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dizement, and violations of treaty, afford a constant theme of general reproach against the ancient government of France? And if not, can we hesitate whether we have the best prospect of permanent peace, the best security for the independence and safety of Europe from the restoration of the lawfal government, or from the continuance of revolutionary power in the hands of Bonaparte?
In compromise and treaty with such a power, placed in such bands as now exercise it, and retaining the same means of
annoyance which it now possesses, I see little hope of permanent security. I see no possibility at this moment of concluding such a peace as would justify that liberal intercourse which is the essence of real amity; no chance of terminating the expences or the anxieties of war, or of restoring to us any of the advantages of established tranquillity; and as a sincere lover of peace, I cannot be content with its nominal attainment; I must be desirous of pursuing that system which promises to attain, in the end, the permanent enjoyment of its solid and substantial blessings for this country and for Europe. As a sincere lover of peace, I will not sacrifice it by grasping at the shadow, when the reality is not substantially within my reach.
Cur igitur pacem nolo? Quia infida est, quia periculosa, quia esse non potest *)..
If, Sir, in all that I have now offered to the House, I have succeeded in establishing the proposition, that the system of the French revolution has been such as to afford to foreign powers no adequate ground for security in negociation, and that the change which has recently taken place. **) has not yet afforded that security; if I have laid before you a just statement of the nature and extent of the danger with which we have been threatened; it would remain only shortly to consider, whether there is any thing in the circumstances of the present moment to induce us to accept a security confessedly inadequate against a danger of such a description.
It will be necessary, here to say a few words on tbe subject on which Gentlemen have been so fond of dwelling, I mean our former negociations, and particularly that at Liste
*) Warum also mag ich keinen Frieden? Weil er treulos, weil er gefährlich ist, weil er nicht Statt finden kann. **) Die Veränderung der Constitution dursh Bonaparte.
in 1797. I am desirous of stating frankly and openly the true motives which induced me to concur in then recommending negociation; and I will leave it to the House, and to the country, to judge whether our conduct at that time was inconsistent with the principles by which we are guided at present. That revolutionary policy which I have endeavoured to describe, that gigantic system of prodigality and bloodshed by which the efforts of France were supported, and which counts for nothing the lives and the property of a nation, had at that period driven us to exertions which had, in a great measure, exhausted the ordinary means of defraying our immense expenditure, and had led many of those who were the most convinced of the original justice and necessity of the war, and of the danger of jacobin prin ciples, to doubt the possibility of persisting in it, till complete and adequate security could be obtained. There seemed, too, much reason to believe, that without some new measure to check the rapid accumulation of debt, we could no longer trust to the stability of that funding system, by which the nation had been enabled to support the expense of all the different wars in which we have engaged in the course of the present century. In order to continue our exertions with vigour, it became necessary that a new and solid system of finance should be established, such as could not be rendered effectual but by the general and decided concurrence of public opinion. Such a concurrence in the strong and vigorous measures necessary for the purpose could not then be expected, but from satisfying the country, by the strongest and most decided proofs, that peace on terms in any degree admissible was unattainable.
Under this impression we thought it our duty to attempt negociation, not from the sanguine hope, even at that time, that its · result could afford us complete security, but from the persuasion, that the danger arising from peace under such circumstances, was less than that of continuing the war with precarious and inadequate means. The result of those negociations proved, that the enemy would be satisfied with nothing less than the sacrifice of the honour and independence of the country. From this conviction, a spirit and enthusiasm was excited in the nation, which produced the efforts to which we are indebted for the subsequent change in our situation. Having witnessed that happy change, having observed the increasing prosperity and security of the country from that period, seeing how much more satisfactory our prospects now are, than any which we could then have derived from the successful result of negociation, I have not scrupled to declare, that I consider the rupture of the negociation, on the part of the enemy, as a fortunate circumstance for the country. But because these are my sentiments at this time, after reviewing what has since passed, does it follow that we were, at that time, 'insincere in endeavoaring to obtain peace? The learned Gentleman *), indeed, assumes that We were, and he eyen makes a concession, of which I desire not to claim the benefit: he is willing to admit that on our view of the subject, insincerity would have been justifiable. I know, Sir, no plea that would justify those who are entrusted with the conduct of public affairs, in holding out to Parliament, and to the nation, one object, while they were, ja fact, pursuing another. I did, in truth, believe, at the moment, the conclusion of peace (if it could have been obtained), to be preferable to the continuance of the war under its increasing risks and difficulties. I therefore wished for peace, I sincerely laboured for peace. Our endeavours were frustrated by the act of the enemy. If, then, the circumstances are since changed, if what passed at that period has afforded a proof that the object we aimed at was unattainable, and if all that has passed since has proved, that if peace had been then made, it could not have been durable, are we bound to repeat the same experiment, when every reason against it is strengthened by subsequent experience, and when the inducements which led to it, at that time, have ceased to exist ?
When we consider the resources and the spirit of the country, can any man doubt that if adequate security is not now to be obtained by treaty, we have the means of prosecuting the contest without material difficulty or danger, and with a reasonable prospect of completely attaining our object? I will not dwell on the improved state of public credit, on the continually increasing amount in spite of extraordinary temporary burdens), of our permanent revenue, on the yearly accession of wealth, to' a degree unprecedented even in the most flourishing times of peace, wbich we are
*) Th. Erskine,
deriving, in the midst of war, from our extended and flourish, ing commerce; on the progressive improvement and growth of our manufactures; on the proofs wbich we see on all sides of the uninterrupted accumulation of productive capital and on the active exertion of every branch of national industry, which can tend to support and augment the population, the riches, and the power of the country.
As little need I recal the attention of the House to the additional means of action which we have derived from the great augmentation of our disposable military force, the continued triumphs of our powerful and victorious navy, and the events which, in the course of the last two years, have raised the military ardour and military glory of the country tó a height unexampled in any period of our history,
In addition to these grounds of reliance on strength and exertions, we have seen the consummate skill and valour of the arms of our allies proved, by that series of unexampled success in the course of the last campaign, and we have every reason to expect a co-operation on the continent, even to a greater extent, in the course of the present year. If we compare this view of our own situation with every thing we can observe of the state and condition of our enemy; if we can trace him labouring under equal difficulty in finding men to recruit his army, or money to pay it; if we know that in the course of the last year the most rigorous efforts of military conscription were scarcely sufficient to replace to the French armies at the end of the campaign, the numbers which they had lost in the course of it; if we have seen that force, then in possession of advantages which it has since lost, was unable to contend with the efforts of the combined armies; if we know that, even while supported by the plunder of all the countries which they had overrun, the French armies were reduced, by the confession of their commanders, to the extremity of distress, and destitute not only of the principal articles of military supply, but almost of the necessaries of life; if we see them now driven back within their own frontiers, and confined within a country whose own resources have long since been proclaimed by their successive governments to be unequal either to paying or maintaining them; if we observe, that since the last revolution no one substantial or effectual measure has been adopted to remedy. the intolerable disorder of their finances, and to supply the
deficiency of their credit and resources; if we see through large and populous districts of France, either open war levied against the present usurpation, or evident marks of disunion and distraction which the first occasion may call forth into a flame'; if, I say, Sir, this comparison be just, I feel myself authorised to conclude from it, not that we are entitled to consider ourselves certain of ultimate success, not that we are 'to supposé ourselves exempted from the unforeseen vicissitudes of war; but that, considering the value of the object for which we are contending, the means for supporting the contest, and the probable course of human events, we should be inexcusable, if, at this moment, we were to relinquish the struggle on any grounds short of entire and complete secarity, against the greatest danger which has ever yet threatened the world; that from perseverance in our efforts under such circumstances, we have the fairest reason to expect the full attainment of that object; but that at all events, even if we are disappointed in our more sanguine hopes, we are more likely to gain than to lose by the continuation of the contest: that every month to which it is continued, even if it should not in its effects lead to the final destruction of the Jacobio system, must tend so far to weaken and exhaust it, as to give us at least a greater comparative security in any other termination of the war: that, on all these grounds, this is not the moment at which it is consistent with our interest or our duty to listen to any proposals of negociation with the present ruler of France; but that we are not therefore pledged to any unalterable determination as to our future conduct; that in this we must be regulaled by the course of events; and that will be the duty of his Majesty's Ministers, from time to time, to adapt their measures to any variation of circumstances, to consider how far the effects of the military operations of the allies, or of the internal disposition of France, correspond with our present expectations; and, on a view of the whole, to compare the difficulties or risks which. may arise in the prosecution of the contest, with the prospect of ultimate success, or of the degree of advantage which may be derived from its further continuance, and to be governed by the result of all these considerations, in the opinion and advice which they may offer to their sovereign *).
*) Pitt's Meinung obsiegte; denn es erklärten sich beim