The Chanc. of the Excheq.
moved the order of the day for taking into consideration the Papers relative to the Discussion with Spain, and also that the three additional papers, presented on the 2d, 4th, and 6th of February, be at the same time taken into consideration. Copies of the said papers will be found in pp. 6l, 171, 229, and 291 of this volume. On the question being put, and agreed to,
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
rose, and spoke as follows.—I feel great satitfaction, sir, that the day is at length arrived when we can enter into that full and ample discussion of the papers before the house, which the magnitude of the subject requires, and though I am satisfied that a perusal of these papers, and an impartial consideration of the transactions to which they refer, would be sufficient to convince every rational mind of the rectitude of the measures pursued by his maj.'s. govt. and of the justice of the war in which we are engaged; yet, reflecting how much the complete illustration of the policy by which we have been guided, and the vindication of the steps which have been adopted, are necessary to the credit of his maj.'s govt. and to the honour of the British nation, I trust I shall be excused if I go somewhat at length into a review of the different aspects of our relations, and the progress of the discussions with Spain previous to the war. In the course of what I shall have the honour to submit to the house, I hope that I shall be able, not only to establish that which, I believe, indeed few can be now disposed to question, the ultimate justice and necessity of the war, but also, the exemplary moderation, liberality, and forbearance of the ministers of this country in every period of our relations with Spain since the breaking out of the war with France; and when unexpected circumstances required the departure from the system of lenity which it was always the desire of the Brit. govt. to exercise, that though they were not deficient in vigour to vindicate the rights, and to avenge the cause of the country, they never deviated from the laws of nations or the principles of good faith.—In the first place then, it it is necessary to take into consideration the relative situation in which Spain stood towards this country at the breaking out of the war, in consequence of her antecedent engagements with France. I need hardly say more to characterise that situation, than barely mention the treaty of St. Ildefonso, and the stipulations it contained. Spain was bound to France by a treaty on the face of it both offensive and defensive, and, in fact, a treaty which was by the contracting parties so entitled. Besides guaranteeing neutrality, their territories, &c. they agree to assist each other with 15 ships of the line, and 24,000 men: and this assistance, too, as appears from the 8th art. is to be given upon the 367 demand of the requiring party, and the demand is to be taken as conclusive evidence of the necessity, precluding the party required from making, any investigation or inquiry, as to the justice of the war, or the policy of the object for which the succours were to be granted. Nay, by the 11th art. of this treaty, the contracting parties are to-assist each other with their whole forces in case the stipulated succours should be insufficient. This treaty it is most important to keep in view, as the foundation of all the proceedings which it was thought incumbent on this govt. to adopt. The Spanish ambassador in this country, in several of the notes before the house, it will be seen, endeavours to set up his own, as appears too, in the first instance, unauthorized reasonings, to shew that this treaty was not offensive. To such reasonings I oppose the treaty itself, which expressly puts at the disposal of France the whole power and resources of the Spanish monarchy by sea and land, which strips Spain of the right to ask a question or exercise any judgment as to the purpose of the succours she is to furnish. Such a treaty, unless distinctly disclaimed, I contend must ipso facto have rendered Spain a principal in the war. On the face of it such is the treaty of St. Ildefonso; and if any thing were wanting to explain its tendency, it would be the example of what happened in the year 1796, in which the offensive provisions were specifically directed against England. Indeed, who that recollects the circumstances in which the treaty was concluded, and when Spain was compelled to subscribe and ratify that record of her vassalage to France, could doubt the spirit of the contract, or its hostility to the British nation? Such was the situation in which his maj.'s ministers found themselves when the aggressions and injustice of the present ruler of France forced them into the present rupture. This was the situation of the relations between both countries when his maj.'s ministers, actuated by sentiments which I cannot but applaud, resolved to delay their determination with respect to the light in which they should regard Spain, till they should see in what manner, and to what extent, Spain would be disposed to carry its observance of the terms of the treaty. In whatever light the treaty should be viewed, it could not be considered on the part of Spain, but as a reluctant tribute to the overbearing dictates of its ambitious and tyrannic, ally; yet, 368 whilst stipulations so directly hostile of the interests and security of this country remained in force, no man, I am confident in this house, will deny, that it could only be attributed to extreme pusillanimity on the part of his maj.'s govt. if they had not required the clear, distinct, and explicit renunciation of the offensive articles; but the feelings to which I have alluded, for the degraded and humiliating situation of that country, and which so justly influenced his maj.'s, ministers on the occasion, dictated a spirit of moderation and forbearance in the measures they adopted with respect to a court, of which, though an enemy, I am not disposed to speak with severity, at the same time that I cannot but admit that in its present state it seems to possess very little of that honourable, spirit, and those high-minded sentiments, by which the Spanish nation has been so long characterised. On this ground, I am convinced that the tenderness, moderation, and forbearance shewn by his maj.'s ministers, from the impulse of such generous sentiments, not upon any principles of true or sound policy, for the degrading situation to which necessity, not choice, had reduced Spain, will meet with the decided approbation of the house. I state this particularly, because it was, in the first instance, deemed expedient to gain time, and the Spanish court seemed as desirous to get rid of their engagements as we were to detach them from their ally. But, considering the situation in which Spain was placed, considering the situation and circumstances of Europe, considering also that the intemperate and precipitate conduct of the French ruler might compel Spain to take an active part with him in the war, the same sentiment to spare, the same generous feeling for its degraded-situation, could no longer be suffered to influence his maj.'s govt. to a perseverance in the system of moderation upon which they had hitherto acted. To act longer upon such a system, under such discouraging circumstances, would not be to give way to the influence of generous sentiments, or honourable feelings, but to enable Spain, under the dictation of France, to accumulate resources, and armies, and fleets, and arsenals, to be at the disposal of France: and for what purpose? France might at once demand the contingent of 15 sail of the line and 24,000 men; she could moreover demand, that Spain should put into activity the whole force that she 369 could command. At any moment it was in the power of France to call for the whole, cither of the treasure of Spain or of the blood of her subjects, unless the contingent succours should be deemed sufficient; and for what purpose? the purpose of aiding the French in the war against this country; for a purpose announced at the very outset of the war, continued through every stage of its progress, and never once suspended, but in practice, for the purpose of destroying the power and independence of this country; for the purpose of overthrowing this noble barrier against the encroachments of French ambition on the liberties and independence of mankind. The duties of the ministers of this country were, by all these circumstances, rendered extremely delicate and difficult. Standing at the head of the affairs of a nation like this, to be at once moderate and forbearing towards Spain, and wise and provident to G. Britain; to feel and to vindicate the justice of their cause, yet to mitigate the rigour of justice as far as true policy and the safety of the state would bear, was indeed a trying situation, and required the utmost prudence; particularly when they were sensible that Spain might be pushed on to war with us, though ruin might be the consequence to her, provided her cooperation could in any manner facilitate the projects of the ruler of France for. our destruction.—Having stated these general principles as applicable to the state of our relations with Spain, it remains to consider how they have been followed up. Gentlemen will see in the papers on the table the instructions by lord Hawkesbury to our minister at Madrid, so far back as Oct. 1802, instructions which I am confident all must approve. They will there see that the first object of our policy was, if possible, to detach Spain from her degrading connection with France, and if that was impracticable, at least to endeavour, that in case of any future war, either a system of neutrality should be settled, or at least that hostilities with her might be deferred as long as possible. It cannot be questioned that these principles were acted upon by our minister, and that every effort was made to prepare the minds of the Spanish govt. for these alternatives. In June 1803, instructions were given to. Mr. Frere to demand from the Spanish govt. a renunciation of the treaty of St. Ildefonso, nor will any man, I believe, dispute that the instructions to which I allude, as to the points to 370 be insisted on, are fully justified by the laws of nations.—It is needless for me to dwell upon the question, how far the limited succours in the treaty of St. Ildefonso would have been consistent with the neturality of Spain, as that makes he part of the case. I must say, however, that it never was admitted that we were bound to acquiesce in those succours being given; so that all argument founded upon the commutation of assistance in kind into pecuniary aid are inapplicable, because, if we did not admit the one, we were certainly no way bound to acquiesce in the other. The conduct which a nation is bound to follow in the case of limited succour furnished in pursuance of a defensive treaty must depend upon the extent of the assistance, and that extent must be taken in proportion to the whole strength and resources of the nation furnishing. Much will depend, too, upon whether the treaty is recent or ancient, whether it is general in its provisions, or concluded with direct reference to hostilities with a particular state. His maj.'s govt. at the time, wisely gave no opinion upon the question of limited succour in kind to be furnished by Spain to France, because that case did not occur. They did what was necessary for the protection of our interests, had it taken place, and the Spanish govt. were apprized that our forces would attack their auxiliary fleet* and prevent their junction with the enemy: That to do so would have been consistent with the clearest principles of the law of nations, and of self-defence, cannot admit of a dispute. But while the moderation of this country was unwilling to drive Spain into war, it was unquestionably necessary to Obtain some pledge that the treaty of lldefonso should not be acted upon. If they did hot make it a specific ground of war, they were v entitled to insist that its hostile principle should be abandoned. In the dispatches of Mr. Frere. will be found the answer which he received to the applications be had made upon this subject, and in which he stated, that unless satisfactory explanations and assurances were given, the treaty of Ildefonso could not but be regarded as hostile. It was not till Aug. that these dispatches reached this country. The answer of the prince of peace was vague and inconclusive, but still it evinced a disposition to delay, and, it possible, to elude compliance with the demands of France Much ill humour existed in the court of Madrid against the latter, and an inclina- 371 tion to resist her domination seemed to prevail; while every disposition was manifested to give satisfaction to the just representations of this govt. Things remained in this state till Sept. nor was it known here, at least, up to that time, that France had made a formal demand of the stipulated succours. At that period a note was presented by M. d'Anduaga, the Spanish minister here, in which he endeavours to prove that the treaty of St. Ildefonso contained nothing hostile to this country. And here I cannot but remark upon a whimsical circumstance in those reasonings of the Spanish ambassador. He endeavours to shew that the treaty in question was, in reality, two treaties, the one defensive, the other offensive, but applicable only to the case in which both France and Spain should, by common consent, enter into war against any other country. It so happens, however, that the first part of the treaty, which M. d'Anduaga contends to be defensive, is precisely that which contains the offensive provisions, and that part which he describes as offensive is that which is defensive. For, under the first part is included the stipulation that Spain, in case the limited succours shall be insufficient, shall put her whole forces at the disposal of France; words which M. d'Anduaga argues do not mean that Spain shall join France with all her power, though words more synonymous I do not think it would be possible to select. This, however, by the way; and now to pursue the course of the negotiation. In Sept. a dispatch was received from Mr. Frere, dated in Aug. in which he announces that France had made a formal demand of the stipulated succours. Mr. Frere was then informed by the prince of peace, that to preserve the neutrality of Spain they were willing to make a pecuniary sacrifice. The demands of France were urgent; and Mr. Frere writes, that a sum of not less than 250,000l. ft month, or 3,000,000l. a year, were the terms, and though Spain had pleaded for a decrease, it appears to have been the sum settled, and indeed rather with increase than diminution. This event, in which the influence of France over Spain was so manifest, must have led ministers to conclude, that the hopes of the neutrality of Spain would prove visionary. Mr. Frere, in dispatches, dated 12th Sept. mentions, that the Spanish govt. in answer to his remonstrances on this subject, had stated, that it was better for this country that they should 372 make pecuniary sacrifice to preserve their neutrality (though it appeared, from every account, that this pecuniary commutation was no less than 3,000,000l.) than that they should have supplied the stipulated succours in kind, and a nominal declaration of war which must have ensued. This mode of reasoning is undoubtedly absurd and ridiculous, for how could the Spanish govt. have expected that this country would have considered the declaration merely nominal, and have abstained from active hostility? But I mention this, not on this account, but to show that the Spanish govt. themselves, far from thinking even the limited succour consistent with neutrality, considered that at least a nominal declaration of war must be the inevitable consequence of supplying them. In a subsequent dispatch from Mr. Frere, dated 20th Sept. he mentions, that he had heard that the subsidy demanded by France was 700,000l. a year, and that this was considered too much by Spain, which of fered 600,000l. If then the Spanish govt. considered 700,000l. as excessive, is it not clear, by their own confession, that 3 millions, was infinitely more than this country was bound to consider compatible with any principle of neutrality?—Nothing farther of importance took place in the discussion except a note, respecting the passage of French seamen to Ferrol to reinforce the crews of the fleet there, a subject on which I forbear at present to comment. On the 9th Oct. Mr. Frere writes, that the negotiation with France was concluded. Mr. Frere, however, was unable to procure any official communication of the arrangement with France, though from every in formation he could procure it amounted to 3 millions sterling a year. What we know of that convention, however, is sufficient to stamp the conduct of Spain as hostile; and the refusal of a communication of its terms, up to the very date of the rupture, was of itself sufficient to justify war. What we know, then, is itself a distinct and specific ground of war, unless it be contended, as I cannot suppose it will be in this house, that a war subsidy of 3 millions is not an infringement of neutrality, and does not render Spain a principal in the war. The Spanish govt. indeed, all along contended, that the subsidy, the extent of which they refused to communicate, was Only an equivalent for the succours stipulated; but we are not told, whether it was to be considered an equivalent for the limited, or far the 373 unlimited succours. If to the latter, nothing can be more absurd; and, if as to the former, on what principles of calculation is the equivalent estimated? Under the name of an equivalent any sum might have been paid. In different nations different estimates of that equivalent would be formed. In this country, owing to circumstances connected with our prosperity, though sometimes burdensome in their operation, the pecuniary equivalent for military aid would be higher than in any other country probably in the world. What then might be the rated equivalent in England for 15 sail of the line and 24,000 land forces? At the highest estimate the pay and charges for 15 sail of the line for a twelvemonth would not exceed one million, leaving two for the land forces. This would be allowing between 80l. or 90l. for every man. It is well known that this is infinitely beyond the allowance necessary in any service or in any treaty. Of what is allowed as pecuniary commutation for service in kind, we may take an instance from the treaty between this country and Holland in the year 1783, in which it is stipulated that between 8l. or 9l. shall be paid for each man in the infantry, and 11l. and 12l. for each man in the cavalry. By this calculation of equivalent however, Spain pays between 80l. and 90l. for each man, an allowance extravagant and unreasonable in the extreme. Can it be doubted, then, that a pecuniary subsidy, to the annual amount of 3 millions made Spain a principal in the war, and could never be considered as a fair equivalent for any moderate extent of military assistance? If this be the general principle, as it most unquestionably is, why did this govt. forbear to make it. a ground of war? I have already touched upon the reasons. They believed that Spain rather submitted to adverse circumstances, than acted from choice. They believed that she looked to circumstances that might enable her to escape from the thraldom in which she was kept, and to pursue a course more suited to her interests and to her dignity. There were, indeed, circumstances in the state of Europe known to those at the head of affairs here, circumstances on which I cannot at present enlarge, which seemed to justify the hopes which Spain was naturally supposed to entertain, and which sufficiently account for the forbearance manifested by this govt. It appearing, however, that nothing had actually been signed between France and Spain, instructions were, 374 on the 24th Nov. sent to Mr. Frere, in which he is authorised to declare to the Spanish govt. that the acquiescence of his maj. in the payment of a war subsidy to France could be no more than a temporary connivance; that it must depend upon the amount of that subsidy, and the disposition of Spain in other respects to maintain a strict neutrality. Mr. Frere is instructed also to protest against the measure as hostile; and that forbearance of actual war could only be continued on the expectation that the subsidy was to be temporary; and the most express reservation of our right to go war is made. The Spanish govt. received distinct notice that, should his maj. be induced to connive in the payment of a subsidy as a temporary measure, lie would naturally look with the utmost jealousy to any naval preparations in the ports of Spain, A dispatch was received from Mr. Frere on the 27th Dec. announcing that the convention between France and Spain was finally concluded on the 19th Oct. In this dispatch Mr. F. in. forms, this govt. that he had represented the convention to M. Cevallos as a war subsidy, which had given this country an undoubted right to go to war. On this occasion M. Cevallos argues that the limited succours had not been objected to, and adds that we ought not to complain of the pecuniary subsidy, because we did not know what it was. This reasoning of M. Cevallos is worthy of remark. When we urged a communication of the convention, we were told it was unnecessary, because as it was an equivalent for the succours stipulated, we must know what it was; but when we complain of this payment to France as a war subsidy, we are answered, "no, you have no reason of complaint, because you do not know what we pay." Thus, because the. Spanish govt. wrongfully refuses the communication of a treaty, in which we are directly interested, we are to have no redress, nor must we be displeased when a subsidy is paid ten times the amount of any stipulated succours in kind, had the furnishing of these been admitted, as they were not, to be sistent with neutrality. The first period of the negotiation begins with the discussions respecting the treaty of Ildefonso; the second with those respecting the con-convention of subsidy; the third era of the negotiation, commences with the instructions sent by lord Hawkesbury to Mr. Frere after that convention was known to be concluded. Lord Hawkesbury in his 375 letter of the 21st Jan. 1804, says distinctly, that the convention of the 19th Oct. was a sufficient cause of war, but that, from views of forbearance and of policy, his maj. was unwilling, yet, to act upon the right which that measure conferred, if satisfactory explanations can be obtained. Mr. Frere, therefore, was instructed to require explanations respecting the other stipulations of the convention of the 19th Oct. and, secondly, to obtain satisfaction as to naval preparations. The forbearance of ministers, therefore, is not founded either upon blindness to the danger which the future hostility of Spain, under the guidance of France, might produce, but upon motives of policy adopting due precaution against that event. Their forbearance was conditional, and it required, as a sine qua non, that no naval preparations should be undertaken in the Spanish ports. Without this condition the generosity and the lenity of govt. would have been criminal had there been any danger that Spain, besides contributing a pecuniary subsidy, would have made any preparations for cooperating with France whenever the moment arrived when her military aid would have been useful. When Mr. Frere received these instructions, he was engaged in a discussion respecting the sale of prizes, on which at a later period satisfaction was obtained, and also respecting armaments at Ferrol. As to these, he received assurances that no hostile armaments were going on in that port. Agreeably to his instructions, Mr. Frere proceeded to demand a communication of the convention of the 19th Oct. Now, for the first time however, the Spanish govt. began, in their turn, to demand an explanation of the intentions of G. Brit. Mr. Frere insisted, that a commuication of the convention must be made preliminary to any agreement for the neutrality of Spain. On this the prince of peace referred him to M. Cevallos, and nothing was obtained but vague assurances that the treaty contained nothing hostile to the interests of this country. The reason, however, assigned for the refusal to communicate the treaty is peculiarly deserving of attention. It is expressly said that it had been proposed to communicate it, but "general Bournonville had over ruled it;" Here is evidence incontestible of the controul exercised by the French over the Spanish govt. evidence furnished inadvertently by the latter themselves. The court of Spain admit that the demand made by 376 us was just; and they excuse themselves for non-compliance by ah apology, of itself highly alarming, and affording the best criterion how precarious must be the reliance on the neutrality of Spain while the ascendancy of France continued. That we had a right to the communication of a treaty in which we were so nearly interested, I believe no man will dispute. And can it be contended that we ought to have acquiesced in that refusal, without at the same time saying that we ought to abandon whatever is most essential to the assertion of our dignity, and the maintenance of our rights? In vain is it contended that the connivance of this govt. in the neutrality of Spain, was an acknowledgment of it. On the contrary, in every one of his notes and conferences Mr. Frere studiously reserved the right of this country to go to war, and accurately distinguished between temporary connivance and positive recognition. The connivance too Was conditional. It depended on the communication of the treaty with France, on the discontinuance of all naval armaments, and the prohibition of the sale of prizes in Spanish ports. That the Spanish govt. were aware that their neutrality was not recognized is obvious from the discussions which took place, and from their anxiety to learn what were our intentions. It appears that some mistake has occurred from the use of the word convention, in some of the Spanish notes, as if there had been a convention of neutrality between this country and Spain. It is plain, however, that the word refers in most cases to the convention with France, though to be sure it is not surprising it should be thought such a convention as that was, could not be meant to be characterized as a convention of neutrality. And here, sir, I may take notice of a circumstance that escaped me in a former part of my speech. Let us consider what proportion of the whole revenue of Spain the subsidy paid to France forms. It will be found, I believe, that as the whole revenue of Spain, for every purpose, is not estimated at more than 8 millions, the subsidy is, between one third and one half of its pecuniary resources. And is not that a strange sort of neutrality in which one power contributes, near a half of its whole annual revenue to another power, to carry on war against a, third? If the proportion of aid in a defensive treaty is a consideration of great importance in deciding whether it is to be 377 deemed a violation of neutrality, surely the proportion of a pecuniary commutation to the whole means of a state, is not to be held indifferent? Suppose for instance that Prussia or Austria were engaged in a war with France, would it be considered a convention of neutrality, if England were to stipulate and pay 15 millions to one of the belligerents? And 15 millions paid by England, probably forms no larger proportion of her means, than 3 millions annually paid by Spain to France—and by a convention so ridiculously described as a convention of neutrality! It is evident, however, that M. ဟAnduaga who, in a note presented to this govt. speaks of a convention of neutrality of the 19th Oct. between Spain and England, is altogether unacquainted with the progress and state of the negotiation. It is clear, that no such treaty ever did exist, for if it had, would M. Cevallos, in Feb. and March, have talked of the understanding which prevailed on the subject, if they could at once have settled the dispute by referring to the written document? But in my view of the subject, it would have been of little consequence whether such a convention had existed or not. It is manifest that it could have recognised the neutrality of Spain only conditionally, and if the condition was violated, the neutrality of course expired, and we should have been placed in the same right of war that belonged to us prior to its conclusion. But still, though ministers were disposed to prolong their forbearance and lenity, no satisfaction was obtained as to the communication of the treaty. Desirous, however, of affording every facility and removing every obstacle to an amicable arrangement, it was resolved to recal Mr. Frere, in consequence of circumstances having occurred that made it impossible for him any longer to communicate personally with the prince of peace. Upon the nature of that difference, which has no relation to the present subject, it is not necessary for me to enlarge. In justice to Mr. Frere, however, I must say, that it arose without any fault on his part, from a most unprovoked, unwarrantable conduct in that person, who, though without ostensible office, is known to have the most leading influence in the councils of Spain. Nevertheless, much as ministers respected the talents and were sensible of the services of that gent, who had so ably filled the place of ambassador JO the court of Madrid, during a difficult 378 and critical period, they were determined that no collateral obstacles should stand in the way of a friendly termination of discussions, in which the public interest was so much concerned. They had reasons of policy for not driving matters precipitately to extremity, and reserving the right of war should circumstances demand its exercise; they continued to leave an opening for conciliation and arrangement. It was intended to send another gentleman to succeed Mr. Frere, the latter returning home on leave of absence. The same vessel, however, which brought Mr. Frere home on the 17th Sept. brought letters from admiral Cochrane, which proved in, the clearest manner the violation of that condition, on which the forbearance of his maj.'s govt. had particularly been founded. That the clear, and precise information communicated by adm. Cochrane, proved, that a violation of the condition on which the neutrality of Spain was connived at, had been committed by the armaments in the port of Ferrol, and that it was incumbent on govt. to act upon it, I think cannot be denied. The dispatches of adm., Cochrane pointed out many important facts. The preparations in the port of Spain were coir lateral with the equipment of the French squadron and the Dutch men of war; they happened at the moment when French sailors and soldiers were conveyed through Spain to reinforce the crews of the French ships; the packets were armed as in time of war. After our forbearance, so long founded on the express condition, that no armaments were to be undertaken in the Spanish ports, could the govt. of this country shut its eyes to an armament begun in circumstances so suspicious, or ought they to have so far forgot their duty as to neglect the precautions which the case demanded? After Spain had been warned in what light an armament would be viewed, and of the consequences to which it would lead, what would have been thought of the vigour or good sense of ministers had they, on this occasion, taken no steps inconsequence of such information? What would have been said if the enemy, joining their forces, had came out of Ferrol and proved too strong for the squadron under adm. Cochrane, though that I do not believe, notwithstanding any difference of numerical strength, would have happened? What would have been said if the treasure ships had arrived safe, and replenished with dollars the coffers of Spain, to be 379 placed at the disposal of France, and employed for our destruction? What would hare been said had the Ferrol squadron proceeded to any enterprise that would either have struck a blow at our interests, or facilitated those plans which the enemy meditated against this country? If any of these things had happened, what defence could ministers urge this day for their negligence, their weakness, and their pusillanimity? I believe they would have been universally and deservedly condemned, not only at home, but in every quarter of Europe and the world, where honourable, sound, and patriotic principles have still any influence on the views, wishes, and sentiments of mankind. I cannot believe that any man in this nation, would ever have thought otherwise, than with horror and detestation of the continuance of forbearance in such a posture of affairs; but if, contrary to my belief, there were majorities to applaud forbearance, I declare to you, sir, and to this house, that there is no censure which I should not be proud to receive, rather than the praise of men, who could applaud such forbearance, or could even praise hesitation at a moment, such as that of the receipt in this country of the decisive, and positive, and most unequivocal intelligence from admiral Cochrane, of the armaments in the ports of Spain. Men might argue, however, that the intelligence itself was not of such a nature, as that a wise and reflective govt. ought to have adopted it, so as to determine them to take measures of precaution, indicative of ultimate war. I know the intelligence has been questioned; but I do also know, that it has been questioned without cause. All the circumstances that have come within my knowledge, only confirm the truth and accuracy of that intelligence, beyond the possibility of doubt. The single thing against it, to which weight is attached, is that of the circumstance of apiece of news, given by M. ဟAnduaga, in one of his notes, the last indeed to the British govt. M. ဟAnduaga, when first he received the intelligence of the seizure of the frigates of his nation, addressed a note to the secretary of state for foreign affairs, in which he states, that a colonel of the regiment of Hibernia, had received letters from some officers of his regiment at Ferrol, stating, that the armament preparing in that harbour, of which his regiment was part, was destined to go against the insurgents in Biscay. I do not know 380 what gentlemen think of such information, I will not disparage the authors of it; but most certainly I am of opinion that information from a British admiral is higher authority than the information from the Hibernian colonel. As to the assemblage and arming at Ferrol, it is more probable* however, that they were originally intended for a. secret expedition of some sort, but that" when it became known that. Biscay was in a disturbed state, as the troops could not be spared for a secret expedition, they were ordered to be landed, and received a destination altogether remote from that which was assigned them under the plan which had led to their assemblage. If it was otherwise, it never occured to the governor of Gallicia to tell admiral Cochrane, when this officer wrote to him for explanation, that the armament at Ferrol was destined to act against the Biscayans. The evidence of the governor of Gallicia, set against that of the correspondent of the Hibernian colonel, would surely weigh somewhat in the minds of gentlemen. If the information of the colonel had any effect at all, it must have been on the English newspapers, or on some persons out of the govt. On this subject, the evidence of the governor of Gallicia is conclusive. This person, in answer to the first letter of admiral Cochrane, demanding explanations of the armaments in the ports of Ferrol, replies that it was an arming of some vessels for a secret expedition, and not that it was an expedition destined against the insurgents of Biscay. Mr. Frere stated at Madrid his apprehensions respecting that armament, to which M. Cevallos makes no other answer, than that they were not intended to hurt us; not that they were collected in order to quell the revolt of the subjects of Spain. With respect to the real views of the court of Madrid, in the first agitation of the plan of her armament in the harbour of Ferrol, it must strike every body, therefore, that the persons the most likely to know, either gave them quite a different destination from that insisted on by M, ဟAnduaga, or refused to give any satisfactory account whatever of their destination. It was not until after the receipt of those dispatches of M. ဟ Anduaga, in which the report occurs of the justification set up by him of the conduct of his court, that either M. Cevallos, or the governor of Gallicia say, that their object was to quell an insurrection in Biscay; and it 381 will doubtless strike the house, that the justification by M. ဟ Anduaga was gratuitous^ in other words, was a justification, the production of his own mind, and not in any sense founded on the instructions from his court: and indeed, there are but too many reasons to think that the armament was in the utmost degree hostile in its principle. It was scarcely possible that it could be at first intended to act against the revolted province. What appears to me, sir, unavoidable to our viewing it in any other light is, that the preparations for it should have been throughout of a pacific complexion, of a spirit and tendency in the highest degree neutral. If the force had been wanted to quell an insurrection in Biscay, and that it had been proper to have sent such force by sea, Spain had abundance of small craft in which to transport her troops; and such she would have been bound to have chosen, if her purpose was what she had finally stated it to be; thereby avoiding all appearance of hostility. In the second place, if she must employ her ships of war, what was more obviously likely to have been her course, than to have taken out their guns, and armed her vessels en flute; and not have ranged them alongside the French and Dutch ships in her hostile harbour of Ferrol? Add to this, that Spain has no ports, or none at which she could, with any hope of safety, land troops, in Biscay. But where and when was Spain to laud her troops, if we grant for the sake of the argument, that such was her intention? Why, sir, in the Bay of Biscay; that bay, incomparably the most tempestuous in Europe; and in this bay, the dread of the hardiest mariners, she was to land her troops, in the midst of the equinoxial gales! As to the other documents which have been laid before the house, which may be supposed to affect the information received from admiral Cochrane, undoubtedly, sir, in a statement from our consul at Cadiz, it is reported that there were, at the period he wrote, no armaments going on there. But two naval officers, one of them capt. Gore, writing on the 5th of Oct. reports very differently. Still the information from our consul might very well have been such as to give an idea that there were no armaments, or none that were considerable, going forward, at the time when he was drawing up that information. For myself, sir, I have no doubt in my mind of 382 the existence of the armaments in question. In order to demonstrate to us the hostile dispositions of the court of Madrid, one circumstance, which though minute1, was important. I allude, sir, to the arming of the packets. To dispose of all this, I contend, sir, that the evidence, so distinct, clear, and positive of admiral Cochrane, is supported by the very excuses and arguments of the Spanish govt. besides, had we not the evidence of their being armed, in the information of the governor of Gallicia, of a subsequent disarmament? This gent.'s information was material in another view; he told us, that they were not any longer armed ships of war, yet that the packets would remain armed. Thus, however real her armament, her disarmament was nominal. Now it cannot be said, that the condition of our neutrality or forbearance was, that she should not arm, nor make any armaments in her ports. How is the fact? Why, sir, an armament took place in a quarter most material for us to insist on her being disarmed, and that was in the port of Ferrol, where the gallantry of our seamen detained in a state of blockade, a squadron of France. The acquisition to this squadron, of a considerable Spanish force, might have occasioned not a little inconvenience. Certainly it would have obliged us to reinforce our blockading 'squadron; and possibly it would have been, in some respect, the means of causing a disadvantageous change of the positions of our general naval forces. All this, surely, was evidence of a hostile mind. That armament took place after a positive engagement with us, not to make any armaments whatever. In these circumstances, what was the conduct of the court of Spain? Days and weeks elapse without one order, account, or explanation, from that court to its minister M. ဟAnduaga, to remove, at the court of England, those just apprehensions, jealousies, and unavoidable inquietudes which the known proceedings at Ferrol were, of necessity, to create. The same with respect to Mr. Frere, at Madrid. Not one word of explanation was given to bur chargé ဟaffaires, of the nature or object of these armaments; but he was told, generally, but most evasively that they were not intended to hurt G> Britain. This idle jargon continued to be the language of the Spanish minister, until they received the intelligence from the Governor if Gallicia of the dextrous attempt of 383 M. ဟAnduaga to persuade, our court that the armaments were for quelling the rebellion of Biscay. M; ဟAnduaga's own dispatches arriving, informed the ministers of Spain more particularly of the colour their ambassador had given to the transaction. Yet, when we know, sir, that the same governor of Biscay did at the outset, when not furnished with the ingenious but unavailing excuses of M. ဟAnduaga, inform us, that the expedition was a secret one, shall we be amused out of the conviction of our understanding? If any man should believe M. ဟAnduaga, with the evidence now before us, it will exceed my imagination of puerile credulity. But, sir, I do not believe that it will be advanced by any man in this house, that there were not armaments in the ports of Spain; nor can I see how those armaments can be accounted for, but on the principle of a hostile disposition. As to the armaments in other respects, I have only stated what was done. The simple question in reference to our moderation towards Spain, is not whether we did not do enough, but whether we did not do too much? whether we did not remit our due vigour and decision in not declaring war on the instant? If we had at once declared war, it would have been consistent with substantial justice. As it was, our reservation amounted to a pointed end conditional declaration of war. A breach of neutrality was declared actual hostility. By this conditional declaration of war, if circumstances should arise, we were entitled to act at once; so that when we knew of the hostile preparations and armaments in the ports of Spain, we were justified instantly to declare war; because, if we could prevent the treasures of that power from reaching in safety her ports, we should be preventing a junction of the forces of the three powers of Spain, France, and Holland; the succouring of an inveterate enemy, the replenishing of his coffers, or the recruiting of his armies: for assuredly these treasures were not destined for the coffers of Spain, but for those of France. Even in this proceeding, the moderation and friendly dispositions of his maj.'s govt. were as obvious as unequivocal. We detained the frigates of Spain, indeed, but, by the mode of that detention, we left a door open to Spain, to return to her ancient friendships, to the line of her generous and magnanimous policy in better pays, to the course of her high-minded, honourable propensities and feelings, to 384 her true interests, to the paths of her renown and her glory. Now, if we did not at once declare war against Spain, knowing the motives of our unparralleled forbearance, I think it too hard, sir, for gentlemen to charge us with the contravention* of the law of nations, with want of good, faith, or the violation of the most liberal, enlightened principles of a just and prudent policy. It will be found, sir, that we have treated Spain with a kindness, of which, perhaps, no epoch of history can furnish an instance. We carried our indulgence to the utmost extent. We were not, to the last moment, hostile, but to an extent singularly limited: and although Spain was giving every kind of assistance to her ally, although joined with naval force, she was pouring her treasures into her coffers; still we were willing to listen to her ministry, and, if possible, to avert from her the evils of war. Has Spain requited our friendship? With the two conditions on which our forbearance could be continued, on which she could be permitted to maintain her neutrality, she refused to comply. These were, first, the cessations of all armaments; and secondly, the communications of the terms of the treaty of St. Hdefonse. We did not demand more than was necessary to our safety. We demanded nothing but our confirmed right. If we had not insisted on this promptly, and made it a sine qua non, we might, indeed, have been accused of weakness, of pusillanimity, and imbecility. After long concealing her armaments in other ports, Spain evinced, besides, a determination to refuse explanation of those, and of what we alike required, the treaty of 1795. From these circumstances, war had become inevitable. This was the case long before the affair of the frigates. In fact, their seizure was not known at the time of the discussion at Madrid, or of the notification of the 7th Nov. As to the detention of the frigates, the irrefragable justice of that measure must he obvious to the world. That circumstance, however, makes no part of the case, and we should equally have been at war had it never taken place. I do not say this to extenuate that proceeding, of which I trust I have already said enough completely to justify, deplorable as some of the circumstances were with which it was attended, as indeed bloodshed, though shed even in lawful war, must always be regretted, yet that occurrence certainly had no influence on the 385 final decision of the question of peace or war.— I trust, sir, that I have sufficiently proved that, even in the commencement of the negotiations we had a just cause of war, which never was abandoned; that during the second period our forbearance, while Spain became bound, and actually paid a war subsidy of 3 millions sterling to France, was conditional; and that the condition being violated, we again were possessed of the right of war provisionally declared; and all our demands of satisfaction and security being rejected, we are in consequence at open war. Under these circumstances, I entertain a full confidence that the vote of this house will recognize the justice of our cause and sanction the conduct of the govt. and that we shall lay at the foot of the throne the professions of a dutiful and loyal people, determined to make every sacrifice in the vindication of their rights, and in the defence, of their country.—I shall conclude, sir, with moving, "That an humble address be presented to his majesty, to acquaint his majesty, that we have taken into our most serious consideration, the papers which have been laid before us by his majesty's command, relative to the discussions which have taken place with the court of Spain: That we observe with the greatest satisfaction, that, through the whole of the transaction, his majesty has! carried his moderation and forbearance to the utmost extent which was consistent with a due regard to the honour of his crown and the interests of his dominions: That, while we fully concur in the propriety and necessity of those prompt and vigorous measures of precaution which his majesty found himself compelled to adopt in consequence of the naval armaments fitted out by Spain, we see at the same time a fresh proof of his majesty's earnest desire. to avoid, if possible, the extremity of war, in the first opportunity which he even then offered to the court of Spain, to enter on pacific negotiation: And that, impressed with these sentiments, and fully convinced of the justice of the war, which the conduct of the court of Spain (evidently under the influence and controul of France) has rendered unavoidable, we shall not fail to afford his majesty our most zealous and cordial, support in every measure which may be necessary for prosecuting the war with vigour, and bringing it to a safe and honourable termination."
§ Mr. Grey
rose, oppressed and over-powered by the sense of the numerous de- 386 tails into which it would be necessary for him to enter, in order to confute the various fallacies of the right hon. gent. who had just sat down: details as extraordinary for the magnitude of their extent as for the importance of the objects which they embraced. To lessen, the arduousness of the task, and to trespass as little as possible upon the patience of the house, he should touch but very slightly on those parts of the subject in which no material difference of opinion existed between him and the right hon. gent, and confine himself principally to the points in which they were completely at variance. Of the former description was the character of the treaty of St. Ildefonso. The right hon. gent, had taken a great deal of pains and displayed a great deal of talent in proving what he was willing enough to admit—that this treaty was clearly an offensive as well as a defensive one, and that if not renounced by Spain, or the conditions of it explained in an unambiguous manner, and one that should be completely satisfactory to this country, it indisputably became a just cause for declaring war against her. At the same time that. he made this ad* mission, he by no means agreed with the right hon. gent*in opinion, that the arguments urged by M. ဟAnduaga in his explanation of the tendency of this treaty were so void of weight as he seemed to imagine. These arguments strongly evinced the desire of Spain to limit that which had originally an offensive meaning to one purely defensive, and could this construction of the treaty have been maintained, it might certainly have proved equally advantageous to both countries. In his own mind, he was most decidedly of opinion, that it was the true policy of this country to have remained on good terms with Spain. As far as he could collect it from the strange, uncertain, indistinct mass of documents, which had been laid before the house on this subject, it seemed at one period to have been the original opinion of govt. He thought it would have been the policy of this country to maintain a good understanding with Spain, although that country were to have allowed to France the contingent or the substituted pecuniary succours. In his opinion, the subsidy which the right hon. gent. in alluding to it, had considered as totally, out of the question, might have been acquiesced in with perfect safety and propriety, provided the other points on which he had 387 allowed we were entitled to expect satisfaction, had been explained in a manner calculated to remove all uneasiness on our part. Persons in the situation in which he was, were not able to procure all the necessary information; but he would contend, and he was convinced it would be allowed by every impartial man, that his maj.'s ministers possessing, as they must, the most extensive and multifarious information, flowing in upon them from a variety of sources, ought to have decided among themselves the question of the policy of preserving peace with Spain, and then have declared to that country, the exact boundaries of the neutrality beyond which it could not be allowed to pass.—He would follow, or endeavour to follow the right hon. gent, through the intricate labyrinth of his arguments, as well as his recollection and his ability would permit. But he would take the liberty to remark previously on the strange fact, that, antecedent to the 2d of June not a single dispatch; appears from lord Hawkesbury to Mr. Frere, communicating to him instructions, by which his conduct to the court of Spain was to be regulated. It was strange too, and it seemed to him most highly culpable, at the time when hostilities commenced between this country and France, and when our govt. must have been fully acquainted with the connection that subsisted between France and Spain, that no attempts were made at that critical period to ascertain the real disposition of Spain, and to endeavour to fix her in a determination of neutrality. The first document to which the right hon. gent. had alluded in his speech was that memorable dispatch of lord. Hawkesbury to Mr. Frere, dated the 2d of June, 1803. He had been curious to hear how the right hon. gent, would defend that paper. We had been told by him, that it proved the vigilant attention of ministers by the precision with which it marked out to Mr. Frere, the line of conduct he should adopt. When he first read the title of this paper it was with great expectation, an expectation which was increased by the perusal of the two or three earlier paragraphs; but on looking still farther, some positive points having been staled with regard to the assistance demanded by France from Spain—but he would read lord Hawkesbury's words, "If the Spanish govt. should state to you that they Conceive themselves to be under the obligation to furnish to France the number of troops, and 388 ships which are stipulated in the treaty of St. Hdefonso, but that their co-operation will extend no farther"—What then? Here is a foreseen case—had any thing arisen not foreseen, an opinion might have been directed to be withheld—but here, upon this case, in which the circumstances that must influence a judgment are distinctly pointed out, lord Hawkesbury goes on to say, "You will refrain from giving any Opinion upon this measure, but will content yourself with signifying, that you will transmit the information of it to your court." (See p. 62.) Mere is a satisfactory dispatch! It commences with professing to inform our minister how be is to act, and in continuation directs him to refer again to his own court. This truly was but a very inauspicious opening to this negotiation. So early ns the 3d of June, 1803, we find Mr. Frere beginning to detumid explanations in a note to M. Cevallos, and in a dispatch soon after to lord Hawkesbury, he mention's his answer. This, by the way, tie would observe, was one of the many communications, which but for the motion he had submitted to the house would never have been prod-aced on their table. Notwithstanding that motion, however, no dispatches had appeared from our govt. to Mr. Frere, between the 2d of June and the 24th of Nov. The right hon. gent. had endeavoured to shew that there were no circumstances during that period which required that fresh instructions should be sent to Mr. Frere; but this appeared to him to be by no means clearly established. it was surely very material, at a time when Spain was engaged in a negotiation with France, the avowed object of which was to settle the amount of the pecuniary succours which she was to contribute in lieu of the contingent of troops and vessels, that our minister at the court of Madrid should have been putts possession of the most ample and minute information of the way in which he should conduct himself to that court. Mr. Frere'S dispatches of the 5th and 15th of Aug. which were received on the V2th and 50th Sept. must have sufficiently apprised ministers of the urgent demands made by France on Spain, to furnish either the contingent or the pecuniary succours in lieu of ft. Was it not incumbent on our govt. He enter seriously into the discussion of this most important question, and to have communicated to Mr. Frere the result of their consultation, that fee might know de- 389 cidedly how to act? But instead of this, after hearing of the French negotiations at Madrid, the administration of this country sent not a single instruction to Mr. Frere, from the 2d to the 24th of Nov. but left him to conduct himself entirely at his own discretion. In that time he might have unadvisedly committed the country in the most serious and irrevocable manner. To him there appeared, in this interval, the most unpardonable remissness in the minister for the foreign department, a remissness which, in his mind, no explanation could extenuate.—As the right hon. gent. had passed lightly over the circumstance of the conveyance of French troops through Spain to Ferrol, he would follow his example, although he had considerable doubts in his mind whether there existed any thing in that transaction which could be construed into a breach of neutrality.—We now come to lord Hawkesbury's dispatch to Mr. Frere, dated 24th Nov. 1803, on the great importance of which the right on. Gent. dwelt with peculiar emphasis. This dispatch was occasioned by letters received from Mr. Frere, dated 9th and 11th Oct. in which the treaty between France and Spain is stated to be in the act of negotiating. The right hon. gent. had laid Considerable stress upon what he calls the precise instructions contained in this dispatch to Mr. Frere. To him the principles it contained appeared so intolerable, that the most violent infractions of the law of nations by that power, against whom the right hon. gent, had so frequently thundered his anathemas, were moderate in the comparison. He must in the first place, observe, that though lord Hawkesbury had been perfectly aware of the treaty carrying on between France and Spain, he had not previously insisted on any explanation of that treaty, or of the circumstance of the passage of French troops through Spain to Ferrol. In this dispatch of the 24th Nov. lard Hawkesbury thus expresses himself: "The preservation of peace with Spain has, from the period of the commencement of the present war, been the constant object of his maj.'s policy, but the Spanish govt. must themselves feel that this object can only be attained by their earnest endeavours to do every thing which depends upon them for the maintenance for a fair system of neutrality, and by their causing that neutrality to he respected by the other be digerent powers. When the question 390 therefore occurs."—The question had occurred, and lord Hawkesbury knew it had occurred—"When the question therefore occurs, how far his maj. would consent that the Spanish govt. should purchase their neutrality by an advance of pecuniary succours to the French govt. and would still regard them as neutrals, this must be considered as in some degree depending on the amount of the succours so to be advanced, and likewise on the determination of the Spanish govt. to insure their neutrality in all other respects; for, at the time, when his maj. might be disposed to disregard any small or temporary advance of money, if essential for the attainment of such an object, it would be impossible for him to consider a permanent advance to the extent of that stated by you, in any other light than as a subsidy to the French govt. and as possibly the most effectual assistance which the Spanish govt. could afford them for the prosecution of the war." —What should naturally follow all this? Why, that if the terms were not agreed to, a declaration of war must ensue. Our govt. should have described with accuracy, the limits beyond winch they would not allow the conduct of Spain to pass, under the name of neutrality, and should have fully authorised their agent at the court of Madrid to declare war, should the conditions not be complied with. Lord Hawkesbury goes on: "His maj. can only be induced to abstain from immediate hostilities in consequence of such a measure, upon the consideration that it is a temporary expedient from which the Spanish govt. are determined to extricate themselves as soon as possible, and that his maj. must be at liberty to consider a perseverance, in the system of furnishing pecuniary succours to France as, at any period, when circumstances may render it necessary, a just cause of war." —The hon. gent. requested that gent, would attend particularly to this part of the question, as it was one of the most important in the whole discussion. If the principle contained in this dispatch was admitted, there would be an end at once of all public faith and national security. What is this principle? That having once a justifiable cause of war, explanations may be suspended, and a right reserved to go to war whenever convenience may require! Is this compatible with the good faith and national honour that the right hon. gent. so frequently talks of? If you once suspend, a cause of complaint, and do not at the 391 time make it a ground of immediate war, common justice and the law and practice of nations require that you must again bring that complaint under discussion be-.fore you declare war. Our ministers had assumed a great deal of generosity in their treatment of Spain, when, in fact, they had placed her in a situation worse than that of a hostile army in a truce. He called on gent, to say, whether this could be maintained? If the right hon. gent.'s arguments did not go to establish the principle he had repeated, he did not know to what they aimed. These instructions produced a new negotiation at Madrid between Mr. Frere and M. Cevallos. In one of Mr. Frere's dispatches, he laments the ignorance in which he is left by his court, and talks of the "air of a superior information" with which M. Cevallos addressed" him, He sincerely sympathized in Mr. Frere's feelings on this occasion, and most decidedly condemned the conduct of the administration that had placed him in so auk-ward a predicament by their culpable neglect. In an account of a conference that Mr. Frere had with M. Cevallos, as related in the dispatch of the 27th Dec. in answer to the demand of the Spanish minister, "whether the affording the pecuniary succours to France would be considered as a ground of war, and whether he was authorised to declare it," he says, "that he was so authorised, and that war would be the infallible consequence." Where did Mr, Frere get this determined tone? Not in his instructions from lord Hawkesbury, for in them he is confined to "protesting." It was very strange if he took it on himself to speak so decidedly without authority. Mr. Frere's note of the 13th Dec. contained demands for explanation on two points, the subsidy to Spain, and the admission of French troops into Spain, with a view to the danger of Portugal. M. Cevallos's answer states, that the pecuniary succours had been afforded to France, expressly to avoid hostilities with G. Britain; and he, cites a conference M. ဟAnduaga had held with lord Hawkesbury, in which the English minister had not declared any objection to the furnishing of this equivalent. With regard to Portugal, he observes, that Spain had concerted measures for her security. Not satisfied with these explanations, Mr. Frere, on the 26th Dec. addressed a note to M. Cevallos, couched in terms of unaccountable boldness, in which he repeats his demands. In Mr. Frere's 392 note of the 18th Feb. though he knew the subsidiary treaty of Spain with France was concluded in Sept. he couples it with the armaments, and demands an ultimatum on these subjects in the most decided language. In spite of the sophistry of the rt. hon. gent, who had endeavoured to shew that there was no agreement between G. Britain and Spain, recognizing the neutrality of the latter power, yet what is there that can constitute an agreement if this does not? If in discussion you state certain conditions without which you will not agree, it is surely implied that if those conditions are not violated, the compact is formed. Now, in the conference that lord Hawkesbury had with M. ဟAnduaga, this was precisely the case.—In a subsequent dispatch Mr. Frere gives an account of two conversations with the prince of peace. He pressed several points which he afterwards made the subject of a formal note to the Spanish court, to which he received no answer, on which the right hon. gent, had commented most severely. If this answer was so dissatisfactory, why did not lord Hawkesbury see M. ဟAnduaga and tell him so, and repeat to Mr. Frere his positive instructions? In a note to Mr. Frere from M. Cevallos, dated the 2Sd March, 1804, he adopts the language of Mr. Frere's note of the 18th Feb. and intimates that the British govt. had recognized the neutrality of Spain on certain terms. In the dispatch from Mr. Frere to lord Hawkesbury of the 18th April, in which this note is inclosed, he says, "as there is nothing "in any note of mine which could be "brought forward as a foundation for "such a conclusion, I have not thought "it worth while to enter any protest in "answer to M. Cevallos's insinuation," (see page 91.) It certainly was Mr. Frere's duty to protest against this assertion; it was his duty, for the sake of his own credit, for the honour of his country, and for the security of Spain. The hon. gent. said, he could not express his indignation at his conduct, in not doing so in language sufficiently strong, to do justice to his feelings. If we recur, said he, to the course of proceedings between man and man, this doctrine will forcibly apply. I am at law with a man who does not, however, wish any longer to remain so, provided I grant him certain terms. I acquiesce. I am not to, molest him unless he violates those terms. Our disputes are to be adjusted amicably. But when I find him off his guard, his pre- 393 parations discontinued, council dispersed, witnesses, gone each his way, himself reposing in unsuspecting security, up I lift my arm, or violently wield the arm of the law, and crush the poor man to death. Is this honour? Is this justice? And yet much of such a complexion is the transaction with Spain. Mr. Frere had by his plighted pledge got Spain to disarm, but a principle is reserved, and now is acted upon, of going to war with Spain the moment it suited our convenience so to do. But to this remissness, which in this case attached to Mr. Frere, and during the whole of the negotiation to lord Hawkesbury, was to be attributed the war in which we were plunged, and the dishonour with which our national character was stained. In M. ဟAnduaga's note, the terms on which it was imagined the British govt. would consent to the observance of neutrality were distinctly stated; if to these terms lord Hawkesbury made no objection, the inference was clear that they were consented to. From Jan. 21 to the time lord Hawkesbury went out of office, no dispatches appeared. At that period a "faction," as the noble lord called it, (see vol. 2. p. 342), combined; the administration was amended much in the same way as bills were sometimes amended in that house, and to carry on the simile, he hoped that house would soon exercise the power of repealing it. Thus did Lord Hawkesbury remove without another word, retaining no doubt, in his dying moments the most pacific dispositions; at least there did not exist a single line farther to disapprove of such a disposition, and it was probable that the old proverb," silence gives consent," was verified in this case. Then began lord Harrowby's administration; in the first part of which a similar remissness prevailed, which was afterwards aggravated by steps of the most unjustifiable haste and violence.—With regard to the order given by lord Harrowby to admiral Cochrane, on his receiving intelligence that the Spanish fleet was arming in Ferrol, to blockade that port, it was perfectly justifiable. Two dispatches existed of the date of the 29th Sept. from lord Harrowby to Mr. Frere; one containing ostensible, the other private instructions, both warranting him to break off negotiation, and quit' Madrid, if his demands for the disarming the Spanish ships were not complied with. To the note which Mr. B. Frere addressed on this sub- 394 ject, to the Spanish govt. he received what he chooses to term an unsatisfactory answer, but which certainly contains as complete a satisfaction as language can convey. It stated that whatever information the British govt. might have received, yet-that the armament had been but trifling, and that it should cease. In fact it had ceased at that time. That Mr. B. Frere thought this reply satisfactory, appears clearly from his remaining at Madrid which otherwise he could not have done without disobeying his instructions. On the 2Sth Sept. Mr. Frere received instructions to make further representations on the subject of armaments; that is on what no longer existed. He did so, and the reply was an utter disclaiming of all armaments injurious to G. Britain, stating the improbability of such a thing after the agreement by which the neutrality of Spain had been acknowledged by G. Britain. Mr. Frere then, for the first time, denies the existence of any such agreement, or recognizance, though in a letter to lord Harrowby he had spoken of it, and he asserts the monstrous proposition that G. Britain has a right to declare war on any armament that Spain may make, for whatever purpose. He then required that the Spanish ships should be placed on the same footing on which they were before the convention, and on no account that any addition should be afterwards made to them. In the refusal of Spain to comply he demanded his passports. Surely Mr. Frere must have exceeded the bounds to which his instructions authorized him to proceed; there was no cause for his abrupt proceeding, unless in the interim he received advice of the unfortunate event of the seizure of the Spanish frigates: an event indeed doubly unfortunate, first in the loss of so many innocent human beings; and secondly, in the idelible stain on British good faith and honour. At length passports were granted to Mr. Frere's urgent and repeated requests, and so the negotiation ended. The hurry with which Mr. Frere quitted Madrid, and the unwillingness he evinced to receive any further explanation, reminded him of a scene in the Rivals, where Sir Lucius O'Trigger, in a dispute in which his friend Acres is engaged, shuts his ears to all accommodation, exclaiming, "It is a very pretty quarrel as it stands, and if you say any more you will only spoil it."—He had shewn how much blame attached to ministers for their 395 indecision in an early part of the negotiation, as to their true policy with regard to Spain, and for their shameful reserve to that country with respect to their intentions; but the last violent outrage committed in the seizure of the frigates, filled up the measure of their iniquity. On the very day that the govt. had received advices from admiral Cochrane, stating the armaments at Ferrol, did they give these unjust and infamous orders. He should feel himself gratified by learning whether the Spaniards did not give the most satisfactory references as to the armaments in their ports. They affirmed, in the first place, that the armaments were not intended to be employed against this country, and to other remonstrances that they had no longer any existence. As this explanation was given, why was the discussion on the other point be abruptly terminated? If an accredited minister was to be sent to Madrid, why could not ministers have waited till his arrival at Madrid," instead of giving those precipitate orders which had produced such lamentable effects? It could not be seriously urged that Spain meant any thing hostile to this country. Her internal and political situation refuted the idea. Spain, almost verging to political dissolution, wasted by pestilence, and scourged by a devouring famine, could entertain no idea of hostility against a country with which it has so many powerful ties of interest. The very ports where the preparations were stated to be, tended to shew that no hostilities on a great scale were intended. Was it credible that at Carthagena, where thousands were expiring of a pestilential and loathsome disease, there were any views of a hostile nature entertained? Mr. Duff's reports in July and Aug. likewise shewed that there were at Cadiz no preparations of a formidable description. The ships were in general old and crazy, and the arsenals were destitute of stores of all sorts. There was no wood but the country pine, and no contract had been formed for procuring supplies from the Baltic. Without attaching any blame to admiral Cochrane, for whom he thought the highest respect ought to be entertained, he could not help saying, that top much stress had been, without inquiry, laid on his statements. The feelings of nature, as veil as the habits of his profession, might have led him to give too highly coloured a picture of the state of the naval preparations in Spain. There was an officer in 396 the house, the captain of the Malta, whose opinion he should have wished produced on the present occasion. That officer had been on the Ferrol station, and could give very important information to the house. At all events the matter was one very fit to be inquired into. But had ministers made such an inquiry previous to the issuing of orders for seizing the Spanish frigates? They certainly had not; nay, he was not quite sure that even a cabinet council was convened on the business. He was almost inclined to think that lord Melville had taken on himself the responsibility of issuing the orders in question. Was this, he asked, a decent, honourable mode of proceeding? Was it fair treatment to a nation, anxious for our friendship, and compelled to stoop under the rod of an unfeeling despot? It was in vain that explanations were offered, and that assurances of neutrality were given by the Spanish govt. Indeed there was much of the appearance of a wish to come to a rupture. The abrupt and precipitate departure of Mr. Frere had very much of that appearance. In defence of the seizure of the Spanish frigates, it was described as a measure of precaution. This he denied, for it was a direct measure of war. While a dispute was pending betwixt two countries, they had both a right to take measures of precaution. If one nation ordered their army to be augmented, the other had a right to order a similar increase in its military establishment. If the one increased its navy, the other might be bound in prudence and policy to place its naval force on a more enlarged footing. If the Spaniards had preparations in their ports, we had a fair right to watch the motions of their ships, but we had no right to seize their ships, their persons, and their goods, without even an appearance of a declaration of war. It was an act uprincipled and atrocious in the highest degree, and calculated to degrade the character of the country at a time when it was so important to stand high in the opinion of Europe as the defender of its liberties against lawless dominion. And now, said the hon. gent, having gone over most of the ground of the right hon. gent, having admitted the hostile character of the treaty of St. Hdefonso, but deprecated the abuse of the principle of war which that treaty yielded; having shewn that we abandoned our claim to the right, substituting the recognition of a neutrality; having demonstrated, at least to my own conviction 397 that Spain has not violated her neutrality; having proved the pacific dispositions of Spain, and that there were no armaments carrying on against G. Brit, in the ports of that power; having clearly established that the order of 18th of Sept. and the consequent seizure of the Spanish frigates, were not measures of precaution, but of violence, injustice, and bad faith, I shall now conclude by moving the following amendment to the address moved by the right hon. gent.—"To return his maj. the thanks of this house for the communications made to us relative to the rupture with Spain. To express our entire conviction that the existence of a defensive treaty between France and Spain would have entitled his maj. to consider Spain as a principal in the present war unless the obligations of that treaty were renounced, or their execution disclaimed; and to assure his maj. that we shall at all times be ready to support him in giving effect, so far as the interests of his dominions may require, to this just and undisputed principle.—That we observe, however, that his maj. was-advised to wave the exercise of this right, in order-to negotiate with Spain, for the maintenance of her neutrality. And that, without taking upon ourselves -in the present moment to decide a question of policy depending so much on circumstances of which we are still uninformed, we acknowledge with gratitude this proof of his maj.'s paternal desire to have prevented the further extension of the calamities of war.— But that we beg leave humbly to represent to his maj. that the execution of these his benevolent wishes indispensably required from his ministers the adoption of some just, intelligible, and uniform principles of negotiation, declared in the outset with frankness, and steadily pursued to its conclusion; followed up by an unremitting attention to every new circumstance-arising in tie progress of so important a discussion; and, accompanied by the most scrupulous care that all engagements resulting from it should, on the part of G. Brit, be defined with precision, and-performed with unquestionable good faith, moderation, and integrity.—Tha!t we have on the contrary, seen with regret in the whole conduct of this transaction, the clashing effects of undecided, equivocal, and contradictory policy. That the wishes for peace professed in the outset by his maj.'S ministers, have uniformly been conteracted by their studious 398 endeavours to keep alive both the cause and the menace of war; a purpose equally inconsistent with justice and with wisdom, destructive of all confidence on the part of the power with whom they treated, and incompatible with the object for which they were negotiating. That during the whole course of those discussions, while they were continually soliciting from Spain unreserved communications on points of mutual interest, their own indecision prevented them in return from returning a distinct statement of the terms on which G Brit, would consent to recognize the neutrality of that power. That their ground of negotiation was repeatedly shifted, their demands varied, and their concessions undefined; and that although some agreement appears-at last to have been concluded, neither its date, nor its conditions were ascertained with precision; yet, both are repeatedly referred to, by the British, as well as the Spanish ministers, and the breach of those very conditions is all edged as the motive on the part of G. Brit, for her actual commencement of hostilities.—That the omissions and defects which distinguish those transactions, as well as the fatal consequences to which it has led, can only be ascribed to the erroneous principle on which it was grounded, and to the criminal and almost incredible negligence with which it has been conducted. That it is particularly our duty to represent to his maj. that in a negotiation for peace or war between G. Brit. and Spain, carried on principally at Madrid, no instructions were sent to his maj.'s minister at that court, from the 2d of June to the 24th of Nov. in the year 1803; from thence to the 21st of Jan. in. the year following; not again from that date to the 29th of Sept. That in the first of these intervals, being little less than 6 months, the negotiation for a treaty of neutrality between France and Spain was begun, continued, and concluded; yet not the smallest intimation was, in that long time, given to Mr. Frere, of the light in which that negotiation was considered here; of the language it was proper for him to hold; or of the measures it might be necessary for him to take; although frequent communications were made to him on the subject, by the Spanish govt. who appear to have been disposed to pay great attention in this instance to any representation from G. Brit.—That during the last of the above mentioned periods, the same minister though left again for many months without any instructions 399 whatever, negotiated and concluded some agreement with Spain on this most important subject, of which agreement no opinion was ever expressed to him from hence, either before or after its conclusion; nor does it even now appear, from any official documents, whether the same was meant to be allowed or disallowed, ratified or rejected, by the Brit. govt.—That we feel ourselves compelled to express to his maj. that in the farther progress of these transactions, the indecision and neglect of his govt. were succeeded by precipitate resolutions and acts of violence equally injurious to the honour and interest of his kingdom. —That we should have applauded any endeavour by firm and temperate representation to extricate our relations with Spain from the confusion in which they had been involved, and to bring them to a distinct issue of acknowledged neutrality or decided war, but that we find no trace of any such attempt. And that in the middle of Sept. on the first intimation of supposed movements in the Spanish ports, acts of hostility were decided on by his maj.'s govt. previous to all complaint, and executed without notice during a period of amicable negotiation.—That the dispositions of Spain appear, from the information of his maj.'s minister at Madrid, to have continued up to that moment friendly to G. Brit, and that the conduct of his maj.'s ministers, in having, under such circumstances, anticipated all explanation by concealed orders for an attack on Spanish ships, property, and subjects, cannot be justified on any ground of public law, much less reconciled to those principles of moderation and liberality which belong to the British character, and which in the present situation of Europe is peculiarly the duty of this country to maintain inviolate. —That on reviewing the discussions which immediately preceded the present war, we cannot but represent to his maj. the essential difference between the conduct of the person left in charge of his maj.'s affairs at Madrid, and the tenor of the only instructions under which he appears to have acted. That the explanations given to that gent. by the Spanish govt. though not in all points adequate to the just expectations of this country, were yet such as ought manifestly (according to those instructions) to have determined him to wait at Madrid for the arrival of an accredited minister authorized by his maj. to arrange with that court all points of difference. And that 400 we have therefore seen with equal surprise and indignation the final decision of his maj.'s ministers, not only to adopt the inconsiderate resolution taken by the king's representative in withdrawing himself from Madrid, but also to treat with utter disregard the subsequent offer from the Spanish minister at this court to pursue the same discussions here; an offer which, if accepted, might probably have led to a satisfactory conclusion on matters upon which the two courts were so nearly agreed. That while we have thus thought it our duty to represent to his maj. the errors of his ministers in the conduct of this important transaction, and the fatal consequences which have resulted from them, we beg leave to repeat our humble assurance that we are ready to support his maj. to the utmost in every measure necessary to assert the rights and vindicate the honour of his crown, objects which can never be successfully pursued by negligent and undecided councils, nor attained by the violation of engagements on which those with whom we treat have rested their security."—The amendment being read, and the question put,
rose. His ldp. said, he felt no necessity to follow the hon. gent. through all his details and arguments, when he recollected the able and animated speech made by his right hon. friend who opened the debate. Of whatever blame could be imputed to the govt. for their conduct towards Spain, he was very ready to take his full share. He was happy to rind the hon. gent. agreed with govt. on the construction to be put on the treaty of St. Hdefonso. Indeed, he went as tar on this subject as could be wished by any one; he allowed, that no treaty going to the length that this does could be called inoffensive. When the hon. gent, had made this allowance, he was surprised- to find him follow it up by observing, that he considered it would have been highly proper for this country to have obliged Spain to come to some distinct explanation. He was more surprised at this, because the hon. gent. agreed to the policy of keeping Spain neutral, so much so, that he conceived a subsidy of 3 millions annually not too great a price to pay for Spanish neutrality. But what encreased his surprise to its greatest height was, that the hon. gent. after commiserating the unfortunate and dependant situation of Spain, could think it expedient to press for an explana- 401 tion which must have driven her into a war with one power or another. The hon. gent. complains, that when lord Hawkesbury sent his first instructions to Mr. Frere, he should have been fully prepared to say, whether, if the pecuniary succours were afforded we should deem it a just cause for an immediate war; but this would depend on circumstances which could only be ascertained at Madrid, and could not be foreseen. Among other omissions with which government had been charged, was that of attention to the notes of M. ဟAnduaga to the secretary of state; they were of little authority, being without date and signature. Nothing, too, was so fatal to the cause of peace, as a double negotiation. Mr. Frere having been instructed how to act, Madrid was the proper theatre for the discussion. The hon. gent, had intimated, that in the conferences which lord Hawkesbury had held with M. ဟAnduaga, a kind of agreement was tacitly allowed with regard to the conditions of neutrality; but this idea originated in the misapprehension of the Spanish ambassador. With regard to the substitution of pecuniary succours, for a contingent of troops and vessels, be could by no means agree, that a nation which had covenanted with another to afford moderate succours, was at liberty to convert those succours into money without the consent of the power against whom the succours were to be employed. By converting the aid into money, those against whom it was to be turned were deprived of those means of attacking and seizing it which they would have if it were applied in the shape of ships and men. It was allowed by the hon. gent. that in the first instance there was sufficient ground for bringing matters directly to the point of peace or war. Consequently, if the govt. had done nothing to give up this right, it still remained. It was clear, that as far as related to the conduct of the govt. at home, nothing had been done that could be construed into a resignation of that right. In the whole of the transactions with Spain, the right had never been suffered to emerge; and lord Harrowby, in his instructions to. Mr. Frere to bring the question to the last trial, shewed clearly that he considered the right as never once lost sight of. If, therefore, Mr. Frere had done any thing at Madrid, any thing amounting to an agreement of this nature, he must have done so in direct violation of his instructions.—His ldp. next proceeded to shew from Mr. Frere's 402 dispatches, that he had constantly kept in view this part of his instructions, and that he had always considered it as a most essential point to give no pledge or engagement which would bind his maj. to respect what he always considered as an uncertain and unsubstantial neutrality. He then proceeded to shew, that it was equally wrong to suppose that Mr. B. Frere acknowledged such an agreement or convention. In his note to M. Cevallos, in which he used the word convention, he expressly denied that the neutrality of Spain had ever been agreed upon, or even mentioned in any of the communications from his maj.'s minister, so as to give reason to expect it would be recognized. All that had been proposed on our part amounted to nothing more than the statement of the conditions on which we would consent to a forbearance from war for the present, and to enter into negotiations on other points. But never had any thing been said, that could give countenance to the hope of our respecting a neutrality so nearly connected with our mortal enemy. Mr. B. Frere considered the relation between us and Spain only a suspension of hostilities; and, therefore, when he used the word convention, it was in a very different sense from that which some gent, supposed. The mere assent of Spam to these primary conditions of forbearance was not sufficient to constitute an agreement of neutrality, nor could it be expected by Spain that we would give so great a boon for such inadequate concessions. If silence were to he construed into consent on our part, it might as well be argued that lord Hawkesbury's silence gave consent to M. ဟAnduaga's construction of the treaty of St. Hdefonso. Surely it would not be said, that every thing that was not formally contradicted was therefore admitted and re-cognized. But even of a formal agreement had existed, it must necessarily follow that any deviation from the terms of that agreement would leave us at liberty to go to war. The conduct of Spain with respect to the armaments in Ferrol was a direct breach of the agreement, if such an agreement had existed, inasmuch as it was contrary to the first condition required, He agreed, that Spain was forced into the transactions we complained of by France. That consideration was the cause of all our forbearance: but when there was Reason to think that France was about to exert its tyrannical influence further, to drive Spain into a. general war against us, and that the arina 403 ment preparing by Spain was destined to carry reinforcements to her foreign possessions, to render them more secure from us in the event of a war, it became our duty to take care, that if we were to go to war with Spain, we should not have to commence hostilities under circumstances of such disadvantage. The arguments which the hon. gent, used on this subject went counter to the whole language of the Spanish govt. That govt. allowed the existence of the armament, and the disturbances in Biscay were assigned as the cause to which object the forces were applied, when from the conduct pursued by his maj.'s govt. it became necessary to abandon the expedition. Repeated notice had been given to Spain, and every care had been taken on our side to prevent the effusion of blood, and to avoid hostile collision; notice had been given of the removal of ships of war from one port to another; and if notice was not given of the intention to detain the treasure ships, it was, as lord harrowby very properly said, because the communication would be useless to Spain if it did not reach that country in time; and the design would be rendered abortive if it did. The whole essence of the instructions given to Mr. Frere was to obtain security from the conduct of Spain, and to endeavour, by all consistent means, to bring the negotiation to an amicable issue. But while M. ဟAnduaga promised a strict and faithful neutrality here, British ships were seized in the ports of Spain, and a declaration of war published at Madrid. Indeed, through the whole negotiation, M. ဟAnduaga did nothing more than go over what had already been discussed with Mr. Frere, at Madrid, with this difference, that M. ဟAnduaga fell into some mistakes. Thus, whatever reasoning was contained in his note, war was declared by Spain on the ground of her alliance with France; and on that ground only. The substance of her convention with France was, that she should put the govt. of that country in possession of all her resources; and no greater proof need be required how much Spain is under the dominion of France, than the apprehension which she had of the danger of disclosing the terms of the convention. He therefore thought himself fully borne out, when he sat down in the full conviction, that the influence of France was the cause of the war which this country had most studiously and perseveringly endeavoured to avoid. 404 Earl Temple thought that his noble friend had misconceived the argument of the hon. gent. who preceded him. His right hon. relation (Mr. Pitt) had also brought forward his great abilities, not so much to shew what was the cause of the war, as to argue what might be the causes of war with Spain. For his part, he thought we had no right to keep our causes of war against Spain in our pockets, till we thought it convenient to produce them; he thought we should have dealt fairly and openly with that country, and have let them know on what terms we were content to maintain peace with them, and for what we should make war with them. Instead of that, our ministers told them, if you do so, we will make war with you; but they do not say, if you did not do so we will let you have, peace. He did not deny that there might have been good causes of war, but in the real cause for which we. were now at war, he conceived that government was much to blame. His lordship contended, that when ministers had once abandoned the treaty of St. Hdefonso, they could not commence hostilities by resuming its stipulations as their ground. They should have either adhered to it, and enforced its principles, or having departed from it, they could not stand justified in recurring to it for the purpose of answering the exigency of the moment. But the noble lord and his right hon. relation thought that a new cause of war had arisen from the circumstance of the substitution of money for ships and men. He differed from them, however, in supposing that they could, by any possible construction, recur at all to the treaty of St. Hdefonso as a justifiable ground for declaring war. He must again remind the house that the treaty had been previously abandoned altogether, on which account he was decidedly of opinion that it could not be afterwards taken up as a cause of war. From this view of the subject, it was impossible for him to allow his maj.'s ministers as much merit as they wished to claim, for their forbearance and humane feelings towards Spain.—After a variety of observations upon the papers before the house, he remarked with considerable strength, on the first effort so lord Harrowby on his entrance into office, when he applied to Mr. Frere, not to learn the progress of the negotiation, or the state in which matters stood between Spain and England fairly considered, but to learn whether all the treasure ships were 405 come home. Ministers had taken great credit to themselves for their anxious desire to prevent hostilities, arid to avert the shedding of blood; but if any-one measure wals more calculated than another to promote what they professed to deprecate, it was the very, measure they had adopted by the order they sent. For if they had ordered a superior force to meet those frigates, then it would not have been incumbent on the Spanish admiral to fight for the sake of his honour: but what did they do? They dispatched only an equal force; the consequence of which was that blood was shed, without any advantage whatever having been produced to this country. He could not conceive how ministers could speak with such coolness of the blowing up of 300 men, women, and children. When he recollected this, he was surprised to hear them talk of preventing the effusion of blood. He should take the liberty also of calling the attention of the house to the instruction sent by lord Harrowby to Mr. Frere, which imported, that if he succeeded' in procuring the disarmaments in the ports of Spain, according to the stipulations of the original treaty, then he might notify to the Spanish court, that a minister should be sent to that country from G. Britain, in order to settle the other points at issue, but which should be reserved for consideration till the arrival of the new ambassador. It was extremely remarkable, however, that although Mr. Frere had been completely successful and had procured not only a discontinuance of all armaments in Ferrol and other ports, but an assurance of the most friendly disposition towards this Country; yet, notwithstanding, it was very strange he should have quitted Madrid. He felt it his duty, therefore, to state to the house, that he protested most solemnly against commencing and carrying on a war without any fixed principle; that he pro tested against the detention of the Spanish frigates, and abhorred the policy which had been the cause of the shedding so much blood: in fine, he protested against a system of aggression and unprovoked hostility, be cause he thought each of those considerations greatly injurious, not only to the interest but also to the character of the country.
The Advocate General
(Sir John Nicholl) entered at considerable length into a discussion of the merits of the case on the part of our govt. as their conduct appeared to him to be countenanced and 406 authorised by the established usage or law of nations. This law was not to be found in any official document, which was universally agreed upon or enacted for that purpose. Our opinions on this subject were be guided by the following criteria: 1st, the sound deductions of natural reason; 2dly, the authority of the most eminent men; and 3dly, the most general practice observed by civilized nations when placed in circumstances similar to those, on the propriety or impropriety of which we have to bring our minds to a decision. In a plain, reasonable view of the subject, it if admitted that the treaty of St. Hdefonso was in itself a just and sufficient cause of war. The principle of self-defence which is so deeply implanted in the breast of man, was further roused by a consideration of the circumstances which followed. The force for which they had stipulated was to be commuted for a pecuniary aid to an immense extent. There were other terms extorted by the threats of general Bournonville, but which were never explained to us. We had another and a most important reason which prompted us to adopt precautionary measures, that was the mission of Mr. Le Brun, a naval officer. The object of that mission the prince of peace would not disclose to our Ambassador; but it was truly and obviously meant to procure the egress of the French and Spanish ships, and to render them more secure in their passage to some of the northern ports of France. From these observations there could be little doubt that they intended to act together. If so, this was an infraction of the supposed convention or agreement, which was understood to have existed between the two countries, and we had a reasonable ground for war. It then naturally followed, that we should feel ourselves particularly entitled to seize on that description of property which otherwise most probably would have been sent to replenish the coffers of our enemy. In this we did not out step the bounds prescribed by the most eminent writers on the law of nations, All writers from Vattel to Martens, who is one of the most modern on the subject, have agreed that if an injury be received, or an injustice done, and that explanation is demanded on the one side, and refused on the other if there is a notice given to the power so refusing, that, if such conduct is persisted in, it will be considered as a sufficient cause of war. If after this solemn, warning as 407 the writers on this subject observe, that power shall continue those acts which are deemed acts of aggression, and shall still withhold all explanation on the subject, hostilities against her will then be founded in the principles of justice. An hon. gent. had compared this conduct between two nations to similar conduct between man and man; this however was erroneous. An individual illegally threatened with a premeditated attack by another, would find protection and redress by appealing to the tribunals of the law. It was not so in national disputes: if one country perceived that another had assumed a fighting attitude, and that her own destruction, or any serious injury to her was threatened, she then had no recourse but that of putting herself into a similar posture, and endeavouring to give the first blow instead of receiving it, as most probably would otherwise have been the case. Every publicist of eminence has declared that we have a right to make use of the principle of fear to compel other nations to accede to our just demands. If this has not the weight which we calculated it would have with them, there was no alternative but that of having recourse to arms. That such a line of conduct should be adopted and acted upon pending a negociation, when all the other circumstances already mentioned were connected with it, was not without a precedent in the general conduct of civilized nations. On the contrary, it would be found that in almost every instance where it was thought necessary during the course of the last century, this was the general practice of this country, and of all other powers of Europe. In 1718, when Sir George Byng was sent to preserve the neutrality of Italy, a similar step was thought expedient, and was of course adopted. He did not want to conceal that an outcry was raised by Spain against the manner of proceeding, and that some persons in that House also protested against the measure. But the wisdom of the House over-ruled the objections, and the action was commended as a measure of necessary precaution. In 1726, admiral Hosier was sent to cruize off Porto Bello, and an attack was made on Gibraltar, though war was not declared for six weeks after. Even the attack on Gibraltar, was not considered as a total rupture. In 1739, the Spaniards seized all British vessels on their coast, even though contrary to an express article, 408 when they were apprehensive that we would otherwise inflict on them the first mark of the commencement of hostilities. In 1744, we sent a fleet to attack the French fleet off Dungeness, and yet there had been no previous declaration of war. In 1755, we seized all the French ships in our ports, and yet there were no reprisals for several months after. In 1761, the French in their, projet proposed, that all prizes before the declaration of war, should be restored as being taken contrary to the law of nations, but this was refused, upon the ground that they were not taken contrary to the law of nations. Inl762,the king of Spain ordered all English ships in his ports to be detained three weeks before a declaration of war. In the last war we seized Dutch property 9 months before a declaration, and the battle of Copenhagen also took place prior to a declaration of war. After producing several other instances, I do trust, said the hon. and learned gent. that from all these cases, it will be evident to the majority of this House and the bulk of the people of this country, that our honour is safe, and that we have not been guilty of a breach of the law of nations. I cannot but lament that any gentleman should think it his duty to put upon record a long argument which tends to make the nations of Europe believe that we are engaged in a war of injustice. I do trust that France and her proud ruler will find that the spirit of the people of England is as high as it was at any former period, and that we will consent to no peace, but such as provides for the permanent security of this country and of Europe.
§ Mr. Windham
said, that he was ready to follow the learned gent, who had just sat down by entering fully into the subject, if it should not be the pleasure of the house to accede to the proposition he had to submit, for an adjournment of the disscussion. This proposition would not, he hoped, be resisted, as it must be obvious from the lateness of the hour, and from the number of gentlemen who were anxious to deliver their opinions upon the important subject under consideration, that it would be impossible to bring the debate to a close in the course of the night. The right hon. gent. concluded with moving, that this house do now adjourn.
The Chanc. of the Excheq.
said, that although it was his wish, that if possible, the, debate should be brought to a conclusion in the course of this night; yet as> there were 409 many gentlemen still anxious to speak upon this subject, and whose sentiments the house and the country would be naturally desirous to know, he should not object to the accommodation proposed.—Adjourned at 2 o'Clock.