Imágenes de páginas

course could not be easily led to entertain doubts of the sincerity of his Majesty's Ministers with respect to the concessions they demanded, were they not in a certain degree warranted by the dilatory conduct of Government on that very important occasion, and by the want of publicity and dispatch, to give them fatis action. He should remind their Lordships, that he had, about two years ago, stated the neceflity of reformation in the Navy, but his fuggeftions had been unattended to. He was justihed in declaring, on the authority of the ablest and most enlightened men in Ireland, that that country was then placed in a situation of the most imminent danger. He had in his pocket the resolutions lately entered into on that interesting subject by the Gentlemen or the Bar of Dublin, than whom there did not any where exist a more impartial, niore independent, or more enlightend set of men. It was not yet publithed in this country, and though he should not now tre{país on their Lordships by a peruial of it, he would earnestly recommend it to their future serious attention. They stated, in the most energetic and admirable language, the vast perils to which that opprefied nation was subjected. Since he had alluded to these Resolutions, he was concerned to find that a Noble Duke (the Duke of Portland) was not then in his place, as he might, from having the subject of the Resolutions recommended to his consideration, reap considerable benefit from attending to them. But perhaps the Noble Duke was employed in a more interesting manner.

The Noble Marquis declared he was convinced he could not express in a manner too forcible, the dangers likely to arise from the measures pursued by his Majesty's Ministers with respect to Ireland. They were evidently laying the rooted principle of animosity between both kingdoms, by sending over troops thither; and here he should recommend to his Majeft;i's Ministers the advice given by Mr. Neckar to Kings on the subject of coercion. That wisé Statesman strongly advises them not to provoke the people; to avoid, with the utmost caution, coercion of every kind, and to adopt conciliatory measures, even in cafes of the most pressing nature, as the most effectual means to make their subjects comply with their just views, and reconcile them to a state of peace and tranquillity; but the French Court, like the English Cabinet refused making popular Reforms till it was too late. Buonaparte had unquestionably been the most formidable enemy this country had to contend with. That celebrated General had over-run a vast extent of country, and reduced upwards of two millions of people, and who had been the cause of those succefles ? Certainly the Noble Lord (Grenville) who had provoked hostilities, and who, by the same mode of reasoning, had even outdone Buonaparte; for the French had, by his

friendly friendly affistance, not only added to their territory three times the extent of territory acquired by Buonaparte, but had also experienced an increase of three times the number of their population. The Noble Lord might, therefore, be justly entitled to have a statue erected to him in the Pantheon, for achievements in favour of the French Republic, and Buonaparte himself could not be supposed to envy such a measure, to the merit of which he was bound, both as a friend to his country, and an admirer of heroism, to subscribe.

Lord Grenville declared his conviction, that the melancholy tone of distress which was imputed to the country began and ended with the Noble Lords who supported the Motion. He had particularly forborne to enter into the consideration of the question, that other persons might decide on the merits of it, rather than that he himself should be forced to enter into a justification of his own conduct, and of thole with whom he had the honour to co-operate. He would candidly admit, that were the question to be carried in the affirmative, it would give him the most serious and heartfelt concern. To be deprived of the power of rendering every service within the scope of his abilities, both to the country and to his most Gracious Master, would indeed be the heaviest misfortune he could possibly experience. He therefore entertained the most fanguine hopes that the queltion would be negatived, not certainly on account of any regard or solicitude about his own personal views or ease, for the present time was not fit for such considerations; but that he might remain in a situation that would enable him to give his hearty and efficient support to the measures of the Executive Governinent for the benefit and happiness of the community. To be an indifferent spectator, would have been truly an affli&ting thought to him, but to be an active sharer at a crisis of such magnitude and moment, would operate on his mind as a most consoling and fatisfactory reflection. If in fact, his Majesty's Ministers had ever opposed those noxious political principles which aimed at the subversion of all regular Governments, they were at the present moment more vigorously called upon to continue with additional alacrity and firmness that constitutional opposition,

Since he had been thus induced to offer himself to their LordThip's attention, he should make a few reinarks on what had passed in the course of the debate. The Voble Duke, in deploring the calamities of the present war, and in enumerating the distresses produced by it, had merely stated arguments which would apply with equal force against the prosecution of any war whatever, Such a mode of reasoning might, on principles of a similar nature, go against the system of warfare altogether, however jult, howa ever called for by the most imperious necessity. But did the


Noble Duke's argument apply to the present war, which had not only been commenced on the absolute ground of necessity, but had been approved of by a vast majority of the country, and prosecuted through all its various Itages with the concurring and most decitive approbation of Parliament? He believed, tbat the Noble Duke was the first man that ever proceeded to move any vote of cenfure against Ministers without giving them fome previous notice of it. But he had chosen to act a part peculiar to him elf alone, and had thought proper to ground his accufa. tion on the access of expences, which, from the nature of them, it was totally impollible to fores e or to provide for by certain estimates. In his former Motion upon the Bank business, he had entered into a variety of calculations, every one of which were at the time refuted; but the Noble Duke had contrived again to introduce them into the present liotion, and expected that Minifters were to answer him from memory. He was ready to admit now, as he had upon a foriner occasion, that the expeces had, in some instances, gone much bevond the estimates; but there were under particular circumstances, and in caies which it was impossible to foreseor prevent. Noble Lords were very much in the habit of assuming as granted, any proposition that favoured their arguments. They seemed to conlider it as a point admitted, that we had derived no benefit from our Alliances, an afiertion to which he could never accede.

With respect to the subsidies made to Prussia, on which a Noble Marquis (Marquis of Lansdowne) had been pointediy fevere, he should merely obierve, that without any allufion to the various benefits that might be derived from that measure, there was one on which men the moft opposite in political sentiments. could scarcely think differently, and that consisted in its being the best mode of hiring troops for the public service. With rele pect to our alliance with Austria, could the Noble Marquis contend that we had not by the wisdom of that proceeding, gained great and successive advantages to the real interests of the nation. The Noble Lords considered it as a settled point, that the removal of Ministers would be grateful to the public mind; but would they also affirm that it would be equally grateful to the public inind, if they themselves were to occupy the place of. Administration? The conduct of his Majesty's Ministers had succeeded in preventing that anarchy to which the language of those who opposed them strongly tended. He had, for his own part, often heard that revolutionary ideas and principles had made a considerable progress in the country, but to what bold lengths they extended, he had until that night little conception.. What, he would ask, was the conduct of the same Noble Lords with respect to the present situation of Ireland ? they rafhly


proposed a direct interference in the internal concerns of that kingdom, after a most unqualified recognition of its independence. If their Lordships had a right to interfere in any case, that cafe could only confift in an interference to proiect and maintain the rights of his Majesty, and of the Parliament of Ireland, and if the government here had been able to find any force for the purpose of saving Ireland from confusion, rapine and desolation, such a conduct was, in his opinion, a freih cause for unity and amity between both nations.

A Noble Marquis had, in the warmth of expression, called Ireland an opprefled country. But what was the nature of that oppreffion? Was it oppression in the mind of the Noble Marquis, to suffer the legislature of that country to make laws for itiet? It was indeed a very strange topic to bring forward, after all the various arguments which had occurred on it, and after all the experience which their Lordihips must have had respecting the nature of it. But that was not all---the Noble Marquis professed to talk of conciiiation, and secmed desirous ta have it confidered as his favourite theme; yet while he dealt in professions he in reality sought out with uncommon industry every principle of latent evil, and shewed his rooted desire to frustrate the great end of conciliation.---When, therefore, he confidered the present situation of public affairs, and turned his thoughts to all the consequences likely to relult from a base and fervile compliance, with the leading doctrines of the day, he should boldly fay, that his Majesty's Ministers would not tamely desert that honourable post which they had hitherto filled, by directing all their efforts to the preservation of the Constitution, and the permanent happiness of the people. He Tould think it extremely unfit for him to draw a comparison between his own capacity and that of any of the Noble Lords who uniformly oppofed his Majesty's Ministers, but on the ground of zeal for the real interests of the Siate, and of a decided and unalterable reso lution to oppofe by the most unwearied exertions, and the most vigorous efforts, those principles which struck at the very existence of the Constitution, and which went to the establishment of anarchy; he would maintain, that he was inferior to Done.

A Reform of Parliament was a chief measure propofed by Nox ble Lords, and to that measure he should give a plain answer. He had ever opposed that innovation as a complete alteration of the Constitution. He had even opposed a temporate Reform, but that offered for discussion was above all others peculiarly objectionable. It went to pluck up by the roots every right planted by the Constitution---it went to destroy the most effen tial principles of liberty and property---it went to establish dil

tricts, or to characterize them more properly, departments, throughout the whole country, and as one Member could only represent one department, it went to change every election over the kingdom into the nature of a Westminster Election, with the benefits of which every one of their Lordfhips was necessarily acqaainted. Parliament, he would again and again contend, did not possess so unlimited, fo extraordinary a power, as to authorize such a Reform. Lord Grenville concluded by entreating their Lordships to reflect, that if they once opened the flood-gate to innovation, the torrent of anarchy would spread fo forcibly and so wide, that it would not be in the power of their Lordships, by oppofing their feeble hands as a barrier to destruction, to prevent the Constitution from being overwhelmed in general ruin.

The Duke of Leeds believed the majority of the people were enemies to French principles, and in favour of the present Ministry; but still it behoved Administration to consider how far the patience of the people would extend under their various losses and disappointments. His Grace faid, he had been a supporter of this war at its commencement; he thought it neceffary and unavoidable; it had proved unfortunate, but he denied that it was disgraceful to the nation.

Lord Grenville explained. He said if the Motion merely went to the removal of his Majesty's Ministers, he should not have risen to oppose it; many others might undoubtedly be found equally able, and a great majority who would support those Ministers who acted on the fame leading principles; but the ground of his present opposition was, becaufe he believe ed in his conscience that the object of fome Noble Lords was to promote, not a change of men, but a Revolution in the country.

Earl Moira denied that the Motion was of a personal nature, and vindicated the Noble Duke who made it on constitutional grounds. He, for one, was not disposed to ascribe to Ministers that prosperity which arose from the energy of its Merchants ; their genius and enterprizing spirit would ever carry the cout.try to the height of prosperity, if Administration did not put bars in their way. It was true, the Motion was meant to inflict a penalty upon Ministry, for the fubverlion of our credit, the dilappointment of our hopes, and the failure of the objects of the war. The Noble Secretary of State had opposed the Motion for fear the Constitution should be overturned, « but,” said Lord Moira, “ I shall ever object to this mode of argument; it goes to identify the presene Ministers with the Constitution of the country, and to link the confidence of the country in its own refources, and in the frame and form of its Government; an ar


« AnteriorContinuar »