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only be removed by voting a remedy for it in silence. I say that filence has been effectually preserved in this House, in order, as I told the Minister long ago, to give him an opportunity of doing away the effect of any misrepresentation or consequent milunderstanding that had taken place when we heard of this business first, and to avoid any future misunderstanding.' It has not produced that effect; nor do I think it was well adapted to produce it; for I am convinced that secrety is but seldom, if ever, so good a mode of avoiding a misunderstanding as discussion. I will not now go into the detail of the conduct of the Admiralty upon this most delicate, critical, and important business, during the Easter Recess. Indeed I have not, nor has this Houle, any authentic information upon it. From what I have heard, however, in common with the public, I have strong doubts of the propriety of that conduct. It seems to have been that of neither denying nor granting, but an endeavour to bargain with the seamen, and to offer them less than it was reasonable they should have, fince it was less than is now proposed to be voted in this Committee. The evil of this is, that you have increased, instead of diminishing, the suspicion of the seamen, and more elpecially some personal diffidence which it appears they entertain. This House might on the Monday or the Wednesday following the notification of the discontents have voted that which is now proposed, and it is inexcusable in Ministers to have delayed it so long. But most extraordinary indeed it is that filent confidence in Ministers should be now demanded of this House. I say that, after seeing the criminal conduct of Administration upon various occasions, but most strikingly upon this, if this House now continues its silent confidence, and continues a blind trust in men who have so misconducted themselves, it will be little less blame. able than Ministers have been. It will be criminal in this House to repose trust and continue power in the hands of men, who we know by bitter experience to be unfit to conduct our affairs; who have shewn a degree of guilt, or incapacity, or, both, that has led us to the brink of destruction. I say this is not a time, nor are the present circumstances, in which we should repole confidence in Administration generally, even fupposing it to be the reverse of what I think it is, namely, the best of all poisible Administrations ; but, least of all, to such an Administration Ministers cannot say they were not warned of the danger of delay upon this most important of all subjects. I asked the Minister as early as I could what was intended to be done, and when. I entreated that he would not suffer any de, lay to take place. I repzated my questions and entreaties, and if I have any reason to blame myself at all for the part I took, it is for not having repeated my objections ftill oftener,
“That it should be now supposed that any good can arise out of fecresy and filence upon this subject is ridiculous. The thing is absolutely impoffible. Does the Right Honourable Gentleman really think that not only now, but for ever, the cause of this discontent is to remain a fecr.t? Does this House really mean to say to the people of this country that, after what they know has happened at Portimouth upon the commencement of this misunderstanding and since, that they will never inquire into the cause of it? Are we so abandoned as to determine never to have any responsibility upon ourselves, but that we are to say, we will leave the whole of it, under a blind confidence, to our Executive Government to manage? I say, we ought to take responsibility upon ourselves: it is our first and greatest duty, without the due performance of which we shall be worse than useless to the public. If we neglect that. duty, consider what may be the effect of this. What has hapa pened may happen again. What is it that has already appeare ed before us ? ---That grievances have been complained of, and have not been sufficiently attended to. The cause of these com-. plaints cannot be fully known. I declare upon my honour I do not know the cause. All I know is what I have seen in newspapers, related as having palled between the Admiralty and the Delegates of the fleet. I never heard how far the Ad.. miralty conceded to or opposed the wishes of the Seamen. I. never understood the matter to this day, and even now I do not fully understand it. Why, then, I ask, how I am to do my duty to the people of England, in voting away their money on circuinstances that are more important, perhaps, than any that ever came before us till now, without knowing the real truth as to the cause of that vote? I say that we ought to know that cause; for without it how can we be satisfied that the remedy is adequate to the evil? I fay also, that, if Ministers were as successful in all their plans as they have been unsuccessful; if they had fulfilled all their promises as uniformly as they have disregarded them; if they had gratified our wishes in proportion as they have disappointed our expectations, it would even then be the duty, the bounden duty of the House of Commons, in this most critical and important of all cases, to call for a full explanation of the causes of this discontent. I hope the Right Honourable Gentleman will state them all fully and authentically to this House at soine future period. I think he ought to state even now what were the circumftances which have led to the misunderstanding between the feet and the Admiralty after the first promise was made to the Sailors. This he ought to do now, in order that we may know whether this vote which is before us is a complete or No. 35. *
a partial compliance with the wishes of those who are the objects of it. To endeavour to pass it by in silence is filly. To expect that secresy can save you now, and to think that it may be sinoihered, is the weakest of all possible hopes, by which you will resemble children, who shut their eyes and think that nobody can see them. I therefore hope that this business will not be fuffered to be passed by in silence. I will no more be answerable for any misrepresentations that may go abroad upon our difcussion, than the Minister; but I know that much more misunderttanding is likely to follow silence than discussion, I therefore with the matter to be discussed. I wish to know now, whether this is all that is intended to be done upon this business? By this fpecies of blind confidence which the Minister is so ready to ask, and which this House is much too ready to grant, the Constitutution of this country may be undone. I know there are many who think that the inconvenience of popular assemblies are great on account of the publicity of its proceedings, and hence has arisen gréat error in giving to Ministers confidence when they aik it. But our present Ministers seem to think that the less they are called upon to explain, the more danger there is in their attempting it, and they call for confidence in exact proportion as the neceility of explanation is urgent.”
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, he thought that a silent vote upon this subject was the best, and therefore he took the liberty of recommending it. He thought so still, for he was not Thaken in that opinion by any thing that was said by the Right Honourable Gentleman who spoke last; and it was fingular enough, that that very person who called for so much information, declared he should vote for the resolution after he had heard the explanation that had been given, although he declared, at the lame time, that he knew no more upon it than any other Member in the House; a pretty convincing proof that what he had heard already was sufficient to convince him of the propriety of the present Motion. This added to his opinion on the propriety of his not entering further upon this discussion.
Mr. Fox faid, it was true he had said that he knew nothing more of the circumstances on which the resolution was grounded, than what the public newspapers contained. He was ready even upon that knowledge, to vote for the resolution, though he should have assented to it with much more satisfaction if his vote could have been founded upon more full and regular information. He considered the information which the newspapers furnished, and the notoriety of the case, as sufficient to induce him to give his vote for the resolution. He knew that he was voting for an expence that was necessary, but without knowing whether that expence was all that was necessary, and whether it
was was likely to produce the effect desired. What he complained of chiefly in the conduct of the Right Honourable Gentlema!ı was, that a fortnight had elapsed before the House was informed whether any promises had been made, and whether they were to be adhered to. If measures had been taken immediately to ascertain these points, the House would not now have been in the dark upon the subject; they would not have been at a loss to know whether the new disturbances, which rumour stated to have taken place, had arisen from the circumstance of the agree. ment not being confirmed, or that enough had not been conceded. Transactions like those which had recently occurred, certainly would have been highly important at every period, but in the present situation of the country they were of unequalled importance. If they called themselves the representatives of the people, if they really felt any love for their country, could they be fatisfied that the accomplishment of the object for which the vote was to pass, was placed in hands worthy of so great a trust. Could they say that they had done what they ought to do for the security of their dearest interests and most eflential concerns ? Could they tell their constituents that they durft not inquire into circumstances so intimately connected with their safety and their existence ? Could they satisfy their own minds, could they satisfy their constituents, by telling them they had trusted Ministers? And what Ministers too! Men who saw every hope which they had indulged disconcerted ; every expectation they had formed difappointed : men, who after all their assertions and all their boasts were compelled to come down, and found new measures upon the failure of their plans and the disappointment of their views. And would it not be a pretty answer to give to their constituents when they asked them, what conduct they had pursued in circumstances fo critical ? to say they durst not venture to inquire into the circumstances by which the expence they voted was incurred; that they had trusted to Ministers, and to men who had fhewn themselves so trust-worthy they had confided the safety of the country. If such was the opinion of the House, if such was the opinion of the country, as he trusted it was not, the difficul. ties of our situation must inevitably terminate in utter ruin.
Mr. Sheridan said, he certainly should vote for the resolution, but there was a question he should propose to the Right Honourable Gentleman which might be answered without involving that discussion which he wished to avoid, or that mischief which he apprehended. In allusion to the new disturbances which were said to exist, the Right Honourable Gentleman had said that nothing was so likely to restore tranquillity as an immediate vote in favour of the resolution. But why then did not the Right Honourable Gentleman avail himself of the opportunity
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of submitting that vote sooner, when it might have prevented the disturbances it was to appease? Why was it that the vote was to be proposed when information was received that new disturbances had broken out? Why did he not take immediate steps in consequence of the promises which were made? Whs, instead of the flow and procrastinating mode that had been followed, had not the Right Honourable Gentleman come with a message from the Throne, recommending the House to take measures to carry into effet what had been done? He distinctly asked them why a fortnight's delay had taken place before any steps were taken to carry into effect what had been done? How could they rely that even what they were to vote would be properly carried into effect? From the words of the Lords of the Admiralty, that they had come to the resolution of acceding to the demands of the Seamen, “ that they might have as early as possible an opportunity of returning to their duty, as it may be necessary that the fleet should speedily put to 'fea to meet the Enemy of the country,” it was plain that they did not expect that the Seamen were to return to their duty upon that promise, but that some other proceedings would immediately follow upon it. The first step then ought to have been a communication to the House, and such a vote as this palled with unanimity, would have perfectly satisfied them. He thought too highly of the character of British Seamen, to imagine that this vote would not satisfy them, and if it did not, he should think more degradingly of them than he did at present. Misrepresentation might have induced them to do what they ought not to have done; but the Right Honourable Gentleman ought to have prevented the possibility of such misrepresentation. He was convinced, however, that means of conciliation would be more effectual if accompanied with a vote of censure on Ministers for not coming to Parliament sooner with some proposition on the subject.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, he should adhere to his intention of not entering into a discussion upon this subject; but as to this resolution arising from any recent intelligence, that assertion was directly contradicted by the fact, because he had given notice of it some days ago. On Thursday notice wa; given that the necessary estimates would be produced on Friday, and on Friday he gave a direct notice of his present Motion: therefore there could not be the slightest foundation for saying that this resolution was proposed in consequence of any recent intelligence.
Mr. Sheridan faid, that he did not state that the resolution was now brought forward in consequence of recent occurrences. He charged the Right Honourable Gentleman with the delay that had taken place. He believed that misrepresentation might