Page images

d Great Britain and Pruflia. Now it was said we were ioeal lo see peace restored, without the aggrandisement of Rota, when, is this story was tiue, we had heen the infijiors of the war. If we were not the instlgatots, why flte not prevent it if we thought that we had any concern jrsi issue r Would Sir Robert Ainflie, then our Ambassador (Constantinople, say, that he had been instructed, either Whor without the co operation of the Prussian Minister, todivertthe Porte from attacking Russia? After the war tegan, we employed our mediation, and in all His Majesty's (jwches to Parliament, he regretted the continuance of the *jr, on principles of humanity; but always added to his Ofrtffions of regret, a political assurance that no danger ■Mto be apprehended from it to us. Were he, therefore, tsfvm his opinion, that we had nothing to apprehend from the war, on the annual communication- of His Majesty to Parliament, he should not be accused of laying a flattering taction to his foul. What had since happened to involve us? Was the success of the Empress's arms so formidable in our tjB± that we must insist on her renouncing her conquests? Tsedrfpute between her and us, he believed to he this: She tiered lo cede all her conquests between the Neister and the uoufce, and proposed to retain only those between the Nrifcr and the Don; while we insisted that she should surifder ail her conquests without exception. Such was the ppontion which we held to Russia; while, in India, we aSfied, in our own cafe, that Tippoo Sultan should not only ■akcreparation for having commenced, as we said, a war gainst us, hut if our arms were successful, surrender as mochas we could conquer of his territories, as a sort of fine -Thaving made an unjust attack. Was it to be conceived tattany sovereign who had spirit to' feel and power to resist, "said not spurn with indignation at the insulting insolence of J proposition so diametrically opposite to what we claimed b ourselves. We might, indeed, domineer in the inso^Wofa momentary power, as Lewis XIV. had done, but '«her it was in the nature of circumstances, or the pro"sSty of mankind to unite against insolence, it had never Papered long in the civilized world, and never would pros0«r whole ground of quarrel with Russia was, thereto^ the tract of country he had mentioned, unprofitable «d worthless to any power, except for a single place con^wdinit, and this place was Oczakow. Now, had Ocuim been taken in the present year, as far as its value it might have been said to have produced a change of Mctimstances; but it was taken in 1788, and in 1780, His ;ain assured Parliament, after mentioning the war the situation of affairs was such as promised us a continuance of peace. This was an explicit declaratioi of the highest possible authority, that Oczakow was n< thought of such importance then as to be deemed the obj* of an armament, and a strong presumption that it was m the real object of the present armament. It might be sai that the former conduct of Ministers towards Russia w wrong, and that the present Ministers acted on another fy tem. But was Russia obliged to know this? Was it her bi siness to enquire what were the opinions of this Lord of tl Treasury anci that Secretary of State, or to look to the g neral policy and conduct ot the country? With what su prise must (he now hear that England, who had aided her i obtaining an establishment on the Black Sea, who had ei abled her first to enter the Mediterranean, and who had n fused to oppoie her in seizing on the Crimea, was jealous 1 her power? If, she might reasonably observe, you wei afraid of my conquests, you ought to have prevented re being attacked. Conquest is the necessary consequence < war with my enemy, against whom defensive war would 1 ruin. Let not the House attempt to dissociate effects froi causes, or suppose that a power attacked was not to repel a< tack by conquest, if the fortune of war turned in its favou In all interferences with foreign nations, justice was the be foundation of policy, and moderation the surest pledge c peace. If there was nothing of a vindictive spirit in 01 conduct, the honourable gentleman who mentioned it migh as well have passed it unnoticed. If there was, it applie equally to Sweden and to Denmark, for both had acceded t the armed neutrality. It applied still more to the Court c Berlin; for the late King of Prussia, it was well known, ha stirred up that combination. But were the late King c Prussia now alive, would he, on that account, introduce spirit of revenge in his policy towards him? Undoubtedl not: it was a principle on which he would never act, and 1 much despised in public as in private life. Whatever cons dence might be claimed by Ministers, none could be du where they had betrayed incapacity; and this the prefer Ministers had done in the continental connections; for the had not followed up their defensive system with consistency In the negociations at Reichenbach, when they found tli Emperor disposed to peace, they had neglected the opporru nity of engaging the Empress by the fame arguments whic induced him to consent, and which were then in their power They had stimulated Sweden to attack Russia; prevente Denmark from assisting her; then neglected Sweden, an tamely, or ignorantly, suffered an active enemy to be con verted into an useful ally. Where was the policy of thu meddling and retracting? Of the armament against Spain it tad ban said, that we ought not to look only to the southveS of America, but to the north-east of Europe. If that anament was equipped with any view to Russia, deceit and ninood were practised on the House; but when it was supped, it might have been supposed that men's eyes would Mt tare been so riveted to the south-west of America, that tbey could see nothing else, or that the Minister would not kfebeen put into such a flutter by his dispute with Spain, a to be able to attend to nothing else, while that continued. Aftir it was over, to what purpose did we disarm, if we hew that we had still an occasion for an armament i It was common to hear Ministers glorying in the situation of the eoratry, while with an arrogant affectation of modesty, they admitted that many circumstances, in particular the state of France, had contributed to that situation in which their conduct had no share. The advantages to be derived from the fate of France had been always considered, by every rational man, as those of reducing our expences, restoring our finances, lad securing, fora long succession of years, the probable continuance of peace. How miserably had we been disappointed cy our own abuse? By the absurd pride of interfering in the -flairs of every foreign State, we had involved ourselves in ttpence, and obtained only the hazard of war. Neither lid we been successful in any one instance, except that of Holland. We had not lowered Russia; we had not raised Sweden; and between the Emperor and his Belgic subjects, Mt interference had been absolutely ridiculous. The allied sowers had made certain stipulations with the Emperor in be* talf of the provinces; and when Marshal Bender was about totnter the Netherlands with an armed force, their Ministers •! the Hague wrote to htm, that he ought to stop till certain preliminaries were adjusted. His answer was a peremptory tfaial. They then said, "You must take the consequences, '' and we wash our hands of the business." He disregarded 'ik menace, and took possession of the provinces, where, as fusaid, the Emperor had sliewn a greater disposition to pardon than to punish; then those very Ministers came for•ird, and signed the treaty; the news was thought of sufficient importance to be dispatched by Lord Henry Fitzgerald, •nd we plumed ourselves on our success in that which had in kctbeen done without our concurrence. If our allies were -Hacked, or threatened, then, indeed, the honour of the Melon would be concerned to interfere. We had no alliance *TM Turkey, and were only called on to gratify the pride w oor own Ministers, and to second the ill-judged policy of fTMfl»a. How far Ministers were pledged to support that 5*"cy> he knew not; but he knew that the country was not FWged to support it; and let the House abide by what Ministers nisters had declared, and Parliament sanctioned, but pay nc regard to their private engagement. The conquests of Ru flli towards the South could never interfere with the commerce of this country, nor give any reasonable ground of alarm to the King of Prussia, whose interest it rather was, that her view should he directed to that quatter; and Oczakow could be no acquisition to Russia, but for the purposes of defence. An alliance with Russia was the m ,st natural and the most advantageous that we could enter into; and when he himself was in office, the- Empress was well inclined to such an alliance; but the healing balm of all our errors, the hope that our first efforts would effect a peace, was delusive.

Mr. Pitt. Mr. Chancellor Pitt contended, that our attention to the assails of Europe was a necessary consequence of our defensive system. That attention we could not give up, nor avoid interfering, where interference was necessary, without relinguilhing that system entirely This the right honourable gentleman was obiged to admit, because he had always admitted it. It was true that we were not called upon to interfere on every occasion; bnt much of the right honourable gentleman's doctrine would go to fay, that we were not to interfere on any. The whole question then was, whether the present was an occasion on which we ought to inteifere, and that it was, he hoped he should prove on the grounds stated in moving the Address, without taking up much time. The right honourable gentleman tri d to alarm the House, by arguing that the present interference would lead to a perpetual interference; and for this purpose, he connected the present armament with that of the preceding year, although they were totally unconnected, both as to cause and to object. I he right honourable gentleman had admitted that our interference was proper in the cafe of Holland, and the fame principle which justified that interference, would apply equally to this. It could not be asserted that it was either unjust or impolitic to prevent the situation of neiglibouring powers from being so altered as to endanger our own security. This right was admitted by the right honourable genN tleman, if it arose out of a defensive alliance; but the same principle on which that'right arose, the principle of self-preservation, must apply to cases in which there was no defensive alliance. We were bound by no treaty to interpose in the disputes of Holland; but, from the circumstances of the cafe, from the probability of securing a valuable ally to ourselves, instead of seeing the same power irrevocably attached to our rival, we were justified in'interfering to restore the Government, and re establish the authority of the Prince of Orange. Of the right, then, there could be no question,


la) lie circumstances remained only Jo be considered. If ii were true that Prussia, by the aggrandisement of Russia, œjSbs endangered, and consequently our defensive system iGjjired, the circumstances actually called for our interferes. It was, in this cafe, wife to anticipate the danger, :id to endeavour to prevent that from being clone, which, wen once effected, could not easily be undone, so as to i::ng matters back to their former situation. The right honourable gentleman had insinuated that Ministers were bound Engagements to Prussia, with which the country had noting to do, and which Parliament ought not to support. Be begged leave to assure the House, that the insinuation wi; unfounded, and that Ministers were bound by noengageEKnrsto Prussia, but such as had received the sanction of Llnment, and by their unbiassed sense of the British interests. The right honourable gentleman had given an able tail of the former conduct of Great Britain towards Russia, t'prove that the present conduct was unjust; but this was riHer a topic than an argument; for if it proved any point, "proved that when former Ministers had been wrong, future MiniSers were not at liberty to pursue a different line of conWt, so that error once adopted, must prove perpetual. The iuit of affairs was not the fame as now, at the periods to »Vh he had alluded. 1 urkey was then close linked with fuice, and we had no reason to interfere in behalf of the % os our rival, nor cause to dread the aggrandisement of iwfiia. Admitting, for the sake of argument, what he ,;uld not admit in fact, that we ought to have interposed Boner on the present occasion, that was no reason against 3°r interposing now, but rather an additional reason for in'/fpoting. But, had the necessity been so pressing at any 'anner period as it was now become, or were such conseJornces to be apprehended, without a speedy interference? '^m next said, that we had lost the opportunity of briiig

Russia to terms of peace, when the Emperor was pre'1;kd upon to treat. When the Emperor manifested a salable disposition, would it have been wise to suspend the ^Spciations with him, at the risk of their being entirely Ntenoff, in order to wait for the concurrence of Russia? - siding our dispute with Spain, we were neither so free to

a» now, nor was the' necessity then lo urgent; and by "favouring to combine two objects, which had no natural ■section, there was some hazard, at least, that one of *m might miscarry. But why, it^ivas asked, did we dif■llSour armament after that dispute was concluded? We

n°t dismissed our armament; for we had kept up a con'®Mt addition of force; but as the season of the year 1 itte it imposlibi* to act for several months, we had not


« PreviousContinue »