Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the noble marquis had been in framing it, and a regard to the general benefit of he had contrived to make it amount, at Europe, to fulfil with fidelity the sacred least by implication, to a recognition of obligation which we had contracted, to the government at present subsisting in prevent the opening of the Scheldt that country. He, for one, would never against the will of Holland. The noble consent that England should be the first marquis had thought proper also to make nation in Europe to recognise a govern- many observations respecting Prussia and ment so created, so established, and so Austria. What steps those two powers constituted.— The noble marquis had said, would deem it prudent to pursue, was not that his object in making this motion was for any one but themselves to say; no to try, if possible, to avert the dreadful doubt but they would be governed in the fate hanging over an unfortunate prince; adoption of measures by a due regard to and that he hoped it might be accom. their own honour and safety, and the geplished, when it should be known in neral security of Europe. -With respect France, that the English nation unani- to the French refugees who were the submously wished that so foul a stain as the ject of the second resolution, he had to execution of that virtuous monarch should observe, that it was the peculiar distincnot disgrace human nature. If it was tion of England, that when they were possible that the opinion of England on driven from almost every other country this point should have such weight on the in Europe, they had found an asylum present rulers in France as to make them, here, and experienced the generosity and ihrough respect for it, spare the life of a hospitality which were the pride and prince which they cannot destroy but in characteristics of Englishmen. He would contempt of justice and humanity, that never consent to forego that proud disopinion was already known in Paris: it tinction, by sending an ambassador to was well known there, that it was the opi- France, to ask leave for England to be nion of every man of every station in Great charitable and humane. He would not Britain, and consequently there was not the ask her leave for England to bestow upon least necessity for sending an ambassador to these unfortunate men whatever, in their that eity for the purpose of making known liberality, Englishmen should be disposed that sentiment of which no man in France to give them. It would be a degrading was ignorant.-- The noble marquis had step to England to send a minister for communicated to the House an article of such purposes. The dignity of the coun. intelligence, of no small importance in the try would be sullied if either of the meapresent state of public affairs, namely, sures proposed by the noble marquis that by a letter from Holland he had been were adopted, and therefore he was deinformed that the Dutch did not consider termined to give his negative to both. the exclusive navigation of the Scheldt as The Duke of Norfolk admitted that a matter of sufficient consequence to war. there was ground for some of the objecrant them in hazarding a war to maintain tions urged by the noble secretary of it; and that they had therefore resolved state to the wording of the resolution. not to oppose the navigation of that river. He thought, however, that if the subIt was not for him to say what foundation stance should be deemed unobjectionable, the correspondent of the noble marquis the wording might be so altered, had for sending him such information; all sure a general concurrence in favour of he could say was, that he, one of his the measure proposed by the noble marmajesty's ministers, had received no such quis. He felt that it was not decent that intelligence, and was a stranger to any such the unfortunate prince in question should determination on the part of the Dutch. be styled simply Louis 16th, but this difAs little was it for him to look back a ficulty might be easily removed either by hundred years to consider whether it was the insertion of the words “the most sound policy to allow Holland the exclu- Christian king” before the name, or by sive navigation of the Scheldt, or whether entering on the Journals a declaration it was useful to her; all he had to consi- that it was through compassion for the der was, that by a specific treaty she had state of the most Christian king, that the reserved it to herself: that by a specific resolution had been carried. The noble treaty we were pledged to guarantee it to secretary of state had asked to whom an her; and that should she call upon us for a ambassador should address himself in specific performance of our engagements, France, and where he should find the we were bound by honour, good faith, persons on whom the fate of Louis 16th

[ocr errors]

our

[ocr errors]

actually depended? The answer was and laudable, every means ought to be
pretty obvious ; every one knew there taken, and every person negociated with,
was in Paris a minister for foreign affairs, that could obtain that end. As to the
to whom our ambassador would of course national convention, and those who com-
address himself, and who would commu- posed it, he did not know that they were
nicate his dispatches and conferences to such characters as they had been called ;
the executive council, or, if necessary, to he could not believe so, and as a gentle-
the convention. His grace was of opi- man and a foreigner he would not say so.
nion, that a direct communication with Many of their decrees he deprecated, but
the people in power in France might be many traits of nobleness of sentiment and
productive of the most happy conse character had appeared in their proceed-
quences : ambassador might be ings.
able to press upon them, how injurious The Duke of Norfolk, perceiving by
had been to England the precedent on the disposition of the House, that the
which France seemed at present to be motion was likely to be rejected, reques-
acting; what calamities it had brought ted that the noble marquis would rather
upon her ; and how soon she had been consent to withdraw it, than run the risk
obliged to restore monarchy in order to of having it negatived. The consequence
put an end to anarchy at home. Rea of its being negatived might be fatal to
soning by analogy, he might show that the unfortunate monarch whom they all
France would not only do a humane and wished to save.
a just act, in sparing the unfortunate The Marquis of Lansdown, in the full
king's life, but that it would be her inter confidence that ministers would some-
est to do it. Such a mode of proceeding how or other make known to France the
could not hurt the pride or independence wishes of the House on this head, consent-
of France on one hand, or sink the dig- ed to withdraw the motion. He then
nity of England on the other; for as our moved his second resolution relative to
ambassador would have nothing to ask for the French emigrants. It was opposed by
his own country, it would appear that his lord Loughborough, on the principle of its
mission could have no other object than being impracticable: and by the duke of
that of humanity; and there was reason Norfolk, as interfering with the internal
to hope that so disinterested and so ho- government of France. It was accord-
nourable an embassy, would be produc- ingly negatived.
tive of that happy issue which every man
in the nation most earnestly wished for. Debate in the Lords on the Alien Bill.]

The Marquis of Lansdown did not ex. The Alien Bill was read a second time. pect to have heard so much, and in such Lord Grenville then moved, that it be Softy terms, of the dignity of this coun- committed to-morrow. His lordship said, try, and refusing to treat with other that as the measures which the bill propo-powers. The present instance recalled sed to enact, were rather of a novel nature, to his memory the proceedings of this the house would probably require some country previous to the American war. reasons from him to justify it. The law, The same abusive and degrading terms he said, had always made a marked diswere applied to the Americans that were tinction between natural-born subjects and now used to the national convention-aliens; of the former the king was consithe same consequences might follow. As dered as the father ; of the latter only the to Great Britain letting herself down by protector. The former owed a constant, negociating with France, he could not the latter only a local and transitory allesee how such an expression applied, when giance to the crown, and, on this account, we were asking nothing for ourselves by the situation of both was, in the eye of the that negociation, nor supplicating them law, extremely different. It appeared to but for their own benefit. This opinion be part of the prerogative of the crown to of dignity put him in mind of the old forbid foreigners to enter or reside within story of the Spanish grandee, who dis- the realm. This might be collected from missed his servant because he touched Magna Charta, in which it was stated, that him to save him from falling. As to the foreign merchants should be allowed by question of, Whom are we to negociate the king to come into, and reside in Engwith? he thought it was of no conse- land. This stipulation of so remote antiquence with whom, for if the end propo- quity in favour of trade was the more ho. sed by sending an ambassador was good nourable to our ancestors, as they had

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

caused it to be inserted in the same char- sent into England, and for what purposes ter which recognized and secured their own it was not difficult to conjecture. He did liberty. It was not to be doubted, that not mean to include indiscriminately the the crown possessed all the power with whole French nation in the class of mure which this bill was to invest it; but it had derers. God forbid that he should enterbeen so seldom exercised, that doubt might tain so shocking an opinion of so consiexist about the means of exercising it at derable a portion of mankind as twentypresent; and it was not fit that in cases in four millions of people. But this he which the safety of the country might be might say, that when anarchy was substiat stake, any doubts should be suffered to tuted in the room of government in France, exist, by which that safety might be, in some men of the most abominable princithe smallest degree, endangered. His lord- ples, had, in different parts of that counship repeated the observation which he try, worked themselves into situations of had made in a former speech, that after power, which they had abused to the eteralmost all the other countries of Europe nal disgrace of humanity. People of that had, for various reasons, refused to afford kind had been sent to England in the hope the French refugees an asylum, they that they might be able to raise an insurhad found one in England. He had on rection, and overthrow the government. this subject three questions to ask-would He then explained the several enacting their lordships remove from that asylum clauses of the bill that an account and those who had already found it? would description shall be taken at the several they shut their doors against other unfor- ports of all foreigners arriving in the kingtunate men, who might still come to seek dom; that foreigners shall not bring with refuge among thetti? would they suffer them arms or ammunition ; that they shall them, when here, to be precisely on the not depart from the place in which they same footing with natural-born subjects of first arrive, without a passport from the the king, with respect to privileges and chief magistrate, or two justices of the rights ? to the two first questions he was peace, specifying the place they are going sure their lordships were prepared to give to; that on altering a passport, or obtaining answers, and to say that the unfortunate it under a false name, they shall be banished foreigners already here, and those who the realm, and if they return, be transmight come after them, should not be ported for life ; that the secretary of state disappointed in their hope of finding an may give any suspected alien in charge to asylum among them. With respect to one of his majesty's messengers, to be by the third question, they would certainly him conducted out of the realm; that his pause. The safety of the state was not majesty by proclamation, order in counto be sacrificed to hospitality; and what-cil, or sign manual, may direct all aliens ever was necessary to that safety, was not who have arrived since January, 1792, to be blamed. Amongst the foreigners at other than merchants, and their menial present in England there were no doubt servants, to reside in such districts as he some of the most respectable and vene- shall think necessary for the public securable characters, such as every well regu- rity; that such aliens shall give an aclated society would be glad to receive into count of their name and places of resiits bosom; but there were others of a very dence to the chief magistrate, or justice of different description; some there had been, the town or place; that they shall, within and some might still be here, who a limited time, give an account of all arms had signalized themselves in the commis- and ammunition in their possession, or sion of those atrocious murders, which kept by others for their use, and deliver could not be so much as mentioned up the same, except such as shall obtain a without creating horror in every mind. licence from the secretary of state. The These men were the more dangerous, as act to continue in force until the 1st of they felt all the influence of that fana- January 1794, and from that time to the ticism and of those principles, which end of the then next session of parliament, made them think that they were earning and no longer. for themselves the honour of being enti- The Duke of Portland approved of the tled to a place among the most renowned bill, because he thought some measure of heroes of the world, by doing acts which this sort necessary to quiet the alarm that placed them on a level with those monsters had been excited in the minds of the peowho had disgraced human nature. By ple. It was not on account of any perwhom paid, by whom they had been sonal attachment to the present administration that he supported it. He could bill was without a precedent; but then it not forget the manner in which they came must be admitted to him, that the case into power; he could not forget the many was equally novel and unprecedented in circumstances in their conduct by which, the annals of this or any other country. in his opinion, they had forfeited all title As to the objection made by the noble to the confidence of the nation. He could marquis, that evidence of ihe danger not forget that to their misconduct many ought to be laid upon the table, he would of our present difficulties were owing. It not allow it to be well founded, for the was not in order to court popularity that production of evidence might defeat in a he now came forward, but because he great measure the good expected from thought the bill would restore security the bill. and quiet to the minds of the people; and The Duke of Leeds said, that the bill therefore it should have his hearty con- had his most hearty concurrence. He currence.

lamented as much as any man, the meThe Earl of Lauderdale said, that be- lancholy situation of the royal family of fore such a measure was proposed, their France, and he pitied the distresses of lordships might have expected proofs of the refugees; but still he would always the danger to be laid on their table. On be so much of an Englishman, as to be. the mere assertion of ministers, however, lieve it unlikely that a Frenchman should he was ready to concur in the principle be a friend to England. He would make of the measure, agreeing with the noble them experience all the warmth of British duke, that an alarm having been excited hospitality; but still he would look upon in the minds of the people, no matter them with an eye of jealousy, and take whether well or ill founded, great atten- care that they attempted nothing against tion was due to quieting that alarm. To the safety of this country. the clauses of the bill he had

many

ob- Lord Stormont said, the bill was no jections, which he should state in the more than a measure of self-defence. The committee. The first description of emi- disposition of those who exercised power grants mentioned by the noble lord were in France might be learned from their entitled to our utmost compassion, and own authentic acts. They formerly reeven delicacy. Driven from other coun- nounced conquests, but they also detries, they had come to this in hopes of clared war against all kings. Under all being able to live in inoffensive retire- the circumstances, there was cause for ment, and keep their names, their rank, alarm. He should have thought the and their misfortunes unknown to the danger great had ministers been blind to world, till their native country should it; but as they had seen it, and taken deem it safe to receive them. To oblige measures to prevent it, his alarm ceased. such persons to give a minute account of The bill was ordered to be committed what they might have innocent, nay, to morrow. laudable motives for wishing to conceal, would be in itself a great hardship. Dec. 22. Saturday. The order of the

The Marquis of Lansdown considered day being read for going into a committee the bill as a suspension of the Habeas on the Alien Bill, Corpus act, which, though it extended at Earl Spencer, in declaring that the bill first only to foreigners, would, he feared, met with his hearty concurrence and supbe afterwards extended to all Englishmen. port, trusted, that noble lords with whom Such a measure as this was without a he had been in the habit of voting, would precedent, and evidence ought to have not impute his secession on this occasion been laid upon the table to the to a dereliction of principle, or to a dimiexistence of such a danger as would jus- nution of the respect he had for their tify the remedy. At present the House virtues and abilities, but to a conviction, had nothing to go upon but the bare as- that the present awful and unprecedented sertion of the noble secretary of state ; ' crisis of affairs required extraordinary and in a case where the liberty of great measures to allay the discontents of the numbers of persons would be placed at people, and to counteract the machinathe mercy of the crown, it did not become tions of our enemies. For these salutary the House to give their confidence to purposes, he was of opinion that this bill ministers, merely on the credit of their was peculiarly adapted. He reminded own assertions.

ministers of the power it vested in them, Lord Hawkesbury admitted that the and cautioned them against an abuse of

f

that confidence which the nation reposed explained, unsupported insinuations of in them. While they were called upon danger, to deprive men who had thrown to act with firmness and energy, they were themselves on the hospitality of the counequally called upon to act with temper try, of the ordinary protection of the law. and moderation.

He had the utmost respect for the veraLord Grenville complimented the noble city of the noble lord who opened the earl on his candour, and assured the grounds of the bill; but it would be a House, that ministers were actuated solely dangerous precedent, indeed, for their by a sense of public duty in adopting this lordships to take the individual veracity extraordinary measure.

of any one of his majesty's ministers as a The bill then went through the com- sufficient foundation for a public measure. mittee, in which several alterations were What were their lordships going to do? made.

On the mere pretence that there were

foreign emissaries in this country, for the Dec. 26. Lord Hawkesbury, in the purpose of disseminating Jacobin princiabsence of lord Grenville, moved the ples-principles which he, for one, should order of the day for the third reading of never admit to have any connexion with the Alien Bill.

republican principles; for robbery and The Earl of Guilford * said, their lord- murder, and every doctrine that led to ships might ask, why he opposed the third them, republicans disclaimed they were reading of a bill, to the principle of which going to deliver up men who had sought he had not objected when it was read a refuge from persecution and oppression, second time?' He had expected, that in to the sole discretion of the executive the progress of the bill through the House, power. But the humanity of ministers, proofs of the necessity that called for it it was said, would be their protection. would be adduced. Long and habitual | He would never consent to deliver up deference to the opinion of the noble duke one man to the humanity of another. who, when the grounds of the bill were One of the extraordinary penalties of opened, declared that he thought some the bill was banishment. Would their such measure necessary, had induced him lordships banish men who had been forto acquiesce in that opinion, hoping that ced from their own country, and whom the bill would be so modified as to re- they were to!d no other country would move the most material part of his ob- receive? Where were these exiles to jections. In that hope he had been dis- look for refuge? In Brabant they could appointed. He did not wish, that the bill not be safe. Were we sure that Holland should be rejected. He desired only that would be more liberal than most of the their lordships would take time to inquire other powers of Europe? The cruel iminto the causes alleged for so strong a prisonment of La Fayette would warn measure, and endeavour to remove from them against approaching any country it whatever should be found more rigo- occupied by a German army. But it rous than the occasion demanded. It was might be said, let them comply with the the boast of our constitution, that, to regulations of the bill, and then they every man living under it, it extended the would escape the penalty of banishment. equal protection of the law. For violat- Was the case so?' Did not ministers, by ing this justly-boasted principle, they had the bill, reserve to themselves the power as yet nothing of proof, nothing but am- ef sending any alien out of the kingdom, biguous insinuations. It might have been whom they might think fit to suspect? expected, that of the insurrections alleged Such persons they were to send away in at the opening of the session, for assem- a manner suitable to their rank. Who bling parliament in an extraordinary man- were to be the judges of this, as well as ner, some at least would have been pro- of the suspicion in which they were so reved to exist. Their lordships had been moved? Vinisters or their agents. Their able to discover none; and of none had lordships had nu security but in their they yet been furnished with any thing moderation, and ought to take care that that deserved the name of information. the country was not disgraced by the inWas it consistent with their lordships hospitable transportation of persons who dignity or justice to proceed on such un. had thrown themselves on our hospitality.

Ministers, it would be said, were respon* George Augustus North, third earl of sible for their conduct, Responsible, inGuilford.

deed, in their characters and reputation; [ VOL. XXX. ]

[M]

« AnteriorContinuar »