H́nh ảnh trang

to forty millions fterling. Neither the annual revenues of Ireland, nor of the Weft or Eaft Indies, made part of this account; and these were computed twelve millions more. This prodigious income, inftead of fuffering the leaft diminution from

the preffures of fo extenfive a war, was incontrovertibly on the increase, through the irrefiftible exertions of the British marine in every part of the globe, and through the fpirit of enterprize that animated the com, mercial claffes of the nation.



The Sentiments of the French towards the English.-Motion in the Houfe of Peers by the Earl of Stanhope, for Non-interference in the Internal Affairs of France.-Unanimously rejected.-Motion of a like Tendency in the Houfe of Commons.-Negatived.-Motion in the House of Peers for facilitating the Opening of a Negotiation with France.-Negatived.-Motion for a vigorous Projecution of the War.-Carried.--Sundry Motions for. Preparing a Way for Peace with France.-Negatived.-Motion in the Houfe of Commons for an Inquiry into the State of the Nation.-Negatived.-Another to the fame Intent in the House of Peers.-Negatived.Motion in the House of Commons, tending to a General Pacification, by Mr. Wilberforce.-Negatived.-A Motion of a fimilar Tendency in the Houje of Lords.-Negatived.


HE French, in the midft of their successes, against all their other enemies, were deeply exafperated at the unconquerble refiftance of the English, and at the refolute perfeverance with which thefe ancient rivals feemed determined to oppose them every where. The principal speakers in the convention were not wanting in their endeavours to depreciate the British character, as degenerated and fallen from that height to which it had rifen in former periods: but the people of fenfe and knowledge, with which France abounds, were ftrongly impreffed with the conviction, that the English were the moft formidable of their enemies, and that more danger was to be apprehended from them than from all the other powers of the coalition. It was from this conviction that the ruling men in France were fo earnest in ftirring up the people to exert themselves, in order to overcome their other foes with all poffible speed,

that they might be able ultimately to encounter England, deprived of all foreign affiftance, and reduced to depend folely on itfelf. Until they could compafs this point, they were perfuaded that the utmost effect of their fucceffes, however great, would only be to produce a temporary and precarious ftate of fecurity: which, while England animated the coalition with its fpirit, and fupported it with its treafures, would always be liable to be fhaken and destroyed through the undiminished efforts which the Englith would never ceafe to make, and the unabated courage their example would infufe into their allies.

Such were the general ideas of the French at this critical period. They were no lefs thofe of the Englith themselves. But the heavy burdens, neceffary to be borne by the public for the profecution of this expenfive conteft, excited the more difcontent, that the object of it did not appear clearly afcertained, and [N3]


feemed continually to vary in thofe whom it principally behoved to free it from uncertainty. Prompted by motives of this nature, the principal members of the oppofition, in both houfes, refolved to renew their endeavours to procure the government's aflent to their motions for a

negotiation with France. So early as the fixth of January, earl Stanhope moved, in the houfe of lords, that a declaration fhould be made, purporting that Great Britain neither ought nor would interfere in the internal affairs of France. He fupported this motion with a variety of arguments: he particularly infifted on the numbers, the difcipline, and the excellent condition of the French armies, which confifted of more than a million of men, and had vanquifhed, during the courfe of a fingle campaign, the brave and moft expert veterans in Europe. He flated their pecuniary refources at four hundred millions fterling, exclufive of their poffeffions in land. He compared the depreciation of their paper-money to what had happened in America, which, notwithstanding the hopes conceived in this country from that circumftance, had main tained its ground against all the boaf ted might of our treafures. It was abfurd, he faid, to pretend that our ftrength was unimpaired, and that we had fuffered no lofs. Had we not loft Holland, and the Netherlands? Had not upwards of one hundred and thirty thoufand of the choiceft troops of our allies cither fallen in battle, or been made prifoners? Were not these mortifying circumftances to a people whofe reputation had flood fo high previously to this unfortunate conteft? But what was its object? one that ought to cover

the British nation with shame: to deprive the French of a government, erected by them on the ruins of their former fervitude. Were we the only people entitled to be free? The pretence for this quarrel was a refolution pafled in the convention, which had been refcinded the moment they found it had given offence to our government. On thefe, and other allegations of a fimilar import, lord Stanhope moved the propriety of entering into a pacific negotiation with France.

The earls of Abingdon and Carlife oppofed the motion for the many reafons that had already been alleged in preceding debates againft treating with France. Lord Aukland feconded them, and attributed the difafters of the foregoing campaign to the bad management of the allies, and the want of concert in their operations. Nevertheless, it were, he faid, bad policy to betray defpondency, and prudence dictated perfeverance in the conteft, until we could terminate it honourably. Were it once made evident that France had renounced the ambitious defigns fhe had unquestionably been profecuting, in confequence of the unexpected fuccefles, no objections could lie to a fair and juft negotiation with her on fafe and equitable terms: but till this were unequivo cally manifefted, our only fecurity was to continue the war with vigour. He did not mean, however, that the restoration of monarchy should be infifted on at all hazards to this country; but only that while hoftilities lafted, we fhould employ our whole ftrength to reftore it, as that fpecies of government which would beft aufwer the purposes of general peace and fafety to all the powers

in the coalition. Neither the fortune nor the power of the French were objects fo formidable as reprefented. Their profperous career was uncontrovertibly owing to peculiar circumftances, which would have enabled any enemy to be victorious. Their means of refiftance had, however, been ftretched to fuch a degree, that it was highly improbable they would bear mach more extension. It was, therefore, incumbent on the coaEtion to remain firmly determined to improve the circumftance of their interior preffures to the utmoft. Notwithstanding the French had difplayed uncommon firmnefs in bearing the many calamities they had brought upon themfelves, yet it was clear that their patience was almoft exhaufted. This was the favourable moment for exerting our firength our means were unimpaired, and with unanimity and refolation we yet had it in our power to compel the enemy, if not to fubmit to our own terms, at least to treat with us on a footing of equality.

The earl of Mansfield infifted on the right of a nation to interfere in the government of another that acted on principles dangerous to its neighbours: the French having indifputably adopted fuch principles, thofe against whom they were levelled, might juftly challenge their renunciation, and till this were procured, to the fatisfaction of all the parties concerned, thefe could not be cenfured for exerting all the Reans in their power to accomplish an object they had the cleareft title to look upon as their indubitable claim.

The duke of Bedford, and the marquis of Lanfdowne, coincided with earl Stanhope's motion, though

they did not approve his manner of expreffing it. The ear! replied to the animadverfions of his opponents with much accuracy, afferting, among other particulars, that the obnoxious decree of the 19th of November, 1792, was erroneously attributed to the convention, by which it had never been regularly adopted. His motion was rejected by a majority of fixty-two, himself ftanding alone against all his opponents.

In the houfe of commons, a motion of a like tendency was made by Mr. Gray, on the 26th of February. The direct purport of it was, that the prefent government of France ought not to be confidered as precluding a negotiation for peace. Two years of a moft bloody and expenfive war had, he obferved, now elapfed without bringing us nearer to the object propofed, than at its commencement. It was a war which, from the minifterial lan guage, could only terminate with the deftruction of one of the combatants. He asked whether the houfe ferioufly approved this dreadful determination? The nation had a right to know the minifter's mind on fo important a queftion. The French theinfelves had a right to demand from the English, what the ob ject was for which they were contending. He noticed that, prior to the commencement of the war, the king had received the thanks of the houfe for his prudence in abftaining from interference in the affairs of France; and yet the people of that country had dethroned their king at that time, and abolished the nonarchy. Hence it plainly appeared, that we did not confider the republican form of government they had adopted, as incompatible with the FN4]


fafety of our own. If, however, the fenfe of the house went to the indifpenfible neceffity of deftroying the fyftem now established in France, it was their duty to reflect, without animofity or prejudice, whether fuch an attempt were practicable. The only chance we could reafonably look to, for the accomplishing fo arduous a task, was a counter-revolution, to be effected by the French themselves, or fuch a depreffion of their finances as would abfolutely deprive them of the means to refift their enemies; but, was either of thefe the cafe? was it not clear, to unbiaffed obfervers, that an irrefiftible majority of the French were decided republicans, and fworn enemies to a monarchy? their finances, however unfixed and irregular, had hitherto answered every purpose they had propofed. The example afforded, of the uncertainty of pecuniary calculations, by the late conteft with our loft colonies, ought to teach us, that national energy and fpirit are the best and fureft refources, and that money is far from being the principal finew of war. The real debts of France, free from exaggeration, did not at the prefent hour exceed, if they approached, four hundred millions; but, to counterbalance them, the landed poffeffions of the state amounted to more than fix hundred. Great Britain, doubtless, abounded in resources; but, what were those of our allies? Did they not explicit ly acknowledge, that they depended on our treafures for the maintenance of their armies in profecuting this war? Were they not, therefore, rather mercenaries, than allies, fighting for pay, and not from principle? Could we truft fuch confederates? Had not a principal one of these al

lies betrayed us, in the moft feandal ous manner, and materially injured the interefts of the coalition? Thus we were undeniably reduced to the neceffity of fupporting every one of our confederates, with the alarms ing reflection, that we could not place the leaft reliance upon any one of them. Was this a fituation to be embraced by a people who were not governed by the moft fatal delufion? Ought not the condiderat on of these various circumftances to induce us to liften to thofe whọ hold up the propriety of terminating the conteft, upon any terms that were fafe and honourable, rather than to continue it at an expence that muft ultimately involve us in the most obvious and unavoidable danger? To treat was not to fubmit: if the French, grown prefumptuous from our moderation, fhould make unreasonable demands, it would become our duty to refufe them; and the magnanimity of the British nation would cord ally adopt every measure that a spirited minif try might think proper to propofe.

To thefe and other allegations, Mr. Pitt replied, that, notwithstanding the French had been fo fuccefsful, there was no motive fufficiently ftrong to induce this country to look upon the affairs of the coalition as in a state of danger: he would not, therefore, fwerve, in the least, from his refolution to move, that it was the determination of the house to profecute the war, as the only means of procuring a permanent and fecure peace; relying on a vi gorous employment of the force of this country, to effect a pacification with France, under any govern, ment capable of maintaining the relations of peace and amity. This furely, faid Mr. Pitt, was not to in

« TrướcTiếp tục »