Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

mities in depending upon the assurances of lord's construction of the law was perfect France. Spain was armed; and ministers,' right, that the writ in point of law wou I doubt not, will tell me, What of that? | supersede the intent of the clause on We continue to receive the fullest assu dinary occasions; but although no m: rances from Spain of a determined ami- was readier to support the constitution. cable neutrality. If Spain was really sin general, or the parliamentary constitutic cere, why arm? Why are her ports and in particular, he would, in a case of eme arsenals full of ships of war, ready to pro- gency, such as the preservation of th ceed to sea, or preparing with all possible state, dispense with forms however sacred expedition for it? What is the reason because such emergencies supposed a case that 23 ships of the line now ride in Cadiz of necessity, in which the very essence, a: Bay? Is all this preparation and great well as forms of the constitution, were at expence undertaken for nothing? Such stake. As to the existence of a rebellion a general preparation is a tacit declara- in America, the condition on which the tion of her sentiments. Independent of clause was to take effect, he presumed few any public or private engagement she of their lordships doubted of it; and if may have entered into with France, it im- | during a prorogation any sudden emerports just this : as soon as hostilities are gency should arise, he presumed that neicommenced between you and France, we ther the right nor expediency of calling mean to take part with the latter; it is the the parliament together at 14 days notice, language of common sense, of experience: would be imputed to any of those who if not, why arm now, more than at any should advise such a measure, as criminal other period since the conclusion of the or illegal. On the other hand, should an late peace Ministers, knowing this, should adjournment take place, probably there have peremptorily insisted upon some- would be a very indifferent attendance. thing else, besides bare assurances; they | Many other inconveniences would follow should have insisted upon a test from from an adjournment: bills brought in and Spain of the truth of those assurances ; by either withdrawn, negatived, or altered, putting a stop to all their armaments; and could not be received; the adjournient if Spain retused, ministers should have being a continuance of the same session. compelled them to justice, by intercepting In fine, the power in the clause alluded to, the flota. The possession of that treasure would answer all the purposes of an adwould have been a proper punishment for journment, and would be liable to none of their perfidy; would have been a pledge its objections. for their future conduct; and if they then | The Earl of Shelburne said, if no other refused to give the only solid proof of their reason existed for agreeing with the mo. specific intentions, it would enable us to tion, it would at least convince foreigners carry on a necessary war against the joint that parliament and the nation at large had efforts of our natural and perfidious ene | been rouzed to a proper sense of their danmies. It may be objected that such a ger. It would shew that the people were conduct on our part, might be deemed a united ; that they were determined to probreach of the law of nations, that of ato | tect the crown with their lives and for. tacking a nation unprovoked, in a time of tunes; and that they were resolved no profound peace. That difficulty might be longer to depend upon ministers, whose easily got over; a declaration of war might ignorance and incapacity was what encouaccompany the blow, and the refusal to raged our enemies, and furnished them disarm, at so critical a conjuncture, might with the means hitherto of rendering be pleaded as a motive equally founded in themselves formidable to this country. justice, sound policy, and necessity, for His lordship next pointed to the state of compelling a secret enemy to declare, our home and distant defence. At prewhat her inability and present convenience sent there were but 12 battalions of infanonly prompted her to conceal.

try in Great Britain, which, with the caThe Lord Chancellor replied to the dis.valry, did not amount to above 9,000 men, tinction made by the learned lord who independent of the guards, which was a spoke last, between the 40 days notice in force small enough to defend the person of the writs of summons according to the the King. This he did not think by any common law, and the probable operation means adequate to the defence of the in the clause in the statute, which em. kingdom, for though much might in time powers the crown to assemble the parlia- be expected from the militia, in the event ment in 14 days. He believed the learned of a sudden invasion, they could not be

fenc in th

ther effect that and t

expected to make head against a numerous | nor, and a draft from the artillery, had veteran army. In such a case, which was been at Portsmouth for several weeks, yet far from being improbable, what was to be they had not sailed; and what rendered done ? Certainly, if our navy was inferior this shameful neglect the more inexcusas to that of our enemies, a landing of a nu- / ble was, that he perceived by the papers merous foreign army must be the conse- on the table, relative to the equipment of quence; in which case the metropolis must the Toulon squadron, that ministers had a be abandoned; for such a military force regular, correct, and continued account of as that described, with the aid of a raw the armament going on at that port from undisciplined militia, would never be able the 3d of January, till the 5th of May, to defend the metropolis, and protect notwithstanding which no one step, till the whole kingdom. The metropolis very lately, had been taken to strengthen must fall! a most melancholy hearing that important fortress, nor had the reinScotland must be left to defend itself; he forcement, as yet, left St. Helen's. He believed there was little danger of an ene then described the defenceless and naked my facing that way; then, if in the inte- state of our West India islands, and the rim insurrections should arise, and Ireland, criminal neglect in not either augmenting already ripe for revolt, should rebel, how the force under general Howe, so as to was it possible that this devoted nation | enable him to maintain his ground, if that could stand against such a combination of was what was intended, or recalling, and dreadful circumstances ? Here his lord. | sending him to those parts of America which ship took an opportunity to condemn ad- we still possess, either there to act on the ministration for their impolitic and absurd offensive or defensive, as opportunity might conduct, in relation to Ireland and the serve. If, on the other hand, America people of Lancashire, Bristol, &c. in which should be inclined to come to terms, and they conveyed to the world an exact pic. that to give credit and strength to our neture of themselves, that of displeasing both gociations, the troops under general Howe parties, without benefiting either. He might be sent to Halifax to defend Nova warned ministers, early, not to make a Scotia, and strengthen the small force fruitless attempt to loosen the shackles of under general Carleton. But if none of the Irish only to gall them the more, and these plans were thought proper, why not remind them of their sufferings. What-send reinforcements from hence to defend ever was done, should have been maturely Canada and Nova Scotia ? for while we considered upon a large and liberal scale, -retained those, he should never think and for the advantage of the whole. On America was entirely lost; he knew a the contrary, administration had disobliged commercial union between Great Britain their best friends, the inhabitants of the and her colonies would be for the advanloyal towns of Manchester and Liverpool; tage of both; and he had no doubt, if the and for what purpose ? To throw Ireland proper steps had been timely taken, early into rebellion. He had po political cor- | in the present year, but such an unioni respondence with any person in that king- might have been effected. dom, though he had on his private affairs ; ! His lordship answered the Lord Chan. and by the latest accounts received from cellor, on his resting the propriety of the thence, he was informed that the people prorogation in preterence to an adjournhad entered into an association to pur- ment, on the point of a presumed neceschase no more British goods, at least none sity; why not put the matter of necessity manufactured in Manchester, or its neigh- quite out of the question by an adjourn. bourhood; and it was expected that the ment, and not lay a ground for a necessity, mob would daily break into the shops and to evade the ancient law, and break in on warehouses, and cut, burn, and destroy all the constitution of parliament, on account the commodities of the growth or manu. of a necessity wantonly created ? His lord.' facture of this kingdom.

I ship talked some time on the new honours His lordship next proceeded to take a and distinctions about to be heaped on the view of our dependencies. The naval de undoers of their country, and observed, it fence of those, he observed, was given up; was in strict conformity to the policy of in that respect, they were left to shift for that ruinous court-system, which lavished themselves. How was Gibraltar ? Why, the rewards due only to virtue and public effective and non-effective, the garrison of merit, on the most worthless and servile, that fortress did not amount to 4,000 men; in order to encourage others to tread in and though two regiments with the gover the same ignoble steps, to rise by the same [VOL. XIX.).

[ 4 M)

15

unprincipledarts of servility and corruption, lest, as his lordship ludicrously remarked, the breed of the true court-spaniel should become extinct. He next spoke of the American Tories, who he said might be classed under three descriptions, those who acted from principle, those who being misled, or having views of their own, associated as the friends of government, and those of profligate lives and desperate fortunes, who deceived, inflamed, and misled government for motives the most base and diabolical. He should leave the two latter to their fortunes and deserts, and only consider such of the people of America as took a part in defence and maintenance of the rights of this count upon principle. Those men were, of all the people on earth, most to be commiserated. They lay at the mercy of their enemies and persecutors; their estates were confiscated; their persons banished or imprisoned, or their families left to famish ; yet those unhappy men were abandoned to their fate; and if at a future time, any occasion should occur, either in America or elsewhere, for the assistance of the loyal part of our subjects, the fate of the loyal, brave, and honest Americans, who were sacrificed by British perfidy, would sufficiently deter any man from trusting to British promises of security and #.". His lordship spoke of the idden over-ruling influence which surrounded the throne; and whence all those baleful measures proceeded. Thence was their encouragement, instructions, and rewards; and to that source the people in the day of difficulty would look for satisfaction and redress, and demand justice on those who had been the cause of their ruin. The Earl of Bristol. My lords, late as it is, I should think myself unpardonable to go away without expressing my approbation of the motion: but, my lords, I must also express my surprise, that after the noble duke had so manifestly shewn, that the alarming state we were reduced to, was in great measure owing to the situation and management of our fleet, that the noble lord who superintends the remains of our once flourishing navy, has not deigned to say one single word. Surely, my lords, it must be alarming, when we have so lately heard in this House, that the fleet of England, which, till this unhappy period, had given law to all Europe, is now so reduced, that, however necessary it might be, it would not be prudent to detach from it; an avowal

as shameful to him who made it, as it is prejudicial to the nation, and injurious to the houour of the crown. And although the collective force of this remaining fleet has been for several months repeatedly said to be in readiness for service, yet it has been so inactive, and kept in such a situation, that I must lament the brave admiral who is at the head of a squadron of that fleet, not having the command of the whole ships in England, by which means his hands are tied from the proper distribution he would otherwise "make of them, and which might be a greater security for our coasts. My lords, it is but last week that those ships under admiral Keppel were ready to drop down even to St. Helen's, and I believe the Victory has not been ready, in spite of all the diligence that could be used, to go down till Saturday last. My lords, the sailing of the Toulon fleet ever since the 13th of April, the ignorance of their destination, and the consequences that may ensue from that armament, and our total want of intelligence which way they are gone, is very .# My lords, I have a letter in my pocket, which I shewed a noble lord in high office, which proves that fleet to have been the 7th of May between Gibraltar and Malaga, being met by a Swede ship gone into Alicant the 9th. I have therefore reason to believe, that the accounts I have seen in another letter, that the Toulon fleet must have passed the streights the 9th are true. My lords, what is then become of our islands? What is become of that fleet of four or five line of battle ships, and all our frigates under that brave officer lord Howe, with 14 or 15,000 seamen, the flower of our fleet, so much wanted now And if they fall, what is to become of our army in America? Is not this alarming, my lords? And is this situation not such as to require our wishes that the great hereditary council of this nation, the guardian of the people, should be kept together, and ready to prove by this step, to the whole kingdom and to all Europe, that we mean, we wish, and hold ourselves ready at a moment’s notice, to support his Majesty with our advice, as well as our lives and fortunes. My lords, I must say it is no less alarming, after all the expence the public has been at for our navy, that in so long a time we have not been able to collect ships enough to answer every purpose, which it is impossible the present number now in the channel can do: and, my lords, where is the remedy for all these evils which the administration has brought upon us? Surely those men who have brought us into this situation, are not the persons proper to advise his Majesty in this alarming situation ? The Earl of Sandwich denied he had ever said we were not able to detach ships; he only said, in a former debate, that rhaps it might not be prudent to do it. W.; regard to admiral Keppel’s fleet not being ready to sail for St. Helen's till last week, they were now sailed from St. Helen’s. The noble admiral who commanded them had not his hands tied, as that noble earl would one day see, whenever his orders were made known. He was surprised the noble earl's intelligence was so bad, as to say that we had ever 139 ships of the line, which the noble earl mentioned the other day. We never had that number; and we now had ships enough; it was men we wanted. The noble earl also had said one day, that an embargo was necessary; why was not an embargo laid 2 And now an embargo is laid the noble lord condemns it as improper. The noble earl I allow to be a great officer, a great seaman, and a man of great abilities; but, my lords, I will not give up my official knowledge to him or any sea officers whatever; and to shew that I am as good a seaman as either of those noble lords, who asked the other day, why could not eleven ships work down the Channel as well as one, which was admiral Barrington? I will tell them why; because there must always be in a number a heavier sailing ship than another, and the rest must keep company with the worst, which happened to sir John Norris, when attempting to work down the channel, his ships fellaboard of each other, and forced him to put back, and he never could get beyond Torbay. The Earl of Bristol rose again, and told their lordships that he was used to that noble lord's Machiavilian policy, of endeavouring to turn all his arguments into ridicule when he could not answer them; but he only desired their lordships' indulnce, to prove to them how the noble ord had endeavoured to misrepresent what he had said. And first, my lords, as to his denial of having said the other day, he could not detach, ; appeal to the House, whether the noble lord did not say, it would not be prudent to detach; and that as I find the noble lord has not detached, nor has detained admiral Byron to join admiral Keppel, whether I am not autho

rised to suppose, he is not able to detach, because he has not, when it is very well known, the Toulon squadron are at sea, and that, if left to themselves unwatched, unpursued, we have everything to fear for our colonies, and for our poor frigates, and our great army in America, as well as our trade. Next, with regard to the bad information the noble lord is pleased to say I have, his lordship does me honour, because the noble lord made use of the very same polite terms and words to that great statesman, now no more (earl of Chatham) on a similar attack from him in this very House; so that, my lords, it is a phrase with his lordship as a thing of course when he cannot confute what is advanced. Next, my lords, I think his lordship said, that I had said, admiral Keppel's hands were tied, and that he could not act, and how did I know that he could not? I deny the words: what I had said was, that I was sorry admiral Keppel's hands were tied from not commanding the whole fleet in England; for, that so well I knew the skill and bravery of that excellent officer and the officers under him, that had he the command of the whole fleet, there would have been a very different description made of them, and we should have had much less to have dreaded from an enemy; for well I knew, if he had the good fortune to meet the French fleet, he would certainly beat them; and that I must remind their lordships of what I said the other day, that I wished him most sincerely not only the command of all our fleets on float, but also on shore. I know no man so fit for it, so beloved by all the officers, so much wished for by the public, and no one who would do more honour to his King and country. The noble lord also says, I misrepresented when I said there were ever 139 sail of the line. My lords, I am astonished at his lordship's denying this fact. Let him look at the little clasped book I produced the other day here, which is from the navy-board, dated May 1771. He will there see from thence 139 ships of the line, 382 ships and frigates, bombs, &c. the grand total. And I repeat again, that when I came into the board of Admiralty in 1771, there were 81 ships of the line fit for service, 24 under repair, 7 foreign ones bought, besides others in want of great repair. My lords, what then is become of all those ships, when the noble earl in office told us there were only 49 in England fit for service Shameful it is to see the reduction of the great fleet of England after the sums given to it! Nor care I whether it is the noble lord or not; but so it is, there has been mismanagement, misconduct, negligence and ignorance in this great and essential department; and were we to sit longer here, I pledge myself, some how or other, to sift it out.

The House divided : Contents 20, Notcontents 42,

Debate on Sir James Lowther's Motion for an Address to the King to defer the Prorogation of Parliament.] June 2. Sir James Lowther adverted to the critical situation of public affairs, when the wisdom of parliament would be highly necessary; and when consequently it would, to the last degree, be improper to put an end to the session: wisdom was to be expected from a multitude of counsellors; it would be therefore most advantageous to the kingdom that the parliament might be permitted to continue sitting. For these reasons he moved, “That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, to represent to his Majesty the very alarming state of these kingdoms, which will be much increased by a prorogation of parliament, whereby his Majesty would be deprived of that natural and constitutional advice and assistance which may be so necessary at this critical conjuncture, when the whole legislative authority, and the united wisdom of the kingdom, is absolutely essential to secure us from impending daner; and most humbly to implore his Majesty, that he would be graciously pleased to defer the prorogation of parliament until the present dangerous crisis may be happily terminated.” Sir P. J. Clerke seconded the motion, on the general ground of necessity. He said, the nation was in imminent danger, for that he had been informed, since he came into the House, that the Brest fleet had been seen within a few leagues of Plymouth. He said he was more o, for the motion from the old adage, that “in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” Earl Nugent said, he fancied, that if even the motion was carried, the last speaker would be disappointed in his hopes, as he believed very few counsellors would remain in town. He moved the other orders of the day. Mr. T. Luttrell said, that many were the reasons that could be adduced to shew the necessity of keeping the parliament together; it were needless to repeat them;

but the embargo and the deplorable state of the navy, were surely reasons sufficiently cogent to prevent a prorogation. The complement of men on board our fleets was 10,000 short of the establishment: such a deficiency was truly alarming, and required the utmost attention of parliament. The Hon. Richard Fitzpatrick declared that he would have remained silent, if the noble lord in his eye had thought proper to lay before the House the intelligence he had received from America: but as his lordship had declined that, he thought it his duty to give the House such information, as, from his situation, he was enabled to collect. About ten days before he sailed from Philadelphia, a copy of the Conciliatory Bills had been brought to that city: their reception was such as they deserved. The army received them with the most inexpressible indignation ; some of the officers had in his presence town their cockades from their hats and flung them into the streets. They had been deluded so far as to imbibe the ministerial spirit for war; and when they looked for reinforcements, and expected 20,000 men to enable them to open the campaign with some signal and decisive blow, a set of Bills were sent out to them, which loaded them with disgrace. These Bills were not transmitted to the Congress nor to general Washington; they were dispersed through the country by individuals, and through them found their way at length into the American army. Their reception there was still worse than in the British army: they were kicked about, torn, nay, burned by the hands of the common hangman. They were looked upon as calculated to spread discord through the country, and that idea tended more to rivet them more closely than to disunite them. Some officers in general Washington’s confidence, with whom he had had an opportunity to converse, told him, that it was the opinion among their people that these drafts of Bills were nothing more than a pretence to amuse the Americans, and dispose them to desert the Congress; and that the parliament knew nothing of them, when he had assured them that it was really the intention of parliament to pass these Bills into laws, and to send out new commissioners; they said, that if such proposals had been made to them by lord Chatham they would have probably received them; but that they never could listen to terms proposed by the men who had brought on

« ElőzőTovább »