Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

such measures, and may justify them in adopting such. Although it might have been wisdom, prudence, and good policy, to have taken up, of their own motion, this measure; yet perhaps they would not have been so well justified in it as they will now be. As to the apprehensions and fears, almost to the despairing of our safety, which my hon. friend has expressed; I own I do not feel these fears; and, with the leave of the House, I will tell him. the reason. I shall say nothing to the state of our force or defence in Europe; I will speak only to that part which it was once my business to understand. The share I had last war in the plans, as well as execution of the measures in America, give me some right to so with confidence; and I shall speak out without reserve. Those who never knew, or those who have forgotten my services, may see all that I say, and perhaps more, justified, by referring to the Secretary of State's office, or the Board of Trade. Having lost those provinces which experience hath shewn we could neither govern, nor subdue, nor consequently maintain ourselves in, by the system we had adopted; I think, instead of being weaker, we may become the stronger, by the event. If we take such part of the troops as we have now in America, and so place them in Canada and Nova Scotia as to put those provinces out of insult, at least out of danger, we may certainly secure that point; and there can be no excuse if we do not do it. We shall be able to maintain ourselves in those parts of the dominion which we do possess, and can govern. The rest of the troops there, which are now employed to no effect, may be so much additional effective strength, which may be employed either offensively in the West Indies, or brought home for our defence here. The having lost the provinces on the continent, will become a more urgent motive to keep good guard over those of the isles. The ministers now will have it in their power to send a proper defence to the West Indies; and they will become the safer by our losses in other parts. The great fleet, which seems at present totally useless and unemployed, may be so disposed, that part of it may be stationed to cover and defend the sea-line of our provinces, Nova Scotia and Canada and the fisheries; another part may be sent to strengthen our squadrons in the

West Indies; while a third part should be formed in a squadron, consisting of frigates, sloops of war, and armed vessels, and stationed about the Bahamas, so as to command and protect the débouchement of our West India navigation; with orders to join either the North American or West India squadron, as the case may require. I say, Sir, taking up and concluding our American negociations wisely; allowing facts to be facts; and concluding a peace with the Americans as independent states; and then disposing of our fleets and armies in America, in some such arrangement as I have mentioned; we shall not only be out of all fear of the French, but we shall begin to find, that we have a more collected, stronger, and effective force, than ever we could have had under our former circumstances, and under our former system of administering them. In this confidence, therefore, passing by all idea of who are, or who should be, our ministers, which I am totally against mixing in this day’s business; I am for the Address proposed, in every sense and feeling of the resentment it expresses. Mr. Conolly said, he got up to state the dangerous and †. state of Ireland; and called upon the House to give their attention to that injured but yet faithful country. That when he spoke of the fidelity and loyalty of that country, and of its attachment to Great Britain, he must confine himself chiefly to the Protestants there; but that these Protestants, without assistance from hence, were so far from being able to give aid to this country, that perhaps they were not able to defend themselves. That upon a late very exact numeration of the people in Ireland, there were found to be 2,120,231; of which the Protestants were 677,804. That these Protestants were chiefly in the northern parts of Ireland. That in the southern provinces, should the French land any force that looked like being serious, or could be depended upon, there were at least 150,000 ready to join them. Mr. Mellish. I must declare myself under an anxiety I never before have felt; ignorant of our real situation, ignorant of ministerial information; but determined to give my opinion on his Majesty’s message according to the information before me. I little expected to have seen the time, when this House would tamely have submitted to the insolence of the House of Bourbon. Sir, this is a declaration of war, intended as such, and ought to be an

[ocr errors][merged small]

owered by us in the same stile. The Ad- | That, without entering into the question,
dress moved by the noble lord appears to how far ministers were or were not capa-
me to be framed in the office of a secretary | ble ? he thought it always a dangerous
of state, and not in that of the minister. experiment to change a ministry on the
It seems calculated for negociation, where begiuning of a'war.
France intended no negociation; and, | Mr. Thomas Pitt lamented the baneful
consequently, where we should give a influence which had for a long time per-
forinal defiance to this insult. He then vaded, and still continued to prevail over
argued much on the weakness of France; the councils of this great country.
said that we could borrow the principal Mr. Jenkinson. However fate may have
sum, where they could get only the in- disposed the events of this war, it is on the
terest : in short, that we could raise six ground, aad in the principles by which it'
millions, where all the accuracy even of became' necessary, a just war. There
French financiering could scarce get never was, on the most popular" plan of
330,0006. from the people. That the no. government, a doubt, but that every part
bility and gentry not in the army were of the state should bear its share of the
against the war; the people detested it; barthen of the state, as it shared in the
and none but the arıny wished it. That protection. Altliough the Americans did
their army, though great and respectable; not deny this; yet when they insisted that
had their enemies; perhaps Bavaria alone they ought not to pay any taxes towards
might employ them. That their navy the support of government, but what they
made more figure on paper than at sea'; paid in the profits which we derived front
and he did not doubt we should give as the monopoly of their commerce, they did
good an account of them as we had for- absolutely refuse to pay in the way of tax
merly done. That as to America, he re- or contribution; when this ground failed
membered what a learned gentleman bad them, and they took the use of reasoning
observed some years ago; that there never that this government had no right to tax
was a revolution in which one fifth of the them for those purposes, and put their re.
people were engaged: that the American sistance on ground that denied the sove-
army might have silenced the opinions of reignty of the crown and the supremacy of
the more quiet men; but it was by no the whole government, and set themselves'
means a proof that we had no friends in in array to oppose' those legal methods by
America; and that he did not doubt, which government had a right to enforce
when the conciliatory Bills reached them, I its authority and laws; then they went
we should have more; and still more, into direct rebellion, and this war on the
when the inhabitants found their governors part of this country, was a just war.
were giving them up to France. That'he When the country which felt itself almost
never called the Americans' cowards; nor sinking under the burthen of taxes which
did he ever think them so ; neither did he lay upon it, found those Americans (in
think them so brave as to wish to en- bringing up and protection of whom, they
counter unnecessary difficulties. That all had in two successive' wars incurred such..
men were equally brave; in proportion' to enormous 'expences) would not only not
their military education: that therefore pay any thing in aid, but ungratefully de-
Americans had one advantage, as a mi- nied, that we had done any thing on their
litia, over most nations, that they were account, or that they had any obligation
instructed from children in the use of the to us' for what we had done that they
firelock. That he trusted their sense now disdained our protection'; and even
would shew them the advantage of an ac- refused to give' quarter or shelter to the
commodation with us. That when he troops that the King sent there for their
heard some gentlemen propose the inde- protection, and the maintenance of his
pendency of the colonies, though he dif- dominions; that they refused all inter..
fered totally, he still did not say it ought not course with us ; prohibited our commerce,
to be a subject of argument in the House and finally plundered our merchants acting
But that the House of Bourbon should under our laws, and not contrary to any
dare to talk to this nation of the indepen- which they pretended to have. Then the
dency of our colonies, was what a British apprehension of the merchant was first
House of Commons' would not formerly alarmed'; then the manufacturer was at
have borne. He was therefore dissatis last, though slowly, provoked. The coun-
fied with the motion of the noble lord, as trý would no longer sit tamely to bear -
negociating, not answering the insult: the insult'; al degrées of people arose in
(VOL. XIX. ]

[3 P]

11

one unanimous resentment, and the war became a popular war: and therefore, Sir, I say this war with America was a just, and has been a popular war. Why it has not been a successful one, I will not now take upon me to say. The want of success, and the length of its continuance, has at last brought upon us the insults and meditated attacks of our enemies, the French, who are become their allies. And it seems as if it was the duty of a good man, who loves his country, to paint our affairs (become thus indeed perplexed) as though they were desperate, and that we had not even the means of defence left to resist any attack which the enemy might make upon us here at our own doors. The force that we have in Britain has been represented as nothing. Now, Sir, I may venture to affirm, on certain authority, that, exclusive of officers and serjeants, we have now in Britain 17,300 effective men, rank and file. As to the state of our funds, the fall is not so great, as the means used by our enemies abroad, and our interested enemies at home, to sink them, ought to have made them. The time was critical and perilous. There was a call in more couf?tries than ours for money on loan: greater calls were still expected; the very paper on your table would not have been presented at this very moment, had it not been the moment in which the French politicians and their advisers thought it would most affect the present loan. Instead of that effect, it has shewn the relative strength of our credit. The loan has even risen to-day ; and I understand the first payment will be made. But, Sir, credit, which is nothing but opinion, must from its nature be estimated as relative ; having no absolute basis but trust. The question is not, whether I shall trust or not; but whom I had best trust. In this view of it, which is the real one, all the monied world had rather trust Great Britain, than any other power whatever. While interested and party people decry our credit, look at that of France. The French could not borrow above one million, and that loan is now 20 per cent under par. France, even in time of peace, has not been able to go on upon her peace

establishment; and yet, under these cir

cumstances, she has a marine to raise and form. In short, Sir, to speak out; it is not our credit alone, it is not the French credit, so much more than ours, that is sinking. This phantom of credit, whose

whole foundation is trust and opinion, and which, by a mutual concurrence of that opinion and trust, has created funds, and become as money to the great trading maritime powers of Europe for so long a time, has now at last almost spent itself in its operation; and the great politicians of the world begin to look only to real force, supplied with real money; while the efficiency of the great maritime powers who have made their exertions on credit is

every where at the highest pitch to which

it can go, and will every day decline. The great military powers in the interior parts of Europe, who have amassed together great treasures, and have modelled their subjects into great armies, will in the next and succeeding period of time, become the predominant powers. France and Great Britain, which have been the first and second rate powers of the European world, will perhaps for the future be but of the third and fourth rate. But it is not in the sinking of credit only that France is distressed: the spirit of free enquiry, and the effects of an extended commerce, have introduced a spirit among the French people that is wholly incompatible with their government. Contrary to all precedent, contrary to all ideas of that government; a reasoning has propagated, and even entered into some of the lines of business, that the vingtieme is a don gratuit, and that every individual has a right to judge of it. Besides this; one bad effect of the zeal with which they affected to take up the American cause, and which they now learn in earnest to have an affection for, has tainted their principles with the spirit of republicanism. These principles of liberty always diminish the force of government; and if they take root and grow up in France, we shall see that government as distracted and unsettled as any other. I do not, therefore, think we have much to fear from France. We may repose ourselves on the superior credit and actual strength of our own government, and ought not to suffer any insult to go unresented. General Conway began by expressing the resentment he felt as a Briton, at the treatment we had received from France; and was sorry to see the state of humiliation this country must be in, when any nation had dared to conceive the idea of delivering such an insult. With regard to the danger that had been expressed we were in, from an invasion, and our defenceless state to repel any such, he did not see the case so dangerous as people had represented. He owned that Ireland was in a defenceless state ; but he thought it impossible for ministers to see, and not take immediate care to provide a remedy. As to England, he had not the same apprehensions; for we had, including the militia, 33,000 troops with which we could take the field. Besides which, he did not doubt, but that when our country was invaded, our rights and liberties attacked, every individual would show the same spirit that the Americans had done: and he thought that a pretty strong proof how impracticable a thing it was to invade a free country, while the spirit of liberty remained in it; but though this was his idea respecting an invasion, he did not see that we were in a situation to carry on such a war as that we were now threatened with. What troops we had were mostly lost in a service where they could do no good: we had no allies to add to our own forces; and in this situation the force of the whole House of Bourbon was now united to the power of America. When we look back to the advantages which we derived from that force last war, was there a man upon earth who could think it possible, now that force was against us, that we could ever shew our face, or appear upon the seas? That our trade must be totally undone: that in short, there remained nothing for us but to try to regain the Americans. There was no other measure we could possibly take, but to immediately adopt the proposal thrown out by governor Pownall, who had proved to demonstration that there was no other method of having peace with America, but acknowledging them to be what they really were, and what they were determined to remain, independent states; and making an alliance with them as such. That peace with America was absolutely necessary; and every other idea of peace was only deceiving ourselves, and exposing the public to a hazard that must end in disappointment, if not ruin, to this country. That he thought he saw in the House a secret conviction of the truth and necessity of this proposition, which he hoped their good sense would ripen into some act on the present occasion; for if it did not, the opportunity would be lost; and we should be at last obliged to come into that from necessity, which we might now make some merit of. That he always thought, as things were suffered to go on, that this would be the ground on which we must make peace atlast; and he had receiv

ed great comfort from the proofs that the hon. gentleman had given that that ground was still open to us. And indeed, as a further proof, that gentleman had communicated to him, since he spoke, a matter that did absolutely confirm it; which was, that he had seen a letter of Dr. Franklin's, shewn to him by the person to whom it was written, since the signing the treaty between France and America; wherein he said, that if Great Britain would give up the idea of supremacy, and treat with the Americans as independent states, she might yet have peace with America. If that peace was necessary, as . body must see it was, what had we to do, but immediately to take up the idea that had been so fairly thrown out? Lord North repeated his opinion relative to a resignation of his employments; and as the interest of the empire, no less than his own pride, required his continuance in office, he was determined not to quit the helm while the ship of the state was tossed about in a storm, until he should have brought her safe into port. He could not see any great foundation for the present alarms: # the stocks were now low, it was merely the effect of a sudden panic, the general concomitant of a dread of war. Since he had come into the House, he had received intelligence that the first payment of the subscription to the new loan had been made: the seeming backwardness to fill the loan was to be attributed to the largeness of the national debt, rather than to the approach of a war. Great Britain had always been so punctual in the payment of interest, that she never could want money. The dread of an invasion was a mere bugbear; and though such a thing were to take place, the nation had very little reason to be apprehensive for the consequences. Our navy never was, at the commencement of a war, in such a flourishing condition as at present; the new levies were almost completed, and would, together with old troops at home, form a body of 30,000 men for the defence of the kingdom. That the public might be the more at ease with regard to an invasion, his Majesty had resolved to have recourse to that constitutional measure, and call out and embody the militia. The insult offered by France was of the most disgraceful nature; his Majesty, in resentment, had recalled lord Stormont, his ambassador at Versailles; and as he knew that the honour of the nation was dear to every gentleman, so he trusted that

there was not a man who would not risk he did not now mean to arraign the conhis life and fortune to wipe off the stain duct of the poble lord, who must, hov. that it had received; and that, consequent-ever, allow him to say that his administra. Jy, no one would refuse to agree to the tion had been at least unfortunate. That Address.

he and his friends had had the manageColonel Barré said, if the noble lord had ment of the American war for three years; been a pensioner of France, he could not which had produced nothing but a series have acted more for the French interest of disappointments and disasters ; plainly than he had done. He recapitulated the shewing them not to be a match for Ameseveral Acts brought in by bis lordship rica alone. How, then, would they resist against the Americans. Each minister, he the power of France, added to that of said, had been guilty in his different de. America ? That war, under those circumpartment, but the noble lord had been stances, would be a state of despair. That, guilty in all.

therefore, at so critical a moment, he Governor Johnstone observed, that he could not belp imploring the interposition always had been, and still was, against the of the noble earl be had alluded to. That independence of America. He always the noble earl was not only looked up to saw it in the light of imaginations and by this country, but was so feared, as well visions, which gentlemen here were pleased as respected, by every foreign court in to amuse themselves with. It was not the Europe, that his very name would more idea of America herself. He was ex- contribute to put a stop to the hostile tremely sorry to see the idea adopted by designs of the whole House of Bourbon, gentlemen with whom he had acted ; that than all the mighty preparations we had if he found he had been acting with gen- | lately heard so much boasted of; or any, tlemen who were ready to give up the that, he feared, the present condition of supremacy of this country over America, | this country was able to make. and to acknowledge the independency of The House divided upon the AmendAmerica, he would sooner cross the floor, ment: Yeas 113; Noe$ 263. The Adand join those ministers, whose measures dress was then agreed to. he had always disapproved, than continue to act with those who were entailing ruin The King's Answer to the Coumons' upon this country.

Address.] His Majesty returned this Mr. Henry Dundas said, if there was no Answer : other help for it, and nothing else could be “ Gentlemen ; done, he should rather wish for the propo- ! " I return you my hearty thanks, for sition thrown out by the hon. governor of this very dutiful and affectionate Address. forming a fæderal union, than losing Ame- I make no doubt, that, assisted by the adrica totally, or letting her fall into the vice of my parliament, and supported by hands of France. He did not chuse to the spirit of my people, I shall, under the part with America as an enemy. But as Divine Providence, be enabled to repel that time was not yet come, every mea. I every insult on the honour of my crown, sure should be tried first ; and if it was un to maintain the rights of my subjects, and avoidable, we could but acquiesce in what to defend all my dominions." we could not prevent.

Sir George Yonge said, Very well! you Debate on Mr. Fox's Motion relative to mean to come to that at last; and you now the Fuilure of the Expedition from Calet us see you mean it.

nada.) March 19. "The House went Mr. Aubrey said, that since the noble into a Committee on the State of the Na. lord in the blue ribbon had so strongly tion. The subject was the expedition expressed his desire of retiring, which, it from Canada. The papers being read, seemed, the dread alone of his successor's ! Mr. Fox rose. He stated the plan of causing confusion in ihe state prevented the expedition as wrong and impracticable ; him from, he begged leave to remind bis not being directed to any point, nor in any lordship, that there was one great states sense the right way. Though the miman, at least, (lord Chatham), who had nister of the American department (lord neither forced the cabinet, nor ever scram. G. Germain) might say, and he understood bled for a place, but who had once already did say, that he took the idea and the plan conducted our public affairs with the per- from general Burgoyne; yet he affirmed fect unanimity of the two Houses, as well the contrary. The plan was not general as with that of the nation at large. That Burgoyne's ; it differed from general

« ElőzőTovább »