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They not only decreed that privilege should prevent all civil suits from proceeding during the sitting of parlia ment, but likewise granted protection to the very servants of members. I shall say nothing on the wisdom of our ancestors; it might perhaps appear invidious, and is not necessary in the present case.
I shall only say, that the noble lords that flatter themselves with the weight of that reflection, should remember, that as circumstances alter, things themselves should alter. Formerly it was not so fashionable either for masters or servants to run in debt, as it is at present; nor formerly were merchants and manufacturers members of parliament, as at present. The case now is very different, both merchants and manufacturers are, with great propriety, elected members of the lower house. Commerce having thus got into the legislative body of the kingdom, privileges must be done away.
We all know that the very soul and essence of trade are regular payments; and sad experience teaches us, that there are men, who will not make their regular payments without the compressive power of the laws. The law, then, ought to be equally open to all; any exemption to particular men, or particular ranks of men, is, in a free and commercial country, a solecism of the grossest
But I will not trouble your lordships with arguments for that which is sufficiently evident without any. I shall only say a few words to some noble lords, who foresee much inconveniency from the person of their servants being liable to be arrested. One noble lord observes, that the coachman of a peer may be arrested while he is driving his master to the house, and consequently, he will not be able to attend his duty in parliament. If this was actually to happen, there are so many methods by which the member might still get to the house, I can hardly think the noble lord is serious in his objection, Another noble peer said, that by this bill they might lose their most valuable and honest servants, This I
He was one of the most strenuous opposers of lord North's administration. Junius says, "I would borrow a simile from Burke, or a sarcasm from Barre." There is a vein of shrewd irony, a lively, familiar, conversational pleasantry running through all his speeches. Garrit aniles ex re fabellas. His eloquence is certainly the most naïve, the most unpremeditated, the most gay and heedless, that can be imagined. He was really and naturally what Courteney (afterwards) only pretended to be.
On the Motion for an Address.
He argued against the motion, and said, let us fairly examine the conduct of ministers.-About the latter end of May, or the beginning of June, they were acquainted with the fate of Falkland Island. At that time they learned that the governor of Buenos
*I am sorry that I can give no account of this celebrated character. Indeed, I have to apologize to the reader for the frequent defects and chasms in the biographical part of the work. I have looked carefully into the dictionaries, but unless a man happens to have been a non-conformist divine in the last century, a chymist, or the maker of a new spelling and pronouncing dictionary, his name is hardly sure of obtaining a place in these learned compilations. The writers seem, by a natural sympathy, more anxious to bring obscure merit into notice, than to gratify the idle curiosity of the public respecting characters on which a dazzling splendor has been shed, by the accidental circumstances of situation, by superficial accomplishments, and shewy talents. In giving the history of illustrious statesmen or politicians, they are very uncertain helps; but if any one had to make out a list of antiquarians, school-masters, or conjurors, he would find them complete for his purpose. The Barres, the Grenvilles, and the Townshends, are forgotten; while the Dyches, the Fennings, the Lillys, and the Laxtons, vie with the heroes and sages of antiquity, in these motley lists of fame, which like death, level all ranks, and confound all distinctions.
Ayres had sent a frigate or two, to warn our troops to quit the island: that our commanding officer had threatened to fire upon them if they would not depart; that the Spaniards, in consequence, declared their resolution of employing force; and that there was no doubt they would put their threat into execution. Where their pride is concerned, the Spaniards are tenacious of their words; and it could not be supposed that the governor of Buenos Ayres would, in this case, belie the character of his nation. But who is the governor of Buenos Ayres, this mighty potentate, against whom the king of Great Britain is going to draw his sword? I will tell the house. When at Gibraltar in an inferior situation, I confess, I happened in an excursion to meet this governor, this Don Francisco de Buccarelli, whom our ministers consider as so great and formidable. For a Spaniard, he was not a bad companion; but I do not believe he had at that time the most distant hope of ever entering into a competition with the king of Great Britain. But our ministers were made for rendering absurdity fashionable. As they have for these two years degraded their royal master by a quarrel with a wretched libeller, so now they commit his dignity in a contest with a little Spanish officer. The terrible foes that rouse his vengeance are John Wilkes, and my old friend Buccarelli. How much more honourable would it have been to have at once considered the king of Spain as the aggressor, as the delinquent! It is evident, from the coolness and deliberation with which Buccarelli acted, that he had acted under the authority, and by the express command of the king of Spain. If he had not, he would have, ere now, forfeited his head. Why, then, did not our ministers, upon the first intelligence, deem this act of hostility the most explicit and effectual declaration of war? Why did they not immediately arm the nation, and prepare for striking as decisive a blow as that which secured us the superiority last war? This step would have brought into our ports their ships and sailors, and effec
tually ruined their marine. Of this truth no person of common sense can entertain the least doubt. Instead of adopting this vigorous measure, they let the affair sleep for three or four months, as if time had no wings. And, when at last waked out of their lethargy, what have they done? What harbours have they improved? What forts have they repaired? What cities have they fortified? Have they strengthened the lines at Quebec? Have they secured that spot, which, if taken by the enemy, will ruin our fishery, if it is not already ruined by their indolence, timidity, or ignorance? Have you taken any measures for defending those sugar islands, which, from their situation, are exposed to the insults of the enemy? What precaution have you taken for the safety of Minorca? I know, that when the troops from Ireland arrive, the garrison will consist of nine battalions. But whoever told you this number would be sufficient, knows nothing of the service. I am confident, that every officer of judgment and experience will coincide with me in opinion. You see, then, where you are vulnerable. More instances might be pointed out, but that were impiety. I should hold myself inexcusable, for what I have already said, were I not sensible that our enemies know them as well as we do. Such, then, is the situation of this country, to which our minister, in the course of the last sessions, promised a ten years peace. I stood up in my place, and ventured to call this prophecy in question; I gave my reasons; but they were called the suggestions of faction. The minister trusting to his own sagacity and foresight, paid no regard to the forebodings of the gallant admiral who now sits at the head of the marine department. That illustrious seaman, than whom I know not a better officer, nor a more excellent citizen, declared, that whoever occupied next year the place then held by him, would be forced to call for an augmentation of six thousand sailors. These words shew that I was not singular in my opinion, and that other respectable persons felt the approach of a war. I know not what the opinion
of the minister may be, but I still continue the same. I smell war; a calamity which might have been easily prevented, had our negociators acted with spirit and re solution in the affair of Corsica. I happened then to be at Paris; and can with the greatest truth affirm, that the French would have deemed your interposition the part of a friend. Tired and exhausted with such an effusion of blood and treasure, they would have thanked you for any honourable pretence to withdraw from that scene of so many disasters. But you acted then like poltrons, and poltrons always bring upon themselves a succession of insults. And now, that like bullies, you hector, and bluster, and run swaggering about, what will you do? Where is there a man among you who can make the proper arrangements for war? Whom will you appoint commander in chief? He, alas! who could fill that office with dignity and ability, is no more; and no friend of Britain will refuse his memory a tear; for when shall we see his like again! Regardless of money, and studious only of true glory, he sought the applause and affection of his country, and he acquired it by his courage, which was of the most ardent and decisive kind, and covered him with laurel, so much the more honourable, that he did not employ the weight and authority thence derived to his own private emolument, but for the public good. Such virtue, rare at any time, was to be doubly prized in such an age as this. Such talents might have given life and vigour to our military councils. But snatched away when we most needed his heart and his hand, he is, alas! no more.* It is however some consolation under this distress, that we have such an able secretary at war. His superior talents will make us amen dsfor the loss of so great a character. That clearness for which his dispatches are so remarkable, is a sufficient earnest of his future atchievements. In the last war, some of his letters to the governor of Gibraltar were, if I remember right, unintelligible; some were
He here alludes, I suppose, to Wolfe.