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either in the Mediterranean, or in the West Indies, or else by being weak at home, might contrive to be superior, if they pleased, at least for a time, in one if not in two of those important stations; and as they had no commerce to defend, they might, without much sacrifice of interest, strike, even with their fleet, a temporary stroke. When the extent of our territories also was considered, which it belonged to our fleet to defend, it certainly seemed to be too much to say that in this respect we should be left harmless and untouched-He next adverted to tne general state of the allied powers; and particularly dwelt on the Emperor's late rescript, in which he tells the German powers that he is ready to make peace with France; a rescript which he understood the Emperor signed on the same day on which he signed the treaty with this country for a loan for carrying on the war. He had heard it said abroad, that this rescript was only intended to amuse the German powers; and that the Emperor was not sincere in it, but wished rather thereby to prevent a peace; a supposition which he would not so calumniate his imperial majesty as to allow himself for one moment to make. What! could it be supposed, when the Emperor said, "that he was ready to enter into negociation," that he meant in reality to avoid a negociation? when he said that he would consult the general interests of the empire," that he meant not to consult their interest? and when he spoke of "permanent and secure peace with the French Republic," and of "his endeavouring to accomplish so desirable an end," that he thought a secure peace impossible or undesirable? If such were the Emperor's meaning, no language could sufficiently reprobate such deceit. Besides, if this was the mode of doing away the meaning of the rescript, and we were to trust the Emperor's disposition to go on with the war on such ground, we were to trust him on the very ground of his being unworthy of trust, on the ground of his rescript being an act of duplicity to the states of Germany; and on this ground we were to presume on his being faithful towards us; and all this at the very time when we refuse to make peace with France because she would be regardless of her treaties, "being incapable of maintaining the accustomed relations of peace and amity with other nations."-But even if the words of the rescript should be ex
plained away, the professed object of the Emperor was, to arrest a treaty which was commencing without him, by saying, that he was willing also to treat: the Emperor, therefore, declared in substance, that he thought France might be treated with. On every ground, then, he must suppose that the Emperor thought thus, and was sincere. What, then, was the state of the confederacy? Our allies were vanishing away very fast. Whether the Emperor signed the rescript in his quality of head of the empire only, or in that of king of Hungary, &c., he did not exactly know: but at any rate, he was not two separate men; and if peace was desirable for the German empire, any one who cast his eye on the map, must see that it must on the same ground be desirable for the other possessions of the Emperor also. The aid of Germany, and even of a quintuple contingent, had been stated by many declarations of this very Emperor to be absolutely necessary to the general success of the war; and now if Germany fails him, Prussia also having withdrawn, his own territory being reduced, and his army shut out from crossing the Rhine, how could it be hoped that he would make farther head against the French? As to Spain, she likewise was reported to be negociating, and her known weakness was one ground of the report. From Sardinia little was to be expected. An alliance, indeed, with Russia was spoken of; and certainly he felt disposed to commend the endeavours of government to interest her in the war; provided, however, we should not thereby draw down upon us more enemies than would be compensated for by her assistance. But even though his understanding should dictate a policy of this sort, still his feelings would follow very slowly; for he should find it hard indeed to wish success to such a power as Russia had shown herself to be.
He next adverted to the state of France; and here, he said, that some new considerations came in, which the House had never had the full opportunity of deliberating upon before. First, that she had quieted those great internal insurrections, which had occupied some very considerable armies during the preceding periods of the war. Not only the allies were lessened in numbers and in force; not only the king of Prussia had withdrawn, and the Emperor seemed likely to follow his example; not only the British troops
tended in like manner to increase their strength, by sustaining their reputation in Europe. He here adverted to the commotions recently excited in Paris. This was an event which he was not particu larly surprised at, and if any member meant to make it an argument against a motion for peace, he should object to such use of it. We must not allow the happiness of the people of England to be the sport and play of these successive events. He had observed, on many occasions, a disposition in the House, as well as in some people without doors, to be on the watch, as it were, for some new event, and to rest almost the whole ground of going on with the war on something future, which they could not define. Every little incident was magnified by persons of this description, and turned into an argument against making peace. What would be the consequence, if France were to act in the same manner. What if her government were to urge the high price of provisions as a proof that we were nearly exhausted? What if the vast bounties given to man our navy, or increase our army should there be urged; and what if the risings which had taken place in this country should be magnified: the account of them being conveyed by persons the least favourable to our government? Would not a very erroneous judgment be formed in France concerning as to resources, and the probable period of our terminating the war, if these alone were the grounds on which the French government should argue on the subject? With regard to the proba-. ble consequences of pursuing the war, he considered them to be in their nature uncertain. Heretofore it might justly be said to be carried on in order to prevent the progress of French principles; but now there was much more danger of their being strengthened by a general discontent, arising from the continuance of the war, than from any importation of the principles themselves from France; for the nature of them had now been seen through; the spirit of Jacobinism and fraternization had subsided, even in that country, and a gradual change in this respect had taken place. One bad effect of the war was, the drawing off so great a part of the people to a military life. This was a very serious evil, tending to hurt es
were removed from the continent, while the line of frontier, both by the capture of Holland and the peace with Prussia, was exceedingly narrowed; but, on the other hand, by the quieting of these insurrections, a large accession of disposable force had been gained to the French, which they might bring at once to bear on any new point. The advantage to the French by the above-mentioned defection of our allies, and the accession to their own strength, he computed at between 2 and 300,000 men.-Next, as to the French resources. Their paper-money was much depreciated, and had fallen still more very lately: nevertheless, every thing went on as before. In America, paper-money had been depreciated during the war far below the present depreciation in France, and yet new resources had after that been opened; and the fallacy of supposing that a nation's pecuniary means must end with its paper credit, had been evinced. In point of subsistence, he had received information from persons who had arrived from France within these two or three days, that, generally speaking, they were in no sort of distress; that in Paris, indeed, bread had been scarce, but it was now less so than before; and in most parts provisions were cheaper than in England. In the French armies there had been no sign whatever of disaffection. A general satisfaction prevailed in the country, on account of the termination of the troubles of La Vendée and of the Chouans; and some hope of peace was excited by the treaties already entered into; and whatever partial or temporary tumults might arise in Paris, the idea of a general rising in the country seemed now to be over. The general circumstances of the war also tended to make them think their troubles nearly at an end; for peace seemed to them not far distant. The conduct of foreign nations to them tended to confirm this sentiment. The duke of Tuscany's treaty with them was a small matter, when considered in the light of an additional strength gained; but it was very important in another view, namely, as a symptom of the sort of confidence which foreigners placed in them. Here was a shrewd Italian prince, who some time ago thought himself safer under the wings of the confederacy, but who now thought it was time to commit himself rather to the protection of France.sentially the morals of the people, and to The French peace with Prussia, and Swe-detach them from the habits of civil life; den's recognition of the French republic, and though no present consequences might
be felt, yet very material ones might, at
accustomed relations of peace amity, the
He then proceeded to answer what
the most extensive hostilities might in that case follow. Humanity shuddered at such a scene: but even putting humanity out of the question, it seemed to him in the view of dry policy, that such a course of events must be highly prejudicial to Great Britain. Who could say what might be the consequence of strengthening Austria and Russia, as their successes might do; or of the irruption of French troops into almost all Europe, if the other side should prove superior. The very opposing armies might catch the spirit of French democracy; and when it was considered that the French revolution owed its rise to a great pressure on the lower orders of the people in that country what might not be the consequence on the minds of all the lower orders of people in Europe, if a destructive war should prevail. In his opinion, the true line of policy for this country would be, to cultivate our domestic resources, to consult the happiness, the good morals, and the comfort of the lower orders of the people; and to excite their confidence in administration; to keep, on the other hand, as much as may be, from continental connexions, on account of the general uncertainty of them, the character of foreign princes, and the situation of the affairs of Europe. He then moved, "That it is the opinion of this House, that the present circumstances of France, ought not to preclude the government of this country from entertaining proposals for a general pacification; and that it is for the interest of Great Britain to make peace with France provided it can be effected on fair terms, and in an honourable manner."
Such an offer on her part could only proceed from a strong presumption of British credulity. He considered the present motion as a call upon ministers to put a stop to the scene of misery and calamity which was now going on; to conciliate the public mind, by adopting measures to bring about a peace, and to preclude the necessity of making any addition to those burthens which had already increased to such an extent, that they could not much longer be borne.
Mr. Duncombe seconded the motion. He adverted to an argument that had often been urged, that it was impossible to have a permanent peace with the present government of France; and asked, whether we ever had a permanent peace with France, or whether, during the last half century, we at any time had a peace that had lasted for more than seven years? The fact was, that we had been continually embroiled in wars, from the ambition of that very monarchy which we were now so anxious to restore. He remarked only one difference in our present situation; formerly, we were at war with the kings and ministers of France, now we were at war with the people. He remarked on the state of the confederacy against France, and on the absurdity of any reliance on the proffered assistance of the empress of Russia.
Mr. Windham (Secretary at War) said, that the House had now heard the reasons urged by the hon. mover and seconder, in support of a motion so extraordinary, both in itself and in relation to the sentiments and declarations which had formerly been adopted by those gentlemen, in conju tion with a great majority of that House. He agreed as to the propriety of bringing forward questions at different periods of a war, whether, under any change of circumstances that might have taken place, it was advisable to proceed in the prosecution of the contest. The point, then, to be discussed was, whether any such change had taken place? He affirmed that no such change had taken place, or at least none which rendered peace in the present moment preferable to the prosecution of the war. He remarked that in every argument, it was necessary to consider those with whom we were arguing. In the present instance, then, it was necessary for him to consider whether he was arguing with those who, in its commencement, had considered the present war as just and necessary, or, in other words, as just, because it was necessary→→→ who had reprobated the doctrines of the French, and wished the destruction of the system, which they were attempting to establish; or with those who had opposed the war from its outset; who had approved the doctrines of the French; who had held out the example of their re volution as most glorious; who had wished success to their exertions, and had even openly professed that the establishment of the republic was an event desirable to mankind. It was evident that the ques tion, as taken in relation to those opposite opinions, must be argued upon grounds entirely different, and it was only to the latter description of persons that he meant to address himself. In every question respecting peace, two things were to be considered, which the hon. mover had not kept sufficiently distinct in the course
of his argument; first, what sort of peace was to be gained; and, secondly, what were the means of gaining it? The hon. mover seemed too much to consider peace as peace. He seemed to think that the moment the treaty was signed, we should be at liberty to disband our armies; that prosperity would of course return; and that we should immediately enter upon a career of tranquillity and affluence. On that subject (said Mr. Windham), I differ from him most widely: he thinks peace, in the present moment, safe and honourable; I think it neither safe nor honourable. But here I cannot help remarking, that the hon. gentleman is a sort of constitution-monger, and that he declared, upon a former occasion, that he would give to France the same constitution as that of America. The hon. gentleman would give them a constitution, as if it was a ready-made house which could be transported without inconvenience from one place to another, and as if every government did not grow out of the habits, the prejudices, the sentiments, and the affections of the people. He would give them a constitution, as children who had surrounded a twig with a quantity of dirt, would think that they had planted a tree. Some questions he wished to ask, as to the means of attaining peace. And first, he would ask, was to express a desire of peace on the part of this country the best means of attaining it? How far ought the inclination for peace manifested by France to operate as an inducement to this country to come forward, and manifest its dispositions for the same purpose? How far would this inclination for peace in France be likely to grow and increase in consequence of our keeping aloof, and abstaining from any declaration that might indicate a reciprocity of sentiment? What change had taken place in the state of France, since the subject was last under consideration, which tended to render any negociation for peace more secure? A great change had indeed taken place, but none which rendered any prospect of peace permanent; the government was not become more durable, nor was the character of the people changed: he did not at present see any reason why they might not return to the spirit of domination and of proselytism, which had formerly rendered them so dangerous. The present boasted system of moderation acquired all its praise only from being contrasted with the former infamous proceed
ings of the government. It was moderate, it was true; but how was it moderate? It was moderate only in comparison with the preceding plans of terror, murder, and proscription. Compared with other governments, the government of France was still distinguished for injustice, violence, and insult; or admitting, for the sake of argument, that it were not so, was it possible to prophesy how long it might be before such a system might return?
But here let us examine in what manner this change was produced. They had been brought down to talk the language of moderation; and therefore their moderation was the result of necessity. They were relaxed in their circumstances; their vigour was weakened, and their courage crippled. If they had the desire to revive their former atrocities, they had not now the power, and it was our duty to prevent them. Their fortune had reached its flood, and was now ebbing fast away. The symptoms of decay were manifest, and the pulse that raged so violently would soon no longer beat. He remarked, that though the hon. mover had demanded a precise answer, he had not encouraged it by bringing forward any thing precise in his own statement. He had given it as his opinion, that the distress in the interior of France was not great. He had thought, that since the communication had begun to be open, there was such a body of evidence, with respect to the existence of that distress, as could not well have been resisted; and that the confessions of the extreme hardships suffered from the depreciation of assignats, and the scarcity of provisions, were too frequent and notorious to be in any degree invalidated. The hon. gentleman talked of recent reports as to disturbances in Paris, of the truth of which he seemed to intimate some doubt. They might not, indeed, be true to the extent to which they had been stated; they had, however, now been reported upon the authority of public papers, and the hon. gentleman who called their existence in question, might as well dispute the accounts of the massacres at Paris, or the ravages of the guillotine. Was it to be treated as a matter of slight report, that the mob had broke into the august body of the Convention-that the members had been forced to fly-that the head of one of their number had been cut off-and that, with the head in their hand, the mob had addressed a speech to the president of