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IrTIS British majesty [Nov. 2S, 1779. j went to the house of" JaTit peers, and opened the session of parliament. The'royalspeech was totally silent with respect to America arid the WestIndies;- but stilcd the' present, one of the most dangerous confederacies that ever was formed' against the crown and people o? Great-Britain. It recommended to the lords and commons the' consideration of what further advantages might be extended tcr *he kingdom df 'Ireland* by such regulations as'may effectually promote the interests of all the British dominions. The necessity of the recommendation was evident from What had already happened upon the meeting' of the Irish parliament in October; The further proceedings of'the people of Ireland discovered a determination to secure to themselves substantial benefits from a crisis so peculiarly favorable to the views of die patriotic'party. The associators being jealous, that if the supplies Were granted' as usual fortwo years, a sudden prorogation of parliament would" put an end to all hope of amicable redress for the present, called' Out for a short money-bill of six months only, and it became the' general cry of Ireland. The representatives at length found, that' it was indispensably requisite for them to comply, and the shoct ■money-bill was accordingly passed. A necessity equally convincing, secured the passage of that humiliating and mortifying act in Great-Britain on the nth of December. Six days after, th£" king gave his assent to a bill for granting a free trade to Ireland. The golden opportunity admitting of it, the people of that kingdom have proceeded so far as absolutely to deny the right of the British parliament to bind that country irt any case whatever; 't
Government received advice on the 18th of December, "that, the fort of St. Ferdinando deOmoa, the key to-the bay of Honduras, had been takert about the 20th of October^ by the troops Under the command of captain William Dalrymple* who had been sent by the governor of Jamaica to the Musqu^to shore. The men, by the help of ladders, scaled the walls, though 28 feeC liigh, and thus made themselves masters of the fort. Two register ships, with the cargoes of other vessels of note, worth three millions of dollars, were also taken. All was gained with the only loss of about 20 killed and wounded on the British side, and very few more on the side of the Spaniards.
Intelligence having been transmitted to the British administration [by some, it is thought, whose duty bound them to keep the secrets of the Dutch councils] that a number of Dutch ships laden with timber and naval stores for the French service, in order to escape the danger of British cruisers, accompanied count By land, who was to escort a convoy to the Mediterranean, capt.. Fielding was sent out with a proper force to examine the convoy, and to seize any vessels containing those articles which the British deemed contraband. On the meeting of the fleets, capi,, .Fielding desired permission to visit the merchant ships; being, refused, he dispatched his boats for that purpose, which were :^ircd at; the captain then fired a shot a-hcad ot the Dutch admiral, who answered it by a broadside. Count Byland having received another fn. return, and being in no condition to pursue*. the contest further, immediately struck. Jus colours- Most of th* ships which occcasioned the contest, had already, through the length and darkness of the night, and by keeping in with the. shore, escaped the danger, and proceeded without interruption to the French ports. The few that remained with naval stores. On board, were stopped; and the Dutch admiral was. then inTM formed thathe might hoist his colours and prosecute his voyage; fte did the first, but declined the other, and accompanied the Bri•tish squadron to Spithead the fourth of January,, where he remained till he received fresh instructions from his masters. - , b The right (whether supported by actual treaties or not) which* flie British claimed and exercised over the vessels of foreignpowers, though net at war with them, when.they suspected or found that they were laden either with naval stores, and boundto the ports of their enemies, or with the property of thelattes,. Suggested the idea of an- armed neutrality. One of tire diplomatic body assured my friend at Paris,, that.the sagacious king of Sweden communicated the first hint of it to count Panin, with whom it slept sometime before.it was communicated to the empress of -Russia. At length it was matured; and on the 26th of February, - the court of Petersburgh issued a manifesto or. declaration, which hasbeen the mean of forming, under the. name of aa armed neutrality, anaval and.miiitary aliiaiKcand confederacy between Russia and other neutral powers. The great principle .of the piece, and of the confederacy to which it has given birth, is, that free bottoms make free: goods: and is thus particularized—"Neutral ships shall enjoy a. free navigation even from port tojort, and on the <;oasts of the belligerent powers; all effects Belonging to the subjects of the said belligerent powers shall be &ok«d upon as free, on board such neutral ships,, except onh/
such goods as are stipulated contraband.—In order to determine what characterizes a port blocked up [into which neutral ships are not to have free ingress] that denomination shall not be
f ranted but to such places before which there are actually a numer of enemy's ships stationed near enough, so as to make its entry dangerous." Great-Britain is not in a situation directly to contravene this grand principle, so that it will probably be henceforth settled as a part of the law of nations, in munv respects essentially differing from what has, for several hundred yean, been established among commercial kingdoms'.
The courts of France and Spain have expressed the utmost approbation of the Russian system contained in the empress's declaration, so exactly calculated and immediately suited to their own views. The court of London being obliged to suppress her indignation at an injury which she was neither able to resentnor remedy, worded the answer to the declaration sent to the British envoy at Petersburgh, on the 13th of'April, with the greatest caution, and promised to "redress every hardship that may happen, in so equitable a manner that her imperial majesty shall be perfectly satisfied, and acknowledge a like spirit ofjustice whicS she herself possesses." On the 3d of April prince Gallitzin, th$ Russian envoy extraordinary at the Hague, remitted to the president of, the states-general a memorial, with the copy of trftf declaration, inviting their high mightinesses to accede to an armed neutrality, and acquainting them that the like invitation had been given to the courts of Copenhagen, Stockholm and Lisbon. But the court of London determined upon adopting special measures in order to prevent the accession of the republic to-the confederacy, and to induce her to afford the succours thai had been demanded; an order of the king in council was therefore published on the nth. It relates, that though their high mightinesses had been strongly called upon by a memorial of the £4th of March, to grant the succours stipulated by-treaty, they had not signified any intention of complying. The non-performance of the stipulated engagement is pronounced a desertion of the alliance subsisting between the two countries; arid it is thence' declared, that upon every principle of wisdom and justice, the republic must be considered on the same footing with other neutral states not privileged by treaty. The order therefore suspends provisionally, and till further orders, all the particular stipulations respecting the subjects of the states-general, contained in the several treaties now subsisting. The publication did ndfc produce the desired effects. . The different provinces, after continued deliberations, were unanimously of opinion, that it was