Abbildungen der Seite

had at length they saw that it woe the trust re

with the declared consent of the court of directors. The minister had stood upon that compact, had pleaded their approbation as a matter of argument, and it was passed into a law clearly on the ground of compact and consent. But now the right honorable gentleman wished to violate the engagement, and to avoid the ignominy of having broken a solemn bargain.

Upon this occasion, Mr. Sheridan added, that he should beg leave to submit to the feelings of the house, whether what they had seen that day ought not to convince them of the error into which they had fallen, of acting upon confidence? The minister had at length taught them, that to suspect him was their duty, and they saw that it was only by so doing, that they could faithfully discharge the trust reposed in them; for they saw that not being able to accomplish his design, but being detected, he now came forward apparently desirous to receive councel, and to embrace instruction. Mr. Pitt and Mr. Dundas having spoken,

Mr. Sheridan observed, that the right honorable gentleman had given him no answer; and added, that he questioned him about power; but, could get no reply which did not exclusively relate to patronage. He spoke about the constitution, and the right honorable and learned gentleman gave an answer concerning cotton. In short, he positively evaded the request that he would define his own power.

At length the question being put, the house divided; ayes (for bringing up the report) 182 ; noes 115.


EAST-INDIES. Mr. SHERIDAN desired, that he might be permitted earnestly to call upon the house to meet with

jealous and with strict attention the circumstances under which the four new regiments were to be sent to India. In the course of the discussion lately brought forward on the propriety of that measure, it had been stated as the intention, and as part of the system of ministry, to increase the number of king's troops in India. Now he believed it to be a fact, which he should be able to prove, that orders were actually sent out to reduce the establishment of the five regiments already in India, at the very time that it was proposed to send out these four new regiments. Gentlemen might start at the assertion; but he believed the papers he was going to move for would justify what he advanced.

In August, 1787, the directors of the East-India Company had applied for leave to recruit the troops on their own establishment in India, which by law they could not do without His Majesty's permission.' This leave had been withholden, from August to November, until the moment of alarm had arrived; when the directors, unable to recruit their own troops, in consequence of the delay, with that dispatch the einergency seemed to require, were prevailed upon to accept of these regiments. One reason assigned for withholding the permission to recruit the company's troops, was, because they would not consent to have their recruits inspected by one of His Majesty's general officers. If any person had advised His Majesty to insist on having the recruits so inspected; he had advised him to insist on what by law he was not entitled to enforce, even if the company had consented.

The five regiments now in India, when they embarked in March 1783, consisted of one thousand rank and file each, besides the recruiting companies which were left in England. There was no reason for saying that these companies were not fully adequate to the purpose of recruiting the regiments to which they belonged, and of keeping them up to the full establishment on which they had been · VOL. II.

sent out; for they had already sent out seven hundred recruits. And yet, at the very moment of alarm, when the directors, under the idea of sudden emergency, agreed to accept of the four new regiments, orders had been sent out for reducing the five regiments in India to seven hundred privates each, without any reduction of the commissioned officers; and this too, when the minister was disputing with the company, that according to the act of 1781, they must pay two lacks of rupees for each regiment of king's troops in India; whilst the directors contended that they ought to pay only in proportion to the number of effective men in each. Mr. Sheridan .now moved, that there be laid before the house,

“ A copy of the establishment of the several regi. ments of His Majesty's forces on their embarking for the East-Indies, in March 1783, with a copy of the orders given in August, 1787, for the reduction of the establishment of the said regiments.

“ Copies of the last returns of the four regiments destined for the East-Indies ; together with copies of their recruiting orders.

“ A copy of the last application to His Majesty, for his royal licence to recruit the regiments abroad belonging to the East-India company; with the answer thereto.”

The papers were ordered.

MArch II.



Mr. Ladbroke brought in this bill: the same was read a first


Mr. SHERIDAN remarked, that he had consented to the bill being read a first time, because it was really his wish, that the house should have an opportunity to consider the matter fairly, and to understand what was demanded from them. With regard to the petitions for the bill, and the allegations stated by them with respect to the large price paid for the purchase of their shares of the property of Sadlers? Wells, by Messrs. Wroughton and Arnold; if the house could, with any sort of consistency, do any thing to prevent their sustaining a loss, no man in that house would go farther than he would; he wished them to be dealt with as liberally and as handsomely as possible, because he was ready to admit, that the case of Sadlers' Wells stood upon very different grounds indeed from that of the Royalty Theatre, which had lately been before the house. That was a scheme set up upon

false pretences, and supported by a conspiracy of - justices of the peace, to defeat the law, which they

were bound, by their oath, to execute. The present application came forward in a decent manner, and according to the practice he had ever wished to be pursued, when he knew more of what was going on with respect to the theatres than he did at present; having, long since, entrusted his interest in them to the management and care of others in whom he had reason to place confidence. Mr. Sheridan wished such an application to be liberally considered, and that the legal monopolists might not stand on their rights too strictly. He had ever been, and he trusted that he ever should be found, an enemy to any thing like oppression in any matter, great or small; and, on the present occasion, he confessed that the apprehensions of other people interested in the rights, supposed to be attacked by the bill in question, went beyond his own; but it was, however, to be remembered, that those apprehensions related to a property, upon which, taking the two winter theatres only, a sum little short of two hundred thousand pounds had been embarked. He felt it, therefore, his duty to endeavour to protect those rights according to their ideas of the injury they might susțain, and not according to any more indulgent way


of considering the subject, which he might himself have entertained. Mr. Sheridan then proceeded to argue on the nature of the present application. The proprietors of Sadlers' Wells had declared in their case, that the cause of their application for a bill to enable His Majesty to grant them a licence to continue the entertainments of Sadlers' Wells as heretofore, was, that “ the proprietors of the winter theatres had lately instituted suits at law, not only against the last newly erected theatre, but intended to commence suits and prosecutions against all others indiscriminately.” To his own personal knowledge (Mr. Sheridan said that inference was wholly unfounded; and the proprietors of Sadlers? Wells knew it to be groundless;—there was no intention to proceed against them, or to molest them in any. way whatsoever. In another instance also, the case of the proprietors of Sadlers' Wells was fallaciously stated. They told the house that they came there only to ask that they might be legally empowered to continue their performances as usual. That was not the fact; because what they asked for was a monopoly, as appeared clearly from a view and examination of the different parts of their case. There was some degree of unfairness also in their mode of reasoning against others, who stood in a similar predicament. Speaking for themselves, they said, “ that doubts may arise, whether in strict construction of law, their performances might be, strictly and minutely, within the letter of their licence;" but when they spoke of the riding-schools, the Circus, and the new set of competitors, they stated them as performing in defiance of known laws, upon the authority of musical licences only; whereas their own licence contained not a letter of power more than the licences of their adversaries which they reprobated; the only difference being that the one was granted by the Surrey justices, and the other by those of Middlesex. From this it appeared, nay indeed they avowed it, that their ob

« ZurückWeiter »