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resentment farther, because, if he carries it farther, he carries it beyond law. From this, my lords, it is plain, that whoever attempts to attack any man's character, by writing or publishing defamatory libels, is guilty of a trespass, and can plead no mitigation of his crime, either from the nature of our constitution, or the tenor of our laws. My lords, I am sensible this doctrine sounds odd, at a time of day when the people, under the notion of liberty, are quite intoxicated with a spirit of licentiousness. But, I know, I speak in an assembly where nothing is approved or condemned before it is thoroughly weighed ; and the longer, my lords, your lordships weigh what I have advanced, I am convinced, your lordships will think it more reasonable. The libel we are now upon is of the inore virulent quality, in that it was im. possible any of the subjects of the libel could give any just ground of provocation to the author. My lorils, i do not believe any of the noble lords attacked by this impudent libeller, so much as know him by sight, far less have had any manner of opportunity to injure him. This, my lords, is an aggravation of his offence ; such a behaviour can proceed from nothing but a wantonness of malice, and therefore, I think, deserves all the severity of your lordships' censure.
(Second Duke of Argyle,) Was born 1671, and entered young into the army. He served under
the duke of Marlborough : he also distinguished himself as a statesman, and was an active promoter of the union, for which he incurred great odium among his own countrymen. In 1712, he was appointed commander in chief in Scotland, and in 1715, he routed the earl of Mar's army at Dumblain, and forced the pretender to quit the kingdom. Notwithstanding his eminent services to the state, he was deprived of several high offices which he held, for his opposition to sir Robert Walpole. He died in 1743. There is a noble monuinent crected to his memory in Westminster Abbey. His speeches are characterized by a rough, plain, manly spirit of good sense, and a zealous attachment to the welfare of bis country
The Duke of Argyle's Speech on the Address.
My lords, As I neither speak from pamphlets nor papers, I cannot precisely tell your lordships how long I shall trouble you on this occasion.
It is an affair of as great importance, I will venture to say, as ever came before this house. I have, my lords, employed a great deal of time in endeavouring to form a right judgment of it. I have examined it without prejudice ; I have endeavoured to find something in it that may be justified; I have viewed
l; it, my lords, in all the best lights it was capable of; but still, my lords, the more I consider, the more I view it, the more disgraceful, the more deformed, does this con. vention appear.
I have known, my lords, I have read of measures of this kind, that were, indeed, generally disliked by the people, and were disadvantageous to the nation ; but still, my lords, the ministers who carried on and concluded such measures, had something to say in their justification. The weakness of the nation, the conveniency of trade, the strength of our neighbours, or some consideration of that kind, was always pleaded as an excuse. And sometimes, though a treaty was in the main disagreeable, or dishonourable to the nation, yet there were certain particular clauses, some advantages stipulated, which, if they did not balance, served at least to excuse the rest. But, my lords, this convention is not only disagreeable to every body without doors, but it does not contain one article that can be wrested to have so much as a favourable aspect for this nation. To what, my lords, can this be owing? Is it owing to the weakness of the nation ? Not at all: this nation is not weak; she has strength sufficient to crush that power that crushes her. If she is poor, my lords, the government fetis none of it; for our mi. nisters are as largely supplied with treasure as those ministers were, under whom this nation made the power that now insults us to tremble. Our troops, my lords,
are more numerous, better cloathed than those troops were, who (nce conquered this insolent neighbour, and filled her throne with a monarch of our own making. I see many lords here, who, I am sure, remember these glorious times, and if, my lords, at that time, any one had ventured to foretel that this nation would soon be reduced to the necessity of negotiating, for the space of eighteen or twenty years, to obtain such a treaty as this is, was there a man in the whole nation that would have believed him ?
Have our ministry, my lords, aught to plead in favour of this measure, because it is for the convenience of trade? My lords, every body who understands what trade is, knows, that if this convention is approved of by parlia. ment, our trade must be irretrievably ruined.
Can it be pleaded, my lords, that our enemies are so strong, that we ought in policy to yield a little to their humours ? No, our enemies are weak—they are strong only in our fears. We, my lords, are masters of that element whereon the cause must be decided ; and let all our enemies, either professed or secret, nay, let all the neutral powers in Europe unite their naval force, we have a fleet now at sea that is able to beat them all. But, my lords, do we behave as if we had any such superiority? Have we so much as asserted the honour of the British flag ? Have we not tamely given it up, given it up without the least reason, so far as appears to the world ? What the reasons of our ministers may be, my lords, for this pusillanimity, I am entirely ignorant: and as I am igno. rant, I am innocent : for, my lords, though I am a privy counsellor, I am as unacquainted with the secrets of the government as any private gentleman who hears me.
I remember, my lords, a very good saying of a noble lord, who once sat in this house, it was the late lord Pe. terborough. When he was asked by a friend, one day, his opinion of a certain measure; says, my lord, in some surprize, .This is the first time I ever heard of it.' • Impossible says the other, ) ---why you are a privy coun,
So I am, (replies his lordship,) and there is a cabinet counsellor coming up to us just now; if you ask the same question of him he'll perhaps hold his peace, and then you'll think he's in the secret : but if he opens once his mouth about it, you'll find he knows as little of it as I do.' My lords, it is not being in privy council, or in cabinet council; one must be in the minister's council to know the true motives of our late proceedings. For my own part, my lords, I can only guess at them, but I have disapproved of them these eighteen years ; I have disapproved of them in public, in private, and in all companies. Therefore, my lords, what I speak upon this occasion, I speak it as a citizen of the world, and not as a privy counsellor. I speak the language of an honest and unprejudiced heart, and what I can answer for to my king, my country, and my God.
So far, my lords, as I can judge from the tenour of our late behaviour, our dread of France has been the spring of all our weak and ruinous measures. To this dread, my lords, we have sacrificed the most distinguishing honours of this nation. This dread of France, my lords, has changed every maxim of right government among us. There is no measure for the advantage of this nation that has been set on foot for these many years, to which she has not given a negative; there is no measure so much to our detriment, into which she has not
Your lordships may remember, for it happened but a few years ago, that a French ship came into one of our harbours with all her sails up, and her pendants flying; and an English officer, who was but a lieutenant of one of our men of war, fired at her to make her salute his majesty's ship. Your lordships, I am sure, have not forgot what was the consequence: the lieutenant, for barely doing his duty, and which if he had not done he must have been broke, was discharged the service. It is true, my lords, he was afterwards preferred, but not before we, in order to gratify that haughty court, had submitted to the infamy of breaking him, VOL. I.
Here, my lords, was an instance wherein Great Britain gave up the point of which she always has been, and always ought to be the most jealous—I mean the honour of her fag: and not only so, my lords, but punished a brave officer for doing his duty in our own harbour. He, iny lords, had no discretionary power, he acted in absence of his captain, he acted by sea-rules; and yet these rules were broken through in order to pacify that court. Why, my lords, should our ministers shew so much complaisance to other nations, and bear so little affection to our own?
But, my lords, it is not punctilio and form only, that we give up to France ; I am afraid we sacrifice more substantial points to please her. I am afraid, my lords, the convention is a French measure. For I can never be persuaded that our fear of aught that can possibly happen to us from Spain, could induce us to agree to this thing, you call a convention. It is the interest of France, that our navigation and commerce should be ruined; we are the only people in the world, whom they have reason to be apprehensive of in America ; and every advantage that Spain gains in point of commerce, is gained for her. Therefore, my lords, we are not at all to be surprized, if she takes great pains to bring about a measure of this kind. But, my lords, they looked upon their work as but half done, when this measure was concluded; it must be ratified too, in order to put the parliament under greater difficulties in censuring it. Accordingly, because it seems the slowness of the Spaniards could not be brought to sign it time enough to get it ratified before the meeting of parliament, the session was put off for fourteen days. This brings his majesty's name and authority into question ; for they thought that a great inany might be dissatisfied with a bad treaty concluded by the minister, who would put up with it, if confirmed by the king. But, my lords, the treaty was of the mi- nister's making; and if ministers make bad treaties, they should answer for them. Our law has most excellently