« ZurückWeiter »
These they have directly and unequivo- | ment, with an earnest desire to give it cally renounced. We, also, ought di- the fullest and speediest effect." rectly and unequivocally to acknowledge
Mr. Pitt said: Much as the hon. genthe French republic, and with that ac- tleman has introduced into his speech, knowledgment bring forward our pro- connected with the origin and conduct posals. Shall this be called humiliating of the war, from which I must decidedly The same argument was used by minis. dissent; much as I differ with him on ters when we on this side formerly pro- many of the topics he has urged, and posed what they have since done them. on many of the principles he has laid selves. When we wished merely to state down as grounds for his motion; and upon record that there existed in France firmly as I am persuaded that no mea. a government competent to enter into a sure could be more hostile to the true negotiation, it was called humiliating to interests of this country than the line make such a gratuitous acknowledgment. of conduct which he has proposed to be Yet this have ministers done. Contrary adopted; there is still one view of the to all their bold assertions, they aban- subject on which I believe it impossible doned the great cause of social order, re- there can be any difference of opinion. If ligion and humanity, and declared them the state of the country, and the senti. selves disposed for peace. A desire of ments of a great majority of this House peace could not thereby fail to be ex- are such as I have reason to suppose, cited in the country; but the hopes there cannot be any essential difference springing from this desire are stifled as as to the general result. But if, after soon as created, and we see the war re- the explanation which I may be able to newed as if no such hope had existed. It give with respect to the state of this counwould certainly be a fair and manly con- try, and the position of the enemy, the duct to go one step farther in the endea- hon.gentleman shall stillchoose to persevere vour to procure peace, and directly and in his motion, there are one or two conopenly to make those proposals which sequences, which might otherwise be prudence and honour may suggest. If drawn from any declaration of mine on the pride or ambition of the enemy form the present occasion, against which it may an insurmountable bar to our wishes, war be necessary for me to guard. I must, may still be necessary; and however therefore, guard against any imputations strongly I might be impressed with the which may hereafter be brought forward, idea of the incapacity of ministers to either as to the insincerity of any decla. carry it on; I should willingly yield to ration which I may express in favour of the necessity of its continuance; but be peace, or as to the inefficiency of the fore this dreadful alternative takes place, measures taken to facilitate its progress. let us not neglect the means necessary However I may be disposed to favour for its prevention. A fair, open, and di. that object which the motion seems prinrect communication, Sir, is the step I cipally to have in view, I can by no propose, and I found it upon his majesty's means concede the grounds on which it message, and the declaration of his mi- has been followed up ;-I mean that from nisters. Let the country know what they a view of our situation, and of the events have to trust to; let not their hopes of of the war, we should discover such peace rest on a vague and unsubstantial shameful humiliation, such hopeless de. foundation. Should I receive a single spondency, as to abandon every thing for favourable assurance on the part of mi. which we have formerly contended, and nisters, I would gladly withdraw my mo- be disposed to prostrate ourselves at the tion; so little am I'disposed to fetter feet of the enemy. If the necessity of our their operations, or to pry into their con- condition, if the sense of having been bafduct. “Mr. Grey then moved, “That an fled, should operate so strongly as to induce humble Address be presented to his Ma
us to make overtures of peace upon any jesty, to state to his Majesty the desire terms; if every consideration of policy, of this House, that his Majesty may be and every feeling of decent and honourapleased to take such steps, as to his royal ble pride must be sacrificed to the exwisdom shall appear most proper, for treme pressure of our affairs, we must then communicating directly to the executive indeed, be bound to receive the law of government of the French republic, his the conqueror. This situation of affairs Majesty's readiness to meet any disposition the hon. gentleman has not indeed deveto negotiation on the part of that govern- loped, but has pretty plainly insinuated it as a ground for his motion. I trust, duct of the executive government. If however, that the state of this country the House are of opinion that the busiis far different, and that no temporary re- ness cannot be safely left in the hands of verse in the fortune of war, no internal ministers, the proper step would be to pressure in our domestic situation, has address his majesty to remove then from yet produced this mortifying humiliation, their situation; and not to endeavour to this dreadful alternative. But the hon. interrupt the affairs of government by gentleman, as an impeachment of the sin calling on the House of Commons to incerity of ministers with respect to peace, terfere with the functions of executive has alluded to an argument, which was authority. The hon. gentleman himself formerly supported from this side of the seemed to be aware of this, as he adHouse that we could not make peace mitted the principle to be correct; he without humbling ourselves to the enemy, said he did not contend against the con. and without discovering that we were stitutional degree of confidence which an baffled in our attempts and exhausted in executive government ought to have from our resources. From this he no doubt the legislative power, while its conduct meant to insinuate that ministers were at was unexceptionable. The hon. gentleno time sincere in their wishes for peace, man says that he does not confide in miand were disposed to throw every obstacle nisters : on that ground he has been led in its way, 'He does not think
proper to to give an uniform opposition to their mention, that this argument was made use measures during the war; and on the of at a time when the opponents of the same ground he now expresses his diswar, availing themselves of a series of trust of the sincerity of their wishes remisfortunes and disappointments which specting peace. Unquestionably the hon. had befallen the confederacy, took the gentleman, who places no confidence in opportunity to press their motion for an ministers, is entitled to oppose their mead immediate peace.
We then contended, sures and to question their sincerity ; but that the evil was not so great as to ex- he is bound to conform to established clude hope, or to damp enterprize, that rules, and not to effect any change in a do circumstances had taken place under constitutional question. I mean, whenwhich a firm and manly resistance became ever this House, adopting a motion like impracticable, and that we might still the present, instead of addressing his malook with confidence to the effect of a jesty to remove his ministers, apply in vigorous and persevering prosecution of order to take the business into their own the war. In proportion as this truth has hands, they deprive the country of every become manifest to the enemy them- chance for a successful negotiation. On selves, do we feel ourselves inclined to adopt a question so critical, I am afraid lest I a more conciliating tone. In proportion should overstep the line of my duty, by as the situation of things is inverted, the entering too much into detail. objection, which we formerly made, is subject on which it is impossible to dessuperseded. That situation which the cant so minutely as the hon. gentleman hon. gentleman chose only to suppose as seems to expect, without breaking in theoretical, I contend to be practical ; upon that principle which has guided that our successes have been such as to every discreet minister in treating subobviate any obstacle to negotiation on jects of this nature.
If I felt that gethe score of national honour; and so far nerally, as applicable to subjects of this I undoubtedly am of opinion, that the kind, how much more must I feel it on difficulty is infinitely diminished. - In this particular occasion, considering, as stating, however, generally, my own sen- I must, the peculiar situation of the timents, and those of his majesty's mi-country at this moment?-Let gentlemen nisters, I must protest against the prac. look at the situation of affairs on the contice of being called upon from day to day, tinent ; let them look at the situation of from week to week, from time to time our enemy; what has been their plan and to declare what are precisely our views practice? what has been the case in this on the posture of affairs, or what are the respect since the hon. gentleman reminded steps, which we may think it necessary the House of the matter? What, I would in consequence to adopt. The progress ask, has been the effect of the separation of the measures, which such a situation of of the general confederacy against affairs the present may render neces- France, and the weakening of the power sary, can only be left safely to the con- of that confederacy?--power, that long [VOL. XXXII.)
It is a
ere this, might have achieved much ad- if such be the case, it is important for vantage, had they kept in union. Re them to consider whether the measures collect what has happened upon the ap- which they may wish to persuade gopearance of that separation, and then vernment to adopt, be such as may conjecture what might have been the ef- oblige the country to give up the chance fect, had the confederacy remained en- of a successful peace altogether, or to tire. The destruction of the enemy, per- take it on terms inconsistent with the haps, or at least the diminution of its honour of the nation. If we receive strength to such an extent as to have propositions of peace on the terms of the brought forward an honourable repose honourable gentleman, the considerations and lasting tranquillity to Europe. "Let“ speedy and honourable," then become me ask the House, whether or not every separated. We must, in that case, choose man did not believe it was the policy and the alternative: if we adopt the motion, the aim of France to use all endeavours a peace, “ speedy and honourable" we to separate the confederacy against her ? cannot have. But an honourable peace Let nie ask, whether she did not seem to we may have, if we persevere in the same triumph even in the hope of being able to firm and vigorous line of conduet which effect it? Let me ask, whether any thing we have hitherto pursued. This I know, remained of the hope of France but this not from any immediate communication separation, to enable her to dictate to with the enemy, not from any commuEurope ? Let me ask, whether any thing nication of their disposition for peace, could, therefore, be so desirable to France but from the statement which they have as the detaching of that confederacy themselves furnished of their defective which, for the honour and safety of Eu- and almost exhausted means for carrying rope, was formed against her? And then, on the war. On this ground I oppose let me ask, whether there ever was, or the motion. If I were not sincerely and could be, a cause in which it would be anxiously desirous of peace, I should be more the duty of every good man to pre- forfeiting my duty to the country, and vent any jealousy, or the rising of any violating the trust which I hold from suspicion, or the creating of any disu- my public situation ; but I can never nion, among those who, if they remain consent to the proposition of peace, unentire, may yet give honourable and last- less the terms should be consistent with ing peace to Europe? If the directory our present honour, suitable to our prehave yet any hope of dictating terms to sent condition, and compatible with our Europe, it is, no doubt, on the same po- future security.-Having said this with the licy which they have hitherto found so general view I have of the subject of peace, beneficial, that they ground their expec- if the question be thoughta necessary one, I tations of future success. If there is will say a few words as to the message from any thing by which they can expect to his majesty to parliament about two months attain this situation of proud eminence, ago, because it was said, that no step had this .object of their favourite ambition, been taken since for a negotiation ; I it is by being able to instil jealousy, to hope the House will recollect what I said sow the seeds of division, and engender upon that occasion. I said then, that the sources of animosity among those of the House should not compel, by its vote, confederacy, who yet remain united to the executive government to enter into a oppose their power. On preserving en negotiation, bound down and fettered tire the remains of that confederacy, de- with any acknowledgment of our own pends the only hope of impressing on weakness : precisely the same thing do I them a conviction of the necessity of desire of the House upon the present ocyielding to reasonable terms, and of casion. Those who differ from me in bringing the war to a desirable conclu- general, and who bave thought the war sion. And, perhaps, in this point of altogether unnecessary, I did not then, view, an attention to the preservation of nor do I now, expect to convince; but that confederacy becomes a duty, not the House at large thought as I do. To only for ministers, but for all those per- the House at large, therefore, I will now sons who are anxious for the public wel- say, that the question, as the hon. gen. fare, and interested in the national cha- tleman has himself stated it, is a very racter; for all those who are desirous of narrow one-" Whether, because after an honourable peace, and adverse to any having received the message from his peace purchased with dishonour : and, majesty no communication has taken place
of any subsequent measures, the House, that the hon. gentleman in his speech seby adopting a motion of this sort, ought parated negotiation from the terms. But to compel the executive government, in other passages he talked of negotiation bound hand and foot, to commence a ne- as leading to an immediate peace. I do gotiation?" If the hon. gentleman enter- not hold out a prospect of immediate tained such distrust of the sincerity of mi- peace, nor do I state any period that I nisters, as to suppose them disposed to can ascertain for it; I only say it will not take no measures to carry into effect their be the fault of his majesty's servants if own declarations, I shall certainly not the period is remote. The enemy must be argue with him on that point. But in however ready to make it on terms which order to be consistent, the argument of we have a right to think just and honour. the hon. gentleman must infer, either that able ; it rests not on us only, but also on overtures have been made on the part of the enemy, whether this may lead to any the enemy, or that some favourable op. negotiation at all, or whether negotiation portunity has occurred to this country for will lead to peace. It all depends on this, the purpose of commencing negotiation, whether the disposition of the enemy shall which have been rejected subsequent to be more moderate than any we have lately the period of the message. If a negotia- seen of their professions. Sorry I am to tion should be entered into, it is evident, see such a seeming disposition on the part that in order to give it its full effect, we of the enemy, as may render them, in should be careful not only to keep up the case of success, desirous of preventing strict letter of our engagements with our any effect to pacific dispositions, which allies, but to maintain with them full con- they may now profess, or even of retractcert and harmony. I therefore, take upon ing them. Whether this may lead to a me to assert, that since his majesty's mes moderation in practice which I have not sage has been delivered to this House, seen yet, I know no more of, as I have ministers have taken every measure con- said already, than what any other gentlesistent with the general interests of the man has an opportunity of knowing. country, and with the attention and re- What has been made public I hope is not gard due to her allies, to enable his ma authentic; however, by what has been jesty to take any opportunity, either to circulated in this country, and through the meet overtures for negotiation, or to make continent with industry, and what they such overtures as might be found most ex- are said to hold out as the boon of peace pedient. That no etiquette with respect to the English nation, it does not appear to who should make the first overture- as if they were very desirous of meeting no difficulty in finding a mode of making us on honourable terms; for I have heard it, appeared to government to be an ob- that they are ready to give peace, bestacle to negotiation, if in other respects cause the government of England asks it. there appeared to be a probability of Thus then we are to have peace if we leading to just and honourable terms; the shall sue for it; that is, if we shall abangreat point being what prospect there was don that for which our ancestors have of obtaining such terms. Measures have fought so bravely. been taken to ascertain these points, and Mr. Fox said :-Notwithstanding, Sir, are now in train ; and if the enemy are the mode of arguing which the right hon. sincere, they must speedily lead to a ne- gentleman has adopted this day, in introgotiation. Whether that negotiation will ducing matter somewhat irrelevant to the lead to peace I cannot say, because that question at issue, I intend to confine mydepends upon whether the exhausted state self almost entirely to the subject of my of the enemy will incline them to set on lion. friend's proposition. The House will foot that negotiation with a view to peace, pardon me, however, if I make a few prevery different as to the terms of it from liminary observations upon the manner in any which their public declarations have which the right hon. gentleman comfor a long time past seemed to indicate : menced his speech. Far be it from me if this is not the case, I must say a to discourage any inclination that may be speedy peace is impossible. I wish ar- shown to negotiation, or in any degree to dently for peace-but not for any but an retard the advance to peace; for whether honourable peace. The country has a the season for negotiation be advantaright to expect it from its own strength geous, when compared with those which and resources, and from a knowledge of have occurred at periods which are past, the relative situation of France.--I admit it is certainly adyantageous, when com.
pared with any that may be expected in , Who shall make the first step towards future, however numerous our victories, peace? In all wars, I think, this is a or however unprecedented our success. point of little importance; and in this I cannot, however, refrain from saying a war, I think it of less importance than alword or two upon the past, not with a most in any other. When hostilities view to exaggerate the difficulties of the commenced between the countries, the present, but merely in my own vindica- French held it out as a principle, that tion, for having proposed pacific measures, they were determined to propagate their when they were refused to be adopted government all over Europe. How long Will it be said, that when the Low Coun. they persevered in maintaining this absurd tries are in the hands of the enemy, when principle, it is of little consequence now Holland is become a province of France, to decide. Suffice it to say, that it afand when they are in possession of St. forded a real or ostensible ground of hosLucie and St. Domingo, that we are in a tilities, and that the principle has been situation in which more honourable terms formally renounced in an official declaraof peace may be expected, than when tion, abjuring all interference in the inthey were driven out of the Dutch pro
ternal government of any country. This vinces ; when they were routed in every is an example which we ought to follow; battle in Flanders; when they were com- and when the French have announced pelled to retreat within the limits of their themselves at amity with the English con, own territory; when Valenciennes was stitution, the English government ought taken ; when a considerable impression to abandon every idea of intermeddling in was made upon them by the Emperor in the affairs of France, or of altering any the north, and by Spain upon the south ; | form of government which they may in short, when they did not hold an inch think proper to adopt. Perhaps I may of ground without the boundaries of Old be told, that even if terms of peace be France? Then we were told, that it would proposed by this country, they may be be humiliating for the country to offer rejected by the French, and that this terms of peace, and that we should wait rejection may render it necessary for till the misfortunes of our foes should lay us
to interfere in the settlement of them prostrate at our feet.—When I pro- their form of government. But if we posed a pacification in the beginning of do not formally publish the declaration, the year 1794, I was told, that the late we may at least announce our readiness campaign had exhibited a series of to make it. And even then we do not triumphs more brilliant than any which go so far as they have done. There was the annals of the country could boast. a word in the minister's speech, which, Last year a negotiation was moved for, notwithstanding all its pacific complexbefore Holland was totally lost, the reco- ion, I was sorry to hear, and which to very of which was assigned as a principal me appeared to indicate, that it is his cause of the war; and then it was said, opinion, that the present government of that any proposal on our part would be France has not arrived at that crisis which degrading to the honour of the country. was particularly described in his majesty's I hope, however, that he who thinks it speech. It was this, that the French gopossible to propose an honourable nego vernment were perhaps disposed to grant tiation now, will no longer accuse us or to this country, as a compensation for all having entertained a wish to humiliate the the losses which it has sustained from country, by advising the government to the war-the honour of its fraternizaoffer terms of peace, under circumstances tion. But, does the French government in which it was infinitely more advanta- persevere in that system now? I hope geously situated. My argument, at pre- and trust it does not. And if it does not, sent, does not turn upon the propriety of why rake up the recollection of former proposals for peace coming from one wrongs, and renew the causes of discord country more than from another, but upon which no longer exist? The subject, howthe seasonableness of the time. I per- ever, chiefly depends upon a question of fectly agree with the right hon. gentleman, time. On the 8th of December, a mesthat the present is the most proper season sage was sent down from his majesty, which may well occur, and in the faith stating, that the affairs of France had that he is inclined to improve it, I have arrived at such a crisis, as to render negothe less disposition to press the errors of tiation possible. On the 29th of Octothe past. But here a question occurs- ber in his majesty's speech, there was a