« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
forebode a benefit to arise to this country from the dereliction of Russia; I hope, my lords, we shall become independent of her for ever. If the legislature of these kingdoms will grant a liberal bounty to encourage the cultivation of hemp and flax, both at home and in the British colonies, we may yet live to greet the day of our quarrel with Russia, and even hail with satisfaction the inauspicious Treaty of Tilsit. With respect to the other powers of Europe, my lords, with the single exception of Sweden, they are prostrate at the feet of France, and until national energy and spirit returns, they must obey the mandates of their domineering master. But the conduct and spirit of the independent monarch of Sweden merits every eulogium; may he be successful to the last, and may we grant him all that aid so pointedly recommended by his majesty, and which such constancy and courage deserve! I trust, my lords, a British force will aid him in the Baltic, to defy his enemies, and that British gratitude will compensate any loss that he may be obliged to suffer, by transferring to him some of those colonies we can so well spare, and must soon take from our joint foes. My lords, I wish it was possible to animadvert with satisfaction upon the conduct of the United States of America; local knowledge, obtained by me at the early periods of the French revolution, enables me to form a very decided opinion with respect to that country, and I am sorry to say, my lords, I cannot form a flattering one. I am, however, happy to learn, by the tenor of the speech, that it is not the intention of his majesty's government to concede one point more to that illiberal and prejudiced people. My lords, we must make a stand somewhere; and where can we do it better than in defence of our seamen and our trade; which they unequivocally demand? If America prefers French alliance to British connection, it is not in your lordships power to controul her choice; nor can you prevent that war, which I do not wish to see take place; but which, if it does take place, my lords, I am confident, if pursued by us with judgment and reference to the American character and situation, no man need fear. With respect to the affair of the Chesapeake frigate, my lords, as a naval officer I may be permitted to be a little prejudiced, and to hold an opinion in some small degree differing, perhaps, from his majesty's government. It is not, however,
my intention to dispute the accuracy of their proclamation lately issued, nor the principle of respect which is due to national ships of war, as applicable to the governments and nations of Europe; but as merited by America, if all the detail of that transaction was before your lordships, I am inclined to think you yourselves would question. However, my lords, while the American navy is confined to a few frigates, the compensation that has been made may not be of material import; how far it may affect us hereafter, time only can shew. But, my lords, our chief concern is with France, with whom some individuals would make a peace. I have taken the liberty, my lords, to write down some of her sentiments upon this subject, as described, in what we may call her official paper, and wherein she informs you, conformably to her practice since the earliest periods of her revolution, of the conduct she means to pursue, and from which she has never varied, but from necessity alone. She proclaims, my lords, "That she will not lay down her arms, but will augment her force, until she has conquered the liberties of the seas, the first right of all nations." In recommending to us an armed truce, which she calls a peace, she says, "It shall endure until she chuses to proclaim anew the principles of her armed neutrality, when she permits you to proclaim your principles of maritime law?"-Now, my lords, is this that which you are willing to accept as your peace? Have we already forgot the peace of Amiens? Do we wish to see her seamen all restored, and the pendants of her ships going up, when ours will necessarily be coming down? Never will I believe that the good sense of this country will entertain the idea of peace, until moderation marks the conduct of this enemy, for his professions are not worthy of reflection. I am glad to see a great commercial city think like me, and I hope her opinions and example will be imitated by others. My lords, although the arms of Europe may appear on the side of France, I cannot believe their hearts are against this country. remain firm and unappalled, as recommended by his majesty and exemplified by himself, some balance may yet be served in Europe; if we yield, no man can foresee the consequences. Having now, my lords, though in a very inadequate manner, animadverted upon the prominent features of the speech, I shall
conclude my address to your lordships, in what may be termed a trite and common manner; but it is neither, on that account, the less appropriate nor required. I allude, my lords, to my hopes, that I may receive the unanimous concurrence of your lordships to the Address I am about to propose. Parliament was never assembled, my lords, at a period when the example of unanimity would be so beneficial: I therefore solicit it. To mark to the enemy we are unanimous in our opposition to him; to manifest to the people of this country we are unanimous, when their first and most essential interests are concerned; and to shew to his majesty that undiminished respect and attachment so much his due; to do our duty, my lords, in imitation of him, who through a long, arduous, but a glorious reign, has so conspicuously done his.-The noble earl concluded by moving an Address to his Majesty, which Address was, as usual, an echo of his majesty's speech, and nearly the same as that which we insert in this day's proceedings of the house of com
any noble lord in the house the vast importance of their coming to an unanimous vote upon the present occasion, and therefore he was sorry that not the least tittle of information had been given to one of the most material points in his majesty's speech, as the want of that information might render the unanimity extremely doubtful. The point he alluded to was the expedition to Copenhagen, and he could not enforce its importance in stronger terms that those which his majesty had been advised to make use of in his speech; for it was therein stated, that it was with the utmost reluctance that the orders had been given; but of the nature of the cause for surmounting that reluctance, and attacking even the capital of, he might say, an ally, their lordships were left in perfect ignorance, and to all appearance were so to remain; for although it was noticed that orders had been given for laying various other papers before parliament, not a single document relative to Denmark was alluded to. The noble lord who moved the address had said, he should listen with curiosity to any arguments Lord Kenyon rose, and in a speech of which might be attempted against that some length supported the address. We transaction; for that noble lord he had have to express our regret that the tone of the highest respect, and consequently could voice was so low in which the noble lord entertain no doubt but he sincerely apdelivered himself, as to render it inaudible proved of an action which he so much exbelow the bar. We understood him to tolled; but then, he must suppose that applaud decisively the Expedition to Den- noble lord had been made acquainted with mark, as a measure of wise and vigorous those particulars, and that information, policy, and one productive of the most which he thought the whole house was salutary consequences; sentiments which entitled to have, nay, ought to have, behe thought must be felt by every indi- fore they came to a resolution for the vidual in the kingdom. He also adverted to approval of such a measure. The noble the unprincipled and ambitious projects of duke said, he did not wish it to be underthe enemy, among which he included the stood that he meant to condemn the expeimminent danger of Turkey, a consider-dition; for, perhaps, if he was as well ation which he seemed to think worthy of the serious attention of the British government. He thought the address, when he recollected the language held out by certain noble lords at successive periods, could not consistently meet with opposition from any quarter. He also adverted to our dispute with America, and applauded the spirit with which his majesty's ministers had conducted themselves in not surrendering the naval rights of the country to the claims of those people; and concluded by hoping that all trifling differences of opinion would, on this occasion, give way to the public good, and that all their lordships would be unanimous in voting for the address.
The Duke of Norfolk felt as much as
informed as he presumed the noble lord must be, he might be as great an advocate for it as the noble lord himself; but until he had sufficient reason, he could not bring his mind to approve of attacking a power with whom we had been so long in amity, and who had given so many instances of attachment to this country; and therefore, as no information was either offered or promised, he should move as an Amendment to the Address, "That the whole paragraph approving the late expedition to Denmark should be omitted." There were other parts that he did not entirely approve, but he would not detain their lordships by animadverting upon them at present, and therefore concluded by moving the above amendment.
Lord Sidmouth began with expressing his by any other means; for, certainly, the regret, that the speech had not been so con- calamity inflicted was not proportioned to structed as to ensure the unanimity of all the calamity apprehended. He hoped, parties. He lamented that ministers had for the honour of the nation, it would be not abstained from introducing topics upon made evident that the danger was great. which a difference of opinion was likely to He could not give his assent to the opi-, prevail. He fully agreed with the noble nion, that if Holstein were occupied by baron, who seconded the motion, that it the French, Zealand would be at their was desirable in the highest degree, that mercy. Nothing but such a frost as all minor contests should be absorbed in would render the Great Belt passable by the great contest in which we were en- an army, could have endangered the safety gaged. He lamented exceedingly, that of that island. He had conversed with he found it impossible to concur in the many naval and military persons of great expressions of approbation which were experience, and they fully acquiesced in unfortunately introduced in the address; this opinion. His lordship used many but he could not, consistently with his other arguments to prove the impractica duty to his sovereign, or his respect for bility of the French getting to Zealand, his own character, concur in approving and thereby obtaining possession of the what had taken place at Copenhagen, Danish fleet; but, supposing they had, he without further information. On that mo- would not so derogate from the valour, mentous measure, he trusted ministers the activity, and the exalted character of would yet be able to lay such documents the British navy, as to admit for one mobefore the house as would justify an enter- ment, that any well-grounded apprehenprize deeply involving the honour and cha- ons was to be entertained from the addiracter of the nation. The noble earl had tion of 16 sail of the line to the maritime set out with stating, that Denmark, for strength of the enemy. The ships were several years past, had indicated an hostile much inferior to British, French, or Spadisposition towards this country. In what nish: but it was not ships, but men, that were these indications manifested? Were this country wanted. If our dangers were they indicated in the conduct of that power not increased by the attack upon Copenwhen the British fleet entered the Baltic ? hagen, those of our ally certainly were. At that time the Danish army was in Did ministers never contemplate the posHolstein, prepared to resist the French, or sibility of that measure being retorted any other power that should attempt to upon powers for which they must feel inteviolate their neutrality. Was the Danish rested? had they no apprehension that navy prepared either to make or repel an Russia, France and Denmark might be attack? He should be told, that the quan- brought to coalesce against Sweden?— tity of naval stores collected in the arsenal Having briefly touched upon them in the of Copenhagen was a proof of the hostile commencement of his speech, he would not intentions of that court. These, it was lay any further stress upon the contradicsaid, were collected on account of France, tory statements respecting the measures and for French purposes. But these could which were adopted in consequence of not have been the motives of the expe- the result of the negotiations of Tilsit. He dition to the Baltic. When did this per- should have been more disposed to apfect understanding between Denmark and prove what they had done in the Baltic, France take place? Was it before or after if they had acted consistently. If they the peace of Tilsit? The Definitive Treaty had attacked Cronstadt, taken possession between France and Russia was signed on of the Russian navy, and by such an enthe 8th of July, and lord Gambier entered terprize made us the undisputed masters the Baltic on the 3d of August. This cir- of that sea, such an act would have been cumstance was sufficient to prove that consistent with the magnanimity of justice, ministers did not act upon any information and it was much more practicable than they had obtained of the secret engage- might be conceived. All the wars, from ments entered into between France and the accession of king William to the preRussia, and in which they would have it sent hour, in which this country was ento be understood Denmark concurred. To gaged, had been founded upon the princijustify, therefore, the attack upon Copen-ple of upholding the law of nations; and hagen, it ought to have been proved that the danger was a danger of great magnitude, and such as could not be warded off
this was particularly the case with respect to the war which commenced in 1793, and which had continued with little interrup
tion ever since. From that great princi- | ple, he could admit no deviation. On these grounds, therefore, he could not, with the present means of information which he had on the subject,vote for an unqualified approbation of the expedition to Copenhagen. There was one part of the address, however, from which he could not withhold his unqualified approbation. He could not speak in terms of adequate applause of the emigration of the court of Lisbon. It was a measure which reflected immortal honour upon the sovereign of that country, and which promised the greatest advantages to England, not immediately indeed, but ultimately. That measure, in every view which he had been able to take of it, opened the most cheering prospect to this nation. With regard to the dispute with America, on the question of our maritime rights, he thought the government had acted wisely in the late Order issued by them, in which they did not insist on the right to search ships of war. We should not be carried away with an idea of our power; and our restrictive policy should be commensurate to the exigency of the case. He wished it had been long before made known that it was not right to search ships of war on the high seas. He earnestly recommended to ministers to inquire into the state of the West India colonies; and to afford them some relief in their distressed situation. The noble viscount, adverting to the subject of peace, took occasion to applaud the conduct of a noble lord (Milton) in Yorkshire, who had exalted his character, by dissuading the people there from petitioning for peace. There was no ground for calling in question the disposition of ministers to make peace, when it could be done with security and honour to the country. The way to restore peace was, to adopt a plan of expenditure that should enable us to carry on the war, and to convince the enemy of the hopelessness of his pursuing it with a view of ruining our finances. It was in vain to look for a secure peace, unless a military system should be adopted, that would be available in peace as well as in war. The noble lord again declared, that he could not concur in the address, unless the part alluded to was omitted.
The Earl of Aberdeen defended the expedition to Copenhagen; and maintained, that self-protection was a leading principle of the law of nations. There wanted no greater proof of the inability of the Danish government to resist the power of
France, and the determination of the latter power to compel it to join in hostility against this country, than their joining the Northern confederacy, in 1801, and alleging as a reason for it, their inability to resist the power of Russia. It was in vain, therefore, to urge, that Denmark might have resisted the power of France, and thus draw an inference against the expedition, as it was evident she could not; added to which, she had repeatedly evinced hostility against this country. Much had been said against the extraordinary and unprecedented nature of this expedition; but there was a precedent of a very recent date, in the conduct of the late administration, with respect to Turkey; and he did not conceive it more probable that the Turkish fleet should sail into the English channel than the Danish.
Lord Grenville rose and spoke as follows:-There are so many points, my lords, in the speech which has been this day delivered to the house, that appear to me necessary to be adverted to, that I should do injustice to my feelings if I did not endeavour to state them to your lordships. No noble lord could come into this house with a more anxious wish and expectation, with a more sincere desire than I did this night, that at a period like the present, every petty contest and private difference should be sacrificed to the greater object of unanimity, in an address to the throne. At a period which, as the speech expresses it, may be called the crisis of our fate; when it becomes now a question, whether the British empire, the growth of so many ages; whether the British constitution, which has for so long a period promoted and extended the interests and happiness of the empire, whether these shall now be overthrown and crumbled into ruins. such a period, I was led anxiously to expect, it was my most earnest wish and desire, that every petty triumph, that every little feeling, would have been given up and merged in the great cause of the country; that the house would not have been called upon to pledge itself upon disputed points, or to approve of measures without any evidence of their necessity or utility. It was to have been expected, particularly from those who were the friends of our illustrious statesman, now no more (Mr. Pitt), whose name can never be mentioned without that tribute which is due to his great and exalted merits, that they would have followed his example, in abstaining from those points which so immediately
tend to prevent that unanimity so desirable | duced, enabling your lordships to judge of at the present crisis. From the commence- the necessity of that measure. It is truly ment of the war in the year 1793, down said, my lords, in the speech, that the eyes to the termination of the administration of of Europe and of the world are fixed upon that illustrious statesman, in no speech de- the British parliament. There is on the livered to parliament at the commencement continent of Europe a great reliance in the of a session were parliament called upon integrity and in the justice of the British to pledge themselves in support of mea- parliament; they look with anxiety for its sures, without evidence before them of the decision upon the motives and the policy propriety or utility of such measures; in of that expedition. It has already made no case were they called upon to approve an impression throughout the continent of measures, before the papers relating to unfavourable to this country. How much them were produced, whereon a judgment greater will that impression be, if parliamight be formed, according to the evidence ment gives its decision, approving of that of the case. Yet, in this instance have expedition; and still more, if it does so, ministers, departing from so salutary a without any evidence or information upon rule, and in violation of every principle the subject. What must then be the opithat ought to actuate their conduct upon nion on the continent of Europe, when such an occasion, not only called upon they find the British parliament not only parliament to approve of measures which approving of such an expedition, but givnothing but absolute necessity could jus- ing their approbation without an iota of tify, and respecting the necessity of which evidence before them, without the slightest not a tittle of evidence is produced, but information that could tend to establish have even called upon parliament to ap- its justification? When I first heard of the plaud other measures now, respecting which expedition, I conceived that there might papers are hereafter to be produced, upon exist circumstances to justify it, although which alone the propriety of such mea- none but those of the most urgent nature sures can be justified. Thus have they could. I received, at a considerable discalled upon this house to approve of the tance from town, his majesty's Declaration expedition to Copenhagen, although not respecting that expedition, and found that the slightest evidence is before your lord- secret articles were stated to exist in the ships, to enable you to judge of its neces- Treaty of Tilsit, which proved the detersity, and to congratulate his majesty on mination to form a hostile confederacy the refusal of the Russian mediation, res- against this country, of which Denmark pecting which the documents, proving the was to form a part. Then came the Degrounds of that refusal, and upon which claration respecting Russia, in which we alone we can form our judgment, are pro- were told not of secret articles, but of armised to be laid before the house. Even rangements made at Tilsit; and now the were we to give our approbation of the speech, which we have this day heard, says former measure without any evidence not one word about either. When the before us, it would be no sanction; it grounds upon which the expedition to would be no testimony of its necessity, or Copenhagen is justified, are thus shifted, is its policy; for even a righteous judgment it not of the utmost importance, that we would be an unrighteous one, if given should have some information as to the without evidence; nor can I conceive any real state of the case? We find ministers thing more incongruous, than to call upon making a strong assertion in the outset ; your lordships already to approve of a that assertion is afterwards weakened, and measure, before the documents respecting now, is not at all mentioned in the speech this it, which are promised, are laid before the day; namely, respecting the secret artihouse. With respect to Denmark, my cles or arrangements at Tilsit, which lords, I have hitherto refrained, as was my formed the ground-work of the justification duty, from expressing an opinion; I have of the Copenhagen expedition, and yet no refrained from even forming an opinion, information upon the subject is laid before willing to believe that there were circum- the house. Ministers have asserted, that stances which justified the expedition to there were secret articles in the Treaty of Copenhagen, and anxiously expecting, that Tilsit, affecting the interests of this country, at the meeting of parliament, evidence and the French government have asserted respecting those circumstances would be that there were none. Here, then, was a laid before your lordships' house; or, at challenge; and it was incumbent upon least, that some information would be pro- ministers to prove their former assertion; VOL. X.