« ZurückWeiter »
servations. It was generally understood the orders for the retention were sent out on the roth of O&tober, with refe. rence to the prospect of a war with France, on account of ber unjustifiable interference with Switzerland. He would not now decide how far this was politic or wise. But this, however, he would say, that, if ihe interference of France with Switzerland was a just ground of war, the same inter. ference with respect to Holland was a fill more powerful realon for hoftilities. If the occupation of Switzerland by French troops was a fair ground of remonftrance, it surely was not less so wiih regard to Holland. Now how did the case stand here? Ministers on the 16th of October dispatched orders to retain the Cape of Good Hope, under an apprehension of the renewal of war, on account of the unjust a'. tempts of the French Government to impose a form of
go. verninent on the Swiss people. On the 54th of November they receive a dilpatch from the British Minister at the Hague, which gives them no room to entertain any hope of the French troops being speedily withdrawn from Holland. Now what steps do they take on receiving this intelligence ? Do they discover new jealousy, and adopt new measures of precaution? On the contrary, they send out orders for the evacuation of the Cape! He desired Gentlemen to contralt this with the order of the same day on the preceding month, and then judge of the talents or the contistency of Ministers. The right hon. Gentleman, after recapitulating and enforcing all his arguments, sat down by giving his cordial vote for de claring his Majesty's present Ministers unworthy of the confidence of Parliament, and unfit to manage the affairs of the empire at fo perilous a crisis.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer next rose. I thould not. Sir, faid he, rise in the prefent discuffion, were it not that several of the charges and observations that have been so forcibly infifted upon by the right hon. Gentleman who spoke laft, seemed personally to be directed against me, and that I am but too sentible of the weight they must carry with them when they come under the fanction and authority of his name. Much, Sir, has on the present and on former occasions been remarked upon the Treaty of Amiens. I lhall now only repeat what I always have feli and said respecting it, viz. that conscientiously and deliberately I entertain the same opinion of it as I did at the time it was immediately under discussion, and that opinion prompts me to pronounce, that it was a measure not only wile, prudent,
and and necessary at the time it was adopted, but that it has fince been productive of the most beneficial consequences ; nor will I hesitate to affirm, that I should not have now to tongratulate you, Sir, the House, and the country, on the fpirit, the vigour, and the unanimity, which the present emergency has called forth, were it not for that very treaty which is so loudly arraigned and so severely ftigmatized. Of the wisdom and beneficial consequences of that treaty, not only do I continue to retain a hardened sense, but I am ready, Sir, now to go further, and to affirm that it was also wife and defirable tu endeavour to maintain it; and until the causes have occurred which produced the present rup. ture, causes which have been stated with all poslible truth and accuracy, it was the firft wish of my heart, Sir, and I think I may venture to say that it was likewise the first wish of the hearts of my colleagues in office, that the peace might have been maintained, if it could be maintained conSittently with the honour, thic dignity, and the interelts of the country: But since our anxious wishes in that respect have been frustrated, and war has necessarily arilen, I truft, Sir, I am prepared to meet the crisis with the feelings of an Englishman; and, anxious as I was to sheath the sword, I Thall now be found no less determined to unsheath it, until it appears that the honour of the country remains untouched, and that its safety and independence are more effectually secured.
Let me now, Sir, be permitted to advert to what has been rather harshly observed, respecting the teinper which his Majesty's Ministers are said to have borne with the con. duct of the French Government. Their desire of peace had, no doubt, induced them to manifest no inconfiderable Share of patience and forbearance; but they felt that the situation of France itself, and the circumstances in which was placed the person who held the chief rule in that coun. try, called for fome allowances. There circumstances might teem, perhaps, for a time to justify the condu&t of that perfon. His mind was fu pampered with victories; it was to dazzled with the additional iplendor that was shed upon his name, that ii imight not be fair to expect he would inmediately sit down quiet, and Toberly examine what might best belong to his new situation. Under that inpression it was judged wise to observe a certain degree of forbearance with respect to what should otherwise be noticed in the French Government at other timics and under other circum. stances. "A desire to inake these allowances produced the
forbearanne wh ch had marked the conduct of Ministers; a conduct, Sir, to which i feel is now owing the spirit and the energy which the country feems prepaied to display. That forbearance which fome Gentlemen are so prone to centure, Ministers, I think, Sir, have reason to boal of. It has produced no bad consequences, if we are to go to war; it has neither delayed too long, nor has it brought it on one hour too soon. If it had been brought on sooner, we Thould not be actuated by that spirit and courage which, under the guidance of Providence, will, I truit, enable us to get through a contest with honour and success I will again repeat it. Tam free to confess, the conduct of his Majesty's Ministers has argued throughout, an uniform fpirit of forbearance, which might appear, perhaps, to have been carried to an extreme; but I am at the same time warranted in afferting, that in no instance has it exhibited a fingle proof of unmanly and unbeconing concession; and in no instance las it been marked by any one act of that defcription. Let me next, Sir, briefly advert to the language which I am faid to have beld upon different occasions. I have been charged, Sir, by the right hon. Gentleman of holding out expectations of the continuance of peace, which expectations have since been proved not to be justified by circumstances of the moment. His Majesty's Ministers have also been charged with withholding from Parliament those communications which Parliament had a right to expect, and which it was their duty to have made. As far, Sir, as my recollection will bear me back, I am ready to restate the expressions to which the right hon. Gentleman seems to allude. My noble Friend (Lord Hawkesbury) also expressed him'elf in the same language. We stated that we bad no reliance at any time on the continuance of peace, but such as arose from a view of the fituation of the enemy, and the consciousness of our own strength. France might have discovered the fame restless fpirit of ambition that has ever marked her chaiacier. Yet, on the occafion to which the right hon Gentleman seems to refer, I did say, that the peace might last as long as any other; and I then also added, that the only chance of its continuance arose from the eneigy of our strengih, and the impregnable security of our resources. I was of the same opinion when the preliminaries were discuffed. The famc language have I held in the debates of Jaft feition. But the right hon. Gentleman observes, that the conduct of the French Gorernment should have inspired different apprehensions. I am sure, Sir, I am not very much
disposed disposed to flatter and compliment the person who is now at the head of the French Government, but fill I muft fay, that I could see nothing in his conduct which led me to believe that it was his policy to rene w botijliciesIn this, Sic, I an will og to allow that I may bave been deceived; but bis lending at the time the remaining navy of France to St. Domingo, bis exponing lo large a portion buth of his naval and military force, were lurely preily reatonable indications of a pacific fynem; nor can it well be accounted for, but on a principle of peace. It has allo bien asserted, that in the discussion on his Majesty's speech, on the 2 d of November, an asurance was expietied by me, that there was no probability of a rupture What I then said, Sir, was in answer to an hon. Gentleman, who obleived that lie was concerned tu tee that it was likely hoftilities would be renewed. All I asserted on the occasion was, that I saw no probability of an immediate rup'une at that time. Similar language is füid allo to have been used by me when the question respecting the income of his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales was under difenfion. I am fupposed then to liave ohfered that we were in profound peace. That ! mentioned ou beinig at peace, I readily agree, Sir, but I do not think that I made ule of the word profound. The cire cumstance which lcd me to make ute of the expression was an allufion to the language that was used in 1796, when the fame lulijcat was under the confideration of Parliament. It was then obterved that it was right to continue the restrictions on the expenditure of his Royal Higliness, on account of the extienie difficulties of the times. But I observed, on the occation alluded to, that the reftri&tions that might be proper in tine of war, might as properly be done away in time of peace, and if I added the word profound, it was probably only from the usual combination of the two words. No other expression of the natuie hinted at has escaped my lips. Another conversation has also been referred to, which took place in a difcuffion on the Confulidated Furd. In that conversation 1 ani again lupposed to have said, that ! had no expectation that the war would be renewed What I said then, Sir, merely referred to the state of our national and military strength, which I asserted was not intended to answer any views of ambition and aggrandizement, but had only in cimemplation the assertion of our juft rights and the maintenance of the blessings of peace. But I am cager, Sir, now (u' releale the House from any further reference to any language used by me. I wish theni to reft their opinion
on better authority ; let the House, therefore, consult the tecords of Parliament, and they will there find what were the real sentiments of his Majesty's Minitters. Let them consult the speech of his Majesty at the beginning of the feflion, the address, and even the amendment to the address, which were imoved on that occasion. Do they imply any thing like the opinion which I am asserted to have uticred? On the contrary, did not the sentiments there exprefled create great anxiety in the minds of fume Gentlemen? Is it to be fuppofed that I should have expressed a perfect conviétion that no renewal of boftilities would take place, at a time when I was agreeing to a large naval and military establishment? Why then should those who propoted such precautions; be imagined to be wholly without any apprelienfion of war? This surely would argue a frange and unaccountable inconfiftency between their opinions and their measures. The preparations then advised and pursued, are therefore the best proof of what were the real tentiments of Ministers-and if that proof were not fufficient, an additional one might be found, Sir, in the obfervations which I made at the time it was proposed to setew the restri&tion on the cash payments of the bank, viz. that the state of Europe was the best argument that could be urged in favour of its adoption. Ministers were also accused of not making formal communications 10 Parliament of the matters that gave rise to the discuffions. Such communications might be attended with the worst effects, and therefore it was prudent to withhold thein until the time came for making them with safety. As to the application froin Swiizerland, it is true, Sir, that it took place before the meeting of Parliament, but it was then earnefly wished that no resistance hould be made on their part. Not was there then any combination that could give any effect io a ternonstrance in their behalf. When that combination Efterwards took place, it was too late to make any successful remuntrance. li is not now my intention to enter into the discussion of all the poin's that have been referred to in his Majesty's declaration, and which have been considered as just causes of war. With regard to Holland, the right hon. Genileinan complained that itrong and vigorous remonfrances had not been made for the removal of the French troups from that country. The contrary would appear from the instructions given in Lord Whitworih. Hopes were giv n by Mr. Liston, on the 5th November, that the French