« ZurückWeiter »
very reason why this bill has been pro- war, and of every future war we shall posed, and why, I think, it is now ne. be hereafter engaged in, it will be recessary. I am so far from thinking it solved, not to make at once such a great now unnecessary to pass any such bill, reduction of the number of seamen in that I think some such bill ought to have the public service, as was made at the been passed before the end of last session, end of the last war; for every war, espe. or at least as soon as possible after his cially if it be of any continuance, muft Majesty had resolved upon issuing letters greatly increase the number of our feaof reprisal. For the reprisals ifsued up. men, and such numbers of seamen can. on this occasion were surely of a very not immediately fall into a way different nature from those issued on ac- porting themselves by any employment count of any private injury : they were at land ; therefore the reduction should a sort of prelude to a declaration of war; always be made by degrees': and perand therefore it might have been public. haps it may hereafter be thought necefly declared, either by act of parliament, fary to keep on foot, even in time of or by his Majesty's proclamation, that peace, a certain number of marine regiin case the obstinacy of the French court ments, instead of an equal number of fhould render a solemn declaration of regiments of land soldiers ; because the war necessary, the property of all ships former may be bred up and accustomed taken by way of reprisal before such de- to ferve either by land or sea, according claration, fhould from that moment be- as their country may have occasion; for come vested in the captors.
a man who from his youth has been bred If such a declaration, Sir, had been at sea, may more easily, and in shorter publicly made, as soon as the orders time, be taught the land discipline, than were first issued for seizing the French a man who from his infancy has been fhips, I am persuaded we should have bred at land, can be taught both the had very little occasion for pressing; e. land-discipline, and the business of a seaspecially if care had been taken, that no fhip should have a greater number of a Therefore, Sir, if we found ourselves ble and expert seamen than was fufficient in any distress for want of a fufficient for working the ship, and that the rest number of seamen upon the present ocof every ship's complement should be casion, the distress was owing to the made
up of marines or landmen. For I weak measures we have parsued lince the cannot agree with the Hon. Gentleman conclusion of the last war; and that diwho spoke laft, that we never have, at stress has been greatly increased by our the eve of a war, a sufficient stock of not taking proper methods to encourage seamen for supplying both our trade and our seamen to enter voluntarily into our navy.
In time of peace, we know, the King's service. We have hitherto that none but able and expert seamen thought of no methods for procuring are employed, either in the navy or the seamen for the navy, but such as old merchant-service : but every one knows, lechers make use of for debauching that, even in the merchant-service, a young women, which are only bribery certain number of landmen, in propor- and force. The rewards offered by pro. tion to the number of expert - seamen, clamation, which was a sort of bribery, may be safely employed; and on board could have no effect, whilst every good our ships of war, the far greatest part of seaman knew, that he could get a great the ship's complement may be made up deal more by the increase of wages in of landmen or marines; therefore by the merchant-service ; and when our proper care, and a proper distribution marine minifters found that this would of such as are able and expert seamen, not do, they prelently had recourse to I think we may always be able to fup- force, as they thought they had a power ply both our trade and our navy, even to compelor press seamen into the King's at the eve of a war: though at the same service whenever they pleased : nay, time I hope, that at the end of the next they even began, I believe, with the
method of preffing, before they had ex. not last session propose the employing of perienced the effect of bribery, that is a much greater number of feamen for the to say, of the reward offered by procla- year ensuing; because the parliament mation ; and not only press-gangs were would certainly have agreed to it: and spread over the whole kingdom, but the suppose they had then been resolved to military were ordered to be aflifting to do nothing but negotiate, it would have those press.gangs ; so that a midshipman added weight to their negotiation, and or sea lieutenant, with a press-warrant might perhaps have prevented a war, in his pocket, was erected into a civil which now seems inevitable : at least it magistrate, who could call the military would have prevented our being in so to his assistance whenever he thought he great distress for want of seamen, as we had occasion for it; which would cer were when his Majesty had resolved uptainly be as often as he was committing on fitting out a strong squadron, which any act of unneceffary violence, or down was a long time before the end of the right oppreffion.
feflion; confequently such a bill as is Was this legal, Sir ? was it agreeable now proposed ought then to have been to our constitution ? Was it not direct. paffed, as it would probably have, in a ly contrary to Magna charta, which ex- great measure, prevented our being unpressly declares, Nullus liber homo capia- der any necessity to press men into the tur, aut imprisonetur, nifi per legale judi- sea-service ; especially as we had then a cium parium fuorum, vel per legem terræ ? considerable number of line of battle “ No free man shall be taken, or im- fhips in commission, besides a great numprisoned, unless by the legal judgment ber of frigates and floops, whose comof his peers, or by the law of the land.” plements, I must suppose, then confifted I shall grant, Şir, that immemorial cu. entirely of expert and able-bodied seaftom has expressly authorised, and that men, as none but such are in time of even a late statute has by implication peace employed in the navy; and conauthorised the pressing of seamen, in ca. fequently we could not have occasion for ses of absolute necessity; but no such ne. any great additional number of seamen, cessity can ever exist, if there be time because at least an equal number, perfor trying any other method ; and when haps twice the number of landmen, there is time, no such necessity can ever might have been added to the seamen exist until after every other method has we then had in pay. been tried: from whence I must con But now suppose, Sir, that we had clude, that our pressing of seamen upon been under an absolute necessity, upon this last occasion was not authorised ei. the late occasion, to have recourse to ther by custom or statute, and conse- pressing, and that confequently it was quently it was absolutely illegal; be authorised by law; yet no one will precause, as we had sufficient warning, tend to say, that our employing the mithere was time enough for our having litary, either to press, or to protect the tried other methods, especially the me- press.gangs, was authorised either by chod now proposed: for if it had been custom, or by statute. Nor can it be poffible for our minifters to take any faid, that the employing of the military warning, the French had given us fufi. for either of thele purposes, was any cient warning to prepare for war, before way necessary; because if a regular even the beginning of last session; as press-gang should be insulted or attacked they bad for several years before been by a riotous mob, the civil magistrate is, plundering our people, and building by his office, obliged to protect them; forts upon our territories in America; and if any mob should refuse to disperse, and as we had before then an account or dare to prevent his reading or making of their having attacked Mr Washing the proclamation against riots, he may ton, and dispossessed us of one of our then, by law, call the military to his arforts upon the back of Virginia. It is sistance. This can never be of any dan. indeed surprising, that our ministers did gerous consequence to our conftitution,
or to the liberties of the subject ; because as possible from this unfortunate condi. the civil magistrate is to be the judge, tion? Can this be done any other way whether the press-gangs have behaved but by engaging seamen to enter volun. themselves regularly or no, and the mi- tarily into the King's service ? Has not litary is to be under his direction. But the most effectual way for this purpose to order our regular troops to assist or to been found to be, by investing the pro. protect our press-gangs, without the in- perty of all prizes in the captors of terposition of a civil magistrate, is a di- this our parliaments have been so well rect breach of our conftitution, and of convinced, that we have a ftanding law the most dangerous consequence to the for it, which must always take place as lives as well as the liberties of the peo. soon as the crown declares war against ple; therefore if any such orders have any nation, and will always be a great been issued to our regular troops, in any encouragement for our seamen to enter part of the united kingdom, I hope that voluntarily into the service of the crown, a strict inquiry will be made into it; and as soon as they hear that war is decla. I am sure every man who has a regard red. for the liberties of his country must think, But, Sir, the crown may engage in that the advisers and authors of such an war, and may continue it for many years, arbitrary measure ought to be severely without declaring war. In Charles II.'s punished.
first war against the Dutch, there was I believe, Sir, it will now appear, never any declaration of war; and Q. that, with regard to preffing, our mini- Elisabeth carried on a war against Spain fters have, in several respects, made a for many years, without having ever de. little too free with our consticution; clared war. So his Majesty may now therefore it is high time for the parlia- carry on a war against France, without ment to take this practice, which smells any folemn declaration of war; and so rank of arbitrary power, into their with much more reason than in either of most serious confideration, and to em the cases I have mentioned. For the brace
every method that can be thought present war against France is on our side of for preventing, or rendering less fre- plainly defensive, as much as any war quent, the necessity of our having re ever was. They have attacked us in course to that unjust and violent practice. America; and our seizing their ships, All the other subjects of G. Britain may and keeping their seamen prisoners, is fit secure under their own fig-tree, with. with a design to prevent their attacking out being in danger of ever being called us here at home, as well as to prevent out to serve the public in any station, un- their pursuing the attack they have made less it comes to their turn, or they vo- upon us in America. The war is there. luntarily engage in the service: but our fore, on our side, purely defensive; and seamen, a sort of men whom of all 0. with respect to such a war Plato's maxim thers we ought most to indulge, can ne. has always been received, Quod ad prover be secure, whilst they are under the pulfandam vim, non a caduceatore, sed a age of fifty-five. After a seaman, by natura, bellum indi&tum eft. But until the hard service for many years at fea, has war be solemnly declared, the captors earned and saved as much as may efta- have no legal right to any share of the blish him in a quiet retreat at land, he prizes they take, unless the crown, that does not know but that in six months, is to say the ministers of the crown, shall or a less time, he may be torn from his please to give it them; they do not know wife and family, and forced again to un- but that the whole produce of their prizes dergo all the fatigues and perils of a inay be applied towards inducing voters common seaman, without any certainty to serve the ministers at elections, instead of ever being released whilft he is fit for of applying it towards inducing seamen serving in that station. Does not justice, to serve their country on board our nahumanity, and gratitude require, that vy: and whilst they are left in such a our seamen should be exempted as much doubt, can we expect that any great
number of them will enter voluntarily taken. Now, Sir, or never, is the time into the service of the crown, or that for us to command an honourable peace. they will serve with spirit after they have If we now submit to any sort of ignomi. entered, or been pressed into the service? nious terms, we must submit for ever :
The case of the ships now taken from the ministers of Versailles will, upon ethe French, is very different, Sir, from very occalion, dictate to the ministers of that of the ships taken from the Spaniards England, what measures they are to purbefore our declaration of war against that fue ; and our King must submit to be a nation. The Spaniards had not only fort of viceroy under his Most Christian committed great depredations upon our Majeliy. Therefore, as a servant of the merchants, but they had actually promj. crown, as well as a faithful subject, I sed a large sum of money, by way of think myself in duty bound to strengthen indemnification to our merchants. This his Majesty's hands as much as posible, sum of money they afterwards refused to whilst we have a chance for preserving pay; and for this we issued letters of re. our independency; and this cannot any prisal against them. But the injuries way at present be done more effectually, and insults we have received from France than by passing the bill now proposed. are almost wholly national. They have, For whilst I have the honour of a feat it is true, plundered and imprisoned in this assembly, I shall never, by my some of our Indian traders in America ; voice, or vote, authorise or approve of but one of the ships we have taken from our submitting to any incroachment, in. them would do more than make good fult, or indignity, rather than begin, or all the damage they have done to the repel hostilities; which was our conduct private subjects of G. Britain. There. during the long administration of a late fore our taking their ships upon this oc- minister, and which has brought this nacasion cannot properly be said to be done tion into that distressed condition every by way of reprisal. It has been done, gentleman now seems to be so sensible and justly done, in resentment of the in- of. For it was during his administrasults they have designedly put upon the tion, that the French established themnation, and for making good the ex- felves upon the river Millisippi, upon the pence we have been, or may be put to, great lakes, and upon the lake Corlaer, in doing ourselves that justice which they in America; every one of which eftahave obstinately and contemptuously re- blishments we had a right to oppose, and fused. No private fufferer can there. would have opposed, or defeated, if we fore pretend a right to any share of the had acted with spirit, or been governed prizes we have taken; consequently the by our own interest; and it was during public may, and ought to dispose of the fame admirittration, that the French them in that way which is molt for the were allowed to possess themselves of interest of the nation; and this is what Lorrain, and to establish two branches is designed by the bill now proposed. of their royal house in Italy.
Whatever specious pretences may be The Hon. Gentleman may therefore, made use of, Sir, no folid reason has if he pleases, Sir, declare himself proud been, or can be assigned against the bill. of having been the constant friend of Nothing can prevent our paling such a that minister; but what we now feel may bill as soon as possible, but a formed de- make me, I think, as proud of declasign to submit to an ignominious peace, ring, that I constantly opposed him as a by restoring all the ships we have taken, minister; and yet, after he resigned, I or shall hereafter take; and perhaps to always spoke well of him as a man.-still more ruinous terms: for if we do Gentlemen may laugh, if they please, not deliver the territories of all our In- but I can perceive no joke in what I dian allies, as well as our own in Ame- have said : it is only a proof that my rica, from every French fort, and every opposition did not proceed from any perFrench garrison, we may give up our fonal resentment, nor my praile from aplantations, as well as the mips we have ny design to flatter. It is tree, he had VOL. XIX.
for many years an amazing infuence in dicule ; and to give a feeming weight this house; and the inquiry, filled as it and importance to the most useless words, was, made it pretty evident from whence the most trifling arguments, that can be that influence proceeded (iv. 289. 329.). "made use of in any debate : but though However, if ever the Hon. Gentleman he is by nature endued with this extrashould come to be possessed of his power, ordinary quality, yet I am persuaded, I wish he may adope his moderation, as he never makes use of it, but to enforce well as he has adopted his conduct with what in the main he takes to be right. regard to a bill which was of the fame However, as every gentleman in this nature with the bill now proposed. house has a right to judge as well as he, Though I must observe, that the mini. and as the talent of a solid judgment is ster's conduct, with regard to that bill, very different from that of a florid elohas been misrepresented in this debate. quence, I hope every gentleman will His true reason for opposing it, was not consider the arguments that have been because it was unfeasonable, but because made use of, without regard to the gauthere was a most infamous convention dy dress in which they have been deckwith Spain [i. 68.) then upon the anvil, ed, either by the one side or the other. which he was encouraged to agree to by Now, Sir, with respect to the advanthis house's throwing out that bill; and tages proposed by this bill, I think the such another consequence, but a more only one that has been so much as fugfatal one, may ensue, fould we reject gelted is, that it may induce many of the mocion now made to us; therefore our seamen to enter themfelves on board I hope I shall have the concurrence of a his Majesty's ships of war, and thereby great majority in agreeing to this mocion. prevent the necessity we are under for The speech of Quintus Mucius, abo spoke precarious is this advantage, or rather
prefsing men into that service. How
how vain is this expectation. It is not, Mr President,
I think, intended by the bill, that the T Here has already been so much said property of the ships taken, or to be ta.
in this debate, and the arguments ken, thall be vested in the captors, unboth for and against this motion have til after a war has been declared, or at been stated in fo full and so clear a light, least until after the ships have been conthat I can do little more than fum up demned as lawful prize. But neither of what has been said upon both sides of these may ever happen : nay, I hope, the question : which I shall do in as short that neither shall ever happen ; for if the and as impartial a manner as I can; be. French court should amicably adjust all cause, I believe, the more diftin&ly, the the disputes now subsisting between us, more briefly it is stated, the more it is and make us proper satisfaction for the divested of the surprises of wit and the expence they have put us to, and the flowers of eloquence, the more the argu- damage they have done to some of our ments will preponderate against our a- people, the ships we have taken, or may greeing so early in the session to such a hereafter take, not only may, but ought motion. In porsuance of what I have to be restored. And this the French now proposed, Sir, I shall consider the court will do, if they are well advised : advantages and the disadvantages of our for as they have upon the continent of now ordering such a bill as this to be America a greater extent of territory, brought in. I must repeat the word now, uncontested at least by us, than they can Sir; because, notwithstanding the ridi- plant and people for several ages to culous light it has been placed in by the come; they cannot propose to get much Hon. Gentleman who spoke last, it is present advantage by a war with this of the utmost consequence in this debate. nation ; and may lose a great deal, beHe indeed has the happy faculty of be- cause the consequence may be, and most ing able to turn the most important probably will be, their being drove out word, the most serious argument, into ri. of every thing they now possess in Ame