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BOOK state to the house of peers, made a very judicious
speech, “ lamenting the necessity which had obliged him, by every tie of duty and affection to his people, to employ the force entrusted to him for the suppression of those acts of felony and treason, which had overborne all civil authority, and threatened the immediate subversion of all legal power, the destruction of all property, and the confusion of every order in the state ; – at the same time renewing his assurances, that he had no other object than to make the laws of the realm, and the principles of the constitution, the rule and measure of his conduct.”
An address of thanks was deservedly voted in reply to this speech, without a single negative.— The general effect of these recent commotions was very favorable to administration, by inspiring a too-well founded dread of popular interposition in any shape or upon any occasion, however apparently tending to the accomplishment of the most desirable and salutary purposes. After this, nothing of material import passed in either house of parliament; and on the 8th of July, 1780, an end was put to the present session.
The political alienation which had for some years taken place between England and Holland became daily more visible and notorious. A requisition had been made by the court of London to the States General, soon after the declaration of war against
Spain, for the succours stipulated by the treaty of BOOK 1678, confirmed by various subsequent agreements; but no answer could be obtained from their High Mightinesses. On the contrary, loud complaints were made of the conduct of the English court, which had caused to be seized, and carried into the different ports of Great Britain, ships belonging to the subjects of the republic, navigated under the faith of treaties, and not laden with contraband goods.—This, no doubt,' was in many instances the fact. On the other hand, Great Britain complained, with equal truth, that France received from Holland continual supplies of naval and military stores, contrary to the faith of treaties; and that the principle of self-defence warranted the seizure and detention of all vessels laden with such exception
On the 1st of January, 1780, commodore Fielding fell in with a fleet of Dutch merchant ships off Portland, convoyed by a small squadron of men of war, commanded by count Byland. Captain Fielding, desiring permission to visit the merchant ships, in order to ascertain whether they contained any contraband goods, was refused by the Dutch admiral; on which he fired a shot a-head of the count, who returned a broadside : commodore Fielding did the same, and then the Dutch immedi. ately struck their colors. Such of the merchant ships as had naval stores on board were stopped,
BOOK and the Dutch admiral was informed that he was at
liberty to hoist his colors and prosecute his voyage. But he refused to quit his convoy, and accompanied the commodore to Portsmouth. A memorial in strong
and resentful terms was presented by count Welderen, by order of the States, in consequence of . this transaction, which was represented as a direct. attack upon the independence and sovereignty of their High Mightinesses, and a peremptory demand made of reparation and redress, to which no regard was paid. But on the 17th of April a declaration was published by the king of Great Britain, by which it was announced, “ that repeated memorials having been presented by his majesty's ambassador to the States General, demanding the succours stipulated by treaty, to which requisition they had given no answer, nor signified any intention of compliance, his majesty considered their High Mightinesses as having deserted the alliance that had so
long subsisted between Great Britain and the Re. Alliance public: and his majesty from this time suspended, land die provisionally, all the stipulations of the several exist
ing treaties, particularly of the marine treaty concluded at London, A. D. 1674.”
Holland was, however, far from being singular in her complaints respecting the violated rights of neutrality. The powers of the Baltic, with a firmer tone, and in more decided language, declared their resolution to adopt such measures as were necessary
for their own security. Early in the spring, 1780, BOOK the empress
of Russia addressed a declaration to the courts of London, Versailles, and Madrid, containing an explicit statement of the principles on which she had determined to act for the removal of those molestations which had interrupted the navigation of her subjects, and for the protection of the liberty of commerce in general.
The radical principles here laid down were :1. That neutral ships should enjoy a free navigation even from port to port, and on the coasts of the belligerent powers.-II. That all effects belonging to the subjects of the belligerent powers shall be looked upon as free on board such neutral ships, excepting only warlike stores or ammunition-but neither the vessels, passengers, nor the rest of the goods, shall be liable to seizure or detention. “To these principles,” her Imperial majesty declared, " she was firmly resolved to adhere; and, for the honor of her flag, and the security of her subjects, she had ordered a considerable part of her naval forces to be equipped, to act wherever her honor, interest, or necessity, should require.”
Denmark and Sweden acceding in form to this Armed declaration of Russia, and ordering similar equip- neutrality. ments of their marine, this confederacy of the powers of the north acquired the appellation of “the armed neutrality;" and the basis on which it was founded seemed to give universal satisfaction throughout
BOOK Europe-England alone, against whom it was ma
nifestly levelled, excepted.
In the answer of the king of France it was said, " that what her Imperial majesty claimed from the belligerent powers was nothing else than the rules acLually prescribed to the French navy, and that soId advantages must result from this measure, not only to the subjects of Russia, but to all nations.” The reply of England was cold, and civilly evasive; but this measure in reality excited so deep a resentment, that the conduct of England respecting Russia, for several years succeeding this period, may be ascribed chiefly, or solely, to the alienation and hatred originating in the present obnoxious procedure.
The war between Great Britain and Spain had scarcely commenced when the blockade of Gibraltar was formed by sea and land, and the hope of recovering that fortress probably operated as no inconsiderable inducement with Spain to engage in the present war.
Early in the year 1780, sir George Rodney, an officer distinguished by his gallant exertions in the late war, was appointed to the command of a powersul fleet, destined for the relief of that place, have ing on board prince William Henry, the third son of his majesty. On the northern coast of Spain he fell in with a convoy of twenty-two merchant ships, richly laden, under the protection of a squadron of