Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

position. If he was so happy as to be honoured with an election, his returning to the chair would appear strange to the public; it would be asked, why a man, confessedly too infirm for the office would undertake it ? and some persons perhaps would be ill-natured enough to say, that he was ready to receive the emoluments, though not equal to the discharge of the duties of the place. Under these circumstances he must repeat, that it was his determination to decline all thoughts of it, and to assure the House, that though he had fat in the chair for nearly two Parliaments, and though his health was very greatly impaired, in consequence of the fatigue of public business, his fortune was not bettered. He was happy in seeing so many members of the late Parliament present, and took that opportunity of returning his most grateful thanks! for all their goodness to him, the impression of which was his chief happiness, and could never be erased from his mind. He begged leave also to thank the noble Lord who made the motion for the election of a new speaker, and his honourable friend (if he would allow him to call him so) who seconded it, for the many handsome things they had faid of him ; but he should be an ideot indeed, if he could possibly imagine he merited such compliments, or that his state of health, of which none of the King's ministers had ever received the ' smallest intimation from him, was the real cause of their moving for a new speaker, without saying a word upon the subject previously to him. Every man, he was sure, who had the leaft pertensions to underítanding, went before, him in feeling that a confideration of his state of health was not the true motive for the present measure. In the course of the last session, when his ill health obliged him to put a temporary stop to the public business, he had, contrary to the advice of his physicians, and at the peril of his life, come down to that House in order to dispatch the affairs then under confideration. He had, when almost overwhelmed with infirmity, struggled hard to forward the business of Parliament, and he had done so at the particular instance of those, who now moved to have another gentleman appointed speaker. This, he said, was usage he did not expect, and he thought he had a right to other and very different treatment. With regard to the gentleman who was the object of the noble Lord's motion, no man thought more highly of his integrity and his abilities than he did, he sincerely hoped neither the abilities of the honourable gentleman, nor his qualifications to fill the chair, might be mentioned in comparison with such abilities and fuch qualifications as nature had bestowed upon VOL. XVIII.

C

hin,

a

him, because, if they were, he was confident he thould be a considerable sufferer. He aproved of that gentleman fully, but as the House must be before-hand with him in seeing through the fallacy of the reasons ftated by the noble Lord, as the grounds of the motion, and as it was an infult to the understanding of every gentleman present, to pretend, that an anxiety for his health was the real cause for moving that another speaker might be chosen, he called upon the noble Lord and upon his honourable friend to tell him, why he was thus disgracefully dismissed ? If his conduct in the chair had been objectionable, 'if it had been criminal, let the cri. minality be fully known, and let exemplary punishment folo low, if there could be any punishment more severe than public disgrace. He fhould be content, when the fact was undisguisedly acknowleged, and his offence publicly urged ; and he could not but think he had a claim upon the noble Lord and his honourable friend for this explanation; an ex, planation which he prefied for the more earnestly, because he did affure the House, upon his honour, that though he had been in town three days, he had never been asked whether his health would enable him to continue in the chair (should the House approve of his continuing there) nor had he been applied to, either directly or indirectly, on the fubject of chusing a new speaker.

Mr. Fox strongly arraigned the ministers for having made it a system, during their continuance in office, to disgrace cvery dignified character in the kingdom, and especially to insult and vilify those men whose conduct the House of commons approved. He gave as instances the treatment of his honourable relation (Admiral Keppel] and the treatment of the late fpeaker. He paid Sir Fletcher Norton the higheft compliments, and said, the real and the pretended cause for removing him from the chair, reminded him of a former debate in the last Parliament, when a noble Lord had mentioned, that the German states, in their treaties and public acts, always made a distinction between the ratio suasoria and the ratio justifica. In the present case, the ratio suasoria was an obvious fallacy, and the ratio justifica the worst that could poffibly be urged. The noble Lord who made the motion had filled his speech with empty compliments on Sir Fletcher Norton, and after asserting that he was the ableft man the Houfe could choose to fit in the chair, had concluded his address with moving, that another gentleman might be elected to fill it; and the honourable gentleman whọ seconded the ;

motion,

[ocr errors]

E B A T

BAT E.S. motion, had recommended it to the gentleman moved for, as Sir Fletcher Norton's succeffor, to copy the example of Sir Fletcher Norton, telling him in the most plain, positive, and direct terms, that his only chance of making a good speaker, rested on his implicitly following the model of Sir Fletcher Norton. “Good God! (said Mr. Fox) what pitiful shifts, what shallow arguments are the present ministry redu. ced to, when they come down to the House of Commons, and tell us that our late speaker is the ablest man in the world, the fittest to fill the chair, and in the same breath, beg us to choose another gentleman, speaker! And why? Not because it is pretended that Mr. Cornwall is superior in ability to Sir Fletcher Norton, it is not even said that he is equal, but because, if he copies Sir Fletcher Norton's.conduct, he may possibly discharge the duties of the chair with satisfaction to the House, and credit to himself! Would any other set of men in this or any other kingdom, grasp at a copy, merely because it may prove a tolerable one, when they can have the original ? Sir Fletcher Norton, from any thing he has said this day, does not appear unqualified to take the chair; he is in good health now; and when, unhappily for his family and the public, he feels a relapse, it will then be sufficiently early to talk of a succeffor. Certainly to appoint one at this period, and under these circumstances, is not without a precedent, but it is extremely unusual, and therefore becomes fingular. What will people without doors think? What will the world say? Will they not take this measure as an ill omen, as a bad beginning of the new parliament? Will they not see, that all the noble Lord in the blue ribbon said last year, on the subject of the late speaker's health, all his pathos, all his expressions of tenderness, which every body at that time, the greatest part of the House however, sincerely sympathized in, were nothing but empty words, compliments without meaning and professions without foundation ! Will - they not fay, that the true cause of such unparallelled ill treatment, is that speech alluded to by my honourable friend? a speech which did Sir Fletcher Norton the highest honour, and which was a noble and manly proof of his true regard for his country, and his feeling for her distrefies. I desire, if I am in order, that the Clerk may read the thanks of the House to the speaker, which were almost unanimously resolved on that occasion, and they will see the baseness of this attempt to disgrace a man whom the House has honoured. Let them add to the impression, the present conduct of miniiters. Sir Fletcher Norton feels himself insulted; he com

plains

C 2

[ocr errors]

Mr. Wat

Mr. Byng:

plains of the infult, and he demands, honestly demands to
know the cause ! Do ministers answer him? Does the noble
Lord in the blue ribbon speak out, and fairly avow the cause
of his removal? No. He shifts his head in some sort out of
the collar, he gets a colleague to make the motion for the
dismission of a man who had rendered himself offensive to
him, because he nobly and manfully stood up for the peo-
ple, and declared what afterwards appeared to be the sense
of the House of Commons, “that the influence of the crown
“had increased, was increasing, and ought to be diminished;"
and when he now appeals to the minister to avow his offence,
and state the part of his conduct which had induced this
attempt to disgrace him, the noble Lord takes refuge in a
cowardly filence. Mr. Fox continued speaking some time
longer with his usual asperity and ability.

Mr. Hat,ell then read from the Journals the entry of the full.

9th of May 1777, containing the thanks of the House to
the speaker, for his speech to the King from the bar of the
House of Lords, on his Majesty's giving his royal afsent to
the bill for the better support of his Majesty's household.

Mr. Byng in a short speech condemned the motion made
by the noble Lord as an insult to the late speaker, and com-
plained of the last parliament's having been diffolved but two
days after Sir Fletcher Norton set out for Yorkfhire, with-
out the least previous intimation being given to him of any
fuch design; though he was the representarive of a borough

:
.fo near town as Guildford. He also mentioned the rudeness of
the Minister's telling all his friends who attended at the place
called the Cockpit, of the intention of moving, that Mr.
Cornwall might be elected speaker, without giving the smal-

left intimation of such an intention to Sir Fletcher Norton. Mr. Corn.

Mr. Cornwall faid, that if the House thought proper to
elect him to the chair, he should exert his endeavours to give
them fatisfaction ; but that he could not bring himself to
think it would be in his power to come near the partial ex-
pectations of the noble Lord who made the motion, the ho-
nourable gentleman who feconded it, or his learned friends.
He concluded with observing, that with regard to the subject
under discussion, it would be improper for him to say a syl-
lable upon it; he should therefore fit down, submitting the
whole business to the wisdom and judgment of the House.

After a momentary pause,
Sir Flercier Sir Fletcher rose again, and declared, if any thing could
Nosten,
induce him to accept the chair again – he begged pardon

for

[ocr errors]

wall.

1

a

for the expression - to aspire to it, it would be the contempt with which he was treated. He thought he had a right to an explanation from the noble Lord who made the motion, or from the honourable gentleman who feconded it. If it was his conduct last session that had rendered him obnoxious, lėt, them fay so, and he should be content. He never would speak in that House but as he thought; and as he was conscious that every man must abide by the consequences of his conduct, he cared not what issue followed his conduct, but he surely had a right to complain of such usage, and if neither the noble Lord nor the honourable gentleman would favour him with the explanation he called for, he should leave the whole to the judgment of the House, who, he was sure, would put a true construction upon

the treatment he had received, and the filence of ministers respecting it.

Mr. Ellis declared, that he conceived every member had an Ms. Ellis, undoubted right to vote for a new speaker as he thought proper; that he had no intention either to insult or disgrace Sir Fletcher Norton, of whom he had before fpoken his fincere opinion, but that the public good was the great director of his vote, and he did not think, after the alarming ftate of the late speaker's health last session, that it was either respectful to him, or consistent with the public good, to put him again in the chair; but that it was better to choose a speaker of fresher health, and who, from his time of life, had more vigour, and was better able to encounter and sustain the fatigues of the office.

Lord Mahon said, possibly it might be supposed that no Ld. Maicon. person who had not been a member of the laft Parliament, was' qualified to speak to the question; but though he was newly come within those walls, he could not consent to give a filent vote on the present occafion. His duty to his country and his own feelings forbade it. His Lordship then made an energetic eulogium on the virtues and the integrity of Sir Fletcher Norton, advising the noble Lord who made the motion, to leave the late speaker's health to the late speaker's own care, and declaring that he would oppose the motion, if there were no other reason for his doing so, merely because it was made by a member of adminiftration; that administration, whose baleful measures had loaded their country with disgrace and distress, had abridged the inheri. tance of the Prince of Wales, and intailed ruin on the house of Hanover! Before his Lordship fat down, he menaced the treasury bench with a threat to oppose every measure they suggested.

Mr.

« AnteriorContinua »