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Meeting of parliament.—Confideration of the Westminster fcrutiny.-Debts of the Nabob of Arcot.—Mr. Burke's speech on the fubject.-Mr. Pitt's plan of parliamentary reform— introduced into parliament-negatived by a great majority. -State of Ireland.—Propofitions of Mr. Pitt to fettle trade on the basis of mutual reciprocity.—Refolutions for that purpofe.-Additional propofitions.-Petitions against them.After confiderable modification they are passed into a law.Sent over to the Irish parliament.—Meffrs. Flood and Grattan oppofe the propofitions.—Their eloquence ftirs up their countrymen to rage and indignation.-They and indignation.-They are abandoned by the British government.—Their real merit.-Mr. Pitt's ftatements of finance, and intimation of a plan for paying the national debt.-The feffion rifes.-Affairs of Europe. Defigns of the emperor upon Bavaria – fupported by Russia -oppofed by Pruffia and Hanover.-France, though in alliance with Auftria, adverfe to Joseph's ambition.-The emperor relinquifbes his defigns upon Bavaria.—Abandons the navigation of the Scheldt, and concludes peace with Holland.-Treaty between France and Holland.-Internal State of France.- Projects for diminishing her enormous debts.-Theories of the philofophical economists.-Influence the practice of politicians and statesmen.—Multiplicity of ingenious writers.-Votaries of innovation.-Doctrines of Voltaire and Rouffeau regarded with enthufiaftic admiration.-Prevalence of infidelity.-Great and increafing proSperity of Britain.-Confidence of the monied interefts in the talents and integrity of Mr. Pitt.- Supporters of the Minifter.-Butts of oppofition, wit, and fatire.-The Rolliad and birth-day odes.-Queftion of literary property.Return of Mr. Haflings.-A great fubject of temporary
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1785. Meeting of
PARLIAMENT met on the 26th of January 1785, and the chief object recommended by his majefty to the attention of the legislature, was the parliament, adjustment of fuch points in the commercial intercourse between Great Britain and Ireland, as had not before been arranged. The fuccefs attending measures which were embraced in the last feffion for the fuppreffion of fmuggling, would encourage them to perfevere in their application to thofe important concerns; they would alfo confider the reports fuggefted by the commiffioners of public ac counts, and make fuch regulations as might appear neceffary in the different offices of the kingdom. Notwithstanding the diffenfions on the continent, his majefty continued to receive affurances from foreign powers of their amicable difpofition towards this country.
The earl of Surrey opposed the addrefs, or rather objected to it on account of what he conceived to be wrongly omitted; efpecially because no mention had been made of the reduction of the army. Lord North, conceiving parliamentary reform to be intended by one recommendatory expreffion, declared his fentiments very ftrongly against any alteration of the conftitution; and Mr. Burke blamed the total filence relative to the affairs of India. Mr. Pitt replied to the objections; the obfervations on the reduction of the army were premature, until the fupplies of the year fhould be before the house: parliamentary reform was a fubject of the highest importance, but at this early period of the feffion it was impoffible to ftate his plans fpecifically all his ideas were not yet tho
roughly matured; the fubject comprehended a CHAP. great variety of confiderations, and related to effentials and vitals of the conftitution; it therefore required confiderate and delicate attention; and though it was a path which he was determined to tread, he knew with what tenderness and circumspection it became him to proceed. There was not a general debate, and the addrefs was carried without a divifion.
The fcrutiny of the Westminster election was Confidera again brought before the house in the month of tion of the February. Mr. Fox had contended, that the election ought to be tried by Mr. Grenville's act, and had imputed the perfeverance in the scrutiny to the perfecuting spirit of the minifter. Mr. Pitt argued, that Mr. Grenville's act was for trying elections virtually made, but that there being no return from Westminster, the law in queftion was not applicable: a fcrutiny had been demanded by one of the candidates, the returning officer had complied, as official duty required; far from having any perfonal motives to promote a fcrutiny, the very reverse was the case; it would have been more con- venient and eafy for minifters to have fuffered Mr. Fox to take his feat without question, but instead of attending to their own accommodation, they had confulted the rights of the electors, and the purposes of substantial justice. The house continued in the fame opinion as to the legality of the fcrutiny; but finding in its progress that, though there were objectionable votes on both fides, a majority, nearly the fame in proportion as at the close VOL. IV.
CHAP. of the poll, remained in favour of Mr. Fox, they judged it expedient and equitable to direct the high bailiff to make a return; and the following day that officer returned lord Hood and Mr. Fox.
Debts of the
nabcb of Arcot.
On the eighteenth of February the nabob of Arcot's debts to Europeans were the fubject of parliamentary difcuffion. In Mr. Fox's India bill the new commiffioners had been inftructed to examine into the origin and justice of the claims; by Mr. Pitt's law the examination was appointed, but referred to the court of directors, who were to enjoin their prefidencies and fervants to enquire into the cafe, and in concert eftablish a fund from the nabob's revenue, for the discharge of the debts which fhould be found juft, that they might be liquidated according to the respective rights of priority of the feveral creditors, and confiftently with the rights of the company, and the honour and dignity of the nabob. Conformably to this claufe, the directors had prepared orders; but after infpection, the board of control rejected them, and gave new inftructions, which admitted the greater part of the debts to be *juft, afligned a fund from the revenues of the Carnatic for their discharge, and established the priority of payment among the feveral claffes of credi tors thefe directions had been publicly read at a meeting of fuch creditors as were in England. Motions were made in both houses, that copies of the letters or injunctions iffued by the court of directors might be produced; the object of this requifition was to prove, that the board of control, in originating the contrary order, had departed from
the express purpose of their inftitution, and had vio- CHAP. lated the act of parliament. Mr. Fox having opened this fubject in the house of commons, and affuming the pofition that was to be proved, expatiated with copious eloquence on the arbitrary power which was ufurped by the board of control, and the mischievous confequences that the present act must produce to the interefts of the Carnatic, and of the India company. Mr. Dundas argued from the act of parliament, that the power exercised was not an ufurpation, fince, by the strict letter of the ftatute, the board was enabled to originate orders in cafes of urgent neceffity, and to direct their tranfmiffion to India. In the prefent exercise of that power, the board of control had acted upon the most 'complete information that could be received, and had directed the arrangement in question, on finding it the most fair and just to all the parties concerned. It was expedient not to keep the nabob's debts longer afloat; the final conclufion of the business would tend to promote tranquillity and harmony, and the debtor had concurred with the creditors in establishing the validity of the claims. After these general obfervations, he, by a particular detail of their respective circumstances, undertook to justify the several debts which were admitted by
On this fubject Mr. Burke made a very long ora tion, which displayed a moft extenfive knowledge of the history and state of India; but it was much more remarkable for narratives, imagery, and philofophy, to inform, delight, and inftruct a reader in his clofet, than for appropriate arguments to the F 2 point