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us off. Sir, it is impossible for us to get off, without first recovering that confidence with our ancient allies which formerly we possessed. This we can not do, so long as they suppose that our councils are influenced by our late minister; and this they will suppose so long as he has access to the King's closet-so long as his conduct remains uninquired into and uncensured. It is not, therefore, in revenge for our past disasters, but from a desire to prevent them in future, that I am now so zealous for this inquiry. The punishment of the minister, be it ever so severe, will be but a small atonement for the past. But his impunity will be the source of many future mis

eries to Europe, as well as to his country. Let us be as merciful as we will, as merciful as any man can reasonably desire, when we come to pronounce sentence; but sentence we must pronounce. For this purpose, unless we are resolved to sacrifice our own liberties, and the liberties of Europe, to the preservation of one guilty man, we must make the inquiry.

The motion was rejected by a majority of two. A second motion was made a fortnight after, for an inquiry into the last ten years of Walpole's administration, which gave rise to another speech of Mr. Pitt. This will next be given.




LORD LIMERICK's first motion for an inquiry into the conduct of Walpole was lost chiefly through the absence of Mr. Pulteney from the House during the illness of a favorite daughter. On the return of Pulteney at the end of a fortnight, the motion was renewed, with a variation in one respect, viz., that the inquiry be extended only to the last ten years of Walpole's continuance in office.

On that occasion, Mr. Pitt made the following speech in answer to Mr. Cook Harefield, who had recently taken his seat in the House. In it he shows his remarkable power of reply; and argues with great force the propriety of inquiry, as leading to a decision whether an impeachment should be commenced.


As the honorable gentleman who spoke last against the motion has not been long in the House, it is but charitable to believe him sincere in professing that he is ready to agree to a parliamentary inquiry when he thinks the occasion requires it. But if he knew how often such professions are made by those who upon all occasions oppose inquiry, he would now avoid them, because they are generally believed to be insincere. He may, it is true, have nothing to dread, on his own account, from inquiry. But when a gentleman has contracted, or any of his near relations have contracted, a friendship with one who may be brought into danger, it is very natural to suppose that such a gentleman's opposition to an inquiry does not entirely proceed from public motives; and if that gentleman follows the advice of some of his friends, I very much question whether he will ever think the occasion requires an inquiry into the conduct of our public affairs.

This, sir, would be a most convenient doctrine for ministers, because it would put an end to all parliamentary inquiries into the conduct of our public affairs; and, therefore, when I hear it urged, and so much insisted on, by a certain set of gentlemen in this House, I must suppose their hopes to be very extensive. I must suppose them to expect that they and their posterity will forever continue in office. Sir, this doctrine has been so often contradicted by experience, that I am surprised to hear it advanced by gentlemen now. This very session has afforded us a convincing proof that very little foundation exists for asserting, that a parliamentary inquiry must necessarily reveal the secrets of the government. Surely, in a war with Spain, which must be carried on principally by sea, if the government have secrets, the Lords of the Admiralty must be intrusted with the most important of them. Yet, sir, in this very session, we have, without any secret committees, made inAs a parliamentary inquiry must always be quiry into the conduct of the Lords Commisfounded upon suspicions, as well as upon facts sioners of the Admiralty. We have not only or manifest crimes, reasons may always be found inquired into their conduct, but we have cenfor alleging those suspicions to be without foun-sured it in such a manner as to put an end to dation; and upon the principle that a parliamentary inquiry must necessarily lay open the secrets of government, no time can ever be proper or convenient for such inquiry, because it is impossible to suppose a time when the government has no secrets to disclose.

the trust which was before reposed in them. Has that inquiry discovered any of the secrets of our government? On the contrary, the committee found that there was no occasion to probe into such secrets. They found cause enough for censure without it; and none of the Commission

ers pretended to justify their conduct by the assertion that the papers contained secrets which ought not to be disclosed.

This, sir, is so recent, so strong a proof that there is no necessary connection between a parliamentary inquiry and a discovery of secrets which it behooves the nation to conceal, that I trust gentlemen will no longer insist upon this danger as an argument against the inquiry. Sir, the First Commissioner of the Treasury has nothing to do with the application of secret service money. He is only to take care that it be regularly issued from his office, and that no more be issued than the conjuncture of affairs appears to demand. As to the particular application, it properly belongs to the Secretary of State, or o such other persons as his Majesty employs. Hence we can not suppose the proposed inquiry will discover any secrets relative to the application of that money, unless the noble lord has acted as Secretary of State, as well as First Commissioner of the Treasury; or unless a great part of the money drawn out for secret service has been delivered to himself or persons employed by him, and applied toward gaining a corrupt influence in Parliament or at elections. Of both these practices he is most grievously suspected, and both are secrets which it very much behooves him to conceal. But, sir, it equally behooves the nation to discover them. His country and he are, in this cause, equally, although oppositely concerned. The safety or ruin of one or the other depends upon the fate of the question; and the violent opposition which this question has experienced adds great strength to the suspicion.

I admit, sir, that the noble lord [Walpole], whose conduct is now proposed to be inquired into, was one of his Majesty's most honorable Privy Council, and consequently that he must have had a share at least in advising all the measures which have been pursued both abroad and at home. But I can not from this admit, that an inquiry into his conduct must necessarily occasion a discovery of any secrets of vital importance to the nation, because we are not to inquire into the measures themselves.

perpetrated with so much caution and secrecy, that it will be difficult to bring them to light even by a parliamentary inquiry; but the very suspicion is ground enough for establishing such inquiry, and for carrying it on with the utmost strictness and vigor.


Whatever my opinion of past measures may be, I shall never be so vain, or bigoted to that opinion, as to determine, without any inquiry, against the majority of my countrymen. If I found the public measures generally condemned, let my private opinions of them be ever so favorable, I should be for inquiry in order to convince the people of their error, or at least to furnish myself with the most authentic arguments in favor of the opinion I had embraced. desire of bringing others into the same sentiments with ourselves is so natural, that I shall always suspect the candor of those who, in politics or religion, are opposed to free inquiry. Besides, sir, when the complaints of the people are general against an administration, or against any particular minister, an inquiry is a duty which we owe both to our sovereign and the people. We meet here to communicate to our sovereign the sentiments of his people. We meet here to redress the grievances of the people. By performing our duty in both respects, we shall always be enabled to establish the throne of our sovereign in the hearts of his people, and to hinder the people from being led into insurrection and rebellion by misrepresentations or false surmises. When the people complain, they must either be right or in error. they be right, we are in duty bound to inquire into the conduct of the ministers, and to punish those who appear to have been most guilty. If they be in error, we ought still to inquire into the conduct of our ministers, in order to convince the people that they have been misled. We ought not, therefore, in any question relating to inquiry, to be governed by our own sentiments. We must be governed by the sentiments of our constituents, if we are resolved to perform our duty, both as true representatives of the people, and as faithful subjects of our King.


I perfectly agree with the honorable gentleman, that if we are convinced that the public measures are wrong, or that if we suspect them to be so, we ought to make inquiry, although there is not much complaint among the people. But I wholly differ from him in thinking that notwithstanding the administration and the minister are the subjects of complaint among the people, we ought not to make inquiry into his conduct unless we are ourselves convinced that his measures have been wrong. Sir, we can no more determine this question without inquiry, than a judge without a trial can declare any man innocent of a crime laid to his charge. Common fame is a sufficient ground for an in

But, sir, suspicions have gone abroad relative to his conduct as a Privy Counselor, which, if true, are of the utmost consequence to be inquired into. It has been strongly asserted that he was not only a Privy Counselor, but that he usurped the whole and sole direction of his Majesty's Privy Council. It has been asserted that he gave the Spanish court the first hint of the unjust claim they afterward advanced against our South Sea Company, which was one chief cause of the war between the two nations. And it has been asserted that this very minister has advised the French in what manner to proceed in order to bring our Court into their measures; particularly, that he advised them as to the nu-quisition at common law; and for the same reamerous army they have this last summer sent into Westphalia. What truth there is in these assertions, I pretend not to decide. The facts are of such a nature, and they must have been

son, the general voice of the people of England ought always to be regarded as a sufficient ground for a parliamentary inquiry.

But, say gentlemen, of what is this minister

accused? What crime is laid to his charge? | suppose our minister, either personally or by othFor, unless some misfortune is said to have hap- ers, has ever corrupted an election, because no pened, or some crime to have been committed, information has been brought against him. Sir, no inquiry ought to be set on foot. Sir, the ill nothing but a pardon, upon the conviction of the posture of our affairs both abroad and at home; offender, has ever yet been offered in this case; the melancholy situation we are in; the distress- and how could any informer expect a pardon, es to which we are now reduced, are sufficient and much less a reward, when he knew that the causes for an inquiry, even supposing the minis- very man against whom he was to inform had ter accused of no particular crime or misconduct. not only the distribution of all public rewards, The nation lies bleeding, perhaps expiring. The but the packing of a jury or a Parliament against balance of power has been fatally disturbed. him? While such a minister preserves the faShall we acknowledge this to be the case, and vor of the Crown, and thereby the exercise of its shall we not inquire whether it has happened by power, this information can never be expected. mischance, or by the misconduct, perhaps by the malice prepense, of the minister? Before the Treaty of Utrecht, it was the general opinion that in a few years of peace we should be able to pay off most of our debts. We have now been very nearly thirty years in profound peace, at least we have never been engaged in any war but what we unnecessarily brought upon ourselves, and yet our debts are almost as great as they were when that treaty was concluded.' Is not this a misfortune, and shall we not make inquiry into its cause?

I am surprised to hear it said that no inquiry ought to be set on foot unless it is known that some public crime has been committed. Sir, the suspicion that a crime has been committed has always been deemed a sufficient reason for instituting an inquiry. And is there not now a suspicion that the public money has been applied toward gaining a corrupt influence at elections? Is it not become a common expression, "The flood-gates of the Treasury are opened against a general election ?" I desire no more than that every gentleman who is conscious that such practices have been resorted to, either for or against him, should give his vote in favor of the motion. Will any gentleman say that this is no crime, when even private corruption has such high penalties inflicted by express statute against it? Sir, a minister who commits this crimewho thus abuses the public money, adds breach of trust to the crime of corruption; and as the crime, when committed by him, is of much more dangerous consequence than when committed by a private man, it becomes more properly the object of a parliamentary inquiry, and merits the severest punishment. The honorable gentleman may with much more reason tell us that Porteous was never murdered by the mob at Edinburgh, because, notwithstanding the high reward as well as pardon proffered, his murderers were never discovered,a than tell us that we can not

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This shows, sir, the impotence of the act, mentioned by the honorable gentleman, respecting that sort of corruption which is called bribery. With regard to the other sort of corrup tion, which consists in giving or taking away those posts, pensions, or preferments which depend upon the arbitrary will of the Crown, the act is still more inefficient. Although it would be considered most indecent in a minister to tell any man that he gave or withheld a post, pension, or preferment, on account of his voting for or against any ministerial measure in Parliament, or any ministerial candidate at an election; yet, if he makes it his constant rule never to give a post, pension, or preferment, but to those who vote for his measures and his candidates; if he makes a few examples of dismissing those who vote otherwise, it will have the same effect as when he openly declares it.3 Will any gentleman say that this has not been the practice of the minister? Has he not declared, in the face of this House, that he will continue the practice? And will not this have the same effect as if he went separately to every particular man, and told him in express terms, "Sir, if you vote for such a measure or such a candidate, you shall have the first preferment in the gift of the Crown; if you vote otherwise, you must not expect to keep what you have ?" Gentlemen may deny that the sun shines at noon-day; but if they have eyes, and do not willfully shut them, or turn their backs, no man will believe them to be ingenuous in what they say. I think, therefore, that the honorable gentleman was in the right who endeavored to justify the practice. It was more candid than to deny it. But as his arguments have already been fully answered, I shall not farther discuss them.

Gentlemen exclaim, "What! will you take from the Crown the power of preferring or cashiering the officers of the army ?" No, sir, this is neither the design, nor will it be the effect of our agreeing to the motion. The King at pres

a few nights after, broke open his prison, and hanged him on the spot where he had fired. A reward of £200 was offered, but the perpetrators could not be discovered.

3 It will be recollected that, in consequence of his parliamentary opposition to Sir Robert Walpole, Mr. Pitt had been himself dismissed from the army. The Duke of Bolton and Lord Cobham had also, for a similar reason, been deprived of the command of their regiments.

ent possesses the absolute power to prefer or cashier the officers of our army. It is a prerogative which he may employ for the benefit or safety of the public; but, like other prerogatives, it may be abused, and when it is so abused, the minister is responsible to Parliament. When an officer is preferred or cashiered for voting in favor of or against any court measure or candidate, it is an abuse of this prerogative, for which the minister is answerable. We may judge from circumstances or outward appearances-from these we may condemn, and I hope we have still a power to punish a minister who dares to advise the King to prefer or cashier from such motives! Sir, whether this prerogative ought to remain as it is, without any limitation, is a question foreign to this debate. But I must observe, that the argument employed for it might, with equal justice, be employed for giving our King an absolute power over every man's property; because a large property will always give the possessor a command over a great body of men, whom he may arm and discipline if he pleases. I know of no law to restrain him-I hope none will ever exist-I wish our gentlemen of estates would make more use of this power than they do, because it would tend to keep our domestic as well as our foreign enemies in awe. For my part, I think that a gentleman who has earned his commission by his services (in his military capacity, I mean), or bought it with his money, has as much a property in it as any man has in his estate, and ought to have it as well secured by the laws of his country. While it remains at the absolute will of the Crown, he must, unless he has some other estate to depend on, be a slave to the minister; and if the officers of our army long continue in that state of slavery in which they are at present, I am afraid it will make slaves of us all.

The only method to prevent this fatal consequence, as the law now stands, is to make the best and most constant use of the power we possess as members of this House, to prevent any minister from daring to advise the King to make a bad use of his prerogative. As there is such a strong suspicion that this minister has done so, we ought certainly to inquire into it, not only for the sake of punishing him if guilty, but as a terror to all future ministers.

This, sir, may therefore be justly reckoned among the many other sufficient causes for the inquiry proposed. The suspicion that the civil list is greatly in debt is another; for if it is, it must either have been misapplied, or profusely thrown away, which abuse it is our duty both to prevent and to punish. It is inconsistent with the honor of this nation that the King should stand indebted to his servants or tradesmen, who may be ruined by delay of payment. Parliament has provided sufficiently to prevent this dishonor from being brought upon the nation, and, if the provision we have made should be lavished or misapplied, we must supply the deficiency. We ought to do it, whether the King makes any application for that purpose or not; |


and the reason is plain, because we ought first to inquire into the management of that revenue, and punish those who have occasioned the deficiency. They will certainly choose to leave the creditors of the Crown and the honor of the nation in a state of suffering, rather than advise the King to make an application which may bring censure upon their conduct, and condign punishment upon themselves. Besides this, sir, another and a stronger reason exists for promoting an inquiry. There is a strong suspicion that the public money has been applied toward corrupting voters at elections, and members when elected; and if the civil list be in debt, it affords reason to presume that some part of this revenue has, under the pretense of secret service money, been applied to this infamous purpose.

I shall conclude, sir, by making a few remarks upon the last argument advanced against the proposed inquiry. It has been said that the minister delivered in his accounts annually; that these accounts were annually passed and approved by Parliament; and that therefore it would be unjust to call him now to a general account, because the vouchers may be lost, or many expensive transactions have escaped his memory. It is true, sir, estimates and accounts were annually delivered in. The forms of proceeding made that necessary. But were any of these estimates and accounts properly inquired into? Were not all questions of that description rejected by the minister's friends in Parliament? Did not Parliament always take them upon trust, and pass them without examination? Can such a superficial passing, to call it no worse, be deemed a reason for not calling him to a new and general account? If the steward to an infant's estate should annually, for twenty years together, deliver in his accounts to the guardians; and the guardians, through negli gence, or for a share of the plunder, should annually pass his accounts without examination, or at least without objection; would that be a reason for saying that it would be unjust in the infant, when he came of age, to call his steward to account? Especially if that steward had built and furnished sumptuous palaces, living, during the whole time, at a much greater expense than his visible income warranted, and yet amassing great riches? The public, sir, is always in a state of infancy; therefore no prescription can be pleaded against it—not even a general release, if there is the least cause for supposing that it was surreptitiously obtained. Public vouchers ought always to remain on record; nor ought any public expense to be incurred without a voucher-therefore the case of the public is still stronger than that of an infant. Thus, sir, the honorable gentleman who made use of this objection, must see how little it avails in the case before us; and therefore I trust we shall have his concurrence in the question.

The motion prevailed by a majority of seven. A committee of twenty-one was appointed, composed of Walpole's political and personal oppo


They entered on the inquiry with great | tion from peculators and others, who might wish zeal and expectation. But no documentary to cover their crimes by making the minister a proofs of importance could be found. Witnesses partaker in their guilt. "The result of all their were called up for examination as to their trans- inquiries," says Cooke, 66 was charges so few and actions with the treasury; but they refused to so ridiculous, when compared with those put fortestify, unless previously indemnified against the ward at the commencement of the investigation, consequences of the evidence they might be re- that the promoters of the prosecution were themquired to give. The House passed a bill of in- selves ashamed of their work. Success was demnity, but the Lords rejected it, as dangerous found impracticable, and Lord Orford enjoyed his in its tendency, and calculated to invite accusa- honors unmolested."-Hist. of Party, ii., 316.




GEORGE II, when freed from the trammels of Walpole's pacific policy, had a silly ambition of appearing on the Continent, like William III., at the head of a confederate army against France, while he sought, at the same time, to defend and aggrandize his Electorate of Hanover at the expense of Great Britain. In this he was encouraged by Lord Carteret, who succeeded Walpole as prime minister. The King therefore took sixteen thousand Hanoverian troops into British pay, and sent them with a large English force into Flanders. His object was to create a diversion in favor of Maria Theresa, queen of Hungary, to whom the English were now affording aid, in accordance with their guarantee of the Pragmatic Sanction. Two subsidies, one of £300,000 and another of £500,000, had already been transmitted for her relief; and so popular was her cause in England, that almost any sum would have been freely given. But there was a general and strong opposition to the King's plan of shifting the burdens of Hanover on to the British treasury. Mr. Pitt, who concurred in these views, availed himself of this opportunity to come out as the opponent of Carteret. He had been neglected and set aside in the arrangements which were made after the fall of Walpole; and he was not of a spirit tamely to bear the arrogance of the new minister. Accordingly, when a motion was made to provide for the payment of the Hanoverian troops, he delivered the following speech, in reply to Henry Fox, who had said that he should "continue to vote for these measures till better could be proposed."


Sir, if the honorable gentleman determines to abandon his present sentiments as soon as any better measures are proposed, the ministry will quickly be deprived of one of their ablest defenders; for I consider the measures hitherto pursued so weak and so pernicious, that scarcely any alteration can be proposed that will not be for the advantage of the nation.

The honorable gentleman has already been informed that no necessity existed for hiring auxiliary troops. It does not appear that either justice or policy required us to engage in the quarrels of the Continent; that there was any need of forming an army in the Low Countries; or that, in order to form an army, auxiliaries were necessary.

But, not to dwell upon disputable points, I think it may justly be concluded that the measures of our ministry have been ill concerted, because it is undoubtedly wrong to squander the public money without effect, and to pay armies, only to be a show to our friends and a scorn to our enemies.

The troops of Hanover, whom we are now expected to pay, marched into the Low Countries, sir, where they still remain. They marched to

1 See note to Walpole's speech, p. 40.

the place most distant from the enemy, least in danger of an attack, and most strongly fortified, had an attack been designed. They have, therefore, no other claim to be paid, than that they left their own country for a place of greater security. It is always reasonable to judge of the future by the past; and therefore it is probable that next year the services of these troops will not be of equal importance with those for which they are now to be paid. I shall not, therefore, be surprised, if, after such another glorious campaign, the opponents of the ministry be challenged to propose better measures, and be told that the money of this nation can not be more properly employed than in hiring Hanoverians to eat and sleep.

But to prove yet more particularly that better measures may be taken-that more useful troops may be retained-and that, therefore, the honorable gentleman may be expected to quit those to whom he now adheres, I shall show that, in hiring the forces of Hanover, we have obstructed our own designs; that, instead of assisting the Queen of Hungary, we have withdrawn from her a part of the allies, and have burdened the nation with troops from which no service can reasonably be expected.

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