Imatges de pÓgina
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right of governing is

ovu a property, but a trust; and that whatever is given for constitntional purposes,

should be resumed when those purposes shall no longer be car. ried into effect. There are instances of gentlemen offer. ing to sacrifice the interest they may have in boroughs, to the public good. It is strange that none of them now come forward, when the occasion has presented itself. I am averse to the idea of confining parliamentary situations to men of large fortunes, or those who hare distin. guished themselves in public professions. Should this be the case, there is scarcely any man so little acquainted with the history of parliament, as not to know that the house would lose half its force. It is not from men of large and easy fortunes that attention, vigilance, energy, and enterprise, are to be expected. Human nature is too fond of gratifications not to be somewhat attentive to it, when the means are at hand; and the best and most meritorious public services have always been performed by persons in circumstances removed from opu. lence. The right honourable gentleman need not be ashamed to take some of those regulations formed in the time of the protector Oliver Cromwell;, for though a character too odious ever to be the object of praise or imitation, his institutions, confirmed afterwards by his successor Charles II, bear strong marks of genius and ability; for his political disposition was as good as that of his successor, and his genius infinitely more power. ful. I shall conclude with earnestly entreating all sides of the house to concur in the question now before them. I am sorry the honourable gentleman who spoke last (Mr. Powys) did not, in all the warmth he professed on the occasion, take the most conciliatory mode of acquir. ing strength to it. Instead of reproaching the noble lord (North) for confining himself to old arguments and observations, he should rather tremble for the success with which these old observations have been applied by his noble 'friend, and the contrary fate which has before attended the novel and more variable style of the minister.

XLVI. Mr. Fox, against Lord North.

SUPPOSING any remonstrance with the noble lord (lord North) against the American war, what will the noble lord say ?

“ Why, you know that this war is a matter of necessity, and not of choice; you see the dilliculties to which I am driven, and to which I have reduced my country : and you know also, that in my own private character I am a lover of peace. For what reason then do I persist in spite of conviction ? For your benefit alone! For

you

I have violated the most sacred engagements ! for you, neglected the suggestions of conscience and reason for you, forfeited a thousand times my ho. nour and veracity in this business! and for you I must still persist! Without the American war I shall have no places, no emoluments to bestow, not a single loan to negociate; nor shall I be able to retain the poor situa. tion of mine that I have so long held disinterestedly. You see me now in the most elevated situation, with the disposal of places and pensions, and with the whole power of the nation in my hands; but make peace with Anerica to-day, and to-morrow I shall be reduced to the level of private life, retaining nothing but what is merely personal of all my present advantages.

f you do not vote with me (says the noble lord): against a peace with America, how am I to give you any thing? It is true that my situation, as minister, is a re, spectable and elevated situation, but it is the American war that enables me to give douceurs, and to put into your pockets eight or nine hundred thousand pounds by a loan. Put an end to that, and you undo all. My power will be miserably lessened, and your pay as miserably reduced. As to myself, why, I am perfectly indifferent about that; I get a little, and it is my happiness that a little, thank heaven, contents ine. I cannot therefore be supposed to care if a peace takes place with America to-morrow, as far as I ani personally concerned; but for your own sakes do not let such a thing come to pass. Nay, were I to go out of oilice, a situation I never co. veted, always disliked, and heartily wished to be rid of, still I hope the American war will be continued.” Such pathetic reasoning cannot fail having its effects, and thus

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it is the noble lord induces the members of this house to sacrifice the interest of their constituents, by proving that their own interest is essentially connected with the American war. Was it possible, therefore, that a peace .conld be obtained with America ? “O spare my beautiful system ! (the noble lord would cry). What, shall I part with that! with that which has been the glory of the present reign, which has extended the dominions, raised the reputation, and replenished the finances of my country! No, for God's sake, let this be adhered to; and do with all the rest what you please : deprive me, if you please, of this poor situation ; take all iny power, all my honour and consequence; but spare my beauti. ful system, oh! spare my system !!!"

XLVII. Mr. Sheridan, against Mr. M. A. Taylor.

We have this day been honoured with the counsels of a complete gradation of lawyers. We have received the opinion of a judge (Kenyon), of an attorney-general in petto (Bearcroft), of an ex-attorney-general (Lee), and of a practising barrister (Taylor). I agree with the learned gentleman (Mr. Bearcroft) in his admiration of the abilities of my honourable friend (Mr. Fox). What he has said of his quickness and of his profoundness, of his boldness and his candour, is literally just and true, which the mental accomplishment of my honourable friend is, on every oceasion, calculated to extort even from his adversarics. The learned gentlemau has, how. ever, in this insidious eulogium, counected such qualities of mind with those he has praised and venerated, as to convert his encomiums into reproach, and his tributes of praise into censure and invective. The boldness he has described is only craft, and his candour hypocrisy. Up on what grounds does the learned gentleman connect those assemblages of great qualities and of cardinal defects? Upon what principles either of justice or of equity does he exult with one hand, whilst he insidiously reprobates and destroys with the other? If the wolf is to be feared, the learned gentleman may rest assured, it will be the wolf in sheep's clothing, the masked pre

tender to patriotism. It is not from the fang of the lion, but from the tooth of the serpent, that reptile that insi. diously steats upon the vitals of the constitution, and gnaws it to the heart ere the mischief is suspected, that destruction is to be feared.

With regard to the acquisition of a learned gentleman (Mr. Taylor) who has declared that he means to vote with us this day, I am sorry to acknowledge, that, from the declaration the learned gentleman has inade at the beginning of his speech, I see no great reason to boast of such an auxiliary. The learned gentleman, who has with peculiar modesty styled himself a chicken lawyer, has declared that, thinking as in the right with respect to the si:bject of this day's discussion, he shalt vote with us; but he has at the same time thought it necessary to assert, that he has never before voted differently from the minister and his friends, and perhaps he never shall agairr vote with those whom he means to support this day. It is rather singular to vote with us, professedly because he finds us to be in the right, and, in the very moment that he assigns so good a reason for changing his side, to dea' clare, that in all probability he never shall vote with us again. I am sorry to find the chicken is a bird of ill omen, and that its augury is so unpropitious to our future interests. Perhaps it would have been as well, under these circumstances, that the chicken had not left the barn-loor of the treasury, but coutinued side by side with the old cock (Mr. Kenyon), to pick those crumbs of comfort which would, doubtless, be dealt out in time, with a liberality proportioned to the fidelity of the fea. thered tribe.

XLVIII. Mr. Beaufoy, for the repeal of the test and

corporation acts.

PART I.

Mr. SPFAKER, I am happy in tire outset of our dclities rations, to declare, that the grievancis of which the disas senters complain, are of a civil, anıt not of an ecclesias. ticat nature.—They humbly solicit a restoration of their civil rights, not an enlargement of their ecclesiasticut

privileges. It is of consequence that this fact should be distiactly stated, and clearly understood;--for the very word dissenter leads so naturally to the supposition that their complaints are of an ecclesiastical kind, and their acknowledged merit as citizens, so naturally excludes the idea of its being possible that the law should have de. prived them of any of their civil rights, that I feel myself under a necessity of stating, at the very threshold of the business, that their prayer has nothing ecclesiastical for its object. They wish not to diminish the provision which the legislature has made for the established church; nor do they envy her the revenue she enjoys, or the ec. clesiastical privileges of dignity and honour with which she is invested. If their aim had been to attack the rights of others, and not merely to recover their own, they would not have chosen a member of the church of England for their advocate, nor could I have accepted such a trust. So far are they, indeed, from trespassing on the rights of others, that even the restitution of their own they did not solicit till the public tranquillity was completely restored, and till a season of leisure fron other avocations had afforded the legislature a convenient opportunity of considering the hardships by which they are aggrieved. That men of acknowledged merit, as citizens, of known attachment to the constitution, and of zealous loyalty to the sovereign, should at no time solicit relief from armerited disabilities, and undeserved reproach, is not to be expected from the dissenters, for it is not to be expected from human nature ;-but, in praying for that relief, they have chosen the time which they thought the most convenient to parliament, and the pode which they deemed the most respectful to the house, United in sentiment, on this occasion, to a de. gree which I believe unexampled in any other body of inen, and hitherto unknown among themselves, and forming in most of the towns of England a large proportion of the inhabitants, they did not choose to crowd. your table with petitions; they wished to owe their suc. cess, not to the number of the claimants, but to the equity of the claim ;-and, they have observed that jus. tice never pleads more powerfully with the house, than when she approaehes them accompanied only by her own complete perfections.

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