Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

man represented invetive, however eloquent, against an individual as mere inanity, unless supported by proof.

Though defended by the Duke of Portland, Lords Stormont, Carlisle, Sandwich, and Loughborough, with all the force of their respetive talents, it was thrown out in the House of Peers. Whether the more decisive opposition that it met with in that house was owing to the Lords, from having had more time to consider its principles and effects, being convinced that it was an unjust and dangerous measure, or to some extrinsic cause, I cannot take upon me to determine. It is certain, that of the Peers (with the exception of the Duke of Richmond, Lords Thurlow and Camden, and a few more) those who were most zealous in opposing it, were not those whose talents and habits of discussion rendered them the most competent judges of great political regulations. It was understood in the House of Commons that it had been represented by authority to many Peers, that those would not be con

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

sidered as the friends of the Sovereign who voted for the bill. Resolutions of great boldness and decision were adopted, after much debate, by the house, declaring that it was derogatory to the honour of the Crown, and subversive of the Constitution of the country, to report any opinion or alledged opinion of the King on any proceeding pending in Parliament, so as to influence the votes of the members. The King determined on an entire change of Administration. The principal members were immediately dismissed from office, and a very general resignation of employments took place. Pitt was appointed Prime Minister. The majority, however, continued in favour of Opposition in the House of Commons. A series of motions was proposed and adopted, tending to prove that the Minister ought not to continue in office without the support of the House of Commons. That no one could be long Minister if thwarted by the House of Commons, is obvious; at the same time, neither law nor precedent was brought forward to prove that the continuance of a Minister in office

[ocr errors]

contrary to the approbation of the House of

Commons was unconstitutional. The King certainly, as chief executive magistrate, has a right to chuse his own Ministers, (unless under disqualifications ascertained by law) for performing any branch of the executive duties. The House of Commons have a right to impeach, on the ground of malversation in office, any of the Ministers, but not to prescribe to him in his choice of a Minister. Notwithstanding the remonstrances of the House of Commons Pitt continued in office. Although the majority was against him in the house, it was very evident that it was for him in the nation. His Majesty seeing that the opinion of the House of Commons continued contrary to his own, and conceiving it to be contrary to that of his people, determined to put it in the power of the people to manifest their approbation or disapprobation of their present representatives. By dissolving Parliament, he virtually asked this question, DID YOUR LATE REPRESENTATIVES SPEAK YOUR SENSE OR NOT? If they did, you will re-elect them; if not, you will elect

·

[ocr errors]

others. Being asked this question respecting their late representatives, the greater part of the people answered No. A very considerable majority of members friendly to Pitt was returned.

·

The new Parliament met the 18th of May, 1784. The first business which exercised the talents of Burke was a motion for preventing a scrutiny into the election of his friend Fox, at the instance of Sir Cecil Wray.

Fox, on this occasion, displayed a minute, accurate, and profound knowledge of law, which astonished the most eminent professional men on both sides. This motion was negatived, and the scrutiny proceeded.

June 14th, Burke made a motion for a representation to the King, the general object of which was to vindicate the conduct of Opposition, and to censure that of Administration. It dwelt particularly on the rectitude and expediency of the late East-India bill, and on the dreadful consequences it affirmed likely to ensue from the dissolution

of Parliament. Although Burke's speech on this occasion contained very great ingenuity, yet the main arguments were necessarily a repetition of what had been frequently urged before. The motion was negatived without a division.

Several bills were proposed by Pitt respecting India affairs, preparatory to his great plan for managing India. His bill was nearly the same as that which had been rejected by the preceding Parliament. Its principal opponents were Mr. Francis, Mr: Eden, and Fox. Burke did not enter much into its merits. It proceeded on a principle different from that of Fox,-that the affairs of the Company were not in a desperate state; that the Company were fully competent to the management of their commercial concerns. It proposed that the dominion of the territorial possessions should be placed under the controul of the Executive Government; and that a Board should be instituted for this purpose, to consist of the Ministers

« AnteriorContinuar »