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condition to judge, from events which were matter of public notoriety, whether, though war was not actually declared, the existing circumstances did not call for the whole energies of the nation. He confessed he viewed the measure with less alarm than seemed to be felt by some, because he did not now propose any new and untried system of finance, but simply the renewal of one which for many years had been acted upon without any detriment to the prosperity of the country. His object, in the committee, would be merely to propose the general principle of that system, and any discussion as to the details would take place in some future stage of the measure. The right hon. gentleman had said, and said truly, that a large loan would be required in addition; and it was singular, therefore, he should oppose a tax which could alone be considered as a substitute for a still larger loan, which would necessarily have a great effect upon the public funds. It was agreed on all hands, that the public debt was already too large; and to continue the whole burthen of the country upon the funding system, and the credit of the country, would be to ruin both the one and the other. He considered it as more honourable and more natural to bear some of it ourselves, rather than to lay it all upon our posterity; and it was, besides, always a most inconvenient time for raising large loans, while the issue of great public events was uncertain. No bargain could be made with any set of contractors under such circumstances, which would not be liable to unfair advantages on one side, or unfair losses on the other, as it would be impossible to disclose to them all those particular transactions which alone could enable them to judge of the propriety of entering into such engage
Mr. Methuen said, that in giving his vote for the motion, he did so from a conviction in his own mind, that whenever the present state of things in France should cease, the tax would cease also.
Mr. Fremantle voted for the amendment, because he thought the delay would be in no manner prejudicial, but, on the contrary, would satisfy the House and the country, by showing that all undue precipitation was avoided.
Lord Milton said, that though he was the last man who would pin his faith upon the good faith of the present ruler of France, yet, at the same time we ought
not to plunge headlong into a war without trying every reasonable means of securing peace. He should vote for the amendment, not because he wished to embarrass the Government, but because he regarded the renewal of the Property Tax as the ultimate measure of war; and, coupling that renewal with the warlike speech of the noble lord, no man could doubt that the Government was determined on hostilities: he said the Government, for it was clear the noble lord was now the Government, and that his opinions, whatever they might be, were the ruling opinions in all that concerned our foreign relations. He was sure the people would pay the tax more cheerfully, if it appeared as the consequence of an inevitable war, instead of the cause of war. If a war should be necessary, and that necessity be clearly made out, no one would more willingly give support to Government than himself-not because he dreaded the superior intellect of Buonaparté, as was said by an hon. member, but because he dreaded the genius of the French government, and the ascendancy of that military system which threatened, the repose and liberties of Europe. He should vote for postponing the measure until further information relative to our foreign affairs could be communicated.
Lord Lascelles said, that he should be sorry, if in the present state of Europe, that House were to show any backwardness in preparing for defence or for war, according as either might be necessary; and he should be sorry also to think that the Government was at all influenced by those insidious communications which had been made to it by the French Government. He should not vote for the motion on the supposition that giving the Propertytax would be an inducement for going to war, but because an injury would be done to the public interests, if means were not provided for an adequate defence in the first instance, and for war itself should it become necessary.
The House then divided:
The original motion was then agreed to, and the House resolved itself into the Committee. The resolution of the Chancellor of the Exchequer for renewing the Property-tax for a year from the 5th April, was read and agreed to, without
HOUSE OF LORDS.
Thursday, April 20. GENOA-NAPLES-SAXONY.] Earl Grey rose and observed, that it was the practice of Parliament, during the pendency of all foreign negociations, to leave their management, and direction in the hands of the Executive Government, subject of course to that responsibility on the part of the ministers of the Crown which belonged to the exercise of all discretionary power. But that prudent reserve on the part of Parliament was, he said, to be regulated by circumstances; and when cases of great importance occurred, in which the justice, the good faith, and the honour of the country were involved, it then became the duty of Parliament to interfere. Such, he suspected, the case of Genoa would prove, respecting which a noble friend of his, whom he did not then see in his place, had given notice of a motion; such also the transactions relating to
Saxony appeared to be, concerning which another noble friend had declared his intention of submitting a motion, though he had not fixed the day; in both those cases he believed that all the admitted principles of policy, all the principles of justice, all the maxims of right upon which the security of nations rested, had been more grossly violated than in any transactions of modern times. There was a third case likewise, in which it appeared that the national character and the national interests had been no better asserted by those in whose hands the government was now placed. What he alluded to was our relations with the present Sovereign of Naples. When he acceded to the general confederacy during the last campaign, the Treaty which he concluded with the Emperor of Austria, the Emperor of Russia, and the King of Prussia, was sanctioned by our minister abroad, and to the fulfilment of the provisions of that Treaty the national faith and honour were distinctly pledged. Since that period, however, documents had appeared in the public papers which had not been denied, and which, if true, exceeded every thing of treachery and fraud which he had yet witnessed in that new diplomatic school of which the noble Secretary of State might be considered as the founder. Whether it was owing to those causes he knew not; but it was generally believed that hostilities had commenced in Italy, more serious in their extent, and more dangerous in their probable consequences, than seemed to be generally apprehended. The question was of the utmost importance, whether considered in reference to a state of war or a state of peace; if of war, so material a diversion must operate very prejudicially against the general power and efficiency of that confederacy, in whose united exertions the best hopes of this country and of Europe would rest; if of peace (which to the last moment he should cherish the hope of preserving), how much must our reliance upon its continuance be strengthened by maintaining relations of amity with the King of Naples? He did not think it was saying too much (if such a war really existed), to affirm that it was extremely doubtful whether France or England, whatever might be their disposition for peace, could remain neutral in such a contest. He asked their lordships then, whether they would desist any longer from demanding further information? He had not interfered with
duty if he did not bring it before their lordships as early as possible. The noble lord had alluded to the engagements between this country and Naples, as if they consisted merely in a convention for the suspension of hostilities, and which convention had not been violated; but he (earl Grey) would undertake to show that the negociations were not to be looked at merely in that point of view, but that the treaty to which the noble secretary acceded, though not as a subscribing party, was one to which the good faith and ho nour of this country were as much pledged for its execution, as if he had actually been a subscribing party. The treaty in fact was modified and altered at his suggestion. The whole case was of so flagrant and base a nature, that no explanations of the documents which had been published could do away the impression they had excited in his mind. He should therefore bring the matter under their lordships notice on Monday se'nnight, when he would move that an Address be presented to the Prince Regent, praying for further information, &c.
the proceedings of Congress, while they were in progress; but he was not sure whether, in so abstaining, he had not neglected his duty. The time he thought was now come when ministers ought to inform that House what was the state of our foreign relations with the kingdom of Naples. For that purpose he had risen; and he should sit down in the anxious hope, that the noble lord would remove those fears which he (earl Grey) felt at this new state of affairs; or if he could not do that, at least that he would be able to remove all imputations from the national faith.
The Earl of Liverpool said, that the present moment was not the fit occasion for entering into a discussion of the ques. tions touched upon by the noble lord. One of those questions-that which related to Genoa-would soon be brought before their lordships; the other (Saxony) would also be submitted to their notice at an early period; and on both these occasions he should be prepared to explain distinctly what the principles were upon which this Government had acted, and those which had been professed by the other Powers at Congress, when their lordships would be enabled to determine on which side the charge of a new system of policy could be fairly fixed. With regard to Naples, it was true, as had been stated by the noble lord, that a treaty had been concluded between Austria and the Sovereign de facto of that kingdom, during the last campaign; and in consequence of which the commander in chief of our forces in Italy entered into a convention of armistice with that power. No fact, however, had been stated of any violation of that convention so entered into; and as to what might have been the particular circumstances which influenced the subsequent conduct of this Government towards Naples, it was not now the time for entering into them; but whenever the period arrived, he should be prepared to communicate the fullest information, and trusted he should be able to satisfy the House, whatever opinion they might entertain of the conduct of Government upon other grounds, that there did not exist the slightest imputation upon the good faith of the country.
Earl Grey said, that as it appeared to be uncertain when that day of promised explanation would arrive, and as the case was one so pressing and important, he felt that it would be a dereliction of his
COURTS MARTIAL ON COLONEL QUENTIN AND OTHERS.] The Earl of Egremont rose, pursuant to a notice which he had given, to move for the production of the minutes of the Courts Martial held upon capt. Philip Browne, of the Hermes, Mr. Lazarus Roberts, of the Hamadryad, and colonel Quentin, of the 10th Hussars. He began by lamenting that the subject had not fallen into abler hands, and disclaiming all personal motives, his only object being to rescue a brave and meritorious class of individuals from a situation in which they ought not to be placed. He then alluded to the case of captain Browne, who was tried in April 1814, upon seven charges totally separate and distinct from each other. One of these charges was for drawing bills upon the commissioners of the navy under fictitious names, another for offering to fight the captain of a merchantman on the quarterdeck of his own (captain Browne's) ship, and another for tyranny and oppression. These were the principal charges, the remaining four being of minor importance, and it was impossible, the noble lord contended, for the mind of man to suggest
[706 seven charges more distinct and separate; | cussing minutely all the details of the yet the sentence of the court was, that evidence, and animadverting upon the having maturely and deliberately con- sentence, as removing the punishment sidered the whole of the evidence, they from the guilty, and throwing it upon were of opinion the charges were partly those who had received the highest praise proved, and did therefore adjudge the from the Duke of Wellington and their prisoner to be dismissed from his Ma- superior officers. His ulterior object he jesty's service. It appeared, however, stated to be to introduce improvement from the minutes of the court-martial, that and reform into the legislative part of the the charge respecting the fraudulent bills military service, by providing a measure upon the commissioners of the navy was which should define accurately the nature decided by the judge advocate general to of charges, which should fix the highest be inadequately supported, as the forged degree of punishment to each crime, dedocuments were not produced in court; termine the form of words to be embesides which it was urged that the prac-ployed in the sentence, and establish some tice complained of was not unusual in the mode of reference from courts of inquiry naval service, and was by no means em- to other tribunals. With a view to lay ployed by captain Browne with any frau- the grounds for such ulterior object, he dulent intent. The evidence upon the should now move, "That an humble Adcharge accusing him of offering to fight dress be presented to the Prince Regent, the captain of the merchant vessel, proved praying that he would be graciously that he received the grossest and most pleased to order that copies of the several outrageous insults from that individual, courts-martial above mentioned, together and that his consequent conduct, however with the opinions of the law officers upon reprehensible it might be, was the result the two first, the orders issued by the of passion excited by that conduct: while Board of Admiralty, &c." upon the other charge of tyranny and oppression, no evidence at all was offered in support of it. Under these circumstances it was surely a great injury inAlicted upon captain Browne by the sort of sentence which the court passed, by stating that the charges were in part proved, without specifying how much of them, or of what charges. The opinion of the law officers was afterwards taken upon that sentence, and we understood his lordship to say that they had pronounced it to be unjust, illegal, and in-senting his Majesty respecting the subformal. The noble lord then adverted sequent decision, was, he could assure the to the court-martial upon Mr. Lazarus House, dictated by his views of the real Roberts, a midshipman of the Hamadryad, honour and advantage of his Majesty's who was in like manner tried upon several service. Referring to the proceedings distinct and separate charges, and had a on the court-martial, on which he differed similar sentence pronounced by the court, in opinion from his noble friend, he deviz. that they were of opinion the charges scribed the different lines of proceeding were in part proved, and adjudged him to that might be adopted, and added, that be dismissed the service and imprisoned. the greatest caution was used in the selecHe did not mean to cast the slightest im- tion of the officers who composed the putation upon the members composing court, lest any suspicion of bias might either of those courts, or to insinuate that obtain; and adverted to certain parts of they acted from any partial motives or the conduct of the officers which might undue influence; it was to the defective in their tendency be highly injurious to principles of the military law to which he the discipline of the army. rather wished to draw their lordships attention; and it was with a view to the removal of these defects that he intended his present motion as a preliminary measure. The noble lord next adverted to the court-martial on colonel Quentin, dis(VOL. XXX. )
The Duke of York rose, and made several observations in consequence of what had fallen from the noble earl, on the case of colonel Quentin, and the consequent decision thereon. His royal highness vindicated the proceedings that had taken place on the occasion. He described the important duties of the judge advocate upon the occasion, and highly panegyrised the professional merits of that deserving officer. The advice which he himself gave to the illustrious personage repre
Lord Combermere took the opportunity to say a few words. He animadverted on the letter which had been sent round by the officers of the 10th hussars, which he characterized as a 'round robin.' He bore the highest testimony to the con(2Z)
duct of those officers, while on service, though he could not support their subsequent conduct. If commanding officers were not supported against such combina1 tions, he conceived there would be an end of discipline.
Viscount Melville followed, and in the course of some detailed observations, argued that the noble, earl had by no means laid a sufficient ground for the motion he had called upon the House to adopt.
of mercy from his sovereign. He certainly could not help considering the sentence, under such circumstances, as peculiarly hard.
Earl Grey said, he was happy to find that all the disgraceful charges with respect to captain Browne had been explained away. He was not personally known to that officer; but when he was at the head of naval affairs he had promoted him, from the strong recommendation which he received of his merits. With respect to the conduct of courtsmartial, there recently appeared to have been a good deal of irregularity, which might render it, in some points of view, proper to revise them; and with respect to the case of colonel Quentin, he doubted the legality of his holding the command of a native regiment, he not being a natural-born subject of this country.
The Earl of Rosslyn was of opinion, that the courts in question in some points of view required revision, though he doubted the practicability of a law to regulate positively what should or should not be evidence.
The Earl of Caernarvon said, that there certainly did exist a necessity for re-considering the laws by which courts-martial were regulated; and in particular he wished the House to consider the state of the army with respect to duelling. By the laws of war the practice was condemned; and yet the case to which his noble relative had alluded (ensign Cowell, of the guards) exhibited the strange contradiction of a punishment inflicted for not fighting a duel. Without entering into all the particulars of that case, he was anxious to state that ensign Cowell was a young officer of rising hopes, and of most distinguished though short service; and he had been broken by the sentence of a court-martial, for not having fought a duel upon a most trifling and paltry occasion. In that court-martial not one of the rules of evidence was adhered to. One fact which ensign Cowell wished to prove, to do away the imputation of hav-motion was negatived without a division. ing acted from motives of cowardice, was the following:-In an action which took place in the South of France, not above a fortnight before the foolish affair at the theatre of Bordeaux occurred, which oc casioned his being tried, ensign Cowell had gallantly led on his men to the charge, being the only officer to command them at that moment. The affair lasted nearly three hours, during which he animated the soldiers by his heroic example. Seven men fell by his side, and not less than nineteen were wounded around him. Yet he was not permitted to establish that fact so honourable to him, because non-commissioned officers and privates, according to the regulation of courts-martial, could not be called as evidence to character. But in that case there was no officer present who could be called, and by rejecting the next best evidence, and, indeed, the only evidence which was attainable, that youthful and inexperienced, but gallant officer, was at once deprived of all chance of justice before his judges, and
Earl Stanhope thought that the courts in question required revision, and that decisions should be rendered more consonant to the principles of justice. He thought the noble earl had acted meritoriously in bringing the subject forward.
The question was then put, and the
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
IRISH LAW OFFICES FEES BILL.] Sir John Newport rose, in pursuance of his previous notice, to move for leave to bring in a Bill for the abolition of certain great offices in the courts of law in Ireland. In calling the attention of the House to this subject, he felt how much his anxiety and trouble must be diminished by the House having, on many former occasions, recognised the principle on which his proposed Bill was established. Several resolutions had been passed at different periods, sanctioning the propriety of such a measure, and leave had been given to introduce a Bill of a similar tendency. He would not, therefore, anticipate any opposition to his intended motion, for the abolition of certain great offices after the expiration of the present existing grant. Those offices were accompanied by large emo. luments, were for the most part performed