Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

hilate both, as advocates for popery, slavery, and arbitrary power; not like our breth

ren in America, Whigs in principle, and to affirm, that 35 ships of the line, or even heroes in conduct: I remember, I say, my 42 (the highest that his lordship ventured lords, that I employed these very rebels in to go) would, in case of a rupture with the the service and defence of their country. House of Bourbon, be sufficient for all the They were reclaimed by this means; they purposes of offence, defence, and protecfought our battles, they cheerfully bled in tion ? I am sure his lordship will not. A

defence of those liberties which they attempted to overthrow but a few years before. imagine would be the effect of a similar conduct towards the Whigs and freemen

What, then, does your lordships in the Mediterranean; besides convoys

of America, whom you call rebels. Would | 85 ships of the line would be necessary

it not, think you, operate in like manner * They would fight your battles; they would cheerfully bleed for you; they would render you superior to all your foreign enemies; they would o arms triumphant to every quarter of the globe. ou have, I fear, lost the affection, the good will of this people, by employing mercenary Germans to butcher them; by spiriting up the savages of America to scalp them with the tomahawk. My lords, I would have you consider, should this war be pushed to extremities, the possible consequences. It is no farther from America to England than from England to America. If conquest is to be the issue, we must trust to that issue, and fairly abide by it. The noble earl at the head of the Admiralty, the last night I had the honour to address your lordships, contradicted me when I asserted we had not above 20 ships of the line fit to proceed to sea, (on actual service) at a short warning. I again repeat the assertion, though I gave it up at that time, on account of the plausibility and confidence with which the fact was asserted. I now say, there are not above 20 ships of the line on which any naval officer of eminence and skill in his profession would stake his credit. The noble earl in office said, there were 35 ships of the line fit for sea; but acknowledged, that there was a deficiency of near 3,000 of the complements necessary to proceed upon actual service. How did the noble earl propose to fill up that deficiency —By supernumeraries, by transfers, by recruits, &c. Will the noble earl say, that 21,000 is a full war complement for 35 ships of the line 2 or will he undertake to assure this House (even allowing for those odds and ends) that the ships will be properly manned by the numbers now actually on board? But if every particular fact, stated by the noble earl, be

precisely as he would persuade your lordships to believe; will his lordship pretend

fleet in the Channel; one in the Western Sea; another in the West Indies; and one

and cruizers, to protect our commerce and annoy our enemies. I say, my lords, that

for the protection of our trade and fortresses in the Mediterranean alone. We must be equal to the combined force of France and Spain in that sea, or we need not send a single ship there. Ships must be stationed to command respect from the powers on the coast of Barbary, and to prevent their piracies on our merchant vessels. We must have a superior fleet in the Western Sea likewise, and we must have one in the Channel equal to the defence of Our Own Coast. These were the ideas which prevailed, when I had the honour of assisting in the British councils, and at all other preceding so of naval hostility since the Revoution. My lords, if lord Anson was capable of the high office the noble earl now presides in, the noble earl is certainly mistaken in saying, that 35 or 55 ships of the line are equal to the several services now enumerated. That great naval commander gave in a list, at one time, of 84,000 seamen actually on the books. It is well worthy your lordships' inquiry, to know what are the present number. The motion made by the noble duke leads to that inquiry, and meets my warmest approbation; but that we may have every necessary information, I recommend to my noble friend to amend his motion by extending it to Gibraltar and Mahon. I do not wish to have any thing disclosed at present, which may tend to expose the weak state of those fortresses; but I think it incumbent on your lordships to learn their strength, in point of numbers of men; and to know how the fact stands, relative to the possibility of the command of Gibraltar devolving on a foreigner, in case of any accident happening to the of ficer who now commands there. The Earl of Sandwich said, he asserted on the occasion alluded to, nothing but the truth ; that he never meant to mislead; that he was an honest man; and

when he asserted what he knew was right, I have so powerful a fleet in the Mediterra. he would be brow-beaten by no man. He nean. It was not the case during his lord. acknowledged the superior abilities of the ship's own administration, nor during any noble earl; but when facts were in other preceding, the one mentioned ex. question, which he knew to be true, he cepted. If the noble earl is urged to would give way to no authority, however speak from secret intelligence, to recomhigh or respectable. . As to the deficiency mend a more full and complete naval arof the complements of the 35 line of battle mament, let his lordship speak out; it is ships, when he said they could be filled up his duty to do so, that we inay be prepared. by supernumeraries, he was justified in say. If the House of Bourbon has any such ining so; and by the manner the noble lord tention, I shall take care to have our fleet understood the word, 'supernumeraries,' it equal to any attempt they may think prowas plain he was ignorant of the term; they per to make. I repeat, that we have 54 were not the outcast or refuse of the navy; ships of the line ready for sea, and that nor made by transfers from one ship to with the ships of the line in ordinary, we another ; they might be as able scamen as could, before the end of the year, be able any in the navy : the truth was, that the to send 90 line of battle ships to sea. complements of several ships exceeded Viscount Townshend observed, that their rates; so that every man borne in Gibraltar had, at no preceding time, been each ship, more than what was always al- | in so complete a state of defence, and lowed to man a ship of that rate, is a su. when the works were all finished, it would pernumerary. They were composed of be rendered in a great measure impregnaable and ordinary seamen ; they might ble. It was long known, and complained have been pressed, or have entered volun- of, that we held Gibraltar only by the sutarily into the service. His lordship said, I periority of our navy; the defences next it was extremely unparliamentary, to ar- the sea being very weak; consequently gue upon expressions which had fallen in that it was liable to be surprized at any a former debate. He did not however time on the commencement of a war with wish to avail himself of that long-establish France and Spain. That had, however, ed usage. He said then, and he now 're- been lately provided against ; new works peated, that we had a navy fully adequate of great strength had been raised; and to meet the whole force of tlie House of they had been so constructed, as to give Bourbon, in the first instance; and should cover to a regiment in the event of a siege; they entertain any hostile intentions, the and so situated as to be nearly central, remainder of our force was in such a state and to enable the reliefs to proceed to of preparation as would render it much their several posts with little or no danger superior to any France and Spain could from the enemy's fire. On the subject of send against us. France and Spain had employing savages, he said it was imposarmed some time since, so did we. Those sible to make war in America, without armaments have been increased, so have them. They served as scouts and spies to ours. We are in a state of preparation ; | bring intelligence. In such a country as whenever further appearances justify us, America, covered with woods, and interwe must keep pace with our neighbours. sected by rivers, lakes and morasses, they The noble carl had laid great stress, that could not be well done without; where, the Mediterranean alone would call for a indeed, it might be possible for two armies naval force, equal to the whole of the though a short space asunder to know no ships ready for service. He could hardly more of each other, than if they were on think that; the greatest fieet ever sent opposite sides of the globe. The queen upon that service, was under Matthews of Hungary, and several other European and Lestock, during the war preceding powers, employed Croats, Pandours, Gras. the last. The noble earl would, he hoped, sines, and various denominations of irre. recollect, that that ficet had many other gular troops, during the late and former objects besides the protection of the Me- wars; yet he never heard their conduct diterranean commerce, or of Gibraltar and arraigned in such a manner, nor were they Mahon. It was sent there to facilitate the charged as the authors of murder, rapine, operations of our allies in Italy; to pro- &c. The Indians were employed by the tect the king of Sardinia's and the em-noble lord then near him (lord Amherst) press queen's dominions. But from that so they were by himself; not for the pursingle instance, he presumed, the noble poses presumed by the poble earl, but earl would not infer that we should always solely for those he had mentioned.

The Marquis of Rockingham said, he rose to take notice of the criminal ignorance of the first lord of the Admiralty, relative to the force and destination of the American privateers, which could assemble and proceed to the coasts of Great Britain, alarm both kingdoms, and distress our trade, and that unknown to the noble earl till he learned it from the traders between Great Britain and Ireland, and the inhabitants of the sea coasts. His lordship observed, that no answer had been given to the strength of the garrisons of Mahon and Gibraltar; but that a noble viscount had asserted, that strong additional works had been raised. Now taking the fact in the noble viscount’s own way, it was a further motive for strengthening the garrison; additional works called for more men to defend them; consequently, if 6,000 troops were requisite for the defence of Gibraltar in case of an attack, the new works requiring a whole battalion, it followed, that no less than 7,000 would be now sufficient. He insisted, this circumstance alone was the fullest corroboration of what had been asserted by the noble earl, who recommended a motion for the state of that fortress. He concluded by observing, that the concession made by the noble earl in office, not only proved, that administration were negligent, but that, in consequence of their ignorance and incapacity, our commerce had materially suffered; and we had, as the only safe means of carrying it on, been obliged either to ship our property in foreign bottoms, or pay most exorbitant premiums to insure it. Lord Townshend allowed, that additional works called for a proportionable increase of men to man them; but denied, that was the case in those lately erected at Gibraltar. The fortifications were not extended, but rendered more tenable, and complete. The Duke of Richmond. The noble earl at the head of the Admiralty has said, that supernumerary men, which are ready to be turned over to the line of battle ships, are to all intents and purposes of as much use as if they actually were on board them. My lords, I am not a judge of sea affairs, but from the analogy of our professions, I think this cannot be. Men collected from various quarters, unacquainted with the officers, and unused to the particular mode of discipline in a strange ship, can never be so useful as those that have been trained together [VOL. XIX.]

some time. I have heard that various commanders have various fashions. On board some ships, it is to the boatswain's whistle, in others to the music of a fife, that the men work. But I believe every sea officer will tell the noble lord, that he wishes to have his men on board as long as possible, before they go to sea, and that new men cannot be so useful as old ones. I entirely agree with the noble lord as to the importance of Gibraltar and Minorca. They are essential to our Mediterranean trade, to our weight with the Italian states, and to keep the states of Barbary in order. We once lost Minorca, and a successful war restored it. But if ever we lose Gibraltar, which is, as it has been justly called, a British fortress in the heart of Spain, we shall never get it back again. Our possession of it is particularly galling to the pride of Spain, and no consideration will ever tempt her to restore it. I intended to have moved for the state of the troops in those garrisons, but it escaped my memory. I, therefore beg leave to move, for “Copies of the last monthly returns of his Majesty’s forces, as well foreign as British, in Gibraltar and Minorca.” The Earl of Sandwich begged to set the noble duke right; no ships were filled . with supernumeraries only, because supernumeraries, collectively considered, certainly could not be deemed as serviceable as that part of the complement of any ship which had been some time on board, however many individuals among the supernumeraries might be perfect masters of their profession, and able seamen in every sense of the word. The custom of manning the navy was not to give a ship her full complement at once, but just before she sailed to perfect her complement by a small portion of supernumeraries, by which means, from the various employments on board, all the hands were immediately useful, and in a very short time the supernumeraries were to the full as serviceable in every point as the rest of the crew. The Duke of Bolton observed, that as the object of the motions was to ascertain the present state of the navy, he could not but endeavour to supply that deficiency which he foresaw they would leave in the information aimed at. With this intention it was, that he should move for “a state of the number and condition of the ships in ordinary.” The noble earl at the head of the Admiralty said, that in the course of a year,

[ocr errors]

with the assistance of the ships in ordinary, we should, in case of a rupture with the House of Bourbon, be able to equip 90 line of battle ships for sea. He could not say, after all he had heard for some years past, in that House, of the formidable state of the navy, though strictly true, that it answered his expectations. The navy, since the noble earl came to preside over it, had cost the nation sums unparalleled within a like period of a peace-establishment; yet after a twelve-month’s press, the whole we had for the protection of our trade, for home defence, and every kind of miscellaneous service in every part of the globe, by the noble lord's own account, amounted to no more than 35 ships of the line for the home defence, and 54 in Asia, Africa, America, and the rest of Europe included. The noble earl told your lordships, almost three years since, that he could send to sea at three days warning, 20 ships of the line completely manned, and fit for actual service; now, says his lordship, we have 35; so that all a twelve-month’s press has done for us, is to enable us to send to sea, should occasion require, fifteen more ships. I can affirm from my own knowledge, that with a very low peace establishment, I think only 8,000 seamen, a six months press, on the breaking out of the late war, enabled us to send 80 ships of the line to sea. Our number upon paper, I do maintain, ought to * 150, not 90 as stated by the noble earl. The Earl of Sandwich strongly objected to this motion as highly improper; the earl said it would materially affect the interests of Great Britain, by holding out to its natural enemies a species of information which they could not . anv other means obtain, and which it was the duty of the King’s servants, at all events, to keep from them. It was of no importance, how notorious our positive and immediate naval strength was, but it was a matter of most serious concern to conceal from all mankind how much we had it in our power to increase that strength, and how long it would take us to give it such an addition as would render it more formidable than that of any other country could possibly be rendered. Foreigners went into our yards, and saw a great number of ships in dock, and apparently nearly ready for sea. It was right that they should entertain an opinion, that they were all nearly ready, although it often happened when he, perhaps, stood alone in a knowledge that,

from various private reasons, several of those apparently ready ships could not be sent to sea for some time. It was politic always to conceal our naval resources, and it was a policy so obvious, that it was by no means peculiar to Great Britain. France did, and had long done, the same ; nay, she had gone further, she had shut up her dock-yards from the eye of every stranger, and had a most formidable fleet on paper, which she held out to terrify the world, when he well knew, from secret intelligence, that many of her ships upon paper, were ships on paper only, and that they could not be put to sea, were there occasion for their services. He begged, therefore, that the noble duke would withdraw his motion. If the noble duke wished only to know what ships could soon be fitted out, in addition to the 42 already in commission, he would readily tell him; in about a twelve-month we might have 90 line of battle ships at sea, and speedily after that period many more. The Duke of Bolton readily withdrew his motion; because he saw it would, as the noble lord had said, rather tend to distress than serve this country. From the noble earl’s repeated boasting of the good state of our navy, the readiness with which our ships were manned, and the abundant quantity of timber in our yards, he had conceived that it was of very little consequence, how public our naval strength was made; he now, however, was sorry to say, he found that the noble lord's boastings were merely vain-boastings. In 1757, he well remembered, after a press of six months, 80 sail of the line were ready for sea. We had of late heard of a warm press, and yet the first lord of the Admiralty declared, that we had now only 54 ships ready, and that in twelve months more we could not increase that number to more than 90 sail. An incontrovertible proof, that so far from our navy being in an excellent condition, it was in a most deplorable condition. The Earl of Sandwich observed, that the duke had started a new matter; that if speedily equipping ships had been necessary, he certainly could have had a great many more ships ready than there now were; but the necessities of the state always governed the conduct of the Admiralty-board, and he should hold himself highly culpable, if he put the nation to a larger expence than occasion required. The earl begged their lordships to recollect, that a sufficient naval force to serve the purposes of the American war had been got ready as soon as it was called for; and that the present naval armament was prepared the moment it was known that the House of Bourbon was arming; he added, that had a foreign war broke out, there is no doubt but an increase equal to the occasion might long since have been made to the navy, and concluded with declaring, that till there was occasion, he should not think it incumbent upon him to add to the public burthen.

The Duke of Grafton imputed the present calamitous situation of the country to the want of information ; and insisted particularly, that the Capture Act, passed in the 16th of his present Majesty, and softened by the pretended powers vested in the crown, for appointing commissioners to treat with America, was not only the cause of the subsequent disasters, but of the colonies declaring themselves independent. If, however, the powers granted by the Act were what ministers pretended they meant to give, he wished to know what were the fruits they produced; and what steps had been taken by the commissioners to carry them into execution. His grace then moved, for “such papers as relate to the fulfilling that part of the Capture Act, so far as the same empowers certain persons to declare any colony, province, city, town, precinct, port or place at the peace of his Majesty: with a return of such colony, province, city, town, precinct, port or place, that since passing of the above Act may be declared to be at the peace of his Majesty.”

The Earl of Suffolk hoped the noble duke did not mean, by the generality of his motion, to take in any papers leading to treaty; or particulars preparatory to it; but which never produced any effect. If that was his grace's intention, he certainly would oppose the motion; if not, he had no objection.

The duke of Grafton's motion was agreed to. *

Debate in the Lords on the Earl of Chatham’s Motion for General Burgoyne's Orders and Instructions.] Dec. 5. The Earl of Chatham rose. His lordship began with remarking, that the King's speech at the opening of the session conveyed a general information of the measures intended to be pursued; and looked forward to the probable occurrences which might be supposed to happen, and affect the great bodies to whom they were addressed; and

of course the nation at large, who were finally interested. He had the last speech from the throne now in his hand, and a deep sense of the public calamity in his heart: they would both co-operate to inforce and justify the measure he meant to propose. He was sorry to say, the speech contained a very unfaithful picture of the state of public affairs. This assertion was unquestionable; not a noble lord in administration would dare rise, and even so much as controvert the fact. The speech held out a specious outside—was full of hopes; yet it was manifest, that every thing within and without, foreign and domestic, was full of danger, and calculated to inspire the most melancholy forebodings. His lordship hoped, that this sudden call for their lordships’ attention would be imputed to its true motive, a desire of obtaining their assistance in such a season of difficulty and danger; a season in which, he would be bold to maintain, a single moment was not to be lost. It was customary, he said, for that House to offer an address of condolence to his Majesty upon any public misfortune, as well as one of congratulation, on any public success. If this was the usage of parliament, he never recollected a period, at which such an address became more seasonable or necessary than at present. If what was acknowledged in the other House was true, he was astonished that some public notice was not taken of the sad, the melancholy disaster. The report was, the fact was acknowledged by persons in high authority, [lords Germain and North] that general Burgoyne and his army were surrounded, and obliged to surrender themselves prisoners of war to the provincials. He should take the account of this calamitous event, as now stated, and argue upon it as a matter universally allowed to be true. He then lamented the fate of Mr. Burgoyne in the most pathetic terms; and said, that gentleman’s character, the glory of the British arms, and the dearest interests of this undone, disgraced country had been all sacrificed to the ignorance, temerity, and incapacity of ministers. Appearances, he observed, were indeed dreadful : he was not sufficiently informed to decide on the extent of the numerous evils with which we were surrounded; but they were clearly sufficient to give just cause of alarm to the most confident or callous heart. He spoke with great candour of general Burgoyne : he might, or might not, be an able officer;

« ElőzőTovább »