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he objected, on the wholesome principle, sanctioned by courts of justice, which was, that when you propose to read a document in your defence, you must read the whole of it, for if you were permitted to read extracts only, it was probable that you would read nothing but what was favourable to yourself, and that you would omit all that was against you. He complained that the right hon. secretary had accused him of justifying Buonaparte. All the compliment he paid to France was to compare her conduct with that of the servants of the crown in this expedition. While the right hon. secretary talked so much of the morality of others, he ought to take care of his own. He had said that his majesty was disposed to wait for the
attachment to England. I would ask, sir, whether it was a proof of the moral dignity of Denmark to attack the neutral state of Hamburgh, or of her neutrality to shut that port against the commerce of Great Britain, or a token of her attachment to us to originate and support a confederacy, having for its avowed object, the destruction of that maritime law which we conceive indispensable to our existence as an independent nation? All these circumstances, and those stated with such unanswerable truth, and matchless eloquence, by the right hon. the secretary for foreign affairs, justified his majesty's ministers in expecting similar demonstrations of the will and the power of Denmark, whenever the mandate and the alliance of France should promise her protection in them. I re-operation of the thinking part of the Rusjoice, sir, in the wisdom of those councils which has anticipated and has averted this danger. But I am astonished that any man in this house, or in any other, should doubt the reality of that danger, when he recollects, that in confirmation of all the other evidence I have stated, the Prince of Portugal has been driven from his dominions, because he would not join in that confederacy with France, Russia, and Denmark. With this impression, sir, of the conduct of ministers, I am thankful to them for the great service they have rendered to the state, and they may be assured that this feeling is general throughout the country. Let them proceed in the course they have already pursued, let them face unappalled the unnatural combination which is gathered around us, relying that the spirit of the people of Engwill keep pace with the energy of the go
Sir C. Price regarded the Copenhagen expedition not only as just and necessary, but as wisely planned, and gloriously executed.
Mr. Davies Giddy was sorry the information on which ministers had acted I could not be laid before the house. However, as that was the case, he thought himself bound to acquiesce in the concealment which the government thought necessary.
Mr. Ponsonby rose to reply. He remarked, that all he had asked for was information, and that all the answer he got to that request, was details respecting expeditions to Alexandria, the Dardanelles, and -Lisbon, in order to prove some supposed misconduct in a former administration. The right hon. secretary had read extracts to prove the hostility of Denmark, but to this
sian community, rather than, in the first instance, to resort to measures which might have a result more disagreeable to that monarch. This looked like intimating, that he was, from his discontented subjects, to meet the fate of his father. [a cry of no! no!] If such were not the meaning of the right hon. secretary, he hoped that more care would in future be taken in the words employed.
Mr. Secretary Canning said, he was misinterpreted, and disdained the implication assigned to him.
At half past five (on Thursday morning) the house divided, when the numbers were,
For Mr. Ponsonby's Motion -
List of the Minority.
Eitzgerald, lord H.
Petty, lord H. Piggott, sir A. Poole, sir C. M. Pollington, visc. Ponsonby, G. Ponsonby, H. G. Prittie, F. A. Pym, Francis Romilly, sir S. Russell, lord W. Scudamore, R. P. Sharp, Richard Shelley, Timothy Sheridan, R. B. Smith, John Sinith, W. Stanley, lord Taylor, M. A. Temple, earl Templeton, vis. Thompson, Thomas Thornton, Henry Tierney, G. Vernor, G. G. V. Walpole, G. Ward, J. W. Western, C. C. Wharton, John Whitbread, Sain. Wilder, Fr. John Williams, Owen Windham, W.
HOUSE OF LORDS.
Thursday, February 4. [DISPUTE WITH AMERICA.] Lord Grenville said, he had a paper to move for, which might tend to enlighten and guide the conduct and the discussions of that house, on that most important topic, our relations with America. It was with much anxiety and regret,, he continued to look back at those expressions in his majesty's speech, where it was stated, that the president of the United States had refused to ratify the Treaty which had been sent out from this country to America. He was inclined to believe there was some inaccuracy in these expressions, which might lead to mischievous misconceptions. Their lordships were well aware, that the president of the United States could not, of his own authority, refuse to ratify a treaty | of that kind; and that such a refusal must previously have the sanction of the Senate, &c. The principal paper he should now have the honour of moving for would be, the Message of the President of the 28th of Oct. last to the Houses of Congress. It was not in his power to contemplate the issue of our present discussions with America without uneasiness and apprehension. Much had been said of the comparative
distress which either country must experience from a rupture; some contending that America would suffer most; others, that England would be the greater loser. He should not attempt to appreciate the comparative evils of either as resulting from a state of hostility; but he laboured under the melancholy conviction that the consequences of hostility would be extremely detrimental to both; and the reflection that the one must suffer a great deal, by no means mitigated, in his mind, the hardships with which, from the same cause, the other must be afflicted. Much, however, as he was disposed to deprecate a war with America, he should never think of averting that evil by the surrender of any of the just rights of England, more especially of her maritime rights, to which she owed almost every thing. Sooner would he consent to perish in a struggle for their assertion and conservation, than think of surrendering them in order to prevent that struggle. Much better was it to fall in the endeavour to maintain them, than tamely and deliberately to surrender that, from which sprung our proudest glory, from which chiefly flowed our strength and prosperity. He should still, notwithstanding, cherish the idea that the good sense and moderation of the two countries would obviate the necessity of an appeal to arms, and that their mutual interests would point out a safer and wiser conduct to pursue. Such were his feelings respecting the relative situation of the two countries. We had already all Europe against us: we should not be too eager to add America to the long and formidable catalogue of our enemies. The noble lord concluded with moving, That an humble Address be presented to his majesty, praying, that he would be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before the house a copy of the Message of the President of the United States of America of the 28th of Oct. last, to the Houses of Congress.
Lord Hawkesbury said, he would not be led into any discussion of the points now at issue between the two governments, by any observations in which it had pleased the noble baron to indulge. He was as sensible as that noble lord could be, of the great importance of continuing on a footing of friendship with America; but, highly as he valued the continuance of those relations of amity and good understanding, he could never think of purchasing it by the surrender of any of our
rights, much less of any of our maritime rights, upon which our very existence might be said to depend. At the same time, however, that he insisted on that resolution, he did not hesitate to say, that every thing would be done on the part of his majesty's government to manifest a disposition to peace and moderation; in a word, every thing that could tend, short of the sacrifices he had already alluded | to, to maintain uninterrupted a good understanding with the United States of America. He had no objection to the production of the paper moved for by the noble baron.-The question was then put, and agreed to.
Lord Auckland next rose, to move that there be laid before the house a copy of the Declaration delivered to the American Plenipotentiaries by the Plenipotentiaries of his majesty, in the month of Dec. 1806. When that document was before the house, an opportunity would arise of justifying the Orders in Council issued by his majesty's late government, and which his majesty had been advised to represent as inadequate to their purpose in the speech with which, in his majesty's name, the commissioners had opened the present session of parliament. He concluded with moving for the production of that docu
Lord Hawkesbury did not see the necessity of producing this paper. It was already before the world, and every advantage might be derived from it in argument which the noble lord could wish for. His objection to the production of it was chiefly an objection of form; for he was at a loss to see with what propriety a paper so intimately connected with the Treaty itself could be produced, while it was not thought proper or necessary to produce the Treaty itself.
Lord Holland was surprized to see the noble secretary stop short so suddenly in his career of concession; and his surprize was still greater at the reasons assigned for it. The noble secretary refused to produce the instrument moved for by his noble friend; and why? because it had had a close connection with the Treaty, which it was not thought proper at present to produce. Yet, but a moment ago, he made no objection to the production of a paper moved for by another noble friend of his; which paper, however, had a much closer connection with the Treaty than that to which he now objected. However public the paper might be, it was for the
dignity of that house, and for the convenience of discussion, to have it laid on their lordship's table by an order of their own.-The question was then put and negatived.
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
Friday, February 5.
[EXPEDITION TO COPENHAGEN.] Whitbread wished to know from the right hon. secretary for foreign affairs, whether he had any objection to lay before the house copies of the Letters from which he had read extracts in a late debate. He was desirous to know particularly whether there was any objection to the production of the Letter from lord Howick to Mr. Garlicke, and the letter from Mr. Rist, on the subject of the Orders in Council, with lord Howick's answer. It was due in fairness to that noble lord, as this last had been much dwelt upon, to place it before the house in a full and unreserved form.
Mr. Secretary Canning wished the hon. gent. either to make a motion, or give notice of one; he should then know what answer to give. It was usual either to make a communication on these subjects in private conversation, or to give a previous notice publicly.—Mr. W. then gaye notice for Monday; he did not want any private conversation.
[ORDERS IN COUNCIL.] The Chancellor of the Exchequer moved, that the house do resolve itself into a committee of ways and means, and that the Orders in Council, presented to the house on the 26th of Jan. (see p. 126.) be referred to the said committee.
Lord Henry Petty had hoped, that before this motion should be brought forward, some explanatory papers would have been produced, and some explanatory statements made, to remove the doubts which existed as to the legality of the Orders themselves. Certainly, if there were doubts as to the legality, those doubts ought to be removed, before the sanction of parliament was asked for the Orders. His arguments in the present stage, would be directed solely to the legality; for the policy of the Orders could be more conveniently canvassed in the committee. He certainly felt great difficulty in entering into an argument on this head. Unlearned as he was in the law, like the majority of the members of that house, he was perhaps unfit to form an opinion on the strict legal right. But since the majority of the house must be made to feel and to
in a state of blockade. This last was indeed a vain boast: it was incapable of execution, and no attempt had been ever made to execute it. He understood it to be a doctrine held by the best writers on jurisprudence, that when a principle was laid down, and not acted upon, that, as to all practical effect, it ought to be considered as null and void. For this maxim he had the highest authority, that of sir William Scott, the Judge of the Admiralty court, who, if he might trust to Robinson's Reports (which from their accuracy were no less valuable to the students of law, than to the classical reader, by perpetuating the perspicuous, chaste and elegant style in which the judgments in that court were delivered), had laid it down as a part of the law of nations, that a simple declaration of placing a port in a state of blockade, did not constitute a blockade without some fact to support it. He wished to know therefore, whether Buonaparte's declaration had been supported by any fact between the time it was issued and the 11th of Nov. the date of the Orders in Council; and in particular, whe
understand the legal right before they would consent to give their sanction, he, as well as any other might venture to state how far, according to his opinion, that legality might be doubted. He certainly felt how inadequate he was to oppose the right hon. gent. on a question of law, and particularly when supported by all the other high legal authorities, who must necessarily have been consulted on the drawing up of these Orders. But, no respect for any authority should deter him from opposing what he conceived to be contrary to the law of nations and the law of the land. The privy council was limited in respect to the Orders it might issue by the law of nations, as well as the Prize courts and the court of Admiralty; and there as well as every where else,the exercise of the prerogative was limited by fixed rules. This doctrine was sanctioned by the highest legal opinions. It would be found in the celebrated letter referred to in the duke of Newcastle's Paper respecting the Prussian ships, and signed by sir Dudley Ryder, and Mr. Murray the then attorney and solicitor general. It was expressly laid down by these great autho-ther its operation had ever been extended to rities, that the court of privy council was subject to the law of nations as well as the Prize court and the court of Admiralty. There was, besides, the principle, that government was never to interfere in such cases, and that no instructions were given to Judges. It was the opinion of lord Eldon, expressed on an appeal in the last war, that the Orders of Council were nothing but a definition of what was at that time held to be the law of nations. It was therefore now a fair matter of inquiry, how far the provisions of the Orders in Council now before the house were consistent with the law of nations and the law of the land. Whatever extraordinary doctrines might arise out of the circumstances of the times, and whatever extraordinary acts might arise out of those doctrines, it could never be allowed that the privy council should arrogate to itself what was the business of parliament. It was not consistent with the law of nations to scize the ships of neutrals, nor could a mere principle of retaliation upon a third party justify such a seizure. The Order in Council of the 7th Jan. last year, (p. 126) was in retaliation for a Decree of the French government. That decree consisted of two parts, one of which went to prevent the consumption or admission of English goods, and the other to place the British Islands
America, the power which was more immediately affected, both by his decree and the measures by which it had been combated on the part of the government of this country. As far as his information went, it never had been acted upon, and that, in an explanation given by M. Decres to general Armstrong, the American minister at Paris, the latter had received an assurance, that it never was the intention of the French government to extend its operation to American ships. At any rate, it would not only have been wise in the government of this country, but it was absolutely incumbent on it to wait till it saw the event; and such was the spirit with which the Order in Council of the 7th of Jan. 1807, was dictated. It was impossible for neutrals to complain of this Order, because it was only carrying into rigorous effect the rule of war of 1756, which had been since relaxed, and it was at the same time, that kind of retaliation from which the enemy suffered the most, because it put an effectual stop to the whole of his coasting trade. Government, too, then reserved to itself the power of recurring to measures of still greater severity, should they be found to be necessary. But ministers thought it wise at that time, and he wished those now in power had followed their example,
The Chancellor of the Exchequer was ready to admit, that in the view the noble lord had taken, and conceiving as the noble lord did, that the law of nations and the municipal law of the land had been violated, the noble lord was right in requiring explanation on these heads, before he agreed to the Speaker's leaving the chair. The noble lord wished now to argue the legality of these Orders in Council, and to reserve the question of policy to another stage of the business. But as the legality was so far from being decisive as to the policy, in the noble lord's opinion, the policy might as well be discussed first, and the legality after. The objections in point of law would not be found so strong as the noble lord had stated them. With respect to the principle that the law of nations did not admit of any variation, not by the privy council, as the noble lord had by mistake stated, but by the king in council, he was ready to allow that the prerogative was in that case limited and regulated by the same rules of public law as in every other. It was the exercise of the king's prerogative of war. He was free to admit, that neither the prerogative of the king in council, nor yet an act of parliament, nor any other act of any individual nation, could change the general law of nations, established and acted upon by general consent. Thus, if the thing could be legally done at all, it was as legally done now as it could be with the consent of parliament. Whatever right there was, might be as fairly exercised by the prerogative of the crown, the nation being at war, as enforced by the legislative authority. The measures that were now in force were suggested by the propriety of retaliating the aggressions of the enemy. It was extraordinary, after the example set by the late administration, that the noble lord condemned in opposition what he had as a minister sanctioned and approved. The noble lord said, that what was done by the French Decree of Nov. was mere matter of regulation, affecting only the internal regulations with respect to British merchandize. If the noble lord thought really so, he was right in maintaining and defending his opinion. But, what was to be lamented was, that the noble lord was not of the same opinion now and when in office. The Order in Council, restricting the coasting trade of France by means of neutrals, was a proof that the late ministers conceived the Order to be executed VOL. X.
beyond the bounds of mere internal regulation. If this was the sentiment of the late ministers, then what had happened since to make them think differently? Was it the late decree? It was hard, indeed, that having the authority of those who professed mildness in justification of this rigour, those who had avowed the necessity of more active measures, should now be condemned for having followed up what that authority sanctioned. He referred to former times thus far, only to shew that the policy now enforced had been recognised and acted upon by the late ministers. The decree of Buonaparte declared the British islands in a state of blockade, and subjected British property to confiscation. This was certainly, as far as regarded the blockade, a vain and empty boast. The noble lord stated, on the misconceived authority of his learned friend (sir Wm. Scott), that a declaration of blockade, if not followed up by an actual blockade, was of no force in law. That might be the case with respect to a single port; but when a whole country was declared in a state of blockade, the inability to enforce that blockade in its full extent, proved that the declaration was intended to lay a ground for the infliction of the consequent penalties. The French decrees alledged as the ground on which they proceeded, the fact of our declaring and considering as blockaded, ports before which there was not a single Birtish ship of war, and on the extension of that principle they declared our whole empire to be blockaded. Not a step was taken on our part to counteract this principle, till it was acted upon and enforced by the enemy. The noble lord had no authority to bear him out. If the noble lord was prepared to contend, that the enemy's decree did not admit the meaning his majesty's ministers affixed to it, what did it mean? But when they saw how it was worded and executed, it was too much to contend, that unless the decree for blockading the British islands was supported by a blockading force, encircling these islands, so as to make the approach to any port of them hazardous, it was not to be regarded as of force. France asserting, that we put ports in a state of blockade without a blockading force, and assuming the right of opposing an enemy with every art and every weapon he used, published the blockade of the whole British islands. What was to be inferred from this, but that, without ships to render Y