H́nh ảnh trang

same side, and stated the question to be, Is it advisable that the mode of assistance to be pursued by this country should be to make ourselves principals in this war, by embarking the whole of our disposable force in the issue of such a contest, where our enemy could bring the whole force of the continent of Europe to oppose us? This question he did not hesitate to answer negatively; and therefore protested against pledging the house to agree to the employment of any additional force in the peninsula. His lordship also touched upon the negociation with America, expressing his sense of the great importance of the issue, and his hopes that no further opportunities would be neglected of bring ing about a thorough reconciliation.

The Earl of Liverpool took up the defence of the address; and with regard to the war in the peninsula, he observed, that it contained no kind of pledge to support any specific mode of carrying on that war; yet when the subject should come before them, he did not despair of being able to convince their lordships, that the system adopted with respect to Spain and Portugal was the best that could have been pursued. In the conclusion of his speech he thus expressed the sentiments of the ministry with respect to America: "He had no hesitation in declaring, that government fully appreciated the value of that connexion; that they were disposed to act towards the United States in the most conciliatory manner; and that there was no political object for which they were more anxious than to establish the fullest and

freest commercial intercourse between the two countries, the incalculable advantages of which both knew from experience. It was never the intention of the British government to provoke a contest with the United States. The mea❤ sures which we were compelled to adopt were for the purpose of vindicating and asserting our rights; rights which involved the honour, the security, and the prosperity of the country. If the effects of these measures have incidentally fallen upon the commerce of America, it is not the fault of the British government. It is to be lamented that innocent parties should suffer by the arrangements we were compelled to adopt in defence of our honour and interests; but the sense of that bonour and those interests would never have allowed any other course to be taken.” After these explanations the address was carried nemine' dissentiente.

In the House of Commons no debate of consequence occurred when the address was first moved; but when the report of it was brought up on the following day, Mr. Hutchinson rose, and inade several remarks on the conduct of ministers with respect to the continental war, and on the duty of the house plainly to represent to the Regent the embarrassed state of the empire from commercial distresses, the discontents prevalent in Ireland, and other difficulties in which the nation had been plunged by incapable ministers, and which rendered an honourable peace highly desirable.

The question being then put and carried for receiving the report, Mr. Whitbread, in a speech


of considerable length, stated in detail all that he thought objectionable in the Regent's speech, and in those of the mover and seconder of the address, particularly dwelling on the little satisfaction presented by the state of affairs in the peninsula, and the impolicy of persisting in a system which could lead to nothing but the further exhaustion of our resources. He concluded with declaring his resolution, whilst the same measures were continued, to continue in the same unrelaxed, systematic, and undeviating opposition to them. He was answered in a spirited manner, not without a mixture of personal acrimony, by Mr. Perceval. Other members afterwards joined in the debate, which was no farther important than as it showed that the relative state of the ministry and the opposition was not at all changed by the regency; the latter party evidently regarding the Prince as only the nominal head of the government, and in no wise personally interested in the support of an administration not of his own appointment. The address, however, passed without a division.

An address of a very different complexion from the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Commons, of the city of London, was presented to the Regent on February 24th. It was, in fact, a strong remonstrance, respecting the insult lately received by the corporation of London, through the ministers of the crown; the grievances and distresses undergone by the country in general; the criminal deception practised by ministers in carrying on the government by the royal authority

during his Majesty's incapacity; the restrictions laid upon his Royal Highness by the regency bill; and the defects of the representation in parliament. The Regent's answer was guarded and general: the feelings suggested by his situation were however expressed, where he assured the addressers, that "the happiest moment of his life would be when by the blessing of Providence he should be called upon to resign the powers now delegated to him, into the hands of his beloved and revered father and sovereign."

Another proof of the manner in which the Regent viewed the temporary authority with which he was invested, was afforded in a communication made to the House of Commons on Feb. 21, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, stating, that bis R. Highness, on being informed that a motion was intended to be made for some pro. vision for the Regent's household, declared that he would not, for his own personal magnificence, add another burthen to those already imposed on the nation. The fact was further explained by Mr. Adam, who said, that the Regent put into his hands the letter from Mr. Perceval, mentioning the intended provision, accompanying it with written instructions, that should any proposition for an establishment, or a grant from the privy purse, be made to the house, he should inform that assembly, that his R. Highness declined it, and that, during a temporary regency, he would not accept that which ought to belong to the crown.


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

Debates on Mr. Wellesley Pole's circular letter respecting an intended. Delegation from the Irish Catholics.

[blocks in formation]

Dublin Castle, Feb. 13, 1811. Sir,It being reported that the Roman Catholics in the county of

... are to be called together, or have been called together, to nominate or appoint persons as representatives, delegates, or managers, to act in their behalf as members of an unlawful assembly sitting in Dublin, and calling itself the Catholic committee, you are required, in pursuance of the provisions of an act of the thirtythird of the King, ch. 29, to cause to be arrested, and commit to prison (unless bail shall be given) all persons within your jurisdiction, who shall be guilty of giving, or having given, or of publishing, or having published, or causing or having caused to be given or published, any written or other notice of the election or appointment in any manner, of such representative, delegate, or manager as aforesaid; or of attending, voting, or acting, or of having attended, voted, or acted, in any manner, in the choice or appointment of


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

When information of this proceeding arrived in England, it excited much surprise and alarm; › and on February 18th the Earl of Moira brought the matter before the House of Lord. After reciting the substance of the circular letter, he said, "Standing as this extraordinary transaction did at present, he could not but feel the greatest anxiety. Every body who mixed in good company had, for the last two days, been a witness of the general feeling and astonishment it had created. The sudden return of Mr. Secretary Pole to that country had caused much : surprise, and occasioned a great variety of suggestions as to the probable reason of it. From this important measure, adopted, so speedily after his arrival there, it might certainly be inferred that the measure had been settled by the government of this country,


and that the unexpected departure of the Secretary was for the pur. pose of carrying it into effect. In that case, as in every other view of the matter, he supposed that ministers must have received some very important information to justify their having recourse to such a measure, and which, he should imagine, they would be ready to communicate to the house. There were two points on which he should desire ministers to give some explanation. Did they, or did they not, know at the time of their giving such instructions to the Irish government, whether they were to remain in their situations as the ministers of the Prince Regent? If they did know it, he wished to learn whether they had made any communication on the subject to his Royal Highness? If they did not know of their continuance; if they thought they were to retire from power, and to be succeeded by cthers, such were his views of this transaction, that he could compare their conduct only to that of a set of desperate incendiaries, who set the house in flames which they. could no longer inhabit, In adopting this measure, they had gone, back to a law passed in a period of irritation, and long before the accomplishment of that union, which was held out to the people of that country as the best means of relieving them from what was obnoxious and oppressive in the measures of their own parliament. The offences created by this law night, indeed, be designated crimes by virtue of the law, and those who infringed it might be legally cri

minal; but was it not known that since the passing of the union act, such assemblies as are now forbid

den had been repeatedly tolerated, and that petitions from them had been received? There was another leading feature in the circular letter, which struck him with great astonishment-the law itself was general against all who transgressed its provisions; but the letter exclusively directs the sheriffs and magistracy to that great portion of the Irish people, the Roman Catholics. Whatever might be offered on this subject, he was quite certain that it presented no feature of that spirit and desire of conciliating the public feelings, which was the true policy of an enlightened government. And let their lordships reflect at what a time, too, this obnoxious measure was taken; a time when we were most seriously called upon to look, not only at the domestic difficulties that attended the government of the country, but when we had so much to consider and apprehend in our external relations; when not only at home, but from abroad, we were urged to the serious consideration of menaced dangers." His lordship concluded his speech by moving that a copy of the circular letter should be laid on the table.

The Earl of Liverpool answered the questions put by Lord Moira by affirming, that with respect to. the departure of Mr. Pole, it was wholly unconnected with this measure, which was not at all in the contemplation of ministers when he went thither, nor since, for that they knew nothing of the matter till Thursday last. The intelligence, however, was accompanied with reasons for the procedure, founded on various sources of information, some of them of a se-


cret nature, which proved that a systematic attempt was making for the violation of the law, which the government of Ireland felt to be such as to justify it in having recourse to this means of prevention. He concluded with coupling the noble Earl's motion with another, for a copy of the letter of the secretary of the Roman Catholic committee.

After some other Lords on both sides had delivered their sentiments on the occasion, the Earl of Rosse gave a brief statement of the facts which had given rise to the letter of Mr. Pole. He said, it was well known that there was a body of men calling themselves the Catholic Committee constantly sitting in Dublin; and that as long as they were confined to a few individuals, there was no disposition on the part of government to interfere with them; but that, after they had prepared petitions to both houses of parliament, to be presented in the present session, they had begun to proceed further, and to resolve that a deputation of ten from every county in Ireland should meet in a sort of convention, which, added to their own number of 38, would compose a representative body of 358 members; and he appealed to their lordships whether it were possible for the government of Ireland to permit such a course to be pursued, after all the ostensible business of the Catholic committee had been gone through.

The two motions were then put and agreed to.

The same subject was introduced in the House of Commons with similar observations, by Mr. Ponsonby; and the game assertion

of the previous ignorance of the measure by the ministry was made by Mr. Perceval.

On Feb. 224, the Marquis of Lansdown again brought the subject before the Lords; and after some remarks relative to the two letters, in which he dwelt upon the fact, that there had elapsed no less than 43 days from the publication of Mr. Hay's circular, ad- › dressed to the Irish Catholics, to that of Mr. Pole, during which it did not appear that any thing had been done by government to conciliate the Catholics, or dissuade them from the proposed delegation, he moved for the production of copies of all such dispatches as related to this subject from and to the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland.— The motion was opposed by the Earl of Liverpool, on the ground that the house was already possessed of all the necessary information in the letters laid before it.

Earl Grosvenor, who rose next, thought that it would be best to keep clear of the question whence these proceedings bad occurred, and only consider whether the strong steps taken by the Irish government could be justified in point of policy. To him it appeared that there was little ground for the alarm excited; but he thought that further information was necessary, which might be disclosed to a secret committee.

Lord Grenville condemned the precipitancy of the measure, and asked, Had the Lord-lieutenant's secretary the power to do this act, without consulting the King's commands, or those of the illustrious person who exercised his authority? The letter could not in any way be defended, but on the sup


[ocr errors]
« TrướcTiếp tục »