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On the question being put, lord Grenville observed, that it was quite needless to reply in detail to the very extraordinary string of propositions just now read. He moved, that the address of the ;iOth of December last might be read, which contained every argument against that part of the motion suggested by his lordship: and it would be seen, that so far from the negotiation for peace being terminated by this conntry, it had been insolently and abruptly broken offby the government of France. The address above-mentioned was accordingly read by the clerk ; on which the duke of Norfolk said, that he wished this address might go to the throne, for without the adoption of such a motion, there was little probability cf obtaining peace: be feared the terms of any such treaty would be of a more disadvantageous nature than what might be expected if committed to other hands; considering the manner in which the present ministers had carried on the war, as well as entered into negotiations for peace.
The secretary of state had grounded his opposition to the motion on its inconsistency with the address of December last; but was there any thing to prevent a grave assembly from re-considering its former resolutions, and more especially as new motives had since occurred which respected the commercial credit of the country, and affected its ability to carry on the war. He condemned the conduct of administration in shackling lord Malmesbury, when be was sent to treat, especially considering that France was pre-deterrnined at all events not to part with Belgium. He charged them with indulging a spirit of intrigue, when the welfare not only of this but other nations of Europe was concerned, and thought that it should
be understood on what principles this country was disposed to make peace. Administration was much to blame in risking the events of war, by refusing to treat for peace after the taking of Valenciennes; since which time those events had turned in favour of the enemy. France had as good a right to retain Belgium, as this country Canada in 1/63, or the Cape of Good Hope in any treaty which might now be entered upon.
The earl of Morton deemed it incumbent on himself to resist the motion: it was inconsistent with the dignity of the proceedings of the house for their lordships to agree to the proposed address, after having so recently adopted the resolution just read by the clerk.
The duke of Norfolk replied, that peace was necessary for the existence of the country; but there waf no ground of expecting a good one from the present ministers.
The earl of Morton pressed the house to recollect, that the French had not only broken oft* the negotiation for peace, but originally commenced the war": we were not the aggressors.
The marquis of Lansdowne lamented to see a motion of such jm-" portance passed over in the shuffling way in which the ministers seemed inclined to treat it. What a reference (he said) to the 30th of December! as if that were an answer. 1 hat address bad been hurried through the house with indecent haste, to say no more of it. Time had not been given to noble lords at any distance to come and attend it: he, for one, was so prevented; surely he ought not to be implicated by that address, obtained in such a manner. After the measures of dis-1 tress to which we had lately been obliged to recur, we ought not to
adhere to the determination of December 30, or of any former period. What was our actual situation? Every moment increased our difficulties, and every moment of delay would still increase them. It was idle, after the shock given to public credit, to talk of half-measures; nothing short of making bank-notes a legal tender, with all the calamities incident to this step, could be effectual: the minister must know this, and only waited perhaps to have the call from the public ; if so, he was ready for one to make the call, and share in the responsibility of the measure; that alone could give us time to look about us. To retrench from the smallest fee up to the highest emolument; to cut the skirts of every office, and to save in every department; how was this to be done but by peace? He professed himself to have no ambition to be the maker of that peace; ministers had reduced the country to a state which made the office unenviable to any man; at the same time he did not despair of his country: but the longer the system of war was pursued, the difficulties in the way of peace would be increased; it was by retrieving the balance of trade, by reviving commerce, by restoring public confidence, and, above, all, by peace, that the dangers which threatened us were to be averted. He wished the present ministers might accomplish this point: but if they avowed that they knew not how, it would become them to surrender the task to those who did. He referred to the correspondence of lord Malmesbury, and observed, it was impossible to form a right judgment of the steps taken in that negotiation, when only a part of that correspondence was laid before the house, and the instructions and intentions of ministers
were kept back: without this knowledge, it was impossible to say which was the unreasonable party; but if it could be proved by the documents to be the enemy, it would unite the hearts and hands of the people in this country.
Lord Borringdon declared, he had no doubts of the sincerity of the ministers in the late negotiation; the charge of the want of it fell upon the directory. He did not at all a|>prove of the motion, which tended to depress the spirit of the people^ nor of the words of it, which resembled that of the minutes of the executive directory, more than the language of the British house of peers.
The earl of Guilford said, his majesty's ministers still pertinaciously adhered to the opinion held on the 30th of December; and the public were to understand, that they had resolved not to enter upon any negotiation which should not make Belgium a sine qua non, and they had called upon the house to support them in that determination. He, who during the whole course of the war hadquestioned their sincerity in negotiating, must own that they were consistent in acting upon the address of December; since they had by that method secured themselves from the means of attaining peace, and called upon the house to declare that they would not negotiate for any which they were likely to obtain.
Earl Spencer resented the idea that ministers were not sincere in their wishes for peace. A reference to the papers would show, that the proposals were not given as an ultimatum: thay gave none whatever, though called upon in a most Unprecedented manner by the French government. He thought the adoption of the motion would retard instead stead of accelerating peace; it would prove to France, and to Europe, that we were willing to make it upon any terms.
Tbe earl of Guilford replied, that lord Malmesbury, though he desired M. Delacroix to suggest a unlreprnjet, had expressly made the surrender of Belgium a sine qua rum. Now if he understood diplomatic language, a tine qua non was an ultimatum.
The earl of Oxford frose, and said, that the only intelligible argument which had been employed against his motion' was, that it exposed the distresses of the country to the enemy. He demanded whether his motion was likely to do this in any comparison with the order of the council, which the ministers had recently issued, and the sentence thereby issued against our credit and nation? My lords (said he), I must not be told that this address is improper to be carried to the throne, when there is not a sentiment in it that I have not taken from the, very words of his majesty: and the best reply I can make, will be to read a few passages from his most gracious and admired speech, at the close of tbe American war.
"My lords and gentlemen, "Since the close of the last session, I have employed my whole time in the care which the critical conjuncture of public affairs required. I lost no time in prohibiting the farther prosecution of offensive war upon the continent of North America; adopting, as my inclination will always lead me to do, whatever I collect to be the sense of my parliment and people: I have pointed all my views, as well in Europe as in America, to an entire and cordial jeconciliation with these colonies.
"Finding it indispensable to the attainment of this object, I have offered to declare them free and independent states, by an article in the treaty of peace.
"In thus admitting their separation from the crown of these kingdoms, I have sacrificed every consideration of my own to the wishes and opinions of my people."
Here my lords (continued his lordship) you see his majesty giving up America, and sacrificing every consideration of his own to the interests of his people ; and am 1 to be told that Belgium is of more importance than America!—To the house of commons his majesty says,—
"I have endeavoured to diminish the burdens of my people by every measure in my power: i have introduced a better economy into tbe expenditure of the army: I have carried into execution the reductions in my civil list expenses, directed by an act in the last sessions. I have suppressed several sinecure places in other departments, and so regulated my establishments, that my expenses shall not exceed my income. . '* I must recommend to you an immediate attention to the great objects of public receipts and expenditure, and, above all, the public debt. "It is to be hoped that such regulations may be established, such savings made, and future loans conducted as to promote its gradual redemption, by a fixed mode of payment. I must distinguish that part of the debt which consists of navy, ordnance; and victualling bills; the enormous discount upon them, shews this mode of payment to be a most ruinous expenditure.
"I have ordered the several estimates to be laid before you; it it my desire that you should be apprised of every expense before it is incurred., as far as the nature of the
service service will possibly admit. Matters of account can never be made too public. The regulations of a vast territory in Asia opens a large field for your wisdom, prudence, and foresight."
The earl of Oxford then proceeded to declare, he trembled for the fate of India: it would ere long be lost to England. And where was the wisdom of ministers respecting that country? From our blind confidence in them, alas ! we should live to see that vast and glorious empire fall into pieces in their hands!
The duke of Bedford said, before they proceeded to the question, he must advert to two or three things that had been thrown out. The noble marquis was correctly informed respecting tbe indecent haste with which the address of the house, on the 30th of December, had been obtained. He himself had found reason at the time to complain of the manner in which it was hurried through, and in which the house had been surprised into that address; but under whateve? circumstances it bad been carried, and however adopted, it was certainly no argu« ment against re-consideration.
The duke went into the examination of the correspondence as laid upon the table, and contended, that when they called for a contre-projet, they expressly had declared that the surrender of Belgium was a sine qua non. But what demonstrated the insincerity of ministers was, their not investing their ambassador with intelligible powers; he was incessantly dispatching couriers for instructions; when called upon to present his terms, he had none to offer, and at length made a sine qua non of a matter which they had previously declared they would not concede as a principle. They proved their insincerity by not adopting an attain
able ground, and assuming practicable principles; they now declared, that they adhered to the same terms. He believed in his conscience, that they could not negotiate a peace upon so good terms as the nation had a right to expect, and as other persons of more truth and of more capacity were likely to obtain.
The earl of Carlisle lamented the degeneracy of the times, which were now so changed, as to make an address of gratitude and loyalty a matter of charge and suspicion. When he was young, no time was lost in approaching the throne with thanks. He professed upon his honour to believe that ministers were sincere in their wishes for peace, nor could he conceive a reason for them to be otherwise.
The duke of Bedford reminded the noble earl, that this memorable address was voted at a season of the year when the noble lords were in the country, and there were not" more peers present than the number of creations during the present administration. With respect to the sincerity of ministers, if he was not convinced from the tenor of the late negotiation, he despaired of convincing him.
The marquis of Lansdowne reminded his lordship, that he had himself been sent on an embassy of peace to America, and doubts were entertained, to this, day, of the sincerity of the mission.
Lord Grenville did not know in what diplomatic dictionary noble lords had found that a sine qua non was synonymous to an ultimatum. He had never found them so in all his researches. The noble duke had asserted, that the ministers could not make so good a peace as others; and his, speeches for the last four years went to insinuate the incapacity of ministers for their situations, and their insincerity. The house, however, thought otherwise; and not only the house, but the kingdom, could never be brought to think that the proper persons to make peace ♦ere persons agreeable to the enemy.
The duke of Bedford said, no man who knew him would imagine he had any personal views to himself; the. present was not a moment when any wise man would covet office.
The marquis of Lansdowne remarked, that the men proper to make peace were not the men whom 'he enemy might like, but the men whom they could trust: it was not favour which an enemy demanded, but candour; and in this the ministers of England were notoriously deficient.
The question was then put, and the house divided. Contents 10', non contents 52.
On Thursday the 30th of March, the house being assembled, the earl of Oxford rose, and complained, that the day after he had made his motion for the address to his majesty in favour of peace, he had gone to the office to enter his protest against the resolution of the house on that motion: that he was there informed that his address had not been entered on the Journals, lord Kenyon having taken it away with him. This he conceived to be a breach of privilege; and would hope, as such, their lordships would notice it. He therefore moved, "that the lord chancellor, in taking away the motion of any lord, so that the same cannot be entered on the journabof the house, is a high breach of privilege; and that lord Kenyon, acting as pro-chancellor, having taken way the motion of the earl of Oxlord, made on the 23d of March, J/97, has been guilty of a high breach of privilege, and that he be censured for the same."
The Bishop of Rochester moved, that the standing order of Nov. 1777 should be read, which was done; the purport of which was, "that any lord of that house, publishing the proceedings of the same without leava of their lordships, would be guilty of a high breach of privilege."
The reverend prelate said, that instead of the motion made by the earl of Oxford, he expected one of a totally different nature ; he expected him to .have moved, that a high breach of privilege had been committed by the printer and publisher of a certain news-paper, containing , a miserable publication gone abroad, containing a protest against the resolution of that house, for an address in favour of peace: that he had a paper in his hand, called the Oracle and Public Advertiser, which not only contained such protest, but the editor's comments on that proceeding: the reverend prelate considered it to be one of the most audacious and impudent insertions that ever was made, and as such deserved the attention of the noble earl whose name had been attached to so infamous * publication. He then adverted to some, parts of the protest, and particularly the following:
"Sixthly, Because, whenever a nation is in the situation we are at present, it requires the united energy and public spirit of the whole nation to re-establish its credit; and energy and public spirit are only to be obtained by the public possessing their ancient free constitution; and according to the true spirit of it, which is founded in wisdom, liberty, and justice, the people of Great Britain have a right and ought to be fairly and equally represented in that which by its very name is their house of parliament."
The news-paper editor, who had
conveyed this insolent doctrine to the