Imágenes de páginas

it was a prerogative, the exercise of which plied to for a subscription for Poland, he it was the duty of that House to examine. confessed that his heart was engaged in With respect to the conduct of captain her favour ; every thing that could move Gawler, in refusing to erase his name his affections pleaded in favour of Poland; from the society alluded to, in compliance but doubting so much on the point of with the imperious orders of a number of propriety, he hesitated, and finally deofficers, all of whom were inferior to him- clined subscribing. He took notice of self, except one of them, he must say, the case of captain Gawler. He belonged that to make such a circumstance the to a society, called a Society for Constifoundation of dismission was against all tutional Information : there was no imputhe priuciples of military distinctions, tation upon captain Gawler for being a against the principles of justice, and highly member of this society at first, because injurious to the service, When he saw a the professions of its founders were harmmeritorious gentleman dismissed the ser- less; but it had long since changed its vice in this way, without a reason, it gave original character, and now its members him great concern. He said again, this held open correspondence with certain gentleman ought to have had a court societies in France, for the express purmartial; but although ministers had not pose of altering the constitution of this assigned a reason for dismissing these of-country; citizen Joel Barlow, citizen John ficers, he would venture to say what were Adams, and citizen Frost, were engaged not the reasons for dismissing this gen- in this correspondence. He saw no reatleman. They did not dismiss them for son why one of his majesty's officers want of an honourable character. No! should object to erasing his name from caprice, founded upon political topics, such a society. Upon all these conside was the sole reason. With regard to lord rations, he was not ready to blame goEdward Fitzgerald, his abilities and cou- vernment for what they had done. He rage have been tried; and he had ac- thought that government should judge of quitted himself to his honour, and to the the conduct of its military officers by its satisfaction of the public, and of his most own discretion, in the same way as a jury sanguine friends. "Captain Gawler, too, judged of the tendency of a seditious had more than once signalised himself in libel : just as a jury decided in the case the service.

of libels, so should the crown of the conMr. Burke entered into the nature of duct of its officers. the king's prerogative to dismiss any of Here the conversation dropped. his officers without assigning a reason for it. It was a power wisely given to his Debate in the Commons on the Alien majesty by the constitution, and was not Bill.] Dec. 28. On the order of the day to be called in question. He admitted for the second reading of the Alien Bill, the exercise of it might be abused, and Mr. Secretary Dundas rose to state the when that was the case, that House ought objects of it. He observed, that so very to interfere ; bat he did not think it so in great and extraordinary an influx of fothe present instance. He took notice of reigners into this country must, at any what Mr. Fox had said with respect to time, have called for the attention of go“ the probability of a war with a foreign vernment, and rendered some measures power, in which case we should be armed." on their part necessary. That attention Here he agreed with Mr. Fox; but with was still more requisite, and the necessity respect to the other part, where he said of adopting some particular measures was he thought "we might build on tranquil- still more urgent, when it was considered lity at home," he differed from him widely, that this influx of foreigners had come and observed, that he never knew an ar- from a country which had lately been the mament that was not applicable to both. scene of very extraordinary transactions; He thought the conduct of these officers where their constitution had been overhighly improper and unconstitutional ; for thrown, and acts of the most dreadful so appeared to him the raising of money enormity had been perpetrated. In these by individuals, without the direction or transactions a very great number of the consent of the king, and without the in- people, either from compulsion or incliterference of parliament, and to support nation, had taken an active part. It was a war against a power with whom we were likewise to be considered, that the revoactually in alliance. So forcibly did these lution which had been brought about was points strike him, that, when he was ap- not confined to the country where it had


first originated, that it affected the whole | lar regulations of the bill, which he hoped of Europe, and was connected with prin- would, in the present circumstances, be ciples which were directed against every considered necessary to the safety of the government. It became, then, a matter state, and not giving a power to the exeof serious attention, if the foreigners who cutive government greater than the occahad come into this country were influ- sion justified. He had only one circumenced by those principles; and it was his stance more to mention. If he was called duty not to conceal from the House, that upon to state the grounds upon which he many of those who had Aed from their had founded his allegations, he would deown country had been engaged in those cline entering into any detail, and appeal very transactions of cruelty and outrage to the general sense of the House to dewhich, he was confident, no one would termine how far they were well founded. defend. And this was not all : it became As this bill was grounded on suspicion, matter of still more serious consideration, and authorized the executive government since there had been found men in this to act upon that principle, it would be country so infatuated as to adopt those impossible, with any degree of propriety, very principles which, in the country to lay open the particular sources of inwhere they originated, had overthrown formation. the constitution, and which were inimical Sir Gilbert Elliot said, that it was alto every government. There existed ways with extreme reluctance that he likewise those, in the acting government rose to speak, from a consciousness of his of that neighbouring country, who en- own incapacity to claim the attention of couraged the addresses of the discon- that House. The reluctance, however, . tented and disaffected in this against our which he now particularly felt, arose from constitution, and who published decrees a different cause—a cause, namely, a diftending to favour their views, and flatter ference of opinion between himself and them with hopes of support. When he some honourable friends whom he highly had stated these circumstances, he trusted respected and esteemed. This difference that it would not be thought that there of opinion, he trusted, however, would not was not sufficient ground for some degree affect their private friendship, which, he of caution in the present moment. If it hoped, would ever remain unaltered. was allowed that there was ground for This sentiment he was more particularly some measures to be taken, it would then led to express, as he had received disonly remain to be determined how far the tinguished marks of friendship from one proposed measures were too strong or too right hon. gentleman (Mr. Fox), with excessive. — He then briefly stated the whom he was now compelled to express several clauses of the bill. It was in his difference in opinion. On this octended in the first instance, to make all casion he felt himself prompted by foreigners, arriving in the kingdom, give duty to declare, that since the close an account of themselves; to make them of last session he had felt much regret give up such arms as they might have in from what had been said by that right their possession; he did not mean such hon. gentleman. The views which he enarms as were natural for gentlemen to tertained of the present situation of affairs wear, but such as might naturally excite were not only widely different from his suspicion against the owners. It was also own, but the means which he proposed to intended, that, in their several removals be pursued for the public welfare were through the country, they should use such as appeared to him to be even of an passports, by which their actual residence opposite tendency. This difference of or occasional movements, might be noto- opinion was not respecting a particular rious. For the same reason it was also measure, so as to afford him a hope that intended to distribute those who received they might again reconcile their difference support into certain districts, where also of sentiment, and be able to act together they would be more liable to the cogni. -it was a difference of such a nature as zance of the civil power. Finally, it was to affect their whole turn of thinking, and proposed to pay particular attention to rendered their views respecting the mode those foreigners who have come within of conduct which ought to be adopted the present year, or who may hereafter in the present crisis diametrically oppocome without obvious reasons, and thus site. He considered it as the duty of be rendered more liable to suspicion. He every man to stand forward in support of then entered into a detail of the particu- his majesty's government, and thus to maintain the constitution, and to save the position to support the present adminiscountry. This difference of sentiment he tration. He would call no man to account should have felt still more painful, if, in for his conduct; but he would say, that avowing it, he had been compelled to they had given him the most distinct assurstand alone. He trusted, however, that ances that there was nothing which made his sense of duty, and his regard for the them more unwilling than they were forpublic welfare, would have enabled him merly; that they had expressed no disineven to stand alone upon such an occa clination to follow the same plan they sion, and would have supported him under had before adopted. He had indeed, on all the uneasiness of such a situation; but the first day of the session, seen gentlemen he was happy he did not stand alone. He go out into the lobby whom he could have spoke the same sentiments with many wished to have staid in the House ; he had other honourable friends with whom he heard an hon, friend of his (Mr. Windham) had been accustomed to act, and who speak with that powerful cloquence which still continued to act, upon their ancient always distinguished him, against what principles, and under their ancient leader appeared to him to be the right and just (the duke of Portland)--that illustrious course of proceeding, and he had heard personage whose character was so highly him with pain; but he saw no such differrespected, and whose sentiments could ence of opinion as made it impossible for never fail to have the greatest weight.-those gentlemen, or his hon. friend, to The present biil met with his hearty and preserve that connexion in which they had entire approbation, not on account of any acted so long.-With respect to himself, all particular facts which had been alleged, he could say was, that he was as much debut on account of the general situation of voted to that connexion as any gentleman the country. He considered it as an ac- in that House ; as any man of honourable cession of power to the crown, which was and independent feelings could be. He justified by the existing circumstances. said also, it was the pride of his heart to It was, in his opinion, the character of a think, that the union and exertions of that free government to grant extraordinary connexion had kept alive every thing that power in extraordinary emergencies. If deserved the name of the spirit of liberty this extraordinary power was at all times in this country. He wished not to call to be possessed by the crown, its power to mind particular expressions ; but he would be too great for a free government; could not but recollect, that the difference and if it was not to be granted when it between those with whom he had acted, was necessary, its power would be too and the present ministry, was formerly small.

called fundamental and irreconcileable; Mr. For said, that in whatever political and he did believe that this sentiment did difference of opinion he felt bimself with still pervade the majority of them. Whereference to his friends, he would venture ther his opinion was or was not consonant to say, that in all discussions of such opi- with the opinion of that majority he did nions he had never suffered the political not know: but this he knew, that the cause difference to interfere with his private of his country would not suffer him to say friendships ; yet he did feel some reason he could support an administration which to complain, that all the private friendship stood upon the grounds of the present, upon and esteem professed for him by the hon. grounds not warranted by the constitution. baronet should not have induced the hon. He had heard in this and other places, baronet to state to him such political that the present administration ought to difference of opinion as he now said had be systematically supported at all events existed so long, or that this should be the in the present situation of affairs. He first occasion he had to suspect the least blamed not those who said so; but, with difference of opinion between the hon. ba- regard to himself and those who enterronet and himself. The hon. baronet | tained that opinion, union and co-operanow said, that so long ago as the last ses. tion were at an end. He had not heard sion of parliament he had reason to difter the hon. baronet say so much ; for he was in opinion from him, and now declared a sure, that if the hon. baronet had done so, general disapprobation of his political con- he could not have added that he concur. duct. Till now he had never understood red in sentiment with the illustrious chathat there was, among those with whom racters to whom he had alluded. The he had been accustomed to act, a general hon. baronet had alluded to a noble person difference of opinion from him, and a dis- (the duke of Portland) so much esteemed (VOL. XXX.]


by him, that he could not express what he who had condemned his former friends to felt in speaking of him; a nobleman with banishment in Sinope, it might have been whom he had lived seventeen years on expected, considering the desolateness terms of friendship, and for ten of those and sterility of the land, would have pauseventeen had been in habits of the great sed, would have thought that a sufficient est intimacy and affection; and he would punishment: but he had not done so. venture to say that he esteemed him at All that he could say was, that nothing least as much as the hon. baronet. He should be wanting on his part, nothing could not bring himself to believe that that that was yielding or complying, nothing nobleman entertained the opinion professed that was conciliating or friendly, no subby the hon. baronet ; for he had heard that mission that friendship and old habits of that nobleman, in giving his support to the intimacy could suggest, that he should present bill, had expressly declared that not be ready to enter into, if, in his opihe could not forget the manner in which the nion, it could operate for the public good. present administration came into power, Upon the present bill, as nothing had and that great part of the difficulties in been alleged that could justify the princi. which the country was now involved was ple, which he had no hope of opposing owing to their misconduct. He therefore with success, and as it contained many believed that no essential difference existed provisions that could be better debated in between that noble person and himself.-If a committee than in any other stage, he differences did arise from doubts that were should reserve what he had to say until it entertained, he asked only for a fair dis- came to that stage. cussion, that it might be distinctly known • Mr. Burke said, that although party wherein it was they differed. He firmly connexions were extremely proper for believed, that on all the principles of liber- mutual arrangement in private, and conty, they not only agreed in motives but venience of public business, they were in actions; that they agreed in every thing seldom fit to become the subject of pubexcept the bill. He disapproved of this lic debate. No man was more unfit than bill, and they approved—which was all he was to enter into any discussion of the difference of which he knew. But as the state of parties. To talk of parties to other differences (and he was consci- was, he remarked, a matter of particular ous of no other), that subject must be delicacy, as the confidence of private farther discussed, and better understood friendship was often so much intermixed between them. He had long acted, and with public duty, that the transaction of he wished to continue to act, with cha- parties required a sort of sanctity which racters whom he esteemed and loved ; but precluded any disclosure. This delicacy if he should be driven, which God forbid! was particularly increased, when friends, to the situation of acting without, or even who loved and esteemed one another, against those characters, he hoped and were compelled, in consequence of a diftrusted he should have sense enough to ference of opinion, to pull different ways discern his duty, and fortitude to perform and felt all the distraction natural to virit. Painful as such a separation would be tuous minds in such a situation. If he to him, and requiring as it would do his might be allowed to talk of himself, he utmost fortitude to bear, he must then con- might state, that ever since he came into sider whether he should act alone, or not parliament, his doors had been open to all; act at all. He trusted, however, he should none had been refused admittance, though act according to his own sense of duty, if the practice had been attended with much he was compelled to do the one or the inconvenience to himself. To the alluother. If, on the other hand, the difference sion about Sinope, he had nothing to an. on the present bill should be the only ma- swer. The phalanx had sent him, not to terial difference between them, they might Sinope, but in the common phrase, to still act in conjunction, as they had for- Coventry. What endeavours had been merly done, and he hoped that all at- used to make him odious to the public, and tempts, to magnify accidental differ- to his private friends, all the world knew. ences, while they agreed on one general Yet this Sinopian, this dog of Athens, principle, would fail of their effect. had not barked from his tub. He had There were other persons from whom he violated no principle, he had betrayed no expected an entire difference on certain secret, he had not attempted to come bequestions, and he had not been deceived. tween the resolution and the act; and The right hon. gentleman (Mr. Burke), farther he had not to say. With regard to the noble person (the duke of Port- for not joining with foreign and domestic land), in whom the public had a great in- factions to subvert the constitution. He terest, he should say nothing of his just gave them credit for knowing more facts, character. The right hon. gentleman from the opportunities afforded by their said he bad known him for sixteen years : official situation, than those who had not he had known him for twenty-seven'; and the same advantage; and therefore he beif, for obvious reasons, they had not late- lieved, that in the information which they ly acted much together, he could say, had given of the danger of the country, that their friendship, if not improved, was they had not put upon the House a denot impaired. The public had a very signed imposition. "He would not say great interest in the character of that no- that he could not find other ministers ble person ; his public virtues, the mode- more agreeable to his inclination : he ration of his sentiments, and the tempe- should wish to see that noble personage rance of his private life, had made an im- whom he had mentioned occupy a distinpression which would not easily be obli- guished situation in the ministry; but he terated.

doubted whether any minister could be To the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Fox) found more in the confidence of the he owed much for instruction, for im- crown; which, in the present moment, he provement, and example; but the mo. considered as a very material point. In a ment he saw him countenancing the pro- time of war, it was likewise very necessaceedings in France, and approving their ry that ministers should be supported by principles, no public connexion could the House of Commons, and possess the subsist between them, because they dif-confidence of the people ; two advantages fered systematically and fundamentally; which the present ministry enjoyed in a He must say, that any person who had very eminent degree. In speaking of the seen the French business in the bud, and necessity of pursuing a system upon the who now saw it full blown and nurtured, present occasion, he would remark, that and yet still wished to maintain any con- no country had ever acted so much upon a nexion between France and this country, system as that which we were now called must, in every respect, meet with his en

upon to oppose. He would hear speak of tire disapprobation. On the present oc- two great characters, both of the most casion, those who wished to support go- distinguished abilities, one of whom (Mr. vernment, must support it systematically. Fox), as having been twice secretary of If it should be requisite to carry on a war, state for foreign affairs, had a claini to where could a systematical support be the character of a statesman, and would more necessary?' War was itself a sys- certainly have proved himself a great one, tem, and for his part he had made up his even if he had never been placed in any mind not to give to ministers a layer of official situation. The subject upon which support and a layer of opposition, but to that right hon. gentleman had said much, support them systematically. Any other was France, which had lately appeared in support would be treacherous, as it would a new and dangerous light; and on this only be given to a particular measure by subject he had certainly made use of a those who, at the same time, were endea- language very different from the policy of vouring to undermine the general credit our forefathers. France had always been and character of ministry. If the present considered as the natural enemy of this state of affairs was such as to threaten not country; it was the only nation from only this country but Europe, with most which we had any thing to fear, and in serious dangers, it was necessary, in or- this point of vielv was always to be consider to avert those dangers, to adopt a dered as an object of jealousy and presystem. The present bill was itself a caution. It was the former policy of this strong proof of such a state of affairs, as country to maintain a balance of power it originated from circumstances which in opposition to France. With this view rendered it necessary to give additional it was that they made the old alliance power to the executive government. with the House of Burgundy, to which The strong measure which ministers had formerly belonged the seventeen probeen obliged to adopt sufficiently proved vinces which at present form the republic the exigence of the crisis; and the bill itself of the United provinces, and the Austrian formed part of a systematical support. Netherlands. With these provinces, in For his part, he gave credit to ministers whatever hands they were, it had been infor not meaning to betray their master, variably the policy of England to be sen.

« AnteriorContinuar »