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his Majesty, with regard to the acceptance of volunteer ferviccs. We ought not to stop while any thing was left to be
We should look forward 10 the possibility of the moft disastrous, calamitous, and disgraceful evenis again occurging. The state of Ireland was such, that although every man must rejoice at its present security, we ought not to cal. culate on its remaining free from disturbance. It was abfoluiely necessary that Ireland thould not be separated from this country
It might, perhaps, be necessary that the whole of our disposable force should be employed for the purpose of retaining Ireland. Upon the whole, he saw no objections to the alterations proposed by this bill, but, on the .contrary, thought it a proper extension of the system of voJunteer service. (Mr. Sheridan delivered this speech from the Treasury Bench.)
Mr. Il'indham, in allusion to the part of the House from whence the hon. Gentleman had spoken, described him as a new convert, and observed, that like a young soldier he had fired his inusquet too soon. When a measure was brought forward that was new, various in its operations, and depending upon a thousand different causes, the effects of which were impossible to be foreseen, time ought to be allowed to discuss it. This was a bill which it had been thought necessary to read a first and second time the preceding day. It was a measure in such a hurry, that not a moment's time was to be loft in debating it; but it was impossible, in point of fact, that a measure like that of arming the nation could be carried on with such speed. It must proceed with regularity; it was like the seven ages described by Shakspeare. The bill mult first be prepared; it must then be brought in ; it had to go through the forms of the House; first and second readings ; committed; third reading; and the same stages in the other House; it must then be passed, after which it was to be sent into the country to be carried into execution. Then there followed such a clattering, such a bustle, and tu. mult; what with the various duties of the tything-man, the Lord Lieutenant, and the Deputy Lieutenants, the whole bufinels was as confused as a horse-race. The tything-man was going to the school-malter to read the act, and the fchool-malter to the justice to underfiand it. In thort, before this bill could produce the men, the enemy might be at the door. It would be some time before we had the men in their Thoes, bui how long it would be before they became soldiers, “ seeking reputation in the cannon's mouth,” he
could not say. At present we had an army only on p.per. He referred to the journals and placards, observing, thai, at the beginning of an invasion, he wished for something better than paper bullets. The country was not to be defended by the Chancellor of the Exchequer's coming vapouring down'. to the House, exclaiming, Don't be afraid! I am the man. Something like him, who, when he was told up Atairs, the house was on fire, said, Whar! and I here! After the sight hon. Genileman had set the four corners of the world on fire, it was not his coming down with his liuele bucket, or thimble full of water, that would extinguilh the flame. He next referred to the writings and principles of his friend Mr. Cobbett, on whom he pronounced an high-flown panegyric, Itating, that he had mer every bad revolutionary principle by principles of the most good, loyal, and virtuous, a tendency, and that he (Mr. Cobbett) deserved to have a statue of gold erected to his memory.
As to the mode of carrying the bill into execution, he was of opinion, that if Ministers combined the higher orders, and left the lower orders to themselves, they would put the defence of the country upon a b.ad footing. He desired to know how the volunteers were to be combined. Was it to be a mixture of the old and the young, the robust and the weak, the husband and man of family, and the single man, the enervated with the strong. If this was to be ihe system, the volunteer corps would be inerely places of refuge from that service which the prerogative of the King might call upon every man for. It was providing a place of retrcat for those who wilhed to avoid service. He therefore deprecated the force of the country being converted into volunteer corps: he adınitted that the bill might be good or bad, according as it was executed,
Mr Sheridan, in reply to the observations that he was a new converi, asked the hon. Gentleman wheiher it was a new fituation for him to come forward and stare his opinion when the couniry was in danger ? Did he call out like ihe hon. Gentleman, “ restore me and my friends to power, or the country cannot be saved ?" Was it new to him to be an ad. vocate in the cause of the country? The hon. Gentleman had accused him of firing his musquet too foon; he had, how., ever, returned the fire. He ought to apologize to his MajelTy's Ministers for the danger into which he had brought them; but happily the hon. Gentleman had fired his mufket, but had forgot to put ball in it. The hon. Gentleman coinmanded a fine piece of artillery, which was formidable
whenever he had recourse to it; but he was so fond of squibs and crackers, that he seldom did any execution. It was not long since the hon. Gentleman had stated, that there was no spirit in the counity, and that journals lagged in rousing its energies. Would he have had these bills brought in at that time? He had said, the people of England were a degraded, base, and lost people. Was that the time for bringing forward such a meature? No, it was more likely to be aliended with effect, by having been bronght forward after the spirit of the people had been excited. With regard to that clattering and race-courle bustle the hon Gentleman had described, he was glad to hear that noise of the machinery of the bill, but it was with regret he had heard the hon. Gentleman speak of it with disgust and rebuke. The hon. Gentleman had called the placards of the enemy paper bullets, and had said what a time for Bonaparte to come! It was to be hoped he would not come the fooner in consequence of what the hon. Gentleman had said, but if he did, he would find that the measures adopted by Ministers had already produced an army of 100,000 volunteers. The hon. Gentleman regretted the measure had not been brought forward sooner, but he could have no substantial reason for his regret, except that he would have had three times so many opportunities of abusing Ministers. His fyftem had been a lyftem of dil. couragement, which, if it had been followed, would have led the country to despair, and proftrate itself at the feet of its enemy. He had said, that there was no salvation for the country, except by a particular individual being Minister; titat the country had nothing to fight for ; that after the difgraceful Treaty of Amiens, the country had received, on the part of honour, kicks innumerable; that it had nothing like glory or honour for which to contend. This was one of his modes of discouragement. The next was to lay down by most laborious demonstration, that no irregular force could contend with the regular. That such a force as we had, vas impossible to relist such a force as the enemy could bring against us. The next was, that nothing could be done for the country till the present Ministers were out-that they were an incubus, a night-mare-and that the more that was given them, the worse they were. He then referred to what he described as the hon. Gentleman's filly panegyric upon Mr. Cobbeit, and the ere&tion of a statue of gold to his honour. (Here Mr. Windham said something in a low tone of voice ) - Mr. Sheridan continued. The hon. Gentleman, he
faid, seemed to mutter at this; nay, he groaned; he was glad to hear him groan. However, he hoped, he would go on with his ftatue of gold, and make it a colossal statue ; but he advifed him not to folicit subscriptions at the Royal Exchange ; it was not likely he would be very successful there, for, he believed, in one of that Gentleman's papers, he had observed, ihat the stocks could not exist if the monarchy exist. It was not very probable that ihe writer of such a sentiment would be very popular in that wealthy city where any subscribtion could be raised with effect.
Mr. William Smith said, he approved of the bill in its orignal shape, because it conveyed the idea of the whole mass of the people being trained. He wished the training to extend to every class, as the country might be placed in a fituation in which it would be necessary all should be ready to act. He was aware there might be some persons less to be trusted than others, but he was persuaded the people at large were loyal. He observed that the volunteer force was dispersed over the whole country, and might not be easily drawn together at the point where it was wan:ed. He liked the original measure, because it was to make us an armed nation. There was besides an advantage in having an indefinite force, if it was ascertained the enemy might be able to bring a force adequate to meet it.
Mr. Archdale Itated, that Mr. Cobbett, in his Journal, had asserted; there were not 18,000 men in Ireland, and that France had only to send four ships of war, with as many troops as they could convey, in order to take poffeffion of that country. Now was this a sentiment for which a man ought to have a statue of gold ? It was not an attempt to set fire to the four corners of the world, but to the four corners of Ireland. If his Majesty's Ministers ought to be dismissed, let Gentlemen move to that effect. If they did not possess the confidence of the House they would be dismiffid; but at a time like this, to go on embarrassing Ministers was useless and unavailing
Mr. Windham said a few words in explanation.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, it was with reluctance he protracted the discussion. feeling that Genilemen might be better employed; he should be sorry to fix on himself the imputation of having delayed by unnecellary observations, those exertions that were necessary for the safety of ide country. An hon. Gentleman (Mr. Smith) had started his opinion of the bill under a wrong impreffion. He had stated that the force for the defence of the couniry would be understood as definile. . It was not so, but remained as indefinite as by the original bill. The present measure was only to enable his Majelty to relieve particular districts when there were such a number of volunteers as thouid be deemed sufficient. By the operation of this bill, there would be a force voluntarily difciplined, not disciplined under the apprehension that they might be drafted into the ranks. He knew it was the dury of every man to serve his Majesty any where within the country in case of invasion; but he wilhed to substitute volunteer corps, because he wilhed to see men come regularly into the field. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Windham) had grati. hed and surprised him, by saying, that this was a bill upon which the country might rely, if it was properly executed he had surprised him, because when it was first proposed, he had spoken of it with coldness-he had merely said, it was a measure that would not do harm. There was not one mode of defence which that hon. Gentleman had not spoken of with contempt, except the regular army. Fortunately bis authority was not equal to his zeal, or his observations might do con Gilerable harm. Of the militia and volunteer corps, he had spoken in a manner that had excited disgust, and had produced enquiries respecting the conduct of the militia in Ireland, the result of which had been most satisfactory. He referred to Mr. Sheridan's statement of the public feeling, and asked whether, without such a popular sentimeni, this bill could be carried into effect. He had never heard an imputarion of delay without feeling its daring injustice. He knew that ihe magilirates of the country had heard with astonishment that Parliament had not acted with dispaich. Magistraies could not execute so fast as the House could legiflare. He never 1hould cease to be of opinion that the hon. Gentle. inan (Mr. Windham) had, throughout the whole period that had elapsed since ihe presenting his Majesty's message on the 8th of March, done every !hing that was calculared to difspirit and dilinay the people, and to add to the hopes of the enemy. The hon. Genileman hinself must have read with mortification, that importance was attached to his opinions by the French journalists, and that they were sources of exul. ration to them, as they were of regret to ninety nine out of a hundred in this country. If the hon. Gentleman had inoved an address to dismiss his Majesty's Ministers, he could only have said, that in the course of eleven weeks they had laid the foundation for the largest force that ever exifted. if,