Page images

the treaty of Campo Formio, respecting the con- unpopular throughout France, but no party was cerns of the German Empire, encouraged by the strong enough to relieve the country from its aradvance of the Russians, again resorted to arms. rogance and rapacity, until Bonaparte suddenly Thus was formed the third great confederacy returned from Egypt, and, throwing himself on against France, which was sustained by immense the army for support, usurped the government subsidies furnished by Mr. Pitt out of the in- on the 9th of November, 1799. A new Consticreased means now placed at his disposal. The tution was immediately formed, under which scene of warfare at the close of 1798, and Bonaparte was nominated First Consul for ten throughout the year 1799, was extended over years, and this was adopted by a vote throughthe whole surface of Italy, along the banks of out France of 3,012,659 to 1562. The new the Rhine, amid the marshes and canals of Hol- government was inaugurated with great pomp land, and among the lakes and mountains of on the 24th of December, 1799. Bonaparte Switzerland. France, after gigantic efforts, lost made every effort to unite and pacify the peoall Italy, with the exception of Genoa, but re- ple; and with a view to present bimself before tained her borders upon the Rhine and the bar- Europe as governed by a spirit of moderation, riers of the Alps. Russia withdrew from the he instantly dispatched a courier to England contest in the autumn of 1799.

with proposals for negotiating a peace. This The Directory had now become extremely I brings us to the subject of the next speech.



INTRODUCTION. On the 25th of December, 1799, the day after he was inaugurated as First Consul of France, Bonaparte addressed a letter to the King of England, written with his own hand, and coached in the following terms:

“Called by the wishes of the French nation to occupy the first magistracy of the Republic, I think it proper, on entering into office, to make a direct commanication to your Majesty. The war which for eight years has ravaged the four quarters of the world, must it be eternal ? Are there no means of coming to an understanding? How can the two most enlightened nations of Europe, powerful and strong beyond what their safety and independence require, sacrifice to ideas of vain greatness the benefits of commerce, internal prosperity, and the happiness of families? How is it that they do not feel that peace is of the first necessity as well as of the first glory? These sentiments can not be foreign to the heart of your Majesty, who reigns over a free nation, and with the sole view of rendering it happy. Your Majesty will only see in this overture my sincere desire to contribute efficaciously, for the second time, to a general pacification, by a step speedy, entirely of confidence, and disengaged from those forms which, necessary perhaps to disguise the dependence of weak states, prove only in those which are strong the mutual desire of deceiving each other. France and England, by the abuse of their strength, may still for a long time, to the misfortune of all nations, retard the period of their being exhausted. But I will venture to say it, the fate of all civilized nations is attached to the termination of a war which involves the whole world. Of your Majesty, &c.

BONAPARTE." From the feelings expressed by Mr. Pitt in the preceding speech, we should naturally have expected him to embrace this overture with promptitude, if not with eagerness. But the resentment which he justly felt at the evasive and insulting conduct of the Directory during the last negotiation, seems wholly to have changed his views, and he rejected the proposal in terms which were too much suited to awaken a similar resentment in the new French rulers. The reply of Lord Grenville went back to the commencement of the war, declaring it to bave been "an unprovoked attack" on the part of the French. It assumed, that's this system continues to prevail," and that on the part of England "no defense but that of open and steady hostility can be availing." In reference to peace, it pointed to the restoration of the Bourbons, as "the best and most natural pledge of its reality and permanence;" and while the English minister did not "claim to prescribe to France what shall be her form of government,” he did say, as to any ground of confidence in the one recently organized, “Unhappily no such security hitherto exists; no sufficient evidence of the principles by which the new government will be directed; no reasonable ground by which to judge of its stability.The French minister, Talleyrand, replied to these remarks in a pointed note, and Lord Grenville closed the correspondence in a letter reaffirming his former positions.

These communications were laid before the House of Commons, February 30, 1800, when an Address was proposed by Mr. Dundas, approving of the course taken by ministers. He was followed by Mr. Whitbread, Mr. Canning, and Mr. (afterward Lord) Erskine, who complained in strong terms of the uncourtcous language used by Lord Grenville. Mr. Pitt then rose, and without making any defense on this point, or touching directly upon the question, "Why should we not now treat ?" took up the subject on the broadest scale, going back to the origin of the war, the atrocities of the French in overrunning a

large part of Europe during the last ten years, the genius and spirit of the Revolution, the instability of its successive governments, his motives for treating with such men on a former occasion, and the character and leeds of Bonaparte from the commencement of bis career as a military chieftain. This was the most elaborate oration ever delivered by Mr. Pitt. Of the vast variety of facts brought forward or referred to, very few have ever been disputed; they are arranged in luminous order, and grow out of each other in regular succession; they present a vivid and horrible picture of the miseries inflicted upon Europe by revolutionary France, while the provocations of her enemies are thrown entirely into the back. ground.

It will interest the reader to compare this speech with the reply of Mr. Fox, in respect to the standpoint of the speaker. That of Mr. Fox was this, that peace is the natural state of human society, and ought, therefore, to be made, unless there is clear evidence that the securities for its continuance aro inadequate. Mr. Pitt's stand-point was this, that as the war existed, and sprung out of a system of perfidy and violence unparalleled in the history of the world, it ought not to be ended except on strong and direct evidence that there were adequate securities for the continuance of peace if made. The question was whether the new government under Bonaparte offered those securities. Bat Mr. Pitt showed great dexterity in treating this government as merely a new phase of the Revolution, and thus bringing all the atrocities of the past to bear on the question before the House. His speech was admirably adapted to a people like the English, jealous of France as their hereditary rival, conscious of their resources, and prepared to consider a continuation of the contest, as the safest means of defending “their liberties, their laws, and their most holy religion.”

Some of the facts referred to in this speech have been already explained in comection with Mr. Fox's reply on this subject, as given on a preceding page. For the convenience of the reader, however, these explanations will, in a few instances, be given again.

SPEECH, &c. Sir, I am induced, at this period of the de- | would, in any case, be impossible to separate the bate, to offer my sentiments to the House, both present discussion from the former crimes and from an apprehension that at a later hour the at- atrocities of the French Revolution ; because tention of the House must necessarily be exhaust- both the papers now on the table, and the whole ed, and because the sentiment with which the hon- of the learned gentleman's argument, force upon orable and learned gentleman (Mr. Erskine) be- our consideration the origin of the war, and all gan his speech, and with which he has thought the material facts which have occurred during its proper to conclude it, places the question pre- continuance. The learned gentleman (Mr. Ercisely on that ground on which I am most desir- skine] has revived and retailed all those arguous of discussing it. The learned gentleman ments from his own pampbiet, which had before seems to assume as the foundation of his reason- passed through thirty-seven or thirty-eight ediing, and as the great argument for immediate tions in print, and now gives them to the House treaty, that every effort to overturn the system embellished by the graces of his personal delivof the French Revolution must be unavailing; ery. The First Consul has also thought fit to and that it would be not only imprudent, but al. revive and retail the chief arguments used by all most impious to struggle longer against that or the opposition speakers and all the opposition der of things which, on I know not what princi- publishers in this country during the last seven ple of predestination, he appears to consider as years. And (what is still more material) the immortal. Little as I am inclined to accede to question itself

, which is now immediately at issue this opinion, I am not sorry that the honorable -the question whether, under the present cirgentleman has contemplated the subject in this cumstances, there is such a prospect of security serious view. I do, indeed, consider the French from any treaty with France as ought to induce Revolution as the severest trial which the visita- us to negotiate, can not be properly decided upon tion of Providence has ever yet inflicted upon the without retracing, both from our own experience nations of the earth; but I can not help reflecting, and from that of other nations, the nature, the with satisfaction, that this country, even under causes, and the magnitude of the danger against such a trial, has not only been exempted from which we have to guard, in order to judge of the those calamities which have covered almost every security which we ought to accept. other part of Europe, but appears to have been I say, then, that before any man can concur in reserved as a refuge and asylum to those who opinion with that learned gentleman; Three opinions, fled from its persecution, as a barrier to oppose before any man can think that the sub- must be held be its progress, and perhaps ultimately as an instru- stance of his Majesty's answer is any home ment to deliver the world from the crimes and other than the safety of the country gotiation. miseries which have attended it.

required; before any man can be of opinion that, to Under this impression, I trust the House will the overtures made by the enemy, at such a time Reasons for dwell. forgive me, if I endeavor, as far as and under such circumstances, it would have been he war, andiko I am able, to take a large and com- safe to return an answer concurring in the nego

prehensive view of this important tiation-he must come within one of the three fol

question. In doing so, I agree lowing descriptions : He must either believe that with my honorable friend [Mr. Canning) that it Ithe French Revolution neither does now exhibit,

those who are

atrocities of the French Revolu. tion.

nor has at any time exhibited such circumstances | ted that they since have violated all those prinof danger, arising out of the very nature of the ciples; but it is alleged that they have done so system, and the internal state and condition of only in consequence of the provocation of other France, as to leave to foreign powers no ade- powers. One of the first of those provocations quate ground of security in negotiation; or, sec- is stated to have consisted in the various outondly, he must be of opinion that the change rages offered to their ministers, of which the exwhich has recently taken place has given that ample is said to have been set by the King of security which, in the former stages of the Rev. Great Britain in his conduct to M. Chauvelin. olution, was wanting; or, thirdly, he must be in answer to this supposition, it is only necesone who, believing that the danger exists, not un sary to remark, that before the example was dervaluing its extent nor mistaking its nature, given, before Austria and Prussia are supposed nevertheless thinks, from his view of the present to have been thus encouraged to combine in a pressure on the country, from his view of its plan for the partition of France, that plan, if it situation and its prospects, compared with the ever existed at all, had existed and been acted situation and prospects of its enemies, that we upon for above eight months. France and Prusare, with our eyes open, bound to accept of in- sia had been at war eight months before the disadequate security for every thing that is valua- missal of M. Chauvelin. So much for the accu. ble and sacred, rather than endure the pressure, racy of the statement.? or incur the risk which would result from a far- I have been hitherto commenting on the arther prolongation of the contest.?

guments contained in the Notes. I Contradiction In discussing the last of these questions, we

come now to those of the learned gen- as to the origin shall be led to consider what inference is to be tleman. I understand him to say that of the war. drawn from the circumstances and the result of the dismissal of M. Chauvelin was the real cause, our own negotiations in former periods of the I do not say of the general war, but of the rupwar; whether, in the comparative state of this ture between France and England; and the country and France, we now see the same rea- learned gentleman states particularly that this son for repeating our then unsuccessful experi- dismissal rendered all discussion of the points in ments; or whether we have not thence derived dispute impossible. Now I desire to meet disthe lessons of experience, added to the deductions tinctly every part of this assertion. I maintain, of reason, marking the inefficacy and danger of on the contrary, that an opportunity was given the very measures which are quoted to us as for discussing every matter in dispute between precedents for our adoption.

France and Great Britain as fully as if a regular I. Unwilling, sir, as I am to go into much de- and accredited French minister had been resiOrigin of tail on ground which has been so often dent here; that the causes of war, which existed the war.

trodden before; yet, when I find the learn- at the beginning, or arose during the course of ed gentleman, after all the information which he this discussion, were such as would have justified, must have received, if he has read any of the 2 Mr. Erskine here observed that this was not the answers to his work (however ignorant he might statement of his argument. Mr. Pitt replied that he be when he wrote it) still giving the sanction of had not yet come to Mr. Erskine, but was speaking his authority to the supposition that the order to of the statement made by the French government M. Chauvelin (French minister] to depart from in their Note. It can not be, however, that Mr. this kingdom was the cause of the war between Pitt had that Note before bim when he made these this country and France, I do feel it necessary ing words : “ As soon as the French Revolution bad

remarks. The passage referred to is in the follow. to say a few words on that part of the subject.

broken out, almost all Europe entered into a league Inaccuracy in dates seems to be a sort of fa- for its destruction. The aggression was real long Error in the tality common to all who have written time before it was public. Internal resistance was

on that side of the question; for even excited; its opponents were favorably received ;

the writer of the note to his Majesty their extravagant declamations were supported; the is not more correct, in this respect, than if he had French nation was insulted in the person of its taken his information only from the pamphlet of agents; and England set particularly this example the learned gentleman. The House will recol- by the dismissal of the minister accredited to her. lect the first professions of the French Republic, pendence, in her honor, and in her safety, long time

Finally, France was, in fact, attacked in her indewhich are enumerated, and enumerated truly, in before war was declared.”—Parl. Hist., vol. xxxiv., that note. They are tests of every thing which p. 1201. It is obvious that the writer is here giving would best recommend a government to the es- a mere general summation of supposed wrongs, teem and confidence of foreign powers, and the without professing to arrange them in the exact orreverse of every thing which has been the sys- der of time. He does not say, as Mr. Pitt repretem and practice of France now for near ten sents, that “one of the first of those provocations" years. It is there stated that their first princi- was the ill treatment of French ministers, of which ples were love of peace, aversion to conquest, ain." He does not even mention Austria or Prus

"the example was set by the King of Great Britand respect for the independence of other coun- sia, much less does he speak of their being "entries. In the same note it seems, indeed, admit- couraged to combine in a plan for the partition of

· In distributing his opponents into these three France," by " the example" referred to. And yet classes, Mr. Pitt follows his usual course of opening it is only by assuming this that Mr. Pitt makes ont his speech with a striking statement which reaches his argument, and then speers at " the accuracy of forward into the subsequent discussion.

the statement."

note of the French gov. ernmeut.

Ground of M. Chauvelin's dismissal.

twenty times over, a declaration of war on the removing out of this kingdom all foreigners suspart of this country; that all the explanations pected of revolutionary principles. Is it conon the part of France were evidently unsatisfac- tended that he was then less liable to the protory and inadmissible, and that M. Chauvelin had visions of that act than any other individual forgiven in a peremptory ultimatum, declaring that eigner, whose conduct afforded to government if these explanations were not received as sufli- just ground of objection or suspicion ? Did his cient, and if we did not immediately disarm, our conduct and connections here afford no such refusal would be considered as a declaration of ground ? or will it be pretended that the bare war. After this followed that scene which no act of refusing to receive fresh credentials from man can even now speak of without horror, or an infant republie, not then acknowledged by think of without indignation ; that murder and any one power of Europe, and in the very act regicide from which I was sorry to hear the of heaping upon us injuries and insults, was of learned gentleman date the beginning of the le- itself a cause of war? So far from it, that even gal government of France.3

the very nations of Europe, whose wisdom and Having thus given in their ultimatum, they moderation have been repeatedly extolled for

added, as a further demand (while we maintaining neutrality, and preserving friendship were smarting under aceumulated in- with the French Republic, remained for years

juries, for wbich all satisfaction was subsequent to this period without receiving from denied) that we should instantly receive M. it any accredited minister, or doing any one act Chauvelin as their embassador, with new cre- to acknowledge its political existence. dentials, representing them in the character In answer to a representation from the belligwhich they had just derived from the murder erent powers, in December, 1793, A refusal to recof their sovereign. We replied, “he came here Count Bernstorff

, the minister of guize the new as the representative of a sovereign whom you Denmark, officially declared that ground of hostil. have put to a cruel and illegal death; we have “it was well known that the Na. of the French. no satisfaction for the injuries we have received, tional Convention had appointed M. Grouville no security from the danger with which we are minister plenipotentiary at Denmark, but that it threatened. Under these circumstances we will was also well known that he had neither been not receive your new credentials. The former received nor acknowledged in that quality.” credentials you have yourselves recalled by the And as late as February, 1796, when the same sacrifice of your King.”

minister was at length, for the first time, received What, from that moment, was the situation of in his official capacity, Count Bernstorff, in a pubSeat out or M. Chauvelin? He was reduced to the lic note, assigned this reason for that change of the corrette situation of a private individual, and was conduct: “So long as no other than a revoluindividual required to quit the kingdom under the tionary government existed in France, his Majprovisions of the Alien Act, which, for the pur- esty could not acknowledge the minister of that pose of securing domestic tranquillity, had re- government; but now that the French Constitucently invested his Majesty with the power of tion is completely organized, and a regular gov

ernment established in France, his Majesty's ob• Here, again, Mr. Pitt founds his attack upon a ligation ceases in that respect, and M. Grouville mistake. Mr. Erskine, as reported in the Parlia- will therefore be acknowledged in the usual mentary History, did not say " the beginning of le- form.” How far the court of Denmark was gal government,” but “when France cut off her justified in the opinion that a revolutionary govmost unfortunate monarch, and established her first ernment then no longer existed in France, it is republic, she had an embassador at our court."Vol. xxxiv., p. 1289. His language may have been not now necessary to inquire; but whatever may confused or obscure, but it is hardly conceivable that have been the fact in that respect, the principle Mr. Erskine, through any haste or inadvertence, on which they acted is clear and intelligible, and could have been betrayed into the absurdity of say. is a decisive instance in favor of the proposition ing that there never was a legal government in which I have maintained. France until the 21st of January, 1793. Nor does Mr. Pitt appear to have understood Mr. the terms of that ultimatum with which

Is it, then, necessary to examine what were Erskine more correctly when he represents him, a few sentences before, as affirming that the dismiss.

we refused to comply? Acts of hos- of France. al of M. Chauvelin "rendered all discussion of the tility had been openly threatened against our alpoints in dispute impossible.No statement of this lies; a hostility founded upon the assumption of kind appears in the printed specch. He and his a right which would at once supersede the whole friends only maintained that the treatment of this law of nations. The pretended right to open gentleman, after the imprisonment and death of the Scheldt we discussed at the time, not so Louis XVI., was so harsh and irritating as to defeat much on account of its immediate importance all the objects of negotiation. It was a matter of (though it was important both in a maritime and public notoriety that informal communications did commercial view) as on account of the general pass between the two governments; but the agents of France were denied all public and accredited principle on which it was founded. On the character, an indignity (as Mr. Erskine and his 4 When the Austrians and Prussians, who invaded friends maintained) which was tantamount to break- France under the Duke of Brunswick, were driven ing off all friendly intercourse, and which threw back, the French in return attacked the Austrian opon England, in their view, the responsibility of Netherlands, and became masters of the country by the war which followed.

the battle of Jemappe, November 6th, 1792. They


same arbitrary notion they soon afterward dis- | their example, shown what they understood to covered that sacred law of nature which made be freedom; they had sealed their principles by the Rhine and the Alps the legitimate bounda- the deposition of their sovereign; they had apries of France, and assumed the power, which plied them to England by inviting and encourthey have affected to exercise through the whole aging the addresses of those seditious and traitof the Revolution, of superseding, by a new code orous societies, who, from the beginning, favored of their own, all the recognized principles of the their views, and who, encouraged by your forlaw of nations. They were, in fact, actually ad-bearance, were even then publicly avowing vancing toward the republic of Holland, by rapid French doctrines, and anticipating their success strides, after the victory of Jemappe, and they in this country—who were hailing the progress had ordered their generals to pursue the Austri- of those proceedings in France which led to the an troops into any neutral country, thereby ex- murder of its King; they were even then lookplicitly avowing an intention of invading Holland. ing to the day when they should behold a NaThey had already shown their moderation and tional Convention in England formed upon simisell-denial, by incorporating Belgium with the lar principles.? French Republic. These lovers of peace, who And what were the explanations they offered set out with a sworn aversion to conquest, and on these different grounds of offense ? Explanations professions of respect for the independence of As to Holland : they told you the of the French. other nations; who pretend that they departed Scheldt was too insignificant for you to trouble from this system only in consequence of your yourselves about, and therefore it was to be deaggression, themselves

, in time of peace, while cided as they chose, in breach of positive treaty, you were still confessedly neutral, without the which they had themselves guaranteed, and which pretense or shadow of provocation, wrested Sa- we, by our alliance, were bound to support. If, voy from the King of Sardinia, and had proceed- however, after the war was over, Belgium should ed to incorporate it likewise with France. These have consolidated its liberty (a term of which we were their aggressions at this period, and more

such people, and to defend citizens who have sufthan these. They had issued a universal decla- fered, and are now suffering, in the cause of liberration of war against all the thrones of Europe, ty." — Alison, vol. i., p. 592, third edition. and they had, by their conduct, applied it partic- Tbe reader will see (in note 9) M. Chauvelin's ularly and specifically to you. They had passed disclaimer in respect to this decree, of any intention the decree of the 19th of November, 1792, pro- on the part of the French to "favor insurrections or claiming the promise of French succor to all excite disturbance in any neutral or friendly country nations who should manifest a wish to become whatever”—“particularly Holland, so long as that free ;6 they had, by all their language as well as

power adheres to the principles of her neutrality."

Mr. Pitt, of course, had no confidence in the sinceriimmediately forced the passage of the Scheldt (the ty of these declarations. principal river of the country) down to the sea. This ? Within ten days after the decree of November had been closed for nearly one hundred and fifty 19th was passed, an English “Society for Constituyears, out of regard to the rights of Holland (through tional Information" sent delegates to Paris, who prewhich it entered the ocean), under the provisions of sented at the bar of the National Convention an adthe treaty of Westphalia (1648), which established dress congratulating that body on “the glorious trithe international relations of modern Europe. En umph of liberty on the 10th of August,” when the gland, as the protector of Holland, justly complained King was deposed. These delegates take upon of this, chiefly, however, as Mr. Pitt remarks, on ac- them to predict " that, after the example given by count of the general principle avowed by the French France, revolutions will become easy. Reason is of setting aside the provisions of the treaty of West- about to make a rapid progress; and it would not pbalia.

be extraordinary if, in a much less time than can be Savoy had been invaded by the French in Sep- imagined, the French should send addresses of contember, 1792, on the ground that the King of Sar gratulation to a National Convention in England." dinia had united at Mantua with Austria and Spain M. Gregoire, the President of the Convention, rein agreeing to march one hundred thousand troops plied in a high-flown style, praising the English as to the borders of France. See page 531. The peo. having afforded illustrious examples to the universe. ple united to a considerable extent with the French, " The shades of Hampden and Sydney,” said he, and sent deputations from their clubs to Paris. On "bover over your heads; and the moment without the 27th of November, 1792, the National Conven. doubt approaches when the French will bring con. tion erected Savoy into an eighty-fourth department gratulations to the National Convention of Great of France, in direct defiance of the existing Consti- Britain. Generous Republicans ! your appearance tution, wbich interdicted any permanent extension among as prepares a subject for history!" The of the territory.

French were egregiously deceived, no doubt, by 6 This celebrated decree was passed by the Na- these demonstrations of a comparatively small numtional Convention in the tumult of joy which fol. ber of individuals in England, and really expected lowed the victory at Jemappe. They resolved to great results. The English government had cer. adopt in other countries the course taken in Savoy, tainly grounds of serious complaint against the Con. and hence framed this document in the following vention for receiving the deputation in this manner. words:

8 Austria bad endeavored, in 1784, to force the day. “The National Convention declare, in the name igation of the Scheldt, but France had interfered and of the French nation, they will grant fraternity and guaranteed to Holland ber exclusive right to the assistance to all those people who wish to procure lower part of that river. This guarantee England liberty. And they charge the executive power to was bound to maintain by a subsequent alliance send orders to the generals to give assistance to I which she formed with Holland.

« PreviousContinue »