Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the remedy of which the war was un precedent very dangerous to the do. dertaken. For these reasons, upon this mestic welfare of our country.” important point he had never enter- The speeches delivered in the House tained an opinion opposite to that of of Commons were more numerous, as the noble earl; and upon some of the well as more abundant in detail. Those minor questions, respecting the resto« of Sir James MʻIntosh and Mr Hore ration of the monuments of art plun. ner were the best on the side of the dered in the spirit of the most uncivi. opposition; Mr Douglas, Mr Charles lized barbarism, he had entertained as Grant, and Lord Castlereagh, defended little doubt. The propriety of return the treaties with equal talent, and, as ing them to their real owners did not it seems to us, upon views of justice as depend upon the intrinsic value of the well as of prudence. But, in truth, objects themselvse, but upon the im. with regard to the greater part of the portance attached to them by the vani- topics discussed on this occasion, even ty and vain-glory of the actual posses- now* it were hazardous for the annal. sors. The motive that had induced list to express any very determinate the French to concentrate these works opinion. Of the propriety of our inin Paris, was not a love and reverence terference with the arrangements of of the arts; they had been seized and France, and of our using the advanborne away as the spoil, and in the in- tages of our victory for the purpose solence of conquest : their pride was of curbing in, future the too military gratified by this humiliation of man- spirit of that country, we have not the kind. The exaltation of themselves shadow of a doubt. But whether the by the debasement of other nations measures adopted by us were the best was the ruling principle of French re- adapted for securing the repose of volutionary policy; and in this view Europe, it may not be very easy, even it became a matter of moment to re. after the experience of more years move this food for vanity, which, in than have yet elapsed, to decide. stead of satisfying, only excited a fresh These things must be left to “time, appetite for conquest and domination. the teacher of all.” In the meanBy this removal, also, a moral lesson while this much may be asserted, that had been read to the people of France if the measures adopted by the minison the respect due to property, while try, should in the end be found to be the dignity and independence of the unavailing, they may at least console other nations of Europe had been ef- themselves with the reflection, that fectually asserted. His lordship

His lordship even their opponents in parliament made regretted that, by the delay of this re- mention of no system of arrangements, tribution, a shadow of doubt had been ex facie, so worthy of England, or so cast upon its justice. Notwithstand. promising of ultimate success. iog, however, of all this coincidence of At the time when the definitive opinion in regard to France, Lord treaty, and a large mass of minor do. Grenville condemned much of what cuments were submitted to the inhad been done. The territorial ar- spection of parliament, Mr Brougham rangements described in the treaties, took occasion to move for a copy of appeared to him to be, in many parti- a treaty concluded at Paris, on the culars,extremely unwise, and the main. 26th of September in the preceding tenance of so large a British force year, between the sovereigns of Ruswas regarded by him as establishing a sia, Austria, and Prussia, which has

* Sept. 1818.

come to be known by the name of the tian charity, and peace, the contract, Christian Treaty.* The language in ing parties pledge themselves in the which this treaty is conveyed, is indeed, very first article of the treaty, on as this gentleman admitted, inoffensive. all occasions, and in all places, to lend But, according to him, the harmless,and each other aid and assistance;' and even unmeaning appearance of it,ought that they will lead their subjects and to have excited the suspicion of the armies in the same spirit of fraternity reflective. “ There was nothing," he with which they are animated, to procontended, “ in their peculiar situation tect religion, peace, and justice. Was or character, there was nothing in the there nothing to excite suspicion in circumstances of the times, that at all such language? When sovereigns spoke required that those sovereigns should of leading armies to protect religion, put themselve ostentatiously forward peace, and justice, was there no ground as the defenders of that Christianity for alarm ? He feared that there was which no danger menaced, or of those much reason to apprehend the conseprinciples which all good men must be quences of this treaty, notwithstandready to sustain. These sovereigas ing the sacred principles which it prowere not suspected of any inclination fessed to revere. He feared that someto depart from Christianity. There thing more was meant than what immewas no charge or impeachment prefer- diately met the eye. He couldnot think red against their character or views, that this treaty referred to objects which called upon them either with a wholly spiritual. Why were they to view to their own vindication, or to engage to lead their armies to support what was passing in the world, to en- the Christian religion, when no power ter into a treaty, containing stipula. had menaced it? Such a treaty aptions such as had seldom been heard of peared to him very extraordinary, from the earliest times, such at least when it was remembered, that but a as had not been published since the few weeks before the parties to it had. time of the Crusades, such certainly as concluded, not only a treaty of peace had no parallel in modern Europe. among themselves, but one which was For the principles avowed in this trea- to secure the repose of all Europe. ty he expressed his deference; they He always thought there was somewere material to the happiness of all thing suspicious in what a French wristates and kingdoms, yet he saw no ter had called · les abouchemens des necessity for any public pledge upon rois.' When crowned heads met, the the subject, either from the sovereigns result of their united councils was not alluded to, or from any other Chris- always favourable to the interests of tian prince. But notwithstanding the humanity. It was not the first time principles which this treaty declared a that Austria, Russia, and Prussia, had disposition to hold sacred, there was laid their heads together. On a forsomething so singular in its language mer occasion, after professing vast reas to call for observation, and to war- gard for truth, religion, and justice, rant no little jealousy. After profess- they had taken a course which had ing at the outset a resolution in the brought much misery on their own administration of their respective states, subjects, for whose welfare they affectand in their relations with every othered the greatest concern, but they had government, to take as their sole guide made a war against an unoffending the precepts of their holy religion, country, which had found little reason namely, the precepts of justice, chris- to felicitate themselves on finding their

A copy of this document may be seen among the State Papers in our last volume,

conquerors pre-eminently distinguish- or not, was another question ; but he ed by those feelings which Christian- must say, that if that spirit which it ity should inspire. The war against breathed was one which sincerely aniPoland, and the subsequent partition mated the emperor of Russia, and for of that devoted country, had been himself he could not entertain a doubt prefaced by language very similar to upon the subject, there was nothing that which this treaty contained, and upon which he should more sincerely the proclamation of the empress Ca- congratulate Europe and the world. therine which wound up that fatal If the Emperor of Russia chose to tragedy (for fatal that unprincipled found his glory upon such a basis, partition had proved, and fatal it posterity would do justice to the nowould prove, to the peace of Europe ble determination.

ble determination. Having already till justice was rendered,) had almost done so much for mankind by his arms, the same words.”

to what better purpose could he apply The circumstance of this treaty ha. his great influence, in the councils of ving been entered into by these great the sovereigns of Europe, than to se. military sovereigns, without the con- cure for it a long and beneficial peace? currence of England, was enlarged up. It was the only

glory which was now on by Mr Brougham, as affording ad. left him to acquire, after the great ditional room for doubt; and he ex- personal glory which he had already pressed his suspicion that the whole acquired. With respect to the docu. was meant to be the forerunner of some ment itself, Lord Castelreagh opposed crusade against the Ottoman Porte. its production upon a parliamenary

Lord Castlereagh explained, that at ground, as it was contrary to the the time of its being concluded, a practice of parliament to call for the draft of the treaty had been put into production of treaties to which this his hands by the ministers of the con- country was no party. tracting parties, and that the non- Mr Brougham's motion was lost by concurrence of England had been oc- a majority of 104 to 30. casioned merely by the forms of diplo- On the 12th of February, the most macy. The abouchemens des rois, important business of the Lower House stigmatized by Mr Brougham, had, commenced. The House having formas he believed, been attended with the ed itself into a Committee of Supply, most salutary efforts in the course of the Chancellor of the Exchequer rose, the late momentous struggles upon the and offered, in a very long and interestcontinent of Europe. T'he brotherly ing speech, a variety of observations dispositions manifested by those great calculated to explain the vote of cresovereigns, were not, he contended, to dit, which it was his intention to probe wantonly branded with the name of pose. “ His object," he said, “ was bypocrisy, nor wasthere anything so ap- in the first place to provide for the parently absurd in some strong expres- payment of different exchequer bills sions of regard for the Christian faith, outstanding, and which, in the ordion the part of those who had just been nary course, should now be provided employed in combating à sanguinary for. The first was a sum of 11 milpower, whose schemes of conquest and lions of exchequer bills, which remain. rapire had been so eminently assisted ed of a sum of 12 millions and a half, by the diffusion of a spirit of immora- voted in November 1814 ; also another lity and irreligion. « Whether the of 4 millions and a half of exchequer instrument,” said he, “ was necessary bills which were now become due, and lastly, a sum of a million and a half favourable appearances, it was not atwhich had usually been carried on from tempted to be concealed that the comyear to year. He should also propose munity at large were labouring under to make provision for the exchequer many embarrassments. Of these the bills outstanding on the aids of the year distress of the agricultural classes was 1815, and amounting to 18,600,0001.; universally acknowledged to be the carrying to the amount of the ways principal cause. According to the and means of 1816, an equal sum from Chancellor of the Exchequer, the fluc. those of 1815, which still remained to tuations in the corn market, occasionbe received. The object of this ar. ed by the long want, and then the rangement, which was similar to the sudden pouring in of foreign corn, topractice of several years past, was to gether with the withdrawing of the make all sums received into the exche. immense purchases formerly made by quer applicable to the service of either the government, had thrown the farmyear, as occasion might require." ers into a state of uneasiness, from

With regard to the actual state of wbich no effectual recovery could be the revenue, which, in the course of expected till the progress of time should the preceding debates, some of the op- have enabled things to reach once more position members had expressed their their natural level.* The remedies suspicions might be found less fou- which he proposed for these embarrishing than the speech from the throne rassments were two-fold; first, a dihad represented it, the Chancellor en- minution in taxation, viz. the reductered into a number of details, the re. tion of the property-tax from ten to sult of which was to shew, that so far five per cent. and the remission of from any falling off in the productive. some minor taxes particularly affectness of taxation, the net revenue of ing the agricultural interest. Second. 1815 had exceeded that of any former ly, a system of measures for the supyear by more than a million, and that port of public credit. By abstaining therefore there was no occasion to de- from any demands upon the money spond respecting the future condition market, and by throwing into that of the public purse. He stated also, market an additional capital of fourthat of the sums granted for the last teen millions for the sinking fund, year, a large surplus had been benefi- (which he thought could easily be cially employed in reducing the exche. done,) such an impulse would, he apquer bills and the navy debt, so that prehended, be given to the commerce the whole unfunded debt had been of money, as would tend far more ef. brought down from 63,547,0001. to fectually to relieve those most under 47,700,0001. The view which he

pre

the pressure of temporary difficulties, sented of the commerce of the coun- than could possibly be accomplished try, particularly of the exportation of by withdrawing a sum of the same the linen, cotton, and woollen manu. extent from the general produce of factures, was equally satisfactory. In taxation. the three quarters ending October 10, With respect to the public expendi. 1814, the value of our exports had ture of the year, the principal heads been 37,167,294l. ; in the three quar- upon which the Chancellor touched ters ending October 10, 1815, they were the navy and army. In regard had been 42,425,3571.

to both of these, the statement he had Notwithstanding, however, all these to offer might, he said, appear extra

See the subsequent Chapter, on the distresses of the Agricultural Interest.

1

vagant, when compared with the peace that they might safely take credit for establishments known in precediag three millions more, as applicable to years; but it should be recollected, the public service of the country in that after the conclusion of every war, the present year. The next item was more particularly one of such a charac. the surplus of the consolidated fund, ter as that just terminated, a consider and although it was impossible to deable time must be permitted to elapse termine the precise sum at which that before the country could be supposed surplus might be taken, until after the to have settled down into its posture 5th of April, yet he was sure he might of perfect tranquillity, or to have got safely estimate it at 2,500,0001. The rid of the expensive establishments ordinary annual taxes he would estiwith which its warlike necessities had mate at 3,000,0001. He also intended burdened it. A vote would be pro- to propose the prolongation of some of posed for 33,000 seamen, 10,000 of the war taxes on customs and excise, whom might be set down to the ac. which had not yet expired. The next count of squadrons on foreign stations, item was a five per cent. property-tax; which it had not yet been in the pow jt bovino in view some reductions, of government to recall and

pay

off. and bearing in mind also some proThe army estimates would, in like bable diminutions from other causes, manner, be much greater this year he should not estimate its produce at than hereafter. Twenty-five thousand more than 6,000,0001. The lottery would be required for Great Britain, he should take at 200,000l. The on. and Guernsey and Jersey, including ly remaining item was one with which the depots necessary for relieving gar. he should not trouble the committee risons abroad. An equal number would at any length : he alluded to an ada be required for Ireland. The troops vance from the Bank of 6,000,000L. necessary for the colonies and garri- at four per cent. sons in Europe and America would This financial exposition was attackbring up the number requisite for the ed on many points by Mr Ponsonby, British and Irish establishment to Mr Brougham, Mr Tierney, and some 90,000. Twenty thousand, requisite other members. The extent of the for India, would be paid by the East army to be kept up, the proposed India Company; and 30,000, form- continuance of the property-tax, and ing part of the allied force in France, the nature of the transactions with the would be supported at the expence of Bank, formed the principal grounds of that country

objection ; but the observations made The Chancellor concluded his speech upon this occasion were only the prea with a statement of the ways and means, lude to more full and formal discuswhereby he judged it would be most sions of the same subjects taken sepaexpedient to meet the expenditure. He rately in posterior debates. A number mentioned, that “ he should have the of remarks were made in respect to pleasure of beginning this with a very the distressed state of the agricultural novel and satisfactory item, namely, a bodies, but these, in like manner, were surplus of the unapplied grants of the repeated and enlarged upon on subsee preceding year. He had already sta- quent occasions. "Lord Castlereagh ted what considerable sums of the un- defended the exposition ; and the refunded debt of the country had been 8 lutions proposed by the Chancellor liquidated by the application of the of the Exchequer were carried withe surplus of those grants, and he had out a vote. aow the further pleasure of stating,

« AnteriorContinuar »