Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Mr. Pice said, he should say only a very few words upon this subject ; he merely wished to ask, whether the force which it was now proposed to vote, included the whole of the regular force that was to be proposed, or wliether they were to expect in the present feffion, any more fubftantial augmentation to that which certainly was an unusually large peace establishment? He was averse to discussing in that House any question respecting the amount of the force necessary for the public safety. That ought certainly to reft in the first instance with Ministers, under the respongbility of their fituation. It was a confidence that Parliament ought to place in them, and if they did not possess that confidence they ought not to retain their situation. But he really did not apprehend that it was proper to discuss in that House the distribution of the public force, he therefore would not enter into any detail upon the subject. If, however, he heard from Ministers, that this was all the force they meant to provide, it would give him real uneasiness; however, he would not say a word more upon that subject, until he knew whether that was the case or not.

The Secretary at War observed, that although what the right hon. Gentleman had stated, was a very able military and political lecture, yet there were many of the topics into the detail of which he should not at present enter, becaufe this did not appear to him to be the feason for fo doing ; he should rather apply himself to the answer which he had to give to the question of his right hon. Friend, Mr. Pitt, and he had the fatisfa&tion of saying, that the attention of Minifters had been directed to the preparation of a plan which appeared to them to be effential for securing, not only the domeftic defence of the country, but also to enable us to put forth our arms in a manner that might be effectual for other objects; and here he could not help thinking that the right hon. Gentleman opposite to him had, in some measure, raised a phantom which he was afterwards to combat, for he had said that all our force was to be purely a defensive war. Where he found that out, and how he came to that conclufion, he did not know. He had also stated, that every effort thould be made for our defence at this important crisis; this was an assertion the truth of which nubody doubted; nor was this all, for it was proper that we should put ourselves in a fituation that may become offensive as opportunity may occur abroad; he did not think that we should confine ourfelves ftriệt defence, but that we should look at this war in a different view, to consider its nature and its character,

and

and that we were not to be content with mere self defence or domestic safety, but that we should hold ourselves in readine's to avail ourselves of the best opportunity which might occur - to inflict on the enemy the feverest and moft effectual blow we may be able ; these were the feelings of his Majcuy's Ministers upon this most importat matter ; but when vigour was talked of, he would observe, that vigour did not coulift in the use of high founding words, but on what may actually be done ; and much had actually been done. He spoke of arrangements subsequent to the Treaty of Amiens; we had been in that Thort period of peace active in many respects: we had placed our military force on a much stronger footing than it had been in any former period of peace, Our regular army was much more confiderable now than it had been at the commencement of any war; our militia in like manner was in a much better ftate for military purposes than it had been at any former period of the commencement of a war; we had in every respect a much greater force than we ever had before at the beginning of hoftilities; but was he saying that this was therefore fufficient ? No, he was not ; but the energy of the country must be called forth, and there must be such a difpotal of that force as to thew our enemies, ignorant as they are of this country, of the difpofition of its people, of its internal vigo!ır, of its resources, and almost every thing about it, for very ignorant indeed were our enemies of all these things; there inust be such a disposal of our force and strength as may thew them how much they have been mistaken in this country ; but it was not a vote for a large sum of money that woulá raise a large disposable force, that would depend much more on the nature of the measures to be adopted for raising fuch force, than upon the vote for paying them; and he flattered him. self that the measures about to be proposed for that purpose would be efficacious; that the men would be furnished as they should be found to be necessary, and they should be proposed to be under the command of officers of the regular troops, and intended to be as a supplement to the regular army; and after this plan was completed, then there would remain to be done that which it would be in this country more easy perhaps to do than the rest of it, namely, to tind the money. The first and the main object was to have an effectual command of the men, and then it would not be difficult to raise the money. Voting a number of men, lowever great, and voting a sum of money, however large, to pay them, did not appear to him to be wise, until the plan

for

for raising the inen should have been matured ; because until that was done it was only raising men upon paper, which was not what we wanted; neither did large votes, without a method of carrying them into effect, prove very useful. Having said thus niuch generally, he would now take up a few of the points brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman opposite to him, but not all of them, for of some he could not help saying, that although they were like every thing delivered by that right hon. Gentleman, very ingenious, yet in this case, they did not appear to him to have an immediate reference to the question now before the Committee. Such, therefore, he should take the liberty, of pasfing over, for the present, professing a readiness to enter on their discussion when occasion might require. He could not help thinking that the right hon. Gentleman had given way a little too much to a tone of despondency, as applicable either to the manner in which we were now preparing for war, or to the manner in which we concluded peace. He agreed, however, with the right hon. Gentleman, that it was right to state the situation of this country fairly, to itate the possible chance of an invasion, but he thought he nright be permitted to say that the right hon. Gentleman had considered that subject a little too acutely.

He thought that the question between the two Governo ments was now brought to this point, and it was high time that we should show, not by words, but actions, that we are not to be insulted by France—that we are not to be intiinidated by any menace they may throw out that it is not their showing themselves in large numbers opposite to our coasts, which is to throw us into a panic.--" That they may throw a body of men into this country is certainly pradicable." “It may be done certainly under favourable circumstances, that is, if they are not drowned in the attempt : but really, I think it would not be long before they would be made prisoners ; and that very few of them would ever retion. Ithink it is high iime to show that we are not to be Taunted in this way wih invasion, or intimidated with the threat of it." There was another part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, which he should now shortly notice he seemed to fuppose, that by the Treaty of Amiens, we had relinquished for ever all right to conlider of the affairs of the continent; and he said, that since the peace we had gone very much to leeward : that was not so. As to the Treaty of Amicns, he approved of it at the time, under all the circum

ftances

not

stances in which it was concluded. He was fatisfied, even now, of the propriety of this country having entered into that treaty;

but it was correct to say, that by that treaty we had given up the continent: we had done no such thing; nor was it our inclination to do any thing like it. If there had been any chance of any continental co-operation with us if we had the continuance of any continental alliance, then the Peace of Amiens was a peace of which he Muuld noi approve: but as we had no coniinental alliance left for carrying on the war, he thonght that no advantage was to have been gained by the prosecution of the war; nor did he see how any one, however sanguine, could expect any real advantage o us by that continuance, under such circumstances. We herefore had agreed to the peace; and in his opinion, we acted wisely by to doing. But the right hon. . Gentleman had asked, wheilier the last peace was not merely an experiment? Yes, it was; and whether it had not failed Why, yes, it had failed, as was evinced by our being now at war: but we closed a discussion about objects, the conrinuance of which would only have tormented the people of this country. At prefent he conduct of the French Government had roused their indignation to a pitch which he conceived to have decided the character of the cause in which we are engaged, for that it has united the people of this country, and inade them, as it were, one man against France ; and there existed a stedfalt determination to regard France as the oppreffor of Europe in general, and as wishing to be the oppreffor of this country. To have this sentiment thoroughly sooled in ihe hearts of Englishmen, was, to speak the language of another Gentleman, on another occasion, worth ten or twenty West India islands: this was an opinion which he had no hesitation in delivering. But the right hon. Genileman had said, that the hopes of this country were gone. He did not think so. He did not think ihat we were a people like to give up our hopes. He found nothing in the history of this country to justify that idea ; nor did he think there was any thing in the conduct of this country to warrant the expression that we had given up all concern in the affairs of the continent. On the contrary, the history of this country proved that our object had always, since the revolusion, been to preserve the balance of power on the continent; we had made a glorious effort to do so in the last war--we had continued in ihe contest for that purpose long after every Britith object had been attained, and as long as it was poffible with any hopes of making an impression favourable la the general interests of Europe; we had continued in the con. telt until we were left without alliance for perseverance in it, and then we did what, under such circuinstances, it was wise in us to do; but there was not, what the right hon. Gentleman had faid, any disgraceful or thabby abandon. ment of the cause on our part. The right hon. Gentleman, afier having charged us with neglecting our true interests, by adoping a system purely defensive, which he denied, had proceeded to state that the force we had hitherto proposed to adopt is not applicable to our case, and alluded to the Militia, Now upon this subje&t he must be allowed to lament a little, that the right hon. Gentleman had not brought forward his objection to that system at the time it was first brought before the House, because abundant opportunities had been afforded 10 hear the reasoning of the right hon. Gentleman upon the subject, and indeed upon the system of the militia altogether, He should have been happy to have heard ihe opinion of the right hon. Gentle nian upon that as well as upon any other. fubject. He was perfectiy open at any time to convi&ion, and so he wilhed to be still, but he only wanted to know what the system of this country had always been, and whether the measure now proposed, was not an improvement upon that plan, and whether ihe observations of the right hon. Gentleman, if they had been made last year, would have induced Parliament to vote an additional 100,000 men on the establishment of the army. He thought not ; our measures last year, however, enabled us to set a stronger force on foot than was ever known at the commencement of a war, and we had at this moment a considerable body of the best troops we ever had; fus which reasons he thought that Government was not liable to reproacli for negligence. He should not follow the right hon. Gentleman through his observations on the militia, as he had stated alieady. He lamented that The House had not been favoured with the opinion of the right hon. Genileman fully on this occasion formerly ; but the question now was, whether the Committee would not yote ihe maintenance of a force, which on consideration last fellion, was thought neceffary? The right hon. Gentleman said, that a regular army invading a country could be oppos. ed only by a regular army; that was true, but it admitted of ceriain qualifications: it was true with regard to an engagement, but not to a protracted war. America was a proof of this--the regular army indeed beat the Americans in every

possible engagement;

« ZurückWeiter »