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tives, and carried along with the vessel to Carthagena. That the House may understand the subject fairly, it will be proper to state in a cursory manner, what has hitherto been the situation of the Musquito shore. The country extends about 20 leagues beyond Black River, to the west, and 20 leagues to the south of Yarra or Great River, making in the whole about 400 miles of a rectangular coast, running west and south, from Cape Gracia de Dias, and from 100 to 80 miles deep in the country. The chiefs of the different tribes of Indians first formally ceded this country to his Majesty, while the duke of Albemarle was governor of Jamaica; their chiefs have ever since been respected and obeyed by the natives, according to the commissions they have held from the governor of Jamaica, to which the Musquito shore is considered as an appendage, nor has any Spaniard ever settled there. In the war of 1740, when we projected the attack on Carthagena, and the expedition into the South Seas, under lord Anson, thinking the Indians might be of material service against the Spaniards, an officer under the name of superintendant, and paid by the crown, was then appointed, as also justices of the peace, by commission from the governor of Jamaica, which establishment has continued ever since, sometimes with more relaxed, and sometimes with firmer authority, according to the characters of the men employed, as every species of colony government under our constitution must be, when founded merely on the will of the crown, without the elective voice of the people. It was no doubt with a design of remedying those inconveniencies, that this new species of colony government by a legislative council, chosen by the inhabitants, was adopted. I do not take upon me either to condemn or approve the policy which directed the measure, but I believe the motives were extremely good. A very extraordinary circumstance had brought the affairs of the Musquito shore, under the more immediate review of the Board of Trade, by which the unrestrained irregularities that prevailed there, became more apparent; a very worthy gentleman, and a #. of my own, had gone to that part of the world in 1773, with a view of settling in the country; when he arrived there, he found a commerce established of the most barbarous and cruel kind that ever disgraced the transactions of any ci
vilized people. The traders on the Musquito shore were accustomed to sell their goods at very high prices and long credit, to the Musquito lndians, and the mode of payment set on foot by the British settlers, was to hunt the other surrounding tribes of Indians, and seize them by stratagem or force, from whence they were delivered to the British traders as slaves, at certain prices, in discharge of their debts, and were by them conveyed as articles of commerce to the English and French settlements in the West-Indies. The person among others, concerned in this shameful traffie had been the superintendant himself, whose employment was ostensibly to protect the Indians, from whence, as the House will easily perceive, all kinds of jealousy, distraction, and distrust had prevailed: several of the Indians, and particularly the king, complained to my #. of the distracted state of the natives, from this species of commerce. He wisely foresaw that it would be impossible to correct the evil by any complaint through the superintendant, who was himself concerned; he therefore advised, as the best means of obtaining redress, that the king should send his brother and his son to England, with a regular complaint, and lest the fact should be disputed, he actually purchased two of those surrounding Indians, who had been made slaves, to accompany the others on the voyage, which voyage he undertook at his own expence, and agreed to accompany them thither with that humanity and attention to the rights of his fellow creatures, for which I know him to be distinguished. But whilst I praise his benevolence, and consider the act as the most meritorious that could be performed, I must also, in justice to truth, declare to the House, his total ignorance of the ignoble selfish spirit which directs the councils of this country; this gentleman was actually weak enough to believe he would receive public commendations for his conduct, and instant redress for so inhuman a grievance When the affair was first stated to lord Dartmouth, he received the chiefs as became him, and felt with that tenderness for which he is said to be noted; but his ardour was soon cooled by some of those worthless indifferent beings who cannot believe that any man can suffer an injury, while they are enjoying the luxuries of an abundant table. The superintendant had also found friends, among those kind of men; the matter was afterwards put off.
for nine months, from week to week, till, of either party. I freely confess, that a lord Dartmouth quitted the Board of regular established government, where Trade, having first, in consequence of the mankind could multiply under the benign enquiry, established the legislative council, influence of colonization, that formerly which has been the occasion of the hostili- prevailed in the English settlements, and ties complained of. The first act of lord | thus situated in the very heart of the Dartmouth's successor was to dismiss the Spanish dominions, is an object of great superintendant of the Musquito shore, and consideration for them, perhaps (and for appoint another, leaving however such an | the same reason) it is equally an object of expence upon my worthy friend, notwith- great consideration with us, not to relinstanding goveroment paid a small sum quish such advantages. Men who are distowards his losses, that I believe no man posed to yield the rights of Great Britain will again venture upon such a romantic to such considerations, might find many idea as that of crossing the Atlantic, in stronger arguments, upon that consideraconsequence of any grievance, in hopes of tion, for yielding up Gibraltar, situated in obtaining redress in England. It was the kingdom of Spain itself, and destined for those very Indian chiefs, which lord Dart the key of commerce in the Mediterranean, mouth sent out with Messrs Blair and exposing to passing nations at the south of Irving.
Europe, the proudest triumph of insular We shall now consider what can be said power, and the most humiliating circumin vindication of the conduct of the court stances of debilitated empire, that has yet of Spain. Our right to trade and to settle appeared in the fluctuating scene of hu. in the Musquito country, is founded (as I man events. For she too, in the plenitude have shown on the cession made by the of her power, made cruel war on her disnative inhabitants, and on an uninterrupt- tant subjects! But I do not wish at preed possession of near a hundred years. sent to enter into the question of conveThat of the Spaniard is founded on a grant nience or of right, or the extent of that from the Pope of Rome, and as being the right, on the Musquito shore; my proposi. first discoverers of the circumjacent coasts. tion is short and simple, disencumbered It is true the matter is left somewhat inde. upon every alternative from such perfinite, by the definitive treaty of Paris. plexity. If lord Dartmouth had no right to That the House may judge exactly, I will establish a legislative council on the Musread the article 17th. “ His Britannic quitoshore, by which every Englislıman was majesty shall cause to be demolished all invited to partake of the benefits of that spethe fortifications which his subjects shall cies of government, his lordship is to blame, have erected in the Bay of Honduras, and the administration with whom he conand other places of the territory of Spain certed that measure, should be censured. in that part of the world, four months after | But for this House to permit the innocent the ratification of the present treaty ; and subject acting under such sanctions of g“his Catholic majesty shall not permit his vernment, to be ruined by his confidence, Britannic majesty's subjects, or their while the same set of ministers are in workmen, to be disturbed or molested, power, is inconsistent, or that we shall reunder any pretence whatsoever, in the fuse to hear complaints, or to examine into said places, in their occupation of cutting, the truth in such cases, is placing the reloading, and carrying away logwood; and presentatives of the people (who ought to for this purpose, they may build without see with a jealous eye the injuries of every hinderance, and occupy without interrup: individual) in such an odious light, that in. tion, the houses and magazines necessary stead of being considered as the guardians for them for their families, and for their of the rights and privileges of the people, effects; and his Catholic majesty assures they can only be considered as an engine to them, by this article, the full enjoyment in the hands of a minister, (like the Roó of those advantages and powers on the man senate under Tiberius) to palliate Spanish coasts and territories as above sti- disgraces, or execute vengeance at his pulated, immediately after the ratification will. of the present treaty.”
| What I maintain here, and with more Undoubtedly the words “ other places confidence than in the case of Falkland's of the territory of Spain, in that part of Island, is this, that supposing government the world,” leaves the dispute as much at had even exceeded the just limits between large, or as contracted as could be desired the king of Spain and Great Britain, yet by a politician disposed to take the cause still the object was a matter of cool discus:
sion, agreeable to the respect due to the reign power, openly to assist the Amedignity of a great nation, before any overt ricans, or to form any alliance with them, act of violence could be committed. The which must make their return to the allelate sir Charles Saunders declared, upon giance of this country more difficult, if not the unhanging a sloop of war's rudder, impossible, even supposing his Majesty merely to detain her for a few days, that shall soon see the fruitless conduct of his Madrid in ashes was hardly a sufficient present ministers, and become disposed to atonement. For my part, I consider this listen to wiser and more faithful counof much greater consequence, because I sellors. It is for this reason I would proregard personal liberty as the first great pose, if the petition was brought up, that consideration in a free country; the tying the damages should be paid to the innoof British subjects together, loading them cent sufferers, until we are in a situation with irons, and throwing them into dun- of doing ourselves justice. But while I geons, is of more estimation, in my judg. offer this proposition, I beg the names of ment, than the shipping and unshipping of those men may be remembered, who from 500 rudders. I see some gentlemen smile the height of national prosperity, without at this sentiment. I do not wish to adopt any exterior cause or other reason than their opinions, nor do I expect they should their own mismanagement, have crossed the adopt mine. It would be difficult for me to Rubicon, and plunged us into all the hormake them feel the regard I have for civil rors of civil discord, until we are left in liberty. If I should say it is equal to the this debilitated state, liable to be insulted affection they bear to their pensions and by every foreign power. places, they would hardly believe it possi. I 'I have only now to inform the House, ble. But I am not ashamed to maintain of the different steps that have been taken that the commerce of the productive coast since the capture of the Morning Star, to of the Musquito shore, is infinitely supe. | obtain redress. The inhabitants of the rior to the barren rocks of Falkland's Is. Musquito shore, extremely alarmed at so land. When a member of parliament can notorious an attack, by force of arms, on laugh at the imprisonment of English sub. | the property of the King's subjects, in jects, or sit regardless of a question where which their fate was involved, transmitted the peace, the happiness, the existence of an immediate representation to the go. 500 families of his fellow subjects are in vernor of Jamaica, of the circumstances volved, it is, in my opinion, a mark of de- attending it, and though the proof, that pravity that deserves the contempt and the vessels which made the seizure were abhorrence of all good citizens.
Spaniards, was not so positive as the comI am the furthest of any man in this mon law of this country would require, House from wishing to involve us in a war before a jury, to deprive a man of his life, with Spain. I am conscious of our feeble yet, attended by those numerous circumsituation, and that we are already engaged stances, by which seamen denote the vesin a civil war, too extensive for our re- sels of foreign nations, there could remain sources. I do not expect in this assem no doubt that the cruizers were Spaniards; bly, that Roman spirit which directed ven- this, added to the dress, complexion, and geance against the king of Epirus, when tones of voice of the crew, all plainly disa Hannibal was in the centre of Italy; that tinguishable, rendered the evidence from period is passed. Our late defeats in the affidavits as complete as the nature of America must make every man look with the case could admit. This representation awful consideration on the extent of the was carried to Jamaica by captain Blair, in present war, and the magnitude of the ex- person, who stated to the governor all the pence in dealing with the enemy, whom other minute circumstances that came to we have unhappily driven into rebellion, his knowledge. Though the unhappy sufa by our own false policy and oppression. I ferer was perfectly convinced who had inam conscious that our revolted colonies, jured him, yet the governor, who is himaided by a foreign force, must prove an self a seaman, and a man of sound natural over-match for us. Their respectable re- sense, would not believe the Spaniards sistance on the shore, and the innumera- could be guilty of such incivility, and still ble captures at sea, demonstrate this. I insisted the captors must be vessels from therefore think it would be madness to irri- North America. Application was also tate any other power; our situation is made to the worthy admiral upon that stasuch at present, that I think it better to tion, but he was equally incredulous as to suffer every insult, than provoke any fo. any misbehaviour in the Spaniards; and [VOL. XIX.]
yet if he was sincere in his belief, it would appear strange that the admiral should have sent no cruizers to look after those American privateers. Finding no likelihood of redress abroad, from the instructions the governor and admiral must have received, captain Blair embarked for England, and on the 25th of September, delivered a memorial to lord George Germaine, secretary of state for the colonies, complaining of the unjustifiable capture of his vessel by the Spaniards, and stating his losses at 3,000l. His lordship was in the same incredulous disposition of mind with the governor of Jamaica. It was from our own colonies alone, that any hostile act could come. It was impossible to persuade his lordship, from any circumstantial proof, that the Spaniards could be guilty of such an act. What I now maintain is this, that admitting there was not sufficient proof for an application for redress, there was perfect ground for a hypothetical enquiry, if our good friends and allies had committed this trespass, and what were the motives: but this was refused, from our situation with regard to the Spanish court. After three months had elapsed in fruitless attendance, there was, by accident, transmitted from Jamaica, a deposition of Frederick Sund, one of the unhappy mariners, who had been taken in the vessel, and escaped from prison at Carthagena. This man set forth every particular in his affidavit, and as it is the most material evidence in the petition, I will read it to the House. [Here the affidavit was read..] As soon as this affidavit was public in Jamaica, application was again made to the governor and admiral on that station to obtain redress; the governor still professed his entire scepticism, and the admiral was more profitably employed in catching the innocent traders from North America, who had ventured to sea under the faith of our first restraining Bill, but who were now condemned as prizes by the second, before the limitation in the first Bill was expired. This was about the harvest of such glorious exploits, and therefore a most unseasonable time to enquire into private injuries, or national insults. After six weeks solicitation, however, the governor and admiral did at last think it decent to make some inquiry into the depredations committed upon his Majesty’s subjects under their protection. Accordingly a frigate was dispatched, with a complimentary letter to the governor of Carthagena, wrote in a stile the most civil
and obliging that is to be found in the annals of this country, when demanding reparation for a national indignity. When this nation is sunk still lower, it may serve as a model to future admirals and governors. Nevertheless, when Dr. Irving requested of the admiral, that he might accompany the representation, and go in this frigate to point out his own vessel, and refute any false allegation on the spot, he was refused this equitable request, which plainly demonstrates, (as well as the papers when they shall be read), that the whole was a timid ceremonious requisition, unworthy the dignity of this nation. As I have the honour to be acquainted with the governor of Jamaica, who is an excellent naval officer, and knows what is due to the British colours, I am persuaded he never could have acted a part so humiliating to this country and himself, if he had not secret instructions to curb the dignity of his own mind. Notwithstanding the courtly expressions in the letter from the governor of Jamaica, and the refined politeness of the English admiral, the ingenuous character of the Spanish governor would not permit him to adopt the evasion which was pointed out; he boldly acknowledged the capture, by vessels commissioned by the king of Spain. He assigned no reason in justification, but freely declared he had no power to order restitution in an affair which depended upon the courts of Madrid and London. Wie this pleasant scene was carrying on in the West Indies, the deposition of Frederick Sund had been transmitted to captain Blair in England; this he inclosed in a letter to lord George Germaine, of the 17th December; his lordship seemed still desirous of further delays, but on being pressed by captain Blair, in terms more severe than his natural modesty generally inclines him to use, his lordship then wheeled to a more extraordinary subterfuge ; he acquainted the unfortunate petitioner, for the first time, that truly he was in the wrong course of office, and that the matter belonged to lord Weymouth's department, to whom the papers should be sent. This I consider as a very unfair and disingenuous conduct, whatever purposes it might be intended to serve. . If the affair belonged to lord Weymouth’s office, his lordship should have been permitted to see and judge concerning the first representation in September, which I am persuaded would have been very different. f
Capt. Blair hereafter applied to lord Weymouth, who immediately came to town, and transmitted a representation to lord Grantham at Madrid. Captain Blair has waited with great patience, in hopes of some satisfactory answer, but he has not as yet officially learned any particulars. As this is not a vessel seized for illegal commerce, but for going to attempt a settlement on the Musquito shore, under the encouragement and approbation of government, the matter is brought to a short issue, and must turn on the right of the nation to make any settlements there. Here is no disavowal of the facts alledged, no declaration, in case the circumstances are as represented, they should be willing to render reparation: so that the unhappy sufferers, after embarking their fortunes in a laudable undertaking, at the invitation of administration, are now plundered and ruined by a foreign power; the matter is further endeavoured to be involved in such doubt, mystery and confusion, that there is no prospect of relief; and the parties, after every species of procrastination and evasion in office, are left without a glimpse of hope for obtaining redress, unless by the interposition of this honourable House.
If it is alleged that the court of Spain are ever slow in negociations like this, I answer, that the Spanish court are composed of men constituted like others; that they are slow, or prompt in reply, according to the men and the administration with whom they are transacting business. If the capture was put upon the footing of any illicit trade, (which is impossible in the present case) the matter might deo enquiry, and consequently delay. But here the point must turn on our right to trade and settle on the Musquito shore, the discussion should be short, after one hundred years possession; or at least, if government do not chuse to venture that discussion at present, the laws of civil society require that the state should indemnify the innocent sufferer, whenever the nation shall postpone any requisition for the reparation of private injury which is due to every individual, from the protection of the state. Either condemn lord Dartmouth; demand satisfaction of the court of Spain; or indemnify the individual who acted under your sanction and advice. One of those three things you are bound to do; the last would prove most pleasing to me in the present juncture. Will any man believe, that in case lord
Chatham had been first minister of this country, that in five months he would not have been able toprocurean explicit answer upon this subject, from Madrid 2 For m art, I sincerely believe, that he would have ad an answer in five weeks; and I refer to those who remember the honour of the nation, in the days of Mr. Pitt, if the whole tenor of his lordship's conduct does not justify me in entertaining this belief. But at all events there can be no national objection to bringing up the petition; we are bound to hear the complaints of the subject; what is to be done after the House are fully informed of the facts, may be a matter of more difficult consideration; but to reject the petition, would be loading our own resolutions with an imputation of timidity, worse than any I have stated in the conduct of the subordinate officers of government, and showing it is the same abject disposition that pervades the whole system. In hopes that this is not entirely the case, and that at least, if the old spirit of resentment for national indignities is stifled, the spirit of private justice is not yet extinguished, I now move you, that this po be brought up. Mr. J. Johnstone seconded the motion. He lamented the humiliating state this country had been reduced to by the violent and impolitic , measures pursuing against America, which left us at the mercy of our foreign enemies, notwithstanding the high sounding language held, of our being in a situation to be able to contend with all the powers of Europe, should a necessity arise for any such exertion. He declared himself strenuously for the enquiry, as the means of rousing us to a proper sense of our very perilous situation, from those romantic dreams of American conquest, and unconditional legislative supremacy; and of recalling the attention of parliament to the dangers we have been imperceptibly led into, by the unexampled folly and obstinacy of a blind infatuated set of men, to whom the administration of public affairs had been unfortunately intrusted. Lord North said he should be against the bringing up of the petition, upon se
be extremely improper to bring such a matter before parliament, till it was known in what manner the court of Madrid would behave, or what answer they would ultimately give. It was a delicate affair, and .# careful investigation, before it would be proper to take any decisive mea
veral grounds: first, he thought it would