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of Great Britain occasioned a long adjournment in the Irish par. liament, in order to give time for the necessary arrangements
In the mean time various rumours began to circulate, relative to some extraordinary motions in the interior of the court. It was confidently affirmed, that on the 11th of December the king signified to Lord Temple in a closet audience, his disapprobation of the India Bill, and aut orized him to declare the same to such persons as he might think fit; that a written note was put into his hands, in which his majesty declared, " That he should deem those “ who should vote for it not only not his friends, but his enemies; and that “if he (Lord Temple) could put this in stronger words, he had full authority * to do so.” Andalastly, that in consequence of this authority, communications had been made to the same purport to several peers in the upper house; and particularly to those whose offices obliged them to attend the king's person.
The circumstances, which happened on the second reading of the bill, confirmed the probability of the truth of these reports. On the division upon a question of adjournment, the ministers were left in a minority of 79 to 87.
The same day the House of Commons, on the motion of Mr. Baker, took into consideration the reports above alluded to. He stated shortly, that the public notoriety, both of the fact itself and of the effects it had produced, called on the house, which was the natural guardian of the constitution, for their immediate interference. He divided the criminality of the subject matter of the report into two parts; first the giving secret advice to the crown; and, secondly, the use, that had been made of his majesty's name, for the purpose of influencing the vote of members of parliament in a matter depend. ing before them. The first he contended was a direct and dangerous attack upon the constitution. The law declared, that the king could do. no wrong i and therefore had wisely made his ministers amenable for all the measures of his government. This was of the very essence of the constitution, which could no longer subsist, if persons unknown, and upon whom, consequently no responsibility could attach, were allowed to give secret advice to the
With regard to the second, Mr. Baker proved, from the Journals, that to make any reference to the opinion of the king, on a bill depending in either house, had always been judged a high breach of the privileges of parliament; be therefore concluded with moving,
"" That it is now necessary to “ declare, that to report any opinion, or pretended opinion, of his majesty, “ upon any bill or other proceeding depending in either house of parliament, “ with a view to iniluence the votes of the members, is a high crime and “ misdemeanor, derogatory to the honour of the crown, a breach of the funda“ mental privileges of parliament, and subversive to the constitution.”
The motion was seconded by Lord Maitland, and strongly opposed by Mr. W. Pitt, who urged the impropriety of proceeding on mere unauthenticated rumours; he concluded his speech with reproaching the ministers for their base attachment to their offices, though, upon their own state of the case, they had lost their power, and no longer possessed the confidence of their prince.
In answer to these observations, it was said to be a strong presumption of the truth of the reports, that though several members, nearly allied to the noble earl, whose name had been mentioned on this occasion, had spoken in the debate, none of them had ventured to assert they were false. After a long and warm debate the house divided, and there appeared for the motion 153, agaiust it 80. It was then resolved, “ that on Monday next the house would * resolve itself into a committee of the whole house, to take into consideration “ the present state of the nation.”
As a change of ministers appeared to be a measure determined upon by the king, and the dissolution of parliament an immediate and necessary consequence, the majority of the house thought no time was to be lost in endeavour: ing to render the attempt as difficult as possible. With this view, immediately after the above resolutions were agreed to, Mr. Erskine made the following motion, " That it is necessary to the most essential interesis of this kingdom,
for the new ministry. But on the 22d of December, * 1782, the speaker, on presenting the money bills, expressed himself as follows: “ MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY,
“ HISTORY cannot furnish many instances “ of such remarkable events, as have happened in the course of “ the last seven years; of these none are more worthy of obser
vation, than the changes in the human mind, and the more so, “ because they have been produced by causes, from which they “ were the least to have been expected. New tenets more conso“ and peculiarly incumbent on this house, to pursue with unremitting attention “ the consideration of a suitable remedy for the abuses, which have prevailed “ in the government of the British dominions in the East Indies ; and that “ this house will consider as an enemy to his country any person who shall
presume to advise his majesty to prevent, or in any manner interrupt the dis“ charge of this important duty.”
The motion was opposed, as manifestly factious, and as interfering with the executive part of government, and trenching on the undoubted prerogative of the crown without any justifiable cause. The motion was however carried by the same majority with the former.
On Wednesday the 17th of December the India Bill was rejected by the lords, on a division of 95 to 76. It was remarked, that the Prince of Wales, who was in the minority in the former division, having learned in the interim, that the measure was offensive to the king, was absent on this occasion. At twelve o'clock on the following night a messenger delivered to the two secre. taries of state his majesty's orders, “ that they should deliver up the seals of “ their offices, and send them by the under secretaries, Mr. Frazier and Mr.Ne. “pean, as a personal interview on the occasion would be disagreeable to him." The seals were immediately given by the king to Lord Temple, who sent let. ters of dismission the day following to the rest of the cabinet council: at the same time Mr. William Pitt was appointed First Lord of the Treasury, and Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Earl Gower, President of the Council. On the 221, Lord Temple resigned the seals of his office, and they were delivered to Lord Sydney, as Secretary of State for the home department, and to the Marquis of Carmarthen for the foreign. Lord Thurlow was appointed High Chancellor of Great Britain, the Duke of Rutland Lord Privy Seal, Lord Viscount Howe First Lord of the Admiralty, and the Duke of Richmond Master General of the Ordnance ; Mr. William Grenville and Lord Mulgrave succeeded Mr. Burke in the Pay-Office, and Mr. Henry Dundas was appointed to the office of Treasurer of the Navy.
On the 22d of December Mr. William Grenville begged leave to inform the house, that the noble earl to whom such frequent allusions had been lately made, had authorized bim to declare, that he was ready to meet any charge that should be made against him; and that he had thought fit to resign the seals of his office, in order to avoid the smallest suspicion of seeking for protection or shelter in the power and influence of a minister. In answer to this extraordinary notification, Mr. Fox observed, that, with respect to the propriety of the noble earl's relinquishing an office, which he had held but for three days, he was doubtless himself the fittest judge ; that as to the facts al. luded to, facts of public notoriety, and which materially affected the honour of parliament, and the safety of the constitution, he trusted the house would see the necessity of taking them into their most serious consideration : but that the secret 'nature of those transactions almost precluded the possibility of hringing a personal charge against any one,
* 11 Journ. Com. p. 182,
nant to the principles of humanity and justice, have been uni. “ versally adopted in civil and religious policy; these are the "happy but unexpected fruits of the calamities of war. In “ other countries national benefits may have compensated for “ national misfortunes: but it has been the peculiar felicity of “ this kingdom to acquire the former, without feeling the seve“ rities of the latter ; to her steady virtue she owes these attain
ments, and by her virtue I am confident she will preserve them, and transmit to posterity unimpaired the British con
stitution, the very essence of which is liberty and order. Good “ government and liberty are inseparable ; they are necessary “to and mutually support each other, and neither can exist “ without the other. The commons since the commencement 66 of this session have directed their attention to these important “ objects, which were so wisely recommended to them by your “ excellency, to improve and secure those advantages, which 6 had been acquired in the last parliament; they have also made
provision, without laying new burthens on the people, for the “honourable support of his majesty's government, and for the “ discharge of the arrears upon the establishments; and they “ have the fullest confidence, that your excellency will represent " them to his majesty as loyal, dutiful, and affectionate sub'jects.”
The revenue still continued to be unequal to the expences, and 300,000l. were ordered to be borrowed towards supplying the deficiencies; also 50,000). were to be advanced as a loan to the undertakers of the grand canal, upon security given; and 25,0001. as a loan to Captain Brooke, to support and employ the manufacturers by him established in the cotton line at Prosperous, in the county Kildare, upon his giving security for paying the interest half yearly into the treasury, and the principal at Lady-Day, 1794. These sums were to be raised upon debentures, or treasury bills, aided by one or more lotteries, at the discretion of the chief governor.
Immediately upon the change of ministry in England, Lord Northington sent in his resignation ; it was accepted on the 7th of January, and yet his successor, the Duke of Rutland, was only appointed on the 24th of February, 1784. The House of Commons had adjourned to the 20th of January, on which day they met according to adjournment, and then adjourned to the 9th of February, which was the day, to which the House of Lords had adjourned from the 22d of December. During this species of interregnum, one lord lieutenant having resigned, and his successor not having been appointed, the House of Commons met on the 9th of February, when the attorney general moved the house to adjourn to the 18th, which was opposed by Sir Lucius O'Bryen, who saw no reason, why they should
adjourn on account of the squabble of some gentlemen in Eng. land for place, at a time when the distressful situation of that country called so urgently upon their attention. Mr. Browne (of the College) opposed the adjournment and said, that all, who respected his majesty should vote against an adjournment proposed by Lord Northington, who was actually in opposition to the king: the adjournment was carried upon a division of 108 against 42. When the house met on the 18th, a long conversation took place upon Mr. John Ponsonby's motion for 3000l. to be distributed in the discretion of the lord lieutenant amongst the poor of Dublin. This brought up several members to move for proportionate relief in favour of the distressed poor of their respective boroughs, which were all negatived, except the original motion. In the course of the conversation, Sir Henry Cavendish observed, that money should be granted to set people to work, not to promote idleness: for to such a degree was that now advanced, that there might be seen twenty or thirty sturdy beggars in a knot, and they were grown so outrageous, as to offer force in some measure. He should not be surprised, if in a short time they forced people's doors, and took their property, whether they would or no.* And when the provost expressed a wish, that some general mode of giving bread to the poor could be devised, Sir Edward Newnham suggested a bill for protecting duties, which the right honourable member's ta. lents and influence could effectually secure. Then Ireland would flourish, and they would hear no more of starving manufacturers. Ready money was but a temporary relief: let the great banish foreign fopperies, and be content with home manufactures: protecting duties would be a permanent security against want in the lower order of the people: it behoved them to take those hard-working men under their peculiar protection.
The attorney general informed the house, that he had it in command from his excellency to signify to them his majesty's desire, that they should adjourn till Monday the 23d, and that an official account had arrived of the appointment of the Duke of Rutland to the government of that kingdom. Soon after which, Mr. William Brabazon Ponsonby said, that the lord lieutenant was distinguishable for many virtues, and that he was not ever outdone by any of his predecessors in office, either for integrity, humanity, or public spirit; and as his excellency was shortly to quit the government of the country, he felt it proper to move, though no more than the usual form, that an humble address be presented to the lord lieutenant, to assure his excellency, that the house learnt with the deepest regret his excellency's determination of relinquishing the government of the king
* 2 Parl. Deb. p. 358.
dom ; to assure him, that the uniform wisdom and virtue of his excellency's administration, manifested by his attention to the encouragement of agriculture, the protection and advantage of their commercial interests, and by his zeal and firmness in support of their happy constitution, intitled him to the most grateful thanks of the representatives of a free people; that they entreated his excellency to believe, that as they thankfully acknowledged his virtues, they should sincerely regret his no longer continuing to preside over them, and to request that his excellency would be pleased to add one further favour to those already received at his hands, by representing to his majesty their unshaken loyalty to his person and government, their inviolable attachment to their happy constitution, and their determined resolution to support the just rights and privileges of the commons of Ireland against all encroachments whatsoever.
Mr. Conolly seconded the motion, at the same time testifying, that Lord Northington had come over at a critical period, and yet manifested the most steady resolution in supporting the constitution and promoting the real interests of Ireland.
Sir Edward Newnham declared, he could not agree to such an address; it glanced in very disagreeable terms, on the honour and dignity of the volunteers, who saved their country in defiance of corruption. He could not thank a viceroy, under whose administration a parliamentary reform was (in the language of some members) scouted out of the house : he spoke plain English, and said, a reform of that house, for no house ever wanted it more. He would wait the issue of the present motion, to make one that would do honour to a parliament, of real independent members, which motion he had in his hand, and that was, to thank his majesty for dismissing his late ministry, a part of whom robbed the crown of half its dominions; and to thank his majesty for appointing a new ministry, in whom the people might confide, and whose principles were declared friend. ly to the much wanted parliamentary reformation.
Mr. O'Hara, after dwelling pretty much on the services the volunteers had rendered the country, and saying, that instead of the censure indirectly thrown on them by the last paragraph of the address, they deserved the utmost praises, that every friend to Ireland could bestow, moved an amendment, by expunging these words, “ we will support the just rights of the commons “ of Ireland against every encroachment whatsoever.” These, he said, were insidious words, and seemed directed to the advocates of parliamentary reform.
Mr. Griffith seconded the amendment.
Mr. Grattan observed, that Lord Northington had not been above eight months in that kingdom, and if he had not greatly diminished the national expences, he had done more than most