« PreviousContinue »
The Earl of Darnley complained of the delay in producing the documents which the House had ordered in compliance with his motion before the recess, with respect to our naval administration in the course of the American war.
Viscount Melville justified the delay, by stating, that in order to comply with the noble earl's motion it became necessary to refer for information to our officers on Lake Ontario, and also to read over all the correspondence of the Admiralty for two or three years.
ADDRESS ON THE TREATY OF PEACE WITH AMERICA.] The Earl of Liverpool rose to move an Address to the Prince Regent, approving of the Treaty of Peace concluded with the United States of America. As he did not anticipate any opposition, he did not think it at all necessary or proper to detain their lordships for any long time on this subject, or to enter upon any discussion of topics with respect to which he was aware that much difference of opinion prevailed. Their lordships were aware that the war arose from disputes originating in certain orders commonly called the Orders in Council. Before the American declaration of war arrived in this country, those orders had been repealed; and as it was presumed, that, upon notice of this circumstance, the Americans would be desirous of returning to a state of peace, such directions were given as might facilitate that object, and render the evils necessarily connected with a state of warfare as light as possible, till an arrangement could be concluded. The Americans, however, did not, it appeared, wish to return to a state of peace; and when the cause of complaint was removed they changed their ground, and insisted that we should give up that right which, by the well-known and admitted law of nations, we had to seize our own subjects, and claim their services in time of war, wherever we found them. This was a clear principle of the law of nations, which we only claimed in common with every other nation. We claimed nothing from the Americans, we did not insist that they should acknowledge any new doctrines and principles of the law of nations set up by us. But they, on the contrary, set up new doctrines and new principles of their own, and insisted that we should adopt them, and sacrifice rights which we considered as essential to our own security. The consequence was, that the
necessity of the war on our part was universally felt, and a unanimity was manifested on the subject which was very rarely found on such occasions. It was not till the 7th of August that the American commissioners received instructions not to insist upon this point, and then the negociation proceeded. As to the mediation of the Emperor of Russia, there were certain points on which one would not choose to accept even of mediation, because it often happened that in mediations there was something like arbitration. With respect to our maritime rights, we never could accept of arbitration. He would not go the length of saying that we ought under no circumstances to accept of mediation with respect to our maritime rights; but this did not appear to be an instance in which it was desirable to accept of any such mediation. It had been said, that while we rejected mediation on one point, we had agreed to arbitration on another. But the points were totally different, and the mode of arbitration appeared to be the best way of settling the disputes about the boundaries. America then having given up the point for which she had carried on the war, the negociation, as he had said, proceeded; and he contended that there might be circumstances under which we might, in justice to our own subjects, insist upon terms for which it would not be proper originally to go to war. That, however, was a consideration of expediency. But a principle of good faith required that the Indians should be included in the Treaty, and they were included. As to the Slave Trade, the objects of the two governments were the same; as to commerce, it appeared most proper to leave these matters to subsequent arrangement, and that the most liberal principles of commercial intercourse would be the most advantageous for both countries. As to territorial arrangements, the best mode of proceeding had been adopted on that head that could be devised. It appeared more advantageous to call in the arbitration of one who might be supposed to be impartial, than to leave the matter to the decision of the lot; and upon that, the arrangements for setting the line had been adopted. On the whole, the noble earl considered the Treaty as equally honourable and advantageous to this country; and concluded by moving an Address to the Prince Regent, assuring his Royal Highness of the great satisfaction felt by the House at the
his concurrence with the terms of the Address, but strongly condemned the unnecessary delay that had taken place in Earl Stanhope said, that he could not the conclusion of the Treaty, which allow this opportunity to pass, without ad- Treaty, by-the-by, had left unsettled all verting shortly to the high and even im- the points for which the war had been pudent language which he had so often commenced, as would appear upon refe heard upon what were called our mari- rence to the published Declaration of mitime rights. The noble secretary had, nisters at the outset. Yet while these however, stated, that we claimed no rights points were waved, new claims were which did not belong to all independent started at the commencement of the ne nations. But the fact was obviously other-gociation, which were abandoned also. wise, for this right of search, so much But still he rejoiced in the conclusion of contended for, belonged only to bellige peace. The noble marquis concluded rent nations, and not to these at peace. with observing, that he understood the Thus, if Denmark should unjustly declare American ministers at Ghent proposed against Sweden, she might, according to an article pledging both powers to treat this pretended right of search, claim to all vessels as pirates which should be search our ships and those of other nations found engaged in the Slave Trade, but for Danish subjects. Would this be en- that this article was resisted by our comdured? But the pretension was quite pre- missioners; and this resistance he conposterous. Yet America, when at peace ceived the more extraordinary from the with the world, was condemned to have instructions to our minister at Vienna to her shipping subjected to the most vexa- promote the universal abolition of that tious search by British cruizers, because odious traffic. this country was at war with France. But now that this country was at peace (would to God he could hope that it would long so continue!) and America was at war with Algiers, the tables being thus turned, would British ships submit, according to the right alleged by the noble secretary, to be searched by American cruizers? If commodore Rodgers, for instance, were to meet one of our convoys at sea [Hear! hear, from lord Liverpool]. Yes, he would ask, if commodore Rodgers undertook to search for American seamen, and under the prevalent practice, according to this alleged right, the commodore himself was to be the judge in the exercise of authority, he might take out five or six seamen, whom he supposed Ame-rity, which he had no objection to name. rican, from a merchant vessel-what then The motion for the Address was then was likely to be the consequence? Why, agreed to, nem. diss. the vessel might go to the bottom for want of being manned, and how would the merchants like that? and the merchants had been among the most clamorous upon this point when the assertion of it operated against others; but the fact was, that this right, if even well founded, was liable to so much abuse in the application of it, that it was evidently neces.sary to come to some explanation, and arrangement upon the subject, that by some negociation it should be endeavoured to do away with the exercise of it altogether.
The Earl of Liverpool spoke in explanation, and assured the noble marquis and the House, that what had been stated of the proposition as made by the American ministers respecting the Slave Trade, was totally unfounded. Until that moment, through any channel whatever, either public or private, he had never heard a word of such a proposition. The article, as it stood, was originally proposed by the British commissioners, and to which the American ministers never proposed any addition.
The Marquis of Lansdowne said, that he had received the statement which he had communicated to the House, from what he conceived the very highest autho
The Marquis of Lansdowne expressed
terms and conditions of the Treaty of Peace concluded between Great Britain and the United States of America.
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
PROPERTY TAX.] The Chancellor of the Exchequer rose to move the postponement of the second reading of the Assessed Taxes Bill, which stood for that evening. In doing so he said he would avail himself of the opportunity of stating that in the committee of ways and means, on Wednesday next, he meant to refer the acts relating to the property tax to the said committee, for the purpose of moving th continuance of the same.
nished merely by twelve months impri-
Mr. Fremantle asked whether it was proposed to submit any alteration either in the principle of the measure, or the mode of its application.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer replied, that he did not intend to propose any alteration in the principle of the Bill. It would be open to any gentleman to suggest such modifications in the committee as he might deem advisable.
Mr. Horner inquired, whether the right hon. gentleman meant to relinquish the assessed taxes, as well as to renew the property tax?
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, he should put off the consideration of the assessed taxes from day to day, until he learned whether the House would coincide in the propriety of a renewal of the property tax.
Mr. Whitbread asked whether, under any circumstances of the country, the right hon. gentleman meant to propose the renewal of the property tax? Did he mean to say that the revival of that measure would not depend upon any political arrangements that might be effected?
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, that in his view of the subject, whether this country were in a state of war, or of defensive and expensive pacification, the renewal of the property tax would be equally necessary for the public service.
The Attorney General deemed it his duty not to let the present motion pass without some observations. He adverted to the opinion of the hon. and learned gentleman opposite, when he made his first motion relative to Murray, namely, that the House ought not to interfere with the sentences of courts of justice without the most grave and weighty reasons. In this opinion he perfectly agreed; but he assured him that he totally differed from him in the view he had taken of the case in question, which he considered to be one of the most If it had been deemed flagrant nature. necessary of late to make the punishment for the crime of bigamy more severe, it was because the law had found that imprisonment was not sufficient to deter evilminded persons from committing it. He reprehended the conduct of the second wife of Murray, in consenting to marry him, without the knowledge of her friends, after he had told her of his former marriage, and merely taking his word that it was null and void. She had a fortune of 10,000l. which was to be paid to her on the day of her marriage, and she was entitled to 70,000l. more at the death of He would therefore ask, her mother. whether, if her guardians or parent had known of this intended marriage, it could be supposed possible that they would not have interfered to prevent it? cumstances alleged by the hon. and learned gentleman in behalf of the culprit,
MOTION RESPECTING MR. LATHROP MURRAY.] Sir Samuel Romilly rose, in pursuance of notice to move, humble Address be presented to his royal highness the Prince Regent, that he will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, a copy of the Report to his royal highness the Prince Regent, by the Recorder of London, of the case of Robert Lathrop Murray, tried for bigamy at the Old The case of Bailey in January last.' this unfortunate gentleman had been already detailed, at various times, to the House and the public, and no person had ventured to contradict the statement. was one by no means aggravated in its circumstances, but which had been visited by the severest punishment it was possible to inflict. The prisoner had petitioned his Majesty's Government to permit him to transport himself to any place out of his Majesty's dominions; but even this had been refused him-while many others, convicted of the crime of bigamy, under cases much more aggravated, were pu
those of his having had a University edu- to their punishment, without arming the cation, and being an officer and a gentle-Government with extraordinary powers, man, only tended, in his opinion, to render which might be exercised from the sughim still more criminal. But even the gestions of private malice, and were, from grounds on which he had petitioned for a their nature, open to abuse, in consequence reversal of the judgment were marked by of misrepresentations difficult to be exadepravity; for it would scarcely be mined into. The only ground urged by credited, that in the document now lying the right hon. mover was, that there were at the Secretary of State's office, he had at present a great number of Aliens in the dared to say, that having had a dispute kingdom; but could it be said that they with a jeweller who had used him ill, and were for the purpose of forming an army, that jeweller being the brother-in-law to to carry on war within the kingdom? In the Recorder, who had tried him, it was the present crisis, it might be more natunot extraordinary that he should have rally expected that Aliens friendly to this been convicted. Such a libel upon so just country, and hostile to the present Ruler and honourable a man was not to be en- of France, would come to England. From dured; and he could only attribute the these no injurious movements could be interest which his hon. and learned friend apprehended. He was convinced that had taken in this culprit's case to his these measures had been greatly misapexcessive urbanity. Under all the cir- plied, and had been made the instruments cumstances, he appealed to the House if of private malice, while the Government this was a case in which the sentence pro was imposed upon. He, therefore, felt nounced by the judges ought to be brought indisposed to permit the Bill to be brought to that House to be revised. He felt it to in, without taking the sense of the House. be his duty to offer the most decided resistance to the motion.
Mr. Addington thought that no case had been made out to warrant the interference of the House, with the exercise of the judicial authority.
Sir Samuel Romilly, in reply, contended, that the case under consideration was one of peculiar hardship, and therefore one in which the interference of the House was loudly called for.
The motion was negatived without a division.
ALIEN BILL.] Mr. Bathurst, after a few words upon the number of Aliens at present in this country, and the necessity of arming ministers with further powers, moved for leave to bring in a Bill to provide further regulations respecting aliens.
Mr. Ponsonby acknowledged, that he entertained a great jealousy towards those powers intrusted to the Government by the Alien Acts, and thought that no ground existed at present for granting any of an extraordinary nature. The reason for which those Acts were originally passed was, to obviate the injury that might result from Aliens endeavouring to propagate in this country sentiments and principles subversive of good order, and hostile to the Government; but surely such apprehensions could not be seriously entertained at the present period. If Aliens transgressed the ordinary criminal laws of the realm, those laws were equal
Mr. Bathurst said, he had not entered into details upon the subject, because he did not think that the necessity of the Bill would be doubted at the present crisis. It was not at all impossible that persons might be sent from France to this country, or to Ireland, to estrange the population and weaken its allegiance. The principle of the Bill had already been several times recognised by Parliament.
Mr. Whitbread said, that the right hon. gentleman had talked of the measure being necessary in the present situation of the country; but neither he nor any of his Majesty's ministers could inform the House what that situation was. He had uniformly opposed the Alien Acts, thinking them the instruments of great abuse and cruelty. He was sure that ministers had been imposed upon frequently, and that they had paid money to emigrants who were holding correspondence with the enemy, while they sent innocent foreigners out of the country. Most probably upon this Government in a great degree depended the question of peace or war-the Continent would be guided by it; but before such a question was determined, it seemed to him a litte too early to bring in a Bill for the regulation of aliens, that war only could justify. He denied that there was any danger that the minds of the people of Ireland would be corrupted by aliens, or that ministers had not adequate means of meeting such an evil without this Bill.
Mr. Dennis Browne said, that while a Jacobin government, assisted by an overwhelmning military power, existed in France, the ministers should be armed with extraordinary powers relative to aliens. Such, he feared, would be particularly necessary in Ireland, from the feelings too prevalent in that kingdom. He thought that if the Alien Act did not exist in Ireland, the hon. gentleman who spoke last would have to ask other questions relative to that country than he found necessary at present.
Mr. Bathurst said, that it was impossible for ministers to state particular cases, when they came to the House for a measure like the present; such conduct would defeat the very object in view.
Mr. Whitbread said, that in order to have the matter more fully explained upon a future day, he should divide the House. Mr. Bathurst remonstrated, observing that such a proceeding could only cause useless delay. The measure could be debated in its future stages.
Mr. Whitbread indicated his intention of persevering. With regard to what the hon. gentleman opposite had said upon the Jacobin Government of France, all he (Mr. W.) could observe in reply was, that the Congress of Vienna had been an arch-manufacturer of Jacobins.
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
Tuesday, April 18.
FOREIGN SLAVE TRADE BILL.] Mr. Barham prefaced his motion on this subject with a speech of some length. He congratulated the friends of humanity on the death-blow which, in his opinion, this traffic had received by the Declaration of the Congress. In this situation, it became our duty, he said, not to relax in our efforts for its destruction, but to show that as we had been its most early, so were we its most sincere and zealous (VOL. XXX. )
enemies. It was a well known fact, that at the present moment a large British capital was employed in British ships in this trade, to which practice there was now a much stronger temptation than at any former period, the price of slaves being from 250 to 4001. each. He wished, by the Bill for which he was about to move, to make the act of thus employing capital as penal as any other relative to the trade now prohibited by law, namely, to make it felony. Nor did he see any reason why insuring ships engaged in a slave-trade voyage, should not be deemed equally criminal. Adverting to the difficulty which would exist in proving the fact of capital being specifically so employed, he meant in the Bill to prevent the subjects of this country from lending money on the security of foreign property belonging to countries in which the Slavetrade had not been abolished. Finally, the hon. gentleman moved, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to prohibit British subjects, or persons resident in the United Kingdom, from lending capital, or doing other acts, to assist the carrying on of the Slave-trade to colonies belonging to foreign states, or persons residing in this country, from lending capital, or committing other acts, the tendency of which was to assist in carrying on the Slavetrade of foreign colonies."
Mr. A. Browne mentioned a proof of disinterestedness given by the legislature of Antigua. As soon as they found that in consequence of the Treaty of Paris the Slave-trade would be revived in the French islands, and that a facility would thus be given to elude the laws in the British colonies, the two Houses of that island came to a Resolution, declaring their willingness to concur in any laws which might be thought necessary to be introduced there for the more effectual discovery and punishment of those who violated the Abolition Act.
After a few words from Mr. Wilberforce, leave was given to bring in the Bill.
ALIENS REGULATION BILL.] Mr. Bathurst re-stated the arguments made use of by him on the preceding evening, when moving for leave to bring in a Bill to provide further regulations respecting aliens, which motion was then lost from the thinness of the House. He now moved, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to repeal an Act passed in the last session of Parliament, for establishing regulations (2 U)