« ZurückWeiter »
the object of his heart, the loan, and therefore there was nothing wonderful in his anger. Every candid man would agree that some allowance ought to be made for a man irritated by disappointment. Mr. Morgan had said he would have made a bargain for the loan, which would have been better for the public than this. Here was at once, then, the best of all possible evidences, the evidentia rei, that the bargain was an improvident one. Why, it was asked, did Mr. Morgan not bid above Mr. Boyd by his proxy in the House of Commons when the subject was debated, up to the whole amount, which he stated the public to have lost? The answer to this question was plain, and Mr. Morgan had already given it. He did not bid for the public good, but for his own good, and therefore, when he was bidding to the House of Commons when they were called upon to ratify a bad bargain, a sum considerable enough to make that bargain much better for the public, the less he advanced the better for himself, Such was the admission of Mr. Morgan; and he had not the smallest scruple to declare, that he felt as much willingness to believe a man who thus admitted that he wished to take care of his own interest, as he who pretended, in money matters, to have nothing in view but the public good. Here, then, we had a man preferred by the minister, with whom transactions of a very suspicious nature had been carried on, and this
preference had cost the public an immense sum of money. What was he to say on such a case ? What could he say, but that the minister proceeded upon some motive or other that, from the circumstances and the manner of it, had rather the appearance of a bad than a good one; it had certainly operated to the very great detriment of the public at large, and to the ill character of the pecuniary concerns of this country.
Mr. Fox next proceeded to take notice of the different causes, which the minister had assigned for the rise in the price of the funds soon after the loan was contracted for, and declared that he was clearly of opinion, that the king's message, which came to that House on the day after the budget, was the chief cause of that rise. The right honourable gentlemen contended, that the news of the Austrian victories, had a considerable share in promoting the rise. These victories, let it be recollected, were pretty generally known before the 25th of November. The rapid decay of the French finances was assigned as another cause of this political phæno
He begged however to know, whether, after the 25th of November, the French finances had decayed so rapidly, that even the most sanguine calculator found his calculations far short of the truth. He was the more surprised at hearing this language when he recollected that about eight
months ago they were described as being in the agonies of death, in the very gulph of bankruptcy. All arguments respecting the decay of the French finances, he considered as so many childish and contemptible pretences to veil (and a thin veil it was,) the suspicious conduct of the chancellor of the exchequer. When the right honourable gentleman was obliged to have recourse to such pretexts, in his opinion, no accuser could say more against him. He was asked, how he came to calculate upon the average rise of stock, and of course the average premium on the loan from the temporary effect of any particular news ? He replied, that he calculated upon the price of stock, when subscribers made their first deposit, at which period the omnium afforded a clear profit of twelve and a half per cent. He admitted, for argument's sake, that the message might be the natural effect of the minister's comment on the king's speech at the opening of the session; but who did not know that a formal message from the throne carried much greater weight with it than an occasional speech of a minister in parliament? The fall of stock was not to be wondered at, because the public had never seen the message acted upon, and therefore it was but natural that the funds should sink to their former level. The conduct of the commissioners appointed to manage the funds for the liquidation of the national debt, in buying into the four, instead of three per cents., Mr. Fox stated to be another matter deserving the attention of the House; and a due consideration of it would, he said, easily satisfy them, that it was to be regarded as a part of the circumstances, that bore relation to the late improvident bargain with Mr. Boyd. He concluded with maintaining, that the terms of the loan were much more extravagant, not than the country had paid at former times, but in comparison with the terms which might, when the loan was made, have been obtained by free and open competition. He sat down, with giving it as his opinion, that the chancellor of the exchequer had been guilty of a breach of duty, and on that ground he must give his assent to the original resolution.
Mr. Smith's first resolution was rejected, on a division, by 171 against 23 ; after which Mr. Douglas's amendment was agreed to.
MR. CURWEN'S BILL FOR THE REPEAL OF THE GAME
HIS day Mr. Curwen moved, “ That leave be given to bring in
a bill to repeal the acts of the 22d and 23d of Charles II. the 1st of James I. the 4th and 5th of William and Mary, the 5th and 9th of Anne, and the 28th of George II. or such parts thereof, to be particularly specified, as relate to the Preservation of Game; and for substituting other provisions in lieu thereof.” Mr. Buxton was of opinion that game should be made private property. Mr. Windham wished for a modification of the game laws, but upon general principles he felt a very great repugnance to accede to any sudden change in any ancient system.
Mr. Fox said, he hoped that no effectual opposition would be made to the motion of his honourable friend that night, which was only for leave to bring in a bill, hereafter to be discussed. He should not offend the right honourable
gentleman who spoke last, by saying any thing upon the doctrine of natural rights. "But although, on the principle of property, it might not be absolutely unjust to make a distinction between the qualification to kill game and any other qualification, yet, on the principle of congruity and of policy, the game laws were indefensible, for by them it appeared, that a great number of the most opulent part of the people of this country were not permitted to enjoy the luxury of sporting with game. This was obviously incongruous; it would be so in any state, and therefore improper, but much more so in that state under which we had the happiness to live. So much for the consistency of these laws. Was it not true that these laws were ineffectual ? That they were almost universally broken? That there was no place whatever where game was not, or might not be purchased, contrary to these laws ? What was the use of laws to prohibit the sale of game? As long as rich men wanted game, poor men would procure game. not that the result
of the game laws ? Did not that call for a repeal of the game laws ? He would not say that he would never agree to a proposition that made that criminal by law which was not morally considered criminal; yet it was certainly clear, that that law was best kept which declared that to be criminal, which the general feeling and sentiment of mankind regarded as morally criminal. That law would thrive. It would be generally obeyed. It always had been, it always would be, otherwise with a law which prohibited that which
was not considered to involve any moral guilt, and therefore it was to be altered and avoided, and always would be altered and avoided, as much as possible, by every wise legislature.
The question here was, whether the good (if there was any) which was gained by these game laws, was so much as to overbalance the evil they were the cause of? It was said, that gentlemen should have great inducements to live in the country. Certainly they should; it was proper and beneficial ; men of high situation in life and of large fortunes, were, undoubtedly, fit objects of the attention of the legislature in every point of view. He was willing to grant that care should be taken to protect them in the enjoyment even of their amusements. Be it so.
It was, however, his opinion, that the repeal of the game laws would not tend to the diminution of that object; and that ought to go a great way towards the repeal of those laws. He could not say, like an honourable gentleman, that he was quite impartial on the subject, because certainly he indulged in the amusements of sporting as much as his leisure would allow. So did the honourable gentleman who made the present motion. That could not render either of them, from the part they took in this case, the more liable to distrust by those who wanted to protect the game. With respect to the game laws, his opinion was, that there might easily be found a much better system than they were for the protection of the game, supposing the House to have nothing else in view upon the subject. He thought that the better way would be for the House to adopt the idea of an honourable gentleman, (Mr. Buxton,) and make game private property. If he was bound to take his choice out of three cases, either that the laws should remain as they are, be totally repealed, and nothing else, or that game be made private property, he should certainly say, “make game private property.”
If, however, he was compelled to chuse between two questions, whether these laws should remain as they were, or be totally repealed, and nothing else, he should have no difficulty in saying, that they should be all repealed without any thing being substituted in their stead. The greater part of these laws were so arbitrary, the principle which ran through them all was so impregnated with tyranny, that they were entirely unfit to exist as laws in a free state. Such was their principle. The practice arising out of them was equally liable to objection; for the penalties sued for must be solicited by parties who were generally too much affected by animosity to the party against which they sued. Nor was it always quite a clear case that the magistrate who pronounced the conviction was strictly impartial. The whole of the system was, in
fact, a mass of insufferable tyranny, which no gentleman had ever ventured to defend in a direct way. If gentlemen thought proper to assert that the game laws tended to protect the game, he would answer them directly, that they did no such thing. He would ask any person conversant with the subject, whether, in point of fact, where game was preserved, it was not from the law of property, and not from the game laws? He was sure it was owing to the law of property, solely, that game was preserved. Where had game been well preserved, except where the holder of the land was the proprietor of it, and had the right by law to kill game? Had it been so where the holder of the land was not the proprietor, and had not the right to kill game?
He would say again, that the preservation of the game was entirely owing to the proprietors of land, and not to the game laws, and therefore it was the principle of property which protected the game. He spoke confidently upon this subject, and he was glad he spoke in the hearing of many who knew the matter better than he did. But what was the proposition of his honourable friend? Only that a penalty of 51. be imposed on a person who should, after notice, trespass on the land of another, and kill game there. He thought that game should be made private property. That was his opinion. He knew that the prejudices of men were a long time in wearing out, and that was a point that was much to be considered, and great care to be taken of it; for would it be an easy thing to make the public regard game in a field, in the same light as any other property? To conquer that prejudice would require time, and the House might consider of that hereafter. The question, however, here was, whether the House would not agree to bring in a bill, to repeal laws which no man in the House defended in principle? Why not agree, then, to the introduction of the bill, and when it went into a committee, propose some substitutions for the laws ? But although this was his opinion, yet the question, he was willing to confess, was not so pressing or so urgent that the House should not take time to consider it. That the game
laws were really mischievous and created crimes ; that they increased the number of offenders against themselves, and thereby increased the number of persons
who were ready to commit other crimes, could not possibly admit of any doubt. He should hope, therefore, that the bill would be permitted to be brought in and would pass. He was perfectly sure, that the game laws were not good for the preservation of game. It seemed to be agreed that they were bad for that purpose: they could, therefore, be kept only (if they were to be kept) for the sake of the invidious distinction which they established.