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review our circumftances, which, he thanked Heaven, were yet profperous, and to improve them by thofe means of internal regulation that he averred we had in our power; and by which we should be enabled to affert our ftation among the kingdoms of Europe. The reforms of office, and the various regulations fuggested by the commiffioners of public accounts, were certainly moft deferving of their lordships' regard, and they would, therefore, he was perfuaded, moft chearfully concur with his Majefty in that object.
In regard to the fuppreffion of fmuggling he believed there was but one fentiment. It was an evil of fo ruinous a nature, that their lordships muft be happy to hear that the meafures of laft feflion had been productive of good. It would be their object to perfevere in their endeavours to fulfil the work they had begun, and totally to fupprefs the evil. It would be unneceffary for him to enlarge on the injuries which the unreftrained practice of fmuggling brought on a commercial country; in the deftruction of the morals, in the alienation of the minds of the citizens, in the debaucheries which it occafioned, as well as in the lofs of revenue, and the confequent increase of burthens which it brought on the fair trader and induftrious artifan. The number of people engaged in contraband trade, before the late acts, would aftonish such lords as might not have turned their eyes to the fubject. It would furprise them to hear that it coft the nation no lefs than 200,000l. a year for the efforts which they made to watch and prevent the commiffion of their frauds; and they would be happy to hear that the measures taken lately by parliament had been fo fuccefsful, that in the last year there had been an increase in the Cuftoms of 400,000l. and in the Excife of a million, This was not all; these advantages had not been accompanied by the evils which were forefeen. Apprehenfions had been entertained, that when the adventurous body of men engaged in the fmuggling trade were prevented from the further practice of their frauds, they would emigrate, that they would
carry with them their capital and enterprise to foreign countries. This, however, had not enfued; for he was happy to find, that, by the liberal and prudent act of oblivion which had been paffed, thefe men had not been induced to abandon their country, but were daily striking out new and legal paths, and that numbers of them were at this time folicitous of being engaged in a trade highly beneficial to the country-the Newfoundland fishery. The noble lord faid there was much to be done yet for the entire fuppreffion of contraband dealing; and he was perfuaded that the further wifdom and ability of parliament employed on this point would give an acceffion of vigour to the ftate beyond the warmeft imaginations of men. He concluded with faying, that the fpeech having thus, in all its points, his entire concurrence, he with pleasure had rifen to fecond the noble duke in his motion for an addrefs.
The addrefs was agreed to nemine diffentiente.
In the Houfe of Commons, Mr. Phelips, junior, faid he felt himself happy that it was in his power, by a conduct equally confiftent with his own fentiments, and becoming the dignity of his conftituents, to give his full approbation to his Majefty's most gracious fpeech, which expreffed fo much anxiety for the welfare of his people, as muft infpire them with the utmost fenfe of gratitude and loyalty; and he begged leave, therefore, in fympathy with fuch feelings, to propofe an humble addrefs of thanks to the throne, which was, as ufual, a recitation of the fpeech
Mr. Noel Edwards feconded the motion, and commented on the many circumftances of attention to the good of this country which appeared in all his Majefty's character, on which he bestowed much praife.
The Earl of Surrey concurred with many parts of the fpeech, and of the propofed addrefs, but thought it in many points deficient, and forgetful of feveral matters which were of the most important concern, and engaged the expectations
of all men at the prefent moment. He wished to know whether, by the eftimates for this year being ordered to be laid before the Houfe, and the expectation of ready fupplies, with the affurance alfo of the utmoft economy in the expenditure, they were to remove the neceflity of any new load of taxes; if that was the meaning, which it certainly implied, and which ought to be unequivocally the truth, he should be happy to hear it fo explained in the courfe of the difcuffion of the argument; but he was aftonished that on the mention of economy there was no intimation of any reduction of the army. He could not but think from this, that there was the utmoft ambiguity and evafion in the conduct of minifters; why did they make his Majefty delude his fubjects with the mere fhew of decorum, with the fimple expreffion and mention of the objects which deferved his attention, but always efcaped unexecuted, for the benefit of his people? He wished them to adhere to their intentions, and fulfill their engagements. In a fifter kingdom, the profecuting fheriff's ex officio for their conduct, grounded on charges against them of impartiality, was a matter of nice confideration. The meafure, he conceived, was violent, and unjuftified by precedent. The reform which was fo much talked of in the reprefentation of this kingdom was an important affair, and he longed to know if it was to meet with the ferious fupport of the minifter; till his doubts and fufpicions were done away, he could not but give his hearty negative to the
Mr. Pitt requested the House to indulge him with fome obfervations which he would make on feveral fuggeftions which the noble lord had offered on the fubject of the addrefs. From the tenor of the fpeech, and the filence he had obferved all around him, he could not imagine there was one diffenting voice to the addrefs which his hon. friend had propofed. He was highly flattered that the noble lord had approved of any part of his Majefty's fpeech; and though he had ftated that there were many deficiencies
in it, he could not think the noble lord had made them appear. With regard to the eftimates for the year, and the neceffary fupplies to be granted, whether their amount would preclude the neceffity of a new loan, and whether there would be any reduction of the army, thofe were queftions totally dependant on fucceeding events, and the circumftances of the times. With regard to the reform in the reprefentation of this kingdom, he hoped to be able in a few days to give notice to the House of fome future day, which he meant fhould be preceded by a call of the Houfe, when he intended to lay a propofition of this nature before it. He hoped it would appear to be founded on a juft conception of the prefent deficiencies in the ftate of the reprefentation of this country; that it would be found calculated to establish the rights of the people on a fure and firm bafis; and tend to the permanent fecurity of the true principles of the conftitution. And he must entreat and conjure every gentleman in this Houfe to come on that day with a mind free of impreffion from general prejudices, and give the fubject that impartial, fair, and folid difcuffion which its importance, its weight, and folemnity required.
Lord North faid he would not deny his affent to the addrefs. The affairs of Ireland, which were recommended to our attention, and the adjustment of them on a fyftem which would unite both countries most closely on principles of reciprocal advantage, he feared, might be connected with the doctrine of the fettlement of the laft peace, where the conceffions were faid to have been reciprocal, but he found all the conceffions were on one fide; he, therefore, found himself totally at a loss for the meaning of the word reciprocity,and, therefore, begged minifters would interpret, whether it was to be restored to its antient meaning, or what it now fignified? He could not but view moft alarming confequences from any idea of a reform in the reprefentation of this country, and fuch as must be unfpeakably dangerous. He obferved there had been a letter from a reverend gen
tleman, intimating the fupport of miniftry to the reform, but nothing of their fyftem. He dreaded every thing from the distraction it might occafion in this country, which had fo long fupported itfelf fo well on its antient principles. He faid it was obfervable that there was a progreffive principle in the minds of all men, which led them to improve and perfect whatever was the fubject or defign of human endeavours, fed difficilis mons in fummo eft; and it belonged only to fuperior and elevated minds to know and fix the zenith of improvement, thence to turn the procefs of the mind to the lafting prefervation of an object that had arrived at perfection, which little minds, incapable of fuch difcernment, were ever prone to mutilate and deform.
Mr. Burke treated the addrefs with the greateft afperity: he had never feen, he faid, a performance of fuch trifling length, which had occafioned fo great a diverfity of opinion: it was, however, happily accommodated to the ideas of all. In its equivocation every fentiment found a refuge, and every opinion found fome degree of fanétion: it had alfo, he observed, the merit of concifenefs. A celebrated fpeech from the throne, which opened the firft feffion of the laft parliament, had taught every fucceeding minifter an ufeful leffon: that fpeech was in itself such a farrago of minute facts, as could not but fuggeft the most ludicrous ideas.
After dwelling for fome time on this head, he adverted to the late proceedings against the Irish fheriffs, unjuftifiable, he faid, on principles of reafon or of law. They were not by way of information or indictment, but by an attachment ex officio, wherein, without any application made, the King's-Bench affumed a power unknown to the conftitution. I do not, continued he, mean to make any particular inferences from the affairs of Ireland, diftinct as it is from this, an imperial kingdom itself; but muft arraign the conduct of that minifter, who can thus punish in one kingdom what all his authority is employed to recommend in another. Will any perfon fay, that on the face of things it implies
not a manifeft contradiction, or that the Tyrii bilingues of antiquity are not renewed in our prefent hopeful adminiftration.
I must also ask, continued he, why is the fpeech entirely filent on the affairs of India? This filence is indeed an alarming confeffion of that diftress. which it forbears to mention. But though the speech of the minister convey no information, I have lately feen a King's fpeech, which was fufficiently explicit on the dreadful occafion; a king (alluding to Mr. Haftings) who rules even with more authority than the British monarch, who has told of diftreffes which were not before believed, and proved the falfehood of thofe reprefentations on the faith of which the nation had been induced to. grant the aids of laft feffion. It now appears that Hindoftan, which was heretofore our boafted refource, is itfelf the prey of diftrefs and famine; a diftrefs occafioned by oppreffion, and a famine aggravated by the exactions of defpotifm. Thefe facts, he faid, appeared from the letter of Mr. Haftings;" but there were others not lefs alarming, which he would come prepared to prove, else be deemed the baseit of mankind. Though the affairs of the Eaft were enveloped in a myfterious fecrecy, though the proprietors looked at prefent more for diamonds than difcoveries, yet that the country was in a ftate of distracted rebellion could not: long be concealed. That the criminal against whom that House fulminated its cenfures yet retained the reins of government, that he has had the infolence to level his defigns against the man (Lord Macartney) who had been honoured by the approbation of that Houfe, were facts well known. It remained for him to add, that profufion on the one hand, and peculation on the other, had left no money to purchase the investments of the Company; that even their Treafury orders paffed at a discount of 12 per cent. that the expences of the establishment had been gradually raised to the enormous fum of 512,000l. per annum, and that thus fituated Mr. H. had dared, without the knowledge of government, or the
proprietors, actually to engage in a war, hazardous and defperate in the extreme, as if to fill up the meafure of calamity.Mr. Burke was exceedingly diffufe upon this fubject, and reprobated the idea of thinking to extract from the diftreffes of Hindoftan any alleviation of our burdens, pledged himfelf in the moft folemn manner to fupport his affertions with proofs the most irrefragable, and concluded his long fpeech by moving an amendment to the addrefs to the following purport:
"Convinced, by fatal experience, every diverfion of the revenues of the Eaft-Indies from the local establishments or juft appropriation must ultimately tend to the ruin of that country, and to lay additional burthens upon this, your faithful Commons beg leave to affure your Majefty, that we will enquire minutely into the circumftances, to prevent peculation in future, and to punish the offenders, if they can poffibly be difcovered."
Mr. Fox remarked on the omiffion of India affairs in the fpeech, that it was perfectly unufual, and what had never before occurred, though it seemed now more particularly requifite, when the government was vefted in the hands of adminiftration. But as this fubject, he faid, would in future come frequently before the Houfe, either for advice or crimination, he would difmifs it for the prefent. He would vote for the addrefs, because in that cafe he never oppofed, unless the purport were entirely abhorrent from his feelings. He could give a qualified affent; he could interpret it according to his own ideas; but when it was mentioned, that " The true principles of the Conftitution were to be fecured," no perfon, in his opinion, could vote as he did, unlefs convinced, with him, that caufes of danger at prefent exist. He then adverted to the late proceedings in Ireland, which he condemned in terms of the utmost energy. If, fays he, the pillars of the conftitution are to be fapped, and the facred rights of juries are to be invaded, our expected reform is frivolous and futile. I will not fay but that the meafure may be neceffary here, which in Ireland circumstances may render
inexpedient. But I muft infift, that in both cafes the meetings are precifely the fame. There cannot poffibly be a guilt in one, and innocence in the other; and from this truth, what alarming inferences are not to be drawn? We know the minifter not to be hostile to the measure; we can, therefore, only argue, that in the violence of this procedure he feeks to establish a precedent which he may find useful.
On the measure of reform, he said, he must avow his fentiments; he entered largely on the fubject, and promifed his decided fupport. He proceeded to remark on a letter circulated by the Reverend Mr. Wyvil, in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer was faid to have promifed his fupport as a man and a minifter. Of this he required an explanation; to fupport as a minifter could literally but mean, as a fervant of the King; nor could it be tortured into any other fenfe, unless it applied to the exertion of an undue influence, which the conftitution did not acknowledge, and which, therefore, he hoped the honourable gentleman would difavow. He then alluded to the Westminster fcrutiny, of which, he faid, he would not at prefent anticipate a future difcuffion, but that furely every pretenfion to reform was in itself a mockery, when fuch a power was permitted in a returning officer, as to delay the return for years perhaps, according to his pleasure. His Majefty's affurances for the fuppreffion of fmuggling he should take for granted; but must not be understood in confequence to imply the moft diftant approbation of the commutation act, the moft rafh, crude, and injudicious meafure of finance that had ever been attempted. Former young statesmen had fometimes ventured to promise an increafe of revenue without any additional burthen on the people. had always fmiled at this idea, because he thought them in fact infeparable; but that this pretended commutation had convinced him of the contrary, as it had placed the additional burthen, without any the leaft increase of revenue. He next adverted to the reduc tion of the army, which he expressed
his fears the continental difputes rendered impracticable, as the powers contending were by no means fo pacifically inclined as common report had taught him to expect. He concluded with recommending to administration, in the most strenuous manner, their attention to a fubftantial and effective finking fund, as the only means of extinguishing at least a part of our debt, retrieving our credit, and finally faving the country from deftruction. Mr. Pitt faid, in reply, that the reafon why the affairs of India had been omitted in the fpeech was, that the neceffity no longer exifted, but was precluded by the fyftematic and conclufive arrangements which had been made laft feffion. Thefe, he afferted, were in the highest degree effectual, and that measures more decifive and beneficial had been adopted by the Board of Control than had ever appeared in five times the space; meafures fuperior to thofe of any former adminiftration, and infinitely more eligible than that plan of defpotifm which was defeated by the bitter prefages of the nation.
As to the mention of Irish affairs, it had, he said, at prefent, no place with propriety; that Houfe was not competent to decide on the legality of the proceedings of their King's-Bench; nor, indeed, did the general allegations of the gentlemen in oppofition on that head merit a particular reply. The letter of the gentleman. fo much alluded to (Mr. Wyvil) was certainly, he faid, not written by him; the phrafe, therefore, fo much cenfured was not his, yet he fhrank not from the difcuffion.
novation; and that though the House had formerly rejected the fame measure under the shape of a general propofition, it now came forward as a specific. plan, which he trufted they would not reject without examination.-In vindicating the commutation act, he was as profufe in his encomiums on its effects as oppofition had been in reprobating its tendency; it had produced, he faid, the moft falutary effects with the most aftonishing expedition; and befides the fuppreffion of fmuggling, which was its primary object, had be nefited the revenue in feveral refpects, as he promised to prove at a future. period. In reply to the question, Whether there would be any neceffity for additional taxes, he declared that he entertained the most fanguine hopes of being able to avoid laying any further burthens on the people, merely by attending to the improvements of the revenue.
He then entered into a long and farcaftic detail of the proceedings of the oppofition, their inconfiftencies in the laft feffion, their want of pretenfions to the unanimous fupport of that House, for the poffeffion of which they at prefent affected to turn him into ridicule, but which he trufted his conduct would long enable him to preferve.
Lord North faid he was not blessed, like the right honourable gentleman, with the talent of words, with that flow of elegant phrafes which so much delighted his auditory, and which were the only recompence he made them for the abfence of every thing elfe; but, in his plain conception of things, he endeavoured to make himfelf understood. He had faid that he was an avowed and public advocate for the original principles of the conftitu tion, and an enemy to that fpirit of innovation which feemed for fome time to have become the fashion, and which was cherished in the minds of the people by all the powers of elcquence, and all the arts of party. For this adherence to original principles, he was charged with bigotry. If by bigotry was meant a rational adherence to fentiments which were the refult of deliberate conviction, and an adhe