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were renewed in the months of April and July in the fame year ; and on the 8th of October following they sent a written paper to the minister, which concluded by stating “ the absolute necessity which they conceived to exist for diminishing the sum of their present advances to government, the last having been granted with great reluctance, on their part, on his pressing solicitations.” In an interview with the chancellor of the Exchequer, which took place on the 23d of the same month, on the loans to the emperor being mentioned, the governor assured Mr. Pitt “ that another loan of that fort would go near to ruin the country.” And on the 8th of November, 1795, the governor informed the chancellor of the Exchequer “ that the daily large drains of specie from the Bank filled the minds of the directors with serious apprehenfions; and that in the present situation of affairs he must not rely on any aids from them, not even the Vote of Credit and Supply bills."
In the course of the ensuing year, the re-iterated demands of Mr. Pitt appear to have occafioned extreme uneasiness in the breast of the directors of the Bank, who neither knew how to comply or to refuse. In the month of July, haying applied for two advances of 800,000 l. each, one immediate, and the other in the course of the month, the court confented reluctantly to accommodate the Treasury with the first of these fums, but fignified their disapproval of the second demand. Mr. Pitt, on receiving a copy of the resolutions from the governor, faid, “ he was obliged to the court for what they did grant, which he should accept of;" but added, “ that it would be of no material use unless the other requisition were complied with.” And in a letter, dated July 28, 1796, he again urged the court of directors to advance the second sum of 800,000 l.--adding his-“ farther and earnest request that the Bank would also make provision for the payment of such Treasury bills as may become payable in the months of August, September, and Oētober ;-in default of which the most serious and dis
tressing embarrassments to the public service must arise.” The court, on the receipt of this letter, agreed “ with great reluctance, and contrary to their wishes,” to adopt their own words, « to advance the second sum of 800,000 l. and also to provide for the bills which should fall due in the month of August, but not afterwards; and this upon condition the chancellor of the Exchequer will engage that a new mode of paying the Treasury bills shall be adopted immediately on the meeting of parliament, as the court declared themselves determined not to continue the present mode of discharging them any longer.” This resolution was accompanied by an excellent memorial presented in form to Mr. Pitt by the governor, for the express purpose of being laid before his majesty's cabinet council. In this « serious and solemn remonstrance,” as they term it, the directors declare, “ that nothing could induce them, under the present circumstances, to comply with the demand now made upon them, but the dread that their refusal might be productive of a greater evil, and nothing but the extreme presure and exigency of the case can in any shape justify them for acceding to this measure ; and they apprehend that in so doing they render themselves totally incapable of granting any farther assistance to government during the remainder of this year, and unable even to make the usual advances on the land and malt for the ensuing year, should those bills be passed before Christmas. They likewise consent to this measure in a firm reliance on the repeated promises, so frequently made to them, that the advances on the Treasury bills should be completely done away, being actually fulfilled at the next meeting of parliament, and the necessary arrangements taken to prevent the same from ever happening again, as they conceive it to be an UNCONSTITUTIONAL mode of RAISING MONEY, what they are NOT WARRANTED by their charTER to consent to, and an advance always extremely inconvenient to themselves.” This memorial, which might surely have sufficed to alarm any minister less daring in his schemes of mischief, seemed to produce ne sort of effect; and the requisitions of Mr. Pitt were still as urgent and pressing as ever. On the ift of February, therefore, (1797), the governor and deputy-governor waited upon him, in order to represent how uneasy the court were at their large advances for government, and especially on the Treafury bills paid, which now amounted to 1,554,635 l. and would, in a few days, be augmented to 1,819,818 l.; and required that some effective measure should be immediately taken for the payment of the whole of this sum, as had been fo feriously promised them should be done at the opening of this year. After much shuffling, Mr. Pitt engaged that 150,000 I. should be paid off every week of the arrears of Treasury bills, at the same time hinting that new bills, to the amount of 700,000 l. had appeared from St. Domingo ; on which the governor expressed great apprehenfion, and begged that Mr. Pitt would put off the acceptance of them, acknowledging that a farther drain of cash from the Bank would be very dangerous, as the quantity of fpecie had been of late very materially diminished.—
Things now seemed to be coming faft to a crisis. On the roth of February Mr. Pitt proposed a loan for Ireland of one million and a half. At an interview which took place on the 18th, the governor told him “ that such a scheme must have the worst effect possible ; that it would cause the ruin of the Bank; for that such a loan raised here would all be sent over in
money Ireland, and would drain much of our fpecie from us." And at a meeting of the committee on the next day, the governor was `authorized and enjoined to assure Mr. Pitt “that, under the present state of the Bank's advances to government, such a measure would threaten ruin to the house, and most probably bring them under the necessity of fhutting up their doors.” Mr. Pitt nevertheless persisted in his resolution, declaring to the governor « that he found it to be a measure of government absolutely necessary, notwithstanding the difficulties and dangers which they foresaw in the execution of it."
The public apprehensions, at this period, of an impending invasion from France, and possibly also the secret fufpicion of the critical situation of the Bank, occasioned a run upon the Company so great as to excite the utmost anxiety of mind amongst the directors on the subject. Each day alarmingly increased the deficit. On the 24th of February the deputygovernor and Mr. Bofanquet had another interview with Mr. Pitt, in which, having now gone by far too great lengths to retract, laying aside their high tone of admonition and remonstrance, they in a manner threw themselves and the Company at the feet of this despot-minister, “ requesting of him to say how far he thought the Bank might venture to go on paying cash, and when he would think it necessary to interfere before the cash was so reduced as might be detrimental to the immediate service of the state.” Mr. Pitt, having thus brought the Company by his wily arts to the brink of ruin, seemed mightily to exult; and said, in a tone very different from that of humble solicitation, “ that this was a matter of great importance, and that he must be prepared with some resolution to bring forward in the council for a proclamation to stop the issue of cash from the Bank, and to give the fecurity of parliament to the notes of the Bank; in consequence of which he should think it might be proper to appoint a secret committee of the house of commons to look into the state of the Bank affairs."
In conformity to this intimation a board of council was held, and an order published on the 26th of February prohibiting the directors from “ issuing any cash in payment till the sense of parliament can be taken on that subject, and the proper measures adopted thereupon for maintaining the means of circulation, and supporting the public and commercial credit of the country at this important conjuncture.”
On the following day a copy of the order of council was laid before the two houses of parliament, accompanied with a meslage from the king, stating “ that an unusual demand
of specie having been made from different parts of the country on the metropolis, it had been found neceflary to make an order of council to the directors of the Bank, prohibiting the issuing of any cash in payment till the sense of parliament could be taken." In both houses general addresses of thanks for his majesty's gracious communications were voted, and committees of secrefy appointed to inveftigate the affairs of the Bank of England. In the course of the debates which ensued, very severe cenfure and reproach were dealt out against those who had brought the country into this novel and perilous fituation, of which no one could divine the ifsue. It was remarked, that when the minister prefumed to plead necellity in justification of an act of power fo alarming, he ought at leaft to have been prepared to thew that the necessity had been occafioned by no fault of his own: on the contrary, it was his unparalleled rashness and obstinacy which had created the necellity altogether. Let him repay the directors the ten millions they had advanced in dependence upon his re-iterated and faithless promises : let him refund the vast sums he had illegally and unconstitutionally remitted to the continent; and the difficulties they labored under would cease. It was not that the Bank were unable to satisfy their creditors, but it was the continued demand of money to feed the expenses of this ravenous and disastrous war which compelled them to be unjust. The directors, in contradiction to their better judgment, were trepanned and inveigled by the minister into the disgraceful predicament in which they stood ; and the fatal order of council at laft imposed upon them was adopted only as the least of the evils to which they were subjected. At length an amendment was proposed by Mr. Sheridan to Mr. Pitt's motion for the appointment of a committee-" That the said committee should be also empowered to enquire into the causes which had produced the order of council of the 26th of February last," which was, after much debate, negatived by 244 to 86 voices.