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The question being put, after one o'clock in the morning, on the first member of the clause, for abolishing the office of treasurer of the chamber, it was lost upon a divifion, by, the now, considerable raaynity, of 211, to is8. The minority, upon this division, were publicly thanked by several of the county meetings. This fall of numbers was accounted for by lbme late manœuvres of the court j by which lbme of the country gentlemen who had usually adhered to it, but who had Ob the popularity of this bill gone from it, now returned; and a second change became manifest in several others.
Mr. Burke then declared his total indifference as to what became of the rest of the bill. He was, however, roused into his wonted activity by his friend Mr. Fox, who urged the expediency of going through with the bill to the very last; however little more they got - for the people, than what they had already gained, it still would be worth the striving for. The mere abolition of the board of trade, even if nothing farther was done, he insisted, was worth the struggle; for as he was determined, and he hoped his honourable friend would join with him, in renewing the bill from session to session, until its purposes were obtained", so they would have seven less of the enemy to fight against on the next encounter. The succeeding members of the clause were accordingly gone through, and each received a negative without a division.
On the day following this debate, the minister informed the house, that the. East India company not having made such proposals for the
rerewal of their charter, as he had deemed satisfactory, he should accordingly move the house, for the speaker to give them the three years notice ordained by act of parliament, previous to the dissolution of their charter, that the capital stock or debt, of 4,2co,cool. which the-public owed to the company, should be fully paid, on the 5 th of April 1783. agreeable to the power of redemption included in the laid act.
Mr. Fox, and Mr. Burke, opposed the measure with wonderful fervour and animation. The first asked the minister, whether he was not content with having lost America? Or was he determined, before he quitted his present situar tion, to reduce the British empire to the confines of this island -> Could he point out a single good, which his motion was capable of producing > Was he blind and insensible to the evil and danger with which it was fraught? Why issue an impotent threat, which he neither intended, nor was capable of carrying into execution? It was ridiculous, it was dangerous to threaten, when men dared not to perform what they threatened. Did he wish to behold the fjeenes of anarchy, confusion, distress, and ruin, which his idle threat might probably produce in the company's a/fairs and possessions in India ■ Did he think that house, would at this time of day, under the immediate prelsure and bitter experience of past rasliness and misconduct, wantonly hazard the ample revenues, the resources of power and wealth, which this country derived, from the trade and commerce of live East India company? Supposing even
that that the noble lord was capable of carrying bis threat into execution, an J really intended it, was he ignorant of the heavy loss which the naiion must sustain, in the mere article of paying off the capital, in the present state of the funds? Did he not know, that although the 4,200,0001. carried only three per cent, yet that he must pay it at parr and that the three per cents being down at sixty in the market, the public must necessarily lose a clear forty per cent, on every hundred pound they paid off? If a new company was the object of his spoliation, did he not know that tie trade must then be open? that he was disabled by law from rendering it exclusive? and that the present company would still retain their possessions, strong-holds, and so many other of their present superior powers and advantages in the country, as must speedily ruin the new adventurers, if any could be found mad enough to become foci?
Mr. Burke seemed unable to find words, to fill up the reprobation which he wished to bestow on the proposal. He said it was more wonhy of revellers intoxicated by liquor, than of statesmen in a sober tniate. He rejected the narrow idea of bargaining with the East India company, as if we were treating with an enemy; and upon the wretched principle, that whatever was not squeezed out in the barpin, was to be considered as so much lost. He threw the speculation of a new company into every point of ridicule. He was sure the minister never seriously intended it. The thing could not be, as every man of business, and acquainted
with our affairs, must know and feel. He declared, that if it were possible to adopt it, it would turn out a new Mississippi schemej and that it was worthy only, of such an unprincipled, abandoned, bubble projector as Law. He did not doubt but in this country, there would be found men weak and bad enough to bite at such a bubble; but he asserted, that it would burst with utter ruin to the adventurers. He reminded the house, that they had lost thirteen colonies, by the rapacity of the minister, in endeavouring to obtain a great revenue from America; and he warned then not to throw, the East after the West, by being again led into another revenue chace. That this would prove as idle ac the former; for that no money, at least no immediate supply, could be derived from those territorial possessions; which were a constant bait to the avarice of the court, and perhaps of the public.
The minister denied that his motion was a threat or a menace. It was meant merely as putting in a legal claim in behalf of the public, to the reversion of a right which undoubtedly belonged to them; and at that moment of time, when it was especially necessary that the claim ssiould be formally made. Gentlemen did not seem to recollect, that toy the lapse only of a few days, with respect to the notice, the company would necessarily gain, and the public unavoidably lose, a ycar*» possession of those ad vantages, which, by the stipulations of the law that founded the agreement, were to revert to the latter at the conclusion of three, years; leaving it in the option of the public, on receiving proper satisfaction from the company. pany, to grant, by a new charter, a renewal of their lease. This was all thai the motion tended to. It precluded no propositions which might hereafter be made by the company, nor it laid no restraint on parliament from accepting of any which it approved. It merely went to prevent a year of the public right to the reversion of the company's trade from flipping away without any compensation. 'In answer to those gentlemen on the other side, who said that the company would laugh at the notice, because they must know that it could not be seriously intended j he should in tlie first place observe, that it would be the East India company's own fault, if the notice was carried into execution. But he would not have these gentlemen carry away the idea, that if the present company broke up and divided their stock, the public would, as a necessary consequence, lose the revenues arising from the trade, or from the territorial acquisitions in India. He trusted there were means of securing both the one and the other. He did not wish to break with the present company; he did not desire to drive them to a dissolution; but the company ought not to imagine that the public lay at their mercy. The public had a right to look for great resources from the company, and from the territorial acquisitions in India. The company, as it was now established, he acknowledged was the best medium of drawing home the revenues from the Indies; but if the company were so unreasonable and so thoughtless, as not to come to a fair bargain with the public, a new company might be formed, and such
measures adopted, as would prevent or remedy the evils threatened to the revenue.
Mr. Burke having moved the previous question on the minister'. motion, it was rejected on a division, by a majority of 142, to 68. The main question being then put, for the speaker to give notice to the East India company, of the payment in three years of their capital stock, it wag carried without a division.
On the last day of sitting before the recess, upon bringing up the report from the committee of ways and means, of the new and very heavy taxes, which were then to be laid on, a faint, and perhaps illjudged attempt, was made by a few gentlemen in opposition, to defer receiving the report, until the petitions of the people of England were heard, and their griev ances redressed. A motion was accordingly framed, for postponing the report, until the 7th of April; and notwithstanding the appearance of the house, and other infallible indications of the event, was unaccountably pushed to a division; when it was rejected by a majority of 145, to 37.
During these scenes of continued and doubtful warfare in the House of Commons, some tacit cessation of hostility seemed to prevail in that of the Lords; the only public question that was brought forward, being a motion of the Earl of Effinghara, on the 10th of March, for a list of all places, pensions, and employments, whether for a term of years, for life, during pleasure, or good behaviour, held by the members of that house. It would not have been easy to have found
»ny new ground of debate upon fluence the public conduct of any
this subject. Much of the ground of its. noble members. And argu
taken upon a former motion of the meats similar to those which we have
Earl of Shelburne's, which exclud- already seen, were used on the other
ed lords v. ho held places or pen- side, to (hew the futility or ablur
sions under government, from sit- dity of that idea. In the course of
ting in the proposed committee of the debate, some slriclures which
accounts, was now trodden again were passed on the constitution of
by both parties. The fame inju- the Scotch peerage, excited some
rious censure was uow laid to be degree of warmth; nor did even
thrown upon the honour of the house the right reverend bench of bilhops,
by the present motion, which had pass entirely scot-free.—The mo
been before charged to the former, tion was rejected upon a division,, by
in supposing that places, pensions, a majority of ji to j^..
C H A P. VIII.
Army estimates. Delates on the sul/ec? of the neio corps. Division. Question carnal. Consideration of the petitions. Great debates in the Committee. Part iaien by the Speaker. Amendment to the motion, pro. posed and agreed to. Mr. Dunning'S amended /notion, carried, upon a division, in a very full house. Second motion, agreed to. Tt'tirJ motion, by Mr. T. Pitt, agreed to. House resumed. Mr. Fox's motion, for immediately receiving the report from the committee, opposed, hut carried. Resolutions, reported, received, and confirmed by the House. Mr. Lwinings motion son a following day) in the committee, for securing the independence of parliament, agreed to. Second motion, for dis* qualifying persons holding certain offices, from fitting in that house, carried, upon a division, by a majority of ttvo only. Mr. Creiuc's bill, for excluding revenue officers from voting on the election of members of parliament, resetted, on a division. Great debates in the House of Lords, upon the second reading of the contractors bill. The bill rejected, np'in a division, by a considerable majority. Protest. Consequences of the Speaker's illness. Pojiported motion of Mr. Dunning's, for an address, to prcren^diffolving the parliament, or proroguing the present session, until proper measures should be taken for correcting the evils complained of in the petitions of the people, brings out long debates; but is rejected by a cmijidcrabl* majority, in an exceedingly full house. Disortler upon Mr. Fox's rising to speak, after the division. Nature of his speech. Reply, by tlie minister. Great debates upon the clause in Mr. Burke't establishment bill, far abolishing the office os the Great Wardrobe^ i$c. Clause rejected upon a division. Succeeding clause, for abolishing the Board, of Works, rejected upon a division. Debates upon the, minister's till far a ctunmisjion of accounts. Close division upon a question in the committee. Bill as length passed. Debates on Colonel Barres motions, relative to the extraordinaries of the army. First motion rejecJed, upon a division, by a great majority. Succeeding resolutions rejected. General
Comvay's bill, for restoring peace "with America, disposed of, upon a division, by a motion for the order os the day. Motion tending to an enquiry, into arty requisition made bj the civil magistrate, for the attendance of the military, upon the late meeting of the elcclors of Westminster. Various elaufes of Mr. Burkes eftabliflimcnt bill, rejected, upon, or without divisions. Recorder ofLondrm's motion in behalf of the petitioners, rejected upon a division. Mr. Dunning's motion, in the committee of the "whole house on the consideration of the petitions, for reporting their <nvn two resolutions of the \Oth of April, set aside, by a motion for the chairman to quit the chair, •w/iich ivas carried upon a diviston. Meeting of the Protestant afsotiat'v,n in St. George's Fields. Subsequent riots, mischiefs, and conflagrations. Resolutions, conduct, and adjournment of both houses. Lord George Gordon committed to the Tcrwer. Speech from the throne, on the meeting of parliament after the late disorders. Addresses. Resolutions in the House of Commons, for quieting the minds of •well-meaning, but ill-informed persons. Rill passes the House of Commons, for the security of the Protestant religion. Is laid by in the House of Lords. Speech from the throne. Prorogation.
April Mh.ONar^t°teS the army estimates being laid before the House of Commons, and a motion made for their reference to a committee, much warm debate, as had been expected, and in some degree announced, arose upon the subject of the new levies, and of the innovations with respect to rank and promotion, which were charged by the opposition to have taken place in the army'.'
Sir Philip Jennings Clerke, first brought forward the business of the Cinque Ports regiment, which the minister, as Lord Warden of those ports, had raised, in a great measure, if not entirely, at his own expence; and to the command of which his son, who had not before held any military command, was appointed. This regiment was covered, as well by the circumstances which attended its being raised, as by the declaration of Colonel North himself, in his place, and in his first parliamentary speech, (a circumstance which
always draws a particular degree of complacency and attention from the house) that he neither received any pay, nor was entitled to any future rank, so that the trouble and expence, along with the honour and pleasure of serving bis country in a time of difficulty and danger, was all that he could possibly derive from the command. But what particularly saved this corps and appointment from farther animadversion, was, its being stated by .the minister himself, to be only a regiment of what is called fcnciblc men; a term before unknown in the military affairs of England, but which is applied in Scotland to a species of militia, (particularly the loyal clans. of Argyleshire, who were originally retained by government as a check upon their disaffected neighbours) whose terms of enlistment extend no father than to the immediate defence of their country.
But the debate was kept up afterwards, with respect to other