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long at the head of a military system, and addressing himself to great military bodies, may be supposed to have possessed and exerted. If that system be again erected in France-whether at this immediate moment, or at a period more remote-it must, both politically and morally, either inflict on Europe all those calamities from which she had escaped, by exertions the most extraordinary that were to be found in the history of the world, or we must be compelled to depart from, and turn our backs on that ancient social system, which we were anxious again to enjoy; when the military character would not be predominant, but would be merged in the general mass of the community, and take its place and order among the other ranks of society. I feel the great considerations to which this immense and awful subject leads; for we must all feel, after the arduous struggle this country has gone through-after a war of three or four-andtwenty years continuance-that a fresh contest, commenced even under the most ordinary circumstances that could present themselves, would be an event involving the most weighty and serious points of reflection, that could be entertained by the reflecting mind of Parliament. But, when we look to a question, either of absolute war, or of a peace of precaution, which must be joined with the consideration of those social relations belonging to a natural or unnatural constitution of the world, I do feel, that the subject is the most serious, the most awful, that ever attracted the attention of Parliament-and that an imperative duty devolves on us to examine it in the most grave and deliberate manner. If I felt that I was calling on Parliament, at this time, or that I was in a condition to call on Parliament, to discuss all those views which belong to the question-and more particularly those which, in my conscience, I believe, ought to guide their decision on this subject I should certainly proceed at greater length. But, at the present moment, I should be to blame, if I precipitated any counsels of state, respecting this question, without, at the same time, giving full information to the House. As the question is not, however, in that state, in which I can lay before the House the manner in which the prerogative, placed, for the benefit of the people, in the hands of the Crown, may have been used, I shall not advert to the various points which bear on the subject, and which, at another period,
it will be proper to submit to Parliament. I am rather disposed to follow the course pursued, on a former evening, by a right hon. gentleman (Mr. Ponsonby), and to defer much that might be offered on the question, until we know whether the state of precaution in which the country is now placed, shall ultimately terminate in peace or war. With this feeling, I wish to narrow the question to those points on which I think the House, in its present situation, may fairly be called to decide, rather than, by anticipation, to enter into those views, which, though they bear strongly on the subject, are more proper for future consideration.
The Prince Regent's most gracious Message states, that events have taken place in a neighbouring kingdom, in direct contravention of the engagements made in the treaty of Fontainbleau, not only with reference to that Treaty, but as far as it formed the basis of the Treaty of Paris; necessarily and naturally implying, as the contravention of all treaties must, a justifiable cause of war. If this Govern. ment and its allies think, under all the circumstances, that such a state of things has arisen, as calls for every effort of precaution, I apprehend there are few persons in this House disposed to doubt the propriety of the decision. Nor do I believe that any person, either within those walls or without them, can doubt, that the Executive is equally called upon to complete those measures, in conjunction with the allies of the country by whose exertions the world was saved, which Parliament, being impelled by a series of extraordinary circumstances, demanding vigorous efforts, may be disposed to sanction. The nature of those measures, and the object to be attained, must remain subjects of ulterior consideration. I am sure the House would not wish, prematurely to draw from ministers, the nature of the event contemplated-its probable operation-or the mode in which Europe is to be protected, in future, against the dangers with which it is now threatened. In the present posture of public affairs, I am convinced no gentleman would call for such a disclosure. In order to preserve entire the control of Parliament over the execu tive servants of the Crown, who know that they cannot prosecute any design, not only without the sanction, but without the assistance of the strong arm of the Legis lature, I conceive that a certain extent of confidence is necessary. It is not more
contrary to the prerogative of the Crown, than it is hostile to the controlling power of Parliament, for gentlemen, without due information, on narrow, abstract views of important questions, to assume to them selves the premature exercise of that power which ultimately belongs to them, as possessing a final control over the acts of the Crown. It is, Sir, manifestly wrong to give a hasty and improvident opinion on transactions of the most complicated nature at a moment when the House is necessarily ignorant of the details. The power of censuring or of approving, can only be exercised with a sound discretion, and honourably to the character of Parliament, when transactions have arrived at a stage where all the circumstances of the case are constitutionally laid before them.
when the House examines the fact, will be found exceedingly erroneous-that the arrangements made, prior to the peace of Paris, were improvident and ill-advisedthat no considerations of general policy could justify such arrangements-and that, if the result had been, unfortunately for the world, again to place at risk and hazard, the continuance of tranquillity, the blame is alone imputable to the Allies. These untoward events, it is said, have arisen solely from their counsels, and cannot be attributed to any other cause. Almost every person with whom I have conversed, has indulged in this feeling. It is, naturally enough, the custom of mankind, and I mention it not as a reproach to the general wisdom of human nature, where serious dangers threaten, Sir, with this feeling of the course that on political occasions, to throw the blame ought to be adopted, I shall narrow my on those who were furnished with responview of the question to the expression of sible powers, and to accuse them with those opinions, which, I think, the Message having acted improvidently and unwisely. of the Prince Regent demands; namely, I have heard it said, that when the Treaty that the events which have taken place in of Fontainbleau was concluded, the Allies France, in avowed contravention of the acted with a foolish generosity, without engagements entered into with the Allies, any reference to true policy-that they have created a state of things so alarming, had granted to Buonaparté an asylum that the British empire cannot remain in which he was liable to abuse-and that any other than an armed posture-that his power had, in consequence, been reParliament cannot but express their graestablished. But Buonaparté has not tification at the steps which have been made use of any of the apologies which taken, by the Government of this country, have been offered for his conduct. He to form a union with those Powers who has unblushingly avowed the principles have been fellow-labourers with us in which have guided his conduct. Instead restoring the prace of Europe-and, that of complaining of any breach of the enin such a juncture of affairs, the House gagements entered into with him (and, if are ready to give the Executive Govern- he had made such a charge, I could shew ment every assistance towards the promo- the House that he had imputed to the tion of this important object; at the same Allies that which never had been comtime reserving their opinion on ulterior mitted,) he has, in the very first instance, measures, until they are in possession of shown a complete contempt for all treathe necessary information. Ishould hope, ties and arrangements whatever. He has Sir, that the discussion, on the present not concealed from the world, that no occasion, would not be carried beyond control or limit shall confine his power, these limits; but I certainly feel that I except what the failure of his means should not discharge what I owe to the might impose. He has shown himself no subject and to the House, if I did not take longer to be controlled by treaties. He this occasion to submit to it, some con has shown himself, in the pursuit of his siderations which must, ultimately, have views, to be bounded only by his inability great weight on both sides of this arduous to proceed. He has set at nought every question whether the final result be ordinary tie-and he has, if I may use peace or war? I should also feel, that I the word, in describing a series of conhad not discharged my duty, if I did not duct, which does not present one particle endeavour to relieve the House and the of morality, honestly placed himself on public from many misrepresentations and the pedestal of power, and boldly avowed delusions which have prevailed with re- his acts. He calls himself Emperor of spect to the conduct of the British Go-France, impiously, "by the Grace of vernment and our allies. An impression God;" and he is, in no degree, fettered has undoubtedly gone abroad-which, in the exercise of his authority, by any of
those acts, which he, for the moment, and to deceive the world, agreed to. Sooner than shed one drop of French blood, he declared that he would abandon France and his family-and, in violation of this statement, he now returns to that country -not in consequence of any new request -not in consequence of a defeasance of any engagement that had been entered into with him-but in absolute defiance of the most explicit stipulations that human foresight could devise. Such is the situation under which that individual returned to power.
Sir, I was saying, that the general impression which prevailed was, that the Allies, in concluding the Treaty of Fontainbleau, had done a gratuitous act, which they might have avoided. Generosity certainly was the prevailing feature which marked the policy of the Allies towards France, and whatever calamities may arise to the world from the transaction in question, I, for one, shall never lament, that the Powers who marched to the gates of Paris, did act on that generous principle, and thereby showed their deference to the rights and feelings of the people. That principle is one, of which, I am convinced, a British Parliament will always express its approbation. It is the only great, and strong, and true one; and Parliament has never omitted any occasion, where it could be recognised and supported, of so doing. I am sure, I shall not have to regret, on account of the display of any contrary feeling in this House, that if there was an error in the conduct of the Allies towards France, it was on the side of generosity. The exercise of that principle is due to all countries, until they do something which forbids it-until they prevent their opponents from being generous to them, without risking the imputation of being unjust and ruinous to themselves. If, therefore, Sir, any blame be imputable in this transaction, I feel confident that it is to be found on the right side; for whatever may hereafter be the relative situation of France and the rest of Europe, the former can never assert, that the Allies harboured an intention of acting ungenerously by her. A peace was concluded with France, which not only secured her former extent of territory, but which granted an increase of it; nor was she visited with any of those grievous contributions which were levied by the French armies wherever they went. All the repositories of art which adorned
her capital were left untouched; and the whole of that forbearance was exercised from a wish to conciliate the social feelings of the people, by leaving no badge of their humiliation, no mark that might recall their disasters and defeats.
Now, Sir, the fact is, that when the treaty of Fontainbleau was signed, Buonaparté could not be considered, in any degree, practically speaking, within the power of the Allies. I do not mean to say, that a protracted war might not have led to his capture, or driven him from the country. But when that treaty was signed, as will be seen from the papers on the table--and here I can speak with the more confidence, because I am not called on to say any thing in my own behalf, because it was agreed to when I was not in a situation to alter it-it was sanctioned by the Emperor of Russia, under such imperious circumstances as would justify the House in considering it not merely a treaty of generosity, but of policy. The fact was, that, after the capital was taken by the Allies, and Napoleon had proceeded to Fontainbleau, he was at the head of a very considerable body of troops, ready to act in his support; and there was no reason to presume, but rather the contrary, that the corps outstanding in the other parts of France, would not also, as they had previously done, continue to espouse his cause. There was not even a certainty, that the troops whom marshal Marmont had paralysed, on the other side, would remain faithful to the Provisional Government. In short, the question then was, whether the treaty of Fontainbleau should be agreed to, or whether the war should be pushed to the utmost extremity ? The decision which took place, in favour of the former proceeding, was not that of the Emperor of Russia alone; it was also supported by the Provisional Government of France, acting for the interests of the Bourbon family, and with a view to their restoration. It was, therefore, a matter of policy and not of generosity, to agree to an arrangement which brought the contest to an end, instead of carrying on a protracted war in the heart of France.
When I arrived in Paris, as will be seen by the papers, this question was, in fact, decided; an assurance having been given to Buonaparté, with respect to the general engagement, and also with reference to the specific arrangements made at Elba. Seeing the obvious danger of placing a person who had so recently wielded the
power of France so immediately in the its locality afforded for the realization of neighbourhood of his former empire, and what has unhappily since occurred, there also in the neighbourhood of another part can, I trust, exist but one feeling among of Europe, which might be influenced by liberal minds, and that is, that when this sentiments favourable to him, I thought it island was given to Buonaparté for his my duty to make every opposition in my residence, that residence should comprise power to the arrangement. But, on a fur- the portion of fair and free liberty, which ther examination of the subject, the diffi- was then due to a person in his situation. culty of finding a situation, at once free When the island was secured to him by from the dangers I apprehended, and, at treaty, it was of course done with as much the same time, answering the character exercise of personal liberty as became the which Buonaparté stipulated for in his compact: it was never in the contemplanegociation, induced me to withdraw my tion of the parties that he should be a priopposition; making, however, some alter- soner within that settlement; that he ation in the details. Looking to the policy should be the compulsory inmate of any of settling the business amicably, instead tower, or fortress, or citadel-they never of proceeding farther with the war, I meant that he should be so placed, or that ceased to oppose the place of retreat which he should be deprived of sea excursions had been provided; and I think the House in the vicinity of the island, for fair purwill feel with me, that when the utmost poses of recreation. In fact, if such a result which could have been anticipated jealous stipulation had been made, it from a prolongation of the contest would would have afforded him the opportunity be either the capture or the escape of of making that the veil of his own suspi Buonaparte, it would have been impolitic cions, and the extenuation of his own into continue that contest for such a purpose, fraction. Under this cloak he would have and to make it determinable upon such an sought the justification of his own nonevent. It was quite impossible for the fulfilment of the treaty, and would have parties to Buonaparte's abdication to have charged it upon the menacing treatment speculated on the recent conduct which he which had been adopted towards him; adopted, even if it were in their power he would have then stood differently in effectually to have guarded against it; the eyes of the world from his present besides, the House must see that it was position, which left him without a shadow unlikely the contest would be prosecuted of defence, and exposed him to all Europe, with the same spirit, if such a determina- as an open violator of his faith. A report tion was avowed. The plain fact was, has gone abroad, that if those who placed that the question among the Allied him at Elba, had omitted any precauPowers, relative to this point, was not de- tionary security, which rationally sugcided under the circumstance of Buona- gested itself, to protect the world from parté being within their grasp; for such the calamities consequent upon the return was not the case; he was not so situated, of this man to his former station in but was placed in a situation, and with a France, that in such a case they incurred force immediately about his person, which a dreadful responsibility. was entitled to serious consideration; and when combined with other troops, then scattered about the country, and his op-in the treaty of Fontainbleau never inportunities of uniting them with those of marshal Soult, and other generals in the south of France, it became a matter of plain expediency to calculate his means of prolonging the warfare, and to consider the alternative which might prevent such an event. This was the plain fact which led to his term of security.
With respect to the residence and situation of this personage at Elba, whatever may be my own individual opinion upon the subject of the arrangement which gave to him that jurisdiction-whatever objections I may have had from the beginning to this settlement, and the opportunities
Now, Sir, I
have no hesitation to answer this argument. The Allied Powers who concurred
tended to exercise a police, or any system of espionage either within or without the residence which they had ceded to him; it was never in their contemplation to establish a naval police to hem him in, or prevent this man's committing himself, as he has done, to his fortunes; in fact, if they were so inclined, they were without the means of enforcing such a system, for the best authorities were of opinion that it was absolutely and physically impossible to draw a line of circumvallation around Elba; and for this very conclusive reason, that, considering the variation of weather, and a variety of other circumstances,
which could not be controlled, the whole | our' Government upon such matters as British navy would be inadequate for such a purpose. If this force had been actually there, they could not have circumscribed Buonaparté in the manner in which some persons expected he should have been, without a violation of the treaty which had been granted him. It was open to argument that this treaty was wrong, that it should not have been conceded. Points of this description were certainly fair for discussion; but having once been made, it was clear from the face of the document, that any restrictions could not have been imposed without a breach of the treaty itself; by this he was invested with the entire sovereignty of the island; he was also assigned a sort of naval equipment, certainly upon a small scale, but one which allotted him a flag, and which it was not extraordinary to meet on the neighbouring sea; one of his vessels was constantly seen for ordinary purposes in several of the ports of the Mediterranean. The British officer commanding on that station had not the power of visiting these vessels whenever they were occasionally met. Had he known that Buonaparté was on board with an armed equipment, he would have exercised that right, there can be no doubt, and would have been justified in doing so; but he was not authorized, nor would it have been consistent with the treaty, to have empowered him on all occasions to use a right of visitation with a flag of this description. Elba, it is true, is an insulated position, but it has considerable commercial intercouse among other places with the different ports in the Mediterranean; and unless this search and examination could have been exercised in every instance throughout the whole range of the Elbese trade, no protection would have been insured by it; he would therefore have had means and opportunities enough of effecting his object for it cannot be disguised, that the danger did not arise from the immediate force of his equipment; this was in itself quite insignificant: the danger would have been precisely the same, had he proceeded in any disguise which he might have assumed, and personally landed in any of the ports of the Continent. I have not the least doubt, Sir, the effect would have been exactly similar. But I repeat, that our Government never undertook to
establish a police at Elba. Colonel Campbell was certainly there for the purpose of occasionally communicating with
might pass under his observation, both there and in Italy, where at that time we had no accredited agent; he was there at first merely as one of the conductors according to the Treaty, and I afterwards suffered him to remain between that island and Leghorn, for the purpose I have mentioned; but nothing more was ever contemplated. It would have been out of colonel Campbell's power to have attempted any thing further he could not have done it; for the fact was, that although at first treated with familiarity by Buonaparté, his visits were subsequently disapproved of, and it was even hinted that if they were repeated, he should withdraw from the island; latterly he found the greatest difficulty in obtain ing an interview with Buonaparté, so completely did the latter surround himself with imperial etiquette. Of the inefficacy of any thing which colonel Campbell could have done, were he on the spot to have attempted the experiment, I need only mention the following fact: a number of vessels from all nations were in the habit of arriving for trading purposes in the three principal_ports of this island; on the part of the English ships, a Mr. Ritchie resided there as a sort of viceconsul, to see that our ships wanted nothing that was necessary for them: the moment when Buonaparté prepared to carry his plan into execution, he placed this Mr. Ritchie under the surveillance of two gens d'armes. Mr. Grattan, jun. who happened to be on the island, and who conveyed the earliest intelligence of the event to the nearest public agent of this country, was also taken into custody, and there can be no doubt, that colonel Campbell would have encountered a similar restraint; his presence, therefore, would have had no effect in preventing the escape of Buonaparté, or in transmitting any intelligence of that event sooner than it reached us in the ordinary course. It is also a remarkable and almost incredible circumstance, and one of the truth of which I have every reason to be satisfied, that so completely within his own bosom did Buonaparté carry the plan he meditated, that his confidential companion, Bertrand, was wholly unapprised of his intentions, until the very hour in which he received the order for his embarkation: from information which I possess, and on which I rely, Bertrand was ignorant of the plan until four o'clock in the evening,