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CHA P. IV.
Free Negroes in the Island of Jamaica.Hunted by Blood-Hounds.-Motion, by Mr. Grey, in the Houfe of Commons, for an Inquiry into the State of the Nation.-Negatived.-Farther Taxes.-For paying the Interest of an additional Loan-Mortality among the Troops fent against the French Wen-India Islands.-Neglect and Diftrefes of the Troops.-Motion for Documents on thefe Subjects by Mr. Sheridan.-Debates thereon.—Mr. Sheridan's Motion agreed to.-Motion, in the House of Peers, for the Production of Papers respecting a Vote of Parliament, in 1783, recognizing the Neceffity of certain Public Reforms.-Debates thereon.-The Motion negatived. Report of the Committee of Supply on the Refolution for granting a Subfidy to the King of Sardinia.-Converfation on that Subject. -Charges laid against Miniflry, by Mr. Grey, as Ground of Impeachment; and a Motion on that Subject.-Negatived.-Motions, in both Houfes of Parliament, against the Continuation of the War.Negatived.Motion, by Mr. Wilberforce, for the Abolition of the Slave-Trade, on a certain Day.-Negatived. The Seffion of Parliament clofed by a Speech from the Throne
HE hoftilities against the free negroes, in the inland of Jamaica, known by the denomination of maroons, had been carried on a long time without effect. The force employed against them amounted to five thousand men; but the difficulty of coming at their receffes, and frequently of discovering them, had fruftrated the repeated attempts of this force, though it had omitted nothing that valour and perfeverance could fuggeft: and yet, thofe maroons were but a handful of men, hardly confifting of fix hundred bearing arms. The improbability of compelling them to fubmit, by the ufual methods of fighting, in duced the government of Jamaica, as ftated in our laft volume, to have recourfe to the mode adopted by the Spaniards in fimilar cafes. It applied to the Spanish inhabitants of the ifland of Cuba, and obtained
Spanish cruelty, it was faid, afforded no precedent or excufe for English
inacreffible. In fuch circumftances our people could not be blamed for employing the neceffary means to fecure themfelves, and to annoy fo ferocious an enemy. The motion, therefore, he faid, was not fufficiently grounded, to comply with it, without an accurate inquiry into particulars. The mere rumour, however, he acknowledged, had induced miniftry to fignify its difapprobation of fuch a measure to the government at Jamaica.
General Macleod brought this fubject into the house of commons, on the twenty-fixth of February, and complained of the difgrace attending fuch a measure. He was anfwered, that it was a matter of neceflity, and not of choice; that the maroons maffacring, without mercy, every one that fell into their hands, they could be confidered in no other light than murderers, and deferved extermination by any means that could be employed to that purpose.
The general moved, however, on the twenty-first of March, for an addrefs to the king, requesting he would direct the papers, concerning the maroon-war, to be laid before the house. He grounded his motion on a letter from Jamaica, ftating the facts above-mentioned: he defcribed the maroons as a free people, proprietors of the country they inhabited. He mentioned it, as cuftomary among the Spaniards, in Cuba, to feed their blood-hounds on human flefh, in order to render them ferocious but could a British parliament, he faid, connive at fuch atrocities, and encourage fo inhuman a spirit in British officers and
Mr. Dundas replied, that the maroons had commenced hoftilities againft our people, at Jamaica, without any reasonable provocation, and had exercifed great barbarities in profecuting them. It was their practice to fally forth from their faftneffes in the night, and to furprize the planters; multitudes of whom they maffacred: after which, they retreated to the woods and mountains, the passes to which were
On Mr. Dundas's affuring the general that difpatches of this tenor had been fent, he withdrew his motion: not however till Mr. Sheridan expatiated on the fubject, in anfwer to Mr. Barham, who had reprefented the maroons as rebels; but whom the former juftified, in their refentment of the punishment inflicted upon one of their people, who ought, according to treaty, to have been delivered up to his countrymen, to be tried and punished by them for the mildemeanour of which he had been guilty.
In the mean time, a report was daily gaining ground, that the plans of miniftry embraced fuch a multiplicity of objects, that new demands would fhortly be made of means to carry them into execution. Their opponents thought it expedient, for that reafon, to call the attention of the public to the fituation of the national finances, in order that a juft idea might be formed of the conduct of ministers in this effential department. On the tenth of March, this fubject was brought into the house of commons, by Mr. Grey: who observed, that, in whatever circumstances the country might be placed, whether of war or of peace, the ftricteft economy was become more difpen
fible than ever. France would indubitably aim at the formation of a refpectable marine, and fo would every power that could in any degree maintain its confideration at fea. Our inconteftible fuperiority on the ocean rendered us an object of univerfal envy and dread; and thefe were cogent motives with all the Europeans to feek for our depreffion: but they were no lefs urgent to induce this country to preferve that fuperiority, without which our internal fecurity was evidently precarious; but, had we been fufficiently attentive to the means of preferving it? Had we not lavished, with fcandalous profufion, immenfe fums, for which no adequate fervices had been performed? Seventy-feven millions had, in the courfe of the laft three years, been added to the public debts; to pay the intereft of which, taxes had been laid, amounting to two millions fix hundred thousand pounds. The expences of former wars, how ever great, did not equal thofe of the prefent; and yet thofe wars were more extenfive and important in their object than the prefent. In the conteft that loft us America minifterial profufion was notorious; the debt contracted did not, however, exceed fixty-three millions, notwithstanding the duration of that fatal quarrel was twice what this had now been; and we had all Europe to contend with. When the prefent war began, the minifter engaged, in a folemn manner, to obviate, by every poffible means, extraordinaries of all kinds; but how had he kept his word? notwithflanding the moft liberal grants that ever minifter had experienced, the extraordinaries of the navy amounted to thirteen millions feven
hundred thoufand pounds, while the commerce of this country had fuf fered more from the enemy than in any preceding quarrel; the extraordinaries of the army were nine millions. Thefe were unconfcionable expences, as, notwithstanding the advance of price in all articles of public or private demand, they had not rifen to fuch a height as to juftify the difference between the coft of the present and of former wars.
The extraordinaries of the nine years war, from the revolution to the peace of Ryfwick, in 1697, were
twelve hundred thoufand pounds. Thofe of eleven years war, in the reign of queen Anne, were two millions. They did not together amount to one-half of the extraordinaries of the prefent year: the caufe of this increase of expence was not fo much the difference of price in neceflary articles, many of which continued the fame in this refpect as at that day, as the addition of unneceflary expences The extraordinaries and the votes of credit, in 1778, 79, and 80, were lefs by three millions two hundred thousand pounds than the prefent: in the ordnance, the extraordinaries arole to near three millions. Thefe augmentations in the national expences were obvioufly unconftitutional, as they were made without parliamentary fanction. The total cf the money thus expended was upwards of thirtyone millions; and together with that voted by the parliainent amounted to fixty-fix millions eight hundred thoufand pounds. This immente fum had been expended in three years of an inglorious and ruinous war. Another unconftitutional proceeding, of a moft alarming nature, was the erection of barracks. These
were juftly, by judge Blackstone, ftyled inland fortrelles, and were undeniably intended to feparate the military from the civil claffes, and to keep the latter in awe by means of the former. They had been erected too without confulting parliament, and had coft, fince the year 1790, eleven hundred thoufand pounds, and more was now demanded for their completion. Minifterial demands of loans from the bank were allo become, of late, enormous, and intirely repugnant to the primitive motives of its inftitution, which were to aflift the mercantile tranfactions of the kingdom, and to maintain its commercial credit: but it had, in many refpects, degenerated into an engine of ftate:/it was now near twelve millions in advance to government. Mr. Grey entered into other particulars, to fhew the irregularity prevailing in the financial departments. He concluded by affirming, in confequence of farther details, that the national revenue fell fhort of the peace-eftablishment by two millions and a half, the latter being twentytwo millions, the former only nineteen millions five hundred thousand pounds. Thus we should be loaded with farther taxes to fupply that deficiency, even were a peace to enfue. On thefe premifes, he moved that the house fhould refolve itfelf into a committee, to inquire into the ftate of the nation.
The pofitions of Mr. Grey were controverted by Mr. Jenkinfon, who maintained, that the commercial fituation of Great Britain, notwithftanding the weight of fo great a war, was more profperous than at any antecedent periods. The average of exports, during the three laff years of peace, the molt flourish
ing ever known in this country, was twenty-two millions five hundred and eighty-five thoufand pounds; and the fame average for the laft three years of war was twenty-four millions four hundred and fifty-three thoufand. The advantage in the borrowing of money, at prefent, was one and a half per cent. greater than during the American war. At the clofe of the war in 1748 the national debt was eighty millions, in 1762 one hundred and forty: but had the prefent fyftem, of appropriating a million annually to the extinction of that debt, been fortunately adopted at the first of thefe periods, that heavy load would now have been totally thrown off the nation. The expenditure of this war was, doubtlefs, immenfe; but the exertions, to which it was applied, were of no lefs magnitude. Never was the energy of this country fo aftonif ingly difplayed, nor its refources fo wonderfully proved our fleets and armies were in a far fuperior condition, both as to numbers and equipment, to thofe maintained in the American war. It was unfair to complain of increafing expences. The augmentation of price in all the articles of life and focial intercourfe, added, of confequence, the fame proportion of increafe in military expences; nor ought the fubfidies to our allies to be reputed extravagant, confidering their utility to the common caufe, by enabling these to act much more effectually against the foe, than if they were left to their fole exertions. The preffures of the enemy fhewed how wifely the treatures of this country had been employed in ftrengthening the power of his continental adverfaries, while our fucceflès at fea had reduced him to the lowest
ftate of debility he had ever experienced on that element: it was, therefore, neither juft nor prudent to reprefent this country as diftreffed, and its minifters as unworthy of confidence, and incapable of discharging their duty. They had hewn themselves adequate to the various talks impofed on them by the arduous contingencies of the war, and had not merited the afperfions fo repeatedly caft upon them. There had been a time when far greater ftretches of minifterial power were beheld without complaint. In the reigns of George I. and II. fuch was the implicit truft of the times in their integrity, that millions had paffed through their hands for fecret fervices, of which an explanation was not required. Hence it appears, that, the vigilance of parliament in former days, however exalted above that of the prefent, was, in truth, not to be compared with that anxious and groundlefs jealoufy with which the opponents to miniftry watched over all its proceedings, in order to difcover how they could render, them fufpicious to the public. On thefe grounds, he confidered the motion as illfounded, and deferving no fupport from those who viewed the conduct of minifters impartially, and with a determination to liften without prejudice to what they allege in their defence, as well as to the imputations and furmifes laid to their charge.
Mr. Curwen, Mr. Robinfon, and Mr. Martin, fupported the motion; Mr. Steele opposed it, and stated the extraordinaries to be much lower than represented by Mr. Grey. The expence of the barracks had not, he affirmed, exceeded fix hundred and ten thousand pounds, and one
hundred and fifty thousand would fufice to complete them: but Mr. Grey infifted on the accuracy of his own ftatements, and particularly reprobated the mifapplication of the money appropriated by parliament to specific purposes; a practice, he ob'erved, fo unconftitutional, that it had been condemned, in terms of the greatest severity, even fo long ago as the reign of queen Anne, on . fo flight an occafion as the applying of fix thousand pounds to the ule of the army, inftead of the navy, for which it had been intended. His motion, however, was negatived by another for the order of the day, which was carried by two hundred and feven votes, against forty-five.
The plans formed by miniftry were fo extenfive, and the determination, to carry them into the fpeedicft execution, founded upon fo fanguine a hope of fuccefs, that the fupplies already granted not appearing fufficient, parliament was again reforted to for the raifing an additional fupply, and the fanction of another loan. A circumftance fo new and extraordinary excited univerfal astonishment: two budgets and two loans in the fame feffion, to ufe the common phrafe, were a novelty, in the political fyftem of this country, of an alarming nature, and which the maxims of good economy did not appear to warrant in the difficult pofition in which it now flood.
Mr. Pitt was duly fenfible of the repugnance to fo unprecedented a meafure. After apologifing for the neceffity that compelled him to adopt it, and expreffing his confi dence that the refources of the country would render it much lighter on trial than it feemed in the apprehenfion of many, he proceeded