Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

noble earl gave his sentiments, considering his state of health; so sound in argument, so spirited, and at the same time, so replete with conviction, that he protested, if he had before doubted, he must have come away confirmed, or had he differed, must have become a convert. This interview took place before he last spoke on the subject, but he thought it would be uno and unbecoming the respect

e owed their lordships, to trouble them with the opinions of persons without doors. He acknowledged, it gave him great pleasure to have his opinion confirmed by so high an authority; and he thought it proper, before he proceeded to consider

the several parts of the question, to make

this general declaration, that after maturely considering the question in every possible point of view, he was fully convinced that America was not lost, and that a war was inevitable. If the result of his enquiries on both those points had led him to adopt a contrary opinion, he would have ingenuously recanted, and that in as open and explicit a manner as he delivered his original sentiments, which he found himself obliged to adhere to. After passing the highest compliments on the abilities, patriotism, and vigour of mind of the noble earl, his lordship proceeded. He laid it down, as the basis of every thing he was going to offer, what fell from him in a former debate, “That the moment Great Britain acknowledged the sovereignty or independency of America, her sun was set; and that he thought in his conscience a war with France was unavoidable.” He confessed, he differed from the majority of his nearest friends in this opinion. He differed from those with whom he lived and conversed; with those who stood in the firmest bands of intimacy and friendship with him. He differed from those who lived under the same roof with him. . He had received private letters from his acquaintance; from anonymous correspondents. He had been advised, intreated, soothed, admonished. He had been warned of the perilous ground he stood on. He had been told, What, will you join with the destroyers and betrayers of your country? Will you accept of a place, or join an administration who have already proved, in such a variety of instances, their wickedness and imbecility? Will you trust where you have been already betrayed 2 Will you hazard your own honour and safety, your reputation, nay, the very existence of this country, to

your own opinion ? These, my lords, form but an imperfect picture of the solicitations, warnings, dissuasives, and motives, that have been urged to induce me to change my opinion; but they have all proved fruitless. I look not to consequences. I prefer my duty to every other consideration. I look upon this House as my home. I think of nothing which does not directly affect me, as one of this august body. I know that no homest man, who thinks as I do, can lend his countenance to administration; but I know, too, that in this House I am bound to maintain whatever is right, independent of every other consideration. I have not been concerned in business for upwards of ten years. I know the madness of embarking, in some instances, with men whom one does or does not know; but still, though no other person in this or the other House, or within the wide domain of the British empire, thought with me, I should nevertheless retain my present opinion alone, and continue to oppose the sovereignty of America. But, my lords, suppose that we were willing to allow the claim of independence; that we were ready to sacrifice the most essential interests of this country; are we likely to turn our backs upon the laws of eternal justice? Are we to make a sacrifice of national faith ? What is to become of those unhappy men, who from their loyalty, no matter whether right or wrong, have lost every thing in defending the cause of Great Britain : What will become of the infant children of the late Mr. Penn, the descendants of that great man, the proprietor and legislator of Pensylvania, to whose abilities, labour and attention, America owes the greatest part of her present power and opulence What will become of the property belonging to a noble viscount in my eye (lord Weymouth)? or of the heirs of the late lord Baltimore? What will become of those men, who have been compelled to fly from their native country; and who, if American independency should prevail, will be the first persons to suffer under American proscription; who will be banished for ever from their native country, and despoiled of their estates and possessions 2 What will become of the most useful, and one of the most respectable bodies of men in the nation, the merchants, particularly those of the city of London, who have all along conducted themselves in so candid and moderate a manner, and have now nearly two millions of property lying in America? All these several descriptions of men must be totally ruined, or materially injured. My lords, these are but a small part of the misfortunes we must feel, and the injustice we must inflict on the innocent and helpless: a small part of the disgrace we must incur, should America be declared independent, or should we tamely put up with the insults offered to us by France. Suppose we should declare America independent, are we certain that America will stop short in her pretensions 2 Though the people at large may rest contented, are we certain the Congress will? I have a high opinion of the Congress, as a deliberative body. I am ready to acknowledge, that the views of the people of America are limited to a preservation of what they deem their own proper rights. What does this prove 2 That if the good sense and moderation of the people were to prevail, and that power were not employed to improper uses, nothing but a mere separation would be to be dreaded. The history of mankind holds another language. The conduct of public affairs here at home, has recently proved it. A few men, possessing the power and offices of the state, employed that power not in acts of justice or sound policy, but in realizing dreams of senseless unattainable ambition; they told the nation that the sword should never be sheathed, till America agreed to unconditional submission. Who, then, knows but the Congress, when they have attained their object of independency, may look further; and having the art of holding out false lights to the people, may inspire them with expectations of conquest and extent of dominion. Should this be the case, the remainder of America must fall. I have heard it whispered, as being a subject of the petty negociations, carried on by our phantoms of ministers, that St. John’s and Cape Breton have been already demanded by American agents. Should this prove true, away goes the fishery and 20,000 seamen. After this will follow the West India islands, and in process of time, Ireland itself; so that we should not have a single foot of land, beyond the limits of this island. The noble duke who has taken such indefatigable pains in the course of this enquiry, and to whom the nation stands so highly indebted, differs very much from the noble earl, and from those sentiments which I again avow to be mine. For my part, I think the noble earl, though a

martyr to illness, and scarcely able to speak, delivered himself like an able and honest man, in the foregoing part of this debate. His advice was full of wisdom; and plainly contained the sentiments of a man, jealous for the honour of his country; eager to preserve the rights of the crown in their fullest extent; and anxious to maintain the ancient established character of the nation, by instantly repelling the insult offered by the court of France. The noble duke wishes, in order to avoid the hazard and expence of a foreign war, that America were declared independent. He agrees with the noble earl, that the insult is great; but he thinks, that the present state of the nation renders it not advisable to seek redress for this insult. His grace has observed, that the noble earl said, there were means, but he knew not what. I am precisely of the same way of thinking with the noble earl. I know there are means, but I do not pretend specifically to point them out. It was not the proper business of the noble earl to enter into the detail of them. His lordship would require that at other hands; he would call to one man for an army; to another for a fleet; he would look for money from the people; and he would employ the means, thus drawn from their different channels, effectually. The noble earl, when called to the head of affairs, during the late war, found the nation in a state of despondency. It did not, however, long remain so. France soon felt that we had the means, and that we knew how to use them. Religion and freedom will always inspire the inhabitants of this kingdom with an ardour, and courage, and perseverance, that will lead them to victory, when those are properly directed. It is the business of a minister, to put the proper springs in motion; to call forth the spirit of the people, to induce them to open their purses, to create a confidence in his measures; to unite the hand and purse, to warm the heart, and convince the understanding. With such means, war need not be feared, nor its event dreaded; and I will maintain, that accom. panied with such circumstances, an immediate declaration of war would be both the wisest as well as most honourable step we could take; and the most likely to preserve peace, and of obtaining America. This, my lords, may appear paradoxical; but I shall nevertheless continue to think, that war can only lead us to a safe and honourable peace, and to the recovery of

Llitillid

America. The nable duke's reply of pended; not spent in private jobs; not yesterday, to what fell from the noble wasted, in maintaining a set of servile deearl, was founded principally upon that pendents, or corrupting the representaexpression of his lordship, which I have tives of the people in parliament. Let just alluded to, “ That there were means every operation of government be as for this country to go to war with France, open as day-light; and then any loan the though he knew not what." This expres service of the state may require, will, I sion, the noble duke misinterpreted, and venture to promise, be easily obtained. I asked how the noble earl could talk of the have a great esteem for several individuals policy of going to war, when in the same in France; but though the people of this instant, he acknowledged he knew not the country are much degenerated from what means ? The expression, my lords, I think, they were, I would have the noble duke is exceedingly defensible. It was a mere consider the sort of people we shall have mode of speaking. It was not the place, to contend with, infinitely more degenenor was it necessary, that the noble earl rated than us, should a war ensue. Men should explain, in the hurry of debate, who have lost all that love of glory, minor disclose plans more proper to be con- litary prowess, and superior discipline, sidered elsewhere. Possibly, the noble which was known to prevail during the duke would not rest contented with ge- reign of Louis the 14th ; I profess, I beneral assertions; he would call for more lieve such is the spirit of our very women, substantial proofs.' He would ask, where that if the combat were left to them alone, are the men, where is the money? I an- they would be equal to the task of driving swer his grace, I see the bar full of men, the French out of this kingdom, should there are three or four hundred now in they attempt to invade us. this House. The streets of London are ! The present ministry have been the full of men. I see men every day pass in ruin as well as disgrace of this country. crowds on the Bath road, which was one They trifle, they negociate, they patch continued street almost, abounding with up; and the whole of their evasions and passengers, horses and carriages, till the tricks is but a patch-work, formed of late distresses thinned it. Look round shreds of pitiful expedients. The whole you on every side, and see what a scene of their conduct, since the shameful transof population and opulency presents it action about Falkland's island, has been self. 'Look into Hyde-Park, St. James's- entirely in this way. If other men were street. Look into the city, there is money at the helm, France dared not act in this enough there. Perhaps the noble duke manner; her ministers know it. Verwill say, though there is money enough gennes, one of the ablest men in France, there, the minister could not, notwith has said as much : I have it from the best standing all the plenty, obtain the late authority. He has ludicrously compli. loan, but on very disadvantageous terms. mented them on account of their political Let the noble duke consider, there is an sagacity. He acknowledges their ways to essential difference between having money, be past finding out. He says, no man can and lending it. The monied men, and I tell the next thing they mean to do; and think very wisely, have no confidence in he, or some other of the French cabinet, the present administration, they will not has said, whilst the present ministers stay trust their money in such hands. No in, France has too much good sense to go honest or intelligent men would; and to war. This country should have long whoever did, not only did a foolish thing, since determined for peace or war. I have but actually did their country a disservice. heard much of invasions, but I know Let the present blundering set of minis- France and Spain both to be vulnerable ters resign: let honest and capable men in many places. But four years since, a fill their places. Men capable of giving revolt might have been easily fomented in spirit and vigour to the operations of go Brittany; the inhabitants were ripe for invernment. Let the present paltry prac- currection. Much is said of the dispositices of petty private negociations be tion and compact figure of France. I begiven up. Let every thread of the secret lieve they are far from being so united, as system be cut, and all those little low some persons would persuade us. Spain, schemes of crafty lawyers, devised by in many respects, is equally vulnerable. I them to sooth their own vanitv, be aban- know a particular part of that kingdom, doned. Let the public be convinced, that which I shall not now name, where she their money is honestly and fairly ex- might be easily and successfully attacked. France, in the early stages of our dis- | earl, so often alluded to by me since I rose, pute with America, ought to have been who wisely observed, that there was no brought to declare herself openly and di- l' halting between two opinions; that there rectly. Ministers were told, day after day, was no middle path which could be trod that France would interfere; France did with honour or safety. And surely your interfere; ministers were told of the fact, lordships cannot but agree with me, that till the noble lords on this side of the none but the most pusillanimous adminiHouse were tired. Every species of apo stration that ever held the reins of governlogy was resorted to; and at length, when ment would think of temporizing with the hard pressed, the minister of the day rose, court of France, and by little underhand and gravely assured your lordships, that communications, and private epistolary he had received the most satisfactory and negociations, endeavour, in order to keep friendly assurances from the court of their places, to explain away the honour of France. Ministers were blind, or pre- the kingdom, and sacrifice at the same tended to be blind; they acted like traitors time its most essential interests, when the or ideots. Instead of immediately com-conduct of the King's ministers ought to pelling France to desist, they presented be direct, spirited, and decisive; and be remonstrances of the most mild and hu- distinguished by acts, not by words; by miliating. tenor, and bullied the United measures of force, not by the language of Provinces, their only friends. In the true concession. spirit of their whole conduct, they crouched. As to the measures recommended by to their enemies, their natural and power- the motion, so far as they stand unconful enemies; and basely bullied and in- ! nected with the two great points to which sulted their less powerful friends.

I have been speaking, I verily believe the The very worst state a nation can pos- facts enumerated in it are strictly true, sibly fall into is that of despondency, as and fully established, according to the where it gets root to any great degree, it usual mode of parliamentary proof, and seldom fails to terminate in ruin. The that the censure of the ministry conveyed history of Europe exhibits numberless in- in the conclusion is most amply merited. stances of its fatal effects, and Great Bri- I agree, therefore, heartily, my lords, in tain ought now to avoid it as its bane, for, | both points; and only wish to have it conI profess I do not perceive any real cause to sidered, that I do not accede to the latter despond. It is true, danger is at hand; with a view to obtain the place of any one but there is nothing new in that. If we lord in administration. It is dangerous to have never been exactly so circumstanced, succeed some men in office. The Dutch we have frequently been in similar situa- pulled down the house of the great De tions, and have always surmounted them, | Ruyter, who had so ably served them in often with glory, but always with success his profession, as a seaman, before they on our part, and with more or less degree attacked any other; and that great statesof disgrace on that of our enemies. We man De Witt, who had acted as their sahad the means to repel invasions, and de- viour, was torn limb from limb by an ig. fend ourselves in every part of our vast norant and enraged mob), as a reward for extended dominions. Common sense, I his services ; on which occasion he gave founded in uniform experience, directs us the most exalted proof of his innocent and to adopt vigorous and decisive measures ; | firm mind, by not seeming to feel the tormeasures that may convince our enemies, tures inflicted on him by his savage that the ancient spirit of the nation is murderers, but continued to repeat the roused; that England is not only deter. celebrated ode of Horace, beginning with mined to bid defiance to all those who the words, “ Justum ac tenacem propositi dare insult her, but to follow it, to shew virum,” &c. while he was going to exethat she still continues the same, with an cution. instant proof of her ability, and a deter- We now feel the effects of the worst mined resolution to procure atonement for species of bad government ; money is the injurious insult she has received. Not scarce for want of a confidence in ministers. to go to war, and to acknowledge the in- Great quantities of coin and bullion have

dependency of America, my lords, would been sent to America; the people that · be to ratify the treaty between France and have money, either hoard it, or are afraid

America, and to render what was in itself to part with it, The money is in the na. an unnatural compact, a natural one. I tion, but a spirit of distrust prevails. heartily unite in opinion with the noble People are, to be sure, much divided in

their opinions as to the measures proper Ferdinand of Brunswick, with 40,000 men, to be pursued: but there is only one opi- beat the French with 100,000; and, by nion entertained of the present ministers; his amazing military talents, kept the they are held in almost universal con- whole land force of France engaged, while tempt, if not detestation. The city of we were making conquests of their coloLondon, which, to its honour, has con- nies and dependencies in every quarter dueted itself so judiciously throughout this of the globe. Prince Ferdinand was but business, contains persons of both descrip- one man, but then he was one of those tions. I do not deal in little, private men, who are very extraordinary persons, letters, or secret intelligence. I despise and who would, if occcasion' made it neevery kind of importance drawn from such cessary, be of most essential service to resources; but two particulars lately came this country. And if a war should be the to my knowledge (not, I do assure your consequence of the present misunderlordships, of my own seeking) which will standing, which I think it must, I know no shew the different dispositions I have been man more fit to call to the head of our describing. One was, an intended opera- army than that illustrious prince. I am tion on our stocks, which would shake persuaded it is not the characteristic of an public credit to its lowest foundations, and English general officer to be jealous. I reduce the value of stocks at least 6 per know there are many able general officers cent. The other was, for a spirited at- in my eye, but I know, too, they are too tack upon a part of the territories of the generous, too noble minded, too much atcrown of France, which if made must prove tached to their country, to let their own successful.

personal pretensions stand between such When the noble duke, my lords, asks an appointment, and the national interest for the means, I answer him, that great and preservation. A noble lord, for whose things may be done, by opulent and spi- military character I have a very high opirited individuals. There was a time in nion, and who has been lately, I undera which, if possible, this nation stood in a stand, called to the head of his profession, more perilous situation than even it stands / (lord Amherst) will, I trust, excuse me, in at present, and yet it was saved by the I do not recommend the present appointpublic spirit of the city of London, and ment to take off from his merit: I know it ; the happy exertions of a few patriotic in- it is universally acknowledged by his coundividuals. The period I mean was, when try; but his own modesty would urge him Spain threatened to invade us in the latter to agree with me in the propriety of the end of the reign of queen Elizabeth. hint I have now thrown out. Spain was to have borrowed a large sum My lords, I say, one man can achieve of money, in 1585, to victual her feet, from great things, if he possesses the confi. the bank of Genoa. Sir Thomas Gresham dence of the people, and by that hold heard of this, and managed matters so can call forth that spirit which has always dexterously, as to borrow this very money, I proved victorious when properly and judiI think 40,0001, by which means the Spa- ciously directed. What was the state of niards were obliged to defer their project Holland in the celebrated year 1672, when for that year; so that when the Armada obliged to fight against Frai:ce and Engput to sea, this country was in a state of land united ? The United Provinces were preparation, and the event is too well then precisely in the state of despondency known to repeat. Thus, by the zeal and that Britain is now : add to this, that her good sense of a few opulent merchants, troops and fleets were undisciplined and among whom sir Thomas Gresham took , spiritless. The two brothers, Andrew and the lead, this country was preserved from Cornelius De Witt, endeavoured all they the yoke of the Spanish tyranny, or from could to rouze them to a sense of their being reduced to a Spanish province. situation. One of them turned admirat

The noble duke asks, what can one himself, and fought the enemy, but noman do, be his talents ever so great ? I thing would do; the people were degewill remind his grace what one man did nerate; all military discipline, regula. do, in the very affair to which I have tion, and subordination, were at an end. been alluding the commander of our fleet Burghers and burghers' sons were placed fought the Spanish armada, contrary to in the highest and most important comhis positive instructions, and defeated it. mands : nay, so far had this evil spread, I will tell his lordship what one man did that military and naval officers employed upon a more recent occasion : Prince substitutes! In fine, the people were so (VOL. XIX. ]

(3 X]

« ElőzőTovább »