Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]

opportunity till the next Session, he thought it his duty to avail himself of this right; and as the hon. Gentleman proposed to carry his restriction still further, and to abridge the liberty of speech out of doors during ihe vacation, as he proposed to lock him and his friends up in this manner, and 10 put the key in his pocket-(a luugh);- he thought it proper at least to save their right, by his protell, left it be considered as entirely lapsed and surrendered by disuse. Having said ibis, he had no objection ihat the motion should pass, and the hon. Geruleman may, if he pleafeil, go about as Mafter of the Ceremonito, making his bow to every one of the corps, and returning thein thanks where they were not at all expected.

The Secretary at War confessed himself unable to follow the hon. Gentleman through all the detail into which he had entered, relative to the fuperiority of regular troops, and the inconvenience that might arise from the employment of a loose irregular mass, in conjunction with them, by its becoming an incumbrance in their operations, every syllable of which was irrelevant to the motion which had been submitted to the House. · But he could not overlook the observation of the right hon. Gentleman, with regard to the system pursued by his Majesty's Governinent, which he had fiated to be esroneous. No person could appreciate that system, unless he were in the secret of his Majelly's Ministers, and as the right hon. Gentleman had admitted himself ignorant of the precise system they meant to adopt, such a' charge must come with a bad grace from him. He was himself free to acknowledge, that it was intended to give every encouragement to voluntary service, as well such as had been found be. nencial during the last war, as of the description specified in the late bill. He was not one of ihose who accused the right hon Gentleman with depreciating the militia and volunteers; because, though some healed and unguarded expreflions had escaped him in the warmth of debate, the right hon. Genileman had shewn by his explanations, that his observations applied to a force of either descriprion only as 10 a force that was not regular. But whatever respect he entertained for the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, he could not but lament that he employed the whole weight of his authority to decry, though not to oppose, the measures which his Majesty's Ministers thought it adviseable to adopt; and he was of opiuion that Ministers had a right to complain, that the right hon. Genileman when he had a seat in the


Cabinet, and was convinced of the magnitude of ihe danger 10 which the country was exposed, had not made known his sen:iments, nor brought forward the necessary measures for iis security. The volunteer system, though it had in his opinion been carried to too great an extent during the last war, he looked on as a salutary one ; but as to ihe charge of the right hon. Gentleman, that it was the intention of his Majesty's Ministers to convert the force to be raised by the general levy into a volunteer force; he was at a loss to know where he could have formed any just foundation for it. If there were any instances in which that thould be she case, he would himself undertake to thew, that the circumstances of the district required such a modification. In some districts it would be necessary to form the men into regiments or battalions, in others into independent companies; and in others again it would be expedient not to form thein into companies at all; fo chat it would be impossible to act upon any general principle; and arrangemenis should be made with reference to the local circumstances of the districts, and to the dangers to which they should be exposed.. Having Said this, he Mould hope that no general criiicism should be entered into, with respect to the conduct of his Majesty's Ministers, who were undoubtedly subject to a heavy and rerious responsibility, but who were not treated with all the fairness and candour in certain quarters, which they had a right to expect ; yet he trusted the House would be disposed to do them juftice, and fufpend its judgment until their conduét and measures could be fairly estimated on their merits. The right hon. Gentleman had amused himself and the House with his fallies of wit, but he was surprised to hear him affert gravely, that the bill for the general levy had created inuch fuss and confusion in carrying it into execution, bus has not yet produced a single man, at a line too when there was a great and augmenting force every where vilble in the country, which in a Mort time would be sufficient to place it completely out of danger. If the right hon. Gentleman had looked round him, even in the city of London, he mighe have observed that a considerable augmentation of free had already taken place, which was every day increaling, as well there as in the other parts of the kingdom. He acknowledged himself incapable of ftaring, with certainty, the number of volunicers in the whole kingrom, but he was sure he could not be mi!aken in computing the to amount, at this moment, io bei ween one hundred and one hundred 5 L 2


[ocr errors]

and fifty thousand. He Thould join inost heartily in the prefent motion for a vote of thanks, because he was of opinion, that it would contribute greatly to excite farther exertions ; and, that there was no honest man who would not concur wiih the hon. Gentleman who had made it. Though he could not admit that it had been brought forward preinaturely, he agreed with the right hon. Genilemani (Mr. Windham) altogether, as to the sacredness of the shanks of thar Heure. He felt thai at so momentous a crisis as the present, when so much would depend on the zeal, fpirit, and exertions of every individual, the House thould relax a little from its rigid observance of forms, and not be too precise in adverting to precedents. The right hon. Geo:leman seemed to him not to be aware, ibat, at the end of last war, the thanks of the House had been voted to the volunteer corps, and though that had been at the end of a war, no greater energy, courage, or exertion, had been displayed than on the present occasion. The right hon Gentleman said, he had no objection to a vote of thanks of the House in the volun. teers of Ireland, who, the right hon. Genileman affirmed, had saved the capital. As to this circumstance, he thould first say that the Government of Ireland had not been surprised, nor had the volunteers saved the capital. They had acted with three or four regimenis composing the garrison of Dublin, and for their gallant conduä in conjunction with these troops were entitled to every praise. He should not pursue this subject further; but he could not have listened to the assertion, that the volunteers alone had faved the capital of Ireland, without giving it the most positive contradiction.

Mr. Charles Dundas declared that on no man could more fincerely vote for the motion of the hon. Member ihan he fhould, because he thought the spirit of the country ought to be cherished. He rose merely io reply to some observations which had fallen from the right hon Gentleman oppofite, relative to the provisional cavalry. He had himself ihe honour to command one of those regimenis, for which alone he could answer, and which had been reviewed by a General sent for the purpose from the War-office, whose repori had been highly favourable, and when he inentioned Genera! Garth, he referred to a military avthority that would stand high with the House. He therefore challenged the right hon. Gentleman to produce any report of any military man that could give sanction to the observations he had indulged in. He had come forward as a country gentleman, when the situation of the country called for exertion ; and he trusted he thould meet the indulgence of the House for obtruding himself upon its notice, when called to it by the observations of the right hon Gentleman. He begged to reinind the right hon. Gentleman, that the present was a crisis when every man ought to come forward as a soldier ; he begged to remind thas right hon. Gentleman that the present measure would rend to promute his idol, the army, and that it would relieve the ftate from a burthen which it would be unequal to in the inaintenance of a regular force equal to the defence of the country.

Mr. Windham explained. He did not mean to make the least allusion to any particular corps; he only intended to ftate generally that the volunteers would not, at all evenis, be found as serviceable as the House seemed to imagine they would.

Mr. Wilberforce, in a speech of considerable lengih, expariated on the well-known parriotism and bravery of Englithmen at every period of their history, and i hence inferred that it would be useless to thank the country for doing no more than what it had always done on every occasion where the exigency of their affairs required it. He would not willa to have it known that they were thanked by the Legislature for what they had already.done, as that might be construed to imply fome previous doubt, or to convey an idea that they had exceeded our expectations. Englishmen wanted no such Itimulus lo incite ihem towards the defence of their native foil. He then gave a description of the liberality, as well as the pairiorism, of that part of the country which he said he had ihe honour to represent, and acquainted the House that a subscription had been entered into there, upon nearly a similar plan to that in the city of London, and that several thousands had been already put down. He then adveried to the difference between a regular and a volunteer force, and said he thought that a man might be trained 10 wheel, to fire, &c. and yet not be able to “ snaich a grace beyond the rules of art, This drew to his mind the intrepid conduct, the collected thou ht, and the moft arduous enterprising fpirit of our gallant couniryman, Sir Sidney Smith, on whom he palled the highest encomiums, declaring that by land or at fea bis exploits were equally manifest and equally splendid; that he was like that justly celebrated hero of English history, the Duke of Marlborough, who made the molt discordant


[ocr errors]

principles of nature unite in support of the cause which he
espouted. There was fumething, however, in the very na.
ture of the pr fent volunteering fyitem, however ardeni,
brave, or zealous its members might be, which he thought
marte them liable to objection. Many from their age, their
ftare of healih, or their connexions in life, would be found
not fit 10-endure the liardthips which many others in the
fame corps were ready and able to bear. He would avoid
treading on military grounds as much as possible, but con-
felled he hoped that it would be the means of eliciting the
observations of Gentlemen far better qualified, and who'e
ideas might, according to his opinion, be serviceable to the
House (looking towards Colonel Craufurd). All that he meant
to draw the aitention of the House to, was towards the clase
fification of the different volunteer corps. If ihat was not
attended to, he thought that we mighi be able to ascertain
the numbers by looking at the lists, but we would never be
able to ascertain the true effeclive force. What had been
mentioned by an honourable Member (Mr. Chapman) re-
fpe&ing the East India force being sent to the West Indies,
he was sorry to have heard in that House, and hoped that it
would never be adopted by his Majesty's Government. On
this point he dwelt for some time, and declared that he con-
fidered that part of the world as a devouring gulf, which
swallowed up all our force; and that it was a greater ex-
pence and less real advantage to us by many degrees, than
what the French had gained on the Continent last war alone.
He then paid fome handsome coinpliments to the lawyers'
corps, and said ihat he thought we thould not trust so much
to persons who had no stake in the country, as to those on
whom, from their wealih and respectability, we could rely
in the hour of danger. But there was another point to which
he expreiled a hope and confidence that Ministers would al-
trud, that was, to the providing those of our countrymen
who volunteered their services with proper arms, and training
them accordingly; for instance, he had heard a good deal of
the disficulty of procuring firelocks for this immense force,
and he had enquired as to the nature of the obstacle. He
found that baricis could be supplied in abundance, but that
the difficulty was in getting the locks made fast enough.
That had suggested to him the idea that a number of men
Thould be disciplined in another way; our artillery might be
brought into more active service. Several extraordinary ex-
eriions he thought might be made, in the manner of a Gen-

« ZurückWeiter »