Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][graphic]

manders that it occasioned discontent and dissatisfaction, or had in the lmalkst degree been considered as oppressive, it had immediately been annulled. As it was impossible to lay down a precise rule where there was so much room for the exercise of discretion," it was impossible to fay whether the proclamations were right or wrong, except some method could be contrived to take into consideration all the circumstances of the country at the moment in which they were issued. It had heen said, that the contents of the proclamations were in direct opposition to the declaration of the ist of January. It must; first be necessary to shew that the declaration had been accepted. It was said that the terms held out in that declaration were either protection or removal; protection to those who submitted themselves, and removal of such as should be sound refractory. If Gentlemen, however, read the conclusion of that paper, they might perhaps find another alternative. The conclusion was this: "All such persons as in contempt of his Majesty's gracious and benevolent intention, should dare to oppose this declaration, (hall be treated as enemies, and remain exposed to all the evils which the operations of war cannot fail to bring over their persons and property." Did not this in the plainest manner point out confiscation, and all the other consequences authorised by the rights of conquest? The paper was intended to contain an inducement to submission. Though the motion was confined to Martinique, an Hon. Gentleman had thought proper to travel into St. Lucie for facts in order to support it. It was material to be ascertained whether the inhabitants of Martinique did not resist, in direct opposition to wliat had been asserted. He would prove that the inhabitants os Martinique did generally resist •, that they had not aided the progress of the British troop?, even by intelligence; he would prove it by the evidence of the whole army, he would prove it by facts themselves. An Hon Gentleman had gone so far back as the expedition of General Bruce; but what had he proved by his statement, but that the great majority in Martinique were decidedly attacl . d to the Convention } and that the others, who had sided with the British, had been since expelled, or maslacred? 116 would proceed to examine the curious memorial and affidavit which had not been permitted by the House to lie upon the table. Taking the inemorial from its contents, not knowing Mr. Thellusson, by whom it was signed, whether he was a Member of that House or another of the same name, he had formerly asserted what he should again repeat, that it was a series of falsehood from beginning to end, and that the affidavit upon which it was grounded, was an instance of the grossest perjury. If, as ho

underunderstood, the Gentleman by whom the memorial was signed, was a merchant of eminence, it would well become him to consider what he was doing, and to examine the public dispatches, before, upon the evidence of one, who is declared to be a notoriously good man, but, who is so notoriously good, that the Gentleman who thus characterized him, would not undertake to support his allegation upbn oath; before, upon such evidence, he ventured to attack the character, and to wound the feelings of respectable commanders, he would first shew such circumstances upon the face of the memorial, a9 evidently proved its falsity, and secondly, he would lay before the House, a statement os facts, supported by gentlemen of undoubted veracity, whose evidence he was ready to produce at the bar.

Mr. Batham here Called Mr. Grey to order. He said, that as the memorial in question had been rejected by the House, and as nothing had been founded upen it by him or his Hon. Friends, he conceived it improper to make it the subject of comment.

The Speaker called the attention of the House to the point before them. As the memorial had not been permitted to be laid upon the table, it might not be strictly regular to make it the subject of comment; but it was to be recollected, that the memorial had been published and distributed to Members of that House, and as it went to impute blame to the conduct of the Hon. Commanders, he submitted to the House whether it was not proper for any Member to remark on it B3 a publication, with a view to the vindication of their character.

Mr. Grey contended that he had a right to remark on the memorial as-a publication, and the affidavit with which it wa» accompanied. Both went to throw aspersions on the character of the commanders in the West Indies. The charges against them had been now in circulation for fix months. The Hon. Gentlemen had at last come forward as their accusers, and were not they to be admitted to be heard in their defence? There was nothing in the memorial which had not been transferred to the speeches, two parts of which were not at all to the purpose, and which he would not have an opportunity to notice in his answer. This Mr. Malespine states, that when the town of St. Pierre received the first summons from his Majesty's commanders, the white inhabitants were so absolutely at the disposal of the negroes and people of colour, that they could not manifest their desire of surrendering. The town of St. Pierre had at no time been disposed to the British cause. Why then should Mr. Malespine have taken refuge m the town of St. Pierre, which had been the source of all the troubles in Martinique, when remaining in the open country, he might at least have shewn his pacific dispositions, and, if so inclined, have afforded assistance to the British arms? Mr. Malespine states that after the proclamation was issued, the inhabitants took the oath of allegiance; just as if the oath had immediately followed the date of the proclamation. The impression intended to be produced by this mode of statement, ■was sufficiently obvious. Mr. Grey said that he would next proceed to the statement of facts, in support of which he could produce the evidence of a number of respectable officers, who were attending near that House, if their testimony should be required. These were the officers who had commanded in the different divisions who had made their attack on several parts of the island, and who had not experienced the smallest assistance or support from one white inhabitant. "With a view to injure the fame os the commanders, the service had been attempted to be depreciated. It had been said that the conquest had cost only twenty-eight days; when in reality it had taken up from the 6th of February to the 25th of March; and that only eighty-four men had been lost, when it would be found from the returns that the number of killed and wounded amounted to between two and three hundred. Where the Gentlemen who have brought forward the motion have been careful to pass over every thing unfavourable to their purpose, they have been equally assiduous to pervert known facts, and to bring forward others entirely void of foundation. Malefpine fays that the whites were restrained by fear of the blacks, and the people of colour. Whereas from the statement it would appear that the town of St. Pierre is chiefly occupied by the whites; that they manned the worksi and worked the guns; and that almost all those who were killed were whites. Mr. Grey said, that as it might now be deemed too late in the session to enter into the inquiry, he would read the report of the officers in their own words. He read the report of the officers who commatvied the different divisions in the attack on Martinique—General Myers, Colonel Chalmers, Captain O'Callagan, the Aid-du-cawp to General Dumlis, Major Stuart, Major Burnet, and Captain Douglas of the 30th regiment.

The testimonies all concurred, upon the honour of the Gen* tlemen who fiuned them, which they were willing to sanction with their oaths, that no white person in the island gnve the least succour, assistance, or intelligence—That the troops landed in different quarters, and no where met with support, but, en-the contrary, with resistance—That the attack lasted from i' the the 26th of February to the 28th of March, instead of eighteen days; and, as the returns would sliew, that instead of eightyfour men only lost, they lost between two and three hundred— With Bellegarde alone they lost seventy.

They furthermore stated, that those who were killed were * almost all whites, in their military uniforms, and that the whites alone worked the guns and batteries. They gave an account of Mr. Dalling's coming from St. Pierre, with a flag of truce, and attended by a military guard, and they shewed that from Trinity town to St. Pierre a distance of twenty miles, not one person joined them except some negroes. They all agreed that the whites might have subdued the people of colour if they had been inclined, and that when the royalists were expelled in 1793, on account of General Bruce, the inhabitants of St. Pierre were most violent.—To these he added the voluntary testimony of Colonel Coote, who could not find a white guide through the whole island, and when two were found for his Royal Highness Prince Edward, they would not go till a certificate was signed for them, stating that they were compelled to do so at the point of the bayonet.

The report, which was equally distinguished by precision of detail and perspicuity of language, went in the plainest and most direct manner to contradict all the facts alledged in the memorial and the affidavit.—Mr. Grey stated, that he had received voluntary offers of testimonials to the fame purpose, from almost every officer who had served under the commanders. Of these he should only read those of Colonel Craddick and Captain Brown of the Asia, who commanded the squadron at St. Pierre, while the Vengeance was on the other side 0/ the island, who stated that they might have sent a canoe off in a calm, if they wished conciliation.

This was the account they gave of the general disposition of the white inhabitants; and General White and Major Mason, whom the Hon. Gentleman had so deservedly praised, were willing to affirm the same :—But circumstances also spoke— their being in St. Pierre, instead of protecting their property in the plantations, which, though an open town, was defended by redoubts and forts. The Bellegarde army was never within fifteen miles of St. Pierre; and a spirit of resistance was manifested upon every occasion, to the last extremity.

It had been said that the courts of law were full of comlaints against the conduct of the commanders. He said he ad communicated with the Solicitor in order to ascertain the fact, and had found, whatever might be in preparation, that no claim had hitherto been exhibited, but that of Mr. MaleVol. Us. 31 spine. .

« PreviousContinue »