« PreviousContinue »
authority of Tallien for saying that the French cannot maintain their assignats, without contracting their expenses and diminishing their forces. And it should be recollected this has been their only resource. Is it then too much to say, their resources are nearly at an end ? It is this unlimited power which the French convention have assumed to purchase or to seize all property, as suited their purposes, that accounts for the stupendouk scale of operations which they have been able to pursue. This circumstance completely solves the phenomenon, which otherwise would appear so inexplicable, and is adequate to all those miraculous effects which have attended the progress of the French revolution, and which seemed to baffle all reasoning, as much as they have exceeded all human expectation. In alt these circumstances we have sufficient inducements to carry on the war, if not with the certainty of faith, yet at least with the confidence of expectation ; – a war, the immediate termination of which must be attended with certain evil, and the prosecution of which, under the present circumstances, is at least not without great probable hope.
If we look to the situation of France, they are now attempting to have recourse to a milder and more moderate system, - a system which will only deprive them of those prodigious energies, which they have hitherto exerted with such astonishing effect; but they no longer indeed possess the same means, and cannot therefore be expected to display the same exertions. Will it be possible for them all at once to restore the farmer 10 the occupations of agriculture, and the merchant to the pursuits of commerce, and to replace, in an instant, the devastations of war and plunder, by the arts of peace, and the exertions of industry? It will require years of tranquillity to restore them to the enjoyment of those ordinary resources, which they possessed previous to the commencement of the present destructive war - resources which they can no longer employ. For even could it be supposed that Robespierre were raised from the dead, they would no longer be qualified to display the same energies which, under his administration, were called forth by the influence of a system of terror ; the means by which these exertions have been supplied are now exhausted. Where can they possibly resort for fresh supplies? Can it be supposed, that when the forced loan failed at the time it was attempted, it ean again be tried and succeed in a time much more unfavourable to it, when the system of terror is almost dissolved ?
The question then is, Have we, under the present circumstances, the prospect of being able to bring as great a force into the field as will require from the French the same degree of exertion which has been necessary in the former campaigns ? Even let it be supposed that Holland should fall, and that circumstances should be such that we can no longer look for assistance from the court of Berlin, yet I see no reason to believe that, in the next campaign, we cannot increase the British forces on the continent to an amount that shall nearly supply the deficiency of Prussian troops, and act with more effect. Other powers look with attention and anxiety on this night's debate. If you afford to those powers the means of making large exertions, you will oblige France to make efforts to which she is now unequal. If you act with spirit, I see no reason why the powers of Italy and Spain may not make a diversion, and thereby accomplish the important purpose I have before stated - a purpose, in the accomplishment of which, the happiness, almost the existence, of Europe entirely rests. The amendment was rejected;
Noes and the original address was then agreed to.
73 .......... 246
January 26. 1795, On a motion by Mr. Grey, " That it is the opinion of this House that the existence of the present government of France ought not to be con. sidered as precluding, at this time, a negotiation for peace,”
MR. Pitt expressed himself extremely desirous of taking the earliest opportunity to deliver his sentiments on the present im
portant question. Before, however, he stated the grounds of his objection to the resolution moved by the honourable gentleman, and before he proposed the amendment, which he meant to submit to the House, he was anxious that they might be fully in possession, both of the repeated declarations of His Majesty, and the sentiments that had been expressed by parliament on former occasions. For this purpose, he desired the clerk to read a passage from His Majesty's speech on the 21st of January, 1794, and the answer of the House; and likewise part of the declaration of the 29th of October, 1793 ; and the declaration of the 20th of November, 1793, at Toulon. (They were accordingly read.]
He would take the liberty, in the course of what he had to offer to the House, to contend, that there was nothing at present in the situation of the country, or of Europe, which ought to induce the House to depart from the sentiments recorded in those declarations ; from the sentiments expressed from the throne; and from those sentiments which had received the approbation of parliament. He would contend that the motion that had been made was directly inconsistent with those principles, and he would farther contend, that, whatever there was in the present situation of the country, it called on the House, instead of acceding to the honourable gentleman's motion, to show to our enemies and to the world, that we did not shrink from those sober and rational principles which we had uniformly maintained. With that view, he thought it right in the outset to mention the precise nature and terms of the amendment he meant to propose, which was as follows:
“That, under the present circumstances, this House feels itself called upon to declare its determination firmly and steadily to support His Majesty in the vigorous prosecution of the present just and necessary war, as affording, at this time, the only reasonable expectation of permanent security and peace to this country: and that, for the attainment of these objects, this House relies, with equal confidence, on His Majesty's intention co employ vigorously the force and resources of the country, in support of its essential interests; and on the desire uniformly manifested by His Majesty, to effect a pacification on just and honourable grounds with any government in France, under whatever form, which shall appear capable of maintaining the accustomed relations of peace and amity with other countries."
He begged to refer the House to the authentic declarations of parliament and of the crown on this subject, from which it dearly appeared, that His Majesty from the throne had avowed sentiments which they themselves had also stated in speeches in that House, and which he believed, to a greater or less extent, had been adopted by every man in that House and in the country, namely, that it would be a desirable issue of the present state of things, to see the re-establishment of some government in the form of a monarchy in France. His Majesty had declared his desire to co-operate with those who were willing to effect that re-establishment. That nothing was more justifiable, and, under the present circumstances, would be more political, than to direct the efforts of this country to avail itself of any opening in that country, if any there was, to facilitate the re-establishment of some monarchical government, was plain, obvious, and explicit: on the other hand, it was equally clear, that His Ma. jesty's sentiments and the language of parliament were not to be tried by doubtful constructions or plausible misrepresentations, but by the most solemn written documents.
In fact, the restoration of monarchy, upon the old principles, had never been stated by His Majesty, by government, or by parliament, as a sine qua non, as preparatory to peace. Not only so, but it had never been stated, that any one specific and particular form of government was deemed on our part necessary, before we could negotiate for peace. It had been stated, that His Majesty had no desire to interfere in the internal affairs of France; and as long as that country had abstained from interfering with the government of other nations, till a direct and absolute aggression had been made on this country, and till hostilities had been actually commenced, His Majesty adhered strictly to that declaration, and abstained from any such interference. When that interference took place, which was agreeable to every experience and practice of the world, and justifiably on every plain principle of the law of nations, His Majesty still restrained himself to that degree of interference which was necessary for his own security and that of Europe. When His Majesty felt himself under the necessity of looking at the government of France, he looked at it certainly not without a wish which must naturally arise in every generous heart, that it might be adapted for the prosperity and happiness of those who were to live under it. But with a view to negotiation and to peace, His Majesty did not look at it with that view, or for that purpose. He could ‘only look at it for English views and for English purposes, to see whether it held out the solid grounds of treating, with any degree of reasonable security, for the performance of engagements that usually subsisted, and was to be found in the existing system of the different powers of Europe, without being liable to that new and unexampled order of things, that state of anarchy and confusion, which had for years existed in France. That having been the true measure and extent of the declarations made by His Majesty and by parliament, he conceived that no man in that House, on looking back to them, would wish he had not made those declarations; that no man would feel they were not made on just principles, or that they did not arise from a fair view of the circumstances and necessity of the case. He had endeavoured to state his amendment almost in the very form of His Majesty's declarations. The honourable gentlemen on the other side of the House were of opinion, that in no case the form of government in another country ought to be considered as having any influence on the security of a treaty, but that we ought only to look to the terms and conditions of the treaty, without regarding the power, the authority, the character, the nature, and circumstances, of the government that made it, or the state of that government. To that doctrine, however, he could never assent. He must contend, that every nation at war with another, ought not to treat for peace with the government that could not give security. He was not ready, therefore, to treat with the.