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mired-the latter tedious from detail; of course, not so well heard, and answered by Foster in detail to refutation.

"The Attorney General defended the constitutional safety under the Fourth Resolution principle. Orde mentioned the Opposition in England twice in his opening speech, with imputations, or insinuations at least, not very favourable. You were not left undefended. Forbes exerted his warm attachment to you with great effect-Burgh, the flag-ship of the Leinster squadron, gave a well-supported fire pointed against Pitt, and covering you. Hardy (the Bishop of Down's friend), in a very elegant speech gave you due honour; and I had the satisfaction of a slight skirmish, which called up the Attorney General, etc.

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On the 15th of August Mr. Orde withdrew his Bill, and Mr. Corry writes-"I wish you joy a thousand times of our complete victory. Orde has offered the Bill-moved its being printed for own justification to the country, and no more of it this session. We have the effects of a com

his

plete victory."

Another question of much less importance, but more calculated to call forth Sheridan's various powers, was the Plan of the Duke of Richmond for the fortification of dock-yards, which Mr. Pitt brought forward (it was said, with much reluctance,) in the session of 1786, and which Sheridan must have felt the greater pleasure in attacking, from the renegade conduct of its noble author in politics. In speaking of the Report of a Board of

General Officers, which had been appointed to examine into the merits of this plan, and of which the Duke himself was President, he thus ingeniously plays with the terms of the art in question, and fires off his wit, as it were, en ricochet, making it bound lightly from sentence to sen

tence:

"Yet the Noble Duke deserved the warmest panegyrics for the striking proofs he had given of his genius as an engineer; which appeared even in the planning and construction of the paper in his hand! The professional ability of the Master-general shone as conspicuously there, as it could upon our coasts. He had made it an argument of posts; and conducted his reasoning upon principles of trigonometry as well as logic. There were certain detached data, like advanced works, to keep the enemy at a distance from the main object in debate. Strong provisions covered the flanks of his assertions. His very queries were in casements. No impression, therefore, was to be made on this fortress of sophistry by desultory observations; and it was necessary to sit down before it, and assail it by regular approaches. It was fortunate, however, to observe, that notwithstanding all the skill employed by the noble and literary engineer, his mode of defence on paper was open to the same objection which had been urged against his other fortifications; that if his adversary got possession of one of his posts, it became strength against him, and the means of subduing the whole line of his argument."

He also spoke, at considerable length, upon the Plan brought forward by Mr. Pitt for the Redemption of the National Debt-that grand object of the

calculator and the financier, and equally likely, it should seem, to be attained by the dreams of the one as by the experiments of the other. Mr. Pitt himself seemed to dread the suspicion of such a partnership, by the care with which he avoided any acknowledgment to Dr. Price, whom he had nevertheless personally consulted on the subject, and upon whose visions of compound interest this fabric of finance was founded.

In opening the Plan of his new Sinking Fund to the House, Mr. Pitt, it is well known, pronounced it to be " a firm column, upon which he was proud to flatter himself his name might be inscribed." Tycho Brahe would have said the same of his Astronomy, and Des Cartes of his Physics;-but these baseless columns have long passed away, and the Plan of paying debt with borrowed money well deserves to follow them. The delusion, indeed, of which this Fund was made the instrument, during the war with France, is now pretty generally acknowledged; and the only question is, whether Mr. Pitt was so much the dupe of his own juggle, as to persuade himself that thus playing with a debt, from one hand to the other, was paying it—or whether, aware of the inefficacy of his plan for any other purpose than that of keeping up a blind confidence in the money-market, he yet gravely went on, as a sort of High Priest of Finance, profiting by a miracle in which he did not himself believe, and, in ad

392

MEMOIRS OF R. B. SHERIDAN.

dition to the responsibility of the uses to which he applied the money, incurring that of the fiscal imposture by which he raised it.

Though from the prosperous state of the revenue at the time of the institution of this Fund, the absurdity was not yet committed of borrowing money to maintain it, we may perceive by the following acute pleasantry of Mr. Sheridan (who denied the existence of the alleged surplus of income), that he already had a keen insight into the fallacy of that Plan of Redemption afterwards followed:"At present," he said, "it was clear there was no surplus; and the only means which suggested themselves to him were, a loan of a million for the especial purpose-for the Right Honourable gentleman might say, with the person in the comedy, 'If you won't lend me the money, how can I pay you?”

CHAPTER X.

CHARGES AGAINST MR. HASTINGS.

COMMERCIAL

TREATY WITH FRANCE.-DEBTS OF THE PRINCE

OF WALES.

THE calm security into which Mr. Pitt's administration had settled, after the victory which the Tory alliance of King and people had gained for him, left but little to excite the activity of partyspirit, or to call forth those grand explosions of eloquence, which a more electric state of the political world produces. The orators of Opposition might soon have been reduced, like Philoctetes wasting his arrows upon geese at Lemnos,* to expend the armoury of their wit upon the Grahams and Rolles of the Treasury bench. But a subject now presented itself-the Impeachment of Warren Hastings-which, by embodying the cause of a whole country in one individual, and thus combining the extent and grandeur of a national question with the direct aim and singleness of a personal attack, opened as wide a field for display as the most versatile talents could require, and

"Pinnigero, non armigero in corpore tela exerceantur."-Accius, ap. Ciceron. lib. vii. cp. 33.

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