Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

1

ground, and that was the light in which he had always conlidered himself. The single thing he had to reproach himself with was, his letter to the admiralty immediately after the affair of the 27th of July. That letter did not contain the real sentiments of his heart. His secretary knew what he said to be true ; his secretary was ready to take his oath in any court in the kingdom that the letter which he first wrote, and that which he sent to the admiralty, were widely different. The first contained his genuine sentiments, dícated by those feelings which arose from an immediate conviction of the consequence of the governor of Greenwich-Hospital's conduct. The second gave him more trouble than any matter he had ever engaged in. His friendship, his good-nature, the regard which he then had for the governor of Greenwich Hospital, his opinion of that officer's gallantry, all got the better of his justice, and the truth was, after altering and altering the letter, he made a tad piece of work of it; he could only say, he would never fall into a similar error.

The admiral said farther, that before he had heard the speech of the noble Lord in the blue ribbon, and the long detail read by the governor of Greenwich-Hospital, it was his intention to have said something relative to the immediate business of the day. What had fallen in the course of the debate had drawn his attention another way. With regard to what had been said by his honourable relation near him, relative to the convicted falfhood and the recorded treachery of the firft lord of the admiralty, he believed the first lord of the admiralty was so far liable to the imputation, that he was capable of being guilty of just as much treachery as any man could practise without rendering himself liable to a trial in a court of law, and incurring a legal punishment. This opinion, though justified by personal experience on his part, was by no means a new idea. His honourable relation near him had, in confequence of his entertaining this idea, cenfured him for taking a command under the present adminiftration, when he, from a wish to serve his country in an hour of difficulty, which ever had, and ever would weigh with him above all private or personal confiderations, engaged to go out on board the Victory. His honourable relation had told him in direct terms, that the admiralty board was not to be trusted, that the presiding lord would first deceive and then betray him. His honourable relation's advice he had originally paid less attention to, than he generally did, to every thing which came from the fame quarter; be VOL. XVIII,

imputed

a

[ocr errors]

was.

imputed it at the time, partly to overzeal for his honour and his intereft, and partly to want of sufficient confidence in those under whom he was to be employed. Experience however had proved it to be true, and whatever colour the admiralty might artfully have contrived to put upon their conduct hitherto, what had passed in the House that day, would open the eyes of the pub'ic, and shew the fact as it

An honourable friend of his, had spoken early in the debate, and asked, why were not certain admirals whom he had mentioned by name, employed ? He was ready to join in the fame question. As to himself, he thanked his honourable friend for the respectful manner in which he had alluded to hiin, but his ferving again under the present adminiftration was out of the question; it was impossible : but he could not but ask why Sir Robert Harland, and other officers, men every way his fuperiors in professional skill, were unemployed. He meant neither disrespect nor disparagement to those on board the fleets; many of them he knew to le brave worthy men, but without naming particular persons

, he would take upon him: to say, that there were abler officers now on shore than at sea, and he challenged the whole board of admiralty to controvert the assertion; he would enter upon the comparison immediately, and would undertake to pair them, if his challenge should be accepted.

The honourable John Townshend rose immediately after Fobn Town. Admiral Keppel, and said, he was at a loss to determine in friend,

what light he was to consider the long manuscript read to the committee by the vice-admiral opposite to him; at one time he had been induced to regard it rather as an address than a speech, but then, though clearly it was not the latter, it did not directly fall within the description of the former ; of such addresses at leaft, as generally were fent up to St. James's from that House in answer to a speech from the throne ; all those addresses were entitled huinble addresses, an epithet, which certainly had no relation either to the matter read to the House by the vice-admiral, or the manner, in which that matter was recited. Again, an address of the Houfe in answer to a speech from the throne, was generally considered as an echo to the speech ; now the vice-admiral's address was clearly written previous to his honourable friend's Mr. Fox's] speech of that day, to which, by the vice-admiral's introductory words he meant it to apply. It could not therefore be considered as an echo to that speech, unless it was admitted under an Irish construction, and was allowed

Hon.

to

to be an echo to a speech before it was made. He was perfuaded, however, that had the vice-admiral heard his honourable friend's speech, or known what he meant to say upon the occafion, previous to his having his address committed to paper, the address he had read would not have been the reply he would have thought fit to make to his honourable friend's argument. The vice-adıniral's conduct had surprized him extremely, nor could he solve it by any of the common rules of reasoning ; his honourable friend, in answer to the very extraordinary interposition and interruption which the House had witnessed, had declared his intention of exercising the freedom of debate in its true sense, viz, that of avoiding personal offence, and at the same time of supporting and maintaining the undoubted right of every member of that House, to discuss matiers of public authority, matters of public record, without reserve. He for one, cordially and heartily subscribed to his doctrine, and he meant, in his future parliamentary conduct to adhere to it in its fullest extent. The trials of Admiral Keppel and Sir Hugh Palliser, and the respective sentences passed upon those two officers, were matters of public record, and as such, he should, without meaning to offer the least personal offence to either, advert to with the utmost freedom as often as the subject should come under discussion either within those walls or without doors. When, upon referring to those sentences, he saw that one adıniral was most honourably acquitted, and the other declared a false and malicious accuser, he thought himself warranted, to adopt the words of either sentence, and to quote them on any occasion without question, hecause he had always'understood that matters of judicial record, were matters of public conversation, and that every man might advert to thein in what manner he thought proper. Considering the whole of the case as it stood, he could not, he repeated it, fuppress his astonishment at the language held by the governor of Greenwich Hospital. Had the honourable gentleman succeeded in his accusation, had he made it out, had he been able to prove, by coinpetent evidence, that the person he charged was an unskilful officer, that he had been guilty of treachery, that he was a betrayer of his country, that he had departed from his allegiance, and had either for a bribe, from want of skill, or from baseness, abandoned her defence and suffered victory to escape him, when it was in his reach, all the kingdom would have united in giving him due praises, in returning him loud thanks and applause for having detec

ted

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

a

Gg2

[ocr errors]

ted a dangerous traitor, and for having brought him to his merited and to condign punishment. If such had been the cafe, Mr. Townshend asked, would the vice-admiral have thought himself ill-used, had'that House, or the public at large, been niggards in applause ? Would not he have had a right to expect every epithet of praise, every expression that the language could convey of approbation ?

Taking the matter therefore in this light, what was not to be expected, when the reverse of the picture was the true representation of what had passed ? When so far from the honourable admiral near him having been convicted of neglect or, ill conduct, the court-martial had pronounced most honourably in his favonr, and had condemned his accuser, as a man guilty of a false and malicious accusation. Under such a sentence, ought not the vice-admiral to feel himself happy at his honourable friend's declaration, that he meant not to attack him, but that his reproaches should be directed solely against the first lord of the admiralty, whom he considered as the principal cause of all the mischief! Ought not the vice-admiral, instead of holding an indignant and resentful language, to feel his honourable friend's forbearance, as the greatest favour that could be done him, and to bow to it with the profoundeft humility, and the profoundest gratitude !

Having urged this argument pretty strongly, Mr. Towoshend said, Sir Hugh Palliser's filence immediately after the fentence of the court-martial was known, his resignation of his lieutenant-generalfhip of marines, his retirement from parliament at that time, and his high tone now, all reminded him of a scene between two characters in a play, which he had often laughed at, and he doubted not every gentleman present had frequently done the fame. In the play (the Old Bachelor] he alluded to, a blustering being (Noll" Bluff] was kicked and disgraced at one period of the plot, which he suffered with the utmost patience, and without attempting either to defend himself or to retaliate on his assailant, but, in a subsequent scene, in which a dialogue ensues between the bully and his friend Sir Joseph, [Sir Jofeph Witto!,] the fornier grows angry, and says, 56 Death and hell, to be affronted thus ! I'll die before I'll fuffer it." Sir Joseph endeavours to persuade him, not to revive what had disgraced him, and what was then past remedy, and asks him, whether he was not " abused, cuffed, and kicked ? To which the bully swears, " By the immor

tal

tal thunder of great guns, 'tis false," and draws his sword. Sir Joseph begs him not to be in a passion, and says,

" Put up, put up.". The bully replies, “ By heaven, 'tis not to be put up.” Sir Joseph says'in anfwer, “What?”

" " The bully replies, The affront.” Sir Joseph then adds, y “ That's put up already; thy sword I mean, put up, put up your sword." This scene, Mr. Townshend said, ftruck him as a strong resemblance of the vice-admiral's conduct; he advised him, therefore, to put up his anger, and think himself well off to rest as he was.

Mr. Smith rose next, and observed, that the noble Lord, Mr. Smirb. [Lord North) in his speech, had chiefly confined himself to the sentence of one of the two courts martial, and had, as it were, wholly passed by the other. The noble Lord had taken great pains to dwell upon that part of the sentence, which declared, that Sir Hugh Palliser “had in many instances on the 27th of July, shewn exemplary and highly meritorious conduct, but he had forgot, or chosen to drop all notice of that part of the sentence of the preceding courtmartial, which declared, that the accusation againft Admiral Keppel was malicious and ill-founded. The one was surely as strong as the other, and ought to weigh at least as much with the House ; but if the sentence passed by Admiral Keppel's court-martial, was not sufficiently a proof of the vicc. admiral's demerits, what inference was to be drawn from his own conduct, from his resignation of his lucrative situations of lord of the admiralty and lieutenant-general of marines, and from his withdrawing himself from public notice,' by giving up his seat in parliament.

Lord Howe said a few words. The House anxious to hear Lord Howe his lordship, desired him to raise his voice. His lordship faid, that he disclaimed all praise, and made no public declarations of the motives that induced him to quit his Majesty's service. And he desired no persons would take the liberty of ascribing motives to him for nut serving, which they could only speak to from conjecture.

Admiral Pigot, avowed his former sentiments respecting Adm. Pigot. Sir Hugh Palliier.

Mr, Fox assured the governor of Greenwich Hospital, that Mr. Fox, he was not perfonally his enemy. He was mistaken if he thought that he could excite hatred in him, or any thing elle. What he had said, was directed not against him, but his patron the Earl of Sandwich, first lord of the admiralty, The honourable gentleman had complained of the liberties

that 4

a

« AnteriorContinua »