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Debate in the Commons on the King's conquest of the East Indies. He asked, Message for a Vote of Credit.] May 5. whither is the spirit of England fled? Lord North presented the following Mes. Where is the wisdom that used to pervade sage from his Majesty :
her councils ? Where are the terrors gone “ GEORGE R.
with which she was wont to fill the bosoms “ His Majesty, relying on the experi. of those who dared to insult her? Britain, enced zeal and affection of his faithful he feared, was betrayed ; treachery and Commons, and considering that, in this corruption vied with each other to see critical juncture, emergencies may arise, which should first effect her downfall and which may be of the utmost importance, disgrace. He was remarkably severe upon and be attended with the most dangerous those who, he said, affected to fill the rank consequences, if proper means should not of ministers, and directly charged them be immediately applied to prevent or de with ignorance, laziness, incapacity, and feat them, is desirous, that this House will treachery; and lamented, that while our enable him to defray any extraordinary pageant shews and streamers were wantonexpences incurred, or to be incurred, on ing in the wind at Spithead, our glory was account of military services, for the service tarnishing; our coasts were insulted; and of the year 1778, and to take all such the British Hag for ever disgraced. measures as the exigency of affairs may Lord North hoped, that when the hon. require.”
gentleman knew the preparations that had Lord North moved, That the Message been made, and the care taken to protect be referred to the Committee of Supply. this country from invasion, he would not
Sir George Yonge considered it very so hastily condemn the ministry as trea. improper, in the present crisis of affairs, cherous and incapable. The utmost exto vote indefinite sums of money to an ad- ertions had been made ; and though do ministration so incapable of expending the fleet bad yet sailed to oppose the Toulon public revenue with economy and effect. squadron, that could not be properly laid He thought the emergencies ought to be to the charge of ministerial incapacity, ascertained to the House, the sums speci- since French had it at all times in their fied, and authentic documents laid upon power, by their mode of supply from their the table.
register, to man out a fleet sooner than Mr. Turner was of the same opinion : we had. the House ought to sit and vote the money Mr. Adam congratulated the nation on gradually, as the wants and occasions arose. the recovery, in some degree, of that
Mr. Townshend said, it was no secret, worthy spirit which had on so many occathat the Toulon squadron, consisting of 12 sions signalized the nation. The example ships of the line, and several others of in- in the hon. gentleman (Mr. Townshend) ferior force, had sailed from that port on shone so bright, that he hoped it would be the 13th of April, in order, as was supo followed. posed, to strike some decisive blow in the Mr. Pulteney begged the House to rewestern world. Yet what had been the con- member that the advice of the sailing of duct of administration ? To keep our fleet the Toulon fleet, came to the administraidle at home, or for no other purpose but tion on Monday the 27th ult. and no privy to be exhibited as a public spectacle, to council was summoned until the Wednesgratify the curiosity of those who were in- day following. The wind was fair for sail. clined to waste their time and money. He ing even till Saturday last, and the opporthen pointed out the very defenceless state tunity was neglected. of our several dependencies in North The motion was agreed to. America and the West Indies ; and said, he trembled for their fate. As soon as May 6. The House went into a Comministers had notice of the forwardness of mittee of Supply; in which a Vote of Crethis armament, they ought to have dis- dit to his Majesty of one million was patched a sufficient force to watch their moved. moțions, and have taken such a certain Mr. T. Townshend drew a picture of station as would have put it out of the our national defence, having, as he said, a power of D’Estaing to elude us, What militia without arms, who were gone to be was the case now? The feet was sailed ; encamped without tent equipage ; and a but whither, no man could tell ; whether navy, either not manned, or not victualled, to Halifax, the Delaware, Quebec, to at- but lying embayed at Spithead for the mere tack our West India islands, or to make a parade of a naval review, while the Toulon fleet had sailed on its expedition, which | House" that they had suddenly rushed might prove fatal to the distant settle- from backwardness to precipitation, from ments of the British empire. He enquired despondency to confidence, from checking whether we were actually at war or at the ardour of administration to a criminapeace with Spain, that she dared to insult tion of their inactivity.” But had not the our flag in her ports, and our commanders change of public affairs reconciled the conwere so degradingly treated by her, whilst sistency of these two lines of conduct? every attention was paid to the ships of our The first was between us and America, revolted provinces, and their captains sa- the latter between us and France, That luted with naval honours by the admiral at related to an offensive war against our Carliz? Was it the mere incapacity of ad- brethren ; this to a defensive one against ministration which tempted Spain to treat our natural enemy. Upon the whole, he us with such reproael? If it was; that would not oppose a grant which was for incapacity was as injurious to the nation such necessary purposes, but he appreas the blackest treachery. He asked if it hended it would be of little use, if the adwas possible for ministers to be awake, and ministration of affairs remained in the yet suffer the Toulon fleet to sail, without hands of men so flagrantly ignorant, and taking a single step to oppose them? so scandalously negligent as the present Could they call themselves ministers and servants of the crown. guardians of the nation's weal, and yet Mr. Penton assured the House, that confess that they had procured no intelli- we had a fleet ably equipped, and ready gence till Monday sen’night, of the depar- to sail when commanded. He denied that ture of that fleet on the 13th of April? the Spanish admiral had returned the saWas it from want of power to oppose lute of the rebel privateer, and said he had them, or from the same inauspicious fata- his information of the affair from no less lity which had banished every honest man an authority than captain Rowley himself. from the councils of his Majesty ? Was He vindicated the ministry respecting the our navy a mere pageant fleet, or was it Whitehaven affair. Such attacks had been equal to actual service ? Was it victualled made in the most active administrations, and manned, or was it yet to be equipped ? of which the descent of M. Thurot upon Did the registry of seamen in France give Carrickfergus in the north of Ireland, her an advantage over us in the speedy during the last war, was a recent instance. equipment of her navy? Was this ne. Every thing that could be done on that ver known till that day? Were we so ig- occasion, had been instantly put in exenorant of this advantage, that'no exertions cution. Four ships of force were disshould be made to guard against it? patched in different courses, in search of Where was now the boasted respectability the privateer, and would, he hoped, be of our navy? Were we to trace it in the soon able to give some account of her. pillages suffered on our coasts, or the On being asked by sie G. Yonge, if the alarms and terror into which so many feet at Spithead had received any orders parts of the kingdom had been lately for sailing, he declined giving an answer thrown, by invading insolence? But the to that question, unless called upon by the plundering a nobleman's house, the ravag- House. ing a few estates, or burning an odd town, Mr. Fox asked the House, if any man were not perhaps objects to challenge the in his senses would give a vote of credit vigour of our fleets! The spirit of the mi- to an administration, who were always the Jitia was certainly great. The ardour of last to learn what they should be the first the first men in the kingdom, and the ge- to know? An administration who could be nerous alacrity of persons of every condi- so insensible of the sudden emergencies of tion to enter into that constitutional such times as these, that, when official adbody, left us little apprehension for vice came of an event almost universally our internal defence; but in this, as in understood for several days before, not every other instance of the conduct of go- more than one of them could be found in vernment, there were many evident neg. town; their amusements had engrossed lects. The delay in calling them out, and their attention ; nor could a sufficient numthe want of tents and arms, left them even ber be procured for holding a council till yet unequal to the duties of essential ser- the hour of debate was lost? Who, then, vice. He appealed to the House on the could support such ministers? Who could validity of the charge of government be extravagant enough to trust them with against gentlemen on his side of the the expenditure of a single shilling?
Lord George Germain acknowledged French squadron, and, if not too late, to that appearances were against the minis- prevent the destruction of our navy and try; but appearances were not to justify a army in America. condemnation ; a full enquiry into the cir- Lord George Germain complained that cumstances might place their case in a his words were not fairly interpreted: he different light. For his part, he was ready wished, indeed, that the orders of council to meet every scrutiny, and wished punish- could have been sooner dispatched to Spitment to fall where it was deserved. When head, but he had not expressed a single the dispatches arrived he took the speediest idea of despondency. The navy was now means to convene the ministers from the in a formidable state, and was every day country, where some of them were. From increasing in strength and numbers, suffithe time of their arrival the greatest ex- cient to warrant the fairest hopes. If mipedition had been used by him, in sending nisters had been disposed to trust the dethe orders of council to the proper officers fence of this kingdom to the militia, much at Spithead; but misfortunes were not al- as the fleet might be wanted at home, a ways to be avoided. He hoped, he hear- number of ships might have been sent tily wished, our affairs might take a hap- abroad. The painful pre-eminence of ofpier turn; and concluded by urging, that fice at such a time was little to be envied; it would have been imprudent to have dis- for his part, if any gentleman of talents patched after count D'Estaing a fleet in- and inclination to serve his country wish. tended for our home defence before we ed to come into his place, he was ready knew the destination of his fleet.
to resign it. Mr. For then begged the attention of Mr. Burke said, it was idle to pretend the House to a resolution which he had that the destination of the Toulon fleet lately moved in the Committee on the had been so long a secret, or that it was State of the Nation, “ That the navy in criminal if true. American pilots had its present state is inadequate to the de- been long engaged to conduct it. We fence of the empire.” Ministers then had lost the advantage of the wind, which posed it by assertions and votes, but they blew to the west during the month of now confirmed it in argument and action; April, and that by the crime of ministers; for the noble lord admitted that a fleet were we therefore to give our purse strings should have been ordered out for our ex- to their will, and retire in confidence to ternal protection if our internal defence cultivate our gardens, smooth our lawns, could have permitted it. He asserted, and assume the little offices of rustic mathat a fleet might have been spared from gistracy? Could we trust the sole gui. the immediate protection of our coasts, as dance of the ship of the state to pilots
, he was confident our militia and army whom we have so lately detected in the would be fully sufficient to repel any fo- basest torpor, whilst the danger threatreign invader: there were ample resources ened—who had left her to the mercy of in the present spirit of the nation to mock the waves, quitting the decks in the moevery menace of invasion. With such a ment that called for all their skill and acdependence, how was it possible to esti- tivity-who were not to be found when mate the guilt of ministers who could the squall came on. Alas! the rudder tamely suffer an hostile squadron to carry was lashed, and Palinurus gone to sleep! unmolested destruction to the British army He concluded by lamenting
that his coun. in America ? The disgrace of a Burgoyne try should be reduced to the poor dewas, it seemed, to be atoned by the defeat pendence of hopes and prayers, ihe arms of a Howe, and the want of information, of old women; and that a British minister, respecting the Franco-American treaty, instead of acting the statesman, and timely was compensated in the ignorance of exerting the strength of the nation, should D'Estaing's sailing and destination. Was dwindle into a priest, and piously offer up there any thing more wanted to seal the his prayers for the salvation of his country. fatal character of the present inauspicious Sir Edward Astley would not give bis ministry? Or could they any longer hope assent to the vote of credit. He asked to be trusted with the treasures of a nation whether government were sure of the althey had so shamefully betrayed, and of legiance of Canada ? and whether they had whose situation the noble lord himself not received accounts that they were preseemed to entertain such little confidence ? paring to revolt; had desired to be ad· He wished to know whether a fleet bad mitted into the league with the thirteen even yet been ordered to sail after the united colonies, and had solicited the mar.
quis de la Fayette to assist them in their , in enforcing, yet suffered such intolerable requisition?
penalties and disqualifications to stand Governor Pownall entered into the in- against them on the statutes. A late loyal structions given to the commissioners gone and excellent Address, * which they had over to America. He said, the Americans would never admit of the controul of par- * On the 1st of May, 1778, the following liament; that their assent thereto would Address of the Roman Catholic Peers and only be an act of political delusion; and Commoners of Great Britain, was presented to therefore, if it was not too late, he recom
his Majesty by the earl of Surry, and the right mended that the commissioners might be hon. the lords Linton and Petre, and was most instructed to acknowledge their indepen- graciously received. dence; and to restore peace, the only “ To the King's most excellent Majesty. desirable object with Great Britain, to
• The humble Address of the Roman Catho. enter into treaties with them, commercial, Jic Peers and Commoners of Great Bri. offensive, and defensive.
tain. Mr. Turner observed, that the hon. gen. “ Most gracious Sovereign ; tleman who spoke last had not said one “We, your Majesty's dutiful and loyal sube word to the question; he should content jects, the Roman Catholic peers and comhimself with three, and those should be to moners of your kingdom of Great Britain, the point; he would not vote a shilling of most humbly hope, that it cannot be offensive his constituents' money, in support of the
to the clemency of your Majesty's nature, or measures at present adopted.
to the maxims of your just and wise govern. The motion was agreed to.
ment, that any part of your subjects should approach your royal presence to assure your
Majesty of the respectful affection which they Debate in the Commons on Sir George bear to your person, and their true attachment Savile's Bill for the Relief of the Roman to the civil constitution of their country; Catholics.] May 14. Sir George Savile which having been perpetuated through all moved for leave to bring in a Bill for re- changes of religious opinions and establishlieving his Majesty's Roman Catholic sub- ments, has been at length perfected by that jects, from certain penalties and disabili- illustrious house on the throne of these king
revolution which has placed your Majesty's lies imposed on them by the Act of the doms, and inseparably united your title to the 11th and 12th of William 3, intituled, crown, with the laws and liberties of your • An Act for the further preventing the people. • growth of Popery. He stated, that "Our exclusion from many of the benefits one of his principal views in proposing this of that constitution, bas not diminished our repeal was, to vindicate the honour, and to reverence to it. We behold, with satisfaction, assert the principles of the Protestant reli- the felicity of our fellow-subjects, and we para gion, to which all persecution was, or
take of the general prosperity wbich results ought to be, wholly adverse. That this from an institution so full of wisdom. We
bave patiently submitted to such restrictions pure religion ought not to have had an
and discouragements as the legislature thought existence, if persecution had been lawful ; expedient. We have thankfully received such and it ill became us to practise that with relaxations of the rigour of the laws, as the which we reproached others. That he did mildness of an enlightened age, and the benignot meddle with the vast body of that nity of your Majesty's government, bave grapenal code; but selected that Act, on dually produced : and we submissively wait, which he found most of the prosecutions without presuining to suggest either iime or had been formed, and which gave the measure, for such other indulgence as those greatest scope to the base views of inter-bappy causes cannot fail, in their own season,
to effect. ested relations, and of informers for re- We beg leave to assure your Majesty, ward. The Act had not indeed been re- that our dissent from the legal establishment, gularly put in execution, but sometimes it | in matters of religion, is purely conscientious ; had ; and he understood that several lived that we hold no opinions adverse to your Maunder great terror, and some under actual jesty's governmeni, or repugnant to the duties contribution, in consequence of the powers
of good citizens. And, we trust, that this has given by it. As an inducement to the re
been shewn more decisively by our irreproach
able conduct for many years past, under cirpeal of those penalties, which were directed with such a violence of severity against pleasure, than it can be manifested by any de
cumstances of public discountenance and disPapists, he stated the peaceable and loyal claration whatever. behaviour of that part of the people under “ In a time of public danger, when your a government, which, though not rigorous Majesty's subjects can bave but one interest, [ VOL. XIX.)
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presented to the throne, stood high among other relation's estate, during the life of the instances which sir George pointed the real proprietor.–And, the depriving out, of the safety, and the good conse of Papists from the power of acquiring any quences, which were likely to attend this legal property by purchase ; a word which, liberal procedure of parliament. He ob- in its legal meaning, carried a much greater served, that in that Address they noť only latitude than was understood (and that expressed their obedience to the govern- perhaps happily) in its ordinary acceptament under wñich they lived, but their at- tion; for it applied to all legal property tachment to the constitution upon which acquired by any other means than that of the civil rights of this country have been descent.—These, he said, were the objects established by the Revolution, and which of the proposed repeal. Some of them placed the present family upon the throne had now ceased to be necessary, and of these kingdoms. As a further guard others were at all times a disgrace to hu. and security, however, against any possible manity. The imprisonment of a Popish consequence of the measure, he proposed priest for life, only for officiating in the that a sufficient test might be formed, by services of his religion, was horrible in its which they should bind themselves to the nature; and must, to an Englishman, be support of the civil government by law es- ever held as infinitely worse than death. tablished.
Such a law, in times of so great liberality Mr. Dunning seconded the motion, and as the present, and when so little was so went into a legal discussion of the princi- be apprehended from these people, called ple, objects, and past operation, of the Bill loudly for repeal; and he begged to rewhich was intended to be repealed. The mind the Ilouse, that even then they following he stated as the great and griev. would not be left at liberty to exercise ous penalties. The punishment of Popish their functions ; but would still, under the priests or Jesuits, who should be found to restriction of former laws, be liable to a teach or officiate in the services of that year's imprisonment, and to the punishchurch ; which acts were felony in fo- ment of a heavy fine. The mildness of reigners, and high treason in the natives of government had hitherto softened the rithis kingdom. The forfeitures of Popish gour of the law in the practice, but it was heirs, who had received their education to be considered that the Roman Catholic abroad, and whose estates went to the next priests were still left at the mercy of the Protestant heir.—The power given to the lowest and basest of mankind; for on the son or other nearest relation, being a Pro complaint of any informing constable, the testant, to take possession of the father, or magisterial and judicial powers were bound
to enforce all the shameful penalties of the and ought to have but one wish, and one senti, held out by it, to those children who were
Act. With respect to the encouragement ment, we humbly hope it will not be deemed base enough to lay their hands on the improper to assure your Majesty of our upre. served affection to your government, of our
estates of their parents, or which debarred unalterable attachment to the cause and wel. a man from the honest acquisition of profare of tbis our common country, and our inter perty; it needed only to be mentioned in detestation of the designs and views of any order to excite the indignation of the foreign power against the dignity of your Ma. | House. jesty's crown, the safety and tranquillity of
Mr. Attorney General Thurlow declared your Majesty's subjects. “The delicacy of our situation is such, that but he divided its object into four heads, and
he had no intention of opposing the Bill; vre do not presume to point out the particular wished that the House would not go into the means by which we may be allowed to testify ou zeal to your Majesty, and onr wishes to
consideration of repealing this or that observe our country; but we intreat leave, triiba- noxious clause in this or that Bill; but fully to assure your Majesty, that we shall be that it would take up the principle upon perfectly ready, on every occasion, to give which the laws on each head were enactsuch proofs of our fidelity, and the purity of ed, and so modify the indulgence to be our intentions, as your Majesty's wisdom, and given the Roman Catholics, as not to lose the sense of the nation, shall ai any time deem sight of the civil objects for which they expedient.” The above Address was signed by the duke
The first proposition, he of Norfolk, the lords Sorry and Shrewsbury, said, was the preaching and teaching of Linton for the Scotti, Stourton, Peire, Arun | priests; the second, the education of del, Dormer, Teynbam, Clifford, and 163 children abroad; for this was different
from the teaching meant in the first pro