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professes that he cannot act upon general information. But why, says he, did not the danger, which you now apprehend, long before this induce you to demand the adoption of those measures of precaution which you now think it necessary to employ ? No such plans, continued he, were pursued upon any former period. The right honourable gentleman too went out of his way to find comparisons to depreciate the characters of ministers, and asserted, that to such measures as the present much better ministers, in former wars, never had found it necessary to resort. He does not, however, mention, who these much better ministers are ; and if the right honourable gentleman recollects the language he employed during the seven last years of the Ame. rican war, there was a time when he bestowed upon the conduct of that administration epithets as offensive as unjust and diabolical. Why, exclaims the honourable gentleman, did you not call for these measures upon former occasions? Are we, then, gravely deliberating upon a great and important subject, and are we to be told that, in certain given circumstances, no precautions are to be taken, because, at a former period, such measures were not required ? May not the means which were judged adequate in a particular situation, be found insufficient when circumstances alter, or when danger is increased? The honourable gentlemen, though in other points their arguments were at variance, go on together contending that my right honourable friend had said, on a former occasion, that the force which this country possessed was sufficient to repel the attacks of all Europe. Certainly I do not believe that my right honourable friend ever asserted, that in any possible case the volun. teer corps would be sufficient for the defence of the country. If my right honourable friend had asserted that the spirit by which these volunteer associations were dictated, put in action as circumstances requtred, and accommodated to the pressure of danger, would be able to resist the efforts of the whole House of Bourbon, or of the republic of France, aided by any particular branch of the House of Bourbon, or of any other combination of powers - such an opinion I believe to be just, and at least, perfectly consonant to the well-known firmness and zeal of my right honourable friend. But may not the relative situation of the enemy present them with more specific means of carrying their purpose into execution, than they possessed at a former period, when it was necessary to guard against the dangers which then threatened them from various quarters ?
The right honourable gentleman says, you relied on the firmness and attachment of the people two years ago; and is it less now that you have recourse to extraordinary precautions? The attachment and loyalty of the people of this country, I trust, has experienced no diminution. It lives, and is cherished by that constitution which, notwithstanding the assertions of the right honourable gentleman, still remains entire. Under the protection and support which it derives from the acts passed by the last parliament, the constitution inspires the steady affection of the people, and is still felt to be worth defending with every drop of our blood. The voice of the country proclaims that it continues to deserve and to receive their support. Fortified by laws in perfect unison with its principles and with its practice, and fitted to the emergencies by which they were occasioned, it still possesses that just esteem and admiration of the people which will induce them faithfully to defend it against the designs of domestic foes, and the attempts of their foreign enemies. The right honourable gentleman discovers the extent of the adversity into which he represents the country to be fallen in some of the measures now proposed for its defence, and which he reprobates by the name of requisitions ; - a species of levy, however, which, so long as it was practised in France, he did not consider as deserving of any particular disapprobation. I will not at this moment en quire, whether requisitions in France were a right and proper measure; but let not the right honourable gentleman at once maintain that the attachment of the people renders these medsures of defence superfluous, and in the next moment represent, these precautions as proofs of the intolerable pitch of adversity to which the nation is reduced. The situation in which we
are placed does not imply a suspicion of our power, though it justifies our precautions. That prosperity is deceitful and dangerous, if it lead to a false security; that the danger, though groundlessly apprehended, or falsely exaggerated, without exertion upon our part, can alone be of doubtful issue or perilous consequence, is the real opinion which the contemplation of the state of the country is fitted to inspire.
The right honourable gentleman, when he expressed his dislike of the mode of pressing men for the public service, did not specifically apply his objection to the plan of augmenting the militia and raising the new supplies of cavalry, he admits that these may, in some measure, come under the description of personal force. The mode proposed of increasing the militia is not new in its principle. They are to be ballotted in the same manoer as the established militia of the country. The 60,000 men which it was proposed to add, were to be formed precisely as the 90,000 of which the ordinary number consists. The present addition does not exceed the amount for which, on former occasions, it was thought necessary to provide. In 1756, a bill passed for doubling the number. The right honourable gentleman, however, in pressing his argument, runs before his recollection. The 15,000 men for the land and sea service are to be raised according to the provisions of the act passed two years ago upon this subject. Does the right honourable gentleman then consider this to be pressing ? No; it is meant to raise volunteers by contribution among the inhabitants of each parish, and, if they failed to produce the number at which they were rated, they were to pay a certain sum over the yum at which a person to serve could be procured. If the right honourable gentleman reprobates this mode as pressing, what was the language he held upon another occasion, and when a different mode was pursued? In 1794, when voluntary offers of service were introduced for the defence of the country, this mode was reprobated as repugnant to the constitution ; and now, when men are called upon to contribute their property and their personal service to the defence of their country, it is discovered to be unjust, and stigmatised as requisition ? The two honourable gentlemen admit the necessity of precaution, and they reprobate every measure which is. proposed ; and while they agree that it is necessary to provide for the defence of the state, they are dissatisfied with the means by which security is to be obtained. Notwithstanding the unanimity with which the resolution will be voted, I cannot augur well for the future co-operation which the measures may obtain, when I consider the sentiments which the honourable gentlemen entertain, and the observations with which their present concurrence is accompanied.
The resolution was afterwards put and agreed to.
December 8. 1796.
The report of the committee of Ways and Means was brought up. and the resolutions were read a first time. On the motion for their being now read a second time,
Mr. Fox, in very animated language, urged the attention of the House to the circumstance of ministers having granted 1,200,0001., to the Emperor of Germany without the consent of parliament, upon which he dwelt for a considerable time.
Mr. Pitt replied to his observations :
Those who never before had an opportunity of hearing the speeches which the right honourable gentleman has been accustomed to pronounce, and of observing the line of argument which he has been accustomed to employ upon every public question which has been agitated in this House, would certainly have supposed, upon the present occasion, that this day, for the first time in his life, the right honourable gentleman had felt real alarm for the liberties and constitution of his country, and for the first time a point had occurred, so intimately connected with the preservation of their political rights, that in the event of a decision hostile to the opinion which he holds, it is to be vindicated by nothing less than an appeal to the people. But it has happened to those who have often had occasion to attend to the right honourable gentleman, to have heard the same danger represented, and the same consequences applied. It is not once, twice, or three times, that the right honourable gentleman has reprobated with the same emphasis, stigmatised with the same epithets, and denounced as pregnant with ruin to the liberties of the country, measures, which it has been thought necessary to bring forward, and which the wisdom of parliament has thought proper to adopt ; nor is it now the first time that the right honourable gentleman, and those who sit near him, have made a stand behind the last dike of the constitution. It is not the first, the second, nor the third time, I repeat, that upon points which a great majority of the House and of the country deemed to be connected with the preservation of their dearest interests, the right honourable gentleman has raised the cry of alarm, and has affected to see the downfal of the constitution, and the destruction of our liberties. Not many months even have elapsed since the right honourable gentleman stated with the same confidence, and urged with the same fervour, that the liberties of England were annihilated, and its constitution gone, if certain bills then pending passed into law; laws under which, I will venture to affirm, that a vast majority of the people of this country agree that the substantial blessings of their free government have been preserved, and the designs of our real enemies have hitherto been frustrated. Nay, not many hours have elapsed since the right honourable gentleman gave a two months' notice of his intention to move the repeal of those acts which he once represented as a grievance under which he could not sleep.
There is, indeed, something striking, something peculiarly singular, in the manner in which the new constitutional light has broken in upon the right honourable gentleman. This de claration of mind, which has infused so deadly an alarm into the mind of the right honourable gentleman, this declaration by which the constitution is annibilated, was made yesterday ! This declaration is admitted to have been made in a way the