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There were, Mr. Pitt said, many circumstances in the present situation of France, favourable to a disposition to treat for peace, though it was a question whether they were sufficient to make it advisable or practicable to treat. The present government of France was praised very highly by him, compared with the preceding forms; but he still questioned the ability of the French to carry it into execution. That constitution, said Mr. Pitt, in the form in which it has been decreed, may have been examined, and may have been put in activity with such acquiescence of the nation, as to enable their representatives to speak on behalf of the people of France; and I have no difficulty in saying, if that event should have taken place, from that time all ob. jections to the form of that government, and to the prin. ciples of that government, all objections to them, as ob. stacles to negotiation, will be at an end. I will also state, with the same frankness, that, should that be the termination, whether it will then lead to the issue of competent security, and a reasonable satisfaction to this country, must depend on the terms. If, under those circumstances, by any precipitate and premature desire for peace, from any disposition to under-rate our real strength, or any want of fortitude to bear what I admit to be real difficulties,-if we should overlook the ten thousand times more complicated distress of the enemy, and put an end to the advantages they give us for obtaining peace on just and suitable terms, that would in my opinion be the most fatal event that could possibly happen.
Mr. Pitt proceeded to mention his regret, that, in consequence of the desertion of the allies, the issue of the contest would be much less satisfactory than it might have been. Comparing the situation of the people of this country with that of France, he enlarged upon the variety of advantages they enjoyed. He accused the French of having failed in maintaining their neutrality in America where some subjects of France had endea.
youred to excite a conspiracy, and had interposed also with the republic of Geneva. Did it, he asked, follow, because the French did not attack the king of Prussia when they were warmly engaged against their other ene. mies, that they would have paid the same attention to a general peace? They would then indulge those passions of resentment, ambition, or caprice, to which a military republic might be supposed to be liable. countries of Great Britain and Hanover could not pursue the same line of policy, from their different situation. He denied that he had made war upon private opinions, for the purpose of extirpating them. The French contended, that they alone had the only lawful government: if we had subdued the malignity of that opinion, we had vindicated ourselves and Europe from the greatest dangers.
DUKE OF BEDFORD.
On the Address to his Majesty.
He thought, when an address was proposed to be carried to the throne, that it was consistent with the dignity of parliament to adopt a language of its own, rather than that of the minister. He should therefore recommend language very different from that of the address proposed. The inability of the French to continue the contest, had been the constant theme of ministers from the commencement of the war; and the ingenuity of administration in contriving excuses for carrying it on, was admirable. Years ago, their lordships had been told that the French could not hold out three months
longer ; but practice, opposed to theory ; had proved ; that, in proportion as ministers had affected to depreciate their resources, their vigour had increased. The improvements, said by ministers in the speech to have taken place since the last year, he spoke of as a gross and palpable misrepresentation. He did not expect to hear it stated as a matter of triumph on our part, that the French had not been able to over-run Italy. If this was triumph, he should soon expect to hear it was a matter of satisfaction that we still existed as a nation. We were told that the advantages obtained by the enemy were far from compensating the calamities of war. This was true ; for victory after victory, without one defeat, could not do this ; but if this was the case with the victorious party, what was our condition, without victory, with many defeats and fosses, and the desertion of our allies? If, as we are told, the French people wished for peace, of which he had no doubt, what must be the wish of the people here in their present suffering situation? His grace said, he had expected some hopes to have been held out, when we were told that France was come to a crisis that would produce important events to Europe. Did ministers mean to insinuate that the present government of France was not such as was capable of keeping the faith of treaties? At this time they dared not attempt so gross a delusion on the understanding of their lordships. There never, indeed, was any thing solid in the objection to their ability to preserve the faith of treaties and neutralities, as was evi. dent from repeated instances. His grace noticed the calamities already consequent upon the war, and the disasters of the last campaign. In the expedition to the coast of France, besides the sacrifice of many brave and illustrious men, who had often protested against the project, but who had no alternative, large quantities of ammunition and stores were wasted at a time when our poor were either starving or depending on the Vol. II.
precarious bounty of the rich. In the west Indies, he thought none would say we stood upon a better footing than at the beginning of the war. What our losses in men there were, he was afraid to calculate. All these calamities, together with the dreadful evil of scarcity, his grace imputed, with many others, to the corruption and wickedness of administration ; but in the opinion of all, to their weakness ; and he exhorted parliament to tell the truth to their sovereign, who, was he once made acquainted with the wretchedness of his people, had too much goodness not to be struck with their suf. ferings, and to take the only step by which they can be effectually relieved, -to give them peace. He conclud. ed by moving, to entreat his majesty to review the state of affairs for the last three years, the desertion of the allies, the pillage or insecurity of the West Indies, the disgraceful or abortive expedition to France, and the unparalleled expenditure of blood and treasure :—that therefore the house entreated his majesty not to act on the opinion that the French could not preserve the re. lations of peace and amity, but that his majesty would take immediate and decisive measures for a negotia. tion for peace, without adverting to the government of France ; and adding, that if the present government of France should refuse to treat, that house would per. severe in a vigorous prosecution of the war.
On the same Subject.
He contended, that the circumstances particularized in his majesty's speech were real and solid improvements in the situation of this country! In addition to the checks received by the French on the side of Italy and on the Rhine, our naval superiority had been more decidedly established since the last year than at any former period of our history. His lordship ably entered into the history of paper currency and assignats, to prove the impossibility of the French continuing their exertions, and cited the opinion of general Montesquieu, who, in a memorial on the subject had enforced the necessity of withdrawing a great part from circulation, and out of 13 milliards leaving only 3; but since that time the circulation had been increased. Every writer on the subject of paper currency was, he said, agreed, that such an enormous mass, so little proportioned to any solid capital, must at length accomplish the utter ruin of a state. By the exertions we had made, and by the distresses we had caused to be felt, the desire of peace had become general in France. The new constitution there was, his lordship said, a miserable and imperfect copy of ours; but with all its defects, it was a valuable acquisition to this country, as it might lay the foundation of peace. His lordship vindicated the speech of his majesty for expressing no determination to treat upon terms short of those which the country had a right to expect. He considered the advice which the duke wished to present to