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temptation of such complacency shall ever induce me to join any association that has for its object a change in the basis of our constitution, or an extension of any of those bases beyond the just proportion. I will stand in the gap, and oppose myself to all the wild projects of a new fangled theory, as much as against the monstrous iniquity of exploded doctrines. I think the latter is more our present danger than the former. I see not merely in the panic of the timorous, but in the acts of the de. signing, cause for alarm against the most abhorrent doc. trines.
In pursuing this idea, Mr. Fox animadverted upor. some publications of a very absurd and disgraceful kind, which had been circulated by Mr. Reeves's association. In speaking of the calling out of the militia, he observed, When I first heard that the militia were called out, I felt more anxiety and consternation than ever possessed my mind. I thought that certainly they had heard of some actual insurrection, or impending invasion. But when I heard that they were not called out to enable ministers to send the troops to any distant part, to Ireland, or to Scotland (where they might know of dis. turbances, though I did not), but that troops were as. sembling round London, I firmly believed the whole to be a fraud; for I have friends in and about London, as intelligent, as vigilant, as much interested in the tranquillity of the metropolis, as the right honourable magistrate ; and I was confident that an insurrection could not actually exist in London without being known. I pronounced it in my own mind to be a fraud, and I pronounce it here to be so. I am not given to make light assertions in this house, nor do I desire to receive implicit belief. I deprecate confidence on my bare assertion. On the contrary, I state, that I believe this pretext to be a fraud, and I entreat you to inquire, that you may ascertain the truth. I know there are societies who have indulged themselves, as I think, in silly and frantic speculations, and who have publish
ed toasts, &c. that are objectionable ; but that there is any insurrection, or that any attempt was making to overthrow the constitution, I deny. Now if this assertion of ministers be a falsehood, is it an innocent falsehood ? Are the people of this country playthings in the hands of ministers, that they may frighten them and clisturb them at pleasure ? Are they to treat them as some weak, jealous-pated, and capricious men treat their wives and mistresses-alarm them with false stories, that they may cruelly feast on the torture of their apprehensions, and delight in the susceptibility that drowns them in tears? Have they no better enjoyment than to put forth false alarms, that they know may draw from the people the soothing expressions of agitated loyalty ? Or do they think that these expressions, generously, readily made, in favour of the king, whom the people rationally love, may extend their influence to all the persons who are near his throne ? Indulging in this passion, they may keep us incessantly in the tumult of
apprehension, until at last they so habituate the mind to dread the evil in this quarter, as to look for it in no other ; or stun it by repeated shocks of fiction into an insensibility of real attack.
In commenting upon that part of his majesty's speech which indicated the apprehension of a war, Mr. Fox asserted, that there never was a period when this country had so much reason to wish for peace; there never was a period so little favourable to a rupture with France, or with any power. He instanced several cases in which negociation had prevented a war, and asked why we now disdained to negociate ?-Because we had no minister at Paris ? And why had we no minister ? Because France is a republic! And so we are to pay in the blood and treasure of the people for a punctilio! He then noticed the pretext for the dispute, the opening of the Scheldt-I cannot believe, said Mr. Fox, that such an object can be the real cause. I doubt, even if a war on this pretext would be undertaken with the apVOL. II.
probation of the Dutch. What was the conduct of the French themselves under their depraved old system? The emperor threatened to open the Sheldt in 1786. Did the French go to war with him instantly to prevent it? No. They opened a negociation, and prevented it by interfering with their good offices. Mr. Fox desired to put it seriously to the conscience and honour of gentlemen to say, if they were not aiding the object of republicans and levellers, if they agreed to plunge the country head. long into a war, before due inquiries were made, and all rational means taken to obviate the effects which were apprehended ?
Mr. Fox concluded by recommending, as the certain means of appeasing all discontents among the people, the removal of all actual and acknowledged grievances; and deprecated the indecent haste of committing them. selves to assertions of an existing insurrection, till ri. gorous inquiry should be made, where it was to be found, He entre ted parliament to avoid involving the people in the calamity of a war, without cooly reflecting on its necessity. He moved an amendment on the address, which simply pledged the house for an inquiry into the facts stated in his majesty's speech.
On the same subject.
THOUcut it necessary to apologize for voting on this occasion“ with those whose measures he had uniformly and conscientiously reprobated.” In the year 1784, on the accession of the present ministry to office, most unconstitutional measures had been adopted, the most un,
constitutional principles maintained; and the ministers had pretty uniformly adhered to the system on which they came into power: nay, he was of opinion that to these proceedings we might ascribe the evils of our present situation. Notwithstanding all this, he meant now to give a vote in their favour.
He asserted that there were serious and well-founded alarms. Could a man enter his own house, or could he walk into a field, without observing this? If a man confined himself in one room of his own house, he would. know no more of what was going on in another, than he would know of what was going on in another country. He appealed to the house, whether there was not a general alarm through the whole country. It was notorious that there had been, and was now, a constant communication between persons in Paris and persons in London. The most pernicious pamphlets were gratuitously distributed. This was not all-they proceeded with the solemnity of an oath. (Here Mr. Windhum was interrupted by the cry of Prove, prove !)-He said he had heard long ago the truth of what he had just stated, from very unquestionable authority,-an honourable member of that house; but the fact was not of much con. sequence.
The whole plan was supported by a purse, which he believed was made up in France. On putting these works of sedition into the hands of the labourer, they always told him they were intended for his instruction. He could not see the harm of preventing all endeavours to explain to a poor illiterate fellow, whose extent of powers was but barely adequate to the task of procuring food for his own subsistence, points which had divided the opinions of the ablest writers. He saw no great loss to society from putting an end to public-house political clubs, and ale-house debates on politics; in short, no reason why they should not be suppressed. Next came the question, Where will you draw the line-whom will you take up-and whom will you suffer to pass by?
or shall no man give his opinion upon the constitution ? He said, this he could not determine ; but he would call that treason in duodecimo, which was innocent in quarto.
With regard to the combined armies that marched against France, he believed their motives were good, and therefore he wished them success; and so he should, had their motives been ever so bad. He had been told that no country ought to intermeddle with the internal affairs of another : this might be true in a limited sense, but he could conceive many instances in which it ought to be departed from. He then noticed the proceedings of the French with respect to the king of Sardinia, and at Geneva, and observed that they had entirely departed from their famous maxim-“ That France abandoned for ever all ideas of foreign conquest." He concluded by giving his approbation to ministers for having called out the militia.
On his Majesty's Message respecting the Correspon
dence between Lord Grenville and M. Chauvelin.
He said, that amidst the many important objects arising from the message of his majesty, which now came to be considered, there was one which particularly called for their attention. That attention, indeed, could not fail to be separately directed to that calamitous event (the death of the French king), that act of outrage to every principle of religion, justice, and humanity; an act, which in this country, and the whole of Europe, had excited but one general sentiment of indignation and abhorrence, and could not fail to produce the same sen