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gone, and were still going much farther, since happy and fortunate as the events already ascertained had proved, and highly as he thought the measures lately pursued, with respect to the republic, were entitled to applause, he should be of opinion, that a glorious opportunity had been lost, if steps had not been taken, and were not still pursuing, for the restoration of a close alliance between this country and the republic. Without such a conclusion to the plan, it would be lamentably imperfect and incomplete.
With regard to the subsidiary treaty with Hesse Cassel, it was impossible for him to speak to it till such time as the House should be in possession of better information upon the topic than they were at present, and therefore he would wait till the future day on which it would necessarily come under discussion. He said, he happened to have come down late to the House, by which he had lost the pleasure of hearing, what he was informed had been, a most able and eloquent speech from the honourable gentleman who moved the address. Among other things that had fallen from the honourable gentleman, he had understood that in speaking of the treaty with the landgrave of Hesse, the honourable gentleman had praised subsidiary treaties, and spoken of them as measures peculiarly proper and wise to be taken by commercial countries to keep their manufacturers and labourers at home. He had, Mr. Fox said, been uniformly a friend to subsidiary treaties on the same principle; but the principle might be carried to too great an extent. It was possible for ministers to be in possession of facts that might justify the sort of treaty that should hereafter appear to have been the treaty entered into. One; great use of subsidiary treaties, however, he had ever conceived to be the power they gave the government who entered into them, of reducing the military establishment at home, and lessening the expence to the country, or at least by employing the money, by applying it to give additional strength to the navy, the natural force of Great Britain. Whether this was to be the effect of the treaty with the landgrave of Hesse was a matter that remained to be inquired into when the proper day of discussion should arrive, as likewise whether the treaty mentioned in the speech was a treaty calculated only to answer the temporary purpose of the neces- . sity that then threatened, or a general treaty founded on a more permanent basis, and which, though it added somewhat to the national expence, was convertible to the national service, whenever occasion should require. This, Mr. Fox said, was a point which he did not clearly understand from the speech, but upon which he should hereafter expect some information; not that he meant in that House to enter too
minutely into the discussion of negociations which might be pending. He was aware that the doing so was prejudicial to the public interests, and therefore he had never been fond of either pursuing or countenancing it.
With respect to the agreement of the two courts of Great Britain and France mutually to disarm, a great deal of conversation had taken place without doors on the true meaning of the declaration and counter-declaration. In that respect, he conceived all that was intended by his majesty's ministers and the ministers of the court of France was, that each power should reduce their establishments to what they were at the beginning of the year, but be at full liberty to increase them in case new circumstances arose; forif, as some people had supposed, it was understood between the two courts that they were bound down to remain in their reduced establishment state, let what would happen, Great Britain had made a most preposterous agreement, and which, as it was impossible to be adhered to by France or Great Britain, could never have been intended by either. Mr. Fox illustrated this position by stating, that if such were the nature and meaning of the agreement, this country, in case of an attack from any other quarter than France, would not have it in her power to increase her armament without the consent of France; and reminded the House, that in all our late wars the different branches of the house of Bourbon considered the subject of each as a family quarrel, in which they were all materially concerned. If, therefore, Spain attacked us, we must remain in an ineffectual state of armament. A very material question to be answered before the meaning of the declaration, or rather the exact compliance with its terms, Mr. Fox said, could be ascertained, was, what was the real state of the naval establishments of the two countries at the beginning of the year, and what was understood by each to be a satisfactory reduction ?
Another observation arose in his mind upon reading the speech, and that was, that the condition entered into by the two courts, in respect to disarming, went only to the naval establishment, whereas, in the preceding part of the speech, his majesty stated, that on receiving the notification from France of her intention to assist the usurpers of the lawful government; he gave immediate orders for augmenting his forces both by sea and land. Why was not the military force to be reduced as well as the naval? The speech gave no intimation of it, neither had the declaration or counter-declaration conveyed any such intention: and this naturally led him to another part of the speech, connected with the same topic, and that was, the recommendation to the particular attention of that House, to consider of the proper means for
He had hen the petablishmeblame of
maintaining his majesty's distant possessions in an adequate posture of defence. He had the honour, Mr. Fox said, to have been in administration when the peace establishment was settled; if, therefore, an inadequate establishment had been then proposed, the criminality, or rather the blame of the measure, if blame were due, was imputable to him and to those with whom he acted; but not more to him or them than to the present ministry, since the same establishment had been adhered to by the succeeding administration, and continued by that House. Probably, however, his majesty's ministers had come to the knowledge of circumstances which had convinced them, that the establishment after the peace was insufficient, and if so, they would doubtless lay before the House their reasons for being of that opinion, and then it would be for the House to decide upon their validity and force.
Mr. Fox, after making these cursory remarks, returned to his original position, and in glowing terms expressed his satisfaction at the system of measures lately adopted. He said, that whether government had adopted those measures with respect to the United Provinces sufficiently soon, or whether they ought to have adopted them earlier, were matters of opinion; but he was extremely glad to find that they had at length embraced them, and he hoped when we should have connected ourselves with the United Provinces by a solid and substantial treaty, to which he could not but with reasonable expectation look forward, since the interest of each power was one and the same; that the government would pursue the idea of taking the most effectual steps to preserve the balance of power, and carry it into execution with regard to other European states and countries. He said, he did not approve of the conduct of those statesmen, who, in order to exert their political influence in foreign courts, resorted to indirect and concealed practices, by fomenting factions and cabals. But unworthy as those means were, and illaudable in themselves as they must be acknowledged to be, so long as it was notorious that they were constantly resorted to by other powers, and most especially by the court of France, it became the duty of British ministers to endeavour to counteract her purposes in the same secret way in which she endeavoured to effect them, and therefore he wished the word “ forcible” had not been used in the speech by way of qualifying the mention of the interference of France. So far from the 6 forcible interference” of that court in the affairs of the republic of the United Provinces, being the sole interference that it behoved this country to counteract, every sort of interference, open or concealed, ought to be counteracted by us; and con
sequently, had the word interference stood alone, and the meaning been generally expressed, in his mind the sentence would have been more proper and applicable.
His noble colleague (Lord Hood) had seemed to think that war was not so distant as might be imagined. He could not, Mr. Fox said, see any reason for despondency. So far from it, the recent events had shewn that France was, in point of finance, in so imbecile a state, as well as in other particulars, that it was not in her power to break with us, and if, with all her natural and various means of recruiting herself on an emergency, and of suddenly obtaining resources, she would not engage in a war, when such an important prize as the possession of Holland was at stake, he was pretty well persuaded that she would not quarrel with this country for some time at least, or on a slight punctilio. But the best means to insure the continuance of peace, was to add to our strength rather than trust to the weakness of our oldest and most inveterate rival. Let us enlarge the number of our alliances, insure the co-operation of other powers in the hour of attack, improve our marine, cherish and preserve it and all that belonged to that favourite service, and we might then consider the ambition of the house of Bourbon, its imbecility, or its power, as matters of equally trifling consideration. Mr. Fox here took occasion to compliment those who had the direction of naval affairs in their choice of an officer to command the grand fleet, the most important division of our maritime force. He reminded the House, that the ministry of which he had the honour to be one, had nominated the same officer to the command of the West India squadron in 1782, and that a good deal of slur had been cast on the nomination by those who at that time thought fit to question the propriety of the appointment, and to declare that officer unfit to hold the command. The recent appointment of the same officer to a still higher command, proved that the opinion he had ever entertained of the merits of Admiral Pigot was not peculiar to himself, that the slur formerly cast on his administration, for having appointed the admiral to the command of the West India squadron was unmerited, and that the persons at present at the head of the admiralty thought as highly of that officer's character and professional talents, as he, and those connected with him, had done. Mr. Fox repeated his declar ration, that the substance of the address had his hearty approbation and concurrence; and having applauded it for leaving all the other considerations to which he had alluded, as matters of reference to be discussed on a future day, and by that means avoided pledging the House to points that it was impossible for them to decide upon without farther infor
mation, said he would give bis vote for it with the most heartfelt sincerity, and he hoped it would meet with the una. nimous approbation of the House.
The address was agreed to nem. con.
SUBSIDIARY TREATY WITH THE LANDGRAVE OF
December 5. * THIS day Mr. Pitt having moved, “ That 36,0931. 155. be
1 granted to his majesty for defraying the charge of subsidy which will be due to the Landgrave of Hesse Cassel for the year 1788, pursuant to treaty,"
· Mr. Fox observed, that he had expected that the House would have received some explanation of the nature of the treaty, by which they were called upon to vote the sum stated in the motion. He had on a preceding occasion, generally adverted to the treaty that was now the subject of consideration, and had asked whether it was to be considered as a mere temporary expence, like the rest of the charge of the late armament and preparations, or to be regarded in a more permanent light, as an expence to be continued with a view to the future situation of this country with respect to Holland and other continental powers. As there was a great deal of difference in these two views of it, and different con-. siderations would necessarily arise from each, he conceived it highly proper that the House, previous to their voting of the money, should receive some explanation respecting it, in order that they might know the full extent of their vote. Another matter that appeared to him to call for observation was, that in the treaty it was stipulated, that if Hessian troops were required to serve in Great Britain and Ireland, they should be put upon the same footing as British national troops. Now, as he did not suppose that it was meant that foreign troops should be brought at any time into this kingdom or Ireland, without the previous knowledge or consent of parliament, he saw no necessity for the stipulation; because if ever a necessity should arise for the aid of foreign troops in England or Ireland, and the necessity should be sufficiently urgent to palliate the employment of foreign troops, and reconcile the people to the measure, an adequate number, he