§ Earl Grey
moved for several papers relative to Mr. Erskine's negotiations in America, consisting of dispatches from Mr. Canning to Mr. Erskine, containing instructions, &c.; dispatches from the latter to the former; and letters 266 from Mr. Erskine to the American secretary of state. Understanding there was no objection to their production, he should not take up the time of their lordships by making any prefatory observations.
had no objection to the production of the papers moved for by the noble earl; the transaction to which they referred being a thing past, no public inconvenience could now result from producing them. It might, perhaps, be necessary that some further papers should be produced: and if, upon investigation, he should find it so, he would move for them on Monday.
§ Lord Erskine
said, that he was glad the papers were to be produced. He had some particular reasons for rising on this occasion to address a few observations to their lordships; considering the connection he stood in to that very near relation of his, who was intrusted by Government with the American negotiation. There was only one small piece of paper which would appear when the papers were produced, of which he knew any thing. He declared upon his honour, that he had never seen the instructions, nor was consulted nor acquainted with the particulars of the transaction. It had been said, that from his known difference in politics with the present administration, it was likely, that the gentleman who was entrusted with the negociations, had acted under the impression of political principles different from those of the government which employed him in so important a situation. In his name, he (lord Erskine) took upon himself publicly to disavow such a feeling and such conduct. If he could have believed that; such were the case—if he thought that he could have acted upon opinions of his own, contrary to those of that government of which he was only the instrument and agent, then, nearly as he was connected with him, he should not only have reprobated his conduct, he should never again have spoken a word to him in the whole course of his life. His lordship said he came into that House, free from any private considerations, to the discussion of the business respecting America, and to give his opinion and his vote, as a statesman and a peer of parliament, with a view only to the true interests of his country.
The motion for papers was carried nem. con.