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ticular make and dimension. That the Navy board could at that time get no ships fit for the horses at a smaller price; but, that they had not since paid any more than 11s. That about the end of 1777, or the beginning of 1778, the Treasury had applied to the Navy-board, to know if they would undertake to provide for the transport service. That the board declined it, because they not only did not think it any part of their business, but had already more to do than they could well execute. That if they had undertaken it, it would have been impossible for the officer they employed to o ships, to have done the whole duty.—Upon his cross examination, sir Richard said, that he had heard, th it in the reign of queen Anne, a special commission was issued, appointing commissioners to execute the business of takin up transports during the war, at the end of which the commission ceased, and the power reverted to the Navy-board. That it might be about four months since that application was made from the Treasury, to know if the Navy-board would undertake the service, which they declined. That the ships taken up for the purpose of exporting horses, were necessarily different from those used for other purposes. Mr. Atkinson was examined. He began with declaring, that at one time, when the stores were to be conveyed to Boston, he contracted with government to send them there, but that he had since acted merely as an agent for the Treasury, procuring them ships for the transport service and receiving commission money in the same manner as was customary, when the same business was done for private merchants. is house had long had a connection with most of the ship owners in the kingdom; that whenever government applied to them for ships, the mode was, to write down to their correspondents in the several sea-ports, and when they had found such ships as were likely to answer the purpose of the Treasury, to have them measured and surveyed by a person they emloyed for that purpose; then to enter into a charter-party with the owners, of the same nature with the charter-parties drawn up by the Navy board; that the mode of payment was to pay the owners two months in advance as soon as the ships were taken up, and two months more at the end of four months. That for some time he had only paid, and been repaid, at the rate of 11s. per ton freight, but that government wanting several ships
in Jan. and Feb. 1777, he was under the necessity, in order to procure ships, to promise such owners as refused to contract, from a hope that the price of freight would be advanced, that if they would enter into a charter party at 11s. they should be advanced as soon as the Navyboard advanced in the o: they paid for transports; that when the price for the 25 ships to carry the horses was raised to 12s. 6d. per ton, the owners insisted on his paying the same; that he contended, the 25 ships were for a particular purpose, and were not to be regarded as an example; that the owners, nevertheless, insisted on their bargains, and even threatened him with law suits, unless he paid them the advanced price; that as the service pressed exceedingly, he was under the necessity of complying; that at the desire of the Treasury, he had since written circular letters to the ship owners, endeavouring to get ships at a smaller price of tonnage; that he laid the answers he received before the lords of the Treasury; that it appeared from their answers, to
the resolution of the o of the shipholders, not to contract for less than 12s. 6d. per ton; that if the Treasury had not continued to pay that price, the public service could not have been executed; that so many transports had been wanted, he had even been obliged to send to every ship-builder in the kingdom, and contract for such as were nearly finished and fit for the service: that he had also sent over to Holland and bought ships there; that although he paid ready money, in a manner, for the freight, and the Navyboard paid in navy-bills, which at certain times |. a considerable discount, the ship owners preferred a contract with the board, alleging, that when in their service they lay a considerable time in port, and were not wearing out their sails, tackle, and ships, so much as they were when employed by the Treasury, in continual voyages to and from America; that he had argued with the ship owners in order to persuade them to take less freight, and at last got them to accept of 12s. per ton. That they said they did not get much more by the Treasury at 12s. than they formerly had got at 11s. for that seamen's wages were raised 14s. per month, and as they must necessarily have seven men to every 100 tons, they consequently only received 2s. for each ship more for the freight than the ad: dition of the seamen's wages amounted
to, and then it was to be considered, that either or both services ;. and on that supprovisions were increased in price.-Upon position strike off 28,0001. of the excess the duke of Richmond's asking him, what of expenditure, 150,0001. would still re. he received for commission, he said he main, which was in fact a waste of the used to receive 21 per cent. which was the public treasure to the amount of 25 per standard price for such business among cent. the total being but 600,0001. When the private merchants; but that last July this was attentively considered, it must the lords of the Treasury sent for him, and produce very melancholy reflections in the after arguing upon the great number of breast of every man, who had the interest ships taken up, desired to know, whether of his country at heart. These premises he could not do the business for less; that fully authorised him to brand this transache said, he would leave the matter en- tion with its true name, a job; and that of tirely to their lordships, and that they had the most disgraceful nature. It carried since paid him only 1 per cent. commis- about it all its proper marks ; it was a most sion.--He was asked by lord Shelburne, beneficial contract, made in the dark, with whether he did not think the Lords of the a favourite contractor. Why not adver
Treasury had not been too hard upon him? tise as the Navy board had done? Why not he said, if he was to answer that question try particularly when they found that the to their lordships, he must say he seriously Navy board had lowered the freight? The did. He informed the House, that the Navy board, said Mr. Atkinson, was the first mode of his settlement with the Treasury occasion of raising the price; why not was, for him, once a month, to take to the copy them throughout, and lower as well board an account of all his contracts as as increase the freight in imitation of them they then stood, with the charter-parties as they did so early as June 1776, and and certificates of such ships as had ful. down to the latest accounts on the table. filled their contracts, and to receive what The witness has said in answer to this, that was due to him upon the whole. Thus, the Navy board took up but two ships in he had on Tuesday been paid all that was June, and eight in the ensuing December; and would be due for the month of March. therefore that the decreased demand from
Mr. Heard proved that the totals of the that board caused the freight to be lowered accounts upon the table, to which the Re. He was ready to meet the objection, taksolutions intended to be moved by the earl ing the argument either way. If the sinall. of Effingham referred, were exact.
ness of the demand could enable the Navy The Earl of Effingham then rose, and board to contract lower, the same cause after paying Mr, Atkinson an ironical' should surely have produced a similar ef. compliment, by declaring that his speech fect on the Treasury contract. If on the was the ablest defence of the Treasury other hand, the demand for transports conthat he had ever heard, descanted for some tinued equally pressing at the Treasury, it time on the evidence that had been given afforded the best possible opportunity to by the several witnesess. He then drew a transpose part of the business to the Navy comparison between the amount of the board, who had their hands quite empty; money expended by the Navy board, and the latter not having taken up but ten transthe amount of the money expended by the ports in full six months. This could be Treasury, stating each as referring to two effected without an increase of officers, distinct points-the contingencies and the which was the only shadow of an objection price of freight. In regard to the first, it he heard urged, and the foundation of alappeared that the contingencies of the ac- most every thing that had been offered by count from the Treasury for the transport the very plausible gentleman at the bar service exceeded the contingencies of the [Atkinson.] The rest of what that genaccount from the navy board for the same tleman said having gone only to an exte. service in the gross sum of 131,0001. In nuation of the conduct of himself and his regard to the article of freight, though the employers ; not to justify it in any other excess paid by the Treasury per ton had manner than the ground of necessity, been no more than 1s. 6d. the difference which remained yet to be proved; for he was 45,0001, which, added to the excess in never could be persuaded, that either the the contingencies, made the whole differ- necessity of the Treasury contracts for a ence amount to 178,0001. Supposing, high price, or the necessity of the Treahowever, that he should make an allow- sury board being obliged to take that bu, ance for some particular articles, over-siness upon themselves, had been even ebarged, wrong charged, or omitted in plausibly, much less clearly made out. ''
His lordship said, the present enquiry | Temple answered reluctantly, and that Mr. formed but a small part of what he deemed Atkinson had, with great plausibility, asnecessary, namely, an inspection and exa- signed every reason for the contract being mination of the public accounts in general. entered into but the true one; and had By what had appeared, there was good taken great credit to himself and his emground for suspicion, if not proof of actual | ployers, for his abating one per cent. of his corruption. At all events, there was suffi- commission ; but when did that happen? cient evidence to support, in the fullest at the time that a very critical scrutiny was manner, the Resolutions which he pro. making into the scandalous rum contract, posed to submit to their lordships' consi- which had been condemned as a job, by deration ; and of course to rouze their the very able and respectable merchants lordships' attention to an enquiry into the to whom this shameful transaction was expenditure of the public money, particu- referred. larly at the eve of a war with France, | The question was put for the chairman when public frugality was become so pe- to leave the chair : Contents 39, Non. culiarly an act of sound policy, nay of the contents 18. The House being resumed, utmost necessity, when we considered the The Earl of Effingham then moved a powerful foes we were about to contend string of Resolutions which he intended with. His lordship concluded with in- for the establishment of his facts; which forming the House, that he had several being all set aside by the previous ques. Resolutions grounded on the information tion, he next moved, “ That the employ. on the table to propose. The first Reso. ing private persons in the hiring and equiplution, and that on which the question was ping of these vessels, instead of their being put, was “ That there was taken up by the taken up as those by the Navy board, hath Navy board, from September 1775 to Sep. | been a loss to the public to a very great tember 1777,435 vessels, carrying 131,120 amount.” tons."
The House divided, Contents 17; NonThe Earl of Sandwich opposed the Re- contents 35. solution. He did not doubt its veracity, but he was very sure, from the nature of Mr. Grenville's Motion for all Commuthe service, every possible æconomy was nications touching a Treaty between France adopted by the Treasury; and ore proof and America.] March 16. of that was, the Treasury lately knock Lord North gave notice that he should ing off the odd sixpence, because the Navy tomorrow present a Message from the gave no more than 12s. per ton. The price King. of freight was raised; the service was Mr. Grenville said, he believed the subpressing and could not be trifled with;ject of the message was already anticipated the troops must be fed; for who would by the House. But in order that gentlehave Englishmen and friendly foreigners men might be truly, as well as fully, in. to starve in a hostile land ? That the ne- formed, before they determined what cessity of sending them provisions at any Answer to give, he begged leave to move, rate was such, that if the freight had been " That an humble Address be presented double it must have been paid ; that he to his Majesty, to desire that he will be had seen several letters from gen. Howe, graciously pleased to order that there be praying, that a supply of provisions should laid before this House, copies of all Com. be expedited ; that so far from çensuring munications from his Majesty's ambassador the Treasury, they deserved the thanks of at the court of France, or the French am. the country, for the zeal and alacrity they bassador at this court, touching any treaty had shewn in this very business. His lord of Alliance, Confederacy, or Commerce, ship concluded with moving that the chair- entered into between the court of France, man do leave the chair.
and the revolted colonies in North AmeThe Earl of Suffolk said he must now, as rica." he had done before, declare his objection Mr. Burke warmly seconded the motion. to any resolutions upon matters of fact. The present situation of our affairs, he The evidence had proved that transports declared to be to the last degree desperate. could not be procured cheaper. The ne. The stocks, the political pulse of the nation, cessity of the service called for dispatch. were so low, that they plainly demonstrated Sir W. Howe had frequently pressed ad- the weakness of the state; they were ministration on that head.
| already sunk as much as in times of foreign The Earl of Shelburne said that sir R. war; and afforded the most gloomy prose pect. Sunk as the nation was, robbed of punish : they should likewise be made to her treasures, injured in her honour, she account for the injuries done their country: had a right to take every step that could the only means of determining the quanlead her to a discovery of the counsels, tum of guilt, and where it particularly lay, and of the persons who gave them, by could not be well ascertained without the which she had been reduced from the papers in question : he therefore wished pinnacle of honour and power, to the strongly to support the motion. lowest ebb of wretchedness and disgrace. The Attorney General was astonished
Mr. Fox took a retrospect of the various that such a motion should be seconded; measures adopted by the present adminis- it was of such a nature that it would be tration : he pointed out the causes to which the most crying injustice to agree to it: it their failures ought to be attributed: he in- was unprecedented: a similar one never sisted that the ignorance of the ministry was had passed that House ; never ought to the source of our misfortunes; and from their pass any House, who looked upon a breach incapacity to conduct a war with the poor of faith to be a crime; the letters conpitiful, provinces of America, as he affected | tained perhaps information received from to call them, he inferred that the compli- | persons whose lives might be affected by cated business of a foreign war with the a discovery. Therefore, as he could not most powerful princes in Christendom reconcile such treacherous behaviour to must of course so far transcend their abili- his principles, he would oppose the moties, that the nation must absolutely be tion. undone if the administration of our affairs The Solicitor General spoke on the same was to continue in their hands. Melan- side. General Conway, Mr. Turner, and choly as was the prospect that a war af- Mr. Hartley spoke in favour of the moforded us, it would have this good effect ; tion. that it would rouse the nation to a sense of Governor Johnstone said, though he the wrongs they had been made to suffer, heartily concurred with those who were by being made to feel at once all those of opinion that the present ministry were calamities, for which the ministry had unequal to the discharge of the duties prepared them by degrees, by their slow | their office imposed on them; yet he but destructive measures, which, though would not allow that our affairs were in a they did not precipitate the nation into a desperate situation : the navy, indeed, was foreign war, had, by a slow process, inevi- not in the condition that we might wish it tably brought it on. The House had been to be in ; but he still trusted that the spirit made to act a fool's part. Conciliatory of the nation, and our known superiority Bills had been passed, and commissioners in experience in naval affairs, would extriappointed to treat with the Americans, cate us from the difficulties under which even after they had been acknowledged we now laboured. an independent state by France. · Igno. Mr. Rigby delivered his sentiments in a rance of such a circumstance was unpar- style calculated to remove ill-humour and donable; and the contempt which it served excite mirth; he hoped that the common to bring on the House called aloud for danger would tend to conciliate all parties, resentment. Ministers, he said, could and create that unanimity which was nenever execute their duty to their country, cessary at present, and which would ever nor counteract the schemes of her enemies, render us formidable to our enemies. if they did not procure intelligence of the Lord North requested that he might be measures adopted for our annoyance. He indulged with the attention of the House asked the House if a set of men ought to for a few minutes, while he should make be any longer trusted with the reins of a reply to the many severe reflections that government, who received the first positive had been passed on the ministry, part of assurance of a Treaty concluded by France which was, no doubt, intended for him. If and America, from the French ambassa- a resignation of his place could in anywise dor? Their supineness, folly, and igno- tend to extricate the nation from its prerance, in that one instance, sufficiently I sent difficulties, he had often declared, proved them to be unworthy of their em and then repeated the declaration, that he ployments. But to declare them only would most willingly resign; but as it unworthy would not be doing sufficient would be cowardly to give up in the hour justice to the people: the violators of of danger, and, as resignation at that cri. whose rights, and the spoilers of whose sis would create confusion in the ministry, property the parliament' was bound to his honour, his pride, his duty to his coun.
try, convinced him that he ought not to go out of office. . As to his abilities to conduct a war, and direct the helm of the state, he confessed they were such as could be very easily matched. He did not doubt but that there were many gentlemen in that House who were possessed of abilities far superior to any he could boast: his integrity was all he could plume himself upon; and in that he would be bold to say he was inferior to no man in the nation. The Conciliatory Bills he had yet reason to hope would be productive of happy effects; and though a treaty had really been concluded between the colonies and France, yet it was natural to expect that it must be ratified by the Congress. He did not, therefore, despair that the terms offered, and ensured by the Conciliatory Acts, would so pacify the minds of the people of America, as to prevent a ratification of the treaty. He was led still the more to expect these effects by the very circumstance of the time, which the French ambassador chose to make the declaration, namely, when the commissioners were on the point of setting out. He, therefore, thought that our present difficulties might perhaps be still removed without a war. Our situation was not yet so alarming as gentlemen might think: our fleets for home defence were in a condition to do all the service that we could expect, and to answer all the purposes of securing us from an invasion, and repelling the enemy. The present motion was so contradictor to every idea of justice, public faith, and sound policy, that he certainly would oppose it; and as he never would consent that those persons, who, under the confidence of the faith of nations, might have given our ambassador information, should be given up to the resentment of those who might punish them, he would therefore endeavour to get rid of the motion by the previous question. r. Grenville said he did not wish to expose any man; and amended his motion with, “ or extracts.” Lord North said the amendment could not be received after the previous question had been moved. Mr. For got up in great warmth, and reprehended the noble lord in the severest terms, for what he called quibbling and chicane. Lord North withdrew his motion; and the amendment was received: after which he moved the previous question again. He desired the House to take notice, that
The King’s Message respecting the Treaty betweeen France and America.] March 17. The following Message from his Majesty was presented to the Lords by viscount Weymouth:
“His Majesty, having been informed, by order of the French king, that a Treaty of Amity and Commerce has been signed between the court of France, and certain persons employed by his Majesty's revolted subjects in North America, has judged it necessary to direct, that a copy of the Declaration, delivered by the French ambassador to lord viscount Weymouth, be laid before the House of Lords; and at the same time to acquaint them, that his Majesty has thought proper, in consequence of this offensive communication on the part of the court of France, to send orders to his ambassador to withdraw from that court.
“His Majesty is persuaded, that the justice and good faith of his conduct towards foreign powers, and the sincerity of his wishes to preserve the tranquillity of Europe, will be acknowledged by all the world; and his Majesty trusts, that he shall not stand responsible for the disturbance of that tranquillity, if he should find himself called upon to resent so unprovoked and so unjust an aggression on the honour of his crown, and the essential interests of his kingdoms, contrary to the most solemn assurances, subversive of the law of nations, and injurious to the rights of every sovereign power in Europe,
“ His Majesty, relying with the firmest confidence on the zealous and affectionate support of his faithful people, is determined to be prepared to exert, if it shall