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teague ought to be formed to check the career of the French; but he was of opinion, that a league would not be very
ef fective, unless it should be founded on disinterested principles, on principles which should fupersede the mean defire of profiting in a territorial or pecuniary view by the disorders of Europe, and be pointed only to the restoration of general security. He ridiculed the hope of deriving important aid from the promised efforts of the Russians and the Turks, as the former were not inclined, and the latter were not able, to act with due vigour against the French. Other powers, he thought, were little more worthy of our association or our confidence; and it was therefore adviseable to trust more to our own strength than to any aid which we might expect from the princes and states of the continent. Our strength, however, ought not to be wasted in offensive exertions. We had less reason to dread the enemy than any nation had. Our insular situation, the great fuperiority of our marine, and the general spirit of the community, gave us sufficient security. In such a predicament, it would be expedient for us to stand only on the defensive, and to declare that we were ready to agree to a safe and honourable peace.--Lord Holland maintained, that it was now the best time to negotiate with the enemy; and that to evince a pacific disposition in the day of prosperity was not an humiliation, but rather an instance of magnanimity.. Lord Mulgrave, however, contended, that it would be disgraceful to British spirit to follow such' advice; and that a renewal of negotiation with France at the present moment would lead to a forfeiture of that superiority which we had obtained, and to a frustration of our hopes of effecting the deliverance of Europe. Lord Grenville, animated with the same zeal, recommended a vigorous perseverance in offensive hostilities as the most proper conduct that we could pursue. After the speeches of these and other peers, the address was voted without a division; and that of the commons passed in the same manner, though not without severe (and in some instances intemperate) animadversions on the conduct of the ministry from fir John Sinclair and fir Francis Burdet.
At the time of these proceedings of the legislature, the executive power, inflamed with just indignation at a recent decree of the French directory, declaring that all persons originally belonging to neutral countries, or to states in alliance with the republic, who might form a part of the crews of British vessels, should be treated as pirates, gave public notice, that, if this order should, in any instance, be carried into execution, the most vigorous retaliation would
App. VOL. XXIV. New ARR. Rr:
be exercised against the subjects of France, whom the chance of war had already placed, or should hereafter place, in the king's power. This denunciation appears to have had a good effect, as we do not find that the French have dared to execute their menace.
The house of commons foon entered upon the businefs of fupply. It was proposed that 120,000 seamen and marines Mould be allowed for the year 1799; and the houfe readily fanctioned the number, fir John Sinclair being the only oba jector to its unneceffary magnitude. The ministerial eftia mates of the army were also adopted, though the expenditure of this department was augmented.
As the new affefiment for the year 1798 had not beer fufficiently productive, a mode of fupply was devifed from which a fum, much larger than the produce of that scheme of taxation, was expected to accrue. To prepare the minds of the public in general for the intended impoft, the chief magistrate of London called a meeting of the merchants, bankers, and principal traders; and, it was unanimously voted, that, as the new assessment had failed to call förth a due ratio of contribution from many descriptions of perfons,' the afsembly would trongly support measures calculated to draw out the resources of the country in a more equal and effectual manner. Encouraged by this declara: tion, the minister (on the 3d of December) developed his scheme. He first mentioned the different heads of supply, according to the following calculation:
10,840,000 For a vote of credit of the last feffion 1,000,000 For the ordnance
1,570,000 For various fervices
£29,227,180 He then ffated the means of procuring this large supply. The duties reserved in lieu of the land-tax now perpetuated, would amount, bre faid, to 2,750,000 pounds ; the confolidated fund would supply a million and a half; and the late regulation of the exports and imports would probably offer 1,700,000 pounds. As these fums, with the profie of the lottery, would not exceed 6,150,000 pounds, there would be a necessity of providing above 33 milions for the cxigencies of the present year.
The new financial scheme, instead of regulating the ima post by the style of living, regarded the income of the ins dividuals and it was proposed that no person thould be ex
For the navy
empted from the tax, unless his annual income should appear to be less than fixty pounds. In estimating the probable produce of the scheme, Mr. Pitt entered into a detail respecting the various sources of income, and the result of his inquiry was a confident opinion, that the rental of land and houses, the interest drawn from the public funds, the profits of trade, &c. amounted in a year to 102 millions. From an aggregate thus ample, the government, he thought, might draw ten millions without fubjecting the contributors to material inconvenience. The aflellment, he obferved, had been grossly evaded in numerous instances; but he trusted that the prefent demand, from the regulations, with which the measure would be attended, would not be so shamefully eluded. The former tax, he added, would cease at the beginning of April; and the fubftitute would then take place. After an allowance for the interest of the loan charged upon the afleffed taxes, and for other objects, the ten millions would be reduced to 9,200,000 pounds. i About fourteen millions, therefore, would still be wanted'; and, for that sum, a new loan would be necessary. The minister concluded his financial statements with hyperbolical effusions, elevating the prosperity and glory of the British nation to an unparalleled height.
Little opposition was then made to the new proposal ; and a bill was quickly prepared for carrying it into effect. While it was in its course, a motion from Mr. Tierney, against entering into any engagements which might prevent or impede a negotiation with France, produced a florid but feeble speech from Mr. Canning in defence of protracted and extended hoftilities, and met with the usual fate of antio minifterial propofitions.
When the bill had received some alterations and improve ments in a committee, it was attacked by fir John Sinclair and other members as ill-judged, unequal, and oppressive. It was defended, more plausibly than satisfactorily, by the author of the measure, by the folicitor-general, and fir William Young. On a division, 183 persons voted for it, and 23 against it. Other debates attended the investigation of it; but it was finally adopted by both houses,
It was required by this statute, that all persons who had. from 60 to 65 pounds per annum, fhould pay ten fillings; and, from that income to 195 pounds, the scale of payment gradually rofe to £ 17 14 6. The chief burthen fell on. those who had 200 pounds per annum or a larger income, a tenth part of it being demanded from them. The act would. have been much less objectionable, if the payment of a tenth had commenced with individuals who were in the
annual receipt of 700 or 800 pounds, instead of beginning at 200, as the defalcation of a tithe from the latter fum, or from any income between that and 700 pounds, will very fenfibly diminish the ordinary comforts of many, while a proportional exaction from the more opulent will merely abridge their superAuities or luxuries.
Commiffioners of particular descriptions will be authorised to fuper-intend the due execution of the act; and, if they should entertain any doubts of the accuracy of the Itatements of income, they may call witnesses, and ascertain the point by regular examination. Persons who support by oath a false statement of income, are to be subjected to the ufual punishment of perjury.
During the Christmas recess, information was received of a foreign conqueft. General Stuart and commodore Duckworth appeared with an armament, on the 7th of November, before the island of Minorca; and great confternation immediately seised the Spaniards. They abandoned some of their fortifications on the coast; and, though they had an opportunity of baffling the early attempts of the invaders, they scarcely gave them any moleftation, and retired te avoid an attack.. The British troops, advancing into the island, were gratified with intelligence of the almost entire evacuation of the town of Mahon, of which a detachment easily took possession. The enemy, in the mean time, affected to fortify Ciudadella, and seemed difposed to make fome resistance; but the firm countenance of the invading soldiery, and the arts practised to delude the Spaniards into an idea of the great amount of the force of their adversaries, fo intimidated the governor, that he agreed to a negotiation. Terms of capitulation were signed on the 17th ; and the whole island became subject to Great-Britain.
The close of our last survey of Hibernian affairs gave a prospect of the speedy and complete fuppression of the re. bellion. The defeat of the French invaders at Ballinamuck accelerated the submission of the United Irishmen; but occasional depredations and outrages were still committed in different parts. One Holt was an active leader of a daring band; and, for some time, his movements diffused terror among the peaceable inhabitants.
A hoftile party, on the 16th of September, appeared off the coast of Donegal in a French brig, and made a descent ;
but, hearing of the event of the late battle, the commanderof the corps, who was the notorious Napper Tandy, foon retired with his men.
A fresh invasion being meditated by the enemy, the feas were closely watched by our navy. On the 11th of October, fir John Borlase Warren descried fome French fhips near the Irish coast: he gave directions for an immediate chafe, and brought the foe to action the next morning. The Hoche, the only ship of the line in the republican squadron, was captured after a fpirited defence: the frigates, which were eight in number, then failed away; but the English took three of them in the course of the day; and three others afterwards became prizes. As these vessels contained a considerable number of foldiers, sent to re-kindle the embers of the rebellion in Ireland, the discomfiture of the fquadron was very seasonable and important; and, when the thanks of the British parliament were voted to lord Nelson, fir John Warren was honoured with the same compliment.
Among the persons who were taken in the Hoche, were foine Irish mal-contents. Theobald Wolfe Tone, who was one of the number, was tried by a court-martial, and condemned to death. He begged that he might be shot rather than hanged; and, as the court refused to accede to his requeft, he cut his throat in prison. It was thought that the wound which he thus gave himself would not be mortal ; but, after some delay, it occafioned his death. He was a man of some talents, and had acted as a negotiator at Paris, in the cause of his rebellious countrymen.
The ruffian Holt, after a long evasion of pursuit, formed the resolution of surrendering himself. He endeavoured to obtain a promise of pardon; but, failing in that point, he yielded at discretion, and was thrown into prison.
Various bills, rendered expedient by the disturbances of the realm, were brought forward in parliament, By one, attainder was denounced against particular rebels, if they should not surrender themselves within a certain period; and, by another, compensation was promised to the loyal for the losses which they had fuftained from the diloyalty of their countrymen. To quiet the minds of the people, an act of amnesty was promulgated, not without some exceptions of notorious delinquents.
A bill having passed for permitting, the emigration of many of the offenders to the territories of princes who were not at war with his Britannic majesty, some were desired to take speedy advantage of that permission; but others (of