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isters sufficiently rare, stood by them for a time in a desperate struggle with their successors, the voice of the Royal Prerogative, like the horn of Astolpho, soon scattered the whole body in consternation among their constituents," di qui, di là, di su, di giù," and the result was a complete and long-enjoyed triumph to the Throne and Mr. Pitt.
Though the name of Mr. Fox is indissolubly connected with this Bill, and though he bore it aloft, as fondly as Cæsar did his own Commentaries, through all this troubled sea of opposition, it is to Mr. Burke that the first daring outline of the plan, as well as the chief materials for filling it up, are to be attributed, whilst to Sir Arthur Pigot's able hand was entrusted the legal task of drawing the Bill. The intense interest which Burke took in the affairs of India had led him to lay in such stores of information on the subject, as naturally gave him the lead in all deliberations connected with it. His labours for the Select Committee, the Ninth Report of which is pregnant with his mighty mind, may be considered as the source and foundation of this Bill -while of the under-plot, which had in view the strengthening of the Whig interest, we find the germ in his “ Thoughts on the present Discontents," where, in pointing out the advantage to England of being ruled by such a confederacy, he says, “In one of the most fortunate periods of our history, this country was governed by a connection; I mean the great connection of Whigs in the reign of Queen Anne.”
Burke was, indeed, at this time the actuating spirit of the party—as he must have been of any party to which he attached himself. Keeping, as he did, the double engines of his genius and his industry incessantly in play over the minds of his more indolent colleagues, with an intentness of purpose that nothing could divert, and an impetuosity of temper that nothing could resist, it is not wonderful that he should have gained such an entire mastery over their wills, or that the party who obeyed him should so long have exhibited the mark of his rash spirit imprinted upon their measures. The yielding temper of Mr. Fox, together with his unbounded admiration of Burke, led him easily in the first instance, to
acquiesce in the views of his friend, and then the ardour of his own nature, and the self-kindling power of his eloquence, threw an earnestness and fire into his public enforcement of those views, which made even himself forget that they were but adopted from another, and impressed upon his hearers the conviction that they were all, and from the first, his own.
We read his speeches in defence of the India Bill with a sort of breathless anxiety, which no other political discourses, except those, perhaps, of Demosthenes, could produce. The importance of the stake which he risks—the boldness of his plan—the gallantry with which he flings himself into the struggle, and the frankness of personal feeling that breathes throughout-all throw around him an interest, like that which encircles a hero of romance ; nor could the most candid autobiography that ever was written exhibit the whole character of the man more transparently through it.
The death of this ill-fated Ministry was worthy of its birth. Originating in a Coalition of Whigs and Tories, which compromised the principles of freedom, it was destroyed by a Coalition of King and People, which is, even, perhaps, more dangerous to its practice. * The conduct, indeed, of all estates and parties, during this short interval, was any thing but laudable. The leaven of the unlucky alliance with Lord North was but too visible in many of the measures of the Ministry in the jobbing terms of the loan, the resistance to Mr. Pitt's plan of retrenchment, and the diminished numbers
“ This assumption (says Burke) of the Tribunitian power by the So. vereign was truly als ing. When Augustus Cæsar modestly consented to become the Tribune of the people, Rome gave up into the hands of that prince the only remaining shield she had to protect her liberty. The Tribunitian power in this country, as in ancient Rome, was wisely kept distinct and separate from the executive power: in this government it was constitutionally lodged where it was naturally to be lodged, in the House of Commons; and to that House the people ought first to carry their complaints, even when they were directed against the measures of the House itself. But now the people were taught to pass by the door of the House of Commons and supplicate the Throne for the protection of their liberties." -Speech on moving his Representation to the King, in June, 1784.
on the side of Parliamentary Reform.* On the other hand, Mr. Pitt and his party, in their eagerness for place, did not hesitate to avail themselves of the ambidexterous and unwor. thy trick of representing the India Bill to the people, as a Tory plan for the increase of Royal influence, and to the King, as a Whig conspiracy for the curtailment of it. The King himself, in his arbitrary interference with the deliberations of the Lords, and the Lords, in the prompt servility with which so many of them obeyed his bidding, gave specimens of their respective branches of the Constitution, by no means creditable—while finally the people, by the unanimous outcry with which they rose, in defence of the monopoly of Leadenhall Street and the sovereign will of the Court, proved how little of the “vox Dei" there may sometimes be in such clamour.
Mr. Sheridan seems to have spoken but once during the discussions on the India Bill, and that was on the third reading, when it was carried so triumphantly through the House of Commons. The report of his speech is iotroduced with the usual tantalising epithets, “ witty,” “entertaining, &c. &c.; but, as usual, entails disappointment in the perusal -"at cum intraveris, Dii Deæque, quam nihil in medio invenies !”| There is only one of the announced pleasantries forthcoming, in any shape, through the speech. Mr. Scott (the present Lord Eldon) had, in the course of the debate, indulged in a licence of Scriptural parody, which he would himself, no doubt, be among the first to stigmatise as blasphemy in others, and had affected to discover the rudiments of the India Bill in a Chapter of the Book of Revelations, Babylon being the East India Company, Mr. Fox and his
The consequences of this alloy were still more visible in Ireland. “The Coalition Ministry,” says Mr. Hardy, “ displayed itself in various employ. 'ments—but there was no harmony. The old courtiers hated the new, and being more dexterous, were more successful.” In stating that Lord Charlemont was but coldly received by the Lord Lieutenant, Lord Northington, Mr. Hardy adds, “It is to be presumed that some of the old Court, who in consequence of the Coalition had crept once more into favour, influenced his conduct in this particular."
sever Commissioners the Beast with the seven heads, and the marks on the hand and forehead, imprinted by the Beast upon those around him, meaning, evidently, he said, the peerages, pensions, and places distributed by the minister. In answering this strange sally of forensic wit, Mr. Sheridan quoted other passages from the same Sacred Book, which (as the Reporter gravely assures us) “ told strongly for the Bill,” and which proved that Lord Fitzwilliam and his fellow-commissioners, instead of being the seven heads of the Beast, were seven Angels “clothed in pure and white linen!”
TUE PRINCE OF Wales.-FINANCIAL MEASURES. --MR. PITT'S EAST INDIA
HILL.-IRISU COMMERCIAL PROPOSITIONS.-PLAN OF THE DUKE OF RICHMOND.-SIX KING FUXD.
The Whigs, who had now every reason to be convinced of the aversion with which they were regarded at court, had lately been, in some degree, compensated for this misfortune by the accession to their party of the Heir Apparent, who had, since the year 1783, been in the enjoyment of a separate establishment, and taken his seat in the House of Peers as Duke of Cornwall. That a young prince, fond of pleasure and impatient of restraint, should have thrown himself into the arms of those who were most likely to be indulgent to his errors, is nothing surprising, either in politics or ethics. But that mature and enlightened statesmen, with the lessons of all history before their eyes, should have been equally ready to embrace such a rash alliance, or should count upon it as any more than a temporary instrument of faction, is, to say the least of it, one of those self-delusions of the wise, which show how vainly the voice of the Past may speak amid the loud appeals and temptations of the Present. The last Prince
of Wales, it is true, by whom the popular cause was espoused, had left the lesson imperfect, by dying before he came to the throne. But this deficiency has since been amply made up; and future Whigs, who may be placed in similar circum. stances, will have, at least, one historical warning before their eyes, which ought to be enough to satisfy the most unreflecting and credulous.
In some points, the breach that now took place between the Prince and the King, bore a close resemblance to that which had disturbed the preceding reign. In both cases, the Royal parents were harsh and obstinate-in both cases, money was the chief source of dissension-and, in both cases, the genius, wit, and accomplishments of those with whom the Heir Apparent connected himself, threw a splendour round the political bond between them, which prevented even themselves from perceiving its looseness and fragility.
In the late question of Mr. Fox's India Bill, the Prince of Wales had voted with his political friends in the first division. But, upon finding afterwards that the King was hostile to the measure, his Royal Highness took the prudent step (and with Mr. Fox's full concurrence) of absenting himself entirely from the second discussion, when the Bill, as it is known, was finally defeated. This circumstance, occurring thus early in their intercourse, might have proved to each of the parties in this illsorted alliance, how difficult it was for them to remain long and creditably united.* On the one side, there was a character
The following sensible remarks upon the first interruption of the political connection between the Heir Apparent and the Opposition, are from an unfinished Life of Mr. Sheridan now in my possession-written by one whose boyhood was passed in the society of the great men whom he widertook to commemorate, and whose station and talents would have given to such a work an authenticity and value, that would have rendered the humble memorial, which I have attempted, unnecessary :
“His Royal Highness acted upon this occasion by Mr. Fox's advice and with perfect propriety. At the same time the necessity under which he found himself of so acting may serve as a general warning to Princes of the Blood in this country, to abstain from connecting themselves withi party, and engaging either as active supporters or opponents of the administra. tion of the day. The ties of family, the obligations of their situation, the