Debate

v6:314

HOUSE OF COMMONS.

Monday, March 11, 1776.

The Order of the Day being read, for the House to resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House, to consider further of the Supply granted to his Majesty,

Ordered, That the account of Extraordinary Services incurred and paid by the Right Honourable Richard, Rigby, Paymaster-General of his Majesty' s Forces, between the 9th of March, 1775, and the 31st of January, 1776, and not provided for by Parliament, be referred to the said Committee.

Then the House resolved itself into the said Committee.

Lord Barrington moved, "That eight hundred and forty-five thousand one hundred and sixty-five Pounds fourteen Shillings and eight and one-fourth Pence, be granted towards defraying the Extraordinary Expenses of the Land Forces, and other services incurred, between the 9th of March, 1775, and the 31st of January, 1776."

Colonel Barré said the annals of this country did not furnish another instance in which a nominal body of eleven thousand men, never amounting at any time within the period mentioned in the resolution to above eight thousand five hundred effective men, had cost the nation so much money. The campaign of Bunker' s Hill and Lexington was ludicrously compared with the glorious campaigns of the immortal John Duke of Marlborough; and the forcing the lines thrown up by a mob in the course of a summer' s night, opposed to the victories of Blenheim, Schellenburgh, the conquest of Gibraltar and Minorca, the traversing the vast circuit of the kingdom of Spain by Lord Peterborough, and the renowned impressions made by the Duke of Ormond at Vigo and Port St˙ Mary. Mystick River was compared to the Danube; and the operations of a war that pervaded half Europe, and in which a British army, and foreigners in British pay, amounting to seventy thousand men, had rendered the power and glory of the British arms immortal, was balanced against those carried on within a circuit of little more extent than what is taken up by the site of this Metropolis. The expense of the former was shown to amount to a sum not more than two millions, while the other, including the expenses of the fleet, cost nearly three millions, the very extraordinaries and ordnance service alone amounting to one million three hundred thousand pounds. He eulogized General Montgomery, the account of whose death in an attempt to take Quebeck by escalade, had arrived but a few days before.

Mr˙ Burke drew several comparisons between the victories of Mr˙ Pitt and those of the noble Lord, [North,] and contended that the campaign which gave the great continent of North-America to this country, though the force consisted of forty thousand men, fell considerably short of the expense of maintaining eight thousand wretched men, starved, disgraced, and cooped up in the single town of Boston. He paid very high compliments to General Montgomery, who had conquered two-thirds of Canada in one campaign.

Mr˙ Fox vied with Mr˙ Burke in his eulogium of General Montgomery.

Lord North censured what he called this unqualified liberality of the praises bestowed on General Montgomery by the gentlemen in Opposition, because they were bestowed upon a Rebel; and said he could not join in lamenting his death as a publick loss. He admitted, indeed, that he was brave, able, humane, generous; but still he was only a brave, able, humane, and generous Rebel; and said that the verse of the tragedy of Cato might be applied to him —

"Curse on his virtues, they' ve undone his country."

Mr˙ Fox rose a second time, and said the term "Rebel," applied by the noble Lord to that excellent person, was no

v6:315

certain mark of disgrace, and therefore he was the less earnest to clear him of the imputation; for that all the great asserters of liberty, the saviours of their country, the benefactors of mankind, in all ages, had been called Rebels; that they even owed the Constitution which enabled them to sit in that House to a rebellion:

— "Sunt hic etiam sua premia laudi,
Sunt lachrymae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt."

Lord North said, whatever uneasiness this dispute with America might occasion, whatever consequences it might have, he hoped it would be recollected he had not raised, had not disturbed the question. It was in agitation before he came into office. He found it there.

Governour Johnstone expressed his astonishment at this declaration, thus uttered in the face of his country! in the face of the House! He instanced the tea duty, and —

Lord North suddenly said, should he answer that! — The duty was not laid on by him, he only carried it forward.

Governour Johnstone, to explain, said it was very disorderly to interrupt him in that very abrupt manner. However, he thought the noble Lord' s explanation, or vindication of himself, made the matter ten times worse against him.

The Committee divided: For it 180; against it 57.

Mr˙ Speaker resumed the chair.

Ordered, That the Report of the Committee be received to-morrow morning.