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fitted for the various purposes of war? No man on such an occasion will grudge to tranfact his bufiness on foot; your Lordships will be proud to set the example by walking. down to this House; and the sex, I speak it to their hoa nour, will on such an occasion be content to stay at home. Do you want ships? Why not hire all the merchantmen and small craft, which can be speedily fitted for your purpose? As to large ships, let our enemies build them, and let us truft to our gallant admirals and the tars of old England, to conduct them into the ports of Great Britain. Do you want money? Scruple not the imposition of taxes at this moment. Property is the creature of civil society; the State has a right to all individual property if it is wanted for the general safety; and as the money, thus raised, will circulate amongst ourselves, wealth may chance to change hands, but the nation will not be impoverished. These or measures such as these, if brought forward with promptitude and executed with vigour, may, when modified by parliamentary wisdom, save the country. I dread the genius, I dread the power, I dread the intrigue of the enemy, and above all, I dread the effect of that political paralysis, with which, by his arms and by his intrigues, he has deadened the activity of every cabinet on the Continent-Yet I firmly rely on the courage, and on the unanimity of this country to repel an invafion. Of this country did I say? I certainly meant to include Ireland in my idea ; the testimony which the yesterday gave us, in his Majesty's message, of her attachment to us, warmed my heart; it put to flight from my imagination the terrors excited by the apprehenfion of an hundred thousand Frenchmen. No personal fervices, no privation of luxuries, no diminution of property ought to be complained of while we are struggling for our existence as a free people. For my own part I had rather live upon oat bread and water, and be shod with the wooden clogs of Westmoreland for the rest of my life, as a free subject of this limited monarchy, than be pampered with all the delicacies, cockered with all the luxuries of this luxurious town, as a slave of the French Republic
The Earl of Darnley made a variety of observations upon the measure under confideration. He condemned a great part of the conduct of Ministers with respect to the volunteer system; yet conceived, that under the present circumstances of the country, the bill contained some beneficial provisions which ought speedily to be carried into effect. There was little of system, le observed, in the conduct of Ministers
relative relative to the subject in question; and as to some points, on which the idea of a breach of faith was held forth, he thought it could not well apply, when the many allowances, and the unlimited power of resignation were considered. His Lordship animadverted upon some of the detailed prović fions of the bill reipedting naintenance and discipline, but observed, there were inany important confiderations connedted with the hili, which could more regularly be discusfed in the Committee.
Lord Romney entered into a general defence of the volun: teer system, and of the zeal, ardour, and courage of those who composed it. He contended that a force had been raised greater than ever had before been known in this country, and though they certainly ad not ihe discipline of complete regular troops, yet they were a description of force which would enable this country to look with contempt upon the attacks of the enemy. With respect to this bill, he thought it contained many regulations which would tend to improve and meliorate that system; and, therefore, he should give it his entire support.
The Duke of Somerset-My Lords, I mean to trouble your Lordships with but very few words upon this question. In giving my vote for the second reading of this bill, I would not be understood to give a full and unqualified approbation to the volunteer fyftem. My reason for withing that fyftem to be continued is, that it has been carried so far. I thould think it dangerous to attempt to change it for any other, at a time when the enemy is so near, and so foon to be expected. As to the expediency of submitting to any burthen, or any measure, however grievous, in preference to falling under French tyranny, I perfectly agree with the learned prelate. For me to enter into a discussion of the various topics connected with this question, after fo much has been already said upon it, would be to intrude upon your Lordships' time. My object in rifing, was merely to state my reason for afsenting to the second reading of this bill; and to restrict, in some degree, the approbation which I Iball certainly give, to a continuation of the volunteer system.
The Earl of Fife faid, the question then before their Lordships was, that the bill be read a second time. He said that he could not help observing, there had been great irregularity in the debate, by almost entirely departing from the question. He assured their Lordships that he should not take up much of their time. He was too far advanced in life to have any
e measures, havinicial correspoves; he rofeca
object in speaking, but from public duty. He would not waste time in complimenting Ministers on the wisdom of their measures, having very little acquaintance with any of them, except from official correspondence, and he did not even know who were their opposers; he rose as an old volunteer, feeling it his indispensable duty to do justice to that species of force, which upon every occasion had acted with honour and spirit. He said he could not but regret, that many reflections had been thrown out in speeches and in publications against the volunteer systein (which term he should use notwithstanding it had been disapproved of by a noble Lord), some from ignorance and folly, and others, he was afraid, from worse principles. His Lordship was confident that the most malicious insinuations would not raise a jealousy between the volunteers and regular arıy; it was i heir joint honour and interest to support each other. The numerous body of volunteers all over this kingdom, certainly must appear to our enemies a formidable bulwark of defence of our King, our Constiution, our Religion, and every thing dear 10 us.—He had great experience last war in raising volunteers in the county where he has the honour to he Lord Lieutenant. He has at this time a very considerable number, and might have had a great many more, had Government accepted of the offers ; and he was proud to say during all that period he never had occasion to make a complaint to the War Office but one, and that was of a captain returning a lieutenant present when absent, and he was superseded. His Lord'hip was of opinion that the volunteers certainly had the power of resigning, but at the same time he was fully convinced that they would never desire to exercise that right fo long as their country requi.ed their services ; and he said he should have regrelted ii extremely had any meafure been adopied which thould make any alteration in their voluntary and patriotic offers. He was happy to have this opportunity of complimeniing a noble and learned Lord on a decision which had done him great honour and given universal satisfaction. Ar the same time, with all the atiachment which his Lordship said he had to the volunteer system, he could never agree to allow the men the power of choosing their own officers : he had heard of the existence of such a practice, but in the part of the country he was connected with, it had never been heard or thought of ; no practice appeared to him to be more dangerous. His Lordship coincided pera fearly in the sentiments fo ably stated by a Reverend Prelate, VOL. II. 1803-4.
which it was unnecessary for him to repeat.-He concluded by saying, that there were many clauses in the bill before the House which he highly approved of, and therefore gove it his entire support.
Lord Grenville began by exprefling his fatisfaction that those who found it their duty to oppose the bill, were not now lupposed to be enemies to the volunteer system. le would in. deed be strange, that those who liad used the uimoft exer. tions to consolida e inat system, should for a moment be considered as individuals who wished it to be diffolved, even under the present critical circumstances of the empire. No man, he would affirm, could entertain a higher idea than he did of the zeal, the energy and the spirit of the people of Eng. land, and no idea could be more monltrous ihan to suppose that four hundred thousand volunteers, who had stepped forward in defence of the liberties and independence of their country, would not be fund capable 'of ihe most important services. It was not that he doubred of the courage of the volun'eers of England, but it was keeping in view, that those whom they were to encounier were troops of undoubted courage, and who had enjoyed ibe advantage of a degree of discipline obiained in not less than Iwelve campaigns, in which they were opposed to all the best disciplined troops in Europe. With the knowledge of the enemy to be opposed, it was undoubtedly the duty of Ministers to have directed their principal attention to that description of force which was to be encountered. In the present bill his Lordship declared that he saw not the slightest evidence of a regular military system. Since the commencement of the war, he had hitlerto seen no evidence of a syftem adequate to the crisis in which we were placed, the various parts of which had any reasonable degree of relation or connection. What he had principally to object to the volunteer system, as it at present ftoud, was, that it had stood in the way of every other department of the national defence. The recruiting not merely of the regulars, but the filling up of the militia, had been materially affected by the provision which the bill now contained. A noble Lord oppofite had stared one fad, which effeétually proved ihe assertion which he had submitted 10 their Lord'hips' confideration. The fact to which he referred was, that in the county of Keni, al the breaking out of the war, there were not more than ihirty-seven individuals einbodied out of the whole quora required for that district. Could there, he desired to ask their Lord!hips, be a inore de
cisive proof of the improvidence and culpable neglect of Ministers? Was it not admitted that the peace was not considered to be lasting? Was it not allowed by Ministers themselves that, during the short interval of peace, ihe whole condust of the enemy had been one uniform fyftem of violence and aggreffion? On what principle it was, then, that the Ministers disbanded the militia, or were so back ward in reembodying them, he could not pretend to decide. Their conduct in this instance, was hardly reconcilable to any of the ordinary principles of human affairs. It was a subject of considerable intereit to look to the successive measures of Minifters for the defence of the country. The filt in any point of view cale::lated to secure ihe augmentation of the regular army, was the bill for raising the army of reserve. But how was the operation of this act encouraged by subsequen! proceedings? The conduct of Ministers was characterised by their usual confusion and irregularity. They immediately introduced the general desence act, and much rime was eina ployed in reducing this measure to any degree of consistency. Hardly i wo days elapsed, before in iwo or three lines the whole measure is rendered nugatory. Minilters take on themselves to hold forth that voluntary offers of servise fhail be commuted for the provisions of the general train.. ing act. Not contented with this, they introduce a molt extensive and unparalleled fyftem of exemptions. They go so far as to introduce into a volunteer bill, provifions exempting not only from the ballots for the militia and army of reserve, then in existence, but from all ballots wlich might afterwards be appointed by a solemn aa of the Legislature. What the effect of such a syftcin was, bie needed not to enlarge on. Il must be obvious to every noble Lord who took the trouble to exercise his judgment on the subject, that such provifions were utrerly incompatible with the existence of a regular army. He delired their Lord'hips to reflect on what had been done for the inilitary defence of the country fince the commencement of the prefent le:livn of Parliament.--About five months had already elapsed, and ali ihat had bitherto been brought forward to perfect our military system was, to lay on the table of their Lordilips a bill which he must be forgiven in pronouncing altogether nugatory. It struck him ibat ile bill was quite inefficient in any great object, not only from the absence of many important provisions, but from the presence of others which were not only ulelels, but, in his view, highly reprc