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hamble acknowledgments are due to his Maj-, hope may be as immortal as those liberties and esty. May it afford the comfort of seeing the that constitution which they came to maintain. royal family, numerous as, I thank God, it is, | Sir, I am heartily for the motion. still growing and rising up into a third genera- | tinn! A family, sir, which I most earnestly! The motion was unanimously agreed to.



MARCH 8, 1739.

INTRODUCTION. DIFFICULTIES had arisen between England and Spain, from the measures adopted by the latter to sup press an illicit trade carried on by English adventurers with the coast of South America. The Spanist. cruisers searched British merchantmen found in that qaarter, and in so doing. either through mistake or design, committed outrages to a considerable extent upon lawful traders. Exaggerated accounts of these cutrages were circulated throughout England. The public mind became greatly inflamed on the subject, and many went so far as to contend that the British flag covered her merchant ships and pro terter chem from search onder all circumstances.

Walpole opened a negotiation with the Court of Madrid for the redress and removal of these griev. ances. After dae examination, the just claims of the English merchants upon Spain were set down at £200,000. On the other hand, the sum of £60,000 was now adjudged, under the stipulations of a former treaty. to be paid by England to Spain, for captares made in 1718 by Admiral Byng. The balance due to England was thus settled at £140,000; and Walpole, to avoid the usual delay of the Spaniards in money matters, offered to make an abatement of £45,000 for prompt payment, thus reducing the entire amount to £95,000. To this the Spanish government gave their assent, but on the express condition that this arrangement should be considered as in no way affecting certain claims of Spain on the English. Saath Sea Company.

As the result of this negotiation, a Convention was drawn up on the 14th of January, 1739, stipulating for the payment of £95,000 within four months from the exchange of ratifications. It also provided for the removal of all remaining difficulties, by agreeing that commissioners from England and Spain should meet withio six weeks, to adjust all questions respecting trade between Europe and the colonies in America, and also to establish the boundary lines between Florida and the English settlements in Carolina, theu embracing Georgia. It further stipalated that, during the sitting of this commission, the erection of fortifications should be suspended, both in Carolina and Florida. At the moment when this Convention was to be signed, the Spanish government gave notice, that as the South Sea Company was not embraced in ttis arrangement, the King of Spain held them to be his debtors to the amount of £68,000, for his share of the profits they had realized under previous engagements; and that, unless payment was made within & specified time, he would deprive them of the Assiento, or contract, which he had granted them for sapplying South America with slaves. Such were the provisions of the famous Spanish Convention, and the circumstances under which it was signed.

The House of Commons appointed March 6th, 1739, for considering this Convention. The public mind was greatly agitated on the subject. There was a general outcry against it, as betraying at once the interests of the merchants and the honor of the country. Such was the excitement and expectation when the day arrived, that four hundred members took their seats in the House at 8 o'clock A.M., five hours before the time appointed for entering upon business. Two days were spent in examining witnesses and hearing numerous written documents relating to the subject. On the 8th of March, Mr. Horace Wal pole, brother to the minister, after a long and able speech, moved in substance that “the House returu thanks to his Majesty for communicating the Convention; for having taken measures to obtain speedy payment for the losses sustained by the merchants; and also for removing similar abuses in future, and preserving a lasting peace.” After a number of members had expressed their views, Mr. Pitt rose and delivered the following speech, wbich gave him at once, and at the age of thirty, that ascendency as y speaker in the House of Commons which be afterward maintained.

SPEECH, &c. Sir,--There certainly has never been in Par- | by the complicated question that is now before liament a matter of more high national concern you. than the Convention referred to the considera- We have here the soft name of an humble ad. tion of this committee; and, give me leave to dress to the Throne proposed, and for no other say, there can not be a more indirect manner of end than to lead gentlemen into an approbatior taking the sense of the committre upon it than of the Convention. Is this that full, delibera'

examination, which we were with defiance called | was called, is not, indeed, omitted in the preani. upon to give to this Convention? Is this cursory, ble to the Convention, but it stands there as the blended disquisition of matters of such variety reproach of the whole, as the strongest evidence and extent, all that we owe to ourselves and to of the fatal submission that follows. On the part ou our country? When trade is at stake, it is your Spain, a usurpation, an inhuman tyranny, claimlast intrenchment; you must defend it or perish; ed and exercised over the American seas; on the and whatever is to decide that, deserves the most part of England, an undoubted right by treaties. distinct consideration, and the most direct, undis- and from God and nature declared and assertod guised sense of Parliament. But how are we in the resolutions of Parliament, are referred to now proceeding? Upon an artificial, ministerial the discussion of plenipotentiaries upon one and question. Here is all the confidence, here is the the same equal footing! Sir, I say this andoubt. conscious sense of the greatest service that ever ed right is to be discussed and to be regulated ! was done to this country!' to be complicating And if to regulate be to prescribe rules (as in questions, to be lumping sanction and approba- all construction it is), this right is, by the es. tion, like a commissary's account! to be cover-press words of this Convention, to be given up and ing and taking sanctuary in the rcyal name, in- sacrificed; for it must cease to be any thing from stead of meeting openly, and standing fairly, the the moment it is submitted to limits. direct judgment and sentence of Parliament upon The court of Spain has plainly told you (as the several articles of this Convention.

appears by papers upon the table), that you shal] You have been moved to vote an humble ad steer a due course, that you shall navigate by a dress of thanks to his Majesty for a measure line to and from your plantations in Americawhich (I will appeal to gentlemen's conversation if you draw near to her coast (though, from the in the world) is odious throughout the kingdom. circumstances of the navigation, you are under Such thanks are only due to the fatal influence an unavoidable necessity of doing so), you shall that framed it, as are due for that low, unallied be seized and confiscated. If, then, upon these condition abroad which is now made a plea for terms only she has consented to refer, what bethis Convention.

comes at once of all the security we are flattered To what are gentlemen reduced in support of with in consequence of this reference? Pleni. it? They first try a little to defend it upon it potentiaries are to regulate finally the respective own merits; if that is not tenable, they throw out pretensions of the two crowns with regard to general terrors—the House of Bourbon is united, trade and navigation in America ; but does a who knows the consequence of a war? Sir, man in Spain reason that these pretensions must Spain knows the consequence of a war in Amer- be regulated to the satisfac-ion and honor of En. ica. Whoever gains, it must prove fatal to her. gland ? No, sir, they conclude, and with reason She knows it, and must therefore avoid it; but from the high spirit of their administration, fron she knows that England does not dare to make the superiority with which they have so long it. And what is a delay, which is all this mag-treated you, that this reference must end, as it nified Convention is sometimes called, to pro- has begun, to their honor and advantage. duce ? Can it produce such conjunctures as ! But, gentlemen say, the treaties subsisting are those which you lost while you were giving to be the measure of this regulation. Sir, as to kingdoms to Spain, and all to bring her back treaties, I will take part of the words of Sir Willagain to that great branch of the house of Bourbon iam Temple, quoted by the honorable gentlewhich is now held out to you as an object of so man near me; it is vain to negotiate and to make much terror? Is this union be formidable, are treaties, if there is not dignity and vigor sufficient we to delay only till it becomes more formidable, to enforce their observance. Under the miscon. by being carried farther into execution, and by struction and misrepresentation of these very being more strongly cemented ? But be it what treaties subsisting, this intolerable grievance has it will, is this any longer a nation? Is this any arisen. It has been growing upon you, treaty longer an English Parliament, if, with more ships after treaty, through twenty years of negotiation, in your harbors than in all the navies of Europe ; and even under the discussion of commissaries, with above two millions of people in your Amer- to whom it was referred. You have heard from ican colonies, you will bear to hear of the expe- Captain Vaughan, at your bar, at what time diency of receiving from Spain an insecure, un- | these injuries and indignities were continued. satisfactory, dishonorable Convention ? Sir, I As a kind of explanatory comment upon this call it no more than it has been proved in this Convention which Spain has thought fit to grant debate; it carries fallacy or downright subjec- you, as another insolent protest, under the valid. tion in almost every line. It has been laid open ity and force of which she has suffered this Con. and exposed in so many strong and glaring lights, vention to be proceeded upon, she seems to say, that I can not pretend to add any thing to the “We will treat with you, but we will search and conviction and indignation which it has raised. take your ships; we will sign a Convention, boi

Sir, as to the great national objection, the we will keep your subjects prisoners in Oli searching of your ships, that favorite word, as it Spain; the West Indies are remote; Eur pe

shall witness in what manner we use you." 1 Alluding to the extravagant terms of praise in Sir, as to the inference of an admission of which Mr. H. Walpole had spoken of the Conven- our right not to be searched, drawn from a rep tion, and of those who framed it.

| aration made for ships unduly seized and coufis

ated, I think that argument very inconclusive. I lute, imperious manner, and most camely and The right claimed by Spain to search our ships abjectly received by the ministers of England. :3 one thing, and the excesses admitted to have Can any verbal distinctions, any erasions what been committed in consequence of this pretend ever, possibly explain away this public infamy? ed right is another. But surely, sir, to reason To whom would we disguise it? To ourselves Grom inference and innplication only, is below the and to the nation! I wish we could hide it from dignity of your proceedings upon a right of this the eyes of every court in Europe. They sen yast importance. What this reparation is, what that Spain has talked to you like your master sort of composition for your losses forced upon They see this arbitrary fundamental condition you by Spain, in an instance that has come to standing forth with a pre-eminence of shame, as fight, where your own commissaries could not in a part of this very convention. conscience decide against your claim, has fully This Convention, sir, I think from my soul, is appeared upon examination; and as for the pay. nothing but a stipulation for national ignominy, ment of the sum stipulated (all but seven-and- an illusory expedient to baffle the resentment of Iwenty thousand pounds, and that, too, subject to the nation; a truce, without a suspension of hos. a drawback), it is evidently a fallacious nominal tilities, on the part of Spain; on the part of En. payment only. I will not attempt to enter into gland, a suspension, as to Georgia, of the first the detail of a dark, confused, and scarcely in-law of nature, self-preservation and self-defense; telligible account; I will only beg leave to con- a surrender of the rights and trade of England clude with one word upon it, in the light of a to the mercy of plenipotentiaries, and, in this insubmission as well as of an adequate reparation. finitely highest and most sacred point-future Spain stipulates to pay to the Crown of England security-not only inadequate, but directly reninety-five thousand pounds; by a preliminary pugnant to the resolutions of Parliament and the protest of the King of Spain, the South Sea Com-gracious promise from the Throne. The company is at once to pay sixty-eight thousand of plaints of your despairing merchants, and the it: if they refuse, Spain, I admit, is still to pay voice of England, have condemned it. Be the the ninety-five thousand pounds; but how does guilt of it upon the head of the adviser : God it stand then? The Assiento Contract is to be forbid that this committee should share the guilt suspended. You are to purchase this sum at by approving it! the price of an exclusive trade, pursuant to a national treaty, and of an immense debt of God The motion was carried by a very small ma. knjws how many hundred thousand pounds, due jority, the vote being 260 to 232. Mr. Burke's from Spain to the South Sea Company. Here, statement respecting the merits of this question, wir, is the submission of Spain by the payment of as it afterward appeared, even to those who took 3 stipulated sam; a tax laid upon subjects of the most active part against the Convention, may England, under the severest penalties, with the be found in his Regicide Peace. Whether Lord reciprocal accord of an English minister as a Chatham was one of the persons referred to by preliminary that the Convention may be signed; Mr. Burke as having changed their views, dues a condition imposed by Spain in the most abso- | not appear, but it is rather presumed not



INTRODUCTION. War was declared against Spain in October, 1739, and it soon became extremely difficult to man the British fleets. Hence a bill was brought forward by Sir Charles Wager, in January, 1741, conferring av: thority on Justices of the Peace to issue search warrants, under wbich constables might enter private dwellings either by day or by night-and, if need be, might force the doors—for the purpose of discovering seamen, and impressing them into the public service. So gross an act of injustice awakened the indig. nation of Mr. Pitt, who poured out the following invective against the measure, and those who were en. deavoring to force it on the House.

SPEECH, &c. Sir,—The two honorable and learned gentle- make them wholly so. Will this increase your men' who spoke in favor of this clause, were number of seamen ? or will it make those you pleased to show that our seamen are half slaves have more willing to serve you? Can you expect already, and now they modestly desire you should that any man will make himself a slave if he car 1 The Attorney and Solicitor General, Sir Dudley

avoid it? Can you expect that any man will Ilyder and Sir John Strange. The former was sub. breed his child up to be a slave? Can you ex: sequently Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench, pect that seamen will venture their lives or their and the latter Master of the Rolls.

limbs for a country that has made them slaves ? cr can you expect that any seaman will stay in of you, gentlemen, allow this law to be execute. the country, if he can by any means make his in its full extent ? If, at midnight, a petty con escape? Sir, if you pass this law, you must, in stable, with a press-gang, should come thunder my opinion, do with your seamen as they do ing at the gates of your house in the country. with their galley-slaves in France—you must and should tell you he had a search-warrant, chain them to iheir ships, or chain them in and must search your house for seamen, would couples when they are ashore. But suppose you at that time of night allow your gates to be this should both increase the number of your opened? I protest I would not. What, then, seamen, and render them more willing to serve would be the consequence ? He has by this law you, it will render them incapable. It is a a power to break them open. Would any of common observation, that when a man becomes you patiently submit to such an indignity ? a slave, he loses hall his virtue. What will it Would not you fire upon him, if he attempted to signify to have your ships all manned to their break open your gates? I declare I would, let full complement ? Your men will have neither the consequence be never so fatal, and if you the courage nor the temptation to fight; they happened to be in the bad graces of a minister will strike to the first enemy that attacks them, the consequence would be your being either killbecause their condition can not be made worse ed in the fray, or hanged for killing the constaby a surrender. Our seamen have always been ble or some of his gang. This, sir, may be the famous for a matchless alacrity and intrepidity case of even some of us here; and, upon my in time of danger; this has saved many a Brit. honor, I do not think it an exaggeration to sup. ish ship, when other seamen would have run be- pose it may. low deck, and left the ship to the mercy of the The honorable gentlemen say no other remedy waves, or, perhaps, of a more cruel enemy, a pi. has been proposed. Sir, there have been several rate. For God's sake, sir, let us not, by our other remedies proposed. Let us go into a comnew projects, put our seamen into such a condi- mittee to consider of what has been, or may be tion as must soon make them worse than the proposed. Suppose no other remedy should be cowardly slaves of France or Spain.

offered : to tell us we must take this, because no The learned gentlemen were next pleased to other remedy can be thought of, is the saino show us that the government were already pos- with a physician's telling his patient, “Sir, there sessed of such a power as is now desired. And is no known remedy for your distemper, there how did they show it? Why, sir, by showing fore you shall take poison-I'll cram it down that this was the practice in the case of felony, your throat.” I do not know how the nation und in the case of those who are as bad as selons, may treat its physicians; but, I am sure, if my I mean those who rob the public, or dissipate physician told me so, I should order my servante the public money. Shall we, sir, put our brave to turn him out of doors. sailors upon the same footing with felons and Such desperate remedies, sir, are never to be public robbers ? Shall a brave, honest sailor be applied but in cases of the utmost extremity, treated as a felon, for no other reason but be- and how we come at present to be in such excause, after a long voyage, he has a mind to sol. tremity I can not comprehend. In the time of ace himself among his friends in the country, and Queen Elizabeth we were not thought to be in for that purpose absconds for a few weeks, in any such extremity, though we were then threatorder to prevent his being pressed upon a Spit- ened with the most formidable invasion that was head, or some such pacific expedition ? · For I ever prepared against this nation. In our wars dare answer for it, there is not a sailor in Brit. with the Dutch, a more formidable maritime ain but would immediately offer his services, if power than France and Spain now would be, if he thought his country in any real danger, or they were united against us, we were not sup. expected to be sent upon an expedition where posed to be in any such extremity, either in the 20 might have a chance of gaining riches to time of the Commonwealth or of King Charles nimself and glory to his country. I am really the Second. In King William's war against ashamed, sir, to hear such arguments made use France, when her naval power was vastly supeof in any case where our seamen are concerned. rior to what it is at present, and when we had Can we expect that brave men will not resent more reason to be afraid of an invasion than we such treatment ? Could we expect they would can have at present, we were thought to be in stay with us, if we should make a law for treat- no such extremity. In Queen Anne's time, when ing them in such a contemptible manner ? we were engaged in a war both against France

But suppose, sir, we had no regard for our and Spain, and were obliged to make great lov seamen, I hope we shall have some regard fories yearly for the land service, no such remedy the rest of the people, and for ourselves in par. was ever thought of, except for one year only, ticular; for I think I do not in the least exag- and then it was found to be far from beirg er. gerate when I say, we are laying a trap for the fectual. lives of all the men of spirit in the nation. This, sir, I am convinced, would be the cast Whether the law, when made, is to be carried now, as well as it was then. It was at that into execution, I do not know; but if it is, we time computed that, by means of such a law as are laying a snare for our own lives. Every this, there were not above fourteen hundred sea. gentleman of this House must be supposed, i men brought into the service of the government hope justly, to be a man of spirit Would a'iy | and, conside ing the methods that have been

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ready taken, and the reward proposed by this I shall be for leaving this clause out of the bill, bill to be offered to volunteers, I am convinced and every other clause relating to it. The bill that the most strict and general search would will be of some service without them, and whee not bring in half the number. Shall we, then, we have passed it, we may then go into a com. for the sake of adding six or seven hundred, or mittee to consider of some lasting methods for even fourteen hundred seamen to his Majesty's increasing our stock of scamen, and for encour. nary, expose our Constitution to so much dan- aging them upon all occasions to enter into hia ger, and every housekeeper in the kingdom to Majesty's service. the danger of being disturbed at all hours in the night?

In consequence of these remarks, all the clans. Bat suppose, this law were to have a great es relating to search-warrants were ultimately eflect, it can be called nothing but a temporary struck out of the bill. expedient, because it can in no way contribute! It was during this debate that the famous al. toward increasing the number of our seamen, or tercation took place between Mr. Pitt and Ha loward rendering them more willing to enter ratio Walpole, in which the latter endeavored to into his Majesty's service. It is an observation put down the young orator by representing him made by Bacon upon the laws passed in Henry as having too little experience to justify his dis. the Seventh's reign, that all of them were cal.cussing such subjects, and charging him with culated for faturity as well as the present time.” "petulancy of invective," "pompous diction," This showed the wisdom of his councils; I wish and “theatrical emotion.” The substance of I could say so of our present. We have for Mr. Pitt's reply was reported to Johnson, who some years thought of nothing but expedients wrote it out in his own language, forming one for getting rid of some present inconvenience by of the most bitter retorts in English oratory. running ourselves into a greater. The ease or It has been so long connected with the name of convenience of posterity was never less thought Mr. Pitt, that the reader would regret its omis. of, I believe, than it has been of late years. I sion in this work. It is therefore given below, Fish I could see an end of these temporary ex- | not as a specimen of his style, which was exact. pedients; for we have been pursuing them so ly the reverse of the sententious manner and bal. iong, that we have almost undone our country anced periods of Johnson, but as a general ex and overturned our Constitution. Therefore, sir, hibition of the sentiments which he expressed.


Sie,—The atrocious crime of being a young deserves not that his gray hairs should secure man, which the honorable gentleman has, with him from insult. Much more, sir, is he to be sach spirit and decency, charged upon me, I abliorred, who, as he has advanced in age, has shall weither attempt to palliate nor deny, but receded from virtue, and becomes more wicked content myself with wishing that I may be one with less temptation; who prostitutes himself of those whose follies may cease with their youth, for money which he can not enjoy, and spends and not of that number who are ignorant in spite the remains of his life in the ruin of his country. of experience. Whether youth can be imputed But youth, sir, is not my only crime; I have to any man as a reproach, I will not, sir, assume been accused of acting a theatrical part. A the province of determining : but surely age may theatrical part may either imply some peculiarbecome justly contemptible, if the opportunities ities of gesture, or a dissimulation of my real which it brings have passed away without im- sentiments, and an adoption of the opinions and provement, and vice appears to prevail when the language of another man. passions have subsided. The wretch who, after In the first sense, sir, the charge is too trifling haring seen the consequences of a thousand er- to be confuted, and deserves only to be mentionrors, continues still to blunder, and whose age ed to be despised. I am at liberty, like every has only added obstinacy to stupidity, is surely other man, to use my own language ; and the object of either abhorrence or contempt, and though, perhaps, I may have some ambition to

-- please this gentleman, I shall not lay myself un2 « Certainly his (Henry the Seventh's) times for der any restraint, nor very solicitously copy ris good commonwealth's laws did excel, so as he may diction or his mien, however matured by age, or justly be celebrated for the best law giver to this modeled by experience. If any man shall, by nation after King Edward the First; for his laws, charging me with theatrical behavior, imply that whoso marks them well, are deep, and pot vulgar; I utter any sentiments but my own, I shall treat not made apon the spur of a particular occasion for

him as a calumniator and a villain; nor shall the present, but out of providence for the future, to make the estate of his people still more and more any protection shelter him from the treatment happy, after the manner of the legislators in ancient he deserves. I shall, on such an occasion, withand heroical times."-Bacon's Works rol. iii., p. out scruple, trample upon all those forms with 132 ed tion 1834.

| which wealth and dignity intrench theinselves

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