Obrazy na stronie

On the i ft of March Mr. Fox moved that a separate committee should be appointed for the purpose above mentioned. This was vehemently objected to by Mr. Pitt as wholly superfluous; which indeed was, in a sense most disgraceful to himself, but too true. It was also opposed by Mr. Windham, who, beftowing high eulogiums on the minister, was reminded of his former memorable threat while yet adverse to the system he now supported that he would strip off the right honorable gentleman's embroidery, and expose to view the filthy dowlas which lay concealed beneath it.'--Mr. Wilberforce likewise, renouncing all pretension to that respect which is due to candor and consistency, hesitated not to declare « that, from the commencement of the war, much of the public calamity was owing to the conduct of opposition !” To that fickle and faithless part of the oppofition, indeed, which voted alternately for and against the minifter, without sense or system, this cenfure was but too clearly and directly applicable.---Mr. Fox, in remarking upon the necessity of the proposed enquiry, asked, “ Whether any man breathing had any doubt of the solidity of the Bank before the minister laid his rapacious hands upon the treasure deposited there, and which he had applied to the most unlawful and unconftitutional purposes ? Enquiry," he faid, “ was, at all events, indispensable ; for, to use the celebrated argument of Demosthenes to the Athenians, if it should appear that the deplorable fituation of the country was brought on by the gross misconduct of the minister, then the people would have the consolation to reflect that their affairs might yet be retrieved ; but if, as the minister aflerted, affairs had been conducted wisely and well, then the people could expect nothing but inevitable ruin.”---The house divided : for the motion 67, against it 141.

Upon the report of the committee, it appeared that the amount of demands upon the Bank was 13,770,000 l.; that their aflets, exclusive of the permanent debt due from government, amounted to the sum of 17,597,000 h; so that there remained a surplus of 3,826,000 l. exclusive of the capital sum of 11,600,000 l. three-per-cent. ftock, lent at different times to government, on parliamentary security. This being estimated at fifty per cent. agreeably to the actual price of the three-per-cents. the whole of the capital vested in the corporation of the Bank, after the payment of debts, amounted to the vast sum of 9,626,000 l. "The publication of this report immediately allayed, and almost extinguished, the excessive alarm excited in the mercantile world by the stoppage of the Bank. A bill was forthwith introduced, confirming the order of council, and suspending the law for preventing the issue of notes under five pounds' value; in consequence of which the circulation of specie was suspended, and the kingdom inundated with notes of twenty fillings' and forty shillings' value. A clause of the utmost importance was also inserted for preventing any person from being held to bail who offered Bank-of-England notes in discharge of debts; which was going, to every practical purpose, the length of making them a legal tender. But as government-collectors and officers of the revenue were not only permitted, but obliged, by a clause of the bill, to receive these notes in payment of taxes, immense as they were now become, no considerable inconvenience wag in fact felt from this extraordinary state of things by any class or description of persons. The notes themselves fuffered not the least depreciation; and the disastrous consequences which might, with great probability, have previously been supposed to result from the daring and desperate conduct of the minister, were happily found to be fallacious.

vernment, liament,

On the oth of March Mr. Sheridan moved several refolutions relative to the Bank, of which the most remarkable went to the restoration of the important clause in the original act of king William, restraining the Bank from making any advances to government but on funds granted by par


liament, under the penalty of forfeiting treble the amount, and which was most insidiously repealed by Mr. Pitt in the fession of 1793. But so far were the directors of the Bank from concurring in this measure, that they made it an express subject of their complaint that they were required to advance money to government in an unconstitutional man

This was negatived by the accustomed ministerial majority.---The house being in committee upon the Bank Bill, Mr. Fox gave notice of an amendment to the second clause, “ That the Bank should be prohibited from making any advances to government, by which the existing debt should be increased, during the continuance of the present act.” Had this amendment, so obvious and rational, been carried, all Mr. Pitt's views of future and greater accommodation would have been frustrated; but it was, as usual, negatived at the instance of the minister, who had now completely succeeded in converting the Bank of England into a mere engine of government, in bringing an indelible difgrace on its reputation, and in making it entirely subservient to the advancement of his own ruinous, wicked, and frantic projects.

On the report of the committee on the Bank Bill, fir William Pulteney proposed a clause, the object of which was to enable the Bank to rescind the restrictions of the bill at any period less distant than the 24th of June, to which it was originally limited. But this was opposed by Mr. Pitt, and negatived, though by 36 voices only.

On the 24th of April, when the supplies of the year were supposed to be voted, and the exigencies of government fully provided for, Mr. Pitt suddenly came forward with proposals for a second loan, comprehending a great variety of deficiencies, and covering a vast mass of floating and unfunded debt, consisting of Exchequer-bills, Navybills, &c. adding also a vote of credit for three millions, with a view to another prodigal remittance to the emperor. The whole fum proposed to be funded was precisely eighteen millions, as before ; and for every 100 l. in money, 373 . three-per-cent. and 20 l. four-per-cent. stock were to be granted by government, together with a long-annuity of 6 s. 6 d. For the interest of this second stupendous loan, raised upon terms fo exorbitantly ufurious, taxes were again imposed to the amount of 1,284,000 l. which, conjointly with the taxes of the preceding loan, made up the sum of 3,416,000 l. Such were the immense and incredible supplies which Mr. Pitt could extort from the people of England in a fingle session, in order to carry on the present incomprehensible war; although, when a sinking fund was to be created ten years previous to this period, he could never devise the ways and means of raising one solitary million for that most falutary and important of all purposes the redemption of the public debt! And so incorrect-or, to speak plainly and properly, so detestably deceitful-had been the estimates presented to the house from time to time, that, in the four years which had now elapsed fince the commencement of the present war, about fifty-one millions had been contracted with, and more than forty-nine millions without, the previous consent of parliament, as appeared by the papers laid before the house.

millions, tions

On the first of May Mr. Pitt moved for a loan of three millions and a half to the emperor, of which 1,600,000 l. had been already remitted. Also another loan of one million and a half for the service of Ireland. The sum of 80,000 l. was moreover granted as a portion to the princess-royal, on her marriage to the duke of Wirtemberg.

In the course of the session Mr. Dundas brought forward his statement of India finance ; and in his speech upon this occafion he apprized the house, that though there appeared to be, from various causes, a decrease of revenue, owing to a diminution in the sale of certain articles during the war, and an increase of military arrangements, the Company's affairs were, notwithstanding, as favourable and as flourishing as the most fanguine person could with; and the resolu

tions moved by him in affirmance of his statement were agreed to with little opposition.

Addresses to the throne, of a pacific tendency, were also moved, during the feffion, by the earl of Oxford in the upper house, and by Mr. Pollen (one of the few profelytes from the majority) in the commons, giving rise to debates, in which the questions respecting the conduct of ministers relative to the war, and the late abortive attempt at negotiation, were again ably and copiously discussed without producing any sensible effect. Mr. Pitt had the boldness, on this occasion, to declare to the house, “ that peace did not depend upon their declarations, which were more likely to frustrate than to accelerate this object." Strange doctrine from one who had been himself a party in the declarations of the house which had been the means of terminating the American war! « We have tried the executive government," said Mr. Fox in answer, « long enough to be convinced that no good would be done by confiding in the promise of mis nisters any longer. Let us not perpetually talk of our wishes for peace ; let us use means for obtaining it. Let us trust ministers no longer ; LET US VOTE for Peace.” The division in the upper house was 16 to 52,* and in the lower 85 to 291.


The address moved by the carl of Oxford was excellently framed, and is, from its merit, entitled to insertion at full length. His lordship moved “ That an address might be presented to the throne, to represent to his majesty, that, in the present alarmiog situation of the country, the house considered it to be its duty to apprize him of his own danger and of the ruin which threatened the nation. That the shock which had been lately given to public credit must deprive us of those means whereby we were enabled to hold our rank amongst nations, unless we were relieved from our present enormous expenditure by an immediate, fincere, and lafting peace. That the house saw with concern that the late negotiation was broken off hy the conduct and demands of his majesty's ministers, and not by want of disposition for peace on the part of the French. That, in answer to the note delivered by Mr. Wickham, the Directory declared, that, yielding to the ardent desire to procure peace, it would not fear to express itself openly : charged by the constitution with the execution of the laws, it could rot make or listen to any proposal which would be contrary to them : the


VOL. 11,

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