Abbildungen der Seite

that whenever a new loan should hereafter be made, the minister should come forward, and not only propose taxes that were efficacious and productive to pay the interest of the loan, but also sufficient to make good to the sinking fund, what should have been taken from it, and likewise to empower the commissioners to accept the loan, or so much of it as they should have cash, belonging to the public, in their hands to pay for. Mr. Fox explained this latter part of his object by stating, that he meant that if, when a new loan of six million was proposed, there should be one million in the hands of the commissioners, in such case the commissioners should take a million of the loan, and the bonus or douceur upon that million should be received by them for the public; so that in fact the public would only have five million to borrow. Having expatiated for some little time on the benefit and advantages that would accrue to the public from this plan, and stated that he had shewn his proposed clause to the right honourable the chancellor of the exchequer, who approved it, and thought exactly as he did on the subject, and that the bill so amended would be a good precept to posterity to follow up in example, Mr. Fox brought up the clause empowering the commissioners, in case of a new loan, to take as much of it on behalf of the public, as they had money in their hands to satisfy.

The clause was received by Mr. Pitt with the strongest marks of approbation. The bill was read a third time on the 15th of May, and carried up to the Lords, where it also passed without meeting with any material opposition.


April 6th. M R . Gilbert reported from the committee of supply the follow

IV ing resolution, “ That a sum not exceeding 30,000l. be granted to his majesty, to discharge the arrears and debts due and owing upon the civil list, on the 5th of January 1786."

Mr. Fox remarked, that although he did not entertain the most distant idea of discountenancing any grant in favour of his majesty, he could not forbear to express his astonishment at finding a demand of that kind made by the crown after the promise contained in the speech from the throne, at the beginning of the session of 1782, that there should in future be no exceeding in that department; the words of which promise were as explicit as words could possibly be; and ran thus: 6 I have carried into execution the several reductions of my civil list expences, directed by an act of the last session. I have introduced a farther reform into other departments, and suppressed several sinecure places in them. I have by this means so regulated my establishments, that my expence shall not in future exceed my income.” These words were a part of the speech at the opening of the first session after a noble earl (of Shelburne) was first lord of the treasury, and the right honourable gentleman opposite to him chancellor of the exchequer; and it was evident from the subject of the motion then before the House, that the promise contained in them had not been performed; so that either his majesty's ministers had advised him to make a promise to parliament which it was impossible for him to keep; or they had advised him to break a promise which he might have adhered to; either of which actions were highly criminal. - He said he could not avoid touching on a subject which he understood had been mentioned the day before the establishment of his royal highness the Prince of Wales; and he professed that it was not so much from motives of gratitude for the confidence and condescension with which his royal highness honoured him, nor from the affection which he bore him for his many amiable qualities, but because he really thought it highly necessary for the honour of the crown and the advantage of the nation, that the heir-apparent should be enabled to live in splendor and in ease: for there could be no friend to the monarchical part of our constitution, who did not wish to make a full provision for supporting the dignity of a person so nearly connected with the monarchy. In the reign of George I. although the civil list at that time was only 700,oool. a year, 100,oool. of it was allowed to the Prince of Wales, afterwards George II.; and yet, now that the civil list was so considerably increased as to amount to 900,oool. a year, besides an additional aid of 50,00ol. in amount at least, arising from the salaries of the offices suppressed by the bill of his right honourable friend (Mr. Burke) falling in, the income of the Prince of Wales was only 50,00ol. If his majesty could not make 950,00ol. cover his expences, how could it be expected that his royal highness the Prince of Wales could live upon 50,0001, ? His royal highness's household establishment was more expensive, compared with his contracted income, than that of his majesty, compared with the large amount of the civil list, and the other sums which came in aid of it; 50,000l. was, he confessed, equal to the establishment first granted to Frederick Prince of Wales; but that prince's establishment was known to be extremely inadequate, and was therefore afterwards increased: and, besides, the expence of living had risen considerably since that time. He knew no proper method of bringing the business before the House, except by message from the crown, and he earnestly hoped ministers would advise his majesty accordingly. If they did not, he should himself venture to introduce the business previous to the rising of parliament.

The resolution was agreed to by the House.




n N the 4th of April Mr. Burke, in his place, charged Warren

Hastings, esq. the late governor general of Bengal, with sundry high crimes and misdemeanors, and delivered at the table the nine first articles of his charge, and the rest in the course of the following week, amounting in all to twenty two in number. On the 26th Mr. Hastings requested by petition to the House to be permitted to be heard in his defence to the several articles, and that he might be allowed a copy of the same. Mr. Burke declared his wish that every reasonable degree of indulgence should be shewn to Mr. Hastings: he should therefore readily consent to his being heard in his defence, though he did not think it quite agreeable to the regularity of their proceeding, that he should be heard in the present stage of it. With respect to a copy of the charges, he believed there was no precedent of such an indulgence being granted. It was well known that it was his original intention to have gone through the whole of his evidence before he delivered in his articles, and to let the charge grow out of the evidence; but the House, in its wisdom, had thought proper to vote a different mode of proceeding, and to direct that the charges should be first made; and that he should then proceed to substantiate them by evidence. Hence he had been under the neces. sity of new arranging his plan, and of making his charges as comprehensive as possible, taking in and stating every thing with which private information could furnish him. In their present form they were to be considered merely as a general collection of accusatory facts, intermixed with a variety of collateral matter, both of fact and reasoning, necessary for their elucidation ; and the committee to which they were to be referred would necessarily find occasion to alter them materially. For this reason also he thought it would be highly improper to give a copy of them, in the present stage of the business, to Mr. Hastings...

Mr. Fox observed, that the charges before the House were not articulated charges, but merely general collections of accusatory facts, out of which the real charges were to be extracted, and every body knew, that even after the House had decided upon those real charges, articles short, specific, and pointed, were to be drawn up and sent to the House of Lords, as the grounds of impeachment. Unless'a precedent could be adduced, to prove that under such peculiar circumstances copies of charges had been granted by that House to a party accused, he should be of opinion that the House could not grant charges, loosely drawn, and which the committee, to whom they were to be referred, would necessarily alter materially.

Mr. Pitt was willing to admit that the charges contained criminal matter, and such as it was highly incumbent on the House to investigate and bring to a most strict enquiry; but still they were so filled with aggravations and unconnected details; they were so confused and complicated, so irrelevant, and in many places so unintelligible, that he thought it absolutely impossible for the House at large to be able to separate accurately and distinctly those parts which were worthy of attention, from such as were entirely foreign from the main design.

Mr. Fox remarked, that it could only be from want of leisure that the right honourable gentleman had not been able to understand the charges laid upon the table by his right honourable friend. He believed no other man in that House, who had looked into them ever so slightly, would rise and say he did not understand them. Those without doors, as well as those within, who had read them, would not deny that they were perfectly intelligible, however explanatory — for explanatory they necessarily must be. With regard to their not being relevant, he expected it would not be denied him, that the charges in their present cast and form contained much matter of criminal offence. That was all that was necessary, because it was sufficient for the committee to whom they were referred, to report that ; and then it became the duty of the House to draw out the criminal parts and shape them into articles, as fit grounds of impeachment to be presented to the House of Lords. Whatever alteration might appear necessary, was matter for subsequent consideration. He described the difficulties his right honourable friend had experienced in his progress to that. stage of

proceeding His right he new modehe other sidopted it; stills

the business, and said, that no man with less abilities than those of his right honourable friend could have surmounted them. As soon as he had brought the business in one shape, it was stated by the other side of the House, that the form of proceeding was wrong, and that another form must be adopted. His right honourable friend thereupon accommodated himself to the new mode, and followed it. The next time the business came on, the other side changed it again, and again his right honourable friend adopted it; still new modes were proposed, new delays invented, new artifices played off to retard, impede, and embarrass. But the House and the public must see through the whole. The right honourable gentleman opposite to him had admitted that the charges bore on their face and in their body, much matter of heinous offence, but he chose to complain of confusion and irrelevancy, and had gone the length of stating that they were in some parts utterly unintelligible. Why were these complaints urged ? Because the guilt imputed was clearly understood;' because it was felt; because its impression could not be concealed. In spite of every objection conjured up for the sake of disguising the real effect of the charges, the criminal matter stood prominent and could not be denied. Some people pretended not to understand the charges, because they understood them too well! They pretended to see no guilt in them, because they saw too much!

them, bechem too welerstand the char,

The question was at length put and carried.

June 1. The House having resolved itself into a committee of the whole House to consider further of the several articles of charge of high crimes and misdemeanors against Warren Hastings, esq. late governor general of Bengal, Mr. Burke brought forward the Rohilla charge, and moved the following resolution thereupon : " That the committee having considered the said article, and examined evidence on the same, are of opinion that there are grounds sufficient to charge Warren Hastings with high crimes and misdemeanors upon the matter of the said article." Mr. Burke introduced his motion with a solemn invocation of the justice of the House, which he said was particularly due, as well to the people of Great Britain, because the national credit and character were deeply involved, and implicated in the issue of the business about to be brought before them, as for the sake of their own honour and dignity. He described with great force the nature of the question to be decided ; declaring emphatically, that it was an appeal from British power to British justice. The charge, he said, must either condemn the accuser or the accused; there was no medium. The result must be, that Warren Hastings, esq. had been guilty of gross, enormous, and flagitious crimes; or, that he

« ZurückWeiter »