Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Treasury, whose province it was to manage managers was necessary, and into the and account for all the expenditures of the other particulars of the expense incurred kingdom.

on account of the trial in WestminsterMr. Pitt replied, that doubtless the ball. The expense was considerable, but lords of the Treasury considered it as a very no expense was unnecessary to obtain the delicate point to take upon themselves to ends of justice. Feeling in that manner, interfere with the managers of the prose the lords of the Treasury had sent a modest cution in a matter which they felt it to be hint to the managers; in answer to which their duty to watch over. It was incum- they had received a letter, that did not bent on thein to look at the current ex- give them any very great expectation of pense, and see that the money issued being able to receive much satisfactory inwas economically applied. He was glad, formation through the channel of such a therefore, that the motion had been made, correspondence. because it would put the matter on its true Mr. Burke said, that as he had been acissue between the managers and the trea- cused of using very improper language, sury, who had not the proper papers upon the right hon. gentleman ought to have the subject before them, and without had personal information of the fact, to which it would be impossible for them to which he had spoken, and not ventured an discharge their duty; but, in order that assertion respecting a matter which he the House might know, that they had not bad at second-hand. The right hon. genbeen unmindful of the subject, as soon as tleman had alluded to what he supposed the sums that had been issued, amounted to have passed, in a place where he seldom to any thing like a size, that appeared ex- or ever made his appearance; but it was traordinary, (he was far from meaning to the curse of the right hon, gentleman's sitinsinuate that they were larger than was uation, to be surrounded with whisperers necessary,) they had sent a letter to the and tale-bearers, and to take up matters managers, couched in as decent and res. as they were conveyed to his ears by such pectful terms as possible, and modestly reporters. Had the right hon. gentleman intimating, what, in their opinion, ought been present at the place in question more be done; but as the answer they received frequently, he would have known that all to that letter, did not give them any great the reports, like that which he had relied on, hopes of being able to derive the necessary were mere calumnies, and then he would satisfaction from the managers, he was not have exposed himself to the contradicglad that means had been resorted to, which tion he had received. With regard to the would produce it in the way the most satis expenses incurred by the prosecution, no factory.

expense could scarcely be too great for Mr. Burke did not object to the motion, the obtainment of justice; but if what the but with regard to what the right hon. right hon. gentleman had 'termed a modest gentleman had suggested relative to the hint was meant as taking up the expense, letterwhich he had written to the Treasury, with a view to put an end to the trial, the by order of the committee of managers, right hon. gentleman should find that the he positively asserted that it was not true. managers were determined not to abandon

Mx Pitt said, that the right hon. gentle. the business. If they were refused every man, perhaps, from being accustomed to expense, they would still go on, and per. use an extraordinary licence of speech severe till they brought it fairly to its conelsewhere, showed himself so much the clusion. Mr. Burke said, he was ashamed slave of habit and practice, that he forgot that so paltry a consideration as the exthe place where he was, and seemed de- pense amounted to, should be talked of, sirous of introducing that habit and prac- when the great importance of the subject, tice within those walls; for, it was scarcely and the deep interests that were involved possible in any other way to account for in it, were the points in question. The the style of his expression in the few words money that had been stolen from India he had uttered. He would not, however, had not yet been employed in bringing the dwell on that circumstance, nor should robbers to light and to justice. Their jusany impropriety in that House prevent tice at home ought to bear something like him from doing his duty, and saying what a proportion to their injustice abroad. ever a sense of that duty dictated. The For their part, the managers would be House had, undoubtedly, a right to ask found steady to their trust. If there should whether the number of persons employed be any desirous of going out of the straight in consequence of the direction of the path, and turning from the right to the

left, the Committee would not be found | prevailed without doors, as appeared from among the number; they would not pre- the language of the different petitions. It varicate, but uniformly adhere to the prin- had been almost generally conceived that ciples of justice. With regard to the ser the African Trade ought to be put a stop vices ordered, as managers acting under to; yet others had regarded it as only standthe authority of the House, they had ani ing in need of some new regulations; but undoubted right to order such as were in all had agreed that it ought not to remain their judgments necessary; but if the under its present predicament. All the House, upon examination, should give an circumstances of it in point of fact, and other judgment, and think they were un- the consequences that would necessarily necessary, where, under such a circum result from any measure that might be stance, would rest the responsibility ? Un adopted, would, without doubt, call for doubtedly, with the House, and not with much consideration and discussion; but the managers. Mr. Burke look notice of what these circumstances were, and what Mr. Pitt's having said, he was glad that those consequences were likely to prove, the motion had been made, and commen- were, in his opinion, unfit topics for imted on that expression coming from a mediate discussion, as the advanced period right hon. gentleman who had voted with of the session, and the want of proper mathe majority of tliat House, in carrying terials for the full information of the . the Impeachment up to the House of House, would render it almost impossible Lords. The present motion could only to go at present diffusely into the examinhave been made by those who had uni. ation. The subject had better be discusformly opposed the trying of Mr. Hastings sed when it miglit produce, some-useful. at all. What construction ought to be debate, and when the inquiry instituted by put on the conduct of a gentleman who his Majesty's ministers elsewhere should be had voted for a prosecution, and who now brought to such a state of maturity as that declared himself glad that a motion was the result of it might be laid before the made hostile to that prosecution ? With | House, in order to enable them to pro. regard to any improper expression of his ceed to a decision founded on principles when the dispute was about a fact and not of humanity, justice, and sound policy. an argument, the shortest and most direct As there was not a probability of reaching reply, was, in his opinion, the best. When so desirable an end in the state of the the papers came, the House would see business as it then stood, he meant to whether he had any apology to make move a resolution, pledging the House to ur not.

proceed to the discussion early next sesThe motion was agreed to After sion. A notice had been given early in which it was ordered, on the motion of the the present session by an hon. friend of marquis of Graham, “ That there be laid his (Mr. Wilberforce) who was prevented before this House a copy of the correspon- from attending his duty there by severe dence that has passed between the Lords indisposition. As in the hands of his hon.

Commissioners of his Majesty's Treasury, friend every measure of humanity and • and the managers appointed to make good national interest, was most likely to be

the articles of impeachment against War- advantageously placed, he hoped that his ren Hastings, esq. relating to the money hon friend would be able at the opening expended on account of the said prose of the ensuing session, to resume his cution.”

charge, and bring the subject forward;

but should his hon, friend not be suffiDebate in the Commons respecting the ciently recovered to be able to attend, he Slave Trade. Mr. Pilt said, that he rose for pledged himself to bring forward some the purpose of moving a resolution relative proposition himself upon the subject. to the Slave Trade-a subject which, it The House would observe, that he had stuwas evident from the great number and diously avoided giving any opinion, or even variety of petitions presented to that House glancing at any opinion that he might be respecting it, had engaged the public at. | supposed to entertain respecting it; and, tention to a very considerable extent, and as it was not possible to go into the discusconsequently deserved the most serious sion then, he thought it much wiser not to notice of that House. But, whatever was broach an opinion till the moment of disa done on such a subject, every gentleman cussion should arrive.--The titles of the must agree, ought to be done with the several petitions being then read, Mr. Pitt maturest deliberation. Two opinions had concluded with' moving: “ That this

House will, early in the next session of privy council, that could not much more parliament, proceed to take into consi- advantageously have been obtained by that deration the circumstances of the Slave | House, had they themselves instituted an Trade, complained of in the said petitions, ( inquiry. It was their duty to advise the and what may be fit to be done thereupon.” King, and not to ask his advice. This the · Mr. For declared, that what the right constitution had laid down as one of its hon. gentleman had said laid him under most essential principles ; and though in very considerable embarrassment. He the present instance, he saw no cause for had himself considered the subject very blame, because he was persuaded his Ma. minutely, and it had been his intention to jesty's ministers had not acted with any have brought something forward in that ill intention, it was a principle that ought House respecting it; but when he heard never to be departed from, because it never that an hon. gentleman, one of the mem- could be departed from without establishbers for Yorkshire, had resolved to take ing a precedent that might lead to very it up, he was unaffectedly rejoiced, not serious abuse. He lamented that the only knowing that gentleman's purity of privy council, who had received no petiprinciples and sincere love for the rights tions from the people on the subject, of humanity, but because, from a variety should have instituted an inquiry, and that of considerations as to the characters and the House of Commons, the table of which situations in which different men stood had been loaded with petitions from all in that House, there was something that parts of the kingdom, should not have made him honestly think it was better that instituted any inquiry at all. He hoped the business should be in the hands of the those petitions would have a fair discussion hon. gentleman than in his, and that it in that House, independent of any inforwas much more likely to come from the mation that could be given the House by hon. gentleman with more weight, more his Majesty's ministers. He could not, -authority, and more probability of success therefore, help lamenting that the subject than it could from himself. Having had not been brought forward earlier: premised this, Mr. Fox said, that as so when he said this, he was aware that the many petitions, and those signed by such hon. member who had undertaken it, was numbers of persons of the most respectable rendered incapable of attending the House; character, had been presented, he was ex- / and he was also aware how unpleasant it tremely sorry that it had been found im- I must be for any one of that ho

must be for any one of that hon. gentlepossible that the subject of them should be man's friends to have come forward, and taken up this year. He certainly could answered for him, by saying that his health not impute it as a matter of blame, that was such that he would not be able to the case bad not been otherwise, and la. attend during that session. It was cermented, as every gentleman must do, the tainly a very delicate thing to do, and , absence of the hon. gentleman who had what no gentleman could easily bring undertaken to bring it forward, and still himself, on any occasion, to stand up and more the cause of that absence. The declare. He did not, therefore,. impute right hon. gentleman had said, he thought blame any where on account of the delay, there were circumstances that might hap- but he certainly lamented it extremely. pen by the next year, that would make it | A right hon, gentleman, every way compemore advisable and advantageous to take tent, had said that it was to be brought it up then, than it would have been to forward in the course of the next session enter upon it in the present session. In of parliament; and if his hon. friend could answer to this he must declare, it was his not then attend, he stood pledged to proopioion, that no such circumstance.could pose it himself. Surely it was somewhat happen.-From one part of the right hon. strange that the right hon. gentleman had gentleman's speech, he presumed it was the not given the House his sentiments on inquiry into the subject that had been in the subject, and the general view in which stituted by the lords of his Majesty's privy he meant to take it up. It was not a subcouncil that was alluded to, as the source ject that was new, and on which gentlemen to which that House was to look up for had formed, no opinion; on the contrary, some necessary information. , ' To the jus- it was one on which most men had formed tice and propriety of that proposition he some opinion or other. He wondered, must give a flat denial; because there could therefore, the right hon. gentleman had be no information laid before that House, not hinted what his opinion was. Had through the medium of the lords of the his hon, friend been able to have come to (VOL. XXVII.]

112 K]

the House, and proposed postponing the parliamentary proceedings of Great Britain business till next session, they would have the envy and admiration of the world. An derived another advantage from his pre- inquiry there was better than an inquiry in sence, because the hon. gentleman would any other place, however respectable the doubtless have stated to the House in what persons, before and by whom it was carried view he saw the subject, and in a general on. There, all that could be said for or way described the nature of the project he against the abolition of the African Slave meant to propose next session. The opi- | Trade might be uttered. In that House nion of the right hon. gentleman opposite every relative fact would have been proto him, Mr. Fox said, he understood prima duced, no information would have been facie, to be the same as his own. But withholden, no circumstance would have what his intention was, they knew not; | been omitted that was necessary for eluwith what view, and for what object becidation, nothing would have been kept meant to bring the subject forward, he back. There were some objects of inquiry had left them completely in the dark.-- | fitter for the privy council to investigate; The right hon. gentleman was pleased to 1 but there was no public question so fit for observe, that it had been a very general them as for that House to inquire into; opinion that the African Slave Trade should and the present was a question of public be put a stop to. Again, he had said, that importance, and therefore peculiarly proothers had not gone so far, but had given per for investigation before that popular asit as their opinion, that it required to be sembly. Mr. Fox said, he did not know revised and regulated. Mr. Fox said, he any political question that could be consihad no scruple to declare, in the onset, dered in the abstract, or without a refethat his opinion of this momentous business rence to the circumstances of the country. was, that the Slave Trade ought not to be He declared he took up the present regulated, but destroyed. To this opinion subject from principles not only of jushis mind was pretty nearly made up, and tice and humanity, but from an investihe was persuaded, that the more the subject gation of those principles, and a consewas considered, the more his opinion quent conviction that there could be no would gain ground; and it would be ad regulation founded in those principles that mitted that to consider the subject in any would prove injurious to mere political other manner, and on any other principles considerations. Those mistaken men, than those of humanity and justice, was therefore, who, led away by the delusive idle and absurd. If there were any such ideas of self-interest, thought otherwise, men, and he did not know but there were had only to hear the case fairly argued, those, who, led away by local and interest- to lead them to subscribe to the propriety ed considerations, thought the Slave Trade of the maxim he had stated, and to own might still continue under certain modifi- its truth in spite of the fallacies of those cations, those men were the dupes of error, who argued from cold policy, and for what and mistook what they thought their in- they called the prosperity of the country. terest, for what he would undertake to Mr. Pitt declared, that nothing he had convince them was not their interest ;- heard convinced him of the propriety of since nothing could be the true interest of departing from the rule he had laid down any description of men that revolted against for himself, of studiously avoiding to offer the principles of justice and humanity.- any opinion on the subject, till the time He said he would not oppose the question, should arrive when it could be fully argued. if other members thought it was best The subject was broad and extensive, and to let the consideration, important and ought to be examined in every point of pressing as it was, stand over to the next view. It would have been utterly impossession; but he should have thought it sible to have come to any discussion of the still better if it had been brought on then. subject which could have been brought to He again enumerated the superior advan-, a conclusion in the course of the present tages of an inquiry into such a subject, session. Did the inquiry before the privy carried on within those walls over an in- council, then, amount to a loss of time? quiry carried on before the lords of the so far from it, that, on the whole, time had council. In inquiries carried on in that been gained. He had moved the resoluHouse, they had the benefit of every cir- tion, therefore, to pledge the House to cumstance of publicity, which was a most bring on the discussion early in the next material benefit indeed, and which of all session, when they would have a full opothers made the manner of conducting the portunity of considering every part of the subject; first, whether the whole of the stead of consulting that House, and giv Trade ought to be abolished, and, if so, ing them the opportunity of exercising how and when? If it should be thought their functions of deliberation and legis. that the Trade should only be put under lation, would modify the measures of gocertain regulations; what those regulations vernnient elsewhere, and bring down the ought to be, and when they should take | edicts of the privy council to the House place? These were questions that must be to register. He was one of those who considered; and therefore he had made wished for the abolition of the Slave Trade. his resolution as wide as possible.

He thought it ought to be abolished on Lord Penrhyn said, there were two de principles of humanity and justice. If, scriptions of men, one, those who where however, opposition of interests should concerned in the African trade; the other, render its total abolition impossible, it the planters, whose characters had been ought to be regulated, and that immeblackened, and whose conduct had been diately. The House need not send to grossly calumniated; both wished anxi- the West Indies to know the opinions of ously that an inquiry might be instituted, the planters on the subject; they were to conscious that the more their conduct was consider first of all, and abstracted from examined, the less they would be found to all political, personal, and local considemerit the opprobrium with which they had rations, that the Slave Trade was directly been loaded. The charges against the contrary to the interests of humanity; and Slave Trade were either true or false. If that the state of slavery, however mitigatrue, the Trade ought to be abolished; ifted, was a state so improper, so degrading, false, justice ought to be done to the and so ruinous to the feelings and capacicharacters of those who were concerned ties of human nature, that it ought not in it.

to be suffered to exist. Protraction might Mr. Burke remarked, that the noble lord raise hopes in the unfortunate people, being a man of justice himself, had rea- whose freedom they were anxious to resoned according to the dictates of his mind, store, that might produce infinite mischief, and, conscious of bis own integrity, was if suffered to remain long ungratified. very naturally led to imagine, that other They ought, therefore, as soon as possible, men were equally just and honourable. / to go into an investigation of the subject, Undoubtedly, the African merchants and as well for the sake of the planters as the planters had a right to call for an investi- slaves, to prevent the dangers that might gation of their conduct, and their doing result from protraction, and in order to so, did them great credit. The Slave allay the hopes and fears that might have Trade ought to be inquired into; it ought | been excited on the one hand, or enterto be fully and maturely considered; but tained on the other. he agreed with the Chancellor of the Ex Mr. Gascoyne had no objection to the dischequer, that the subject could not be dis cussion standing over to the next session, cussed this session, and that it was right provided it could not come on in the prethat ministers should inquire into its merits. sent, because he was persuaded that his His Majesty's ministers had done their duty, constituents, who were more immediately while that House, who had the petitions concerned in the Trade, were men of such of the people on their table, had deferred respectable characters, that they were an inquiry. If that House wished to pre | above the reach of calumny, and might serve their functions, their understandings, despise any imputation that ill-founded their honour, and their dignity, he advised prejudice could cast upon them. Genthem to beware of committees of the privy tlemen might have observed, that not a council. If they suffered the business of single petition had been presented to the the House to be done by such committees, House against the measure, which the they were abdicating their trust and cha- numerous petitioners, whose petitions had racter, and making way for an entire aboli- been received, prayed for. He thought tion of their functions, which they were it necessary to inform the House, that he parting with one after another. Thus had long since received three petitions “star after star goes out, and all is night.” against it; but upon consulting his MajesIf that House neglected the petitions of ty's ministers, it had been deemed most adits constituents, that House must be abo visable not to present them to the House, lished, and the privy council substituted but to refer them to the privy council, who in its stead. What would prove the con- had the subject under their consideration, sequence? His Majesty's ministers, in- and who, he hoped, would print their re

« ZurückWeiter »