Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

as

committed in a more unjustifiable manner. | between the ratio suasoria and the ratio, But the right hon. gentleman said, these justifica, which were alternately to be subwere only topics to induce us to refuse "stituted, the one for the other, as called the assistance of those courts. If the for. If, as he feared, this war was underobject of the war were distinct, we might, taken against principles, let us look to the indeed, accept of their assistance with conduct of Germany, Russia, and Prussia, safety: but, while all was doubt and un- and, if the spirit of chivalry was so alive certainty, how could we pretend to know amongst us, see if there were no giants, no what were their views, or what they ex- monsters, no principles, against which we pected as the price of their assistance? had better turn our arms.

For his part, We were now acting in concert with the he had no hesitation in saying, that though dividers of Poland. "We ourselves were France had unhappily afforded many inthe dividers of Poland; for, while we were stances of atrocity, yet the invasion of courting them to aid us in a war against last year, and which our present conduct French principles, we furnished them seemed to justify, was the most gross with the pretext, and afforded them the violation of every thing sacred which opportunity of dividing Poland. We were could exist between nation and nation, as the guarantees of Dantzic, of which striking at the root of the right which Prussia, our ally, had taken possession. each must ever possess of internal legis. Did we not say, when the French at-lation. The mode of getting out of this tempted to open the Scheldt, that we were situation was by agreeing to the address, the guarantees of the exclusive navigation censuring lord Auckland, and thus conof the Scheldt to the Dutch ?

vincing the other powers of Europe that -mutato nomine, de te we would not be parties to their plans for Fabula narratur.

dividing kingdoms. It was indeed, matter Prussia was the other guarantee ; but re- of great doubt, whether or not peace for garded guarantees

little as the Europe could now be obtained for any French, when Dantzic and Thorn were great length of time.

The encourageto be annexed to his

his territories. ment we had given to the robbery of PoWhat was this but teaching the peo- land might be expected to inflame the ple that the professions of courts were passions of avarice and ambition. There mere delusions—that the pretext for the was, however, one nation, Spain, which war was the danger from French power had a common interest with us, and with and French principles, but the cause, to which he wished to see a cordial union gratify the ambition of other powers ? against the dangerous aggrandisement of How were we ever to make peace, when the imperial courts and Prussia. All our. we were not agreed upon the terms with victories in the present war had been those who assisted us in the war? Regard obtained by their arms exclusively, and for the christian religion was one of the every victory gave fresh cause of jealousy. reasons alleged for dividing Poland ; re- To agree to the address would have angard for the christian religion might be other good effect. It would satisfy the alleged for dividing France. He did not people, that the reason for the war and understand that we paid any subsidies, the pretext were the same; and that there and in one point of view he was sorry for was not one language for the House of it. We should then understand for what Commons and another for the Hague. we had engaged. As the case stood at Upon these grounds, he conceived the present, how did we know what Prussia or country under great obligations to his the emperor might require of us? As hon. friend for bringing forward the preRussia had taken part of Poland, might sent motion, as tending to call forth from not the emperor take a fancy to Bavaria the minister a repetition of those causes and the Palatinate? And thus the diffi- and objects to which the nation had a. culties of making peace become greater right to look up for the commencement than those of carrying on the war? Add and continuance of the war. to this, that if rumour or regard to ancient Mr. Curwen contended, that the object policy could be trusted, Spain would not of the motion was completely gained ; that consent to the dismemberment of France. lord Auckland's Memorial had been in Mr. Fox said he was the more strongly substance disavowed by the minister ; and convinced of the observation he had made the old ground of the war again brought upon a former occasion, that in all these forward. He therefore wished Mr. Shequarrels there was a material difference ridan would not divide the House.

Yeas ŞMr. Sheridan

{M
{Nr. Senkirnorth Neville } 21

Mr. Sheridan said, it was indifferent to struction of this act : our ancestors had him whether the House divided or not. taken great pains to define and ascertain He certainly considered the main object it; and the 25th Edw. 3d had, in a very he had in view as completely gained in particular manner, restricted its sense and the minister's explicit disavowal of the construction. His lordship observed, principles attempted to be introduced that it was the duty of parliament to make into the war by lord Auckland, which laws against treason; and that on no must have made peace impossible. former occasion, in a war with France,

Mr. Whitmore insisted that the House was there a necessity for the same proshould divide, because he had no faith in visions in any bill as at present. It was the profession of ministers.

not for an island that we were contending; The House divided :

it was for our constitution, our liberty, TELLERS.

and our existence as a nation. To buy

lands in France was not in itself an immo

36 Mr. Grey

ral act; but as to buy lands therc, under

the present circumstances, would furnish Noes SMr. Aldworth Neville

211

the French with the means of carrying Mr. Jenkinson

on the war against Great Britain, it was So it passed in the negative.

a duty which the legislature owed to the

public, to make it penal for any subject Debate in the Lords on the Traitorous of this country to lay out his money in a Correspondence Bill.] April 15. This bill way which might be highly injurious to having been read a second time,

the interests of this community. Land • Lord Grenville said, that the bill had was the only property on which France three objects ; to prevent France from re- depended. It was necessary to prevent ceiving supplies of naval, military, and the purchases of such property; no nation other stores; to prevent the people of but England could afford to make these this country from furnishing the French purchases to any large amount, as they with money for carrying on the war, by alone possessed a capital that enabled her purchasing the confiscated estates in to make speculations of every kind. The France; and to prohibit the insurance of people exercising the government of French ships and property by British sub- France had hitherto found resources only jects. For the attainment of those objects in public robbery ; this was a hard term, the bill bad been framed ; and the penalty but it was a just one; first they raised ot high treason was to be attached to the supplies out of the robbery of the crown breach of some of the clauses, and other lands; next out of the robbery of the punishments were to follow the breach church lands; and both these resources of the others. The legislature, in being at length exhausted, they were declaring certain acts to be criminal, was now endeavouring to provide for the exinot always influenced by the moral tur-gencies of the state, by robbing their emipitude of the deeds, but by the sense of grant brethren, first driving by their ty. the injury which society might sustain ranny those unfortunate men into exile, from them. An act of moral turpitude and then confiscating their estates, solely might affect only an individual, and there because they were exiles, and leaving fore the legislature did not think it, as them only the melancholy alternative of such, a crime to be punished with the being murdered if they did not emigrate, utmost rigour of the law; but an attempt or of losing their fortunes if they did: so to overturn the constitution of a country, that in either case their lot was deploinvolving in it the peace and happiness, rable. It did not become Englishmen to of every being of the community, was be the purchasers of estates so acquired considered as the highest crime against by the present French government, bethe state, and therefore punished in the cause it did not become them to partimost rigorous manner : such a crime was cipate in an infamous robbery : and therecalled high treason; and the penalties fore it was fit that the legislature should attached to high treason were from time prohibit such a participation under the to time enacted against deeds, which penalty of high treason. To the same though not in themselves immoral had a principle might be referred the prohibition tendency to injure, if not destroy the of insurance, for sound policy, which community. His lordship said, there was justified the clause against the purchase great danger in any loose or general con- of lands in France, equally justified the

The Earl of Lauderdale maintained the still remained treasons under the act of injustice, inefficacy, and impolicy of the the 25th of Edw. 3rd. Having no doubt whole of the bill as a mass, and the tyran. of the legality of that opinion, he felt himnical nature of several of the clauses in self bound to observe, that the lives of the particular. He made several observations subjects were put in great danger by this on it, as it would be injurious to the sale bill; for a man of an ordinary understandof any of our commodities abroad, and ing would naturally take it for granted, , was severe on that part which had been that if a bill passed, specifying certain taken in the progress of the bill as it acts to be treason, all things not included affected cloth." He quoted the authority in that bill were not treason. For this of lord Mansfield in the year 1747, upon reason, he should think it would be proper the subject of insurance, and agreed with to insert a clause, stating, that no man the substance of that able speech. He should be convicted of treason on any law quoted also the opinion of Mr. Justice except the present bill. Indeed, he had Blackstone upon conspiracies and plots, seen nothing in the situation of this in which he

says, that alarms of false plots country that called for any alteration of and conspiracies were always the props of the law of treason ; but if there was to be a wicked administration. He dissented any alteration, it thould be such as every from the bill altogether.

man liable to fall a victim to it might The Duke of Portland said, he should understand. not oppose the commitment of the bill, Lord Abingdon said, that the bill had because he thought the committee the his most hearty concurrence; as any proper stage for correcting several parts measure should have that had even a tenof it, that appeared highly objectionable. dency to prevent the importation and proHe disapproved, in particular, of making pagation of French principles into this the agreeing to do certain acts equally country. His lordship said he was born criminal with the acts themselves. But and bred, as his ancestors before him were, his principle reason for rising was, to say, an Antigallican; that he had lived to be that with respect to the bill, and all other confirmed in these principles, to find that measures, he would, in perfect consistency they were not falsely implanted in his with his former declarations, give a fair mind, and to know, from experience, that and honourable support to the war, be- the old philosophy was better than the cause he thought it both just and ne- new. He had been taught to consider cessary. This he should do from no tim- France not only as the natural enemy of idity, unless zeal for the preservation of this country, but of all the world. Universal the constitution could be called timidity. dominion had ever been her aim. She

The question was put and carried; and tried it under a monarchical, she was now on the following day the House went into trying it under a republican, form of goa committee on the bill, in which va- vernment. What she attempted under rious amendments were agreed to. Louis 14th; she was now aiming at under

citizen Egalité; the governments were April 22. The Traitorous Correspond. different, but the object was the same. ence bill was read a third time. On the He had learnt too that French liberty motion that it do now pass,

would be English slavery; and therefore he The Earl of Guilford said, that although was not one of those that much wished for the bill had undergone many important French freedoni; for although a christian, amendments, yet it still contained too he was not so good a one as to love his much objectionable matter for him to neighbour better than himself. I have, assent to its passing. He observed, that thank God (said his lordship), enough of words of themselves had never by law that Roman amor patriæ in my bosom, been deemed treason, and yet by one of to prefer my own to any other country, the provisions of this bill, an agreement and thus to say with Pope ; in words only was declared to be treason. Friends, parents, neighbours, first we do He requested their lordships to reflect upon embrace, the inconsistency of making that an act of “ Our country next, and next all human race." treason, which would not amount to a The Marquis of Landsdowne said, that common agreement in any court in West- the bill struck at many of the fundamental minster-hall. The learned lord on the principles of the constitution, and he woolsack had said that notwithstanding all should feel great weight upon his mind if the provisions of the present bill, there he neglected to oppose it. Our ancestors,

in the best times, had confined treason to finally to pardon, for fear that by putting circumstances concerning the person of men to death for trifles, the humanity of the the king and wisely so, for by so doing, public should be shocked. This was the they had added in the mind of subjects a case with the bill in question : for who resource for the royal person; but this bill would say that a jury would doom a fellow tended to dissolve the principles of the con- creature to death for selling a yard of stitution, and to introduce a confusion in cloth, and sending it to France. As wise the ideas of the lower classes of the people. legislators, who should accommodate themIt was extremely impolitic to bring within selves to the spirit and temper of the times, the description of high treason, things in and to the changes in the public mind, their nature indifferent or unimportant. their lordships ought to make allowances High treason was the highest crime which for the change of opinions which had taken the law or the legislature knew, and there. place in Europe since the revolution in fore the punishment annexed to it ought America. That great event had been not to be made to fall on petty offenders. productive of many others; and no one The life and liberty of the king were of could tell how many more would spring the greatest importance to the state ; for out of it. Three millions of men in a upon them rested the peace and happiness neighbouring kingdom (the catholics of the whole community; it was con- of Ireland), who had bent under the sequently wise and just that an attempt to weight of oppression, and had been deprive his majesty of either, should be obliged for a century past to go upon all called high treason, and punished as such; fours, now stood erect upon two legs like but it would be absurd that a man who the rest of their fellow subjects. This was should, during the present war, sell to the an important change, and ought to inFrench a pair of old boots, should be fluence the legislature in its future systems deemed exactly as criminal as if he had for a government, in which three millions actually taken away the life of the king, of people, who had hitherto been doomed or robbed him of his liberty. He had at to silence, and wlio now could raise their all times been disposed to uphold the voice in their country, must perceive that majesty of the throne; and he was still that very circumstance would call for more disposed to do so at present, when serious attention to the opinions and wishes the tide of democracy was running so of the governed. In Scotland there was a strongly against royalty; he was ready growing democracy, becoming daily more therefore to give his support to any bill powerful, because more wealthy through calculated to give greater security to the the medium of commerce. These two circrown, and insure still more the personal cumstances would make it necessary that safety of the king; for such purposes he government should be peculiarly careful was willing to extend the statute of to rule the people with prudence and treason; but he could not bear to think wisdom; and to take from them all tempthat the selling of a pair of shoes to the tation to emigrate from Europe to French, should be made in the eye of the America, whither he understood that law as criminal an act as the murder of the many of our most skilful artificers and king. There could not be a more mis- manufacturers were preparing to carry chievous principle than that which tended their industry and ingenuity. History to diminish the reverence which subjects showed that there had always been a prohabitually had for the sovereign ; and this pensity in parliament to enact new statutes bill tended to introduce confusion in that of treason; before the 25th of Edw. 3rd, respect, and consequently lessened the they were so numerous, that it was honourable support to wluich government scarcely possible for a man to stir a single ought to look. Besides, it was a general step, or open his lips, without saying or maxim, that excess of punishment for a doing something which by those statutes crime brings impunity along with it. It was declared to be treason. That wise was to this we were to attribute so many monarch found it necessary to repeal them acquittals of men tried upon sanguinary all, and to pass the famous act of the 25th acts of parliament: the jury seeing the of his reign, which was considered as the vast disproportion between the offence and standard for defining treason. In the the punishment often acquitted, although reign of his successor, Richard 2nd statutes they had no doubt of the commission of of treason began again to spring up; but to the act; and often judges, after conviction, show the little efficacy of them, he had only were obliged to respite, and the king to observe that they could not save the unfortunate monarch who had so mul- ; a stipulation did not at that time hurt the tiplied them, or prevent him from being public feelings; but no one would dare to deposed and murdered. Henry 4th, who propose such a one at this moment; the succeeded him, followed the example of world would not endure it. With respect Edward 3rd, and repealed all the acts of to the war in which we were at present treason, except the 25th of that king. engaged, he could not better describe the Both Houses of parliament indeed wanted injustice of it, than by quoting a passage him rather to extend than to repeal statutes from the English Grotius, the learned of treason; they both proposed to him a archdeacon Paley, in which that author bill for making sacrilege treason; but setting down what were the causes which Henry 4th, instead of giving it his royal could justify war in general, observed assent, rejected it by means of his nega- that nothing could be more unjustifiable tive, saying le roi s'avisera. From his than that one nation should take advantage time to that of queen Mary statutes of of the weakness, misfortunes, or distractreaşon again multiplied to such a degree, tions of another, and thus make war upon that Mary found she could not do the it with views of conquest and aggrannation a greater pleasure than to repeal dizement. Such he considered the nature them all, except the 25th of Edward 3rd of the present war. The bill would never From the time of that queen to the present answer its own object; for it never could day, new statutes of treason were enacted prevent the traders of this country from against papists, against coiners, and supplying the French with the enumerated against such as should endeavour to articles, when the profit to be made was prevent or overturn the Hanover suc- likely to be great.--Some noble lords had cession. The statutes against the first defended the bill on this ground, that were deemed, in our liberal days, too there was something in the internal state bloody and unjust to be put into execution, of this country which made it necessary ; and were last year repealed. The acts he knew of no such state; he believed against coiners were now found inadequate nothing of what he had heard about plots, to the end for which they had been passed, and conspiracies, and seditions in Great and must very soon be revised by the le- Britain; he did not, indeed, say that there gislature. The statutes of treason made might not be some disaffected people in for the security of the Hanover succession, the nation, for such were to be found in were now completely useless, that suc- every nation; but all that was necessary cession being firmly established and un- for the purpose of counteracting them, was disturbed by any claim or pretension in vigilance on the part of the executive goopposition to it. At present he did not vernment; nothing could be more absurd see any necessity for statutes of treason, than, for the purpose of keeping them except for the security of the life and under, to extend the statutes of treason. dignity of the sovereign, and the safety of Upon all these grounds, he not only opthe state. He therefore could not bear posed the bill, but was determined to take to see a bill pass that House for punishing the sense of the House upon it. acts of little or no importance, with just The Duke of Leeds supported the bill. the same rigour as if they were done He thanked his majesty's ministers for against the life of the king, or the very the vigorous exertions which they had being of the community. The authority made, for suppressing the spirit of disof Grotius might perhaps be quoted content and sedition which had begun to against him; but he was confident, that show itself in many parts of the kingdom. as the opinion of that able man had been He thanked them also for the readiness governed by the principles and sentiments with which they had sent relief to our entertained in his day by the different allies the Dutch, and prepared to carry nations, he would, if he was now alive, on a war as unprovoked as it was unjust give quite another opinion, on account of on the part of France. The correspondence the revolution which he must perceive in between the noble secretary of state and the public mode of thinking. Revolutions M. Chauvelin, he considered as having in public opinions were much more rapid done great honour to the former, who than men in general might think: so late as had displayed a firmness in the negociation, the year 1755, it was stipulated that the plun- which could be equalled only by his moder acquired by the Russians at the capture deration. We were at war, not for purof Berlin, should be considered as part of poses of aggrandizement, but of selfthe subsidy to be paid to Russia. Such defence; and our only object was, to

« AnteriorContinuar »