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obtain, still they had brought the country ! more precise term was used than in the to such a pitch of calamity, and so cla- amendment of last year, for, instead of morous were the people, that peace upon other countries, the message expressly any terms would be received from them stated Great Britain. Then, if they were as a boon and an atonement for all their come to this state, why not declare, said transgressions. Such might be their Mr. Fox, that you will treat with them? feeling. But, if it were possible to believe Why not act upon your own declaration? that the members of that House could so Why not be steady to the principle which far surrender their pride, their indepen- you have pronounced, and declare that dence, and their spirit, as to justify such you will treat? Since that declaration a sentiment, he could only say, that they was made in the month of June last, there surrendered their public principles to was not a statesman in Europe, except personal motives, but that such conduct his majesty's ministers, who did not bewas inconsistent with their duty as repre- | lieve that France was in a state capable of sentatives of the people, and incompatible maintaining the accustomed relations of with their character as men of honour. peace and amity with other countries. No; though they should give peace to Their conduct to neutral powers had the country, he would not agree to forget demonstrated the fact. Prussia had acted their demerits. He should still think upon the demonstration, and had conhimself bound to accuse them as the au- cluded a peace accordingly. It was evithors of sll the calamities that we had dent to all the world, then, except to the suffered, and he should not think it was a king's ministers; and if they had been sufficient atonement for their conduct, sincere in the declaration that thcy made that they had prevailed on a majority of in the month of June last, it would have that House to support them in the sys- been manifest to them also, and they tem.
would have acted upon it. With this He now came to consider the question glaring fact before their eyes, would the of the amendment. And first,
House again leave it in their power to cessary to inquire whether the address juggle with words, and to evade their own wanted explanation ; and secondly, whe- declarations ? Would they not now ther it was not necessary, in addition to think it necessary in prudence to bind the declaration which it contained, to them down to a specific act upon their come to some precise expression of the own words? If they did not, what possense of the House as to the necessity sible confidence could they have in the and wisdom of negociation, whatever present declaration more than in the past? might be the form of the government of They might say, it was true that at the France. The right hon. gentleman had time of making such declaration there said, that they should be left open to ne appeared to be a disposition in France to gociate, but not be obliged to it. Upon this treat ; but now circumstances have he would inquire whether there did exist changed, and there is not the same disat this moment a form of government in position. They might affect to see cir. France, that in the opinion of his ma- cumstances unknown, or totally disrejesty's ministers made it wise, fit, and garded by the rest of Europe, and might practicable for them to treat ? This was say that they were not bound by the ihe question. Was it not the intention present declaration, and that the House of gentlemen, that with such a govern- | had come to no opinion which made it ment they should treat ? Last year, necessary for them to treat; such had when his hon. friend made a motion for been the result of their former conduct pacification, the right hon. gentleman ob- | The right hon. gentleman had persuaded jected to it as being a practical declara- the House to leave them to the exercise tion for treating, and he moved an amend of their own discretion, and they had negment, which he called a conditional de lected the time which other statesmen claration, that we were disposed to treat and other cabinets had wisely seized and whenever there was a form of government happily improved. If the House desired, in France capable of maintaining the ac- therefore, that the blessings of peace customed relations of peace and amity should be restored to the country, they with other countries. That time was must take care that the present address come. His majesty's message expressly should be precise and definitive. If it declared that they were now come to was not clear and intelligible, it was fit such a form of governinent. Nay, a that it should be amended, and the experience of last year ought to convince , in which they had departed from the them that no loop-hole should be left, strict performance of their engagements; no latitude given, to that disposition a single instance in which any one of the to equivocate which they had so much adverse parties that tore one another to reason to lament,
pieces, and in their despicable and horrid Speaking of France, the right hon. conflicts tore also the bosom of their coun. gentleman said, that the present was a fit try, ever violated the engagements they had government with which to treat; and he made out of France. Did not the Brissotine had accused his hon. friend of having party maintain the treaties of their predemade a slip of the tongue, when he said cessors ? Did not the execrable tyrant that by a singular state of things they Robespierre himself, observe with equal might be said to be attacking the French fidelity the treaties made by Brissot? constitution which ministers were defend- Were not his successors uniformly steady ing. It was no slip of the tongue; nor in their adherence to the external system was there any thing wrong in the reason- which had been adopted ? It had been ing His hon. friend never otherwise observed with truth, that no one period had defended the former constitutions of in the French revolution had been marked France as being good governments for by a more sacred regard to the neutrality the people of that country, but good in of foreign powers, than the reign of that relation to others. He and every gentle execrable tyrant, Robespierre; and it man around him had contended, not that would not be denied, but that treaties had the constitutions of France were well been made with tyrants as execrable ; framed for the happiness of the people of and considering what sort of treaties mithat country, but that they were sufficient | nisters had made, with whom they had for all the purposes of good neighbour- made them, and what acts of base and hood, and of preserving peace and amity abandoned tyranny they had not discounwith others. They never attempted to tenanced, it was not worthy the manly defend the government of Robespierre. character of the British nation to abet The right hon. gentleman would not do them in their resistance to a treaty with him the injustice to impute to him an ap- France. probation of that detestable monster. He Having thus shown, in his mind, the had always said, that every one of the futility of all objections to treat on account successive governments of France had of the insecurity of treaty, Mr. Fox caine shown a disposition and capacity to to their next argument, that now France maintain their treaties with foreign na- was in the greatest possible distress. tions. He was of the same opinion Granted. Was that a reason for treating still; and if any one man should rise in now? Was it because this very stable his place, and assert that he saw good government was on the point of annihilareason to believe that the present go- tion, that it was capable of maintaining vernment of France was more capable the relations with foreign powers? The than any of its predecessors to maintain absurdity was too gross for argument. those relations, he must only say that he But if their distress was a reason for should very much doubt either his sin- treating with them, had they not expecerity or his judgment. It had been a rienced this distress a twelvemonth ago? darling expression to call the state of Let the House remember the speeches of France for three years past a state of the right hon. gentleman and his noble anarchy. It would have been a more friend (lord Mornington) on the state of correct description to have called it a their assignats, when they said that their state of tyranny, intolerable beyond that depreciation was at the rate of 80 per of any, perhaps, that ever was experienced cent. Aye, but they had not then come in the history of man. To say that he to sufficient distress to be solicitous of rejoiced in the probability of its termina- peace, and now it seems they were come tion was, he hoped unnecessary,
He to this disposition. And what was of certainly rejoiced in it as much as he did more consequence, it seemed that they in the fall of the tyranny of the house of had now a constitution which was quite Bourbon. But, was that tyranny capable fit for all the purposes of negociation. If of maintaining terms with foreign powers? ministers depended upon this slender Most certainly it was. And if this asser- thread, our security was slight indeed. tion should be denied, he called upon He was not about to praise or to cengentlemen to produce a single instance sure their new constitution; that he
owned could be properly estimated only | Had ministers taken this course? The by experience. But whether it was good, pretexts were, that the French had threatbad, or indifferent, did not signify a ened to deprive our allies, the Dutch, of farthing to the present argument. Whe- the free navigation of the Scheldt, and ther it was calculated to give happiness that they had made a declaration, threatto the people of France, was none of their ening all the world with the dangers of concern ; it was not with the constitution fraternity. Grant that these were legitibut with the government of France that mate grounds upon which it was the duty they had to do. That government they of this country to demand satisfaction, had before, and had, he would venture to was it not the duty of ministers to negosay, in as perfect a shape as they had now. ciate for that satisfaction? The French Nay, if he could trust to an assertion that had a minister at this court. Why did had been made in that House but very they not express to that minister the terms lately, had more perfectly, since it was upon which they would continue their said, that some of their generals had vio- amity? In every correspondence of the lated the treaty that had been made with sort, it was incumbent on both parties to Prussia. What was the construction to state explicitly what they desired to be be put upon this conduct? That this done, and what they would do in return. government, the only one under which Let gentlemen look at the correspondence the slightest violation of treaty had been which had been published, and they known since the Revolution, was also the would see that there was no declaration only one with which it was proper for on the part of ministers upon what terms this country to treat. [It was whispered they were disposed to continue their across the House by ministers, that this amity. But grant even to government violation happened before the establish their demand, that the French were the ment of the present government.] Before! aggressors, and that this was merely a said Mr. Fox :—the fact was expressly defensive war: then it was the nature of stated as an argument by the other side a defensive war that it should be pursued of the House, that day se'nnight; that it on the motives of defence, and that every was totally without foundation he believed; moment should be seized upon when it he certainly never had heard it except in might be possible to obtain the security that House upon that occasion. But now for which it was undertaken. He appealed they were to have perfect confidence in to the House and to the country if this these identical men, because France had had been their conduct. He demanded now two houses of legislature instead of whether, after the defeat of Dumourier, one! Their nature was to be changed, when Belgium was recovered, and when their insincerity to be obviated, and every French Flanders was over-run, a peace objection to be at an end, because France upon the terms of security, and upon such had now two houses instead of one! terms as we had not now either reason or There was something so extremely whim- right to expect, might not have been obsical, and so unworthy of statesmen, in tained ? If the war had been really defenthis mode of reasoning, that he would not sive, if it had been undertaken only to stop to reply to it. He did not mean to resist encroachments, terms ought then criticise the present French constitution ; to have been offered upon which we might he certainly thought it better planned have procured reparation, security and than any of the preceding; but he could indemnity. Terms were offered by the not look to it with greater confidence than French : Marat was sent here commisto any of its forerunners.
sioned to offer terms. But they were reHe came now to speak of the origin of jected. Upon what principle? Not the war, in which he would not cease to because we were fighting about a limit, say, that ministers were the aggressors. about a boundary : but for that security It was their eternal answer to this charge, which could only be obtained by the desthat France had declared the war. Their truction of their government. He would incessant recurrence to this feeble subter. not say that it was expressly stated that fuge proceeded from a conscious qualm the ancient monarchy should be reinstated, that the accusation was well founded. In though, by the by, lord Hood, in his his opinion, even in a case of actual insult, declaration at Toulon, had impressed that it was the duty of statesmen to attempt opinion upon every part of France; but to procure redress by negociation before both then, and at every time since, it had they recurred to the argument of war. been the avowed object of ministers in the (VOL. XXXII.]
war, to destroy the Jacobin government. I then, that it might be recovered by nego Was the Jacobin government destroyed ? ciation. He still trusted it would be so. Was the government founded on the rights But there were other reasons that now inof man at an end? Had the declaration duced them to negociate for peace. The of the 19th of November, 1792, been any domestic state of this country was otherwise abandoned than it had been changed. Fle could not avoid remarking two years ago? Why had they not, then, how the arguments varied. If they were treated before? Because they had objected speaking upon the sedition bills, and he to treat expressly with any government were to assert that there were no excesses founded on the rights of man. He would in the country, that called for such unconnot say that the right hon. gentleman had stitutional restraints, he should instantly gone the length of asserting that it would hear a set of pamphlets and hand-bills be a bellum ad internecionem ; he had said read, to prove that Great Britain was althere might be a case of extremity, but most in a state of rebellion ; but if he he made use of a quotation which had this were to demand, why the present was a effect, that it left an impression of his more fit time than any other to negociate meaning on the memory, and the words for peace, he should instantly be answered, were not liable to misconstruction. His because we were happily safe at home quotation was,
against all danger of Jacobin principles. “ Potuit quæ plurima virtus If he should say, that by the increase of Esse, fuit. Toto certatum est corpore regni." our debt, and the growing load of national Such was the right hon. gentleman's de burthens, there was much discontent in claration. But now we were come to a the country, it would be answered, no government when we might surrender all such thing; the example of France has our former assertions, and safely treat for checked every symptom of discontent with peace. Had we then obtained the objects the present order of things. Then why of the war? The first was our obligation pass the abominable bills ? Why? it to defend our ally, the States-general. would on the other side be answered, beHe had always lamented the fate of that cause there was something so perverse unhappy people. They were entangled and obstinate in the seditious multitude, in a situation, from which, whoever were that nothing but depriving us of our conconquerors, they could not escape; who-stitution could make us safe. In this ever gained, their ruin was inevitable. way did they reason. Each measure had Had we saved our ally? It was the boast its own style of argument; and it was that we had taken the Cape of Good thought necessary to insult the underHope. Good God! was this safety for standing, as well as to impose chains upon Holland ? We had abandoned their
person. sessions in Europe to France, while we We had failed, then, in Holland ; and had marked out their dependencies in the we had failed at home. What had we East for our share of the plunder. Our done for the rest of Europe ? What for protection was like that of our allies to- Prussia, for Spain, for Austria? What ward Poland; we divided it for its safety; had been the fate of the war in general ? and it was an argument for having aban- His hon. friend had spoken generally of doned all its European possessions to our disasters, with the exception of our France, that we had seized, or were about naval exploits. The right hon. gentleman, to seize, on all its Asiatic territories for with that peculiar cast of candour which ourselves.
belonged to himself, had thrown out an He could not help again digressing to insinuation that his hon. friend had for. one of the attacks which had been made gotten the achievements of his illustrious upon himself. What, it had been said, father. What fortunate impression his would you be so dastardly as to negociate candid sneer had made upon the House, for a peace with France, and leave Hol- he would not inquire. His hon. friend had land in their hands ? Now even from this spoken generally of the disasters of the attack he was delivered, ministers had / war, without thinking it necessary to enuagreed to become the ciastards, and to merate the particular instances in which, treat with France, possessed of Holland. under the conduct of great and gallant offi. This they must acknowledge, or agree cers, even the incapacity of ministers had with him that there was nothing dastardly not deprived the British arms of glory. But in the proposition last year. He wished what great advantages had we obtained in to God it were as probable now as it was the West Indies, except the glory of sir
pos- | the
Charles Grey's achievements? Would any brought down at this very remarkable man say that the manner of the loss of Gua- conjuncture. The speech from the throne daloupe and St. Lucie did not make us la- was made on the 29th of October, and ment their previous conquest ? Again, then no such intimation was given ; but therefore, he asserted, that the war had the right hon. gentleman had said, that been disastrous, inasmuch as we had failed a declaration tantamount to the prein every object. We had lost Holland, sent was made in the king's speech, and which was one object of the war; and we that the people from that speech would had settled and rivetted discontent on the have been justified in expecting the present minds of the people of England, not message. They must judge of the immerely by the calamities arising from the pression by the effects. The speech from war, but from the measures we had taken, the throne had produced no sensation on and were now taking, to stifle that dis- the funds. What had the message procontent.
duced ? A rise in the funds that day of Peace, however, was now said to be 5 or 6 per cent. He came therefore now near. Perhaps he thought it was near, to a material part of the present inquiry. but he did not think so on account of the Why had not the right hon. gentleman message from the throne. He thought so made known the substance of this message because ministers felt the sense of the before, or at least why not stated his country to be declared against the war; be- reasons in justification of doing it at this cause, however they might affect to misre- most suspicious moment ? It had been present the feeling of the country in their the good practice till his time, of closing speeches, they felt in their hearts, that there the loan only the day before it was opened was not one man in the kingdom, the race of to parliament. If the right hon. gentlemoney.jobbers, contractors, and interested man had made his loan in that way, he persons only excepted, who was not sick must acknowledge that with the words of of the war, as well as of the miserable this message in his pocket, he ought to pretexts for carrying it on. He thought, have made terms materially different. If therefore, that to fix ministers to the point, he had this message in his mind, and felt they should adopt the amendment, which himself bound not to make an open loan, contained a much more clear and specific in what predicament did he stand ? Messrs. declaration than that contained in the Boyd and Co. very handsomely left it to address. He knew thst it was a vulgar him to propose the terms ; then, with the opinion, and surely it was the most vulgar knowledge of this intention, ought he not of all vulgar opinions, that the proposers to have made a bargain upon the ground of a negociation, always stood the worst of the impression which this message was chance in that negociation. He wished to calculated to make ? Were the circumknow one instance in which this had ever stances of the country such, that he was been the case. In the present circum- bound to make the bargain a week before stances of Great Britain and France, he he opened it? Perhaps the suspicion was thought the advantage was evidently on well founded, that his secret contract with the side of the proposers. For in both the gentlemen, on account of bills coming countries there was an evident desire for due on the 10th of December, stipulated peace in the great body of the people ; so that the bargain should be made before that it would be impossible for the exe- that day.. But he called upon every gen. cutive government of either country to tleman who heard him to say, if he could reject any proposals which might be made, believe it possible, that any change could if they were not altogether unreasonable. have happened so material as to justify the If, therefore, at this moment, we were concealment of this intimation until after to make proposals to France, if they were he had made his bargain, and then to not grossly dishonourable, their committee bring it forth to swell the bonus to such a of directory and council of ancients, would height ; or, if any circumstances had not dare to refuse them, because, by re- arisen to justify the concealment then, fusing them, they know that they would and the intimation now, to say why the lose the confidence and respect of the right hon. gentleman should not be called people.
upon to state them. A loss had been The right hon. gentleman had not suffered by the public of not less, on the thought it necessary to open his motion meanest computation, than 150,000. This for the address, with any exposition of had been put into the pockets of persons the reasons why the message had been who talked loudly of their independence,