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adverted to the peace of Utrecht, and talked of the bugbear which the ministers of that day had set up to frighten the people into a belief that peace was absolutely necessary, namely, the probability of the House of Austria requiring an improper share of power. He alluded also to the circumstances that characterised the history of Holland, and its present situatio!ı and future prospects.
Speaking of the convention with Spain, for carrying into effect the sixth article of the treaty of peace, he said he did not see, nor could he admit the necessity for entering into any such convention: that the article was sufficiently intelligible, and had ever appeared so to him, though he was aware there had been some doubts stated respecting its proper construction: that the country to be evacuated under the convention was a part of the Musquito coast, that never had, before the treaty, been considered as belonging to the crown of Spain ; and that instead of being a mere spot for the cutting of logwood, it was an actual British colony. To oblige the inhabitants and settlers, therefore, to evacuate it by February, would be an act of the most horrible injustice, because it would be to oblige them to quit their possessions before they could reap the fruits of their industry, which must, in that case be left in the ground. Mr. Fox descanted upon this for a considerable time, and asked, for what purpose such a cession could have been made? He should have supposed, he said, that if England had a treaty in hand with the court of Madrid, and a cession to make which that court was desirous of having made to her, it would have been political to have held back the boon that Spain was anxious to obtain, till after the objects of our wishes, as stipulated for in the treaty negociating, were complied with. Possibly, the cession was made before hand, in order to put Spain in a humour to grant us what we wanted with the greater cheerfulness.
After animadverting upon this matter with obvious irony, and touching upon a variety of particular points, to which the treaty with France appeared to him to have a natural and necessary reference, Mr. Fox declared, that he joined most heartily in the congratulation of his majesty, on an event, which nothing but the phrenzy of a lunatic could have induced, and which it became the character of the nation to act upon, exactly as they had done. Having mentioned this in a style that spoke the master of the art of oratory, and intreated the pardon of the House for having taken up so much of their time, which he declared he would not have done had he not thought it necessary to repel the French mode of talking that had fallen from the noble lord who moved, and the ho
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nourable gentleman who seconded the address, and to rescue the nation from being thought liable to such reflections, Mr. Fox concluded with giving an affirmative to the address.
TREATY OF COMMERCE WITH FRANCE:
February 20 ,
M R . Pitt having given notice that it was his intention to move
M that the treaty of navigation and commerce with France be taken into consideration on the 12th instant. Mr. Fox said he thought the day much too early; so much so, that he was amazed that the right honourable gentleman should think of naming it. Lord George Cavendish intimated, that as the treaty was a matter of great importance, in as much as it deranged all our ancient and established treaties of commerce with other countries, a call of the House might be proper. Mr. Pitt replied, that although sincerely anxious to have so important a subject investigated before the fullest assembly possible, yet he believed, from the circumstances of the present suggestion, that he should be justified 'in giving it his negative. In short, he looked upon the suggestion in no other light, but as an artifice to delay the consideration of a subject, on which reason and sound policy required a speedy determination. If a call of the House were really necessary, what excuse could be made by the noble lord, or any of his friends, for having delayed , it so long? Was it, that, until the present moment, they had never considered the French treaty as an object of sufficient im. portance to justify a call of the House? or would they pretend to say, that they had never known, until now, that it was the intention of his majesty's ministers to bring it forward as early in the session as possible? He begged leave to remind the noble lord of the expressions of a right honourable gentleman (Mr. Fox) who sat near him on a former day, “ that the pending treaty had given rise to so many speculations, and had so materially affected the operations of our manufacturers and merchants, that it became highly necessary to bring it to as speedy a conclusion as possible, in order to put an end to that suspense which its present unfinished state must necessarily give rise to, and a continuance of which must be highly detrimental to the interests of those concerned,”
: Mr. Fox rose with great warmth to declare, that he never would consent that the House was to neglect its duty to the country, and go precipitately into the consideration of a measure of great national importance, because any set of men whatever, however respectable their characters, however numerous their description, had thought proper to run before the sanction of parliament, and enter into speculations which they were by no means warranted to risque engaging in. The right honourable gentleman had alluded to what had fallen from him on a former day, as if he had called for a precipitate and hasty discussion of thetreaty; whereas, what he had said, was not that because any set of men had rashly speculated upon the grounds of the treaty before it had received the sanction of parliament, the deliberation of the House ought therefore to be accelerated, but that whenever the House had deliberated upon it, and passed a vote of approbation should such a vote pass — it was their indispensable duty to proceed to the carrying it into execution with all possible celerity, in order to realize those speculations, that the vote and sanction of the House might, as it were, have authorised and encouraged. It was the execution and not the deliberation, that he wished to have hastened, and therefore, when the right honourable gentleman thought proper to quote what he had said on any former day, he wished he would be so good as to quote him with something like correctness. It was the characteristic of the right honourable gentleman's administration to be precipitate in deliberation, and lingering in execution. In most of his measures he had been hasty in coming to the decision of a vote, and he had almost as often had occasion to lament, the want of greater deliberation; but he had scarcely ever been equally prompt to carry the vote into execution after it had passed. With regard to the call of the House suggested by his noble friend, he was astonished at the right honourable gentleman's objecting to it. A call of the House had sometimes been vexatiously made, but it had scarcely ever been refused when desired by any member. That it was now in common decency proper, who would be hardy enough to deny? A measure more novel, or more important, had perhaps never come under the consideration of the House. The right honourable gentleman told them himself the measure. was important; the House knew it to be important; the whole country felt it to be important. Would the business, did the right honourable gentleman think, derive a grace in the eyes of foreign courts, from its being there known to have been rashly and precipitately brought on, and that a call of the House, a thing usual in cases of infinitely less magnitude, had been refused ? There was something so ungracious in a refusal, that he was astonished the right honourable gentleman would hazard it.
Mr. Pitt ridiculed the idea of procrastinating the consideration of the treaty, under the specious pretext of more serious delibera
tion. It was in fact only an affectation of deliberation, for it was nothing more than putting off, as long as possible, the time for beginning to deliberate, which, in effect, was the sure way to render their deliberations short and sudden- it was like taking time to deliberate previous to deliberation, and put him in mind of the notion of a man falling down in a fit of apoplexy thinking of nothing.
Mr. Fox replied, that he never had dreamt of arguing in the illogical, nonsensical, and absurd manner that the right honourable gentleman had ascribed to him ; though he was ready to admit, that on a former day the right honourable gentleman had so represented him to have argued; but that misrepresentation had been so ably and so completely corrected and cleared up by two of his honourable friends, (Mr. Francis and Mr. Burke) that he had not thought it necessary on that day to trouble the House with any explanation himself. Indeed, it would have been a bad argument for him to have used, had he urged the necessity of precipitating the deliberation of the commercial treaty with France, in the very same speech in which he was maintaining, that it was impossible for the House to be competent to decide on that treaty, unless they previously had submitted to them, authentic information of the state of our trade with Portugal, as it stood at present, and as it was likely to stand hereafter. With regard to the right honourable gentleman's quibble, that if the day of deliberation was deferred, the House would be in the state of a man, who fell down in a fit of apoplexy, thinking of nothing, in the interval of the delay, he neither thought the sort of allusion very decent to use within those walls, nor was it at all respectful to the House, talking of them generally, to apply such an allusion to them. The right honourable gentleman was welcome to apply such allusions to him personally, but to the rest of the House, a little more decency and respect was due. Did he believe that the House, because they at any time postponed the deliberation of any measure of great national importance, from one day to another, “ thought of nothing” in the interval? Was it a fact, that gentlemen so far lost sight of and neglected their duty, as not to prepare themselves without doors for the discussion of great questions to be decided in parliament ? Many measures were of a nature, to the proper consideration of which, few of the members of that House were competent. Questions of commerce and trade, more especially, were questions, which members of parliament, generally speaking, were not quite so well informed upon as other persons. Before gentlemen, therefore, could make up their minds to the proper vote they ought to give on the treaty, they must inform themselves by conversing with those whose avocations and professions enabled them to be more conversant with commercial subjects. As to the day of deliberation being desired to be procrastinated, it was a necessary procrastination, and not as the right honourable gentleman had called it, 6 an affectation of deliberation, and a mere putting off the day of beginning to discuss the treaty.” What was the day? Perhaps the debate might be of so much length as to be adjourned, and so occupy two days or more. Still it would be but a single debate, and would all be decided by a single vote. Would the right honourable gentleman, therefore, contend, that too much reasonable time could be taken in order to enable gentlemen to examine a question of so much novelty, and such acknowledged importance, before they came ultimately to decide upon it by their vote? If the argument of the right honourable gentleman, that the importance of the question alone was a greater motive to cause a full attendance than any call of the House, were a sound one, upon that principle, all the calls of the House that had hitherto taken place, had been idle and absurd.
Mr. Pitt having moved that the House should resolve itself into a committee on that day sevennight, to take into consideration that part of the king's speech which related to the treaty of navi. gation and commerce with France, Lord George Cavendish said, that thinking that on a discussion so truly important, there should be the fullest possible attendance of the representatives of the people, it was his design to move for a call of the House. He wished to do this in order; but the motion now made by the right honour. able gentleman precluded him. The period was too short for a call. He must therefore move an amendment, by substituting the words, “ this day fortnight” for “this day se'nnight," and then he should follow the motion thus amended by a motion for a call of the House. The Speaker having stated the question,
Mr. Fox rose, and remarked that in consequence of the numerous opportunities which had arisen to confirm his idea, that the disposition of the right honourable the chancellor of the exchequer was sanguine even to excess, he felt a slighter degree of astonishment at discovering that on this, as on other important topics, he should violently urge on the House to the consideration of the treaty. But the same experience which he in common with other members had of the consen quences of rashly falling in with the wishes of the right honourable gentleman in this respect, prevented him from rea