« AnteriorContinuar »
Free Negroes in the Island of Jamaica.—Hunted by Blood-Hounds.—Afotiorti by Mr. Grey, in the House os Commons, for an Inquiry into the State of the Nation.—Negatived.—Farther Taxes.—For paying the Interest of an additional Loan.—Mortality among the Troops fail againjl the French IVeJl-lndia Islands.—-Neglect and Distresses of the Troops.—Motion for Documents on these Subjects hy Mr. Sheridan.—Debates thereon.—Air. Sheridan's Motion agreed to.—Mo/ion, in the House os Peers, for the Production of Papers respecting a I'ote of Parliament, in 1783, recognizing the Necessity os certain Public Reforms.—Debates thereon.—The Motion negatived.—Report of the Committee of Supply on the Resolution for granting a Subsidy to the King os Sardinia.—Conversation on that Subject, ■^Charges laid againjl Ministry, by Mr. Grey, as Ground of Impeach' went 1 and a Motion on that Subject.—Negatived.—Motions, in both Houses of Parliament, againjl the Continuation of the JVar.—Negatived.— Motion, by Mr. IVilbersorce, for the Abolition os the Slave-Trade, on 4 Certain Day.—Negatived.-*-Thc Sejston if Parliament closed by a Speech from the Throne
TtiE hostilities against the free negroes, in the island of Jamaica, known by the denomination of maroons, had been carried on a long time without effect. The force employed against them amounted to five thousand men; but the difficulty of coming at their recelles, and frequently of discovering them^ had frustrated the repeated attempts of this force, though it had omitted toothing that valour and perseverance could suggest: and yet, those maroons were but a handful of men, hardly consisting of fix hundred bearing arms. The improbability of compelling them to submit, by the usual methods of sighting, induced the government of jamaicaj as stated in our last volumr, to have recourse to The mode adopted b,y tin: Spaniards in similar cafes. It applied to the Spanish inhabitants tffthe island of Cuba, and obtained
from them a hundred blood-hounds, with twenty men, expert in the training and conducting of them. With this supply, the military penetrated into the interior parts of the mountainous and woody country, occupied by the maroons, and compelled them to surrender. They were transported to the British provinces in North Ame* rica.
Though, ns afterwards sally appeared in the subsequent seflion of parliament-, the goverment of Jamaica had not incurred the gui/t os either barbarity or breach of faith, yet an erroneous conviction, that the blood-hounds had been employed, not only to track out the maroons, but to tear and mangle them, excited a pretty ge* neral outcry. No degree of political expediency could justify the adoption of inch a meafuro. Spawft
Spanish cruelty, it was said, afforded no precedent or excuse tor Englifhmen.
General Macleod brought this subject into the house os commons, on die twenty- lixth of February, and roaiplained of the disgrace attending such a measure. He was answered, that it was a matter of necessity, and not of choice; that the maroons massacring, without mercy, everyone that fell into their hands, they could be conlidered in no other light than murderers, and de-' ffcrved extermination by any means thai could be employed to that pur pole.
she general moved, however, on the twenty-first of March, for an address to the king, requesting he would direct the papers, concerning the maroon-war, to ho laid before the house. He grounded his motion on a letter from Jamaica^ stating the facts above-mentioned: he described the maroons as a free people, proprietors of the country they inhabited. He mentioned it, as customary among the Spaniards, in Cuba, to feed their blood-hounds on human flefli, in order to render them ferocious: but could a British parliament, he laid, connive at such atrocities and encourage so inhuman a spirit in Britilh officers and soldiers?
Mr. Dnndas replies), that the maroons had commenced hostilities against our people, at Jamaica, without any reasonable provocation, and had exercised great barbarities in prosecuting them. It was their practice to sally forth from their fastnesses in the night, and to furprize the planters; multitudes of whom they massacred: after which, they retreated to the woods and mountains, the passe-J-lo which were
inacressible. In such circumstances our people could not be blamed for employing the necessary means to secure themselves, and to annoy Ib ferocious an enemy. The motion, therefore, he said, was not sufficiently grounded, to comply with it, without an accurate inquiry into particulars The mere rumour, however, he acknowledged, had induced ministry to signify its disapprobation os such a measure to the government at Jamaica.
On Mr. Dundas's assuring the general that dispatches of this tenor had been sent, he withdrew his motion: not however till Mr. Sheridan expatiated on the subject, in answer to Mr. Barham, who had represented the maroons as rebels; but whom the former justified, in their resentment os the punishment inflicted upon one of their people, who ought, according to treaty, to have been delivered up to his countrymen, to be tried and punished by them for the misdemeanour of which he had been guilty.
In the mean time, a report was daily gaining ground, that the plans of ministry embraced Inch a multiplicity of objects, that new demands would shortly be made of means to carry them into execution. Their opponents thought it expedient, for that reason, to call the attention of the public to the situation of the national finances, in order that a just idea might be formed of the conduct of ministers in this essential department. On the tenth of March, this subject was brought into the house os commons, by Mr. Grey: who observed, that, in whatever circumstances the country might be placed, whether of war or of peace-, the strictest economy was become more dilpen
fible than ever. France would in- hundred thousand pounds, while the dubitably aim at the formation of a commerce of this country had fufrespectable marine, and so would fered more from the enemy than every power that could in any de- in any preceding quarrel; the exgrec maintain its conhderation at traordinaries of the army were nine ica. Our inconteftible fuperiority millions. These were unconscionon the ocean rendered us an object able expences, as, notwithstanding of universal envy and dread; and the advance of price in all articles these were cogent motives with all of public or private demand, they the Europeans to seek for our de had not risen to such a height as to pression : but they were no less justify the difference between the urgent to induce this country to cost of the present and of former prelerve that superiority, without wars. The extraordinaries of the which our internal security was nine years war, from the revolution evidently precarious; but, had we to the peace of Ryswick, in 1697, been suficiently attentive to the were twelve hundred thousand means of preserving it? Had we pounds. Those of eleven years not lavished, with scandalous pro- war, in the reign of queen Anne, fufion, immense fums, for which no were two millions. They did not adequate services had been per- together amount to one-half of the formed? Seventy-seven millions had, extraordinaries of the present year: in the course of the lali three ycars, the cause of this increale of expence been added to the public debis; to was not so much the difference of pay the interest of which, taxes had price in neceflary articles, many of been laid, amounting to two mil which continued the same in this Jions fix hundred thousand pounds, respect as at that day, as the adThe expences of former wars, how. dition of unneceilary expences ever great, did not equal those of The extraordinaries and the votes the present; and yet thole wars of credit, in 1778, 79, and 80, were more extensive and important were less by three millions two in tlieir object than the present. hundred thousand pounds than the In the contest that lost us America prefent: in the ordnance, the exministerial profusion was notorious; traordinaries arole to near three the debt contracted did not, how- millions. These augmentations in ever, exceed fixty-three millions, the national expences were obvinotwithstanding the duration of that ously unconftitutional, as they were fatal quarrel was twice what this made without parliamentary fancbad now been; and we had all tion. The total cf the money thus Europe to contend with. When expended was upwards of thirtythe present war began, the mi- one millions; and together with that nister engaged, in a folemn manner, voted by the parliainent amounted to obviate, by every possible means, to fixty-lix millions eight hundred extraordinaries of all kinds; but thoufand pounds. This immente how had he kept his word? not- sum had been expended in three withstanding the most liberal grants years of an inglorious and ruinous that ever minister had experienced, war. Another unconstitutional prothe extraordinaries of the navy ceeding, of a most alarming nature, amounted to thirteen millions leven was the erection of barracks. These
were were justly, by judge Blackstone, ing ever known in this country, was styled inland fortrelles, and were twenty-two millions five hundred undeniably intended to separate the and eighty-five thousand pounds; military from the civil clafles, and and the fame average for the last to keep the latter in awe by means three years of war was twenty-four of the former. They had been millions four hundred and fifty-three erected too without consulting par- thousand. The advantage in the liament, and had coft, since the year borrowing of money, at present, was 1790, eleven hundred thouland cne and a half per cent. greater than pounds, and more was now de- during the American war. At the manded for their completion. Mi- clole of the war in 174.8 the national nifterial demands of loans from the debt was eighty millions, in 1762 bank were also become, of late, one hundred and forty: but had the enormous, and intirely repugnant present [vstemn, of appropriating a to the primitive motives of its in- million annually to the extincion ftitution, which were to allift the of that debt, been fortunately adoptmercantile transactions of the king- ed at the first of these periods, that dom, and to maintain its commer- heavy load would now have been cial credit: but it had, in many totally thrown off the nation. The relpects, degenerated into an engine expenditure of this war was, doubtof Itate: it was now near twelve less, immense; but the exertions, millions in advance to government. to which it was applied, were os no Mr. Grey entered into other par- less magnitude. Never was the ticulars, to thew the irregularity pre- energy of this country so astonissa vailing in the financial departments. ingly displayed, nor its resources 10 He concluded by affirming, in con- wonderfully proved : our fleets and sequence of farther details, that tlie armies were in a far fuperior connational revenue fell Thort of the dition, both as to numbers and peace-establishment by two millions equipment, to those maintained in and a half, the latter being twenty- the American war. It was unfair two millions, the former only nine- to complain of increasing expences. teen millions five hundred thousand The augmentation of price in all pounds. Thus we should be loaded the articles of life and social interwith farther taxes to supply that course, added, of consequence, the deficiency, even were a peace to en- fame proportion of increale in min fue. On these premises, he moved litary expences; nor ought the ful). that the house should resolve itself fidies to our allies to be reputed into a committee, to inquire into extravagant, considering their utility the state of the nation,
to the common caule, hy enabling The positions of Mr. Grey were there to act much more effectually controverted by Mr.Jenkinson, who against the foe, than if they were maintained, that the coinmercial lelt to their fole exertions. The htuation of Great Britain, notwith- pressures of the enemy flewed how standing the weight of so great a wisely the trealures of this country war, was more prosperous ihan at had been employed in itrengtheniany antecedent periods. The ave- ing the power of his continental rage of exports, during the three adversaries, while our luccellus at haft years of peace, the mofi flourish- sea had reduced him to the lowest
state of debility he had ever experienced on that element: it was, therefore, neither j nil nor prudent to represent this country as distressed, and its ministers as unworthy of*confidence, and incapable of discharging their dutv. They had (hewn themselves adequate to the various talks impoled on them by the arduous contingencies of the war, and had not merited the aspersions so repeatedly cp.st upon them. There had been a time when lar greaser stretches ot" ministerial power were beheld without complaint. In the reigns of George I. and II. such was the implicit trust of the limes in their integrity, that millions had palled through their hands for secret services, of which an explanation was not required. Hence it appears, that, the vigilance of parliament in former days, however exalted above that of the present, was, in truth, not to be compared with that anxious and groundless jealousy with which the opponents to ministry watched over all its proceedings, in order to discover how -they could render, them suspicious to the public. On these grounds, he considered the motion as illfounded, and deserving no support from, those who viewed the conduct ot ministers impartially, and with a determination to listen without prejudice to what they allege in their defence, as well as to the imputations and surmises laid to their charge.
Mr. Curwen, Mr. Robinson, and Mr. Martin, supported the motion; Mr. Steele opposed it, and staled the extraordinaries to be much lower than represented by Mr. Grey. The expence of the barracks had not, he affirmed, exceeded fix hundred and ten thousand pounds, and one
hundred and fifty thousand would" suiiice so complete them: but Mr. Grey insisted on the accuracy of his own statements, and particularly reprobal^d the misapplication ot the money nppropriated by parliament to specific purposes; a practice, he ob'erved, so unconstitutional, thai it had been condemned, in terms of the greatest si-verity; even so Jong ago as the reign of queen Anne, on so slight an occasion as the applving of fix thousand pounds to the uso of the army, instead of the navi, sor which it had been intended. His motion, however, was negatived by another lor the order of the day, which was carried by two bundled and (even voles, against forty-five.
The plans formed by ministry were lo extensive, and the determination, to, carry them into the speediest execution, founded upon so sanguine a hope of success, that the supplies already granted not appearing sufficient, parliament was ;igain relbrted lo for the raising an additional supply, and the sanction of another loan. A circumstance so new and extraordinary excited universal astonishment: two budgets and two loans in (he lame session, to use the common phrale, were a novelty, in the political system of this country, of an alarming nature, and which the maxims of good econom-y did not appear lo warrant in the difficult position in which i( now flood.
Mr. Pitt was duly sensible os the repugnance to so unprecedented a measure. After apologising for the necessity that compelled him to adopt it, and expreffing his confix dence that the resources of the country would render it much lighter on trial than it seemed in the ap* prehension os many, he proceeded