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to ministers upon the conduct of these commanders in ther West Indies, as far back as the month of August last; but no answer had been obtained from them until the following April. And as he did not make this motion as a matter of course, but upon the ground of facts, the delay became unavoidable. The first answer from the Duke of Portland to Lord Penrhyn, was, that the law officers of the Crown were not fully prepared to make their report upon the business. This ■was on the 7th of April: On the 4th of May, he made his motion for certain papers to be laid before the House. When these papers were produced, he gave notice of the present motion, which he appointed for the second open day, which was afterwards deferred at the express desire of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. So much for the delay. A great deal had been said on the order of the proceeding. It appeared to him that in that point of view also he had taken the best course, and the most regular and Parliamentary one. For this he had consulted very high authority. It had been stated also that the proceeding on his part was preposterous; why, he did not know. It appeared to him, when an allegation was made on one fide, and disputed on the other, to be proper to make it the subject of investigation, provided the point in contest be suffitiently important to occupy the attention of that House. One Gentleman, when this matter was before the House, had objected even to the granting of the papers which were then upon the table, unless he who moved for them should pledge himself to follow up that motion with another, for an inquiry into the conduct of these commanders, because the granting of such papers had something of the tendency of a censure on these gentlemen. From the same premises he drew a contrary conclusion; for it appeared to him, that if papers relating to the conduct of commanders be brought forward in the House of Commons, anil afterwards the person moving for them did not chuse to call for an inquiry, it must necessarily follow that he was satisfied with that conduct which the papers •had served to evince. If he had been of opinion that no blame was imputable to these officers, he should certainly not have corrne forward then, and he was sorry to fay, that however good the characters of Sir Charles Grey and Sir John Jervis might be, the persons who complained of them had not, in his opinion, complained without foundation. He was willling to confess the characters of these commanders were high in every respect, except as to their conduct in the West Indies: But if it was supposed that he made this acknowledgment, not from the dictates of his own feelings, but to pacify his opponents, and to avoid the high ton* which they might otherwise adopt, •1 that .that was a mistake, for he was sincere in the praises which he was bestowing on the characters of these commanders, and what he said upon that part of die subject arose out of the impulse of his own mind.
With regard to the letter of Sir Charles Grey, by which he stated that he kept no copy of some of the proceedings, particularly a proclamation in the illands, he apprehended it to be of itself evidence of some blame, or he confessed he did not understand the matter at all. When he found that this proclamation was complained of there, and disapproved os at home, did he not think'fit to order and preserve a copy of it? Did not ministers ask for copies? If there ever was a copy of the proceedings in the islands, when did it disappear? Did it disappear when it was suspected that an inquiry into the whole proceedings would take place? All these questions ought to be answered plainly and unequivocally. Is such papers as these were not to be returned by commanders, there would be an end at once of all the inquisitorial power of that House, and he would defy any Gentleman in it to say that there was any check on the conduct of any commander, be it ever so atrocious. This letter of Sir Charles Grey stated also, that the accounts which had been sent home were not correct. What reason there was for that assertion he did not know. He ■knew of no inaccuracy in them; but although they were accurate as far as they went, they were not complete. There were some papers of great importance, winch were not yet before the House; he, however, had the good fortune to be supplied with one, which he should make the Mouse acquainted with, by reading it as part of his speech, before he concluded what he had to say upon the subject. If Gentlemen who might oppose him should deny the authenticity os the document, he would undertake to prove it; he should beg to be understood as being at issue with his opponents upon that poi;it; and that he was ready to risk the whole question upon that fact :—This was a petition of some of the inhabitants of St. Lucia.
Before he proceeded to state the grounds of the motion with which he intended to conclude, Mr. Barham laid, he should inform the House that his motion was not for a Committee of inquiry into the conduct of Sir Charles Grey and Sir John Jervis, and this for two reasons: One, that he was not at ;i!l pledged to make any such motion; nor could he tell what motion would be proper, until he had seen the papers which he moved for. The other, that he did not tnmk he should obtain it if he moved for it; and that a great part of his object might be obtained without inquiry; however, if his opponents should propose an inquiry, he could ha,ve no ob
\roL, III. j G jection. jection. It had been said, that the memorials of the command-, crs had been in his possession for four months. They had never been in his possession; they were laid before the House. With regard to some of the proceedings of the commanders in the West Indies, they needed no evidence, they spoke for themselves intelligibly enough, and to them he should confine the grounds of his motion. Out of them he did not intend to travel, unless his opponents should set him the example. If they should, then he must oppose assertion to assertion, opinion to opinion. Is there were letters in extenuation from Mr. Soran, aswas once asserted, he should assent thathe knew nothingof Mr. Soran, or that they might be merely letters of gratitude to his benefactors. If he should be told of the service of plate that had been given to these commanders, and that this was a proof of the estimation of their services in the islands, he should answer3 that this was net expressive of the general sentiments of the inhabitants, but was the act of a few persons who were dependent upon the commanders. Ii they should say any thing of the testimonials, he should answer, that the inhabitants of the islands are now complaining in courts of justice of the con-, duct of these commanders—a proof that these inhabitants think their conduct illegal, as well as unfair. There was a document on the table which some Gentlemen might rely upon a good deal, in the discussion of this matter. He meant the affidavit of "General Myers. He had nothing to fay against this officer, but he must remark that as the document had been laid on the table without any notice to him or any other person interested in the part he took in this discussion, it would have hi.en but fair to allow time to them to answer it. Besides, this affidavit was nothing but ex parte evidence, and that too from a witi.efs who was something of a party in the business.
In order that the House should clearly understand what part he should take, and what he stiould decline, it was necessary for him to stit:, as he hrd said before, that if his opponents ih -Jj, bv w.'.y of amendment to his motion, move for an inquiry, 1 e should vote for such an amendment, but he should not, for the reasons he had already stated, move for any inquiry himself. There were several points to be considered in this business. One, the origin.il promise of protection from the commanders to the inhabitants of the islands. A second, how far t).s conditions had been complied with? Thirdly, how far they had been forfeited by the conduct of the inhabitants? This Could not be done, however, without inquiry. The next thing would be, the degree of resistance which the inhabitants made to his Majesty's troops' in the islands, and tvheth'cr it justified the severity and the force of military law
■' which which had been adopted. These were points which could not, he said, be settled without inquiry, and therefore he put them by for the present; nor would it be necessary for him at all to notice them, unless the inquiry should be entered into; and in order to give his opponents full benefit of every thing that could be urged on those topics, he would admit beforehand every thing that it was possible for them to prove. Supposing then the resistance to have been made, he would consider how far the proclamation of the commanders could be justified according to the practice of war in modern days, and according to the law of nations; how far it suited the particular situation of the West India iflands at the time, and how far it was compatible with the general interest of the state.—With regard to the resistance made by the inhabitants of the islands to his Majesty's troops, he was persuaded that all the accounts which had been given of it, were very much exaggerated. What he complained of did not apply particularly to the particular acts of severity of the commanders; they, many of them j were now in a course of legal discussion ; but it was the principle of the proclamation on which those acts proceeded. And he could not help observing, that the conduct of those who defended the commanders, was a little curious. If he complained of the acts, they referred to the proclamation. If he complained of the proclamation, they referred to the acts. With regard to the proclamation, he should consider it in a general way, and examine the spirit of it, for it was not at all necessary to examine it by verbal criticisms, or nice distinctions; the plain and broad meaning of it was obvious. He proceeded to read extracts from the printed papers, in the course of which he made several comments. In the first place, the inhabitants, he observed, were told, " that all those who availing themselves of the invitation, in a quiet and peaceable manner, should submit to the authority of the King, and put themselves under his Majesty's protection, should be assured of personal safety, tiswell as a full and immediate enjoyment of all their lawful property, according to their ancient laws and customs, and on the most advantageous terms, those persons alone excepted, whose removal should be sound necessary for the safety of the island ; and even to persons of this description, whatever may be their conduct, we promise a safe conveyance to France.'* In this nothing was said of confiscation. He then came to .he two proclamations of'the ioth of May and 21ft of May 1791, on which he chiefly founded his motion, and signed by General Prefect, under the order of the commanders.
By his Excellency Robert Prescott, Esq. Lieutenant General ofhisBtitnnnic Majesty's Forces, Governor and Commander in Cliicf of the Island of Martinico and its Dependencies.
'I'll? inhabitants of the different quarters of the island of Martinico are desired to meet in tl.eir respective parishes, for the purpose of choosing, by ballot, for their representative, an intelligent person of known integrity; and thole depu ies, after they are chosen, are requested to assemble r.cxt Sunday, the i Sth instant, in the town of Fort Royal, to meet the Commissaries appointed by their Excellencies Sir Charles Grey, K. B. and Admiral Sir John Jcrvis, K.. B. for the jufposc of fixing, in an equitable and efficacious manner, a general contribution (the amount of which mall be made knows to the representative of each parish), to be paid by all those who possess property in the colony: The commander in chief having decided, that such an arrangement would be much more convenient than a general confiscation. Other matters concerning the welfare of the colony will also be proposed to them. ,
Given at the Governor's House at St. Pierre, on the tenth of May, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-four, in the thirty-fourth year of his Majtsly's reign.
(Signed) ROBERT PRESCOTT.
By order of the General,
(Signed) B. Clifton, Secretary.
By Order of their Excellencies, General Sir Chai les Grey, and Admiral Sir John Jervis, Commanders in Chief of his Britannic Majesty's Fleet and Armies in tlte Well Indies.
No attention having been piid to .he proclamation of the 10th instant, issuui by his Excellency General Prescott, desiring all the good people of this colony to assemble in their respective parishes and quaiters, for the purpeie of choosing persons of known intelligence, and approved integrity, to represent them in an „'ssembly, which, according to the said proclamation, was to be held at Fort Royal, Sunday, the iSth instant, to meet the Commissaries appointed and duly authoi ised by the commanders in chief, and to confer with them on the mod: equitable and most expeditious vray and means to raise a sum of money adequate to the value of the conquest destined to reward the valour, to compensate the excessive fatigues, and their consequences, sickness, and mortality, and to make good the heavy expence incurred by the British officers, soldiers, and sailors, who, with unshaken firmness, and matchless perseverance, have atcUievcd the conquest of this island, subjected it to the British Government, rescued from a wretched exile the greatest number of it, inhabitants, and restored them to the quiet pojsestion of their property, the confiscation of which had already been decreed:
And tltc procrastination of this general arrangement being the cause which prevents many well-disposed inhabitants from carrying their ce-mmor 4 ditiw