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the Convention? Little hope would be entertained of the permanency of that government, which had not efficient means of protection and defence against such violence and outrage; and as to the supposition of these accounts being bare re ports, the hon. gentleman had forgotten, that while he treated them as such, he had himself brought forward uncertain reports of a treaty of peace between the French Republic and Spain, as well as other princes of Germany.
The hon. gentleman had also considered the events that had happened since the propriety of a negociation was last discussed. Whether the conduct of the enemy was different now to what it was then, could not be easily decided he had stated, however, that there was an increase of power on their part, and a proportionate decrease on ours, or what was nearly tantamount, that as our alliances were weakened, theirs grew stronger. One prominent object, the defection of our allies, was particularly expatiated on by the hon. gentleman. To such a declaration Mr. Windham opposed one broad leading consideration-the state of distress and state of opinions now prevalent in France. Nothing but such motions as that now brought forward, could prevent a speedy termination of the contest in which we were engaged. Here, he confessed, there was nothing but assertion against assertion, appeal against appeal. He then adverted to the reasoning employed by the hon. gentleman in order to induce the country to snatch at the first opportunity for peace. He had affirmed, that its extent of territory was too great to be protected; that its burthens were too severe to be borne; he had insinuated, that the country was come to that pitch of prosperity which it was well if it could keep, but in which every risk might be attended with fatal consequences. Such language was never heard before in that House; nor would the country have ever risen to such a pitch of honour, glory, and universal reputation as it had done, if such had been the language of our predecessors. The hon. gentleman should have recollected, too, that this reasoning was not confined to the present war, but extended to wars in future. He had openly proclaimed, that our burthens had increased to their utmost; that we had no means of defence; that our people were rebellious, and our armies ready to assist them. We had reached the climax of our grandeur, and might
supinely repose ourselves, nor even attempt to support it, for it must necessarily decline. In former times, our arms protected our commerce, but now we were come to the full enjoyment of our industry, and we called upon our enemy not to disturb us; leave us as we are, leave us well; for if you do not, we are not possessed of means to defend ourselves. This was one of the arguments which the hon. gentleman had pretended to touch on lightly. He would not speak out, he said, and there was no necessity, for he was perfectly intelligible. But he could not help noticing the inconsistency which commonly prevailed in this mode of reasoning, where the arguments were shifted as occasion prompted, to suit the purpose of the speaker. Sometimes they declaimed on the loyalty of his majesty's subjects, and sometimes they proclaimed them to be nearly infected with the contagion of the French Republicans. To what could such proceedings tend, but to lay the country prostrate at the feet of the enemy? Read the various declarations of France against this country, and then judge of their inclination to induce us to make peace. In a discourse lately delivered to the convention they state, " that they will make no concessions to Great Britain, nor will they offer any terms of accommodation. They are not afraid of war, and are therefore determined to continue it until they have reduced the pride and power of this haughty country." Were we to sit down contented with such indignities, such insults, and such aggravation? And here was another odd inconsistency in the arguments on the other side. When they vindicate this conduct, they assert, that the war produces these atrocities; but when they argue for peace, then they say, " Leave them to themselves, and they will destroy one other." What then will be the situa tion of France when peace is made? There will be an internal dissention in their government, which must ultimately produce a popular commotion; the armies, too, will return, and assist to keep up the internal warfare. If we have sagacity enough to discover that such must be the consequences of their making peace, may they not have sufficient sagacity to perceive the same, and will they not instantly seek new wars to keep their armies employed, and prevent such calamities. The fact is
too notorious for comment. How could
the hon. gentleman delude himself so? Does he not know that with such a govern
ment, so feeble, so precarious, so insecure, we can have no stability? And does he not know that if the war should be renewed, after an interval of peace of the shortest duration, that it requires a greater impulse, a greater energy throughout the nation, and is attended also with a greater expense? For it is in moral as in mechanical powers, a strong force is necessary to put the machine in motion, which continues its velocity with little aid The hon. gentleman had reminded him of La Vendée and the Chouans. Now let the gentlemen opposite recollect the language they have used compared with the event. Let them remember that they tenaciously insisted that France had but one sentiment. The hon. gentleman will call to mind, too, what he formerly said; "Do you count on Brittany and Normandy?" Yes, the executive government did count on them, and proposed to adopt such measures as would better facilitate that event which was so universally desired. When dissentions were said to exist in the internal state of France, it was asked where? At Lyons, Marseilles, Toulon, and La Vendée; and well would it have been for this country if she had immediately taken the proper advantage of those dissentions, and converted them to her purposes. They were lost, however; though it might be said they could not have been lost if they were not possest. -He then reverted to the hon. gentleman's statement of the condition of Marseilles, and observed that it was not because that under such a tyranny as that of France dissentions do not show themselves, that we are to conclude they do not exist. We might have had reasons to know their existence if we had acted with becoming caution, and instead of one La Vendée. we might have known that the whole of France was becoming one entire Vendée He then referred to the subjugation of the Vendeans and the Chouans. At one time, it had been asked, have you any friends in France? Has the new system any enemies? Are not all the people of that country united in the same sentiment? The boast which was now made of the triumph over the insurgents proved the reality of the danger which had once existed. But, though these people had submitted to hard necessity, it was not to be supposed that they had all at once changed their sentiments and it proved also, that there still existed a body of good sentiments in France. The first argument of the hon.
gentleman was, that peace would establish the power of those, who now preside in France. And what sort of an argument was this? Would it establish the power? Was the hon. gentleman prepared to say, that the change of government had so far changed the evil, as solely to have produced the alteration in his sentiments? If it could, why could it not have done before in the administration of the bloody Ro. bespierre? According to their mode of reasoning, war could be reduced at any time to a scale of profit and calculation. Stating generally his opinions on the subject, he saw the motives for continuing the war the same-the prospects better.Another objection against the motion was, that if it passed, the House would thereby take the management out of the hands of the executive government. This the House had certainly at times a right to do; but then it was usual when they assumed that right, to apply to his majesty to displace the persons in whom the trust of the executive government was lodged. Fortunately, the motion was not yet adopted. But, nevertheless the charge of inconsistency and rashness, if not something worse, was attached to it; for the hon. mover was the friend of the minister, and had pronounced many elogiums upon him. He relied, he said, on his talents, his integrity, and his judgment; he praised his general capacity, and he esteemed him as the properest person to be at the head of affairs, but here comes the difficulty.However great his general capacity, his judgment, his integrity, and his talents, and however fit for administration, he was not fit to conduct the business of the state and therefore the hon. gentleman proposed to conduct it for him. He would not offer to displace his friend, but he would undertake to manage measures for him. Did he think the minister would authorize him to perform his functions? The hon. gen. tleman would allow for these interrogations by the part he had taken himself in the debate of that evening. He must know, that in all public affairs they were bound to follow their duty in preference to their friendships; and for his own part, Mr. Windham said, he had sacrificed friendships that were dear to him, to his public duty, and he did it because he loved to follow right, thought it be sometimes difficult to find where it lies. hon. gentleman had done so too, though Mr. Windham disapproved of the mode in which he had done it. A Christian
ed by the people that a peace would speedily be made by the administration of the country. If such a peace were made, they ought all to rejoice, but not otherwise, for it would then be obtained as it ought to be. On the other hand, what did the hon. gentleman propose? A peace by himself in opposition to administration. The best argument in answer to such a proposition was a review of history. The hon. gentleman had taken occasion in the course of his speech to extol the blessings of peace, and to deprecate continental connexions. With respect to the blessings of peace, abstractly considered, there could be but one sentiment: as to the utility of continental connexions, he referred him to the testimony of the history of the country for many centuries past. Were we to be supposed to be arrived at that period in which we were to lose all regard for military character, and seek only to retain our former acquisitions. Were we to renounce all views of general policy, and attend only to the claims of petty gain, and mercantile advantage? Were we to forfeit our reputation for national honour, and a generous concern for the welfare of Europe? It might be honourable, in the opinions of some gentlemen, to steal out of a war as others had done; but it would be degrading to the British character justly celebrated for its honour and integrity. Great Britain had no wish to imitate the republic of Holland or the duchy of Tuscany, but left them the virtue. How different was the conduct the hon. gentleman had recommended to that pursued by king William, who judged the interests of this country to be so closely connected with all Europe, that he encouraged every alliance whereby she rose in the scale of empire; and of this Mr. Addison was sensible when he wrote his fine culogium:
conscience was understood to be connected with humility, but the hon. gentleman had been opposing those of whose integrity and abilities he entertained no doubt and with whom he was bound in the close ties of friendship. Now he wished to impress on the hon. gentleman's mind, that he was playing a deep game; for if he was not the preserver, he was the undoer of his country; and if he did not obtain the posthumous fame he so virtuously desired, he would be transmitted to posterity with eternal execration. He wished him to consider too, how far he conformed himself to the sentiments of those whose mode of thinking he had been accustomed to oppose; or how far he adopted new opinions of his own. There were two things to confirm a man's judgment, the concurrence of his friends, and the dissent | of his enemies. Now, the hon. gentleman had been played at great odds, for he had not only the dissent of his friends, but the approbation of his opponents. He had the odds against him also in another way. In every exclusive public concern, but more particularly in a war, and still more in a war like the present, there was a knowledge in the executive government which could not be possessed by others. Of this he had just given an instance, though opposition would neither give the executive government credit for their good intentions nor their judgment. It was not grateful to him to examine opinions, though he did it to fulfil his public duty. If the hon. gentleman thought his measures fatal, he thought the hon. gentleman's no less so. Such opinions he conceived, if listened to, were highly dangerous, and if not listened to, they were so in a smaller degree. Admitting that the hon. gentleman's were the best opinion he asked him whether he expected them to be followed? What then it might be urged upon the other hand, are you never to bring forward any motion because there is a probability it will not be followed? What then becomes of the freedom of debate? Not so: an attempt in itself to do good may be made, though others think it will not do so. But did the hon. gentleman think, that when persons like those in the executive government had formed their opinions coolly, and with due deliberation, that his arguments could change them. Perhaps he hoped for something intermediate? He had heard the hon. gentleman talk of a general objection to the war, and of a general sentiment entertain[VOL. XXXII.]
"His toils, for no ignoble ends design'd, Promote the common welfare of mankind; No wild ambition moves, but Europe's fears, The cries of orphans, and the widows tears; Oppress'd religion gives the first alarms, And injur'd justice sets him in her arms; And nations bless the labours of his sword." His conquests freedom to the world afford, Whether the hon. gentleman had not brought forward his motion to interpose, because the French government was faint and languid, and her motions wild and irregular, he could not determine; but he reminded him, that such an enemy might be dangerous even in her last convulsions. [C]
He then entered into a variety of arguments, on the fatal consequences of the motion, as tending to influence the opinions of persons at home, and to strengthen and encourage the hands of the enemy. He said, that the cry of peace proceeded from the Jacobin party in the country; and that though every one who wished for peace was not a Jacobin, yet every Jacobin wished for peace. He concluded with moving, "That the other orders of the day be now read."
Mr. For began by observing, that the right hon. gentleman had introduced so much personality into his speech that it was not easy to answer him. He did not think that he had behaved perfectly ingenuous towards him; and he was of opinion, that the remark that had been made, that the motion being supported by him, and those with whom he acted, was a prima facie argument against it, did not appear to him to be quite candid. He should have thought that it would have been more fair to have left the subject to the common course of debate, and he owned that there did appear some degree of cunning in reducing himself and his friends to the necessity of speaking, when it had been asserted, that their support could not be beneficial to the motion. Extraordinary as the treatment had been that he had experienced of late years, he confessed that he had never been so surprised as at that part of the right hon. gentleman's speech which was more immediately personal. He had said to the hon. mover of the present question, "What, will you differ with him with whom you have always agreed?" Had the right hon. gentleman, in putting this question, forgotten some recent transactions? Nay, he had gone farther, and had said, "Will you be so bold as to agree with the persons opposite to you when you look round on the persons near you?" Now, there was something so singular in this, that he could not avoid being extremely astonished at it. He observed, however, that in putting these questions the right hon. gentleman had looked straight forward, as if he had been afraid to look towards his colleagues. Of the majority that the right hon. gentleman expected would support his motion, how many members were there, he would ask, with whom that right hon. gentleman had formerly agreed on great political topics? Why was he so destitute of fair reciprocity as to be unwilling to allow the same
liberty to one side of the House as to the other? The right hon. gentleman had then gone on to ask, for what purpose the present motion had been made? And whether the hon. mover expected to carry the House with him? With respect to the latter question, he believed that the hon. mover entertained no such expectation; but the purpose of the motion was, to discuss that, which ought frequently to be discussed during a period of war; and to show the people of this country that there were persons in parliament ready to defend the rights of the people, and to avert the calamities with which the nation was threatened by an obstinate perseverance in a disastrous and hopeless system. Ministers, it was now urged, had possessed a better knowledge of La Vendée, than he did, and a most useless piece of knowledge, he must confess it had been to them. Was it expected, it had been asked, to convince those ministers? To attempt to convince those whom nothing seemed to convince, was a task, in his opinion, which no man would be hardy enough to undertake. No one who knew their temper, would suspect that they would become suicides of their places from any principle of conviction
For Plato's fancies, what care I? I hope you do not think I die For Plato's fancies in the play, Or any thing that he can say. The House was again called upon to repose confidence in ministers, in the third year of the war, when ministers had completely failed in their promised protection of Holland, of the West Indies, of the friends of royalty in France-in every profession or promise upon which they had demanded confidence. They talked of the glory of our arms under their direction. He wondered they had not read our history, and taken the trouble of comparing any period of it with the losses, disasters, and retreats of the last campaign--retreats not imputable to our officers or soldiers, but to a miserable system which rendered their skill unavailing, and their valour of no effect. Ministers still talked of discontents in France, and ap pealed to what had happened in La Vendée, Marseilles, Lyons, and Toulon. As far as appeared, the discontents in the three last-mentioned places were the consequence of one party in the convention being overpowered by another; but if they were not, what advantage had minis
At the commencement of the war, the argument was, that if we did not engage in it, other powers would withdraw, and we should have to sustain the whole force of France alone. This argument was now destroyed as far as Prussia was concerned, and'nearly so with respect to the Emperor of Germany. Ministers thought proper to pass by the Emperor's rescript to the diet; but did they mean to contend that his declaration of his being ready to enter into negociations with the French republic, was such a declaration as his ministers would have made, such a declaration as a British minister would make to parliament, while the direct contrary was meant? If the Emperor was ready to negociate with the French republic, what could be our objection to negociate? On looking to the rescript, the House would see that the Emperor was willing to treat, not with such a government as was capable of preserving the accustomed relations of peace and amity, but with the republic of France. Was this a fair rescript? Or did it resemble some declarations made by British ministers to the parliament to deceive and delude them? Was the rescript considered only as acting in the true spirit of the alliance? Of the candour and humanity of kings and princes he had heard much
ters derived from them? They got possession of Toulon, which they were soon after compelled to abandon; Marseilles, Lyons, and, last of all, La Vendée, were compelled, or induced, to submit to the Convention. If they meant to adduce, as an argument in their favour, every opportunity of which they had made no advantage, it was impossible to say where they would stop. It had been said by the right hon. gentleman, that the opposers of the war asserted the discontent in La Vendée to be trifling. He had said no such thing. He had taken the subject on the minister's own showing. He had said, that if discontent existed, the ministers had proved that they could make nothing of it, and that therefore he had a right to take it for granted that no discontent did exist. But, were the House to hear ministers confess, at length, that the insurrection in La Vendée was formidable? Where was the ancient spirit of the House, if they suffered ministers to acknowledge that they knew of the extent of the discontent in La Vendée, and that they had not made use of it? He wished the right hon. gentleman, when he talked of the motion as tending to remove ministers from their situations, had recollected the debates in that House about Oczakow, of which the right hon. gentleman might say, "Quorum pars magna fui." Had the right hon. gentleman been always so alarmed at such an idea? And yet he had said with some asperity to the hon. mover: "You approve of the abilities, and have a high opinion of the judgment, of the present ministers, and yet you wish to take the government from them." With this subject he had nothing to do; but then it had been asked, "Do you think the minister will consent to stay in office after his mea. sures have been abandoned?" The House from this might be tempted to think that measures had always been the object of the minister's care, and that he had been totally indifferent to place and power. Was this the case? Had the House no example in the Irish propositions, or in the more recent case of Oczakow? Did not a minority make a minister abandon a measure to which a majority acceded? This, therefore, was sufficient to show that it was impossible to drive the minister out of his measures without driving him from his place. The present question had not yet been disposed of, and the motion for the other orders of the day, seemed to say that the House ought never to dispose of it.
not in his opinion very discreetly-said; but he hoped that the rescript was not issued for the purposes to which he had alluded. Did there remain now, he would ask, one of those objections that had been formerly urged and urged with such triumph? Not one. But Prussia, it had been said, had stolen out of the coalition. Of the court of Berlin he was not certainly inclined to be the panegyrist; but the least objectionable part of the conduct of that court was, in his opinion, the conclusion of a treaty of peace with the French republic. But was it fair and manly in a British minister to talk of Tuscany stealing out of the alliance? Was not Tuscany neutral at the commencement of the war? not her neutrality been approved by the Emperor and Great Britain, and did not the grand duke hold his dukedom by his neutrality? Had not this country acted with the most monstrous injustice towards him? Was it, therefore, decent to talk of his slinking out of the war?-a mode of conduct that had made him the darling of his subjects, and had produced the most beneficial consequences to him. But were these the only powers that had or would make peace? Had not the land