« ElőzőTovább »
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 ines. purpose, 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.
to a prince before he goes to war, to con-, He 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
enough to protect this nation, might be gain the confidence of the people, without
honour. Above all things, he advised them
The Earl of Shelburne, after saying that do but to retire to his church, content the declaration delivered by the French himself with the parade that situation ambassador was of such a nature as to afforded, and lie snug till public matters render it almost impossible to avoid a war, having taken a different turn, and reasked how we were prepared for such an covered their former prosperous condition, event? Without fleets, without armies, it was safe for him again to step forward, without allies, and without resources, what and once more become the state pilot. was to be done ? Ministers had not a mo- His lordship said, he feared another proment to lose; they must instantly set fession in this country followed the same about adopting measures suited to the pre- idea, and practised exactly what the French sent exigency of affairs; they must not churchman had mentioned to him; he only get a sufficient force ready to begin meant the law. Were our judges solely the war, but by reviving the spirit of the employed in explaining the statutes, and constitution, by dropping every inferior, distributing justice in the courts below! petty, clerk-like system of government; Had no one of them busied himself more by rendering the operations and plans of in political projects than in the duties of the cabinet obvious, clear, and transparent, his profession? In his opinion, the office of so ibat all who run may read, they must re- judge was a most important one, and so
weighty was the duty, that no other avoca- | contents 84, proxies 16, total 100. As tion should be suffered to interfere with it ; soon as their lordships returned from below least of all, that of directing the helm of the bar, government. If judges could with safety Lord Ravensworth made some severe turn state Quixotes, and from motives of observations on the conduct of ministers, vanity, and the hopes of aggrandizing their in not offering a single syllable in support names, indulge themselves in mad schemes of the motion. He observed that there and absurd projects, till finding the ruin of was a very full and respectable bar; and their country to be in prospect, in conse- he doubted not but it would get out among quence of their politics, they thought it the body of the people, in what a connecessary to slip their necks out of the temptuous manner ministers had dared to collar, and retire to their courts, he should | treat the King's message. be one to say, that the Act which rendered Viscount Weymouth replied, that if this the judges no longer dependent on the censure was principally intended for him, crown, and which had been regarded as a he did not think himself nor any other lord praise-worthy statute, was the most per- in office in the least deserving of it. He nicious and fatal to the essential interests could, however, answer for himself, that of the people that ever passed in this his silence proceeded from no disrespect, country.' He affirmed, if such a traitorous but merely because he thought there was conduct was permitted to go unpunished, no occasion to support a measure by arguthe Act for rendering the judges indepen- ment or elucidation, which, from the tenor dent of the crown, instead of being the of the paper, became an act of necessity. greatest blessing to the nation, would prove The main question was then put on the its greatest curse ; because on a change of Address : Contents 68, Non-contents 25. administration such men might formerly be removed; whereas now they may retain The Lords' Address on the King's Mestheir places, unless some special delin- sage respecting the Treaty between France quency should be proved against them, and America.] The following is a Copy which was not always practicable.
of the Lords' Address : His lordship differed from the duke of “ Most gracious Sovereign, Richmond respecting the propriety of “We, your Majesty's most dutiful and preserving peace; declaring he thought, loyal subjects the Lords spiritual and circumstanced as we were, that war must temporal in parliament assembled, return be pursued. He said he would not cant, our humble thanks to your Majesty, for nor did he mean to preach to their lord- the communication of the Paper presented ships, for that was the office of the clergy; to the lord viscount Weymouth, by the not that he thought the right reverend order of the French king: and for aclord who had spoken in the present debate quainting us, that in consequence of this had given a good answer to the charge of offensive declaration, your Majesty has the bench being clothed in blood, by thought proper to order your ambassador preaching up a spirit of unanimity for war. to withdraw from the court of France ; The right reverend lord had mentioned and we beg leave to assure your Majesty, one species of resource; he would beg that it is with the utmost difficulty we can leave to recommend another, and that was restrain the strongest expressions of the to lop those drones of society, the church resentment and indignation which we feel benefices; he did not here allude to the for this unjust and unprovoked aggression bench, he meant only the golden prebends, on the honour of your Majesty's crown, and those church officers, who, having no and the essential interests of your king. parochial connection, lived a life of idle doms, contrary to the law of nations, and ness. He concluded with declaring that injurious to the rights and possessions of he was an advocate for peace, if it could be every sovereign power in Europe. procured with honour, which he did not • The good faith and uprightness of think possible. So far, however, was he your Majesty's conduct towards foreign from wishing to be thought an advocate powers, and the sincerity of your intenfor war, he would neither give his voté as tions to preserve the general tranquillity, an affirmative to the Address, nor as a ne- must be acknowledged by all the world ; gative for the Amendment.
and your Majesty cannot be considered The question was put on the duke of as responsible for the disturbance of this Manchester's amendment, when the Con- tranquillity, if you should find yourself tents were 34, proxies 2, total 36 ; Non-called upon to resist the enterprizes of that
restless and dangerous spirit of ambition knowledged by all the world: and your and aggrandizement, which has so often Majesty cannot be considered as responinvaded the rights, and threatened the li- sible for the disturbance of this tranquilberties of Europe.
lity, if you should find yourself call d upon “ We should be wanting in our duty to to resist the enterprizes of that restless and your Majesty and to ourselves, if we did dangerous spirit of anbition and asgrannot give your Majesty the strongest assur: dizement, which has so often invaded the ances of our most zealous assistance and rights, and threatened the liberties of support. Every sentiment of loyalty to Europe. your Majesty, and of love to our country, “ We should be wanting in our duty to will animate us to stand forth in the public your Majesty, to our constituents, and to defence, and to promote every measure ourselves, if we did not give your Majesty that shall be found necessary for enabling the strongest assurances of our most zeayour Majesty to vindicate the honour of lous assistance and support: and we have your crown, and to protect the just rights the firmest confidence, that, in every deand essential interests of these kingdoms." monstration of loyalty to your Majesty,
and of love of their country, your faithful The King's Answer.] His Majesty re- subjects will vie with each other; and that turned this Answer :
no considerations will divert or deter them “ My Lords,
from standing forth in the public defence, “ I thank you for this loyal and affec- and from sustaining, with a steady persetionate Address. Nothing shall be want- verance, any extraordinary burthens and ing on my part that may tend to the effec- expences which shall be found necessary, tual support of the just rights of my crown, for enabling your Majesty to vindicate the and the true interests of my people. These honour of your crown, and to protect the great and important considerations shall just rights and essential interests of these ever be the immediate object of my at- kingdoms.” tention."
Lord George Germain seconded the
motion, but said nothing else. Debate in the Commons on the King's Mr. Baker thought it was not sufficient Message respecting the Treaty between to say we were in this dilemma, which the France and America.] The Message French ambassador's paper told us; but being read, lord North rose and moved the enquiry should be made how we came into it: following Address of Thanks :
and moved the following Amendment, after “ Most gracious Sovereign,
these words “ assistance and support :" “We, your Majesty's most dutiful and“ hoping and trusting that his Majesty loyal subjects, the Commons of Great Bri. will be graciously pleased to remove from tain in parliament assembled, return our his counsels those persons in whom his humble thanks to your Majesty, for the people, from past experience, have reason communication of the Paper presented to not to repose confidence, in the present the lord viscount Weymouth, by the order momentous situation of public affairs.” of the French king; and for acquainting Sir George Yonge seconded the amendus, that in consequence of this offensive de- ment, and said, that nobody could feel more claration, your Majesty has thought proper than he did the general resentment at the to order your ambassador to withdraw daring insult offered us by the crown of from the court of France: and we beg France: that it ought to be resented, and the leave to assure your Majesty, that it is injury repelled; and he did not doubt we with the utmost difficulty we can restrain had strength and spirit to do it. But that the strongest expressions of the resent. he could not help at the same time lamentment and indignation which we feel for this ing the very distressing situation of public unjust and unprovoked aggression on the affairs, and the continued scenes of misconhonour of your Majesty's crown, and the duct, which he was convinced had encou. essential interests of your kingdoms, con- raged the House of Bourbon to offer this trary to the law of nations, and injurious to insult. That we should in vain offer the rights and possessions of every sove- support to his Majesty, if we did not at reign power in Europe.
the same time inform him of the incapa“ The good faith and uprightness of your city of those in whom he had trusted for Majesty's conduct towards foreign powers, the management of his affairs ; and the and the sincerity of your intentions to pre- little reason his people had to place any serve the general tranquillity, must be ac- confidence in them. That it was evidens
to all men, the French had from the begin- | a war, the most alarming that ever this ning fomented this American war. To country was threatened with.
That as put the matter out of doubt, the present experience would make it impossible for notification confessed that their connexion the nation to have any confidence in the with America took its date from the de- present ministers, after such repeated inclaration of independency in July, 1776; stances of folly, neglect, and incapacity, that it was plain a negociation had been the removal of them could alone realize carrying on ever since; that the servants any offers of support, and revive the of the crown ought to have known this; drooping spirit of the people; and that that he therefore concluded they did know he was convinced this single measure it; they were unfit to govern a great would cause more alarm to our enemies, country, if they did not; that, without from the apprehension of the probable vidwelling upon their having concealed and gour and wisdom of our counsels, when denied it, at least, they ought to have been trusted in abler hands, than all the warprepared for this event; that, instead of like preparations we might make, if dithis, the treaty, and the notification, ap- rected by the same imbecility which we peared to be a matter of as great surprise had hitherto experienced, and they had so to the ministers as to any body else. That well availed themselves of. their being unprepared for it had left the ashamed to see those ministers who had kingdom equally so; and exposed, naked, brought us into the disgrace of receiving and defenceless, after a disgraceful war such an insult, as that French paper was, with America, for three years, to the at should dare to be the people to lay it betacks of the united force of the House of fore parliament, and to tell the House Bourbon, without means to resist it. That that they were ready to carry on the war. our land forces were barely sufficient for Therefore he rose to second the Amendour defence, without any means to garri- ment, which expressed the sense of the son or strengthen our distant fortresses, nation. That these ministers ought first settlements, or dependencies: that our to be removed, before any step is taken. navy, at the utmost, consisted of no more The French would not have dared to offer than 30 or 35 sail of the line fit for ser- such an insult to any other ministry. vice : that twice that number was neces
Governor Pownall: sary for the various operations of war ; that we had not a ship in the Mediterra
I do not rise to defend ministers ; nean; so that Gibraltar and Minorca were the object of this day is much above all left unguarded : that we had none in the such considerations. I do not take into my East Indies, or in Africa, and but a weak estimation the pretensions of any set of force in the West Indies: that France had men; and as to the present ministers, by strengthened herself in all these parts; an examination of their past conduct, and, in short, all our dependencies were which is to come under consideration in a in imminent danger. That our credit was few days, we shall be better able to judge at the lowest ebb; and the people had no how far they are to be trusted for the fuconfidence in government: that the French ture. In the magnitude of this day's buknew all this; and were by these circum- siness, I will not mix, even in my ideas, any stances encouraged to offer us this insult : secondary objects. I am sorry that it has that the people knew it; and his Majesty entered into or makes any part of, the ideas ought to know it: that we best could in- of my hon. friend who spoke last, because, form his Majesty of the case of his people; as there is no man in the House for whom and the best time of doing it, was when I have a higher respect, so there is no one we were offering him our support; to ex- to whose sentiments I am more disposed, press our desire, that he would do the only on many occasions, to subscribe. But I thing which could make any support effec- see that some mistaken ideas of the state tual. That nothing could tend more to of this business has misled him. He thinks depress the spirit of the people, or encou- that this treaty has been under negociarage our enemies, than the notion, that tion (our ministers ignorant of it all the the same men who had so uniformly dis-while) for two years past. From an exact graced us, and degraded the honour of the narrative of the state of the business, he nation, as well as diminished and exposed will see that the very idea of such a treaty to danger, not only the dependencies, but has not been six months in existence; and the
very vital strength of this empire, were the actual negociation not more than three likely to be still further trusted to carry on months. As I never presume to assert (VOL. XIX. ]