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measure of withdrawing from thence our troops extremely necelfary ; particularly from the separate peace made by the Emperor, leaving us to contend, single handed, against an Enemy, who, by their vigour and energy, had beaten, and by their policy dilunited, the most formidable confederacy against them that ever Europe witnessed. Under these circumstance, it became us to draw home and concentrate all our forces to preserve our Conftitution, and maintain our independence against the attacks of a ferocious and successful Enemy. It now became a mealure of prudence; for their luccesses were such, that were the mind to give way to any thing like superstition in the events with which this was attended, it would look like a political retribution.--Let the House recollect the commencement of the war; did they recollect the manifesto of the Duke of Brunswick, which threatened Paris with vengeance and desolation ? And now let them fee its termination against that Power under the walls of Vienna, and the terms dictated by the power of a triumphant Enemy.--
The conduct of the war had frequently been discussed in this House, where there was more difference of opinion than without. In almost every discussion out of doors the majority concurred in the sentiment that it had been shamefully mismanaged, and even it had been obferved of the last Parliament, by a great man no longer in the House (Mr. Burke), that though Administration had the Votes, Opposition had the opinions of the majority of the House of Commons. Whether this would hold true of the present Parliament time would shew. No where, however, had the misconduct of Ministers been more conspicuous than in the West Indies. Those who considered the object of the war to be the restoration of Monarchy and Despotism in France thought that warfare a bad diversion of our strength, but even upon the principle that the object of West Indian warfare was good, the conduct which Ministers had followed was improper. . .
The Iliand of St. Domingo was of great extent, and it remained to see whether the means for subjugating that country were adequate to the end proposed. He knew it might be alserted, that we expected great assistance from the inhabitants; but, of this he should fay more hereafter. Another point of view was, whether it was not likely to create the jealousy of the Naval Powers, and particularly of Spain and therefore, whether, instead of procuring their co-operation, they were not more likely to defert and abandon us? Another consideration was, the actual Military Force then in those Inands, and whether we could send a fufficient number to contend with them with the hopes of success. The Commissioner Santhonax took with him 6000 men, of those who were supposed to be the beft Republicans, maineli, the National Guards. In the Illand there was a force of gooo, making, in the whole, 15,000 disciplined men; add to there, 10,000 disciplined Blacks, and a number of revolted Negroes, to the amount of 40,000, who would fall upon either party, if they could do it with hopes of success, and therefore, to be equally guarded against as profesled enemies. To meet this force, the first force under General Whitlocke consisted of the number of 870 men. If; even had the inhabitants been willing to throw themselves under the protection of this country were they likely to do so when they saw no force to defend them? Nor was it probable that they were so inclined. The same sentiments of liberty which animated France at the commencement of the Revoluti. on extended to the planters, who sent 18 deputies to the Tiers Etat. The representations of Emigrants were not good ground, and these were not justified by what appeared. The infurrecti. ons which had broken out between the planters and the people of colour, were believed to have been fomented by the royaliits, and any expedition which was undertaken by this country under the direction of men of this description was not likely to meet with a favourable reception. However, it was in concert with them that the enterprise was attempted. The idea known to be entertained of this enterprise had likewise first prompted Santho. nax to iffue a proclamation giving liberty to the saves, in order to induce them to defend the Ifland. This was a measure of defence, not the result of any principle of general liberty which the French entertained. The most important acquisition of the troops under Colonel Whitlock, was Cape Nicholas Mole, where there was a very strong harbour. But as foon as it was given up by the garrison, the inhabitants left the town, a pretty strong proof that they were not favourable to our views. In the next attempt our forces were repulsed, and every thing shewed that nothing was to be expected from the co-operation of the inhabitants. After chis experience of the difficulties of the undertaking, and of the disposition of the inhabitants, it ought to have been abandoned. Admitting the object to have been great, it had been tried, and promised no success. Reinforcements, however, were brought from Jamaica, fresh attempts were made without success, till the yellow fever, with its destructive ravage, appeared. In May, 1794, General White arrived with forces from England; the yellow fever had begun its destructive proi gress; as foon as they arrived the troops seemed death-ftruck; 40 officers and 600 men died in the space of two months. Two years experience shewed that nothing towards the complete fucom ccís of the design could be achieved. This was the time then for Ministers to have confidered the propriety of per levering in the measure. The ravages of the yellow fever were fu fatal that No. 37.
our forces were obliged to confine themselves to acting on the defensive, and were under no leis apprehension from those who were called their friends than from their open enemies. : After four years war, in short, it appeared that no acquisitions of any importance, except Port au Prince, had been obtained, more than had been acquired within the first ten days. The places which were in our possession did not afford any produce beyond the reach of the cannon. There were no imports from the part of St. Domingo in our possession. Notwithstanding that the harbour of Cape Nicolas Mole continued ours, the enemy, with their privateers from Aux Cayes, committed great depredation on our shipping, and no advantage with which our acquisitions were attended could counterbalance the expence and mortality with which they were purchased.
The expence had been found to be progressive. In 1794 it was 296,0col. in 1795, 772,00ɔl. in 1796, 2,211,000l. and in January, 1797, alone, it had been 700,000l. Ministers certainly would be most criminal if they had not endeavoured to control this expence, but it seems they had attempted it in vain. Were we to go on then with this uncontrolled expence? In four years the Bills on the Treasury, from every part of the world, had been 16 millions, those from this single island were between 4 and 5 millions, more than a fourth of the whole ! For a large army of 30,000 men, on the Continent, in 1794, Bills to the amount of 2 millions, and in 1795, 3 millions, were drawn, while this enterprise in St. Domingo had alone consumed such enormous fums. But Ministers said, they had endeavoured to control the expence. What occafion was there, in the circumstances of our pofleflion, for a civil establishment. A person, however, with the title of Chief Judge, and first President, the only one appointed in England, which sufficiently explained the circumstance, had an allowance of 2500l. a-year, a person who had been found unfit for his situation, and had returned to this country, but still enjoyed his falary. This was a good specimen of the jobs which it afforded.
The civil e-blishments were in the hands of men who amalled immenfe fortunes at the expence of the country. The French, who adhered to our cause, were actuated by motives of intereft alone, and by the advantages which they derived from its service. But the mortality which attended our continuing to occupy there pofleffions, were still more serious. It was facrificing a number of gallant men to certain death, without the eonfolation of being useful to their country. Up to the 3d of September last, 7500 had died, and few of these by the sword of the enemy. Till November, 1795, not more than an hundred had fallen in the field. In March 1796, there had died
129 ufficers, and 5840 men. So the number of those who had falien victims to me pestilence of the climate, might easily be gathered. . Nor were the men season d by come to the çliinate. The attack of the yellow fever was almost always mortal, and it was even apt to recur. After the year 1795, vinifters must have been sentible of the impoffibility or succejins in their de. fign... In their persevering in it against every consideration of prudence and regard for the lives ot so many gallant m:-1, they had evinced a degree of misconduct which no part of their admi. nistration surpalled. As Ministers, however, had failed to ad. vise his Majesty to withdraw the troops from St. Domingo, it became the duty of the House to supply their negi-et. He then read a passage from Mr. Burke's Regicide Peace, in which the system pursued in the West Indies is severely reprobated ; and concluded with moving, “ That an humble Address ihould be « presented to his Majesty, praying that he would be graciously “ pleased to give directions that the troops in St. Domingo « Thould forthwith be withdrawn.”
Mr. Fox seconded the Motion.
Mr. Secretary Dundas said, that if he were to indulge his own private inclinations, he should occupy but a small portion of the time and attention of the House, being disposed, from the view he took of the Motion, to confine himself to a very few sen. tences. If he were to confine himself solely to the Question proposed by the Honourable Gentleman for the concurrence of the House, it would not be necessary for him to say many words; but, from certain general expressions which had fallen from the Honourable Gentleman in the course of his speech, the House would allow it was impossible for him to remain silent under the general charges which had been laid to him and his colleagues; charges of a conduct, for which if they were held blameable, they were blameable in common with every Administration, and every Minister entrusted with the conduct of military affairs, in every war in which the country had been engaged for the pre. lent century.
But before he adverted particularly to the several charges of the Honourable Gentleman, he would make an obiervation or two on the conclusion of his speech. The Honourable Gentle man had concluded with an extract from a book written by a Right Honourable Gentleman, to whose person, and to whose writings he was very willing at all times to pay the tribute of respect. With regard to the sentimen:s expressed by that Gen. tleman, in the Extract which had been read, they had been long known to him; he knew, that it was that Gentleman's opinion, that if the troops which had been sent to the West In dies were applied to continental operations, the war would have 8 0 2
been better conducted; he knew, too, that this was the Right Honourable Gentleman's opinion, before it was thrown into the shape in which the House had just heard it read. But, highly as he respected the sentiments of that respectable person, he could not subscribe to them, nor to any authority, however respectable, when his own understanding did not coincide with it to convince him. He would, therefore, say, that nothing he had heard from that Right Honourable, Gentleman, nor from the Honourable Gentleman who made the Motion, could induce him to believe that it was the duty of Administration, in any war, to abandon the interests of the colonies, and to employ the strength which should be applied to that purpose, in expeditions of a different nature. If Gentlemen would look back to our history, they would find that in no war which was well conducted, had ever such a principle entered into the minds of Ministers; nor was there ever a war in which it had not been held the best and wisest policy to direct our force against the Colonial interests of the enemy, and to the protection of our own. Therefore, when the Honourable Gentleman or any other ftated that the West India war was criminal, because there had been a great expence of money, and what was much worse, a great expenditure of lives, they were, in fact, uttering a gross libel on every Administration which had ever conducted a war for Great Britain. , For his part, he was old-fashioned enough to feel a stronger disposition to follow up the steps of those of bis predecessors, whose good conduct had obtained the suffrage of the nation, than to adopt the new-fangled ideas of peace or war, which he sometimes heard broached be the talents or situation of the person who broached them what they might.
In the war of 1763, which no one would deny had a most glorious and advantageous termination for England, how was our force directed ? Against Canada, against Marigalante, against Martinico, against St. Lucia, &c. The result was fortunate---while France had not been able in that war to make one West India conquest. Not only the persons who conducted that war thought that they directed the force well, but every one since had allowed it. The present war, upon which the epithet of inglorious had been so often liberally bestowed, was, in respect to West India acquisitions, still more glorious than that of 1763, or any former war; for, with the exception of the Ifand of Guadaloupe, Britain was now in possession of every one of the Leeward Islands; so that, as a war in which we were contending for colonial interest with Franee, we stood, in point of success, in a more elevated situation than ever. And as ta the gestion, whether it was found policy or not, to direct our forçe to that quarter, he would, upon the authority he had al.