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For the Year 1817.
The Prince Regent's Speech.-Insults offered him.-His Message to both Houses of Parliament.-Taken into Consideration by the Houses of Lords and Commons, and a Secret Committee appointed in each.— Report from the Committee in each House.
PRINCE REGENT'S SPEECH.
N January 28th, his Royal Highness the Prince Regent opened the Parliament with the following Speech.
My Lords and Gentlemen, "It is with deep regret that I am again obliged to announce to you, that no alteration has occurred in the state of his Majesty's lamented indisposition.
"I continue to receive from foreign powers the strongest assurances of their friendly disposition towards this country, and of their earnest desire to maintain the general tranquillity.
"The hostilities to which I was compelled to resort, in vindication VOL. LIX.
of the honour of the country against the government of Algiers, have been attended with the most complete success.
"The splendid achievement of his Majesty's fleet, in conjunction with a squadron of the king of the Netherlands, under the gallant and able conduct of Adm. Viscount Exmouth, led to the immediate and unconditional liberation of all Christian captives then within the territory of Algiers, and to the renunciation by its government of the practice of Christian slavery.
"I am persuaded that you will be duly sensible of the importance of an arrangement so interesting to humanity, and reflecting, from the manner in which it has been [B] accomplished,
accomplished, such signal honour on the British nation.
"In India, the refusal of the government of Nepaul to ratify a treaty of peace which had been signed by its plenipotentiaries, occasioned a renewal of military operations.
"The judicious arrangements of the governor-general, seconded by the bravery and perseverance of his Majesty's forces, and of those of the East-India company, brought the campaign to a speedy and successful issue; and peace has been finally established upon the just and honourable terms of the original treaty. "Gentlemen of the House of Commons ;
"I have directed the estimates for the current year to be laid before you.
They have been formed upon a full consideration of all the present circumstances of the country, with an anxious desire to make every reduction in our establishments which the safety of the empire and sound policy allow.
"I recommend the state of the public income and expenditure to your early and serious attention.
"I regret to be under the necessity of informing you, that there has been a deficiency in the produce of the revenue in the last year but I trust that it is to be ascribed to temporary causes; and I have the consolation to believe, that you will find it practicable to provide for the public service of the year, without making any addition to the burthens of the people, and without adopting any measure injurious to that system by which the public credit of the country has been hitherto sustained.
"My Lords and Gentlemen,
"I have the satisfaction of informing you that the arrangements which were made in the last session of parliament, with a view to a new silver coinage, have been completed with unprecedented expedition.
"I have given directions for the immediate issue of the new coin, and I trust that this measure will be productive of considerable advantages to the trade and internal transactions of the country.
"The distresses consequent upon the termination of a war of such unusual extent and duration have been felt, with greater or less severity, throughout all the nations of Europe; and have been considerably aggravated by the unfavourable state of the season.
Deeply as I lament the pressure of these evils upon the country, I am sensible that they are of a nature not to admit of an immediate remedy; but whilst I observe with peculiar satisfaction the fortitude with which so many privations have been borne, and the active benevolence which has been employed to mitigate them, I am persuaded that the great sources of our national prosperity are essentially unimpaired; and I entertain a confident expectation that the native energy of the country will at no distant period surmount all the difficulties in which we are involved.
"In considering our internal situation, you will, I doubt not, feel a just indignation at the attempts which have been made to take advantage of the distresses of the country, for the purpose of exciting a spirit of sedition and violence.
"I am too well convinced of the loyalty and good sense of the great body of his Majesty's subjects, to believe them capable of being perverted by the arts which are employed to seduce them; but I am determined to omit no precautions for preserving the public peace, and for counteracting the designs of the disaffected. And I
rely with the utmost confidence on your cordial support and cooperation, in upholding a system of law and government, from which we have derived inestimable advantages, which has enabled us to conclude, with unexampled glory, a contest whereon depended the best interests of mankind, and, which has been hitherto felt by ourselves, as it is acknowledged by other nations, to be the most perfect that has ever fallen to the lot of any people."
His Royal Highness then retired, and their lordships adjourned till five o'clock.
After the Prince Regent had withdrawn,
Lord Viscount Sidmouth rose and announced, that before any other matter could be entered upon by the House of Lords, he had one of the most important communications to be made to them that had ever been laid before Parliament. Accordingly, after the strangers had withdrawn, he informed them, that when the Prince Regent was returning from the House, and passing at the back of the garden of Carlton-House, the glass of the carriage had been broken by a stone, or by two balls from an airgun, which appeared to have been aimed at his Royal Highness. in the result, a conference was desired to be held with the House of Commons, at which an Address
to his Royal Highness was agreed upon, congratulating him upon his escape.
The further proceedings upon this subject will appear in the Chronicle of the present year.
On January 29th, the Speech of the Prince Regent was taken into consideration by the House of Lords. The Earl of Dartmouth first moved an address of thanks, which was in the usual form, and was seconded by the Earl of Rothes.
Earl Grey then rose, and began with declaring his full assent to that part of the speech which gave a tribute of applause to the noble admiral, and his officers and seamen, who were engaged in the expedition against Algiers; at the same time he could not refrain from doubting how far the advantages arising from the enterprize would be adequate to its expense, or to its future security. respect to the termination of a remote war in India, he conceived it rather too much to ask at the present moment for an opinion concerning the cause and necessity of a war, when, to the best of his knowledge, no information had been laid before their lordships on the subject.
Passing over these topics, the Earl proceeded to take into his consideration the speech from the throne, and the speeches of other noble lords, respecting the probable continuation of peace. The system of policy on which this confidence was founded, appeared to him, instead of tending to secure this end, fraught with the greatest danger to the peace of Europe. This idea he pursued through various consequences; and with regard to the policy which we had adopted relative to the [B2] French
French nation, he said, that instead of having reduced its power within moderate limits, we had generated in them an implacable spirit of animosity, the end of which would probably be, that having placed and supported the present family on the throne of France, that family must ultimately re-establish its power by going to war with this country.
His lordship then went on to consider, what he regarded as the most important subject of attention in our present circumstances, our internal situation. This he contrasted with all that had taken place in former cases, in order to shew the much greater difficulties we had now to encounter; and this led him to the question of a reduction of the national expenditure. After various views on the subject, he said, this and the other House of Parliament must impose on the ministers the duty of retrenchment. We must insist on a retrenchment very different from that adverted to in the speech from the throne. We must insist upon a rigid unsparing economy, an economy founded not on what sound policy requires, but on what necessity will admit; not on what government would have, but on what the country can afford. If we cannot extend the means to meet the expense of the establishments, we must contract the establishments to meet the means.
His lordship concluded a long speech, by proposing the following amendment:
"That we have seen with the deepest concern the continued embarrassments of our agriculture, manufactures, and commerce; the alarming deficiency of the revenue, and the unexampled and increas
ing distresses of all classes of his Majesty's faithful subjects.
"That we are willing to indulge the hope that these distresses may be found, in part, to have originated from circumstances of a temporary nature, and that some alleviation of them may be produced by the continuance of peace; but that we should ill discharge our duty to his Royal Highness, and be guilty of countenancing a most dangerous delusion, were we to conceal from him our opinion, that the pressure which now weighs so heavily on the resources of the country, is much more extensive in its operation, more severe in its effects, more deep and general in its causes, and more difficult to be removed, than that which has prevailed at the termination of any former war.
"That we are firmly persuaded that the same exemplary patience and fortitude with which all ranks have hitherto borne the difficulties under which they labour, will continue to support them under such burthens as may be found indispensably necessary for the unavoidable exigencies of the public service; but that to maintain this disposition, it is incumbent on parliament, by a severe and vigilant exercise of its powers to prove that sacrifices, so painfully obtained, are strictly limited to the real necessities of the state.
"That while we acknowledge the gracious dispositions announced in his Royal Highness's speech from the throne, we cannot help expressing our regret that his Royal Highness should not have been sooner advised to adopt measures of the most rigid economy and retrenchment, particularly with respect to our military establish