become necessary, all the force and re-! « In this just confidence, the undersources of his kingdoms; which he trusts written ambassador might think it superwill be found adequate to repel every in- | fluous to apprize the British ministry, that sult and attack, and to maintain and up- the king his master, being determined hold the power and reputation of this effectually to protect the lawful freedom country.”

of the commerce of his subjects, and to A similar Message was sent to the Com- sustain the honour of his flag, his Majesty mons. At the same time was presented has taken, in consequence, eventual meas Copy of a Paper delivered to Lord Vis- |

sures, in concert with the United States count Weymouth by the Marquis

of North America. M. DE NOAILLES." de Noailles, the 13th March 1778,

" London, 18 March, 1778.and Translation : viz.

Debate in the Lords on the King's Meso The underwritten Ambassador of his

sage respecting the Treaty between France Most Christian Majesty has received

and America.] As soon as the above an express Order to deliver to the Message and Declaration had been read, Court of London the following De Viscount Weymouth rose for the purclaration:

pose of moving an Address to his Majesty. « The United States of North America, He acquainted the House, that his Ma. which are in full possession of the Inde- jesty, in consequence of the above Dependence declared by their act of the 4th claration, had dispatched letters of instant July 1776, having caused a proposal to recall to the British minister at Versailles ; be made to the king, to consolidate, by a that he beheld with indignation this open formal convention, the connections that violation of the established amity between have begun to be established between the the two courts, and though he would not two nations, the respective plenipotentia. | be the first disturber of the tranquillity of ries have signed a Treaty of Amity and Europe, yet it was necessary for him to Commerce, intended to serve as a basis take such measures as might secure the for mutual good correspondence.

dignity of his crown, and the welfare of “ His majesty, being resolved to culti- his people, and hoped for their lordships' vate the good understanding subsisting concurrence and support. His lordship between France and Great Britain, by all concluded with moving, “ That an humthe means compatible with his dignity, | ble Address be presented to his Majesty, and with the good of his subjects, thinks to return his Majesty the humble thanks that he ought to impart this step to the of this House for the communication of court of London, and declare to it, at the the Paper presented to the lord viscount same time, that the contracting parties Weymouth, by the order of the French have bad attention not to stipulate any king ; and for acquainting this fiouse, exclusive advantage in favour of the that in consequence of this offensive DeFrench nation; and that the United States claration, his Majesty has thought proper have preserved the liberty of treating with to order his ambassador to withdraw from all nations whatsoever, on the same foot | the court of France. of equality and reciprocity.

" To assure his Majesty, that it is with “In making this communication to the the utmost difficulty this House can recourt of London, the king is firmly per- strain the strongest expressions of the resuaded, that it will find in it fresh proofs sentment and indignation which they feel of his majesty's constant and sincere dis for this unjust and unprovoked aggression positions for peace; and that his Britannic on the honour of his Majesty's crown, and majesty, animated by the same sentiments, the essential interests of his kingdoms, will equally avoid every thing that may contrary to the law of nations, and injuriinterrupt their harmony; and that he will ous to the rights and possessions of every take, in particular, effectual measures to sovereign power in Europe. hinder the commerce of his majesty's sub- " That the good faith and uprightness jects with the United States of North of his Majesty's conduct towards foreign America from being disturbed, and to powers, and the sincerity of his intentions cause to be observed, in this respect, the to preserve the general tranquillity must usages received between trading nations, be acknowledged by all the world; and and the rules that may be deemed subsist his Majesty cannot be considered as reing between the crowns of France and sponsible for the disturbance of this tranGreat Britain.

quillity, if his Majesty should find himself [VOL. XIX.)

[3 N]

called upon to resist the enterprizes of that restless and dangerous spirit of ambition and aggrandizement which has so often invaded the rights, and threatened the liberties of Europe. “That we should be wanting in our duty to his Majesty and to ourselves, if we did not give his Majesty the strongest assurances of our most zealous assistance and support; every sentiment of loyalty to his Majesty, and of love to our country, will animate this House to stand forth in the public defence, and to promote every measure that shall be found necessary for enabling his Majesty to vindicate the honour of his crown, and to protect the just rights and essential interests of these kingdoms.” The Duke of Manchester, however great the provocation given by France might be, was totally against their lordships agreeing with the Address, if the approaching war was to be conducted by the same men who were the authors of all our present calamities: men, in whose hands nothing could succeed; and in whom it would be madness to confide. He reminded their lordships of the fre}." admonitions ministers had received rom that side of the House, in which almost every o step towards national ruin had been exactly foretold, even to the very important business of that day. They were informed of this very treaty: they declared their ignorance of it. He had himself, from time to time, as an act of duty, communicated whatever came to his knowledge respecting the disposition of the court of France. He was satisfied of the truth of the matters contained in those communications; but he had no right to expect that their lordships would give credit to private information, in preference to the assurances of ministers whose special duty it was to be acquainted with, and make known to that House, the views, motives, and disposition of our natural enemies. Indeed, there were some leading facts which spoke strongly in favour of what he had suggested to their lordships, such as the residence of Messrs. Franklin and Deane at Paris: the open commerce carried on between France and the colonies; the protection given to their privateers and merchant-vessels; the contract between the Congress delegates, and the French farmers general, for certain quantities of tobacco, the growth of the North American colonies, to be delivered in France, at a stipulated price, &c.

These, his grace remarked, were circumstances sufficient to open the eyes of the most incredulous; but, in spite of all this, ministers got majorities to support them, against the strongest convictions of probability and common sense.—If we were to meet our enemies, the spirit of the nation must be as well directed as called forth. The situation of this country was perilous to the last degree; but, under the conduct of such an administration, ruin was inevitable. The enquiry into the state of the nation proved their total incapacity. Destitute of a military force for the home defence, or of our only true national bulwark, a respectable navy, they laid us at the mercy of our enemies; they wasted our blood and treasure to no purpose; and, what was worse, they rendered us defenceless. They brought us to the melancholy dilemma of not being in a state to make peace, or prosecute war. Were we prepared for a war: No noble lord would say we were. Could we preserve peace? He feared it was impossible. His grace then moved, that after the words, “zealous assistance and support,” the following words be added: “Whenever his Majesty shall, from his regard to the honour of his crown and safety of his subjects, remove from his councils those persons under whose administration no plan civil or military has been successful, and the colonies, so valuable a part of the empire, have been lost to this nation, and driven into connexions with the court of France, and whose longer continuance in power we are bound to represent to his Majesty may highly endanger the safety of his crown, and the remaining parts of his dominions.” Wiscount Weymouth said, the amendment was in the first place conditional; in the second, it contained an accusation against ministers. It was the first time he ever heard an address clogged with a condition which implied, that what was right in itself ought not to be pursued, unless something else were granted. For his part, if the address met the sentiments of the House, he thought it should receive its sanction entirely on its own intrinsic merits, and not while their lordships were acceding to an act of duty, accompany that act with certain compulsory conditions. Such a conduct had both an ungenerous and unjust appearance. Lord Dudley said, he had voted for all the measures of ministers, relative to the affairs of America, and could justify his conduct to his own conscience. The war was in its principles just, and was founded in good policy. The measures, though they had failed, were wisely planned, and must have succeeded, if they had been properly executed. he Earl of Effingham begged to know if there were any proofs wanting, to shew the total incapacity of ministers. Every measure they planned contained the fullest evidence of their insufficiency. He would not undertake to say who were the proper persons to succeed them. One rule however, for chusing ministers, he must adopt, which was, that they would be such men as were most likely to disclaim all subserviency, dependence and obedience to an invisible power. This invisible power was the great grievance to be provided against. This unconstitutional subserviency was the grand root of all the evils which have poured in upon us, since the commencement of the present reign. Whoever resisted this secret, concealed impulse, however able, was proscribed; whoever paid the desired obedience to it, however weak, ignorant, or incapable, was patronized and supported. To drag this secret, undermining !". into the face of day, ought to be the first great object. As long as that power was able to influence, and shift the responsibility annexed to the direction of the national councils, a change of men would avail nothing; the same influence would continue to produce similar measures. To destroy |. influence, it would

be first necessary to identify and detect it. This could never be the case, while the distinctions of an ostensive and efficient cabinet were preserved. He had heard a great deal of an efficient cabinet at the commencement of the present war. He had heard a noble and learned lord (Mansfield) acknowledge that he was once a member of that efficient cabinet, but had declined it for some years before. He had heard the same noble lord say, that we had passed the Rubicon, and could not retreat. He feared doctrines of this kind did not originate in their proper place; he presumed that they came to ministers but at second hand; he was, therefore, for tracing the effect to its true cause. The only expiation ministers could make to their country for the ruin they had brought upon it, was to disclose the authors of those measures; instead of sheltering themselves behind the name of the King at one time, and the parliament at another. This last part of so subject brought into his

memory another ground of exculpation, urged by ministers, who had repeatedly said they were not responsible, because the measures pursued were the measures of parliament. He looked upon himself specially bound never to permit this doctrine to pass unnoticed; he pledged himself that he would never endure such a ministerial apology to pass, without properly animadverting upon its fallacy. Parliament had been deluded, deceived, abused, and misled. Ministers had misinformed parliament all along; they had misrepresented the force we had to contend with: they had acted in like manner respecting our state of ability and preparation; they assured us, that France was not only pacific, but friendly, but even though she were not sincere, that we were prepared for the worst; and above all, they told us that America was beth weak and disunited, and that all we had to do, was to send a sufficient force to protect and put arms in the hands of the friends of government; consequently, let the fault originate where it may, in a junto, an efficient cabinet or private advice; none of those de

scriptions of men could shelter themselves

behind parliament. They were measures recommended to parliament, and adopted by it, upon assurances repeatedly given; if the facts contained in these assurances were false or ill-founded, those, and those only who gave them, or instructed ministers to give them, were responsible to parliament, and the people at large. Lord Ravensworth said the situation of the nation was to the last degree melancholy and alarming, and that whichever way we turned, almost insurmountable difficulties presented themselves. In such a critical moment of national calamity, there was but one measure left to save us, which was, that of removing those ministers who had been sufficiently convicted of every species of ignorance and violence. The Marquis of Rockingham asked, shall we attack France, and thereby draw on us the whole strength of the House of Bourbon united with America against us? Shall we desert our attempt on America, and leave the united states at full liberty to join with our foreign foes? Shall we leave our West-India islands and our northern fisheries to fall a prey to some one or all of these powers ? Or shall we, by protecting those places, leave the coasts of these kingdoms open to a foreign invasion ? If any one of those places were left unprotected and defenceless, the consequences

would be dreadful ; and still no noble lord resent, in or out of administration, would, }. hoped, venture to say, that we were at present in a state of strength and prearation to attend to those several objects. W. it a fair way of judging what we were equal to, by what we had already done 2 If that was to be the test, surely our situation was truly deplorable. What had we done, after three years exertion of our whole strength both by sea and land 2 We had been defeated, or baffled, which to us was equivalent to defeat. We had lost one army, and perhaps, in a few months might lose the other. But who had been our adversaries 2 A people who had been represented as poltroons and cowards. After reminding the King's servants of what he called their invincible obstinacy, in adhering to measures, the evil consequences of which had been so often foretold, he animadverted on what had, in his opinion, been so improperly called the Conciliatory Bills. The very day the motion was made by a noble lord in the other House, for leave to bring in the Bills, the noble duke near him (Grafton) reminded administration, that an hon. member in the same House (Mr. Fox) informed the minister, that this treaty had been signed the 6th of the same month ; and asked, if any one of the ministers had heard any thing of such a treaty On which the noble viscount, who now moved the Address, said he had not. Taking this answer either way, he contended, that ministers were equally to blame. If they knew the report to be true, what a farce was it to hold out terms to America, already united to France by treaty If they did not know of it, was it not the most unequivocal proof of their total incapacity ? America would laugh at the folly and flimsy cunning which dictated those Bills. The truth was, France and the colonies were in alliance. Nothing we could now do would be sufficient to break it, unless we declared America independent, and unless we held out advantages in commerce which would render our offers acceptable; and such too as she could not obtain from any other mation. A declaration of this É. might not, perhaps, repair our injured honour, but it would secure much more substantial benefits, He observed, that in the midst of the most glorious successes this or any other country ever experienced, when we had the two most powerful monarchies in Europe to contend with, nay, indeed, almost

all Europe; and when our success and territorial acquisitions increased in proportion to the number of our foes, and the formidableness of the resistance we met; in the very zenith of our naval glory and military victories, the main argument for making a peace was, the low price of our stocks, and the inability and ruinous expence of prosecuting a war carried on in so extensive a manner. What is the case now? Without an ally, baffled and defeated by a part of our own subjects; half exhausted, we are going to enter into a war with the same great powers, and that for an object impossible to be attained by the force of arms. Here his lordship computed the several sums borrowed for the three last years of the late war, which he said, were 12, 18, and 12 millions. The first of those years we borrowed at 4, the next at 4%, and the last at 5 per cent. ; whereas now before the battle is begun, and when we want to borrow only six millions, we are obliged to pay upwards of 5 per cent. This, he said, must shew all the living friends of the late peace the madness of going to war. The marquis ascribed every one of the disagreeable circumstances which pressed upon this country, to the ignorance, wilful inattention, or shameful servility to the instructions of those who dare not avow themselves of the ministry. France, whatever ministers pretended, or might still continue to pretend, acted her part without disguise, and it was evident that in her present notification she laughed at the British ministry. The Duke of IRichmond said he was astonished at the silence of ministers, one of whom had moved an Address, the consequences of which might involve the nation in ruin; yet had declined fo offer a single reason in its support. It imported nothing less than a declaration of war on our part; before their lordships, therefore, acceded to so hazardous a proposition, he thought it behoved ministers to inform the parliament and people, how far we were prepared for such an event; to acquaint their lordships with the state of our finances, the strength of our armies and fleets, the general resources in men and money, the number of our allies, and their ability to assist us. It was not because France had acted treacherously or unfairly; it was not because she had insulted us, and treated us with derision and contempt, that we should rush headlong on certain ruin; we should first look to the object, to attain which, we were about

to plunge ourselves into a war with the The notification of this treaty, made by united power of the House of Bourbon, the French ambassador, also had not one aided by a third part of our own subjects; angry word in it ; there was no necessity and follow it by another consideration, the for us, therefore, to commence a war; the possible consequences of miscarrying in the nation was in circumstances every way attempt, and bringing certain destruction unfit for such an undertaking, and if peace on our own heads. What, then, was the could be preserved without injury to the object? Most certainly the recovery of honour of Great Britain, it was an act of America. Would any one lord in admi. madness to go to war. Had he been to nistration rise and say, that there was the advise his Majesty, he certainly would most distant prospect of recalling Ame- have advised him merely to state the fact rica from her engagements with France ? to parliament, and not by any means to

In a choice of difficulties, what then was have done it in the language of passion. to be done? For his part, he would, in- As the matter stood, he thought the wisest stead of sending out commissioners to no way would be not to echo back the inespurpose, arm them with powers to declare sage, but in the Address merely to say, America independent, if they chose it. that their lordships were on all occasions This would be the only means to avoid a ready to support the honour and dignity war, in the first instance, with France ; of the crown. and the best method to secure the friend. The Bishop of Oxford (Dr. Robert ship and commerce of our colonies. For Lowth), after apologizing for a man of his to him two things appeared equally cer- profession taking part in a debate in which tain, which were, that all we could ever war was the subject, observed, that in anoexpect from America was a friendly alli- ther House of Parliament, his brethren ance, founded in reciprocal commercial had been said to have been clothed in advantages; and that, if we declared war, blood ; in answer to which remark, he which the present Address imported, Ame- should content himself with declaring, that rica would find herself bound by every tie the speaker of it was not eloquent in so and motive of honour, interest, and sound saying. His lordship spoke to the origin policy, faithfully to adhere to her engage- of the American war, and said, though rements with France, as being the cause of presentation and taxation had been denied that war. His grace condemned the lan- | to be correlative terms, he had, after maguage held by some lords, in throwing the ture thinking, found out a proposition that blame upon the generals and commanders was correlative, and that was taxation and in America. But such language was used protection; the former not to be paid as sparingly there, in comparison to the pains the price of the latter, but to be agreed to taken to circulate such opinions without as the means of enabling this country to doors. He said general Howe was a great afford the latter. and able officer; that the fault was not in The Earl of Coventry replied to the the execution, but the plans; and that he right rev. prelate, by reminding him of a had performed every service he was sent portion of Scripture, which recommends upon.

Ito a prince before he goes to war, to conHe took up the Message from the table; sider well both his own strength and that and after saying he should consider it as of his adversary; and if, by a comparison, the work of the minister, he read it, and he should find the scale preponderate objected very forcibly to the warmth of against him, then to do every thing in his the expressions, declaring, that in his opi- power to conciliate, and promote peace nion France had done nothing wrong in with the enemy. He begged that his coming into such a treaty as she had made lordship would make the application. with America. That she had patiently The Bishop of Oxford rose again, and waited from the 5th of July, 1776, to the thanked the noble earl for reminding him 6th of February, 1778, almost two years, of the resources of the kingdom, which he before she would come into any sort of declared he had in his head when he rose compact with America. That now she to speak, but from the suddenness of his had found it convenient and right to do it, speech they had escaped him in the course she had done it without excluding Great of it. Great Britain, he trusted, was not Britain from a share of the American com- without resources; he was sure, if the exmerce, and in such a manner that it was travagances of all ranks of people were renot a necessary consequence for a war to trenched, enough might be saved to carry ensue, unless Great Britain provoked one. on the war ; enough to build a fleet large

« ElőzőTovább »