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3ot the French
ble for their acts.
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 sa vecument, 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 goy- to set to the other nations of Europe ; if we view ernnient 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 ef. as 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 inference no longer. You have an alternat.ve, Englishmen will not hesitate. 1 They are di their own open avowal. You have wish to disguise no part of my sentiments upon tiae very exist stated in the subsequent declaration the grounds on which I put the issue of the conPince of the of France itself that it is not against test. I ask, whether up to the principles I have pare 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 itself 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 1 press the subversion of the British Constitution, trust will never abandon us, and which has shone 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 fiqurishing, 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 sogatry.
* not dissemble, and which will be little to stand or fall by the Laws, LIBERTIes, 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 slate amendment, and the Address was passed (as in 90 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. Aliong the mere grounds of interest, I would penses of the war; and Mr. Pitt was permitted
the ia say, if we love that degree of national so to modify his system of taxation as to pro. terests of al 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 50 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 eager. pose the violence of the enemy-nor is there, Ily into the contest; and Austria, which had beec truxi, a man in this happy and free nation whose negotiating with the Frer ch at Radstadt, since
the treaty of Campo Formio, respecting the con- un popular throughout Franco, but no party was cerns of the German Empire, encouraged by the strong enough to relieve the country from its ar advance of the Russians, again resorted to arms. rogance and rapacity, until Bonaparte suddenly Thus was fornied 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 varsare 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 througlithe 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 to Englana contest in the autumn of 1799.
with proposals for negotiating a peace. This The Directory had now become extremely I brings us to the subject of the next speech
SPEECH OF MR. PITT ON AN ADDRESS TO THE THRONE APPROVING OF HIS REFUSAL TO NEGOTIATE WITH BONAPARTE FOR A PEACE WITH FRANCE, DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS FEBRUARY 3, 1800.
INTRODUCTION. On 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 hand, and coached in the following terms ·
"Called by the wishes 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 com ing 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 second 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 attacbed 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 bave changed his views, and he rejected the proposal in terms which were too much suited to awakeu 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 desense but thal 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 wbat 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 ; tu sufficient evidence of the principles by which the new government will be directed; no reasonable groured by which to judge of ils 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. Dundas, 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 uncoart. cous language used by Lord Grenville. Mr. Pitt then rose, and without making any defense on this point, or touching directly apon the question, "Why should we not nou treat ?" took up the subject on the brcadest scale, go'ng back to the origin of the war, the atrocities of the French in overrannir.: 1 large part of Europe during the last ten years, the genius and spirit of the Revolution, the instability o! its sucressive governments, his motives for treating with such men on a former occasion, and the charar ter and 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 each other in regular succession; they present a vivid and horrible picture of the miseries inflicted upon Ea mope by revolutionary France, while the provocations of her enemies are thrown entirely into the back groand.
It wil. interest the reader to compare this speech with the reply of Mr. Fox, in respect to the standa 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 atrocitics of the past to bear on the question before the House. His specch was admirably adapted to a people like the English, jealous of France as their hereditary rival, couscious of their resources, and pre. pared 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, these 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 specch, 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 argu. ous of discussing it. The learned gentleman ments from his own pamphlet, which had before seems to assume as the foundation of his reason I passed through thirty-seven or thirty-eight edi. ing, 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 graces 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 iinprudent, 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 issuu 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 refuge 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-mest
berleben its progress, and perhaps ultimately as an instru- stance of his Majesty's answer is any those who are ment to deliver the world from the crimes and other than the safety of the country gotiat 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 Rexona fordvest forgive me, if I endeavor, as far as and under such circumstances, it would have been
ho I am able, to take a large and com- safe to return an answer concurring in the begoHieronder the prehensive view of this important tiation—he must come within one of the three fol.
question. In doing so, I agree lowing descriptions : He must either believe that with mr honorable friend (Mr. Canning) that it the French Revolution neither does now exhibit
** the origin of the war, and the
of Mr. Freine
nor has at any time exhibited such circumstances | ted that they since have violated all those rino danger, arising out of the very nature of the ciples; but it is alleged that they have do e so system, and the internal state and condition of only in consequence of the provocation of other France, as to leave to foreign powers no ade- powers. One of the first of those provocations quate ground of security in negotiation; or, sec is stated to have consisted in the various out ondly, he must be of opinion that the change rages offered to their ministers, of which the ex. which has recently taken place has given that ample is said to have been set by the King o! security which, in the former stages of the Rev. Great Britain in his conduct to M. Chauvelin. olution, was wanting ; or, thirdly, he must be in answer to this supposition, it is only neces. one who, believing that the danger existe. :ot un sary to remark, that before the example 29 dervaluing its extent nor mistaking its -ature, given, before Austria and Prussia are supposed nevertheless thinks, from his view of the present to have been thus encouraged to combine in a pressure on the country, from his view of its plan for the partition of France, that plan, if it situation and its prospects, compared with the ever existed at all, had existed and been acted situation and prospects of its enemies, that we upon for above eight months. France and Prusure, with our eyes open, bound to accept of in-sia had been at war eight months before the disadequate security for every thing that is valua- missal of M. Chauvelin. So much for the accu. ble and sacred, rather than endure the pressure, racy of the statement. or incur the risk which would result from a far I have been hitherto commenting on the arther prolongation of the contest."
guments contained in the Notes. I Contradiction In discussing the last of these questions, we come now to those of the learned gen- af Marine shall be led to consider what inference is to be tleman. I understand him to say that of the war. drawn from the circumstances and the result of the dismissal of M. Chanvelin was the real cause, our own negotiations in former periods of the I do not say of the general war, but of the rupwar; whether, in the comparative state of this ture between France and England; and the country and France, we now see the same rea- learned gentleman states particularly that this son for repeating our then unsuccessful experi- dismissal rendered all discussion of the poir.ts in ments; or whether we have not thence derived dispute impossible. Now I desire to meet disthe lessons of experience, added to the deductions tinctly every part of this assertion. I maintain, of reason, marking the inefficacy and danger of on the contrary, that an opportunity was given the very measures which are quoted to us as for discussing every matter in dispute between precedents for our adoption.
France and Great Britain as fully as if a regular I. Unwilling, sir, as I am to go into much de and accredited French minister had been resi. Origin of tail on ground which has been so often dent here; that the causes of war, which existed the war. trodden before; yet, when I find the learn- at the beginning, or arose during the course of ed gentleman, after all the information which he this discussion, were such as would have justified must have received, if he has read any of the Mr. Erskine here observed that this was not the answers to his work (however ignorant he might statement of his argument. Mr. Pitt replied that be be when he wrote it) still giving the sanction of had not yet come to Mr. Erskine, but was speaking his authority to the supposition that the order to of the statement made by the French government M. Chauvelin (French minister) to depart from in their Note. It can not be, however, that Mr. this kingdom was the cause of the war between
Pitt had that Note before him when be made these this country and France, I do feel it necessary
remarks. The passage referred to is in the follow.
ing words : “As soon as the French Revolution had to say a lew words on that part of the subject. broken out, almost all Europe entered into a league
Inaccuracy in dates seems to be a sort of ta- | for its destruction. The aggression was real lopu Error in the tality common to all who have written time before it was public. Internal resistance was note of the on that side of the question; for even excited; its opponents were favorably received; erament. the writer of the note to his Majesty their extravagant declamations were supported; tbo is not more correct, in this respect, than if he had | French nation was insulted in the person of its taken his information only from the pamphlet of l'agents; and England set particularly this example the learned gentleman. The House will recol.
by the dismissal of the minister accredited to her.
Finally, France was, in fact, attacked in her indelect the first professions of the French Republic,
*| pendence, in her bonor, and in her safety, long time which are enumerated, and enumerated truly, in before war was declared "_Parl, Hist vol stiv.. that note. They are tests of every thing which p. 1201. It is obvious that the writer is here giving would best recommend a government to the es- a more general summation of supposed wrongs, teem and confidence of foreign powers, and the without protessing to arrange them in the exact orreverse of every thing which has been the sys. der of time. He does not say, as Mr. Pitt repretem and practice of France now for near ten
sents, that “one of the first of those provocations" years. It is there stated that their first princi
was the ill treatment of French ministers, of which
“the example was set by the King of Great Britples were love of peace, aversion to conquest,
ain." He does not even mention Austria or Prug. and respect for the independence of other coun
sia, much less does he speak of their being "en tries. In the same note it seems, indeed, admit
couraged to combine in a plan for the partiti:n of 'In distributing his opponents into these three France," by "the example" referred to. And yet classes, Mr. Pitt follows his usual course of opening it is only by assuming this that Mr. Pitt makes out his speech with a striking statement which reaches his argument, and then sneers at “the accuracy of forvard into the subscquent discussion.
I the statement."
twenty times over, a declaration of war on the removing out of this kingdom all foreigners sus part of this country; that all the explanations pected of revolutionary principles. Is it conon the part of France were evidently unsatisfac- tended that he was then less liable to the pro. tory and inadmissible, and that M. Chauvelin had visions of that act than any other individual for. given in a peremptory ultimatum, declaring that eigner, whose conduct afforded to government if these explanations were not received as suffi- just ground of objection or suspicion? Did his cient, and if we did not immediately disarm, our conduct and connections here afford no such refusal would be considered as a declaration of ground ? or will it be pretended that the bare war Alter this followed that scene which no act of refusing to receive fresh credentials from man er even now speak of without horror, or an infant republic, not then acknowledged by think of without indignation; that murder and any one power of Europe, and in the very act regicide from which I was sorry to hear the of heaping upon us injuries and insults, was of learned gentleman date the beginning of the le- itself a cause of war? So far from it, that even gal government of France.3
the very nations of Europe, whose wisdom and Having thus given in their ultimatum, they moderation have been repeatedly extolled fer
w added, as a further demand (while we maintaining neutrality, and preserving friendship Ground of M. Chauvelia's" were smarting under accumulated in- with the French Republic, remained for years dismissal.
was juries, for which all satisfaction was subsequent to this period without receiving from denied) that we should instantly receive M. it any accredited minister, or doing any one act Chanvelin as their embassador, with new cre- to acknowledge its political existence. dentials, representing them in the character in answer to a representation from the bellig. which they had just derived from the murder erent powers, in December, 1793, A refusal to rec of their sovereign. We replied, “he came here Count Bernstorff, the minister of ognize the new as the representative of a sovereign whom you Denmark, officially declared that ground of hostal
ities on the part bave put to a cruel and illegal death; we have “it was well known that the Na- of the French. 30 satisfaction for the injuries we have received, tional Convention had appointed M. Grouville no security from the danger with which we are minister plenipotentiary at Denmark, but that it threatened. Under these circumstances we will was also well known that he had neither been not receive your new credentials. The former received nor acknowledged in that quality.'' credentials you have yourselves recalled by the And as late as February, 1796, when the same sacrifice of your King.”
minister was at length, for the first time, received What, from that moment, was the situation of in his official capacity, Count Bernstorff, in a pubSent out of M. Chauvelin ? He was reduced to the lic note, assigned this reason for that change of the country situation of a private individual, and was conduct: “So long as no other than a revolu blivitaa! required to quit the kingdom under the tionary government existed in France, his Maj. provisions of the Alien Act, which, for the pur- esty could not acknowledge the minister of that pose of securing domestic tranquillity, had re- government; but now that the French Constitucently invested his Majesty with the power of tion is comp'etely organized, and a regular gov
ernment established in France, his Majesty's ob* Here, again, Mr. Pitt founds his attack upon a ligation ceases in that respect, and M. Grouville mistake. Mr. Erskine, as reported in the Parlia- | will therefore be acknowledged in the usual mentary History, did not say " the beginning of le. form." How far the court of Denmark was gal government,” but “when France cut off her
justified in the opinion that a revolutionary govmost unfortunate monarch, and established her first republic, she had an embassador at our court."
ernment then no longer existed in France, it is
not now necessary to inquire; but whatever may Vol. xxxiv., p. 1289. His language may have been" confused or obscure, but it is hardly conceivable that have been the fact in that respect, the principle Mr. Erskine, through any haste or inadvertence, on which they acted is clear and intelligible, and could have been betrayed into the absurdity of say. is a decisive instance in favor of the proposition ing that there never was a legal government in which I have maintained. France until the 21st of January, 1793.
Is it, then, necessary to examine what were Nor does Mr. Pitt appear to have understood Mr. the terms of that ultimatum with which Agressions Erskine more correctly when he represents him, a
we refused to comply? Acts of hos- of Trance. few sentences before, as affirming that the dismiss. al of M. Chauvelin "rendered all discussion of the
* tility had been openly threatened against our alpoints in dispute impossible." No statement of this lies; a hostility founded upon the assumption of kind appears in the printed specch. He and his a right which would at once supersede the whole friends only maintained that the treatment of this law of nations. The pretended right to open gentleman, after the imprisonment and death of the Scheldt we discussed at the time. not so Logis XVI., was so barsh and irritating as to defeat much on account of its immediate importance all the objects of negotiation. It was a matter of (though it was important both in a maritime and public potoriety that informal communications did |
commercial view) as on account of the general pass between the two governments; but the agents
principle on which it was founded. of France were denied all public and accredited i
On the character, an indignity (as Mr. Erskine and his When the Austrians and Prussians, who invaded friends maintained) which was tantamount to break France under the Duke of Brunswick, were driven ing off all friendly intercourse, and which threw back, the French in return attacked the Austrian epon England, in their view, the responsibility of Netherlands, and became masters of the country by the wir which followed.
| the battle of Jemappe, November 6th 1792 Thev