« ForrigeFortsæt »
minister. When the subject came before the House of Peers, a warm debate took place, in the course of which the Earl of Carlisle, in a brief but elegant speech, asserted the claims of the Prince of Wales. It was his lordship's opinion, that
as a deficiency in one branch of the legislature had been proved, that deficiency ought to be supplied, and that the circumstances of the times were fully sufficient to direct tne wisdom of parliament how to accomplish that object, without having recourse to periods dissimilar in all respects. He therefore deprecated the idea of searching for precedents to influence their proceedings; and as to the phantom of right which had been so much contended for, he considered it as a false light, meant to bewilder and lead their lordships from the way of their duty, while the whole nation pointed direct to the heir-apparent." His Lordship concluded by hinting, with a truly prophetic spirit, that if the peers swerved from the right course, the example would not be imitated in Ireland. ! In 1791 we find his Lordship once more acting in opposition to Mr. Pitt's administration. At the period we allude to, the Turks and Russians were still at war, and the successes of Catharine II. were such as to indicate the speedy downfall of the Ottoman empire. This princess, however, notwithstanding her masculine ambition, perceived that the time was not quite arrived when she could place a successor on the throne of Constantine, and garrison the ancient By, zantium with her armies. She expressed herself content, therefore, with the fortress of Oczakow, and assumed great credit for this moderation, although it was evident that the possession of that fortress would enable her to retain the Crimea, and in the case of a future contest, (which she had always the means of provoking) would render her efforts more destructive to the enemy. In this state of affairs it was determined by the English ministry that Great Britain should arm to oppose the claims of Russia, and vindicate the cause of the Turks; and on the 28th of March, 1791, a message from the King was brought down to both Houses of Parliament,
announcing the armament and its cause, and calling upon them to assist His Majesty in his efforts to effect a pacification between Russia and the Porte, and thereby to restore general tranquillity on a secure and lasting foundation.
When the subject came to be debated in the House of Lords, Earl Fitzwilliam strenuously opposed the address which was proposed by Lord Grenville, and moved an amendment. No minister rising to explain or defend the conduct of government, after Lord Stormont and Lord Porchester had briefly reprobated so unusual a silence, the Earl of Carlisle took the opportunity of expressing his objections to the original address. His Lordship said, “ that in the course of his parliamentary attendance he had often witnessed the contemptuous behaviour of the ministry, but never in so insulting a manner as on that occasion. As the matter stood, he contended that it was impossible for that house to know whether they were then called upon to assist Russia in any of her schemes, or to support the Turks. They could not vote the address but upon confidence, and confidence merely; and he begged to ķnow upon what ground ministers called for such confidence? Did they rest their claim on their conduct last year — on the armament which had then taken place, and the object of which, whether against Spain or against Sweden, no one could pretend to divine ? If the present measure was in contemplation at the commencement of the session why did they disarm ? Why not use the force they had then afloat ? As it was, the fleet had served only to pillage the public, and to make a show between the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth. If we were resolved to enter into continental alliances, we ought to have made such as would be most likely to prove serviceable to us, and to have considered that Russia was the natural ally of this country. We had neglected to cultivate the friendship of the Empress, and now we were going to provoke her hostility. If we were entering into a war from necessity, the country would willingly strain every nerve to carry it on, and to bring it to a speedy and suc
cessful conclusion. No other war would be justifiable; but, whether this was a war of necessity, a war in consequence of existing continental alliances, or a war occasioned by the haughtiness and arrogance of ministers in pursuing a blundering system, the house was as yet wholly unable to determine."
The Dutch East India Company having sold two forts, Cranganore and Jacottah, possessed by them in the dominions of Tippoo Saib, to the Rajah of Travancore, with whom they had entered into an alliance offensive and defensive, the indignant Nabob of Arcot immediately marched at the head of his army and menaced revenge. Whether the English government in India felt any just apprehension from this proceeding, or whether they thought it afforded a plausible pretence to reduce the power of the Sultan, the British forces were immediately put in motion, and a long and destructive war ensued. As soon as the subject engaged the attention of Parliament, Lord Porchester, on the 9th of April, 1791, moved three resolutions in the House of Peers with a view of putting an end to the war. All the noble lords who spoke on the occasion seemed cordially to assent to the first resolution, which declared " that schemes of conquest and extension of dominion in India were measures repugnant to the wish, honour, and policy of the nation;" and indeed the chief objection to the two resolutions which followed seemed to be the fear of attaching blame to the conduct of Marquis Cornwallis, then governor-general of Bengal. - The Earl of Carlisle took a principal part in the discussion. He reprobated the idea of a new war in India, and was of opinion that instead of attacking the Mysore we ought to have defended it, as he had always believed that Tippoo Sultan was our natural ally, and the Mahrattas our natural enemies.' With respect to our possessions in India, the noble Earl intimated his conviction that Bengal was the only one we really had, or indeed ought to have in that quarter of the globe; and questioned if the remainder were to be considered as a resource in case of need, or as a millstone
about the neck of the country; and in the words of Lord Chatham “ doubted whether the East India Company and the whole of their trade were not mere bubbles." His lordship concluded, however, with an elegant panegyric on Lord Cornwallis, « with whom,” he observed," he had lived in uninterrupted intimacy and friendship for a term of thirty-four years, whose amiable manners and calm conciliating turn of mind he was well acquainted with, and could not compliment too highly, although he disdained every species of flattery.” Lord Carlisle added, “ that he had some title to speak of Lord Cornwallis on that occasion, as he was the very person who persuaded and prevailed upon his lordship to undertake the arduous task of governing India, at a time when he knew of no other man that was fit for the office; although he was sensible that it was against Lord Cornwallis's inclination, and perhaps not for his advantage; as his professional ambition and military ardour might have been more highly gratified had he gone to Canada. Since Lord Cornwallis had been in India their lordships had seen him acting, not in one situation only, but in a variety of situations. He (Lord Carlisle) entertained no doubt that in all and each of those situations his conduct would be found to have been fully justifiable; and, at least, until he could be heard he ought not to be censured.”
On the 27th of February, 1792, Lord Porchester having moved a vote of censure on His Majesty's ministers, for having urged the continuance of the armament against Russia after they had determined to accept the conditions offered by that power; and for having thereby abused the confidence reposed in them by parliament, the Earl of Carlisle rose, and in allusion to some remarks which had been made in the course of the debate on the happy form of the English constitution, observed, “ that he was ready to join in the panegyric; for the constitution of England was one of the most perfect that ancient or modern times could boast; but what would all the eloquent speeches that ever were delivered in that house in praise of the constitution, or what would all the
best writings on the same subject avail, if there were not a public conviction of its excellence? In what did that excellence consist? In maintaining a proper degree of jealousy and vigilance, in watching the conduct of ministers, in the freedom of debate, and in the demarcation of that confidence which he was ready to allow that ministers on great and momentous occasions had a right to expect, and which, however high party might run, he was certain would never be denied them.” The noble Earl then proceeded to state, at considerable length, the reasons which induced him to support the motion of censure proposed by his noble friend.
Nor was it in a constitutional point of view alone, that his Lordship was averse from the measures of the cabinet of that day, for he steadily opposed every scheme, either on their part, or on that of any of their adherents, which did not appear to him to be fraught with advantage to the public. Accordingly, when Lord Grenville, on the 5th of June, 1792, moved the order of the day for the second reading of the bill “ for the further increase and preservation of timber within the New Forest, in the county of Southampton, and for the sale of rents, and the enfranchisement of copyhold tenements in the said forests,” the proposition was warmly disapproved by the noble subject of this memoir, who said he regarded the bill as a measure that could fairly be called by no other name than that of “ a job,” in favour of a clerk at their table, who was, at the same time, secretary to the Treasury, under the pretence of providing timber for the royal navy; and that he was convinced, that the goodness and paternal affection of His Majesty (the readiest of princes to relinquish advantages of his own for the benefit of his people,) had been abused on the occasion.
On the sudden recall of Earl Fitzwilliam from the government of Ireland, he addressed a letter to his old friend the Earl of Carlisle, detailing the principal events of his administration, and explaining the motives by which he had been actuated. This letter was soon after published in Dublin ;