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“ Mr. Jenkinson moved the previous question upon the first Resolution. Upon this the House divided. ... Yeas .. 78, Noes, ... 270. So it passed in the negative. The second, third, fourth and thirteenth Resolutions had also the previous question put on them. The others were negatived.”
In American practice the motion “ that the previous question be now put,” is a well-known device to stop debate, and to force a vote on the main question pending before the assembly. It is made and seconded by persons who hope to carry first it, and then the main question immediately afterwards. If it fails, things are only as they were before. In England, on the contrary, the motion “that the previous question be put," is a device for killing the main question altogether, without coming to any direct vote upon it; is, in fact, a back-handed way of “tabling” it. The motion is made and seconded by persons who mean to vote against it; for, according to English theory, the assembly is not at liberty to consider further any question upon which it has decided that a vote shall not be taken. Thus, in the present instance, the Ministerial party used the “ previous question ” to get rid of Burke's troublesome array of facts without either admitting or denying them, and then voted down the policy he based upon those facts.
WILLIAM Pitt, the “Great Commoner," afterwards Earl of Chatham, was born in 1708, was educated at Eton and Oxford, and entered Parliament in 1735. His remarkable powers of oratory and his fiery spirit soon made him one of the foremost men of the Commons, and the most formidable antagonist of Walpole's administration. His uncompromising and successful hostility during these years earned for him the King's lasting resentment. When Walpole was overthrown, and the Opposition came into power, Pitt's mastery in the House should have been recognized, and a seat should have been given him in the Ministry. But it was long before the King could be brought to offer him even a subordinate position. It was not until 1746 that he became Paymaster of the Forces; ten more years passed, and every other experiment was tried, before he was asked to become Prime Minister. At this time he was confessedly the only man capable of saving England from the desperate straits into which the weakness and wickedness of his predecessors had brought her. He soon won for her far more than all that had been lost. He made the name of England to be known and respected in every quarter of the globe. The five years of his administration are accounted the most glorious in all her history. For five years after that Pitt was out of office. After his return in 1766 with the title of Earl of Chatham, ill-health prevented him from taking an active part in the administration of which he was nominally the head; and he retired finally from office two years
later. But his interest in public affairs, and especially in whatever concerned the greatness of England, remained undiminished to the end. His most memorable speeches were those in which he denounced that pride and folly which was driving the American Colonies into war; yet he could not endure to think that England should ever lose these jewels from her crown. In 1778, on learning that a motion was to be made to grant to the Colonies their independence, he struggled up from his sick-bed to make a passionate and successful protest against a policy that would dismember England, and let her “fall prostrate before the House Bourbon." He was already a dying man. At the close of the speech he fell in convulsions, was carried out, and, after lingering a few days, breathed his last, May 11, 1778.
SPEECH ON AMERICAN AFFAIRS.
Reporters of the last century rarely attempted to do more than to give the general drift of thought and argument; at their hands a fiery eloquence like that of Chatham was sure to lose most of its vital quality. Barely five of his speeches seem to have been written out by competent listeners from notes taken on the spot; and in these alone have we any clear approximation to what was actually said. The one we have chosen for this volume claims to have had Chatham's revision; but of this there is no certainty. By many critics it is accounted his master effort. The occasion was this : The assembling of Parliament in November, 1777, had called forth the usual Address to the Throne, congratulating the King on the birth of a princess, indorsing the measures adopted by the Ministry, and promising to support the Crown to the uttermost in its struggle with the Colonies. Chatham seized the occasion to move an Amendment to the Address, and to protest once more against the injustice and folly of the war.
PAGE 76, 5–7. The Minister was Lord North.
See note to
30, 31. Adapted from Shakespeare, Julius Cæsar, III. ii. 123125.
PAGE 78, 21. Lord Amherst, in the campaign of 1758–1759, ending in the capture of Quebec.
28. The force under General Burgoyne, which surrendered at Saratoga, Oct. 13, 1777. “ The news of this terrible calamity gave force to the words with which Chatham, at the very time of the surrender, was pressing for peace.”. Green's History.
in any event, because British success would only serve to make reconciliation impossible. See p. 79, 1. 7–14.
Page 79, 18. Lord Percy.
PAGE 82, 18. Note how carefully the speaker avoids recognizing the validity of Washington's military title.
Page 83, 20. but you can address. A special use of the verb address growing out of the special use of the noun explained in the Note on Forms of Procedure, p. 322. The thought is expanded below, l. 24, 25.
PAGE 87, 13–23. For the classes separately appealed to here, see Note on the House of Lords, p. 318.
27. The walls of the old House of Lords were hung with tapestry representing striking scenes in English history. Among these was the fight with the Spanish Armada, in August, 1588. Lord Howard, Admiral of the English fleet on that occasion, and presumably conspicuous on the tapestry, was the ancestor of Lord Suffolk referred to.
Page 88, 29. enormous, in the sense of atrocious, a sense which survives in the kindred noun enormity.
Chatham's eloquence, like that of Burke, was all in vain upon this question. The amendment was rejected by a vote of 97 to 24.
SPEECH AT BRISTOL.
During his first and second Parliaments, Burke sat as member for Wendover. At the dissolution of 1774 he lost his seat because the friend who owned the borough, and who had given him the election, was now in need of money, and must sell the seat to some one who could pay for it. Burke was proposed for a little borough in Yorkshire, and his election was actually secured, when there appeared on the scene a deputation from Bristol, the second city in the kingdom, urging him to “stand” for them. The honor and the opportunity were too great to be neglected. Burke waived his election at Malton, hurried to Bristol, and after an exciting canvass was elected as one of the two representatives of that city. In thanking his constituents after the election, Burke's colleague promised strictly to obey their wishes in all his parliamentary action. With characteristic independence, Burke took a different view of the relation between a representative and his constituents. “ Their wishes,” said he, “ought to have great weight with him; their opinions, high respect; their business, unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasure, his satisfactions to theirs; and, above all, ever and in all cases to prefer their interest to his own. But his unbiassed opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion. .. Government and legislation are matters of reason and judgment, and not of inclination; and what sort of reason is that in which the determination precedes the dis