Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

and glaring lights, that I can pretend to add nothing to the conviction and indignation it has raised. · Sir, as to the great national objection, the searching your fhips, that favorite word, as it is called, is not omitted, indeed, in the Preamble to the Convention, but it stands there as the reproach of the whole, as the strongest evidence of the fatal submission that follows: On the part of Spain, an usurpation, an inhuman tyranny claimed and exercised over the American seas; on the part of England, an undoubted right by Treaties and from God and Nature, declared and asserted in the Refolutions of Parliament, are referred to the discussion of Plenipotentiaries upon one and the same equal foot. Sir, I say this undoubted right is to be discussed, and to be regulated, and if to regulate be to prescribe rules (as in all constructions it is) this right is, by the express words of this Convention, to be given up and sacrificed; for it must cease to be any thing, from the moment it is submitted to limits.

The Court of Spain has plainly told you, (as appears by papers laid on the table) you shall steer a due course, you shall navigate by a line to and from your plantations in America ; if you draw near to her coasts (though from the circumstances of that navigation you are under a necessity of doing it) you Thall be seized and confiscated: if then upon these terms only, she has consented to refer, what becomes at once of all the fecurity we are flattered with in consequence of this reference ? Plenipotentiaries are to regulate finally the respective pretenfions of the two Crowns, with regard to trade and navigation in America ; but does a man in Spain reason, that these pretensions must be regulated to the satisfaction and honor of England ? No, Sir; they conclude, and with reason, from the high spirit of their Administration, from the superiority with which they have so long trusted you, that this reference must end, as it has begun, to their honor and advantage.

But Gentlemen fay, the Treaties subsisting are to be the measure of this regulation.- Sir, as to Treaties, I will take

part part of the words of Sir William Temple, quoted by the Honot able Gentleman near me, It is in vain to negotiate and make Treaties, if there is not dignity and rigor to enforce the observance of them; for under the misconstruction and misinterpretation of these very Treaties subsisting, this intolerable grievance has arisen;; it has been growing upon you Treaty after Treaty, through twenty years of negotiation, and even under the discuffion of Commissaries to whom it was referred. You have heard from Captain Vaughan at your bar, at what time these injuries and indignities were continued; as a kind of explanatory comment upon the Convention Spain has thought fit to grant you, as another infolent protest, under the validity and force of which she has suffered this Convention to be proceeded on. We will treat with you, but we will search and take your ships ; we will sign a Convention, but we will keep your subjects prisoners, prisoners in Old Spain; the West-Indies are remote, Europe shall be witness how we use you.

Sir, as to the interference of an admission of our right not to be searched, drawn from a reparation made for ships unduly seized and confiscated, I think that argument is very inconclu. five. The right claimed by Spain, to search our ships, is one thing, and the excesses admitted to have been committed, in consequence of this pretended right, is another : but surely, Sir, reasoning from inferences and implication only, is below the dignity of your proceedings, upon a right of this vast importance. What this reparation is, what sort of composition for your loffes, forced upon you by Spain in an instance that has come to light, where your own Commissaries could not in conscience decide against your claim, has fully appeared upon examination; and as for the payment of the sum stipulated, (all but seven and twenty thousand pounds) it is evidently a fallacious, nominal payment only. I will not attempt to enter into a detail of a dark, confused, and scarcely intelligible account; I will only beg leave to conclude with one word upon it in the light of a submislion, as well as of an adequate reparation. Cs

Spain

:

of an existe debt Spain

Spain stipulates to pay to the Crown of England, 95,000l. by a preliminary protest of the King of Spain, the South Sea Com.. pany is at once to pay 68,000 l. of it: If they refuse, Spain, I admit, is fiill to pay the 95,000l. but how does it stand then ? The Affiento Contract is to be suspended : you are to purchase this fum at the price of an exclusive trade, pursuant to a national treaty, and at an immense debt of God knows how many hundred thousand pounds, due from Spain to the South Sea Company, Here, Sir, is the fubmiffion of Spain by the payment of a stipulated fum; a tax laid upon subjects of England, under the severest penalties, with the reciprocal accord of an, English Minister, as a preliminary that the Convention may be signed: a condition imposed by Spain in the most absolute imperious manner, and received by the Ministers of England in the most tame and abject. Can any verbal distinctions, any evasions whatever, posibly explain away this public infamy? To whom would we disguise it?. To ourselves and to the nation: I wish we could hide it from the eyes of every Court in Europe : They see Spain has talked to you like your Master, they see this arbitrary fundamental condition, and it must stand with distinction, with a pre-eminence of shame, as a part even of this Convention.

This Convention, Sir, I think from my soul is nothing but a ftipulation for national ignominy, an illusory expedient to baffle the resentment of the nation ; a truce without a suspension of hoftilities, on the part of Spain; on the part of England, a suspension; as to Georgia, of the first law of nature, self-preservation and self-defence; a surrender of the trade and rights of England to the mercy of Plenipotentiaries, and in this infinitely highest and sacred point, future security, not only inadequate, but directly repugnant to the Resolutions of Parlia. ment, and the gracious Promise from the Throne. The complaints of your despairing Merchants, the voice of England has condemned it; be the guilt of it upon the head of the ad.

viser; viser; God forbid that this Committee should share the guile by approving it!

William Pitt, Esq; March 6, 1739. :

AMONG the many advantages arising from our happy Conftitution, there is one that is reciprocal to King and People, which is a legal and regular method by which the People may lay their grievances, complaints, and opinions, before their Sovereign; not only with regard to the measures he pursues, but also with regard to the persons he employs. In absolute monarchies, the People may suffer, they may complain; but though their sufferings be public, their complaints must be private; they must not so much as murmur against their King's Measures or Ministers; if they do, it is certain perdition to the few that are guilty of so much indiscretion. This is a most terrible misfortune to the People in all absolute monarchies, and occasions those severe punishments and cruel tortures, which are so frequent in all such ; but it is a misfortune te

the absolute Monarch, as well as to the people under his de· Spotic sway,'for as he has no way of coming at the knowledge

of the unpopularity of his Ministers or Measures, he often goes on pursuing the same Measures, or employing the same Ministers, till the discontents of his people become quite universal and furious ; and then by a general infurrection, he and bis Ministers are involved in one common ruin. However upright his intentions may have been, however much he may have been imposed on by his Ministers, an impetuous domineering mob can feldom make ally difference: The despotic Monarch himself, and sometimes his whole family, are borne down by the impetuosity of the torrent, and become a sacrifice to the resentment of an injured populace,

In this kingdom, Sir, it can never be so, as long as the King allows Parliaments to fit regularly and freely, and the Members of this House perform faithfully the duty they owe to their King, their Constituents, and their Country. As

C3

Members Members of this House, Sir, we are obliged to represent to his Majesty, not only the grievances, but the sentiments of the People, with regard to the measures he pursues, and the persons he advises with or employs in the executive part of our Government; and therefore whilst we fit here and do our duty, no general discontent can arise, without his Majesty's being informed of its causes, and of the methods for allaying it: If we neglect to do so, or from selfish motives abstain, or delay giving his Majesty a proper information and advice upon any such occasion, we neglect or betray, not only our duty to our Country and Constituents, but also our duty to our Sovereign.

This, Sir, is my opinion; this must be the opinion of every man who has a true notion of our Constitution; and therefore, I can no longer delay making you the Motion, with which I shall conclude what I have to say upon this occasion. I believe there is not a Gentleman of this House, who is not sen. sible, that both the foreign and domestic measures of our Gou vernment, for several years past, have been dissatisfactory to a great majority of the nation ; I may say to almost every man in the nation, who has not been concerned in advising or carrying them on. I believe there is not a Gentleman in this House, if he will freely declare his sentiments, who is not sensible, that one single person in Administration has not only been thought to be, but has actually been the chief, if not the sole adviser and promoter of all those measures. This is known without doors, as well as it is within ; and therefore the difcontents, the reproaches, and even the curses of the people, are all directed against that single person. They complain of our present measures; they have suffered by past measures; they expect no redress; they expect no alteration, or amendment, whilst he has a share in advising or directing our future. These, Sir, are the sentiments of the People with re-, gard to that Minister: These sentiments we are in honor and duty bound to represent to his Majesty, and the proper method

for

« AnteriorContinuar »