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the first he attributed the universe applause and the high culogiums, which Mr. Burke't propositions received on their being first opened to the house. The temper and disposition which afterwards appeared, he was convinced, originated out of that house; and would never otherwise have prevailed within its walls.
For after such general approbation, the bill was let down softly. First, it contained some matter worthy of approbation, then, it was doubtful; at last, it was fundamentally wrong and dangerous.
He observed, that in the course of the very important contest oh different parts of the establistiuent bill, notwithstanding the dexterity used on the other side, some matters cf great public concern were brought unwillingly out; and which indeed were the cause for his entering at present upon the subject. Particularly, in the discussion of the first clause of that bill, for abolishing the office of a third secretary of state, two fundamental points were brought into controversy. It had been affirmed, that the influence of the 'crpwn was not too great. It had been asserted, that the influence of the crown, even such as it was stated to be in argument, was constitutional and necessary: and it had also been asserted, that the other point insisted on in the petitions, the enquiry into the expenditure of the Civil List Revenue, was a business not competent to that house. Aster taking notice how the minister shrunk from the contest, when it was strenuously endeavoured on his side, to bring the question forward to abide the deci
sion of the house; he observed
that the clause was, however, lost, under pretence that the office wa9 not useless, or if it was, that no evidence of its being useless appeared.
The next chose, he said, relative to the abolition of the board of trade, was opposed on the same ostensible ground of its not being useless. The minister, however, besides the ostensible ground, maintained both the other doctrines, that the influence of the crown was not too much, and that parliament had no right to controul the Civil List expenditure; but the house was not to be drove. < The House revolted, and the clause for abolishing the board of trade was carried by a small majority.
The next clause ps the establishment bill, Mr. Dunning observed, was openly opposed on principle; and that principle supported, in one shape or other, by a great majority of that house. The king's houshold was deemed sacred; it was net to be touched; a distinction was made by some of those who gave the minister that majority: useless places which related to the functions of the state, they held, might be abolished; but the king's revenue, for the support of his houshold, was his own personal revenue, with which parliament neither had, nor could have any.
thing to do. -That decision he
considered as giving the deathwound to his friend's bill.
The next attempt, he observed, made in pursuance of the petitions, or in compliance with the wishes of the people, was that by Col. Barre, for instituting a committee of accounts. But the noble minister, he said, after freely promising mi si rig his full assistance to the measure, well foreseeing, that it would bring out many things extremely irksome and unpleasant to himself, detected the design, by running a r.ice with his honourable friend for the bill, and snatching it out of. his hands, where it had been placed, by ilie unanimous voice and approbation of that house. He heavily censured the manœuvre of the minister in this bulinels, both as it rejected him in the rhaiacter of a gentleman, and in that of his public capacity: n> r did he Jels condemn his substituted bill for a commission of accounts, which he described as being totally unprofitable, if not worse.
Twrj other efforts, he observed, were made towards answering, one of the principal objects of the petitioners, by lessening the influence of the crown in that house. The one was Sir George Saville's motion for the production of the pension list; which was excellently calculated for answering that purpose; but which he had the mortification os seeing defeated like the foregoing. The other was Sir Philip Jennings Clerke's bill Jor the exclusion of contractors; which had the good fortune of being carried through that house.
Thus, the whole of what had been ob'ained, in consequence of that pile of parchment before them, containing the sentiments, the prayers, and the petitions of above one hundred ihouland electors, and through such laudable efforts, luch late and frequent discussion, aud so many arduous struggles within the house, ainounted only to a single clause in the establishment bil), which Handing raked, as it did, could be
considered of little or no importance; to the minister's runaway bill, which was as direct an insult to that hpuse, as it was a bare-faced mockery of their constituents -r and to the contractor's bill, when t,he friends of administration predict will Hill miscarry; or if that hope should fail, openly boast, that 'such means are contrived as will defeat all its purposes. Such, he said, was the manner in which the dutiful petitions of the people of England had hitheito been lieated.
He then stated, that as every other means had failed of producing any effect adequate to the prayer of the petitions, he thought it his duty, and it w is the duty of the house, to take some determinate measure, by which the people might know, without equivocation, what they had to trust to, and whether their petitions were adopted or rejected. To bring butn the points contested between the petitioners and ministers fairly to issue, he should frame two propositions, abstracted from" the petitions on the table, and take the sense of the committee upon them. He meant, that they should be short, and as simple as possible, so as to draw forth a direct affirmative or negative.
He then moved his first proposition, "That the influence of the crown has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished." —»He supported his motion principally upon tue public notoriety of the fact; and disclaimed seeking for that kind of explicit proofs, whsch, as they were necessary, were likewise easily obtained in other cases; but which, in this being impracticable, it was of course ridiculous to require. The
[/.] 4 question. question, he said, must be decided by the consciences of those,- who as a jury were cMled upon to determine, what was or was not
within their knowledge J^c ob-'
served, however, as a collateral circumstance of evidence, that nothing less than the most alarming and corrupt influence, could induce a number of gentlemen in that house, to support the minister by their votes in those measures within doors, which they condemned and reprobated without. That this was the cafe, and within his own immediate knowledge, he declared upon his honour; and aiided, that though he was not himself very squeamish, nor over-delicate, in giving his opinion, upon the measures of administration, he had never indulged himself in throwing opon them such severe epithets, as had fallen in his presence from thev mouths of members abroad, who, notwithstanding, supported them within those walls; nor was the number small, for, but (hat the talk would be too invidious, he could mention no less than fifty members of that house, who had held that language and conduct.
On the other hand, the ministers and their friends contended, that the resolution now moved was clearly an abstract proposition.— The learned gentleman had declared, that he would not inform the house what further measures he intended to graft upon his intended resolutions; this afforded to them all the properties, and even the exact definition of an abstract question. There were, to be sore, instances, in the records of parliament, in which abstract questions weie moved and agreed to;
but they were very improper' e*r am pies ' to be followed; and' in1 general, even in those case's, they' related to some previous proceed*' ings in the house, some disputed point, some subject of controversy' under discussion, in which the' fense of the house was pa'rticularly called for. When this happened1 not to be the cafe, the person who' proposed to the house to' vote an abstract question, having a prospective view to mea(ures which were to be engrafted in it, was bound by the nature of the requisition, to explain what those measures were intended to be; otherwise, one of ;hole two things might happen, eitlur that the house should vote an abstract question td no manner of purpose, or that after havmg agreed to the leading proposition, they might, notwithstanding, be under a necessity of rejecting the measure to be engrafted on it, although that measure might well bear a strong seeming relation to the antecedent resolution; a circumstance which would throw' a disgraceful appearance of inconsistency and absurdity upon their proceedings
The proposed resolution, they said, came fully within these predicaments. It was purely abstract, as not being connected with any one measure whatever; it pointed to no remedy, nor was it "apparently designed to avert any evil. Many gentlemen in that ■house might possibly think, that the influence of the crown was really increasing; others, that it was increased; and some, perhaps, that it ought to be diminished. These, through their ignorance of what Was to follow, might vote for the abstract proposition simply as it
stood; flood; and yet' might afterwards Iocjiiv disapprove of the measure with which the learned gentleman intended to fallow it op; whereas, if the measure of correction had accompanied the fact of abuse, they would, from a knowledge of its tendency, have rejected the question in the abstract.
They objected to the total want of evidence to support the facts; and could for themselves answer that they were wholly unfounded. The slightest view of the state of public affairs would directly overthrow the whole supposition. Was it a time when America was lost! it waa feared irretrievably lost! when that loss was succeeded by a war with France, and another with Spain; was it a time, after so long a series of disappointments, untoward events, ill success and losses, and all the unpopular consequences incident to such a state os things, to suppose that the influence of the crown was increased? The people were heavily borthened; they foresaw an increase os those burthens daily approaching; they felt the loss of America; they were disappointed and out of temper; in such circumstances to talk of the influence of the crown, was absurd and preposterous.
It was besides argued to be unfair and unjust with respect to the present administration. It would appear, they said, if the present resolution was adopted, at least to the people without doors, that this influence had originated, and was daily increasing, under the present administration. This implied a censure of so severe a nature, as called for the most sound and substantial proof before it should he
admitted, much less established by fa vote of parliament. For if airy such influence existed at all, it must have existed before the present ministers were born; but the charge was not accompanied or supported by a single argument, which could distinguish this administration even from any other during the present reign.
They farther, urged, that the present mode of carrying on the government of this country had continued the fame exactly from the revolution downwards; and unless some proof were (hewn that an influence, whatever that might be, existed at present, different from th.it which was supposed to exist in former times, the present vote would be replete with danger to the constitution; for it would tend to alter that system of government, which had been established by our forefathers j and which had been approved of, continued, and confirmed, by several succeeding generations.
The assertion, as to the reprobation of the measures of ministers without doors, by those who had supported them within, was bitterly resented. The fact itself seemed to be doubted, as much as propriety would admit of» and a court lord, after every possible degree of execration of such men, if they really existed, called upon them to quit his side of the house, and to go over to the other, emphatically crying out, "Go, you worst of men, be your hearts and motives ever so corrupt, preserve some appearance of principle and decency, and support those prin* ciples in public, which you approve of, and secretly avow, in private."
The speaker, on this day, took a decided part in support of the motion. He observed, that however irksome it was to him to take any part in their debatus, and however cautious he was, and ought to be, of obtruding his own private opinions on the house, there were cases, and he considered the present as one of them, in which it would be criminal in him to remain silent. The question before them, be said, was of infinite consequence to that house, and to the people at Urge; b >th were under the greatest obligation to the learned gentleman who had brought it under discussion; and however it might be determined, he was happy in the opportunity which it afforded him ot discharging his duty, as a member of that house, both to his constituents, and to his country in general.
He denied that the question was in any degree abstract; it was a question ot fact. Whit were the fasti? It desired the house to re-, solve in the first instance, that the influence of the crown was increased; who would doubt the truth of that fact ?—That it is increasing; could any man doubt of that euher? He believed not. If there was any such peison present, he was sure that lie was not himself that person. He had seen so many instances ot both since he had the honour of a feat in that house, as sufficiently justified him in saying, that the influcice os the Crown had increased, and was inert afing. The petitions on the table averred the fact; it was the cut/ of tha: house to say whether it was or was not so. It was an allegation which called for no proofs; it did not indeed admit of
any. It could only be known to the members of that house, and they were the only persons competent to resolve it; for such were the circumstances of the affair, that if it were even proved by evidence, they only could know whether the evidence was true or false. They were bound as jurors, by the conviction arising in their own minds, and were obliged tj determine accordingly.
He appealed to the feelings and experience of gentlemen who heard him, if the influence of the crown had not increased, was not daily increasing, and whether it was not the duty of that house to limit it i He professed himself a friend to the legal constitutional prerogatives of the crown; but he contended that these afforded the o.ily legitimate influence, which it could have, or ought to exercise; aud asked, whether it was not a very vain and idle thing to limit or mete out the prerogatives of the crown, while they permitted another, and mu.li more dangerous, because a concealed influence, to operate in their stead.
He further phserved, that the species of government established in this country, under its true and proper definition of a monarchy limited by law, he was free to fay, required no other assistance" for the exercise of its functions, than what it derived from the constitution and the laws. That the powers vested in the executive part of government, and in his opinion wifely placed there, were ample and sufficient for all the purposes of good government, and without any further aid, were much too ample for the purposes of bad government j and he thought himself