Imatges de pàgina

he would have found, that the objection so advanced did not apply to the landed interest, and that commercial property was as completely guarded from any dangers likely to result from a disclosure, as the nature of the case could poflibly admit of. It should also be remembered, that the bill had not been hurried through in the way imputed to it, but had undergone the most serious and minute investigation. He would undertake to say, that the previous investigation had been for strict, as to render it at present unnecellary to go into a detail of those objections which had been fully refuted in the other House. With respect to the probability which had been urged of the measure affe&ting the funds, he would ask, if it were likely to do so, why that effect had not been already produced? The noble Lord had declared, that he was averse to abstract propofitions on political subjects, yet, after making that declaration, he made no difficulty of reading extracts from a work of the very nature he condeinned. Lord Darnley concluded with obferving, that the present measure was one which their Lord'hips were called upon by the most powerful motives to sanction, as, exclusively of the great and falutary principle on which it proceeded, it was also calculated in every point of view to defeat the designs, and ruin the power of the enemy: 'It was 'now' in the hands of the House and the public; and both were 'agreed that no other could fo effettually anfwer the great object for which it was intended. Such was the light in which he saw it, and he would not waste more of their Lordships' time than while he said that it hould have his cordial support.

Lord Holland rose to explain. He said, he was perfectly fenfible that any discuffion he was able to promote would be wholly without effect: his duty, however, called upon him to ftate the objections he had urged against the measure. With regard 10 the observations he had made on the work of a noble Lord (Lord Auckland), he could affure that noble Lord that he by no means quoted the book with an intention to throw any flur upon its author, but, on the contrary, to strengthen his argument by what he conceived to be a weighty and respectable authority. He could not, however refrain from animadverting upon the manner in which his arguments against the bill had been treated :-- instead of urging any found arguments in reply to them,' he was only told that his opposition was a folitary one, and that the general sense of the House was against him; he had, moreover, on a former day been given to undersland by the noble Secretary of State


Vol. 1. 1799


that no ambition was felt to convince him, or to conciliate his approbation of the measure. This surely was rather a strange way of treating a member of that House, who was placed in it by the conftitution in order to deliver his opinion upon every topic according to his conscience and the best of his judgment. Had he made use of such unparliamentary language, he, no doubt, would have been accused of libelling the character and dignity of the House. The noble Lord (Lord Auckland) had also been pleased to express a hope that age and experience might teach him to alter his opinions, as the noble Lord himself had done. He would not say that he felt disposed to imitate the example of the noble Lord in that respect, who had so egregiously changed his opinions both of men and measures ; but, whenever he was induced to alter his political sentiments, he trusted the change would be the result of fair investigation and unbiassed judgment, and that it should be the work of his reason as far as it could guide him, not the suggestion of interest or prejudiced partiality. It might be natural for the noble Lord to have made some change in his opinions on a subject like the present after the lapse of twenty years, nor could a fair construction of the Words he quoted vindicate him from the imputation of that charge. The words of the book were not confined 10 voluntary contributions. They also admitted the impropriety of a disclosure of private circumstances, and likewise the hardships to which a measure like the present would expose the landholder. The noble Lord was loud in the praise of the spirit and enthufiafın of the country manifested in the voluntary contributions and the payment of the triple affeilinent of last year, yet unfortunately this panegyric is broadly denied by the bill now before the House, the preamble of which tells the world, that the reason for introducing it was the Thameful evafions practised last year. The noble Lord had also brought forward observations not very clofely connected with the subject under debate. He talked of the French revolution (for into what debate is not that subject continually intruded :) and there the noble Lord observed upon some expreffions which were made use of in another place, where the French revolution was flyled “a glorious fabric of wisdom and integrity." He did not take up this with a view of blaming or defending it: he was feldom iempied to defend a man who was so much beiter able to defend himsuit. His intention only was to finy, that if fiom a well intended measure evil consequences might afterwards arife, this could not be fairly

imputea imputed as a fault to the framers of the measure. Would it be just 10 impute to the manly opposition of Hampden on ship money, the fatal catastrophe that afterwards ensued? If the Admiralty embarked in some great expedition, which afterwards terminated in some great calamity, would it be fair to impute the failure to the noble Lord, who so ably fuperintends that department, and about the integrity of whose intentions no man could entertain a doubt?-where there was no evil intention, there could be no fault; and he would not hesitate to say, that had he been a Frenchman, he should have felt it the pride of his life to have been concerned in that great event the revolution in France; but, though he felt that Tuch would have been his ambition in such a lituation of his country as that of France then was, he was far from thinking fhat there could be any justice in making him answerable for the consequences that have ensued. He would ask, was the policy of the Quiberon expedition to be estimated by the issue of it? Would their Lordships now contend, that his Majesty's ministers, whom they have so generally supported, Thould be made responsible for all the disastrous consequences of the war into which they had unfortunately plunged the nation? Surely not; and ill and inauspiciously as the war has actually been prosecuted, God forbid ihat he should say, that minifters should be responsible for all its concomitant calamities. Indeed, the first avowed object of the war was to relift the unprovoked aggression of the French, and to fruftrate their schemes of aggrandisement; would ministers have persisted in embarking in it, were they told all that has fince enfied from it; had they been told that France would be in pofsetion of all Italy; that she would exert a commanding influence over Spain; that she would invade Holland, and make herself master of all its resources : but especially had they been told, that England should be obliged io fend ministers to negociate with those very men, whose hands were ftill reeking with the blood of their sovereign, whose life we were so anxious to save, or that we should be now expressing an anxiety for the only man in the Directory, who liad a hand in that atrocious deed ? For his part he was, and he trusted he should ever be, a fincere and firm friend of liberty, and as such, he must feel with keener regret, and deeper horror at the crimes and atrocities that might be committed in her name, than those who never were conscious of any fervour in her cause. Under such impressions, it could not, therefore, be suppofed, that he was inclined to extenuate, much 302


to paliate or justify these atrocities. But he could not help remarking, that the only object of the war that seemed to be accomplished, (for he could not doubt but that such an object: had been in view) was the rendering the name of liberty odious to the world, in which France has but too ably conspired, as we unfortunately fee from the pernicious and abominable consequences that have flowed from some of her systems. But great and thocking as most undoubtedly is the guilt of the French, yet the effect of the war has as yet been the direct contrary of its avowed object; it has extended the dominions and contributed to the aggrandisement of the enemy. -He would not have been induced 10 say much on this subject, had he not observed with what triumph the crimes of France and the deplorable effects of jacobinism are every moment introducer, even to prove the propriety and neceflity of a tax bill. The noble Lord has also thought proper to enter into a comparison of this country with France. This was indeed a theme in which he might exultingly indulge. The ficets of France had disappeared. France could no longer be regarded as a naval power. Her inhabitants could now only stand on their thores, and vent the impotence of their rage in calling us hard names, though not harder perhaps than had. been called here in the House of Lords, where some persons might be characterized as being as abjca in disgrace, as they were loud and arrogant in prosperity. The noble Lord was also pleased to tell him that he could find no inaccuracies in the bill. This was not the case, on the contrary, he could Thew it to be exceedingly inaccurate, which he then did by referring to clause 42, and he said he could advert to a varičty of clauses equally erroneous. The clause which enacted that those who itated their income at the average of thice years should be allowed no abatement for any subiequent defalcation, he thought peculiarly oppressive and unjuít. Much greater deductions allo ought to be allowed to farmers than those which were now given. He perfectly agreed with the noble Lord, that it would be unjust to tax any class of men merely because they were rich ; but adopting the same principle upon which all income below bol. was exempted from the tax, and an ascending ratio admitted from thai to 2001. he thought it might be carried to a ftill higher amount. He was told besides, that the prefent measure was particularly calculated to raise the funds. But if the usual mode of raising money by loan was to be abandoned, where was the neceflity of keeping up the funds ? For his part he principaily maintained that the tax by being continued for any length of time would produce the worst consequences, and that it would be impollible for the people to bear it. He felt it therefore his duty to continue his opposition to a measure, which he was confident must be finally productive of such melancholly effecis.

Lord Grenville faid, that though he was fully satisfied that every thing that had the shadow of an argument against the bill had been completely refuted by his noble Friend (Lord Auckland) yet he could not help rising to remind the noble Lord who had just been reading leffons of propriety to the House, that he should not be himself so frequently the first to infringe chose very rules which he was now so anxious to enforce. Whenever that noble Lord (Lord Holland) spoke upon any subject, he scarcely ever failed claiming a right to answer, and that not in a few words, by way of explanation, but in another long, regular and detailed speech. This was a mode of proceeding which irresistibly called for some animadverfion, and the manner in which the noble Lord had alluded to hiin was surely an unjustifiable breach of order. It was not, however, usual with him over rigorously to urge the orders of the House, especially from any selfish motives, but he owed it to the House, and the House itself was bound to see it: long established rights and rules duly respected-well rememberiny moribus antiquis fat Roma. To this it behoved their Lordihips' jealousy to attend, and not to suffer any noble Lord to break through the order of debate, and violate the rules of the House from a principle of convenience to any individual, for if that noble Lord thould affume it as a right to repeat anew the whole of his arguments, would it not be the duty of the House to resist it, and prevent the worst of all dialogues orational dialogues; for, if one noble Lord be indulged in this repetition, surely it is but fair to extend to others the same privilege, whofe duty it might be not to permit such observations or arguments to pass by unobserved or unrefuted. Words said to have been used elsewhere in praise of the French revolution, or, as it is called, the French constitution, had been introduced this night into the debate; it was extolled as the noblest fabric of wisdom and integrity; and the noble Lord did not stick at faying that, if he had then lived in France, it would have been his pride and boast to have been one of those who contributed to the establishment of that glorious fabric. And here he would not hesilate to say,


« AnteriorContinua »