« PrejšnjaNaprej »
"That it is with confidence we therefore trust, that his majesty's gracious and benevolent mind will be impressed by the separate and combined effects of those powerful considerations which we the more anxiously press upon his majesty, as we approach his throne under a sincere and irresistible conviction, that the sense of the nation with whom his majesty is engaged in hostilities, as well as the disposition of its present government, affords no unfavourable opportunity for negociation; and that an ardent and universal wish for the restoration, on fair and honourable grounds, of the blessings of peace openly avowed by many of your majesty's allies on the continent, pervades with equal influence the minds of your majesty's loyal, faithful, and affectionate subjects at home."
the common consent of independent states, it cannot fail to be removed by the acquiescence in these doctrines of so considerable a number of those powers, whose united authority forms the only competent tribunal in questions of such universal importance to the rights of nations.
"We cannot therefore reflect on the intercourse maintained by France with the United States of America, as well as with the neutral powers of Europe during the whole of the present war, on the treaties lately concluded with the duke of Tuscany, the king of Prussia, and the provisional government of Holland; on the negociations that have been carried on by Spain, and on the strong declarations of desire to negociate, recently made by his majesty's intimate ally, the Emperor, as head of the Germanic body, and seriously maintain a doubt of that capacity to negociate which so many powerful and independent states have acknowledged, and to whose decision his majesty has added the acquiescence, and in a manner the authority, of this country, by a late mission to the continent to negociate an exchange of prisoners: for we humbly conceive, that a nation cannot absolutely be thought incapable of main taining the accustomed relations of peace and amity, which is treated with as capable of preserving and performing the stipulations which may be entered into for the humane and civilized purpose of alleviating the rigours of war.
"That we humbly beg leave to assure his majesty, that in thus anxiously recommending a speedy negociation for peace, we do not merely contemplate the general advantages which this country always derives from a state of repose and public tranquillity. But as we have seen with grief (whilst we have been occupied in considering the capacity of the present government of France to treat) successive desertions from that general system of alliance on which his majesty and his people chiefly grounded hopes of success; so if this reluctance to treat should continue, we cannot now help anticipating with poignant regret the eventful moment when Great Britain may be reduced to the sad alternative of either providing for the expenses of all the allies, or of singly maintaining a protracted and destructive war in a cause not originally her own, and in which this country was embarked with the assurances of the active and zealous support of almost every European power.
Lord Grenville said, he was willing to accept of the proposition laid down in the address, namely, that a speedy and honourable peace was at all times desirable: but we had not embarked in this war on account of the Dutch, or the navigation of the Scheldt, but in consequence of an unprovoked aggression on the part of the French. With respect to an address to accelerate negociation, in whatever manner it might be disposed of, the proposal was liable to this objection, that any declaration by parliament must tend considerably to weaken the hands of government. Must not the impression made by this address be of a discouraging nature? It certainly must: and instead of strengthening the government, it would be the most effectual mode of weakening it. So far from allowing the executive government to be the principals in the business, the effect would be to promulgate the idea that parliament had thought proper to take the business into its own hands, and to take on itself the responsibility of public measures. Whatever might have been the original grounds of the war, it had now become necessary to continue it. According to the reasoning of those noble lords who raised the cry of peace, we must treat because we could not continue the war. To this he would answer, that he was as desirous of a just and honourable peace as they could be, but to obtain it was impracticable in the present moment; and could there be any thing more encouraging to an enemy than to hear parliament declare that this country was not able any longer to carry on the war? It would be impossible to place government
in a situation in which it would be more difficult to make either war or peace, than that proposed by the noble lord. With respect to the Austrian finances, this country had found out the means of relieving them without taking any burthen on itself. It could not be denied that Austria was strong in men and military resources. In regard to the rescript, the objection made to it was, that it was issued at Ratisbon, at the time that we concluded the treaty with the Emperor at Vienna; this, he thought, did not prevent the object of the war from being happily accomplished. As to the reasoning of the noble lord with respect to the Emperor, as member of the Germanic body and king of Bohemia, it was truly ridiculous: such reasoning would suit coffeehouse politicians, little read in the law of nations. It was perfectly consistent that the Germanic empire as a body should be at peace, although at the same time a particular member might be at war. The situation of France was more alarming than at any former period. Their finances were in a more ruinous situation than what he had mentioned when the question was last agitated. The noble earl had passed over, without the smallest notice, the present internal state of France, which was such, that no dependence could be had on the stability of the government for a fortnight. He trusted the House would see the impropriety of entering into any negociation for peace at present. The French were in possession of a great deal, which it would be impossible, for the safety of this country and of Europe, that they should be permitted to retain. The present situation of France was such, that there was every prospect of our succeeding to a very great degree, and therefore he should give his negative to the motion.
The Earl of Guilford saw clearly that ministers were determined to carry on the war, at all events, until parliament should interfere and put a stop to it. They seemed resolved to risk the existence of the country, rather than the possesion of their situations. Their excuse was, that to enter into any negociation would shackle government. He could not believe that such would be the result of a negociation, and he should therefore give his hearty assent to the motion.
Lord Mulgrave said, that this was certainly not a time to treat, when France was in a state of such internal dissention. Every existing circumstance proved that
this was not a proper time to treat, and therefore, he should oppose the motion. The House divided; Contents, 8; Notcontents, 53.
Debate on Mr. Barham's Motion respecting the Conduct of Sir Charles Grey and Sir John Jervis in the West Indsa Islands.] June 2. Mr. Barham rose to make the motion of which he had given notice, respecting the conduct of sir Charles Grey and sir John Jervis in the West India Islands. He trusted it was unnecessary for him to say any thing in his own vindication for rising on this occasion. He was aware of the manner in which accusations of that kind were generally received in that House, particularly when charges were made against characters which every one had been used to admire, and whom therefore most would naturally wish to protect. He felt also that this was a subject which was not likely to bring popularity to those who conducted it, and that several persons whom he perhaps could have expected to have joined him, would not be very ready to divide with him the unpopularity of this business. Notwithstanding all this discouragement, the subject was of such a nature, that he could not, consistently with his duty, abandon it. He was fully convinced that the conduct in the West Indies of which he complained, was such as to demand the interposition of the House, whether they considered the commercial interest of the country, or the recovery of the national honour. If he should hear any thing of delay in this business, and the delay was imputed to him, he should be ready to meet it; for although the motion with which he intended to conclude, could not, consistently, be made one day sooner than that on which he was speaking, it was necessary he should state that application had been made to ministers upon the conduct of these commanders in the West Indies, as far back as August last; but no answer had been obtained from them until the following April. And as he did not make this motion as a matter of course, but upon the ground of facts, the delay became unavoidable. The first answer from the duke of Portland to lord Penrhyn, was, that the law officers of the crown were not fully prepared to make their report upon the business. This was on the 7th of April: on the 4th of May he made his motion for certain papers to be laid before the House. When these pa
of the islands. A sceond, how far the conditions had been complied with? Thirdly, how far they had been forfeited by the conduct of the inhabitants? This could not be done, however, without inquiry. The next thing would be, the degree of resistance which the inhabitants made to his majesty's troops in the islands, and whether it justified the severity and the force of military law which had been adopted. These were points which could not be settled without inquiry, and therefore he put them by for the present; nor would be necessary for him at all to notice them unless the inquiry should be entered into; and in order to give his opponents full benefit of every thing that could be urged on those topics, he would admit how-beforehand every thing that it was posble for them to prove. Supposing, then, the resistance to have been made, he would consider how far the proclamation of the commanders could be justified according to the practice of war in modern days, and according to the law of nations: how far it suited the particular situation of the West India islands at the time; and how far it was compatible with the gene
pers were produced he gave notice of the present motion, which he appointed for the second open day, which was afterwards deferred at the express desire of the chancellor of the exchequer. Before he proceeded to state the grounds of the motion with which he intended to conclude, he should inform the House that his motion was not for a committee of inquiry into the conduct of sir Charles Grey and sir John Jervis, and this for two reasons: one, that he was not at all pledged to make any such motion; nor could he tell what motion would be pro-it per, until he had seen the papers which he moved for. The other, that he did not think he should obtain it if he moved for it, and that a great part of his object might be obtained without inquiry: ever, if his opponents should propose an inquiry, he could have no objection. With regard to some of the proceedings of the commanders in the West Indies, they spoke for themselves intelligibly enough, and to them he should confine the grounds of his motion. Out of them he did not intend to travel, unless his opponents should set him the example. If he should be told of the service of plateral interest of the state. With regard to the that had been given to these commanders, resistance made by the inhabitants of the and that this was a proof of the estimation islands to his majesty's troops, he was perof their services in the islands, he should suaded that all the accounts which had been answer that this was not expressive of the given of it, were very much exaggerated. general sentiments of the inhabitants, but What he complained of did not apply to was the act of a few persons who were the particular acts of severity of the comdependent upon the commanders. If manders; they, many of them, were now they should say any thing of the testimo- in a course of legal discussion; but it was nials, he should answer, that the inhabi- the principle of the proclamation on which tants of the islands are now complaining those acts proceeded. And he could not in courts of justice of the conduct of help observing, that the conduct of those these commanders-a proof that these who defended the commanders was a little inhabitants think their conduct illegal, as curious. If he complained of the acts, they well as unfair. There was a document referred to the proclamation. If he com on the table which some gentlemen might plained of the proclamation, they referred to rely upon a good deal, in the discussion the acts. With regard to the proclamaof this matter. He meant the affidavit tion, he should consider it in a general way, of general Myers. He had nothing to and examine the spirit of it. He proceeded say against this officer, but he must re- to read extracts from the printed papers, in mark, that as the document had been laid the course of which he made several comon the table without any notice to him or ments. In the first place, the inhabitants any other person interested in the part were told, that "all those who availing he took in this discussion, it would have themselves of the invitation, in a quiet been but fair to allow time to them to and peaceable manner, should submit to answer it. Besides, this affidavit was no- the authority of the king, and put themthing but ex parte evidence, and that, too, selves under his majesty's protection, from a witness who was something of a should be assured of personal safety, as party in the business.-There were seve- well as a full and immediate enjoyment ral points to be considered in this business. of all their lawful property, according to One, the original promise of protection their ancient laws and customs, and on from the commanders to the inhabitants the most advantageous terms, those per
sons alone excepted, whose removal should be found necessary for the safety of the island; and even to persons of this déscription, whatever may be their conduct, we promise a safe conveyance to France." In this nothing was said of confiscation. He then came to the two proclamations of the 10th and 21st of May, 1794, on which he chiefly founded his motion, and signed by general Prescot, under the order of the commanders. By these proclamations, nothing could be more clear than that a general contribution, and a general confiscation were intended, and there was no species of property that was not enumerated under them. How it wa to be proved that these proclamations were not intended to be carried into effect, he could not conceive. The next thing to be considered was, whether there was any necessity for this? Whether the inhabitants had opposed his majesty's troops, so as to make it necessary? He had carefully perused the dispatches, and there was not the least proof of any such resistance having been offered by the inhabitants, persons of any property whatever. The whites were always well inclined to the British government, but were kept in subjection by the Mulattoes, and the Negroes, and the Petits Blancs, which are a set of people possessing no property. The emigrants also had been driven into exile, and their property confiscated. There might have been something of the kind done by a banditti, but he thought it really fair to conclude there was none of the resistance to make those proclamations necessary. These inhabitants in consequence of the first proclamation had joined us; and from the manner in which they were treated afterwards, they saw clearly it would have been better for them if they had opposed us. This appeared to him to be highly injurious to our character, as a people generally renowned for justice and humanity. It was inconsistent with the rest of our conduct in this war; and while in various parts of the globe, we were covering our enemies with bounty, those who trusted to our good faith met with ruin. With regard to the idea of these islands having been taken by storm, the thing appeared to him to be astonishing. St. Pierre was stormed without reason or necessity, it being nothing but an open town without wall or ditch: and when the British troops advanced, resistance was only made by a few negroes
and mulattoes. Nor was this all; the whole island of Martinique was stormed; and gentlemen might judge of the necessity of such a measure, by imagining what their surprise would be to hear of the storming of Hampshire. He would ask, if there was any insurrection here, would any person talk of taking Hampshire by storm? At Martinique, an island strongly fortified and capable of the greatest resistance, as it contained 15,000 white inhabitants, besides negroes and people of colour, the contest lasted 23 days, and only 84 men were said to be lost. Gaudaloupe held out for eight days; St. Lucie, three days, and was said to be taken without loss. If, under such circumstances these places could be said to be taken by storm, the conclusion to be drawn from it was, that the fate of war was wonderfully altered, and the French must have lost entirely, in this case, their character for fighting. Very different was his conclusion from such premises; he thought the circumstances proved beyond a doubt that the inhabitants did not at all oppose us. But even supposing that they actually resisted us, it would then be a question how far these proclamations were agreeable to the law of nations, and compatible with our interests as a state; and upon this he thought the House ought to come to a decision, otherwise the law of nations would appear to be nothing but a chimera-an idea that would be very injurious to the interest of all well regulated states. He laid it down as a principle, that enemies when conquered immediately became subjects entitled to protection. The inhabitants of the islands had not been so regarded in this case, and therefore the House ought to annul the proceedings of the commanders. He contended, that this mode of levying contributions, and subjecting to confiscation, had never been the practice in former wars, and that the manner in which the commanders in the West Indies had allowed the taking of booty, was contrary to the act of parliament which regulated that point on our part. He insisted also, that the conduct of these commanders was contrary to their instructions. He then proceeded to show that the procla mations had been acted upon; and he read a petition that had been presented to the commanders, reminding them of their declaration in March, promising protection, &c. and complaining that the subsequent proclamations for contribution and
| He could refer to many former instances, where there had been a considerable degree of resistance; and yet no such principles as those contained in the proclamations, had been attempted to be enforced As a proof of the loyal dispositions of the inhabitants of Martinique, he quoted the authority of general Bruce, who men tioned, that 800 French planters had taken up arms in the British cause, all of whom must have either been removed or massacred; yet there appeared no evidence that in the late expedition any steps had been taken to secure their property for the use of their heirs. As an addi
confiscation had been enforced against them. Even supposing that these proclamations had not been acted upon, in his opinion they ought to be disavowed. He would ask, by way of illustration, whether the manifesto of the duke of Brunswick ought not to have been censured, although it had never been acted upon? For these reasons he trusted the House would come to a declaration upon the proclamations, and that no shift would be made use of to get rid of the subject, by moving the previous question, or any think of that sort. The House should not suppose that by passing this subject by, they would be doing nothing; they would be doing that which was very dangerous. He concluded with moving, "That an humble Address be presented to his ma jesty, representing, that it appears to this House, that certain Proclamations were issued by sir Charles Grey, and sir John Jervis, in the island of Martinique, and dated May the 10th and 21st 1794, which this House conceives to contain principles not warranted by the law of nations, and of dangerous precedent in all future cases of hostility, and which have occasioned great alarm and dissatisfaction in his majesty's colonies; and therefore humbly praying his majesty, that he will be graciously pleased to take such measures for recalling the same, and removing the apprehension of his faithful subjects, as to his majesty shall seem good."
tional proof of the loyalty of the inhabitants, he stated that at the time appointed for taking the oath of allegiance, the concourse was so great, that the person employed to administer the oath obliged to send many of them away. He referred to the distinction between the laws of war and the rights of conquest. When the conquest took place in the islands, no reservation had been made of the rights of war; the inhabitants took the oaths of allegiance, and were recognized as British subjects; yet soon after an assembly was convened for the purpose of levying a contribution, who by declining to meet, gave evident proof of their dissatisfaction. The first instance of contribution had taken place in St. Lucia. A sum of 300,000l. was imposed, which was afterwards reduced to 150,000. Of this, only 35,000l. had been raised, a plain proof that the original imposition was felt to be exorbitant. It had been urged, that during the command of sir Charles Grey and sir John Jervis, no complaints had been transmitted to this country. The reason was obvious: no notary could be found to draw up a remonstrance with the certainty of incurring the displeasure of the superior council, and the consequent risk of being expelled from the islands. He instanced some particular cases of oppression which had taken place; among others, that of Mr. Thornton, who had an estate of about 20,000l. a year in the neighbourhood of St. Pierre, who was at that time dismissed the island, without a shirt to his back, and under the necessity of borrowing a guinea from a friend to purchase his passage to France. He
Mr. Manning referred to the declaration published in 1793, as explanatory of the principles upon which the war was to have been conducted, and from which he conceived the proclamations to be a wide deviation. He referred also to the instructions to the commanders in the West Indies, which in speaking of booty, expressly excepted the property of the settled inhabitants; that very species of property, against which the proclamations were directed. He felt himself called upon to support the motion, not merely as a West India merchant who had a considerable interest in that quarter, but as a British subject who demanded that the character of the nation should be vindicated from the reproach of injustice. The affidavit of general Myers stated, that a general resistance had been made to the British arms in Martinique. It was to be recol-affirmed that the proclamations of the 10th lected that this island was thirty leagues and 21st of May, were neither justified by in length, and seven in breadth, from which the principles of the law of nations, nor it would appear how far it was probable the practice of former times. He conthat such a resistance had been made. trasted the conduct of the marquis of