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tent of the French Decree upon which | proposed certain duties on foreign produce they were founded, and which they were intended to counteract.
exported from England. The resolutions were then agreed to pro forma, and the report ordered to be received on Monday.
HOUSE OF LORDS,
Monday, February 8.
EXPEDITION TO COPENHAGEN.] The Duke of Norfolk rose, agreeably to notice, to move for certain Papers which might tend to throw more light on the motives which had induced his majesty's ministers to propose and undertake the Expedition to Denmark. As he understood that the production of some of the papers for which he should move, would not be objected to, he should begin by moving for those papers, that the observations which related to one set of the papers, might not be entangled with those which referred to another set; he should now therefore, move, an humble address to his majesty, praying he would be graciously pleased to direct, that there be laid before the house, such Proclamations as had been issued by our naval and military commanders, before Copenhagen, previous to their attack upon that city. This motion being agreed to, the noble duke proceeded to move for papers of a more specific nature, which related to the hostile intentions of Denmark, and the secret arrangements en
Sir Arthur Piggott said, that more pains had been taken to shew, that the Order in Council, issued by the late administration was wrong, than to prove that the Orders since issued by the present ministers were right. He was much deceived, or his majesty's government would in a month, perhaps in a week, regret the consequences to which these measures would give rise. Hle must therefore unite in the wish and advice of his right honourable friend, that before it was too late, ministers would consent to reconsider and revise them, and seriously examine how far, under the circumstances that were likely to arise, they should adopt or reject them. At all events, they ought not not be pressed now. The house should pause and reflect how ruinous their effects might prove to our trade; more especially how they might affect our intercourse with America, almost the only power with which we now had to remain in amity. If they, or any neutrals, could carry on any trade at all, the whole of that trade must be carried on through this country, and under such regulations as we might chuse to impose upon it. Why, then, hazard cutting up our trade altogether? As to the Order in Council of Jan. 1807, it never was intended to justify it on the principle of re-tered into at Tilsit between the emperors taliation. It never was conceived in that spirit, or intended to be enforced on that principle. It was, therefore, with infinite surprize, that he had heard it compared with the measures that had since been adopted, and in support of which such monstrous doctrines had been broached and insisted on; and his surprize was further increased, when he found it asserted, that the said Order even went to a greater extent than the present Orders, and that their spirit and principle were deduced from it. Nothing could be more unfounded, and nothing could he deprecate more than a blinded; and this view of the affair led him, and hasty decision upon such important and critical points.
Alexander and Napoleon, and which arrangements were said to be hostile to the interests of this country. Without the production of documents of this description, it was utterly impossible for ministers to make out a case that should appear justified by the necessity under which they pretended to have acted, and which formed the chief apology for their conduct. He was aware that a necessity might exist that would supply a complete vindication, but the difficulty was to draw the line where that imperious necessity commenc
for a moment, to notice the Declaration subscribed with his majesty's name, which Mr. Eden declared, that really he did had received the sanction of the British expect that some case would be made government, and which must be attriout against America, before such a mea- buted to the advice of the servants of the sure as the present would have been pre- crown. After an attentive perusal of that sented to the house for its adoption. As instrument, he could discover no such neno such case was attempted to be shewn, cessity as had been pretended; that athe found it his duty to oppose the motion. tempt at justification which had been sub--The question was then put and carried.-mitted to the eyes of all Europe had failThe house then went into a committee, ed, and we were exposed to the disgrace in whicht he Chancellor of the Exchequer consequent on this failure. Admitting
there was such a necessity, the difficulty of our situation was to be met with wisdom and policy. It was not enough that by the effort we gained something; we must compare the losses with the acquisitions, and determine which preponderated. True it was, that we had gained possession of the Danish Navy; but by that possession we had thrown Denmark into the arms of France, and encreased the number of our enemies by the addition of this neutral and independent kingdom. He did expect that some pains would have been taken to satisfy the house on this questionable transaction: that the Declaration being incompetent, the deficiency would have been supplied by documentary evidence, showing, that had the Danish fleet not been captured by our Navy, it must inevitably have fallen within the grasp of the enemy. It was said, that the danger was imminent, because Holstein was in the power of France. This assertion was incorrect; but were the fact otherwise, until the whole of Jutland should have been occupied by the troops of the foe, no such peril was to be apprehended; but, after we had committed this act of injustice and violence, every thing was to be feared, because we had, by our own misconduct, alienated the affections of a friendly state; yet, if the French army were in Jutland, was the conquest of Zealand secure? While the Danes possessed a fleet to defend themselves, the enterprize would have been hazardous and difficult, and might have ultimately terminated in the triumph of naval over military tactics. But the utility of the Danish marine was not confined to herself; it was the constant object of jealousy to Russia, and contributed to controul the operations of that power, which was now inimical to this country, and had the complete dominion of the Baltic Sea. Was it intended by ministers to assert that no nation on earth had a right to naval power except Britain? The same policy which led them to capture the Danish fleet should have urged them on to Cronstadt, to seize the navy of Alexander; and the marine of Portugal should, on the like principle, have been forced into our harbours. To the application of such a rule of conduct, the globe itself could assign no limit: from the British Channel to the confines of China it was to be extended. Not Denmark only, but Russia also, by such an aggression, was converted into an inveterate enemy
Russia, from whence our arsenals were supplied with the most valuable articles for the maintenance of our maritime strength.--Russia, who herself possessed a powerful navy, which would become a most important accession to the naval resources of France. Ministers, surely, under such circumstances, would be disposed, for their own credit, to lay before the house all possible information, to silence the tongue of calumny, which had been so loud upon the occasion. His principal motive in applying for these documents was, certainly, the preservation of the honour of the country, which so long had maintained its character and dignity amongst the nations of Europe. He did not think it necessary to detain their lordships any longer, on a question to which he could not conceive that there existed any well-grounded objection, but should content himself with moving an humble address to his majesty, praying for the production of the substance and dates of all information transmitted by his majesty's ministers at the court of Denmark, during the last year, respecting the naval force of that country; and more particularly respecting the measures that had been adopted for augmenting the same, or for putting it in a state of forward preparation for sea.— -On the question being
Marquis Wellesley rose. He said he had listened with the greatest attention to the speech of the noble mover, but must certainly differ from him as to the necessity of having before their lordships the mass of documents, which had been called for. What! could their lordships doubt for a moment, that they had not sufficient proof before them to justify the conduct of his majesty's ministers, in having undertaken that great and saving measure, the Expedition to Copenhagen? He thought that without any further proof than what was already before their lordships, the question was now ripe for discussion. stating this, he rested on the proofs before their lordships and the country, he meant the various circumstances and facts which could not escape the notice of the most common observer. Why ask for official documents, when their lordships might adduce the progress of events, the relative situation of Denmark and France, and then again the relative situation of England with either, or with both? To ask for further proofs than the circumstances of the case exhibited, would be to slur
and insult the national character. In fact, in the breast of their lordships of his hasuch a parliamentary proceeding would tred, and of disposition to try all means by be to cast a reproach on the country for which he might accomplish our ruin and having defeated the enemy, and frustrated overthrow; and how could he expect to his designs by anticipation. With a view, promote his designs so effectually as by however, of going as largely into the sub- the complete ruin of our commerce and ject as some noble lords seemed to wish, naval superiority? He had asked their he should consider, first, the necessity of lordships, whether they could hesitate for the case; next, the designs of France, a moment to decide that such was the inand her means to accomplish them; tention of Buonaparte; but if doubts thirdly, the means of Denmark to resist could be still entertained on a subject, France; and, lastly, the law of nations, which to him appeared as clear as possias involved in the question. He should, ble, surely they must be removed by the in taking his view of the state and con- declaration of the enemy himself, who dition of France, not carry their lordships vaunted, soon after the battle of Friedland, attention farther back than the battle of that he had conquered the peace of the Trafalgar, that proud and glorious event continent. And how did he gain his obfor the honour and independence of this ject even on the continent? By compelcountry. At that period there was a hos-ling the powers whom he conquered, or tile disposition against France on the continent; even after the defeat of the Prussians, there existed an enmity and disposition on the continent against her influence and dominion; in fact, as long as the continent saw any hope of resisting the French with success, a rancorous feeling and disposition to manifest resistance, appeared, either directly or indirectly, in most places which could bid defiance for the moment to the power of France; but he was sorry to add, that the feelings and disposition which had thus distinguished the continent, while the fate of France was questionable, immediately changed after the unfortunate battle of Friedland. From that time the hope of the continent was turned into despair, the face of things was altered, and instead of resistance being thought of, every thing fell before the sword of the triumphant armies of France. Taking up the situation of Buonaparte at this period, how different was it from his condition at the period when we gained the victory of Trafalgar! Though a short time had elapsed from the achievement of that memorable event to the success of the French at Friedland, yet such a sudden change had taken place on the continent, that the hopes of further resistance to them seemed wholly abandoned. This, then, being the relative situation of France and this country at the time, it must be obvious to every thinking mind that Buonaparte would immediately turn his views and power against the resources and ascendancy of the British empire. Did their lordships want any proof of his intention to destroy and annihilate our independence, nay, our very existence as a nation? Could a doubt remain
whom he intimidated into an alliance, to
Britain. This plan was not confined to Denmark; it was to be extended to Portugal; and in both countries all British subjects were to be seized, every means of oppression was to be employed, the combined forces of these kingdoms were to be directed to complete the punishment of the oppressors of the seas, the enemies to the freedom of navigation throughout the world. This was not vague conjecture: the purpose was disclosed at the court of France by her military ruler to the ambassadors of Portugal and of Denmark, in immediate succes sion. The communication was not made in the moment of haste, or under the ebullition of passion: it was imparted during the frigid formalities of state ceremony. It was well known, that before the 1st of September, he publicly demanded of the minister of the court of Portugal, in the presence of the ministers of all the courts who had envoys in his presence, whether he had transmitted his order to the court of Portugal to join their fleet to the maritime confederacy against England, to shut their ports against its trade, and to confiscate the property of its subjects within the Portuguese territory and having said this he turned round to the Danish minister and asked him, whether he had transmitted the same order to his court? The design of the emperor of the French, therefore, to draw the fleet of Denmark into his power, was manifest, and no documents were required to make it more clear. That he had the power to carry his designs into execution was to him equally clear.-It had been asserted by the noble duke, that many difficulties would remain to be encountered, even after the enemy should be in possession of the peninsula of Jutland. The noble marquis said he had himself taken some pains to collect information as to the maritime obstructions and facilities on the coast of Zealand, which he would submit to the notice of their lordships, in answer to the opinions to which he had just adverted. The ordinary state of the Belt in the winter season was to have the passage intercepted by floating ice, which was carried off by the current, and dispersed by the wind, or occasionally melted during a warm interval, so as entirely to disappear. There were no tides in the Belt; and the course of the stream accompanying the wind, nothing was more frequent than for vessels in that channel to be driven off from their station. In
this situation of things, the enemy might with facility effect his purpose of transport from the adjacent territory. The large extent of coast was another circumstance to be considered; so that, without the necessity of supposing any favourable state of the elements, it could be readily imagined, that the occupation of the continental dependencies of Denmark would be soon followed by the conquest of her insular possessions. It might be inquired, if the Danish army would be inactive during these hostile proceedings? What was its strength? It was stated at 25,000 men, on paper; but he believed, in effective force, it did not exceed 18,000. How could this irregular levy encounter the victorious troops of France, poured into the country in numbers, at pleasure, proportioned to the degree of resistance to be expected? It perhaps would also be asked, on what principle of policy it was that we offered to guarantee to Denmark the security of her dominions, when so much difficulty must attend their preser-, vation? He would not pretend to determine what might have been the result, had the Danish army been supported by British valour, and had their combined exertions being aided by the organization of a patriotic people, in defence of their hearths and their altars; but, in any view he could take of the subject, it would have been an arduous and difficult enterprize. Some inconvenience would have arisen from other causes. Zealand did not afford a sufficient quantity of provisions for the maintenance of its own inhabitants; and hence, even for the ordinary demand, it was necessary for her to obtain her principal articles of subsistence from Holstein and Jutland, If numerous forces were collected in the island, much larger demands would be made upon the continent than could be answered, because the French would be in possession of those dependencies, and thus the apparent means of security would increase their danger, and they would ultimately fall a sacrifice to their own necessities. Whatever might be the disposition of England to assist them in this emergency, it might be physically impossible; the inclemency of the season would, probably, prevent access at the time when communication was absolutely necessary to their support. Reflecting, then, on all these circumstances, it was his firm conviction, that whenever the French thought it necessary to their schemes of aggrandisement or power, Zea
land would have become an easy victim to no trifling accession; 40 sail of the line their ambition. The policy of Buonaparte would have been placed in a commanding might, perhaps, have dictated less violent situation for the attack of the vulnerable means; he might have contented himself parts of Ireland, and for a descent upon with threats, "I will spare you," he might the coasts of England or Scotland; and in have said " your islands; I will even re- opposition to this formidable navy the adsign to you your continental possessions, miralty could not have assigned any comon the condition that you unite your naval petent force, without weakening our staand military forces with the rest of Europe tions in the Mediterranean, in the Atlanagainst the common enemy. If you ob- tic, and in the Indian seas, at a time when stinately persevere in maintaining your it was most necessary to maintain our superelations of amity with the despot of the riority in all these situations. Such being ocean, your German provinces shall be the character and power of the enemy, partitioned by new claimants, and your and such the condition of Denmark, was islands shall become dependencies on the it possible that any one of their lordships adjacent shores." It was not difficult to could assert that the danger was not immidiscern, that Denmark had no strong bias nent? The case of danger, made out, even in favour of this country: her disposition in the imperfect manner he had stated it, was manifestly shewn on the memorable was so great, that it concerned the very occasion of the armed neutrality. But existence of the country, as an independent nice inquiries into her political attach- power. Had ministers not acted as they ments were not, in the present circum- had done, they would have fatally abanstances, necessary; it was sufficient to doned their highest duties; and he hoped shew, that she was absolutely dependent in God, that if ever similar circumstances upon France; and the unavoidable con- should occur, the same wisdom would be clusion was, that she would be subservi- found at the helm, to conduct the vessel ent to the purposes of France. The state of the state in security, amid the shoals of the continent necessarily assimilated and rocks that threatened its destruction? her interest to that government; and, in The moment was precious: a few weeks, truth, she held her most productive terri- perhaps, the progress of a single week, tories only by its permission. Not only would have rendered the attempt unsucher dominions, but the chief support of cessful, and we should have been exposed her importance-her commerce, was at to all the dreadful consequences he had the disposal of the same power; for, in detailed. Addressing a British audience, time of war especially, she must be de- he could scarcely justify arguing the subprived of her intercourse with the most ject; the peril to which the nation was opulent states, unless the concurrence of liable called up every sentiment of affecFrance should sanction her proceedings. tion to our constitution, to our liberties, From all that had been urged on these and our laws, and, in terms mandatory various departments of the subject, he and irresistible, dictated the course which would draw three natural inferences. 1st. must be pursued. The violence which It was the purpose of France to seize the had been attributed to this measure was Danish Fleet. 2d. It was in the power of unavoidable; every attempt at negociaFrance to seize it. 3d. Denmark had no tion was unsuccessfully made; every offer adequate means of resistance-.He would of remuneration was insultingly rejected. consider these positions now as sufficiently It would have been useless to have extorted established, and would proceed to some promises from a people wholly at the disother matters of great weight in his viewposal of the enemy; nothing less than the of the subject. What would have been resignation of the fleet was sufficient, and the consequence, had France obtained the the means by which it was obtained was co-operation of this powerful marine? justified on every principle of truth, of Their lordships would immediately per-equity, and of honour. The great maxceive, that it would not have been a soli- ims of the law of nations were founded on tary acquisition. It would have been ad- the law of nature; and the law of security ded to the navy of Russia, and the sub- or self-preservation was, among these, the jection of the Swedish fleet would have most important and sacred. It was a precipitately followed; and thus, the whole law equally to be obeyed by individuals of the floating strength of these three and communities. The king, placed at powers would have been under the con- the head of the great society subsisting on troul of our enemy. It would have been these islands, had no duty paramount to