Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]

on other parts of the Continent. With respect to the propriety of our having field fortifications, hc however could not see it to the extent which had been mentioned by the hon. • Gentleman; but in that particular he confessed that he was not as capable of judging of the propriety of military plans as the hon. Genueman was of designing them. And as to the situation of our nayal arsenals, he imagined that no per. son could, in any the lightest degree, mistake the hon. Genoleman, at least in such a manner as to suppose that, when he spoke of the means of their defence, he meant to convey an idea that they were totally defenceless, and that they required' something like the plan which he had suggested to make them capabie of making any stand at all against an enemy. No; he conceived that the hon. Genileman muft mean 10. warn us, left we should be led away by a groundless hope, by a false idea of honour; not that we thould be parfimonious, and avoid building fortifications on account of the expence, for no man could be so filly as to suppose, that Government would for a moinenı hesitate about the cost in an object of such great, such national importance, but that we should not be lavish of the blood of Englishmen; that we thould not waste the bravery and the lives of our countrymen, in a man er that would be avoided by a little previous trouble and expence. When speaking of the defence of our coafts also, it was posible, though in a diftant degree, that the hon. Gentleman might be liable to be misunderstood. He had said that some parts of our coasts were more convenient or more affailable than others, and expressed a wish that the former Thould be defeoded by fortification ; but it most certainly could never be the opinion of the hon. Gentleman, that we were to fortify an exteni of fifty miles of coast without any intervention; no, the hon. Gentleman knew there were many points, many distances of our coaft that were for miles together fortified by nature in such a manner as to preclude the neceflity of any artificial forrification whatever. But there were many points at which we might, at a very finall expence, very confiderably im. prove the strength of our frontier. There were two objects 1o be taken into consideration in attending to the ob'ervations of the hon. Gentleman : the one was, i hat we might collect cur forces in such a compact manner as almoft io erfure the safety of particular places; the other was, that we pould pot fritter i hem away by spreading them too wide, or ir detached bodies, without forming a proper train of con

nexion to draw them together at a moment of alarm or danger. To the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's speech, he must observe that, while the people of England so honourably and so bravely desire to spare themselves, he trusted the Govern, ment of ihe country or the Legislature would never be found deficient in what was their duty, but that they would let the people be convinced that it was the wish, that it was the most anxious defire of their superiors to spare them, by exerting every power which their fituation invested them with, in avoiding the wantun waste of the bravery of their country, men, or any random or unavoidable effusion of Their blood. He trufted ihat the means which had been entrusted to the hands of Government would be employed to the best purpose possible for the defence of the nation, and the honour and dignity of his Majesty's Crown. But still he wished to see things in the plainest point of view ; he wished to see the af. fairs of the country in such a firuation that no man could poffibly be so blind or so perverse as to say that he did not see them in a demonstration, in the same manner as he might see a proposition in the mathematics when it was explained to him ; unless, indeed, he were to say, “ I will not see the datter, because I have not learned it," or, “ I will not see the foriner, because I am not a profellional man." He then relied on the obstinate courage and in the strong feelings of Engli:nen, that they would not be able to brook the idea, ihat they could not bear a moment from resenting the affront, which would be given them by a body of Frenchmen even having it to say that they had come here to fight us for our country. (Hear, bear, hear!) Some people, he understood, had endeavoured to calculare upon ihe possibility or the amount of the chances there were against their hazarding or even succeeding in such an enterprise, at least so far as to effect a landing on our shores; this, he thought was beyond all powers of calculation, for there were certain actions of such a nature ihat, according to the laws of war, were deemed so impossible, that every General who attempted them was fiable to be broke throughout the greatest part of Europe, and therefore he did not attempt them ; and upon these very points a French General would be liable to be broke if he did not attempt, and therefore he would undertake such enterprizes, and hazard what another General would not venture to do. Beside that, Gentlemen were to consider what exertions were likely to be made by the proud despot of France to support his usurped throne. If we were to look at what


he had done on former occasions, we must plainly perceive that it was most probable that he would facrifice forty or fifty thousand Frenchmen, if it had any chance of promoting his' ambition, with as little feeling as that with which he would niillions of Englishmen, at the altar of his pride. The hon. Genileman then, he was sorry to hear ii, had been blamed for his suggesting any idea of fortifying London, and the right hon. the Secretary at War had referred him to what our ancestors would have raid if they were to have heard such a hint thrown out. The practice or the opinions of our ancestors, however, had no analogy to the present mo.

The right hon. Secretary had also alluded to the number of our naval force; we had, no doubt, as he had ftated, about eighty or ninety thousand seamen, but there could not be fairly iaken into the calculation at the present period; there were thousands of them dispersed at distant parts of the world, and of course they could be of no effeclive service for home defence at any time of sudden emergency. But even if they could, it must be considered that the powers required would be of a different nature from that of a great part of our naval force. We would have an im. mense furilla, which would cover miles of our coast, 10 contend wiih, and how far the navy was prepared 10 meet a force of that nature in such a manner as foially to discomfit them, he would not take upon him to say. If they were completely equal to the task, where was then the use for that bill, now the subject of debate, which he hoped would be soon in another House, and no doubt would in a very little time be presented to his Majesty, that it inight receive his royal ailent? When the right non. Secretary made a reference to our ancestors, he should have recollected that it was not in their power to call out a force of 400,000 men, as we did now, as one class of an additional force; he should consider also that the circumstances in which they were placed did not require such exertions; the means of the enemy, the power of all surrounding nations was then so limited, and The mode of warfare was so different, that a person might as well say, “Let us look at what was the practice of our ancestors; we will then see that our bows and arrows Moula be our only weapons, that our corselets and our helmets should be our only means of defence, and that we should not inful ihe people of England by giving them artillery, with which they might more powerfully annoy the enemy, or by furtifying Portsmouth or Plymouth as a means of defence.".


In the history of Ireland it would be found that fortifications were much more numerous in former rimes than those now propofed by the hon. Gentleman for this country. Under all the circumstances of the present times, he would therefore say that something of that sort ought to be done. He did not mean to say thai we were to endeavour to ereci fortifications as if they were the models of sotne great masters; neither did he think we required it. A vast army could not fit down regularly before it, to beliege it with artillery, with bombs, and all ihe implements of war, and wiih a large covering arniy to protect it, as if it was before Lille or Tournay. We had an illustrious Sovereign, whose memory the present filuation of our affairs brought to his recollection ; he meant Queen Elizabeth, and he called her illustrious, as being particularly roʻby her great genius and the illustrious actions that were done under her auspices. A Spanish feet had been fitted out, expressly for the destruction of England, and was called the Invincible Armada ; but that feel bad been not only defeated, but dispersed, crippled and destroyed in such a manner by a new invention of that day, as made them ever since give over any hope of success by any expedition against England. In like inanner he had every reason to hope that, if an invincible legion was now sent against us from France, for a similar purpose of destruction, the valour of our countrymen, when aided by the execution of the plan now proposed (though he had no doubt of their success at any rate) would almolt immediately repel them, fcattered, confounded and dismayed to their own shores; that is, the few that might by chance have the good fortune to escape from more fummary vengeance. He was well convinced that those few would return with tre inbling, to inforın their haughty and arrogant Chief of the confusion they had met with, and the bounds which had thereby beco fet to his inordinate ainbiiion. The idea of building fortif. cations in this country, however, had long been entertained by military men. li was an idea which had long been afloat in his own mind also. Military men had, in fact, deliberated on the plan many years since; he indeed recollected to hear the opinions of the present Earl Howe, of Mr. Dundas, the present Quarter Malter General, and of another person, · to speak of whom might be deemed fomething of a distant

fori of personal vanity, or else something like a partial bias, fuch as friendship may not unfrequently give to the minds of molt men. Of him, therefore, he thould say nothing.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

General Howe was well known as an excellent General, and he had surveyed the different parts of the country that were supposed to be most likely to be attacked by the enemy, that is, he had surveyed it in a military view. General Dundas had even drawn a plan. He did not profess, for his own part, any knowledge of military affairs; burt from the high tepute, the extenlive knowledge, and the well known experience of that General, who has now the whole of the Southern district under his command, he expressed his full conviction that something great would be achieved if any hoftile force appeared within that district. He was even doubtful whether there had not been some conimunication with his Majesty's officers in the civil department on that fubject. Bui, at the same time that he remarked that the idea was not entirely new, though the plan might differ in detail, as indeed every plan must do that was formed by two different persons, still he thought it neceffary to observe, that it was not founded either in the idea of a diminution of the power of the enemy, or on a falfe notion of our own safety. On the contrary, he believed that there would be more difficulty in restraining the people from too eagerly struggling for a share in the honours of the contest-his awful fenfe of the danger was such as led him neither to despise the enemy, nor overrate the danger. There was the utmost reason to rely on the increased strength of our regular army, which he undersiood the illustrious Commander in Chief was exerting every method to augment. The steadiness and discipline of our militia had been proved on many occafions during the late war, and, from the ardour of the public spirit, the enthusiasm he might say, of loyally and patriotifm which was now soused in every rank of society, he had the moft fincere hope, the moft perfect confidence, that an expedition from France at the prefent moment must terminate in the honour, the glory, and in eternally establithing the fame of this powerful nation, in fuch a manner as that the nations of the eartly would thereby know our power as a military people, as well as they have for many years conceded to var known fuperiority as a naval power. A far greater portion of the fugitive French army would never reach their native fhore, but that temnant would be sufficient to appal that monfter who has raised his head above his fellows in atrocity, by a scandalous abuse, a false application of the sacred name of liberty; it would be sufficient to fill himn with confusion and dismay; and perhaps such a defeaty so complete a discomfituse of his


« ZurückWeiter »