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Proceedings of the POLITICAL CLUB, continued from p. 41.
The debate on the motion for a bill for the tled by our respective commissaries at

encouragement of seamen, &c. continued. Paris ; for in every thing relative to the The speech of L. Trebonius Afper, who point of honour, we have for many Spoke next.

years given it up, almost to every nation

in Europe. Our commiffaries accorMr President,

dingly met the French commissaries at "HE Hon. Gentlemen who {poke Paris, and for some years negotiated,

firft against the motion now on with the same want of success. Our der our confideration, was pleased to re- ministers have since carried on the necommend moderation to us upon thé gotiation ; and thus we have been negopresent occafion; and I shall grant that tiating for these eight years, whilft the moderation is upon all occasions a very French have been interrupting our trade, commendable quality : but I wish we and plundering and murdering our peohad, upon this, as well as fome for- ple in both the Indies, and building mer occasions, mixed a little spirit forts upon our most undoubted territowith our moderation ; for moderation ries in America. without spirit ought rather to be called I beg pardon, Sir, for saying undoubtAtupidity; and as fuch, I am afraid, ed; for really we have for so many years our moderation, with regard to the dif- behaved with so much moderation, that putes now subsisting between France and many of our rights, which were never us, has been considered, not only by all before contested, are now become doubtthe indifferent nations in Europe, but ful, in the opinion even of some of those even by the French themselves. This, foreign states who incline to be our I believe, has encouraged them, for fe- friends. And indeed I cannot much wonveral years, to behave in a most con- der at our behaviour, at and since the temptuous manner towards us, though time of the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle ; at the same time we have behaved in the as it has been directed by those very mi. most paflive manner towards them; for nisters, who served their apprenticeship I must observe, that ever since the trea- under that minister who directed our behaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, our behaviour viour at the time of the treaty of Seville, towards the French has been of the very and from that time until a year or two same complexion with our behaviour after the breaking out of the Spanish war. towards the Spaniards for several years And if a war with France should now after the treaty of Seville. And indeed be the consequence, as I am convinced the treaties were pretty much of the it will, we may observe the same similisame complexion. By the treaty of Se. tude of conduct: for we began our war ville, we left the most important of the with Spain by ridiculously issuing orders British concerns to be discussed by our for reprisals only; whereas had we berespeetive commiffaries at Madrid. The gun it by one bold and vigorous push, commissaries accordingly met, and con we might have put an end to it at once, ferred for some years without the least by obliging the enemy to submit to success, but at a great expence to this whatever we thought reasonable. Just nation. The negotiation was carried so we have begun the war with France, on for several years more by our mini- by issuing orders for what I now find is tters ; and thus we continued to nego-' to be called reprisals; whereas had we tiate for ten years, whilst the Spaniards begun the war by a bold and vigorous continued, during that whole time, to poth, and thereby repossessed ourselves plunder our merchants and interrupt our of that island which we, I shall not say navigation in the feas of America. In scandalously, restored to them by the the same manner, by the treaty of Aix. treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, we should la Chapelle, we left the most important have foon compelled them to sae for of our concerns with France, to be fet. peace; because we could then have en

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fectually prevented their sending sup. he means a requisition of redress or saplies, either of troops, ammunition, or tisfaction; and if we have not often provisions, to Canada. But by begin- made this requisition, I do not know ning the war in our modern manner of what we have been a doing for these fix making reprisals, we have given them or seven years past

. I do indeed suspect, warning, as we formerly did to the that this requisition has always been Spaniards, to provide for their defence; made in such a moderate complaisant and the consequence, I fear, will be manner, that the court of France never much more fatal, as the French have thought we were serious, or that we always been, and upon this occafion would come to extremities in case of aappear to have been, much more alert ny delay. But if this was really the than the Spaniards.

case, I believe it will not be made an I call it, Sir, our modern manner of argument against the motion now under making reprisals, because reprisals is a confideration : nor would it be a good term very improperly applied to what argument if it were ; because the French we now practifed against the French, or have treated us with fuch contempt, what we formerly practised again the that it ought to have been returned by Spaniards. When a private injury has an immediate attack : and, consequentbeen done by the subjects of one ftate ly, I think, that one of the ftrongeft to the fubjects of another, the state realons in favour of this motion is, that whoíe subji ćis have been injured, de- it will bring our tedious negotiation to mands satisfaction; and if it be denied, a short issue; it will convince the court or unreasonably delayed, they iffue let- of France, that however much our miters of reprisal: bui for a public insult nisters may have been cajoled by their or injury committed by the state itself, compliments and excuses, the parliaor by orders of the state itself, no na ment will not suffer

, itself to be so, but tion, ever before, thought of ifiuing will force our minifters to mix a little letters of reprilal. For revenging or re- fpirit with their moderation, and infik drefling luch an insult or injury, if po- upon a speedy and categorical answer. i blic facisfaction be not instantly made, This, Sir, will bring as quickly to a. war is the immediate consequence; and state of open war, or honourable peace. a wise nation will always, in such a case, And even the former is more eligible make their firft attack as sudden and as than the middle state in which we are at vigorous as possible. This piece of wis- present. For what is it, that France dom we may learn from the very first has cajoled us so long with fair promises age of the city of Rome: for the great and tham excuses ? for what have they, Roman historian has told us, that the for some time past, shewn so much paSabine war was the most heavy and dan- tience? They have been, they are gerous that Romulus was ever engaged still fortifying themselves in America ; in: Nihil enim, says he, per iram aut cum they have been, they are ftill restoring piditatem actum eft: nec ofienderunt bellum their navy, by all the means they prius, quam intulerunt.

can contrive. His Majesty's fips of In such cases, Sir, a previous solemn de- war may prevent their fending numeclaration of war is never necessary, or at rous imbarkations to America at one lealtitought never even in common decen- time; they may interrupt their trade; cy to be made, until your armies are juft and they may, in a great measure, preentering the territories of the enemy. Nor vent their importing naval itores in their will the opinion of Grotius appear to be own bottoms: but whilft we are in our cobirary to what I say, if what he means present state, we cannot prevent their by the word interpellatio be duly attend- carrying on their trade, and importing ed to: for when he says, that though it naval stores in foreign bottoms, nor can be not commanded by the law of na. we give commissions to privateers; and ture, honeste tamen et laudabiliter interpo- if the French should resolve to send fupritur, it is plain from what follows, that plies to America in single ships, we

could

could not so effe&tually prevent it, by so much as pretended, that out of the his Majesty's ships of war alone, as we produce of these prizes any damage is could do both by them and by priva- to be made good to any private man teers. Therefore, if the French court in the British dominions. And as to have lately hewn moderation, or pa. the damage which the nation has suftience, as it is called, they have a good fered, or may suffer, or the expence it political reason for it. They will pro- has been, or may be put to, it is the bably never declare war, until they same thing to the nation in general, have fo far restored their navy as to be whether the prizes be appropriated to the in some degree equal to ours : and this captors or the public; because what be. we cannot prevent, by laying hold of a longs to the people of the nation be{mall number of their seamen; for it is longs to the nation, and the wisdom of fhips, not feamen, that they are in want the parliament has already determined, of; and as they have the command of that our giving the prizes to the captors, not only all their own seamen, but ma. in time of war, will always contribute ny foreigners, if they should once be a- most to the benefit of the nation in geble to provide thips enough, they may neral; as it will increase the number of send a most formidable navy to sea, prizes, and encourage our feamen to though we had in our possession twice the enter themselves voluntarily on board Dumber of their seamen we now have. our ships of war, and consequently ei

Thus, Sir, we may fee, that though ther entirely prevent, or at least dimia declared war be a state which no na- nifh the necessity of presling. tion ought to chuse, and this state less To prevent or diminish this, Sir, is than many others; yet, in our present fi- the chief design of this bill, and to protuation, an honourable peace, or an im- mote such a design, it is furely very promediate war, is what we ought to resolve per to mention all the inconveniencies to have ; and therefore it is evident, we are exposed to, and all the comthat the only plausible argument that has plaints that have lately been occafioned, been, or indeed can be made use of a- by our pressing of feamen into the sergainst this motion, if it had any weight, vice of the government. That these would be an argument for, and not a. complaints were many and grievous in gainft the motion. But, Sir, as the bill Scotland, I do not in the least coeftion: was opened by the Noble Lord who pro- our being obliged to make use of the mi. posed it, and by the Hon. Gentleman who litary for protecting the press-gangs, is

feconded the motion, their motion can a plain proof of it. And I must observe, ' have no relation either to war or peace. that it is a very subtle diftinction, to say,

It is so far from being a parliamentary that the military do not press, but only declaration of war, that it is expressly protect the press-gangs. It is a disincthe contrary. For the bill is not design- tion worthy of a Johannes Dunscotus ; for ed to lay his Majesty under so much as by the same rule it may be faid, that a conditional or contingent necessity to the press.gangs do not press, but only declare war, or to issue a commission to protect the officer who has the warrant the court of admiralty to condemn the in his pocket, and without whom they fhips that have been or shall be taken : neither do, nor can lawfully press. But it is designed only as an assurance to our though I do not doubt of there having feamen, that if war should be declared, been many and grievous complaints in or such a commission issued, all the ships Scotland, yet I am very ready to believe they have taken, or shall hereafter take, what was said by an Hon. Gentleman fall belong to them, in the fame man- in an high office there : for as I take his ner as they would have done, had they office to be much of the same nature been all taken after a declaration of with our attorney-general's here, he

And this surely is not inconfift. could hear of no complaints, but the ent with the nature of what is pro- complaints of those who could complain perly called reprisals, as it is not now in a regular and legal manner. But how

few

war.

few are there that have either money or ry precarious; which prevents numbers friends fufficient for this purpofe? I be. of people from breeding either them. lieve the lower fort of people here, are selves or their children to the sea-fervice : generally as rich as they are in Scotland; and this must be allowed to be a very and

yet I doubt if our attorney-general great misfortune to a nation, whose chief ever heard of one complaint in England, defence consists in its number of able unlefs it was in common conversation, and expert seamen. And besides this, Are we from thence to fuppose that there Sir, I am afraid, that this power which never was any complaint in England, our fea-captains have, of pressing men or that no man was ever pressed that was' into their service, induces fome of them not by custom liable to be presed, nor to treat the feamen under their comany man ill used at the time of his bee mand, in a more baughty and harsh ang preffed, or after he was presled? manner than they have any occasion for.

Sir, if the matter were to be strictly This I am the more apt to believe, be. inquired into, I believe it would appear, cause some of our caprains never have any that we have lost fome thousands of occasion to press men into their fervice; brave and able feamen, by the usage they for as soon as it is known that they are Teceived in being pressed, and afterwards put in commiffion, greater numbers of on board the tenders, or by the distem- volantiers offer to enter themselves under pers thereby contracted. I believe e. their command than they stand in need every gentleman of this house has heard of; and if care were always taken to some instance of this kind : I have heard commission such captains, preterable to do many ; and therefore I think, that no ny others, I believe it would be a ftep toe gentleman, who has any bowels of com- wards preventing the neceffity of preffing. passion towards our brave feamen, can But this Sir, most proceed from the gefuse his assent to any measure which, executive, not the legislative power, and, he thinks, may in the least contribute in the mean time, let us do what we towards relieving us from the hard ne- can, for enabling his Majesty to prepare cessity we are under, of permitting our for war, by encouraging seamen to enTeamen to be pressed into his Majesty's ter into his service. This moft inforce service. I say, permitting, Sir; for that our negotiatian for a peace, if there be is the moft that can be contended for, now any fuch thing in agitation; and either from the common law, or the statute as this will be the effe&t of the bill now law of this kingdom. The pra&ice may proposed, I am most heartily for agreebe of a very ancient date; as our kings ing to the motion. always had, and it is necessary they The Speech of C. Numisius, who spoke next. Thould have, in time of war, fome

very extraordinary powers: but the practice Mr President, is now frequent in time of peace as well Here is a very great difference as of war. If five or fix fhips, or any between enacting, that all ships greater number, are to be fitted out, for which shall be taken and condemned the protection of our trade in any part after a declaration of war, Mall belong of the world, or for giving weight to to the captors, and enaĉing, that all our negociations, as has been often pre- fhips which shall be condemned after a tended, all the seamen in the kingdom declaration of war, thall belong to the must be alarmed with a press: and great captors; and yet this difference seems numbers of men are preffed, who are af- not to have been in the least attended to, terwards rejelied by the regulating cap- by those gentlemen who have spoke in tains ; for upon such occasions they will favour of this motion : therefore I muft accept of none but the molt expert as beg leave to explain this difference, bewell as able seamen.

cause from thence it will appear, that the This, Sir, has really been of late years bill now proposed is altogether unnecesso frequent, that it renders the life of a fary, or will be attended with very

danteamaa very uneasy, and his liberty ve gerous and pernicious consequences. To

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enact, that all Mips which shall be taken misfortune to us, because it would make and condemned after a declaration of us be looked on by all Europe as the auwar, shall belong to the captors, can thors of the war. In this case let us congive no greater encouragement to our fider, Sir, that there are several powerseamen to enter into his Majesty's service ful nations in Europe, who, by ireaties than they have at present; because they of alliance, stand engaged to aflilt France all know, thát, by a standing law, the when it is attacked. and though we captors are to have the sole right to e. may be able to carry on a naval war avery Ship that shall be taken and con- gainst France alone ; though it may perdemned after war has been once decla. haps be our interest to tand alone in red. Such a bill would therefore be ab- such a war; yet I doubt much if we are solutely unneceffary, as it could no way able to carry on, with success, even a answer the end proposed; and to take naval war against France, assisted by cwa up our time with passing such a bill, or three of the other maritime powers of would really expose our proceedings to Europe ; especially as we must always the contempt, not only of our seamen, be obliged to keep a great part of our but of every man of common sense in navy at home, for preventing our being the kingdom.

invaded by chose numerous land-armies On the other hand, Sir, to enact, that which France and her allies might oall thips which shall be condemned after therwise be able to throw into this island. a declaration of war thall belong to the But fuppofing, we could hope to be able captors, even though taken by way of to do this, would it be prudene in us ta reprisal before the declaration of war, act in such a manner as to bring our would be looked on, by all the courts of selves into such a dangerous situation, if Europe, as fuch a menacing and insult- by holding a different fort of conduct we ing manner of demanding satisfaction, may prevent any other nation's having as must

engage the honour of the court a pretence for joining with France aof France not to give us that satisfaction gainst us ? which we have a right to, and which This is, Sir, what every gentleman they would otherwise have been willing ought most seriously to consider, upon to grant. Even in private life, if I had, this occasion; and it is a conlideration by accident or mistake, done a gentle upon which we neither have, nor can man an injury, I should be ready to ask have the proper lights for enabling us to his pardon, and to make him all the ato determine. Those lights his Majesty onement in my power; but if he came certainly, has from his ministers at the to ask it in a menacing and insulting several courts of Europe ; but those lights manner, I should certainly offer him a must be of such a nature, that no gentevery different fort of satisfaction ; and if man can think of having their laid bethe consequence should prove, fatal to fore such a numerous anembly. That him, fome gentlemen might perhaps fay, France has already demanded the allitthe had acted with spirit, but I am sure ance of her allies, no one can doubt: no man would say, he had acted ei- and from the neutrality they have hither with justice or prudence. And if therto observed, we muit conclude, that we should pass such a bill as this, the none of them look upon what we have court of France would probably make as yet done as a cafus feederisThey as such an answer as D’Estrades tells consider the ships we have taken, as ta. us was made to our court in 1662, by ken only by way of reprisal, and to be Lewis XIV.: "A misfortune may hap- restored to France, upon her granting pen to me, but fear can never make any that satisfaction we have a right to de impression."

mand. But if we should make the des This I say, Sir, would probably be mand in such a haughty manner, as to the answer of the court of France; and render it inconustent with the honour of they would be justified in it by every the French nation to comply with it, and court in Europe; which would be a great an open war hould from thence ensue,

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