« AnteriorContinuar »
pily and aptly applied to the state of France; I penditure of its government. Suppose, then, the and the low and let us see what inference it fur- heir of the house of Bourbon reinstated on ihe state of the nishes with respect to the probable at-throne, he will have sufficient occupation in enfunds. tachment of moneyed men to the contin- deavoring, if possible, to heal the wounds, and uance of the revolutionary system, as well as gradually to repair the losses of ten years of with respect to the general state of public credit civil convulsion; to reanimate the drooping comin that country. I do not, indeed, know that merce, to rekindle the industry, to replace the there exists precisely any fund of three per cents capital, and to revive the manufactures of the in France, to furnish a test for the patriotism country. Under such circumstances, there must and public spirit of the lovers of French liberty. probably be a considerable interval before such But there is another fund which may equally a monarch, whatever may be his views, can posanswer our purpose. The capital of three per sess the power which can make him formidable cent. stock which formerly existed in France to Europe ; but while the system of the Rerolahas undergone a whimsical operation, similar to tion continues, the case is quite different. It is many other expedients of finance which we have true, indeed, that even the gigantic and unnatuseen in the course of the Revolution. This was ral means by which that Revolution has been performed by a decree which, as they termed it, supported are so far impaired; the influence of republicanized their debt; that is, in other words, its principles and the terror of its arms so far struck off at once two thirds of the capital, and weakened; and its power of action so much con. left the proprietors to take their chance for the tracted and circumscribed, that against the empayment of interest on the remainder. This bodied force of Europe, prosecuting a vigorous remnant was afterward converted into the pres. war, we may justly hope that the remnant and ent five per cent. stock. I had the curiosity very wreck of this system can not long oppose an eflately to inquire what price it bore in the mark- fectual resistance. et, and I was told that the price had somewhat But, supposing the confederacy of Europe pre. risen from confidence in the new government, maturely dissolved; supposing our ar- Bat
But the power and was actually as high as seventeen. I really mies disbanded, our fleets laid up in of Bonaparte,
in the ereat of at first supposed that my informer meant seven our harbors, our exertions relaxed, a prerastane
peace, mutbe teen years purchase for every pound of inter- and our means of precaution and de- ferribly eat est, and I began to be almost jealous of revolu- / fense relinquished ; do we believe plosed. tionary credit ; but I soon found that he liter- that the revolutionary power, with this rest and ally meant seventeen pounds for every hundred breathing time given it to recover from the pounds capital stock of five per cent., that is a pressure under which it is now sinking, possess. little more than three and a half years' purchase. ing still the means of calling suddenly and vioSo much for the value of revolutionary proper- | lently into action whatever is the remaining ty, and for the attachment with which it must physical force of France, under the guidance of inspire its possessors toward the system of gov- military despotism; do we believe that this rereroment to which that value is to be ascribed! olutionary power, the terror of which is now be
On the question, sir, how far the restoration ginning to vanish, will not again prove formidaDesirable of the French monarchy, if practicable, ble to Europe ? Can we forget that in the ten return of the is desirable, I shall not think it neces- years in which that power has subsisted, it has Bourbons. sary to say much. Can it be supposed brought more misery on surrounding nations, to be indifferent to us or to the world, whether and produced more acts of aggression, cruelty, the throne of France is to be filled by a Prince perfidy, and enormous ambition than can be of the house of Bourbon, or by him whose prin- traced in the history of France for the centuries ciples and conduct I have endeavored to devel which have elapsed since the foundation of its op? Is it nothing, with a view to influence and monarchy, including all the wars which, in the example, whether the fortune of this last adven- course of that period, have been waged by any turer in the lottery of revolutions shall appear of those sovereigns, whose projects of aggrandto be permanent ? Is it nothing whether a sys izement and violations of treaty afford a constant tem shall be sanctioned which confirms, by one theme of general reproach against the ancient of its fundamental articles, that general transfer government of France ? And if not, can we of property from its ancient and lawful possess- hesitate whether we have the best prospect of ors, which holds out one of the most terrible ex- permanent peace, the best security for the inde. amples of national injustice, and which has fur- pendence and safety of Europe from the restoranished the great source of revolutionary finance tion of the lawful government, or from the conand revolutionary strength against all the pow- tinuance of revolutionary power in the hands of ers of Europe ?
Bonaparte ? In the exhausted and impoverished state of In compromise and treaty with such a power,
not. France, it seems for a time impossi- | placed in such hands as now exercise No security if rostored, be' ble that any system but that of rob- it, and retaining the same means of this the rest of Eu. bery and confiscation, any thing but annoyance which it now possesses, I trament
the continued torture, which can be see little hope of permanent security. I see no applied only by the engines of the Revolution, possibility at this moment of such a peace as can extort from its ruined inhabitants more than would justify that liberal intercourse which is the means of supporting in peace the yearly ex- I the essence of real amity; no chance of termin
ness of the easi
They could not,
hin will be per The negotia.
atiog in 1796-7.
ating the expenses or the anxieties of war, or of public opinion. Such a concurrence in the strong restoring to us any of the advantages of estab- and vigorous measures necessary for the purpose lished tranquillity; and, as a sincere lover of could not then be expected, but from satisfying peace, I can not be content with its nominal at the country, by the strongest and most decided tainment. I must be desirous of pursuing that proofs, that peace, on terms in any degree admissystem which promises to attain, in the end, the sible, was unattainable. permanent enjoyment of its solid and substantial Under this impression, we thought it our duty blessings for this country and for Europe. As to attempt negotiation, not from the ti a sincere lover of peace, I will not sacrifice it sanguine hope, even at that time, that tion, though
unsuccession, by grasping at the shadow when the reality is its result could atlord us complete se produced the not substantially within my reach.
curity, but from the persuasion that sules in En. Cur igitur pacem nolo ? Quia infida est, the danger arising from peace, under gland. quia periculosa, quia esse non potest.29
such circumstances, was less than that of conIf, sir, in all that I have now offered to the tinuing the war with precarious and inadequate House, I have succeeded in establishing the means. The result of those negotiations proved proposition that the system of the French Rev. that the enemy would be satisfied with nothing olution has been such as to afford to foreign less than the sacrifice of the honor and independpowers no adequate ground for security in ne-ence of the country. From this conviction, a gotiation, and that the change which has recent- spirit and enthusiasm was excited in the nation ly taken place has not yet afforded that security; which produced the efforts to which we are inif I have laid before you a just statement of the debted for the subsequent change in our situanature and extent of the danger with which we tion. Having witnessed that happy change, have been threatened, it would remain only having observed the increasing prosperity and shortly to consider whether there is any thing in security of the country from that period, seeing the circumstances of the present moment to in- how much more satisfactory our prospects now duce us to accept a security confessedly inade are than any which we could then have derived quate against a danger of such a description. from the successful result of negotiation, I have
It will be necessary here to say a few words not scrupled to declare that I consider the rupture Mr Pilleren on the subject on which gentlemen of the negotiation, on the part of the enemy, as sons for negoti have been so fond of dwelling, I a fortunate circumstance for the country. But
te mean our former negotiations, and because these are my sentiments at this time, particularly that at Lisle, in 1797. I am de- after reviewing what has since passed, does it sirous of stating frankly and openly the true follow that we were at that time insincere in motives which induced me to concur in then rec- endeavoring to obtain peace? The learned genommending negotiation; and I will leave it to the tleman, indeed, assumes that we were, and he House and to the country to judge whether our even makes a concession, of which I desire not conduct at that time was inconsistent with the to claim the benefit. He is willing to admit that, principles by which we are guided at present. on our principles and our view of the subject, in. That revolutionary policy which I have endeav- sincerity would have been justifiable. I know, ored to describe, that gigantic system of prodi- sir, no plea that would justify those who are gality and bloodshed by which the efforts of intrusted with the conduct of public affairs in France were supported, and which counts for holding out to Parliament and to the nation one nothing the lives and the property of a nation, object, while they were, in fact, pursuing anhad at that period driven us to exertions which other. I did, in fact, believe, at the moment, had, in a great measure, exhausted the ordinary the conclusion of peace, if it could have been obmeans of defraying our immense expenditure, tained, to be preferable to the continuance of the and had led many of those who were the most war under its increasing risks and difficulties. convinced of the original justice and necessity I therefore wished for peace; I sincerely labored of the war, and of the danger of Jacobin princi- for peace. Our endeavors were frustrated by ples, to doubt the possibility of persisting in it, the act of the enemy. If, then, the circumstantill complete and adequate security could be ob- ces are since changed; if what passed at that tained. There seemed, too, much reason to be- period has afforded a proof that the object we lieve that, without some new measure to check aimed at was unattainable ; and if all that has the rapid accumulation of debt, we could no passed since has proved that, provided peace had longer trust to the stability of that funding sys been then made, it could not have been durable, tem by which the nation had been enabled to are we bound to repeat the same experiment, support the expense of all the different wars in when every reason against it is strengthened by which we have engaged in the course of the subsequent experience, and when the inducepresent century. In order to continue our ex- ments which led to it at that time have ceased ertions with vigor, it became necessary that a to exist ? new and solid system of finance should be estab. When we consider the resources and the spirit lished, such as could not be rendered effectual of the country, can any man doubt that per but by the general and decided concurrence of if adequate security is not now to be increase of
29 Why, then, am I against peace? Because it obtained by treaty, we have the means is faithless, because it is dangerous, because it can of prosecuting the contest without material diffinot be maintained.
| culty or danger, and with a reasonable prospect
628 MR. PITT ON HIS REFUSAL TO NEGOTIATE WITH BONAPARTE. [1800. of completely attaining our object? I will not first occasion may call forth into a flame-if, I dwell on the improved state of public credit, on say, sir, this comparison be just, I feel myself aqthe continually increasing amount, in spite of ex- thorized to conclude from it, not that we are entraordinary temporary burdens, of our permanent titled to consider ourselves certain of ultimate revenue, on the yearly accession of wealth to an success, not that we are to suppose ourselves ex. extent unprecedented even in the most flourish empted from the unforeseen vicissitudes of war; ing times of peace, which we are deriving, in the but that, considering the value of the object for midst of war, from our extended and flourishing which we are contending, the means for supportcommerce; on the progressive improvement and ing the contest, and the probable course of hugrowth of our manufactures; on the proofs which man events, we should be inexcusable, if at this we see on all sides of the uninterrupted accumu- moment we were to relinquish the struggle on lation of productive capital; and on the active ex- any grounds short of entire and complete secu. ertion of every branch of national industry which rity; that from perseverance in our efforts under can tend to support and augment the population, such circumstances, we have the fairest reason the riches, and the power of the country? to expect the full attainment of our object; but
As little need I recall the attention of the that at all events, even if we are disappointed in Recent House to the additional means of action our more sanguine hopes, we are more likely to victories, which we have derived from the great gain than to lose by the continuation of the conaugmentation of our disposable military force, test; that every month to which it is continued, the continued triumphs of our powerful and vic- even if it should not in its effects lead to the final torious navy, and the events which, in the course destruction of the Jacobin system, must tend so of the last two years, have raised the military far to weaken and exhaust it, as to give us at ardor and military glory of the country to a least a greater comparative security in any termheight unexampled in any period of our history. ination of the war; that, on all these grounds,
In addition to these grounds of reliance on our this is not the moment at which it is consisient u nid valor own strength and exertions, we have with our interest or our duty to listen to any proof our allies. seen the consummate skill and valor | posals of negotiation with the present ruler of of the arms of our allies proved by that series of France; but that we are not, therefore, pledged unexampled success in the course of the last cam- to any unalterable determination as to our future paign, and we have every reason to expect a co-conduct; that in this we must be regulated by operation on the continent, even to a greater ex- the course of events; and that it will be the duty tent, in the course of the present year. If we com- of his Majesty's ministers from time to time to pare this view of our own situation with every adapt their measures to any variation of circumthing we can observe of the state and condition of stances, to consider how far the effects of the our enemy-if we can trace him laboring under military operations of the allies or of the internal equal difficulty in finding men to recruit his army, disposition of France correspond with our present or money to pay it—if we know that in the course expectations; and, on a view of the whole, to of the last year the most rigorous efforts of military compare the difficulties or risks which may arise Exhausted state conscription were scarcely sufficient in the prosecution of the contest with the pros. of the French. to replace to the French armies, at pect of ultimate success, or of the degree of adthe end of the campaign, the numbers which vantage to be derived from its further continu. they had lost in the course of it—if we have seen ance, and to be governed by the result of all these that that force, then in possession of advantages considerations in the opinion and advice which which it has since lost, was unable to contend they may offer to their sovereign. with the efforts of the combined armies--if we know that, even while supported by the plunder of all the countries which they had overrun, those Notwithstanding the deep impression made by armies were reduced, by the confession of their Mr. Fox in reply, the address was carried by a commanders, to the extremity of distress, and vote of 265 to 64. The result, however, paindestitute not only of the principal articles of fully disappointed the expectations of Mr. Pitt. military supply, but almost of the necessaries of It seemed to be his fate, throughout the war. to life if we see them now driven back within be deceived on the two points dwelt upon in his their own frontiers, and confined within a coun. peroration, viz., the skill and valor of his allies try whose own resources have long since been , and the exhausted state of the French. The proclaimed by their successive governments to former were uniformly out-generaled and defeatbe unequal either to paying or maintaining them ed, while the latter grew continually in spirit
-if we observe that since the last revolution and resources. The reader will see at the conno one substantial or effectual measure has been clusion of Mr. Fox's speech in reply to this, a adopted to remedy the intolerable disorder of their slight sketch of the events which followed during finances, and to supply the deficiency of their the two subsequent years—the entire discomfitcredit and resources—if we see through large ure of the allies, their withdrawal from the conand populous districts of France, either open war test, the resignation of Mr. Pitt, and the conclulevied against the present usurpation, or evident sion of the peace of Amiens in 1802, to the great marks of disunion and distraction, which the joy of the English.
Thomas ERSKINE, youngest son of the Earl of Buchan, was born at Edinburgh, on the 10th day of January, 1750. The family had once been eminent for rank and wealth ; but their ample patrimony being gradually wasted, the income of their estates was at last reduced to two hundred pounds a year. To conceal their poverty, they removed to the capital from an old castle, which was all that was left of their wide domains; and “in a small and ill-furnished room in an upper flat, or story, of a lofty house in the old town of Edinburgh, first saw the light the Honorable Thomas Erskine, the future defender of Stockdale, and Lord Chancellor of Great Britain.”
Young Erskine displayed in very early life that quickness of intellect and joyous hilarity of spirits for which he was so remarkable throughout his professional career. He was kept for some years at the High School of Edinburgh, and then removed to the University of St. Andrew's, where he spent less than two years. His early education was, therefore, extremely limited. He had but little knowledge of Latin, and none of Greek.' In the rudiments of English literature, however, he was uncommonly well instructed for one of his age. He profited greatly by conversation with his mother, who was a woman of uncommon strength of mind, and owed much of the daring energy of his character to her example and instructions. Being accustomed, notwithstanding the poverty of the family, to associate from childhood with persons of high rank and breeding, he early acquired that freedom and nobleness of manner for which he was so much distinguished in after life. He was the favorite of all who knew him—of his masters, his school-mates, and the families in which he visited. Full of fun and frolic, with a lively fancy, ready wit, and unbounded self-reliance, he found his chief delight in society; and probably laid the foundation, at this early period, of those extraordinary powers of conversation to which he was greatly indebted for his subsequent success. He was one of the few who seem to have gained by being left chiefly to themselves in their early years. If he had less learning, he had more freedom and boldness; and when the time arrived for his entering into the conflicts of the bar, it is not surprising that, with high native talent, extraordinary capacity for application, and a self-confidence amounting to absolute egotism, he was able to put forth his powers, under the impulse of strong motive, with prodigious effect, and to make himself, without any preparatory training, one of the most ready and eloquent speakers of the age.
He showed a great desire from boyhood to be fitted for one of the learned professions, and had even then his dreams of distinction in eloquence; but the poverty of his father forbade the attempt. At the age of fourteen, he was placed as a midshipman in the navy, and was commended to the particular care of his captain by Lord Mansfield, who took a lively interest in the Buchan family. He now spent four years in visiting various parts of the globe, particularly the West Indies and the coast of North America. He was often on shore ; and it was probably on one of these occasions that he witnessed that meeting of an Indian chief with the governor of a British colony, which he described so graphically in his defense of Stockdale, and made the starting-point of one of the noblest bursts of eloquence in our language.
1 Lord Brougham speaks of him as having “hardly any access to the beauties of Attic eloquence, whether in prose or verse;" but Lord Campbell goes farther, and says, “ he learned little of Greek beyond the alphabet."
At the end of four years he returned to England ; the ship was paid off, and he was cast without employment on the world. At this moment of deep perplexity his father died, leaving him but a scanty pittance for his support. After consulting with his friends, he saw no course but to try his fortune in the army; and accordingly he spent the whole of his little patrimony in purchasing an ensign's commission in the Royals, or First Regiment of Foot. The regiment remained for some years at home, and was quartered, from time to time, in different provincial towns. Erskine, with his habitual buoyancy of spirits, mingled in the best society of the places where he was stationed, and attracted great attention by the elegance of his manners and the brilliancy of his conversation. He at last became entangled with an affair of the heart; and was married in April, 1770, at the age of twenty, to a lady of respectable family, though without fortune—the daughter of Daniel Moore, Esq., member of Parliament for Marlow.
This rash step would to most persons have been the certain precursor of poverty and ruin ; but in his case it was a fortunate one. It served to balance his mind, to check his natural volatility, to impress him with a sense of new obligations and higher duties. The regiment was ordered to Minorca, where he spent two years in almost uninterrupted leisure. In the society of his wife, he now entered on the systematic study of English literature, and probably no two years were ever better spent for the purposes of mental culture. As a preparation for his future efforts in oratory, they were invaluable. In addition to his reading in prose, he devoted himself with great ardor to the study of Milton and Shakspeare. A large part of the former he committed to memory, and became so familiar with the latter, that “ he could almost, like Porson, have held conversations on all subjects for days together in the phrases of the great English dramatist.” Here he acquired that fine choice of words, that rich and varied imagery, that sense of harmony in the structure of his sentences, that boldness of thought and magnificence of expression, for which he was afterward so much distinguished. It may also be remarked, that there are passages in both these writers which are the exact counterpart of the finest eloquence of the ancients. The speeches, in the second book of the Paradise Lost, have all the condensed energy and burning force of expression which belong to the great Athenian orator. The speech of Brutus, in Shakspeare's Julius Cæsar, has all the stern majesty of Roman eloquence. That of Anthony over the dead body of Cæsar is a matchless exhibition of the art and dexterity of insinuation which characterized the genius of the Greeks. It is not in regard to poetry alone that we may say of these great masters,
Hither, as to a fountain,
Draw golden light.
In the year 1772 the regiment returned to England, and the young ensign obtained a furlough of six months. Most of this time he spent in the best society of London ; and Boswell speaks of Johnson and himself as dining, April 6, 1772, with “ a young officer in the regimentals of the Scots Royals, who talked with a vivacity, fluency, and precision which attracted particular attention.” It was Erskine, who, with his characteristic boldness, entered at once into a literary discussion with Johnson, disputing his views on the comparative merits of Fielding and Richardson in a manner which rather gained him the favor of the great English moralist.