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that the liberties and interests of this nation must suffer, if your lordships should approve of this measure, My lords, I have formerly known the people spirited up by artful, or hot-headed men against the government, and I have known them commit very great excesses; but, my lords, I always observed, that these excesses were committed by the very dregs of the people, who neither knew what they were about, nor what they wanted. I observe a quite different spirit at this time. The spirit of opposition that now prevails, my lords, is among your cool-headed men, men of weight and interest in their several stations, who pay largely towards the support of the government, and therefore think it a hardship to suffer by any public measure. My lords, though I had no manner of knowledge of the nature of this convention, though I were quite ignorant of all the transactions that preceded it, yet this very circumstance would determine me to suspect, if not oppose it. When I see men of figure in their way, crying out against it, when I see the greatest city in the kingdom petition against it, what should make them such zealous opposers, but their being persuaded that a peace, on the foot of this convention, must be more destructive to their interests, than a vigo. rous war? Their interests, my lords, lead them to desire peace; they must be considerable sufferers in a war, by their ships being taken, the increase of the taxes, and the stagnation of their trade : but still, my lords, we see, that they look upon all these evils as more tolerable, than such a peace as this convention must give them.
It is certain, my lords, that the peace we have lately enjoyed is not very desirable ; we have paid dearly for it'; nay, I believe it has cost the nation more to make peace, than it would have done to have made war. But, says a noble lord, the Spaniards are very slow; give me leave to add, my lords, they are very obstinate too. But why are we to pay for their slowness and obstinacy? Are we to fit out fleets, at a vast expence to the nation, only to quicken them to do what equity, what the law of nations, and what positive treaties require them to do? But, my
lords, the worst is, that we have not even obtained that; we have only brought them to negotiate, and to give us
treaty where not one of these considerations has been regarded. This, it seems, proceeds from their obstinacy ;-Why then have they not been made to pay for their obstinacy? Why should we pay for it? If they had a mind to be obstinate again, and to refuse to ful. fil even the terms of this poor treaty, are we to be again at the expense of 5 or 600,000l. only to bring them into good humour ?
My lords, when I first heard this treaty read, I thought it set out with a very bad air. The preamble begins, Whereas differences have arisen ;-it does not say justly or unjustly. But what differences, my lords? that word always implies a disagreement of opinion, betwixt two parties, with at least a shew of reason, and an appearance of equal provocation on each side. But, my lords, is that the case betwixt us and Spain ? Has she been able to justify her depredations, either by the law of nations, or tenor of treaties? No; the noble lord, and the reverend prelate who spoke so fully in her vindication, have not, I think, given us an instance of a legal capture of one ship, among all the numerous instances complained of, even admitting that they have a right to search in the manner the reverend prelate has pleaded for. I must therefore confess, I was very much surprised to hear a noble lord explain the preamble to this treaty, in the manner he did, as a proof of the willingness of the court of Spain to adjust all differences betwixt us and them, on an equal footing. Had we taken as many ships from the Spaniards, as they have done from us, I should have had no objection to this preamble; but, as it stands, it puts the two nations upon an equality of losses, though one has been the constant aggrossor, the other the perpetual sufferer.
The other particulars of this convention have been already so fully spoken to, that I think it unnecessary Vol. I.
for me to add any thing more on those heads ; but, my lords, I cannot help taking notice of what happened just before the ratification of this convention, when we find the court of Spain prescribing to us, and our plenipotentiary obeying a Spanish minister, as he would have done a British one. The Spaniards, it seems, could not be brought to any terms till the sitting of parliament approached so near, that they were sure our ministry would give up every point of consequence, rather than not have a treaty of some kind or other to lay before parliament, when it met. My lords, delay in such an affair as this, is equal to a point-blank refusal. Yet, we find, by the letters now upon your lordships' table, that, after a plan of accommodation was drawn up by our ministers, and every thing looked upon as finished, the Spanish minister very rightly apprehended, that they who would grant so much, would grant more. Upon which, a new claiın is started, and they refuse to ratify what they before agreed to, till Mr. Keene had, as mi. nister of Great Britain, acknowledged a debt to be due, which in that capacity, he had no power to acknow. ledge ; and, in the capacity of agent for the South-sea company, he ought absolutely to have disclaimed. My lords, this way of proceeding proves plainly, that he has scandalously betrayed the interest of that company. He has sacrificed them to the injustice and exorbitancy of the court of Spain ; and put them upon the hard dilem- . ma either of paying a large sum on no pretence, or of being the bone of contention betwixt the two nations.
But, my lords, that company has no greater reason to complain of her agent, than the nation has of her mi. nisters. Compare the dates of the consul of Cadiz's letters, with the time of near a hundred Englishmen be. ing barbarously imprisoned and chained in that city, for 140 other reason but because they were Englishmen; and you will find, my lords, that these dates exactly agree. The inhumanity was taken notice of by all the world, except by that consul himself. He observes a profound
silence on this head, though his letters wrote at that time are very full and explicit upon other points. My lords, what can we think of this behaviour ? That a British consul should, with the greatest unconcern imaginable, see his countrymen daily labouring under confinement, chains, and insults? Does not this imply that the Spanish ministers and ours understood one another ? Does it not imply some under-hand dealing, some secret col. lusion, in order to avoid a war?
I confess, my lords, had I been a minister, I would not have given my advice to run precipitately into bloody measures ; but I would have endeavoured to have taken more prudent steps than what I am afraid have been followed. It is true, my lords, that a war, if it can be avoided with honour, especially with Spain, is not for the interest of this nation; and that cautious proceedings are the best means of establishing his majesty, and his royal family, on the throne of this kingdom. But, my lords, though I am for caution, I am not for pusillanimity. That inay bring the nation into contempt, and this nation never can be brought into contempt without weakening the royal authority. I know, that the fear of the pretender has a mighty influence with a great many, who talk upon this subject. But, my lords, I am of opinion, that our going on in the same measures as we have done for some time past, will be playing the pretender's game for him. I am sure his majesty has the hearts of the people, and can command their hands too: but a perseverance in these measures will divide us among ourselves; and, my lords, if we are divided, we must be weaker, and give the enemies of the present establishment a better chance of succeeding. For my own part, my lords, I believe nobody doubts of my zeal for the continuance of the crown upon his majesty's head, and his family ; I have formerly strenuously asserted the rights of this family; and as I have done it on more than one occasion, it is the more unquestionable. But, my lords, it is not my duty alone that begets this attach:
ment; my inclination is as strong as my duty. The knowledge I have of his majesty's personal virtues, makes it the happiness and glory of every subject to serve him. I know, that he is as strongly attached to the interests of his subjects, as any prince who ever sat upon the throne. But, my lords, the best, the wisest, and most discerning princes, must see many of their most import. ant affairs in the light their ministers represent them; if the ministers misrepresent them, they, my lords, and not the prince, are to blame. Had not his present na. jesty been misled in this particular, sure I am, that he would have vigorously asserted the rights and privileges of his people, as the greatest of his predecessors ever did. He, my lords, would have imitated the example of that great prince, king Edward III. to whom he may, in many other respects, be so justly compared. And now I have mentioned that great prince, I beg leave to suggest to your lordships, in what manner he would have behaved. The difficulties he had to struggle with from a weak administration in his minority, were very great. The kingdom, my lords, was then governed by a faction composed of a few favourites about the person of the queen-mother; who chose to buy a scandalous peace of the North Britons, a people, my lords, that ne. ver abounded over-much in riches, and who were very glad to finger a little of the ready money of this nation. What did the king do, my lords? Young as he was, he had the minion, the minister, who advised that scanda. lous peace,
seized; he had him tried, and hanged. Let us consult history further, my lords ; let us consider the behaviour of king Edward IV. in an instance of a similar nature. Did he bear with the injuries France offered to the nation ? No, he had recourse to arms; and as his cause was just, his soldiers were victorious. The reign of queen Elizabeth, the most glorious perhaps in all the British annals, was always successful, because it was conducted by a wise and prudent administration. She neither governed by affection, nor by a minister;