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Bouille with respect to St. Kitt's with that which had been observed by the British commanders. After the French had taken the island, he himself continued regularly to receive his remittances through Ostend, Bruges, or Hamburgh. The complaint on this occasion had been ascribed entirely to disappointed speculators: but he himself had received hundreds of letters from respectable planters in different places, unconnected with commerce, and not personally interested in the French West India islands, that reprobated in the strongest terms the conduct of the British commanders. From these he read some extracts to the House. These extracts talked of the inhuman and avaricious conduct of the British commanders as having fixed a stain upon the name of the country; and of the example which they had exhibited of rapacity and oppression, as being calculated in a reverse of fortune to produce a most dangerous retaliation on the part of the French. In vindication of the proclamations great stress might possibly be laid on what had formerly taken place in the island of St. Eustatius-a precedent which, he believed, would not be very popular in the country. In that case, however, the commanders had been particularly instructed to take possession of the island as a hostile arsenal. Mr. Manning entered into a definition of what was to be considered as booty, which he confined to the description given under the prize act, and stated it as his opinion that the rights of conquest consisted merely in the exercise of legal sovereignty; that the laws of war only applied to the instances in which a place was taken by storm, and could not be supposed to exist with respect to the subjugation of an extended territory. The object of the motion was, to call for a disavowal of the proclamations; which was only calling upon ministers to do publicly what they had already done in private, by instructions sent to the West Indies annulling those proclamations. Considering that disavowal to be necessary, upon principles of reason, justice, and sound policy, he should support the motion.
the disavowal of the proclamations which
Mr. Grey said, that after the two ex-tinct in their statement, he would endea-
vour to separate in the discussion. It had
a legal sovereignty succeeds, and the people who are subjugated come under the protection of the conquerors. He always had understood, that when terms had been refused, when the utmost resistance had been made, the persons and property of the vanquished became subject to the sovereign whose troops occupied their territory. Such was the doctrine which prevailed in the law of nations, and which was not carried in the proclamations beyond what was allowed by the mitigated practice of modern times. It had been stated also that the soldiers had no right to booty, except of the description defined in the prize act. The prize act applied only to that species of booty which belonged to the captors; it did not lessen the right of majesty to that booty, which was uniformly the reward of conquest in every instance where resistance bad been pushed to its utmost limits. Under this description of booty the proclamations included nothing but the stores and produce of the planters, which had been manufactured and packed up for exportation before the 23d of March; and this booty had been assigned to the soldiers only under grant of his majesty, and subject to his future disposal. By their proceeding on this occasion the commanders had shown themselves anxious to maintain at once the rights of the sovereign, and the discipline of the soldiery. Even for the sake of the conquered country, such a procedure was perhaps the most desirable. If the soldiers were not to be allowed what they felt to be a due reward of their labours, they would conceive that they had a right to take it; what they thus thankfully accepted as a boon, they would then extort by violence; and instead of a moderate contribution, a system of universal plunder would follow. The commanders, then, did not want for their conduct the apology which had been assigned them of mistake, inadvertence, or misinformation: they had acted from a sense of duty, from zeal for the rights of their sovereign, and from regard to the discipline of the troops under their command. Their conduct was even such as, from enlightened views of policy, would be found ultimately most conducive to the peace and security of the conquered country.-On this occasion reference had been made to their instructions. On inspecting these instructions, he was blind enough to think that they furnished a complete vindication, not only for what
But though the objection had been made on the ground of principles, it had been chiefly supported upon an enumeration of facts. It had been broadly stated that every thing done at St. Eustatius had been done in the late expedition. There was some confusion as to other topics. At one time the House were told of the danger of retaliation, in consequence of the cruelty experienced by the subjects of the French government; at another the complaint was, that our own supporters and allies had not been treated with proper regard. As to the cruelty experienced by subjects of the French government, he had always heard that the present war on the part of the French was a war of plunder, rapine, and devastation; that it was carried on by them in opposition to all order, humanity and religion: the West India merchants had joined in this representation; but it now appeared that the fact was quite the reverse- that the French were a moderate, humane, and equitable people, and that no apprehensions were to be entertained from them, except so far as they might be influenced to retaliation by the example of cruelty and oppression afforded by Great Britain, in the prosecution of the contest. It had been insinuated, that the misfortunes in Grenada and the other West-India islands had been owing to the oppression and rapacity of the British commanders: as well might they trace the disasters in Flanders to the same source. What could be more absurd than to suppose that proclamations which had been annulled, and not acted upon, should have occasioned the subsequent devastations in Guadalope and Grenada? Objections had been taken to the manner in which the wording of the proclamations had been attempted to be explained. What, however, could be more evident than that by the expression "the value of the conquest," nothing more was meant than the value of the property liable to be confiscated, and not the value of the fee simple of the island? Great complaints had been made on account of the proclamations not having been transmitted to this country. Sir Charles Grey in his letter assigned the reasons why that had not been done. As to their being inaccurate, it appeared upon the face of the proclamations themselves that the translations must be inaccurate. On the subject of the rights of conquest, it had been stated, that the moment resistance ceases,
they had done, but for what they intended to do. It had been supposed that there existed no right to booty, except on the capture of a fortified place. So far was this from being specified, that in one copy of instructions relative to booty, mention was made of what might be taken in a settlement, and in another the general case was put of a conquered country. Even in instances of capitulation a certain right of booty had been reserved to the sovereign and the troops; and in cases of storm a larger proportion had been allotted to the soldiers, because they, on such occasions, were necessarily exposed to a greater degree of fatigue and danger. Mr. Grey here quoted from history, examples of the practice to which he alluded. An hon. gentleman had mentioned what had taken place at St. Eustatius as a precedent of no good authority, and not very likely to be popular with the country. He had said, that if an hon. gentleman (Mr. Burke), no longer a member of that House, who had brought forward the conduct of the commanders at St. Eustatius, had been present, he should not have been under the necessity of coming forward. He was reminded, indeed, that the hon. gentleman who complained of the conduct of lord Rodney and general Vaughan, had after the 12th of April dropped all proceedings, and even handsomely said, that "if there was a bald spot on the head of lord Rodney he would cover it with a laurel." Would he then, after the brilliant services performed in the WestIndies, have been the person to have come forward with a charge of crimination against the commanders at the head of the expedition? So much for the wording of the proclamation. He would next examine how far it had been acted upon. The moment that it had been known to the commanders that it occasioned discontent and dissatisfaction, or had in the smallest degree been considered as oppressive, it had immediately been annulled. As it was impossible to lay down a precise rule where there was so much room for the exercise of discretion, it was impossible to say whether the proclamations were right or wrong, except some method could be contrived to take into consideration all the circumstances of the country at the moment in which they were issued. It had been said, that the contents of the proclamations were in direct opposition to the declaration of the 1st of Jauuary. It must first be necessary to show that the [VOL. XXXII.]
declaration had been accepted. It was said that the terms held out in that declaration were either protection or removal; protection to those who submitted themselves, and removal of such as should be found refractory. If gentlemen, however, read the conclusion of that paper, they might perhaps find another alternative. The conclusion was this: "All such persons as in contempt of his majesty's benevolent intention, shall dare to oppose this declaration, shall be treated as enemies, and remain exposed to all the evils which the operations of war cannot fail to bring over their persons and property." Did not this in the plainest manner point out confiscation, and all the other consequences authorised by the rights of conquest? The paper was intended to contain an inducement to submission. Though the motion was confined to Martinique, an hon. gentleman had thought proper to travel into St. Lucie for facts in order to support it, It was material to be ascertained whether the inhabitants of Martinique did not resist, in direct opposition to what had been asserted. He would prove that they did generally resist; that they had not aided the progress of the British troops, even by intelligence: he would prove it by the evidence of the whole army: he would prove it by facts themselves. An hon. gentleman had gone so far back as the expedition of general Bruce; but what had he proved by his statement, but that the great majority in Martinique were decidedly attached to the Convention; and that the others who had sided with the British, had been since expelled, or massacred?-He would proceed to examine the curious memorial and affidavit which had not been permitted by the House to lie upon the table. Taking the memorial from its contents, not knowing Mr. Thellusson, by whom it was signed, whether he was a member of that House or another of the same name, he had formerly asserted what he should again repeat, that it was a series of falsehood from beginning to end, and that the affidavit upon which it was grounded, was an instance of the grossest perjury. If, as he understood, the gen tleman by whom the memorial was signed, was a merchant of eminence, it would well become him to consider what he was doing, and to examine the public dispatches, before, upon the evidence of one, who is declared to be a notoriously good man, but, who is so notoriously good, that the gentleman who thus characterized him,
would not undertake to support his allega- | said, that the courts of law were full of tion upon oath; before, upon such evi- complaints against the conduct of the comdence, he ventured to attack the character, manders. He had communicated with the and to wound the feelings of respectable solicitor in order to ascertain the fact, and commanders. This Mr. Malespine states, had found that no claim had been exhithat when the town of St. Pierre received bited, but that of Mr. Malespine. As to the first summons from his majesty's com- what had been said of no notary public manders, the white inhabitants were so ab- having dared to draw up a remonstrance solutely at the disposal of the negroes and while the commanders remained in the people of colour, that they could not ma- West Indies, he defied gentlemen to pronifest their desire of surrendering. The duce a single instance in which any comtown of St. Pierre had at no time been plaint presented to those commanders had disposed to the British cause. Why, then, been rejected. The disavowal of the proshould. Mr. Malespine have taken refuge clamations could not be contended to be in a town which had been the source of all useful, since they had already been virtuthe troubles in Martinique, when by re- ally reversed; and when by the motion maining in the open country, he might at claiming that disavowal, it was intended least have shown his pacific dispositions, to wound the feelings, and to injure the and, if so inclined, have afforded assist- fame of commanders who had rendered ance to the British arms? Mr. Males their country the most eminent services, pine states, that after the proclamation and had in consequence received the was issued, the inhabitants took the oath thanks of that House, he could have no of allegiance; just as if the oath had im- hesitation in giving it his decided negamediately followed the date of the pro- tive. clamation. The impression intended to be produced by this mode of statement, was sufficiently obvious. He would next proceed to the statement of facts, in support of which he could produce the evidence of a number of respectable officers, who were attending near that House, if their testimony should be required. These were the officers who had commanded in the different divisions who had made their attack on several parts of the island, and who had not experienced the smallest assistance or support from one white inhabitant. With a view to injure the fame of the commanders, the service had been attempted to be depreciated. It had been said, that the conquest had cost only 28 days; when in reality it had taken up from the 6th of February to the 25th of March; and that only 84 men had been lost, when it would be found from the returns that the number of killed and wounded amounted to between 2 and 300. As it might be deemed too late in the session to enter into the inquiry, he would read the report of the officers in their own words. He here read the report of the officers who commanded the different divisions in the attack on Martinique. The report went, in the plainest and most direct manner, to contradict all the facts alleged in the memorial and the affidavit. Mr. Grey stated, that he had received voluntary offers of testimonials to the same purpose, from almost every officer who had served under the commanders.-It had been
Mr. Secretary Dundas said, that it was his intention to oppose the proposition brought forward, and to move another in its stead. He meant no disrespect either to the mover or seconder; but they certainly had not kept to the question, and the letters which had been read, apparently written from motives of animosity and malice, he considered as perfectly extraneous. They had grounded all their complaints and fears upon the papers before the House, while they had not attempted to prove that any thing in the proclamation issued by the commanders gave just foundation for the alarms they had so industriously circulated. Did what had taken place at St. Vincent's proceed from those proclamations; or, was it not from the insurrection of the Caribs, aided by Jacobin principles, that devastation had followed in that island? The same might be said of Grenada; and no possible case could be made out, which would prove that the proclamations in any manner occasioned the misfortunes which those islands had lately suffered. Another thing with regard to those proclamations was, that, having been notoriously annulled and abandoned before any proceedings had been had upon them, it was impossible that any actual grievance could be complained of, with justice, on that account, no property of any description having been taken from the inhabitants in consequence of the proclamation. He was quite at a loss to know
what was the object of the address moved | for, or what the hon. gentlemen meant his majesty's ministers should advise the king to do. The next point was the general principle, as far as it was connected with the law of nations, upon which his majesty's ministers and the commanders in the West Indies had acted. On this he would only say, that he had acted in concert with his colleagues, and never without having what they considered to be the best and soundest legal advice the country could afford them. Were it not that the person was present, to whom they owed so much on that subject, he would have said more. With regard to the prize-money or booty, the king had not yet decided how it was to be disposed of; of course, nobody concerned in the expedition could be said to have received it. With regard to the easiness of the conquest, he differed widely from those who seemed to underrate the services performed; and he contended, that the degree of resistance which the British forces met with, fully justified every proceeding that had taken place. He felt it his duty not merely to give his negative to the proposition moved, nor to get rid of it by the order of the day. The gratitude that the country owed to those gallant men, who had done such brilliant services as had merited and received the unanimous thanks which that House had already come to, pointed out the necessity of doing something farther. His intention, therefore, was to move two resolutions; but in order to get rid of the motion, he would first move the previous question.
Sir William Scott said, he objected to the original motion; first, because the House was thereby called to decide on the general principles of the laws of nations, and he could not help thinking, that for the House to decide on abstract laws of nations, was unwise: 2dly, because it went to censure the proclamations, without the aid of any real evidence: and 3dly, because the questions both of law and fact were now depending in the competent court. The law of nations had provisions to regulate the mode of war or self-defence. The rights of war were of a delicate nature, depended on particular circumstances, and must bend to those circumstances, and be directed by the
wisdom of the executive government. General principles were laid down in a strong manner by writers; but it was on government that we were to rely for a prudent application of them. The rights of war were harsh, but yet they were rights that existed: happy would it be if the state of humanity, in that respect, was altered, and war existed no longer; but this was a point more desirable than attainable. It was not possible to make an innoxious or a peaceable war. The very intent of war being to compel people, by a sense of suffering, to do what otherwise they would not do. The general principle of the law of nations was, to make the private property of the subjects of the hostile countries, amenable to the rights of war; and its effect was, to make every man that was the subject of one state in hostility, the enemy of every subject of the other. The property of every individual in the state composed the property of the state itself, and was subject to the rights of war. This was the law of nations as it existed; sorry should he be if it was to be enforced vigorously; but if the House were to come to a decision on the point, they must necessarily come to one as harsh as that. For the enforcing and dispensing of those laws, this country had proper courts; first, the court of admiralty, and next, the court of appeals. The decision of those courts was as binding as those of any court of law; indeed more so, for the legislature had an unlimited power over the municipal laws of the country, while its authority over the law of nations was not of such extent. In the case of St. Eustatius, the same principles as those broached that night were laid down in that House by gentlemen of the first talents; but the court of admiralty, and the lords commissioners of appeals, attended by lord Camden, and other respectable judges, determined that the universal principle was, that the private property of individuals was subject to confiscation. To punish error or inadvertency in the application of the general principles of the law of nations, on the part of commanders, would be to subject them to a responsibility too rigorous for any officer to incur. In the proclamations there might be expressions which, on mature consideration, and better advice than could be expected in actual service, it would be desirable to correct; but this was not the criterion by which the House