Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Ms. Fot.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

already past, and a fear of similar consequences which might end more fatally, that he had interrupted him where he had. Let gentlemen consider, how important it was to preserve the honour and dignity of the House from such injury as it muft ever receive, when matters were carried to the length that they had been carried to last year; exclusive of the less important, though very serious matter, the chance the House ran of having two of its members lose their lives. It was from these feelings that he had spoken before, and he hoped to God, what he had said, would meet with due attention.

Mr, Fox resumed his argument, and said, he had possibly, he was free to confess, in the heat of debate, frequently tranfgressed the orders of that House, and been often carried farther than he ought to have been; but if saying a thing deliberately, if saying a thing in cool moments, when nothing had happened in the course of a debate which could justify heat and betray a man into resentment, made it worse, or more wrong than it was at any other time, he, in defiance of that conviction, was ready now, seriously, deliberately, and coolly, to repeat what he had before said, and why? – because he was conscious he was perfe&tly in order so to do; and he appealed to the committee, whether he had given the least occasion for the noble lord, or for any other person to call him to order. Every word the noble lord had said, referred to matters of a nature perfectly private, matters with which neither that House, nor any committee of that House, had any concern; matters which fell rot within the scope of parliamentary debate in any sense whatever. He had said before, the very fame words, and to the very same effe&t which he was beginning to repeat, when the noble lord interrupted himn. If it had been wrong, if it had been disor. derly in itself, it was as much fo on the former day when he firft mentioned it, as it could be now, and the former day, in that case, would have been the time to have called him to order upon it. He had before avowed, and he begged leave now to repeat the avowal, that he never in that House meant any thing personal; he never faid a word, which any man had a right to take as an affront to him as a private gentleman, because he never said a word which was intended to carry any such import; as well might the noble lord in the blue ribband fay, when he was arraigning his public conduct as a minifter, that he was affronting and insulting him as a man. The noble lord knew parliamentary

der

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

der better, the noble lord, he saw, had looked to the motion when he had been called to order, and had not the noble lord's good sense and judgment told him that he was speaking ftri&tly to the question, and that he was not disorderly, the noble lord would undoubtedly have risen himself to have called him to order : he therefore should pursue his subject, and he begged once for all, gentlemen would hold in their minds, that he never would be deterred from speaking his sentiments fully and freely in that House, by any dread of consequences personal to himself, consequences which it would be madness for him to wish to incur, or for any man to take pains to draw upon himself. It was therefore in ftri&taess of duty to his constituents, in conformity to his duty as a member of parliament, that he recurred to what he had before laid, and for this good reason, which his honourable friend near him had suggested, that it was not merely fails and mafts, rigging and hulks; it was not merely yards and timber, that made the navy of England; it was the spirit and high sense of honour of its officers; a spirit and a sense of honour which could not exist, but under a proper administration of justice in the admiralty, by a proper distribution of rewards and punishments. How then was the navy to be expected to flourish, when the person convicted of having preferred a false and malicious accusation against his superior officer, and who was barely acquitted when tried by a courtmartial, upon charges exhibited against himself, was promo. ted to a poft of distinction, of honour, and of profit'; and here he begged leave to say, he did not blaine that person; it was the first lord of the admiralty, the Earl of Sandwich, who was alone to blame, who ought to be made the subject of that House's enquiry! What had been said formerly, when the accusation was first preferred against his honourable relation, Admiral Keppel, but that the accuser was the inftrument, the admiralty were the principals ? It was they who suggested, who prompted, who spurred on the accusation? It was attempted to be denied on the part of the admiralty ; but what would inen say to it now, when the accuser, after being pronounced by the sense of one court-martial, á false and malicious accuser, and being barely, not henourably acquitted by another, was rewarded with an office of high honour, of great emolument! What had been the accuser's own sense of his conduct iminediately after the first sentence was pronounced ? Had he not abdicated his seat in parliament? Had he not resigned his feat at the admiralty

EC 2

board? tleman

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ma

board.? Had he not, to borrow a phrase from an honourable gentleman, who spoke early in the debate (and for which he thanked hiin) made a discreet retreat from public notice? His honourable friend below him had asked, why was not Admiral Keppel, Lord Howe, and others einployed ? His honourable friend, from a lapse of memory only, had, he was sure, omitted to mention the name of another great of ficer, who ought undoubtedly to have been employed; he meant Sir Robert Harland. But the motives why these great officers refused to serve, were obvious; they were not, as the noble lord had termed them, private motives; they were public inotives. The reason was, they could not serve with confidence, or with safety, under an adminiftration guilty of H convicted falsehood, and guilty not merely of notorious, but of recorded reachery! This was the reason, the true, the only reason! There were certainly in the service several very worthy and very respectable officers; men, who having no situation like that of his honourable relation, had not the fame risque to run. Men who had no parliamentary connec- ūda tions, no connections which rendered it, in their opinions, likely that ministers should endeavour to ruin them. They had his applause and his thanks for serving, as heartily as that of any other member of parliament; as heartily as he gave his applause and his thanks to Sir George Rodney, to whoin he had so repeatedly declared, and with fiocerity declared, that applause was eminently due. But still no man that wished well to his country, could avoid lamenting, that it was impossible for the great and distinguished characters alluded to by his honourable friend, and alluded to by him, at this moment, of exigency to serve their country; every man that wished weil to his country, could not but most anxiously endeavour to remove that only bar to their service, the present adminiftration! It was, he confessed, the wish of his heart, his constant endeavour todo his country that essential service; and therefore it was, that he hoped after the holidays, the sentence of the fecond court-martial, which had been refused before, might be moved for, when he would move a question for an enquiry into the conduct of the Earl of Sandwich; and he made no fcruple to say, that his first and principal motive for it, was, that the first lord of the admiralty had promoted to a post of

G distinguished honour, an honourable gentleman who had been convicted by a court-martial of having preferred a malicious and ill-founded charge against his superior officer; his secondary motive was, because that the honourable gen

[ocr errors]

DIO

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

D

16

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

10

[ocr errors]

LOL

tleman fo promoted, when tried by a second court-martial, before whom charges had been exhibited against him, had been not honourably, but only barely acquitted. Mr. Fox concluded, after more observations and affertions, with faying, the enquiry was effential to the public, and effential to the navy, and that it ought to be brought on as soon as porfible after the holidays.

Lord North faid, that as the honourable gentleman had Lord Nortb. suggested, whenever an enquiry into the conduct of adıniniftration was brought on, either on the present grounds, or on any other, he would not undoubtedly attempt to parry it by a call of order, -by taking refuge under any form of the House, or by any shift of the question whatever. With regard to the present threatened enquiry, he cared not how foon it was brought on; the sooner the better; he was ready to meet it fully and frankly, to join issue upon it with the honourable gentleman, and go into an investigation of the merits without reserve. The honourable gentleman had declared he refted his reasons for thinking an enquiry necessary, in the present case, principally on the sentence of the courtmartial which tried Mr. Keppel, and in which fentence the person who preferred the charges against Mr. Keppel, was pronounced a false and malicious accuser; as the honourable gentleman meant to bring on an enquiry, he would not go into a very ample discussion of that point now, he would only fay shortly, what he had before faid more at large, and should say more at large again; the court-martial was convened for the purpose of trying Mr. Keppel, and not Sir Hugh Palliser; the court-martial had a regular charge submitted to their confideration and decision against the one, they had no charge whatever before them against the other ; in pronouncing therefore fentence upon the motives of the accuser, they had exceeded the line of their jurisdiction, and had condemned a man unheard, who had no opportunity of trial, no opportunity of entering upon his defence. With regard to the main cause upon which the honourable gentleman had declared his eagerness for an enquiry, viz. the having given Sir Hugh Palliser, accused as he was by the sentence of Mr. Keppel's court-martial, the government of Greenwich Hospital, he was ready to avow his share of the measure, and to defend and support it in that House, or wherever it should happen to be agitated. The honourable gentleman had principally dwelt upon the sentence of the court-martial, and had termed the words of the court-martial

which 4

а

which tried Sir Hugh Palliser, a bare acquittal. He saw the matter in a very different point of view, and he read the fentence under a widely different construction, What were the words of the former part of it?

“ That the court having taken the whole of the evidence into consideration, both on the part of the prosecution as well as in favour of the prisoner, were of opinion, fo far from the conduct of Sir Hugh Palliser, Vice Admiral of the Blue, being reprehensible on the 27th and 28th of July, that in many parts thereof, it appeared exemplary and highly mieritorious.”

If he understood the meaning of the word meritorious, according to its true acceptation, it was, that an officer whose conduct had been declared, after a most strict enquiry into it, to have been highly meritorious, was an officer who deserved reward; and that exemplary conduct meant such conduct as was a proper example for other officers to follow, and a fit object for imitation. Under this, which appeared to him to be the true and natural reading of the sentence, Sir Hugh Palliser was undoubtedly an object of reward, and after his conduct had been declared highly meritorious and exemplary, adıniniftration would have been criininally neglectful not to have given him reward ; this, his lordship emphatically declared, was his opinion of the case; he avowed it fully, and he was ready to stand or fall by it.

Let gentlemen recollect the peculiar circumstances that made Sir Hugh Palliser's acquittal more than commonly honourable to him? Let them call to mind the art that was used to set the public in a flame against him previous to his trial, the great pains that were taken to run him down, to render him the object of universal indignation! Let gentlemen also call to mind, what was the language of even the other side of the House on the subject of his impending trial. What had been said by an honourable gentleman, not at present in the House, but who, his Lordship declared, he understood was soon to come among them again? A gentleman of

great eloquence, and of more than ordinary humanity and benevolence of heart ! “ Don't send Sir Hugh Palliser to his trial! For God's fake have mercy; mens minds are so enflamed against Sir Hugh, that his judges cannot surmount their prejudices. If you send him to trial now, let him be either innocent or guilty, you send him to certain death.” When this language was recollected, surely every dispassionate man, every impartial reader of the fentence,

would

« AnteriorContinua »