by triumphing in her
distress—not by ungenerously attacking her dominions, when
she was but ill able to defend them — not by following her
example towards this country in the late war; but by convinc-
ing her, that while we were generous to her, we were conside-
rate to ourselves, by taking the advantage of her situation to
reduce our establishment, with a view to the diminution of our
national incumbrances. This was the only mode of retaliation
he should prescribe for this country to observe ; this appeared
to him the best method to improve our finances, to guard
against similar disasters, and to repel with vigour any attack
which the new constitution and the revived credit of France
might hereafter enable her to make upon us. This mode ap-
peared very practicable, as far as the defence of the East and
West Indies was concerned ; and he would again affirm, that
if the defence of our Asiatic and western possessions required
at one time an augmentation of our military establishment, that
necessity no longer existed ; the situation of Europe having
entirely removed it. The money they were about to vote that
day would be the least of the expellee. Fortifications were
erecting, and many chargeable consequences must follow.
Supposing that the war between Turkey and the two imperial
courts of Austria and Russia was composed; that France had
settled her new constitution, and was main herself; that the
disputes in the Netherlands were accommodated, and his ma-


D 3




38 ARMY ESTIMATES-FRENCH REVOLUTION, &c. [Feb. 9.
jesty's pacific wishes gratified to their utmost extent; would
any man therefore say, we had less reason to apprehend
g


dan-
er of attack from our possessions in either of the Indies than at0present? And that therefore it would be a more fit period for


the reduction of our establishments in those quarters ? No one
would venture to hazard so absurd an opinion.


He was confident no time could be more proper—no pe-
riod more favourable — for the reduction of our establishment,
especially in the West Indies, than the present. He therefore
persisted, from the strongest conviction, in the opinions he
had entertained on the subject in 1787, and was ready to vote
in favour of any amendment applicable to the West-India es-
timate whenever it should be moved. He concluded with ex-
pressing his hearty approbation that the discussion had taken
place, and sincerely hoped that the army-estimates would
never be suffered to pass unnoticed by the House as mere
matters of form.


This speech was animadverted upon by Colonel Phipps, who
remarked, that he could not avoid considering the particular mode
in which Mr. Fox had thought proper to allude to the conduct of
the military bodies in France during the late commotions, as inap-
plicable to the drift of his reasoning, and rather a poor compli-
ment to a profession to which he had the honour to belong. The
right honourable gentleman should have recollected that we had a
long Established and happy constitution, and that the case was
widely different in France. If the right honourable gentleman had
looked to the conduct of the army here in 1 7 8o, he would
have found much more substantial ground for panegyric. He
would there have seen the soldiery of this country feeling as sol-
diers and citizens, not the first to head anarchy and cruelty, not
violent in their conduct, not joining those who were riotously violat-
ing the public peace, and scattering ruin among individuals, but pa-
tiently submitting to the insults of the populace, and in spite of 4114
provocation maintaining the laws of the realm, and acting under
the authority of the civil power.


Februcay 9.


The army-estimates being this day reported from the committee,
a farther debate took place. Mr. Secretary Grenville defended
the estimates. He acknowledged that he did not think France
very formidable when the augmentation was made two years ago ;
but he was of opinion then, as he was now, that such a number of
troops ought to be kept in each island, as might be able to defend
it, in case of attack, till the arrival of a fleet. If the situation of
France rendered her less formidable now than she was Abel),
still it was not politic to alter our establishment on every altera-
tion in the circumstances of rival powers. France, three years


1790.] ARMY ESTIMATES-FRENCH REVOLUTION, &C. 39
age, had, he said, been declared by Mr. Fox to he more formidable
than even in the reign of Lewis XIV. A few years had produced
the present alteration, and a few years more might produce
another. It was, therefore, the policy of this country to maintain
a peace-establishment on a general principle, and not on a partial
view of the comparative situation of France.


Mr. Fox rising next, observed, that the right honourable
secretary had indulged himself with so boundless a profusion
in the use of general terms, as to render it difficult to meet
his arguments by particular and pointed answers. '!'hies was
it, that he had chosen to evade all ample and all satisfactory
elucidations of the motives which had given rise to the pre-
sent augmentation of the peace-establishment of the army.
Yet, when he made this remark, be did not mean absurdly to
contend, that the stinted economy which might operate as an
invitation to an attack, and bring on a war, was good eco-
nomy; for all must acknowledge, that it would be wise to
keep up a proper establishment, and that it would be im-
proper to attempt an attack. The right honourable secretary
had not, however, given sufficient explanation on the present
establishment. There was no man more ready than himself
to give every becoming confidence to ministers ; he thought a
degree of confidence necessary to the well-being of the people ;
but a confidence for a permanent establishment was grossly ab-
surd: he would not refuse a confidence for one year, or a
limited period, but he would go no farther. When particular
emergencies presented themselves, and when experiments were
on the point of being made, confidence might be reposed in
ministers during a few months; yet surely a reliance of this
nature was not to be extended to the case of the establishment
of armies, from year to year, in time of peace. An honour-
able gentleman (Mr. Pulteney) could not, upon reflection,
consider this as a blind confidence; it was, on the contrary,
such as he had described, by a former assertion, similar to
those which he had made both in and out of place, and such
as he did not now mean either to recant or qualify; it was
that degree of confidence, without which it was impossible
for the executive government to proceed as it ought ; and, astale:lc:11f that he.


never meant that such a confidence should notbe limited d by caution, the House would please to recollect,tolalatet,ddituNs, eri : xtr a former session, when some honourable gen-


et ec


inits.13osed, on the subject of the affairs
, place too b


of Holland,t


ht honourable


iprr.oty


Fox contm


rieun f.oun.ded a confidence in ministers, be repro-


umg observed, that he agreed in part 'withthe rig


,


anle secretary, that it was not proper to discuss
-th


of
the American forts pending a nego-


D 4




40 ARMY ESTIMATES — FRENCH REVOLUTION, &c. [Feb. 9.
elation ; the House were, notwithstanding, entitled to enquire
into the state of those negotiations at some time or other ;
and surely, upon the present occasion, it could not be impro-
per to remark, that the cession of those posts had, indeed, been
blamed by some gentlemen, though he had never considered
that as any very material objection to the peace of 1783 ; nor
did he desire to descant on the propriety of occupying or
evacuating them now, not being prepared with information on
the subject. What he had asserted in the Committee, and
what the right honourable the chancellor of the exchequer's
facts proved against his theory, was, that we had not so great
a number of troops in America now as before the late war,
and therefore the argument, drawn from the extent of the
frontiers, for an encreased establishment, fell to the ground.
In confutation of the pretext for the necessity of guarding
Gibraltar from surprise, it was sufficient to answer, that it had
shown itself long to be in no such danger, and that the lauda-
ble improvements which it 'bad undergone, during the last
war, rendered it less liable to be surprised; yet, if the addi-
tion to this garrison had taken place, in consequence of a re-
commendation from those who were the twist qualified to
form a judgment, he certainly should not object against re-
linquishing his opinion to that of men whose professional skill
enabled them to decide; but of such circumstances, it was the
duty of ministers to take care that the House should be
particularly informed.


In the case of the West Indies, which, unquestionably, was
of the first importance, he should not hesitate to declare it as
his opinion, that the present • system, however it might have
been brought forward by the minister as a system of perfect
defence in those parts, was the most absurd that had ever been
adopted : it was ridiculous to talk of keeping up a sufficient
force in each island to defend itself at the breaking out of a
war; and before the House could come to such a vote, with
any degree of propriety, they should be first acquainted with
the necessary number of troops for each island. When such
a statement should be delivered in, he did not believe that a
single military man would declare such a number to be ade-
quate to the purpose for which they were intended ; and if so,
the augmentation of the army would go still farther : if the
islands were to be defended, they must be defended by a fleet ;
and the best military station, as he had been informed by some
of the first military men in the kingdom, was at Halifax, a
far healthier station, than any of the islands, and from which
place the troops could be more readily conveyed to the succour
of any particular island, than from one island to another.
The teYotino• men to the West Indies he considered' to be vot-


I 79o.] ARMY ESTIMATES — FRENCH REVOLUTION, c. 41


ing


the principl
bu t he must know to what extent


t


lia
them to their graves. No man was more ready to bow to


to go,
efendin the \Vest Indies by a military force


was
before he could judge of its propriety. It was


authority
e


the


d ,,
he was, o


hit that he considered himself at issue with the


e• i


right honourable gentleman at the head of affairs; and he
felt himself justified in asserting, that the natural defence
upon this poi


The situation of France was, in his mind, a material reason
of those islands rested in our navy.


why the present establishment was not necessary ; for, after
her late behaviour in the Dutch dispute, it was not very
likely she should wish to commence hostilities against this


He was not mortified by the right honourabl
noticing his being mistaken in his speculation,


country.


made three years since, of the power of France; a change, as
sudden as unexpected, had taken place in her affairs, in which
some exulted, and of which number, in one point of view, he
considered himself as included, from feelings and from princi-
ple. To the insinuation which the right honourable secretary
had brought against his supposed want of political foresight,
he could, without vanity, answer, that there were few mis-
takes indeed, of which he should be less ashamed; because,
even if a person, possessing the gift of prophecy, had appeared
in any part of Europe, in Paris or in London, and fore-
told those extraordinary occurrences which had since arisen,
every word issuing from his lips would only have been re-
garded as a corroboration of his insanity. In three years
more, it was possible, she might again have a turn in her af-
fairs, and become




likely, however, that the


zs b '
more formidable than ever : it was not


den, as to prevent our ability
a _ e growth of power should be so sud-


inimical effects. The difference
mil i ity of providing against any of its
in c i ere ce of pulline


.
down and building


up, was very material ; a state might
f II from pinnacle of


e,




e El tom a pinnac e o
on a sudden, was impossible.
power to actual inertness, but to rise to a state of grandeur,


The right ho


•good to be


,


e,


To this he honourable secretary had observed, that it was


insecure,


secure, and not to tempt an attack. Certainly.


of her garriso
ns, n ' 'could not he
• '


would reply, that if France were at this momentt
ne, and tempting an attack, it arose not from a


all points, ca -


neglect


reliance ought


or of her large establishments. This country


the establishment
nourabie 0" I


r,
bear such immense establishments; the being armedat


herself:


eetp a-pe, would ultimately prove her ruin : her
to be on her revenue, and, by a saving from


He
in the West Indies, she would strengthen


, --le believed it would be difficult for the right ho-
bent eman to prove that any of the islands whichbW


ere lost, could have been saved by the troops now proposed




42 ARMY ESTIMATES—FRENCH REVOLUTION, &c. [ Feb . g„
to be sent. He contended,. that it was fit the House should,
every year, consider the •establishment according to the state
of the powers of Europe. At present, viewing those powers,
he saw no necessity for our keeping up so large an army. The
defence of the East Indies, he imagined, would be more ad-
vantageously left to the native troops than to Europeans, who
could not endure the climate. He observed the army to be
continually increasing; that every pretence was seized to in-
crease it, but none to diminish it. The principle upon which
the right honourable secretary went for the defence of the
West Indies would ultimately prove the present establish-
ment to be too small; and, another year, a further increase
might be expected to be proposed : the principle he went upon
proved the present establishment to be too great. The House,
if it voted the present establishment, without the knowledge
of the number of troops meant to defend each island, must
give their vote in a blind confidence.


-


Reverting to the subject of France, Mr. Fox described her
-as in a state which could neither fill us with alarm nor ex-
cite us to indignation. Surrounded and oppressed by inter-
nal divisions and calamities, she could not so suddenly rise
superior to their pressure, as to preclude us from a prepa-
ration against an impending storm. Had France remained in
that formidable and triumphant state by which she was distin-
guished in the year 1783, he would be one of the first in the
House to applaud an augmentation of our peace-establish-
ment. In all our contests with that ancient enemy, our in-
temperance had seduced us into very disagreeable situations ;
and we had been frequently obliged to accept of terms which
we might have obtained several years before such an agree-
ment. If fortune had now humbled the pride and ambition
of this mighty empire—if that anarchy and confusion inci-
dental to such a revolution had struck her people with inert-
ness and inactivity—why should we dread her sudden declara- •
tion of hostilities? But even if she were to merge from her
misfortunes as suddenly as she was involved in them, he would
recommend the argument of the right honourable secretary as a
consolation—" The flourishing state of our finances." If, how-
ever, an attention to the -West Indies were advanced as a jus•
tification of the augmentation, he wished to call to the recol-
lection of gentlemen, that our first surprise did not originate
last war in that quarter. It was a wise and happy preamble
established by our ancestors in the mutiny bill, that it should
assign as a reason for a standing army, the preservation of
the political balance of Europe. He lamented, that it was
the nature of kings, ministers, generals, and those of a similar
description, to oppose the reduction of the army. If a


179o.] ARMY ESTIMATES — FRENCH REVOLUTION, &C. 43


nister, the professed friend of mankind, should, however, stand
forward in favour of such a measure, he must arm himself
with points—he must arm himself with resolutions—lie must
be emboldened to proceed in the reforms. It was a cen-
surable policy to send British troops to the East Indies. He
affirmed, that our territories in that part of the globe should be
defended by the natives, who, accustomed to the climate, were
more able to endure the fatigues of war.


He regretted, that the present administration evinced every
pretence for an augmentation of the army, without any for
reduction. It was playing with the feelings of the people, to
come forward every year, and justify augmentations in the
military forces. The fortification-system was chimerical and
absurd. They could not vote foolishly away the money of
their constituents; they could not vote a blind and abusive
confidence in, the ministers. He hoped, therefore, that the
house would call for an ample explanation of the system so
warmly recommended. Nay, as an act of friendship to those
gentlemen, he urged them to appear, on such an important
occasion, in a free and manly manner, fearless of any conse-
quence, and consulting no dictates, except those of an inflexible
integrity.


Mr. Burke spoke a considerable time in answer to various
arguments which had been insisted upon by Mr. Secretary Gren-
ville and Mr. Pitt, for keeping an increase peace-establishment,
and against an improper jealousy of the ministers, in whom a full
confidence, subject to responsibility, ought to be placed, on ac-
count of their knowledge of the real situation of affairs ; the exact
state of which, it frequently happened, that they could not dis-
close, without violating the constitutional and political secrecy.
necessary to the well-being of their country. He said, that con-
fidence might become a vice, and jealousy a virtue, according
to circumstances. That confidence, of all public virtues, was the
most dangerous, and jealousy in an House of Commons, of all pub-
lic vices, the most tolerable ; especially where the number and the
charge of standing armies, in time of peace, was the question.


That in the annual mutiny-bill, the annual army was declared to
be for the purpose of preserving the balance of power in Europe. The
propriety of its being larger or smaller depended, therefore, upon
the true state of that balance. If the increase of peace-establish-
ments demanded of parliament agreed with the manifest appear-
ance of the balance, confidence in ministers, as to the particulars,
would be very proper. If' the increase was not at all supported by
any such appearance, he thought great jealousy might, and ought
to be, entertained on that subject.


That he did not find, on a review of all Europe, that, politically,
we stood in the smallest degree of danger from any one-state or
kingdom it contained; nor that any other foreign powers than our


7r,




44 ARMY ESTIMATES—FRENCH
FRENCH REVOLUTION. &c. [ Feb. 9.


own allies were likely to obtain a considerable preponderance in
the scale.


That France had hitherto been our first object in all considera-
tions concerning the balance of power. The presence or absence
of France totally varied every sort of speculation relative to that.
balance.


That France was, at this time, in a political light, to be con-
sidered as expunged out of the system of Europe. Whether she
ever could appear in it again, as a leading power, was not easy to
determine : but at present he considered France as not politically
existing ; and most assuredly it would take tip much time to
restore her to her former active existence. —Gallas quoque in bellis


foruisse audivimus, might possibly be the language of the rising
generation. He did not mean to deny that it was our duty to keep
our eye on that nation, and to regulate our preparation by the symp-
toms of her recovery.


That it was to her strength, not to her form of government, which
we were to attend ; because republics, as well as monarchies, were
susceptible of ambition, jealousy, and anger, the usual causes of
war. But if, while France continued in this swoon, we should go
on increasing our expences, we should certainly make ourselves
less a match for her, when it became our concern to arm.


It was said, that as she had speedily fallen, she might speedily
rise again. He doubted this. That the fall from an height was
with an accelerated velocity ; but to lift a weight up to that height
again was difficult, and opposed by the laws of physical and politi-
cal gravitation. In a political view, France was low indeed. She
had lost every thing, even to her name.


" Jacet ingens littore truncus,
" Avolsumque humeris caput, et sine nomine corpus."


He was astonished at it—he was alarmed at it—he trembled at
the uncertainty of all human greatness.


Since the House had been prorogued in the summer, much work
was done in France. The French had sliewn themselves the ablest
architects of ruin that had hitherto existed in the world. In that very
short space of time, they had completely pulled down to the ground
their monarchy, their church, their nobility, their law, their revenue,.
their army, their navy, their commerce, their arts, and their manu-
factures. They had done their business for us as rivals, in a way
which twenty Ramifies or Blenheims could never have done it.
Were we absolute conquerors, and France to lie prostrate at our


Mr. Burke, probably, had in his mind the remainder of the passage,
and was filled with some congenial apprehensions:


" Hmc finis Priami fatoruin ; hie cxitus ilium
" Sorte Trojam incensam, & prolapse videntem
" Pergama; tot quondam populis, terrisque, superbum
" Regnatorem Asim. Jacet ingens littore truncus,
" Avolsumque humeris caput, & sine nomine corpus.
" At me turn primum scevus circunistetit horror;
" Obstupni : subiit chard genitors: image"—


/ 790.] ARMY ESTIMATES — FRENCH REVOLUTION, &C. 45


feet, we should be ashamed to send a commission to settle their
affairs, which could impose so hard a law upon the French, and so
destructive of all their consequence, as a nation, as that they had
imposed upon themselves.


France, by the mere circumstance of its vicinity, had been, and
in a degree always must be, an object of our vigilance, either with
regard to her actual power, or to her influence and example. As
to the former, he had spoken ; as to the latter, (her example, ) he
should say a few words : for by this example, our friendship and
our intercourse with that nation had once been, and might again •
become, more dangerous to us than their worst hostility.


In the last century, Louis the XI.Vth hadestablished a greater and
better disciplined military force than ever had been before seen in
Europe, and with it a perfect despotism. Though that despotism
was proudly arrayed in manners, gallantry, splendour, magnifi-
cence, and even covered over with the imposing robes of science,
literature, and arts, it was, in government, nothing better than a
painted and gilded tyranny ; in religion, an hard, stern intolerance,
the fit companion and auxiliary to the despotic tyranny which pre-
veiled in its government. The same character of despotism in-
sinuated itself into every court of Europe the same spirit of dis-
proportioned magnificence—the same love of standing armies,
above the ability of the people. In particular, our then sovereigns,
King Charles and King James, fell in love with the government of
their neighbour, so flattering to the pride of kings. ' A similarity
of sentiments brought on connections equally dangerous to the
interests and liberties of their country. It were well that the in-
fection had gone no farther than the throne. The admiration of a
government, flourishing and successful, unchecked in its opera-
tions, and seeming, therefore, to compass its objects more speedily
and effectually, gained something upon all ranks of people. The
good patriots of that day, however, struggled against it. They
sought nothing more anxiously than to break off all communica-
tion with France, and to beget a total alienation from its councils
and its example ; which by the animosity prevalent between the
abettors of their religious system and the assertors of ours, was,
m some degree, effected.


This day the evil is totally changed in France : but there is an
evil there. The disease is altered ; but the vicinity of the two.
countries remains, and must remain : and the natural mental
habits of mankind are such, that the present distemper of France
is far more likely to be contagious than the old one ; for it is not
quite easy to spread a passion for servitude among the people
but in all evils of the opposite kind, our natural inclinations are
flattered. In the case of despotism, there is the fcedum crimen
servitutis ; in the last the fiztsa species libertatis ; and accordingly;
as the historian says, pronis auribus accipitur.


In the last age, we were in danger of being entangled by the
example of France. in the net of a relentless despotism. It is not
Accessary to say any thing upon that example ; it exists no longer.
Our present danger from the example of a people, whose cha-
racter knows no medium, is., with regard to government, a danger




46 ARMY ESTIMATES—FRENCH REVOLUTION, &C. [Feb. 9,11^:


from anarchy ; a danger of being led through an admiration of
successful fraud and violence, to an imitation of the excesses of
an irrational, unprincipled, proscribing, confiscating, plundering,
ferocious, bloody, and tyrannical democracy. On the side of' reli-
gion, the danger of their example is no longer from intolerance,
but from atheism ; a foul, unnatural vice, foe to all the dignity and
consolation of mankind ; which seems in France, for a long time,
to have been embodied into a faction, accredited, and almost
avowed.


These are our present dangers from France ; but, in his opinion,
the very worst part of the example set, is in the late assumption
of citizenship by the army, and the whole of the arrangement, or
rather disarrangement, of their military.


He was sorry that his right honourable friend (Mr. Fox) had
dropped even a word expressive of exultation on that circum-
stance; or that he seemed of opinion that the objection from stand-
ing armies was at all lessened by it. Ile attributed this opinion of
Mr. Fox entirely to his known zeal for the best of all causes, liberty.
That it was with a pain inexpressible he was obliged to have even
the shadow of a difference with his friend, whose authority would
be always great with him, and with all thinking people.— Qua
maxima semper censetur nobis, et Grit pre maxima semper. His con-
fidence in Mr. Fox was such, and so ample, as to be almost im-
plicit. That he was not ashamed to avow that degree of docility.
That when the choice is well made, it strengthens instead of op-
pressing our intellect. That he who calls in the aid of an equal
understanding, doubles his own. He who profits of a superior
understanding, raises his powers to a level with the height of the
superior understanding he unites with. He had found the benefit
of such a junction, and would not lightly depart from it. He wished
almost, on all occasions, that his sentiments were understood to
be conveyed in Mr. Fox's words : and that he wished, as amongst
the greatest benefits he could wish the country, an eminent share
of power to that right honourable gentleman ; because he knew
that, to his great and masterly understanding, he had joined the
greatest possible degree of that natural moderation, which is the
best corrective of power ; that he was of the most artless, candid,
open, and benevolent disposition ; disinterested in the extremes
of a temper mild and placable, even to a fault : without one drop
of gall in his whole constitution.


That the House must perceive, from his coming forward to mark
an expression or two of his best friend, how anxious he was to
keep the distemper of France from the least countenance in Eng-
land, where he was sure some wicked persons had shewn a strong
disposition to recommend an imitation of the French spirit of re-
form. He was so strongly opposed to any the least tendency
towards the means of introducing a democracy like theirs, as well
as to the end itself, that much as it would afflict him, if such a
thing could be attempted, and that any friend of his could concur
in such measures, (he was far, very far, from believing they could, )
he would abandon his best friends, and join with his worst enemies
to oppose either the means or the end; and to resist 'all violent


11


1790,j ARMY ESTIMATES—FRENCH REVOLUTION, &C.
4.7


exertions of the spirit of innovation, so distant from all principles
of true and safe reformation ; a spirit well calculated to overturn
states, but perfectly unfit to amend them,


That he was no enemy to reformation. Almost every business
in which he was much concerned, from the first day he sat in that
House to that hour, was a business of' reformation ; and when he
had not been employed in correcting, he had been employed in
resisting abuses. Some traces of this spirit in him now stand on
their statute-book. In his opinion, any thing which unnecessarily
tore to pieces the contexture of the state, not only prevented all
real reformation, but introduced evils which would call, but per-
haps, call in vain, for new reformation.


That he thought the French nation very unwise. What they
valued themselves on, was a disgrace to them. They had gloried
(and some people in England had thought fit to take share in that
glory) in making a revolution ; as if revolutions were good things
in themselves. All the horrors, and all the crimes of the anarchy
which led to their revolution, which attend its progress, and which
may virtually attend it in its establishment, pass for nothing with
the lovers of revolutions. The French have made their way,
through the destruction of their country, to a bad constitution,
when they were absolutely in possession of a good one. They were
in possession of it the day the states met in separate orders. Their
business, had they been either virtuous or wise, or had been left
to their own judgment, was to secure the stability and independence
of the state, according to those orders, under the monarch on the
throne. It was then their duty to redress grievances.


Instead of redressing grievances, and improving the fabric of
their state, to which they were called by their monarch, and sent
by their country, they were made to take a very different course.
They first destroyed all the balances and counterpoises which serve
to fix the state, and to give it a steady direction; and which fur-
nish sure correctives to any violent spirit which may prevail in any
of the orders. These balances existed in their oldest constitution ;
and in the constitution of this country ; and in the constitution of
all the countries in Europe. These they rashly destroyed, and.
tnheecii et tdheny amsse. lted down the whole into one incongruous, ill-con-


When they had done this, they instantly, with the most atrocious
perfidy and breath of all faith among men, laid the axe to the root
of all property, and consequently of all national prosperity, by the
principles they established. and the example they set, in confiscat-
ing all the possessions of the church. They made and recorded
adisog rtacof institutbinstitute and digest of anarchy, called the rights of man,itnhasnutcrhiflaingpeainladnptiedcaabut. ise of elementary principles as would have


boy


religious or
systematically


at scdhnlool ; but this declaration of rights was worse
clarat ion, c n them ; as by their name and authoritythey


ig




destroyed every hold of authority by opinion,
on the minds of the people. By this mad de.


A14:
es as no country, without


we1teclthe state, and brought on such eala-
a long war, has ever been known




48 ARMY ESTIMATES — FRENCH REVOLUTION, &c. [Feb. 9.


to suffer, and which may in the end produce such a war, and
perhaps many such.


With them the question was not between despotism and liberty.
The sacrifice they made of the peace and power of their country
was not made on the altar of freedom. Freedom, and a better
security for it than that they have taken, they might have had
without any sacrifice at all. They brought themselves into all
the calamities they suffer, not that through them they might
Obtain a British constitution ; they plunged themselves headlong
into those calamities, to prevent themselves from settling into that
constitution, or into any thing resembling it.


That if they should perfectly succeed in what they propose, as
they are likely enough to do, and establish a democracy, or a mob
of democracies, in a country circumstanced like France, they will
establish a very bad government—a very bad species of tyranny.


That the worst effect of all their proceeding was on their military,
which was rendered an army for every purpose but that of defence.
That if the question was, whether soldiers were to forget they
were citizens, as an abstract proposition, he could have no dif-
ference about it; though, as it is usual, when abstract principles
are to be applied, much was to be thought on the manner of unit-
ing the character of citizen and soldier. But as applied to the
events which had happened in France, where the abstract prin-
ciple was clothed with its circumstances, he thought that his
friend would agree with him, that what was done there furnished
no matter of exultation, either in the act or the example. These
soldiers were not citizens; but base hireling mutineers, and mer-
cenary sordid deserters, wholly destitute of any honourable prin-
ciple. Their conduct was one of the fruits of that anarchic spirit,
from the evils of which a democracy itself was to be resorted to,
by those who were the least disposed to that form, as a sort of
refuge. It was not an army in corps and with discipline, and em-
bodied under the respectable patriot citizens of the state in re-
sisting tyranny. Nothing like it. It was the case of common sol-
diers deserting from their officers, to join a furious, licentious po-
pulace. It was a desertion to a cause, the real object of which
was to level all those institutions, and to break all those connec-
tions, natural and civil, that regulate and hold together the corn.,
munity by a chain of subordination ; to raise soldiers against their
officers ; servants against their masters; tradesmen against their
customers ; artificers against their employers ; tenants against their
landlords ; curates against their bishops; and children against their
parents. That this cause of theirs was not an enemy to servitude,.
but to society.


He wished the House to consider, how the members would like
to have their mansions pulled down and pillaged, their persons
abused, insulted, and destroyed ; their title-deeds brought out and.
burnt before their faces, and themselves and their families driven
to seek refuge in every nation throughout Europe, for no other
reason than this ; that without any fault of theirs, they were born
gentlemen, an,4. men of property, and were suspected of a desire


12


/790.j ARMY ESTIMATES—FRENCH REVOLUTION, &C.' 49-


to preserve their consideration and their estates. The desertion
in France was to aid an abominable sedition, the very professed
principle of which was an implacable hostility to nobility and gen-
try, and whose savage war-whoop was " a CAristocratc," by which
senseless, bloody cry, they animated one another to rapine and.
murder ; whilst abetted by ambitious men of another class, they
were crushing every thing respectable and virtuous in their nation,
and to their power disgracing almost every name, by which we
formerly knew there was such a country in the world as France.


He knew too well, and he felt as much as any man, how difficult
it was to accommodate a standing army to a free constitution, or
to anyconstitution. An armed, disciplined body is, in its essence,
dangerous to liberty ; undisciplined, it is ruinous to society. Its
component parts are, in the latter case, neither good citizens, nor
good soldiers. What have they thought of in France, under such
a difficulty as almost puts the human faculties to a stand ? They
have put their army under such a variety of principles of duty,
that it is more likely to breed litigants, pettyfoggers, and mutineers,
than soldiers*. They have set up, to balance their crown army,
another army, deriving under another authority, called a municipal
army —a balance of armies, not of orders. These latter they have'
destroyed with every mark of insult and oppression. States may,
and they will best, exist with a partition of civil powers. Armies
cannot exist under a divided command. This state of things he.
thought, in effect, a state of war, or, at best, but a truce instead
of peace, in the country.


What a dreadful thing is a standing army, for the conduct of
the whole, or any part of which, no man is responsible! In the•
present state of the French crown army, is the crown responsible
for the whole of it? Is there arty gthieral who can be responsible
for the obedience of a brigade ? Any colonel for that of a regi-
ment? Any captain for that of a company ? And as to the muni-
cipal army, reinforced as it is by the new citizen-deserters, under
whose command are they ? Have we not seen them, not led by,
knit dragging their nominal commander with a rope about his neck,
when they, or those whom they . accompanied, proceeded to the
most, atrocious acts of treason and murder? Are any of these
armies? Are any of these citizens?


We have in such a difficulty as that of fitting a standing army'to-
the state, he conceived, done much better: We have not distracted
our army by divided principles of obedience. We have put them
under a single authority, with a simple (our common) oath of .
fidelity ; and we keep the whole under our annual inspection..
This was doing all that could be safely done.


He felt some concern that.this strange thing, called a Revolu-
tion in France, should be compared with the glorious event, corn-
monly


called the Revolution in England; and the conduct 'of the


soldiery, on that occasion, compared with the behaviour of some
of the troops of France in the present instance. At that period,


They are sworn to obey the king, the nation, and the law.
VOL. n.




S 0 ARMY EVITIVIATES - FRENCH REVOLUTION, &C. [Feb. 9-


the Prince of Orange, a prince of the blood royal in England, was
called in by the flower of the English aristocracy to defend in:
ancient constitution, and not to level all distinctions. To this
prince, so invited, the aristocratic leaders who commanded the
troops, went over with their several corps, in bodies, to the de-
liverer of their country. Aristocratic leaders brought up the corps
of citizens who newly enlisted in this cause. Military obedience
changed its object ; but military discipline was not for a moment
interrupted in its principle. The troops were ready for war, but
indisposed to mutiny.


But as the conduct of the English armies was different, so was
that of the whole English nation at that time. In truth, the cir-
cumstances of our Revolution (as it is called) and that of France, -
are just the reverse of each other in almost every particular, and
in the whole spirit of the transaction. With us it was the case
of a legal monarch attempting arbitrary power — in France, it is
the case of an arbitrary monarch, beginning, from whatever cause,
to legalise his authority. The one was to be resisted, the other
was to be managed and directed ; but in neither case was the order
of the state to be changed, lest government might be ruined, which
ought only to be corrected and legalised. With us we got rid of
the man, and preserved the constituent parts of the state. There.
they get rid of the constituent parts of the state, and keep the man.
What we did was in truth and substance, and in a constitutional
light, a revolution, not made, but prevented. We took solid se-
curities ; we settled doubtful questions ; we corrected anomalies
in our law, In the stable fundamental parts of our constitution
we made no revolution; no, nor any alteration at all. We did
not impair the monarchy : perhaps it might be shewn that we
strengthened it very considerably. The nation kept the same
ranks, the same orders, the same privileges, the same franchises,
the same rules for property, the same subordinations, the same
order in the law, in the revenue, and in the magistracy ; the
same Lords, the same Commons, the same corporations, the same
electors.


The church was not impaired. Her estates, her majesty, her
splendor, her orders and gradations continued the same. She
was preserved in her full efficiency, and cleared only of a certain.
intolerance, which was her weakness and disgrace. The church
awl the state were the same after the Revolution that they were-
before, but better secured in every part.


Was little done, because a revolution was not made in the con-
stitution? No! Every thing was done ; because we commenced
with reparation, not with ruin. Accordingly the state flourished.
Instead of lying as dead, in a sort of trance, or exposed, as some
others, in an epileptic fit, to the pity or derision of the world, for
her wild, ridiculous, convulsive movements, impotent to every
purpose but that of dashing out her brains against the pavement,
Great Britain rose above the standard, even of her former self.
An cera of a more improved domestic prosperity then com-
menced, and still continues, not only unimpaired, but growing,
wider the wasting hand of time. All the energies, of the country


I 7 90.] AnYix ESTIMATES-FRENCH REVOLUTION, &c. 51
were awakened. England never presented a firmer countenance,
or a more vigorous arm, to all her enemies, and to all her rivals.
Europe under her respired and revived. Every where she ap-
peared as the protector, assertor, or avenger of liberty. A war
was made and supported against fortune itself: The treaty of
Ryswick, which first limited the power of France, was soon after
made : the grand alliance very shortly followed, which shook to
the foundations the dreadful power which menaced the indepen-
dence of mankind. The states of Europe lay happy under the
shade of a great and free monarchy, which knew how to be great,
without endangering its own peace at home, or the internal or
external peace of any of its neighbours.


Mr. Burke said he should have felt very unpleasantly if he had
not delivered these sentiments. He was near the end of his natural,
probably still nearer to the end of his political career ; that he was
weak and weary ; and wished for rest. That he was little disposed
to controversies, or what is called a detailed opposition. That
at his time of life, if he could not do something by some sort of
weight of opinion, natural or acquired, it was useless and inde-
corous to attempt any thing by mere struggle. Turpe senex miles.
That he had for that reason little attended the army business, or
that of the revenue, or almost any other matter of detail for some
years past. That he had, however, his task. He was far from
condemning such opposition ; on the contrary, he most highly
applauded it, where a just occasion existed for it, and gentlemen
had vigour and capacity to pursue it. Where a great occasion
occurred, he was, and while he continued in parliament would be,
amongst the most active and the most earnest, as he hoped he
had shewn on a late event. With respect to the constitution itself,
he wished few alterations in it ; happy, if he left it not the worse
for any share he had taken in its service. — As soon as Mr. Burke
had concluded,


Mr. Fox got up and declared, that he rose with a concern
of mind which it was almost impossible to describe, at per-
ceiving himself driven to the hard necessity of making at least
a short answer to the latter part of a speech, to which he had
listened with the greatest attention, and which, some obser-
vations and arguments excepted, he admired as one of the
wisest and most brilliant flights of oratory ever delivered in
that House. There were parts of it, however, which he
wished had either been omitted, or deferred to some other
and more fit occasion. His right honourable friend, in allud-
ing to him, had mixed his remarks with so much personal
kindness towards him, that he felt himself under a difficulty
in making any return, lest the House should doubt his sin-
cerity, and consider what he might say as a mere discharge
of a debt of compliments. He must, however, declare, that
such was his sense of the judgment of his ri ght honourable


a afriend, such his knowledge lots his principles, such the 1' e
E 2,




52 ARMY ESTIMATES- TRENCH REvoLuTioN, &c. [Feb. 9
which he set upon them, and such the estimation in which
he held his friendship, that if he were to put all the political
information which he had learnt from books, all which he
had gained from science, and all which any knowledge of the
world and its affairs had taught him, into one scale, and the
improvement which he had derived from his right honour-
able friend's instruction and conversation were placed in
the other, he should be at a loss to decide to which to give
the preference. He had learnt more from his right honour-
able friend .than from all the men with whom he had eve/
conversed.


His right honourable friend had grounded all which he
had said on that part of a speech made by him on a former
day, when he wished that his right honourable friend had
been present, in which he had stated, that if ever lie could
look at a standing army with less constitutional jealousy than
before, it was now ; since, during the late transactions in
France, the army had manifested, that on becoming soldiers


• they did not cease to continue citizens, and would not act as
the more instruments of a despot. That opinion he still
maintained. But, did such a declaration warrant the idea,
that be was a friend to democrac y ? He declared himself


,
equally the enemy of all absolute forms of government, whe-
ther an absolute monarchy, an absolute aristocracy, or an
absolute democracy. He was adverse to all extremes, and
a friend only to a mixed government, like our own, in which,
if the aristocracy, or indeed either of the three branches
of the constitution, were destroyed, the good effect of the
whole, and the happiness derived under it, would, in his
mind, be at an end. When he described himself as ex-
ulting over the success of some of the late attempts in France,
he certainly meant to pay a just tribute of applause to those
who, feelingly alive to a sense of the oppressions under which
their countrymen had groaned, disobeyed the despotic corn-
.mands of their leaders, and gallantly espoused the cause of
their fellow citizens, in a struggle for the acquisition of that
liberty, the sweets of which we all enjoyed.


He begged, however, not to be misunderstood in his ideas
of liberty. True liberty could only exist amidst the union
.and co-operation of the different powers which composed
the legislative and the executive government. Never Should
he lend himself to support any cabal or scheme, formed in
order to introduce any dangerous innovation into our ex-
•eellent constitution; he would not, however, run the length
of declaring, that he was an enemy to every species of inno-
vation. That constitution, which we all revered, owed its
perfection to innovation; for, however admirable-the theory,


1790.] ARMY ESTIMATES-TRENCH REVOLUTION, &C. 53


experience was the true test of its order and beauty. His
right honourable friend might rest assured, that they could
never differ in principles, however they might differ in their
application. In the application of their principles, they more
than once had experienced the misfortune of differing, par-
ticularly in regard to the representation of the people in
parliament, and they might occasionally continue to differ
in regard to other points, which depended rather on the
application of their principles, than on their principles them-
selves. The scenes of bloodshed and cruelty which had
been acted in France no man could have heard of without
lamenting; but still, when the severe tyranny, under which
the people had so long groaned was considered, the excesses
which they committed, in their endeavour to shake off the
yoke of despotism, might, he thought, be spoken of with
some degree of compassion; and he was persuaded! that,
unsettled as their present state appeared, it was preferable
to their former condition, and that ultimately it would be
for the advantage of this country that France had regained
her freedom.


What had given him the greatest uneasiness, in hearing the
latter part of his right honourable friend's speech, was, lest,
from its being well known that he had long considered it as
the boast and happiness of his life to have lived on terms of
the most perfect confidence and intimacy with his right ho-
nourable friend, an impression might be left on the mind of
that House, or on the minds of tie public, that there had
existed some•grounds • for suspicion that he could so far forget
himself; upon the score either of principles or of duty, as at
any moment to countenance, or rather not vehemently to
reprobate, all doctrines and all measures inimical to the con-
stitution. Again, therefore, must he repeat, under the most
solemn assurances, to his right honourable friend, that he
never would lend himself to any cabal, nor, on any occasion,
act in a manner incompatible with the principles which he
had so repeatedly professed, and which he held in common
with his right honourable friend. He differed, however,
from his right honourable friend, in his opinion of the Re-
volution in 1688. From that period we had, undoubtedly,
to date the definition and confirmation of our liberties;
and the case was certainly more parallel to the revolution in
France than his right honourable friend seemed willing to
allow. The reason why France had been so long settling her
constitution, and why we had so soon adjusted ours in 1688,
was owing to there being so much despotism to destroy in
France, and so little which called for destruction when the •
revolution in our government took place; — a fact which


E 3




II


5.4. ARMY ESTIMATES
YCII REVOLUTION, &C. [Feb. 9.


of itself was sufficient to convince his right honourable friend
that there was no ground whatever for the apprehensions
which he had that day stated. He imputed this warmth of
his right honourable friend, and the extent to which he had
pushed this argument, to a laudable but extreme anxiety,
lest any man should be rash enough to hazard an attempt
to render what had passed in France an object of imitation
in this country.


In conclusion, Mr. Fox observed, that he should embrace
a future opportunity of entering more amply into a discussion
respecting the affairs of France, as far as they might ulti-
mately operate either in favour of or against this country,
should the House consider it necessary to fix upon such a
topic for their investigation.


Mr. Burke answered, that he could, without the least flattery or
exaggeration, assure his right honourable friend, that the separa-
tion of a limb from his body could scarcely give him more pain,
than the circumstance of differing from him, violently and pub-
licly, in opinion. It was not even in his idea to insinuate that his
right honourable friend would lend his 'aid to any plan concerted
for the support of dangerous and unconstitutional procedures. He
knew the contrary. His motive for the remarks which he had
made was to warn those who did not possess the brilliant talents
and illuminated penetration of his right honourable friend, whose
moderation was one of the leading features of his political charac-
ter, from entertaining sentiments which he conceived to be adverse
to good government. He was exceedingly glad, however, that he
had delivered himself so plainly in his former speech, since what
he had said had drawn from his right honourable friend an expla-
nation not more satisfactory to his mind, than he was persuaded it
was to the House, and all who had heard it.


Mr. Sheridan said, that the very reason which Mr. Burke had
given for expressing the sentiment which he had that day uttered,
namely an apprehension of being supposed to acquiesce in the opi-
nions of those for whom he entertained the highest regard, and
with whom he had uniformly acted, operated also on his mind, and
matte him feel it a duty to declare, that he differed decidedly from
that right honourable gentleman in almost every word that he had
uttered respecting the French revolution. Mr. Sheridan added
some warm compliments to Mr. Burke's general principles ; but
said that he could not conceive how it was possible for a person
of such principles, or for any man who valued our own constitu-
tion, and revered the revolution that obtained it for us, to unite
with such feelings an indignant and unqualified abhorrence of all
the proceedings of the patriotic party in France. He conceived
theirs to be as just a revolution as ours, proceeding upon as sound
a principle and a greater provocation, and vehemently defended
the general views and conduct of the national assembly. He joined
with Mr. Burke in ;Abhorring the cruelties that had beep commit-


1790'3 MOTION Pon THE REPEAL, &C.
55


ted ; but what, he said, *as the awful lesson that was to be ga-
thered from the outrages of the populace ? What, but an .abhor-
rence of that accursed system of despotic government, which sets
asn example of depravity to the slaves it rules .over ; and if a day
of power comes to the wretched populace, is it. to be wondered at,
however it is to be regretted, that they act without any of those
feelings of justice or humanity which the principles and practice
of the governors had stripped them of? Mr. Sheridan went into
several other topics respecting the French revolution, and charged
Mr. Burke with being an advocate for despotism, and with having
spoken of the national assembly with an unwarrantable freedom of
speech. Mr. Burke answered, that he most sincerely lamented over
the inevitable necessity of now publicly declaring, that henceforth
his honourable friend and he were separated in politics ; yet, even
in the very moment of separation, he expected that his honourable
friend—for so he had been in the habit of calling bins—would
have treated him with some degree of kindness ; or at least, if he
had not, for the sake of a long and amicable connection, heard
him with some partiality, have done bins the justice of representing
his arguments fairly. On the contrary, he had, as cruelly as unex-
pectedly, misrepresented the nature of his remarks. The honour-
able gentleman had thought proper to charge him with being the
advocate of despotism, though, in the beginning of his former
speech, he had expressly reprobated every measure which carried
with it even the slightest appearance of despotism. All who knew
him could not avoid, with the most unmerited violation of na-
tural justice, acknowledging, that he was the professed enemy of
despotism in every shape, whether, as he had before observed, it
appeared as the splendid tyranny of Lewis the XIV. or the out-
rageous democracy of the present government of France, which
levelled all distinctions in society.


Ala. Fox's MoTioN FOR THE REPEAL OF THE TEST AND
CORPORATION ACTS.


March 2.


THE very small majority by which Mr. Beaufoy's motion for the
-L relief of protestant dissenters had been rejected last year


justified the perseverance of that body in renewing their applica-
tion to parliament, and could not fail of giving them sanguine
hopes of success. Another application was immediately deter-
mined upon, to be made in the present session, and the interval
was employed, with indefatigable industry, in making every pos-
sible exertion to fortify their cause, both by general appeals to the


See p.t. of the present volume.
E 4




MOTION FOR THE REPEAL or [March 2;


people, and by an active canvas of individual members of parlia-
ment The circumstances of an approaching general election was
also thought favourable to their attempt, on account of their great
weight and influence in many counties and corporations, and their
avowed determination to exert them, on the ensuing occasion, in the
support of such candidates only as were known, or should pro.
mise, to he their supporters. At the same time it appears, that
they wished to consolidate with their own the interest of the Ro-
man catholic dissenters, and probably expected, that they should
derive some accession of strength from that quarter, by extending
their application so as to include in it the members of that per-
suasion. Their cause, thus promising and thus supported, it was
resolved to entrust in the House of Commons, to the zeal and
talents of Mr. Fox. Accordingly, this day,


Mr. Fox, agreeably to the notice he had given, rose to make
his intended motion for the repeal of the Test and Corporation
acts. He requested the act of the i 5 th of Charles II. for the
well governing and regulating of corporations, as well as the
act of the 2 5 th of the same reign, for the prevention of dan-
ger from popish recusants, might be severally read by the
clerk. He then observed, that as the question he was about
to submit to the consideration of the House that day, had ex-
cited such great and general expectation, as well in that
House as in the country at large, he held it his indispensable
duty to state the reasons which induced him, on the present
occasion, to move the question, which in two former ses-
sions had been brought forward by another honourable gen-
tleman, and had been so ably argued and so amply discussed
by the House. He was confident, the cause, of which he
stood that day the advocate, had better have remained in the
hands to which it had been entrusted on former occasions :
he, however, assured the House, that lie did not obtrude him-
self upon those most interested in the success of the motion;
nor was he under any particular obligations to the parties who
considered themselves aggrieved and oppressed by the acts in
question ; yet, regarding their cause as the cause of liberty
and truth, to which he should ever profess the most unalien-
able attachment, he did not hesitate to stand forward the ad-
vocate of civil and religious liberty, even in favour of men,
who had, oh different occasions, acted hostilely towards him.
It afforded him, however, a matter of' triumph and exultation
to observe that, though in former times he had not enjoyed
much of the confidence of that description of' men who were
the object of his motion, yet his vanity was not a little flat-
tered, by the good opinion they must now entertain of him,
whom they had solicited with such importunity to conduct the


1790.) THE TEST AND CORPORATION ACTS. 57


management of their cause, notwithstanding their former dif-


d which demanded of public menfe rie %nee pt.
political othe p in oenr si


a free and candid explanation of their political sentiments.
In considering the case of the dissenters, the first argument
which naturally presented itself was that spirit of intolerance
and persecution which dictated the oppressive acts, the pre-
sent subject of grievance and complaint. He conceived it ut-
terly impossible to view any species of persecution, whether
civil or religious, without horror and detestation ; and there-
fore the proceedings of a neighbouring nation, in regard to
that part of their constitution, so far, in his opinion, from
being a subject of censure, merited the esteem and ap-
plause of a great people ; who were investigating the first
principles with a view to secure the rights of men, and were
wisely applying them to the abolition of that spirit of perse-
cution and intolerance which had, for a long period, disgraced
their government. Were we to recur to first principles,
and observe the progress of the Christian religion, in the first
stages of its propagation, we should perceive that no vice,t -s)
evil, or detriment, had ever sprung from toleration. Perse-
cution had always been a fertile source of much evil; perfidy,
cruelty, and murder had often been the consequence of in-
tolerant principles. The massacres at Paris, the martyrdoms
of Smithfield, and the executions of the Inquisition, were
among the many horrid and detestable crimes which had, at
different times, originated solely from persecution. To sup-
pose a man wicked or immoral, merely on account of any
difference of religious opinion, was as false as it was absurd ;
yet this was the original principle of persecution. Mora-
lity was thought to be most effectually enforced and propa-
gated by insisting on a general unity of religions sentiments;
the dogmas of men in power were to be substituted in the
room of every other religious opinion, as it might best an-
swer the ends of policy and ambition : it proceeded entirely
on this grand fundamental error—that one man could better
judge of the religious opinion of another than the man him-
sperliti' iciopilieksl.. Upon this absurd principle, persecution might
be consistent; but in this it resembled madness ; the cha-
racteristic of which was acting consistently upon wrong


The doctrines of .Christianity might have been
expected to possess sufficient influence to counteract this
great error ; but the reverse had proved to be the case. Tor-
ture and death had been the auxiliaries of persecution—the
grand engines used in support of one particular system of re-
ligious opinion, to the extermination of every other. To-
.ke•ation proceeded on the direct contrary principles. Its




58 MOTION FOR THE REPEAL OP [March 2.


doctrines, he was sorry to say, even in this enlightened age,
were but of a modern date in any part or the world. Before
the reign of King William, it had not a footing in England.
The celebrated act of toleration of that reign, notwithstand-
ing the boasted liberality of its principle, was narrow, con-
fined, and incomplete. What was it but a toleration of
thirty-four articles out of thirty-nine, prescribed as the stan-
dard of belief in matters of religion ? Were any tolerated who
did not subscribe to the thirty-four articles in question ? No.
Strict and implicit conformity to these was enjoined on ac-
cepting any civil employment. Persecution, indeed, origi-
nally might be allowed to proceed on this principle of kind-
ness—to promote an unity of religious opinion, and to pre-
vent error in the important matters of Christian belief: But
did persecution ever succeed in this humane and truly chari-
table design ? Never. Toleration, on the other hand, was
founded on the broad and liberal basis of reason and philo-
sophy. It consisted in a just diffidence of our own particular
opinion, and recommended universal charity and forbearance
to the world around us. The true friend of toleration ought
never to impute evil intentions to another; whose opinions
might, in his apprehension, be attended with dangerous con-
sequences. The man professing such opinions, might not be
aware of any evil attached to his principles; and therefore, to
ascribe to such a person any hostile intention, when his opi-
nions only might be liable to exception, was but the height of
illiberality and uncharitableness.


Thus, much obloquy and unfounded calumny had been
used to asperse the character of the Roman Catholics, on ac-
count of the supposed tendency of their religions tenets to the
commission of murder, treason, and every other species of
horrid crimes, from a principle of conscience. What was
this, but a base imputation of evil intentions, from the uncha-
ritable opinions entertained of that profession as a sect ? He
lamented their errors; rejected their opinions, which appeared
dangerous ; was ready to confide in their good professions ;
and was willing to appeal to the experience of this enlightened
age, if they had not been accused unjustly, and condemned
uncharitably. For, would any man say, that every duty of
morality was not practised in those countries in which the Ro-
man catholic religion was established and professed? Would
it not be an imputation as palpably false, as it would be illi-
beral, for any one to utter such a foul, unmerited, and indis-
criminate calumny? But this was always the haughty, arro-
gant, and illiberal language of persecution, which led men to
judge uncharitably, and to act with bitter intolerance. Per-
secution always said, " I know the consequences of your


1790.3 THE TEST AND CORPORATION ACTS. 59


4‘ opinion better than you know them yourselves." . But the Ian-
cruacte of toleration was always amicable, liberal, and just ; it
confessed its doubts, and acknowledged its ignorance. It
said, " Though I dislike your opinions, because I think them


dangerous, yet, since you profess such opinions, I will
" not believe you can think such dangerous inferences flow
" from them, which strike my attention so forcibly." This
was truly a just and legitimate mode of reasoning, always less
liable to error, and more adapted to human affairs. When
we argued a posteriori, judging from the fruit to the tree,
from the effect to the cause, we were not so subject to deviate
into error and falsehood, as when we pursued the contrary
method of argument. Yet, persecution had always reasoned
from cause to effect, from opinion to action, which proved
generally erroneous; while toleration led us invariably to form
just conclusions, by judging from actions and not from opi-
nions. Hence every political and religious test were extremely
absurd ; and the only test, in his opinion, to be adopted,
ought to be a man's actions.


Ile had the most perfect conviction, that test laws had no-
thing to do with civil affairs. A view of civil society through-
out the world must convince every reasonable person, that
speculative opinions in religion had little or no influence upon
the moral conduct; without which all religion were vain.
Such was the great absurdity of the present test laws, that a
man who favoured arbitrary power in his sentiments; who
should consider the abolition of trial by jury as no violation of
liberty; nor the invasion of the freedom and law of parlia-
ment any infraction of the constitution; — such a man, in
defiance of the present test laws, might easily pave his way to
the very first situations in the state. There was no political
test to bind him; the custom of the country had deservedly
exploded such absurd restraints. No alarm was excited by
political speculations : the law considered no man's opinions
either hostile or injurious to the state, until such opinions were
reduced into action. Then, and then only, was the law
armed with competent authority to punish the offender.


Should it be argued, that certain religious opinions might
indirectly affect the constitution of the established church,
were all sects admitted alike to hold civil employments, with-
out conforming to the test laws, he should contend, that the
constitution was equally in danger from civil opinions. Every
member of parliament was required to declare his dissent to
the doctrine of transubstantiation ; but, was the speculative
opinion of any member of the House any consideration to his
constituents? Did they think it of any consequence whether
or not he believed in the real presence ? whether he was a.




6o MOTION FOR THE REPEAL Or
[March 2.


trinitarian, an unitarian, or an anabaptist ? Certainly not.
For whatever a man's opinions might be, he would repeat his
former affirmation, that no harm , could possibly arise from
them to the state, unless they should be brought into action ;
and then they certainly would become objects of punishment.
To exclude any description of men, therefore, from a parti-
cipation of the common rights which their fellow-citizens en-
joyed was highly unjust and oppressive; unless it were con-
tended that religious opinions ought to be taken as the crite-
rion of political principles. But, to judge of morals from
opinion, was always a fallacious mode of reasoning. The
House, he trusted, would never abandon general and funda-
mental principles on the ground of partiality. They should
judge of men not 11 .0111 the imputations of their adversaries, but
from their own conduct.


The object of the test laws, at first, had been to exclude
anti-monarchical men from civil offices ; but he would ever
reprobate such a procedure; it was acting under false pre-
tences ; its tendency led to hypocrisy, and served as a re-
straint upon the good and conscientious only. Instead of a
formal and direct oath of allegiance, there was an indi-
rect, political test resorted to, by means of a religious
test ; although the obligation of all direct political tests
had been justly exploded by the practice of the country.
Why not have proposed a monarchical test at once? It
would have answered the end far more effectually than the
present test; for the test now given, went only to guess at a
man's opinion : it might admit those whose political sentiments
might be inimical to the constitution, while it operated di-
rectly against others who were amongst its staunchest friends.
Such was the absurdity, injustice, and oppression of the pre-
sent test laws, that he sincerely hoped every friend of tolera-
tion, every advocate of Christian charity, would join with him
that day in reprobating measures which were the disgrace of a
free government.


He should decline all minute detail of the loyalty and good
conduct of the dissenters, from the revolution to the present
period, as he wished all merit and demerit to be put entirely
out of the question. Supposing, indeed, demerit had existed,
it would by no means follow, that the test laws ought to be
continued in force, since they operated to the prejudice•of the
civil rights of a body of men. A report had been but too suc-
cessfully propagated, he verily believed, with an intention to
separate individuals from the cause they had espoused. It was
a mean and unfair attempt; it led to the worst species of per-
secution; and he sincerely hoped, no real friend to toleration


2790.]


THE TEST AND CORPORATION ACTS.


would ever countenance it : for it went so far as to disapprove
of a whole body, ' on account of the conduct of individuals,
who formed a part only of that body. The opinions of
another, in matters of religion, ought always to be supposed
to be founded on good intentions. As unjustly would it be
to deprive a single individual, whose conduct had always been
meritorious, of any of his civil rights, on account of any ex-
ceptionable conduct in the general body to which he belonged.
All merit or demerit, therefore, in the body of dissenters was
quite out of the question; and the House had only to decide
on general principles.


Indisposed, however, as he was to allow merit. or demerit
any weight in the discussion of the present question, yet he
could not forbear observing, that the Conduct of the dissenters
had not only been unexceptionable, but also highly meritorious.
They had deserved well of their country. When plots had
been concerted, combinations formed, and insurrections raised
against the state ; when the whole country was in a state of
alarm, distraction, and trouble; when the constitution, both
ecclesiastical and civil; was in immediate danger of subversion;
when the monarch trembled for the safety of his throne, crown,
and dignity, the dissenters, instead of being concerned in the
dangerous machinations forming against the government,
proved themselves, in the hour of peril and emergency, the
firmest support of the state. During the rebellions of 1715
and x 745 they cheerfully had exposed their persons, lives,
and property, in defence of their king and country ; and by
their noble exertions oar enemies were defeated, our consti-
tution preserved, and the Brunswick tinnily continued in pos-
session of the throne. They were then, as they are now, in-
capacitated from holding commissions, civil or military, in the
service of their country. Did they plead their incapacity, and
the penalties to which they were subject? No: they freely
drew their swords : they nobly transgressed the laws which
proscribed them ; and successfully fought • the battles of our
constitution. For this gallant behaviour all the retribution
they ever obtained was an act of indemnity—a pardon for
doing their duty as good citizens, in rescuing their country in
the hour of danger and distress ! Such were the absurdities of
the laws framed on the monstrous principles of persecution,
which extend equally to the commissioned officers of the army
and navy, of the established church of Scotland, who are
obliged, under the penalty of fine and deprivation of their
civil rights as citizens, as much as the dissenters, to conform
to the test laws. Though the generosity of the British par-
liament had been conspicuous in pardoning the dissenters for
their .


illegal display of bravery and loyalty, in the season of




62 MOTION FOR THE REPEAL or March 2,


emergence and apprehension, yet the officers belonging to then
church of Scotland had not experienced the same indulgence;
no act of indemnity had been passed in their favour. The
test laws, indeed, were not put in force against them ; yet
they were liable to penalties and incapacities, in consequence
of their acceptance of their respective civil offices. The
House ought to relieve those men, to whom they were so
much indebted, from the degrading necessity of receiving par-
don for their meritorious services as good subjects and citi-
zens. The Irish had set us a noble example of liberality and
generosity, by their vote declaring every man who should
prosecute a dissenter for his services an enemy to his country
and a jacobite.


By the repeal of the test laws, what could there be to dread ?
Would we fear the pope or pretender ? Would the appre-
hension of a civil or foreign war he the necessary consequence?
King William, in one of his speeches from the throne, ex-
pressed a wish to employ dissenters of every denomination in
the service of the country. Every prince of the line of Bruns-
wick had cordially concurred in the same generous desire with
that monarch. Now was the properest moment to exercise
such liberality as a complete toleration required. The con-
duct of the dissenters had been uniformly peaceable; the state
had nothing to apprehend either from their disloyalty or am-
bition. He wished he could say as much of all other sects.
The high church party, which had happily been dormant for
a great number of years, was now reviving ; it had not been
dead, as he had hoped, but bad only for a time, it seems, lain
asleep. Their constant cry had ever been, " The church is in
danger!" He was sorry to obs.erve some dignitaries of the
church, men of distinguished talents, whom he held in great
respect, join in the absurd alarm, and express their Affected
and chimerical apprehension of danger upon the present occa-
sion. Were there not many avowed dissenters both in that
and the other house of parliament ? Yet no danger was ever
entertained from that circumstance to the constitution. " But,"
say the party, " if you make a dissenter an exciseman, there
will be danger." The high church party were, in the general,
jacobites ; the avowed advocates of the doctrines of passive
obedience and non-resistance. This reminded him of what
Dean Swift had said, in his usual spirit of sarcasm, " That
" though every whig might not be an infidel, yet he was
" sure every infidel was a whig." So with much more
truth it might be said, " Though every high churchman
might not be a jacobite, yet every Jacobite most certainly was
a high churchman." While this party were hostile to the
reigning family, and active in exciting tumults, 'insurrec-


I 1,


179o.] THE TEST AND CORPORATION ACTS. 63


Lions, and rebellions, the dissenters had distinguished them-
selves as good, peaceable, faithful, and loyal subjects. Yet
the party were allowed, in this enlightened age, again to sound
their false alarm, 'to repeat their senseless cry of the church
being in danger !


The sentiments of Hoadley, and other dignitaries of his
time, he had thought sufficient to make the clergy forget their
dull and idle cant, by convincing thorn of the absurdity of all
religious tests. Danger was apprehended to the church from
the supine indolence of the clergy, and the superior activity
and zeal of the dissenters in the discharge of the duties of their
sacred functions. To fetter the dissenters with penalties and
incapacities, on account of the remissness of the established
clergy, was a measure replete with cruelty, absurdity, and in-
justice ; it went upon the principles of making one man sufferfor the neglect of another. He ridiculed every idea of danger
to the church from a repeal of the test laws. The dissenters
were less numerous as a body; and had little or no power, when
compared with the authority and affluence of the church. He
was sorry to observe bishops, deans, prebends, and other dig-
nitaries of the church, who were in possession of great landed
estates and splendid establishments, so ready to stand for-
ward the avowed advocates of oppression and persecution,
under the false pretence of danger. Whence could the dan-
ger arise? He defied an y one to prove it. At the Union,
two churches had been established in different parts of Great
Britain. He would ever commend the enlightened policy of
that time, which allowed both the kirk in Scotland and the
hierarchy in England to be religions equally true, The epis-
copalians in Scotland had an equal right with the members of
the kirk to the acceptance and enjoyment of civil offices.
There existed no religious test in Scotland; there was there-
fore no act of indemnity necessary to justify the episcopalians
for their patriotic services during the rebellions. From the
conduct of the kirk, it could not be argued, that those whose
religious principles were at variance with the creed of the
Engli sh hierarchy were enemies to toleration.


The dissenters were said to be always strenuous advocates
for toleration when out of power, but capable of great
intolerance when in posession of authority. Was this the
fact? Quite otherwise. In America, what was their conduct?
They were in full possession of power ; but were they at all
intolerant ? No. So far from it, that universal toleration pre.,
vailed throughout every province, without any disadvantage
to the government of the states. Notwithstanding the great-
.est diversity of religious opinions, the most cordial unani-
mity prevailed in all their civil operations. In Ireland, too,




64 MOTION role THE REPEAL OF [March 2,
the test had been repealed for years, and the church had been
in no danger, though surrounded by dissenters in an infi-
nitely greater proportion than in this country. If, therefore,
the church of Ireland, under such disproportion of numbers,
had so long existed, without danger from the repeal of the
test laws; and if the kirk of Scotland, with little power and
influence, had done the same, was it not absurd in the ex-
treme to say that the established church of England, with all
its power, wealth, and numbers, could not do the same thing,
without endangering its existence? Such fears, he would repeat,
were idle and chimerical, asserted only, in his opinion, for the
purposes of oppression.


With regard to the church itself, lie highly approved of its
discipline and abstract duties. It bad wisely avoided all that was
superstitious, and retained what appeared to him to be essen-
tial. He therefore admired and revered it, and declared him-
self firmly attached to it : but of the individuals who composed
it he must say of them, as of all other public bodies, that while
he highly respected some, there might be others who could
have no claim to his regard. They, no doubt, were a mixture
of good and bad ; he must, however, strongly object to the
church, whenever it presumed to act as a party ; its interfer-
ence in politics had been always -mischievous, and often dan-
gerous to the constitution. The church, as a party, was a
formidable body; it had formerly, as now, used the powerful
engine of their real or pretended fear, Which, in the hands
of tyrants, had ever proved the signal of oppression. The
church had long taken the lead in the cause of jacobitism,
and in the reign of Queen Anne had been active in the
instigation of tumults and confusion, in support of the doc-
trines of arbitrary power. He ever should be a decided friend
to an established religion, but it should be an establishment
founded on the opinions of the majority of the people. The
truth of religion was not a subject for the discussion of par-
liament; their duty only was to sanction that which was most
universally approved, and to allow it the emoluments of the
state. A conviction of the reasonableness of such a procedure,
dictated so much liberality in the religions establishments at
the union, as well as the more recent establishment of the
Roman catholic religion in Canada.


Innovations were said to be dangerous at all times, but par-
ticularly so now by the situation of affairs in France. But
the hopes of the dissenters were not Jimmied upon the most
distant reference to the transactions which had taken place in
that kingdom. Their application to the House, on the pre-
sent subject, had been made three years ago,''' when the most


t Sec Vol. p.3£0.


I 790.1 THE TEST AND CORPORATION ACTS.
65


sagacious . among them could not form any thing like a conjec-
ture of what had since happened in that country. Yet he saw
no reason why the example of France ought not to have its in-
fluence; the church there was now suffering for its former in-
tolerance. However he might rejoice in the emancipation of
near thirty millions of his fellow creatures, and in the spirit
which gave rise to the Revolution; yet he was free to own
there were some acts of the new government which he could
not applaud. The summary and indiscriminate forfeiture of
the property of the church came under this description. But
the violence of this proceeding might, in some measure, be at-
tributed to former ecclesiastical oppressions; and, in particu-
lar, to the impolitic revocation of the edict of Nantes. The
constitution, both civil and ecclesiastical, previous to this
period, had remained unmolested and unimpaired ; there ex-
isted no test : protestants and catholics were indiscriminately
admitted into civil and military offices : but by that rash mea-
sure, liberality and toleration were thrown away; the arts and
manufactures were driven into other countries, to flourish in a
more genial soil and under a milder form of government.
This should serve as a caution to the church of England.
Persecution might prevail for a time, but it generally termi-
*hated in the punishment of its abettors.


He observed, that the church had owed its existence to a
rational innovation, and the constitution had derived much of
its excellence and beauty from the same source ; the Reforma-
tion had established the one, and the Revolution the other.
The nature of monarchy was such, as to require an occasional
renovation of the people's rights, to prevent encroachments.
It was the opinion of Mr. Hume, to whose talents, as a phi-
losopher, he paid just deference, that monarchy would soon
become absolute, if not subject to frequent innovations. But
what was the innovation which was now so much dreaded ? Was
it an attack on Magna Charta, or the Bill of Rights? No.
It was only the simple repeal of an act of Charles IL which
the parliament passed out of compliment to the king, in the
overflowing effusion of their loyalty, at .the conclusion of the
civil war. The corporation act went to exclude dissenters
whose political sentiments were considered as anti-monarchi-
cal; and the test act was intended to operate against the
Roman catholics. He should ever reprobate such acts as
the pillars of the constitution. What ! was any specific
mode Of administering the Lord's Supper, to be considered as
the corner-stone of the constitution ? A constitution with
such a rotten foundation, was, in his opinion, not worth
preserving. The leading feature of true religion, he had al-
ways understood to be charity. When he viewed the church,


VOL. iv.




66 MOTION FOR THE REPEAL Or [March 2.


and saw churchmen discovering a spirit directly opposite to the
religion they professed, he must consider them as men who
were ambitious of a monopoly of power, under the mask
of an affected apprehension of danger. The christian reli-
gion breathed nothing but charity and forbearance ; it was
neither taught originally to kings and senators, nor bad it
any necessary connection with government. It had existed
for centuries, without any assistance from the secular arm.
Though a learned prelate, Bishop Warburton, had proposed
a decent and honourable alliance beween the church and
state ; yet it was not an alliance founded on the purity of
the christian doctrines, but merely on promises of mutual sup-
port. According to this new-fangled doctrine, the church
was not to depend upon its own merits ; nor was religion to be
established by the truth of its own evidence; but it was to be
supported by the assistance of civil authority. Was this the
manner in which Christianity was first propagated ? In its in-
fancy, when it had to combat the prejudices of mankind, and
to make its way through an infinite number of other obsta-
cles, was its progress indebted for any support from the in-
dulgence of the Roman emperors senate? For a christian
prelate, then, to appeal from the truth of the scriptures to
the authority of secular power, in support of the christian
religion, was • an idea he should ever reprobate, as contemp-
tible and shameful. Religion, in his opinion, had no re-
ference whatever to the political constitution of a state: from
such an alliance, it would contaminate and be contaminated ;
the one would be corrupted, and the other enslaved.


The clergy, he was sorry to observe, had uniformly acted
with great artifice and duplicity, down from the time of the
Reformation; when they made their own chimerical fears,
which existed no where but in their own heated and dis-
ordered imaginations, the ground of unprovoked and un-
merited persecution. Report said, but he sincerely hoped
without foundation, that a certain prelate of the church
(St. David's) had recently written a circular letter X to the


* Copy of a letter from Dr. Horsley, Bishop of St. David's, to the
Clergy of his Diocese:


" Sir William Mansell has declared himself a candidate to represent the
borough of Carmarthen in the next parliament. I cannot refrain from de-
daring, that he has my heartiest good wishes. Mr. Phillips, the present
member, has received the thanks of the dissenters for the part he took in
the late attempt to overthrow our ecclesiastical constitution, by the repeal
of the Corporation and Test acts. By this, it is easy to guess what part he
is likely to take in any future attempt for that purpose. I hope I shall not
have the mortification to find a sin gle clergyman in my diocese, who Will


79 THE TEST AND CORPORATION ACTS. E3j


clergy of his diocese, requiring them to withhold their votes
and interests at the next general election from a particular
member of that House, for his having voted for the present
motion, when under discussion during the last session. If
innovation was a subject of so much dread, what i n novation
could be more alarming to the constitution than this prece-
dent of an English bishop, interfering not only in an election
for a member of parliament, in direct violation of the privi-
leges of that House, but also presuming to marshal his eccle-
siastical tribe in civil array, and denouncing his anathemas
against every one who should be of opinion that the civil power
could exist independently of the authority of the church ?
Such antichristian conduct was ill calculated to remove the
spirit of party and of faction, with which the dissenters must
be actuated, under the pressure of grievance, oppression, and
persecution. Many of the dissenters, he was persuaded, were
friendly to the church establishment; but by such intolerance,
they might be driven to entertain the most inveterate enmity.
If their influence and opposition were now dreaded, how
much more so ought they to be, when roused into resentment,
irritated into hatred, and persecuted into hostility ? It had
often proved a matter of lamentation to high churchmen, and
it had been complained of as a grievance, that dissenters had,
on some occasions, conformed to the test laws. It was rather
a delicate point for any clergyman to scruple complying with
an application for the administration of the sacrament ; though
in some instances, a refusal had been made, on the ground of
immorality. But lie must condemn such a political establish-
ment, which required a man to go to our church, while he
belonged to a sect which, perhaps, held tenets diametrically
opposite ; it was a direct method to promote vice, immorality,
and profaneness. The abuse of so much power, too, in the
hands of the clergy, might be attended with infinite mischief
The repeal of the test laws, it was said, would inevitably prove
an infringement of the union. But this was a palpable and
egregious error. So far were the test laws from being among
the essential articles of the union, that when they were for-
mally proposed to become perpetual, they were rejected.


Some stress had been laid on the writings and opinions of
certain individuals among the dissenters, who had publicly
avowed their opposition to the church establishment. Dr.


be so false to his own character, and his duty to the established church,
as to give his vote to any man who has discovered such principles. I am,
reverend sir, your affectionate brother, and faithful servant,


Aberguilly,
SAMUEL Sr. DAvin's.'7


August 54 , 1789.
F 2




68 MOTION FOR THE REPEAL OF [March 2.
Priestley had been particularly pointed out as an objectionable
character in this respect. But what danger could possibly
arise from the adverse opinions. of this truly eminent and
learned gentleman, to the hierarchy? Was it any proof of a
design to subvert the ecclesiastical constitution? No. Any
person might disapprove of our civil constitution ; might ob-
ject to the popular part of our government ; might avow his
sentiments ever so openly ; and yet be not liable to any civil
incapacity. A noble duke (Richmond,) high in office, had
attempted a reform in the constitution of the legislature; the
chancellor of the exchequer had done the same; but the
patriotic exertions of both had failed of success; yet, from
their opinions, no danger had been apprehended to the con-
stitution. After such an instance, then, of what little influ-
ence opinions have on practice, we might as safely allow Dr.
Priestley to be at the head of the church, as the present minis-
ter at the head of the treasury; as the opinions of the one
were not morehostile to the hierarchy, than those of the other
had been to the present constitution of the legislature.
Another reverend gentleman, (Dr. Price,) in his sermon on the
anniversary of the Revolution, had delivered many noble sen-
timents, worthy an enlightened philosopher, who was uncon-
fined by local attachments, and gloried in the freedom of all
the human race. Though he approved of his general princi-
ples, yet be considered his arguments would have better be-
come his speech than a sermon. To make of the pulpit, the
altar, or sacramental table, political engines, he must ever
condemn, whether in a-dissenter or a churchman. The clergy,
in their sermons, ought no more to handle political topics,
than the House to discuss subjects of morality and religion.
Arguing as he had done against the prostitution of the sacra-
mental test, religion and politics ought ever to be kept
.separate.


Whatever might be the fate of the present question, of this
be was fully confident, that if the test laws were once repealed,
the jealousy of the church would be at an end ; if the barrier
of partition was removed, the very name of dissenter would
be no more. Should the majority of the House, however,
determine in favour of the continuance of the test laws, it
would only serve to keep alive a spirit of animosity between
the parties; it might lead to stronger exertions in defence of
civil rights; and other applications to the wisdom and justice
of the legislature must be the necessary consequence. Sonic
distinguished writers upon the subject had asserted, that as
the test laws had received the sanction of parliament, it was
the ditty of the dissenters quietly and implicitly to sub-
mit. But was 'hot this doctrine repugnant to tile privilege,


790.] THE TEST AND CORPORATION ACTS. 69
which was the boast of every British subject, of petitioning the
legislature, when oppressed or aggrieved by any law? There
was an end to our liberty at once, if we durst neither com-
plain of grievance, nor petition for redress. The dissenters,
he hoped, would strenuously persevere in their applications,
until they found the object of their wishes gratified in a com-
plete toleration. In pleading their cause, he had only sup-
ported the principles of general toleration, and the universal
rights of mankind.


In all the great political questions which he had had the
honour to introduce for the discussion of parliament, be had
always had the good fortune to agree in opinion with, and to
experience the support of, all those friends to whom he was at-
tached from principles. Though he should ever glory in the
name of a Whig, as an honourable distinction which character-
ized the advocates of civil and religious liberty; though it was
the pride of his life to act with the cordial approbation of the
party to whom he belonged ; yet, a right honourable friend
(Mr. Burke), whose opinions always had the greatest .weight
with him, did not think as he did on the present question.
Much, however, as he respected his opinions, and highly as
he thought of his understanding, yet, in every contest where
liberty and the civil rights of men were involved, he should
ever enlist under the same standard, however formidable his
opponents in the ranks. In the part he had that day taken,
the tongue of slander might possibly represent him as another
Oliver Cromwell attacking the church ; he had been compared
to that usurper on a former occasion, as attacking the crown,
even by the very men whose cause he was now pleading.
Their cause, however, he had undertaken, from a conviction
that it was a just cause; and he should be ever ready to
become the advocate of those churchmen, who might now
perhaps load him with obloquy, whenever he saw them in real
danger. - He would now cheerfully submit to the disadvan-
tage of momentary unpopularity, confident that the time was
not very distant, when the world would do ample justice to
his motives. He then concluded, with moving, " That the
" House will immediately resolve itself into a committee of
" the whole House, to consider of so much of the said acts as
" requires persons, before their admission into any office, civil
" or military, or any place of trust, under the crown, to re-
" ceive the sacrament of the Lord's supper, according to the
" rites of the church of England."


The motion was supported by Sir H. Hoghton, Mr. Beauroy,
Mr. William Smith and others; and opposed principally by Mr.
Pitt, Mr. Powys, Mr. Yorke and Sir William Dolben. Mr. Burke


F 3




70 MOTION FOR THE REPEAL OF [March 2,
concurred with Mr. Fox upon the general ground of many of his
arguments respecting.toleration, and declared, that had the repeal
been moved for ten years ago, he should probably have joined him
in supporting it ; but he had the strongest reasons to believe, that
many of the persons now calling themselves dissenters, and who
stood the most forward in the present application for relief, were
men of factious and dangerous principles, actuated by no motives
of religion or conscience, to which toleration could in any rational
sense be applied. He also agreed with Mr. Fox, that men were
not to be judged merely by their speculative opinions, but by their
opinions and conduct taken together. He then produced and
read to the House, several documents to substantiate the allega-
tions he had before made.


Mr. Fox rose to reply. He began with observing, that
however exhausted and fatigued he might feel himself from
the length of the debate, at that late hour, yet with the strength
he had remaining, he would exert his best endeavours to an-
swer every argument that had been advanced against the mo-
tion which he had that day the honour to make. There had
been certain points in which he had been misunderstood, and
many of his arguments had been unfairly stated. This might
be owing to an inaccuracy in his method of laying down his
positions, and not to any intention of misrepresenting his tw-
at' ent


• -
• He had contended, upon the principle of toleration,


that we were not warranted in deducing inferences from men's
opinions contrary to their professions ; unless their conduci
and principles disagreed. The chancellor of the exchequer
had gone the length of arguing that we might deduce infer-
ences from our own opinions of the effect of the conduct of an
adversary, without attending to his actions; whereas we ought
to give every man credit for his conduct, until his actions con-
tradicted his professions. The dissenters ask for a simple repeal
of the test laws. The minister's argument went upon this
ground —if the dissenters obtain the object of their present
application, they would be encouraged to grasp at more; and
there was reason to apprehend from their principles that they
would not relax in their endeavours, until they had completely
subverted the present establishment. But this was not the de-
claration of the dissenters; it was merely the unfair inference
of the minister, judging of evil intentions from men's opinions,
and not from their actions. Prom the argument of the right
honourable gentleman last year, and the points upon which
he had then principally insisted, he had been induced to meet
his objection, and therefore he had set out with laying down
the principle of toleration in opposition to that of persecution.
In explaining himself upon this subject, he had endeavoured
to prove, that if the principle of persecution, as generally re-


1790.] THE TEST AND CORPORATION ACTS. 71


ceived and understood, was originally a right principle, then
it would follow that the bloody transactions which took place
in the reign of Charles IX., such as the massacre of Paris,
and the murder of the protestants ; as well as the cruelties of
Smithfield, and other places, were all mild, benevolent, and
merciful acts. If the original principle ofpersecution extended
to such unjustifiable enormities, must it not be palpably wrong?
He then abandoned such a principle as untenable; and argued
upon that of toleration. But, in calling the repeal of the test
laws a question of toleration, he might not be exactly accurate.
Though it might not come within the extent of the true prin-
ciple of religious toleration, yet of this he was confident, that
it was a question of justice, upon which the claim of the dis-
senters was well-founded, to the indulgence of the House.


Upon this nice and subtile distinction, however, an objec-
tion had been urged by the right honourable gentleman
against his motion, which was nothing but specious sophistry
and inconclusive reasoning. He should ever protest against
the principle of prejudging the conduct of another from his
opinions, when his conduct and declarations were directly
the reverse—to say any man intended mischief when he pro-
fessed friendship, and especially if his conduct accorded with
such a declaration, was very unfair and unjust. A resem-
blance had been attempted to be drawn between a religious
test and an oath. But in what did it consist? In taking an
oath, it was true, a man made a religious appeal; but it al-
ways was an appeal to his own religion. A Jew was sworn
upon the Old Testament; the greater number of Christians
upon the Evangelists; the Quaker by his own affirmation ;
and the Mahometan upon the Alcoran. The solemnity of
an oath was allowed every conscientious man, to be taken
agreeably to his own particular mode of religion. Where then
was the analogy between a religious test and the taking of an
oath ? Was it any thing like men of different persuasions,
professing different creeds, submitting to the sacramental
test ? Certainly not. Here the right honourable gentleman's
ingenuity and sophistry had also failed him.


An honourable baronet had thought it necessary to enter
into an elaborate defence of the respectability of the clergy as
a body. Had there been attempted any general attack upon
the church ? No. In speaking of the church he had only
animadverted upon its conduct, when it presumed to act as a
party. He should ever reprobate the principles and conduct
of the high church party, who had uniformly distinguished
themselves as inimical to the constitution, and to the civil
rights of the subject. But in that class of the clergy denomi-
nated the low church, there had been men of liberality


F 4




7 2 MOTION Fon. THE REPEAL OF
[March 2•


and talents whom he should ever hold in the greatest respect.
They were worthy members of the church; had proved them-
selves distinguishingly instrumental in the establishment of
political freedom, at the Revolution. Many now in this party,
he understood, were sincere friends to his motion; and had
heartily joined in the intreaty of the dissenters to bring the
subject forward. He was happy to find that there were
clergymen of such liberality of spirit and disposition in the
present clay. An honourable gentleman had observed, that
the subjects of the test and corporation acts had better have
been discussed separately. He could not forbear expressing
his surprise at this observation : as the subjects of both acts
were so intimately connected and involved, in his opinion, as
to present themselves fitter for consideration and discussion to-
gether than separate. If they were to be considered separately-,
the corporation act appeared to him the most exceptionable
in a constitutional point of view; as a restriction upon the
subject in the exercise of a natural right ought to be regarded
in that House with a greater degree of jealousy, than even a
restriction upon the king in the exercise of his royal prero-
gative.


What he had heard with the greatest concern in the course
of that evening's debate, had been the speech of his right ho-
nourable friend (Mr. Burke). It had filled him with grief
and shame. Sentiments had been uttered which he could
have wished to have remained a secret for ever. Though he
was indebted to his right honourable friend for the greatest
share of the political knowledge he possessed,—his political
education had been formed under him,—his instructions had
invariably governed his principles; yet, mortified as he bad
been by his speech of that evening, he had, however, received
this consolation from it, that every principle which he had
laid down, had been avowed by his right honourable friend
in the course of his speech. While he had stated his princi-
ples, and bad argued from au application of inferences dedu-
cible from those principles, his right honourable friend had,
on the contrary, taken pamphlets, private letters, anecdotes,
conjectures, suspicions, and invectives, for the materials of his
speech ; which he had worked up with all the charms of
fancy and the embellishments of oratory, for which his right
honourable friend was so eminently distinguished. Such' had
been the grounds upon which he had founded his opposition
to the motion under discussion, to which he declared he
should have been a friend ten years ago. What did this
prove? but that he had retained his opinion upon the subject
ten years longer than his right honourable friend. With
respect to the anecdotes quoted of the Duke of Richmond,


1790:] THE TEST AND CORPORATION ACTS. 73


having addressed a singular speech to the bishops during the
American war, he saw an analogy between that story and the
argument of this' day.


The conduct of the dissenters in declaring that, at the next
general election, they would only support men who were well
affected to the cause of civil and religious liberty, he did not
see liable either to objection or censure. 11e was astonished
to hear gentlemen talk of this as a test imposed by the dis-
senters upon their representatives. Did not gentlemen on
the other side the House declare in the course of the debate,
that, in their own opinions, they were friendly to the motion;
yet, in obedience to the instructions of their constituents, who
were churchmen, they considered themselves as bound to op-
pose it. 'Was not this imposing a test? How different the
conduct of the dissenters, who were the constituents of the
honourable gentlemen, Messrs. Windham and Tierney, who
assured them they might vote on this question according to
their conscience ! He wished churchmen had shewn as much
liberality. In Dr. Priestley's manly declaration of his indivi-
dual opinion, expressive of dislike . of establishments, he saw
no criminality whatever. Any man might avow his dislike
of any civil institution; but as long as his opinion was not
brought into action there could be no criminality. If such
conduct was criminal, he desired to be considered as a parti-
cipator in the guilt.


The production of the letter of Mr. Fletcher from Bolton,
by his right honourable friend, he acknowledged, did not a
little surprise him ; for if ever there was a paper which fur-
nished an argument in favour of the question, that letter was
one. He had never heard of the name or conduct of Mr.
Fletcher before; but if any argument could be depended on,
.that which Mr. Fletcher had urged was essential, in his opi-
nion, towards proving, that those dissenters who deserve well
of the legislature, ought to be separated from those who are
not inclined to be content with the simple repeal of the test
laws. What had been the argument of his right honourable
friend, in a debate during the American war, by which he
had done himself infinite honour ? It was a doctrine, prima
facie, which appeared an absolute paradox, but founded, not-
withstanding, in true wisdom and sound policy. The subject
was the division of Massachusetts' Bay from the province of
New York and others. " What !" said his right honourable
friend, " separate Massachusetts' Bay from New York, with
a view to adopt this weak and absurd maxim, divide et 111.•
Per a ? I scout the idea—I never will consent to it; but I
will a gree to the division of America." The House imaginingy
/ right honourable friend had committed a blunder, continued




a


4


I


1790.] THE TEST AND CORPORATION ACTS. 75


for some time in a roar of laughter. But what was his explana-
tion ? It was this : " I will divide America, not by separating
Massachusett's Bay from the other provinces, but by abandoning
the disloyal and disaffected provinces, and preserving those
which are well disposed to us, not by any coercion, but by
granting them all they wish for." The same prudent advice
would be politic for the House to adopt in regard to the dis-
senters. Separate the dissenters—break their union—aban-
don those who are unreasonable—and grant to all such as
are moderate all they so justly require. I verily believe, said
Mr. Fox, if you repeal the test laws, there will be an end of
all farther claim of the dissenters to the indulgence of the le-
gislature. But this, lie desired to be understood, was only.
his own speculative opinion, and not any pledge offered to the
House,


liberty
by any declaration of the dissenters ; they


were at iberty o lend as much credit as they thought proper
to this opinion.


But how was the strange dereliction of his right honourable
friend from his former principles to be accounted for ? He
could only ascribe it to the effect of his too great and nice
sensibility; whose chief delight had always been benevolence
and mercy ; whose feelings had been shocked and irritated by
a mistaken idea of the transactions in France, which had
been nothing more than the miseries to which every country
was unavoidably subject, upon every revolution in its govern-
ment, before the new constitution had acquired its full opera-
tion and establishment. The imagination of his right ho-
nourable friend had eagerly caught hold of such objects, and,
in contemplating the ruin of the government, the desolation
of the church, the misery of the beggared ecclesiastics, and.
the general distresses of the inhabitants, he had actually lost
the energy of his natural judgment, through the exquisite
acuteness of his feelings; otherwise, a person of his great good
sense could never have been so led astray into enmity against
the just cause of the dissenters, as a body, merely because
Dr. Priestley, Mr. Palmer, and Mr. Robinson happened to
differ from him in their speculative opinions. The assurance
of the dissenting ministers, when the bill passed about fourteen
years ago, respecting dissenting teachers and schoolmasters,
that they would apply no more for themselves, had been very
unfairly and disingenuously applied in argument by the right
honourable gentleman opposite to him. Did the present ap-
plication come, as that had done, specifically from the dissent-
ing ministers ? The extract read from Dr. Kippis did not go
to preclude the ministers from joining their lay brethren in
an: application to the legislature for a matter of general relief.
The dissenting ministers, from the repeal of the test laws, had


no emolument to expect, nor any advantage, civil or religious,
to gain. They had been perfectly consistent with their as-
surances; their claims, as ministers, were perfectly distinct
from those of their lay brethren; and the right honourable
gentleman ought not to have confounded them, in order to
tax them with a breach of good faith.


The allusion to the conduct of Lord George Gordon, and
the riots in 1 7 80, lie could not suffer to pass unnoticed. It
was insinuated that the mob resembled the dissenters ; the
fact was quite otherwise. If there were any resemblance in
the case, it was this : the clergy of the established church
stood in the shoes of the snob; but the dissenters in those of
the poor persecuted Roman catholics. He remembered, with
pleasure, the conduct of his right honourable friend upon
that occasion "; it reflected upon his friend's character great
honour; for, in defiance of the rage and madness of the
mob, lie persevered in the laudable purpose in which the
House were then engaged, of extending toleration to the Ro-
man catholics. The mob then were illiberally insisting upon
a repeal of a good law ; the members of the established church
were now as illiberally objecting to the repeal of a bad law.
All unprincipled mobs he should ever regard with extreme
horror and indignation ; their cry was still the same, whether
they were peasants, gentlemen, or bishops. Ignorance, pre-
judice, or fanaticism, were their general topics of declamation.
From the violence of their rage, the God of peace and order
ever preserve us ! Mr. Fox, congratulating himself on hav-
ing been selected by men who had - rather acted as his enemies
than friends, to fight their battles, concluded with assuring
them, that so sincerely was he a friend to their cause, that
he should be ever ready, on any future occasion, to take the
held for them again ; under the clearest conviction that their


On the Gth of June 1 7 80, during the riots, a detachment of foot
guards took possession of Westminster-hall, the doors of which they at
last closed to prevent the mob entering there: several members of both
douses who walked down on foot were thus prevented from getting into
the House for a considerable time, among whom was Mr. Burke, who was
presently surrounded by some of the most decent of the petitioners, who
expostulated with him on his conduct, in abetting Sir George Savile's rno.
Lion for the Roman Catholic bill; Mr. Burke in his defence said, he cer-
tainly had seconded the motion for the bill, and thought himself justified
in so doing; he said, he understood lie was a marked man, on whom the
petitioners meant to wreak their vengeance; and therefore he walked out
singly amongst them, conscious of having done nothing that deserved their
censure in the slightest degree, having always been the advocate for the
people, and meaning to continue so. Mr. Burke at last got rid of his trou-
blesome interrogators.—See New Pad. Hist. Vol. z p. 66z.


74
MOTION FOR THE REPEAI,\OF


[March 2.




76 MOTION FOIL A REFORM IN PARLIAMENT. EMarch4.


complaint of grievance and oppression, in the present instance,
was well founded.


The House divided :
Tellers.


[Mr-. W. Smith 1YEAS
r




M 105. - NOES. Beaufoy j
So it passed in the negative.


MR. FLOOD'S MOTION FOR A REFORM IN PARLIAMENT.


March 4.


'THIS day Mr. Flood made his motion for leave to bring in a
bill to amend the representation of the people in parliament.


To supply the deficiency, both in the representative and consti-
tuent body, Mr. Flood proposed, that one hundred members should
be added, and that they should be elected by the resident house-
holders in every county. The motion was seconded by Mr. Grigby,
and opposed by Mr. Windham, who said, that if he had approved
ever so much of the right honourable gentleman's proposition for
a parliamentary reform, he should object to it on account of the
time at which he had thought proper to introduce it. What, he
said, would he advise them to repair their house in the hurricane
season ? Speculatists and visionaries enough were at work in a
neighbouring country ; there was project against project, and
theory against theory, ,frontibus odversis pugnantia : he entreated
the House to wait a little for the event, and in the mean time to guard
with all possible care against catching from them the infection.


Mr. Fox declared that he agreed with the right honoura-
ble gentleman, who was of opinion, that this was a question
extremely important to the country ; but it was, as his right
honourable friend near him had said, a question, which he
had considered as a sleeping question, for the present.
Though he held the same opinion he used to hold upon the
subject of parliamentary reform, lie thought it but fair to state,
that be believed that opinion was not the opinion of the majo-
rity either within or without doors. With regard to the ques-
tion of the Middlesex election, he differed upon it from the
right honourable gentleman who had made the motion. The
right honourable gentleman thought that the representation
ought always to depend on the majority-I now, he thought
otherwise; and therefore the right honourable gentleman, ac-
cording to his view of the case, was right in his opinidn ; and


1290.] MOTION FOR A REFORM IN PARLIAMENT. 77
ts he saw the matter in another point of view, he was in the
right in his opinion likewise. It was rather extraordinary,
that the House, for thirteen years, were in possession of a
legal opinion of the judges upon the case of the Middlesex
election, and yet, to that day, Mr. Fox said, he remained
convinced that this House was in the right, and the people
and the judges in the wrong. He declared he agreed with
the honourable gentleman, that a difference in the representa-
tion in parliament would not have prevented the commence-
ment of the American war, but that he thought that the war
would have been ended some years sooner, and that some mil-
lions would have been saved to this country, had a reform
taken place in time. Sure he was, that what happened in
1784 would never, in that case, have taken place. He had
not the honour of a personal acquaintance with the right ho-
nourable mover of the question ; but the observations he had
made on France and what was going on there, did not deserve
the sort of remarks which had fallen with so much ingenuity
from his honourable friend (Mr. Windham) --remarks which
he could scarcely have thought could have fallen from a gen-
tleman possessing the sense of his honourable friend. He
agreed with the right honourable mover with regard to the
affairs of France, and saw no reason, as some gentlemen did,
why we ought on that account to be struck with a panic. He
was one of those who, if the right honourable gentleman was
inclined to withdraw his motion, wished him to do so ; but he
would state his objection to the motion, 'that it might not
appear the same as that of the right honourable gentleman
who spoke last. He thought the present state of France no ob-
jection to proceeding with the business of reform then, because
he never could agree, that what was passing abroad, ought to
have any influence on their proceedings, m respect to their
internal and national concerns. His honourable friend had
asked, Would any man repair his house in the hurricane sea-
son? He would be glad to know, what season was more
proper to set about a repair in, than when a hurricane was near,
and might possibly burst forth. With regard to the pro-
position, the right honourable gentleman had said it would
admit of amendment, and he was indifferent how it was
fashioned, so that the sum and substance of it were adopted.
Was that any ground for conceiving that the right honourable
gentleman was only anxious for a change, no matter what'
That was a fresh proof of the truth of the right honourable
gentleman's position, which no man could deny, that the re-
presentation in parliament was inadequate ; and if it had been
perfected, he was persuaded, they should not have heard the
right honourable gentleman sarcastically glanced at by another


Tellers.
Mr. Neville
M. Powney S 294. n




0
7 8 TOBACCO EXCISE El T,L. [April i6• x 79°']




TOBACCO EXCISE BILL. 79


honourable friend of his, under the idea of a member of the
national assembly of France coining here irk the character of
a political missionary, to preach the blessings of reform. Had
the representation in that House been reformed, he was con-
vinced that every member of it, no matter what his country
was, would have been regarded only as one of the representa-
tives of the people of Great Britain, and in that House, at
least, all would have been considered as upon a level, and
each as invested with an equal right to come forward with
whatever motion he thought proper. Mr. Fox owned that he
thought the outline of the present proposition the best of all
which he had yet heard suggested. If, therefore, the question
was put, he would vote against the adjournment.


Mr. Pitt opposed the motion. Mr. Burke combated the various
arguments that had been urged in favour of the motion. He par-
ticularlycontended, that the people did not wish for any reform, and
that such attempts did not originate with, or were countenanced
by them.. He contended that the American war was a war of the
people, and that it was put an end to by the virtue of the House
of Commons, with scarce any interference of the people, and al-
most without their consent. Mr. Powys, Mr. Wilberforce, and
Mr. Secretary Grenville, spoke on the same side • and Mr. Cour-
tenay, Sir Joseph Mawbey, Mr. Martin, Mr. buncombe, and
others, for the motion. At length Mr. Flood agreed that it should
be withdrawn,


TOBACCO EXCISE BILL.


April r 6.


DURING the course of the session, a great number of petitionsfrom various parts of Great Britain, had been presented, pray-
ing for the repeal of the act for subjecting dealers in tobacco to
the excise, which had passed in the last session of parliament.
These petitions were, on the motion of Mr. Sheridan, referred to a
committee of the whole House ; and the t6th of April was fixed
for taking them into consideration. On this day Mr. Sheridan be-
gan a long and eloquent speech, with an invective against the whole
system of the excise laws ; in which he illustrated and urged with
great force all the usual topics which have been employed upon
that popular thesis. He then adverted to the peculiar hardships
of the tobacco bill. He enforced the objections which had been
made last year, by a number of allegations taken from the peti-
tions which had been presented, and information he had received
from the manufacturers themselves ; and concluded by moving,


i6


" That the survey of the excise is inapplicable to the manufacture
of tobacco." After . themotion had been opposed by Mr. Pitt, and.
powerfully supported by Sir Grey Cooper and Mr. Windham,


Mr. Fox observed, that he also, in his turn, could not
avoid upbraiding the right honourable the chancellor of the
exchequer for having gone into a panegyric on those excise
laws which were founded on a complete system of tyranny and
oppression. He must complain, likewise, of the manner of
the right honourable gentleman's answering his honourable
friend, (Mr. Sheridan,) by saying, " if you say this, you will
repeal the existence of all the excise laws." If the right ho-
nourable gentleman could have refuted what his honourable
friend had said by argument, it would have, been competent
for him to have done so ; but to dare him thus to undertake
what he not only never had undertaken, but on the contrary,
expressly provided against, was to answer arguments by mere
declamation, and could be done only with a view to intimi-
date. Mr. Fox said, that when he saw a large revenue ob-
tained by being collected under the excise laws, he did not
admire those laws; but he admired the unexcised iron maim-
fixtory, the unexcised manufactory of Staffbrdshire ware and
pottery, the unexcised woollen, cotton, and fustian manufae,
tories, by means of which the subject was enabled to pay
taxes to so great an amount. 44 When I look," added Mr.
Fox, " at the excise, what is it that I admire'? Not the ex-
cise, but the unexcised trade which enables us to bear it I
Not the produce of the tax upon beer, which is very great,
but the industry, and consequent wealth, which enable us to
drink it !" From the language of the right honourable gentle-
man that day, as well as from what had fallen from another right
honourable secretary on a former day, he suspected that there
was not one article to which the excise might be extended,
which it was not in the contemplation of the present adminis-
tration, if necessary, to apply it to ; and therefore, any appre-
hensions which he had before entertained on that point, were
now much increased.


Mr. Fox defended several parts of Mr. Sheridan's speech,
and charged the chancellor of the exchequer with having
grossly misrepresented them. He pointed out two or three
passages, and compared them with the chancellor of the ex-
chequer's answer to prove this assertion. He mentioned the
uniform tenor of statement in the petitions, as a proof of the
validity of the declarations of the manufacturers, that the ex-
cise was inapplicable to their manufacture, and lie cited the
excellent characters of Mr. Postlethwayte, and of Messrs. Pol-
lard and Sale, and others, as the refutation and answer to the




8o TOBACCO EXCISE BILL. CA r ril 1 C.


chancellor of the exchequer's declaration, that he doubted the
credibility of the evidence. Their reputations were, he said,
completely established, and they were known to be as free
from smuggling as any gentleman in that House. Fie argued,
therefore, against the unfairness of insinuating a doubt of their
veracity, and the more especially, as the right honourable
gentleman had himself admitted, that, with regard to the se-
crets and other points, he had no means of ascertaining whe-
ther what the manufacturers had stated, was the fact or not.
When the manufacturers did him the honour of a visit, they
all uniformly and invariably stated, that Messrs. Sale and
Pollard were in possession of a secret in giving a peculiar fla-
vour to snuff; for the purchase of which they should think
zo,000l., if they could conveniently spare the money, well
laid out. Why, then, was the right honourable gentleman
to doubt such a fact, especially when he could not disprove it ?
Mr. Fox remarked, that from the moment that be was told
the weather made a variation in the article under manufac-
ture, he pronounced it impossible to make an allowance for
that, capable of meeting the case ; and What sort of an act,
he would ask the right honourable gentleman, was that to
prevent smuggling, when a gentleman of a most unimpeach-
able character, (Mr. Eddowes,) fairly mid boldly said, that by
doing what he never should be ashamed of, he had incurred
penalties to the amount of 13 001.


His honourable friend had said with much warmth, and
much truth, with much justice and much reason—and what
the right honourable gentleman had not answered at all —
that those were bad laws which subjected innocent men to pe-
nalties, and that it should depend on the mildness and for-
bearance of his majesty's servants, that the harshness of those
laws were meliorated and softened. If it were true that there
had not been penalties exacted, and that those penalties
had been incurred where the parties were perfectly inno-
cent of any criminality, it must not be from the leniency of
the laws, but of their execution, that the subject had es-
caped unmerited punishment; and thus the great maxim of
our constitution was violated, that we ought to be governed
by laws and not by men, not by the leniency of the officers
of the crown, but by the acts of parliament on the statute
book. If; therefore, the tobacco act was not repealed, he
feared that this discovery would be made to the country, for
which no man who loved the liberty of his country could
possibly wish :—that where men are aggrieved, they must ap-
ply for redress only from the king's servants,


Mr. Fox justified that part of Mr. Sheridan's speech which
treated of the excise laws in general, and contended that


. 0.


1790.] BUDGET FOR THE YEAR 179o. 8s


whenever an excise bill came under discussion, be had a fair
right to canvas the excise laws in general, without having it
thrown in his teeth that he wished to overturn the revenue of
the country. He reminded the_ committee, that they ought
never to forget that the common law of the land was the rule,
and the excise laws the exception. He held the example of
putting the wine under the excise to be a bad example, de-
claring that, to his knowledge, it had been attended with
much oppression, and was pregnant with infinite inconve-
nience : a private gentleman, if he wished to move his wine
from one house to another, not having it in his power to send
his servant to the excise office for a permit, but being obliged
to go himself to the office, and make au affidavit, before he
could obtain what he wanted.


Mr. Secretary Grenville strongly protested against the man-
ner in which the question had been argued, as tending to raise
a clamour against laws, upon which, as those gentlemen well knew,
the whole national credit, and with it the very existence of the
empire, depended. The members for the city of London and for
Southwark spoke in favour of the motion : and Mr. Sheridan, after
a long reply, having altered the question to a motion for leave to
bring in a bill to repeal the tobacco act, the committee at length
divided : Yeas 147: Noes 191. An act was afterwards passed.
to explain and amend the act of last year, and to relieve the manu-
facturers from certain hardships therein.


nn••n•n•••n••••nnnn•.11.11."..11••n••Le


BUDGET FOR THE YEAR 1790.


April 19.


FHIS day Mr. Pitt opened the budget for the year 1790. Hewas replied to by Mr. Sheridan, who differed from the chan-
cellor of the exchequer with respect to the actual receipt, and
the actual expenditure. He contended, that there was not a
single pound applicable to the reduction of the national debt,
and


I
declared that nothing would put the finances of the coun-


try nto a proper state, but either raising the income to the ex-
penditure, or lowering the expenditure to the income ; at present
there existed a plain deficiency of one million.


.Mr. Fox observed, that although upon the present occasion
Ins sentiments almost totally coincided with those of his ho-
nourable friend, and in some respects 'also with those of the


vole iv.




* •


82 BUDGET FOB. THE YEAR 1790. [April 1 9 .


right honourable the chancellor of the exchequer, he must
beg leave to mention points in which they certainly did not
concur. Towards the latter part of the right honourable gen-
tleman's speech, he seemed to be coming over a good deal to
his honourable friend':: argument, when he had complained
that his honourable friend had compared a permanent income
with a temporary expenditure. Was it unfair for a member
of parliament, upon hearing a minister state a permanent in-
come, to say, " I should like to know when we are to expect
a reduction of the expenditure ?" If that was not fair, he was
at a loss to know what was the nature of their duty. Cer-
tainly, the right honourable gentleman had given them a
statement of what had afforded him as much pleasure, as he
was persuaded it had afforded the rest of the committee, when
he mentioned the growing prosperity of our commerce, and
the gradual rise of our revenue. He had no doubt but that
the right honourable gentleman was founded in stating that
the prosperity of our income might be looked upon as per-
manent. We had, therefore, the actual amount of our pre-
sent annual receipt ; but till we knew the actual state of our
permanent peace-establishment and expenditure, we were not
arrived at that happy period, when we could rest on fact and
were no longer obliged to have recourse to conjecture. He
should think it an unaccountable point of argument to say,
on the mere view of the actual receipt on the one hand,
and the temporary expenditure on the other, " now we are
landed," and not to wish to have the permanent peace ex-
penditure.


With regard to taking the average of the three and of the
four years, he did not think that the right honourable gen-
tleman had acted perfectly justifiably in leaving out the fourth
year, unless he had likewise left out the next year, namely,
the year 1787, because, if it were true that several commercial
speculations were kept back in the year 1786, on account
of the French treaty not being completed, it must be equally
true that the income of the next year was proportionably
increased by the consequent increase 'of the commerce of that
year; he should therefore always think his honourable friend
fair in taking the year 1786 into the average, He was, how-
ever, clear with the right honourable gentleman, that there
was the best possible ground for believing that the prosperity
of the country was likely to remain in a rational, increasing,
arithmetical proportion, as long as the public tranquillity con-
tinued, and that it would not be the less so if other countries
were at peace likewise. He attributed this, with the right
honourable gentleman, to the constitution of the country, to
the national character, and to the spirit of our commerce.


I 790.] BUDGtT 'OR THE YEAR 1790.
83


Mr. Fox took notice of what Mr. Pitt had said was due to
that House for having firmly maintained its ground in meeting
the exigencies of the state, and putting themselves, and what
was still more important, their constituents, to considerable
inconvenience. That credit, Mr. Fox observed, every man
of every description in that House participated in ; for what-
ever controversies and disputes had at different times taken
place between political parties or factions, to time credit of
that House, and to the credit of the country, no set of men
had attempted to court popularity, by holding out to the
public false hopes of lightening their burdens and withhold-
ing such additional taxes, as the nature and circumstances of
the times had rendered indispensably necessary. He mentioned
this, because many people seemed not to be aware that those
with whom he acted had uniformly concurred with the other
side of the House in looking our situation in the face, and
manfully meeting the exigency of the moment, in order to
retrieve the prosperity of the country. With regard to a
lottery, in that House it could not be considered as a bargain
concluded till it was voted ; though he had no doubt that a
lottery would be voted. But although he was aware that
nlany gentlemen, on each side of the House, were Strongly of
opinion with his honourable friend, and he had great defer-
ence for his honourable friend's judgment, he could not help
thinking that the cessation of a lottery would not cause the
cessation of the different evils to which it was thought to give.
occasion. But when gentlemen counted the profits of a lot-
tery as a part of the revenue which was growing, he could not
concur with them ; yet at the sane time he was ready to con-
fess, that for the last ten years he had been deceived, year after
year in this particular, and if he were to enjoy the honour of
a seat in that House ten' years longer, he should still in all
probability continue to be deceived; for he had not then, nor
ever had, 'an idea, that persons could afford to give the public
such an egregious profit, and nevertheless be able to derive a
considerable profit from the lottery themselves. Most un-
doubtedly, the propensity to gambling in the public at large
was to be deplored ; 'but. as long as it was evident that this spirit
Would be exercised to the same extent, whether there was a
lonitetear(ylvaolt i.ongote,. he thought it fair that the public should reap


He declared that he was one of those who had always been
sanguine- on the subject of the income arising from the re-
s
ources of the country ; there was a spring and an exertion in


freemen, which he who calculated ever so sanguinely could
scarcely over-rate. In conclusion, Mr. Fox expressed anin ',don to know what grounds there were for expectin g such a


G 2




84 BUDGET FOR THE YEAR 1790. [April 19.


reduction in the establishments of the ensuing year, as would
bring them closer to the reduction of the expenditure stated
in the report of the committee of revenue in 1786.


Mr. Pitt allowed that much credit was to be given to all parties
for wishing to meet the situation of the country fairly. He de-
clared that he did not mean to insinuate any personal claim to pe-
culiar merit; 'but he was sure that the candour and good sense
of the honourable gentleman would see how easy it was for
those to recommend who had only to recommend ; and how
widely different was the situation of that party to whom was
committed the painful task of laying duties on the public, and
of carrying the lessons of the other side of the House into exe-
cution, when, almost uniformly, the means which they had sug-
gested for that purpose had been objected against, and oppo-
sed, as more likely to counteract the principles in which they
were all agreed, than to bring about their accomplishment. He
mentioned the treaty of commerce with France, the commutation
tax, and various other measures, against which he complained
that opposition had made a powerful stand, and protested that
he rejoiced the more in being able to convince those who had
differed from administration in these points and thought that
they would not prove successful, that they had met with such
eminent success.


Mr. Fox begged leave to observe that the right honourable
gentleman, although he had at first handsomely allowed, that
all parties were equally entitled to the merit, if any were due,
of having co-operated in endeavouring, by firmness, to restore
the resources of the country, yet could not close the subject
without proving that the whole of his remarks concerning the
difference between those who recommended, and those who,
in pursuit of such recommendation, laid burdens on the peo-
ple, were thrown away, and amounted to nothing more than a
contradiction against his own argument. The right honour-
able gentleman well knew, that he had uniformly acted upon
the principle which he stated ; not merely while he was in a
situation to recommend to others, hut when he had been a mi-
nister himself, to propose measures, and lie submitted to the
right honourable gentleman how easy it had been for him, if he
had chosen it, to have courted popularity, at the end of the war,
to have taken up any of those opinions, at that time floating on
the minds of the public, and to have said, " this is the hour to al-
leviate thelmrdens of the people; in peace, taxes ought to be
taken off; there is no necessity for the public income equalling
the expenditure. The funds may be taxed." (A doctrine,
by the bye, which, though talked of without doors, no man
in that House had dared to mention or recommend.) I-1:e
would do the right honourable gentleman the justice to say,


1790.]


VESSELS CAPTURED BY SPAIN.
85


that when he stood in a situation to recommend, he had no
more resorted to the sort of conduct which he (Mr. Fox) had
described, than those who had so long opposed him, on what
they deemed good grounds. Many differences had not taken
place on the subject of taxes, though in some few instances
enumerated by his honourable friend in a late debate, those
who acted with him had made an opposition. In obtaining a
repeal of the shop-tax, he certainly had taken a considerable
share, but he did not think he had done any mischief to the
revenue in that instance. With respect to the French treaty
being brought in, it was a little straining the subject, since
certainly the French treaty was more a matter of commerce
than of revenue; though some gentlemen had considered it
merely as a matter of commerce, others merely as a matter of
revenue, and others again in its twofold and complex nature,
as a matter partly of commerce and partly of revenue. The
commutation act might become the subject of future discus-
sion, and therefore l ie should not enter into it, during the pre-
sent debate; but he would defy the right honourable gentle-
man to prove that their conduct (for motives could not be
proved) had ever warranted an imputation of their wishing
to injure the revenue. For his part, he had often declared,
and always should declare, that were any measure to be pro-
posed, respecting the principle of which they were agreed, but
nevertheless the means of carrying which into effect appeared
to him to be impolitic and absurd, that he thought them so ; at
the same time stating what he considered as means more prac-
ticable and less objectionable. The right honourable gentle-
man had often thought him less sanguine than he was, in re-
spect to the possible reduction of the expenditure, but the right
honourable gentleman had never heard him express a doubt of
the resources of the country. He had, indeed, wished the
expenditure to be stated as high as possible, and the receipt as
moderately; and he never considered himself to blame for
this, because he thought it better to meet the worst, than
without certainty to anticipate the best.


LIE KING'S MESSAGE RESPECTING VESSELS CAPTURED BY
SPAIN AT NOOTKA SOUND.


May 6.cv the 5th of May, Mr. Pitt delivered to the House of Com-
mons the following message from his majesty :


cc GEORGE ItEx.
" His majesty has received information that two vessels belong-ing to his majesty's subjects, and navigated under the British flag,


G 3




86 KING'S MESSAGE RESPECTING [May 6.
and two others, of which the description is not sufficiently ascer-
tained, have been captured at Nootka Sound, on the north western
coast of America, by an officer commanding two Spanish ships of
war ; that the cargo of the British vessels have been seized, and
their officers and crews have been sent as prisoners to a Spanish
port.


" The capture of one of these vessels had before been notified
by the ambassador of his Catholic majesty by order of his court,
who at the same time desired that measures might he taken for
preventing his majesty's subjects from frequenting those coasts,
which were alleged to have been previously occupied and fre-
quented by the subjects of Spain. Complaints were also made of
the fisheries carried on by his majesty's subjects in the seas ad-
joining to the Spanish continent, as being contrary to the rights
of the crown of Spain. In consequence of this line of communica-
tion, a demand was immediately made by his majesty's order, for
adequate satisfaction, and for restitution of the vessels previous to
any other discussion.


" By the answer from the court of Spain, it appears, that these
vessels and their crews had been set at liberty by the viceroy of
Mexico, but this is represented to have been done by him, on the
supposition that nothing but the ignorance of the rights of Spain
had encouraged the individuals of other nations to come to those
coasts, for the purpose of making establishments ifor carrying on
trade, and in conformity to his previous instructions requesting
him to shew all possible regard to the British nation. No satisfac-
tion is made or offered, and a direct claitt is asserted by the court
of Spain to the exclusive rights of sovereignty, navigation, and com-
merce, in the territories, and coasts, and seas in that part of the world.


His majesty has now directed his minister at Madrid to make
a fresh representation on this subject, and to claim such full and
adequate satisfaction as the nature of the case evidently requires.
And, under these circumstances, his majesty having also re-
ceived information, that considerable armaments are carrying on
in the ports of Spain, has judged it indispensably necessary to
give orders for making such preparations as may put it, in his ma-
jesty's power to act with vigour and effect, in support of the honour
of his crown and the interests of his people. And his majesty re-
commends it to his faithful Commons, ( on whose zeal and public
spirit he has the most perfect reliance,) to enable him to take such
measures, and to make such augmentation of his forces, as may be
eventually necessary for this purpose.


" It is his majesty's earnest wish, that the justice of his majesty's
demands may ensure, from the wisdom and equity of his Catholic
majesty, the satisfaction which is so unquestionably due ; and
that this affair may be terminated in such a manner as to prevent
any grounds of misunderstanding in future, and to continue and
confirm that harmony and friendship which has so happily sub-
sisted between the two courts, and which his majesty will always
endeavour to maintain and improve, by all such means as are con-
sistent with the dignity of his majesty's crown and the essential
interests of his subjects.
G. R.


JO


1790.] VESSELS CAPTURED BY SPAIN. 87


On the 6th, the message having been again read, Mr. Pitt moved
tin address in the usual form, which being seconded by Mr. Secre-
tary Grenville,


Mr. Fox rose and said, that no member within the House
could be more sensible than he was of the disadvantage, at the
same time that he could not resist the temptation of declaring
that he heartily concurred with the motion, of rising to state
some observations on the situation in which we now stood.
No man felt more strongly the necessity of arming than he
did. No man felt a warmer resentment at the unprovoked
aggression of the court of Spain. Ile thought that there
could not arise a doubt of the necessity of an immediate and
a vigorous armament, and he conceived, with the right ho-
nourable the chancellor of the exchequer, that it was probable
that this armament might produce its effect without proceed.
ing to the extreme of war, and that the absurd claim of the
court of Spain (which the right honourable gentleman had so
forcibly described, that he would not weaken that description
by attempting to acid to it,) might be put an end to, but he
wished that the message had told them more than it did.
They ought to have known what the afterwards captured
ships were doing, or intended to do ; whether they were
about to make an establishment, or whether Spain knew that
we were about to make an establishment. It was a question
with him, whether or not the event which had happened,
and the facts stated, were not such as might have been fore-
seen or prevented. The House had now been given to un-
derstand, that the vessels were seized without any prelimi-
nary notice : had such notice, however, been given, it would
have made no difference in his vote on that day, convinced
as he was that there could not be a single man in that
House, or in the country, but must see the necessity for a
vigorous armament. This country certainly could have had
no reason to have expected an act of hostility from any quar-
ter a few days back, when, from every appearance, we were
led to look for a long and an uninterrupted peace. That pros-
pect, at least for the present, was gone ; and in its stead
there was much matter of serious concern; for however fa-
vourable a war at its commencement might appear, it was
impossible to foretel its ultimate consequences. He had not
m the whole course of his life been accustomed to speak with
despondency of the resources of the country, but he did not
think it fair in a matter of great and serious concern, to pass
those resources over and take no notice of them at a moment
When the occasion seemed necessarily to require that they
should be mentioned. It was now scarcely a fortnight since


G 4




8 8 KING'S MESSAGE RESPECTING [May 6.


the minister of this country pointed out to the House the
prosperity and flourishing state of the finances, and in no
part of his speech did he seem more confident than in the
assurances he gave the House of the prospect of the conti-
nuance of peace. On first hearing the message, it struck
him as an instance of the uncertainty of human wisdom and
the mutability of human affairs, when he . observed a gentle-
man at the head of the administration of this country, and of
great talents, one day pointing out the increasing resources
and the great probability of a continuance of peace, and in a
fortnight afterwards coming down to that House and telling
them that they must prepare for war. Viewed in another
mariner, it gave rise to different suggestions. When the right
honourable gentleman was vaunting of the resources of this
country, he knew that Spain had, without a colour of pre-
tence, seized British ships, made prisoners of their crews, and
confiscated the property in the vessels. The right honourable
gentleman knew these facts from the Spanish ambassador, who
had communicated them in a deliberate and premeditated
message on the part of his court. Where was the difference
between matters now and matters three weeks since ? There
did exist, Mr. Fox said, a distinction, and he would state
what it was, and wherein it consisted. Let them compare the
two situations. Not three weeks since, they were told of the
great Probability- of a continuance of peace; but now they
were told, not indeed of the certainty of war, but of the
probability of war. They now knew that the ships had been
seized ; they knew that before. They now knew that the
officers had been sent to a Spanish port prisoners of war;
they knew that distinctly before. He understood that the
Spanish ambassador had not only stated the capture, but ac-
companied it with a complaint and a requisition, that his
majesty would not suffer his subjects to trade on those coasts,
and fish in the southern ocean. We now knew that Spain
was carrying on great armaments; we knew that at the
former period also. Every particular that he had stated, his
majesty's ministers knew when they were exulting on the
prospect of peace. That they should be obliged to go to
war, he admitted might, and he hoped would, be otherwise.
He hoped that when they had armed, Spain would in some
measure retract ; but what did they now know, which they did
not know a fortnight since, in consequence of a premeditated
message by authority from the Spanish ambassador's court ?
He hoped that the court of Spain would retract, from princi-
ples of justice and prudence, because they had made their
claim without justice, and advanced it without prudence. He
was one of those who, at the moment of the minister's exulta-


179°;) VESSELS CAPTURED BY SPAIN. 89


tion, had for months known the increase of the Spanish ar-
mament. The right honourable gentleman had better op-
portunities of knowing what the extent of the armament was
than he could pretend to; and when Spain was arming, it was
not very reasonable to think that we should be long at peace.
He owned he did not see the necessity for the minister to go
out of his way in opening the state of the finances, to intro-
duce assurances of continuance of peace : it must take away
from that security and happiness into which the public were
lulled, when they were informed, from tile throne, that those
assurances were groundless. When the lottery was talked of
in a late debate, he recollected that an honourable friend of
his (Mr. Sheridan) complained that the minister was an
auctioneer; he complained that at the moment in question
the minister was acting the part of an auctioneer through-
out, by puffing and praising the prospect of peace, when
there was in reality a great probability of a speedy war. He
always thought it injudicious that this country, in making the
last peace, had stipulated with one branch of the house of
Bourbon, France, that the two countries should respectively
reduce their marine to a. certain point, and not stipulate in
like manner with Spain ; because it was obvious, that all the
danger to be dreaded might still fall upon us, it being com-
petent to the other branch of the house of Bourbon to arm
to whatever extent she thought proper. And he would ask
his majesty's ministers, whether Spain had not continued in
an armed state, and been increasing her armament, ever since
that period? When the peace was negotiating, he had heard
that the Empress of Russia solicited to have the same favour
sliewn to her which had been shown to France, with regard
to letting the French flag give protection to property not be-
longing to France, so long as we were not at war with France.
It was answered to Russia, that it could not be done. When it
was asked, " Why will you not unite with a power you call your
friend, when you unite with your natural enemy ?" The an-
swer was, " It was for that very reason. We think France
most likely to take part against us whenever we are engaged
in a war, but we consider you as more likely to remain a
neutral power." Mr. Fox reasoned upon this point, and at
length came to consider the claim of the court of Spain, de-
claring that this court had often set up claims equally unjust
and unreasonable. He conceived the exploded claim of the
Pope's demarkation to be wholly set aside, and that the dis-
covery of any place, and making it the possession of this or that
king by setting up a cross, or any other token of having been
there, was etivally exploded. In fact, occupancy and pos-
session should be considered as the only right and title. He




90 COMPLAINT AGAINST MAJOR SCOTT FOR A LIBEL. [May 21.
remembered, that in the late convention with Spain, there
had been much negotiation about the Musquito Shore, the,
claim to which on the part of the court of Madrid lie COBSi=
tiered as one of those rights which he had stated as explo-
ded; and he declared that he never had understood the policy
of our giving up that point without some compensation, un-
less it had led to an ultimate adjustment of the rights of
Spain in all similar respects. So far from this being the case,
it led only to encourage those claims in Spain which he con-
sidered as contemptible. Mr. Fox read that parr of the mes-
sage and address which referred to explaining the grounds
of misunderstanding, and observed that the passage gave
him particular pleasure, because there obviously might he
two pacific ends to the measure. There might be an ade-
quate satisfaction made without arrangements to prevent such
evils in future, whereas he was clearly of opinion that the
point was not the mere capture of the ships, but the great
and important point of the definition of the claims of the
court of Spain in respect to America and the southern ocean.
He therefore hoped that we should not rest contented merely
with a satisfaction for the injury, but obtain a renunciation
of the claim set up with so little ground of reason; that he
conceived to be the intent and meaning of his majesty's mes-
sage; and on that idea he heartily gave his vote for the ad-
dress. As to the other topic, the disappointment of this country
as to its situation, he hoped that it would prove a lesson to his
majesty's ministers for the future, not to be too sanguine in
their expectations of the permanency of peace, when they were,
in fact, on the eve of a war. - The extravagance of the hopes
held out by ministers added to the disappointment, the alarm,
and the fears of the public, when they suddenly found those
hopes falsified. Had not such fallacious hopes been excited,
he trusted. that his majesty's message would not have had the
effect on the public funds, and the minds of men, which ft
bad produced.


The address was agreed to nem con.


COMPLAINT AGAINST MAJOR, SCOTT' FOR A LIBEL ON THE
MANAGERS OF THE IMPEACHMENT AGAINST MR. HASTINGS.


May 21.
Fr HIS day complaint was made to the house by General Bur,'


Boyne of a libellous publication inserted in one of the morn--
ing papers with the signature of John Scott, a member of the'


1790.] COMPLAINT AGAINST MAJOR SCOTT FOR A LIBEL. 91


house of Commons, grossly reflecting upon the conduct of the
managers of the impeachment of Mr. Hastings, and upon the justice
of that House. The letter was then read by the clerk, and Major
Scott being called to answer this complaint, avowed himself to be
the author of the letter in question ; and at the same time declared,
that no man living had a higher respect for the rules of the House
than he had ; and if he had broken them, he had done so uninten-
tionally, and was sorry for it, The honourable major then enteredinto a general justification of his letter; and declared, that if he
had been guilty of an error, in his conduct, he had been drawn into
i t by great examples. He then entered into a variety of publica-
tions by Mr. Burke, Mr. Sheridan, and General Burgoyne, which
he considered to be by far stronger libels than he had ever written,
Major Scott, according to the practice of the House, having given
in his defence, immediately withdrew. General Burgoyne then
moved, " That it is against the law and usage of parliament, and a
high breach of the privilege of this House, to write or publish, or
cause to be written or published, any scandalous or libellous re-
flection on the honour and justice of this House, in any of the
impeachments or prosecutions in which it is engaged." Which
being voted without a division, he next moved, " That it appears
to this House, that the letter now delivered in and read is a scan.
dalous and libellous paper, reflecting on the honour and justice of
this House, and on the conduct of the managers appointed to con-
duct the impeachment now proceeding against Warren Hastings,
Esq." Mr. Pitt submitted, that in a matter relative to their own
privileges, and especially as a great laxity of practice had, of late
years, obtained with respect to publications upon the proceedings
of parliament, the House ought to proceed with all possible caution.
He then moved, that the debate be adjourned to Thursday the
27th of May.


Mr. Fox said, that the right honourable gentleman had
talked of the lax practice which had obtained in respect to li-
bels on the House and its proceedings, as if they were about
to depart from any established rule of that House. He was
not aware that the rule had ever been departed from; he knew
it had not been universally enforced, but whenever complaint
had been made of a libel on the House, or any of its mem-
bers, the rule had, he believed, been uniformly and regularly
carried into execution. On the present occasion, he hoped the
motion would meet with a full discussion, and in a full House;
because if ever there was a case particularly entitled to the
consideration of the House, it was the case of an impeach-
ment, and a trial upon it, the managers of which had the
strongest claims on the House for their protection and sup-,
port against all libels and libellers, and such, he trusted, they
Would experience upon the ensuing . Thursday.


The question of adjournment was then put and carried.




92 COMPLAINT AGAINST MAJOR SCOTT FOR A LIBEL. [May 27.


May 2 7.


The debate being resumed, and Major Scott being again heard
in his place, the motion was first opposed by Mr. Wigley, who
thought that the House, in its justice, ought not to proceed in
a severe manner against the honourable member ; who, he said,
had already made the most satisfactory and sufficient apology for
what he stood accused of. He then made a number of observa-
tions on several pamphlets written by gentlemen on the side of op,
position ; and thought that the House, as well as the honourable
member accused, had a right to enquire into the nature of those
pamphlets, and to proceed upon them in the same manner as the
House was now doing in the present case. After the motion had
been supported by Mr. Burke and Mr. Pitt,


Mr. Fox expressed his astonishment that any person could
entertain the smallest doubt that a libel like that complained
of; being directly levelled at the managers acting under the
orders of the House in the prosecution of an impeachment
authorized and instituted by the House itself, was not a libel
in defiance of the honour and justice of that House, and the
most proper of all others to take up. A libel on the House
itself was not of nearly the same dangerous consequence, be-
cause the House was armed with sufficient powers to protect
itself; but a libel on the managers might be considered as a
libel on individuals, who were, comparatively speaking, help-
less, and not having the power to protect themselves, must
necessarily look to the House for protection. He reprobated




the argument of Mr. Wigley, that the House ought to take
notice of or prosecute every individual breach of its privileges,
or not 'prosecute them at all. In either case, the House
would act most unwisely; it was by a prudent exercise of their
discretion, and by distinguishing the nature of one breach of
privilege from another, that they would best preserve their privi-
leges. Were they to prosecute in all cases of breach of prie
vilege indiscriminately, their whole time would be spent in
criminal proceedings, and the House would become a nui-
sance to the country, instead of a security to its liberties. If,
on the other hand, they were to fall into the other extreme,
and - prosecute in no instance, the House would incur the
public contempt, and become altogether useless. It was,
therefore, a poor extenuation of any stated offence, to say
that the House had neglected to take notice of other libels
on the managers, and therefore it ought to be peculiarly mild in,
the mode of punishing the author of the libel now complained;


1790.1 COMPLAIN T AGAINST MAJOR SCOTT FOR A LIBEL. 93


of. 1 71 its merciful remissness in some cases any reason whyit ought not to proceed with severity in cases of breach of pri-
vilege the most flagrant and outrageous? \Vas it an argu-
ment which would be borne in a court of justice, if, on a pro-
secution for a libel against hint, it was to be said that Mr. Fox
hod borne a' torrent of libels for fourteen years together with
patience, and therefore enticed the libeller, as it were, to pub-
lish one more? On the contrary, would it not be considered,
that his forbearance so long had heaped upon his libeller a
debt of gratitude, which aggravated his crime, if after so long
e forbearance on the part of Mr. Fox, he at last thought
proper to prosecute. For his part, it had been his lot, and
that of his right honourable friend, (Mr. Burke,) to have been
libelled grossly for the greater space of their political lives;
but they neither of them had thought it right, from prudent
motives, to take any notice, except in a single instance or two, of
the libellers, and feeling that their prosecuting might be at-
tended with rather worse general consequences than the libels
did them harm, they had treated the libels and their authors
with scorn and contempt ; but the case was widely different
between a libel on individuals in their private capacity, and
individuals sanctioned by the authority of that House, and act-
ing as managers of an impeachment instituted by that House.
Neither was the fact true, as the honourable gentleman who
spoke first in the debate, and the right honourable the chancellor
of the exchequer had supposed, that the House had relaxed in
supporting its privileges, by not taking proper notice of such
breaches of its privileges as had appeared to deserve their no-
tice. As often as a complaint had been made, the House had
grounded a proceeding upon that complaint. On the subject
of the present impeachment only, the paper now complained
of was not the first, the second, nor the third libel, which the
House had taken notice of; but the fourth that had been stated
to it. The Morning Herald had been ordered to be prose-
cuted by the House for a libel. Another paper had been
ordered to be prosecuted, and Mr. Stockdale had likewise been
ordered to be prosecuted ; it was true, that Mr. Stockdale had
been acquitted ; but that did not alter the present argument:
and the printer of the World had been prosecuted likewise by
order of the House, and convicted recently, within this day or
ti:


W


od


newspaper


not true, therefore, that this House had aban-
doned the defence of its privileges, by neglecting to punish
breaches of -them. ith regard to the degree of crimi-
nality between Mr. Stockdale, or the printer of a newspaper,
and Major Scott, there was no comparison. A bookseller


printer could be supposed to have no personal
view in the libel they published and could only act upon.




94 COMPLAINT AGAINST MAJOR SCOTT FOR A LIBEL. [May 4.,


public principles in the way of their profession and trade; but
Major Scott had no excuse of that kind ; being a member of
parliament, he had an opportunity of making any complaint
against the managers which he thought that their conduct
deserved ; he might have done so fairly and openly, and had
no occasion to libel the managers from one end of the king-
dom to the other. If ever a libeller had justly called down
the heavy vengeance of the House, it was Major Scott; who,
from the commencement of the proceedings on the impeach-
ment, had systematically traduced and vilified the managers.
As an argument of mitigation had been grounded on the ma-
nagers having, for two years together, suffered themselves to
be libelled day after day with impunity, it was fortunate that
they had at length taken up the matter ; for, had they suffered
it to go on for two years longer, that might have been held to
constitute a justification of any libel against them whatever.
Was it not enough for their libellers that they might drag
forth every transaction of their private lives, that they might
enter their dwellings, expose the weaknesses that men might
naturally be imagined desirous of concealing, and, in short,
trace out every single circumstance of their conduct to ground
a charge of traduction upon : but they must attack them when
acting in the capacity of managers of an important criminal
prosecution, endeavouring to bring a great delinquent to jus-
tice, and while they were employed by the authority of that
House in a great judicial proceeding, upon the event of which
the future happiness of millions depended, and possibly the
existence of the constitution : seeing that it was intimately
connected with that House enjoying the free exercise of its
inquisitorial powers, which, he contended, were struck at by
the libel in question? Mr. fox said he was glad to find that
he was likely to have the vote of the right honourable the
chancellor of the exchequer on the present question. He
agreed with the right honourable gentleman in the greatest
part of his argument, but could not help differing altogether,
as to the latter part of his speech, with regard to the-propriety
of a gentle censure. - So convinced , was he that the contrary
ought to. be the case, that invidious as it might appear, he
should vote for the severer mode of proceeding.


The question was put and carried without a division. It was
next moved and agreed to, " That John Scott, Esq. a member of
this House, being by. his own acknowledgment the author of the
said letter, 'is guilty of a violation of his duty as a member of this
House, and of a highbreach of the privilege of this 1-rouse." General
Burgoyne then moved, " That the said John Scott, Esq. be, for his
said offence, reprimanded at the bar of this House, by Mi .. Speaker."
Mr. Pitt moved, by way of amendment, to leave out the words


1790.] COMPLAINT AGAINST 11TAJOR scow FOR A LIBEL. 95
at the bar of the House," and insert the words " in his place."


This amendment having been stated from the chair, and the ques-
tion put, that the words " at the bar of the House" stand part of
the question, Mr. Windham remarked, with regard to the liberty of
the press, that there was an evident distinction between-its use and
its abuse, and that the very best way to preserve its liberty was to
punish its licentiousness. This had been agreed on by all who
had ever reasoned upon the subject ; and surely a better mode of
defining this distinction could not be adopted than by drawing the
line between the free discussion of general political and parlia-
mentary topics, and the discussion of judicial proceedings. In re-
spect to the latter, it had ever been considered, that penclente life
the subject should be confined to the court in which it was trying,
and on no account be made a matter of discussion without doors.
And the reason was obvious ; in a judicial proceeding the judges
and the court could not advert to extraneous matter ; they must
be governed by the strictness of evidence, and confined to that
alone; whereas in regard to general political topics, much was at
all times to be learnt from discussion without doors, and therefore
the free discussion of such topics among the public at large was
highly useful. Having observed that manifest, indeed, was the
distinction between the unfettered discussion of political topics,
and the great necessity of holding judicial proceedings sacred,
Mr. Windham added, that he was actuated by no motive of vin-
dictive feelings or personal resentment. It could not be worth a
moment's consideration to him as a member of the committee of
managers, nor indeed to any other member, whether the avowed
author of the letter complained of was reprimanded at the bar or
in his place ; but the natural conclusion would be, that those who
were for the milder censure, if they had dared to face the shame'
that such a proceding would have drawn down on them, would
have resisted any punishment of the author of the libel on- the-
House and the managers ; but that the force of the proceeding,
when once stated to the House, had compelled them to suffer some.
censure to be passed on the author, and that nevertheless they
were determined to skreen him from justice as much as possible.
This was clearly their motive, or they never would stand between
him and the mild measure which had been proposed; for such, in
his opinion it was, since the magnitude of the offence would, in his
mind, have fully justified expulsion, and expulsion for such a crime
would have been the punishment adopted by their ancestors, had
the offence been committed in their days. Mr. 'Windham, farther
remarked on the enormity of the libel, and the aggravation of the of
fence in consequence of the author being a member of that House.
Major Scott, it had been said, was entitled to be considered as the
friend of Mr. Hastings, and not as his agent ; this the House had
Yet to learn : but if it was so, he had still acted unwarrantably,
because a friend might warmly defend the cause of him for whom
lie professed a friendship ; but he was not entitled to abandon his
defence, and become an accuser and an assailant of his prosecu-
t°M.---IVIr. Pitt replied to Mr. 'Windham, and expressed his stir-




96 COMPLAINT AGAINST MAJOR SCOTT FOR A LIBEL. [May 27.
prise at the sort of temper with which the honourable gentleman
had delivered his sentiments on an occasion which, above all
others, seemed to call for moderation and coolness. Mr. Wind-
ham answered, that the right honourable gentleman had observed
upon his speech with some degree of triumph ; but the triumph he
could easily bear, since it was a triumph over the right honourable
gentleman's misrepresentation of what he had said, and not over
his argument, such as it really was. He could not be positive as
to his words, but he could to his meaning ; and sure • he was, that
he had never meant to observe, that the honourable gentleman
had trespassed on the forbearance of the managers, and then
made an argument of excuse of himself, for an additional libel out
of that forbearance ; although if he had said so, he conceived that
he should not have argued absurdly.


Mr. Fox declared, that his honourable friend (Mr. Wind-
ham) though he had strictly confined himself to explanation,
had contrived to give a complete refutation of the arguments
of the right honourable the chancellor of the exchequer, who
had complained of his honourable friend's want of temper,
although he had perceived nothing' like an indication of pas-
sion, or any sort of departure from that characteristic temper
which peculiarly distinguished his honourable friend—the being
able to argue with more sedateness, and in a cooler and closer
manner, than perhaps any other gentleman in that House. Pro-
bably the right honourable gentleman had felt sore from not
having been able to find an answer to what had fallen with so
much ability from his honourable friend. Be that as it might,
the right honourable gentleman certainly had not been able
to refute any one of his honourable friend's positions, and as
the right honourable gentleman could not meet his honour-
able friend's distinction between the use of free discussion in
cases of a general political nature and the necessary sacred-
ness of every thing relative to judicial proceedings, which his
honourable friend had so clearly laid down, and which had
obviously made so strong an impression on the House, the
right honourable gentleman had endeavoured to elude it,
by a general disquisition on the proper rule in regard to the
conduct to be preserved respecting a trial on a criminal pro-
secution. The calling Major Scott the friend of Mr. Has-
tings was a prostitution of the name of friendship for the
sake of serving a temporary purpose. No man valued the
virtue of friendship more than he did, and possibly an agent
might feel a friendship for his employer, but the friendship
alleged in mitigation of a libel made the libel worse; for
could it be an excuse to him, that an agent came to the
House and said, in mitigation, that he had a friendship for


1790.] COMPLAINT AGAINST MAJOR SCOTT FOR A LIBEL. 97


his employer? With respect to the motion, he declared,
that if the amendment had been 66 that Major Scott be com-
mitted," and they on his' side had been called upon to show a
precedent of a case of equal enormity, in which a member
had not been committed, he believed it would have scarcely
been possible for them to have found one. As to being re-
primanded at the bar, there was a famous precedent in the
year 166o, when Mr. Lenthall had been reprimanded at the
bar, for holding a political opinion, which Mr. Fox said he
had ever considered as false and diabolical, " that those who
had first taken up arms against Charles the First, were as
blameable as those who had been immediately concerned in
his death." That opinion Mr. Lenthall had broached on his
legs in the House, where the freedom of debate and its being
the duty of every member to state his opinion on any subject
under discussion, one should have imagined, might have sanc-
tioned the delivery of it, and yet Mr. Lenthall was severely
reprimanded at the bar of their House ". How much more,
then, ought Major Scott to be reprimanded at the bar, for
one of the most deliberate, indecent, and atrocious libels on
the House, and the managers, and this inserted in a common
newspaper, that ever was published ? There were but three
species of punishment in cases of breach of privilege within
the option of the House, reprimand, commitment, and ex-
pulsion, Of the first, which was the most mild and lenient,
there were two sorts, the reprimand of a member at the bar,
and the reprimand of a member in his place. Was it not
fair to argue that, if the mildest of the two were insisted on
in a flagrant and atrocious case, those who pressed for it
would have prevented any punishment, if they decently could
have done so, and that they were desirous of standing between
the criminal and justice ? Mr. Fox agreed with his honour-
able friend that the offence merited expulsion.




The motion as amended was agreed to, and on the following
day Major Scott attended in his place, and was reprimanded by
the Speaker.


* See New Parliamentary History, Vol. 4.


vol.. IV.




9 8 ADDRESS ON THE KING'S SPEECH'. [Nov. 26


ADDRESS ON THE KING'S SPEECH AT THE OPENING OF TH
SESSION.


November 26.


T HE new parliament assembled on the 2 5 th of November,
e and proceeded to the choice of a Speaker. Mr. Addington,


the Speaker of the late House of Commons, was nominated by
the master of the rolls, and took the chair with the unanimous
approbation of the House. On the 26th the session was opene d
by his majesty, with the following speech to both Houses :


" My lords and gentlemen ; it is a great satisfaction to me to.
inform you, that the differences which had arisen between me and
the court of Spain, have happily been brought to an amicable ter-
mination.— I have ordered copies of the declarations exchanged
between my ambassador and the minister of the catholic king,
and of the convention which has since been concluded, to be laid
before you.— The objects which I have proposed to myself in the
whole of this transaction, have been to obtain a suitable reparation 4.
for the act of violence committed at Nootka, and to remove the
grounds of similar disputes in future ; as well as to secure to my
subjects the exercise of their navigation, commerce, and fisheries
in those parts of the world which were the subject of discussion.—
The zeal and public spirit manifested by all ranks of my subjects,
and the disposition and Conduct of my allies, had left me no room
to doubt of the most vigorous and effectual support ; but no event
could have afforded me so much satisfaction, as the attainment of
the objects which I had in view, without any actual interruption
of the blessings of peace.— Since the last session of parliament, a
foundation has been laid for a pacification between Austria and
the Porte, and I am now employing my mediation, in conjunction
with my allies, for the purpose of negotiating a definitive treaty
between those powers, and of endeavouring to put an end to the
dissentions in the Netherlands, in whose situation I am necessarily
concerned, from considerations of national interest, as well as from
the engagements of treaties. — A separate peace has taken place
between Russia and Sweden, but the war between the former of
those powers and the Porte still continues. The principles on
which I have hitherto acted, will make me always desirous of em-
ploying the weight and influence of this country in contributing
to the restoration of general tranquillity.


" Gentlemen of the House of Commons ; I have ordered the
accounts of the expenses of the late armaments, and the estimates
for the ensuing year, to be laid before you.— Painful as it is to
me, at all times, to see any increase of the public burdens, I am
persuaded you will agree with me in thinking that the extent of
our preparations was dictated by a due regard to the existing cir-
cumstances, and that you will reflect with pleasure, on so striking
a proof of the advantages derived from the liberal supplies granted


1790 ] ADDRESS ON THE KING'S SPEECH. 99
since the last peace for the naval service. I rely on your zeal and
public spirit to make due provision for defraying the charges in-
curred by this armament, and fbr supporting the several branches
of the public service on such a footing as the general situation
of affairs may appear to require. You will at the same time, I am
persuaded, shew your determination invariably to persevere in that
system which has so effectually confirmed and maintained the public
credit of the nation.


" My lords and gentlemen ; you will have observed with con-
cern the interruption which has taken place in the tranquillity of
our Indian possessions, in consequence of the unprovoked attack
on an ally of the British nation. The respectable state, however,
of the forces under the direction of the government there, and the
confidence in the British name, which the system prescribed by
parliament has established among the native powers in India, afford
the most favourable prospect of bringing the contest to a speedy
and successful conclusion. — I think it necessary particularly to
call your attention to the state of the province of Quebec, and to
recommend it to you to consider of such regulations for its go-
vernment, as the present circumstances and condition of the pro-
vince may appear to require. — I am satisfied that I shall, on every
occasion, receive the fullest proofs of your zealous and affectionate
attachment, which cannot but afford me peculiar satisfaction, after
so recent an opportunity of collecting the immediate sense of my
people.— You may be assured that I desire nothing so much on
my part, as to cultivate an entire harmony and confidence between
me and my parliament, for the purpose of preserving and trans-
mitting to posterity the invaluable blessings of our free and ex-
cellent constitution, and of concurring with you in every measure
which can maintain the advantages of our present situation, and




promote
augment the prosperity and happiness of my faithfula


A motion for an address of thanks having been made by Mr.
Mainwaring, and seconded by Mr. Carew,


Mr. Fox begged leave to remind the House, that although
on hearing the address read, there did not seem to him to
be any thing in it that would induce him to do so ungracious
a thing as to oppose it on the first day of the session, and
break through that unanimity which the mover and seconder
had said were so desirable on the present occasion, yet there
were different ways of stating the grounds on which any ho-
nourable gentleman might be ready to support the motion.
The honourable member who had proposed the address,began with saying, that he would not have stood up to move
It, 'had he not been convinced of the important advantages
that would in all probability result from the late convention
with Spain. Mr. Fox desired to disclaim any such motive,
declaring that he should vote for the address from no such
conviction whatever; nay, farther, if he were convinced the


H 2




Too


ADDRESS ON THE KING'S SPEECH. [Nov. 26.


convention was in the highest degree blameable, and so faulty
and disgraceful in all its parts, that it would be shameful to
lend it any sort of countenance, he would not vote against
the address on that account, because the address had care-
fully avoided any mention of it, and the proper information,
by which alone the judgment of the House, and of individual
members, could be guided, was not before them, and it was
impossible for them to try it by its true criterion, —its own
relative merit. In another part of his speech, the honourable
gentleman had, with great propriety, said, that he did not
consider the convention as a fit matter to go into that day,
as the papers promised were not before the House. The
honourable gentleman who seconded the address, went much
farther into the topic, and in a greater degree rested his ar-
gument on the idea, that by the convention ti{e causes of
similar disputes in future were effectually removed. But, for
his part, he must acknowledge, that before he could bring
his mind to that length, he must have better grounds for de-
cision. He must have the convention read to him, and many
necessary explanations given. The honourable gentleman
sat out with laying down an opinion that he hoped every li-
beral man would adopt, and which no man entertained more
heartily than he did, namely, that war. ought not to be un-
dertaken, whenever it could be avoided with honour, nor
merely to increase dominion. Mr. Fox declared, that peace
was undoubtedly preferable to war, under almost any car- b
cumstances, and most especially was it desirable for this
country at present ; nay, more, had this country not been an
island, but a. part of a continent, he should be of opinion
that it would be highly impolitic and unwarrantable to make
war, with a view to increase dominion. In another part of
his speech, in which the honourable gentleman had taken
notice of the different transactions in different parts of Europe,
the honourable gentleman, Mr. Fox remarked, had stated
the condition of the Netherlands, and had said, that it was
policy for this country to promote the return of the Nether-
lands to the dominions or Austria, to prevent their falling
into the hands of a neighbouring power more inimical to
Great Britain. France, he had no doubt, was the power
alluded to. If so, how came it that France was all of a sud-
den a greater object of terror than formerly? He had looked
into the speech from the throne on the opening of the last
session, and he could find no mention of the Netherlands
at that time. The introduction of the allusion to the Ne-
therlands had made much noise out of doors, and it had been
conceived that some new treaties of a special nature had been
entered into recently. All he could say was, That were the


1790.3 ADDRESS ON THE KING'S. SPEECH. IOI


fact so, that House was ignorant of them ; for not a word
upon the subject of any such treaties had been laid before
the House. That passage of his majesty's speech, however,
had been much misinterpreted, and by the word " treaties,"
nothing but the treaty of Utrecht, and indeed almost all
antecedent and subsequent treaties by which this country
became the guarantee to Austria: for the Netherlands, were,
in his opinion, the treaties alluded to. But when Great Bri-
tain so became the guarantee, it must be admitted that she
became the guarantee to the Netherlands that they should be
governed under, and enjoy all the rights and privileges of,
their ancient constitution. Certainly, if the obligation to
interfere with the Netherlands subsisted now, it had subsisted
in equal force last year.


Mr. Fox said, he did not then wish to discuss the state of
France; but whatever might be the difference of opinions
on that, head, all must agree that we had no danger to dread
from France at present more than formerly, but rather much
less, on a great variety of accounts; possibly, the language
of this part of the speech might be nothing more, than its
having been the desire of his majesty, from the natural good-
ness of his heart, to render his mediation successful in re-
storing general tranquillity, and therefore he had chosen to
express, with emphasis, his wishes for universal peace. The
honourable gentleman, among his remarks on the different
affairs of Europe, had taken occasion to compliment mi-
nisters on the peace concluded between Sweden and Russia.
Before it was ascertained whether ministers were in any de-
gree entitled to compliment on that subject, we should en-
deavour to trace how the fact actually stood ; certainly, we
might so far be said to have negotiated with regard to that
peace, as to have taken some part in endeavouring to effect the
peace between the Porte and Austria, and the peace between
Russia and Sweden had suddenly taken place afterwards; but
if the manner in which that peace had been conducted and
settled was considered, perhaps it would not be thought a
very good ground of compliment to ministers. By referring
to the speech, it would not be found, that the separate peace
between Russia and Sweden was stated to have been produced


'directly by his majesty's mediation, or by the wisdom of his
ministers, who, if it had depended on them, would, in all
probability, have acted very differently. If, however, the se-
parate peace that had taken place between those powers, should
eventually tend to the acceleration of the general peace of
Europe, he should consider it as a fortunate circumstance:
If; on the contrary, it should, like most separate treaties of


IT 3




IO2 ADDRESS ON. THE KING'S SPEECH. [NOV. 26.


peace, operate to the protraction of the war, he should then
consider it as an unfortunate event.


With regard to the affairs of Europe in general, a new
order of things had lately presented itself, and the interests
of different powers had taken so different a turn, as well as
the weight and influence of this country, relatively considered,
that it was the undoubted duty of his majesty's ministers
to avail themselves of the circumstance; since, if ever there
was a period when this country might pick and chuse her
allies, this was that period. They had nothing to do but
to ascertain what number of foreign allies it was absolutely
necessary for this country to. have, and having, upon mature
consideration, made up their minds upon that point, they
would then only have to consider on what conditions it
would be the best policy for this country to enter into trea-
ties, and having determined the second point, they ought to
proceed immediately to form such alliances as to their judg-
ment should appear advisable.


In that part of the speech which related to India, Mr.
Fox observed, it was said, " that the confidence in the Bri-
tish name, Which the system prescribed by parliament had
established among the native powers, afford the most 'favour-
able prospect, &c." If by this was meant the general policy
laid down and inculcated by the various acts of parliament
respecting India, passed within these few years, which he had
always considered as their best part, and which he had highly
approved, namely, that we were on no account to carry on
war against any of the native princes with a view to con-
quest, or the extension of territory, it was exceedingly proper.
He had approved and applauded that policy, since it made
the fundamental part of the bill which he had the honour
to introduce, and which that House had passed in a former
parliament. All he would say was, that most undoubtedly
we must defend our allies when attacked. It was not only
a principle of policy, but a principle of justice, and what no
man of common sense would think of arguing against; but
to extend the principle so far as to make a rupture between
two native princes a pretence for our carrying on a war in
India, with a view to extirpate and destroy any particular
prince or nation for the sake of the acquisition of his do-
minions for the East India company, would be to set up the
letter of the acts of parliament against their spirit and their
principle. Merely to send out general instructions to our
governors in India to avoid offensive war, was not a sufficient
enforcement of the principle of the acts Of parliament relative
to the government there established; much depended on
the wise and prudent choice of governors, and a variety of


1790.] MOTION FOR PAPERS, &e. 103
other circumstances necessarily connected with that important
particular.


Mr. Fox at length brought his speech to a conclusion, by
expressing a wish, that his having stated his opinions freely
might not interrupt the harmony of the day, or prevent an
unanimous vote. He declared for one, though he disdained
avowing any approbation of the convention at that time,
that he heartily agreed to the address. How far the means
were wise, or the terms of the convention calculated to answer
the intended purpose, would lie open to subsequent discus-
sion; possibly, a future day would be named for taking it
into consideration, or possibly, it might be laid on the table,
and there suffered to remain without farther notice, as there
might be those who would be better pleased with hearing
terms of general praise on ministers upon the first day of
the session, when neither the subject nor the means of under-
standing it were before the House, than to go into a discus-
sion of its merit when the House should be enabled to try it
by the proper test.


The address was agreed to nem. con.


MR. GREY'S MOTION FOR PAPERS RELATIVE TO THE
CONVENTION WITH SPAIN.


December 3.


'NT the 3d of December copies of the declaration and counter-
‘--/ declaration exchanged at Madrid, July 2 4. and of the conven-
tion with Spain, signed the 28th of October, 1790 ; together with
the expellees of the late armament, &c. were laid before the
House ; and on the 1 3 th Mr. Grey moved for " Copies of all
claims and representations made by the court of Spain, relative to
any settlement that has been made on the north western coast of
America, and-to the fisheries carried on by British subjects in the
South Seas, together with the answers that have been given to such
claims and representations, with the respective dates thereto."
Mr. Grey insisted that a vote of approbation of the convention
would be 'premature, unless these papers were laid upon the table.
Without them, it would be impossible to know whether the late
disputes had been owing to the restless ambition and unjust claims
of Spain, or to the rashness, presumption, or ignorance of his ma-
jesty's ministers. Without the necessary papers, it was difficult
to decide whether we might not have gained all the boasted ad-
vantages which its advocates imputed to the convention, at a


H 4




104 MOTION FOR PAPERS RELATIVE TO [Dec. 13,


much less expence than what had been incurred. He was con-
scious that no one reasonable objection could be offered against
the motion, and that the journals sufficiently testified that such
motions were scarcely ever refused. In the case of Falkland's
Island, and even in the case of the convention of 1739, all the
papers demanded were laid before the House, and a body of evi-
dence produced, before they were called upon to pass a judg-
ment upon either treaty. The House ought, in the present case,
not only to see the treaty itself, but every part of the negociation,
as every measure took its colour from the means used to effect it.—
The motion, which was seconded by Mr. Pelham, was principally
opposed by Mr. Wilberforce, who insisted, that the true dignity
of the House would be best maintained by resisting effectually
the present, and every motion, made under the like circumstances.
He contended, that parliamentary inquiry ought not to be set on
foot without strong grounds of suspicion, or manifest blame ; and
that an inquiry ought to be considered of too much importance
to be applied for on grounds of simple curiosity. He asked gen-
tlemen, whether they must not be convinced, that should the
motion be agreed to, the quantity of papers that would be neces-
sarily produced, from a long negociation, might afford foundation
for sonic censure ? He should be the last man in the blouse to give
up the right of inquiry ; but he would reserve it for important
occasions, and not agree to its exercise on every petty summons.
He contended, that the negociation relative to Falkland's Island was
materially different from the late negociation with Spain ; in the
affair of Falkland's Island there was a reservation of right ; in the
present, no such reservation was maintained. Party at that time
ran high : he well remembered that impeachments were threatened,
and blood, blocks, and gibbets were mentioned. Ministers had,
in the late negociation, avoided the evils of war ; they had made
*n amicable settlement between the two countries, and opened a
way for advantageous treaties. For his own part, he could truly
declare, that he and his constituents felt thankful to the minister
for his conduct ; and the present House of Commons would act
honourably to themselves, and advantageously to the country,
should they adopt the conduct of the former parliament, in giving
to administration that confidence which they highly merited from
their past conduct. All the power and authority of that House
centered in the opinion of the people, and that would soon be lost,
if upon such occasions they granted the exercise of the right of
inquiry. He conceived that the approbation of the convention
given by the city of London was much more to be attended to
than the idle gratification of a few individuals.


Mr. Fox observed that, on the present occasion, he might
have felt himself induced silently to vote in favour of the mo-
tion, but the question had been so ably argued on the one
side, and so weakly opposed on the other, by a friend of the
minister, who had libelled every principle of the constitution,
as well as struck at the root of the first and most essential right


1790'3 THE CONVENTION WITH SPAIN.
I03


and privilege of that House, that, odd as it might seem in
him to make such a declaration, he wished that the other side,
if they meant to reject the motion, had not given a single ar-


fi
vument against it, but would have rejected it upon silent con-
dence, because, if they rejected it, after what had passed in


debate, their negative must rest on the reasoning of the ho-
-nourable gentleman alone, who had opposed it upon such ex-
traordinary and unconstitutional grounds. Better would it
be to recur to the ancient despotism of the kingdom, in the
most arbitrary times, and consider themselves as met there to
vote away the money of their constituents, without inquiry
If they voted their money thus, they betrayed them, by not
seeing how every shilling of that money was employed, and
judging for themselves whether or not those entrusted with its
application had applied it wisely, prudently, and economically.
They were not such children in politics, as to need to be told
that the merit of every convention and peace must be compa-
rative, and could only be ascertained by a reference to the
circumstances under which it had been made, and the ad-
vantage that ministers had taken of those circumstances. And
how could that be known, when all the papers likely to throw
a light upon the subject were obstinately withheld ? On the
face of the convention, it was said to be good: now, he declared,
that on the face of it, it was evil, because much money had
been expended to obtain it; and he would ask those who saw
perspicuity and dignity in the convention, whether it was clear,
that if we could be put, bone de, in the state we were in be-
fore the convention was obtained, they could say it was not
purchased too dearly ? At any rate, such an assertion could
not be credited, till they were, by the aid of the papers asked
for by the motion, enabled to judge whether the same thing
might not have been had at an earlier time, and at less ex-
pence to the country. He insisted that the doctrine of the
honourable gentleman who had opposed the motion was not
merely inconsistent with the principles of our constitution, but
diametrically opposite to those principles. With regard to
confidence, every government of every description had ne-
cessarily and unavoidably placed more confidence in minis-
ters than was safe ; and the oniy security which we had under
our constitution, was, that after the effects were produced for
which confidence had been given, by parliament exercising
its inquisitorial functions, no minister could escape detection,
it he had abused the confidence reposed in him. If, however,
the honourable gentleman's doctrine were to prevail, and that
House were not to enquire in cases of foreign negociation or
treaty unless the transaction had, upon the face of it, some-
thing bad, or which challenged suspicion, how was it pos-




41111,
I 06 MOTION FOR PAPERS RELATIVE TO [DCC. 1 3.


sible for them to exercise their functions with advantage to
their constituents, or to detect the abuse of ministers, if
abuse of public confidence had been practised, since, as his
honourable friend had well observed, he must be a bad mi-
nister, indeed, who in such a case could not gloss over his
conduct, and make his friends say, that, upon the face of a
treaty, it bore proofs that it was a good treaty for this coun-
try, and that to attempt to enquire into it would be to in-
terfere with the most essential prerogative of the crown. If
they had stood on the privileges of that House, as the trustees
of the public purse, with as much firmness as the gentlemen
on the other side had that day stood on the prerogative of the
crown, they could not have voted what they did last year,
but there would have been on one side a dry maintenance of
privilege, and a stiff adherence to prerogative on the other,
to the serious inconvenience of the public, and to the extreme
injury of their interests. When they gave confidence, they
ought to receive information in return, and the time was now
arrived when information might be given without danger.
In order to illustrate the impossibility of their joining in a
vote in favour of the convention, as it lay upon the table
unexplained, Mr. Fox declared that he would state an hy-
pothesis exactly different from his real opinion, and suppose
Spain to have granted terms highly advantageous to this
country ; how could lie know whether they were so or not,


3before he examined the convention, and the grounds upon
which it had been settled ? How could he give praise to mi-
nisters before he knew whether the convention was good or
not ? It could not be said to be good, unless we had attained
something and lost nothing ; unless we had procured some-
thing for nothing, it must remain a matter of great doubt
whether it was good or bad. How could he tell whether
Spain was not inclined to disarm much earlier than we had
consented to do ? And report said, that Spain had long since
signified her inclination to disarm, provided this country
would do the same. An honourable gentleman had ex-
pressed a hope that the minister would not suffer his " vanity
" to be piqued." He would not talk of any man's vanity ;
but if the minister, Mr. Fox said, had any honourable pride,
what satisfaction could he have in that praise which came
from those who knew not the grounds of it, who could nei-
ther tell whether the thing done could not have been done
at a less expence, or in less time? It was better to be con-
tent with the praise of his own mind, since the right honour-
able gentleman knew more of the matter than they did, an .
consequently his approbation was of ten times the value of
theirs. The honourable gentleman having feared that pre-


I0


1790.] THE CONVENTION WITH SPAIN. 107


cedent would fail him, had abandoned precedents to have
recourse to authority. He himself, Mr. Fox declared, ap-
proved authority : but how did he know what information
the city of London was possessed of respecting the conven-
tion ? If they approved of it without inquiry, was that a
reason for the House to praise it without inquiry ? And was
the conduct of the city of London to be brought forward as
an infallible example for that House ? He reverenced the au-
thority ofthe city of London, and had often supported it against
the right honourable the chancellor of the exchequer, who was
not always in the humour to favour the conduct of the city. He
believed that it could not be denied, that the authority of the
city of London on . the shop-tax and the tobacco-bill, was as
much to be depended on, as upon a subject which the House
of Commons must not enquire into. But it had been said by
an honourable and learned gentleman, who had spoken early
in the debate, (Serjeant Watson,) that it might revive griev-
ances. What, he would ask, was to have this serious effect ?
Why, letting the House of Commons know what the courts
of Spain and of Great Britain knew full well already ! The
Spaniards, said a noble lord (Belgrave,)were a proud, haughty
people, but they were slow and tedious and operose, and, of
course, forced us to make a great preparation for war, when
one would naturally imagine that the very reverse, would
have been the consequence of such a character as the noble
lord had been pleased to give them. Let not the House,
therefore, upon such arguments as these, negative a motion
founded in true wisdom ; and, above all, let them not give to
administration that base and treacherous confidence which
had been recommended that day ; a confidence founded in
ignorance, which was a disgrace to their understandings, and
a breach of trust to their constituents. Another noble lord
(Carysfort) had stated rather a whimsical hypothesis, and
had said, that possibly when they came to consider the merits
of the convention, they might disapprove of it, and then it
would be right to call for the papers. Let them see what a
curious situation following the noble lord's advice would pro-
bably place them in ? They would reject the present motion,
and when, upon investigation of the convention, they should
see ground for censure, they would then stand convicted of
having rashly and prematurely negatived a motion, which
they had found that they ought to have adopted in the first
instance. If they approved the convention, trying it by the
true test, the information the papers would afford, they
would escape incurring so ridiculous a dilemma. During the
last session of parliament, when these papers had been asked
for, and another motion for other papers had been made by




108 MOTION FOR PAPERS RELATIVE TO [Dec. 13.


him, the words " during a pending negotiation" were as
common in the mouths of the minister's friends, who opposed
the motion, as " Mr. Speaker," and " I rise, Sir," were com-
mon in the forms of address, as words of course, in that
House. There was riot a single speaker who did not lay great
stress on the pending negotiation. What was the natural in-
ference? that the production of the papers was to be objected
to during the pending negotiation, and that when the nego-
tiation should be brought to a termination, the objection
would be done away. How was this reconcileable with the
negative of the majority of that House, which the right ho-
nourable gentleman had, a few days since; in so extraordinary
a manner anticipated? In the debates relative to the affair of
Falkland Island, the very sort of papers then asked for had
been granted ; and why should they not be granted at pre-
sent ? The honourable gentleman, who first opposed the mo-
tion, contended, that in the debates on the Falkland Island
affair, impeachments, and axes, and gibbets, were mentioned.
Was that all ? He had thought that, exclusive of the able
and masterly manner in which his honourable friend had
opened the ground of his motion, one great and striking merit
of his speech had been, that, although he laid proper energy
on each argument necessary to support the question, he had
strictly confined himself to saying what the subject required,
and had not gone out of the case beyond its due limits. If
his honourable friend had talked widely of impeachments, and
gibbets, and axes, the two cases, to use a vulgar phrase, would
have run upon all fours, and he might probably have suc-
ceeded ; but the untimely omission had proved fatal to his
motion. With regard to those axes and gibbets, those ele-
gant expressions, those beautiful tropes and figures of speech
—according to the honourable gentleman's argument, it was
to be understood that the House, at that time, having voted
for axes and gibbets, occasioned the papers to be called for,
and their not having done so in this instance, was the true
reason why the motion was likely to be negatived. One ho-
nourable gentleman had talked of the necessity of having a
strong administration. "When the affairs of Europe wore a
critical aspect, a strong administration was highly necessary ;
but if by what lie had said on this head, the honourable gen-
tleman meant an administration which could do strong things,
without being subject to the control of parliament, he must say,
that this strength led to the excess of weakness, and would
ultimately prove fatal to the existence of our constitution. If
such praise was pleasing to the present minister, and he con-
ceived conduct of that sort tended to the glory of the country,
the glory of the country would bring on its destruction. If


1790.]109THE CONVENTION WITH SPAIN.


such, therefore, was the minister's relish, Mr. Fox declared
that, though no personal friend to that minister, he had ever
thought better of him, than to suppose him capable of receiv-


'iug satisfaction from such gross flattery : he must, indeed, have
a very low mind for so exalted a situation r Mr. Fox exclaim-
ed, " Oh ! what a better word was the old English parlia-
mentary term ' jealousy,' to express the duty of that House,
than the modern substitute ' confidence,' which had of late
been adopted !" Formerly, the first great duty of every mem-
ber of the House of Commons was, that he should regard
every act of the administration with jealousy, and watch their
conduct with the utmost vigilance and attention. Now, blind
confidence was dwelt upon as the great function of that House,
and they were desired to extend the degree of credit which
they gave the minister to such an extravagant length, as to
vote away millions of their constituents' money, without ex-
pecting to know in what manner it had been expended. In
fact, their duty was not only to judge whether the minister was
an honest minister, but (what they had also a right to expect)
a bold, an able, a prudent, and a wise minister. The way to
have a bold, an able, a prudent, and a wise minister, was to let
him know, dint he was to be responsible to that House for all his
measures, and that his conduct was to be, from time to time,
enquired into. An ingenuous mind would court inquiry, and
be proud to have every public measure which he brought for-
ward scrupulously investigated. The moment, therefore, in
which the House abandoned that part of its duty, the conduct
of administration became dangerous and delusive,; because a
minister, who knew that his conduct would not be enquired
into, might be tempted to pursue bad measures, till at last he
involved his country in irretrievable ruin. The honourable
gentleman who first opposed his honourable friend's motion,
Mr. Fox said, had left the other side of the House a hole to
creep out at, in defence of the negative to the motion, by
saying, " for these and other reasons he should oppose the
motion." It; therefore, the motion was to be negatived, he
hoped it would be for the unmentioned reasons, and not for
those unconstitutional reasons which had been insisted upon.
Mr. Fox alluded to what Mr. Wilberforce had observed
relative to the information he had received from his consti-
tuents, of their being satisfied with the convention, declaring
that he should be glad to hear that the manufacturers had
reason to think Spain more ready to encourage their goods
than heretofore, but report had talked very differently upon
the subject, and inferred, that a higher duty had lately been
imposed on all English manufactures imported into Spain
than ever,




I IO ADDRESS ON THE CONVENTION WITH SPAIN. [Dec. 14.
The motion was also supported by Mr. Windham, Mr. Jekyll,


Mr. Lambton, Lord North, and Mr. Powys ; and opposed by Lord
Belgrave, Sir W. Young, Mr. Serjeant Watson, Lord Carysfort,
Mr. Drake, and Mr. Pitt. On a division, the numbers were,


Tellers.
S •
J Frskine


Tellers.
Mr. Neville j 258.YEAS { 1r - • " SteeleMr. A dam 34.—N°Es Mr..St


So it passed in the negative.


ADDRESS ON THE CONVENTION WITH SPAIN.


December 14.


THIS clay, Mr. Duncombe moved, " That an humble Addresshe presented to his majesty, assuring his majesty that his
faithful Commons have proceeded to an attentive consideration of
the declarations exchanged between his majesty's ambassador and
the minister of the catholic king, and of the convention which has
since been concluded, and which his majesty has been graciously
pleased to lay before us. That they are eager to embrace the first
opportunity of offering to his majesty their cordial congratulations
on so satisfactory an issue of the late negociation, which has con-
tinued to these kingdoms the blessings of peace, has maintained
the honour of his majesty's crown, by providing an adequate repa-
ration for the violence which was committed at Nootka, and
has secured to his majesty's subjects the exercise of their ne-
gociation, commerce, and fisheries in those parts of the world
which were the subject of discussion ; and that they observe, at
the same time, with peculiar pleasure, the happy prospect which
is afforded by this amicable arrangement, avoiding future occasions
of misunderstanding with the court of Spain, and of preserving
that harmony which must. so essentially promote the interest of the
two countries."—After the address had been supported by Alder-
men Watson and Curtis, Mr. Stanley, Sir William Young, Mr.
Dundas, Colonel Phipps, Lord Muncaster, and Mr. Ryder ; and
opposed by Mr. Pulteney, Mr. Lowden, Mr. Windham, and by
Mr. Grey, who moved an adjournment,


Mr. Fox rose anti prefaced a most able discussion of the merits
of the convention, and the general policy of Great Britain with
respect to foreign powers, with sonic remarks on the singular
manner in which the debate had been opened. It was hardly
worth while to notice particular modes of speaking, except
when, by frequent repetition, they grew into a sort. of fashion,
and .seemed to convey ideas not strictly constitutional. It was
perfectly fair for any gentleman to say that he had the ho-


1790.] ADDRESS ON THE CONVENTION WITH SPAIN. I I I


Hour of representing an extensive county, or a great commer-
cial city, and that such or such he conceived to be the sense
of his constituents; but to introduce this with a view of giv-
ing greater weight to the opinion that he was to deliver, or
any weight but what it might derive from the force of his
argument, was neither proper nor parliamentary. The lead-
ing principle of the House was, that all the members, whether
knights of shires, citizens, or burgesses, were on a footing of
perfect equality. They were not to consider themselves indi-
vidually as the representatives of this or that particular body,
but as the representatives of the people of Great Britain, and
in this point of view, the voice and opinion of a member re-
turned by the most rotten borough in the kingdom were of
equal authority with those of a member returned by the most
populous city or county. This mode of speaking, however,
the gentlemen who moved and seconded the address, had
thought proper to adopt, and with a reference also to the
opinion of their constituents on the measure before the House.
How they were assured of that opinion, it was not his business
to enquire. As far as he had heard, it was a measure on
winch the country at large was much divided; and on which
few gentlemen could venture to pronounce what was the opi-z,
Mon of the majority of their constituents. But it was the duty
of the House to examine it on its own proper merits, without
regard to opinions, or reports of opinions, and instead of de-
bating about what were the sentiments of the manufacturers
of Yorkshire or the merchants of London respecting it, to
confine their attention to such information and such docu-
ments as were regularly before them.


A noble lord (Muncaster) had expressed his surprise at the
present conduct of gentlemen on his side of the House, com-
pared with their conduct on a similar occasion, ill 1 7 8 7, when
the interposition of this country in the affairs of Holland was
under discussion. Those who had alluded to that transaction,
had done him the justice to acknowledge that he had liberally
commended the measures then adopted ; and this, instead of
exciting their surprise, ought to be considered as a proof of
his sincerity in condemning the measures now under discus-
sion. If the late measures were so generally, popular as they
had been represented, those who voluntarily incurred the risk
of unpopularity, by arguing against them, were surely entitled
to credit for the purity of their motives. It was easy at all
thnes to swim with the tide, and something might be gained
by flattering popular opinion. To oppose it, was a task as
unprofitable as ungracious; and he who undertook it, must
reasonably be supposed to act under the influence of some
stronger and more laudable motive than the affectation of




112 ADDRESS ON THE CONVENTION WITH SPAIN. [Dec. 14,


singularity. He was ready to own, that-he wished for popu-
larity ; he had enjoyed the possession of it ; he had been mor-
tified by its loss. Neither the one nor the other depended on
himself; but it was alw7ays in his power to do what he felt to
be his duty ; and he had ever held the pleasing of his con-
stituents to be an inferior consideration to that of discharging
the duty with which they had entrusted him. An honourable
gentleman, the representative of a large county, (Mr. Rolle,)
had said, that his constituents reposed great confidence in the
minister. Their confidence was no argument for the confi-
dence of the House. He, as the representative of a city, not
the least populous or opulent in the kingdom, composed of
inhabitants of as various descriptions, and likely to be as well
informed as those of any other, could refer to stronger proofs
of the confidence of his constituents than any that the honour-
able gentleman could produce, were he to consider these as
any corroboration of his argument.


Instead, however, of resorting to this sort of authority, he
wished to enter into the discussion of the convention on such
information as the House had before them ; and first, to give
his reasons for voting for the motion of adjournment, rather
than for a motion of praise or of censure. When the House
resolved last night that they would see no papers but the
papers on their table, they precluded inquiry, and, of course,
rendered censure and approbation equally improper. When
the necessary illustrations were refused, it was impossible to
say whether the measure was beneficial or the contrary. Had
they any means of knowing that the terms obtained by the
convention, or terms relatively as good, could not have been
obtained in the first stage of the business, before the decla-
ration and counter-declaration were exchanged, immediately
after they were exchanged, or at some intermediate period,
between that and the 4th of November ? If they had pre-
cluded themselves from knowing the circumstances on which
the merit or demerit of the negotiation so essentially de-
pended, on what pretence could they either censure or ap-
prove? If it was true that Spain had offered to disarm im-
mediately after the exchange of the two declarations, which
there was reason to believe, although they had resolved that
they would not enquire, ought they to pass a vote of thanks
to his majesty's ministers, when, by agreeing to disarm in
August, the greater part of the expence„ and much of the loss
and inconvenience naturally resulting from the hazard of war,
might have been saved ? These were surely good grounds for
suspending their opinion : but if lie thought the convention
as good, advantageous, and secure, as he thought it bad,
secure, and inadequate to . what. the .country had a right to:


1790.1 ADDRESS ON THE CONVENTION WITH SPAIN.
I I3


demand, he would not vote for an address of approbation,
on the blind confidence that was demanded of him; and for
this too, some additional reasons had appeared in the course
of the debate.


The honourable magistrate who seconded the address, had
felt. himself called upon to give a specimen of his local know-
ledge, from which he had been able to collect no more than that
the Straits of Magellan were to be found in the extremity of
the south of America. But lie had traversed the globe, from.
the north-west to the north-east, and emphatically demanded,


who did not see that we must continue armed, till the Bal-
tic presented to the northern fleets a plain of impenetrable ice?'
If it was true, that the fleets of the Baltic had been the reason
for our continuing armed, which, as well from the quarter
whence the intimation had come, as from other circumstances,
there was ground to suspect, he should be glad to hear it from
authority. On the policy of such conduct he would not touch;
but if ministers had kept up an armament for one purpose,
they ought not to call upon the House to pay for it under
colour of another. This, on the face of it, would be a cir-
cumstance of strong suspicion, which, if they suffered to pass
over without examination, they were no longer the controllers
and the judges of public measures, but mere tools in the hands
of the executive power. It had been observed by some one,
that free governments were ill calculated for those master
strokes of policy, by which one end was more easily effected,
while another was pretended to be kept in view. Now, he
conceived it was a merit in free governments, not a defect, that
they prevented those strokes of crooked and insidious policy,
which none but the weak would admire, and none but the
wicked would execute. Were the House to sanction such a
line of conduct, the government of this country would be
worse and more faithless than the most absolute despotism ;
because, under the colour of a free government, ministers, by
collusion with the House, would be enabled more effectually to
deceive. It was a fundamental principle of our government,
and a principle never to be departed from, that the House qif
Commons was, on no pretext, to vote money for one purpose,
"hen the expence had been incurred for another. He should
not have said so much on the strength of an observation from
an honourable gentleman not immediately connected with,
though very friendly to administration, if it I ad not struckiy l ( y 0 ( Ill t 1,
him as being, perhaps, the clue by which the whole mystery
might be unravelled, of keeping up an armament, while theCause was so studiously screened from examination.


It bad been the general language of one side of the House
I° magnify the necessity of vindicating the insulted honour of


'OX„




114 ADDRESS ON THE CONVENTION WITH SPAIN.
[Dec. 14,


the country. On this point he entertained the same opinion
now that he had fairly stated in the late parliament. He had
given it as his opinion, that reparation ought to be made for
the insult offered to the national honour, and that no repara-
tion ought to be deemed sufficient, that did not include in it
a security against future insult. Honour to nations was, per-
Imps, the only justifiable or rational ground of contest. Wars
for the sake of conquest, of acquiring dominion, or extending
trade, were equally unjust and impolitic. He who vindicated
the honour of a country, was the advocate for its dearest in-
terests; because, to vindicate its honour was to secure its
peace. This principle had been adopted in the beginning of
the dispute. He would, then, examine how it had been fol-
lowed, and trusted that he should shew that the point of
honour had been compromised in the very first step. Repara-
tion for the insult was the first object, and the arrangement for
preventing future disputes, the second. He should consider
each in its order.


The reparation obtained was, prima' facie, insufficient. It
fell infinitely short of that which had been obtained on the
dispute about Falkland Islands, notwithstanding the affecta-
tion of contempt with tvhich the satisfaction demanded on that
occasion had been treated: Reparation was then the only ob.
ject in view, and it was obtained in its fullest extent ; for•Spain agreed to put every thing in the same situation as be-
fore the insult complained of was committed, and actually did
so. In that case, there was a full and complete restoration
in this, there was only a declaration of a disposition to restore
but without any restoration in fact. It was true, that a very
respectable minority of the House of Commons had disap-
proved of the terms then obtained ; and at the head of those
who thought the reparation insufficient, was the late Earl of
Chatham ; but, was it to be compared with the mere verbal
restitution ? — for as yet no more was obtained by the conven-
tion. If he disapproved of that, what terms of reprobation
would he not have applied to this? Had we abandoned all
claim to every part of north-west America, having made a set
tlement at Nootka, with no intention of infringing on the rights
of Spain, but under the idea of a just right, that settlemen t
ought to have been first restored to us in the same situation
as we possessed it, as a reparation for the insult received by
the forcible ejection ; and therefore, in the only fair coin.
parison that could be made between the two cases, the pre
sent convention was worse than the despised convention of
Falkland Islands. A learned gentleman, (Mr. Dundas,) had
strongly censured the convention of 1771, because it had not
cut off the occasion of future quarrel, as the present did, by


1790.] ADDRESS ON THE CONVENTION WITH SPAIN.
Y I


confining the pretensions of Spain within proper limits. Yet
that convention, bad as he now thought it, the learned gentle-
man had been within eighteen months of supporting; for hav-
ing supported all the measures of the ministers who made it,
from the clay on which he took his seat in parliament to the
clay on which they went out of office, it was more than pro-
bable that he would have supported that also, had be been
in parliament when it took place. The learned gentleman
ought to recollect that, on that occasion, no arrangement to
prevent future disputes had been promised ; and that all that
was promised had been performed. He ought, therefore, to
have treated that convention with less severity, if not from
regard for his former friends, as a mark of gratitude for the
fruit it had produced. If, as he had argued, it contained the
seeds of the late dispute, which, in twenty years, had grown
to maturity, and afforded an occasion for obtaining the
estimable advantages which the learned gentleman attributed
to the present convention, so far it was accessary to the
boasted triumph of the minister, and so far, at least, it was,
entitled to the learned gentleman's respect.


The learned gentleman had also said, from information
which he no doubt possessed, but of which the House knew
nothing, that the advantages of the present convention were
in a great Measure owing to the length of the negociation.
Had it been but sufficiently protracted, it was impossible to
say how high the sum of our gains might have risen ! But as
these were facts known only to ministers, they. formed an addi,
tional reason for coming to no vote, without farther information.
It had been amplified as a great accession of national ho-
nour, that we had broke through an unreasonable claim, not
only for ourselves, but for all other nations, and that it be-
caine the dignity of a great people to destroy such claims where-
ever they were found. But would any man seriously defend
the romantic doctrine, that we were to make all other powers
with whom we might have a dispute, renounce absurd claims,
perhaps in no wise connected with it, before we agreed to an
accommodation? On this principle, might his majesty be at-
tacked for his claim to the title of King of France, and the
Kings of Naples and Sardinia, for styling themselves Kings of
Cyprus and Jerusalem. All that we had to do with the
claims of other nations, however absurd they might be, was,
when they were made the occasion of difference, to insist on
their being so regulated as to prevent disputes in future. Of
those who had been concerned in the convention of FalklandIslands, he had the honour of living in habits of friendship
with some: others were members of the present administra-tion, and might be supposed to have atoned for their share in


2




II6 ADDRESS ON THE CONVENTION WITH SPAIN. [Dec. 14.


that transaction, by the great and important services to which
they bad lent their aid in that capacity. It was, therefore,
rather hard to revive the opprobrious memory of that measure,
for the sake of a reflected compliment to the minister—not
the minister in whose office the business of the convention was
transacted, but the minister who presented it to the House of
Commons, and to whom all the honour of it was attributed,
as if it had been his own single act, from the fondness that
had lately prevailed of praising men who were present. Of
that honour, however, the other members of the cabinet ought
to have their share, and it was unkind to allude to the pusilla-
nimous convention or Falkland Islands, as it was now called,
when the president of the council had atoned for his share of
the demerit of that transaction, by his share of the merit of
this. It was evident, however, that we had fallen short of our
first object. The reparation promised was incomplete, and
what was promised had not been performed. On the point
of honour we had nothing to boast; for the ground of our
triumph, we must therefore look to the arrangement made for
preventing future disputes.


He was ready to admit that the occasion was fiivourable
for settling all disputes respecting the undefined claims of
Spain. The right honourable the chancellor of the exche-
quer, when he presented his majesty's message to the House,
had said, that full and complete satisfaction must be obtained
for the insult offered to the national honour, previous to
any discussion of the contested right, and that no satisfac-
tion would be considered as complete, which did not take
away the ground of future quarrel. This determination the
House adopted, and he rejoiced in the prospect of avoiding
the trouble and expellee of a tedious discussion of a question
of right. In the conduct of the business, however, a con-
trary mode had been adopted. We had contrived to bring
the question of right into discussion almost in the very first
instance, and after satisfaction for the insult was offered
and accepted, the convention, which thus became a distinct
object, had cost as much as the reparation for our injured
honour. The learned gentleman seemed to triumph in this
expence, and demanded, whether it could be considered
as bearing a comparison to what it had been the means of
obtaining? In estimating what we bad obtained, we must take
into the account what we had concealed; and by this cri-
terion he should try the second part of the convention.


In the early part of the debate, he had heard nothing but
rodomontade about our acquisition—nothing but of new
sources of trade, new objects of enterprize, new oceans and
new continents opened to the activity of our merchants and


1•790,] ADDRESS ON THE CONVENTION WITH SPAIN.
117


the courage of our sailors ! Such flowers of rhetoric were
elegant embellishments, equally convenient to give force to
argument, or to conceal the want of it: but, was it true that
we had opened any of those sources, or made a single acqui-
sition? An honourable gentleman, who spoke immediately
before him, (Mr. Ryder,) had put the question on its true


d Having caught the contagion of the speakers whogrouns.
preceded him on the same side, he had talked of gaining and
acquiring, but, in the progress of his argument, he had very
properly stated that we had acquired nothing, but only ob-
tained security for what we possessed before. This was pre-
cisely what we had obtained; an advantage, no doubt, because
it was often wise to give up part of an unlimited right, to
secure the uninterrupted possession of the rest ; but an ad-
vantage to be estimated by comparing what we gave up with
what we retained.


What, then, was the extent of our rights before the con-
vention — (whether admitted or denied by Spain was of no
consequence) — and to what extent were they now secured
to us? 'We possessed and exercised the free navigation of the
pacific ocean, without restraint or limitation. We pos-
sessed and exercised the right of carrying on fisheries in the
south seas, equally unlimited. This was no barren right,
but a right of which we had availed ourselves, as appeared
by the papers on the table, which shewed that the produce
of it had increased in five years from twelve to ninety-seven
thousand pounds. This estate we had, and were daily im-
proving; it was not to be disgraced by the name of an ac-
quisition. The admission of part of these rights by Spain
was all we had obtained. It remained to enquire what it
had cost. Our right before was to settle in any part of South
or North-west America, not fortified against us by previous
occupancy, and we were now restricted to settle in certain
Places only, and under certain restrictions. This was an im-
portant concession on our part. Our rights of fishing ex-
tended to the whole ocean, and now it too was limited and to
be carried on within certain distances of the Spanish settle-
ments. Our right of making settlements was not, as now,
a right to build huts, but to plant colonies, if we thought
proper. Surely these were not acquisitions, or rather con-
quests, as they must be considered, if we were to 'judge by
the triumphant language respecting them, but great and im-
portant concessions ! Every new regulation was a concession,
not an acquisition. It was, indeed, said, in his majesty's
message to both Houses of parliament, that a claim was as-
serted by Spain to the exclusive rights of sovereignty, navi-
gation, and commerce, in the territories, coasts, and seas in


1 3




118 ADDRESS ON THE CONVENTION WITH SPAIN. [Dec. 14;
that part of the world : but, was a message from his majesty
a sufficient authority to the House for the nature and extent
of , the claims of Spain ? An honourable baronet had said;


Look into all the treaties, from the time of Charles the
Second to the treaty of Utrecht, and there the romantic and
unwarrantable claims of Spain will appear.' Were that
statement correct, the consequence must be, that our claims
en Spain were unjust and unwarrantable, and insisting on
them a direct violation of the faith of treaties; because, where-
ever the claims of Spain were recorded, the concessions of
Great Britain Were recorded also. But he rejoiced for his
country that it was not so. He was as much a friend to the
Claims of Spain, sanctioned by the treaty of Utrecht, as Count
Florida Blanca, or any Spanish minister, because they were
founded in justice. These were an exclusive right of terri-
tory, navigation, and commerce, on the seas and coasts of
Spanish America. The absurd and extravagant claims arose
from extending the term Spanish America, to seas and coasts
where Spain had no right of occupancy, and in this exten-
sion of the term had every one of our preceding disputes
about the claims of Spain originated. To what did we object
before, but to the indefinite limits of Spanish America? The
objection still remained ; for the limits of Spanish America
were still undefined ; not, perhaps, in a way so likely to
create disputes as formerly, but still sufficiently vague and
uncertain to alibrd a pretext where there was a previous.
disposition to quarrel:


On this point, therefore, abstractedly considered, we had
gained nothing. We had renounced the right of permanent
settlement on the whole extent of South America, and where
the admitted right of settlement on the north-west coast com-
menced was completely undefined. If it was said at Nootka,
we did not know that Nootka would be restored. It was,
indeed, stinnlated by the first article of the convention, that
all the buildings and tracts of land of which we had been
dispossessed about the month of April 178n, were to be re-
stored. Why, about the month of April was mentioned in
so indefinite a way, a learned gentleman had endeavoured
to explain, by saying that there was danger in mentioning
a particular day, because if any mistake of date should occur,
that might give rise to dispute. If Captain Meares's au-
thority was good for any thing, it was surely good for the
date at which his ship was taken, and that, °by his own
accounts was on the i 3 th of May. Why about the month
of April was inserted as the date of what happened in Map
being on the face of it unaccountable, gave reason to imagine
that it was,


done to answer some purpose, and consequently


790,1 ADDRESS ON THE CONVENTION WITH SPAIN. /1C9


excited suspicion. By the second article, it was provided,
that every thing of which either party had been forcibly
dispossessed by the other, subsequent to the month of April,
should be restored, or a just compensation made. Now, as
there was some ground to believe that we had been dispos-
sessed of Nootka subsequent to that period, how could we be
sure that Spain, instead of restoring it, would not offer a
compensation? The learned gentleman said it was otherwise
agreed upon. If he knew that, he knew more than the
House knew. They were allowed no information; they were
directed to read the text straight forward as it were with
blinkers on their eyes, to prevent them from looking to the
right or left. By the third article, we are authorised to
navigate the Pacific Ocean and South Seas unmolested, for
the purpose of carrying on our fisheries, and to land on the
unsettled coasts for the purpose of trading with the natives ;
but after this pompous recognition of right to navigation,
fishery, and commerce, comes another article, the sixth,
which takes away all right of landing, and erecting even
temporary huts for any purpose but that of carrying on the
fishery, and amounts to a complete dereliction of all right to
settle in any way for the purpose of commerce with the
natives.


If he were asked what was the value of the part of South
America, to which we had thus renounced all claim, he
would answer, that he had no means of judging but by the
accounts that had been given of it ; nor was its intrinsic value
of any consequence. It had been described by an honour-
able magistrate as a bleak and inhospitable region, productive
of nothing; and by another honourable gentleman, as con-
taining mines of unknown and inestimable value. These
were figurative mines, no doubt; but whether figurative or
real, what reason had we to deprive ourselves of any pro-


• bable or possible advantage that might be drawn from it
without an equivalent ? Were he, however, to admit, that it
was a tract of country from which we were likely to reap no
advantage, and in which we should probably never form a
settlement, in bestowing a boon, the value to him that re-
ceived was as much to be considered as the worth to him
that gave. It was, perhaps, of little value to us, but it was
of great value to Spain. To remove all possibility of our
ever forming a settlement to the south of her American co-
lonies, was an object for which she would have been willing
to pay a liberal price. Ministers who had been meditating
a war against her, might know better than he the horror
which she always felt at the idea of her American colonies
being visited by any European power. But, independent


4




520 ADDRESS ON THE CONVENTION WITH SPAIN. {Dec.


of the anxious jealousy with which she had always watched
those colonies, he knew that the vicinity of an enlightened
and free people would be considered by her as an object
of antipathy and dread. In renouncing all right to make
settlements in South America, we had given to Spain what
she considered as inestimable, and had in return been con-
tented with dross.


If the southern whale fishery was of the great importance
it was stated to be, in respect to it also, we had made a con-
cession of great moment. He would not dwell on what he
had been told, of the most valuable fish being only to be found
near the shore, or of their making to it, when wounded, as
to a place of shelter, because it was to him only matter of
report; bat he knew, as a politician, that a restriction from
approaching within ten leagues of the coast, was a demark-
ation of limits not calculated to give security, but to create
dispute. His majesty engaged by the fourth article to take
the most effectual measures to prevent the fishery from being
made a pretext for smuggling, which if he did not, the whole
treaty fell to the ground. How was that to be done on a
distant coast, which all the vigilance of government could
not do on our own ? If the words " effectual measures" were
to be liberally interpreted the best measures in his power,
what measures was it in his power to take, that, under such
a limit of navigation, would protect the honest and check the
fraudulent navigator? All the skill of the most tried expe-
rience, aided by the nicest mathematical instruments that
the singular ingenuity of our artists, superior as they were to
those of any oilier age or nation, could furnish, would never
enable any man to observe such a line with certainty; and
if transgressors were to be subjected to any penalty, which
they must necessarily be to prevent transgression, by what
rule of proof was it to be ascertained that it had or had not
been transgressed, or that one man had gone within it unin-
tentionally and innocently, and another wilfully and frau-
dulently ? How was that protection to the innocent and
punishment to the guilty, to which all his majesty's sub-
jects were entitled, to be measured out ? If mariners were to
be worried, it should be said to plain men, " Pass not the
mouth of such a river, sail not beyond such a cape." But
it was a strange and impracticable instruction, to direct them
not to approach within thirty miles of a shore which they had
never seen.


We were allowed to settle to the north of the parts occu-
pied by Spain, and to build temporary huts to the south ;
and the limits beyond which we were to do this, were to be
ascertained by a vague description, not by any certain mark


1790.] ADDRESS ON THE CONVENTION WITH SPAIN.
121


of place. To this, • said a learned gentleman, those who
complained of the length of the negociation had no right to
object, because, to have settled the limits of Spanish occu-
pancy, by any precise line, would have protracted it still
farther. It was a singular argument in favour of a negociation,
that although it had been long, when concluded, it was still
incomplete; and it was equally singular, that that which
had not been done should be mentioned as a sort of excuse
for its length. The learned gentleman had, however, said,
that we, not knowing the exact extent of Spanish occupancy,
might have been liable to be deceived and defrauded of part
of this open territory, had we agreed on a precise limit in the
first instance, and concluded his defence, by observing, that
the territory was not of much value, and that a few miles
more or less was not worth contending for. In this conclu-
sion he was ready to concur. Certainty was of much more
value than extent of territory, and therefore he would have
thought it good policy to obtain a precise line, in the first
instance, on such an account as Spain chose to give of the
limits of her occupancy, even if that should have been ob-
tained at the expence of a few leagues of country. Thus we
had given up all right to settle, except for temporary pur-
poses, to the south of the Spanish settlements, or in the in-
tervals between them, where they happened to be distant.
We had obtained an admission of our right to settle to the
north, and even that we had not obtained with clearness.
As " Spanish settlements" were the only mark of limits,
suppose we were to meet with one farther to the north than
we expected, and a dispute to arise whether it was new or
old; it would be some difficulty to send out builders to de-
cide, from the state and condition of the materials, whether
the buildings were new or old, according to the meaning
of the treaty. He recollected, before the passing of Mr.
Grenville's bill for the trial of contested elections, that lawyers
in the House of Commons, both above and below the bar,
had argued on election petitions, very little to their own
honour or the credit of the profession. According to them,
it was not the length of residence in a place that constituted
the right of habitation, but the animus morandi of the resi-
dent; so under the convention, it might come to be asserted
that it was not actual occupancy that constituted a settlement,
hut the animus morandi of the settler. It reminded him of
a lawyer's will, drawn by himself, with a note in the margin
of a particular clause, " 4 This will afford room for an ex-
cellent disquisition in the court of chancery." With equal
Propriety, and full as much truth, might those who had
extolled the late negociation, for the occasion it had given




122 ADDRESS ON THE CONVENTION WITH SPAIN. [DM. T4.


to shew the vigour and promptitude of the national resources,
write in the margin of most of the articles, " This will afford
an admirable opportunity for a future display of the power 10
and energy of Great Britain." Were the points of dispute
to come immediately before liberal and enlightened men, as
the ministers of the two countries might always be supposed
to be, they would easily agree on the explanation ; but it
ought to be considered, m making treaties, not so much by
whom, as for whom they were made; The makers, except
where invasion was intended, would easily understand them.
Not so those who were to act upon them, who might often
be ignorant or interested men, and when a dispute once
arose and an infraction of treaty was committed, every mi-
nister felt a laudable pride in protecting the subjects of his
own country. Au honourable alderman (Curtis) had in-
timated his resolution of engagin g in the fur trade, on the
strength of a notable discovery he had made, that the Chinese,
when they mean to buy, are indifferent what price they pay.
If the accounts given by writers were to be credited, the
honourable magistrate had found a market consisting of sixty
millions of consumers, all ready to buy, and at any price;
and were he next to find out a spot on the American coast
particularly favourable for collecting furs, although for such
a market any place where furs could be found would be
almost as good as another, by what rule could he ascertain
that it was not within the limits of the next Spanish settle-
ment,. were the Spaniards to assert that it was? On having
fixed the precise line, by information perhaps known to the
ministers, beyond which the rival collectors of fitrs were
not to pass, although he himself would undoubtedly observe
it, how could he provide against its being transgressed by
those whom he employed? By what means- were disputes
about this limit to be settled, should any arise? Hence, in
every point of view, in all that respected the limits of navi-
gation, in all that regarded the limits of settlement, if ever
there was a convention framed and contrived to perpetuate;
instead of preventing disputes, this was such a convention.


On the seventh article, directing that in all cases of infrac-
tion, complaint shall be made by the officers of either party;
before committing any act of violence, he appealed to the re-
collection of the House, whether it had ever been his prac-
tice to argue against the interest of his country with foreign
powers ; but of this article, he was afraid the literal mean-
ing was too good for the practical interpretation of it to be
the same. If Spain was to appoint no officers to protect the
exclusive trade of her colonies, or if those officers were nei-.
ther to stop or detain an interloper, without a formal coal-


;1790.] ADDRESS ON THE CONVENTION WITH SPAIN.
123


plaint first made through the Spanish minister to the Bri-
tish court, then, indeed, we had not only secured our right
of trading to the unsettled coasts of America, bet we had
opened , the whole trade of the Spanish colonies to all who
might chase to avail themselves of the privilege. Of this
article he must therefore doubt, from its extreme goodness,
as it was impossible to believe that any article could be ob,,
served to the extent to which the literal observance of this
one would lead.


Thus lie had shewn that the treaty was a treaty of con-
cessions, and not of acquisitions; that admitting, as he did
admit, the propriety of conceding part of our general rights
to secure the undisturbed possession of the rest, we had given
up what was of infinite value to Spain, and retained what
could never be of much value to ourselves; and that what we
had retained, was so vague in description, so undefined in
limits, and consequently so liable to be again disputed, that
we had conceded much more in point of right than we had
gained in point of security.


Such being his opinion of the convention, considered on its
own internal evidence, which was all the means of judging
allowed to the House, it would not perhaps, appear in a much
more favourable point of view, when considered relatively
with respect to the general state of European politics. If it
had any secret connection with foreign polities, it seemed to
have been as ineffectual in obtaining its real as its ostensible
object. Since the affair of Holland, in 1787, we had no
MOM to boast of any step we had taken in the politics of
foreign powers. If we had meant to humble Russia and
compel her to agree to a general peace, we had failed. The
King of Sweden had been reduced to the necessity of making
a separate peace with Russia, not only without our concur-
rence, but without our knowledge; and thus had we been
lowered in the consideration of Europe. We had suffered a
new allys to be wrested from us, and alienated the affections
o
ni
f an ancient friend, without depriving her of the power to


The measure of 1787 was now said to have been a good
measure, but far inferior in all respects to the present conven-
tion. Between the two there could be no comparison, had
the alliance of Holland been all that was gained by thefleormer. That alliance he considered as of more importance
to this country than all the trade of the Spanish colonies;
and besides its intrinsic advantages, it led to many great


t?
th ings; but if, by a mistaken application of a good principle,


ti


consequence of it had been to provoke a junction of the
northern powers against us, it was perhaps, more to be re-




124 A DD BESS ON THE CONVENTION WITH SPAIN. [Dee.


;netted as a misfortune than extolled as a prosperous event.
We had seen nothing lately in the court of Spain that indi-
cated a friendly disposition to this .country; and the language
of the present debate had not been very conciliating ; nor
could we turn our eyes to any quarter, where our interference
in foreign politics had contributed to our own security. If
the convention was neither good in itself, nor the objects
more immediately connected with it good, on what ground
was it to receive the approbation of the House ? It was easy
to talk pompously of the prosperity and the greatness of a
country, but it was with nations as with individuals, they were
not to be judged of by what they said but by what they did,
While we talked of our prosperity, we seemed to be in no
haste to enjoy it. In our words was confidence, in our acts
was fear.


He had approved of the subsidiary treaty with the Land-
grave of Hesse Cassel, because he thought the strength it gavez,
would have afforded an opportunity of reducing part of out
standing force at home. In that, however, he had been dis-
appointed ; for it had been followed by an increase of that
very force of which he expected a reduction.. had he ap-
proved of the convention on its merits, as a treaty for ad-justing a dispute, he should have felt alarm at the continuance
of armaments, after the ostensible purpose for which they
were equipped was effected, and have withheld his appro-
bation till better informed. It was curious to see a minister,
who called himself a minister of economy, increasing our
establishments in every department, and still holding out the
delusion of saving and economy. The recovery of the al-
liance of Holland was not to be attributed to any wisdom on
the part of this country, except that of seizing the favour-
able opportunity, when it obtruded itself on our attention,
but to a fortunate concurrence of circumstances. The same
fortune, aided by the weakness and meliorated policy of
France, had placed us in the elevated situation which we
now held. Yet with all these advantages, when he looked
round for the symptoms of our glory, when he looked to see
our alliance respected by ancient friends, and courted by
new, he saw it rejected by one power, and renounced by
another. 'When he looked for the security, which so much
prosperity might be expected to give, he found that we were
adding ten sail of the line to the ordinary establishment of
our navy, and i oo,000L to the annual expence of our army.
These might be the causes, but were not surely the symptoms,
of security. Were the situation of which we boasted, our
real situation, we should act with as much consistency as the
man of pure honour, unsuspected intention, and' undoubted


290.] ABATEMENT OP AN IMPEACHMENT, &C. 125


valour, who living feared by his enemies, loved by his friends,
and respected by his acquaintance, instead of enjoying the
comfortable security of a situation so enviable, should be
filling his house and encumbering his person with guns,
swords, and pistols. It was not true, as had been asserted,
that there was any intricacy in the question of right between
us and Spain, had it been thought expedient to bring it fairly
to discussion. It stood on the general principle by which all
European nations were governed in forming settlements,
namely, that where the subjects of no power had settled, those
of every other had a right to settle. On the whole, as he
could not yesterday give a vote of blind confidence, so neither
could he now of blind admiration. He should, therefore,
vote for the motion of adjournment.


Mr. Pitt replied to Mr. Fox. After which the House divided
on Mr. Grey's motion, that the House do now adjourn.


Tellers. .
YEAS Sir J. Erskine 123 —NOES fir{r W. Youno- S 247 'Mr. Adam Mr. Rose
So it passed in the negative. Then the main question being


put, the address was a greed to.


ABATEMENT OF AN IMPEACHMENT BY A DISSOLUTION OF
PARLIAMENT.


December 23.


THE next subject which engaged the attention of the House
-I- of Commons, was one of the utmost importance, not only to


the dearest privileges of that House, but to the very existence
of the constitution itself. The question was, Whether an impeach-
ment, brought by the Commons of Great Britain assembled, in
their own name, and in the name of their constituents, did not
remain in statu quo, notwithstanding the intervention of a dissolu-
tion? On the 1 7 th of December, in a committee of the whole
House, Sir Peter Burrell in the chair, Mr. Burke moved, " That
it appears, that an impeachment by this House, in the name of the
Commons of Great Britain in parliament assembled, and of all the
Commons of Great Britain, against Warren Hastings, Esq. late
governor general of Bengal, for sundry high crimes and misde.
meanors, is now depending." Mr. Erskine wishing to gain time for
deliberation, moved, " That Sir Peter Burrell might leave. the
chair." A debate which lasted, by adjournments, three days,
ensued. Mr. Erskine, in an elaborate speech, endeavoured to


:*1




126 ABATEMENT OF AN IMPEACHMENT EDec.


shew, that in consequence of the dissolution of parliament, the fill,.
peachment had abated, and on this ground he was supported by
Mr. Hardinge, Mr. Mitford, Sir John Scott, and several other
gentlemen, principally lawyers. On the other side of the question,
the lead was taken by Mr. Pitt, Mr. Fox, Mr. Burke, Mr. Anstru.
thcr, Mr. A dam, Mr. Dundas, and Mr. Addington the Speaker.
On the third day of the debate, after Sir John Scott the solicitor
general, had delivered his sentiments,


Mr. Fox rose and said, that -after the question had been so
fully debated, the committee could not be expected to listen
with much patience to any additional arguments upon it.
The constitutional principle had been so ably and so elo-
quently supported on precedent, analogy, and reason ; the
fallacies urged against it, so completely exposed, and the ar-
guments so fully confuted, that he was afraid that to say any
thing further upon it,. would have more the appearance of
personal vanity than of a desire to convince. He should there-
fore, have been contented to leave it where it stood ; but, ha\--
hug been always zealous in supporting the privileges of the
House of Commons, and, on some occasions, contrary to the
opinions of those with whom he agreed on other points, he
thought it his duty to give something more than a silent vote
in support of a question, in the fate of which all their privi-
leges - were involved.


The question was, indeed, of great importance. Of such
importance, as he defied human wit, or human eloquence to
exaggerate—no less than whether the constitution of the coun-
try was a free constitution, under which every act of govern-
ment was subject to enquiry, and accompanied with responsi-
bility; or, whether power might be exercised without con-
troul, and without any national inquest to take cognizance of
its abuse. Those who disputed the right of the Commons to
proceed on an impeachment after a dissolution, had argued
from a repetition of the same precedents, first referred to,
and very ably commented upon by the honourable and learned
gentleman who first opposed an immediate decision. All the
arguments on those precedents had been answered with so
much ability by the right honourable the chancellor of the
exchequer, as to render any other answer unnecessary. Gf
this, those who contended that the Commons had no such
right, seemed to have been aware. They appeared to have
said to themselves, " the first speech on the precedents con-
tained all that can be urged with any plausibility. That
speech has been so fully, so irresistibly answered, that all we
can now do, is, to weaken the impression of the answer by
repetition ; if we cannot convince, we may yet confound."
Repetition was accordingly tried. Other learned gentlexne


15


179C'3
BY A DISSOLUTION OF PARLIAMENT 0T27


bad risen, and, instead of takin., new ground, had gone over
the same precedents, built on them the same arguments, and
deduced the same conclusions, in hopes, no doubt, that the
second answer would be less able than the first. In this,
However, they had been disappointed, for a second answer by
another right honourable gentleman (Mr. Dundas) had as
completely demolished the repetition, as the first overturned.
the original arguments. Another attempt, however, was
made. The routed precedents were again rallied, and brought
into the field by another learned gentleman, (Sir John Scott,)
who declared that he could not conscientiously vote that an
impeachment after a dissolution remained in static quo, un-
less he was first satisfied that such a principle was agreeable
to the practice of the courts below. This third attempt, he
feared, would be too successful, inasmuch as the answer which
he should give would be much less able than either of the
preceding.


It was not his intention to dwell , much on the precedents
which had been so repeatedly and so ably discussed ; but to
rest his argument on the general principle, that whatever was
inconsistent with, or subversive of a free constitution, could
make no part of the law under that constitution. On the
precedents, however, the learned gentleman who preceded
him, had brought only one new authority, the authority of
Lord Danby on the state of his own impeachment, an autho-
rity just as good as the opinion of Mr. Hastings would be on
the question before the House, and of which the learned gen,
tleman was welcome to the full value. The clear and ex-
press resolution of 1678, adopted on the plain analogy of
other judicial proceedings in parliament, on careful search of
precedents and mature deliberation, that resolution on which
Lord Stafford had been tried, convicted, and executed, had
been arraigned as an arbitrary resolution, made in bad times


afinley


to serve a particular purpose, and contrary to the former
practice of parliament. The peculiar hardships of Lord
Stafford's case had also been pathetically insisted upon, as if


general principle.


in a particular case would affect


After what had been stated with so much precision and so
much truth of the times of Charles II. it would not again be
Contended that they were bad times in parliamentary law, or
that any precedent derived from them was to be suspected
merely on that account. The fact was, that the times, in a
constitutional point of view, were good.
charged


All that could be
r ed upon them was their credulity. The people, liar-


m assed and alarmed by repeated attempts on their liberty,
were, perhaps, too ready to listen to those who wished to




128 ABATEMENT or AN IMPEACHMENT [Dec. 2 3 .


take advantage of their fears; but while some of their acts,
viewed coolly, and at a distance, might be blameable, the
principle on which they acted was good. The condemnation
of Lord Stafford, viewed, as we were now enabled to view it,
divested of fear and credulity, and convinced that Oates and
Bedloe, the principal witnesses against him, were impostors,
we must naturally lament. But every man who had perused
the printed account of his trial, must admit that it was pere
fecdy regular in point of form, and that the verdict of his
peers, believing, as they did, the evidence of Oates and Bedloe,
was a just verdict, and such as they were bound in conscience
to pronounce. In those times, which were reprobated as in-
capable of affording a precedent fit to be followed, every
question necessary to stop an impeachment, by the exercise
of the king's prerogative, had been tried, and all had been
baffled by the vigorous and constitutional exertions of the
Commons, and ever since completely settled. The king first
tried to stop the impeachment by refusing to appoint a lord
high steward. The Commons contested the point, agitated
it with the Lords, and it ended in settling the commission of a
lord high steward, by inserting words which have ever since
stood in the commission, and which make the lord high
steward not a necessary part of the court of the House of
Lords. Thus the Commons, without an act of parliament,
established that the king could not stop an impeachment by
refusing to appoint a lord high steward, because that office
was determined to be unnecessary. The king next tried to
stop the impeachment by granting a pardon to Lord Danby.
But here again the prerogative of the king was routed by the
privileges of the Commons. He would not discuss the point
agitated in the conference; it was too clear; the Lords dis-
allowed the pardon as a plea in bar, and such a meesure had
never since been attempted.


Disappointed in all these means of saving Lord Danby, the
king resolved to dissolve the parliament. Here again he was
foiled; the new House of Commons took the business up
with the spirit of the former, and arguing on the true princi-
ples of the constitution, they enforced upon the soundest doc-
trine and clearest precedents, that notwithstanding dissolution,
an impeachment remained in static quo to be proceeded on by
the new parliament. The guilt of Lord Danby was, perhaps,
as much the guilt of the king as his own. The king had em-
ployed his favourite to sell the interests of his people to a fo-
reign power, and to barter away the dignity of his crown for
a disgraceful pension to himself. Being so implicated in the
crime, he was naturally anxious to protect the instrument of
it, and for that purpose resorted to every exercise, of his pro-.


1790'] BY A DISSOLUTION OP PARLIAMENT. 129


rogative which the advice.
of his minister or his own ingenuity


could suggest. Of every one of his measures on that occa-
sion, they had a direct parliamentary condemnation. When
he refused to appoint a. lord steward, the appointment was
pronounced unnecessary. When he dissolved the parliament,
it was declared that an impeachment did not abate by a disso-
lution. Fortunate it was for the country, fortunate for pos-
terity, that the king had had recourse to those manceuvres,
because it had been the means of establishing beyond a doubt,
that no shift or evasion, no abuse of prerogative, no collusion
between the crown and the criminal, could defeat an im-
peachment by the Commons.


The resolution of 16 7 8 did not make the law, but declared
what the law was before, and it was illustrated and confirmed
by the proceedings of 1690. He was astonished that the
learned gentleman should have seized on the precedent of
;690, with so Much eagerness, after the inference he attempted
to draw from it had been so completely demolished by those
who spoke before him; and admitting the inference, if it was
before the law of parliament that an impeachment did not
abate by a dissolution, the solitary precedent of the Duke of
Leeds could not alter it. On the times in which the resolu-
tion of 1678 was made, the opinion of men who spoke of
them without reference to any particular question, but on a
general view of our history and constitution, would far out-
weigh all that had been said as applicable to the present case.
ledge Blackstone, whose opinion was justly in high esteem,
had said, that the parliament known by the name of the
long parliament of Charles the Second was deserving of the
nigheSt praise in a constitutional view. In the body of his
work, he enumerates many different regulations which were
the work of that parliament, and says that they demonstrate
this truth, " that the constitution of England had arrived to
its full vigour and the true balance between liberty and pre-
rogative was happily established by law, in the reign of King
Charles the Second." And in a note on that passage, he


" The point of time, at which I would chuse to fix this
theoretical perfection of our public law, is the year 1679;
:e


rante


e.oafrieiozoritwtx,it m,ehs(Iet.evri.ithabeas corpus act was passed, and that for licensing


he -ranted Lord Danby a pardon, it was determined that the


the press had expired, though the years which immediately


l'ung's pardon was not pleadable in bar of an impeachment.
therefore entitled to as much respect as any other act of those
The order of 1678, declaring the law of parliament, was


who bad done so much for the confirmation of our


Owere timesof great practical oppression." When


n this point the opinion of Judge Foester, which




A30 ABATEMENT or AN IMPEACHMENT [Dee. 23.


no man would treat as a light authority, also concurred.
He declared expressly that in 1690 the Lords Peterborough
and Salisbury were discharged under the general pardon, and
not because the impeachment preferred against them abated
by a dissolution of parliament; and added, that it would be
harsh to say, that after a prosecution was begun the high
court of parliament should not be able to proceed to judg-
ment, the end of all prosecution, without supplemental powers
from the crown. Harsh, indeed, it would be, and ruinous
to every principle of constitutional check and control by the
Commons !


In settling every contested point of law, he would first
look to usage and then to reason. There was a great distinc-
tion between the ordinary law in the common courts of jus-
tice and the constitutional law. For the former he would
look to usage, where that could direct him ; but for the latter
he would look to reason in preference to usage, and for this
reason : in ordinary cases certainty was of more value than
soundness of principle, but in constitutional law soundness of
principle was every thing. Certainty of usage, on a constitu-
tional point, if that certainty was against him, served only to
increase his despair, and to drive him to the last desperate
remedy for desperate cases. The law of impeachment was
not to be collected from the usage of the courts of justice—
for whom was it meant to controul? He should be told, men
in high stations who might commit crimes that the common
law could not reach; but he should answer, first and princi-
pally, the courts of justice themselves. Let the power of im-
peachment be rendered nugatory, and what security vas
there for the integrity of judges, and the pure administration
of justice? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Were it to be go-
verned by absurd or iniquitous rules of practice, what abuse
could it correct? He would not imagine extraordinary cases
of enormity in judges, although their responsibility by im-
peachment was the surest pledge for their integrity. But sup-
pose them so devoted to the crown as to give such a decisiorr
as had been given in the case of ship-money. Suppose them,
as in the reign of Charles II., so pliant to the prevailing, party
of the day, as to hang Whigs one day and tories another, un-
der form and colour of law, what remedy was left if that of
impeachment did not apply. ? Were a judge even to attain to
that enormous pitch of arbitrary wickedness, as to order .4
man to punishment who had been. acquitted by a jury, there
was no mode of proceeding against him but by impeachment,


"' •


When he considered all lie could not but lament to see
gentlemen of the profession of the law in that House, with
ape very honourable exceptions, indeed, acting, as it were)


1790.] BY A DISSOLUTION Or PARLIAMENT. 131


under an esprit du corps, forming themselves into a sort of
phalanx to set up the law of the ordinary courts of justice, as
paramount to the law of parliament, as if they intended, what
had been charged on the parliament of Paris, to erect an in-
termediate republic between the king and the people, to em-
barrass the one and domineer over the other. With regard
to the force of precedents on constitutional points, had the
"dispensing power claimed by the Stuarts been decided by pre-
cedent, it might, perhaps, have been fixind to be good. But
would any man regard a precedent in such a case? Must he
not perceive that a legislature, and a dispensing power in the
crown were things incompatible; and that wherever any usage
appeared subversive of the constitution, if it had lasted for
one, or for two hundred years, it was not a precedent, but an.
usurpation ?


But where this new law of impeachment which was offered
to them tidied, they were told they might proceed by a bill of
pains and penalties. What was gained by this, unless it
could be made appear that a bill of pains and penalties could
not be stopped it its progress by the crown? Such abuses, it
was said, were not to be supposed. When control was re-
moved, all abuses were to be supposed. Again, they were
told, that if a minister advised the crown to dissolve the par-
liament to get rid of an impeachment, they might impeach
him again. By the same rule he might advise to dissolve
them again; and so they might go on impeaching and dis-
solving alternately, with no other effect than a mockery of
Justice. The learnedtleman who spoke before him hadgentleman
talked of referring an impeachment to the people by a disso-
lution. Although the king's pardon was not pleadable in bar
of an impeachment, the learned gentleman thought that the
king, if he should be of opinion that a person impeached was
a fit object of clemency, might, by dissolving the parliament,
take the sense of the people at large, whether the impeach-
ment ought to be renewed, and with their acquiescence pro-
duce all the effects of a pardon. If this was the learned gen-
tleman's meaning, the true mode of carrying it into effect was
on the principle that an impeachment did not abate by a dis-
solution. The king, by dissolving the parliament, might
suspend an impeachment ; and if the new representatives
chosen by the people should be of opinion, that it ought not
tothe proceed, there it must end; and the object of an appeal to


People would be completely obtained. But were it esta-blished that an impeachment after every dissolution of parlia-
ment must begin de novo, the people, however zealous in the
Prosecution, could never have the means of bringing it tojudgment, without the concurrence of the crown, and to dis-


K 2




13 2 ABATEMENT OF AN IMPEACHMENT [Dec, 23,


solve the parliament would not be to take the sense of the
people, but to foil them in the exercise of their most impor-
tant privilege.


It had been remarked, that he himself had insisted at the
bar of the House of Lords on the right of the Commons to
frame new articles of impeachment in any stage of a trial in
which they were prosecutors, and even to make the prisoner's
own defence the foundation and materials of such new articles,
This had been considered as a harsh and rigorous extension
of privilege; but it was, nevertheless, an undoubted right be-
longing to the House, whose power and privileges were great,
because their discretion was supposed to be great; 'and he had
insisted upon it, not as a right to be exercised on trivial occa-
sions, or a right on which he meant to act without an ade-
quate cause, but merely as a constitutional principle front
which to draw an argument in support of another point for
which he was then contending. But if the exercise of this'
right was considered as a hardship, how much greater would
be the hardship if an impeachment were stopped-by a dissolu-
tion just as the prisoner had concluded his defence, and the
Commons on the meeting of the new parliament were to pro-
ceed to frame an entire new set of articles against him with
his whole defence before them ? Yet such might be the situ-
ation of any man, against whom an impeachment was pre-
ferred, according to the doctrine of the learned gentleman.
Another learned gentleman had said, that the points on which
the law of parliament turned were of such nicety that none but
a lawyer could understand them. The supposed nicety proved
the falsity of the argument. Were the case so, how could
the law of parliament be ever understood by men of common
education and plain understanding, such as composed the great
majority of it ? Much more, how could it have been established
by men of still more ordinary education who composed the
majority of the House of Commons, when the theory of the
constitution was developed and explained ?


The next objection was the want of evidence. They had,
it seemed, no knowledge of the proceedings on the impeach-
ment during the late parliament, and there was no evidence,
on which they could judge whether any thing had beep proved
by the managers appointed by the late House of Commons.
It was somewhat strange that professional men should be so
profoundly ignorant of what was known to all the world beside.
But they could listen only to oral evidence; the minute's of the
evidence taken down and printed by the direction of the
Lords for their own information were to lawyers of no rise
whatever; and the learned ,aontlernan who spoke imme-
diately before him, -who unfortmiately had not attended


790.] BY A DISSOLUTION Or PARLIAMENT. 133


the trial ; who had not heard the evidence; who had
no materials on which to form his judgment ; who could not
suffer himself to read written minutes of written evidence,
such as composed the greater part of the evidence on the trial ;
and who was so conscientious that he would not, as an ac-
cuser, pray for judgment against a. man who, for any thing
he knew, might be innocent; had asked how he, as a member
of the House of Commons, could go to the bar of the House
of Lords and demand judgment against Mr. Hastings, sup-
posing him to be found guilty ? When the learned gentle-
man came to be attorney-general, he would, without any
scruple of conscience, move the court of king's bench for
judgment against all persons convicted on informations or in-
dictments by his predecessor in office ; and that on much
weaker evidence than the minutes of the impeachment, which
he was resolved to consider as no evidence at all; on no other
evidence than a copy of the record ; and when he came to be
a judge, he would even pronounce judgment on what he must
consider as still weaker evidence, namely, the notes of a bro-
ther judge. It was v el i known that nine tenths of all the
misdemeanors were tried at sittings, and the record being re-
turned to the court from which it issued, sentence was there
pronounced by judges who had heard no part of the oral evi-
dence; who had seen nothing of the demeanour of the prisoner
or witnesses; who had no knowledge whatever of the case or
its circumstances but what they had derived from the notes of
the judge who tried it. Nor was this all ; affidavits, both in
extenuation and aggravation, might be, and were frequently,
produced and read ; and on this sort of evidence, which was
thus gravely represented by professional men as no evidence
at all ; on the written evidence of a miserable note-book, ren-
dered still more informal, suspected, and worthless, by the
addition of written affidavits; on evidence of such contempti-
ble authority, that if those whose business it was to understand
it best were to be believed, it ought not to be of force to pluck
a feather from a sparrow's wing, would the learned gentleman
when advanced to that bench on which he should rejoice to
see him, decide whether a fellow-subject should be fined a
shilling or ten thousand pounds, whether he should be imim-
prisoned ris ln the King's Bench for a week, or in Newgate for
three


What could lie say on such attempts by men learned in the
law to impose upon the plain sense and unlearned under-
standing of the House, but with his right honourable friend,
(Mr. Burke,) that gentlemen of the long robe being accustomed
to find the reward of their talents elsewhere, thought the e'
waste and offals of their learning good enough for the.


House of
K 3




I34


ABATEMENT OF AN IMPEACHMENT [Dec. 2^.


Commons ? If the learned gentleman had not been present at
the trial, it was his own fault ; and it was the first time that
he had heard a man urge his own neglect of duty, as a reason
for abridging the




'


privileres of the body to which he belorged,
On this point, however, he would endeavour to set him some-
what more at his ease. It was proper that he should have been
present at the trial, because the House had ordered it ; but it
was not necessary. There were two ways in which the House
proceeded on impeachments. In one they attended as a com-
mittee of the whole House in Westminster-hall, and in the
other they appointed a private committee, as in the case of
Lord Macclesfield and others, who managed the prosecution
at the bar of the House of Lords, and where none of the •
rest of the members had any more right to be present than
any other subject. In this mode the House having decided
that there was ground for an impeachment, committed the
management to a private committee, iu whose report they
confided ; and if their charges were proved, prayed for judg-.
anent. The application of the principle to the other mode
was obvious. Although the House attended pro jOrnia as
committee of the whole House, it was neither required nor
expected that every individual member should attend; and, in
this case also, they trusted more to the report of their ma-
nagers than to their own observation of the proceedings.
From the managers, however, the learned gentleman could
receive no information. They were a committee no longer,
having, like every other committee of the House, been di::-
solved by the dissolution of parliament. When a new com-
mittee was appointed, that committee would have all the ne-
cessary documents in their possession, and be able to give the
House whatever information might be wanted.. It was asked,
if all their proceedings did not cease with a dissolution ? Pre-
cisely those, he would answer, that ceased with a prorogation.
On a prorogation, all votes of money and all bills depending
fell to the ground. So they did on a dissolution. By a pro-
rogation the state of an impeachment was not affected. NO'
more was it affected by a dissolution. During the interval
occasioned by either, the high court of parliament could not
sit, any more than the courts of common law, in the interval
between term and term. When parliament met after either,
judicial proceedings were taken up in statu quo, just as in the
courts below after a vacation. In this manner had the
proceedings on the impeachment been suspended by every
prorogation of parliament, and the committee of managers
dissolved. After the prorogation the committee had been
re-appointed, and the proceedings on the trial resumed. There
was no difference between the present situation of the House


790'] BY A DISSOLUTION OF PARLIAMENT. 5 3 5
and its situation after any of the prorogations since the trial
commenced, except that having been sent back to their con-
stituents, they might more properly review their former pro-
cecedings, to see what they would abide by, and what they
would abandon.


Were a minister, it bad been said, to advise a dissolution
for the purpose of putting an end to an impeachment, he would
he guilty of a high crime. Were a minister to advise a dis-
solution pending an impeachment, knowing that it would put
an end to the impeachment, he would deserve to be impeached
himself. He did not mean to insinuate any reflection on the
right honourable the chancellor of the exchequer. He had
advised his majesty to dissolve the parliament at a time that
he thought most convenient for the public service, and he had
given the most substantial proofs that he did not believe it
would affect the state of the impeachment. But if there were
any persons in his majesty's councils who believed, and who
meant to maintain, that a dissolution of parliament necessarily
put an end to an impeachment, they were highly culpable, and
ought to answer to their country for advising a measure, per-
haps good in itself, but which they knew must defeat the ends
of public justice. By the act of 1773, for enquiring into of-
fences committed in India, it was provided that various par-
liamentary proceedings necessary for that purpose should
continue from session to session, and from parliament to par-
liament, but not a word was said of impeachments. This
was no casual omission, but an omission on principle, to
which he pledged, not his opinion, but his veracity. It was
in the contemplation of the framers of that act to include im-
peachments, and on the advice of the late Mr. Dyson, whose
knowledge of the law of parliament had never been questioned,
they were expressly omitted, that the undoubted right and
privilege of the Commons might not be weakened by an indi-
rect admission on their own part, that it was not clear.


It had been observed, that as the dissolution of parliament
was generally expected, those who conducted the impeach-
ment, and were anxious that public justice should not be
defeated, ought to have brought in a bill to continue the im-
peachment over the dissolution, when they saw that the trial
could not be concluded before it. Those who said so ought to
recollect, that it was not the opinion of the managers that
the impeachment would be affected by a dissolution.
that on them depended the managers had done. They had
moved a resolution in the last session of the late parliament,
that the Commons would persevere in the prosecution of the
impeachment, till the ends of public justice were obtained,
and the resolution had been adopted by the House. What.


K 4




1 36 ABATEMENT OF AN IMPEACHMENT [Dec. 23
was the conduct of those who thought that a dissolution would
put an end to the impeachment? Did they apprize the House
of it ? No. When they saw the House voting that they
would persevere in the impeachment, when they knew that a
dissolution was approaching, which, in their opinion, must
necessarily be fatal to it, instead of bringing forward their
constitutional law for the information of the House, when
such information might have been useful, they carefully con-
cealed it as a snare, as a poison which then lay lurking in their
minds, and which was, now insidiously brought into action to
destroy at once the law of parliament and the constitution.
They bad been advised to inspect the Lords' journals, and to
consider their own a of no authority. His honourable
and learned friend (Mr. Erskine) bad been the author of this
advice:


Primum Graius homo mortaleis tollere contra
Est oculos ausus


It was, ho.believed, the first time that a member of that House
had advised to consult the journals of the other for the privi-
leges of the Commons, in preference to their own. If their
own journals could afford them no information, then, in-
deed, they might consult the journals of the other House; or
they might appeal to the Lords' journals as corroborating the
authority of their own, on any point of privilege that was dis-
puted by the Lords; but to search the Lords' journals for
precedents to controvert the authority of their own, and to.,
make out a case against themselves, was what he never ex-
pected to hear proposed. They had on their own journals
an express declaration, that an impeachment does not abate-
by a dissolution of parliament ; a declaration acquiesced in
by the Lords, repeatedly acted upon by -the Commons, and
never once contradicted by a subsequent declaration ; and-.it
was strange, indeed, to hear the same learned gentleman who
had laid it down as a principle, that an order of any court
competent, acquiesced in for a series of years, and never af-
terwards annulled, made law, advising the House of Commons
to consult the journals of the Lords for the purpose of turning
aside the clear and uniform stream of the law of parliament
as it appeared on their own, for more than a century. He
rejoiced not that the debate had taken place, though he re-
joiced that it had been continued for such a length of time as
to give every gentleman who thought it necessary an oppor-
tunity of delivering his sentiments. But let not those who
had given occasion to it imagine that this was owing to
any respect for their arguments. It was owing purely to his


j790.]


BY A DISSOLUTION OF PARLIAMENT. 1 37


astonishment at hearing such arguments adduced. Were any
man to affirm, in defiance of the act of Queen Anne, that
parliament had no right to interfere with the descent of the
crown, that the act of settlement was not law, and that the
house of Stuart, and not the house of Brunswick, had the
only legal right to it, he should feel no apprehension that the
proposition might be true, but he should desire time to re-
cover from his astonishment. to repress the indignation which
it must naturally excite, and to obtain for it such a free and
temperate discussion as might procure the most solid and ef-
fectual condemnation of a doctrine so absurd and extravagant.
Such a discussion the question before the House had received;
and great as were the advantages which the nation had derived
from the accession of the house of Brunswick to-the throne,
he considered the decision of it of as much importance to the
constitution and the future happiness of the people, as whether
the succession should continue in that House or revert to the
house of Stuart. Next to the independent and free-born
spirit of the people, the law of impeachment was their best
security for the undisturbed enjoyment of their lives and
liberties. It was their only peaceable security against the vices
or corruption of the government ; and let no man, by weak-
ening or annihilating that, reduce them to the necessity of
having recourse to any other. -


To declare that an impeachment did not abate by a disso-
lution of parliament, with a view to prevent the improper in-
terference of the crown, had been called "muzzling the lion
with a cobweb." After that privilege was asserted and esta-
blished, die king, it was said, might dissolve the parliament
when the Lords were on the point of pronouncing a prisoner
guilty, or after he had been found guilty and before judgment
was given, and so afford him the means of escape ; or, he
might create fifty new peers in a day for the purpose of ac-
quitting a state criminal. All this wasiundoubtedly true. He
should lament to sec the king's power of creating peers so
abused ; he should much more lament to see that power
taken away; and it was a possible evil against which he could
propose no remedy. But was it thus they were to argue, that
whenever an ingenious man could point out some . possible
abuse against which they could not provide, they were to
give up every security against, that abuse which the constitu-
tion had put into their hands ? No human form of govern-
ment was ever yet so perfect as to guard against every possible
abuse of power, and the subjects of every government must
submit to the lot of men, and bear with some. But when
abuses became so frequent or enormous as to be oppressive
and intolerable, and to threaten the destruction of govern-




I 33 ABATEMENT OF AN IMPEACHMENT, &C. [Dec. 23.
anent itself, then it was that the last remedy must be applied,
that the free spirit of the people must put into action their
natural power to redress those grievances for which they had
no peaceable means of redress, 'and assert their indefeasible
right to a just and equitable government. No man would
deny that cases might occur in which the people could have
no choice but slavery or resistance; no man would hesitate
to say what their choice ought to be; and it was the best
wisdom of every government not to create a necessity
for resistance by depriving the people of legal means of
redress.


Let no man think that these were hard words coming from
him on any personal consideration. He was animateeby no
such motive ; but he felt it his duty to state, in plain terms,
to what the progress of abuse must lead if the remedy was
essentially weakened or wholly taken away. The alternative he
had mentioned, every good man must deprecate as too dread-
ful in its probable consequences ; and whenever sad necessity
should urge it on, every individual who had a heart to feel
for the calamities of his country, must deplore the exigency
of the times. Nevertheless, they were to watch possibilities
in that House with an eve of caution and jealousy, and should
tyranny ever be enforced, he had no doubt but the gentlemen
of the long robe, whose opinions on the question before the
House he had felt himself obliged to reprobate, would contra-
dict the sentiments they had chosen to deliver, by their ac-
tions, and prove by their zeal and activity, that they were as
ready to lay down their lives in defence of their freedom, as
any description of men whatever. He assured his honour-
able and learned friend, (Mr. Erskine,) that he had not for-
feited any part of his regard by having held an opinion dif-
ferent from his own, on the subject of the three days'
debate; and for the rest of the learned gentlemen, he en-
tertained great personal respect, though he felt none for
their arguments.


It had been charged as an inconsistency on those why,
maintained the same opinion as he did, that when they op-jposed the appointment of a committee to search the Lordsournals, they had argued from cases and resolutions to be
found only in those journals. But the charge was nugatory.
It was perfectly fair to argue from the Lords' journals, under
protest that they would not be bound by them, because it
was fit, in case of a dispute, to hear the ground of their ad-
versaries' argument, and turn it to their own advantage, if any
advantage could be derived from it. It by no means followed
as a consequence, that it was fit to search the Lord's journals
in order to make out a case against their own right. ,


12


1790.3 MR. HIPPISLEY'S MOTIONS,
&C. 139


Mr. Fox concluded with a short review of the precedents,
contending, with irresistible clearness and force, that all except
that of 1685 made against the abatement of an impeach-
ment by a dissolution, and had been so understood by the
courts of justice and ;he most eminent law authorities of the
several periods; that according to the legal doctrine of pre-
cedents, the last precedent was the best, and that the last—
the case of the Earl of Oxford—was decidedly in favour of
the right of the Commons ; that if the argument on the pre-
cedent of 1685 was good for any thing, it proved that the
Lords were not bound by the order of 1678, that their orders
did not make law, and that the order of 1685 was completely
annulled by their subsequent proceedings in similar cases, or
might be annulled by a new order. He apologized for hav-
ing detained the committee on the precedents, as it was not
on


precedent but on principle that he stood. The right of
impeachment, proceeding without abatement from session to
session, and from parliament to parliament, was the vital,
the defensive principle of the constitution ; that which pre-
served it from internal decay; that which protected it from
internal injury; without which, every office of executive power,
every function of judicial authority, might be exercised or
abused at the discretion or caprice of him who held it, dr of
him who had the right of appointing to it.


On a division upon Mr. Erskine's motion, " That Sir Peter
Burrell do leave the chair," the numbers were Yeas 3o : Noes 113.
Mr. Burke's resolution, " That it appears, that an impeachment
by this House, in the name of the Commons of Great Britain, in
parliament assembled, and of all the Commons of Great Britain,
against. Warren Hastings, Esq. late governor-general of Bengal,
for sundry high crimes and misdemeanors, is now depending," was
put and carried.


MR. HIPPISLEY'S MOTIONS RESPECTING THE WAR IN
INDIA WITH TIPPOO SULTAN.


December 21.


IN consequence of the passage in the king's speech relating to the interruption which had taken place m the tranquillity of
our Indian possessions, a motion was this day made by Mr. Hip-
pisle


ravancore,


y for ,c Copies of the correspondence between the rajah of
T and the government of Madras or Bengal, on the sub-




740 HIPPISLEY'S MOTIONS RESPECTING [Dee. 2 r,
ject of the said rajah having purchased the fort of Cranganore, and
in consequence of the subsequent Attack of Tipp() Sultan en the
lines or territories of Travancore." Mr. Francis seconded the mo-
tion, and urged the impolicy of extending our territories in India,
and of forming alliances with the native princes of that country.
Mr. Dundas stated, that Cranganore, Jacottah, and Cochin were
places of considerable strength in the hands of the Dutch. That
politic people, he said, being alarmed at the warlike preparations
of Tippoo, pointing towards the quarter in which these possessions
were situated, became desirous of making over the ,forts of Cran-
ganore and Jacottali to the rajah of Travancore, whom they knew
to be our ally ; that, by thus in effect throwing themselves under
the protection of the British government, they might raise a barrier
to Cochin, their most valuable possession on the continent of India.
After the purchase was completed, Tippoo Sultan set up a sort of
claim to the forts in question by way of obtaining a pretext for his
hostile proceedings. But this was not the first time that the am-
bitious views of Tippoo had been manifested. In the year i 788 he
advanced with a formidable army to the frontiers of Travancore,
without the least provocation on the part of the rajah ; and was
with difficulty induced, notwithstanding the spirited remonstrances
of the British government, to retire to his own dominions: He
was represented as a restless tyrant, ever bent upon schemes of ag-
grandizement, and ever viewing us with a jealous and a hostile eye.
We had on our part most religiously kept the treaty of Mangalore,
but he had continually shown an inclination to violate it.


Mr. Fox contended, that when they had the papers before
them for which his honourable friend had called, they would
be better able to decide on the true grounds of the provocation
upon which they were ready, it seemed, to enter into war.
He suspected that the right honourable gentleman who spoke
last did not wish for a war in India any more than he did ;
but from what he . had said, a conclusion might be drawn, that
without provoking war, without being desirous of conquest,
or restless and dissatisfied, we were to be made the dupes of
the Dutch on this occasion, and were likely to be led into a war
unnecesarily, at least, if not unjustly. The right honourable
gentleman had said, that the rajah of Travancore's purchase
of the fort of Cranganore was a subject of jealousy to
Tippoo Sultan. Ought it not, then, to have been the wis-
dom of our government to prevent our ally from making a
purchase likely to stir up the jealousy of our watchfill and
suspicious neighbour ? If the purchase was made without con-
sulting our government, it was highly blameable, as it was de-
grading and injurious to the English name. By such loose-
ness, we might be incessantly involved with the neighbouring
powers, and obvious policy demanded that we should not suf-


.. ler an ally to do acts likely to inflame the powers with whom


1,790.3 THE WAR -IN INDIA WITH T/PPOO SULTAN. 141


eve were at peace. The right honourable gentleman acknow-
ledged what his honourable friend had stated, that Tippoo
manifested an indisposition to the transfer of those forts, when
first proposed in the year 1788, and that Sir Archibald
Campbell prudently preventin sg the transfer, he was perfectly
satisfied, and remained so till the year 1790, when the trans-
fer was made, apparently without consulting him or us. It
was fair to conclude, that however advantageous it might have
been for the Dutch to sell those forts to the rajah of Travan-
core, by which they established a barrier between Tippoo
and themselves, it was for us seriously to enquire whether, at
the hazard of involving us in a war, it was wise to support our
ally in such a purchase. The right honourable gentleman
had said, that Tippoo was the person, of all others, who ought
to excite the jealousy of the English government, and that his
attack on our ally was a subject of great alarm, and of just
provocation. It might be so; but let us place ourselves also
in Tippoo's situation. Must not the rajah's purchase of
these forts be equally a subject of jealousy to Tippoo ; and
was it not clearly our interest and policy to avoid giving
offence, as much as we would disdain to submit to it when
given? Mr. Fox maintained that a war in India was as
much to be deprecated, nay, prehaps more so, than a war
in Europe; war was not only to he deprecated, but con-
quest itself was undesirable. If it were in our power, by
any means, to add to our possessions in India, he was ready
to say, he would deplore the addition as a serious cala-
mity. A war for conquest, he hoped, never would be un-
dertaken by England either in India or elsewhere. But
he was equally ready to say, that it was not for the in-
terest of this country to suffer Tippoo to gain possession of
Travancore at any rate. Saying this, he would, however,
take up the converse of the argument, and assert, that the
extirpation of that prince would not be a political measure
for England to . undertake. His vices, his inhumanity, made
him detestable; but with the Mysorean country we ought to
be friendly, inasmuch as it was the strong barrier between
the most powerful of the Indian states and our settlements._
When the papers for which, his honourable friend called
were laid upon the table, the House would be able to as-
certain with what justice they could enter this war, and
whether it would not be infinitely more becoming their dig-
nity, as well as more consistent•with true wisdom, to nego-
clate a peace between them as a mediator,


The question was put•and carried.




1 4 2 AIR. HIPPISLEY'S MOTION RESPECTING
Ertb. 2t


February 28. 1791.


This day Mr. Hippisley moved, that the 35th clause of au act
made in the 24th year of his present majesty, which disavowed all
schemes for the extension of our territories in India might, be
read ; and that the 1st, 2d, 8€1, 4th, 5th, 20, and 44th of the re-
solutions entered on the journals of the House on the 2807 of May
1782, might be likewise read. He quoted several extracts from
the correspondence of the government of Fort St. George, in the
years 1768, 177o, and 1 7 71, tending to prove, that it would be
always our best policy to regard the Mal/mutts with a distrustful
dread, and to preserve at any price the friendship of the sultan of
Mysore. It was then moved by Mr. Francis, and seconded by
Mr. Hippisley, " That the present War with Tippoo Sultan appears
to have originated in the purchase of Cranganore and Agacottah of
the Dutch by the Rajah of Travancore." After the notion had
been opposed by Mr. Dundas,


Mr. Fox rose and declared, that he had never heard from
a person in authority such confused notions, such a juggle as
it were of justice and policy, and tenets so far stretched and
so extraordinary as had been laid down by the right honour-
able gentleman over against him. He added, that Lord Corn-
wallis had originally taken up the matter in a very proper
point of view : he had condemned the transaction relative to
the forts in strong terms, in his letters to the board at Ma-
dras ; but he had afterwards unfortunately altered his opinion-.
Why, he was at a loss to imagine. He could see nothing
like judgment-in his having done so. With respect to the
hostile preparations of Tippoo,-on which so much stress had
been laid, it was an argument that scarcely deserved an an-
swer; and though he had heard much hypocritical cant and
declamation on the miseries of war, not one word had been
said of that part of the India bill in 578 4, which provided
against the company's entering into any war from motives of
ambition or conquest, and which had been copied. from a bill
of his own. He reprobated the alliance which hail been en-
tered into with the Mahrattas and the Nizam, for the extir-
pation of Tippoo, and the plundering of his territories. It
was singular that, at a time when the enlightened policy of
the nations of Europe had abandoned all offensive alliances,
as if ashamed of their having ever existed, we should persist'
in that disgraceful system in India, a country, where we pro-
fessed to maintain, and declared that we would maintain, the
greatest moderation. The most striking instance of an offen-
sive alliance formed in Europe, had been the family-compact
of the house of Bourbon. That compact, so far, as it was


s791.) THE WAR IN INDIA WITH TIPPOO SULTAN. 143


offensive, was annihilated as soon as a better government be-
came established in France, and he was convinced, that it
7/ever would be revived. During the course of his political
life, the ungracious and unpopular task of finding fault with
the measures of government had often fallen to his lot. On
the present occasion, he was willing to encounter the popu-
larity of asserting that we had embarked not only in an ex-
pensive, but in an unjust war; a war in which defeat might
prove almost as good as conquest, and the most brilliant suc-
cesses might be justly deemed misfortunes. It was an easy
matter for that House, or for another popular assembly, to
prove that they were right, and their enemies wrong; but the
voice of the public would be heard. 'What was the language
of the advocates for the justice of the war ? " Tippoo was the
aggressor we will not rest satisfied with reparation for the
particular offence, but we will have"—the right honourable
and learned gentleman had almost said—" unconditional
submission." Did we exact the same unconditional submis-
sion from Spain, whom we held out to the rest of Europe as
the aggressor in the late dispute? No for although the of-
fence was flagrant, we only asked for satisfaction. But how
had Tippoo become the aggressor in the dispute of the Rajah
of Travancore? The rajah had purchased two forts from the
Dutch, directly contrary to the advice of his allies the Eng-
lith, who certainly would thence have been justified in aban-
doning the treaty with him on that occasion; unless it were
to be maintained, that in a defensive alliance it was in the
power of any of the parties to force the other to embark in a
war, as the caprice of the moment might dictate. Mr. Fox
put the case, that such a treaty had been made in Europe
with Prussia, Russia, or the emperor, and then asked whe-
ther, under similar circumstances, it would hold water for a
moment? Supposing Spain being an ally of France, France
should have bargained for the Low Countries, and Great
Britain and Holland made war on France, from the danger
they saw in not being allowed to hold the Austrian Nether-
lands; would Spain think herself bound to join France in a
war against Holland and Great Britain ? We looked at
Tippoo Saib's conduct, and did not see the injustice of our


4
own. Tippoo professed to have a right to Cranganore and
acottala and he aimed to recover his right. What do we


do? We carry the war into the centre of Tippoo's dominions,
extirpate him, and divide his territories. Might not we with
equal justice say, We pretend only to defend our ally, and
by, a trick we get a case made to turn Tippoo into the ag-
gressor, and then we wage offensive war, with a view to his
utter ruin ? Mr. Fox declared, he had always entertained a




1 44 CATHOLIC DISSENTERS' RELIEF BILL. [Feb. 21.
respect for Lord Corn y, al character, and that it was much
heightened by what he had heard of his conduct in India;
but, in suffering the war to be made against Tippoo, he thought
that he deserved more censure than praise. He also ridiculed
Mr. Dundas for going so far back in his argument as the6
treaty of Mangalore, and termed our war both impolitic and
unjust, an excuse for which Was sought fbr in suspicions and
surmises.


The motion was negatived without a division.


CATHOLIC DISSENTERS' RELIEF BILL.•


Feb/Italy 2 I.


''HIS day, Mr. Mitford moved for a committee of the whole
House, to enable him " to bring in a bill to relieve, upon


condition and under certain restrictions, persons called Protesting
Catholic Dissenters, from certain penalties and disabilities, to
which papists, or persons professing- the popish religion, are by
law subject." He prefaced his motion, by observing, that it was
well known there was great severity in the laws now subsisting
against Roman Catholics, but that the extent of such severity was
not equally known. In Burn's Ecclesiastical Law, no less than
seventy pages were occupied with an enumeration of the penal
statutes still in force against them. The present reign was the
only one (except the short one of James the Second) since the
reign of Queen Elizabeth, in which some additional severity had
not been enacted against this description of people. He remark-
ed, however, that the extreme rigour of the statutes in question
during the reign of Elizabeth could not be much a subject of won-
der, when it was considered that the pope had excommunicated
that queen, and absolved her subjects from their oath of alle-
giance. The motion was seconded by Mr. Windham. He stated
two principles, which he conceived were generally supposed to
justify the enacting of penal statutes against persons of any parti-
cular religious persuasion ; one was the ground, that their opi-
nions were in themselves false and erroneous ; the other, that the ,1
consequences deducible from such opinions were liable to make
them bad citizens, and dangerous subjects, In the first instance
he thought that the principle of action might fairly be termed a
zeal for persecution ; in the latter, he acknowledged it to be of a
very different description. In all cases of danger, he thought that
we should consider, 1st, the will of those from whom danger was
apprehended ; and zclly, the power which they possessed, to exe-
cute whatever it might be . their will to execute, if they could. In


1791.] CATHOLIC DISSENTERS' RELIEF BILL. 145


this point of view, lie did not conceive that the conduct of the
itoman catholics had been such as to warrant the severity with
which they had been treated in the last century. At any rate it
was impossible to deem them 'formidable at the present period,
when the power of the pope was considered as a mere spectre,
capable of frightening only in the dark, and vanishing before the
light of reason and knowledge.—Mr. Pitt thought the House had
heard enough to induce them to be unanimous in receiving the
bill, and giving it their most serious and deliberate consideration.


Mr. Fox said, he felt it absolutely necessary to offer a word
or two, to chew that there was not that unanimity on the sub-
ject which the right honourable gentleman anticipated. The
objection, however, which he had to the bill propoeed, was
not in regard to what it did go to, but to what it did not go
to; for, in his .opinion it by no means went far enough. His
honourable friend who had spoken second in the debate, had
gone over the general grounds of toleration ; his own ideas
upon the subject were well known ; he differed from his ho-
nourable friend in several of the principles that he had laid
down. His sentiment was, that the state had no right to en-
quire into the opinions of people either political or religious ; in
his mind they had a right only to take cognizance of their ac-
tions. He would contend that the Christian religion was not
adapted to our, or to any form of government, but to all ; but
that the religious establishment of any country was to be govern-
ed not so much with regard to the purity of the precepts and
truth of a religion, as with a view to that sort of religion.which
was most likely to inculcate morality and piety in the minds of
the majority of its inhabitants; and this opinion was sanctioned
by the statutes which had passed, making one sort of reli-
gion the establishment of the north division of the kingdom,
and another sort of religion the establishment of the south.
His honourable friend, Mr: Fox said, had declared that he
did not agree with him in his argument on the `repeal of the
test act, but that in nine cases out of ten he could agree in
the consequences that he (Mr. Fox) had inferred from his
argument, though from a different reason, and that he could
undertake to sustain those consequences. Mr. Fox said,
there was no rule so general to which there might not be
an exception; but he thought he was warranted to maintain
that be was right, and had laid down the rule correctly,
because it was fair to say that the nine cases made the rule
and that the tenth was the exception. The honourable and
learned opener had very ably, and, he believed, very cor-
rectly, exhibited a list of those sanguinary and horrible laws
'which were- a disgrace- to our statute books. Mr. Fox said
.,heyNovaL.s repealing those bloody laws, not to any persons




1 46 CATHOLIC DISSENTERS' RELIEF BILL. [Feb. 21.
exclusively, but to the Roman catholics of every description,
let them protest or not. He declared, he could not give
his vote for sending the motion to a committee without its
being made general, because there was no set of men, who
OD account of their religious principles ought to be subject
to be tried for high treason, and to incur the penalty of
death. Having said so much of those Roman catholics who
did not protest, Mr. Fox declared, he could not agree with
the provisions of the bill for those who did protest; because,
if the protestors were sincere in their protestations, they
were as good subjects as any who sat in that House. He
would ask, upon what -principle was a catholic peer not to
enter the House of Lords, or a catholic gentleman not to
enter the House of Commons, but upon the principle that.
what they protested against was imputed to them ? Mr. Fox
stated, that such persecution and oppression upon the general
ground of religious opinion, prevailed in no country but
ours. Throughout the King of Prussia's dominions universal
toleration obtained. In the United States of Holland there
was universal toleration; and he was sure in France there
was universal toleration ; so that in four great empires, all
of different constitutions, universal toleration prevailed. What
could be the reason of this ? Would it be said, that Prussia
was too little monarchical for a monarchy, that Holland was
too little aristocratical for an aristocracy, or that liberty was
not sufficiently extended to satisfy the friends of freedom in
France or in America? And yet, though toleration was given
full scope to in a monarchical and an aristocratical govern-
ment, and also in two democracies, under our constitution,
boasting of its superior excellence over each of the three forms
of government, toleration was to be narrowed, and confined
in shackles disgraceful to humanity I Mr, Fox reprobated the
idea, and though he declared he was glad the bill was pro-
posed, as he was so much in love with toleration, that he
would sooner accept the bill than reject it, if it was all the
toleration that could be had and was to be considered as the
best compromise that could be made, yet he could not but
think such a compromise shamefid in the highest degree.
When the proper time came, he should move to leave die
word' " protesting," out of the title of the bill, and when it
should arrive at a committee, he would move some amend-
ments, though he would . not divide the committee if he should
find their sense was against him.


It was then agreed, that the said motion should be referred to
a committee of the whole House .on the ist of March,


o


1791*] CATHOLIC DISSENTERS' RELIEF BILL. /47


March


The House having resolved itself into the said committee, Mr.
Mitford moved for leave to bring in his proposed bill. He said he
wished not for the general repeal of the penal statutes in question;
but merely for an exemption from their operation in favour of a
few; an exemption, which he trusted could give no possible cause
for alarms. His intention was not to admit Roman catholics of
any description to situations of trust or places under government ;
he was only anxious to have them considered as men of honour
and loyalty, and good christians, though they differed from us in
the forms of religion.


Mr. Fox observed, that notwithstanding his conviction of
the liberal and serviceable tendency of the motion, he could
not avoid meeting it with the proposed amendment in the
addition of the words " and others." As to his own opinion
respecting tests, it had been so generally circulated that a
recapitulation of it appeared needless. He thought all tests,
both in religion and politics absurd and unwise, excepting
only the oath of allegiance. He had been the most strong
against the test. and corporation acts; yet, he admitted, that
there was a great and material difference between the con-
siderations that ought to weigh with the legislature on that
occasion, and the considerations that ought to weigh with
them on this. He never would be found to be one of those,
who did not hold that the public bad a right to prescribe
what qualifications and restrictions they pleased for any per-
son, before the king could employ him in their service.
Where Roman catholics did not solicit an admission to any
place of trust, but only asked leave to worship God Almighty
in their own way, they ought in justice, in reason, and in
humanity, to be allowed this liberty, without remaining sub-:
ject to the operation of severe and sanguinary laws. Tolera-
tion in religion was one of the great rights of man, and a
man ought never to be deprived of what was his natural
right. His having brought forward a motion for the repeal
of the test and corporation acts had afforded him this satis-
faction, and had produced this good, although it failed in
its great object : men of the first abilities and of the highest
authorities in that House, had all concurred in admitting,
that toleration was the undoubted right of every man. Nay,
at all those meetings and assemblies for the purpose of
ePposing the repeal of the test act, the conduct at which
meetings no man disapproved' more than he did, every one
the most inveterate against the repeal, WS: the opportunity


L 2




I48 CATHOLIC DISSENTERS' RELIEF BILL. [March
to profess himself a friend to toleration. Might he not,
then, ask whether it was becoming to profess so much, and
to act so little up to their professions, by suffering laws to
remain in force which were scandalously disgraceful to the
nation, and unfit to exist a moment in any country profess-
ing toleration ?


The honourable and learned gentleman had opened his
motion by resting those laws on the dangerous opinions which
Roman catholics had entertained. He would not believe
that the cause of those laws arose in any such opinions, because
no such opinions existed. On the contrary, it was notorious
that they owed their origin, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth,
to another cause — the fear of the power of the pope. Their
multiplication to the same cause in the reign of King James.
A much more sensible reason operated in the reign of Charles
the Second. It was the feat of a popish king and tyrant,
and in subsequent times, the fear of a popish pretender. All
those fears had been in some degree warranted ; but, a wrong
mode was taken to appease their violence. In the reigns of
Elizabeth and James, persecution had been resorted to ; in
the reign of Charles the Second, good men, to whom he
gave credit for having acted as they thought for the best,
though he could not avoid dissenting from their opinion,
might have defeated a popish king upon a different and a
better ground. But, we were not now afraid of the pope,
nor of a popish king, nor of a popish pretender. The pope
had no power, the king was out of the question, as they all
knew; and, as for a popish pretender, if there were jaco-
bites enow left to go to look for one, in what quarter did
such an idol exist ? When all these reasons were gone,
ought they to continue on their books statutes and laws, which
could not be barely stated without being -universally scouted.
Maxims of toleration, as he had observed the other day,
were acted upon more or less in every country throughout
Europe. Where, then, was the danger of adopting them
with us in practice as well as in theory? In the year 178o,
disgraceful riots, it was true, took place, in consequence
of a partial relief being given to the catholics; but, if that
was admitted as a reason against the general relief he sug-
gested, it was not only an objection to the honourable and.
learned gentleman's proposition for relief, but to every pro-
position of the kind that ever could be brought forward.
Did any man in his senses think that those who caused the
tumults could distinguish between the nature of the oath pro-
posed by the honourable and learned gentleman, or of that
Which might be suggested on a general . repeal of the sangui-
nary .stattites? A bill for this partial repeal of some of the


1791.] CATHOLIC DISSENTERS' RELIEF BILL. 149
severe laws had passed in the year .1778; but, laws more
severe were left behind, because it was thought as they could
not well be carried into execution without the assistance of
government, they ware not very likely to be carried into exe-
cution at all. Had the catholics, since 1778, behaved more
dangerously than before ? Had they shewn any thing since
but the most perfect loyalty, and the conduct of as good
subjects as those of the establishment? And, now, more of
them came forward and protested their abjuration of those
opinions which they never entertained, and which no rea-
sonable man believed them capable of embracing. Relief,
ample relief they were entitled to, and it ought to be open to
them ; they had behaved well, and no fit encouragement was
given to good behaviour. He rejoiced, however, that in a few
years they must come to a general toleration, for the times
were too much enlightened to soar men's minds to remain
shackled. There was one plain road to pursue; keep in,
if they pleased, all their statutes for the establishment; the
test and corporation acts if they liked it; but let the statute
book be examined, and strike out all the others which relate
merely to opinions. He believed that, in Ireland, all the acts
against Roman catholics were repealed, and no danger had
arisen ; on the contrary, the catholics had behaved incom-
parably well ever since, and had given the most substantial
proofs of their loyalty and attachment to government.


Mr. Fox wished, as the establishment depended on acts of
parliament, to know who gave them a right to decide upon
religious opinions, and by what model could they ascertain
which opinions were right and which wrong? It was said, by
some, that the pope was infallible; by others, that the
church and council were infallible ; but none had ever con-
tended that that House was infallible: they might subject
men to fines and penalties for being better than themselves;
at all events, only for differing from them in their mode of
worshipping the Deity. He should move his amendment ;
but, knowing the necessity of compromising for a little,
when more could not be bad, if he found his amendment
likely to impede this measure, he would withdraw it. But,
hi that case he pledged himself, at some future opportunity,
to bring in a bill to repeal those laws to which lie had alluded.
The time, he hoped, would come when religious liberty would
sicroalg pss generallyenjoyed, and considered to be as essential, as
civil liberty. Sure he was, it might be permitted with less
danger to the state, and greater safety, in all governments.
He was happy in being able to assure the House of one


proof of the tolerant spirit of the times, by stating
to them that, at a large and most respectable meeting of Pro-


L 3




jo CATHOLIC DISSENTER? RELIEF BILL. [March r.


testant dissenters, they were unanimous in wishing that the
protesting catholics might 'obtain relief, and had come to a
resolution to support them in their application. In this court.
try, it was well known, that there was in the establishment
a sect termed Methodists, to whom it was imputed that they
held a doctrine that some were of the elect, and some repro-
bated; a doctrine prima fade as bad as could be supposed
to be entertained, because it was full as hostile to morality, as
the absolution of the pope ; but, he would not therefore con-
demn Methodists, and think, that they ought to be perse-
cuted. His mode of looking at the matter was this : he
concluded that they who held such doctrines did not see the
same evil consequences as appeared to him likely to follow
from them. He knew that there had existed many of the
Methodist persuasion, as worthy, as good, and as exemplary
characters as ever lived of any sect or description. In like
manner, the doctrines of the catholics were denied by them-
selves to have the evil consequences which were stated to re-
sult from them, and both ought to he believed to know best
what they considered as the consequences of their own re-
ligion.


Those laws which he had reprobated as created for perse-
cution and revenge, were directed against the catholics; when,
if justice were adhered to, they ought to have been directed
also against other sects, and their not having been so directed,
proved that they were intended as a check upon opinions, and
consequently that they had been made in the dine of one man
or body of men, whose aim was to exercise tyranny over
others. The tyranny of one man over many was bad enough,
but it carried its own cure with it, and a remedy was always
at hand. The case was the same with the tyranny of a few
over the many; but the worst of all tyranny was that of the
many over the few, because there, the case was hopeless; and for
that very reason it behoved those in authority to exercise their
power with moderation, and not to oppress others. He had
always been of opinion that the old proverb, which, from its
homeliness, had something rather of a vulgar sound, had great
good sense in it : " As you are stout be merciful !" In pro-
portion to the superiority of strength, it behoved all who were
in possession of it neither to tyrannise over the few, nor to
trample upon the weak ; hut to take care that their pro-
ceedings never wandered from the dictates of justice and hu-
manity ; thus imitating what he trusted would prove the po-
litic, enlightened, and liberal conduct of the House to the
Roman catholics.


41


1791.1 CATHOLIC DISSENTERS' RELIEF BILL. I S


When Mr. Fox had moved his amendment, Mr. Burke rose, and
observed that he perfectly agreed with his right honourable friend,
as to the propriety of relinquishing the amendment, if it should
not appear satisfactory, since the way to prevent a failing of
obtaining a desired end, was to accept the smaller good where the
greater was not attainable. The surest mode of remedying griev-
ances, was to proceed moderately and do away a little at a time,
rather than attempt to cure them all at once. Such violent changes
were dangerous, and like a lever swung back at a single stroke
from the place from whence it set out. I-Te should, therefore,
rather think it wiser to repeal the laws complained of so justly, by
piecemeal than all at once. Men ought to be relieved from their
prejudices by degrees. The doctrines asserted by his right ho-
nourable friend, though he could not subscribe to all of them, did
the highest honour to his head and heart ; but he could not agree
with him, that a state was not impowered to enquire into the re-
ligious opinions of all who lived under its protection. It had an
uncontroulable superintending power over those opinions, and it
was highly necessary for the prosperity, the safety, the good morals,
and the happiness of the community, that it should have such a
power. Opinions influenced the passions, and the passions go-
verned the man ; it was a natural effect, produced from a natural
cause.


Quiequid agunt homines, votum, ira, voluptas,
Gaudia, discursus, nostri est farrago libelli ;


and so long as such was its operation, it was the interest and the
duty of government to maintain and exercise it. But, then, its ex-
ercise should be governed by virtue and wisdom, which alone could
regulate a good government, the conduct of which should be al-
ways marked by candour and temperance.—Mr. Pitt said, that
he conceived it to be the general sense of the House, that the bill
should be brought in ; but, as the discussion had better come on
deliberately, at a subsequent and more proper stage for it, and any
alteration either in the title of the bill or the extent of it, might
be adopted at that more fit stage, if upon due consideration, it
should appear adviseable so to alter or extend either the one or
the other; it might, perhaps, upon such a ground, be deemed more
adviseable to let the motion pass without the amendment.


Mr. Fox answered, that although he did not feel the least
reluctance to gratify the right honourable gentleman by with-
drawing the amendment, he rejoiced at having postponed it,
because what he exceedingly desired, was to have heard from
the right honourable gentleman something of the very nature
of those remarks which the right honourable gentleman had
just uttered, since the right honourable gentleman must know
better than he could, what sort of bill or bills were likely
to pass without much objection. With regard to the ge-
neral principle, in which lie had the misfortune to differ
from his right honourable friend, as to his decided opinion


L 4




152 CATHOLIC DISSENTERS' RELIEF BILL. [April
that a state had no right whatever to interfere with the reli-
gious notions of men, or to refuse universal toleration, he
believed that it was an opinion which had gained, and would
continue to gain, daily, more and more upon the public mind;
hut it certainly did not gain upon his mind, because he had
entertained no other opinion ever since he had been able to
think.


The amendment was withdrawn : after which Mr. Mitford ob-
tained leave to bring in the bill.


April T.


The House being in a committee on the bill, and various clauses
having been brought up and agreed to, pro formic,


Mr. Fox remarked, that there were several alterations in
the bill, to which he now gave notice that he could not agree,
and which he should certainly oppose, although not perhaps to
the extent of taking the sense of the House upon them. It was.
meant, he understood, to change the name, by which persons
taking the benefit of the bill, were to be distinguished. Why
any objection should be made against persons calling them-
selves catholic dissenters, who thought that the name was ap-
plicable to their situation, he could not comprehend. They
had long been called by the name of Papists in this country;
but we had also been in the habit of calling them traitors and
murderers, with perhaps as much justice. Papist was an in-
vidious name; and he need hardly say, in an assembly of
well-informed men, by no means applicable, in its strict
sense, to the English Roman catholics : as such, it ought
not to be continued. It was also intended to prevent persons
taking the benefit of the act, from exercising any patronage,
which, in right of their property, they might possess, or pre-
sent to any livings in the church. This lie thought not only
invidious and unjust, but absurd, inasmuch as that which was
thought a sufficient security to the government ought to be
deemed a sufficient security to the church. The clause in the
bill, which denied the benefit of it to any person who shall
speak or write against the doctrine of the Trinity, was such as
ought never to have been admitted into any bill; and the ad-
mission of it into this was peculiarly improper, since it was
never imagined, but that the Roman catholics were suffi-
ciently trinitarian to satisfy the most orthodox divine of the
Church of England.


791.] CATHOLIC DISSENTERS' RELIEF BILL. 153


April 8.


The report of the committee was brought up. On the clause
for enabling catholic dissenters, who shall take the oath, to pre-
sent to ecclesiastical livings,


Mr. Fox said, that admitting, what he did not believe, that
a catholic would be more likely to present an improper per-
son than any other lay patron, . the bishop of the diocese had
the complete power of rejecting the person so presented. He
had the power of enquiring into his moral character, of ex-
amining him both as 'zo his learning and his faith, and of re-
quiring the strongest possible test of his sincerity. Where,
then, could be the danger to the church ? All other.dissen-
ters, capable of acquiring landed property, jews, and if it so
happened, mahometans, were allowed to exercise this right
of property, for, a right of property it was. Upon what
principle, then, either of security or of justice, were catho-
lics excluded ? On all subjects of general toleration, it was
singularly fortunate fbr his argument, that in this kingdom
two religions were by law established. The act of Union
wisely provided for the security of the kirk of Scotland, as
well as for that of the church of England, and thus gave a
triumphant example of toleration. Now, it so happened,
that the king, who was by law obliged to be of the church
of England, often presented a minister to a Scots kirk, with- -
out any danger apprehended from the presentation of an im-
proper person. It might, perhaps, be said, that the two Uni-
versities, in whose gift were the livings to which catholics
were not allowed to present, would object against the clause,
but, with all his great respect for them, he did not, in this
particular instance, conceive that their objections ought to be
considered as valid.


The clause was rejected. On the next clause, tlia papists should
deny the infallibility of the pope, and absolution by .priests, Mr.
William Smith thought that certain words, expressing that declara-
tion, might be left out, because he believed that very few papists
did consider that as any particular part of their creed ; neither
were they so blind or ignorant as to trust the forgiveness of sins to
the absolution of their priests. Mr. Pitt answered, that perhaps
other words than those introduced in the bill might be adopted ;
but still he thought there should be some clause in the bill, which
went the length of exacting from the papists an avowal that no
priest, or human person whatever, could absolve sins committed.
Mr. Smith proposed that the clause might be altered to answer the
Purpose, by inserting the words 66 except original sin."




1 5 4 CATHOLIC DISSENTERS' RELIEF BILL. [April 8.
Mr. Fox thought, that in this case the Roman catholics,


or papists, as they were called, were not altogether treated
fairly. The question had been argued, as if the papists had
acknowledged and avowed all the ridiculous and absurd doc-
trines which were laid 'to their charge, without ever consult-
ing them upon their confession; and this confession had
never been made on their part. In this light he must con-
tend, that calumnies were thrown out against them, which
they had not deserved, and which, if the clause remained in
its present state, they must still lie under. When an honour-
able gentleman had mentioned original sin, the observation
had been treated lightly ; and more so, in his opinion, than
it ought to have been. In our own established church, there
seemed to be some acknowledgment of; and preventive against
original sin, as well as amongst the Roman catholics ; one
instance he would mention, which was the idea of baptism.
He might not he so orthodox, or so well informed in those
matters, as some other gentlemen ; but on that point of ab-
solution and forgiveness of sin, he considered an English
clergyman to be just the same as a cardinal of Rome. The
oath he wished to be as simple and explicit as possible, and
thereby the least in danger of being evaded or misunderstood ;
but, as including in it a religious or a political test, he could
not approve of it, having often expressed his opinion to be
directly against all tests, either political or religious. He
observed, that however some gentlemen might clause to en-
tertain an idea that it was all one to Roman catholics what oath
was prescribed, because they supposed a mental reservation,
he indulged no such supposition of any sect whatever ; and
many great countries must have suffered from such a conse-
quence, had it existed, long before this time. He certainly
had a mental reservation upon this bill, and was not ashamed
to own it, because he knew it would not go as far as it ought
to do ; and until another bill was brought in to go much far-
ther, he could not be satisfied that justice was done either to
the Roman catholics, or many other dissenters from the es-
tablished church, whom he thought deserving, from their
conduct, of the countenance of the legislature. To this bill
he ag. .ed, in hopes that a better and more extensive one,
upon the principle of toleration, would soon be brought for-
ward; if it was not, he should attempt something of that
kind, though lie sincerely wished it might come from a quarter
of the House whence greater success might be expected to
attend it.


On the loth of April the bill was read a third time and passed.


1791.]


BANK DIVIDENDS BILL. 155


BANK DIVIDENDS BILL.


March 1 5.


MO defray the expellees of the late armament, Mr. Pitt proposed
various temporary taxes, which would discharge the incum-


brance in four years, with the assistance of 500,0001, which he had
it in contemplation to take from the unclaimed dividends laying in
the bank of England, the amount of which he estimated at 650,0001.
Accordingly, on the 25th of February he obtained leave to bring
in a bill " for applying to the public service the sum of 500,0001.
out of the balance remaining in the bank of England from sums
issued for the payment of dividends, on account of the national
debt, and for securing the punctual payment of any arrears of divi-
dends, whenever the same shall be demanded." The bill excited
alarm in all the great chartered companies, and in the commercial
and mercantile world in general. It was powerfully opposed in
the House by Mr. Fox, Mr. Burke, Mr. Windham, Mr. Thornton,
Mr. Grey, and Mr. Whitbread, jun. who had recently taken his
seat for the town of Bedford. On the 15th of March, upon the
motion for the second reading of the bill, a petition from the go-
vernor and company of the bank of England, was presented against
it. The bill was then read a second time, and on the motion,
that it be committed,


Mr. Fox observed, that notwithstanding the variety of re-
marks which had proceeded from those who had so strenu-
ously contended in favour of the bill, he must take the liberty
to declare that, in his opinion, not one single argument had
established, even in the smallest degree, the propriety of its
object. A petition against it had just been presented from the
bank proprietors, and no doubt could be entertained of the
weight which ought to be allowed to their opposition ; but for
his own part, his disapprobation extended not merely to the
contents, but to the principle of the bill, and this disapproba-
tion he would certainly take occasion to express, Whenever
the principle should be the subject of debate. Upon the pre-
sent occasion, he was of opinion, that the debate should be
adjourned, till the contents of the petition against the bill,
which had now been read, should fall under a. complete in-
vestigation. For his own part, he had now, for the first
time, heard the petition read, and doubted not that there
were many gentlemen in the same predicament. Previously
strangers to the contents of the petition, it could not be ex-




156 BANK DIVIDENDS BILL. [March se
-91.]


BANK DIVIDENDS BILL. 157


I
petted that they should have become masters of them, or be
enabled to pay them the regard to which they were entitled
from a first cursory hearing. And surely, the solemnity
winch ought to be observed in a point of such importance,
required that previously to the debate, the contents of the
petition should be fully known and examined, that they might
be allowed their proper weight and influence, in regulating
the opinion, and guiding the decision, which should be
adopted. In opposing the bill, the authority of the bank was
great; his own was less than nothing; and therefore, when
moving for an adjournment of the debate, he must be consi-
dered as principally acting from a respectful deference for the
opinions of so important a body.


Mr. Pitt having contended that no delay was necessary, re-
marked, that the petition contained nothing which to him appeared
of any weight, and whatever regard was due to the authority of the
petitioners, it was to be measured only by the nature of the argu-
ments upon which they had founded their petition. The right ho-
nourable gentleman had disclaimed his own authority in any oppo-
sition which he might give to the bill, but no one would doubt his
abilities to state the grounds upon which he opposed it : and as his
mind was so decidedly made up on the subject, he was certainly
prepared without farther delay, to pursue the debate on that side of
the question which he espoused.


Mr. Fox repeated that his own objections to the bill were
insurmountable, and that even if the proprietors had con-
sented to the measure, his opposition, though it might have
been diminished, would not have been removed. He wished
not for an adjournment on his own account, nor should he find
any difficulty at present in putting a direct negative on the
bill. The right honourable gentleman hail expressed himself
impatient to prove to the House, that the allegations against
the bill were ill founded. If this were really the case, it was
strange that his impatience should not have had its proper
operation, and produced its natural effects. It was extraor-
dinary that, instead of the mode of proceeding which he had
adopted in the conduct of the business, he should not have
set out with stating the grounds upon which he founded his
bill. He- doubted not, indeed, that he might be impatient to
urge his case ; but he could not see that it was therefore pro-
per for the House, in a question of such importance, to be
impatient to decide between him and the bank. Great as his
authority was, it was certainly, on the present s-,,ubject, not
to be put in competition with the authority of the tank. The
form of the petition was indeed singular : it had exceeded the
usual length of petitions, as instead of haying ,recourse to


counsel, the petitioners had interwoven their arguments in the
body of the petition itself'. But this form, though less com-
mon, was not less respectful to the House : nor was the peti-
tion on this account less entitled to the attentive consideration
and serious regard which the high importance of the subject
demanded. 'When the principle of the bill should come to be
debated, he should certainly state the grounds on which he
founded his opposition, nor did his present motion for an ad-journment at all proceed from any desire to make up his mind
on the subject, but merely from the regard which he considered
as due to the petition of so respectable a body. The bringer-in
of the bill had, indeed, shewn himself aware of the propriety
of adjournment, by his attempt to evade the force of the ar-


He had supposed that those who disapproved of the(ruin ent.
bill, might be prepared without farther delay to state the
grounds of their opposition. But he would ask any gentle-
man, from the manner in which he had been struck with the
first cursory hearing of the petition, whether the arguments
appeared to be such as he ought to regard, whether they
were such as ought, at the first view, to be decided upon, or
were entitled to closer examination and more deliberate in-
quiry? Such were the considerations which induced him to
move, " That the debate be adjourned till this day seven-
night.


Upon this motion the House, after a short debate, divided.
Tellers. Tellers.


5 Mr. Grey Colonel Phipps 1YEA S 1 82.— NOES 1
f 1 79 .I Mr. M. A. Taylor Mr. Rose


So it passed in the negative. The debate on the question, That
the bill be committed, being then resumed,


Mr. Fox rose and observed, that notwithstanding it ap-
peared to be the general sense of the House that the unclaimed
dividends were not the object of the bill which he designed to
oppose, but that five hundred thousand pounds of the floating
balance, out of seven hundred, which were stated to be in the
bank, were to be taken from thence by government, and ap-
propriated; yet certainly it was understood, and it did not ap-
pear from any expressions in the motion that was made by the
chancellor of the exchequer for leave to bring in the bill,
that he himself understood any thing else than the unclaimed
dividends; he should, however proceed upon the object of the
bill, as it was now explained.


His objections to the principle of the bill he divided into
two heads. First, it was utterly subversive of public credit,
upon which the importance and prosperity of this country




I$8 BANK DIVIDENDS [March
materially depended. Secondly, it was a direct invasion of
the property of the bank, which had an usufructuary right to
this floating balance. He would begin with this latter point,
because its prior discussion would more easily lead into the
examination of the former position. All property, however
acquired, provided the acquisition was legal, whether by
industry or by trade, was equally entitled to the protection of
the laws ; and as banking was a trade acknowledged and
authorised by law, so the profits of a banker were entitled to
the same protection with every other species of property.
But the bank of England was, with respect to the floating
balance, to be considered in no other light than that of a
private banker, who is a trustee to the owner for the money
which is deposited with him, and accountable to that owner
whenever he is called upon by him : the trust is the same
in both cases; the election is the same; the same kind of
security attaches ; the same duties, the same advantages result
from the connection ; and certainly it could not be denied,
but that the case of the bank of England, with respect to its
customers, which the public creditors were, who did not call
for their dividends immediately as they became due, was sub-
stantially the same with that of a private banker with respect
to his customers, who left money in his shop. It was sub-
stantially the same, although, indeed, some little difference
occurred in the form of drawing the money out in the one
case and in the other; for in the case of the bank of England,
there was a power of attorney necessary, which was not re-
quired in the other case ; but surely, this made no difference
as to the substance of the thing. A gentleman living in the
country has a dividend of Tool. paid into the bank, he does
not want the money, he will not be at the expence of going
up to town to receive it, or he has no occasion to use it if he
did; he waits, then, till the occasion arises : will any one be
.absurd enough to suppose, or mad enough to contend, that
in all this interval, the bank of England is not, to all intents
and purposes, as his private banker ; that it has not the same
advantages with his private banker, and the same usufructuary
property in the money so committed to its care?


The floating balance, which was about to be seized upon,
was precisely that which he now put for the sake of argu-
ment. The dividends unclaimed for any long series of years
were scarcely any; those unclaimed for twenty five or thirty
years were very trifling; and the floating balance was money,
the claims of which were of a date so recent, that it was
fully proved it was left there voluntarily, until occasions
should arise to the owner of it for its use. This being the
case, what does this hill do? It violently seizes, and converts


BANK DIVIDENDS BILL.
1791.] IS 9


to public use, money which is as distinct from all public
claim, as the money lodged at the house of Mr. Drummond,
or any other banking-house in London. It says, " your
customers, A, B, and C, have lodged with you 700,0001.,
we will take 5 00,0001. of it, and apply it as we think fit; it is
true, that we have no letter of attorney, no order from A,
B, and C, for what we do; those gentlemen we have no con-
nection with; we do not come as their friends, but we will
take the money, and make use of it." Some gentlemen/ had
chosen, during the course of the debate, to contend, that the
dividends being public property, the public had a right to
make use of them; but this certainly was not the fact; for
the very moment that the money issued from the exchequer,
it ceased to be public property, and was as much the property
of individuals, as any other species of property whatever;
and as it became the property of individuals, so every circum-
stance which attended private property immediately attached
to it. Here then, also, that usufructuary right of the bank
of England did most necessarily attach ; for, the right of
bankers to make use of the money lodged with them in the
way of trade, was a circumstance attending private property
which could not more easily be divested from it than any-of
the other circumstances and qualities that attend it. Here,
then, there was no difference whether the money left in the
bank was left there by way of dividend, or whether it was
money which had been received from the rents of a landed
estate, or from any kind of capital, and there deposited by
the owners; excepting indeed, as the difference affected in a
more favourable manner the money left by way of dividend,
because that species of property was always deemed, and justly
deemed, more sacred and inviolable than any other : all other
property might be taxed; rents from land might be taxed;
the profits of trade might be taxed, but the interest arising
to the public creditor could not be taxed ; for there was an
implied contract to that effect; much less could it be vio-
lently seized on and appropriated, when it was admitted that
other property less sacred, less inviolable, could riot, - under
similar circumstances, be meddled with at all. Hence it tine
answerably followed, that the government were equally en-
titled to take an account of all the balances in the hands of
the different bankers, and to tell them, " So much is enough
for you to keep in your shop, so much for you, &c we
will take all the surplus because we want it, and we will leave
you enough to go on with." The same principle would bear
out government in this invasion of private property, as in
the matter now before the House; and though gentlemen
might think that this mode of reasoning was pushed very far,




16o BANK DIVIDENDS BILL.
[March 15.


yet he could assure them it was perfectly applicable; for there
could not be a more certain proof of a bad principle, or of
no principle at all, than that all the consequences which are
deduced from it should not be justified, and that we should
defend in some cases, and condemn in others, when there is
no real difference existing between the cases.


With respect to the position that public credit would be
materially injured by this proceeding, Mr. Fox argued that
there was nothing so simple as to assign the cause, whether
of public or private credit. Credit in general was main-
tained by keeping your word, and it, was lost by breaking it.
Now, all acts of parliament, by which money was borrowed
from individuals, was simply a contract between the public
and the said individuals. Supposing, for instance, that I
agree to lend the public one hundred pounds, for which the
public makes a reciprocal engagement that it will pay me
three pounds. a year; it also engages how and when it will
pay me. When? As that it will pay me thirty shillings upon
the 1st of January, and thirty shillings in half a year after-
wards. How? As that it will issue the money to the bank,
which bank shall pay it over to me. Now the annuity, the
time of paying it, and the manner of paying it, arc all
parts of one indivisible contract; and you may, with the same
right, destroy one part of a contract as another. But you
will say, is your security the worse for having the money re-
absorbed into the exchequer ? Do you doubt our means,
or our faith ? To this I answer, it is not the question now
whether my situation is rendered better or worse; the ques-
tion is, whether you fulfil the terms of your contract? It is
evident that you do riot fulfil them ; and therefore you have
not kept your word, and your faith is violated.


Having made these remarks, Mr. Fox next contended that
the terms were not only broken in general, which, upon the
abstract, was a violation of a principle, whatever might be
the consequence; but they were broken to the disadvantage
of the public creditor. Where the bank was the paymaster,
if they failed, there was the same action as against an indi-
vidual; the law was clear and explicit, and the course of pro-
ceeding was defined; but where the exchequer turned pay-
'master, all was darkness; there was no proceeding, no course
marked out by which the injured creditor could recover his
right. Indeed, this was so much the case, and so necessary
had it appeared to the legislature of this country, that it had
always been a most useful part of their policy, iwtsmuch as:
to that very circumstance we were indebted for the great
superiority of the public credit of Great Britain, beyond that
of all neighbouring nations, to interpose the bank in all


179 1'3 BANK DIVIDENDS BILL. I 6 I


t ransactions between the public and individuals; and if the
fact was what he had a right to assume it was, that this
interposition of the bank had been the means of obtaining
money upon easier terms than could have been otherwise
obtained, the taking away this interposition, or even altering
or modifying it, was a direct and palpable violation of the
public faith; and it was a fraud of the basest complexion to
receive an advantage for an equivalent which was not main-
tained, while the advantage was still enjoyed. Sonic ques-
tions had been proposed to . counsel, upon the subject of the
bank being security to the public creditors for the money,
after it had been issued from the exchequer for the payment of
dividends. Four counsel, of the greatest eminence in their
profession, had given most decidedly their opinions, that the
bank was a security under these circumstances. The solicitor
general, indeed, declined giving opinion on the subject,b
on account of the situation in which he then stood. But one
gentleman, Mr. Wood, upon whose abilities or knowledge
he did not mean to cast the slightest imputation, did give it
as his opinion, that the bank was not a security for monies
so issued. Mr. Wood, doubtless, had not considered suf-
ficiently the several acts by which the money was directed to
be paid to the bank. Certainly, if the bank was not security,
these acts required a most speedy revision. For, who was
the security? If the bank was not, it was the cashier of the
bank. So that upon the conduct of one individual, the
integrity of the public faith, the security of all the public
creditors, the dignity, the importance, the very existence of
the state, depended, according to this opinion. But surely,
this was not the case upon any ground of reasoning. Did
not the bank appoint its own cashiers; and was it not there-
fore responsible for the acts of its servant, whom it had.
itself invested with this trust? So that although the money
is, indeed, directed to be paid to the cashier, which seems to
have been the ground of Mr. Wood's opinion, yet it is only
so directed for form, and the bank is the substantial security
to the public creditor, and not the individual whom it may
choose to appoint its cashier. Now, these acts which direct
the money to be paid to the bank of England, the policy of
which is not to be doubted, and the moral propriety of
which has the obligation of a contract, are about to be corn-
Pletely overturned by the bill which is before the House.


cl
it


elsiteo ras thise:
tssiasy, you shall so pay the money of the public


bill says, you shall take it away again.
Passing from these observations, Mr. Fox thus put the


easNOL. I


case of :contract between A and B.. A wishes to-borrow a
hundred pounds of B. J3 says he will lend him the money,




162 :SANK DIVIDENDS BILL. [March


provided he will repay it by instalments. But, says B, as
perhaps I may not know where to find you, or it might put
me to some inconvenience to look for you, you shall pay the
money by instalments into Mr. Drummond's shop. A con-
sents to pay the money by instalments into Mr. Drummond's
shop ; and Mr. Drummond, who is now another party to-
the contract, agrees to receive it. After this, A changes his
mind, and pays the money into the house of Child : will
any body say that he has fulfilled his contract? The security
of Child is, perhaps, as good as Drummond's, but if B does
not consent that the security should be shifted, will any one
contend that if Child should fail, A will have performed his
contract, though he should have paid all the money to Child
for the use of B? Now, what are we about? Are we not
precisely putting ourselves in the situation of A, who has
paid the money of B, without B's consent, into the house of
Child, and shifted his security, and broken his contract?
And though it may be asserted, that persons having property
in the bank may demand it before we shift their security, by
placing it in the exchequer, yet this statement is not correct;
for the property of many persons is locked up in trust; some
arc minors, some arc in the West and some are in the East
Indies. We shall, therefore, have committed the injury in
some cases where no consent can be given; and, in others,
before the parties will have been able virtually to consent;
for, a virtual consent is all that is contended for.


Mr. Fox declared, that he did not entertain the most
distant idea of taxing the right honourable the chancellor of
the exchequer with a design to confound the unclaimed
dividends with the floating balance of the bank; this, how-
ever, he would say, that his confusion had -been of the
greatest service to the minister in the prosecution of this
measure; for, had the public been specifically apprized of
this robbery of the bank, the alarm would have been taken,
and the bill would not have been ripened to the present stage
of maturity. The idea, indeed, of the public demand on
the unclaimed dividends, was an idea founded in ignorance;
for there was no such thing as any property in this country
without a claimant; and in default of any relations of the
deceased owners, all property was vested in the king. Not
that lie should contend that the public had not a claim upon
the king, but the legal distinction should be observed, anal
whatever was taken by the public ought to be taken in right
of the public. This measure had, therefore, thitherto pro'
ceeded upon a fallacy in the public judgement.




As to the miserable precedents adduced in favour of this
measure upon a former clay, they were too insignificant to


1791,] DIVIDENDS BIM 163


deserve a serious refutation. Upon principles of general
reasoning, there could be no doubt, Mr. Fox added, but that
the question was entirely with him. As precedents had been
dcluced, he should beg leave to trespass a little longer on


the patience of the House, with some obvious remarks con-
cerning their nature. The first precedent was the case of the
bankers' debt, and this was not at all in point according to
the present terms of the bill; for this was a bill concerning
a floating balance, and that was specifically a bill concerning
unclaimed dividends. There was also another precedent
concerning annuities upon lives, where the dividends were
resumed by government, and to this he should answer, that
there .was a very material distinction between the two cases;
fb•, when annuities are determinable upon lives, there is
always a presumption, at a certain distance of time, that the
lives have expired; a presumption which never can hold
good with respect to perpetual annuities. But with respect
to the matter of precedents, it behoved the House most
carefully to avoid any measure by which a precedent could
be set to countenance injustice; and the rather, as there was
something alarming in the use which was made of precedents
upon this very occasion. Precedents had been stated, which
might not have been quite justifiable at the time they were
set, for the sake of countenancing the commission of a
greater injustice; and if this were now to be a precedent, he
trembled to think what were the enormities, each greater than
the other, provided the subject matter had some little
analogy, which might not be indulged with a favourable re-.
ception under the dangerous cloak of precedent. As to
what had been asserted concerning persons who held pecu-
niary trusts under government, and whose balances were taken
out of their hands, and vested elsewhere, as in the case of
the balances taken out of the hands of the paymaster general,
treasurer of the navy, and others, he denied that there was
the smallest analogy by which die House could determine the
propriety of taking away the floating balance from the bank.
The paymaster general, and others, were no parties to any
contract between the public and those persons whom they paid
on the account of the public. The officers of the army, or
of the navy, certainly had made no contract with the exe-
cutors of Lord Holland or of Mr. Rigby. If these balances
Were taken out of the hands of the executors of Lord Hol-
land or of Mr. Rigby, how were they affected? or in what
manner
anner could they be said to be parties to such a transaction ?
I, he complete futility, therefore, of such an argument, ren-dered it undeserving of consideration.


In summing up the various r, •arruments of la speech,
III 2




1.64 DANK DIVIDENDS BILL. [March 15. 791.] BANK DIVIDENDS DILL. 165


Fox contended, that if we admitted the bank to be trustees
to the public creditors for the payment which had been issued
from the exchequer, a fact which could not be denied in
tato ; or if we admitted that the bank were trustees only to
minors, to foreigners, to persons at so great a distance as not
to be able to exercise any act by which their consent to the
transaction Could be implied, we should still be impressed
with a sense of the injustice of the bill now before the House.
This was not a case where a majority of public creditors were
to decide, and to bind the minority by such a decision. The
contract of the public creditors with the public was the con-
tract of every individual of them, and not a general contract;
and though, supposing the public creditors were in number
twenty-nine thousand, and twenty-eight thousand nine hun-
dred and ninety-nine of those were to give their consent to
this alteration of the terms of the contract, yet was not the
single one concluded by their decisions, and he had a right:
to insist upon a specific execution of those terms upon which
alone he had entered into the engagement.


But, gracious Heaven ! , added Mr. Fox, when we consider
the sacrifice which is to be made ; when we reflect that a
general principle must be violated; that the faith of the
public must be impeached, and the credit of the nation
hazarded; and when we contrast all this with the advantage
which is to be gained, that a pitiful saving of 20,0001. is to
be- effected, and this in a time of great prosperity, when
peace has added to our resources, and an abundant and
springing capital would supply without difficulty, without
imputation, without reproach, what our exigency requires,
shall we not be surprised at such a pertinacious adherence to
this measure? The pride of the individual will sometimes
engage him in a fatal obstinacy ; but let not this' House be
infected by such a narrow principle, and let it depart from its
conduct when it must be convinced of the injustice and im-
policy of that conduct. It was not without much indignation,
that he felt himself warranted in remarking that, upon all
occasions, when rights were invaded, a cringing and a fawn-
ing policy -was substituted for a manly behaviour. Applica-
tion was to be made to the minister, his forbearance was to
be solicited, the justice of the House was not to be appealed
to; yet, for his own part, lie could sincerely . affirm, that he
disdained to be influenced by any of these considerations,
when they were not urged with unexceptionable propriety.
It was his inflexible determination to persevere i the most
zealous and unbiassed endeavours to fulfil his parliamentary
and political duties; and he anxiously hoped, that not only
upon the present, but upon all other occasions, ,the Hot*


would be actuated by the same sentiments, and govern their
proceedings accordingly.


The House divided on the motion, that the bill be committed.
Yeas 1 9 1 : Noes 83. The bill was ordered to be committed on
the zzd instant.


Mardi 22.


The order of the day being read for going into a•comMittee
on the bill, the question of adjournment was moved by Sir
Benjamin Hammet. This gave rise to another debate, in the
course of which Mr. Rose having contended, that the exchequer
could legally call for the arrears on dividends on the public funds
vested in the bank of England,


Mr. Fox said, that he must take the liberty to advert to
the assertion of the honourable gentleman who spoke last but
one, that the exchequer possessed a right to call for these
sums from the hank. It had been stated that no person
would venture to deny that right; now, he, for one, was
bold enough to deny that any such legal right existed any
where ; and though this might not be the time to enter upon
that question, still he would challenge the honourable gen-
tleman to discuss it, and that at some early period : being
anxious, now that new ground was started, to have it fully
argued and settled, that the path might be known in which
they were to tread, before they gave any final decision upon
the bill before them. On this occasion, lie trusted that the
crown lawyers would also come forward, and avow that
right which the exchequer was said. to possess; and he was
the more anxious to hear them eater into the defence of so
strange a principle, because he would undertake, however
slight his pretensions might be to a decisive investigation of
law questions, to overset this doctrine, as often as any attempts
should be made for its establishment.


The House divided on Sir Benjamin Hammet's motion of ad-
journment. Yeas 54: Noes 1 55 . Soon afterwards,


Mr. Fox rose again and observed, that the word " account"
In the preamble, required, in his opinion, some explanation,
because it had been argued, and would be argued after what
had passed that night, on different meanings, just as it suited
those who used it for the time. That the bank were to
account to the exchequer for their management of, and trans-
actions with, the public money, he could easily understand,




166 BANK DIVIDENDS [March 22,


agreeably to the state of accounts which they from time to
tune gave in; but that the bank was to account by paying
into the exchequer the balances which might be on their
accounts whenever the exchequer' ordered it, was quite a dif-
ferent point; and at any rate, before an act of parliament
was made, it became necessary that the wording of it should
be clearly and explicitly understood, and until it was so by
the House, he thought no gentleman could- give a vote upon
the subject. He should have conceived that the preamble
would have run much better in this manner: 64 Whereas
the bank having paid into the exchequer," and so on; be-
cause it was proper to be in possession of the money before
you can use it; get the money first, and then enact how it
is to be appropriated. The bank had the sole right to the
custody of the money; whatever was their profit, he con-
sidered it to be of no consequence to the question of right ;
and the contrary doctrine, which had been started that night,
he averred to be unjust, impolitic, and unfounded, on any
principle of law, reason, or common sense. An honourable
gentleman, (Mr. Yorke,) who had reproached him with being
an enemy to the lawyers, had done him a most unmerited
injustice; but however much he respected any profession, he
never could forget his duty to his country and his regard forjustice. In the opinions which he had adopted on this bu-
siness, he went with almost all the eminent men of the pro-
fession who had been consulted. One name only he had
heard mentioned, who gave a different opinion, which per-
haps might be unexceptionable; but he must beg leave to
observe, that to him it was unintelligible. He thought, that
as the preamble set forth what was to be the spirit of the
bill, a necessity existed for perfectly understanding it pre-
viously to any investigating debate concernin g the nature of
the clauses.


Mr. Pitt said, that with regard to the bank accounting to the
exchequer, it was not meant to pay any respect to their personal
interests, nor, till to-night, did he ever imagine that this particular
point could have produced such strong words as had been used in
argument. The money, when it was claimed by the bank from the
exchequer, when emergencies required it, was to be paid by im-
prest, and as little time lost as possible. He then stated a sup-
position, that if the national debt, two hundred years ago, had been
ten millions, and had. been paid off in one hundred and fifty years,
and that there now remained a sum of money unclaimed in the
bank, it might, upon this ground, be contended, that Ai exchequer
process would reach it, and get the money from the bank. As to
the cash balances upon the accounts of paymasters, and other
officers of government; they had often been called upon to pay in


I I


1791.1 DANE DIVIDENDS BILL. 167


those balances, by exchequer process, even before their accounts.
had been settled.


Mr. Fox observed, that he felt it necessary to assure the
right honourable gentleman in particular, and the House in
general, that it was his wish and determined resolution to
have this question of legal right fully discussed and probed
to the bottom; and he not only considered it his duty, but'
was happy to declare his decided opinion against what had
been remarked. He believed that the right honourable gen-
tleman's opinion on that particular quest ion, was the same
as his; and he insisted that it became him to state it in the
seine fair and open manner to the Bouse, that gentlemen
might be able to judge properly on the relative situations of
the parties interested. The ri ght honourable gentleman had
eluded, with a particular degree of caution, entering into a
discussion of most of those points which had been stated in
opposition to him, both during the present evening, and in
every other stage of the debate. He thought that the pro-
prietors of unreceived dividends and all stockholders, were
equally interested and equally entitled to information and
justice; and that the meaning of the preamble was an essen-
tial part of the bill, and required to be fully and unequi-
vocally explained. If, however, that conduct of evasion, by
eluding every enquiry, was to be continued, he must give it
no other name than scandalous dealing with the public. He
meant, as far as he could, riot to go over what had been
agitated in former debates : but this point of right of tak-
ing money from the bank by exchequer process, he thought
very material and important, and he conceived that it ought
to be clearly known, whether the public creditors' property
in the bank, on their security, was or was not, by law, in
the situation which the right honourable gentleman stated,
liable to be removed by exchequer process. As to the right
honourable gentleman's supposition about the national debt
amounting to ten millions, two hundred years ago, and being
paid off in one hundred and fifty years, leaving A balance
in the bank, he should not hesitate a moment to contradict
the right honourable gentleman's assertion that it could be
taken by exchequer process; the case appeared widely dif.
ferent; there certainly was some person who had a just title
to this sum ; and, after every reasonable time and method
was tried in vain to find the proper heir, then the law
had wisely presumed that there must be an heir for every
th ing inheritable, and when that heir could not be found,
had appointed the king as heir. Upon the question, how the
Public had afterwards any claim upon the use of the money,


4




t 6 8 BANE DIVIDENDS BILL. [March 22.


he should remain silent. It should be considered that these
were perpetual, and not life annuities ; neither could they
be affected in any way by prescription. The case of pay-
masters was no ways in point or applicable; they had no title
either to the custody or the use of balances on their accounts;
and certainly an exchequer process might be issued against
them, at any time before payment of balances; but even
then, it was usual to have the effect of that process delayed,
until their accounts were settled. But they were merely
agents, and not trustees for any person, or in any shape;
and if such a power can exist as that contended for by the
right honourable gentleman, let it be tried before a proper
tribunal; let the exchequer assert its right, and if either
judgment or justice appear in the proceedings, then it maybecome a question for the legislature to interfere in. For
his part, he was anxious to see those curious provisions in
the bill which were to cleanup all the mystery and fallacy
set forth in the preamble. Let him see them, and he and




many others would readily confess that they had been in the
wrong, though he knew that he was in no danger of alter-
ing his mind, because he also knew that there were none such
to produce. -


Mr. Pitt explained what he had formerly said concerning float-
ing balances in the bank, and argued that the three months al-
lowed by the bill was a sufficient time to get the consent of the
public creditors.


Mr. Fox-maintained that the right to the custod y of these
sums was with the bank alone, till claimed by the legal pro-
prietors; and that the bank, in the mean time, had the same
title to the usufruct of that money, which they had to any
other cash in their hands. It was a mere sham consent, and
nothing else, which the right honourable gentleman imagined
that he had obtained; for Mr. Fox insisted that all stock-
holders, and those who might be stockholders, must give that
consent, which could be called a general and proper consent.
A man might be very well satisfied with government securityj ust now, but he might not be so for ever, nor even very soon,
if circumstances altered as they might do. When his money
was in the bank, he could change the security as often as he
liked; but not so when once government had taken it. He
painted in a variety of lights the various inconveniences and
hardships attending this measure, and dreaded the conse-
quences as not less destructive from the avoweetpopularity
which sonic had given it, not, perhaps, thinking that the real
cause for this attack upon public credit might sooner or later
be perfectly understood.


17911 BANK DIVIDENDS BILL. 169


The preamble was then postponed, and the committee went
through the bill.


March 25.


A petition against the bill, from several proprietors in the public
funds, having been presented by Sir Benjamin Harnmet, Mr. Pitt
observed, that as a long previous notice had been already given,
be trusted that the petition could afford no pretext for delaying the
report of the bill. It had been appointed for the preceding day,
and he should certainly consider himself as authorized to move
that it should be received immediately. In his opinion, there was
an irregularity in the mode in which the petitioners had desired to
be heard by counsel, as they had not come forward until this late
stage of the bill.


Mr. Fox, on the contrary, contended that the conduct of
the petitioners was not irregular; as they might, perhaps,
have counsel ready to be heard on the report. It would be
recollected that this business was intended to have conic on
upon a former day, and had been unavoidably postponed ; a
circumstance of which they could not have been aware. He
did not think himself possessed of sufficient weight to attempt
now to oppose the report. But surely, if there was any bu-
siness which ought to be conducted with caution, or in which
full time ought to be allowed, it was upon an occasion like
this, in which the public credit was interested. The petition
was almost unprecedented with respect to its nature, and
the quarter from whence it issued. It had not, he believed,
happened, since the accession of the family of Brunswick,
that a petition had been presented from the bank to the
House of Commons against any measure with regard to mo-
ney matters. In such an event, therefore, the fullest inves-
tigation, the most serious deliberation, was necessary. A pe-
tition had now been presented, signed by the most respectable
names, with regard to extent of property, which had ever
perhaps appeared in any civilized nation. He was not one
of those whom a regard to property could influence in the
extreme, neither did he feel himself inclined to allow it too
much weight in the deliberations of public business. On the
contrary, he thought, that in debates in that House, it was
too frequently referred to, and too much stress laid upon it.
But, if there was any occasion on which regard was due to
Property, it was the present. If there was any property
deemed sacred, it was that which was vested in the funds;
and any petition, proceeding from this quarter, ought to


1.7:1r
regard.


most deliberate attention, and excite the most0




"I70 BANK DIVIDENDS BILL. [March zs• l
On the report of the bill being brought up, Mr. Chiswell moved,


that the following clause be added to the bill, " That the pro,
prietors of the annuities and dividends who shall not before the.
ist day of June 1791, signify their dissent to the paying into the
exchequer the soo,oce/. in books to be opened at the bank of
England, shall be deemed to assent thereto ; but that in case a
number of proprietors shall signify their dissent, then the money
shall not be paid."


Mr. Fox observed, that he felt ample reason to approve of
the clause which had been brought up, and should feel a greater
pleasure if it were adopted. He adverted to what an honour-
able gentleman had said concerning the consent which had
been, or could be, obtained to this measure, and that this was
a consent by inference, or rather a supposed consent. He al-
lowed that there might be a consent by inference, or a virtual
consent, such as that given to taxation, which the people gave
virtually, because they, the House of Commons, whom the
people had chosen as their representatives, had agreed to it;
but this was very different, indeed, from the consent which
the honourable gentleman had talked of. All that was asked
by the honourable member who moved the clause, was, that
persons who were interested might have an opportunity of
giving their dissent, which was certainly fair. He had, on a
former occasion, contended, and still should he persist in con-
tending, that not only the present proprietors of unclaimed
dividends, but all stockholders, must give their consent' before
it was a proper consent ; because all stockholders may, at some
future period, have unclaimed dividends. Many respectable
proprietors had already given their dissent, as appeared by
the petition from the bank proprietors, and that now upon
the table, signed by such men as, in point of wealth, gave it
more weight than, perhaps, any petition which had ever been
presented in any part of the world. He in general was not
one of those who argued that the importance of a measure
depended upon the rank or wealth of those interested in it;
but surely, on a subject which was so materially connected
with the property of the country, and the security of the pub-
lic creditor, he must contend that very great attention and
respect was due to the names, characters, and situations of
such men as the petitioners. As to the Bank of England,
on all emergencies the nation and they had acted together for
a long time back, and he was sorry that he was led to remark,
upon the present occasion, that this was the first time, since
the accession of the Brunswick family to the throne, that tit!
Bank of England had found it necessary to make any a.pph-
cation to parliament against a measure, which, as far as the
national faith and public credit were concerned, was in the


791']


KING'S MESSAGE, .


opinion not only of the petitioners, but of all the monied in-
terest within the kingdom, so pregnant with the most alarm-
ing danger. As to the virtual consent mentioned by the ho-
nourable gentleman, it seemed to be founded on the dissent
which had been given, and would still be given, if time were
allowed. Mr. Fox appealed to the good sense and informa-
tion of the House, whether, in the present situation of affairs,
and after the great and general alarm which this measure had
occasioned, it ought not to induce the majority of the House
to wish, at any rate, f'or more time before they allowed the
bill to pass ? It never had received the consent of any party
interested in its operation; on the contrary, it was forced
upon them all against their will, and was in its nature as
unjust as in its consequences it was destructive.


The clause was rejected on a division by 136 against 45. The
bill was ordered to be read a third time on the z9th. It was, how-
ever, proceeded with no farther ; Mr. Pitt having consented; by
way of compromise, to accept of a loan of goo,000/. from the bank
without interest, so long as a floating balance to that amount should
remain in the hands of the cashier.


KING'S MESSAGE RESPECTING THE WAR BETWEEN RUSSIA
AND THE PORTE.


March 29.


ABOUT this time a very important subject of foreign politics
occupied the attention of parliament. At the congress of


Reichenbach, the defensive alliance had proposed to Russia to ac-
cede to the peace which Austria was concluding, and that all con-
quests should be restored ; but Catharine constantly replied, that
she would admit of no interference between her and the Turks.Deprived, however, of the assistance of Austria, in the strength
and determination of the allies she saw the impracticability of sub-
Jugating Turkey for the present, and now offered to restore all her
acqusitions by the war, except the town and dependencies of Oc-
zacow. This possession, she conceived, would on the one hand
secure her dominions against the irruptions of the Tartars, and on
'he other command an entrance into Turkey, whenever circum-
st
ances should prove more favourable to the execution of her am,Ittotts designs. The allied powers deemed the objects of Catharine


aeompatible with that tranquillity which it was the purpose of the




'172 KING'S MESSAGE RESPECTING THE [March 29,


confederacy to ensure. There was, besides, an unfriendly (lisp°,
sition long manifested by Russia towards Great Britain. During
our difficulties, she had headed a . confederation for the express
purpose of reducing the naval power of this country. When the
commercial treaty between England and Russia was expired,
Catharine not only declined renewal, but obliged our merchants
to pay in duties twenty-five per cent. more than she exacted from
other countries, though they gave half a year's credit for their
exports, and were always a whole year in advance for their im-
ports. At the same time she concluded commercial treaties
with France and Spain, on terms that were advantageous to both
these countries. Such indications of enmity to this country,joined to her ambitious projects, impelled the British government
to prevent the encroachments of the empress's court. Britain
and her allies still adhered to their purpose, of inducing or com-
pelling Catharine to restore the conquest. Finding pacific nego-
ciations unavailing, the defensive alliance projected more effectual
interference. Accordingly, having concerted forcible mediation
for the security of Europe, his majesty, on the 28th of March, sent
the following message to both Houses :


"G. R.
His majesty thinks it necessary to acquaint the House of Com-


mons, that the endeavours which his majesty has used, in conjunc-
tion with his allies, to effect a pacification between Russia and the
Porte, having hitherto been unsuccessful, and the consequences
which may arise from the farther progress of the war, being highly
important to the interests of his majesty and his allies, and to those
of Europe in general, his majesty judges it requisite, in order to add
weight to his representations, to make some farther augmentation
of his naval force ; and his majesty relies on the zeal and affection
of the House of Commons, that they will be ready to make good
such additional expences as may be incurred by these preparations,
for the purpose of supporting the interests of his majesty's king- _
dom, and of contributing to the restoration of general tranquillity
on a secure and lasting foundation."


On the following day, Mr. Pitt moved an address to his majesty
in the usual form. He supported the measure which was the ob-
ject of the address, upon the ground, that we had a direct and
important interest in the war between Russia and the Porte ; and
that as our endeavours to effect a pacification had hitherto
proved unsuccessful, we were under the necessity of arming,
in order to give greater weight to our representations. He con-
ceived, that having entered into defensive alliances, which were
admitted to be wise and politic, we ought to adhere to them, and,
if possible, to prevent any changes in the general state of affairs,
which might render them nugatory. Prussia was our ally ; any
event, therefore, which might affect that power, and diminish its
influence on the continent, would be injurious to ourselves, as far as
our mutual interests were united. The progress of tl'ie Russian arms
against the Porte, gave sufficient cause for alarm ; for should success
still attend them, and the power of the Porte be farther humbled
by its aspiring rival, Prussia would instantly feel it; and not Prussia


1795.]


WAR BETWEEN RUSSIA AND THE rorm.
173


alone, but all Europe itself; which might prove in danger of being
shaken to its very foundation. The address having been opposed by
My. Coke of Norfolk, Lord Wycombe, Mr. Lambton, Mr. Martin,
and Mr. Vyner, Mr. Steele rose in support of it, and in the course
of his speech observed, that there were gentlemen whose constant
practice it was to oppose all the measures of government, and that
i t was therefore naturally to be expected that they would oppose


declared, that no person had perhaps ever shown.


the.ilpbr.. s


e Fos


.


a more complete forgetfulness, or disregard of facts, than the
honourable gentleman who spoke last, in his illiberal charge
against him, and the friends with whom he had the, ho-
nour to act. Had the honourable gentleman intimated
merely in general tern* that they opposed all the measures
of government, it would have been a gross aspersion ; for
the House would recollect, and the honourable gentleman
could not well have forgotten, that this was the third arena
meat within a few years, and he could appeal to every gentle-
man who heard him, whether he had opposed either of the
former two, nay, whether he had not given them his cordial
support. We had armed in 1787, to prevent Holland from
falling, by means of a party, into the hands of France. The
event had been decided before the parliament met ; but when
parliament did meet, had he censured the measure or the ob-
ject of it? had lie not frequently ,gone rather out of his way,
to express his approbation of both ? 'We had armed again, in
the course of the preceding year, to obtain satisfaction for an
injury done to British subjects, and for an insult offered to
the British flag. Would the honourable gentleman say, that
he, or his friends, had not cordially concurred in the prin-
ciple on which that armament was undertaken, although
they had desired to know whether proper steps had been taken
to prevent the necessity of it, and expressed their dissatisfac-
tion with the convention to which it led ? This was not all:
there were other objects connected with the armament, on
account of Holland; an alliance with Pntssia, and a subsidiary
treaty with Hesse Cassel. Had they


disapproved of either of
these? The honourable gentleman had said that they would
oppose the present measure, because they knew that, after the
House had been prevented from enquiring into the grounds
of last year's armament, on the plea of confidence in ministers
pending a negotiation, and afterwards into the merits of the
convention, on the plea of confidence after the negotiation


:::et


is oco.ncluded, it could only be approved by those who
thought proper to repose a blind confidence in ministers,
or were led to approve by the partiality of official con-




I 74 ItiNG's MESSAGE RESPECTING THE [March 2o


His surprise at the present measure, if possible, exceeded
his disapprobation. When he heard that things were pro-
Ceeding to the extremity at which they had arrived, he had
lent an unbelieving ear, and contended that such folly, such
madness, was impossible. With such measures confidence
could have nothing to do. Confidence in ministers was, in..
deed, necessary on many occasions ; and for that sort of eon..
fidence, whether in office or out, he had always been an ad--
vocate; but even that necessary confidence was only a neces-
sary evil, and ought, therefore, to be always the least that
the nature of things would admit. No such confidence as
was now solicited had been asked for in the case of Spain.
The injury to be redressed and the insult to be vindicated,
were fairly stated on that occasion ; but, on the present, they
had not come at all to the point. To admit simply, that the
king, by the advice of his ministers, had ordered an arma-
ment, and that the House must pay the expellee, was not in
all the gradations of rational confidence ; and the House of
Commons which entertained the proposition betrayed its duty,
and insulted its constituents.


The right honourable gentleman who moved the address,
had enveloped himself in mystery and importance, but had
explained nothing. His speech resembled the specimen of
the paragraph writer in the play about Russia, Prussia, Tur-
key, and what not, of which the person to whom it was shewn
pronounced that it was well done, for it was finely confused;
and very alarming. The right honourable gentleman's speech
was, indeed, finely confused, but alarming only in point of ex.;
pence. When gentlemen talked of the balance of power as a
reason for arming, they ought to shew how it was endangered.
When they called for supplies to prevent the aggrandisement
of Russia, new as it was to a British House of Commons to
hear the greatness of Russia represented as an object of dread,
they ought to state whom she meant to attack. Was it
Prussia against whom her arms were to be directed? She had
made no attempt as yet, and if it was known that an attack
was meditated, it ought to be fairly laid before the House.
Were the King of Prussia to be attacked, he should feel him-.
self as much bound to support him, as if he had himself con-
cluded the defensive treaty; but not one syllable had been ut-
tered concerning the probability of any such attack, arid
therefore he must presume that none was apprehended.


He would state what the former policy of this country,
with respect to Russia, had been, with a viewsof comparing,
it with the present. Twenty years ago, when war commenced
between- Russia and the Porte, we aided her in sending a
fleet into the Mediterranean, and this support 'of ours gave


1791.] WAR BETWEEN RUSSIA AND THE PORTE. 17S


her the first opportunity of appearing as a naval power in that
part of the globe, and of obtaining an establishment on the
Black Sea. It was evident that we felt no jealousy of her ag-
grandisement at that period. Towards the conclusion of
1 7 82 the empress having previously complained that her pos-
sessions in the Cuban and the Crimea were not sufficiently se-
cure, took them, by a sort of royal syllogism, entirely into
her own hands. His majesty's ministers, on that occasion,
of whom he-had the honour to be one, did not think it ne-
cessary to support Turkey against this assumption. France
and Spain were both alarmed, and proposed to this country
to join in opposing it. The same ministers told them expli-
citly, that they would not accede to any measure of such a
nature. They gave up the point, and the Crimea was for-
mally ceded to Russia by treaty.


Such had been our former conduct towards Russia. What
had it been lately? He spoke from a very general opinion,
although not from direct authority, in saying, that when we
renewed our continental connections, in 1787, Russia was
attacked by the Porte, at the instigation of Great Britain and
Prussia. Now it was said we were bound to see peace re-
stored, without the aggrandisement of Russia, when, if this
story was true, we had been the instigators of the war. If we
were not the instigators, why did we not prevent it if we
thought that we had any concern in its issue ? Would Sir
Robert Ainslie, then our ambassador at Constantinople, say,
that he had been instructed, either with or without the co-
operation of the Prussian minister, to divert the Porte from
attacking Russia? After the war began, we employed our me-
diation, and in all his majesty's speeches to parliament, he
regretted the continuance of the war, on principles of huma-
nity; but always added to his expressions of regret, a political
assurance that no danger was to be apprehended from it to
us. Were he, therefore, to form his opinion, that we had
nothing to apprehend from the war, on the annual commn;
mcations of his majesty to parliament, he should not be ac-
cused of laying a " flattering unction to his soul." What
had since happened to involve us ? Was the success of the
empress's arms so formidable in our eyes, that we must insist
on her renouncing her conquests ? The dispute between her
and us, he believed to be this: she offered to cede all her
Conquests between the Neister and the Danube, and proposed
to retain only those between the Neister and the Bog ; while
we insisted that she should surrender all her conquests without
exception. Such was the proposition which we held to Rus-
ssia;while, in India, we insisted, in our own case, that Tippoo
sultan should, not only make reparation for having cOm-




76 XING'S MESSAGE RESPECTING THE [March 29,


menced, as we said, a war against us, but if our arms were
successful, surrender as much as we could conquer of his ter-
ritories, as a sort of fine for having made an unjust attack.
Was it to be conceived that any sovereign who had spirit to
feel and power to resist, would not spurn with indignation at
the insulting insolence of a proposition so diametrically oppo-
site -to what we claimed for ourselves? We might, indeed,
domineer in the insolence of a momentary power, as Lewis
XIV. bad done, but whether it was in the nature of circum-
stances, or the propensity of mankind to unite against inso-
lence, it had never prospered long in the civilized world, and
he was satisfied, never would prosper.


Our whole ground of quarrel with Russia was, therefore,
the tract of country he had mentioned, unprofitable and worth,-
less to any power, except for a single place contained in it„.:
and this place was Oczakow. Now, had Oczakow been taken
in the present year, as far as its value went, it might have
been said to have produced a change of circumstances; but it
was taken in 1788, and in 1789 his majesty again assured
parliament, after mentioning the war as usual, that the situa-
tion of affairs was such as promised us a continuance of peace,
This was an explicit declaration, of the highest possible autho-
rity, that Oczakow was not thought of such importance then
as to be deemed the object of an armament, and a strong pre-
sumption that it was not the real object of the present arma-
ment. It might be said, that the former conduct of ministers
towards Russia was wrong, and that the present ministers
acted on another system. But was Russia obliged to know
this? Was it her business to enquire what were the opinions
of this lord of the treasury and that secretary of state, or to
look to the general policy and conduct of the country? With
what surprise must she now hear that England, who had
aided her in obtaining an establishment on the Black Sea,
who had enabled her first to enter the Mediterranean, and
who had refused to oppose her in seizing on the Crimea, was
jealous of her power? 4 4 If," she might reasonably observe,
" you were afraid of my conquests, you ought to have pre-
vented my being attacked. Conquest is the necessary conse-
quence of war with my enemy, against whom defensive war
would be ruin." Let not the House attempt to separate effects
from causes, or suppose that a power attacked was not to repel
attack by conquest, if the fortune of war turned in its favour.
In all interferences with foreign nations, justice was the best
foundation of policy, and moderation the surest pledge of
peace. If there was nothing of a vindictive spirit in our
conduct, the honourable gentleman who mentioned it might
as well have , passed it unnoticed. If there was, it applied


1791.] WAR BETWEEN RUSSIA AND THE pORTE.
177


equally to Sweden and to Denmark, for both had acceded to
the armed neutrality. It applied still more to the court of
Berlin ; for the late King of Prussia, it was welt known, had
stirred up that combination. But were the late King of
Prussia now alive, would he, on that account, introduce a
spirit of revenge in his policy towards him ? Undoubtedly
not: it was a principle on which he would never act, and as
much despised in public as in private life. Whatever confi-
dence might be claimed by ministers, none could be clue
where they had betrayed incapacity: and this the present
Ministers had 'done in their continental connections; for they
had not followed up their defensive system with consistency.
In the negociations at Reichenbach, when they found the
emperor disposed to peace, they had neglected the opportu-
nity of engaging the empress by the same arguments which
induced him to consent, and which were then in their power.
They had stimulated Sweden to attack Russia; prevented
Denmark from assisting her; then neglected Sweden, and_
tamely, or ignorantly, suffered an active enemy to be con-
verted into an useful ally. Where was the policy of thus
meddling and retracting? Of the armament against Spain,
it had been said, that we ought not only to look to the south-
west of America, but to the north-east of Europe. If that
armament was equipped with any view to Russia, deceit and
falsehood were practised on the House; but when it was
equipped, it might have been supposed that men's eyes would
not have been so rivettecl to the south-west of America, that
they could see nothing else, or that the minister would not
have been put into such a flutter by his dispute with Spain,
as to be able to attend to nothing else, while that continued.
After it was over, to what purpose did we disarm, if we knew
that we had still an occasion for an armament?


It was common to hear ministers glorying in the situation
of the country, while with an arrogant affectation of mo-
desty, they admitted that many circumstances, in particular:
the state of' France, had contributed to that situation in which
their conduct had no share. The advantages to be derived
from the state of France had been always considered, by every
rational man, to be those of reducing our expences, restoring
our finances, and securing, for a long succession of years, the
Probable continuance of peace. How miserably had we been
disappointed by our own folly By the absurd pride of inter-
fering in the affhirs of every foreign state, we had involved
Ourselves in expellee, and obtained only the hazard of
war. Neither had we been successful in any one instance,
exrceoiLs ,t Its.isat of Holland. We had not lowered ,Aussia; we}lad not raised Sweden; and, between the emperor and his




118 KING'S MESSAGE RESPECTING THE WAR,
&c. [March 29.


Belgic subjects, our interferenc e had been absolutely ridicu-
lous. The allied powers had made certain stipulations with
the emperor in behalf of the provinces ; and when Marshal
Bender was about to enter the Netherlands with an armed
force, their ministers at the Hague wrote to him, that he
ought to stop till certain preliminaries were adjusted. His
answer was a peremptory refusal. They then said, " You
must take the consequences, and we wash our hands of the
business." He disregarded the menace, and took possession
of the provinces, where, as was said, the emperor had shewn
a greater disposition to pardon than to punish; then, those
very ministers came forward, and signed the treaty ; the news
was thought of sufficient importance to be dispatched by Lord
Henry Fitzgerald, and we plumed ourselves on our success
in that which had, in fact, been done without our concur-
rence. If our allies were attacked or threatened, then, in-
deed, the honour of the nation would be concerned to inter-
fere. We had no alliance with Turkey, and were only called
on to gratify the pride of our own ministers, and to second
the ill judgedpolicy of Prussia. How far ministers were
pledged to support that policy, he knew not ; but he knew
that the country was not pledged to support it; and let the
House abide by what ministers had declared, and parliament
sanctioned, but pay no regard to their private engagements.
The conquests of Russia towards the south could never inter-
fere with the commerce of this country, nor give any reason-
able ground of alarm to the King of Prussia, whose interest
it rather was, that her view should be directed to that quarter;
and Oczakow could be no acquisition to Russia, but for the
purposes of defence. An alliance with Russia was the most
natural and the most advantageous that we could enter into;
and when he himself was in office, the empress was well in-
clined to such an alliance; but the healing balm of all our
errors, the hope that our first efforts would effect a peace, was
delusive.


Burke observed, that as it might be the last time that he,
should ever have an opportunity of delivering his sentiments on
a similar question, he could not refrain from offering a few remarks-
to the House. He maintained, that the attempt


to bring the
Turkish empire into the consideration of the balance of power la
Europe was extremely new, and contrary to all forr political
systems. He pointed out in strong terms, the im


me
policy and


danger of our espousing the Ottoman cause. But the questioo
seemed not to be, Whether Russia should or .shouldenot dismember,
the Turkish empire ? It was merely this, whether she should pos'
sess herself of Oczakow or not. When ,the empress consented to
cede all her conquests between the Neister and the Danube, Ole:


14


1791.]


CORN REGULATION BILL. 1.79


we the least expected it, when its effects would be more alarming,
and when another armament would be requisite to repel hei°
threatened vengeance ?


yoke of savage and inhuman infidels. If we acted in this wanton


suppose, that her resentment would burst forth against us, when


balance of power. But what would be the consequence of our in-
terference? We were, it appeared, to plunge ourselves into an
immoderate expenee, in order to bring christian nations under the


manner against the Empress of Russia, might we not reasonably


supposed
to have been formed for the purpose of preserving the


from one in the career of victory. He remarked, that the alliance,
which we had made with Prussia and Holland, was never before


condescended in his idea to do more than could well be expected


The House divided on the address.




Tellers.
Tellers.


YEAS Mr. Steele




Mr. Neville


228.- NOES f Lord North
} 135.Mr. GreySo it was resolved in the affirmative.


CORN REGULATION BILL.


April 4.


TEM House went into a committee on the bill " for regulating
the importation and exportation of corn, and the payment


of the duty on foreign corn imported, and of the bounty on British
corn exported." The clause being read which enacts, that the
ports shall be opened for the importation of foreign corn, when the
price of British corn shall amount to 482. or upwards, Mr. Powys,
Lord Sheffield, and others, contended, that if foreign corn was ad-
nutted to be imported when the price was not at 48$. every en-
couragement would be taken away from tillage. The advantages'
of other countries would soon put an end to our tillage, unless we:had protecting prices, and 523. they conceived to be the- lowest-
which ought to be granted.


Mr. Fox maintained, that arguments from experience were'
to be relied on with the greatest safety, and experieuce war-
ranted a high protecting price; for, from the old practice ofbounties, and under the old laws, the price of wheat had de-
c '"eased, until the bill of 177 3, after which time it increased,
anti the country, instead of exporting, commenced, to a con-con-siderabledegree, the injurious practice of importing corn<
rli s ,he said, who cultivated corn, ought to know, that
should they be peculiarly unfortunate in their crops, the price
w°111(1 rise sufficiently to indemnify them ; and, by such means,


N




o ABOLITION' OF THE SLAVE TRADE. [April 19.


encouragement would be given to tillage, and the poor
ultimately benefited by a greater plenty. The only security
to the poor, he said, was by encouraging the tillage of the
country, and that was alone to be done by granting bounties,
or high protecting prices, which would operate as bounties.
He said, the country was oppressed by tythes, the collection
of which was harsh and injurious, and he anxiously wished
that some gentleman in the House would attempt to relieve
the country from that species of barbarism, and discourage-
ment to every agricultural improvement. He concluded by
saying, that he had no difficulty whatever in giving his vote
for the prohibition of importation, until corn should he at
52S. per quarter.


ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE TRADE.


April 19.


0 early as the 4th of February, Mr. Wilberforce had moved
►,-) for the appointment of a committee to receive and examine
evidence on the propriety of abolishing the slave trade ; which
motion, after a short debate, was put and carried. A consider-
able body of evidence having been thus taken, on the 18th of
April, in a committee of the whole house, Mr. Wilberforce en-
tered into a long and minute discussion of ;he subject. He cont-
inence(' with giving an accurate detail of the unfair manner in
which slaves were obtained on the coast of Africa. He particu-
larized many acts of the most flagrant cruelties; and exposed all
the mean devices and barbarous policy of those unfeeling men
who were concerned in this bloody traffic. Diffbrent tribes of
Indians, he said, were encouraged to make war on each other for
the sake of taking prisoners, and of thus providing the market
with slaves ; the administration of justice in most parts of Africa
was converted into an engine of oppression; and every fraud, every
violence, was practised, that low cunning and brutal ferocity
could suggest. He made a variety of remarks upon their un-
paralleled sufferings under the horrors of the middle passage, and
after their arrival at the destined soil of servitude and wretched-
ness. He next contended, that the abolition of the trade would
not operate to the real detriment of our -West India islands. Ne
observed that, notwithstanding the barbarous treatment, which
the negroes have long experienced, their numbers had not on
the whole decreased, but in some islands had beevelately on the
increase ; whence he argued, that, when the planter should be
deprived of all prospect of a future market, he would be induced
to pay a proper attention to the health, morals, and comfort of


1791.3 ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE TRADE. I 8 r
his slaves, and by thus considerably augmenting not only their
happiness but their numbers, would render continual supplies from
Africa unncecessary. He then proceeded to consider the con-
sequences of the abolition in another point of view, in its probable
effects on the marine. The Guinea trade, instead of being a
nursery for seamen, was, in his idea, their grave. It appearedfrom the Liverpool and Bristol muster-rolls, that in 35o slave-
ships, having on board 12,263 persons, there were lost 2,645 in
twelve months. All attempts to meliorate the condition of the
negroes, without the total abolition of slavery, he considered as
likely to prove inefficacious and unsafe. Their situation, he
thought, could never be much amended by a gradual abolition,
or by any laws of regulation, which the West Indian legislatures
might choose to adopt. The advantages of the trade, in a com-
mercial point of view, he deemed it almost an unbecoming con-
descension to discuss ; but could its advocates prove (what he
knew never could be proved) that it was of considerable impor-
tance to this country, either in its immediate operation, or remote
effects, " still," should he exclaim, " there is a smell of blood,
which all the perfumes of Arabia cannot remove." He concludedby moving, " That the chairman be instructed to bring in a bill to
prevent the farther importation of slaves into the British colonies
in the West Indies."—After the motion had been opposed by Co-lonel Tarleton and Mr. Grosvenor, and supported by Mr. Martin,
Mr. Burdon, and Mr. Francis, Mr. Pitt expressed his wishes for
an opportunity to deliver his sentiments fully, which he feared it
was impossible to do that night ; he would, therefbre, with the
consent of the House, move that the chairman do now leave the
chair, with a view of resuming the subject on the very next clay,
meaning to put off the orders of that clay until the day after.
—Colonel Tarleton said, that it was his earnest desire to have
the question settled without any delay whatever ; and as the
House was then extremely full, and there were many gentlemen
who, to his knowledge, were going next day out of town, he
should resist the motion of adjournment. Colonel Phipps said,
that though he agreed with the honourable gentlemen in opposing
the abolition of the slave trade, yet he could not agree in opposing


conduct.
Mr.of adjournment ; for he wished to have an opportunity


of declaring what were those reasons which would decide his


adjMr. Fox observed, that although the opposition to anyournment was undoubtedly uncandid and unbecoming, yet
lie thought that the honourable colonel who pressed for an im-
mediate division understood better the interest of his own
side of the question than the other honourable gentleman ;
for Mr. Fox said he had ever conceived that the only way
by which the abolition of the slave trade could be prevented,
Must be by stifling all inquiry, and by hurrying the House
i» to some vote, which might seem to decide the question,b
efore the opportunity of any real debate upon the principles


N 3




82 ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE TRADE. [April r9.


of the trade was afforded. It was a trade which, the gentle-
men themselves well knew, would not bear to be discussed.
Let there be discussion, and although there were sonic
symptoms of pre-determination in some gentlemen, the abo-
lition of the abominable traffic must be carried. He would
not believe that there could be found in the House of
Commons, men of such hard hearts, and of such inaccessible
understandings, as to vote an assent to the continuance of the
trade, and then go home to their houses, their friends, and
their families, satisfied with their vote, after being made fully
aware of what they were doing, by having opened their ears
to the discussion.


The question of adjournment was carried, and on the following
day, the debate upon Mr. Wilberforce's motion was resumed. It
was opposed by Sir William Young, Mr. Stanley, Mr. Cawthorne,
Colonel Phipps, Mr. Alderman Watson, Major Scott, Mr. Drake,
and Lord Sheffield; and supported by Mr. Montagu, Lord
John Russel, Mr. William Smith, Mr. Courtenay, Lord Carysfort,
Mr. Pitt, and Mr. Fox.


Mr. Fox observed, that some expressions which he had
used on the preceding day, had been complained of, as too
harsh and severe. He had now had four-and-twenty hours to
reflect on his words ; he had revolved them over and over
again in his mind, but he could not prevail on himself to re-
tract them; because the more lie considered the subject in
discussion, the more did he believe that if, after reading all
the evidence on the table, and attending to the debate, any
gentleman could continue to oppose the abolition of the slave
trade, and could thus avow himself, after a full knowledge of
the subject, an abettor of this shameful traffic in human flesh,
it could only be from some hardness of heart, or some such
difficulty of understanding as he really knew not how to ac-
count for.


Several gentlemen had considered this question, as a ques-
tion of political freedom whereas it was no such thing. No
man would suspect him of being an enemy to political freedom;
his sentiments were too well known to leave him subject
to such a suspicion. But this was a question not of political,
but of personal freedom. Political freedom was undoubtedly
as great a blessing as any people under Heaven — con-
sidered collectively as a people—could pant after, or seek
to possess ; but political freedom, when it came to be cow,
pared with personal freedom, sank to notlfing, and became
no blessing at all in comparison. To confound these two,
served, therefore, only to render all argument on either per


-plexing and unintelligible. It was personal freedom that WaS


1791.7 ABOLITION OP THE SLAVE TRADE. 183


now the point in question. Personal freedom must be the
first object of every human being; and it was a right, of which
he who deprives a fellow-creature is absolutely criminal in so
depriving him, and which he who withholds, when it is in his
power to restore, is no less criminal in withholding. Mr.
Fox therefore declared that, though he professed great re-
gard for an honourable friend who had complained of his
words, and for a noble lord who sat near him, (Lord John
Russel,) yet unless they endeavoured, zealously and sincerely,
to put an end to so horrid a violation of personal freedom, as
the African slave-trade most undoubtedly was, however it
might hurt those for whom he felt an affection and respect,
yet he could not so far compliment them as to retract his
words, or to neglect speaking in the manner which his duty
required, upon a subject so serious as the present.


The House being now apprised of the nature of this trade,
having received evidence, having had the facts undeniably
established, knowing, in short, what the slave trade was, he
declared, that if they did not, by the vote of that night,
mark to all mankind their abhorrence of a practice so enor-
mous, so savage, so repugnant to all laws, human and divine, it
would be more scandalous, and more defaming in the eyes of
the country and of the world, than any vote which any House
of Commons had ever given. He desired them seriously
to reflect, before they gave their votes, what they were about
to do that evening. If they voted that the slave trade should
not be abolished, they would, by their vote that ohtni (rive a0 ,
parliamentary sanction to rapine, robbery, and murder; for a
system of rapine, robbery, and murder, the slave trade had
now most clearly been proved to be.


Every gentleman who had perused the examination of the
witnesses, upon the table, must acknowledge that he had not
used one word too strong. He had read the privy council's
report some time ago ; but owned that it was but lately that
he had turned his attention to the evidence since taken before
the select committee; and he regretted that he had hot done
it sooner; for the facts he there found were such as proved the
absolute necessity, on every consideration of morality andjustice, of putting an end to a practice so pregnant with cir.
curnstances of terror and alarm to this country.


That the pretence of danger to our \Vest India islands from
the abolition was totally unfounded, the speech of the honour-
able gentleman who introduced the motion had fully con-
vinced him; but if it had not, the speech of the right honour-
able the chancellor of the exchequer, in which speech he had,iIi


so masterly a manner, established that point, must have
given him complete satisfaction. If there was any thing for


N 4




1 84 ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE TRADE. [April 19,


him at all to find fruit with in the right honourable gentle-
man's speech, he should say, that it could only be his dwelling
so much on that part of the subject, and bestowing so much
eloquence and ability on it; so as to give an air of more im-
portance to the pretexts of the other side than they at all de-
served ; thus, drawing the attention of the committee from
the justice of the question,—which was a thing of infinitely
greater magnitude.


It had been-shown, on a comparison of the deaths and
births in Jamaica, that there was not now any decrease; but
if there had been, it would have made no difference in his
conduct on the subject : for had the mortality been ever so
great, he should have ascribed it entirely to the system of im-
porting negroes, instead of encouraging the breed. If any
man were to tell him of a country ix which, though horses
were used, yet very few were bred, this would not induce him
to suppose there was any unfriendliness in the climate of that
country to the natural propagation of horses, but merely to
its being found cheaper by the inhabitants to buy horses than
to breed them. It- was not his fault, Mr. Fox said, that he
was reduced to the degrading necessity of speaking of human
beings as if they were horses.


But what he urged in the case of horses was evidently the
case with slaves in the West Indies. The climate was de-
clared to be remarkably congenial to them, and to be just
like their own. This had been actually pleaded—with a dif-
ferent view, indeed—in favour of the slave trade. Then why
should they not breed? It was merely because the West India
planters thought it more convenient, more agreeable to them,
or more cheap, to buy them fit for work than to breed them:
it was because the planters did not clime to treat them with
that attention and humanity which would ensure their breed-
ing. What, then, was the purpose for which this accursed
and horrid traffic in human creatures was desired to be kept
up ? The purpose was this—in order to give the planters
the opportunity of destroying the negroes on their estates, as
fast as they pleased. The plea on which the slave trade to
Africa was to be kept up—if the mortality in the islands was
the plea—could only be in order to indulge the planters in
the liberty of misusing their slaves, so as to check propaga-
tion; for it was from ill usage only that, in a climate so natu-


ral to them and so favourable, their numbers could ever di-
minish. Mr. Fox stated, therefore, that if the mortality in
the West Indies were ten times greater than itivas, this would
only be a ten times stronger reason for forbidding the impor


-tation of slaves. It would only argue ten times more1
usage than now prevailed, and parliament would be so innell


1791'3


ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE TRADE.
185


the more loudly called upon to put an end to a system so de-
structive of human life.


The very ground, therefore, on which the planters rested
the necessity of fresh importations, namely, the destruction
of lives in the West Indies, was itself the strongest reason that
could possibly be given for the abolition of the trade, and
the more strongly they chose to urge the more strongly should
he argue from it the necessity of the present measure, and the
serious need there was of a parliamentary interference. He
observed, also, that if any thing could aggravate the national
cunt of the slave trade on the coast of Africa, it was this same
dreadful argument of its being necessary in order to replace
the lives destroyed by our inhuman system of treating them
in the West Indies.


Mr. Fox next adverted to some instances of cruelty which
had been mentioned, and which appeared in actual evidence.
He thought that an honourable gentleman (Mr. William
Smith) who had spoken with much sound argument and
manly sense, had done well to introduce those stories which
had made such an impression on the House, that he could
scarcely bear to be present when such horrid tales were even
related. But, had the truth of any one of them been contro-
verted? An honourable gentleman (Mr. Cawthorne), by way
of discrediting the account given of the African captain's
cruelty to the child ten months old, could only say that it
was too bad to be true, and that it was impossible : and, in
order to discredit the witness, had bid them look to his cross
examination. The honourable gentleman, however, had de-
clined turning to the cross examination, the whole of which,
Mr. Fox desired the House to observe, amounted to this:
that when pressed, in the closest and strictest manner, by
some able persons of that House, the only inconsistency they
could fix upon him, was a doubt whether the fact had hap-
peded on the same day, of the same month, of the year 1764
or the year 1765.


He observed, that absolute power was not denied to be ex-
ercised by the slave captains, and, if this were granted, such
was human nature, that he was persuaded all the cruelties
charged upon them would naturally follow. He also remarked,
that nothing less than complete arbitrary power was exer-
cised over the slaves in the West Indies, and he spoke of the
abuse of it, which there, as well as every where else, must be
the consequence. Never did he hear of any charges exhi-
bited against any set of men, before any court or legislature,
of so black and horrible a nature, as those contained in the
evidence now on the table; and it became those who laboured




8 6 ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE TRADE.
[April 19.


under them to come forward to vindicate their characters to
their country.


Many, in short, were the instances of cruelty to which this
trade gave rise. It was a scene of such iniquity and oppres-
sion, in every one of its stages, that if the House, with all
their present knowledge of the circumstances, should dare to
vote for its continuance, they must have nerves of which he
had no conception. We might find instances, indeed, in an-
cient history, of men violating all the feelings of nature in
some cases of an extraordinary kind. Fathers have sacrificed
their sons and daughters, and husbands their wives ; but if we
were to do violence to the feelings of humanity, and, in this
respect, to imitate their characters, we might not only to
have nerves as strong as the two Brutuses, but we ought
also to take care that we had a cause as good, and that we
had motives for such a dereliction of our feelings as patriotic
and public spirited as they had.


But what was this trade so contended for, this wholesale
sacrifice of a whole order and race of our fellow creatures,
which, in violence to all our feelings, we were asked to vote
the continuance of? It was a traffic for human beings, who
were to be carried away by force, from their native country,
to be subjected to the mere will and caprice, the tyranny and
oppression of other human beings, for their whole natural.
lives, they and their posterity for ever !


Mr. Fox then entered into some account of the trade, tracing.
it from its first scenes in Africa, through the middle passage,
to its conclusion. It was impossible, he said, to consider it in
the light of any natural or ordinary commerce. It was on
the first view obvious, that there could not be a multitude of
human beings, at all times, ready to be furnished, in the way
of fair articles of commerce, just as our commerce, just as our
occasion might require. The argument urged by the right
honourable the chancellor of the exchequer upon this head
was perfectly unanswerable. Our demand was fluctuating, it.
entirely ceased at some times, nay, for whole years together,
as was the case during the last war; sometimes, again, a de-
mand for slaves was great and pressing. How, then, was it
possible, on every sudden call, to furnish a sufficient return in
slaves, without resorting to those means of obtaining them
which had been mentioned, and the very mention of which
was sufficient to strike us with horror ? He observed there
had been three means stated, of procuring slaves ; namely,
those of war, trade, and crimes supposed to te committed,
each of which he would now a little examine the justice of.


Captives in war, it was urged, were in uncivilized countries
commonly doomed to slavery. This, however, was false in


1


1791'1 ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE TRADE. 1 87


point of fact; and it was so far from being the case in Europe,
that it was become a custom, founded on the wisest policy,
to pay the captives a peculiar respect and civility. Ought we
not to inculcate the same principles in Africa? So far from
it, we encouraged wars for the sake of taking, not the man's
goods and possessions, but the man himself; and it was not
the war that was the cause of the slave trade, but the slave
trade that was the cause of the war. The practice was, as
appeared in evidence, for the slave merchants to carry pre-
sents, consisting commonly of spirits, to the African kings,
and when intoxicated with them, then it was that the royal
prerogative of making war was exercised. An instance was
mentioned in evidence, of an African prince, who, when sober,
had resisted the wishes of the slave merchants; but who, in the
moment of inebriety, gave the word for war, attacked the
next village, inhabited by his own subjects, carried them all
off, and sold them to the slave merchants.


After dwelling on the enormity of the system of making
war in Africa, which was one source of obtaining slaves, he
came next to the second way of procuring them, namely, that
of trade. This, he said, was proved by the most undeni-
able evidence to be little more nor less than a most shameful
and unrestrained system of kidnapping. He referred the
House to various instances of this. He mentioned one
case, in which the agent of the merchants affected to act as
mediator between two contending parties, who, if he might
be allowed to use a pun on so melancholy an occasion, cer-
tainly brought the two parties together, fin- he brought them
tied back to back to one another, and hurried them both on
board a slave ship. There was another instance of a consider..
able black slave merchant, who, after having sold a girl whom
he had kidnapped, was presently after kidnapped and can-
ned away himself: and when he asked the African captain,
in his strange language, " What, take me grand trader too ?"
the only answer was, " .Yes, we will take you, or her, or any
one else, provided any body will sell you to us." And ac-
cordingly both the trader and the child were carried off to-
gether to the West Indies.


Mr. Fox then adverted to the third mode of obtaining
slaves ; namely, by crimes committed, or supposed to be com-
mitted. This had been stated in such a way, that one would
think the slave trade was kept up by us, on a sort of friendly
principle, and as a necessary part of the police of that country.
It was remarkable, that two of the chief crimes, which pro-
duced convictions, were adultery and witchcraft. Was adul-
tery, then, a crime which we need go to Africa to punish ?
Was this the way we took to establish the purity of our na-




1 8 8 ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE TRADE. [April 19.


tional character ? Where marriage was solemnly instituted,
as a religious rite, as it was in this civilised country, he
should be sorry to speak lightly of the crime of adultery.
But, was Africa the place where Englishmen, above all men,
ought to go in search of adulterers ? Did it become us, to use
our Saviour's expression, " to cast the first stone?" It was
a most extraordinary pilgrimage, for a most extraordinary
purpose ! And, yet, this was one of the chief crimes by which,
in this civilized country, we justified our right of carrying off
its inhabitants into perpetual slavery, in the West Indies.
The next crime to this was the supposed one of witchcraft.
We ourselves, more enlightened than they, were aware that
the crime did not really exist; but, instead of humanely try-
ing to dispel their blindness and ignorance, we rather chose,
for the sake of the slave trade, to lend ourselves to their su-
perstition, and become the instruments of their blind ven-
geance. We stood by, we heard the trial, we knew the crime
to be impossible, and that the accused must be innocent ; but
we waited in patient silence for his condemnation, and then
we lent our friendly aid to the police of the country, by buying
the wretched convict, with all his family, whom, for the be-
nefit of Africa, we carried away also into perpetual slavery.


Having spoken of the three ways of obtaining slaves,
Mr. Fox proceeded to the manner of their transportation.
He knew not how to give the House a more correct idea of
all the horrors of their situation, when on board, than by re-
ferring them to the section of a slave ship, where the eye
might sec what the tongue must fail short in describing.
Here he enlarged on the effects of despotic power, in the case
of captains of slave ships, and on the strange instances of
cruelty, proved. in evidence, to have been perpetrated. They
had been thought, by some persons, to be so extravagant,
that the term of insanity had been used ; and, indeed, they
were unaccountable, except on the principle, that despotic
power by long use is apt to produce acts of cruelty so enor-
mous, that they have been known frequently to assume the
appearance of insanity. Among European sovereigns, indeed,
the mild influence of religion, philosophy, and the modern
limitations of power, lied rendered acts of despotism and
cruelty far from common ; but, among the Emperors of
Rome, how many were there who, by the unrestrained use of
their power, became so cruel as to be suspected of occasional
insanity, just as many masters of slave ships had been. Who
was there that ever read in the Roman history tile facts re-
corded of Nero, without suspecting he was mad? Who
would not be apt to impute insanity to that monster Caligula?
Who would not think the same of Domitian? Who would


1791.] ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE TRADE. 1 89


hesitate to pronounce Caracalla. insane ? -Who-could other-
wise account for the vices of Commodus ? Or who could not
doubt that Heliogabalus was out of his senses ? Here were
sig. Roman emperors, not connected in blood, or by descent,
who each of them possessing uncontrolled power, bad been so
distinguished for cruelty, that nothing short of insanity
could well be imputed to them. He then asked, whether the
insanity of the masters of slave ships might not be supected
to be something of the same species, 'and might not be ac-
counted for upon much the same principles ?


Mr. Fox then proceeded to the situation of the slaves,
when brought to the West Indies. It had been said, indeed,
that they were taken from a worse state, to a better. The
House, he knew, could not wish to hear recitals of cruelty,
nor did he like to dwell upon them. It was their duty, how-
ever, in the present case, to open their ears to them, and the
House, exclaimed Mr. Fox, shall hear them. An honour-
able gentleman before him had quoted some instances, and
he would now quote two more. The first was in a French
island; but was declared by witnesses of unimpeachable
credit. A slave, under hard usage, urged by the first im-
pulse of nature, had run away, and attempted to get his
liberty. To prevent his repeating the offence, the planter
sent for his surgeon, and said to him, " Cut off' this man's
leg." The surgeon, who had more humanity than his master,
refused. " Yon refuse," said the planter, " then what you
decline, as an act of friendship to me, I will compel you to do,
as an act of duty." Upon this, the planter broke the poor
man's leg. " There now," said he to the surgeon, "you must
cut off his leg, or the man will die." We might console our-
selves, perhaps, that this was in a French island, but in the
English there was no great difference ; and the next instance
he should state was in an island of our own. A gentleman
(Mr. Ross, as appeared in evidence,) while he was walking
along, heard the shrieks of a female, issuing from a barn or
outhouse; and as they were much too violent to be excited by
any ordinary punishment, lie was prompted to go near, and
sec what could be the matter. On looking in, he perceived a
young female, tied up to a beam by her wrists, entirely naked,
and in the act of involuntarily writhing and 'swinging, while
the author of her torture was standing below her, with a lighted
torch in his hand, which he applied to all the parts of her
body, as it approached him. What crime this miserable
Wretch had perpetrated, he knew not; but that was of little
consequence, as the human mind could not conceive a crime,
in any degree, warranting such a punishment.




190 ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE TRADE. [April 19
By the manner in which the House received this storv,


Mr. Fox observed to them, that he saw the tale was so 114_
rid, that they could not listen to it without shrinking. Will
the House, then, said he, sanction enormities, the bare recital -
of which was sufficient to make them shudder? Let them re-
member that humanity consisted not in a squeamish ear. rt
consisted not in starting or shrinking at such talcs as these,
but in a disposition of heart to relieve misery, and to prevent
the repetition of cruelty. Humanity appertained rather to
the mind than to the nerves ; and it would prompt men to
use real and disinterested endeavours to give happiness to
their fellow creatures. Here, in England, such was our in-
dignation at every act of injustice, that a highwayman, a
pickpocket, or even a pilferer, was, by law, condemned to
death; so jealous were we in cases where our own property
was concerned ! But we permitted to go unpunished crimes
committed in consequence of the slave trade, in comparison
with which the criminal practices of England were innocence
itself. What was the consequence of this ? We Unsettled the
principles of justice in the minds of men, and we deprived
the legislature of that strong influence which it ought to de-
rive from its known integrity, and from its uniform consis-
tency of conduct. It was' as important, therefore, in sound
policy, as it was in point ofjustice and honour, to abolish a
trade which discredited our morals and police at home, as
well as our national character abroad. For what could any
foreigner think, either of our justice or consistency, who
should see a man that had picked a pocket going to he hanged
for the crime, while all the enormities which had been per-
petrated in Africa, and all the other cruelties now in evidence
before the House, were known not only to pass off with im-
punity, but the continuance of th'en*to be permitted by a vote
of the British parliament?


It was said, however, that the Africans were less happy at
home than in the islands, and that we were therefore justified
in carrying them away. But what right had•we to be the
judges of this, or to force upon than a new condition ?
" However unhappy in your opinion," they might say to us
" yet we wish for the comforts that surround us, the social
relations of life, the liberty of our native, though uncultivated,
plains ; and you have no right to change, nay, even to better,
our condition." But it was ridiculous to plead that we bet-
tered their condition, when we dragged them from every thing
that was dear in life, and reduced them to the mo§feabject state
of slavery


One argument, indeed, had been used by an honourable
alderman, in the way of commercial policy, 'which, for a


1791'1 ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE
TRADE. 191


Subject so grave, was rather too ridiculous. The slave trade,
said the honourable alderman, was necessary, on account of
the support it gave to our fisheries, for that the Newfound-
land trade depended on the slaves, for the consumption of a
vast quantity of refuse fish, for which there would otherwise
be no vent. 'What was this- but to say, that the slave trade
must be kept up, with all its enormities, in order that there
alight be persons to eat up the refuse fish which was too bad
for any body else to eat !


It had been said, dint England ought not to abolish the
trade, unless France, Spain, and Holland would also give it
up. But, if it was a trade founded in violence and injustice,
Great Britain ought to wash her hands of it at any rate; nor
was the practice of other countries any thing at all to the
question. It was as if a person addicted to felony, but now•
conscious of his past guilt, should say, " There is a man,
now, whom I have an opportunity of robbing on the high-
way; I am extremely sorry to do it, for I am become fully
sensible of the guilt, but I know that if I should not rob him,
there is another highwayman, half a mile farther on the
road, who certainly will, and thus he will get the man's
purse instead of myself." Mere gain was not a motive for a
great country to rest on, as a justification of any measure :
it was not the first purpose of a ,well regulated government :
h omu.ino r was its superior, as much as justice was superior to
ono r.


With regard to the emancipation of the negroes already in
slavery, his own doubts of the efficacy of an act of the British
legislature for this purpose was a reason for not entering into
it. He himself did not think such a measure could be sud-
denly ventured upon ; and though every man bad a right to
freedom, yet it should be observed, that men inured to
slavery all their lives felt certainly less degraded by it than
those who were born to independence. It might be dangerous
to give freedom at once to a man used to slavery, on the same
ground as, in the case of a man who had never seen daylight,
there might be danger of blinding him, if you were to expose.
him all at once to the glare of the sun.


Mr. Fox condemned the arrogance of the ,notion, that all
the inhabitants of Africa had minds inferior to ourselveS.
How did we know that such was the case? Why might there


•not be men in Africa of as: fine feelings as ourselves, of as
enlarged understandings, and as manly in their minds as any
of tis? He then mentioned the case of an African captain,
who heard in the night some violent groanings, which had
Caused a disturbance in his ship. There was among his slaves
me person of considerable consequence, a man once high in.




192 ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE TRADE. [April 19,
military station, with a mind not insensible to the eminence
of his rank, who having been taken captive in battle, was
sold to the slave ships, and laid promiscuously with the rest,
Happening in the night to obtain room to stretch his wears
limbs, at rather more ease than usual, he had fallen fast
asleep, and he dreamt that he was in his own country, high
in honour and in command, caressed by his family and his
friends, waited on by his domestics, and surrounded with all
his former comforts in life; when, awaking somewhat sud.
denly, he found himself fastened down in the hold of a slave
ship, and was heard to burst into loud groans and lamenta-
tions on the miserable contrast of his present state, mixed with
the meanest of his subjects, and subjected to the insolence
of wretches, a thousand times lower than himself, in every
kind of endowment ! Mr. Fox appealed to the House,
whether this was not as moving a picture of the miserable
effects of the slave trade, as any that could be imagined.
There was one way, and it was an extremely good one, by
which any man might come to a judgment on theses points
—let him make the case his own. What, said he, should any
one of us, who are members of this House, say, and how should
we feel, if conquered and carried away by a tribe as savage
as our countrymen on the coast of Africa shew themselves to
be? How should we brook the same indignities, or bear the
same treatment ourselves, which we do not scruple to inflict
on them ?


Having made this appeal to the feelings of the House,
Mr. Fox proceeded to observe, that great stress had been
laid on the countenance that was given to slavery by the
Christian religion. So far was this from being true, that he
thought one of the most splendid triumphs of Christianity was,
its having caused slavery to be so generally abolished, as soon
as ever it appeared in the world. One obvious ground on
which it did this, was by teaching us, that in the sight of
Heaven all mankind are equal. The same effect might be
expected also from the general principles which it taught.
Its powerful influence appeared to have done more in this
respect than all the ancient systems of philosophy ; though
even in them, in point of theory, we might trace great libe-
rality and consideration for human rights. Where could be
found finer sentiments of liberty, than in the works of
Demosthenes and Cicero ? Where should we meet with
bolder assertions of the rights of mankind, and the dignity of
human nature, than in the historians Tacitus and Thucydides?
It was remarkable, however, that these great nten kept slaves
in their houses, and permitted a whole order of slaves to exist


I %91.] ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE TRADE. 193
in their country. He knew, indeed, that what he had been
ascribing to Christianity some imputed to the advances
which philosophy had made. Each of the two parties took
the merit to itself: the divine gave it to religion, the philo-
sopher to philosophy. He should not dispute with either of
them; but as both coveted the praise, why should they not
emulate each other, in promoting this improvement in the con-
dition of the human race ?


Mr. Fox, having drawn his argument on the general ques-
tion, to a conclusion, wished, he said, to give an answer to
an honourable baronet over the way (Sir Archibald Edmond-
stone) who had asked, what was meant to be done by the
honourable mover, if the present question for leave to bring
in a bill should be carried ? Mr. Fox said, that he conceived
the intention of the honourable mover undoubtedly was,. to
bring in a bill for abolishing the slave trade immediately; but
that the finl' s of the House made it necessary that the time
should be left in blank, and that the blank might be filled
up, by naming any period of one, two, three, or bur years,
as the House might think expedient ; so that there was no
reason why the honourable baronet, or any other gentleman,
who objected to so immediate an abolition, should not, in this
instance, vote with him. Mr. Fox paid some compliments to
the honourable gentleman who introduced the motion, saying,
that he had fully intended to make a motion, tar leave to
bring in a bill of the same nature; but that he was extremely
happy it had fallen into better hands. He declared, that the
whole country, and, indeed, the whole civilized world, must
rejoice, that such a bill had been moved for, not merely as a
matter of humanity, but as au act of justice, and nothing
else: for he would put humanity wholly out of the case. He
asked, could it be called humanity to forbear from committing
murder ? Exactly upon this ground did the present motion
stand, being strictly a question of national justice. Mr. Fox
observed, that it could not be supposed that he had been
induced on the present occasion, to lend his assistance by
any personal considerations, and he assured the friends to


cause.


As




that, in whatever situation he might be placed
his warmest efforts should be used in promoting this great


soon as Mr. Fox had satuitown, Mr. Stanley said, that he
came to the House purposing to vote against the abolition, but
that the impression made both on his understanding and his feel-
ings, was such as he could not resist ; and he was now convinced,
that an entire abolition of the slave trade was called for equally


VOL. IV.




194 WAR WITH III:SSI — FRENCH REVOLUTION. [April I s.


by sound policy and justice. The honourable Mr. Ryder (the
present Earl of Harrowby) said he came to the House not ex,
actly in the circumstances of the honourable gentleman who had
just spoken, but very much undecided on the subject; he, however,
was so strongly convinced by the arguments lie had heard, that
he was become equally earnest for the abolition. Mr. Burke ob.
served, that he had, for a long time, had his mind drawn to the
slave trade ; that he had even prepared some measures for its re.
gulations, conceiving the immediate abolition of it, though highly
desirable, to he then hardly a thing which could be hoped for;
but when he found the honourable mover was bringing forward
the present question ; which he approved much more than has own,
he had burnt his paper, and made an offering of' them, in honour
of the proposition of the honourable gentleman, much in the same
manner as we read that the curious books were - offered up and
burnt at the approach of the gospel. He rejoiced at the sub.
mission to reason and argument which gentlemen, who came in
with minds somewhat prejudiced, had avowed on that day. They
thereby told their constituents, as they ought to tell them, that it
was impossible for them, if sent to hear discussion in the House of
Commons, to avoid surrendering up their hearts and judgments to
the cause in question, however they might have been taught before-
hand to come prejudiced against it.


The committee divided on Mr. Wilberforce's motion: Yeas 163:
Noes 88. Majority against the abolition of the slave trade 75.


WAR WITH RUSSIA--FRENCH REVOLUTION.


April r s.


rf'HE opposition having divided, on the z9th of March, in such
-I considerable numbers upon the king's message respecting


the war with Russia, Mr. Grey, on the szth April, moved the fol-
lowing resolutions : " I. That it is, at all times, and particularly
under the present circumstances, the interest of this country to
preserve peace. 2. That it is neither reasonable nor just to take
up arms, for the purpose of dictating terms . ofpeace between nations
engaged in hostilities, without any reference either to the cause
of the disputes, or the circumstances of the war. 3 . That the
refusal of an offer of mediation, is no just cause of war. 4. Tiva;
during the progress of the war between Russia and the Porte, arla,
since the taking of Oczakow, this House has received repeatea
assurances from the throne,. that the situation of affairs continued
to promise to this country the uninterrupted enjoyment of the
blessings of peace. 5. That, convinced of the truth of the as:
surances which we have received from the throne, this House he'
hitherto considered the interests of Great Britain as not likely i°


T791.] WAR WITH


—FRENCH REVOLUTION.
195


be affected by the progress or the Russian arms on the borders of
the Black Sea. 6. That this country is not bound by any treaty
to furnish assistance to any of its allies, except in the case of an
attack upon them. 7. That none of the possessions of' this country,
or of any of its allies, appear to be threatened with an hostile
attack from any foreign nation. 8. That the expellee of an ar-
mament must be burdensome to the country, and is, under the
present circumstances, as far as this House is informed, highly in-p
expedient and unnecessary." The motion was lost by a majority
of only 80. The diminution of the minister's majority upon this
division occasioned another discussion of the same subject on the
15 th, when Mr. Baker moved, " I. That it is at all times the right
and duty of this House, before they consent to lay any new bur-
diens On their constituents, to enquire into the justice and necessity
of the objects in the prosecution of which such borders are to be
incurred. 2. That no information has been given to this House,
which can satisfy us that the expenses to be incurred by the pre-
sent armament are necessary to sopport the interests of these king-
doms, or will contribute to the great and important object of re-
storing the tranquillity of Europe on a secure and lasting founda-
tion." The motion was principally supported by Mr. St. John,
Mr. Anstruther, Mr. Martin, Lord Fielding, Sir James Erskine,.
and Mr. Windham ; and opposed by Mr. Pole Carew, Mr. Cocks,
Mr. Elliot, Mr. Yorke; Mr. Grant, and by Mr. Pitt, who observed,.
that notwithstanding the many calls which had been made, .Upon
him, and the many harsh epithets which had been applied to his
silence, his sense of duty to his sovereign and his country should
still remain the rule of his conduct. He meant, therefore, to enter
into no detail of the pending negotiation ; to offer no explanation
inconsistent with his official duties. He contended, that sufficient
information had been given for the simple act of' voting the ar-
mament, his majesty having expressly stated in the message, that
such a measure was necessary to give effect to the negotiations,
in which he was engaged, for laying the foundation of a solid and
lasting peace. He confessed, however, that the House was not
pledged to support a war without farther explanation. The House
might give confidence to the servants of the crown, pending a
negoeiatione but that was substantially different from pledging
itself to support a war, should the negotiation prove unsuccessful.
That, which was a sufficient cause for an armament, might not be
a sufficient cause for a war.


Mr. Fox concluded the debate. He began with remark-
ing, that so long as he retained a regard for the constitution,
a zealous attachment to the welfare of the people, and a true
sense of his duty to the House, he should rise for the pur-
pose of resisting such strange and unwarrantable doctrines as
those which had been advanced on a question of the highest
political and constitutional importance, involving no less than
whether this was a mixed government, or whether the whole
power of it was vested in the king. If' it was such as the


0 2




196 wax. WITH RUSSIA —FRENCH REVOLUTION. [April is.
friends of, the minister had contended, the House had given
up all its deliberative, and reserved 'only its inquisitorial
power; and the members, instead of meeting day after day,
had much better appoint one day in the year for a general
inquest, and give the minister implicit confidence for the
rest. They had been asked, if they would take the whole
negociation into their own hands. They had never pretended
that they would. There was a clear distinction between the
object of a negociation, and the means employed to obtain
it. Of the former, they claimed an indisputable right to
judge, and the latter they confided to the executive power.
He was not fond of stating general propositions, without any
exception; but he could hardly conceive a case in which the
king might arm at the expellee of the people, without inflam-
ing them of the object. In the case of Spain, which was
an armament to give weight to negociation, the object was
clearly and distinctly stated. Here, in snight of its general
notoriety, it was studiously endeavoured to be concealed.
It was the prerogative of the crown to make war, but a
prerogative not to be trusted for a moment, without its
corrective — the right of the commons to refuse the sup-
plies. Ministers now came to the House, and demanded
money without any explanation, so that what was admitted
to be the undoubted right of the House was to be exercised
without knowledge, and consequently without judgment ;
but. with regard to the exercise of the king's prerogative,
the declaring of war, they were to have every possible
information.


Of the personal or ministerial confidence, of which gen-
tlemen had talked so much, the right honourable the chan-
cellor of the exchequer had no title to either. He had given
proofs of incapacity, and he had deceived the House. The
constitution knew no such thing as confidence. The king's
right to declare war, and the right of the Bouse to withhold
supplies, were both absolute. He would give confidence
for an armament for a short time, and that for the purpose
of defence only; and when he agreed to keeping in corn-
mission an additional number of ships, on being told that the
state of Europe required it, he should have spurned at the
idea, had he been apprised that they were kept up for the
purpose of offence. In the present case, too much was dis-
closed for confidence, and too little for conviction. If the


-armament was formed on the most absurd grounds, as he
and all the country believed it was, he shouqbe glad to hear
from those who talked of responsibility as The guardian of
confidence, how an article of impeachment could be drawn
against the minister for bringing down a message from the


179 1.1 WAR WITH RUSSIA FRENCH REVOLUTION.
1 97


king, and moving an address. On the declaration of war,
l ie would take the opinion of the House; and as he was not
impeachable in the one case, he .would be screened by the
concurrence of the House in the other. He would say, how
is that criminal in me which you agreed to support? The
House, not a fortnight since, had rashly promised to support
all armament, in other words, an armament whenever his
majesty's ministers should think proper, and they were told
that any proposition to undo what they had done was too
late, unless the minister came again to demand the supplies.


The resolution, the friends of the minister objected, was
meant to put an end to the war. Undoubtedly it was, though
it was rather singular that they should own this, when they
knew that it was only an enquiry into the expediency of it.
It was, indeed, a bad sign, when the advocates of a measure
were compelled to allow, that to enquire into the expediency,
and to put an end to it, were one and the same thing. They
said the House must enquire into the whole of the negocia-
lion, or into no part of it; but to what purpose examine
the means, when even the object was withheld? This could
not be disclosed to the public, pending the negociation,
and in the mean time the public money was spent, in pur-
suit of an object of which the public had no knowledge.
To admit a case, for the sake of argument, when ail the
world knew that the case admitted was the real case, was
a solemn farce, a miserable attempt to deceive. On what
principle were five hundred and fifty-eight gentlemen, because
they happened to be assembled in a house of parliament,
to pretend ignorance of what all the foreign gazettes and
all the memorials could inform them of— of what was known
beyond dispute two months ago — that the empress de-
mended, of all her conquests, to retain only the fortress of
Oczakow, and the country from the Bog to the Neister?
That the moderation of this demand arose from our ar-
mament, was completely and morally impossible, for it had
been made before the armament was heard of. With regard
to what she might demand, were we to disarm, there was
only one argument to which he could not reply, and mi-
nisters should not tell him that they had used her so ill,
that she would listen to no terms whatsoever. If we sent a.
fleet into the Baltic, alarmed and insulted her coasts, which
was all, he believed, we could do; if we spewed our teeth,
and our inclination to do mischief; then, indeed, she might
probably be provoked to depart from the moderation of her
first demand.


03




198 'VAR WITH RUSSIA —FRENCH REVOLUTION. [April


If the House desired to know the object before they gave
away money, he thought they would act neither uncon-
stitutionally nor with any improper degree of suspicion,
if they rejected this doctrine, they betrayed the interest of
their constituents, and declared themselves incapable of judg-
ing of the propriety of voting away their money. The right
honourable gentleman, under the plea of state secresy, had
brought forward the worst possible excuse for holding his
tongue, to save him from exposing the most unjustifiable
conduct. His defensive system was wicked and absurd
that every country which appeared, from whatever cause,
to be growing great, should be attacked ; that all the powers
of Europe should be confined to the same precise situation
in which this defensive system found them. If this was a
defensive, he should be glad to hear what was an offensive
system. The family-compact, so justly reprobated, because
the contracting parties engaged to assist one another, at all
events, whether the quarrel was just Or unjust, never carried
its presumption so far as this defensive system. According
to this system, were any nation to acquire territories in Asia,
from which revenue could be derived, that would be a suf-
ficient cause for war; if any country, in any shape, became
more strong at home, and consequently more secure abroad,
the allies, under this defensive system, must instantly make
war against it, and restore it to its former state of misery
at home, and imbecility abroad; — a principle so diabolical
as this he never expected to hear stated in a civilized assembly!


He had said, that what was a ground for armament was
not a ground for war. 'What ! were we degraded into a mere
bully as a nation, to enforce insolent propositions by arms,
and if they were firmly resisted, to recede from them? No-
thing could justify an armament which could not justify a
war; for, the nation that was once discovered to have armed
in bravado, would find little regard paid to her armaments
again. He had been a strenuous advocate for the balance
of power, while France was that intriguing, restless nation
which she had formerly proved. Now, that the situation of
France was altered, that she had erected a government, front
which neither insult nor injustice was to be dreaded by her
neighbours, be was extremely indifferent concerning the
balance of power, and should continue so till he saw some
other nations combine the same power with the same prin-
ciples of government. His idea of this balance was, that
every state was not to be kept in its precise old situation, but
to prevent any one from obtaining such an ascendancy as t°
be dangerous to the rest. No man could say that Russia "was


10


WAR WITH RUSSIA—FRENCH REVOLUTION.
199I 791,


the successor of France in this respect. Her extent of ter-
ritory, scanty revenue, and thin population, made her power
by no means formidable to us; a power whom we could
neither attack, nor be attacked by; and this was the power
against whom we were going to war ! Overturning the Otto-
man empire, he conceived to be an argument of no weight.
The event was not probable, and if it should happen, it was
more likely to be of advantage than injurious to us. if we
wished to retain the good wishes of our Dutch allies, we should
be careful of engaging them in ruinous wars; for, the aver-
sion to," and detestation of; this war, was greater in Holland
than in England. " Now," said the minister's friends, " if
war ensues, we may thank the speeches of the minority."
lie had long been callous to this sort of abuse; but if this
was their opinion, they ought to prorogue the parliament;
for it was impossible for him to sit in it, and not speak his
honest sentiments on a question which so nearly concerned
the public interest. But he believed there would be no war;
the empress would either be compelled to give up Oczakow,
or, what was much more probable, the minister, after his
bullying and blustering, would recede from all his arrogant
demands, and we should have nothing in return for an ex-
pence of perhaps half a million, but the shame of having in-
terfered where we had no right to interfere, and the disgrace
of having completely failed. To what a state were we re-
duced, when this was the foundation of our hopes; and when
to be baffled and disgraced in the eyes of Europe was an object
of ardent expectation !


Mr. Fox, in the course of his speech, charged the minister
with insolence, arrogance, incapacity, and wilful imposition
on the House of Commons, in the conduct of foreign affairs,
and dared him to the proof. The confidence, he said, that
there would be no war, that he durst not go to war, was the
only tie which kept his majority about him. He entered
into a comparison of the present state of France with its for-
mer condition, both as it respected the politics of Europe,
and the happiness of the people, for the purpose of sheaving
that those - who detested the principles of the revolution had
reason to rejoice in its effects. He praised the new govern-
ment of France, in its internal relation, as good, because it
aimed to make those who were subject to it happy. "With
regard to the change of system that had taken place in that
country, Mr. Fox said, that he knew different opinions were
entertained upon the point by different men, and added, that
he for one admired the new constitution of France, considered
altogether, as the most stupendous and glorious edifice opiberty,


04




200 QUEBEC BILL — FRENCH REVOLUTION — [March 4,
which had been erected on the foundation of human integrity in
any time or country.*


After observing that it was' well known, there were great
and good men on both sides the House to whom he made
his most earnest appeal, and whom he conjured in the strongest
terms to support the resolution, Mr. Fox said, that although
he had to apologize for having taken up so much of the time
of the House, a great deal yet remained for him to say, but
as he foresaw that he should have frequent opportunities of
discussing the same subject, he should trespass no longer on
the patience of the [louse, but would give his hearty vote to
his honourable friend's motion.


As soon as Mr. Fox sat down, Mr. Burke rose, in much visible
emotion, but the cry of " Question !" being general, he unwillingly
gave way to the divisiont, which immediately after took place,


Tellers. Tellers.
YEAS


Mr. M. A. Taylor 1 Mr. Steele
1 Mr. Adam 162 —Noes Mr. Cawthornel 254'


The motion was consequently negatived by a majority of 92.


QUEBEC GOVERNMENT BILL—FRENCH REVOLUTION —
SEPA RATION BETWEEN MR. FOX AND MR. BURKE.


March 4.
CNN the zsth of February, Mr. Pitt presented the following


message from his majesty :
GEORGE IL


" His majesty thinks it proper to acquaint the House of Com-
mons, that it appears to his majesty, that it would be for the be-
nefit of his majesty's subjects in his province of Quebec, that toe
same should be divided into two separate provinces, to be called


,•* The terms of this panegyric arc taken from Mr. Burke's " Appeal
from the New to the Old Whigs." See Burke's Works, vol. 6. p. 93. In
the Public Advertiser of the 18th of April, 1791, they are thus Oven :
" With regard to the change of system that had taken place in the French
constitution, Mr. Fox said, there were different opinions entertained by
different men, he for one admired the new constitution, considered alto-
gether, as the most glorious fabrick ever raised by human integrity since
the creation of man."


t Mr. Fox is known to have regretted the injudicious zeal of those ibto
would not suffer Mr. Burke to answer him on the spOt. The contention,
he said, might have been fiercer and hotter, but the iniembrance of
would not have settled so deep, nor rankled so long in the heart. SO
Annual Register for 1 791, p. 114.


/791.] SEPARATION BETWEEN MR. Fox AND MR. BURKE. 20I
the province of Upper Canada, and the province of Lower Canada :
;lad that it is accordingly his majesty's intention so to divide the
same, whenever his majesty shall be enabled by act of parliament
to establish the necessary regulations for the government of the
said provinces. His majesty therefore recommends this object to
the consideration of this House.


" His majesty also recommends it to this House to consider ofsuch
provisions as may be necessary to enable his majesty to make a per-
manent appropriation of lands in the said provinces, for the support
and maintenance of a Protestant clergy within thesame, in proportion
to such lands as have been already granted within the same by his
majesty ; and it is his majesty's desire, that such provision may be
made, with respect to all future grants of land within the said pro-
vinces respectively, as may best conduce to the same object, in
proportion to such increase as may happen in the populatio.i and
cultivation of the said provinces ; and for this purpose, his majesty
consents, that such provisions or regulations may be made by this
House, respecting all future grants of land to be made by his
majesty within the said provinces, as this House shall think fit."


Out of the above message arose the Quebec government bill —
a bill which is principally interesting, as in its latter stages it gave
occasion to the public declaration of a breach between Mr. Fox
and Mr. Burke. In consequence of this message, Mr. Pitt, on the
4th of March, moved " For leave to bring in a bill to repeal certain
parts of the act of the :4th of his present majesty, intituled ' An
act for making more effectual provision for the government of the
province of Quebec in North America,' and to snake further pro-
vision for the government of the said province." On this occasion,


• Mr. Pitt opened the several heads of his plan with a detail unusually
full. Scarcely a regulation of the most minute kind was left un-
explained. It was proposed, he said, to divide the country into
two provinces, and subject it to two distinct governments. The legis-
lature was to consist ofa council and house of assembly for each di-
vision; the assembly to be constituted in the usual manner, but the
members of the council to be members for life, a power being at the
same time reserved to his majesty, of annexing to certain honours an
hereditary right of sitting in the council. All laws and ordinances were
to remain in force, until altered by the new legislatures. The habeas
corpus act, which had already been established by an ordinance
of the province, was to be continued as a fundamental principle of
the constitution. A provision was to be made for the protestant
clergy, in both divisions, by an allotment of lands in proportion to
those which had been already granted. The tenures, which had
been a subject of dispute, were to be settled, in Lower Canada,
by the local legislature ; but in Upper Canada, as the settlers were
principally British, or British colonists, the tenures were intended
to be soccage tenures. A new remedy was also given in causes
of appeal. The judgment of the privy council was no longer to
be final. There was now to be a last resort to the House of Lords.
Above all, to prevent any such discontents as had occasioned the
separation of the United States of America from the mother
country, it was provided, that'the British parliament should im-




202 QUEBEC BILL — FRENCH REVOLUTION — [April S.
pose no taxes but what were necessary for the regulation of trade
and commerce; and that even those should be levied and disposed.
by the legislature of each division. On this opening of the mea-
sure no objection to the principle. of a single regulation was in-
timated.


Mr. Fox agreed with the right honourable gentleman that
it was impossible to concur in any plan like that proposed,
until the bill was before the House, but be was willing to de-
clare, that the giving to a country so far distant from England
a legislature, and the power of governing for itself, would . ex-
ceedingly prepossess him in favour of every part of the plan.
He did not hesitate to say, that if a local legislature: was
liberally formed, that circumstance would incline him much to
overlook defects in the other regulations, because he was -cOn-
vinced that the only means of retaining distant; colonies with
advantage, was to enable them to govern themselves.


Leave was given to bring in the bill, which passed the early
stages without opposition.


April 8.
On the order of the day for "'takimr into further consideration


the report of the committee on the bill, Mr. Hussey, after pre-
senting a petition against it, from the merchants interested in the
trade to Quebec, moved that the bill be recommitted. Upon this,


Mr. Fox rose. He began by expressing his hope, that in
promulgating the scheme of a new constitution for the pro-
vince of Quebec, the House would keep in view those en-
lightened principles of freedom, which had already made a
rapid progress over a considerable portion of the globe, and
were every day hastening more and more to become universal.
He observed, that the bill contained a variety of clauses of
the utmost importance, not only with respect to the country
to which they immediately related, but to Great Britain.
Many of these clauses appeared to be very exceptionable, and
such as he could by no means subscribe to. The bill pro-
posed to give two assemblies to the two provinces, and thus
far it met with his approbation; but the number of persons
of whom these assemblies were to consist, deserved particular
attention. Although it might be perfectly true, that a country,
three or four times as large as Great Britain, ought to have
representatives three or four times as numerous, yet it was
not fit to say, that a small country should have an assembly
proportionably small. The great object in the institution of
all popular assemblies was, that the people should be fully and


091,i SEPARATION BETWEEN MR. ION AND MR. BURKE. 203


fold freely represented; and that the representative body
should have all the virtues and the vices incidental to such
assemblies . But when they made. an assembly to consist of
sixteen or thirty persons, they seemed to him to give a free
constitution in appearance, when, in fact, they withheld it.
In Great Britain, we had a septennial bill ; but the goodness of
it had been considered doubtful, at least, even by many of those
who took a lead in the present bill. The right honourable
gentleman the chancellor of the exchequer, had himself sup-
ported a vote for the repeal of that act. He did not now
mean to discuss its merits ; but a main ground on which it
had been thought defensible was, that a general election in
this country was attended with a variety of inconveniences.
That general elections in Great Britain were attended with
several inconveniences could not be doubted; but when they
came to a country so different in all circumstances . as Canada,
and where elections, for many years at least, were not likely
to be attended with the consequences which they dreaded, why
they should make such assemblies not annual or triennial, but
septennial, was beyond his comprehension. A septennial bill
did not apply to many of the most respectable persons in that
country ; they might be persons engaged in trade, and if
chosen representatives for seven years, they might not be
in a situation to attend during all that period;; their affairs
might call them to England, or many other circumstances
might arise, effectually to prevent them from attending the
service of their country. But although it might be incon-
venient for such persons to attend such assembly for the
term of seven years, they might be able to give their attend-
ance for one, or even for three years, without any danger or
inconvenience to their commercial concerns. By a septennial
bill, the country of Canada might be deprived of many of the
lew representatives that were allowed by the bill. If it should
be said, that this objection applied to Great Britain, he com-
pletely denied it; because, although there were persons en-
gaged in trade in the British House of Commons, and many
of them very worthy members, yet they were comparatively
few; and therefore lie should think that, from the situation
of Canada, annual or triennial parliaments would be much
preferable to septennial. Of the qualification of electors he
felt itQimpossible to approve. In England, a freehold of forty
shillings was sufficient; five pounds were necessary in Canada.
Perhaps it might be said, that when this was fairly considered,
it would make no material difference, and this he suspected to
be the case; but granting that it did not, when we were
giving to the world, by this bill, our notions of the principles
of election, we should not hold out that the qualifications in




204 QUEBEC BILL — FRENCH REVOLUTION— [April 8,
Great Britain were lower than they ought to be. The quali.
fications on a house were still higher ; he believed, ten pounds.


He thought that the whole of this constitution was an at.
tempt to undermine and contradict the professed purport of
the bill — the introduction of a popular government into Ca-
nada. But although this was the case with respect to the two
assemblies, although they were to consist of so inconsiderable
a number of members, the legislative councils,.in both pro-
vinces were unlimited as to numbers. They might consist of
any number whatever, at the will of the governor. Instead of
being hereditary councils, or councils chosen by electors, as
was the case in some of the colonies in the West Indies, or
chosen by the king, they were compounded of the other two.
As to the points of hereditary powers and hereditary honours,
to say that they were good or that they were not good, as a
general proposition, was not easily maintained ; but he saw
nothing so good in hereditary powers and honours, as to in-
cline us to introduce them into a country where they wene
unknown, and by such means distinguish Canada from all the
colonies in the West Indies. In countries where they made
a part of the constitution, he did not think it wise to destroy
them ; but to give birth and life to such principles in countries
where they did not exist, appeared to to be exceedingly
unwise. He could not account for it, unless it was that Ca-
nada having been formerly a French colony, there might be
an opportunity of reviving those titles of honour, the extinc-
tion of which some gentlemen so much deplored, and to re-
vive in the West that spirit of chivalry which had fallen into
disgrace in a neighbouring country. Ile asked, if those red
and blue ribbands, which had lost their lustre in the old
world, were to shine forth again in the new ? It seemed to
him peculiarly absurd to introduce hereditary honours in
America, where those artificial distinctions stunk in the nos-
trils of the natives. Iie thought these powers and honours
'wholly unnecessary, and tending rather to make a new con-
stitution worse than better. If the council were wholly here-
ditary, he should equally object to it ; it would only add to the
power of the kino. and the governor ; for a council so coosti-king




tuted would only be the tool of the governor, as the governor
himself would only be the tool and engine of •the king. He
did not clearly comprehend the provision which the bill made
for the protestant clergy. By the protestant clergy, he sup-
posed to be understood not only the clergy of' the church of
England, but all descriptions of protestants.


He totally disapproved of the clause which enacts, 4 4 That
whenever the king shall make grants of lands, one seventh
part of those lands shall be appropriated to' the protestant
clergy." He had two objections to these regulations, both


:91.] SEPARATION BETWEEN MR. FOX AND MR. BURKE. 205
of them, in his opinion, of great weight. In all grants of
lands made in that country to catholics, and a majority of the
inhabitants were of that persuasion, one seventh part of those


t
°Tants was to be appropriated to the protestant clergy, al-
hough they might not have any cure of souls, or any congre-


gations to instruct. One tenth part of the produce of this
country was assigned, and this, perhaps, was more than one
seventh part of the land. He wished to deprive no clergyman
of his just rights; but in settling a new constitution, and lay-
ing down new principles, to enact that the clergy should have
one seventh of all grants, he must confess, appeared to him
an absurd doctrine. If they were all of the church of Eng-
land, this would not reconcile him to the measure. It might
he asked, why should not they have as much as those of the
church of England? In this country, we had that which some
condemned and others praised ; we had a kind of show, but
still a proportion must be observed. The greatest part of
these protestant clergy were not of the church of England ;
they were chiefly what are called protestant dissenters in this
country. They were, therefore, going to give to dissenters
one seventh part of all the lands in the province. Was this
the proportion, either in Scotland, or in any other country,
where those religious principles were professed? It was not
the proportion, either in Scotland, or in any other ecclesias-
tical country in Europe; we were, therefore, by this bill,
making a sort of provision for the protestant clergy of Ca-
nada, which was unknown to theist in every part of Europe;
a provision, in his apprehension, which would rather tend to
corrupt than to benefit them. The regulation was likewise, in
part, obscure, because, after it had stated that one seventh
portion of the land should always be set aside for the pro-
testant clergy, it did not state how it should be applied.


The bill was likewise exceptionable, as far as it related to
the regulation of appeals. Suitors were, in the first instance,
to carry their complaints before the courts of common law in
Canada ; if dissatisfied with the decisions of those courts,
they might appeal to the governor and council; if dissatisfied
with their judgment, they might then appeal to. the king in
council; and next, to the House of Lords. Now, if the
House of Lords was a better court, which he believed it to
be, than the king in count, why compel them to appeal to
the king in council, before they could come to the House of
Lords? Why not apply to the House of Lords at once?
This could answer no possible purpose, but to render lawsuits
exceedingly expensive, and exceedingly vexatious.


'nose were the principal objections he had to this bill.
There had not yet been a word said in explanation of it,





I
QUEBEC BILL — FRENCH REVOLUTION [April


with all its variety of clauses • and regulations. It wont
through the House silently without one observation; it also
went through the committee. only in form, but not in sub,
stance. Of all the points of the bill, that which struck him
the most forcibly was the division of the province of Canada,
It had been urged that, by such means, we could separate
the English and- the French inhabitants of the province; that
we could distinguish who were originally French from those
of English origin. But was this to be desired? Was it not
rather to be avoided ? Was it agreeable to general political
expediency ? The most desirable circumstance was, that the
French and English inhabitants of Canada should unite and
coalesce, as it were, into one body, and that the different dis-
tinctions of the people might be extinguished for ever. If
this had been the object in view, the English laws might soon
have prevailed universally throughout Canada, not from force,
but from choice and conviction of their superiority. He had
no doubt, that on a fair trial they would be found free from
all objection. The inhabitants of Canada had not the laws
of France. The commercial code was never established
there; they stood upon the exceedingly inconvenient custom
of Paris. FIe wished the people of that country to'adopt the
English laws from choice, and not from force ; and he did
not think the division of the province the most likely means
to bring about this desirable end.


In his opinion, this bill was also objectionable, as far as it
related to the trial by jury, and the habeas corpus act, which
the Canadians were said to enjoy by an ordinance of the
province. It was stated, by one of the council at the bar,
that either the ordinance which gave the inhabitants the trial
by jury, or that which afforded them the benefit of the.ha-
beas corpus act, would expire before this bill could pass into a
law. If this were true, it was an objection to the bill, and
ought to be remedied. He trusted that the House would also
seriously consider the particular situation of Canada. It was
not to be compared to the West Indies; it was a country of
a different nature; it did not consist of a few white inhabi-
tants, and a number of slaves; but it was a country of great
growing population, which had increased very much, and
which, he hoped, would increase much more. It was a
country as capable of enjoying political freedom, in its utmost
extent, as any other country on the face of the globe. This
country was situated near the colonies of North America: all
their animosity and bitterness on the quarrel between them
and Great Britain was now over; and he believed that there
were very few people among those colonies who would not
be ready to admit every person belonging to this country into


1 79 1.] SEPARATION BETWEEN MR. FOX AND MR. BURKE, 207
a participation of all their privileges, and would receive them
with open arms. The governments now established in North
America were, in his opinion, the best adapted to the situa-
tion of the people who lived under them, of any of the govern-
ments of the ancient or modern world: and when we had a
colony like this, capable of freedom, and capable of a great
increase of population, it was material that the inhabitants
should have nothing to look to among their neighbours to
excite their envy. Canada must be preserved in its adherence
to Great Britain by the choice of its inhabitants, and it
could not possibly be kept by any other means. But it must
be felt by the inhabitants that their situation was not worse
than that of their neighbours. He wished them to be in
such a situation as to have nothing to envy in any part of the
king's dominions. But this would never prove the case un-
der a bill which held out to them something like the shadow
of the British constitution, but denied them the substance.
Where the principles of liberty were gaining ground, which
would increase, in consequence of the general diffusion of liter-
ature and knowledge in the world, they should have a go-
vernment as agreeable to the genuine principles of freedom
as was consistent with the nature of circumstances. He did
not think that the government intended to be established by
the bill would prove such a government; and this was his
principal motive for opposing it.


The legislative councils ought to be totally free, and re-
peatedly chosen, in a manner as much independent of the go-
vernor as the nature of a colony Would admit. Those, he
conceived, would be the best; but if not, they should have
their seats for life, be appointed by the king; consist of a
limited number, and possess no hereditary honours. Those
honours might be very proper, and of great utility, in coun-
tries where they had existed by long custom ; -but, in his opi-
nion, they were not fit to be introduced . where they had no
original existence ; where there was no particular reason for
introducing them, arising from the nature of the country, its
extent, its state of improvement, or its peculiar customs;
where, instead of attracting respect, they might excite envy ;
and as but few could enjoy them, those who did not, might be
induced to form an unflivourableecomparison between their
own situation. and that of their neighbours, aniong whom no
such distinctions were known. Even -whilst he felt himself
perfectly desirous of establishing a permanent provision for
the clergy, he could not think of making for them a pro-
vision so considerable, as was . unknown in any country of
Europe, where the species of religion to be provided for pre-
vailed. It was upon these grounds which he had stated ) that


t




208 QUEBEC BILL--FRENCH REVOLUTION — [April 21.
he felt himself justified in seconding the motion of his ho.
pourable friend.•


After Mr. Pitt had replied to Mr. Fox, the motion for the re.
commitment of the bill was agreed to. Mrs Burke was not in the
House during Mr. Fox's speech.


April 21:


From the moment of the debate on the i5th of April on Mr.
Baker's motion relative to the war with Russia, (see p. zoo.) a
rupture between Mr. Fox and Mr. Burke was distinctly foreseen.
On the morning of the 2 I st of April, the day appointed for the
re-commitment of the Quebec bill, Mr. Fox, for the last time,
paid Mr. Burke a visit, accompanied by a common friend he
talked over with them the plan of all which lie intended to say,
opened the different branches of his argument, and explained the
limitations which he meant to impose on himself. Mr. Fox, on
his part, treated him with, confidence, and mentioned to him a
political circumstance of some delicacy. What it precisely was,
Mr. Burke declined telling, even in the heat of altercation. But
from the tenor of the charge, which he seems most anxious to
refute, and from some intimations in one of Mr. Fox's answers,
we may form a reasonable conjecture. The king, it seems, was
represented to have used some expressions favourable to Mr.. ox..
In order, therefore, to secure himself in his situation, the mini_ of
was asserted to have given out the watch-word, that Mr. FoxVas
by principle a republican ; and it was supposed that, in pursuance
of this plan, he instigated Mr. Burke to the discussion. Mr.
Burke undeceived his friend, by relating the fact as it was. Still
it was requested by Mr. Fox, that at least the discussion might
not take place on the re-commitment of the Quebec bill ; but,
Mr. Burke was unwilling to forego an opportunity which he could
not hope to find again in any other business then before parlia-
ment, or likely to come before it. They walked, however, to
Westminster together, and together entered the House, where
they found that Mr. Sheridan, in the mean time, had moved to
postpone the re-commitment till after the holidays. Mr. M. A.
Tayler observed, that the business had been improperly treated,
as involving the consideration of general principles of government,
and the constitutions of other countries : on which ground in-
sinuations had been thrown out against some members of the
opposition party. But he gave notice, that if' the minister, or any
other right honourable gentleman, should wander from the proper
discussion of the subject, lie should call him-to order, and take
the sense of the House upon the occasion. Here was a palpable
allusion to Mr. Burke. Yet he did not rise to answer.


Mr. Fox took the opportunity of explaining what he had
said on the former question relative to the Quebec bill. After


1791.] SEPARATION BETWEEN' MR. FOX AND MIL BURKE. 209


lamenting that lie had been misunderstood before, he admitted,
that in forming a government for a colony, some attention
must be paid to the general principles of all governments.
In the course of this session, be said, he had taken oppor-
tunities of alluding, perhaps too often, to the French revo-
lution, and to slew, whether right or wrong, that his opinion,
On the whole, was much in its favour ; but on this bill he had
only introduced one levity, silly enough perhaps, and not
worth recollection, that had any relation to the French
revolution ; lie meant an allusion to the extinction of nobility
in France, and its revival in Canada. Certainly, he had
spoken much on the government of the American states,
because they were in the neighbourhood of Canada, and were
connected with that province. Having then observed that
the prudence of concealing his opinions was a quality which
his dearest friends had not very often imputed to him, and
that he thought the public had a right to the opinions of
public men on public measures, he declared, that he never
had stated any republican principles, with regard to this
country, in or out of parliament; and among other things
he said, that when the Quebec bill came again to be dis-
cussed, froth the great respect which he entertained for some
of his friends, he should be extremely sorry to differ from
them; but he should never be backward in delivering his
opinion, and he did not wish to recede from any thing which
he had formerly advanced.


Mr. Powys complained that the debate had turned irregularly
both on retrospect and anticipation, and hinted that Mr. Fox
should have imitated the example of' Mr. Burke, in writing, rather
than speaking there, of the French revolution. Mr. Dundas then
took notice of a phrase used by Mr. Taylor, who explained: after
which the conversation was closed by Mr. Burke. He in a very
affecting manner assured the house, that nothing depressed him
more, nothing had ever more afflicted him in body and mind, than
the thought of meeting his friend as an adversary and antagonist.
After noticing the anticipation which had been suggested, and the
observations which had been made, but to which he trusted that
1,1e had given no just cause, he declared his sentiments, that in
training a new constitution, it was necessary to refer to principles
of government and examples of other constitutions, because it
"was a material part of every political question, to see how far such
and such principles have been adopted, and how they have suc-
ceeded in other places. His opinions on government, he presumed
riot to be unknown ; and the more he considered the French
constitution, the more sorry he was to see it. Once in thePreceding session he had thought himself under the necessity of


z1701
tL. IV.ingvery fully upon the subject ; but since that time, he had


'lever mentioned it either directly or indirectly ; no man, therefore„




2I6 QUEBEC BILL --TRENCH REVOLUTION .— [May :6.


could charge him with having provoked the conversation that had
passed. He signified, however, his intention of giving his judg-
ment on certain principles of government at the proper moment,
in the future progress of the Quebec bill. He alluded with much
candour to Mr. Fox's recent panegyric on France, as well as his
own ineffectual attempt to rise in answer to it, acquitting his
friend from all design of personal offence in it ; and he finished by
saying, that should he and his friend differ, he desired it to be
recollected, that however dear he considered his friendship, there
was something still dearer in his mind, the love of his country : nor
was he stimulated by ministers to take the part which he should
take ; for whatever they knew of his political sentiments, they had
learned from him, not he from them. — Mr. Fox had thus openly
given a challenge, which was accepted by Mr. Burke ; and a
determination of calling the latter to order was likewise avowed.*


May 6.


When the House re-assembled on the Gth of May, they pro-
ended to the re-commitment of the Quebec bill. The chairman
took the chair, and began by putting the usual question, " That
the bill be read paragraph by paragraph?" Upon this, Mr. Burke
immediately rose. He remarked that, as the House was about to
appoint a legislature for a distant people, it ought first previously
to be convinced, that it was in itself competent to the assumption
of such a power. A body of rights, commonly called the Rights
Of Man,' had been lately imported from a neighbouring country,
and held up by certain persons in this kingdom as paramount to
all other rights. A principle article in this new code was, " That
all men are born free, equal in respect of rights, and continue so in
society." If such a doctrine were to be admitted, the power of
the House could extend no farther than to call together the in-
habitants of Canada, and recommend to them the free choice of
a government for themselves. But he rather chose to argue from
another code, on which mankind in all ages had hitherto acted—
from the law of nations. On this alone he conceived the com-
petence of the house to rest ; from this we learnt, that we pos-,
sessed a right of legislating for Canada, founded upon a claim of
Sovereignty over that country, which was at first obtained by con-
quest, but afterwards confirmed and acknowledged by the cession
of its former government, and established by a long uninterrupted
possession. The competence of the House therefore being ad-
mitted, the next point to he considered was, after what model the
proposed constitution was to be formed. In Canada there were
Well known to be many ancient French inhabitants, and many nevi
American settlers, who had migrated from the United States. It
might, on this account, be proper to enquire, whether the eon-


* See Annual Register for 1 79 1, p. 1 16. See also Mr. Burke's Appeo.1
from the New to she Old Whigs.


1791.] SEPARATION BETwEEN MIL PDX AND MR. BURKE. 2I


stitutions of America or France possessed any thing superior to
our own constitution ; any thing which, if unproVided by the bill,
might make those people contemplate with regret the happier
situation of their former countrymen.


The Americans, he believed, had formed a constitution for
themselves well adapted to their peculiar circumstances. They
had in some degree received a republican education, as their
ancient government partly partook of republicanism, restrained in
its principles and vices by the beneficence of an over-ruling mo-
narchy. The formation of their constitution was preceded bya
long war, in the course of which, by military discipline, they had
learned order, submission to command, and a regard for great
amen. They were trained to government by war; not by plots,
murders, and assassinations. Another circumstance of consider-
able weight was, that they did not possess among them even the
materials of monarchy and aristocracy. They acted, however,
too wisely to set up so absurd an idea, as that the nation should
govern the nation ; but formed a constitution as monarchical and
aristocratical as their situation would permit : they formed one
upon the admirable model of the British constitution, reduced to
its primary principles. Yet lie would not say, Give this con-
stitution to the people of Canada ;' for if the bare imitation of
the British constitution was so good, why not give them, if possible,
the thing itself? Why mock them with the shadow of' a shadow,
when their situation, in being still under a mild and liberal mo-
narchy, rendered them capable of' enjoying the substance ? No-
thing therefore seemed to be apprehended from the discontent of'
the American inhabitants.


The ancient Canadians were the next objects of consideration,
and from their numbers entitled to the greatest attention. He
asked, should we give them, as being Frenchmen, the new con-
stitution of France ? — a constitution founded on principles dia-
metrically opposite to our own, as different from it as folly from
wisdom, as vice' from virtue ; a constitution founded on what was
called the rights of man? The authors of it had told us, and their
partizans, the societies here, had told us, that it was a great mo-


. raiment erected for the instruction of mankind. This was certainly
done not without a view to imitation. But before we proceeded
to give it to our colonies, he thought that we should do well to
consider what would probably be the practical consequences of
such a step ; to consider what had already been the effects of a
similar experiment on the French West Indian colonies, where
the new principles of Parisian politics had been introduced and
propagated with ardour ; that we might be enabled to form some
idea


of the blessings which we were about to confer. The mode
of reasoning from effects to causes was the old-fashioned way. It
had been adopted in experimental philosophy, and might with
equal propriety be applied to the philosophy of the human mind.
lie should therefore use it now.


The French West Indies, notwithstanding three disastrous wars,
were most happy and flourishing, till the fatal moment in which
the rights of man arrived. Scarcely was this precious doctrine


P 2




212 QUEBEC BILL—FRENCH REVOLUTION [May 6.


received among them, when Pandora's box, replete with all mortal
evils, seemed to fly open, hell itself to yawn, and every demon
of mischief to overspread the face of the earth. Blacks rose
against whites; whites against blacks, and each against the other
in murderous hostility ; subordination was destroyed, the cords of
society torn asunder, and every man appeared to thirst for the
blood of his neighbour. The mother country, not receiving any
great degree of pleasure in contemplating this image of herself
reflected in her child, sent out a body of troops, well instructed
likewise in the new principles, to restore order and tranquillity.
These troops, immediately upon their arrival, felt themselves
bound to become parties in the general rebellion, and, like most
of' their brethren at home, began the assertion of their free-born
rights, by murdering their general. In proof of these facts, he
read the account given on the z5 th of April in the national
assembly itself. Should such an example, he asked, induce us
to ship off fbr Canada a cargo of the rights of man ?


But, lest it should be objected, that the disorders of the French
West Indies originated in local causes, he proceeded to point out
the deplorable condition of France itself. The national assembly
had boasted that they would establish a fabric of government,
which time could not destroy, and the latest posterity would
admire. This boast had been echoed by the clubs of this country,
the Unitarians, the revolution-society, the constitutional society,
and the club of the t 4.th of July. The assembly had now con-
tinued nearly two years in possession of the absolute authority
which they usurped; yet they did not appear to have advanced a
single step in settling any thing like a government ; but to have
contented themselves with enjoying the 'democratic satisfaction of
heaping every disgrace on fallen royalty. The constitution must
be expected now, if ever to be nearly complete; to try whether
it was good in its effects, he should have recourse to the last
accounts of the assembly itself. They had a king such as they
wished, a king who was no king; over whom the Marquis de la
Fayette, chief' gaoler of Paris, motinted guard. The royal pri-
soner having wished to taste the freshness of the country air, had
obtained a day-rule to take a journey of about five miles from
Paris. But scarcely had he left the city, before his suspicious
governors, recollecting that a temporary release from confinement
might afford him the means of escape, sent a tumultuous rabble
after him ; who, surrounding his carriage, commanded him to
stop, while one of the grenadiers belonging to his faithful and
loyal body guard,. presented a bayonet to the breast of the fore-
horse --


Mr. Burke was here called to order by Mr. Baker. A long and
extraordinary altercation ensued, in the course of which,


Mr. Fox rose and said, that he conceived his right honour-
able friend could hardly be said to be out of order. It seemed
that this was a day of privilege, when any gentleman might
'mild up, select his mark, and abuse any government


179 I.] SEPARATION BETWEEN MR. FOX AND MR. BURKE. 213


pleased, whether it had any reference or not to the point in
question. Although no body had said a word on the subject
of the French revolution, his right honourable friend had risen
up and abused that event. He might have treated the Gentoo
government, or that of China, or the government of Turkey,
or the laws of Confucius, precisely in the same manner, and
with equal appositeness to the question before the House.
Every gentleman had a right that day to abuse the govern-
ment of every country as much as he pleased, and in as gross
terms as he thought proper, or any government, either
antient or modern, with his right honourable friend.


Mr. Burke endeavoured several times to explain why he thought
himself in order. At length Lord Sheffield moved, " That disser-
tations on the French constitution, and to read a narrative of the
transactions in France, are not regular nor orderly on the ques-
tion, that the clauses of the Quebec bill be read a second time,
paragraph by paragraph." Mr. Fox seconded the motion. Mr. Pitt
said he was glad of the motion, as it reduced the debate to some-
thing like order. He said, he considered the introduction of a
discussion on the French constitution to rest on discretion and
order, which were two distinct things ; he explained their differ-
ence, and said, for his own part he would use no vehement lan-
guage, nor any words that might give umbrage ; not conceiving,
however, that the right honourable gentleman was disorderly, lie
should certainly give his negative to the motion.


Mr. Fox said, he was sincerely sorry to feel that he must
support the motion, and the more so, as his right honourable
friend had made it necessary by bringing on, in so irregular a
manner, a discussion of a matter by no means connected with
the Quebec bill — in a manner which he could not help think-
ing extremely unfair, but which he must consider as a direct
injustice to him. If the right honourable gentleman's argu-
ment over the way, with regard to order, was to obtain"


rder,
it was a mode of order that would go to stop every proceed-
ing of that House, especially in committees. It was proper
to debate the principle of a bill on the second reading of it ;
and referring to matter that might be analogous, much lati-
tude would be required ; the Quebec bill had been read a
second time, and was decided. If gentlemen, therefore, when
a bill was in a committee, would come down and state in
long speeches, general answers to all possible objections, to
clauses that might be proposed, but were never meant to be
Proposed, debates might be drawn to any imaginable length,
and the business of the House suspended at the pleasure of
any one of its members. The argument which some gen-




/214 QUEBEC BILL — FRENCH REVOLUTION [May 6.
tleman might possibly move, that the chairman leave the
chair, was applicable to every clause, and to every stage of
the bill in the committee; and if on that account every species
of volunteer argument was to be held in order, it would be_
impossible for business to proceed.


His right honourable friend, instead of debating the prin.;
ciple of the bill in any stage which was usual, had come down,
not to debate the clauses, but to fortify misrepresentations of
what he had said in a former debate, which his right honour-
able friend did not even hear. Order and discretion in debate,
had been said to be distinct; with him, Mr. Fox declared,
they never should be separate. Where the distinction lay he
could not see, for he always conceived that order was founded
on discretion. He was not in the habit of interrupting any
gentleman on the point of order; because, unless the deviation
from it was strong indeed, more time was often lost by calling
to order, than by suffering gentlemen to proceed. But if he
saw any discussion attempted to be introduced in a way not
merely irregular, but unfair, he felt himself obliged to en-
deavour to stop it.


Much had been said on the present occasion, of the danger
of theory and the safety of practice. Now, what had been
the conduct of the gentleman who looked on theory with
such abhorrence ? Not to enter into a practical discussion of
the bill clause by clause, and to examine whether it gave what
it professed to give, the British constitution to Canada, but
having neglected to have done his duty, and attended the
proper stage of debating the principle, to enter into a theo-
retical enquiry of what the principle ought to be, and a dis-
cussion of the constitution of another country, respecting
which it was possible that he might differ from him. If this
was not manifest eagerness to seek a difference of opinion,
and anxiety to discover a cause of dispute, he knew not what
was ; since if they came to the clauses of the bill, he did not
think there would be any difference of opinion, or at most
but a very trifling one. If his right honourable friend's object
had been to debate the Quebec bill, he would have debated it
clause by clause, according to the established practice al the
House. If his object had been to prevent danger apprehended
to the British constitution, from the opinions of any Mali, or
any set of men, he would have given notice of a particular
(lay for that particular purpose, or taken any other occasion
of doing it, rather than that on which his nearest and dearest
friend had been grossly misrepresented and traduced. That
at least was the course which he should himself have taken,
and was therefore what he naturally expected from another.


16


1 7 9 It] SEPARATION BETWEEN 11R. Fox AND Ain. BORXE• 215


The course which his right honourable friend had chosen to
take was that which seemed to confirm the insinuation urged
aztinst him— that of having maintained republican princi-
ples as applicable to the British constitution, in a farmer debate
on the bill. No such argument had ever been urged by him,
nor any from which such an inference was fairly deducible.
On the French revolution he did, indeed, differ from his right
honourable friend. Their opinions, he had no scruple to say,
were wide as the poles asunder. But, what had a difference
of opinion on that, which to the House was only matter of
theoretical contemplation, to do with the discussion of a prac-
tical point, on which no such difference existed ? On that
revolution, he adhered to his opinion, and never would retract
one syllable of what lie had said. Ile repeated, that he
thought it, on the whole, one of the most glorious events in
the history of mankind. But, when he had on a former
occasion mentioned France, he had mentioned the revo-
lution only, mid not the constitution ; the latter remained
to be improved by experience, and accommodated to circum-
stances. The arbitrary system of government was done away :
the new one had the good of the people for its object, and this
was the point on which he rested. This opinion, Mr. Fox
said, he wished the time might come to debate, if opinions of
his were again to be made the subject of parliamentary discus-
sion. He had no concealment of his opinions; but if any
thing could make him shy of such a discussion, it would be
the fixing a day to catechize him respecting his political creed,
and respecting opinions on which the House was neither going
to act, nor called upon to act at all. He had been thus cate-
chized in 1782, when a right honourable gentleman (Mr.Duir-
das) in the last stage of the then administration, had said,
" Admitting this administration to be bad, where are you to
find a better? Will you admit men into power, who say, that
the representation of the people is inadequate, and whose
principles would overturn the constitution ?" On that occa-
sion, lie had found an able defender in a right honourable
gentleman (Mr. Pitt,) whom he could not expect to be his
defender that day ; but who had in 1 7 82 demanded in manly
and energetic tones, " if the House would bear to be told,
that the country was incapable of furnishing an adminis-
tration more worthy of trust than that whose misconduct
was admitted even by its advocates?" He might now have
looked for a defender to another quarter, to the bench on
which he sat, and been as much disappointed. Yet the cate-
chizer on that occasion had soon after joined another ministry,
and supported that very reform of the representation which
he then deprecated as more dangerous to the constitution and


P 4




2 16 QUEBEC BILL -- FRENCH REVOLUTION [May 6.


the country, than all the misfortunes of that administration !
-Were he to differ from his right honourable friend on points
of history, on the constitution of Athens or of Rome, was it
necessary that the difference should be discussed in that
House .1 Were he to praise the conduct of the elder Brutus,
and to say that the expulsion of the Tarquins was a noble
and patriotic act, would it thence be fair to argue that he medi-
tated the establishment of a consular government in this coun-
try? Were he to repeat the eloquent eulogium of Cicero on
the taking offof Cesar, would it thence be deducible, that he
went with a knife about him for the purpose of killing some
great man or orator? Let those who said, that to admire was
to wish to imitate, shew that there was some similarity of cir-
cumstances. It lay on his right honourable friend to she*
that this country was in the precise situation of France at the
time of the French revolution, before he had a right to meet
his argument ; and then, with all the obloquy that might be
heaped on the declaration, he should be ready to say, that the
French revolution was an object of imitation for this country.
. Instead of seeking for differences of opinion on topics—
happily for the country— entirely topics of speculations, let
them come to matter of fact, and of practical application ; let
them come to the discussion of the bill before them, and see
whether his objections to it were republican, and in what he
should differ from his right honourable friend. He had been
warned by high and most respectable authorities, that minute
discussion of great events, without information, did no honour
to the pen that wrote, or the tongue that spoke the words. If
the committee should decide that his right honourable friend
should pursue his argument on the French constitution, he


-


would leave the House : and if sonic friend would send him
word, when the clauses of the Quebec bill were to be discussed,
he would return and debate them. And when he said this, he
said it from no unwillingness to listen to his right honourable
friend : he always had heard him with pleasure, but not where
no practical use could result from his argument. When the
proper period for discussion came, feeble as his powers were,
compared with those of his right honourable friend, whom he
must call his master, for he had taught him every thing he
knew h) politics, (as he had declared on a former occasion,
and he meant no compliment when he said so,) yet, feeble as
his powers comparatively were, he should be ready to main-
tain the principles he had asserted, even against his right-
honourable friend's superior eloquence — to maintain, that
the rights of man,- which his right honourable friend had ridi-
culed as chimerical and visionary, were in fact the basis and
foundation of every rational constitution, and even of t.13.


09T.] SEPARATION BETWEEN MR. FOX AND MR. BURKE. 217


British constitution itself, as our statute-book proved : since,
y he knew any thing of the original compact between the
people of England and its government; as stated in that
volume, it was a recognition of the original inherent rights of


people as men, which no prescription could supersede, nothe
occident remove or obliterate.


If such were principles dangerous to the constitution, they
were the principles of his right honourable friend, from whom
he had learned them. During the American war they had
together rejoiced at the successes of a Washington, and sym-
pathized almost in tears for the tall of a Montgomery. From
his right honourable friend he had learned, that the revolt
of a whole people could never be countenanced and encou-
raged, but must have been provoked. Such had at that time
been the doctrine of his right honourable friend, who had
said with equal energy and emphasis, that he could not draw
a bill of indictment against a whole people. Mr. Fox declared
he was sorry to find that his right honourable friend had since
learnt to draw such a bill of indictment, and to crowd it with
all the technical epithets which disgraced our statute-book,
such as false, malicious, wicked, by the instigation of the
devil, not having the fear of 'God before your eyes, and so
forth. Having been taught by his right honourable friend,
that no revolt of a nation was caused without provocation, he
could not help feeling a joy ever since the constitution of
France became founded on the rights of man, on which the
British constitution itself was founded. To deny it, was nei-
ther more nor less than to libel the British constitution; and
uo book his right honourable friend could cite, no words he
might deliver in debate, however ingenious, eloquent and able
—as all his writings and all his speeches undoubtedly were—
could induce him to change or abandon that opinion ; he
difibred upon that subject with his right honourable friend
loto cal°.


Having proceeded thus far, Mr. Fox declared he had said
more than he had intended, possibly much more than was
either wise or proper ; but it was a common error arising from
his earnestness to be clearly understood ; but if his sentiments
could serve the other side of the House, which had counte-
nanced the discussion of that day, apparently in order to get
atthem, they had acted unnecessarily. They might be sure
of hint and his sentiments on every subject, without forcing
?a any thing like a difference between him and his right
lionourable friend ; and having once heard them, they might
act upon them as they thought proper.




218 QUEBEC BILL---FRENCH REVOLUTION [May 6.
Mr. Burke commenced his reply in a grave and governed tone


of voice, observing, that although he had himself been repeatedly
.called to order, he had nevertheless heard Mr. Fox with perfect
composure, and without the laast interruption. He hoped that'.
the temper, which was essentially requisite on an emergency of
this important kind, would attend him through this painful conten-
tion ; yet he trusted that if in the warmth of his observations, an
expression should drop which might imply severity, it would be
imputed to his zeal, and to the anxiety of his mind, agitated as it.
was, and not to any intention of personal reproach to any individual
whatsoever. The speech, he remarked, to which he was to reply,
was perhaps one of the most disorderly ever delivered in 'that
House. His public conduct, words, and writings, had not only
been misrepresented and arraigned in the severest terms, but con:-
fidential conversations had been unfairly brought forward for the
purpose of attempting to prove his political inconsistency. Such
were the instances of kindness which he had received from one
whom he always considered as his warmest friend ; but who after
an intimacy of' more than two-and-twenty years, had at last thought
proper, without the least provocation, to commence a personal at-
tack upon him. He could not conceive that the manner, in which
Mr. Fox had accused him of having spoken without information,
and unsupported by facts, appeared to manifest any great degree of
tenderness towards him. On the subject however of the French
revolution, uninformed as he might be supposed to be, he had not
the least objection to meet that right honourable gentleman hand •
to hand, and foot to foot, in a fair and temperate discussion. But
this it seemed was not the principal ground of quarrel ; he was
accused of having attempted to bring forward a discussion of
French principles, in order to fix a stigma upon certain republican
opinions, which Mr. Fox was said to have advanced in a former
debate. This clear` he denied in the most positive terms ; and
solemnly declared, ''that he had made no reference whatever to any
of Mr. Fox's speeches ; but that he had argued, as on every other
occasion, in a plain and simple manner. Mr. Fox himself was no
stranger to the subject, which he had proposed to introduce in that
night's debate. He had previously to the last conversation on the
Canada bill opened to Mr. Fox very folly and particularly the
plan of the speech in which he had now been interrupted ; he had
explained how flu- he intended to go, and what limits he meant to
impose upon himself, and had shewn him all the books, pamphlets,
and reports, which his friend had now supposed him not to have
read. This he had done at his own house, from whence they had
walked down together to that House, conversing upon the subject
the whole way. Mr. Fox had then indeed disagreed with him in
opinion, but entered into no quarrel with him. He had rather
been treated with confidence, and some private circumstances of a
political complexion had been mentioned to him, to which, not-
withstanding what had since happened, he felt no inclination to
allude.


For a variety of reasons he confessed that he wished to introduc e-


SEPARATION BETWEEN MR. FOX AND MR. BUM. 219


the subject of the French constitution, which he thought that he
might have done perfectly in order. In the first place, he felt
desirous of pointing out the danger of perpetually extolling
that preposterous edifice upon all occasions, and in the highest
strain. Mr. Fox had himself termed it " the most stupendous and
glorious edifice of liberty which had been erected on the fbunda-
tion of human integrity in any time or country." A second motive,
which had, indeed, some little influence over him, was of a more
personal nature. He had been accused both of writing and speak-
ing of the late proceedings in France rashly, unadvisedly, and
wantonly. This charge he was certainly anxious to refute ; but
at the very time when he was about to produce facts in corrobo-
ration of his assertions, blended with private information and
respectable authorities, lie was stopped in the most unfair and
disorderly manner. Had he been permitted to continue his
speech, he would have shewn, that the issue of all that had
been done, and of all that was then doing in France, could
never serve the cause of liberty, but would inevitably tend to
promote that of tyranny, oppression, injustice, and anarchy.


But what principally weighed with him, and determined him in
his conduct, was the danger that threatened our own government,
from practices, which were notorious to all the world. Were there
not clubs in every quarter, who met and voted resolutions of an
alarming tendency ? Did they not correspond, not only with
each other in everypart of the kingdom, but with foreign countries?
Did they not preach in their pulpits doctrines which were danger-
ous, and celebrate at their anniversary meetings proceedings in-
compatible with the spirit of the British constitution ? Did they
not every where circulate, at a great expellee, the most infamous
libels on that constitution ? At present he said that he apprehended
no immediate danger. The king was in full power, possessed of
all his functions ; his ministers were responsible for their conduct;
the country was blest with an opposition of strong force; and the
common people themselves seemed to be united with the ;gentle-
men in a column of prudence. Nevertheless he maintained, there
was still sufficient cause for jealousy and circumspection. In
France there were 300, 000


in arms, who at a favourable moment
might be happy to yield assistance ; besides, a time of scarcity and
tumult might come, when the greatest danger was to be dreaded
from a class of people, whom we might now term low intriguers,
and contemptible clubbists.


He again adverted to the unkindness with which Mr. Fox had
treated him, who had ripped up the whole course and tenour of
his public and private life, with a considerable degree of asperity.
The right honourable gentleman, after having fatigued him with
sk irmishes of order, which were wonderfully managed by the light
infantry of opposition, then brought down upon him the whole
st rength and heavy artillery of his own judgment, eloquence, and
abilities, to overwhelm him at once. In carrying on the attack
,against him, the right honourabic gentleman had been supporteV
'337 a corps of well-disciplined troops, expert in their manceuvres,


e •




20 QUEBEC BTU VRENCH REVOLUTION — [May 6.
and obedient to the word'of their commander'*. — [M •. Grey here
called Mr. Burke to order, conceiving that it was disorderly to men.
tion gentlemen in that way, and to ascribe improper motives to them]
Mr. Burke proceeded to remark, that he had frequently differed
from Mr. Fox in former instances, particularly on the subject of a
parliamentary reform, of the dissenters' bill, and of the royal mar-
riage act; but that no one difference of opinion had ever before
for a single moment interrupted their friendship. It certainly was
indiscreet at his time of life to provoke enemies, or give his friends
occasion to desert him ; yet if his firm and steady adherence to the
British constitution placed him in such a dilemma, he would risk
all ; and as public duty and public prudence taught him, with his
last breath, exclaim, " Fly from the French constitution !" [Mr,
Fox whispered, that there was no loss of friendship.] Mr. Burke
replied, Yes, there was — he knew the price of his conduct — he had
done his duty at the price qfhisfriend— their friendship seas at an
end. Afterwards, addressing himself to the two right honourable
gentlemen who were the great rivals in that House, he expressed
a hope, that, whether they hereafter moved in the political hemi-
sphere as two flaming meteors, or walked together like brethren
hand in hand, they would preserve and cherish the British consti-
tution ; that they would guard against innovation, and save it. from
the danger of those new theories. In a rapturous apostrophe to
the infinite and unspeakable power of the Deity, who, with his arm,
hurled a comet like a projectile out of its course—who enabled it
to endure the sun's heat, and the pitchy darkness of the chilly
night ; he said, that to the Deity must be left the task of infinite
perfection, while to us poor, weak, incapable mortals, there was no
rule of conduct so safe as experience. He concluded with moving
an amendment, that all the words of the motion, after " disser-
tations on the French constitution," should be omitted, and the


r'


followim, inserted in their room:—" tending to shew that examples
may be drawn therefrom ; and to prove that they are insufficient
for any good purposes, and that they lead to anarchy and confu-
sion, and are consequently unfit to be introduced into schemes
of government, are improper to be referred to on a motion for
reading the Quebec bill paragraph by paragraph."


Mr. Fox rose to reply but his mind was so much agitated
and his heart so much affected by what had fallen from Mr.


" it is probable that a little incident which happened in the course of
Mr. Burke's reply contributed to draw from him the expressions con-
sidered as disorderly by Mr. Grey. In his speech Mr. Fox had inti-
mated an intention of leaving the House, if the committee should suffer
NI's• Burke to proceed. While the latter gentleman was speaking, the for-
mer, being perhaps now resol v ed on a rejoinder, accidently went towards
the lobby for some trifling refreshment, with which he soon after returnel,
to Isis place. But in the mean time about twenty or thirty gentlemen, 0
those most personally attached to him, mistaking his departure for the
execution of his declared intention, rose from their seats, and followed 110
out of the House." Annual Register for 1791, p. 126.


1791,1 SEPARATION BETWEEN MR. FOX AND MR. BURKE. 221


Burke, that it was some minutes before he could proceed.
'fears trickled down his cheeks, and he strove in vain to give
utterance to feelings that dignified and exalted his' nature.
The sensibility of every member in the House appeared un-
commonly excited upon the occasion. Recovered at length
fi.om the depression under which he had risen, Mr. Fox pro-
ceeded to answer the assertions which had caused it.


He said, that however events might have altered the mind
of his right honourable friend, for so he must call him notwith-
standing what had passed, — because, grating as it was to any
man to be unkindly treated by those who were under obliga-
tions to him, it was still more grating and painful to be
unkindly treated by those to whom they felt the greatest obli-
gations, and whom, notwithstanding their harshness and
severity, they found they must still love and esteem — he
could not forget, that when a boy almost, he had been in
the habit of receiving favours from .his right honourable
friend, that their friendship had grown with their years,
and that it had continued for upwards of five-and-twenty years,
for the last twenty of which they .had acted together, and
lived on terms of the most familiar intimacy. He hoped,
therefore, that notwithstanding what had happened that day,
his right honourable friend would think on past times, and,
however any imprudent words or intemperance of his might
have offended him, it would shew that it had not been at
least intentionally his fault. His right honourable friend had
said, and said truly, that they had differed formerly on ninny
subjects, and yet it did not interupt their friendship. Let his
right honourable friend speak fairly and say, whether they
could not differ, without an interruption of their friendship,
on the subject of the French revolution, as well as on any of
their former subjects of difference. He enumerated, severally,
what those differences of opinion had been, and appealed to
!I's right honourable friend, whether their friendship had been.interrupted on any one of those occasions. In particular, he
sta iile, don the subject of the French revolution, the right ho-
nourable gentleman well knew that his sentiments differed
Widely from his own ; he knew also, that as soon as his book
on the subject was published, he condemned that book both
in Public and private, and every one of the doctrines it con-


Mr. Fox amain said, that he could not help feeling that his
/ight honourable friend's conduct appeared as if it sprung from
art intention to injure him, at least it produced the same
Leffec t, because the right honourable gentleman opposite to
"011 had chosen to talk of republican principles as principles


he wished to be introduced into the new constitution of




222 QUEBEC BILL — FRENCH REVOLUTION .— [May 6,
Canada, whereas his principles were very far from republican
in any degree. If, therefore, his right honourable friend had
thought* necessary to state to the House his sentiments en
the French revolution, he might have done it on any other
occasion, with less injury to him, than on the Quebec bill,
because his doing it then, confirmed and gave weight to the
misrepresentation of the right honourable gentleman opposite
to him, and not only that, it put it out of his power to
answer him properly. Besides he had, as every other man
must have, a natural antipathy and dislike to being catechised
as to his political principles. It was, he said, the first time
that ever he had heard a philosopher state, that the way to do
justice to the excellence of the British constitution was never
to mention it without at the same time abusing every other
constitution in the world. For his part, he had ever thought
that the British constitution in theory was imperfect and de-
fective, but that in practice it was excellently adapted to this


3country. He had often publicly said this; but because he
admired the British constitution, was it to be concluded that
there was no part of the constitution of other countries worth
praising, or that the British constitution was not still capable
of improvement ? He, therefore, could neither consent to-
abuse every other constitution, nor to extol our own so ex-
travagantly as the right honourable gentleman seemed to think
it merited. As a proof that it had not been thought quite
perfect, let the two only reforms of it be recollected that had
been attempted of late years ; the reform relative to the repre-
sentation in parliament of the right honourable the chancellor
of the exchequer, in 1783, and the reform in the civil list by
his right honourable friend. Was it expected that he should
declare the constitution would have been more perfect or
better without either of those two reforms ? To both had he
given his support, because he approved both; and yet they
were both tests, one to retrench the influence of the crown,
the other to enlarge the representation in that House; and
would his right honourable friend say that he was a bad man
for having voted for both ? He was, Mr. Fox said, an enemy to
all tests whatever, as he had hitherto thought the right ha
nourable gentleman was, and therefore he objected to any
man's being expected to have his political principles put to
the test, by his being obliged to abjure every other constitution
but our own. Such a mode of approving one's zeal for the
latter, reminded him of the man who signed the thirty-nine!
articles, and said he wished there were a hundred and thirty
nine more, that he might have signed them too, to prove Its
orthodoxy.


1791.] SEPARATION BETWEEN MR. FOX AND MR. BURKE• 223


Nothing but the ignominious terms which his right honour-
able friend had that day heaped on him. —[Mr. Burke said
loud enough to be heard, that he did not recollect he. had used
aq.] " My right honourable friend," said Mr. Fox, " does
not recollect the epithets: they arc out of his mind : then they
are completely and for ever out of mine. I cannot cherish a
recollection so painful, and, from this moment, they are ob-
literated and forgotten." Mr. Fox then pursued his argument,
and expressed his surprise that his right honourable friend had
talked of the friends who sat near him as a phalanx, and as
disciplined troops : if by that he meant that any improper in-
fluence had been exercised, or attempted to be exercised, on
their minds, he disclaimed the idea ; and indeed his right
honourable friend best knew, so long as he had acted with
them, when any such influence had been exercised over his
own mind. He declared he could not but be sorry that such
a character of a party, linked together on the most honourable
principles, should come from one of their own corps. He
had imagined, that his right honourable friend knew more of
them than to impute such conduct to men of their description.
The fact was, Mr. Fox said, that, upon his honour, no one of
the honourable gentlemen near him, who had risen that day
and called his right honourable friend to order, had been
desired by him to do so; on the contrary, wherever he thought
be was likely to have his application complied with, he had
earnestly intreated his friends not to interrupt the right
honourable gentleman.


He admitted that no friendship should exist in the way of
public duty; and if his right honourable friend thought he
did service to the country by blasting the French revolution,
he must do so, but at the time, he must allow others, who
thought differently, to act in a different manner. Mr. Fox
alluded to what Mr. Burke had quoted from Montesquieu,
and declared he agreed with Montesquieu in his observation
on the British constitution, but could not admit that Mon-
tesquieu meant to say that it was a model for all other coun-
tries. If he referred to what had passed in I780, the right
honourable gentleman would say that he raked into all the
transactions of his life. Mr. Fox declared he would not, unless
it redounded to his right honourable friend's honour, and to
die glory of his character.. And where could he find the
incident that did not? In the year 178o, it had been the
?pinion of that House, " that the influence of the crown had
Increased, was increasing, and ought to be diminished.". His
right honourable friend had subscribed to that resolution,
and thereby declared, that the constitution was not perfect
‘,,itliont such reduction. And would his right honourable




224 QUEBEC BILL---FRENCH REVOLUTION — - [May 6.


friend not grant to the French the same right that he had
himself exercised ? if the influence of the British crown,
which consisted in the civil list, in the army, navy, and the
power of giving places and honours, was so great as to be
thought dangerous, what, in the eyes of reflecting French.
men, must have been the extravagant influence of the crown
of France? With a civil list ten times as large as ours; with
a navy almost as large; an army tenfold; a church more
than tenfold ; must they not, as we had done, pursue the
course of diminishing its power? When, in addition to this;
they had to deplore the degree of corruption and despotism
into which the whole of their government had fallen, was
it not • right that they should endeavour to better their con-
dition, and to extricate themselves from their misery and
slavery?


His right honourable friend had said, that they must not
hear of the French constitution, because it was diametrically
opposite to ours. How that could be, he could not easily
comprehend. His right honourable friend had also asserted,
that evil must not be done, that good might come out of it;
that must be left to God alone. What, Mr. Fox asked, did
his right honourable friend think of the occasion of war?
War, in itself, was certainly an evil, civil war a moral evil,
and yet war was often commenced, that good might come
out of it. If original rights were totally to be disregarded,
Mr. Fox said, he should contend that the resistance of the
parliament to Charles the First, and the resistance of 1688,
had been very unjustifiable. But the original rights of men
were, in his opinion, the foundation of all governments and
all constitutions, which' were a compact between the go-
vernors and the governed, binding on both sides. He would
not say that the government of France was good. It was
undoubtedly capable of improvement, and would be amended
by degrees. How, he asked, -did we make our own govern-
ment? By sending to Greece or Rome for a pattern for our
constitution? No ! but by gradually improving our govern-
ment, which was ,bad at first, and which grew better in pro-
portion as experience suggested alteration. The French
would in time experience the defects of their- government,
and would have the same opportunities of correcting it.


With regard to his right honourable friend's enthusiastic
attachment to our constitution, in preference to all others,
did he remember when his majesty's speech was made in 1783,
on the loss of America, in which his majesty lamented the loss
the provinces had sustained, in being deprived of the advan-
tages resulting from a monarchy, how he had ridiculed that
speech, and compared it to a man's opening the door after be


179I.] SEPARATION BETWEEN MR.FOX AND MR.BURKE. 225


had left a room, and saying, " at our parting, pray let me
recommend a monarchy to you." In that ridicule, Mr. Fox
said, he had joined heartily at the time. The French, he
observed, had made their new government on the best of all
principles of a '


government, namely, the happiness of the
people who were to live under it. The French, it should be
considered, were a great nation; they were inferior to Eng-
land only, in arts, arms, the powers of reasoning, &c. Was
it not joyful, then, that she should have cast off the tyranny
of the most horrid despotism, and become free? Surely, we
did not wish that liberty should be engrossed by ourselves !
If his right honourable friend talked of light and shade, Mr.
Fox said, there was no shade so proper fin• the people of this
country, as the departed despotism of France; of which,
though no longer in existence, we seemed still to be afraid ;
and the French themselves, from a dread of the return of the
spectre, did many things which appeared extravagant and
absurd to us, who were cool observers of the scene passing in
France. A ludicrous image of this was given by our great
dramatic poet, when lie made Falstaff say, ' I fear this gun-
powder Percy, although he be dead." The right honourable
gentleman has said, that he shall lose my friendship, (con-
tinued Mr. Fox,) but that I assure him he shall not lose.
He has also said, he shall lose the friendship of the friends
around him, because he stands up for the constitution of this
country. I, however, hope that my friends are as fond of
that constitution as the right honourable gentleman is, and
that the example of France will make them cautious not to
run into the same errors, and give the same provocation to
the people.


With regard to tests, Mr. Fox said, he would not believe
his right honourable friend had altered his sentiments on that
head, till he saw him voting for one. France had established
a complete unequivocal toleration, and he heartily wished
that a complete toleration was also established in England.
Because troubles had happened at the time the French were
changing their constitution, should we say that they would
also happen in England, were any alteration made in our
constitution ? He must contend for the contrary; and as he
thought that the British constitution was capable of improve-
Meats, so did he think the greatest improvements might be
engrafted on it by degrees, with success, and without any
violation of the public tranquillity.


dir. Fox said, he lamented the difference that bad hap-
Pened,.hut he hoped, that when his right honourable friend
c.arne to turn in his mind all the circumstances that-had occa-
4zoned it, he would forget what was past. His right honour-


2




226 QUEBEC BILL •-•--ERENCII REVOLUTION [May 6.


able friend had said, that if he were to quote some of his ex-
pressions on particular occasions, he could prove his incon-
sistency. Mr. Fox acknowledged that no member of that
House was more apt to let expressions fall which, perhaps,
were rash and imprudent, than he was. He knew he had
done so ; but his right honourable friend never let any thing
all but what did him honour, and might be remembered to
his credit. Mr. Fox now proceeded to speak of the reasons
which had induced his right honourable friend and himself
to enter into a systematic opposition to the present adminis-
tration. This was not, he said, for the purpose of obtaining
power and emolument by the means of a faction, but he had
ever understood that they and their friends had formed a party
for supporting the true principles of the British constitution
and watching the prerogative. After expatiating on this, Mr.
Fox said, " Let the right honourable gentleman maintain
his opinions, but let him not blame me for having mine."
He then noticed the cruel and hard manner in which his right
honourable friend had used him, and spoke feelingly of the
pain it had given him. The course he should pursue, he
said, would be to keep out of his right honourable friend's
way, till time and reflection had fitted his right honourable
friend to think differently upon the subject ; and then, if their
friends did not contrive to unite them, he should think their
friends did not act as they had a right to expect at their hands.
If his right honourable friend wished to bring forward the
question of the French revolution on a future day, in that
case he would discuss it with him as temperately as he could;
at present he had said all that he thought necessary, and let
his right honourable friend say what he would more upon the
subject, he would make him no farther reply.


Mr. Burke again rose. He began with remarking, that the
tenderness which had been displayed in the beginning and co-
elusion of Mr. Fox's speech, was quite obliterated by what had
occurred in the middle part. He regretted, in a tone and manner
of earnestness and fervency, the proceedings of that evening, Which
lie feared Might long be remembered by their enemies to the pre-
judice of both. He was unfortunate to suffer the lash of Mr. Fox,
but he must encounter it. Under. the mask of kindness a neTf
attack, he said, was made upon his character and conduct in the
most hostile manner, and his very jests brought up in judgment
against him. He did not think the careless expressions and play
1111 triflings of his unguarded hours would have been recorded,
mustered up in the form of accusations, and not only have had
serious meaning imposed upon them, which they were never intended
to bear, but one totally inconsistent with any fair and candid ill'
terpretation. Could his most inveterate enemy have acted more
unkindly towards him? The event of that night's debate, in wide'`


1794.] SEPARATION BETWEEN MR. PDX AND
BURKE. 227


Ile bad been interrupted without being suffered to explain ;
in which


he bad been accused without being heard in his defence, made him
at a loss to understand what was either party or friendship. His
arguments had been misrepresented. He had never-affirmed . that
the English, like every other constitution, might not in some points
be amended. He had never maintained, that to praise our own
constitution, the best way was to abuse all others. The tendency"
dal] that had been said, was to represent him as a wild inconsistent
man, only forattaching bad epithets to a bad subject.


With the view of skewing his inconsistency, allusions had been
made to his conduct respecting his economical reform in 1780,
the American war, and the questions of 1784; but none of these
applied. If he thought, in 1780, that the influence of the crown
ought to be reduced to a limited standard, and with which Mr.
Fox himself, at the time, seemed to be satisfied, it did not follow
that the French were right in reducing it with them to nothing.
He was favourable to the Americans, because he supposed they
were fighting not to acquire absolute speculative liberty, but to
keep what they had under the English constitution ; and as to his
representation to the crown in 178 4, he looked back to it with self-
gratification, still thinking the saute. Yet lie knew not how to
devise a legislative cure for the wound then inflicted, as it came
from the people, who were induced to decide for the.crown, against
the independence of their own representatives. The inconsistency
of his book with his former writings and speeches, had been in-
sinuated and assumed, but he challenged the proof' by specific in-
stances ; and he also asserted, that there was not one step of his
conduct, nor one syllable of his book, contrary to the principles
of those men with whom our glorious revolution originated, and
to whose principles, as a Whig, he declared an inviolable attach-
ment. He was an old man, and seeing what was attempted to be
introduced instead of the ancient temple of our constitution, could
weep over the foundation of the new.


He again stated, still more particularly, the endeavours used in
this country to supplant our own by the introduction of the new
French .


constitution e but he did not .believe Mr. Fox at present
had that wish, and he did believe him to have delivered his opinions
abstractedly from any reference to this country: yet their effect
might be different on those who heard them, and still more on
others through misapprehension or misrepresentations. He re-
plied to the grounds on which Mr. Fox explained his panegyric.
The lesson to kings, he was afraid, would be of another kind. He
had heard Mr. Fox own the King of' France to be the best inten-
tioned sovereign in Europe. His good nature and love of his
People had ruined him. He had conceded every thing, till he was
now in a jail. The example of the confasions, on the other hand,
Would have very little operation when it was mentioned with tardy
and qualified censure, while the praises of the revolution weretrumpeted with the loudest blasts through the nation. He ob-
served ,


that Mr. Fox himself had termed the new French system
a most stupendous and glorious fabric of human integrity. He
4ad really conceived, that the right honourable gentleman pes-


2




223 9UEI3EC BILL—FRENCH REVOLUTION — [May


sessed a better taste in architecture, than to bestow so magnificent
an epithet upon a building composed of untempered mortar. He
considered it as the work of Goths .and Vandals, where every thing
was disjointed and inverted.


Mr. Burke again expressed his sorrow for the occurrences of that
day ; yet if the good were to many, he said that he would willingly
take the evil to himself. He sincerely hoped that no member of
that House would ever barter the constitution of his country, that
eternal jewel of his soul, for a wild and visionary system, which
could only lead to confusion and disorder. — Mr. Pitt, after having
made some remarks upon the singular situation, in which the House
then stood with respect to the question before it ; and. having de-
clared his own opinion to be, that Mr. Burke had not been, even
in the first instance, at all out of order, suggested the propriety
of withdrawing the motion which had been made by Lord Sheffield.
This being agreed to, the chairman reported progress, and asked
leave to sit again.


May t


The House went again into a committee on the bill. Nothing
material occurred till the clause relative to the constitution of the
legislative council was read, when,


Mr. Fox rose to oppose the clause, and object to the mode
of appointing the council. He said, that he would throw
out generally his ideas as to the means of substituting what
he could not but conceive to be a better mode of appointing a
council, than the mode adopted in the clause as it stood.
First, he laid it down as a principle never to be departed from,
that every part of the British dominions ought to possess
government, in the constitution of which monarchy, aristo-
cracy, and democracy were mutually blended and united;
nor could any government be a fit one for British subjects to
live under, which did not contain its due weight of aristo-
cracy, because that he considered to be the proper poise of
the constitution, the balance that equalized and meliorated
the powers of the two other extreme branches, and gave sta-
bility and firmness to the whole. [A loud cry of Hear! hear
It became necessary to look what were the principles on which
aristocracy was founded, and he believed it would be ad-
mitted to him, that they were two-fold, namely, rank and
property, or both united. In this country, the House of
Lords formed the aristocracy, and that consisted of here-
ditary titles, in noble families of ancient origin, or possessed
by peers newly created, on account of their extended landed
property.


/7911 SEPARATION BETWEEN 'MR. FOX AND MR.BURICE. 229


:qr. Fox said, that prejudice for ancient families, and that
sort of pride which belonged to nobility, was right to be en-
couraged in a country like this, otherwise one great incen-
tive to virtue would be abolished, and the national dignity,
as well as its domestic interest, would be diminished and
weakened. There was also such a thing to be remembered,
which gave additional honour to our House of Lords, as long
established respect for the persons and families of those who, in
consequence either of their own superior talents and eminent
services, or of one or both in their ancestors, constituted the
peerage. This, he observed, was by no means peculiar to
pure aristocracies, such as Venice and Genoa, nor even to
despotic or to mixed governments. It was to be found in
democracies, and was there considered as an essential part of
the constitution ; affection to those whose families had best
served the public, being always entertained with the warmest
sincerity and gratitude. Thus in the ancient. republics of
Athens and of Rome, they all knew the respect paid to those
who had distinguished themselves by their services for the
commonwealth.


Upon every ground of consideration, therefore, it would
be wise, and what was more, indispensably necessary, that
an aristocracy should make a branch of the constitution for
Canada; it was undoubtedly equally important with either
the popular or the monarchical. But then the nature of the
case must be considered; and he should therefore not advise
the giving Canada a servile imitation of our aristocracy, be-
cause we could not give them a House of Lords like our
Own. The right honourable the chancellor of the exchequer
appeared to be aware of this, and therefore he had recourse
to a substitute for hereditary nobility. It was, however, he
must contend, a very inadequate substitute, it was a sem-
blance but not a substance. Lords, indeed, we might give
them, but there was no such thing as creating that reverence
and respect for them, on which their dignity and weight in
the view of both the popular and monarchical part of the
constitution depended, and which alone could give them
.that power of controul and support that was the object of
their institution. If Canada should grow into a great midflourishing colony, (and lie trusted that it would,) as it was
removed at such a distance from the principal seat of par-
liament, it was the more necessary to make the council, in
a considerable degree, independent of the governor and
the people; because, the province being so far off; the power
of controul could not be properly exercised by that House,
with a view to the calling upon the responsibility of ministers,
and punishing them for any abuse of the prerogative, by


3




230 QUEBEc BILL — FRENCH REVOLUTION — [May x


giving wrong advice to the council, through the medium a
the governor. This was, he said, a clear argument why the
council ought not to be appointed by the crown.


Property, Mr. Fox said, was, and had ever been held to
be the true foundation of aristocracy. And when he used the
word aristocracy, he did not mean it in the odious sense of
aristocrat, as it had been lately called — with that he had
nothing to do. He meant it in its true sense, as an indispen-
sably necessary part of a mixed government, under a free
constitution. Instead, therefore, of the king's naming the
council at that distance -- in which case they


king's
no security


that persons of property, and persons fit to be named, would
be chosen — wishing, as he did, to put the freedom and sta-
bility of the constitution of Canada on the strongest basis, he
proposed that the council should be elective. But how
elective? Not as the members of the house of assembly were
intended to be, but upon another footing. He proposed
that the members of the council should not be eligible to
be elected unless they possessed qualifications infinitely
higher than those who were eligible to be chosen members of
the house of assembly, and in like manner the electors of
the members of council must possess qualifications also pro-
portionably higher than those of the electors to representa-
tives in the house of assembly. By this means, Mr. Fox
said, they would have a real aristocracy chosen by persons of
property from among persons of the highest property, and who
would thence necessarily possess that weight, influence, and
independency, from which alone could be derived a power
of guarding against any innovations that might be made,
either by the people on the one part, or the crown on the
other.


Iii answer to this proposition, Mr. Fox observed, it might
possibly be said to him, if you are decidedly in favour of an
elective aristocracy, why do you not follow up your own
principle, and propose to abolish the House of Lords; and
make them elective? For this plain reason, because the Bri-,
tish House of Lords stood on the hereditary, known, and
acknowledged respect of the country for particular institu-
tions; and it was impossible to put an infant constitution
upon the same footing. It would be as ridiculous to say, you
shall have a House of Lords like that in England, as for a
person in his closet to make and say what degree of reverence
and respect should belong to them. From what he had said,
Mr. Fox remarked, that he might possibly he deemed an ad-
vocate for aristocracy singly ; he might, undoubtedly, with
as much reason as he had been called a repnblican. Those
who had pretended that he was a favourer of democrati-01


1791.] SEPARATION BETWEEN AIR.E0X AND MR.BURKE. '2.31
principles, had surely read very little, and- little understood
the subject. He mentioned the American governments, and
said, he thought they had acted wisely, when upon finding
themselves reduced to the melancholy and unfortunate situa-
tion of being obliged to change their governments, they had
preserved as much as they possibly could of the old form of
their governments, and thus made that form of government
which was best for themselves; most of which consisted of
the powers of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy blended,
though under a different name. In order to shew that his
idea of an elective council was not a new one, he said that
before the Revolution, more of the councils in our colonies
were elected by the people than the king.


Mr. Fox said, he had thus generally stated the outline of
his proposition, upon which he did not mean to take the


, sense of the committee, unless it should be the general opi-
nion that it ought to be adopted. If he did take the sense
of the committee, and their sense should be against him, he
should then propose that the council should either be all at
the nomination of the king, or all hereditary. He believed
that any council chosen in any manner would be better than
none; to have them elective as he had stated, he seriously
thought would be best, but it would be more detrimental than
even the not having an elective council, that the governor
should be left to himself, to decide alone. He remembered
it had been once said, when talking of representation ., that
any five hundred and fifty-eight gentleman who could be
first stopped at Hyde-park turnpike, and assembled in that
House, would be of as much service to the people as they
were. Mr. Fox said, lie by no means agreed with the pro-
position, or any one equally extravagant; but many were
always a check to one, and a governor might decide in his
closet upon a measure so foolish and so wicked, that he would
not have the face to state to any number of persons. The
very circumstance of a governor being obliged to have his
opinion canvassed by many, was a positive advantage; and
discussion, he was satisfied, always produced good. After
putting this pointedly, he said, if there were to be here-
ditary members of the council, they ought all to be so.


• The
check upon making peers here he had ever considered as
attended with this advantage, that when the . king made a
Peer, he recollected that he entailed an hereditary legislature
oil the country. A doubt existed, Mr. Fox said, whether
the king had a right to make a peer for life, without his
title being hereditary, and at this time he understood there


such a juridical question collaterally existing in the
' rouse of Lords, which was a clear proof that the practice


4




232
QUEBEC BILL — FRENCH REVOLUTION— [May


was unknown. If the crown had such a power, the life
peers might overwhelm the hereditary peerage, and thus
destroy the constitutional controul of the aristocracy, in
case they attempted to resist the crown. Thus under pre,
tence of aristocracy, lords might be introduced as mere tools
of the minister, . and give government an opportunity to de-
stroy the constitution, and exercise despotic power in the
most open shape. If, however, such a use of the prerogative
should be exerted, he had no doubt but it would be soon
remedied.


In the province of Canada, Mr. Fox continued to observe,
the introduction of nobility was peculiarly improper, for a
variety of reasons. In fact, there was a sort of nobility there
already, namely, the Seigneurs, who were utterly unfit, and
were not respected enough to be made hereditary nobles.
And yet would ministers, he asked, pass by the real nobility
of the country, the Seigneurs, and create a set of people
over them, whom the world called nobility, and invest them
with hereditary honours ? By the bye, the sort of titles
meant to be given were not named in the bill ; he presumed
the reason was, that they could not be named without creat-
ing laughter. Having thus gone through his proposition,
Mr. Fox generally remarked, that so necessary was aristo-
cracy to all governments, that, in his opinion, the destruction
of all that had been destroyed, could be proved to have arisen
from the neglect of the true aristocracy, upon which it de-
pended whether a - constitution should be great, energetic,
and powerful. He explained that he was so far a republican,
that he approved all governments where the res publica was
the universal principle, and the people, as under our consti-
tution, had considerable weight in the government. Mr.
Fox concluded with declaring emphatically, that true aristo-
cracy gave a country that sort of energy, that sort of spirit,
and that sort of enterprize which always made a country great
and happy.


Mr. Burke desired the protection of the House to the situation
in which he stood. He found that sentence of banishment from
his party had been pronounced against him *. The House, he


See Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, Burke's Works, Vol.vi.
p. 74. The following paragraph appeared in the Morning Chronicle of
the rzth of May 17 9 1 :—" The great and firm body of the Whigs 01.
England, true to their principles, have decided on the dispute betw-eee,
Mr. Fox and Mr. Burke; and- the former is declared to have maintained
the pure doctrines by which they are bound together, and upon which
they have invariably acted. The consequence is, that. Mr.Burke retires
from parliament."


i791.] SEPARATION BETWEEN MR. FOX AND MR. BURKE. 233


hoped, would not consider him as a bad man, although he had been
banished by one party, and was too old to seek another. Being
thus, without any just cause, separated from his former friends, he
confessed that he severely felt his loss ; but that, what he felt like


man, he would bear like a man. He trusted, at least, that he
should meet a fair and open hostility, to which he would oppose
himself with manly firmness, for the very short period that he
should continue a member of that House. He then once more
asserted the purity of his motives ; and complained of the imputa-
tations thrown upon his conduct. And as to the charge of abusing
republics, in order to recommend monarchy, lie affirmed that he
had never abused any republic, ancient or modern, but lie had not
termed France a republic : no, it was an anomaly in government ;
lie knew not by what name to call it, nor in what language to de-
scribe it. It Was a compound (and he recited the verses from Mil-
ton) of the sublimely obscure and tremendous figure of death,
having the likeness of a kingly crown upon the seeming head, with
the cry of hell-hounds, that bark unceasingly round the waist of
sin. It was a shapeless monster, born of hell and chaos. On the
subject of the clause, he contended, that in a monarchy the aristo-
cracy must ever be nearer to the crown than to the democracy,
because it originated in the crown as the fountain of honour ; but
in those governments which partook not of any thing monarchical,
the aristocracy there necessarily sprang out of the democracy.
He denied property to be the sole foundation of aristocracy. Ile
pointedly condemned a close, and praised an open, aristocracy. The
power of rewarding virtue and talents by a peerage, lie considered
as a royal prerogative of the most beneficial kind. He entered
into an analysis of the House of Lords; and finally objected to
the council proposed by Mr. Fox, which he thought in fact to be
of a democratical constitution. Neither did he find any recom-
mendation of it from experience ; and in proof of this, he went at
length into the constitutions of the American colonies before their
independence, shewing that all equally rebelled. He afterwards
recurred to his own situation; and defining the distinction between
a faction and a party, declared, that lie might be of a faction, but
could not be of a party with those who continued to reprobate
the principles of his book. He then touched on some other points
personal to himself. He complained of being obliged to stand
upon his defence by that right honourable gentleman who, when a
young man, in the vigour of his abilities, at the age of fourteen
years, had been brought to him, and evinced the most promising
talents, which he had used his best endeavours to cultivate ; and
this man who had arrived at the maturity of being the most
brilliant and powerful debater that ever existed, had described him
as having deserted and abandoned every one of his principles ! In
saying what he had upon the subject, he was conscious that he
had done his duty ; and hoped that he had in some measure
averted, what might otherwise have affected the downfal of our
Justly boasted constitution—supported by such reflections, he was
not deprived of consolation, although excluded from his party ; a




2 34 QUEBEC BILL—TRENCH REVOLUTION— [May 1 1.
gloomy solitude might reign around him, but all was unclouded:
sunshine within.


Mr. Fox said, in reply, that however the right honourable
gentleman might be unkind enough to impute democratical
or republican sentiments to him, he could assure him that his
sentiments, whether on religion or any other topic, always
made a due impression on his mind. He said, that he did not
like bestowing fulsome and unnecessary praises on the English
constitution; they reminded him of a passage in one of our
best poet's best plays; he meant, he said, king Lear ; who
asks his three daughters how much they love him ? Goneril
and Regan answer him in terms of the most extravagant
and studied panegyric ; but when he puts the same question
to Cordelia, she answers just as he would answer the same
sort of question, if it were put to him respecting the constitu-
tion, when he should say, he loved the constitution of Great
Britain just as much as a subject of Great Britain ought to
love a government under which he enjoyed such blessings.
They were all, Mr. Fox said, bound to love a constitution
under which they lived happily, and whenever it should really
be attacked, all he should say was, that he would not be found
the most inactive in its defence. With regard to the right
honourable gentleman's declaration, that he was separated
from the party, if he was so separated, it must be his own
choice; and if he should repent that separation, he might be
assured his friends would ever be ready to receive him, to
respect him, and to love him, as heretofore. With regard to
the situation of the seignories in Canada, the right honour-
able gentleman had shewn himself weak in- that part of his
argument, and had evaded an answer ; and the right honour-
able gentleman on the same bench with him was utterly and
completely ignorant of the fact — he did not mean ignorant in
an invidious sense of the word. Let the two right honour-
able gentlemen enquire farther, and they would find that he
was right in his declaration, because there was no stuff to in-
graft hereditary honours upon,. no rank of persons at all qua-
lified to receive those honours. The right honourable gentle-
man near him, Mr. Fox observed, had said he preferred an
open aristocracy to a close one ; he would spew that the sort
of aristocracy that he had recommended could not be a close
aristocracy, which he disapproved as much as the right ho-
nourable gentleman himself: 'With regard to the declaration
of the right honourable gentleman near him, that the whole
must' be governed by experience—experience was, -undoubt-
edly, a very good general guide in most matters, but it was
rather a strange argument to resort to in the present instance,


13


1791.] SEPARATION BETWEEN MR. FOX AND MR. BURKE. 23;


for which there never had existed a precedent. There was
no colony, ancient or modern, that ever had precisely the
same constitution : it resembled that of some of the American
states, but that of Massachusets the most nearly of any.


Mr. Fox then took notice of Mr. Pitt's having said, that
ids principles were so. far republican as he had described. Mr.
Fox declared he had no difficulty to admit that his principles
were so far republican, that he wished rather to give the
crown less power and the people more, where it could be
done with safety, in every government old or new ; and from
that principle it was, that whenever any bills for that purpose
had been introduced, he had given them his support, and
the right honourable gentleman opposite to him, he observed,
had maintained republican principles, according to his own
mode of defining the word republican ; for he had made
several propositions of that kind to the House, and it was
well known that the right honourable gentleman near him had
done the same; they were equally chargeable, therefore, with
republican principles ; and to the extent that he had de-
scribed, Mr. Fox said, he was extremely willing, nay, de-
sirous, to remain chargeable. 'With regard to foreign colo-
nies, he was of opinion that the power of the crown ought to
be kept low. It was impossible to fores9 what would be the
fate of distant colonies at a distant period of time; but in giv-
ing them a constitution, his idea was, that it was our interest,
as well as our duty, to give them as much liberty as we could,
to render them happy, flourishing, and as little dependent as
possible. We should make the free spirit of our own consti-
tution applicable, wherever we could render it so ; and if there
was any risk or danger in so doing, he was persuaded the
danger was not greater on one side than on the other ; indeed,
he thought the more despotic the constitution we gave a
colony, the more we made it the interest of that colony to get
rid of such constitution . ; and it was evident the American
states had revolted, because they did not think themselves
sufficiently free.


Mr. Fox summed up this part of his argument, by declar-
ing, that he was decidedly of opinion that the constitution of
this country was more liable to be ruined by an increase of the
power of the crown, than by an increase of the power of the
people. He next took notice of what Mr. Burke had said of
inflammatory publications. If any dangerous doctrines were
disseminated in pamphlets, he said it behoved the government
to look to them, and in case the law officers of the crown
failed in doing so, it was then the duty of that House to re-
raind the ministers of their neglect. He owned, however,tm.
that for his part, he was of opinion that free discussions of the




236 QUEBEC BILL — FRENCH REVOLUTION, &c. [May rt.
principles of the constitution ought to be suffered. If the
constitution had oppdsers, it would also have-advocates, and
the snore it was discussed the better. Ile hinted that it Was
misusing the functions and privileges of that House, for any
member to come down, and by holding long discourses, per-
sonal to himself; and relative to imaginary plots, which he
(Mr. Fox) really believed had no foundation in fact, prevent a
committee from doing its duty, and examining the clauses of
a bill of great importance. It was their duty also to look
to the conduct of the executive government, to watch and
examine the measures of ministers, and to guard, check,
and control the public expenditure. For any gentleman to
suppose, that by the authority of discussions on personal topics
in that House, what he said there would have any effect on
public opinion, respecting a matter to which they had made
up their mind, he believed it would be found a vain and fruit-
less expectation.


Mr. Burke retorted on Mr. Fox for what he had said respecting
the eulogies on the constitution. He said, they were at least as
useful as that right honourable gentleman's almost daily professions
of admiration of the revolution in France. As the right honour-
able gentleman had thought proper to appeal to a passage from one
poet in praise of the constitution, he would take the liberty of
remembering another line from another poet,—" Qui non dcfendit,
alio culpante.' He referred to the hooks that were in circulation,
and said, there was serious cause for alarm, when associations pub-
licly avowed doctrines tending to alienate the minds of all who
read them from the constitution of their country, especially at a
time when it was notorious that it was systematically run down
abroad, and declaimed against as the worst in existence. He again
reminded the committee, from how trivial a commencement Lord
George Gordon's riots began, in consequence of which London
had bowed its head so low. Tie took notice of what had been
said, that if he would repent, he would be received. He stood,
he said, a man publicly disgraced by his party, and therefore the
right honourable gentleman ought not to receive him. He declared
he had gone through his youth without encountering any party
disgrace ; and though he had then in his age been so unfortunate
as to meet it, he did not solicit the right honourable gentleman's.
friendship, nor that. of any man, either on one side of the House
or the other.


Thus ended a friendship which had lasted for more than the
fourth part of a century ! The clause was agreed to, and on the
18th of May, the bill passed the commons.


1791.] MOTION roit A REPEAL OF THE TEST ACT. 2 3 7


MOTION FOR A REPEAL OF THE TEST Ac's, AS FAR AS IT
EXTENDS TO SCOTLAND.


May r o.


IHE church of Scotland perceiving a disposition in parliamentto grant relief to non-conformists, transmitted on the 18th of
April, from the general assembly, a petition, praying fhr the repeal
of the Test Act as far as it applied to Scotland ; and on the
loth of May, Sir Gilbert Elliot moved, " That this House will
immediately resolve itself into a committee of the whole House, to
consider how far the povisions of the act of the 25th of Charles II.,
entituled, An act for preventing dangers which may happen from
popish recusants,' (which require persons who are admitted into
any office, civil or military, or any place of trust, under the crown,
to receive the sacrament of the Lord's supper, according to the
rites of the church of England, ) extend, or ought to extend,
to persons born in that part of Great Britain called Scotland."
The motion was supported by Mr. Pulteney, Mr. Anstruther,
Sir Adam Ferguson, and Mr. Fox ; and opposed by Mr. Duridas,
the Master of the Rolls, and Mr. Pitt.


Mr. Fox said, that although lie had introduced a motion
for the general repeal of the test act, and had declared him-
self ready to move, or to support such a motion, as often as
those who felt themselves aggrieved by that act, should think
proper to bring it forward, he could have wished rather to
have heard the arguments of other gentlemen on the present
occasion, than to repeat those which he himself had perhaps
already used. There were, he said, in this country various
descriptions of men; with respect to the opinions they enter-
tained on religion, some professed themselves the friends of
toleration in the utmost extent of the word, some of tolera-
tion in a limited sense, some of establishments, and some of
public worship independent of establishments. He professed
himself the friend of toleration without any restriction, and
at the same time of an established church ; and every argu-
ment that could be advanced in support of either was ap-
plicable to the support of the present motion.


Notwithstanding all that had been said of the history of
the union, the discussions, and the acts of parliament that
Preceded it, there appeared to him a considerable degree of
doubt, whether the test act did or did not apply to members
of the church of Scotland, and therefore he thought the
motion for going into a committee to enquire how the law
stood, extremely proper. Those who contended, that by the
act of union the test act was meant to apply to members of




238 MOTION FOR A REPEAL OF THE [May ic.
the church of Scotland, viewed the question only on ono
side. They called in the evidence of history to prove, that
if it had been understood, that the test act was not to be thus
applied, the people of England would not have consented to
the union. It was just as fair for him to take the other side,
and contend, that if it had been understood that the test act
was so to apply, the people of Scotland would not have con-
sented. That Scotland had derived great advantages from
the union, would not now, he apprehended, be called fa
question. That England had also derived great advantages,
was no less certain. The advantages, perhaps, were equal;
but it was no panegyric on the act of union, that the pre-
judices of both countries were so strong at the time of con-
cluding it, as to prevent the fair and open discussion of all
the considerations that ought to have entered into it. The
violent friends to the test act, — aild the violent friends to
that act (without having taken much pains to enquire who they
were) he sincerely believed to have been generally the enemies
to every thing that was great and good, — had always insisted
upon it, as so intimately connected with the civil and religious
constitution of the country, that it could in no case be given
up ; and therefore that it must necessarily have been included
with respect to Scotland in the act of union. Mr. Fox then
went over the material circumstances of the union, from
which he inferred, that the point was at least doubtful. There
was no mention of the test in the act of union, and supposing
there had been a test in Scotland previous to the union, of
which also no mention was made, would it have followed that
such a test must apply to both countries ? This, he thought,
would hardly be maintained, it would not have been as strong
in the one case as it was in the other.


People in this country were, he said, too apt to consider
the people of Scotland as having come to them ; as having
been annexed to the crown of England in the nature of a
province ; whereas, in fact, the two countries treated and
contracted as two independent kingdoms, which they really
were ; and whatever right or privilege was secured to the one,
was equally secured to the other. The establishment and de-
scription of the church of Scotland was as much secured in
law as the establishment and description of the church of
England. They were very properly put upon equal terms.
Was it consistent, then, with this equality, that a member a
the church of Scotland, as a qualification for a post as an
English officer, not for an officer in the English church, or
an English corporation, but a British officer, an officer in
the British army or navy, should make a solemn profession,
of attachment, not to the establishment of ethe church 01


1791.] TEST ACT IN SCOTLAND. 239
Scotland, but to .that of the church of England ? It never
could be the intention, as a right honourable gentleman (Mr.
pundas) had explained it, that members of the two establish-
nwnts should communicate with either. It was never under-
stood, that a member of the church of Scotland, in order to
enjoy the advantages of the union, should communicate with
the church of England. He was told, that the members of
the church of Scotland had no objection to communicate with
the church of England. This he could neither admit nor
deny, on any knowledge of his own ; but he well knew that
the other part of the position, were this motion ever to come
before the House of 'Lords, where the heads of the church
of England were, would be formally denied them. Now,
how was the line of distinction to be drawn ? By a natural
or geographical limit? If a man to the north of the Tweed
accepted of an imperial office, he was not to communicate
with the church by law established there; but if he accepted
of the office on the other side of the Tweed, he was required
to do so, under heavy pains and penalties. There was no
law to prevent the king from residing in Scotland. Suppose
he were to do so, he might appoint all his officers of state,
without any one of them being obliged to qualify according
to the test act, and let in all the imaginary dangers to church
and state, against which he was held up as the impregnable
barrier. A person receiving his majesty's orders to raise a
regiment in Scotland, might there appoint all his officers
without any test; but the moment they came into England
they must take the test within a time limited, or incur the
penalty of outlawry.


But it had been said, as the law was never enforced, these
inconveniences were mere theories. If it was not enforced.
why suffer it to remain? for a law not executed was, if possible,
more theoretic than theory itself The penalties, however,
were not theoretic, because not enforced. Their execution
depended neither on the church nor on the government, but
on the will of any malicious person who might choose to turn
informer, — if, indeed, it was fair to call any man malicious,
for doing what the law directed him to do, and held out -a
reward for doing. Of all the penal statutes, the constant
defence was, that they were not executed. A very irrational
defence to be sure ! And this was strengthened by a demand
of " shew me the practice." Thank God, Mr. Fox said, he
could not shew the practice ! The wisdom of the legislature
bad taken care, from time to time, that the practice should
Rot appear -; but there could not be a stronger argument that
they were not fit to remain as laws than the general con-
currence of mankind, that they were not fit to be acted upon.




240 MOTION FOR A REPEAL OF THE
[May 1 IF


But they were retained for the safety of the church 1 It wfis
an ill compliment to the church of England to say, that she
could not support herself by the purity of her doctrines, and
the good example of her members, without a provision by
law; that not only all those educated in her bosom, but those
educated in the bosom of another church, should make a
profession of attachment to her, as a qualification for civil
offices; while the church of Scotland, her neighbour, not
only required no such protection, but apprehended no clanger
from her sons being obliged to profess attachment to another,
in order to enjoy the common rights of subjects. A right
honourable gentleman had said, that the church of Scotland
was secure in her poverty, which dreaded no attack. Had he
any reason to believe, from the history of his country, that
poverty was an adequate protection ? Was no attack made
upon her by the episcopal bigotry of Charles I.? Was none
to be apprehended from the Roman Catholic bigotry of
James II.? Was not the fear of some such future danger as
rational a fear as that kept up by the clamour of faction for
the safety of the church of England, at the time of the
union, a clamour to which, fortunately, parliament did not
listen? Both were now equally imaginary. What reasonable
objection, then, could remain to discuss how the law stood in
consequence of the union ?


As a friend to an established church, lie was an enemy to
the distinction which the test set up between the two established
religions of the country. For what was the consequence?
If a man born in one part of the kingdom conformed to the
law and religion of the country, accepted a public office, he
was called on not to profess his attachment to that religion,
but to examine the doctrine and discipline of ancther, and to
make a solemn profession of attachment to it, which, in the
opinion of many, amounted to a disapprobation of that in
which he had been educated. Was not this a mockery of
establishments? It was, indeed, said, that this was no de'
reliction : but, in discussing the general repeal of the test act,
was it not generally said to be a profession, that he who took
it was of the religion of the state? Was not this the argu-
ment at all the public meetings called for the `purpose of
opposing the repeal ? Was it not the answer to the alleged
profanation of a sacrament, that it was not taken on accoun .
of an office, but as an act of religion, which he who took it‘
was bound to perform, without any regard to public office f
What was the religion of the state as thus explained ?— The
religion of the church of England. Must not, then, the
church of Scotland feel that she was not considered in the


I] TEST ACT IN SCOTLAND. 241119'


same light with the church of England, that she was 'not in
the situation to which, as part of the established religion of
the country, she was entitled ? The very name of the test
ought alone to supersede all these arguments. If they were
to say with a right honourable gentleman, to whose argument
be had before alluded, that the test meant nothing but a pro-
fession, that he rho took it entertained no hostile ideas against
the establishment; that he was ready to communicate with
"either church ; that he who WaS Of the church of Scotland
when out of office, might communicate with the church of
England when in; let that explanation be given, by which
neither religion nor politics would be much benefited.


Notwithstanding what a learned gentleman had said, with
respect to the origin of the present motion, he was satisfied
from what he had heard, that it had originated, as stated by
the honourable baronet who moved it, in the unanimous
opinion of the general assembly, that the test act, as appeared
to members of the church of Scotland, was a grievance, and
their unanimous vote to apply for redress. It might, fin- any
thing he knew, be considered in Scotland as a solecism to
apply to parliament, when they had reason to believe that his
majesty's ministers were not inclined to favour their applica-
tion : but it was not, and he trusted never would be, consi-
dered as improper or unseasonable in this country, for any
subject or class of subjects, to apply to parliament for relief
from a grievance, whatever might be the disposition of those
in power. It had been farther observed, that the application
came from the clergy of Scotland only; and it was asked, why
the sense of the people had not been taken ? After alt they
had lately heard, of alarms in the minds of the people, (vain
alarms, in his opinion!) was it wise, was it politic, was it like
statesmen, when a proposition came before them from a
respectable body, founded on sense and reason, to set it afloat
among the people, and desire them to hold public meetings,
and discuss its merits for the instruction of the legislature?
The history of the union afforded no rule on the subject.
Both parties were afraid to come fairly to the question. The
great men of that period were obliged to yield to the preju-
dices of the times. The House would recollect how fin' short
of their own opinions they had been obliged to set up in re-


oat


necessity ?


gRoman catholics. "Was it, then, 'to be wondered at,
eighty years ago Lord Cowper, and the statesmen with


whom he acted, should have yielded to the same sort of


, With regard to religion, there were few acts on the statute
'00k which ought not to be completely expunged. Instead


*VOL. yry.




242- MOTION PO% A. REPEAL OP THE [May lc,
of that, they busied themselves in explaining, mitigating, or
suspending; and whenever the only proper remedy was men,
tioned, the answer was, " they arc not executed ;" the very
worst character that could be given of them ! This had been
the answer to all the propositions that had been lately made.
Ought not the House at last to see, that laws, unlit to be exe.,


,


cuted, that were sometimes the instrument of partial oppres-
sion, but never of public benefit, were not fit to remain?
They were well described by a learned and orthodox prelate
as " dangerous weapons laid in the way, which no good malt
would use, and which ought not to lie there as a temptation
to the bad." Mr. Fox said, that he was a complete friend to
religious establishments, on the same ground that he was a
friend to toleration. He thought it highly proper that
system of instruction for the improvement of morals should
be provided for in every country; but highly proper also that
those who dissented from that system should incur no penal-
ties, should suffer no disabilities on account of their dissent,
because, to admit of religious instruction, whatever character
it assumed, as far as it contributed to inculcate morals, was
to enlarge the sphere of religion. Many eminent divines
of the church of England were of this opinion. Among others,
Dr. Paley, a most orthodox writer, in his chapter of Reli-
gious Establishments and of Toleration, after discussing all
the branches of the subject, had concluded with approving of
a church establishment, joined to a complete toleration of all
dissenters. '"


To get rid of a charge that was frequently put on those
who argued as he did, he should wish to know precisely,
whether the test was 'a political or a religious act. When he
called it a political act, he was told that it was an act for the
security of religion, and, as such, by the union was made
perpetual. When he called it a religious and persecuting act,
he was told that it was a mere regulation of civil government,
and had nothing to do with religion. It had, indeed, no-
thing to do with religion in its origin. It was intended merely


-to keep, out papists — an unwise expedient, in his opinion, to
attain an unwise end ; and now that the object of it existed
no longer, it could be considered onl y as an instrumen t of
religious persecution. The church of England could never
be in danger but from building her safety on intolerant
principles, and making that a pretext for opposing the exten-
sion of religious freedom. This, however, was gaining ground


See Paley's Moral Philosophy, Vol. ii. p. 344.


1191.] TEST ACT IN SCOTLAND. 243
h ) other countries, and would continue to do so. This coml.-
tra, he hoped, would not be the last to adopt it. The ques-
tion of toleration he should always be ready to meet, when-
ever it was fairly and properly brought forward, and the
oftener, he thought, the better ; for there was DO question
that gained more by discussion— no question, the discussion
of which contributed so much to the improvement of religion,
of morals, and of happiness. On this general ground, he
supported the motion, as well as on the particular grounds lie
had already stated.


One argument that might be urged against it, Mr. Fox
said, he wished yet to obviate. If it were doubtful whe-
ther the test act did apply to members of the church of
Scotland, it might be said, why not try the question in the
regular course of law ? This might, indeed, be proper in a
civil case, but could hardly be done under a penal statute.
If it were doubtful whether a particular act was a capital
offence, it would be rather hard to say, Do you commit the
act, and whether you are hanged or acquitted, the law will be
clear. If any gentleman were disposed to try this question,
and the law should be explained to be against him, he would
be condemned to a fine of five hundred pounds, which many
gentlemen might readily pay ; but the rest of the penalty, to
be rendered incapable of holding any public office ever after,
of being an administrator or executor, or of receiving a legacy,
was rather too much for any gentleman to be expected to risk.
There could be no objection to enquiring how the law stood,
and the declaration of the House might be considered as a
safe guide. Mr. Fox concluded with declaring that he would
give his hearty support to the motion.


The House divided:




Tellers. Tellers.


2. NOES
S 149-
{Mr. John Smyth 1YEAS 1 Mr. G. Elliot / 6


1 Sir J. Erskine
Mr. Rose


So it passed in the negative.


R 2




11


2 44 MR. Fox's LIBEL BILL.
[May zos


MR. Fox's LIBEL BILL.


May 2o.


C O early as the 2Ist of February, Mr. Fox gave notice of two
" questions which it was his intention to bring forward in the
course of the present session. He declared he had not quite


* The declaratory statute 3z Geo. M. c. Go. (says Mr. Howell, State
Trials, vol. p. 36.) has fully established the right of juries in criminal
prosecutions for libels, to give general verdict of guilty or not guilty,
upon the whole matter put in issue upon the indictment or information,'
This statute originated in the House of Commons, where the motion for
the bill was made by Mr. Fox, and seconded by Mr. Erskine. Most
undoubtedly the success of the bill is in a very high degree to be attributed
to the inflexible constancy and unremitted zeal, with which the latter of
these two great men had exerted the vast powers of his eloquence in
maintenance of those rights of juries, which the statute asserts. Not.
withstanding it had been declared by magistrates of the greatest learning,
that the establishment of such a system would produce infinite confusion
and disorder ; nevertheless, so it is, that since the indisputable establish-
ment of this system, no confusion whatever has occurred, the functions of
judges and juries have been executed within their respective limits; without
any competition for jurisdiction ; to the advancement of justice, and to the
dignity of its administration. The change which has been operated by
the statute cannot be more perspicuously stated, nor can its beneficial
effects be more happily illustrated, than in the following passage, which I
extract from a note on the subject of the trial of the Dean of St. Asaph,'
in the Speeches of the honourable Thomas Erskine' (now Lord Erskine),
&g. vol. i. p. 382.


" The venerable and learned chief justice (Lord Mansfield) undoubtedly
established by his argument, that the doctrine so soon afterwards con-
demned by the unanimous sense of the legislature, when it passed the
Libel Act, did not originate with himself; and that he only pronounced
the law as he found it, established by a train of modern decisions. But,
supported as we now are by this judgment of parliament; we must venture
to differ from so truly great an authority. The Libel Bill does not confer
upon the jury any jurisdiction over the law, inconsistent with the general
pr inciple of the constitution; but, considering that the question of libel
or no libel is frequently a question of fact rather than of law, and in
many cases of fact and law almost inseparably blended together; it directs
the judge, as in other cases, to deliver his opinion to the jury upon the
whole matter, including of course the question of libel or no libel, leasing
them at the same time to found their verdicts upon such whole matter,
brought before them as in all other criminal cases. The best answer W
the apprehensions of the great and eminent chief justice, aregardinthu
course of proceeding, as then contended for by Mr. Erskine, and ' novr
established by Mr Fox's Libel Act, is the experience of seventeen yestil
since that act passed.


" Before the statute, it was not difficult for the most abandoned 84
profligate libeller, guilty even of the most malignant slander upon private
limn, to connect his cause with the great privileges of the jury, to protec..
-.innocence. Upon the judge directing the jury, adorcling to the 014


1791.]


mi. Fox's LIBEL BILL.
245


Settled in his own mind in what form he should bring on his ques-
tions, but he had not the smallest objection to state, that one of
them would be with respect to the conduct of the court of
Mpg's Bench in giving judgment and sentence upon libels, and the
other relative to informations in the nature of quo warranto. As he
%vas at present advised, he believed the proper mode would be, in
one case, to move to refer the question to the consideration of their
grand committee for courts of justice, and to move the other in
the House. He said, he had thus plainly stated the nature of his
two objects, in order that it might not be thought that he had any
intention to take the House by surprize. The zoth of May was
afterwards fixed upon. On which day,


Mr. Fox rose to make his promised motion, for a grand
committee on courts of justice, to enquire into some late de-
cisions of the courts in cases of libel. He began a most able
and argumentative speech, by declaring, that he was perfectly
convinced, that every gentleman who heard him, was so
well acquainted with the duties that belonged to tile House of
Commons, and its peculiar function constantly to watch with
care every part of the executive government of the country,
that it would be unnecessary for him to use any words in
order to spew that he was not bringing under the considera-
tion of the House, any thing that did not fall within the
province of its duty. He said, he was not going to attempt
any thing like innovation, but was calling the attention of the
House to one of its most constitutional and important duties,


system, to find a verdict of guilty upon the fact of publication ; shutting
out altogether from their consideration the quality of the matter pub-
hshcd, ingenious counsel used to seize that occasion to shelter a guilty
individual under the mask of supporting great public right; and juries,
to show that they were not implicitly bound to find verdicts of Guilty upon
Rich evidence alone, were too successfully incited to find improper verdicts
of acquittal : but since the passing of Mr. Fox's Libel Act, when the
whole matter has been brought tinder their consideration, when the
quality of the matter published has been exposed when criminal, and
defended when just or innocent, juries have listened to the judge with
attention and reverence, without being bound in their consciences (except
In matters of abstract law), to follow his opinion, and instead of thatluitnicdeliclaatiend giUnc rt ty by Lord Mansfield, the administration of justice


been in general most satisfactory, and the public authority been
list unjust attacks, with much greater security, and more


isupported by public opinion, than when juries were instruments n thehands of the fixed magistrates; whilst at the same time, public liberty has
ind
been secured, by leaving the whole matter in all public libels to the


gment and consideration of the people. This reformed state of the
law, as it regards the libert y


of the press, is now so universally acknow-
dged , that the highest magistrates have declared in the House of' Lords,p


people: no new laws are necessary, either to support the state, or protect the;


3




246 MR. FOX'S LIBEL BILL. [May 20.


viz. to a strict attention to every branch of the executive
government. The most important part of the executive go..
vernment was the execution of the laws in courts of justice;
he hoped, therefore, he should not excite any unjust pre
judices against what he was about to state, by urging the
necessity of their watching over this, as well as every other
part of the constitution, as if it implied any thing, peculiarly
faulty or blameable in the execution of justice at that moment.
If the doctrine, Mr. Fox said, were once to prevail, that the
consideration of matters relative to courts of justice neces-
sarily implied a failure of the execution of justice, that House
must either be negligent of its functions on the one hand,
and they must sit silent and suffer abuses to grow to a mag.
nitude which it might be difficult to reform; or, on the other,
they must do, what no good citizen would wish to do, they
must create an alarm in the country, and excite a suspicion
that justice was not fully executed, and thereby injure the
nation, by encouraging the subjects of Great Britain to deny
that respect which was clue to the laws, and to withhold
that obedience which ought to be given to the execution of
them.


It was true, Mr. Fox said, that he meant to bring under
the consideration of the House more than one point ; he
should, however, first state the point which weighed most
on his mind, which was, that which related to the conduct of
the courts of justice, with respect to trials on the subject of
libel. He would not, he said, take up the time of the House
with any general declamation on the subject of the liberty of
the press. Whoever saw what the world was now, and
compared it with what it formerly had been, must be sensible
that it had greatly improved in the science of government,
and that that improvement was entirely owing to the liberty
of the press. From what. he was then stating in favour of
the liberty of the press, no gentleman, he trusted, would
consider him as a defender of its licentiousness. He was,.
however, a defender of the liberty of the press, in that sense -
in which it could be defended. But, if even the just liberty


-
of the press were transgressed, he owned, he should be an
enemy to a severe punishment being inflicted after the crime
was committed. He was also an enemy to all previous re-
straints on the press, because he thought he could prove that
in all countries, and at all times, previous restraints on the
press had the effect of restraining the just liberty of the
people, and had never been able to prevent the mischiefs
arising from its licentiousness.


Having said so much with regard to the liberty of the press!
Mr. Fox declared, he thought there was no danger to be aP'


1791.] MR. FOX'S LIBEL BILL. 247
prehended from any law, or from any thing which they
plight propose to make a part of the law of the country ; on
the contrary, it was his opinion, that if the liberty of the
press in this country could be in any way endangered, it
oust be by a series of judgments and a series of punishments
on free writings : and this, he doubted not, he should be able
to prove. He hoped he should not be told, in answer to
what he had advanced, that they had not only reached the
mark of liberty, but had gone beyond it. He hoped he
should not be desired to look at the abuse of that sacred
engine of liberty, as the levelling the good and bad, and
making every man dead to shame, and insensible of good
character, which was the foundation of every thing great and
glorious among men. If persons were to argue, that from
the circumstance of there being so much licence, there was.
liberty enough, in his apprehension they would argue very
unwisely, and very inconclusively. It was no difficult matter
in this country for any man to libel another; but no man
could libel the actions of another with impunity, and public
characters had as much a right to be defended as those who
never mixed with public affairs. Any man, if he pleased,
could indeed personally libel with impunity any public- or
private character ; they could libel him, or much more re-
spectable members of parliament ; they might even go farther,
and libel ministers and the great officers of state. But he
contended, on the other hand, that there was much doubt
whether any man could really freely discuss the actions of
government, in the way in which he apprehended it was the
right of every man to discuss them, without a greater risk
to his person and property than prudent men would choose
to hazard.


Mr. Fox declared, that he felt considerable difficulty, not
only from the importance and magnitude of the object he
bad to state, but also considerable difficulty in the manner of
die arrangement of the matter, with which he should trouble
the House. Perhaps, the most easy way would be for him
to state his ideas in the order in which they had arisen in his
own mind, beginning with particulars, and going on to ge-
nerals, instead of beginning with generals, and exemplifying
them by particular instances, which was the more usual
method. In the course of the last year, when the Spanish
armament was raised, gentlemen would recollect that there
had taken place a considerable degree of discussion among
the public, with regard, first of all, to the propriety of that
armament; and secondly, with regard to the conduct of that
and the other House, who granted the supplies. That such
a business should be the subject of discussion in any country,


It 4




24 8 MR. FOX'S LIBEL BILL. [May 20.
particularly in a free country, could be matter of surprise to
no man ; that it was a subject of fair discussion he thought
could not be controverted. On that occasion there had
appeared some strictures in a newspaper on the conduct of
the king's ministers ; and that paper; to the astonishment of
most people, had been prosecuted. If gentlemen would take
the trouble to read a variety of things that had been written
at that time, not with regard to the character of public men,
but with regard to the conduct of public ministers, he should
rather suspect the newspaper alluded to would not be found
amon g the most eminently culpable, but on the contrary,
among the most innocent that had appeared. However, the
paper was published, and it was prosecuted. The printer
pleaded guilty, or allowed judgment to go by default, andj udgment was given against him; a judgment which appeared
to those who compared it with the paper, and, he confessed,
appeared so to himself; to be most inordinately severe. He
could hardly have thought, he said, that a person stating in
a newspaper his general disapprobation of the measures
adopted by the king's ministers; stating, that he conceived
the ostensible purpose could hardly be the real purpose;
stating the object of Nootka Sound to be too minute to justify
so great a hazard as the country was then about to incur, and
that therefore it might be connected with our Prussian
alliance, was guilty Of,a libel. He should have thought that
such a paper not only did not deserve a severe punishment,
but was no libel at all. I--Es first wonder was, that the printer
should have been so ill advised, as not to defend himself. In
the next place, he was astonished that no motion was made
in arrest of judgment, on the* ground that the paper was no
libel at all. He thought the sentence most severe, and that
opinion had not, Mr. Fox said, been peculiar to his own
mind ; lie believed he could speak the sentiments of a-whole
profession, and that as far as it could be collected, the
general opinion of the bar was, that it was a sentence be-
yond what they could have conceived was likely to have been
given. He said, he had read the libel with . great care, as it
had appeared in the Morning Herald, and it appeared to be
a libel on the king's ministers, and nothing more.


Mr. Fox alluded in this instance to the proceedings of the
king against Luxford, late printer of the, Morning; Herald,
and read from the information in his hand the following ex


-tract, which was stated as the essential part of the libel : " We
cannot dismiss this serious and alarming subject, without ob-
serving, that this manoeuvre of our ministry will make a deep
impression upon the French cabinet, national assembly, and.
people in general. They will not easily be led to believe,


1791•3 MR. FOX'S LIBEL BILL. 249


that Nootka Sound, on the farther side of North America,
can be such an important object to a people who have just the
other day so tamely surrendered up the whole eastern side of
worth America, as to induce them to hazard all upon such a
new-discovered, undefined, and almost unknown land, lying,
as we may say, at the back of the world. They will sooner
think that this armament is destined against Brest and Toulon,
than against Cadiz and Barcelona, upon such grounds as are
held out to public view; and notwithstanding their present
seeming disjointed state, they will find ways and means to
coalesce among themselves, so as to put the state machine in
order, so as to lend some efficacious aid to their never-failing
allies, the Spaniards."


To say in that point, that the king's ministers had acted
without policy, prudence, or spirit, was undoubtedly a libel;
and if those words were to be applied to the Russian business,
it would be equally a libel, because the person who wrote
them could not in point of law have justified, and consequently
must necessarily have been convicted. But, did any member of
that House think that such a libel deserved so severe a punish-
ment? He was perfectly persuaded that no man would say he
did. The paper also stated, that the king's ministers, by va-
rious declarations, some of them in that House, and some of
them out of it, had deluded the people and the country with
respect to such armament. That was also a libel: and here
again the printer could not have been permitted to justify the
truth of these assertions, and therefore he must have been con-
victed. In the degree of punishment to be inflicted, they
ought, Mr. Fox said, to take into consideration the present
state of manners and of things; and if this had been done in
the present case, John Luxford might have been sentenced to
same short imprisonment, or to pay some small fine; but that
lie should have been sentenced to be imprisoned for twelve
months and to stand in the pillory, was a severe and inordi-
nate judgment, compared with the degree of his guilt.


Having admitted that it was a libel against the Icing's
ministers, he had admitted alt that be thought necessary to be
admitted on the present occasion. Without paying any com-pliment to the gentlemen opposite to him, in the present state
O things, the mere saying they had acted without policy,
without prudence, and without spirit, would not, he was per-lsuaded, have induced them to punish a man for a libel, or ateast not to have pursued it to so great a length of punishment.
lie did not think, that they themselves wouldhave thought,bthat


it would have been consistent with the dignity of their
characters, to have prosecuted the printer at all: he should(ra ve


guessed this a priori, and he thought he might state it




250 MR. Fox's LIBEL BILL. [May 20.


from the thing itself. There were, Mr. Fox observed, in the
information against Luxford, other counts anclother inuendoes,
besides that for a libel against the king's ministers. Here he
read a copy of the information, the indictment, the opinion of
the judge, and finally the sentence. He always spoke with
great diffidence when he spoke on legal subjects, he said, and
he meant to do so then, but he had read the information with
all the attention he was capable of giving to any subject, and
he must declare that it was drawn in a way perfectly unintelli-
gible to him. It might possibly appear otherwise to pro-
fessional gentlemen. He conceived the proper way was to
state the malice, the seditious intent, or any other circumstances
of that kind, first; and he believed he was fortified by the
greatest authorities, in conceiving that inuendoes were only to
be used as matter of explanation, and not as matter of addition.
The force of inuendo, he conceived, to be equal to the words
id est, scilicet, or to the English word importing, which, in his
mind, expressed it best of all. He said, it was very difficult
to speak with clearness and perspicuity on the subject, the word
meaning having a double sense. When he said a word meant
so or so, there were two ways in which it might be taken ; its
first sense was when it was merely explanatory of what went
before, and was a true inuendo, as the K., meaning the King
of Great Britain, &c. Cadiz, and Barcelona, meaning Cadiz
and Barcelona in Spain, &c. There was also another sense of
the word meaning, which signified purposing, as when lie said
he meant to do such a thing to-morrow. This word he must
contend in all informations ought to be used in the sense of
importing and not of purposing. The third count in that
information, which was the material part of the charge, was,
that which stated it to be a libel, not on the king's ministers,
but a libel tending to produce dangerous consequences to
the country ; that it would tend to alarm the King of
France, and to stir up hostilities between this country and
France..


Mr. Fox said, he must here speak, collaterally, a little of the
Mode in which libels were judged. He maintained that the
filling up of the inuendoes was the province of the jury, and
after they were filled up, the tendency and consequences were
inferences of law ; and he took this to be the real state of
the law; though it was by no means agreeable to his opinion
of what it ought to be. If this had been an inference, and
not an inuendo, he conceived it would have been competent
to arrest the judgment, because a meaning had been put on
the words which they would not bear. It was said, the in-
tention was to have excited the King of France so and so.
.This, lie contended, was an inference not to be drawn limn aid


r6


1791:3 MR. FOX'S LIBEL BILL. 25I


text, either in reason or in law ; and if there had been nothing
M this libel but that, he had riot the least doubt but the
J udgment would have been arrested : it did not, therefore,
come into that shape as a legal inference. It was, Mr. Fox
.observed, matter of material mischief, and of material injustice,
to make that a tendency and an inference of fact to convert it
by a double and unequivocal sense into an inuendo. He said
he should just state to the House the particular tendency to
which he alluded, and then he would ask every gentleman
in the House whether it was not an inference, and not an in-
uendo ?, Mr. Fox shewecl in the clearest and most convincing
manner, by reading particular parts of the information, that
he was justified in his arguments. From this he inferred,
that they could not use as an inuendo the word meaning,
when it could be construed by the word purposing, but only
where it could be explained by the word importing. The
way in which the information had been drawn, left the person
who was the object of it in perfect doubt how he was to defend
himself against it. He might be answered, Mr. Fox said, that
this was not an inuendo : it was a legal inference, of which
the court would judge; and the court might afterwards tell
him this was not a legal inference, but that the jury had found
it, and therefore it must be taken as fact in the record. In
what situation, then, was the unhappy Luxford left? Was he
-to move an arrest of judgment? No. He should have advised
against any such measure.


• It would have been but of little
consequence to him to have been acquitted of the third count,
when he must be found guilty of a libel on the king's ministers.
Mr. Fox said, he was perfectly sure this mode of proceeding
was in the highest degree improper and unfair. The infer-
ence ought to have been stated in the outset of the business :
they had a right to argue on the record; and he would ven=
ture to say, it that had been allowed, and if the whole had
turned upon that, and nothing else but that count in the in-
formation, if it had been asserted that this was an inuendo,
and common sense rejected it as such, if it had been put into
able hands, judgment must have been arrested.


Having much considered this case, a variety of things,
Mr. Fox said, occurred to him, as fit to be done; and objec-
tions at the same time occurred to almost every one of them.
he considered how far he should complain, and . when he
came with any thing like a complaint to the House, he begged


to sayleave . how far he meant any thing against the court of
king's Bench. He did not suppose that they had acted from
any motives of direct corruption, or from party purposes. If
he had supposed any thing of that sort in their minds, -he
should have looked whether he had any means of proving it




252 MR. FOX'S LIBEL BILL. [May 20.


and if he had, he should not then have shrunk from the in-
quiry ; but he was perfectly convinced or "the contrary. He
conceived, if there had been . any thing wrong that they had
done yet, it was from error, and from the difficulty of their
situation, as the law now stood on the subject of libels.
therefore was not going to move any thing which could be
construed to be at all like a censure on the conduct of thejudges. But, was the measure, therefore, he would ask, to
sleep? Ought it to be so? Was le to stand by and consent,.
he would not say, that an innocent man, but what was nearly
the same thing, that a guilty man was to suffer much more
than he deserved to suffer? There was, therefore, one view, at
least, in which he should have brought forward the business,
and that was to move to present an humble address to the
king to pardon Luxford ; but he had been told, how truly he
knew not, that the most severe parts of the sentence were al-
ready done away, and therefore, perhaps, an address would be
useless. However, if he went into the committee, he should'
certainly move, that an address be presented to his majesty, to
intreat his majesty to pardon John Luxford.


With regard to opinions entertained in that House, he knew,
he said, that there were those who maintained, that in order
to preserve a proper respect to courts of justice in this country,
no man should interfere in any thing done therein, lest it
should be interpreted into an indirect censure ; but that if the
judges had committed any fault, an address should be moved
to his majesty, to deprive them of their situations. That
opinion, he said, he conceived to be wholly unfounded, and
declared lie would never consent to such an address against
any judge, unless it was for notorious incapacity, or the ex-
ercising his authority malo ammo. If that were so, how,
Mr. Fox asked, could it be maintained that they should allow
innocent men to suffer, and permit the guilty alone very fre-
quently to escape; and those who have committed trifling
faults to be severely punished ? It would, perhaps, be said,
that they ought not to interfere till they could produce some
proof of personal iniquity ; but whenever he conceived that
courts of'justice acted in any way so as to pervert the princi-
ples on which they were founded, and to produce mischievous
effects, he thought it was his duty (he declared lie said it with.;
out meaning any disrespect to the judges) to take their
conduct into consideration, and to oblige them to apportion
their discretion in the punishment of crimes, as nearly as pos-
sible to the offence, in such manner as to make them be
approved of by the just, as being reasonable, and such as the
.voininon sense of mankind would commend.


79i') MR. FOX'S LIBEL BILL. 253


Mr. Fox said, that when he had considered the subject of
this particular libel, he was led to consider the subject of
libels in general ; thus, in the way of inuendo and inference,
ho was led to consider who were to be judges. If the jury
were to be the judges of inuendoes, it was contended that they
ought not at least to be judges of inferences, but that those
should be referred to the court. He confessed he saw no ra-
tional ground for such a distinction ; for, in his opinion, if
any plain man met on the jury, and was capable of filling up
the inuendoes, he was at least capable of drawing an inference
of fact, of one fact from another. If a person maintained
that such a libel excited the French against Great Britain,
that was an inference of one fact from another fact, upon
which a man could gather light from his own mind, but with
respect to which, lie could gather no light from all the
law books in the world. To him, Mr. Fox said, it appeared
to be a strange idea, that a jury, although it could fill up an
inuendo, could not draw an inference of fact. This led him
to consider whether, where law and fact were mixed together,
a jury could not judge of the law as well as the fact; and on
this complicated business he should state his ideas to the
House. He had looked into several books on the subject,
and as the point had been handled in very modern times, he
had begun with the most modern writers. He had looked as
deeply into the subject as it was posssible for him to do. He
would not say all that he thought, in the presence of his ho-
nourable and learned friend (fr. Erskine) on the subject of
his honourable and learned friend's speech in the case of
the Dean of •St. Asaph; a speech so eloquent, so luminous,
and so convincing, that it wanted but in opposition to it, not
a man, but a giant; not a pigmy, or a dwarf, but some-
thing like an adversary capable of coping with it


He had,


" Of
this speech of Lord Erskine I have been informed that the great


-Mr. Fox, who introduced the stat. 3 z Geo.3. c. 6o., repeatedly declared
that he thought it the finest argument in the English language." Howell's
State Trials, vol. xxi. p. 971.


In the Edinbtirgh Review (vol. xvi. p. 202.) of Lord Erskine's Speeches,'
the eloquent and powerful writer thus expresses himself: " In these vo-
lumes, we have a complete body of the law of libel, and a most perfecthistory


of its progress, down to the Libel Bill of Mr. Fox, which owed its


!e


}
origin, indeed, to the doubts and difficulties that arose during the prosecu-


ion (is there not an error in the first syllable ?) of the Dean of St. Asaph.
The argument on the rights of juries, as connected with that case, affords
re clearest exposition of the subject, and is, in itself, by far the most
arned commentary on the nature of that inestimable mode of trial, which


IS. any where to be found. Mr. Fox's bill is merely declaratory of the prin-
elples, which were laid down in this argument with unrivalled clearness,
Ind enforced with a power of reasoning,which none ever denied to this




254
MR. FOX'S LIBEL BILL. [May 20,


Mr. Fox said, endeavoured to find out if there was any argu,
merit on the other side of the question. He was perfectly
aware, that in matters of law, as indeed in all other matters,
great authorities were arguments ; but authorities, great as
they might be, must, he said, some time or other, clash with
reason ; and if the authorities were clear one way, and reason
another, it would produce the greatest of all mischiefs, for
reason must triumph, and the effect would be, that it would
destroy in future all reverence for authority-, and would there,
fore do away that species of argument.


On this subject, Mr. Fox observed, there were not small
shades of difference of opinion only among eminent lawyers,
but they differed, according to the common expression, tote
ado ; the opinions of some being diametrically opposite to
those of others. It was the opinion of the court of King's
Bench, that the jurywere to find the publication, and inuendoes,
and that the question of intention was afterwards completely
left to the court; the court were to consider it in the nature
of a special verdict. He found opinions maintained directly
the reverse. He was, Mr. Fox said, of opinion that many of
the things stated were matters of fact ; but whether they were
matters of fact or law, where the general issue was joined thejury must consider such general issue, and give a verdict com-pounded of fact and law. These opinions, Mr. Fox observed,
were not of modern date; the first man, he apprehended, who
stated that opinion, was a person of the name of John Lilburne,
who immediately after the beheading of Charles I., and during
the existence of the commonwealth, was indicted for a treason-
able paper. He expressed himself, Mr. Fox said, truly and
properly in principle, though his words were coarse and his
phrases homely. With regard to his acquittal or condemna,
tion, John Lilburne declared the jury were all and every thing;
that the judges were mere cyphers, and their duty was solely
to register the verdicts of the jury. The reply to John Lil-
burne's observation, was a specimen, Mr. Fox remarked, of
the temper of the times and the disposition of those days :. in
answer to this, Judge Jermin, who presided on that occasion,


great advocate, except in the moment when, dazzled by the astonishing
powers of his language, they were tempted to fancy that so rare a union


-


of different qualities was not in nature; and to doubt whether such elo-
quence and fire—so lively an imagination, and so great warmth of passions?
*ere compatible with the faculties of close reasoning, and nice discrimie a


-tion. As connected, then, with the history of jury trial—as laying don'
its principles—as furnishing the ground-work of Mr. Fox's famous bill
and as having, in point of filet, given occasion to that bill, we view the.
speeches for Dean Shipley, which contain a most complete history of tilt
case, as the most important part of this collection."


1791.] an. FOX'S LIBEL BILL. 25
said, it Was a damnable and blasphemous heresy to call the


:Midges cyphers ! Lilburne, however, was acquitted in spite
of the anger of the judge, and in spite of the influence of
Cromwell. For a long period after that, Mr. Fox observed,
the business had not been considered in the way he considered
it, till of late years, and it seemed rather extraordinary that it
ba


flsco
happened


1)r. Filed.ox went through the law and practice respect-
ing libels in the reigns of Charles II., James IL, and part of
that of King William. He would, he said, state a circum-
stance that was rather to be looked upon as a conjecture than
as a certainty; from the Reformation till some years after the
Revolution, the jury had only to consider whether such a thing
was published with or without a licence; if it was published
without a licence, it would constitute a crime ; and the court
afterwards considered the malignity of the offence. He hoped
it would not be regarded as cavilling on the subject, to declare
ex vi terminorum, that it appeared a solecism to say that to w
general issue joined a special verdict should be given.; it was
obvious that the jury must give a general verdict according
to the general issue. It seemed strange to him, Mr. Fox said,
to be told, when he was accused of seditiously writing a libel,
that he ought to plead generally. The law said, you might
plead the general issue of not guilty. The general issue of
not guilty was pleaded, because in order to any one being
guilty, it must be proved that a libel was written, and written
by such a person. A great deal of stress was to be laid on
the word guilty. He did not, Mr. Fox declared, comprehend
on what principle the law of England, with all its liberality
and justice, could pronounce any man guilty without previous
inquiry into his guilt. If any book had been written, and
the author had been indicted, he was pronounced guilty, be-
fore there was the least guilt proved. Guilt, he contended,
must be proved before it could be inferred. Men were not
to be convicted on the word guilty, and after the word guilty
was pronounced by the law, as it at, present stood, it was to
be determined whether the writing was culpable or meritorious.
By going on farther, an argument suggested itself to him,
which he conceived to be perfectly conclusive on the subject,
and the strength of which was universally acknowledged by
almost every judge; by Lord Raymond, Mr. Justice Lee,
Lord Mansfield; and Mr: Justice Buller, with many of whom
he differed, namely, that it was in the power of the jury tO
find, not guilty. He was not, Mr. Fox said, ignorant that
Power and rim .w re not convertible toms. But if a power


* See uQykaPs State Trials, vol. iv. p. 1381.




2 5 6 MR. Fox's LIBEL BILL, . [May 20, 17.9T.] AIR. Fox's LIBEL BILL. 257
was vested in any person, it was surely meant to be exercised,
Mr. Fox mentioned Mr. Justice Ashliurst, who, in speaking
of right and power, observed, with respect to power, that
highwayman has the power to rob you, though the deed be a
crime against divine and human laws. Mr. Fox conceived
there was a power vested in the jury to judge of law and tact,
as often as they were united; and if the jury were not to be
understood to have a right to exercise that power, the con-
stitution would never have entrusted them with it. That the
constitution should have entrusted to the jury a power which
was never to have been exercised, was, he declared, beyond
his comprehension. He thought it proper to attend to the
few arguments which he found on the other side of the ques-
tion, and which all went on grounds that struck his mind as
different from this. He could not view the law and fact in
any other light, as separate, but as a confusion of ideas in
those who granted the first principle, ad questionem facti non
respondentjudices ; ad questionem legis non respondent jumtores.


Mr. Fox begged leave to enquire into this a little. When
a man was accused of murder, a crime consisting of law and
fact, the jury every day found a verdict of guilty ; the jury
felt themselves, in that case, bound to judge both the law and
the fact. How, Mr. Fox asked, did they do this? By the
advice of the judges. Here again, he said, without cavilling
about words, it was fair to infer, that the judge who advised
the jury, advised them only in cases where they had jurisdic-
tion. If the jurisdiction had been in the court, and not at all
in the jury, the judge would have prevented the latter front
acting altogether, and would have taken the jurisdiction to
himself, but they knew it was the province of the jury tojudge of law and fact; and this was the case not of murder
only, but of felony, high treason, and of every other criminal
indictment. Libels were the only exception, the single ano-
maly ; and if it was so, it was a great one indeed ! When
he turned his thoughts towards the decisions of Lord Mans-
field, and it was with all the respect and reverence due to
his character, his doctrine on libels amounted to this: to
consider a verdict on the case of a libel in the nature of a
special verdict. In that case, therefore, the jury, Mr. Fox
said, were compelled to give a special verdict, which ought
to be always matter of choice; but on this they were not left
to their choice. There was a very material difference betweell
a special verdict, in the case of a libel, and other special ver-
dicts. In the latter case, the court must, he observed,
its opinion with regard to the law, but in*special verdictior.
a libel, no such thing took place, and there was no necessity
for the court to give any opinion, unless a motion was made


in arrest of judgment. On a special verdict, in the case of a
libel, judgment followed, unless a motion was made to arrest
the judgment; whereas they could not do so in cases of mur-
der, or of felony; in fact, they could not do so in any other
case whatever. -Without any declaration from the court or
jury, judgment, it had been held, should follow ; and in cases
of libel, if what Lord Mansfield said were true, it did follow.
The jury found the publication and inuendos, and yet what,
said Mr. Fox, had been proved against the defendant? No-
thing. A 11 that appeared was, that a man had written a book
which might be, perhaps innocent, perhaps meritorious: the
court had passed no judgment upon it ; the jury had given
no verdict in it: but though no guilt had been proved, yet as
a motion had not been made in arrest of judgment, he must
be punished as a libeller.


Was it, Mr. Fox asked, agreeable to the law of England,
that the onus should lie on the person accused, to prove his
innocence, and not on those who accused him, to prove his
guilt? The arguments on this subject were chiefly drawn
front authorities, and if the House thought it worth their
while to go into a committee, they would find those autho-
rities extremely inconclusive. Mr. Fox contended, that if
the jury had no jurisdiction over libels, the counsel became
libellers for speaking before a tribunal which had no jurisdic-
tion; their eloquent speeches to heighten the enormity of
the libel charged, on the one hand, and their exculpatory ha-
rangues in favour of the delinquent on the other, were not
only needless but improper. If the court were sound in their
law, they would not, he said, permit such pieces of eloquence
to be delivered. In the case of the king against the dean of
St.Asapla, the judge stated, that he suffered it in order to
satisfy the minds of standers by. When a jury was in a court
of justice, in order to enquire into the innocence or guilt of
a man, and they did not enquire into the criminality at all,
but only enquired into the fact of publication, the counsel
get up to speak on one side of the question; and as that was
'all irregularity, the counsel on the other side must be indulged
with an answer ; and thus, one irregularity was committed
after another, as was sometimes the case in that House.
:frted1(.ei nheee,believe that Lord Mansfield, whose integrity as a,judge no man would dispute, should fall into opinions so littlefitting his high situation, and his dignified character ! His
lordship had, Mr. Fox observed, got into a situation which
there was no defending, without departing from that meekness
of heart so peculiar to his lordship. There was some shade of


certainly, in the argument between that noble earl
and his colleagues. He had, Mr. Fox said, laid it down


VOL. Iv.




258 MR. FOX'S LIBEL BILL.
[May 20.


throughout, that it was unnecessary td prove malice : at the
same time he agreed, that the defendant, if he brought an3,
witnesses or evidence to rebut the presumption of guilt which


lay against him, might produce such witnesses or evidence,
and on that the jury would form their judgment. Mr. Fox
wished this to be considered a little ; he could not help sayine,
that there appeared to be something of confusion in the noble
earl's ideas on that subject. He did not want proof of the
malice, for the publication would be sufficient ground to
infer malice or not. In case of murder, a man might say, be
did not want any proof of malice, because the fact spoke the
malice; but then, let the reason be stated why proof of malice
was not necessary : the fact was, that proof of malice was not
wanted, because it was evident that it did exist. What,
Mr. Fox asked, was the case of libels? No proof was deemed
necessary, but the bare publication was taken to be sufficient
proof. He should, he said, illustrate as well as he could, the
policy and legality of bringing evidence to rebut a presump.
tion drawn from this circumstance. A presumption was not
a thing distinct from proof; but was a species of proof, of
proof inconclusive, till the contrary was established. The
noble lord might hear what he pleased to rebut this. If the
jury could hear the evidence, they must judge of the evidence;
they must include a judgment on the presumption ; and they
.must do that by weighing the presumption and evidence,
and by comparing the one with the other ; and, therefore,
the moment that it was admitted that they could bring evi-
dence to rebut the original presumption, they must judge of
that presumption ; for they could only judge of the evidence,
by comparing it with the presumption. If; Mr. Fox said, lie
were of opinion that the jury could not judge of the innocence
or guilt of a paper, he should tell them they had nothing to
do with it.


There was another part of the doctrine of the noble lord,
(Mansfield,) which appeared to him strange and unaccoun t


-able. It was admitted not only in cases where there were
inuendos, but where a libel was supposed to be without
inuendo, and where the words were all plain ; it was admitted,
Ilia if a part of a writing was libellous, and another part not
libellous, they had a right to bring the whole before the jurY
in evidence. Mr. Fox asked, on what principle the jury were
to look at the whole, but that they might know whethe r the
paper was libellous or not ? If the jury had nothing to do
with the guilt or innocence of the - paper, but were only to
a verdict on the publication, it would be perfectly idle aw
ridiculous to lay the whole of the evidence before the j ullti
who, as Lord Raymond emphatically expressed himself,


;9 I.]


MR. Fox's LIBEL BILL. 259
nothing to do with it *." All the admissions made on that
side of the question, appeared to show its weakness, and no-
thing remained to be considered but authority, and that autho-
rity he should consider as shortly as possible. Mr. Fox here
considered the opinion of Lord Holt, in the case of the king
against Vere. Lord Holt, and two or three of the other
judges, did expressly declare their opinion on the ground of
the jury having found livuditiore et malitiose, they thought
the verdict ought not to be arrested. In the case of the king
against Tutchin, the opinion of Lord Holt was directly the
reverse of what it was in the former cases, and he left the cri-
minality generally to the jury. In x 73 1, in the time of Lord
Raymond, the present doctrine of libels was introduced. But
although this doctrine had been universally held during sixty
years, he hoped no man would contend that it ought to be
law. Indeed, that principle of law was so absurd, so vicious,
so untenable, and so impossible to hold consistently, that in the
practice of this reign, and especially in the practice of Lord
Mansfield himself, it was not adhered to. In the case of the
king against Woodfall, the principle was slightly touched
upon; 'but in the case of the king against Horne, there was a
complete acknowledgment of the arguments of his learned friend
(Mr. Erskine), whom he had the honour to follow in that
place. He said, he had the notes on this business from others,
and he entertained not a doubt but that they were correct,
though he would not vouch for their authenticity. Mr. Fox
then read a long extract of the summing up of Lord Mans-
field, at Guildhall, in the case of the king against Home;
Lord Mansfield had at that time said, that it was a matter for
the judgment of the jury, and that they were to decide on the
criminality. These were nearly his words : "'You will judge
whether it convey a harmless, innocent proposition, for the
good and welfare of this kingdom, the support of the legis-
lative government, and the king's authority, according to6
law ; or whether it is not denying the government and legis-
lative authority of England, and justifying the Americans, &c. ;
and if it was intended to convey that meaning, there can be
little doubt whether that is an arraignment of the govern-
ment and of the troops employed by them or not. But that
is a matter for your judgment. You will judge of the mean-
ing of it; you will judge of the subject to which it is applied,
and connect them together, and .


if it is a criminal arraign
of these troops, acting under the orders of the officers


See the trial or Richard Francklin, in xnt, for a Libel; Howell':Mate Trials:
vol. xvi, p. 67z.


s2




26o MR. FOX'S LIBEL BILL.
[May 20,


1791.]


DIR. PDX'S LIBEL BILL. 261


employed by the government of this country, you will find
your verdict one way; but if you are of opinion that the co*.
test is to reduce innocent subjects to slavery, and that they
were all murdered, why then you may form a different con.
elusion with regard to the meaning and application of this
paper k." This doctrine was *completely denied in the case
of the king and the dean of St. Asaph. If these accounts,
said Mr. Fox, were correct, that great and respectable autho.
rity, Lord Mansfield, was not perfectly consistent with him.
self: In the case of the king against Horne, they were to
consider the publication, and from the nature of it, and also
from other circumstances, to infer the intent of the person
accused. No gentleman could suppose that he meant to
lower that great and respectable man ; but he could not, Mr.
Fox said, do justice to the subject without stating the incon-
sistencies he had enumerated. It was not with a view to
diminish the respect that he entertained for that able magis-
trate, but it shewed that with all his abilities he could not be
consistent, and was obliged to waver. The inconsistency of
great men proved,—and there was no man so great, either in
history or romance, against whom inconsistency could not be
proved,—that there were doctrines which could not be sup-
ported ; and such inconsistency was generally much more
the fault of the doctrines themselves than of those Ndo
adopted them.


Mr. Fox said, he had hitherto considered the subject as
relating to libels, and to libels only. He next meant to state
it with respect to another point of still more importance,
namely, with regard to high treason. He believed it was on.
all hands admitted, that a writing might be an overt act of
treason ; but he was aware that it was not generally or uni-
versally allowed to be so. If a writing was considered as an
overt act of treason, it was always so stated in the indictment,
in Axe verba, which was necessary in the case of a libel. The
substance of high treason was sufficient ; but the words of a
libel must, he observed, be set out verbatim in the indict-
ment. He wished, alr. Fox said, to know a fact which he
had asked of many gentlemen, and in reply to which he had
received a variety of answers. He wished to ask, if a jury,
in the case of libels, could only judge of the publication, b e


-cause it appeared on the record ? On the very same principle
on which this could be done, all the doctrines relative to libels
applied to high treason. Suppose, said Mr. Fox, they bad
a right to try me for high treason; for a writing, that -which


Sec Howell's State Trials, vol. xx. p. j6r.


was considered by the court of King's Bench as an overt act,
the court had a right to say to the jury, " Consider only
whether the criminal published the paper ; do not consider
the nature of it; do not consider whether it was treasonable,
whether the overt act it intended was to accomplish the king's
death ; (for whether it was, or was not, that fact would de-
pend on the words set out on the fitce of the record,) and the
accused person guilty of high treason, and (if no person make
a motion in arrest of judgment) let him be hanged and quar-
tered." Would Englishmen endure that this should be the
case? Could men permit death to be inflicted, without a jury
having had an opportunity of delivering their sentiments or
verdict. whether the individual was or was not guilty ? If this
doctrine were true, Mr. Fox said, and applied to high treason,
then the overt act was unnecessary; the person who wrote
the paper would confess he published it; he would not have
a word to say in his defence, and he must be found guilty,
not of a misdemeanor, but of high treason. His liberty and
life were not to depend on the verdict of twelve persons, but
on four lawyers; he did not mean, he said, to speak with dis-
respect of the judges; but his verdict must depend on four
men, who drew their deductions from books, and not from
facts and the circumstances of the times. A man might thus
be in a situation to lose his life, without the judgment of his
peers. This point was stronger in the case of high treason
than in that of libel, but it was only stronger, inasmuch as,
to a man, death was of more importance than temporary con-
finement.


He wished, Mr. Fox said, to know whether that doctrine
of libels did or did not extend to high treason ? The House
he said, would observe that he had confined himself chiefly
to the case of seditious libels, and altogether to the case of
criminal prosecutions for libels. With respect to all libels
which were prosecuted by civil suits, and them only, there
was a difference between them and criminal prosecutions.
In criminal prosecutions, the thing to be considered was the
guilt of the criminal; in civil prosecutions, besides the guilt
of the offender, there was the redress to which the plaintiff
was entitled, by way of damages. A criminal prosecution,
therefore, and a mere civil action for damages, stood on se-
parate and distinct grounds. There were, Mr. Fox observed,
one or two cases which had been commonly stated, and
which he wished to state, in order to chew, that although
the person injured might have redress, yet it was to be ob-
tained on the proof of malice. In illustration of his argu-
ment, he stated the supposed case of a gentleman wishing to
know the character of a servant, who had been formerly in


s3




262 MR. FOX'S LIBEL BILL. [May 20.


his (Mr. Fox's) service. Perhaps, said Mr. Fox, I state his
character to be that of a person addicted to drinking, neglect-
ful of his duty, and not, in my opinion, perfectly honest
No action, he observed, could be maintained against the
master by the servant, even though his master had called
him a thief; if it had been true, unless the servant could
prove that his master had done it from motives of malice.
Mr. Fox cited another case from the star chamber, a case
which fell under the same rule precisely with the last, namely,
that of a man's writing to inform a father that his son was
addicted to vicious courses, and admonishing him to endea.
your to reclaim him. In that case, Mr. Fox said, the letter
had not been held to be defamatory, but reformatory. There
were several other cases, he observed, that had a great re-
semblance to libels ; as, for instance, the case of threatening
letters. He stated one which had been tried before Mr. Baron
Hotham, for whom he entertained a very high respect. He
thought that learned judge had acted with perfect propriety
in leaving the guilt or innocence of the paper to the con-
sideration of the jury.


Mr. Fox said, that although lie had been able to shew to
the House, that the law of libels was contrary to the original
principles of law, and dangerous to the constitution, yet
when he would suggest a remedy for these evils, he found
himself incapable of doing it, without the assistance of the
House. If the committee were clear as to the law on the
subject, he thought their wisest and most proper measure
would be to enact a declaratory law respecting it. If the
committee were of opinion that the high authorities on the
other side of the question, made the law doubtful, they might
settle the law upon the subject, in future, without any regard
to what it had been in times past.


Before he dismissed the subject of libels, Mr. Fox said, he
would refresh their memories with what he had said on special
verdicts; and what he had said on that subject, he declared
he did not say without mature consideration. The court
asserted, that all verdicts on libels were of the nature of spe-
cial verdicts; and yet he was informed, on good authority,
that if another kind of special verdict, viz. the verdict pro-
perly so denominated, were given, it would not answer the
purpose. If a report of special verdict was made, without
the word ' guilty,' no judgment could follow ; they were,
therefore, only deceiving the jury. All this, Mr. Fox said,
bad been very fully stated in the case of the King and the
Dean of St. Asaph, and afforded a very strong argument
for the side which he had espoused. He contended, there-
fore, that in all cases of libel, the jury should be permitted


MR. Fox's LIBEL BILL. 263


of the .ntention, as(rive a general verdict, and to judge 1 ;to
well as of the publication.


Mr. Fox having finished the subject of libels, wished to
call the, attention of the House to another subject of very
arcat importance ; but this, he said, he should do in as con-
cise a manner as possible. By a statute of Queen Anne, for
regulating proceedings by quo 'warrant°, every corporator
might inform himself of the corporate situation of any bur-
gess of the same borough. Any private man might make
his application, and, according to a late opinion, the court
had a discretionary power of granting or refusing it, as they
thought fit. Another opinion on the subject was, that the
court had no such discretion ; the former opinion, however,
was the best. The attorney general might also, of his own
authority, move for informations, in the nature of quo war-
ranto, as well as others. The court of King's Bench had
endeavoured to lay down a rule to guide their discretion;
Lord Mansfield had laid down twenty years as the space of
time after which, in no cases, applications should be made
to disturb men in their franchises; and even within that time
the court very frequently refused such applications ; but
about two terms ago, the court of King's Bench had greatly
shortened the period within which people might apply for
such informations. They had determined, if a man had en-
joyed his franchises without interruption for the space of six
years, he should never be called upon after that period. Mr.
Fox wished to say a very few words on the wisdom of this
regulation. He thought the rule ought only to have been
prospective and not retrospective. 'the court should have
given notice of their intended rule some time before it began
to operate, because people knowing that the law allowed
them twenty years, usually thought they had abundance of
time, and therefore laid by. This was not only unfair, but
it was unjust.


There was another very serious view in which, he said, the
subject might be taken into consideration. That House, as
vigilant guardians of the constitution, ought to watch against
all possible inroads. The attorney general, as already stated,
could of authority move for informations. Private subjects
were confined within six years ; the king's attorney general,
however, was subjected to no such inconvenience, being
wholly unlimited in point of time. It always happened, that
the king's ministers were more or less concerned in elections :
and, consequently, the attorney general might move for a
great many informations against those who were not friendly
to him or his associates. As the law before stood, this was
attended with no inconvenience, because if A. moved against


S 4




264 MR. FOX'S LIBEL BILL. [May 2ce


B.'s electors, B. might move in his turn against the electors
of A. But by the last rule of the court of King's Bench,
private men were greatly cramped and confined ; whereas
the attorney general, on the part of the king, might move
at any time, and hence the maxim null= tempus occur?*
regi. Corporators, after six years, were safe against every,,
man but the king, so long as they exercised their franchises
in a way not hurtful to the interest of the king ; but if they
were to exercise their privileges contrary to the interests of
the crown, the king's attorney general might come and take
their franchises from them. This, Mr. Fox said, was an,
immense additional weight to the prerogative of the crown,
and might prove extremely dangerous to the liberty of the
people. The remedy he meant to propose, appeared to
him to be perfectly unexceptionable. He thought there
ought to be a statute, regulating the conduct of the King's
Bench, • with regard to the granting of such informations,
and giving double costs in cases of frivolous applications.
He considered it as highly inconvenient, that the rule of
limitation of the King's Bench did not exceed the length
of a parliament, and he wished it, for obvious reasons, to
extend to eight or nine years. He farther thought, that
the power of the attorney general, in this respect, should
be taken away, or at least ascertained; and that the crown
and the subject should stand precisely upon a level. Mr. Fox
said he had stated all the matter that occurred to him as
the ground for going into a committee. If any gentleman
had any additional grounds, he could wish him to state them.


Mr. Fox proceeded to observe, that there was, on the
subject of libels, one great and popular topic, which he had
passed over, without having said any thing upon it. He
declared he had not forgotten it, but had purposely omitted
it. It was a question that had been much canvassed in the
world, namely, the doctrine that truth was not only not a
justification, but that a libel was the more a libel because it
was true. With respect to this question, he should not med-
dle with it, because he conceived it to he a most difficult
question. To say that. truth was not sometimes a justific,a-
tion, would be very extraordinary indeed ; and yet there cer-
tainly were cases in which truth would not be a justification
but an aggravation. Suppose, for instance, a man had any
personal defect or misfortune, any thing disagreeable about
his body, or was unfortunate in any of his relations, and that
any person went about exposing him on those accounts, for
the purpose of malice, and that all these evils were day after
day brought forward, to make a man's life unhappy to him-
self; and tending to hold him out as the object'of undeserved


1791.] MR. FOX'S LIBEL BILL. 265


contempt and ridicule to the world, which was too apt to
consider individuals as contemptible for their misfortunes,
rather than odious for their crimes and vices ; would ,any
span tell him, that in cases of that sort, the truth was not
rather an aggravation ? On the other hand, in questions re-
lating to public men; truth, with respect to public measures,
ought to be held to be a complete justification of a libel, if
it could be called a libel in that situation. Mr. Fox said
farther, that if any man had stated any thing that was of great
importance, upon its being taken amiss by another, the truth
of it, if it could be proved, was not only a mitigation, but,
in his mind, a complete justification. He would -ask, there-
fore, how long were they to be negligent about the rights of
juries? It behoved the House to be anxious to establish
those rights, and by that means to secure the liberty of the
press. He conceived, that the best way would be, to permit
every defendant to prove the truth of a libel, if l ie thought
proper; and then to consider what effect that ought to have,
whether it amounted to a justification or otherwise, and to
let it affect the judgment either way in proportion. He did
not, however, mean to bring this forward, unless it met with
the general concurrence of the House. God knew what he
had ventured to bring forward was much beyond his strength;
and he should not have brought it forward, if he had not
thought it a duty which he owed to the public, and the
more particularly at this time, when it was the fashion to go
into discussions on the theory of the constitution for various
p rp ses.


Mr. Fox said, they ought to consider the main spring
upon which the constitution turned. They all knew there
were two or three great springs upon which it turned, and
it was the indispensable duty of that House, as fur as it could,
to keep those springs in perfect strength and vigour. He
thought he saw, amidst all the minute]: parts, the two most
important of these main springs, namely, the representation
Of the people through the medium of that, House, and the
Juridical power of the people through the medium of juries;
and it appeared to him, that even although the other parts of
the system fell into disorder, yet, if these main springs were
preserved in full vigour, the rest might be repaired; but if
these twersprinas gave way, all the rest must fall completelyr,
to destruction. Mr. Fox declared, that he had always con-
sidered the powers and privileges of that House to be that
Part of the constitution which they were obliged to watch
ever, and obliged to maintain. Another thing of infinite
importance was the right of the trial by jury. This, he said,
Could not be complete, unless, in every criminal case, where




266 MR. FOX'S LIBEL BILL. [May 20.


the law and fact were mixed, the jury were the judges; and
unless the intention was to be decided by the jury, and not
by men who could only judge by means of books, and man y
subtleties and distinctions, but could never find out the heart
of man, and distinguish between his actions.


Mr. Fox begged that he might not be told by any gentle-
man, " You have done much right and much wrong, but
on account of what is wrong you shall not obtain what is
good." He said, he was willing to take one half; nay one
fourth, or any thing that he could get, rather than lose the
whole. He thought he had done his duty in bringing for-
ward the business, and he hoped there would be a majority
for going into the committee. Mr. Fox here took notice
of a similar motion that had been brought forward in the
House of Commons some years ago by that sound constitu-
tional lawyer, Mr. Seijeant Glynn, who had brought for-
ward the subject in a more masterly and scientific manner,
than he was able to do. He confessed he had been one of
those who voted against that motion *, which was rejected on
account of certain doubts that were entertained concerning
it, and a fear that it might weaken the authority of the court
of King's Bench, &c. but upon reflection he now thought
his reasons had been weak and ill founded. In the case of the
King against Topham, Mr. Fox said, there was some colour
for the chief justice agreeing with him. On the present
occasion, he was glad to grasp at any thing ; and the House
must now speak out plainly, and say whether they meant to
confirm the rights of juries, or to vote against the rights of
j uries, and to add the weight of parliament to the weight of
the court of King's Bench. Mr. Fox declared, before he
sat down, that lie had intended to bring forward this business
in the course of the last parliament, but had been prevented
by other business; and another consideration for his defer-
ring it, was, the expectation and hope of his having the able
assistance of his honourable and learned friend (Mr. Erskine)
— an expectation and hope in which he had not been dis-
appointed. His honourable and learned friend would now
have an opportunity to crown the work which he had so nobly
begun, and give his sanction to an act of parliament to insure
to his country and to posterity, the real existence of those
rights and privileges, the theory of which he had formerly
defended so eloquently, so ably, and, in point of reason, so
triumphantly, though in point of event, unfortunately and
unsuccessfully. Mr. Fox concluded with moving, " That


* Sec Vol, p.3.


7791.] MR, FOX'S LIBEL BILL. 267


the grand committee for courts of justice do sit on TucidAy
nes.t."


gr. Erskine, who seconded the motion, supported it with much
eloquence and ability. The attorney-general, Sir Archibald Mac-
donald, coincided in opinion with Mr. Fox. He nevertheless ex-
culpated the judges from the charge of having acted with impro-
priety in countenancing a contrary doctrine, conceiving that they
were in some degree bound to follow the uninterrupted course of
precedents, and to be determined by what had been the uniform
practice of their predecessors. Mr. Pitt supported the same ar-
gument. He declared, that, although he should with great diffi-
dence set up his own opinion against the established practice of the
judges, yet lie could not hut confess that it went directly against
that practice; for he saw no reason why, on the trial of a crime,
the whole consideration of the case might not precisely go to the
unfettered judgment of twelve men, who were sworn to give their
verdict honestly and conscientiously. He objected, however, to
the going into a committee ; but recommended the plan of settling
the whole business by two short bills.


Mr. Fox said, he could not most assuredly make the least
hesitation in complying with the suggestion of the right ho-
nourable gentleman, who had in so fair and candid a manner
stated what his own opinion was, and which seemed also to
meet the general concurrence of the 'louse. With regard to
the ground that the honourable and learned gentleman (the
attorney-general,) had taken, by way of defending the con-
viction of John Luxford, Mr. Fox declared, he must (liar
from him completely. So far from thinking the libel a dan-
gerous publication with a view to enflaming the minds of the
people of France, there was' no danger in it whatever, nor
could any such inference as the honourable and learned gen-
tleman had drawn from it, be put upon it, either in reason
or in law ; and if it could, why was not such an inference
averred in the information ? No such averment appeared on
the face of the record, and the only averment that did appear
was, that it was a libel on his majesty's ministers and nothing
else. Inclined, then, as he should be, for the sake of practi-
cability, to comply With the right honourable gentleman's
suggestion of his giving up the motion for a committee for
courts of justice, he could not compromise the case of John
Luxford for the sake of the two bills, or for the sake of any
practicability whatever, however desirable such practicability
alight be. In his former speech, Mr. Fox observed, that he
had said, he had heard what, from the silence of the other side
of the House on that point, he now feared, was not true,




268 MR. Fox's LIBEL BILL. [May 20. MR. FOX'S LIBEL BILL. 269


namely, that John Luxford was pardoned that part of his
sentence which related to the punishment of the pillory. As
he was satisfied the sentence of Luxford was most inordi-
nately severe, and more than he merited, when compared to
the guilt of the libel, Mr. Fox dela yed, he must adopt sonic
method of taking the sense of the House upon a motion for
an address to his majesty for his pardon ; and he saw not how
he could do that without going into the committee for courts
of justice, when, as far as his motion for an address to his
majesty for a remission of Luxlbrd's punishment went,
it would undoubtedl y be an indirect. censure on the court
that had passed so inadequate a sentence. It might pos.
sibly be said, that he ought to proceed in another way, and
ground any motion that he thought proper, on the record;
but let the House remember, that he had spoken from a paper
which he held in his hand, and the honourable and learned
gentleman front another paper which he had held in his hand;
but Luxford's libel, and the record, were neither of them
before the House; and till the House could get at the record,
he could not proceed. Hite could be told that Luxford either
had been pardoned or would be pardoned the pillory, be
would say no more, but for the sake of practicability would
consent to withdraw his motion for a committee for courts of
justice, and would barely move for leave to bring in the two
bills that had been suggested.


Mr. Pitt said, that with regard to the punishment of the pillory
having been remitted, lie had not the least recollection of that hav-
ing been the case, or of any application having been made for it.
He had in more than in one instance, since he had been in his
majesty's councils, dissuaded them against the too frequent use
of the pillory, which, in his opinion, could net be too spar-
ingly employed ; and from what he saw of' Luxford's case, he
had no reason to imagine, if application were made, that there
would be any great difficulty in getting that part of the sentence
remitted.


Mr. Fox said, lie was so perfectly satisfied with what he had
heard from the right honourable gentleman, that he should
for the present withdraw his motion for the committee for
courts of justice; and wait to see if any thing was clone in
Luxford's case, and if there should not be any thing done he
would then move for a copy of the information, and of the
record, and likewise for an address to his majesty for mercy
in a case, which had received a sentence inordinately dispro-
portionate to the degree of criminality in the libel.


The original motion was then, with leave of the House withdrawn,.
A fter which Mr. Fox moved, t. for leave to bring in a bill " to
remove doubts respecting the rights and functions of juries in cri-
mina l cases ; and 2. for leave to bring in a bill " to explain and
amen d the act of the 9th of Queen Anne, intituled ' An act for
rendering the proceedings upon writs of mandamus and infor-
mations in the nature of a quo warranto, more speedy and effec-
tual ; and for the more easy trying and determining the rights of
offices and franchises in corporations and boroughs.'" Leave was


accordingly given to bring in the said bills. The first bill was
brought in on the 25th of May, and passed the Commons, with
little opposition, on the ad of June. It was debated in the Lords
on the 8th, when the chancellor opposed its further progress in
that session. His lordship said, that although its principle met
with the concurrence of all those noble and learned friends, with
whom he had conversed on the subject, yet in consideration
Of the advanced state of the session, and the importance of
the bill, he should move, " That instead of being read a se-
cond time on that day, it should be read a second time that
day month." Lord Camden declared himself a friend to the bill,
not because it tended to alter the law of the land, but because it
established it. He contended, that the jury already did possess,
and always had possessed a legal right to forum their verdict on the
whole case, law, fact, and intention, how much so ever this right
might have been discountenanced by the judges. Lord Loughbo-
rough pursued a similar line of argument. He considered the bill
as a declaratory bill, the object of which was, not to make that
law, which was previously supposed to be of a different descrip-
tion, but to declare and explain what was understood to be at
that instant the existing law of the land. The bill, he said, was
agreeable to the direction, which as a judge he had himself always
given in cases of libels. He wished therefore to be ranked among
its warmest advocates ; nevertheless, since they were arrived at a
period of the session, when it was impossible for them to proceed
with it consistently with the respect which was due to themselves,
to the subject itself, to the rights and to the tranquillity of Eng-
land, lie concurred in the prudent proposal of deferring it. Lord
Grenville supported the same side of the question. He thought
that it would be unwise and indecorous for their lordships to pro-
ceed in such a bill without the assistance of the judges, from whom
a declaration or what was understood to be the existing law upon
the subject would come with more weight and authority, than from
any other quarter. The Marquis of Lansdowne spoke much in
favour of the liberty of the press ; but against its licentiousness. He
professed himself to be a zealous friend to the bill ; and argued
against the proposed delay. The lord chancellor's motion was car-
ried, and the bill was of course postponed.


In the succeeding session, however, the bill was triumphantly
carried through both Houses, and passed into a law.




27 0 EAST INDIA BUDGET. [May 2,1
The following copy of this celebrated bill is transcribed from,


the statute-book :


COPY or MR. Fox's LIBEL BILL.


I. " Whereas doubts have arisen, whether, on the trial of an
indictment or information for the making or publishing any libel
where an issue or issues are joined between the king and the de,
fondant or defendants on the plea of not guilty pleaded, it be cern,
petent to the jury impanelled to try the same to give their verdict
upon the whole matter in issue ; be it therefore declared and
enacted by the king's most excellent majesty, by and with the
advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and coin.
mons, in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority
of the same, that on every such trial, the jury sworn to try the
issue may give a general verdict of guilty or not guilty, upon
the whole matter put in issue upon such indictment or information,
and shall not be required or directed, by the court or judge before
whom such indictment or information shall be tried, to find the
defendant or defendants guilty, merely on the proof of the publi-
cation by such defendant or defendants of the paper charged to
be a libel, and of the sense ascribed to the same on such indict-
ment or information.


II. " Provided always, that on every such trial the court or
judge, before whom such indictment or information shall be tried,
shall, according to their or his discretion, give their or his opinion
and directions to the jury on the matter in issue between the king
and the defendant or defendants, in like manner as in other cri-
minal cases.


HI. " Provided also, that nothing herein contained shall extend,
or be construed to extend, to prevent the jury from finding a
special verdict in their discretion, as in other criminal cases.


IV. " Provided also, that in case the jury shall find the defen-
dant or • defendants guilty, it shall and may be lawful for the said
defendant or defendants to move in arrest of judgment on such
ground, and in such manner, as by law he or they might have
done before the passing of this act, any thing herein contained to
the contrary notwithstanding."


EAST INDIA BUDGET.


may 24.


THIS day Mr. Dundas brought forward the East India Budget.After much correspondence with the several presidencies, he
said he was at length enabled, for the first time, to state the re-
venues of our Oriental possessions from something like a regular


1791.] EAST INDIA BUDGET. 27 I


account. Hitherto he had been obliged to make out rather an
estimate than an account, from a number of detached accounts
sent home by the several presidencies. He was now furnished
pith accounts from each, shewing the whole receipt and ex-
penditure for three years, on which he could strike an average,
aria also with a comparison of the estimated and actual receipt
and expenditure for the last year, which might serve as a test of
the reliance to be placed on those estimates, whence alone the
balance of the current year must always of necessity be calcu-
lated. From these documents it would be seen, that the British
revenues in the East Indies, amounting to seven millions, after
deducting all the expenses of government, left a clear surplus of
1 ,409,0791. either to be laid out in investments, or it to con-
tingent services. He mentioned one fact, which It was no more
than a debt of justice to Mr. Fox to notice. In the month of
November 178 3 , when he moved his celebrated India bill, Mr. Fox
estimated the debts of the company at nearly ten millions, while
the company themselves rated them at only four millions; but in
truth, Mr. Dundas said, before the year 1785, they actually did owe
above ten millions. Mr. Dundas concluded with expressing his
conviction, that the day was much nearer, when the resources
of India would furnish assistance to this country, than when this
country would be obliged to lend her aid and support to India.


Mr. Fox said, he did not mean to trespass long upon the
committee, but he thought himself particularly called upon
to say something in reply to what had been urged in some
parts of the speech which they had heard from the right ho-
nourable gentleman who had just sat down. And one striking
point in it, and a most material one he considered it to be,
was that towards the conclusion, where the right honourable
gentleman stated, that the day was near at hand when India
might be expected to be in that flourishing state, that in place
of calling upon England for aid, India would be enabled to
afford assistance to England. This was an opinion, Mr. Fox
said, that, were it well founded, must give the greatest satis-
faction to the country. He owned, however, that it did not
appear to him to be well founded, upon any one ground of
statement or argument, that he had yet heard or been able to
collect. He must likewise say, that it had not the greater
weight with him, when he heard the assertion come after a
most cautious and evasive declaration, that with regard to the
papers on the table, as far as they respected the expenses
of the war in India., the committee were not to consider'
themselves as possessed of the right honourable gentleman's
Own. opinion upon that subject, or the probable result of it.
A great part of the right honourable gentleman's speech,
Mr. Fox said, had been employed to exculpate himself from
'the charge of being the author of the war in India. For




272 EAST INDIA BUDGET. [May 24.


his part, he thought it mattered not so much who was the
author of it, as what were likely to be the consequences of
it; and upon that point, he believed, there could be hut
one opinion in the country, and that was entirely against
any war of the kind, which could be attended with no good
effect, was a certain expellee and calamity both at home
and in India, and had not for its object any thing that
could justify the policy, justice, or expediency of it. He
never had said that the right honourable gentleman was the
author of it; for he had no pretensions to say so, when he
took such pains to disclaim it; nor had he. ever given his
opinion on the amount of the expenses which might be in-
curred by that war.


The right honourable gentleman had taken 'great pains
to convince the committee that no opinion could be formed
of the expence by the estimate on the table; and at the same
time, in a very curious manner, he had argued as if he wished
them to believe that the expellees hitherto incurred did not
exceed that estimate. Mr. Fox said, he believed the fact to
be quite otherwise, and that the expellee already far exceeded
the estimate ; a matter that, perhaps, with more propriety
might be afterwards discussed. He believed that the expellee
would certainly amount to five or -six millions at least. From
all that could be made out, front what official information
they had received, from common report, and from the latest
letters from Madras, it was generally believed that it would
be much greater, and the event of the war very uncertain.
The right honourable gentleman had alluded to his opinions,
upon a former occasion, respecting the amount of the debt in
India, arising from the arrears and other charges after the last
war in that country, and had stated that those arrears had
far exceeded even what his (Mr. Fox's) own opinion had
reckoned them at, and that the total debt amounted to more
than ten millions. Now, with this before their eyes, would
any person be bold enough to say, that arrears and debts
would not increase after this war, even when it was concluded,:
in the same manner as they did before? If they could say so,
he should be glad to know upon what supposition their
opinions were founded. In short, this estimate, when all the
authority which the right honourable gentleman could give
it was added to it, seemed by his own account to be worth
nothing, as a guidance to the committee, or from which
they could form any guess of the probable expellee.


The right honourable gentleman had stated, Mr. Fox said,
that he could not answer for the success of the war. To he
sure he could not; but if any reliance was to be had in
the argument which the right honourable gentleman bad


1791.] EAST INDIA BUDGET. 2)73
used thoughout the whole of the discussions on this Indian
war, certainly the committee had reason to expect that success
would be the result of it; and if they thought this was the
right honourable gentleman's real sentiments, they no doubt
would entertain sanguine hopes that his Opinion was well
grounded. Much stress had been laid upon the manner
ni


which the events that had already happened in India,
were represented in this country ; and it had been said,"
that both in their nature and consequences they had been
much exaggerated. But if this was the case, he would ask,
what steps ministers had taken to convince the public that
the facts were otherwise than what common report stated
them to be? On the contrary, from their total suppression of
111 official communication, and their silence with regard to
the dispatches they had received, might it not be inferred,
that their own opinion of the information was worse than the
statement which the public had could lead them to form ;
when it seemed they dared not publish the accounts which
they had received?


Mr. Fox again stated, that Ile had not given, nor could he
give, a direct opinion of what might be the probable ex-
'me° of the war; but he could give an opinion as to the
itnpropriety and the injustice of the object of it, which he
understood to be that of extirpating Tippoo Sultan. He,
however, trusted that we should, by some kind of peace or
other, and by not accomplishing that object, save from dis-
grace and infamy the British character in India. He could
not prophecy any more than the right honourable gentleman ;
but he did believe that we should be mistaken in all our
hopes of success, mistaken in all our designs and pursuits
against Tippoo, and finally mistaken in our attempts to
drive him: from the Mysore country. Events, that had al-
ready happened, justified these assertions, and we were
daily hearing something or other which tended to corro-
borate


" them. Mr. Fox paid many compliments to the
British army now in India, and was convinced, he said, of


•th
ess


eir
iona


exertions
skill, . They possessed military ardour, great pro-


f s .1 , and conspicuous gallantry. Highly, however,
as he rated the character of the British forces, we hod no-
reason to think contemptuously of our adversary; every fresh
account only tended to confirm us in a contrary opinion. HeVo 14(.L therefore insist, that the best news that this country
could receive from India would be, that peace was concluded;
!ld when he said this, he should be asked, What kind of
Pe ace would you wish ? To this he would answer, any kind
°f. Peace, without. addition of territory, that could be ob-tanied,


and was not dishonourable to the country. The
1.0/..




274
EAST INDIA BUDGET. [May 24.


going to war for the acquisition or extension of territory, be
would always reprobate as impolitic and unjust. if we per_
sisted in the war, or he might say, even procured an imme-
diate peace, what would be the consequence of the war we
had engaged in ? 'Why, the certainty of having our military
force in India weakened and diminished; our revenues, both
there and at home, drained and exhausted; and our name
and character, as a great nation, disgraced and lowered in
the opinion of the world at large. As to the authors of
the war, whatever disgrace they might meet with, it was not
his business to point them out; nor could he say whether
it originated with the government in India, or the board of
contralti. He believed, however, the general opinion in this
country was, that it was commenced in consequence of orders
from home. In defending himself from any blame on this
point, the right honourable gentleman had said, who could
suppose that he, or those he acted with, could wish for a war?
But what was this sort of argument, Mr. Fox observed, but
the old exculpation of every minister, and his general defence
when his conduct was called in question ?


Mr. Fox came next to the general state of our finances in
India, and the flourishing condition of it, which had been
expatiated upon by the right honourable gentleman. He was
extremely glad to hear it was so, and would be more so,
when he saw and knew it to be, as described that night ; but
he must own, that what occurred the other day, when the
finance report of 1786, and that of 5791, were under their
consideration, staggered his faith a good deal with regard to
all reports of that nature; and he cautioned the committee
not to be too sanguine in their hopes or expectations. Let
them consider, that the India debt now amounted to sixteen
millions sterling, to which we were to add the Soo,oeol. in
the estimate upon the table, and then say, whether, in the
present appearance of circumstances, there were strong
grounds for sanguine prospects. Notwithstanding all he had
said against the measures which seemed to prevail in the
system of government in India —notwithstanding the in-
justice and impolicy of the war now carrying on in India--notwithstanding the impoverishing, calamitous, and dis-
graceful consequences that must attend the continuance of it
—notwithstanding the certainty of the expence, and the im-
probability of advantage accruing to this country from it --
still Mr. Fox said, he would close with the right honourable
gentleman, if he could make good what he bad concluded
his speech with — namely, that -the East Indio, CompanY
would never again require assistance from this country.


1791.]
MR.


T. GRENVILLE'S MOTION, &C. 275


WIR. THOMAS GItENVILLE'S MOTION FOR AN A DDRESS,
ADVISING HIS MAJESTY TO DECLINE ANY INTERFERENCE
IN THE WAR BETWEEN RUSSIA AND THE PORTE.


May 25.


THIS day Mr. Thomas Grenville concluded an able speechwith moving, " Than an bumble Address be presented to
his majesty, to offer to his majesty's most gracious consideration
that counsel and advice, which it is the duty of the commons to
communicate to the throne in every important juncture of public
affairs : To represent to his majesty, that the prerogative of
making peace and war, being in like manner as all the other royal
prerogatives, vested in his majesty in trust for the advantage and
benefit of his people, this House does conceive the beneficial
exercise of that prerogative to be most constitutionally and ef-
fectually promoted by the advice of his faithful commons in par-
liament assembled: that his majesty's faithful commons, ever zealous
to assist him in maintaining the true dignity of his crown, by
enabling him to provide for the real security and happiness of hispeople, find themselves compelled at this juncture to express their
anxious solicitude, that interests of such important concern may not
be unadvisedly committed to the chances and calamities of a bur-
densome war: To recommend to his majesty's most serious attention
the important advantages which the trade and manufactures of this
country derive from their friendly and commercial intercourse with
Russia, arid the heavy loss which would be sustained by any inter-
ruption given to it : To submit to his majesty, that no arrangement
respecting Oczakow and its district does appear to this House to he
capable of affecting the political or commercial interests of this
country, or to justify Great Britain in any hostile interference be-
tween Russia and the Porte : To express our reliance upon his
majesty's wisdom and justice, llthat the peace and tranquillity which
this country now enjoys, simil not be interrupted for the purpose
or adding any increase of territory to the dominion of the king of
Prussia : Lastly, to represent to his majesty that under the manyb
urdens which this country has very recently voted in addition tothose before imposed on their constituents, they should neitherdis
charge their duty to his majesty nor to dle public, if they did


not use their best endeavours to assure the continuance of thebl
essings of peace, by offering to his majesty their humble andea
rnest advice, that his majesty, in his wisdom and paternal af-


hostile to his people, would be graciously pleased to decline allti tile interference upon the subject of the fortress and district ofOczakow, or for the purpose of procuring any farther acquisitionst
o the dominions of the king of Prussia." The motion wasile.vicaoitnladzIed,d bsyirMIrv. Milner, and supported by Mr. Powys, Major


and Mr. Fox. It . was opposed by11r. Matthew Montagu, who saw no reason. _to withdraw his con-adeuce from ministers. It had become, he said, a practice on the
T 2




276 MR. T. GRENVILLE'S MOTION RESPECTING THE [May 23.
other side of the House, this session, to bring on, day after day,
and. provoke the discussion of, questions concerning prerogativi:;
a practice which he thought exceedingly improper; for which
reason he always had, and always should oppose them.


Mr. Fox rose just as the Speaker was about to put the
question. He said, that as he saw it to be the determination,
and as it appeared to be the desire of the greater part of the
House, that the motion should go to the question, without a
single word of explanation from his majesty's ministers, he
rose to remind them, that since it was, probably, the last time
this session of their exercising their duty as members of par-
liament on that important subject, they ought to endeavour
at least to enable themselves to give those from whom the
money was to come, some satisfactory account respecting the
cause of the expence, namely, the armament against Russia.
The House could not but have observed the ability with
which his honourable friend had opened the address then
moved, and the little or no argument that had been opposed
to it from the other side of the House. His honourable
friend had stated the perfect and complete theory of the con-
stitution, and the arguments he had adduced on the subject
of confidence and the prerogatives of the crown, were dearly
founded on the best practice of that constitution. Mr. Fox
said, it was the practice of the constitution that he admired,
and always held up as the fit object of admiration, and in
conformity to that, he governed and guided his own practice.
The doctrines his honourable friend had laid down, had been
so clearly constitutional, that he defied any man living to con-
trovert any one of them. The House had passed, as his
honourable friend had stated it, an unlimited vote of con-
fidence; but, was their confidence never to have an end, or
were they never to have any satisfaction given them respect-ing the object of the armament? Mr. Fox admitted thatWhen the right honourable the chancellor of the exchequer
first brought down his majesty's message, he had fairly stated
that he would not flatter them so far as not to tell them, that
by voting the address they pledged themselves to the pro


-bable risque of a war. But did the right honourable gentle-
man now mean to hold the same language? Would lie do
so, contrary to the opinion of every manufacturing town ill
the kingdom, contrary to the general sense of the country?


He was aware, Mr. Fox said, notwithstanding 0
much had been urged for the address then moved, and 0
little had been advanced against it, that, like the former
motions on the same subject, it would be decided against, by
•a majority of that House. He would tell the right honour-
able gentleman, however, why he had that majority. It .05'


1791.] WAR BETWEEN RUSSIA AND THE PORTE.
277


because they believed, though the right honourable gentleman
had never told them so, that he had changed his mind. That
he had changed his mind, Mr. Fox said, was clear and
evident, as he would prove to the House from circumstances.
They would recollect, that the Russian merchants had waited
on his grace the Duke of Leeds, and desired to know if
his majesty's ministers could give them any information
whether there would be a war with Russia or not? His grace
had given them for reply, " that his majesty's ministers were
so circumstanced, that it was impossible for them at that time
to give the merchants any answer." The House would also
recollect, that the Russian merchants had since waited on
Lord Grenville, and had received a message, which though
it did not formally state itself to be a ministerial message,
clearly was so. In that message, the merchants were told,
that they might safely navigate to the Baltic till the beginning
of Jul y


. Now, he wished to know why Lord Grenville was
more fit to give that answer to the merchants than the Duke
of Leeds? Besides, if dates were referred to, the House
would see that between the answer given by Lord Grenville
and the former answer of the Duke of Leeds, there could
not have occurred any thing that was not known at the time
of that answer. Mr. Fox laid great stress on this, rind said
the right honourable gentleman was master of his own honour,
hut he asked, if it was not the duty of the honourable gen-
tleman who made the motion, if it was not his own duty,
and the duty of every man in that House, to feel for the
honour of the country ? The majority he well knew reasoned
in this way,—" the minister has. never told us that he does not
mean to go to war, but we know him to be so good and
excellent a minister, that he will not go to war, although he
affects to have such an intention." Was it, Mr. Fox desired
to know, for the honour of the country, to arm for a negodi-
ation, which was to end in concession and -humiliation ? If
the right honourable gentleman did not niean to go to war,
why did the armament go ou at ail, but for the mere purpose,
as the minister thought, of enabling him to yield with some
degree of dignity, but, as he thought, with additional shame
anti disgrace? Ministers, he contended, after proving them-
selves bullies, had relinquished objects which they might
have commanded, and lost 'Opportunities which they mighthave unproved. They ought not, he said, to continue the
eaxliiiiie gone.celsof an armament, when every object of it was dead


It was, Mr. Fox said, the doctrine of the moment to hold
the prerogative high, and to contend, that it was one of the
undoubted prerogatives of the crown to declare War and make


T 3




278 MR. T. GRENVILLE'S MOTION RESPECTING THE [May 25.
peace. Under the sanction, therefore, of this prerogative,
while parliament was prorogued, and they were sent about
their business, the minister might plunge the country in to a
ruinous and destructive war. The minister had changed his
mind once, and what security had they, that he would not
change his mind again ? Was it any satisfaction to tell them,
that ministers had a claim upon their confidence, and they
had no reason to be afraid, because parliament must, in case.
of a war, be assembled as soon as possible, and then the-.
might refuse the supplies? Could they, or dared they ?
Fox asked. He would maintain, that they neither could nor
dared refuse the supplies. What, when they found the
country engaged in a war, and its honour committed ? Ijn.
doubtedly they must furnish the means of prosecuting the
war, and then they were reduced to that miserable expedient


the remedy of responsibility and punishment ! That this
might be a compensation in some cases he admitted, but
would it be any compensation to an injured people? Did the
people not know, that if parliament had not been sitting at
the time, all these consequences might have happened?
Parliament being sitting had saved the minister, though that
was a very small consideration. Indeed, parliament being
sitting, had more than once, he believed, saved the country.


Mr. Fox here considered the case in both points of view;
namely, whether the minister had changed his mind and did
not go to war, or, on the contrary, if he pursued his original
intention and did go to war; and contended that, take it which
way they would, the consequences would be mischievous and
disgraceful. He would, he said, take the best alternative,
and suppose the right honourable gentleman's mind to be
changed. In that case, when they went back to their con-
stituents in the country, how were they to answer for the
expellees they had put them to 2 Their constituents would
ask, what did you arm for? Would they say, to make peace
between Russia. and Turkey? Or would they more truly say,
to give Dantzic and Thorn to Prussia, two places, of the
independence and liberty of which they were the avowed
guarantees ? Or would they say, we armed to insist an
Oczakow being restored to the Turks? Mr. Pox declare d, '
that when the real causes of our arming came to be known,
we should appear in the character of avowed bullies, and
become the laughing-stock of all Europe. He commented
on the absurdity of our forcing our interference, as nego-
tiators, upon Russia, and insisting that she should give up
Oczakow, and all the deserts belonging to it, to the Porte.
He said, take the ease the other way, and suppose that the
right honourable gentleman had not changed his mind, it


1791.] WAR BETWEEN RUSSIA. AND THE TORTE.
279


would then be ten times worse. After calling upon the
sister to make out a story for them, and to furnish them with
some plausible reason to assign for their conduct, he declared
if he were to assign without doors the reasons, and the only
reasons which he had heard from the minister's friends, for
our having armed, and one of those friends were to hear him
stating those reasons to his constituents, he should not be
surprised if that friend of the minister were to say, " Take
care of Mr. Fox, he is deceiving you. The minister does
130I mean to go to war at all." He asked, if the secret, that
we were not going to war, had got out here, did the right
honourable gentleman think that they would not soon know
it at Petersburgh? It came with an ill grace from us, he said,
that we should set up for the character of the peace-makers
of Europe. He asked, were we yet acquitted of having
occasioned the very war to which we pretended to put an
end ? Report charged us with the fact. Report also imputed
to us the drawing Sweden into the last war ; and the grief
we expressed when Sweden made peace with the empress
without us, rather served to confirm the suspicion. Nor were
we altogether free from its being thought that the late dis-
turbances in the Netherlands were owing, in a great measure,
to our intrigues. While, therefore, we assumed the cha-
racter of peace-makers, we stood charged with having em-
broiled all Europe. Would the king's minister, he asked,
deny, that if it had not been for his interference, peace would
have been established between Russia and the Porte long
ago? Mr. Fox reprobated what he termed the new doctrine,
that out of every defensive treaty grew a defensive system,
which gave us a power to attack any one of our allies. Per-
petual interference, he said, would, in that case, occasion
perpetual war. He spoke of the degree of power that the
mere accident of the present situation of France had given
us, and declared, that hail we used it rightly, we might have
done any thing. Such a situation had never before, he said,
occurred, and ought to have been wisely used. In the reign


h
01 Queen Anne, or any of the most glorious periods of our
istory, no such situation had occurred, nor any like it. If


it, had, what a use would the Duke of Marlborough or Lord
Godolphin have made of it ! It was, he declared, the mere
effect of chance that we had it in our power to make our-
selves so potent. We might say with the poet,


Quod optanti Divum promittere nemo
Auderet, volvenda dies en attulit ultro.


What Cardinal Richelieu, or any of the first ministers of
any age or time, would have given any thing to possess, the


T 4




2 80 . GREY'S MOTION RESPECTING [June 2.


right honourable gentleman had totally thrown away. The
right honourable gentleman had put himself, and not hiniselt
only, but his country, in such a situation, as whole years of
moderation and pacific measures were necessary to wipe away,
and would scarcely retrieve.


After Mr. Pitt had replied to Mr. Fox, the House divided,


Tellers. Tellers.
YEAS t Sir


James Erskine
Mr. M. A. Taylor 4.— NOES 1Mr.


Steele
Win Adams. 2°8.


So it passed in the negative.


. MR. GREY'S MOTION FOR AN ADDRESS, IMPLORING His
MAJESTY NOT TO PROROGUE THE PARLIAMENT 'WITHOUT
COMMUNICATING SOME DISTINCT INFORMATION RELATIVE
TO THE CAUSE OF THE PRESENT ARMAMENT.


June 2.


Tms day Mr. Grey moved, " That an humble Address be pre-sented to his majesty, to express the deep concern his faithful
commons felt at being called upon for a promise to make good the
expence of new preparations for war, after having been so recently
obliged to impose on their constituents additional taxes on account
of the late armament in Spain : Humbly to represent to his ma-
jesty, that in the answer which they gave to his majesty's most gra-
cious message, his faithful commons acted on a firm reliance that
his majesty's paternal care and regard for the welfare of his people
would not suffer him, by a causeless interference in the disputes of
other countries, to endanger the peace and tranquillity of this :
That no inquiry was made into the particular circumstances which
had induced his majesty to arm, and a promise of support was given
as indefinite as the object for which it was demanded : That since
that period two months have elapsed ; the preparations for war
are still continued—the expence, for which his majesty's faithful
commons must hereafter provide, is daily increasing—no informa-
tion as to its cause or object has yet been given ; and if parliament
should-now be prorogued, his majesty's faithful commons will be
placed in the disagreeable, and hitherto unprecedented situation,
of returning to their constituents, after having, by a vote of this
House, subjected them to new burdens, the extent of which they
cannot limit, and the justice or necessity of which they cannot ex-
plain : For these reasons, and others which the circumstances of
the times may suggest, his majesty's faithful commons humbly Im-
plore his majesty not to prorogue the parliament, till his majesty
shall have it in his power to communicate to theirs some distinct


179'•]


THE ARMAMENT AGAINST RUSSIA. 281


information relative to the cause of the present armament ; in
order that, if actual hostilities should take place, and it should
be necessary for his majesty to incur any farther expence, his
faithful commons may have an opportunity of exercising their
hitherto undisputed privilege, and discharging their most im-
portant duty, in considering the extent and propriety of the same;
es well as of assisting his majesty by their advice, to form a justjudgment both as to the expediency of past measures, and the
policy of future councils: And they humbly beg leave to assureP. -h is majesty, that they will cheerfully forego the private benefits
and comforts of an early recess to fulfil a duty highly necessary
to the public satisfaction, and of the utmost importance to the
policy, if not to the salvation, of the state."—Mr. Fox and Mr.
Sheridan both rose to second the motion. It was first opposed by
Mr. l3ragge, who observed, that the honourable mover thought that
the House was indefinitely pledged to support a war ; so far from
it, the vote the House had given, when they sent up an address in
answer to the message, was to enable his majesty to arm. They
still had the purse in their hands, as no money had yet been voted
for a war. When he looked back upon the conduct of the chan-
cellor of the exchequer, saw how he had conducted himself, and
that he had obtained, even from his adversary, a confession that
he was a fortunate minister, his friends had a fair right to impute
that to his wisdom, his integrity, and his abilities, which his ene-
mies ascribed merely to his good fortune. The House, he said,
were bound in consistency to reject the present motion.—Mr.
Whitbread, since he saw the minister was determined to persist in
hiscontemptuous silence, said he should thank his honourable friend
for having brought forward his motion, which afforded him an op-
portunity of expressing his indignation at the conduct of the poli-
tical Procrustes of the times, who fitted his patients to the size of
his bed, and not his bed to the size of his patients, but lopped oft' or
added just as suited his own purpose. If he were in a situation,
which he flattered himself he never should be found in, namely,
that of having given the present minister his confidence, and upon
parliament being prorogued, his constituents should ask him what
was the object and extent of the vote he had in their name given,
he desired to know what answer he could make? If he said, lie
really knew nothing of the matter, would not his constituents say,did you vote without knowing fur what ? did you not ask the mi-
nister the question? did you sleep upon the post we put you upon
to watch over and guard our interests ? Then would they say, we
must pronounce you unfit to be any longer our representative,
since you are either ignorant or corrupt.


Sir Elijah Impey opposed the motion. He reminded the House,that the minister had said, he should think it his duty, before hos-
til ities commenced, to lay before the House distinctly the grounds
upon which it was deemed necessary to enter into that hostility.
The answer to this was motion after motion, upon which the House
had severally voted in favour of the minister, and surely there was
a time when the question ought to be set at rest. An honourablegen tleman, Sir Elijah observed, had asked what lie was to tell his




282 MR. GREY'S MOTION RESPECTING [June
constituents, when they enquired for what his vote had been given >
That honourable gentleman ought to tell his constituents the truth;
that it was to enable his majesty to arm in order the more effectu-
ally to negociate; but, that if war should be necessary, the House
would know the grounds of it before hostilities commenced.
Mr. Pitt said, that his majesty's ministers had been so often per.
sonally alluded to, and especially by the honourable and learned
gentleman who had just sat down, that he was extremely desirous
of being perfectly understood. He had undoubtedly stated, that
by the vote which the House had come to upon his majesty's mes.
sage, they had not pledged themselves to support a war, should the
negotiation end in hostilities ; but if that should unfortunately be
the case, that whenever gentlemen were called upon to vote either
money or approbation, it would be the duty of ministers to state,
and to state distinctly, what the grounds and occasion of' those
hostilities were.


Mr. Fox said, he was extremely anxious to rise, while the
right honourable gentleman's words were fresh in the me-
mory of the House, and to call the attention of gentlemen
to the wide and essential difference between the statement of
the right honourable gentleman, and that of his honourable
and learned friend (Sir Elijah Impey). When the latter had
concluded, he was ready to get up and entreat his honourable
friend to withdraw his address, if' gentlemen on the other side
would adhere to what the honourable and learned gentleman
bad said, which was, that parliament were not pledged by any
vote to agree to a war, and that before hostilities commenced,
the minister must lay before them the grounds for going to
war; in that case, all he would have asked, instead of the
address, would have been a resolution, that the minister could
not go to war without giving previous notice to that House.
However, it was better as it happened, that he had given
way to the right honourable gentleman who spoke last, and
who had stated the matter in a very different light. For he
bad said, that we had already voted an armed negotiation;
but should that negotiation unfortunately end in war, when
he came to ask supplies for the expellee of that war, he
should think it his duty to lay the grounds of that war before
the House; so that in place of parliament having previous
notice, and its being in their power to prevent a war, should
they Clisapprove of it, which he was sure they must, they
were to be prorogued upon the eve of its commencement,
and when called together six months afterwards, would have to
defray the heavy expellee of carrying it on all that time ; which,
it would be impossible to refuse after it was incurred. Now,
he would state, Mr. Fox said, by way of hypothesis, that
this war, which must be disapproved of, had been going oil
during the time they were absent; a great increase of the'


1791'] THE ARMAMENT AGAINST RUSSIA. 283
3rrav, navy, and supplies, ordinary and extraordinary, must
be called for; he would therefore ask, whetilee it would not
be more rational to stop the calamity in the outset, than to
come to parliament for advice or assistance, after not only
this country, but many other powers, might be entangled in
a ruinous and expensive war? The first was most likely to
secure the peace and happiness, the other the certain way to


the blood and waste the treasure of the country. His
constituents,
onstituents, he said, were not far off, and their sense might


be soon known. But on the opening of the session, it was
much boasted, that the address to his majesty was moved by
the representative of a great county, and seconded by the
representative of a rich and populous city. And what, he
would ask, could any of them say to their constituents? Why,
that they had voted for a foolish armament, they knew not
why, and had voted away large sums of their money with-
out knowing wherefore ! All this, however, must be done
from confidence in the minister, and a delicacy about in-
terfering with the king's prerogative; —for, upon a strange
construction of prerogative, they were not to interfere to
prevent an unjust war, but when ministers came to ask mo-
ney for the expense of it, they were to lay the grounds of
the war before the House — a very great satisfaction to be
sure; — but he feared that would be but cold comfort to their
constituents. It had been said, that we were to arm, (but
not to go to war,) from confidence. This was a different
question : but the fair state of the business,. he said, was, that
while they gave confidence to ministers, they were to remain
in town; and when it was their duty to watch the conduct of
ministers and the interests of their constituents, they were
to be dispersed over4the country ; so that *hen they were to
confide, which they might as well do in their houses in the
country, they were to be present; and when they ought to
watch, they were to be absent ! And supposing when they
were called together in November, they shduld find, that
While parliament was not sitting, the country had been plunged
into war, and an accumulated load of expellee had been
heaped upon their constituents without their approbation,
consent, or knowledge, — why, terrible and destructive as
this prospect would be, all power to prevent it would be taken
froze parliament by the prorogation, and the mischiefs of this
rash and unprofitable system would be knoi,va when too late
to be remedied. For, assuredly, peace was not so easily to
be made, as it was to be broken !


At the commencement of this war, when it is the duty
aPC1 the right of' parliament to enquire into and know the
situation of the country, the king's minister tells them,




2 84 MR. GREY'S MOTION RESPECTING [June
that they shall not continue to sit ; and, having got so mach
confidence for his negociation, till they arc to be called upon
for the expences of the war, they arc not to know why it Nvas
entered into; and for this unparalleled and monstrous con.
duct of ministers, they shelter themselves, as usual, under
state secrecy, which they find amazingly useful upon all si-
milar occasions. Much had been said about consistency,
and the period at which it would be the duty of ministers to
give some explanation, though some gentleman had gone so far
as to say it might never arise, particularly the honourable and
learned gentleman who had given him a speech for his constitu-
ents, and had told him to say to them, that he had voted from
confidence in the king's minister for a negociation, and that
the minister had referred him to a period when, perhaps,
explanation might be given. This, and the king's prero-
gative to involve the country in a war, were the two good rea-
sons they were to have for all the calamities that must attend it!
Upon such a speech to their constituents, would they not
have a good right to say, — " You are unworthy of the trust
we have reposed in you; you have fled from your duty, and
have risked our blood and treasure, and imposed fresh and
oppressive taxes upon us." For he would maintain,' that
it would be impossible for the House of Commons to refuse
to pay the expences when they met in November; and there
was no other way of raising the money, but by taking it
from the pockets of the people by taxes. In this country
it had been understood, that the people could not be taxed
without their consent, given by their-representatives in par-
liament; but this constitutional language was exploded, and
we were told that it might be otherwise, because the expellees
were incurred upon the right of the king and his ministers
to involve the country in a war, without the consent of par-
liament; which, Mr. Fox said, he absolutely denied, strongly
as it had been put that night. It was true, the king could
make war; but could he command a fleet or an army without
the mutiny bill ? Could he raise a shilling to pay them ? In
short, admit the right of the Commons to grant or withhold
the supplies, and give him his great prerogative, and what
was it ? But gentlemen said, we are not asking much ; trust
the king and his ministers only with a few of your privileges,just a small armament or so, only to put the nation tolittle expellee of blood and treasure. For his part, lie would
say, no. If you once say A, you may soon say B, and
therefore, however much he respected the just prerogatives of
the crown, he never would encroach on the privileges of the
people.


1 THE ARMAMENT AGAINST RUSSIA. 285179'
When a prorogation of parliament without the advice of


parliament, was mentioned, we were told,—" Beware, you are
infringing upon the king's prerogative, who has the undoubted
right to dissolve and prorogue parliament." God forbid that
this House should attempt to wrest any of the king's pre-
rogatives from him ; and much, they were told, ought to
be confided in the proper use of it ! These might be fine
words, and sound well ; but then came another prerogative,
that of involving the country in a war without the consent of
parliament, which likewise must not be interfered with.
Was this either a decent or right way of arguing, or was it
not the most extraordinar y


that could have been used ? Were
we in the situation which this extended and novel idea of
prerogative placed us, our situation would be that of an
absolute monarchy of the very worst sort. Knowing all this,
then, what must the country think of the mysterious pro-
ceedings of the present session, and more particularly its
abrupt and improper prorogation, should it take place ! If
an answer might soon be expected from Russia, could there
be any good reason for proroguing before that came? Should
the negociation terminate in hostilities, there must be an
increase of the army, an increase of the navy, and an increase
in many establishments, which would amount to very large
sums; and when they met in November, all this must be
provided for, whether the cause of the war was approved or
not. The expences, such as stores laid in, and other articles,
were of a nature that it was impossible for parliament to avoid
paying them; whatever the amount might be. For all this
calamity, and all the other bad effects that must follow an
unjust and impolitic war, what was the recompense? It had
been said, that ministers were responsible for what they did.
Undoubtedly they were. But what was the punishment of
a minister? It might serve as an example, but it could not
atone to the country for the ruinous disasters that his folly,
ignorance, or rashness had occasioned.


Mr. Fox said, he was surprised to hear the lateness of the
season so often mentioned, when it was known that in preced-
ing years they had sat much later. But, perhaps, it would
be said, that there were more urgent and important causes
for it; that the country was in an uncertain and alarming,
Situation ; or that we had much to fear from the situation of
other powers. With what degree of justice this was to be
said, he left to the House to determine. This measure might
now suit the minister's convenience, by getting rid of the par-
liament, but it might also ultimately be his ruin. He seemed
to wish for an absolute power over the House, from the vote
they had already given ; which no minister would, however





286 MR. GREY'S MOTION RESPECTINGy [June 2,


fond of prerogative, hold long over a parliament in that
country.


It had been said, that he. had called the right honourable
gentleman a great and a fortunate minister ; and then he was
reminded of the auspices of Csar and other great names of
antiquity, as if what he called fortunate, other men would
call wise. He knew all this. He knew that where a series
of success had followed the conduct of any man, that which
his enemies might attribute to fortune, his friends would withj ustice ascribe to wisdom. But in this sense, he had never
called the right honourable gentleman either great or fortu-
nate. He had described him as great in situation, and great
in power, by fortunate circumstances, over which he had no
control'', and in producing which he had no influence. The
revolution in France, for instance, he bad often described as a
most fortunate circumstance;—as an event by which this
country was exalted to pre-eminence among the states of
Europe, which could not have been attained by any other
means. Would the right honourable gentleman or his friends
contend, Mr. Fox asked, that the wisdom of the right ho-
nourable gentleman had any concern in bringing about that
revolution ? That was, indeed, a fortunate event for the mi-
nisters of this country. Most unfortunate, however, had been
the use of it ! Instead of availing himself of the advantages
which it presented, which even obtruded upon him ; instead
of exhibiting the temperance, the moderation, the disposition,
to conciliate, so conducive to the honour and the interest of
a great nation; be had thrown them all away by rashness
and insolence ; for friendship he bad procured enmity, for
respect contempt. He had descended from the high eleva-
tion on which fortune had placed him, and had reduced him-
self to the necessity of having recourse to temporary shifts
and expedients, by what he should ever consider as the most
deplorable incapacity.


Mr. Fox said, let his friends look to the consequences;
but let them not, when those. consequences were too sensibly
felt to be disguised, take the reverse of their present argu-
ment, and say, " What you call impolitic, we call unfortu-
nate." He wished the present question might be carried by
a great majority. If it were not, he wished the majority to
be as respectable as possible; but, were there none to Vote
for it but his honourable friend who moved it and himself;
with his honourable friend he should be proud to divide.
His honourable friend, it was said, was put forward as the
weakest of the party. Well might they say, Ex pede He"
CU/CM ! What must be the strength of that party of which his
honourable friend was the weAkest? If the question, in effect'


I S


-9 2.] ADDRESS ON THE KING'S SPEECH. 287


sure, that his honourable friend, by bringing forward the


had been already decided, it was far from improper to renew


make it far from a desperate experiment. Of this he was


question, had merited the gratitude of posterity, and would


honourable and learned gentleman had said, that the minister
receive the thanks of his constituents and his country. The


atents, would lend his aid to impeach him. The system of


the hatred and contempt of Europe. It might be truly and.


he did not give that account, he trusted the honourable and
must give an account of his conduct at the proper time. If


foreign politics which we had adopted, rendered us at once


emphatically described in the four words, once applied by a
great statesman to the measures that gave birth to the Ame-
rican war— alloszon, detestabile,


caducunz.


it hi
another shape; and even where other men had failed,


the strength of his honourable friend was such as to


;i•ned gentleman, notwithstanding his dislike to impeach-


After the motion had been opposed by Mr. Dundas, , and sup.
ported by Mr. Windham and Mr. Sheridan, the House divided,




Tellers.
Tellers.


M . Gr y
Mr. Steele


Mr. M. A. Taylor 1 75 ' NOES
Mr. J. Smyth


YEAS 170.


So it passed in the negative.


IDDItESS ON THE KING'S SPEECH AT THE OPENING OK
THE SESSION.


Jammu 31. 1792.


DARLIAMENT vas•
not assembled until the 31st of January


mg speech :
1792, when his majesty opened the session with the follow-


. " My lords, and gentlemen; The many proofs which you haveg iven of your affectionate attachment to my person and family,
care me no doubt of your participating in the satisfaction which I.
derive from tine happy event of the marriage which has been cele,
braced between my son, the Duke of York, and the eldest daugh-
ter of my good brother and ally the King of Prussia: and I am
Persuaded that I may expect your ehearful concurrence in enabling;Il e to make a suitable provision for their establishment—Since I
'..ast met you in parliament, a definitive treaty has been concluded
:Idand rny mediation and that of my allies, the King of Prussiathe States General of the United Provinces, between tine em-pe


ror and the Ottoman Porte, on principles which appear tine best




288 ADDRESS ON THE KING'S SPEECH. [Jan. 31.


calculated to prevent future disputes between those powers. n
—ur


intervention has also been employed, with a view to promote a pa.
cificatiou between the Empress of Russia and the Porte ; and coil.
ditions have been agreed upon between us and the former of those
powers, which we undertook to recommend to the Porte, as the
re-establishment of peace on such terms appeared to be, under aft
the existing circumstances, a desirable event for the general he
terests of Europe. I am in expectation of speedily receiving the
account of the conclusion of the definitive treaty of peace, preli.
minaries having been some time since agreed upon between those
powers.— I have directed copies of the definitive treaty between
the Emperor and the Porte to be laid before you, as well as such
papers as are necessary to shew the terms of peace, which have
been under discussion during the negotiation with the court of
Petersburgh.—I regret that 1 am not yet enabled to inform you
of the termination of the war in India ; hut the success which has
already attended the distinguished bravery and exertions of the
officers and troops under the able conduct of Lord Cornwallis,
affords reasonable ground to hope that the war may speedily be
brought to an honourable conclusion.—The friendly assurances
which I receive from foreign powers, and the general state of affairs
in Europe, appear to promise to my subjects the continuance of
their present tranquillity. Under these circumstances I am in-
duced to think that sonic immediate reduction may safely be made
in our naval and military establishments ; and my regard for the
interests of my subjects renders me at all times desirous of availing
myself of any favourable opportunity to diminish the public ex-
pences.


" Gentlemen of the House of Commons; It will, I am persuaded,
give you great satisfaction to learn that the extraordinary expences
incurred in the course of the last year, have, in a great measure,
been already defrayed by the grants of the session. The state of our
resources will, I trust, be found more than sufficient to provide
for the remaining part of these expences; as well as for the cur-
rent service of the year, the estimates for which 1 have directed to
be laid before you.—I entertain the pleasing hope, that the reduc-
tions, which may be found practicable in the establishments, and
the continued increase of the revenue, will enable you, after mak-
ing due provision for the several branches of the public service, to
enter upon a system of gradually relieving my subjects from seine
part of the existing, taxes, at the same time giving additional
efficacy to the plan for the reduction of the national debt, on the
success of which our future ease and security essentially depend .—
With a view to this important object, let me also recommend it to
you to turn your attention to the consideration of such measures
as the state of tile funds and of public credit may render practica:.
ble and expedient towards a reduction in the rate of interest ct
any of the annuities which arc now redeemable.


" My lords, and gentlemen ; The continued and progressive jay
provenient in the internal situation of the country will, I am con-
fident, animate you in the pursuit of' every measure which may be
conducive to the public interest. It must, at the same time,


1792'1 ADDRESS ON THE KING'S SPEECH. 239
operate as the strongest encouragement to a spirit of useful industry
among all classes of my subjects, and above all, must confirm and
increase their steady and zealous attachment to that constitution
which we have found by long experience to unite the inestimable
blessings of liberty and order, and to which, under the favour of
providence, all our other advantages are principally to be ascribed."


The usual address in answer to the speech from the throne hav-
ing been moved by Mr. Charles Yorke, and seconded by Sir James
y[urray, Mr. Grey moved an amendment, by leaving out the
words, " although we cannot but regret that his majesty is not
vet enabled to inform us of the termination of the war in India, we
'reflect, with just satisfaction, on the success which has already
attended the distinguished bravery and exertions of the officers
and troops under the able conduct of' Lord Cornwallis ; and we
rejoice that his majesty sees reasonable ground to hope that the
war may be speedily brought to an honourable conclusion ;"
order to insert these words, " sensible of the disadvantages of a
procrastinated war, and convinced that it must be attended with
almost certain ruin to the finances of the company, we cannot
but observe, with the utmost regret, that the prospect which his
majesty held out to us, in his most gracious speech from the throne,
at the opening of the last session of parliament, has not yet been.
realized. At the same time gratefully to acknowledge his majesty's
paternal care and attention to the safety and happiness of his peo-
ple, expressed in his benevolent wish for the conclusion of a speedy
and honourable peace," instead thereof. The amendment having-
been opposed by Mr. Dundas,


Mr. Fox rose and expressed his regret, that after having
agreed in the address to his majesty on the opening of the
session for so many years, although during that time he had
generally differed from those entrusted with the administra-
tion of his government, he should now find himself obliged
to oppose any part of it, when it contained so many topics, on
which he, and every man who respected his majesty's personal
f
eelings, and rejoiced in the prosperity of the country, must


cordially concur.
On the first topic, no man could stand forward with more


re
adiness and sincerity than he did to congratulate his majesty.


N o man could participate more cordially in the satisfaction
Which his majesty derived from the illustrious connection
Which the Duke of York had formed, at once honourable to
himself, and auspicious to his country ; and he trusted there
would be no difficulty opposed to enabling his majesty to form
asuitahle and speedy establishment for his royal highness and
his consort.


Ry
To several other topics introduced into the address, he could
e his warmest approbation. The honourable gentleman


7, 40 moved it, seemed to approve, with a degree of reluctance,
that part of the speech which related to some reduction of our


YOL. Iv. Er


4




290 ADDRESS ON THE RING'S SPEECH.


[Jan. 3 /


naval and military force. He had always been of opinion
that such reductions might have been made at a much earlier
period ; but so little was he disposed to find fault with the past,


. and so happy to approve when he had an opportunity of ate.
proving, that provided the reductions were at last made in a
fair and effectual manner, so as to affbrd substantial relief to
the country, the honourable gentleman would be but a cold
supporter of the measure in comparison with himself.


The parts that related to the increase of the revenue, and
the general prosperity of the finances, must be satisfactory to
all who had an interest in the welfare of the country; but if
when the accounts came to be laid before the House, that in-
crease should be sufficient to defray the late extraordinary ex-
pellees, that circumstance would be no justification of the
conduct by which those expenses were incurred. It was no
excuse for unnecessary profusion, that the nation was pos.
sessed of unexpected resources; nor could any minister be al.
lowed to say, It is true I have been lavish of the public money,
but the public industry and the public wealth have outstript
my profusion. It had been said, Stultitiam patiuntur opes,'
but it would be a very dangerous assumption in politics, that
the wealth of any nation could be greater than national folly
would overcome.


Having said this much in general terms, Mr. Fox proceeded
to comment on other parts of the address, to notice the omis-
eion of some things which ought to have been mentioned in his
majesty's speech, and to state his reasons for voting the amend•
silent moved by his honourable friend. The gentlemen who
moved and seconded the address, had not confined their re-
marks to the terms of the speech, but had extended them to the
articles of the pacification effected by our mediation in con-
junction with our allies. For his own part, he was too blunt
to see, and too dull to comprehend, how either the new or the
old line of demarkation between the house of Austria and the
Ottoman Porte could be of the least importance to this Coq-
try ; but he could not help observing the curious manner IR
which the new line had been settled. It was said, in the first
instance, that preliminary articles had been settled between
the contending powers, on the foundation of the status quo:


not such a status quo as the French bad formerly devise
d, °


status quo as things ought to be, but a status quo
as they activ,


ally were before the war. This foundation, for the honou r 01
the mediating powers, was to be strictly maintained in thel


definitive treaty ; but before that definitive treaty was agreeui
upon, a new line of demarkation, by which a certain exteitsn
ratterritory was to be transferred from one to the other, wit
mico agreed upon the same day. This was ridiculous ;


I f


1792•]


ADDRESS ON THE KING'S SPEECH.
291


was of consequence to nations to prevent their proceedings
from being the subject of ridicule. Instead of negociating,
and even arming, to maintain an absolute status quo, and agree-ing in the same instant to a demarkation of limits, by which
that status quo was to be completely surrendered, how much
more honourable and dignified would it have been to have re-
sorted to the convenient term, " existing circumstances," as
applicable, surely, to the negociation with Austria, as to that
with Russia, and have taken the French status quo of things .
not as they had been, but as they ought to be in future.
While he animadverted on the absurdity of thus insisting on a
status quo in words, and conceding it in fact, he desired to be
understood, that neither for the new nor the old line of de-
markation, would he have agreed to hazard the hundredth
part of a British life, or the hundredth part °fa British pound.


On the negociation with Russia, the House were promised
the papers necessary for their information ; and till those pa-
pers were before them he should reserve what he had to say
on the subject. If the information was partially given, if
they were informed only of what all the world knew, and
.every thing most material for thorn to know was withheld, he
should be surprised indeed if any proof of the increasing
wealth and resources of the country could induce the House
to pay the expense of the armament. The honourable baro-
net who seconded the address had mentioned new circum-
stances arising as the reason that induced the minister to
recede from his original propositions. He had not, however,
been able to point out any of those circumstances, and at last
fairly put it upon the discussions that had taken place in par-
liament. The honourable baronet would not be more sorry
for what he had said, that he (Mr. Fox) and the gentlemen
who thought as he did on those discussions, considered it as.
the highest compliment to their exertions, and as tending to
secure to them the approbation and the confidence of their
constituents and their country. In calling upon the good sense
of the country, in warning the people of their danger, and
obliging the minister to abandon the most absurd and impo-
litic attempt that ever was conceived, they had done their
duty then, and had now the consciousness of having done
signal service to the nation. But it was said, that these dis-
cu


ssions provoked the contest; that but for them Russia wouldhave yielded. That it would not have been for the interest of
a


ussia to contend at the hazard of a war, he was ready to
admit ; but that the government of a country, like that ofkits:slit, not immediately under the control of public opinion,
'night have been impelled by resentment or obstinacy, to re-sist


, even at the hazard of war,. was at least a probable sup-
IT 2




29?. ADDRESS ON Tim KING'S SPEECH. [J an. 3 /.


position. The empress had declared that she would not yield,
and the minister also that he would not. On this supposn
tion, what must have been the consequence, had not the
minority in parliament, and the sense of the public, inter-
posed ? The minister would have gone on with his menaces;
the empress would have persisted in her claims ; and he must
either have gone to war for an object which was now admitted
both by himself and his friends as not worth going t war for,
or exposed the nation by receding, as the bully, instead of the
mediator of .Europe. " I meant to intimidate the empress,"
he must have said ; 46 I trusted to her fears, but she was not
to be intimidated ; I was therefore under the necessity of apo-
logizing for the peremptoriness of my demands, by the hu-
mility of my retraction ; for the insolence of my menaces, by
the meanness of my submission." Such must have been the
consequences, but for the interposition of those who thought
as he did, and had the courage to avow it ; unsuccessful,
indeed, in numbers, but strong in argument. Ministers on
that occasion were not ashamed to persuade a majority to sup-
port that as of the highest importance to the interests of Great
Britain and her allies, which they themselves had predeter-
mined to give up as of no importance at all. How they who
had been so persuaded, or their leaders, felt on the subject,
he knew not. He knew how he. himself should have felt in
either situation. The honourable baronet who seconded the
address, had, in the course of the last session, stood almost
single in maintaining the great consequence of Oczakow in
the scale between Russia and the Porte. They, therefore,
who proposed to him to second au address, in which all that
he had then said was in fact now unsaid, after having so long
relied on the confidence of others, were at last determined to
display no less a degree of confidence in themselves. It re-
quired no moderate share of confidence to say to any gentle-
man, " That which you so ably contended for as of the highest




importance, we have abandoned as of none. Will you have the
goodness to move an address, approving of what we have
done?" The honourable baronet seemed to feel the awkwar


d-
ness of his situation, and was obliged to shelter himself
behind the cover of existing circumstances. What those
existing circumstances were, he had not condescended to
state.


For the farther discussion of that negociation, he waited
for the papers promised to the House.. He hoped when
they came-they would be complete, and afford ample room for


and fair discussion. They were obliged to his majesty' }or
his gracious promise of granting the papers ; for if the noose
persisted in the opinion adopted, last year with respect to


.14111'


1792.]
ADDRESS ON THE KING'S SPEECH.


293


convention with Spain, they had no other means of obtaining
any information on any negociation pending or concluded.
If they could not ask for papers, they could only obtain them
by his majesty's gift. In that opinion, however, he trusted
they did not persist ; consistency in evil being not a virtue, but
a crime. The doctrine of last


. year was, that papers were
never to be called for respecting any negociation or any
treaty, unless there appeared on the face of it such strong pre-
sumptions of criminality as seemed to call for the impeach-
ment of ministers, and induce them to fill their address with
threats of gibbets and axes. The papers, he trusted, fbr the
sake of ministers, were not given on this, but on the good
old parliamentary doctrine ; not on his majesty's reasoning
with himself that he had armed to support a negociation, and
when the armament was ready to act, given up the whole ob-
ject fbr which he armed ; that in this conduct of his minis-
ters there was something so absurd, as made it adviseable,
without waiting for an address from the House, filled with
the harsh and ungracious terms of impeachment, axes, and
gibbets, to send down the papers, and submit the whole busi-
ness to a fair investigation. This he could not believe to be
the motive of his majesty's promise, any more than that the
House, or even the ministers had ever seriously adopted as
a general principle, the doctrine of last session with respect topapers.


j
With respect to the repeal of taxes, as suggested in his ma-


esty's speech, and most properly observed on by his honour-
able friend who moved the amendment, as infringing on, the
privileges of the House of Commons, for the uncandid and
delusive purpose of catching at surreptitious popularity, he
could not but remark, that the observations of his honourable
friend had been treated by the right honourable secretary with.
a degree of levity unsuitable to the subject. To originate taxes,
and to originate the repeal of taxes, was the peculiar right of the
House; and any infringement, or any thing short of an infringe-
ment, that seemed to call in question that right, might be taken
up as a breach of privilege. It was not, however, in that point
of view that he meant to consider it. Time situation of the
country was that of owing a debt of vast magnitude, for
Which a great interest, was payable, in possession of peace, and
an increasing revenue. For the reduction of the debt, the
House had appropriated one million annually ; but in doingthat, they never meant to decide that in case the revenue
should increase, they would apply no more than a million to
the reduction of the debt and remit taxes to the amount of all
t he surplus above that sum. How much they ought in


any
u 3




294 ADDRESS ON THE KING'S SPEECH. [Jan, 3


circumstances to apply to the reduction of the debt, and how
much to the immediate relief of the people by a remission of
taxes, was a question of great importance and difficulty. The
extreme, that the whole surplus was .to be applied to pay
off debt, or go to the remission of taxes, was not to be
maintained on either side. What the mean might be was not
easy to determine, and being so, the discussion should be free.
Above all, it was extremely unfit that men's minds should be
prejudiced by the authority of an opinion expressed by his ma-jesty. The speech expressed a hope that the reduction of
establishments, and the increase of the revenue, would enable
them to enter on a system of relieving his subjects from part
of the existing taxes. Now, what would be the case when
they came to debate? Suppose he, or any other member, or
even the majority of the House, to be of the harsh opinion
that none of the taxes ought to be remitted— an opinion
which he was far from entertaining at present or believing that
he should form, and which be put merely for the sake of ar-
gument —in what a situation would they be placed ! To the
public it would appear that the king was willing to alleviate
the burdens of the people, but that their own representatives,
feeling less for them than he did, persisted in making them
bear what his majesty was willing to remit. And, were men
to be deterred from giving their honest opinion on a subject
of such moment, or exposed to obloquy and odium if they
did ? The functions of that House most directly felt by the
people were most of them ungracious ; that of imposing taxes,
and making rigorous laws for collecting them, particularly so ;
and it was neither just nor wise to teach them to look to the
crown for every instance of grace and favour, and to their re-
presentatives for burdens and restraints. On what principle
was it that the Lords could neither propose a new tax, nor the
repeal of an old one ? The repeal of a tax was not certainly
levying money on the subject, and yet the Commons had
always been as jealous of the one as the other. For what rea-
son, but that the House might never be put into the unplea-
sant situation he had mentioned, of appearing to continue
taxes, from which the lords, or the king, thought the people
might be relieved ? lie repeated, that he spoke on this sub-ject from no previous opinion, that it would riot be adviseableto remit part of these taxes, and put the supposition hypothe-
tically. To form any opinion on the subject, it was necessary
to have before him the accounts of the expellees and the in-
come, of all which lie was yet ignorant. He wished only to
be free to form an opinion when the documents were before
him, without any apprehension of popular odium to bias his
judgment. It had been asked, if lie would deny to the king


1792.] - ADDRESS ON THE KING'S SPEECH. 295


the pleasing part of suggesting the repeal of taxes, when he
bad often the unpleasant duty of suggesting the imposing of
them ? The king's pleasant part was, the giving his assent to
the repeal, as the unpleasant part of originating new taxes,
and the pleasant part of originating the repeal of old, ought
to fall equally to the House of Commons. It was not, he
believed, correct, that the king ever did recommend taxes.
He recommended -measures that required money to support
them, but it was the exclusive privilege of the House to pro-
vide that money by imposing taxes, or otherwise. The right
honourable secretary had said, that not the king's recommen-
dation, but the repeal of taxes, without the substitution of
others, was the novelty. Did he mean to say, that taxes never
before were repealed or reduced ? 'Within one, two, or three
years after the conclusion of every war, except the last, a re-
mission to the amount of half a million had taken place by the
reduction of the land tax, and that without any suggestion
from the king. It was, therefore, not the thin;, but the
mode that was new. When the land tax was reduce] from
four to three shillings in the pound, in 1 763, had he been
then in parliament, he should have voted against that reduc-
tion. Had he done so after a recommendation from the
throne, lie should have been in the precise situation in which
he had shown, that neither the House nor any individual
member could be entirely free from prejudice.


He had dwelt more particularly on this circumstance, which
lie believed originated in no design, Exit merely a mistake on
the part of ministers, because a strict adherence to the prin-
ciples on which the three branches of the legislature had long
acted with respect to taxes, tended to preserve that constitution
on which he had heard so many and so deserved encomiums-
To all such encomiums he most cheerfully subscribed, when•
they were not introduced indirectly and unfairly, with allusion-
to the affairs of other countries, and for the purpose of convey-
ing censure on other persons, as entertaining sentiments hostile
to the constitution. In


• this way they were often introduced.
against him, and those who, like him, did not consider them-
selves debarred by their reverence for the British constitution,
from reading and thinking and approving of what seemed
worthy of approbation in forms of government very different
from it. For himself, and those who, like him, had frankly
avowed their approbation of what bad passed in France, he
thanked the honourable baronet who seconded the motion, for
hating furnished him with a better expression than he could
have thought of for himself: The constitution of France was
essentially bad, and every thing was to be risked to destroy it;
the constitution of Great Britain is essentially good, and every


u 4




296 ADDRESS ON THE KING'S SPEECH. [Jan. 31.


thing is to be risked to preserve it It was in vain, therefore, to
say that they who rejoiced in the destruction of the one, must
wish for the destruction of the other. There was no similarity
between them. They were as radically different as good and
evil, as freedom and slavery, and never to be mentioned in the
same terms, or any inference made from the one to the other.
No man could think more highly, or with greater reverence
of the. fundamental principles of the British constitution than
he did. But he could neither shut his eyes, nor suspend the
operations of his reason ; and where he saw great mischiefs hap-
pen under any constitution, he could not help concluding, that
the constitution was in some part decayed, or imperfect.


It must have been owing to the unwillingness of ministers to
damp the pleasure arising from so many topics of satisfaction
as the speech from the throne contained, that with the men-
tion of the inestimable blessings of liberty and order, they had.
introduced no expressions of regret and concern at the violent
interruption of order that had occurred in the course of the
summer. Nothing, surely, but extreme reluctance to cast the
least shade over so many subjects of rejoicing could account
for such an omission. To read his majesty's speech one would
imagine, that nothing had happened to disturb the long experi-
ence ofliberty and order so earnestly recommended as the foun-
dation of all our other blessings. But the cautious omission
could not conceal the evil; it was impossible not to know and
not to lament, that, towards the close of the eighteenth cen-
tury, men, instead of following the progress of knowledge and
liberality, had revived the spirit and the practice of the darkest
and most barbarous ages; and that outrages, the most unpa-
ralleled and disgraceful, had been committed—disgraceful, he
meant, to the country, not to the ministers. They, it was to
be presumed, had done every thing in their power to prevent
and to check such detestable proceedings. But whether or not
they, and those who acted under them, had exerted themselves
as they ought in repressing the devastations of a mob, at all
times mischievous, but doubly so when it assumed the pretext
of supporting government or religion, was it not melancholy
to see that mob reigning triumphant for near a week in a rich
and populous part of the country, and those, whose duty it was
to have denounced the rigour of the law, addressing them ra-
ther in terms of approbation than rebuke? Was not this cal-
culated to cherish an idea which but too fatally appeared to
have been entertained, that- the principle on which they pr e


-tended to act was not disagreeable to government, however Ile-
cessary it might be to punish a few for the irregularity of their
proceedings ? He accused ministers neither of r,boldinff nor fa-
Touring such opinions. But when it could not be dissembled


1792.] ADDRESS ON THE KING'S SPEECH. 297


that such opinions had been held, if not inculcated, it would
Dave been well if his majesty had spoken of such riots, and their
pretext with horror, and of the exertions made to suppressP '
them, and punish both the authors and the actors, with ap-
probation. These were not riots for want of bread—such
every feeling heart must pity while it condemned : neither
were they riots in the cause of liberty, which, though highly
blameable, and highly to be reprobated by every good man
and every true friend to liberty, bad yet some excuse in their
principle. No, they were the riots of men neither aggrieved
nor complaining, but who, pretending to be the executers of
government, did not select individual objects of party animo-
sity, or private hatred, but by personal insult, violence, and
fire, set on foot an indiscriminate persecution of an entire
description of their fellow citizens, that had furnished persons,
as eminent, as good subjects, and as zealous supporters of the
family on the throne, as any other in the kingdom could
boast. Instead of passing over such acts in silence, ought not
his majesty's sentiments to have gone forth as a manifesto, ap-
plying to them every epithet expressive of abomination, which
the language could furnish? When men were found so deluded
as to suppose that their general object was not disagreeable to
government, a belief certainly unfounded, it might do much
more mischief than ministers were aware of: He had sup-
posed that all practicable measures were taken to put a stop
to these riots, and to punish those concerned in them as an
example to others ; but after they had threatened the person,
and destroyed the house of a man, distinguished by a life at-
tached to literat ure and useful science, of Dr. Priestley, whom
he named but to honour, when they had destroyed all the accu-
mulated labours of his youth, when they had demolished, what
neither money nor industry could replace, that which ought to
have been the solace and the ornament of his age, then came
from those whose rank and stations ought to have given them
influence, the slow desire to desist. How was this desire ex-
pressed, and bow reprobated a conduct, subversive of every
principle of civilized society? 4 4 Friends and fellow churchmen!
vie know you by the crosses and the banners you bear. You
have now done enough in this pious cause. What farther you
(10, you and we, your friends, must pay for. Your farther
exertions might be laudable, but they would be too expensive."


holding such degrading language to a riotous mob could
Prevent mischief till assistance arrived ; if it could save a house
from the flames, much more a life, perhaps the sense of strict
Propriety might yield without blame, to the immediate im-
pulse of compassion; but if neither of these was done, how
contemptible ! If they who held it were now ashamed of it,




298 ADDRESS ON THE KING'S SPEECH. Pan. 31.


so much the more was it incumbent upon them and govern-
ment to do away the impression it might have made, and to
declare their abhorrence of acts,.which they, in a moment of
weakness, seemed not to disapprove. He hoped, therefore,
that if an opportunity offered, this would still be done ; and
he had insisted on it the more largely, as he thought an occa..
sion might not offer of noticing it in parliament again.


Having remarked on the general topics and omissions of
the speech, he came now to give his reasons why he should
vote for the amendment. His majesty expressed his hopes,
that by the distinguished bravery and exertions of the officers
and :troops, under the able conduct of Lord Cornwallis, the
war might speedily be brought to an honourable conclusion.
These hopes were undoubtedly of less value, from his majesty's
having held out the same prospect last year, which they all
knew had not been , fulfilled. Had he declared his opinion
last year that the war would continue till now, he should have
been told that he was arguing against probability, the conclu-
sions of those who had the best means of information, and
especially the assurance of his majesty from the throne. Fresh
hopes were again held out, in which he must now have less
confidence from the failure of the last. " on desespdre, pond
on espere tonjours." They might renew their hopes from
year to year, but they must not forget, that constant hoping
lead at length to despair. The hopes last year were, that the
war would be terminated in a single campaign ; but unfor-
seen circumstances had retarded the accomplishment. Not
one circumstance had occurred that had not been foreseen,
or which those who undertook the war ought not to have con-
sidered. Was the monsoon an unforeseen circumstance? Did
it set in sooner, or with more violence than usual? Perhaps:
it might be said, that the bad conduct of our officers was the.
unforeseen circumstance; but here the House was most im-
properly called upon before the service on which they were
sent was accomplished, without any ground of judging but
that they had been unsuccessful, to approve of their conduct.
Without much knowledge of Lord Cornwallis, but with a
prepossession in favour of his character and talents, he would
not prostitute the praise of the House, by approving of the
conduct of an officer, who had done nothing as yet on which
a vote of approbation could be reasonably founded. In what
event of the present war were they to look for proofs of the
ability which they were called upon to praise? He had failed
in putting an end to the war within the time expected. 'Were
they to consider that as a proof of ability? He had marched,
too, against Seringapatam and failed; he had directed General
Abercrombie to approach it from another quarter, and whoa


/792'1 ADDRESS ON THE KING'S SPEECH. 299


preparing to form a junction with him, he found that im-
possible, from the intervention of a river; and the only
question then was, whether the army that he had ordered to
meet him, through passes so difficult as were never traversed
with cannon before, should get away safe—was this a pre-
sumption of ability ? If the retreat of that army, instead of
disgraceful and scandalous, had been most orderly and ably
conducted, would merely going back amount to a proof of
able exertion ? The circumstances of that retreat might be
owing to General Abercrombie, to his orders from Lord
Cornwallis, or to causes which neither of' them could prevent;
lie hoped it would yet appear that neither of them was to
blame; but till this did appear, how could the House praise
ability where they saw nothing but miscarriage and disgrace?
When we talked of distinguished bravery and exertions,- was
the character of the British army fallen so low as to make the
capture of an Indian fort, or a victory over an Indian army, a
matter of distinguished triumph and exultation ? Was this
the utmost that was to be expected from an army the most
numerous, the best disciplined, the best officered, and the best
appointed, as it had been always represented, that India ever
saw? Thank the stars of the British empire, our superiority
in arms had been always such, that much more important
conquests had been often achieved by


armies fitr inferior in
every respect to this ! Respecting the feelings of Lord Corn-
wallis, and having a regard for his character, he deprecated
this mode of insulting him with approbation, when there was
no rational ground on which to found it, and he called on the
friends of the noble lord to rescue him from such disgrace.
His honourable friend (General Smith) had asked, if Tippoo
thought the war procrastinated; if the powers of India thought
the war procrastinated? He had no occasion to resort to such
evidence, having the testimony of-Lord Cornwallis himself that
the war must be considered as procrastinated, if it lasted be-
yond the period of the monsoons. In the speech of last year,
the confidence inspired into the powers of India by the sanc-
tion of parliament, to the measures adopted by our government
there, was held out as one of our grounds of hope. Had he
known the extent to which this led, he should have opposed
the corresponding part of the address. That, however, did
not appear till the production of Lord Cornwallis's letter to
the Nizam sonic time after, in which his lordship writes, that
the directions of the British parliament will not allow him to
conclude an offensive treaty, but that the letter itself may be
considered as equivalent to one. This measure was wrong in
his opinion ; but at any rate it could not be said, that the
confidence of the native powers was engaged by the sanction




300 ADDRESS ON THE KING'S SPEECH. [Jan. 3 I.


of parliament, when the very agreement on which they were
acting was, if not a violation, at least an evasion of an act or
parliament. He had always considered the system of offensive
wars in India, as unjust, impolitic, and, whatever might be
their apparent success, eventually mischievous. That we
might be victorious in the present war he was still inclined to
believe; but if, as the right honourable gentleman had said,
towards the end of the last session, peace was the most desir-
able news from India, victory was not worth the hazard of
failure or defeat. It had been said that he himself was san-
guine last year in his hopes of success. From what he laid
heard of Lord Cornwallis and the army, he had been sanguine
in his hopes of brilliant victories, and, (their natural conse-
quence,) brilliant ruin to the company's finances. If the
right honourable gentleman could find leisure from his other
employments, (although, undoubtedly, they were numerous
enough to occupy almost all his attention,) to review the
history of another war, on the justice and the policy of which
be had likewise the misfortune to differ with him, he would
see how many splendid victories we had obtained, and how
many officers, both by sea and land, had been thanked for
their great and able exertions, yet all these victories and all
these exertions, led, as by one uniform tenour, to eventual
misfortune, and the loss of the entire object for which we were
contending. There was nothing in Lord Cornwallis's con-
duct in that war that induced him to think ill of his abilities,
and he had mentioned them incidentally, to illustrate his ar-
gument. For the victory at Camden, the thanks of the House
were voted him, and reached him just time enough not to pass
through the hands of an American general. Let not the
House anticipate success by their praise. Let the noble lord
conquer, and the due praise follow ; or let it appear that he had
deserved to conquer, and it would become the House to en-
deavour to repair the error Of fortune. But at present, while
all they knew for certain was, that he had formed great expec-
tations, and that those expectations had been disappointed, let
them speak with candour, and suspend both their praise and
their blame. Had he his nearest relation in a similar situation,
this was the line of conduct he would recommend towards hini,
considering nothing as more degrading than praise undeserved.
His honourable friend (General Smith) whose opinion on affairs
relating to India he should follow as soon as any man's, had
owned that his lordship had marched against Seringapatam at
period when he thought he ought not to have done so. Was th is
to be considered as an instance of ability or an act-deserving of
praise? The cause of General Abercrombie's precipitate retreat
was not yet known. He hoped both he and Lord Cornwallis


7921 ADDRESS ON THE KING'S SPEECH. 30!


would be able to justify their conduct; but the blame, if there
was any, lay between them, and the exculpation of the one
must fix it on the other. It was therefore wrong to express
an approbation of the one, which might look like deciding
on the case, and render it more difficult for the other to clear
up his character. Suppose General Abercrombie had been
included in this expression of approbation, how would it have
sounded ? Yet it was customary on thanking the commander
in chief, to thank all the officers under him, and no good
reason for the omission of General Abercrombie on the pre-
sent occasion could be given, except that it was impossible to
withstand the ridicule of praising his ability after such a
retreat. Yet no man was at present sufficiently informed to say
that General Abercrombie was in fault, and Lord Cornwallis
free from blame. If, in the course of his argument he had
said any thing disrespectful or unpleasing of Lord Cornwallis,
he was sorry for it. That he had been mentioned at all was
not imputable to him, but to the introduction of his name
into the speech and the address, which obliged him, in the
honest discharge of his duty, to say what he had said. There
was no custom that warranted expressions of approbation
where nothing had appeared but miscarriage and retreat.


On these grounds, Mr. Fox said he should support the
amendment. If on other topics of the speech and address
he had touched but lightly, especially on the first, he desired
it to be understood as owing to a sense of public duty and to
a respect to that House, which did not allow him to mix his
congratulations as a member of parliament on the marriage
of his majesty's son, with those of his own private sentiments
as a man, or to indulge the feelings of personal respect and.
individual attachment on a subject of general concern and.
national importance.


Mr. Pitt replied to Mr. Fox ; after which the House divided on
the question, " That the words proposed to be left out, stand part
of the question."


YEAS


Tellers. Tellers.
Colonel Phipps


2 09. — N /Mr. GreyOES •Mr. Robert Smith Mr. St. John j 85'
Mr. Grey's amendment was consequently negatived. The


address proposed by Mr. Charles Yorke was then put and agreed to.




30.t 'WAR IN INDIA. [Feb. 9.


MAJOR MAI'rLAND'S MOTION FOR PAPERS RELATING To
THE WAR IN INDIA.


_February 9•


'
CHIS day Major Maitland moved, " That there be laid before


the House, Copies or all orders or instructions from the court
of directors, or the secret committee, to the governments of
India, relative to the conduct to be observed towards Tippoo
Sultan, or the Nizam, from the 1st of January 1788 to the receipt
of the first accounts from India of the commencement of hos.
tilities with Tippoo. 2. Copies of minutes or all consultations of
the Bengal government relative to any negotiation between Earl
Cornwallis and the Nizam in 1789. 3. Copies of all correspond.
ence, between the court of directors, or the secret committee, and
the government of India, relative to any negotiation carried on
by Earl Cornwallis with the Nizam in 1789. 4. Copies of all
parts of letters from Earl Cornwallis, or the presidency of Fort
St. George, relative to a considerable sum of money promised by
Earl Cornwallis to the Mahrattas in June 1791. 5. Copies of all
,accounts received by the court of directors, in their public or
secret capacity, from their servants in India, relative to proposals
for peace, either written or verbal, made by Tippoo Sultan, since
the commencement of the present war in India, together with the
reasons assigned for not accepting the same, according to the
latest advices." The motion was seconded by Mr. Francis.. Mr.
Dundas, in reply to Mr. Francis, insisted that the producing of
papers relative to India must often be dangerous, from the sinister
interpretations which might be put on the discussions to wide!:
they gave rise, by the princes and chiefs in India, to whom, when
reported, they might wear an appearance very different from their
real scope and meaning. He assented, however, to the demand
of all the papers, except the last. He said there was ore.
measure of Lord Cornwallis, since he had been governor general
of Bengal, for which he was not ready to take upon himself
the most complete and unequivocal responsibility, and abide by
the consequences either of applause or blame. Let not gentlemen,
then, seek for an absent object of censure, since he had furnished
them with one more near at hand: here was a quarter against
which they were at liberty to direct all their arrows, and which
was prepared to receive them Ignorant as he acknowledged
himself to be of the precise extent of the expences of the present
war in India, he was ready to renew a former assertion, and to
declare, that the time was nearer at hand, when the resources of
India would be such as to administer aid to the revenue of this
country, than when India would have occasion to apply for assis t


-ance from the finances a this country.


1792'1 WAR IN INDIA. 303
Mr. Fox said, that he rose merely in consequence of an


imputation which had been thrown out by the right honour-
able gentleman upon him, and upon those who acted with him,
as if they felt a pleasure in attacking the characters of indivi-
duals, more especially of officers, who were absent on duty,
and had no means of defending themselves. He begged the
House would do him the justice to recollect, that he had ever
made it a rule during the number of years which he had sat
there, not to attack the character of an absent officer. He had
condemned the American,


• as well as the present Indian war,
and he had passed severe censures on those who were the
authors of it; but he never went so far as to animadvert upon
the professional conduct of those who were employed in com-
manding our forces by sea or land. The conduct of Lord
Cornwallis in that war had been often the subject of his appro-
bation. As far as regarded the military capacity of that noble
lord, he was always ready to give him credit for great abilities,
if his conduct seemed to warrant that opinion; but when he
-was called upon to vote an address, acknowledging the able
conduct of Lord Cornwallis, was he not forced, as it were,
to consider that conduct, and to enquire where the ability
consisted? The blame, if any, should rest where it was due
in this case; namely, with his majesty's ministers.


-Why was
the House called on to applaud Lord Cornwallis, and to
compliment him as an able officer, on the experience we had
of the war in India? Why was the House asked to praise,
where they had experienced only disappointment? This was
surely provoking a discussion in a manner equally unfair to
the character of the noble lord, and indecent on the part of
his majesty's ministers. After a series of nothing but cala-
mities and misfortunes, after a series of attempts and failures,
hopes and disappointments, they were called upon to vote
that the war bad been ably conducted. In all those occur-
rences he saw nothino.


like ability, nothing; which could afford


. .Linn ground of approbation. Forced into such a situation,
and such a dilemma, what was he to do ? Was he to sit silent,
or to consent to tell that to the king which he did not be-
lieve? Or was he to deliver his sentiments, and risk the
danger of being deemed uncandid and illiberal ? Never had
be felt such an abrogation of the freedom of debate as that
then insisted on. Was he to carry up falsehood to his
sovereign, to whom, as one of the most sacred duties of a
subject, he owed truth? Was he to carry up flattery and
adulation to the throne, and to applaud the conduct of Lord
Cornwallis, when he saw no reason to applaud it, and when,
perhaps, in the point of view in which it appeared there was
More reason to consider it as an object of censure ? Was this




304 WAR IN INDIA. [Feb. 9,
fit conduct to hold out for that House? Most unquestionably,
No ! And yet this must be the case, if he was to be told he
behaved with harshness against a brave officer, when he was
only doing what appeared to him, at least, to be his duty as: a
member of that House, namely, to speak the truth without
disguise on all occasions, and more especially when the in_
terest of the people required that no disguise should be used.
There was an end entirely of the utility of that House, if
its members, when they were delivering their opinions on the
characters of the commanders of our forces, were to be
stopped, and told that they were attacking the character of a
man who was not here to answer for himself, and that we
ought to suspend our censure until he came home. When
he was put to this dilemma, the blame ought to be on those
who compelled him to deliver his sentiments by their demand
of approbation, and who had obliged him to take such
part as he owed to his own conscience, and his duty to his
constituents.


He owned he had entertained no sanguine hopes of the
success of his honourable friend's motion; yet he was now
happy to find that his arguments had been attended to, and
that the papers called for were to be produced. He waa,
however, surprised at the difference of opinion that had taken
place since the notice given by his honourable friend of the
present motion, as the right honourable gentleman had cer-
tainly said on a former clay that he would oppose that motion,
and every one of the same kind. He must confess he was far
from being pleased with this declaration. It seemed to in-
troduce a system of which the right honourable gentleman
was too fond, and looked as if he meant to haul the minister's
friends through all the dirt and mud of his business, by tamely
and submissively relying upon him for their directions. VIPs
this a light in which the House of Commons of England
should be placed ? Were the representatives of the people
to be told, " When ministers are inclined to give intOrma-.
don to the country, you may vote for the production ,of
papers, but when they are not, you must resist every call tor
them, however proper, however necessary, or however con-,
sistent with the constitutional principles of this country.
This was pursuing too far that doctrine of confidence which
had been so much brought forward last session, and with re-
spect to which the right honourable gentleman had always
urged, in his opinion, the most unconstitutional arguments.
The right honourable gentleman had said, that it was mr
proper at all times to call for papers or information pending
a negociation, and that the result, whatever it might be,
should be sanctioned by a vote before any inquiry should. Iv


792'3


WAR IN INDIA.
305


made respecting the origin, circumstances, or conduct of it ;
a doctrine that he would never subscribe to, because he con-
ceived it to be fraught with every thing that was bad, and in
direct contradiction to the very nature of that constitution
which we were all so happy to pronounce an eulogium upon ;
and none could be more so than he was, when its theory was
attended to, and its practiee conformable to its real principles.
of those principles, the new-fangled system was


,
more sub-


versive than any of the
e wildest schemes that the :Wildest, of


modern reformers could ever have devised.
The right honourable gentleman had said, that the papers,


particularly the letter from Lord Cornwallis to the Nizam,
dated July 7. 1789, had been on the table three months before
the last session of parliament was concluded. It might be so :
for himself, he had no hesitation in declaring, at the same time
that he did not offer any excuse for his negligence, his
ignorance of the contents of that manuscript-paper, which, if
he recollected well, was laid on the table on the very day in,
the last session on which the last debate on the war in India
took place. The right honourable gentleman had said, it lay
there for three months after, and arraigned him and his friends
for their want of vigilance, by asking them why they had
omitted examining that letter sooner ? He would fairly tell
him that he had not even read it; for it must be in the re-
collection of the House, that a matter of very great importance
arose, to which his attention, the attention of the House, and
the attention of the country was naturally drawn. Be scarcely
needed to mention here the armament against Russia, a sub,
feet that excited the curiosity and the astonishment of all
Europe. So much had it occupied his mind, and so much
was he convinced that his duty to his constituents and to the
people of England, called for every effort he could exert, to
ward off the impending danger, that he was prevented from
turning his thoughts to any other subject. He would do hisf
riends the justice to say that he believed them equally inclined


to do their duty, and he was proud to add, what he thought
he might do without the imputation of vanity, that his exer-
tions had not been altogether useless, and though placed in
a minority, that .minority was found to have acted in con-formity with the wishes, and, what was of much more con-
sequence, the real interests of the country.


He would allow, that the right honourable gentleman had
eveloitt, eexi i.ts.1,,..emely consistent in one point;pendingwhich, of all others,ite conceived to be the most dangerous and inimical to the


131itish constitution; that was the proposition which he had0,, l
aid down respecting the confidence to be granted to


and the assertion that pending a negotiation or a




306 WAR IN INDIA. [Feb.


war, it was improper to call for any information with regard,
to the progress of that negociation, or the events of that war;
this he had ever treated, and ever would do, as most improper
and unconstitutional language, and, be trusted, never


would


be the sense of an English House of Commons. What led
him to speak of this more particularly, was the objection which
the right honourable gentleman had made to the last of the
papers moved for by his honourable friend, which went, if
produced, to shew what offers had been made by Tippoo
Sultan for a peace. The right honourable gentleman had
said, if all the papers moved for, and all that couldZitntwoovueldd
for, were upon the table, nothing could appear
explain to the House what the offers of Tippoo to make peace
were; and that if any thing did, he certainly should oppose
their being produced. Perhaps it might be so; but when the
right honourable gentleman stated that he was totally igno,
rant of these offers, and knew no more of them than other
people, he could not hell) thinking it one of the most asto-
nishing facts that ever had occurred; that Lord Cornwallis,
as governor-general of India, had been, on all occasions,,
writing home, that a protracted war was ruinous to the com-
pany's finances ; that a speedy and honourable peace was his
earnest wish ; and that though several offers to make peace
had been made by Tippoo, none of them were of a nature
that he could accept ; yet that he never had mentioned what
those terms offered were, or what were his reasons for not
accepting them. If the government at home had received
any information of the terms that had been offered, he thought
it was their duty to send out orders to conclude peace as soon
as possible, and while it might be done honourably, at least;
more than could be expected, if we were unfortunate enough
to experience a continuance of the same calamitous events.
Upon the right honourable gentleman's principle of unlimited
confidence, which had been so much argued last year, it was
impossible to foretel what ill consequences might ensue, Pr
titularly if no right was allowed to that House to empnr,,
into the conduct and expellee of a negociation or war unt


il


it was ended. What, he would ask, was become of the boastedfreedom and privileges of that House, to inquire into eve1.1
measure that could bring, expellee upon the country,


which


they, as representatives of the people, must provide for, b)
laying additional burdens upon their constituents, without
having it in their power to give an assent fromconvicuoP?
that there was expediency, justice, or policy in the measige
which occasioned that exlience? What was now the 10.,


guage held out by this claim for confidence iti
ministers,


that they have entered into a war which must be attePcle"
10


1792.]


WAR IN INDIA. 307


Oh heavy expence, but with regard to the nature or extent
of which, they would resist all inquiry, and till it should be
concluded no means of information would be afforded. He
had only to recal the attention of gentlemen for a moment
to what happened last year, with regard to the Russian bu-
siness, to shew how decidedly this was the object of the pre-
sent administration. The right honourable gentleman had
properly said, that a day would soon come for discussing that
business, and it was 110t his intention to enter into it at large
DOW; to-morrow they were to be called upon to vote the
expellee of the armament, and must agree to pay that ex-
pence before they had received any information of the pro-
priety or wisdom of the negociation which occasioned it.
He said, it was not his intention to refuse voting the
expellee to-morrow; indeed, he knew it to be impossible.:
because, however much he and the country might disapprove
of the measure, still it was obvious, that the expellee incurred
must be paid.


Upon this principle of first paying, and then inquiring into
the cause of the expellee, the right honourable gentleman had
gone by fu too great lengths, and such as the House ought
to beware of sanctioning. Ìf they did not, million after million
might be expended, and till the country was ruined, no satis-
faction would be given, except that confidence must be placed
in ministers. It was here we saw the system of those who
boasted so much and so lately, of their attachment to the con-
stitution of their country, and to the principles of liberty; but
whose practice was at variance with their profession. In vain
did we boast of our attachment to the principles of a well
regulated freedom. 'We were perpetually praising our con-
stitution in words, and daily introducing new abuses into it
in practice. And thus might we go on boasting that we were
the most free until we had entirely lost our freedom, and that
by this innovation lately introduced into the constitution


—the innovation of confidence ! This confidence in individuals,
in the mind of that House, was to precede the interests of the
People. The ministers by this might move and carry arma-
ment on armament, upon the most trivial occasions, on the
slightest reasons, or entirely without reason, and tile people
had no means whatever of preventing it; nay, the members
of that House were precluded from judging of the measures
at an, until they were called on to vote the money of their( ), i stituents to pay for them. And supposing, for the sake
"l 'Otoument, (he was not now statina it to be the fact,) thatthese measures should turn out to be ilhadvised, unnecessary,
°r even ruinous to this country, what mode had the people,,


obtaining redress? None, except that of a criminal pro-
x 2




308


WAR IN INDIA. [Feb, 9.


ceeding against the ministers who were the cause of it. The
only security the people had was the responsibility a the
ministers. Was that a sufficient security ? He answered, it
was not ! In short, it was not any security in most cases: for,
supposing the minister who may have been the cause of great
calamities to the state, was incorrupt, but that in the opinion
of the people his measures had been only unwise; or, suppos-
ing the measures to be wise, and against the opinion of the
people, what remedy could there be had in either of these
cases? In the first, the people would be too generous to
punish, because it was against the principles of humanity, as
well as the law of every good community, to punish a man
merely for want of wisdom. On the second case, what would
be the consequence ? An innocent and meritorious man would
suffer for his own virtue, merely from the misfortune of his
conduct happening to be misunderstood by the public; and
he would be left to say to his misguided countrymen, " What!
will you accuse me for acting as well as I could for your in-
terests ?" What, then; were we to punish such a man ? No,
God forbid ! "Then, as to the other man who might be in,
capable, what was to be done with him ? Had we that court
of criminal justice, by which we could try a minister on the
size of his capacity ? We had no such court. But suppos
ing, for the sake of argument, we had a court in which all
these points could be provided for, what satisfaction could
result to a country drained of its wealth and resources? What
retribution would the disgrace or the destruction of a minister
make to a country that had been ruined and undone? The
punishment of a minister ! a poor, paltry resentment, instead
of a retribution ! Thus stood the political state of a country
said to possess perfect liberty, — a country, where, it was said,
the opinion of the people was the highest authority, and their
will the law ! The opinion of the people, indeed, might at
last prevail; but according to this doctrine of confidence in
ministers, this innovation in the constitution, the opinion of
the people would not begin to operate until the country was
ruined. Ruined we might be, although the people were not
ignorant, nor their representatives corrupt, but merely, be-
cause the minister might blunder and mistake. If such 0
country could be called a country of liberty and perfect free-
dom, he did not know what liberty or freedom was, nor where-
in consisted the excellence of its constitution.
- He hoped, however, that from what he had said, he should


not be considered or represented as speaking against the const i
-tution of this country. :Ube should, it would be treating 1.1-01


most unjustly; for he spoke not against the constitution of this
country, but against the theory and the practice which the late


WAR IN INDIA.792-] 309
doctrine of confidence had introduced. They were against
both the theory and practice of the real constitution of this
country,—against the earliest impressions in fitvour of that
constitution made on him by his education. He had been
taught to think, that all the evils, of which he had that night
been complaining, were to be prevented by the timely interpo-
sition of that House with its advice, when a minister wca
pursuing a plan that might be destructive to his country.
These were the impressions of his infancy, and time had not
effaced them. He must say, that he hated the innovation
of confidence, of which he had been speaking. There was
nothing of the spirit of the people of this country in it. They
might as well say to the minister, " To you we give all the
trust that was once delegated to our representatives; to you
eve give all the disposition of our property ; to you we give the
Thole care of all our interests, without control or inquiry."


The right honourable gentleman had declared that he knew
nothing of the proposals of peace which had been made by
Tippoo, or the reason why they were refused. And, because
he was totally ignorant of the nature of these proposals, and
whether they were such as might have been accepted consist-
ently with honour, justice, and political expediency, were the
House, therefore, to be precluded from all inquiry respecting
them ? Because a minister had neglected to provide himself
with the means of information, were they to sanction that
neglect, or abandon those discussions, which they owed to
their own duty, and the interests of their constituents? In
order to conduct any inquiries concerning the war, or be able
at all to judge of the .footing upon which it at present stood,
it was of the utmost, nay, of indispensable importance, to be
acquainted with the nature of these offers of peace. In con-
Sequence of these, the war might now stand upon very dif-
ferent grounds from those upon which it had set out; and
what had been in its commencement allowed to be just and
necessary, might have ceased to be so in its .eontinuance.
From the circumstances of disadvantage, too, under which the
War had hitherto been carried on, on our part, attention to
the offers of peace became a still more material consideration.
For who would defend the propriety of persevering in a war
under such circumstances, if it could he concluded upon terms
at a ll just and reasonable ? In short, while we were kept igno-
rant of these terms, it was impossible to determine whether
be war, as it now. stood, was a war of justice and policy, or a


1%viati b
• carriedl.uiiiotis


nocnon-ise genm rely from motives of ambition, and pregnant


The retreat of our armies in India was a proof of the com-
"Lete failure of the object which Lord Cornwallis had in view.


3




310 WAR IN INDIA. [Feb. 9,
The retreat of General Abercrombie was attended with every
aggravating circumstance of loss and ignominy : it had been
too gently stiled a retreat, but was in reality a downright
flight, in which our baggage, artillery, and what was most
deplorable of all, the hospitals of our sick ,and wounded, were
left behind. He did not mean to lay any blame on Lora
Cornwallis or General Abercromie ; he was not, indeed, suf-
ficiently acquainted with circumstances, to decide in what
quarter censure was due. But the fact must be admitted,
that General Abercrombie had been compelled to make a re.
treat, in such circumstances as were disgraceful to the British
arms. What these circumstances were, or where that blame
was to be attached, ought surely to form the subject of discus.
sion, before they could, with propriety, be called upon to
deliver any opinion.


As to the expellee of the business now before the House,
that would be a matter of consideration on some future day;
but on that point he could not say that the explanation of
the right honourable gentleman gave him much satisfaction,
If it gave the people of this country satisfaction, he should
be very much surprised. Whatever pleasure he might feel
from a repetition of the declaration, " that the day was draw-
ing near, when we should find that it was more likely that
the finances of India would be such as to afford assistance to
this country, rather than that this country should be called on
to lend assistance to our territories in India,"was, he confessed,
much abated by the right honourable gentleman, assuring
them, at the same time, that he knew nothing about the mat-
ter. He asserted, that it was impossible for him to calculate
the whole expence with which the present war in India would
be attended; and was even surprised that any body should
conceiye he could, or should think of starting such an inquiry.
But if he could not calculate the expellee, how could he pre.
tend to estimate the advantage which this country was likely to
reap from the finances of India? He must own, that this sort
of general assertion, unaccompanied by all particular proof,
appeared to him by no means convincing, nor at all tended to
set his mind at ease on the subject. The right honourable
gentleman assured them, that the result would' be highly pros


-perous; but it was stated that there were some foolish trifling
expellees, which might interfere with this result ; when heand
was asked, what might be their probable amount, he answered
that he could not so much as guess; nay, was astonished that
any body should suppose he could ! Setting these expends
aside, therefore, they might be assured the result would be
prosperous; but he wondered to what could amount the value
of such an assurance. The conclusion might be h


y
ighly gr!';


tifying, if they excluded from the premises the onl matell'


1 792'3


PUBLIC INCOME AND EXPENDITURE.


311


consideration upon which it hinged. These were artifices too
palpable to deceive children. He hoped that a consideration
of these points would . induce that House to take away some
of that confidence which, by their duty to their constituents,
they never ought to give, and which they were now bound to
recal.


Mr. Fox concluded with declaring, that, previous to the
meeting of parliament, he had determined in his own mind to
say nothing in any debate on the subject, respecting the con-
duct of Lord Cornwallis; and he would never have departed
from that resolution, had he not been called upon and pro-
voked to deliver his opinion by the words of the speech, and.
the arguments of those who moved and seconded the address ;
had he not been called upon to applaud abilities, of which
their conduct afforded him no proofs, and to congratulate
success, which the state of our affairs in India by no means
seemed to warrant, from any information which had yet been
laid before that House.


The question was put and carried on each of the motions, except
the last, which was negatived without a division.


STATE OF TFIE PUBLIC INCOME AND EXPENDITURE.


February 17.


THE House having resolved itself into a committee of thewhole House, of which the Earl of Mornington was chair•
man, to consider of so much of his majesty's speech, at the
opening of the session, as relates to the public income and ex-
penditure, the following paragraphs from the speech were read :
" It will, I am persuaded, give you great satisfaction to learn,
that the extraordinary expences incurred in the course of the last
year have, in a great measure, been already defrayed by the grants
of the session. The state of our resources will, I trust, be found
more thant sufficient to provide for the remaining part of these
xas well as for the current service of the year, the esti.


mates for which I have directed to be laid before you.— I enter-
tain the pleasing hope, that the reductions which may be found
practicable in the establishments, and the continued increase in
the revenue, will enable you, after making due provision for the
s
everal branches of the public service, to enter upon a system of


gradually relieving my subjects from some part of the existing taxes;
at the same time giving additional efficacy to the plan for reduc-
tion of the national debt, on the success of which our future ease


d security essentially depend.— With a view to this important
°0Ject, let me also, recommend it to you to turn your attention
to the consideration of such measures as the state of the funds and


x 4




312 rutmtcl-rscaME AND EXPENDITURE. [Feb. 17.
of public credit may render practicable and expedient, towards a
reduction in the rate of interest of any of the annuities which are
now redeemable." Mr. Pitt then rose, and in a most eloquent
speech, represented the state of the finances of the country in so
favourable a light, that a diminution of the public burthens might
reasonably be expected. The amount of the permanent revenue,
with the land and malt duties annexed, from January 17 91 to
January 1792, he estimated at 16,7300001. being 500,0001. more
than the average of the preceding four years. The permanent
expenditure, including the interest of the debt, the annual million
applied towards its extinction, the civil list, and the military and
naval establishments, he calculated at 15 : 8 io,000/. leaving a clear
surplus of more than 900,coo1. In this state of things he thought
himself authorized to propose the repeal of a part of the more
burdensome taxes, to the amount of about 2co,0001. per annum;
and at the same time to apply the sum of 40o,000/. to the reduc-
tion of the national debt, in aid of the annual million appropriated
by parliament. This would still fall far short of his estimate of
the national ability, and there was good ground to believe that
we had not reached by many degrees the summit of our prosperity.
When the debentures to the American loyalists should be dis-
charged, which would happen in about four years, an addition of
near 300,0001. would accrue to the revenue. In consequence of
the general improvement of credit, the 3 per cents. would soon
rise so high as to enable the parliament to effect a reduction of
the 4, and, as soon as by law redeemable, of the 5 per cents. which
would add the sum of 700,0001. or little less to the sinking fund.
The indefinite additions which might be expected from the in-
creasing produce of the existing taxes, the result of our rapidly
increasing commerce, must mock all calculation. Our exports had
risen one-third in value since the year 1783, viz. from 14,741,0001.
to 20,120,0001. and our internal trade had increased in at least
an equal proportion. Thus should we be enabled to make a swiftly
accelerated progress in the essential work of liquidating the na-
tional debt, and in a very short space of time to reach a point
which perhaps not long since was thought too distant for calcula-
tion. On the continuance of our present prosperity it was indeed
impossible to count with certainty ; but unquestionably there never
was a time when, from the situation of Europe, we might more
reasonably expect a durable peace than at the present moment.
Mr. Pitt concluded with these words : " From the result of the
whole, I trust I am entitled to assert, that the scene which we
are now contemplating is not the transient effect of accident, not
the short-lived prosperity of a day, but the genuine and natural
result of regular and permanent causes. The season of our severe
trial is at an end, and we are at length relieved, not only from the
dejection and gloom which, a few years since, hung over the
country, but from the doubt and uncertainty which, even for a
considerable time after our prospect had begun to brighten, still
mingled with the hopes and expectations of the public. We may
yet, indeed, be subject to those fluctuations which often hapPen
in the affairs of a great nation, and which it is impossible to cal-


792.1 PUBLIC INCOME AND EXPENDITURE. 3 1 33
culate or foresee ; but as far as there can be any reliance on human
speculations , we have the best ground, from the experience of the
est to look with satisfaction to the present, and with confidenceP L r


to the future. 44 Nunc denzum redit animus, cum non spew modo
ac votum securitas publica, sed ipsius voti fiduciam et robur as-
vogpserit." This is a state not of hope only, but of attainment ;
not barely the encouraging prospect of future advantage, but the
solid and immediate benefit of present and actual possession."-*--
After some strictures on Mr. Pitt's speech by Mr. Sheridan,


Mr. Fox, after a short allusion to the triumph of this ju-
bilee of finance, and stating that the business of the day was
of the utmost importance, took occasion to pay a complhnent
to the eloquence of Mr. Pitt, and to the philosophical prin-
ciples of government on which he had argued. He said the
right honourable gentleman had enumerated the causes of
national prosperity with truth and splendor. He subscribed
to his statement cordially, and if he did not himself go over
the same ground, it was because he had nothing to add to
what had been already said, nor could he hope to express it
better. But he begged to be understood, that these reasons
were all applicable to the prosperity of the country, not merely
to the prosperity of the revenue. The right honourable gen-
tleman had fairly said, that above all, they were to be ascribed
to the happy form of our constitution. y If this was true—
and that it was so, every gentleman would concur—it was


j
their duty to maintain the constitution by that vigilance and
ealousy which were the chief duties of that House, and to
take care that no attempts should be made under any colour
or pretext to trench on any of its vital parts; and so far from
thinking with the honourable gentleman who had spoken
last (Mr. Drake), that we could not value our present,situation
too highly, he thought we were in danger from being lulled
into an excess of security. He was drawn to this observation,
naturally from the business of this- day; for he was still of the
opinion that he had delivered on the first day of the session,
namely, that there was in the manner of introducing this pro-
position such a violation of a most valuable principle, and
such an insult on the House of Commons, as demanded their
most serious reflection. It had been too often his duty to
remark the variety of abuses which had been suffered during
the administration of the right honourable gentleman, and
Which, indeed, had marked his ministry more, perhaps, than
allv other that had ever occurred in this country. There seemed
tole a regular and systematic intention in his majesty's mi-
nisters to annihilate the functions of that House, and to arro-
gate to government every measure that properly belonged to
them. The nation was made to look lightly on the popular




3 1 4 PUBLIC INCOME AND EXPENDITURE. [Feb. 17.
branch of the legislature, and in every instance to turn their
eyes to government, as to the fountain of every good. In this
view he had stated the recommendation in his majesty's speech
from the throne, in regard to the repeal of taxes, as an attempt
to take from that House, in truth, the power of deliberation,
the freedom of debate. Instead of coming unfettered to the
consideration of the present state of the public income and
expenditure, so far as to enable them to form a free judgment
whether, consistently with their honest duty to the empire.,
they might relieve their constituents from some part of their
burdens, they were put into the unseemly state of either corn-
plying implicitly with his majesty's recommendation, or of
being considered by their constituents as the opposers of the
boon which he had held out to them. I complain (said Mr.
Fox) for the constitution, violated by this proceeding—I com-
plain for the popular branch of the legislature insulted —
I complain for the people, really and effectually cheated by
this insidious intervention, calculated to divert them from
their true guardian and servant, the House of Commons, and
to delude them, by fixing their hopes on the government.
I am not afraid of unpopularity in the honest discharge of my
duty. I am not afraid of encountering all the hazards of
artful misrepresentation ; but I complain that I am put into a
situation where I cannot exercise my judgment, where I can-
not pronounce my opinion that this is not the moment when
parliament can safely, prudently, or honestly surrender any
part of the existing revenue, and where I cannot oppose
the measure without the fear of bringing on the country a
greater and more alarming evil, than by complying against
my judgment.


Not only had his majesty been unconstitutionally advised to
come down and recommend this measure, contrary to the
first principles of parliament, but, to add to the impropriety,
the minister coming immediately from the closet, had pointed
out as a second part of the same speech, the very taxes which
ought to be repealed ; thus taking it out of the hands of par-
liament to revise the whole, and see which of them, if any,
could be repealed, which were most grievous to the public,
and thereby conciliating themselves with their constituents by
proving that they were attentive to their interests. Instead of
coming forward handsomely and fairly as he ought to have
done, and stating the income on the one side, and the expen-
diture on the other, and calling on the House to take the con-
dition of the public revenue into their consideration, and
see if they could not spare something to the people, the right
honourable gentleman came down with a declared surplus, for.
which he had no experience, in one hand, and a number Of


PUBLIC INCOME AND EXPENDITURE.179 2 '3 313


odious and unpopular taxes mostly of his own imposing, in
the other, and thereby made it impossible for the House to
hesitate in their compliance. Can I (exclaimed Mr. Fox)
object to the repeal of the malt tax—I, who opposed it so
pointedly, when- imposed y the right honourable gentleman
last year ? Can I object to hehe repeal of the tax on female ser-
vants, a tax which I always thought odious and abominable ?
I cannot—the House cannot, and with their eyes open to the
impropriety of the measure of giving up revenue without an
experience that we can afford it, we are brought to . a situa-
tion in which we cannot deliberate on the measure.


The question, to have been stated fairly, should have been
as follows : there is a surplus of 400,0001. Will you apply it
all towards the extinction of the national debt, or towards the
immediate relief of the burdens of the people, or partly to the
one and partly to the other ? Stated in this manner, the
House would have come fairly to the exercise of their delibe-
rative powers ; and he had no hesitation in saying, that if the
question had been so stated to him, he would have answered,
in the present situation of things, acting on a consistent prin-
ciple, and desirous of having the benefit of experience, that
the whole ought to be applied towards the diminution of the
national debt. In saying this, he would at least have the
credit of a sincere opinion ; for evidently he courted no party
on the occasion. He could not court the king, for the king
had in his speech recommended the measure. It was not a
declaration by which he could expect to court the people, for
evidently the repeal of a temporary burden, however it might
operate in throwing disorder into the finances of the kingdom,
disturbing the credit, and finally of imposing more grievous
burdens, would yet be popular, and an objection to it the con-
trary. But if he had to answer that question simply, he would
do it, and maintain it on arguments provided for him by the
right honourable gentleman. He would use his own words.
He would take his own system. He would prove that his own
principles were clearly against the measure which he now pro-
posed. He would shew, even from what the right bonoura-:
bte gentleman had said that night, that when self was out of
the question, he was still of opinion that the measure now
Proposed was erroneous and detrimental. For, said the right
honourable gentleman, in the year 8o8, when by the opera-
tion of the pan for diminishing the debt, there would be a
sum of four millions applicable to this object, he would take care
that no minister of that day should have it in his power to do,
what he was doing in this, with only four hundred thousand
Pounds, instead of four millions. Here, when lie was im-
partial, and when he was not acting for himself and his faction,




316 PUBLIC INCOME AND EXPENDITURP. n [Feb. /I
he was such an enemy to the national debt, that no room
should be left for popularity - to any minister, by doing so fatal
a :thing to the nation, as that which he was now doing himself
Such was the difference between self and principle, such was
the difference between the clear, manly discharge of duty)
and the subterfuges of a dextrous pursuit of popularity


-1 ne
had often heard it said, that it was the character of men who
were indulgent to themselves to be severe to others. Never
did he see this trait of the human mind more glaringly dis,
played than in this measure. For, after having laid down
a principle to be most obstinately persevered in, viz. that
the surplus of the revenue should be with a sacred and invio.
Table hand applied to the discharge of the debt, with all its
compound interest, until it should amount to an appli.
cable surplus of four millions, he now departed from this
-
engagement for the sake of a little momentary popularity to
himself, and held out to the nation a boon of 200,000l.
44 But," said the right honourable gentleman, 44 I know I do
wrong ; I know it is a dereliction of my principles, but permit
me to do this little mischief; and I will compensate for the
laxity of my own system, by tying down my successors."
Fiftcen.years hence, a. period to which it was impossible to
carry forward the idea of parties and partialities, the right
honourable gentleman would take care that even when there
were four millions the system should not be thus violated !


Mr. Fox said, he thought it would have been at least
prudent to have waited until we had had the experience
of a single year, a single month, or a single day,. in which
the income of the country had exceeded the expenditure,
to justify us in saying that there was an applicable sur-
plus at all. Nothing could be more indefensible than the
intemperate rashness of the proceeding. Ile went completely
upon speculation. What speculation of expenditure had not
turned out to be fallacious ? Every statement of the right
honourable gentleman, with regard to reduction and economy,
remained to be fulfilled. The committee of last year, coin,
posed of very honourable men, had given a statement of what
was likely to be the peace-establishment. It might, perhaps,
be found exact; but let it be remembered, that the statement
of the committee of 1786 ,a committee equally honourable,
had fallen short by 500,0001. of the actual expenditure, and
the subsequent statement might be liable to the same defi-
ciency. It would have been well, at least, to have taken the
benefit of one single year's peace-establishment. What coul d
be the reason of this intemperate hurry ? He had no hesita-
tion in agreeing with his honourable friend, (Mr. Sheridan,)
that it was the Russian armament which pressed upon




1792.] PUBLIC INCOME AND EXPENDITURE. 317


and which had produced this hasty, ill timed, and, as it had
been conducted, unconstitutional sacrifice to popularity. He
said unconstitutional, for every thing that crippled the pro-
ceedings of parliament, every thing that placed the crown
between the House of Commons and their constituents, was
unconstitutional and alarming. If the question had come
fairly before them, he should have given it his negative; now,
however, he could not do 'this, since a greater evil in ; glit be
incurred from the danger of a division between that 'House
and the people, — division which the unparliamentary and
improper recommendation from the throne might occasion.
Pressed on the subject of the Russian war, sensible that his
head-strong interference in a dispute had involved him in a
dilemma, from which the result could afford him no a


•gu-
ment of defence, the right honourable gentleman had thrown
out this boon to the public, to divert them from the contem-
plation of his .


conduct. lie did not mean to accuse- him of
being so poor a logician, as to set this up as the ratiojustO'ca,
but he was well aware, that, tempting and agreeable, it would
serve as the ratio suasoria.


Having thus objected to the principle, he said he equally
objected to the manner in which this was done. What rule
was to be established in future ? In case of future surplusses,
were they always to act by this precedent, or what rule was
there to be established? 'Opposition at present could not be
said to be engaged in a struggle for power, the other party
were too decidedly superior in numbers, and too much in pos-
session of the confidence of the country to admit of such an
idea on their part. But though in the present state of the
parties of this country perhaps no immediate use might be
made of this manoeuvre for it could onl y be regarded as a
sinister manoeuvre — yet -if there should be in that House
agai n a struggle for power, if the parties were more nearly on
a par than at present, what miserable use might not be made


-(/ this precedent ! One side, in case of a surplus, might be
": giving half to the people in taxes, another for giving the
whole, and there might be -instituted between the two an
auction for power, in which the highest bidder would attempt
.0 purchase the favour of the country at the expence of its
thterests. The whole manifested a most blameable -cafe for
the moment, a


;7)'subterfucre against charges to which the righthono
urable gentleman knew he was liable, and for which he


fel t that he had no justification. The Russian armament
tared him in the face ; he knew that the nation were of one


111in d on the subject of his disastrous impolicy, and that his
On
111


subject was equally pregnant with danger and disgrace.the sect of India there was nothing more alarming than


I




318
PUBLIC INCOME AND EXPENDITURE. [Feb. /7•


the difference which appeared in the two ministers on the
subject. The one affirmed to the House that there would be
assistance derived from that quarter, the other coupled the
assertion with, " if the war was speedil y terminated.".


In regard to the reduction of the ibu • per cents ; he Was
clearly of opinion that it was a most politic and proper mea-
sure. From the calculation that he had made on the subject,
the nation might draw an annual benefit of between 26o and
270,0001. from this branch, and he wished the right honour_
able gentleman had stated what was his plan for the mea-
sure. A well-conceived plan for the measure should have his
support. The rise of the funds, in his mind, was a great
national benefit ; for though it threw obstacles in the way of
paying off the debt, it invigorated every branch of our pros..
perity. In proportion as the funds were high, money for every
object of commercial enterprize, of manufacture, of agricul-
tural improvement, of trade and industry of all kinds, became
more easily attainable. It added, therefore, to the capital of
the nation, it enlarged the sphere of activity, and produced
the wealth which more than counterbalanced the difference
which we had to pay in buying up the debts. If we consi-
dered the amount of our debt as a capital, the capital was cer-
tainly encreased by the rise of the funds. The capital of our
debt was clearly more now than in the year 1786, but the an-
nuity was less, and to the annuity he always looked as to the
true debt which was our enemy. What, then, ought to be
the conduct of the nation on these premises ? If it was true,
that the rise of the funds imposed on the nation the hardship
of paying a greater sum for redeeming the same quantity of
annuity; but that at the same time the rise of the funds so
largely promoted the general opulence of the nation as to make
it more easy for us to redeem such annuity, the conclusion of
the proposition clearly was, that the moment of wealth was the
moment of redemption. But what did we do ? Instead of
taking the true benefit of the opulence which the high price
of the funds has given us, by opposing more vigorously our
great enemy the national debt, we slackened while this enemy
went on ; for he reared his head, and if we did not, in the
moment of prosperity, encrease our efforts against him he
gained ground upon us. To be uniform in the combat, there-
fore, it was necessary that we should add as much to the sum
applied to the diminution of the debt, as the proportion be-
tween the prosperous and the adverse moment. Surely, n
a clay of prosperity, it was easier for the nation to buy up a5i
annuity of 42,0001. than in the day of adversity; yet we werei
to follow the exact contrary system by this new plan, 8E1(1


1792.]


PUBLIC INCOME AND EXPENDITURE.
359


therefore he asserted that the minister was courting popularity
by the dereliction of principle.


ft was the fashion of the day to praise the constitution, and
to labour to destroy it. They were for ever pouring forth
encomiums on it in the lump, and mangling it in detail.
Every stratagem was used to make the functions of that House
ungracious to the people, to make them out of favour with
their representatives, to make it impossible for men to act
filithfully in the discharge of their trust to the empire without
having odium excited against them. Confidence in the
crown was set up in the stead of confidence in the House of
Commons ; and the entrenchments on the constitution were
carried on by appeals to the passions of the inconsiderate.
For himself, he had so often occasion to notice this settled
plan in the administration of the present day, and with so
little success, that he despaired of producing any effect on the
temper of the House. But having frequently showed him-
self unawed by the influence of power, he trusted he should
be able on the present occasion to maintain an equal supe-
riority, and testify himself no less unmoved by popular pre-
judice and Clamour : and, though it would be presumptuous
in any man to apply to his practice, yet he would take upon
himself to apply to his sense of his duty the celebrated
passage,


" Justum et tenacem propositi virum
Non civium ardor prava jubentium,


Non vultus instantis tyranni
Mente quatit solidi."


In reply to what had fallen from Mr. Fox, Mr. Pitt said he
would ask, where was the difference, with regard to who might be
minister, between this scheme and that of the committee in £786,
but about one year and a half? But in the period of fifteen years,
taking in all the vicissitudes and changes that might happen, he did
not know whether he might not be as well disposed to the minister
of that day, and have as good a chance of being his friend, as the
right honourable gentleman. It had happened that several gentle-
men, who sat on the same side with the right honourable gentle-
man, had before now been out of their reckoning as to the changes
of administration, and it might so happen again.


Mr. Fox said, that except he was wilfully misrepresented,
Ile could not account for the manner in which the right ho-
nourable gentleman had argued. When he spoke before, he
never meant to enter into any speculation with regard to who
would or would not he minister fifteen years hence. No such
r.id iculous idea had ever entered his mind, and he begged the
''fight honourable gentleman and the House to recollect, that




3 20 MR. GREY'S MOTION RESPECTING THE [Feb. 20.
when he bad put that part of his argument, he had stated it
as asking a question of the right honourable gentleman, upon
which he knew he must be impartial, and which had no refer.
ence or regard to the person who might be minister. He,
perhaps, in the right honourable gentleman's opinion, was not
a man of great wisdom, but lie trusted he was not so foolish as
to indulge in any such speculation as the right honourable
gentleman had hinted at. As matters at present were, he
could have no hopes of success, so unequal were the numbers;
nor could he think that because he was some years older than
the right honourable gentleman, that was any reason for his
speculation upon being his successor fifteen years hence. The
right honourable gentleman had boasted, in high language,
of the unexpected increase of the revenue. He allowed all
the causes stated by the right honourable gentleman ; but he
certainly would not allow that the increase was either unex-
pected or unforeseen, whatever pains might be taken to spread
abroad such an opinion, for the purpose of momentary popu-
larity, which seemed to be the chief study of the present day.
The minister took every method to persuade the country that
he was not only the person who could pay off the national debt,
but the sole inventor of a plan for the reduction of that debt;
that it never had been thought of -till he came into power to
put it into practice ; and that it originated entirely with him.
It required, however, nothing from him to put that matter
out of doubt, because the right honourable gentleman, and
many in the House, must know the contrary.


The resolutions moved by Mr. Pitt, for the repeal of sundry
taxes, were agreed to by the committee.




MR. GREY'S MOTION FOR PAPERS RELATIVE TO THE AVAIV
BETWEEN RUSSIA AND THE PORTE.


February zo.


rrHE documents relating to the apprehended rupture between
Great Britain and 11 issia having been laid before the House on


the 6th of February, Mr. ey on the a 3th observed that the papers
were incomplete, and did not sufficiently enable the House: to ex-
amine particulars with precision. He stated several instances to
prove what.he had advanced : he specified the want of the pro'
liminaries between the Russian and Turkish ministry, without wkiell
no adequate opinion could be formed of the benefits arising from


1792.] WAR BETWEEN RUSSIA AND THE PORTE. 92.1


die interference, of the British court, supported by an armament,
and accompanied by an apparent determination to enforce the mea-
sures it held forth. These had nearly involved the realm in a quar-
rel of a most serious and dangerous nature, without any manifest and


The conduct of the court of Berlin oughtunavoidable necessity.
no less to be laid open on so important an occasion : but, above all,
the expellees attending the formidable armament that had been
equipped, ought to be brought before tile House with all ex-
pedition.—Mr. Pitt replied, that every proper paper had been pro-
duced. The expence of the armament he Was no less desirous to
lay before the House, than those who were the most impatient to
sec them, and would bring them forward with all diligence. The
preliminaries between the belligerent powers had not been officially
noticed ; but he hoped shortly to present the House with a more
satisfactory document, the definitive treaty of peace between those
two powers.—This answer not appearing satisfactory, on the zoth
of the same month Mr. Grey moved, " That an humble address
be presented to his majesty, that he will be graciously pleased to
give directions, that there be laid before this House, copies or ex-
tracts of all representations or requisitions made by the court of
Berlin to his majesty's minister at the said court, or by his Prussian
majesty's minister at this court to his majesty's secretary of state
for the foreign department, or other ministers at home, relative to
the war between Russia and the Porte, together with the answers
that were given to such representations or requisitions; and also,
copies or extracts of all representations made by his majesty's
secretary of state for the foreign department, or other ministers at
home, to his Prussian majesty's minister here, or by his majesty's
minister at the court of Berlin, together with the answers to such
representations, upon the subject of the said war." Mr. Grey
said he trusted that the Period had at last arrived for a discussion
suitable to the importance of . the subject and the dignity of that
House, in which they should be able to chew themselves faithful
stewards of the public, whose money they had voted away, and in-
fluenced by no motives but a regard to their own duty and the
interests .of their constituents. He hoped, that the House would
never be so blindly attached to a system of confidence in adminis-
tration, or so remiss in the discharge of its first and most sacred
avocation, as to neglect all inquiry. In this hope he trusted be was
not deceived, and was still sanguine in spite of that opposition, which,
had already been but too successfully exerted against all attempts
to bring forward the means of discussion. The House, he said,
4shtardail:eard of the excellence of the British constitution, in the
speeche


eel honourable


from the throne, and they had heard it described by the
right honourable gentleman (the chancellor of the exchequer), in a
heart of every member present. What was .


the subject of his
Panegyric, ought with them to be matter of practice. Let the


of admirahle eloquence, that animated and warmed the


ble gentleman praise the constitution : let them de-
fend it :


" We too are friends to loyalty. We love
The king who loves the law, respects its bounds,


pod.,




[Feb. 20. 11322 MR. GREY'S MOTION RESPECTING THE
And lives content within them. Him we serve
Freely and with delight, who leaves us free.
But recollecting still that he is man,
We trust him not too far. King tho' he be,
And king in England too, lie may be weak •
And vain enough to be ambitious still,
May exercise amiss his proper pow'rs,
Or covet more than freemen chuse to-grant ;
Beyond that mark is treason. He is ours,
1" administer, to guard, to adorn the state,
But not to warp or change it. We are his,
To serve him nobly in the common cause,
True to the death, but not to be his slaves."


Should the most valuable functions and privileges of that House
be suffered to fall into- disuse, the loss would soon be felt by
the public. They might be regularly honoured by what Lord
Chatham had once termed " the annual opiate of a speech from
the throne ;" but though at present, considered as a question of