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with friends, who, adopting his principle of secession, have not, in the desire of their constituents, the same motive for his particular exception? Can any thing shew in a stronger light the blind acquiescence of party zeal, when, in defiance of every avowed principle of their public conduct, they now attend to add to the splendour of their leader's entry?
There is one point in the constitution of this country, in which difference of opinion arises, namely, concerning the instructions of constituents to their representatives. Some think themselves bound to obey them, whatever their individual opinion may be on the subject. Others thinking those instructions intitled to their respect, yet follow the dictates of their own consciences. Of this latter class the right honourable gentleman professes himself to be. According, therefore, to his own admission, he now attends in spite of his own opinion of the expediency of secession, to discuss the local interest of his constituents. He, nevertheless, declined attending in that stage of the bill in which alone he could be of service in that particular, by proposing reliefs for the particular hardships his constituents might sustain ; and now, without noticing the modifications made, he objects to other particulars, without suggesting or moving any remedy! He came here to oppose its local and partial effect, yet indulges only in a general and indiscriminate opposition to it; and professing to come for the express purpose of discussing this bill, he introduces every topic that has been decided during the long period of his absence! The house must therefore decide in what spirit, and for what real purpose he now appears. Nothing that he has said can be understood as touching in any degree the question now before us. He may, indeed, be said to reproach his Majesty's ministers, but can with no propriety be said to speak to the subject for which his constituents directed him to attend.
With respect to many objections urged in the course of the debate, I must say, in general, that if gentlemen had attended in the proper stage of the bill, they would have leard them answered. It is not that the objections are unanswerable, but they
have not heard the answers that have been given, by neglecting to attend when it was their duty to be present. Upon the question of a great and unusual exertion, no doubt is made; all agree that is indispensable. Now, if this is to be made, the next inquiry is, in what manner is it to be done? From whence arises this secondary question, whether it is to be done in the osual mode of raising supplies, or by raising a considerable proportion of the sum requisite for the current services within the year? Upon this latter question the right honourable gentleman is dubious; his honourable friend* thinks that a sum should be raised by a great exertion within the year. There is one objection to the present plan not easy to comprehend, namely, that by this mode of exertion I only relieve the stocks so as to affect a few particular friends of ministers; for 'the old stockholders, who bought in before the war, it is said, cannot be hurt, inasmuch as they manifest an intention of retaining their capital and receive the same interest; therefore no depreciation of the funds can affect them. This, however, is a very fallacious and defective view of the subject; for property, the nature of which is transferable, must always depend on the value of that transfer? Is it nothing to prevent the depreciation of 200,000,0001. in capital, or can that be said to affect only a few particular friends of a minister? If further loans are to be made for the public service, is it of no consequence whether the funds are at 40 or 48 per cent ? Does it make no difference whether
is borrowed for the public at 4, 5, Has the price of stocks no effect on commerce and agriculture, if they fall below a certain point? Acccording to this plan, it is not property that is directly taxed, but expenditure is niade the criterion of income in its application. I adınit that some inequalities will be found; but so there must in every plan of raising a considerable sum within the year, and this only forms an objection to the plan in case it can be shewn that the same sum can be raised by means less partial and irregular. There have been instances of large sums raised within the year, but in no instance by means less liable to the objection of irregularity.
* Mr. Sheridan
On the wbole, the house will decide whether they will, under the present circumstances of the country, make a great and uñ. usual-exertion to resist the enemy, or whether, on the argunients they have heard, they will suspend all defensive precautions, and leave the country open to the ruinous projects of an insolent and overbearing enemy. Notwithstanding the right honourable gentleman has intimated his intention to persevere in bis retirement, I leave this question to the house, in full confidence that they will decide on this, and on every other occasion, in such a way as most effectually to support the independence and permanent interest of the country.
The House divided, and the question for the third reading of the bill passed in the affirmative;
March 27, 1798. MR. DUydas, in pursdance of a former notice, this day moved, “That leave be given to bring in a bill to enable his Majesty more effectually to provide for the security and defence of these realms; and to indemnify persons who may suffer injury in their property by the operation of such measures.”
Mr. Pitt rose in reply to various speakers who had preceded him in the debate:
Sir, I feel myself called upon to express my astonishment at the language thrown out to night by the honourable gentleman* on the other side of the house against my honourable friend † near
I have no difficulty in saying, that it is the most unprovoked and unwarrantable attack I have ever heard made by one gentleman upon another. With respect to myself, I can easily account for what my honourable friend has said: the sentiments which he has expressed have been unquestionably dictated by the purest and most patriotic motives. He expressed his belief, that the great body of the people of this country were impatient to step forward, and carry into execution those plans which the wisdom of the legislature might adopt for the more effectual protection and safety of the kingdom; and on that ground he was desirous that any salutary plans or systems of defence, which might be proposed, should be received with unaniinity, and confirmed with the most marked and decided approbation of every member, for, in that most essential point, all are equally concerned. It is therefore rather extraordinary, because my honourable friend complained that certain members did not give their hearty support to the measures proposed to be carried into execution, with respect to the defence of the country, that the honourable gentleman on the other side of the house should get èp and make a direct and violent attack against my honourable friend, as if the honourable gentleman was convinced that the insinuation had been thrown out against himself. What it is that has so unexpectedly kindled the flame of resentment in the honourable gentleman's breast, and raised his passions to this aggression, I am at a loss to conjecture: but I must ask, has my honourable friend had no cause for throwing out any blame against certain persons this day? Has he been furnished with no ground for delivering his sentiments in the way włich he has thought proper to adopt ?
* Mr Tierney.
+ Mr. Wilberforce.
The honourable general* has certainly not been so warm in the important cause of the defence of the country as my honourable friend, and, I am confident, many others may have wished: for though he has not objected to the plan now under discussion, one may, with great consistency, suppose, that his opinion in favour of it is too lukewarm. The honourable general has said, that the operation of the plan ought to be delayed, and that has been considered as a just sentiment by one who expressed his conviction that it ought not to be delayed at all. With respect to the honourable general's opinion as to the exact manner of defending the country, or that the force of the kingdom should be collected and applied to the protection of the great towns, I will not undertake to discuss that point at present; but if be seriously entertains that opinion, it clearly forms in my mind an additional argument why we should be more eager and more san. guine in the adoption of the plan, and therefore we cannot be surprised, that my honourable friend has been induced, connecting such sentiments with the nature of the systein of defence proposed, to consider him as not sufficiently zealous in promoting the measure. The honourable general has alluded to the impracticability of driving away from the coasts the cattle of the farmers. I did not, however, understand from him, that we ought not to drive away the cattle in case of an invasion; but if he meant to say, that it should be done soon, I am the more surprised that he should entertain an opinion of that kind, because from his experience, as a military man, he ought to have known, that a measure of that peculiar nature is always expedient, and even necessary.
* General Tarleton.
As to what has been thrown out by an honourable gentleman* on the subject of 'conciliation with respect to Ireland, and the reference which he has thought proper to make in his observations on that topic to the present situation of Switzerland, I cannot help remarking, that the allusion is one of the strangest that I have ever heard made ; and my honourable friend might have been well surprised at the inference which the honourable gentleman drew from it, because the inference ought, in fact, to be directly the reverse of the conclusion which the honourable gentleman took so much pains to establish. The same honourable gențleman has reprobated, in the most pointed and unqualified terms, the present system of coercion which unfortunately has become necessary for Ireland, and has compared the state of this country with that in which Switzerland has been hitherto placed. He has endeavoured to shew that the want of unanimity among the people of that coníederacy, has produced those
* Mr. Nicholls.