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BRITISH and FOREIGN
For the Year 1798.
Great Britain. State of Public Affairs previous to the Meeting of Parlia.
ment. Succession of the Whig Members. Observations on thut Circumstance. His Majesty's Speech. Debate on the Address - In the House of Lords In the House of Commons. Debates on the Negotiation at Lisle- In the House of Lords-- In the House of Commons.
DROM the commencement of manity must deeply regret, the
T the French Revolution, every abrupt termination of the negotiasucceeding year has been replete tion at Lisle. Between that time with new and extraordinary inci- ' and the meeting of the British par. dents; the circle of civil anarchy liament a very short period interhas gradually extended ; state after yened, in which not a circumstance State has been swallowed up in the occurred which is deserving the vortex; and a general ruin has notice of the historian. On the seemed to impend over the face of opening of the session on the ed of Europe. The British empire, of all Nov. 1797, the friends of liberty the adjacent states, had alone enjoy- could not fail to regret that the ed domestic tranquillity, till the benches of opposition appeared alyear 1798 brought the calamity most completely deserted. The within our own borders; and where memorable secession, which had French arms could not conquer, taken place towards the conclusion French principles had almost been of the preceding session, was still revictorious. Though less interest- ligiously observed by the most diing, perhaps, to the rest of Europe, stinguished leaders of the whig pare the annals of the present year are ty; and even the ministers them. certainly important to Englishmen, selves regretted, that the nation and, when detailed by the pen of was deprived at this momentous Candour, we trust they will be crisis of that assistance which their found not wanting in instruction. brilliant talents might have afforded
Our last volume closed with an to their country. erent, which every friend to hu. In answer to the charge of a de
reliction of their duty, it has been blessings they were struggling to urged, with plausibility at least, that preserve. the violent state of party politics ." Compelled as we were by nerendered such a measure indispensa- cessity to persevere in the war, till a ble on the part of opposition. “ In pacific spirit prevailed on the part times when every man who cen- of the enemy, we had the satisfacsured the measures of administra- tion of knowing that we possessed tion was regarded as in league with means and resources proportioned the enemy, for what end, it was ar to the objects which were at stake: gued, should we incur so black a that during the period of hostilities, censure ? If we declare our senti. and under the pressure of accumuments, we are proclaimed as the lated burthens, our revenues had enemies of our king; if we tacitly continued highly productive, our acquiesce in the measures of the national industry had been extend. minister, we voluntarily take upon ed, and our commerce had surpassus a share of the responsibility. We ed its customary ủimits, have done our utmost to prevent “ The public spirit had been the war; we have urged repeatedly eminently displayed: the troops of the necessity of bringing it to a' every description had acquired the speedy termination; we have not admiration of their country; and persuaded our opponents--events the successes of the navy had been must now take their natural course crowned by the decisive victory of - we cannot aid with counsel, it admiral lord Duncan. shall not be said that we embarrass « The state of the war, joined to by opposition."!..
the happy consequences of our reThe first topic all..ded to in the cent success, would admit of some speech from the throne, was that diminution of expence, consistent which naturally engaged the atten- with the vigorous efforts which our tion of every man interested in the situation required. In considering welfare of his country. “ His ma the best mode of defraying that ex. jesty expressed his sincere concern pence which would still be unthat bis endeavours to restore peace avoidable, it was necessary to bear had been rendered ineffectual. The in mind, that the present crisis depublic declaration, and the papers manded the most spirited exertions, laid before them, bad fully proved and the value of iemporary sacrithat every step had been taken on fices could be only estimated by his part to accelerate its conclu- comparing it with the importance sion; and the long delay and final of supporting public credit, and rupture of the negociation were, he convincing the enemy that we added, to be ascribed solely to the were able to continue the contest evasive conduct, inordinate ambic as long as it might be needful for tion, and, above all, to the invete- maintaining the safety, honour, and ratc animosity of the enemy against independence of these kingdoms." these kingdoms.
In the house of lords, the earl of " His majesty professed to have Glasgow moved the address : in the fullest reliance (under Provi- examining his majesty's speech, dence) on the magnanimity and and the declaration which had precourage of a free people, sensible ceded it, be said it was most clear that they were contending for their ly apparent, that our sovereign had best interests, and determined to been actuated all along by princiJender themselves worthy of the ples of justice and moderation.
Those documents pointed out the Bat what was the situation of the malignant and insidious conduct of contending parties when this arrothe enemy throughout the whole of gant pretension on the part of the the war; this conduct it was, on enemy was advanced ? Was it in their part, which left it no longer in a moment of humiliation, defeat, the power of his majesty to indulge and disgrace? No; it was in the his beneficent inclinations towards full career of our conquest that peace; and in pursuit of this object they had dared to bring forward he bad gone as far as was compatia their insolent demands: their feet ble with the safety of his people, was perfectly annihilated, which, his and the dignity of his crown. lordship said, left no doubt upon Much as that event was to be de his mind, that they must see the sired, his lordship hoped that there impotence of all their schemes in was yet spirit enough in the coun any way to injure this country. try not to accept it at the price of The laté splendid victory of lord the honour of the British empire. Duncan showed what our navy His majesty had himself proposed a could accomplish; and whilst we treaty for peace to the enemy; and could command such heroic efforts after it was abruptly terminated, he of valour, we should, under divine had taken the first opportunity of Providence, determine to rely upon renewing it, and with the most them: we had prowess, and we targest solicitude for that event, had resources ; our commerce was directed his minister to continue at extensive, our finances were unimLisle as long as possible, namely, paired ; and, generally speaking, our till a positive order from the direc- military operationshad been successful. torv obliged him to retum. 9.4. A nation thus circumstanced had
From this review, it was obvious, no ground for despondency : he that the prolongation of the war therefore was decidedly of opinion was to be attributed solely to the that the conduct of ministers was ambition of France. What, in politic and proper, and such as truth, was the avowed state of the eventually would best conduce to negociation so lately terminated ? an honourable peace. He conThe enemy bad required a restitu- cluded with moving an address to tion of all the conquests our valour be presented to his majesty, return tad achieved, and this, not as the ing thanks for his most gracious price of peace, but negotiation speech. Such, with their pretended can- ' Lord Gwydir said, that the powdoor, were the terms they had the ers of language had been so often hardihood to propose; so that we, employed to describe the complicawho had every thing to give and ted nature of this war, that words nothing to receive, must resign all had lost their effect by repetition ; as a preliminary to treaty! By but the magnitude and importance this procedure we were called upon of the object remaining the same, to surrender our national dignity: he thought it necessary to declare and if these were the conditions of the principles which had governed prace, he was persuaded that the his public conduct. He had suplast resources of the country would ported the war from its commencebe cheerfully brought forth, ra- ment, because he had esteemed it ther than submit to compromise a just and necessary war : every our safety, independence, and ho- event, every circumstance had conmour,
firmed his opinion; and from this A 3
conviction he called upon their tended allies. Had these haughty lordships to support the address. terms been acceded to, our dise
Three times had his majesty's honour would have been sealed, but ministers gone to the utmost verge peace would have been yet more that prudence or honour would ad- distant. No negotiator could have mit, in the hope of ending this une proposed such conditions but with exampled contest by negotiation : a view of forcing a continuance of the result was well known; and be the war. So much for the justice was at a loss to imagine a reason of their theory and practice. for our embassador having been reo His lordship said it would be ceived, unless it was to afford the waste of time to comment on their jacobin party in France an oppor- good faith, either, in the treaties tunity of adding insult to injury, they had dictated and broken, or It had been stated from high autho- the alliances ibey had formed and rity, that a point of honour was al- abused; but it would be well if most the only rational cause of war: Europe would take warning, from a dispute for trade, or territorial these treaties and alliances, of what possession, might be easily compro- they might expect, mised, or given up; but the honour Far different had been the conof a country gone, its im portance duct of this country: the state of the must fall with it, and it would soon finds, the pecuniary difficulties un, become the derision of mankind, der which we had exerted and Had the object of the war been maintained our public credit, must changed? Certainly not: the means have convinced our allies of the of carrying it on had varied, but efforts we made to supply their the preservation of Great Britain wants : we had more than fulfilled had from its commencement been every engagement, and in the nethe one grand pursuit.
gotiation we proposed, their inte The aim of France was universal rests had been combined with our dominion, and whether they pur- own. sued it by war or treaty, the object Perhaps it was wise to learn by had been never varied.
negotiation the extent of the insoWith professions of justice, good lent demands of the faction in faith, humanity, they had thought France ; perhaps it was necessary to no actions too atrocious to be com- prove to this country that peace mitted; and indulging their ima- was impossible, in order to rouse ginations in ideal victory over this that vigorous exertion which its country, they alrcady considered it interest and honour required. The as a conquered enemy, and would ministers bad gone to every length listen to no terms but such as they which prudence and dignity pershould dictate. The laws which mitted if not farther; and after they had made applied only to the reception of such advances, the themselves ; occasional possession nation would be degraded in the created of itself indefeasible right; eyes of the world, if it hesitated one but when this doctrine came under moment in resenting the insult, discussion with their adversaries, it and accepting the challenge. was exactly reversed as applied to Earl Fitzwilliam rose, and with them, and they instantly demanded much warmth concurred in the a previous unconditional restitution same opinion; but there were some of every thing that had been taken words in the address, he said, to either from themselves or their pre- which he could not agree, because, he said, he conceived that they lity of Venice, and the complaisance tended to weaken the principle up- of Genoa towards the French goon which the house might wish to vernment, did not protect them from come forward with their support the rage of jacobin proselytism. of his majesty. Every expression Their treatment of the J alian implying approbation of the steps states also, and their conduct to which had been taken to restore America, denionstrated their aim. peace should be omitied; nor would Friendly as well as neutral powers he ever lend his sanction to the had been deprived of their rights Carrying on a negotiation with a by Buonaparte, on no other prepower so anomalous, so dangerons tence than the convenience or adto the safety of Europe, as the vantage of the republic. , DisorFrench republic.
ganization in all its extent had uniHis lordship much lamented that formly succeeded every establishhis Majesty had been advised to ment they had been able to oyermake a declaration two sessions ago, throw. An incompatibility of coaffirming that France was then in a alescing with any power whatever state to maintain the relations of was their own incommunicable peace and amity; whereas between prerogative; it was for the privithat government and ours there lege of regenerating the constitusubsisted no common principles; tions of other nations, and proseand only the restoration of monar- lyting other states, that they threw chy could render it capable of ex- away all their old forms, burst upistence with safety to the other on every people in their vicinity, powers of Europe. He believed and convulsed them with their enthis declaration had contributed to thusiasm : and wherever they pene. the continuance of the war, had trated by art or arms, the revoluweakened energy, had engendered tionary mania followed thein... distrust amongst the allies, and that Never had such swarms of ban. its consequence had been the treaty. ditti issued (continued his lordship) of Ujina.
as had issued from the cultivated He wished particularly to call empire of France, and overspread the attention of the house to the the surrounding kingdoms with object of the French government: madness and with guilt! And was it was the lust of universal empire; this the nation with which England it had debased their old establish was ready to make engagements ? ment; it distinguished their new. The character of its rulers evinced It was unnecessary, he said, to trace what we might expect from their its revolutionary progress in all warmest professions. These were their conquests, intrigues, and ne- formed upon the spirit of the peo gociations; but all were strongly ple, and had presented within these and incontestibly marked with this two months a dreadful picture of characteristic feature. He begged the cant of liberty, and the horror their lordships to recollect the pro- of despotism. Was not their late fessions of liberty and equality with proscription of 65 deputies, and which the Dutch and all their de- their disfranchisement of 33 departpendencies had been amused, and ments, for whose representation deceived; their conduct to Avi- they had arbitrarily and openly grion (and Avignon had never been sent creatures of their own to the their enemy); neither did Geneva Council of five hundred, an instance sland in that situation, the neutra- of this? In fact, the councils were