« PreviousContinue »
and examine it freely. To be satisfied him to adopt measures which no arguwith every thing had been esteemed a ments or events can recommend to those mark of piety and christian resignation. who now regulate his councils. That virIn this view, the present ministers were tuous lady, the empress of Russia, it was the most pious men in the world. They likewise said, had sent her feet to the were satisfied with the improvement of our North Seas, but it was to eat English situation since last year. It was stated that meat and to learn English discipline, not a check had been received in Italy, but it to afford a cordial co-operation in any was not remembered, that at the period professed object of the war. It had been alluded to, the Republicans had not pene- said, that general discontent would protrated into Italy. It was likewise said, duce some change in the situation of the that the army upon the Rhine had been affairs of France. If sufferings and calaforced to retire. The army of the Rhine, mity contributed to produce any practical however, had not last year crossed the improvement in the constitution of a Rhine, and now they were only prevented country, he wished the principle to be from advancing to the Danube, and applied to ourselves. And if a state of obliged to limit their progress to the Ger. misery, and famine, and discontent were man side of the Rhine. We were now at the guides to a better order of things, the war with Holland, which might likewise people of England were in the high road be thought by ministers to contribute to of its attainment. The armament of the the improvement of our situation. The West Indies appeared to him to infer the king of Prussia, after having cheated this utmost criminality in ministers. The fleet nation, had been vindicated by the noble ought to have sailed six weeks ago, inlord, on the plea, that he was justified stead of which it could not set sail for at by necessity. Spain, too, had now for- least a fortnight. It had been remarked saken the confederacy, and increased the by the hon. gentleman, that the ministers “ satisfaction” of the minister. In the acted upon no principles, and that for this West Indies we had at one time three reason they merited his confidence. It islands, which were now reduced to two. must be confessed indeed, that they disFrom the scarcity with which we were covered no fixed principles in the conduct threatened formerly, there was now an of their plans, or in the choice of the objects acknowledged famine. He was astonished of their exertions. The secretary of state how such words could be inserted in the for the war department had boasted that Speech, and pronounced by his majesty the expedition to the West Indies was a with a smile of conscious triumph, at the favourite with him. This right hon. genvery moment when he was carried through tleman was no knight-errant, he was one the midst of his starving, dejected, and of those who wished to obtain some valuaeven beset with his irritated, clamorous ble acquisition, and had no objection to subjects. The prospect of peace, he said, lay hold of an island to swell the number was now more distant than ever. In the of our colonies. A young man (Mr. Jenspeech of the session before last, it was kinson), more sanguine in the cause of said that a continuation of our efforts, was the emigrants and of monarchy, had pronecessary to bring the object of the war posed to march instantly to Paris; he to a successful termination,” and at the wished to strike at the heart of the Reconclusion of last session hopes were rais- public, while the allies only struck at the ed of such a state of order and regular go- extremity: he would have fastened on vernment as might be capable of main the core, they only nibbled at the rind; taining the relations of amity and peace. instead of assailing the capital, they only Now it is said, that next year will produce braved the dangers of Noirmoutier and events of which it is impossible to foresee Poitou. These disastrous expeditions the consequences, like the predictions of where the wretched emigrants were left the almanack-maker, who announces to the vengeance of their incensed counevents of which all Europe will be the trymen, however, seemed to awaken na witness. Jealousies were commonly en- sentiments of English pride or resentment. tertained of the introduction of Hanove. It was not, indeed, British blood which rian troops into this country, but he de- had flowed, but it was British honour clared he should have no objection to im- which had bled at every pore, and the port the whole Hanoverian council, and murderous enterprises must one day," sit instal them in the office of his majesty's heavy on the souls” of the authors of them. present ministers. They might advise -We were, however, determined to save the islands, and a desperate effort was to the house of Bourbon, who had been the be made ; for his part, he had not the heart uniform and inveterate enemies of Great to survey the gloom in which affairs were Britain ? No association with the Repubinvolved. In Martinique there was only lic, could be so destructive to our interone regiment of effective men.
ests; for never were there worse neightertained great doubts of the policy of bours on earth than the French during the enlarging our West India possessions, monarchy. The rash and fruitless atwhich could only serve to drain what we tempts to restore that family, ought could least spare-men, 15,000 troops therefore to be totally relinquished, and had been landed in St. Domingo, from government should declare itself willing whence 1,500 were sent to Grenada, of to treat with the French republic. whom, in four months, 14 officers and Mr. Jenkinson could not but consider 400 men were lost. They were stuffed into the present moment as extremely improper hospitals in the most deplorable situation, for negociation. An anxiety for immeand by the most unaccountable negligence diate negociation would only serve to rewere deprived of the aid both of medicine tard peace, and raise the demanıls of our and surgeons.
From the most culpable enemies. He justified his former declarainattention to the providing of necessary tion respecting a direct march of the transports, 90 instead of 4.0, were put on allied army to Paris, declaring that the board each ship, without the possibility of overthrow of the French government was accommodation. The death of the many not so chimerical as the hon. gentleman who perished in this shocking manner inferred. General Dumourier, whose cha. ought justly to be imputed to the con- racter as a military man gave weight to duct of administration.-He considered his opinion, had declared himself conthe minister of Charles 2d, when that weak vinced of the practicability of the scheme, monarch was the pensioner of France, not and its defeat was in a great measure ocmore guilty of treason than the minister casioned by the want of fidelity and of who should expend the treasure of this exertion upon the part of the allies. He country in replacing upon the throne of contended, however, that considerable France the family of the Bourbons, the success had been gained. The situation of natural enemies of Britain. We, on our the people of France at the end of 1793 side of the House, have told you before, was different from that of the present peto do as the king of Prussia had done ;/ riod. In 1793 they were furious in their find out what government the French ar- profession of the doctrines of equality, mies obey, under whose command and and zealous in their propagation. "They control they beat the world, and nego- had now abated much of their vehemence. ciate with them ; we have told you to do The plan of their new constitution seemed as Spain had done ; we now tell you to do more agreeable to reason, experience, and as the elector of Hanover has done.--Mr. policy. Should this plan be reduced to S. adverted to the declaration of Louis practice, the objection to the fluctuating 18th. He had suspicions, that it was in nature of the government, would be rethe heart of ministers to act up to the moved. That we had succeeded in repelspirit of that declaration, and to establish, ling the danger with which we were threatif possible, the old unqualified system of ened, was undeniable. From the important despotism in France. Against such an successes which marked the commenceobject he must make his stand, as far as it ment of the war, various royalist insurrecmight go. To the support or increase of the tions had taken place. From these one of naval force for the defence of Great Bri. three alternatives was to have been extain and her commerce, he would give pected, either, that the enemy would have his hearty support, but to establish the been unable to oppose the allies, that a purpose of Louis 18th he would not give a counter-revolution would have been effectshilling of his constituents money, if it ed, or that a civil war would have burst were true as it was suspected, that the forth. Unfortunately for France, for Euheads of that proclamation were penned rope, and for humanity, the system of in this country, with the concurrence and terror and of Robespierre, built upon
the under the direction of ministers. Why Rights of Man, was introduced. That the were the race of Stuarts expelled but be. war was not the cause of that system gaincause they entered into a league with ing ground, was undeniable. It was clear France? And could any league be more
that it owed its credit to its fascinating indestructive to this country than one with fluence over the minds of the people. By (VOL. XXXII.)
degrees they felt its miseries. In the dawn hon. friend (Mr. Sheridan) had said on of returning reason, they submitted to the the surprise which the first insulting papower which freed them from the oppres- ragraph of his majesty's speech must sion under which they had groaned, and excite in the bosom of every man; and which, in its turn, he had no doubt they wbich, in the old times of spirit and would remove. The war, he said, tended energy that distinguished the people of to abridge the duration of that system, and this country, would have drawn upon the the miseries it produced in France. The ministers who were the authors of it, determination of France to retain Holland indignation and punishment. He said, was, he said, an insuperable obstacle to an insulting paragraph, for it was not enough immediate peace. No man would deny, that it seemed, that they should with impuit was an object of infinite importance to nity persist for three years together in prevent France from gaining so large anex- the prosecution of a war for miserable tent of coast as the superiority of Holland speculations it was not enough, to add and the Netherlands afforded.' Possessing one hundred millions of debt to the cathe whole coast from Bayonne to the We- pital, to load the people with five milser, she might in peace usurp our com- lions per annum of permanent taxes-it merce, and in war distress us by her was not enough to grind the poor and cruizers, and be enabled by the increase unhappy people of this country in such of her naval strength to oppose not only a manner as to make almost every man strength to strength, but strength to our of them feel the misfortune of scarcity weakness. It would be highly unwise to and want, but they must also be insulted, enter upon immediate negociation, when by putting into his majesty's mouth, in the a few months might place us in a situation very first paragraph of his speech the to treat with greater advantage. In the impudent falsehood, that their situation beginning of this war, he acknowledged was “ materially improved !" How was that the restoration of the emigrants, and their situation improved? In what cirof the monarchy of France were objects cumstances were the affairs of this counthat he equally wished and expected, con- try bettered since the last year? Were sidering them as objects of infinite im- they improved from the recent success portance to the country. Were it possi- of the Austrian army? This success, ble still to restore them, he should consi- whatever it might be, and of which he der it as a fair object of war. Though he believed ministers had not themselves was one who once thought that object at any very perfect account, was not an imtainable, he now saw no probability of its provement in comparison with the last final success.
year, but the last week; and surely it General Tarleton observed, that the could not be called an improvement of prospect of affairs was, indeed most gloomy. our situation, since last year the French The numerous army, with which the were not in possession of a foot of terriFrench had lately obliged the king of tory beyond the Rhine. That they might Spain to come into their own terms, would now be forced to retreat was possible, and now be employed in the invasion of Italy, perhaps it was possible, that in compawhile our efforts against the French pos- rison with the disasters which were exsessions in the West Indies, would pected from the continuance of their sucprobably be frustrated, as they had cessful career, this retreat might be conbeen on the coast of France, through strued into an improvement; but that it misconduct on our side, and the diffi- should come from his majesty's ministers, culty of the very attempt itself. It was who had prevailed on parliament to guavain to repeat exertions that had been so rantee to Austria a loan of four millions successively foiled. Ministers were no and a half, which was to procure positive longer deserving of confidence; their evi- conquests on the part of Austria, was dent incapacity required their immediate somewhat curious. They had told parliadismission, and the trial of new men, as ment that, from the various points of conwell as of new measures,
tact between the Austrian dominions and Mr. For said, that after hearing his France, the Emperor was capable of semajesty's speech, and after hearing the riously wounding her, if assisted by this arguments which had been advanced for country; and upon these representations, the address, he should not feel that he the House was prevailed upon to become did his duty, if he were to give a silent the guarantee of this enormous loan. vote. He had little to add to what his Now, what was the issue of these representations? Instead of Austria having ple of Great Britain as a matter of conso. been able to penetrate into any part of Iation to them! He would not quarrel the French dominions, or to wound them about the words “ unparalleled distress!" in any one point, they were told that it it might be so ; but he must animadvert was an improvement of their situation, on the strange logic which was used that the French had recently been forced upon the occasion; for the people of this to retreat from posts of which they were country were to be told, that this unpanot in possession at the time of the gua- ralleled distress of the French was owing rantee. Was it an improvement in our entirely to the war; whereas the distresses situation, that they had extended their of England had nothing on earth to do dominion beyond the Rhine ; that Man with it! How such a difference could heim had fallen into their hands, and that exist in the operation of the war it was the greater part of the palatinate had not for him to divine-that in France all also been over-run? It was an insult on their scarcity, all their calamities were the understandings of Englishmen, to say to be imputed to it, but that in Engthat in this quarter of the war there was land the war had no effect whatever on an improvement in our situation. The our internal situation. If the people of check given to the French in Italy was this country had so thoroughly surren. also introduced as a matter of triumph; dered their understandings to the elothat was because the French had not suc- quence of ministers as to believe this ceeded in all their extent of operations, kind of logic, he had no niore to say; it and because they were not masters of was impossible to add any thing that could every part of the countries they had in- expuse so gross an absurdity –The devaded, the situation of Great Britain was preciation of assignats was the everlastimproved. Or did ministers mean to in- ing burthen of all their harangues. sinuate that, in a general comparison of “ France was utterly undone! France the situation of the two countries, our was incapable of all exertion ! France was state was better than last year?
completely exhausted in consequence of It had been alleged by himself and the depreciation of her assignats!" This others, in the course of last session, that had been the incessant story with which there was great reason to apprehend a the parliament and people of this country, scarcity of grain in the kingdom, and that had been deluded from the beginning of it was worthy the consideration of mi- the war. Last
year they were told, that nisters, before they pressed for a continu- France could not go on, for her assignats ance of a system that necessarily increased were at a discount of eighty per cent. the consumption, to see that the country [Some gentleman said in a whisper, that was plentifully supplied with the necessa- it was not last year, but the year
before ries of life. This observation was treated that this was said]. Last year, or the with the most lofty disdain, and in a tone year before, said Mr. Fox, it is a little of insolent and haughty indignation, the maiter which ; it is hardly possible for suggestion was imputed to a factious spi. any memory to state the precise time of rit, which sought to raise an unnecessary these assertions, they have been so incesalarm in the minds of men. But how santly made, so incessantly repeated, had the event turned out ? That these so incessantly held forth to the peowarnings had been most lamentably verit ple of this country as grounds of hope, fied, it was not necessary for him he be and have so constantly ended in dislieved, now to state ; nor would it be all appointment, that whether it was last leged, that in this particular our internal year, or the year before, was precisely situation was “ materially improved.” In the same to the argument. When he proved! Good God, when we were re- was told that the assignats were at a disduced to such a point of misery, that, count of 80 per cent. he ceased to think looking into the situation of the common upon the subject : from the moment that labourer, from one end of the country to they were at 80 per cent. discount, it was the other, it was a melancholy and a heart- no longer of consequence to speculate breaking fact, that not one man out of upon them. All theories of mere arithten was able by his labour to earn suffi- meticians on the subject were from that cient bread for himself and his family! \instant at an end; when a paper currency Oh, but it seemed that France was re- was at 80 per cent, discount, it would be duced to a situation of “ unparalleled dis- said, upon the mere calculations of theory. tress!" And this was held out to the peo. to be tantamount to extinction. But when he looked to experience and prac. | ment, so as to enable us to treat with them tice, when he referred to the example of with confidence and security. What do America, a reflecting statesman would they say now? « The distraction and hesitate before he presumed to delude anarchy' which have so long prevailed in his country, by building on such an hy- that country have led to a crisis" When pothesis. And, accordingly, as if the I heard these words, said Mr. Fox, I instance of America had not been suffi- took it for granted that we were to be cient to correct the fallacy of mere cal. told the exact nature of the crisis, and culation on such a subject, France had the good which our ministers were about given another lesson on the point-France to extract from it. But, mark the words: that was reduced to such a state of weak- have led to a crisis of which it is, as yet, ness, as, from her deplorable situation, to impossible to foresee the issue.” Here is be held out as an easy prey-France, a piece of information for the parliament that, in the month of June last, was said and people of Great Britain ! It goes on, to be gasping in her last agonies, and however : “ but which must in all human when, on account of her deplorable situa- probability produce"-Ay, now we come, tion, it was said to be impolitic for us to I hope, to the desirable point - produce give her peace-France has, since the peace, I hope-no such thing !-"produce date of her expiring agony, made the consequences highly important to the inmost brilliant campaign that the history terests of Europe !" Good God! is this a of mankind almost ever exhibited, in proof of the improvement of our situation which her arms had every where been since last year? Does this hold out to triumphant, and where, by the mere force the oppressed and starving people of Engof conquest, she had reduced almost every land a nearer prospect of the termination one of our allies to sue for peace, and se- of this unfortunate war? Last year their cure their safety by negociation. Such distress was likely to produce such an orwas the issue of their calculations upon der of things as would give us a secure her distress ! He was afraid, he said, of peace; and now, all that we are to look. such agonies; and surely no man of com- for from the distraction and anarchy that mon sense, after such a result, would again reign in France, are consequences that calculate upon success from the depre- may be “important to the interests of ciation of their paper.
Europe!" What period of the eventful But it was not their paper only which history of this wonderful revolution has was adduced as a proof of their distress ;) not been productive of consequences mathey were utterly destitute of provisions, terially important to Europe? Of what it seemed ; and as an argument for conti-change that has taken place might not the nuing the war, the House were told, that same thing be said ? When the revoluthe French government had been obliged tion, as it is called, of the 31st of May to unload the ships at Brest in order to took place, might it not have been said, supply Paris with bread. This was said that a crisis was approached that might to have been their condition. Be it so. have produced consequences important Whai must be their feeling of the cause to the interests of Europe ? When Robein which they had engaged, that under spierre's tyranny was extinguished, might such a pressure of scarcity, could rouse not the same thing have been said ? Upon them to such exertions ? Those who had the insurrections that have happened from last year held out this argument of their time to time, and particularly on the late distress as a ground of hope, and who put insurrection, in short, on every great into his majesty's speech the memorable event that has arisen in France, the same expression, “ that the internal situation of equivocal words might have been used by the enemy should make us indulge a hope his majesty's ministers. that they were hastening to such a state What, then, were the people of England of order and regular government, as might to understand from these words now? be capable of maintaining the accustomed What prospect did they hold forth that relations of peace and amity with other his majesty's ministers were to seize on powers," would now explain upon what the first favourable moment in which they better grounds they held out the less pre- might negociate beneficially for peace? If cise and less intelligible hope of the pre- they were to argue from their past consent speech. They then said, that the duct, they surely could draw no favourdistresses were likely to produce a return able conclusion, nor any rational ground of a state of order and regular govern- of hope from these unintelligible words.