Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

CHAP.
LV.

1783.

18th.

comes necessary to act with caution as well as spirit. Ministers stood pledged to the public and a very honourable majority of that House, not to relinquish the affairs of the state while in so much anarchy and distraction.

All doubt respecting the termination of this affair was speedily dispelled; for, on the night which followed They are the last debate, Lord North and Mr. Fox received dismissed. messages from the King, requiring them to resign the seals of their offices, which were immediately transmitted to Buckingham House by the hands of the Under-Secretaries. They were, next day, given to 19th. Lord Temple, who immediately dispatched letters of New ministry dismissal to all the other ministers*. Mr. Pitt was Earl Temple. appointed first Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of Exchequer; and on him devolved the arduous and invidious task of forming an administration, under circumstances so difficult, and amidst the distractions occasioned by so many political jealousies, anxieties, doubts, and fears.

In the very commencement of his undertaking, he encountered an additional and unexpected embarrass- His resignament; for Lord Temple, feeling, with great sensibility, the recent attacks, and concurring with his friends that he could, with more regard to his own dignity, meet and repel any charge which could be made on him in the character of a private individual, than if invested with the dignity or shielded by the supposed influence of office, resigned the seals in three days after he had accepted them.

To be deprived of the political assistance of a near Final formarelationt, and so firm a friend, affected Mr. Pitt very tion of

ministry. profoundly; but he proceeded in forming an administration, in which Lord Thurlow was Chancellor; Earl Gower, President of the Councili; the Duke of Rutland, Lord Privy Seal ; Lord Carmarthen and Lord

22nd.

tion.

Tomline's Life of Pitt, vol. i. p. 172. † His father was brother of Mr. Pitt's mother. See, on this whole matter, Tomline's Life of Pitt, vol. i. p. 171.

Afterward Marquis of Stafford. This peer had never had the slightest intercourse with Mr. Pitt; but no one of his most intimate friends took a more decided part against the India bill; and when he understood the difficulty there VOL. IV.

F

CHAP.
LV.

1783.

Sydney, Secretaries of State; and Lord Howe, first Lord of the Admiralty. The Duke of Chandos was made Lord Steward of the Household; the Duke of Richmond, Master of the Ordnance; Mr. Grenville and Lord Mulgrave, Paymasters of the Forces; Mr. Dundas, Treasurer of the Navy; Sir George Young, Secretary at War; Mr. Kenyon, Attorney, and Mr. Arden, Solicitor-general.

Before this administration could be completed, the attack on it was begun, in a manner which, while it shewed an absolute certainty of ultimate success, demonstrated also a determination not to be sparing in the display of contempt, and the use of means of annoyance. When a new writ was moved for Appleby, on Mr. Pitt's appointment to office, the late ministry burst out into peals of derision; and Mr. Fox informed the House that business was to be brought on of a nature too important to wait for the right honourable gentleman's return. Mr. Dundas and Mr. Baker immediately rose; the Speaker called on the former, declaring he first had met his eye; but the opposition, confident in their majority, would not allow the Speaker to regulate the debate; and, until he deprecated such a proceeding, were pressing a question for decision that Mr. Baker do now speak. The point was at last conceded*, and he very shortly moved that the House, at its rising, should adjourn until the following Monday. As the day on which they were speaking was Friday, the motion would have been a mere matter of course; but Mr. Dundas declared it had been his wish to request the House to sit on the morrow, that the landtax appropriation bill might be read a third time, and transmitted to the Lords, in order to its being passed before the holidays, and that the payment of dividends on the fifth of January might not be impeded.

Conduct of opposition.

Motion to sit on Saturday.

was in filling up the cabinet offices, he sent a message to Mr. Pitt, by a confi. dential friend, that, wishing to enjoy retirement for the remainder of his life, he could not be a candidate for a place; but, in the present situation of the King, and distressed state of the country, he would cheerfully take any office in which it might be thought he could be useful. His name and experience were certainly of great service to Mr. Pitt at the present moment. Tomline's Life of Pitt, vol. i. p. 174.

* Journals.

CHAP.

LV.

1783,

In the debate on this proposition, which was put into the shape of an amendment, much anger was exhibited, and a contumelious and threatening manner adopted. Mr. Fox declared his disposition to support M! Fox.

Opposed by the credit of the nation, and would by no means desire the House to adjourn till Monday, if that would prevent the passing of the bill before the fifth of January; but the delay could only be attended with one inconvenience,-merely this, that the Lords might possibly be kept two or three days longer from their country seats and their pleasures. Surely, at this moment, when the Parliament was brought, if report was to be credited, to nearly the eve of a dissolution, gentle- of a dissolu

Apprehension men would think it much better to subject the House tion, to that inconvenience, than to leave their country, exposed to the dreadful calamity which that measure would draw down upon the nation. After an angry debate, in which Lord North was vehemently accused, and, with the genuine warmth of true friendship, ably vindicated by Mr. Adam, the amendment was rejected, and the original motion carried without a division*.

When the Commons re-assembled, Mr. Grenville 22nd and 23rd. apprized them of Lord Temple's retirement; and, after Committee on a few remarks, the House resolved itself into a com- nation. mittee on the state of the nation.

Mr. Erskine, having deprecated the dissolution of Mr. Erskine's a Parliament which had devoted two years to the consideration of Indian affairs, and noticed the resignation of Lord Temple, and his unsatisfactory denial of the words imputed to him, moved an address, founded on the alarming reports of an intended dissolution, representing the inconveniences and dangers.likely to follow from a prorogation, when the great objects recommended to their attention in his Majesty's speech, and particularly the consideration of Indian affairs, must be frus. trated by delay, and by the assembling of a new Parlia

motion.

The fate of the bill, if it is thought worth inquiry, is told in few words. It was read a third time on Monday, and on the same day a first and second time in the upper House, and a third time on the day following ; so that, in fact, no delay occurred. Journals.

CHAP.
LV.

1783.

Mr. Bankes.

Lord North

ment, not prepared by previous inquiry to enter with effect into those important investigations, and therefore praying that his Majesty would not hearken to the secret advice of particular persons, who might have private interests of their own, separate from his true interests and those of his people.

Mr. Bankes said he was authorized by Mr. Pitt to assure the committee that he had no intention to advise either a dissolution or a prorogation. In a long debate which followed, the principal feature was a speech from Lord North, who, with his usual wit and pleasantry, combined with knowledge and ornamented by taste, censured the new ministry, and vindicated his own. Adverting to a former night, he observed, it had been said that a starling ought to be placed in the House and taught to speak the words “ coalition! “ coalition ! cursed coalition !Now for my part,” he proceeded, “ I think that, while there is in this House “ an honourable gentleman, who never fails, let what “ will be the subject of debate, to curse the coalition, “there will be no occasion for the starling, and while he “ continues to speak by rote and without any formed

idea, I think what he says will make just as much

impression as if the starling himself were to utter his “ words. As to the coalition and the abuse so often “ thrown upon it, they always bring to my mind two “ persons for whom I felt no inconsiderable concern; “they were shut up in the Eddystone light-house, to “ mind the fire; they were of different principles, and

therefore, although they were shut in from all inter“ course with the rest of mankind, and although they

might by their conversation have amused one another,

yet they never exchanged a word for six weeks, and “ each would have let the fire go out, and seen all the

navy of England dashed to pieces under them, rather “ than give up the most trivial point to the other. Now “ the enemies of the coalition would have had my right 6 honourable friend and me resemble these two men ; “ but we considered the safety of the public our princi

pal care and duty, and, in order to save the ship of “state from running ashore, or dashing against the rocks,

66

CHAP.
LV.

answer.

Mr. Fox's

“we agreed at all events that the fire in the light-house “should not be extinguished, but that, let who would “stir it, it was to be kept in. Thus what some affected 1783. " to call a curse, was in reality a blessing to the nation.”

Mr. Erskine's motion was carried without a divi. Address voted. sion; and all the necessary steps were immediately taken for framing an address and presenting it to the King.

An anwer was returned without delay, in which 21th. his Majesty assured the House that he would not in- The King's terrupt their meeting by any exercise of his prerogative, either of prorogation or dissolution.

Mr. Fox, treating this answer, according to its real import, as a mere assurance that the House should not observations. be prevented from meeting again after the recess, wished for the shortest possible adjournment, and proposed the eighth of January. The state of the country would not admit of a long recess; for, as the present ministers could not stand long (and indeed to talk of the stability and permanency of their government would only be to laugh at and insult them), it would be necessary to move for another set of writs in the room of those who, in forming another ministry, should vacate their seats. He did not know that he should make one of the next administration ; but he was impatient that the sense of the House might be soon taken on the weak young men who accepted offices under present circumstances. Their youth, indeed, was the only possible excuse for their rashness; as they did not seem to understand a pretty broad hi from the House, it would, perhaps, require a broader to convince them of the necessity of retiring, which might be conveyed in some pointed resolution after the holidays, and Parliament secured against a dissolution. The House finally adjourned to the twelfth of January; but not until Lord Beauchamp had moved that the Commissioners of the treasury ought not to permit champ's mothe acceptance of bills from India, until the House tion. should be satisfied that sufficient means could be provided for their payment out of the clear effects of the Company after discharging all sums due to the public.

Lord Beau

« PředchozíPokračovat »