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tion. existed in the fleet. The 351,0001. and the increased eighth answer was, that'no such appear in the expense of victualling to ance had been observed there, and 115,000/.; making 536,000l. for one it was supposed that the petitions year. It should, however, be obhad been framed for the purpose served, that the estimate of victualhe suspected.
ling was founded upon an old rate, On the morning of the 22d of when provisions were much cheaper March, the day after bis Jordship than at present. What the actual was able to come to town, one of sum wanted would be, he could not the lords of the admiralty, since ab- say; but he would take the total sent on service, happening to call sum for nine months, beginning in upon his lordship, he related these April, at 372,0001. He therefore particulars to him, shewed him the moved,“ that a sum not exceeding petitions, and sent them the same 372,0001 be granted to his majesty, day to bis house in the office, that to enable him to defray the expense they might be communicated to the of the increased pay of the seamen first lord of the admiralty. Of the and marines, and the full allowance subsequent events he had no other of provisions." knowledge than such as was to be Mr. Fox said, that he should conobtained from the newspapers. He sider it as a dereliction of his duty, vindicated the character of the if he gave the silent vote that was British seamen in general, whom called for. It was not from discushe described as open hearted and sion, but from silence, that the pregenerous, but sometimes too easily sent mischief had proceeded. If misled.
when it was first known that the What we have now related may seamen were dissatisfied, the house be considered rather as an irregular had been considered as entitled to conversation than as a debate; but the confidence of ministers, and the the subject was more formally in business had been properly discussed, troduced in the house of commons the eve its of Easter would not have by the chancellor of the exchequer, taken place. Or if immediately afon the 8th of May; but not till af- ter Easter the question had been ter the mutiny had broken out a openly agitated, we should not now second time with still more alarm- be reduced to such a situation But ing symptoms. He said, he was the scandalous delay of a fortnight, well aware, that when proposing to which Ministers had interposed, and increase the public burthens, he for which he hoped they would be should be expected to say some made to answer, seerned to have thing of the causes that led to the been purposely meant to give room augmentation. In the present in- for misrepresentation. After obstance, however, prudence and po- serving that the idea of smothering licy would prevent his entering into the present business by secrecy was any discussion; and he entreated like silly children who think nothe house rather to trust to their body can see them when they shut silent judgment, than to agitate a their eyes; and after advising the subject, of which the slightest mis- house not to confide ip ministers at representation might give cause to once incapable and criminal, Mr. the most alarming effects.
Fox concluded by stating directly, He then proceeded to state, that that he approved highly of the inthe increase of pay to the different tended addition, but that he wished classes of men would amount to to be made acquainted with the circumstances that rendered it ne- little as possible ought to be said. cessary.
He observed, that, on the 26th of Mr. Pitt said, that the right hon. April, the petition of the seamen gentleman had himself shewn that was referred to a committee of the there was no need of explanation, lords of the admiralty. Their resince, while knowing no more than port was made to the king in counany other man, he declared bimself cil, and as soon as it was approved ready to vote for the motion. of, directions were immediately
During the rest of the debate, given at the proper offices to preMessrs. Pitt, Fox, and Sheridan, the pare an estimate of the sum to only speakers, went nearly over the which he intended augmentation same ground; the former justifying in the wages of the seamen would the delay, and declining discusssion, amount; and as soon as that estiand the two latter reprobating the mate was ready, it was laid before affected secrecy and tardy measures the house, and the sum was voted. of the ministers.
From these circumstances, there was The resolution then passed, and no ground to suppose that it was was ordered to be reported imme, not the intention of the executive diately.
government to propose such mea· The subject was renewed on the sures as might serve to satisfy the following day by Mr. Whitbread. demands of the seamen. He conConsidering the impression of men's cluded with observing, that he minds relative to the disturbances should propose a bill to be carried at Portsmouth, he rose not tu in- , through all its stages in the most quire into the causes of that affair, expeditious manner; this he should but to press upon the chancellor of do as the best way of removing all the exchequer a question which doubts' as to the executive governhad been distinctly proposed to him ment. the night before, and to which no Mr. Fox said, that after the ex. answer bad been given. : He then planation which had just been asked why the proposition for the given, he could not help observing augmentation of the pay of the sea that the delay complained of was men bad not been moved for before an intolerable and fatal peglect of the preceding evening? It might duty. In his opinion, mipisters have prevented the disastrous con- were guilty of delay both before and sequences. Unless a satisfactory ex. after the fact. The history of the planation was given of so fatal a de transaction was, that in Easter week lay, for which the honourable gen- complaints had existed in the fleet. tleman was responsible to that house meetings of delegates had taken and to the country, it was his inten- place, and various other circumtion to move a direct vote of censure stances happened. A letter was against bim.
1; in written from the admiralty upon The chancellor of the exchequer the subject of these complaints, acknowledged that he certainly was which stamped upon them a charesponsible, provided there was any racter of incapacity the most dlemisconduct imputable to any person grant, or want of talents for acting on the occasion alludeds tó. - He upon a great and difficult crisis, would not then, however, 'enter in- unexampled in the annals of any to any discussion on the risubject, administration. This letter pot hay. concerning srwhich he thought as ing produced any effect, a second
had been sent, with which the sea. mised motion, for a censure of bis' men were said to be satisfied, and conduct on account of delay in this on which they were to return to affair. He moved, “ That a mestheir duty. This transaction had sage should be sent to the lords, to taken place on Sunday morning, the desire that they would continue sito 23d of April. Under all the cir- ting for some tiine.” cumstances with which this affair When the speaker was about to was accompanied, he would submit put the question, Mr. Fox said, that tó any impartial mind, whether the motion of his honourable friend, this was any occasion for tardy whenever it should be made, would fornis and official delays?
have his warm support, if it even It was the duty of ministers, af- went to supersede the executive goter they had recognised the dele. vernment ; for the executive gogates from the seamen, with whom vernment, as it was then conducted, they treated, to have lost no time was an insult to the country. Mr. in completing the promise they had Baker called to order; he thought made, and so to have finished the that nothing could be more out of transaction; instead of which they order, nor more dangerous than took no step till the 26th of April, what he had just heard. Mr. Fox three days after the agreement had explained. The minister's motion been made. They waited, it was was agreed to, and Mr. Pybus was said, for the opinion of the council, ordered to carry up the request to “ Was this the time, said Mr. Fox, the house of lords. to wait for the opinion of the coun. After the resolution of the com. cil, when the active members of ad- mittee of supply was read, which ministration formed the most ef. passed the day before, for the augficient part of that council ?" The mentation of the pay of the sea. order of council at length appeared men, the chancellor of the excheon the 3d of May. But it was not quer moved for leave to bring in a till the sth of May that the propo- bill pursuant to the said resolution. sition was made to the house of Leave was given to bring in the commons.
bill; and it was ordered to be an Mr. Whitbread and Mr. Sheridan instruction to the persons appointed supported the same arguments, to to bring it in, that they should make prove the unnecessary delay of the provision in it for granting a full al. minister in this important affair. lowance to wounded seamen, and to In some cases, they said he was empower seamen to remit part of famous for celerity: he avoided all their additional allowance for the delay, and set aside all forms, in support of their wives, children, or granting the imperial loan; he was mothers. so anxious upon that measure, that A s soon as the upper house had he would not wait for three days, greed to the request of the comalthough it was notorious, that in. mons, the bill was brought in, read telligence was expected to arrive a first and second time, and passed which would put that loan 'out of through every stage ; and also sent the question.
, to the lords that day, wbo passed it To these accusations the chan through all its stages; when it imcellor of the exchequer replied, it mediately received the royal assent was indifferent to him when Mr. by commission. Whitbtread brought forward his pro- The mutiny of the seamed at
Portsmouth bad been appeased but cite mutiny was a fact so notorious, a few weeks, as we have already that no reasonable man could reseen, before another broke out a- fuse his assent to it. His official mong the same class of men, at the situation bad enabled him to acNore, which in magnitude and au- quire evidence of the existence of dacity greatly exceeded the former. the attempts which this measure
On the first of June bis majesty went to remove. Seditious persons sent a message to bath houses of had at secret hours circulated handparliament, acquainting them, with bills of a dangerous tendency, for the deepest concern “ that the con- the purpose of attracting the noduct of the crews of some of his tice of the soldiers in the army; sbips then at the Nore, in persisting these attempts had been connected in the most violent and treasonable by a regular and concerted system, acts of mutiny and disobedience, and were not casual, or confined to notwithstanding the full extension particular spots, but diffused all to them of all the benefits which over the country, appearing in difhad been accepted with gratitude ferent and distant places on the by the rest of the fleet, and offers of same day, At Newcastle, at Notpardon on returning to their duty, tingham, at Maidstone, and various had compelled his majesty to call other places, their proofs of conon all his subjects - to give their as, cert, of system and design, had been sistance in repressing such criminal found to occur. False and unproceedings. That he had laid be founded rumours were echoed and fore them a copy of a proclamation re-echoed, that these attempts had which he had issued for that pur succeeded in some instances, in orpose; and that he recommended it der, by such report, to encourage to the consideration of parliament to the attempts in other places with make more effectual provision for the hopes and example of this sucthe prevention and punishment of cess. all traitorous attempts to excite se. The circumstances recorded in difdition and motiny in his service, by ferent band-bills were all of them sea or land.”
equally false: the same seamen who On the following day, the chan- had been worked upon by handcellor of the exchequer moved an bills, stating the disaffection and address of the commons to his ma- mutiny of their comrades in a difjesty, upon the subject of his most ferent part, were themselves repregracious message, and after a de 'sented to these comrades as having bate of some length, the address was' set the same example. Thę atagreed to nem. con.
tempts made to seduce the soldiery, The chancellor of the exchequer he said, were notorious; and strong then moved for leave to bring in a suspicion lay, that the like attempts bill for the better prevention and had been made upon the sailors since punishment of all attempts to excite the melancholy fact of the existence sedition and mutiny in his majesty's of a mutiny had been proved to service; and the attorney-general, that house; and it was well known having seconded the motion, pro- that mutiny was not of native feeded to state to the house the growth among our seamen. The grounds upon which the proposed knowledge of such attempts, as to bill was founded. The frequency the army, was sufficient to autho. and malignancy of attempts to ex. rise the supposition of their existence
with regard to the navy. He then pression of the emergency of affairs stated the insufficiency of the exist- could have induced him to recoming laws to punish the offences in mend the punishment of death for question. At present, he said, to this offence; a punishment which excite a soldier to desert was no he thought was already too much more than a common misdemean- multiplied in the statute-books; and our ; but surely, when that incite, he wished to be understood, even in ment was made with an intention this case, that the act should be li. to create mutiny and desertion in mited as to its duration. order to destroy the government, it The chancellor of the exchequer was as dangerous as the worst spe observed, that he would have the decies of treason. The measure which scription of the bill state the general he suggested was, to put the offence nature of it, and a blank left for the upon the footing of an aggravated committee, to be filled up with the misdemeanour, and leave it to the punishinent. He then moved, that discretion of judges to punish it it be read a first time, which was with transportation, in the same carried: it was then read a second manner as was provided by the bill time, and committed to a committee wbich passed the year before, for of the whole house for the next day. punishing sedition. He considered On that day, upon the motion ihe offence, however beinous, as that the Speaker should leave the not so specific as treason.
chair, Mr. Hobhouse observed, that Mr. serjeant Adair, expressed his he would not object to the bill, if opinion, that the punishment pro- three points could be made clear to posed, and the description of the the house. The first was, that the offence, were extremely inadequate; mutiny among the seamen did not and that the proposed punishment originate from themselves, but arose was insufficient to prevent such from the incitement and seduction practices. He thought that the title of others; the second, that the laws, of the bill should be," for the more as they now stood, were inadequate effectual preventing and punishing to prevent and punish that offence; of attempts to excite mutiny and and the third, that the bill then ofsedition: and if such was termed fered would answer that purpose. the offence, to inflict such punish- He believed that there might be ment as the law applied in capital wicked incendiaries working upon cases. He objected to the offence the army and navy, with a design being called a misdemeanour, be- to make them, instruments for the cause he conceived that no punish- overthrow of the state. The fact ment which could be inflicted for a of hand-bills being distributed both misdemeanour would be adequate in the country and in the metropolis to this offence, which ought to be incontestibly proved, that there was punished with death. He proposed - a band of emissaries, all acting in that the description of the offence concert for that purpose. But upon should be felony, in which case it the other points he could not agree would be most easy and expeditious with the chancellor of the exchewith respect to the trial; and if quer. . He thought the existing laws there should be any degree of doubt adequate to the punishment of the of the guilt of any person, the laws offenders, were they to be put in applicable to felony would apply. force. The common law prescribed Nothing, in his mind, but the im- six years imprisonment, and stand