Page images

DOW insist on the discussion


Our proposal was received and allowed by the then to hear what they had further to ask ! I :-) The French French plenipotentiaries, and trans- it possible to suppose that such a thing could be

mitted for the consideration of the listened to by any country that was not prepared of prelimina Directory. Months had elapsed in to prostrate itself at the feet of France; and in

sending couriers weekly and daily that abject posture to adore its conqueror, to sofrom Paris to sisle, and from Lisle to Paris. licit new insults, to submit to demands still more They taught us to expect, from time to time, a degrading and ignominious, and to cancel at consideration of this subject, and an explicit an- once the honor of the British name? His Maj. swer to our project. But the first attempt of the esty had no hesitation in refusing to comply with Directory to negotiate, after having received our such insolent and unwarrantable demands. Here, project, is worihy of remark. They required again, the House will see that the spirit of the that we, whom they had summoned to a defini- violent part of the French government which, tive treaty, should stop and discuss preliminary had the insolence to advance this proposition, had points, which were to be settled without know. not acquired power and strength in that state of ing whether, when we had agreed to them all, the negotiation to adhere to it. His Majesty's we had advanced one inch. We were to dis- explanations and remonstrances for a time precuss, (1) whether his Majesty would renounce vailed; and an interval ensued in which we had the title of King of France, a harmless feather at a hope that we were advancing to a pacification. most in the crown of England. We were to dis- His Majesty's refusal of this demand was received cuss, (2) whether we would restore those ships by the French plenipotentiaries with assurances taken at Toulon, the acquisition of valor, and of a pacific disposition, was transmitted to their which we were entitled upon every ground to government, and was seconded by a continued hold. We were to discuss, (3) whether we and repeated repetition of promises that a counwould renounce the mortgage which we might ter-project should be presented-pretending that possess on the Netherlands, and which engaged they were under the necessity of sending to much of the honorable baronet's attention; but their allies an account of what passed, and ihat it does so happen that what the honorable bar- they were endeavoring to prevail on them to aconet considered as so important was of no im- cede to proposals for putting an end to the caportance at all; for a mortgage on the Nether- lamities of war-to terminate the calamities of lands we have none, and consequently we have that war into which those allies were forced ; in none to renounce. Therefore, upon that condi- which they were retained by France alone; and tion, which they had no right to ask, and we had in which they purchased nothing but sacrifices no means of granting, we told them the true to France and misery to themselves. We were state of the case, and that it was not worth talk- told, indeed, in a conference that followed, that ing about.

they had obtained an answer; but that not being The next point which occurred is of a nature sufficiently satisfactory, it was sent back to be (2.) They next which is difficult to dwell upon with considered! This continued during the whole

out indignation. We were waiting period, until that dreadful catastrophe of the 4th the conquests the fulfillment of a promise which had of September, 1797. Even after that event, the çland, as a pre. been made repeatedly, of delivering same pretense was held out: they peremptorily

to our embassador a counter-project, promised the counter-project in four days; the when they who had desired us to come for the same pacific professions were renewed, and our purpose of concluding a definitive treaty, propose minister was assured that the change of circumthat we should subscribe, as a sine qua non prelim- stances in France should not be a bar to the painary, that we were ready, in the first instance, cification. Such was the uniform language of to consent to give up all that we had taken, and the plenipotentiaries in the name of the govern

ment-how it is proved by their actions, I have 8 It may be remarked as to the first of these pre- already stated to the House. After this series liminary points, that all the French kings for three centuries had allowed this part of the title of the 9 This extraordinary demand was made on the English monarch (“King of France") to stand at ground (never mentioned or alluded to before) that the head of treaties, and it was, therefore, certainly there exists in the public and secret treaties by frivolous to raise any question about it. As to the which the French Republic is bound to its allies, second, touching the ships taken at Toulon, there Spain and the Batavian Republic, articles by which was more plausibility in the claim, because they those powers respectively guarantee the territories were given ap on the condition of being “restored possessed by each of them before the war. The in the event of peace.” But they were given up by French government, unable to detach itself from French Royalists to create a diversion against the these engagements, establishes as an indispensable Republic, and the peace referred to was, therefore, preliminary of the negotiation for the peace with plainly a peace with the regal government, and not England, the consent of his Britannic Majesty to with a revolutionary body like the Directory. The the restitution of all the possessions which he occu. third preliminary related to a lien which England pies, not only from the French Republic, but further had on the hereditary possessions of Austria, as se. and formally, of those of Spain and of the Batavian curity for certain loans made to the Emperor; and Republic." It is obvious that this was an afterthe Directory demanded to know whether the Aus. thought to impede the negotiation, and that France, trian Netherlands (then incorporated into France) which overruled Spain and Holland at her will, bad were considered as subject to this lien. Mr. Pitt no difficulty on this subject except as she chose to answered them as stated in the text.

make one.

der and the surrender of all


has not power to do this, le eball obtain it fron his gov. eramo..

of professions, what was the first step taken [by or that such a negotiation was likely to lead to a the French), to go on with the negotiation in good end; all I can say is, that with Impossible fos chis spirit of conciliation ? Sir, the first step such a man I will not argue. I leave grant this was to renew (as his Majesty's Declaration has others to imagine what was likely to have been well stated), in a shape still more offensive, the the end of a negotiation in which it was to have former inadmissible and rejected demand—the been settled as a preliminary that you were to rejection of which had been acquiesced in by give up all that you have gained ; and when, on themselves two months before; and during all the side of your enemy, not a word was said of which time we had been impatiently waiting what he had to propose afterward.

They de for the performance of their promises. That de- mand of your embassador to show to them, not (10.) They fin. mand was the same that I have al.. only his powers, but also his instructions, before Lord Malmes ready stated in substance, that Lord they explain a word of theirs ; and they tell har yieleste if he Malmesbury should explain to them you, too, that you are never to expect to hear

not only his powers, but also his in- what their powers are, until you shall be ready
stractions; and they asked not for to accede to every thing which the Directory

the formal extent of his power, which may.think fit to require. This is certainly the
would give solidity to what he might conclude substance of what they propose; and they tell
in the King's name, but they asked an irrevoca- you, also, that they are to carry on the negotia-
ble pledge that he would consent to give up all tion from the instructions which their plenipoten.
that we had taken from them and from their al- tiaries are to receive from time to time from
lies without knowing how much more they had them. You are to have no power to instruct
afterward to ask ! 10 It is true, they endeavor- your embassador! You are to show to the en-
ed to convince Lord Malmesbury that, although emy at once all you have in view! And they
an avowal of his instructions was demanded, it will only tell you from time to time, as to them
would never be required that he should act upon shall seem meet, what demands they shall make.
it-since there was a great difference between It was thus it was attempted, on the part of the
knowing the extent of the powers of a minister French, to commence the negotiation. Recapitula-
and insisting upon their exercise. And here I In July, this demand was made to Lord tiul
would ask the honorable baronet whether he Malmesbury. He stated that his powers were
thinks is, in the first instance, we had given up ample. In answer to this, they went no farther
all to the French plenipotentiaries, they would than to say that if he had no such power as what
have given it all back again to us? Suppose I they required, he should send to England to ob-
was embassador from the French Directory, and tain it. To which he replied, that he had not, nor
the honorable baronet was embassador from Great should he have it if he sent. In this they acqui.
Britain, and I were to say to him, “Will you give esce, and attempt to amuse us for two months.
up all you have gained; it would only be a hand- | At the end of that time, the plenipotentiaries sa;
some thing in you as an Englishman, and no un- to Lord Malmesbury, not what they said beforo,
generous use shall be made of it ?"would the send to England for power to accede to propo.
honorable baronet expect me, as a French em- sals which you have already rejected; but go to
bassador, to say I am instructed, from the good England yourself for such powers, in order to
nature of the Directory, to say you have acted obtain peace.
handsomely, and I now return what you have so Such was the winding up of the negotiation.
generously given? Should we not be called Such was the way in which the prospect of peace
children and drivelers, if we could act in this has been disappointed by the conduct of France;
manner? And, indeed, the French government and I must look upon the dismissal of Lord
could be nothing but children and drivelers il Malmesbury as the last stage of the negotiation,
they could suppose that we should have acceded because the undisguised insult by which it was
to such a proposal. But they are bound, it pretended to be kept up for ten days alter Lord
seems, by sacred treaties! They are bound by Malmesbury was sent away, was really below
immutable laws! They are sworn, when they comment. You send him to ask for those pow.
make peace to return every thing to their allies ! ers which you were told he had not, and in the re-
And who shall require of France, for the safety fusal of which you acquiesced. You have asked
of Europe, to depart from its own pretensions to as a preliminary that which is monstrous and ex-
honor and independence ?

orbitant. That preliminary you were told would If any person can really suppose that this not be complied with, and yet the performance country could have agreed to such a proposition, of that preliminary you made the sine qua non

conditions of his return! Such was the last step 10 The words used were these: “There is a de- by which the French government has shown that cree of the Directory, that in case Lord Malmesbury it had feeling enough left to think it necessary to shall declare himself not to have the necessary pow. search for some pretext to color its proceedings. ers for agreeing to all the restitutions which the laws But they are such proceedings that no pretext or and treaties which bind the French Republic make indispensable, he shall return in twenty-four hours to artifice can cover them, as will appear more par his court to ask for sufficient powers." As the Di. ticularly from the papers officially corcmunicated rectory knew the English could not grant this, cer

[ocr errors]

to the House. tainly as a preliminary, such a communication was But here the subject does not rest. ic a direct dismissal of Lord Malmesbary.

to the whole complexion of this transaction, the

we look

ble for their acts.

They are di

ence of the British em. pire.

duplicity, the arrogance, and violence which has stake is so small that would not be ready to A revolutionary appeared in the course of the nego- sacrifice his life in the same cause. If we look government, and tiation, if we take from thence our at it with a view to safety, this would be our people, responsi: opinion of its general result, we shall conduct. But if we look at it upon the princi

be justified in our conclusion—not ple of true honor, of the character which we that the people of France—not that the whole have to support, of the example which we have government of France—but that part of the gov- to set to the other nations of Europe ; if we view ernment which had too much influence, and has rightly the lot in which Providence has placed now the whole ascendency, never was sincere- us, and the contrast between ourselves and all was determined to accept of no terms but such the other countries in Europe, gratitude to that as would make it neither durable nor safe ; such Providence should inspire us to make every efas could only be accepted by this country by a fort in such a cause. There may be danger; surrender of all its interests, and by a sacrifice but on the one side there is danger accompanied of every pretension to the character of a great, a with honor; on the other side, there is danger powerful, or an independent nation.

with indelible shame and disgrace : upon such This, sir, is inserence no longer. You have an, Englishmen will not hesitate. I

their own open avowal. You have wish to disguise no part of my sentiments upon e terasaing stated in the subsequent declaration the grounds on which I put the issue of the con

of France itself that it is not against test. I ask, whether up to the principles I have

your commerce, that it is not against stated, we are prepared to act? Having done your wealth, it is not against your possessions in so, my opinion is not altered: my hopes, howev the East, or your colonies in the West, it is not er, are animated by the reflection that the means against even the source of your maritime great- of our safety are in our own hands; for there ness, it is not against any of the appendages of never was a period when we had more to enyour empire, but against the very essence of courage us. In spite of heavy burdens, the rad. liberty, against the foundation of your independ ical strength of the nation never showed itsell ence, against the citadel of your happiness, against more conspicuous; its revenue never exhibited your Constitution itself, that their hostilities are greater proofs of the wealth of the country; the directed. They have themselves announced and same objects which constitute the blessings we proclaimed the proposition, that what they mean have to fight for, furnish us with the means of to bring with their invading army is the genius continuing them. But it is not upon that point of their liberty. I desire no other word to ex- I rest. There is one great resource, which ] press the subversion of the British Constitution, trust will never abandon us, and which has sbono and the substitution of the most malignant and forth in the English character, by which we have fatal contrast—the annihilation of British liberty, preserved our existence and fame as a nation, and the obliteration of every thing that has ren- which I trust we shall be determined never to dered you a great, a flourishing, and a happy abandon under any extremity; but shall join hand people.

and heart in the solemn pledge that is proposed This is what is at issue. For this are we to to us, and declare to his Majesty that we know

declare ourselves in a manner that dep- great exertions are wanted; that we are prepared before the recates the rage which our enemy will to make them; and are, at all events, determined

not dissemble, and which will be little to stand or fall by the Laws, LIBERTIĖs, and moved by our entreaty! Under such circum- Religion of our country. stances, are we ashamed or afraid to declare, in a firm and manly tone, our resolution to defend ourselves, or to speak the language of truth with The House was completely electrified by this the energy that belongs to Englishmen united speech. Sir John Sinclair, at the suggestion of in such a cause ? Sir, I do not scruple, for one, Mr. Wilberforce, withdrew his motion for an to say, If I knew nothing by which I could state amendment, and tho Address was passed (as in to myself a probability of the contest terminating the House of Lords) without one dissenting voice. in our favor, I would maintain that the contest, The great body of the nation, with their characwith its worst chances, is preferable to an acqui- teristic energy in times of danger, rallied around escence in such demands.

King and Parliament. A subscription was raised If I could look at this as a dry question of of fifteen hundred thousand pounds sterling, as Peroration: prudence; if I could calculate it upon a voluntary donation to meet the increased ex

the mere grounds of interest, I would penses of the war; and Mr. Pitt was permitted say, if we love that degree of national so to modify his system of taxation as to pro

power which is necessary for the inde- duce a vast accession to the regular income of pendence of the country and its safety; if we the government. This relieved him from his regard domestic tranquillity, if we look at indi. inain difficulty, and enabled him to renew the viduai enjoyment from the highest to the mean- contest with increased vigor. est among us, there is not a man whose stake is The Directory sent Bonaparte to invade Egypt so great in the country that he ought to hesitate early in 1798, and Turkey immediately declared a moment in sacrificing any portion of it to op- war against France. Russia now entered eagere pose the violence of the enemy—nor is there, I ly into the contest; and Austria, which had been rust, a man in this happy and free nation whose negotiating with the French at Radstadt, sincs

Issue now


Appeal to the honor and the in terests of all.

the treaty of Campo Formio, respecting the con- unpopular throughout Franco, but no party was cerns of the German Empire, encouraged by the strong enough to relieve the country from its aradvance of the Russians, again resorted to arms. rogance and rapacity, until Bonaparte suddenly Thus was formed the third great confederacy returned from Egypt, and, throwing himself on against Franca, which was sustained by immense the army for support, usurped the government subsidies furnished by Mr. Pitt out of the in- on the 9th of November, 1799. A new Consticreased means now placed at his disposal. The tution was immediately formed, under which scene of varfare at the close of 1798, and Bonaparte was nominated First Consul for ten throughout the year 1799, was extended over years, and this was adopted by a vote through. the whole surface of Italy, along the banks of out France of 3,012,659 to 1562. The new the Rhine, amid the marshes and canals of Hol- government was inaugurated with great pomp land, and among the lakes and mountains of on the 24th of December, 1799. Bonaparte Switzerland. France, after gigantic efforts, lost made every effort to unite and pacify the peoall Italy, with the exception of Genoa, but re- ple; and with a view to present himself before tained her borders upon the Rhine and the bar- Europe as governed by a spirit of moderation, riers of the Alps. Russia withdrew from the he instantly dispatched a courier 10 England contest in the autumn of 1799.

with proposals for negotiating a peace. This The Directory had now become extremely brings us to the subject of the next speech.

[ocr errors]


FEBRUARY 3, 1800.

Os the 25th of December, 1799, the day after he was inaugurated as First Consul of France, Bonaparte
addressed a letter to the King of England, written with bis own band, and couched in the following terms

"Called by the wisiies of the French nation to occupy the first magistracy of the Republic, I think it proper, on entering into office, to make a direct communication to your Majesty. The war which for eight years has ravaged the four quarters of the world, must it be eternal ? Are there no means of coming to an understanding? How can the two most enlightened nations of Europe, powerful and strong beyond what their safety and independence require, sacrifice to ideas of vain greatness the benefits of commerce, internal prosperity, and the happiness of families ? How is it that they do not feel that peace is of the first necessity as well as of the first glory? These sentiments can not be foreign to the heart of your Majesty, who reigns over a free nation, and with the sole view of rendering it happy. Your Majesty will only see in this overture my sincere desire to contribute efficaciously, for the secoud time, to a general pacification, by a step speedy, entirely of confidence, and disengaged from those forms which, necessary perhaps to disguise the dependence of weak states, prove only in those which are strong the mutual desire of deceiving each other. France and England, by the abuse of their strength, may still for a long time, to the misfortune of all nations, retard the period of their being exhausted. But I will venture to say it, the fate of all civilized nations is attached to the termination of a war which involves the whole world. Of your Majesty, &c.

BONAPARTE." From the feelings expressed by Mr. Pitt in the preceding speech, we should naturally have expected him to embrace this overture with promptitude, if not with eagerness. But the resentment which he justly felt at the evasive and insulting conduct of the Directory during the last negotiation, seems wholly to have changed his views, and he rejected the proposal in terms which were too much suited to awaken a similar resentment in the new French rulers. The reply of Lord Grenville went back to the commencement of the war, declaring it to have been "an unprovoked attack" on the part of the French. It assumed, that “this system continues to prevail," and that on the part of England “no defense but that of open and steady hostility can be availing." In reference to peace, it pointed to the restoration of the Bourbons, as "the best and most natural pledge of its reality and permanence;" and while the English minister did not "claim to prescribe to France what shall be her form of government,” he did say, as to any ground of confidence in the one recently organized, “Unhappily no such security bitherto exists; bu sufficient evidence of the principles by which the new government will be directed; no reasonable grour.d by which to judge of its stability." The French minister, Talleyrand, replied to these remarks in a pointed note, and Lord Grenville closed the correspondence in a letter reafirming his former positions.

These communications were laid before the House of Commons, February 30, 1800, when an Address was proposed by Mr. Dandas, approving of the course taken by ministers. He was followed by Mr. Whit bread, Mr. Canning, and Mr. (afterward Lord] Erskine, who complained in strong terms of the uncourt. cous language used by Lord Grenville. Mr. Pitt then rose, and without making any defense on this point, or touching directly upon the question, "Why should we not nou treat ?" took up the subject op the broadest scale, go'ng back to the origin of the war, the atrocities of the French in overronnire a

[ocr errors]

lorge part of Europe during the last ten years, the genius and spirit of the Revolution, the instability of its successive governments, his motives for treating with such men on a former occasion, and the charac. ter anii deeds of Bonaparte from the commencement of his career as a military chieftain. This was the most elaborate oration ever delivered by Mr. Pitt. Of the vast variety of facts brought forward or re. ferred to, very few have ever been disputed; they are arranged in luminous order, and grow out of eact other in regular succession ; they present a vivid and horrible picture of the miseries inflicted upon Eu rope by revolutionary France, while the provocations of her enemies are thrown entirely into the back ground.

It will interest the reader to compare this speech with the reply of Mr. Fox, in respect to the stand. point of the speaker. That of Mr. Fox was this, that peace is the natural state of human society, and ought, therefore, to be made, unless there is clear evidence that the securities for its continuance are iu. adequate. Mr. Pitt's stand-point was this, that as the war existed, and sprang out of a system of perfidy and violence unparalleled in the history of the world, it ought not to be ended except on strong and direct evidence that there were adequate securities for the continuance of peace if made. The question was whether the new government under Bonaparte offered those securities. But Mr. Pitt showed great dex. terity in treating this government as merely a new phase of the Revolution, and thus bringing all the atrocities of the past to bear on the question before the House. His speech was adn adapted to a people like the English, jealous of France as their hereditary rival, couscious of their resources, and prepared to consider a continuation of the contest, as the safest means of defending "their liberties, their laws, and their most holy religion.”

Some of the facts referred to in this speech have been already explained in connection with Mr. Fox's reply on this subject, as given on a preceding page. For the convenience of the reader, however, thesu explanations will, in a few instances, be given again.

SPEECH, &c. Sır, I am induced, at this period of the de- / would, in any case, be impossible to separate the bate, to offer my sentiments to the House, both present discussion from the former crimes and from an apprehension that at a later hour the at- atrocities of the French Revolution ; because tention of the House must necessarily be exhaust- both the papers now on the table, and the whole ed, and because the sentiment with which the hon- of the learned gentleman's argument, force upon orable and learned gentleman (Mr. Erskine] be- our consideration the origin of the war, and all gan his speech, and with which he has thought the material facts which have occurred during its proper to conclude it, places the question pre- continuance. The learned gentleman (Mr. Ercisely on that ground on which I am most desir- skine) has revived and retailed all those arguous of discussing it. The learned gentleman ments from his own pamphlet, which had before seems to assume as the foundation of his reason- passed through thirty-seven or thirty-eight ediing, and as the great argument for immediate tions in print, and now gives them to the House treaty, that every effort to overturn the system embellished by the gracos of his personal deliv. of the French Revolution must be unavailing; ery: The First Consul has also thought fit to and that it would be not only imprudent, but al- revive and retail the chief arguments used by all most impious to struggle longer against that or the opposition speakers and all the opposition der of things which, on I know not what princi- publishers in this country during the last seven ple of predestination, he appears to consider as years. And (what is still more material) the immortal. Little as I am inclined to accede to question itself, which is now immediately at issure this opinion, I am not sorry that the honorable —the question whether, under the present cir. gentleman has contemplated the subject in this cumstances, there is such a prospect of security serious view. I do, indeed, consider the French from any treaty with France as ought to induce Revolution as the severest trial which the visita- us to negotiate, can not be properly decided upon tion of Providence has ever yet inflicted upon the without retracing, both from our own experience nations of the earth; but I can not help reflecting, and from that of other nations, the nature, the with satisfaction, that this country, even under causes, and the magnitude of the danger against such a trial, has not only been exempted from which we have to guard, in order to judge of the those calamities which have covered almost every security which we ought to accept. other part of Europe, but appears to have been I say, then, that before any man can concur in reserved as a resuge and asylum to those who opinion with that learned gentleman; Three opinions fled from its persecution, as a barrier to oppose before any man can think that the sub- must be held be its progress, and perhaps ultimately as an instru- stance of his Majesty's answer is any in favor of the ment to deliver the world from the crimes and other than the safety of the country gotiation. miseries which have attended it.

required; before any man can be of opinion that, to Under this impression, I trust the House will the overtures made by the enemy, at such a time Reasons for dwej forgive me, if I endeavor, as far as and under such circumstances, it would have been ulehe war, and the I am able, to take a large and com- safe to return an answer conc

oncurring in the nego. frendlie Revilu prehensive view of this important tiation—he must come within one of the three fola

In doing so, I agree lowing descriptions : He must either believe that with my honorable friend (Mr. Canning) that it the French Revolution neither does now exhibit,



« PreviousContinue »