Page images

present no means of communication with the foreign colonies, except by merchant ships; he was convinced that the commerce of the country had materially suffered by this Act, and that it would be better to repeal it altogether.

Mr. Forbes spoke in favour of the prayer of the petition, and urged the illiberality of subjecting persons with small incomes, were most of the families whose children were in India, to the payment of heavy postage, in order to correspond with them.


Mr. W. Smith said, that certainly revenue was a great object with the Postoffice; but it was unquestionably a matter of the greatest injustice, that persons so deeply interested as those were who had connexions of interest or affection in so distant a part as India, should not only be subjected to the many grievous inconve niences and anxieties they must of course suffer, but that they should be made to pay for it into the bargain. He mentioned an instance within his own knowledge, of a clergyman with a large family, a friend of his, and a considerable part of whose family was in India, who had mentioned to him the numerous vexations and anxious doubts he had suffered from this novel and unmatured plan of raising a new branch of revenue; and could not help giving it as his opinion, that it was highly unjust that the Post-office, which was originally instituted for the purposes of public convenience, should be converted into a mere instrument of revenue.

and accommodation could be made ready. As it was situated at present, he repeated it was both impolitic and unjust, and tended to tear asunder the tenderest and most powerful feelings of human nature.

Mr. Lushington said, it was premature to judge of the operation of the Act as yet. The plan was in great forwardness, and would be completed as expeditiously as possible.

The Petition was ordered to lie on the table, After which Mr. Tierney then presented another Petition, from the parents, friends, and relatives of those persons who had quitted this country to reside in India; which was also ordered to lie on the table.

NELSON ESTATE.] The Chancellor of the Exchequer moved, that the House do at its rising adjourn to Monday.

Mr. Whitbread said, before the question was put, he begged leave to call the atten tion of the House to a subject which he thought deserving their consideration. It was well known to the House, that a large sum of money had long since been voted by the House, for the purpose of provid ing a suitable mansion, &c. for the heirs of the late lord Nelson: that such money had been long ready; but a proper estate, &c. could not be fixed on. Lately, however, it seemed that a place which was deemed in every respect answerable for the purpose had been agreed upon by the commissioners, and it was hinted that an additional sum of 9,000l. would be wanting to complete the purchase. He had been informed that within a very short time a memorial had been presented to the Trea

Sir J. Mackintosh said, that India was the only part of our colonial possessions with the communications and correspon-sury, from a Mr. Kemp, stating, that he dence of which he was at all acquainted, conceived a purchase had been made of and he thought it was not only unjust to an estate, mansion-house, &c. which_becharge a rate of postage on letters for longed to him in the county of Suffolk, which no certain conveyance was yet which had been viewed by the present provided, though the act had passed lord Nelson, who had taken down Mr. nearly a twelvemonth, but it was also Bolton with him, for the purpose of extremely cruel and impolitic to cut off ascertaining its value, and that both of the means of conveying affectionate re- them having approved of the whole of membrances to those who had left their the premises, the price had been finally native country, and would be a means of fixed, and the sum was somewhat within cutting asunder the knot which, as long as that granted by Parliament for the purit remained entire, could not fail to make pose of remunerating the services of the the natale solum the grand object of affec- gallant officer on whom the title of lord tionate recollection, and so place the Nelson had been conferred. He thought, mother country as the object of most therefore, the House should hesitate a pleasing remembrance, while absent, and little before they would sanction a grant of the most ardent wishes to return to it for an additional 9,000l. when a claim was as soon as circumstances and opportunity put in for the money agreed on as a purwould permit. He therefore hoped the chase of an estate agreeable to the present postage would be suspended till the plan lord Nelson and his advisers, and which, (VOL. XXX.) (3 D)

would come within the sum granted by |tainly consider it my duty to be prepared Parliament. to meet him in any discussion on the sub

The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, heject. would explain the subject to the House on a future day.

TREATY BETWEEN THE ALLIES SIGNED AT VIENNA.] On the motion, that the House at its rising do adjourn till Monday


Mr. Whitbread.-The noble lord has said that the Treaty is not yet ratified by all the Allied Powers; but we find now that the substance of it is true. The noble lord has told us that there are inaccuracies; but then he has not told us what the nature of these inaccuracies are; whether they are all inaccuracies of language. I shall pause till I see what these inaccuracies are; because I cannot conceive how any person, if the Treaty which we have seen is accurate in substance, could possibly put his hand to it. I would ask those who expect that we should abstain from all argument on the present occasion, to read that Treaty.

Mr. Whitbread observed, that feeling as he did, from a consideration of all the circumstances, from a consideration of the alleged parties, from a consideration of the supposed conditions, that the paper which had that day been published in a partial manner, in the Times, purporting to be a Treaty between the Allied Powers, signed at Vienna on the 25th March, could be no other than a forgery; he nevertheless could not refrain from asking the noble lord the question. If it should turn out not to be so, this most extraordinary fact would appear-that it was actually signed at the time when the noble lord declared in that House, that the question of peace or war was wholly un-if he can show that any practical purpose decided! can possibly be answered by it, I shall be prepared to answer his question. But when I have given him this answer, upon what principle does he conceive himself entitled, contrary to all the rules of Parlia ment, to enter into a premature discussion, or endeavour to throw out calumnies not supported by argument, against any proceedings of which he disapproves?-Icertainly consider such a mode of proceeding a gross violation of propriety.

Lord Castlereagh.-I think that I have shown a sufficient disposition to candour in my conduct towards the hon. gentleman this evening, however much he may be indisposed to give me, or those who act with me, credit for candour on any occasion. I have told the hon. gentleman that


Mr. Whitbread. The noble lord bas thought proper to call me to order, in a speech which is itself extremely disorderly. I contend, that I have a perfect right to deliver my sentiments on this subject, on the question of the adjournment of the House. I have a right to express my approbation or disapprobation of the Treaty, on the avowal of it by the noble lord, and to oppose the adjournment of the House, if I think proper. The noble lord has accused me of making use of the language of calumny. It is impossible to speak of the proceedings of the Congress

Lord Castlereagh. Does the hon. gentleman mean to say, that it is his intention to call the attention of the House to it? If so, I have no hesitation in admitting that a Treaty was signed at Vienna on the 25th of March; and that the newspaper alluded

to by the hon. gentleman, with some inac-in terms of calumny. I might, if I thought curacies, contains the substance of that proper, move, that the House should sit Treaty. The Treaty, however, is not yet to-morrow. But as the noble lord has ratified by all of the Allied Powers, and avowed the Treaty, I am rather disposed therefore not in a state to be submitted to to put the question-That the supplies be -Parliament. But if the hon. gentleman withheld, which by our former votes we thinks proper to call the attention of Par- expressed our resolution to confide to the liament to it in a regular way, I shall cer- Crown. I wish farther to ask the noble

Lord Castlereagh said, he certainly felt it his duty to avoid, if possible entering into an argument on subjects which could not with propriety be yet brought before the House. But with respect to the question of the hon. gentleman, if he conceived that it was his duty to offer an advice to the Crown on the subject to which it related, and intended to bring that subject before the House in a regular way, he (lord Castlereagh) should consider that circumstance as a justification for his giving an answer to the question. - Mr. Whitbread. Then the inference from what has fallen just now from the noble lord is, that the Treaty which has appeared in one of the papers of this day is a genuine Treaty ?

the House will not consent to vote any supplies on the principle of this Treaty; but I am not sure, when we are once engaged in war, even under this foolish Treaty, that we shall not be disposed to grant them.

lord, whether the Treaty has not been ratified by England, if it has not been ratified by all the other allied Powers? Because the duke of Wellington, if the Treaty has not been ratified by England, must have acted on his own authority. We ought to know the instructions which have been given to the duke of Wellington-or whether he has acted without any instructions at all. The noble lord has acknowledged, that the Treaty which we have seen is substantially correct, and he has also owned that it contains inaccuracies. What, sort of inaccuracies are they? Are they inaccuracies of language? ["Substantial inaccuracies," said lord Castlereagh, across the table.] No; it seems they were inaccuracies of another kind. Will the noble lord give us the Treaty, or tell us whether it has been ratified by Great Britain? Will he put me and the House in a condition of knowing how much we are to except from, or add to, this Treaty, which we have seen in an article from Vienna in one, of the papers? I conceive, Sir, that my conduct has not appeared to you as disorderly, from your not interrupting me. I conceive that I have a right to move, that House should not adjourn even till Monday next, till the House should come to a knowledge of this document.

Lord Castlereagh.-The hon. gentleman may bring forward his motion as early as he thinks it his duty to do so. I have no right to complain of him for this; but what I complain of, is his attempt to enter into that sort of unsupported observation which cannot be said to be a fair examination of the subject, and which can lead to no practical good. The hon. gentleman has asked me, whether the Treaty has been ratified on the part of Great Britain? I have no hesitation in returning for answer to the hon. gentleman, that his royal high-not a man in the House who has read that ness the Prince Regent, with an explana-paper, who will not say that the House of tion of one of the articles, did intend to Commons will abandon its duty, if it does ratify this Treaty with the Allied Powers. not take the earliest opportunity of offerMr. Whitbread.-I wish, Sir, to put thising its advice to the Crown on this subject. question in a shape that the House may Lord Castlereagh.-It is not out of the take it into con deration without delay; course of parliamentary usage, to bring because, by adopting a different line of forward a motion for the discussion of this conduct, we may find, when we wish to Treaty, in the shape in which the right express our disapprobation, that it is too hon. gentleman finds it; and Parliament late, when we are already involved in an may, if it thinks proper, give its advice to unfortunate and calamitous war. Does the Crown, on the supposition of the the noble lord intend to involve the coun- Crown being on the point of entering into try in a war first, and then ask the House any engagement which it may consider to strengthen the hands of Government? injurious to the interests of the country. Our situation will be very different between What I mean to say is this, that it would one alternative and the other. I am sure be improper in me to bring the document

Lord Archibald Hamilton asked, whether any discussion now could be productive of greater harm than what had been done, by the appearance of such documents as the public had lately seen? What would, be the use of the information promised by, the noble lord, when the country was already involved in war? No discussion could be so injurious to the noble lord as. the belief entertained by the public, that his conduct was such as it appeared to have been from these documents, which had created a disagreeable impression against him throughout the whole country.

Mr. Ponsonby.-I am not sure, from what fell from the noble lord, whether this subject is soon to be brought forward in such a shape as will afford us an opportunity of discussing it; for if I am silent upon the present occasion, it is from the circumstance of the subject not yet being before us in such a shape that we can take parliamentary notice of it. Is it the intention of the noble lord to bring the Treaty soon before us in a shape that we can take parliamentary notice of it? If such is not his intention, I must proceed to some other course. I do not choose to trust myself at this moment with the expression of the sentiments which arose in my mind when I read this instrument. I certainly did not think it was genuine. But if the noble lord will not bring the business before us in a shape that will enable us to discuss it in a parliamentary way, we must proceed to its discussion out of the parliamentary way. There is

not be guilty of such indiscretion, as to suffer the noble lord to proceed until he has plunged the country into a situation without remedy-when he will come before us with the whole weight of his responsibility, and which responsibility, I hope, the House will make him feel is not a mere parliamentary term, but a word of real weight; and that after talking of it, and vapouring about it for years, the time is now come when we shall turn the name into the thing, and make him feel what it really is. Under these circumstances, my proper course is, in a constitutional and parliamentary manner, to prevent the supplies from being granted, till I know the situation in which the country is.

Lord Castlereagh.-The hon. gentleman' will never find me disposed to shrink from any responsibility which I have incurred. With respect to the course of the hon. member, I must say that it certainly does not consist in arming the executive government with those powers which are necessary for it in the present arduous situation of affairs. If the hon. gentleman is not disposed to concur in those measures which his Majesty's Government have thought advisable in the present situation of the country, it is not on the subject of supply that he ought to raise the question→→→ he ought to raise it on its own merits. If the hon. gentleman is determined to persist in this course, it is a proof that he shrinks from the merits of the question. [Hear! Hear! from the Opposition.] I repeat it again-it is a proof of his shrinking from the merits of the question-while I, on the contrary, have this night afforded him every facility for bringing the question forward in a regular manner. Every person must be convinced that the Treaty cannot be laid before the House in its present state by his Majesty's ministers, without their acting in a manner inconsistent with the duty which they owe to their country; and I consider, therefore, the measure which the hon. gentleman has chosen to pursue, with the view of obstructing his Majosty's Government, as only granting with a bad grace what must at last be granted, and rendering that strength which the House have committed to the Crown inadequate to its object. If the hon. gentleman is sincere in the intention which he has announced of impeaching me; and if he wishes at the same time to strengthen the Executive, let him bring the question forward on its own merits; but let him not make this a pretext for

before Parliament in the unratified shape in which it is, and when it is not binding on those Powers who are the parties to it. This would be taking the sense of Parliament on a step which could not come properly before it, in relief of our own responsibility. His Majesty's ministers, however, take a more correct and constitutional line. We have obtained the sanction of Parliament for the adoption of precautionary measures, but no sanction for any other measures: and for these we rest on our own responsibility. But it will be allow ed that it is always competent to the ministers of the Crown to advise war if they think proper, subject to their own responsibility. His Majesty's ministers would be acting in a most unconstitutional, and not only in an unconstitutional, but a pusillanimous manner, if they endeavoured to extort from Parliament in an imperfect state of information, a sanction for those measures which they might ultimately adopt. But if any honourable member conceives that advice ought to be given to the Crown, not to act in a manner which he conceives is likely to compromise the country, and lead to measures injurious to our own interest and the general interest of Europe, it is certainly competent to such hon. gentleman to raise the question in the House, and to bring it under discussion. But it is not competent to his Majesty's ministers to take the initiative of bringing it before Parliament, and of taking the sense of Parliament on imperfect information.

Mr. Whitbread.-The noble lord has used a new word, which he seems to have borrowed from Congress; for I do not recollect to have ever heard the word initiative' made use of in this House before. If he will not take the initiative, as he is pleased to call it, in this measure; in the choice of difficulties to which we are reduced from that circumstance, knowing, as we do, the deep plunge made by his Majesty's Government towards war, without the question being regularly before it, the House must pause before it grants any further supply for what are called defensive preparations, when it knows that the Government will convert those measures of defence into measures of offence-and into a war which will be prosecuted not only in the most disgraceful, but the most hopeless manner. My duty calls on me to propose an adjournment of the House, till the noble lord is able to come before us with the terms of this Treaty; and I hope Parliament will

weakening the arms of the Executive Government in the arduous crisis in which the country is at present placed.

Mr. Whubread added, that when the supplies were granted, both the noble lord and the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said, that there was an alternative of peace or war; but it was now found that there was no alternative; and if any farther support were given, it must be for offensive operations of the most desperate nature. The ministers who could be parties to such a treaty as this, he would no longer consent to entrust with the supplies of the country. He denied that the noble lord had given him any facilities; but the House must go to the discussion of the question, trusting to be informed by the noble lord what difference there was between the real and the unauthenticated copy of the Treaty. It was not to the noble lord that he should go for advice how to conduct himself in Parliament, at the time when he should wish the House of Commons to pass on the noble lord that sentence which his conduct had justified.

bility if he does not give in this document. When will the noble lord give it to us? When it will be too late for us to save the country from destruction-from a renewal of a war which has sunk our finances to the state in which they now are--which has ground to the dust every class of the community. Then the noble lord will give it when it is too late. As to the boasted responsibility of the noble lord at such a period, it would be nothing worth. What compensation would it be then to the country, even if we were to follow the noble lord to the block? Before war is determined on, the House ought to have an opportunity of interposing their advice. The course of my hon. friend is perfectly regular and constitutional. When Parlia ment has not sufficient documents to enable it to form a judgment, it is the only legal mode of preventing an abuse of power. When one sees ministers treating in a double sense, with the public-when we see ourselves on the point of a renewal of the calamities which were brought on us by the war of 1793, and involved again by the very same acts which were then practised; a war which has reduced every man's income to a third of its value, and then are told of the responsibility of mi

[ocr errors]

Lord Castlereagh declared, that he had no wish to protract this conversation; but with respect to that species of taunt which had been so often thrown out against himself and the rest of his Majesty's minis-nisters, it is impossible to preserve our ters, he should only say, that whenever tempers. Sir, I scorn such a responsithere was not a notice of censure against bility. My hon. friend, whom the noble him entered on the books of that House, lord has thought fit to advise, has sat in he should feel perfectly satisfied that, in this House infinitely longer than the noble the hon. member's mind, there was no lord himself; and he has done the duty of chance of making such a motion with the the country, unpaid, unsalaried, und unleast possibility of success. He would put stipended, and the love and gratitude of it to the House whether they ought to his country will follow him wherever he listen to such opinions as had been that goes. night stated.

Lord Castlereagh said, he should not have troubled the House any further, if partipains had not been taken to misrepresent what he had said. The noble lord repeated what he had said, as to the course that was open to the hon. gentleman, of giving advice to the Crown; and added, that he would peremptorily deny that any thing like delusion had been practised by his Majesty's ministers on a former occasion. They gave no opinion to the House on the degree of probability as to war or peace; but they had said, that the case was of such a nature as rendered it necessary for them to come to Parliament on their own responsibility. He would also deny that even now there was no alternative. The principle on which ministers placed the alternative was, that they would be mainly influenced by what they found

Sir John Newport.-I had a right when I dissented from my hon. friend (Mr. Whit-cular bread) on a late occasion, to consider that there was still an alternative left-that war was not then determined on ;-but I now find out that I am duped by the noble lord, and that to the noble lord I ought not to have given credence; for the question which he told me was pending, was actually determined. The noble lord tells us now, that the Treaty, with some substantial inaccuracies, is correct. He now says, that we ought not to refuse the supplies which were given for an alternative, but which alternative did not exist. I can not very well conceive what the noble lord means by using the words "not shrinking from responsibility," because he is certainly shrinking from responsi

« PreviousContinue »