Imatges de pÓgina

The several resolutions were read a first time, and on their fecond reading granting 120,000 men for the navy service.

Sir John Sinclair role and fais, that after a cool and careful deliberation on the subject of the present resolution, he found hiilet countenanced and confirmed by a variety of what he deemed to be cogunt reasons in the opinion lie haud on a late occanon expresled, namely, that the number of seamen proposed to be cinployed during the ensuing year, was by no means called for by the necellary service and exigencies of the ttate. When he confidered the depressed and ruined con-, dition of the enemy's fiect, a tallen condition to which it was reduced by the superior skill and gallantry of Britith seamen, he could not but rest satisfied, that victories fo brilliant and decisive as those which our navy had atehicved, muit render a far less naval force than that hitherto employed fully adequate to every purpose of annoyance and defence. But when he. morcover considered, that our exertions were now to be feconded and invigorated by the co-operation of Rullia, of Turkey, of the Neapolitans, and the Portuguese, which lait power seemed to have been overlooked by the right hon. Genileman (Mr. Pi:1) in his splendid and eloquent harangue on the good dispositions and just expectations of the Confederale Powers, he was further strengthened in the opinion, that a less naval force would be neceisary ; and he was more pariicularly impresied with the necellity of turning the most feri-: ous attention of the House to the labouring lituation of our finances; a situation which pointed out acconomy as the great cbject that thould now engross their exertions, and! their thoughts, not that cold aconomy, as it had been characterised by the right hon. Gentleman, but a vigorous, an effential, and general aconomy, that Mould regulate the expenditure not only of one brarch of the administrative power, but an acononiy which should pervade and purify every department of the Nate. . Ferling, as he deeply did, the neces. fity of this vigorous and general aconomy, it was impoflible for him not to oppose ine rcfolution then before the House.

But he would now ake an opportunity of adverting tv, and animadverting on, the distribution of our naval force, which had been so powerfully, infiftcd on by the right lionourable Gentleman. Upon his point, it was impoflible for him to obtain all the neceflary information, it did not lic within his reach ;. fuch fources, however, as were acceflible to his examination, he had not omitted to consult; and they offered many points which, in his mind, required fome ex


planation. He had carefully perused Steele's list, and thero he observed, that we were rrow in poflifiion of 143 rail of flips of war: of these that 5 were employed in actual fervice; that 28 were fitting out, or refitting, in the different parts, and that no less than zo fail of the line were actuaily employed as guard-thips: and low 30 lail of the lite fhould thus be cooped up in a state of inerinefs that only accumu: lated idle expence, was what he could not think of without regret, and what loudly called for the most serious consideration of the well-williers to economy. He was the preceding day charged withi holding opinions of a singular nature; but the more he considered them the less he faw grounds for charging them will fingularity. What he advanced was, iliat a greater number than that called fri last year, viz. 110,000fcapien, was not neceilary for the fervice of the ensuing year: in this opinion, he was countenanced by the lenintents that were then expreiled by a reípecable and well informed member of that House, not new prelunt: lie meanı Mr. Iuf fev - Here the Speaker called the dr. Baroner to urderand if 10,000 additional Teamen were now to be voted, it would only be acting in defiance of a recorded and unaninous opinion of the House, which last year decided that 110,000 were fully competent to the service. Nor did he hetate again to affert, and that in the hearing of gentlemen who were well acquainted with the affairs of bat périex, that surely a greater na al force was not now called for, uhan was judged neceffary at the clore of the American war. Then not more than 110,000 men were judged necelary, ye!

the force of the combined hostile fleets were then climated at one hundred and forty fail of the line. But the enemy did not now poffefs seventy fail of effective thips: there was therefore nothing like the same number now necessary on our ficle, and were the House to vole a supply of naval force in proportion to the now existing force of the enemy, they could not well exceed fifty fire Mhips. If there were those in the Honfe who felt fincerely delirous of promoting the cause of economny, now was ihe iromeni to evince that ferious defire, and to begin the urgent works of economy, where is might most safely and auspiciously bc hegun--The favourite part of our executive system, the naval department.

There were points upon whicir he would beg leave now hortly to touch, and upon which were principaliy grounded his realons for opposing the preferit refolution - And first, on a fuppofition of a peace being speedily concluded ; Secondly,



on the idea that the War might be protracted for some years longer ; and thirdly, on the opinion that a Continental War was likely to recommence. Should peace be speedily concluded, what would be the result? We now have 120,000 seamen, and 400,000 soldiers in pay; but our peace

establishment would not amount to more than 30,000 leamen, and 50,000 soldicrs : immediately therefore upon the conclusion of peace, we would have to discharge at once the immense force of 99,000 seamen, and 350,000 soldiers. But wise and prudent policy had always made it a rule sa discharge such an enormous force as that mentioned, not in a mafs, but in certain proportions, and this morcover the state of the country seemed to require; for he knew the country had lately experienced a scarcity of useful labourers, elpecially for the important part of agricultural pursuits, and this, it was clear, must prove highly injurious to its dearest and most essential interests. Secondly, frould a war with France continue for a length of tine longer, would not wildom and experience suggest the propriety of then carrying on the war upon as reduced a scale as poilible ? ' For the resources of every country, however flourishing in appearance, are well known to be bounded, such at lealt as depend upon the usual means of public credit and taxation ; and how cautious should we not be to guard against exhausting ours to the last drop, by a blind and improvident profufion, This caution was hinted and enforced by an old poliiscal maxim ; a maxim wise as it was old, that exhaufto arario en imminente calamitate cavendum erat republica deferetur ; and great indeed were the calamities that must be created by public profusion, and that naturally arise from an exhausted exchequer : and in the third case, if a general war is renewed, should not our naval and o: her establilhments be proportioned to the encreased pressure which the enemy might feel; for while France and her Government are neceffarily distracted by a continental contest, and her force divided, and consequently weakened, would it not be then the plan of a prudent government to curtail those expences which a state of less imminent danger and of encreased security would no longer render of indifpenfible neceility? On these grounds and arguments the Honourable Baronet thought himself justifica in his oppofition to any encrease of unnecela sary burthens, and now was the time for him and every friend to the national prosperity, to make a liaus on the ground of eflentiai economy. That our eltablidhmeriis might be reduced by five millions yearly was offered to be proved last year by an Honourable Baronet deeply converlant with our financial affairs ;' and in this opinion he was seady to coincide. Indeed no honour or reward, however ample or fplendid, that could be bestowed on Adiniral Lord Nelson for his immortal services, could impress upon the mind of that gallant officer a more lively and folid fatisfaction, or which he would regard as the more precious fruits of his ever memorable viđory, than to be permitted to fee that it tended to prevent his country from being overburdened and opprefled. In these wishes and endeavour's for the adoption of a system of economy, he was resolved to persevere, and he would take every opportunity to exert them as be. came a Member of that House in animadverting upon the situation of public affairs, and the conduct of those to whofe guidance they were entrusted. ?

Mr. Thomas Wallace said he could by no means agree in opinion with the Hon. Baronet who had just sat down, not* withstanding the declaration he bad made, that his fentiments upon the present question were the refult of a cool and cares ful examination. He could not help saying, that he was astonished at seeing the Honourable Baronet perfift in his opposition ; for had he confidered, as he says he has, the conduct of the department which fome Gentlemen had been pleased to compliment, he might perhaps have discovered that the compliment was not undeserved; in saying this he did not arrogate any part of it to himself; but on the conduct of those who were more nearly engaged in that department, he did not see that there could attach any blame; even if their exertions had not been crowned with the brilliant fuccess that had lately attended them. Thofe who were at the head of the Admiralty were known to pay the closest atten-,', tion to their department, and surely the Honourable Baronet might do them the justice to suppose that they were not unacquainted with what was competent to the naval service. They were also as warmly disposed to the exercise of economy as any defcription of Gentlemen in that House could be, and with every difpofition to economy, they felt that they must press the supply now demanded, because they knew it to be necessary, and if subsequent events should allow them to diminish it, they would be as forward as the Honourable Baronet to improve the opportunity. In the case mentioned by the Honourable Baronet for attempting a reduction of our naval establishment, he supposed he alluded to the conVOL. I. 1798.



sequences of Lord Duncan's Victory ; our naval force, it was then fupposed, might admit of some reduction; the reduction was proposed and objected to ; it afterwards however took place, and what was the consequence-Did not this attempt at economy prove unwise or unsafe, and a few months afterwards was not an application made to Parliament for an addition of ten thousand seamen more? This part

of the bufiness'the candour of the Honourable Baronet has thought fit to suppress; but if he argued on the same principle, that a reduction should be made this year in confequence of Lord Nelson's signal victory, and if the reduction were made and afterwards repented of, what would be the language of the Honourable Baronet? Would he not then fay, Did you not recollect what happened last year! or, Why did you not benefit by experience? The Honourable Baronet is also very pointed in his disapprobation of keeping thirty ships of the line as guardthips. Whether he has confidered this point with the same degree of coolness and caution it was rather difficult to say, but the reasons of his difapprobation he has thought unnecessary to explain. But these reasons it might be allowable perhaps to guess at. Does not the Hononrable Baronet diapprove of this part of the service merely because he regards the ships so employed, as keeping a number of men in a state of inertners, who might be applied to a service of greater activity? But, perhaps the Honourable Baronet did not know, or recollect, that these thips were of the utmost utility to those on more active service ; they served as rendezvous and depots for the new raised men, who were from thence distributed among the other thips in proportion as they stood in need of hands. For his part, therefore, he could see no possible benefit that could arise from this or any other reduction in the naval establishment : on the contrary, he felt that any reduction iuft be attended with serious and real inconvenience. The Honourable Baronet speaks of our naval establishment at the close of the American War. One hundred and ten thousand seamen were at that time voted, though the enemy's force was then greater than that of France is now. But what was the conduct of Parliament after the glorious victory won by Lord Rodney on the 12th of April, 1782 ? Did they not follow up the advantages resulting from that memomorable day, not by taking away, but by adding ten thousand feamen to their previous eftablishment ! In every war it was prudent to place our navy on a respectable fooling, and not


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