Sayfadaki görseller
PDF
ePub

by Parliament. George III., on the contrary, gave up his hereditary revenues; which, if he had enjoyed them up to the present period, would have placed His Majesty in a much better pecuniary situation than that in which he actually stood. A more peculiar delicacy ought, therefore, in his opinion, to be observed with regard to His Majesty's property, not only than to that of any former Sovereign, but, he had almost said, of any private individual, since His Majesty's consideration for the public interest had induced him to act with so generous a liberality towards his people. All, however, that he (Mr. Canning) desired was, that the same security should be afforded to His Majesty's private property as was given by the laws to the private property of the meanest of his subjects; and that the first monarch of his race who had reposed an unlimited trust in his people's justice, should not be also the first whose property was to be invaded by a rude and unsparing hand in the hour of sickness, age, and helplessness. It was nothing to him to be told that His Majesty was insensible, and could not know it—that he was blind and could not see it—that he was deaf, and could not hear it. He (Mr. Canning) should not be able, from such considerations, to derive any consolation for any wrong done to his Sovereign. He could not lose the memory of what his King had been, in the contemplation of what he was. He could not forget that the greater part of that period during which the House of Brunswick had governed these realms—a period which had been emphatically termed the reign of constitutional liberty–had been passed under His Majesty's happy rule. He could not forget how materially the unstained character, the faultless example of His Majesty, during a storm of near thirty years' duration, which threatened the stability of his throne and the independence of his kingdom, had contributed to save the country both from external and internal danger. In his present secluded and melancholy condition,

166 all nature left a blank,
And knowledge at one entrance quite shut out,”

a ruin, it was true, but a venerable ruin, the infirmities of the King were any thing but an argument against his rights. “ Scathed by Heaven's lightning," but consecrated as much as blasted by the blow, he yet exhibited to the awe and veneration of mankind, a mighty monument of strength and majesty in decay. He stood, like the oak of the poet stripped of that luxuriant foliage, and spreading those denuded arms, which had afforded shelter to successive generations,

“ Et trunco non frondibus efficit umbram."

Let not the House, then, listen to the suggestions of trenching upon the property of such a Sovereign-guaranteed to him as it was by justice and by law, and protected by every compact and by every sentiment that linked the frame of society together.

The House divided

Ayes ...
Noes.

247
137

Majority.

110

VOTE OF THANKS TO THE MARQUIS OF HASTINGS, AND THE BRITISH

ARMY IN INDIA.

MARCH 4th, 1819.

the war.

MR. CANNINGMR. SPEAKER,—I rise, in pursuance of the notice given by me to the House at the opening of the session, to propose a Vote of Thanks to the Marquis of Hastings, and to the Officers and Troops who served under his command during the late Campaign in India. This vote, I wish the House to understand, is intended merely as a tribute to the military conduct of the campaign, and not in any wise as a sanction of the policy of

I feel it necessary to state this reservation the more emphatically, lest, from my having deferred my proposition until the papers, which the Prince Regent was graciously pleased to direct to be laid before us, had been for some time in the hands of the members of this House, any apprehension should be entertained that I wished the policy of the measures adopted in India to be discussed on this occasion, with the view of conveying in the Vote of Thanks an implicit general approbation. I assure you, Sir, that I have no such object in view. The political

character of Lord Hastings's late measures forms
no part of the question upon which I shall ask
the House to decide. My object in the present
motion is to acknowledge with due praise and
gratitude the splendid services of the Indian
army. I was, indeed, anxious to have the papers
upon the table, because some statement of the
political relations of the different parties in the
late hostilities, in the way, not of argument but
of narrative, seems necessary, to render intelli-
gible the origin and operations of the war. From
these
papers

I will describe as succinctly as I can, the situation in which the British Government found itself placed towards the different native powers of India : and if, in performing this task, I should let slip any expression of my own opinions as to the policy of the Governor General (and it may be hardly possible to avoid doing so, whatever caution I endeavour to observe,) I beg to be understood as by no means calling upon the House to adopt those opinions. In agreeing to the vote to which I trust they will agree this evening, they will dismiss altogether from their consideration, the preliminary observations with which I introduce it.

I approach the subject, Sir, with the greater caution and delicacy, because I know with how much jealousy the House and the country are in the habit of appreciating the triumphs of our arms in India. I know well that, almost uni

[ocr errors]

formly successful as our military operations in that part of the world have been, they have almost as uniformly been considered as questionable in point of justice. Hence the termination of a war in India, however glorious, is seldom contemplated with unmixed satisfaction. That sentiment generally receives some qualification from a notion, in most cases perhaps rather assumed than defined, that the war is likely to have been provoked on our part, with motives

very

different from those of self-defence. Notions of this sort have undoubtedly taken deep root in the public mind: but I am confident that in the present instance (and I verily believe on former occasions which are gone by, and with which it is no business of mine to meddle at present) a case is to be made out as clear for the justice of the British cause, as for the prowess of the British arms. Neither, however, do I accuse of want of candour those who entertain such notions; nor do I

pretend to deny that the course of Indian history, since our first acquaintance with that country, furnishes some apparent foundation for them. It is not unnatural that, in surveying that vast continent, presenting as it does—from the Boorampooter to the Indus, and from the northern mountains to the sea—an area of somewhere about one million of square miles, and containing not less than one hundred millions of inhabitants; in looking back to the period when our

« ÖncekiDevam »