Page images
PDF
EPUB

we toaJapt his conduct to what he had som: reason to' hehitiwouJJ be the conduct of those opposite to him, it would intprave necessary for him to trespass much upon the paiitaæof the House: merely to state his propositions, and rak?ihe jcquiescence of the House in those propositions, mli, in such a case, certainly suffice; and his claim to do u might not, perhaps, be altogether unreasonable. For, ...ere was not one man who would not find himself ready to iir.it them upon the principles of common fense, and on a rcaJy confirmation of those established principles of policy :nd justice, which had ever regulated all wife men who had taken any part in the councils of the nation, and which had sever been departed from, but by those whose ignorance and ^fiinacy had led them to act in a manner unworthy of their nations. Notwithstanding the truth of these observations, bore he ventured to ask the acquiescence of the House in resolutions, he should endeavour to support them by the arguments which occurred to him, leaving it to his fiends to supply his defects, which he had no doubt but i.L.ej would do with the greatest ability. He hoped to be 'Me to persuade the House of the truth of all the propositions "hicti he should state. He conceived that there were some points concerning which mankind were generally agreed. There were some truths which appeared to be so clear and tvident, that no man was disposed to dispute them. Among 'Me, he conceived, must be reckoned the just causes of goj5gtowar. Of this nature, also, were those maxims of po^y, which ought to govern this country in all its connects with foreign powers. The only just cause of war orijnatedinthe principle of self-defence. This principle of '"Mefence was not confined to nations in the fame manner "11 was to individuals. Individuals were only allowed to 4tlJ themselves of this principle, when the danger was ima'nent and pressing, and where the laws instituted for the Protection ot society, could not operate and ensure their Wetj. A nation's right of attack, was founded in, and must sriginate out of, the principle of self-defence; and no war w"ld be justified on the grounds (to use a fashionable phrase) TM political expediency, whatever the consequences of it ^^ht be, and however profitable and advantageous it might torn out to the State. The principle of self-defence, there^re) was the sole ground on which a war could be justified, wcases where a war was just, might be reduced to three ^: 1st, when it was undertaken to redeem a right forcibly ^tliholden, and to which we had an irresistible claim; se-ontily, in providing for future safety; and the last, a right repelling an unjust attack. These were the only three "Bl« which could justify any war, except another, which might be included under the third, and that was where ally had been unjustly attacked. He laid particular fin upon the words "unjustly attacked," not being willing admit, that when an ally was an aggressor, and refused make reparation, the nation with whom lie was in allian was obliged to support him. A nation was bound to su port an ally only in the case of an unjust attack, and evi then only according to the specific meaning of the treaty d tered into between them. The only three causes, therefor for going to war, were, to redeem a right, to provide again danger, and to repelktn attack; and any principle of suppose policy which stood in opposition to these three causes, ar did not come within one or other of them, could never I a just cause of war. Omn'ia qua defend!, resell, repelli pvfsun These were the words of Camillus to his soldiers, and the were full of wisdom, policy, and justice. These were th only just causes of war, on the established principles of th law of nations. For the war on which they were now abou to enter, what were they called to do? To redeem a right to provide against danger, or to repel an attack? Was ther any danger which at present threatened this country? Hac any of their rights been violated, or any unjust attack madt upon them? He sliould content himself with answering t< these questions. He might rest on these general principles; and call for an answer from the other side of the House; but a sort of answer had been already attempted. A new system had certainly been proposed to the House; a system which that House did not understand, and which could never have entered into the mind of any reasonable man. It was no easy matter to argue a proposition which had no precise definite meaning. The theory of treaties which had been stated to the House, he did not pretend to understand; but he did understand something of the Prussian treaty. By that treaty, Great Britain, incase of an unjust attack, engaged to furnish the King of Prussia with a certain number of troops, or with a certain sum of money. He trusted that he sliould not be told that the moment they entered into this treaty with Prussia, they were bound for all the other engagements of the King of Prussia. He had always understand the treaty to be a treaty of defence, and it was impossible to be so construed, as to justify the war in which they were about to engage. The treaty into which we had entered with the King of Prussia was laid before the House; but if we were bound for all his other engagements, all tht treaties of the King of Prussia with other Powers ought J/k"' wife to have been laid before the House. He had never considered the treaty in that light, neither had that House ever considered the treaty in that light. The right honourable

gtatkma himself had stated, that it was only to furnish a ■cm number of troops in cafe the King of i'russia was attarW. Was he attacked? Had he any reason to expect an • Marl from the Empress of Russia? From any occurrence ibkh was intimated to the House, when the Prussian treaty tistod upon the table, could any man possibly imagine that Grot Britain would have been bound by that treaty, under tit present circumstances? But there was a system behind. It hid been contended that the character and honour of the country were concerned. What a way was that of treating the House? For what purpose was the treaty laid before the Hoofer Was it toconlult the House With regard to the enppiDenu into which His Majesty had entered, or was it (orthe purpose os deceiving the Public, and the House, and proposing to them a treaty which held out that we were engaged in a system of defence, when, in fact, it meant perfects a different thing? Suppose, at the time when tht treaty was before the House, that it had been a condition in the treaty that Great Britain should go to war with Russia, whenever Russia ssiouId possess herself of Oczakow, would wif man in the House have assented to it? Could the Minir ittt with all the confidence which that House was disposed to place in him, have ever procured their approbation to such • condition? It was impossible. This country was at peace, f^they ought to adhere to that defensive system which had been so wisely recommended to them. In every other respect, the treaty was unexceptionable. Such a measure as the war now proposed must give offence to a Power with which it lud always been considered as the greatest interest of this ttmtry to maintain the best understanding. The language °f 'he treaty was, that Great Britain and Prussia had entered Moaoefensive alliance, The language of that House was, 'hit they had entered into an offensive treaty. If such a conduction had been given to the treaty at the time, no man m that House would have supported it. How, or upon '^principle, could they support it now? It was a system which in its consequences went infinitely beyond the treaty: lUtciwhich thev were bound by the treaty, was to furnish the King of Prussia with so many troops; or, in cafe be liked ■tbetter, with a certain sum of money. By the system now "'opted, they were engaged at once in all the expences and ^sequences of a war, of which no man could fee the policy, *d of vfhich no human prudence could limit the extent, ferbapshe might be told, that he had admitted that a county *as bound, for its own safety, to guard acainst the dangtrooi aggrandisement of any one Power. This was cejra»»ly true; but he must be understood to suppose, that that ^gnndisement was aimed at by violent and unjust means; vol. XXIX. P that

that it was clear and obvious, that the danger arising frorr was evident, and the not providing for it in the best way our power would be to neglect our own safety. But this would not admit upon any contingent and remote vie such as could arise fiom the equity of a treaty entered in with an ally, and not immediatelv connected with any i'nt rest of this country. In such a case, he certainly could n admit that explanation. It was on this principle, on ri first view of it, that the balance of the power of Europe ha been founded. This, he contended, was a system whic ought not to be left to the management of agents, and uri skilful hands. To that system, and to the preservation c it, he had heard the epithets of wild and romantic applied He would not inform the poor-st peasant in the country when he read of it, by his rush light, that he was deeply in' terested in the preservation of that balance; and if it wen necessary, he would advise the peasant to submit to new burdens, in cr ier to preserve that balance from uny real danger. But the ieverse of that system was now proposed, and the country was no longer to he directed by that wist: and cautious policy, which had hitherto directed its councils. 1 hey were now to contend for (orts on the Black Sea, as if they were fighting for their hearths and their altars. This was a source of affliction to the peasant, and those who propoled to Jay new burdens on him for that purpose, added insult to oppression. He thought that thole who had been so loud in talking of the romantic idea of the balance of power, would have explained their own system. He had watched them closely, and hebei.eved that he had seen seme of the workings ol convict ion in their minds. They had changed their sentiments, ..nd had now confessed that the balance of power in Europe was no longer a romance. But although they had retracted their opinion, Mr. Grey said, he certainly had not changed his. He considered the balance of power in Europe as an object of gre..t concern; and if thev could (hew him that that balance wat'in the least danger, he should certainly give his vote to rescue it fiom that danger. But before he consented to plunge this country into all the horrors of war, he must be convinced that the danger was suited to the case. It must be ibewn him that the possession of the town of Oczakow was such as would materially affect the interest o( country, and would endanger the balance of power in Europe. Upon what principles, or for what reasons, could we complain of the terms which the Empress of Russia had insisted upon? How could any danger arise to this country ,J * If they looked upon the Empress with as jealous an eye as some people did, they would think that the .way for her to aggrandise herself in a manner the least offensive to thiscoun

try>

trf, woaU be to pusti lier conquests to the South. Bat the rigtr honourable gentleman had observed, if this was the C2&, voeld not any man fee the necessity of arming? For hiown part, Mr. Grey added, he was not one of those who fæ%ht for war on suppositions What the Empress of Russia fosght was simply this—the town of Oczakow and the counts between the Bog and the Neister; and how could it poffc'My be stated that the acquisition of this territory was so □aterial an acquisition to the Empress, as to make her formidable to the rest of Europe, or to Turkey? In fact, it was not very material for either of these objects. In the hrst place, with regard to defence against Turkey, that placa was not of very great consequence. The Empress had pushed h:r conquests to Mount Hemus, and the Grand Vizir had ten left with ten thousand men. Upon what principle did titff contend that this place was of so much importance? Cooid it give her the navigation of the Nieper? According to the most accurate information which he had been able to obtain from such as were acquainted with those parts, and from the inspection of the best maps, it appeared that the Empress might possess the Nieper, without being in possession cfOczakow. The acquisition of that place, therefore, was not of so much importance at it had been represented. The. country between the Bay and the Neister was known by the name of the Desert Plains, which circumstance might give i^ntlemen some idea of what importance that territory was !'Wy to be of to the Empress of Russia. Although the country was barren, it was inhabited by some Tartars, who plundered the dominions of the Empress; and in order-to secure herself against future attacks, she had claimed that place of defence for her own territory. Was there any thing unseasonable in this demand? When it was considered that the Torkj were the aggressors in the war, could it be stated that tl* terms were unnecessary, or unjust? Could it be said that 'be acquisition of such a territory would prove of any materill disadvantage to this country? But suppose it had been of tffl times more importance than it really was, of what consequence was the Black Sea to Great Britain? He believed slut it was the only sea which British ships did not navigate. Was it then to "be secured for the trade which this* country Is to have with Poland? He thought that the important Tra°e of Great Britain carried on with Russia, must be greatly "iterrupted by the present war; and sure he was, that it *ouldprove difficult to persuade the country of the necessity "fwar. Our trade with Russia was the most advantageous °f»ny to Great Britain; it furnished materials for our tnann"Sures, and proved an excellent nursery for seamen. Our "ports to Russia amounted annually to about two millions

P 2 sterling;

« PreviousContinue »