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with the latter, and prevented the partition, by securing to the king of Prussia his exclusive claims. And lastly, when the court of Vienna laid in her claims to part of the succession of the late elector of Bavaria, Britain, as in all the foregoing instances, might have interfered, and put a negative upon the pretensions of the king of Prussia, and thereby secured the friendship of the present emperor. He would add another circumstance, which exhibited our minister, in the strongest light, to be weak, inattentive, and incapable, which was, that though it was we that had enabled Russia to make peace with the Porte, it was France negociated the truce, and finally fixed and determined the terms of ultimate pacification. This was, he believed, an instance never known in the history of negociation. France meditated the destruction of the Russian fleet in the Mediterranean, and would have accomplished it, but for the interference of Great Britain; yet when peace came to be made between the empress and the Porte, it was France, the enemy of Russia, that was the negociator, and not Great Britain, her steady friend in the time of need.

most willing to support them, who would lay his hand on his heart and declare, that he expected any thing but progressive stages of national ruin, so long as the present ministers continued in office? He was sure there was not; but some of their lordships might think themselves bound to support the administration of those whose conduct they had never publicly disapproved. There were some, however, of another description, who did not, he presumed, look upon themselves so fettered; some, who, while they sat in council with ministers, had publicly avowed, that no man of honour or conscience could be present at the scenes which they were witness to in his Majesty's confidential councils. [Alluding to lord Gower's words early in the session; see Vol. 20, p. 1176.] He had a right to presume, that such men would not continue to support measures out of the cabinet, which no man of honour and conscience could bear to be present at in cabinet; otherwise, it would be indeed a most extraor dinary stretch of political logic, to support measures and ministers, in parliament, which measures and transactions no man of honour or conscience could submit to be present at in cabinet.

His lordship then took a short view of the conduct of ministers in the present American war. America would not resist, said ministers: she did resist. Her resistance would be confined to a few; it proved almost universal. France would not interfere; she gave the fullest assurances of her pacific and friendly dispositions: she did interfere. Spain professed dispositions of a similar nature, but she soon followed the example of France; and now he should hear, he supposed, of the good intentions of the court of Petersburg; but in this instance he was not under the necessity of hazarding prophecy or prediction, for the conduct of Russia had saved him the trouble. She was allied, not directly for our destruction, in an open and hostile manner, but she was allied to effect what must bring it about full as effectually she had put herself at the head of a confederacy, which would, if not prevented in some way or other, terminate in our ruin; and whatever might be the event of their lordships' discussion of this important question, he thought it was well worthy of their most serious consideration.

He appealed to the noble lords, if there was one among them, the most friendly, and well inclined towards ministers, the

His lordship went into a great number of miscellaneous observations, of less consequence; taking notice that the folly and meanness of ministers could only be equalled by their obstinacy and temerity; that we had opened the eyes, and enlightened the understandings of the German boor, the dull Hollander, and barbarous Russ; we had become the contempt and standing jest of all Europe; and, from a great, glorious, and happy people, who had borne our arms triumphant to every quarter of the globe, were fallen to a degree of insignificance and humiliation, which was sufficient to claim the pity and commiseration of our envenomed and implacable enemies. His lordship then made the following motion: "That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, besecching his Majesty, that he will be graciously pleased to order, that there be laid before that House a copy of his Majesty's Declaration, published in the London Gazette on Tuesday the 18th of April last, suspending provisionally all the particular stipulations respecting the freedom of navigation and commerce with his Majesty's enemies in the time of war, with the answers given thereto; as also all copies or extracts of all correspondence with


his Majesty's ministers, so far as relate to the same subjects, or to any steps taken, or engagements entered into, between the said neutral powers in Europe, from the 1st of May, 1779, to the present."

Lord Stormont rose, and after a few prefatory apologies, said he looked upon it to be his duty to go somewhat into detail, because he found it necessary to speak as well to matters of fact as argument. He was fully aware of his own inability to contend with so powerful an adversary as the noble earl, were the powers of mere oratory to prevail; but, he was not without some confidence that his public attempts, when strongly supported by truth, as they would be, could not fail of making the impression he desired. His inferiority in point of declamation, would weigh nothing in their lordships' judgment; and he made no doubt, but their lordships would think that the feebleness of the advocate would be most amply made up by the goodness of the cause. Though he meant to go somewhat into length, it was not his intention to give a specific answer, or pay a minute attention to every assertion made, or insinuation thrown out by the noble lord. It would on many accounts be imprudent, if not highly improper; and on others, little more than taking up their lordships' time to very little purpose.

dor at a foreign court. He could with truth assure their lordships, that these accounts frequently produced the most untoward circumstances, and created difficulties scarcely to be imagined, or believed, by any but those, whose situation gave them an opportunity of being acquainted with them.

He was ready to subscribe to an observation the noble earl had repeatedly endeavoured to impress upon their lordships' minds; that the present was a critical, a trying, and a difficult moment. He would go further with his lordship, and add, that it was such perhaps as this country never before experienced. Therefore, discussions of the nature opened by the noble earl, ought to be entered into with great caution, and the subjects touched with a tender and delicate hand; otherwise, what was avowedly intended to effect the best purposes, might, as had often to his knowledge been the case, be productive of the very worst. He was sorry for it, but the temper of the times would have it so, that the deliberations of that august assembly, were become much too public, contrary, he believed, to the custom of all other states, of which any account had been handed down to posterity. Rome, in the most flourishing stages of that republic, never published the proceedings and consultations of her senate, and he should ever think, that in that she acted wisely; for controuling executive government, when measures and their consequences were fully known and decided, and controuling the execution of measures, while they were in train, or depending, was in his opinion two different things.

He differed very widely, he said, from the noble earl, respecting the subsisting treaties between us and Holland. He said, that the treaty of 1674, like all other treaties, held out or promised reciprocal benefits to the contracting parties. Treaties were exceptions to the general and universal law of nations, and as the benefits were supposed to be nearly balanced, and reciprocal, so were the obligations for their due and faithful performance. The history of the treaty of 1674, was this: Great Britain gave particular privileges, one among others, that, of carrying all kinds of goods and merchandize without interruption; in return Holland engaged if England should be attacked, to assist her with a certain number of ships, and land forces. The nature of the treaty spoke for itself; it was in fact, an alliance, [2 T]

Under those reservations, he thought it his duty to pay particular attention to several things which had fallen from the noble lord, in the course of his speech. Such as he should forbear to enter more fully into the consideration of, he assured their lordships, would relate only to points in agitation, between us and foreign powers, and not finally determined upon. If, therefore, their lordships should imagine, that he had touched upon some points lightly, and with an apparent degree of reserve, he begged leave to assure them, that such reserve flowed merely from motives of a very different nature from those, he presumed, the noble lord who made the motion, and his friends might be ready to impute. That assembly was a popular assembly. Every thing which passed within those walls, soon made its way into the world, and was speedily transmitted to foreign countries. He had often before observed, and he would again repeat, that this circumstance was the source of much mischief. He had fatal experience of it when he had the honour of serving his sovereign, in the capacity of an ambassa[VOL. XXI.]


not a mere commercial treaty; besides | to assist us in case of an attack, it was to this, it was made when France and the all intents and purposes, literally and subunited provinces were at war, and in con- stantially long since at an end. templation, that what had since happened would never have taken place; namely, that Great Britain would be engaged in a war with France and Spain, and that the friendly stipulation in the treaty was to be employed against the former; but what was the conduct of Holland? That part of the treaty which answered her own purpose, she sought and pressed a religious observance of, but declined to fulfil her own engagement, that of furnishing the ships and troops.

Finding at length all remonstrances totally disregarded, and, what was more, that the French faction had prevailed so far, as to send out ships destined for France, and loaded with all kinds of military stores, under convoy; and this, he was persuaded, upon a presumption, that we were so spiritless and depressed, as to submit to any indignity they might think it convenient or proper to put upon us; his Ma jesty's confidential servants thought it high time to convince them of their error, and chastise them for their baseness. On this idea commodore Fielding was sent out to intercept them. He did so, and brought several of the ships into Portsmouth, and would the whole of the fleet, had not the season of the year, and the length of the nights favoured their escape down the channel. Yet, however powerful the French faction in Holland might be, there was one circumstance respecting that business which was worth attending to: that Holland, he meant the governing powers there, took care that the timber for building should not be sent out, under convoy, as an act of state, but barely permitted at the risk of the owners, who, as he had just observed, made their voyage good to Brest without interruption.

He did not wish to conceal any thing, neither to exaggerate; but he thought it incumbent upon him to observe to their lordships, that after the repeated and pressing memorials which had from time to time been transmitted to sir Joseph Yorke, and presented by him to the States General, the refusing to comply with the requisitions, founded upon subsisting treaties, rendered every thing which subsequently happened, or might happen, the act of the republic, not the particular transgressions of interested individuals. The spirit of enterprize in merchants in expectation of inordinate gain, and rapidly amassing great fortunes, was, he believed, an almost universal principle, and in the breasts of none of that description did this principle more powerfully operate, than in those of the merchants and traders in Holland. The observation was almost become proverbial. The story of count Lowendahl, who took Bergenopzoom, was notorious, and well authenticated; for although it was the key of the United Provinces, Lowendahl protested that he must have failed in his attempts, had not the

That succour, his lordship observed, had been repeatedly demanded, and as repeatedly evaded and procrastinated by Holland, though not expressly refused. At first, as we were only at war with America, the answer was, that the casus fæderis did not exist. That plea could no longer be urged after the attacks made by the French at Rhode Island and Charles-town; and the attempt by Spain upon Gibraltar. Upon those events, as they arose, applications had been regularly made to the States General, calling upon them to fulfil the treaty on their part, as it had been faithfully adhered to by us; yet, notwithstanding those applications had been accompanied by remonstrances, and pressed with all possible urgency, as to the nature of the claim, and the necessity of an immediate compliance, Holland still continued to supply our enemies with all kinds of naval stores, under the sanction of the treaty of 1674: sedulously endeavouring to explain away the nature of the obligation imposed upon them, respecting the ships and troops. He was far from imputing this very extraordinary conduct to the people of Holland. Holland like Great Britain was torn by factious intrigue and cabal, which were unfortunately for both countries fomented by France; and thus the secret article in the treaty of 1674, which forbad Holland to supply our enemies with naval or military stores was said not to exist, on account of a subsequent treaty, in which the secret article was not recognized; so that in either event, whether the stipulated assistance was withheld, or the private article broke through, it came exactly to the same point. The treaty could not be binding on one party, a moment after it had been broken by the other; consequently, whether the matter was considered relative to the breach of the secret article, or to the undertaking

merchants of Amsterdam been so kind as | to furnish him with gunpowder: and that at another time, when the Republic was at war with Spain, the Dutch merchants privately contracted with his Catholic majesty to supply him with a certain number of ships, and very faithfully fulfilled their bargain. The case at present was clearly different, it was not private risk, nor mercantile adventures. It was evidently an affair for which the Republic itself had become responsible, as well by a tacit refusal under various pretexts, to fulfil the subsisting treaties, as by an active avowal of their real intentions, sending the ships carrying goods to our enemies, expressly contrary to the treaty of 1674, under convoy. If after such provocations, directly or indirectly, we must indeed be sunk as a people; we must be emptied of all spirit, and ministers deserved every charge urged against them on the score of timidity and irresolution; of being dastardly to the most extraordinary, shameful, and disgraceful degree, if they permitted Holland to continue supplying France and Spain, with what might be well denominated the sinews of war. Had ministers not attempted to avail themselves of the local situation of this island, placed as it were by Providence, between the northern and southern parts of Europe, they would most certainly have deserved every epithet the noble earl had, or was inclined to bestow upon them. Had not they endeavoured to cut off those sinews of war, and stopped the supplies of naval stores, destined for Brest and elsewhere, to the general accusation of incapacity, and irresolution, the noble earl, in his opinion, might with justice have added a criminal inattention, nay, even treachery itself.

Ministers had adopted a very different mode of conduct; notwithstanding which they were arraigned by the noble lord. In his lordship's idea, they were highly blameable, and for what? Because they seized the dagger which Holland was preparing to put into the hand of France, whose avowed object was the total destruction of Great Britain, if not as a nation, most clearly and confessedly, as a maritime power. Was this a charge which ministers need be ashamed of? He hoped not. He hoped it would never be imputed as a crime to ministers in that House, or out of it, that they prevented Holland from continuing the nominal ally of Great Britain, while her conduct in point of form and effect both, bespoke the friend if not the open

auxiliary of France. Surely this could not be? He would never believe that so absurd, so uncharitable an interpretation could possibly be put upon their conduct. For one, he was ready to defend the whole of their conduct respecting Holland, who so far from performing the obligations to which she bound herself, had even departed from the permanent and established rules by which her conduct was circumscribed, as a power acting under the acknowledged laws of neutrality.

For his part, by what he could learn from the best authorities on the subject, he always understood that neutrality consisted simply in this; that the neutral power was not to give assistance in any shape whatever. Was that the case here? Or could it be so understood, either in fact or argument? By no means. Holland, by a direct and open interference, might hurt herself, but, all circumstances considered, could hardly do any injury to Great Britain. Her conduct was the very reverse; for under the semblance of amity, at least a rigid neutrality, she was daily doing the most material, and perhaps fatal injury to Great Britain. Indeed, the supplying our enemies with naval stores, was all Holland could do, and she had done it.

The noble earl said he had made several observations on the paper which appeared in the London Gazette of the 18th of April. The noble earl concluded, that the paper in question shut the door ultimately against any return to the former good understanding which subsisted between Great Britain and Holland. He was not sagacious enough to follow the noble lord to the object at which he pointed; the declaration he confessed was a strong one; but it was necessarily so, and notwithstanding all the harsh epithets bestowed on it by the noble lord, in his opinion there was still left an opening, and a wide one, for Holland, if she chose it, to return with ease, honour, and convenience to her former friendly connection with Great Britain.

His lordship next entered into a kind of abstract history of the negociations of sir William Temple, relative to the treaty of 1674, the difficulties he had to contend with; the peculiar embarrassments and perplexities which arose in the prosecution of it, and the final result; commenting as he proceeded on several parts of the noble earl's speech, who made the motion. Respecting the conduct of the court of Russia, his lordship was very full. It was his opi

nion, (and he had been in a situation more than once when his opinion was asked), that it was the temporary, as well as permanent interest of Great Britain to do all in her power to cultivate a friendship, and political connection with the court of Petersburgh; because it always appeared to him, that their interests were the same, and their advantages necessarily reciprocal. As to the conduct of the court of Versailles, respecting the Russian manifesto, which the noble earl had represented in so unfavourable a point of view, by recommending to us to adopt a similar mode

native, an immediate breach with Russia, did by no means strike him in the same light. It was of very little consequence what France said or wrote upon the occasion; but he believed, there was very little need of positive proof to shew, that the regulations, such as had been laid down, in the empress of Russia's declaration, had not been received in the French navy: and he was perfectly persuaded, that whether the orders were formally issued or not, there was no positive order given for their unqualified observance. To receive an instruction how to act was one thing; but the point would turn on the single circumstance, whether at the same time the officer who received such order would understand it to be an efficient order, to be bona fide carried into execution? The declaration of the court of Versailles carried with them that degree of weight they were justly entitled to in the different courts of Europe. Russia could not forget the conduct of France upon a recent occasion; he meant when that power sent a squadron into the Mediterranean, about ten years since, to make a maritime war on the Turks, and to attack their islands in the Archipelago. Upon that occasion it was well known, and had been so stated by the noble earl who made the motion, that in the midst of the most solemn assurances of good will from France; she

of conduct, or the other part of the alter-rently practicable in the execution. He said, the empress of Russia was a wise and a just princess, and he had every reason to believe, would act strictly conformable to those great characteristics, and that her reign would prove as glorious as that female reign which so justly distinguished the annals of this country. The noble lord condemned ministers, for not profiting at the period alluded to, when the spirited interference of this country prevented the destruction of her fleet by France, in the Mediterranean. For his part, he thought the court of London acted with a magnanimity and disinterestedness, that reflected the highest honour upon it. It would be mean, selfish, and pitiful, to take an advantage arising from the moment, to extort stipulations in our favour. Advantages thus gained seldom proved beneficial to those who extorted them; such situations might generate treaties, but they seldom, if ever, produced amity or affec tion. At the best, they were performed in an ungracious manner, and with little effect; and were generally evaded, for pretences would never be wanting to evade fulfilling engagements entered into in moments of difficulty and distress: and if he had an option, at the instant he was speaking, he would rather trust to what might arise in the heart of the empress of Russia, from a recollection of past obligations, than merely have a right to make

was at that time meditating the destruc-requisitions, formed on such a claim as he tion of the Russian navy, and would pro- had been describing. On the whole, it bably have accomplished her design, but was neither probable or natural, that the for the timely and spirited interference of empress of Russia would desert her best Great Britain. friend, in the moment of adversity; she felt in her own mind too strong a sense of past obligations, to act so perfidious and unnatural a part; besides, her interest, according to the present system of Europe, as well as her gratitude, bound her to a conduct very different from that predicted by the noble earl.

have endeavoured to inform himself better on the subject before he passed so harsh, and he was free to maintain so unmerited a censure upon his Majesty's confidential servants. He should have learned what was done, and what was omitted, before he proceeded to judgment; when he had, he doubted not, but his lordship would entertain sentiments extremely different from those he had that day expressed. The situation of Europe, the interests and views of its respective states, and a variety of circumstances little known, rendered that impossible, though speciously, and

The noble earl complained loudly, and strongly criminated ministers for not profiting by the disposition and complicated interests of the several leading powers of Europe, particularly Russia, alluding to the circumstances last mentioned. He was of opinion, that the noble earl should

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