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dition against Copenhagen; but whatever might be the opinion of certain gentlemen as to the propriety of having more documents before the house on this subject, he certainly thought enough was known to justify the conduct of ministers. From the relative situation of France and Denmark, it must be evident to any person who looked at the question without prejudice, that Denmark could not resist the power and influence of Buonaparte, even if she were seriously disposed to preserve her neutrality; but he did not admit that Denmark was at the time firm in her resolution to oppose France, rather than depart from the line of policy which she had observed. Her disposition to hostility was manifested, according to his information, more than once or twice against us. In the very streets of Copenhagen, a short time before our attack, an Englishman could not walk without the risk of being insulted, and told, that the policy of England had always been to shed the blood of others, in furtherance of her own interest exclusively. Combining this evidence of the public mind, obviously under French influence, with the conduct of Russia, what doubt could be entertained of an intention to form a hostile confederacy against the naval power and the independence of this country? Under such circumstances, and in the present degraded state of Europe, who that felt for the welfare and glory of the empire, but must acknowledge that ministers ought to have been impeached if they had suffered the enemy to plan and mature an hostile combination, which they had the means of dissipating. Surely it ill became those whose supineness had proved nearly ruinous to us; who had done nothing for the common cause, except sending a miserable subsidy to Prussia; it ill became such men to be the accusers of the present administration. It ill became those, who, by their spiritless inactivity, had given rise to the fatal necessity, to carp at a measure, which was absolutely necessary to repair the mischiefs resulting from their misconduct. How could the house reconcile the conduct of those champions of morality and justice, and their professions of respect for the law of nations, with their attack on Alexandria? But they could not bear the contrast, and therefore they naturally attempted to question and vilify the brilliancy of an achievement which reflected disgrace on their own feeble expeditions.
It had been stated in the course of the debate, that both expeditions had been undertaken on the same ground; but if so, which he did not admit, certainly there was a wide difference as to the result, and therefore the present ministers gained by the comparison. On the whole, he was firmly of opinion, that administration was entitled to the support and gratitude of the country.
Lord Palmerston said, that after the very brilliant and unanswered speech of the right hon. the secretary of state, and the insufficiency of the reply from the other side, it would not be necessary for him to trouble the house at any great length on the subject then under discussion. He should set out with stating, that he conceived it improper to disclose the information which ministers had received on the subject, because their honour was pledged to preserve secrecy. In another point of view also, he conceived it improper to make the disclosure required, because it would, in all probability, destroy the future sources of information. But he asked gentlemen on the other side, what necessity existed for producing such documents and information as had been called for on that and on former nights? It might, perhaps, be necessary to exhibit them, if there was no other ground for justifying the attack on Denmark; but unquestionably, the present situation of Europe and the degradation or vassalage of its sovereigns, offered, most unfortunately, too ready and solid a reason for the adoption of such a measure. Much had been said by a right hon. gent. (Mr. Windham) on the law of nations, on right and policy; he was as ready and willing as any man to pay his tribute of respect to them, and to recommend their application whenever circumstances would permit it; he was afraid, however, that although much talked of, they were little understood; the conscquence of which was, that many persons abused the terms, and took one for the other. In the present instance, he was glad to observe, that we did not suspend them without necessity, or, in other words, that we used them in conformity to the law of nature, which dictated and commanded self preservation. This was precisely a case in point; for, as was conceded by the right hon. mover, if Denmark had shewn or given any proof of hostility, directly or indirectly, against this country, then ministers would be justified in inflicting on her the heaviest punishment;
but surely, if the house just considered | duct of Buonaparte towards all other counthat Denmark was weak and France power- tries. In tracing him he could discover ful, and in possession of the means of nothing but the violation of the neutrality forcing her into a confederacy against us, of all nations, and a system of oppression under such circumstances could a shadow and plunder. The manifest interest of of doubt remain as to the object of the France in engaging Denmark against us, enemy being accomplished? When the left no room to doubt that she would exert conduct of France to other powers was all her power to effect her purpose; and considered, and the incapacity of Den- for his part, he had no doubt of her provmark to resist her, our success must be ing successful, had not our expedition matter of exultation to every one who re- taken from the Danes the instruments with garded the blessings of a free constitution. which he had resolved to strike the blow Did gentlemen on the other side of the so long meditated. France never missed house mean to say, that Buonaparte would, an opportunity of confederating against in the instance of Denmark, be restrained this country, whenever an opportunity by a sense of justice and morality from offered of pushing her views either by perpetrating against her those aggres- force or influence. He could not, then, sions and spoliations which had marked bring himself to believe, that France would his character on the continent? Was it forego the advantage of having the Danish at the very time that his triumphant le- marine to act against us. Under such gions were returning to France, that Den- circumstances, the house must feel that a mark was to hope for an exemption from paramount necessity existed to induce us the calamities of way, if she refused to to attack Denmark, which must inevitably comply with the hostile intentions of Buo- have been leagued to extinguish our linaparte; or could it be thought that such berty and independence. a season was the most unfit for carrying his rancorous designs into effect against us? But gentlemen would say, that as there was no official proof of such hostility on the table, therefore the assumption was too bold. Without, however, entering into the question of positive information, he would ask, whether it was not evidence against the Crown Prince, that he did not attach himself to England, as he could not maintain his neutrality? He must be aware that the power of France would be exerted, if necessary, to compel him to enter into a confederacy against us, and yet he would not listen to any overture from this country for his security and protection. On this ground, therefore, namely, the weakness of Denmark, and the power of France to force her to become instrumental against Great Britain, he should give his vote and support to ministers on the present question.
Mr. Morris felt great pain in differing from gentlemen, with whom he was in the habit of voting and acting; but he could not refrain from declaring his conviction of the propriety of the conduct which ministers had pursued with respect to Denmark. He looked not for any justification of the measure, but the weakness of Denmark and the determination of France to force her out of her neutrality. If he were asked, what evidence existed of such being the intention of the French government, he should reply, by referring to the con
Mr. Lyttleton regretted extremely the necessity he was under of withdrawing his support from those with whom he was generally in the habit of voting; but in obedience to his feelings, and the dictates of his conscience, he was compelled to acknowledge, that, in his opinion, there was enough before the house to justify the conduct of ministers in the attack on Copenhagen. He concurred with the preceding speakers, that the weakness of Denmark, and the great power of France, must remove all doubt respecting the speedy submission and co-operation of the former against us. Hard, however, as the measure was, and greatly as he lamented it, yet he deemed it one of precaution and necessity, which he should vote for.
Mr. Whitbread was sorry to differ from his hon. friends who had just sat down, as he certainly saw as little reason to vote with ministers on any other grounds as on those which they themselves had brought forward; particularly as those grounds consisted in garbled extracts of letters, which were neither fair to the writers nor the public. He wished to recal the attention of the house to the real subject of debate, which was not whether ministers were right or wrong in sending the expedition against Copenhagen, but whether they ought to produce letters, which they pretended they possessed, but which he did not believe ever existed. He would not give credit to such extracts produced
defender of the Church: Ile doubted it much.-The hon. gent. then contended, that there could be no occasion for concealment, as France made every thing public, and that the expedition was not
by a secretary of state, or regard them as authentic documents. Not that he accused them of forgery; but by the mode of giving a passage here and there, and one letter in three, the text might be as different from the context as light from dark-conceived prior to the battle of Friedland, ness. With all the art of speaking, which he did not mean to deny to the right hon. secretary, and with which he had, in an able manner, managed the cause entrusted to him, and all the art with which he had used the papers unhappily entrusted to him, he had not made out the case of the necessity of an attack on Denmark, or that a single plank had been added to our security. He denied the position with which the right hon. secretary had set out, namely, that the people of England entertained but one opinion on the subject of this expedition, till an indication of its being wrong was broached in parliament; but, if it were so, it was now full time they should be awakened from their delusion, and shewn that they had gained absolutely nothing by the shameful compromise of national honour. He really wished to know on what ground ministers were to be met; they shifted so there was no following them. They had fled from what they stated in the king's speech and declaration, and told us now, do not talk to us of the treaty of Tilsit; we knew the hostile mind of Denmark long before that.' He would shew that Denmark wished to preserve the strictest neutrality, and recommended to the house, if they wished to investigate the matter fully, to let, Mr. Garlicke be called to the bar of the house, and say what he knew of the disposition of the Danish court. He surely was in no danger of being seized by Buonaparte. Let the whole of lord Hutchinson's letters be laid before the house. Let lord Granville Leveson Gower state what he knew of the disposition of Russia. It would be easy to prove that the words put into the sacred mouth of his majesty, were not only morally, but physically impossible; for he was made to say, that the treaty of Tilsit was the cause, and that there was none anterior. [No! No! from ministers.] He would not argue with the learned chancellor of the exchequer on words. Did he mean to apply to this case his technical terms and special pleading? Did he mean to address the house as a lawyer, or as a statesman, in which character he now appeared? Could he shew that his participation in this business became the Christian
from the circumstance of its having been acknowledged that part of that expedition was previously fitted out for another destination. He observed, that the armistice between France and Russia was only ratified on the 24th of June, and the two emperors met for the first time on the Niemen, on the 25th. On the 7th of July the treaty was signed. How was it possible, then, that the king's pleasure, as it is technically called, could have been taken on the expedition to Copenhagen on the 19th of July? Certainly, this could not have been done in consequence of any knowledge ministers could have had of the conferences at Tilsit. A noble lord, indeed, was represented to have stated in another place, that information had been received through Portugal and Ireland, of the designs of the enemy, and this information, too, was received in time to take the king's pleasure on the 19th of July! Surely, when the noble lord said this, he entertained a sovereign contempt of time, space, and geography of every kind. heavy charge had been made by Russia against this country, for not affording her any co-operation during the campaign in Poland. Now, was there any foundation for the reproaches of baron Budburg? Every body knew that a force of 10 or 20,000 men, exposed as they must be to certain destruction, could never have averted the fatal battle of Friedland. But, if ministers were in possession of the secret articles in the Treaty of Tilsit, why did they not produce them? It had been said, that a hostile mind existed in Russia against this country. The hon. gent. asked ministers whether it was known to them that Russia was hostile to this country previous to the attack on Copenhagen? [Mr. Canning answered across the table, "Yes."] I am not, replied Mr. Whitbread, disposed to doubt that the right hon. gent. thinks what he says is true: but let that be proved. Frequent mention had been made of the inveterate hostility of France: but what else could be expected from France except hostility? The endeavour on the part of France to combine all the powers of Europe against us was no more unjustifiable, than the attempt of this country to form combinations against
the house. He begged leave totally to differ from those hon. members who had asserted, that the hostile spirit of Russia arose in consequence of the attack on Copenhagen, but said, that it was a consequence of the pressure of the French, after the defeat at Friedland; for if his Imperial majesty could be obliged by that defeat to abandon Prussia, which, four days before, he had pledged himself never to do, it was hardly to be expected he would continue very friendly to the interests of England. In six hours after his imperial majesty's return to Petersburgh, the very first person to whom he gave audience was his Minister of Marine: the very first place he visited, was Cronstadt, and the first directions he gave, were for the equipment of the fleet, and the repair of the fortifications in that place, and this some time before the attack on Copen
France. It was, however, evident, that Russia was hostile to this country after the attack on Copenhagen; and, on that account, he contended it was a meanness in this country to ask a power so hostile to us to interfere for the purpose of making up the quarrel between us and Denmark. He was ready to admit the right hon. gent. had that night advanced strong reasons why an attack should not be made on Cronstadt. With respect to the value of the Danish ships, it was stated, in some accounts, that they were very good ships, because they stood the weather so well in coming home. But it appeared, from admiral Gambier's account, it was necessary to repair some of them before they were put to sea. From the regularity and preparation in the Danish navy, an inference was drawn, that they were intended to be made use of against us. But it must appear, to any person who ever visited Co-hagen took place. The noble lord repenhagen, that, for fifty years past, it had been the practice of the Danes, a practice in which they prided themselves, to have their ships laid up in ordinary, in so complete a state of repair, that they could be fitted out in a very short time. But when we took the ships, we took the least efficient part of the Danish navy. We left behind 18,000 seamen, who would be ready to enter into the service of France; and France had ships enough for herself. The English had acted like shabby thieves. They took only one half of their booty. Why was not the French property at Copenhagen seized also? The only effect of the expedition was to arm the people of Denmark against us, and to shut us out from the Baltic; while Holland was entirely under the power of France, without the latter being at the expence of sending troops to conquer it. If the act in question was justified by necessity, he was ready to admit that it was justified in morality and in the sight of God. But it could not be justified. Ministers wanted to imitate the energy of France. But how did they do that? France had slain a giant, and then England must go and embrue her hands in the blood of an infant. The question now was, not whether the expedition was justifiable, but whether that house was bound to give credit to the assertions of his majesty's ministers, and whether it ought not to require further information?
Lord G. L. Gower, as he had been so particularly alluded to, felt himself called on to say a few words in explanation to VOL. X.
marked, that many persons in this country seemed to be of opinion that the expedition to Copenhagen was generally execrated on the continent. He could assure them, however, in so far as his experience went, that the contrary was the case, particularly in Russia. A great majority of the persons of consequence in that country rejoiced at the event which took place at Copenhagen, and those consisted not merely of what was called the English party, but others, who thought that Russia ought not to have entered into a war with France, and seemed to wish to insulate their country from the rest of Europe. These persons saw with alarm a French army in Poland, and another on the frontiers of Turkey, and they were happy at the check which the expedition to the Baltic gave to the views of Buonaparte, for they dreaded his hostility through Denmark. The noble lord also pointed out the inconvenience arising from the publication of what passed between his majesty's ministers and the governments of other countries. Foreign ministers had frequently expressed an unwillingness to communicate freely with him, because they did not know but that what they stated might, perhaps, in the course of a year, be made public.
Lord Castlereagh contended, that ministers were not bound to lay before parliament all the information on which his majesty's Declaration had been founded. The hon. gent. had dwelt much upon the circumstance of his majesty's pleasure being taken on the expedition to Copen
perfectly similar to the Copenhagen expedition, and had infinitely less of the plea of necessity to justify them.
Mr. T. Grenville complained of the constant practice of introducing, collaterally, charges against the late administration. He thought, after what had passed the other day, that this practice would have been refrained from. The attack upon Turkey, in a period of peace, had been alluded to, though the secretary of state must have known that the orders given by the last administration were precisely the contrary of attacking the Porte during peace. On this subject, and on the Lisbon expedition, which had been also alluded to, there was nothing which the late administration so much desired as investigation.
hagen on the 19th of July. The fact, however, was, that what passed on that day related only to sending a force to the Baltic, in order to ascertain the disposition of Denmark; the final instructions to attack were sent out afterwards. The hon. gent. admitted that France had the disposition to seize the Danish navy, and the only question was the disposition of Denmark, which must be judged of from circumstances. The Court of Portugal had given repeated information, that the demand of France was, that the Portuguese navy should be joined to the other navics of the continent by the 1st of September. Besides this fact, he wished to call the attention of the house to what had passed at one of Buonaparte's levees in one of those extraordinary conversations in which that person was accustomed to indulge Mr. S. R. Lushington took a view of the himself with foreign ambassadors, he ad- whole of the transactions relative to Rusdressed himself to the Portuguese minister, sia and Denmark, and then proceeded and asked him, whether he had trans- thus:-In applying, sir, the laws of nations mitted to his court the demand that the to the conduct of G. Britain towards Dennavy of Portugal should be ready to unite mark, the gentlemen on the opposite side with the other navies of Europe against of the house seem desirous of establishing England on the 1st of September. Hav. a code of their own, separate from that ing said this, he immediately turned round law of nature, which, according to the to the Danish minister, and asked him best writers, is the very foundation of all whether he had made the same commu- the laws of nations. Their sentimental nication to his court.-The noble lord, in system would embrace all nations but answer to the charge that ministers had their own. These ingenious disquisitions not gone far enough, observed, that after may be well calculated for the amuseit was found that Denmark could not be ment of the schools, but they are not fitted brought to any amicable arrangement, the for the events of real life, or a state of practicability of holding Zealand as a mi- ferocious war. Sir, the first law of nalitary station was taken into consideration. ture, the foundation of the law of nations, But the reports of the officers, who had is the preservation of man. It is on the been desired to direct their attention to knowledge of his nature, that the science this subject, proved that the force neces- of his duty must be founded. When the sary for the defence of that island was far feelings point out to him a mighty dangreater than this country could spare in ger, and his reason suggests the means of the state of military poverty in which the avoiding it, he must despise the sophistiformer administration had left us. It was cal trifler, who tells him it is a moral duty also thought that it would have been im- he owes to others to wait till the danger proper to advise his Swedish majesty to break upon his foolish head, lest he should furnish for this purpose a detachment from hurt the meditated instrument of his dehis army, to make up the deficiency of struction. Upon this general principle of ours, as the removal of that force would the law of nature and of nations, I mainhave weakened Sweden too much, in the tain the morality, and certainly the neevent of an attack from Russia. It was cessity of the Expedition against Copen. also proved from the report of admiral hagen. In applying this general prinKeats, on the probability of the enemy ciple to the state of Denmark, we shall transporting a force from Holstein to Zea- find that it derives particular force from land, that it would be impossible to keep her past conduct. It may suit the purpose up a blockade in the winter months suffi- the Moniteur to represent Denmark as enciently close to prevent that commu-joying a moral dignity in the circle of nanication. The noble lord then proceeded to shew that the designs of the late administration against Portugal were of a nature
tions, and to insist that G. Britain had a sufficient guarantee in the sincere neutrality of Denmark, and in the cordiality of her