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Domestie Affairs. Meeting of Parliament. Prince Regent's Speech on Open
ing the Session. State of the King's Health. King's Household Establishment." Debates in Parliament on some points connected with the Civil List. Droits of Admiralty. Leeward Island Duties. Provision to the Princesses.
The session of parliament was opened brilliant enterprise of General Hill in by commission on the 7th of January; Spanish-Estremadura, were mentioned and a speech was pronounced, which, with high satisfaction. The consumas is usual on such occasions, alluded mate talents of Lord Wellington-the briefly to the state of public affairs, persevering bravery of the Spaniardsand to the leading features of the po- the extension of the Guerilla system of licy of administration. His royal high. warfare, and the hopes of ultimate sucness the Prince Regent lamented the cess which so many favourable circumcontinued indisposition of his majesty; stances inspired, were expatiated upon, and had ordered copies of the last re- as affording strong inducements to con. ports of the queen's council, respect- tinue the aid which Great Britain had ing the king's health, to be laid be, hitherto afforded to the brave and opfore parliament. Suitable provisions pressed nations of the peninsula. The were recommended for the support of great abilities of Lord Minto, the gothe royal dignity, for the care of the vernor-general of India, in planning royal person, and for affording all due the expeditions against the isles of facility to the resumption of the royal France and Bourbon-the talents and authority, in the event of the king's bravery of Sir Samuel Auchmuty and restoration to health. The successful the officers and troops under his comdefence of the kingdom of Portugal - mand, by whom the views of the gothe bravery and discipline of the Bri- vernor-general were so well seconded tish and Portuguese troops and the and the entire destruction of the ene
VOL. V. PART I,
my's colonial power, were next allu. distresses they themselves had occaded to; and parliament was reminded sioned, still held the same flattering and of the propriety of turning its atten- fallacious language. He would protion towards the improvement of that test against a continuance of those meamighty empire which Great Britain sures which had brought such calamihad established in the East. With re- ties on the country ; calamities so real ference to the subsisting relations be. and so momentous, that they must soon twixt Great Britain and America, it press themselves with irresistible force was stated, that, although the affair of on their lordships' attention, whether the Chesapeake had been finally ad- or not they were willing to give them justed, the other discussions had not the consideration they deserved. Peoyet been brought to a close ; but an ple might choose to close their eyes, assurance was given, that no measure but the force of truth must dispel the of conciliation should be left untried, wilful blindness; they might choose to which might be found consistent with shut their ears, but the voice of a sufthe rights and dignity of the empire. fering nation must sooner or later be The finances of Ireland were repre, heard. The noble lord said he still resented as in a flourishing state ; and tained his objections to every part of the Prince Regent expressed his confi. the system he had so often condemndence, that, when the estimates for the ed; he still deprecated that wanton year should be laid before parliament, waste of money, and of all the public á liberal disposition would be shewn to resources, when it was more necessary sustain the country in the great con- than ever to husband them with the tést in which it was engaged. most provident care. He still objected
The address was moved in the House to those commercial measures, which of Lords by the Earl of Shaftesbury; were pompously announced as the most the debate which succeeded was by formidable weapon against the enemy, no means interesting, except for the and which had recoiled on our own zeal displayed by Lords Grenville and commerce and manufactures. He still Grey, to have their sweeping con- retained his objections to a system of demnation of the measures of govern. finance, which had forced a debased ment put upon record. These noble coin on the people, and had spread lords, although professing a sincere bankruptcy and ruin throughout the desire for unanimity on this occasion, land.” were anxious to warn the country Nor was Lord Grey less severe in against reposing any confidence in the his reproaches. “ He should feel unadministration.
happy,” he said, “ if he departed from Lord Grenville, “ considering the that house, without declaring that he critical circu.mstances of the times, and retained all the opinions he had before the present alarming state of the coun. held on subjects of great magnitude ; try, would have been happy if the ad. opinions confirmed by experience and dress proposed to the House had been the evidence of facts; opinions which 80 worded as to procure unanimity, on he should be ready to maintain and de. the present day, at least; yet, he did fend on future opportunities of discuss. not feel surprised that such had not ing them. Whether the noble Secre. been the case, when he reflected, that tary of State (Lord Liverpool) chose the framers of the speech were the very to allude to the affairs of America on men, who, by their obstinate blindness, which he had shewn much caution and had brought the country to the brink silence, and ventured to call our transof ruin, and whó, in the midst of the actions in that quarter a proof of the assertion, that the system of the go- firmly convinced that the system the vernment had contributed to the se. noble baron had so much condemned, curity, prosperity, and honour of the was the only one that had saved, or country; or whether he intended to could have saved, this country: to the refer to the system of our measures in continuance of that system only, Eu. the peninsula, he pledged himself that rope could look for deliverance, and he should be ready to meet him, and England for permanent safety ; in to contend, that whatever might be short, by the merits of that system his said to have been done, had not been lordship and his colleagues were de. done to the promotion of the safety termined to stand or fall.” The adand honour of the country; and that dress was carried without a division. the general system adopted had been, In the House of Commons the ordiin fact, the source of almost all our nary course of proceeding was deranpresent and impending calamities.”- ged by a singular interference on the Such were the terms in which the part of Sir Francis Burdett. It is cus. whole policy of government was ar- tomary that the Speaker, on his reraigned, not at a season when it was turn from the House of Lords, should still untried, and might, therefore, with read to the Commons the speech from some plausibility, have been represent. the throne : the address is then moved ed as matter of uncertain and danger- and seconded, when a general debate ous experiment, but in the beginning ensues. Such is the usual course; but of the year 1812, when the measures
Sir Francis Burdett thought proper of administration had already secured to anticipate the member who should so many practical advantages—when have moved the customary address, they had saved Portugal-kept alive and to make a long speech, and move the flame of patriotism in Spain, and a long address of his own, which, withopened up the fairest prospects for cut touching on any of the topics alEurope. *As the censure pronoun- luded to in the speech from the throne, ced by the leaders of opposition had exhibited a good summary of his own been vague and declamatory, the an- political eccentricities.-On this reswer made by the Earl of Liverpool markable occasion the honourable bawas of a general nature. “ The pre- ronet began, by paying a compliment sent,” his lordship was convinced, to his royal highness the Prince Re
was not a fit day to dwell on any gent, and by assuring the house that details ; but the noble baron (Gren- the prince was not of a temper to be ville) had entered a general protest pleased by flattery; but that he would against the whole of the system pur- consider those members as his best sued by the present ministers, and on friends who pointed out the real griethat ground, he was ready to meet himvances under which his people labourthe more willingly, as that system and ed. It was of the utmost importance those measures so condemned, had at so great a crisis, that the prince stood the test of experience. Many should be addressed in a spirit of canopportunities would undoubtedly oc- dour and truth; and no member of pareur of canvassing the merits of their liament could do his duty to his constidifferent opinions ; but, as the noble tuents, to his country, or to the Prince baron had been heard in support of his, Regent himself, if he failed to represent it would not be, perhaps, too much to his royal highness the general sentito presume, that the same indulgencements of the people. This solemn be. might be allowed to him. He was ginning seemed to promise something at once novel and important; but the were making regular and rapid strides . honourable baronet instantly descend- towards the subjugation of the penined to his ordinary strain of reproach sula ; that all these evils originated in and accusation. He admitted, indeed, the departure of this country from the that the exertions of the Spaniards wiser system of former days; that the against the common enemy, had been policy of England had anciently been distinguished by bravery and perse- directed to the preservation of liberty verance ;' and he confessed also, that throughout the world, but had of the British army had sustained its late been degraded by a feeble and ancient reputation. “ But where is base attempt to support the decrethe freedom,” said he,“ to which the pid tyrannies of the continent; and superior prowess of Englishmen has that the progress of France was upbeen ascribed in the better days of our on the whole more favourable to the history?" He maintained, that for liberty of nations, than the success the last eighteen years, the distresses of her rival. The honourable ba. of the country had been increasing; ronet proceeded to make an attack that he might even go farther back, upon the House of Commons, which and declare, that, since the commence- he described as consisting of “ the ment of the present reign-since the supposed representatives of the people beginning of the American war, every of England;" but the admonition of year had brought an increase of ca. the Speaker quickly brought him to lamity; and he concluded of course, a recollection of the decency which he " that there was something in our had outraged. He complained of the system radically wrong ;" that the restrictions which had been imposed effects of the American war were still upon the Prince Regent, by which dis. felt in the war in which Great Bri- trust was indicated of his royal hightain was engaged; that the present con. 'ness, and professed to look forward test was begun on the very principles with triumph to the expiration of these of that unhappy war ; that a detesta. restrictions, as the era when an enlar. tion of French liberty first produced the ged and liberal system of policy would rupture, and that, on the same princi- restore the ancient glory of the counples, the war was still continued ; that try. Various
government, no one could say what England was he said, had been approved of at differnow contending for ; that liberty had ent periods of society; but an oligar. no share in the contest ; since what. chy, and, in particular, "an oligarchy ever might be done by England for the of rotten burgh-mongers," has found rights of the sovereign of Spain (who no advocates out of England. The conhad resigned his whole pretensions in- sequences of this system, according to to the hands of Buonaparte) nothing his view of matters, was, that abroad had been done for the Spanish people; we had been uniformly unsuccessful ; that even if the cause of Spain had that the despotisms which we had enbeen honourably undertaken by the deavoured to support had fallen prosBritish government, it had now become trate before our enemy, and that at perfectly hopeless; that the victories home the country had been overwhelmwon by our arms were altogether bar- ed with the most signal calamities; ren;
that although there had been many that a system of taxation had been brilliant achievements, such as that un. created which ruined
opder General Hill, by which the French pressed all; that the lower orders had had suffered severely, still the invaders been reduced to a state of pauperism; that fiscal tyranny had now been car- When these gentlemen had finishried to its height, and that an Emp- ed, Lord Jocelyn rose to move the som and Dudley were to be found in usual address to the throne, in the every shire of the kingdom ; that the shape of an amendment to that which desperate resistance which such tyran. had been proposed by Sir F. Burny was calculated to create, had been dett. There was no disposition in the kept down by the terrors of a military house to support Sir Francis ; no force; depots, and barracks, and forti. member, with the exception of Lord fications, had been established in all Cochrane, had thought fit to countequarters; and mercenaries and foreign- nance him in his proceedings ; and ers, who had been unable to defend even Messrs Ponsonby and Whitbread, their own countries, had been brought the champions of the opposition, exover to protect the native land of cou- pressed their disapprobation of his conrage and patriotism.--All these things duct. Yet did Sir Francis divide the were uttered with becoming solemni- house upon the question, when there ty; but before concluding, the honour. appeared one solitary member to vote able baronet did not scruple to descend for the address proposed by him. The to a vein of humour. He became very amendment of Lord Jocelyn was then facetious about the appearance and put, and earried without a division. dress of British soldiers, and followed Although the regular opponents of up such jokes by the usual tirade, about ministers did not press an amendment “a flogged nation,” as he is pleased to in either house of parliament, they call England. He concluded, by des. spoke in terms which sufficiently procanting at some length upon the ty. ved that their opinions on public affairs ranny of the Attorney General, the had undergone no change in conse. abuse of ex officio informations, the quence of the events which had lately scandalous invasions of the liberty of occurred. They still protested against the press, and the severe punishments the whole system of policy, by which with which some libellers had been vie the affairs of the country had been consited by the courts of justice. He ducted; they repeated their declarathen moved an address, in which the tions about the necessity of husbanding above topics were recapitulated. This the national resources; and although address was seconded by Lord Coch. Portugal had been saved, and Spain rane, who made some general reflec- supported, they still persevered in tions on the impolicy of the war, the their former opinions as to continenimpossibility of defending Portugal so tal affairs. Scarcely one tribute of apsoon as the French should make them- plause for the exploits which had al. selves masters of Spain, the tyranny ready so much signalized the British of the Portuguese and Sicilian govern. arms, and not one word of hope as to ments which the English were abet. the future, was allowed to escape
their ting with so much zeal, and the im. lips. They rose at the opening of the proper direction of the naval means of session merely to intimate their entire Great Britain, by which, if employed, disapprobation of the measures of goaccording to Lord Cochrane's views, vernment, and their firm conviction, in enterprises against the coast of that by perseverance in the same sysFrance, the military force of the ene- tem, the ruin of the country would be my, stupendous as it had become, speedily accomplished. Such were the might have been wholly occupied in sentiments which they avowed at a his own defence.
time when England stood in a com