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full vigour. If this example of national firmness should be followed in any future war, and we should be able to terminate the present contest in a way that might afford us a chance of having a secure interval of peace-real, genuine, not a nominal or delusive peace, for a cousiderable length of time, the operation of the sums that might be applied, as those of the sinking fund had been, would be wonderful.
Mr. Hussey declared his alarm at the term “ nominal or delusive peace," when peace at all events was so essentially requisite; and reminded the Chancellor of the Exchequer of a former assertion he had used, and of the flattering calculations he had built upon it (in which opinion he, Mr. Hussey, concurred with him at the time) that this country had every prospect of continuing long to enjoy the blessings of a profound peace.
MR. Pitt replied :-) remember the declaration to which the honourable gentleman refers. It was made by me in the year 1792. It was at a time when I proposed, what was extremely agreeable to me, a dimninution in the existing burdens of the public, and a continuation of the sum allotted to the discharge of the public debt. I did not pretend to assure the house that peace was at all events to be uninterrupted for any given number of years that would have been an extravagant and illfounded assurance-but I thought, under the then apparent obvious political circumstances of all Europe, there never appear-, ed a fairer prospect of the continuance of peace for a long interyal. That in that conjecture I was disappointed, is most undoubtedly true ; for which, however, I ought not to take shame to myself upon the suggestion of the honourable gentleman, since he himself acknowledges he was deceived also. Why were we both deceived? Because many of us beheld, with a degree of favourable feeling, the rising establishment of what was then a popular government in France, and saw principles of a pleasing nature in their appearance, but the extent of which, and the views of their professors, were not then developed-principles which professed economy at home, and peace abroad. We did not then see the seeds of that wide-spread harvest which has siuce been reaped; of that unbounded ambition abroad, and pro
fligate profusion and plunder at home. What then is the inference? Because I thought that there was a prospect of peace in 1792, when appearances were in its favour, was I to conclude that I should be disappointed by a subsequent appearance of ambition, turbulence, and phrenzy? Are we to say now, that we ought to have scruples in opposing that violence ? that we are not to judge of present as well as past appearances ? I am as impatient for the hour of peace as that honourable gentleman, or as any man in this house, or in this country. I have as much reason as any man in this country can have, for wishing to see peace return, when it is accompanied by security. But when I say, I do not wish to see a “ nominal and delusive peace,” it is because I value peace. I do not wish to have peace proclaimed for a moment, in order to unnerve your strength, to slacken your efforts, to disband your force, to expose you to sudden and violent hostility, without your present means of defence, or any effectual resistance. Should peace be proclaimed without security,
, you may indeed have a peace that is nominal and delusive. I wish, for the benefit of Europe I wish, for the benefit of the world at large, and for the honour of mankind, as well as for the happiness of the people of France, although now your enemies, but who are objects of compassion-I wish, I say, that the present spirit of their rulers, and the principles they cherish, may be extinguished, and that other principles may prevail there. But whether they do so or not, is more immediately their concern than ours. It is not to any alteration in that country, but to the means of security in this, that I look with anxiety and
I wish for peace, whether their principles be good or bad; but not to trust to their forbearance. Our defence should be in our own hands. In that we shall find the bulwark of our safety against France, whatever may be the pride, ambition, or animosity of that power against us, and which it has' manifested in almost all the periods of its history; and I agree with what has been lately said, that its tone was never higher than it is at present. Certainly much depends upon the posture in which you converse of peace. What is the real foundation of the strength
of a nation? Spirit, security, and conscious pride, that cannot stoop to dishonour. It comprehends a character that will neither offer nor receive an insult. Give me peace consistently with that principle, and I will not call it a peace “ nominal or delusive;" and there is no man who will go farther than I will to obtain it. To any thing dishonourable I will never submit; nor will this country ever submit to it, I trust. There can be no man who has an English heart within his bosom who can wish it; or can wish that you may, by an untimely diminution of your strength, expose yourselves to the renewal, with aggravated insults, of those evils which we have already had too much reason to deplore.
December 14, 1797.
On a motion for the second reading of the bill for increasing the assesscd taxes, a long and ani nated discussion took place.
After Mr. Fox had delivered his sentiments in reprobation of the measure, MR. Puit rose :
Before I proceed to make any remark upon the wide variety of topics which the honourable gentlemen upon the other side of the house have introduced, I shall just advert to the last point on which the right honourable gentleman* insisted. The other parts of his speech were directed against the whole of the measure in substance, but in the latter part he separately urged the propriety of delay. The right honourable gentleman founds this argument for delay upon the agitation which this question has excited in the public mind, and the objections to which the measure is liable in its application to a great number of his constituents. I am aware, that in all great towns, particularly in the metropolis, the objections will be felt with peculiar force; but at the same time I am sensible that in the provisions of which the bill is susceptible, many modifications may be expected, many are practicable consistently with the leading principle of the measure, and many are necessary in
order, as far as possible, to prevent it from bearing hard in particular instances. I am aware even that greater modifications may be necessary than appeared to me requisite upon the first consideration of the subject, and when the first imperfect outline of it was presented. This, however, does not by any means tend to impeach the general principle of the measure. These objections are capable of modification without defeating the salutary object, which it is the purpose of the measure to secure. Instead of feeling these objections as completely destructive of the principle, every hour's reflection convinces me, that though it is our duty to enquire in what respects modification may be proper, how it may be practicable, how mitigation may be given so as to prevent any oppressive application of the measure, yet as to the general necessity of providing for the public safety, and repelling the danger by which we are threatened, on the determination we shall form upon this question after mature discussion depends, whether by the exertions we have pledged ourselves to make, we shall rescue the country from impending calamity, and lay the foundation of as great a portion of future greatness and prosperity as any nation ever enjoyed, or whether we shall surrender the dignity of the British nation, and expose to inevitable ruin the sources of its glory and its power. Feeling as the representatives of the people, that it is our duty to provide for these important and essential objects, we shall be deterred by no difficulties, we shall spare no pains, we shall sacrifice every local prejudice, every partial opinion, to a consciousness of the necessity in which we are placed, to make a vigorous exertion. Feeling as I do that necessity, I know my duty too well not to persist in what I conceive to be a nieasure calculated to save the country from the present danger, and to enable it to struggle against future attacks. It is our first duty, as guardians, to provide for its present safety, and to transinit to posterity the blessings which we have enjoyed, and the means of preserving them. It is by these considerations that our conduct ought to be directed; it is by these great maxims of policy that the measure ought to be judged.
Can we then conceive it our duty, on account of some particular objections of some alleged hardship of application, to hang up the bill altogether before its provisions have been discussed, before its details have been arranged ? Must we forego the opportunity of suggesting the case where the evil would be felt, of removing prejudice where it exists, and obviating objections. where they are well-founded? Instead of agreeing to any delay, both in real respect to those who complain of the hardship with which the bill in its present shape would attach, and in duty to the public, for whose service in this important crisis we are called upon to provide, we ought to lose no time to examine the bill with the utmost attention, and see where the pressure which it would occasion may be mitigated. What are the particulars and extent of the farther modifications which it may still be necessary to introduce, it will not be incumbent upon me now to state. It will be recollected that, when I first opened the subject, I stated that, as a visible criterion of income, I preferred the payment of the assessed taxes, because it was more comprehensive, better calculated to diffuse the burden, and more susceptible of modification in the various classes where it would be required, than any other criterion which could be taken. It will be recollected, not by the honourable gentleman,* who had thought it proper to absent himself from his attendance in parliament, but it will be recollected by the house, that one great recommendation of this criterion I stated to be, that the principle being still preserved, it furnished greater means of modification, more opportunity for providing for the particular cases of hardships and inconvenience, than any other criterion which could be adopted. The means of this modification are now in our power, and we shall but perform our duty to our constituents, by shewing our readiness to consider the inconvenience, and to apply the remedy. That many
modifications are necessary I am aware, and in the committee, both those which I may propose, and which others may suggest, will be considered. This I trust will be a sufficient answer to what fell from a worthy aldermant
* Mr. Fox.
+ Alderman Lushington.