« AnteriorContinuar »
confiftency between that opinion and that which he now profelted to hold, that no expedition should have been attempted against St. Domingo? The Right Honourable Gentleman endeavoured to justify the conduct of the present war from the mode of conducting the war which ended in 1963. But he would ask whether the objects of the two wars were fimilar, or whether the situation of the contending parties were the same? He did not know what was the object of the war now, or whe-, ther there was any, but the object at its commencement was the destruction of the Jacobin Government of France and the establishment of Monarchy in its place. Upon this point there fore the object of Mr. Burke was unanswerable. If in the cpi. nion of Ministers they could make such an impression upon France as to produce that effect, the force employed in the West Indiis would have been much more advantageously di. rected against the territory of that country; for supposing that we had taken all the French West India Mands, would our conquests in that quarter have brought us nearer our object, namely, the re-establishment of Monarchy upon the ruins of the Republic. But the fact was, the Government of this country neither had the policy to adopt Mr. Burke's principle nor to reject it. They acted upon it so far as to rouse the enthusiasm of our Enemy, and to make her an armed nation, but they did not pursue it as a chief and principal object of the war. In regard to St. Domingo, the only apology that could be offered for their conduct was, that they had Hattered themselves that something would happen which did not happen, and that they were disappointed; and this was the compendious excuse which might be made for the whole conduct, or rather misconduct of the war. The Right Honourable Gentleman contended that the expedition against St. Domingo was the best defence of Jamaica. Allowing it, what had this defence of Jamaica cost the country? Besides the internal defence of the island, its external defence had coft 4,300,00ol. What would they have said if on the first year of the war, when the whole expences of that year were faid to amount to only 4,500,000l, he had predicted that that war would be persisted in till the defence of Jamaica alone would cost that sum? He would have been called a great exaggerator; and yet it was to this exaggeration realized that Ministers now owed the defence of their conduct. The Right Honourable Gentleman ftated that the expence in future was to be reduced by a regulation which had been made. He contended that it was necessary to grant a discretionary power to Officers in the Island respecting the expence incurred. Granted. But if this was necessary before, woud it not be necessary in future? so that if they believed his defence they could not believe his promises. He agreed with
tee above stairs, and after that to be reconsidered by a General Committee of the House.
Mr. I. Hawkins Browne said, he thought the Bill so replete with objectionable parts, and, indeed, so objectionable in principle, that it was not susceptible of modification so as to render it at all useful, or even harmless. While the House attended to the relief of the people against the high price of Meat, they should not be inattentive to the interests of the Breeders of Cattle, who, being in general engaged in large land concerns, would suffer great losses from the operation of this Bill. He therefore withed the Honourable Gentleman would withdraw his Motion, and bring in a new Bill.
Mr. Hobhouse laid, he very much doubted the policy of Legillative interference in the regulations of the price of commodities; but he wished the Bill to go to the Committee, as he fupposed it might be possible to modify the particular parts that were objectionable.
Mr. Bastard said, that the object of the Bill was to break a combination which had raised the price of provisions to an inordinate height. It was a fact too notorious to be disputed, that meat passed through several unnecessary hands, between the Grazier and the Consumer, every one of whom had a profit upon it. It was by this means the price was raised; and the provisions of this Bill would relieve and lower the price to the consumer, without detracting one farthing from the profits of the Breeder, Grazier, or Farmer.
Mr. Vanfittart withed the Bill to be read a second time, and to go to a Committee, as some regulation of the kind as necessary.
The Speaker said, the Bill contained in it no objectionable part which it was not in the power of a Committee to obviate.
The Bill was read a fecond time, and referred to a Committee.
Mr. Mainwaring moved, that the Report of the Committee appointed to consider the Cutting Butcher's Petition be referred to the Committee.
Sir William Pulteney said, this was a measure of very great importance, and he hoped the House would not suffer it to be thought that it was finally adjusted.
PRINCESS ROYAL'S MARRIAGE. The Chancellor of the Exchequer moved a Congratulatory Address to their Majesties on the Marriage of Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal to His Serene Highness the Prince of Wirtemberg; which was agreed to nem. con.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer then moved a Complimentary Message to his Serene Highness the Prince of Wirtemberg and bis Royal Consort, which was also agreed to nem. con,
DISMISSAL OF MINISTERS. Mr. Alderman Combe rose to make his promised Motion for the dismissal of his Majesty's Ministers. He observed, that when he considered the great magnitude and importance of the subject on which he had to request the indulgence and attention of the House, he found himself under the deepest degree of embarrassinent. He was fully sensible of his own inability to do it that juftice which it deserved, and could heartily have wished that it had been committed to the charge of those whose eminent mental qualifications rendered them so much more capable of giving to it that weight of impression which, he was conscious, he must fail to do. A due sense of his duty, however, had overcome every objection on that head, which his diffidence and consciousness of his own inability had raised; and the recollection that he had received the instructions of his constituents, which he should ever hold himself bound to comply with, to bring forward this Motion, had determined him to do so in the best manner he was able. He once more regretted that it had not fallen into more able hands. He Aattered, himself, however, the candour and liberality of the House would induce them to make every fair allowance in his favour, and to excuse such defects as might appear in bis Address to them, on the score of the short time he had fat in Parliament, and the few opportunities he had had of delivering his sentiments in public. :
He then took a concise view of the present Administration from their commencement to the present moment. In the year 1784, it was well know what secret infuence was used by those who are now in power, and it was needless for him to detail the particulars of that time, and the powerful arguments which had been often urged against the principle upon which that power was obtained. The House recollected also the manner in which the present Administration had acted in the different armaments against Spain, and against Russia, in which they had made use of all their influence in Parliament to prevail upon the majority to adopt measures which were notoriously against the voice of the people at large, and which they themselves afterwards abandoned, and by which they degraded their own Parliamentary majority. These things be only glanced at incidentally, for as they did not form any effential part of the matter. which he had now to submit to the House, he should not dwell upon them. He should confine himself to the cause which his constituents had for instructing him to come forward and to take the part which he was now taking. That cause was the.. prelent unfortunate war.
It was, he believed, the general and almost universal opinion of the people of this country at the present moment, as well as
that of his constituents, that the calamities which prefied so hard upon the people, were in a great measure, if not wholly, owing to Ministers having plunged us into that present war. He would not deny that at the commencement of it, the war appeared to be popular, but it had long ceased to be so, and he believed no. thing had so much contributed to that effect, as the weakness and incapacity which Ministers had continually discovered in their mode of carrying it on. They had, from the beginning declared it to be both just and necessary. In both these poirits he had always differed with them. But even allowing, for the fake of argument, that it was so, it was but realonable to expect that they should have produced, and laid before the public, fome real or ostensible ground or cause on which it was under. . taken, and entered into. Every private individual, before he quarrels with his neighbour, always looks upon himself as bound to assign his reason for so doing; and surely in a quarrel between two great nations nothing less ought to be expected. If we look, however, faid he, to the conduct of Ministers from the commencement of the war with France, it is in vain that we seek for any one fixed or settled principle or motive by which they were guided. Sometimes it was for one purpose, then it was for another; and to the present moment the country is equally in the dark, as it was at the first. It is needless, said the Alderman, to take up the time of the House by calling their attention any farther back than January 1794. The ostensible caufe of the war at that time was said to be the restoration of Monarchy in France. That form of Government in France, appeared to Ministers so absolutely necessary for the welfare and interests of this country, that it was held out as a sufficient cause of all the load of expences we might incur and the whole catalogue of calamities which were likely to attend it, and which have ensued to so deplorable an extent. This cause, however, did not long remain to them. Events of the most melancholy nature rendered that ground no longer tenable. It was found necessary to choose a new one, and the next which was held forth for the amusement and gratification of the people, and for the excuse and justification of Ministers, was indemnity for the past and security for the future, upon this plea the people were called upon to support the war for a confiderable time; but this again was abandoned, and it appeared, that in proportion as the French were successful, Ministers changed their ground. Then they said that we must pursue the war, until there should be citablished in France, a Government capable of maintaining the accustomed relations of peace and amity with other powers.'--At this very time that plea appeared to him to be ridiculous, for France had then proved it was capable of maintaining the rela.
tions of peace and amity with other powers, for it had entered into alliance with some, and had preserved that alliance. Some time after this Ministers smoothed themselves down, and softened their language; they admitted that France was in a state in which we might endeavour to negotiate with them ; and after taking a very circuitous and feeble mode to negotiate, they received for answer that if any negotiation was to be opened, it must be carried on at Paris ; upon this Lord Malmesbury was sent to Paris. The event of that miffion, as well as the manner in which it was carried on, were much too well known to the House to need any detail. It was from a general view of all these things combined that he maintained that the insincerity of Ministers was visible to every man in the kingdom who chose to look impartially at their conduct, and that their incapacity to manage the affairs of this country was manifeft. As manifest did it appear to him that these Ministers could never conclude a peace with France upon terms that would be honourable, or in any way advantageous to this country. They had all of them in turn used the most irritating and abusive language against the French, a circumstance which every man must feel to be a great hindrance to the carrying on any negotiation with confidence. They had always stated this war to be a war against French principles. They had attempted, but in vain, to extinguish these principles by the sword. From all these considerations it appeared to him that nothing could be more manifest than the propriety of the Motion with which he should conclude. He must repeat, that he lamented the subject had not fallen into abler hands, but he had done his duty in the best manner he was able. He had one consolation, however, which was, that he did not only follow the dictates of his own mind, but also followed the general with of his Constituents; their instructions alone would be enough for his authority, and their judgment should always be sufficient for his guidance. He concluded with moving, “ That an humble Address be presented to “ his Majesty, praying that he will be pleased to dismiss from « his Councils his present Ministers, as the best means of ob“ taining a speedy and honourable peace.”
Sir William Milner supported the Motion, in doing which he was perfuaded that he followed the unanimons wilh of his constituents ; for the City of York had unanimously expressed their opinion upon that subject in the Petition and Address which they had directed him to present to his Majesty. He was convinced also, that if the Members of that House were to act as their constituents heartily desired they should, they would, almost to a man, vote for the present Motion, and endear themfelves to the public at large. He verily believed, that unless