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"If the exclusive navigation of the Scheldt or any other right belonging to the States General, has been invaded, the French Executive Council are the invaders, and of them we must ask redress. If the rights of neutral nations have been attacked by the decree of the 19th of November, the National Convention have attacked them, and from that Convention, through the organ by which they speak to foreign courts and nations, their Minister for foreign affairs, we must demand explanation, disavowal, or such other satisfaction as the case may require. If the manner, in which the same Convention have received and answered some of our countrymen who have addressed them, be thought worthy notice, precisely of the same persons, and in the same manner, must we demand satisfaction upon that head also. If the security of Europe, by any conquests made or apprehended, be endangered to such a degree as to warrant us, on the principles as well of justice as of policy, to enforce by arms a restitution of conquests already made, or a renunciation of such as may have been projected, from the Executive Power of France, in this instance again, must we ask such restitution or such renunciation. How all, or any of these objects could be attained but by negotiation carried on by authorized Ministers, I could not conceive. I knew, indeed, that there were some persons whose notions of dignity were far different from mine, and who, in that point of view, would have preferred a clandestine, to an avowed negotiation; but I confess I thought this mode of proceeding neither honorable nor safe; and, with regard to some of our complaints, wholly impracticable.-Not honorable, because to seek private and circuitous channels of communication seems to suit the conduct, rather of such as sue for a favor, than of a great nation which demands satisfaction. Not safe, because neither a declaration from
an authorised agent, nor a mere gratuitous repeal of the decrees complained of, (and what more could such a negotiation aim at?) would afford us any security against the revival of the claims which we oppose; and lastly, impracticable with respect to that part of the question which regards the security of Europe, because such security could not be provided for by the repeal of a decree, or any thing that might be the result of a private negotiation, but could only be obtained by a formal treaty, to which the existing French government must of necessity be a party; and I know of no means by which it can become a party to such a treaty, or to any treaty at all, but by a Minister publicly authorized, and publicly received. Upon these grounds, and with these views, as a sincere friend to peace, I thought it my duty to suggest, what appeared to me, on every supposition, the most eligible, and, if certain points were to be insisted upon, the only means of preserving that invaluable blessing.
"But I had still a further motive; and if peace could not be preserved, I considered the measure which I recommended as highly useful in another point of view. To declare war is, by the constitution, the prerogative of the King; but to grant or withhold the means of carrying it on is (by the same constitution) the privilege of the people, through their representatives; and upon the people at large, by a law paramount to all Constitutions, the law of Nature and Necessity, must fall the burdens and sufferings, which are the too sure attendants upon that calamity. It seems therefore reasonable, that they, who are to pay and to suffer, should be distinctly informed of the object for which war is made; and I conceived nothing would tend to this information so much as an avowed negotiation, because from the result of such a negotiation, and by no other means, could we, with any degree
of certainty, learn, how far the French were willing to satisfy us in all, or any of these points, which have been publicly held forth as the grounds of complaint against them. If in none of these any satisfactory explanations were given, we should all admit, provided our original grounds of complaint were just, that the war would be so too: -if in some-we should know the specific subjects upon which satisfaction was refused, and have an opportunity of judging whether or not they were a rational ground of dispute:-if in all-and a rupture were nevertheless to take place, we should know that the public pretences were not the real causes of the war.
"In the last case which I have put, I should hope there is too much spirit in the people of Great Britain, to submit to take a part in a proceeding founded on deceit; and in either of the others, whether our cause were weak or strong, we should at all events escape that last of infamies, the suspicion of being a party to the Duke of BRUNSWICK's manifestoes. But this is not all. Having ascertained the precise cause of war, we should learn the true road to peace; and if the cause so ascertained appeared adequate, then we should look for peace through war, by vigorous exertions and liberal supplies: if inadequate, the Constitution would furnish us abundance of means, as well through our representatives, as by our undoubted right to petition King and Parliament, of impressing his Majesty's Ministers with sentiments similar to our own, and of engaging them to compromise, or, if necessary, to relinquish an object in which we did not feel interest sufficient to compensate us for the calamities and hazard of a war.
"To these reasonings it appeared to me that they only could object with consistency, who would go to war with France on account of her internal concerns; and who would consider the re-establishment of the old, or at least
some other form of government, as the fair object of the contest. Such persons might reasonably enough argue, that with those whom they are determined to destroy, it is useless to treat.
"To arguments of this nature, however, I paid little attention; because the eccentric opinion upon which they are founded was expressly disavowed both in the King's speech, and in the Addresses of the two Houses of Parliament; and it was an additional motive with me for making my motion, that, if fairly debated, it might be the occasion of bringing into free discussion that opinion, and of separating more distinctly those who maintained and acted upon it, from others, who from different motives (whatever they might be) were disinclined to my proposal.
"But if the objections of the violent party appeared to me extravagant, those of the more moderate seemed wholly unintelligible. Would they make and continue war till they can force France to a counter-revolution? No; this they disclaim. What then is to be the termination of the war to which they would excite us? I answer confidently, that it can be no other than a negotiation upon the same principles had with the same men as that which I recommend. I say the same principles, because after war peace cannot be obtained but by treaty, and treaty necessarily implies the independency of the contracting parties. I say the same men, because though they may be changed before the happy hour of reconciliation arrives, yet that change, upon the principles above stated, would be merely accidental, and in no wise a necessary preliminary to peace; for I cannot suppose, that they who disclaim making war for a change, would yet think it right to continue it till a change; or, in other words that the blood and treasure of this country should be expended in
a hope that-not our efforts-but time and chance may produce a new government in France, with which it would be more agreeable to our ministers to negotiate than with the present. And it is further to be observed, that the necessity of such a negotiation will not in any degree depend upon the success of our arms, since the reciprocal recognition of the independency of contracting parties is equally necessary to those who exact and to those who offer sacrifices for the purpose of peace. I forbear to put the case of ill success, because to contemplate the situation to which we, and especially our ally, might in such an event be placed, is a task too painful to be undertaken but in a case of the last necessity. Let us suppose, therefore, the skill and gallantry of our soldiers and sailors to be crowned with a series of uninterrupted victories, and those victories to lead us to the legitimate object of a just war, a safe and honourable peace. The terms of such a peace (I am supposing that Great Britain is to dictate. them) may consist in satisfaction, restitution, or even by way of indemnity to us or to others, in cession of territory on the part of France. Now that such satisfaction may be honorable, it must be made by an avowed Minister that such restitution or cession may be safe or honorable, they must be made by an independent power, competent to make them. And thus our very successes and victories will necessarily lead us to that measure of negotiation and recognition which, from the distorted shape in which passion and prejudice represent objects to the mind of man, has by some been considered as an act of humiliation and abasement.
"I have reason to believe there are some who think my motion unexceptionable enough in itself, but ill-timed. The time was not in my choice. I had no opportunity of making it sooner; and with a view to its operation re