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Debate on the Lords' Address of Thanks



His Majesty having retired,

The Earl of CARLISLE said, that he rose with great reluctance, knowing his own incapacity, either to take the lead on so important an occasion, the most so this country ever before experienced, or to pay that just tribute of thanks due to the gracious speech from the Throne, a speech, he would venture to affirm, replete with the strongest marks of sound policy, royal wisdom, and paternal tenderness, for the prosperity, happiness, and freedom of all his subjects. His Lordship observed, that the nation had been brought into its present critical and dangerous situation, by the arts of designing, ambitious men; and he could not, while he lamented the influence the leaders in America had over their deluded, infatuated brethren, help remarking, that the present daring and open hostilities commenced, abetted, and avowed, which preceded their declaration of independency, would never have happened, if that disobedient, traitorous spirit had not been fomented, nourished, and strengthened by a set of men in this country, who, deserting its interests, shamefully sacrificed them to their personal views of faction and ambition. He said, the ground taken on this occasion became dangerous in proportion to its plausibility; for it was, indeed, hardly conceivable, that the people of America, who owed so many obligations to the parent State, who were at once bound to it by every tie of gratitude and interest, and every bond of union which nature and affection could render sacred, would ever break and cancel them all without any real provocation: but the event had proved the contrary; and as the noble Lords on the other side of the House founded their opposition on the idea, that America never did aim at independency, he trusted now that the question had totally altered its nature, the consequence of such alteration would be an unanimity as complete, as he was assured it would be decisive, in restoring peace to this distracted and divided Empire.

His Lordship commented on several parts of the speech from the Throne, particularly on the zeal and bravery of the King' s troops, the recovery of Canada, and the late success on Long-Island. He spoke with warmth upon the insolence of the Rebels (as he called them) in refusing to treat with the Commissioners appointed by his Majesty. He bestowed several harsh expressions on the conduct and behaviour of the Congress; spoke of the necessity of vigorously exerting ourselves in the course of the ensuing campaign, in order to repair the repeated injuries, and to heal the wounds the constitution and interests of this country have received from its base and unnatural children; and concluded with assuring their Lordships, that he did not entertain a single doubt but that ample reparation would be obtained, and that the whole would in the end terrminate to the mutual happiness and advantage of both countries.

His Lordship then moved an Address to the King.

Earl FAUCONBERG seconded the motion. His Lordship observed, that the question between Great Britain and America was changed; the original one, relative to taxation, no longer existing. The alternative was now, whether we should forever relinquish America, and submit to the consequences which must inevitably ensue, from our giving up all future pretensions to a superiority over that country? or, considering the great and important stake for which we are contending, make one vigorous effort to bring its deluded inhabitants back to a proper sense of their duty? He was for the latter.

The Marquis of ROCKINGHAM condemned, in very strong terms, the contents of the speech, which he treated as the speech of the Minister, He remarked on the following passage in the speech: "No people ever enjoyed greater happiness, or lived under a milder government, than those now revolted Provinces, the improvements in every art of which they boast declared it; their number, their wealth, their strength by sea and land, which they think sufficient to make head against the whole power of the mother country, are irrefragable proofs of it." This passage, his Lordship contended, was a virtual censure of the present Administration, and pointed out the impolicy of forcing such a people into rebellion. It proved, beyond question, the great advantages of a mild Government, and the evils resulting from a cruel and oppressive one. He presumed that Ministers would hardly pretend to say, that it was the present system of


measures under which this people throve, and rose to that pitch of opulence and strength, they themselves had given so lively and apt a description of; if it was not, but that it evidently impeded instead of augmenting this state of domestick prosperity, it followed of course, that America owed its greatness to a system of mild Government; and that a direct deviation, or total abandonment of that system, was what gave occasion to the present cruel and unnatural civil war. He said, whatever colour might be now given to the present state of affairs, taxation was the original cause; and he still continued to think, as he had always declared himself, that the only sure constitutional taxes which could or ought to be drawn from the Colonies, would be the monopoly of their trade; and the other great advantages drawn from their constitutional dependency and connection with the parent State; and though the right were clearly on our side, nay, even that there were some degree of necessity for exercising it, yet when the real disposition of the people came to be known, their resources, strength, and numbers, came to be revealed, and the enormous expense of prosecuting such an expensive war, at so great a distance, was properly considered; motives of expediency in the first instance, and considerations of the possible impracticability of such an attempt, united, would induce him for one to consent to any reasonable terms of accommodation. What, said his Lordship, do Ministers tell us this day? They come forward, and, through the medium of the speech, write a panegyrick on their own conduct. I will put the whole of their defence on this short issue, without entering into particulars: I will leave the decision with themselves. I ask them, in the whole course of their extensive reading, knowledge, experience, or to the utmost stretch of their belief, whether they ever heard, or can now be persuaded to think, that a whole people, so numerous, and living under so many different forms of Government, though members of the same political body, ever unanimously confederated to join in a revolt, under a mild, wise, and equitable administration of publick affairs relative to America? His Lordship arraigned besides the principle on which the measures have been all along conducted and supported, that of unconditional submission. He said, the idea was abhorrent to the subjects of this free Government; that Englishmen, whatever their local situation may be, know no obedience to any thing but the laws; and that when the protection of the laws was taken away in several instances, particularly by the Capture Act, when they were declared open enemies, and put out of the King' s peace, it was impossible for them to do otherwise than they did. If they declared themselves independent, it was long after they were declared enemies; and for his part he could not possibly see what degree of obedience was due, where publick protection was openly withdrawn.

His Lordship then moved an amendment to the Address.

The Duke of MANCHESTER drew a parallel between the present state of the British empire, and that of ancient Rome in its decline. He observed, in one, as the other, the mere forms of the constitution were preserved long after every effort of despotism and arbitrary power were felt in their fullest extent. Imperial Rome oppressed her provinces and dependencies, like Britain; her subjects bowed under the yoke of the most insupportable oppression, like that endeavoured to be inflicted on our colonists; and he did not hesitate to foretell, that as in one instance the distant subjects of that proud, overbearing mistress of the universe, by the injustice and severity of her government, forced her provinces to resist her lawless power; so in the other, this country had alienated the obedience and affection of her American subjects, which would bring on a dismemberment of the empire, and probably terminate in a total dissolution of this Government.

His Grace remarked on that passage in the speech (the whole of which he imputed to the Minister) relative to assurances of amity, said to be received from the several courts of Europe, in a very pointed manner. He said, it contained the most improbable information that could be well conceived, unless we supposed, that the framers of the speech, and those who advised the present naval armaments, thought differently on the same day; or were not the same persons; for if assurances were given, and that they were to be depended on, why have recourse to that mode of


manning our Navy, a press, which was known to be fraught with so many hardships and inconveniences, and which should never be resorted to, but in seasons of difficulty and danger? If, on the other hand, those assurances of amity were not to be relied on, why deceive the publick and Parliament in so gross and flagrant a manner? Why delude them into a dangerous repose? Why tell them, on the eve of a rupture, that we were in a state of perfect tranquillity? But his Grace insisted, that we ought not, in the present situation of affairs, to trust either to assurances, however strong, or reasons however plausible, when facts were so evidently against them. He had, he said, the most undoubted information, that whatever those assurances might be, they ought not to be relied on; a matter having come to his own knowledge, or at least it came so well authenticated, that he was perfectly satisfied of its being indisputably true. He would just mention it for the present, presuming, if it were false it would be contradicted, in which case he would quote his authority; if it were not, then it would remain at least a strong circumstantial contradiction to that part of the address. The fact was, that a gentleman, on whose veracity he could depend, assured him, that he had been at Havre-de-Grace some short time since, where he saw a vessel publickly loading with fire-arms and other military stores for the use of the Provincials. If, in the language of the speech, the Americans were to be esteemed Rebels, and if rebels in arms were to be looked upon as open enemies, the fact now alluded to was an irrefragable proof, that France was in the first stage of open enmity with Great Britain.

His Grace then contradicted the substantial information of the speech on another ground. He said, that it was now no secret, that a fleet had lately sailed from Cadiz, with a considerable body of land forces on board. This armament must be destined to carry on hostilities against us in some part of the western world, or for South America, or to be employed against the Portuguese. Supposing the former not to be the case, no doubt could be entertained of the latter, which came exactly to the same point; because, if Portugal were attacked, Britain must consequently be involved in a war, unless we broke our engagements with Portugal, and sacrificed our dearest interests to the blind rage of making a conquest of our fellow-subjects in America. We were bound by treaty, he insisted, to support and defend Portugal; our interests, as well as our solemn engagements, compelled us to it. The difference was therefore very little, whether France or Spain broke with us openly, or in this roundabout, indirect manner, the consequences would be the same: we should in the end find ourselves engaged in a war with the united force of the House of Bourbon. Portugal had already given us the highest instance in their power of their friendship; they had forbid the Provincials from entering their ports. Had France or Spain done so? The contrary was notorious. If, then, taking the question in either light, as an attack of Spain on our ally, or the open encouragement given to our subjects now in arms against us, he wished to know from Administration what requisitions had been made on our part, to bring the Courts of Versailles and Madrid to an explanation on those very important points; what was the effect of those requisitions; and what we had now finally, at so critical a period, to depend on? His Grace concluded by observing that no reliance was to be had at any time on the pacifick assurances of those courts, much less when their conduct contradicted them; that therefore a tame acquiescence in whatever measures they might think proper to adopt, or an immediate war with those Powers, was inevitable, which, considering the present distracted and almost exhausted state of this country, threatened no less than its total ruin. He had foreseen this from the beginning; he had often foretold it. He was in future determined to lament it in silence, as all further efforts, he perceived, would be in vain; however, as the last attempt, he very readily joined in the amendment moved by his noble friend [the Marquis of Rockingham.] The speech was no more than a recommendation of the same ruinous system of measures, which had brought us into our present perilous and tremendous situation. If the amendment was agreed to, it would give the House time to consider and devise some means of averting the innumerable dangers with which we were now surrounded; the first salutary and effectual step to which would, in his opinion, be the appointing a committee to inquire into the state of the nation, in order to


discover the source of our present calamities, and to devise remedies the best suited to their cure and removal.

Lord CARDIFF [Lord Mountstuart] declared the Colonists to be exceedingly ungrateful. He said, from their first emigration from this country they had manifested a most disloyal and republican spirit; in proportion to the favours we had heaped upon them, the protection we had afforded, the encouragement we had given them in free ports, bounties and premiums, and the blood and treasure we had spilt and lavished in their service, they had been disobedient, turbulent, and ungrateful; that our strength and finances had been wasted in defending and covering them from a dangerous and superior enemy during the late war, to a degree, he feared, that would not shortly, if ever, be recovered; and now the return we met with was, to be involved in a bloody, expensive contest, on the issue of which the dearest interests of this country were staked, perhaps its very exsitence as a great commercial and maritime Power. He trusted, however, such being the provocations on our part, and such the unparalleled baseness on theirs, that the spirit of the British nation would be roused, so as to take the necessary measures for their effectual chastisement. He could not, he said, agree with the amendment proposed by the noble Marquis, for many cogent reasons; but for none more than that it brought matters forward which, at least for the present, formed no part of the question. If Ministers had neglected their duty; if they suffered themselves to be deceived; if they misled Parliament; those might be all proper objects of inquiry at a suitable and convenient season. That was not the subject of the present Address. The only matter now under discussion, or worthy of debate, was, What is the present state and condition of our Colonies? What are the resolution and final determination of our subjects in America? Have not they declared themselves an independent State? Are not they in arms in support of that independency? Have not they pulled off the mask, and avowed themselves open enemies? The question of taxation alluded to by the noble Marquis is now totally lost, or buried in an obstinate and loud appeal to arms. They no longer think it necessary to conceal their real sentiments; they have put us to defiance, and the event must inevitably be the full assertion of our legislative authority over them, or submitting to forever relinquish it. Should the latter be the case, then farewell to the importance of this country. The state of Europe, he observed, had undergone an almost total change since the first establishment of those Colonies. Several considerable acquisitions of territory had been made by the great States, who may be supposed to be the rivals of our power and greatness. The wealth and additional strength which we have hitherto derived from our Colonies have enabled us to retain our consequence and superiority in the grand European system. What, then, would be the probable effect, merely on consideration of self-preservation, but that, stripped of so ample a support, we should dwindle so as, in the first instance, to lose our importance in that system, and, in the end, to become a Province of the first ambitious Power who might think proper to attack us? For instance: France, our natural rival and enemy, is a vast, extensive, opulent country, full of inhabitants, fertile in soil, rich in native produce, and rendered more so by the industry of its people; it is compact in itself; its strength is easily collected; how, then, can it be expected that Great Britain and Ireland, inferiour in every respect, and divided and broken by seas, could withstand so formidable a Power, if those sources of wealth and strength derived from our Colonies were to be cut off, which must be the case should we tamely permit America to remain independent.

This, his Lordship presumed, was the true point on which the deliberations of this day would turn. It fairly included this short question: Whether, by foregoing our superiority over America, we were at the same time willing to take such a resolution, with all the consequences now described, which he contended must follow? He said, besides this grand, this leading inducement to a vigorous exertion of our whole strength, there were many collateral circumstances which gave him hopes that the general impressions of despondency attempted to be made by the noble Marquis and the noble Duke who spoke last, were ill-founded, and were neither supported by fact or probability. He said, the deluded people of America had been inflamed, misled, and hurried on by their leaders; that the late success of his


Majesty' s forces on Long-Island, and the events which might reasonably be expected in consequence of that success, gave the most rational ground to expect that his Majesty' s subjects in America would recollect themselves, and return to their duty; and such of them as all along retained their loyalty, be emancipated from the cruel oppressions they had sustained for their attachment to the mother country; which would create such an additional strength as not only to rescue the Province of New-York from under the dominion of its merciless oppressors, but likewise to establish a civil Government in that Province, and from thence extend, by its influence and example, the blessings of peace, law, and liberty, to its several neighbouring Colonies; which would, in time, he hoped, by that means be communicated to the whole Continent. He said he felt as strongly as any Lord in the House for the miseries of war; he always thought it should be the last resource; yet while he lamented its ravages, it was a consolation to him that its temporary effects might be productive of a restoration of Government; since nothing else was capable of bringing back the people to their duty: one part, he trusted, would return from motives of loyalty and inclination; the other from finding they had no protection but what might be derived from a restoration of peace, and a submission to the constitutional supremacy of the parent State. He was every way satisfied that this would be the event of the ensuing campaign, if determined on with unanimity here, and carried on with vigour there. He did not, however, according to the language of the amendment, expect, much less wish, that the people of America should yield to an abject or servile submission. It was not, he dared to say, the wish of Administration, nor of any noble Lord in that House. It was, however, now become indispensably necessary to the interests, nay, to the very existence of the British empire, that the supremacy of this Legislature should be maintained and asserted in its full extent. When that point was once fully established, he doubted not but the people of America would receive every satisfaction and security for every just grievance they may have felt, and every right they may be entitled to enjoy as British subjects. Fully convinced of the justice of the cause, and of the propriety of the measures recommended in the speech, he must, he said, differ from the amendment proposed, and give an affirmative to the address now moved.

The Earl of DERBY spoke warmly in favour of the speech, and against America, which, he said, had entered into the most horrid and unprovoked rebellion ever known in the annals of this or any other country. He insisted that they had an equitable as well as a legal right to contribute towards the national burden incurred during the late war on their account: first, on the constitutional right the parent State had to regulate, controul, and give law to all its dependencies, which inherent right especially included the power of taxation; secondly, because one-half the publick debt was incurred in defending and protecting them. He complimented such of his noble auditory as always looked upon the disobedience and resistance made to the laws enacted in support of the exercise of our constitutional superiority over America, as a strong indication, if not a substantial avowal, of their intended independency. He observed, that such being the fact, now no longer to be controverted, he was astonished that any noble Lord, who declared himself a friend to Britain, could possibly hesitate about agreeing with the address, as the measures it was meant to sanctify were the only means to save the British empire from certain ruin and destruction. His Lordship lamented the factious spirit, both here and in America, which had been the cause of the present melancholy state of publick affairs; and hoped, as the only means of reparation left, that those who had unhappily fomented the present disturbances, that those who had, by the strongest reiterated assurances, pledged themselves to the nation that America only wished for a constitutional dependency, not to deny or throw off the supreme legislative power of the Parliament of Great Britain, would now candidly confess their errour, and prove themselves only mistaken, not intentionally wrong.

The Earl of RADNOR made several observations on the sentiments delivered by the last noble Lord but one, [Lord Cardiff.] He said that he could not agree with the proposed address or amendment, neither of them coming up to his ideas. The noble Lord [Lord Cardiff] asserted that


the people of America were tainted with principles of republicanism in general, and had always showed a spirit of disobedience. He denied that either of those assertions were strictly just. The charge of republicanism was never even attempted to be made against any but the Northern Colonies, and there, he believed, with great injustice. And the charge of disobedience was still worse founded; for he believed, if the history of the Colonies was impartially considered and fairly decided on, from their first establishment, it would be found that no subjects had ever exhibited stronger proofs of duty, attachment, obedience, and affection for the parent State. If, indeed, the same spirit which compelled the first settlers to fly from the ecclesiastical and civil persecution and oppression of a tyrant was a spirit of republicanism, he trusted that spirit would never be extinct, either there or here; for if it should, then despotism would triumph, and nothing would be left for the Prince on the throne but to possess himself of the liberties of the people thus deserted and surrendered. He repeated his disapprobation of the address and amendment, and said he should not vote for either.

The Duke of Richmond arraigned the conduct of Administration in relation to the affairs of America; and described what he called the tremendous and awful situation this great empire was reduced to, the whole of which he attributed to a want of wisdom in Ministers, as well as a want of virtue in Parliament. His Grace mentioned the several measures adopted by the King' s servants against that country, and reminded their Lordships, that the consequences from the beginning to the very close of the last session, were exactly, nay, almost literally foretold by those who disapproved of them; that there was something very remarkable, however, in this combination of cause and effect; for while Opposition predicted the probable operation those coercive laws would produce, they did not neglect to remind Ministers, that they supposed those laws were expressly enacted for that purpose; if so, though such a conduct might well serve to impeach the justice of the measures, it proved in some degree, that they were not so much the effect of ignorance as design. America had the alternative to submit, or to abide the event of resistance; the several oppressive laws spoke that language; and as America refused to accede to terms of unconditional submission, she was of course compelled to declare herself independent. In that point of view, Ministers had been successful, and gained what they secretly wished for, though they did not dare to openly avow it; they put all on the issue of a trial of strength between the parties, in which struggle they flatter themselves they shall prevail. Such, certainly, was the express intention of the Capture Act; nothing less could be expected: this law was passed in order to put the Colonies to the test; it was meant to produce submission or independency; the former, in that stage of controversy, was not expected; independency was looked for; and Ministers, in one instance at least, were not disappointed. To prove the truth of what he now asserted, he gave a short history of the Capture Act; he showed, that the King' s speech, on the opening of the preceding session, promised that Commissioners should be sent out to treat with the Americans; that when this promise came to be fulfilled by Ministers, the farce was still kept up in the Capture Act, though nothing more than a bare power to receive submissions, and grant pardons, was expressed: yet trifling, absurd, and insidious, as this must appear, Ministers were resolved, that no good consequence should arise, for though the Royal word was pledged in October, and the law was passed the next month, no attempt was made to fulfill it on the part of Administration for full seven months after. This brought strongly into his mind a passage in a modern writer [Mr˙ Gibbon] who has written on the causes of the decline of the Roman Empire; where, speaking of the Christians, and the persecutions they suffered under some of the Roman Emperors, he says, "they were thus driven from the protection of the law." His Grace commented very pointedly on that passage in the King' s speech, which says, "that his desire is to restore to them [the people of America] the blessings of law and liberty, equally enjoyed by every British subject." This, he said, was a palpable fallacy; and could be only introduced into the speech by the Minister, in order to mislead the people of this country, and to incense them against their fellow-subjects in America; and he expressed his astonishment at the temerity of those who thus dared to


put such a sentence in the mouth of their Sovereign. It was absurd to the last degree; it was known to be directly repugnant to the express constitutional system of government established in this country, to that power of commercial control lodged in the seat of empire; and that great commercial law, the act of navigation, which withheld several great advantages from our dependencies in Ireland and America; consequently, it wasa vile imposition to suppose, that either the Sovereign could or would restore to America the blessings of law and liberty, equally enjoyed by every British subject, because such a promised enjoyment was no less false in contemplation than it was totally impracticable in the execution. His Grace next lamented the extreme degeneracy of Government; he boldly affirmed, that it was carried on solely through the means of bribery and corruption; that all test of publick conduct was laid aside, which depended upon freedom of thought, or freedom of acting. The indiscriminate support Ministers received, to whatever measures they thought proper to propose, though ever so ruinous and destructive, furnished daily proofs of it; and what, from a total disregard which prevailed among publick men, to the interests of the nation, and the innumerable modes of corruption, long established, with the new ones daily devised and discovered, he was in his conscience satisfied, that nothing but the personal virtue of the Sovereign prevented this country from a total loss of liberty. Like Sweden, it was ripe for the event; and he begged leave once more to give the most solemn testimony, to declare from the bottom of his heart, that nothing but the virtue of the Sovereign on the throne prevented this country from being at present under the dominion of arbitrary power.

His Grace, after testifying his high esteem for the Generals Howe and Carleton, with both of whom he had served, men equally deserving in their private characters, as of high merit in their respective professions, lamented the fatal effects of the war, with the conduct of which they are entrusted. From their known temper and disposition he should have conceived the most favourable hopes, if their hands had not been fettered by Ministers, nay, indeed, if they had not been actually prevented from taking any measures but such as the laws of war prescribed. This was a melancholy consideration, when we reflected, that every life lost on either side was a diminution of that strength which ought to be preserved, and which should be only employed against our natural and foreign enemies. This led his Grace to that part of the speech, which says, "I still hope that all misunderstandings may be removed, and Europe continue to enjoy the blessings of peace; I think it nevertheless necessary, that we should be in a respectable state of defence at home." This, he said, however artfully and plausibly disguised, with a view of answering a double purpose of holding out peace at the present, and preparing us for another interpretation, should the event make it necessary, was a most alarming piece of information. If any explanation was wanting, the press-warrants lately issued would serve as the best comment; they justified our apprehensions; they confirmed our fears, and the more so, when we recollected, that the greatest part of our only sure bulwark and national defence, our Navy, was on the other side of the Atlantick. He observed, that Ministers had been silent through inattention, or not being able to stand, on this very critical and trying occasion, the test of inquiry. It was no secret, he said, that France and Spain had been some time arming; that the disputes between Spain and Portugal were notorious, and the publick declarations of a Minister, in high favour at Court, and influence in the Cabinet, relative to the intended conduct of this country, should a rupture be the consequence of those disputes, made this disagreement a matter of very serious consideration, particularly as the passage in the speech, which alludes to that important affair, says only, "I hope, &c˙, that all misunderstandings may be removed." On the other hand, if the repeated accounts be true, that an open commerce is carried on between France and our Colonies; if the latter, in return for their native commodities, are supplied with military stores, will not this, if not discontinued on their part, be looked upon as an avowal of the cause of America? So that in either event, whether Portugal is attacked, or the Colonists are openly assisted and supported by France, a rupture with the united force of the House of Bourbon seems inevitable. From these important facts, and obvious deductions,


his Grace took occasion to expatiate on the dangerous predicament this country now stood in, a probable rupture with France and Spain, a civil war with our Colonies, our only national defence at the mercy this instant of our natural enemies, an accumulating debt, divided councils, and a distracted people on the verge of political despair. In such a dire and calamitous situation, he recommended a reconciliation with our Colonists upon any terms. He thought it would be much better to have them as friends than enemies, though we should be under the necessity of acknowledging them as so many independent States. He concluded his speech with protesting, that he did not believe that any measures that could now be adopted, would ever reconcile the people of America to our Government; the attempt, in his opinion, was impracticable. Though a change of Administration, and a change of measures in consequence thereof, should take place, he had no expectation that for his part either, or both, would produce any good consequence. A noble Lord, early in the debate, [Lord Cardiff,] had supposed, that this country would not support its rank, as a great European Power, without the Colonies: his Grace strongly doubted the truth of this reasoning. Britain had cut as conspicuous a figure, as she has done since, in the time of the Protectorate, before the Colonies were any addition to the strength or opulence of this country. Be that as it may, if the task of conquest was impracticable, as he believed it was, it would be better to retain our native strength than waste it to no purpose. In such a train of impending evils, as surrounded us on every side, he could only venture to pronounce one certain truth, that he was satisfied the country was ruined, he feared the nation was undone.

The Earl of SANDWICH said, the speech recommended measures so wisely framed, and so peculiarly well suited to the present situation of affairs, that he should not have troubled their Lordships, had not the noble Duke, who spoke last, alluded to some matters which, as connected with the office at which he had the honour to preside, he looked upon himself particularly called upon to explain. The noble Duke asserted, that the greatest part of our force was on the other side of the Atlantick, and that we were left defenceless at home. The first of these assertions was not founded in fact; for out of twenty-eight thousand seamen, with one of the most formidable fleets this country ever beheld, fifteen thousand, including the marines who were doing duty on shore, as well as on board the ships-of-war, and two line-of-battle-ships, were only on the other side of the Atlantick: and as to the other assertion, that we were left in a defenceless state at home, it was equally ill-founded; for we had a naval force at this instant ready for sea, allowing that the Courts of Versailles and Madrid had any hostile intentions towards us, which he was persuaded they had not, fully sufficient for our defence and protection. We had the most ample and unreserved assurances from those courts, of their pacifick and friendly dispositions. If they should turn out otherwise, we are prepared for the worst. He said he looked upon it to be his duty, as an official man, to take care, that the Navy, which was our only national defence, should be in the best condition in his power. He was happy to inform their Lordships, that it was so, and he was determined that this kingdom should be prepared for any event that might happen, He should not follow the amendment made by the noble Marquis, it took in so many different matters, little relative to the present subject of debate; but while it recommended a retrospective inquiry into the conduct of others, he could not, now he was up, help declaring, that the true cause of this civil war we are engaged in, was the bad policy of those, who, by their advice, power, influence, and official situations, laid a foundation for it, by the repeal of the Stamp Act. He had often said so, and would avow it with his last breath. As a friend to his country, he must dissent from the extraordinary proposition made by the noble Duke who spoke last, "recommending a reconciliation with America upon any terms, even upon grounds of admitting their independency." As an Englishman, and a friend to his country, he could not endure the thought; he would never consent to subscribe to a doctrine so derogatory to the honour, so disgraceful to the character, and so destructive to the interests of this country. He would risk every thing sooner than accede to it; he would hazard every drop of blood, and the last shilling of the national treasure, sooner than Britain should


be set at defiance, bullied, and dictated to by her ungrateful and undutiful children, her disobedient and rebellious subjects. He alluded to a passage in the last-mentioned noble Duke' s speech, in which he protested, that he did not believe either a change of men or measures, in consequence of it, would effect a reconciliation, so as to bring America back to her former disposition. He believed his Grace, for he was certain that the resentments of America were not directed against any particular set of men; he was convinced that they despised their supposed friends, as well as their pretended enemies; and that their intentions were uniformly from the beginning to render themselves independent of the parent State.

The Duke of RICHMOND mistaking his Lordship' s words, desired that he might be permitted to explain himself. He supposed that the last noble Lord imputed to him the following words: "Though there should be a change of men, there will be no change of measures." He therefore begged to be understood, that he neither meant, nor made use of any such expression. He thought it necessary, for he was certain, if there was a change of men, there would be a change of measures. For his part, he did not wish to take any official part in any such change, for the reason before assigned; because he was morally certain that all attempts to recover America would be in vain; the moment was passed, that country was now irretrievably lost.

The Earl of SANDWICH appealed to their Lordships' recollection, if the noble Duke had not totally misstated his words and misconceived his meaning, and wished to be set right, whether he had done more than repeat the words in the manner now explained by his Grace, as an argument to prove, that nothing now remained but to exert the force of this country to the fullest extent, in reducing America to a proper state of legal and constitutional dependence.

The Duke of GRAFTON prefaced his particular sentiments of the measures chalked out in the speech, in the strongest disapprobation of the conduct of Administration from the beginning. He pledged himself to the House, and to the publick, that while he had a leg to stand on, he would come down, day after day, to express the most marked abhorrence of the measures hitherto pursued, and meant to be adhered to, in respect to America. He condemned, in terms equally explicit and unreserved, the measures which had compelled America to declare herself independent, though he was sorry for it, and thought she acted extremely wrong in so doing. He said, Ministers had not only effected this part of their scheme, by a set of the most cruel, oppressive, destructive, and impolitick laws, that were ever devised by a deliberate assembly, but they had likewise brought themselves into a situation which had been often predicted by those on this side of the House; he intended by this expression, he said, no particular distinction of party; he meant only the noble Lords with whom he voted in the course of the last session on American affairs. Those predictions Ministers affected to disbelieve; though the experience of that day, the very speech delivered from the throne, proved this truth; and when other circumstances came to be revealed, their veracity could not be questioned, they were beyond the reach of doubt, much less of naked contradiction. He was justified, from an authority which could not be disputed, to aver, that four ships of the line, with a considerable number of land forces on board, had lately sailed from Cadiz; that another fleet of seven men of war of the line, with a body of at least ten thousand land forces, were preparing to follow them; that the French had been for some months busily employed in making very formidable naval preparations; the consequence of which was, that a strong squadron of men-of-war were now lying at Brest, completely fitted and manned, waiting only for orders to proceed to the place of its intended destination. His Grace attributed our present alarming situation to a want of proper information: it was, he contended, the great cause of all our misfortunes. Parliament was led blindfolded; they assented to every thing Ministers proposed; they reposed an unlimited confidence in their assurances; and though, perhaps, from the same spirit of obstinacy and infatuation, they should wilfully continue to persist in errour, they must acknowledge that they were grossly, and, he believed wilfully deceived. He reminded Ministers, how often, and with what confidence, the last year, when the possible, if not probable, interference of foreign Powers was suggested,


as a strong ground of expediency for us to relax in our claims on America, and to adopt conciliatory measures, they pledged themselves to Parliament that no impediment or obstruction was to be dreaded from that quarter; that our Court daily received the most full and satisfactory assurances, assurances that might be safely relied on, of the pacifick disposition of both France and Spain; yet all of a sudden press-warrants are issued, while, if the speech may be depended on, such a precaution is unnecessary. Two days before the meeting of Parliament, the substance of the speech is flatly contradicted, the assurances are no longer to be relied on; the noble Lord who presides at the Admiralty tells you that it became necessary to prepare for the worst. Does his Lordship mean to amuse us, by telling us that our present armament was only meant to put us in a state of defence, confessing by that assertion, at the same time, that, before the steps now taken, the nation was not in a proper state of defence, contrary to the repeated assurances that his Lordship had given to this House that it was?

The Earl of SANDWICH (to explain) insisted that he never meant to say that the nation was not in a state of defence previous to the preparations now going on, for he was certain that we were all along prepared; what he meant to say was, that as a dispute subsisted between Spain and Portugal, which might call for our interference, as well as mediation, if pushed to extremities, he thought it his duty to prepare for the worst, in order to give our mediation the proper effect.

The Duke of GRAFTON replied to this explanation by observing, that although every thing asserted by the noble Lord had been literally true, he begged leave to differ from him in thinking that our home defence could be looked upon as complete, while we solely depended on our Navy. Adverse winds and a thousand accidents fleets were liable to, pointed out the necessity of auxiliary assistance, such as a strong military force, should an enemy by chance, or any other means, effect a landing. A strong instance of the truth of this observation had, he begged leave to remind their Lordships, happened during the late war, when Sir Edward Hawke was wind-bound in Torbay, so as not to be able to prevent Conflans from invading some part of these kingdoms, though he was apprised of his intention. At the critical instant Providence interposed, and the wind suddenly changing, Sir Edward was enabled to proceed to sea, and meet the enemy at the very moment they had cleared the land, by which fortunate circumstance he was enabled to engage them, and defeating them, prevented an invasion which might have been productive of the worst consequences. His Grace concluded therefore, in answer to the noble Earl' s general argument in support of the measures of Administration, allowing every one of his Lordship' s assertions to be founded in fact, and to carry with them the effect they were wished to produce, that a powerful naval force was not sufficient alone for home defence; that the silence of the other members of the Cabinet had the most unfavourable appearance; and as the noble Lord seemed to trust so much to the respectable state of the Navy previous to the press, he would be glad to have a specifick answer to this question: Was the naval force a fews days since a sufficient defence against that now fitting out and ready to sail from Brest? Because, if it was not, then Parliament had been designedly misled, the nation had been grossly and criminally deceived, Ministers had trusted the safety of the kingdom to an inferiour force, and had by so doing given Parliament official information that was not to be relied on. Such, then, being the slate of publick affairs respecting both America and the unfavourable dispositions, if not the direct hostile intentions, of foreign Powers, the love he bore his country, his respect for his sovereign, his duty as a member of that House, forbid him to approve of an address so big with mischief, and so much calculated to lull the nation into a fatal security, while its dearest interests, its very existence, were on the eve of being ultimately decided upon. On the contrary, he would most earnestly recommend, at this alarming crisis, to suspend all further proceedings, in order that the House might resolve itself into a Committee, to inquire into the state of the nation, to learn the true causes which have occasioned the revolt of our American subjects, to discover their authors, and to devise the best measures for rescuing the nation from the innumerable perils with which it is at this present instant surrounded.


The Earl of SANDWICH said, he could give a direct answer to the question now proposed; he could assure the House from his own certain knowledge, that before any late preparation was made on our part, we had a naval force sufficient to cope with any now at Brest, fitting out there, or preparing to depart. The armament alluded to was but a small one, consisting only of six ships of the line; but if it had been greater, we were sufficiently prepared. In answer to something suggested by the Duke of Grafton, relative to the real motives of the armament, whether it was or was not occasioned by the disputes subsisting between Spain and Portugal, he said it was not; but as France had thought proper to augment her Navy, he thought it his duty to agree with his brethren in office, not entirely to trust to assurances. Assurances were on some occasions to be firmly relied on, when they were accompanied with appearances that bore a full and unequivocal testimony of their truth; when they were not, they became an object of serious attention, and called for suitable measures from those whose business it was to watch them. As to the expense objected to by the noble Duke, however prudent it might be to attend to it in some situations, in others it became an object of no concern. An, early and timely preparation on our part would have the effect of substantial economy; it would probably be the last expense; for, by incurring it in time, it might, perhaps, prevent a much greater.

The Duke of Richmond again rose; he begged to state the question on a larger ground than it was propounded by the noble Duke who spoke last but one. He observed, that the noble Lord who undertook the defence of Administration, had confessed that the French were fitting out a fleet at Brest; that in consequence of that armament, not on account, of the dispute between Spain and Portugal, his Lordship, with the rest of the Cabinet Ministers, had advised his Majesty to make the present proposed naval augmentation. He should, therefore, be glad to know, if the preparations in the ports of France were of a long standing, or whether they came only to the knowledge of Administration within a few days; and if they were of a long standing, how came Administration to defer taking the necessary measures earlier? He again reprehended Ministers very severely on this silence, which if longer persisted in, he should impute to the most unbecoming and criminal contempt, or to their inability of giving a satisfactory answer.

Lord Viscount WEYMOUTH said, the absence of two Cabinet Ministers [Lords Gower and Suffolk] was the occasion of that silence on the part of Administration which had been improperly imputed to a reluctance or inability to give satisfaction to the House. He defended the speech from the several objections made to it; and said, he particularly rose to explain a matter which had been unwarrantably pressed on the noble Earl who spoke last on the same side. The noble Duke who spoke before him proposed the following dilemma: Either Administration knew of the armament fitting out at Brest, or they did not; if they did, and failed so much in their duty as not to take the necessary steps to meet and counteract, then we were blamable; if they did not, they were still more censurable for neglecting so indispensable a part of their duty. Now, in his opinion, without admitting either conclusion, the matter might be cleared up, and Ministers, instead of incurring any just censure, would be found to have acted perfectly consistent and judiciously; for they knew that the preparations were going on: and they resolved to keep pace with them. In answer, therefore, to the charge, why did you not arm earlier? it is enough to say, that notice was received of the armaments going on in France; that Administration availed themselves of that information; that the ships intended for service were fitted for sea; and that when the moment arrived in which it was prudent for this country to make her real intentions known, orders were given for a press, the ships were ready to receive the men, and as soon as the number of seamen necessary to proceed to sea are procured, it is only to ship them, and the business will be completed. He congratulated the nation on the address, and the expedition with which the whole was executed; and was glad to find, though nothing of the kind was intended, that the secrecy with which the whole was conducted should make the transaction pass unobserved in general, and should have, in particular, escaped the eagle and observant eyes of the noble Lords on the other side of the House, who, by their total


ignorance of the precautions and preparations his Majesty' s servants had wisely been making, showed their vigilance and activity, while it demonstrated the prudence that accompanied that vigilance which could effect its purposes without creating an alarm either at home or abroad. It was no secret to great numbers, that the nation was not only prepared, but earlier prepared than was expected by those who might think they would have an interest and advantage in being beforehand with us, and thereby taking us by surprise.

The Duke of Richmond returned to the question put to the first Lord of the Admiralty by the noble Duke in the blue ribbon, [the Duke of Grafton.] He said his Lordship had artfully evaded giving a direct answer to the question proposed to him. He had answered, that the naval force of this country, before the press-warrants were issued, was superiour to the armament then fitting out at Brest. He begged leave to put the question upon a more general ground. Is the naval force of Britain, now ready to proceed to sea, sufficient for home defence, and for the necessary defence of the empire, supposing that France and Spain should break with us, either by abetting America, or in case of an attack upon Portugal? This, his Grace said, was a question that could not be evaded or answered in the affirmative, without a professed design to mislead the House and impose on the nation.

The Earl of Sandwich answered, that our fleet was in prime condition; that the complements of our ships were nearly made up; and, that we could fit out a fleet at a short notice nearly equal to all the Powers of Europe.

The Lord WYCOMBE [Earl of Shelburne] said he was astonished that the House could continue to submit coolly to the contempt with which Administration had treated it, both in the speech, and the manner in which the speech was defended in the course of the evening. The speech, he said, was a piece of metaphysical refinement, framed with a purposed design to impose; the defence made to continue the imposition, was nothing more than a string of sophisms, no less wretched in their texture, than insolent in their tenour. He said, he was no great metaphysician, but still he knew enough of the science of metaphysics to see and detect the manifest falsehoods, clothed in the semblance of truth, particularly when the garment was so thin, or the disguise so gross and ill-suited, that further confidence would be madness, and remaining in errour would be the effect of the most senseless stupidity.

Such being the contents of the speech, the manifest intention of its framers, and the shameful conduct of its defenders, he begged the indulgence of the House, while he briefly delivered his sentiments on those several points. As the first part of his engagement, he proceeded to consider the speech paragraph by paragraph. In the execution of this task, he trusted he should prove, that it was fraught with a mixture of the most unqualified absurdity, treachery, cruelty, hypocrisy, and deceit. The very opening of it was manifestly fallacious; for how was it possible to expect unanimity at home in support of the prosecution of a war, the original object of which was professedly to enslave three millions of British born subjects? How could Ministers dare to call for unanimity from those whom they had so repeatedly insulted, betrayed, and deceived? and the imputation of unanimity was still more absurd, when it was looked for from those who had so often predicted, nay literally foretold them every circumstance which had happened in the course of this cruel and bloody business to the present instant; and had frequently, during the last session of Parliament, faithfully described the present awful and alarming state of this country, both in regard of her subjects in America, and her home security. His Lordship observed, that the first paragraph contained many specious falsehoods, as well as those he had just remarked on. It charged the Americans with "rejecting the means of conciliation held out to them under the authority of our commission, with circumstances of indignity and insult." This his Lordship contended was no less untrue, than plausibly and artfully stated. For the pretended means of conciliation alluded to, were held back so long, the commission not being made out, nor the Commissioners sent till about the middle of May, that the people of America, if the Commissioners were armed with powers sufficient to hold out fair and solid means of conciliation, were fully justified in declaring themselves independent,


from the most obvious motives of self preservation; but when these pretended means of conciliation held out nothing but a naked offer of pardon, on the terms of unconditional submission, the hitherto unparalleled effrontery of Ministers, who could thus dare to deceive their Sovereign, could now be only equalled by the political blindness and tame servility of those who could submit, or swallow such gross deviations in point of fact, and misrepresentations in argument and conclusion. Every opprobrious charge which could tend to inflame the people of this country against their fellow-subjects in America was stuffed into the speech, and had been copied and improved on by the friends of Administration, particularly two or three of the noble Lords, who spoke early in the debate. They have been represented daring, desperate, traitorous, insolent, ungrateful, and rebellious. These, he said, were strong charges, and they required suitable proofs. For his part, whatever the speech may have decided, or however eager the supporters of the speech might have been to improve on the pattern or doctrines therein laid down, he could never be persuaded to deem people taking up arms in defence of their property, their privileges, and unalienable rights, Rebels; if such doctrines had prevailed at the time of the Revolution, their lordships would not then probably be sitting in that House. If resisting a lawful authority, though perhaps not a rightful authority, be the essence of treason, the Whigs at the Revolution were rank Rebels, in the sense the speech used the term. King James the II, was their lawful King! It is true, he endeavoured to trample, and in some instances, did invade their rights; but still, if a resistance of lawful authority constituted an act of treason in every possible event, the Whigs in 1688, and the Provincials now in arms, may be deemed Rebels. It was an opinion he never could accede to; he would always continue to think that both were a constitutional resistance to a power originally legal, but which, by an unconstitutional exercise of it, had degenerated into the most oppressive stages of an usurped arbitrary power. He said, while he gave his opinion so explicitly on the sufferings of America, he would wish to be understood, that he never meant this country should relinquish its right of commercial controul and regulation over that; on the contrary, he always thought, that that power of regulating the trade of the Colonies, was the very essence of the political connection subsisting between both countries; that even if this regulatory power was defined in its most full and extensive sense, and acknowledged on the part of the Colonies, yet something more might be still expected; the national debt, under which the people of this country now groan, is truly and equitably the debt of every individual in the whole empire, whether in Asia, America, or nearer home. But until the Americans had full satisfaction on the question of taxation, and ample reparation for the attack on their charters, till the exclusive right of taxing themselves, and the most solemn security was given them for their colonial privileges, derived through their respective legislative assemblies, it was in vain to talk of conciliation. It was possible extirpation might follow from the means of conciliation held out to them, but he was certain, notwithstanding what may have been held out in the speech, conciliation never would, These, he said, were his general sentiments relative to that species of dependency America owes of right to the parent State. It might not meet the approbation of a great number of persons on the other side of the Atlantick. That, however, did by no means influence his opinion; it had been the same from the beginning. He did not now take it up, because our affairs in that country wore at present a more favourable aspect than at any time during the last session; for he expressed himself precisely in similar terms, at the time that America was flushed with success, when they had every foot of Canada in their possession, the town of Quebeck excepted. He referred to the pamphlet written by Dr˙ Price, at the end of which a speech was printed in his name, which he owned was authentick.

The second paragraph in the speech was another metaphysical refinement equally ill supported in fact or argument; if it contained any substantial truth, it was, that the same violent oppressive measures were determined to be pursued; that we must prepare for another campaign, and that the foreign mercenaries had executed, with a bloody alacrity, the horrid purposes of their paymasters, by butchering our fellow-subjects in cold blood. It was a very proper and timely eulogium in return for a faithful discharge of their


duty, and, he presumed, was intended to operate as a powerful stimulative to perseverance in the same commendable line of conduct.

On the third paragraph he likewise commented; and insisted, that it was fraught with the most gross and notorious falsehoods; no assurances of amity were, or could be, received; and if they were received, and could be depended on, why arm? why put the nation to so monstrous an expense? why despatch your press-gangs in every quarter of the town? why let loose so many bands of ruffians to enter by force into people' s dwellings, to drag the unhappy master of a numerous family from them, aboard a tender, where perhaps the first account they hear of him is, that he died of grief and vexation, or of the cruel usage and bad treatment he received before or during his passage to, or being aboard at the Nore. His Lordship, however, was proud to find, that by the spirited conduct of the Lord Mayor of London (Mr˙ Sawbridge) a stop had been put to those horrid outrages within the limits of his jurisdiction. He had refused to back press-warrants, though it was insinuated by those that applied, on his refusal, that the request was merely complimentary, for that the press would be carried into the city. He said, if any proof were wanting of the unpopularity of the present barbarous war, that honest Magistrate' s conduct, as expressing the sentiments of the inhabitants of the first city in the empire, perhaps in the world, was the most irrefragable and conclusive. If, upon any other occasion, the most distant prospect of a foreign war was only so much as talked of, the citizens of London would be the foremost and most conspicuous in expressing their zeal for chastising our foreign enemies; but when it was known that the present threatened rupture is corrected, or more properly speaking, is a consequence of an unnatural proscription of three millions of their fellow-subjects, the spirit of the nation is bowed down and enfeebled, their hearts, as well as their countenances, are frozen, and they even remain in a kind of political stupour, scarcely venturing to decide in their own hearts, whether a vigorous resistance against our foreign enemies may not be the means of ensuring evils, no less to be avoided, than even defeat from the hands of our natural foes, that of forging chains for our American brethren, as the leading measure in due season to the riveting them on ourselves. His Lordship assured the noble Earl, [Lord Sandwich,] who supposed that he went over to the Continent to seek intelligence, that he was misinformed or mistaken in his conjectures. It was true that he did go to France towards the latter end of the summer, but with no such intention as the noble Earl was pleased to impute. He was in Britanny, and in several parts of the sea-coast, where he received every mark of politeness, hospitality, and kindness, that was in the power of the inhabitants of the country to bestow; it was, he said, the native disposition of the nobility and gentry of France, to conduct themselves in that manner towards, all strangers pf rank, or worthy of note. He was certain that there was not one of their Lordships present, if in his situation, who would not have had a reception equally kind, friendly, and respectful. It would ill become him, therefore, if he had learned any thing, through such a confidential medium, to disclose it. He trusted he was incapable of acting in such a manner; but whatever withere might be in the noble Earl' s insinuation, there was nothing in it solid, or relative to the present subject of debate; for without stirring out of England, without looking for official information, every body had repeatedly heard that Spain and Portugal were seemingly on the eve of a rupture, relative to a dispute of boundaries of territory in the Brazils, which, in its consequences, was likely to involve Britain in a war; that Spain and France had been arming for some months; that a formidable fleet is now fitting out at Brest; that the French and Spanish ports were rendered asylums and places of safety to the American privateers, both in Europe and the West-Indies; that warlike stores were daily transported both in French and American bottoms, openly, from almost every port in France; that the latter Court had, as often as applied to, positively refused to forbid or prohibit American trading vessels or ships of war from entering their ports; and that, to complete the whole, a person from the Congress, if not two or three, were now in a publick character at the Court of Versailles; not perhaps received with the formalities of an Envoy Extraordinary, to agree upon specifick articles,


but most certainly armed with all the efficient powers of a person treating on the part of an independent State, on certain preliminary conditions, leading to engagements of a most consequential and important nature. These being incontrovertible facts, daily repeated in the publick papers, and known universally to every person who spent a single hour' s consideration, or bestowed the least degree of attention on the subject, he looked upon himself fully satisfied in flatly contradicting the passage alluded to, and solemnly affirming that we do not continue to receive assurances of amity from the several Courts of Europe, or that receiving them, it was a gross imposition on Parliament, to even insinuate that they were to be relied or depended on. His Lordship turned with great indignation on the Cabinet Ministers; said, it was very lucky for such of them as were absent; for surely, in the present situation of affairs, they must cut a very awkward figure: but he was astonished how the noble Viscount could so forget, as to say, that we had been preparing for some months, when the contrary was well known to every clerk and store-keeper in the several dock-yards; nay, a most curious circumstance was generally reported, and believed to be true, which was, that the speech, as first manufactured, was obliged to be altered two days before its final revision; such being the information Ministers had of the disposition of foreign courts on the Thursday night or Friday morning previous to the issuing the press-warrants. He reprehended the noble Lord whose province it was to procure the necessary information, in very severe terms. He said, when he had the honour of occupying the same post, he spared no pains or expense to be fully, timely, and minutely informed. He was apprised of every step taken by France, in relation to the purchase and intended conquest of Corsica, from its very commencement. While that matter was in agitation, he kept it continually in his mind, and often thought of it on his pillow; and though he was left alone, and deserted by all his colleagues in office, and brethren in Cabinet, he had the conscious pleasure in recollecting that he had done his duty, and that nothing could be fairly imputed to his neglect or inattention.

On the concluding paragraph of the speech, his Lordship was also severe. He said it was a compound of the most glaring hypocrisy and deceit, unless attempting to rob the people of America of their property, by laying taxes without their consent or approbation, or stripping them of their charters, the only legal foundation of their legislative and personal privileges, as a proof "that no people ever enjoyed more happiness under a milder Government," or unless, since the resistance to this mild Government, the sending over an Army of blood-thirsty foreign mercenaries to cut their throats, as the first step "to restore them the blessings of law and liberty, equally enjoyed by every British subject," be a truism, he could not discover the most distant semblance of truth throughout the whole sentence. His Lordship concluded with calling on the Cabinet Ministers present, to declare whether they had applied to the Court of Versailles on any of the leading points now mentioned; whether they were disavowed, mitigated, or explained by that Court; whether, on the other hand, they were openly avowed, or replied to in such a manner as to give us to understand that they would, when their armaments were rendered more forward. These, his Lordship insisted, were matters that called for so many explicit answers: that until explanations were had on them substantially, or in detail, it was impossible that their Lordships could, with safety, proceed, much less vote the present address, which might, or might not be true, taking the matter in the most favourable light. In fine, it was absurd, it was an insult on common sense, to talk of "assurances of amity from foreign Powers," while some of those Powers were, at least hitherto, known to secretly abet, and, in some instances, openly countenance, nourish, and support, our subjects now resisting our authority in America.

The Lord OSBORNE said he was far from approving the conduct of Administration; he was satisfied that they justly incurred censure in several parts of it; yet he could by no means agree with the amendment, as it held out investigation and inquiry at the instant that the fullest exertion of the Naval and Military strength of Great Britain was called for, as well for our own protection, as to bring back our subjects in America into a constitutional acknowledgment of the superiority of this country as the parent and governing


State: when that acknowledgment was obtained, then he would recommend the most mild and conciliating terms that could be well imagined. No noble Lord in that House would go further, or more cheerfully, in restoring peace upon fair, equitable, and reasonable terms than he would, if they submitted to the legislative power of this country; till that should happen to be the case, none would more zealously support such measures as might promise to compel them to a constitutional submission to the British Legislature. Nothing came more fully up to the ideas he entertained and wished to convey on the great American question, than the Declaratory Act passed in 1766, on the repeal of the Stamp Act; that asserted the legislative supremacy of this country in its fullest extent, and he was astonished that the framers of that act could offer to defend America, when the very resistance which produced the present unhappy civil war, was made expressly in contradiction to the parliamentary rights therein maintained. He spoke much of the ingratitude of America, the favours we had heaped upon her, and the insupportable burdens we had loaded ourselves with, in rearing, nourishing, and protecting her, till at length we had raised her to a pitch of strength and opulence, sufficient to trust the decision of her cause to the event of arms. Such was the state of things; and now we had no alternative but either to suffer America to erect herself into an independent sovereign State, which was an opinion, he trusted, would never prevail in that House, or exert ourselves to the utmost stretch of our abilities. He said, the success of our troops at Long-Island, and the probable good consequences it may be productive of, would, he hoped, give us such a footing in America, as would break the Rebel Confederacy in some measure. If New-York is taken, which he had little doubt was the case before now, a civil Government might be reestablished there, which would afford an asylum to those who were forced into a rebellion against their inclination, or had suffered for not doing so. It would give an opportunity to the friends of Great Britain to show their attachment to the parent State, and might probably, in the end, form so powerful a balance, as would be sufficient to restore that country to a state of obedience and tranquillity, without the sad necessity of wading to it through blood and slaughter.

The Earl of SHELBURNE perceiving that the Earl of Sandwich declined giving any answer relative to what steps had been taken by Administration towards bringing the Court of Versailles to an eclaircissement, on account of the open countenance and secret assistance which had been given to America in the course of the present civil war, called once more on his Lordship, and at the same time insisted he should give the House some information, relative to the state of the Navy, the number of ships we could fit out upon an emergency, a list of those now serving in America, and the force collected in the French ports.

The Earl of SANDWICH said, he did not think himself permitted to give the explanation required: such an explanation would not be prudent at this time. If the intentions of France were hostile, it might not be proper, though he believed they were not. At all events he thought such an eclaircissement would be highly improper respecting our home defence. As for the force serving in America, it consisted of two ships-of-the-line, ten fifties, and seventy-one frigates and armed vessels, amounting in the whole to eighty-three ships and vessels of war, and fifteen thousand seamen.

The Earl of SHELBURNE said, he did not make the requisition now evaded, by way of a personal application. He knew his Lordship too well, and had too thorough a knowledge of him, to trouble him on any subject on which he should be obliged to depend on his word. He called upon him in his official character, and expected to be answered.

The Earl of SANDWICH said, he could not satisfy his Lordship; that the question was of too delicate a nature to admit of an explanation; that nothing was said in that House that did not get out; that let our force be what it might, we should, from motives of policy, forbear to disclose it, particularly when foreign Powers were arming, and known to be in some degree of forwardness; that if we had any enemies, they would be soon made acquainted with our situation. It might be supposed, that people would not be wanting, nay, if all other means were denied, the very doorkeepers might, and must have it in their power to disclose that species of intelligence, which it is our business to conceal.


The Earl of SCHELBURNE said he was astonished, that any man in office in that House, who was responsible to the publick, and accountable to their Lordships, dare, on so important an occasion, trifle with the House, and refuse the necessary information, when he, at the same time, confessed it was in his power to satisfy them. [Here a great confusion arose, and a general call for Order! Order! Order!]

The Duke of RICHMOND contended, that his noble friend was by no means disorderly; that as a Lord of Parliament, sitting in that House, and called upon for his advice, he had a right to have the question now put fully and fairly answered.

The Earl of SANDWICH replied, he was in the judgment of the House; that he was ready, if the House insisted on it. [A cry of No! No! No!]

The Earl of BRISTOL. I think the noble Earl is properly justifiable in not answering the question now so warmly pressed, unless at the express desire of the House. The House do not wish for any such explanation, in which, I am of opinion, they have acted very wisely. It would answer no one good purpose: I am certain, taking the fact either way, it might be productive of many bad ones. The noble Earl preserves every possible confidence that can be reposed in him. I had the honour of sitting with him at the Board, at which his Lordship now presides, and can, from my own knowledge and experience in my profession and official character, affirm, that no man is capable of discharging the duties of the important station he now fills with more fidelity and ability than his Lordship. The noble Lord who spoke last but one, [Lord Shelburne,] is very desirous to be acquainted with the detail of our naval force at home. I can tell his Lordship, that we have twenty-three ships-of-the-line, their complements nearly full, and the ships in a condition to proceed to sea at a day' s notice. I will tell him further, that the present press will furnish us with seamen sufficient to man the ships going to be put into commission; that we may have forty sail-of-the-line ready for sea by the first of March; nay, I may venture farther, and assure the House, that they will be ready early in February. From which, I am fairly authorized to draw this clear deduction, and which will be partly an answer to the question put early in the debate by the noble Duke in the blue ribbon, [Duke of Grafton,] the other noble Duke who enlarged the question, [Duke of Richmond,] and by the noble Lord, [Lord Shelburne,] whom I last mentioned; and it is this: that the guard-ships are a full match for any naval armament now ready in the French and Spanish harbours, and that the additional armament proposed to be fitted out, will give us such a fleet, as the whole combined force of France and Spain will not, by the time I have first stated, be able to cope with.

The same noble Earl has passed great encomiums on the Chief Magistrate of the City of London, for what his Lordship is pleased to term that Magistrate' s spirited and commendable conduct. He has, he says, refused to back the press-warrants. Now, for my part, I entertain a very different opinion of the worthy Magistrate' s conduct; and so far from being a popular step, I trust it will meet with that degree of publick disapprobation it justly merits. The noble Lord himself looks upon a war with France and Spain to be inevitable: we may presume, that his Lordship and his favourite Magistrate, unite in opinion. How then are we to interpret the conduct of one, or the approbation of the other? They must know, that though the strength and security of the Island is known to depend upon our Navy, that without seamen ships are of no service, and that on emergencies, such as the present, we are always obliged to have recourse to a press; yet, what must we think of those who, at so critical and alarming a crisis, would sooner sacrifice, not only the interests, but hazard the very existence of the nation to party views and personal resentments. The noble Lord supposes, that the absence of the greater part of our frigates on the other side of the Atlantick, is at present a very dangerous circumstance, if any actual sudden operations were intended to be carried into execution. That, however, is not the case; nothing of the kind is expected; but even if it were, we have several frigates at home fit for service, and several others that could be easily made ready for sea at a short notice; besides, if things should take a more serious and decisive turn, we could order home a sufficient


number from America. Without sending for them, now that the landings are effected, there will be no occasion for such a number to be kept in America, consequently several of them will return to Britain. My Lords, I have spent the greatest part of my life in the naval service, and mean to dedicate the remainder to my profession, if circumstances should make it necessary. I know that things wear a suspicious appearance; but I know likewise, that we are, as the noble Earl has more than once assured your Lordships this night, prepared for the worst. The British Navy has always hitherto been invincible, and I trust ever will. Whatever character I have obtained in the service, either as an official or professional man, I am ready to stake it, that we will be more than a match for our enemies, taking the question of a rupture at the present, or at any more remote period. I am, my Lords, thoroughly convinced of the truth of what I now advance; and as the best proof, both of my own conviction and of my readiness to support those sentiments, am ready to take any command which it may be thought proper to entrust me with. I will never serve in any other character, but that which I have been accustomed to from my earliest youth. I would decline any other were it offered to me, while I would cheerfully execute any commands which might be laid upon me in the way of my profession.

The amendment being negatived, was entered as a Protest, as follows:

Amendment proposed to be made to the motion for an Address on his Majesty' s Speech.

"To assure his Majesty, that, animated with the most earnest and sincere zeal for his true interest, and the real glory of his reign, we behold with inexpressible concern the minds of a very large and lately loyal and affectionate part of his people entirely alienated from his Government. Nor can we conceive, that such an event, as the disaffection and revolt of a whole people, could have taken place, without some considerable errours in the conduct observed towards them.

"These erroneous measures, we conceive, are to be imputed to a want of sufficient information being laid before Parliament, and to too large a degree of confidence being reposed in those Ministers, who from their duty were obliged, and from their official situation were best enabled, to know the temper and disposition of his Majesty' s American subjects, and were therefore presumed most capable of pointing out such measures as might produce the most salutary effect. Hence the schemes which were formed for the reduction and chastisement of a supposed inconsiderable party of factious men, have driven thirteen large Provinces to despair. Every act which has been proposed as a means of procuring peace and submission, has become a new cause of war and revolt; and we now find ourselves almost inextricably involved in a bloody and expensive civil war; which, besides exhausting at present the strength of all his Majesty' s dominions, exposing our allies to the designs of their and our enemies, and leaving this kingdom in a most perilous situation, threatens in its issue the most deplorable calamities to the whole British race.

"We cannot avoid lamenting, that in consequence of the credit afforded to the representations of Ministers, no hearing has been given to the reiterated complaints and petitions of the Colonies; neither has any ground been laid for removing the original cause of these unhappy differences, which took their rise from questions relative to parliamentary proceeding, and can be settled only by parliamentary authority. By this fatal omission, the Commissioners nominated for the apparent purpose of making peace, were furnished with no legal power but those of giving or withholding pardons at their pleasure, and of relaxing the severities of a single penal act of Parliament, leaving the whole foundation of this unhappy controversy just as it stood at the beginning.

"To represent to his Majesty, that in addition to this neglect, when, in the beginning of the last session, his Majesty, in his gracious speech to both Houses of Parliament, had declared his resolution of sending out Commissioners for the purposes therein expressed, as speedily as possible; no such Commissioners were sent until near seven months afterwards, and until the nation was alarmed by the evacuation of the only town then held for his Majesty in the


thirteen United Colonies. By this delay, acts of the most critical nature, the effect of which must as much depend on the power of immediately relaxing them on submission, as in enforcing them upon disobedience, had only an operation to inflame and exasperate. But if any Colony, town, or place, had been induced to submit by the operation of the terrours of these acts, there were none in the place of power to restore the people so submitting to the common rights of Subjection. The inhabitants of the Colonies, apprised that they were put out of the protection of Government, and seeing no means provided for their entering into it, were furnished with reasons, but too colourable, for breaking off their dependency on the Crown of this kingdom.

"To assure his Majesty, that, removing our confidence from those who in so many instances have grossly abused it, we shall endeavour to restore to Parliament the confidence of all his people.

"To this end it may be advisable to make a more minute inquiry into the grievances of the Colonies, as well as into the conduct of Ministers with regard to them. We may think it proper particularly to inquire, how it has happened, that the commerce of this kingdom has been left exposed to the reprisals of the Colonies, at the very time when their seamen and fishermen, being indiscriminately prohibited from the peaceable exercise of their occupations and declared open enemies, must be expected, with a certain assurance, to betake themselves to plunder, and to wreak their revenge on the commerce of Great Britain.

"That we understand, that amidst the many disasters and disgraces which have attended on his Majesty' s arms in many parts of America, an advantage has been gained by his Majesty' s British and foreign mercenary forces in the Province of New-York. That if a wise, moderate, and provident use be made of their advantage, it is not improbable that happy effects may result from that use. And we assure his Majesty that nothing shall be wanting on our part to enable his Majesty to take full advantage of any dispositions to reconciliation, which may be the consequence of the miseries of war, by laying down, on our part, real permanent grounds of connection between Great Britain and the Colonies, on principles of liberty and terms of mutual advantage.

"That whilst we lament this effusion of English blood, (which we hope has not been greater, or other than necessity required and honour justified,) we should most heartily congratulate his Majesty on any event leading to the great desirable end of settling a peace, which might promise to last, by the restoration of the ancient affection which has happily subsisted in former times between this Kingdom and its Colonies; any other would necessarily require, even in case of a total conquest, an army to maintain, ruinous to the finances and incompatible with the freedom of his Majesty' s people. We should look with the utmost shame and horrour on any events, of what nature soever, that should tend to break the spirit of any large part of the British nation, to bow them to an abject, unconditional submission to any power whatsoever, to annihilate their liberties, and to subdue them to servile principles and passive habits by the mere force of foreign mercenary arms. Because, amidst the excesses and abuses which have happened, we must respect the spirit and principles operating in these commotions. Our wish is, to regulate, not destroy them. For, though differing in some circumstances, those very principles evidently bear so exact an analogy with those which support the most valuable part of our own constitution, that it is impossible, with any appearance of justice, to think of wholly extirpating them by the sword in any part of his Majesty' s dominions, without admitting consequences and establishing precedents the most dangerous to the liberties of this Kingdom."

The question was put, Whether these words shall stand part of the motion?

It was resolved in the negative.

Contents, 26, 26
Not contents, 82, 91
Proxies, 9, 91

Dissentient. — Manchester, Portland, Richmond, Scarborough, Devonshire, Rockingham, King, Craven, Fitzwilliam, Abingdon, De Ferrars, Effingham, Abergavenny, Ponsonby.