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make that sort of attack on any man, to pretend to say there might be guilt, when he thought there was none; nor should he ever be backward in stating it where he had suspicions. But with regard to the guilt, as it appeared to him in this case, he would state it to the House, as well as what he conceived to be the nature of the accusation. The minister had stated, that the accusation originally made against him upon this subject was, that he held a negociation in concluding the bargain for the loan, that was to be used for the purposes of of corruption, and that it might be made use of to influence the members of that House to vote for him. This was incorrect. No such accusation was ever made against that right honourable gentleman. The original mover of the resolutions now before the House had never imputed that to the minister. He too, had always acquitted the right honourable gentleman of personal corruption; and for this the right honourable gentleman said, he did not thank him. I care not, said Mr. Fox; I claim not his thanks, nor shall I ever complain that I do not receive them. But I accused him then,and I accuse him now, of having made an improvident bargain for the public. Even improvidence, in a minister of finance, Mr. Fox contended to be no small crime; and he could not help saying he was surprised to hear that sort of improvidence stated as a mere peccadillo. What! improvidence in a chancellor of the exchequer, to the vast extent of this loan, a mere peccadillo! It was not so to be called; it was a very serious charge against a minister of this country to say that he had in a transaction of this vast importance made an improvident bargain. The bargain was not improvident merely; it was made under such suspicious circumstances, as the House ought not to be too ready to excuse. But he must protest against the doctrine that no bad motive should be assigned to the minister, if it could not be proved what that motive was. This was against the common order of things, which he conceived in the present instance entitled him to say, that the motive, be it what it might, could not be a good one where the effect was so bad, and the circumstances so suspicious.
The right honourable gentleman had insisted that he was totally exculpated from all attempts to influence, by this loan, the votes of the members of that House. He dared to say that this was true, for he did not see in the present state of the politics of this country, that the right honourable gentleman had any occasion to increase his majority in that House, and therefore, if this loan was made a subject of influence, it must be influence of another kind. The right honourable gentleman, as well as the learned gentleman who opened the debate, had insisted much that the merchants in the city, who were
subscribers to this loan, were not concerned in any way of direct influence; but that was not the charge which he made against the minister. If there was any species of improvidence which it was proper in the House to check rather than another, it was that species which went, not to affix political weakness and political disgrace on the character of the minister, but which tended to procure for him, from great and powerful men, great and powerful support. In the present case, the loan was diffused among a class of men, from whom the minister, even supposing him innocent of any corrupt intention, might derive much more solid advantage than from a few votes in the House of Commons.
The first point in the business to which he would call the attention of the House, was the mode of transacting the loan. The right honourable gentleman had all along been an advocate for free and open competition. He begged leave to dismiss all cavil upon the expression“ free and open competition;" he meant it in the fair and candid sense. But how stood the matter in point of fact with regard to the conduct of the chancellor of the cxchequer ? In 1793, he brought before the House a bargain so extravagant and wasteful to the public, that he attempted to defend it only by stating, that it had been the result of a free and open competition. This proved how much merit the minister thought there was in free and open competition, since he rested his defence in a case so desperate wholly on that circumstance. Why then, he could not help suspecting the fairness of that loan, in which the minister abandoned this mode, and that, too, in a loan as extensive and extrava- gant as any we had ever heard of. This loan, therefore, was as extravagant in point of terms and more objectionable in point of manner, than the loan of 1793; and here he must make an observation, that the right honourable gentleman's exceptions were greater than his rules. For it was not true, that he had in substance followed the principle of public competition in loans; particularly if we looked to quantity instead of number of loans. The last two loans were not made by competition, and in point of quantity they nearly equalled all the others put together; amounting to pretty nearly fifty millions. The minister, therefore, had abandoned the practice, which he extolled in theory, of public competition ; fifty millions had been added to the capital of our debt, and that without a competition in the bidding for the loans. He wanted to know whether, according to the principles of common sense, he was not called upon to say that this loan was an improvident bargain, on the part of the public? And he would ask the House, whether such a man should pass uncensured, merely because it could not be proved what his motives were?
Here Mr. Fox proceeded to take notice of the evidence as printed in the report, and to comment on the various circumstances of that evidence, by which he inferred that a preference was really intended by the minister to be given to Mr. Boyd. At all events, it was extremely material to the honour of his character, fairly to tell when he had the first notice of Mr. Boyd's claims. He had pressed him often for an answer to this question, and never had obtained any specific reply. On this point he thought Mr. Boyd's evidence inconsistent with the right honourable gentleman's declaration. Mr. Boyd said positively, on his examination, that as early as October he preferred his claim to the chancellor of the exchequer, and that the chancellor of the exchequer, being convinced of its justice, came under promise to give him the preference. He was willing to make every allowance for omissions amid the multiplicity of business with which the attention of the right honourable gentleman must necessarily be distracted, but to forget such an important subject as this, admitted neither of palliation nor excuse. Was it nothing, after having come under a positive promise to prefer an individual, to give notice to the governor of the bank of his intention to hold out proposals of public competition, in which he knew at the time it would not be in his power to persevere, and which, in fact, he had been obliged to abandon? And here he would say something upon the claim of Mr. Boyd. If the claim was invalid, it would only vary the degree of guilt; and if it was valid, it was a singular circumstance that it should have been entirely forgotten. It certainly was not a claim founded upon a direct written or verbal agreement: but even though the claim was good, it was not sufficient to stand between him and the public; and though gentlemen were extremely fond of appealing to the governor of the bank, the evidence that he gave before the committee went directly to invalidate his claim. The opinion of Mr. Giles was fortified by fact and justice. For supposing, which he really believed was the case, that it would have been better for the nation to have given the contractors a pecuniary compensation, if the chancellor of the exchequer, or if the country, were bound to the contractors, they were bound to the contributors; and if such a compensation had been granted, it would have been but fair that its advantages should have been extended to the contributors, as well as to the contractors. Supposing, for instance, that 3 or 400,000l. had been voted to Mr. Boyd and his friends for the loss they sustained, the House would certainly have provided that the compensation should extend to all the subscribers as well as to the contractors; for how the country could be bound to the contractor and not to the contributor,
he was at a loss to conceive. It was said that these come under some degree of risk. But how long did it exist ? Only till the deposit was made. What was the nature of the risk ? A risk might be so much that it might be nothing at all. The contractor might sometimes be obliged to hold scrip for a considerable time; but so was the contributor, and the risk on his part was only less, as the contractor had commonly a greater share than the contributor. In justice, then, and the nature of things, there was certainly nothing to authorize the claim. There had been many a loan bargained for in this country; but there had not been a sufficient number of instances to constitute a custom on this head.
Much stress had been laid on the conversation which took place between the chancellor of the exchequer and Mr. Boyd, in 1794. It seemed, the chancellor of the exchequer, in order to hasten the payment of the loan, had said, that the following February would be too late for the last instalment, because it might be necessary to negociate a new loan before that time. This expression of the chancellor of the exchequer was represented as a virtual recognizance of the claim of Mr. Boyd. But it was not necessary to ascribe this conversation to a tenderness for Mr. Boyd's right, when it was much more natural to suppose it proceeded from a concern for the public interest. This casual expression, however, had such an effect upon the mind of the right honourable gentleman, that he could not efface the idea of Mr. Boyd's peremptory right to shut the market against new loans, till the last instalment upon the preceding loan should have been paid. To all this the right honourable gentleman asked, “ Have I shewn any symptoms of partiality to Mr. Boyd ? On the contrary, was it not with the greatest reluctance that I deserted my favourite system, in order to satisfy his claim?”. We have seen reluctance (said Mr. Fox) often used as a veil under which we conceal the commission of acts which we ought not to have committed. With what “ sweet, reluctant, amorous delay,” the right honourable gentleman took leave of his professions I know not. Still, however, he maintained that he kept up some degree of competition. But if he was aware that it was such a competition as to excite contempt, Mr. Fox said he could give it no other character than that of a miserable expedient to cover his determination; and if he had a better opinion of it, why did he abandon it on the opinion of two angry men ? But here occurred a question of moment, respecting the time at which the loan was made. On account of some pressing business in the House of Commons, he could not bring on the budget, but yet he could not put off the loan, but concluded the bargain twelve days before he notified it to parlia
ment; whereas, on former occasions, it used only to be concluded one, two, or three days before the opening of the budget.
From the circumstances of the loan Mr. Fox proceeded to speak of the motives which actuated the negociation. And if it was not allowed to operate as an instrument of corruption, it certainly had some reference to a transaction which took place in September, in which Mr. Boyd raised 2,500,000l. for
government, upon treasury bills, bearing a fictitious date at Hamburgh though drawn here. This transaction Mr. Fox reprobated, on the authority of the governor of the bank of England, as extremely discreditable to government, and as disgraceful to those who set it on foot. When he saw the right honourable gentleman abandon his principles; when he saw him abandon them at the suit of an individual; and when he saw him abandon them in favour of this individual, after being engaged in a discreditable transaction with him, the observation could not but excite some suspicions, and it would require stronger reasons than any that he had adduced to establish his innocence. But, said the right honourable gentleman, this was only a necessary supply, which Mr. Boyd advanced in the most liberal manner for the service of the country, in a time of difficulty, when her resources were exhausted, and when it would have been exceedingly inconvenient to have convened parliament. This representation served only to enhance the favour conferred by Mr. Boyd, and to establish the relation between that transaction and the negociation of the present loan; for to relieve the minister from such difficulties as those, and in which he had involved himself by improvidence or extravagance, was an obligation which would naturally in these circumstances be too highly valued to be easily forgotten. He might have negociated a short loan in September, which would have operated as a present supply till after the holidays; but this could not have been explained to France, nor would it have
have given that power half the idea of our financial superiority which she must necessarily have formed from such a highly-creditable transaction, as raising money by means of fictitious Hamburgh bills!
Mr. Fox adverted to the report, and to that part of it especially which stated the conduct and the evidence of Mr. Morgan, both of which he said, appeared to him to have been natural enough. That gentleman had expressed himself in his evidence consistently. Much had been said, that Mr. Morgan appeared to be angry with the minister on this occasion. Was that unnatural in a man, who felt that he had been insulted with a mockery of competition ? He had lost that which was