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of nations, the noble lord contended, that should shrink from doing justice lest it there were only two legitimate causes of should lead to loss, the noble lord proceeded war, namely, the evident disposition of a to cominent upon the consequences likely state to engage in war, or the actual com- , to result to us from the nature of our attack mencement of hostilities. But in plead- upon Copenhagen. So far from destroying for the Danish expedition, its projec- ing the naval resources of Denmark by tors, aware that no one adequate reason that attack, we had, he contended, particould be assigned for their conduct, seem- cularly by the spirit we had produced, ed to look for support to the accumulation contributed to promote and extend those of a number of'smail reasons. They could resources. Denmark could easily repair not certainly maintain that the treaty of the loss she sustained by the captures we Tiisit was the cause of their attack upon had made. The ports and arsenals were Copenhagen, for to that treaty Russia was still remaining, with a vast quantity of a party, towards which government they naval materials, which naturally belonged professed an amicable disposition after that to her; and any supply she wanted, she attack had terminated. It had been in- could obtain without difficulty. We were sinuated, ihat in urging this point he, and not, therefore, to suppose that we had, by those who thought with him, were plead- the success of our unjust attack upon Dening for the enemy, while, in point of fact, mark, rendered the naval resources of that they were pleading the cause of their state much less formidable than they were country, and of their king, whose name before. The profit derivable from our had been used to allege that which the iniquity was, in fact, immaterial, while we enemy had it in his power to contradict, had created a spirit, and valour, and aniand to contradict with truth. For, as it mosity to fight against us, which must was ilow manisest, there were no secret furnish powerful aid to the common enearticles cr secret arrangements at Tilsit, as my.—The noble lord concluded with exhau been originally state!, to justify the pressing his cordial concurrence in the Danish expedition, credulity itself could principle and object of the motion. no longer aitend to any such statement, Lord Hawk.sbury said, he would not, at after the conversation which a noble friend that late hour, trespass long on their lordof his bad mentioned to have taken place ships' time, but begged their attention, between him and the emperor of Russia; while he made a few observations, by way but if these much talked of secret articles of very shortly giving his negative to the Lad really existeil, or been seriously sus motion. The argument of the noble lord pected by ministers to have an existence, who spoke last appeared to him to be init would surely have been natural to look volved in great confusion; but he wished for some allusion to them in the Declara- to recal their lordships' attention to the tion of our ambassador at Petersburgh, true state of the question; and he thought, when accounting for the attack upon Den- when he did so, it would appear that it mark. He, however, did not state a word was neither more nor less than that, under about them; on the contrary, he ailedged a pretence of restoring the Danish fleet, tiat one gentleman had for a long time the motion went directly to censure the reason to suspect the intention of the conduct of ministers, in the expedition to enemy to take possession of the Danish Copenhagen, of which their lordships had ficet, for the purpose of employing it already expressed their approbation. If against this country. The noble ford ex we were obliged to act against a power as plained the object of the motion, which we had been against Denmark, could any appeared to be much misunderstood by such procedure be carried on with more so.ne of the noble lords on the other side. caution than that whole transaction had It was by no means proposed that the been attended with? We made them Danish fleet should be restored under any every offer to conciliation that could be de. particular circumstances; but merely, that vised before the army landed, and met not in order to facilitate a reconciliation, and only with a refusal to enter into a negowith a view to economy also, that it should tiation, but this refusal was repeated after Le kept in such a state as to prevent any the army landed ; and even just before obstructions to peace with Denmark, by the bombardment commenced, the same enabling us to restore it with the least pos- offers at negotiation were again made and sible expence and difficulty.-- After de- again rejected; and they not only refused precating ihe principle, that a state of war very conciliatory terms that were offer, shoald cancel mora obligations, or that we ed thein, but even declared that they
would make common cause with our ene PETITION RESPECTING THE COLD-Bathmy. If they had shewn any disposition Fields Prison.] Mr. Sheridan rose to preto negotiate or to keep on amicable terms sent a Petition upon a subject which he with this country, there might be soine should recommend to the serious attention ground for the present motion; but having of the house, and of his majesty's minisacted in the very manner they had done, ters. The subject was not new to that they certainly bad forfeited all claim to house, for in the year 1900 he had taken sucă treatment as was intended to be held a considerable share, with a worthy and out to them. In this view of the matter, hon. baronet (sir F. Burdett) whom he did he thought the motion was extremely ill not then see in his place, in the inquiries timed, and that it ought to be resisted. A which had been made into the managecase had already been made out, which, in ment of the Coldbath-fields Prison, and the face of parliament, and of the world, which brought the abuses in the governwould justify ministers, who, in this, as in ment of that prison under the considerathe instance of Portugal, had rescued the tion of parliament. They had, on that country from an impending and most im- | occasion, established the case so clearly, minent danger.
that the distinguished person now no more, Lord Sidmouth replied with considera- (Mr. Pitt,) who was then at the head of ble animation. He felt gratified at the his majesty's government, was obliged 10 discussion which the resolution had called give way, and consent to a full investigaa forth, although he must say that it had ex rion of the whole transaction. Accords perienced, from the noble lords who op- ingly a commission was issued under his posed it, a good deal of misrepresentation. majesty's sign manual, appointing comHe contended, that the analogy attempted missioners, most of them members of that with respect to the Toulon fleet, and the house, to prosecute the inquiry; and a recapture of the Spanish ships, did not at port was made, which entered very inuch all apply to the case of Copenhagen. In into the detail of the subject. But unthe former instances, circumstances of hos- questionably the defect or error of that tility had taken place sufficient to justify report was not, that it exaggerated the a declaration, but the attack against Co- abuses complained of in the interior adpenhagen had the two characteristics of ministration of the government of the prin surprize and spoliation committed on a son. He found, however, that the means. neutral, independent, and friendly power. recommended in the report, for the redress Madeira had also been alluded to, but it of the abuses complained of, had not been was out of all fair and legitimate compari- carried into effect, nay, had been aban son to make any such resemblance. The doned, and he very much feared, that the conduct of G. Britain, on that occasion, abuses had increased in consequence. The was that of a friendly power extending its allegations contained in the petition, he protection to a weak but friendly nation had not felt it necessary to enquire into, in the hour of impending distress. In previous to his presenting it to the bouse, what fell from the noble secretary, there because he had received ihe Petition from was nothing to convince his mind. His such a respectable quarter, and upon such arguments alone went to say, that, because high authority, that he could not entertain this country had commenced a career of any just doubts of the correctness of the injustice, therefore it ought to persevere
stateinents it contained. The Petition in it. He felt the converse of the propo was signed by Mr. Stevens, foreman, and sition, as due to the hitherto proud charac- by the other members of the grand jury ter of G. Britain, and with such an impres of the county of Middlesex, as well as by sion he alone came forward, unbiassed by Mr. Phillips, one of the sherills, a gentleany party hostility to his majesty's ser- man, who, infinitely to his credit, applied vants, to perform the duty he owed to himself, with the most landable zeal, to himself and his country.—The motion be the execution of all the duties of his arčius ing loudly called for, the house divided, ous oflice. He could assure the right hon, when there appeared
the chancellor of the exchequer, that this Contents ... 31,... Proxies 20 — 51. matter was not brought before parlia:nent Non-contents, 61,... -- 44-105. by him with any party views, nor had tho Majority against the resolution..--.5+. petitioners any such object in their con
templation. On the contrary, it had been
his practice, on every occasion when he Thursday, February 18.
had a petition to present, praying for a
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
redress of grievances, to submit the subject, upon an investigation of the matter, must to the consideration of his inajesty's minis come before the grand jury, who would of ters, whenever the redress could be efiec course come to the consiueration of the tuaily administered by them, rather than charge, with less prejudice upon their bring the matter forward publicly in par- | minds. Afier he had recommended this liament. This course had been followed mode of proceeding, and upon the grounds in the present instance. A communica- he had stated, the petitioners, whether tion had been made to his majesty's go- from a just or an unjust distrust of the government by the foreman of the grand vernment, had thought proper to bring the jury, in an interview which he had with matter publicly before parliament. Though one of his majesty's ministers. As no the presentment, it appeared had been steps had since been taken in consequence made at the Michaelmas Sessions, it was of such communication, he had thought it not till after the commencement of the his duty to present the petition to parlia- present session of parliament that the matment. But, he should, for the present, ter had been communicated to governcontent himself with moving, that the pe- ment. An inquiry too had been made by tition do lie on the table, leaving the whole the magistrates, which, though he could credit of the business to his majesty's mi- not say whether the result of that inquiry nisters, if they should think proper to take was right or wrong, seemed, from the siit up, though at the same time he was lence of the parties, a satisfactory answer bound to state, that if, after a reasonable to the complaint, and therefore no farther time, no step should appear to have been steps had been taken till the present time, taken, he should think it his duty to bring It had even been inferred, from their not forward the subject by a specific motion. having made the official communication
The Chancellor of the Exchequer did not recommended, that the gentlemen themmean to give any opposition to the bring- selves, who preferred the complaint, were ing up this Petition, though after the state satisfied with the result of that inquiry, ment of the right hon. gent. he felt called He was sure the right hon. gent. would upon to make one or two observations. concur with him, that it would have been He agreed with the right, hon. gent. that much better to have left the business, in wben questions of this description arose, | the first instance, to the executive governthe proper course to take was, to see at ment; but now that the Petition had been first how far the executive government brought forward, he had no objection to might be disposed to interfere for the re its lying on the table. dress of the abuses complained of. An Mr. Sheridan observed, that the petitiappeal to the government was, therefore, oners had not shewn any unfair distrust of the most correct proceeding in the first, government, remembering as they did that instance, because it was competent to the no efficient measures of redress had been executive to direct a thorough investiga- adopted, founded on the report of 1800, tion into the matters complained of, and and because there could be no efficient if the circumstances of the case should be redress without the dismissal of Mr. Aris. such as to warrant the proceeding, to order As to an oficial communication, it was a criin nal prosecution against the offend- impossible for the petitioners to make it, ing parties. This was the view which he because the grand jury had been dissolved had of tlic subject, and the right hon. previous to the communication. It was as gent. himself seemed to acquiesce in it. private individuals that they appeared as The communication that had been made petitioners before parliament, and not in to goveráment was conveyed in 'a private any aggregate capacity. forin, which could not regularly be acted The Chancellor of the Exchequer repeated, upon; and he had, in consequence, recom- that the only communication made to gomended that the matter should be officially vernment was of a private nature,' and, communicated to the executive ; in which consequently, was not a sufficient ground case, he pledged himself, that so far as he for a public proceeding. As to the rewas individually concerned, no time should port of 1800, he had only to observe, that be lost, nor any means left untried to as it had been laid on the table of the house, certain the justice of the complaint. He and might have been made the foundation had thought this a course far preferable to of parliamentary measures by any hon. bringing the subject at once before parli- member who might have thought such a ament; because whatever prosecutions the course necessary.- The Petition was then executive might find it necessary to crdır, | brought up and read. After which Mr.
Sheridan moved, that it do lie on the table, grievously injure those who were entitled at the same time stating, that many more to our forbearance, and as far as could be facts had since came to the knowledge of to our protection. the petitioners, which however, he should The Advocate-General then rose and spoke on that occasion abstain from detailing to nearly as follow: Sir, the house will natuthe house.-A short conversation then rally expect I should lay before them my took place, as to the propriety of allowing opinion upon the subject of this bill, and the the petition to lie on the table, with a grounds of that opinion, upon this occadescription of the petitioners that was not sion. In doing this, it is necessary for me borne out by the fact. Mr. Sumner first to look to the policy and the legality of took the exception, on this ground, as the present measure, both of which have even the right hon. gent. himself had ad- been charged against it by the hon. memmitted, that the grand jury had been dis- ber who has just now set down. In taking solved previous to the inquiry, and cer a comprehensive view of this matter, I am tainly, before the presenting of the peti- afraid it will be necessary to trice back tion. Without any wish to oppose the some of the circumstances which led genepetition, he thought the house could not rally to its adoption, because we must not entertain it, with such an unfounded de- consider a measure like this detached signation of the parties who presented it. from the circumstances which preceded The Chancellor of the Exchequer recom or accompanied it. Its policy and legality mended to the right hon. gent. on this can only be fairly appreciated by such a ground, to withdraw the petition for the consideration of the circumstances out of present, in order to have one prepared to which it arose. it is evident then, that present to-morrow, with the proper de- the Decree of the French government, of signation of the parties, in which case he the 21st of Nov. 1806, is the foundation of should himself be ready to second the mo the present proceeding. That decree purtion, that the petition should lie on the ported to declare the British isles in a table. After a few words from Mr. She- state of blockade, and to prohibit all ridan, who thought that the house ought commerce whatever, even with neutral not to be too critical as to the wording of nations, in the manufactures of this counpetitions, the petition was allowed to be try. The effect of that decree was to exwithdrawn, in order that it might be pre- clude us from all foreign powers whatever; pared to be presented to-morrow in a more and to prevent them not only from carrycorrect form.
ing on their accustomed trade with this [Orders in Council Bill. On the or country, but even to exclude the possibider of the day being moved for the 2d lity of one neutral nation trading with reading of the Orders in Council bill, salety to another. An American vessel
Mr. Eden said, that he could not allow trading from one neutral port to another, this bill to go through another stage with was subject to be seized by that Decree of out declaring his sentiments upon it. He the French government.--Sir, it has been thought that our retaliation upon our ene- said, that we have misconstrued this Demies ought to be conducted in such a man cree, and that it does not in effect blockade ner as not to injure unoflending neutrals. this country. In regard to its prohibiting He was of opinion that the note delivered the carriage of our produce or manufacto the American negociators on the 31st of tures, there can be no doubt; but it has Dec. 1806, was still binding on the go- | been alleged that there could have been vernment of this country, as there was no some other mode of avoiding its conseappearance that America had submitted quences. In my opinion, I do not see any to the controul which the French govern- great difference whether the threatened ment had attempted to impose on the blockade was included in it or not; for if commerce of neutrals with Britain. On foreign ships had only been allowed to the contrary, there was ample evidence come to this country with their foreign that America had remonstrated against produce, and not enabled to take away the French decree, and had obtained an ex our goods in return, that surely amounted. emption from its operation according to the very nearly to a similar blockading declaexplanation given by the French minister ration. I cannot but be surprised that of marine, Decrés. To impose a tax upon any person can read this French Decree, noutrals was illegal by the law of nations, and doubt its construction. The very preand by the statute law also. The measure anble of it recires what has been done by would do no injury to France, but it would this country; but it must be admitted that
these imputations are groundless and false. , followed the measure of the last governIt states that this country had blockaded ment, dated the 7th of Jan. Did neuvarious ports against neutrals, and argues tral nations interpose? Did the three nathe necessity of retaliation, and of declar- tions whom the French Decrees materially ing the British isles in a state of blockade. | aflected interpose, in order to get thein reThe fact, however, is falsely assumed, that moved ? Did Denmark, Portugal, or Amethis country ever declared any port in a rica interpose? I have not understood that state of blockade, without previously in any of these powers did endeavour to do vesting that port. I shall do the late go- so. On the contrary, I think we have a vernment of this country the justice to say pretty strong Note now laid before the that when they blockaded any of the ene- house, which was presented by the Danish my'sports, they anxiously inquired whether government, complainiog of the injustice those ports had been in the first place regu- of the Decree issued by G. Britain, but no Jarly invested. The French government, in inclination was evinced to revoke the pretheir decree, avowed their intention of re vious Decree of France, nor intimating taliation, without previously investing our any sense of the forbearance of this counports, and therefore all the consequences try. That Note I think seems to be soundof that blockade must be presumed to fol- ing pretty much of an Armed Neutrality, Jow that declaration. It goes on through the favourite measure which Denmark has six articles, and then states, that any ves all along been aiming at; a measure sel coming from the British ports with on a principle which, once adopted and British goods, shall not be admitted into carried into effect, so as to increase the any port of that country, meaning France maritime power of the nations on the conitself. Now there does seem something tinent, must put an end to the maritime of an inconsistency between this article, power of G. Britain. Such has all along and the first one in that Decree; the one, been the disposition of Denmark. As to in a certain degree, doing away the effect Portugal, such was the unfortunate situaof ihe other. It might, indeed, be doubted tion of that country, that with every diswhether this was pot done on purpose that position to do justice to her allies, it could no vessel should be admitted direct from not be supposed that she could venture to our ports to those of France, till they interfere to procure a revocation of the touched at some intermediate one. It French Decree, when she was obviously surely, at least, would bear such a con under the necessity of endeavouring to struction : but still the previous part of it purchase her own neutrality. So far from justified us in a contrary conclusion. her being able to do so, it was well known That Decree of the French government that the port of Lisbon was made the en'avowed itself to mean a retaliation for an trepôt for violating the Decree we issued imaginary offence; and what, then, became upon the 7th of Jan. and breaking through the duty of this country, and other coun the prohibition of trading from one port tries, in consequence of this outrageous to another. The country from which we measure? It surely became their duty to had reason to expect the effectual interrender such a mode of unaccustomed war- position, was the United States of America. fare to be retaliated and retorted upon the Upon a former occasion that country atenemy. It was our duty to do this with as tempted what it was called upon to do, at much forbearance as possible against other least so far as respected its own honour. countries. Although it be a just principle | It may be in the recollection of the house, in the law of nations that other countries that there was a Decree somewhat similar must naturally suffer, in a certain degree, to the present one issued by the French by the measures adopted, by belligerent government in the beginning of Jan. 1798, powers; yet it is surely the duty of each when that decree was noticed in the Preto render that suffering as little injurious sident's speech, as most injurious to Ameas possible. I certainly must justify the rica, and stated to be a measure that could forbearance of the former ministry; but not be suffered to exist, without violating in doing so, I think it cannot be argued the independence of their country. That that if their measure was found insufficient speech strongly showed what were then for the purposes intended, others more the feelings and the intentions of the vigorous should not be adopted, in or United States upon this subject. It showed der to remove those inconveniences this that it was then deemed to be an unjust country was likely to undergo in conse attack against neutral rights, and that they quence of French measures. What, then owned that nothing but a thorough resist."