Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

139]

26 GEORGE HI.

measure, will never allow me to put the
event of the latter upon a contest with the

a

was not tall, well-looking men who always
did the best service in the field.

S

1

former. I am convinced of the necessity
of every possible saving; I know how en-
feebled and exhausted we were by our
ill-conducted efforts and corrosive jobs
last war; and that this nation can never
rear her head again under the pressure of
our present debt. I will not therefore
opiniate this measure, nor be for rejecting
a great national security for its present
defects. I am convinced that so wealthy
and well-cultivated a country can alone
be defended by the spirit and number of
its inhabitants; and I trust, that as the
danger augments, the sense of their duty
will operate as long as the form and the
example of the militia exists, they can
neither be slaves to any foreign or do-
mestic power; and when this national and
constitutional establishment fails, I am asing, that at the time of its institution the

a

:

The Duke of Manchester professed him exercise 7,000 every
self a sincere friend to the militia, and end, the first 21,000 if
rejoiced that the ill-grounded jealousiested and exercised. Dis th
which had prevailed in the army respecter own homes at that b
ing it were done away. He had attended begin upon the second
several meetings where a number of mem00 to be trained and
bers of both Houses, and other gentlemen as before. Thus the t
of the militia, assembled for the purpose the country would be no
of discussing the question, how the militiae under the present
could be rendered most serviceable; and would not have to pay p
their uniform opinion was for calling the 4000 at once, and yet h
whole body out every year and training of a right to the d
them. He wished therefore that this idea opon any emergency. f
had been adopted.
at the militia to be a de-
most desirable to be pre-
was the best defence
bit of the constitution.
nation was so defenceless, and so panicely, for that reason, the
struck, that it knew not where to look to apply economy to.
either for attack or defence, till the people, sy was to prevent a war, t
roused by their danger, and ashamed of the country in a state of
standing indebted for their safety to the be wiser, therefore, and
Hanoverians, turned out and took up arms.16 treble the militia, than
to defend themselves. From that period at mumbers. What was it
the militia had flourished; and as the but the being able to wage
country gentlemen had acted with the Be strongly armed and
ardour of Englishmen, anxious for thead battle would not be
their liberties, he had no doubt but the sand well disciplined, and

The Earl of Hopetoun reminded the
House of the origin of the militia, observ

confident that no other can be formed
equally safe, salutary, and efficient.

1

The Duke of Richmond agreed, that to have the use of arms learnt as universally as possible, was a very desirable thing; and thought likewise that discipline was carried a great deal too far in the

C

S

militia. It was in vain, however, to com

plain of substitutes, since the militia must
necessarily be, for the most part, an army

aary fit for sea,

preservation of constitution of

a continuance of peace.

er

That there some
corps remarkably well disciplined, was
undoubtedly true; indeed, the noble vis-
count's objection to the militia colonels
wishing to have their ranks filled with the
able-bodied men, appeared to him rather

order of the people being
ing in the use of arms, it

Earl Stanhope remarked, that the Bill
had two distinct objects: one was to save

Many rustics, their lord

too confined. The object of the Bill was 28,000, the other to alter the customary on inquiry, knew no more
clearly economy, and the single question period of service of the militia, and to call its use, than of a reflect-
effect such a saving as the Bill professed, and exercised. In regard to the latter read a second time, and

out only two-thirds of them to be trained

was, whether it was right to endeavour to

committed.

or not? That the militia ought to be pro-
perly supported was a point not to be
disputed, and he should conceive that it

object, it was endeavoured to be attained
in a way the most absurd; and it would be
extremely easy to prove that, by proper

siast Mr. Hastings

plan. The Bill was a bill of experiment, better answered than by the means pro- alluded to the lateness of
might be supported upon the proposed care, both economy and utility could be Call of the House.] June!

and as such he hoped it would pass.

Viscount Townshend begged leave to
remind the noble duke, that he had not
complained of there being fine tall men in
the militia, but merely of those men being

posed by the Bill. What was it which
the Bill enacted? That all the men should
be ballotted for first, and that only 21,000
should afterwards be ballotted for to be
trained and exercised; so that, in fact,

the slow progress the
Mr. Hastings were
which rendered him appre-
wid be impossible for the
rough the whole of the

continued in it on account of their tall- the real militia in actual service would be present session. He should

was the general wish, postder, or such parts of them dought proper.

Rey thought it impossible the whole in the present

ness, to the exclusion of others. He was
ready to admit, that, in general, stout men
could bear more fatigue than little men,
and were therefore fitter for soldiers; but
he had seen in Germany, in the Dettingen
year, a regiment of short, scrubby, punchy,
ill-dressed and mean fellows in the Aus-

Debate in the Lords

[140

knew the use of arms, when the day of
battle came, convinced all present, that it

militia would continue to deserve the high
character to which it was entitled.

no

What

more than 21,000: the one-third
would prove merely a militia roll.
was this, but putting the nation to a great
expense to very little purpose? whereas
nothing could be more easy than to have
a militia of 42,000 men at the same
expense which it would cost to have a

ballot 21.000 militia-p
re years, let the men th

x years service. At in lot 21,000 more: call ha

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

i

[ocr errors]

I

Be said, there could be

trian service, who, though they scarcely militia of 21,000, as this Bill proposed the delaying a part of the

At

proceedings till the next session; but, as the body of charges contained three more immediately important, and as one of those had been carried for Mr. Hastings and another against him, he thought it right, if the third were carried against him, that the House should proceed to the end, because, otherwise a disagreeable impression might remain against him.

Mr. Duncombe thought it might be for the convenience of Mr. Hastings, as well as of the House, to defer the proceedings.

His plan was this: ballot 21,000 militia-
men, and instead of five years, let the men
be ballotted for six years service.
three years end ballot 21,000 more: call
-out and train, and exercise 7,000 every
year. At three years end, the first 21,000
would be all trained and exercised. Dis-
Liss them to their own homes at that
period, and then begin upon the second
21,000, taking 7,000 to be trained and
exercised every year as before. Thus the
actual expense to the country would be no
more than the expense under the present
Bill, as the country would not have to pay
for more than 21,000 at once, and yet
would be in possession of a right to the
service of 42,000 upon any emergency.
His lordship stated the militia to be a de-
scription of force most desirable to be pre-
served, as it not only was the best defence
of the country, but of the constitution.
The militia was surely, for that reason, the
very last service to apply economy to.
The best economy was to prevent a war,
and to keep the country in a state of
peace. It would be wiser, therefore, and
better economy, to treble the militia, than
to diminish its numbers. What was it
secured peace, but the being able to wage
powerful war? Be strongly armed and
ready for battle, and battle would not be
offered. Have a navy fit for sea, and a
militia numerous and well disciplined, and
we might ensure a continuance of peace.
As to the lower order of the people being
at present knowing in the use of arms, it
was a mistake. Many rustics, their lord-
ships would find on inquiry, knew no more

The Earl of Surrey remarked, that the party accused could not be supposed to have any wish so much as for a speedy decision; but should Mr. Hastings and his friends be ever so desirous of coming to a conclusion with the business, it would be impossible for them to be gratified; for it was probable the House would be prorogued before they could possibly get through the whole of the charges.

Major Scott said, that the House must be convinced, that Mr. Hastings could have but one wish, viz. that not a moment's delay should take place, but that the charges should be gone through this session. Speaking for himself, as an Englishman, he declared, that it would be a glaring injustice to Mr. Hastings to postpone the business to another session; but, speaking as a member of parliament and an Englishman, who had the honour and welfare of his country at heart, as connected with the East India Company, he would go farther, and would declare it to be his deliberate and solemn opinion, that the fate of the British empire in India de

of a musquet and its use, than of a reflect-pended upon a termination of Mr. Hasting telescope. ings's impeachment during the present ses

The Bill was read a second time, and sion. He implored the House to consider ordered to be committed. what was the state of India, at the present moment. Did the House know that we had intelligence from India of four months and six days date only? He had conversed with gentlemen of honour and undoubted information, who left Calcutta in February last; and from all he had heard, he was confident that our existence as a nation in India, actually depended upon this single circumstance, whether the inquiry into the conduct of Mr. Hastings was finished or not before the prorogation.

Mr. Hamilton contended, that it was the highest injustice to stop the course of the proceedings contrary to the wish of the party accused: he should, therefore, move for a call of the House, and would by no means consent to any postponement of the business.

Proceedings against Mr. HastingsMotion for a Call of the House.] June 16. Mr. Burke alluded to the lateness of the session, and the slow progress the proceedings against Mr. Hastings were likely to make, which rendered him apprehensive that it would be impossible for the House to get through the whole of the charges in the present session. He should therefore, if it was the general wish, postpone the remainder, or such parts of them as the House thought proper.

Sir M. W. Ridley thought it impossible to go through the whole in the present

[session.

Mr. I. H. Browne said, there could be no objection to the delaying a part of the

A

Mr. M. A. Taylor shewed the impossibility of the House being able to go through the whole of the business this session, and strongly contended for the postponement. Mr. Fox professed himself a warm friend to a call of the House, if an effectual call could be moved, because it certainly was a most desirable matter for the House to go through the whole of its duty respecting Mr. Hastings during that session. If gentlemen would not attend, the fault was theirs ; but it certainly would not be proper to proceed in so extremely important a business in thin Houses.

Major Scott returned his sincere thanks to the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Fox), who had talked of proposing a call of the House. He sincerely hoped that such a measure would be adopted-the fate of India depended upon it, and he trusted that the right hon. gentleman did not coincide in opinion with an hon. gentleman (Mr. Sawbridge), that the sooner we lost India the better. If he did, he could not pursue a more effectual mode than to postpone the business to another session.

Mr. Pitt observed that, perhaps it might be impossible to go through the whole of the charges; but certainly, after that relating to the princesses of Oude had been decided, the remaining nineteen could not take up so much time as the three others had done, and therefore, it would be right to go on as fast as possible, and, by all means, to proceed in the Oude charge: but whether they should proceed any farther in the present session or not, the whole of the evidence, at least, ought to be closed before the prorogation.

It was accordingly agreed that the consideration of that charge should come on, upon the ensuing Friday.

which could be urged, was, the inconve nience that might be felt by individuals but when the insignificance of that objec tion was opposed to what was due to the feelings of a persecuted and accused man he hoped the justice of the House, and a regard to their own dignity and character would induce them to support his motion a motion which he declared he brought for ward in behalf of one whom he had never seen but at the bar of the House. He reasoned on the circumstances in which Mr. Hastings stood, declaring that he had spent the best part of his life in the service of the public, in one of the most distinguished situations a subject could fill; and that on every consideration, it ought to be ascertained whether the only return which he was to receive for his services was censure and infamy. If Mr. Hastings were ultimately to be deemed criminal, let him be proved such, and then be punished; but let condemnation precede punishment, and his punishment not be suspense. To a speedy decision Mr. Hastings was entitled, and for that purpose he should conclude with moving, "that the House be called over upon this day fortnight."

June 21. Mr. Hamilton rose to make the motion for a call of the House, agreeably to the notice which he had given. He began with stating, that he had expected the assistance of a right hon. gentleman (Mr. Fox); but, notwithstanding his absence, he should persevere in his purpose, determined as he was to bear all the odium and unpopularity that might attach to it. It was needless for him to take up much of the time of the House in justification of the propriety of his resorting to the only means of enforcing a full attendance, with a view to go on with the charges against Mr. Hastings, so as to finish them in the course of the present session. The only objection to his motion

Mr. Dempster seconded the motion. Mr. Sheridan stated his reasons why he should give it his negative, being persuaded, notwithstanding the hon. gentleman's determination to bear all the odium and unpopularity of it, that whoever did support it, would find some share of the odium incurred by calling gentlemen back to town, after they had gone into the country and made their arrangements for the summer, fall upon them. He begged leave to justify his absent friend (Mr. Fox), which he would do, he said, by stating what his meaning was, in order to shew that he had not pledged himself to second a motion for a call, unless it could be made appear that the call would be effectual. He repeated that part of Mr. Fox's argument on Friday, in which he had declared, that it would be a most desirable thing to go through the whole of the charges that session, if it were practicable to obtain such an attendance as ought to be present in the discussion of matters of such infinite importance. A word had fallen from the hon. gentleman which required some notice. . Perhaps he had used it accidentally, and without meaning to convey any improper insinuation by it. If he had, he would be so good as to say as much. But if he

*

really meant it in its ordinary sense, he believed the House would agree with him, that pending an inquiry before parliament into the public conduct of Mr. Hastings, it was not very decent language, nor language that would be endured within those walls, especially after the vote the House had so recently come to upon the subject. The hon. gentleman had said, he stood up in the behalf of a persecuted and accused man. That Mr. Hastings was an accused man was true, but in what was he a persecuted man? He would not endea vour to argue that he was not persecuted, because if the hon. gentleman alluded to the vote on the charge relative to Benares, be sat near several of Mr. Hastings's persecutors, who could much better justify their vote, than it would become him to attempt to do for them. Neither the cause of substantial justice, the reasonable claims of Mr. Hastings, nor the dignity and character of the House, would be better served and satisfied, by going on with the charges without interruption, than by postponing the remainder of them till the next session. On the contrary, he contended that they would all of them be far less satisfied. He observed, that it was necessary not only to have a full attendance, but also that gentlemen should attend with that sort of temper which *. would qualify them for seriously deliberating on the important facts submitted to their consideration. Did the House imagine, whether the call was enforced or not, that gentlemen would after that day attend in numbers, or with a determination to apply their minds closely to the subject? Was it likely, if they proceeded any farther, that they should divide more than 120 or 150 on any one of the remaining charges? Would any gentleman present say, that it 2would be right and decent to go on in that manner, with not a third part of the House 12 present? Would it not expose them to the advantage taken already more than once by an hon. major in respect to the resolustions moved by Mr. Dundas so greatly to le his own honour in 1782? What had been re the hon. major's argument in respect to those resolutions, but that they had been of voted in a thin House? If they proceeded A therefore with the rest of the charges, they in would next session, in all probability, hear be that they had been voted in a thin House. The hon. major, on Friday last, had taken a new ground of argument to urge the So House to proceed with the remainder of the charges. He had positively declared [VOL. XXVI. ]

be

[ocr errors]

his belief, that the fate of India depended on finishing them this year, and that declaration he had rested entirely on dark hints and suggestions, as if recent advices had been received from India, which justified such an opinion. Perhaps, as that hon. gentleman was more in the way of knowing the secrets of India than he was, he had received some news that justified him in his assertion. If so, it would be well for him to state it to the House; but, till he made out a case to prove the fact, that the fate of India depended on finishing the charges that session, all insinuation of that kind must go for nothing. For his part, he had made every possible inquiry in order to learn whether any extraordi nary news had recently arrived from India; and he could hear of nothing extraordinary, but of the receipt of an extraordinary large diamond, said to have been sent to Mr. Hastings, and presented to his Majesty at an extraordinary and critical period of time. It was also a little extraordinary, that Mr. Hastings should be chosen as the person to present this diamond, after the resolutions of 1782 had reached India; especially if, as had been predicted, they had been translated into Persic and all the languages of the East. With regard to any expectation on the part of Mr. Hastings, or any claim that he could be supposed to have upon the House, he could have none but that the House would tinue, as they had begun, solemnly and seriously to investigate his conduct, and after having in due time gone through the charges, come to some ultimate decision upon the whole. Early in the commencement of the session, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had declared, "that it would be exceedingly unbecoming in the House either to continue hearing the charges when a full attendance could not be obtained, or to leave off without first moving a bill to hang up the inquiry, as it were, till the next session, then to be resumed and pursued to its conclusion." At the time of the right hon. gentleman's stating that idea, the hon. major had not offered a word of objection; much less had he said that the fate of India depended on their being gone through this session, or that it would be injustice if they were not. In point of character, Mr. Hastings had no sort of right to complain that he had been injured by the proceedings hitherto, because no person could assert that they were the first arraignments of the character of Mr. Hastings in the House of

con.

[L]

Commons. That gentleman's character | prejudicial to his country or the East India and conduct as governor-general of India Company; but the consequences appeared had been before arraigned in that House. so palpable, that he was astonished they It stood arraigned upon the Journals in did not strike every member. Suppose the resolutions of 1782, wherein every the vote had been upon contracts, or almisdemeanor contained in the charges lowances, or any charges of that kind; he was generally imputed to that gentleman should have thought it a very great hardin the most strong and pointed terms. ship upon Mr. Hastings, had the House With regard to the character and dignity been prorogued, before he had had a full of that House, the best way to support opportunity of being cleared: but there both, was to act evenly and consistently. the mischief would have ended. On the They had hitherto proceeded deliberately, contrary, the decision on the Benares busiand in full Houses, to discuss and decide ness, or rather the half decision, tended upon the charges, and had made a much to destroy all confidence in India, and to farther progress than many gentlemen throw every thing into confusion. For had, at the beginning, imagined it possi- how did it stand? A right hon. gentleman ble for them to do. No delay but what brought in a charge, on which he reprowas unavoidable could be imputed to the bated every step Mr. Hastings took reHouse, nor could any be imputed to his lative to Cheit Sing. This charge was right hon. friend (Mr. Burke), since the supported by a right hon. gentleman (Mr. House could not but have observed, that Fox), who particularly laboured to prove when the witnesses were under examina- this part, that under no circumstances tion, his right hon. friend curtailed it as could we exact military assistance from much as possible, and omitted many ques- Cheit Sing. It was very true that the tions that he intended to have asked, Chancellor of the exchequer (Mr. Pitt) merely to avoid every appearance of a had overturned all the arguments of the wish to procrastinate. Every possible dis- right hon. gentleman, and had taken the patch had been used; they had proceeded charges completely to pieces. But what a considerable way, and it had been ori- was the vote? That in the Benares charge ginally understood, that when they found there was matter of an impeachable nait difficult to procure full attendances, the ture; and the hon. gentleman must know business was to be hung up till the next that that charge, with the vote of the session. House upon it, was at this moment on its way to India, not from this country, but from another, which never for a moment lost sight of her interest. And was there a man who could doubt the uses to which it was possible such a charge and such a vote could be turned? He could wish a map of India were always upon the table of that House, that gentlemen might see to what dangers our possessions might be exposed. He was not alarmed by the news from India, but from the measures pursued here, which tended to destroy all government there, and to establish principles which must undo us. Could there be a second opinion amongst men who read the charge, and the vote upon that charge? And did it not tend to make every zemindar in India independent? Feeling as he did upon this subject, he could not help deprecating any delay.

Mr. Pitt did not look upon the object of those who opposed the motion as any thing else than the postponement of the proceedings till next session. As to the idea of the hon. mover, that Mr. Hastings had a right to demand a speedy determination of the business, he agreed that he

Major Scott said, he was so convinced of the gross injustice and oppression which Mr. Hastings would sustain by a delay of six or seven months, and still more of the extreme danger to which our possessions in India would be exposed by a delay, that he could not avoid entering his solemn protest against every attempt to postpone the decision of the present inquiry. The hon. gentleman had observed, that a short delay could not be of very material consequence to Mr. Hastings, since he had long been arraigned, attacked, and censured by that House in resolutions or reports. The fact was undoubtedly true: he had been attacked and defended by all parties in turn, just as parties had changed in that House; but all parties had occasionally held him out to the public as one of their first and most valuable servants. The more he thought upon that subject, the stronger his conviction was, that we risked an empire in India if we dropped the inquiry in the present moment, after the decision of Tuesday se'nnight. He should be very sorry to say any thing in that House which should be

« AnteriorContinua »