« ZurückWeiter »
applied to by deputies from Switzerland, for the allistance of this country, when the First Consul menaced Switzerland, and threatened that he would pour in a considerable number of French troops, in order to give it a free conftitusion. In consequence of the application, Ministers caused a remonftrance on the subject to be presented to the French Government, and at the fame time sent Mr. Moore into Switzerland to see in what situation affairs were there ; and to offer the Swiss pecuniary assistance, provided he should find them able and willing to fight for their liberty, and defend their conftitution. On his arrival, Mr. Moore found that the Diet, thinking themselves unable to relift the overwhelming power of France, had determined to yield, and she French tronps were actually in possession of Switzerland. To our remonstrance the First Consul gave no answer at all. Besides this act of aggression and violence, the First Consul had, in breach of the Treaty of Amiens, sent more French forces into the Batavian Provinces, which, by the treaty, he had engaged to evacuate, and withdraw the French tronps altogether. Alarmed at this extraordinary couduct, his Majesty's Ministers thought it their duty to send out orders, not merely to the Cape of Good Hope, but to the West Indies, to their officers enirusted with the care of the different islands; and which, (by the Treaty of Amiens, were to be ceded to the French and the Durch), to retain them respedively. Unfortunately those orders arrived in the West Indies, and a: Demerara, Surinam, &c. too late to answer the desired purpose, those islands having been already ceded. The holding the Cape of Good Hope then became a very different consideration from what it would have been, if they should have had the good forlune to have been able to deiain' the whole of the ceffions which had been ftipulated for under the express agreement that Batavia should be evacuated, and the French troops marched out of it. Upon consultation, therefore, it was deemed proper to comply with the Treaty of Amiens respecting it, and hence it was that Ministers thought it their duty to send out the order of the 17th of November.' 1802, to cede it to the Durch. With regard to the value set upon the Cape of Good Hope by a noble Viscount not then present, and by the nuble Lords opposite in him, hiç would again repeat what he said the other night, that he did not hold it in equal estimation. If he was asked, whether he though it of no value? Certainly he hould not go the. length of answering in the affirmative. It had its value un.
doubtedly, doubtedly, but not to the extent that other noble Lords attached 10 it. In the first place, it was not necessary that ships coming from or failing to India should touch ai'it, and he had been informed from those belt acquainted upon the subject, that no French cruizers could derive any advantage from it. The usual and the best practice of our Indiamen was to keep at least the distance of thiry leagues from the Cape in their voyages to and from India. In the next place, it was to be considered that Cape Town could hardly be dec med a port; during the favourable season of fix months in the year, thips might lay in Table Bay; but during the severe and tempestuous season, thips could only lay in False Bay, from whence, on account of the boisterous fea, the worst of any part of the ocean, a French man of war or cruizer could put to sea. But another consideration was the immense charge the Cape put us to, while it was in our own hands. It cost this country no less than one million and a half, whereas it would not cost us above fuur hundred thou. fand pounds to send out convoys with the several fleets of Indiamen which sailed from our ports at home to India, and from India home again. His Lord'hip said, before he fat down, he must take that opportunity of answering a charge, which he understood had been urged against himself, in anoiher place. It had been said, that he refused to see the de. puries from Switzerland at his office, and had alligned as a reason for so doing, “ left his doing so should give umbrage to the First Consul, and the French Republic.” He did affure the House, that the report was wholly without foundajon; the fact was, that he did receive the Swiss deputies twice; once at his office, and once at his own house; and he hoped the House knew him better than to believe, that for a single moment he have could either degraded himfelf, or disgraced the honour of the country so much, as to have assigned the dread of giving umbrage to the First Consul, or the French Republic, as a ground of any one part of his conduct as a Britilh Minifter.
The Earl of Suff it said, he considered our East India pola fellions the sheet anchor of this country, and consequently that Malia was a military position which it was of the highest importance to retain in our poffeffion.
Lord Grenville Italed, ihat the object of the resolutions was to infer, that it was the duly of his Majesty's Ministers to have remonstrated with the French Government for the aggressions they had cominiited ; and he contendeil, that in not
having done so, their conduct had been highly criminal. He argued against that fyltem of acquiescence in insult, which characterized the present Government. His Lordfhip was of opinion the refolution should have been taken separately. He recapitulated the charges which they contained, observing chat it was the duty of his
Majesty's Ministers to have followed up, by Itrong remonftrances and representations, the acts of violence of ihe French Republic. The second charge in the resolutions was parily a proof of the former one, aliended with an atfertion, that if the aggressions of France had been followed up with becoming spirit, it would have been produ&ive of a proper answer; or, at least, if that answer had been contempluontly refused; the filence of the French Government might have been construed into a declaration of war. It certainly would have been so construed by any government than such a one as at present directed the affairs of this country. The noblc Lord then proceeded to enumerale the aggressions this country had endured on the part of France. They consisted, he said, in prohibitions, to the prejudice of our commerce, between the figning of the Preliminaries and the Definitive Treaty of Peace. He could not discover that any remonítrances had been made on the subject of them, no notice had been taken of them in the Definitive Treaty. His Lordship also referred to the unjuft seizures on the past of France, insisting that they had never been made the subject of the flightest remonftrance. He next adverted to the arrest of Captain D'Auvergne in the streets of Paris ; a more gross affront was, he said, never offered 10 any government, than that was; yet this flagrant detention of an officer wearing the King's uniform had never been relented, tven by the flighrelt remonstrance. He expresled his entire disapprobation of the conduct adopted by Ministers during the negotiations; and intimated his intention to enter into an enquiry respecting the representations which he conceived they had been backward in affording. He spoke of the man. Der in which they had established the different articles, at the Treaty of Amiens, as unsound, and was strongly inclined to believe, that at the period on which the Treaty was signed, Ministers were persuaded that the subject of Malta would become a subject of future contention. It was a malier of much. wonder, thal, not withstanding the various poinis which existed at the making of the peace for further negotiation, as secessary to their final settlement, that though they had been generally conlidered as difficult, and even unlikely to be estab.
blished during the discussions, that from the month of April, 1802, until February, 1803, no communications thould be made with respect to Switzerland. In May, 1802, deputies were sent from that couniry to England, and his Majesty's servants were in poffeffion of all the facts relative to those people, yet no reprefentation touk place; they were acquainted with she affairs of Holland, and several months previous to his Majesty's Meffage, all the information which has since been laid before the Parliament was known. With regard to Malia, it had bein foreseen by Ministers that thai Itland could not be under the keeping of either power without becoming a subject of the most animated inquiries; and, in the discullions to that end, Ministers had been trifling. New propositions were continually made, and instructions transmitted to Lord Whitworth to require satisfaction. The French Minister would demand, what satisfaction do you want? but Lord Whitworth was unable to tell. It was then staleil, that to take poffeffion of Lampedosa, and to suffer the Republic to occupy Malia for any time, would be to give it to them for ever.
As to the guarantee appointed for That illand, the noble lord did not conceive Ruffia to be a' fit power; and he had to late, that the paper which had been laid before the House 10 that purpose, was unaccompanied by a note, which the Republic of France had published; it had been fuppreffed by Ministers, and related to a declaration made by the Rulhan Amhassador, that many measures, which had been taken refpecting the idland of Malta, were in opposition to his instructions.
The noble Lord called the confideration of the House to the object for which the war was undertaken. Was this great and illufurious nation, be observed, to involve illelf in in war on the dispute respe&ting the paltry iland of Lampedosa. If war had been underlaken to vindicate the honour and dignity of our gracious and esteemed Sovereign, that would have been a cause of fufficient magnitude; if war bad taken place to efpoule the part of Holland, or the people of Switzerland, we should then have been justified; but their Lordships would see that fomething more than Malta, Lampedusa, and the different caules at prefent urged by Ministers, was necessary to prove the grounds of the content which was likely to ensue. If the Cape was spoken of, it would be obvious that Ministers had violated the Treaty of Amiens by not baving given it up at the appointed liine. On the 17th of August the troops were to have left that
place, place. On the 16th of November we find the Dutch troops there, and the English in possession, and if a battle had taken place in confequence, many lives would have been loft, and Minifiers would have added one more charge to the many brought againft them. The noble Lord could not avoid conceiving that Minifters were in full poffeffion of most of the documents which had been advanced, before Colonel Sebaftiani's report was made, and that their conduct was highly reprehensible in having failed to make communication at an earlier period than they had done. He cona cluded with remarking, that the importance of the contest we were now engaged in, had been kept back from public observation by Ministers, whose measures fince the Treaty of Amiens, had led to hoftilities in consequence of making an inlecure peace.
The Lord Chancellor claimed the attention of the House, while he expressed his aftonishment at the expressions made use of by a noble Lord, who had advanced opinions respecto ing the conduct of Ministers, which he certainly could not wish to see realizedThe Treaty of Amiens and the peace made by Ministers had fallen under shis cenfure. It was, however, well known, that at the end of the last war, a war which the noble Lord confidered as a juft and necessary war, the people in general were averse to it, from not knowing the principles upon which it was maintained, and the necessity there was for supporting it. When such was the wish for peace among all ranks of society, his Majesty's Ministers made peace, and during the difficulties they had to struggle with, they afforded fatisfa&tion to the people and relief to the country. The object at such a time as the present was not to investigate the conduct of Ministers, or to say they did right or wrong upon former occasions, but to unanimously join in defence of the common good. The noble Lord 'disclaimed the principle of impeaching Ministers upon charges that had no foundation, and observed that the British Legislature would not suffer the fod constantly to be hanging over the heads of persons whose actions appeared to he produced by the purest motives.
After going through the three propofitions, or counts of the impeachment, (as his Lordship termed them), and answering the charges imputed to his Majesty's Ministers very greatly at length, especially the various allegations stated in the firit count, his Lord'hip went into a course of general reafoning on the whole view of the conduct of his Majesty's Minifters, Vol. IV. 1892-3