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treaty of Utrecht to be broken. He next took notice of what had fallen from Sir James Johnstone, who, he said, spoke generally with a sort of Lacedemonian eloquence. What the honorable baronet had said jocosely of the treaty, with respect to its enabling them to get fine clothes, fine cambrics, and fine laces, and the wines of France to intoxicate their constituents, was in effect one serious reason of his disliking the treaty; because it tended to put the country in a condition to forget her former situation, and lose sight of it altogether. Mr. Sheridan condemned the treaty on various accounts, and took occasion to mention (what he had on a former day hinted at) the absolute necessity of coming to some commercial arrangement with Ireland. He had been in hopes that the bringing forward that business would have been taken out of his hands by His Majesty's ministers; but if it were not soon done, he desired to be understood as giving notice that he would, after the holidays, make a motion on the subject. It was impossible that the two countries should continue as they were, both looking with their faces full to France, and merely casting a sullen side glance at each other. He begged leave to remind the right honorable gentleman, that when the Irish propositions were in agitation, he had himself urged it as an argument for agreeing to them, that if an arrangement was not forthwith made with Ireland, we should force her into the arms of France.
The house divided, ayes 119; noes 43. The bill passed accordingly.
PAPERS RELATING TO PUBLIC ACCOUNTS.
Mr. SHERIDAN rose to move for a variety of papers relative to the public accounts, and prefaced his motion with declaring, that he lamented he had been prevented from attending his duty in
the house on the preceding day, when the right honorable gentleman (Mr. Pitt) moved for leave to bring in a bill to enable the Board of Treasury to let a part of the collection of the post-horse tax out to farm. Mr. Sheridan said, that he did not lament his absence on account of the great degree of information which he had thereby lost, since he understood that the right honorable gentleman had not condescended to favor the house with a syllable on the subject; but merely embraced the opportunity of preparing the attention of the house to a matter of considerable moment. The idea of reviving a mode, of collecting the public revenue by farming any part of it, led to consequences, of the extent of which the right hon. gentleman might not, perhaps, be sufficiently aware. It was impossible for it to be adopted under limitation; it must, if adopted at all, be adopted generally; and before the house consented to a measure of that magnitude, it behoved them to recollect, that the system of farming the public revenue had been long since, exploded, on account of its having been decided to be a system uncongenial with the constitution of this country, and by no means applicable to it. This (Mr. Sheridan said) he should take an opportunity hereafter more fully to argue; and at present, as the papers relative to the public accounts were but just printed and delivered, he submitted it to the candor of the right honorable gentleman, whether he would persist in his intention to open the budget on the immediately ensuing day, before it could be possible for gentlemen to have read the papers with sufficient attention to be able to make themselves fully masters of their contents. The papers for which he then meant to move (Mr. Sheridan added), he had expected the right honorable gentleman would have moved for himself.
Mr. Pitt answered, that what he should have to state to the house upon the morrow would prove extremely short. Mr. Sheridan did not seem to expect much information from the papers he moved for ; but if he found any, he would have a full opportunity of making use of it on the report during the course of the Monday following.
WAYS AND MEANS.
The order of the day for receiving the report of the committee of ways and means being read, Mr. Gilbert brought up the report, which was read a first time, and the question put, "that this reso
lution be read a second time."
Mr. SHERIDAN begged leave to remind the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Pitt) that he had not fulfilled his promise, to give such an account of the finances as should afford perfect and complete satisfaction to the committee; but he had certainly fulfilled his promise of brevity: for he had been so extremely concise, that though he (Mr. Pitt) who was acquainted with all the grounds and circumstances to which the facts and figures which he had stated referred, could talk with familiarity and ease upon the subject without any farther explanation than that he had thought proper to give it, yet such brevity was rather an awkward circumstance to him and those, who, like him, were to answer and speak after the right honorable gentleman. Mr. Sheridan said, that he thought the air of triumph assumed by the right honorable gentleman, sat but awkwardly upon him, at a moment when he should have conceived another sort of demeanour would have better become the humiliating and mortifying situation in which he ought perhaps to feel himself; when obliged to come forward, and state the finances of the kingdom to be in so very different a condition, from that in which the committee had last year been so confidentially assured they would prove to be in 1787. The right honorable gentleman, and those who sat near him, would please to recollect the statement contained in the report of the revenue committee, which report he held in his hand, and the manner in which it was contradicted, when he advised them not to be too sanguine in their expectations; that because the year's receipt, ending January 5, 1786,
amounted to 15,397,4717. the year ending January 5, 1787, would turn out equally. He had, again and again, argued the fallacy of making out an account in such a way; but what he said upon the subject had been rejected with a sort of unbecoming scorn. What he predicted had, however, proved true; for now, instead of the flattering prospect which the right honorable gentleman held out, of our income equalling our expense, it was evident that the receipt of the last year fell 900,0007. short of the receipt of the year, ending January 5, 1786. On this assertion Mr. Sheridan grounded his reasoning, in order to impress the committee with the idea that ministers entertained a much more sanguine opinion of the state of our finances than their real situation warranted. He warned the committee, therefore, against giving way to delusion which might lull them into a dangerous inattention to the national circumstances, declaring that it was much more manly in ministers to state the real situation of the country, to look it in the face; and, if more taxes were really necessary, to lay them on, burdened as the people were already. Mr. Sheridan animadverted upon the budget just opened, and said, admitting that the right honorable gentleman was correct in every one of his statements, still it was evident that there was a deficiency of 900,0007. compared to the amount of the total of the preceding year's ways and means. He declared his concern to hear the East India Company mentioned as a source of the right honorable gentleman's expectations, and that to so large an amount as 350,000l. That circumstance alone was sufficient to fill his mind with great doubt and suspicion of the soundness of all the various expectations which the right honorable gentleman had that day stated to the committee.
Mr. Grenville replied to Mr. Sheridan.
WAYS AND MEANS.
Mr. SHERIDAN observed, that notwithstanding the formidable dilemma into which the honorable gentleman, (Mr. Steele) who spoke last but one, had put the house, by declaring, that if they disliked the manner in which the minister had stated the articles of his budget, he wished they would come forward with their mode of calculation, and shew how the accounts ought to be made out; he certainly should persist in the exercise of his undoubted right to find fault with the minister's budget, wherever he saw, or thought he saw, cause of blame; and look for amendment to them, without feeling himself at all bound to suggest the means of it. Mr. Sheridan proceeded to call the attention of the house to the report of the revenue committee of last year, observing that the right honorable gentleman, who had been chairman to that committee, was not then in the house. (Mr. Grenville at that moment shewing himself Mr. Sheridan said, he begged pardon,he saw the right honorable gentleman; and as he was forthcoming, he heartily wished his revenue might be forthcoming likewise.) He still persisted in maintaining, that the report to which he had alluded, was fallaciously made up, and that every one of the predictions which he had, in the course of the last year hazarded, as to the deficiency of the ways and means, were this year, fully verified and confirmed. The honorable Baronet (Sir Grey Cooper) who sat near him, had proved in a manner perfectly satisfactory to his mind, that there was a very great deficiency in the ways and means, as stated by the minister in the opening of the budget, on Friday; and the noble lord, (Newhaven) who had endeavoured to answer the honorable Baronet, certainly had failed in his attempt. Mr. Sheridan went over the articles of the supply, enumerating them seve