Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

party accused stating every thing he thinks ly. This argument, of no loss to the public proper in his own defence and instification from this practice, is an extraordinary excuse But it has been said, that these parties from a right hon. gent. so well versed in the have been hardly dealt with ; they have financial system of the country, and the laws been taken by surprise, and have had no that particularly relate to it. Does he renotice of what was going forward. What! collect the act which prescribes the form of I thought that commission issued for the the bills, and the mode of drawing them? purpose of inquiring into abuses, with a view That act says, any man counterfeiting one to correction and amendment. Have I Leen' of these bills, shall be guilty of a femistaken, and was it then for the purpose of lony, without bencit of clergy." Now, inquiring into the transcendant merits and suppose an expert forger, and many such virtues of the treasurer and paymaster of the there are, had forged a bill of 500,0001. but navy, and to ascertain what farther honours had the money to replace it when it became and rewards they deserved for their distin- due; and supposing this transcction to be guished services. These worthy parties, it afterwards discovered, would or could the

seems, were most cruelly deceived. right hon. gent. advise his Majesty to parThey attended the commissioners, never once don that man, because the money was made dreaming that abuses could have crept into good? To excuse, therefore, a public offitheir office, which the commissioners wished cer, guilty of mal-practices, upon the ground to investigate, but fancying it was to be only of no loss, is monstrous language. It is lanan examination, to ascertain the degree of guage that puts an end to the definite protheir merits and yirtues, and confidently an- visions of the law, and the constitution of ticipating a brilliant reward. Now, to come the house of commons. What! no loss? to this ex parte evidence, as it is called : lord Is then erery public officer to speculate with Melville being asked, did you permit Mr. the public money for private profit, and if Trotter to draw the money from the Bank no loss ensues, is there no criminality ? What of England, and place it in his private bank- is the use of your laws, if they may be thus er's hands? his lordship answers, “ I never dispensed with at pleasure? What becomes gave him a direct authority, but I knew he of the house and its duties? Is the house did it.” Now, surely, it would have been to vote a sum of money for one particular more manly in his lordship to have said at service, and may any officer apply it to ano

“ I did,” than to admit that he knew ther as he pleases, and if no loss follows, is what was going on, and did not prevent it. he to remain guiltless ? The right hon. the It was skulking from his duty. It was as chancellor of the exchequer, says he knows much as saying to Mr. Trotter, make money of one sum of 40,000l. that was thus applied of your ofiice as you can, and I will protect to a purpose diferent from that for which it you. And who is this Mr. Trotter, with was voted, and he adds, judiciously applied. whom lord Melville cannot be presumed to I ask, however, if any regard) were paid to have any fellow-feeling ? Why, the general the votes of the house, why was not that agent of lord Melville. Why, knowing him payment afterwards disclosed, and a bill of to be acting in this illegal way, did he con- indemnity demanded for those that made it? tinue him in the practice ? Can any man It is monstrous that any minister should believe it was exclusively for Mr. Trotter's think himself justified in taking such a libersole benefit ? But even though it were, ty with the public money, and not call for a lord Melville would not be the less respon- bill of indemnity. It is said that the acsible ; as principal, he was as corrupt as if counts are not correct; that the sunis lodged the act of his agent had been done person- with Messrs. Coutts are not so grest as they ally by himself.--The next argument ad- are stated. This does not signify. vanced is that no loss has been sustained by pears that Mr. Trotter took all he ecuid. He the practice. This I can easily coriceive, was a good calculator ; and if he took only without giving the parties much credit for 5 millions, instead of 15, it was because he their innocence. Mr. Alexander Trotter is could not make free with more.

It is a an expert calculator. He might know very proof of his skill, not of his innocence, and, well how far he might use the public money, perhaps, it is for that skill he has been reinbefore the demands for it should come round stated in office. Great pains, we are told, upon him. It was only the common science have been taken to infame the public mind. of every banker, who knows when his bills It is said that liand-hills and publications have are payable, and to what amount, and regu- been circulated, for the purpose of exciting lates his issues in the mean time, according- odium against the parties. Ti so, it is base. Vol. IV.



It apa

The hon. gent. opposite (the attorney ge- | were only to give the minister an increase of neral) will feel it his duty, I am sure, to as- influence, and not of purity and virtue. I certain the fact, and punish these libellers ; should be ashamed to walk the streets of but why are we to stop the proceedings of London, if it were the general opinion that the house, because offensive and libellous the members from Ireland were not as clear publications have been circulated ? The of corruption as the members of this country, proceedings of the commissioners in 1782 | and that there was any virtue in the one from have been referred to, but they have nothing which the other was shut out. Sorry should to do with the present business. The ques- | I be were the two representations to meet tion is, whether the act of 1785 has been like two running sores, wasting the strength violated? The conduct of the commissioners and vigour of the body by their confluent in 1782, he would venture to say, did not corruption. This is the first opportunity sanction the conduct of Mr. Trotter. Their they have had of giving a proof of the virtue recommendation was, that none of these and integrity of my countrymen, and I hope public officers should have public money in they will not lose it. You are now engaged their hands, or be exposed to the temptation in a war alone, without an ally, with a great of private gain, that might end in public nation, led by the most extraordinary man loss. I cannot conceive why we should the world has ever produced. You have postpone the resolutions. Can you obtain imposed heavy taxes upon the people. This evidence from a committee, that the law session you have followed the poor man's has not been violated ? This is the first in- last luxury into his cottage ; you have taxed stance of an application to parliament in a his salt. Will it not then be wise to shew, grave business for delay, without stating any that if you call upon him to make great sagrounds. If you have any ground, why not crifices, you will take care that they shall be state it? I think the gentlemen are not administered with integrity and economy? aware of the consequences of delay, if any is Is it not incumbent upon you to shew, that to take place. In such event, I think bills no rank, no power, no influence can screen ought to be brought in to restrain lord Mel- a public malefactor ? and that the man who ville and Mr. Trotter from leaving the coun- would abuse his trust, and misapply the try. The proceedings of a committee will hard earnings of the people, cannot be occupy a great length of time. What is to screened from the justice of the country? becoine of lord Melville and Mr. Trotter in When you have established this character, the mean while? If it shall appear that the as I hope and trust you will this night, you sums have been great, it will not be fit that may carry on the contest as long as you may they should be allowed to walk the streets at think it necessary for your honour or your large, and be at.liberty to convey in trust to safety ; but, if the amendment be adopted, their friends those funds from which restitu- you will incur a very different opinion. I tion ought to be made to the country. The put it to you, whether will be considered right hon. gent, (Mr. Pitt) will therefore as a mode to ascertain the innocence of a find it due to his character to follow the case man, who stands convicted upon his own of Sir Thomas Rumbold, and take care that oath, or a stratagem to shelter him from pula any funds they now possess shall be forth- nishment by delay? I can make great allows coming to satisfy the public demands. And ance for private friendship.

I am sure, now, sir, let me tell you, there never was a however, it is the sentiment of the house moment in the history of the country where that lord Melville cannot be defended; for the character of the government was so es- I observe that not one gentleman has arisen sential to its welfare and security. By a this night to speak for him, but such as have measure, of which I own I did not approve, been his colleague in office. I cannot find this house has received an addition of 100 fault with that friendship; but sure I am, members from Ireland. I own, sir, I am that if they cannot acquit him upon oath, of anxious that they should give this night a what he has admitted upon oath, they canproof of their spirit and purity. Public ru- not acquit him of a corrupt breach of the law. mour stated that at the time of the union Mr. Canning rose to explain the cause of many were induced by large sums to part Mr. Trotter's continuance in office. He with their legislature too easily, and their said he had never seen him until he was ap. integrity was not free from doubt and sus- pointed paymaster under him. He restored picion. They have now an opportunity of him because he was a useful man. And he throwing from them that imputation. I had not removed hïm froin office, because should be deeply afflicted if that measure he considered his case adhuc sul judice.

The Master of the Rolls argued in favour of a nature so glaring, that any man who of an inquiry, because, he said, it had ever gave it the sanction of his vote, or attemptbeen the principle and practice of our juris- ed to protect it from punishment, must be prudence to have the whole of a case before viewed in the light of an accomplice, or one any man was pronounced guilty. It was at least disposed to become the accomplice not sufficient to state that the law had been of similar transactions. Before he would, violated by lord Melville ; but before the proceed to the merits of the charges under house could pronounce a judgment against consideration, he thought it proper to nohim, it would be necessary to shew that he tice the arguments of the gentlemen on the had violated the law from corrupt motives. other side, not because he considered those The law might be broken, and the motives arguments possessed of any intrinsic force, not corrupt. It had never been the object but lest from the authority of the persons of the naval commissioners to try criminals, from whom they proceeded they might have or to convict men on their own confession. the effect of leading the house to a decision, Their object merely was to inquire into which, if it should correspond with the abuses, and it was for that purpose alone that wishes of those by whom sạch arguments they had put questions to those who came were used, must destroy its character with the before them. The house then could not, country and with all Europe. The first on the report of men having such an object gentleman with whom he would begin was in view, convict a person without hearing the last who spoke. That learned gent. dievidence at its bar. Such was the proceed- rected the whole of his observations

to shew ing in the case of sir Robert Walpole, the that the house should go into a committee duke of Macclesfield, and various other per- in order to ascertain whether the breach of sons. He would not now say one word con- the act of parliament, not of which lord cerning the merits of the case ; but he con- Melville stood charged, but of which he contended that the whole of it ought to be fessed himself guilty, proceeded from corheard before the house proceeded to come rupt motives. If corruption consisted mereto a decision upon it. It would be impossi- ly in a man putting money into his own ble for any man to be as capable at this mo- pocket, according to the vulgar conception, ment of determining upon the various shades perhaps some of the deductions of the learnof guilt belonging to the case, as he would ed gent. would be right. But he would be after an inquiry was gone into. From contend that nothing could be more corrupt, the report now before the house, it was im- in his opinion, than to permit a man's own possible for any man to say that lord Mel agent to convert the money of others to his ville was personally guilty of corruption- own private emolument.' This was the that he was corrupt for the sake of private amount of lord Melville's confession ; and emolument. Nothing like personal cor- although it might be possible, from a furruption was proved against the noble viscount. ther examination, to prove the noble lord How wa

he to judge of his own offence but more guilty, it did appear to him utterly imby his own understanding ? How did it ap- possible to prove him less so. For the most pear to what degree he connived at the mis- conclusive evidence of the noble lord's corconduct of his servant. These and many ruption, he would only refer to that paraother points were wholly left in the dark by graph in the report, in which the noble lord the commissioners, and could not be cleared stated, that although he knew his agent up without farther inquiry.

Trotter was applying the public money to Mr. For then rose. He said he should be other purposes than that for which it was extremely unwilling to suffer this question legally intended, that he did not prohibit to be put without expressing his sentiments him from doing so. What was that, he upon it. For if, unhappily, the vote of the would ask, but complete corruption, even house should be opposite to that which he taking the case simpliciter ; but comhoped and wished, he should feel very un- bining it with other circumstances, could easy indeed that his name should partake of any man entertain a doubt upon the subject the universal odium that must attach to any of his guilt? What greater aggravation of decision tending to second such notorious his delinquency in tolerating the breach of delinquency as the report on the table de his own act of parliament could be imagined clared. He could never reconcile it to his than allowing his agent to misapply the pubmind to be silent upon such an occasion, lic money, for the safe custody of which that lest he should be suspected of declining to act was intended? But it is pretended that mark with the strongest reprobation, guilt no loss had accrued to the public from this



malversation, and a very singular argument the attorney-general to prosecute ; whet! was advanced, that as there was no loss there by moving an impeachment, or preparin was no risk.

Now, said the hon. gen., it bill of pains and penalties, which perh: unfortunately happened in certain parts of would be the more proper mode of procet my life, which I do not quote with a view ing, he would maintain that the confess to recommend my example to others, that of the party accused, would be evidence I was in the habits of engaging in certain proceed upon, and that the house was 11 speculations which are commonly called called on to act, as it must in every

siini gaming. - If a man should, in that kind of case, as a grand jury, to pronounce up speculation, win a large sum of money, I the guilt of the accused. It was strange ain sure that an argument would not thence hear it asserted, that the accused was i arise that he had made no risk. I rather guilty, because no loss had accrued fro think the natural inference would be that this scandalous transaction. To those his risk was considerable. Probably however, whom the loss of honour was nothing, po in this case, lord Melville did take care that haps, it might be said that no loss h Troiter should not lose any money.

Trotter arisen. But what was the loss of honour was the confidential agent of lord Melville, that government which after such a palpal and lord Melville was the confidential agent instance of delinquency, should preserve of the state. Therefore, in this sort of spe- connexion with the delinquent? and wł culation in which Trotter engaged, lord Mel the loss of character and honour to that hou: ville could guard against much risk. If should it attempt by its vote, to screen su two men play at cards together, and a third a delinquent? infinitely more than any su person staads behind one of them and throws of money could amount to.-Whatever t hints to the other, he that receives the learned gent, to whom he had already adver hints is tolerably sure of winning. Just so ed might assert, he could not see that a in this business ; lord Melville knew when farther inquiry could be necessary to enat the navy bills were likely to be funded, and the house to decide that a great public offic Mr. Trotter could act upon the information who allowed his servants to make illicit pr he might rececive. Will any one say, then, fits from the public money, in the teeth that from such acting upon such information, an act of parliament, was guilty of a mo no loss would accrue to the public? On the serious offence. The guilt consisted in t cont:?!), I maintain, that the public did violation of the law, and it never could I -sutter a loss of 1 per cent. upon the discount pretended that any such violation could of such bills. But, then observed the hon. innocent. There were, indeed, many cas member, the learned gent, desired the house in which the most severe punishments a to go into an inquiry, in order to obtain tached to offences to which the charge fariher evidence. He would appeal to the moral turpitude did not apply, but whic judgment of the house, whether any farther were criminal in consequence evidence could be necessary to enable it to of the law. Such were many of the o come to a decided opinion upon the breach fences against our revenue laws. Not tu of law, which the noble lord himself con- years ago an act was passed declaring a ma fessed? That opinion the house was called guilty of felony, without benefit of clerg on to declare. The public had a right to if paper of a certain sort should be found demand it from them. It was said, 'that the his possession, this sort of paper being use house ought not to think of acting judicially, for the manufacture of bank notes. Nou of inflicting punishment without the fullest the reason of this statute was this, that examination into the merits of the accusa- man could not be presumed to have sue tion, and affording the accused the fullest paper in his possession but with a crimin opportunity of vindicating himself. And so intention. Therefore the breach of the ac far as the confession of lord Melville went, was proof against him. And the act of th he had been already tried. He would, how- 25th of the king, which applied to th ever, defy those gentlemen who rested their case under consideration, was drawn u objection so much upon the question of upon a similar principle, and the breaclr punishment, to shew, that it was at all in it was to be deemed the proof of the cri the power of that houe to inflict any minal intention. Upon this proof, thos punishment on such.delinquenis as lord Mel- which arose out of the reason of the layville and Trotter. But if the house should he had no, hesitation in pronouncing thi determine on prosecution in any way with a noble lord guilty. At all events, there wa view to punishuncnt; wire her by directing 10 man who could say that strong suspicio

the prece

[ocr errors]


did not attach to him. When private indi- this occasion ? Not, certainly, upon that viduals became the objects of suspicion, it of lord Melville, for his character was entirewas their own affair ; but when suspicion ly gone; but upon the character of the house attached to men of high rank in the state, and the government, which muat depend it became a matter of great public interest. upon the vote of this night. As to the chaPutting all the circumstances of the case racter of lord Melville it was so completely together, he could not see that any thing destroyed in public estimation for ever, that could be obtained to avert the judgment op he would venture to say, that were the vote the house from farther inquiry. Whatever of the house unanimous in his favour, it delay might take place, there was only one would not have the slightest effect in wiping mode of confirming still farther the guilt of away the stigma that was universally affixed lord Melville, and that was in case Trotter to his name. What, then, must the world should “ 'peach ;" but there was no mode think of retaining such a man at the head of or evidence possible to be imagined that could the glory of the country? It was dreadful refute that which lord Melville himself con- to reflect that the most honourable claims fessed. On that confession then, he called should be placed at the disposal of a man, upon the house to proceed, by adopting the with 'whose name dishonour was inseparamotion of his hon. friend. With respect to bly associated—who had confessed himself the charge of lord Melville's having partici- guilty of an act of corrupt illegality.--Are pated of the profits resulting froin Trotter's we, said the hon. gent., to connive at and application of the public money, he could approve of all this, when even the right not say that there was direct evidence be- hon. gent, who has moved the previous quesfore the house; but there certainly was tion, will not go the length of approving all strong ground of suspicion. The noble he has done. Sir, we have heard to-night, lord, it would be recollected, retained with sentiments of exultation, the brilliant the office of treasurer of the navy for efforts of a noble friend of mine (lord H. several years after he was appointed to Peity) on the bench behind me: there is that of secretary of state, and when in that not a man in the house capable of appreciathouse allusion was made to the circum- ing virtue and genius, who did not feel a stance of his holding the two offices, the secret satisfaction in the speech of that noble answer from the other side of the house lord. I recollect, sir, when the right hon. was, that although he held those offices, gent. on the opposite bench (Mr. Pitt) made lie only received the salary of secretary his first essay in this house, I recollect, and

1 of state, and nothing from the treasury of many in the house must recollect also, the the navy. Ay, that is nothing of the legal just pride which we all feit to see him, salary. Did not this justify something more much at the same age then that the noble than suspicion? Why should the noble lord lord behind me now is, distinguishing himso fondly cling to this office of his friend, self in hunting down corruption, in unmaskMr. Trotter? There were many other per- ing abuses in the public expenditure, in prosons among even his own relations who posing and enforcing reforms of various would have been glad to occupy this situa- kinds. What a contrast does his conduct on tion. But no; lord Melville seemed parti- this night afford! Under what sort of ficularly attached to it, and would any man of gure does he appear?

“ Heu! quantum common sense, in considering a thing of mutatus ab illo !" The right hon. gent. (Mr. this kind, make no inference from that at- Canning) who now fills the office of treasutachment. Another objection arose against rer of the navy, asserts that it is physicaily the proposed committee, from this consi- impossible to act up to the letter of the act, deration, that he did not see that any of the and has amused the house with an account difficulties which some gentlemen complain- of fractional sıms of 8s. 6d. 14s. and 25. of could be removed ; that any of the ob- and then tuuns short upon us, and asks how scure accounts could be explained. Those it is possible to pay all those trifling claims accounts were indeed of such a nature, that by drafts upon the bank? I do not say it is; the parties themselves could not understand but does he not keep money in the iroir chest them, and how, then, could it be possible of his office 10 pay them, and are not the for a committee of that house to make any sub-accountants furnished with the means of thing of them ?--It had bean said that the liquidating them? Put these abuses, it is house should proceed with the utmost deli- said, can never occur again ; Mr. Trotter, beration in deciding upon character. But in his dying legacy to luis successors, has upon whose character were they to decide on pointed out the means of preventing it.


« AnteriorContinuar »