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present motion tended to tie up the band of the prerogative.

Lord Holland contended, that the question did not at all affect the prerogative of the crown. It was only, whether that house would resolve, that it was expedient that the government should reserve to itself the power of restoring, eventually, the ships seized by us at Copenhagen to the Danes. He was not inclined at present to enter into any exposition of the shifting, prevaricating testimony that had been resorted to, in vindication of the Baltic expedition. One time Denmark was represented as sincere in her professions of neutrality, but too weak to act up to her intentions. At another, they were told, that as her sincerity was questionable, her means of annoyance were to be feared and provided against. Again, it was pretended, that the sole grounds of the expedition were the secret arrangement of the treaty of Tilsit; and when it was attempted to trace the alledged information to any authentic source, Portugal was at one period brought forward as the informer; and at another, the disaffected Irish. This short of shifting naturally created suspicion in the mind of every impartial man. Considering the present motion, with a reference to the question of peace, he appealed to the feelings of the noble lords, whether it would not be more for the honour of the country, if they could commence a negotiation, after a voluntary cession on their parts, rather than the subsequent degradation of a forced surrender, exacted by the stipulations of a treaty?

Lord Harrowby opposed the motion of the noble viscount, be

cause, instead of giving them facilities in a negociation for peace, it would better our government, and prevent them from obtaining the terms which they might otherwise secure. The arguments of the noble lords opposite went too far for their purpose; for, if they proved any thing, they proved, not that the Danish fleet should be kept in order, that it might be restored at some subscquent period, but instantly and without delay.

Lord Erskine observed, that we had gone to the Danish shores in an amicable character, and treated with the Danes on an amicable footing. We took them by surprize, when they were lulled into security, and then proposed that they should purchase the temporary protection of a foreign power, by the surrender of their independence as a nation for ever. With respect to the law of precedent he dissented from his noble and learned friend on the sack. The cases cited by his noble friend, were not, in his opinion, applicable to that before their lordships. There was no obligation whatever, on the part of this country, to restore to revolutionized Holland the ships taken from the stadtholder. With respect to the precedent of Toulon, the Toulon fleet was deposited in our hands on the express condition of its being restored on the restoration of monarchy. And in the treaty of Amiens, there was not one syllable said by France, indicative of any claim to that fleet. But there was nothing for which lord Erskine was more anxious than to shew to the world, that what we did was indeed the work of mere necessity; and that this necessity being once at an end, we scorned to enter into any pitiful calculation

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Lord Redesdale thought, that the original proposition of our commanders to restore the Danish fleet, was completely done away by the subsequent conduct of the Danish government, in rejecting the terms of that proposition, and entering into hostilities with this country.There was no nation in Europe to which Denmark had been so adverse, for several years back, as to this country. She would have acted hostilely towards us if she could; and our government acted wisely in depriving her of her Such a pledge as that for the restoration of those means would, instead of tending to conciliate, serve to produce an opposite effect, as it proposed to concede that before hand, which ought to be left for matter of treaty.

means.

The earl of Darnley conceived it to be peculiarly becoming that house to stand forward, for the purpose of rescuing the national character from the imputation naturally to be affixed upon it, by the Danish expedition.

Lord Mulgrave, to the assertion, that we did not want ships but men, replied by alledging, that we could have men enough at any time, but that we might stand in need of shipping.

Lord Grenville denied, that the house had yet come to any decision on the merits of the Dauish expedition; the evidence relative to which had not yet been laid before it. He explained the object of the

motion; it was by no means proposed, that the Danish fleet should be restored under any particular circumstances; but merely that, in order to facilitate a reconciliation, aud with a view to œconomy also, it should be kept in such a state as to prevent any obstructions to peace with Denmark, by enabling us to restore it with the least possible expence and difficulty. After deprecating the principle, that a state of war should cancel moral obligations, or that we should shrink from doing justice lest it should lead to loss, he proceeded to comment on the consequences likely to result from the nature of our attack on Copenhagen. So far from destroying, by that attack, the naval resources of Denmark, we had, particularly by the spirit we produced, contributed to promote and extend them. Her ports and arsenals were still remaining, with a vast quantity of naval materials; and any supply she wanted, she could without difficulty obtain. The profit to be derived from our iniquity was, in fact, immaterial while we had created a spirit, valour, and animosity to fight against us, which must furnish powerful aid to the common enemy.

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Lord Hawkesbury opposed the motion, as tending to fetter the executive government, in case of a negotiation with Denmark; as casting an oblique censure on the conduct of ministers; and as affixing a stigma upon a measure, which was both just and necessary.

Lord Sidmouth replied to lord Hawkesbury, on the usual grounds, that the Baltic expedition was neither just, necessary, nor politically necessary; and that at any rate the ships, under certain circumstances,

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ought to be restored to Denmark. The house divided. For lord Sidmouth's motion, 51.—Against it,

105.

House of Commons, Feb. 25.Mr. Sheridan submitted to the house a proposition, which appeared to him of the first importance. He had hoped, that strong information would have proved the attack on Copenhagen to have been an act of necessity; or that some unequivocal instance of the hostility of Denmark would have been shewn; or lastly, that some argument would have offered some tolerable pretext for their conduct. But when be found, that instead of this, they only made an awkward attempt to form something out of all the three; that they first pretended a strong necessity; that on being driven from this ground, they tried to point out a variety of provocations on the part of Denimark; that they then said, it was necessary to do some stout act, which might prove to the world that they could imitate Buonaparte; and that the result of the whole was a total denial of all actual information whatever, he could not disguise the unfavourable impression which had been made upon his mind. The allegation, that granting information was dangerous, was ever on the lips of those whose purposes required conceal ment. Admitting, however, that the granting of information might be sometimes inconvenient, perhaps even dangerous, publicity was the vital principle of our political constitution. Despotic governments bad some advantages from that secret lurking manner in which busiBess might be there transacted. The peculiar conveniences enjoyed

by a despotic government were balanced by advantages on the side of freedom ten thousand times greater. This proposition Mr. Sheridan illustrated in a very happy manner. Supposing that a case could be made out against Denmark, the house was without information respecting the real cause of the war with Russia. He took it for granted, that it was not simply the attack upon Copenhagen which had alienated the emperor of Russia from this country. It was owing to something that had occurred posterior to that attack, that he had arranged himself in the list of our ene mies: the communication imparted to the court of Petersburgh, of the foul, treacherous, and base proposals that were made after the capitulation of Copenhagen, by ministers to Mr. Rist, the Danish agent in this country, desiring Denmark to submit to any terms they might think proper to dictate, on the pain of having Norway wrested from that kingdom and given to Sweden. If he could trust to the papers, which he held in his hand, purporting to be the substance of a conversation which passed between Mr. secretary Canning and Mr. Rist, and copies of a correspondence, which passed between the courts of Copenhagen and Stockholm, it appeared that, at the very time when ministers were soliciting the mediation of the emperor of Russia between Great Britain and Denmark, they were threatening to de-poil Denmark of a part of her territories, and, after having evacuated Zealand, according to the capit lation, to co-operate with a Swedish garrison in again taking possession of it. Flagrant and wicked, as he conceived the first

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attack on Copenhagen to have been, to have violated the capitulation would have been still more base and criminal. Mr. Sheridan read the several papers to which he alluded; beginning with Mr. Rist's note to count Bernstorff, containing a communication of five different menaces, if the court of Denmark did not agree to subscribe to certain terms; and ending with a note addressed by baron Fawbe, the Swedish charge d'affaires at the court of Kiel, to count Bernstoff, the Danish minister, declaring, that "Had his Swedish majesty judged it necessary to occupy Zealand with his troops jointly with those of his allies, he should have done it; and the king wishes, that he may never find himself in the case to regret that he had acted otherwise."

Mr. Sheridan put the question to the house, whether it would sanction the new system of withholding all information relative to the measures of ministers? If it did, it would be better to decide at once, that the interference of that house was at all times an impediment to the operations of government; that parliament in difficult times was a nuisance; that it was better for the king to prorogue it during pleasure, raise money as he pleases, and make war or peace, when, how, or on what terms he may think proper. He implored ministers to desist from the system of fighting Buonaparte with his own weapons. Let them oppose lenity and moderation to his cruelty and oppression; good faith to his treachery; to his violence and despotism the mildness of the British constitution; and, above all, to his mystery let them oppose publicity. He con

cluded with moving, "That there be laid before the house, as far as the same could be done, without detriment to the public service, copies or extracts of the correspondence which passed after the capitulation of Copenhagen, between his majesty's ministers and the court of Stockholm, relative to the retaining possession of Zealand by a Swedish army, or in concert with his majesty's forces; also for copies or extracts of the correspondence which passed between his majesty's ministers and the Danish charge d'affaires, or his secretary, residentiary at the court of London."

Mr. secretary Canning replied, at great length, to Mr. Sheridan; to the most important points in whose speech he answered, that the doctrine of opposing publicity to the secresy with which the enemy conducted his affairs, would be very proper if we were prepared to become the subjects of that enemy; and that no such offer had been made of Norway to Sweden, as had just been alledged. It was true that what had passed between himself and the Danish charge d'affaires, had been reduced to a minute, in the shape of a protocol of a conference; but there was not in it a single word of what the right honourable gentleman had read from the Moniteur. The proposition that had been made to the Danish charge d'affaires, was, either that he should procure full powers to treat, or induce his government to appoint some person with such powers, to treat with a minister to be sent from this country to Copenhagen. This was the whole of the official communication. It would not be contended, that in any conversations he might have had with that gentleman,

gentleman, he was not justified in stating, what might possibly be the consequences of a refusal on the part of Denmark, or to advert to any other topics to induce Mr. Rist to make the application to his court. As to what had passed between the courts of Stockholm and Copenhagen, after the capitulation of Zealand, Mr. Sheridan must be aware, that such correspondence could never be produced to that house.-Mr. S. liad justly stated, that we had but one ally remaining, and that him we had brought into a situation of great peril. And what was the cure he proposed? what the acknowledgment of his fidelity? That we should lay be. fore the public the whole of his most intimate counsels, not with respect to dangers long past, but to perils actually impending, and which would be greatly aggravated by the production of the correspondence now moved for.

Mr. Canning, in the course of this speech remarked, that there was a very "observable sympathy between the gentlemen in opposition to him and his colleagues, and the French newspaper, called the Moniteur. No sooner than they were run dry by a debate, thau a number of the Moniteur arrived to supply them with a fresh topic. When their light was quite exhausted on any question, in came a Moniteur, from which a spark fell upon the gloom, and rekindled the beat of their arguments."

This drew a smart reply from Mr. Ponsonby, who, though sensible of the just rebuke of the right honourable secretary upon himself, and those on the same side with him, that they were grown dry in the debate, that they were

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quite exhausted in language, and required the prometheau fire of the Moniteur to rekindle them into activity, could never admit that any such imputation could be fixed on the right honourable secretary hinself. His ideas were not so numerous but that they could in a moment be put in array. The man who had but few ideas could readily summon them into action, particularly, when by perpetual practice they were drilled in all the evolutious of the disputant. The right honourable secretary was such an economist in his thoughts, and such a prodigal in words, that he could feel no embarrassment in debate. He could upon any occasion bring forward that chain of words which jingles in the car, farely affects the understanding, and never approaches the heart; but which some partizans might call eloquence..

Mr. Ponsonby proceeded to animadvert on various parts of Mr. Canning's speech.--The conduct of ministers in negotiating with Sweden for the occupation of Zealand after it should be apparently evacuated, in conformity with the capitulation, excited his astonishment. It exactly resembled the conduct of two highwaymen, one of whom should first address a passenger, demanding his money, and threaten his life, and the passenger offer his purse, but beg that his life might be spared; on this, the highwayman accepts -his purse, and promises not to injure him; but the moment he walks off, Ire whistles his companion from the hedge, and says, "Do you dispatch him.”

Mr. Windham said, the character of the country had been seriously accused, and to that accusation

Mr.

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