Abbildungen der Seite

repelled with equal eloquence and ability. Whatever there had been of servility and corruptness in Lord North's administration, the honorable and learned gentleman, over the way, might best learn by enquiring of those about him. Evident it must be, no part of those base passions was imputable to such friends of Lord North, as sat on the side of the house on which he stood. They had been · put to the severest test; and to their eternal honor, they had evinced their steadiness, and truth, in the hour of the severest trial! When the ends of servility and corruption were impossible to be answered, they had most manifested their affection to Lord North's person; and their consciousness that whatever there might be of servility and corruption among his adherents, he was himself a stranger to the existence of either; and instead of meanly deserting his party, when he was unfortunately least capable of appearing as its leader; their attachment, so far from diminishing, strength. ened with his infirmities, and grew with his decay. Had it been possible (but he knew he was putting an impossible case) for those friends of Lord North to have remained silent, when he was attacked so illiberally and unfairly as he had been that day, not only when he was absent, but when the very cause of that absence would have operated on the mind of every man who made the slightest pretensions to either taste or feeling, to have made him abstain from any thing which wore the appearance even, of severity of animadversion on the conduct of a minister, who, it ought to be remembered, had never denied his responsibility, nor desired to shun enquiry. Those who thought proper to act so unwarrantably, might rest assured, that there were enough of those whom the noble lord had connected himself with, who would stand up in his defence, and shield his character from those unjust aspersions which were so extremely illiberal. Mr. Sheridan replied to the remark of Mr. Hardinge, upon his

having termed the clamor, occasioned by the gross misrepresentations of his right honorable friend's bill, which had gone forth, a senseless yell; and, in answer to the insinuation that he had any where declared, that he had advised his right honorable friend against the measure ; he begged leave to deny having ever given such advice. He had differed with his right honorable friend as to the mode of doing it; but as to the measure itself, he had ever considered it as wise and manly; such as the nature of the case, and the necessity of it absolutely required; having been uniformly of opinion, that his right honorable friend would bave acted inconsistently and idly, had he not gone the full length of the evils to be remedied. He declared, that the bill then before the house, had sufficiently established the propriety of his right honorable friend's bill, and proved the folly of the clamor that had been set up against it. Mr. Sheridan observed, that an honorable and learned friend (Mr. Scott) had quoted some books, wbich he himself had stated to be bad authorities, to prove that his honorable friend had said in 1783, what he had never uttered. Such books certainly were not to be relied on with any great degree of confidence; but there was to be found in those very books, a report of part of a speech of the honorable and learned gentleman, in support of the veracity of which his recollection bore testimony, as he could declare, upon his honor, he well remembered it to have happened as it was there stated; viz. that when the idea, of its being the design of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to dissolve the parliament, had been in discussion in that house, the honorable and learned gentleman had stood up, and assured the house, that the right honorable gentleman had no such unconstitutional purpose (as he had termed it) in view ; pledging himself to be the first man to come forward and move an impeachment, if the right honorable gentleman should take a step of such a nature. The step, they all knew, had been taken ; and it was equally well known, that the honorable and learned gentleman had not moved the impeachment. He well remembered the arguments urged at the bar of the house, with so much eloquence, by the honorable and learned gentleman, who had that day attacked the bill of his right honorable friend. He well remembered, also, a quotation, which the honorable and learned gentleman had applied in the course of bis argument, and which at the time had made a great impression on the house. Had not the honorable and learned gentleman been in parliament, and had he been employed on this occasion as counsel for the EastIndia Company, he would doubtless have used the same argument, and the same quotation as the latter, with peculiar force, applied to the right honorable gentleman, who had introduced the bill then upon the table. Mr. Sheridan here read the quotation, and then added, that as the honorable and learned gentleman, and many others on the same side of the house, had spoken in terms of great reprobation and severity of his right honorable friend's bill, he had a right to contend, that they well knew it did not deserve what they had said of it; or that if they thought it did deserve what they said of it, they had by their actions and their conduct contradicted their sentiments. Mr. Sheridan explained this by asking, if the majority of that house really thought his right honorable friend, himself, and all their friends, men of such principles as they ascribed to the authors and supporters of Mr. Fox's East-India bill; it was likely that they would since have raised them to a rank of such exaltation and honor, of such high trust and confidence, as to have entrusted them with the conduct and management of a cause, in which the glory and fame of the nation, the honor of His Majesty, and the lustre of his crown, the dignity of both houses of parliament, and the justice of the legis.

and mana of the nation, wn, the dignity the legis. lature, were deeply interested and involved? Would the house have honored them with so extraordinary, so delicate, and so distinguished a mark of their confidence, if they had been enemies to the constitution-violaters of the law-and persons who treated the private rights of individuals with levity and indifference. The reverse must be the fact; and to assert otherwise would be to libel the house of commons, and vilify it in the grossest manner. In that trust, his right honorable friend, and all who shared the trust with them, possessed the highest power, and the most dignified patronage; they had the power of retrieving the national character, and establishing, beyond all question, its title to be considered as the impartial dispenser of justice; they held the patronage of protecting the innocent,-of punishing the guilty! An office of the highest honour had thus been bestowed on his right honorable friend, an office of a far different nature, and more congenial to his feelings, than that which had been bestowed on the right honorable gentleman opposite to him. To use influence and prostitute power was as suitable to the temper of the one, as to do justice and avenge the injured, was congenial to the sentiments of the other. Long, therefore, might his right honorable friend continue so employed, a stranger to courts and all their vicious delusions.

The house afterwards divided on the motion, That this bill be engrossed,ayes 210; noes 122.



The order of the day being moved for the third reading of this bill. Mr. Hussey objected to that part of the clause which respected the new corps of military artificers. Mr. Pitt reminded the house that the question now before them was, whether the bill should be read a third time ; 'when that was done, then would be the proper season for the honorable member to come forward with any motian he might have to propose relative to the corps of military artificers.

: Mr. SHERIDAN considered the clause as involve ing a very important constitutional question, and therefore he wished it to be postponed until the morrow, that gentlemen might have an opportunity of considering it with that attentive deliberation which it really merited. The question put by the honorable gentleman (Mr. Hussey) whether the artificers had yet been enlisted and attested as soldiers, had not been answered. And, as he conceived that it was very material to the discussion of the clause in dispute, he trusted that some gentleman on the other side of the house would condescend to reply to it.

The question having been put and carried, that the bill be read a third time, the Speaker informed the house that it was now the time to move any amendment on the bill. Mr. Hussey then moved, That the clause for subjecting the artificers to military discipline, be left out.· Mr. Sheridan declared, that he could not avoid reprobating the very dangerous doctrine laid down by the honorable and learned gentleman (Sir Charles Gould*). If it be true (continued he) that the King can raise any number of troops without the consent of parliament; or, what is the same thing, not voted by parliament, he is then independent of parliament as long as he has money to pay those troops. Mr. Sheridan denied that any such power could be executed by the King on constitutional principles. He maintained, that every man who exceeded the number limited by the mutiny bill, did not come under the mutiny act; nor, consequently, under military law. He took notice of (what he described as) the singular manner in which the warrant directed the men to be attested, that if they were not found to be good carpenters, masons, bricklayers, collar-makers, miners, &c. of which the noble duke

the Sir Charles, previous to the question on the third reading of the bill being put, asserted the right of His Majesty to levy troops on the faith of their being afterwards sanctioned by Parliament.

« ZurückWeiter »