Page images
[ocr errors]

to-morrow, when it was agreed to nem. quisition. Thus far, therefore, consider.

ing our situation as relative to that of our

enemy, we had just reason to assert, that The King's Answer to the Joint Address the ultimate advantage was on our side. of both Houses.] The Address being pre- | Their finances too, were in such a state of sented to his Majesty on the 31st, his Ma- ruin and confusion, that shortly the jesty returned this Answer:

whole system must inevitably go to des“ My Lords and Gentlemen,

truction. At this moment, the deprecia6 I receive, with great pleasure, this tion of their assignats was as seventy to additional proof of your uniform zeal and one.

On the other hand, we were in posloyalty. I have too much reason to be session of immense revenues, and enjoyed assured of the affectionate and steady at- a flourishing commerce, while that of our tachment of my people at large, to have enemy was annihilated. Arts and manufelt any other sentiment upon this occa factures flourished with us; our enemy sion than that of concern at so high a they had totally forsaken. In this point violation of the laws. I shall not fail to of view, therefore, we had an infinite sugive such directions as may best tend to periority. He thought it also a subject bring to justice and punishment the of congratulation to their lordships, that persons concerned in an offence so dan. our enemies seemed approaching to that gerous to the public tranquillity, and so state of order and government, which injurious to our excellent constitution." would render it possible for us to enter

into negociation with them. They now Debate in the Lords on the Address of earnestly wished to enjoy a settled form Thanks.] Oct. 30. The order of the of government. If the present crisis day being read for taking his Majesty's should produce such an event, his majesty Speech into consideration.

had graciously informed them, he would The Earl of Mount Edgecumbe rose, for gladly treat for peace. With regard to the purpose of moving an Address. He the high price of grain, that House could said, he could not but participate in not repair the evils arising from a bad the feelings expressed by his majesty, season; but, in their legislative character and was perfectly convinced that our re they might, perhaps, prevent monopoly, lative situation was much improved. On and the unfair practices of trade. He the part of Italy, where much anxiety then moved an address, which was, as had prevailed, respecting the progress of usual, an echo of the speech. French arms, nothing was now to be ap- Lord Walsingham seconded the adprehended. They were confined within dress. He insisted, that, from the detheir own limits, and we had no cause of ranged state of the French finances, a alarm in that quarter. On the side of short time must inevitably bring them to Germany, it was true, they had been more ruin. Yet, even at this time, his majesty successful. But there also they had met did not evince a vindictive disposition, with a severe check. They had passed but declared himself ready to treat, whenthe Rhine, and pushed forwards, while ever any government appeared with which they saw not the face of an enemy to op

we could safely treat. And, surely, no one pose them. Now they had found one ca- could wish for peace, unless it was perpable of punishing their rashness, and who manent; for, of all evils, a patched-up, had succesfully pursued the advantages temporary peace was the greatest that which they had gained. Although our could befall a nation. In another view, it enemy had acquired great territorial pos. was also to be dreaded : for, should our sessions, yet, happily, not one of those forces be disbanded, it would be difficult evil consequences had happened which it again to bring them to the pitch at which was supposed would result from the addi-| they now were. tion to their power. They had conquered The Duke of Bedford said, that from Holland, the possession of which it was that respect which was due to the dignity generally supposed would carry such an of the House, he should wish an address accession to their naval force as would to be adopted, not merely echoing the render them more formidable than they speech, but couched in language more had hitherto been. But the immense ex. suitable to the importance of the crisis. penses incurred by their expedition It was always understood that the speech against that country, far exceeded any was the composition of ministers, and that advantage they had derived from the ac- they were responsible for its contents. It had been repeatedly asserted, that their tions, or had confided in those prospects assignats were in a state of such discredit, of success with respect to the issue of the that the French could not continue the war, which had been held out by ministers. war three months longer. But, in propor- - But it was asserted in the speech, that tion to the depreciation of their assignats, there prevailed in France a state of things had the vigour of their exertions increased. of which it was impossible to foresee the Their success, therefore, was the grand issue ; that the present crisis might lead criterion to which he looked, and not to to events important to Europe. The any vague conclusions of reasoning. With transactions which had taken place in this success before their eyes, he was as- France within the last three years, had, tonished that the minister should make indeed, been fatally important to Europe. use of the word “ satisfaction,” as ap- But what was there in such a declaration plied to the present posture of affairs, and at the present moment applicable to the presume to say that our situation was nature of our situation, or calculated to improved. It was an idle assertion, un. afford any rational prospect of peace? supported by argument, founded upon Were we to wait till ministers should den the most gross and palpable misrepresen- termine that the period had arrived when tation, and only calculated to impose upon France was competent 10 maintain the the understanding of their lordships. relations of peace and amity ? Were we What was this boasted improvement of to exercise confidence in the men, of our situation? We were referred to what whose blunders and mismanagement we had taken place in Italy. But what had had daily experienced the most lamentataken place there, partook more of an ble proofs? One expedition he could escape than a triumph. In every other not omit mentioning. "It was held out, quarter, except in the instance of the re that an attachment to royalty prevailed. cent check on the Rhine, the French had strongly in France, and that numbers been victorious. He was no advocate for would llock to its standard the moment war, he was no panegyrist of victory. Let it was reared. A numerous and gallant victory follow victory, still he was sensible army was set on foot, and for a length of that nothing could compensate to a people time, kept in a state of inactivity. At last for the calamities of war. There were the expedition was as madly carried into situations, indeed, in which war was ine- execution, as it had been indolently provitable; but still, even in those situations, tracted, A handful of men, attached to victory was dearly purchased by the the cause in which they embarked, were waste of treasure and the effusion of sent to France ; but by whom were they blood. But if the French had but little seconded? By men devoted to the repubreason to exult in their successes, what lic, taken from English prisons, in consehad we to compensate us for the enormous quence of the folly or insolence of minisexpense which we had incurred of blood ters having precluded the means of exand treasure? We had been deserted by change, and who were glad to purchase our allies, we had experienced distress at their freedom at any price. By these home, and disgrace abroad. Under these new friends, whom ministers had given circumstances the people of England them, were these gallant royalists bemight have expected that there would trayed. But as if not contented with have been held out to them some prospect this first failure, ministers had sent out of peace. Instead of this, however, there another expedition, which, by occupying were nothing but ambiguous promises, and a great part of the fleet, and leaving a vague declarations. It surely would not considerable space of the sea open, had now be contended that the French were exposed a most valuable branch of our incapable of maintaining the accustomed trade to the successful depredations of the relations of peace and amity. They had enemy.--With respect to the West Indies, shown themselves capable of maintaining no man could lay his hand on his heart those relations towards the neutral states, and say, that we were now in a better siAmerica, Denmark, and Sweden, and to- tuation than that in which we were placed wards those princes of the empire who at the commencement of the war." The had entered into treaty with them. And capture of Tobago and Martinique had there was one in particular (the Elector but poorly. compensated for the inany of Hanover) who would surely never have disasters we had experienced and the made peace, if he had either supposed dangers which threatened our other is. them incompetent to maintain those rela- lands.-With respect to the high price of

[ocr errors]

grain, he was extremely doubtful whether | enemy was another subject on which he any interposition of parliament could be dwelt, as it would give France a naval effectual. But there was ove remedy for superiority. But what was the consethe evil--the restoration of peace. In time quence? We still remained masters of of war, the waste was always greater than the ocean; the enemy's fleet was not only in time of peace. The moment was pecu- blockaded at Toulon, but a consideliarly critical. We had been deserted by a rable part of their naval force had been considerable proportion of our allies; the unable to inake Brest, and driven into assistance of those who remained, we were another harbour, where they still remained. obliged to purchase by enormous subsidies. At no one period of the naval history of We were contending with an enemy fight this country, was the superiority of our ing for their liberties, and for every thing fleet more manifest. He desired the that was dear to them. And such was House to compare the situation of the two the extreme pressure at home, that the countries. This country, if driven to a industrious poor could scarcely procure farther prosecution of the war, could bear the means of subsistence. For the origin it, for we had still great resources. of these evils, we must look to a ministry, Whereas the enemy were almost totally if not corrupt and despotic, at least destitute of any. What had hitherto been weak and inefficient. Let their lord- the resources of the enemy? Assignats. ships boldly come forward, and tear To assignats the French Revolution owed away the veil which had wickedly been its success, and with their fall would exobtruded before the eyes of the sovereign. pire the whole system of that Revolution. Unless parliament stepped forward to do To this point they were now rapidly runtheir duty, all was lost. Under this impulse ning. In this respect, the situation of he now came forward to move an Amend- France was very materially changed since ment to the address. Here his grace read last year. During that period, the deprethe Amendment, which was precisely the ciation of the assignats had increased in same as that moved yesterday by Mr. Fox the ratio of 16 to 1. He did not advance in the House of Commons. [See p. it as an opinion of his own, or as the result 181.]

of his own reasonings, when he affirmed, Lord Grenville said, he had listened that unless the number of assignats in with attention to the noble duke in expec circulation was diminished, the country tation of hearing some new arguments in would be totally ruined, and the farther favour of our entering into a negociation prosecution of the war, on their part, renfor peace, but his expectation had not dered impracticable. He gathered this been realised. The noble duke had asked, information from men of every party and wherein our improvement consisted ? He principle among the enemy, who, in their had said that we were at this time not successive struggles for power, had been nearer the point than when we called to assume the direction of affairs. menced, and that ministers were not war- Were individual authority to communiranted in stating that our condition cate any strength to the general conwas materially improved. They had currence, he would adduce the opinion stated that offensive operations meditated of a man, whose correctness of inagainst Italy by the French, had been formation he could rely upon. General defeated. Was not that a material im- Montesquieu, to whom he alluded, was provement ? France was stated last year certainly a man of talents. He had been by the noble duke, to be on the point of the supporter, if not the projector, of over-running Italy, and, it was said, if the system of paper credit at its comthey did, the prospect would be alarming. mencement, and now, upon his return If, then, the enemy has been defeated in to his country, he had devoted himthis object, was not the situation of affairs self to discover a remedy for the evils considerably improved? In the case of which the unlimited extension of that sysGermany, the enemy, after having crossed tem had occasioned. But even he desthe Rhine, had been obliged to retreat, and paired of success. In the memorial he abandon their enterprise. From Mentz had written, he enforced the immediate they had also been driven back; and yet necessity of withdrawing a very great protheir lordships were told that these cir. portion of assignats from circulation, and cumstances were not a cause of satisfac-out of thirteen milliards, to leave only tion. Could the noble duke forget, that three. The circulation, he said, had been last

year the acquisition of Holland to the increased since Montesquieu wrote, in a (VOL. XXXI.)



period of only four months, five more | endangered or Holland lost? His appremilliards ; and at length the committee of hensions on each of those topics had been finance had resolved to call in the whole realized ; Holland was gone, Germany in assignats, and break the plates to pieces. danger, and our arms disgraced. These The Convention had admitted the neces- were facts that were obvious. He theresity of employing coin ; which, however, fore, confessed his astonishment at finding it would be impossible for them to obtain that his majesty had been advised to de-But from this state of internal distress clare his satisfaction at the improvement one good effect had resulted. The French in the prospect of our affairs ; but much had now approached much nearer to a as he was surprised at such a declaration, state, in which they were capable of ne- he had been not a little amused with the gociation. They were exhausted with explanations given by the noble secretary their sufferings, and desirous of repose. of state. When he had formerly propheThey had begun to recognize certain cied the consequences that would result principles, which afforded, at least, a from the conduct of our allies, his obser. ground of dependence for future negocia- vations had been heard with impatience tion. They were about to adopt a new and disgust. When he presumed a little constitution, less exceptional than those to doubt the security we had for the sums which had preceded it. With a govern- | lavished on the king of Prussia, the noble ment so established, he had no hesitation secretary had been indignant that the ho. to declare, that negociation might be en- nour of so good and so faithful an ally tered into. A scarcity of grain, it was to should be suspected, or that the zeal and be feared, existed in this country; yet it steadiness of the king of Sardinia should could little conduce to the happiness of be questioned. The noble secretary of the people to inform them that this cala- state chose to forget all these circummity was occasioned by the war; more stances, and even exulted in the national especially when the fact was the reverse. success, because the prophecies had nos The disaster at Quiberon had not occa. been completely fulfilled, and things were sioned the scarcity of provision, as the but half as bad as had been predicted. grain which upon that occasion fell into But what was our good fortune? Was it the hands of the enemy, was not conveyed an improvement of our situation, that the from this country, but consisted chiefly of French had got possession of Luxemthe cargoes of some of the American ships, burgh, of Dusseldorf, and Manheim? Was which had been seized on their way to it an improvement that the elector of France. He vindicated that expedition Bavaria, and most of our allies had made from the censures it had received. The peace with the French? That the Landbad success of it was to be ascribed to the grave of Hesse Cassel, our faithful ally, treachery of emigrant corps; an event no sooner received his arrears which he which ministers could not foresee. They had contrived to get of the present mihad confided the selection to the emigrant nisters, although the successive adminisofficers ; and to whom could they have trations for thirty years together had reconfided it, with so much probability of its fused to pay them, than he also left us, being wisely made? There was no man and made peace with the common enemy? more desirous of peace than he was ; and with such facts as these staring him in the speech afforded a reasonable expecta- the face, how many years of such imtion, that, when suitable terms were of-provement did the noble secretary of state fered, his majesty would not refuse them. think the nation would be able to bear ?

The Marquis of Lansdown said, that in the speech from the throne, there were nothing but a deep sense of duty com- some faint glimmerings of peace. The pelled him to appear that day in the House, noble secretary trusted that the House after having so repeatedly delivered his would be too complaisant to interfere with sentiments on the conduct and progress of ministers in the way in which peace was the war.

He delared, he had lately read to be made. He owned he had little conover every line that he had spoken on the fidence in the future conduct of ministers, subject of the war, to be found in the but on the present occasion he was dispublications of the times, and he did not posed to take them at their word. If it find occasion to retract a single syllable. was true that France was tired of the war At its commencement it was a question and panted for peace, why did not miniswhether the national honour should

be pre- ters come down with a peace in their served entire, whether Germany should be hands? If their boasts of improvement

so narrow


in our situation and of temporary success contradicted by the best writers on the were founded, this was of all others the subject ancient and modern. What said most favourable moment for negotiation. Livy upon it? He told us of three things The empire could only be saved by peace, that constituted the sinews of war, good and it was of the utmost importance to soldiers, good commanders, and good forpreserve the empire entire. The French tune, all of which the French possessed still kept possession of the German side in an eminent degree. He therefore would of the Rhine, and the king of Prussia was oppose the opinion of Livy to that of geto be dreaded. If peace were delayed, neral Montesquieu. Nothing in point of perhaps that wary monarch might avail resources was beyond the reach of a rehimself of the circumstances of another volutionary government, whereas regular campaign, and execute the projects, governments had their limitations beyond which he might possibly be meditating at which they could not go. The marquis this moment. In 1782, when a noble earl ridiculed the idea of there being any difnear him (lord Howe), had faced the com- ticulty in settling the ceremony of which bined fleets of France and Spain, so much country should send ambassadors to neto his own honour, and to the advantage gociate. The French he was sure enterof his country, the favourable opportuni- tained no prejudices on ty was seized on, a negociation was insti- ground. God only knew, what might be tuted, by the means of which his majesty the consequence of pursuing the present was enabled to come forward with that measures till the next session, and thereSpeech, * which would remain a lasting fore the sooner the negociation was set glory to the annals of this country: so on foot the better. There remained one convinced was he of this, that no con- great topic in the Speech, on which he sideration upon earth could induce him had not touched; he meant the high price to forego the share he had in these of corn. The poor were actually starv. transactions. If ministers wished ever ing. He had heard a number of remeso much to negociate for peace, they dies proposed, but only one appeared to said, they could not, and asked with him at all feasible. The remedy to which whom are we to treat? Let them ask he alluded was to increase the wages

of the elector of Hanover. He had found the poor in proportion to the price of parties to treat with, and so might they, corn. It had been laid down, that a poor if they chose it. The old story of the man could not maintain his family upon exhausted state of the French finances less than a bushel of wheat a week ; the had been brought forward. He wished idea therefore was, that the price of a ministers had paid some attention to the labouring man's wages should always be finances of this country. He begged to the amount of a price of a bushel of know, if the taxes of this year had proved wheat. In Wiltshire, the price of labour productive? For if they failed, all was was 7s. a week, whereas at present wheat over. To attempt to make an impression was 14s. a bushel. In conversing with on St. Domingo was not easy. There the poor on the subject, he had always was little chance indeed of doing it, and endeavoured to make them easy, first by lord Chatham knew it so well, that he relieving them as far as he could, and never would attempt it.-The language next, by endeavouring to convince them beld out in the Speech, though rather that any attempts to procure relief by more pacific than that of the last session, force would only add to the evil. In ge. he was satisfied meant nothing more than neral he had succeeded, but there was a display of the dexterity of ministers in one point which he found their undergetting on with the war for another year. standings were not equal to, and that was, Last year, everything was to be the bringing them to a sense that stopachieved by one decisive effort ; now, the ping the transit of corn, would only lead new order of things in France was relied them into a scrape, and bring on new obon.-The depreciation of assignats about stacles to their being relieved. All these which the noble secretary of state said distresses he must impute in a great measo much, was not of the consequence that sure, if not wholly, to the continuance of he seemed to imagine. It was clear that the war. The war also caused a dearth he inclined to the old exploded idea, of of other provisions; the poor, even in money being the sinews of war-an idea the midland and distant counties, could no

longer supply themselves with bull beef, * See Vol. 23, p. 204.

which they used to buy at 2d, a pound,

« PreviousContinue »