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count, which was only five pounds value for one hundred pounds paper currency, as for every five pounds they borrowed, they weie obliged to issue one hundred pounds in assignats} and this was a distress which unfortunately, from the nature of its cause, must every hour increase, in proportion to the wants of government, because, as it became necessary to make fresh issues of assignats, their value proportionally decreased. Such an effect had this circumstance produced, a circumstance stated and lamented in almost every speech in the Convention, on subjects of finance, that their expenditure, which three months ago was twenty-seven millions per quarter, was now twenty-seven millions a month, which was equal to the whole of our annual expenditure. All this was not matter of conjecture, but a thing admitted in the Convention itself, as he had just mentioned, not only in their speeches upon the subject, but in the decrees of their Committees at that mo* ment.
With regard to negotiation, he had no scruple to repeat* that there must be some regular and acknowledged government in France before we fliould treat with the French. He had to return his thanks to the Noble Lord for having given him an opportunity of answering what he certainly should not have touched on himself; but the Noble Lord had been so kind as to relieve him from the delicacy which he should certainly have considered as a sufficient bar to allusion, to have imposed silence upon him. The Noble Earl had mentioned .Sir Frederick Eden's mission to France, to negotiate for an exchange of prisoners. It was true that an attempt had been made to treat with the present government, and what had been the result? it had not only proved that the French had not a government capable of maintaining the accustomed relations ot amity and peace, but that they were incapable of carrying on war like a civilized nation. Even » with rebels and pirates had an exchange of prisoners, on principles of mutual convenience, been agreed to and canicd into execution; and yet the French, with all their boasted pretensions to philosophy and philanthropy, had refused to agree to an exchange os prisoners, even when famine was at their door, when such numbers of our brave seamen were languishing in prison, destitute of provision, the absolute means of existence, and when the number oi mouths to be fed added to the general calamity. In short, we could not treat with the French until they had a government that was not at war with other governments; a government that taught its subjects to respect the rights of other nations 1 and we saw, by changes of the very last week in France, that if peace were Vol. III. 3P made
made now with the present rulers, we should not have any security for its continuance for four and twenty hours. He thought, on a review of all the circumstances of the war, and the situation of all public affairs, thnt the best policy of this country was to continue the war with vigour, and therefore the motion before the House should have his direct negative.
The Earl of Guildford said, he found himself obliged to fife in order to prevent a false impression of his Noble Friend's argument from going forth, in consequence of the misrepresentations of it by the Noble Secretary of State; but he as* sured their Lordships he would not detain them long, but would confine what he had to fay to as few words as possible. His Noble Friend had not contended that the Emperor of Germany could not act in one way for the general good of the Empire, *nd in a very different way for the promotion of his own individual and separate interest; they all well knew, that every man standing in the Emperor's predicament, as head of the Empire and as King of Bohemia, could act one way for the Empire, and another way for himself; but the manner and the object for which his Noble Friend had used the argument, had been, that if the Emperor, as head of the Empire, did negotiate with the French republic, he thereby acknowledged it capable of holding the accustomed relationsof amity and peace, and that having so done, it would be in the highest degree absurd for him, as King of Bohemia, to contend that the French republic was incapable of holding the accustomed relations of amity and peace. The King of Great Britain might certainly be at war with France, and the Elector of Hanover at peace; but his Majesty, he was persuaded, had too much regard for the interests of England, ever to act in that inconsistent manner.
His Lordship owned he was more alarmed at what had fallen from the Noble Secretary than at any thing he had before heard, and he would much rather that his Noble Friend should not have made his motion, but that the question re-> htive to peace had been suffered to stand on the ground on which it was left at the end of the last debate on the subject, than put into the situation in which the Noble Secretary of State had now placed it, because, from what had been said by that Noble Lord, it was clear that the despair os his Majesty's ministers carried them so far beyond all hope, that unless the Parliament interposed its authority, and compelled them to negotiate, they were determined to risk the existence of the country, in order to preserve the existence of their own administration. The Noble Secretary os State's prophecies had 4 all all turned out to be false. From time to time they had predicted the speedy conquest of France, and all that while she had conquered province after province, and kingdom after kingdom. He wished his Majesty had better advisers, or that he had none: For if left to the affections which animate his breast, he would soon terminate a system which brought with it such devastation and horror. He lamented that a British Cabinet should now be the only obstacle to the general tranquillity of Europe, and he advised their Lordships to step forward and put a stop to proceedings which might end in the ruin of the country; for by such conduct as ministers observed, it appeared as if they were determined to proceed until the destruction of this country, or of France, is effected, and that nothing short os it would satisfy them.
Lord Mulgrave said, he rose on the same principle as his Noble Friend who had just fat down had done, viz- to prevent a false impression going abroad in consequence of the misrepresentation of the arguments of his Noble Friend the Secretary of State. His Noble Friend near him (Lord Grenville) had not argued the distinction between the Emperor as head of the Empire, and as King of Bohemia, in the manner stated by the Noble Earl, but had clearly said that it might be proper for him, under the sanction of the declared wishes for immediate peace on the part of the Diet of Ratisbon, to attempt to negotiate a peace with the republic of France, at even a greater risk and hazard than he thought it adviseable to negotiate at on his own account in his individual sovereign capacity of King of Bohemia. There surely was nothing irreconcileable or inconsistent in the Emperor's acting iii that manner, and agreeable to the distinction that he had juit stated. Another misrepresentation of his Noble Friend the Secretary of State's argument, as given by the Noble Earl, had been his declaration that it was now clear that nothing but the authority of Parliament could drive ministers from that mad career which their despair prompted, to risk even the existence of the country, rather than risk .the existence of their own administration. Nothing that his Noble Friend the Secretary of State had said, would warrant that conclusion so hastily drawn and insisted on with so must warmth by his Noble Friend the Earl. The inference fairly warranted both by the language and con? duct of ministers, on the subject of all motions of a tendency with the present, had uniformly been, that such motions, instead of accelerating peace on honourable and secure terms, which they wished as ardently as any set of men whatever, only produced embarrassment to the Executive Government, and threw additional difficulties in the way of their attaining that
3 P 2 dcsireable defircable object: That it was not consistent with common fense or common honesty, to attempt the negotiation of peace with France, under circumstances like the present; and that therefore, as men wilhing to shew themselves men of common fense and common honesty, they would not attempt it, unless their own judgment was compelled to give way to the authoritative voice of both Houses of Parliament. His Lordship declared he was the more astonished at the fort of language held by his Noble Friend, as to the propriety of treating • with France at this moment, when he considered the state of internal division and distress that the republic was at this time deeply involved in. The latest accounts proved the instability of the French government, and the different political opinions that influenced mens mind* and impelled them to conduct calculated rather to spread anarchy and extend confusion, than to shew that they were impressed-by one common sentiment of moderation and reason. With whom were ministers to treat in the present distractions and subdivisions of parties thflt characterized the French republic? Instead of being, as they affected to call themselves, one and indivisible, they were directly the reverse. Look to their navy; with which maritime port, Toulon, Brest, or Marseilles, were ministers to treat? The two former ports were at variance •, the fleet in Brest Water being governed by one opinion, the fleet in Toulon harbour by another; if they treated with either, it was indubitable that the other would be against them. His Lordship put thii point very forcibly, and contended that the reason why his Majesty's ministers did not think proper to treat or negotiate for peace with the republic at present, was because they wished' to conduct themselves as men of common fense and common honesty, because they thought it their duty to wait till the op? portunity offered itself os negotiating such a peace as Great Britain had a right to expect at their hands, a peace that was honourable and secure, and not with any view to the existencs os their own administration, or of any administration. The moment for beginning such a negotiation was not yet arrived i when it came, his Majesty's ministers would no doubt do their duty and embrace it; in the mean time he thought they acted wifely in resisting all such motions as the present, and there' fore, as he had not meant to detain their Lordships longer than was absolutely necessary, he would conclude with declaring that he should concur with his Noble Friend the Secretary of State, and give the morion his negative.
The EnrI tf Lauderdnle slid, he must once more trouble their Lordlhips with a few observations in reply to what the Noble Secretary of State had been pleased to urge in answer to
his argument. His Noble Friend (Lord Guildford) had done him complete justice in rescuing him from the misrepresentations of the Noble Secretary. He certainly had not argued the distinction taken respecting the conduct of the Emperor, as head of the Germanic body, and in the different and distinct situation of King of Bohemia, in the way in which the Noble Secretary had appeared to understand him j he had merely conr tended that if the Emperor treated for peace with the republic of France, on the part of the Empire, he must necessarily be considered in that instance as admitting that the French repubr lie was capable of maintaining the accustomed relations of amity and peace among nations; and that having so done, it would be the extreme of absurdity in him, in his character of King of Bohemia, to deny that the French republic were capable of maintaining those relations, and to continue to carry on the war on that principle. With regard to the difficulties that lay in the way of the Emperor, were he ever so much inclined to prosecute the war with additional vigour and energy, as ministers had assumed, let their Lordships only look to the Memorial of Count Schlick, the Imperial minister to the Assembly of the Circle of the Upper Rhine, in August last i and with regard to the difficulties that Spain, our other princi-r pal ally, h.?d to encounter to carry on the war, let them refer to the Madrid Gazette of the 2d of September last, and they would there fee that the counsellors of state offer a deduction jn their salaries of twenty-five per cent, from a conviction that the unforeseen expence of the war requires it: He must therefore insist on it, that if we seized the opportunity of making peace at this moment, it could scarcely fail to prove successful; and if their Lordstiips concurred in his motion, it would convince the Convention, and the people of France, that that House, as a House of Parliament, was cordially disposed to that important object, and willing to meet the wishes for peace so anxiously expressed by almost every member who has lately spoken on the subject in the Convention.
The Noble Lord, talking of the distinct interests of the Emperor, as head of the Germanic body ar.d as King of Bohemia, had thought proper to treat his argument on that head with a degree of contempt, and to fay it might be fit for coffee-house politicians to hold; but that men accustomed to consider state affairs, and their Lordstiips in particular, knew better than to fill their heads with any such idle notions. He knew not where the Noble Secretary of State acquired such contemptuous opinions of the intellects of his fellow-subjects; but he had ever found men who went to coffee-houses, and had turned their attention tQ the consideration of politics iu