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miration of Europe, our ancestors more weight than any other, and did not think it incompatible with this was, that the fortifications, betheir fame or their liberties, to ap- ing calculated to afford complete ply a conhderable fun to the forii- fecurity to the dock-yards, would fying the most vulnerable parts of enable our fleet to go on remote their coasts. In the war before the services, and carry on the operalalt, not indeed the last war, the tions of war at a distance, without war of contrast with the lait, a pe. exposing the materials and seeds of riod to which it might be supposed future navies to destruction by the he was somewhat partial, a war in invafion of an enemy. It had been which the name of Britain was ex- infinuated that the fecond datum in alted above the highest and the the instructions had proceeded upon proudest of the nations, the fame the suppofition of the fleets being system of policy had been pursued, absent for an improbable time. The and the idea of fortifications had fleet had been abient in the last been extended eyen to so inconfi- war for a time, nearly equal to derable a place as Milford-haven that which was supposed, upon a in South Wales.
service with which this country As to the expence attending the could not have dispensed without building of the works, 'he flattered facrificing the most brilliant success himself, that his sentiments on the of the war. Had we been then in finances of his country were not a fear of an attack upon our coasts, back ground figure in his political which from reasons, not proper to character. It was too well known be mentioned, we happened not to how much his feelings were engag- be, Gibraltar and the renown of ed, not only by the duties of his defending it must have been for station, and the propensities of his ever lost." But it was not only by mind, but by considerations of his foreign expeditions, that we might personal reputation, which was lose the aid of our feet in case of deeply committed in the question, an invasion ; it might fo happen, to exert every nerve, to arm all that the ships, though in the very his vigilance, and to concentre channel, might be prevented by his efforts towards that great object, contrary winds, rides, and other by which alone we could have a contingencies, from arriving to the prospect of transmitting to our po- allittance and relief of the dock. Herity that source of ease and com- yards. Upon the whole Mr. Pitt fort 'of which ourselves were in thought the present question was want, an efficient finking fund for rather to be considered, as connectthe liquidation of the national debt. ed with our naval establishment, But he was not to be seduced by than with those either of the army the plausible and popular, he would or the ordnance. Were it to be change his language, and say the aiked, why the sum to be required facred name of economy, to fore for these fortifications had not been go the reality, and for the sake of demanded for itrengthening the naadding a few hundred thousands vy, he would fairly answer, that more to the finking fund, render the money, which would prove sufperhaps for ever abortive the sink. ficient to accomplish these works, ing fund itself.
would not build so many ships as Mr. Pitt observed, that there was would serve for the defence of our a confideration which ought to have most valuable harbours. There was
besides a certain degree beyond board of enquiry had been inftiwhich the navy of this country tuted, and the manæuvre by which could not go. There was a certain three of its most skilful members number of ships beyond which fe had been excluded from taking their could neither build nor man any seats. He treated the scheme of more. The true limit he could not, fortifications of the duke of Richnor would it be proper for him to mond as not less chimerical and affign; yet in the nature of things visionary, than the romantic absurd. such a limit must exist. But there ities of Don Quixotte. He dwelt could never be any line drawn, to with particular force upon the danrestrain the security which we ought ger that he conceived would result to provide for our dock-yards. to the constitution, and upon the
What could be the reason, that desertion, which would thus be ex. made gentlemen on the other fide hibited in the face of the world, of of the house fo anxious to impede our natural defence, and the woodthe measure? Were they bold en walls of England. The nation enough, to stake themselves upon a had always entertained an extreme question of such awful magnitude, jealousy of whatever looked like and to stand forward with decided an increase of the standing army. vehemence as the opposers of a With respect to the militia, our measure, which parliament, think more favourite defence, had it not ing itself incompetent to scrutinize, derived its greatest recommendation had referred to the highest profef. from the circumstance of its mem- . sional authority, and about which bers mixing so much with the peothe ministers of the crown, who ple in their houses, and thus precould have no personal feelings upon lerving their character as citizens, the subject, excepe fuch, as, from rather than holding themselves jut confiderations of their own ease as soldiers ? The militia indeed and advantage, were hostile to the had been called the school of the proceeding, declared themselves to army ; and this undefirable de. be so much interested, as to be un- fcription would become fully justiable to rest upon their pillows fo fied by our fhutting them up in long as it remained in suspense ? fortresses, and keeping them lepaMr. Pitt called upon the house to rate from their fellow subjects. beware how they suffered them. Their strong holds might then be selves lightly to be drawn into a denominated seminaries for soldiers, line of conduct, wbich might involve and universities for Prætorian bands. their posterity in accumulated evils; Mr. Baltard felt little difficulty in and he suggested to their recollec- discovering, that the great object tion the remorse which they must was to relinquish that method of feel, if they should hereafter find, defence, which from the prudent that they had by an ill-timed per- choice and sanction of our ancestors tinacity upon the present occalion had risen into importance and cebrought upon their country cala- lebrity. He for one could not remity and ruin.
press his indignation at the idea of The opposition to the measure of tearing the entign of British glory the fortifications was opened by the from the mait head, and fixing it to country gentlemen. Mr. Bastard the standard of the ramparts of a animadverted with much freedom military garrison. He allured Nir. upon the manner in which the Pitt, that the fense of the county
was decidedly against his fyftem; a constitutional jealousy of a stand. that the defcription of persons, ing army. The system was farther by whom he would find himself op- defended by lord Hood, fir Charles posed this day, were not actuated Middleton, captain Berkeley, capo by party motives, or with a view tain Bowyer, captain Luttrel, Mr. to factious purposes; and that they Hawkins Browne, and Mr. Dunstood up the impartial and inde- das. It was opposed by general pendent advocates of their country. Burgoyne, Mr. Marsham, Mr.
Sir Williain Lemon pursued the Wyndham, Mr. Courtenay, lord · objections of Mr. Bastard; and par- North and Mr. Fox. ticularly observed how ill-timed it Captain Macbride treated the was, to recommend a plan of forti. whole construction of the report in : fications to the house, when it had a style of the most farcastic ridicule. not yet been ascertained whether He affirmed, that the duke of Rich- : our conflitutional force, the militia, mond had employed the moit astowas to be called out annually or nithing art and finesse to endeavour not. He did not impute any ill to warp the opinions of the naval of design to the present adminiftration; ficers in favour of his system. Failbut he conceived, that, in the hands ing in that, he had recourse to a of a weak prince and of wicked piece of mummery, which the cap-. ministers, the proposed lyitem might cain described, and which had expogrow into a formidable engine of fcd the master-general to the ridiprerogative, and be turned against cule of the whole country. The ibe freedom and constitution of conduct of the duke through the Britain. Mr. Walwyn, lately elect- whole progress of the affair was ; ed member for the city of Hereford, utterly unprecedented. He rather begged leave to recommend it to guided and dictated the decisions, Mr. Pite voluntarily to abandon a than mercly presided in the assemmeasure, to which the public in ge- bly. It had been the first board of neral were extremely averse. He officers that ever was constituted, said that report had confidently af- where question and answer came firmed, that the sentiments of the from the president and the senior : minister were not with the system, members. In every other care the. and that he was by no means its junior officer gave his opinion first; fincere advocate; and he hoped the in this the eftablished mode of proreport was true. Viscount Mahon ceeding was completely reversed. juititied the measure, and rested its Colonel Barré renewed upon this defence in particular upon the cir- occasion the oppolition he had forçumtance, that the necessity of for- merly given to the system of the tifications was admitted on all hands, duke of Richmond. He observed, and that the true quellion lay be that, when the house had done him tween the exitting fortifications, the honour to adopt his advice in which required a very large body the last fellion, he certainly had not of troops to man them, and the intended by a board of land and plan of the duke of Richmond, sea officers, a paltry, narrow, cirthe tendency of which was to de- cumscribed plan, that should relate creasc the number of troops that only to two particular spots of the would be requisite, and which illand. Hc had had in his contemtherefore ought to be a favourite plation the conduct of the wifest with those persons who entertained princess that ever reigned, who at: 2
77 a period of extreme peril had taken
Mr. Sheridan particularly difadvantage of the collected wisdom tinguished himself in this debate. of every thing that was expe- He immediately followed lord vif. rienced in both services in her king.count Mahon; and he professed his dom. The board, which he had fincere belief, that this nobleman wished to see instituted, was a board would not vote for the measure in of great, respectable and inde discussion, but upon the supposition pendent characters; men, who had that its tendency was to diminifh no vote to give, no favours to look the military power of the crown. for, no frowns to fear ; men, who Upon this ground therefore he would have done their duty without would meet him, and he was fans the confideration of whom the re- guine enough to imagine, that he fult would gratify, and whom it might be induced to alter the opiwould displease. Their object was nion he had delivered, unless he were to have been in enquire into and reftrained from exercising his free report the best mode of defence of judgment upon the subject. This the kingdom. They would have apprehension indeed might be conacted upon a large scale, and taken ceived, írom the borror which lord an extensive survey of the whole. Mahon had lately expressed of a They would not have compressed tory toe in another place, who bork their business into ten days at Ports. by fap and by form bad affailed mouth,and ten days at Plymouth, but those conftitutional bulwarks, which would have employed a due pro. this nobleman had so zealously enportion of time in the deliberate deavoured to creat for the defence discharge of their duty. The duke of the rights of election. It was of Richmond, colonel Barré ac- not unnatural to presume, that lord knowledged, had great abilities, and Mahon might have entered into a great assiduity. He was acute, ici- serious compact with the duke of entifical, and a perfect master of Richmond, his former ally on the argument in debate. No wonder subject, for reciprocal atlistance in that he was too much for a fet of their two favourite objects, by which brave officers, whose chief skill was lord Mahon was peremptorily to to) out with their lower deck tier and support the plan of fortifying the make ready for action. No won- dock.yards in that house, or the der that the respectable officers who duke of Richmond would no longbad constituted the board, whose er engage to affist him in fortifying characters he revered, and to whose the constitution in the other. authority be bowed in submillion, Mr. Sheridan entered at some were found incapable to cope with length into the part of the argu. the duke in a logical content. The ment which related to the conftitu. colonel paid a very high compli- tion. When we talked of a contiment to the integrity and abilities tutional jealousy of the military of Mr. Pitt, He could not account power of the crown, what was the for his having taken fo active a part real object to which we pointed our in the recommendation of so wild suspicion? What, but that it was and useless a project, but by sup- in the nature of kings to love power, posing that his conscience had been and in the constitution of armies to surprised, and that he also had obcy kings. This doubtless was fallen a facrifice to the fophiltry of plain spe..king upon a delicate sube the master-general.
ject, but the circumstances of the
question demanded it ; and he could subduing the country, that could not be suspected of alluding in the arise even from doubling the presmallest degree either to the present fent establishment, with this extramonarch on the throne, or to the ordinary aggravation, that those army now under his command. very naval itores and magazines, The possible existence however of the feeds and sources of future nafinifter intentions and unfavourable vies, the effectual preservation of circumstances, was that, which must which was the pretence for these enter into the mind of every man unafailable fortresses, would in that when he admitted an argument up. case become a pledge and hostage on the subject. If this were not in the hands of the crown: a cire the case, we burlesqued and derided cumstance, which, in a country like the wisdom of our ancestors in the this, must insure an unconditionprovisions of the bill of rights, and al submission to the most extravamade a mockery of the falutary and gant claims that despotism could sacred reserve, with which for a li- dictate. mited period we annually entrusted Mr. Sheridan however afseried, tbe executive magistrate with the that nothing could prove more faldefence of the country. But this lacious than the idea, that a system being admitted to be the ground of of defence by fortifications could proceeding, what was it to which terminate in a retrenchment of the our attention should be directed ? standing army. The grand fallacy Were our apprehensions to point of this argument must be obvious to only at the length of the muster- every one in the supposition, that soll? Were we to calculate the the system was to end with Portf. number of soldiers the king could mouth and Plymouth, and that the encamp at Hounslow; or the force reasoning, upon which the extenof the detachment he might spare five works for those places were to furround the lobby of the house justified, would not apply to other of commons ? No: the jet and parts of the kingdom. To refute substance of the question lay here; this idea, it was fimply necessary in what situation would the king to suppose the fame board of offiand his evil advisers find them- cers, acting under the fame instrucfelves in a state of the greatest force tions and deliberating with the fame and preparation, and most likely to data, going a circuit round the receive the support of the military? the coasts of the kingdom. It was In this point of view would no stress superfluous to dwell upon the cirbe given to the great and import- cumstances, that no longer permitted. ant distinction which had been us to consider Holland in future, urged, between troops elected and otherwise than as a province of feparated from their fellow.citizens France, or that rendered it reafon. in garrisons and forts, and men able to look with an eye of appreliving scattered and entangled in hension to the neighbouring coast all the common duties and connec. belonging to the emperor. It was not tions of their countrymen? The possible for the house to remain at fact was, that these strong military a loss to discover various places, beholds, if maintained as they muit: fides Chatham and Sheerness wherei be in peace by full and disciplined extenfive lines had actually been garrisons, would in truth promise begun under the auspices of the ten fold the means of curbing and duke of Richmond, which must