Sayfadaki görseller
PDF
ePub

the privations of sugar and coffee retarded the march of the troops of Bonaparte, or diminished the evils of Europe ? Conscious of the impotence of the anger of America, Buonaparte disregards her complaints, and disdainfully refuses her friendship. It is absurd to tell America to compel France, commanded by that superior man of mischief, to revoke her decrees. You have driven America into strong measures; you have driven her into habits of indisposition towards you. If America is indisposed, I lament it. She is so to her own interest and safety. Who is in fault? - those who want again to force her to submit to your taxation; a word at all times most odious to the ear of an American. And to dream of compelling her to waft her produce across the Atlantic for that purpose,

is a. project as monstrous as unattainable. Thus we at the same moment compel all Europe to arm against us, and shaking off, most contemptuously, our natural friend, America, compel her not only to join the phalanx of our enemies, but to adopt those habits of industry, by which one important pillar will be taken from under the fabric of our commercial greatness. You have fidgetted yourselves by a restless incapacity, out of the affections of America, whom you force from the natural state of a young country to anticipate the efforts of maturity. So that you make the enemy a nation of soldiers, and America a nation of manufacturers; and thus do all you can to enable the one to beat, and the other to starve you. The destruction of the commerce of America were bad, but giving her to France is much worse. Your measures lead directly to that deadly and destructive effect. The true cause is false pride and passion operating on false politics, destitute alike of wisdom and dignity. Your conduct has been marked by jealousy and envy of the petty commerce of infant states. America is accused unjustly of partiality to France, for it cannot be that America does not love liberty. Has the conduct of England been such, that not only the atrocious plunder and subjugation of France, the enslavement of Holland, the various innumerable acts of rapacity of Buonaparte, and, above all, his horrid policy with respect to Spain, have not exasperated the minds of the Americans in so great a degree as the incapable policy of England ? Thiş is a most fearful reflection ! Shall it be said, that our restless and dominating oppressions have been such as to make even a free people lose their reverence for liberty, and treat you with absolute indifference? The strength of this country does not lie in imposing privations on others, in depriving the continent of Europe of luxuries; it lies entirely in the integrity, spirit, and extent of your commerce. On that is founded your

[ocr errors]

naval empire, that true pillar of your greatness. Your little paltry envy of the growing prosperity of infant states is unworthy of the dignity and power of this mighty empire for such it is. Suffer them to enjoy that prosperity ; let them gradually increase; your interests are in common. Instead of the petty rival, assume the character of the firm and dignified protector. By playing a paltry, petty game for an annual revenue of about 100,0001., you lost it. This deprived you of one of the greatest portions of the globe. If you play the little game again, you will lose your empire; you will lose every thing. America can never be jealous of your navy, because she can only be something by land, by your being every thing by sea; assert your own dignity, despise the idea of monopoly, let liberality guide your counsels, and, remembering the loss of America, be not so infatuated as to cast away the friendship of that natural friend, and throw her into the arms of France.

Mr. Canning and M. G. Rose opposed the motion.

On a division, the numbers were, for the address 83, against it 145; Majority 62. Tellers for the Ayes, The Earl Temple and Mr. Eden.

Noes, Sir George Hill and Mr. Sturges Bourne.

SALE OF SEATS IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS.

MOTION OF LORD ARCHIBALD HAMILTON, TO CENSURE LORD

CASTLEREAGH, FOR AN AGREEMENT TO DISPOSE OF A WRITER-
SHIP IN INDIA FOR THE PURCHASE OF A SEAT IN THE HOUSE
OF COMMONS.

April 25. 1809.
ON this day, Lord Archibald Hamilton stated, that from the

evidence taken before the committee on East India abuses, it appeared that a corrupt agreement had been entered into between Lord Castlereagh, Lord Člancarty, and a person of the name of Reding. From the evidence of Lord Castlereagh, it was proved, that he had placed a writership at Lord Clancarty's disposal, in order that Lord Clancarty might obtain a seat in Parliament; that Lord Castlereagh had seen and communicated with Mr. Reding on the subject. Mr. Reding's evidence states, that upon this, he had a conversation with a Mr. Davies, the purport of which was, “ That one party wanted a sum of money, the other party was to give a seat in Parliament, and that the money was to go in this sort of negotiation.” He contended, that the offence was the greater, as Lord Castlereagh had been President of the Board of Control; that he was at the time, one of the Secretaries of State; and that Lord Clancarty was also a member of the same board ; that the object of that body, as well as the duty of the minister, was to

prevent the misapplication of the patronage of the crown, and particularly so with respect to the election of members of Parliament; that by a resolution of the House of Commons, of the 10th of December 1779, it was declared to be," highly criminatory in any minister or ministers, or any other servant under the crown of Great Britain, directly or indirectly, to use the powers of office in the election of members to serve in Parliament; and an attempt at such influence will at all times be resented by this House as aimed at its own honour, dignity, and independence, as an infringement of the dearest rights of every subject throughout the empire, and tending to sap the basis of our free and happy constitution." He concluded by moving, 66 That the evidence taken before the committee on East India abuses of Lord Viscount Castlereagh, the Earl of Clancarty, Mr. Reding, and Mr. Davies, be now read.”

The clerk read the evidence, and Lord Castlereagh, before he withdrew, rose to make some observations in reply. He denied that he had in any instance made use of the patronage of the crown for the purpose of political considerations, or in order to obtain an undue influence in the House ; he was anxious that Lord Clancarty should get a seat in Parliament, but the bartering of a writership for it was never his intention : he declared, that he was not influenced by an interested or corrupt motive; that, as a minister, he had a right to give the persons who supported government every assistance that his official situation and duty allowed. Lord Castlereagh having retired, Lord Archibald Hamilton then proposed the following resolutions :

1st, That it appears to this House, from evidence on the table, that Lord Viscount Castlereagh, in the year 1805, he being then President of the Board of Control, a privy councillor, and Secretary of State, did place at the disposal of Lord Clancarty, a member of the said board, the nomination of a writership to India, for the purpose of thereby procuring the said Lord Clancarty a seat in this honourable House.

2d, That it was owing to a disagreement among other subordipate parties to the transaction that this corrupt negotiation did not take effect.

3d, That Lord Viscount Castlereagh has been by the said conduct guilty of a violation of his duty, of an abuse of his influence and authority as President of the Board of Control, and also of an attack upon the purity and constitution of this House.

The resolutions were opposed by Lord Binning, Mr. Percival, Mr. Bankes, Mr. Manners Sutton, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Croker, and Mr. Canning. They contended that the offence of the noble lord was in its nature only in intention, and was never completed ; that it did not merit such a severe punishment as would follow from the motion, which would compel the noble lord to resign his situation. The resolutions were supported by Mr. W. Wynne, Lord Milton, Mr. William Smith, Mr. Ponsonby, Mr. Whitbread, Sir Francis Burdett, and Mr. Tierney. They maintained, that this was a high offence against the constitution, and that it was in direct violation of a resolution on their journals. When Mr. Hamlin had been pro

1

secuted for offering a bribe to Lord Sidmouth, and Mr. Beasley was suffering for a similar proceeding towards the Duke of Portland, it was not possible to pass over the present offence. Political intrigues of this sort had been carried on to a great extent in the sister country, (Ireland,) and under their auspices the noble lord commenced his political career. That this question was intimately connected with a reform in Parliament, and vitally affected the independence of the House; it was also said, that they should remember the words of Lord Chatham, “ That if the House did not reform itself from within, it would be reformed with a vengeance from without.” Lord Binning moved the order of the day ; Mr. Canning proposed as an amendment, “ That it is the duty of this House to maintain a jealous guard over the purity and independence of Parliament; but that this House duly weighing the evidence before it, and all the circumstances of the case, and considering that the intention referred to in that evidence, was not carried into effect, this House does not think it necessary to come to a criminatory resolution on the same.”

Mr. GRATTAN said: that it seemed to be generally admitted that an offence had been committed. The offence too was of that sort, the principle of which went to affect that House in its privilege, and the country in its constitution; but then in this, as in every other, there were degrees, and the punishment should be consonant to the degree. The noble viscount was on his trial, and the House was bound to go through that trial with judicial temper rather than any spirit of prosecutionary violence; and it was upon this principle that he could not approve of going back to the political proceedings in which the noble viscount had such a share in effecting the mensure of union with Ireland. He could bardly think it fair to charge that noble lord upon one issue, and to try him

upon another.

He thought, therefore, that in entertaining the present charge they were to look to it only. And, in the first instance, he must do justice to the noble lord. He liked the candid manner in which he had made his statement. His defence, such as it was, was frank and well judged, for there, was throughout a decent respect for constitutional principles. This much he said in justice to the noble lord; but then what had the noble lord confessed ? that he had evaded a great principle of the constitution; but that he had not so evaded it with a view to attack the constitution, but with a view to accommodate a friend: an offence in either case; but, in either, the motives were so widely different, as to put a marked distinction between the offences in both. At the same time, the attack upon the constitution was direct, but then it did not, as it stood,seem to be one of a series. There did not appear

any evidence of a system; it stood: alone; and looking at it so, it did appear to him, as if the noble viscount at the time when he was guilty of that offence, was not aware of its extent; but still the offence called for the animadversion of that House. The purchasing of a seat in that House was considered such an offence, that the bare mention of it was disorderly; at least, to state it as a fact was so. The House, then, could not now pass over with indifference proofs of such an offence; an offence that went most against its dignity, by soiling the purity of that source which constituted its dignity, by centreing its character in its creation. It was selling what was not to be sold, and buying what was not to be bought ; it was making the legislative executive; and more than that, making the executive legislative, and both undermine the government they were constituted to sustain. It was making all the parts conspire against one another, and break off from the common centre that made them strong in their common union. An offence coming under the order of such offences could not be overlooked by that House.

But the offence of the noble lord was not single; he had offended, not only as a minister of the country, but as a President of the Board of Control; as a minister he ought not to have sought to purchase a seat in that House; as a Pre-, sident of the Board of Control, he ought not to have proffered a writership for that seat. Here, then, there was a complicated crime. Suppose even this abuse was not unusual; for that reason the House ought now to interpose, and not allow a minister of the crown to employ public property (for offices were public property) in such a way for any private end whatever. It was idle to draw a distinction; that made the offence worse, by making it more alarming. Government, it was said, had a right to use its patronage in its own support. Then why not all patronage? civil, military, ecclesiastic ? and for what was any government to be allowed the right of calling forth all its patronage on this specious principle of self-defence? Why, to model the Parliament to the government all this was to be done to new-model the Parliament.

The House had upon a late instance shown a laudable jealousy of corrupt practices; how could they now reconcile that jealousy with a connivance at this principle ? Were the ministers to be permitted, that which would be criminal in any individual, and that, too, on the principle that their power might not be weakened; the power that perhaps gaye the nerve to their abuses. This was to dread the streamlets of corruption, and at the same time to brave its inundation.

« ÖncekiDevam »