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pose that he interpreted the French ori- | It is conceived in any thing rather than ginal as follows, “ between England and the spirit of conciliation and wisdom. It all the powers in alliance against her,'' is rude, petulant, full of point and cavil, (to the exclusion of the powers in alliance laying down no principle upon which with her). That, Sir, I say is not a fair great statesment ought to act: dwelling interpretation of the phrase. I have upon those particularities, and insisting taken some pains to inform myself on the upon those conditions, which England subject, and I think I can venture to assert ought to have put entirely out of the questhat the true interpretation is, “ a pacifi- tion, and going out of the way for the cation among all the powers at war, inclu- purpose of behaving in a manner offensive ding England." The real meaning then and uncivil towards the prince de Stahof the prince de Stahremberg was the furremberg himself.
In the second paratherance of the original offer made by graph, (the first being merely a paragraph Austria, namely to mediate for a paci- of formality), Mr. Canning says, (p. 106,) fication among all the powers at war, “ that the prince de Stahremberg has both with England and against her.-I omitted to explain, from whom he has rehave dwelt with some particularity upon ceived his commission to propose sending the construction of this phrase, and I plenipotentiaries to Paris, whether from must further observe, that the word avec the Austrian minister, or from the govern in French, and with in English as applied ment of France;” such explanation was to war in the respective languages to wholly unnecessary, he certainly had pro. which they belong, admit of equivocal in- duced no powers from France, but he proterpretations; (in common parlance) when fessed not to be the accredited agent of you say, that one power is at war with France, nor indeed to be the agent of another, you mean that one power is at France in any way; he told you that he war against another : but it is not uncom- acted under the orders of his government; mon to say, and it is sufficiently correct and, in so acting “ conformed to the deto say, for instance, that Russia is at sire of the court of the Thuilleries." He war with Prussia against France, it would had his credentials from Austria, they were indeed be more correct at all times to say, in your hands, he was therefore the minisEngland is at war against France, than to ter of Austria only; from Austria alone say England is at war with France. But he had received his powers; you could if there could exist any doubt upon the not doubt whether he was the Austrian or interpretation of this phrase, why, before the French minister, and pretending to the right hon, secretary dwelt upon it in have such a doubt, was in itself most ofthe manner which he so injudiciously fensive to the person whom you addressadopted in his answer to this note, did he ed. The alternative is then put, that the not ask the prince de Stahremberg in a prince de Stahremberg acts under the auprivate communication, what the real thority of the court of Vienna : and recogmeaning and intention of Austria was? nizing the ambassador in his proper chaInstead of that, giving his own interpre- racter, his majesty complains “ of the littation (and that as I contend a wrong one) tle reference that is had by the court of to the phrase in question, he builds upon it Vienna, to the conditions which were in the most offensive paragraph of his offen- April stated by his majesty to be indispensive answer. But in my view of the mat- sible preliminaries to the opening of a neter, it is most material as to the future, gociation, for while the note of the underthat it should be impressed upon the signed of the 23d of November last, is mind of the house, and upon the pub. cited by the prince de Stahremberg as lic, that such was the offer of Austria, and the foundation of the present proposal, such the intention of Franc because it his majesty observes with surprise, that will strengthen the main argument, that this proposal nevertheless extends only it is possible still to negociate with France to the powers combined with France in upon the footing of equality, and that the the war against G. Britain, and not to French governinent hitherto has not mani- the allies of G, Britain in the war with fested any design, that England in any ne- France.” Sir, in dwelling upon the gociation that may be entered into with expression contained in the note of the her, should be placed on a footing of in- prince de Stahremberg, I have said all I equality with respect to France. -Sir, I have to say, upon this part of Mr. Canpass on to the Answer signed by Mr. Can- ning's answer. I contend that the exning, upon which I must dwell in detail. pression, in the prince de Stahremberg's
letter, is, to say the least of it, equivocal; of such a request made by France, that that if it be equivocal, it was the duty of I must pass it over without comment. Mr. Canning to have obtained from the Very soon after, is revived the difficulty prince de Stahremberg, a distinct in about a basis, and a complaint is made, terpretation of it; and if he did not that no intimation is given of the basis think that necessary, he ought to have upon which it is proposed to negociate. given an interpretation the most favourable The answer to that, I have before given. to the court of Vienna; which would have If you think a basis indispensible, it must been, that she adhered to her original pro- be presumed that you are prepared with position of the 18th of April ; but that it one; if you are prepared with one, why, is most unjustifiable to put an arbitrary instead ofraising a difficulty with regard to construction upon an equivocal sentence, the enemy, do you not level the difficulty and then argue as if that construction were by making a communication of your own it's real, true, undisputed construction. basis? It is then observed, that if ever it In this case, undoubtedly, the grammatical could have been matter of doubt, whether construction of the sentence in question the previous settlement of a basis of newas of great importance : and I am per-gociation were necessary to the hope of its suaded, that neither Austria offered, nor successful termination, the experience of did France intend that the mediation of that the last negociation with France would court should be offered to the exclusion of have placed that question beyond controthe allies of G. Britain. The other alter- versy. Sir, undoubtedly I think it would, native is then taken, that the prince Stah- but not in the way intended by Mr. Secreremberg speaks in the name of the court tary Canning. I think that the prelimiof the Thuilleries. It is on this hypothesis nary condition of a basis was the bane of said, that in professing to speak in the that negociation. That its introduction name of another power, besides that of into the discussions was fatal to them, and Austria, a statement of some precise au- that owing to the insisting upon the prelithority on the part of that power should minary basis, it was impossible to ascerhave been made, or some specific and au- tain whether peace could or could not thenticated document produced which have been accomplished.- Then comes a alone could justify the court, to which he paragraph which in itself is perfectly unaddressed himself, in founding a public exceptionable; and if it had been sent to and important measure upon such a com- Paris, accompanied only by one or two munication;" certainly if he had professed preceeding sentences of form, and one or to speak in the name of France, powers two succeeding sentences of conciliation, a from France ought to have been produced; negociation might have now been on foot. but the decisive, and ready answer to the The paragraph runs thus, “ his majesty is whole of that paragraph is, that he did not willing to treat with France, but he will profess to speak in the name of France.- treat only on a footing of perfect equality ; We now come to a most extraordinary he is ready to treat with the allies of France, part of the Note, in which the secretary of but the negociation must equally embrace
" that it was reasonably to be the allies of G. Britain.” Had the answer expected, that a pledge as solemn and au- been confined to that one paragraph, and thentic on the part of France, as that given the reply on the part of France had been by his majesty to France, should have been in the negative; no question would have communicated before his majesty could be remained that she was insincere, and called upon to make any further advance." there would have been an end of the whole I should have thought that the proposal on matter. Had the answer been in the affirthe part of France, for England to send mative, no obstacle to negociation could negociators to Paris, was a pledge of the have presented itself. Another unnecespacific disposition of France; but to my sary difficulty is raised in the course of great surprise, I find that this desire is most this note, and a punctilio created between grossly " misconstrued into an implication this court and the court of the Thuilleries, of an unjustifiable doubt of the sincerity which, but for the ingenuity of the secre. of his majesty's professions.” I really am tary of state, would never have existed. quite at a loss for any ground, upon which I am not aware of any inconvenience this can be plausibly stated. It appears to which has ever resulted from the negociame so completely different from the notion tion carried on at Paris. I do not recol. that any person endowed with the least lect that lord Malmsbury stated any in. degree of candour would have formed, convenience arising from this source, and I do not know of any circumstance in the court of Vienna, and professing to act mission of the earls of Lauderdale and under the orders of that court in the comYarmouth, that should induce Englandmunication he had made), and having in to declare positively that she never would this very note received the exposition of again send negociators to Paris. I know the sentiments of the court of London, on that my view of the negociation of 1806 | the important subject of negociation beis not that which is taken by the right tween the belligerents, is expressly told, hon. gentlemen over against me, and I “ that he has no authority to speak in the perfectly well recollect, the delay in giv- name of his majesty to the government of ing passports to lord Lauderdale was
France.” To what end then has the dwelt upon with great indignation and whole been written? Sir, it appears that acrimony by those right hon. gentlemen; the bitter and sarcastic language contained but I viewed that circumstance in a light in this note was not intended to answer very different from them; and at all events any practical purpose whatever, and that they will allow me to recall to their re- the only object of it was to offend the collection, that admitting the demand of prince de Stahremberg, who had been passports had not been attended to with guilty of the high crime of acting in obethe respect and promptitude which is due dience to the orders of his own court, and to all such demands made by a negociator agreeably to the desire of that of France. I in the country of the enemy; an apology have now,sir, gone through the whole of the for the delay was both demanded and Austrian correspondence; and can only made; and that lord Lauderdale did not say, that if ministers were determined that renew his conferences, until he had ob- this offer of mediation should not issue in tained the satisfaction due to his court. a negociation, and should not be producHere, however, is an unnecessary difficulty tive of any avenue to negociation, in any created. You profess only to be upon a way whatever, they could not have confooting of equality with France, she offers ducted themselves otherwise than they you a place of negociation which you did; and that if they had conducted peremptorily decline, whatever place for themselves in any conceivable manner, negociation you may designate, she will different from that which they have done, have an equal right to refuse. How are a negociation must infallibly have been these disputes to be terminated, and which the consequence. I have only further to power is to concede this false point of observe a little, upon one of the conditions honour? Sir, I only hope that ministers stipulated both here, and in the Russian may be more wise, than to think it neces- mediation, that of a preliminary basis: and sary to abide by their own premature and I do so with a view of calling the attention intemperate declarations. I cannot pass of the house, and of the right hon. gent. over the remainder of the note without himself, to his own opinions upon that some observation. The prince de Stah- subject.-For myself, I must always conremberg is a person of consequence in his sider the demand of a precise basis, (as own country. Throughout Europe, he is preliminary to the acceptance of mediaknown to be attached to the interests of tion, or even as preliminary to entering England, and has even suffered, on account into negociation) neither wise nor expeof his avowed attachment to her wellare, dient, and if I wanted any confirmation of some indignities on the part of the French my opinion upon that subject, I think I emperor. He is a man of high honour could find it in a pamphlet published and reputation, and a person, for whom under the name of Mr. Canning, purporting one should imagine, as well on his own to be a speech delivered by him in this account, as on account of the court of house, on the 5th Jan. 1807, in a debate Vienna, which has been faithful to Eng- on the conduct of the late negociation with land under all circumstances, might have France. In that speech, Mr. Canning is met with respect from his majesty's minis- represented as making use of these reters. But Mr. Canning having gone out markable expressions. I trouble the house of the way to offend him, by separating with the passage at length, because I think the person of the prince from the charac his argument clear and decisive upon the ter of the Austrian ambassador, concludes point. Mr. Canning says, and if, as the his note by the most extraordinary decla-noble lord (Howick) has informed us, ration perhaps that ever was made at any Mr. Fox rejected the suggestion of taktime by any minister. It is this : the prince ing the stipulations of the treaty of de Stahremberg (so accredited from the Amiens for i he basis of negociation, beVOL. X,
cause he thought that they were vague, any attempt to apply the uti possidetis) and indefinite; and that more time there more time in the application and adjustfore would be lost in defining and ad-ment of the basis than would have been justing the basis, than might be sufficient sufficient to discuss and settle the terms (if well employed) for discussing and of the most complicated negociation.* settling the main points of a negociation, Sir, I am perfectly well aware that Mr.' is it possible that the noble lord should Canning is here stating what was Mr. not perceive that the adoption of the Fox's reasoning upon the subject of a uti possidetis would have been liable to basis ; and what the line of his conduet similar embarrassment; that he should appeared to have been. I agree with him 'not be aware of the perplexed and in- in the position he has laid down with re“terminable discussions which must have gard to Mr. Fox, and I think that the rea-'arisen in the attempt to define the pre- soning which he has given to Mr. Fox 'cise degree of possession, occupation, or upon the impropriety of insisting upon any • controul which should or should not en- technical basis whatever, is incontroverti. * title to the benefit of the uti possidetis ? ble. I am however warranted in suppos'to determine, for instance, whether the ing that the right hon. gent. also himself • kingdom of Holland; whether the princi- thinks that reasoning perfectly correct; * palities of the Rhine, whether Southern because, after having stated it so clearly Germany, whether the fortresses of Aus- and ably as he has done in that pamphlet, tria herself, should at the outset of a ne- he gives no opinion in contradiction to it, gociation, be acknowledged by us to be although in the course of the speech he • the lawful and confirmed possessions of took every opportunity to stigmatize such * France, except so far as they might be errors as he supposed imputable to the “ redeemed by such equivalents as we conduct of the whole of the administration "might be able and disposed to give in engaged in that negociation. And he evi*exchange for them. I am confident, dently contrasts the wise policy of Mr. Fox,
(and the very argument which the noble with that which he represents as in the • lord himself has advanced, renders me highest degree blameable in those who • still more confident in the opinion) that succeeded him in the management of the * such was Mr. Fox's view of the subject, negociation.-Sir, a question may be here • that his passing by the treaty of Amiens, asked of me, why, if you think the para• when it was first suggested by M. Tal- graph which you have quoted, and which • leyrand, and proceeding to suggest, in- is contained in the letter of Mr. Canning stead of it, something which he called a to the prince de Stahremberg, namely, basis, but which in fact amounted to no- " that his majesty is willing to treat with thing more than the statement of a prin- France, but he will treat only, on a foot
ciple, which might be taken for granted ing of perfect equality; he is ready to « to prevail in every negociation, the treat with the allies of France, but the • honour and glory of the two countries, negociation must equally embrace the (was dictated, by precisely the same mo- interests of the allies of G. Britain ;' why, • tive which afterwards induced him in his, if you think that paragraph contains all « answer to M. Talleyrand's letter of the that would be necessary as an overture to * 2nd of June, to accept so easily M. Tal- France for entering into negociation, do • leyrand's proposed additional principle you require any thing more at the hands
of continental and maritime guarantee, of the administration? Sir, I allow that • in preference to (and one must fairly say the paragraph in question contains the
in exclusion of) the other offer, which is whole that would be necessary for my « asserted to have been made at the same purpose : but a paragraph may be so ac• time through lord Yarmouth, of uti pos- companied as to make it obnoxious in the
sidetis, and the motive which in each company which it keeps, when by itself « case operated with Mr. Fox, appears to it might convey an amicable meaning. « have been simply the desire to avoid any Such is the present case. And moreover • technical basis, as utterly inapplicable to Mr. Canning has so contrived it, that even • the existing state of the world, and as if there were nothing offensive in the - likely to require (as the noble lord letter, to detract from the amicable con• Howick has himself contended would struction which might be put upon the • have been the case with the stipulations paragraph separately considered, he has • of the treaty of Amiens, and as I think I • liave shewn would equally have arisen in * Şee vol. viii. p. 393.
precluded the possibility of eventual ) France humbled herself to adopt the only advantage by telling the Austrian am- path which England had left open for her bassador that he is not to communi - advances. In that light indeed I am incate to France the intentions of the clined to view it, and I cannot conceive king's government; and therefore the pa- any thing more desirable than that one of ragraph is without effect, excepting so far the belligerent powers should avail herself as it may be calculated, in common with with the utmost promptitude of the inthe rest of the letter, to offend the court fluence which she possessed over another of Austria, in the person of its ambassador. power recognized by both, as competent Upon the whole, I think that in all the to exercise the high and friendly office of records of diplomatic transactions, no pro- mediation, to communicate her intentions duction can be found more replete with directly to the other belligerent. It is in offence, or more inconsistent with the vain to dwell longer upon this subject, betrue and genuine character of a statesman. cause no such objection has been started It may be said in extenuation of Mr. Can-upon the part of government.--I ought to ning's conduct, that it is evident from apologize for having detained the house some short notes of a posterior date, that so long upon this part of the question; the prince de - Stahremberg could have but in justice to the right hon. gent. so had no authority for his conduct from the deeply interested in the transaction, I court of Vienna; because in answer to a was bound to go into a minute detail. In question put to him by Mr. Canning, rela- | justice to myself, and to the propositions tive to the departure of Mr. Adair from which I intend to establish upon these paVienna, the prince de Stahremberg says, pers, it was necessary that I should discuss that he has received no dispatches from them much at length, and I trust that I his court since the 30th of Oct. In an- have in some measure succeeded in conswer to that, I have only to remark that vincing the house, that another golden the count de Metternich, the Austrian opportunity has been lost, not indeed ambassador to the court of the Thuilleries, of making peace, (for I beg the house was at Paris: it was therefore very possi- again to understand, that I do, and alble that communications should be trans- ways have carefully abstained from the mitted from the count de Stadion, the mi- assertion, that peace in any case might nister for foreign affairs at Vienna, through have been made) but of entering into necount Metternich to the prince de Stah- gociation, for the purpose of ascertaining remberg, and that he might have full whether peace could or could not be efauthority for every step that he took (as fected. I have thought it my duty to exin fact there can be no question that he pose to the severest censure of this house, had), without any immediate and direct the conduct of the king's government upon communication with Vienna.—Another this occasion, and more particularly that of observation may be made, upon the situa- bis majesty's secretary of state for foreign tion of the court of Vienna, as offering to affairs; because it does appear to me necesmediate at this period, between G. Britain sary to state my opinion to the house and and France. It may be objected that the the country at large of his utter insufficienstate of subserviency in which that court cy to guide us through the dangers and difwas placed towards the court of the Thuil- ficulties which surround us in this crisis of leries, disqualified her for the office of me- our fate. I am sure the right hon. gent. diation. If such indeed had been stated from the freedom that he has taken with by the king's ministers to have been the the characters of some of his colleagues in reason of their rejection of the mediation, office, will excuse the freedom which I it would have been fair to argue, that as
have taken with his official character; on the one hand, the subserviency of the having on a former occasion declared in court of Vienna to the French govern- his place in this house, his colleague lord ment, disqualified her for the office of me- Hawkesbury unqualified to hold the office diatrix; so on the other hand, that France of foreign affuirs, he cannot object to my being in possession of the full powers expressing the opinion that I entertain of given to the Austrian minister at Paris, to the comparative merits of his majesty's make such communications as France present secretaries of state. Upon a reshould think fit to dictate to the Austrian view then of the papers which have been minister at the court of London, and laid upon the table of the house of comknowing that England could not be ap- mons signed by lord Hawkesbury, and proached, except in the way of mediation, those signed by Mr. Canning, I can have