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lutions, the substance of which he would state. The first was, " That the inhabitants of Martinique had not availed themselves of the terms held out to them by the proclamation dated ist January 1794, and there was no general rule founded on the law of nations respecting private property, which entitled them to the advantages therein offered, after the resistance they had given to his Majesty's forces." The second was, " That the two proclamations of the 10th and 20th of May 1794, never having been acted upon, could not come before the House for their decision; and that the House most cordially agreed on agnin expressing their thanks to Sir Charles Grey and Sir John jervis, in the fame terms that their vote of thanks had been recorded on the Journals of the House on the 10th of May last year." Having stated the proposition he meant to bring forward, and his reasons for so doing, he must, in order to get rid of the motion, first move the previous question.
Sir W. Scott seconded the previous question. He objected to the original motion on the impropriety of the House coming; to any abstract declaration on the law of nations disapproving of proclamations without specifying the principles supposed to be untenable; or expressing any opinion upon things depending in the competent courts, where no strong public interest called for such expression of opinion. The law of nations, he said, had provisions to regulate the mode of war or self-defence. The rights of war were of a delicate nature, depended on particular circumstances, and must bend to those circumstances, and be directed by the wisdom of the Executive Government.—General principles were laid down in a strong manner by writers; but it was on Government we were to rely for a prudent application of them. The rights of war were harsh, but yet were rights that existed; happy would it be if the state of humanity, in that respect, was altered, and war existed no longer—but this was a point more desirable than attainable; for war must be carried on, and being so, must proceed according to its nature. It was not possible to make an innoxious or a peaceable war: The very intent of war being, to compel people, by a fense of suffering, to do what otherwise they would not do. To say that war could exist without suffering, was to refer to something os a different nature.
The general ptinciplc of the law of nations, was to make the private property of the individuals, subjects of the hostile countries, amenable to the rights of war; and its effect was to make every man that was the subject of one state in hostility, the enemy of every subject of the other. The property of every individual in the state composed the property of the
state Rate itself, and was amenable to the rights of war. This, he said, was the law of nations as it existed—sorry should he be if it was to be enforced rigorously; but if the House were to come to a decision on the point, they must necessarily come to one as harsh as that.
For the enforcing and dispensing of those laws, this country had proper courts; first, the court of Admiralty, and next, the court of Appeals. The decision of those courts was as binding as those of any courts of law; indeed more so, for the Legislature had an unlimited power over the municipal laws of the country, while its authority over the law of nations was not of such extent.
In the case of St. Eustatius, the fame principles as those broached this night were laid down in that House by Gentlemen of the first talents: But the court of Admiralty, and the Lords Commissioners of Appeals, attended by Lord Camden and other respectable Judges, determined that the universal principle was, that the private property of individuals was subject to confiscation.
Having, with great learning and perspicuity, stated the law of nations as applicable to a state of war, and the conduct of commanders; Sir William said, to punish error or inadver* tency in the application of those principles, would be to subject them to a responsibility too rigorous for any officer to incur. In the proclamations there might be expressions which, an mature consideration, and better advice than could be expected in actual service, it would be desirable to correct; but this was not the criterion by which the House would judge. They would judge by the intention and the manner in which the proclamations had been acted upon. The affidavits would not be held sufficient evidence in the courts of Admiralty for a decision in any single case ; much less could he consider them as evidence for the House to found a vote upon. All the questions both of law and fact were now at issue in the proper courts, whose decision, where there appeared no public ground for the interposition of the House, was to be preferred. For these reasons he should vote for the previous question, concurring, as he did, most heartily in the proposition for referring to the testimony already given by the House to the merits and services of Sir Charles Grey and Sir John Jervis.
Mr. C. Dundas, as the strongest proof of the integrity of Sir Charles Grey, read extracts of several letters from Sir Charles to General Dundas, on the conduct to be pursued in the conquered islands. In one he said—" With respect to booty, I wish there was no such thing; I am heartily sick of it. We must take care that nothing be done to tarnish the glory of the brilliant i doings doings by you and the brave troops."—In another, regretting the some difficulties, " That contributions, in lieu of booty, had been .fettled with the consent of the several islands."—And in a third, " That the advisers of violent measures ought to be listened to with great caution; that as most of their information came from Frenchmen who had been emigrants, it was to be received with caution; and that such of them as were disposed to violence might be permitted to quit the islands."
Sir William Toting remarked that the proclamations contained principles directly in the teeth of the law of nations, as established by civilians. "Do as yoil would be done by," was in these enlightened and civilized times applicable to a state of War. The exercise of the right of conquest was limited by state use.—jshicwdo hoftis in mcapotejlate eft, hojlis effe definit. It was the duty of the House, Sir William said, to take from au extension of the tight of conquest, the weight of British authority. An army ought never to levy money for itself. The force of the proclamations, although not acted upon, was not done away by the letters from the Secretaries of State. If those ktters were to be inserted by order in the Gazettes of the several islands, he stiould be satisfied. He concurred most heartily in recording the former testimony of the House to the merits of Sir Charles Grey and Sir John Jervis, of which none had a higher sense than he; but if it was to be laid down that resistance of invasion was to incur contributions and confiscation, what planter who had a family to take care of would take up arms.to oppose the enemy?
Mr. Eajl soid, he had never heard but one character of Sir Charles Grey, and he was far from meaning any imputation against him or Sir John Jervis. But if they had been led into an error by misinformation, the House was called upon to correct that error in a stronger way than the Right Hon. Secretary of State proposed. He was therefore against the previous qu-stion.
Colonel XVood. Mr. Speaker, It is seldom, Sir, that I trouble .the House or intrude myself upon your attention; but on the present occasion, when, the characters of two officers are so deeply implicated, of two gentlemen who- from their meritorious and important services have every claim cn the gratitude and on the protection of their country, I should not feel that I had properly discharged my dutv, by merely negativing the proposition of the Hon. Gentleman, without at the same time stating to the House my own opinion upon the subject of the complaints which have been so industriously fabricated by the French West-India planters; and which, were we to attend to, so far from ansv, ering ajiy p.Urycse of justice, .would
Vol. III. . '3K' W be the most: impolitic as well as unjust prosecutions of those two officers of which this House could be guilty.
Let Gentlemen for a moment consider the nature of the papers which have been submitted to the House, and the evidence resulting from them, on which we are called to address his Majesty to make a declaration, the tendency of which would be to condemn the conduct of two officers—for services for whicli they have already received the most flattering acknowledgments of this House, and which so far from being likely to answer the purpose which the West India planters contend, would, on the contrary, be holding out to the inhabitants of the French islands, that confiscations of private property had taken place, the contrary of which we know to be the fact.
The papers upon our table consist of a variety of proclamations which were issued by Sir Charles Grey and Sir John Jervis, as well as by various subordinate officers, inviting the peaceable inhabitants of the French islands to place themselves under their protection, and to accept of terms from which otherwise, by the laws of war, they would be precluded. A Mr. Malifpini, one of the inhabitants of St. Pierre, in the island of Martinique, has made an affidavit, that he had been deprived of his property, and urges at the fame time that he had been one of those peaceable good-intentioned Frenchmen, who wished well to our arms, and had had every inctnation to have accepted of the terms held out by our commanders in their proclamations, but had been overawed by the mulattoes and negroes. Even allowing Mr. Malispini's evidence to be every word truth, and which, considering the evidence which oppose it, would certainly be allowing him much more than what he is entitled to; yet what does it all amount to ? Not that he hail actually conducted himself in such a manner as could by any possible construction give him any claim to the terms offered, but only that he would .have done so, but had been prevented. I much fear that a negative fort of conduct of this fort, unless substantiated much better than what has been done by Mr. Malifpini, would not on any account have entitled him to an exemption from any general contribution or compromise made with the conquerors, for not exacting those rights which the laws of war gave them. To controvert Mr. Malispini's affidavit, not only so far as regards himself, but as to the general conduct of the people of Martinique, we have not only the affidavit of General Myers, but the declaration of many other respectable officers, which prove to us beyond a doubt, that every inch of ground of the island .of Martinique had been contested by the planters and • . inha* inhabitants: That so far from having afforded, in any one respect, assistance to our troops, they had persevered in the most obstinate acts of hostility; and that although they had frequent invitations to surrender upon terms, yet they never shewed the smallest inclination to do so: That the mulattoes and negroes, so far from having overawed the whites, were the only people who shewed the smallest disposition to be friendly, and that the white inhabitants of St. Pierre had distinguished themselves by their active and obstinate opposition.
Were any further proofs relative to their dispositions and republican principles necessary, let us remember that we have it in evidence before us, that every royalist or person in any degree attached to the English, had long ago either been compelled to fly the island and had their estates confiscated, or else had been cruelly butchered by those horrible miscreants and cannibals. Gentlemen may therefore form a pretty tolerable judgment of Mr. Malifpini, and of his principles, from the state of opulence in which he was, under a rigid Sans Culottes government, and that he is ready at present to become a good English subject, if he can only wrest from our soldiers and sailors what they have so dearly earned.
Whether a town be inclosed by a rampart and ditch, or defended by batteries and by ravines, and commanding grounds, the distinction, in my pontemplation, so far as regards the Jaws of war, and rights of the conqueror, is not material. In regard to the good or bad policy of exercising those rights js another question, regarding which no doubt Gentlemen will differ; and on the present occasion it would appear that Government had differed a little from the two commanders in chief, but still the right remained the fame, nnd cannot be disputed. On this account it would be hard indeed were officers to be liable to censure. ■
For my own part, so far from thinking that any pari os our Jate disasters in the West Indies is imputable to having treated the planters at Martinique and Guadaloupe with severity, 1 am of totally a different opinion, and that in place of adopting those lenient and humane measures, we had governed them by rigid Sans Culottes discipline, removing from those islands those freebooters and vagabonds, who are the bane of every regular government, and until peace was re-established,, kept up severe military law—I say, that had we adopted this line of.conduct, I am of opinion that we should not only have retained Quadaioupe, but have prevented other disasters.
I jet Gentlemen for a moment turn their eyes to the late horrid scenes at St. Vincent's and at Grenada, the principal instigators and actors in which are those very planters who have
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