Page images

The speech from the throne was, Mr. Sheridan was extremely se. in the mean time, allowed to be vere in the reply which he made as well appropriated to the cir- on this occasion. Among other ia. cumstances of the times, as any that vectives, he reproached ministers had been delivered since the com- for their unskilful management in mencement of the war. It men. the West Indies, where the force tioned the disappointment of the employed was totally inadequate to French in their attempts in Ger- the objects proposed, and numbers many, and the internal difficulties of the men had been lost through under which they continued to la. negligence, and want of medical bour. Their present situation af. assistance, in that unwholesome cli. forded a well-founded presumption, mate. He accused ministers of that they would listen to equitable designing to restore despotism in and moderate terms of peace. In France. He called upon them to order to obtain such terms, it would act as Spain and Prussia had done, be necessary to shew that Great by treating with those persons whom Britain was able to maintain the the republican armies looked upon contest, till such a peace ensued, as as entitled to their obedience. He accorded with its dignity and in. advised ministers to beware of a terest. The other particulars of the connection with the house of Bourspeech referred to the preparations bon. It was through such confor a vigorous continuance of the nections that the Stuart's had been war, the treaties concluded with expelled. The Bourbons had invariforeign powers, the prosperous state ably proved the enemies to Great of commerce, and the means of pro- Britain ; and this enmity would reviding against the present scarcity. vive, were they to be re-established

Lord Dalkeith moved the ad, on the throne of France. The rash dress, and was seconded by Mr. and fruitless attempts to restore that Stuart: the latter gentleman dwelt family, ought therefore to be totally chiefly on the exhausted situation of relinquished, and government should France, and the oppressive methods declare itself willing to treat with it was reduced to adopt for the the French republic. raising of supplies. The situation He was replied to by Mr. Jenkinof this country was the reverse: sonwith the many arguments, so whatever money was demanded was frequently repeated, in justification instantly found, without oppressing of ministerial measures. He added, the subject; the confidence of mo. that the retention of the United Pro. nied men in government keeping vinces, by the French, rendered all pace with all its exigencies. Much treating with them inadmissible. It had been said of the conquest of was necessary, therefore, to com. Holland by the French, but they pel them to abandon this new conwere obviously indebted much moie quest, or to make such acquisi. to fortuvate casualties, than to their tions as might counter-balance it, own prowess, and could place liitle and induce them to give up the reliance on the attachment of the possession of that country. Had natives, who were now convinced ihe members of the coalition acted of their imprudence, in trusting to with fidelity to the cause they had the friendship of the French.

espoused, the French would, by this time, bave been forced to abandon the depreciation of its paper cure their lofty pretensions.

rency: but was this an argument In answer to this, the prospect proper to be adduced by men acof affairs was represented, by gene- quainted with the transactions of the ral Tarleton, as very disadvantage- American war, and who must be conous. The numerous army, with scious of the futility of pecuniary which the French had lately obliged calculations, when people were dethe king of Spain to come into their termined to suffer every bardship own terms, would now be employed that human nature could bear, and in the invasion of Italy, wbile our to try every expedient that necesefforts against the French posses- sity could suggesi, rather than admit sions, in the West Indies, would the idea of submission? It was time probably be frustrated, as they had to abandon so hopeless a cause as been on the coast of France, through that of the royal family of France. misconduct on our side, and the dif- The opinions of so mighty a nation ficulty of the very attempt itself. were not to be subdued by force It was vain to repeat exertions that of arms. When pressed to listen to had been so successively foiled. Mi- pacific language, ministers alleged nisters were no longer deserving of the incapacity of the French governconfidence; their evident incapacity ment to maintain the usual relarequired their immediate dismission, lions of barmony between different and the trial of new men, as well as states: but had such objections held of new measures.

good in the cause of Spain, Prussia, He was followed by Mr. Fox, and even the king of Great Britain who inveighed, with great anima- himself, in the quality of elector of tion, against the assertions made by Hanover? Had not this far-fetched ministry, as fallacious and delusive. and absurd wbstacle vanished before Instead of the flattering description the reasonableness of putting an end tbey bad given of the situation of to the calamities of war? It was this country, the fact was, that one ridiculous to insist upon danger from bundred millions had been added treating with the French, because to the national debt, and four mil- they had subverted their former, and lions a year to the standing taxes. adopted a new constitution : the In lieu of reducing the enemy within permanence of a treaty depending his former bounds, he was master of on its equitableness, and corresponall the Austrian territories on the dence with the reciprocal interests West of the Rhine; nor was there of the contracting parties. It was any well-grounded hope of our re- become nugatory to talk of our alCovering them. He was preparing lies : we had, indeed, mercenaries to invade Italy with a great and in our pay, whom we could only vietorious army. The scarcity that retain by excessive bribes, and afflicted the kingdom had been fore- who were, every moment, hesitat. told; but ministers disdained to listen ing, whether to accept of them, or lo ibe warning, though enforced of the terins proffered by our enefrom the most respectable quarter. mies, to detach them from this counThe propriety of persisting in the try. Adverting to the scarcity so war was argued from the distress heavily complained of, Mr. Fox ob. to whicb France was reduced by served, that war, and its fatal con. comitants, tended, undeniably, 'to of pecuniary resources? However impede cultivation, and to desolate successful on their frontiers, through the countries where it was waged: military efforts, and the chances of the most fertile paris of Europe hav. war, the system of the French was ing lately been the continual scenes so radically heinous, that it could of this destructive war, the produc- not last. Were the European pow. tions of the earth had been neces. ers to reunile against them, they sarily diminished, and it was un- could no longer stand their ground. reasonable to deny that the war was, The interior parts of that large king. in a very considerable degree, the dom were in a state of the utmost cause of a deficiency in the necessa- wretchedness. Trade and commerce ries of life. He concluded by mov- were annibilated, and industry found ing, that such conditions of peace no occupation. Hence proceeded should be offered to the French, as the facility with which the French would consist with the safety and recruited their armies, and the desdignity of Great Britain.


perate spirit, that animated men, The ideas of peace and security who could procure no sustenance were, in answer to Mr. Fox, repre- but at the point of their swords, sented by Mr. Pitt, as incompatible But energies of this kind were not with the situation of this country in their nature durable, and would respecting France. Every motive ceriainly terminate in a short lapse militated for a perseverance in the of time. So great was the difficulty contest. The enemy felt bis in- of procuring specie for the most creasing debility, and, notwithstand- urgent demands, that necessary aring his successes in the field, betray- ticles, in kind, were given in paged a consciousness that his strengih ment, and people were glad to acwas materially diminished. Hence cept of any thing that bore the it was that he had latterly shewn a semblance of pay. Would it not, disposition to peace. But the in- therefore, be the height of impruterest of this country required a deli- dence, after reducing them to such berate consideration of the state of a situation, to pass by so favourable France, in order to judge of the ex- an opportunity of reducing them pediency of entering into negociati. still lower, and of scouring, to our ons at the present moment. Such selves, the advantages resulting from was the fall of the French paper in their evident and undeniable deprescirculation, that it was now sunk tosion i After adducing farther argu. one and a hall for every hundred of ments, in vindication of his conduct, nominal value. Seven hundred and a division took place, when two huntwenty millions sterling bad been ta- dred and forty voted for the address, bricated and made current, and this and fifty-nine for the amendment, enormous quantity was still on the moved by Mr. Fux. increase. Was it credible that a na

On the next day, which was the tion, reduced to such straits, would thirtieth of October, the address was be able to make head against the noved, in the bouse of lords, by lord formidable enemies that were pre- Mountedgecomb, who supported it paring to assail it with redoubicd vin with much the same reasonings that gour, and whose situation was so had been used in the house of commuch more advantageous in point mons. He was seconded by lord

Walsingham, Walsingham, who dwelt particular- lay these grievances before the soly on the dangerous consequences vereign, and to supplicate him to of a precipitate peace, which would relieve the sufferings of the nation, be throwing away the advantages by consenting to a negociation for

we bad gained by our perseverance peace, which was the only effi ctual • in this arduous contest, and yielding remedy for the many calamities

to despondence, at a time when we under which the people laboured, ought to make the most of the dita in consequence of this unfortunate ficulties our enemies had to contend war. with, and were not likely to sur

The observations of the duke of mount, if we continued to act with Bedford were warmly controverted the resolution that bad hitherto by lord Grenville, who insisted characterised our measures.

that the situation of this country In reply to these assertions, it was evidently superior to that of was observed by the duke of Bed- France in every point of view. Our ford, that it was more consistent successes at sea were far more conwith the dignity of a British para ducive to the internal prosperity of liament, to frame an address of its the kingdom, than the dear-bought own, than to copy the speech of victories of the French had, or could the minister, though delivered from ever prove to the people of France. the throne. His sentiments differed The depreciation of the paper curmaterially from the ministerial lan• rency in that country, was, in his opiguage he bad heard. It represented nion,a circumstance to its detriment, the French as on the verge of suin; and in our favour, that fully deserved but the truth of facts, opposed to the reiterated notice that had been the illusion of words, was ihat they taken of it. The most judicious of were hitherto superior in the con- the Freneh financiers were deeply test, notwithstanding the constant sensible of the effects it would ultipredictions of the minister and his mately produce, and strongly depertisans, during the three preced. precated the farther issue of any ing years, that they had not suffic notes, and the withdrawing of no cient resources to prolong it another less than ten parts out of thirteen campaign.

The duke adverted from circulation. With such glaring with great severity to the reiterated prooss of the pecuniary distresses of allegation, that the French go. the enemy, was it prudent or reavernment was incapable of fulfilling sonable to advise pacific measures, the customary duties and relations when, with a moderate degree of of amity and good understanding patience on our side, he would pro. with other states. Ile reprobated bably be soon compelled to listen to with equal asperity the fruitless de- more reasonable terms of peace, struction of men in the West Indies, than the pride resulting from his and the ill-fated expedition to the late successes would now permit Coast of France. These, and the him to accept. He concluded, by other evils of the war, particularly representing the failure of the exthe scarcity that afflicied the na- pedition to the coast of France as tion, he imputed to the misconduct occasioned by the treachery of those and incapacity of ministers. It was French corps, that had

ea too therefore the duty of parliament to contidently relied upon,



He was replied to by the marqui fortune had favoured them. Couof Lansdowne, who pointedly ani- rage was inexhaustible, but wealth madverted on the prosperous situa- had its limits : and the example of tion wherein ministers asserted tbe France ought to warn us of the country stood at the present mo- danger of stretching the pecuniary

What he had foretold was resources of the nation beyond their come to pass; our allies had desert

natural bearings. The war had ed us, and our enemies were every tried them to such an extent, that where victorious. The trite argu- it was time to cease the experiment ment of their ruined finances was how far they would go, and to make still revived ; but in what state were negociation take place of hostili. our own? were they inexhaustible ? ties. were they equal to the support of The earls of Mansfield and Darnourselves, together with the weight ley spoke in favour of the address, of those pretended friends who had and the duke of Grafton and the taken our money, and converted it earl of Lauderdale against it. The to purposes entirely foreign to those latter inveighed bitterly against mifor wbich it was granted, and who nisters for the assurances they had were waiting with their accustomed given to the public in the former avidity for fresh grants. Taxes sessions, that such was the superior could only be carried to a cer- might of the confederacy, that tain length : beyond which they France would be utterly unable would in this country, as in all to resist it; but how different the others, become intolerable. But reality from the fair appearances money alone was no security for they had held out! defeat and desuccess; sagacity was of far greater sertion had characterised those allies consequence. The ministerial pro- in whose name such lofty promises jects and enterprizes displayed little had been made; and to complete of this essential requisite; failures the picture of the national calamiand disappointments continually at- ties, we were now visited by a tending them. This however was scarcity, undeniably owing to the not surprising, as their attempts a- improvident conduct of those at the gainst the foe were glaringly marked belm ; yet ministers boldly asserted with imprudence. The expedition that our condition was improved, to S. Domingo, for instance, was an and that of the enemy worse than unpardonable act of temerity ; here ever. But did not facts give the the French were insurmountable : strongest denial to those shameful it was the capital seat of their asseverations ? was not the enemy strength in the West Indies; of this in possession of all we had conquerthe great lord Chatham was so well ed, and preparing for new conconvinced that he wisely forbore, quests? was not the coalition broken even in the midst of his successes, to and dissolved, and some of its prinmake it an object of attack. The cipal members in treaties of peace French, it was true, were straitened and amity with the French ? could for money, but they had that which any man of sense and integrity in. was better; they had good soldiers terpret such things as improvements and excellent commanders ; on in the situation of this country? did those they chiefly depended, and they entitle us to expect that the


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »