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was sorry to differ in opinion with the noble contractor in the blue ribbon, the right honourable privy counsellor contractor, and the rest of the honourable contractors on the other side the House, who had delivered their sentiments in oposition to the motion. He took the iberty of rising to declare his hearty concurrence with the very respectable and eloquent members near him, who, with so much power and persuasion, had delivered to the House unanswerable arguments for giving their assent to bring in the Bill. That, having mentioned the noble lord as the head of the contractors, he would take the liberty of instancing one example of it in very few words to the House. He said, that noble lord was the greatest of all contractors; he was a contractor for men; a contractor for your flock, Mr. Speaker, Laddressing himself to the Chair] a contractor for the representatives of the people; that noble lord proposed to give
place of 1,000l. a year, o a noble duke would prevail on the most insignificant member in that House to vacate his seat in parliament. The noble duke behaved like a man upon the occasion; like a friend, like a brother; he rejected the villainous proposition that noble lord had the assurance to make. He then told the House, he was not acquainted with
2nd of June 1780 went to the House of Commons, to present their petition, attended b about 60,000 of the petitioners. The dreadful consequences of this measure are well known. Lord George was imprisoned in the Tower, on the 9th June, and tried for High 'Treason, but acquitted on the 4th Feb. 1781. On the 4th May 1786 he was excommunicated by the archbishop of Canterbury, for not appearing in court as a witness in a cause. In Feb. and June 1787 he was tried before the court of King’s-bench, for publishing libels on the queen of France, the French embassador, and the empress of Russia; and also for a seditious amphlet. Being convicted of these charges, F. on the 25th of June, went over to Holland, where he turned Jew, and was circumcised; but, returning to England in August, he was apprehended on the 7th Dec. at Birmingham; and on the 28th Jan. 1788 was sentenced to imprisonment for five years, and to continue in gaol till he should find bail for his good be. haviour in 10,000l. Not being able to find bail at the end of that period to the extent required, this operated as a sentence of imprisonment for life. In July 1789, he prèsented a petition to the national assembly of France, and was visited by several eminent revolutionists. He died 1st Nov. 1793 of a fever, attended with delirium, in the 43rd year of his age. f
the noble lord; he had never spoke to him; he had never the honour of being introduced to him; but he sincerely wished him to save his country and his own life. He desired him to call off his butchers and ravagers from the colonies; to retire with the rest of his Majesty's evil advisers from the public government, and make way for homest and wiser counsellors; to turn from his wickedness and live; it was not yet too late to repent; the public clamour for revenge was not yet raised against him; his Majesty’s troops were not yet totally defeated in America. Lord North denied that the proposition the noble lord had alluded to was a villainous proposition; and objected to the word villainous, as highly unparliamentary and improper. Lord George Gordon replied, that he retracted the epithet villainous, as an unparliamentary expression; but defied the noble lord, or any man, to deny the veracity of what he had related, and left it to the breast of every member to apply an epithet more suitable to a treaty of that nature, with brother for brother.
auction, and yet government were not made of the public money. The noble bound by it to accept the offer of the lowest lord in the blue ribbon had declared, that bidder; therefore, he thought the Act he did not wish to see contracts given to would be nugatory. Contracts had been members of parliament : but his words in usage for many years, and were consic and actions had not corresponded, as he dered by the wisest administration as the had shewn an extraordinary avidity to get wisest way of serving the public; it was, contracts into his hands, particularly one therefore, unfair that members of that for hiring ships; when he had stepped out House should be excluded from their of his own department into that of the share in a fair mercantile practice till it Navy-board, which was somewhat hurtful had been proved upon them that they had to the public, as the business had been made an unworthy use of the indulgence. always carried on there by public bidding, A committee was sitting, employed in the and no complaint had ever been made. examination of the contracts now in The noble lord told the House, that the existence. It would be prejudicing the Navy-board had excused themselves from contractors to do any thing against them this contract, as being too full of business. before the report from that committee was It was true they did refuse it; it was put to made. He could not suppose that con- them in a way to insure their refusal; the tracts created any undue influence in the noble lord wished them to refuse it, and House any more than sinecure places put the question to them as an old man (which, by the bye, he supposed no man puts a question to a fine woman, in making on either side of the House would agree her to say yes, and wishing nothing so to exclude); and the legislature, by too much as to have her say no. The noble lerating the latter, had determined it to be lord's wishes prevailed; and how did it no prejudice.
answer to the public? Why, one of these Sir P. J. Clerke said, the noble lord had ships carried out to America 100 wheelvery justly stated the principle of the Bill, barrows, one smith's forge, and a pair of which was to prevent any undue influence bellows, for which the nation paid 1,3001. in that House by members holding bene. The object of the Bill was to take care ficial contracts under government, and also that the public should not be defrauded to guard against an improper expenditure out of that money which they so liberally of the public money. If the conduct of granted to defend the nation ; and he the majority of that House for the two could not conceive that any member could preceding years was adverted to, there be so regardless of the interest of his conwould appear to be too much reason to stituents as to say they should be. He apprehend, that some improper influence therefore hoped that, for the honour and had prevailed; how else could it be accredit of the House, the Bill would pass.' counted for, that a great number of gen- ! Sir Edward Astley observed to the noble tlemen should uniformly pursue measures lord (Nugent), that though he might call of force and violence, should declare they it prejudging the contractors to enter on would never consent to a peace with Ame- the business before the House, till the rerica while there was a ship that could port from the select committee was made, swim, or a soldier carry a musket ? Others he assured him, as he was one of that declare they would bring them on their committee, that the report would suffiknees ; others talk of starvation ; and every ciently prove the necessity of the Bill. one of those gentlemen, above two hun. | The noble lord had thrown out a kind of dred, in one morning, in one half hour, all reflection on the House at large, by saychange their opinions, confess themselves | ing they would not wish on either side to to have been in an error, and all adopt a preclude pensioners and placemen from new conduct, and submit to become sup- seats. He declared he, for his own part, pliants for that favour which, when they wished such a motion was made, as he had the power, they with so much haughti would be happy if every placeman and ness refused to grant. Such a versatility 1 pensioner was shut out, and he would of conduct could not possibly be ascribed zealously espouse such a motion. to a sudden general conviction ; no man Mr. IVombwell objected to the motion, with a grain of sease could imagine it was. | because he believed putting up contracts When it has been already proved, that one to sale, would be prejudicial to the public man got more than 35,0001. above the service. Men inadequate to the accomordinary profit on one contract, it was un plishment of the contracts, would at all necessary to say that an ill use had been times bid lower than men of ability and
reputation, and they would do much more injury by serving the public badly, than the difference of expence. He had seen instances of it in the contracts of the East India Company, and those of so fatal a nature, that he could not agree to the motion. Gentlemen unacquainted with business, and of little consequence in the eye of the public, might move for reformations in every department of government. Mr. T. Townshend called him to order, and said, a gentleman rises in his seat, who holds a contract himself from government, and in the assembly of the nation dares to call the mover of a question, one of the most independent members of the House, a man of no consequence. He would give that hon. gentleman to understand, that the gentleman referred to, in better times than the present, merited a seat in that House, while others ought to stand at the bar. Mr. Wombwell resented the insinuation, and after explaining what he had said, added, that the hon. gentleman had not made a pertinent, but a very impertinent conclusion from it. He explained his own contract to the House. Earl Nugent observed, that the hon. gentleman had meant no affront by the expression. The House would remember he was a merchant, and “a man of no consequence' was a mercantile phrase, and meant no more than a man unknown upon *Change. [This created a laugh, and quieted the House.] Sir W. Gordon condemned both sides of the House, panegyrised both sides of the House, sided with neither side of the House. He had come into parliament with a determination to be a patient hearer; his patience was exhausted, and he was determined to turn speaker. The conduct of the House was intolerable, he knew not where to place himself. If on the ministry side, he should be called by the opposition a pensioner; if on the opposition, he should be called by the ministry a factious man. The conduct of the House rendered his opinion of mankind day by day worse; and yet he believed both parties voted from a principle of honesty, and a conviction of rectitude. |
Mr. Byng observed, that the crowded appearance of the House, no doubt, gave the ministerial phalanx ground for hope, that they would not be again defeated in this favourite point. He knew what miserable arts had been used to collect the
ranks, but he trusted they would be a third time routed. The Treasury message cards had been circulated upon this occasion with rather too much notoriety; even the hour of appointment had come to the ears of people not called on the occasion. I twas cautiously done, however, to mention the hour, that the minister might not again, if he chose to oppose numbers for want of argument to the question, be worsted. He hoped the Bill would pass. Lord George Gordon. I rise to declare my happiness in concurring with the ver respectable baronet on the floor, who wit a laudable zeal for the credit of the House, has this day moved the commitment of the Contractors' Bill. It meets with my hearty approbation, as being one of the many steps absolutely necessary to be taken towards regaining the confidence and respect of the people to the privileges of parliament. I confess, at the same time, it is an Herculean labour the hon. member has undertaken: for I think the cleansing king Augeas's stable from the filth and dirt of 3,000 oxen, for the space of thirtynine years, in the course of a day, was a mere play and pastime, compared to the arduous task of restoring this House to its ancient and original purity. Though the hon. baronet is not quite so strong as Hercules, he is supported in his endeavour of to-day by truth, justice, and good policy: which, added to his own abilities, with that great respect which every member in this House, as well as his countrymen at large, entertain for his intentions to promote the welfare of the public, will, I hope, induce a very great majority to approve his present proposition. Sir, this dunghill of contracts has given an ill air to our whole proceedings. It
has got wind abroad, and proves very of
fensive to the public nostrils; our constituents begin to smell a rat; they nose us in the lobby, and call us (with more truth, I am afraid, than politeness) taylors and shoemakers; colliers and cabbage-salters, potatoe-forestallers,sour-crout-makers, and swine contractors. Our mace is tarnished with this dunghill; our authority choaked, and the dignity, reputation, and fair name of the Commons are smothered, and sinking in porter and salted-cabbage, shoes, sour-crout, and potatoes. Foh, Mr. Speaker what a nauseous banquet have the Treasury invited their friends from their pleasant gardens and villas in the country to partake of in the month of May 1. An hon, member (Mr. A. Bacon) one of the most ancient contractors within these walls, and, as I am told, a considerable merchant in the city, has mentioned that contracting in this House was the very spirit of trade. So I believe it is; and the noble lord in the blue ribbon may possibly find, when the day of trouble and adversity shall arrive, that that very spirit of profit, which induced Inkle to sell Yarico, may tempt some few steady friends of his prosperity to contract for, and furnish out the black cloth and scaffolding at their unhappy patron’s execution.
Mr. Serjeant Adair said, he was certain, that among the merchants of London, many might be found as adequate to the execution of a contract as any member of that House; yet he was sensible, that in case of a competition he wifo had a seat would be preferred; and this created a fair conclusion, that contracts were beneficial to the minister. He would wish that a clause, however, were inserted into the Bill, preserving the present contractors from its tendency; they had made their treaties before its existence, and it ought not to be of an er post facto nature. He recurred to what a noble lord said in the outset of the debate, that pensioners and placemen ought to be excluded, as well as contractors. He from his heart thought so, and was sincerely of opinion, that there never would be an independent House of Commons until such an event should take place.
Governor Pownall was for going into a committee; because the sense of the House had already been twice taken upon it, and a respectable majority having both times appeared in favour of it, he thought there was an indecency upon a small majority to refuse sending the Bill to a committee.
The question being put, That the Speaker do now leave the chair, the House divided :
5 Sir Cecil Wray - - - Nors;R. Elwes - - - - .#10) So it was resolved in the affirmative. The Bill was consequently lost.
PRoceed INGs IN THE CoMMons on the IRish TRADE Bills.”] April 2.
* “The distresses of Ireland had long been an object of regret, even with many of those who had no particular interest in that country. Without entering into the causes from which these originated, it will be sufficient to observe, that they had grown to their present alarming and deplorable state under the unhappy consequences of the American war; so that the country became unequal to the support of that great establishment, with which it had (perhaps too inconsiderately) encumbered itself, when the flourishing state of all other parts of the British empire, had diffused a considerable degree of prosperity even thither. This state of affairs became now so notorious, and the consequences were said to be so urgent, that the ministers were at length convinced of the necessity of paying attention to them; and of affording some immediate satisfaction to the feelings, if not an entire redress to the grievances of that people.” Annual Register.
The following LETTERs will be found to throw much light on the subject of these Bills:
Two LETTERs from Mr. Burke, to Gentlemen in the City of Bristol, on the Bills depending in Parliament relative to the Trade of Ireland, 1778.
To Samuel Span, esq. Master of the Society of Merchants Adventurers of Bristol.
Sir; I am honoured with your letter of the 13th, in answer to mine, which accompanied the Resolutions of the House relative to the trade of Ireland.
You will be so good as to present my best respects to the Society, and to assure them, that it was altogether unnecessary to remind me of the interest of the constituents. I have never regarded any thing else, since I had a seat in parliament. Having frequently and maturely considered that interest, and stated it to myselfin almost every point of view, I am persuaded, that, under the present circumstances, I cannot more effectually pursue it, than by giving all the support in my power to the propositions which I lately transmitted to the hall.
The fault I find in the scheme is, that it falls extremely short of that liberality in the commercial system, which, I trust, will one day be adopted. If I had not considered the present resolutions, merely as preparatory to better things, and as a means of shewing experimentally, that justice to others is not always folly to ourselves, I should have con: tented myself with receiving them in a cold and silent acquiescence. Separately considered,
the conduct of Great Britain towards the sister kingdom had been no less impolitic than unjust, and that the present situation of public affairs called particularly on this country to enter into a revision of the Irish trade laws.
Earl Nugent moved, “That this House will, upon Tuesday morning next, resolve itself into a committee of the whole House, to take into consideration the several acts of parliament relating to the Trade and Commerce of Ireland.” He observed that
they are matters of no very great importance. But they aim, however imperfectly, at a right principle. I submit to the restraint to appease prejudice: I accept the enlargement, so far as it goes, as the result of reason and of sound policy. We cannot be insensible of the calamities which have been brought upon this nation by an obstinate adherence to narrow and restrictive plans of government. I confess, I cannot prevail on myself to take them up, precisely at a time, when the most decisive experience has taught the rest of the world to lay them down. The propositions in question did not originate from me, or from my particular friends. But when things are so right in themselves, I hold it my duty, not to enquire from what hands they come. I opposed the American uneasures upon the very same principle on which I support those that relate to Ireland. I was convinced, that the evils which have arisen from the adoption of the former, would be infinitely aggravated by the rejection of the latter. Perhaps gentlemen are not yet fully aware of the situation of their country, and what its exigencies absolutely require. I find that we are still disposed to talk at our ease, and as if all things were to be regulated by our good pleasure. I should consider it as a fatal symptom, if, in our present distressed and adverse circumstances, we should persist in the errors which are natural only to prosperity. One cannot indeed sufficiently lament the continuance of that spirit of delusion, by which, for a long time past, we have thought fit to measure our necessities by our inclinations. Moderation, prudence, and equity, are far more suitable to our condition, than lostiness, and confidence, and rigour. We are threatened by enemies of no small magnitude, whom, if we think fit, we may despise, as we have despised others; but they are enemies, who can only cease to be truly formidable, by our entertaining a due respect for their power. Our danger will not be lessened by our shutting our eyes to it; nor will our force abroad be increased by rendering ourselves feeble, and divided at home. There is a dreadful schism in the British nation. Since we are not able to re-unite the empire, it is our business to give all possible vigour and soundness to those parts of it which are still content to be governed by our councils. Sir, it is proper to inform you, that our measures must be healing. Such a degree of strength must be communicated to all the members of the state, as may enable them to defeud themselves, and to co-operate in the defence of the whole. Their temper too must be managed, and their good affections cultivated.
They may then be disposed to bear the load with cheerfulness, as a contribution towards what may be called with truth and propriety, and not by an empty form of words, a common cause. Too little dependence cannot be had, at this time of day, on names and prejudices. The eyes of mankind are opened; and communities must be held together by an evident and solid interest. God forbid, that our conduct should demonstrate to the world, that Great Britain can, in no instance whatsoever, be brought to a sense of rational and equitable policy, but by coercion and force of arms ? I wish you to recollect, with what powers of concession, relatively to commerce, as well as to legislation, his Majesty's commissioners to the united colonies have sailed from England within this week. Whether these powers are sufficient for their purposes, it is not now my business to examine. But we all know, that our resolutions in favour of Ireland are trifling and insignificant, when compared with the con. cessions to the Americans. At such a juncture, I would implore every man who retains the least spark of regard to the yet remaining honour and security of this country, not to compel others to an imitation of their conduct; or by passion and violence, to force them to seek in the territories of the separation, that freedom, and those advantages, which they are not to look for whilst they remain under the wings of their ancient government. After all, what are the matters we dispute with so much warmth P Do we in these resolutions bestow any thing upon Ireland f Not a shilling. We . consent to leave to them, in two or three instances, the use of the natural faculties which God has given to then, and to all mankind. Is Ireland united to the crown of Great Britain for no other purpose, than that we should counteract the bounty of Providence in her favour? And in proportion as that bounty has been liberal, that we are to regard it as an evil, which is to be met with in every sort of corrective? To say that Ireland interferes with us, and therefore must be checked, is, in my opinion, a very mistaken, and a very dangerous principle. I must beg leave to repeat, what I took the liberty of suggesting to you in my last letter, that Ireland is a country, in the same climate, and of the same natural qualities and productions, with this ; and has consequently no other means of growing wealthy in herself, or in other words, of being useful to us, but by doing the very same things which we do, for the same purposes. I hope that in Great Britain we shall always pursue, without exception, every means of prosperity, and of course, that lieland will interfere with us in