« ZurückWeiter »
well acquainted with the scarcity of provisions in the town, had yet allowed the French troops to take away provisions, in consequence of which they again plundered the inhabitants. This stateinent, he said, was to far irne, that there was a very small quantity of wheat in the garrison, and as it was possible that in the course of a single nighi thips might land wheat there, though, at the fame ime, he did not mean to throw the slightest blame upon those who conducted the blockade, with respect to which is was admitted by the French, that they thought it impoffible that a blockade could be so well kept up, yet in confequence of these circumstances, Captain Markhain and himself thoughit necessary to conclude the capitulation as soon as poffible. It was true that the garrison had only 24 hours provisions. There was one article in the capitulation by which the French were allowed to carry away their effects, but the French Admiral and General both pledged their honour that the troops thould carry away nothing but their private property. As to any plunder before Caprain Markham and himself arrived in the iland, they knew nothing of it.
Mr. Canning spoke to order; he thought it was hardly fair that when an hon. Gentleman had just made a mution, that the attention of the House should be diveried from it in the manner in which it had been. The hon. Gentleman's (Col. Graham's)observations would have come better when the subject of Malta was mentioned, which had not been the case at present.
The Speaker observed, that it certainly was not in the scope of the question, but the House had permitted the gallant Officer to state the circumstance, and therefore he was entitled to the indulgence.
Colonel Graham then fortly observed, that he had done no more than his duiy in Italing the fact for the consideration of the House, in order to do away whatever unfavourable prejudices might arise, if any should arise, to the charalier and conduar of General Pigot. (A cry of hear! bear!)
Colouel Bastard was of opinion that it was of very little consequence whether the situation of the country was owing to the former or present Administration. If iaken Ingly there could not be found a sufficienti cause for war in any one, adion; he insisted that, taken in the aggregate, there was most ample ground for it ; and now that we were entered on is, he hoped That we would go through it with spirit and with vigour. He was glad to hear there was one hon. Gentleman VOL. IV. 1802-3. с
of talent, and supposed that he would bring all his party in with him. At the same time he lamenied thar there should be such incongruity of sentiment among Gentlemen who were all looking at the same thing; fome censured the teme. sity of rushing into a war without fufficient provocation, while others blamed their timidity in procrastinating the time of war so long, and bearing fo much infult
. Fof his part, he thought it required more fortitude to bear insults than to Tehft them. He only required that the war should be offerfive, not defensive, and hoped we were not yet so low but that we might readily have ihe aslistance of strong and powerful continental allies.
Mr. Patten explained. He was fatished if, in a general sense, we had the asistance of the men of the first abilities in the direction of the affairs of the state, without partiality or friendship for any inan, but only in consideration of the talent which he possessed.
Mr. 1. H. Browne observed, that the difficulties and dangers to wbich the hon. Gentleman alluded originated with the fornier, and not with the present Administration. When Members spoke of illusory hopes held out by Ministers, he would be glad that they would mention the particular expressions and the particular dates, that he might ascertain if Gentlemen were mistaken. He did not think it right at this critical moment and at this critical hour, when the hon. Gentlemen themselves agree, and the House all agree, in the propriety of supporting the country again!t the dangers which threaten it; he did not think it right at such a period to interrupt the harmony and unanimity of the House by any vote of censure on his Majesty's Government. He was well convinced, however, that the generality of the House was as unanimous against the Firtt Consul as he appeared to be determined against our enjoyment of the liberfies of Englishmen; and he thanked God, and he thanked the present and the late Adminiftration for the present existence of our freedom. He adverted to the dreadful scenes of confusion and rebellion which existed in wliat was then our sister, but now so happily united in one kingdom; and thought the suppression of such shocking revolt and outrage was an ohjeet highly creditable to the Gentlemen who composed the late Administration. The conclufion of the Treaty of Amiens he thought as praiseworthy in the present Adminiftration. While France continued to violate only the spirit of the treaty, he thought it most wife to avoid hoftilities, if possible ; but when she came to violate the
letter of the treaty, that was a point to stand on, there he thought it fit to reft, as, indeed, for every rupture of the kind it was neceffary to begin at fome point. He did not, however, know how to decide whether that was a proper point on which to reit; he thought indeed it was impossible for any Gentleman who was not more than a mere Member of Parliament, to decide upon the propriety of the point on which a stand should be made, amidit so many acts of aggravation and infult.
Particular stress had been laid upon the circumstance of the armaments in the ports of France and Holland, and some Gentlemen seemed to think it vastly material that an alarm thould not be excited too soon; but, if St. Domingo were to be abandoned, we had cause for alarm, and for great alarm. Other Gentlemen found fault that a message had not been sent down to that House looner than it had been ; in his opinion that would be extremely improper also, as we might thereby be plunged into a war, when, by a different line of conduct, the horrors of war might probably be averted. To lend an address up to his Majesty at this critical moment for the removal of his confidential servants would, in his opinion, also be extremely improper. A with had been expressed by an hon. Gentleman opposite him (Mr. Patten) to see all ihe talents, all the ability of the country on that bench below him (the Treafury Bench). He agreed in the sentiment of the hon. Genreman so far; but it was not high sounding words or eloquence of language; it was not idle and insignificant rumour; it was not attachment to names or persons which should attract his voice or bias his judgment. He had never heard a speech of fo great importance in its conclusion, and which contained so little to convince his judgment in the course of it. The motion therefore fiould have his moft decided negative.
Lord Kensington declared it was his opinion, that at the present critical moment the House had a right to know whatever concerned their political fituation. He did not agree in opinion with either of he honourable Gentlemen; but an expression which tell from the honourable Gentle. man who spuke 'lari, drew forth observations froin him which perhaps he might not otherwise have thought of. The honourable Gentieman had observed, that the difficulties and dangers to which we were now exposed, had origi. nated with the former Ministers. The honourable Gentleman fhould have recollected, that the expedition to the Baltic was planned and executed under the direction of the late Administration. That was an expedition which made our name respectable in Europe, and was glorious to the British arms." The noble Lord then read an extract from his Majesty's Declaration, expressive of the repeated acts of insult and aggression on the part of the French Government, ever since the time of the signing the Treaty of Amiens. The hon. Member opposite (Mr. I. H. Browne) had particu. Jarly required that he might have the precise dates. He would therefore take the trouble to inform him: the Treaty of Amiens was difcufsed on the 11th of May; after that, the sequestration of the property belonging to the Spanisn Langue, the annexation of the island of Elba, &c.; but all prior to the 23d of November, the day on which the right hon. Gentleman opposite to hiin (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) assured that House, there was no probability of the treaty being broken. In reviewing the report of Se.. baftiani, he conceived there was nothing new in it; Government, and be supposed almost every Gentleman in the kingdom, knew pretty well wbat was the intention of the French Government before the publication of ihat report. Whatever of infult or reflection luch a pamphlet contained, he could not think it a sufficient caule for war. He concluded by giving his support to the resolutions for inquiry.
Lord s'emple rose, and said that the subject offered to the confideration of the House on that night, was to him, as he had no doubt it was to many other Members, cause of conäderable satisfaction. It afforded to his Majesty's Ministers a fair opportunity of vindicating themselves; and to the country the gratification of being enabled to apportion its applause or censure in the degree that Ministers might defeive. It inust be in the recollection of the House that his Majesty's Ministers, since the ratification of the Definitive Treaty, on the 23d of April, 1802, until the 8th of March, when his Majesty's Message was communicated to Parliadient, did invariably hold out to the country the most fiattering bopes, and he might add certainty of peace. How, he would alk, could they justify themselves for having donc fu? Have they not, and do they. not now offer as a justification, that the ambitious views, insults and aggrefGons of France face the signing of that disgraceful treaty, are a just ground of recommencing hostilities--do they not roundly declare, that it is indispensably necesary for Great Britain, even fingle handed, to oppose the gigantic ftrides of the Firit Consul? Per use with attention the papers they have laid before us, and it must appear, that his Majesty's Mi
mitters were convinced, from the signing vf the treaty, that it could not be executed. It is the fame principles which diftracted and degraded France internally, which subverted seme states and menaced the destruction of Europe. In the course of the revolution have they not been developed and partly executed, before the 29d of November, when Parliament and the country were led to believe, by the affurances of Ministers, that peace was certain, and that assurance was given at a time, and after a conviction in their own minds, that the treaty was incapable of being executed ? Froin the hostile disposition of the First Conful to this country, and the several acts he had already committed in direct violation of its spirit and object, could any thing else be expected from the man who nenounced the religion of his country, and embraced that of Mabomel? who supported the fola lowers of Mahomet's doctors, Aliand Omari and, as it best suiled his interett, professed with either, that the ablution Should or thoutd not begin at the points of the elbows? How could it be expected that a treaty could be held sacred by a man who had murdered his prisoners, and poitoned his own hofpitals ? Notwiihftanding the provocations, the injuries, and aggreffions, offered and committed by this very man, now at the head of the French Republic, Miniftcrs came down to the House and gave every affurance of the permanence of peace, although there is scarcely any ground subfcquent to the 23d of O&tober that did not exist before that period, and confcquently Ministers must acknowledge, that they told us what they did not believe, what could not take place, and what they were determined should not take place, namely, the execution of a treaty which had been already violated by the French Govercment. But it was not until the report of Colonel Sebastiani that Ministers seemed to take the alarm, and inform the country of the hostile in. tentions of the Fift Conful. Was not the sending of cominercial agents to this country antecedent and fufficient ground for war? Need he mention what had happened reipcêting the King George Packet on the 13th of October? Here we not given to undeiftand thai Holland was feed f1:9:11 the French troops? and on the 29th Bergen op-700! and Breda were occupied by them; and ftrange as it inay appear, Mr. Lifton wrote a letter, in which he recommended 10 leave then there, and this at a time when the annexa, tion of that country to France was actually in the contein, plation of the French Government, all this was known pre.