HC Deb 10 June 1819 vol 40 cc1084-116
The Attorney general

having moved the order of the day for going into a committee on this bill.

Mr. Alderman Wood

presented a petition against the bill, which he said was signed by a most respectable number of the inhabitants of Westminster. The petition sat forth, "That the bill excited in the minds of the petitioners feelings of inexpressible dissatisfaction, alike hostile to the liberties and happiness of the Spanish American nation, now nobly asserting their independence, as it was to the obvious interests of our own country, the said bill being contrary to that neutrality which ought to be strictly observed by England between the parties at issue, one fighting for that freedom which God and Nature designed for all mankind, the other for continuing over widely extended regions, a government of oppression and cruelty peculiarly disgraceful to the present enlightened age; confiding in the justice, wisdom, and benevolence of an English parliament, in the premises, the petitioners prayed, that the said bill might not pass into a law." The worthy alderman said, that he should oppose the Bill in all its stages.

On the motion, that the Speaker do now leave the Chair,

Colonel Davies, before the House went into the committee, took that opportunity of contradicting certain circumstances which had been mentioned by the supporters of the bill on the last occasion that the question had been argued. The noble lord opposite had then laid great stress upon this country being bound by treaties to do Spain every service that lay within her power, and had argued in such a way as would have led any inconsiderate person to believe, that Spain had not merely always acted in such a manner towards us, but had even strained every nerve to put a favourable construction upon such of her institutions as were hostile to our commercial intercourse with her subjects. But was such a statement reconcileable with facts? Would any body, except the noble lord, pretend to argue that the conduct of Spain had not been one continued series of unwarrantable aggressions against this country? that she had not violated almost every treaty which she had ever made with us? that she had not committed the most gross and unjustifiable outrages against our national honour? that she had not imprisoned the bodies, confiscated the property, and annihilated, as far as depended upon herself, the commerce of British merchants? He maintained that she had done all this upon repeated occasions, and said that the charges which he had brought against her were not mere invectives, unsupported by facts, but where so corroborated by them, that he would defy the noble lord either to disprove them. He would mention one or two of the facts on which he principally rested his assertions. The treaty upon which all our commercial transactions with Spain rested was made in the year 1667, and was afterwards confirmed by the peace of Utrecht. This, with some slight fluctuations, continued till the year 1783, when another treaty was formed between the two countries. That remained in force till the year 1796, when it was again altered. In 1806, when Spain was at the feet of Buonaparte, duties absolutely prohibitory were imposed by the king, for the avowed purpose of annihilating the commerce of Great Britain. In 1808, the patriot war broke out, and those prohibitory duties were withdrawn. In 1814, Ferdinand was restored, and he introduced the commercial relations that existed previous to 1796. On the faith of his decrees British merchants imported into Spain large quantities of our manufactures, and followed them up by very extensive orders; yet, would the House believe it, in less than six months afterwards, that monarch, who owed his very existence to this country, reimposed the very prohibitory duties which Buonaparté had compelled in 1806, and took care that the decree should have a retrospective operation. This was one of the favours for which we were indebted to the present Spanish government! Since that date still heavier duties had been laid on British goods; so that, in truth, the trade had been totally destroyed. But if such was the conduct of Ferdinand towards us as a nation, the instances of individual outrage were gross and tyrannical beyond conception. The Spanish cabinet had not only set at defiance the clearest law of nations, but had disregarded its own municipal regulations, for the purpose of oppressing the merchants of this kingdom. One case, selected from many, would be sufficient for the present occasion: it was that of a Mr. Simpson, a merchant, who had been subjected to the most grievous oppressions—not in a distant province, but in the purlieus of the court—in the heart of the capital. His House had been forcibly entered, on the 14th of October 1816, all his books seized, and a sentry placed over his person: he of course remonstrated, but our envoy at Madrid, Mr. Vaughan, could obtain neither redress nor explanation; and at the end of a fortnight, Mr. Simpson's House was again entered at night by armed men, who threatened instant death if he did not disclose where his property was kept. He was still kept in custody for some days, and at last was released; but from that hour to the present justice had been refused, and he had not been able to obtain the restoration of a single article of his property. Such had been the conduct of the myrmidons of the court of Spain, notwithstanding it had been constantly provided, ever since the treaty of Utrecht, that the persons and dwellings of British merchants should be held sacred! Of these facts the individual so injured was ready to make oath; and yet, with a knowledge of the whole of them, the noble lord had expressed his surprise that British merchants should feel any alarm, and he had charged them with departing from their characters as British merchants, because they remonstrated against the most grievous injustice. [Cries of No! no! from lord Castlereagh.] Such had been the tenour of the whole speech of the noble lord on a former night; he had, indeed, directly charged British merchants with becoming bucaniers and smugglers, and with preferring smuggling adventures to fair legitimate trade. Did the noble lord imagine that Spain, the moment she regained an ascendancy in her colonies, would not exclude our commerce? Did he not know, that while she had any authority, she had punished with death the natives who carried on inter- course with any nation but the mother country? The noble lord had referred to the conduct of the United States; but had he forgotten the interest which that people took in the events in South America? Had he forgotten that, in 1816, they sent out commissioners expressly to collect commercial information, particularly regarding the value of the trade to Buenos-Ayres, which had been since published in a report, and proved the wonderful resources of the favoured regions they had visited. If, then, the United States, pressed by none of the distresses that weighed upon this country —if the United States, who could derive but little comparative benefit from a trade with South America, had taken such pains to inquire, was it fit that we should be totally indifferent? Were we to submit to all kinds of insults from Spain, to have our manufactures excluded, our trade ruined, and to do nothing on behalf of millions of men who, on the other side of the globe, were anxious to receive us with open arms, and to compensate in the new world for what we had lost in the old? It appeared that Buenos-Ayres received British manufactures to the amount of more than 2,000,000l. annually, while the utmost that had been sent to the mother country did not exceed 400,000l. What comparison, therefore, was there between the two, and how short-sighted was the policy ministers were endeavouring to pursue! If this bill passed, though the hope of emancipation might not be destroyed, the event must be retarded. The South Americans turned to Great Britain as to a land of succour and freedom; and, if they were disappointed, their disgust would be in proportion to their despair. They would then, of necessity, direct their eyes to the great commercial and naval rival of this country, with whom we were at peace it was true, but with whom that peace would continue only just as long as suited the interests of that rival. He would venture to prophesy, the within six months after the passing of this; bill, the Buenos-Ayres government would be recognized by the United States, a commercial treaty would be formed, and the United States would at least monopolize the carrying-trade, and undersell us with our own goods in the South American markets. Upon the legal part of the question he only wished to remark, that the acts of the 9th and 29th of Geo. 2nd, were completely a dead letter on our Statute book: only three British subjects were serving with the king's license in the royal armies of South America, while from 50 to 60 were serving without license, and under those statutes were guilty of felony. If any additional proof were wanting that the acts were a dead letter, it was found in this fact, that only on Thursday last, two British officers, without license, in the service of Ferdinand, and consequently felons by the existing law, in full Spanish uniform, at the Prince Regent's levee, took their formal leave. The utmost Spain could expect was, the repeal of those two statutes. He had hoped that after the division of a former night, ministers would not have forced this measure upon the country; but the treasury circular, which he had seen, unfortunately showed that they intended to persevere to the last [Hear, from ministers.] He was sorry to find that his statement was confirmed, and that the government of Great Britain was under the necessity of yielding to the dictation of a foreign power. He opposed the bill, because it was calculated not only to destroy the best interests of the country, but to degrade it in the eyes of all Europe. [Cheers.]

Mr. F. Robinson

contended, that if the arguments of the hon. gentleman were well founded, he had made out a case to prove that this country could not, without dishonour, avoid declaring war against Spain. If there were any foundation for the charges adduced, and if the gloomy colours in which the conduct of Spain had been painted were at all warranted, Great Britain had no choice left. Before he proceeded to the immediate question, he protested, in the most unequivocal and solemn manner, that the imputation against ministers, that this measure had proceeded from a servile acquiescence in the demands of any foreign nation, was wholly unjustified by the fact; it had been brought forward only from a conscientious conviction that it was required for the preservation of the honour and character of the country [Hear, hear!]. He could not expect that his declaration would be accepted as proof, but he protested, before God, that it was sincere. It had been charged, that ministers were acting in hostility to the principles of liberty: it was very easy to make general accusations, and very difficult to answer them but by a general denial; and this he gave in the most distinct and positive manner. With regard to the question itself, there could be no doubt that the Crown had a prerogative right to establish a neutrality, and that any violation of it was punishable at common law. The measure was founded upon these admitted facts; and if it went further than the common law, it was because there was a specific obligation by a special treaty with Spain, binding this country to take the most effectual measures to prevent its subjects from supplying arms to the revolted Americans. It was therefore, of course, the wish of ministers not to make a mere show of neutrality, and their sincerity was first evinced by the royal proclamation. The agents of the insurgents, notwithstanding, had succeeded in enlisting hundreds of men, the very instant they were disbanded from our own regiments; and if this government was to act with any regard to good faith in its engagements, it was bound to adopt some more effectual measure. Great ingenuity had been shown in endeavouring to prejudice the House by calling in aid passions and interests; and the first objection was, that the bill had been introduced at the suggestion of a foreign power. True it was, the dictations of other states ought not to be attended to: for instance, when Buonaparte required the prosecution of the free press of this country, after the peace of Amiens, the government would have disgraced itself by compliance; but when treaties were involved, how could a foreign power obtain redress but by war, if its remonstrances were not listened to? In 1794, a treaty precisely similar was entered into between Great Britain and the United States, and we had been obliged to make representations that the conditions were not fulfilled, and an act, to endure for three years, was passed: at the end of that time, the same act was continued at the suggestion of Great Britain; and if it had not been attended to, a justifiable cause of war would unquestionably have been afforded. So here. Spain would have a justifiable cause for declaring war, if we did not do our utmost to fulfil our treaty; and though her weakness might deter her from hazarding hostilities, with a generous nation, that ought to be the very reason why all cause of complaint should be removed. This might be further illustrated by a reference to the expedition of sir Gregor M'Gregor: he raised his troops in this country; he obtained the ships to transport them in this country; yet he had no commission from any sovereign authority, and not one foot of ground in the country to which he was proceeding. He went to attack a part of the territory still adhering to Old Spain, with which this country carried on a very advantageous trade; and though he had a right, perhaps, to attack Spanish property, he could not assail that of Great Britain, without being guilty of the most atrocious acts of piracy and robbery. Having done so, where was redress to be obtained? Sir Gregor M'Gregor had no court but his ship, no law but his sword; and in a case of that kind, it was the absolute duty of government to take some steps for the protection of the commercial interests of the kingdom; even supposing that honour and honesty were out of the question. Next it was urged, that the cause of the South Americans was just; that it was most fitly and naturally popular in Great Britain; and that to support it would importantly relieve the commercial and manufacturing interests of the kingdom. No man could be more sensible than he was of the impolicy and injustice of the system pursued by Old Spain towards her colonies for centuries; and no man who loved liberty could wonder that the struggle in which the insurgents were engaged, excited a strong feeling in their favour here. He knew, too, that commercial pressure was at this moment peculiarly felt, and of course that there was great anxiety that this field for speculation should be opened; yet, recollecting the solemn treaties entered into by this country, he could not but pause, at least, before he consented to sacrifice to feeling and interest the honour and good faith of the nation. In his view, nothing on earth should be held so dear by a country as fidelity in its engagements. What state could confide in us in future, if we held out to the world, that for pecuniary considerations the most sacred obligations were disregarded? He implored the House to reflect for a moment on the consequences. Could any period of our history be pointed out when peace was so essential to our welfare as at present? But if we were to act upon the principles recommended by the opponents of the bill, with what country on earth could we be in bonds of amity? Should we not point ourselves out as the mark against which all other powers would be justified in aiming their hostility? The hon. member had talked of obtaining rewards in the new world for what we had lost in the old; but could he hope that even the revolted Americans, after they had made use of us for temporary purposes, would trust us more than other states whose treaties we had purposely violated. Upon the whole, therefore, he (Mr. Robinson) held the measure to be of the last importance to our character; and he thought it was impossible that the British parliament should reject it, unless it preferred the gratification of passion, and the promotion of interest, to the preservation of good faith and national honour.

Sir James Mackintosh

said, he did not rise to oppose the motion for the Speaker's leaving the Chair, as he was aware there might be a convenience in proceeding to that stage of the measure. Against the measure itself, however, he entertained the most determined hostility; and he perfectly concurred in the intention expressed by an hon. member for the city of London of opposing the whole of it, with the exception of the first clause, which went to repeal the acts of George 2nd. That clause was clear, distinct and intelligible. It was open to the comprehension of every individual. It was just, and whatever might be the predominance of feeling in the breast of any one on a subject like the present, yet sentiment ought always to be compelled to submit to the dictates of justice. But, while he was bound to admit the expediency of that particular clause, he desired to be understood as doing so with regard only to the strict question of neutrality. Placing the question on the fair ground of our duty to maintain perfect neutrality, he would undertake to prove, that, with the exception of that first clause, the bill under the consideration of the House would be the complete destruction, instead of the preservation, of our neutrality. Differing as he did from the right hon. gentleman opposite on this subject, he must deprecate and condemn a measure which proclaimed war against the liberties' of America, which proclaimed war against the commerce and character of England, in order to conciliate the good opinion of Spain, and which was a gross departure from that impartiality which was unquestionably due to both the belligerents respecting whom it had been introduced. Denying, as he did, the claim of a foreign government to require from us the adoption of any such proposition, he would not oppose the bill on that ground,—he would not oppose it, because (which was in itself, however, sufficiently extraordi- nary) it was the first instance in which a Spanish ambassador, exercising a power which he believed was rather unprecedented in this country, had written or attempted to write an act in the British statute book. His opposition to the bill would be founded on a more general principle. He was certainly much surprised to hear a right hon. gentleman who had just spoken on the subject with so much clearness and eloquence, draw from the same premises a conclusion so different from that which he had himself drawn. He was by no means inclined to dispute the proposition of the right hon. gentleman with respect to the right possessed by the king of regulating the intercourse of his subjects with belligerent powers. That right had been well asserted by the royal Proclamation in 1817; disobedience to which was a misdemeanor, punishable as such by the common law. But, to go further—when by the common law the means existed of punishing a breach of neutrality, to enact a measure favourable in its tendency to one party alone, was in itself the grossest violation of neutrality. In what did neutrality consist? It was unnecessary to resort to the learned disquisitions of writers on international polity to ascertain what the real meaning of neutrality was; common sense would point it out. Neutrality consisted, first, in the abstinence of a government from affording aid to either of two belligerent parties; secondly, in the impartiality of the laws as respecting two belligerent parties. The proclamation of 1817 could warrant no other proceeding consistently with the principle of neutrality than the repeal of the two acts of George 2nd. Let those statutes be repealed, and England would instantly, and without any additional measure, be placed in a state of complete impartiality towards the belligerents. The present bill therefore was necessarily an act of supererogation. It was more—it was confessedly introduced at the instance of Spain; it was for the convenience and benefit of Spain alone; and parliament was called upon to pass it just at the critical moment when it especially suited the policy and the necessities of that country. The right hon. gentleman had dwelt much on the statutes of George 2nd; but if the right hon. gentleman had read them with the same attention which he (sir James Mackintosh) had given to them, he would have found that, by the 9th of George 2nd, officers entering into the service of Spain were not guilty of capital felony. It was entering into the service of the king of France only which was made a capital felony by that act. By the 29th of George 2nd, private soldiers entering the service were made guilty of a capital felony; but the penalty was not extended to any officers who might engage in that service. The acts of George the 2nd originated under peculiar circumstances. It was well known to all those who were conversant with the private history of that reign, that at no period were the efforts of the Jacobite party more unremitting than between, the years 1733 and 1736, when, falling into the common error of mistaking the unpopularity of the minister (sir R. Walpole) for the unpopularity of the reigning sovereign, they were induced to enter into various foreign services, with the view of availing themselves of that spirit of discontent which they were perpetually fancying they observed at home. The common law of this country was equally impartial in its efficacies and inefficacies with regard to Spain; and in its conveniencies and inconveniencies with regard to both belligerents. It was the duty of all neutral powers that their laws should be thus impartial; but their efficacy was a very different question. That depended upon distinct and peculiar considerations; such as the tone and temper of the times, motives of particular policy, and more especially the public expression of national feeling. The right hon. gentleman had adverted, in terms becoming an Englishman, to the interference of Napoleon, in 1802, with respect to the press of this country. He concurred with the right hon. gentleman in the indignant warmth which he had manifested on that point; but it was very strange that the very language which was used at that period against the liberty of the press in this country, was the language now used in support of the bill before the House! The complaint upon the occasion alluded to by the right hon. gentleman was, that no adequate security was given to foreign powers against the abuse of libellers; that we had little reason to boast of a constitution which thus permitted rank and station to be attacked with impunity, and did not recognize or protect the privileges of foreign sovereigns; that the common law of the land was evidently insufficient for the purpose, and therefore that some rigorous measures ought to be adopted to remedy the evil. The result of that angry interference was too well known to render it necessary for him to advert to it; but, because it was probable that a jury of this country would acquit a libeller of Napoleon, did any man dare to propose to the British parliament a bill to put down the liberty of the press, and the trial by jury? In the present instance, was it because English feeling had been manifested in the support of the cause of liberty in South America, that the government of Spain should be complimented by a surrender of the neutrality which we were bound to observe? It was no more to be tolerated, that hostility en the part of individuals to the oppression of Ferdinand should be suppressed, than hostility on the part of the press to the oppression of Napoleon. It had certainly been argued that the common law was insufficient in cases of the nature in question; but he contended, that that argument was entirely erroneous. If, however, it were so—if the common law did not contemplate the particular case for which the present bill was introduced, was the interference of a foreign power on such a subject to be tolerated? There would be no end to the demands of foreign powers, if the principle were once admitted, that our system of jurisprudence might be altered at their pleasure.—The right hon. gentleman had observed, that such a measure as the present had been introduced by the government of the United States, and acceded to by congress. The United States, said the right hon. gentleman, concluded a treaty with Spain, and congress passed an act to carry that treaty into effect. And why did they do so? Because, though the common law in England was sufficient for the required purpose, in America it was not. The power of making war and peace was not vested in the president of America, as it was in the king of England. In America, therefore, a legislative act was necessary. But, as his majesty's proclamation of 1817 was still in force, how could any legislative measure be necessary in this country? It was, indeed, singular that in such a country as England—a country which had so long flourished in security and glory by maintaining the principles of justice and liberty, no such proposition as the present had ever before been hazarded. Until the present period no belligerent had ever been able to obtain a favour which Great Britain was now called upon to grant to Ferdinand —a sovereign on whom he would bestow no epithets, because it was impossible by any epithets which the English language could furnish to add to the feeling which the mere utterance of his name excited. Never before had this country been asked to make a change in its ancient institutions for the benefit of one belligerent. Why was parliament to be now called upon to alter those institutions, and to make such a change in the relations hitherto observed in our foreign policy? Was there any sufficient cause for the innovation? Was the proceeding warranted by any particular emergency? No! nothing of the kind. The king of Spain desired it; and his wish must be gratified.—But, it might be demanded, "What! do you contend that no such wish as the present was ever expressed by a foreign government?" Yes; a similar application had been made by the same power as at present after the memorable treaty of 1604; but it was rejected by the enlightened ministers of that day the scholars of the illustrious Elizabeth. James 1st in his precipitate eagerness to reconcile himself with the legitimate princes of the continent, was very willing to depart from those maxims of sound policy which had placed his glorious predecessor at the head of what might be termed a body of national independence, and to evince towards Spain the same pliancy which marked the conduct of the present administration; but he was still in the hands of lord Salisbury, a statesman who prized and upheld the rights and honour of the British nation. With the permission of the House he would advert to an old document, which was strikingly in point on the present subject. In the Memoirs of Sir Ralph Winwood, who was secretary of state to James 1st, there was a curious letter to himself from sir Harry Neville, relating to a bill then lately brought in, which made it penal for a subject to go abroad into the service of a foreign power without having first taken the oath of allegiance, as recently framed. From this, he would just observe, it was quite clear that it had never been considered an offence by the common law. In the letter, which was dated July 8th 1616, sir Harry Neville, who had introduced the bill, observed, that it was originally confined to those who entered the service of Popish princes only, but that the Lords had spoiled it by making its provisions universal. Upon mentioning that circumstance to lord Salisbury, that nobleman told him it was of no consequence, seeing how easily the amendment might be evaded. Sir Harry Neville then went on to say, that there was an apprehension of the interference of Spain to prevent British troops from joining the standard of the insurgent Dutch provinces; and in fact there was an application of that nature; but the ancient friends and counsellors of Elizabeth refused to comply with so unreasonable and disgraceful a claim. The historical records of England afforded innumerable instances of British troops serving under foreign belligerents, without subjecting themselves to any penalty in consequence. A Catholic regiment served in the Spanish service in Flanders, under lord Arundel of Wardour: a nobleman distinguished among the first of his contemporaries; and a regiment of Scotch Catholics, commanded by the earl of Home, entered the service of the king of France. In neither instance, however, was any breach of neutrality supposed to have taken place.— But, perhaps it might be more agreeable to the taste of the right hon. gentlemen opposite, if he cited Spanish examples to justify the proceedings against which the present bill was brought in. Not only was there the authority of facts and historical experience against the principle of the proposed measure, but there was that of the writers on the law of nations, particularly of one of the most intelligent of those writers—the celebrated Bynkershoek, who was president of the courts of Holland. On the question, Whether it be a breach of neutrality to allow a friendly belligerent to levy troops in your territory, he answers in the negative. What would have been the cheers of gentlemen opposite had any hon. member on his side of the House ventured upon asserting an opinion similar to that expressed by this grave authority? In the war of the bishop of Munster against Holland, in 1666, the states general complained to the governor of the Spanish Netherlands that he permitted troops for the service of the bishop to be levied within his territories. What was the governor's reply? That the Spanish territories were equally open to the states general as to the bishop for the purpose in question; for that, although the latter was his friend, he would act with justice towards both. But this, agreeably to the modern interpretation of the law of nations, would be considered a breach of neutrality. It was clear, however, that the Spanish governor thought otherwise. A breach of the law, forsooth! What would the scrupulous politicians of the present times say when he mentioned the name of one of the greatest princes and most valiant leaders that Europe had ever beheld—a man whose sword had vindicated the cause of civil and religious liberty against the combined efforts of tyrannical power—what he asked, would they say when he referred them to the instance of Gustavus Adolphus, who had in his pay, not a small proportion of British troops, not a little smuggled army, headed by a few half-pay officers, on board a transport or two in the Downs; but a band of 6,000 men, raised in Scotland; and by whose co-operation, with a handful of other troops, he was enabled to traverse a great part of Europe, to vanquish the host that opposed him, and to burst the galling fetters of Germany? And who was the chief by whom those 6,000 British troops were led? Not an adventurer—not a sir Gregor M'Gregor of whom he knew little, and for whom he certainly cared less,—but the marquis of Hamilton; a man of the first distinction and consequence in his own country, the personal friend of the king—from whom, however, he had no licence. At that time, the Spanish and Imperial ambassadors were resident in London; but neither of them presumed to remonstrate, or to make a demand like that which had been made in the present day.—It was expressly laid down by Vattel, that a nation did not commit a breach of neutrality by allowing its subjects to enter into the service of one belligerent, and refusing the same permission with respect to another. There was one case more, which occurred in the reign of James 1st, to which he could not help adverting. At that period a great body of English troops commanded by one of the most gallant captains of his day, sir Horace Vere, served against the Spaniards, and received pay from a foreign power. Yet Gondomar, the Spanish ambassador, whom king James was endeavouring by the most servile and abject submission to conciliate, who might be almost termed the viceroy of Spain in this country, who had sufficient influence to cause the murder of that most distinguished individual, the ornament of his native country and of Europe, who united in himself more kinds of glory than had perhaps ever been combined in an individual—that intrepid soldier, that skilful mariner, that historian, that poet, that philosopher, that statesman—sir Walter Raleigh—Gondomar whose power protected him from the punishment he deserved for such an act, dared not go so far as to require the boon which his majesty's ministers now called on the House of Commons of England to have the condescension to grant! The present was not a more important question as it affected the ruined commerce of a great country, than as it established a most dangerous precedent. With what authority would the envoys of despotic powers henceforward besiege the doors of a British minister with the most disgraceful claims! With what unanswerable force would they say, "You granted this with facility to Spain, and you granted it when Spain was under the dominion of Ferdinand the 7th, on what ground can you withhold it from us?" Dangerous and degrading would it indeed be, if Ferdinand the 7th, could prevail on an assembly of British gentlemen to establish a precedent which would subject the British government to be dictated to in future times by persons—if any such there could possibly be—resembling him in character. What they had refused to the greatest of modern military tyrants and despotic sovereigns—what they had denied to Louis 14th and Philip the 2nd, they were required to give to such a man as Ferdinand 7th! The reigning sovereign of Spain, whose character he would not trust himself to describe, bad achieved an object in which all his predecessors had failed.—— Quos nec Tydides nec Larissæus Achilles—— The simple question was, Whether we were to innovate upon a system which the venerable sanction of time had rendered sacred, while it also established its perfection, merely because it was the will of a foreign power that we should do so? Was it for such a purpose that we were to change our ancient institutions? To any reform of those institutions, his majesty's ministers had generally expressed extreme aversion. But there was one vice in them which there appeared to be the greatest disposition to eradicate. The constitution framed by our ancestors, who did not contemplate the extraordinary refinement which their descendants were to attain, and who therefore regarded their own liberty more than the desires of foreign nations, did not possess sufficient pliancy. It did not enable the minister, in reply to the application of a foreign ambassador, to say with a courtier like smile, that certainly every thing should be done to meet the benevolent and enlightened wishes of that ornament of sovereignty, that Marcus Aurelius of Spain, Ferdinand the 7th. The roughnesses in the British constitution which rendered such amiable conduct difficult, must be polished. To correct this uncomplying spirit in our laws, and subdue it as much as possible to the tone of continental acquiescence, something effectual must be done. The coarse system of our ancestors was not in unison with the feelings of his majesty's ministers, who dwelt with complacency upon the refined and improved governments of the continental powers; and who must have something in the way of imitation—an Alien act, for, instance. They now called on parliament to refine the British laws in other respects, and to render them more agreeable to his Catholic majesty.—Instead of the conduct which they had thus pursued, why did they not imitate the example of lord Liverpool, when in the answer which, in a manner so highly honourable to him, he made to the application of Napoleon in 1802, to limit the freedom of the press, he said, "You mistake the law and constitution of England. It is not in the power, if it were in the inclination of a minister, to do what you require." But, as they had not done so, he trusted that parliament would supply the deficiency. He trusted that that House would exclaim with the brave barons of former days, Nolumus leges Angliœ mutari! Such an answer as that ought to have been returned to Ferdinand. He ought to have been told that the laws of England were irreversible, and that he must be satisfied with a determination in which every power of Europe, from the time of Louis the 14th, had been compelled to acquiesce.— The right hon. gentleman opposite had said, that sir Gregor M'Gregor, being only a military adventurer, he was without weight or influence, and that there was no court in South America to which British subjects could appeal for redress.—But he (sir James Mackintosh) contended, that there was a tribunal in that country to which British subjects might appeal; and that the character of sir Gregor M'Gregor was to be viewed in a different light from that of a brigand or piratical adventurer.—If any additional proof were wanting of the partiality of the measure before the House, it might be derived from this consideration. There was one sort of aid which England could give to Spain, but which, from the nature of things, she could not give to the Insurgent Provinces—he meant a supply of transports for the purpose of conveying troops across the Atlantic. Now there was no provision whatever in the bill to prevent British subjects from supplying transports—a flagrant instance of anti-neutral spirit in its framers. But what indeed could be a more gross departure from neutrality than that evinced in the treaty concluded with Spain in 1814; in which treaty, while we professed a wish to reconcile the people of South America to the authority of the king of Spain, we stigmatised as rebellion the noble struggle they were making to free themselves from an intolerable bondage. To adopt the proposed bill would be, to repeat and re-pronounce that sentence of condemnation on the cause of the Spanish provinces. It had been contended, that the bill was founded on the treaty. A frank admission of its real character! For what neutral proceeding could possibly emanate from a measure of such decided and uncalled for anti-neutrality?—It was the observance of neutrality on the part of the state that he was advocating. Neutrality in the feelings of individuals was impossible. In a contest between superstition and tyranny on the one side, and the hope, or even the chance of liberty on the other, never could his heart be neutral!—Much had been said of the motives by which the merchants of this country were actuated with respect to this subject. A noble lord had on a former night treated them with great and unjust severity; imputing the solicitude which they felt for the success of the South American cause to interested motives. Without indulging in common place declamations against politicians, he must however say, that it was a question with him, whether the interest of merchants did not more frequently coincide with the best interests of mankind than did the transient and limited views of politicians. If British merchants looked with eagerness to the event of the struggle in South America, no doubt they did so with the hope of deriving advantage from that event. But on what was that hope founded? Was it on the diffusion of beggary, on the maintenance of ignorance, on the confirmation of slavery, on the establishment of tyranny, in America? No! Those were the expectations of Ferdinand. It was on the successful assertion of freedom—of freedom! that parent of all good!—that parent of industry!—that parent of talent!—that parent of heroism! —that parent of every virtue! The fate of South America would be accessory to the wealth of British merchants only as it became accessory to the dignity and happiness of the race of man.—There was one topic connected with the present subject which had always struck him as peculiarly interesting. Among the titles which Ferdinand the 7th seemed, in the eyes of his majesty's ministers, to possess to the interference of England in his behalf, he wished to know if the noble lord opposite reckoned his ready compliance with the request of the noble lord, and the request of many other ambassadors from the various powers of Europe, for the release from confinement of those allies of Great Britain, and patriots of Spain, who had incurred his sovereign displeasure? Parliament had been told of repeated applications made by the British government of those excellent individuals; the victims at once of ingratitude and tyranny. Still, however, they languished in their dungeons. Among those distinguished sufferers was Mr. Arguelles, a name which had lately been eulogized by one of the highest characters and authorities in Europe. The noble lord had assured the House that the assembled majesty of Europe had twice interceded for that eminent person, and had interceded in vain! The noble lord had on a former occasion dwelt on the success of his negotiations with Spain relative to the slave trade. Let the noble lord remember—or at least let not that House forget—that what Ferdinand had done for money, was spontaneously and gratuitously accorded by the insurgent colonies; that what Ferdinand reluctantly, and after long negotiation consented only partially to restrain, Arguelles prevailed on the cortes instantly, universally, and for ever to abolish. And, having introduced the subject of the slave trade, he could not refrain from calling on the House to consider how much respect was due to the various governments founded by the revolted provinces of Spanish America, for having with one consent, and notwithstanding the creolean prejudices with which, in common with all colonies, they must have been imbued on the subject, put an end to a traffic which was still cherished in Europe; and which, to the eternal disgrace of one nation in particular, was clung to by that nation with the utmost tenacity and fondness.—He would trespass on the House with only one further observation. He had called the leaders of the Spanish cortes the allies of Great Britain. What must be the feelings of any man who read the inscription on the French mortar, taken after the raising of the siege of Cadiz, presented by the cortes to his royal highness the Prince Regent, and placed by his royal highness's commands in a conspicuous situation in the metropolis? "Devictis a Wellington Duce "prope Salamancam Gallis, solutaque "exinde Gadium obsidione hanc quam "aspicitis basi superimpositam bombardam, vi præditam adhuc inaudita ad "urbem portumque Gaditanum destruendum conflatam, et a copiis turbatis relictam, Cortes Hispanici pristinorum, "haudquaquam beneficiorum obliti summæ venerationis testimonio donaverunt "Georgio Illus. Brit. Princ. qui in perpetuam rei memoriam hoc loco ponendam, et his ornamentis decorandam jussit."—We had thus accepted a trophy in commemoration of a glorious victory, presented to us by our brave allies, and had in the inscription engraved upon it associated their name with the name of our greatest and most renowned captain by whom that victory had been achieved; —a trophy, expressive of their gratitude and affection, and which had been received with the respect and attention due to it;—and yet at that very moment those bravo and illustrious men were languishing in the dungeons of the country they had in vain delivered, the victims of that prince whose cause a British parliament was now called upon to espouse!—[The above is a very imperfect outline of a speech which was listened to with the deepest attention; and at the close of which, the hon. and learned gentleman sat down amidst the loudest cheers from both sides of the House, which continued for several minutes. When silence was restored.]

Mr. Canning

rose. He began by declaring, that there was not a man in the House who had expressed his merited approbation of the eloquence of the hon. and learned gentleman that was more sensible of it than himself, or that felt more deeply than he did the difficulty of the task prescribed to him by his duty of endeavouring to remove the splendid impediment which the hon. and learned gentleman had raised in the way of what he (Mr. Canning) considered to be the Straight forward and honourable course which the House ought to pursue. If in his observations, he should confine himself to a few of the hon. and learned gentleman's statements, he trusted that it would not be attributed to any disposition to pass lightly over his magnificent speech. He however must conjure honourable members not to allow themselves to be led away by the power of glowing eloquence from the real facts of the subject under discussion. It was not for the House to look to the character of Ferdinand with reference to the decision of the question before them, but to consider how far the proposed measure was justified and required by the circumstances of the case. If the only point to be determined were the character of the Spanish government, he would by no means stand up as the panegyrist of the conduct, either of that government in the abstract, or of the individual in whose hands the authority of that government was at present lodged. But he must again caution the House against allowing any feelings excited by such a consideration to mingle and interfere with the strict discharge of their duty. Were we indeed commencing a new struggle for the independence of Europe, we might perhaps be induced to take means for deriving advantage from services which, however they might have been unacknowledged, he, for one, could never regret had been performed. The hon. and learned gentleman had mixed with his invectives against Ferdinand the 7th praises of another government which he (Mr. Canning) could not allow to be altogether just. In the cortes there were certainly individuals of great virtues and splendid talents; but he denied that there was any great difference between the two governments with respect to fondness for English interests, or attachment to English alliance. And with respect to the colonies, the cortes had unquestionably shown themselves to be the hardest task-masters, and to be more disposed to fix and perpetuate the yoke of slavery than Ferdinand. But the business of the House that night was, not to consider the character of any individual monarch or government, but to consider what was the duty of Great Britain in the pending contest. The House had to determine, first, if the existing laws of the country would enable her to maintain her neutrality; secondly, if the repeal of those laws would leave the power of maintaining that neutrality; and thirdly, if both the former questions were negatived, whether the proposed measure was one which it was fit to adopt. The question was not whether it would be better that we were under no obligation to Spain, but, being under the obligation imposed by the treaty of 1814, whether a dry and strict observance of nominal neutrality was giving her all which, from that treaty, she had a right to expect. Until the hon. and learned gentleman could "rail the seal from off that bond," he could not free England from the obligation which he had described. He (Mr. Canning) might wish there had been no such obligation. The terms of the treaty were however by no means liable to the censure cast on them by the hon. and learned gentleman; for at the time the treaty was executed, the colonies had not assumed an independent character, and therefore could be spoken of in that treaty only as the revolted colonies of Spain. The hon. and learned gentleman had dwelt on the advantages to be derived by Great Britain from the success of the South Americans; but were he even in the emancipated condition of the hon. and learned gentleman: in speaking on this subject, he might nevertheless hesitate to say whether any prospects which the support of the cause of South America held out, ought to induce this country to depart from her neutrality. If the acts of George the 2nd were simply to be repealed, there was no power in the law of this country by which an infraction of neutrality on the part of British subjects could be prevented. Was there, he would ask, any thing incompatible with the spirit of liberty in enabling a government to lay such a restraint on the action of its own subjects as might insure the observance of perfect neutrality towards two belligerents. If there was, how happened it that the hon. and learned gentleman approved so cordially of the proclamation of 1817? In that proclamation, which was the only public act of the British government on the subject, a spirit of strict impartiality had been exhibited. Contemplating the character of that proclamation, what right had any man to infer that the feelings and opinions of government had undergone a change on the subject. The hon. and learned gentleman had cited many instances from history, in which the subjects of this country had been not only permitted but encouraged by the government to enter into the service of foreign states;—and had sometimes even been thereby brought into the field to combat with each other. The fact was indisputable; but the hon. and learned gentleman was not to be told that in respect to military service and enterprise a great change had taken place in the tone and temper and state of Europe since the times of Elizabeth and James 1st. In those times, there was a general thirst for military glory pervading all Europe. The profession of arms, instead of being a duty and task imposed upon the people, was a proud and honourable profession. Since those times a most material alteration had taken place; but it was not the policy of governments, but the temper of the people which had undergone the change. Formerly a spirit of adventurous enterprise was cherished and sanctioned, which would not now be deemed justifiable. The usages of modern Europe did not recognize such proceedings as those adverted to by the hon. and learned gentleman. It surely could not be forgotten that in 1794 this country complained of various breaches of neutrality (though much inferior in degree to those now under consideration) committed on the part of subjects of the United States of America. What was the conduct of that nation in consequence? Did it resent the complaint as an infringement of its independence? Did it refuse to take such steps as would insure the immediate observance of neutrality? Neither. In 1795, immediately after the application from the British government, the legislature of the United States passed an act prohibiting, under heavy penalties, the engagement of American citizens in the armies of any belligerent power. Was that the only instance of the kind? It was but last year that the United States passed an act, by which the act of 1795 was confirmed in every respect, again prohibiting the engagement of their citizens in the service of any foreign power; and pointing distinctly to the service of Spain, or the South American provinces.—The hon. and learned gentleman, he was sure, was not one of those who would exclaim, "Aye, but America had good reason for acting as she did, for she had the cession of Florida in view." What the motives of America were for that proceeding he could not say: he disbelieved in the existence of those which were imputed to her. But, without anticipating the decision of the House that evening, of this he was convinced, that if a similar cession were held out to this country as the price of the bill under consideration, the House would reject the bill with indignation, tainted as it would be by such an offer of advantage. What would be the result if the House refused to arm government with the means of maintaining neutrality? Government would then possess no other power than that which they exerted two years ago, and exerted in vain. The House would do well to reflect seriously on this before they placed government in so helpless a situation. Did the hon. and learned gentleman really think it would be a wholesome state of things that troops for foreign service should be parading about the streets of the metropolis, without any power on the part of government to interfere to prevent it? At that very moment such was the case in some parts of the empire; and he had little doubt but that in a very short time the practice would be extended to London. If a foreigner should chance to come into any of our ports, and see all this mighty armament equipping for foreign service, he would naturally ask, "With what nation are you at war?" The answer would be, "with none." "For what purpose then," he would say, "are these troops levied, and by whom?" The reply of course must be, "They are not levied by government; nor is it known for what service they are intended; but, be the service what it may, government cannot interfere." Would not all that give such a foreigner a high idea of the excellence of the English constitution! Would it not suggest to him that for all the ordinary purposes of a state there was no government in England? Did the hon. and learned gentleman not think that the allowing of armaments to be fitted out in this country against a foreign power was a just cause of war. He knew well indeed that from the exhaustion of Spain we were perfectly secure from hostility in that quarter. That consideration however afforded a complete reply to the taunt that had been thrown out against ministers, that they allowed themselves to be dictated to by Spain. But it was precisely because Spain was weak—because her resentment could be attended with no practical inconvenience—that they were desirous to discharge the duties of neutrality towards her the more scrupulously [Cheers], The maxim of "do unto others as you would they should do unto you," was as applicable to politics as to morals. Did the hon. and learned gentleman recollect the celebrated Mémoire Justificatif which was understood to have been drawn up for the government of the day by Mr. Gibbon, previous to the war with France, during our contest with the American colonies? The language of that document was such, that if it were to appear for the first time at the present moment it might be considered as the memorial of the Spanish ambassador addressed to the government of this country. In that paper it was stated, that agents from our American colonies had endeavoured to penetrate into and settle in the different states in Europe, but that it was only in France they found an asylum, hopes and assistance:—that the French merchants furnished America, not only with useful and necessary merchandise, but even with saltpetre, gunpowder, ammunition, arms, and artillery; and loudly declared that they were assured not merely of impunity, but even of the protection and favour of the ministers of the court of Versailles. "The marks of these facts, which could be considered only as manifest breaches of the faith of treaties, multiplied continually, and the diligence of the king's ambassador to communicate his complaints and proofs to the court of Versailles did not leave them the shameful and humiliating resource of appearing ignorant of what was carried on and daily repeated in the very heart of the country."—If we wished to support the South Americans, because it might be profitable to do so, let us take the manly course adopted by France on the occasion to which he had just alluded; let us fairly come forward and favour the cause of the Spanish insurgents; and let us not think that, because we did not take that manly course, either Spain or any power on earth would believe that the operations now going on in this country were not connived at and encouraged by the government. It was the doctrine laid down by the English government itself that was now on its trial. This country was now called upon to say whether it would act on its own asserted principles. Those acts which the bill under the consideration of parliament tended to repress were acts which in the document put forth by England forty years ago were termed "a manifest breach of the law of nations."—He would appeal to the House, whether, having at the period to which he alluded held this language to France with reference to her conduct towards America, we could now, without the grossest indecency, be guilty of such tergiversation as to say, that, although the French were then wrong we were now right; and that because, forsooth! forty years had elapsed since our declaration, and because we now wished to take a contrary course, on the pretence of strong and ungovernable feeling? Was it possible that we could falsify our own doctrines in so barefaced a manner, and be guilty of such a dishonorable abandonment of principle on the ground of a supposed convenience? Could we with our eyes open suffer such a stain to be put on our national character as thus to act in direct contradiction to our own recorded opinions? If the king of Spain—be he who or what he might—was in any one thing the faithful representative of universal Spain in Europe, it was evidently in the conduct which he observed towards the Spanish colonies. In South American politics, the people of Spain and Ferdinand were identified; and if that monarch should sign and confirm South American independence, he would inevitably lose the affection of his subjects, if he had as many virtues as the hon. and learned gentleman imputed to him crimes.—He was not himself disposed—God forbid! to view without emotion the march of liberty throughout the globe, beating down oppression where it for centuries had reared its almost consecrated head; but whilst such were his feelings in a good and virtuous cause, he could not think of endangering our own invaluable advantages, by suffering an exhibition to take place, perhaps in the very metropolis, revolting to the decency of the nation; namely, the array and ostentatious parade in our streets of ignorant and undisciplined individuals, arming to serve against a foreign power. Did he ask Englishmen to assist in rivetting the fetters of South America? No. He only wished them to allow things to take their own course. It was impossible to suppose that affairs there could be restored to the state in which they were before the contest. That was morally impossible. The causes which were in operation must one day or other produce a result, the expression of which he should restrain himself from indulging in. He was however most anxious that neither the House nor the nation should be deceived either by the show of magnanimity that was displayed in taking up the cause, or by any unfounded notion of the advantage which this country might derive from espousing and forwarding the cause of the Independents. This country saved European Spain: the fact was indelibly recorded in the page of history; but did Spain believe or acknowledge it? England, by her exertions, might establish the liberties of South America; but would the Independents allow that she had done so? No; all the Brentford armies that could possibly be transported from hence to South America, would be considered but as flies on the wheel; and he would prophecy that those deluded men who flocked to that land of milk and honey, full of the idea of the glory they would achieve, and of the rich harvest they would reap, would soon find that all their mighty expectations were groundless, and would return as much disappointed as the statesman who in former times embarked from this country in quest of the El Dorado.—By the constitution of the Independent states (if such they might be called) foreigners were declared to be incapable of holding any offices of honour or emolument in South America. That was the first offspring of the deliberations of a people asserting what were called liberal principles; and it might be taken as a fair sample of the pretensions they had to call on the people of other countries for countenance and aid in their career of liberality. The volumes of private correspondence from that country were open to all. Was there one, he would ask, of our countrymen there, possessing any talents, who had not become an object of jealousy and hatred, who had not been exposed to insulting treatment from his rivals; and who, if found refractory, had not been thrown into a dungeon? With a perfect knowledge of these dreadful and melancholy facts, was government to stand idle, and see these gallant men, deserving a much better fate, hurrying away to experience nothing but hatred, punishment, and degradation? It was a most indispensable duty on the part of government to apply to parliament for the means of stopping the progress of the evil.—A great trade was at present carry- ing on between Jamaica and the adjoining continent. That trade would be placed in jeopardy by the force lately fitted out by sir Gregor M'Gregor. He undoubtedly thought that ultimately there would be a great and gradually increasing commercial intercourse between this country and South America; but to furnish goods with the one hand, while holding the sword with the other, was likely to promote that trade as little as the happiness of the original natives had been improved by the offer of the Bible in the one hand, and the sword in the other.—He was not disposed to take advantage of the argument which might be founded on the character of the Insurgent states. Whether an acknowledged or an unacknowledged power, he would maintain towards South America the strictest good faith; he would cultivate her friendship by every fair and legitimate means; but not by recruiting her armies with our soldiers not by committing a breach of faith towards old Spain He was convinced that if parliament now denied to the executive government the power of maintaining neutrality, instead of accelerating, they would retard the period of a stable and permanent connexion between this country and South America. Ministers did not apply to parliament for this aid until they had tried without effect all the means which were in their power; if they were not now vested with the requisite authority, if before next summer the country should exhibit the scandalous and disgraceful scene of lawless bands of armed men raised for foreign service parading through the streets, let not ministers be blamed; for they had warned parliament of the danger, and had called on them to prevent it. Ministers had done their duty in bringing forward the present measure to maintain the neutrality and honour of the country. If their conduct cast a blot on its character (which might easily be asserted, but which he trusted would be difficult of proof); if they were detected in the abuse of the power entrusted to them by any act of partiality towards either side, it would be competent to parliament to recall that power, and to confide it to others who might be considered capable of exercising it more conscientiously.

Mr. Scarlett

said, that in rising to address the House, he felt the difficulty under which he was placed by the splendid eloquence of the two preceding speeches. He certainly should not have offered himself to the House, had he not been convinced that all the arguments of the right hon. gentleman were inapplicable to the present case. He understood the right hon. gentleman to have acceded to the opinion of his hon. and learned friend respecting the principle of neutrality; and at the same time to have objected to preserve such a neutrality. The right hon. gentleman had called upon the House to enable the executive government to carry into effect the treaty between Spain and this country. If now, after a lapse of five years, it could be shown that a new act of parliament was necessary for this purpose, the House ought to accede to the proposition; but he thought the whole object of this treaty might be effected by the law as it now stood. In the clause of the treaty which referred immediately to this point, Britain engaged to prevent any of her subjects—from what?—not from enlisting in the service of the insurgents, but from sending them arms or ammunition. That the common law of the land was sufficient to carry such a prohibition into effect, could not be questioned. What, then, became of the right hon. gentleman's argument, when he found that a new law was not necessary for this purpose? But it was said, that an additional law was necessary to maintain the neutrality professed in the proclamation. Did the common law say that the king of Spain should not be at liberty to enlist troops in this country, but that the insurgents should? Certainly not; and the prohibition could not be applicable to the one power, without being equally so to the other, unless any statute intervened to prevent the operation of the common law. If any such statutes, framed to meet the particular circumstances of the times in which they were enacted, as was the case with the two statutes of George 2nd; if any such statutes existed, let them be repealed; and then what more could the king of Spain require? If the common law of the land had been found sufficient to preserve neutrality for the last 200 years, how had it been discovered that it was not sufficient now? Admitting it to be defective, there was an easy remedy to be found in repealing the statutes that rendered it so; but ministers wished to interfere with the common law itself. If we had already a law to meet the case, what right had any foreign power to call, on us to enact another law? It had been admitted, that the conduct of Spain did not entitle her to expect any favour at our hands; but then it was urged, that our own good faith called on us to adopt the measure, however unmerited on her part. It was clear that she could not enforce it; but then the House had been reminded, that it would be ungenerous to take advantage of her weakness, and to deny the been because she had not the means of compelling us to grant it. Now, the argument amounted to this—Spain was weak and could not compel it, she was worthless and did not deserve it; therefore our merit was the greater in granting it. He should afterwards show that this law was not only unnecessary for the purpose of neutrality, but that in principle it was directly anti-neutral. The right hon. gentleman had drawn from his own imagination, a picture of lawless bands of troops parading through the streets; but surely the common law could punish that offence. He had listened with the greatest attention to the eloquent speech of the right hon. gentleman; and he had been unable to discover any one argument to show that when these statutes were repealed, any thing more would be required. He maintained that, unless in commercial arrangements, no foreign power had a right to call on another to alter the common law of the land for the purposes of neutrality. The hon. and learned member, after briefly adverting to what had been said of the feeling with which merchants viewed the present measure, and suggesting the propriety of leaving to them to consider their own affairs, in the conduct of which they might not be disposed to consult the right hon. gentleman, concluded amidst loud cheers by again observing, that the present bill would, in every sense of the word, be violating the neutrality which it was proposed to preserve, and destroying those hopes which it was once an object with the British government to excite.

Mr. Serjeant Copley

contended, that his hon. and learned friend had wholly failed in proving the principle with which he had set out; and he appealed to every member, whether the speeches on the other side were not rather appeals to the passions of the House, than arguments against the measure before them. If it were intended to depart from the neutrality which we ought to observe, it would be more fair and candid, and more consistent with the dignity of our national character, to do it in an open and manly manner, than to re- sort to the underhand mode which seemed to be proposed on the other side. The whole measure had originated in the act of the 9th Geo. 2nd, and as it was not denied by members opposite, that that act should be repealed so as to substitute a minor for a capital punishment, the principal question was, whether, if any alteration should be agreed on, it should not be carried on so as to make both the belligerent parties equal; but he contended that if these acts were repealed, the common law would be insufficient, as it did not make any provision for enforcing itself. Suppose the act to be repealed, then he maintained, that the common law would be quite inadequate to prevent the evil which this bill was intended to put an end to, and it would be absurd to suppose that any law should exist which could not be carried into effect. The offence would be committed before any means could be taken to prevent it. As to what Spain might demand of this country, he should say, that if she demanded any thing, it could only be the fulfilment of those treaties which we had contracted with her. She would ask no more; but was it necessary that she should ask, or that we should wait for her to ask, for the fulfilment of those treaties which an accidental slip of our law prevented us from carrying into effect? He maintained, that the measure arose out of the relation of peace in which we stood towards Spain; and without any treaty those relations should teach us a strict neutrality. With respect to the commercial benefits which we might derive from our intercourse with the insurgents, he conceived that they only kept up the intercourse with us because they found it advantageous to themselves; and as long as they so found it, they would continue to hold it, whether the present measure was passed or not.

Mr. Brougham

said, that after the powerfully eloquent, the unanswered and unanswerable speech of his hon. and learned friend (sir J. Mackintosh), a speech which the eloquent declamation of the right hon. gentleman, and the legal arguments and acute logic of the learned serjeant had left altogether untouched, he felt it quite unnecessary to occupy the attention of the House at any length. He felt it the less necessary, as he perceived that even into that House, the force of public opinion had found its way, and the term "insurgents" had not been attempted by any member except the learned ser- jeant. His majesty's ministers had abstained from using the term, which was to him a proof that the strong feeling of the British public (which on this subject had always remained the same) had partly had its effect. He would not found any argument against the present bill upon the loose doctrines advocated—not by him or any of his honourable friends—advocated by no writer which he had read but one, a Swiss, who, from the circumstances of his country, became naturally prejudiced in favour of the right of subjects to enter into the service of belligerent powers in peace with their own. He would say that subjects as well as kings might, on this subject, go as far as the law allowed them. If the law made it a crime to enter in arms against any power in amity with the state —and in this country it was a misdemeanor—that law might be put in operation against the individual so offending. But the learned serjeant had said, that this law was rendered inoperative to prevent the crime, for that it was committed before any step could be taken to counteract it. Why, what was this but admitting that this was like all other crimes, that it could not be punished until detected? If the individual committing it were caught, he would be punished, and his punishment would serve as a warning for others; but if he could not be caught personally within the jurisdiction of any of our courts, then he was outlawed for the misdemeanor in violating the king's proclamation. The effect of this would be, that he would be obliged to remain banished from his country all his life, or if he returned, be exposed to a forfeiture of all his goods and chattels—a punishment which, he should observe by the way, was more severe than that which the bill provided. The present bill was, he contended, not only not declaratory of the common law, but quite repugnant to its principle. If it could be proved to him, that the measure was founded upon any treaty which we had pledged ourselves to fulfil, he would be the first man in the country to support it, let its inconvenience be ever so great, let its injury to commerce be felt however severely; but he denied that any treaty with Spain bound us to such a measure. A treaty had been made which had never received the sanction of the House, and from that it was contended that this measure ought to be brought in; but who had ever heard that a king could by any treaty pledge himself, or those whom he represented, to an alteration of the established law of the land; or that the nation should be bound by it? But he again denied that there was any such law as the proposed one implied by the treaty in question. It went, it was true, to prevent the supplying of arms, ammunition, &c.; but upon this the present bill was wholly silent, while it spoke against the raising of troops or furnishing of money in any manner, of which not one word was to be found in the treaty itself. The hon. and learned gentleman then commented upon several observations which had fallen from the supporters of the bill. He would now propose, if no gentleman on his side of the House should think a different course preferable, to take the sense of the House, not on the question for going into the committee, but after the first clause had been agreed to. In going thus far, the House would show that they were willing to restore the common law to the state in which it stood before the act of the 9th Geo. 2nd was passed, and that they were determined to reject any measure which might tend to alter the law upon the invidious principle of the present bill.

Lord Castlereagh

did not object to the manner in which the learned gentleman proposed to lake the sense of the House, which he thought would be a very convenient one. The repeal of the existing statutes which the gentleman opposite had in view, was not, however, a measure that carried along with it so much fairness as was attributed to it; There was no equity in reverting to the common law, after having acted, with respect to all other powers of Europe for the greater part of a century, on statute law. With regard to the treaty by which it had been asserted we were not bound, it ought to be recollected, that it was laid on the table, along with the other treaties of amity concluded on the restoration of peace; and that on the whole of the arrangements produced by these treaties, the most approving address ever voted by parliament had been presented to the Crown.

The Attorney General moved an instruction to the committee to insert, as an addition to the first clause, words repealing two acts passed by the Irish parliament against foreign enlistments in that country. The House then resolved into a committee, and the first clause was amended, according to the instruction moved by the attorney-general, and agreed to.—On the second Clause, the House divided—For the clause, 248: Against it, 174: Majority, 74.

List of the Minority.
Allen, J. H. Forbes, C.
Althorp, viscount Foley, Thos.
Anson, hon. G. Gascoyne, general
Archdall, gen. Grosvenor, gen.
Aubrey, sir J. Grant, J. P.
Barham, J. F. Gordon, Robt.
Barnard, visct. Graham, S.
Barnett, J. Graham, J. R. G.
Becher, W. W. Griffith, John W.
Belgrave, visct. Guise, sir Wm.
Bennet, hon. G. H. Gurney, H.
Benyon, Ben. Gurney, R. H.
Bernal, R. Heygate, ald
Birch, Jos. Harcourt, John
Brand, hon. Thos. Harvey, D. W.
Browne, Dom. Hill, lord A.
Brougham, H. Honywood, W. P.
Burdett, sir F. Howorth H.
Byng, G. Hughes, W. L.
Burrell, hon. P. D. Hume, Jos.
Bentinck, lord W. Hurst, Robt.
Blandford, marq. of Hutchinson, hon. C.
Burrell, Walter Lawson, M.
Cotes, John Lester, B. L.
Calcraft, J Longman, G.
Calvert, C. Leigh, Thos.
Calvert, N. Lamb, hon. G.
Campbell, hon. J. Langton, W. G.
Carter, John Latouche, John.
Cavendish, lord G. Latouche, Robt,
Cavendish, Henry Lemon, sir W.
Chamberlayne, W. Lloyd, sir E.
Clifford, Aug. Lyttelton, hon. W. H.
Clifton, visct. Mahon, hon. S.
Coffin, sir I. Maberly, John
Colborne, N. R. Maberly, W. L
Coke, T. W. Marryat, Jos.
Coke, T. W. jun. Montague, lord F.
Concannon, Lucius Macleod, Rod.
Dawson, G. Macdonald, J.
Davies, T. H. Mackintosh, sir J.
De Crespigny, sir W. Milton, viscount
Denman, Thos. Martin, John
Denison, W. Merest, J. D.
Douglas, hon. F. S. Mills, G.
Duncannon, visc. Mildmay, P. St. J.
Dundas, hon. L. Monck, sir C.
Dundas, hon. G. Moore, Peter
Dundas, Thos. Morpeth, visct.
Dundas, C. Mostyn, sir T.
Ellis, hon. G. A. Newman, R. W.
Ebrington, visct. Neville, hon. R.
Ellice, Ed. Newport, rt. hon. sir J.
Ellison, C. North, D.
Euston, earl of Nugent, lord
Fazakerley, Nic. O'Callaghan, James
Fergusson, sir R. C. Ord, W.
Finlay, K. Osborne, lord F.
Fitzgibbon, hon. R. Protheroe, Ed.
Fitgerald, lord W. Portman, E.B.
Fitzgerald, rt. hon. M. Palmer, C. F.
Fitzroy, lord C, Pares, Thos.
Parnell, sir H. Thorp, ald.
Peirse, H. Vernon, G.
Pelham, hon. G. A. Westenra, H. R.
Philips, G. Wilson, Thos.
Philips, G. jun. Webster, sir G,
Phillipps, C. M. Williams, sir R.
Primrose, hon. F. Walpole, hon. G.
Ponsonby, hon. F. C. Waithman, ald.
Powlett, hon. W. Webb, Ed.
Prittie, hon. F. A. Western, C. C.
Price, Robert Wharton, John
Pryse, Pryse Wilkins, W.
Rickford, W. Williams, O.
Ricardo, D. Williams, W.
Ramsden, J. C. Wilson, sir Rt.
Rancliffe, lord Wood, Matthew
Ridley, sir M. W. TELLER.
Robarts, W. T, Lambton, J. G.
Robarts, A. PAIRED OFF.
Rowley, sir W. Abercromby, hon. J.
Russell, lord G. W. Astell, W.
Russell, lord J. Baring, sir T.
Russell, R. G. Churchhill lord C.
Rumbold, C. Curwen, J. C.
Scarlett, J. Fleming, John
Sefton, earl of Grenfell, Pascoe
Smith, Saml. Hamilton, lord A.
Smith, W. Hochepied, G. De
Smith, G. Maxwell, John
Spencer, lord R. Piggott, sir A.
Stewart, Wm. Smith, hon. B.
Stuart, lord J. Smith, John
Tavistock, marq. of Stanley, lord
Taylor, C. Whitbread, W. H.

The other clauses were debated, and several amendments moved and agreed to; after which the House resumed.