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MR. POWYS'S MOTION, THAT THE KING WILL COMPLY WITH THE WISHES OF HIS COMMONS.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer having informed the house, on the 18th, that His Majesty had not thought proper to dismiss his ministers, and that his ministers had not resigned, Mr. Powys this day moved an address, to express "the reliance of the house on His Majesty's royal wisdom, that he would take such measures as might tend to give effect to the wishes of his faithful commons, which had been already most humbly presented to His Majesty."
Mr. Sheridan warmly supported the motion; and the address was carried by a majority of 21.
On this day it was moved by Lord Beauchamp, and seconded by Mr. Sheridan, that the house, at its rising, should adjourn to the 27th, in order that their proceedings should be considered with peculiar deliberation and temper.-The question being put, it was carried unanimously.
The answer of His Majesty was this day reported, in which, after assuring the house of his earnest desire to put an end to the divisions and distractions of the country; he declared, that he could not see it would in any degree be advanced by the dismission of those at present in his service, &c.—Lord Beauchamp moved, that the answer should be taken into consideration on the 1st of March; and on a division, the numbers were, ayes 175, noes 168.In the course of the debate, the ministerial side of the house having animadverted very warmly on the former adjournment,
Mr. SHERIDAN said, that the late adjournment had not been proposed without the knowledge of a worthy alderman of the city of London, Mr. Alderman Townshend, much in the interest and confidence of the present minister; and that gentleman, on being asked, said he had no objection to the adjournment.
On the 1st of March, a second address was made to His Majesty, to dismiss his ministers.-The reply of the King, similar to the for
mer, was taken into consideration on the 8th; and a further representation made to His Majesty, which was equally unsuccessful.—On the 24th, Parliament was prorogued, and the day following, dissolved by proclamation.
FARTHER CONSIDERATION OF THE WESTMINSTER ELECTION.
At the late general election, Lord Hood, Mr. Fox, and Sir Cecil Wray, offered themselves as candidates to represent the city of Westminster in Parliament. The first of these gentlemen was elected by a very large majority. The struggle between the two last was long, and obstinate. After continuing the contest for upwards of six weeks, it was finally concluded, the 17th of May, 1784, leaving a majority of 235 voters in favor of Mr. Fox, The high bailiff, at the requisition of Sir C. Wray, granted a scrutiny into the pole he had taken on the day it closed, and which was the day previous to the return of his writ. This mode of proceeding was formally protested against, on the spot, by Mr. Fox, and also by several of the electors. Immediately on the meeting of the new parliament, the conduct of the high bailiff, in granting the scrutiny under the cir cumstances above mentioned, was warmly taken up by opposition, and as warmly defended by the minister and his friends. After the subject had been debated, as well by counsel at the bar of the house, as by the members themselves, in every shape, the proceeding of the high bailiff was justified; and it was resolved, by a very considerable majority, on the motion of Lord Mulgrave, that the high bailiff should proceed in the scrutiny.
Mr. SHERIDAN said, he hoped the house was not unreasonable enough to expect him to reply to the reasoning or argument of the speech they had just heard (Mr. Pitt's); in which, from the beginning to the end, he defied the most discerning man in that auditory, to discover one syllable of argument or reason. If government could be vindicated by an avowal of its interposition in the Westminster election, it was certainly vindicated. If the high bailiff could be justified from the circumstance of his right honorable friend's giving a vote upon the Middlesex election in 1768 (at a time of life, when a learned gentleman over the way (the Master of the Rolls) tells the house, that his right honorable friend
was disqualified from exercising the rights of a mem ber of parliament by minority) the high bailiff is certainly justified.-If the impression made by his right honorable friend's speech could be effaced by hard words, and lofty sounds, its effect would be to the full as slight and trifling, even as the effect of the right honorable gentleman's own speech.-If severity of epithet, if redundancy of egotism, if pomp of panegyric upon administration, could refute the arguments of the most convincing speech (Mr. Fox's) he had ever the good fortune to hear, undoubtedly it was very completely refuted. But, if the people of England looked for the defence of the high bailiff of Westminster, and of His Majesty's ministers (who were in this case synonymous) upon principles of law, justice, good sense, or equity, beyond all doubt they were disappointed. He said, the idea that no harm would ensue from establishing the precedent, that would grow out of the decision of the house, if the high bailiff were ordered to continue the scrutiny, was the weakest he had ever heard suggested. To say, that the high bailiff's reasons, whenever he did not obey the sheriff's precept, and punish him, if he did not assign very good reasons for his conduct, afforded but little satisfaction. Was it to be supposed, if the high bailiff was advised by the friends of the court to make an historical return while acting without doors, and followed that advice, that he would not find friends of the court enough within doors to hold him harmless, and protect him from punishment, when he came to the bar to answer for what he had done? Mr. Sheridan complained of Mr. Pitt's having used his right honorable friend unhandsomely, in talking of a candidate, whose political conduct and principles had rendered him detestable to the people. Such language might be allowed in the mouth of a new member, just come from his constituents, who had filled his ears with expressions of that gross and vulgar nature; but from the right honorable gentleman, who must know that nothing but
the heat and passion of the times could excuse such phrases being used by any gentleman, it surely was highly unjustifiable. Besides, the right honorable gentleman, he was persuaded, was not sincere in his words; he must have both a personal and a political confidence in his right honorable friend, or he must either be insincere in what he had said then, or in what he had said on a former occasion. Let the house recollect, that the right honorable gentleman had courted an union with his right honorable friend a few months since, and had professed himself-extremely desirous of effecting such a junction. Mr. Sheridan said, he was aware the right honorable gentleman had put his case hypothetically; but he had done it so pointedly, that every person must have known who he meant.
Mr. Sheridan concluded with this observation: "If the high bailiff of Westminster were of another complexion, and valued his character beyond the corrupt indemnity which arose from the support of a violent government, I should have considered his situation as most lamentable and wretched; but, speaking of him merely as he is, the speech of the right honorable gentleman (Mr. Pitt) aggravates his conduct in a tenfold degree; as it shews that the great abilities of that right honorable gentleman were exerted for near an hour and a half in favor of the high bailiff; and that, so far from exculpating him, a fair construction of all that he said, absolutely established the bailiff's guilt."
On this day, Mr. Sawbridge moved, "That a Committee be appointed to enquire into the present state of the representation of the commons of Great Britain in parliament."-Lord Mulgrave moved the previous question.
Mr. SHERIDAN said, so far from his thinking what had fallen early in the debate from the young
member (Mr. M. A. Taylor), who had spoken last but one, rendered a previous question either necessary or proper, the motion of his honorable friend, the worthy alderman (Sawbridge), appeared to him to be exactly adapted to the situation of the honorable member: because the motion was not a motion for this or that particular mode of reform, but a motion for the appointment of a committee to enquire into the state of the representation. From that committee the honorable gentleman might learn facts, upon a knowledge of which alone he could form an opinion, and make up his mind; he hoped, therefore, the noble lord (Mulgrave) would not persist in his motion for the previous question. From the noble lord's well-known candor, he was inclined to hope he would withdraw it; and indeed he had another reason for thinking so, which appeared to him to be a very forcible one, and to be likely to operate more upon his mind, than any other he could suggest; and that was, a consideration for the character of the right honorable gentleman at the head of the Exchequer (Mr. Pitt). That right honorable gentleman had supported the motion so ably and so vigorously in the course of the debate, that he was himself perfectly satisfied and convinced, that the right honorable gentleman, notwithstanding he might not, in his own private opinion, think that the best moment for bringing the subject forward, was sincerely a well-wisher to the motion, and a real friend to a sober and temperate parliamentary reform. What a risk then would the noble lord put his right honorable friend to, if, hy moving a previous question at that late hour of the night, he afforded the public room for suspicion, that such a motion was made collusively, and with the right honorable gentleman's connivance? For these reasons, he hoped the noble lord would withdraw his motion.
Lord Mulgrave having observed, "that he disdained the imputation of collusion; and if there was any crime in proposing the pre vious question, Lord North, who defended that motion, was his accomplice in that foul crime.'