Imágenes de página

gentleman would surely not have felt so much surprised at the distinction he had made between magistrates paid for their services, the tools of government, and the respectable country gentlemen, if he had not forgotten the jealousy with which the House bad received the proposition for their establisbment.

Mr. Sturges Bourne wished to know, whether the right honourable gentleman's measure was to controul the power of magistrates with regard to the grant of original licences, or merely with respect to witlıdrawing them.

Mr. Sheridan did not mean to interfere with the power of magistrates as to the original licences, but purely to prevent the property and prospects of individuals from being at the mercy of magistra'es, who mighi be influenced by misrepresentation or political bias to destroy both by withdrawing their licences.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer still contended, that tliere was no ground for the distinction made by the right and honourable gentleman. The magistrates of police were undoubtedly in some mea-ure paid for their services, and so were the judges, yet no man would say that the administration of justice in our courts of law, was therefore to be matter of suspicion. He did not think, therefore, that there was any ground for the invidious, the odious distinc. tion made by holding up the police magistrates as paid for their services, and the tools of government,

The Marquis of Titchfield thought it his duty to state, that since he had the honour of being lord lieutenant of the county of Surrey, some complaints had been made to him of the nature of those cases stated by his right honourable friend. He had not the power of redress, but referred the matter back to the magistrates. In one case it appeared that the licence had been withdrawn from misrepresen. tation, and was afterwards restored. lle believed, however, that the police njegistrates interfered very little on the subject of licences.

Mr. Ashley Cooper, as a magistrate of Surrey, wished to know whether the bill was :o cxtend in the whole of that cou ty, and if so, why?

Mr. Sheridan replied, that the honourable gentlemas ought rather to shew why the bill should not extend to the whole of the courty. Leave si as then given to bring in the bill.

Lord Castlenilitia transfer balli of the noble

Lord Castlereagh moved the further consideration of the report on the militia transfer bill.

Lord H. Petty wished to know of the noble lord, if it was his intention to move for a bill, or take any other steps for the purpose of amending the training act?

Lior Castlereagh replied, that there had been a clause introduced into the bill now before the House, which might tend to modify its objections, but he had not then any intention of submitting to the House any other amendment.

Mr. Whitbread expressed his surprise that the noble lord would in the present crisis, abandon the country to a measure of which he thought so badly, and indeed so ludicrously, that the noble lord had endeavoured to be merry upon the subject.

'Lord Castlereagh said that it was impossible, in simply answering a question put to him, to enter into a full explanation of every thing relative to that question. He should take an opportunity of going at large into it, but at present it was not for him to do so.

Mr. Frankland complained of the sudden and unprepared way which the noble lord had introduced a clause of great importance into the bill now before the House. He argued at some length against the principle of the bill, and thought that the militia had many advantages over the regulars. The man 'that was good at the foil could not be unskilful at the sword; and he thought the illustration applied well to the militia. The laiter was a more settled and compact force, and were less liable to the ill effects of a constant succession of new officers than the regular forces. The inilitia system, be observed, was becoming daily more important. The regular army on the old system, he must say, whs in danger of becoming phlegmatic, and must be kept up by the boiling over of the other kinds of force. This country was already become in a great measure a military couniry, so that some otficers who had been absent for ten years could scarcely believe it was the same when they returned. This country might becoine any thing with proper management. It had been said that our country had got her liberaies from her struggles, and that her strength might come from the same source. He only wished it had been added, that our liber. ties ought not to be forgotten in our struggles. He thought it improper to strive to have our military machine too Voy. 1.-1807,


simple. simple. This was not the best plan, nor was it suited to the mixed nature of our constitution. It would rather tend to cramp the military spirit of this country. Those who solely professed the business of arms, were at times apt to become listless idlers. This sort of force must be kept up by a stimulus from the bottom. The great reason why he supported the military system of last year was, that it went to unite, in some degree, the character of the citizen and the soldier. The limitation of the terms of service had certainly this tendency. Ile observed that what gave activity to the Romaus in the time of the republic, was the constant changes of magistrates and officers, which rendered each anxious to do something great in his time. This principle would certainly operate in some degree on the soldiers for limited service as to time. His right hopourable friend's system went only to revive the old plan of defence in some measure. (Here he read a quotation from Blackstone with respect to the constitutional defence of a free government, which was chiefly by uniting the character of the soldier and citizen). Regular armies were only the excrescences of the military system of Europe. They were necessary under some circumstances certainly ; but their best support must arise from the military of the people. He was no enemy to compulsion, so far as regarded the defence of the couatry. It was a duty incumbent on every man, and might even be called a law of nature. He concluded by conjuring the House neither to discourage the militia, nor to trench upon the system of his right honourable friend.

Mr. IVhitshed Keene rose and said--In this late stage of the important subject now before the flouse, I beg leave to trouble it for a short time. I am one of those who voted for the measures proposed by his majesty's ministers, not that I thought them complete for the purpose, or the best that might have been devised, but because, after baving considered every thing that has been thrown out on the different sides of the House (who all agree in the end, though they differ in the means), I thought this mode preferable, from a persuasion that, as it was apparent, a large deficiency must for somc time exist in our military estab. lishments, it was the interest of our country, under the present emergency, the deficiency should be thrown on the militia rather than on our regular force; both on the pro

bability bability of that deficiency being sooner filled up with trained soldiers applicable to'every purpose, than by any other mode proposed; and again, on the probability of that deficiency in the militia being made good, in an easier and more economical manner, than it would be, if it existed in the troops of the line. The length to which this session has been protracted, by the circumstances which have occurred, may perhaps justify the officers of government, in not proposing to this House at present further measures, which possibly might retard this measure, which promises expeditiously a great increase of that force of the country, adapted either to offensive or defensiveoperations. As government has the best means of judging, how far the danger may be more or less imminent, on them lies the responsibility for thinking no more need be done in the present session; however inconvenient a further attendance might be, that inconvenience would plead but little, should any injury to our country take place, which might have been prevented by further measures. I trust they are not mistaken, and I have the satisfaction of believing, from what has fallen from ministers, that they intend taking the earliest opportunity to ameliorate, extend, and organize a more complete system of defence and offence. It would be wasting the time of the House to occupy it in eodeayouring to prove an imperious necessity which must overrule all minor objections to such measures, as may put our internal security on the best footing, and also afford the best means of preserving our external greniness. Every thinking man's mind being naturally employed on those great objects, may I be permitted to submit to the House some suggestions, which, I bumbly conceive, well worth being considered; and that they may be so modelled as to promise to effect these great objects, as far as the phy , sical powers of our country will admit. They are the suggestions of a man who, having served many years at the head of the militia of the county of which he was lord lieutenant, had therefore better means of being acquainted with the bearings and operations of the militia laws in different situations of our country, during several of the campaigns in the American war, in many of the last wars with France, and in various parts of Great Britain, employed a strong understanding, in weighing the advantages and disadvantages attending this service, according to the different circumstances of our country. I apprehend,



however great our gratitude ought and must be, to those enlightened and provident patriots, who introduced and established this most important mode of national defence, however competent it has proved to its object during former times, yet, no man will contend, that in the present state of Europe (which it is only necessary to allude to), the same system must be applicable. I here must beg leavo to advert to what many gentlemen in this House must recollcct, in 1799, when a French detachment had landed in Ireland, many of the regiments of the militia of this country, volunteered their service to the sister kingdom, with an alacrity and zeal never to be forgot. As the laws stood and now stand, an act of the legislature was necese sary to legalize the acceptance of their services. This French detachment, after some success, and haying ada vanced considerably into the country, being disappointed in their expectations of a faithful, numerous, and zealous co-operation (for which purpose they had brought many arms), surrendered. Had they not been disappointed in this expectation, it is not casy to appreciate the important advantage that must have resulted from this patriotic act of the British militia ; the act of the legislature, howe ever, in its progress through the Houses of Parliament, met with much opposition. In mentioning this, I am far from intending to impute any blame to those gentlemen, who made that opposition. I am persuaded they acted, according to their view of the subject, in the manner most conducive to the best interests of their country. Gentlemen will also recollect, that on the renewal of hostilities with France, when Buonaparte lined the coast opposite to ours with his legions, and began to assemble his flotilla at Boulogne, many regiments of the Irish militia, seeing England threatened, scized the opportunity of testifying their gratitude, by offering to come here. At the same time, some regiments of English militia again volunteered to go to Ireland. At that moment, some inost respectable and leading characters in that service, thought proper to publish resolutions, expressing strong disapprobation of that measure, and stopped it. I cannot help lamenting that they thought it their duty so to act, as it is obvious, that the facility of mulual defence was and will be thereby embarrassed ; and what is of no less importance, though not so obvious, it prevents the intermixture of a considerable part of the population of the two countries; a measure

« AnteriorContinuar »