Page images
PDF
EPUB

should appear proper. The right honorable gentleman certainly had answered him, and the house would judge for themselves of the propriety of the answer.

Mr. Sheridan observed, that the honorable gentleman, after having put a pointed question, and received an immediate answer, was bound, in honor and fairness, either to declare that he was satisfied, or to take some means of putting the matter into such a state of enquiry as should satisfy him. To remain silent, or to declare that the house would judge for themselves after what had passed, was neither manly nór candid. If, therefore, the honorable gentleman did not choose to say that he was satisfied, the house ought to come to a resolution, that it was seditious and disloyal to propagate reports injurious to the character of his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and thus by authority. discountenance the report.

Mr. Rolle contended, that it was his affection for the Prince, and his desire he should stand well with the country, which had induced him to state that he had heard reports of a nature injurious to his character. He had not invented those reports, but merely said, that he had heard them, and that they had made an impression on his mind. With a view to ascertain how far they had been founded, he had put the question to the right honorable gentleman, and in so doing, he was persuaded that he had not acted in any unparlia mentary manner.

Mr. Pitt declared, that he had never heard so direct an attack upon the freedom of debate and the liberty of speech in that house, since he had sat in parliament. The privilege of forcing injudicious and distressing motions on the house still remained to every gentleman who chose to avail himself of that freedom; and it was extraordinary, indeed, to see an attempt made to restrain other gentlemen who wished to interfere for the purpose of depreciating such motions. The honorable gentleman who took so warm a part in the business on the other side of the house, should rather be obliged to the honorable gentleman who was the first to suggest a question, which had been the means of bringing forward so explicit a declaration on so interesting a subject, and one which must give complete satisfaction, not only to the honorable gentleman himself, but to the whole house.

Mr. Sheridan answered, that most undoubtedly the freedom of debate ought to continue unlimited and unrestrained; and no man could wish more sin

cerely than he did, that it should; but he must deny that he had said any thing which looked like an infringement of that freedom. An honorable gentleman first threw out an insinuation, that something affecting the safety of church and state was involved in a question about to be brought on relative to the Prince of Wales; that insinuation was met by a direct refutation of the calumny to which the insinuation pointed, coupled with an offer that his Royal Highness was willing to stand up in his place as a peer of parliament, and answer any pointed questions which might be put to him on the subject. The honorable gentleman then desired to know, whether the refutation comes from authority, and he was told explicitly that it did; and then he refused either to say that he was satisfied that his insinuation was unfounded, or to take the most effectual means of discovering whether it was so or not. This, Mr. Sheridan declared, was the fair state of the case; and he would appeal to the house, nay, he would appeal to the candor of the right honorable gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) himself, whether, under such circumstances, it was honorable, manly, and fair, or candid, for the honorable gentleman to remain silent; and whether he ought not either to declare that he was satisfied, or to resort to means of ascertaining the fact; for it was adding, in a tenfold degree, to the malicious falsehood which had been propagated against his Royal Highness, to say that the Prince had authorized a false denial of the fact, The honorable gentleman, by putting the question to his right honorable friend had, as it were, admitted that a direct answer would satisfy him; and he ought to have said that it did, or not to have put the question. He observed, that the right honorable gentleman had himself been obliged to assume, "that the honorable member must be satisfied," since he had never acknowledged that he was so. He must therefore, repeat, that the house ought to declare,

by a resolution, that it was seditious and disloyal to propagate reports injurious to the character of the Prince of Wales.

[ocr errors]

MAY 4.

AFFAIRS OF THE PRINCE OF WALES.

The favourable impression which the last debate, from the open and manly conduct of the Prince, and the harshness with which he had been treated in his most private and personal concerns, left upon the minds of men both within and without the doors of parliament, appears to have given the minister a serious apprehension, that upon the question itself he might be left in a minority; for the next day's overtures were made to his Royal Highness to bring the business to a private accommodation. On Thursday, the 3d of May, Mr. Pitt had an audience at Carlton House; and the same night the Prince was informed by His Majesty's command, in general terms, that if the motion intended to be made the next day in the house of commons should be withdrawn, every thing might be settled to his Royal Highnes's satisfaction. Accordingly on this day, the 4th of May, Mr. Newnham being in his place in the house, in which upwards of four hundred members were assembled; he rose and said he felt the highest satisfaction in being able to inform the house, that his intended motion was no longer necesssary. Several members joined in expressing in the warmest terms, the great satisfaction this information gave, them.

Mr. SHERIDAN remarked, that he did not dissent from the right honorable gentleman's (Mr. Pitt's) wish, that the conversation should not be prolonged, He did not, however, conceive that the necessity for abridging it, could arise from any apprehension that it could terminate in altercation, or difference of opinion. He could not but believe, that upon that day there existed but one feeling, and one sentiment in the house-that of a heart-felt satisfaction at the auspicious conclusion to which the business was understood to be brought. He would not enter into the distinctions which the right honorable gentleman had attempted to make;-if it was meant to be insinuated that the merit of this presumed reconciliation belonging exclusively to His Majesty's ministers, be it so. The gentlemen who were sup

posed to be admitted to the honor of His Royal Highness's confidence, would convince them of their sincere anxiety that that end should be obtained, by waving every claim to credit, with regard to the means. In truth, the measures which had been adopted were the result of His Royal Highness's own judgment, which none but those who did not know him, could consider as needing the aid of any other person's council.

Mr. Sheridan wished it however to be understood, that though His Royal Highness felt the most perfect satisfaction at the prospect before him, in which he was convinced that the idea of relief from pecuniary embarrassment, farther than it gratified the just and honorable feelings of his royal mind towards others, had the least share; yet did he also desire it to be distinctly remembered, that no attempt had at any time been made to screen any part of his conduct, actions, or situation, from their view; and that he had even offered to answer himself any question which could be put to him. That no such idea had been pursued, and that no such enquiry had been adopted, was a point which did credit to the decorum, the feelings, and the dignity of parliament; but whilst His Royal Highness's feelings had no doubt been considered on this occasion, he must take the liberty of saying, however some might think it a subordinate consideration, that there was another person intitled, in every delicate and honorable mind, to the same attention;one whom he would not otherwise venture to describe or allude to, but by saying it was a name which malice or ignorance alone could attempt to injure, and whose conduct and character claimed, and were entitled to the truest respect.

The order of the day was read, for the house to resolve itself into a committee upon the bill, authorising the forming of the

TAX UPON POST HORSES;

and upon the Speaker putting the question, "that he leave the chair,"

Mr. Sheridan observed, that he would not detain the house two minutes; but as he had happened to be otherwise engaged, and not able to attend his duty in that house, when the bill was last debated, he thought it necessary to say, that he should take the opportunity of delivering his sentiments against the bill at the next proper stage of it-at the third reading. For the present, as he considered the bill totally unfit to pass, he should take the sense of the house against the Speaker's leaving the chair. The house accordingly divided; ayes 147; noes 100.

MAY 15.

ABUSES IN THE POST OFFICE.

Mr. Grey moved, that a committee be appointed, to enquire into certain abuses in the post-office, and which had come to his knowledge in consequence of the dismission of a noble relative of his, the Earl of Tankerwille, from the office of Joint Post Master General; and which were not likely to be remedied otherwise than by parliamentary enquiry, as the part taken by the minister in the business would clearly prove. The several facts upon which this accusation was founded, as they afterwards appeared confirmed by the report of the committee appointed to enquire thereinto, were as follow. First, that in 1775, Mr. Lees, on receiving an appointment to be Secretary to the post office in Ireland, entered into security to pay the sum of 3501. a year out of the profits of that office to a person described by the letters A. B., but whose real name when the Earl of Tankerville first attempted to examine into this transaction, Mr. Lees considered himself bound to conceal. It afterwards appeared, that this person was a Mr. Treves, an intimate friend of Lord Carteret, who was at the time of the above appointment, Joint Post Master General with Lord le Despenser, and privy to the whole transaction. It appeared from the evidence of Mr. Todd, secretary to the post-office, that Lord Carteret was greatly displeased and disquieted by the discovery of this business; and that he, Mr. Todd, had at the time, expressed his disapprobation of it to both Post Masters General.—Secondly, it appeared, that the payment of an annuity of 2001. had been exacted from a Mr. Dashwood, appointed Postmaster-General of Jamaica, as the condition of his appointment; and had been regularly paid by him to Mr. Treves; and that the said Mr. Treves had never performed any public service in the post-office, or in any other public department, to entitle him to any public reward.-Thirdly, Mr. Molyneux, agent to the packets at Helvoetsluys, had been permitted,

« PreviousContinue »