§ Mr. Henry Lascelles
rose, and spoke to the following effect:—Sir, in rising to submit to the consideration of the house, that motion of which I gave notice on a former occasion, it is my most anxious wish so to conduct myself in this melancholy business, as to avoid giving any occasion for the discussion of points, on which there has been a considerable difference of opinion; or for at all reviving those political animosities which we have had too often occasion to regret. I should be unwilling to disturb the manes of that great man by dissentions. I mean now simply to propose, that which I am sure the country anxiously expects, that some signal mark of our respect and gratitude shall be paid to the memory of that illustrious character, whose loss we have now to deplore. I am sure that this sentiment is generally felt throughout the nation. I have every where witnessed the feelings of the deepest regret upon this melancholy occasion. We have lost a man of the purest and most disinterested patriotism, of the most exalted talents, whose energy and whose firmness 42 have, in times of the greatest difficulty and danger, been eminently serviceable to his country. Under these circumstances, I have wished to avoid entering into the details of his long administration, or mentioning any thing which could provoke a discussion respecting any separate and insulated part of his conduct. Upon this occasion, I propose to the house to take as a precedent, the honours which were paid by a former parliament to the memory of his illustrious father, the great lord Chatham. I think that it is provoking no difference of opinion to say, that his son was at least as great a man as he was. I, therefore, intend to adopt the very words of that precedent in the motion with which I shall have the honour to conclude. There is only one observation that I wish previously to make: as I happened not to be in my place, on a former night, when an hon. gent. (Mr. Fox) suggested that it would be proper to postpone the consideration of my motion, until another discussion should have taken place, I must now say, that my motion is founded on the review of a long administration of upwards of twenty years, during which the exalted personage whose loss is so much felt and lamented, enjoyed the approbation of the country. With this impression I thought it would be improper for me to postpone a motion, the ground of which was the general character and conduct of the object of it, merely on account of the possibility of discovering some error in his administration upon the subject of treaties, which are not yet in possession of the house. I shall therefore conclude with moving, "That an humble address be presented to his majesty, that his will be graciously pleased to give directions, that the remains of the right hon. William Pitt be interred at the public charge; and that a monument be erected in the collegiate church of St. Peter, Westminster, to the memory of that excellent statesman, with an inscription expressive of the public sense of so great and irreparable a loss; and to assure his majesty that this house will make good the expences attending the same."
The Marquis of Titchfield
rose to second the motion. He had opposed the measures of the right hon. gent. during a great part of his political career, but was not, however, disposed to refuse any consistent mark of respect, as a tribute to the integrity of his character, and his rare and transcen- 43 dent talents. He would not be understood, in voting for this motion, to mean any condemnation of the line of conduct he had himself pursued, whilst opposing the measures of the right hon. gent. now unfortunately no more. He had since acted with that right hon. gent. but though ranked amongst his political friends, he had not enjoyed his private friendship. In the support he gave to the present motion, he was actuated solely by his admiration of his virtues and extraordinary talents, which might be justly appreciated without the advantage of familiar or friendly intercourse. He thought the house called upon to pay some signal mark of respect, in this instance, by perpetuating the memory of a member so able, so eminent, so distinguished, and disinterested.
rose, and said: Mr. Speaker, I cannot, consistently with my feelings of public duty, agree to the motion which you have just read; I greatly commend the manner in which the hon. gent. has brought it forward, and in opposing it I will endeavour to follow his example, to avoid ripping open old sores, renewing ancient differences, and bringing on discussions which will be disagreeable to all sides of the house. With this view I will merely state, that as the hon. gent. in a general view of the whole administration of Mr. Pitt, thinks he has rendered the country such service as to deserve so signal a mark of gratitude and respect as that which he has proposed, I, on the other hand, taking his whole administration into view, and considering the state of the country as it came into his hands, and that in which he has left it, cannot agree to acknowledge any service, and therefore must refuse my assent to the motion; and I feel this, sir, so strongly, that if any one other gentleman thinks with me on this subject, I will certainly count out the house upon this question.
was so completely convinced of the great and brilliant talents of the lamented object of the motion, that he could not content himself with giving a silent vote on the occasion. He most heartily concurred in the motion.
§ Mr. I. H. Browne ,
said he had had the honour of a seat in that house, during the whole period in which the right hon. gent. whose memory was now proposed to be honoured with some signal mark of the approbation of the house, had presided in the administration of affairs. During the whole 44 of that period, he had supported all the measures brought forward by that right hon. gent. as best calculated to promote the essential interests of the country. It was difficult for him to point out any instance in preference of the eminent services rendered by him to the state. He bad raised the public credit in an unexampled degree, of which the house would be satisfied on his stating a single case. The public funds, when the right hon. gent. came into office, when the country was in a state of profound peace, without an enemy in Europe to apprehend, were not so high as they were at present; after all the horrors of the French Revolution, and while the country was engaged in a desperate and expensive contest. [loud coughing.] He should nut detain the house longer from the question for which their feelings seemed to be impatient. Every gentleman would suggest to himself a criterion of the transcendent merits of this great man; but, for his own part, he should, without entering further into the subject, content himself with the case he had pointed out, and conclude with applying to that great, that eminent, that admirable statesman, what had been said of Augustus Cæsar, "that he found Rome wood, and left it marble."
§ Mr. Hiley Addington
said, that it was not without very great reluctance, that he obtruded himself on the house for one single moment on this occasion; a mournful one to him, as well as to every individual within those walls, and to the country at large. To the question, as proposed by the hon. gent. under the gallery, he should decidedly assent, so far as it related to those past services of the distinguished individual, whose loss they were all deploring, the value of which he had had the means of estimating, the eminence and splendour of which no one was more ready to admit than himself, and which it had been the pride and happiness of a great part of his life to have supported in that house. To more recent measures he hardly thought it necessary to advert, as they would probably be soon submitted to the consideration of the house, and on which neither he nor other members were as yet qualified to form a correct judgment. With this explanation, which he hoped would not be considered as subtracting from his satisfaction in the vote that he was about to give, the motion that had been made met with his most decided approbation and concurrence.
Mr. W. Smith
said, he felt how unplea- 45 sant a situation any gent. would be placed in, who should oppose a motion brought forward and seconded in the same manner as the one then under discussion. But he also felt, that, consistently with his sense of public duty, he could not accede to it, and painful as the performance of such a duty must be, he could not shrink from it. The performance of his duty, in the present instance, was the more painful to him, as he extremely regretted the loss of the eminent and distinguished person who was the object of the motion. No gent. who had opposed that right hon. gent.'s measures, nor any friend who deplored him, could more sincerely regret his loss. He too had had the honour of a seat in that house during nearly the whole of the time that right hon. gent. had been in office. He had, during that time, frequently witnessed the exercise of his great talents and transcendent powers, which he had often contemplated with admiration and awe. He felt one ground of objection to the motion on public principles. In the motion the right hon. gent. was represented as an "excellent statesman." If he were called upon to vote thanks (thanks unfortunately could not now be voted); but if he were called upon to vote some mark of respect to his memory for his disinterestedness as a statesman, he should readily concur. But when he was to vote this mark of respect to the right hon. gent. as an "excellent statesman," he thought himself bound to consider whether that character belonged to his measures and administration. With a view to such estimate, he knew of no criterion but a consideration of the state of the country at the time he came into office, of his conduct whilst in office, and of the present state of the country. However, this would occupy too much of the time of the house. Every gent. would make the comparison in his own mind, and deduce a result for himself. The result in his mind, was, he confessed, unfavourable to the right hon. gent. But he had another objection of a more private nature to the motion, and which applied particularly to himself. He had been placed in the situation which he filled in that house by the suffrages of a large body of men, who certainly did not consider the right hon, gent. as an "excellent statesman." They had elected him, because they thought his principles honest, and that he would oppose that right hon. gent.'s measures. How could he then return to his constituents 46 after such an approbation of the right hon. gent.'s wisdom as a statesman, which so directly contradicted his former opposition to his administration? He gave the hon. gent. who brought forward the motion, every possible credit for the honourable feelings by which he was actuated, and for the very candid manner in which he had introduced it. He believed he really thought the right hon. gent. "an excellent statesman;" differing, however, with him, as it was his misfortune to do, he could no more give up his opinion to the hon. gent. than he could ask the hon. gent. to acquiesce in his; and, thus situated, he could not do otherwise than give his negative to the motion.
§ Mr. Pytches
said, he had hoped, that the supporters of the right hon. gent. who was the object of the motion, and his abettors, would have appeared on this occasion with becoming silence and desolation. He had, as much as any man, admired the brilliancy of that right hon. gent.'s expression, and the electricity of his elocution. He was not however in despair respecting the emanation of some sparks from his genius. He was in hopes that the house would produce as eminent talents, when he contemplated the large spreading shrubbery of genius which was shooting up.
§ Sir R. Buxton
said, that when he heard his hon. friend give notice of his intention to bring forward the present motion, he thought there could be but one sentiment on the subject, on either side, or in any part of the house, or of the country. He expected from the other side of the house, that when that great man was gone, opposition would be gone also. He had, however, been grievously disappointed; and, to his great surprise, found that the same system followed him beyond his mortal existence. He was sorry to find, that So many hon. members in that house refused to pay the tribute of gratitude to that illustrious character, whose magnificent talents, while they reflected the highest honour on the country which produced them, had contributed so essentially to its interests and prosperity. The reputation of that illustrious ornament of his country, however, would not depend upon the extent of the majority by which this, or any such motion might be carried; his fame would go down to the latest posterity connected with the history of his times, attested by the records of parliament, and immortalized by that constitu- 47 tion which he had saved. His remains might crumble to dust in his grave, but his reputation would live in the admiration of grateful posterity.
The Marquis of Douglas
lamented, that there should have been any discussion on a subject which could not but create a difference of opinion. Had the ashes of the departed minister been suffered to have remained in peace, the house would have continued grateful for his services. He considered that the first principle upon which public reward was founded, was success. It was not sufficient to say that a man possessed great abilities and great personal integrity; the country expected something more; they necessarily looked to a happy result, and that alone constituted the strength of public feeling. He did not think that any comparison could be drawn between the earl of Chatham and the late minister, which would justify the same honours being conferred on the one as on the other. If he adverted to the state of the country after the seven years war, and at the present period, he should find the comparison materially to the disadvantage of the administration of Mr. Pitt. It was but a very short time since distinguished public honours had been paid to the memory of a departed naval hero. He wished to ask, whether the crowd would have followed his remains to the grave if he had lost a British fleet? Success was necessary to crown every action for which public applause was demanded. The idea of the excellence of a statesman must involve all the virtues that belonged to his situation, and therefore he should ill discharge his public duty, if he consented to give a tribute of applause where he was not satisfied it was due. He wished not to stir up the ashes of the dead, but rather to walk over them with respect. He could, if he were so disposed, take a review of the situation of our finances; he could even advert to a transaction of the last session, wherein a noble lord now suffering under the censure of the house, had been protected by the right hon. gent.: but upon these he did not wish to enlarge. He had clearly and simply discharged his duty, and should sit down with giving his negative to the motion.
§ General Tarleton
said, that he had frequently acted in opposition to the measures of the right hon. gent. who was the object of the present motion, and whose 48 loss he very much deplored; but as the chief objection to the motion seemed to be that these honours should be withheld till the judgment of the house was known on the subject of his conduct for the last six. months, he, for one, was of opinion, that the last six months of his administration were the most brilliant of his life, and therefore he would vote for the motion.
Earl Temple .
—I rise, sir, in order to express in a very few words, the reasons which lead me to support this motion. I shall trespass but a very short time on the attention of the house; and, perhaps, upon the present occasion, it would have become me better to have sat silent. Notwithstanding it was my fortune to oppose the latter part of the administration of that right hon. gent. yet I feel happy in giving my amplest testimony to those transcendant talents which he possessed, and which, from a very early period of his life, were devoted to the service of the country. I have also great pleasure in bearing witness to that purity and integrity which he preserved throughout his long administration. In giving my warm support to the present motion, I am convinced I am expressing the same feeling which is entertained by every person of my family, who, connected with him by the ties of relationship, may be supposed to feel most deeply for his loss.
§ Mr. Windham
rose and spoke as follows: —However painful I may feel the situation in which I stand, I feel that there is a duty imposed upon me that I am bound to discharge. Nothing can be more easy and satisfactory, than to comply with that advice which has been given to all parties, not to let their political hostilities be carried to the grave, and that on such an occasion as this, they should bury all animosities. For my part, the only difficulty I should find in complying with this advice is, that I have no political animosities to bury. Although I join sincerely in admiration of the great talents of the right hon. gent. who is now no more, yet I think that those talents cannot be said to have been fortunate in the result, and, I must observe, that by the custom of this country, and, indeed, by the custom of every nation, at all times, these extraordinary honours are only conferred where there is a certain union of merit and success. This should not be considered as a mere question of feeling, but it should 49 be considered whether the honours proposed to be granted are customary, or whether they are strictly merited. There is a sort of fortitude on which men sometimes pride themselves,—the fortitude of bearing well the pain of others: there is a sort of generosity also, that loves to indulge itself at the expense of others' feelings: let us take care in the present case, that we are not indulging our generosity at the expence of our public duties. I know of no function requiring to be discharged under a sense of more solemn obligation than that which relates to the adjudication of national honours; these are claims not to be decided by a momentary feeling, but by a strict and impartial examination of the merits of the case. Let us understand the nature of the proceeding in which we are engaged; let us know upon what ground, the supporters of this motion mean to rely. Do they mean to say, that the greatest honours that the nation has to bestow, should be always given to splendid talents exerted in the service of the country; or would they mean to make a distinction, and only give them to men of great talent, who happened to be in public offices? It appears to me, however, that great talents, exerted in the service of the country, are as well entitled to a high reward, if the possessor should not happen to have been in public office, as if he had. Let us see how far this principle leads: it is said, you give the chief honours of the nation to those naval and military commanders who gain important victories; and why not to those who guide their operations? Must not their talents be presumed, at least, as great? Now, sir, this can be easily answered. An important victory is generally a thing that admits of no dispute, no deception. The general who routs an enemy's army, or the admiral who destroys his fleet, leaves no doubt as to the service that he has performed, and is therefore, by the unanimous opinion of every body, considered as an object of high honour. When, on a late occasion, these honours were paid to an illustrious admiral, all ranks and descriptions of people, the noble and the mean, the rich and the poor, the enlightened and the ignorant, all felt equally that those honours were due, and every heart vibrated to the general expression of national gratitude and respect. No man Can mistate or misrepresent such actions as those; they 50 are not brought forward to answer any party views, or upon false pretences. It is for these reasons that there is a general concurrence in all countries to reward services of that description. Upon services of such a nature there is always almost an absolute unanimity of opinion; but how can it be expected that there will be any thing like an unanimity of opinion, when the question is concerning the merits of a long political life? It is for this reason that all nations make a distinction between the rewards given to a successful commander, and to the minister under whom he has gained his success. But if it will be said, that transcendant abilities, long and important services, long experience, and application of the mind to the important interests of the country, should claim as high a reward as is given to the most successful admirals or generals, I shall then ask, where were all those qualities and endowments more conspicuous than in the late Mr. Burke? Mr. Burke, however, was not honoured with a public funeral. And yet Mr. Burke was inferior to no man in the splendour of his talents, nor in the purity of his mind, nor in genuine and disinterested patriotism, nor in long experience and devotion to the public service. Where then is the difference of the cases? Do gentlemen mean to rest it entirely upon this, that men of splendid talents and endowments, if they happen to be in office, are entitled to the highest rewards a nation can bestow; but should they be out of office, they are not entitled to honours, although they should serve their country with equal zeal, integrity, and ability? In general I should say, that the presumptions were in favour of him who had served his country out of office, official situations being those which men may covet from other motives. In every point of comparison that could be made, Mr. Burke stood upon the same level with Mr. Pitt, and I do net see the reason for this difference. If the objections to Mr. Burke's having a public funeral had proceeded from any hon. friend (Mr. Fox), or those who voted with him in those times, I should not have been surprized: they might have conceived that bestowing such honours on a man who differed diametrically with them in opinion at that time, would imply a condemnation of their own conduct. But that was not the case; it was not from them that the objection came, but from gentlemen on the other side of the house, who took Mr. Burke as 51 the leader of their opinions, who cried him up to the skies, who founded themselves upon what he had done, but who were afraid, that if they consented to such honours, it would appear as if they approved of all the sentiments of that great man, some of which were, perhaps, of too high a tone for them to relish. They, therefore, would not, at that time, have agreed to a resolution which would have declared Mr. Burke an excellent statesman. When the French revolution broke out, it not only broke up the whole system of European politics, but it broke up, at the same time, many of the dearest connections which had united men in ties of private, as well as political friendships. I then differed upon that subject materially from the opinion of my hon. friend (Mr. Fox), and being, in a great measure, induced by the authority, and pressed indeed by the instigation, of the great man I have mentioned (Mr. Burke), I connected myself with the administration of which Mr. Pitt was at the head. It is not to be supposed, that because I joined his administration, that I necessarily approved of every part of his system. The question with me was, whether, upon the whole, the forming that connexion, was not the most likely way to promote those objects, which, in my opinion, were desirable to be obtained. Whether in so doing, I judged right or wrong, or whether now, after the event, my opinion remains the same as it was before, are questions that are of little consequence. If I were to divide the whole of the political life of the distinguished person here spoken of, into two distinct periods, one the period before the breaking out of the French revolution, and the other the period subsequent to that event, and that I were called to declare, whether I thought that either, separately, or both conjointly, were of a sort to call for the honours now proposed, or to justify the character, ascribed in the resolution, of an "excellent statesman," I must say, no. I have no wish to bring forward my opinion in that respect at the present moment; but, when compelled to declare myself, I must say what I think. I cannot consent to pronounce an opinion different from what I think the true one, and thus to contribute to mislead both the present time and posterity on a period of our history which it is most important for them to judge rightly of. With the fullest acknowledgement both of the talents and virtues of the eminent man in question, I 52 do not think, from whatever cause it has proceeded, that his life has been beneficial to his country. For the earlier part of it, including the commencement of his power, I must contradict every principle, that I ever maintained, if I said that it was so. For the succeeding period, the greatest in which a statesman was ever called to act, I cannot say, that he acted his part greatly. I do not judge merely from the event; though the event, for the present purpose, might be all that need be considered. The French revolution was, indeed, a storm, in which vessels, the best formed, and conducted with the greatest skill, might easily founder: but, what I mean to say, is, that, in my opinion, the vessel was not conducted with the greatest skill, and that it is, in all human probability, to the fault of the pilot, that we are to ascribe our present fearful situation. This is no new opinion on my part: I must think so, if I think, as I have always professed to do, with the other great man that I have alluded to, Mr. Burke.—I think it necessary to say thus much, in order to free myself from a supposed charge of inconsistency, in denying generally, the merits of a minister, with whom, for a considerable time, I had acted. But all that would result from this denial is, that the parts, in winch I agreed, did not outweigh, in my opinion, those in which I differed. I have stated, however, already, that even in those parts in which I agreed, my agreement was only qualified. I agreed, as with respect to my hon. friends near me, from whom I totally differed; but, as with respect to the opinion of Mr. Burke, I must be considered as widely differing. I repeat, that I feel it painful to oppose the motion; but, I must say, that honours, of such a nature as is now proposed, ought not to be given hastily, from any momentary feeling, but from a full conviction on the part of each person who consents to them, that they are strictly merited, not by the possession merely of talents and virtues, but by great and essential services, rendered, and acknowledged to have been rendered, to the state. Can this be stated to be the case in the, present instance? An hon. gent. (Mr. Hawkins Browne) has cited the flourishing state of the finances and commerce of the country, compared with what they were twenty years ago, as a decisive proof of what we owe to the eminent statesman that we have lost. But, woe betide us, if, in these times, we measure the prosperity 53 of the country by its riches. When hon. gentlemen talk of our riches, we must ask how long we can be sure of enjoying them? 'Three thousand ducats a year, and but a year in all those ducats!' The prosperity of a country is to be estimated like a West-India estate, not by its annual produce, but by its fee-simple. What did any one think of the value of an estate in the West-Indies, at the moment when admiral Villeneuve was reigning triumphant in those seas; and, till the illustrious hero, whose funeral we lately celebrated, had arrived to drive him back?—My great objection to granting the honours now demanded, is this: it has not been the usage of this country, or of mankind in general, to grant the highest rewards, unless in cases where merit has been crowned with success. Of the many admirals who have been rewarded with the peerage, in every instance there was a certain share of success as well as of merit. If lord St. Vincent had lost half his fleet in the action with the Spaniards, or lord Nelson been defeated, either at the battle of the Nile, or Trafalgar, although the highest exertion of courage and talents had been proved, the same rewards would not have been given. Lord Nelson displayed as much courage and enterprize at the unsuccessful attack of Teneriffe as in those glorious victories; but if he had lost his life at Teneriffe, it can hardly be supposed, that he would have been honoured with such a funeral as was given to him when he fell in the arms of victory. Now, as to the success of Mr. Pitt, it must be allowed that the change in the state of this country and of Europe, during his time, has been most fatal, and that the last periods of his life have been the most disastrous. Can we, in the face of these facts, in the midst of the very ruin, which his last measures have brought on; whether by his fault or not, I do not enquire; decree the highest honours, that a grateful nation can render in return for the most distinguished services? The character of these measures, and still more the general merits of his political life, can they be now discussed? and should we not be complained of, were we now to attempt it, not only as opening a subject more proper for history than for a debate, but as cruelly raking up the ashes of the dead, now newly consigned to the tomb? The honours which are now proposed, are such as the whole history of our country does not afford a parallel instance of, except in the 54 case of his illustrious father. The services, however, that the great lord Chatham had rendered to the country, and the success of his measures, were such as were never denied by any body; and therefore, the resolution which might be strictly applicable to the father, and which in that case was carried unanimously, stands in fatal contrast to the administration of his son; which, in all its later periods, was eminently unsuccessful, and which very many considered as meriting disapprobation. For these reasons, I think we should exercise the great and solemn privilege we possess with the most mature deliberation, and that we should not, contrary to the usual practice of this and every other country, give the highest honours of the state to mark the memory of a minister, who, though possessing talents as great as ever appeared in any age of the world, a character and frame of mind fitted for every thing most arduous, and feeling, as must have been the case, a strong desire that the country should prosper in his hands, was unsuccessful in the result, and will not, I fear, be recorded to posterity, as having, advanced the real interests and the character of the country.
§ Mr. R. Ryder
said, the speech of the right hon. gent. who just sat down, had made on his mind so deep an impression, that he could not refrain from expressing his utter astonishment. The right hon. gent. had made such allusions to the political life and conduct of the illustrious statesman, now no more, as could not fail of calling to the recollection of the house, the political conduct of that right hon. gent. himself, when, at the most critical period ever experienced in the history of this country, he had separated himself from his oldest and most intimate political connections in that house, taken a seat in the same cabinet, and fought the same battles, for a series of years, with that illustrious statesman, by whom the constitution of this country was preserved, whom he this night had risen in his place to condemn, and whose measures, throughout the course of his political life, he now reproved with so much asperity. He called upon the house, after the strenuous part that right hon. gent. had borne so long in the chief measures of the late lamented chancellor of the exchequer, to witness the part he had taken this night. The right hon. gent. had shewn a degree of Spartan virtue, which he confessed excited his admiration; he had evinced an heroic disre- 55 gard of every natural and every moral feeling; but, for the sake of the happiness of the world, he trusted that his conduct would operate rather as a warning to deter, than an example to be followed. The right hon. gent. as well as another hon. friend of his, who spoke early in the debate (Mr. W. Smith), appeared totally to have misunderstood, or misconstrued the object of the motion; for it was emphatically impressed by the hon. member, who had this night brought it forward, and expressly desired to be understood, as not binding any man who should vote on this question, to any opinion whatever, upon any other topic that might be hereafter the subject of discussion. But surely, no man in that house, however different his political principles might be to those of the illustrious statesman, now no more, could fairly feel his principles implicated, in acceding to a signal mark of public respect to the memory of that great man, the purity of whose moral character, the splendour of whose talents, the sincerity of whose zeal, and the importance of whose services to his country, every man, in and out of that house, must acknowledge. The question was not, whether such a mark of public respect should be paid to his memory, because he had held the contidence of his sovereign longer than any former minister had done; nor for the important space he filled in the eyes of Europe, but for the great character which, upon the whole, he head sustained; a character as honourable to the age in which he lived, as it was ornamental to his country; and the loss of whose talents, in the event of his death, presented on of the most durable causes of sorrow in every part of the empire.
§ Mr. George Ponsonby rose
, and spoke as follows;—I feel, sir, most sensibly, a high degree of reluctance in rising to oppose the motion now before the house; and, I am persuaded, it is the wish of every liberal mind, that however men may have differed in political opinions from the right hon. gent. who is the subject of this discussion, all animosities, that have heretofore existed, should now cease: and, if the motion of the hon. member had been merely to express sentiments, on the part of this house, favourable to the moral character and good intentions of that right hon. gent. I should most cheerfully have acceded to the motion. But the question really goes, in my understanding, to pledge every man, who votes for this motion, to approve the measures 56 which that minister pursued: so far, however, am I from approving those measures, or wishing their continuance, that I sincerely hope the system will be buried with the man. When I am called upon to mark, with approbation, the political life of a minister, whose measures it has been almost uniformly the fortune of my political life to oppose, by voting to his memory the highest honours that ever a country could confer upon a patriotic statesman, I am bound to examine, whether the system he has pursued was such as to deserve such honourable distinction. But when I compare the situation of this country, when first the direction of its affairs was entrusted to his hands, on the commencement of his political life, with that in which it was left at the moment of his death; when I compare the situation in which Europe stood then, and that in which she stands now, in respect to France, at least, I find nothing to warrant this house in bestowing such distinction such approbation upon the system, pursued by that minister. If I look to the most brilliant periods of British history, and compare them with the present, I find the successors of those illustrious persons to whom the country first owed her freedom, and boasted as her proudest connections, hurled from political existence; the prince of Orange, to whose great predecessor in 1688, this country was indebted for the successes of her glorious revolution, driven from Holland; and the illustrious house of Brunswick expelled from Hanover. In this comparison, therefore, I see no cause to rejoice. If the motion were merely to give credit to that right hon. minister for an earliest wish to serve his country, I am ready to agree, that such was his motive of action; and that his errors were not those of intention but of judgment: but I cannot conceive that measures are entitled to public acknowledgment, and honourable reward, unless it is shewn that they have been successful. But even to men, whose measures have been of the highest importance and advantage to this country, public honours of this kind have not been deemed necessary. What man, I ask, has rendered more important services to this country, or more raised her glory in the eye of nations, than my lord Somers? and yet no public monuments have been voted to his memory. What man, I ask, has borne a higher moral character, or rendered more disinterested and important services 57 to your country than archbishop Tillotson, at the head of your church, a man so disinterested in the public service, and so pure in every thing which related to his personal interests and all pecuniary transactions, that he died destitute of the means of defraying the expences of his own funeral? and yet his country voted him no burial or monument. To whom was the country more highly indebted for her prosperity, and her finance, than to Mr. Pelham, who reduced the interest of money from four to three per cent.? and yet his country voted to him no public funeral. The same may be said of my lord Godolphin, to whom the country owed the highest gratitude, and yet no public funeral or monument was voted to his memory; and therefore, so far as general precedents go, great talents and public virtues in a statesman have not been usually considered as entitled to such Marks of public distinction as are now proposed. The only instance was, in the case of the illustrious lord Chatham, the great ancestor of the right hon. gent. now alluded to. He certainly rendered his country the most signal services. I do not wish to draw invidious distinctions, or to question the purity of the hon. member's motives, but I wish him to compare the situation of this country at the conclusion of the peace of 1763, with its situation at the conclusion of the peace of Amiens, or any other peace it shall hereafter conclude with France; and I ask him, whether the comparison will warrant this house in adopting the precedent? In fact, I cannot conceive where lies the claim of such distinction to talents, where they have not been successful; nor has it ever been usual to confer them. I conceive, therefore, the hon. gent. did not duly consider his motion before he propounded it to the house: for, surely, sir, if he had, he could not have imagined we would vote funeral honours, or monumental trophies, to a minister whose measures have been productive of so much misfortune to the country, and whose last and most important project, had so recently terminated in disasters so ruinous to Europe, and so seriously alarming to the British empire. I do not wish, sir, to push my objections to any greater length at this Moment: but I cannot give my assent to a motion this night, which would be virtually a contradiction to the votes I have given for a series of years, against all the leading measures of that minister.
said, drat he felt at all times a 58 reluctance to occupy much of the attention of the house; his feelings on the present occasion incapacitated him still more from trespassing long on their time. He confessed he had entertained a hope, that the resolution, proposed by his hon. friend, would have been adopted without difficulty, and with unanimity. When in the year 1778, a similar resolution had been proposed, with respect to the illustrious lord Chatham, it was assented to by the existing administration, notwithstanding that noble lord had been one of their most bitter opponents, and had reviled them in the strongest terms, accusing them of the grossest weakness, and the basest treachery. Great statesmen might certainly differ on questions of great importance, but, for his own part, he should consider Mr. Pitt entitled to the appellation of an "excellent statesman," even did he believe that he had been guilty of occasional errors. The noble lord had stated, as a ground of his opposition, that Mr. Pitt had found the country in a prosperous state, and had left it in a ruinous one. Without any wish to provoke a discussion on this point, he would ask, at the time that Mr. Pitt came into office, what was the situation of the country? He found it at the end of a most ruinous war, its commerce annihilated, its navy considerably impaired. What were the consequences of his efforts? During the period of his administration, our resources had been doubled, our manufactures had been doubled, our seamen had been doubled, our shipping had been doubled. The funds, at the period alluded to, were much lower than they are now, after thirteen years war. The revenue was then barely equal to the interest of the debt, and the national expenditure was annually increasing that debt. The contrast in this particular was too obvious to demand illustration. That Mr. Pitt had imposed great burthens, was very true; that he had discovered extraordinary resources, was as true. The question was not, whether the present war had been well or ill conducted; he was sorry to hear this mentioned on the other side, because he earnestly desired on this motion unanimity. His hon. friend had taken his resolution, as he found it recorded on the Journals of the house. He had not altered an iota of the terms in which the similar one on the death of lord Chatham, which was acceded to by the administration of that day, had been conceived. He could not, therefore, with justice be ac- 59 cused of purposely bringing forward any thing in which gentlemen opposite might find it difficult to acquiesce. With respect to the illustrious character who was the lamented object of the present motion, he would only say of him, that he had exhausted his life in serving his country to the best of his great abilities, for it was no exaggeration to say, that the gallant admiral, who had lately closed his brilliant career, by falling in the arms of victory, did not more decidedly lose his life in the service of his country than Mr. Pitt; his anxiety for his country had destroyed him. It was well known to those who were in the room when that great man expired, that the last words he uttered were, "Oh! my country." The motion before the house bound no gentleman to an approbation of any particular act of Mr. Pitt's administration, much less to the measures of the last six months. It went only to assert what was admitted in every corner of England and Europe, that Mr. Pitt was an excellent statesman, and that his loss was irreparable to the country.
§ Mr. Fox
rose, and spoke as follows:—I do not know, sir, that ever I rose to address the house in the performance of my public duty with more pain than I do at this moment. I therefore hope that I shall experience some indulgence, if, before I give my vote on this question, I should shortly state the reasons which compel me to oppose the motion now proposed by the hon. gent. under the gallery. The hon. gent. says, that all party feelings and political animosities should be laid aside on the present occasion; I assure him, sir, that I do lay aside all party feelings. If I had any such at this time, they would lead me to vote with the hon. gent. and not against him. At the same time I do not pretend to undervalue party feelings. When a person is convinced that the opinions which he holds, if acted upon, would be productive of benefit to his country, but finds that the only chance of having them acted upon depends upon his connection with a party, and the support which by this means he may acquire, it is his duty to have recourse to a party. He may consider this fairly and justly as the best mode of effectually carrying into execution those measures which, in his estimation, are the most calculated to promote the public prosperity and happiness. But at present it is obvious to every one, that all the motives which are likely to influence me, as far as 60 party is concerned, are on the side of the hon. gent. and would lead me to vote with him. The hon. gent. must see, that if the gratification of party feelings, if ambition, if private interest were my objects, the most proper course for me to pursue, would be to give an immediate assent to this motion. Upon such a supposition, every one must be sensible how much it would be my interest to conciliate, as much as possible, all those who had the greatest respect and value for Mr. Pitt, to drown, if it could be done, the very remembrance of our political contests, and endeavour to gain, by every means that could be imagined, their support and favour. This would be the line of conduct which party views would suggest, as the most proper to follow. But this is not all; there are other motives of no less weight, that strongly recommend the same mode of proceeding. For many of the supporters of the present motion I have a personal friendship, which would make me reluctant to oppose them on such an occasion; but, most of all would it be my interest, as well as my inclination, not to cross, in this instance, the views of the noble lord near me (lord Temple), and other near relations of the deceased minister, with whom I am now likely to be, for the remainder of my life, inseparably connected. The vote, therefore, may be considered as one not given to gratify any feeling of private animosity, or of public ambition, but extorted by a most painful but imperious duty. In every party point of view then, whether my object should be to conciliate those who have the warmest attachment to the memory of Mr. Pitt, or to join with those who are already my political friends, my plan would be to support the hon. gent.'s motion. I will go farther, and say that if feelings were to be allowed to direct our conduct on this occasion, the right hon. gent. opposite (Mr. Rose) might address to our feelings arguments much more powerful than those which he has just now addressed to our reasons. I, sir, have been engaged in a long course of opposition to the person for whom public honours are now claimed. I may say that I have been considered, and perhaps it may be called an honour, as his rival. But I do assure the right hon. gent. and his most zealous admirers, that, during all that time, I never opposed him from a personal motive in my life. I will go still farther, and say, that another motive would lead me to support the motion, and that is 61 the respect which I entertain for many of Mr. Pitt's personal qualities. Great qualities he certainly had, in no ordinary degree, in private life; and great qualities also in points connected with his administration. I do not think this a proper time to enter upon the particular acts of that administration; but in the measure for the establishment of a real sinking fund, he had always my warmest support, and I freely declare my opinion, that this has done a great deal of good to the nation, and, that for this, therefore, the country is highly obliged to him. There is another quality for which he deserves great praise. No minister was ever more disinterested, as far as related to pecuniary matters. His integrity and moderation, in this respect, are confirmed by the state of his affairs when he died. I allow that a minister is not to be considered as moderate and disinterested, merely because he is poor during his life, or at his death. But when I see a minister, who has been in office above twenty years, with the full command of places and public money, without any peculiar extravagance and waste, except what might be expected from the carelessness that perhaps necessarily arose from the multiplicity of duties, to which the attention of a man, in such a situation, must be directed; when I see a minister, under such circumstances, using his influence neither to enrich himself, nor those with whom he is, by family ties, more peculiarly connected, it is impossible for me not to conclude that this man is disinterested. I must say, that he has, with regard to private emolument, acted with a high degree of integrity and moderation. In the course of the long administration of Mr. Pitt, all that he took for himself was, I believe, the wardenship of the Cinque Ports. This was certainly in him highly disinterested; and his disinterestedness in this respect shines with the more lustre, when we consider the mode in which, according to report, this reward has been since disposed of. I, therefore, sir, have every reason, from my intimate friendship and near connection with the living, and from my own private feelings and respect for the dead, who undoubtedly possessed many estimable qualities, to give my support to the motion now before the house. I might be led to this by another motive. If personal vanity had any weight with me, I might from this consideration concur with the hon. gent. I might by this means gain a great deal of applause, without any loss whatever in a party 62 point of view, and I do not pretend to be insensible to praise any more than others. But there are cases, sir, in which our public duty is so clear and imperious, that no desire of praise, no motive of personal respect, no wish to gratify our friends, nor any other consideration, however powerful, can possibly enable us to dispense with it, and in my conscience, sir, I believe this to be one of those cases. If the marks of respect were such as did not compromise my public duty in the compliance, no person would join in it more cheerfully and more eagerly than I would. If, for instance, it had been proposed to remedy those pecuniary difficulties which Mr. Pitt had incurred in the course of his political life; if it had been proposed to do those things for his relations in that way, which his own acknowledged disinterestedness did not allow him to do; if it had been proposed to supply the deficiencies of his own fortune, I would most willingly consent that all this should be done in the most liberal manner. But it is a very different thing to be called upon to confer honours upon Mr. Pitt as an "excellent statesman." We ought not, sir, in such cases, to be complimented out of our consent, if our public duty commands us to oppose the grant of such honours. Public honours are matters of the highest importance, because they must more or less influence posterity. They ought not, therefore, to be conferred lightly, but only where merit is clearly seen and acknowledged. I could farther add, sir, that the manner in which the hon. gent. opened this business, would lead me to give his motion my support; but when public honours are solicited, it becomes me to consult neither my interest nor my feelings, but to adhere rigidly and conscientiously to my public duty. I need not add any thing to what has been said respecting honours conferred upon military men and statesmen, by my right hon. friend on the bench near me (Mr. Windham), who has so ably and clearly pointed out the distinction between the two cases. As little need I add to what has been said by my hon. friend on my right hand (Mr. Ponsonby), respecting many eminent public men, on whom no honours of this kind were conferred, and for whom none were solicited, though their talents, virtues, and good intentions were unquestionable. It is not to particular acts only that we are to look; we must consider the general effect which these acts produce, with a view to the public benefit. Certainly, when I look at lord Chat- 63 ham's monument; when I find the inscription bearing upon the face of it the grounds upon which this monument was voted; when I find it there stated, that he had reduced the power of France to a very low ebb, and raised the prosperity of his country to a very high pitch; I must say, that this case can never be compared with that of lord Chatham. I must say, that the country at present is reduced to the most dangerous and alarming situation—a situation which might call for any thing rather than honours to be conferred upon him, who had the direction of the measures which brought it to this state. The right hon. gent. (Mr. Rose) has told us, that in the case of lord Chatham there was the most perfect unanimity, though there were many in the house who had opposed his political principles. Why, so there was; but then, sir, the merit was clear, and the inscription related to points on which there must have been the most perfect unanimity; and though certainly during the seven years war there was a strong opposition, yet his merit on certain points, to which the inscription referred, was allowed by the bitterest of his antagonists. But though no consideration aught to induce us to betray our trust in conferring the public honours, yet at the same time there are cases in which the effects of this might be less sensibly felt. For instance, in cases where we should be compelled to oppose particular acts of au administration, we might still make a clear distinction between what was bad. In the present ease I shall not enter upon the particular acts. In deciding upon this question, I should be unwilling to take any one particular act of the administration of the late minister. I always thought, and do still think, that an unfortunate system of government has pervaded the whole of the present reign; and I firmly believe that system to have been the cause of all the disasters and disappointments which the country has experienced, almost uniformly throughout the whole course of it. Being of this opinion, how can I conscientiously say that he who followed this system was an "excellent statesman?" To that system I ascribe the loss of the American Colonies, and I cannot but impute blame, instead of praise or honour, to all the ministers who have supported it. The earl of Guildford who conducted the war, in the event of which those colonies were lost, was a man of very uncommon talents, and of very amiable 64 qualities. Towards the latter part of his Life, I was connected with him, not only in, political opinions, but also in habits of the most intimate friendship. But, notwithstanding all that, I have no hesitation in declaring, that if, at the decease of that nobleman, any motion similar to the present had been made in this house, much as I esteemed and loved him, and still more dearly as I loved his son, the late earl, I should have been the very foremost to oppose it. Thinking, as I do, of the disastrous effects of that system, which I before stated to have prevailed through the present reign, I cannot but accuse the late minister of having, I will not say criminally, for the expression might sound, in some ears, too harsh, but, most unfortunately, lent his brilliant talents and his commanding eloquence, to the support of it. In having done so, and with the knowledge he must have had of it, I esteem him the more culpable, as without that splendour of mental endowment, which enabled him to throw a veil over the hideous deformity of the system alluded to, I am fully persuaded, that it could not have resisted the attacks made upon it, and consequently could not have existed, and spread its baneful influence half so long. No man can be more desirous than I am, to bury in oblivion the remembrance of those contests in which we had so long been engaged. This I shewed plainly enough while he was alive. But, I cannot consent to confer public honours, on the ground of his being an "excellent statesman," on the man, who, in my opinion, was the sole, certainly the chief supporter of a system, which I had early been taught to consider as a bad one. Thinking thus, it cannot be expected that I should so far forget my public duty, and the principles which I have uniformly professed, as to subscribe to the condemnation of those principles, by agreeing to the motion now before the house. But, I defy the hon. gent., I defy ally person who differs from me, I defy any one of those who are most desirous of misrepresenting my motives, to point out any possible feeling of interest or ambition, that could induce me to oppose it. My motive is a sense of public duty, which would be violated, if I were to agree to confer honours, on grounds which to me do not appear to warrant my concurrence. Sir, I am sorry that this motion was ever made. I said so before, and if those who were most nearly connected with Mr. Pitt by the ties of blood, 65 and who may he supposed to be most interested in his glory, and the respect that is to attend his memory, had been consulted, I believe a mode might have been struck out, by which a suitable mark of respect might have been conferred on him, without reducing us to this dilemma. Now, however, it is too late. The thing is done, and cannot be helped, and nothing remains for us but to do our duty, however much our feelings may be hurt by the performance. I must therefore conclude with saying, that, in my opinion, my public duty does call upon me in the most imperious and irresistible manner, to oppose the motion; and that however painful to my feelings in every respect it may be, I must do my duty.
said, that the few observations which he had to submit to the house upon this subject, were not meant so much as a reply to what had fallen from the hon. member who had just sat down, and who had spoken throughout by no means in the spirit of an adversary, but rather with a liberality that was highly honourable to his feelings and character. The testimony of the hon. gent. to the exalted virtue, and the incorruptible honour of his right hon. friend, must be peculiarly gratifying to all those who revered the memory, who valued the fame of the illustrious personage who was the subject of this debate. Upon the arguments of that hon. gent. in opposition to this motion, it was not his intention to reason. This, in fact, was riot a question to be determined by argument. It was quite a question of feeling. The acquiescence of that house and the country, in such a proposition, was more to be looked for from intuitive feeling than from cold reason; and if that feeling did not exist, it was in vain to think of arguing men into it. With regard to the allusions which had been made in the course of the debate to the merits of that distinguished person, the late earl of Chatham, and the attempts to contrast these merits with those of Mr. Pitt, he felt himself justified in saying, that there was a very marked distinction between the cases of both. The different circumstances in which they were placed, must be taken into consideration before any fair estimate could be formed of their relative merits. Mr. Pitt, it was known, had to manage the government in times of peculiar peril, at an era indeed unparalleled in the history of this country or of the world—without 66 any precedent whatever to assist his judgment, much less to direct his way. In that unprecedented situation, Mr. Pitt conducted himself in such a manner as to merit the approbation and obtain the confidence of parliament and the country. Was it, then, too much on the part of the Friends of such a man to require the proposed mark of public respect and gratitude? or would it be consistent with the honour of parliament, or agreeable to the feelings of the country, to withhold it? But the danger of precedent had been dwelt upon. It was contended that similar honours had been withheld from men of equally eminent abilities. A right hon. gentleman (Mr. Windham) had mentioned, that the splendid talents and public services of Mr. Burke gave him a much higher claim to public honours than could be asserted to belong to the character of Mr. Pitt. For the memory of Mr. Burke the noble lord professed the utmost reverence; for the services which he had rendered his country he felt the warmest gratitude. Towards that great and meritorious individual he could not be supposed to entertain the same degree of admiration with that which was, no doubt, felt by the right hon. gent. who had the good fortune to possess the opportunity, from intimate intercourse, to observe the virtues and to appreciate the merits of that great man. But although he had not the advantage of such opportunity, still he admired sincerely and warmly the character of Mr. Burke. He conceived, however, that the character of this celebrated individual was not of such a nature as to warrant any man in bringing it into competition with that of Mr. Pitt. There were so many points of difference between the two men, that a comparison between them could not be fairly instituted. Indeed, the right hon. gent. himself must be aware, that however he might regret the circumstance, he could not persuade parliament, upon just grounds, to adjudicate to Mr. Burke the same honours that were now proposed to be done to the remains of Mr. Pitt. Differing widely,as he did from the gentlemen on the other side, as to the conduct of the recent transactions on the continent, however unfortunate the result, he could not in the slightest degree assent to the justice of the assertion, that these transactions served to abate the claims of his deceased friend to the esteem of that house and the 67 country. Quite the contrary. But into this subject he did not at present wish to enter. That would more properly come before the house at another time; and he deprecated the idea of any man voting upon this occasion who should suffer his mind to be influenced by the contemplation of that subject, upon which but very few men at present were enabled to form a correct opinion. The documents necessary to a full understanding of the conduct of ministers would be speedily laid before the house. The means they had employed, the measures they had pursued, would be entirely made known; and upon a full and fair review, it would be for the house to judge; but he protested against any premature judgment. His own sentiment, he had no hesitation to say, coincided with that which the house had heard from the hon. officer who sat on the same side with him (gen. Tarleton). From the most ample enquiry he was able to make, the conviction of his mind was, that the conduct of the last six months of his deceased friend's administration evinced a series of the most splendid efforts, not only for the salvation of this country but of Europe. If these efforts had failed, he was persuaded it would appear that their failure was not the result of any fatality that was justly attributable to him. If they failed through the weakness of those courts with whom we were to co-operate, or through the incapacity of those to whom the execution of their plans was intrusted; if it was not the fortune of Mr. Pitt to meet a correspondent energy in those who were equally interested in the common cause, whose effective aid was essential to the accomplishment of his projects, surely that was not to be ascribed to him as a ground of incapacity. As far as his arrangements could extend, as far as his influence could operate, as far as he was implicated, there was not the shadow of doubt that his conduct would prove, upon the fullest investigation, to have been not merely free from blame, but entitled to praise, Passing, however, by the Whole of this question, he saw quite enough, in the eventful life of Mr, Pitt, to justify the highest eulogium. The judgment, activity, and resolution, manifested by his deceased friend during the progress of the French Revolution, was amply sufficient to sustain even more than the proposition before the house. This, however, he was aware was not a ground upon which 68 he could rest any claim to praise from the hon. gent. who spoke last, or those friends who immediately surrounded him, because they uniformly opposed his right hon. friend; but certainly it was one which entitled him to expect the acquiescence of the right hon. gent. on the lower bench (Mr. Windham) and others, who at that period thought it their duty to separate from their present connections, and rally themselves with Mr. Pitt, whose energy, wisdom and patriotism were, for several years, the favourite theme of their panegyric. Surely those hon. gentlemen could not consistently deny that the administration of Mr. Pitt, during that important period, alone warranted his friends in claiming for him the most honourable and elevated distinction.—As to the objections that were made to the particular terms of the motion, he felt that it would be quite impossible to draw it up in such a way as at once to meet the wishes of Mr. Pitt's friends, to correspond with those feelings which his death was so peculiarly calculated to excite, and at the same time to be perfectly reconcileable with the sentiments of those gentlemen on the other side, who had been in the habit of acting in direct opposition to him throughout the whole of his public life. Upon such a subject it was much to be regretted that any dissention should arise. It was sincerely the wish of Mr. Pitt's friends to avoid it. But still it was felt that Mr. Pitt's friends should not shrink from their day, should not suppress their feelings, should not withold from great public merit a just tribute of public respect merely to avoid the hazard of incurring some difference of opinion.—Although the support of the hon. gent. on the other side was not to be calculated upon, he had no doubt that the motion would be adopted. Indeed he felt confident that it would. The house would act inconsistently with its own opinion, repeatedly expressed, if it hesitated to recognise the merit, if it declined to distinguish the memory of Mr. Pitt. Such a thing was not to be supposed possible. Unanimity upon such a question was, no doubt, highly desirable; but that he clearly saw was not to be obtained. It was evidently impossible to model a motion of this nature, so as to make it agreeable to the sentiments of the gentlemen on the other side. Yet, for himself he must say, that, were he to have framed a motion from his own, perhaps partial feel- 69 ings, it would have been much stronger than that now before the house. Impressed as he was with the eminent virtues, the transcendant talents, the distinguished service of his deceased friend, he had no difficulty in stating, that he should have felt the compliment paid to his illustrious father, and which his hon. friend had copied, rather cold and inadequate on this occasion; but it was deemed advisable to follow the precedent chalked out in the case of lord Chatham, and the precise words were adopted; because, even highly as Mr. Pitt's friends, with justice, esteemed his merits, it was not conceived right to take any novel or extraordinary proceeding, to mark the public deference for his character. It was not thought just to place the name of Mr. Pitt on such a pedestal, as should by its comparative elevation depress the distinction and consequence of other meritorious public men.—With respect to the observations of a learned gent. on the other side, (Mr. Ponsonby) that the system pursued by Mr. Pitt should be altogether abandoned, that it should be interred with him, he begged to remark to the learned gent. nay, he would advise him, if he wished to attach the confidence of parliament and the country to the party with which he acted, to adopt a different tone. For he had little doubt, that if dangers should arise similar to those against which Mr. Pitt contended, the councils of the country would-feel it necessary to recur to the system of Mr. Pitt. The efficacy of that system had been experienced, its benefit to the country was universally felt and acknowledged. To that system we, in fact, owed the internal peace of England amid the convulsions of Europe, and the security of the English constitution. To that system the learned gent. owed the consequence he possessed, the honours that awaited him. Any deviations, therefore, from such a system, under similar circumstances, it was not wise to recommend; and sure he was, that such recommendation would not be graciously received among the respectable and intelligent part of the people.—Adverting to the remarks that had been made on the alleged failures of Mr. Pitt, the noble lord challenged any gent. to mention a minister in the history of the country, who, if success were to be the criterion upon which public honours were to be voted, was by any means entitled to such honours as Mr. Pitt. 70 Had not that distinguished person saved the constitution? Had not the measures of his administration been productive of unprecedented prosperity? And were not the success of our arms in war, infinitely more splendid than any thing that had been achieved during the administration of every one of his predecessors, not even excepting that of his illustrious father? Whether we looked to the amount of our military forces, and their efficiency wherever they had occasion to act; whether we looked to our means of defence or attack, we saw ample grounds to assert the success, to panegyrize the wisdom and vigour of Mr. Pitt. But if we looked to our navy, what an impressive testimony of his active vigilance and provident attention presented itself to our view! It was notorious, that, under his administration, that important branch of our power had advanced by rapid progression, and attained unparalleled glory. In that department indeed, his administration presented a series of the most brilliant successes, terminating in that glorious action which immediately preceded his death, which from its character and result, seemed to have crowned the expectation which even a sanguine admiration of the British navy would induce one to form.—The noble lord expressed a hope that the feelings by which he was actuated, would plead his excuse for trespassing so long on the attention of the house. He professed the utmost anxiety to avoid any observation that had the least tendency to render the debate personal, or to provoke party feelings. In this, indeed, he but imitated the conduct of the gentlemen on the other side, who had throughout performed what they conceived to be their duty, in a manner that redounded highly to their credit. Certainly, the friends of Mr. Pitt had no reason to complain of any part of the course pursued by these gentlemen. Not an expression was heard that was calculated to excite an unpleasant sensation; and he was happy to perceive that the discussion was, on the whole, not less honourable to the individuals engaged in it, than it was creditable to the individual who was the subject of it.
§ Mr. Wilberforce rose ,
to bear testimony to the great public virtues and splendid talents of Mr. Pitt, in whom he declared the love of country was to be found as sincere and ardent as ever yet existed in any human bosom. With regard to the assertion, that 71 success was a proper criterion by which to appreciate the merit of a great man, the hon. gent. reprobated the idea, as inconsistent with wisdom and justice. But if the character of Mr. Pitt were to be tried by that rule, where were we to look among the great men of ancient or modern times, for any who had stronger claims to the gratitude and respect of their country, than those which could be advanced in favour of that illustrious personage? Success, however, might be, in many instances, a Very erroneous criterion of real merit. Results might sometimes arise, the cause and credit of which might not at all belong to the plan of operations intended to produce them. He was aware that parliament acted entirely from results, in voting addresses for naval or military achievements. But the reason of that mode of proceeding was obvious. The parliament could not act as a military or naval court martial. It did not belong to them to enquire, or to plan or conduct. Upon such subjects they could only decide from results. But the case was quite different with regard to great projects of domestic or foreign policy. Such projects the house was able to examine, and, upon examination, they might appear to have been contrived with the utmost wisdom, although productive of very unfortunate results, through the weakness or treachery of those employed to carry them into execution. The application of these general remarks, the hon. gent. observed, must be obvious: they were meant to guard against premature impressions upon a subject, into which he would not enter further at present, as he was very unwilling to utter any sentiment upon this occasion, that was likely to excite opposition. He would offer no opinion upon the subject of the last campaign, but simply observe, that it did not follow, that, because success was on the side of the enemy, Mr. Pitt was to be allowed no merit. This question, however, was yet to be determined; and, until the determination should be pronounced, he would not pretend to say that his deceased friend was deserving of praise, at the same time that he protested against the application of censure. But, overlooking this question altogether, there was a part of Mr. Pitt's political life, upon which the world had long determined, which fully entitled that great ornament of his country to his country's best wishes. When the revolutionary spirit had convulsed France, and alarmed the whole civilised 72 world, that distinguished statesman completely succeeded, by the vigour and sagacity of his measures, in preventing that dreadful plague from reaching us. This was the main source of his distinction; this was the great pedestal of his fame.—The hon. gent. pronounced an high eulogium on the manner in which the proposition had been discussed by the gentlemen on the other side. Their conduct, he conceived to be not only honourable to their own character, but to that of their country. It afforded a signal instance, that the spirit of party could not operate in the breasts of Englishmen, to extinguish those feelings and sentiments, which enable men fairly to judge of character, and justly to estimate merit. He declared that he felt great satisfaction in contemplating the course of this discussion, which he had no doubt would terminate in the adoption of his hon. friend's motion. To that motion he was happy to give his warmest support, and that he felt but a small tribute of deference to the memory of a man who was ever the object of his esteem and admiration, who was equally distinguished for great talents, for exalted character, for enlarged views, for personal purity, and for indefatigable patriotism. Of him, indeed, it might well be said, that the first wish of his heart was the good of his fellow creatures, and the sole object of his study that of his country. Undoubtedly, had self been of any consequence in his consideration, he might have materially contributed to promote his own views of policy by cultivating connections and private friendships. But to these things, which are so diligently consulted, and which are of such material use to other public men, Mr. Pitt was quite inattentive. To whatever regarded his own interest, he was perfectly indifferent. Indeed this distinguished man was always forgetting himself, but ever remembering his country.
Sir Robert Williams
said, that he was not aware he could make any motion to effect his wishes, but that he hoped and trusted that the friends of the illustrious person who was the subject of the debate, would all attend his remains to the grave,—The house then divided, and the numbers were—
For Mr. Lascelles' motion 258 Against it 89 — Majority 169
The ayes having come forth, were addressed by lord Castlereagh, while in the 73 lobby, nearly in the following words:—Gentlemen, to-morrow the Treaties alluded to in his majety's speech will be laid before the house; and a day probably be named for discussing that great question, involving so much of the merits and character of Mr. Pitt: I hope and trust, that gentlemen will give, a full attendance on that day; which will be more necessary, as we have lost the splendid talents of that great man.—Strangers were not re-admitted into the gallery; but, we are informed, that Mr. Cartwright gave notice of motion for Monday next, for the payment of Mr. Pitt's debts.