—Sir; I as I hare reason to believe that a part, and I must confess a very important part, of the information which it is my wish the House should be in possesion of, with respect to the state and means of our naval defence, is not likely to meet with any opposition of the part of his Majesty's ministers, I shall not detain the time of the House with an details or observations which do not apply, I as closely as possible, to the papers that constitute the object of my inquiry. I shall, therefore, state generally the grounds and ends of the different motions I have to bring forward; but I beg leave to add, that if they are, as it will appear to nee, unexpectedly objected to, I shall claim the indulgence of the House, in explaining more fully, and calling their attention to the importance of the information in detail, which I conceive essentially necessary to the safety of the country.—The object of the first motion I shall have the honour of making, will be, an humble address to his Majesty, 875 "That he may be pleased to give directions to have laid before the House, an account of I the number of ships of the line, ships of 50 guns, frigates, sloops of war, bombs, hired armed vessels, &c. in commission on the 31st of December 1793, on the 30:hof September 1801, and on the 31st of Dec. 1803, specifying the service, in which they were respectively employed." Gentlemen will perceive that this motion calls for the production of papers, distinguishing what is absolutely necessary for their information, the state of three different periods in which the naval means of the country's defence were called into action. When the question 33 properly considered, witch respect to the necessity of making great preparations, in order to meet with vigour and efficacy those carrying on by the enemy, and openly avowed to be intended against he existence of this nation, I believe it will be found, that the number of that description of our naval force, tit to repel the actual attempts of the enemy, is at the present moment much inferior and less adequate to the exigency of the danger, than at any period in former times. Shall I, Sir, detain the House with a tedious recital of the great and extraordinary changes which have taken place, and which call for increased activity and exertion? Such an appeal is rendered unnecessary by the actual state of things, and by facts which cannot be controverted.—If, on former occasions we have been called upon to make preparations of defence in their magnitude superior to preceding cases, it does not require from me any arguments to convince the House, that in our present situation our means of security should be much greater in a comparative point of view, and that in proportion as we are threatened, not only with the acknowledged determination of the enemy, but with his increased power of effecting an invasion, we should redouble our efforts, and be ready to guard against every possible risk which may be hazarded against our independence ! and happiness.—The next point to which I shall beg leave, to call the attention of the House is, that species of naval force which Is bet calculated to meet and defeat that preparing by the enemy, to accomplish the great and favourite object of invasion. I believe, that at the commencement of the last year, it occurred to the lords of the Admiralty, that the kind of force best calculated to act against the attempts which might be made to effect a descent was, that more peculiarly fitted to display itself in shoal water; and I have good grounds to believe, that the lords of the Admiralty, thinking so, were of 876 opinion, that it ought to be considerably augmented. But although they were of that opinion, in the month of January, 1803, yet I can state to the House, without the fear of contradiction, that only 23 gun-vessels were provided for, as an augmentation to this species of naval force, 5 of which were to he completed in 3, and the remainder in 6 months, I mean, Sir, that this provision against invasion was undertaken to be carried into effect in the month of January, 1804. Yet of all the vessels likely to be employed with success, this craft was, of all others, the most eligible, whether its means of defence and annoyance are to be considered, or the. water on which it is destined to act. The lords of the Admiralty, convinced, however, of the necessity of employing it, took same measures for an establishment of that nature; and I am naturally led to inquire into the steps which they pursued to complete so desirable an object. They determined to have.5 gun-boats ready in three mouths, and the whole, constituting; 23, finished for actual service in 6 months. It is undoubtedly a very material point to inquire why this augmentation was not thought of at an earlier period. Am I, Sir, to recapitulate the various motives which should have accelerated increased exertion? Were I to do so, I should merely restate what has been obvious to every man of common sense and common observation. In the month of August, when we saw the, necessity of augmented efforts; when we saw transports for the conveyance of troops collecting daily in the port of Boulogne when we saw them gaining new strength and new additions, during the fine weather, to the months of November and December, and when we knew that they had increased to upwards of 1OOO. in the same port, independent of the armaments in Helvoet, in. the Texel, in Brest, and other points of attack; what reason, let me ask, can be assigned for the gross neglect which has taken place in this respect? But above all, Sir, let me ask what defence can be set up for this extraordinary conduct, when we were told by government itself, that we were threatened with invasion from day to day when we had, it I am not very much misinformed, reason to believe that 100. strong gun-boats were collected at Boulogne ready to convoy and protect the enemy's flotilla, assembled in that same port? In stating all these circumstances, it is hardly necessary for me, I think, to apply them to the subject under our discussion. Having, as I have observed, all these proofs before us, I wish to know, and trust I shall not be const- 877 dered as asking too much, why we can have but a force to meet the enemy in his own way, a part of which is to be ready only in 3 months, and the remainder, the greater part, to be compleated in not less than 6? If we have been preparing for a considerable time; with all the efforts of which the country is capable, an immense land force; if government be serious in the notice which it 1ms given, and in the alarm which it has diffused, of the attack that menaces our independence said even our existence; if we are now ready to contend on our native soil with an enemy waiting for a favourable moment to make a descent in that class of vessels peculiarly adapted to cross the Channel; I hope I shall not be thought unreasonable in*asking, why the best and most effectual means of meeting and triumphing over the danger, have been so long suspended; and why a part of our counteracting exertions, in the naval department of our strength, has been deferred for three months, and the more considerable part has been postponed for the space of six months? This will constitute the object of the second motion, with which I shall trouble the House. I shall not, thinking, as I do, that it would bean unprofitable waste of time, undertake to shew, that the means of our national defence, with respect to the use of gun-boats, have been improperly used; and that when it was found necessary to resort to them, they were only attempted too late to be effectual. I have now to state what has been done in the course of the last war, when the occasion was less pressing, and the circumstances were, under every point of view, of a less imperious nature: and I have to assure the House, that if the proper documents be granted, I shall undertake, to prove the truth of the assertions, which I may feel it my duty to bring forward. Gentlemen will, no doubt, recollect, that in l794 and 1801, it was found necessary to augment the tame species of naval force to which have this evening alluded. What was the conduct of government at each of these periods? A considerable number of gun-boats was got ready in the two first periods, with weeks only; and the same activity of preparation was carried on with success in the year 1801, within the space of from 12 to 14 weeks. Instead of any exertion now, similar to those instances which I have mentioned, we are. informed, that the greater part of our means of defence is to be completed within 6 months, and that a few gunboats will be ready at the end of three.—Thus, Sir, I am warranted in maintaining Shat here we have sufficient grounds for 878 motion to address his Majesty, that he might I be graciously pleased to use additional vigour and expedition in preparing and maturing our naval means of defence against the enemy's armaments; for employing redoubled activity against the danger with winch we are threatened; and for guarding the narrow seas with more strictness and vigilance. These, it will not be denied, constitute objects of true constitutional inquiry, and they form a most satisfactory ground for me to demand the information which I desire may be laid before this Mouse.—In the like manner I also propose, "that an humble address be presented to his Majesty, for a copy of the contracts made, and the orders given, by the. lords of the Admiralty, in 1793,. 1797, and 1803, with respect to the number of gun-vessels to be built, distinguishing the time at which the contract was made, the period in which it was to be brought to a conclusion, and the amount of the sum to be paid for the performance of it." These accounts are the more important and material as they will give to the House the opportunity of not only seeing the opinion of the lords of the Admiralty on the subject, but they will also afford the means of comparing our naval strength in this respect, as it actually exists, with what it was in former instances, and tend most essentially to promote that end for which we cannot be too zealous in our wishes—the security of the country. It is not for me to anticipate the opinion of gentlemen upon these questions; but to cost certainly no man will undertake to tell me, that this is not a proper mode for satisfying the House, whether that preparations which have been made by his Majesty's ministers, in the direction of naval affairs, have bee commensurate to the magnitude of the crisis in which we are placed. As the measures I have thought proper to touch upon are decisively necessary for the defence of the country, I will cot aligns the I House with dwelling on them at a length that must be uninstructive and tedious. There is I am confident, no man who hears me that is not convinced of the vast importance of these objects, which are superior in magnitude to any that can occupy our attention. They can receive no embellishment or illustration from any wards which it is in my power to use, for they press themselves irresistibly on the minds of all.—Another object to which I shall call the attention of the House is, however remote it may appear to some, not less essential to (he permanent; security and happiness of the country, I mean, Sir, not what relates to cur present danger, and our actual exertions, but to 879 what should be bur system of conduct, even were peace to be concluded, with respect to any farther war. It is a consideration, let me say, in which not only our own dearest interests, but the interests and destiny of Europe are involved. Next to the two first, points which I have noticed, it remains with the House to determine whether the state of our navy, at the commencement of the war, was such as to call for augmentation, or diminution. In the year 18Ol, it was impossible to suppose that the navy did not require more exertion than in 1793, for every thing indicated that it was not so promising as in the beginning of the former war. I have no desire to disclose the precise condition of our present force, but the truth is, that yon were bound to make every possible exertion, and even efforts altogether unprecedented, to augment and repair your navy at the beginning of the present war, from motives and causes which did not exist in the commencement of the former war. It is almost needless for me, Sir, to remark, that there are two modes of increasing our naval strength with respect to our shipping; the one by building vessels in the King's yards, the other by building them in consequence of private contracts in the merchants' yards. If we look to the progress of our naval improvement for a very long time, we shall find that no less than two-thirds of it have been built in the merchants' yards; and undoubtedly, it is not necessary for me to state to the House, that which must be known to every person conversant with the subject, that building in the King's yards, in time of war, is nearly suspended altogether. I have also to remark, what I am convinced will not escape the attention of gentlemen, that the great augmentation of our navy does hot arise from ships began, in a period of war, but from ships which have been laid upon the stocks for several years antecedent. During the last war, I can state, without the possibility of contradiction, that out of 24 ships of the line, prepared and finished for actual service, two alone were supplied from his Majesty's yards. What conclusion then, it may be said, do I intend to draw from these facts? I wish to establish it as a system that should be acted upon, that when the circumstances of the times require extraordinary efforts, you should look in the building of ships by contract, and that you should also lock to the augmentation of your navy, not in the precise moment when necessity calls for exertion, but many years antecedent to the pressure of any unforeseen exigency. As to the difference 880 of building between the King's and the merchants' yards, it was evident that no material difference arose in point of expense, since, in the latter, the amount of the expense was regulated by public advertisement, and the work was to be executed in the best manner. Now, Sir, if I am not very much mistaken, I am enabled to state, that since the present Lords of the Admiralty have come into office, only 2 ships of the line have been contracted for to be built in the merchants' yards. I mean to shew that, entering on the present war, when our navy could not be in so good a condition as at the beginning of the former war, every possible means should have been taken to augment and strengthen it; that it was a period which required greater exertion; and that only 2 ships of the line have been contracted for; while, during the last war, out of 2g ships of the line, the King's yards furnished but two. But if the Admiralty be liable to censure for these omissions, it will be found still more so from details which lean pledge myself to prove in the most satisfactory way. I have explicitly to state, that there are at this moment docks and slips in the river unoccupied, which are calculated for building 14 or 13 ships of the line. When, therefore, all these circumstances are put together, and fairly considered, I hope I shall not be told, that they do not constitute grounds for an address to Iris Majesty.—The next motion I have to make is, "that there be laid be laid the House a list of such ships as have been built in the King's yards in 1793 and 1801."But if gentlemen should think any information on this head might be the channel of improper intelligence to the enemy, I shall feel it my duty to abstain from pressing the motion on the House; for I am aware that there will still be grounds sufficiently strong to convince the House, that the construction of vessels in the merchants' yards, is preferable to that which is now adopted in those of his Majesty's. I shall afterwards submit a motion for the production of a list, similar in substance and time, of the vessels built by contract in private yards; and to this, I conceive, no material objection can be made, A noble friend "of mine, on the bench below me (Lord Castlereagh) has, on a former night, entered into a comparative view of the state; of our naval force in different years; but it was so generally couched, as to be very little suited to the present inquiries which form the objects of my motions. It is material for the House to remark, that in he former war we set out with 16,000 881 men, who were soon after augmented with 2,000 more, and in the course of the year were increased 10 the number of 73 or 75,000, including marines. In the present war we started with 50,000 men, and it should not pass unnoticed that we also engaged in it when our mercantile marine was increased in a material proportion. Yet, what was done? Why, although we began with 50,000 men, and had all the great advantages arising from an unprecedented prosperity of trade and commerce, our naval face did not exceed, in the number of men, 86,000 at the end of the year. Thus, in the first year of the former war, we had an increase of 60,000 seamen, and on the first year of the present war, an augmentation of 36,000 only. In the few plain statements I have made, the House will perceive that I have cautiously abstained from all general reasoning, and that I have carefully confined myself to such grounds as I have thought sufficient to justify the motions I have to bring forward. Should the motions be refused, I trust, however, that I shall be indulged by the House in any further reasoning and explanation which I maybe called upon to employ; and should they be granted, I shall reserve, for a future day, the remarks and illustrations to which their objects must naturally lead me. The considerations which they involve are of the first importance, and render it, in my the indispensable duty of Parliament to agree in an address to his Majesty. I shall therefore conclude with moving, "That an humble address be presented to his Majesty, praying that his Majesty may be graciously pleased to give orders, that an account of the number of ships of the line, of ships of 50 guns, frigates, sloops of war, bombs, hired armed vessels, &c. as have been in commission, with the distribution of their respective services on the 31st of December, 1793, on the 30 st of September, 1801, and the 31st of December, 1803, be laid before the House."
§ Mr. Tierney.
—Sir; the House will, I hope, indulge me with some small portion of their attention, more particularly fried the speech which the right hon. gent, has delivered, in whatever light I consider the present motions, the more I am inclined to think the conduct of the right hon. gent, as one of the most extraordinary proceedings I ever witnessed. I agree with the right hon. gent, that government did think the country plated in a most alarming crisis, and I was, therefore, led to hope that those who were of that opinion would abstain from questions more calculated to engender dis- 882 content, to create fears, and to diffuse dissatisfaction, than likely to be of the slightest advantage to the public.—What I have most particularly to complain of is, that the right hon. gent brings forward his motions without any grounds whatever. He merely sets up his own opinion against that of the Admiralty; and, if this criterion is to be admitted, I can be under no apprehension with respect to the event of his inquiries, since the conduct of the Admiralty is sanctioned by the general approbation of the country. I feel, Sir, that clamour is no proof of the contrary of what I have stated, and that I speak from what I know, not, like some gentleman, from what is supposed to be known. I merely speak from the knowledge which has reached me personally, and I cannot help expressing some surprize at finding myself in so noisy a place, in so quiet a country. I trust I cannot be accused of inconsistency in calling this a very extraordinary proceeding, since, while an inquiry is proposed to be instituted, which has for its object the censure of the Admiralty, we find all the enemy's ports sealed up, our commerce protected in every direction, and our trade prosperous In an unexampled degree. If I recollect right, there was a time when the right hon. gent, was unbounded in his expressions of esteem for the capacity and talents of the First Lord of the Admiralty, and I should wish to know-how long it is since he has changed his mind respecting that noble lord. It cannot be out of the recollection of the House, that the right hon. gent, spoke in terms of the highest panegyric of Lord St. Vincent, and that when he recommended others to fill situations under government, as likely to execute the duties of their office with credit, he mentioned the noble earl as one so admirably qualified to preside over the naval department, that the whole country looked un to him as the only person fitted for the First Lord of the Admiralty. The only difference then, between me and the right hon. gent, is, that he has changed an opinion, which he solemnly delivered in this House, and that I have adhered to the sentiments which he stated, strictly coinciding as they did with my own feelings. "With respect to the great talents of Earl St. Vincent, let me say, although they can derive no support from my feeble praise, that I believe no roan is superior to him as an admiral; and I am confident that I shall be borne out by the unanimous voice of the public, when I state that his services have been no less splendid, than productive of the most solid and permanent advantages. I also know, 883 that such is his patriotism and his sense of honour, that the noble lord would rather suffer every thing, than lose what he values beyond all other considerations, the confidence of his countrymen. The right hon. gent., altogether unmindful of the compliments which he before passed on Lord St. Vincent, now brings forward a charge of incapacity against him; for, by all his motions, nothing less is meant; and we are called upon to decide, that there is a glaring want of skill in the First Lord of the Admiralty, for which the right hon. gent. is to find an adequate remedy. We all know the pre-eminent merits of the right hon. gent, as a volunteer; we know how very much the country is indebted to him for his exertions in that line; but still, I trust, lie will excuse me, when I assure him that, I think the land service quite enough for him, without taking any part in the sea-service. But the right hon. gent, says, "agree to my motions grant me the papers which I demand, and I shall undertake to prove all my assertions." I say, no; we must, in that case, necessarily have an inquiry; and upon what grounds am I to understand that an inquiry is admitted by the country to be proper at this moment? The details which must take place would be long and complicated, and they must go to criminate Lord St. Vincent, or give to the right hon. gent, a hold to move for more papers. I am at a loss to conceive how the measure can, for a single instant, be entertained by the Mouse, when no cause, no fact, is brought forward in support of it; when every possible energy pervades the whole 'branch of the public service over which the noble lord presides; when naval skill, vigilance and activity, are displayed in every quarter, and the best officers are employed in every direction, with the highest honour to themselves, and the greatest advantages to their country. But Lord St. Vincent, we are told, has prepared, or is preparing, only 23 gunboats, to oppose to the enemy's attempt at invasion. This accusation, which seems calculated to dispirit the country, comes, let me observe, rather oddly from the right hon. gent, who has called loudly for every confidence which could not be reposed in govt. and has deprecated, in the most earnest language, every appearance of party spirit. The fact, however, is, that there is a greater proportion of force, and of that peculiar kind of naval force adapted to meet the enemy's armament on the coast, to which the right hon. gent has alluded, than gentlemen expect. They will hear, not per- 884 haps without some surprise, yet I have no doubt with real satisfaction, that our naval strength is not only immense, but admirably composed for a great variety of service. The particulars of a short statement, which I have the honour to submit to the House, can be justified by the roost authentic documents, The ships of the line, frigates, sloops of war, bombs, and other vessels, amount to 511; block-ships supplied by the Trinity House are the lighters and small craft fitted in the King's yards, are, according to the last returns 373; the ships furnished by the East-India Company 19; and the flotilla completely equipped and ready for immediate service, amounts to 624. Making all together 1,536; and yet, Sir, this force of 1,536 vessels has been prepared and completed by this unworthy First Lord of the Admiralty I But, unfortunately for the safety of the country, the right hon. gent, has discovered, that only 23 gun-brigs have been contracted for. Will the House agree upon the bare assertion of the right hon. gent, that Lord St. Vincent is to blame, and requires a great deal of looking after; or rather will they not agree, that the opinion of the right hon. gent, has less weight with the country than that of Earl St. Vincent? "With respect to building ships by contract, which the right hon. gent, so strenuously recommends, he says, it is nearly impossible to build vessels in the King's yards in time of war; but although this assertion may be admitted to a certain extent, it will not, I trust, be denied, that ships may be completed and repaired there. However we consider the question, it is evident, that we have no case made out by the right hon. gent, and that we require some proof besides his bare assertion—I have also to observe, that the merchants' yards have been tried, and have been found not altogether so well suited to the building of ships as some persons seem to think. Are contractors so fully to be; relied on, that the right hon. gent, has had no cause to be dissatisfied with them, after an experience of seventeen years? Besides, Sir, Earl St. Vincent may be so very parsimonious of the public money as to be inimical to all idle expenditure. The speech of the right hon. gent, on this point appears to me to smell of a contract. I shall content myself with an instance of building in the merchants yard; The Ajax was built for 41,0001. and the bargain was thought a very-good one, yet in the course of three years, a further sum of 17,000l. was wanted to complete her for service.—In short, Sir, we are called upon to decide, without proper 885 documents, that Lord St. Vincent is to blame, and that the naval law laid down by the right hon. shipwright behind me, is to be considered as undeniable. Are we then to pass an opinion, that the navy of England is hastening to its ruin, and this on the suggestions of one who calls for general exertion and cordial co-operation against the enemy; bat who now seems to be affected by a panic which he formerly treated which contempt? I wish then to ask the right hon. gent., and I will put it to the House; whether he believes that the attack he has me this night on the Admiralty, is likely to do good either in this country or abroad?—With respect to the number of seamen, I have no objection to agree lo the production of that account; but the right hon. gent, has not taken a fair comparative view of the number raised within the first year of the last war and the year 1803. At the former period, after a peace of 10 years, the navy derived a very considerable increase in men from the spirit, of enterprize, the prospect of prize money, and the great distress of the mercantile interest. There was also at that time no supplementary militia, no army of reserve, nor a variety of collateral circumstances which, in the actual conjuncture of affairs, prevent the supplies of men for the sea service. The success which has attended the levy of men in the present year is truly satisfactory, when we consider that the land service has required great efforts, and that the volunteer force alone amounts-to 450,000 men; and so far should we be from blaming Lord St. Vincent, that his conduct in this respect is entitled to the highest praise. It appears, that of the 100,000 men voted by Parliament, there are not quite as deficient; for by the returns made, there were in actual service, to the 31st of December, 76,000 men; according to the returns made to the Admiralty by the regulating captains, 6,441; and the marines amounted, on the 10th of March, to 15,673 men; giving a total of 98,174 seamen and marines. I will now, Sir, put it to the House, whether a more successful exertion could have been made in the teeth of the volunteers, of the army' of reserve, and of the supplementary militia, where only 1,700 men were wanting to complete the whole of the estimate? But, Sir, this is not all; we have also a force of 25,000 sea fencibles for Great-Britain, putting Ireland out of the question. In all these instances I may safely ask, whether the noble lord at the head of the Admiralty is a fit object for distrust and 886 suspicion? But I am entitled also to inquire where the right hon. gentleman has had his information? If he has obtained it from some great naval officer, it certainly may be worth attending to; but until I am satisfied of this, all I beg of the right hon. gent, is, not to attack, by a side wind, a character that deserves as much from the hands of the country as any man that ever lived in it; a character who has fought the battles of his country with as much bravery and as much gallantry as any hero of any country, ancient or modern and from his recent exertions, zeal, and activity, has shewn himself as well qualified to serve his country in the high station which he now so honourably fills, as any man can possibly be. I will ask the right hon. gent, if he does not think such proceedings as that of the motion he has this night brought forward, and his subsequent reasoning on it, must tend in a high degree to invigorate and inspirit the enemy, whilst it must cause despodency at home? I have never heard, from any quarter, a complaint of want of men or of ships, except in the insinuations of the right hon. gent. The noble earl at the head of the Admiralty has procured nearly the fall complement of seamen voted by Parliament in the shortest time, and Under the greatest and most pressing difficulties that any man in his situation ever had to contend with, and, therefore, unless I have better ret sons given than any that have been hitherto adduced, I must think myself justified in refusing papers, the production of which can have no other effect than that of further inquiry, which would not fail to convey a very strong insinuation and suspicion against the character of Earl St. Vincent, which stands most deservedly so high in the estimation of a vast majority of the country, that I believe it is the general opinion there never has been his equal. On these grounds I agree to the production of two of the papers, but not to the others, as they cannot be produced without bringing in question what I do not think it now right to answer—why the merchants' yards are not applied to for building ships at the present period. I therefore move, by way of amendment, that the following words be added to the first motion, after the words gun-boats and gun-brigs, "and all 01 her armed ships, vessels and boats, used in the public service."
§ Sir Charles Pole
said, he had no official documents to assist him, but must trust in a great measure to his memory for what he had then to deliver to the considera- 887 tion of the House. He did not mean to trespass on the time of the House, but to endeavour to confine, or rather to direct their attention to the leading farts which had taken place relative to our naval defence since the commencement of the War. It must he thought, be perfectly in the recollection of the House, that in the space of 48 hours after it was known that, hostilities were actually to commence; Admiral Cornwallis sailed for Brest to blockade the enemas squadron in that port. Since that time, his force had been from time to time reinforced, and was now so strong and numerous as to carry tile fullest conviction to the breasts of the whole world, that there never had been a period in our history in which the exertions of the Admiralty had been so great as at the present moment. When the House looked backward to what has been done since the commencement of the was, the large fleets we had off Brest, Toulon, Ferrol, and considered the loyalty, zeal, and activity with which every admiral, and every officer in these several fleets were animated, and then, if the question were, whether the right hon. gent., or Earl St. Vincent were in the right, he believed the House would not be long in determining.—With respect to the gun-boats, he conceived those we had now in our service were far more useful than the gun-brigs which had been used last war, and which he appealed to the testimony and opinion of the hon. admiral opposite to him (Berkeley) whether they were not mere jobs? Besides, it was not by gun-boats that gun-boats were to be resisted; it was by our frigates, sloops, and other ships of war of larger force, that any very considerable and material impression can be made on them.—For his part, he thought the House should cautiously entertain a question of this nature, and should refuse inquiry which would create suspicion, and might be attended with very mischievous consequences to the naval service, and to the general interest and welfare of the country. The House would do well to recollect also, that we had only been fortunate enough to any a very tow months peace after ten wars of extremely laborious service; so that, when at the end of the war the men were discharged, there was scarcely one who would not rather have died than enter again, which had very greatly increased the difficulty of raising the number that had been voted by Parliament. The men had, however, been raised to nearly the full complement; but this had been done by means of uncommon and unceasing exertions, 888 which reflected the highest credit on the Admiralty. From the beginning of the war to the present moment, the fleets had been constantly and continually on the alert; and there never had been shewn so much gallant perseverance and excellent seamanship as in our Brest fleet having kept its station in spite of every obstacle during so many months. The fleet lying off Ferrol, Toulon, the Texel, Flushing, &c. had all evinced the same persevering bravery, zeal, and watchfulness, and shewed, that if we were but unanimous amongst ourselves, we might bid defiance to all the power and menaces of an enemy that durst not venture out of any of his ports to face the squadrons, whether great or small, that were stationed to confine them therein.
§ Admiral Berkeley
would not have offered himself so soon to the Speaker's notice, had he not been called upon by his hon. and gallant friend (Admiral Pole), and by some evident mistatements which had been made by the right hon. gent. (Mr. Tierney), To the first he should reply, that he was not aware of the jobs which had been made of gun-boats last war, but certainly could say, that the gun-vessels, which his right hon. friend alluded to in his motion, were not of that description, but were of a class of which he should have occasion to mention hereafter. With respect to the triumphant sort of flourish which had been made use of by Mr. Tierney, who said, that no ground of complaint had been made out against the Admiralty, and that he expected to hear of country being cut off, and vessels taken, he should only state, that something of that sort might have been all edged with justice, which he should likewise allude to by and by; but when he heard him state that the care and providence of the Admiralty had been such as to raise the whole extent of the vote of seamen, except 1700, he must suppose that he was so newly come into office, and as yet felt himself so little at home in it, that he ' had neither examined the truth of his assertions, nor asked any professional person if it could possibly be the case. The fact was, that he had taken the whole of the returns of the Navy-office from the monthly books I of the ships, which amounted to 76,000 men, I in which the marines were included, and had added the 15,000 marines which were returned to the Admiralty from the headquarters. Did he mean to say, that there were 15,000 marines at this time who were not embarked? Because certainly the fact I was not so. There was hardly a marine at any of the head-quarters. They were all embarked on board of the fleet, and included, as well as the 6,000 impressed seamen, in 889 the returns at the Navy-Office, and consequently included in the 76,000 men.; which I brought the question, if it had any reference to the motion' before the House, to a state much nearer the truth, viz. that instead of the seamen being equal to the vote, which I was 100,000 men; instead of being only 17OO short of that vote, it would be found that there were nearly 8O,000 short of that number.—With respect to the number of gun vessels which the right hon. gent, had chosen to state, and amongst which he classed the launches and cutters, which he chose to say were better than the gun brigs alluded to by his right hon. friend (Mr. Pitt), he must positively deny both the one and the other, the number and the quality. If he chose to call every cockleshell into which a gun was placed, a gun vessel, he certainly might make them out; but of those he had seen, some were unable to go out, even too Spithead, unless it was in a calm; and as for the comparison, it was too trifling and too ridiculous ever to enter into the head of a professional man; but as the right hon. gent, was not so, be perhaps might be excused for making it.—He should now come to the motions made by his right hon. friend, which lie must not only think proper but necessary, as they would not only put all questions upon the conduct of the Admiralty at rest in future, but tend to shew if they had done every thing in their power, and whether they had made every preparation for the defence of the coast which they ought to have done. In his opinion they had not. It might perhaps be asked by some persons, where he had gained his experience in the service to form such an opinion? How proper, and how just, how wise, or how decent, such a question, coming from such a quarter, might be, he certainly should not think of saying, but should leave to the judgment of the House. It was to the experience of much older and more experienced officers than himself he would appeal; and if all officers of high rank and knowledge in the navy were called to the bar of that House, they would corroborate what he should advance. He averred this. He averred, that if a sufficient number of gun-vessels, of a proper construction, had been built and maimed, which they could have been by this time, to have assisted the frigates and ships which the Admiralty say they have in the Channel, the junction of the enemy's flotilla at Boulogne would have been prevented; and this he would prove, not by his experience, but by facts and documents, furnished to the public by the Admiralty themselves. Look Et the Gazettes, in which the 890 gallant young officers who commanded the frigates, have told you, "we have taken I, 2, or 3, gun-boats; we could have taken more, but they escaped into shallow water, where it was impossible to follow them." He asked, would this have happened if they had been provided with gun-vessels to assist them? Certainly not. But even of those frigates and sloops upon which such dependence is placed, he averred the Admiralty had not provided a sufficient number. No; not even for common duties of the Channel; and this he would likewise prove, by official docu-roents—(Here he read advertisements for contracting for fourteen armed ships for convoys)—what did this prove? Why, that the Admiralty were driven (for the date of this proposal is subsequent to the right hon. gent. notice), to hire the worst arid most expensive sort of vessels; vessels which, until this time, were never resorted to, except at the outset of a war, while the frigates, &c. were getting ready. But what does this prove?. Why that the fact is, we have not a frigate; or sloop left or built, to fit out, for the necessary defence and protection of the Channel. Might they not have them? Certainly they might; and he was happy to find that he was not the only officer who had offered; plans for this purpose to the Admiralty; he would read a part of one of these plans, by which it would be seen, that a force might, and still may be, created, which would effectually secure our coasts, annoy the enemy, and by not interfering with the usual naval exertions, might be instantly manned, and by these means leave the frigates to those duties for which they are so expressly calculated (hear he read a part). If this plan had been adopted, these shameful contracts for armed I ships would have been unnecessary, and our convoys would have been protected. As it was, 19 of one convoy were taken, and carried into Spanish and French ports; and even between Spit head and the Downs, a very rich West Indiaman had been taken by the enemy's privateers. The system of gun-boats was much derided, and we were told they were of no use whatever. Another official document, however, would shew, that such was not exactly the opinion of the Admiralty, for they had actually contracted for 20 gun-brigs; but to make even this paltry number as ridiculous as they wished us to believe them, the time limited for their completion is, half in three months, and the remainder in six. Good God if they were of no use, why build them at all? but if they were of use, why not build more, and in the shortest time possible? As it is, in 6 months the project of Buonaparté must have either 891 succeeded or have completely failed. They talk of the nature of these vessels, and of their force. He did understand that one of the most scientific officers in the service, had not only laid his own ideas, but the plans of his father, who certainly was, without exception, not only as good an officer, but as accomplished a mechanic and ship builder, as ever was known; and when he mentioned the name of the late Sir Charles Knowles, no person would deny it. This great officer's plans were shewn to the Admiralty. What was the answer? Not very gracious, perhaps, but very true. One lord said he was not competent to judge; the other said he knew nothing of shipbuilding: this might be so, and it was not actually necessary, that either, a lord of the. Admiralty or a captain should be ship-builders; but at least, it was a sort of cousin-german duty to their own, and they ought not to talk of want of experience, when they were so ignorant themselves.—As to the motions made by his right hon. friend, (Mr. Pitt) he certainly should give them his support; but, if he had a fault to find with them, it was, that they did not extend far enough. He wished to see an inquiry into every part of the naval system, into the treatment of the officers and men, into the situation and state of the ships, into the state of the dock-yards, and into the want of stores and artificers; for of these last, he understood, there was a defalcation of 800 shipwrights less than the usual war establishments. This he wished to see made from no personal motives against the noble lord at the head of the Admiralty, on the contrary, he had before disclaimed such motives, and he believed he held the character of that noble lord in as high respect, and was better acquainted with it than those who pretended to be such warm partizans in his favour. This inquiry would either prove the negligence and incapacity of the Admiralty, or place their fame so high as not to be touched by the breath of slander. Upon these heads, however, he should not enlarge, as they were extraneous to the motion before the House—not but lie held papers on this subject, which might make the House start. These contained subjects, which, even in that House, were too dreadful, and too delicate to state publicly. But this he did not hesitate to affirm; and he begged the House to remember, that he warned them of it; that if the present system was pursued, whoever might be at the Admiralty, if this system is not immediately changed, the most dreadful, the most fatal calamity that ever happened to this country might be expected.
§ Sir Edward Pellew,
—Sir; as I very sel- 892 dom trouble the House, I hope I may be permitted to make a few observations on a subject of which, from the professional experience I have had, I may be presumed to have some knowledge. From the debate of this night, there is one piece of information I have acquired, that the French have got upwards of a thousand vessels at Boulogne. I am glad to find they are shut up there; we have one advantage in it, we know where they are; I wish we had any means of knowing when they intended to come out. I know this much, however, that they cannot all get out in one day, or in one night either; and when they do come out, I trust that our cockle shells alone, as an hon. admiral has called a very manageable and very active part of our force, will be able to give a good account of them. Sir, I do not really see, in the arrangement of our naval defence, any thing to excite the. apprehensions of even the most timid among us; on the contrary, I see every thing thru may be expected from activity and perseverance, to inspire us with confidence. I see a triple naval bulwark, composed of one fleet acting on the enemy's coast, of another consisting of heavier ships stationed in the Downs, ready to act at a moment's notice, and a third close to the beach, capable of destroying any part of the enemy's flotilla that should escape the vigilance of the other two branches of our defence. I beg pardon for troubling the House, but accident brought me here, and I intend that my stay should be as short as possible.—In respect to what has been said of building ships by contract, I must confess I do not much admire that mode of keeping up our navy. IF have seen some of them, (I particularly allude to the Ajax and Achilles) that I took for Frenchmen.—As to these gun-boats which have been so strongly recommended, this mosquito fleet, they are the most contemptible force that can be employed; gun-brigs, indeed, are of some use, but between a gun-brig and a gun-boat there is almost as much difference as between a man of war and a frigate. I have lately seen half a dozen of them lying wrecked upon the rocks.—As to the possibility of the enemy being able, in a narrow sea, to pass through our blockading and protecting squadrons, with all that secrecy and dexterity, and by those hidden means that some worthy people expect, I really, from any thing that I have seen in the course of my professional experience, am not much disposed to concur in it. I know, Sir, and can assert with confidence, that our navy was never better found, that it was never better supplied, and 893 that our men were never better fed or better clothed. Have we not all the enemy's ports blockaded, from Toulon to Flushing? Are we not able to cope, any where, with any force the enemy dares to send out against us? and do we not even out-number them at every one of those ports we have blockaded? It would smack a little of egotism, I fear, were I to speak of myself; but, as a person lately having the command of 6 ships, I hope I may be allowed to state to the House how have been supported in that command. Sir, during the time that I was stationed off Fervor, I had ships passing from the fleet to me every three weeks or a month, and so much was the French commander shut up in that port deceived by these appearances, that he was persuaded, and I believe is to this very hour, that I had 12 ships under my command, and that I had two squadrons to relieve each other, one of 6 inside, and another of 6 outside."
§ Admiral Berkeley
explained. He could not possibly suppose that our naval force was inadequate to the task, of totally discomfiting the whole force of (he enemy, if they came fairly out to them: but he meant to say, that they never could possibly have collected in the force in which they now are, if we had had a sufficient number of gun-boats to run in shore, and attack them in shoal water, where they frequently escaped from our large vessels, on account of their drawing too much water to be able to pursue them in shore.
§ Mr. Wilberforce
said, that, undoubtedly, the question now before the House was extremely interesting to every member of that House, and to every individual in this country, and upon which he was anxious to say what he felt. He wished to enter upon this question as a representative of the people of England should, and as the people of England, or he mistook them, expected their representatives to do; and in beginning, he would say, that in his opinion, there would bean end to the security of this country, if subjects like the present were not treated with a becoming gravity in that House: this was what the people of England had a right to expect from that House, and did expect from that House. He did not think that the right hon. gent. (Mr. Tierney), who followed his right hon. friend (Mr. Pitt), had been happy in 'he choice of the manner in which he had treated this subject to night. He confessed, that the manner in which he took up the subject, the tone in which he spoke of it, the temper with, which he discussed it, the epithets he bestowed upon it, the character he gave to the motive with 894 which it was brought (forward, and what was more of importance than the character. of any man's motive?) the manner in which he passed over the important crisis in which this business was discussed, were all of them, in his judgment, injudiciously managed by the right hon. gent. We were in a state of difficulty and danger which required great fortitude and judgment, in which the members of that House should discuss important questions gravely and sedately. But what would the public think of them, what comments would they make upon the debates of that House, if they were to hear such topics as were brought forward by the right hon. gent. in answer to his right hon. friend? The right hon. gent, seemed to think that he had some ground of reflection upon his right, hon. friend, by saying he ought to be content with being a leader in the volunteer system of our defence by land, and that he should not intermeddle with our naval defence; what was this but admitting, although the right hon. gent, did not intend it, that his right hon. friend's mind, which could not be confined to one species of defence for his country, or with one sort of force or means for its security, but that he was capable of assisting his country by his wisdom in council, his energy of thought, and his activity in execution; first to raise and qualify the mighty mass of volunteers for the essential protection of their country in the hour of peril, should that event arise; but after accomplishing a system for that purpose, then to endeavour to render the exertions of such a force unnecessary, by maturing the still more immediate and most natural system of defence of this country, and which went still more with the hearts of the people of it,—its naval force.—It did. therefore seem to him that the very statement of the motion of his right hon. friend was of itself a sufficient illustration of its importance and of its propriety. He should have wished, as he had hoped, it had been discussed nakedly, and simply, and plainly, and put to the good sense of the House, instead of being mixed with matter which appeared to him to be foreign to it. Fie did not distinctly understand the ground on which the right hon. gent, had put his opposition to this motion. He could have understood him if he had put it upon the absolute impropriety of asking any questions upon this subject at the present moment, of the. propriety of abstaining from all inquiry, and of confiding in the first lord of the Admiralty, whose merits, Mr. Wilberforce said, he was perfectly ready to acknowledge; yet he was of opinion, that the services of that distinguished person, however great, were not to be urged as rea 895 sons against entering upon the inquiry to which these motions led. However, the right hon. gent., besides stating as an objection that which was no objection at ail, had also stated something that had the appearance of objection, by saving there was an imprudence in these motions, because disadvantages would arise from the inquiry to which they led. Now, if that right hon. gent, could prove that sufficient exertions had been made, no inquiry would be necessary, and the right hon. gent, himself had admitted, that if the motion was granted, there would then be strong reason for going into an inquiry. Now, there were two things to be considered upon the present occasion: first, as to the danger of inquiry which the right hon. gent, had hinted at, by which he presumed was meant, the danger of publicity in such a case as this. To this he asked, in his turn, whether the House had not means of avoiding that publicity which was supposed to be so dangerous? Could not the House appoint a committee of secrecy? Was the House so intirely destitute of means of making inquiry that they must let matters go on as they may, though they thought them injurious to the country, for fear of giving information to the enemy? He thought that we were in no such dilemma, he thought that means might be found, if necessary, of making this inquiry, without any of that publicity which appeared, to the right hon. gent, so dangerous. But what was the alternative? If there had not been a sufficient degree of exertion used in bringing forward the best mode of naval defence for this country, what was to be done?—must we continue to go on in a defective mode of defence, rather than risk the danger of publicity in adopting a better? He owned, that between the two, he found no difficulty in taking his choice, and he must say, that a prima facie case had been made for the inquiry, nor had he heard any solid reason given, or even a prima facie case made out against such an inquiry.—Another argument used by the right hon. gent, was, that perfect content reigned throughout the whole country with regard to the merit of our naval service. He was aware that here he trod on delicate ground, and he would abstain from saying a word upon that subject, if he did not think he should betray the duty he owed to the people of this country, if he past it over. Every man must speak of discontent at the conduct of any department of government, as it might appear to prevail generally among those with whom he had an opportunity of conversing, and his opinion must be formed from what he 896 heard from such men, and from the opinion he might entertain of the means of information and judgment of such persons. The subject of content or discontent with the-conduct, of any department under govt, must be thus considered, and thus had he been endeavouring to consider this subject, and he must say to the House, that he had not found a single professional man in the navy, who had not professed himself privately and confidently to him in the highest degree dissatisfied with the conduct of the Admiralty. Every one with whom he conversed upon that subject, had expressed himself extremely dissatisfied with the general system of conduct pursued by the board of Admiralty in this war. He had asked professional men of different habits, of different classes of life, in the profession of the navy, of different attachment to parties, and of different connexions in life; some of them of the highest rank, gained, as he wished men might always, to a given extent, gain high stations, where there was no objection to them on the score of ability, by the influence of those with whom they had the good fortune to associate; he had conversed with another class of men who always were, and always would be respected by every body, those who had advanced to high stations purely by their own personal merit; from all of whom he had received one and the same general answer. He had made it his business to consult persons not only of the highest rank, lint also of as long experience, and as intimate acquaintance with naval subjects as, perhaps, any person in the service, and he must declare, that the terms he just now used, were milder than any he heard from these officers; the terms he used, were not only milder, but they were weak in comparison to those used by such officers to signify their discontent at the system adopted by the present board of Admiralty with reference to the naval service of this country. This he would declare most solemnly, if he were giving evidence upon the subject in a court of justice. This was justified by communications that were made to him from persons to whom general credit was due from all sides of that House.—As to the argument that Parliament gave the noble lord at the head of the Admiralty no more than 100,000 seamen, there was nothing in it; for if Parliament gave the noble lord no more than 100,000 seamen, it was because he asked for no more: and here he could not help wishing that the gallant admiral on the other side of the House (Admiral Berkeley) might not be right, when he said that the 15,000 marines were included in the 76,000 seamen 897 mentioned by the right hon. gent.; but be that as it may, it was no defence to the Admiralty that 100,000 seamen was the whole number which Parliament granted, for had the Admiralty Board asked for any additional number, or even twice the number, Parliament would have granted them; but it had been a thousand times stated in that House, that the exact number of seamen voted was never to be considered as that exact definite number to be raised or to be employed, but that as many of (hem were to be employed as could be obtained, if wanted; and, therefore, although this same vote was only 100,000 seamen, yet if there had been raised and employed 130;000, 140,000, or 150,000, it wanted, there would have been no difficulty about having a vote for them; it was, therefore, no defence of the noble lord to say, that Parliament granted no more seamen than 100,000.—His right hon. friend had also slated, that as to line of battle ships, the customary mode of having them built in merchants. yards had not been resorted to, and that in this change of system a considerable number of slips in the merchants yards on the river were entirely unoccupied. This objection of his right hon. friend to the conduct of the Admiralty, required a much better answer than it had received: it required an answer very different from that observation which was made upon it by the right hon. gent., who said, it smelt of a contract: his right hon. friend's mind and manner of life were such, as to render such an observation wholly inapplicable to him, for he had never been remarkable for any connexion of this sort: this was a sort of insinuation by which he believed the right hon. gent., upon reflection, would not abide.—As to the idea that ships built by contract were ill built, he must observe, if they were so, it must be the fault of the Admiralty, for they could prevent any imposition of that sort upon the public by merely doing their duty, by taking care that these matters were duly inspected at fit seasons and occasions; and, therefore, when gentlemen said such ships were ill built, they only published the negligence of the Admiralty. But it must not be supposed that two ships of the line happening to be ill built, must be taken as proof that all ships built by contractors were bad; it must be recollected, that in the course of 7 years peace, not less than 20 ships of the line had been built in the merchants' yards before the late war, and now, when there was most occasion for promptness and expedition, the old system was departed from, and another adopted, by which 898 that expedition was lost. All those advantages were given up without any adequate exertions in the King's dock-yards; out what was still worse than all the rest was, that which was stated by the gallant Admiral on the other side of the House (Admiral Berkeley) which was, that the present number of artificers in the King's dock-yards was 800 short of its usual and necessary complement; for he understood the hon. admiral to have said, that the King's dock-yards were short I of their complement of shipwrights by 800; and this was the period, and these were the circumstances when the Board of Admiralty thought fit to abandon the system of building ships of war in the docks of the merchants He declared from the bottom of his heart, there was not a man existing for whom he felt more respect than he did for the noble lord at the head of the Admiralty. No man's services had been more signal, nor any whose talents appeared to him to be superior in his profession: but all this was no reason why the documents now moved for, should not be laid on the table of that House, and if it was seen that my Lord St. Vincent had conducted himself meritoriously in his present as in his former character, the House would take much pleasure in doing justice to his character; but he must protest against the doctrine laid down by the right hon. gent., that we were to wait until some disaster happened before we instituted any inquiry: we could not afford such a speculation; the business of that House was to prevent, not to wait for disaster, for if they waited for it, the loss might become irreparable; the only way he knew to prevent disaster, was to inquire into those circumstances which appeared likely to lead to it, in order to apply a remedy for the impending evil. The course recommended by the right hon. gent, was too full of hazard; the stake was too large to play a game so desperate. Upon the whole of this matter, he felt himself bound to declare, that he was fully convinced of the propriety of all the motions which had been stated by his right hon. friend.
§ Mr. Sheridan.
—It was my intention, Sir, to wait until I should hear the opinions of professional men on this subject; but the observations which have been made by the hon. member who has just sat down, urge me to obtrude myself to your notice thus prematurely, and contrary to my original intention. The hon. gent, has, in my mind, used observations the most unwarrantable on parliamentary grounds I have ever heard in. this House. He has stated, that he has never had conversation with any naval officer, whose 899 opinion has not been decidedly in contradiction to the system upon which the naval affairs of the country have been for some time back conducted; hat is to say, since the gallant admiral, who now presides at the head of the Admiralty Board, was appointed to that high station; and this information so obtained, he offers to the Mouse as a justification for the censure which the advocates for the motion before the House would attach to the character of the noble lord at the head of the Admiralty. The hon. gent, ventures to tell the House, that upon grounds such as these, there is a sufficient reason for the inquiry, and for granting the papers required; but from whom has the hon. gent. obtained the intelligence, and heard the sentiments to which he. thinks the House ought to attach so much, importance?—from officers, no doubt, who are ashore and unemployed, from those who have not the best opportunity of judging, and whose judgment I for many reasons is not entitled to the first attention; bat not from such officers as those whom the House has heard this night, not from such as the gallant admiral who preceded the hon. gent to whom am now alluding, and who has attracted my notice by statements which t am inclined to think he has collected from persons such as I have described, from those whose accounts of the condition of the navy naturally receive a colouring from their own situation. Tints the hon. gent, would persuade us to found our verdict, on an occasion so important as that now before us, upon evidence drawn from such sources, upon second-hand assertions, in a word upon mere hearsay. The hon. gent, is no doubt a conscientious man, he certainly so considers and describes himself, and we cannot give him any credit at all if we do not believe him to be so, and I would appeal to his conscientiousness whether he does think that any court of justice, and this House is now called upon to act in that capacity, would pronounce sentence in any case upon evidence of the nature of that upon which he seems to rely? I say that there is no court that would attend to, much less believe such assertions. If the hon. gent, has any charge to urge against the noble lord against whom the motion before the House appears to be pointed, I say, let the evidence be brought forward; but don't let accusations be insinuated or sent abroad, unsupported by any witnesses whatever, unjustified by any fact, and excused only by a loose Statement, that such and such officers, whom no one ventures to name, are much in the habit of speaking ill of the conduct of the Admiralty, and of the character of its prin- 900 cipal director. The hon. gent., however, has told us, that he entertains a very sincere respect for this noble lord; and, really, here I must remark, that I never heard of any public character for whom men are more forward to profess respect, nor one that is so much respected, and yet so much aspersed. The grounds of the respect are, however, notorious, while those of the aspersion are not pretended to rest upon more than hearsay evidence, which is surely not sufficient to induce this House to acquiesce in a motion that has no other object in view, than to convey an imputation upon one. of the most gallant and meritorious characters this country has ever produced. For such a purpose I will never give my vote. I will not consent to the grant of a single slip of paper, however plausible the pretence for demanding it, that may lead to an inquiry for which there exists no necessity whatever; to enter into which would imply a suspicion for which there is not the shadow of excuse, and import an accusation for which there is not the slightest ground. I would ask the right hon. mover of this proposition, what are the reasons, for he certainly has not stated any, which have provoked him to alter his sentiments with respect to the noble lord who was the subject of such warm panegyric, upon the first accession of the present ministers to office; and who, I would be curious to know, does the right hon. gent, think more adequate to the high station he fills; whom would he recommend to succeed him? If the right hon. gent, did pronounce the splendid panegyric to which I have alluded upon this noble lord, upon light grounds, he was certainly very censurable, for he was, as it were, giving a false character, and that of a I great public servant; but it was well known that those grounds were not light, they rested upon the highest public services, and were supported by the warm and unanimous applauses of the country. Why then have the right hon. gent., or the hon. gent, who spoke last, changed their opinions? Why have they altered their sentiments of the noble lord? Has any thing occurred since to induce or justify the change? I challenge them to take the most minute retrospect of the conduct of that noble lord since his appointment to the presidency of the Admiralty. I call upon them to retrace all his steps, and to point put one reason why he has forfeited their confidence. I mean such a reason as this House would recognise as sufficient to justify the proposed inquiry. What facts have they in their power to produce? I am satisfied they have none, and therefore I will resist the proposition. 5 and this is the first instance 901 in which it has happened that I have felt it my duly to oppose a motion for inquiry. Indeed, on every such motion heretofore, that I recollect, particularly during the administration of the right hon. gent, by whom the present motion is submitted to the House, ample grounds were laid to demand inquiry; but in this instance I am of opinion that the demand is unsupported, not merely by common sense, but common decency. I do not intend to attribute improper motives to the right hon. mover; but I beg to ask him, what good can he accomplish by the production of papers respecting the state of our navy in a former war? What are his views? Does he mean to institute a comparison between Lord St. Vincent and Lord Spencer? To ascertain which of the two is better qualified to manage our naval concerns? I cannot see the purpose of such a contrast. It cannot tend to any good object. Indeed I am confident, that if a stranger were to observe the whole of this proceeding, he would not hesitate to pronounce that it could be only actuated by factious and party motives. This I am the more strongly inclined to believe from the statements of the gallant officer (Sir K. Pellew), which was quite a satisfactory reply to all the arguments that have been advanced this evening, and a full refutation of the calumnies that have been for some time back propagated relative to the condition of our navy. In that speech, which applied as forcibly to the heart as the understanding, the hon. baronet manifested not only that sincerity and frankness which is the general characteristic of that profession of which be forms so bright an ornament, and which never fails to interest any man capable of feeling, hut also a considerable share of acuteness and judgment; he made some very pertinent remarks upon the nature of those gun-boats which seem to be such favourites of the right hon. gent, who brought forward this motion, but of which the hon. bart. does not appear at all to approve; and, from my own observation, I certainly am disposed to agree with that hon. baronet, who is much more competent to I judge upon the subject than the right hen, gent, or any other statesman. I am not surprised that these gun-boats should be treated with so much contempt by naval men. I have happened to see something of them myself, by accident, in the course of the last war on the south coast, and they really appeared to me to be quite unfit to render any material service in the way of attack or defence; indeed some of them were incapable of firing a shot. It is known that out of the 120 gun- 902 boats which the right hon. gent, had in com mission at the close of the last war, there were scarcely any retained as at all useful, and that 62 of them) which were purchased from contractors, were much the worst. Enough has been said by the hon. bart. of the kind of vessels which contractors gene rally built; and, without referring to the ships of the line, of which the hon. bart. has taken notice, in proof of the badness of materials and the inferiority of their workmanship, I shall only remark on these gun-boats. I do not, indeed, like to dwell on the misconduct of inferior officers in any department, I do not wish to hear of such persons in this House; we should look al ways to the heads of those departments as the persons answerable to us. The navy board may be suspected of having played into the hands of the contractors during the last war; and to that, perhaps, was owing the great inferiority of the right hon. gent.'s gun-boats—an inferiority which was certainly very glaring, for out of the 120, 87 were sold, after advertisement, for almost nothing; some which could not be disposed of were retained, and six were sent to Jersey, which were found so utterly useless, that Captain D'Auvergne knew not what to do with them. He, however, sent five of them home some time after, and was obliged to send some of his best cruisers to tow them safely, Yet this is the kind of force which the right hon. gent, would recommend in preference to any other to defend our coast!. It reminds me of an anecdote of the right hon. gent.'s administration, when 3 men of war were sent to this country from Portugal, which was our ally; those ships were found to be so incapable of giving us any assistance, but, on the contrary, were so little sea-worthy, that it was determined to send them home, and it became absolutely necessary to dispatch one of our frigates with them as a convoy. Such shipping would of course be rather an incumbrance to us; and the gun boats, to which the right hon. gent, is so partial, would, from all that I have heard abroad, which is corroborated by the hon. bart. this night, be rather injurious on the score of expense, and the number of men they would necessarily require, than likely to be serviceable.—An hon. admiral on the lower bench (Admiral Berkeley) has, in the course of a very extraordinary speech, stated, that he had delivered in a plan to the Admiralty, which, if acted upon, must effectually secure our own coast, and completely destroy the flotilla of the enemy. The gallant admiral has detailed to the House some parts of 903 a plan which he tells ns is the production of his own brain, am! doubtless it is, from the specimen he has given us, a tolerably strong proof of his gallantry to own it. Without pretending to much nautical knowledge, one might, L think, question the correctness of the hon. admiral's ideas upon this project, for the practicability of making use of gunboats to annoy the flotillas on the French coast v, as denied by every intelligent naval officer; but, whatever is their use in the shoals along that coast, they surely are incapable of any degree of Utility, comparable to that which may be derived from large shipping upon our own coast. Wherever the latter can be employed, the former mast be comparatively useless. It is notorious that, all along from Pevensey to Dungeness, a man of war can anchor close in shop, sue is the depth of water. This, therefore, is the description of force upon which I would place my confidence, cither for attack or defence. As to the former, who can entertain a doubt that, if the French gun-boats should venture out, and the slightest breeze should arise, that Capt. Markham, whom I mention not as a member of Parliament, for that I know would be irregular, but as a naval officer, that Sir Ed. Peilew, Sir V. Trowbridge, or in fact, any officer known in our naval records, would not, with a single 74 shoot through and sink a crowd of that contemptible craft.—With respect to the number of seamen and marines now employed, it has been staled by the right hon. gent, on the Treasury Bench, that there were 98.000, which is only 2000 short of the. whole amount voted; but the hon. gent. who spoke last is still dissatisfied. Fie says, that there ought to be more men. He does not seem to recollect, that the vote of the House limitted the Admiralty; and that it was at the time that vote was made the hon. gents objections would be most timely and proper. That was the period to consider the amount of the force necessary to maintain the war. The Admiralty had thought 100,000 men sufficient, and it appeared that they were right, notwithstanding the hon. gents disapprobation. They had, and it was not the least of their merit, collected this vast force in the space of 12 months, notwithstanding the number of our other descriptions of force, and without interrupting the active employment of our population, in the various avocations of commerce, manufactures and agriculture. To the observations of the right hon. gent., on the propriety of building ships in merchants' dock yards, I trust enough has been said by the hon. bart. (Sir Ed. Pellew), at whose presence this night the House has reason to 904 rejoice, to convince the right hon. gent, of his error, and also to shew him that his partiality to gun-boats is not quite so judicious as he imagined After what the hon. bart. has urged on this point, I should hope the right hon. gent, will no longer attempt to maintain his argument, unless he be influenced by such magnanimity, that he would not wish to oppose the French gun-boats by any but their own matches. I have heard a right hon. gent, on the lower bench (Mr. Windham) often deplore that "the age of chivalry was gone;" but surely that complaint can no longer be repeated, if the right hon. mover of the proposition before the House shall continue to manifest a wish rather to oppose gun-boats to those of the French, than to see a crowd of them run down by an English 74. This would be something like the feeling which I am sure would influence the right hon. gent, on the lower bench, if, in passing through the street, he should happen to see two men engaged of unequal size and strength. The right hon. gent, would immediately interest himself for the weaker party, and call into action that science for which he is so distinguished, to release, and perhaps to avenge him..—To be serious: it is absurd to say, I that we should at once give up that formidable description of naval force, in which we have always found our strength and our glory, and take up another which is condemned, not merely by the experience to which I have already referred, but by the judgment of the most respectable naval officers. That this change too should be chosen, as the right hon. gent, recommended, merely in order to reduce us to a level with the French boats, for no other argument to support the choice has been advanced, really surprises me. It is something like this, that if we had a stone wall to defend us against the shot of an enemy, it should be recommended to us to throw down the wait and fling stones at our assailants. An anecdote has been very generally mentioned with respect to the right hon. gent who has commenced this debate: It is said that he proposed this sentiment—"The Volunteers, and a speedy meeting with the enemy on our own shores." This I toast, I understand, was proposed among a number of volunteer officers above 6 months ago, at a time when he volunteers, upon whom we are so much to rely for our security, could not be much acquainted with discipline, if, according to the right hon. gent.'s assertion, they are even now very defective in that respect. I am as ready as any man to pay a just compliment to the right hon. gent.'s active endeavours to pro- 905 mote the improvement of the volunteers. I acknowledge that his solicitude for their advancement and glory is considerable, and probably he wishes to remove any impediment in their way. His desire is, perhaps, that they should have a full opportunity of distinguishing themselves pursuant to the toast I have quoted. If such be his view, he certainly could not accomplish it by better means than by contriving to have the defence of our country committed to his favourite gun-boats, instead of men of war. Independently of the other objections which I have offered to those gun-boats, there is one which occurs to me of too much strength to be omitted, if they were of the same kind as those of the last war, any description of men would be good enough, or too good, for them; and if good men were required for them, they could not be had without deducting from the number necessary for our important shipping. Why, then, join with the corrupt band of detected speculators in censuring the Admiralty for not paying all the attentions which the right hon. gent, desired to these gun boats? A little consideration ought to be sufficient to prevent any man from complaining of that respectable Board—that Board which is respectable in the estimation of all men but mistaken partisans or fraudulent contractors—that Board which has had such numerous difficulties to encounter, all incurred by a solicitude to expose and punish fraud, to recover and to spare the public money. Has the right hon. gent, read the five reports from the commissioners appointed to inquire into the abuses committed in the several branches of the naval department? It so has he not there seen the foul corruption, the abominable artifice, with which the Admiralty has had to struggle? Has the right hon. gent, observed the frauds exposed in the second report—the block and coopers contracts, where 2000l. have been paid for work proved not to be worth 200l.? Has lie read the description of the plunder practised on seamen by the prize-agents: and if so, can lie, can any man who loves the friends of his country and virtue, refuse his gratitude and admiration to the first lord of the Admiralty who originated this inquiry? an inquiry which has unto ed against him a host of enemies. They are enemies, however, which that noble lord must despise. It was but the prejudice of defeated vice against triumphant virtue It could not disturb the noble lord's mind. While he was only assailed by those worms who had fed and fattened upon the corruption of the navy—while he had only to reckon, as his foes those who had proved themselves hostile to 906 honour and justice, who had enriched themselves on the spoils of their country—while such only were his enemies, the noble lord would proceed in his course of glory as he did in the victory on the memorable 14th of February, 1797, disdaining and declining to retaliate their attack; but when the right hon. author of the motion before the House becomes his assailant, the noble lord must feel surprised. Even that right hon. gent. however, cannot injure him. His fame stands too high, his character is too firmly established, to be hurt by the assertions of any member, and I have no doubt that the noble lord will be ever found entitled to the applause and protection of his country.—With regard to the right hon. gent.s recommendation, that shipping should be built in the I merchants dock yards, I shall only refer him to the ships mentioned by the hon. bart. and I also to the cases described in the reports of the commissioners of naval inquiry, particularly to the cases where it appeared that the persons who received payment for ships built in merchants yards were clerks in the King's dock-yards, is it possible, to suppose that collusions did not exist in such cases as these? The right hon. gent, has said, that it is impossible, during war, to build any number of ships in the King's dock-yards, and that therefore a necessity arises of resorting to the merchants yards. What a melancholy expression—that in those yards, where there are 3,200 men employed, nothing more than the mere repair of ships could be done If so, then our surprise must be diminished, that a French fleet should have been permitted, in the course of the last war, to find its way to Egypt, and another French fleet to sail to Ireland, where nothing but the elements offered to prevent a formidable French army from landing. If, however, the King's dock-yards are really so little useful, or rather so useless, they ought to be abolished altogether. A new system ought to be adopted. If they could only finish in these I yards 24 sail of the line, 15 frigates, and some few sloops in the course of 20 years, although it is known that 45 shipwrights can build a 74 in one year, that there are 3,200 shipwrights in those yards, and that the expense, &c could not be less in 20 years than 4,100.000l. a sum equal to the building of the whole navy of England, it follows, of course, that it is bad policy to continue the maintenance of these dock-yards. It is besides well known that the internal system of these yards is bad. There is no difference in the wages allowed to the workmen; the unskilful can earn as much as those of a different description. Thus emulation is-prevent- 907 ed, and many advantages, of course, lost to the employers. The right hon. gent, may answer this, and say, that, although so many abuses have been detected by the commissioners of naval inquiry, that still the system of the dock-yards is good: but I assert, and am prepared to maintain the assertion, that abuses pervade every department of the system. Does the right hon. gent, know of the frauds which the commissioners have found to have been committed in every article with which these yards are furnished, particularly blocks? From these abuses arise the necessity of advertising for contractors to build shipping; and as to correct them, to produce integrity and arrangement in all the departments of the navy, is and has been the great endeavour of the high character upon whom it appears to be object of the motion before the House to fix an imputation, I shall vote against it with as much satisfaction as ever I gave a vote since I had the honour of a seat in this House, fully convinced that such a motion is only calculated to gratify the corrupt, to frown upon reform, and to assail the reputation of a gallant officer, whose claims to the gratitude of the country can only be equalled by the esteem and attachment he enjoys among all that are great and good.
§ Mr. Fox.
—Sir; I feel myself placed in a situation somewhat extraordinary on this occasion. With a great part of what has been said on the merits of the first lord of the Admiralty, I am strongly disposed to concur, but at the same time, I cannot see how these arguments tended to the conclusion at which they arrived. My hon. friend near me (Mr. Sheridan) has made, as he always does, a speech of the utmost brilliancy and eloquence, in which, however, lie seems to me to have almost entirely omitted the reasons on which he was to negative the motion, and he contented himself with announcing the vote he was prepared to give. Though ready to give my ready assent to the distinguished worth and pre-eminent services of Lord St. Vincent, I feel that the best way I can testify my respect for such a character, is to give my vote for the motion. I feel that a slur thrown on the reputation of Earl Vincent, would be a loss to the country, and to remove every suspicion of that kind, I say, let there be ample means of inquiry afforded, so that the triumph of Lord St. Vincent may be the more complete, satisfactory and glorious. It appears to me that the defenders of Lord St. Vincent had but two courses which they could with propriety purpose, either to say that no case whatever had been made out, and then refuse all the pa- 908 pers asked, or to produce all the papers which could reasonably be asked for, and upon the consideration of those to call for the censure or the acquital of the House. But the. line of conduct which ministers have thought fit to take, does neither the one or the other. By granting some papers and refusing others, they admit enough to countenance the suspicion of something wrong in the naval administration, and do not go far enough to let that suspicion be wiped away. But the course which ministers have thought fit to adopt it is not difficult to explain. They wish to defend Lord St. Vincent as they would have defended themselves; they wish to put him on a level with them, to obtain the precedent of his great name to resist inquiry, so that every other inquiry may be frustrated; they wish to put him on a level with Lord Hardwicke, so that the refusal of inquiry in the instance of one that can bear it, may be an argument for setting inquiry aside when it might tend to produce discoveries they would suppress. The right hon. gent. who spoke first (Mr. Tierney) against the motion, agrees that the papers alluded to in two of the motions shall be granted; but he is of opinion that the third cannot be granted. If, however, to ask for any papers at all be to cast some slur on the first lord of the Admiralty, why are any papers granted at all? Or is it because those which are refused might lead to inquiry, that they are with-held? If this be the object of the defenders of Lord St. Vincent, I am confident that he must disclaim such a mode of proceeding. I am confident that he would countenance tip shuffling or evasion to suppress inquiry; and that he would not be content if he thought that it could be suspected he was adverse to have his administration canvassed. Thus ministers, knowing that the conduct of the first lord of the Admiralty is in every respect a contrast to their own, wish to make common cause with him, in offering a mode of defence to which, on a future occasion, they themselves may resort. Towards Lord St. Vincent I feel much personal friendship, and this renders; me anxious that his reputation should stand high; but public motives give me a still greater interest in his fame and honour. Of his glorious achievement on the I4th of February no man can think higher than I do; but his conflict with the abuses and corruptions of his department appears to me, though less brilliant, not less arduous and meritorious. On the 14th of February he engaged and vanquished the enemy; but he has waged a war no less difficult, with jobs, and contracts, and frauds. He Jus broken their em- 909 battled line, no less arduous than to penetrate that of the enemy. My admiration of him is increased to find him possess, in so high a degree, that which is more rare than gallantry in the field: civil courage and decision as well as personal courage. I feel that his virtues and public deserts in this contest with corruption have natuarally led to that obliquy by which lie has been pursued. The attempt to put to rout the hosts of corruption have created him enemies. Such may have been the persons from whom an hon. gent, opposite (Mr.Wilberforce) obtained the information he mentioned; but let the miserable witnesses be brought forward, that their testimony may be examined and disproved. This calls to my mind an anecdote of a risible nature. It happened that when Mr. Justice Willes, a man who to many eminent qualities added a considerable portion of humour, was one day employed in trying a cause, I believe of murder, and one of the witnesses deposed that a ghost had said so and so;—"O, very well, (said the judge), I have no objection to the evidence of a ghost; let him be brought in and sworn!" So, provided the witnesses alluded to by the hon. gent, can be brought forward, I have no objection to receive their evidence at the bar of the House, that we may afterwards decide upon it.—During the whole course of the debate,, the only person who has made any direct charge against the conduct of the Admiralty in general, is my hen. and gallant relation, (Admiral Berkeley), who spoke lately. As to the right hon. gent, who made the motions, I confess, that lie seems to me to have made out little or no case. With respect to the number of gun-boats in employment now and at former periods, the comparison affords no conclusion, unless it be shewn likewise that the exigency of the case was such, as to demand greater exertions and a greater proportion of this species of force. Unless too it can be shewn, that of gun-brigs a greater number ought to be employed, the late period at which the Admiralty made the contracts for such vessels proves nothing. The right hon. gen. likewise proposes to address the Crown, recommending greater exertions in this way; but any measures for the improvement of our defence must be left to those who are in official situations. But in viewing our state of defence, the great mind of the right hon. gent, must see that it must be judged of upon a general system, and not upon any particular point. It is impossible, but, that in viewing each point separately, there must appear to be some deficiency. It is evident, however, that some inferior parts must be 910 overlooked, in order that the perfection of the whole may be obtained; and I am inclined to think, that if there be any part of our defence which it was more safe to sacrifice than another, from its being of inferior moment, it is that of which the right, hon. gent, has insisted. Had the motion been for papers generally, I might have been a little puzzled to know how I should vote, though I believe I still should have voted for inquiry; but as the matter stands now I cannot hesitate. If the parpers are refused, it must infer some slur upon the first lord of the Admiralty; if some of these documents are with held, it may be said by the right hon. gent., that he was prevented from carrying the question he meant to move, because inquiry was suppressed, and he was denied the papers by which his case was to be proved. But, it is said, that if all the papers were granted, a suspicion would lie against the first lord of the Admiralty. But how long could such a suspicion continue? No longer, surely, than till the inquiry took place. But if any suspicion arises from the motion, or from the papers produced, it is impossible to say how long suspicion may remain, since no inquiry is allowed by which it can be removed. Ministers profess themselves friends of Lord St. Vincent in the present instance; bet how have they shewn themselves solicitous about the fame and the accommodation of that noble lord on other occasions? Do we not know, that, for at least eighteen months, a difference of the most serious kind, and to the impediment of public business, existed between the first lord and the secretary of the Admiralty? yet, that secretary preserved his place for a year and a half, under those very ministers who lately contended, that on account of a coolness between the lord lieut. of Ireland and the commander in chief there, it was impossible that the latter could, consistently with the public safety, remain in his place a week. I cannot help thinking, therefore, that the defence now set up by ministers, as rather intended to be a convenient protection to themselves for the future, than as any thing which Lord St. Vincent's case would require. If Lord St. Vincent's conduct, which would stand inquiry, is to be opposed to any inquiry, then will others avail themselves of the example, to contend that they too, though they declined investigation, were equally conscious of rectitude and merit. And is this the way to do honour to Lord St. Vincent's character and superiority? Indeed, that ministers look more to the benefit of the example than to the credit of the first lord of the Admiralty, appears to me from 911 the manner in which the motion had been opposed. It seems as if it were said, we will grant such papers as will not inculpate the first lord of the Admiralty, and do not lead to inquiry. Why, then, are others refused? Will it not be said, that they would have inculpated the Admiralty and led to inquiry? and this is the way in which Lord St. Vincent's reputation is to be defended by his colleagues. The same right hon. gent. (Mr. Tierney), to whose, defence of the Admiralty I have just alluded, says too, that there is no complaint against the Admiralty out of doors; and also, that the public are equally content with the whole conduct of the present ministers. As to the general character of ministers with the public I shall give no testimony; but if the conduct of ministers were to be the object of discussion, and decided by argument, it would not be difficult to shew what the public ought to think of them. This suffer me to illustrate by good humoured comparison, which on general principles often afford (he best illustration. In one of Moliere's plays, a grave old gentleman marries a young wife, or does something or other not very suitable to his character. Every body, however, is mightily content with what he had done, except that when it is mentioned every one burst out a laughing. In the same manner, though it happens that every body is so well content with the present ministers, yet when their merits are spoken of it generally produces a laugh, or at least a smile, on every countenance. Different indeed is Lord St. Vincent in this respect from ail his colleagues; and knowing that he is in every respect a perfect contrast to them in merit and reputation, they wish to bring him down to their level, or at least to shelter themselves under his great authority. But in order to strengthen the public confidence in Lord St. Vincent, let the administration of the Admiralty be examined, and the services of that noble lord will appear even more important than they have yet been estimated, in voting for this motion on these grounds, I am conscious that I do that which private friendship and public duty equally prescribe.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that he did not rise to add much to the strong and convincing arguments which had been so able urged in defence of the measures of the Admiralty, but to make a few observations on what had fallen from the hon. gent, who had just sat down. Although the hon. gent, had said, that all or none of the papers moved for ought to be granted, the House, he trusted, would see the distinction, and they would he disposed rather to acknowledge 912 the fairness of administration that were ready to lay before the House every information that could be granted consistently with the public safety. From every thing which he knew, from every thing which had been urged, he was satisfied that no ground had been laid for any inquiry; that no case had been made out which at all rendered it necessary that Lord St. Vincent should be put upon his defence. If, however, there can be any doubt in the minds of the public as to the efficiency of our naval defence, the papers that are to be produced will afford the fullest satisfaction. It is not difficult, therefore, to perceive the reason why some part of the papers are refused, while others are granted. As to the number of gun-vessels contracted for, he conceived that it was a good reason for refusing those papers, as, if granted, it would be necessary to go into an inquiry upon other points connected with it, from which might result much inconvenience and detriment to the public service. The same reason occurred for refusing those papers respecting the number of ships to be built in 1793 and subsequent periods, as it must branch into the same kind of details, and call for the same kind of communication. In every point, therefore, in which papers are refused, it is where it would be inconvenient for the public service to grant it, and it is granted in every case where this restraint did not exist. The hon. gent. (Mr. Fox) called himself the friend of Lord St. Vincent, and solicitous for his fame; but the hon. gent, had on former occasions professed himself the real friend of great men, and on these occasions he had always acted that part, which the friends of those men did not support. When it was proposed to vote thanks to Lord Cornwallis, the hon. gent, opposed that vote, upon the ground that it was better for the reputation of that noble lord that the vote of thanks should not pass. In the same manner, professing to be the friend of Lord St. Vincent, he scrupled not to expose that, noble lord to the suspicion of mal-administration by supporting a motion for inquiry, for which he admitted that no ground had been laid. I confess, however, (said Mr. A.) I intend to shew my respect and friendship for Lord St. Vincent by a conduct the reverse of that of the hon. gent. With respect to the system of degrading our navy to the same level with the miserable species of naval force to which the enemy's want of means compelled them to resort, he agreed entirely with the hon. baronet, who spoke so ably. It surely would be strange indeed, if with giants at our disposal we should employ pigmies; but whenever 913 an inferior species of naval force was necessary, it would not be wanting. It had been already stated (by Sir E. Pollew), that on She coast of France such was the nature of the shore that no species of craft could prevent the enemy's boats creeping along. In addition to the powerful testimony of that officer, he could produce that of another naval officer (Captain Day) who had been employed by the Admiralty to examine arid report his opinion as to the possibility of giving any effectual check to the communication of the enemy's gun-boats along their own shores. That officer, in a letter to the Admiralty, states, that oh account of the shallowness of the French coast, and the number of batteries on shore, It was impossible for us to send any species of vessels close enough to make any material impression on the enemy; and as the enemy had horse artillery continually moving along the shore, it was impossible even to send in boats for the purpose of annoying the squadrons of the enemy's flotillas. Such was the case as to annoying the enemy on their own shores; but in every situation where our Smaller vessels could be of use to the protection of our own coasts, at every fit station and exposed point from the North Foreland to Portsmouth, there was scarce a point for the defence of which ample provision had not been made. It had been said that there was a larger number of gun-boats last war; but of the value of such vessels, he had a letter in his hand from au officer of merit, (Lieut. Tokeley), which would give the House some idea. That officer states in the letter, that he was once commander of one of the Dutch vessels which had been fitted out as a gun-boat, and it was almost impossible to keep her from sinking. Twenty fine schooners had been fitted out with one 24 pounder, which did not answer, and they were armed with carronades. These Vessels had commonly lain idle at Plymouth, and were good for nothing but a parade on a fine day, so that if they should have ventured so far out as the Edystone Lighthouse, they never would have returned to port had a topgallant breeze arose. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, that of the gun-brigs, a much better kind of vessel, orders had been given for building 23 of them but the first lord of the Admiralty, deeming it advisable to complete other vessels that were in hand, had ordered the sloops of war to be previously launched; and if more gun-brigs were not in service, it certainly was because the first lord of the Admiralty was of opinion that another and superior kind of force was preferable. It had been, said, 914 that the number of ship-wrights in the yards was 800 deficient. The fact, however, was, that more men were now in the yards than during the first year of the last war, and only 53 less than during the highest year of last war. It was to be considered, too, that as nearly 400 persons had been discharged who received 6s. a day for doing nothing. the number of efficient men now was greater than it had ever been.—:But it was unnecessary for him to go further into detail which had been so much better handled. He agreed with the right hon. gent, opposite, that it was because Lord St. Vincent had shewn himself so inexorable a foe to abuses; because he had shewn himself determined to lay the axe to the root of the tree; that he had incurred so much obloquy. There were other great men engaged in the same arduous career, who had their share of that obloquy; but he was convinced that to this chiefly were complaints owing; and sometimes, perhaps, those men, from their habits of life not calculated to give grace to refusal and to soften denial, might have excited the animosity of those whom it was impossible to gratify. The public indeed, had a deep interest in the character of such men, and of the first lord of the Admiralty. No man was better qualified to serve the country than that noble lord.—Of him might be said, what had been said of Lord Chatham, that he had the flame of an Englishman respectable in every quarter of the globe "clarum et venerabile nomen," &c. The House and the country will judge who best consult the fame of Lord St. Vincent in the present occasion, and if no ground of inquiry be laid, surely nothing could be more to be deprecated, than at so critical a moment throwing suspicion on so important a branch of the public defence, and wasting the time and attention of the House upon unnecessary inquiries.
§ Mr. G. Ponsonby
was sorry to see an imputation brought against his hon. friend below, that was of all others, he thought, the least likely to be brought. He would ask the right hon. gent, opposite, if he had preserved his friendship inviolate to such a degree as his hon. friend (Mr. Fox), or if he in every instance had carried his friendship to the same extent? Had his friend by him tapped the right hon. gent, on the shoulder, and bid him look behind, that right hon. gent, would have seen a quondam friend, for whom, perhaps, he had not preserved all the attachments nor all the sympathies of friendship. Why should any wish exist to conceal the naval situation of the country? The more our state is known, the more respect will our naval force command. He could perceive 915 no ground of delicacy on this question, when our naval superiority was so confessedly admitted even by our enemies. The: more, in fact, our naval force is known, the more we must be dreaded. Nor could such an investigation as that proposed by the motion, give greater information to the enemy than what they already possessed, which was, he conceived, Oil information of our superiority. He would ask the House what had been the conduct of the Admiralty in regard to the most vulnerable part of the empire. Was it not he most judicious in every respect? Every person would admit Ireland to be that part of the empire which he had described, and the conduct of the Admiralty, in regard to Ireland, was the most satisfactory, and appeared, he could say from good authority, to those that were most interested in that part of the empire, to be best calculated for protection and security. What description of vessels did Ireland most require, or by what description of vessels had Ireland been so much satisfied? It was by large vessels that the shores of Ireland had been protected, and not by small craft, which seemed to be the object of those gentlemen to recommend; and Ireland, at the same time, it would be admitted, was the weakest part of the empire, and therefore the best criterion by which we ought to judge from experience of the best means of our defence. The hon. gent, was by no means anxious to go into comparisons, but at the same time no comparisons, he was certain, could determine in any way disadvantageous to the noble lord now at the head of the Admiralty. A force, he remembered, had hovered over the coast of Ireland for upwards of 17 days, under a former administration, with general Hoche at its head, which had not the weather prevented it from standing, might have been attended with more serious consequences, and which, during those "days, was unmolested, or rasher undiscovered by any British fleet. Were comparisons to be made, and were he permitted to follow them up minutely, he believed they would terminate greatly in favour of the present Board of Admiralty in every respect: and feeling this with his hon. friend below (Mr. Fox), he could see no rational objection to the inquiry proposed. Should such an inquiry produce any effect to the enemy, it must be that only of deterring him from his fatal and ill-founded enterprizes, it must be that only, from the present state of our navy, of convincing the enemy that successful invasion was impossible, and that the attempt most be attended with discomfiture to themselves, If any ob- 916 jection was entertained to the conduct of the noble lord at the head of the Admiralty, it must be on account of that aversion he has discovered to every species of corruption, and his laudable determination to check and oppose it in every shape. On this account, therefore, he was glad to see that noble lord so warmly supported by the gentleman opposite, and professedly upon the same principle, because from this circumstance it was natural to conclude, that there was no corruption existing in any of the other departments of administration, or the noble lord could not have been the only one singled out as an object of persecution in this respect. He must again repeat, that in regard to policy, there could be no objection. The more the enemy shall know, the more he will fear, and lord St. Vincent will have an opportunity of vindicating more generally his conduct. For these reasons, the hon. gent, said, he would vote for the motion, not for an address to his Majesty to remove the present lord of the Adrmiralty, but for an inquiry by which he would be enabled to justify his conduct.
§ Mr. Sturges Bourne
was surprised that the papers now moved for should be refused, when an inquiry into the conduct of the Board of Admiralty, on a former occasion, had been so loudly challenged. Now, however, 3 out of the 5 heads of information moved for were refused expressly, because they led to an inquiry into the conduct of that Board. It was impossible that any enemy of the noble lord who presided over the Admiralty could contrive to as-parse his character more than such conduct did. The Board was called on to assign a reason why they had not done as much for the defence of the country as other Boards had done in former times, and the necessary means of this inquiry were refused. One right hon. gent. (Mr. Tierney) had imputed to his right hon. friend the offence of damping the ardour of the country. He left it to the House to say, whether such was the tendency of his right hon. friend's conduct; and whether, on the contrary, he had not done every thing in his power to produce a contrary effect, and to put the country in a state of complete defence? It was also ininuated by another hon. gent. (Mr.Sheridan) that the motion had for its object to encourage and protect a set of correct contractors and jobbers. He appealed t the House, whether it was possible to attribute any motives of that kind to the mover? He was at a loss to conceive how the Chancellor of the Exchequer could assert, that the number of the 917 dock-yard men, was only 58 deficient, as, if his information on that subject were correct, the deficiency was near IICC. He did not see any objection to giving the House accurate information the subject, which might at some future period be moved for. It was certain that at the peace the Admiralty had reduced the number 400 below the usual peace establishment. This, he thought, should not have been done till our navy, worn by the length of service, was put in a complete state of repair: and particularly when, as ministers must have known, another war was impending.—Much had been said of the impolicy of building ships in private yards; he should be glad, however, to hear what new ships were now laid down in the dock-yards, or what old ones were likely to be finished. A great many ships had been built in these private yards, and now a ship or two, the Ajax and Achilles, were; said to be defective, and that circumstance was gravely assigned as a reason for desisting in a long established and uniform practice.—The motive of the present-motion he conceived to be to show that, our naval force was less than it ought to be. It did not confine itself to gun-boats, as it seemed to be understood, but applied equally to every degree of force, largo as well as small. The question seemed to be argued, as if his right hon. friend meant to call on the Board of Admiralty to dismantle the large ships, and only equip gun-boats his was; by it means his intention. Preserving ah the line of battle ships and frigates, it was to be seen whether an adequate number of small craft was provided for our defence; or, at least, as many as could have been produced. He admitted the great professional character of Lord St. Vincent, to which he was as inclined as any one to do justice, and also to his exertions in correcting the frauds and corruptions incident to the naval expenditures; but of his civil conduct he might possibly entertain a very different opinion. The object of the present motion related only to acts of omission. The time might come when a further inquiry might take, place into some circumstances in his conduct of actual commission, which not only affected the state of our naval defence, but was also very material with a view to the personal liberty of the subject.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer,
in explanation, said, that he alluded to the number of shipwrights employed in the dockyards.
§ Mr. Sturges Bourne
said, that he allud- 918 ed to artificers in general, and probably the difference on this subject was the best refutation of the right hon. gentleman's statement.
§ Sir William Elford
spoke in favour of the motion, and thought the Admiralty had shown great severity and unbecoming rigour in their conduct. This, he thought, applied individually to the noble lord who presided at the head of the board, however meritorious he might otherwise be. People were removed from places on slight and frivolous pretences. There was in their whole conduct an extreme and ostentatious severity.
§ Mr. Tyrwbit Jones
said, that the more this question was discussed by the House, the weaker were the arguments of all its advocates. In the early part of the debate, on hon. admiral had stated, that he thought there was no exertion on the part of the Admiralty. To that he would say, let him look at the state of the marine. That hon. admiral had also said, that he suspected the motions which had been made that night, did not go far enough in regard to making enquiries. If they did not, the same hen. admiral had told the House, that he himself had something to propose, which would carry the investigation still further. Far his part, he could not rightly conceive how that hon. admiral could possibly carry it farther than what had been done by the right hon. gent, who had made these motions. He thought that the present inquiry tended to nothing else than to injure, the first lord of the Admiralty. Without any disparagement to the right hon. gent. (Mr. Pitt), he might venture to say, that during the whole 17 years of his administration he had generally shewn himself to be inimical to making such inquiries, or entering into any investigations whatever. He, however, would, in justice to that right hon. gent, mention, that he remembered having, on one particular occasion, procured from him, with some difficulty, an old bundle of papers. He was not inclined to impute to that right hon. gent, any improper or personal motives in his proposed investigation, though he must own that it appeared some what curious, that he should now venture to become an accuser, and indulge himself in making motion after motion, and encouraging speech after speech, when it tended so evidently to injure others. So many motions were proposed for inquiries into the conduct of ministers, that there appeared to be no end to them. He could not bring himself to be convinced, that the right hon. gent, was really in ear- 919 nest on this occasion, on the contrary, he was inclined to think that he had brought such motions forward, in order to win some bet he bad entered into with some of his friends. It even appeared to him, indeed, that the right hon. gent, and his coadjutors were, or had been, in a similar situation to a certain celebrated female who had lately so much attracted the notice of the public; and that he had lately been troubled with a dream. Whether he had been dreaming about stupendous columns, about sugar canes, or of the western world, he could not take upon him to determine; but it seemed as if he had, like the lady alluded be, thrown aside the camphor bag, and welcomed opposition to his Majesty's ministers. It really appeared that the right. hon. gent, had not now a leg to stand upon. He had brought forward these motion1;, while, at the same time, he had stated, conscientiously, that the noble lord of the admiralty had done every thing. As for the coalitions which had been made, they seemed to have no other object than to fix disgrace upon his Majesty's own ministers; those very ministers who had, in spite of all allegations to the contrary, the utmost confidence of the people of England, and who have the votes of that House to support their just and proper administration. Where, he would ask, were we to look more properly than to that House for the real and confidential sentiments of the people regarding them? Had any petition been presented to the House from the inhabitants of the country, begging that the conduct of the noble lord, so often alluded to, should be strictly investigated, on account of suspicions attaching to him? No. There had been no such petitions; it had been only a whisper to the detriment of the noble lord; and he was inclined to suppose, that it had been upon that whisper alone, that the right hon. gent, and some members of that House, seemed disposed to attack him.
began by saying, that it appeared necessary for him to clear up some mistakes or misrepresentations which originated in the course of the debate. The reason for haying stated the number of seamen in the month of Dec. last, in preference to any other month, was, that the regular returns had been made to the Admiralty at that period. There were then 76,054 seamen on board his Majesty's navy. Since the month of Dec no less than 6,441 had been added, and the return of the marines was 15,679 All these added together made a total of 98,174 men. Those returns were 920 to be found in the Admiralty, and had no connexion with the Navy-Office. There were no less than 19 sloops of war contracted for, and were to be built in the month of Nov. last, and there were very sufficient reasons for gun-boats having been ordered previous to the contractors compleating the sloops. It was not from an idea that these would be immediately required, but in order to be in readiness for particular purposes. As to the sloops not having been built sooner than in three months, he could confidently state, that no disadvantage would result from that circumstance. It would have been very injudicious to build them in a hurry, or of raw or green wood, which always proved leaky; and he did not imagine that Buonaparte's gun-boats would be found, on trial, to answer his purpose, for a similar reason. He would rather have gentlemen be inclined to concealment than to divulge any circumstances which might prove injurious to the country. It would be necessary, in the first place, to have on hand a great stock of timber, were ships to be built in merchant? yards. Those vessels which were built in the King's yards were more substantially balk than others. He meant nothing personal against any individual, when he said, however, that in his opinion a proper use had never been made of shipwrights in this country. The ships built in the King's yards, were wholesome and sound for the men to live in those built elsewhere, were generally found to get what is called the dry rot; they inclined the men to fevers, and were soon tendered unserviceable. He might even say, that those ships which were built in merchants' yards, had been the ruin of the navy. He did not know exactly what the hon. admiral meant, by alluding to 19 sail being taken when under convoy; he was not aware of any such thing having ever happened. On the whole, in considering the nature of the present motions, he, for his part, must say, that personal motives were to be presumed. If the right hon. gent, or any other person, had any fixed and determined charge to bring forward against the noble, lord who had the direction of the naval department, he would wish rather that they should state their charges directly and openly against them, than go about in the manner they seemed inclined to do.
§ Sir William Curtis
expressed himself to be also at a loss to know what convoy the hon. admiral had alluded to in the course of his speech; because he, too, might have had an unlucky hit among the number. He begged, to know where the right hon. gent. would 921 wish to place his gun-boats, could a greater number be immediately procured? They were only fit for assembling to protect the coast, and he could venture to say, that merchants vessels were never so well protected as at the present moment. In the year 1793, the number of vessels taken by the enemy was 418; in 1794. they were 484; in 1795, 493; and in 1796, there were no less than 793 vessels of various descriptions lost. He did not know what gentlemen would wish to have, when we had at present fleets every where For his part, after having heard the discussion which had taken place on this subject, he could venture to say, that he should this night repose upon his pillow with a greater degree of satisfaction than he could have done, had not the conduct of Lord St. Vincent been called in question by the present motion.
§ Mr. Courtenay
said, it was highly gratifying to observe, that every one who had spoken of the noble lord at the head of the Admiralty, had done so in terms that implied there could be no doubt what would be the termination of any inquiry that might be instituted. The present question had led to a discussion which convinced every gentleman of the firm basis on which the security of the country reposed. As long as eloquence shall consist of correctness of judgment, simplicity and truth, it will be admitted that the gallant admiral under the gallery (Sir E Pellew) has defended Lord St. Vincent with some of those rhetorical powers for which seamen are not always distinguished. He was one of those who considered, that of all others, a professional mail was the most suited for the high station occupied by Lord St. Vincent; and he deemed it as absurd to place a person in different habits in that situation, as to advance a sailor or a soldier to the highest rank in the Courts of British Jurisprudence. On every ground, whether he regarded the character of the noble lord or the public welfare, he considered the present motion fit to be supported.
observed, it was contended by many gentlemen, that the character of the first lord of the Admiralty was a sufficient answer to the inquiries which were the object of the present motion. Did gentlemen mean to say, that the right hon. gent. who had so long directed the councils of the state, had no character and no opinion which ought to be regarded? It was, perhaps, his own private sentiments, that the war of France is not against our navy, but against our finances; but if there be any neglect in the naval department, no doubt 922 can be entertained but they will avail themselves of it. It is, therefore, of the highest importance, not only that the present force may be competent, but that it may be continued in a condition adequate to the complete defence of the country. On these grounds, he considered the production of every document which could give satisfaction on this subject, prudent and necessary.
§ Mr. Fonblanque
assured the House, that he would not detain it beyond a very few minutes. The motions now under consideration, were merely for the production of papers, without which an inquiry could not be instituted. If the papers were granted, then the right hon. mover would be enabled to judge, whether or not the force mentioned in the official documents, was adequate to the emergency of the times. As this appeared to be the tendency of the right hon. Mover's propositions, he saw no rational ground for the refusal of the papers necessary for the inquiry. He professed the greatest admiration of Lord St. Vincent's character, and, therefore, he could not for a moment imagine that a negative ought to be given to the motion for the papers described by the right hon. mover. The production of the papers would also he attended with this happy effect; it would tell the people what means were pursued for their defence against the enemies of the country. It would also have this salutary effect; if the House were of opinion, that the force was inadequate to the resistance of the enemy, Parliament could then see the propriety, if not necessity, of augmenting the same. With all his partiality for the noble earl, he was for the motion.
rose to reply. He declared, that he would endeavour to detain the House, at that late hour, as short a time as possible. It must, however, be evident that he was bound to answer some of the remarks which had been brought forward. He agreed with a learned gentleman, that any vote which was given that night for the papers did not absolutely proceed the length of censuring his lordship. They were called upon to grant certain papers, deemed requisite for an inquiry into the conduct of his lordship and the hon. Board of which he was the head. They were called upon to view with the eye of candour and impartiality the merits of the case which he had presented for the consideration of the House. To grant the documents for which he moved, would be the best means of establishing the character and conduct of his lordship by the inquiry which he purposed to institute. To refuse them would create those doubts which 923 must always be injurious to a public character, however pure it might be considered by his friends. To refuse them would also have an evil tendency—it would serve to excite doubts as to the real strength of the nation. And what doubts? Doubts as to our capacity for the resistance of a very powerful enemy, whose visit to this country Ave are taught to believe will take place in the course of a very few weeks Before such a terrible emergency arrives, all doubts ought to be removed, by the production of such papers as would demonstrate at once the real strength of the country. If these papers be deemed necessary to ascertain our capacity for the resistance of the enemy, why deny them? Is Parliament, for the sake of protecting the Board, to be left doubtful of our strength and power at this great and awful crisis? Is that very Parliament which snakes a liberal expenditure for the security of the country, to be left in a state of doubt and dismay, because ministers do not chose to gratify their moderate wishes? The greater the danger, the greater the necessity for knowing the arrangements and strength of the country at the eve of one of the most serious events about to be recorded in our history. Should the papers be refused, which, from the disposition of those connected with administration, appeared likely to be the result of his efforts, our doubts would be increased, not only respecting our capacity to meet the enemy, but our doubts would also be increased respecting the conduct of the nobleman who presided at the Admiralty. It was as much as to say, do not inquire into our conduct, for there are certain facts which cannot bear public investigation." It was as much as to say, "give us unlimited confidence, believe in our professions of vigilance and activity, but do not attempt to institute an inquiry, for we can never consent to such a measure." What sort of confidence does the Board want? That blind and false confidence which exposes the safety of our country! That confidence which sacrifices our public security for the sake of screening from censure a department of government the most important at this particular period to the interests of the country. Is this the kind of security which the hon. baronet (Sir W. Curtis) boasts of as operating so powerfully en his mind, as to induce him to retire this evening, and lay down his head on his pillow with confidence. It is a dangerous and alarming confidence; a, confidence which benumbs our senses, and lulls us to sleep, while the enemy is at our gates; a confidence which cannot fail to excite the most 924 lively emotions in the minds of men of serious reflection, when contrasting the terrible activity of the enemy with the alarming supineness of our government. Some gentlemen, under the immediate influence of such a confidence, might accuse him of drawing a gloomy picture of public affairs. He begged leave, however, to be understood, that, he by no means presented such a view of the times as to depress our national spirit. He meant no melancholy forebodings to check the career of preparation against our common enemy and that of mankind. He only wished to remove the evil of deception from before our eyes, to scout that false confidence under which ministers sheltered themselves—a confidence which, if passed over in silence, may endanger the very existence of the nation, because it avows and cherishes a trick upon itself. Let the hon. baronet, therefore, retire to his pillow, if he please, and wrap himself up in his charm of naval confidence.—It was now necessary for him to explain to the House the extraordinary turn which the present debate had taken. When he cams down to the House, he had been requested to commune with one of his Majesty's ministers on the subject of the motions which he was then about to submit to their consideration. After stating the purport of the motions, he received the assurance of those very ministers, that two of the five papers would be allowed. Believing that one of the two papers promised would afford sufficient information on which he could around an inquiry into the conduct of the Admiralty, he was less anxious to impress upon the minds of the House the tendency and necessity of his motion. Confiding in the assurance of ministers, and knowing their determination to resist the other motions preparatory to his inquiry, he thought it needless to argue on the policy of the measure. But at last, out came the real truth, and the ministers with their friends did not hesitate to refuse the papers, because, say they, "you have not stated any parliamentary ground for the investigation." This was certainly not acting either with that candour or fair dealing which every member of Parliament had a right to expect from the servants of the crown. They first deprecate or check the strength of the observations intended by the compromise of these two papers, and then have the modesty to say, "you have not made out any Parliamentary ground." What are our preparations, and what is our force? In this information, so essential to our happiness, we cannot be gratified, because it is not 925 convenient or safe for his Majesty's ministers. Information was wanted to provide against the greatest and most serious evil which this country ever experienced, an evil now awfully impending over ns, the consequences of which most be terribly fatal to either or both nations—Mr. Pitt reproached; ministers severely for not availing themselves of the intermediate space between pence and war, when they saw, according to their own confession, the hostile disposition of the French government. Our national spirit had already done wonders in the system of preparation; but ministers had done little or nothing. Ministers, instead of encouraging that spirit, had frequently checked its progress. Their measures had sometimes been so feebly concerted, as to present to the mind of a candid observer nothing but instantaneous destruction, ruin, and disgrace. To aid them in their duty to the public, to discharge his own duty to the nation, he wished for the information now mentioned, but which they resisted without assigning sufficient cause.—The right hon. gent, then drew an ironical picture of the supporters of administration. Glancing at Mr. Tierney, he ridiculed the powerful support which he gave them; but stated, that perhaps it might be unfair yet to form a judgment of his zeal and activity in the cause; for as he had evinced zeal and activity in opposing a former government, he might perhaps still evince zeal and activity in supporting the present government. A conclusion to that effect might certainly be drawn from the part which he had acted that night, although it must be admitted, that he had not yet attained that aptitude for the exercises of his abilities on the side of the Treasury. The new convert to the Treasury, continued Mr. Pitt, says, that Lord St. Vincent is not so much alarmed, so panic-struck, as I am. I should be glad to know if this be the language of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If it be, what has the country to expect from his vigilance and energy? The army, although not so powerful as I could have wished, yet has made the most noble display of patriotism. The new military system, that of the volunteers, owes not its origin to the present ministers. It was a favourite system of the last ministers, he present men in power have frequently adopted, but seldom protected, any measure whatever. With all his respect, nay, affection, for the new military system, our naval defence was that on which we should chiefly rest our hopes. Our navy was the grand and proud bulwark of our fame—that navy, which had extend- 926 ed our commerce, our dominion, and power, to the most remote parts of the world—that navy, which had explored new sources of wealth, which had discovered new objects of glory. Let us, therefore, augment rather than diminish the pride of the nation, and Jet us not be referred back to dry periods of history when all comparisons are absurd and unavailing. Let us watch with the greatest jealousy and circumspection the rise and progress of the new marine of France, so dangerous to the interest and glory of this country. Let us watch France more actively than in former times, because she has attained new and extraordinary energies. The present exertions are unprecedented in history. We ought to meet them with at least: equal, not inferior activity and energies.—After a variety of arguments, Mr. Pitt noticed the conduct of Mr. Sheridan, in substance nearly as follows: among the many assaults which I have had to repel this evening, was one from a very brilliant flash of lightning, a meteor which for some time has moved neither on the one side nor on the other; a meteor whose absence all may with me have regretted; a meteor on whose return, having concentrated its force, has fixed its rays of resentment and indignation against me—but in whose blazing face I can lock without fear or dread. No insinuations, however bitter or bold, will ever induce me to surrender my freedom in this House. I am fully determined not to renounce my privileges as a member of Parliament. I admire the uncommon valour, extol the vast renown, the glorious achievements of Lord St. Vincent. To him we are highly indebted for shedding extraordinary lustre on our national glory. I did believe, that when his lordship took upon himself the direction of our naval affairs, the public service would derive great benefit from his patriotic exertions, and professional skill. I did believe that his name, in whatever naval capacity, was a tower of strength;—but I am apt to think, that between his lordship as a commander on the sea, and his lordship as First Lord of the Admiralty, there is a very wide difference, it cannot, surely, be a subject of suprize, that Lord St. Vincent should be less brilliant and less able in a civil capacity than in that of a warlike one. And with all my lofty ideas of his character, as a brave and successful naval commander, I shall not shrink from my duty in censuring him when presiding at the Board of the Admiralty, if he deserve it. I do not deny but that my motion for the production of the papers imply blame on his lordship. I, therefore, candidly avow, that I do not come forward 927 on this occasion from a tender regard to the character or conduct of his lordship, while at the Board of Admiralty. I claim this right of censure as a member of Parliament, if I can make out good grounds for the inquiry; but without I am allowed the official documents, I cannot prove the validity of my grounds, I cannot follow up my inquiry. If ministers chose to make this a question of confidence, they cannot, they shall not, induce me to the surrender of the inestimable privileges transmitted to every member of Parliament by his predecessors in the House. In bringing forward the subject of this present discussion, I have no other motive than merely to discharge my duty to my country. After Sir William Pulteney had said a few words, the question was loudly called for, when strangers were ordered to withdraw, preparatory to a division; the discussion, however, continued, some time after the strangers were excluded. At length the House divided, when the numbers were,
|For Mr. Pitt's motion||130|
|Majority, against the motion,||71|
|List of the Minority.|
|Adams, W.||Euston, Lord|
|Allen, J.||Elliott, Right Hon. W.|
|Adair, R.||Fox, Hon. C. J.|
|Butler, Hon.||Francis, Ph.|
|Buxton, Sir R.||Fitzpatrick, General|
|Barlow, F. W.||Foljambe, F.|
|Burdett, Sir F.||Foster, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Bankes, H.||Ferguson, J.|
|Bradshaw, R. H.||Fitzhugh, W.|
|Brooke, Lord||Fitzharris, Lord|
|Bligh, T.||Folkestone, Lord|
|Berkeley, Admiral||Falkiner, F. J.|
|Burroughs, W.||Garland, G.|
|Bootle, W.||Gower, Lord G. L.|
|Babbington, T.||Gunning, G. W.|
|Cooke, B.||Grenville, Rt. Hon. T.|
|Creevey, T.||Gregor, F.|
|Courtenay, J.||Greenfell, P.|
|Canning, Right Hon. G||Graham, J.|
|Cartwright, W. R.||Henderson, A.|
|Cowper, Hon. S.||Hardiman, E.|
|Craufurd, Colonel||Hippesley, Sir J.|
|Caulfield, Hon. H.||Holland, H.|
|Chapman, Charles||Joliffe, H.|
|Coddrington, Ch.||Jeffrey, J.|
|Daly, Bowes||Kinnaird, Hon. C.|
|Dundas.Hon.C. H.||Kensington, Lord|
|Dundas, Hon. G.||Lambe, T. Davis|
|Dundas, Right Hon.W.||Langton, G.|
|Dickson, Colonel||Leigh, R. Holt|
|Duncombe, C.||Lovaine, Lord|
|Dent, J.||Lascelles, Hon. Ed.|
|Dillon, Hon. A.||Lascelles, Hon. H.|
|Dupré, J.||Latouche, R.|
|Dennison, J.||Latouche, J.|
|Dickenson, W.||Laurence, Dr.|
|Dickenson, W. jan.||Lawley, Sir R.|
|Elford, Sir W.||Lennox, General|
|Ellis, C. R.||Lowther, J.|
|Lowther, Colonel J.||Sneyd, N.|
|Madocks, W. A.||Smith, G|
|Milner, Sir W.||Smith, S.|
|Mildmay, Sir H.||Smith, J.|
|Morpeth, Lord||Smith, Joshua|
|Morland, W.||Sloane, Colonel|
|North, D.||Scott, Claude|
|Newport, Sir J.||Scott, S.|
|Ossulston, Lord||Scott, Jos.|
|Ord, W.||Thellusson, P. T.|
|Osborne, J.||Temple, Lord|
|Ponsonby, G.||Thornton, R.|
|Petty, Lord H.||Thornton, S.|
|Peirse, H.||Turner, E.|
|Ponsonby, Right Hon.W.||Villiers, Right Hon. J.|
|Pitt, Right Hon. W.||Whyte, M.|
|Proby, Lord||Walpole, Hon. G.|
|Porchester, Lord||Wilberforce, W.|
|Portman, E. B.||Willett, J. W.|
|Porcher, Dupre||Ward, R.|
|Penn, J.||Ward, Hon. J.|
|Preston, Sir R.||Windham, Right Hon. W.|
|Russell, Lord W.||Wynne, C. W. W.|
|Spencer, Lord R.||Wynne, Sir W. W.|
|St. John, St. And.||Wrottesley, Sir J.|
|Saville, C.||Wigram, R.|
|Long, Right Hon. C.|