Imágenes de páginas

under that form of government. We con- | Under this impression, I wish to bring the sider it as our first duty to maintain and House to the consideration of the situareverence the British constitution, which, tion in which we stand with respect to for wise and just reasons of lasting and France, and with respect to the general internal policy, attaches inviolability to state of the different powers of Europe. the sacred person of the sovereign, though, This subject was very much discussed on at the same time, by the responsibility it the first day of the present session, and has annexed to government, by the check I had the good fortune to concur with a of a wise system of laws, and by a mix. very large majority of the House in the ture of aristocratic and democratical address that was presented to his majesty, power in the frame of legislation, it has for his most gracious speech to both equally exempted itself from the danger Houses of Parliament. Gentlemen then arising from the exercise of absolute power drew their inferences from those notorious on the one hand, and the still more dan- facts which every man's observation pregerous contagion of popular licentious- sented to him: and those circumstances ness on the other. The equity of our were supposed to excite every sentiment laws, and the freedom of our political of jealousy and precaution. They insystem, have been the envy of every sur- duced the House to arm his majesty, and rounding nation. In this country no man, the executive government, with those in consequence of his riches or rank, is so powers which were indispensably neceshigh as to be above the reach of the laws, sary for effectually providing for the and no individual is so poor or inconsi- safety of the country. Many weeks have derable as not to be within their protec- now elapsed since the beginning of the tion. It is the boast of the law of Eng- session, when the country appeared to be land, that it affords equal security and in a critical situation. Let us consider protection to the high and the low, to the what are the circumstances now to attract rich and the poor. Such is the envied our attention at the moment when the situation of England, which may be com- message of his majesty calls on us for farpared, if I may be allowed the expression, ther decision. to the situation of the temperate zone on The papers which contain the commuthe surface of the globe, formed by the nication between this country and France, bounty of Providence for habitation and consists of two different parts. The one enjoyment, being equally removed from comprehends the communication between the polar frosts on the one hand, and the this country and France, prior to the pescorching heat of the torrid zone on the riod which attracted those sentiments of other; where the vicissitude of the seasons, jealousy I have stated :- This part also and the variety of the climate, contribute contains those comments which have to the vigour and health of its inhabitants, taken place since, and those explanations and to the fertility of its soil ; where pesti- which have been entered into by his malence and famine are unknown, as also jesty's permission, with a view, if possiearthquakes, hurricanes, &c. with all their ble, that our jealousy might be removed dreadful consequences. Such is the si- in consequence of some step that might tuation, the fortunate situation of Bri- be taken. The other part consists, either tain : and what a splendid contrast does it of what were notorious facts at the meetform to the situation of that country ing of parliament, or of those notorious which is exposed to all the tremendous facts which, though not officially commuconsequences of that ungovernable, that nicated by his majesty, were very geneintolerable and destroying spirit, which rally known to the public. carries ruin and desolation wherever it The first part of these papers has never

before been made public. The date of Sir, this infection can have no existence the first communication is May 12th, in this happy land, unless it is imported, 1792. And the communication from that unless it is studiously and industriously period till the 8th of July contains the brought into this country. These prin- system on which his majesty acted be. ciples are not the natural produce of tween France and the other European Great Britain, and it ought to be our first powers. From that period, down to the duty, and principal concern, to take the meeting of parliament, his majesty had most effectual measures in order to stop most scrupulously observed the strictest their growth and progress in this country, neutrality with respect to France. He as well as in the other nations of Europe. had taken no part whatever in the regue [VOL. XXX. ]




lation of her internal government. He any manner whatever in the interior po-
had given her no cause of complaint ; licy of such states, under pretence of a
and therefore the least return he might proselytisin, which, exercised in the do-
expect, was, that France would be cauti- minions of friendly powers, would be a
ous to avoid every measure that could real violation of the law of nations."
furnish any just ground of complaint to This paper therefore contains a declara-
his majesty. He might also well expect tion, that whatever might be the fate of
that France would have felt a proper de arms, France rejected all ideas of aggran-
gree of respect for the rights of himself dizement; she would preserve her rights,
and his allies. His majesty might most she would preserve her limits and her li-
of all expect, that, in the troubled state of berty. This declaration was made in the
that country, they would not have chosen name of the king.
to attempt an interference with the inter- Gentlemen must remember, after the
nal government of this country, for the first revolution, and after the establish-
sole purpose of creating dissension among ment of what they called the model of a
us, and of disturbing a scene of unex- government of liberty, the king wished
ampled felicity. But fortunately for this it to be known, that he would publicly
country, they did not succeed. The ex. disavow all those of his agents at foreign
press assurances contained in the papers courts, in peace with France, who should
which have been printed and are now on dare to depart an instant from that re-
the table, the very compact on the part spect, either by fomenting or raising in-
of France does distinctly and precisely surrections, or by interfering in any man.
apply to every one of these points. ner whatever in the internal government

I have no doubt but gentlemen have of such states, under pretence of prose-
applied the interval in perusing these lytism, which would be a real violation of
papers with sufficient attention, to make the law of nations. They have therefore
it unnecessary for me to trouble them passed, by anticipation, that sentence on
with more than the leading points. You their own conduct; and whether we shall
will perceive, that the very first commu- pass a different sentence, is one of the
nication is from M. Chauvelin, May 12th, objects of this day's consideration. In
1792, and contains this passage : “ Thus the passage I have read, two distinct
the king (of France) saw himself forced principles are laid down: the one, that
into a war, which was already declared whatever might be the fate of arms,
against : but, religiously faithful to the France renounced all ideas of aggran.
principles of the constitution, whatever dizement, and declared she would confine
may finally be the fate of arms in this war, herself within her own territories; the
France rejects all ideas of aggrandize other, that to foment and raise insurrections
ment. She will preserve her limits, her in neutral states, under pretence of prose-
Liberty, her constitution, her unalienable lytism, was a violation of the law of nations.
right of reforming herself whenever she It is evident to all Europe, her conduct

proper; she will never consent has been directly the reverse of those that, under any relation, foreign powers principles, both of which she has trampled should attempt to dictate, or even dare to under foot, in every instance where it was nourish a hope of dictating laws to her. in her power. In the answer to that note But this very pride, so natural and so of M. Chauvelin, his majesty expresses great, is a sure pledge to all the powers his concern for the war that had arisen, from whom she shalĩ have received no for the situation of his most Christian maprovocation, not only of her constantly jesty, and for the happiness of his domipacific dispositions, but also of the re. nions. He also gives him a positive asspect which the French well know how to surance of his readiness to fulfil, in the show at all times for the laws, the cus- most exact manner, the stipulations of toms, and all the forms of government of the treaty of navigation and commerce ; different nations. The king indeed and concludes with these words : “ Faithwishes it to be known, that he would pub- ful to all his engagements, his majesty licly and severely disavow all those of his will pay the strictest attention to the preagents at foreign courts in peace with servation of the good understanding which France, who should dare to depart an so happily subsists between him, and his instant from that respect, either by foment- most Christian majesty, expecting with ing or favouring insurrections against confidence, that, animated with the same the established order, or by interfering in sentiments, his most Christian majesty

will not fail to contribute to the same end, ples of aggrandizement. She has comby causing, on his part, the rights of his pletely disclaimed that maxim, “ that majesty and his allies to be respected, and whatever was the fate of their arms in by rigorously forbidding any step which war, France rejected all ideas of aggranmight affect the friendship which his ma- dizement.”. She has made use of the first jesty has ever desired to consolidate and moment of success to publish a contraperpetuate, for the happiness of the two | diction to that declaration. She has empires."

made use of the first instance of success We may also see what general assur- in Savoy, without even attempting the ances France thought fit to make to ceremony of disguise (after having proGreat Britain, from a note from M. fessed a determination to confine herself Chauvelin to lord Grenville dated June 8, within her ancient limits), to annex it 1792; where it is said, “ The king of the for ever as an eighty-fourth department to French is happy to renew to the king of the present sovereignty of France. They Great Britain the formal assurance, that have by their decree announced a deterevery thing which can interest the rights mination to carry on a similar operation of his Britannic majesty will continue to in every country into which their arms be the object of his most particular and can be carried, with a view, in substance, most scrupulous attention. He hastens, if not in name, to do the same thing in at the same time, to declare to him, that every country where they can with sucthe rights of all the allies of Great Britain, cess. who shall not have provoked France by Their decree of the 15th of December hostile measures, shall by him be no less contains a fair illustration and confirmareligiously respected. In making, or ra- tion of their principles and designs. They ther renewing this declaration, the king of have by that decree expressly stated the the French enjoys the double satisfaction plan on which they mean to act. Whenof expressing the wish of a people, in ever they obtain a temporary success, whose eyes every war, which is not ren- whatever be the situation of the country dered necessary by a due attention to its into which they come, whatever may defence, is essentially unjust, and of join- have been its antecedent conduct, whating particularly in the wishes of his ma- ever may be its political connexions, they jesty, for the tranquillity of Europe, have determined not to abandon the poswhich would never be disturbed, if session of it, till they have effected the France and England would unite in order utter and absolute subversion of its form to preserve it."

of government, of every ancient, every Such then, Sir, is the situation in which established usage, however long they may his majesty stands with respect to France. have existed, and however much they During the transactions of the last sum- may have been revered. They will not mer, when France was engaged in a war accept, under the name of liberty, any against the powers of Austria and Prus- model of government, but that which is sia, his majesty departed in no shape conformable to their own opinions and from that neutrality. His majesty did no ideas; and all men must learn from the one act from which it could be justly in mouth of their cannon the propagation of ferred, that he was friendly to that sys- their system in every part of the world. tem. But what, let me ask the House, They have regularly and boldly avowed has been the conduct of France as to these instructions, which they sent to the those express reiterated assurances, ap- commissioners who were to carry these plied to the public concerns which I have orders into execution. They have stated now detailed? These assurances went to to them what this house could not believe, three points: to a determination to ab- they have stated to them a revolutionary stain from views of aggrandizement; not principle and order, for the purpose of to interfere with the government of neu- being applied in every country in which tral nations, which they admitted to be the French arms are crowned with suca violation of the law of nations; and to cess. They have stated, that they would "observe the rights of his majesty and his organize every country by a disorganize allies. What has been the conduct of ing principle; and afterwards, they tell France on these three points, under the you all this is done by the will of the peonew system? She has both by her words ple. Wherever our arms come, revoand actions, manifested a determination,lutions must take place, dictated by the if not checked by force, to act on princi- will of the people. And then comes this


[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

plain question, what is this will of the of their city to elect the primary assempeople? It is the power of the French. blies? How agreeable must have been They have explained what that liberty is his arrival in the Netherlands, by his which they wish to give to every nation; employing threats to procure a general iland if they will not accept of it volunta- lumination on his entrance into Brussels! rily, they compel them. They take every A hollow square of the French troops was opportunity to destroy every institution drawn round the tree of liberty, to prethat is most sacred and most valuable in vent the natives from pulling down the every nation where their armies have made emblem of French freedom. This shows their appearance; and under the name of how well disposed the people were to reliberty, they have resolved to make every ceive the French system of liberty! This country in substance, if not in form, is the manner in which their principles are a province dependent on themselves, carried into effect in the different counthrough the despotism of Jacobin socie- tries of Europe. I may here mention ties. This has given a more fatal blow to the conduct of the Convention, on the the liberties of mankind, than any they occasion of an address from the people have suffered, even from the boldest at. of Mons, in which they desire that the tempts of the most aspiring monarch. province of Hainault might be added as We see, therefore, that France has tram- an 85th department of France. The pled under foot all laws, human and di- | Convention referred the address to a comvine. She has at last avowed the most mittee, to report the form in which couninsatiable ambition, and greatest con- tries, wishing to unite with France, were tempt for the law of nations, which all to be admitted into the union. The conindependent states have hitherto professed vention could not decide upon it, and most religiously to observe; and unless therefore they sent it to a committee to she is stopped in her career, all Europe point out the manner in which they were must soon learn their ideas of justice to make their application for that purlaw of nations-models of government- pose, so that the receiving of them was to and principles of liberty from the mouth be a fixed and standing principle, which of the French cannon.

in its consequences, if not timely preI gave the first instance of their suc- vented, must destroy the liberties and incess in Savoy, as a proof of their ambition dependence of England, as well as of all and aggrandizement. I wish the House Europe. to attend to the practical effect of their I would next proceed to their confirmed system, in the situation of the Nether. pledge, not to interfere in the government lands. You will find, in some of the cor- of other neutral countries. What they respondence between France and this have done here is in countries which, uncountry, this declaration on the part of der some pretence or other, they have France; “ She has renounced, and again made their enemies. I need not remind renounces every conquest, and her occu- the house of the decree of the 19th pation of the Low Countries shall only of November, which is a direct attack continue during the war and the time on every government in Europe, by enwhich may be necessary to the Belgians couraging the seditious of all nations to to ensure and consolidate their liberty; rise up against their lawful rulers, and by after which, they will be independent and promising them their support and assishappy. France will find her recompence tance. By this decree, they hold out an in her felicity.”

encouragement to insurrection and rebelI ask whether this can mean any thing lion in every country in the world. They else, than that they hope to add the Ne- show you they mean no exception, by therlands, as an 84th or 85th department, ordering this decree to be printed in all to the French republic; whether it does not languagss. And therefore I might ask mean a subjugation of the Netherlands, any man of common sense, whether any to the absolute power of France, to a nation upon earth could be out of their total and unequalled dependence on her contemplation at the time they passed it? If any man entertains doubts upon the | And whether it was not meant to extend subject, let him look at the allegations of to England, whatever might be their preDumourier, enforced by martial law. What tences to the contrary? It is most mawas the conduct of this general, when he nifest they mean to carry their princiarrived at Brussels? Did he not assem ples into every nation, without exception, ble the inhabitants in the most public part subvert and destroy every government

[ocr errors]

and to plant on their ruins their sacred | any government whatever on this princitree of liberty.

ple, that such a government is deemed the Some observations, to which they have organ of the general will of the nation affected to give the name of explanations governed. Thus when by this natural have been applied to this decree, and are interpretation, the decree of the 19th of these: “ Now to come to the three points November is reduced to what it truly which can alone make an object of diffi- implies, it will be found that it announculty at the court of London, the Exe- ces nothing more than an act of the gecutive Council observe respecting the neral will, and that beyond any doubt so first, which is the decree of the 19th of effectually founded in right, that it was November, that we have not been pro- scarcely worth the trouble to express it. perly understood by the ministry of his On this account, the Executive Council Britannic majesty, when they accuse thinks that the evidence of this right us of having giving an explanation might, perhaps, have been dispensed with which announces to the seditious of all by the National Convention, and did not nations, what are the cases in which they deserve to be made the object of a par. may previously count on the support ticular decree ; but with the interpretaand assistance of France. Nothing could tion that precedes it, it cannot give unbe more foreign than this reproach to the easiness to any nation whatever.” sentiments of the National Convention, To all this I shall only observe, that in and to the explanation we have given of the whole context of their language, on them; and we did not think it was possi- every occasion, they show the clearest ble we should be charged with the open intention to propagate their principles all design of favouring the seditious, at the over the world. Their explanations convery moment, when we declare that it tain only an avowal and repetition of the would be wronging the National Conven- offence. They have proscribed royalty tion, if they were charged with the pro- as a crime, and will not be satisfied but ject of protecting insurrections, and with with its total destruction. · The dreadful the commotions that may break out in sentence which they have executed on any corner of a state, of joining the ring-their own unfortunate monarch, applies leaders, and of thus making the cause of to every sovereign now existing. “And a few private individuals that of the lest you should not be satisfied that they French nation. We have said, and we mean to extend their system to this desire to repeat it, that the decree of the country, the conduct of the National 19th of November could not have any ap- Convention has applied itself, by repeated plication, unless to the single case in acts, to yourselves by name, which makes which the general will of a nation clearly any explanation on their part unsatisfacand unequivocally expressed, should call tory and unavailing. There is no society the French nation to its assistance and fra. in England, however contemptible in ternity. Sedition can certainly never be their numbers, however desperate in their construed into the general will. These principles, and questionable in their extwo ideas mutually repel each other, since istence, who possessed treason and disa sedition is not and cannot be any other loyalty, who were not cherished, justified, than the movement of a small number and applauded, and treated even with a against the nation at large. And this degree of theatrical extravagance at the movement would cease to be seditious, bar of the National Convention. You provided all the members of a society have also a list of the answers given to should at once rise, either to reform its them at that bar. And, after all this, am government, or to change its form in toto, I to ask you, whether England is one of or for any other object. The Dutch were the countries into which they wish to in. assuredly not seditious, when they formed troduce a spirit of proselytism? which, the generous resolution of shaking off the exercised in the dominions of friendly yoke of Spain ; and when the general powers, they themselves admit would be will of that nation called for the assis- a violation of the law of nations. tance of France, it was not reputed a On the third point it is unnecessary for crime in Henry 4th, or in Elizabeth of me to expatiate, -I mean on the violation England, to have listened to them. The of the rights of his majesty, or of his alknowledge of the general will is the only lies. To insist upon the opening of the basis of the transactions of nations with river Scheldt, is an act of itself, in which each other; and we can only treat with the French nation had no right to inter

« AnteriorContinuar »