« PreviousContinue »
the King's Answer to the city of London, I
land, although it was impossible for him to execute its duties. Whence this extraordinary partiality? Why, because the Weilesley family have no less than twelve votes in the House of Commons. (Applauses.)-What is the next step of ministerial partiality towards this commander? No blame was inputed to bin. No idea of trying him was even insinuated. He was not, in fact, recalled from the army, but allowed to come home upon leave of absence.-And here let me remark,that although one of the pleas or apologies for concluding this infamous Convention was, that it would enable our army to march more expeditiously to the aid of the Spaniards; yet, when they were so enabled, their commander, Wellesley, came home, and left the army to go by itself. He came home before the other commanders, in order to tell the first story--in order to have an undue advantage over his colleagues.
--Then, what is done upon his arrival? He is introduced at the king's levee; and on the very day, too, that the corporation of London present their Address. 1 ook at the contrast between the treatment experienced by that corporation, and the reception of Sir Arthur Wellesley! Although there were divers great persons at that levee; al- though there was a bishop and a judge among the circle, Sir Arthur Wellesley was the first person presented to his majesty: and most graciously was he received! But further sull. After being thus cordially treated by his majesty, Sir Arthur is sent to resume his office in Ireland, for which, as I have already observed, he has been all along in the receipt of £6,566 a year, Does this imply any inclination to subject Sir Arthur Wellesley to censure, or to bring him to trial? Quite the contrary. And my firm belief is, that in order to screen that commander, ministers will use their endeavours to screen his colleagues; from a just apprehension, that if these colleagues are brought to trial, they would probably impeach Wellesley. For these reasons, ministers may well be suspected, of a determination to prevent any thing like effec tual inquiry. (Loud applauses )--But, G ntlemen, you cannot help being surprised, that ministers should have thought it proper to employ Sir Arthur Wellesley at all, upon this occasion, when they had such a nomber of generals, from among whom they could select a commander. What was the necessity, then, for sending out that officer ? Why, Gentlemen, we have at this moment, a Staff consisting of no less than 291. generals. What a boast! (4 laugh) The. French have not half so many. Among
these officers we have six field marshals! — There were, I say. 291 generals, of whom Sir Arthur Wellesley was one; and, out of all these officers, a man could not be chosen to send to Portugal, without withdrawing from Ireland its chief-secretary, upon whom so much of the government of that part of the United Kingdom rests Well, Gentiemen, Sir Arthur goes out as a major gene ral, and, after being deeply implicated in a transaction that " has disappointed the "hopes and expectations of the country," he comes back, is cordially greeted by his majesty, and peacably proceeds to resume the possession of his lucrative office in Ireland. Such, Gentlemen, is the partiality of ministers to the Wellesley family! to a family to which you pay annually, and I wish you to bear it in mind, no less than
3,767, as appears by the following state
Marquis Wellesley's Pension
Marquis and W. Pole with Provision to Sur-
Hon. Henry Wellesley, Sec. to the Treasury
tion of persons in the country, so destitute of humanity, who can feel any wish for the prolongation of war. They f.en ask me, why do any men wish a continuation of the war? Above all, say they, the government of the country cannot be desirous for its du ration. But, I could now, Gentlemen, begin to read a list, which would occup: two hours, of persons whose great interest consists in the duration of war, at all events, and under all circumstances and hazards. I shall mention ore case to you There is Mr. Garnier, the Apothecary, whom my neighbours call 'Squite Garnier of Wickham, (Here a mixed cry of Hear! Hear! and To the Question.) This Mr. Garnier, Gentle men, is an apothecary, and receives a salary, perquisites, and emoluments, amounting to £12,309, 10s. 5d a year for being Apothecary General to the Army. His perquisites are in proportion to the magnitude of that any, and the number of wounds they receive. Such a man, of course, must like the duration of war. It is the fault of government that he should have such an income."
Here Sir Francis Baring rose to order but the great body of the meeting calling "Go on, Go on;" the honourable borond could not obtain a bearing.
The SHERIFF observed, that he though every thing irrelevant to the question should be omitted upon this occasion, and if thee was any difference of opinion upon his subject, he most take the sense of the met ing upon it, being determined to preserve strict impartiallity.
Mr. COBBETT " I have. Gentlemen, to apologize to you for having already detained you so long, by entering into what I conceive to be perfectly regular and relevant to the question at issue; but I will regulate my se-conduct by your judgment.”—(Au_almost universal cry of "No, No; Go on, Go on," ensued)
This sum, observe, you are paying to
Sir FRANCIS BARING observed, that the mecting was called for a special purpose; that that purpose was of a public, not a pri vate nature, and therefore it was, in his epi nion, totally irregular to introduce the nanis of an individual who had nothing to do with the Convention. The honourable gentle man appeared to him not only to be making an attack upon Mr. Garnier, but also direct ly attacking the government of the country: he therefore hoped, that, taking it uron principles of perfect justice, the Meeting would strictly adhere to the avowed purpose for which they had assembled.
Mr. COBBETT then resumed.-"I was go ing on, Gentlemen, to shew the existence
of motives likely to induce men to support any war or any minister, and to pursue a course inconsistent with the interests of the public. I therefore meant to avail myself of this public opportunity to urge my neigh bours to think for themselves, rejecting the undue influence which such motives as I have described are calculated to produce. (Applouses) I have, Gentleman, a Petition and Address to propose for the consideration of this meeting. I am aware, that it may be thought presumptuous in me to do so. I had rather it had fallen into other hands; but having come here, I am resolved to do my duty. In this Petition and Address it will be observed, that. I allude to the Answer received by the corporation of London; which corporation I am desirous to support, as that Answer seems to have kicked them into courage. I refer in my Address to their observations with regard to former failures. It is fresh in the memory of every one, that there was a failure on the part of the Duke of York at the Helder (Yes, yes, we all remember that!) These are not times for men to be mealy-mouthed. It is notorious that the duke of York commanded an army, fitted out at an expence exceeding any thing of the kind upon former occasions. It consisted of the very flower of England; who were under the necessity of flying before the French, and were ulti mately hemmed up in a corner, where their commander made a capitulation, by which
gave up, not any thing that he himself had gained, but what was obtained through the bravery of others! By the valour of our fleets, 8000 French sailors were safely lodged in our barracks and guard ships, and these the Duke of York gave up, by his disgraceful capitulation. That was a failure, surely, of great magnitude, and yet it has never, to this day, been inquired into. Nearly the same kind of ministers that were then in power, now form the administration; and we have a right to think that these ministers will not be more anxious, if inconsistent with their ministerial interest, to enter into an inquiry upon this occasion, than they were on the other. Unless we press hard in an appeal to his Majesty himself, no effec· tual Inquiry is likely to take place. (A cry of "Bravo! Bravo!")-It may not be inapplicable to the subject in question, and I hope it will not be thought out of order, to state how much the Duke of York, who then escaped inquiry, receives out of the public money for his services. We have, surely, as good a right to know the emoluments, as the services he performs for them. The Duke of York receives from the country
in a pension the sum of £18,000 a-yearas colonel of the three battalions of foot guards, £6,000--as commander-in-chief, exclusive of his patronage and perquisites, the sum of £10,000. I know not what he receives as colonel of the five battalions of the 60th regiment, but I know that in addition to these sums, by an act passed in 1801 or 1802, the king was authorised to grant to him, out of the lands belonging to the public, called crown-lands (and in lieu, probably, of the bishoprick of Osnaburgh), several manors, &c. in the fee simple, worth, as I have heard them estimated. a £16,000 a year, amounting in all to the enormous sum of £48,000: add to these the interest of £54,000, lent him in 1801, out of the public money, without any consent of parliament, £2,700. The whole amount will then be £50.700, equal to the poor's rates of 125 parishes, or the assessed taxes of 146, parishes! He is also ranger of two parks and warden of the New Forest. From all. these the patronage he enjoys is immense; and we know but too well what patronage. is worth." (Here a great noise ensued, by the approbation of many, and the disapprobation of a few, upon the subject of this curious statement.)
The Rev. MR. POULTEK, amidst the hisses and hootings of the assembly, rose to speak to order. "I commend the zeal of those gentlemen," said he, "who hiss before they hear what I am going to say. -I or any man in this meeting have surely a right to speak to order. I did not rise sooner, on account of the former person spoken of be ing a near and dear relation to myself; but I beg to submit to you, Mr. Sheriff, as chairman, whether the allusion to the illustrious. personage just spoken of by the gentleman, be relevant or not."
The voices calling out "Go on, Go on, Mr. Cobbett," were so numerous, that the high sheriff could not get an opportunity of stating his opinion.
MR. COBBETT then rose again, and continued Gentlemen, I do not conceive that I was in the smallest degree out of order; but I will leave this subject by referring every one of you, as I have done the public at large, to the Statement of Facts, lately published by major Hogan. I shall now, Gentlemen, conclude with the expression of my particular wish, that those who do not read upon such subjects, should know that we have an absolute right to petition the king. Nothing can stay this right. There was a time when the king prosecuted persons for addressing him. And, let me tell you, one of the events that followed was
the dethronement of that king; another, the appointment of a successor; and a third, the passing of a positive law, enacting and establishing the right of the subject to petition. This right was declared, claimed, asserted, and enacted, by an act passed in the reign of William and Mary. The house of lords being assembled, first drew up a Declaration of the crimes of king James, stating, that he had " endeavoured to subvert and extirpate the laws and liberties of this kingdom; first, by assuming illegal powers;" and second, "by committing and prosecuting divers worthy prelates, for humbly pe titioning to be excused from concurring to the said assumed powers." We know, from history, that they afterwards declared what their rights and liberties should be hereafter. They claimed, demanded, and insisted upon them, as the sole condition upon which they would acknowledge William and Mary; and one of them was this: "That it is the Right of the subject to petition the King,” This is one amongst the express conditions upon which the present king's family were called to the throne They bargained, not only for the preserving of those rights from violation, but from all attempts upon them. Such is the language of the constitution aud law of England, and upon this strong ground it is, that I submit to you, Gentlemen, the following Address: TO THE KING'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY. "The humble Address and Petition of the
Nobility, Gentry, Clergy, Freeholders,
We your majesty's most dutiful subjects, "the nblity, gentry, clergy, freeholders, * and inhabitants of the county of South
disappointed the hopes and expectations of "the nation, and into which due inquiry "has not been made."
The Rev. Mr. BAKER seconded th Amendment; by saying, that he would f do it if he did not conceive that every hones Englishmen should heartily concur in it,
The Rev. Mr. POULTER next offered him self to the meeting Mr. High Sheriff and Gentlemen, I rise for the purpose of replying to some of the observations which have fallen from the individual who has last addressed you. In doing so I feel it my duty to limit myself to that part of his arguments which are applicable to the subject for which we are convened, and which shall serve to lead to the question before us. Much stress has been laid upon the Answer which the corporation of the City of London has received from his majesty.-An endeavour has been made to prove, that it gave no positive promise of an acquiescence in the object sought by the address of that corporation. I contend for the contrary; and feeling as I do, that his majesty's Answer on that point was complete, explicit, and satisfactory(No! No! No!)-This being my opinion, I am not bound to refer to the other part of that Answer, which was alone applic be o the true spirit of the Address. in that Address was introduced extraneous matter, in were made, by which your majesty's famy mind in an ill-advised, intemperate, and mily was placed upon the throne of this indiscreet manner. To the address just read, "kingdom, it was claimed, demanded, and there is, I confess, no such objection, inas insisted upon, solemnly assented to, and much as it limits its prayer to investigation, "legally enacted, that it was the right of and prays for justice alone. There is no call the subject to petition the king; and fully for punishment before investigation is insi convinced that it is of the utmost impor-tuted, as in the Address from the Citizens of
ampton, humbly approach your majesty "with an expression of our deep regret at "the Convention lately entered into by the « commanders of your majesty's forces and "the commander of the French forces in Portugal, a Convention which we deem disgraceful to your majesty's arms, greatly injurious to the interest of this nation, and still more injurious to the interests "and the glorious cause of your majesty's faithful allies, now engaged in a perilous conflict for the recovery and preservation of their rights and liberties.-Mindful "that at the happy period when those laws
London. But, with the answer to these Citizens before the country, let me ask the necessity of petitioning at all? Have we not the highest authority in the kingdom pledg ed to us, that an inquiry will be promptly instituted into the causes which led to an event "that has disappointed the hopes and expectations of the country?" Could I for a moment believe that such an inquiry would not take place, there is no man in this assembly who would exert his utmost efforts to obtain that object more willingly than myself. But, with the king's Answer before me, I must declare that I am satisfied on that point, and, therefore, think any application to the throne, for that which is already promised, quite unnecessary, and objec tionable. In calling upon this meeting to abstain from an unnecessary address, I repose no unjustifiable confidence in either his majesty's Answer to the corporation of London, or in the sincerity of his ministers ; but I call upon you to grant to a public instrument coming from such high authority, the same reliance as you are in the habit of observing in the ordinary intercourse of life. I know that it has been asserted, and I have seen it written, that this instrument does not explicitly promise investigation. In order to remove all doubts upon that point, I am in possession of a fact which must be believed, if I am entitled to the common credence of society: I therefore declare, in the most unqualified manner, and am contented to be branded with the character of falsehood and duplicity if it prove otherwise, that an inquiry is not only determined upon and about to commence, but that it will be carried on in the most open and public manner. For this information, I have the highest authority, though not from one of the cabinet, yet from a gentleman closely connected with and holding a confidential office in, the administration.This authority I am ready to name if called upon. (Name, name, name!) In obedience to the wishes of this meeting, I will name my authority, but beg leave to premise, that with ministers. I have no counection whatever, although much attached to them. I am indebted for the fact to which I have alluded to my friend and neighbour Mr. Sturges Bourne (Loud laughter, mixed with disapprobation). I now proDeed to observe on a part of the speech of the gentleman who preceded me, with peculiar, satisfaction; because I there fully coincide in his opinion. Indeed, to differ rom a man of undoubted talents, a powerul and argumentative writer, is not the most ratifying occurrence.-Those great qualities am always ready to attribute to him (Mr.
Cobbett), although it has been my lot to have smarted under their application. (Hear! hear!) I only ask in return the same right to form my own opinion, which he claims for himself, and, when necessary, to assert it manfully and without constraint. That the right to petition our sovereign is a great paramount privilege, secured by law to the subjects of this country, is what I trust no man will ever presume to deny. Were that birthright of Britons invaded, most cheerfully would I shed the last drop of my blood to recover and to re-assert it. But, although there can be no question as to the right, there may be a question as to the expediency of exercising it. It is because I deem its exercise at present inexpedient, that I oppose the resolution of the noble lord, and the Address of the last speaker. And, let it be remembered, that if ever there was a part of the royal prerogative which the constitution of this kingdom treats with most delicacy, it is that very part which the proposed Address calls in question, namely, the conclusion of treaties and conventions and the appointment of officers. If inclined, I could also speculate, as the friends to petitioning have done, on the specific relation and general tendency of this Convention, which has been so much reprobated. But so enamoured am I of fai: and public investigation, that I will abstain from hypothetical statements, and commit the developement of the facts to that miltary tribunal, which is the only one now legally competent to come to a fair decision upon such a case. Should there, from such developement, appear circumstances which affect the responsibility of his majesty's advisers, there is no doubt but that the zeal of party, and indeed of every member of the legislature, will institute, with respect to them, the fullest parliamentary investigation. The last speaker has attempted to impeach the character of general Sir Arthur Wellesley. On that point I put myself in direct opposition to him (Mr. Cobbett). Whether that distinguished officer tills his civil situation in Ireland with advantage to the public I shall not stop to inquire. I am not in possession of any means to form an opinion upon that subject. I am confident that it stands as bigh at home, as in the country where he has been so gallantly serving. If it should stand rather higher in Portugal, it is because, amongst his brave companions in arms, his character is so respected and established that nothing in the shape of charge or even insinuation has ever presumed to approach it, (Hear! Hear!) Ask any one of that brave army where general Sir A. Wellesley was to