§ The Speaker
acquainted the House that the House h3d, in obedience to his Majesty's command, attended in the House of Peers, to hear his Majesty's most gracious Speech from the Throne; of which, to prevent mistakes, he had himself obtained a copy. Ho then proceeded to read the Speech from the chair, for which we refer to our account of the proceedings of the Lords. (See p. I.) After the Speaker had finished reading the Speech,
The Hon. Cropley Ashley
rose and spoke as follows. Sir; after having heard the sentiments expressed, and the statements contained in the Speech which has just now been read, it cannot appear out of season for me to congratulate the House on the state of the country as described in that Speech. The spirit, zeal, and unanimity of all classes, and the voluntary exertions of every branch of the community, are unexampled in the annals of any country, and have so effectually provided for the defence and security of the kingdom, as to set all attempts of the enemy to make any impression on our coasts at defiance. I congratulate this House and the nation in general, that the prosperous state of our manufactures, and the great improvement of the public revenue, will enable the government to adhere to that excellent system of carrying on the war without any material addition to (he permanent debt of the nation; a system which, if closely pursued, will infallibly disappoint the hopes of our foe, and render abortive every attempt of the enemy to destroy this country by delay, and to keep it in a constant state of alarm.—From the exertions that every where appear around us, I think the country in a situation of the greatest security; and it is with conscious pride I have observed, that, notwithstanding the extensive and vigorous stem of internal defence that has been adopted, our arms have been carried abroad against the foreign possessions of the enamy. The valuable islands of St. Lucia, Tobago, St. Pierre, and Miquelon, and the settlements of Demarara and Essequibo, have been added to the British empire. The vigilance and wisdom of the administration which planned the expeditions against them, and the zeal, bravery, the forces, by which such va- 14 luable acquisitions have been made, are entitled to the gratitude and acknowledgments of the country. In the short space of four months such advantages have been gained, as, in every former war, would have been reckoned glorious achievements for a whole campaign.—It is with the highest satisfaction I learn, that a convention has been concluded with Sweden, founded on the firmest basis of all treaties, the reciprocal advantage of both the contracting parties.—It is also matter of satisfaction and congratulation to know, that the affairs of Ireland now appear to wear a favourable aspect, and that the change has been brought about, without the necessity of employing those extraordinary means, which the difficulties of the times render it indispensably necessary to place in the hands of the Irish government. Such conduct must necessarily impress the deluded insurgents of that country, with a just sense of the blessings of the happy constitution, which it was the object of their wishes to destroy. The impartiality and regard to public justice, with which the several trials of the persons engaged in the rebellion, have been conducted, reflects the highest honour on those to whom the administration of the affairs of Ireland have been committed, and entitles them to the respect and gratitude of the country. His Majesty has expressed his hope, that such of his deluded subjects as have swerved from their allegiance are now convinced of their error, and that having compared the advantages they derive from the protection of a free constitution, with the condition of those countries which are under the dominion of the French government, they will cordially and zealously con-I cur in resisting any attempt that may be I made against the security and independence of the United Kingdom. If after such a comparison, any man can be backward or lukewarm in the cause of his country, let him call to his recollection the example of his Majesty, whose whole life ha; been devoted to the improvement and advantage of his subjects, and who has this day come forward and declared to his people his determination, to share with them the danger and the toil. This is not a war merely for military glory, for extended dominion, or for powerful allies; but a war forced upon us by an insolent foe, in defence the constitution, the laws, the religion of this kingdom; in defence of every thing dear and valuable to a people. Our conduct this night, will, I trust, shew, that whatever may be the differences which prevail amongst us in her respects, it is our 15 unanimous resolution to stand firm in the defence of our Sovereign, and of our own civil and religious privileges. This is a resolution worthy of a free and generous people, fully sensible of the distinguished blessings, which they enjoy, a people magnanimous enough to drop all party interests, when the welfare and security of the nation is at stake. I therefore beg leave to move "That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty.—To return his Majesty the thanks of this house for his most gracious speech from the throne.—To assure his Majesty that this house is deeply sensible of his Majesty's paternal care and attention to the safety and interests of his faithful people, in carrying into effect such measures as Parliament has adopted for the defence of the United Kingdom, and the vigorous prosecution of the war.—That it is highly gratifying to this house to reflect, that in those preparations his Majesty has been seconded by the voluntary exertions of all ranks of his people, in a manner which his Majesty has been most graciously pleased to declare, has, if possible, strengthened their claims to his confidence and affection.—That they feel with just exultation, that the measures of the enemy have only served to rouse the native and hereditary spirit of the nation; and that all other considerations are lost in a general disposition to make those efforts and sacrifices which the honour and safety of the kingdom demand at this important and critical conjuncture.—They beg leave humbly to congratulate his Majesty on the impression which, notwithstanding the necessity of principally attending to the great object of internal security, has been made on the foreign possessions of the enemy, by the capture of the Islands of St. Lucia, Tobago, St. Pierre, and Miquelon, and of the Settlements of Demerara and Essequibo; and they are fully sensible of the promptitude and zeal displayed by the Officers employed in the conduct of the operations, by which those valuable acquisitions have been made, and by the forces acting under their command by sea and land.—That they have great satisfaction in reflecting, that the leaders, and several of the inferior agents in the late traiterous and atrocious conspiracy in Ireland, have been brought to justice, and that the public tranquillity has experienced in further interruption; and they earnestly participate in the hope which his Majesty has so graciously expressed, that such of his deluded subjects as have swerved from their allegiance are now convinced of their error; and, comparing the advantages they enjoy under the protection of a free constitution 16 with the condition of the countries under the dominion of the French Government, they will cordially and zealously concur in resisting any attempt, that may be made against the security and independence of the United Kingdom.—They assure his Majesty that he may rely on the readiness of his faithful Commons, to make such provision as may be necessary for the service of the year, and that they are fully sensible of the importance of persevering in the system which has been adopted, of defraying the expenses of the war with as little addition as possible to the public debt, and to the permanent burthens of the state.—They feel a perfect confidence that their fellow subjects will meet with fortitude, the pressure which the present situation of the country renders unavoidable, under a conviction of the indispensable importance of upholding the dignity, and of providing effectually for the safety of the empire.—They return their thanks to his Majesty, for his gracious intention of laying before them the Convention which his Majesty has concluded with the King of Sweden, for the purpose of adjusting the differences which have arssen on the subject of the 11th Article of the Treaty of l66l; and they trust that it will be found at once to uphold our maritime rights, and to produce the effect of maintaining and improving the good understanding which happily subsists between the two countries.—That they are most deeply convinced that it will be, as it ever has been, his Majesty's first object to execute, as becomes his royal dignity, the great trust with which he is invested; and they receive with the strongest feelings of veneration and dutiful attachment the expression of those paternal sentiments which induce his Majesty to consider himself as embarked in one common mon cause with his people, and which have determined his Majesty, if the occasion should arise, to share their exertions and their dangers in the defence of our constitution, our religion, our laws, and independence.—They beg leave humbly to assure his Majesty, that these sentiments will not be lost on an affectionate and grateful people, but will animate and invigorate the activity and valour of his fleets and armies, and the zeal and determination of his faithful subjects, to which his Majesty, under the protection of Divine Providence, may safely confide the honour of his crown and all those important interests which are involved in the issue of this momentous contest.—Partaking of these his Majesty's sentiments, and joining with his Majesty in humbly imploring the blessings of Divine 17 Providence, they look forward with a firm conviction that if, contrary to all just expectation, the enemy should elude the vigilance of his Majesty's fleets and cruizers, and attempt to execute their presumptuous threat of invading the coasts of the United Kingdom, the consequences will be to them discomfiture, confusion and disgrace, and that the exertions of this kingdom will be rewarded, not only by the glory of surmounting present difficulties and repelling immediate danger, but by the solid and permanent advantage of fixing its safety and independence on the basis of acknowledged strength, the result of its own tried energy and resources."
§ Mr. Burland.
—Sir, In rising to second the motion of my honourable friend, I find a considerable degree of embarrassment; not proceeding so much from the apprehension of addressing this House, whose indulgence I have before experienced, hut from the momentous crisis in which I am permitted to address you. A crisis, Sir, which whether we consider the general situation of the continent of Europe, sunk and depressed as it is by the predominant influence of one power to the rank and level of a petty German State, or whether we consider the particular situation of this kingdom rearing its head above those clouds of anarchy and despotism which have in succession shed their noxious influence on the globe: in whatever light we view, it, I believe it is a crisis unparalleled in the history of antient, and I am confident unequalled in that of modem times.—At a period like the present. Sir, when preparations are making, the avowed object of which we know to be the destruction of this country, when even at the moment in which I am now speaking, the mediated attack may possibly have commenced on our coasts, I am sure I need not call upon the members of this House for that unanimity on which our salvation depends. Small indeed, I am well aware, is the influence which any argument of mine would produce, but I rely with confidence on the unanimous vote of the House in support of the motion of my honourable friend, because the experience of the last session of Parliament has taught me, that whatever shades of difference there might be in political opinions on speculative or theoretical points, however gentlemen might disagree in their sentiments of past measures, or of proposed plans of defence, yet, whenever the welfare of the King, the country, or the constitution, was at stake, this House possessed but one opinion and one voice.—Let us, then, at the commencement of a session, during which it is probable the fate of this country will be decided, set an exam- 18 ple of unanimity to the British empire; let us not by dissentions here paralyze the efforts which a generous and patriotic enthusiasm is making for the preservation of the country.—If, Sir, any argument was necessary in favour of unanimity, from what source could I deduce it better, than from the disunion, the selfish politics, and the lust of partial aggrandizement, which have deluged Europe with blood, and involved the innocent and guilty in one common ruin.—But, Sir, I feel no apprehension of the want of unanimity, either within these walls or without. The moderation which his Majesty invariably shewed throughout the whole of the last war, the disposition which he at all times manifested to conclude a peace on fair and honourable terms, and the opportunity of which he availed himself to accept proposals of peace as soon as they were offered, have convinced the people of the necessity of the present war, and have united them in the prosecution of it. I fear not the want of courage in the people, or of vigour in the Government; but there is a circumstance from winch I confess I do entertain some apprehension; because, if the threatened attack is postponed to a more distant period, it may diminish the energy of the people, and may induce them to despise that danger, which I wish them to view alike without contempt or without dismay; it is from that improvident and overweening security which pervades many parts of the country. There is a language which I frequently hear used, which is in my opinion of so pernicious a tendency, that I have always thought it my duty, both as a magistrate and a man, to re-probate and refuse it. It is a very common phrase in all parts of the kingdom, to which I think every gentleman who now hears me can bear witness, that our present alarms are imaginary, that Buonaparté is as well convinced of the impossibility of invading this country a we are, that his preparations are only meant to alarm us, and to involve us in a ruinous expense. Now, Sir, if those who hold this language would consider the character of the enemy with whom we are to contend, if they would recollect that he invaded Egypt, and carried his arms further in that country than European troops had ever I penetrated before, at a time when he was engaged in a war with all Europe; if they would consider the armament which covers the coast of France from the Texel to the Bay of Biscay; if they would recollect that he has hitherto invariably attempted whatever he has threatened; that humanity, which forms a barrier to the ambition of other men, is no obstacle to his views; that of so small 19 estimation is life itself in his mind, that the sacrifice of thousands nay of whole armies, is no impediment to Ins progress; if they would reflect on these circumstances, I think they could not for a moment doubt, that he will attempt the invasion which he has threatened What the event of that attempt will be, it is not for human wisdom to foresee, but this it may be fair to predict; that if, like the Swiss, the Dutch, or the Hanoverian?, we wait, in a torpid or two confident security, until the enemy is at our gates, we shall share the fate of those unhappy countries; but if, on the contrary, we go forth with the spirit and the souls of Britons, to meet hire on our coasts; if we unite with one heart, and one hand, in defence of our country, we shall drive him back, with disgrace and discomfiture, to those who have raised him to the tyranny he usurps; where, like the Arch Fiend of old, he will return to his Pandemonium, and hear,On all sides, from innumerable tongues,A dismal, universal hiss—the soundOf public scorn.But, Sir, whatever may be the final issue of this contest; however glorious its termination may be to Great Britain, I shall always regret the revolution which it has produced in the manners and constitution of every state in Europe. For, Sir, the habits, perhaps the prejudices, of my education, have taught me to look with a jealous eye on every increase of military power; and I grieve to think, that while the military despotism of France exists, every nation must rely, for the protection of its liberties, not on its civil constitution, but or; its military force. But, Sir, while ibis evil does exist, for I must call it an evil, though, I admit it to be a necessary evil, I rejoice to see the hands in which arms are placed, rejoice to see a rank and file of property, I rejoice that arms are intrusted to those who will be induced by interest, as well as by principle, to use them in support of the laws and constitution of their country. Let me, Sir, draw ii contrast between the military force of the two nations: in the one I see the wretched conscript dragged in chains to fight the battles of his tyrant; in the other see free and independent volunteers rushing in such numbers, that it is necessary tore-strain their ardour, and impossible to supply all of them with arms, to the defence of whom? Of the father of his people, the King of a free country, of the sovereign who comes 20 forth on this, day, and pledges himself to his people, that, in the hour of peril, he will share their exertions and their dangers with them, in defence of our constitution, in defence of our religion, in defence of the laws and independence of his dominions.—Sir, T have purposely avoided entering into a detail of the different subjects I touched upon in his Majesty's speech, because my hon. friend has dilated upon them I in so ample and so clear a manner, that I am apprehensive of weakening the effect of his argument, by endeavouring to illustrate them. Gratitude, however, forbids my passing over in silence, the conduct of the British Navy. Of splendid achievements, indeed, the enemy has given them no opportunity; but the patience and perseverance with which they have continued to block up the ports of France, and the vigilance with which they have watched the motions of the enemy, so that I do not believe the smallest boat has escaped their notice, deserves our highest commendation. The conduct of the hon. Admiral, who commands the Channel fleet, in persevering to hold his station on the coast of France, in defiance of the storms and tempests incident to the season of the year, is above all praise.—I regret, Sir, that I cannot look back to the events which have taken place in Ireland with equal satisfaction. But though the seeds of rebellion have again germinated in that country, yet they have sprung from so weak a root, they have been cultivated by so unskilful a hand, and have been cut-down at so early a period, by the vigilance of government, that I would willingly flatter myself the time is approaching when they will be finally eradicated. If, Sir, we may believe the dying declarations of the leaders of the insurrection, even they were not sunk so low, as to wish for a connection with France, or to be insensible to the horrors of French fraternity; and the trials have evinced, that the deluded people who joined them, were influenced more by former engagements, and oaths imposed on them, than by any conviction of the justice or advantage of the cause they espoused.—I have already occupied so much of the time of the house, that I will not enlarge on the wound which we have inflicted on the foreign possessions of the enemy; while we have detained their fleets, blockaded in their own harbours, and' scarce suffered a single gun-boat to skulk from port to part. At any other period those conquests would have been considered as an adequate compensation for the 21 expenses of a war; but the splendor of these victories is, in some degree, lost, by the very circumstance which ought to make it more grateful to us, because they have been gained without bloodshed; and because the people of these colonies have voluntarily sought the protection of a government, whose mild and beneficent sway, they had before experienced.—Sir, I am now to thank the house for the indulgence which they have shewn, and the patience with which they have permitted me to state my reasons for supporting an address, which L trust will meet the unanimous approbation of this house, because I believe it speaks the feelings of every subject of the British empire.
§ Mr. Fox.
—Sir, I do not rise with the intention of objecting particularly to the proposed address in consequence of the speech which his Majesty has been most graciously pleased to make to both Houses of Parliament; nor am I disposed to dispute the soundness of the arguments employed by the honourable mover, and seconder of the address. I rise merely to advert to two points; one of which is omitted in the speech, and the other particularly alluded to. The point omitted in the speech is the mediation of Russia: a. subject on which I cannot help thinking, the house had a fair right to expect some communication. Lithe course of the last session of Parliament, when I called the attention of the house to the mediation of (he court of St. Petersbourg, a noble Secretary of State (Lord Hawkesbury), not now in tins house, did, as strongly as language can express, pledge ministers as not only ready to accept of the mediation of Russia, if offered, but, if not offered, directly to solicit it. The noble Lord distinctly pledged himself, that Ministers were not only willing to hear the ideas of the court of Russia, as to the best mode of bringing about an accommodation of the differences betwixt this country and France; but ready to state what their own ideas were of the most practicable means of restoring a good understanding betwixt the two countries.*
§ * "On this ground (said Lord Hawkesbury?), ministers had not only expressed their willingness to receive any proposition from the court of St Petersburg, but they had gone much beyond this assurance. They bad declared their readiness to explain, in the most frank and explicit terms, the views which they entertained on the points in dispute, and the mode which to them appeared the best calculated to bring about an amicable arrangement. No question of etiquette would stand in the way; the whole declaration of ministers had been given in the true spirit of peace, In aid of his Majesty's declaration, an22
§ From all that I have seen, heard, or observed, I have every reason to think that the noble Secretary was sincere in the pledge which he then gave, and that ministers have acted on that declaration. One would have naturally thought, then, that in a speech from the Throne, at the opening of a new session, and after such an interval has taken place, as might afford some grounds of ascertaining how far the application was likely to be successful, his Majesty would have referred to the subject, and put the House in possession of the means of determining how far any negotiations were likely to lead to the result which was in view. I am sensible that this is not the particular day for taking up the consideration of the success or failure of these negotiations; but the information, the want of which I complain of in the speech, will be very necessary, when, oh a future day, it may come to be discussed.—The other point to which I wish to allude, is one particularly referred to in the speech. In that part of the speech which refers to the situation of Ireland, the House are congratulated on the suppression of the late rebellion in that country, and a confident hope is held out of the permanent continuance of tranquillity. From past experience, I cannot easily flatter myself that such a hops will be realized. I can see no reason to think that permanent tranquillity will be established in Ireland while the present system is pursued. In the speech it is asserted, that the leaders of the late rebellion had in view the introduction of French dominion into Ireland, and that the whole plan of the insurrection was founded on the co-operation of a French force, destined to overthrow the British constitution as now established in Ireland. Whatever be the crimes of the men who were the authors of the late rebellion, I wish, in speaking of them, to be guided by justice. But, Sir, have not the leaders of the insurrection most unequivocally disclaimed all idea of a connection with the French Government? Have they not avowed, that they reprobated such a connexion, even with an idea of promoting their own views? Whatever atrocities the rebellion exhibited, and certainly no man
§ express assurance was given of his readiness to listen to any proposal for restoring the blessings of peace; and he had now to assure the honourable gentleman and the house, that ministers were ready to receive any offer of mediation on the part of Russia, or to offer to the mediation of that power the points in dispute betwixt the two governments—See Political Register, vol, iii. p. 1730.23
§ can think or hear with greater horror of those atrocities than I do: I must contend that it is not just to stigmatize the authors of the rebellion with at all leaguing themselves with the French government, in their views of destroying all connection with this country. A hopeis also expressed in the speech, that those who had swerved from their allegiance, were now convinced of their error. It is plain, Sir, that the word here ought to have been wish, and not hope. Under the present system of government in Ireland, it is impossible that any such hope can be rationally entertained; for, without a totally new system of managing the affairs of Ireland be adopted, a hope of the Irish being convinced of their error can hardly be expected. It is not said that another system is to be pursued, but we are only told, that a hope is entertained of the rebels being convinced of their error; thus shutting our eyes to the fate of that country, and the real state of the case. This, I allow, Sir, is not the day on which the consideration of the affairs of Ireland can come fairly before the house, but I should feel that I was not doing my duty to my country, if I were even now to let it be supposed, that there can be any rational hope of the continuance of permanent tranquillity in Ireland unless some measures are resorted to, of a nature very different from those now employed. When we recollect the description given of the general loyalty of the people of Ireland; when we recollect the representations given in the speeches of gentlemen in this house, we shall be careful of attaching much weight to any general representations of the slate of that country. On a subject so important as this is, I cannot think it either wise or safe to trust much to general words. I hope and trust, that gentlemen will keep their minds open for any future discussion which this subject may create. I trust they will not be so far influenced by representations now given, or confide so implicitly in general assertions, as to think future enquiry unnecessary. It is the duty of every man to revolve the matter deeply in his mind, and not to forestall any measure or any decision which may hereafter take place. The members of this home could not feel themselves otherwise than guilty, if they suffered themselves to believe in the continuance of Irish tranquillity, because the country is represented as now contented, and because hopes are held Out that this contentment is permanent.—Mr. Fox sat down with declaring, that he should not 24 disturb the unanimity which there seemed every reason to think would be maintained in the vote for the address.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer.
—I rise, Sir, for the purpose of replying to the observations which have been made by the hon. member, on the speech with which his Majesty has been pleased to address his Parliament this day. Although the hon. member is not inclined to oppose the address, and is disposed to entertain a favourable opinion of the sentiments which generally pervade it, yet it would, he declares, have afforded him more unqualified satisfaction, if the mediation of the court, of Russia, whether successful or not, had been explicitly mentioned in the speech from the Throne; and that the allusion to the insurrection in that part of the united kingdom called Ireland, had been couched in other or more guarded expressions.—Sir, the hon. gentleman has stated, with accuracy, the general import of that pledge, which, during the last session of Parliament, was made by my noble friend, the Secretary of State, whom it has pleased his Majesty to promote to a seat in another assembly. My noble friend did certainly declare, as the hon. gentleman has fairly stated, that his Majesty's ministers were ready to accept, not only now, but at any future time, the mediation of the Emperor Alexander, towards terminating the unhappy and unprovoked hostility in which the British empire was involved; and that for the purpose of convincing all Europe, of the equity of their cause, and the pacific nature of their intentions, they would not only accept it if offered, but that they would even condescend to solicit it. Sir, for the information of the hon. gentleman, I will communicate to him and to this house, that that mediation was offered by the court of Russia, and accepted with readiness and gratitude, on the part of his Majesty's servants; and although discussions of the greatest moment were consequently commenced, yet I am sorry to say, that in their progress they did not assume such a shape as to lead to any probability of an amicable arrangement with France. No man can be more concerned than I am, that the interference of that court has not been attended with that success which the hon. gentleman, on a former occasion, seemed so zealous in his expectation of. I am not, however, at all astonished to find, that the hon. gentleman expresses surprise at not receiving more information relative to this subject, nor do I think the regret he has shewn at finding any account of the issue of the negotiation omitted in his Majesty's speech at all un- 25 reasonable. I can assure the hon. gent, and the house, that his Majesty's servants have no wish whatever to withhold all the information in their power respecting the discussions which have taken place. The fact is, however, that circumstances of a nature which I hope may be temporary, but which I will not positively pledge, myself will turn out to be of that nature, did prevent ministers from making a communication to the house. Their wish was to conceal no information which could at all throw light on the subject, but they did not wish that the communication which they made should be imperfect, as it necessarily must have been if made under existing circumstances. Though I will not absolutely pledge myself to make a communication, even if the obstacle arising from the circumstances to which I have referred were removed, yet I can have no difficulty in saying that I should not be unwilling to gratify the house with the information in question, if it appeared to be the general wish of the house that this information should be granted. What I have said on this topic is, I trust, sufficient to convince the house, that the omission of the mediation of Russia in the speech was perfectly justified by circumstances. I will now, Sir, advert to what the hon. gent, said on the manner in which the speech notices the late insurrection in Ireland, and the actual stale of that country. In his Majesty's speech a hope is expressed, that such part of his deluded subjects as have swerved from their allegiance are now convinced of their error, and that having compared the advantages they enjoy from the protection of a free constitution, with the condition of those countries which are under the dominion of the French government, they will cordially and zealously concur in resisting any attempt that may be made against the security and independence of the United Kingdom. I admit, with the hon. gent., that even to the worst of traitors justice is a debt which is due, but do not see how, in this instance, any injustice has been done to the leaders of the late rebellion in Ireland. The hon. gent. contends that it is unjust to attribute to the leaders of that rebellion any design of introducing French dominion into Ireland. I cannot admit that the passage in question will fairly admit of such a construction. It is merely intended to convey this idea, that the deluded part of the population of Ireland, who might be disposed to employ French aid in destroying their connection with this country, would be diverted from their views by contemplating 26 the contrast betwixt the condition of their own country and the countries now groaning under the miseries of French domination. I have heard it said, and I see no reason to doubt it, that the leader in that insurrection, previous to the judgment of the court being pronounced on him, expressly declared his abhorrence of any alliance with the French government, and advised his deluded countrymen to consume the grass under the invader's feet, rather than suffer their native land to he polluted by the footstep of a French soldier. It may be allowed that some of the persons making such declarations were in circumstances which lead us the less to doubt their sincerity. I will even concede to the hon. member, that some of the declarations might be true, but if it be meant to assert that none of the leaders of the late Irish rebellion were inclined to court an alliance with France, I must be permitted most peremptorily to deny such a position. I have the best means of knowing that such assertions are founded in gross falsehood. Let it be recollected too what happened during the rebellion. Let it be recollected that many of the leaders, though they had no idea of introducing a French government into their country, were not indisposed to admit French aid to enable them with more prospect of success to prosecute their own views. They were willing to admit this at the hazard of what they considered as a contingent, but what I must ever consider as a certain evil, the evil of being compelled to contend against French dominion, even after they had succeeded in separating themselves from this part of the empire. But let this be as it may, let the views of the Irish be as separate as possible from any notion of French alliance, my position is, that the contrast of their own condition, and that of those nations which the French government has subjugated, would induce them at all events to resist the common enemy of the civilized world. This contrast would, I am persuaded, operate as the strongest inducement for them to abstain from the prosecution of views which can only expose them to destruction. The hon. gent, says, that in the speech, instead of the hope expressed of such an event, it would have been better if the word wish had been introduced. Sir, I will tell that hon. gent, and also this house, that the persons whom his Majesty has called to his government, have not barely the wish, but a rational and well-grounded hope of the establishment of general and permanent tranquillity in that 27 country. Sir, I state with the strongest satisfaction, and with no little exultation, that the conduct of his Majesty's government has operated a very salutary and material alteration in the sentiments of the majority of the people of that country. But the hon. gent, says, it is impossible to expect the continuance of tranquillity in Ireland without attending more particularly to the real situation of the country, and unless some plan of removing existing grievances is resorted to. Whether it would be fit at all to argue the question of the state of Ireland in the present state of affairs, I shall leave to the wisdom of the house to discover. For my own part, I am not aware of the possibility of such a discussion at this moment being productive of one solid advantage. On the contrary, I am thoroughly persuaded that the agitation of the question in the present crisis of affairs, could only tend to aggravate those evils which I am sure the hon. member must as sincerely as any man deplore, without producing any one of those advantages which the hon. gent, is so anxious to accomplish. The hon. gent. has recommended to members to keep their minds open for future discussion, to avoid the formation of prepossessions, to be ready for the consideration of the question whenever it occurs, with moderation and impartiality. It is hardly necessary for me to give any pledge to the house, if the subject is ever brought regularly under discussion, what conduct I may think it my duty to pursue. I shall studiously endeavour to keep my mind unbiassed and unprejudiced by any previous statements or antecedent representations. The hon. member will find me ready to enter on the discussion temperately and gravely, and to be guided in my judgment by w hat appears most consonant to the principles of justice, policy, and humanity. I trust that the house will be content with this declaration, as to the second objection of the hon. gent, on the opposite bench, and that the unanimity which is likely to prevail this night, may experience no interruption; but that we may carry our expression to the foot of the Throne, with that ready and universal zeal, which the sentiments contained in his Majesty's most gracious speech so justly demand.
§ Sir Francis Burdett.
—I do not rise, Sir, for the purpose of disturbing the unanimity of the House upon the present occasion. I shall vote for the Address. But there is a matter of the greatest importance, connected with that volunteer system which 28 has been so highly complimented in it; which I think it my duty to mention. And in so doing, I beg that I may not be misunderstood, nor misrepresented. In what I am about to say, I mean not the smallest censure upon the volunteers at large, nor even upon the system: however I may doubt, whether that system be or be not the least expensive, or the most eligible and effectual military force, either for the I purpose of defence or offence. Neither do I intend the slightest censure even upon that particular corps, whose conduct in one particular I disapprove. I can easily believe, that they may have been actuated by the best motives. The necessity of the times, the novelty of their situation, zeal for the service in which they have embarked, may all have prompted them to speedy and vigorous measures, the consequences of which they had not maturely considered.—But, Sir, I hold in my hand a paper, which purports to be an Address from the St. Giles's and St. George's Bloomsbury Volunteer Association,* directed to be carried
§ * The following is a correct copy of the Address to which Sir Francis alludes. "The Committee and the Commanding Officer of the St. Giles and St. George, Bloomsbury, Volunteer Association, most earnestly request your attention to the within paper.—St. Giles and St. George Bloomsbury Volunteer Association.—The Committee find themselves tinder the necessity of laying before the inhabitants of the united parishes, a state of the fund of the Association; and of requesting their pal titular attention to a few considerations of much importance to the country and to themselves.—From the statement hereto subjoined, of the subscriptions and the expenditure already made, and of the necessary current outgoings, it manifestly appears that the fund (notwithstanding the utmost economy has been used) is in no degree adequate to complete the establishment, much less to continue it—A great number of persons enrolled, extremely zealous, but not opulent, ate at this moment non-effective, because the fund is unable to furnish them with clothing.—It is unnecessary to state many considerations in order to excite the zeal of the inhabitants to supply a sufficient fund by further subscriptions.—the danger to which the country is at this moment exposed is too imminent and alarming to require to be dwelt upon.—The time may possibly be drawing near when the inhabitants would gladly sacrifice one-half of their property to be secure in the enjoyment of the remainder. It will be too late, when the enemy may be approaching the metropolis, to supply the means of training and disciplining those who have the courage and zeal to defend it.—Few districts, if any, have stronger reasons from local circumstances, which need not be pointed out, to wish for a strong volunteer force to be ready in it, in case the regular troops should be sent to the coast.—Few districts are better able, from their opulence, to bear the necessary expense of a Volunteer Association, either for the public defence, or for local protec-29
§ from house to house throughout those parishes; calling upon those who had already contributed, as well as upon those who had not; giving their opinion of the ability and wealth of the different inhabitants; and advertising them of an intended domiciliary visit to each house by two of the corps; threatening to publish their names at the close of the year; and particularly pointing cut the aged, the infirm, and the women, whose fears may be supposed most easily excited.—Sir, it is more especially my duty to notice this, as it has passed in a county, which I have the honour to represent in
§ tion.—The Committee, from viewing the present stare of the subscription, as it respects either the whole amount, or the sums given by individuals, are satisfied that many of the inhabitants were not aware of the extent of the necessary expenditure, or of the claims upon them for furnishing the means of it.—striking examples of pecuniary exertions have occurred in almost every part of the kingdom—Many individuals have singly expended several thousand pounds in raising and supporting Volunteer Corps.—Even towards a general Subscription in one county a Nobleman subscribed 2,000l. a Prelate 2,000l. several 1,000l. many private Gentlemen 500l. 400l. and 300l. each; while, in these parishes, the highest subscription (except in two instances) has been col. That sum, however, standing even as the highest subscription, though small, in comparison with the sums above-mentioned, would have produced an ample fund, if others of the parishioners had subscribed proportionally.—Ten different persons have each subscribed 50l. making up above a sixth of the whole subscription while many others, known to be of great opulence, either have not subscribed at all, or have given sums so comparatively small, that the Committee is most sincerely convinced they have acted under misconception.—The Committee abstain at present from publishing the subscriptions, until every person has had a full opportunity of reconsidering the matter. Before the end of the year they will be published.—I he crisis admits of no false delicacy—the present application is not to the liberality of persons—it is a call upon their patriotism and their duty, to come forward upon no less an occasion than that of re-cuing their country from destruction, and of defending the very existence of themselves and their families.—It is, therefore, fit that the country should know who the persons are that are zealous in its defence, and who those arc that at such a moment can decline to supply liberally the pecuniary means necessary to military exertions.—Those who are unable from age, infirmity, sex, or other cause, to tender personal service, should particularly recollect the great inconveniencies and sacrifices submitted to by those who arc performing military duty—they should endeavour to balance their account with their country by more extensive pecuniary aid.—Even those inhabitants who are serving or subscribing elsewhere, should remember that they have a stake to protect in this district.—The Committee will, in a few days, depute some of its members to apply to the inhabitant from house to house for their further subscriptions, and are confident that the application will not be in vain.—The inhabi-30
§ this House. It is impossible to foresee to what extent this practice may be carried. That an armed corps should be a deliberative assembly was never thought advisable; but that we should have parochial parliaments through the land, raising money at their will upon the inhabitants, could not be borne for a moment: especially when it is considered, that these same persons undertake to determine the gross amount of the sum to be raised, and the quota of the individuals, and that these same persons are to receive it, to dispose of it, and to partake of it.—Sir, it is the duty of this House
§ tants need only pay, at present, such part of their subscriptions as may be convenient, leaving it to the Committee to call upon them proportionally for tire remainder, by instalments, as it shall be wanted.—By order of the Committee,
§ Nov. 1, 1803. JOHN WRIGHT, Secretary.
|State of the Fund of the St. Giles and St. George Bloomsbury Volunteer Association.|
|Amount of Subscriptions, from the 25th of July to the 1st of Nov. 1803||3005||0||0|
|Drill Serjeants, Advertisements, Drums, Music, &c. &c. &c.||609||4||0|
|Further Expenditure necessary to complete the Establishment.|
|Clothing for 300 Men and Drummers||l800||0||0|
|Great Coats, 600||630||0||0|
|Pickers, Br ushers, Drivers, &c.||165||0||0|
|Light Infantry Ditto||100||0||0|
|Armoury and Magazine||250||0||0|
|Printing, Stationary, &c.||100||0||0|
|Erecting Abutment for Ball-firing, &c||150||0||0|
|Clerks, Messenger, &c.||200||0||0|
|Total Amount necessary||11005||0||0|
|Total Amount of Subscriptions||3005||0||0|
§ especially to meet, in the very beginning, a principle so dangerous: and, of all persons, the administration of the country ought to be the most alarmed at it; since the principle of this measure goes directly and immediately to the destruction, not only of this, but of every kind of government, and tends to the introduction of that anarchy, of which so much has been said to be apprehended. The motive may excuse the individuals; but it does not at all abate the malignity of the principle: for it is well known that many of the most ruinous practices to nations have been begun from good motives and for good purposes.—I have thought it my duty to take the earliest opportunity of noticing and reprobating this measure; and am persuaded ministers will take care, that it shall not be necessary for me to trouble the House hereafter on the subject.—The question was then put Upon the Address, and agreed to item, con., and a committee appointed to prepare the same—Adjourned.