Imatges de pÓgina
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The marquis next expatiated on the impiety, cruelty, and injuftice, of the French nation, together with the fate which had attended every action undertaken on fuch principles. The man who was called the conqueror and the hero was defeated and frustrated in all his attempts, from the battle of Aboukir to the fiege of Acre. After fitting down before an inconfiderable and ill-fortified town, which he regularly befieged, he was feen to retreat loaded with difgrace, and completely defeated by a handful of British failors, who, on that occafion, were converted into foldiers, and by the few Turks whom the prefence of our small naval force and the exertions of our gallant officer infpired with courage, which otherwife would never have been difplayed.

After pointing out that Bonaparte had aggregated violations of the jus gentium, and joined extreme injuftice to perfidious breach of hofpitality, he complimented fir Sydney Smith on his spirit and his fuccefs, with a fmall force oppofed to the vain-glorious conqueror of Italy, at the head of an army habituated to victory.

He then called the attention of their lordships to the fate of Tippoo Saib, the bitterest and most perfi. dious foe of Great Britain in Afia, whofe pride had been humbled to the duft, and whofe capital had been taken by our army. He praifed the humanity of the officers and of the troops who directed their attention to the defenceless part of Tippoo Saib's household, after achieving fuch a brilliant victory. He fpoke of the wifdom and magnanimity of lord Mornington, with the conviction of truth and the ardour of friendship. The aftonish ing efforts of the emperor of Ruffia

came next under his confideration; it was to the energy, and, above all, to the fidelity of that illuftrious prince that Europe might be indebted for her deliverance.

His lordship concluded with expreffing his fatisfaction on the union with Ireland-a' measure fo wife and beneficial, that most ranks of people, more particularly the peafantry, and all the lower orders, confidered it as the only means of raifing them from that state of ignorance and poverty in which they were funk.

Lord Amherst rofe:-He faid no perfon was better qualified to speak of the important fervice which the militia had rendered to the empire than the marquis, who had been amongst the first to give animation to their zeal, and borne fo large a fhare in their fervices; nor fhould he prefume to add weight to fuch arguments. But he would endeavour to obviate fuch objections as, in the common intercourse of society, it was impoffible not to hear stated: and first, with refpect to the general state of the defence of this country, and the alleged inconfiftency of offenfive operation with the limited fcale of military exertion, and that of our annual expenditure. Undoubtedly our first object was to hold out as long as the power and enmity of France continued what it was. Undoubtedly the only certain method of fecuring this ability was, to fix our exertions to fuch a point, that, if we should be left to fight the battles of the world, and our own, without affiftance, we might be able to stand the conteft for any period. But though it was indifpenfable that we fhould not exhauft our means, yet, when circumftances opened a profpect of more vigorous exertion on the part of our alies, when the people A 3 whom

whom France had over-run evinced a fpirit of oppofition to their oppreffors, when in the interior of France herfelf was discovered evident fymptoms of debility and diftraction, it would have been a narrow and impolitic adherence to any fyftem which would have forbidden our improving fo favourable a moment; it would have been an illjudged œconomy to have grudged a temporary exertion for the chance of accomplishing our end so much the fooner. The impolicy of Great Britain engaging in a continental war had been stated; if by this affertion were meant, undertaking foreign conquefts for the fake of acquiring territory and dominion on the continent, nothing could be more true; but if it meant that this country could never have its interests so implicated with thofe of other powers as to feel itself effentially concerned in the preservation of the balance of Europe, all hiftory proved the reverse. But it had been further objected, that whatever might be our interefts in the wars of the continent, our physical fituation prevented us from ever taking a part in them. Phyfical circumftances muft, to a certain degree, limit the exertions of every country; but who could draw the line where the power of exertion ends? Who, for inftance, if he had been called upon to estimate the efforts and facrifices of the prefent war, when it began, would not have started at the idea of one half of what actually has been done and borne cheerfully? When the funding fyftem was flaking, fuppofe we had liftened to the prophecies which foretold it must inevitably fall? and yet who would forego the now ascertained advantage of a system of finance, which nothing but the preffure of the times would

have led us to try, or the spirit of the nation enabled to fucceed? When the threat of invafion impended, what would have been the confequence if we had acquiefced in the statement, (true as it was) that we were without an army, and had not the means of internal defence? Yet, at this moment, there was not one fpot around our coast where an enemy could make an impreffion, where he would not be met by an army equalled for its fpirit by few, and excelled by none of the powers of the continent. Who, amongst the political œconomifts of this, or any age, would have believed that the valour of this petty ifland would have been able to withstand the mighty nation which had fubdued and trampled into fubmiffion, or awed into fear, the greater part of Europe? Who, of the grave calculators of phyfical ftrength, would have thought it poffible that we could have made any attempt against their choicest troops, moft skilful generals, and the whole force of their marine, which would not have been fruitlefs? And what was the whole hiftory of the enter prife of the French, from the memorable battle of Aboukir to the almost incredible events of the fiege of Acre, but a feries of proofs of the strength of this country? But ought we to be led afide by the defire of military glory, from the fober and fafe fyftem of our own national fecurity?-Here his lordship expatiated on empires faved, kingdoms restored, hoftile fleets and armies fwept away from the face of the globe by the fingle arm of Great Britain; not from the impulfe of military glory, but the laudable ambition of upholding our own independence with the liberties and independence of all Europe. -There was another prejudice against

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in the ufual form of an echo to it; He made an eulogium on the noble fpirit of the emperor, and the gallant conduct of general Suwarrow; exulted in the defeat of Tippoo Sultaun; our grand fucceffes against the Batavian republic; and, above all, in our entire dominion over the Texel. Under all these circumftances, it was neceffary to increase our forces in Holland. We had already felt the good effects of the measure adopted laft year: it had enabled the king to avail himself of the fervices of the militia in a man. ner which could not have been done without that bill. Another bill, excellent in its kind, had been passed laft feffion, for reducing the number and increafing the regular force. At the prefent time, when the neceffity of employing it defenfively was no longer urgent, and employing it of fenfively might be of fo much ufe, it appeared to him quite fuperfluous to retain more than the original number for the internal fafety of the country, which number was about 30,000. Our gallant militia had been too long confined within the pale of felf defence; and as they had manifefted not only a readiness, but an ardor to ferve their country in any part of the globe, it would be as wife as beneficial to convert all above that number into active regular force, to fupport the cause in which we were engaged. Colonel Elford feconded the motion: he faid it had been tried in Ireland, and the advantages had been indefcribably great: the difcipline and bravery, as well as other military qualities of the militia, were admirable: they had fome advantages over the regular troops in the impreffion which they made upon the enemy; for they came not, like the regulars, to perform a duty in which they might not feel an intereft--no, their A 4

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very appearance proved them volunteers and the enemy was affured that these at least were hearty in the caufe which they advanced to defend, and to them chiefly was owing the fuppreflion of the rebellion in Ireland.

He took a view of the prefent fituation of this country; its favour able afpect reful ed from the wisdom of adminiftration. He advifed all who doubted of our happiness as a nation, to furvey the condition of every other nation. We were now engaged in the most honourable conteft; to regain the liberty of a large number of our fellow beings, and to promote the tranquillity of a large portion of the world; and he truited that divine Providence, which had for fome time patt favoured our efforts, would lead us through all our difficulties to a happy termination of them.

He adverted, laftly, to our negotiations for peace, baffled as they had been by the perfidy of our enemies; we therefore were obliged to employ force to accomplish what conciliation could not effect-that of uniting all orders of people in this country against the common adverfary of focial order.

Mr. Jolliffe, after congratulations on our fuccefies, made fome remarks on compelling the militia to ferve abroad: he thought it an ungrateful return to thofe gentlemen who had devoted their time to the fervice of their country, who had expended arge funs in forming their regiments, not only to be an ornament, but an honour to it, that they should be converted into commanders of mere recruiting parties, and drillers of new men to be enlifted into the line. Were the new militia regiments allowed to vo lunteer in corps, or were they or dered abroad as the line are, there

was fcarcely an officer whowo uld not gladly accompany them whereever he might be deemed useful: but who in future would raise regiments, if, as soon as the men were raifed, they were to be abolished, their men taken from them, and the officers difmiffed? When the bill was brought forward, he should trouble them with his opinion more at large.

The addrefs was then agreed to. Though the oppofition on this occafion appeared but faint and trivial, yet the following day (September25,) an attempt was made, which, had it fucceeded, could fcarcely fail to have embarraffed the minifter.

Mr. W. Plumer rofe to exprefs his idea of the propriety of enforcing a call of the house; and in contemplating the magnitude and importance of the meafure which was to be brought forward in the course of a week, he could not but have expected, he said, that the chancellor of the exchequer, or some other gentleman near him, would have moved it. He was aware that the motion was unpopular, but he could not (confiftent with the duty which he owed his country) avoid making it not that he disapproved of a bill which was to reduce the militia to its original number; but if its object were (as he feared) to procure a fresh recruit of men for the fervice of Holland, it would be highly to the credit, and ultimately to the fatisfaction of minifters, to have the houfe called; it was a measure of the greatest importance and most delicate confideration. A continental war was a fpecies of conteft by no means favourable to the wishes of the people; and when it was in agitation precipitately to fend large bodies of troops abroad, it was the interest of the minister to

obtain the fan&tion of as many country gentlemen as poffible. If it were objected, that the adoption of fuch a motion would create a delay injurious to the defign, he could only anfwer, that the fubject was, in itself, of fuch vaft importance, that it ought to be delayed till the fenfe of the whole legiflative reprefentation was taken upon it.

Mr. Jones feconded the motion: he confidered the call of the house as abfolutely neceffary: the reafons for it appeared to his mind fo forcible, that he was perfuaded no one could with propriety reject them; and however difagreeable it might be, to bring gentlemen from their country affairs and diversions, on fuch an occafion it was indifpenfably neceffary.

Mr. Buxton affirmed, that the queftion concerning the militia had been minutely and amply difcuffed the laft feffion: the benefits that had arifen from its adoption were universally acknowledged to be great, nay, fignal beyond expectation. If then there was no call of the house when the measure had novelty to attract examination and provoke cenfure, he could not fee its neceffity at prefent, when its merits had fo clearly been afcertained by experience. He felt no fmall degree of fatisfaction in observing the numerous attendance on the preceding day; it proved the folicitude of the country refpecting the transactions of public affairs, and the promotion of public intereft. Yet allowances ought to be made for the avocations and duties which, at this feafon, detained gentlemen at their country refidences: he therefore must repeat, as there was nothing novel in the measure which occafioned this early convocation of parliament, neither was there any neceflity which prescribed the enforcing a call of the house.

As a continental war had been mentioned, he would just remark that this ought not to be confidered as fuch its object was not to protect or fecure any continental ally in the recovery of continental territory, but it was a war neceffary to our own exiftence. The fafety of this country required the reftitution of Holland to its ancient government, therefore it ought to be regarded as undertaken in our own defence.

Mr. Pitt was surprised at a motion calculated to produce so much inconvenience to individuals, and to retard the public business, which required difpatch. Lefs argument in fupport of any motion he had never heard: if the principle were established, that whenever his majefty exercifed his royal prerogative by calling the parliament together within a fhorter period than ufual, the urgency of the bufinefs for which he fo convened it was to be used as an argument in fupport of a call of the houfe; the confequence would be, that those measures which were to be carried into effect at a fortnight's notice would be delayed another fortnight, and the purpose totally counteracted. The very act of exercising this prerogative, by convoking the parliament at a time inconvenient for many of the members to attend, was, in itself, that fpecies of fummons likely to bring a fuller attendance than any call of the houfe, by implying the importance of the measure to be difcuffed. For thefe reafons he oppofed the motion.

Mr. Tierney faid, he fupported it with the highest fatisfaction: it had been his intention to have brought it forward himself, but, upon confideration, he thought he fhould more effectually serve the caufe by waiting to fee whether fome perfon of more experience

than

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