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such a government as is capable of maintaining the accustomed relations of peace and amity :--with fuch a government, wh:ther republican or not, we will treat. They told us in their arguments, thai they had given up indemnity ; but they said, will you call upon us to trear with such a government? Where now, my Lords, was the lofty language which talked of restoring the French monarchy? Where were the supporters of the declara. tion issued by a Noble Lord opposite to me at Toulon! Where were the men who said, that there was no middle line between anarchy and monarchy? They wer: all foftened; they were foftened, because they found that they could not maintain their principles without losing their situations. They then shewed, that, however lofty their language had been in the hour of prof. perity, it thould ever fall as their prospects fell, and that their concessions should be in a pro ratu proportion to their difficulties. Such was the fituation in which we were placed in the third year of the war. A debt of forty-seven millions had been incurred, and a permanent annual charge upon the country of 2,250,000). With this the sellion closed. The opening of the next presented a different aspect of affairs. The allies had been successful. Yet, however elated Ministers might be at there fuccefles, still they did not think them sufficient to warrant the resumption of their old strain of argument; but, in answer to ihofe who still endea voured for peace, they told us that the itate of things in Franec must lead to a crisis, the iflue of which no one could forefec, but that great events might arise, which would be important for the interests of Europe. If the crisis terminated favourably, they would be ready to meet any propasition that might be made for peace. It was then endeavoured, by the advocates for peace, to be proved, that it would be bet. ter to attempt to come to a conclusion, and Parliament were urged to declare, that the then Government of France was ca: pable of maintaining the accußomed relations of amity and peace. No success, however, was derived from that propofition. Ministers renewed their former objections, and the afsignats of France afforded ample marter of speculation on the ruin of the finances. It was said, that France was absolutely so exhausted, that another campaign would not even be endured. I remember, my Lords, full well, that, upon that oc. cafion, I muved an amendment. I said I would not enter into the involved question ; and that all I had to observe was, that in proportion as the prophecies of Ministers were more decisive, the energies of France became greater. Some compliments were paid me; it was said, that I was perfectly competent to argue the question, but that I declined it from a conviction that fo little could be faid. The event has proved, whether I
was right or wrong. But failing constantly in our attempts to make Parliament declare that France was capable of maintaining the relations of amity and peace, we learnt, with great surprise, in less than fix weeks, that the crisis had ended favourably, and that Ministers declared themselves ready to meet any offers of negotiation. Now, surely, my Lords, those who were fo anxious for a fixed form of Government in France, might, I should have thought, have taken more than six weeks to decide upon the new Government, and whether it had sufficient ftability or not. But thinking, as we did, that you might have treated with any Government that had existed since the commencement of the war, we had of course no objection to this offer of treating. We could not however help suspecting, that Ministers had no sincere desire for peace, but were anxious to concede a little, not to us certainly, but to those who were wavering between peace and war. This state of affairs produced a message from Mr. Wickham, an answer to it, and a note commenting upon both. Upon that note I have had occafion to remark before, and I have always said, and it is not my own opinion alone, but the opinion of all with whom I have converfed, that that proceeding was the most unlikely means that were ever adopted by any nation to secure a peace. You would have thought, at least, that some civility might have been used to the power with whom you professed a wish to treat. Upon the answer given by M. Barthelemy, his Majesty's Ministers published a note. But finding that was not quite sufficient to delude the people, they brought forward another negotiation with a little more state trick in it. Look at the circumstances and conduct of the first negotiation of Lord Malmesbury. I shall not go at length into a topic so often discussed. If Ministers, contrary to every appearance, were sincere upon that occasion, muft they not have been the most incapable administration that ever exifted, to adopt the course which they pursued. · There was nothing concilating in its beginning or in its progress; every ground of suspicion was given to the enemy against the Hocerity of Ministers. A Minister was sent with power to conclude and not to treat, and to treat for the Emperor without authority. Upon this subject it has been vainly attempted to obtain documents which develope the true ftate of some very important points of negotiation. ¡ If these documents are refused, then I am entitled to conclude that they contain nothing to justify Ministers in the demand of Belgium as a fine qua non ; that. Ministers had no authority from the Emperor to urge such a condicion. Notwithstanding the original pretences from which the war was said to be undertaken, to give protection to the oppreffed, to check the career of mad ambition, and to de
fend property, what were the terms on which we proposed to conclude a peace? All the great powers were to be benefited at the expence of the smaller. While Poland was allowed to be divided without a remonstrance, new schemes of partition were devised by those who pretended to have interfered for the protection of the weak, and for the interest of all, France was to have retained some of her conquests. The Emperor was to have received compensation for his losses, and the Dutch settlements in the East were to be the portion of Great Britain. Upon this occasion Belgium, as a fine qua non, was not to remain with France. Upon this point, Lord Malmesbury's first negotiation was broken off; while many thought that considering the importance of peace to this country, Ministers ought to have made that cession as the means of obtaining peace. How much more necessary would it have appeared to give up Belgium, had our financial situation then been ascertained; had it been known that the Bank was in danger of stopping payment; and what can be thought of those, who, warned of the danger, still perfevered in the measures by which its solidity was shaken? The fine qua non of Belgium, however, was insisted upon, and, after many millions were squandered in support of our pretensions, it was at last found necessary that they should be dropped.
“ If sincere in the next attempt, surely it was not greatly in the spirit of conciliation, or with probability of success, that the Noble Lord who had failed in the first mission should again be chosen as the negotiator. I do not question the talents of the Noble Lord, but I cannot help thinking that the circum, stances of his former negotiation placed him in a fituation of prejudice, which no other person would have had to encounter. Without going into the circumstances of this negotiation, I shall only remind you of the efforts which were made last seslion to prevail upon you to resort to attain that peace which the present Ministers had in vain endeavoured to obtain. The haughty demeanour which they had observed, the irritating conduct they had pursued, disqualified them for acting the part of conciliation with any credit for sincerity, or any chance of suc. cess. The insolence which they had displayed in prosperity was not followed by firm ness in adversity ; and their concel. fions, though never calculated to procure peace, betrayed them to the enemy as weak and wavering Statesmen, from whom every concesiion might ultimately be obtained. When such was the character of Ministers, and such the light in which they were viewed by the enemy, how could it be expected that peace would be the result of their hollow negotiations? At the end of five years of war, then, let me call the atten. tion of the House to the situation in which we stood at the contest, and that which we now hold. We began the war in conjunction with the greatest confederacy ever known in Europe, and we are now without a single Ally but Portugal ! It was then said what would be our situation, obliged to wage war alone with France, at peace with the other nations of Europe. How favourable a situation this, my Lords, to that in which we now stand ? We should have entered upon the contest with ample resources, and, in the worst event, we should have seen at some years distance that calamity we now experi ence. Notwithstanding all the expence which the war has heaped upon us, we see not a single effort excrted in vigorous attack. We are reduced to a state of inert self-defence. What hope of success have we in protracted war? What prospect have we of its termination? What prospect have we to cheer our gloom or to compensate for our sacrifices ? Our exertions, my Lords, under the auspices of the present Ministers, are as hopeless as they are incalculablc. I know, my Lords, that the subject of finance is iskfome to you. But let me intreat you to consider the magnitude of the debt under which this country now labours. The annual charge entailed upon this country, in the course of a few years war, is equal to the amount of the debt at the time when the present Ministers came into power. Without mentioning the different corps of Supplementary Cavalry, &c. which had been raised at a great expence to the country, the permanent debt of the nation was doubled in the short space of five years. Can you think, then, that no blame can attach to the men who have squandered fo profusely the resources of the nition without fruit or advantage? Do you think that the review of what we were and what we are now',---- hat we have spenr, and what we have gained, or rather loft, affords no proof of the incapacity of the present Ministers; and that under their auspices you can have any hope that your affairs will be conducted with ability and success?
“While we contemplate from without a situation of affairs fo afflicting, there is nothing in our internal state to afford us any confolation. We began to war in circumstances of the greatest prosperity, and with the strongest alliance. We have persevered in it till we have been desorted by the whole of that alliance, except Portugal. We are reduced to a state of detence, and what hopes of success have we? Have you any? Will you point out to the country what they are? No, you have none to hold out-you have neither hope of success nor of termination of the contest. To this situation, deserted by our allies, embarrassed in our finances, we are reduced : We No. 18.
are burthened with a debt more enormous than any that was ever incurred in any war. Look, my Lords, at the amount of it-it is a dry and unpleasing task, I know, at all times ; but for God's fake see what you have expended for the destruction of Jacobinism in France; which now is at its greatest height, Again, however, must we have recourse to borrowing, and we shall have imposed upon the country, for the prosecution of this war, an annual charge exceeding all the interest of the National Debt to the time when the present Chancellor of the Exchequer 'came into office. When the accounts of the American War were all wound up, the interest of the debt was nine millions and a half. In five years however we have laid more burthen than any preceding Ministers, without taking into the calculation the money raised by Supplementary Cavalry, Infantry, &c. Can you think of this without imagining that any blame is imputable to the present Ministers? If you are determined to think so, you have at least fufficient proof that they have done miserably ill, and that all hope of retrieving the country must conlist in selecting other men. What, my Lords, is our present domestic situation? To Thew all the mischiefs and misery of it, I shall perhaps commence at the period that preceded the war. Your Lordships will recol. lect, that there men had the government of the country during a long period of prosperous peace. What is our situation now ? Are we not living under laws hostile to the Contiitution? (A cry of bear, bear.} Is not that our present situation ? Are we not precluded from the benefits of that system which it was our pride to boast of, and on which we refted our firmest hopes? But there is another topic which this review suggefts, on which I know not how to speak. Consider, my Lords, the situation of Ireland at the present moment. It has been said that you ought not to interfere in the affairs of Ireland ? But do not the Ministers of this country, by the system which they pursue, alienate from you the affections of the Sister Kingdom. My Lords, were I to enter into a detail of the atro. cities which have been committed in Ireland, the picture would appal the stoutest heart. It could be proved that the most shocking atrocities have been perpetrated; but indeed what could be expected if men, kept in strict discipline, were all at once allowed to give loose to their fury and their passions. To the military, then, I do not impute the blame, but to those by whom their exceffes have been permitted and encouraged. Certain it is that two distinct and opposite orders have been issued for regulating the conduct of the military ; one by which they were allowed to act without the authoritv of the civil power; and the other by which they are restrained