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enabled, by means of the numerous papers presented to parliament during the last session, to place in a clear and intelligible light, several transactions of the period of which he treats, which, till these papers had appeared, were involved in comparative obscurity. He alludes, in particular, to the origin of the war between Russia and the Porte; to the expedition of Lord St. Vincent to Portugal; and to the nature and grounds of our differences with the United States of America. He also flatters himself that his account of our domestic history will be found more than usually full as well as impartial,
For the YEAR 1806.
State of Europe at the Commencement of 1806.- Consequences of the Battle of Trafalgar-Animosity of Bonaparte against England.--Probability of Iresion.-Effects of the disastrous Coalition of 1805.—Ministry of England.—Meeting of Parliament.-Speech from the Throne.-Address.— Amendment read, but not moved —Last Illness and Death of Mr. Pitt.Remarks on some Parts of his Character.—Honours rendered to his Memory.
THE situation of Europe at the
commencement of 1806 was nexampled in history. Two rival ations had acquired, not merely a decided preponderance, but an absite and uncontrouled dominion, the one over the seas, the other over the land. If the battle of Austerz had confirmed the military supepority of France over other naGuns, and left her without a rival o the continent, the victory of Trafalgar had no less decisively es VOL. XLVII.
tablished the naval superiority of England, and crowned all her former victories on the ocean. The accumulated fruits of four years persevering labour and painful industry, on the part of France and her dependencies, to form aud col lect a navy, fit to cope with the maritime forces of England, had been swept away and annihilated in a single action. The importance of such a victory, at such a crisis, to England, cannot be easily exag
gerated or over-rated. For, it was not merely that the high-formed expectations of France from her newly repaired marine, in which she had so weakly indulged and prematurely exulted at the begin. ning of the campaign, were thus abruptly and thoroghly frustrated; or, that her projects of invading the British islands, under the protection of a powerful fleet, were again defeated: nor was it even that the most splendid victory had, on this occasion, been won by England, that was ever gained at sca; or, that the greatest number of vessels, of first-rate magnitude, had, in this action been taken and destroyed, that ever rewarded a conqueror in in any naval combat. But, the great and incalculable advantage to Eng. land, was the universal conviction arising from this victory, that, in the skill, bravery and discipline of her naval forces, she was so incompara. bly superior to her enemies, that all their future efforts to contend with her for the empire of the seas, must be as unavailing as their past endeavours had been fruitless. It was now clear, that, if the contest for pre-eminence between the rival nations were to be decided solely on the ocean, England had no thing to fear from the conflict. It was now manifest, that if England could not be invaded, without her enemics obtaining a temporary superiority, at least, at sea, the period of her invasion was still distant. If the trident of Neptune be really the sceptre of the world, England was now its undoubted inistress. The maritime trade of all nations was at her mercy, and subject in many respects to her control. It might now be said of her with greater truth, than when Gro
There was no country which England could not visit with her fleets, to conciliate its friendship, or take tengcance for its enmity; and, what was of more importance to her true interest and permanent good, there was no independent state, out of the reach of France, which she might not hope, by a wise and enlightened policy, to attach stedfastly to her party. For, whatever petty jealousies and temporary grounds of discontent might occur, to embroil her with other nations, it was her permanent interest, that the blessings of peace and civilization should extend to every corner of the earth. No country, independent of her enemy, could prosper, without England partaking in its prosperity: no country could increase in wealth or population, without finding by experience, that the ties connecting it with England, were drawn closer by its own progress and improvement. While the dominion of France was founded on military force and usurpation, and her power was chiefly felt by her neighbours, in the acts of rapine and oppression, of which they were victims, the elevation of England was owing to a long and successful cultivation of the arts of peace and industry, and could not be maintained an instant longer than she persevered in the paths in which she had risen to greatness. The only tribute she could exact from other nations, was the price which
they willingly paid to her for reEeving their necessities and grati. fying their wants: merchants, not armies, were the collectors of her foreign revenue: barter, not conquest, was her meaus of drawing to herself the riches of the world: and so fortunate for the general good of human society was the peculiarity of her situation, that it was impossible for her to increase her own wealth and resources, without communicating to other nations a portion of that spirit of industry which animated her people.
But, great and splendid as were the present circumstances, and fair as were in some respects the future prospects of England, her situation, on the whole, was, at this period, full of danger and alarm. She had embarked in hostilities with a most formidable adversary, and had hazarded a most unequal and disproportionate stake in the contest. The greatest injury which she could infict on her enemy, was the destruction of his commerce, and the subjugation of his colonies-objects which she had already almost accomplished. She might also, if she were inclined, retard by her intrigues, the peaceful settlement of his domestic affairs, and prolong, for a few years more, the reign of military government in his dominions. But she was unable to make any serious impression on his territories, or to weaken in the least the solid foundations of his power. While the utmost exertions of her hostility were limited to such paltry, ineffecfual warfare, the blow she was exposed to in return was of a most deadly nature. It was not her power and pre-eminence only, but her existence, that was threatened with danger: and this menace proceeded from an enemy, who was ac
tuated by every motive of policy, ambition, and resentment, to pursue her utter ruin and destruction. England was the only power that had ever set bounds to his ambition, or maintained with him a successful contest. She had defeated, in a former war, his most favourite enterprize, and had rejected. with scorn and contempt, the otters of peace, which, in the first overflowings of unlooked for success. he had addressed to her sovereign.-During the short interval of peace that succeeded to the revolutionary war, his pride had been shocked by the coldness with which she met his advances, and his vanity had been mortified and provoked, by the incessant libels against his person and government, that issued from her press. After a short and unsatis. factory experiment of peace, he had been disturbed by her interference, while employed in new modelling his empire; in pursuing plans of commercial and colonial aggrandisement; and perhaps in meditating future schemes of aggression against the peace and liberties of mankind: and, without any adequate cause or provocation, he had been compelled by her, to make his choice between renewing the war, to which he was most averse, or renouncing, publicly, in presence of France and of Europe, that which was known to have been the favourite object of his ambition, and the point he had been most anxious to secure by the treaty of peace, which he had so recently signed. Since the renewal of hostilities it was to the machina. tions of England, he believed, that he was to attribute a dangerous conspiracy within his dominions, which had threatened the existence of his government, and endangered B 2
the safety of his person: and there could be no doubt, that it was to her enmity, he was chiefly indebted for the late confederacy against him, which, with such good fortune and distinguished ability, he had defeated and put down. England once subdued, he might plausibly argue, he would be the sole and undisputed master of the universe: but, while England retained her independence, her maritime superio. rity, and her inveteracy against him, he must expect to be thwarted in all his commercial and colonial views, confined to the continent of Europe, and compelled, for safety, to sur. round his throne with an armed force, instead of emerging, as he desired, from the precarious and uncertain condition of a military chief, to be the head of a regular government, and the founder of a dynasty of kings.
That Bonaparte, after the renewal of hostilities, was animated by the most implacable hatred against England, and that he thenceforward considered her govern ment, as the eternal enemy of his peace and repose, cannot well be doubted: but why he chose to be gin the war with such ostentatious threats of invasion, such insolent denunciations of vengeance, is a point not easy to decide. It may have been merely to give vent to his own spleen, or to spirit up his people to a new war, that he used such impolitic, such unbecoming language towards his enemy.
may have acted from a deeper, though mistaken calculation, and supposed, that if he could terrify the English nation with the sound of his preparations, their government would yield to his terms; and, indeed, the publicity which he af
fected to give at this time to all his plans and operations, would seera to countenance such a conjecture. He may possibly have under-rated the difficulties of invasion, and seriously intended at first to carry his menaces into effect. But, if his object in these measures was to obtain peace by intimidation, never was his sagacity more in fault. The English were exasperated, not intimidated by his threats, and the little contidence, which they reposed at that time in the vigour of their own goverument, served only to call forth, in brighter colours, their zeal and ardour in defence of their country. It would neither be consonant to reason to believe, nor agreeable to truth to assert, that it was patriotism alone, which filled the ranks of the volunteers. Exemption from more dangerous and more disagreeable service contributed, no doubt, to swell the numbers of these citizen soldiers. But, it cannot be denied, that the spirit which the English nation manifested on this occasion, shewed at once their belief in the sincerity of Bonaparte's threats, and proved how far he had been mistaken in supposing, that their minds were enervated by luxury, or their military ardour extinguished by commerce.
But, though the body of the English people were thoroughly persuaded, that Bonaparte meant speedily to invade them, and waited only for a favourable opportunity to embark his forces; and, though there were men of talents and consideration in the country, who believed, or affected to believe, that such was his intention; those who had considered well his character, when they reflected on the difficulties and uncertainty of the attempt,