This he admitted; and if the noble lord had openly come forward, and stated the necessity of it, he should have felt pleasure in concurring in the grant. But in saying this, he hoped he should not be thought to patronize the system of subsidizing. The state of things in Russia arose from her having engaged in this virtuous struggle unbought by us. The situation to which she would have been reduced by an alliance with France, was before her eyes, and without communication with this country, or, if with communication, he was convinced, without assurance of support, she nobly took her part. For these reasons he should support the vote; and he was anxious that it might be seen by the distressed manufacturers, that it was not from any insensibility to their sufferings, that the vote of one member, at least, was determined, but by a sincere conviction that their interests would have been more injured than served by refusing this grant.

of this country, he felt as much as any man; and if the question were simply, to take a sum from the sufferers of England to give to those of Russia, he should give it his nega tive. The distresses in England, it might be proper to remark, though brought on partly by causes beyond the controul of government, had been in part caused by circumstances which it would have been in their power to prevent. If speedy and conciliatory measures had been adopted with regard to America, a very large por tion of this distress would not have existed. At the beginning of the session, the noble lord opposite (Castlereagh) had said, that the most effectual way of assisting Russia, -the way in which that country wished to be assisted,-was, by efforts in Spain: that noble lord had also said, that efforts as great as the power of the country would admit of had been made; that the manner in which that campaign had ended, was not to be attributed to failure on the part of ministers, but to the limited resources of the country; that the country, in fact, was unable to do any thing more; but now came this proposition, to send 200,000l. not to assist Spain, but Russia, while this last power wished it to be applied to Spain. He appealed to every gentleman present whether his statement of what had been said was not accurate. He should be glad to know whether all means had been taken by the government to render the country able to support this additional expence? The Bill which had been brought forward by an hon. gentleman during the lass session, the Sinecure Bill, would, had it passed, have afforded enough for this grant. It might be said that the Bill had passed that House; but though it might not be proper to allude to what had passed elsewhere, he could not help remarking, that if ministers were as earnest in their wishes for the abolition of useless places, as other members in that House, the event would have been different; or thus much of the session would not have passed, without a message on that subject from the crown. If, however, the House were to negative this grant, more harm would be done to the sufferers of this country, than could be retrieved by the possession of the 200,000l. Russia had been brought to the state in which she was, by refusing to submit to the continental system; and if the result of the struggle were to enable her to keep open the markets of that vast empire to our manufactures, she would soon repay the sum we might now advance.

Mr. Bathurst said, that the right hon. gentleman had not been happy in the selection of his topics, which were not reasons against the grant, but insinuations against the motives of those who had introduced it. The word "speedy" applied, not to the absolute length of time, but to the nature of the case. If, on communication with our ambassador at Petersburgh, relief in specie should be judged expedient, there could be no difficulty in making it immediate. The word " effectual" had been applied, not to the relief afforded by this government alone, but in conjunction with that of Russia. To what pitch the munificence of Russia might extend he did not know, but he hoped, that in conjunction with the aid afforded by us, it would be effectual to the great object intended. The next objection was, that it would go, not to the sufferers, but to the Russian treasury, and under this persuasion, the right hon. gentleman had thought the Message properly designated by cant or hypocritical, which terms (had that conception been correct), would not have been misapplied. But did that right hon. gentleman think, that the paltry sum of 200,000l. could be thought of as an aid to Russia in such a war as she was engaged in? The next objection regarded Spain, and ministers had been accused of contradiction in withdrawing this sum from Spain, and applying it to Russia. This had received a negative from his side of the House, not on account of any incor


rectness in the right hon. gentleman's statement of what had been said, but because that had been spoken of as to be applied in aid of the government, which was intended for the relief of the people. The right hon. gentleman had justly stated, that more good would be done to our manufacturers by granting this sum to conciliate Russia, than by doling it out among them; but with this had been mixed up the consideration of our policy as to America. Without attempting to enter on this question at present, it was not so clear as that right hon. gentleman seemed to imply, that hostilities had arisen entirely from the misconduct of government, and not at all from the spirit of the Americans. He was astonished to hear the right hon. gentleman speak as he had done of the Sinecure Offices' Bill. It was true, that by a total disregard of vested interests, a fund might be produced; but as to the Bill, it had been acknowledged last session by the hon. gentleman who proposed it, that though it would be grateful to public feeling, yet in a pecuniary sense it would be nugatory.

Mr. Ponsonby, in explanation, said, that as it was the duty of the Russian government to protect its own subjects, this could operate in no other way than as a subsidy to that government. As to the Sinecure Bill, he did not mean that the whole sum of 200,000l. would be found in the Treasury, but that by that measure a saving would be effected equal to the interest of that sum, which must be funded; and of which the interest must now be paid by the people.

Mr. Whitbread was sorry to say, that the grant would not pass unanimously. On the Message being first read it had struck him that the grant was not proper; and on discussion with friends whom he respected, and who entertained sentiments on the subject different from his own, he had not found reason to change his opinion. Some of the grounds of his dissent from the grant had been stated by his ght hon. friend. He did not, moreover, think it just to this country to take money out of the pockets of our starving manufacturers, to apply it to sufferers to whom, unhappily, it could be of no use. Those unfortunate beings who, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated, had sought shelter from the severity of a Russian winter in their forests, were now, alas! as senseless as the snow with which they were surrounded: and how, if they continued to exist, could the

small sum which they were that night called on to vote, afford them relief? Though the contest in Russia might have a tendency to increase our own security, yet to imagine that this 200,000l. could be a bond of unity between that nation and ourselves, would be to contradict the testimony of experience. It had been the interest of Russia to enter into amity with us; she had acted in pursuance of that interest, and in accordance with that interest she would act hereafter. It had been said, that committees of nobles had been formed that the emperor had exerted himself to afford relief, by rebuilding habitations, and by alleviating the poignant misery of the sufferers. It did, indeed, behove the Russian government to do away with all the pomp of state-to apply all the resources of the empire to this object: it was more particularly the duty of that government to do so, from the commission of an act, singular in modern history-the conflagration of Moscow. This grant could be considered as no other than a subsidy in aid of the war in Russia; for by discharging the Russian government of the duty of applying a sum equal to this to its suffering subjects, it left an equal sum applicable to the purpose of driving the French from the empire, or to that of crushing their power. It was a subsidy then-a paltry and contemptible subsidy as to the purpose of the war. From the resistance of Russia, if wisely taken advantage of, the greatest blessings might ensue. This, however, was as yet uncertain. In the mean time, there were in some parts of this country cases of as crying distress, as, out of the reach of war, could possibly be. Suppose a grant proposed to these sufferers; would it not be said to be improper to attempt to alleviate private distress? But would it not be an act of justice to our own country, before we went abroad with our charity, to know whether we had not objects at home, to whom it might be extended with advantage?

Lord Castlereaghdisclaimed the idea that, in consequence of this grant, we should be called upon to supply the wants of every country that might be reduced to a state of distress by the aggression of France. A principle so broad would lead to consequences, which, in the present couvulsed state of Europe, it would be impossible for this country to meet. But the question was, whether the sufferings of the people of Russia were not brought home to our feelings, both by the heroic exer

tions they had made, and by the important effect which those exertions were likely to have on our own interests, in such a manner as to call for every relief and assistance in our power? The efforts of Russia had been as gigantic as her sufferings had been without parallel; and it was not to be expected that equal sacrifices would again be made to call upon the House for their interposition. An hon. member had treated the proposal to afford relief to the Russian people as chimerical, and even liable to the suspicion of hypocrisy. He should have thought this character much more applicable to the measure, if it had been brought forward in the shape (which that hon. gentleman recommended) of a subsidy to the emperor Alexander. Nothing could be more contemptible or insulting, than a grant to such an extent to a power struggling with the difficulties which Russia had to encounter, and on the immense scale on which her military operations were carried on. But though its effect might not be so immediate or decisive as could be wished, in alleviating individual distress, yet he hoped it would come seasonably in aid of the patriotic contributions now raising by the Russian government and nobles, to enable the peasantry and lower classes to resume their occupations, and re-build their habitations, on the return of the mild season. By this grant we should shew that we understood the nature of the struggle in which we were engaged, and were not insensible to the noble sacrifices which a whole people had made, not only of temporary interests, of local attachments, of ancient prejudices, but almost of existence, to the cause of country and of king. We could not act wrong in subsidizing the best feelings of human nature. In this view, no act of government had ever been more beneficial than the relief which we had afforded to Portugal. Should our troops be driven back again to the lines of Torres Vedras, the attention and sympathy we then manifested for the sufferings of the Portuguese, had left traces in the hearts of the people, which would make lord Wellington's defence light and easy.-His lordship concluded by alluding to the flattering prospects of peace which might probably be anticipated from the Russian successes; of a peace founded on national honour, on national security, and on the public law of Europe; a peace, by means of which every man might sit down in safety, and repose under

the shadow of the laws and constitution. He regretted the disapprobation of the motion expressed by the hon. member who spoke last, but bore testimony to the manliness and sincerity with which that hon. gentleman, on all occasions, declared his opinions in that House.

Sir F. Burdett said, he had heard many parts of the noble lord's speech with pleasure, but there was no part of it which he had heard with so much pleasure, as the word peace,' a word which he had not for a very long time heard from the other side of the House. If he thought the present grant would really tend to facilitate that most desirable object, a secure and honourable peace, there was no man who would more readily and cordially agree to it than he would. He sincerely hoped that all the sacrifices and exertions which had been made, and of which so much had been said, would not end in a delusive sound, and that we should not be embroiled in fresh wars on fresh successes. But it had been, in his opinion, justly stated, that the proposed grant would not give effectual relief to the Russians; and, knowing the distresses of our own countrymen to be great, and feeling them as he did, he could not assent to taking the money out of the pockets of the poor of this country, to waste it in nominal relief to others. No attempt had been made by parliament to retrench wasteful and superfluous excess in many of the departments of government; no hint had been thrown out, no intention had been expressed, tending that way. While this was the case, he thought it his duty to resist every application to parliament for any extraor dinary supplies, in the present exhausted state of the country. It was not possible to take up a paper; not a day passed, without accounts of distraining for the taxes in different places. He did not understand the principle of that generosity, which sympathised only with the distresses of other. countries, but had no feelings for those of our own. Last year the sufferings of the manufacturers in the northern and midland counties had been laid before parlia ment with a view to some pecuniary relief being afforded. Those sufferings were of a nature to make every feeling heart bleed. But the answer to the application was, that no relief could be be given, consistently with the pressure of the times, and with public economy. We paid dear for the prevalence of this sort of foreign sympathy; we had to maintain French

loyalists, Dutch loyalists, American loyal. ists; but when he had come to the House with a proposal of some better provision for the worn-out servants of the public, veteran officers who were pining in poverty and obscurity, or the disabled cripple, whom we daily saw begging about our streets, he had received the same cold answer. that the necessary expences of the government were so great as to admit of no addition.

PETITION FROM THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF EDINBURGH, RESPECTING THE EAST INDIA COMPANY'S AFFAIRS.] A Petition of the chamber of commerce and manufactures of the city of Edinburgh, was presented and read; setting forth,

Mr. Wilberforce said, that those gentlemen who opposed the grant found it hard to reconcile their conduct to themselves. They could only do it by inventing some other object of humanity which appeared to claim the preference, or by denying that the measure before the House would operate effectually to the relief of the sufferers. He thought, that ineluding the cheapness of provisions and the mode of living in Russia, the sum, moderate as it was, would be of considerable immediate service; but he conceived the principal benefit to be expected from it, was, that in other cases of a similar kind, it would be setting an example, and opening a channel, into which the charitable and liberal feelings of others would naturally flow. An hon. gentleman had spoken lightly of the grant, as not likely to cement the two countries together. But he conceived that nothing had a greater influence in strengthening political alliances than the manifestation of a friendly and generous disposition between the people. He did not see why nations as well as individuals might not be both generous and just. He had attempted to make some calculation of the share of the ex-straints as tend to deter many people, espence which would fall upon the poor of pecially those who are at present unacthis country, but he had found it impos- quainted with India, and who reside at sible, and had given up the task in de- home, from engaging in it, while fospair. He thought that we could only reigners, who pay no part of the heavy testify our gratitude to Providence for our taxes imposed on the subjects of Great exemption from the heavier calamities of Britain and Ireland, are entirely relieved war, by shewing our sense of the suffer- from the restraint of these regulations, by ings to which the inhabitants of other which means they are enabled not only countries, united with us in the same canse, successfully to combat the exertions of were unfortunately exposed. the private traders from this country to India under the regulations of 1793, but also to compete with the East India Company itself, both in the east, and on the continent of Europe; and that, were the trade to the countries lying between the Cape of Good Hope and the Straits of Magellan laid open to the industry, exertion, and enterprize of the subjects of Great Britain and Ireland at large, it would afford employment to many thou

"That it hath been represented to the petitioners, in their corporate capacity, that in the present limited state of the commerce and manufactures of this country, owing to the continental restric tions laid thereon of late, the trading and manufacturing interests of Great Britain and Ireland have suffered greatly; and that many thousands of workmen employed in our manufactures are reduced to a state of poverty and idleness, without there being any immediate prospect of their being soon restored to their former situation; and that, by the act of 33 Geo. 3, c. 52, the East India Company are vested in the exclusive right of trade and navigation to all those countries comprehended between the Cape of Good Hope and the Straits of Magellan, containing a population of many millions of inhabitants; and that, although all the rest of his Majesty's subjects are thus excluded from trading to any of those extensive territories, yet, by the act of 37 Geo. 3, c. 57, the same is allowed to the subjects of all foreign nations in amity with his Majesty; and that the East India Company are not known to have hitherto traded to many of these extensive countries, their own settlements and China excepted; and that the private trade to the settlements of the East India Company, under the regulations of the year 1793, is laid under so many re

Lord Cochrane gave his support to the motion, as the sum to be voted was not greater than every ten days expence of the war in the peninsula.

The motion was then carried without a division.

Monday, December 21.

men employed by the petitioners would be in the highest degree distressing, as they would be found incapable of adapting their habits to new modes of business, and consequently both themselves and their fa

sands of workmen employed in the manufactures of this kingdom, who are at present reduced to a state of idleness and consequent poverty; it would create an additional nursery for seamen, a set of men who have, especially of late years, emi-milies would be deprived of the means of nently contributed to sustain the conse- subsistence; and praying the House to quence, perhaps even the political ex- take the circumstances into consideration, istence of this kingdom, and would, at the and prevent the dreadful consequences same time, prove the means of adding to that must otherwise ensue." the riches, the revenue, and the national Ordered to lie upon the table. prosperity of the British empire; and praying the House to take the premises into consideration, and to grant such relief as to the House may seem necessary, in a matter of such great national concern; also to allow the petitioners to be heard, by themselves or their counsel, at the Bar of the House, in support of the objects of this Petition."

PETITION OF JAMES PHILIP INGLIS.] Sir F. Burdett presented a Petition from James Philip Inglis; setting forth,

"That the petitioner was appointed, on the 31st March 1812, to the command of the government colonial brig Emine, and ordered to proceed to New South Wales; and that the petitioner had used every exertion for the equipment of his vessel, and was on the point of sailing to his place of destination, when, on Thursday the 23d of July last, about six in the evening, a press galley belonging to the receiving

PETITION FROM THE LONDON WOOLLEN PRESSERS, RESPECTING THE EAST INDIA COMPANY'S AFFAIRS.] A Petition of several pressers of London, employed by the East India Company, was also pre-ship off the Tower came alongside the sented and read; setting forth, Emine, commanded by Mr. Peachy, with four of his ship's company, to whom he had given permission to go on shore, but the midshipman not being in naval uniform, the petitioner did not suppose him to be a naval officer, although every respect was shewn him; Mr. Peachy demanded a sight of the ship's protection, which was instantly complied with, and, after looking it over, returned it in a most disrespectful manner to the petitioner, and said it was good for nothing, although it was an official document from the lords of the Admiralty protecting the crew of the said vessel; that the petitioner desired the men to go quietly in the galley, and that he would make immediate application for their release; that the petitioner immediately quitted the deck, supposing the men to have proceeded to the Tower, but was informed, whilst below, that part of the ship's company had gone into the jollyboat, shoved off to rescue their shipmates, and returned with them on board; and that the petitioner begs to state to the House, that on the next day, Mr. Gatty, from the Thames Police Office, came on board with a warrant from Mr. Herriot for his apprehension; he immediately submitted himself, and underwent an examination before Mr. Herriot the same day, who ordered the petitioner to be committed to Clerkenwell Prison; he was then locked up in a place at the Thames (2)

"That the affairs of the East India Company are intended shortly to be brought before parliament, as signified by his royal highness the Prince Regent in his Speech from the throne; and the petitioners humbly presume to state to the House, that they, in common with a great number of other tradesmen employed by them, residing in and near the city of London, derive their support from the woollen trade which is there carried on by the East India Company; and that it is by the most strict attention to the various regulations which have been at different times made, and by the petitioners punctually attended to, that the East India Company's exports have secured the confidence with which they are received by the consumers in India; and that the petitioners being appointed pressers of woollen goods to the East India Company, have, in consequence, expended large sums of money in forming establishments suitable to those regulations in the different departments of the woollen trade which they respectively exercise, all which, in the event of the East India Company's trade being thrown open, would be the ruin of the petitioners, who would have no other means of employing their expensive implements, which would be rendered useless, and to them of no value; and that the situation of the work(VOL. XXIV.)

« ForrigeFortsett »