Page images

nation, correction, and controul. the petitions, the possible conseIt was particularly, of the very quences of such a measure, seemessence of that house, to enquire, ed of too serious a nature, to be to regulate, and to controul; and then thought of without a pause. whenever it was called for properly They accordingly endeavoured by ihe occasion, and that they to get rid of the queftion as easily suspended, concealed, denied, or as possible, without at all bringing refused to exercise that right it to any decision. With moch apand duty, then every objc& of plause therefore of the doctrine their meeting and deliberation was laid down in the proposition, and at an end; and they were no longer many compliments to its frames, the servants of the public, or the they, however, declared their arepresentatives of the people who verseness to the meeting of abilract had sent them there.

questions, and must therefore op. The ministers were by no means pose the discharging the order of disposed to enter into any discuss the day, and the bringing forward fion of this subject; and notwith- of the present into discussion. They standing the connection be:ween the asserted that it could be considered gentleman who had moved the bu- in no other light than that of a finess and them, it was soon seen mere abstract question, which no that he had acted totally indepen- man was bound to resolve. That dent of their opinion and liking, they never could think of discusin thus bringing forward the ques. fing such a question, unless it clear. tion of competence at so critical ly arole from the immediate busia season. For although they high ness before the house, That no ly approved of, and openly ap- person could say that was the case plauded the doctrine, yet they did in the present infance. The prinnot by any means choose to expose ciple contained in the propofition a question of such importance, militated clearly against the prinand which might be so advantage- ciple on which several clauses of ously reserved until a proper op- the bill were founded; the matter portunity offered, to the risque of of both would come then fairly an irrevocable decision, in the pre- and naturally before them, when sent state of things without doors, they went into the committee, and and of temper, which that state came to consider the several clauses. of things had produced, within. Gentlemen then, who disapproved Nor would the alternative of its of any clause, would oppose it on being carried in their favour, (a 'such grounds as appeared to them matter, however, of great doubt) the most sure and conclusive; some be at all more desirable. On the on the grounds, that the office procontrary, it would have seemed posed to be abolished was not an fraught with great danger. For useless one; others, that proofs of as the establishment by a vote of the allegations contained in the bill the incompetence of parliament, were necessary; and a third deto superintend, or interfere, in the scription perhaps, that parliament civil list expenditure, would a. had no right to interfere in the cimount to a virtual, if not direct vil list expenditure, on any other rejection of the general prayer of account, than that of notorious


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

abase. The first law officer of the equally nugatory and ridiculous, to Crown in that house, declared, that go into the committee on the bill, he was averse to the discussion of until the sense of the house was the question, for he could fairly taken upon that question. It must assure them, that if it should be be first got rid of, before any one put, he did not know whether he claule in the bill could be taken Thould give it a negative, or an into consideration. He could not affirmative.

at the same time help declaring, that The opposition instantly per- if it should be resolved and deterceived the dilemma, in which this mined, that parliament had not a proposition had involved the minif- right to interfere, to reform, to ar. ters, and at once determined that range, and, if necessary, co resume they should not get easily out of it. the grants they had made to the Mr. Fox first seized the occasion, crown for public purposes; in Nort, and in a speech full of satire and to see to the proper application of irony, as well as of strong sense, the monies they had granted; there highly complimented the right ho. was at once an end of the liberties nourable framer of the proposition, of this country. Give princes and for the open, direa, and manly their ministers, said he, the exclusive language which he had held. He right of disposing of any considerable had delivered his sentiments with part of the public treasures, and our that firmness and candour which liberries, from that instant, are gone so uniformly characterized his con- for ever. duct in that house. He thanked He denied that the question was him molt cordially for the oppor- abstract, as those who had a mind tunity which it afforded to both to get rid of it were pleased to afa parties to come to an issue. It sert. The proposition, as conwould spare much time, and save nected with the bill, was no abinfioite trouble. It militated di- ftract question, because it amountsedly against the bill on the table; ed to a direct and specific denial of for certainly, if that house was its principle, which was a thoDot competent to enquire into, or rough reform in the whole of the controul the civil lift expenditure, civil lift expenditure. There was the bill was founded in the most no ground for the other apprehenglaring injustice. But while he fion, that the people might be gave credit for the direct, open man- milled by the declaration. How ner in which the honourable gen- milled! Nothing could be a more tleman had declared and supported clear rejiction of the petitions, his opinion, he must also declare, than the supposition of the princithat it involved doctrines of a most ple in queftion, fairly proposed by alarming nature; and which ap. One gentleman, and highly appeared to him to be subversive of plauded by those who would fain the first principles of the constitu- postpone it. The petitioners say, tion. He therefore fincerely hoped, that useless and finecure places that before the house proceeded ought to be abolished; that exorfurther, they would consent to let bitant salaries and perquistes ought in this proposition; and proceed to be reduced. Where did thole to discuss it; for it would be evils originate? In the expendi


[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

ture of the civil lift, Where was who heard him, whether he had the reform recommended, to ope- uttered a syllable, which the most rate? Most clearly, where the evil fercile imagination could fo inter. existed. But the proposition holds pret. No man revered the rights that no reform can there operate. of the constitution more, or would It was then evident, that if the go farther in maintaining the rights propofition should appear to be the of the people, within that house, sense of a majority of that house, where only, in his opinion, fo long it would comprehend, one or other as parliament existed, they could of these two answers to the peri. be consitutionally defended. He tions; chat, your petitions are ill. maintained the right of the people founded, and no relorm is necess to petition every branch of the le. fary ; or, that though they are well gislature; but it was in that house founded, our hands are lo tied up, only, that their voice could be that we are incapable of affording fairly known and acknowledged; you redress. — He declared, that and from thence only it could be if the proposition should be agreed furely and safely collected. He to, by a majority of that house, still adhered firmly to his original he should contider his toils and la- opinion, and to the propoution bours as at an end ; and that as bis founded upon it; and notwithpresence there could be of no far- standing the difficulty in which the ther use or confequence, he never question involved administration, again thould enter it.

fupported the opposition in their Mr. Burke, Mr. Townshend, intention of bringing it to a deGeneral Conway, Mr. Dunning, cision; declaring, that as he would and other distinguished members of not be bullied out of his propofioppofition, took and supported nearly ti u by one side of the house, fo he the fame ground; diversified accord- was resolved not to be flattered or ing to the character and genius of cajoled cut of it by the other. the several speakers.'.

The friends of adminiftration enMr. Rigby, who introduced the deavoured all they could to foften, business, was allonished at what he and in some measure to explain called the unaccountable misinter- away, the apparent sense and pretation of words, or perverfion meaning, or at least that in which of seose, which prevailed on the it had been first understood, of the other fide, in the interpretation proposition. Nor did they only which was put upon his propofi. attempt to rescue it from the sense rion. He declared with energy, put upon it by their adversaries; that he would not readily refign but likewise from some part of the firft place, to any man, who that, which had in the beginning Mould profess to entertain a more drawn forth applause on their own warm and fieady zeal for the liber. fide. They insisted, that it did ties of his country, than himself; not by any means involve in it a and that it was with no fmall de. denial of the right to reform gree of surprize and emo:ion, he abules; but that it only asserted, Picard sentiments imputed to him, that it would be unjust to interfere tending to the overthrow of the in the civil lift expenditure, with. constitution. He appealed to all out proper proof of abuse, previo

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]



ous to the interference. And this The question now before the maxim, they faid, was supported house, and on which both parties by the conftitution; admitting the were to bring forward their utmost right to exift, in the Atrongest man- force, was, whether, according to ner in which it had been stated or the order of the day, it should be supposed on the other side. But resolved into a committee on Mr.

as the purport of the proposition Burke's bill, or whether they eru had already been misconceived or should first enter into a discussion

misrepresented within doors, there of, and decide upon, Mr. Rigby's could be no doubt, that it would propofition. The question being

be much more misconceived, and put about nine o'clock, the resoei misrepresented, out of doors. And lution for the order of the day was

they could not help faying and carried, by a majority of fix only,
thinking, that the eagerness Thewn the numbers being 20j, to 199.
to bring the right honourable gen. This division was marked by the
tleman's propofition under difcur. fingular circumstance, of Mr.
fion, could proceed from no other Rigby's voting in the minority, ard
motive, than that if the house in opposition to all his friends in
should agree to it, it might fur- administration.
nith grounds for spreading false ru. The first clause in the bill, and
mours, and creating popular de. confequently the first question be-

fore the committee, was that for This change of ground pro- abolishing the office of third secreduced some awkward fituations and tary of state, otherwise secretary circumstances, which afforded room for the colonies; which was after.

for laughter and farcasın on the wards modified to the simple dei other side. As to limiting the right scription of one of his majesty's priu

of controul, to the previous proof cipal secretaries of state.
of abuse, it was said to be ridicu. Much of the ground, which we
lous. How was the abuse to be have formerly had occasion pretty
difcovered or proved, but by exa- accurately to mark out, on the ap.
mination and enquiry? If parlia- plications of the crown to parlia.
ment was competent to the correc- ment, for the discharge of the ci-
tion of an abuse, they must be vil lift debts, and for an addition of
competent to the means of its dif. revenue to that establishment, and
covery. To talk of any power of which we have fince likewise seen
controul, without that of enquiry, not unfrequently trodden upon other
or of enquiry without that of con. occasions, was now again gone
troul, was too absurd to deserve an over by both parties; and its
answer. The supposed injustice principal positions strongly and
of enquiry, before the proof of warmly disputed. The tenure by
abuse, was, if poffible, more fo; which the crown held the civil list
and could be only equalled by the revenue was again agitated; the
fuppofition, that although a man friends of administration confider-
ought to be punished for the com- ing it as a life eftate; as exclusive
miffion of a crime; yet it would be and private property. The right
bujuft to try him, until his guilt was of parliament to interfere at all,

and in any case, in its disposal or


expenditure, was rather doubtfully the same principle would reach to Spoken of by the most guarded and every other part of the bill; and its temperate, who paid fome aiten effects would be extended to all the tion to the tenderness and difficulty branches of the royal houthold, and of the ground; but others, parti. even difturb the domestic arrangecolarly fome in high office, 'abso- ments within the palace. lutely denied it, without qualif Bu:confidering the clause merecation or reserve. But if the right ly upon its own proper ground, of interference were admitted, the and supposing the bill to be formed ministers contended, that it muft on the sentiments contained in the be, in cases of gross abuse, previ petitions, would any gentleman ously and incontrovertibiy proved. venture to declare that the office When that was once done, that was a finecure; that it was attend. house was undoubtedly competent ed with exorbitant fees, perquito point out to che sovereign, the fites, or emoluments; that it was proper mode of removing and cor- a heavy, expensive establishment; recting them; but that mode was or, that it was a source of much not by paffing a law of resumption; influence in that house? It peran extremity, which if at all resorted haps would be said, that it was to, it should only be in some case of useless and unnecessary. If that the last necefliiy, when all other ground is taken, let the gentlemeans had been tried, and bad been men on the other side bring forfound ineffectual.

ward their evidence; let them deBut even suppoầng that it were monstrate to the committee chat it right and fit for parliament to in- is so; but let not affertion pass terfere upon motives of public ce for proof, nor mere opinion for conomy, another queition would argument. It will then be incum. arise, whether the object to be at bent upon them to establish the tained, namely, the saving pro- right as well as the expediency posed, was of that magnitude to of interfering, and of resuming justify the house, not only in an the grant made to the sovereign on innovation, but in the suppression his acceslion; a grant which he of an useful and neceflary office. received as an equivalent for that For in the contemplation of the ample revenue, to which he was encommittee, it must be deemed an titled, from the instant of his being useful and necessary office, until proclaimed king of this country; the contrary was clearly proved. and they will ftill be called upon to They were not to estimate the of. Thew, that the reform is not only fice that was proposed to be abo- just and necessary, but that the mode lihed, merely upon its own in- proposed, is the only one, or the trinsic value; but they were like. best, which could possibly be carried wife to consider what the measure into execution. of abolishment led to. The clause They expected, they said, to before them, formed but a part, hear it observed, that the abolishand a very small part indeed, of ing of the office in question would the multifarious bill to which it be no innovation, as it was only of belonged. But if the propriety modern date, and of a few years of this clause should be established, standing; but to provide against

« PreviousContinue »