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MOTION FOR PEACE.
I rise in pursuance of a notice I gave some time past to make a motion and submit it to the opinion of the House at this important critis of public affairs :
" That it is the duly of bis Majesty's ministers to advise his Majetiy againit entering into any engagements which may prevent or impede a Negociation for Peace, whenever a disposition thall be thewn on the part of the French Republic, to rent on ternis confittent with the security and ir tcrets of the Kritish Empire."
Sir, I trust that you and the House will believe me when I say that 110 ian can be more impressed than I am with the arduous nature of the task I have undertaken ; it is, all cir. cumstances considered, to me particularly arduous, for reafons, which are not neceifary, all of them, to be fiated. I hare no other inducement to come forward than that which arifes from the consciousness of my duty, nor have I any other motive whatever for what I am now doing. for I am not acting in concert with any other individual whatever, being impelied fimply by the sense I feel of my duty, which is to me motive suficient.
When I look at the situation of our affairs at this moment, and compare it with that which it exhibited fome time since, and when I couple that fituation with declarations from a varieiy of quarters, as well as from the highest, which necefCarily procured great weight wherever they were known, I own I am impelled to make the motion which I have just read to the House. I am led to think that the pacific difpofition which, soon after the conference at Lille, was manifelted by his Majelty's declaration has been abandoned, and that a new spirit has begun to rise up, against which I enter my protest. The spirit I allude to is that which leads to an extensive continental connexion, which may, in the opinion of inany very honest men, be advantageous to this country, but which, in my opinion, must be the reverse; and this is a matter of lo much importance to the welfare of this country, that I hope the House will not think me too assuming if I request iheir attention to it.
The House will, I dare fay, agree with me in this, that the shortelt course I can take upon this occafion is most likely to be the best; and, with that view I think I cannot do better than to proceed to answering these points which I conceive are likely to be usged as objections to my motion. I take this course, because it appears to me to be the most
plain and simple one I can adopt. I have taken all poslible pains to learn what objections are likely to be urged against the motion. I have looked them over carefully, and, if I could find that these objections were well founded, I thould not have felt any shame; on the contrary, I thould have been proud to come forward to acknowledge my error, and to ask pardun of the House for having once called its attention to a motion which I was convinced was improper ; but the more I consider the walter, the more I am convinced I was right in my first conception of it.
I know it may be said that this motion is an encroachment on the prerogative of the crown, that it breaks in upon the unbounded power which the crown has of making war or peace ; but I think this is a point which will not be much infifted upon when it is considered that the power of this House is unquestionable with respect to granting supplies. I have, as a member of this House, as good a right to say that the supplies granted to the crown shall be granted exclusively for England, as to say, what no man doubts I have a right to say, there shall not be any supply. Nobody difputes that right now; and I apprehend, that as little can be Said against the other, and therefore the objection that this motion is an encroachment on the prerogative of the crown is answered.
But it may be said, that this motion has a tendency to damp the spirit which is now riling in Europe. If that spirit was rising, and was likely to animate all Europe against the ainbitious projects of the common enemy, I should be so far from wishing to damp it, that I thould wish to inspire the ardour of it; I should be the last man in this country who would with to encourage such a spirit. [A cry of hear! bear! from the minister] But I have no idea that my motion would, if assented to, have any such operation. I say this, because I do not think that there is in Europe that fpirit which can be at all affected by such a motion as that which is now before you. What principle there is to govern the spirit to which I have alluded, I have yet to learn; by what I have seen, I am led to think there is no symptom of any spirit rising from principle in any quarter ; and I need not say much to convince the House, that the value of any spirit, and even the duration of it, must depend upon the principle on which it is founded: and yet this is called a plan for the general deliverance of Europe. I should be glad to know where I am to look for the spirit which has this tendency?
I have observed the conduct of the Powers of the continent, but I cannot see any thing like this fpirit. Look at Pruflia; that power has been at peace now for three years, and the minister of the French Republic is there now treated with all the refpect which nations observe towards those with whom they with to continue a good understanding; at least there is no appearance of the want of cordiality between his Prullian Majelty and the French Republic. If we look at the Emperos, we cannot say there is any dispute actually between him and the French. There is indeed a congress held at Radstadt, but that is, I believe, nothing more than a trial for each party to make the best of a mere squabble to the right and left bank of a river. If you look at Russia, you will not fee, or, I confefs I think you will not see, any thing interesting. In short, I confess I can see nothing from that quarter but profession, in which species of asistance to the common cause, none can go further than the Court of Petería burgh ; but, really, what other exertions have been made froin that quarter, I am yet to learn. If we look at the Oto toman Porte, we thail fee, at least I can see, nothing like principle in the spirit that has thewn itself. I fee, indeed, fume resentment exprelled against what I undoubtedly confider as a sudden act of injustice. If any body supposes that I do not mean to say the French have been guilty of the most fcandalous injustice, he mistakes me very much. But I see nothing in the conduct of the Ottoman Porte, which leads me to think, that the resentment shewn in that quarter is a resentment ariting from any principle on which we can reckon for any permanency: on the contrary, it appears to be a spirit. that may be appeased' by only altering the course of that which produced it. I see nothing like a systematic course of opposition to the ambitious projects of the enemy in general. The spirit of opposition to the enemy there, will discontinue the instant they gain for themselves what they want. They will have no fare in the general deliverance of Europe. Waiting, therefore, to hear where this spirit to relift the French is to be seen, and to be better informed in these particulars than I am at present, I shall go on with my obfervations, believing, as I do in my conscience, that I am doing no injury whatever to the ardour of any of the Powers of Europe. But it may be said, “although this spirit does not yet appear every where, yet your motion ought not to be made, for it may prevent that spirit from being excited, and would not such an effect be dangerous to the general confe
deracy ?" Certainly, if there be such a confederacy, as that from which you expect to work the deliverance of Europe; but I apprehend it will be granted to me, that, unless the confederacy be general, it cannot be attended with any extensive advantages. If only one power or two powers exert themselves, none of those splendid objects, of which we have heard a good deal, can be rationally expected to be accomplished. Now, with respect to a general conspiracy, I am not speaking at random, or on speculation, for it is a subject on which I have had positive experience; and which experience, under all the circumstances with which it comes before the House, ought to make ii cautious, at least, how it acts in future, The great confederacy against France was when the unfortunate monarch was under trial, and at the time of his death; that was the time when the combined powers were in the greatest force against France; it was then that France was not under the advantages of a settled government; when all that she possessed was employed only to resist actual invalion ; when her troops were raw and undisciplined, and when, in short, the had nothing to depend upon, or to oppose to all her difficulties, but the energy of the people. This was the time when the power of a confederacy against France was most formidable to her. Let Gentlemen confider what are now the boundaries of the French Republic, and then let them look at what is to be effected by a general confederacy. Circumstances must materially have changed froin those of the former, before we can reasonably hope for any advantage from a new confederacy, or before it can produce any effect different from ihe last; and what that effect was, I have no pleasure in detailing to the House. What produced the discomfiture of the confederates? The skill of ihe French, or the jealoufy and indecisions of the confede. rates ? Take which you will of these two, and the concluGon will be the same. Shall I be told that the skill of the. French is less now than it was then? That their strength is lefs; that their Generals are less alle, their army less steady or less powerful? I think not, Sir. Now take the other side, the alternative. Is there now a greater probability that the allies will adhere to each other better than they did formerly? Have they a greater ardour for the common cause now than they had ihen? Look at the relative fituation of the different powers. Is it to be believed that Austria will place more confidence in Prullia, fupposing a new.confederacy formed, than she did formerly? Can we have more confidence in VOL. I. 1798
either of them, after we have been deserted by both? Will any gentleman say that we ought to yote larger supplies than any that have yet been voted for the purpose of adjusting this or that point which may belong to the left or the right side of the Rhine? Can any man say that these are points eflential to the welfare of Great Britain? Can any of the powers expect much from the co-operation of Rutsia? Can ihe Empetor expect much cordial support from those who have deserted him already? Can we look with any degree of hope from the decisive and prompt action of the Ottoman Porte? Will any man lay his hand upon his heart and fay, that any of the combinations I have stated can be of real service to Great Britain! Well : but the question is altered, and other nations now feel what their intereits are, better than they did formerly. Those who reflect on the tenour of the state papers, on the manifefloes of 1793 and 1794, will do the parties combined againt France the justice to say, that whatever they may have failed in, they did not fail in foretelling the enormities of France. Nothing that has happened could have altonished the confederate powers, for they predicted all the evils that have happened in consequence of the anarchy of France-nothing has happened which they did not distinctly forctel; nor did they fail to ascribe all the evils that have happened to French principles ; and here it is proper I should explain what I mean by French principles ; I think this the more necellary because they are misunderstood by fome, or at least they are differently understood by different persons. Some gentlemen call all desire for a parliamentary or other reform, in any concern to the nation, the result of French principles': with such men I cannot agree. But as to those French principles which have produced and are supporting the present tyranny of France, no man would rise up sooner than myself to reprobate or rejoice more heartily at the extinction of such a principle. But can you suppose that any thing can be done to inflame there fentment of all these per fons more than has been done by the French republic ? Can you fuppose that any thing can he done to excite deeper hatred in monarchy against French principles than the conduct held towards that Monarch? Can you believe that the nobility of any country can have greater anger against any thing, than they have against that conduct which abolished their whole order at once, and worked the total deftru&ion of their tities? Do you believe that any thing would make the prayers of the church mure fervent againit anarchy than the overthrowing