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made the șine quâ non condition of his return! Such was the last step by which the French government has shown that it had feeling enough left to think it necessary to search for some pretext to colour its proceedings; but they are such proceedings that no pretext or artifice can cover them, as will appear more particularly from the papers officially communicated to the House.
But here the subject does not rest: if we look to the whole complexion of this transaction, the duplicity, the arrogance, and violence which has appeared in the course of the negotiation, if we take from thence our opinion of its general result, we shall be justified in our conclusion, not that the people of France, not that the whole government of France, but that that part of the government which had too much influence, and has now the whole ascendency, never was sincere ; was determined to accept of no terms but such as would make it neither durable nor safe, such as could only be accepted by this country by a surrender of all its interests, and by a sacrifice of every pretension to the character of a great, a powerful, or an independent nation.
This, Sir, is inference no longer; you have their own open avowal; you have it stated in the subsequent declaration of France itself, that it is not against your commerce, that it is not against your wealth, it is not against your possessions in the East, or colonies in the West, it is not against even the source of your maritime greatness, it is not against any of the appendages of your empire, but against the very essence of your liberty, against the foundation of your independence, against the citadel of your happiness, against your constitution itself, that their hostilities are directed. They have themselves announced and proclaimed the proposition, that what they mean to bring with their invading army is the genius of their liberty : I desire no other word to express the subversion of the British constitution, and the substitution of the most malignant and fatal contrast, – and the annihilation of British liberty, and the obliteration of every thing that has rendered you a great, a fourishing, and a happy people.
This is what is at issue ; for this are we to declare ourselves in a manner that deprecates the rage which our enemy will not dissemble, and which will be little moved by our entreaty, Under such circumstances are we ashamed or afraid to declare, in a firm and manly tone, our resolution to defend ourselves, or to speak the language of truth with the energy that belongs to Englishmen united in such a cause? Sir, I do not scruple for one to say, if I knew nothing by which I could state to myself a probability of the contest terminating in our favour, I would maintain, that the contest with its worst chances is preferable to an acquiescence in such demands.
If I could look at this as a dry question of prudence, if I could calculate it upon the mere grounds of interest, I would say, if we love that degree of national power which is necessary for the independence of the country, and its safety; if we regard do mestic tranquillity, if we look at individual enjoyment, from the highest to the meanest among us, there is not a man, whose stake is so great in the country, that he ought to hesitate a moment in sacrificing any portion of it to oppose the violence of the enemy; nor is there, I trust, a man in this happy and free nation, whose stake is so small, that he would not be ready to sacrifice his life in the same cause. If we look at it with a view to safety, this would be our conduct; but if we look at it upon the principle of true honour, of the character which we have to support, of the example which we have to set to the other nations of Europe, if we view rightly the lot in which Providence has placed us, and the contrast between ourselves and all the other countries in Europe, gratitude to that Providence should inspire us to make every effort in such a cause. There may be danger, but on the one side there is danger accompanied with honour; on the other side, there is danger with indelible shame and disgrace; upon such an alternative, Englishmen will not hesitate. I wish to disguise no part of my sentiments upon the grounds on which I put the issue of the contest. I ask, whether up to the principles I have stated, we are prepared to act? Having done so, my opinion is not altered; my hopes however are animated VOL. II.
from the reflection that the means of our safety are in our own hands; for there never was a period when we had more to encourage us; in spite of heavy burdens, the radical strength of the nation never showed itself more conspicuous ; its revenue nevet exhibited greater proofs of the wealth of the country; the same objects, which constitute the blessings we have to fight for, furnish us with the means of continuing them. But it is not upon that point I rest it; there is one great resource, which I trust will never abandon us, and which has shone forth in the English character, by which we have preserved our existence and fame, as a nation, which I trust we shall be determined never to abandon under any extremity, but shall join hand and heart in the solemn pledge that is proposed to us, and declare to His Majesty, that we know great exertions are wanting, that we are prepared to make them, and at all events determined to stand or fall by the laws, liberties, and religion of our country.
The amendment was afterwards withdrawn, and the original address passed nemine contradicente.
November 24. 1797.
The House having resolved itself into a Committee of Supply,
In pursuance of the intimation which I gave upon a former day, I now rise to state to the committee the general outline of the measures which are proposed as the foundations for raising the supplies, and for meeting the exigencies of the ensuing year. As the principle of that part of the intended plan to which I am most desirous to direct the attention of the committee is new in the financial operations of this country, at least for more than a century, as it is a principle so important in its nature, and so extensive in its consequences, it is not my intention to call for any
decision upon its merits in the present stage of the business. All that I now mean to state to the committee, I wish to be considered merely as a notice, and a general explanation of a plan that is afterwards to be brought forward. Any minute consideration and particular dispositions I shall omit till the subject is submitted to a detailed discussion, and content myself with a general view of the object proposed, and a general outline of the mode by which it is to be carried into execution. After the facts which are already in your possession, after the unanimous resolution which the two Honses of parliament have passed upon the subject, it would be unnecessary for me to dwell upon the causes which demand your exertions, and the nature of the objects which the supplies you are called upon to provide are intended to secure. The question which you have to consider is of no less importance than by what means you are to provide for the expenses which will be necessary to enable you successfully to resist the avowed intentions of an arrogant foe, to destroy your liberties and constitution, to cut off the sources of your wealth, your prosperity, your independence, and your glory. In pledging ourselves to withstand these baughty pretensions, and to defend the blessings we enjoy, we have not acted lightly. In expressing our determination to support the honour and the interest of the country at every hazard, we spoke equally the dictates of sober reflection, and the language of indignant feeling ; our judgment was in concord with our ardour ; we declared ourselves ready to meet the difficulty in its fullest extent, and prepared to support our resolution at every extremity. I wish to be understood, therefore, that it is upon these principles, that the plan which I am now about to explain is founded. I know that it is upon these principles, that parliament and the nation have pledged themselves to act; by these principles, and these only, the measures which are to be submitted to your consideration have been framed, and it is upon these principles that their propriety ought to be judged.
Before I proceed to enter more largely into the principles of the plan which it is my intention to propose, I shall briefly take
a view of the amount of the expenses for which it will be ne. cessary to provide. These I shall state under the usual heads, avoiding in the present stage of the business, all minute details, and considering only the amount of the supplies which will be required.
* I shall begin, then, with the sums that will be necessary for the service of the navy. The committee will recollect that there has already been voted for this branch the sum of 12,539,0001. It will likewise be recollected, that the estimates of the present year have been made out in a new form, intended, with greater correctness than formerly, to present a full view of all the expense that would be necessary. Instead of the former allowance of 41. per month, which was found to be inadequate, the full expense has been taken into view. Even in their present shape the estimates are not to be considered as so accurate as to exclude the possibility of any excess. ' All that can be said is, that they are now more likely than at any former period to include the whole of the expense which this branch of the service may demand. The amount voted, then, for this article is 12,539,0001. It is unnecessary here to specify the different heads of this branch; all that is requisite is, to point out the whole of the expense which we are called upon to devise measures to supply. Besides this sum, there will be a sum of navy debt, owing to the excess of last year above the estimate, amounting to three millions. This, however, will form no part of the expense for which it will now be requisite to make a cash provision. It will only be requisite to provide a sum equal to the interest; and in the present state of the funds, that provision cannot be calculated at less than 250,0001. By a regulation adopted last year to prevent the depreciation of navy and exchequer bills, by providing that the period of payment should never be very distant from their date, there will be on their monthly issue of 500,000l. a floating debt of 1,500,000l. to be funded, arising out of the excess of the estimates for the year 1797. There will likewise be a similar sum of 1,500,0001. falling due in the year 1799; but for these no cash provision will be necessary, nor are they included in the