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that there might be foine who would carry their intentions so far, and who, though they might not have force enough to give any ground of alarm to Government from their numbers, might still be strong enough to spread a misrepresentation, or to circulate a hard-bill. With such a probability was it not a matter of blame and guilt that Ministers did not bring the affair to a termination as speedily as possible.
.« There is another view of the subject which is highly important. I am not expressing any opinion upon the circumstance of the Delegates and the Lords of the Admiralty; but negotiations having taken place between them, they must be confidered in the same light as all other negotiations. No man, therefore, could justly consider the transaction to be concluded, till all the ftipulations were performed. Ought not the Right Honourable Gentleman, for the benefit of the public, to have made the fituation of affairs as short as poffible? Or if he chose to consider it at an end by the promise made to the sailors, ought he not to have made the final termination as speedy as possible? Why, Sir, if Ministers felt the state of affairs to be one of anxiety and regret, was it not their obvious duty to have got out of it as expeditiously as posible? They may consider the promise as putting an end to it, but a promise being in its nature incomplete, they ought to have used all the dispatch in their power to have completed the prornise by the performance of it. It is necessary to observe that the seamen at Plymouth, felt the fame spirit of anxiety, attended with a degree of jealousy, which would not permit them to be satisfied with official explanation. With the knowledge of that circumstance, why did not Ministers see the necessity of using dispatch?
< But it has been afferted, that they have always been sincere in their intentions to perform their engagements. Sir, I never faid that Ministers were not sincere. What I complain of is, that they delayed carrying their intentions into execution so long as to have cost dear lives. But then it is asked, was it their interest to produce delay ? Sir, what the interest of bad Minifters may be I know not; but in all countries where there has been no vigilant assembly to correct them, there always have been bad Ministers. It may have been presumption on their part---it may have been a desire that what was gracious in the affair, should be considered exclusively as the act of the Executive Government; it may have been this desire that produced the delay. I do fee, however, in that delay an act which proves the incapacity of Ministers. The incapacity of Ministers? It may be asked why are we to suspect them of incapacity? Individually I know there are among them men of great abilities; but there may be situations in which going step by step, from er
for to error, from blunder to blunder, may have destroyed in their minds all rational ideas. Gentlemen, recollect the vulgar. expression of men being beaten blind. Perhaps that may be the case with his Majesty's Ministers--- perhaps there may have led to that situation of the country which no man can contemplate without feelings of the deepest regret and concern, of which I know not why I should be ashamed. I think I have stated sufficient to prove that more than ordinary diligence ought to have been used. What is the fact? The Right Honourable Gentleman accuses me of being wrong in a day, that the termination of the affair did not reach London till the 24th of April, and that there was only one day's interval before the memorial of the Admiralty was submitted to the Privy Council. But the Right Honourable Gentleman knows that the issue of the affair reached town early enough on the 24th, for a memorial to have been prefented on that very day ; confequently there was an interval of two days; now comes the great delay from the 26th of April to the 3d of May. If there are any forms more absolutely forms than others, they are those of the Council. The Conftitution knows nothing of them. In the Privy Council there was a delay from the 26th of April to the 3d of May, and the Minister has mentioned a fact which we did not know before. He says, that the first day of the meeting was not employed upon the business. Well, Sir, here are delays of seven days, and from the estimate not being laid before the House till Friday, and the difcuffion not taking place till Monday, fourteen days elapsed before a vote was palled; and then the House were obliged to come to one, on a day on which it must have been passed with less satisfaction than on any other. . .
. . . : " But it is said that all this happened through chance, and that if the fleet had failed it would not have happened. Why, Sir, it may be fo ; but in a business in its nature so very critical furely it was the duty of Ministers to have used as much 'fore. fight as possible. Yet we are told, if the wind had been fair the fleet would have failed. All we know on this part of the subject is, that the first order given for the feet to fail was pofitively disobeyed; but supposing they had failed who would not rather that they had gone to sea with the complete performance of the promises held out to them; they would then have failed without being willing to listen to any base misrepresentations that might have been circulated by designing 'men. But if they had failed without the completion of the transaction, would it not have been matter for regret that any reports should have. come to them at 'sea. Had, therefore, the promise held out to them been immediately performed, would they not have faid,
talk to us not. of mifrepresentations and reports, we have the • No. 36.
himself never hinted, that he conceived it necessary to deviate from necessary forms. The object of his repeated inquiries was to know, not when any thing relative to pecuniary arrangements was to be brought forward, but when an opportunity would be afforded of discussing the subject on a large scale. The Right Honourable Gentleman himlelf cannot deny that this was the object to which his questions pointed, and from the line of conduct pursued in another place, where pecuniary arrangements could not be in view ; from the general system upon which Gentlemen upon the other side act, which this uniformity evinces, it is evident that neither the Right Hon. able Gentleman, nor those with whom he thinks, ever imagined that any extraordinary dispatch was necessary with regard to the pecuniary part, and that they apprehended no danger from the delay. Indeed all the reasoning of the Right Hon. Gentleman, and the Honourable Mover, were as applicable to the situation of affairs a fortnight ago, as now, except as to the facts which have intervened. What is the conclusion ? Not that the Right Honourable Gentleman and his friends were to blame; but merely that they themselves, till enlightened by the fact, never apprehended the smallest danger, since now they cannot aflign one reason for dispatch, which did not equally apply a fortnight ago.
“ I certainly do not mean to depreciate the talents of the Right Honourable Gentleman, much less to say that there is any one more disposed to criticise the proceedings of administration than he is. But take him as a critic, take him as an adviser of Government, and a rough one enough certainly he sometimes is; but in either capacity his conduct, as well as that of those who act with him, proves that they entertained no apprehension. The Honourable Gentleman all through his argument, completely begged the question. When the feet dropped down to St. Helen's, the transactions, as far as they were settled by the Voter of Monday last, and the Act of last night, were finished; but it is said the disturbances might have arisen again. Certainly it is impossible to reduce within mathematical rules, what is likely, or what is not likely to take place; what may, or may not be foreseen; but affuredly. Government did not foresee such an event. If the Right Honourable Gentleman had any grounds of information, upon which he could foresee, or if even he had reason to suspect, furely if he had so far deviated from his usual practice as to hold any private communication, and forewarn them of the danger, he would not have been guilty of a very great impropriety. The only conclusion I can draw from his proceedings then is, that he had no ground for suspicion'; Gom vernment thought the matter settled, the Admiral at Portsmouth,
and the Officers there, thought so too; every thing then was done that appeared necessary, while no reason existed for believing that every thing was not adjusted. But the Right Honourable Gentleman says, we ought to have been on our guard against the machinations of a French party. I confess I am rather puzzled to know how to treat this argument; I do think that there are many very wicked people in this country, and I have been blamed by the Right Honourable Gentleman for the extent at which I rated the danger to be apprehended from them; now we are blamed for not attaching to them fufficient impora tance. I hope the Honourable Gentleman (Mr. Sheridan), who last night expressed himself so strongly upon this point, will not be offended with my panegyric. He reprobated the meanness and baseness of the treason that could fecretly fap the bulwark of our ftrength; praised the open line of conduct, and thought that there might be fome apology for the treason in the shape which it assumed; but in all the proceedings which have taken place in the feet, I ever felt, and often'expressed it as the highest satisfaction, that even in the hottest period of the proceedings at Portsmouth, and when the feamen expressed themselves molt warmly, not the smallest spirit of Jacobinism appeared. Their expressions, on the contrary, were most ardent for the honour of the Crown and the interest of the country. I believe in fact that such were their sentiments, that they were incapable of giving way to the doctrine of Jacobinilin, and that if any propofitions of that nature had ever been made to them, they would have rejected them with indignation. The attack, however, was not made in the way that would roufe their resentment and provoke their indignation. After the transaction with the Lords of the Admiralty was settled, the only point which remained was his Majesty's pardon. No jealousy ever appeared however, till some for whole extreme wickedness I can find no name fufficiently descriptive, infinuated to the seamen that the pardon which had been iflued in their favour was a forgery. When the conversation which took place on the subject got in: to the public papers, a new mode of misrepresentation presented itself, and the diabolical malice which laboured to renew disturbance, changed its mode of attack. It was represented to them, with the most abominable wickedness, that their Bill had been thrown out by Parliament; but no idea that it was the intention of Executive Government to deceive them, was ever entertained. Ministers, who upon such an occafion had every motive to vigilance, and who were not less vigilant than other men would have been, faw no reason for suspicion, But even had the vote taken place, who will say that some other ground of misrepresentation might not have been employ
ed? Who will say that the same malice that could fo grossly misrepresent what was done, might not have employed other diabolical arts to effect its purpose? The vote of the House would produce a good effect, because it proved to the seamen that they had been the dupes of gross impofition. The negligence of Ministers therefore was a common error, for they, as well as others, entertained no suspicion of danger. Nor could any extraordinary dispatch have been of any advantage, · but as it might have prevented misrepresentation, for the sailors could not entertain a doubt of the intention of Executive Government. The agreement was already acted upon, and they immediately entered into possession of what it bestowed. If it can be shewn that ground of suspicion did exist, I do not contend that there is not reason for censure, but till that can be established, there can be no ground for blame. The Right Hon. Gentleman says that it would have been better for the feet to have put to sea with the conviction that every thing was settled. But this is merely begging the question. Were they not going to sea upon this conviction? What afterwards arole was occafioned by the gross and wicked misrepresentations of diabolical incendiaries.”
Mr. Fox said, he had used the word extraordinary in its usual acceptation. He considered the delay to be extraordinary when compared with the importance of the measure that was to be brought forward, and the necessity of accelerating it. There was another topic the Right Hon. Gentleman had alluded to-« Jacobinism.” He would call it so, because the term was understood. He was afraid that the Right Hon. Gentleman meant to insinuate that he (Mr. Fox) imagined that a spirit of Jacobinism existed in the fleet. He had itated no such thing; but as his Majesty's Ministers had always pretended to believe that there were a great number of persons of that description in the country, they were wrong in being off their guard as to the danger which might arise from such persons communicating with the feet. He was ready to acknowledge that he had called more particularly for an explanation of the circumstances of the transaction at Portsmouth, than for the estimates being submitted to the House ; but so far from stating that he had any information to give to his Majesty's Ministers, he had only desired to know their information, because it might throw a different light upon the transaction. He had said before, and he now repeated, that it would have been far better the seamen had failed with a conviction of the promises made to them having been fulfilled, than that they Inould fail only with the conviction that they would be fulfilled, It was evident that in the former case none of the misrepresenta. tions the Right Honourable Gentleman alluded to could have had