Page images
PDF
EPUB

grave of Hesse and the elector of Saxony | the French revolution, as if, by necessary made peace? Whether the king of Na consequence, he had approved of the cruples had, he knew not ; but of this he elties of which it had been made the prewas certain that he would as soon as he text. He approved of overturning the was able. Were not these strong argu- despotism of the Bourbons, which had ments for the recognition of the republic long been the oppression of France and of France? It had already been proved, the disquiet of Europe. The accursed that none of those formalities had been confederacy of despois, for by no other required of acknowledging the republic name could it ever pass his lips, had given on the principles of liberty and equality. birth in the first instance to all the suspi. That the French were desirous of peace, cion and consequent massacres which had was generally believed ; that they had no taken place. Six years had now elapsed objection to treat with a monarchy, had, since the memorable era of the French it was understood, been declared to sir revolution. He had, in the first instance, Frederick Eden ; but what was more im- given his commendation to that event, portant than any declaration was, that which had overthrown the tyranny of the they had aetually concluded a treaty with Bourbons. That tyranny had stifled the a monarchy, and with a monarchy to industry, and suppressed all the energies the form of which they could not be sup- of a great nation. He was therefore enposed to be very partial.

titled to speak of its subversion as of a It had been asked, what Holland had glorious event. But his approbation of gained by her disposition to negociate French principles thus far, did not include early in the war? What, he would ask, his sanction of French acts. He approved had Holland gained by the protection of of the resistance made by the parliament the allies? The spectacle of the retreat of of 1645 to Charles 1st: of the conduct the British troops through her provinces, even of Cromwell in the first instance; but and the necessity of being obliged to treat although it was impossible to compare that with a French army in possession of her great man with the men who had raised country. Of the conquests which we had themselves to power in the French revomade in the West-Indies, nothing now lution, was it to be inferred that he apremained but a single post in St. Domingo, proved of Cromwell's usurpation any more another in St. Lucia, and the island of than of their cruelties? He had never Martinico. It was for the House to de- said that the French, if left to themselves, termine, whether these precarious acqui. would destroy one another ; but this lie sitions were worth the hazard to which had said, that if there was any prospect we had put all our other possessions in of restoring royalty in France (whether that quarter. With respect to the recent or not that was now an advisable thing he intelligence of insurrections in Paris, it would not then argue), it must be when ought to have no effect on the decision of the French were left to decide for themthat House. The fall of Robespierre, the selves. What was the period in which parrise of Tallien, the massacre of the Giron- ties in France were abandoning themselves dists, and the triumph of their successors, to domestic contests? Was it when the only led to this salutary lesson, that the duke of Brunswick was in the plains of internal schisms of France bore no rela- Champagne ? Was it when the allies were tion to their foreign contests. The system in the plains of Cambray? No: it was of terror was destroyed on the 27th of when every foreign enemy was removed July: and mark whát had been the pro- to a great distance, and their arms were gress of the French arms since that period. triumphant on every part of their frontier. Were not their successes in every quarter When the allies talked of giving them a more than suficient to counterbalance any constitution, royalty had the odium of behopes to be conceived from a late insur. ing supposed to aid the foreign enemy: rection in Paris ? Ought not what we when they had no foreign enemy, that had seen to teach us, that unstable and would be done away. We were not to convulsed as the French government was give them a constitution, but to restore within, its power of exertion outwards their old constitution-in other words, remained, and that whether terror triumph- their old despotism, the very thing they ed over moderation, or moderation over detested. To attempt giving to any counterror, we had nothing to gain by the try a constitution, was detestable; every change?

country had a right to frame its own. We He was accused of having approved of were not making war for any interests of

was

our own, it was pompously asserted, but a reason why this country should continue on motives of beneficence and justice, for to make war? Was it to be continued, he the interests of Europe. There might be would ask, in another point of view,-in chivalry in succouring those who called full reliance on the judgment of minisfor succour, but the chivalry of succour- ters, on a confidence to be given to men, ing ihose who said they did not want it, whose conduct, in his opinion, was the was madness. Who called upon us to weakest and the most contemptible that continue the war? Did Prussia or any had ever disgraced a falling country. other of our allies ? No. But we had The right hon. gentleman had alluded got a new ally, the enpress of Russia. to America. Did not gentlemen see siShe, however, was one of our earliest al- | milar features in these two unfortunate lies in this business, and instead of her contests? There was a loyal party in not doing any thing in consequence of a America, as well as La Vendée. "The new alliance the novelty would be, her loyalists and the royalists, Mr. Fox obdoing any thing in consequence of the old. served, tallied even to the minutest point If he were her advocate, as he had once and hence hopes had been fostered by been called, he should say that she had ministers. In the last year of that war, contributed more than her share to the it was debated, whether or not the Amepurposes of the grand confederacy. She rican republic should be recognized; and had completely extinguished Jacobinism it was urged, that if this were done, the in Poland, which, but for the arms of sun of Britain was set for ever. Was not Great Britain, she could not have done ; all this conduct the same on both quesand this was all she would do.

tions, the American war and the present Instead of appearing in an honourable, war? But suppose our present objects, if we exhibited ourselves in an odious fixed objects we had, to be fully attainpoint of view, by continuing the war. ed. Suppose Louis 17th seated on the France was inclined to peace; the allies throne, and the emigrants restoredwere inclined to peace; neutral powers it to be expected that France would be wished for the restoration of peace; and quiet ? No. The smallest knowledge of Great Britain alone was shaking the torch history forbad such a supposition. Could of discord. It was said to be a boldness we, under the restored race of the Bouron the part of the hon. gentleman who bons, expect a better faith? No. The made this motion, to take the reins of go- present government of France, however vernment from the hands of ministers. It unstable it might seem, offered more sewas, in his opinion, a more daring boldness curity from the publicity of its councils, in those ministers, who, for the purpose than could be expected from the dark seof suppressing a few speculative opinions, crecy of any despotism. In this it bore a would deluge all Europe with blood, in. near relation to the British constitution ; volve the whole world in war, and extin. and hence a reason arose in his mind, for guish the social happiness of the human liking it. At all events, he contended race. The right hon. gentleman had said, that there was as much cause to expect that none but Jacobins cried out for fidelity from the French as from any of peace. The fact was widely different. the princes of Europe. The terms of the The industrious manufacturer, overloaded Austrian convention, he observed, were with taxes, cried aloud for peace. The to be debated the next day, and therefore Jacobins, as those men were termed who he forbore saying any thing on that head wished for a radical reform, looked on mi- at present; but when the emperor declarnisters as their best friends, and relied only ed his readiness to negociate with France, on a continuance of the war, for a full ought we not to hesitate ? What evil could attainment of their favourite object. result from our recognition of the repubSuch Jacobins were not numerous, but lic, now that it had been recognized by even in the city which the right hoa. gen. the Emperor ? Were we to refuse merely tleman represented (Norwich), as many because Holland was at this time in the as there were refused to sign a petition for hands of the French republic? Those peace, because they said that the continu- who had used this argument with respect ance of the war and of the present minis- to the Netherlands, should say, when ters in office, tended most effectually to that peace was to be expected, which promote their views. But supposing the must be preceded by the re-conquest of contrary to be the fact, and that every disa those countries. He would quote the affected person wielied for peace, was that sentiment of Mr. Burke in the case of America—“ Try peace and conciliation, country entered upon the present just and and if that fail then pursue war.” The evils necessary war with a great and powerful of war we had felt; the evils of peace were confederacy in Europe: and I admit that only matter of some men's speculation. this confederacy is narrowed and dimiWas it fit, then, to advance speculation nished. But I would ask, whether, in against experience ?-Mr. Fox concluded discussing the question of peace and war, by saying, that he felt indebted to the we have not furnished them with grounds hon. gentleman who had introduced this to argue upon, which it is impossible they motion, because the oftener the subject could have had without the existence of was discussed, the more he was convinced that confederacy? To look for negociation the war would be disapproved. He thought at the present moment is premature, that peace and conciliation could never be though I look to it at no remote period. I suggested too frequently. If these failed bave no objection, were it connected with war was still within our reach, but the this business to follow my hon. friend and latter might possibly be continued until the right hon. gentleman, to the West the proffer of conciliation was made in Indies, to examine the efforts that have vain.

causes.

been made by this country, and compare Mr. Pitt rose and said: I shall cer- them with those made in any former petainly endeavour, Sir, to confine what I riod ; from which we should clearly have to say to the real point under see, whether greater exertions had ever consideration, and must stand excused if been made, and whether the distresses in I do not follow the right hon. gentleman that quarter had not been aggravated by who spoke last, in many of the points to a great mortality, and other accidental which headverted. I impute no blame to my hon. friend who has made this motion, But I come to the question immediately though I lament and deplore that he has before us. I beg leave to consider what done so. He has acted, no doubt from the that question is, and I must say, that my fullest conviction that he was discharging hon. friend, in making his motion suffered his duty to his constituents and to the himself to be deceived in the manner of public at large. A great deal has been stating it; and this pervaded the whole of said this night about Holland being lost, his argument. His statement was neither without taking into consideration all the more nor less than this : is a peace on circumstances that belong to the case. It fair and honourable terms preferable to is not my business at present, but at any the continuance of the war? We should other time I should not be unwilling to dis- not have been debating here'so long if cuss, whether it was not of immense ad- this were the question about this there vantage to Europe in general, that Hol- can be no difference of opinion. But the land was not added to France without a question is, whether a peace on fair and struggle, and which, but for the interfer- honourable terms, which is the end of all ence of this country, would have taken war, is more likely to be attained by negoplace two years ago. This union, after a ciation at the present moment, than by a long struggle, unfortunate I admit in the continuance of the war? Are you more issue, has been formed chiefly from that likely to arrive at a better and more secountry indulging unfounded hopes of cure peace with a reasonable prospect of peace, in a treaty of alliance, which has permanency on fair and honourable terms, ended in their having been invaded and by a continuance of the war with energy conquered; in their having submitted, and vigour, till a more favourable opening being promised protection and having presents itself, by taking some stepor other been defrauded of four millions of money, to encourage and invite negociation? That Perhaps it may be better for them in the is the question which puts away at once end, but it is certainly better for the all the declamations on the advantages of state of the world, however unfortunate it peace, which nobody in this country will may be for the inhabitants of that coun- deny ;-where the rapid effects of peace try, at the present moment, that they were have healed wounds, infinitely greater united to France after a severe and unsuc- than any we have experienced since the cessful struggle, and when Holland is no commencement of the present war, in regreat acquisition to France, instead of pairing losses far more affecting the prospebeing added to her, as a great accession, rity of the country than any we have suswhen she was in the zenith of her power. tained, and which were so vigorously exIt has been argued this night, that this perienced in the interval of a few years, as

to make us almost forget the calamities ( sembly. I hope the right hon. gentleman of former wars.

is not so much in love with France. I Sir, that being the state of the question think the right hon. gentleman took up I mean to submit to the House, that at that idea rather hastily. I am by no the present moment, perseverance in the means certain, nor is it worth while here contest is more wise and prudent, and to examine, whether a despotic governmore likely in the end to effect a safe, ment, or an anarchical republic, like that lasting, and honourable peace, than any of France, most nearly resembles the conattempt at negociation. My hon. friend stitution of Great Britain, which is redoes not choose to state that this country moved at an equal distance from both ought to take the first steps to peace, extremes. and he claims great merit for his modera- The publicity of the proceedings of tion in not going so far, but only that the French convention, has been the ministers ought to receive overtures. I source of outrage, horror, and disgust, beg leave to submit, whether this be not to every feeling heart.

That publicity
only taking the first step, but doing it in has been a faithful recorder, and an accu-
the most exceptionable manner. To say rate witness of the enormity of their pro-
it is not an overture on our part, if we ceedings. The question is, whether we
have received no intimation whatever from are to take the first step towards negocia-
the government of France to treat, to tion, or to go on, trusting to the execu-
say we shall be glad to treat, is what no tive government to take the opportunity
man living will contend. Where the over- of the first favourable moment for nego-
ture comes from the legislature of the ciation, and in the mean time strengthen-
country, it is attended with a degree of ing the hands of that government, to per-
publicity which the right hon. gentleman severe with vigour in the contest in which
admits is one of the merits of our consti- we are engaged. We have been told,
tution. But surely this mode of making that although this question has been seve-
overtures of peace is not the most converal times brought forward, it has never
nient, inasmuch as it makes known the been directly disposed of; it has never
whole terms of peace to the enemy. It been directly negatived. I contend that
leaves no will to ministers to take advan- it has in effect been directly negatived.
tage of any favourable circumstances that For when the motion was made some
may occur. For that reason it is that time ago, an amendment was made to the
the legislature does not usually interfere motion, stating, that we were resolved
in such transactions, as the true state of to persevere in the contest, trusting that
the transactions is only fully understood his majesty would seize the first favour-
by a few, and therefore it has been wisely able opportunity that presented for treat-
committed to the executive government. ing with security. I beg to know, whe-
Why has this country, which is so jealous ther that which was done with delibera.
of its rights and liberties, entrusted such tion, was not negativing the motion.
prerogatives to the crown? Why is the Subsequent to that, this question was
making of peace and war, and other pre- discussed again and again, and this
rogatives which form the happiness of House on those occasions came to a reso-
this constitution, entrusted to the king ? lution, that it did not conceive, under
Because it has been found, that the power the present circumstances of the coun-
of parliament was sufficient to prevent tries, negociation was a measure expedient
the royal prerogative from being carried to be adopted.
beyond its

proper
limits. I say the ques-

But another question here arises. Have tion is then, whether you will step for the circumstances and situation of the ward, and assume this power of the country materially altered since the last crown at a crisis of peculiar delicacy? motion on the subject, or since my hon.

The right hon. gentleman who spoke last, friend first found himself an advocate for was of opinion that the French conven- negociation? Has the posture of affairs tion, from the publicity of its proceedings, varied since that time, so as to make nebore a nearer resemblance to the British gociation more eligible at the present constitution, than the constitution of any moment than it was at any former period ? other country. In this comparison, Í I heard my hon. friend state one fact on trust, it was not meant to be carried any this business, which no evidence can farther, as if the interests of this country contradict. I heard him with pleasure were to be discussed in one popular as- state, that the situation of France Fas

[ocr errors]

With that government, though

now so weakened and exhausted, as to the republic of France. We refused to make peace

treat with M. Chauvelin after the unfornot secure, yet ; in consequence of that tunate murder of Louis 16th. We refused weakness, attended with a considerable to acknowledge a government that had degree of security. That something more been reeking with the blood of their so, of this security exists at the present mo- vereign. Was not that an objection not ment, I not only admit, but contend that to acknowledge them at that period ? The the prospect is improving every day, and murder of the king preceded but a very that this becomes more and more ascer- few days the declaration of war against tained ; as I shall state before I sit down. this country. But is this a reason why we should nego- The next argument is, whether you ciate at this moment ? I think not. From would dishonour yourself by acknowledg. facts that are notorious, from things ing a republic that might endanger your known to the world, there is now a gene. own independence, and which made a ral feeling that there is, comparatively public profession of principles which went speaking, a sense of security in the coun- to destroy the independence of every natry, when compared with the alarıning tion of Europe? I say, I will not acknow. uneasiness which some time ago prevailed. ledge such a republic. The question The enemy have not been able to avail here is but simply whether you will acthemselves of their success and acquisi- knowledge so as to treat with it? It is tions, nor have they acquired solid and not, nor has it been, since the commencesubstantial strength. The natural anxiety ment of the war, the interest of England, of the people of this country has led them not from any one circumstance, but from to remark the progress of the decay, de- taking all circumstances together, to incline, and ruin of the enemy, as being stitute a negociation with the ruling more rapid than they could have foreseen. powers now existing in France. When this business was formerly discuss. As to the declaration of the Emperor ed, it was used as a very considerable to the diet, if it is authentic, that he argument against negociation, that from should be happy to enter into a negociaour situation then, we could not hope to tion for peace, I beg leave to say, this treat with France on terms of equality: declaration niust be supposed to bind the that our affairs since the commencement Emperor in no other capacity than as of the war were in so unfavourable a state, head of the empire ; and I am sure they that we could not reasonably hope to ob cannot, and will not state that that pretain terms of equality, or any thing fair cludes him, as duke of Austria, or king and honourable. Is not this argument of Boliemia, from performing any agreevery considerably strengthened at this ment he may choose to enter into, on his moment, when you compare the state of own separate account, in those capacities. this country and France ? Exhausted and As the head of the empire, he might, wearied with the addition of your own from the present situation of that country, weakness, will you give up the contest in think it wise and expedient to go beyond despair? We should then, like Holland, the line he may chalk out to himself as a have to consider what indemnity France sovereign prince and king, as king of Bohewould expect of us. I state this as a mia and archduke of Austria. There may be practical objection, and wholly indepen- circumstances to induce him, as the head dent of any question on the security of of the empire, to wish to open a negocianegociation. Those who argue for peace, tion with France, rather tian run the consider our situation as rendered more risk of a separate negociation, through fit for negociation in this way :-that we the medium of the king of Prussia, con. have lost our allies, by which we are re- trary to the constitution of the Germanic duced to such a state of weakness, that body. One of the next points relied we must listen to peace; and now that upon, and imputed as blame to ministers, our allies have deserted us, it is unneces. was the circumstance of the war in La sary to obtain their consent. We for. Vendée and with the Chouans being at merly refused to treat with France, be- an end. I do not see how that circum. eause we were satisfied she was unable to stance can attach any blame to governmaintain that peace and amity that ought ment. It has been stated, that the inhato prevail among neutral nations. Gen- bitants of La Vendée have submitted to tlemen have chosen to forget all the argu- the French republic.

Whoever has conments used with regard to acknowledging versed with gentlemen coming from France,

« PreviousContinue »