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duty to abstain, himself, from all agitation of this subject in Parliament, and to prevent it, as far as depends on him, on the part of others. If, on the result of such consideration, your Majesty's objections to the measure proposed should not be removed, or sufficiently diminished to admit of its being brought forward with your Majesty's full concurrence, and with the whole weight of Government, it must be personally Mr. Pitt's first wish to be released from a situation, which he is conscious, that, under such circumstances, he could not continue to fill but with the greatest disadvantage.
At the same time, after the gracious intimation, which has been recently conveyed to him, of your Majesty's sentiments on this point, he will be acquitted of presumption in adding, that if the chief difficulties of the present crisis should not then be surmounted, or very materially diminished, and if your Majesty should continue to think, that his humble exertions could, in any degree, contribute to conducting them to a favourable issue, there is no personal difficulty to which he will not rather submit, than withdraw himself at such a moment from your Majesty's service.
He would even, in such case, continue for such a short further interval as might be necessary, to oppose the agitation or discussion of the Question, as far
as he can consistently with the line, to which he feels bound uniformly to adhere, of reserving to himself a full latitude on the principle itself, and objecting only to the time, and to the temper and circumstances of the moment. But he must entreat that, on this supposition, it may be distinctly understood, that he can remain in office no longer than till the issue (which he trusts on every account will be a speedy one) of the crisis now depending, shall admit of your Majesty's more easily forming a new arrangement; and that he will then receive your Majesty's permission to carry with him into a private situation that affectionate and grateful attachment, which your Majesty's goodness for a long course of years has impressed on his mind,--and that unabated zeal for the ease and honour of your Majesty's Government, and for the public service, which he trusts will always govern his conduct.
He has only to entreat your Majesty's pardon for troubling you on one other point, and taking the liberty of most respectfully, but explicitly, submitting to your Majesty the indispensable necessity of effectually discountenancing, in the whole of the interval, all attempts to make
your Majesty's name, or to influence the opinion of any individual, or descriptions of men, on any part of this subject.
B.- The KING'S ANSWER to A.
Queen's House, Feb. 1st, 1801.
I should not do justice to the warm impulse of my heart, if I entered on the subject most unpleasant to my mind, without first expressing, that the cordial affection I have for Mr. Pitt, as well as high opinion of his talents and integrity, greatly add to my uneasiness on this occasion; but a sense of religious as well as political duty has made me, from the moment I mounted the throne, consider the Oath that the wisdom of our forefathers has enjoined the Kings of this realm to take at their Coronation, and enforced by the obligation of instantly following it in the course of the ceremony with taking the Sacrament, as so binding a religious obligation on me to maintain the fundamental maxims on which our Constitution is placed, namely, the Church of England being the established one, and that those who hold employments in the State must be members of it, and consequently obliged not only to take Oaths against Popery, but to receive the Holy Communion agreeably to the rites of the Church of England.
This principle of duty must, therefore, prevent me from discussing any proposition tending to destroy this groundwork of our happy Constitution, and much more so that now mentioned by Mr. Pitt, which is no less than the compleat overthrow of the whole fabrick.
When the Irish Propositions were transmitted to me by a joint message from both Houses of the British Parliament, I told the Lords and Gentlemen sent on that occasion, that I would with pleasure and without delay forward them to Ireland; but that, as individuals, I could not help acquainting them, that my inclination to an Union with Ireland was principally founded on a trust, that the uniting the Established Churches of the two kingdoms would for ever shut the door to any further measures with respect to the Roman Catholics.
These two instances must show Mr. Pitt, that my opinions are not those formed on the moment, but such as I have imbibed for forty years, and from which I never can depart; but, Mr. Pitt once acquainted with my sentiments, his assuring me that he will stave off the only question whereon I fear from his letter we can
never agree,—for the advantage and comfort of continuing to have his advice and exertions in public affairs, I will certainly abstain from talking on this subject, which is the one nearest my heart. I cannot help, if others pretend to guess at my opinions, which I have never disguised: but if those who unfortunately differ with me will keep this subject at rest, I will, on my part, most correctly on my part, be silent also; but this restraint I shall put on myself from affection for Mr. Pitt, but further I cannot go, for I cannot sacrifice my duty to any consideration. Though I do not pretend to have the
power of changing Mr. Pitt's opinion, when thus unfortunately fixed, yet I shall hope his sense of duty will prevent his retiring from his present situation to the end of my life; for I can with great truth assert, that I shall, from public and private considerations, feel great regret, if I shall ever find myself obliged, at any time, from a sense of religious and political duty, to yield to his entreaties of retiring from his seat at the Board of Treasury.