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upon the part of Great Britain, to urge its | Government such general information as rights or protect its interests. This fact ought to bave put them upon their guard. alone, in his opinion, established the So far were they, however, from adopting strongest case of neglect against his Ma- even any ordinary precaution, that it jesty's Government.-The next question appeared Buonaparté was at sea three which presented itself was as to the policy days, half a day completely becalmed, of this measure. It was said that Buona- and in such a situation that he might have parté, at the time of the Treaty being conbeen intercepted by a couple of English cluded, was in very formidable strength. frigates. Here, then, was such a comWhat was the fact? why, the Allies were plete absence of all precaution, that he at the head of an army of 140,000 men, felt it his duty to vote for the motion of while Buonaparté, at most, had but 30 or his hon. friend, not so much for the sake 40,000 men. It might be urged that he of asking for information, as for the purhad an army in Germany and in the pose of conveying a positive censure fortresses, but his disposable strength cer- against his Majesty's ministers. tainly did not exceed the number he had Mr. Frederick Douglas said, that the stated. And with respect to the army in opinions which had been delivered in that South of France, it was only necessary to House that night, reminded him of an old remark, that the duke of Wellington was maxim, the truth of which was manifest there with an army which had been vic- on this occasion, namely, " that nothing torious beyond parallel. There was an- was so hard as to give wise council before other opinion, however, upon this subject, an event, nor so easy as to make wise reand that was, that the conduct of Buona-flections after it." Those gentlemen who parté himself was not of such a nature, as had so spontaneously subscribed to all to warrant a belief in his professions. It that had been done some months back, could not be believed, that a man, who and who had never thought of questioning had mercilessly led hundreds of thousands the wisdom of the conduct which had of his countrymen to perish under the been pursued, now exhibited the utmost austerity of a Russian climate, would have anxiety to condemn circumstances which turned with horror from new afflictions, they had never themselves contemplated, to be heaped on his countrymen at home. but which, now that they had taken place, It was felt, that in his inordinate pursuit of they pronounced the most natural occurpower, he cared not what principles of rences possible, and such as might have humanity or of honour he overleaped. been foreseen by the most shallow poliThis it was which led to his destination ticians. He was aware how difficult it for Eiba-and hence the policy of that was to bear up by abstract reasoning destiny would not stand for a moment; against the want of success; yet he for when the ascendancy which he had thought, under all the circumstances the over the army he had commanded was Treaty of Fontainbleau was capable of considered, he would ask, where was the the clearest justification. His hon. friend policy of placing him in an island in the who had just sat down had stated, that at Mediterranean, in direct communication the time of gigning this Treaty, Buonawith those countries, France and Italy, parté had but 30 or 40,000 men. It which were most liable to the influ- should be recollected, however, that these ence of his arguments and persuasions?- men consisted of the old guards, who had With respect to the latter part of his hon. had accompanied him in all his victories, friend's motion, namely, the precautions and who would have shed the last drop which had been taken to prevent the of their blood in defence of their leader. escape of Buonaparté from Elba, he Against such a force it would not have thought there had been quite enough been wise to have risked a continuance established to prove that it was impossible of war-the result would have been by for the necessary vigilance to have been no means certain, for these men, readopted. He would ask, in what capa freshed by despair, would have fought city colonel Campbell was employed in with a determination which could not Elba? Was it diplomatic? Was it con- have been withstood. What would the fidential?-[Lord Castlereagh across the House have said, if ministers bad called table- His situation was confidential.'] upon the country to lavish more blood Then (continued Mr. Elliot), if it was and treasure in a personal animosity? If confidential, he must have had opportu- the Treaty of Fontainbleau had not been nities of communicating to his Majesty's concluded at the moment, the soldiery
might have obliged their commanders to retract their engagements; and it would have been a most extraordinary thing, if we had chosen to dissolve the union of the Allies. As to the Empress and her son not being allowed to join Buonaparté in the island of Elba, he begged to remind the House that there was a clause in the Treaty for granting passports to those who wished to accompany him; but the fact was, that she refused to go with him. To say that he was deprived of domestic comforts, was perfectly ridiculous, when we considered his character and circumstances, and that he had another wife living when he married the Archduchess of Austria. With respect to the stipulations for certain sums to be paid to Buonaparté and his family, the House should remember that a payment had been made to the duchess of St. Leu, and the other portions would have been paid when they became due, if he had not violated his engagements. In regard to the proposition said to have been made at Congress, for removing Buonaparté to St. Helena, if he understood the noble lord, no mention was made at Congress of that island; and he believed that the whole of Buonaparte's suspicions on that head arose from a paragraph in an English newspaper, which suggested that he ought to be removed thither. His flagrant violation of the Treaty of Fontainbleau must remove all doubts, if we ever entertained any doubts, as to the sincerity of his fine proclamations, and teach the French people how little confidence could be reposed in his splendid professions on the subject of liberty. These professions, and his boasted charters, were aptly characterised in the words of a great historian: "speciosa verbis, re inania, aut subdola: quantóque majore libertatis imagine tegebantur tantò eruptura ad infensius servitium."
Mr. Robinson entered into a description of the movements of the Allied army, and that of the army of Buonaparté, on the approach to Paris, for the purpose of showing that it was impossible for lord Castlereagh to have been with the advanced division of the Grand Army at the time of the signing of the Treaty of Fontainbleau. The absence of his noble friend at the time of the conclusion of the Treaty of Fontainbleau was not a matter of choice, but arose from the singular operations of the campaign. He was separated from the emperor Alexander by a movement of the army, and as he
could not delegate any authority to any other agent, no possible blame could attach to him. The hon. gentleman observed, that he could make allowances for for the high-coloured and distorted view which the hon. gentlemen on the opposite side of the House were disposed to take of the conduct of his Majesty's ministers ; but he had no doubt, when the House examined dispassionately all that had taken place on this subject, that they would be disposed to believe there was no ground whatever for the censures which had been uttered against them. With regard to the general question, he could not agree that the Treaty of Fontainbleau was improvident. The means which Buonaparté possessed were much more considerable than gentlemen were disposed to think, and there was no defection in his army till the 5th of April. It was the duty of the Allies to consult what appeared to be the feelings of the French themselves; and nothing would have tended so much to consolidate the power of Buonaparté as to have shown a total disregard to what the senate conceived to be the interests of France. It was of extreme importance to consider that the Treaty was concluded on the part of Buonaparte by some of his most distinguished officers; and when there was an opportunity of restoring tranquillity to France without shedding more blood, surely it was prudent and politic to adopt that arrangement.
Mr. Ponsonby said, that the motion of his hon. friend was not made for the purpose of determining whether the Treaty of Fontainbleau was wise or not, or whether it was necessary or not; but for the purpose of ascertaining what steps had been taken after the Treaty was concluded, and what information had been received by his Majesty's Government, as to the intended violation of the Treaty on the part of Buonaparté. He could not help observing on the maxim introduced by an hon. gentleman, That nothing was so difficult as to give good advice before an event, and nothing so easy as to make wise reflections after. He did not find that the truth of this maxim had been borne out by the conduct of his Majesty's ministers, who, while they had not given very wise advice before the Treaty of Fontainbleau, had certainly not given any proof of wise reflection after it was concluded. The honourable gentleman had also spoken of the dangers to be apprehended from the soldiers of Buonaparte,
who were refreshed by despair.' Now he had read in one of the finest poets, of Despair, in the character of a nurse attending the sick,
"From couch to couch Despair attends the sick."
But would the House be contented with this declaration? The minister was charged with negligence and supineness in per mitting the escape of Buonaparté. His learned friend moved for information received as to the intention of Buonaparté ; and the noble lord simply asserts, that no information was received worthy of attention. But was this enough to satisfy the House, charged as ministers were with having received information, of which they neglected to avail themselves? Let this information, which the noble lord said was not worth attending to, be produced; and then the House would be fairly dealt with, and be able to form a correct judgment upon the subject. He had himself heard that ministers had received a variety of information with respect to the views and preparations of Buonaparté. Among other communications, he was told that a foreign minister had some time since transmitted a letter to his Ma
But he did not know that the sick were much refreshed by despair (a laugh). It had been stated, that ministers had made private representations to the Government of France respecting the performance of the Treaty of Fontainbleau; but this only showed their opinion that the treaty made with Buonaparté had not been observed. He would not have it understood that he meant to justify Napoleon, but it was clear that the Treaty had been violated. In the first place it was said that his wife was not disposed to follow him, and that there was no stipulain the Treaty for her going: but was there any stipulation to deprive him of the society of his son? To withhold his off-jesty's Government, stating that he, or the spring from him, and to deprive him of government which he represented, had his rights, was a direct, manifest, and reason to believe that Buonaparté was palpable violation of the Treaty. The preparing to return to France, and that noble lord had said, that if any agree- Joseph Buonaparté had engaged quarters ment had been made to induce the em- for some French officers who were to copress and her son to part with Parma and operate in the project. This statement Placentia, it was on the ground of an he had had from respectable authority, adequate consent. But where could there and he should be glad to know from the be an adequate consent? Such consent noble lord whether it was well founded? could be given by Buonaparté only, for [Lord Castlereagh answered that no such it was clear that an infant could not con- communication had ever been received sent. The Allies had, therefore, mani- by ministers]. Adverting to the charge fested great want of judgment, as it was of the noble lord, that there existed in their duty to maintain the Treaty with some gentlemen a disposition to distort Napoleon, and not to furnish him with facts, and an aptitude to adopt statements the smallest reason for complaint. The derogatory to the honour of the British right hon. gentleman professed his utter Government and its allies, he could assure inability to comprehend the difficulty of the noble lord that if the charge, were producing the instructions, if any, whe- meant for him (Mr. Ponsonby), he should ther verbal or written, which it was said not shrink from meeting it, or hesitate to were given to our officer off Elba; or if repeat what he had before said, that when an understanding, as it was called, why the conduct of Congress should come to that understanding was not capable of be fully discussed, it would appear that some description in words to satisfy the in the transaction respecting Naples, the motion before the House, and if it was policy, honour, and character of Great the duty of the British Government, ac- Britain had been more committed by the cording to its guarantee, to secure the noble lord than by any other minister, on performance of the Treaty of Fontainbleau, any occasion whatever. An hon. and it was obviously incumbent upon that learned friend of his had given notice of Government to be on the watch to pre- a motion upon this subject, which would vent the return of Napoleon Buonaparté afford the noble lord an opportunity, if he to France. It was alleged that ministers should think fit, to offer any explanation in had received information of the intentions his power. But there could be now no of Buonaparté; but the noble lord stated doubt that war had commenced between that nothing had ever been communi- Austria and Naples; and it was equally cated upon the subject worth attending to. undoubted, that that war was the result
of the party who had a right to dispose of them. It was not Buonaparte, but Maria Louisa who had a right to them. They were given as a provision for her; and she, with respect to them, had a right to decide for her son, who was to be her successor, and who was to inherit them through her, and not through Buonaparte. The case would have been different bad the object in discussion been the island of Elba, which had been ceded to Napoleon. The good faith of this country was not affected by the non-payment of the sums which it was stipulated Buonaparte should receive from France. His noble friend, when he last passed through Paris, had recommended it to the French Government to pay them. He had not urged this because he conceived a breach of good faith to have actually taken place; but understanding it was likely Buonaparté might be in want of money, he had used his good offices to induce the French Government to expedite the payment of the sum he was to receive. None of these grievances, however, had been urged in the first proclamations of Buonaparté, on his landing in France. They had all spoken of the disappointment of the hopes of the nation by the re-establishment of the Bourbons, as the cause of his return. It was not till it might be presumed that he had seen the suggestions thrown out in other countries, that any thing like a justification of his conduct, founded on personal injuries, was sent forth. It was said that this Government ought to have prevented his flight; but how was this to be done? He did not think it could be effected without searching every ship for him that sailed from Elba; and would not the exercise of such a power have been incompatible with the rights of a sovereign prince with whom we were not at war? It seemed to be forgotten, that according to Buonaparte's own account he had been stopped on his voyage; but the troops being ordered below, there was nothing in the appearance of the vessel that caused suspicion that it was other than one of his merchant ships, and he was suffered to proceed. His preparations were so secretly made, that even general Bertrand knew little or nothing of them; and, once completed, a few hours served for their embarkation. Colonel Campbell had attempted to follow him; and had he not been detained by a calm, if satisfied that Napoleon had quitted the island with the views he then had, he did not hesitate
of the violation of those engagements which this country, as well as Austria and the other Allies, were pledged to observe. For it was indisputable, that the noble lord stood as solemnly pledged to the present Sovereign of Naples, by the nature of his engagements, as if he had actually subscribed the stipulations of a treaty with that monarch.
Mr. Bathurst thought the right hon. gentleman had not added much to the arguments which had previously been heard on the topics which formed the subject of his speech. He had not taken the best mode of establishing his own impartiality by taking upon himself to assert positively, from seeing certain insulated papers, that the honour of his noble friend, and of the country, had been committed in the late negociations. It might have been as well if the right hon. gentleman had waited till it could have been put in possession of the statements on both sides the question. He (Mr. Bathurst), without meaning any disrespect to the right hon. gentleman, would not venture on an answer to so ridiculous an assertion (he spoke with reference to its being founded on partial documents) by meeting it with any document he might have seen, but would only say, that when the period arrived at which the subject could be properly discussed, neither the noble lord, nor the friends of the noble lord, would shrink from the inquiry, and that the right hon. gentleman would not be able to prove that the honour of the noble lord, or of the country through the noble lord, had been compromised. He could make allowances for the feelings of the right hon. gentleman, from the affliction he must undergo at the contemplation of the late events. These, he apprehended, in the grief which they caused him, led him hastily to censure those who did not deserve condemnation. It was thus he accounted for the objections which had been made by the right hon. gentleman to the defence which had been set up for the Treaty of Fontainbleau. If the noble lord, from unavoidable circumstances, could not be present when the Treaty was concluded, he contended that ministers were not bound to justify the policy of it, however responsible they might be for the consequences. With respect to the duchies of Parma and Placentia, if any change had been made in the arrangement which affected them, it had been with the consent
to say, he would have endeavoured to prevent their being carried into effect by hostile operations. When the gentlemen opposite called for the verbal instructions which had been given to the officers in the Mediterranean, he should like to know what verbal instructions they were of opinion ought to have been given? Would they have strictly searched every ship leaving Elba, in order to ascertain the individual was not there, or how would they have qualified their instructions? He contended there could be nothing more than an understanding that he should be stopped if he should be found in a situation which proved it was his intention to violate the Treaty. It was therefore impossible to lay before the House instructions which were not written, which, indeed, were not strictly verbal, but which were understood. He concluded by saying, that ministers were not answerable for the escape of Buonaparté, as they had neither the right nor the power to prevent it.
Sir James Mackintosh said, that he should not undertake to decide whether any thing substantially new had been, or could be added to the judicious and unexaggerated statement of his hon. and learned friend (Mr. Abercrombie); but sure he was, that whoever were to know the excellent speech of his learned friend only from the answer which had been attempted to it, must be totally mistaken in its purport and scope. The question was not, as it had been argued on the other side, whether there was a case for the conviction of ministers, but whether parliamentary ground was laid for inquiry into their conduct. On the question thus stated, he really could scarcely see a plausible pretext for difference of opinion. The right hon. gentleman (Mr. B. Bathurst) had indeed been pleased to charge the representations made on this side of the House of the mischievous effects of this fatal error with exaggeration, and had deigned in his generosity to say that he made allowance for the feelings of his right hon. friend (Mr. Elliot)-so much distinguished in the House by that power of compression, and that union of elegance, with gravity which required a calm as well as a comprehensive understanding. No man was more master of himself, as well as of his audience; no man was less likely to be hurried away by the impetuosity of disorderly feelings. How had his right hon. friend been so unfortunate as to incur the indulgence, and require the merciful consideration of the right hon. gentleman? (VOL, XXX.)
Could any feeling be too warm for the case? Was it in the power of eloquence to magnify the evil? Wars which had raged for 25 years throughout Europe; which had spread blood and desolation from Cadiz to Moscow, and from Naples to Copenhagen; which had wasted the means of human enjoyment, and destroyed the instruments of social improvement; which threatened to diffuse among the European nations the dissolute and ferocious habits of a predatory soldiery; at length, by one of those vicissitudes which bid defiance to the foresight of man, had been brought to a close, upon the whole happy beyond all reasonable expectation, with no violent shock to national independence, with some tolerable compromise between the opinions of the age and the reverence due to ancient institutions; with no too signal or mortifying triumph over the legitimate interests or avowable feelings of any numerous body of men, and above all without those retaliations against nations or parties which beget new convulsions often as horrible as those which they close, and perpetuate revenge and hatred and blood from age to age. Europe seemed to breathe after her sufferings. In the midst of this fair prospect and of these consolatory hopes, Napoleon Buonaparté escaped from Elba; three small vessels reached the coast of Provence; their hopes are instantly dispelled, the work of our toil and fortitude is undone, the blood of Europe is spilt in vain
Ibi omnis effusus labor!
We had now to commence a new career of peril, at least as formidable as that from which we had fondly hoped that we had been for ever delivered. Was this a case of which it was easy to exaggerate the evils? Could his right hon. friend have felt lukewarmly on such a subject without throwing doubts on the sincerity of his love for his country, and of his regard for the general welfare of long-harassed Europe? Surely if he had on such an occasion deviated from the usual calm dignity of his eloquence, he might rather be praised than excused. And was this a case in which the House would refuse to inquire whether the misconduct of the Government of Great Britain had any share in bringing so many evils on Europe?
Some insinuations had been thrown out of differences of opinion on his side of the House, respecting the evils of this escape. He utterly denied them. All agreed in lamenting the occurrence which rendered the renewal of war so probable, not to say (3 B)