« PreviousContinue »
ussured these gentlemen, that as this report received the next day ; uport was a war-tax, it would certainly which a bill was framed, brought ccase with the war. The resolu- in, and passed into a law in a few tions were then agreed to, and the days.
Alarms respecting an Incasion Means proposed by Ministers for the Safety
of the Kingdon. Motion of Mr. Dundas in the House of Commons to that Effect. Detail of the Plan-Debate on that Subject - In the CommonsIn the Lords. Alien Bill-Debates on that Subject. Debates in the Housc of Commons on the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. Bill for more effectually manning the Navy-Debates on that Subject. Debate on the Slave Trade-Slave-Carrying Bill-Slate-Restraining Bill.
THE continued threats of in- given the preceding day, to move
1 vasion, which had been held for leave to bring in a bill, to enout by the enemy, seem to have · ble his majesty to take measures excited the apprehensions, and rous- for the more effectual security and ed the attention of the British mi- defence of these realms, and to innistry soon after the meeting of demnify persons who might suffer parliament; and on the 11th of injury in their property by the opeJanuary a message was sent by ration of such measures. It was his majesty to each house, soliciting an affair of the greatest importance, their attentiou to that important and he was aware, that on a motion subject. It was, however, some for a bill of so general a description, time before a plan could be ina- gentlemen would ask, “ whether tured to the satisfaction of ministers we are not now in possession of a for the defence of the kingdom; navy, which would render futile and the necessity of agitating the every attenipt of the enemy to insubject in parliament deferred its vade our coasts ?" This he was ready execution, till the face of affairs in to admit. But, notwithstanding Europe began to assume a different the splendor of our naval characappearance, and till the kingdom ter, there existed circumstances at was in part relieved from the alarms that moment wbich rendered it imexcited by the formidable prepara prudent to rest the defence of the tions on the opposite side of the country on one branch of its force. channel. On the 8th of February, It might probably be asked, “ is Mr. Dundas moved for the intro- not our army the greatest we ever duction of a bill to enable bis ma- bad? and can we not defend the jesty to call out a certain portion of country by means of the regular the supplementary militia, and in- forces and the militia ?" But notcorporate them in the companies of withstanding these guarantees, he the regular militia. The bill was would not altogether rest on them passed with little of debate ; and on our security and safety. Mr. DunTuesday, March 27, the same mi das then made some remarks on the nister rose in pursuance of a notice spirit and zeal that distinguished the
voluntary exertions of the great duced the sheriff to hold several body of the people in the different meetings ; but as from the nature corps of yeomanry and county of his office, he could only call out cavalry ; tbese, he observed, were the posse comitatus in cases limited known friends of their country, and by circumstances of mere local ready to come forward in its de urgency, these meetings had no fence. But while he felt these sen- other effect than giving a collected timents of confidence in the ge- expression of the patriotism of that neral disposition of the people, he county. In other counties, the should think that the executive go- lord lieutenants had done more; but vernment did not enable the zeal it was doubtful whether they could and spirit of the country to come go beyond certain bounds. It was forward most effeciually, were a the object of this bill to provide for measure like the present not aclı every possible emergency, by giving opted and pursued. Many rea- a power to his majesty to discover sons might be assigned for the zeal who were the persons prepared to which distinguished the present appear in arms, to embody for their period; however, it was sufficient to own slefence. Another provision mention one, viz, that we were of the bill was to see what number fighting for the deepest stake that of the inhabitants of certain diever the country had at issue in any stricts would be able to act as pio. contest. This was the opinion of neers, or in other laborious situa. wise men, even in the early stages tions. He also remarked, that in of the French revolution. Mr. the crisis of real danger, some perDundas next made some remarks sons might be influenced by moon the conduct of the French con tives of personal safety, or the naFention relative to their multiplied tural wish of preserving their proattempts to introduce anarchy a perty, which might lead some to mong the people of England, by withdraw from their country: the the emissaries of sedition and revolt. present bill, however, would proHappily, however, he remarked, vide, that should the property of the evil spirit had been observed individuals be destroyed by a marchlarking insidiously in the silence of ing army, or fall into the enemy's the haunts sacred to sedition, and the hands, or be taken for the service enemies of order. The honourable of the country, indemnification secretary did not think it necessary should be rendered according to its to enter into a detail of the acts of value. The other provisions were, parliament to prove that such that in the event of its being neceswas the state of things at that sary to employ persons as pioneers, period. he thought it enough to to remove stock, or assist in facilimention it generally. - He said tating the carriage of military stores, it was now his wish to state the proper compensation would be object of the bill; in truth, it made. The bill, he observed, was kad two or three objects of im- intended to give a power of emportance connected with it. Al bodying also a portion of the reready some counties had expressed gular militia, and employing them I wish to adopt measures in their in the defence of the country. patare similar. For instance, Dor- Upon these broad principles of · set, where propositions were made justice, he was confident, the spirit by the men of property, which in- of the country would be exerted ;
and he believed that there was nos to examine the parts most vulnerathing that could infuse confidence ble, and there put ourselves in a into a people, and make them feel situation to resist the encmy. He that their security depended on the could not be so well informed as measures taken for their defence, ministers relative to the preparabut enabling them to unite to de- tions going on in France; but it fend themselves. Mr. Dundas next did not appear to him that they made some remarks on the conduct were such as could induce a belief of certain individuals in this counc in the probability of a speedy intry, who, under the pretext of a vasion. That they meant to make parliamentary reform, were corre- an attempt was evident, by the sponding with the enemy on sub- preparations in their dock-yards ; jects highly treasonable. It must and though much had been said of be obvious, that, however plausi- the impracticability of a successful ble associations for reform might be descent on our coast, whatever was at other times, the present was not the situation of some places, he ena period fit either to propose or tertained no doubt of the practidiscuss that question. After mak- cability of landing. The general ing some observations on the con- observed, that the military operaduct of the French relative to tions of France were conducted on Genoa, Venice, and Switzerland, a plan different from that of any who had announced, he said, to other European power; a plan their troops, that every battle gain- which had abolished the old trans-. ed, was an advantage over Eng. fort system, while it facilitated the land-such an enemy, he said, it debarkation of troops ; this, joined became us to oppose, who sought to the uncertainty where the enemy for nothing less than the destruction would land, induced him to recomof our fleet, the annihilation of mend that all the attention of goour commerce, and the overthrow vernment might be directed to the of our constitution. He then defence of the metropolis, in the moved, “That leave be given to environs of which, he thought the bring in a bill to enable his ma- efficient force of the country ought jesty more effectually to provide to be concentrated. He remarked, for the security and defence of these that it was no information to the realms, and to indemnify persons French, and that he was therefore who may suffer injury in their pro in order when he stated, that beperty by the operation of such tween London and any part of the measures."
coast there was no fortified place to General Tarleton did not fise resist the progress of the enemy. If to oppose the motion ; but what- they effected a landing, it must be ever might be the danger appre. at a considerable distance from hended by ministers, he believed the metropolis, perhaps 150 miles, there did not exist in the country which would take them six days any body of men exclusively attach- to accomplish their march, during ed to France. The country, how which period an advantageous situaever, bounded in military resour- tion might be taken to defend the ces, which, if rightly managed, capital. The general concluded by would enable it to resist any enemy. Saying, that he had thrown out In his opinion, the best way of pro- these cbservations from a sense of viding for our defence would be his duty to the house and the coun
try, but that he would not oppose it as his opinion, that all the exer. the measure.
tions which could be made in conGeneral Delancy said a few words sequence of this plan could proin answer to general Tarleton. He duce but little effect, if the present remarked it was not true that no system of coercion in Ireland was preparations had been made to put continued. There was no chance the country in a proper state of de- of making any effectual resistance fence. The illustrious commander whilst the people of the sister kingin chief had, he knew, with great dom were kept down and oppressed; productive diligence, applied him- for the remaining part of the emself to the consideration of te pire, he observed, could be but state of the country, and was able feebly supported. He made some to draw out the forces to the best remarks on the success of the advantage.
French, relative to Austria and Sir William Pulteney approved Rome; and said, that Naples and the plan which had that day been Spain were in danger of experioffered to the house, although he encing the same fate. No person could have wished that a similar could lament the fate of Switzerone had been brought forward at land more than he did. But what an earlier period : but it was not was the cause of their calamities? yet too late, and for the lateness of It was the divisions which had it, the country had only to use existed among them, which pregreater exertions. He agreed with vented them from making the nethe honourable general, that the cessary preparations to resist an inmetropolis ought to be guarded vation. Such, he said, must be the with a very great force; and also fate of this country, if that dreadful all the other great towns through- division existed between England out the kingdom. With regard to and Ireland. It was of the most the assertion of the right honoura- serious importance to consider of ble gentleman (Mr. Dundas), that lenient measures, and the wellthere was a large body of people wishers of the British constitution in the country who wished to fa- should try all means, and do every tour the designs of the enemy; thing in their power, to put an end for his part, he was sure that there to those dreadful divisions. were scarcely any of such a descrip- Mr. Wilberforce conceived it netion; and if there were, they must cessary for him to rise to give his be very few. Whatever opinions support to the present measure ; might have been once entertained because he perceived there were concerning the French, he would some gentlemen on the opposite side venture to say they were now of the house who, although they prechanged. He knew that many tended to support it, yet gave it a persons, in a moment of warmth, kind of secret opposition. In his would say things of which they opinion, it became every man to be Literwards repented, and there was unanimous on an occasion like the Do circumstance that could serve to present. He made some remarks Icuse the spirit and indignation of upon what had fallen from the the country more effectually than honourable baronet relative to the the recent example of Switzerland. measure not having been adopted
Mr. Nicholls did not rise to op- sooner. He observed, that for pose the measure, but to declare these three or four years past, the 1798.
same plan was acted upon in spirit, ing it his silent vote, had not an and that similar measures, all tend- honourable gentleman thrown out ing to the defence of the county, some ungrounded assertions against had been adopted during the whole gentlemen on his side of the house, of that time. In that country, by saying that they had made a which he had the honour to repre- secret opposition to the intended sent, he could say, that great num- plan. This he observed was an bers of the people, who had never illiberal insinuation, and such as been in the habit of understanding he might naturally expect to come military affairs, had come forward from that quarter. “ But said Mr. long ago, and offered their services Tierney) I will tell that honourable for the defence of the country. gentleman, that I am as animated
The people of York highly ap- in the cause of defending my counproved of the conduct of his ma- try as he can be.” When any genjesty's present ministers, which they tleman in that house, he added,, knew to be directed to the safety proposed a measure ühich he conand advantage of the country. He ceived had a tendency to promote would not trouble the house with the interest of the empire, he would any more observations, he found it ask, whether that man could be a necessary thus to declare what were friend to his country, or acted in a the sentiments of his constituents, manner becoming a member of as well as to express the satisfaction that house, who from any little he felt at hearing the present plan petulance should sneer at what had proposed.
been offered from the best intenMr. Buxton said a few words, in tions ? For his part, he did not consupport of the present measure, sider himself bound to give a blind and observed that he had proposed support to any measure, though he something similar in the counties highly approved of the present. of Norfolk and Suffolk, where it Mr. Wilberforce rose to explain, had been approved of; and it was and said, he only meant to state to determined that carts and waggons the house, that the language which should be in a state of readiness to had fallen from gentlemen on the carry away the property of farmers other side of the house was not living near the coast.
like that warm and cordial exMr. Dundas rose to make a short pression of sentiment which was reply to the honourable baronet, naturally to be expected in a crisis relative to the plan being attended 50 essentially different from all with no expence: he said, no gen- others that had ever occurred. In tleman could suppose, that persons such a crisis, he thought, all ought being employed in the business of to be united, that the people of being trained, &c. should have no the country without doors might compensation, though many of the be ready to put into execution volunteers had come forward and those plans which the house might refused any pay at all.
think proper to adopt. Mr. Hobbouse rose to ask, whe- The chancellor of the exchether persons under this plan would quer rose to make some remarks on be forced to serve ?
what he termed the unwarrantable Mr. Tierney said he highly ap- language thrown out by the hoproved of the measure, and should nourable gentleman on the other have contented himself with give side of the house towards his ho