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were amicably disposed towards us, and has, above all, shaken our own reliance on the justice of our cause; the only sentiment which has hitherto upheld us in all our difficulties; commanding the respect of other nations, and inspiring our own people with a confident expectation, under the blessing of providence, of a successful termination of a long and arduous contest. That we are ever unwilling to pronounce definitely on a measure, the whole grounds of which are not before us but that, in a case which above all others required the clearest proof, we have the deep mortification of being compelled to acknowledge, that every presumption is against us; and that no evidence has yet been adduced on which we can safely rest the defence of our country, from accusations the most injurious to our national character."
Mr. Stuart Wortley said, the whole of the criminality imputed by the hon. member who had just sat down, rested upon an erroneous supposition, that his majesty's ministers charged Denmark with being in collusion with France. The Copenhagen Expedition was undertaken, and justified, on the grounds of the unquestionable and declared intentions of the French government to turn the whole power of the continent against England; and the inability of Denmark to resist the coercion of France, and her unwillingness to irritate, by any appearance of a disposition to resist. The hon. gent. went through all the arguments advanced in the former discussions relative to this subject, to shew that France was determined and prepared to force Denmark into her system; and that Denmark was unprepared and undetermined to make any opposition. He stated, from high authority, that if the Expedition to Copenhagen had not taken place, France would have had under her controul, and at her disposal, a fleet of 70 sail of the line, from Antwerp, North, including Dutch, Danes, Russians, and Swedes; for when menaced by Russia on one side, and France and Denmark, with the whole of the Danish fleet on the other, Sweden could not long hold out. He concluded, from a view of all the arguments, that the capture of the Danish fleet was not only necessary and justifiable, but highly commendable. In that view he thought the house bound to set a fixed mark of its approbation on a which it had repeatedly sanctioned with its full assent in a variety of forms. He there
fore designed, after the present question was disposed of, in the manner in which he was sure the house must, from every principle of reason and consistency, deal with it, to propose a resolution, stating "That this house, considering the Declarations laid before them by his majesty's command; the state to which the continent was reduced in consequence of the negotiations and peace of Tilsit; the avowed declaration of the French government to exclude the British flag from every port in Europe, and to combine all the powers of the continent in a general confederacy against the maritime rights and political existence of Great Britain; most highly approve the prompt and vigorous measures which were adopted by his majesty's ministers, for the purpose of removing out of the reach of his majesty's enemies the fleet and naval resources of Denmark."
Mr. Porcher highly approved of the expedition to Copenhagen. He expected to have found some novelty in the arguments advanced to bring the house to decide against the merits of the measure, after it had so often sanctioned it with its unlimited approbation. But when he reviewcd the whole speech of the hon. gent. on the other side, he found nothing in it but old friends with new faces.
Mr. Orde thought that ministers had no ground of justification for their attack on Copenhagen. If they really meant to counteract the projects of Buonaparte, they should have co-operated with Denmark in resisting his forces, instead of having committed a most violent act of aggression. Our conduct on that occasion, he considered to be the greatest triumph gained by the enemy during the present contest, because it was a proceeding which justified all his oppressions and other measures of rigour, violence, and plunder. How degraded must.Great Britain have appeared after the perpetration of such atrocity! We who had shed our blood, and expended our treasure, in support of the laws of nations and of justice, had, after a struggle of many years, debased ourselves by a violation of every principle which had raised our character in the eyes of the world, and held us up as the guardians of the rights of nations. It was fortunate, however, that the people could still maintain their weight, and that we might be able to rescue the country from the dishonourable condition in which it had been placed by ministers. In the hope of accomplishing this desirable ob
ject, he felt himself called on to support the original motion.
the cause of this country this was a statement to which he could give no credit. He thought it very natural, that when a man conceived that he had been deserted by his friend on an arduous occasion, his feelings should recoil against that man who had before been his friend. He was, however, persuaded that the emperor of Russia had too great a regard for his subjects to involve them in a war with this country, merely for the purpose of gratifying his own private feelings or resentments, but that he was bound by sacred engagements to adopt the line he had taken. When he himself had felt it his duty to ask information from Russia as to the secret articles of the Treaty of Tilsit, the Russian ministers did not deny them, but simply advised him to use all the influence he had with his court to make peace with France. It was by making a peace with France that we could alone hope to escape the ill effects of those secret arrangements. Those arrangements were perhaps not al
Lord G. L. Gower hoped the house would indulge him while he stated a few facts, on the ground of which he felt himself bound to dissent from the Resolution, and to support the Amendment which it was proposed to introduce upon it. He had listened to all the arguments advanced to support the resolution, and there was not one among them which gave him reason to doubt, that if the expedition to Copenhagen had never taken place, we should now have been equally at war with Denmark as we are. It was the known and avowed determination of the French government to force all the continental powers to take a part in the war, and Denmark, it was notoriously known, wanted strength and resolution to resist the appeal. He had no doubt that Denmark would have preferred neutrality, if left to her option but when the alternative of chusing between Great Britain and France would have been put to her, he had as lit-together dictated by France, but might tle doubt that her inclination and her fears would have led her to prefer France. The house would recollect, from the correspondence of lord Howick with Mr. Rist and Mr. Garlike, that when the court of Denmark was most loud in complaint of the Order in Council of the 7th of January, which was in strict conformity with the law of nations, it was, at the same time, taking all possible pains to palliate the French Decrees, which went to violate the neutrality of every nation. He would also bring to the recollection of the house, that all English letters had been prevented from passing to and from the continent by means of the Danish post; and that Mr. Thornton had been, in consequence, obliged to make use of special messengers, when he wanted to send any dispatch of ever so little moment. It was also material to consider, that the new system of maritime law announced by Buonaparte was in perfect conformity with the known policy of the court of Denmark, with the principles which had employed the pens of the ablest Danish writers, and with the feelings and interests of the whole Danish people. From all these considerations, there was no doubt on his mind, that if Denmark was put to the alternative, as she certainly would have been, she would have preferred the alliance of France to that of Britain. It was said, that the emperor of Russia was, in the feelings of his mind, favourable to VOL. X.
be agreeable to the policy and the views of the emperor of Russia. It might be recollected that in the year 1805, before the emperor of Russia was disgusted with the unfortunate issue of the battles of Austerlitz, Jena, and Friedland, he would not allow his ministers to sign the treaty of alliance with this country, without expressly declaring, that it it turned out, upon examination, that there was any thing in the maritime code of England contrary to the principles of justice, the emperor of Russia would use his good · offices to have it remedied. As soon as the Russian army returned from Tilsit, the emperor ordered the fortifications of Cronstadt and his other ports to be repaired and enlarged; and he himself had heard, from a very high authority (whom it was not necessary to name) that it was proper to act cautiously with respect to England, or, to use the French term, 'il faut menager l'Angleterre.' He was convinced in his own mind, that there was no possible way of avoiding a Northern confederacy, except by making a peace with France. The Danish fleet was, however, the principal means which the Northern nations possessed, and the capture of it weakened most materially the Northern confederacy.: He could not, however, conceive, that the merit of the present ministers, in sending out the expedition, was any thing more than a negative merit. He thought no set of ministers that the country could 4 I
have, after the information which he was sure had been received, could have avoided sending the expedition. At the same time, therefore, that he approved of the measure, he thought it so obvious and unavoidable, that there was no occasion for voting any particular resolution of approbation of mi
Mr. Abercromby supported the Address. The expedition against Copenhagen was admitted on all hands to be a departure from the acknowledged rule and practice of nations; and in order to justify this deviation, ministers ought to have proved that they neglected no means which might be calculated to stimulate Denmark to active exertions in her own defence; that Denmark was incapable of defending herself with the assistance of this country, which could only be done satisfactorily by the report of military officers; that in consequence of the expedition they had procured for the country a substantial and permanent security. They ought also to have proved that the expedition was defensible, as well on the ground of policy as of justice. But as there was no evidence in the papers which had been laid before the house to prove any one of these positions, he should certainly vote for the Address.
Mr. R. Thornton vindicated the conduct of government, and thought it not right to do so by a silent vote, but to state his reasons, that he might not seem to contradict his vote on a former night, relative to the subject of a treaty made in our India possessions. He said that France had issued her decree over the continent; "the house of Brunswick has ceased to reign." He defended the conduct of ministers in the attack upon Copenhagen from the hostile sentiments which Denmark was known to entertain against this country on the late occasion, and which she had likewise manifested in 1780 and in 1801. A great deal had been said upon the morality of the measure, but he reminded the house that ministers had a moral duty to perform to their own, as well as to other countries ; which was, to vindicate its rights, and to watch over its security and independence. Gentlemen also had talked much of the law of nations, forgetting the important circumstance, that now there were no nations on the continent of Europe but one. They had all been swallowed up in the vortex of France. Russia was France, Germany was France, Prussia was France, Denmark was, France;
the law of France was the law of nations, and what that law was, how equal, how moderate, how forbearing, gentlemen might judge. Let us not obey a name and a shadow, or call that a neutrality which, in fact, depended upon the dictates of France. Denmark had pursued a system of hostility against this nation in the year 1780, had renewed it in 1801, and had shewn a hostile mind in the last year. At each of these periods her cry was the same, the liberty of the seas, and the pacification of Europe." He adverted to her wanton aggression against Hamburgh, when the prince of Hesse marched a body of troops into that place, and ordered it to surrender. He stated, that his connections at St. Petersburgh gave him an opportunity to know that the public mind was set against us, from the date of the Treaty of Tilsit, and before the Danish expedition. That expedition was called at St. Petersburgh a spirited undertaking, but afterwards there was some vibration in the public sentiments, and the influence of France prevailed to keep up hostility against this country.
The Secretary at War considered the proceedings at Copenhagen as no breach of the law of nations. There was an engine of war which the enemy meant to turn against us, and we anticipated him by getting possession of it first. He shewed that the Danes were totally incapable of making any resistance in Holstein, and their having taken no step to remove their army to Zealand, or to put that and other islands into a state of defence, even when a large French army had entered Hamburgh, was a proof that no resistance was intended. No other object could be assigned for this assemblage of French troops at Hamburgh, but to compel Denmark to coincide in the views of France. Even the naval force of Denmark, which was essential to the defence of Zealand, was in such a condition, that it required six weeks preparation to fit it to encounter the sea. From these circumstances, it was evident, that there was, in the court of Denmark, a want of power and exertion to defend itself, and a disposition to yield, which it became our duty to anticipate, so far as the effects of it might be detrimental to us.
Dr. Laurence observed, in answer to what had been said by the hon. member, that there were still some nations existing, such as Sweden, Sicily, Sardinia, and America. And though all nations had been ingulph
the defect. We might have protected-
ed in France, yet the principles of the law safeguard against all the efforts of the of nations would still remain in their full French party. Mr. Garlike said, that the force. Necessity had been urged for this Danes would not enter into a dishonourable expedition. Certainly, if that necessity compromise. His apprehensions arose was fully proved, that would bring the from the consequences of inadequate precase within the law of nations; for self-paration. But we might have supplied preservation was the first law of nature, among nations as well as individuals. But this must be a real, clear, and incontestiblé necessity, and not what the caprice of a minister might call necessity. That real necessity had not been proved. The previous hostile mind of Denmark was totally out of the question; and he was sorry that any one had adverted to the particulars of the conduct of Denmark in 1780 and 1801. Upon this principle, Sweden, too, ought to have been attacked in the same manner, for she had proclaimed the doctrine that free bottoms made free goods, as well as Denmark. If former conduct was to be taken into account, there was no violation of law and justice that might not be defended. The next point was, the engagements which Russia had entered into with France. But, it was impossible that ministers themselves could have believed that Russia had engaged to compel Denmark and Sweden to join with her in hostilities against this country. The impossibility of any such belief was evident from the conduct which they themselves had adopted with regard to Russia. He allowed that Russia might possibly have been at war with us, whether the Danish ships had been seized or not. But there might be a war into which a nation might be driven by an external force, in which, however, she would not put forth half her strength. This would have been the hostility of Russia; but now that was turned into an inveterate enmity. Could France have seized the Danish fleet against the will of the Danish government? Sicily had as yet been defended-Sardinia was still safe-and there was a little comfortable ditch between us and France, and that ditch the French had not been able to pass. Why, then, could not Zealand be defended? That the Danes would have adhered to England when the moment of extremity came, he argued, from the evident interest of Denmark. It would have been insanity in Denmark, as some of the Danes themselves affirmed, to have chosen to join France against England. The dis-only the duty of deducing, from what had position of the prince evidently was not to give way to France, as clearly appeared from the papers on the table; and his character was stated by Mr. Garlike as a
Mr. Fitzgerald (knight of Kerry,) said that he had been anxious to obtain the attention of the Speaker at an earlier period of the debate, because he was conscious that, having no claim on the attention of the house from ability to do justice to the question, he was little able to encounter that impatience which naturally prevailed at so late an hour.-He was, however, glad that the hon. and learned gentleman, (Dr. Laurence) had preceded him, for, by laying down the laws of nations with his superior authority and talent, he had spared the house from hearing those principles more feebly urged by him, and left him
been so ably stated, some principles which should guide the house in their decision on that night.-He could now venture with more safety to argue, that other nations
had some distinct rights, interests, and independence-That if we were swayed by a preference of British interests, so might Spain, Russia, or Denmark assert a preference for Spanish, Russian, or Danish interests, without offence or injustice to us; and on such a fair and liberal view of the case alone could the house form a just decision. In the opinion he had formed, he trusted no party sentiment mixed itself; for base, indeed, inust that mind be which, when ministers had involved the country in war with the last nation which could be added to the formidable combination armed against us, and we fought for our existence, could suffer party motives to influence it on such a question.-Anxious, as he originally was, to express his opinion, that had been increased by the attempt made, on that night, to identify the house with the executive power, and to silence their right of examination and controul, because a majority had, on some former occasion, given some indirect sanction to the conduct of ministers :-first, such a doctrine was wholly unconstitutional; and secondly, additional information had been laid before the house since such expression of opinion. But it was not merely by a decision of the majority in that house, nor by any partial view of English passions or English interests, that we should be enabled to act with dignity or justice in a case between this country and a foreign nation, but by taking such a line as should satisfy the judgments of the majority of the country, and command the respect of the states of Europe; we should otherwise justify the imputations but too successfully propagated against England by the French, that, in her conduct to foreign states, she was alone actuated by a narrow and selfish policy. The conclusions he should endeavour to establish were drawn from a diligent and repeated examination of the papers before the house, and after which he was sorry to be obliged to express his solemn conviction that, in the attack on Denmark, ministers had .commited an unprovoked and unjustifiable outrage. Denmark håd adopted a line of policy which, whether most agreeable to our wishes or interests, it must be admitted she had a right to adopt, namely, one of strict neutrality. It might not, however, be immaterial to consider that that system, suggested by wisdom, had also been justified by experience, and that the great minister of that nation had conducted his country during the perils and shocks of
the revolutionary war, not only with safety, not only to the preservation of the happiness of his fellow-subjects, but greatly to the extension of national prosperity and power.-No slight inducement to a perseverance in the same salutary system. Having adopted that system, it appeared, from a fair and strict analysis of the papers, that Denmark adhered to it with undeviat ing strictness, and with equal fidelity towards the belligerent parties. When France approached her frontiers, she required and received explanations which satisfied her, and which, in reason, ought, for the positions taken up by the French troops, were naturally such as were suitable to the war in which France was engaged against G. Britain and Sweden. As to the particular act of trifling violation of ground, ample reparation seems to have been made, and there certainly does not appear any intended infraction of the Danish neutrality; that such a case was possible, if not probable, in the course of the war, is not doubted, and the Danes themselves foresaw it; but how could that be brought to justify our attack on Denmark; should Denmark be ultimately forced from her neutrality, it was evident not only that it was best the outrage should come from France-it was not only compatible with Danish interest, but had been actually pointed out by the Danish ministers, to Mr. Garlike, as more compatible with the eventual interests of Great Britain, Russia, and Sweden; the latter a strong concession, by which count Bernstorff, not only evinced the policy, but the zeal with which, under such circumstances, he would be enabled to support the common cause, when he could promise from it an extinction of those nearly insurmountable antipathies which separated Sweden and Denmark. In the view of such a case, arrangements had actually been made in Denmark; the troops were gradually withdrawn from the frontiers to the centre of Holstein, and to the islands; and it was emphatically announced, by count Bernstorff, that such eventual invasion of Holstein, by the French, would establish, de facto, an alliance, offensive and defensive, between Denmark, Russia, Sweden, and England. But not only was that proved by the papers, but by a fair consideration of Danish interest, we could not doubt that such would be the policy of the Danish court; on the one hand, to retain a nominal authority in Holstein and Jutland, dependent on French moderation, she