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How is it possible for me to sound where no line can fathom ? And even after you have acceded to these preliminaries, in what situation do you stand ? After accepting of terms of which you are entirely ignorant, and giving up all that it is of importance for you to keep, you at last arrive at a diseussion of the government which France may choose to give to Italy, and of the fate which she may be pleased to assign to Germany. In fact, the question is not, how much you will give for peace, but how much disgrace you will suffer at the outset, how much degradation you will submit to as a preliminary? In these circumstances, then, are we to persevere in the war with a spirit and energy worthy of the British name and of the British character? Or are we, by sending couriers to Paris, to prostrate ourselves at the feet of a subborn and supercilious government, to do what they require, and to submit to whatever they may impose? I hope there is not a hand in His Majesty's councils that would sign the proposals, that there is not a heart in this House that would sanction the measure, and that there is not an individual in the British dominions who would act as the courier.

Mr. Pitt concluded with moving,

“ That an humble address be presented to His Majesty, to assure His Majesty, that that House also felt the utmost concern that His Majesty's earnest endeavours to effect the restoration of peace had been unhappily frustrated, and that the negotiation, in which he had been happily engaged, had been abruptly broken off by the peremptory refusal of the French government to treat, except upon a basis evidently inadmissible, and by their having, in consequence, required His Majesty's plenipotentiary to quit Paris within forty-eight hours.

" To thank His Majesty for having directed the several memorials and papers which had been exchanged in the course of the late discussion, and the account transmitted to His Majesty of its final result, to be laid before the House.

“ That they were perfectly satisfied, from the perusal of these papers, that His Majesty's conduct had been guided by a sincere

desire to effect the restoration of peace, on principles suited to the relative situation of the belligerent powers, and essential for the permanent interests of His Majesty's kingdoms, and the general security of Europe : whilst his enemies had advanced pretensions at once inconsistent with those objects, unsupported even on the grounds on which they were professed to rest, and repugnant both to the system established by repeated treaties; and to the principles and practice which had hitherto regulated the intercourse of independent nations.

“ To assure His Majesty, that, under the protection of Providence, he might place the fullest reliance on the wisdom and firmness of his parliament, on the tried valour of his forces by sea and land, and on the zeal, public spirit, and resources of his kingdoms, for vigorous and effectual support in the prosecution of a contest, which it did not depend on His Majesty to terminate, and which involved in it the security and permanent interests of this country and of Europe."

The House divided on an amendment moved by Mr. Fox, censuring the conduct of ministers in the negotiation:

For the amendment........... 37

Against it......................212 The address was then agreed to.

March 13. 1797.

On a motion by Mr. Harrison, “ That the extent of the supplies voted to government, since the commencement of the present war, having caused so heavy an increase of taxes, it is the duty of this House to enquire whether some relief to the burdens of the people, or provision for further expense, may not be obtained by the reduction of useless places, sinecure offices, exorbitant fees, and other modes of retrench. ment in the expenditure of the public money."

Mr. Pitt spoke to the following effect:

Sir - Though the honourable mover, and the noble lord * who seconded the motion, have thought proper to enter into considerations, which, so far from exactly applying to the subject before the House, go a very great extent beyond it, it is not my intention to enter minutely into objects so completely unconnected with the present motion, and which we may have many opportunities of discussing. It seems to me unnecessary to trouble the House with any allusions either to the origin, or conduct of the present war; or to take a review, or enter into a justification of the great and various questions which have been frequently agitated here. The noble lord has in his speech thought fit to condemn the measures adopted by the last parliament, for the preservation of the internal tranquillity of the kingdom, and the security of the state. But, Sir, the precautionary measures to which he has adverted were not, as he has been pleased to declare, retrenchments of the constitution, but essential safeguards against lawless attacks levelled at the British constitution by a faction, which, though small, was acting with the common enemy, and was openly proceeding not on British, but on French principles. The safety of the state at that time depended on the wise and just precautions which it was found necessary to take; and though I feel that any review of these transactions is foreign to the question on which we are called to decide; yet I trust I may be allowed to notice the manner in which the noble lord has referred to those measures which were calculated to oppose any check to the progress of French principles. He has, Sir, taken great pains to reprobate the proceedings of parliament on that momentous occasion, and the speech which he has deli. vered in support of his honourable friend's motion relates so little to the subject of it, that it appears to have been prepared for another purpose, of which notice has been already given. [Mr. Pitt alluded to Mr. Fox's notice of moving for the repeal of the treason and sedition bills.] But as these measures have been fully discussed and resolved by parliament, I cannot, until this House

* Lord William Russel.

feels convinced of their error, suppose that they have agreed to improper proceedings. While their resolutions on those subjects stand on record, I am authorised in assuming, that they have acted on principles of public order against principles of anarchy and confusion; that they have supported the cause of true liberty against the ravages of licentiousness; that they have protected religion and morality against the desperate attempts of destructive innovation, and that they have preserved our constitution inviolate from the bold and daring attacks of a faction acting in concert with the common enemy of freedom, and of public and private happiness. So far, Sir, I conceive I have an undisputed right to argue on the solemn decision of this House. With respect to the manner in which the honourable gentleman has opened his motion, I am led to observe, that he has not entered into any specific grounds to support it. He has confined himself to very general statements, and he seems to have reserved himself for a particular detail on some other opportunity.

The honourable gentleman appears, from the words of his motion, to have two different objects in view. The first relates to making retrenchments, and correcting profusion in the established offices of government, and in sinecure places and pensions. The second has for its object an enquiry into the state of the national expenditure, and proposes a check on the expenses of the state. This, it is needless for me to urge, is comprehended in a resolution which has already passed this House, to enquire into the finances of the country, and to con. sider of the most practicable means for obtaining a diminution of the public expenditure. The honourable gentleman means to include in the investigation which he proposes, subjects of the most extensive and complicated nature. He wishes to embrace all the ordinary and extraordinary expenses of the different branches of government. He extends his enquiry into the disbursements of the army, navy, and every public establishment. I am ready to admit, that as far as this proposition goes, it forms a subject worthy the consideration of the House; and the magnitude of it appears to be such, that no man can say what will be the effect of it, or to what particular measures it may lead. Yet, Sir, the honourable gentleman, bringing before the House considerations of such extensive views, and of such high importance, adopts a very singular mode of proceeding. He does not think proper to offer matters so momentous and complicated in their relations in a direct manner to parliamentary discussion, but states them as the objects of a collateral enquiry, and introduces them immediately after his motion for retrenchment in the offices of government. But certainly the honourable gentleman will not deny that there is an extreme difference be. tween both objects: for the check which he proposes on the public expenses very much exceeds in importance that reform which he wishes should take place in the establishment and salaries of public offices. The distinction between these two objects being so evident, as the latter does not form any part whatever of the proposition formerly submitted to the House by the hopourable gentleman, nor of the notice which he gave of his motion of this night, I must consider the manner of introducing it not only irregular, but inadequate to the magnitude of the enquiry which he proposes to establish. I also think it necessary to remind gentlemen, that the objects which it comprehend, form the grounds of my motion for the appointment of the committee which has been this night chosen by ballot. I stated in general terms, previous to my bringing forward that motion, the various points to which the attention of the committee was to be directed; but I could not, until I had appointed that committee, proceed to offer, in a specific manner, each of these points. I therefore only stated, that it was my wish and desire to move, as an instruction to the committee, that after enquiring into, and ascertaining the whole state of the finances of the country; after reviewing the whole amount of the debt which had been incurred during the war; after investigating the provision which had been made to meet it; after considering the probable amount of the total expense of public service for the whole of the year 1797, and the sums now applicable for defraying it;--I say, Sir, after taking these steps, it was also

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