§ The order of the day for taking into consideration the Prince Regent's Message being read, the Message was read by the clerk at the table. After which,
The Earl of Liverpool
rose and observed, that when he stated that the question he was about to submit to their lordships' consideration was that of peace or war, it was unnecessary to say more to convince them that the subject was the most momentous that could possibly come before them for discussion and determination: but, momentous as that question was at all times, and under any circumstances, he was ready to admit, that at this particular period it was more peculiarly important and awful. Deeply feeling, as he did, that war was an alternative always to be avoided if possible, that urgent necessity alone could justify any government in having recourse to it, and that the existence of such a necessity was ever to be seriously deplored, he was aware that, independent of these considerations—independent of the general desire that ought always to prevail to avoid that extremity, there were circumstances, which rendered the alternative of war more peculiarly to be deprecated. After the protracted course of hostilities in which this country had been engaged, after the years, the long series of years, in which we had been driven to carry on the contest almost without intermission, when at length the period arrived which promised the nation a secure and glorious rest from its toils, when the tempest which had convulsed the civilized world to its foundation had at last subsided, and left behind it the animating prospect of a long and peaceful serenity to repair its ravages; it was undoubtedly most deeply to be lamented that any thing should have occurred to destroy these hopes of tranquillity, and compel us again to have recourse to arms, and to renew the contest against that power and that system which had been the parent of such tremendous calamities. He himself was deeply impressed with this feeling, and he was sure the House must be impressed with the same feeling, that after an incessant struggle of between 23 and 24 years, after the convulsions which had agitated the nations of Europe, the changes which had taken 317 place in the relations and habits of the different states owing to these perpetual wars, it would have been an object most devoutly to be wished, that some respite, some few years of repose should be vouchsafed to the exhausted nations, that some time should be allowed them to recover from the fatigue of their exertions, to recruit their strength, to repair their resources, and to return to the habits and comforts of peace and tranquillity. He had no difficulty in saying, that no secondary object, no minor concern, no common danger or inconvenience could, under these circumstances, form a justifiable ground for the revival of this already long-protracted and eventful contest. It would have been wise to endure much, to risk much, to put up with no small degree of inconvenience, and even injustice, as far as that could be submitted to with honour, in order to secure the blessings of repose. If the state of things in France had been settled in such a manner as to afford any reasonable, security for the continuance of peace, without the most imminent danger of destruction to the independence of the other nations of Europe, even though they were not settled in that way which might be considered as most favourable to the particular interests of France itself, as well as to the general interests of Europe, he should say that under the circumstances in which this country and many of the continental Powers stood, hostilities ought not to be re-commenced. He thought it right at the outset of the observations which he had to submit to their lordships, thus to state openly and fairly what his impression was as to the general principle; and he did so in order to show that he was not insensible to the disadvantages of engaging in war at any time, and more particularly at the present moment: but the question now was, whether from the long and lamentable experience which we had had of the system which had been invariably pursued by the Government now existing in France, they could entertain any reasonable hope whatever that treaties would be regarded, or that violence and aggression would be refrained from for a longer period than that which would be necessary effectually to prepare the means for the renewal of the same course which had already brought upon Europe such dreadful calamities. The question now was, whether it was possible for us to remain at peace, and to enjoy the advantages of peace. It was the duty of their 318 lordships undoubtedly to deliberate well, before they yielded to the conviction, that the awful necessity existed of again engaging in war, and adding to those burthens which war had already laid upon the country. Their lordships would take care not to give their sanction to the revival of hostilities, if the evils of war could be avoided consistently with the honour and safety of the nation. Such being his own feelings as to that view of the question, he was ready at the same time to declare his opinion on the other hand, that, if the circumstances of the case were such that it was impossible to rely for a moment on the disposition of the existing Government of France to refrain from aggression, so as to permit this country to enjoy the advantages of peace with safety, then no impolitic love of repose should deter us from boldly looking at our real situation, and manfully meeting the difficulty, even if it could only be met by war.
Having submitted these observations, as to the motives which in his judgment should influence the general views of the House upon any question of war, he had now to request their lordships' attention to the grounds upon which this particular question was proposed for their consideration. First, then, as to the justice of the war referred to in the Message; and this justice was to be viewed with reference to the character of Buonaparté, as well as with regard to the nature of our relations with our Allies. If former discussions were within the recollection of the House, if the conduct of Buonaparté were hot altogether forgotten, he could not feel that it would be at all necessary to labour this part of the question. Yet there were some points from which he could not properly abstain with reference to Buonaparté, especially when it was considered, that the present slate of things in France, which obliged us to resort to the alternative of war, was owing to that individual's resumption of the Government, in direct Violation of the express provisions of a solemn Treaty. He was aware, that it had been alleged that this Treaty was violated towards Buonaparté himself; but even if that allegation were correct, he was prepared to maintain that it would not justify the conduct of that person. Into the merits of that allegation, however, he was not on this occasion disposed to enter; but, admitting the fact of the violation, still he would contend, that, according to no established principle of 319 political morality—according to no writer upon the law of nations, was Buonaparté justified in violating his Treaty with the Allies, for they could not be even stated to be any party to the alleged violation towards him. Of that violation, indeed, they were not apprised, until Buonaparté's obligations towards them were totally set aside, and therefore the violation since complained of on his part, offered no justification for his conduct with respect to them. If any representation had been made to the Allies by Buonaparté, before his departure from Elba, upon the subject of the violation complained of, and he had not in consequence obtained any redress, then he might have preferred a charge against the Allies, and pleaded that charge as some justification of his own departure from the contract. But, in point of fact, no such representation was made; and, therefore, as it was not the existence of injury, but the refusal of redress, which, in a case of this nature, could constitute any fair ground of complaint, the alleged violation of the Treaty with Buonaparté could furnish no justification for his breach of Treaty with the Allies. But the fact was, that although this alleged violation of Treaty with Buonaparté had been so much animadverted upon in France, and elsewhere, since that individual's departure from Elba, that person himself never mentioned or alluded to any such reason for his conduct in any of the proclamations which he published upon his first invasion of the French territory. On the contrary, he distinctly stated in these proclamations, that he returned to France in order to resume the authority from which he had withdrawn in a moment of difficulty. Thus no allusion whatever was made to that violation of Treaty, which had been since set up by his partisans as a justification for the conduct of Buonaparté in returning to France. But it was his firm opinion, that Buonaparté had no such justification in his view when he returned to France. On the contrary, he fully believed that that person had always that return in contemplation, even including the time when he executed the Treaty of Fontainbleau and signed his abdication. Buonaparté in fact disregarded any such justification. He had deliberately determined to violate the Treaty under which he abdicated; and in returning to France, he had committed that violation, not in any minor or comparatively unimportant provision, but radically and essentially in its very spirit and principle, 320 and that without any defalcation whatever on the part of the Allies towards that individual.
In order to comprehend the principle of the Treaty thus violated by Buonaparté, he had only to call their lordships' recollection to the transactions which took place at Paris in the months of April and May 1814. From those transactions, the grounds upon which Buonaparté abdicated, could be easily understood. But before the Allies entered Paris a proclamation was issued, declaratory of their resolution not to treat with Buonaparté. He did not think it necessary to enter into any defence of the conduct of the Allies at Paris; but it would be recollected, that Buonaparté's déchéance, or forfeiture of the throne of France, was proclaimed to be the fundamental condition of peace with France. This condition was, indeed, distinctly stated in the preambles to the two Treaties concluded at Paris in 1814, because the maintenance of that condition was felt to be essential to the security of peace, and upon the establishment of this, condition the Allied armies consented to evacuate France. From these documents, then, and from a review of the whole of the proceedings alluded to, it would be seen that the exclusion of Buonaparté from the Government of France was the main principle of the Treaty by which that person and France were pledged to the Allies. Upon the recognition of that principle indeed, and the restoration of the Bourbons, the Allies granted much, better terms to France than would otherwise have been conceded; and this grant was made under the calculation, that the change would afford such a security for the observance of the Treaty and for the general tranquillity of Europe, as could not be looked for under the Government of Buonaparté. But from the whole bearing of these transactions, as well as from the specific terms of the Treaty of Fontainbleau, it mast be obvious, that the fundamental principle and main object of the Allies was the dissolution of the Government of Buonaparté. This dissolution, then, was not a minor or a subordinate part of the Treaty, but formed its very essence; and therefore Buonaparté, by his return to France, fundamentally violated his Treaty with the Allies. Thus, that individual had absolved the Allies from all obligation towards him, and furnished a full justification for placing themselves in a state of war with regard to France.
321 So far as to the justice of the war against France, upon which he trusted he had satisfied the House; but, then, another question remained to be considered, namely, whether the war would be just with regard to this country, that is, with reference to the interest of our own subjects. With a view to this branch of the subject, it would be for their lordships to decide this question, whether the war was necessary on our part. That it was necessary under all the circumstances of our situation—that the case formed a paramount call upon us to engage in war from a sense of our dearest interests—from a regard to our security and our honour, was his fullest conviction; that, indeed, that security and honour could not be provided for, nor the danger with which we were menaced effectually averted without opposing the common enemy, he had not the slightest doubt. The first question which naturally occurred to every thinking mind upon Buonaparté's return from Elba and his resumption of the Government of France, was this, whether there could be any security for peace with that country, so long as that individual retained his power? and if not, the next question was, whether it would be safe or politic to delay our attack upon that power? As to the first question, we had the melancholy advantage of long experience to guide our judgment. We had ample opportunity of observing this person's conduct for fourteen years. We were not called to decide upon his character from any ordinary act of ambition or instance of misconduct. No—for we had witnessed, on the part of this individual, decisive proofs of the most unbounded ambition—we had found that no Treaty concluded by this person was observed for a moment longer than it suited his convenience—that every engagement entered into by him was violated—that he was a man whom no success could satisfy, and whom no disappointment could indispose towards that system of aggrandizement upon which his mind was bent, and which was evidently inconsistent with the tranquillity and general liberty of Europe. When the French Revolution took a turn towards foreign conquest—when vanity prompted the Revolutionists to declare what they presumptuously called the natural limits of France, extending to the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Rhine, and the Ocean, it was the good fortune of Buonaparté to become the instrument for grati- 322 fying this extraordinary pretension, by concluding the Treaty of Luneville. By this Treaty every reflecting man in this country was naturally alarmed; for such an extension of territory formed a just cause of alarm—but the avowed object of French ambition being accomplished, some calculation was entertained of future tranquillity. What, however, was the subsequent conduct of the maker of the Treaty of Luneville? By that Treaty, the independence of the Cisalpine, the Ligurian, the Batavian and Helvetic Republics was solemnly recognized; but, notwithstanding that recognition, this systematic violator of treaties invaded all these Republics, and either actually incorporated them with France, or placed them in a state of dependence upon his own power. It was impossible, then, for Europe to look to such a man for the observance of any treaties or contracts. But, independently of the conduct of Buonaparté in those instances—independently of what Holland and Italy had suffered through his violation of faith, let their lordships look to his proceedings throughout, and it would be found, that no degree of friendly adherence, or even servile submission, could conciliate his fidelity or gratify his ambition. Let their lordships look to Spain, where he had experienced, in fact, the most abject subserviency, where all the naval and military force of the country had been actually placed at the disposal of France: yet those circumstances were not sufficient to neutralize the system of Buonaparté; therefore a revolution was excited through his machinations, by which the Government was overthrown, and the present King placed upon the throne of Spain. But let their lordships look to his subsequent proceedings, even, to the Government of his own contrivance. The members of that Government were by his treachery seduced into and committed to prison in France, while his army was dispatched to invade Spain. Thus it was evident, that neither friendship nor submission could disarm the purpose or avert the arbitrary views of this individual. It was not with him "Parcere subject is et debellare superbos;" for he bore down on all alike, whether weak or strong, sub-missive or hostile. From the whole of his acts, indeed, it was obvious that the desire of power, and a thirst for dominion, formed this person's predominant passion, to which passion every consideration of morality and good faith was unreluctantly 323 sacrificed. Who, then, could entertain a doubt, that a state of peace and the existence of the government of such a man were utterly incompatible?
If the view which he had taken of the conduct of this individual previous to his abdication were correct, he would ask, whether any thing had since occurred that could induce a rational calculation that any change had taken place in his disposition—that his nature had been altered? It was clear, that those, by whom Buonaparté was aided in the resumption of the Government of France did not calculate upon any such change. But it was said, that this individual returned to France in consequence of the call of the nation. This, however, he was by no means prepared to admit; on the contrary, his opinion was, that Buonapart's resumption of power was seconded only by the soldiery, together with such discontented persons as were to be found under any government whatever. But there was every reason to believe that the nation at large was contented with the government of Louis 18, under which government they had certainly much better reason to look for liberty and happiness than could be expected under that of its predecessor. The French army, however, had different views; that army felt that its thirst for glory and plunder was not so likely to be gratified under the Government which Buonaparté was called upon to displace. The soldiers preferred a military chief, because they wished for a military government—because they knew that the principles of that chief and his government would better serve to gratify their ambition. The age of Buonaparté had, however, he had heard, been stated as a reason to warrant the calculation of a material change in his disposition and practice, as if the addition of two years to the age at which that individual invaded Moscow could be supposed to effect such a change; and what was the evidence of his disposition then? Ambition was at all times a crime, although sometimes it proceeded from the excess of very noble and generous sentiments—although it sometimes existed in that heat and fervour of youth which the soberness and coolness of age generally served to moderate or subdue. But, taking into consideration the events which Europe had witnessed for the last fourteen years, considering the whole career of Buonaparté, was it possible to Calculate upon such a change in the dis- 324 position of a man, who, after signing a solemn act of abdication and entering into a treaty with the Allies, within the last year returned to France, in violation of his plighted faith? Who could calculate that such a man was so altered that his ambitious views were abandoned, that he would be satisfied with the mere government of France if he had the means of extending his power, and that the world could safely look to such a man for the preservation of peace?
But it was said, that a limited government being now established in France, we might look to that government for the security of peace, although we could not expect any security from the disposition of Buonaparté himself. This, however, he could not help pronouncing quite an absurd speculation: first, because no such limited government was established; and secondly, because if it were, he could by no means calculate upon its stability or power to control the wishes of Buonaparté. As to the establishment of a limited government in France, he had no hesitation in stating it as a general proposition, that however happily such a government was found to work in this country, great difficulty would be found in the application of its principles to France. But whether this proposition were well founded or not, he could not think it reasonable to speculate, that any such government in France would be at all likely to impose any material control upon the will of its present ruler, who notoriously derived his authority from the sword—from that, in fact, by which he would endeavour to maintain that authority, and to secure the support of which, he would be obviously called upon to indulge in views of conquest and ambition. Whatever hopes might be entertained of the establishment of a popular or limited government in France, which would place the sword in its proper station, under the united and paternal sway of Louis 18, whose restoration was therefore peculiarly desirable for the interest of the French people; it was quite preposterous to look for such a government under its present ruler, with whom it was evident that the sword must be predominant.
Under all these circumstances, he was decidedly of opinion that Europe could not look for the security of peace while Buonaparté presided over the government of France. But it was said, that even admitting the existence of the danger at- 325 tributed to Buonaparté's resumption of power, and the little probability under such circumstances that peace could long continue, still a trial should be made in order to avoid the great calamities of war—that it would be better to make even an experiment upon peace, than to incur the certain evils of war. That danger arose out at the return of Buonaparté to France, could not now be disputed: for the existence of that danger was distinctly admitted in the terms upon which the Address, in answer to a former Message from the Prince Regent, was agreed to by all sides of the House. This danger, indeed, formed the ground upon which that Address was voted, and therefore he had this night no occasion to argue, that great danger and risk were produced by the event alluded to, against which it was admitted on all hands that it was necessary for this country to make warlike preparations. Nothing had since occurred to warrant any change in the sentiment of the House, unless their lordships could rely upon the mere word of Buonaparté, which reliance the noble earl said he assumed to be quite impossible; therefore the House had now only two alternatives, either war or a state of warlike preparation. Then, the question was, whether their lordships would remain in that state of preparation and consequent alarm, taking the chance of peace, or resort to the alternative of actual war? Whether their lordships would determine to engage in war at present with a reasonable prospect of success, or make a trial of peace, and postpone the war to another period when that prospect might disappear? In considering this question, there was a material feature in existing circumstances, to which he begged particularly to direct their lordships attention. Fortunately for the cause of Europe, Buonaparté had returned to France while the Allies were assembled in deliberation at Vienna, before any of the Allied Powers had placed their forces upon a peace establishment, before any measures had been taken which could render a concert or co-operation of the European Powers a matter of difficulty. We had the satisfaction to know the sentiments of the several Powers of Europe, and that they were all actuated by one mind upon the present emergency. The question then was, whether, under such circumstances, we should at present make an effort to remove the admitted danger of Buona- 326 parté's government, or by delay let that individual have an opportunity of establishing his power within, of recreating his army and repressing any discontent or disposition to resist him, which may prevail in France, while the Allies should return to their respective dominions, and possibly or probably reduce their armies to a peace establishment? Thus, by waiting, Buonaparté would be enabled to collect and organize his means, while the means of the Confederacy would be dispersed and become very difficult again to be collected when war might become unavoidable; and that man must be lost to all experience who could calculate that Buonaparté would hesitate to strike the blow when his means should be prepared, and when he was likely to find the object of his attack unprepared to meet him. Few cases, if any, had occurred in history in which such a formidable confederacy existed as the alliance at present presented; and would their lordships hesitate to aid that confederacy against a great danger—against a danger admitted by their own unanimous vote? All who recollected the history of the late war, must be aware of the unsuccessful efforts made to repel the common enemy; and why were those efforts unsuccessful? Because we had not been able, until a late period, to produce a general confederacy of the great Powers of Europe. Some of these Powers had no doubt made great and glorious efforts in the common cause, while others, however, declined to co-operate, or were not, perhaps, prepared to act. It was known to their lordships, that some of the greatest statesmen this country had ever produced, had long laboured to procure a confederacy of the states of Europe, to resist the alarming views of the French government. Yet it was not until the year 1813 that this desirable object was obtained, and that confederacy was found to be successful. With those examples in their recollections—with that confederacy still existing—and with the danger which it had before put down again revived—would their lordships agree to the dispersion of that confederacy, and thus afford an opportunity for the aggravation of the danger, rather than make a prompt and decided effort against that danger, with such means as might never again be collected, especially where a justifiable cause of war existed? France had violated the fundamental principle of the Treaty of Paris, and had es- 327 tablished a government inconsistent with the peace and tranquillity of Europe. We had now an opportunity of suppressing that government; and if we forego that opportunity, a similar one might never occur again. We had such a danger to apprehend, as would justify us in making use of our strength to provide for our permanent security.
In this great subject, which embraced so many questions, there remained one which it would not be just to pass over—he meant the objection which might be raised against the commencement of war at present, because, at the time of the negociations of Chatillon, in March 1814, this Government and his Majesty's Allies were willing to have made peace with the present ruler of France. Such, he admitted, was the disposition of the Allied Powers at that time, and their conduct on that occasion he was prepared to justify. It was, in the first place, to be recollected, that not only was the present ruler of France at that time the undisputed Sovereign of that country, but before the occupation of Bordeaux by the British troops, no manifestation whatever had been made in the interior of France to resist his power. All the circumstances of peace with him had been at that time fully considered by the Government of this country and by the Allied Powers; and to that extent had the consideration been carried, that instructions had been sent to his noble friend (lord Castlereagh), who was employed in those negociations, in certain contingencies to raise a question as to the title of Napoleon Buonaparté to the government of France. But at the time alluded to (March 17, 1814) the question was one of undisputed possession; while at the present time there was every reason to believe, that great part of the people of France were adverse to him. The absence of any internal resistance at that time might have been enough to justify the Allies in concluding a peace with him; but if the question had rested on that alone, they might have thought it expedient to continue further their military operations. But it was not only on his undisputed sovereignty in France, but on other considerations of prudence and policy that the Government of this country and its Allies were influenced in their conduct towards him; for though it was perfect true that the troops of this country, under own great Commander, 328 and the other Allies, had performed the most brilliant achievements—though they had expelled the armies of the enemy from Germany and entered into the heart of France, it was never to be forgotten (and without this point we could never duly consider the question), that the ruler of France was then in possession of the military holds of the rest of Europe—Alexandria, Mantua, Turin, and even Genoa, the fortresses on the Rhine, the principal strong places on the Elbe, Maestricht, Antwerp, Bergen-op-Zoom—in short, all the principal fortresses of Italy, Germany, Flanders, and Holland, were in his possession. There was a great deal of laudable feeling, which might sometimes degenerate into passion, on the subject of treating with Buonaparté at that time; but those who coolly and prudentially considered the risks and dangers at that time, must have seen that any great calamity which had befallen the Allies, any great turn of fortune in favour of Napoleon, would not only have had the effect of delivering France, on which the Allies had no hold, but would have again placed all the West of Europe under his power and domination. As it had been said of the Netherlands, that they were won by one victory and lost by one defeat, so a victory at that time would have given Buonaparté military possession of any part of Europe, and he might have pursued his operations at his will in Italy, Flanders, Germany, or Holland. Important, therefore, as was the overthrow of the power of Buonaparté, the Allies did not feel themselves justified in sacrificing the greater danger to the less, but thought it more advisable to make peace on the terms which they proposed, by which they would have obtained possession of all the fortresses of Italy, Germany, and Holland, than have incurred the risk of a reverse, which might have been attended, at that time, with consequences so immediate and so dreadful. This consideration, added to the circumstance, that Buonaparté possessed the undisputed sovereignty of France, was a justication of the proceedings of the Allies in that instance, neither of which justifications existed at the present moment.
An important consideration in the question of war and peace at the present time, was the chance which we had of success. To this he could merely answer, that whatever was our chance of success, we should never find a confederation more 329 strong, more zealous, or more united, than that of which we formed a part; and that if this confederation was dissolved, there was no prospect that such an alliance could ever be again formed. He should also observe, that he should not have fulfilled his duty, according to his own conception of it, if he had presented himself to the House without having consulted the greatest military characters of the different Allied Powers, as to the prospect of success with the means which would be placed at their disposal; and the result was, that though the event of every war was uncertain and in the hands of Providence, yet as far as human means, dispositions, and judgment could go, we might rely on success. His own confidence alone, however strong it was, as well at present as during the late contest, which confidence had been justified by the result, would have been an insufficient ground for the judgment of the House to rest on; but in the opinions of all the great military characters of the Allied Powers their lordships might confidently rely. But they were also to inquire what alternative was proffered them? None other but an armed peace—a feverish state of suspense, to which that repose and tranquillity which had formerly been held synonimous with peace, would be foreign. They had to look to a peace with a war establishment—a state not the less calamitous, because this country had had experience of it. It was not to be denied, that there were circumstances in which an armed peace would be preferable to war; such circumstances had existed, and he might have preferred such a course in the present instance, if the Allied Powers were not prepared for war, or were indisposed to enter into it. In these cases, notwithstanding the great inconveniencies of a state of armed peace, he should have preferred it to war, and should have waited for more favourable times. But the question was before them now, not while the Allies were unprepared, unripe, and divided, but when one sentiment prevailed among them in favour of war. That resolution having been come to, the present was the moment to strike effectually. We had now the means to avert the danger; but if we delayed to strike, the danger would continue, but our means would cease to exist.
With regard to economy, he, as much as any man, was disposed to give full weight to that consideration; and if the 330 state of our finances was of importance at any time, it was of the greater importance while the arrears of a former war remained unpaid. The true question, however, was, whether we should commence the contest at the present moment, or under circumstances which must arise out of a long continuance in a state of armed peace? Peace, with a peace establishment, no man could now think of; but if we were to have the expenses of war in peace, and in the end be obliged to enter into active war, we should find, in a few years, that such a course would be as little wise on principles of economy as on every other principle which he had developed. If there was a question of which all the branches should be fully considered before a decision was come to, it was the present. He had before stated, in answer to a question which had been put to him, that it was not the desire of the Prince Regent's Government to goad the Allies into a war. When he had stated that disposition, it was not from any doubt as to the policy which it was proper to pursue, but lest it should be imputed to his Majesty's Government, that they had taken advantage of the first feeling of the Allies to hurry them to a decision which they might have afterwards regretted, or to precipitate them into hostilities which they might afterwards have wished had been avoided. So contrary to this had been the conduct of the Government, that even after the Allies had seemed to have decided, when circumstances had occurred which might have made a difference in that decision, his Majesty's Government was anxious that the former judgment should be reconsidered under those new circumstances; not that they supposed it would alter the decision, nor from a doubt, that their first impressions were well founded, but in order that a war, which must be attended with such serious consequences to one or other of the contending parties, might be entered upon after a most mature consideration of all the circumstances. The contest, the commencement of which he should that night call on their lordships to sanction, was one which had been entered into from the best motives, and under the best auspices. Wars were at times commenced for purposes of ambition, under the pretence of security, or specious pretexts with some other name. But the present contest, he believed he could speak for all the Allied Powers, but most certainly for Great Bri- 331 tain, was entered upon from no idea of any other interest than the general peace and security of Europe. There was no desire on the part of any of the confederates to see the power of France abridged, to curtail her dominion, or to diminish her resources; their only wish was to see a Government established, which might afford to Europe and the world a possibility of remaining at peace. As to the re-establishment of the Bourbons in that country, he acknowledged it was an object dear to his heart, not only on principles of feeling, which he was not ashamed to avow, but because it would afford the best chance of repose to Europe. During the negociations at Chatillon in the last year, there was no manifestation of sentiments in France against its present Ruler, and in favour of the family of the Bourbons, but at the present time he had the best reason to believe, that a great majority—that three-fourths of the people of France were desirous of the return of their King. As far as could be collected from the evidence of the best informed persons, the South, the West, and the North of France were completely in favour of the family of the Bourbons. With a knowledge of this fact, and with the full conviction that the general security of Europe would be best consulted by the re-establishment of Louis 18, he should be ashamed if he did not avow, that he sincerely wished for that event. But at the same time he acknowledged, that no government had a right to dictate to another country what government it should choose. If it was the deliberate opinion of a people to reject any particular government, there was no power which could interfere to force them into subjection to it. But the nations of Europe had a right to interfere to overthrow a government, the establishment of which might be inconsistent with their peace and security. The nations of Europe could say to France, not what government she should have, but what she should not have. The distinction was clear and self-evident; and the right was manifest, more especially when the conditions of peace had been more favourable on account of the establishment of a government, the good faith, and character of which enabled Europe to look forward to tranquillity and repose. The sentiments of the Alliance on this point were most unanimous, and were most ably stated in the dispatch from lord Clancarty, which he had last night had the honour of communicating to the 332 House. The question which their lordships should put to themselves on the present occasion was, Whether there could be any prospect of peace with the present Government of France: or whether to the removal of that Government alone we could look forward for security? The cooperation of this country in this great work was most important; and if their lordships conceived that the alliance was founded on just principles of policy, they could not wish that this country, from principles of selfish policy, should take, on itself all the odium and responsibility which it would incur, from an unwillingness to join in the great work of crushing, the greatest evil which had existed within the memory of man. It was not on calculations alone, which in ordinary cases governed human policy, that the present contest was founded; but on a sentiment of common sense, by which every man must have said to himself—"While this state of things remains, I cannot be safe." Such must be the feeling of all classes of men in every nation. Such was the ground of a war which was to be carried on by means which had already done so. much,—by an alliance by which Europe had once been delivered, and a peace concluded which had once afforded a fair prospect of durability. The great work was once more to be commenced; and the event, he trusted, would be the tranquility of Europe, the peace of nations, and the establishment, on a firm basis, of their rights, their liberties, and their independence. The noble earl then concluded with moving,
"That an humble Address be presented to his royal highness the Prince Regent, to return his Royal Highness the Thanks of this House for his most gracious Message, by which his Royal Highness has been pleased to inform us, that in consequence of the events which have occurred in France, in direct contravention of the Treaties concluded at Paris in the course of last year, his Royal Highness, had judged it necessary to enter into engagements with his Majesty's Allies, for the purpose of forming such a concert as present circumstances indispensably require, and as may prevent the revival of a system, which experience has proved to be incompatible with the peace and independence of the other nations of Europe.
"To make our acknowledgments to his Royal Highness, for having directed copies of the Treaties which have been 333 concluded to be laid before us; and to assure his Royal Highness, that he may confidently rely on the cordial support of this House in all measures which it may be necessary for his Royal Highness to adopt in conjunction with his Majesty's Allies, against the common enemy at this important crisis."
§ The question having been put,
§ Earl Grey
rose and said:—My lords; After a speech abounding in assertions, but very sparing of every sound and general view of those political considerations which should govern the decision of a British House of Parliament on the very important question which is this night to be submitted to its judgment; after a speech replete with confident anticipations of success, but not containing one single view of the opposite side of the question, and which has not contemplated the possibility of danger or of reverses, and which at last ended with a new principle in the discussion of grave questions of policy—an assertion that it is a question of feeling; the noble Earl has proposed an Address which merely re-echoes the Message from the throne. My lords, I hardly know how to describe the extraordinary situation in which the House and the country is now placed. The terms of the Message, and of the Treaties to which it refers, would seem to indicate that our situation is that of actual war, and that the vote which is this night proposed to us is called for to sanction the immediate Commencement of hostilities. But in answer to a question put by the last night, we were told by the noble earl, that hostilities are not yet commenced, and that though treaties are concluded, and have been communicated to your lordships, by which the present Ruler of France is described as a person with whom there can neither be peace nor truce; and though those declarations are sanctioned by which he is described as an outlaw—as a person against whom the arm of the law should be stretched forth, and even as a man against whom public vengeance may by any individual be directed; yet, not only hostilities are not commenced in their ordinary form by the issue of letters of marque and reprisal, but that we are so little in a state of war, that vessels oh their passage to supply with ammunition and provisions of war, places against which our attacks are to be directed, after having been detained, have been released from the ports of this country. I ask, then, in 334 what new situation are we to be placed? Are we to sanction these treaties which contain a declaration of war, without a possibility of truce or peace, and to leave it to the discretion of the Executive Government to act, or not to act, as they may think expedient, upon this tremendous declaration? The noble earl has also told us, that the ratification of the Treaty with Austria has not yet arrived, though he has at the same time assured us, that there is no doubt but that it will be shortly received. He has alluded, in support of his assertion, to the dispatch of lord Clancarty; and I admit, giving credit to that dispatch, that there is every reason to believe that the ratification will not ultimately be withheld. But until that ratification is received, the faith of Austria is not ultimately pledged; and if by any unforeseen accident or calamity her views should be altered, or her means impaired, she would still be at liberty to retrace her steps. This, I admit, is not probable though possible; nor is it a possibility which I much contemplate, though it certainly heightens the extraordinary situation in which we are placed, on the first declaration of an interminable war, under the circumstances which have been stated to your lordships.
This, however, is a Very unimportant part of the question, and I proceed to the consideration of those gronnds which the noble earl has brought forward to influence our decision. Those grounds are comprehended in two points—the first as to the right, the last as to the expediency of the commencement of a war—a fair and just division, by which the consideration of every question of this kind should be arranged. The first point, as to the right of going to war, the noble earl was pleased to take advantage of something that was said on a former occasion, to consider as one which it was not necessary for him to labour at any considerable length; and I must say that he has by no means satisfied me as to that question of right. He has stated that which is undeniably true, that all just wars must be undertaken in self-defence. It is not sufficient that we have a claim upon an enemy, but we must show that it is necessary to our security that we should enforce it; and if we add the qualification of justice to necessity, and say that a war is just and necessary, we must not use those attributes in a disjunctive sense—for 'justum bellum quibus 'necessarium, et pia arma quibus nisi in 335 'armis nulla relinquitur spes.' I allow that it is not incumbent on those who commence a war to show that they had no alternative but war, or immediate inevitable destruction. But, on the other hand, if the danger be remote, it should be clearly shown, that if it be not in time proceeded against, the evil may be serious—it must be shown, in fact, that the apprehension is sincere, and that it is not made use of as a screen, while the contest is really entered into under the dictation of some other motive. The apprehension which is necessary to justify war, cannot be better expressed than by those words by which, by our common law, the apprehension which justifies homicide is described—it must be a just apprehension, 'non quælibet suspicio vani et meticulosi 'hominis, sed qualis incidat in virum for-'term et pruderitem.' There is another point equally indisputable with those which I have stated, and of which all the writers on public law make mention, that when rights are violated, or wrongs inflicted, or danger threatened, a demand should be made for the re-establishment of the right, a reparation of the wrong, or security against the danger, before any power is justified in recurring to the last resort of arms, except when a danger is so imminent, that an immediate resort to arms is absolutely necessary. Those principles the noble earl has slated, and I venture to re-state them, for which I should apologize to the House; but these principles are the true test and criterion by which the war in which we shall, I fear, soon be engaged, must be tried. It cannot be said, that any act has been performed, any demand made, any aggression, any insult offered on the part of France, which demands reparation; nor can it be contended, that France has placed herself in such a menacing attitude as forms the ordinary justification of war, or which might give us a right to ask for further security than that which we possess. It we possess a right of war, it is from the violation of some treaties. The Treaty of Paris has been violated, the fundamental condition of which was the abdication of Buonaparté, a condition which has been held indispensable to our security. I am happy, my lords, that the noble earl has put the question on this ground; because he has thus avoided any contradiction of a most important principle, the right of every people to choose its own government. No one holds more 336 sacred than I do, the right of every people to choose a government suited to their own interests, of which they must be the best judges. But we must not discuss abstract general principles, but must consider them as they are affected by circumstances. By right all men are equal; but innumerable are the distinctions which the progress of social society has introduced. So by nature have all nations the right to choose their own government, as they are the best judges, and as there is no other power which has a right to control them. But this right thus generally stated cannot be maintained unqualified by any exceptions; and one evident condition under which nations have the right to choose their own government is this, that the government chosen must not be such as to be necessarily dangerous to any other state.
Let us, my lords, however, take care that in admitting this extensive exception. we do not so essentially injure the right as almost to destroy its existence. Is it every danger, that by remote possibility can occur, that can authorize us to interfere? I am sure the noble earl is too much attached to the general principles on which depend the security and independence of nations, to argue to that extreme. What then, let us inquire, are the dangers that will give us the right? First, I say, it must be that species of danger which is connected with the right, and to judge of it you. must resort to the experience of the conduct of government in all good times. What are the cases in which nations have felt themselves entitled to control the abstract right of others in this respect?. I have taken some pains in my examinations upon this point, and I have not been able to discover any danger that has been held adequate, but where great nations were to be so united in power and resources, as to be able to hazard the general security and interest of the rest. Your lordships are no doubt acquainted with the facts attending the Pragmatic Sanction and the War of the Succession, in which the right of interference with the choice of the people was claimed for the purpose of preventing an alteration of territorial possessions, that by the aggrandizement of one power might endanger the general interests of Europe. [His lordship here adverted to the historical facts relating to the Pragmatic Sanction formed under, Charles in 1724, and then proceeded.] What was the object 337 of that arrangement? To preserve entire the hereditary dominions of the House of Austria—against what? Against internal resolutions? No; but against foreign competitors who might take advantage of the weakness of the daughter of the Emperor, and put in claims like those made afterwards by the King of Prussia with regard to Silesia. The object of the Sanction, therefore, was distinctly this—to preserve the territories of the House of Austria in a state consistent with their own integrity and the security of the rest of Europe. The same was the object that gave rise to the War of the Succession. In the latter part of the reign of Charles 2, of Spain, great anxiety prevailed lest the Dauphin of France, who was the next heir, should succeed to that throne, and unite in himself the mighty kingdoms of France and Spain—a combination that was likely to endanger the general interests of the rest of Europe. What measures were taken to avert the evil? Two treaties of partition were formed under the sanction of King William, as I think unjustifiable in their principle, and ill calculated to effect the objects in view, making various arrangements with regard to the Italian and other dominions of Spain. To guard against the apprehended danger, an express provision, sanctioned by the Crown of France, was introduced, that at the death of Charles 2, the Dauphin should renounce his claim for what were held to be equivalent advantages. When, therefore, the King of Spain ceased to reign, and the duke of Anjou was to have succeeded, a legitimate ground of war was afforded for the purpose of preventing the junction of two powerful monarchies. I say, then, that this, like the Pragmatic Sanction, is not a case in point, for it rests upon the same general principle of resisting the union of two states that might by their joint powers over-run and subjugate the other nations of the continent.
But what was the conduct of the British Government at that juncture? Did King William, notwithstanding the abstract right he possessed, immediately declare war and insist upon a renunciation? No; on the contrary, they required securities; the strong places in the Netherlands were to be given up; Ostend and Nieuport were to be placed in the hands of King William; and above all, a guarantee was required, that no part of the Spanish dominions should be ceded to the Crown of 338 France. Here, then, you have, first, a recognition of the principle, that it was only an accession of territory, a dangerous, aggrandizement that was to be guarded against; next you find, that when the stipulations of the Treaty were not observed, securities were demanded and given; and lastly, a most useful caution is afforded against involving ourselves in wars of this description; for notwithstanding the vehement declaration of Parliament in its favour, even stronger than that of the noble earl this evening, the result proved that the dangers were more imaginary than real, and Europe enjoyed afterwards a repose of longer duration, and of greater security, than it had often before experienced. There is, however, another case, more recent and not less in point—I mean that of the Treaty of Paris itself, in which, in contemplation of the marriage of the Princess Charlotte with the Prince of Orange, it is provided, for the general security, that the successor to the Crown of England should not also hold the dominions of the House of Orange. Upon the general principle, for the safety of the whole, the other parties to the Treaty would have had a right of war, had its articles been broken by the marriage and the union of the two states.
What then, let us inquire, is the species of danger against which we have thus a right to provide? Is a danger arising from the personal existence and personal character of Buonaparté sufficient to authorize our interposition? I would ask, whether in the history of war, disfigured as it is by false pretences, such a principle was ever before heard of? I would ask, whether any writer in times comparatively civilized gives a single instance of a foreign power interfering to prevent the choice of a sovereign, on account of his personal character and qualities? Vattel, in referring to this point, is compelled to go back to fabulous times for an instance of a monster so odious from his personal qualities as to induce the interposition of a foreign nation to prevent his succession. This search for a precedent in barbarous ages reminds me of the late lord Loughborough, when Mr. Wedderburn, who on one occasion had justified a proceeding of Government by adverting to the destruction of Regulus, and ever afterwards it became a bye-word of ridicule, in opposing an argument of that kind, that the Solicitor-general had been particularly happy in the case of Regulus. But, my lords, I 339 am prepared to contend, that from the very nature of man, from the very condition of mortality, personal objections cannot be a justifiable ground of war: the dangers against which you would provide arise from political causes, and must be the same under all sovereigns. To revert to the case of Spain, to which I before referred, where opposition was given to the junction of Spain to France: the objection applied to the immense accumulation of power, and if the Sovereign of France had been the most pacific, unambitious prince the world had ever known, it could not have removed it, and for this obvious reason, that that power might, in the course of nature, devolve into the hands of a prince of a character directly opposite. Take, then, the converse of that case, and I argue, that the mere existence of a sovereign of an ambitious and warlike disposition cannot give you the right of war, and for this simple reason, that he is mortal; he is subject to the consequence of accident, disease, and age—death. From this natural cause you may have sufficient security to induce you to maintain the relations of peace.
Then we come to the question, whether under the Treaty you have that right of war, and then whether, admitting the right, it be expedient to insist upon it. I am willing to admit, with the noble earl, that the nature and extent of the obligation is to be collected, not from one instrument merely, but from all the treaties of Fontainbleau and Paris: but first let us examime the Treaty of Fontainbleau. I do not know whether the noble earl denies that there has been any breach of those engagements by the Allies, but he does contend that there has been no such breach as to justify the conduct of Buonaparté. If the noble earl argues, that the Allies have been guilty of no breach of the Treaty of Fontainbleau, I apprehend he undertakes a task of no ordinary difficulty. Does he mean to deny that the pension to Buonaparté has not been paid? Certainly not. Does he deny that the property of Buonaparté and his family has been sequestrated? Certainly not; and both those instances are direct breaches of the Treaty of Fontainbleau: but the first was vindicated upon the old hacknied ground, that it was required by reasons of state; and in answer to the second, it was said, that the property was taken in satisfaction of the debts of Buonaparté, when there was an express pro- 340 vision in the Treaty that those debts, should be paid out of the Civil List. There was, however, a third, and if possible, a more flagrant breach of the Treaty in respect to the archduchess and her son. Was it denied that it was intended to deprive her of the duchies of Parma, Placentia, and Guastalla? The conduct of the Allies with relation to this point was, in truth, most scandalous. Then, says the noble earl, none of these breaches can justify the conduct of Buonaparté, unless he can prove that he made a previous demand of satisfaction and redress, and this position he rests upon the authority of writers on the Laws of Nations. I am ready to contest that point with the noble earl, although I admit that, generally, there ought to be a demand of reparation before hostilities are declared; but in cases of breach of treaty, what is the opinion of Grotius, and after him of Vattel? Disclaiming the nice distinctions of the noble earl between essential and unessential articles, they state expressly, that the non-performance of a condition gives the party injured the option either to negociate for redress, or to hold the treaty utterly null and void. I say, then, that the conditions to be performed by the Allies being violated, Buonaparté had a right to consider himself absolved from the condition of his abdication, and the manner of proceeding in such a case depended upon his own judgment.
The noble earl has repeated to-night, with great triumph, an argument over and over again refuted, that Buonaparté never rested his case upon the ground of a breach of treaty. What is the fact? In the proclamation dated from, Bourgogne, he expressly declares that those breaches had restored him to his throne and to his rights; and he adds, that still further violations were apprehended, for it seemed likely that the Allies would deprive him of the asylum he had chosen. The noble earl intimates by his gestures, that there was no foundation for such a fear; but, recollecting what passed at Congress, it does not seem unreasonable that Buonaparté should have felt that such an event was likely to take place. I have no doubt that the British ministers were not, and would not have been parties to such an unwarrantable proceeding; but does it appear that they were acquainted with all that took place at Vienna? Will they take upon themselves to say, that no suck measure was ever in contemplation, 341 and that M. Talleyrand never secretly suggested it to the Sovereigns? Is there no reason to believe that the fact warranted Buonaparté's assertion? It is remarkable, upon this point, that on the 8th of March, shortly before the King left Paris, general Dessolles, who commanded the guards, issued a proclamation, under the authority of the Government, at least never contradicted, stating distinctly, that one of the causes precipitating this desperate attempt was, the knowledge Buonaparté had acquired that it was intended to remove him from the island of Elba. It will not be denied, then, that Buonaparté might have some cause for his alarm. I will not, however, dwell upon this point, lest it should be supposed that I evince more anxiety to vindicate the conduct of this individual than I really feel; though at all times a wish to do justice on both sides ought to be paramount, in order to take care that we stand right in the face of the world, before we renew the dreadful calamities of war.
Then, my lords, we arrive at the consideration of the Treaty of Paris; and here there are two great principles to be attended to:—first, as before stated, that the privilege of a nation to choose its own government is generally a sacred right, and the exercise of that right does not necessarily abrogate the treaties existing under another state of government, unless the change be effected in direct contravention of some of the principles of the Treaty:—secondly, That such a contravention of some part of the Treaty as would justify an interference must be precise, clear, and accuraté in its wording; which, like a penal law, must be strictly and specifically stated and construed. Is there, then, I ask, in the first place, any guarantee under this Treaty? Certainly none. Is there a special exclusion of any particular form of government? Certainly none. Is there any exclusion of a particular individual from that government? Certainly none. Then, what is the conclusion, but that the people are left to their free choice, with the exception of Buonaparté, whose exclusion is thus collected by the noble earl. By the Treaty of Fontainbleau Buonaparté abdicated his throne: by the Treaty of Paris, referring to that of Fontainbleau, peace was given to Europe; and in consequence of the change of circumstances, as is expressly stated in the instrument, certain securities before required from France are not 342 enforced. What then is the extent of the obligation contracted by the people of France? They are not confined as to the form of government—they might, if they pleased, have established a military despotism with marshals Massena or Ney, or M. Caulaincourt, at its head; or a popular republic, under the auspices of count Carnot, the abbé Sieyes, or any other member of the revolutionary committee of public safety, and we should have had no right to complain or interfere. So much we may distinctly collect from the speech of the noble earl, and from the dispatch of the earl of Clancarty; and it now remains to be seen, how far the Allies are justified in insisting upon the exclusion of Buonaparté on personal grounds. Is his abdication referred to in the Treaty of Paris? No, not specifically; but it is said, that in consequence of the re-establishment of the paternal reign of the ancient Kings, peace has been granted to France, without those securities which, had been demanded from the former Government, I stated on a recent occasion, and I beg to repeat it now, that having by the Treaty of Paris granted certain advantages to France, under a particular state of things, in the confidence that that state would continue (those advantages being the yielding of the claim of securities), if that state of things does not continue, the right reverts of demanding the securities which, for the time, had been relinquished. This, then, I apprehend, is the whole extent of the right of this country, to demand from France the securities before required. If we contend for more, we must contend for much more,—for that which even the noble earl does not argue, namely, the re-establishment of the family of the Bourbons, for the securities before required were given up because the paternal authority of the Bourbons was restored; and if the noble earl insists upon the strict wording of the Treaty, he must claim, not only the exclusion of Buonaparté, but the restoration of the Bourbons. I contend, therefore, that in the letter and spirit of the Treaty, and by the acknowledged law of nations, the utmost you can require is the giving of those securities by France, which before the abdication of Buonaparté you deemed an adequate barrier to his ambitious encroachments.
Then we come to the next point—the expediency of engaging in war. I remember that it is stated by Mr. Burke—whose speeches and writings are a maga- 343 zine of arguments for and against every side of almost every question—on this subject, that as a nation could not be justified in pursuing war for a profitable wrong, so neither could it be justified in commencing war for an unprofitable right; or, in other words, that the principle of necessity alone was that of expediency. I have said that if Massena, Caulaincourt, or Ney, had been at the head of the French nation, the only question would have been that of security; and, comparing what France might have been under them, and what it is under Buonaparté, I ask, is the difference such as to justify ministers in plunging this country into a new war, before she had time even to bind the still bleeding wounds inflicted in her late and long-contested hostilities? In viewing the expediency, it is necessary, first, to contemplate the character of the war; and, upon this point, I confess I was much disappointed that the noble earl thought it necessary to say so little. When the famous Declaration of the 13th of March was adverted to on a former, occasion, the noble earl assured the House that no construction was to be put upon it holding out other modes of attack upon Buonaparté beyond the legitimate practice and principle of ordinary warfare. The Treaty of Vienna of the 25th of March refers in terms to this document, and therefore, to judge properly of that Treaty, we must look at the Declaration. It is there distinctly and unequivocally asserted, that by violating the convention which established him in Elba, Buonaparté had forfeited his only legal title to existence—that by appearing again in France, he has deprived himself or the protection of the law, and had manifested to the universe that there could be neither truce nor peace with him—therefore they declare, that he has placed himself without the pale of civil and social relations, and as an enemy and disturber of the world, has rendered himself liable to public vengeance. Such are the terms of this instrument; and yet the noble lord asserts, that nothing more is meant than that the ordinary and legal expedients of war shall be employed! I should be glad to find that interpretation authorized by the language; because I am anxious, not only to relieve the great name affixed to that document, but my country, from the stigma that must remain upon it, were we to form an opinion of the Declaration by the natural import of the words. But what meaning can we 344 affix to these phrases—that he has forfeited his only title to existence—that he has put himself out of the pale of civil and social relations—and that he has made himself an object of public vengeance,—excepting that it is inculcating the savage principle of assassination? What is it but saying that the secret dagger as well as the public sword shall be unsheathed against him? Such a doctrine has, however, been disclaimed, and I hope sincerely; though the enemy has derived every advantage from the natural impression it seems calculated to produce.
Admitting, therefore, that the mode in which we are to make war is legitimate, I entreat your lordships to reflect on the dreadful alternative to which it will reduce us. Either the termination must be crowned with complete success, or with abject humiliation by the compulsory acknowledgment of Buonaparté, after signal and decisive defeats. Does it not, then, become a question of the first moment, whether, when we have a choice, ministers shall be allowed to commit the country by the commencement of hostilities against a man who has the population and resources of a mighty nation at his command? With such a man the Allies have declared that they can make neither peace nor truce. Events cannot be controlled, nor victories ensured; those who now support the ministers of this country in a war, may soon cease to countenance their measures, and the result must then be disgrace and degradation. It is not necessary for me here to state all the dangers this country would have to encounter, though every prudent statesman would not fail to contemplate all the consequences of defeat, even in the hour of success; but after such a declaration, after such proceedings at Vienna, after such a triumph over the fallen, should Buonaparté again rise above his enemies, even without attributing to him all the bad passions charged by the noble earl, what hope at least could our Allies indulge? What hope could even we have, with diminished population and exhausted revenues, of maintaining our independence? Such extremity of humiliation, in case of failure, was, perhaps, never before, balanced against the expediency of commencing a war. Does not this view of the subject require that, if possible, hostilities should be avoided,? We have never yet been told what were the securities demanded from the former Go- 345 vernment of France, that at that time were deemed adequate to the tranquillity and independence of Europe. Was France to have been confined to her ancient limits, as by the Treaty of Paris? If so, and at any future time that arrangement should be made, I hope all painful recitals will be omitted; for, in my opinion, there are few greater securities for peace than avoiding galling reflections, which were perpetuated by the terms in which the Treaty of Paris was couched, and for which, among other reasons, I held it to be injudicious. Those who contend for war now, must argue much beyond the points to which they restricted themselves before the fall of Buonaparté they must contend that Europe cannot be secure while France is independent. Is it true, that after the struggle we have maintained with such unexampled perseverance, and the glorious triumph we ultimately obtained, that even with France limited to her ancient possessions, we can no longer be secure against the power, the ambition, and the rapacity of a single individual?
The noble earl has rested the justification of making war against France at the present time principally on two grounds: first, on the internal state of France at this time; and next, on the present state of the confederacy. With respect to the internal state of France, I would ask the noble earl—have you at the present moment any precise and accurate knowledge on the subject? On that subject it is not likely that his Majesty's Government should possess much better information than other persons; they can have no information but what they derive from such sources as are open to our own knowledge. It is extremely difficult to come at any thing like a satisfactory conclusion on a subject of this nature. And here, my lords, I must observe, that all the information stating France to be at present in a disturbed state, comes from a very interested source, and is delivered to very interested hearers. There is nobody here to whom the truth of such information is not very desirable; and there is, therefore, an evident bias both in the mind of the reporter, and the persons to whom he delivers his information. We are told that there is another way of estimating the accuracy of these reports of disturbances—the taking them in connexion with the proclamations issued by the present Government of France. But to Judge of these proclamations, we ought first to 346 know what the particular interests of the Government are. A government may occasionally give an effect, for ends and objects of its own, as we all know from experience, to disturbances in their own nature of a very trifling character. The noble earl is old enough to remember the beginning of the French revolution, how we were continually buoyed up with accounts of disturbances in France. We were then also told, that more than three-fourths of the population of France were adverse to the existing government. This was stated at a time when the fact was much more probable than at the present time—it was stated after the recent destruction of a government to which France had been long accustomed, when by far the greatest part of the population then living had been educated under that government, and might very reasonably be presumed to entertain an attachment for it. Besides this, there actually existed in La Vendeé, at that time, a war of a most formidable description. But what was the result then? When our hopes were the most sanguine from these internal discontents, we found at that very moment the greatest foreign exertions were made against the common enemy. This is a result which, philosophically speaking, we may generally expect to take place; and, in fact, if we examine history, we shall find, that internal discontents have usually given an uncommon vigour of exertion and energy to governments. In looking to governments of which the constitutions are free, we shall generally find, that when every thing is quiet there is no longer any real freedom. When we examine the histories of Rome and the republics of Greece, we find that when they were most convulsed by internal dissentions at home, they obtained the greatest success over their foreign enemies in war. This is founded on human nature. The internal disturbances in France, therefore, so far from leading us to expect greater success in any attack on that country, should, on the contrary, lead us to expect a greater degree of exertion on the part of the Government. But if such a spirit of discontent should really exist in France, what are the best means of encouraging it? Will it be by making war on the country, or by leaving it to its own operation? Experience proved how much an external war enabled a government to suppress any insurrection. If three-fourths of the population of France are hostile to 347 the Government, as we have just heard from the noble earl, I should say, that the most likely way to counteract the effects of that hostility would be to make war on a whole nation of which so small a part are in reality attached to the existing government. This would be pursuing the worst possible course, if the noble earl really believes that three-fourths of the people of France are secret enemies of Buonaparté, if not in open revolt against him. Our opportunities of information with respect to the state of that country, are of a limited nature. But I must inform the noble earl, that all the information which I have received leads me to a very different conclusion. Before the return of Buonaparté was even thought of in that country, all the information which I received led me to the belief that the Bourbons were unpopular, not only among the military, but the most effective part of the population of France. This was at a time when the return of Buonaparté was not thought of, except perhaps by those who were in possession of his secret intentions. The great part of those who visited France in the course of last summer were of opinion, that the government of the Bourbons, if it lasted during the life of the King, would be all—and that there would then be another revolution. I may here allude to a letter from the marquis de Chabanes to the count de Blacas, which, no doubt, contains a good deal of declamation, and many views of policy in which I should not be disposed to acquiesce, but which is valuable, as it contains information with respect to the general disposition of the people of France, both at the period of the accession of the Bourbons, and since their removal from the government of that country. He states, that the sentiments of the people at both periods were the same—that the clergy, the old noblesse, and the emigrants, were favourable to the Bourbons—but these are the classes of the least efficiency of the whole—and that then and now—first, the whole of the military, and secondly, all those persons who had acquired national property—(for whether justly or not, there was disseminated amongst them a sort of panic, which men where their property is concerned are so prone to, especially where the title to that property is in any way questionable)—had expressed themselves adverse to the government of the Bourbons; and we may consider these two 348 classes therefore, from their connexion with the events of the Revolution, as favourably disposed towards Buonaparté. I shall first proceed to consider the subject of the military. It has been argued by the noble earl, that the military have brought about the late revolution, thereby placing Buonaparté on the throne of France against the wishes of the people. But I contend, that the noble earl has no authority whatever for this statement. If we look at the history of this transaction, we shall find the most ample contradiction of it. His landing, for instance, with so small a body of men—his going a considerable way often before that body, and presenting himself to the populace every where throughout his journey. We find that he was always received, wherever he appeared, with acclamations; and that he was not only popular with the military, but that there was a general disposition in his favour. When Monsieur arrived at Lyons, he reported that the national guards had shown an indisposition, that the populace had not shown a good disposition, and he expressed his only hopes to be in the troops, as the people of Lyons, the second city in the kingdom, were so generally attached to Buonaparté. The same attachment was shown in other parts of the country. The whole population of France had not even kept themselves in a state of quiescence, but had openly shown their satisfaction. The most favourable conclusion which the noble earl can possibly draw is, that if the people are not favourable to Buonaparté, they are at least adverse to the Bourbons. But with respect to the military, I will ask the noble earl if their sentiments are to be considered as no indication of popular opinion? I have always heard, that one great characteristic of the French armies, the native courage which no other army in Europe has displayed in a greater degree, was to be attributed, not only to the conscription giving them a better description of men than entered the armies of other countries, but also to the Revolution, which had introduced into that army persons of higher and better qualifications than would have entered it under other circumstances. Any man, on entering that army, might hope in one campaign to rise to the highest ranks—to rise ultimately to principalities. Noble lords may readily imagine, that in such a state of things not only the young will be induced to enter the army, but even fathers 349 of families will feel their objections diminished to it, as an eligible vocation for their children. So far, then, from its being true, that the military in France form a separate class, it may on the contrary be considered, as on the whole, forming an accurate representation of the sentiments of the people. The whole population may also be considered as in a considerable degree military. It consists, in a great proportion, of old disbanded soldiers—men who entertain a fond recollection of the actions in which they have been engaged—who bear a warm attachment to Buonaparté instead of hatred (notwithstanding the waste of human life, of which he has been the occasion), from a remembrance of the victories to which he led them. The spirit of the army, therefore, exists in some measure throughout the whole country. But, my lords, has nothing since taken place to confirm the opinion which I have now given? What are the proceedings of the French Government at the present moment? Do they show any distrust of the population? Are they not, on the contrary, arming the whole of the male population from 20 to 60?—a circumstance which may be considered to threaten France and all Europe with the most serious evils. But whatever opinions may be entertained on this subject, I am entitled to draw this inference from it—that Buonaparté and the rest of the government do not think it dangerous to put arms into the hands of the people, which might be turned against them if there existed any dissatisfaction in the country. The noble earl would do well to consider, before embarking in any war with France, that the effect would inevitably be to call forth all the military energies of that people; and that it is contrary to the principles of human nature to overcome the resistance of what was termed by Mr. Pitt 'an armed nation.' The measures adopted will call out 3,000 battalions of 700 men each, forming an aggregate amount of upwards of two millions of men. It appears that no less than 172,000 national guards are already in motion, if M. Chateaubriand is to be believed. In looking to the state of France, therefore, there is no reason to look for any success for the Allied army; but, on the contrary, that war with France will strengthen the hands of the Government, and enable it to oppress and extinguish entirely whatever spirit of dissatisfaction may exist in that country. In all 350 former periods when we have attacked France on these principles, what has been the result?—the rallying the people of that country round their government, enabling that government to carry war and desolation into every country of Europe, and of nearly overwhelming the liberties of the world. When the Allies offered moderate terms to France—when they carried liberty and independence on their banners—when they called on the people of France not to support the injustice of their government—then at last was seen in France that apathy which, allowed that short-lived triumph to them. Both in their success and their failure the cause was equally evident; experience has shown how their success was gained, and the means that are most likely to destroy it.
If such is the internal state of France, that we have nothing to hope for from, any disturbances in that country, what, my lords, is the present state of the confederacy? How far is it better or worse than it was last year? In the Russian campaign of 1812, the French army was nearly annihilated. By a great effort, however, Buonaparté was able to assemble in the spring of 1813, a considerable force, and to open the campaign with the first successes, of Bautzen and Lutzen. After the termination of the armistice, and after the defeats in Silesia, at Leipsic, and elsewhere, his army was again reduced to the lowest extremity; and in 1814, the French Government were in such straits as they never were before, to find means to resist the victorious armies entering that country. I have made out an account, as well as I am able, from the statements of that period. In 1814 the army in Dantzic, the garrisons on the Rhine, the army of the Viceroy, and the army in Catalonia, formed an aggregate of 225,000 men. These men were completely cut off from France, and incapable of affording any assistance to that country. Of the residue which remained to defend France, without those armies, there were 80,000 men under Buonaparté himself, 30,000 under Augereau, and 35,000 under Soult; making the whole defence of France 155,000. Against this force, on the side of Spain, there was the British, Spanish, and Portuguese army, at least 130,000 strong, under the duke of Wellington. The other armies were the Austrians 60,000, the Russians 180,000, the Prussians 130,000, the Bavarians and 351 Saxons 70,000, forming an aggregate of 540,000 men. This, I am confident, is the result of the statements at the time, and I have not included either the Swedish army or the landwehr, or garrisons detained behind. But I will suppose that this number is over-stated, and that we must deduct at least 200,000 from this number of 540,000; we shall find then that there did advance against France on all sides at least 340,000 victorious troops, confident from success, opposed by 155,000 dispirited and worn-out troops, and that consequently France was attacked on all sides by the Allies by more than double the number of troops which could possibly be opposed to them. And yet, whoever recollects the alternative of hopes and fears, the ebbs and flows of opinion, and, by what a narrow accident success was at last obtained—that after the capture of Paris, when Buonaparté was suffering from the desertion and treachery of those on whom he depended—it was by a narrow accident the Allies escaped destruction. Even under the great General who has hitherto been so signally successful in all his undertakings who would look with confidence to the renewal of hostilities under the present circumstance? There was, then, cut off from the French armies 200,000 men—making the largest allowance for Italians and foreigners of all descriptions, at least 100,000 of this number must have returned to France, and be ready to recruit the armies of Buonaparté. The prisoners returned to France amounted, at least to 170,000. From this country, they had received at least 100,000. The returned garrisons, and prisoners of war must, at the least, form a fund for recruiting the army, of at least 200,000 men. Buonaparté, at his accession, found 150,000 in a complete state of equipment—100,000 more were ready to be called out—and, in the course of two months exertions, we may consider his army, exclusive of garrisons and national guards, and 170,000 men of select companies of national guards, to amount to an available regular force of at least 300,000 men. In a question of expediency we ought to consider these things accurately, and not suffer ourselves to be led away by vain delusions. If success was obtained with such difficulty under such very different circumstances, what hopes can we possibly have that the same success will now attend our efforts? But can you now 352 have the same means which you had last year? Sweden, Spain, and Portugal, have all it is true, signed the Treaty; but it does not appear that they can contribute any thing. Austria, Russia, and Prussia, the three great powers, are to receive five millions by way of subsidy from this country. No statement has been made by the noble lord this night of what farther accession to the great Powers we are to obtain from the minor states of Germany. If we obtain any such accession, it can only be on paying further subsidies. We know that the king of Wirtemberg and all the other minor Powers are desirous of obtaining some of the golden eggs which the great goose of Europe has been laying for some time. With respect to Sweden, I apprehend that there may be some doubt of the willing disposition of that country. There may be also some doubt of its ability, from the accession which it of late so honourably obtained. [Hear, hear!] With respect to Spain, those who have seen what a Spanish army can do in defence of their own Country, must laugh at any expectations of assistance from them. Portugal may give perhaps 20,000 men. But are these the only diminutions? Is the British army now what it then was? Is the duke of Wellington now at the head of those brave companions in arms who had such confidence in the man who had so often led them to victory? Is he any longer at the head of those invincible legions who have gained such immortal honour to their country? That army has been sent on most destructive and ill-conducted expeditions. The duke of Wellington is not able at present to produce at most above 20 or 30,000 troops, and those of a very different description indeed, though animated with the same British spirit, from those he formerly commanded. I am not now including the Hanoverian troops. In America numbers have found their graves; and from those who remain, after being harassed with their repeated voyages from Spain to America and from America back again to Europe, we cannot in justice expect that they will for some time equal their former character. We have not therefore the same British army. With respect to the minor Powers of Germany, what is the case with Saxony, for instance? Can you again raise your standard at Leipzic, and call on those to join you who contributed so essentially to your former victories? How happens it that those who, in opposition to their Go- 353 vernment, forced their commanders to lead them to your ranks, are now your enemies? They gave you formerly 30,000 men, and now Dresden is the first place where we see proclamations issued, to restrain the indications of joy at the return of Buonaparté. The troops which marshal Blucher was obliged to punish, are a source of weakness and not of strength. With respect to Italy, with Genoa still ringing in your ears, can you expect that country again to rise? Are the people there any longer in the same situation? But, is the alliance which exists cemented on the same principle as formerly? Before the advance into France, the Allies Were powerful from their union and numbers; but above all they were powerful from their moderation and justice. Can they any longer, after their proceedings in Norway, Saxony, and Genoa, after the accessions which have been made to Hanover—can they come to the contest with the same confidence of union among themselves? Prussia has to keep down Saxony—Russia to keep down Poland, and at the same time, perhaps, to oppose an army to Turkey. Austria will be so occupied with Italy, even if Murat should be put down in that country, that she can afford but little assistance to the general Cause. But can they advance to the Subjugation of France without some fears, and apprehensions and jealousies of what they may expect from each other? In the division of spoil, we have seen how near Austria and Russia were in being involved in war, and in arming against each other with those very subsidies which they obtained from this country for other purposes. Is this problematical? Have we not seen the famous letter from lord Castlereagh to Prince Hardenberg? That person, who assumes to himself an unknown power in the constitution of this country, who sets himself up as the judge of independent sovereigns—declares, that he has no objection on principle to the partition of Saxony. Did he recollect to whom he was addressing that letter?—to the minister of the Court of Berlin. Did he recollect the Treaty of Basle, by which Hanover, the plunder of an ally, was given up to that Court? We have seen this person expressing a willingness to consent to the incorporation of the whole of Saxony, under the blind of a resistance to the dangerous pretensions of Russia. [Hear, hear!] The Allies would therefore go to the field with a suspicion, 354 that the very dangers which they escaped from with respect to France, they would have to provide against from, another quarter.
There are some other particulars, long as I have occupied the attention of your lordships, which I am under the necessity of shortly noticing. The noble earl has attempted to prove Buonaparté a faithless character. I did not require to be told of the actions of that individual at such length, to be able to form an idea of his character—to be told, for instance, of the invasion of Spain, which in all its circumstances was so like that of Scotland under our Edward 1.—I did not require that the noble earl should go into all this to convince me that the government of Buonaparé was a government of great evil and injustice. I cannot help regretting that it should be thought necessary, in speaking of such a man, to make use of intemperate language, such as calling him a traitor or assassin—language which can answer no good purpose either in peace or war. The use of such language leads al ways to a suspicion either of the goodness of the cause of those who have recourse to it, or of their firmness and sincerity. I disapprove as much as any man the career which he has followed—I detest as cordially his ambition—and I would do as much as any man to fight against him and resist him when necessary. But who can say that all change in his character is impossible? Are there not in history examples of men polluted with as foul crimes as Buonaparté—who have waded through seas of blood—who have at last retired even to a private life? But I agree that it would be puerile to place any confidence in such a change of character. I agree that it would not be reasonable to place any reliance on his future moderation. But if there is no change in his disposition, may there not be a change in his policy? Has he not during his year of exile had ample opportunity of reflecting on his former errors? Has he not had the means of detecting the causes of his temporary ruin; and may he not have been impressed with the necessity of abandoning that system which had already cost him too dear? In addition to this consideration there is another which in my mind, my lords, presses with great weight. The life of Buonaparté has already been one fruitful of great events. More extraordinary occurrences have been crowded into it than are to be found 355 in the existences often ordinary men. He has undergone great fatigue of body. He has endured great perturbation of mind. His frame must necessarily be much shaken by these circumstances. He is fast advancing to that period of life when active exertion is no longer to be expected. Suppose him arrived to such a condition, that he can no longer command his armies in the field with the energy which he has hitherto exhibited; will not Europe have a security which it has not heretofore possessed? My lords, I know that these are minor considerations in themselves, but they are important considerations when the whole case of the Allied Powers rests on the personal character of the individual to whom they are opposed. I am not one of those who are disposed to determine great questions of policy by a reference to the personal situation and circumstances of any individual. I would not go about, as the Athenians did, inquiring what was the state of health of Philip. But, my lords, I would take the chances which I have described into consideration. With such tendencies to a state of security by peace, I would not rashly plunge into a war, the only legitimate object of which is security.
My lords, there are other reasons in confirmation of this argument. I hare already said, that I think the noble earl mistaken in giving to the late revolution in France the character of a mere military movement. But still I firmly believe that the popular opinion in France is decidedly in favour of peace; and that Buonaparté, however indisposed to do so, feels compelled to give way to it. What is he about? He is expressing a great desire for peace. Is that to conciliate his army? The noble earl has said, that war is the only mode by which he can maintain his influence with them. I do not think so. All that I can observe proves to me, that not only the public at large in France, but even the army themselves, are generally disposed to remain at peace. The noble earl has indulged in many observations on the new French Constitution. My fords, I am not one of those who have much confidence in the efficacy of any such hasty compilations. Attempts to form at once a constitution for a country have seldom been successful. With respect to our own, however we may venerate the wisdom of our ancestors, we all very well know how little there is in it of design, and how much it owes to accident, and 356 to the fortunate concurrence of circumstances. But, my lords, situated as the French were, what were they to do? They were compelled to form a constitution on the best model they could find, and that model was the English Constitution. They thought this a form of government best calculated to prevent the recurrence of the evils which they had already endured. I will not have the presumption to say that there are no defects in this institution; but in my opinion, the establishment of it affords another chance of the maintenance of peace. The party in France to whose influence the formation of this constitution is attributable, are certainly in earnest. Does the noble earl believe that Buonaparté can well connect himself with Carnot and others, who have given undoubted proofs of their attachment to well-regulated freedom? Can he believe that they will consider him as sincere in his new profession—that they will not view his proceedings with distrust? Unquestionably that must be the case. But, how is this chance of disagreement to be removed? How, but by the advance of a foreign enemy, adverse to both parties. If we go to war with France, my lords, those parties which in peace would probably split, will unite, and will place in the hands of the man who has already proved himself so capable of wielding them, the immense military energies of that mighty Empire.
The noble earl contends that if we do not go to war, we must remain in a state of extensive armed preparation. My lords, when Buonaparté first returned to Paris, I acquiesced in the necessity of an armed preparation. Under the doubtful circumstances of that period, it appeared to be wise at all events to be prepared. But did I allow, that that preparation ought to be permanent? By no means. If by pursuing an enlightened polity we had confirmed a peace with France—a peace, which proper limits to the French power would have rendered Secure, I see no reason why we should not have reduced our forces to the peace establishment to which it was proposed to reduce them when France was under the government of Louis 18. In many periods of our own history we have experienced that a low peace establishment has not prevented us from suddenly commencing a glorious war. The example of America shows, that a low peace establishment does not preclude the greatest and roost instanta- 357 neous military exertions. The peace establishment of Prussia, antecedently to 1813, was very limited; and yet it is generally admitted, that in 1813, and 1814, the Prussian army was the best and bravest in the field. There is no comparison between the expense of mere preparation and of war. The whole argument of the noble earl rests, therefore, on the certainty of our success in this contest. Bat, if we should not succeed, and as we must in that event make peace at some time or other, I ask, whether a defensive attitude in that case will be less necessary or less expensive than at present? What then would I do, my lords, under these circumstances? I would act on the principles of the Treaty of Chaumont. I would take the best means of securing this country by properly limiting the power of France. I would fortify myself by a defensive alliance on the principles of that Treaty with the other Powers of Europe. An alliance we have now formed. But is there no danger of its dissolution? What will be our situation if the events of the war should induce some of the Powers to fall off from the confederacy? Should the campaign be unsuccessful, is it not to be apprehended that some of those powers may grasp at the first objects they can seize, in order to save themselves from further loss and humiliation? In what state shall we then be placed—compelled alone to carry on a contest, the principle of which is apparently interminable?
Such, my lords, will be our danger in the event of failure. How shall we be circumstanced in the event of success? The noble earl says he wishes for the restoration of the Bourbons. I have already shortly stated my reasons for believing the restoration of the Bourbon family impossible. It is a family absolutely repulsive to all France. But granting that the Bourbons were replaced, what security should we then have? Can we disarm that country? If we can succeed in enforcing on the French people, or in inducing them to choose their ancient dynasty, what security shall we then have greater than that which we may how possess? After the experience which we have had, could we entertain any hope of permanent tranquillity? Are we to go to war to destroy Buonaparté, or to destroy the military system of France? If the latter, my lords, it can only be done by the extermination of the whole army of 358 France. If this cannot be accomplished, and any other person, even a Bourbon, should be at the head of that army, he must yield to its spirit, and must engage France in war. Would you then, my lords, be relieved from the necessity—the dreadful necessity, as the noble earl terms it—of remaining in a state of armed preparation? If, my Lords, we look to America, we must feel that in the event of a new war the question of our maritime rights, unsettled as it has been left by the late Treaty with that country, will necessarily be revived, and that in a more extended form, in consequence of the recent acquisition of colonies by the French Government. Unless we pursue a very different policy with respect to America from that which has hitherto been adopted, elated by the late proofs of her strength, developed as it has been by those measures on the part of Great Britain, which have advanced the military power of America a century in the short space of a twelve-month, it is not likely that she will remain very pacific. My lords, since the restoration of Buonaparté to power, we have witnessed a measure at which I most sincerely rejoice, both on account of its own value and of the indication which it gives of the new character of his Government. I allude to the Abolition of the Slave Trade—an object effected at a moment when it was most necessary for him to cultivate the public opinion; thus affording the strongest practical refutation of the statement of our negociator, that it could not be accomplished under the reign of Louis, from the opposition of the popular sentiment. In adopting this measure, the Government of France necessarily abandons all idea of becoming possessed of St. Domingo, or of extending its present colonies, which are by no means considerable; and this will appear more evident, when we consider that from abolition the step to emancipation is but short. My lords, if we look at Saxony, we must be persuaded that peace is necessary to heal the divisions of that unhappy and injured country. If we look at Ireland, we must be satisfied that the amelioration and improvement at which the proprietory of that country ought to aim, can be Accomplished only in peace. All these considerations induce me to pause before I approve of an irrevocable war—war, which leaves us no expectation whatever of advantage. For the present day I would endeavour to obtain security; 359 "Besides what hope the never ending flight Of future days may bring, what chance, what change Worth waiting, since our present lot appears For happy, though but ill; for ill, not worst; If we procure not to ourselves more woe."
My lords, it is extremely painful to me On this occasion to differ from a noble friend of mine near me, whose enlarged understanding, whose liberal opinions, and whose extensive experience, entitle him to the greatest respect: but the discharge of my duty is paramount to every other consideration; and I therefore, my lords, move this Amendment:—
"That an humble Address be presented to his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, to thank him for his gracious Message:
"To express to his Royal Highness our firm determination to support all such measures as may be necessary to enable his Royal Highness to maintain the honour of his Majesty's Crown, and to establish an intimate Concert with the Powers of Europe, for the protection of their respective rights against all foreign aggression:
"To assure his Royal Highness that it is at all times our anxious desire to give our assistance in fulfilling such Treaties as his Royal Higness may have been induced to enter into with these views; but that we should not be justified in expressing any approbation of the engagements which his Royal Highness appears to have contracted, for maintaining entire the stipulations determined upon and signed at the Congress of Vienna, of which, both as to their principle and extent, we are as yet wholly uninformed;
"To state to his Royal Highness, that cordially approving, as we do, of a defensive system, for preserving the equilibrium of Europe, and securing the repose and independence of its states, we at the same time feel ourselves bound to represent to his Royal Highness that we do not think a war undertaken on the principle of personally proscribing the present Ruler of France, necessary for the accomplishment of those desirable ends.
"That, on the contrary, such a war appears to us questionable in its principle, and fraught with the greatest dangers; leaving us no alternative, with a view to the re-establishment of peace, but complete success in destroying the Government so proscribed, or humiliation and disgrace, in submitting to acknowledge it after such proscription.
360 "That we learn with satisfaction that hostilities have not yet been commenced, and that we entreat his Royal Highness to open new communications with the Allied Powers, whereby the engagements now subsisting between them, may be established on a defensive principle, more conducing, as it appears to us, to the interests of this country, and to the general security of Europe, than that which has been adopted in the Declaration signed at Vienna by the Allies on the 13th of March last, and in the consequent Treaty concluded on the 25th of the same month."
§ Earl Bathurst
contended, that as an opinion was not called for on the engagements entered into by his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, the amendment proposed by the noble earl opposite, was in the present instance unnecessary. As it went to oppose the principle of proscribing an individual as the Sovereign of France, it was still more objectionable. Such a proposition, if agreed to, must cause the complete dissolution of the alliance now formed against Buonaparté. The great Powers had declared, that peace could not be made with France so long as he remained at the head of her government; and this country, in departing from that principle, would depart from its Allies. With respect to what had been said of hostilities not having yet commenced, and of letters of marque not having been issued, and the inference thence drawn, that the country was not in a state of war, he maintained that the statement of his noble friend had not been shaken by the circumstance of hostilities not haying yet broke out; and that the issuing of letters of marque, though a measure frequently resorted to in the first stage of war, was not necessarily a part of war. In the present situation of things, their lordships must consider the country in a state of war; and the question now submitted to their decision was simply this, whether or not ministers had done right to advise the Prince Regent to place it in that state? The, noble earl proceeded to show that just grounds for war had existed, and denied, that any of the treaties entered into by the Allies had been violated on their part. It was said, that Buonaparté had not been paid the sum which it was stipulated he should periodically receive. But this proved no violation of the good faith of the Allies. By whom were the sums to be paid. Not by the Allies; but by the King of France? 361 there could, then, have been no violation on their part, till Buonaparté had complained to them that he had not received what he was to have been paid, and they had failed to enforce the performance of the treaty which they had made with him. In no other instance had they violated the treaty they had made. Could any one consider the arrangement made with respect to the duchies of Parma and Placentia, and the report of its being the intention of the Allies to dispossess Buonaparté of Elba, as affording a justification of his conduct? The question was, Is the resumption of the government of France by Buonaparté a justifiable cause of war with that country? and his noble friend had stated so clearly how that question rested, that he felt ashamed to dwell upon the argument. The fact was, the Allies did distinctly state, that they would make no peace so long as Buonaparté continued to administer the government of France*. If that principle was the foundation of the armistice, the people of France had purchased peace by that condition; and upon the restoration of Buonaparté they had no right to a peace which had been purchased by the dissolution of his government. Buonaparté would not recognise his abdication: if the French were a party to that declaration, then its condition, not being fulfilled, we were still at war with France: if they were not a party to that declaration, then the King of France had no authority to sign the treaty of peace, and we were still at war with France. The next question was, can we avoid the war? and if not, is it probable we shall be able to commence it with better prospects of success at a future period? As to the first of these questions, was there any man in the House or in the country who thought it possible we could avoid the war sooner or later? Look to Buonaparté and his system: there was but one opinion that he would watch his opportunity to commence war with us. It had been said that he was past forty years of age, and not in a condition to conduct an army: if we could count upon ten years of peace, this might be some argument; but a man was not to be set down as decrepid because he was more than forty years of age. Next it was said, that the French were to have a free constitution, which would restrain his authority. He was of opinion, that not much was to be expected from new constitutions, till the people had lived long 362 enough under them to experience that they were conductive to that their happiness. It was said, that the war would prevent this constitution from being established. If so, and the effect of the constitution was to be to curtail his authority, then it was the interest of Buonaparté to make war upon us at last, though he might for a while suspend his purpose. It was only by war that he could re-establish his power. As to the second question, the noble earl had gone into great length to show that we should this year commence the campaign with a force inferior to that of the Allies at the end of the war, and with Buonaparté's army more formidable now than it was then. But the noble earl laboured under misinformation as to the actual state of the armies of the Allies. He had also made many animadversions with respect to the conduct of the different Sovereigns, and had indulged in much invective against many individuals among the Allied; although he had at the same time protested against using any harsh language towards Buonaparté. It might have been as well if the noble earl had extended to our friends that moderation which he had shown to our enemy. He had asked, whether we could expect that Italy would rise in favour of the Allies as it did last year? He had never heard of any such insurrection in Italy last year: we had all heard, indeed, that though that country was ripe for such an insurrection, none, in fact, had taken place. The noble earl had then adverted to the affair of Genoa; that question had been already discussed, and the House had not agreed with the noble earl in his opinion, that a gross breach of trust had been committed in respect to that country: indeed, he had never witnessed a more gross, unwarrantable charge against any government. So with respect to the question of Saxony—he trusted that when it should come before the House, their lordships would be of opinion, that the conduct of ministers had been just and politic. It was true, that in two or three instances, some dissatisfaction with military arrangements had been expressed by the Saxon troops under prince Blucher; but when the whole Saxon corps was stated to be under confinement, with a considerable body of Prussians to watch them, he should only answer, by giving the House the last information he had received from that quarter, which came yesterday from a 363 gentleman who had just left that country, namely, that the very guard of prince Blucher consisted of Saxons, and that that general was personally under the care of Saxons only. The noble earl had stated, that neither Prussia, Russia, nor Austria, would be able to march so large a force as last year. The fact was directly the reverse; for all three would march a much more considerable force. The noble earl had talked of the powerful diversion which Saxony would cause; but had omitted to mention the troops of the King of the Netherlands, who had no existence last year. As to the British army, there were, unquestionably, many regiments which Government was not able now to place under the command of the duke of Wellington, which had been so placed last year; but when the noble earl represented his army as no longer so formidable—[Earl Grey interrupted the noble earl to say, that his observation applied only to the diminished numbers of the British troops].—Earl Bathurst continued, that the question was not whether we were as powerful as we were last year, but whether we had a greater prospect of success next year. If Buonaparté's army was so formidable as the noble earl had represented now, it would next year be more formidable. Then it was said, that this was an interference with the government of France. To a certain extent, we had a right to such interference. He protested against carrying this principle beyond what was absolutely necessary; but contended for the right, if necessary, with a view to secure ourselves against serious and alarming danger. If a government exercised its functions in a manner which was dangerous to its neighbours, those neighbours had a right to proscribe that government, if necessary.
§ Lord Grenville
said, he considered the present ruler of France as the common enemy of Europe, and had no doubt that if he had been placed in the situation the Prince Regent's ministers had been placed in, that he should have given the same advice as to the present state of war. Now that Parliament was called upon for its support, he could not, after all the consideration he had been able to give the subject, bring himself to doubt that it was their duty to declare their determined resolution to support the Crown to the utmost in the prosecution of the war. But if any hesitation had appeared on the part of the Executive Government, strong as his 364 impression was, he should not have presumed, upon the imperfect, and perhaps erroneous information which a member of parliament was able to pick up, to advise the Government to commence a war which ministers did not think expedient. He expressed some concern that the House were not called upon to consider this subject earlier, for the sake of giving more satisfaction to the country, of counteracting many unfounded opinions, and removing many groundless prejudices. But the delay had afforded him the opportunity of examining and re-examming opinions, of the correctness of which he had so much reason to doubt, when he found they differed from those of his noble friend—of whose judgment he thought so highly. To give an opinion in favour of a continuance of the calamities of wars, was a painful task to any man; but it was some consolation to feel that that was the opinion of a man whose whole public life had expressed a general abhorrence of war, and who thought that in order to be just, a war must not only be necessary, but unavoidable. The first question was, whether we had just grounds to consider ourselves at war. There was a saying of Mr. Burke, recorded in those volumes in which, if so many things were often applicable, it was because they were founded on the solid principles of truth—that neither a profitable wrong, nor an unprofitable right, were fit objects to be pursued by war. Even though it were demonstrable, that the greatest possible, advantage might be derived from the prosecution of war, yet if it could be shown that the war was unjust, the waging such a war was more unprofitable to its interests than any advantage could benefit them. Much had, of necessity been said respecting the general right of interfering with the government of other nations. In the abstract principle, that no government had a right to interfere with another, every body would agree. The right was unquestionable, like the rights of men in a state of nature; and, if any political state could be found in a state of nature, the rights of a state so separated from the other states would be absolute and undeniable; but it was with societies as with individuals, with governments as with men—when they stand in any relation to each other, they must be contented to see their rights regulated with a view to the mutual rights of all. The rights, of others in relation to that state were as sacred as 365 the rights of the state itself. He did not apprehend that this principle would be denied; every page in the history of every country furnished examples of its being acted upon. His noble friend had mentioned two striking instances which had lately occurred. That this principle must not be made the pretext of oppression and injustice, was true of every other ground of war; and there was no legitimate ground of war which might not by abuse be distorted to the purposes of injustice. There was no country which had not tried the effect of a treaty with Buonaparté—which had not experienced that in restraining his power, or diminishing his aggressions, treaties were of no avail whatever. If the House had not been of this opinion, the moment for them to have declared it was when the Prince Regent's ministers signed the declaration to that effect: they should then have required ministers to have withdrawn such declaration in the name of England. He cordially approved of the declaration: on that foundation France accepted the offers of the Allies; and that Government—which was originally a military usurpation—had it been the most legitimate in the world, would; by the misconduct of the Sovereign, have forfeited its title to its King, and have produced the extreme case of the necessity of driving from the throne the person who had so abused his authority. If France possessed the right of choosing her own government, and had, after so many years of war, by which she had been so great a sufferer, made some sacrifices for the advantages of the restoration of tranquillity, her own limitation of that right could not be doubted: and so the bargain was made at Paris. This would appear the true sense of the treaties, looking on the whole business as one great transaction. In civil transactions, some competent tribunal or jurisdiction was referred to, which prescribed certain forms as necessary to be attended to for the regulation of a contract; which he who did not act upon, neglected at his peril. But in affairs between nations, there was no common authority or tribunal to refer to, or which had authority to prescribe: and all that could be required was, to impose on both parties the duty of performing what they undertook. The intention to perform the contract must be made known to all parties, and this was the case respecting the exclusion of Buonapaté and his family from the French 366 throne. The question, therefore, was not on the abstract right of interfering in the choice of a government for France, but on the right of enforcing a solemn treaty. It mattered not what was the case of right, if it was allowed, as no man denied, that France had the right to conclude lawfully the Treaty. That gave to the Allies the right of enforcing it. The Treaty was made, and it could not be lawful for France to break it. It was founded on certain stipulations: but France breaks it, and retracts from part of the bargain; her obligation was the exclusion of Buonaparté's dynasty. The moment that violation was committed, a just cause of war ensued. Their lordships might, though it was not necessary, look back to the War of the Succession, and the original principle on which that war was founded. The Allies, he would not say whether wisely or not, did relax from the original principle of excluding the Bourbon family from the Spanish throne; but they insisted on the means for preventing the crowns of the two nations being worn by the same person. It might then have depended on the life of a weak and sickly child, whether Philip would hot become the rightful heir of France. Had the contemplated event occurred, then France would have desired and attempted the annexation of Spain as a province of France; not as it was afterwards, a virtual province, but an actual added province or kingdom. If the policy, then, was admitted to be right, what was the inference respecting the present circumstances? The point then was, not the exclusion of all the Bourbons or others from the throne of Spain, but to prevent Philip 5 from wearing the French crown; and we now said, that by the Treaty Buonaparté cannot lawfully be considered as the Emperor of France. This was our ground, and as to the enemy nothing more was necessary. The case was this: he had violated, and the Allies claimed the observance of the Treaty. It was fitting to show to France that we were justified in those steps which might bring on France all the calamities of war. His opinion was, that there was no option left us; nor any grounds for long deliberation. We were placed by an imperious necessity in a state to do what could not be avoided. The first great point of importance was the observance of the Treaty. It was no light matter after twenty-five years of trouble, and even at the close of war, to find in France 367 the prevailing passion which occasioned the early calamities—a passion under the dominion of which, she was preparing to commence a new war. Could France alone have a right to examine, question, or cancel treaties, without assigning any reason why she was not bound by them? If there remained any hope for the maintenance of peace in Europe against such a power as France, it must be grounded upon a determination that she should be bound by the force of her contracts. Europe was not to tolerate her principles of destroying treaties, such as she avowed in the case of the opening of the Scheldt, for instance, some years ago. So now she renounced her contract by one of the most insulting papers ever known in the annals of diplomacy, called by Caulaincourt "a proposition for peace," which was founded only on this—that France might, at her pleasure, dispense with all compacts. What occasion was there now for the question whether relations should be entered into with France, seeing that she had shown that she would not abide by any treaty? She gloried in violating a treaty. She scattered it to the winds. By twenty-five years of fatal experience, she had taught Europe how she appreciated treaties. Other securities must, therefore, be found for her than those of solemn compacts. To all propositions from Buonaparté there was an insuperable objection. He could offer no security. We had now a duty imposed upon us. He had flagrantly broken his faith; and because he had done so, were we to break faith with our Allies? If they called on us to enforce an unjust demand, we might reply, that we were no party to the matter. If they called on us to support one, which though just was yet new, we might say, that the interest of the country was to be first considered. But our Allies now called upon us only for the observance of a treaty agreed to by all, and we could not consistently set up a plea of our own interest as a reason for not assisting in securing its observance. To refuse to maintain the Treaty of Paris, would be conduct towards our Allies of a character similar to the bad faith of Buonaparté. There were yet other grounds for deciding on this fearful alternative. He held good faith to our Allies to be indispensable; but his real opinion was, that it was essential to, the general security of all (he knew not how to make shades of difference), that the stipulations of the Treaty should be enforced. No 368 reasonable man, certainly no man in that House, could confide in the security to be found in treaties with Buonaparté. Security must be looked for in other means. Speaking of the security or insecurity of treaties, he should not attempt a statement of had many violations of treaties Buonaparté had been guilty; but he would ask any one to show him a single country during the last ten or twelve years, which had sought peace or safety by treaty with him, that had not found itself visited with the aggravation of the very evils it had so attempted to ward off? Instead of enumerating violations, he would ask, who would rest his security on Buonaparté; and who would point out a treaty with him that was not followed by the detriment of the other contracting party? His noble friend, in a laudable anxiety for peace, which he fully shared with him, had indulged in expectations in which he (Lord Grenville) could not indulge. Age certainly imposed limits on the activity and ambition of man; but, with respect to Buonaparté, that period had not as yet arrived. As little could he trace as to the amendment of his disposition. God forbid he should suppose that no amendment could take place in any man: but in looking to the general safety of nations, and to the happiness and existence of his own country, he could not rest upon probabilities merely, where especially he saw no reasonable hopes, and when the very act of the man which occasioned the present crisis, was one of the strongest examples of his faithlessness and ambition which his life had offered. Lord Grenville said, that from any means of information which he possessed, he knew not how to estimate the proportion of those in France who desired the return of Buonaparté, and of those who wished for any other government. It appeared, however, that he was replaced by the active efforts of the military. There were no traces of any other interference. Though he could not estimate and distribute the different proportions of the opinions of the French; yet from all he had heard, from every report on the subject that he had read, it did appear that under Louis the 18th the army felt a radical discontent at the pacific principles of that monarch. His moderation and pacific disposition was the very cause, for which, as for a crime, he was deposed. He was the victim of peace. He was the sacrifice of his good faith. He had not suffered, like his unfortunate brother Louis 369 16, upon charges alleged against him, for designing to violate the liberties of France, or for any harshness of proceeding. His Government was a government of lenity. It could not be charged against him that he was shaking the constitution that had been formed. Though it was the interest of the present Government to find out charges of a disposition to unsettle the present state of property in France, he had not been able to discover a single proof of any such accusation. The lawful assemblies under the new constitution paid him all allegiance up to the very moment that he became an exile. It was because he was the friend of peace, and was desirous to keep peace with the other countries of Europe, that a soldiery, accustomed to rapine, and raised by their former Chief to principalities and powers, carded out of the just rights of other people, were discontented, and desired no Monarch, but a General prepared to renew the work of spoliation. Was it nothing now to be desired to sanction a system under which Europe had so long groaned, With such ah army and such a chief at its head? If his disposition was said to have undergone some change, his situation again was now changed; and as the army was formerly upheld by spoliation and plunder, so now, for the same objects, he was recalled by his former instruments, who alone could maintain him in his regained power. As to new constitutions, he was firmly of opinion, that a good constitution could only be formed by the adaptation of remedies from time to time, under the circumstances which required them. The only exception mentioned was that of America; but that did not apply. The founders of that constitution acted with great wisdom. It was framed so as to produce as little change as possible in the existing laws and manners under the altered form of government, which, though a republic, was constructed as nearly as the difference would admit, on the monatchical form of our own constitution. If any person would consider the present situation of Buonaparté in France, it most appear that, judging by all human probability, it would be necessary for him (even supposing we were inclined to remain at peace with him), to keep his army in humour with him, by leading them on to some fresh aggression against some foreign nation; which would force us into the contest, however we might be disinclined to it. If we looked at all his former policy, 370 we should see that he was under a sort of necessity of maintaining his power by the same means by which he had acquired it. Against his recurring to his former policy, his noble friend appeared, by the amendment he had moved, to consider that it would be sufficient security for this country to continue in peace with him. A state of peace did not, however, now exist between us and Buonaparté. We had now no treaty with him; and he wished to know upon what grounds we could now negociate with him? In the overture, as it was called, that Buonaparté had made to this country, he mentioned nothing about the Peace of Paris, nor even condescended to say any thing as to the terms on which he was disposed to treat with us. It appeared, however, by lord Clancarty's letter, that the proposal which was forwarded to Vienna, was, that he was content to abide by the Treaty of Paris. He, for his part, had always thought that by that Treaty, the great points which remained to be settled for the future peace of Europe were left too undefined. It was settled, indeed, that France should preserve her ancient frontiers, and that we were to restore to her the greater part of her colonies. All the other great interests of Europe were, however, reserved to be discussed at the Congress, to which France also sent her minister. Now, if it were proposed to negociate for peace with Buonaparté on the terms of the Treaty of Paris, was it also to be left open to him to interfere in all those arrangements that by that Treaty were left undefined, but which had since been agreed upon by the different Powers at Vienna? If this was the case, even although we might take the Treaty of Paris as the foundation of peace, we should soon find ourselves entangled in a hostile negociation with Buonaparté, about those other interesting points which had been happily settled, after long deliberation, by the Congress at Vienna. With such a wide field of discussion thrown open, what hopes could there be of the defensive system being long maintained? It was impossible for their lordships not to recollect what differences had existed between the Powers of Europe upon those points, when they were under discussion. How greatly would those differences be increased, if those discussions were now to be re-opened, and Buonaparté was admitted to become a party in them. Under such circumstances, and with all the opportunities he would then 371 have of sowing divisions, what hope could be entertained of preserving the defensive system recommended in the Amendment to the Address?—[Lord Grenville here appeared to be taken suddenly ill, and concluded rather abruptly, by stating, that for the reasons he had stated, he should support the Address.]
§ The House then divided, when the numbers were,
|For the Amendment—Present||35|
|Majority for the Address||112|
|List of the Minority.|
|Argyll||Say and Sele|
|Cowper||Earl of Thanet|
|Ilchester||Earl of Guilford|
|Carnarvon||Duke of Leinster|