Page images
[ocr errors]


Parliamentary Debates

During the Second Session of the Fourth Parliament of the

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and of the Kingdom of Great Britain the Twenty-first, appointed to meet at Westminster, the Twenty-first Day of January, 1808, in the Forty-eighth Year of the Reign of His Majesty King GEORGE the Third. [Sess. 1808.


bad the result of the Negotiations at Tilsit

confirmed the influence and controul of Thursday, January 21, 1808.

France over the powers of the continent, (The LORDS COMMISSIONERS' SPEECH.] than bis majesty was apprized of the inThe Second Session of the Fourth Parlia- tention of the enemy to combine those ment of the United Kingdom was opened powers in one general confederacy, to be this day, by commission ; the commis- directed either to the entire subjugation of sioners were, the archbishop of Canterbury, this kingdom, or to the imposing upon his the lord chancellor, and the earls Camden, majesty an insecure and ignominious peace. Aylesford, and Dartmouth. At three — That, for this purpose, it was determined o'clock the lords commissioners took their to force into hostility against his majesty, seats upon the woolsack; and the Com- states which had hitherto been allowed by mons, pursuant to message, having at. France to maintain or to purchase their tended, with their Speaker, at the bar, the neutrality, and to bring to bear against Lord Chancellor informed them, that his different points of bis majesty's dominions Majesty had been pleased to direct his the whole of the Naval Force of Europe, commission to certain lords, therein named, and specifically the Fleets of Portugal and to open the session; which commission Denmark. To place those fleets out of they should hear read, and afterwards his the power of such a confederacy became majesty's most gracious Speech. The com- therefore the indispensable duty of his mamission was then read by the clerk at the jesty.-In the execution of this duty, so table; after wbich, the Lord Chancellor far as related to the Danish Fleet, his maread the Speech, as it here follows: jesty has commanded us to assure you, that My Lords and Gentlemen,

it was with the deepest reluctance that his “We have received bis majesty's com- majesty found himself compelled, after his mands to assure you, that in calling you earnest endearours to open a Negotiation together at this important conjuncture of with the Danish government had failed, to affairs, he entertains the most perfect con- authorize his commanders to resort to the viction, that he shall find in you the same extremity of force; but that he has the determination with which his majesty bim- greatest satisfaction in congratulating you self is animated, to uphold the honour of upon the successful execution of this painhis crown, and the just rights and interests ful but necessary service...We are comof his people.We are commanded by manded further to acquaint you, that the bis majesty to inform you, that no sooner course which his majesty had to pursue



every at

with respect to Portugal was happily of a ror of Russia, pending the Negotiations at nature more congenial to his majesty's Tilsit, as well as of the Official Note of the feelings : That the timely and unreserved Russian minister at this court, which con. communication by the Court of Lisbon of tain the offer of his Imperial majesty's methe demands and designs of France, while diation, and of the Answer returned to it confirmed to his majesty the authenticity that Note by his majesty's command ; and of the advices which he had received from also Copies of the Official Notes of the other quarters, entitled that court to his Austrian minister at this court, and of the majesty's confidence in the sincerity of the Answers which his majesty commanded to assurances by which that communication be returned to them, shall be laid before was accompanied.--The Fleet of Portugal you.- It is with concern that his majesty was destined by France to be employed as commands us to inform you, that, notan instrument of vengeance against Great withstanding his earnest wishes to termia Britain ; that Fleet has been secured from nate the war in which he is engaged with the grasp of France, and is now employed the Ottoman Porte, his majesty's endeain conveying to its American dominions vours, unhappily for the Turkish empire, the hopes and fortunes of the Portuguese have been defeated by the machinations monarchy.-His majesty implores the pro- of France, not less the enemy of the Porte tection of Divine Providence upon that than of Great Britain.-But while the inenterprize, rejoicing in the preservation fluence of France has been thus unfortuof a power so long the friend and ally of nately successful in preventing the termi. Great Britain, and in the prospect of nation of existing bostilities, and in excitits establishment in the New World, ing new wars against this country, his mawith augmented strength and splendour.- jesty commands us to inform you, that We have it in command from his majesty the king of Sweden has resisted to inform you, that the determination of tempt to induce him to abandon his alli. the enemy to excite hostilities between his ance with Great Britain, and that his ma. majesty and his late allies, the emperors of jesty entertains no doubt that you will feel Russia and Austria, and the king of Prus with bim, the sacredness of the duty which sia, has been but too successful, and that the firmness and fidelity of the king of the ministers from those powers have de- Sweden impose upon his majesty, and that manded and received their passports. you will concur in enabling his majesty to This measure, on the part of Russia, has discharge it in a manner worthy of this been attempted to be justified by a state country. It remains for us, according to ment of wrongs and grievances which have his majesty's commands, to state to you, no real foundation. The emperor of Rus- that the Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and sia had indeed proffered his mediation be- Navigation between his majesty and the tween his majesty and France; his ma- United States of America, which was conjesty did not refuse that mediation; but cluded and signed by commissioners, duly he is confident you will feel the propriety authorized for that purpose, on the 31st of of its not having been accepted, until his December 1806, has not taken effect, in majesty should have been enabled to as consequence of the refusal of the President certain that Russia was in a condition 10 of the United States to ratify that instrumediate impartially, and until the princi- ment. For an unauthorized act of force ples and the basis on which France was committed against an American ship of ready to negotiate were made known to war, his majesty did not hesitate to offer his majesty.-No pretence of justification immediate and spontaneous reparation: bas been alleged for the hostile conduct but an attempt has been made by the of the emperor of Austria, or for that of American government to connect with the his Prussian majesty. His majesty has question which has arisen out of this act, not given the slightest ground of com- pretensions inconsistent with the mariplaint to either of those sovereigns, nor time righıs of Great Britain : such preeven at the moment when they have re- tensions his majesty is determined never to spectively withdrawn their ministers have admit. His majesty nevertheless hopes, they assigned to his majesty any distinct that the American government will be accause for that proceeding. His majesty tuated by the same desire to preserve the has directed, that Copies of the Official relations of peace and friendship between Notes which passed between his majesty's the two countries, which has ever influambassador ånd the minister for foreign enced his majesty's conduct, and that any affairs of his imperial majesty the empe- difficulties in the discussion now depend

ing may be effectually removed.—His ma- play in this crisis of the fate of the counjesty has commanded us to state to you, try the characteristic spirit of the British that, in consequence of the Decree by nation, and face unappalled the unnatural which France declared the whole of his combination which is gathered around us, majesty's dominions to be in a state of his majesty bids us to assure you of his blockade, and subjected to seizure and firm persuasion, that, under the blessing confiscation the produce and manufactures of Divine Providence, the struggle will of his kingdom, his majesty resorted in the prove ultimately successful and glorious to first instance to a measure of mitigated Great Britain. “We are lastly commanded retaliation; and that, this measure having to assure you, that in this awful and moproped ineffectual for its object, his majes- mentous contest you may rely upon the ty has since found it pececsary to adopt firmness of his majesty, who has no cause others of greater rigour, which he com- but that of his people, and that his mamands us to state to you will require the jesty reciprocally relies upon the wisdom, ad of parliament to give them complete the constancy, and the affectionate supand effectual operation.—His majesty has port of his parliament." directed copies of the Orders which he has The commons having retired, the lords issued (with the advice of his privy council) commissioners withdrew to unrobe. Lord spon this subject, to be laid before you; viscount Lake and lord Gambier were inand he commands us to recommend them troduced with the accustomed formalities, to your early attention.

and took the oaths and their seats. The ** Gentlemen of the House of Commons, archbishop of York and earl Grey, also * His majesty has directed the Estimates took the oaths and their seats. Their lordfor the year to be laid before you, in the ships then adjourned during pleasure. At fallest confidence that your loyalty and five o'clock the house resumed. His mapublic spirit will induce you to make such jesty's most gracious Speech was then read provision for the public service as the ur- by the lord chancellor from the woolsack, gency of affairs may require.—His ma- and afterwards by the clerk at the table, jesty has great satisfaction in informing after which you, that notwithstanding the difficulties The Earl of Galloway rose, and adwhich the enemy has endeavoured to im- dressed their lordships as follows :

- My pose upon the Commerce of his subjects, lords ; after the Speech which your lordand upon their intercourse with other na- ships have heard delivered by his malions, the resources of the country have jesty's command, it is expected some continued in the last year to be so abun- member of this house should present himdant, as to have produced both from the self to your notice, to solicit that attention permanent and temporary revenue a receipt which the importance of the subject deconsiderably larger than that of the pre- mands; and by endeavouring to obtain ceding year.—The satisfaction which his your cordial concurrence in an Address of majesty feels assured you will derive, in thanks to his majesty, for his gracious common with his majesty, from this proof communication, to mark your approval of of the solidity of these resources, cannot the sentiments it contains. I can assure but be greatly increased, if, as his majesty your lordships I am perfectly aware of confidently hopes, it shall be found pos- the inadequacy of my abilities to open sible to raise the necessary supplies for the subjects of the magnitude and importance present year without any material addi- of those now offered for your discussion ; tions to the public burdens.


you will separate the advocate from “ My Lords and Gentlemen,

the cause, and, I' trust, be disposed to ex“ We are especially commanded to say tend to the former that indulgence, which to you, in the name of his majesty, that if it is your lordships invariable practice to ever there was a just and national war, it is do, at the same time doing ample justice that which his majesty is now compelled to the serious import of the other. I must to prosecute.- This war is in its principle claim also your lordships indulgence in purely defensive : his majesty looks but to consideration of my habits and pursuits, the attainment of a secure and honourable which have differed widely from those Peace; but such a peace can only be ne- which are requisite to qualify me to make gotiated upon a footing of perfect equality. an adequate appeal to an assembly like -The eyes of Europe and of the word this ; but again I trust this deficiency on are fixed upon the British parliament. If, my part will in some measure be supplied as his majesty confidently trusts, you dis- by the goodness of the cause I have to advance. I will not consume more of that a difference of opinion exists upo your lordship’s time by a longer pre- this subject (not in the country), but wit amble, being sensible many noble lords some members of your lordships' house will be extremely 'anxious to deliver their If that is the case, I own I am curious t opmions also; I shall therefore proceed to learn the argument that is to be advanced animadvert shortly upon the prominent Is it possible, my lords, that any candi features of the Speech, leaving to others and impartial person can doubt the para the detail, who will be better able to do mount necessity of this expedition Per justice to the same. In the first place, my mit me, my lords, to put the case th lords, we are informed in the speech, that other way, and to suppose that his ma soon after the Treaty of Tilsit had an- jesty's ministers, confiding in what i nounced the dereliction of Russia to the termed the faith of treaties, and refusing cause she had espoused, his majesty's mi- all other evidence, had neglected to avai nisters received the most clear and positive themselves of the naval superiority of this information, that it was the intention of country to secure the Danish - fleet, wha the enemy to compel the courts of Den- would have been the result? Will any mark and Portugal to subscribe their na- man doubt that the speech would now di vies to a general confederacy about to be rect us to prepare against a naval confeformed against this country, and with a deracy composed of a force equal to forty promptitude and decision that does then sail of the line, from supposing the indeinfinite credit, they immediately resolved pendent monarch of Sweden had been to frustrate so formidable a combination. able to remain a quiet spectator, and that It is known to your lordships that this this force was destined against the most has been effected, with respect to Den- vulnerable parts of our empire. My lords, mark, by force of arms. The hostile sen- would not indignation have swelled the timents of ihat court, evinced in many breast of every man in this country against ways during some years past, rendered a government so deficient and remiss? fruitless every other mode of proceeding. Censure would then have been approIt was an unfortunate circumstance, my priate; and at present I cannot admit it lords, that the Danish fleet, the only ob- to be so; if the idea does exist. It is ject of our solicitude, should be encircled gratifying, my lords, to reflect upon

the by the walls of the capital, thereby caus- means employed to secure the navy of Poring misfortune, which every humane mind tugal from the grasp of France, by recomwould wish to have avoided ; but it is mending to that court to transfer the seat creditable to the arms of this country, and of their government to the Brazils? It is meritorious in the officers commanding gratifying to see one government of Euthe expedition, that every attempt was rope prefer emigration to submission to inade to prevent a loss that was inevitable. France. My lords, I consider that event Is soon as success, my lords, enabled you (next to securing the Danish fleet) the to judge for yourselves, you found verified most consequential that has occurred since every prediction of the government ; an the commencement of this eventful war, arsenal over supplied with every material and provided a strict friendship and liberal of equipment, magazines replete with policy is pursued by both nations, the stores, ascertained to have been pur- most beneficial result may be seen. It is chased by the agents of France, and gratifying also to reflect, my lords, that those demonstrations which could not es- at the very moment when our merchants cape theeye ofseamen, that the fleet was on are deprived of their trade with Russia, so the eve of being fitted out. The result I large a portion of the continent of Ameneed not add; that eet is now safe and rica is thrown open to their enterprise. secure in the harbours of England, ready, Upon our late transactions with Russia, if necessary, to be employed in her de- my lords, I do not mean to dwell; every fence; and by so many ships of the line one of your lordships must have read his of which it is composed, by so many de- majesty's reply to the aspersions of the grees do I consider the liberties of this court of Petersburgh; and every candid envied country secure.—My lords, it is and impartial mind must be satisfied that justly said in the speech, " That to place the conduct of England is justified in a out of the reach of this confederacy the manner as honourable for the nation as fleets of Portugal and Denmark was the creditable to those who framed that state indispensable duty of his majesty.” And paper; but, my lords, I am anxious to yet, my lords, I have heard it rumoured, extract some good out of this evil, and I

« PreviousContinue »