Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

:

are almost to stand single against the world, (the canduct of the neutral powers giving realon for alarm instead of brightening the prospect,) the most prudent councils, and the moft vigorous exertions are pecessary, as we must trust to our own powers for our defence. To avail ourselves in the bett manner of our force, two things appear to me neceflary, to have the confidence and approbation of the country at home, and to lay, hold of every opportunity, and take every method to promote peace, to thew our sincere desire of reconciliation with our American brethren. We may then stand upon firm ground: should France and Spain be desirous of agreeing to a safe and honourable peace, that event may take place; but should their ambition and confidence in their power make them wish to continue this destructive war, our united force might make them lament their-error, and America teeing the injustice of their conduct, return to friendship and union with us. The advantage of unanimity has been often, and muft be deservedly prefied as the means of carrying terror to our focs, and making other powers respect us : where it arises from a confidence of falutary measures being pursued, it will have that effect; but if it means only supporting a set of men, or a, chain of measures, the conlequence of which has been detrimental to the interests of the nation, it will be betraying our country, and only exposing our weakness to the enemy. is hardly possible to mention the name of ministers without being supposed from party, motives, to be desirous either of attacking or defending them, acharge which is equally bandi, . ed about from one fide of the House to the other. For

myfelf personally, I can only say, that if it were not for the measures that are pursued, it is matter of. as much indifference to me bow long the present ministers keep their places, as it is probably to them, what my opinion is upon the subject, When we hear, however, the common topic, and what is most infifted upon as a reaton for supporting them, that no one knows where to get better, one cannot help reflecting how just the answer is, that if we are to be determined by facts, or the success even of their own plans, the country muft be unfortunate indeed, were there a poffibility of its being hurt by the trial. But though this reasoning may supply the place of argument, what must our country, our conItituents, think of this Houte, when every action is attributed to party, and not even the appearance of virtue supposed to exift? How long will the independent members of this House suffer such reproach: Why will not those who seek

[ocr errors]

not

not emoluments for themselves, and who, however they may have differed in some points, have only the honor and interest of their country at heart, come forward, and by that conduct which would make them respectable, hold the balance their weight and consequence gives them, between the power of ministers, and those who might wish to obtain their places solely for their own interest ? Were measures the criterion by which to judge of the men, no longer should we see a minister supported by those who do not approve his proceedings, because he tells them, those who might succeed him would do worse, nor would any persons be afraid of giving countenance to other men, whose present measures they might think right, left they should alter their conduct when in power, because they would be then equally justified in opposing them. The minister, and the opposition, which must always

exist in a free country, would be rivals in their attention to the interests, in order to obtain the good will of the nation, which would -profit by such an event. But I fear, Sir, this is rather to be wished than to be expected, the voice of independence is too little heard, and the torrent of interested persons bears down all before it.

I beg pardon of the House for presuming to take up their time, and hope they will receive as my apology, that, feeling the situation I hav; described myself in so stroogly, as desirous of lupporting my country, and yet disapproving the measures carried on, that I was unwilling to fit filent at this moment. I will conclude, Sir, with many thanks for the indulgence of the House, and with their permission, by reading as a part of my speech, the form of a motion for an address, which, though I do not presume to move, contains an explanation of my sentiments, better than, I fear, I have been able to express myself, and which I should be happy to see adopted.

The address was expressive of loyalty and affection to his Majesty, and declared that his Majesty's faithful Commons were ready to support the honour and dignity of the Crown, and to exert themselves to the utmost in defence of the dominions, and in the protection of the rights and liberties of this country. It declared, that the firft object of their attention, in which they doubted not they should receive his Majesty's concurrence, would be to maintain inviolate the principles of this free and happy conftitution, and preserve it from those dangers the corruption and neceffities of the times might expose it to. And lastly, it declared, of how much confequnce it was to the state, and how beneficial it would prove to both Vol. XVIII,

M

countries,

Mr. Adam.

countries, i to procure a reconciliation between Great Britain and America; that though from the fatal consequences of the war, the mode of obtaining it might be difficult, a change from the horrors of war to measures of peace, might be productive of union; and prayed his Majesty to take such steps as might promote lo desirable an end.

Mr. Adam rose, and prevented the speaker from leaving the chair, by introducing a matter which he declared very much called for the attention of the House. He then faid, he wished to mention something relative to the internal fituation of this country, and that he could not chuse a properer time, than when the House was to proceed upon a vote, the coolequence of which was, to enable the nation to support itself against its enemies. That in the present internal distracted fituation of this country, he could hardly tell what force would be sufficient without the unanimity, which the hon. gentleman (Mr. Hartley) talked of, whom he thanked for having given him an opportunity of expressing himself relative to a matter which very much interested him. He meant to allude to the committees of association, which had spread such baneful effects over this country, and which had given fo much encouragement to its enemies. Before he proceeded to the particular fubject, to which he meant to call the attention of the Houfe, he stated that the American Congrefs in their publications to encourage the people to perfitt in rebellion, had held out the distracted state of this country to them, by means of the committees of association, as one of the principal inducements to the Americans to perfevere in their exertions, but he added, that those affemblies had not confined themfelves merely to public transactions, nor was the encouragement of our enemies the only thing that they had done, to disturb the peace, and prevent the unanimity of this country. They had in the most unjustifiable and unprecedented manner bafely attempted to ruin the characters of every individual who opposed their views.

He then stated to the House, that he had in his hand the moft fingular publication that ever had appeared in any country, though it had a precedent in very remote antiquity ;what he particularly alluded to, was a publication he had met with in the newspaper of that morning. Having said this, he read the Refolves of the Westminster committee of the roth inftant.

He stated to the House, that though he read it from a daily newspaper, he meant no reflection on the printer of that

paper,

B T

E B A T E s. paper, nor had be any intention of moving a censure on his conduct; the printer was a man who had the virtue in the present times to avoid all party partiality, and who seemed to be actuated, merely by a zeal to promote the good of his country.

Having read the resolutions, and particulary called the attention of the House to the last of them, he congratulated, in an ironical strain, the hon. gentleman to whom they were addressed, upon the appointment of his body and life guards for the protection of his person. He compared him to the Athenian Pififtratus, who in former times, had a guard appointed by the people of Athens for the security and protection of his person, by the means of which, he overturned the liberty of his country. Continuing in this strain of irony, he hailed the gentleman “King of Westminster," and after enlarging upon the subject, and heightening the parallel confiderably, he concluded, with saying, he did not know whether to congratulate the honourable gentleman, or to condole with his country the most.

That the situation of this country was miserable indeed, when there was allowed to exist in it a dangerous and wicked combination of men, who, while they impudently attacked every peer or member of parliament who ventured to make any observations on their conduct, set themselves up as beings exclusively protected from any animadversion. A combination which had bafely and infamously attempted to run down his character as an individual, by attributing to him motives for his conduct upon a certain occasion which nothing but the depraved and infamous minds of the authors of that publication could have invented, or have supposed any person capable of. He spoke of the transaction which had last year un fortunately taken place between the honourable gentleman and himself, as a matter the bare recollection of which gave him the most poignant compunction, as a situation which he of all men living had the utmost unwillingness to be in at any time, and into which nothing but the strong and irresistible impulse of injured honour could ever drag a man of real principle and of real sensibility.

He regretted he did not know how far to form an opinion as to the legality or illegality, of such meetings as comunittees of association. He said, a club at White's, Brookes's, or at Atwood's, was prefectly legal, till those clubs had done some illegal act, and if they attempted any attack upon the character of an individual, would become as unfit affemblies for

gentlemen

M 2

[ocr errors]

gentlemen to associate in, and be as contemptible as that affembly, which had so unjustly calumniated his character, That he had been long attacked by anonymous abuse in newl. papers, which he had formerly taken notice of in that House; that he did not know at that time to what quarter that abuse was to be traced; he now knew that he was to attribute it to the members of the Westminster 'committee. And when he saw in the newspapers that Mr. Adam seconded a motion for a new writ for Coventry from scandalous and improper motives, he was justified in saying, that that and such like paragraphs, came from the same quarter. That the publication he animadverted upon, not only calumniated him, but gave the honourable gentleman, to whom it was addressed, an exclusive privilege by an unreserved grant of exclusive protecțion, to launch forth, if he was capable of availing himself of it, into every species of personality and abuse. That time would shew from that gentleman's future conduct, how far he was capable of availing himself of it. Mr. Adam then faid, that he was going to touch upon a subject, by mentioning his own character, in which he might poflibly incur the imputation of vanity; but that when a person's character was balely. and falsely traduced, not to mention it was to act with timnidity; that few men knew the nature of his life, which was private and retired, but that he could boaft a strict and regular system of domestic economy, which enabled him to live wholly independent, upon the fortune which had fallen to his share. That the principal happiness and ambition of his life was to discharge the private duties of a private situation with honour and integrity, to be a good fon, a good husband, a good father, and a faithful friend. That he could not brag of a long line of ancestry, whose vices were to degrade, or whose virtues were to adorn the page of the historian. But that circumstance made hiin more proud and more anxious to maintain his character unspotted and unimpeached, and to repel every attack that was made upon it from whatever quarter. He concluded with saying, that he looked upon every person who adopted the resolutions of that committee as base and infamous calumniators of his character, and unworthy the protection of a civilized country.

Mr. Fox rose to reply, and began with declaring, that as, to any expressions personal to him, which had fallen from the honourable gentleman, who felt himself sore at the paper which he had read to the House, he should not take the least notice of them, but in regard to the advertitement itself, he

a

a

Mr. Fox,

« AnteriorContinua »