Sidor som bilder


specting peace, I could not delay it. To me, who think that public intercourse with France, except during actual war, ought always to subsist, the first occasion that presented itself, after the interruption of that intercourse, seemed of course the proper moment for pressing its renewal. But let us examine the objections upon this head of time in detail. They appeared to me to be principally four :

“ ist. That by sending a Minister to Paris, we should give some countenance to a proceeding most unani. mously and most justly reprobated, in every country of Europe.

“ To this objection I need not, I think, give any other answer, than that it rests upon an opinion, that by sending a Minister we pay some compliment, implying approbation, to the prince or state to whom we send him; an opinion which, for the honor of this country, I must hope to be wholly erroneous. We had a Minister at Vere sailles, when Corsica was bought and enslaved. We had Ministers at the German courts, at the time of the infamous partition of Poland. We have generally a resident Consul, who acts as a Minister to the piratical republic of Algiers; and we have more than once sent embassies to Emperors of Morocco, reeking from the blood through which, by the murder of their nearest relations, they had waded to their thrones. In none of these instances was any sanction given by Great Britain to the transactions

“ Since this was written,” says Mr. Fox in a note, we have learned the sad catastrophe of the proceeding to which I alluded. Those, however, who feel the force of niy argument, will perceive that it is not at all im. paired by this revolting act of cruelty and injustice. Indeed, if I were inclined to see any connexion between the two subjects, I should rather feel additional regret for the rejection of a motion which might have afforded une chince more of preventing an act, concerning which (out of France) I will venture to affirm that there is not throughout Europe one dissentient voice,





by which power had been acquired, or to the manner in which it had been exercised.

“ 2dly. That a recognition might more properly take place at the end, and as the result of a private conversation and in the phrase used upon a former occasion) as the price of peace, than gratuitously at the outset of negotiation.

“ I cannot help suspecting, that they who urge this objection have confounded the present case with the question, formerly so much agitated, of American independence. In this view they appear to me wholly dissimilar-I pray to God, that in all other respects, they may prove equally so. To recognise the Thirteen States was in effect to draw a claim of our own, and it might fairly enough be argued that we were entitled to some price or compensation for such a sacrifice. Even upon that occasion, I was of opinion that a gratuitous and preliminary acknowledgment of their independence was most consonant to the principles of magnanimity and policy ; but in this instance we have no sacrifice to make for we have no claim; and the reasons for which the French must wish an avowed and official intercourse, can be only such as apply equally to the mutual interest of both nations, by affording more effectual means of preventing misunderstandings, and securing peace. “ I would further recommend to those who press

this objection, to consider whether, if recognition be really a sacrifice on our part, the Ministry have not already made that sacrifice by continuing to act upon the commercial treaty as a treaty still in force. Every contract must be at an end when the contracting parties have no longer any existence either in their own persons or by their representatives. After the tenth of August, the political existence of Louis XVI. who was the contracting party


in the treaty of commerce, was completely annihilated. The only question therefore is, whether the Executive Council of France did or did not represent the political power so annihilated ? If we say they did not, the contracting power has no longer any political existence either in his person or by representation ; and the treaty becomes null and void. If we say they did then, we have actually acknowledged them as representatives (for the time at least of what was the Executive Government in France. In this character alone do they claim to be acknowledged, since their very style describes them as a Provisional Executive Council, and nothing else. If we would preserve our treaty, we could not do less : by sending a Minister, we should not do more *.

“ 3dly. That our Ambassador having been recalled, and no British Minister having resided at Paris, while the conduct of the French was inoffensive with respect to us and our ally, it would be mortifying to send one thither, just at the time when they began to give us cause of complaint.

“Mortifying to whom? Not certainly to the House of Commons, who were not a party to the recal of Lord Gower, and who, if my advice were followed, would lose no time in replacing him. To the Ministers possibly t; and if so, it ought to be a warning to the

*“If any argument is satisfactory, I have proved that we have recognised the Executive Council; and it is notorious, that through the medium of Mr. CHAUVELIN we have negotiated with them. But although we had both negotiated and recognised, it would be dishonorable, it seems to negotiate in such a manner as to imply recognition. How nice are the points upon which great businesses turn! How remote from vulgar apprehension !"

“ I do not think it would have been mortifying even to them, because

" in consequence of the discussions which had arisen, a measure which had been before indifferent, might becene expedient; but as this point made no part of my consideration, I have not thought is incumbent upon me to


[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

House, that it should not, by acting like the Ministers, lose the proper, that is, the first opportunity, and thereby throw extrinsic difficulties of its own creation in the

way of a measure in itself wise and salutary.

4thly. That by acting in the manner proposed we might give ground of offence to those powers, with whom, in case of war, it might be prudent to form connexion and alliance.

“ This objection requires examination. Is it meant that our treating with France in its present state will offend the German powers, by shewing them that our ground of quarrel is different from theirs ? If this be so, and if we adhere to the principles which we have publicly stated, I am afraid we must either offend or deceive; and in such an alternative I trust the option is not difficult.

« If it be said, that though our original grounds of quarrel were different, yet we may, in return for the aid they may afford us in obtaining our objects, assist them in theirs of a counter-revolution, and enter into an offensive alliance for that purpose--I answer, that our having previously treated would be no impediment to such a measure. But if it were, I freely confess that this consideration would have no influence with me; because such an alliance, for such a purpose, I conceive to be the greatest calamity that can befal the British nation : for, let us not attempt to deceive ourselves, whatever possibia lity or even probability there may be of a counter-revolution, from internal agitation and discord, the means of producing such an effect by external force can be no other than the conquest of France. The conquest of France !!! O calumniated crusaders, how rational and moderate were your objects !-O much injured Louis XIV. upon what slight grounds have you been accused of restless and




immoderate ambition !-O tame and feeble CERVANTES, with what a timid pencil and faint colors have you painted

a the portrait of a disordered imagination !

“I have now stated to you fully, and I trust fairly, the arguments that persuaded me to the conduct which I have pursued. In these consists my defence, upon which you are to pronounce ; and I hope I shall not be thought pre. sumptuous, when I say, that I expect with confidence a

I favourable verdict.

« If the reasons which I have adduced fail of convincing you, I confess indeed that I shall be disappointed, because to my understanding they appear to have more of irrefragable demonstration than can often be hoped for in political discussions ; but even in this case, if you see in them probability sufficient to induce you to believe that, though not strong enough to convince you, they, and not any sinister or oblique motives, did in fact actuate me, I have still gained my cause ; for in this supposition, though the propriety of my conduct may be doubted, the rectitude of my intentions must be admitted.

Knowing, therefore, the justice and candor of the tribunal to which I have appealed, I wait your decision, without fear-your approbation I anxiously desire, but your acquittal I confidently expect.

“Pitied for my supposed misconduct by some of my friends, openly renounced by others, attacked and misrepresented by my enemies--to you I have recourse for refuge and protection; and conscious that if I had shrunk from my duty, I should have merited your censure, I feel myself equally certain, that by acting in conformity to the motives which I have explained to you, I can in no degree have forfeited the esteem of the City of Westminster, which it has so long been the first pride of my


« FöregåendeFortsätt »