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February 12. 1793.
Tuy order of the day was moved for taking into consideration the following message from His Majesty:
“ GEORGE R. "His Majesty thinks proper to acquaint the House of Commons, that the assembly now exercising the powers of government in France, have, without previous notice, directed acts of hostility to be committed against the persons and property of His Majesty's subjects, in breach of the law of nations, and of the most positive stipulations of treaty: and have since, on the most groundless pretences, actually declared war against His Majesty and the United Provinces. Under the circumstances of this wanton and unprovoked aggression, His Majesty has taken the necessary steps to maintain the honour of his crown, and to vindicate the rights of his people; and His Majesty relies with confidence on the firm and effectual support of the House of Commons, and on the zealous exertions of a brave and loyal people, in prosecuting a just and necessary war, and in endeavouring, under the blessing of Providence, tò oppose an effectual barrier to the farther progress of a system which strikes at the security and peace of all independent nations, and is pursued in open defiance of every principle of moderation, good faith, humanity, and justice,
“ In a cause of sạch general concern, His Majesty has every reason to hope for the cordial co-operation of those powers who are united with His Majesty by the ties of alliance, or who feel an interest in preventing the extension of anarchy and confusion, and in contributing to the security and tranquillity of Europe.
As soon as the message was read,
Mr. Pitt rose and observed, that, in proposing to the House an address in answer to His Majesty's message, he did not conceive that there could be any necessity, in the present instance, at least in one view of the subject, for troubling them much at large. Whatever difference of opinion might formerly have existed with respect to subjects, on which, however, the great majority both of that House and the nation had coincided in sentiment, whatever doubts might be entertained as to the interest, which this country had in the recent transactions on the continent, whatever question might be made of the satisfaction to
which this country was entitled, or whatever question might be made of the mode of conduct which had been pursued by government, which lately had not been carried so far as to produce even a division ; yet when the situation in which we now stood was considered, when those circumstances which had occurred to produce an alteration in the state of affairs since the last address, were taken into the account, he could not doubt but that there would be one unanimous sentiment and voice ex pressed on the present occasion. The question now. was, not what degree of danger or insult we should find it necessary to repel, from a regard to our safety, or from a sense of honour; it was, not whether we should adopt in our measures a system of promptitude and vigour, or of tameness and procrastination; whether we should sacrifice every other consideragione to the continuance of an uncertain and insecure peace; when war was declared, and the event no longer in our option, it remained only to be considered, whether we should prepare to meet it with a firm determination, and support His Majesty's government with zeal and courage against every attack. War now was not only declared, but carried on at our very doors ; a war which aimed at an object no less destructive than the total ruin of the freedom and independence of this country. In this situation of affairs, he would not do so much injustice to the members of that House, whatever differences of opinion might formerly have existed, as to suppose there could be any but one decision, one fixed resolution, in this so urgent nécessity, in this imminent and common danger, by the ardour and firmness of their support, to testify their loyalty to their sovereign, their attachment to the constitution, and their sense of those inestimable blessings which they had so long enjoyed under its influ. ence. Confident, however, as he was, that such would be their unanimous decision, that such woald be their determined and unalterable resolution, he should not consider it as altogether useless to take a view of the situation of the country at the time of His Majesty's last messago, of the circumstances which had preceded and accompanied it, and of the situation in which we now stood, in consequence of what had occurred during that interval. · When His Majesty, by his message, informed them, that in the present situation of affairs he conceived it indispensably necessary to make a farther augmentation of his forces, they had cheerfully concurred in that object, and returned in answer, what then was the feeling of the House, the expression of their affection and zeal, and their readiness to support His Majesty in those purposes, for which he had stated an augmentation of force to be necessary. They saw the justice of the alarm which was then entertained, and the propriety of affording that support which was required. He should shortly state the grounds upon which they had then given their concurrence. They considered that whatever temptations might have existed to this country from ancient enmity and rivalship-paltry motives indeed or whatever opportunity might have been afforded by the tumultuous and distracted state of France, or whatever sentiments might be excited by the transactions, which had taken place in that nation, His Majesty had uniformly abstained from all interference in its internal government, and had maintained, with respect to it, on every occasion, the strictest and most inviolable neutrality.
Such being his conduct towards France, he had a right to expect on their part a suitable return; more especially, as this return had been expressly conditioned for by a compact, into which they entered, and by which they engaged to respect the rights of His Majesty and his allies, not to interfere in the go. vernment of any neutral country, and not to pursue any system of aggrandisement, or make any addition to their dominions, but to confine themselves, at the conclusion of the war, within their own territories. These conditions they had all grossly vio. lated, and had adopted a system of ambitious and destructive policy, fatal to the peace and security of every government, and which, in its consequences, had shaken Europe itself to its foundation. Their decree of the 19th of November, which had been so much talked of, offering fraternity, and affiance to all people who wish to recover their liberty, was à decree not levelled against particular nations, but against every country where there was any form of government established; a decree not hostile to individuals, but to the human race ; which was calculated every where to sow the seeds of rebellion and civil contention, and to spread war from one end of Europe to the other, from one end of the globe to the other. While they were bound to this country by the engagements which he had mentioned, they had shewed no intention to exempt it from the consequences of this decree: Nay, a directly contrary opinion might be formed, and it might be supposed that this country was more particularly aimed at by this very decree, if we were to judge from the exultation with which they had received from different societies in England every address expressive of sedition and disloyalty, and from the eager desire which they had testified to encourage and cherish the growth of such sentiments. Not only had they shewed no inclination to fulfil their engagements, but had even put it out of their own power, by taking the first opportunity to make additions to their territory in contradiction to their own express stipulations. By express resolutions for the destruction of the existing government of all invaded countries, by the means of Jacobin societies, by orders given to their generals, by the whole system adopted in this respect by the national assembly, and by the actual connection of the whole country of Savoy, they had marked their determination to add to the dominions of France, and to provide means, through the medium of every new conquest, to carry their principles over Europe. Their conduct was such, as in every instance had militated against the dearest and most valuable interests of this country.
The next consideration was, that under all the provocations which had been sustained from France, provocations which, in ordinary times, and in different circumstances, could not have failed to have been regarded as acts of hostility, and which formerly, not even a delay of twenty-four hours would have been wanting to have treated as such, by commencing an im.
mediate war of retaliation, His Majesty's ministers had prudently and temperately advised all the means to be previously employed of obtaining reasonable satisfaction, before recourse should be had to extremities. Means had been taken to inform their agents, even though not accredited, of the grounds of jealousy and complaint on the part of this country, and an opportunity had been afforded through them of bringing forward any circumstances of explanation, or offering any terms of satisfaction: Whether the facts and explanations which these agents had brought forward were such as contained any proper satisfaction for the past, or could afford any reasonable assurance with respect to the future, every member might judge from the inspection of the papers. He had already given it as his opinion, that if there was no other alternative than either to make war or depart from our principles, rather than recede from our principles a war was preferable to a peace; because a peace, purchased upon such terms, must be uncertain, precarious, and Mable to be continually interrupted by the repetition of fresh injuries and insults. War wais preferable to such a peace, be cause it was a shorter and a surer way to that end which the House had undoubtedly in view as its ultimate object-a secure and lasting peace. What sort of peace must that be in which there was no security? Peace he regarded as desirable only so far as it was secure. If, said Mr. Pitt, you entertain a sense of the many blessings which you enjoy, if you value the continue ance and safety of that commerce which is a source of so much Opulence, if you wish to preserve and render permanent that high state of prosperity by which this country has for some years past been so eminently, distinguished, you hazard all these advantages more, and are more likely to forfeit them, by submitting to a precarious and disgraceful peace, than by a timely and vigorous interposition of your arms. By tameness and. delay you suffer that evil which might now be checked, to gain ground, and which, when it becomes indispensable to oppose, may perhaps be found itresistible. - It had on former debates been alleged, that by going to war