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Were the war to be carried on, even by more able ministers, upon the same principles hitherto avowed, and for the same object, there is nothing his majesty could offer to me-nothing that any prince in Europe could offer to me that could induce me to take any share in it.
* With respect to the motion being mistimed, my side of the house has not been negligent in bringing forward questions upon the war. I deny having introduced the present motion on account of affairs in Ireland, and appeal to the time in which notice of it was given, in proof of the assertion ; but I think a full investigation of that business of great importance. The cabinet certainly interfere in the affairs of this coun. try, and I wish to know upon what principle it should do so, more than the parliament of this country. I have been told that I endanger Ireland by such an inquiry; but I wish to know who most endangers it, I who respect both that country and this, as much as any man in this house, or those who conduct themselves as if they had no re. gard to the interest of either, when in competition with their own power? The right honourable gentleman says that my conduct, if not counteracted, tends to lower the dignity of this country. That a man, who has himself so lowered the dignity of this country, who has brought it to the verge of ruin by the obstinacy and madness of his conduct, should presume to think that any man else could lower it more than he has, is, I own, rather extraordinary. I desire to know, and I ask the minister to
if he can,-I ask any man in this house to inform me when it was that I endeavoured to lower the dignity of this country? I allude to the present warwhat has been my conduct, and what did I advise this house upon that subject? I would have offered reason. able terms to France before the war commenced; and for that purpose I proposed a negociation : he affected to disdain it. What has been the event? Will even he himself now attempt to say that there is a chance of making as good a peace now as there was then? Does he even hope he can ever negociate with the French in a situation less dishonourable to us than the present? I would have negociated with them before a fight. He
must negociate after a fight, and after a defeat too, if he i negociates at all. I would have negociated with them
while we were rich in our resources and our commerce entire. He must negociate when both are desperately impaired. I would have negociated before our allies were defeated, and while they were yet supposed to be in union. He must negociate after víctory has declared in favour of the enemy, and the allies have been deserting us and abandoning one another. After this, that such a man could possibly suppose that he is supporting the dignity of the country, and that he should put himself on a footing with any gentleman who has not the misfortune to be in the present administration, is an extraordinary thing; but it is an assumption of merit which is peculiar to his
majesty's present council. In the mean time it is with heart-felt satisfaction, I reflect, that in every thing I ever proposed, I have supported the dignity of this country; I regard it as a circumstance of good fortune to me, that I never gave an opinion by which one drop of British blood was shed, or any of its treasure squandered. The right honourable gentleman has insinuated, that neither I nor those with whom I act, ever mention the glory of the British arms. The fact is notoriously otherwise, we have been proud to praise them. Is it endurable, then, to hear a man accuse others of endeavouring to lower the dignity of this country, when we are doing all we can to save it, and are calling for an inquiry into the conduct of that man who has brought us to the last stake, with which we are now contending for our existence ? And shall it be still a question who is the best friends of the honour of Great Britain ? But I wish again to ask, if this committee be not granted, what am I to say to my
constituents if they ask, who are the allies of this couni try--what is our relative situation with Prussia—what
with the emperor--what has been the conduct of administration with regard to the war-what is the situation of Ireland ? To all these questions I can only answer, “ I cannot tell you any of these things. The house of commons would not grant me an inquiry ; they went hand in hand with the
Extract of a Speech of MR. PITT, on moving the order
of the day for taking into consideration his majesty's proclamations of Oct. 31st and Nov. 4th, 1795, for preventing seditious meetings.
IF, under this first impression, every man should think himself called upon by the affection he owes to the person of his sovereign, to apply a remedy to those very alarming symptoms, (which I presume will be the case) another impression will arise out of it, equally forcible, namely, that they will do this business but by halves, if they direct their attention solely to that separate attack upon the person of his majesty, and not to those formidable circumstances which are connected with it in point of principle, and which produce it in point of fact. If the house intend that such enormities shall be totally averted, they should adopt some means to prevent those seditious assemblies, which serve as vehicles to faction and disloyalty, which fan and keep alive the flame of disaffection, and fill the minds of the people with discon
My motion is, therefore, not to alter or enforce the laws for the king's safety, because the other house has now a bill before them to this effect ; but to prevent those meetings to which all the mischiefs I have mentioned may
be attributed. The meetings to which I allude are of two descriptions ; the first,
under a pretext for petitioning parliament for rights of which they affect to be deprived, agitate questions, and promulgate opinions, hostile to the existing government, and tending to bring it into disrepute among the people. The other description, though less numerous, not less public, nor less dangerous, is concerted evidently for the purpose of disseminating unjust ground of jealousy and discontent, and of encouraging the people to acts even of treason itself. Both these require some strong law to prevent them; for if the arm of the executive government is not strengthened by such a law, they will be continued, if not to the utter ruin, at least to the disgrace of the country.
No man will deny the right of the people to express their opinions on political men and measures, and to discuss and assert their right of petitioning all the branches of the legislature ; but it is the duty of the house to prevent these privileges from being made a pretext for subverting the established government of the country. confess, however, that it is necessary to proceed with caution in this business, lest, on the one hand we should encroach on the rights of the people, or, on the other, suffer the abuse of those rights to become the instrument of their total extinction. This matter ought to be attended to in the detail, but they will see, that at present, the real question is, “Does not the pressure of the moment call for some remedy.”
According to the best opinions I can collect, the great point wanted now, is a more clear and defined power in the magistrate to disperse and put an end to all meetings likely to be productive of consequences such as have already been mentioned. I by no means mean this power of dispersion to extend to meetings obviously lawful, and held for legal purposes; but that in every case of a numerous meeting, of whatever nature, or under whatever colour, notice should be given, so as to enable the magistrate to keep a watchful eye over their proceedings to recognize the power of the magistrate to be present at such meetings, and to enforce penalties on those who shall obstruct him in doing so; and on whatever pretext the meeting may be held, if it appears to be of a kind that is likely to promote sedition against government, to invest the magistrate with a power to apprehend the person on the spot-o make any obstruction of the magistrate felony—and to make a provision, that if arresting shall not be found sufficient to disperse the meeting, they shall be dispersed in the same manner, and under the same penalties, as those contained in the Riot Act. This summary power in the magistrate, while it will still leave to the people the fair right to petition, on the one hand, will, on the other, prevent the abuse of it. This is the outline of the bill I mean to propose.
Under the other description of meetings, through which the minds of the people are poisoned, fall those of public lectures, who make the dissemination of sedition
the source of a livelihood. To them I think it will be proper to apply regulations, somewhat like those which passed about fourteen years before, in an act which was called Mansfield's Act, and by which all houses, wherein improper meetings were held on Sunday, were to be treated as disorderly houses. And to avoid evasion, the clause should apply to every house wherein any people meet, exceeding by a certain number to be stated in the act, the real family of the house. So convinced am I that there can be but one feeling and one opinion that some measure of this kind is necessary, and so little am I shaken in that conviction by the adverse vociferation of hear, hear, that I am sure I should but shew a distrust of the cause if I were to say any more.
Extract from the Speech of the Hon. EDMUND BURKE,
on conciliation with America. A revenue from America transmitted hither-do not delude yourselves—you never can receive it—no, not a shilling. We have experience that from remote countries it is not to be expected. If, when you attempted to extract revenue from Bengal, you were obliged to return in loan, what you had taken in imposition, what can you expect from North America? for certainly, if ever there was a country qualified to produce wealth, it is India; or an institution fit for the transmission, it is the East India Company. America has none of these aptitudes. If America gives you taxable objects, on which you lay your duties here, and gives you, at the same time, a surplus by a foreign sale of her commodities to pay the duties on these objects which you tax at home, she has performed her part to the British revenue. But with regard to her own internal establishments, she may, I doubt not she will, contribute in moderation. I say in moderation ; for she ought not to be permitted to exhaust herself. She ought to be reserved to a war, the weight of which, with the enemies that we are most likely to have, must be considerable in her quarter of the globe. There she may serve you, and serve you essentially,