Imatges de pÓgina


Mr. Tierney then fpoke to the following eff. &t:

I rife in purfuance of a notice I gave fome time paft to make a motion and fubmit it to the opinion of the Houfe at this important crifis of public affairs:

"That it is the duty of his Majefty's minifters to advise his Majefly against entering into any engagements which may prevent or impede a Negociation for Peace, whenever a ditpoûtion shall be fhewn on the part of the French Republic, to treat on ternis confiftent with the fecurity and interetts of the British Empire."

Sir, I trust that you and the Houfe will believe me when I fay that no man can be more impreffed than I am with the arduous nature of the task I have undertaken; it is, all circumftances confidered, to me particularly arduous, for reafons, which are not neceifary, all of them, to be fated. I have no other inducement to come forward than that which arifes from the confcioufnefs of my duty, nor have I any other motive whatever for what I am now doing. for I am not acting in concert with any other individual whatever, being impelled fimply by the fenfe I feel of my duty, which is to me motive fufficient.

When I look at the fituation of our affairs at this moment, and compare it with that which it exhibited fome time fince, and when I couple that fituation with declarations from a variety of quarters, as well as from the higheft, which neceffarily procured great weight wherever they were known, I own I am impelled to make the motion which I have juft read to the Houfe. I am led to think that the pacific difpofition which, foon after the conference at Lifle, was manifested by his Majefty's declaration has been abandoned, and that a new spirit has begun to rife up, against which I enter my proteft. The fpirit I allude to is that which leads to an extenfive continental connexion, which may, in the opinion of many very honest men, be advantageous to this country, but which, in my opinion, must be the reverfe; and this is a matter of fo much importance to the welfare of this country, that I hope the Houfe will not think me too affuming if I request their attention to it.

The Houfe will, I dare fay, agree with me in this, that the fhorteft courfe I can take upon this occafion is most likely to be the best; and, with that view I think I cannot do better than to proceed to anfwering thefe points which I conceive are likely to be urged as objections to my motion. I take this courfe, because it appears to me to be the most

plain and fimple one I can adopt. I have taken all poffible pains to learn what objections are likely to be urged against the motion. I have looked them over carefully, and, if I could find that thefe objections were well founded, I thould not have felt any fhame; on the contrary, I fhould have been proud to come forward to acknowledge my error, and to ask pardon of the Houfe for having once called its attention to a motion which I was convinced was improper; but the more I confider the matter, the more I am convinced I was right in my firft conception of it.

I know it may be faid that this motion is an encroachment on the prerogative of the crown, that it breaks in upon the unbounded power which the crown has of making war or peace; but I think this is a point which will not be much infifted upon when it is confidered that the power of this Houfe is unquestionable with refpet to granting fupplies. I have, as a member of this Houfe, as good a right to fay that the fupplies granted to the crown fhall be granted exclufively for England, as to fay, what no man doubts I have a right to fay, there fhall not be any fupply. Nobody difputes that right now; and I apprehend, that as little can be faid against the other, and therefore the objection that this motion is an encroachment on the prerogative of the crown is answered.

But it may be faid, that this motion has a tendency to damp the fpirit which is now riling in Europe. If that fpirit was rifing, and was likely to animate all Europe against the ambitious projects of the common enemy, I fhould be fo far from wishing to damp it, that I thould with to inspire the ardour of it; I fhould be the laft man in this country who would wish to encourage fuch a fpirit. [A cry of hear! hear! from the minifter] But I have no idea that my motion would, if affented to, have any fuch operation. I fay this, becaufe I do not think that there is in Europe that fpirit which can be at all affected by fuch a motion as that which is now before you. What principle there is to govern the fpirit to which I have alluded, I have yet to learn; by what I have seen, I am led to think there is no fymptom of any fpirit rifing from principle in any quarter; and I need not fay much to convince the Houfe, that the value of any fpirit, and even the duration of it, muft depend upon the principle on which it is founded: and yet this is called a plan for the general deliverance of Europe. I fhould be glad to know where I am to look for the fpirit which has this tendency?

I have

I have obferved the conduct of the Powers of the continent, but I cannot fee any thing like this fpirit. Look at Pruffia; that power has been at peace now for three years, and the minifter of the French Republic is there now treated with all the refpect which nations obferve towards thofe with whom they with to continue a good understanding; at leaft there is no appearance of the want of cordiality between his Pruffian. Majefty and the French Republic. If we look at the Emperor, we cannot fay there is any difpute actually between him and the French. There is indeed a congress held at Radftadt, but that is, I believe, nothing more than a trial for each party to make the best of a mere fquabble to the right and left bank of a river. If you look at Ruffia, you will not fee, or, I confefs I think you will not fee, any thing inte refting. In short, I confefs I can fee nothing from that quarter but profeffion, in which fpecies of affiftance to the common caufe, none can go further than the Court of Peterfburgh; but, really, what other exertions have been made. from that quarter, I am yet to learn. If we look at the Ottoman Porte, we fhail fee, at leaft I can fee, nothing like principle in the fpirit that has thewn itself. I fee, indeed, fume refentment expreffed againft what I undoubtedly confider as a fudden act of injuftice. If any body fuppofes that I do not mean to fay the French have been guilty of the most fcandalous injuftice, he mistakes me very much. But I fee nothing in the conduct of the Ottoman Porte, which leads me to think, that the refentment fhewn in that quarter is a refentment ariling from any principle on which we can reckon for any permanency: on the contrary, it appears to be a fpirit. that may be appeafed by only altering the course of that which produced it. Ifee nothing like a systematic courfe of oppofition to the ambitious projects of the enemy in general. The fpirit of oppofition to the enemy there, will difcontinue the inftant they gain for themfelves what they want. They will have no fhare in the general deliverance of Europe. Waiting, therefore, to hear where this fpirit to refift the French is to be feen, and to be better informed in thefe particulars than I am at prefent, I fhall go on with my obfervations, believing, as I do in my confcience, that I am doing no injury whatever to the ardour of any of the Powers of Europe. But it may be faid, "although this spirit does not yet appear every where, yet your motion ought not to be made, for it may prevent that fpirit from being excited, and would not fuch an effect be dangerous to the general confe


deracy Certainly, if there be fuch a confederacy, as that
from which you expect to work the deliverance of Europe;
but I apprehend it will be granted to me, that, unless the
confederacy be general, it cannot be attended with any ex-
tenfive advantages. If only one power or two powers exert
them felves, none of thofe fplendid objects, of which we have
heard a good deal, can be rationally expected to be accom-
plished. Now, with refpect to a general confpiracy, I am
not speaking at random, or on fpeculation, for it is a fub-
ject on which I have had pofitive experience; and which ex-
perience, under all the circumftances with which it comes
before the House, ought to make it cautious, at least, how it
acts in future, The great confederacy against France was
when the unfortunate monarch was under trial, and at the
time of his death; that was the time when the combined
powers were in the greatest force against France; it was then
that France was not under the advantages of a fettled govern-
ment; when all that the poffeffed was employed only to refift
actual invasion; when her troops were raw and undifciplined,
and when, in fhort, the had nothing to depend upon, or to
oppose to all her difficulties, but the energy of the people.
This was the time when the power of a confederacy against
France was most formidable to her. Let Gentlemen con-
fider what are now the boundaries of the French Republic,
and then let them look at what is to be effected by a general
Confederacy. Circumftances muft materially have changed
from those of the former, before we can reasonably hope for
any advantage from a new confederacy, or before it can pro-
duce any effect different from the laft; and what that effect
was, I have no pleasure in detailing to the House. What
produced the difcomfiture of the confederates? The fkill of
the French, or the jealoufy and indecifion of the confede-
rates? Take which you will of thefe two, and the conclu-
fion will be the fame. Shall I be told that the skill of the.
French is lefs now than it was then? That their strength is
lefs; that their Generals are lefs able, their army less steady
or lefs powerful? I think not, Sir. Now take the other fide,
the alternative. Is there now a greater probability that the
allies will adhere to each other better than they did formerly?
Have they a greater ardour for the common cause now than
they had then? Look at the relative fituation of the different
powers. Is it to be believed that Auftria will place more
confidence in Pruffia, fuppofing a new confederacy formed,
than fhe did formerly? Can we have more confidence in
VOL. I. 1798.

[merged small][ocr errors]

either of them, after we have been deferted by both? Will any gentleman fay that we ought to vote larger fupplies than any that have yet been voted for the purpose of adjusting this or that point which may belong to the left or the right fide. of the Rhine? Can any man fay that thefe are points effential to the welfare of Great Britain? Can any of the powers expect much from the co-operation of Ruffia? Can the Empefor expect much cordial support from those who have deferted him already? Can we look with any degree of hope from the decifive and prompt action of the Ottoman Porte? Will any man lay his hand upon his heart and fay, that any of the combinations I have ftated can be of real fervice to Great Britain? Well: but the question is altered, and other nations now feel what their interefts are, better than they did formerly. Those who reflect on the tenour of the state papers, on the manifeftoes of 1793 and 1794, will do the parties combined against France the juftice to fay, that whatever they may have failed in, they did not fail in foretelling the enormities of France. Nothing that has happened could have aftonished the confederate powers, for they predicted all the evils that have happened in confequence of the anarchy of France-nothing has happened which they did not diftinctly foretel; nor did they fail to afcribe all the evils that have happened to French principles; and here it is proper I should explain what I mean by French principles; I think this the more necellary because they are misunderstood by fome, or at least they are differently understood by different perfons. Some gentlemen call all defire for a parliamentary or other reform, in any concern to the nation, the refult of French principles with fuch men I cannot agree. But as to those French principles which have produced and are fupporting the prefent tyranny of France, no man would rife up fooner than myself to reprobate or rejoice more heartily at the extinction of fuch a principle. But can you fuppofe that any thing can be done to inflame there fentment of all these perfons more than has been done by the French republic? Can you fuppofe that any thing can he done to excite deeper hatred in monarchy against French principles than the conduct held towards that Monarch? Can you believe that the nobility of any country can have greater anger against any thing, than they have against that conduct which abolished their whole order at once, and worked the total deftru&ion of their titles? Do you believe that any thing would make the prayers of the church more fervent againit anarchy than the overthrowing


« AnteriorContinua »