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them were right. Time has shown that the evils predicted by Burke as the result of the Revolution were scarcely an exaggeration of what actually followed; but it has also shown that Fox was right in continually maintaining that nations, however wrong may be their principles and methods, should be left to conduct their internal affairs in their own way. It was this position of Fox that led him to oppose the general attitude of England in regard to the course of Napoleon. In the House of Commons he was always listened to with pleasure ; but his habits were such as to prevent his gaining that confidence of the public which otherwise he might easily have enjoyed.
CHARLES JAMES FOX.
ON THE REJECTION OF NAPOLEON BONAPARTE's OVERTURES OF PEACE; HOUSE OF COMMONS,
FEBRUARY 3, 1800.
The following speech was delivered immediately after that of Pitt on the same subject, given above, and in answer to it. MR. SPEAKER:
At so late an hour of the night, I am sure you will do me the justice to believe that I do not mean to go at length into the discussion of this great question. Exhausted as the attention of the House must be, and unaccustomed as I have been of late to attend in my place, nothing but a deep sense of my duty could have induced me to trouble you at all, and particularly to request your indulgence at such an hour.
Sir, my honorable and learned friend [Mr. Erskine] has truly said, that the present is a new era in the war, and the right honorable gentleman opposite to me [Mr. Pitt] feels the justice of the remark; for, by travelling back to
the commencement of the war, and referring again to all the topics and arguments which he has so often and so successfully urged upon the House, and by which he has drawn them on to the support of his measures, he is forced to acknowledge that, at the end of a seven years' conflict, we are come but to a new era in the war, at which he thinks it necessary only to press all his former arguments to induce us to persevere. All the topics which have so often misled us—all the reasoning which has so invariably failed—all the lofty predictions which have so constantly been falsified by events—all the hopes which have amused the sanguine, and all the assurances of the distress and weakness of the enemy which have satisfied the unthinking, are again enumerated and advanced as arguments for our continuing the war. What ! at the end of seven years of the most burdensome and the most calamitous struggle in which this country ever was engaged, are we again to be amused with notions of finance, and calculations of the exhausted resources of the enemy, as a ground of confidence and of hope? Gracious God! were we not told five years ago that France was not only on the brink and in the jaws of ruin, but that she was actually sunk into the gulf of bankruptcy? Were we not told, as an unanswerable argument against treating, “ that she could not hold out another campaign-that nothing but peace could save her—that she wanted only time to recruit her exhausted finances—that to grant her repose was to grant her the means of again molesting this country, and that we had nothing to do but persevere for a short time, in order to save ourselves forever from the consequences of her ambition and her Jacobinism ?” What! after having gone on from year to year upon assurances like these, and after having seen the repeated refutations of every prediction, are we again to be gravely and seriously assured, that we have the same prospect of success on the same identical grounds ? And, without any other argument or security, are we invited, at this new era of the war, to conduct it upon principles which, if adopted and acted upon, may make it eternal ? If the right honorable gentleman shall succeed in prevailing on Parliament and the country to adopt the principles which he has advanced this night, I see no possible termination to the contest. No man can see an end to it; and upon the assurances and predictions which have so uniformly failed, we are called upon not merely to refuse all negotiations, but to countenance principles and views as distant from wisdom and justice, as they are in their nature wild and impracticable.
I must lament, sir, in common with every genuine friend of peace, the harsh and unconciliating language which ministers have held to the French, and which they have even made use of in their answer to a respectful offer of a negotiation. Such language has ever been considered as extremely unwise, and has ever been reprobated by diplomatic men. I remember with pleasure the terms in which Lord Malmesbury, at Paris, in the year 1796, replied to expressions of this sort, used by M. de la Croix. He justly said, “ that offensive and injurious insinuations were only calculated to throw new obstacles in the way of accommodation, and that it was not by revolting reproaches nor by reciprocal invective that a sincere wish to accomplish the great work of pacification could be evinced.” Nothing could be more proper nor more wise than this language; and such ought ever to be the tone and conduct of men intrusted with the very important task of treating with a hostile nation. Being a sincere friend to peace, I must say with Lord Malmesbury,