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tempt to make him great without the support of Parliament and his people, would only deceive his Majesty and disappoint themselves.
Much was said on the subject of secret influence, or back-stair intrigues, to which the late change was ascribed ; and Mr. Pitt's youth was the subject of severe animadversion. It was good, said Solomon, for a man to bear the yoke in his youth; and, if the right honourable gentleman had attended to that maxim, he would not, at so early a period, have declared against a subordinate, and usurped the highest situation.
The assertions respecting influence, Mr. Pitt re- Answered. pelled with indignation. He came up no back stairs, but went into the royal closet at the command of his Majesty. He knew of no secret influence; his own integrity would be his guardian against that danger; and whenever he discovered any, he would not stay a moment longer in office.
Lord North repelled, with considerable warmth, Lord North. some supposed charges of meanness and hypocrisy. Many bitter personalities occurred, but no great politi- Motion cal principle was brought into discussion. On a divi- carried. sion, the question for going into a committee was carried by a reduced majority of thirty-nine*.
In the committee, Mr. Fox, and others of his party, Motions in the moved several resolutions, which were immediately committee. reported and adopted by the House. First, that, if any person employed in the issuing of public money, should pay any sums, for services voted during the session, after Parliament should have been prorogued or dissolved, if that event should take place before the passing of an act for the appropriation of supplies, he would be guilty of a high crime and misdemeanor ; and, secondly, that accounts of monies issued since the nineteenth of December, for certain services, and not appropriated, be laid before the House, and no monies issued until three days after such return should be made. It was represented that the latter resolution
* 232 to 193.
would occasion great obstruction of public business, and the opposition withdrew it.
Lord Surrey then moved, that, in the present situLord Surrey's ation of his Majesty's dominions, it is peculiarly ne
cessary that there should be an administration which
has the confidence of this House and the public. Mr. Amendment Dundas, observing that, accidentally or intentionally, proposed by Mr. Dundas.
the name of his Majesty had been omitted, and no mention made of the other House of Parliament, moved, as an amendment, that the motion should conclude with “ the Crown, the Parliament, and the
Sir Watkin Lewes, one of the members for London, could not accede to a proposition which seemed to recommend persons, who, if they had the confidence of that House, had not the good opinion of the people; especially at a time when his constituents intended to vote an address of thanks to the Crown for having removed them. Mr. Arden said that perhaps the House might next resolve such address to be a high crime and misdemeanor in the Common Council. The motion was unnecessary, as every ministry ought to have the confidence of the House and the people.
The principal speakers of the opposition party were, Lord North, Mr. Fox, Mr. Sheridan, and Mr. Erskine; on the other side were, Mr. Pitt, Mr. Dundas, and Mr. Powys.
Mr. Fox still maintained that the present ministry had come into power on principles unconstitutional and odious to the majority of the representatives of the nation; but their supporters were determined not to see what stared them in the face. It was therefore necessary to make specific motions, and place facts in so broad a light, that even the most wilful and perverse affectation of disbelief should no longer avail them.
The amendment was negatived, and the original
motion carried. Lord Surrey's
Lord Surrey next moved that the mutiny bill other motions. should be read a second time on the twenty-third of
February; a measure which Mr. Pitt observed to be
needless, as the progress of the bill could, at any time, be delayed until the objects of the mover were attained; but, although this truth was admitted, the motion was carried that it might be formally entered on the Journals.
Lord Surrey also moved that the late changes in his Majesty's councils were immediately preceded by dangerous reports that his Majesty's sacred name had been unconstitutionally abused, to affect the deliberations of Parliament, and that the appointments made were accompanied by circumstances new and extraordinary, and such as did not conciliate or engage the confidence of the House. A debate of unusual warmth ensued, in which both sides vindicated their own principles and conduct, and impugned those of their opponents without moderation, but without any considerable novelty in argument or fact. An adjournment was moved, in which the ministry were in a minority of fifty-four*, and the Committee was ordered to sit again on the following Wednesday.
Mr. Pitt, having given notice that he should, on Mr. Pitt deli, that day, move for leave to bring in his bill for the message conbetter government of India, was at last allowedt to cerning the
Hessian troops. deliver the message from his Majesty, which related only to the landing of the Hessian troops who had served in America, and who were necessarily lodged in barracks until the relaxation of the frost should render the Weser navigable.
In these triumphant proceedings, the opposition Observations. might hope that they should be able to drive the ministers from their station; but the obstacles were solid and insurmountable. The vigour, tempered by caution and circumspection, displayed by Mr. Pitt; the increasing favour of the public toward him, which made a dissolution so alarming, and the honourable firmness of the King, afforded daily encouragement to one side, and fresh grounds of doubt, and finally of despair, to the other. By misunderstanding these
196 to 142. + It was the last business transacted, and the llouse did not rise till half-past seven in the morning.
14th. Mr. Pitt moves to bring in his India bill.
points, the opposition first injured and finally ruined their cause.
The overbearing contumely with which they treated the minister was not favoured by the public; and the insult offered to the King, by not permitting a message from him to be delivered before other business, according to general usage, made a very unfavourable impression, while it could not be productive of any advantage. It will be proper to pursue this extraordinary contest, almost day by day, to its termination ; as any attempt to arrange all the debates according to the subject on which they turned, would lead only to perplexity and confusion. In fact, the struggle for place was the only object really in view, whatever might be the matter under discussion.
Although he might foresee the fate of his measure, by the numbers, temper, and tone of the opposition, Mr. Pitt moved for leave to bring in his bill for the better government and management of the affairs of the East India Company. He was aware, he said, what triumph he should afford to a certain description of men, when he informed them that the plan he proposed to submit to the House was founded chiefly on resolutions of the proprietors of India stock, and that his ideas in all the great points coincided with theirs. He anticipated the clamour which would take place on this discovery, and the vociferous acclamations of gentlemen ranged behind the right honourable member, whose signals they were always ready to obey, and whose mandates they were always ready to execute; but he was not to be intimidated from undertaking what he conceived to be for the interest of his country. He confessed himself so miserably irresolute, that he could not venture to introduce a bill founded on violence and disfranchisement. He acknowledged himself so weak as to pay respect to chartered rights; and that, in proposing a new system of government and regulation, he did not disdain to consult with those who, having the greatest stake in the matter to be new modelled, were likely to be best capable of giving advice. He then laid down the principles to be followed in his bill. In the first place, the political concerns of
this country in India, that is, the civil and military government, the political establishments, the collection of revenues, and, to give it one short and general definition, the imperial dominion, ought to be placed under other control than that of the Company of Merchants in Leadenhall Street; but the change ought to be made by the conviction of the Company, and not by violence. His next principle was, that the commerce of the Company should be left, as much as possible, to their own superintendence; and he would prevent effects injurious to the constitution of Britain from arising out of the government of India. Having detailed at large the provisions by which he intended to give operation to these principles, he concluded by submitting the measure to the consideration of the House. Mr. Fox immediately expressed his opposition to Mr. Fox;
opposed it. the measure, treating it as the wisdom of an individual opposed to the collective wisdom of the Commons of England in Parliament assembled. He censured the measure, as partial and incomplete, an alleviation, instead of a remedy; just such crude and indigested matter as he had expected; a system founded on secret influence, and which must inevitably terminate in public ruin. Mr. Pitt's motion passed without a division. On the first reading, the bill was much decried by 16th,
First reading. Mr. Fox and Mr. Burke; there was still no division; but, on the second reading, after a series of animated censures by Mr. Fox, Mr. Erskine, and other members, Second readand an eloquent defence by Mr. Pitt, the motion for ing. committing the bill was negatived by a majority of eight only*. It would be useless to recapitulate the Bill rejected. arguments, or commemorate the personalities which occurred in debating a measure which failed so early and so entirely; or to detail personal charges of bribery, corruption, and indirect influence, none of which were adequately supportedt.
# 222 to 214.