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HOUSE OF LORDS.
the Oaths, and made and subscribed the at length compelled to adopt the resolution Declaration, and took and subscribed the of openly resisting this unremitted system oath of Adjuration, according to the laws of aggrandisement and conquest. But nei. made for those purposes; and such of the ther this determination, nor the succeedsaid members as are by law required to de-ing measures, were previously concerted liver in to the clerk of the bouse an account with his majesty; nor had any disposition of their Qualification, and to take and sub-been shewn to offer any adequate satisfacscribe the oath of Qualification, delivered tion for those aggressions wbich had placed in such account, and took and subscribed the two countries in a state of mutual the said oath accordingly.
hostility:-Yet, in this situation, his majesty did not hesitate to adopt, without
delay, such measures as were best calcuFriday, December 19.
lated to unite their councils and interests, STHE LORDS COMMISSIONERS'SPEECH.] against the common enemy. The rapid This day at 4 o'clock, his grace the arch-course of the calamities which ensued, opbishop of Canterbury, the lord chancellor, posed insurmountable difficulties to the the earl of Winchelsea, and earl Spencer, execution of this purpose.--In the midst being robed, took their seats on the bench of these disastrous events, and under the in front of the throne, and Mr. Quarme, most trying circumstances, the good faith deputy usher of the black rod, was then of his majesty's allies has remained unsbas dispatched to order the attendance of the ken. The conduct of the king of Sweden commous, who forthwith, with the speaker has been distinguished by the most honourat their head, appeared at the bar. The able firmness. Betweeu his majesty and royal commission, autborising certain peers the emperor of Russia, the happiest union therein named, or any three or more of subsists; it has been cemented by reciprothem, to open the parliament, was then cal proofs of good faith and confidence; read. After which, the Lord Chancellor and his majesty doubts not that you will delivered the following speech to both participate in his anxiety to cultivate and houses.
confirm an alliance which affords the only My Lords and Gentlemen'; remaining hope of safety for the continent “ His majesty has commanded us to of Europe. assure you, that in the difficult and ar- Gentlemen of the House of Commons; duous circumstances under which you are " His inajesty looks with confidence to now assen;bled, it is a great satisfaction to your assistance in those exertions which him to recur to the firmness and wisdom the honour and independence of your of his parliament, after so recent an op- country demand. The necessity of adding portunity of collecting the sense of his to the public burthens will be painful to people. -His majesty has ordered the pa- your feelings, and is deeply distressing to pers which have been exchanged in the bis majesty. In considering the estimates course of the late negociation with l'rance, for the various branches of the public to be laid before you. His majesty has service, you will best consult his majesty's employed every effort for the restoration wishes, by combining all practicable ecoof general tranquillity, on terms consistent noiny with those efforts which it is neceswith the interest and honour of his peo- sary to make against the formidable and ple, and with that inviolable good faith increasing power of the enemy. towards his allies, by wbich the conduct of • My Lords and Gentlemen ; this country has always been distinguished. The long series of misfortune which --The ambition and injustice of the ene- has afflicted the continent of Europe, iny disappointed these endeavours, and in could not fail to affect, in some degree, the same moment kindled a fresh war in many important interests of this country. Europe, the progress of which has been But, under every successive difficulty, his attended with the most calamitous events. majesty has had the satisfaction of wit-After witnessing the subversion of the nessing an increasing energy and firmness ancient constitution of Germany, and the on the part of his people, whose uniform subjugation of a large proportion of its and determined resistance has been no most considerable states; Prussia found her-less advantageous than honourable to themself still more nearly threatened by that dan- selves, and has exbibited the most striking ger, wbich she had vainly boped to avert example to the surrounding nations. The by so many sacrifices. She was therefore unconquerable valour and discipline of his majesty's fleets and armies, continue to negociation then commenced under the be displayed with 'undiminished lustre. most favourable auspices, and, notwithThe great sources of our prosperity and standing the lamented death of the great strength are unimpaired; nor has the Bri- man to whom be had alluded, was carried tish nation been, at any time, more united on in the same spirit. That it had failed in sentiment and action, or more deter- in producing peace, was to be attributed to mined to maintain inviolate the indepen- the enemy. We certainly had no right to dence of the empire, and the dignity of expect, that the French government, under the national character.-With these ad- all the circumstances in which it was placed, vantages, and with an humble reliance on would consent to any degrading concesthe protection of the Divine Providence, sion; but we were in too proud a situation, his majesty is prepared to nget the exi- and had too much reliance on our own gencies of this great crisis; assured of re-energies, to consent to any humiliation : ceiving the fullest support from the wis- if the French government would not condom of your deliberations, and from the sent to treat upon equal terms, the fault tried affection, loyalty, and public spirit was theirs. We had deeply to lament the of his brave people.”
heavy calamities which had fallen upon The commons then withdrew, and the Prussia, but, at the same time, it was no house adjourned for a short tiine to unrobe. small satisfaction to us, that the councils Having again assembled, his majesty's of Prussia had not been precipitated into speech was read by the lord chancellor, rash measures by the advice or instigation and afterwards by the clerk at the table. of this country. It was scarcely possible
The Earl of Jersey rose to move an ad- for their lordships to find in all history an dress to his majesty. In thus rising to ad- instance of a great power so totally overdress their lordships for the first time, he thrown, he might almost say annihilated, felt himself in a situation of considerable in the course of a few days. Prussia, who difficulty, and hoped for their lordships' had made sacrifice after sacrifice to France, indulgence. In adverting to the topics apparently with the view of averting war, contained in his majesty's speech, the first at length' rushed precipitately into hostito be noticed was, the negociation between lities, and met with an unexampled fate. this country and France. As the papers Her example would afford an awful lesson respecting this subject would shortly be to other states, and would convince them laid on their lordships' table, it would not that security was not to be attained by now be regular to enter into any detailed making humiliating sacrifices. discussion respecting the progress and re- however, a source of great satisfaction that sult of that negociation; it must, however, this country, when Prussia actually made be evident to their lordships, from what an effort against the common enemy, did had already transpired, that the negocia- not hesitate immediately to step forward tion had broken off in consequence of the to afford her every assistance which cirimperious conduct and exorbitant demands cumstances would permit. In the midst of France. His majesty, anxious that of the calamities which had occurred on peace should be restored, if that could be the continent, it was highly gratifying to attained consistently with the honour and witness the conduct of the king of Sweden, interests of the country, had ordered the who, whilst he had opposed the enemy by commencement of a negociation, the main every means in his power, had displayed a business of which was transacted by a man firmness and an energy which conferred (Mr. Fox) than whom no one was more the highest honour on the character of that fil, whose great and comprehensive mind monarch. The contemplation of the conwas admirably calculated to embrace all duct of our faithful ally, Russia, also afthe interests of the country, whose candour forded the utmost satisfaction; nothing and manliness of character were exhibited could be more gratifying than the close iu the most striking manner, in the frank alliance which subsisted between this counness, the clearness, and precision, with try and Russia, an alliance, of her fidelity which he communicated with the French to which Russia had given repeated proofs, government, whilst, at the sanie time, he and particularly in her recent refusal to did not give up one jot of the interests or ratify the rash and inconsiderate act of her the honour of his country, but asserted minister at Paris. These instances of good them with all the firmness and energy which faith on the part of Russia, were the more so important an occasion required. The gratifying, that power being now almost the lol. VII.
only ally of this country lest, and therefore with the noble earl in the sentiments which the cultivation of our alliance with her, he had advanced, he felt considerable diffibecame so much the inore desirable. That culty in following him upon the same in our present situation great sacritices must grounds after the ability which the noble be made, was evident, but when the great earl had displayed. It was his wish to object we had in view was contemplated, support the present administration, conthese sacrifices must sink in the comparison. ceiving, that though it combined different He was convinced that there was not a man parties, those parties were united upon who bore the envied name of a Briton, with public and patriotic principles, and that it all the blessings and privileges attached also combined so large à portion of the to that title, who would not cheerfully come talent and ability of the country, that forward to make those sacrifices which every reliance might be placed upon their were required to maintain the honour and exertions. In noticing the topics adverted the dignity of the country, our laws, our to in his inajesty's speech, he should constitution, and all that was dear to us. scarcely be able, after what had been said Let us, said the noble earl, rely upon our by the noble earl, to avoid repetition : he selves, and put forth all our energies. It thought it, bowever, necessary in seconwas true we had, in the course of a twelve- ding the address, to comment briefly month, lost two men of pre-eminent talent, upon some of them. With respect to the but there was still ability amply enough negociation, he would abstain from enterleft, to direct the energies of the country ing into any discussion, as that subject with the best hopes of ultimate success, would come regularly before the house, lle had no doubt that the parliament and when the papers respecting it. were laid the people would be unanimous in support- upon their lordships' table. The calamities ing his majesty's government by every ex- which had befallen Prussia were deeply to ertiou in the prosecution of a war, until a be lamented, although it was a consolation peace could be obtained, consistent with to us that this country had no share in prothe honour of the country, but which we ducing them. It appeared to him, howecould never consent to obtain by making ver, that it was highly laudable in his nahumiliating sacrifices. The valour which jesty's ministers, the moment they found a had continued to be displayed by his ma disposition in Prussia to make an effort jesty's fleets and armies, was an amply suffi- against France, to seize the opportunity of cient pledge of our superiority; our little ottering such support and such assistance army, if he might call it so, in Calabria, to Prussia as circumstances might require. had bravely and victoriously sustained the It afforded the greatest satisfaction to witBritish character, whilst our fleets had ness the conduct of Sweden, and of our every where maintained their accustomed faithful ally Russia, of whose good faith superiority. With all these advantages, we had received the most gratifying proofs. and with the great sources of our prosperity The valour of our fleets and armies was a and strength unimpaired, we might look theme for the highest praise, and bade us forward with confidence to the result. Re-despise the threats of the enemy, although lying upon ourselves, and united in senti- no ineans ought to be omitted in order to ment and in action, we miglit set our ene- guard against a possible attack. In this my at defiance, and finally, he trusted, point of view be highly approved of the bring this great coutest to a successful and measures which his majesty's ministers had glorious issue. The noble earl concluded brought forward for increasing the military with moving, " That an humble address force of the country, and although it had be presented to his majesty;" which ad- been said, that they had damped the spirit dress was, as usual, an echo of his ma- of the volunteers, he believed that very few jesty's speech, and nearly the same as of that highly meritorious body of men bad that which we insert in this day's pro- quitted their standards. At a crisis like ceedings of the house of commons; see the present, he trusted, that the house page 39. After the address had been read would set an example of unanimity, in by the lord chancellor, and again by the pledging themselves to a firm and vigorous clérk at the table,
prosecution of the war. Our present si Lord Somers presented himself to their tuation called for the exertion of all the lordships. He rose, he said, to second energies of the country, with spirit and the address wbich had been proposed by unanimity, and, he had no doubt, that the noble earl. Concurring as he did that spirit and unanimity would be dis
The most pro
played both by the parliament and the he had mentioned, The dissolution of people.
1784 was one 10 which there could be no Lord Hawkesbury said, he should not objection; it was unavoidable. At that think he had discharged bis duty, if he time a misunderstanding subsisted between allowed the address to pass without offering the crown and the house of commons, some observations on the speech which with respect to the government. Whenoccasioned it. He would first embrace ever such an unhappy difference did arise, the opportunity of expressing bis satisfac- there was but one way of composing it; tion at the able manner in which the ad- either the crown must yield, or dissolve dress was moved by the noble earl, of the parliament. But had any circumstance whose friendship he was happy to boast. recurred to justify the late dissolution? Far He agreed with his noble friend in every from it; and yet ministers, without a cause general sentiment which fell from him. assigned, or indeed assignable, took upon They, as well as the manner in which them to advise a dissolution, for no other they were delivered, called for the appro-object that he could discover, than that, to bation of both sides of the house. No theni, no doubt, a most urgent one, of a party-spirit should ever induce him to little convenience. He could find no cause, withbold his concurrence and applause except that which he had just stated, to from sentiments befitting the great crisis warrant such a measure. in which we were placed, and particularly bable was, that of the rupture of the negowhen they were expressed by a nobleman, ciation with France ; but let their lord. for whom he had the greatest personal ships see how that question stood. Whatregard. There were, however, circumstan- ever difference of opinion might have ex. ces connected with the speech froin the isted with respect to many of the measures throne, to which he could not avoid cal- pursued by ministers, on no subject which ling the attention of their lordships. The ever engaged the attention of the country first point upon which he should observe, had there been such complete unanimity as was one not openly mentioned in the in regard to supporting his majesty in the speech, but indirectly alluded to ; he meant prosecution of the war. Upon other questhe dissolution of parliament. It was not tions tbere might have been a difference of his intention to question the king's power opinion, but upon this vital subject there to dissolve parliameut; that part of the was none. Whatever shade of difference prerogative he allowed in its fullest extent there was, was on the part of those who and plenitude. He admitted that it was a disapproved of the other measures of miprerogative which was inherent in bim in its pisters. Their opponents were supposed strongest sense. If it were possible that to be more earuest for the prosecution of parliament could acquire legal permanence, the war, than his majesty's government for ever so sbort a time, independent of the was. There was also another measure of crown, there would be no security for the mo- ministers, of which he could not approve ; narchy. But this, like every part of the pre- he meant the Declaration which had been rogative, should be exercised with a whole-issued pending the suspension of parliament. some and sound discretion. If it should be The country was not in a condition to judge found to have been exercised with levity, or of that declaration, except it were accoinwithout a due necessity, it was a measure panied by the documents upon which it for which ministers would incur a very was founded, If the rupture of the negoweighty responsibility. What was there ciation overwhelmed ministers with any in ihe state of the country to have apprehensiou or difficulty, the fair mode justified the late unexpected and prema- would have been, not to have dissolved ture dissolution of parliament of a par- parliament, but to have called the existing liament which had only sat 4 sessions, and parliament together, and submitted the which had nearly three years to run i From whole grounds of the negociation to it. He the passing of the septennial act in the would not accuse ministers of any intenyear 1715, almost 90 years ago, except in tion to deceive the country, but the dissothe precedent of 1784, upon which he lution certainly had the effect of surprising should say a few words before he sat down, it. In corroboration of what he had ad. there was no instance of a parliament being vanced, he would only call to their lorddissolved under six sessions. There was ships' recollection, an address which had tio iustauce, he would repeat his assertion, been published in the county of Norfolk. except a demise of the crown, and the one in that address a right hon. gent. (Mr.
Windham), who was the last person in the topics not alluded to in the speech, to which world he should suppose capable of deceit, he should call the attention of their lordhad told the county, that, as far as he ships. He would say notbing at present knew, there was no intention to dissolve of the expeditions which sailed from the the parliament. The consequence was, that enemy's ports, two of which had committed the whole kingdom was led to believe that such devastation in the West Indies ; but all reports to that effect were unfounded he could not be silent on the subject of and premature. Subsequent to this a pro- the expeditions which had been fitted out clamation appeared, in which a day was from this country. One of these remained fixed for calling parliament together for three months in the Downs-a delay perfectdispatch of business; and yet, notwithstand ly inexplicable to hiin, but for which howing these repeated assurances, a dissolution ever it was possible ministers, when the subwas announced, to the surprise and astonish-ject came to be discussed, might be able to ment of the whole kingdom. The persons adduce sufficient reasons. Causes bad been who advised this measure had much to assigned for this delay by rumour which answer for.- Notwithstanding the silence could scarcely become the subject of deof the speech, he could not avoid saying a bate in that house, but to which he could few words upon the military measures to not avoid alluding. It had been said that which the noble baron who preceded him, difficulties had arisen in consequence of alluded with so much satisfaction. When the appointment of an officer to the chief the persons composing the present admi- command of a rank interior to that from nistration, lamented the inadequacy of which officers for commands in chief were the measures of their predecessors, it was usually taken. This was a point which he naturally to be expected that they had a could not argue in that house, but when system of more energy and efficiency to such men as general Spencer, and sir Arthur propose. But what did they do? They Wellesley, officers who had been engaged began with overturning the whole of the in service in almost every part of the world, ancient system for keeping up the army; were passed over in order to give a command they proposed measures, the instantaneous to an officer of inferior rank, it naturally effect of which was to damp the spirit of the excited some surprise, and inight not exvolunteers; they proposed measures which actly accord with the feelings of officers of were productive of an enorinous expence, superior rank, who had been engaged in a and which, he would venture to assert, had variety of service; not that he meant to entirely disappointed even the expectations insinuate that the officer appointed to the of those from whom they were supposed to command to which he had alluded was not origivate. One of their measures, the perfectly fitted for that situation by talents Training act, was never carried into exe- and military skill.--Ile would next come cution ; nor an attempt was made to put it to the mosi material point alluded to in in force. He was glad there had noi; for the speech from the throne. With respect of that measure, which had been brought to the disasters which had fallen upon forward with so much parade, and upon Prussia, he agreed with his noble friend, which such reliance appeared to be placed, that there could be but one feeling in the he had but one opinion ; namely, that it nouse. With respect to the cause of those was either impracticable, or that it would disasters, it was impossible that any two only be carried into effect with a degree of inen could differ. It arose from the narvexation and inconvenience totally repug- row policy in which Prussia had encircled nant to the natural feelings of the people. herself. Had his Prussian majesty, or -With respect to the regular recruiting, those who advised him, consulted bistory, he wished to know how far the new system they would have discovered that they who had been more productive than that which lent their aid to have others devoured, was so improvidently superseded by it. would be at last devoured themselves. He What, then, he would ask, had those new approved as much as any of his majesty's military measures produced ? it was noto. ministers, of the proceedings which had rious that the military defence of the been adopted towards Prussia on account country was not now near so considerable of her unjust aggression upon Hanover, as it was 12 months ago. But all these, and the measures which she submitted to notwithstanding the silence of the speech, against the commerce of this country. He must be the subject of future discussion in approved also of the manner in which we parliament.--There were also some other suspended our particular quarrel, when she