Slike strani

grave of Hesse and the elector of Saxony made peace? Whether the king of Naples had, he knew not; but of this he was certain that he would as soon as he was able. Were not these strong arguments for the recognition of the republic of France? It had already been proved, that none of those formalities had been required of acknowledging the republic on the principles of liberty and equality. That the French were desirous of peace, was generally believed; that they had no objection to treat with a monarchy, had, it was understood, been declared to sir Frederick Eden; but what was more important than any declaration was, that they had actually concluded a treaty with a monarchy, and with a monarchy to the form of which they could not be supposed to be very partial.

| the French revolution, as if, by necessary consequence, he had approved of the cruelties of which it had been made the pretext. He approved of overturning the despotism of the Bourbons, which had long been the oppression of France and the disquiet of Europe. The accursed confederacy of despots, for by no other name could it ever pass his lips, had given birth in the first instance to all the suspicion and consequent massacres which had taken place. Six years had now elapsed since the memorable era of the French revolution. He had, in the first instance, given his commendation to that event, which had overthrown the tyranny of the Bourbons. That tyranny had stifled the industry, and suppressed all the energies of a great nation. He was therefore entitled to speak of its subversion as of a glorious event. But his approbation of French principles thus far, did not include

It had been asked, what Holland had gained by her disposition to negociate early in the war? What, he would ask,his sanction of French acts. He approved


had Holland gained by the protection of
the allies? The spectacle of the retreat of
the British troops through her provinces,
and the necessity of being obliged to treat
with a French army in possession of her
country. Of the conquests which we had
made in the West-Indies, nothing now
remained but a single post in St. Domingo,
another in St. Lucia, and the island of
Martinico. It was for the House to de-
termine, whether these precarious acqui-
sitions were worth the hazard to which
we had put all our other possessions in
that quarter. With respect to the recent
intelligence of insurrections in Paris, it
ought to have no effect on the decision of
that House. The fall of Robespierre, the
rise of Tallien, the massacre of the Giron-
dists, and the triumph of their successors,
only led to this salutary lesson, that the
internal schisms of France bore no rela-
tion to their foreign contests. The system
of terror was destroyed on the 27th of
July and mark what had been the pro-
gress of the French arms since that period.
Were not their successes in every quarter
more than sufficient to counterbalance any
hopes to be conceived from a late insuring
rection in Paris? Ought not what we
had seen to teach us, that unstable and
convulsed as the French government was
within, its power of exertion outwards
remained, and that whether terror triumph-
ed over moderation, or moderation over
terror, we had nothing to gain by the

He was accused of having approved of

of the resistance made by the parliament of 1645 to Charles 1st: of the conduct even of Cromwell in the first instance; but although it was impossible to compare that great man with the men who had raised themselves to power in the French revolution, was it to be inferred that he approved of Cromwell's usurpation any more than of their cruelties? He had never said that the French, if left to themselves, would destroy one another; but this he had said, that if there was any prospect of restoring royalty in France (whether or not that was now an advisable thing he would not then argue), it must be when the French were left to decide for themselves. What was the period in which parties in France were abandoning themselves to domestic contests? Was it when the duke of Brunswick was in the plains of Champagne? Was it when the allies were in the plains of Cambray? No: it was when every foreign enemy was removed to a great distance, and their arms were triumphant on every part of their frontier. When the allies talked of giving them a constitution, royalty had the odium of be

supposed to aid the foreign enemy: when they had no foreign enemy, that would be done away. We were not to give them a constitution, but to restore their old constitution-in other words, their old despotism, the very thing they detested. To attempt giving to any country a constitution, was detestable; every country had a right to frame its own. We were not making war for any interests of

our own, it was pompously asserted, but on motives of beneficence and justice, for the interests of Europe. There might be chivalry in succouring those who called for succour, but the chivalry of succour ing those who said they did not want it, was madness. Who called upon us to continue the war? Did Prussia or any other of our allies? No. But we had got a new ally, the empress of Russia. She, however, was one of our earliest allies in this business, and instead of her not doing any thing in consequence of a new alliance the novelty would be, her doing any thing in consequence of the old. If he were her advocate, as he had once been called, he should say that she had contributed more than her share to the purposes of the grand confederacy. She had completely extinguished Jacobinism in Poland, which, but for the arms of Great Britain, she could not have done; and this was all she would do.

a reason why this country should continue to make war? Was it to be continued, he would ask, in another point of view,-in full reliance on the judgment of ministers, on a confidence to be given to men, whose conduct, in his opinion, was the weakest and the most contemptible that had ever disgraced a falling country.

Instead of appearing in an honourable, we exhibited ourselves in an odious point of view, by continuing the war. France was inclined to peace; the allies were inclined to peace; neutral powers wished for the restoration of peace; and Great Britain alone was shaking the torch of discord. It was said to be a boldness on the part of the hon. gentleman who made this motion, to take the reins of government from the hands of ministers. It was, in his opinion, a more daring boldness in those ministers, who, for the purpose of suppressing a few speculative opinions, would deluge all Europe with blood, involve the whole world in war, and extinguish the social happiness of the human race. The right hon. gentleman had said, that none but Jacobins cried out for peace. The fact was widely different. The industrious manufacturer, overloaded with taxes, cried aloud for peace. The Jacobins, as those men were termed who wished for a radical reform, looked on ministers as their best friends, and relied only on a continuance of the war, for a full attainment of their favourite object. Such Jacobins were not numerous, but even in the city which the right hon. gentleman represented (Norwich), as many as there were refused to sign a petition for peace, because they said that the continuance of the war and of the present ministers in office, tended most effectually to promote their views. But supposing the contrary to be the fact, and that every disaffected person wished for peace, was that

The right hon. gentleman had alluded to America. Did not gentlemen see similar features in these two unfortunate contests? There was a loyal party in America, as well as La Vendée. The loyalists and the royalists, Mr. Fox observed, tallied even to the minutest point and hence hopes had been fostered by ministers. In the last year of that war, it was debated, whether or not the American republic should be recognized; and it was urged, that if this were done, the sun of Britain was set for ever. Was not all this conduct the same on both questions, the American war and the present war? But suppose our present objects, if fixed objects we had, to be fully attained. Suppose Louis 17th seated on the throne, and the emigrants restored-was it to be expected that France would be quiet? No. The smallest knowledge of history forbad such a supposition. Could we, under the restored race of the Bourbons, expect a better faith? No. The present government of France, however unstable it might seem, offered more security from the publicity of its councils, than could be expected from the dark secrecy of any despotism. In this it bore a near relation to the British constitution; and hence a reason arose in his mind, for liking it. At all events, he contended that there was as much cause to expect fidelity from the French as from any of the princes of Europe. The terms of the Austrian convention, he observed, were to be debated the next day, and therefore he forbore saying any thing on that head at present; but when the emperor declared his readiness to negociate with France, ought we not to hesitate? What evil could result from our recognition of the republic, now that it had been recognized by the Emperor? Were we to refuse merely because Holland was at this time in the hands of the French republic? Those who had used this argument with respect to the Netherlands, should say, when that peace was to be expected, which must be preceded by the re-conquest of those countries. He would quote the sentiment of Mr. Burke in

the case of

America-"Try peace and conciliation, and if that fail then pursue war." The evils of war we had felt; the evils of peace were only matter of some men's speculation. Was it fit, then, to advance speculation against experience?-Mr. Fox concluded by saying, that he felt indebted to the hon. gentleman who had introduced this motion, because the oftener the subject was discussed, the more he was convinced the war would be disapproved. He thought that peace and conciliation could never be suggested too frequently. If these failed war was still within our reach, but the latter might possibly be continued until the proffer of conciliation was made in vain.


Mr. Pitt rose and said: I shall certainly endeavour, Sir, to confine what I have to say to the real point under consideration, and must stand excused if I do not follow the right hon. gentleman who spoke last, in many of the points to which he adverted. I impute no blame to my hon. friend who has made this motion, though I lament and deplore that he has done so. He has acted, no doubt from the fullest conviction that he was discharging his duty to his constituents and to the public at large. A great deal has been said this night about Holland being lost, without taking into consideration all the circumstances that belong to the case. It is not my business at present, but at any other time I should not be unwilling to discuss, whether it was not of immense advantage to Europe in general, that Holland was not added to France without a struggle, and which, but for the interference of this country, would have taken place two years ago. This union, after a long struggle, unfortunate I admit in the issue, has been formed chiefly from that country indulging unfounded hopes of peace, in a treaty of alliance, which has ended in their having been invaded and conquered; in their having submitted, being promised protection and having been defrauded of four millions of money. Perhaps it may be better for them in the end, but it is certainly better for the state of the world, however unfortunate it may be for the inhabitants of that country, at the present moment, that they were united to France after a severe and unsuccessful struggle, and when Holland is no great acquisition to France, instead of being added to her, as a great accession, when she was in the zenith of her power. It has been argued this night, that this

country entered upon the present just and necessary war with a great and powerful confederacy in Europe: and I admit that this confederacy is narrowed and diminished. But I would ask, whether, in discussing the question of peace and war, we have not furnished them with grounds to argue upon, which it is impossible they could have had without the existence of that confederacy? To look for negociation at the present moment is premature, though I look to it at no remote period. I have no objection, were it connected with this business to follow my hon. friend and the right hon. gentleman, to the West Indies, to examine the efforts that have been made by this country, and compare them with those made in any former period; from which we should clearly see, whether greater exertions had ever been made, and whether the distresses in that quarter had not been aggravated by a great mortality, and other accidental


But I come to the question immediately before us. I beg leave to consider what that question is, and I must say, that my hon. friend, in making his motion suffered himself to be deceived in the manner of stating it; and this pervaded the whole of his argument. His statement was neither more nor less than this is a peace on fair and honourable terms preferable to the continuance of the war? We should not have been debating here'so long if this were the question; about this there can be no difference of opinion. But the question is, whether a peace on fair and honourable terms, which is the end of all war, is more likely to be attained by negociation at the present moment, than by a continuance of the war? Are you more likely to arrive at a better and more secure peace with a reasonable prospect of permanency on fair and honourable terms, by a continuance of the war with energy and vigour, till a more favourable opening presents itself, by taking some step or other to encourage and invite negociation? That is the question which puts away at once all the declamations on the advantages of peace, which nobody in this country will deny ;-where the rapid effects of peace have healed wounds, infinitely greater than any we have experienced since the commencement of the present war, in repairing losses far more affecting the prospe rity of the country than any we have sustained, and which were so vigorously experienced in the interval of a few years, as

to make us almost forget the calamities of former wars.


Sir, that being the state of the question I mean to submit to the House, that at the present moment, perseverance in the contest is more wise and prudent, and more likely in the end to effect a safe, lasting, and honourable peace, than any attempt at negociation. My hon. friend does not choose to state that this country ought to take the first steps to peace, and he claims great merit for his moderation in not going so far, but only that ministers ought to receive overtures. beg leave to submit, whether this be not only taking the first step, but doing it in the most exceptionable manner. To say it is not an overture on our part, if we have received no intimation whatever from the government of France to treat, to say we shall be glad to treat, is what no man living will contend. Where the overture comes from the legislature of the country, it is attended with a degree of publicity which the right hon. gentleman admits is one of the merits of our constitution. But surely this mode of making overtures of peace is not the most convenient, inasmuch as it makes known the whole terms of peace to the enemy. It leaves no will to ministers to take advantage of any favourable circumstances that may occur. For that reason it is that the legislature does not usually interfere in such transactions, as the true state of the transactions is only fully understood by a few, and therefore it has been wisely committed to the executive government. Why has this country, which is so jealous of its rights and liberties, entrusted such prerogatives to the crown? Why is the making of peace and war, and other prerogatives which form the happiness of this constitution, entrusted to the king? Because it has been found, that the power of parliament was sufficient to prevent the royal prerogative from being carried beyond its proper limits. I say the question is then, whether you will step forward, and assume this power of the crown at a crisis of peculiar delicacy?

The right hon. gentleman who spoke last, was of opinion that the French convention, from the publicity of its proceedings, bore a nearer resemblance to the British constitution, than the constitution of any other country. In this comparison, trust, it was not meant to be carried any farther, as if the interests of this country were to be discussed in one popular as

(sembly. I hope the right hon. gentleman is not so much in love with France. I think the right hon. gentleman took up that idea rather hastily. I am by no means certain, nor is it worth while here to examine, whether a despotic government, or an anarchical republic, like that of France, most nearly resembles the constitution of Great Britain, which is removed at an equal distance from both extremes.

The publicity of the proceedings of the French convention, has been the source of outrage, horror, and disgust, to every feeling heart. That publicity has been a faithful recorder, and an accurate witness of the enormity of their proceedings. The question is, whether we are to take the first step towards negociation, or to go on, trusting to the executive government to take the opportunity of the first favourable moment for negociation, and in the mean time strengthening the hands of that government, to persevere with vigour in the contest in which we are engaged. We have been told, that although this question has been several times brought forward, it has never been directly disposed of; it has never been directly negatived. I contend that it has in effect been directly negatived. For when the motion was made some time ago, an amendment was made to the motion, stating, that we were resolved to persevere in the contest, trusting that his majesty would seize the first favourable opportunity that presented for treating with security. I beg to know, whether that which was done with deliberation, was not negativing the motion. Subsequent to that, this question was discussed again and again, and this House on those occasions came to a resolution, that it did not conceive, under the present circumstances of the countries, negociation was a measure expedient to be adopted.

But another question here arises. Have the circumstances and situation of the country materially altered since the last motion on the subject, or since my hon. friend first found himself an advocate for negociation? Has the posture of affairs varied since that time, so as to make negociation more eligible at the present moment than it was at any former period? II heard my hon. friend state one fact on this business, which no evidence can contradict. I heard him with pleasure state, that the situation of France was


now so weakened and exhausted, as to make peace with that government, though not secure, yet; in consequence of that weakness, attended with a considerable degree of security. That something more of this security exists at the present moment, I not only admit, but contend that the prospect is improving every day, and that this becomes more and more ascertained; as I shall state before I sit down. But is this a reason why we should negociate at this moment? I think not. facts that are notorious, from things known to the world, there is now a gene ral feeling that there is, comparatively speaking, a sense of security in the country, when compared with the alarming uneasiness which some time ago prevailed. The enemy have not been able to avail themselves of their success and acquisitions, nor have they acquired solid and substantial strength. The natural anxiety of the people of this country has led them to remark the progress of the decay, decline, and ruin of the enemy, as being more rapid than they could have foreseen. When this business was formerly discussed, it was used as a very considerable argument against negociation, that from our situation then, we could not hope to treat with France on terms of equality: that our affairs since the commencement of the war were in so unfavourable a state, that we could not reasonably hope to obtain terms of equality, or any thing fair and honourable. Is not this argument very considerably strengthened at this moment, when you compare the state of this country and France? Exhausted and wearied with the addition of your own weakness, will you give up the contest in despair? We should then, like Holland, have to consider what indemnity France would expect of us. I state this as a practical objection, and wholly independent of any question on the security of negociation. Those who argue for peace, consider our situation as rendered more fit for negociation in this way :-that we have lost our allies, by which we are reduced to such a state of weakness, that we must listen to peace; and now that our allies have deserted us, it is unnecessary to obtain their consent. We formerly refused to treat with France, because we were satisfied she was unable to maintain that peace and amity that ought to prevail among neutral nations. tlemen have chosen to forget all the arguments used with regard to acknowledging

the republic of France. We refused to treat with M. Chauvelin after the unfortunate murder of Louis 16th. We refused to acknowledge a government that had been reeking with the blood of their sovereign. Was not that an objection not to acknowledge them at that period? The murder of the king preceded but a very few days the declaration of war against this country.

The next argument is, whether you would dishonour yourself by acknowledg ing a republic that might endanger your own independence, and which made a public profession of principles which went to destroy the independence of every nation of Europe? I say, I will not acknow ledge such a republic. The question here is but simply whether you will ac knowledge so as to treat with it? It is not, nor has it been, since the commencement of the war, the interest of England, not from any one circumstance, but from taking all circumstances together, to institute a negociation with the ruling powers now existing in France.

As to the declaration of the Emperor to the diet, if it is authentic, that he should be happy to enter into a negociation for peace, I beg leave to say, this declaration must be supposed to bind the Emperor in no other capacity than as head of the empire; and I am sure they cannot, and will not state that that precludes him, as duke of Austria, or king of Boliemia, from performing any agreement he may choose to enter into, on his own separate account, in those capacities. As the head of the empire, he might, from the present situation of that country, think it wise and expedient to go beyond the line he may chalk out to himself as a sovereign prince and king, as king of Bohemia and archduke of Austria. There may be circumstances to induce him, as the head of the empire, to wish to open a negociation with France, rather than run the risk of a separate negociation, through the medium of the king of Prussia, contrary to the constitution of the Germanic body. One of the next points relied upon, and imputed as blame to ministers, was the circumstance of the war in La Vendée and with the Chouans being at an end. I do not see how that circumstance can attach any blame to government. It has been stated, that the inhaGen-bitants of La Vendée have submitted to the French republic. Whoever has conversed with gentlemen coming from France,

« PrejšnjaNaprej »