Page images
PDF
EPUB

The advocates of the ministry have, on this those who have advised his Majesty to hire and occasion, affected to speak of the balance of pow. to send elsewhere those troops which should er, the Pragmatic Sanction, and the preservation have been employed for the Queen of Hungary's of the Queen of Hungary, not only as if they assistance. It is not to be imagined, sir, that were to be the chief care of Great Britain, which his Majesty has more or less regard to justice (although easily controvertible) might, in com- as King of Great Britain, than as Elector of pliance with long prejudices, be possibly admit- Hanover; or that he would not have sent his ted; but as if they were to be the care of Great proportion of troops to the Austrian army, had Britain alone. These advocates, sir, have spok- not the temptation of greater profit been laid inen as if the power of France were formidable to dustriously before him. But this is not all that no other people than ourselves; as if no other may be urged against such conduct. For, can part of the world would be injured by becoming we imagine that the power, that the designs of a prey to a universal monarchy, and subject to France, are less formidable to Hanover than the arbitrary government of a French deputy ; Great Britain ? Is it less necessary for the seby being drained of its inhabitants only to extend curity of Hanover than of ourselves, that the the conquests of its masters, and to make other house of Austria should be re-established it its nations equally wretched; and by being oppressed former splendor and influence, and enabled to with exorbitant taxes, levied by military execu- support the liberties of Europe against the enortions, and employed only in supporting the state mous attempts at universal monarchy by France ? of its oppressors. They dwell upon the import- If, therefore, our assistance to the Queen of ance of public faith and the necessity of an exact Hungary be an act of honesty, and granted in observation of treaties, as if the Pragmatic Sanc- consequence of treaties, why may it not be tion had been signed by no other potentate than equally required of Hanover? If it be an act the King of Great Britain ; as if the public saith of generosity, why should this country alone be were to be obligatory upon ourselves alone. obliged to sacrifice her interests for those of oth

That we should inviolably observe our treat- ers? or why should the Elector of Hanover exert ies—observe them although every other nation his liberality at the expense of Great Britain ? should disregard them; that we should show an It is now too apparent, sir, that this great, example of fidelity to mankind, and stand firm this powerful, this mighty nation, is considered in the practice of virtue, though we should stand only as a province to a despicable Electorate ; alone, I readily allow. I am, therefore, far from and that in consequence of a scheme formed advising that we should recede from our stipu- long ago, and invariably pursued, these troops lations, whatever we may suffer in their sulfill- are hired only to drain this unhappy country of ment; or that we should neglect the support of its money. That they have hitherto been of no the Pragmatic Sanction, however we may be at use to Great Britain or to Austria, is evident present embarrassed, or however disadvanta- beyond a doubt; and therefore it is plain that geous may be its assertion.

they are retained only for the purposes of HanoBut surely, sir, for the same reason that we observe our stipulations, we ought to excite other How much reason the transactions of almost powers also to observe their own; at the least, every year have given for suspecting this absir, we ought not to assist in preventing them surd, ungrateful, and perfidious partiality, it is from doing so.

But how is our present conduct not necessary to declare. I doubt not that most agreeable to these principles? The Pragmatic of those who sit in this House can recollect a Sanction was guaranteed, not only by the King great number of instances in point, from the of Great Britain, but by the Elector of Hanover purchase of part of the Swedish dominions, to also, who (if treaties constitute obligation) is the contract which we are now called upon to thereby equally obliged to defend the house of ratify. Few, I think, can have forgotten the Austria against the attacks of any foreign pow- memorable stipulation for the Hessian troops : er, and to send his proportion of troops for the for the forces of the Duke of Wolfenbuttle, which Queen of Hungary's support.

we were scarcely to march beyond the verge Whether these troops have been sent, those of their own country : or the ever memorable whose province obliges them to possess some treaty, the tendency of which is discovered in knowledge of foreign affairs, are better able to the name. A treaty by which we disunited ourinform the House than myself. But, since we selves from Austria; destroyed that building have not heard them mentioned in this debate, which we now endeavor, perhaps in vain, to raise and since we know by experience that none of again; and weakened the only power to which

it . I distresses of the Queen of Hungary have yet re- which have been shown, and the yearly visits ceived no alleviation from her alliance with which have been paid to that delightful country; Hanover; that her complaints have excited no to reckon up all the sums that have been spent to compassion at that court, and that the justice of aggrandize and enrich it, would be an irksome her cause has obtained no attention.

and invidious task-invidious to those who are To what can be attributed this negligence of afraid to be told the truth, and irksome to those treaties, this disregard of justice, this defect of who are unwilling to hear of the dishonor and compassion, but to the pernicious counsels of injuries of their country. I shall not dwell for

ver.

ther on this unpleasing subject than to express Parliament pays no regard but to the interests my hope, that we shall no longer suffer ourselves of Great Britain. to be deceived and oppressed: that we shall at length perform our duty as representatives of The motion was carried by a considerable the people : and, by refusing to ratify this con- majority; but Mr. Pitt's popularity was greatly tract, show, that however the interests of Han- increased throughout the country by his resistover have been preferred by the ministers, the ance of this obnoxious measure.

SPEECH OF LORD CHATHAM ON A MOTION FOR AN ADDRESS OF THANKS AFTER THE BATTLE OF DET. TINGEN, DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, DECEMBER 1, 1743.

INTRODUCTION. The battle of Dettingen was the last in which any English monarch has appeared personally in the field. It was fought near a village of this name in Germany, on the banks of the Mayn, between Mayence and Frankfort, on the 19th of June, 1743. The allied army, consisting of about thirty-seven thousand English and Hanoverian troops, was commanded, at the time of this engagement, by George II. Previous to his taking the command, it had been brought by mismanagement into a perilous condition, being hemmed in between the River Mayn on the one side and a range of precipitous bills on the other, and there reduced to great extremities for want of provisions. The French, who occupied the opposite side of the Mayn in superior force, seized the opportunity, and threw a force of twenty-three thousand men across the river to cat off the advance of the allies through the defile of Dettingen, and shortly after sent twelve thousand more into their rear, to preclude the possibility of retreat. The position of the French in front was impregnable, and, if they had only retained it, the capture of the entire allied army would have been inevitable. But the eagerness of Grammont, who commanded the French in that quarter, drew him off from his vantage ground, and induced him to give battle to the allies on more equal terms. When the engagement commenced, George II., dismounting from his horse, put himself at the head of his infantry, and led bis troops on foot to the charge. “The conduct of the King in this conflict," says Lord Mahon, "deserves the highest praise ; and it was undoubtedly through him and through his son [the Duke of Cumberland), far more than through any of his generals, that the day was won.” The British and Hanoverian infantry vied with each other under such guidance, and swept the French forces before them with an impetuosity which soon decided the battle, and produced a complete rout of the French army. The exhausted condition of the allies, however, and especially their want of provisions, rendered it impossible for them to pursue the French, who left the field with the loss of six thousand men.

The King, on his return to England, opened the session of Parliament in person; and in reply to his speech, an Address of Thanks was moved, “ acknowledging the goodness of Divine Providence to this nation in protecting your Majesty's sacred person amid imminent dangers, in defense of the common cause and liberties of Europe." In opposition to this address, Mr. Pitt made the following speech. In the former part of it, either from erroneous information or prejudice, he seems unwilling to do justice to the King's intrepidity on that occasion. But the main part of the speech is occupied with an examination,

1. Of Sir Robert Walpole's policy (which was that of the King) in respect to the Queen of Hungary and the balance of power.

II. Of the condact of the existing ministry (that of Lord Carteret) in relation to these subjects.
III. Of the manner in which the war in Germany had been carried on; and,
IV. Of the consequences to be anticipated from the character and conduct of the ministry.

The speech will be interesting to those who have sufficient acquaintance with the history of the times to enter fully into the questions discussed. It is characterized by comprehensive views and profound re. flection on the leading question of that day, the balance of power, and by a high sense of national honor. It has a continuous line of argument running throughout it; and shows the error of those who imagine that "Lord Chatham never reasoned.'

SPEECH, &c. From the proposition before the House, sir, ister (Walpole) betrayed the interests of his we may perceive, that whatever alteration has country by his pusillanimity; our present minbeen, or may be produced with respect to for- ister (Carteret) would sacrifice them by his eign measures, by the late change in administra- Quixotism. Our former minister was for negotion, we can expect none with regard to our do- tiating with all the world; our present minister mestic affairs. In foreign measures, indeed, a is for fighting against all the world. Our formost extraordinary change bas taken place. mer minister was for agreeing to every treaty, From one extreme, our administration have run though never so dishonorable; our present min. to the very verge of another. Our former min-1 ister will give ear to none, though never so rea

sonable. Thus, while both appear to be extrav- an insult to the sovereign ? Suppose it should agant, this difference results from their opposite appear that our ministers have shown no regard conduct: that the wild system of the one must to the advice of Parliament; that they have exsubject the nation to a much heavier expendi-erted their endeavors, not for the preservation of ture than was ever incurred by the pusillanimity the house of Austria, but to involve that house of the other.

in dangers which otherwise it might have avoidThe honorable gentleman who spoke last (Mr. ed, and which it is scarcely possible for us now Yorke) was correct in saying, that in the begin to avert. Suppose it should appear that a body ning of the session we could know nothing, in a of Dutch troops, although they marched to the parliamentary way, of the measures that had Rhine, have never joined our army. Suppose it been pursued. I believe, sir, we shall know as should appear that the treaty with Sardinia is little, in that way, at the end of the session ; for not yet ratified by all the parties concerned, or our new minister, in this, as in every other step that it is one with whose terms it is impossible of his domestic conduct, will follow the example they should comply. If these things should apof his predecessor, and put a negative upon ev- pear on inquiry, would not the address proposed ery motion which may tend toward our acquir- be most ridiculously absurd ? Now, what asing any parliamentary knowledge of our late surance have we that all these facts will not turn proceedings. But if we possess no knowledge out as I have imagined ? of these proceedings, it is, surely, as strong an I. Upon the death of the late Emperor of Gerargument for our not approving, as it can be for many, it was the interest of this nation, I Walpole's our not condemning them. Sir, were nothing grant, that the Queen of Hungary should policj. relating to our late measures proposed to be in- be established in her father's dominions, and that serted in our address upon this occasion, those her husband, the Duke of Lorraine, should be measures would not have been noticed by me. chosen Emperor. This was our interest, beBut when an approbation is proposed, I am com- cause it would have been the best security for pelled to employ the knowledge I possess, wheth- the preservation of the balance of power; but er parliamentary or otherwise, in order that I we had no other interest, and it was one which may join or not in the vote of approbation. We had in common with all the powers of EuWhat though my knowledge of our late meas. rope, excepting France. We were not, thereures were derived from foreign and domestic fore, to take upon us the sole support of this innewspapers alone, even of that knowledge I terest. And, therefore, when the King of Prusmust avail mysell, when obliged to express my sia attacked Silesia—when the King of Spain, opinion; and when from that knowledge I ap- the King of Poland, and the Duke of Bavaria prehend them to be wrong, it is my duty, surely, laid claim to the late Emperor's succession, we to withhold my approbation. I am bound to per- might have seen that the establishment of the sist in thus withholding it, till the minister be Queen of Hungary in all her father's dominions pleased to furnish me with such parliamentary was impracticable, especially as the Dutch reknowledge as may convince me that I have been fused to interfere, excepting by good offices. misinformed. This would be my proper line of What, then, ought we to have done? Since we conduct when, from the knowledge I possess, could not preserve the whole, is it not evident instead of approving any late measures, I think that, in order to bring over some of the claimit more reasonable to condemn them. But sup- ants to our side, we ought to have advised her posing, sir, from the knowledge within my reach, to yield up part? Upon this we ought to have that I consider those measures to be sound, even insisted, and the claimant whom first we should then I ought not to approve, unless such knowl- have considered was the King of Prussia, both edge can warrant approval. Now, as no sort because he was one of the most neutral, and one of knowledge but a parliamentary knowledge of the most powerful allies with whom we could can authorize a parliamentary approbation, for treat. For this reason it was certainly incumthis reason alone I ought to resuse it. If, there- bent upon us to advise the Queen of Hungary to sore, that which is now proposed contain any accept the terms offered by the King of Prussia sort of approbation, my resusing to agree to it when he first invaded Silesia. Nay, not only contains no censure, but is a simple declaration should we have advised, we should have insisted that we possess not such knowledge of past upon this as the condition upon which we would measures as affords sufficient grounds for a par- assist her against the claims of others. To this liamentary approbation. A parliamentary ap- the court of Vienna must have assented; and, in probation, sir, extends not only to all that our this case, whatever protestations the other claimministers have advised, but to the acknowledg- ants might have made, I am persuaded that the ment of the truth of several facts which inquiry Queen of Hungary would to this day have remay show to be false; of facts which, at least, have been asserted without authority and proof.

1 This, it is now known. was the course urged by Suppose, sir, it should appear that his Majesty advised her to give up Silesia rather than involve

Walpole on the Queen of Hungary. He strongly was exposed to few or no dangers abroad, but Europe in a general war. She replied that she those to which he is daily liable at home, such "would sooner give up her under petticoat;" and, as the overturning of his coach, or the stumbling as this put an end to the argument, he could do nothof his horse, would not the address proposed, in- ing but give the aid which England bad promised stead of being a compliment, be an affront and/ -See Coxe's Walpole iii., 148.

mained the undisturbed possessor of the rest of pose an equal resistance to the Queen of Hunher father's dominions, and that her husband, the gary alone, much less so to that Queen when Duke of Lorraine, would have been now seated supported by Hanover and the whole power of on the imperial throne.

Great Britain. During this posture of affairs, it This salutary. measure was not pursued. This was safe for us, I say, it was safe for Hanover, appears, sir, not only from the Gazettes, but from to promise assistance and to concert schemes in our parliamentary knowledge. For, from the support of the Queen of Hungary. But no soonpapers which have been either accidentally or er did France come forward than our schemes necessarily laid before Parliament, it appears, were at an end, our promises forgotten. The that instead of insisting that the court of Vienna safety of Hanover was then involved; and Enshould agree to the terms offered by Prussia, we gland, it seems, is not to be bound by promises, rather encouraged the obstinacy of that court in nor engaged in schemes, which, by possibility, rejecting them. We did this, sir, not by our may endanger or distress the Electorale! From memorials alone, but by his Majesty's speech to this time, sir, we thought no more of assisting his Parliament, by the consequent addresses of the Queen of Hungary, excepting by grants both houses, and by speeches directed by our which were made by Parliament. These, incourtiers against the King of Prussia. I allude, deed, our ministers did not oppose, because they sir, to his Majesty's speech on the 8th of April, contrive to make a job of every parliamentary 1741, to the celebrated addresses on that occa- grant. But from the miserable inactivity in sion for guaranteeing the dominions of Hanover, which we allowed the Danish and Hessian troops and for granting £300,000 to enable his Maj- to remain, notwithstanding that they received esty to support the Queen of Hungary. The our pay; and from the insult tamely submitted speeches made on that occasion by several of our to by our squadron in the Mediterranean, we favorites at court, and their reflections on the must conclude that our ministers, from the time King of Prussia, must be fresh in the memory of the French interfered, resolved not to assist the all. All must remember, too, that the Queen of Queen of Hungary by land or sea. Thus, bav. Hungary was not then, nor for some months aft- ing drawn that princess forward on the ice by er, attacked by any one prince in Europe ex- our promises, we left her to retreat as she could. cepting the King of Prussia. She must, there. Thus it was, sir, that the Duke of Bavaria before, have supposed that both the court and na- came Emperor. Thus it was that the house tion of Great Britain were resolved to support of Austria was stripped of great part of its doher, not only against the King of Prussia, but minions, and was in the utmost danger of being against all the world. We can not, therefore, stripped of all, had France been bent on its debe surprised that the court of Vienna evinced an struction. Sir, the house of Austria was saved unwillingness to part with so plenteous a coun- by the policy of France, who wished to reduce, try as that claimed by the King of Prussia—the but not absolutely to destroy it. Had Austria lordship of Silesia.

been ruined, the power of the Duke of Bavaria, But, sir, this was not all. Not only had we who had been elected Emperor, would have rispromised our assistance to the Queen of Hun- en higher than was consistent with the interests gary, but we had actually commenced a negoti- of France. It was the object of France to foation for a powerful alliance against the King of ment divisions among the princes of Germany, Prussia, and for dividing his dominions among to reduce them by mutual strife, and then to renthe allies. We had solicited, not only the Queen der the houses of Bavaria, Austria, and Saxony of Hungary, but also the Muscovites and the nearly equal by partitions. Dutch, to form parts of this alliance. We had It was this policy which restrained the French taken both Danes and Hessians into our pay, in from sending so powerful an army into Germany support of this alliance. Nay, even Hanover as they might otherwise have sent. And then, had subjected herself to heavy expenses on this through the bad conduct of their generals, and occasion, by adding a force of nearly one third through the skill and bravery of the officers and to the army she had already on foot. This, sir, troops of the Queen of Hungary, a great improvewas, I believe, the first extraordinary expense ment in her affairs was effected. This occurred which Hanover had incurred since her fortunate about the time of the late changes in our admin. conjunction with England; the first, I say, not- istration ; and this leads me to consider the oriwithstanding the great acquisitions she has made, gin of those measures which are now proceedand the many heavy expenses in which England ing, and the situation of Europe at that particu. has been involved upon her sole account. lar time, February, 1742. But, before I enter

If, therefore, the Queen of Hungary was ob- upon that consideration, I must lay this down as stinate in regard to the claims of Prussia, her a maxim to be ever observed by this nation, that, obstinacy must be ascribed to ourselves. To us although it be our own interest to preserve a must be imputed those misfortunes which she balance of power in Europe, yet, as we are the subsequently experienced. It was easy to prom. most remote from danger, we have the least reaise her our assistance while the French seemed son to be jealous as to the adjustment of that baldetermined not to interfere with Germany. It ance, and should be the last to take alarm on its was safe to engage in schemes for her support, and for the enlargement of the Hanoverian do- 2 The Duke of Bavaria was elected Emperor on minions, because Prussia could certainly not op- the 12th of Februa

G

1742,

account. Now the balance of power may be the ambition of France. For France, although supported, either by the existence of one single she had assisted in depressing the house of Auspotentate capable of opposing and defeating the tria, had shown no design of increasing her own ambitious designs of France, or by a well-con- dominions. On the other hand, the haughty denected confederacy adequate to the same intent. meanor of the court of Vienna, and the height to Of these two methods, the first, when practica- which that house had been raised, excited a spirit ble, is the most eligible, because on that method of disgust and jealousy in the princes of Gerwe may most safely rely; but when it can not many. That spirit first manifested itself in the be resorted to, the whole address of our ministers house of Hanover, and at this very time prevailed and plenipotentiaries should tend to establish the not only there, but in most of the German sovsecond.

ereignties. Under such circumstances, however The wisdom of the maxim, sir, to which I weak and erroneous our ministers might be, they have adverted, must be acknowledged by all who could not possibly think of restoring the house of consider, that when the powers upon the Conti- Austria to its former splendor and power. They nent apply to us to join them in a war against could not possibly oppose that single house as a France, we may take what share in the war we rival to France. No power in Europe would think fit. When we, on the contrary, apply to have cordially assisted them in that scheme them, they will prescribe to us. However some They would have had to cope, not only with gentlemen may affect to alarm themselves or France and Spain, but with all the princes of others by alleging the dependency of all the Eu- Germany and Italy, to whom Austria had beropean powers upon France, of this we may rest come obnoxious. assured, that when those powers are really threat- In these circumstances, what was this nation ened with such dependency, they will unite among to do? It was impossible to establish the balance themselves, and call upon us also to prevent it. of power in Europe upon the single power of the Nay, sir, should even that dependence imper- house of Austria. Surely, then, sir, it was our ceptibly ensue; so soon as they perceived it, business to think of restoring the peace of Gerthey would unite among themselves, and call us many as soon as possible by our good offices, in to join the confederacy by which it might be order to establish a confederacy sufficient to opshaken off. Thus we can never be reduced to pose France, should she afterward discover any stand single in support of the balance of power; ambitious intentions. It was now not so much nor can we be compelled to call upon our con- our business to prevent the lessening the power tinental neighbors for such purpose, unless when of the house of Austria, as it was to bring about our ministers have an interest in pretending and a speedy reconciliation between the princes of asserting imaginary dangers.

Germany; to take care that France should get The posture of Europe since the time of the as little by the treaty of peace as she said she Romans is wonderfully changed. In those times expected by the war. This, I say, should have each couotry was divided into many sovereign- been our chief concern; because the preserva. ties. It was then impossible for the people of tion of the balance of power was now no longer any one country to unite among themselves, and to depend upon the house of Austria, but upon much more impossible for two or three large the joint power of a confederacy then to be countries to combine in a general confederacy formed; and till the princes of Germany were against the enormous power of Rome. But such reconciled among themselves, there was scarceconfederacy is very practicable now, and may ly a possibility of forming such a confederacy. always be effected whenever France, or any one If we had made this our scheme, the Dutch of the powers of Europe, shall endeavor to en- would have joined heartily in it. The Germanslave the rest. I have said, sir, that the balance ic body would have joined in it; and the peace of power in Europe may be maintained as se- of Germany might have been restored without curely by a confederacy as it can be by opposing putting this nation to any expense, or diverting any one rival power to the power of France. us from the prosecution of our just and necesNow, let us examine to which of these two sary war against Spain, in case our differences methods we ought to have resorted in February, with that nation could not have been adjusted 1742. The imperial diadem was then fallen by the treaty for restoring the peace of Gerfrom the house of Austria ; and although the many. troops of the Queen of Hungary had met with II. But our new minister, as I have said, ran some success during the winter, that sovereign into an extreme quite opposite to that of Carteret's was still stripped of great part of the Austrian the old. Our former minister thought pohcy. dominions. The power of that house was there of nothing but negotiating when he ought to fore greatly inferior to what it was at the time have thought of nothing but war; the present of the late emperor's death; and still more in- minister has thought of nothing but war, or at ferior to what it had been in 1716, when we least its resemblance, when he ought to have considered it necessary to add Naples and Sar- thought of nothing but negotiation. dinia to its former acquisitions, in order to ren- A resolution was taken, and preparations were der it a match for France. Besides this, there made, for sending a body of troops to Flanders, existed in 1742 a very powerful confederacy even before we had any hopes of the King of against the house of Austria, while no jealousy Prussia's deserting his alliance with France, was harbored by the powers of Europe against and without our being called on to do so by any

« PreviousContinue »