« PreviousContinue »
foftr same inconveniences from a suspension or interruption of this trade, the Power with whom we are at variance will safer infinitely more. The immense sums of ready money vefcni to Russia for the purchase of the raw materials we import from that country, for the use of our dock yards, are what sustain the credit of the paper money now circulating in Russia, at a discount of 50 per cent. The balance of trade in favour of Russia, to the amount of 1,500,0001., is p.-.id in the most advantageous manner to Russia, in the most disadvantageous manner to out selves- Our merchants pay a year beforehand for the goods they purchase; for those they fell, they allow six months credit: besides those, they labour under other disadvantages, f;om which the merchants of eTery other country are exempted. I hey must pay the duties and customs at Riga and Peterihurgh, one half in the coin of the country, the other in dollars, and these dollars are only taken at such a price, fifty percent, lower than they can procure them for; which, ofccuise, is an increased duty of 25I. per cei.t. which our meichants have to pay more than the metchunts of every other country.
Surely, so unfavourable and mortifying an exception, should not incline us to think the Empreis friendly to this country; as one who loves the English, who is grateful for all the advantages lhe reaps from our trade, and one whom, on these accounts, we mould be particularly fearful and cautious of offending. But wherefore is it, may be asked, that the has tried so to mortity our pride, and forced our merchant? to submit to such indignities, for such exceptions iu her ports, to our disadvantage, are irdignities? Because she thinks she has us in her power; and that under the necessity of trading to her country for such and such articles we can procure no where else, we must submit to those conditions she chuses to impose. But let her beware! fortunately the Baltic is not all her own; fortunately, there are ether ports in that sea, besides her's, to which our merchantmen can have access; I mean those of Memel, of Dantzick, of Elbing. To those towns, the articles we most stand in need of can be brought, not so conveniently, but not with much more inconvenience than to her port of Riga. Riga hemp, the most essential article to us that we import from the Baltic, grows chieiiy in the northern provinces of Poland ; from thence it is sent down the rivers to the Russian ports; but it might be seni down other rivers, which rife in the fame provinces, to other ports: it would be difficult to procure lhe lame (junnMty for some time by this new channel; but in time this would "be'the cafe, and the quality of the hemp procured, would be the fame we now buy from Russia.
When trade once changes its direction, it is not easily brought back to its ancient course. The Empress is not a woman whose passions blind her to her own interests, and those considerations must therefore have their weight in her mind.
Before I conclude, said Mr. Stanley, I must now add, that » though for the reasons I have given, I do not think a war with Kuslia, should stie refuse to listen to our negociations, would be inexpedient or unjustifiable, on the principles of policy or of justice. Yet, considering how very exhausted this country is, I might hesitate more than I do in giving my vote for measures that may lead to war; but I repeat that I let my opinion be influenced, in addition to these reasons, by the confidence I have in the Minister.
Jealousy, it has been well said, is a an old parliamentaryword we should not lose sight of; 1 do not, but reserve a place for it in my bosom against f. ture times, when other Ministers may govern; but to a Minister who, for seven years, has served this country as our Minister has done, 1 give confidence; to a man who has recovered England from its lowest ebb of misfortune; who has restored order to our finances, which were believed almost irretrievable; who has raised us to our former place among nations, from a state of general despondency; to such a man I must give some confidence, and of his principles I cannot bring myself to harbour all at once mistrust and jealousy. Mr.Whit- Mr. IVkitbrcad said, it had not originally been his intention bread. to have offered himself to the Speaker's notice that night, but that of late he had been particularly anxious to catch his eye, because he wished that a line of discrimination ihould be drawn between those gentlemen who maintained, as some had done in the course of the debate, that the doctrine of confidence was that of the constitution, and those who thought it both strange and unconstitutional. He, for his part, did think it both strange and unconstitutional; it was a doctrine which he would deprecate with his earliest and latest breath in that House; a monster, with which he would grapple wherever it appeared, and use the utmost of his efforts to overthrow and to crush.
In every debate on every subject, since he had had the honour of sitting in Parliament, this doctrine of confidence had met him, and wherever it had met him, he had been alarmed; it had served in place of argument for every measure that had been proposed on the other side of the House; it had served jn place of an answer to every argument which had been adduced for any measure that had been brought forward on that side of the House,
When the part of the community by whom he was sent to Parliament, elected him their representative, he conceived that they had placed a confidence in him, on the express condition that he should repay it, not by confidence in others, which he would never bestow, unless extorted by the urgent necessity of circumstances, but by the liveliest jealousy and the most active attention. The great precept which constituents gave to their representatives, was to take care " Ne piddavtni caper et Respubiica.'" They were delegated to watch, to check, and to avert every dangerous innovation; to propose, to adopt, and to cherish every well-weighed improvement, and bound, by every tie of nature, honour, and religion, to deliver to their posterity the constitution unimpaired, and without the smallest derogation. How could that be isne, if gentlemen delivered up their consciences, bound hand and foot, to the Minister? The noble Lord (Belgrave) who moved the previous question, and the right honourable gentleman (Mr. Ryder) who had spoken since him, had not used any arguments to the point; and indeed the right honourable gentleman had said he would not discuss the resolutions then before the House, and in that he had strictly kept his word; hut as he knew that it was not from want of ability or eloquence that this happened, he was warranted in concluding that the ground on the side which they endeavoured to maintain, was not tenable. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had enveloped every thing in mystery and daikness: to borrow a quotation from the classical learning of the noble Lord, and to apply to the Chancellor of the Exchequer a character to which he had a peculiar and distinct title, for he was the foul, the vital principle, the providence of the other side of the House, into whose hands gentlemen delivered up themselves, their consciences, and their votes, whose acts they bowed to and commended, and *bise dark, inexplicable ways they did not pretend to scrutinize or arraign, he would say,
"Nuie polum pater occupavit;"
and to carry on the idea which the noble Lord had given him, he would say, in the words of another poet,
"Pater -media Nimborum in nofle corusca,
We fee the baneful effects of the right honourable gentleman's policy; but the causes are far removed from our view, and wrought in obscurity. He was determined not to deliver "is conscience, and powers of thinking, into the possession of any Minister whatever; he would never be accessary to 'tducing the House of Commons to the degraded state in which it once was, when they were told, "Ye are mt "here to grant subsidies, but not to meddle with matters c "State; those are questions far above your reach, and aj "propriated to the Prince alone, or to those Ministers wit "whom he is pleased to entrust them ;" and from this abjei state they had risen, not by confidence in any Minister, < series of Ministers, but by laborious exertions, by jealoi attention to their own rights, and by active ihvestigatic of the conduct of the servants of the Crown. Havim feebly perhaps, established, what, however, he strongly fel that it was his right and duty to investigate the conduct < Ministers, he should proceed to slate the reasons why 1 thought the resolutions proposed by his honourable frien ought to be adopted by the House.
A right honourable gentleman (Mr. Ryder) had said thr examples of applications to Parliament, under circumstance similar to the present, were numerous, and had mentioned variety of precedents, particularly one of the year 1720, whe Sir f. Norris was sent into the Baltic, (of which he woul take some notice hereafter) but he contended that no Mini ster, either in the instances quoted by the right honourabl gentleman, or in any other instance, ever came to Parlia ment for supplies, in a manner so unconstitutional as th Chancellor of the Exchequer did.
The causes of the armament had not been avowed or ex plained, and great eulogiums had been bestowed upon th Chancellor of the Exchequer for his secresy; it was allowei he gave no information, but it was at the fame time insiste* upon that none was neceffiry. Gentlemen wished to know nothing. In private life, a proper mixture of openness am secresy begot friendship between man and man; but it woul'' appear strange, were a person to say, " I he more mysterious "and concealed your conduct is, the more satisfied shall £ "be that it is right; the less you tell m? of what you are "doing, the more shall I believe you are doing well; aid "I then shall be most contented with you, and have the ,! highest opinion of your integrity, when you tell me no"thing at all." But this was precisely the language held by gentlemen respecting the Minister. Every thing here was to be guessed at; it wns to be conjectured why the tranquillity of the nation was to be disturbed; and it must be remembered that those " slioes were not yet old" in which gentlemen had come down to vote supplies for an armament which a right honourable gentleman (Mr. Dundas) to gild a little the pill of taxation, and make it go down with iomfl degree of facility, had said, was to procure permanent tranquillity to this country; it had struck such terror, and had such an effect in Europe, that no power would venture to
interinterrupt our repose. What was the effect the right lionourablegentJerr.an boasted? what was the lecuritv wehad bought? Oar flwt is scarce dismantled, our seamen are scarcely turned adrift, before, with anogance and info] ;:ce, we effer our /neifiation to two contending Powers. 1 hat mediation was rejected with contempt, as it well deserved, and we are obliged to arm again: and for what had we interfered ? To prevent, as we are to conjecture^ Russia from becoming so strong, as to endanger the balance of powrr in fUrope! It was a speculation not unworthy any politician, to consider whether, in effect, Russia, by her conquests to the >outh, was increasing in strngth and power: for his parr, he considered every accession of territory to her in that quarter, as an accession cf weakness; that her empire, by extension, became more unwieldy, and less t,o be re.td.-d , and if that were really the cafe, the true policy to be pursued, the true method to prevent her becoming formidable to the tranquillity of Europe, would be to suffvr her to pursue her schemes to the South; to suffer her to fight, and weaken herself. Ia his opinion, Russia could only be formidable, when her attention was entirely applied to her northern possessions, and when the momentum of her vast empire was given to Petersburg; and upon this subject he desired to remark the contrariety of opinion adopted bv the Minister. It had been said by a right honourable friend of his on a former occalion, and had not at any time bean denied by Administration, wherefore he mould take it for granted to be true, that Great Britain, in concert with the King of Prussia, had stirred up the Porte to make war upon the Empress: the apprehensions then entertained were, that her attention was tfoo much alive in the North, and this scheme was to divert it towards the South: now, circumstances were entirely reversed, and ail our sears were of her aggrandisement in the South. But let the idea be carried to its farthest extent, and suppose that the Empress could realize all her imputed views of ambition, and get possession of Constantinople, and expel the Turks from all their European provinces ! would any unprejudiced, impartial man contend, that by such an event mankind would not be largely benefited? Would any man contend, that by the expulsion of a race of beings, whose wretched, abominable tyranny proscribed the arts and literature, and every thing that was good and great and amiable, would not conduce to the happiness and prosperity of the world? He was convinced it would : those countries endowed by nature with every advantage, and suffering by oppression the most abject misery, would revive, and be productive of sources of commerce beneficial to every nation. This was an event, with which the paltry consideration of the nice adjustment of the Vox.. XXIX. T balance