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lemonstrates a settled design in the Court cabal to overturn the liberties of the nation. Can we confide in the House of Lords? With the fame certainty I answer directly no. I appeal to facts, and challenge any man to produce one instance in the disgraceful times I have alluded to, of a single resolution being adopted by that House in opposition to the Court. The worst Ministers that ever curled the country have had decided majorities in it up to the hour of their political diffolution; and it happens that the most odious, unpopular, and execrable measures of the whole reign have had by far the greatest majorities in that reverend Assembly. These are strong terms, but there is before my eyes a mass of facts to bear me out.
What was the conduct of the Crown and the Lords about fourteen years ago, when indeed you had cause of discontent against your Representatives? In antwer to your petitions the King told you, that the law had been the rule of his conduct, and he would abide by his faithful Commons. And the Lords, upon the fame occasion, treated you not only with indifference, but with express contempt. At that time, the House of Commons was the sordid instrument of the Court, and then its character was supported by the Crown and the Lords. But now that the Commons have manifested a fpirit of probity and independence, of firmness and moderation, not excelled in any period of our history, they are to be run down by the infamous agents of the secret system; and in these circumstances it is, that the King's Ministers arrogate to themielves a popularity in the nation in direct opposition to the national Representatives.
This deception is supported from the circumstance of a few Addresses in their favour having been lately carried to the Throne. I need not tell you that procuring Addresses is a ftale trick, which you all know the wretchedest Ministers that ever disgraced this country have never failed occasionally to promote. His Majesty's present servants have in this point been far less successful than any of their predecessors. In Middlesex a direct counter Address was carried in the very meeting called by the Ministry to smuggle a false representation of the opinion of that respectable county. As to that which Sir Cecil Wray delivered, purporting to be your Address, your indignation, I am sure, anticipates me in faying, that a grofler insult upon (perhaps) the most distinguished body of Electors in England, and indeed a more impudent imposition upon the public, was never before attempted. The fame impotent fraud was perpetrated in the city of York, which you all know has terminated in the confusion of its authors, and the disgrace of the Ministry. As however this Administration is juggling the world with a falle picture of the public sentiments, every man of sense and spirit ihould speak his mind freely; and it is to give you the opportunity of doing so, that you are called to meet in Weitminster Hall next Saturday.
Preparatory to our determination upon that day, let us take a brief view of those subjects which should influence our conduct. That the late Ministry were overturned by a gross violation of the Constitution, is a fact admitted by all the world. In truth, they were displaced for the purpose of appointing the present Ministry; for to talk of the India Bill as the cause of the change, is a mere farce. Upon the outlet of this Ministry the nation saw it could not hope for one hour's existence, otherwise than by destroying the integrity of the Commons. Accordingly they entered upon the widest plan of parliamentary corruption, upon a system of the baleit bribery that can be found in the annals of the world.
By private rewards and public emoluments, by offices, honours, titles, promises of titles, and every species of undue influence, they gained over fome members, but the majority of the House, in a spirit of probity and honour almost unexampled, despised their dirty arts, and told them in plain terms, that an Adminstration lo constituted should never have their support.
The Ministers then demanded a trial upon a specific measure, and actually staked their fituations upon the fate of Mr. Pitt's India Bill. Now mark what followed; Mr.
Pitt's Bill was thrown out. Yet the very men, who committed their ministerial existence upon the issue of that measure, still remain unmoved and unaffected, although by their own fentence they fand condemned. Driven from all constitutional resources, they now make a desperate stand upon a pretence of popularity in the nation, and in open terms avow that which is the well known aim of the secret system; to draw, if possible, the Representatives into disrepute with the nation. Their first attempt was to destroy the characters of public men. Their ultimate and grand object to ruin the reputation of the House of Commons.
If I ask you what is the first virtue of a Parliament, you will say, independence. Has the present House given any proof of this virtue ? Let us see how the matter stands, and judge fairly from public facts. Beside the reforms and retrenchments they have accomplished, and besides their matchless struggle in the present case against secret infiuence, this House of Commons has overturned two Administrations, against all the powers of government, against the sanguine support of the Crown, and a decided inajority in the Lords---for the Lords never defert any Ministry but the favourites of the people. Examine the majority of the Lower House. Look into their characters. judge for yourselves, whether such men are capable of yielding to be the ladder of any man's ambition. Scrutinize them closely, and you will find, I say, no more than bare truth, when I affirm that the history of Parliament does not exhibit a more pure, iudependent, respectable majority upon any public measure whatever. I do not say, that every individual is of this character, any more than I would say, that every man who supports the Ministry is a knave. Some few honeft men certainly vote with them; but this I assert, that the most base, the most sordid, the most infamous class of men in the House are enlifted under the banners of Administration, or rather (and indeed it is the truest way of stating it) the Ministry have ranged themselves under the banners of the most base, the most sordid, and the most infamous class of men in that House.
It is evident that his Majesty's secret advisers have reckoned too much upon the badness of human nature. _They had never risked this desperate effort, had they any idea that the powers of the Treasury and the talents of Robinson would have failed them. Happily however for the national character and the honour of humanity they have failed. The preliminaries in all attempts to seduce the Members is an exaction of secrecy. If this were not the case, and that men might be permitted to reveal all they know, the real truth is, that the affair of Lord Galloway with General Rofs, of the Duke of Newcastle with Mr. Mellith, and even of Lord Temple with the Peers, would be innocence itself, coinpared with the other profligate abominable arts practised upon the Members of the House of Commons by the agents of the present Adininistration.
Here let us pause awhile and calmly view our fituation. That the House of Commons was the servile tool of the Court has been the general cry of the English nation. · Is it then I ask you, fit, that for one moment, the impofition should be suffered to pass, that the present Ministry deserve the smallest portion of the public confidence, when they ftand condemned by an House of Commons, who, under all the terrors of a diffolution of Parliament at this season of the year, in detpight of all the arts of the Court, in defiance of threats, in contempt of corruption, feduction, wheedling, and every possible mode of working them into pliancy, have nobly opposed this unprincipled and shameful system?
As to those who are called the rivals for power, I mall say but little, because the question turns very little indeed upon that point. With regard to Mr. Fox, in whole actions you are more immediately interested, the greatest glory of his life, in
my opinion is, that he has ever been the destined object of the hatred and perfecution of this odious fiction which surrounds the Throne, which stains the character of our public counfels, and fullies the name of royalty. Nor is it the least of your fureties for Mr. Fox's fide
lity to the cause of the people, that he has no hopes of refuge in the Court, nor any prospect of being of any consequence in his country, except upon popular grounds.
As to his India Bill, the true way to judge of it is by analogy. Compare it with that monster in polity Mr. Pitt's bill, and you will find that upon the scale of comparison it is perfection itself. Relative to the Receipt Tax, which is a subject of diisatisfaction with some of you, you cannot furely be such gudgeons as to look to the present Ministry with a favourable cye upon that subject. The principal Members of the prefent Administration, have been its strenuous supporters. Lord Thurlow was the man, and indeed the only man, who treated the petition of the Merchants of London against that Tax with marked contempt; and, the conduct of Mr. Pirt, upon that occafion, is really worthy of a separate remark. That Gentleman well knew the state of the country, and the necesity of efficient taxes. For him to oppofe it, would have been too grofs. He voted for, and, declared it an admirable tax. But teeing that it might be made a good instrument of public clamour, observe how he acts. He contrives, at the same moment that himself supports the Tax, to have his trusty brother-in-law, Lord Mahon, that drum-major of faction, to beat the alarm, and raise a cry against it. His conduct yes-terday in the House of Commons was still more extraordinary. Several Members 'de.. manded of Mr. Pitt his opinion upon this Tax. With a disgraceful duplicity he re... fused for a long time to give any answer. Why? because he knew you were to meet next Saturday, and thought his silence upon the subject of this tax might be a good bugbear. The House saw his paltry cunning, and insisted upon an answer ;---then he declared himself an advocate for the tax*. These are essential points to which it becomes.
If, however, there are any of you who still retain prejudice upon this or upon any other point, judge whether the moment to give them operation is when your Representative, in conjunction with the purest and best men in England, is struggling to preserve the Constitution upon the faine principles that fustained it fince the Revolution. Is your inind made up, because you may diflike the Coalition or the Receipt Tax, to surrender your legal rights to midnight ruffians with dark lanthorns? And will you froin pique or from whim, or from fordid motives, ever lend your fanction to that Court fačtion, that vile cabal, whose base stratagems, whose tyranny and treachery would annihilate, if possible, the very found of civil liberty ?
There is another point to which I would direct your attention. Admitting, for ars. ' gument fake, that the present Administration stood upon a constitutional bottom---I submit it to your cool and sober reason, do you think that it is competent to manage this. country in its present disastrous state? That Mr. Pitt is poffeffed of confiderable talents, is certain. Not one of his friends, however, in the warmest moments of their idolatry, have ventured to compare his abilities with those of Mr. Fox. The rest of the Ministry provoke nothing but ridicule. Review the different offices of government, and then fay, whether so motley a group ever before invested the King's Cabinet. Allowing then to this young gentleman every merit that a rational man can allow him, I ask
if you think it possible for any person at his time of life, and fo inexperienced, to govern this country? The genius of the greatest man at the best is limited, and no office can confer miraculous endowments. Mr. Fox has been accused of inordinate ambition, Good God! Are men stupid, or blind, or mad, when they urge such a charge, to pass by Mr. Pitt, who in the third year of his public life assumes a Itation, which Mr. Fox,
you to attend.
• Notwithstanding this declaration of Mr. Pitt's, which was forced from him by an insulted House of Commons, his Emissaries the next day posted up Bills in very large letter throughout the cities of London and Westminster, declaring the assertion falle, which went to charge Mr. Pilt with giving his consent to the Receipt Tax !Bill. This the young Minuter connived at, so long as the trick could serve the measures he wa. then pur, fuing.
with a superiority of powers, admitted by all the world, has not, after fixteen years experience, ever yet aspired to?
What does Mr. Pitt want? The late Ministry have severally disclaimed the idea of proscribing him from a share in Administration. Many of the most respectable of those Meinbers, who now oppose him, declared they were ready to receive him with open arms, if he would descend from his present dangerous situation, and come in like his father through the open road of the Constitution, and not by the crooked paths of secret influence. Why does he not? I will tell you my opinion upon it, and leave you to forin your own. Proud men are unwilling to acknowledge a superior. Mr. Pitt, conscious of himself, perhaps feels that at the best he would make only a fecondary figure in the fame cabinet with Mr. Fox; and, therefore, like the inan, who said he had rather be the first man in a village than the second in Rome, he sacrifices the nation to his own extravagant conceit. His vanity will not permit him to see that he is debauched by a set of lycophants, who deprive him of the use of his own understanding. Every reasonable object is within his reach by legal honest means; and why should he wish for more? Does any man think him a greater man than his father ? Certainly not. Is any man absurd and bigotted enough to say, that an office, filled by the Earl of Chatham at the age of fifty, is beneath Mr. Pitt at the age of twenty-five?' So gross a mockery of the common sense of mankind will not, I am satisfied, be attempted by any man. What then is the fact? That Mr. Pitt, by a pertinacious wish of being the chief ruler, wantonly, if not wickedly, prolongs the distractions of this unfortunate country. To fome men, perhaps, this may seem a towering ambition; in my mind it is a miserable ambition. That it is fatal and ruinous to the country, is beyond all question.
Never fure did men stoop to such despicable shifts to blacken an adversary, and force themselves into temporary eclat, as the present Ministry. No fiction, however grofs ; no device, however mean, has escaped their industry. Circulating the most wretched sophistries all over the kingdom. Dispersing the most low defamatory hand-bills through all parts of the town. Posting up the most scandalous libels upon the first characters in the nation. And---as if it were neceffary to tell the public that the present Government was a system of political empyricism---they have shewn something new even in the History of Folly ---A First Lord of the Treafury plaistering up his pretended merits, and propagating his fame with all the pomp and redundancy of a cominon quack upon the corner of every street. Upon all these illiberal expedients, I doubt not, your own good sense has formed a right opinion.
You are not unapprized that several of Mr. Pitt's best friends have lately deserted him, and it is but justice to say, that the persons alluded to are of the most respectable men in England. Why have they deserted him? Not because they disliked him perfonally, but because they think his present situation dangerous to the Constitution. Yet he continues unmoved, and as a means of prolonging his power, the House of Lords (flavishly devoted, as you know it is, to the will, even to the whim of the Court) have come to a Resolution last Wednesday, which I conceive to be a gross libel upon the House of Commons. It attributes to that House what it has not assumed---an attempt to suspend a positive law, when it only interposed its advice upon the use of a discretionary power in a branch of executive Government, relative to the money of the public, of which the Commons are the legal guardians; a practice never before doubted, never questioned till the present moment.
All these are objects necessary for your consideration before the meeting of next
What I humbly recommend to you is to feel your real weight and value. Open your eyes, consult your understanding, be guided by your own good sense, and do not become the victims of the artifice, or the instruments of the vile policy of the Court cabal. Vin
dicate your City from the audacious imposition of those who have prostituted your name : upon the late Address. Speak to the Crown in respectful but manly terms. Tell the fupporters of secret influence, that whatever discontents some of you may feel againit your Representative, you do not require their advice (the common enemies of both Constituent and Representative) to direct you. Tell them by your conduct that their shallow and scandalous efforts shall not obliterate the sense of a long series of public services: in your public truitee. Do you think that in the nation, perhaps in the world, you can find a man more capable of serving you than Mr. Fox? If not then, let us be careful how we risk the loss of such a man. Your attachment to him has been the greatest wound you could give the closet junto; your defertion of him would be the greatest triumph that faction could enjoy. You have heretofore given memorable proofs of spirit in opposition to the Court; more, inuch inore depends upon your conduct now than many of you are aware of. If the prefent Ministry, rather than relign a situation which they have obtained by frauds and dark itratagems, in a palpable violation of the spirit of the Constitution, are desperately determined to force an open breach between the Coinmons.and the Lords, you cannot hesitate for one moment what side to take,
Make not so base a return to the House of Commons for a spirit of independence, which indeed is not very common; as to defert them at the very moment they most challenge your applause. In abandoning them you would abandon yourselves, and all would then lay at the mercy of the common enemy of our liberties. The sooner your sentiments are known the better. The delusion which the labours of the Court faction, have forced upon the public is vanishing every hour, every day leffens it, and a few days more will entirely dispel it. Let the City of Westminster set a wise and spirited example, and that example will I am satisfied be followed by every sensible, unbiased, body of men in England. February 11, 1784.
AN ELECTOR OF WESTMINSTER
General Meeting of the Electors of Westminster. In consequence of advertisements for calling together all the Electors of the above city and liberty in Westminster iiall, on Saturday the 14th oi March, at twelve o'clock, to collect the sense of the Electors respecting an humble address to be presented to his Majesty on the state of public affairs, the Committee appointed for the above purpose, met at the King's Arms Tavern, Palace Yard, which consisted of Mr. Fox, Mr. Byron, Mr. Byng, Mr. Buike, Mr. Sheridan, General Burgoyne, Lord Derby, Lord Surrey, Lord Foley, Colonel Fitzpatrick, and several other noblemen and gentlemen, and respectable Electors.
It must be remembered, that as this General Meeting of all the Electors was called in opposition to a meeting of a number of Electors held in the Court of Requests, on Tuesday last, Sir Cecil Wray in the Chair, when an Address was agreed on to be presented to the Throne, thanking his Majesty for exercising his prerogativi', and dismisling his late Ministers, (which meeting and Address was firit adopted by the High Bailiff of: Westminster and Court of Burgesses,) and also in opposition to that "Addrets, and to consider of another of a direct contrary tendency. The leading men on each side the question met at different places; and therefore Sir Cecil Wray, Mr. Wilkes, Lord, Mountmorres, Lord Mahon, Mr. Selby, and feveral other gentlemen, asembled at Alice's Coffee-house. Mr. Fox and his friends had advertised the meeting at twelve o'clock, and, in order to get the sense of the meeting collected in a fair and impartial manner, the Committee had determined among themfelves that it would be improper to call either of their Representatives to the Chair. On the other hand, advertisements had