SPEECHES
}

THE


SPEECHES
OF


THE RIGHT HONOURABLE


WILLIAM PITT,
IN THE


HOUSE OF COMMONS.


;PANTO MACIS ADM/RAREMINI SI AUDISSETIS IPSOhI
CICERO.


THE THIRD EDITION.


IN THREE VOLUMES.


VOL. III.
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--CONTENTS
. ...


.................. .......,.


.....THE...THIRD. VOLUME..


Page
Dec. 14.-1798: 11r"1iobart's report of the committee on


t/ier bill for imposing a general tax on
...... • the • -nation . ... • 1


Jan. 23. 1799. His Majesty's message relative to an union
between Great Britain . and Ireland


15
28


71


80


91
147


— 31. — Ditto
Apr. 19. — Report of the secret committee relative to


seditious societies
June 7. — His Majesty's message relative to his engage-


ments with the Emperor of Russia
Feb. 3. 1800. His Majesty's message relative to overtures


of peace with the French government


— 17. — Imperial subsidy ............... "41


Printed by A. Strahun,
Printers-Street, London.


.?;4114.15,10'i Apr. 21. — Union with Ireland 160
Nov. 11. -- His Majesty's speech on opening the session 182
— 27. — Mr. Tierney's motion for a committee on the


state of the nation
195


Feb. 2. 1801. His Majesty's speech on opening the session 220
Mar. 12. — Lord Castlereagh's motion respecting mar-


tial law in Ireland


234
List of Administration


24.1
25. —Mr. Grey's motion for a committee on the


state of the nation


242
Nov 3 — Preliminaries of peace with the French repub-


lic
264




iv
CONTENTS.


June 3. — Colonel Patten's motion for a vote of censure -Page


enera


on ministers.,
defenlG


.bill
................ ........ ................. . 282




ce


.................................... 287Feb
.27.1804. Volunteer regulation bill .............................. 303


Mar. 15. ---Mr. Pitt's motion on the state of naval' de-
fence .....


.......................... . .........Apr. 23. ---Defence ...........
311
332
354,


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368


of
the country .................................25. Army of reserve suspension bill ........


............


List of Administration. ........................
18. -- Additional force


Feb.
June


.......


........................11.1805. War with Spain
............ ..... ..............


8. — Proceedings respecting
May
Apr.


369
..... 382


Lorcl


......Ditto......
. ... . ......


13.--
6.


..... 401
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.. . ... ....


418
420
431


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---- Roman Catholic petition
...............................June 25. -- Impeachment of Lord


MR. PITT'S


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


December 14. 1798.


MR. HOBART brought up the report of the committee on the bill
for imposing a general tax upon income. On the question, " that this
report be now taken into further consideration,"


Mr. PITT, in reply to Sir John Sinclair, and some other members, who
had expressed their decided hostility to the bill, spoke to the following
effect :


SIr,- Impressed as I am with the conviction that there never
was a subject of greater importance in all its aspects, and in all
its consequences, agitated within these walls, I should not have
thought it incumbent upon me, in the present stage of the busi-
ness, to have troubled you with any observations, were there not
some points which have been touched upon to-night, which I am
desirous, as soon as possible, to place in their proper point of
view. What has been urged by some gentlemen who spoke in
the course of the debate, while it could not be considered fairly
as argument, was directed in such a manner against the farther
progress of the measure, was so calculated to excite prejudice,
and to beget misconception, that it demands some degree ofno-
tice. It is a satisfaction to me to find that the propriety of rais-
ing a certain part of the supplies within the year has in general
been conceded. If we can judge from what has appeared to-
night, there is nobody in the House, except the honourable ba-
ronet' who opened the debate, who is disposed to contest the


Sir Johns Sinclair.
VOL. III.


I




2
MR. PITT'S [Dac. 1795.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 3


principle. I am thus relieved from the necessity of detaining
the House with any argument upon that subject, or saying any
thing in reply to one solitary antagonist by whom the principle
was denied. Whatever authority may belong to that individual
member, and no man has more, the worthy baronet himself
seemed to rest entirely upon that authority, as he did not add a
single argument in support of his position. The House then
will no doubt be willing to dispense with any argument upon this
branch of the question.


There were some others, however, who, entering upon the con-
sideration of the subject with liberal professions of approbation,
and a firm conviction of the necessity of great and extraordhA
exertion in the cause in which we are engaged ; admitting the
benefits which might be derived both in presentvigour and perma-
nent resources, from the plan of raising great part of the sup-
plies within the year, yet thought themselves at liberty, not after
full consideration of the whole details, not after weighing ma-
turely the regulations by which this great principle is to be car-
ried into execution, and followed up with effect, not after long
and sincere endeavours to remedy what was defective, and to im-
prove what was wrong, reluctantly to dimiss the measure as im-
practicable to the end proposed, but, in the first instance, hastily,
peremptorily, and impatiently, to shut the door against all im-
provement, and to oppose all farther deliberation. Although
agreeing in tile principle, and aware as they must be that a mea-
sure of such magnitude and importance must depend much upon
the arrangement of details, and the regulation of provisions,
they seem resolved to check all attempt to bring thiise points
again into consideration. Confessing the necessity of great and
vigorous efforts for the salvation of the country, in which some
of them, now for the first time, have tardily discovered, that
our safety is involved, they do not wait to reject the measure
upon any ground of final and invincible objection, but they
come forward to resist it in the very outset, previous to a ma-
ture examination of its details, and a sincere endeavour to cor-
rect its provisions.


The honourable gentleman who spoke last approves of the
principle of raising a considerable part of the supplies within the
year, but he declares himself an enemy to any plan of rendering
that principal effectual by a general tax. The House will, no
doubt, think this a most valuable concession of the honourable
gentleman ! If it be necessary for the effort which we are called
upon to make, if it be essential to the firm establishment of pub-
lic credit, to the future prosperity of the empire, to obtain that
supply which is requisite for the vigorous prosecution of the con-
test, it is evident that it must be obtained by a sudden tax imme-
diately productive. If it is impossible, by an increase of the ex-
isting taxes on consumption, by introducing evils ten times more
severe than those which are imputed to this measure, it is evident
that nothing can realise the principle but some extraordinary and
general tax. If the honourable gentleman, as I perceive he does,
admits that such an increase of the taxes on consumption as
would produce ten millions within the year is impracticable, it
follows that there is no other mode but a tax upon property, so
far as it can be discovered. We must lay the contribution, then,
either upon capital or on income. From this general operation,
however, the honourable gentleman would exempt all those
whom he is pleased to call exclusively the useful classes, and lay
the whole of the weight on what he calls the useless class. In the
class of useless the honourable gentleman has thought proper to
rank all the proprietors of land, those men who form the line
which binds and knits society together—those on whom, in a
great measure, the administration of justice, and the internal
police of the country depends ; — those men from whom the poor
receive employment, from whom agriculture derives its im-
provement and support, and to whom, of course, commerce it-
self is indebted for the foundation on which it rests. Yet this
class the honourable gentleman thinks proper to stigmatise


as
useless drones, of no estimation or merit in the eyes of society.
When the consequences with which this light flippant theory,
the offspring of mere temporary unthinking policy, would be


Mr. W. Smith.
a 2




4
MR. PITT'S [MT. 14.


attended, are fairly considered, the honourable gentleman will
find that his distinction between useful and useless classes is as little.
founded in truth, as the practical system he founds upon it would
be consistent with the general interest of those whom he thinks
entitled to peculiar favour. The question then is, whether capi-
tal or income be the proper object of contribution ? The ho-
nourable gentleman says that capital is the criterion which ought
to be adopted in the case of the commercial man, and income
where it is derived from land. Taking for granted, that the prin-
ciples of the honourable gentleman were well founded, no less
than three-fourths of the whole income liable to contribution is
calculated to arise from this source. Even upon his own argu-
ment, then, he ought not to consider this measure as so incur-
able as to refuse going into the committee. If', then, he is sincere
in his profession of desire to facilitate the raising of a consider.
able part of the supplies within the year, why should he refuse to
proceed farther in a measure which is at least capable of embra-
cing three-fourths of his object ; and in other parts susceptible of
alteration and improvement ? If, however, what has been so uni-
versally recognised as important to be clone, is to be done effec-
tually, and the great consideration is, on which of these leading
objects it will be most advantageous to the public, and least in-
convenient to the classes of contribution to impose this general
and comprehensive tax, I am afraid, that to that very plan,
which he himself thinks preferable, those objections on which
he rested the desponding hope, that the country neither could,
nor would submit to the measure, would apply with aggravated
force. Every objection, which he so long and vehemently urged 4.
against the danger of disclosure, will apply to those new theories
of policy on which he would act. The honourable gentleman
says, he is against disclosure. How, then, is he to ascertain the
amount of that commercial capital, the profits of which he
thinks might justly be made to contribute? Would he be con-
tented with that loose declaration, which expelience has proved
to be so favourable to evasion? Would he recognise the justice
of a principle, which he would utterly defeat and nullify by the


51798.3


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


provisions he recommends to carry it into effect ? What then.
does he do to support that great cause, to invigorate those ex-
traordinary efforts which are necessary for our success in a con-
test, which all but a few, who but lately have got some few
lights, have long considered to be connected with our existence?
Yet, when appearing for the first time as a proselyte to the cause
of his country and of mankind, though standing in the new cha-
racter of a convert, he still retains so much of the bias of his old
opinions, that he denies the means of rendering those measures
effective, which he acknowledges to be indispensable, and car-
rying into practice that principle which he professes to approve.


The real dispute between us, then, is nothing but a matter of
detail. The greater part of the honourable gentleman's speech was
founded upon objections to the provisions of the bill ; and many
of his objections were either utterly unfounded in any thing it
contains, or they were of such a nature as to admit of being
corrected in the committee. In arguing the matter in this way,
in the present stage, the honourable gentlemen could he regular
only upon a point of strict form. He knows very well that the
bill went through the committee to get the blanks filled up with-
out undergoing any discussion in that stage, and that it was in-
tended to submit it at a future period to the detailed examination
of a committee. But granting that the present was, in a fair
view of the subject, the proper stage for the discussion of
points of detail, let us see what are the objections which, in
the honourable gentleman's estimation, are so fatal to the mea-
sure. To the main objection, which he urged so repeatedly, and
with so much acrimony, it may easily be answered, that the
honourable gentleman assumes what is not in the bill. It seem-
ed to be taken up merely to afford him an opportunity of em-
bellishing his discourse with the violent invective and offensive
epithet by which it was distinguished. I allude to what was
stated respecting the character and duties of the surveyor to be
appointed under the bill. I will not recapitulate the odious de-
scription which the honourable gentleman applied to the persons
who were to act in this capacity. What is the purpose— what is


s 3




6
MR. PITT'S [Dac. I4.


the tendency of such invective? What can be the effect of this
reproachful language, thus indiscriminately applied, but to bring
into discredit those officers under the revenue, without which it
could not be collected, and without which public business must be
at a stand ? The honourable gentleman says, that the surveyor is
at liberty to surcharge to any amount, and pending the appeal to
which this surcharge gives rise, the tax will continue to be levied
on the whole of the demand, including the surcharge. What is
the remedy which the honourable gentleman discovers for this ?
He tells us, in alluding to a remark of an honourable baronet
that the discussion of the appeal might be rendered so intricate
as to consume six, or even twelve months. This objection the
honourable gentleman urges triumphantly, at the very time too
that he states it to be the mode which a person surcharged will
adopt for his relief, at the very moment when he is compelled to
acquiesce in the payment of a surcharge, from which he takes
care that it shall be impossible for the commissioners of appeal
to relieve him ! Such an argument is the consequence which is
stated. In fact, however, it so happens, that no such grievance
can exist. The surveyor's surcharge is not acted upon in the
first instance, unless confirmed by the commissioners. The
surveyor has no discretion whatever to add to the charge on
which the contributor shall be compelled to pay. The objec-
tions of the honourable gentleman, instead of operating against
the bill in toto, demonstrate the necessity of going into the com-
mittee, that the bill may obtain a full consideration, and a fair




discussion.
As to the general declamation Upon the character and func-


tion of the surveyor, whom some gentlemen are pleased to con-
sider in the odious light of a spy, it is a matter for the commit-
tee to adjust the powers and the duties with which he shall be
entrusted. Is this, however, any argument for the immediate
rejection of the hill ? Does the honourable gentleman really
think that no precaution whatever ought to be taken to avoid
those scandalous evasions which there is but too much reason to


Sir Francis Baring.


1798.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 7


expect may be attempted ? But it is maintained by the honour-
able gentleman, that no evasions have taken place to defeat the
operation of the assessed tax bill which passed last session. He
is peculiarly fortunate in the instances which have occurred to
him, with respect to the, patriotism of' his friends ; but he has
rated their zeal beyond the mark. It is rather singular that he
has not taken the opportunity of extolling their liberality in sub-
scribing to the voluntary contributions. The observations made
by the friends of government, are, however, of a very different
kind. His must have been a chosen circle, yet others were as
large as the honourable gentleman's, before the new lights broke
in upon him. But notwithstanding the assertion, I must say,
that great and notorious instances of the concealment of property
have occurred, the check provided by the legislature has been
found insufficient to produce any adequate end, and the decla-
rations which have been given in, have, on various occasions,
eluded the expected operation of the act. Is it not then a mat-
ter of great concernment— is it not a subject worthy of' grave
deliberation, to consider what means may be devised to render
the measure proposed as efficient as possible to the public ser-
vice? The surveyor is not to be a person on whose discretion
any assessment is to depend ; he is to assist the commissioners
with information, and to discharge that duty which his oath pre-
scribes, of preventing evasion where it might be within his know-
ledge that it was attempted. It is said, in proof of the importance
of the surveyor's office, that they have great influence with the
commissioners in other matters where the revenue is concerned;
but, when the character of the commissioners is taken into view,
this remark will prove that, instead of that profligate, worthless
class, which the honourable gentleman describes, they are men
who recommended themselves by the propriety of their conduct
and the performance of their duty. But, says the honourable
gentleman, the surveyor is the only man whom we consider as
likely to be bound by his oath. Yet, is there no distinction between
the cases? Is the temptation to perjure the same ? Has the
man who is sworn to the performance of his duty, the same rea-


B 4,




8 MR. PITT'S [Dm 14.
1798.] 'PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 9


son to disregard it, which the man has who is endeavouring to
avoid the payment of money to the state? What, then, is re-
quired ?— A particular statement of income, to guard against
the evasion which was practised when a general statement was
only required. What is it but the means of correcting those frauds
which every man's observation but the honourable gentleman's
had ascertained to be prevalent ? The honourable gentleman
speaks, too, of the surveyor's power to extract from the books
of public bodies. Here the honourable gentleman, from not
attending to the bill itself, is entirely mistaken. The surveyor
has no such power ; he is to make extracts from, and to have
access to, the public books, to which at present even any person
may easily procure access for any purpose, even of mere curio-
sity. Might not any body now procure information how much
any mercantile house possesses in the three per cents ? The
surveyor, then, is authorized to suggest doubts, to collect in-
formation ; but he has no right whatever to ask questions of the
party surcharged, or to have any inspection of his books. Does
not the honourable gentleman, however, perceive that all these
points are proper subjects for consideration in a committee,
where it is perfectly competent to move any alteration which
gentlemen may think necessary ?


As to the criterion of the general tax, it has likewise been ob-
jected to the details, that the application is unequal in respect
to the nature of income, its duration, tke. Although I do not
intend to enter so much into the discussion of the provisions of
the bill, I am anxious to remove those erroneous conceptions
which are entertained upon this subject. Here 1 cannot help
remarking, that the arguments of the honourable gentleman, on
this branch, suppose that it is necessary to correct the inequa-
lities which distinguish the mode in which all taxes are imposed.
If such be the sentiment of the honourable gentleman, his ob-
jection goes a great deal farther than the bill before the House.
The inequalities of which he complains arise out of the nature of
society, and the distribution of its rank, and the classification of
its property. If he attempts to remedy what he in this considers


as urgent, he will attempt something which has never yet bee i
done by any system of taxation, something which springs from
theories of legislation, neither founded in wisdom nor justified by
experience. I proceed to explain my meaning more fully. The
honourable gentleman says, that if two persons have each 5001.
per annum, one of which derives his income from land, the other
from industry, they ought not to be both taxed equally at 501.
He assumes, that each having 4501. a year left, the impost is
unequal. What does the new tax do ? Are they not left in re-
lation to each other precisely as they were before ? The tax
creates no new inequality. The justice or injustice remain
precisely as they were. To complain of this inequality is to
complain of the distribution of property ; it is to complain of the
constitution of society. To attempt to remedy it, would be to
follow the example of that daring rabble of legislators in another
country, from whom the honourable gentleman borrowed sonic
of his political principles, and which, though he now reprobates,
he still seems inclined to follow up. To think of taxing these
two species of incomes in a different ratio, would be to attempt
what the nature of society will not admit ; what has never been
practised in the course of four thousand years. But on what
foundation does this principle, which the honourable gentleman
has broached, rest ? Where is the clear inequality on which he
so vehemently insists ? Is the industry of the artist, the manu-
facturer, the mechanic, less the creature of the protection of
law, less involved in the great contest in which we are engaged,
less likely to be overthrown in any disasters of the state, than
the income which arises from land ? I heard, with satisfaction,
the argument of the honourable baronet * behind me, though I
cannot, perhaps, go along with him to the extent to which he
carried it ; of this, certainly, I am sure, that if all classes in this
country are not strictly equal sharers in the advantages which
the constitution of this country affords, there are none who
ought: not to contribute in proportion to their means for the
public defence in a quarrel, in which the comforts and the hap..


'4' Sir William Young.




10
MR. PITT'S [Dm. 14.


piness of all are so deeply involved, unless when the compassion
of the legislature forbears to extend the scale of taxation to those
who are in the lowest class of income. The principle of the.
honourable gentleman then is entirely unfounded. In imputing
to that extravagant principle, which strikes at the whole
distribution of property in society, I am sure , I do nothing which
his own arguments do not justify; nor do I think I am mistaken
in stating those principles, for the honourable gentleman was
particularly careful to repeat his monstrous propositions over
and over again, in proportion as he saw that they were disgust-
ing to the feelings of the House. That industry ought to be
encouraged and promoted, is a sentiment which nobody will dis-
pute. It should he remembered, however, that this, among
many others, is a case in which virtue is its own reward. What,
then, is the true state of the argument ? An income of 5007.
from land may be equal to about 15,0001., so that a man is con-
tented to take three per cent-for his capital. In the funds, ac-
cording to circumstances, and in the different funds, a man may
have five, or even six per cent. If he lays out his capital in trade,
and adds to it his own industry, he gets from 10 to 15 per cent.
Now, if you leave the proportion undisturbed, what is it that
forms the encouragement to lay out money in trade and manu-
factures, but the improved produce derived from industry? This
is the incentive which enflames enterprise, and stimulates in-
genuity. Allow that order, under which your commerce and
your arts have risen to such an unexampled height of prosperity
to remain undisturbed, and you preserve that incentive, that
encouragement, and that reward, on which industry depends. I
much doubt, indeed, whether any table which the honourable
gentleman could form from all the new political lights which he
ever received, could lay the foundation more secure or more
permanent for arts, commerce, and every kind of exertion, than
that on which they have grown so great, and flourished so long.


There is another argument of great authority, which gentle-
men employ ; an argument which, for some time past, I have
seen much insisted upon in some of the newspapers -- that this


179s.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 11


'was a tyale, and that all tythes are unfavourable alike to indus-
try. The argument has no application to the present case. The
tenth, which this bill imposes, is a tenth of the clear profits after
the expenses of labour have been deducted. The more I have
thought upon this particular subject and upon taxation in gene-
ral, the more am I convinced not only of the futility, but the
danger of any attempt, by the distribution of imposts, to make
any difference in that order which the nature of society has
already established. It is necessary to observe the arrangements
which have been already formed, and to accommodate the pro-
portion of taxes to the classes of property which have already
been marked. To proceed beyond this, is to dissolve all estab-
lished principles, and to overthrow the fabric of society which
time and the progress of accumulation have reared.


Another curious inference may be drawn from the observa-
tions made against the hardships incurred by persons possessed
of life estates, of temporary ones, and of those who receive the
rewards of laborious employments. It happens singularly enough,
that the public offices held under government, uniting in their
nature profits derived from labour and temporary estates, are
included in the operation of the bill. Now, Sir, these gentle-
men who oppose it, have proposed on former occasions, as a
great resource for the national expenditure, that all those offices
should be made to contribute largely to the public service — I
do not mean sinecures, for they wished to suppress them. The
calculations furnished this night are not more exact than those
of the honourable baronet on that occasion ; the references cer-
tainly were not those of the board of agriculture, [a general
laugh] ; but the honourable baronet had made the prodigious
discovery, that if all the public offices were placed on a reduced
establishment, and: others suppressed, the sum of ten millions
would be saved to the public. I was highly pleased with the
project, and sincerely wished for the execution of it ; but I
was always unfortunately stopped in every attempt I made to go
on with it, but finding that the entire expenses of the public of-
fices only


amounted to one-tenth of the prodigious saving which




12


MR. PITT'S [Dec. 11.
was so confidently held out. The honourable baronet's attention
has been taken up with agricultural studies and military tactics,
or lie might have known, that a committee appointed for the
express purpose, had made a very different calculation. We
have already had a committee of finance, which has discharged
the important duties attached to it in the most satisfactory man-
ner — a committee which, except that the honourable baronet
was not a member of it, is perfectly to the mind of every gentle-
man in this House, and many of its suggestions for economy
and regulation have been carried into effect with great advan-
tage. — From this digression, however, into which I have been
carried by the subject of offices, I now return.


I was stating with how little favour the honourable gentleman
and his friends formerly considered annuities for life in the case
of laborious offices ; let us now see how their old opinions tally
with their new, namely, this branch of income was most obnox-
ious to taxation, now it is to be most favoured. The honour-
able gentleman does not think that a great increase of taxes on
consumption would be more advantageous than a general tax
on all income. Is the inequality or the hardship greater now
than it was, or than it would be, should taxes on consumption
be increased ? If not, then the honourable gentleman is only
quarrelling with this tax, because it is not so unequal as the
former mode of contribution had been. This plan, which is
more general, more comprehensive, which embraces a great
deal of property which formerly eluded taxation, and, by con-
sequence, distributes the burden more fairly, is considered
inadmissible. But I am told, that a large sum within the year
cannot be raised by increasing the existing taxes on consumption.
What is the consequence ? Does not the honourable gentleman
compel us to resort to the more expensive expedient of raising
money by loans, instead of adopting a plan more extensive in
its effect, while it provides for the redemption of what it is ne-
cessary to borrow, without that load of permanent taxes, which
the funding system renders indispensable ? But, it is said that
a tax on capital is preferable. Was it not proved, however,


'798 PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 131.]
that from the state of landed property, not more than one-third
of it is now in the hands of persons who could be called upon to
contribute, so that two-thirds would be placed wholly out of
reach for any purpose of present exertion ? What is the great
object of the measure before the House ? Is it not to raise
within the year, from what constitutes the means of individuals
within the year, such a proportion as is deemed necessary for the
exigencies of the state, and the magnitude of the present crisis?
Do you wish to avoid burdening the public with a loan ? What
advantage would you derive from it, however, if individuals
mortgage their estates? Would hot the aggregate of' private
loans encumber the mass of national wealth as much as if the
nation contracted the obligation ? The object then is to make
the annual means of individuals applicable to a supply within
the year.


It is objected still, that it is unjust that the man .who has an
annuity or an income, the fruit of his labour, should pay in the
proportion of a man who has the same revenue from fixed pro-
perty. This objection is altogether a fallacy. A permanent
estate, which is represented as never dying, and, alit were, the
property of a man after his death, contributes on every exigency
which may occur ; the income from labour and industry is ex-
tinguished; it contributes but once; it is no longer the property
of the same person ; while the other, which is considered as the
same property, is subject to renewed demands. This reasoning
may be thought refined ; but the answer is justly applicable in
the case where the reason, why fixed property should contribute
more, is founded on its supposed permanency, in opposition to
the fleeting character of the other. How then is it possible to
discriminate between the various kinds of property? or to enter
into the details which could alone enable you to apply any scale
of exemption, without an investigation more oppressive, a dis-
closure more extensive, than any thing which the bill permits?
How much safer is it to submit to those inequalities which are
the lot of man, and which it is not the business, nor is it in the
power, of schemes of finance to correct ! Could we even in-




MR. PITT'S
[DEc. 14.


dulge the wish to correct these inequalities, which arise out of
the very nature of society, is this the legislative remedy ? Let
us then forbear to attempt what is perhaps beyond the power of
human legislation to correct. It is an enterprise that would
hurry us far beyond our depth, and lead to consequences far
more extensive than we can foresee, and might produce an over-
throw of all establishments, and all regular order, which it is
impossible to contemplate without apprehension. The principle
of argument that goes to remedy this supposed evil, belongs to
the school of dangerous innovation which we ought not for a mo-
ment to indulge. The consequence of this tax then will be, that
whoever contributes a tenth of his income under this bill, will
have a tenth less to spend, to save, or to accumulate. At the
end of the war those who shall have contributed will be no
poorer ; they will only be to the extent of it less increased in
riches than they would have been. The advantages of it are in
a particular manner in favour of those on whom it will fall, in-
stead of accumulating taxes on consumption, as it will bring all
income to contribute more equally, and include a great deal of
that which, in the hands of those who spend less than their in-
come, escapes contribution altogether. Laying aside the proud
idea of the vigour, permanence, and renewing energy which this
measure secures, there is one case which, with a view to that
class who are really willing to save for the benefit of those for
whom they are bound to provide, makes some modification. It
is in favour of those who have recourse to that easy, certain,
and advantageous mode of providing for their families by insur-
ing their lives. In this bill, as in the assessed taxes, a deduc-
tion is allowed for what is paid on this account.


Such is the general view of the merits of this important ques-
tion. It is one which has engaged much of my serious attention,
and I am far from presuming that it has already attained the
perfection of which it is capable. The inequalities objected to
it are not peculiar to its nature; they arise from our social state
itself, and the correction of that order we cannot, as we ought
not, attempt to alter. It would be a presumptuous attempt to


1798.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 15


derange the order of society, which would terminate in produ-
cing confusion, havoc, and destruction, and with a derange-
ment of property, terminate in the overthrow of civilised life.


The motion for the further consideration of the report was carried :
Ayes 183
Noes 17


January 23. 1799.
THE House, pursuant to the order of the day, proceeded to take into


consideration the following message from His Majesty relative to an
Union between Great Britain and Ireland :


" GEORGE R.
His Majesty is persuaded that the unremitting industry with which


our enemies persevere In their avowed design of affecting the separation
of Ireland from this kingdom, cannot fail to engage the particular atten-
tion of parliament ; and His Majesty recommends it to this House to
consider of the most effectual means of counterdcting and finally defeat -
inn design ; and he trusts that a review of all the circumstances
which have recently occurred ( joined to the.sentiment of mutual affec-
tion and common interest), will dispose the parliament of both king-
doms to provide, in the manner which they shall judge most expedient,
for settling such complete and final adjustment as may best tend to im-
prove and perpetuate a connexion essential for their common security,
and to augment and consolidate the strength, power, and resources of
the British empire. G. R."


After an address in the usual form had been moved by Mr. Dundas,
and an amendment upon it by Mr. Sheridan, entreating His Majesty not
to listen to the counsel of those who should advise an Union of the
legislatures of the two kingdoms under the existing circumstances of the
empire,


Mr. PITT rose :
ft,—Considering the manner in which this subject has been


agitated, I feel that I ought to make an apology to the House
for creating any delay in the determination of a point, upon
which I really think much difference of opinion cannot subsist ;
I mean upon the vote to be given on the question which is now
befwe us. But as this point, clear as in itself I take it to be, is
connected with others on which depends the best interest of the




16
MR. PITT'S [JAN. 2S.


whole of the British empire, I must ask the indulgence of the
House, while I advert to the general principle of the subject
which is now before us. It is far .from being my intention to do
now, what indeed could not now be regularly attempted, and
what hereafter it will be my duty to do — I mean, to lay before
this House a detailed particular of a plan, the spirit of which is
only alluded to in general terms in the gracious communication
from the throne to this House; that is what I shall have the
honour of doing hereafter : the matter for the discussion of the
House at this moment is comprised in the original motion of my
right honourable friend *, and the amendment proposed by the
right honourable gentleman. +


The address proposed in answer to the message, pledges the
House to nothing more than that of assuring His Majesty, that
you will take into your serious Consideration a subject which is
recommended to your care, and which is highly interesting to
the welfare of the British empire. The amendment of the
honourable gentleman calls upon you at once to declare, you
will not deliberate upon the matter. The honourable gentleman
produced one argument only in support of the conclusion he calls
upon you to draw, and which he says he has established. He
said, near the end of his speech, that which, if it were true,
would indeed establish his conclusion. He has told you, that
• you have no legitimate power of making your deliberations ef-
fectual. He has told you, without much argument, what no
other person has hitherto told this House in this House, but what
has been told it and the public, upon whom, by the way, it is in-
tended in the first instance to operate., in pamphlets and various
other publications which are daily ushered forth in this country
and in Ireland, that you have no legitimate power to determine
upon this measure. The honourable gentleman adopts that doc-
trine. He has taken upon himself to deny the right of the par-
liament of either kingdom to determine upon this matter. I
say the right of the parliament of either, for he cannot make
any distinction between the two. If the parliament of Ireland


* Mr. Dundas. 1- Mr. Sheridan.


1799.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


has no just power or legitimate authority without the immediate
instruction, not of its constituents merely, but of the people of
Ireland in the mass, —I say, if the parliament of Ireland has not
any legitimate authority to determine upon this subject without
the instructions of the people at large, as little has the parlia-
ment of England such authority as little had the parliament
of Scotland that authority —as little had the parliament of Eng-
land and Scotland that authority when they agreed upon the
union between the two kingdoms—an union under which has
crown up and flourished the prosperity of both; under which
the laws of both have been improved ; under which property has
been protected; under which has been cherished a principle of
cordial co-operation, which has led to the happiness of Great
Britain, and has rendered it the envy, and, I trust, will make
it the protection of surrounding nations. You sit in that chair,
Sir — I stand here before you— the honourable gentleman him-
self addressed you this night, called upon this House to entertain
a debate, without any right whatever ; we are all totally destitute
of legitimate authority, if the honourable gentleman is right in
the principle lie contended for this night upon this part of the
subject. Indeed if he be right in that principle, you have no
parliament in England possessed of legal and just authority at
this hour ; there is no act which you have performed for the last
ninety years, however well intended, or however effectual- for
the happiness of the people of Great Britain, that can be said
to be legitimate or legal.


I know not what ideas the honourable gentleman may enter-
tain., or what aid he expects, or what aid he will find ready to
be given to his doctrine, that " parliament is not competent to.
the discussion of this subject." I know it leads immediately to
the system of universal right of suffrage in the people ; to the
doctrine, that each man should have an actual share in the. go-
vernment of the country, by having a choice for his represent-
ative ; and then goes back to the whole system. of jacobinism,
which I thought had been pretty nearly exploded as soon as it
came to be pretty well understood all over Europe. I tar, ifVot.






ME. PIT'I'S PAN. 23,


the honourable gentleman avows this, then, but not till then,
will his argument upon this head of the subject be intelligible,
and consistent ; for without this, the whole of what he said upon
the matter will be quite obscure, if not altogether without a
meaning. The honourable gentleman, I believe, is not in his
heart any advocate for any such doctrine ; and yet to this length
his argument leads, or there is an end of that part of the topic
he brought before you. If you deny the competence of parlia-
ment which fully and freely represents all the people of this
country, (and here let it be remembered that I am using no lan-
guage of my own, but am following the approved language of
our ancestors,) there is an end of all your authority, not in this
point only, but in every other point. Now, let us see how this
will apply to the argument of the honourable gentleman in the
rest of his speech to-night, He complains that a question is
agitated, and an address is moved upon this subject. The address
is moved, as I said yesterday in this House it was intended
to be moved, and it involves a question upon which I thought
there would be no opposition — Why ? Because the detail of the
matter would not now be brought forward, That is reserved
for another opportunity ; and however necessary the measure
may be, and I am convinced it is, yet I know it has, and must
have its difficulties. I know it is liable, necessarily liable, to a
thousand difficulties, because subject to a thousand prejudices
and partial objections ; to sentiments hastily conceived by some,,
and eagerly adopted by others, to local and confined views, to
personal affections, and to a multitude of impediments, which,
however firm our own opinions may be of the indispensable
necessity of the measure for the happiness, and even the security
Of the British empire, yet have induced His Majesty's ministers
not to enter upon the detail at this moment. Upon these topics.
therefore, I shall decline for the present entering upon any ex-
planation. But although I do not think it right to detail the
subject at this moment, and although I may have that honoue
at another time, yet I must say that the honourable gentleman's
complaint against surprise is extremely ilI founded. I think


1799.3 PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


that if any „complaint could fairly be urged against us upon that
subject, it would be that we have shewn perhaps too much caue
lion against surprise ; and although ,(for the reasons I have
alleged already) I shall decline at present entering upon any
detail of the plan which is intended to be submitted to parlia-
ment, I must be allowed to answer the objections of the honour-
able gentleman. Here then let me again observe, that after a
message comes from the throne, recommending in substance an
union between the two kingdoms, nothing in the first instance is
proposed but a general address, pledging the House to nothing
more than that it will take the subject into serious consideration.
A day is stated, on which the outline of the plan to be submitted
to parliament is to be opened, that is the general principle of
the measure. The discussion is further to be postponed, nor is
it proposed that parliament shall be called upon to determine
upon it until after due time has been taken for ample deliberation,
I should have thought the honourable gentleman himself would
have at least allowed there was candour and fitirness in the mode
of the proceeding.


If, therefore, the case be as I state it — if His Majesty has
recommended the subject to your deliberation— if the address
contains only a pledge that you will deliberate, the short ques-
tion is — Should you now adopt the mode which those who have
the honour of serving His Majesty presume to recommend to you
gravely, and on which time will be given to deliberate on all its
parts ; or should you pronounce in the first instance, without
examination, that it is a measure wholly unnecessary, or so dan-
gerous, or impracticable, or so attended with evils, that you
will not even so much as enquire into its contents, that you will
at once shut the door against it? The honourable gentleman
seems to think so. It is not enough for us to say we shall bring
forward a proposition, involving in it the happiness of the whole
of the British empire, including points requiring great attention.
upon which we do not desire your immediate decision, but we
desire you to tell the throne, in answer to its gracious commu-
nication, that you will consider the subject, The honourable


c




20 MIL PITT'S t;.23.


gentleman says, No ! you shall enter upon no enquiry upon the
matter ; I know enough of it already to convince you that you
ought to reject it at once. If that be the proposition of the
honourable gentleman, and so it is, I conceive that he is bound
to make out that proposition to your satisfaction, in which case
I conceive he is called upon to prove, either that the present state
of Ireland is such that it requires no remedy whatever, or that
if it does require a remedy, a better may be proposed than any
which has an union for its basis, or that an union, at all events,
must be such an evil that you ought not to deliberate upon it at
all. This may he the opinion of the honourable gentleman, but
has be stated any thing to make out the propriety of that opi-
nion ? For many years past I have heard from that honourable
gentleman and his friends upon the affairs of Ireland nothing
but complaints and lamentations. They have been in the con-
stant habit of declaiming, sometimes upon the unjust and cruel,
at other times upon the inefficient and defective system by which
Ireland not only has been governed by the executive, but also by
the deliberative powers of the country. We have often been
reminded of the unfortunate distraction of all its parts of go-
vernment, and of the evils which have resulted from the whole
collectively ; nay we have been told, and that pretty confidently,
from a gentleman who usally took the lead on the other side of'
this House, that the system by which Ireland was governed was
radically defective ; that indeed it was so full of deformity in its
very constitution, as that, if we wished to answer the cavils of
those who disputed the beauty of the constitution of Great
Britain, we could not do better than desire them to look at her
sister, who was so ugly, that when she was beheld, all objections
against the other would vanish. I remember these things full
well, Sir, and I know not how the honourable gentleman has
forgotten them, and how he comes now to see none of these de-
fects. How he comes all at once to be satisfied that this was an
unjust picture of Ireland; how he comes to be all at once satis-
fied, that Ireland is as secure as she had need to be ; that her
government wants no remedy — is not for me, but for him to ex-


1 PA RLTAMENTARY SPEECHES. 21799 . ]
plain to this House. The novelty of his praise of the parliament
of Ireland is not to be suspected by me as an insincere compli-
ment. He has certainly seen that parliament do much that de-
served praise, but he has not seen enough to enable him to prove
that the happiness of that country is perfectly secure ; he has not
seen enough to prove that there has not lately been there a
desperate rebellion; lie has not seen enough to prove that this
Honse should conclude that the safety of that part of the British
empire is at this moment perfectly secure ; he has not seen
enough to enable him to prove that there exist not at this hour
in Ireland evils which we all deplore, and which we have much
more reason to deplore than we had those which he has so re-


. peatedly, and so vehemently, in -conjunction with others, called
to the attention of this House— I say the evils to which Ireland
is at this moment exposed, and the still greater evils to which it
may hereafter be exposed, if the wisdom of the legislature of the
two countries does not prevent it. I say that Ireland is subject
to great and deplorable evils, which have a deep root, for they
lie in the situation of the country itself— in the present cha-
racter, manners, and habits of its inhabitants—in their want of
intelligence, or, in other words, their ignorance— in the una-
voidable separation between certain classes—in the state of
property in its religious distinctions —in the rancour which
bigotry engenders and superstition rears and cherishes.


The honourable gentleman tells us these are evils which can-
not be cured in a moment. I know they cannot, Sir, but the
question is, whether we should not adopt sonre plan which may
lead to that cure in the course of time? If indeed it could have
been done by what that honourable gentleman and his friends
have often recommended in this House, by what they call a
catholic emancipation and a parliamentary reform, the task would
have been a good deal easier than in truth it is ; but catholic
emancipation and parliamentary reform is a phrase made use of
by some to cover designs of a very different nature. If such an
object)neattcould be kept in view and be attained by calm, dispas-s


sober investigation, no man would be readier than my-
c 3




MR. PITT'S
[JAN. 23.


self to assent to` any measure for that purpose. But if the state
of society is such, that laws, however wise in themselves, will be
ineffectual as to their object until the manners and customs of
the people arc altered —if men are in a state of poverty in which
it is impossible they can have any comfort if the progress of
civilisation depends in a great measure upon the distribution of
wealth — if the improvement of that wealth depends much upon
the distribution of capital --- if all the advantages to be derived,
from an increase of national wealth depend much upon the tem-
per of the inhabitants— if those advantages, together with the
still greater advantage of mental improvement, are all retarded by
the distractions and divisions of party, by the blind zeal and
phrenzy of religious prejudices, by old and furious family feuds,
— if all, I say, combine to make a country wretched, what is the
remedy ? An impartial legislature standing aloof from local
party connexion, sufficiently removed from the influence of con-
tending factions, to be advocate or champion .


of neither—being
so placed as to have no superstitious reverence for the names
and prejudices of ancient families, who have so long enjoyed the
exclusive monopolies of certain public patronages and property,
which custom has sanctioned, and which modern necessity may
justify a legislature who will neither give way to the haughty
pretensions of a few, nor open the door to popular inroads, to
clamour, or to invasion of all sacred forms and regularities, under
the false and imposing colours of philosophical improvement
in the art of government. This is the thing that is wanted for
Ireland. 'Where is it to be found ? In that country, where the
evils which I have enumerated exist, or in this ? That is to say,
where should that legislature deliberate ? In a place where the
stmost effort of what is called patriotism amounts to nothing
more than an aim at temporary popularity, as is evident from


hat has happened ; or in a place where the discussion is calm
and temperate ? Certainly the latter, that is, in England. To
neglect to establish such a legislature, when it is possible to do
so, r say is an imprudence which nothing can justify. I say
also, that much of the evil which Ireland .now labours under,


l799.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


23


arises unavoidab ly from the condition of the parliament of that


country
at which I have just hinted, is the want of intro-


duction of capital into that country. How can that be removed ?
By connexion and intercourse with Great Britain, which will
improve the temper and manners, as well as the understand-
ings of the people of Ireland: by a parliament that shall have
no jealousies from local prejudices; this can only be the case
when a parliament deliberates in England, and that, too, upon the
interest of both countries united. I say it is upon this, and this
only, that the happiness of the people of that country depends,
and I say too, that, upon this view of the subject, the honour-
able gentleman, instead of opposing, should be led to support the
measure before us, as being peculiarly adapted to meet evils, of
which he as well as many of his friends have frequently com-
plained. But he has not scrupled to tell us that he is astonished
to hear, for the first time, that the final adjustment, as he calls
it, which was made in the yeas 1782, has been found incompe-




tent to the blessings it was intended to convey. What were the
objects which were then in view ? The independence of the le-
gislature of that country most certainly ; ,but I beg leave to add,
that there was a resolution entered into in the Irish parliament,
the substance of which is, — that the interests of Great Britain and
Ireland are inseparable, that the connection ought to be founded)
on a permanent and solid basis, and that Ireland would adopt
such measures as should be consistent with its own internal tran-
quillity, for which its situation fits it, and as may be connected
with the strength and stablity of the whole of the British em-
pire. Here then is a proof that something was left to be done
after the legislature of Ireland gained its independence. This
resolution was carried to the throne, but nothing was ever done
upon it. What am I now proposing for the sake of Ireland?
I ani not content that Ireland shall have some benefits as part of
the British empire; but I am proposing, that Ireland shall be
allowed to participate of the blessings which at present England
enjoys.


c: 4




MR. PITT'S
PA 17..


It was said by the honourable gentleman, that this country had
oppressed Ireland for three hundred years : that is not a point to
which I assent: but I will say that for one hundred years this
country has followed a very narrow policy with regard to that
country. It manifested a very absurd jealousy concerning the
growth, produce, and manufacture of several articles—I say that
these jealousies will be buried by the plan which is now to ha
brought before you. I say that when you have two independent
parliaments in one empire, you have no security for a continu-
ance of their harmony and cordial co-operation. We all have in
our mouths a sentence, that every good Englishman and good
trishman feels We must stand or fall together— we should
live and die together; and yet without such a measure as that
which is about to be proposed to you, there can be no security
for the continuance of that sentiment. I say the happiness of
both countries ought to be perpetual: as it stands now, it is liable
to a thousand accidents; it depends now upon the violence of
the moment ; it may be governed, as I have said already, upon
views of temporary popularity, or upon the personal convenience
of a few individuals, a tenure upon which the happiness of a
nation ought never to depend. I am not stating these things
without foundation, but am referring to what was done by two
champions of parties in that country and in this, the one of whom*
bad a large pecuniary reward for his labours, and the other t
was the subject of great panegyric in that country and in this.
They were satisfied when the legislature of Ireland was declared
independent of this country. True it is, that the parliament of
that country was declared independent of this. It had what was
supposed to be sovereign power ; it has the power of dictating
to the executive authority upon the questions of war and peace,
in the same controlling manner as the parliament of this country
has: but what security is there that they will both agree upon
all questions hereafter, in which the general interest of the Bri-
tish empire is involved? Is it a difficult thing to suppose a case
in which they may clash, and become perhaps as hostile to one


Mr. Fox* Mr. Grattan. 1-


1799.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 25


.another as any two independent bodies politic in Europe ? I have
no difficulty in saying that such a case might possibly happen,
nor do I think that much was gained by the declaration of the
independence of that parliament, or ever will be gained to the
British empire, until there is some security that both legislatures
will go on harmoniously together upon all questions in which the
general interests of the British empire are involved. Neither
do I much admire the philosophy of that person who thinks he
has completed a beautiful new fabric when he has only completed
the destruction of an old one; who calls that destruction " the
most stupendous pile of human wisdom that ever was exhibited
to the world." When I find such a man, after the act was passed
which declared the independence of the Irish parliament, assent-
ing to the principle of a resolution of a committee, stating that
the connection between the two countries should be established
by mutual consent on a solid and permanent basis, and when
I find that such a resolution was carried to the throne, as I have
said already, and when I reflect that nothing was afterwards done
upon that resolution to carry it into effect, I have the authority
of that person and his friends, that what was done in declaring
the parliament of Ireland independent, was defective in a point
which is indispensable for the happiness of the people of Ireland,
and indeed of both countries. I think then I may say that the
onus is upon those who oppose the measure now before us to
shew its bad tendency, rather than upon us to shew its probable
good effect, for their own conduct proclaims the absolute neces-
sity of something being done : it is incumbent upon all those who
took a part in the discussion of that subject, and who approved
of the measure—the childish measure of the independence of the
parliament of Ireland without any security that the parlia-
ment of that country and of this would never differ essentially
upon any point in which the happiness of the British empire may
be involved, to show it, and upon the honourable gentleman who
moved this amendment, as much as any one, for he took an ac-
tive share in the parliamentary proceedings to which. I have iust
alluded.




26 MR. PIT t"
E.TA x..


How stands the case in point of experience ? Is there a pro-
bability, or is there not, that the parliaments of the two countries
may differ upon a point that may be essentially interesting to the
British empire ? I say you have a guide upon that subject. You
may profit by experience— I mean by the case of the regency.
The honourable gentleman says that there was no difference
between the two parliaments as to the regent. Why, no, Sir,
there was no difference as to the person who was to be regent ;.
but there was an essential difference as to the principle on which
that person was to be regent e; the Irish parliament decided on
one principle, the English parliament on another, and their hav-
ing agreed on the person was accidental; and upon the distinct
principles on which the two parliaments proceeded, they might
as well have differed upon the person who was to be, as on the
powers to be granted to, the regent. Now let any man tell me
that this is not an instance of an essential difference upon a point
that was essential to the welfare of the British empire: and let any
man show me what security there is that an essential difference
upon some other object may not hereafter occur between the two
parliaments. That they have not hitherto differed in the great and
momentous events which have been agitated before parliament,
is a good fortune which has arisen from one general cause, that
of all descriptions of persons having united against one common
enemy, with the exception only of a few, whose counsels, hap-
pily for both countries, and for the civilised part of the world,
have lost all their influence. But will any man tell me, that such
difference as was manifested in the time of the regency will never
occur again ? Will any man tell me, when we come to treat
of peace, for instance, or to consider any subject of alliance with
any foreign power, or upon any question of trade or commerce,
that then the local prejudices, I say prejudices, for they have great
influence, may not occasion a difference between the legislatures
upon points that may be essential to the welfare of the British
empire ? No matter what the cause of the difference may be,
it is enough that there may be such a difference. A party in
England may give to the throne one species of advice by its


1799.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 27


parliament ; a party in Ireland may advise directly opposite,
upon the most essential points that involve the safety of both
— upon alliance with a foreign power, for instance; upon time
army ; upon the navy ; upon any branch of the public service ;
upon trade ; upon commerce ; or, upon any point that might be
essential to the empire at large. Let any man tell me, what
would have been the consequence to both England and Ireland,
had the dissensions in Ireland been the same in point of force
against the executive government in parliament, since the com-
mencement of the present war, as they were at the time the Irish
propositions were rejected ? Had these men who were at the
head of opposition either in that country or in this, possessed the
confidence of any considerable part of the public, will any man
tell me, that any minister would have been able to save this cows,
fry or Ireland from destruction ? But happily for us, happily
foe every part of the civilised world, the iniquity of the common
enemy united us all ; else all the evils which I have already
stated, together with the poison of jacobinism, would have come
upon us, and such a complication would have soon completed
the ruin of our empire; but fortunately, I say, the counsels of
those who favoured such principles were rejected with disdain by
the good sense of mankind at large. But when that cement by
which the two legislatures have been held together, shall cease
to operate, what security is there for the continuance of cordial
co-operation ? None whatever : the probability of its continu-
ance is more than doubtful ; for I do say, for the reasons I have
alleged already, that the present state of society in Ireland, as
well as its representation, which partakes of the nature of that
society, is radically defective.


I am aware, Sir, that I have spoken at a greater length on this
subject than might have been expected in its present stage. I
have thought a great deal upon this subject, and what I have
said has been nothing but the result of my own observations. I
am bound to convey to this House every information which it may
be in my power to give; but however acceptable to the one or
to the other side of the House, however acceptable or otherwise




28 MR. PITT'S
[JAN. 31.


to those whom I respect on the other side the water, my senti-
ments upon this subject may be, my duty compels me to speak
them freely. I see the case so plainly, and I feel it so strongly,
that there is no circumstance of apparent or probable difficulty,
no apprehension of popularity, no fear of toil or labour, that
shall prevent me from using every exertion which remains in my
power to accomplish the work that is now before us, and on which
I am persuaded depend the internal tranquillity of Ireland, the
interest of the British empire at large, and, I hope, I may add,
the happiness of a great part of the habitable world.


The amendment was negatived without a division, and the motion for
the address was then put and carried.


January 31. 1799.
The order of the day being read for taking into further consideration


His Majesty's message relative to an Union between Great Britain and
Ireland ; -


" GEORGE R.
" His Majesty is persuaded that the unremitting industry with which


our enemies persevere in their avowed design of effecting the separation
of Ireland from this kingdom, cannot fail to engage the particular atten-
tion of parliament; and His Majesty recommends it to this House to con-
sider of the most effectual means of counteracting, and finally defeating,
this design; and he trusts that a review of all the circumstances which
have recently occurred (joined to the sentiment of mutual affection
and common interest) will dispose the parliaments of both kingdoms to
provide in the manner which theyshall judge most expedient, for settling
such a complete and final adjustment as may best tend to improve and
perpetuate a connection essential for their common security, and to aug-
ment and consolidate the strength, power, and resources of the British
empire; — G. R."


Mr. PITT rose, and spoke as follows:
Sir—When I proposed to this House, the last time this subject


was before them, to fix this day for the further consideration of
His Majesty's message, I certainly indulged the hope that the re-
sult of a similar communication to the parliament of Ireland,
would have opened a more favourable prospect than at pre-


1799.]
PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES, 2S


sent exists, of the speedy accomplishment of a measure which
and which I still consider, to be of the greatest


importance the stability, and the general welfare
I then stated,


to
the power,


of the empire; to the immediate interests of both kingdoms, and
more particularly to the peace, the tranquillity, and the safety
of Ireland : in this hope, I am sorry to say, I have for the pre-
sent been-disappointed, by the proceedings of the Irish House of
Commons, of which we have been informed since this subject
was last under consideration.


I feel and know that the parliament of Ireland possesses the
power, the entire competence, on the behalf of that country,
alike to accept or reject a proposition of this nature — a power
which I am by no means inclined to dispute. I see that at the
present moment one house of parliament in Ireland has ex.,
pressed a repugnance even to the consideration of this measure.
Feeling, Sir, as I have already stated, that it is important, nut
only as it tends to the general prosperity of the empire of
Great Britain, but (what, under every situation, must always be
to me an object of the greatest moment) feeling that it was
designed and calculated to increase the prosperity and ensure
the safety of' Ireland, I must have seen with the deepest regret,
that, at the very first moment, and before the nature of the
measure could be known, it was so received.


But whatever may have been my feelings upon this subject,
knowing that it is the undoubted right of the legislature of Ire-
land to reject or to adopt such measures as may appear to them
injurious or beneficial, far be it from me to speak of its deter-
mination in any other terms but those of respect. Let it not,
therefore, be imagined that I am inclined to press any sentiment,
however calculated it may appear to me to benefit every member
of the empire, in any manner which may lead to hostile discus.
sion between two kingdoms, whose mutual happiness and safety
depend upon their being strictly and cordially united. But,
while I admit and respect the rights of the parliament of Ire-
land, I feel that, as a member of the parliament of Great Bri-
tain, I also have a right to exercise, and a dut y to perform.




SO
MR. PITT'S [JAN. Si.


That duty is to express, as distinctly as I can, the general nature
and outline of the plan, which, in my conscience, I think would
tend in the strongest manner to ensure the safety and the hap-
piness of both kingdoms.


While I feel, therefore, that as long as the House of Com-
mons of Ireland view the subject in the light they do at present,
there is no chance of its adoption ; I do not think that I ought
on that account to abstain from submitting it to the consideration
of this parliament ; on the contrary, I think it only the more
necessary to explain distinctly the principles of the measure,
and to state the grounds upon which it appears to me to be en,
titled to the approbation of the legislature.


If parliament, when it is in possession of the basis upon which
this plan is founded, and of its general outline, should be of opi-
nion with me, that it is founded upon fair, just, and equitable
principles, calculated to produce mutual advantages to the two
kingdoms —if parliament, I say, upon full explanation, and after
mature deliberation, should be of that opinion, I should propose
that its determination should remain recorded as that by which
the parliament of Great Britain is ready to abide, leaving to the
legislature of Ireland to reject or to adopt it hereafter, upon a
full consideration of the subject.


There is no man who will deny, that, in a great question of
this nature, involving in it objects which, in the first instance, are
more likely to be decided upon by passion than by judgment; —
in a question in which an honest, but, I must be allowed to say,
a mistaken sense of national pride is so likely to operate, much
misconstruction and misconception must inevitably happen. It
.herefore becomes the more necessary that the intentions of the
government which proposes the measure, and the principles of the
measure itself, should be distinctly understood. But, Sir, in stat-
ing that intention and those principles, I look to something more
than a mere vindication of government for having proposed the
measure. I do entertain a confidence, even under the apparent
discouragement of the opinion expressed by the Irish House of
Commons, that this measure is founded upon such clear, such.


7


1799.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 31
demonstrable grounds of utility, is so calculated to add to the
strength and power of the empire, (in which the safety of Ireland
is included, and from which it never can be separated,) and is
attended with so many advantages to Ireland in particular,
that all that can be necessary for its ultimate adoption is,
that it should be stated distinctly, temperately, and fully, and
that it should be left to the unprejudiced, the dispassionate, the
sober judgment of the parliament of Ireland. I wish that those
whose interests are involved in this measure, should have time
for its consideration — I wish that time should be given to the
landed, to the mercantile, and manufacturing interest, that
they should look at it in all its bearings, and that they should
coolly examine and sift the popular arguments by which it has
been opposed, and that then they should give their deliberate
and final judgment.


I am the more encouraged in this hope of the ultimate success
of this measure, when I see, notwithstanding all the prejudices
which it has excited, that barely more than one half of the mem-
bers that attended the House of Commons were adverse to it ;
and that in the other-House of parliament in Ireland, containing,
as it does, so large a portion of the property of that kingdom,
it was approved of by a large majority. When I have reason
to believe that the sentiments of a large part of the people
of that country are favourable to it, and that much of the
manufacturing, and of the commercial interest of Ireland, are
already sensible how much it is calculated to promote their
advantage, I think, when it is more deliberately examined, and
when it is seen in what temper it is here proposed and discussed,
that it will still terminate in that which can alone be a fortunate
result.


It would be vain indeed to hope that a proposition upon which
prejudices are so likely to operate, and which is so liable to mis-
conception, should be unanimously approved. But the appro-
bation I hope for is that of the parliament of Ireland, and of the
intelligent part of the public of that country. It is with a view
to this object that I think it my duty to bring this measure for-




32 MR. PITT'S [JAN. 31.
ward at present ; not for the sake of urging its immediate adop-
tion, but that it may be known and recorded ; that the intention
of the British parliament may be known, in the hope that it wili
produce similar sentiments among our countrymen in Ireland.,
With this view, it is my intention not to go at present into any
detailed statement 'of the plan, because, should it ultimately be
adopted, the minuter parts must necessarily become the objects'
of much distinct discussion ; but to give such a general state-
ment of the nature of the measure, as will enable the House to
form a correct judgment upon it.


I shall therefore, Sir, before I sit down, open to the House a
string of resolutions, comprising the general heads of this plan.
It will be necessary for me, for the purpose of discussing those
resolutions with regularity and convenience, to move that the
House should resolve itself into a committee. And I have already
stated, that it is not my intention then to press the committee to
come to an immediate decision upon the resolutions ; but if, upon
full and deliberate examination, the resolutions which I shall
have the honour to propose, and which contain as much as is
necessary for an outline of theplan,shall be approved, my opinion
is, that nothing can contribute more to obviae any doubts and
dissatisfaction which may exist, than that parliament should
adopt those resolutions, and that it should then humbly lay them
at the foot of the throne, leaving it to His Majesty's wisdom to
communicate them to the parliament of Ireland, whenever cir-
cumstances should appear favourable to such a measure. I shall
therefore, Sir, proceed as shortly as I can to state to the House
the nature of the resolutions, and of the address which I shall
propose to accompany them, if it should be the pleasure of the
House to adopt them.


Having now, Sir, explained to the House the mode l mean to
pursue, and my reasons for persisting, under the present circum-
stances, in submitting this measure to the consideration of par-
liament, I will endeavour to state the general grounds on which
it rests, the general arguments by which it is recommended, and
to give a short view of the outline of the plan.


1799.] PA RLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 33
As to the general principle upon which the whole of this mea-


sure is founded, I am happy to observe, from what passed upon
a


former occasion, that there is not a probability of any differ-
ence of opinion. The general principle, to which both sides of
the House perfectly acceded, is, that a perpetual connection
between Great Britain and Ireland is essential to the interests of
both. The only honourable gentleman who, when this subject
was before the House on a former day, opposed the consideration
of the plan altogether, stated, in terms as strong as I could wish,
the necessity of preserving the strictest connection between the
two countries. I most cordially agree with him in that opinion ;
but I then stated, that I do not barely wish for the maintenance
.of that connection, as tending to add to the general strength of
the empire, but I wish for the maintenance of it with a peculiar
regard to the local interests of Ireland, with a regard to every
thing that can give to Ireland its due weight and importance, as
a great member of the empire. I wish for it with a view of
giving to that country the means of improving all its great natural
resources, and of giving it a full participation of all those bless-
ings which this country so eminently enjoys.


Considering the subject in this point of view, and assuming it
as a proposition not to be controverted, that it is the duty of those
who wish to promote the interest and prosperity of both coun-
tries, to maintain the strongest connection between them, let me
ask, what is the situation of affairs that has called us to the dis-
cussion of this subject ? This very connection, the necessity of
which has been admitted on all hands, has been attacked by
foreign enemies, and by domestic traitors. The dissolution of this
connection is the great object of the hostility of the common
enemies of both countries ; it is almost the only remaining hope
with which they now continue the contest. Baffled and defeated
as they have hitherto been, they still retain the hope, they are
still meditating attempts, to dissolve that connection. In how
many instances already the defeat of their hostile designs has
been turned to the confirmation of our strength and security, I
need not enumerate. God grant that in this instance the same


VOL. Ili.


.1)




34


MR. PITT'S
[JAN. Si.


1799.]
PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 3.1


favour of Divine Providence, which has in so many instances pro-
tected this empire, may again interpose in our favour, and that
the attempts of the enemy to separate the two countries, may
tend ultimately to knit them more closely together, to strengthen
a connection, the best pledge for the happiness of both, and
so add to that power which forms the chief barrier to the civi-
lised world, against the destructive principles, the dangerous pro
jects, and the unexampled usurpation of France! This connection
has been attacked not only by the avowed enemies of both
countries, but by internal treason, acting in concert with the'
designs of the enemy — internal treason, which ingrafted jaco-
binism on those diseases which necessarily grew out of the state
and condition of Ireland.


Thinking then, as we all must think, that a close connection
with Ireland is essential to the interests of both countries, and
seeing how much this connection is attacked, let it not be insi-
nuated that it is unnecessary, much less improper, at this arduous
and important crisis, to see whether some new arrangements,
some fundamental regulations, are not necessary to guard against
the threatened danger. The foreign and domestic enemies of
these kingdoms have shown, that they think this the vulnerable
point in which we may be most successfully attacked ; let us
derive advantage, if we can, from the hostility of our enemies;
let us profit by the designs of those who, if their conduct dis-
plays no true wisdom, at least possess in an eminent degree that
species of wisdom which is calculated for the promotion of mis-
chief. They know upon what footing that connection rests at
this moment between the 'two countries, and they feel the most
ardent hope, that the two parliaments will be infatuated enough
not to render their designs abortive, by fixing that •connection
upon a more solid basis.


These circumstances, Lam sure, will not be denied. And if
upon other grounds we.had any doubt, these circaroStances alone
ought to induce us, deliberately and dispassionately, to review
the situation of the two countries, and to endeavour to find out
a proper remedy for an evil, the existence 'of which is but too


apparent. It requires but a moment's reflection, for any man
who has marked the progress of events, to decide upon the true
state and character of this connection. It is evidently one which
does not afford that security which, even in times less dangerous
and less critical than the present, would have been necessary, to
enable the empire to avail itself of its strength and its resources.


When I-last addressed the House on this subject,. I stated that
the settlement, which was made in 1782, so far from deserving
the name of a final adjustment, was one that left the con-
nection between Great Britain and Ireland exposed to all the
attacks of party, and all the effects of accident. That settlement
consisted in the demolition of the system which before held the
two countries together. Let me not be understood as expressing
any regret at the termination of that system. I disapproved
of it, because I thought it was one unworthy the liberality of
Great Britain, and injurious to the interests of Ireland. But to
call that a system in itself— to call that a glorious fabric oC
human wisdom, which is no more than the mere demolition of
another system, is a perversion of terms which, however preva-
lent of late, can only be the effect of gross misconception, or of,'
great hypocrisy.


We boast that we have done every thing, when we have merely
destroyed all that before existed, without substituting any thinc,
in its place. Such was thefinal adjustment of 1782: and I can
prove it to be so, not only from the plainest reasoning, but I can
prove it by the opinion expressed by the British ,parliament
that very time. I can prove it by the opinion expressed by those
very ministers by whom it was proposed and conducted. I can
prove it by the opinion of that very government who boast of
having effected a final adjustment. I refer-for what I have said
to proofs which they will find it very difficult to answer,
their own acts, which will plainly show that they were .Of
opinion that a new system would be neeessary.


But, Sir, k go farther, will also produce . the authority
of one of those whose influence, on the present occasion, has


2




Sfi
MR. PITT'S [JAN.


i4è6-i peculiarly exerted to prevent the discussion of the question
in Ireland — of one, of whom I do not wish to speak but with.
respect, but for whom, nevertheless, I should convey an idea of
more respect than I can now feel to be due to him, if I were
inerelyto describe him as the person who fills the same situation,
in the House of Commons of Ireland, which you, Sir, hold
among Us, and of Which, on all occasions, you discharge the.
duties witli • a7dignitY and impartiality which reflects so much
credit -on yourself, and so well supports the character and autho-
rity of the House.


On a former night, I read an extract from the journals, to
show what was the opinion even of those. by whom the final
Adjustment Was proposed on that measure. It would there appear,
that the message wassent to the parliament of Ireland, recom-
mending to them the adoption of some plan for a final adjust-
ment between the two countries, and wishing to know what were
the grounds of the grievances of which they complained. In
answer to this message, the parliament of Ireland stated certain
grievances, the principal of which was, the power claimed by
the parliament of Great Britain of making laws to bind Ireland;
hut, with respect to that part of the message which related to the
propriety of adopting some measures for a final adjustment be-
iween the two countries, they were wholly silent. This address
teas laid before the parliament of Great Britain, to whom a


message had been previously sent, and on that ground was
moved the repeal of what was called the declaratory act ; which
motion was assented to by the British parliament. This sa-
tisfaction was complete in Ireland, as far as related to the
grievance of which her parliament had complained, viz. the power
of the British parliament of making laws for Ireland, because,
by the-repeal of the declaratory act, that power was given up.
But so far was the minister of that day from considering that
the repeal of that law finally terminated all differences, and
established the connection between the two countries upon a
solid basis, that he thought it necessary to move that a farther


1799.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 87
settlement was indispensable for the maintainance of that con-
nection. (Mr. Sheridan, across the table, desired that that part of
the journals to which Mr. Pitt alluded, might be read.) Sir, I
have stated the substance of the journals correctly ; they
were read on a former night, and the honourable gentleman
may, if he chooses, have them read again ; if he does, he
will find that they fully justify the statement I have made; but
I beg that at present I may not be interrupted. I do maintain,
that, upon a reference to the journals of the period to which I
have alluded, it will appear that a farther-agreement between
Great Britain and Ireland is there stated, in the opinion of the
administration of the day, to be absolutely necessary.


I beg farther to state, that after the motion for the bill, of
which so much has been said, was passed, an address to His
Majesty was moved and carried, praying him to take such
farther measures as to him seemed proper, to strengthen the
connection between the two countries. His Majesty's most
gracious answer, stating that, in compliance with the address, he
would immediately take such measures as might be necessary for
that purpose, was delivered to the House by an honourable gen-
tleman who then filled the office of secretary of state, and


'whom we have not lately seen in the House, though he still con-
tinues to be a member of it. I do assert, without the least
fear of contradiction from any gentleman whatever, that it was
in the contemplation of the government of that day, to adopt
some measures of the nature alluded to in the address : since
that period, however, no such measure has been taken. I do
also maintain, that that very system which by these very minis-
ters who brought it forward was found to be imperfect, even for
the purpose of maintaining the connection between the two coun-
tries, remains at this moment in the same imperfect state. It
leaves the two countries with separate and independent legisla-
tures, connected only with this tie, that the third estate in both
.countries is the same


that the executive government is the
* Mr. Fox.


v 3




MR. PITT'S
[JAN. 31.


same — that the crown exercises its power of assenting to Irish
acts of parliament, under the great seal of Great Britain, and by
the advice of British ministers.


This is the only principle of connection which is left by the
final adjustment of 1782. Whether this is a sufficient tie to unite
them in time of peace ; whether in time of war it is sufficient to
consolidate their strength against a common enemy ; whether it
is sufficient to guard against those local jealousies which must
necessarily sometimes exist between countries so connected;
whether it is calculated to give to Ireland all the important com-
mercial and political advantages which she would derive from a
closer connection with Great Britain ; whether it can give to
both nations that degree of strength and prosperity which must
he the result of such a measure as the present, I believe needs
only to be stated to be decided.


But I have already said, that I have, upon this point, the au-
thority of an opinion to which I before alluded — an opinion
delivered upon a very important measure, very soon after the final
adjustment of 1782. The measure to which I refer, was that of
the commercial propositions which were brought forward in 1785.
I am not now going to enter into a discussion of the merits of
that measure. The best, perhaps, that can be said of it is, that it
went as far as circumstances would then permit, to draw the two
countries to a closer connection. But those who think that the
adjustment of 1782 was final, and that it contained all that was
necessary for the establishment of the connection between the
two countries upon a firm basis, can hardly contend that the
commercial propositions of 1785 were necessary to prevent the
danger of separation between the two countries, and to prevent
the conflicting operation of independent legislatures. Yet, if I
am not mistaken, there will be found, upon a reference to better
records than those in which parliamentary debates are usually
stated [I mean a statement of what passed in the discussion
upon those propositions fourteen years ago, made, as I have un-
derstood, by some of the principal parties themselves,] that the


1799.] PAI1LIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 39


chancellor of the exchequer of that day in Ireland '1', in a debate
upon the Irish propositions, held this language " Ifthis
infatuated country gives up the present offer, she may look for
it again in vain." Here the right honourable gentleman was
happily mistaken ; Ireland has again had the offer of the same
advantages, but more complete, and in all respects better calcu-
lated to attain their object ; and this offer the right honourable
gentleman has exerted all his influence to reject. But he goes
on to say, " things cannot remain as they are — commercial




jealousy is roused — it will increase with two independent legis-
latures —and without an united interest in commerce, in a com-
mercial empire, political union will receive many shocks, and
separation of interest must threaten separation of connection,
which every honest Irishman must shudder to look at, as a pos.
sible event."


Gentlemen will have the goodness to observe, that I am not
now quoting these expressions as pledges given by that right
honourable gentleman that he would support a proposal for an
union between the two countries ; but I am adducing them to
prove, that the situation of the two countries after the final ad-
justment of 1782 was such, in his opinion, as led to the danger
of a separation between them. I am not now arguing, that a
legislative union is the only measure which can possibly be
adopted ; but I am contending, that the adjustment of 1782 was
never considered as final, by those who now state it to be so,
as an argument against the consideration of the present measure.
How the honourable gentleman on the other side of the House
will evade this authority I do not know—an authority too,
which, I must observe, he seems much more inclined to treat
with respect than he was formerly.


But, Sir, it does not stop there. What is the evil to which he
alludes ?. Commercial jealousies between two countries acting
upon the laws of two independent legislatures, and the danger
of those legislatures acting in opposition to each other. How can
this evil be remedied ? By two means only ; either by some corn-


* Mr. Foster.
D




40 MR. PITT'S
[JAL


pact entered into by the legislatures of the two countries respect-
ing the mode of forming their commercial regulations, or else
by blending the two legislatures together ; these are the only two
means. I defy the wit of man to point out a third. The mode
of compact was proposed in 1785 ; but unfortunately, in spite of
that right honourable gentleman's eloquence and authority, who
then stated the importance of guarding against the evil, it so
happened that doctrines, derived chiefly from this side of the
water, succeeded in convincing the parliament of Ireland, that
it would be inconsistent with their independence, to enter into
any compact whatever. We have then the authority of that right
honourable gentleman to whom I have so often alluded, that the
unsettled state in which the matter was left would give " politi-
cal union many shocks, and lead to a separation of connection."
The experiment of a mutual compact has been tried without
success ; the arrangement of that sort, which was proposed
in 1785, in order to obviate the inconveniences stated by the
right honourable gentleman, was then attacked with the same
success against his authority, as another and more effectual re-
medy has recently experienced under his auspices. The result
then is, you must remain in the state which that right honour-
able gentleman has described, with the seeds of separation in the
system now established, and with the connection, on which the
mutual prosperity of both countries depends, in danger of being
hourly dissolved, or you must again recur to the proposal of a
compact similar to that rejected in 1785, or you must resort to
the best and most effectual remedy a legislative union.


I have dwelt longer, perhaps, upon this part of the subject,
than was absolutely necessary, because, I believe there is scarcely
any man who has ever asked himself whether there is a solid,
permanent system of connection between the two countries, who
could, upon reflection, answer the question in the affirmative.
But besides the authorities of the persons who made the arrange-
ment in 1782, and of those who have since treated of it, to show
that it was not deemed to be final and complete, I have further
the test of experience to show how imperfect it was, and how


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECIMS.1799.1
inadequate in practice to the great object of cementing the con•
nection, and placing it beyond the danger of being dissolved. In
the single instance which has occurred, (and that a melancholy
one which all of us deplored,) in which we could feel the effects
of two jarring legislatures, we did feel it. On that occasion, it
might have produced the most signal calamities, had we not been
rescued from its danger by an event, to which no man can now
look back without feeling the utmost joy and exultation ; feel-
ings, which subsequent circumstances have served to heighten
and confirm. Every gentleman will know, that I must allude to
the regency. With two independent legislatures, acting upon
different principles, it was accident alone that preserved the
identity of the executive power, which is the bond and security
of the connection : and even then the executive authority, though
vested in one person, would have been held by two different
tenures, by one tenure in England, by another in Ireland, had
not the interposition of Providence prevented a circumstance
pregnant with the most imminent perils, and which might have
operated to a separation of the two kingdoms.


After seeing the recorded opinion of parliament, of those who
made the arrangement of 1782, and after the decided testimony
of experience on the subject, within the short period of sixteen
years, perhaps it is hardly necessary to appeal to farther proofs
of its inadequacy, or to desire gentlemen to look forward to pos-
sible cases, which I could easily put, and which will naturally
suggest themselves to the minds of all, who choose to turn their
attention to the subject.


• But when we consider the distinct powers possessed by the two
legislatures on all the great questions of peace and war, of al-
liances and confederacies, (for they each have in principle a
right to discuss them and decide upon them, though one of them
has hitherto been wisely restrained by discretion from the exer-
cise of that right,) have we not seen circumstances to induce us
to think it possible, at least, that on some of these important
questions the opinions and decisions of the two parliaments might
have been at variance ? Are we talking of an indissoluble con-




MR. PITT'S
[Jas. St


nection, when we see it thus perpetually liable to be endan-
gered ? Can we really think that the interests of' the empire, or
of its different branches, rest upon a safe and solid basis at pre-
sent ? I am anxious to discuss this point closely with any man,
either here, or in Ireland. Will it be said, that the parliament
of the latter country is bound by our decision on the question of
peace or war? And if not so bound, will any man, looking at
human nature as it is, contend, that there is a sufficient certainty
that the decision on that important subject will always be the
same in both countries ? I should be glad to receive a distinct
answer to this question from the honourable gentleman, who
has declared himself to be as warm a friend to the connection
between the two countries, as I am.


Suppose, for instance, that the present war, which the parlia-
ment of Great Britain considers to be just and necessary, had
been voted by the Irish parliament to be unjust, unnecessary,
extravagant, and hostile to the principles of humanity and free-
dom. Would that parliament have been bound by this country ?
If not, what security have-we, at a moment the most important
to our common interest and common salvation, that the two
kingdoms should have but one friend and one foe ? I repeat it;
I am eager to hear what can be said in justification of a basis so
imperfect and unsound, and liable to be shaken by so many ac-
cidents. I have already observed that in the peculiar circum-
stances of the present moment, we may find stronger -reasons to
prove the necessity of correcting the system of connection be-
tween this country and Ireland, of supplying its imperfections,
and strengthening its weakness, than are to be found at any
former period.


Having thus stated, Sir, and I think sufficiently proved, that
the settlement of 1782, in every point of view in which it can be
considered, is imperfect, and inadequate to the object of main-
taining the connection between the two kingdoms, I proceed
next to the circumstances which peculiarly call upon us at the
present moment to remedy that imperfection.


This country is at -this time engaged in the most important
In


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 49
1799.3
and momentous conflict that ever occurred in the history of the
world; a conflict in which Great Britain is distinguished for
having made the only manly and successful stand against the
common enemies of civilised society. We see the point in which
that enemy thinks us the most assailable. Are we not then
bound in policy and prudence to strengthen that vulnerable
point, involved as we are in a contest of liberty against despotism
—of property against plunder and rapine—of religion and order
against impiety and anarchy ? There was a time when this would
have been termed declamation ; but, unfortunately, long and
bitter experience has taught us to feel that it is only the feeble
and imperfect representation of those calamities (the result of
French principles and . French arms), which are every day at-
tested by the wounds of a bleeding world.


Is there a man who does not admit the importance of a mea-
sure which, at such a crisis, may augment the strength of the
empire, and thereby ensure its safety ? Would not that benefit to
Ireland be of itself so solid, so inestimable, that, in comparison
with it all, commercial interests, and the preservation of local
habits and manners, would be trifling, even if they were endan-
gered by the present measure, which they undoubtedly are not ?
The people of Ireland are proud, I believe, of being associated
with us in the great contest in which we are engaged, and must
feel the advantage of augmenting the general force of the empire.
That the present measure is calculated to produce that effect, is
a proposition which, I think, cannot be disputed. There is not
in any court of Europe a statesman so ill informed as not to
.know, that the general power of the empire would be increased
to a very great extent indeed, by such a consolidation of the
strength of the two kingdoms. In the course of the century every
writer of any information on the subject has held the same lan-
guage, and in the general strength of the empire both kingdoms6
are more concerned than in any particular interests which may
belong to either. If we were to ask the ministers of our allies,
what measure they thought the most likely to augment the power
of the British empire, and consequently increase that strength by




44


MR. PITT'S
[JAN. 31.


1799.]
PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 45


which they were now protected—if we were to ask the agent of
our enemies, what measure would be the most likely to render
their designs abortive, the answer would be the same in both
cases, viz. the firm consolidation of every part of the empire.


There is another consideration well worth attention. Recol-
lect what are the peculiar means by which we have been enabled
to resist the unequalled and eccentric efforts of France, without
any diminution, nay, with an increase of our general prospe-
rity— what, but the great commercial resources which we pos-
sess? A measure then, which must communicate to such a
mighty limb of the empire as Ireland all the commercial ad-
vantages which Great Britain possesses, which will open the
markets of the one country to the other, which will give them
both the common use of their capital, must, by diffusing a large
portion of wealth into Ireland, considerably increase the re-
sources, and consequently the strength of the whole empire.


But it is not merely in this general view, that I think the
question ought to be considered. We ought to look to it with a
view peculiarly to the permanent interest and security of Ire-
land. - When that country was threatened with the double danger
of hostile attacks by enemies without, and of treason within,
from what quarter did she derive the means of her deliverance ?
— from the naval force of Great Britain — from the voluntary
exertions of her military of every description, not called for by
law—and from her pecuniary resources, added to the loyalty and
energy of the inhabitants of Ireland itself ; of which it is impos-
sible to speak with too much praise, and which shows how well
they deserve to be called the brethren of Britons. Their own
courage might, perhaps, have ultimately succeeded in repelling
the dangers by which they were threatened, but it would have
been after a long contest, and after having waded through seas
of blood. Are we sure that the same ready and effectual assist-
ance which we have happily afforded, on the present occasion,
will be always equally within our power ? Great Britain has al-
ways felt a common interest in the safety of Ireland ; but that
common interest was never so obvious and urgent as when the


common enemy made her attack upon Great Britain, through
the medium of Ireland, and when their attack upon Ireland went
to deprive her of her connection with Great Britain, and to sub-
stitute in its stead the new government of the French republic.
When that danger threatened Ireland, the purse of Great Britain
was as open for the wants of Ireland, as for the necessities of
England.


I do not, Sir, state these circumstances, as upbraiding Ireland
for the benefits we have conferred ; far from it ; but I state them
with pleasure, as showing the friendship and good-will with which
this country has acted towards her. But if struggles of this sort
may and must return again ; if the worst dangers are those which
are yet to come, dangers which must he greater from being more
disguised ; if those situations may arise when the same means of
relief are not in our power, what is the remedy that reason and
policy point out ? It is to identify them with us ; it is to make
them a part of the same community, by giving them a full share
of those accumulated blessings which are diffused throughout
Great Britain ; it is, in a word, by giving them a full participation
of the wealth, the power, and the stability of the British empire.
If then this measure comes recommended not only by the obvious
defects of the system which now exists, but that it has also the
pre-eminent recommendation of increasing the general power of
the empire, and of guarding against future danger from the
common enemy, we are next to consider it as to its effects upon
the internal condition of Ireland.


I know perfectly well, that, as long as Ireland is separated
from Great Britain, any attempt on our part to provide measures
yhich we might think salutary, as respecting questions of con-
tending sects or parties, of the claimed rights of the catholics, or
of the precautions necessary for the security of the protestants —
I know that all these, though they may have been brought for-
ward by the very persons who are the advocates of the final
adjustment in 1782, were, in fact, attacks upon the independence
of the Irish parliament, and attempts to usurp the right of .de-
ciding on points which can only be brought within our province




46


MR. PITT'S PAN. 31. 1799.3 PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.
4.7


by compact. Until the kingdoms are united, any attempt to
make regulations here for the internal state of Ireland must cer-
tainly be a violation of her independence. But feeling as I do
for their interests and their welfare, I cannot be inattentive to
the events that are passing before me; I must therefore repeat,
that whoever looks at the circumstances to which I have alluded ;
whoever considers that the enemy have shown by their con-
duct, that they considered Ireland as the weakest and most
vulnerable part of the empire ; whoever reflects upon those dread-
ful and inexcusable cruelties instigated by the enemies of both
countries, and upon those lamentable severities by which the
exertions for the defence of Ireland were unhappily, but unavoid-
ably, attended, and the necessity of which is itself one great
aggravation of the crimes and treasons which led to them, must
feel that, as it now stands composed, in the hostile division of its
sects, in the animosities existing between ancient settlers and
original inhabitants, in the ignorance and want of civilisation,
which marks that country more than almost any other country
in•Europe, in the unfortunate prevalence of Jacobin principles,
arising from these causes, and augmenting their malignity, and
which have produced that distressed state which we now deplore ;
every one, I say, who reflects upon all these circumstances, must
agree with me in thinking, that there is no cure but in the for-
mation of a general imperial legislature, free alike from terror
and from resentment, removed from the danger and agitation,
uninfluenced by the prejudices, and uninflamed by the passions
of that distracted country.


I know that it is impossible, if we wish to consider this subject
properly, to consider it in any other point of view than as it
affects the empire in general. I know that the interests of the two
countries must be taken together, and that a man cannot speak as
a true Englishman, unless he speaks as a true Irishman, nor as a
true Irishman, unless he speaks as a true Englishman ; but if it
were possible to separate them, and I could consider myself as
addressing you, not as interested for the empire at large, but for
Ireland alone, I should say, that it would be indispensably


for the sake of that country, to compose its present


ndeisetersascatrytions by the adoption of another system I should say,
that the establishment of an imperial legislature was the only
means of healing its wounds, and of restoring it to tranquillity.
I must here take the liberty of alluding to some topics which
were touched upon during the discussion of the former night.


Among the great and known defects of Ireland, one of the
most prominent features is, its want of industry and a capital ;
how are those wants to be supplied, but by blending more closely
with Ireland the industry and the capital of this country ? But,
above all, in the great leading distinction between the people of
Ireland, (I mean their religious distinctions,) what is their
situation ? — The protestant feels that the claims of the catholics
threaten the existence of the protestant ascendancy ; while, on -
the other hand, the great body of catholics feel the establishment
of the national church, and their exclusion from the exercise
of certain rights and privileges, a grievance. Between the two,
it becomes a matter of difficulty in the minds of many persons,
whether it would be better to listen only to the fears of the
former, or to grant the claims of the latter.


I am well aware that the subject of religious distinction is a
dangerous and delicate topic, especially when applied to a coun-
try such as Ireland, the situation of which is different in this
respect from that of every other. Where the established religion
of the state is the same as the general religion of the empire, and
where the property of the country is in the hands of a com-
paratively small number of persons professing that established
religion, while the religion of a great majority of the people is
different, it is not easy to say, on general principles, what system
of church establishment in such a country would be free from
difficulty and inconvenience. By many I know it will be con-
tended, that thereligion professed by the majority of the people
would, at least, be entitled to an equality of privileges. I have
heard such an argument used in this House ; but those who apply
it without qualification to the ease-of Ireland, forget surely the
principles on which English interest and English connection has




48 MR. PITT'S
[JAY. 31,




1799-] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.
49


been established in that country, and on which its present legis-
lature is formed. No man can say, that, in the present state of
things, and while Ireland remains a separate kingdom, full con-
cessions could be made to the catholics, without endangering


pie state, and shaking the constitution of Ireland to its centre.
On the other hand, without anticipating the discussion, or the


propriety of agitating the question, or saying how soon or how
late it may be fit to discuss it, two propositions are indisputable :
first, when the conduct of the catholics shall be such as to make
it safe for the government to admit them to the participation of
the privileges granted to those of the established religion, and
when the temper of the times shall be favourable to such a mea-
sure — when these events take place, it is obvious that such a
question may be agitated in an united, imperial parliament, with
much greater safety, than it could be in a separate legislature.
In the second place, I think it certain that, even for whatever
period it may be thought necessary, after the union, to withhold
from the catholics the enjoyment of those advantages, many of
the objections which at present arise out of their situation would
be removed, if the protestant legislature were no longer separate
and local, but general and imperial ; and the catholics them-
selves would at once feel a mitigation of the most goading and:
irritating of their present causes of complaint.


How far, in addition to this great and leading consideration, it
may also be wise and practicable to accompany the measure by
some mode of relieving the lower orders from the pressure of
tithes, which, in many instances, operate at present as a great.
practical evil, or to make, under proper regulations, and without
breaking in on the security of the present protestant establish-
meat, an effectual and adequate provision for the catholic clergy,
it is not now necessary to discuss. It is sufficient to say, that
these and all other subordinate points connected with the same
subject, are more likely to be permanently and satisfactorily
;fettled by an united legislature, than by any local arrangements.
On these grounds I contend, that with a view to providing
an effectual remedy for the distractions which have unhappily


prevailed in Ireland, with a view of removing those .catises
which have endangered, and still endanger its security, the mea-
sure which I am now proposing promises to be more.effectual. •
than any other which can be devised; and on these grounds
alone, if there existed no other,. I should feel it my duty to sub-
mit it to the House.


But, Sir, though what I have thus stated, relates most imme-
diately to the great object of healing the dissensions, and pro-:.
viding for the internal tranquillity of Ireland, there are; also::
other objects which, though comparatively with .this of inferior
importance, are yet in themselves highly material, . and in a
secondary view well worthy of attention.


I-have heard it asked, when I pressed the measure, What are
the positive advantages that Ireland is to derive from it? To
this very question I presume the considerations, which I have .
already urged, afford a sufficient answer. But, in fact, the
question itself is to be considered in another view ; and it will
be.found. to bear some resemblance to a question which has been
repeatedly put by some of the gentlemen opposite to me, during
the last six years, What are the advantages which Great Britain
has gained by the present war with. France?


To this-the brilliant successes . of the British arms by sea and
land, our unexampled naval victories over all our enemies, the
solid acquisition of valuable territory, the general increase of our
power, the progressive extension of our commerce, and a series
of events more glorious than-any that ever adorned the pacre,of
our.


listory, afford at once an ample and a satisfactory answer.
But there is another general answer which we have uniformly
given, and which would alone be sufficient ; it is, that we did
not enter into this war for any purpose of ambition ; our object
was not to acquire, but to preserve ; and in this sense, what we
have gained by the war is, in one word, ALL that we should have
lost without it ; it is the preservation of our constitution, our.
independence, our honour, our existence as a nation.


In the same manner I al t answer the question with respect
to Ireland.. I might enumerate the :general advantages which


VOL. III.




MR. PITT'S
[JAN. 31.


Ireland would derive from the effects of the arrangement to which
I have already referred — the protection which she will secure to
herself in the hour of danger ; the most effectual means of in-
creasing her commerce and improving her agriculture, the com-
mand of English capital, the infusion of English manners and
English industry, necessarily tending to ameliorate her condition,
to accelerate the progress of internal civilisation, and to termi-
nate those feuds and dissensions which now distract the country,
and which she does not possess, within herself, the power either
to control or to extinguish. She would see the avenue to
honours, to distinctions, and exalted situations in the general
seat of empire, opened to all those whose abilities and talents
enable them to indulge an honourable and laudable ambition.


But, independent of all these advantages, I might also answer,
that the question is not what Ireland is to gain, but what she is
to preserve ; not merely how she may best improve her situation,
but how she is to avert a pressing and immediate danger. In this
view, what she gains is the preservation of all those blessings
arising from the British constitution, and which are inseparable
from her connections with Great Britain ;— those blessings, of
which it has long been the aim of France, in conjunction with
domestic traitors, to deprive her, and on their ruins to esta- I
blish (with all its attendant miseries and horrors) a jacobin
republic founded on French influence, and existing only in sub-
serviency to France.


Such, Sir, would be the answer, if we direct our attention only
to the question of general advantage. And here I should be
inclined to stop ; but since it has also been more particularly
asked what are the advantages which she is to gain, in point of
commerce and manufactures, I am desirous of applying my an-
swer more immediately and distinctly to that part of the subject;
and as I know that the statement will carry more conviction with •
it to those who make the enquiry, if given in the words of
the right honourable gentleman, to whom, and to whose opinions,
I have had more than one occasion to advert in the course of this
night, I will read you an extract from his recorded sentiments on
the subject in the year 1785, on this same memorable occasion


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 511799.]
of the commercial propositions. Speaking of a solid and un-
alterable compact between the two countries, speaking expressly
of the peculiar importance of insuring a continuance of those
commercial benefits, which she at that time held only at the
discretion of this country, he says, " The exportation of Irish
products to England amounts to two millions and a half annually ;
and the exportation of British products to Ireland amounts to
but one million."


He then proceeds to reason upon the advantage which Ireland
would derive, under such circumstances, from guarding against
mutual prohibitions ; and he accompanies the statement, which
I have just read, with this observation :


" If, indeed, the adjustment were to take away the benefit
from Ireland, it would be a good cause for rejecting it; but, as
it for ever confirms all the advantages we derived from our linen
trade, and binds England from making any law that can be inju-
rious to it, surely gentlemen who regard that trade, and whose


fortunes and rents depend on its prosperity, will not entertain a
moment's doubt about embracing the offer."


Such was the reasoning of the Irish chancellor of the exche-
quer, which I consider to have been perfectly just. With re-
ference to his late opinions, I do not think I can more forcibly
reply to a person who signs his name to propositions which
declare, that the ruin of the linen trade of Ireland is likely to be
the consequence of an union, than by opposing to him his own
opinion. I shall be able to strengthen the former opinion of that
gentleman, by stating, that the progress that has been made in
commercial advantages to Ireland since 1785, has been such as
to render his argument still more applicable. What is the nature
of that commerce, explained by the same person in so concise
and forcible a manner, that I am happy to use his own state-
ment? He does not confine himself to the gross amount, but
gives the articles in detail.


" Britain," he says, " imports annually from us two million
five hundred thousand pounds of our products, all, or very
nearly all, duty-free, and covenants never to lay a duty on them.


E 2




52
-MR. PITT'S


PAN. 81.


We import about a million of hers, and raise a revenue on almost
every article of it, and reserve the power of continuing that re-
venue. She exports to us salt for our fisheries and provisions ;
hops, which we cannot grow ; coals, which we canna raise ; tin,•
which we have not ; and bark, which we cannot get elsewhere :
and all these without reserving any duty."


I will not tire the patience of the House by reading farther
extracts : but the right honourable gentleman's whole speech, in'
like manner, points out the advantages of the commercial pro-
positions (at that time under consideration) as a ground-work of
a compact between the two countries, in 1785, on commercial
subjects. But how stands the case now ? The trade is at this
time infinitely more advantageous to Ireland. It. will be proved,
from the documents which I hold in my hand, as far as relates.
to the mere interchange of manufactures, that the manufactures
exported to Ireland from Great Britain, in 1797, very little
exceeded a million sterling, (the articles of produce amount to
nearly the same sum,) while Great Britain, on the other hand,
imported from Ireland to the amount of near three millions in
the manufactured articles of linen and linen yarn', and between
two and three Millions in provisions and cattle, besides corn and
other articles of produce.


In addition to these articles, there are other circumstances of
advantage to Ireland. Articles which are essential to her trade
and to her subsistence, or serve as raw materials for her manu-
factures, are sent from hence free of duty. It is expressly stated,
on the same authority, that all that we take back from Ireland was
liable to a duty in that country on their exports : the increasing
produce of the chief article of their manufacture, and four-fifths
of her whole export trade, are to be ascribed, not to that Inde-
pendent Legislature, but to the liberality of the British parliament.
It is by the free admission of linens for our market, and the
bounties granted by the British parliament on.its re-export, that
the linen trade has been brought to the height at which we now
see it. To the parliament of this country, then, it is now owing,
that a market has been opened for her linen to the amount


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES: 59].179.91J
af three millions.. By the bounty we give to Ireland,- we 'afford
her a double market for that article, and (what is still more
striking and important) we have prevented a competition against
her, arising from the superior cheapness of the linen manufac-
tures of the continent,: by subjecting their importation to a duty
of thirty per cent. Nothing would more clearly shew what would
be the danger to Ireland from the competition in all its principal
branches of the linen trade, than the simple fact, that we even
now import foreign linens, under this heavy duty, to. an amount
equal to a seventh part of all thatIreland is able to send u-s, with
the preference that has been stated. By this arrangement alone,
we must, therefore, be considered, either as foregoing between
seven and eight hundred thousand pounds per annum in revenue,
which we should collect if we chose to levy the same duty on
all linens, Irish as well as foreign ; or, on the other hand, as
sacrificing, perhaps, at least a million sterling in the price paid
for those articles, by the subjects of this country, which might
be saved, if we allowed. the importation of all linen, foreign as
well as Irish, equally free from duty.


The present measure is, however, in its effects, calculated
not merely for a confirmation of the advantages on which the
person, to whom I have alluded, has insisted. It is obvious
that a fuller and more perfect connection of the two countries,
from whatever cause it may arise, must produce a greater faci-
lity and freedom of commercial intercourse, and ultimately tend
to the advantage of both. The benefits to be derived to either
country, from such an arrangement, must indeed, in a great
measure, be gradual ; but they are not on that account the less
certain, and they cannot be stated in more forcible language
than in that used in the speech to which I have referred.


Gentlemen undervalue the reduction of British duties on
our manufactures. I agree with them it may not operate soon,
but we are to look forward to a final settlement, and it is im-
possible but that in time, with as good climate, equal natural
.powers, cheaper food, and fewer taxes, we must be able to sell
to them. When. commercial jealousy shall be banished by final.


E 3




MR. PITT'S
[JAw. 31.


settlement, and trade take its natural and steady course, the
kingdoms will cease to look to rivalship, each will make that
fabric which it can do cheapest, and buy from the other what
it cannot make so advantageously. Labour will be then truly
employed to profit, not diverted by bounties, jealousies, or legis-
lative interference, from its natural and beneficial course. This
system will attain its real object, consolidating the strength of
the remaining parts of the empire, by encouraging the commu-
nications of their market among themselves, with preference to
every part against all strangers l"


I am, at least, therefore, secure from the design of appearing
to deliver any partial or commercial opinion of my own, when I
thus state, on the authority of a person the best informed, and
who then judged dispassionately, both the infinite importance
to Ireland of securing permanently the great commercial advan-
tages which she now holds at the discretion of Great Britain, and
the additional benefit which she would derive from any settle-
ment which opened to her gradually a still more free and complete
commercial intercourse with this country. And while I state thus
strongly the commercial advantages to the sister kingdom, I
have no alarm lest I should excite any sentiment of jealousy
here. I know that the inhabitants of Great Britain wish well to
the prosperity of Ireland ; that, if the kingdoms are really and
solidly united, they feel that to increase the commercial wealth
of one country is not to diminish that of the other, but to
increase the strength and power of both. But to justify that
sentiment, we must be satisfied that the wealth we are pouring
into the lap of Ireland is not every day liable to be snatched from
us, and thrown into the scale of the enemy. If, therefore, Ire-
land is to continue, as I trust it will for ever, an essential part
of the integral strength of the British empire ; if her strength is
to be permanently ours, and our strength to be hers, neither I
nor any English ministers , can ever be deterred, by the fear of
creating jealousy in the hearts of Englishmen, from stating the
advantages of a closer connection, or from giving any assistance
to the commercial prosperity of that kingdom.


1799.]


55"PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES:


if ever, indeed, I should have the misfortune to witness the
melancholy moment when such principles must he abandoned,
when all hope of seeing Ireland permanently and securely con-
nected with this country shall be at an end, I shall, at least,
have the consolation of knowing, that it will not be the want of


temper or forbearance, of conciliation, of kindness, or of full


explanatio n on our part, which will have produced an event so
fatal to Ireland, and so dangerous to Great Britain. If ever
the overbearing power of prejudice and passion shall produce
that fatal consequence, it will too late be perceived and acknow-
ledged, that all the great commercial advantages which Ireland
at present enjoys, and which are continually increasing, are to
be ascribed to the liberal conduct, the fostering care of the
British empire, extended to the sister kingdom as to a part of
ourselves, and not (as has been fallaciously and vainly pre-
tended) to any thing which has been done, or can be done, bs'
the independent power of her own separate legislature.


• I have thus, Sir, endeavoured to state to you the reasons,
why I think this measure advisable ; why I wish it to be pro-
posed to the parliament of Ireland, with temper and. fairness ;
and why it appears to me entitled, at least, to a calm and dis-
passionate discussion in that kingdom. I am aware, however,
that objections have been urged against the measure, some of
which are undoubtedly plausible, and have been but too suc-
cessful in their influence on the Irish parliament. Of these
objections I shall now proceed, as concisely as possible, to take
some notice..


The first is, what I heard alluded to by the honourable gen-
tleman* opposite to me, when His Majesty's message wa g brought
down; namely, That the parliament of Ireland is incompetent
to entertain and discuss the question, or rather, to act upon the
measure proposed, without having previously obtained the con--
sent of the people of Ireland, their constituents. But, Sir, I.
am led to suppose, from what the honourable gentleman after-
wards stated,, that he made this objection, rather by way of


* Mr. Sheridan.
4




110 MR. PITT'S
EJAN. 31,


deprecating the discussion of the question, than as entertaining
the smallest doubt upon it himself'. If, however, the honour--
able gentleman, or any other gentleman on the other side of the
House, should seriously entertain a doubt on the subject, I shall
be ready to discuss it with him distinctly,, either this night or at,
any future opportunity. For the present, I will assume that no-
man "can deny the competency of the parliament of Ireland
(representing as it- does, in the language of our constitution:


lawfully, fully, and freely, all the estates of the people of the
realm,) to make laws to bind that people, unless he is disposed:
to distinguish that parliament from the parliament of , Great
Britain, and, while he maintains the independence of the Irish
legislature, yet denies to it the lawful and essential powers of
parliament. No man, who maintains the parliament of Ireland
to be co-cqual with our own, can deny its competency on this
question, unless he means to go the length of denying,_ at
the same moment, the whole of the authority of the parliament
of Great Britain—to shake every principle oflegislation— and
to maintain, that all the acts passed, and every thing done by
parliament, or sanctioned by its authority, however sacred, how-
ever beneficial, is neither more nor less than an act of usurpa-
tion. He must not only deny the validity of the union between
'Scotland and England, but he must deny the authority of every
one of the proceedings of the united legislature since the


. union ;
nay, Sir, he must go still farther, and deny the authority under
which we now sit and deliberate here as a house of parliament :
of course he must deny the validity of the adjustment of 1782,
and call in question every measure which he has himself been
the most forward to have enforced. This point, Sir, is of so
much importance, that I think I ought not to suffer the oppor-
tunity to pass, without illustrating more fully what I mean. If
this principle of the incompetency of parliament to the decision
of the measure be admitted, or if it be contended, that parlia-
ment has no legitimate authority to discuss and decide upon it,
you will be driven to the necessity of recognising a principle, the
most dangerous that ever was adopted in any civilised state, — I


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.
1799.J
mean the principle, that parliament cannot adopt any measure
new in its nature, and of great importance, without appealing to
the constituent and delegating authority for directions. If that
doctrine be true, look to what an extent it will carry you. If
such an argument could be set up and maintained, you acted
without any legitimate authority when you created the represen-
tation of the principality of Wales, or of either of the counties
palatine of England. Every law that parliament ever made,
without that appeal, either as to its own frame and constitution,
as to the qualification of the electors or the elected, as to the
great and fundamental point of the succession to the crown,
was a breach of a treaty and an act of usurpation.


If we turn to Ireland itself, what do gentlemen think of the
power of that parliament, which, without any fresh delegation
from its protestant constituents, associates to itself all the catho-
lic electors, and thus destroys a fundamental distinction on which
it was formed? God forbid that I should object to or blame
any of these measures! I am only stating the extent to which
the principle, that parliament has no authority to decide upon
the present measure, will lead ; and, if it be admitted in one
case, it must be admitted in all: Will any man say, that (al-
though a protestant parliament in Ireland, chosen exclusively
by protestant constituents, has, by its own inherent power, and
without consulting those constituents, admitted and compre-
hended the catholics who were till then, in fact, a sepa-
rate community) that parliament cannot associate itself with
another protestant community, represented by a protestant par-
liament, having one interest with itself, and similar in its laws,
its constitution and its established religion? What must be
said by those who have at any time been friends to any plan of
parliamentary reform, and particularly such as have been most
recently brought forward, either in Great Britain or Ireland?
Whatever may have been thought of the propriety of the mea-
sure; I never heard any doubt of the competency of parliament
to consider and discuss it. Yet I defy any man to maintain the
principle of those plans, without contending that, as a member




PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 59
1'799.]


58 MR. Pars [JA IL 31.
of parliament, he possesses a right to concur in disfranchising
those who sent him to parliament, and to select others, by
whom he was not elected, in their stead. I am sure that no
sufficient distinction, in point of principle, can be successfully
maintained for a single moment ; nor should I deem it necessary
to dwell on this point, in the manner I do, were I not convinced
that it is connected in part with all those false and dangerous
notions on the subject of government which have lately become
too prevalent in the world. It may, in fact, be traced to that
gross perversion of the principles of all political society, which
rests on the supposition that there exists continually in every
government a sovereignty in abeyance (as it were) on the part of
the people, ready to be called forth on every occasion, or ra-
ther, on every pretence, when it may suit the purposes of the
party or faction who are the advocates of this doctrine to sup-
pose an occasion for its exertion. It is in these false principles
that are contained the seeds of all the misery, desolation, and
ruin, which in the present day have spread themselves over so
large a proportion of the habitable globe.


These principles, Sir, are, at length, so well known and un-
derstood in their practical effects, that they can no longer hope
for one enlightened or intelligent advocate, when they appear in
their true colours. Yet, with all the horror we all feel, in common
with the rest of the world, at the effect of them, with all the
confirmed and increasing love and veneration which we feel to-
wards the constitution of our country, founded as it is, both
in theory and experience, on principles directly the reverse,
there are too many among us, who, while they abhor and reject
such opinions, when presented to them in their naked deformity,
suffer them in a more disguised shape to be gradually infused
into their minds, and insensibly to influence and bias their sen-
timents and arguments on the greatest and most important dis-
cussions. This concealed poison is now more to be dreaded than
any open attempt to support such principles by argument, or to
enforce them by arms. No society, whatever be its particular
form, can long subsist, if this principle is once admitted. In


14


every government, there must reside somewhere a supreme, ab-
solute, and unlimited authority. This is equally true of every
lawful monarchy —of every aristocracy — of every pure democracy
(if indeed such a form of government ever has existed, or ever
can exist)—and of those mixed constitutions formed and com-
pounded from the others, which we are justly inclined to prefer-
to any of them. In all these governments, indeed alike, that
power may by possibility be abused; but whether the abuse is
such as to justify and call for the interference of the people col-
lectively, or more properly speaking, of any portion of it, must
always be an extreme case, and a question of the greatest and
most perilous responsibility, not in law only, but in conscience
and in duty, to all those who either act upon it themselves, or
persuade others to do so. But no provision for such a case ever
has been or can be made beforehand; it forms no chapter in any
known code of laws, it can find no place in any system of human
jurisprudence. But, above all, if such a principle can make no
part of any established constitution, not even of those where the
government is so framed as to be most liable to the abuse of its
powers, it will be preposterous indeed to suppose that it can be
admitted in one where those powers are so distributed and ba-
lanced as to furnish the best security against the probability of
such an abuse. Shall that principle be sanctioned as a necessary
part of the best government, which cannot be admitted to exist
as an established check even upon the worst ! Pregnant as it is
with danger and confusion, shall it be received and authorised
in proportion as every reason, which can ever make it necessary
to recur to it, is not likely to exist ? Yet, Sir, I know not how
it is, that, in proportion as we are less likely to have occasion
for so desperate a remedy, in proportion as a government is so
framed as to provide within itself the best guard and control on
the exercise of every branch of authority, to furnish the means
of preventing or correcting every abuse of power, and to secure.
by its. own natural operation, a due attention to the interest and
feelings of every part of the community, in that very proportion
persons have been found perverse enough to imagine, that such




6.0 MR. PIT'1"S'
[JAN.-31,


a constitution admits and recognises, as a part of it, that which
is inconsistent with the nature of any government, and, above.
all, inapplicable to our own.


I have said more, Sir, upon this subject than I should have
thought necessary, if I had not felt that this false and dangerous
mockery of the sovereignty of the people is in truth one of the chief
elements of jacobinism, one of the favourite impostures to mis-
lead the understanding, and to flatter and inflame the passions
of the mass of mankind, who have not the opportunity of exa-
mining and exposing it, and that, as such, on every occasion,
and in every shape in which it appears, it ought to be corn-.
bated and resisted by every friend to civil order, and to the
peace and happiness of mankind.


Sir, the next and not the least prevalent,. objection, is one
which is contained in words which are an appeal to a natural and
laudable, but what I must call an erroneous and mistaken, sense
of national pride. It is an appeal to the generous and noble
passions of a nation easily inflamed under any supposed attack
upon its honour, I mean the attempt to represent the question
of an union by compact between the parliaments of the two king-
doms as a question involving the independence of Ireland. It
has been said, that no compensation could be made to any coun-
try for the surrender of its national independence. Sir, on this,
as well as on every part of the question, I am desirous gentlemen


-u•


should come closely to the point, that they should sift it to
the bottom, and ascertain upon what grounds and principles their
opinion really rests. Do they mean to maintain that in any hu-
miliating, in any degrading sense of the word which can be acted
upon practically as a rule, and which can lead to any useful
conclusion, that at any time when the government of any two
separate countries unite in forming one more extensive empire,
the individuals who composed either of the former narrow so-
cieties are afterwards less members of an independent country, or
to any valuable and useful purpose less possessed of political 1
freedom or civil happiness, than they were before? It must be
obvious to every gentleman who will look at the subject, in


1799.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 61


tracing the histories of all the countries, the most proud of their
present existing independence, of all the nations in Europe, there
is not one that could exist in the state in which it now stands, if
that principle had been acted upon by our forefathers ; and Europe
must have remained to this hour in a state of ignorance and bar-
barism, from the perpetual warfare of independent and petty
states. In the instance of our own country, it would be a
superfluous waste of time to enumerate the steps by which, all its
parts were formed into one kingdom; but will any man in general
assert, that in all the different unions which have formed the
principal states of Europe, their inhabitants have become less
free, that they have had less of which to be proud, less scope for
their own exertions, than they had in their former situation ? If
this doctrine is to be generally maintained, what becomes of the
situation at this hour of any one county of England, or of any
one county of Ireland, now united under the independent parlia-
ment of that kingdom ? If it be pushed to its full extent, it is
obviously incompatible with all civil society. As the former
principle of the sovereignty of the people strikes at the founda-
tion of all governments, so this is equally hostile to all political
confederacy, and mankind must be driven back to what is called
the state of nature.


But while I combat this general and abstract principle, which'
would operate as 'an objection to every union between separate
states, on the ground of the sacrifice of independence, do I mean
to contend that there is in no case just ground for such a senti-
ment? Far from it: it may become, on many occasions, the first
duty of a free and generous people. If there exists a country
which contains within itself the means of military protection, the
naval force necessary for its defence, which furnishes objects of
industry sufficient for the subsistence of its inhabitants, and pecu-
niary resources adequate to maintaining, with dignity, the rank
which it has attained among the nations of the world; if, above
all, it enjoys the blessings of internal content and tranquillity,
and possesses a distinct constitution of its own, the defects of
which, if any, it is within itself capable of correcting ; and if that




62


MR. PITT'S
[JAN. 31.


constitution be equal, if not superior, to that of any other in the
world, or (which is nearly the same thing) if those who live
under it believe it to be so, and fondly cherish that opinion, I
can indeed well understand that such a country must be jealous
of any measure, which, even by its own consent, under the
authority of its own lawful government, is to associate it as a
part of a larger and more extensive empire.


But, Sir, if, ou the other hand, it should happen that there
be a country which, against the greatest of all dangers that
threaten its peace and security, has not adequate means of pro-
tecting itself without the aid of another nation ; if that other be
a neighbouring and kindred nation, speaking the same language,
whose laws, whose customs and habits are the same in principle,
but carried to a greater degree of perfection, with a more exten-
sive commerce, and more abundant means of acquiring and
diffusing national wealth ; the stability of whose government —
the excellence of whose constitution, is more than ever the
admiration and envy of Europe, and of which the very country of
which we are speaking,. can only boast an inadequate and imper-
fect resemblance ; —under such circumstances, I would ask, what
conduct would be prescribed by every rational principle. of dig-
nity, of honour, or of interest ? I would ask, whether this is not
a faithful description of the circumstances which ought to dispose
Ireland to an union ?—Whether Great Britain is not precisely the:-
nation with which, on these principles, a country; situated as
Ireland is, would desire to unite? Does an,


union, under such
circumstances, by free consent, and on just and equal terms,
deserve to be branded as a proposal for subjecting Ireland to a
foreign yoke ? Is it not rather the free and voluntary association
of two great countries, which join, for their common benefit, in
one empire, where each will retain its proportional weight and
importance, under the security of equal laws, reciprocal affec-
tion, arid inseparable interests, and which want nothing but that
indissoluble connection to render both invincible ?


Non ego nec Teucris Palos parere jubebo,
Nec nova regna peto ; paribus se legibus andice
Invictce genies ceterna infcedera mittant.




1799-]
63PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


Sir, I have nearly stated all that is necessary for me to trouble
the House with ; there are, however, one or two other objections
which I wish not entirely to pass over : one of them is, a general
notion that an union with Great Britain must necessarilycrincrease
one of the great evils of Ireland, by producing depopulation in
many parts of the country, and by increasing greatly the number
of absentees. I do not mean to deny that this effect would, to a
limited extent, take place during a part of the year ; but I think
it will not be difficult for me to prove, that this circumstance
be more than counterbalanced by the operation of the system in


•other respects.
If it be true that this measure has an inevitable tendency to


admit the introduction of that British capital which is most likely
to give life to all the operations of commerce, and to all the im-
provements of agriculture ; if it be that which, above all other
considerations is roost likely to give security, quiet, and internal
repose to Ireland; if it is likely to remove the chief bar to the
internal advancement of wealth and of civilization, by a more
intimate intercourse with England ; if it is more likely to com-
municate from hence those habits which distinguish this country ;
and which, by a continued gradation, unite the highest and the
lowest orders of the community without a chasm in any part of
the system ; if it is not only likely to invite (as I have already
said) English capital to set commerce in motion, but to offer it
the use of new markets, to open fresh resources of wealth and
industry, can wealth, can industry, can civilisation increase
among the whole bulk of the people without much more than
counterbalancing the partial effect of the removal of the few in-
dividuals who, for a small part of the year, would follow the seat
of legislation ? If, notwithstanding the absence of parliament
from Dublin, it would still remain the centre of education and
of the internal commerce of a country increasing in improve-
ment ; if it would still remain the seat of '''leaal discussion, which
must always increase with an increase of property and occu-
pation, *will it be supposed, with a view even to the interests of
those whose partial interests have been most successfully ap-




I64 MR. PITT'S [TAN. 31.
pealed to ; with a view either to the respectable body of the bar,
to the merchant, or shopkeeper of Dublin, (if it were possible td
suppose that a transaction of this sort ought to be referred to
that single criterion,) that they would not find their proportionate
share of advantage in the general advantage of the state ? Let it
be remembered also, that if the transfer of the seat of legislature
may call from Ireland to England the members of the united
parliament, yet, after the union, property; influence and con-
sideration in Ireland will lead, as much as in Great Britain, to
all the objects of -imperial ambition ; and there must, conse-
quently, exist a new incitement to persons to acquire property
in that country, and to those who possess it, to reside there, and
to cultivate the good opinion of those with whom they live, and
to extend and improve their influence and connections.


But, Sir, I need not dwell longer on argument, however it may
satisfy my own mind, because we can on this question refer to
experience. I see every gentleman anticipates that I allude to
Scotland. What has been the result of the union there ? An
union, give me leave to say, as much opposed, and by much the
same arguments, prejudices, and misconceptions, as are urged
at this moment; creating too the same alarms, and provoking
the same outrages, as have lately taken place in Dublin. Look.
at the metropolis of Scotland: the population of Edinburgh has
been more than doubled since the union, and a new city added
to the old. But we may be told, that Edinburgh has engrossed
all the commerce of that country, and has those advantages
which Dublin cannot expect. Yet while Edinburgh, deprived
of its parliament, but retaining, as Dublin would retain, its courts
of justice ; continuing, as Dublin would continue, the resort of
those whose circumstances would not permit them to visit a dis-
tant metropolis ; continuing, as Dublin would continue, the seat
of national education, while Edinburgh has baffled all the pre-
dictions of that period, what has been the situation of Glasgow ?
The population of Glasgow, since the union, has increased in the
proportion of between five and six to one : look at its progress in
manufactures ; look at its general advantages, and tell me what


I799-3 PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


ground there is, judging by experience in aid of theory, fir
.those gloomy apprehensions which have been so industriously
excited.


There
T


remains, Sir, another general line of argument, which I
have already anticipated, and I hope answered, that the commer-
cial privileges now enjoyed by Ireland, and to which it owes so
much of its prosperity, would be less secure than at present. I
have given an answer to that already, by stating, that they are
falsely imputed to the independence of the Irish parliament, for
that they are, in fact, owing to the exercise of the voluntary dis-
cretion of the British parliament, unbound by compact, prompted
only by its natural disposition to consider the interests of Ireland
the same as its own ; and if that has been done while Ireland is
only united to us in the imperfect and precarious manner in
which it is, while it has a separate parliament, notwithstanding
the commercial jealousies of our own manufacturers ; if under
these circumstances we have done so, if we have done so with no
other connection than that which now subsists, and while Ireland
has no share in our representation, what fresh ground can
there be for apprehension, when she will have her proportionate
weight in the legislature, and will be united with us as closely as
Lancashire or Yorkshire, or any other county in Great Britain ?


Sir, I have seen it under the same authority to which I am
sorry so often to advert, that the linen trade would be injured,
and that there will be no security for its retaining its present ad-
vantages. I have already stated to you (and with that very au-
thority in my favour) that those advantages are at present preca-
rious, and that their security can only arise from compact with
Great Britain. Such a compact this measure would establish in
the most solemn manner ; but besides this, the natural po-
licy of this country, not merely its experienced liberality, but
the identity of interests after an union, would offer a security
worth a thousand compacts.


Sir, the only other general topic of objection is that, upon
which great pains have been taken to raise an alarm in Ireland—
the idea nideatliat the main principle of the measure was to subject
VOL. F




1799.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 67
the misrepresentation which has taken place on this part of the
subject, how incumbent it is upon the House to receive these pro-
positions, and to adopt, after due deliberation, such resolutions as
may record to Ireland the terms upon which we are ready to meet
her: and, in the mean time, let us wait, not without impatience,
but without dissatisfaction, for that, moment, when the effect of
reason and discussion may reconcile the minds of men in that
kingdom to a measure which I am sure will be found as neces-
sary for their peace and happiness, as it will be conducive to the
general security and advantage of the British empire.


Sir, it remains for me only to - lay these resolutions before the
House, wishing that the more detailed discussion of them may
be reserved to a future day.


Resolved, " First, That in order to promote and secure the
essential interests of Great Britain and Ireland, and to consoli-
date the strength, power, and resources of the British empire,
it will be -advisable to concur in such measures as may best tend
to unite the two kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland into one
kingdom, in such manner, and on such terms and conditions,. as
may be established by acts of the respective parliaments of His
Majesty's said kingdoms.


" Second, That it appears to this committee that it would be
fit to propose as the first article to serve as a basis of the said union,
that the said kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland shall, upon
a day to be agreed upon, be united into one kingdom, by the
name of the United Kingdom of Great Britain .and Ireland.


" Third, That for the same purpose it appears also to this
committee, that it would be fit to propose that the succession
to the monarchy and the imperial crown of the said united
kingdoms shall continue limited and settled, in the same manner
as the imperial crown of the said kingdoms of Great Britain
and Blandstands limited and settled, according to the
existing
and Scotland.


" Fourth, That for the same purpose it appears also to this com-
mittee, that it would be fit to propose that the said united kingdom


• r 2


and to the terms of the union between England


66


MR. PITT'S
[JAN. 31.


Ireland to a load of debt and an increase of taxes, and to expose
her to the consequences of all our alleged difficulties and sup-
posed necessities.


Sir, I hope the zeal, the spirit, and the liberal and enlarged
policy of this country, has given ample proof that it is not from
a pecuniary motive that we seek an union. If it is not desirable
on the grounds I have stated, it cannot be recommended for the
mere purpose of taxation ; but to quiet any jealousy on this
subject, here again let us look to Scotland : Is there any instance
where, with 45 members on her part and 513 on ours, that part
of the united kingdom has paid more than its proportion to the
general burdens ? Is it then, Sir, any ground of apprehension
that we are likely to tax Ireland more heavily when she becomes
associated with ourselves ? To tax in its due proportion the.
whole of the empire, to the utter exclusion of the idea of the
predominance of one part of society over another, is the great
characteristic of British finance, as equality of laws is of the Bri-
tish constitution.


But, Sir, in addition to this, if we come to the details of this pro-
position, it is in our power to fix, for any number of years which
shall be thought fit, the proportion by which the contribution of
Ireland to the expenses of the state, shall be regulated ; that
these proportions shall not be such as would make a contribution
greater than the necessary amount of its own present necessary
expenses as a -separate kingdom ; and even after that limited
period, the proportion of the whole contribution from time to
time might be made to depend on the comparative produce, in
each kingdom, of such general taxes hs might be thought to
afford the best criterion of their respective wealth. Or, what I
should hope would be found practicable, -the system of internal
taxation in each country might gradually be so equalised and
assimilated, on the leading articles, as to make all rules of specific
proportion unnecessary, and to secure, that Ireland' shall never
be taxed but in proportion as we tax ourselves.


The application of these principles, however, will form matter of
future discussion—I mention them only as strongly showing, from




68 PITT"g EJAN.


be represented in one and the same parliament, to be styled the
Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.,
and that such a number of lords spiritual and temporal, and such
a number of members of the House of Commons as shall be here-
after agreed upon by acts of the respective parliaments as afore-
said, shall sit and vote in the said parliament on the part of
Ireland, and shall be summoned, chosen, and returned, in such
manner as shall be fixed by an act of the parliament of Ireland
previous to the said union ; and that every member hereafter to
sit and vote in the said parliament of the united kingdom shall,
until the said parliament shall otherwise provide, take and sub-
scribe the same oaths, and make the same declaration, as are by
law required to be taken, subscribed, and made, by the members
of the parliaments of Great Britain and Ireland.


" Fifth, That for the same purpose it appears also to this'com-
mittee, that it would be fit to propose that the churches of England
and Ireland, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and govern-
ment thereof, shall be preserved as now by law established.


" Sixth, That. for the same purpose it appears also to this com-
mittee, that it would be fit to propose that His Majesty's subjects
in Ireland shall at all times hereafter be entitled, to the same pri,-
vileges, and be on the same footing in respect of trade and naviga-
tion, in all ports and places belonging to Great Britain, and in all
cases with respect to which treaties shall be made by His Majesty,
his heirs, or successors, with any foreign power, as His Majesty's
subjects in Great Britain ; that no duty shall be imposed on the
import or export between Great Britain and Ireland of any articles
now duty free; and that on other articles there shall be establish-
ed, for a time to be limited, such a moderate rate of equal duties
as shall, previous to the union, he agreed upon and approved by
the respective parliaments, subject, after the expiration of such
limited time, to be diminished equally with respect to both king-
doms, but in no case to be increased; that all articles which may
at Any time hereafter be imported into Great Britain from foreign
parts, shall he importable through either kingdom into the other,
subject to the like duties and regulations as if the same were


/799.3
PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 69


imported directly from foreign parts ; that where any articles,
the growth, produce, or manufacture of either kingdom, are sub-
ject to any internal duty in one kingdom, such countervailing
duties (over and above any duties on import to be fixed as afore-
said) shall be imposed, as shall be necessary to prevent any
inequality in that respect ; and that all other matters of trade
and commerce other than the foregoing, and than such others
as may before the union be specially agreed upon for the due
encouragement of the agriculture and manufactures of the re-
spective kingdoms, shall remain to be regulated from time to
time by the united parliament.


Seventh, That for the like purpose it would be fit to propose
that the charge arising from the payment of the interest or sinking
fund for the reduction of the principle of the debt incurred in
either kingdom before the union, shall continue to be separately
defrayed by Great Britain and Ireland respectively. That for a
number.of years to he limited, the future ordinary expenses of
the united kingdom, in peace or war, shall be defrayed by Great
Britain and Ireland jointly, according to such proportions as shall
be established by the respective parliaments previous to the
union ; and that after the expiration of the time to be so limited,
the proportions shall not be liable to be varied, except according
to such rates and principles as shall be in like manner agreed
upon previous to the union.


" Eighth, That for the like purpose it would be fit to propose
that all laws in force at the time of the union, and that all the
courts of civil or ecclesiastical jurisdiction within the respective
kingdoms shall remain as now by law established within the
same, subject only to such alterations or regulations from time
to time as circumstances may appear to the parliament of the
united kingdom to require.


" That the foregoing resolutions be laid before His Majesty,
with an humble address, assuring His Majesty that we have pro-
ceeded ,


with the 'utmost attention to the consideration of the
mimepsosargtaent objects recommended to us in His Majesty's gracious


F 3




``'That we entertain a firm persuasion that a complete and entire


PAN',70 MR. PITTS


union between Great Britain and Ireland; founded on equal and
liberal principles, on the similarity of laws, constitution, and go-
vernment, and on a sense of mutual interests and aff'ections, by
promoting the security, wealth, and commerce, of the respective
kingdoms, and by allaying the distractions which have unhappily
prevailed in Ireland, must affo rd fresh means of opposing at all
times an effectual resistance to the destructive projects of our
foreign and domestic enemies, and must tend to confirm and
augment the stability, power, and. resources of the empire.


" Impressed with these considerations, we feel it our duty
humbly to lay before His-Majesty such propositions as appear to
us best calculated:


to form the basis of such a settlement, leaving
it to His Majesty's wisdom, at such time and in such manner as
His Majesty, in his parental solicitude for the happiness of his
people, shall judge fit, to communicate these propositions to his
parliament of Ireland, with whom we shall be at all times ready
to concur in all such measures as may he found most conducive
to the accomplishment of this great and salutary work. And we
trust that, after full and mature consideration, such a settlement
may be framed and established, by the deliberate consent of the
parliaments of both kingdoms, as may be conformable to the
sentiments, wishes, and real interests of His Majesty's faithful
subjects of Great Britain and Ireland, and may unite them in-
separably in the full enjoyment of the blessings of our free and
invaluable constitution, in the support of the honour and dignity
of His Majesty's crown, and in the preservation and advance-
ment of the welfare and prosperity of the whole British empire."-


The question was carried for the Speaker's leaving the chair,
Ayes


140
Noes


15
and the House then went into a committee upon the resolutions,


1


1799.3
PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


April 19. 1799.


THE
House having resolved itself into a Committee of the whole


House, to take into consideration the report of the secret committee
relative to seditious societies,


Mr. PITT rose, and spoke in substance as follows :


It is not my intention, Sir, on the present occasion, to detain
the committee by enlarging upon the circumstances stated in the
report, which is now the subject of consideration. Those cir-
cumstances detailed in the report itself are so important in their


nature, and so plainly and forcibly stated, that to dwell upon
them would be to weaken rather than to add to the impression
they are calculated to make. I shall content myself; therefore,
with laying before you the outline of the measure, which it is
my intention to propose as the ground of the resolutions of the
committee, on which, if they should meet its concurrence, will
follow a motion, that the chairman be instructed to move for
leave to bring in bills to enact their provisions. Should these
propositions be adopted, another opportunity will. occur for the
discussion of their details. This much, however, I think I may
venture to say, that there cannot be two opinions as to the ne-
cessity of continuing and enforcing those wise and salutary
measures of precaution to which we are indebted for our safety,
and by which we have been enabled to repress the efforts of the
most desperate, wicked, and cruel conspiracy against our libel.-
ties, our constitution, and our peace, that is to be found in the
history of this country. From the report of the committee, we
perceive that among other things the utmost advantage has re-
sulted from that great measure of precaution, the act empower-
ing His Majesty to secure and detain persons suspected of
conspiring against his person and government— a measure which
has been attended with the most beneficial effects at moments the
naost critical, in breaking up the designs of the conspirers; when
they approached nearly to the period of their execution. Pre-
vious even to the report, in which its necessity is so satisfactorily


r


4




!2'
MR. PITT'S


[APRIL. 19..
developed, the facts notorious to the world would have been sut
ficient to justify an application to parliament for prolonging the
duration of the act suspending the habeas e6-pus. Following up
at the same time the suggestions in the report, the first motion I
shall have the honour to propose will be to continue that measure,
at the same time adding to it a provision to render it more effec-
tual, a provision fbunded as well I upon its general propriety, as
upon the particular circumstances which the report has explained.
What I allude to is, to adopt a regulation empowering His Majesty
to transfer persons arrested under this act to any place within the
kingdom which may be deemed most eligible. I do not mean to
enlarge upon the policy of such a provision. I shall only observe,
that it will be notorious to the committee, from the report under
consideration, and from another report lately presented to the
House, that one of the principal features of that conspiracy which
has been prosecuted in this country, but more particularly in the
sister kingdom, where it actually led to so much calamity and
bloodshed, has been that the designs of the conspirators have con-


. tinued to be conducted under the direction of persons in custody
on charges_ of being its authors, or guilty upon their own confes-
sion.. How far the case here has been similar to that I have
stated, it is needless at present to enquire. It will hardly be
denied, that circumstances are such as to require that all doubts
should be removed respecting the power of Ilis Majesty to trans-
fer persons in this situation to the most safe and proper place of
confinement, and likewise to enable government to detain in cus-
tody here persons arrested in Ireland in the circumstances 1 have
described. This provision arises out of the message received
from His Majesty, respecting the persons brought from the sister
kingdom, to be detained in confinement in Great Britain.






I feel likewise that it will not be sufficient.to continue and en-
force the laws already adopted for our security, if we did not
adopt some precaution against the particular character of the
mischief against which we are called upon to guard. I allude to
that point so clearly established by the most powerful body of
evidence before us, the existence of secret societies totally un-


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 73


krn9o9:v1n in the history of this or any other country. Impressed
with the observation in the report of the committee, that in the
great struggle we maintain against jacobinism it is necessary to
watch the symptoms of the malady, and to adapt the remedy to
the appearance it assumes, we must feel ourselves bound to ac-
commodate our precautions to the evil which we have discovered.
It will at the same time be recorded to the honour of the British
parliamen t, that while it did not neglect the salutary precautions
which circumstances imperiously dictated, it did not pass beyond
the bounds of that necessity ; that, equally firm and temperate,
it has recollected what was to be yielded to safety, and what
was due to the constitution, that it might with just discernment
and moderation accommodate the precaution to the danger.


Considering the inveterate spirit and the invincible perseve-
rance of the enemy, with whom we have to contend, I do not
think that any one measure could be warranted as sufficient to
carry the constitution safe through that mighty struggle we have
tO maintain ; to that haven of security and peace, which, after a
period of exertion and of perseverance, more or less protracted;
we have a confident hope of attaining. For this arduous contest,
however, be it shorter or be it longer, we must be prepared ; we
must be determined firmly to abide by the cause we have em-
braced, vigorously to continue the efforts we have exerted, to
follow up wisely and vigilantly the provisions which we have
hitherto employed, unless we are contented to yield to the su-
perior vigilance, energy, and perseverance of an implacable
enemy, the pre-eminent blessings which we enjoy.


It is the duty of parliament, then, carefully to watch the
symptoms of the malady by which we are assailed. The point
which to-day seems most urgently to challenge our attention, is
that of the secret societies I have mentioned, all of which possess
a common distinguishing character. Wherever they have exist-
ed, they have been animated by the same spirit, dedicated to the
same objects, and known by the same effects. They have spread
themselves in Great Britain, in Ireland, throughout Europe. In
the sister kingdom, we have seen them not merely threatening the




MR. PI'T'S [APRIL 19.
mischiefs with which they are fraught, but at one moment scat-
tering their baleful consequences, and openly attempting the
overthrow of' all established government. Even here, notwith-
standing the prevalent loyalty of the great mass of the people,
and the, powerful obstacles with which they have had to contend,
we have seen that invincible perseverance in a bad cause by
which the spirit ofjacobinism is peculiarly characterised-, while in
other parts of Europe the existence of these secret societies has
uniformly been the forerunner or the attendant of the progress
of French principles and the ravage of French arms.


These societies, too, are in their nature totally repugnant
to the genius of this constitution, and strange to the habits of
this nation. They are clearly of foreign growth ; and, while we
are bound to discourage them, we can employ with the more sa-
tisfaction the strong measures which are necessary to their sup-
pression, because we must be sensible that we do not trench
upon the principles or the spirit of that liberty we inherit from.
our ancestors ; — that we do not impair those privileges which
give sanction to the great right of petition to all recognised classes
of men, and with none of which those new descriptions of' persons
can at all be confounded. Among the societies of this nature are
The Corresponding Society, The United English, The United Scots,
TheUnitedDritons, and 1 he United Irish. These societies are now
so clearly proved to be such an abuse of the privileges of this con-
stitution — so entirely inconsistent with all government, that all
must agree that they ought to be suppressed. In doing this, there
is one consideration which we ought to keep in view: we must be
aware that, from the very outset, the leaders of these baneful socie-
ties distinctly anticipated in their designs all those horrors and ca-
lamities which have since been developed in their progress. Many
individuals, however, there must have been who, not understand-
ing the purposes for which they were to co-operate, or not fore-
seeing the evils to which they would lead, were lightly and
inconsiderately drawn in to become members of such societies.
Adopting this distinction, then, it is intended that the measures
for:.


suppressing these bodies shall only be prospective, that they


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.
1799.]
;hall not aim at punishment, but prevention. We shall do our


duty
in setting a mark on the house where the pestilential con-


talugtion prevails, and then let those who enter perish. In the first
instance it shall be the mild and forgiving policy of the measures


proposed, to separate the misguided from the criminal. At the
same time I have no hesitation in saying, that after experiencing
this signal exercise of mercy and forbearance, those who shall
continue members of those societies, contract the guilt of ad-
hering to designs of deliberate treason. As, however, the great
object is to detect and to punish those who may be guilty of this
offence, in its nature so deep and atrocious, I flatter myself that
a summary conviction, followed by a summary punishment,
would answer the desired effect. My intention, therefore, is to
propose, that if any person after a day to be fixed shall continue
a member of such societies, they shall, upon summary conviction
before a magistrate, be liable to a certain fine, to be summarily
inflicted. Looking at the description of persons who in general
compose these associations, I hope that this regulation will be
attended with the most salutary effect. Persuaded that even this
simple mode of proceeding, and this very gentle punishment will
be effectual, I am happy to propose, as a remedy for the evil, a
measure which so little trenches upon those bulwarks of liberty
which it must be our wish to preserve. At the same time, while
in a political view it may attain the object desired, the punish-
ment it provides in a moral view is by no means commensurate
to the guilt which it affects.


That there are degrees of guilt among the members of these
societies is obvious ; it is necessary to keep this distinction
before us. To be merely one of the herd, may not be so
criminal as to take an active part in promoting the illegal pur-
poses for which the illegal association is formed. I should pro-
pose therefore to give an option, either to proceed by summary
conviction and fine, or by way of indictment in any court of
record, leaving it to the discretion of the court to punish the
offenders by fine or imprisonment, or, in cases of greater aggra-
vation, by transportation.


• .1




76
MR. PITT'S
[Arita., i9


It will he necessary likewise to provide, that the law shall not
be confined in its operation to the


societies already' known bythe names en
umerated, but to societies of the same kind, and


directed to the same objects, by whatever varying appellations
they may be dist inguished. Of this kind are those where thereexists an unlawful and wicked e


ngagement of mutual fidelity and
secrecy, such as we have seen so much prevail. It shall apply to
those where the same illegal bond prevails, which unhappily has-
been found to have so great an influence on the weak and igno-.
rant minds of the deluded people ; where is practised that
mysterious secrecy in the appointment of the members and thecommittees, the president, secretaries, and the whole manage-ment of the affairs of the society. All those


associations, where-such practices exist, shall be declared unlawful. I need not he-sitate to propose to a
ccompany this provision with one which is


necessary to its effect. This is to subject the masters of those
houses where such meetings assemble, whether public or


private,to a fine. Persons who have been members, and withdrawing
themselves before a given day, to be exempted from the operation.
of the law. These regulations;


in themselves so perfectly freefrom the imputation of severity, will, I hope, be sufficient to se-
cure the objects we have in view. Such will be first branch o


fthe second measure which I feel it my duty to propose.
The next part of the bill would be intended to remedy an evilof inferior i


mportance, one which in a certain degree must fallunder the daily observation of every man who hears me, and
which has formed a part of the plan so incessantly pursued, of
perverting the understanding, depraving the minds, and corrupt-
ing the morals of the people of this country : —I allude to the
Debating Societies, which, conducted as they have been, and
directed to the questions they discuss, tend to


undermine all theprinciples of morality in the minds of those by whom they aref
requented. Some time ago it will be recollected that personspublicly delivered lectures of the most seditious tendency, andwhen these were prohibited by the laws so properly introducedfor


the remedy of such abuses, they assumed the title of historical,.
12


I


1799.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.
7


with little variation, were directed to the same
objects
lectures,


sabnde;bre. Discussions of this nature in the hands by
which they were taken up, and with the audience to whom they
were addressed, were employed to attack all religion, govern-
ment, and society ; and though in the outset they may not so
directly lead to the consequences which it was the object of the
conspirators of this country to attain, they ultimately tend to
prepare the minds of men for those horrors and calamities, which
are the infallible consequences of those principles against which
it is our duty to provide. To prevent such dangerous abuses, it
will be a part of the proposed measure to extend the provisions
against seditious lectures and political discussions, to all places
Where money is taken at the door, making this the criterion, and
putting them upon the footing of disorderly houses, unless where
a license has been previously taken out, and where they are sub-
ject to the inspection of the magistrate. By this regulation I
conceive no innocent pursuit or amusement will be obstructed,
nod the public will be protected from an evil, of a danger far
beyond the importance of those from whom it proceeds.


The provisions which I shall have the honour to propose, will
likewise be directed against another part of that plan, pursued
with no less industry to poison the minds of the ignorant and un,
wary. It has been the proud and. distinguishing principle of the
law of England, that the liberty of the press has been cherished
as the most, invaluable bulwark of liberty. It certainly is one
from which, when not abused, the greatest advantages might be
derived, but when abused and perverted, it has led to the greatest
mischiefs. It has, therefore, been the object of the law of this
country, without imposing any previous restraint, to secure a
subsequent responsibility in the author and publisher, if they
should be guilty of private libels or public treason. Those pub-
lications of a higher order, under the laws of the countr y, and the
prevalent spirit of loyalty in the people, are tolerably sure of
being subjected to punishment for their libels, at least those of a
more flagrant nature. Happily those libels, formerly so preva-
lent, are, owing to these causes, more restrained. Unfortunately,
however, we have seen the liberty of the press abused in a way




78 MR. PITT'S
[APRIL 19.


most calculated to pervert and mislead the lower orders.
Instead of being employed to communicate knowledge and
instruction, it has been perverted to give false and imperfect
representations of facts, and inadequate or improper discussions
of subjects in nowise adapted to those to whom they were ad-
dressed, and fitted to produce the greatest mischief to those
who are the immediate objects, and ultimately to the public
itself. Hence has been prosecuted to such an extent the plan
of disseminating hand-bills, tending to poison the minds of the
people, to deprave their morals, to pervert their loyalty, and to
undermine their religion. Against this species of mischief some
new provisions are necessary, the object of which will be always
to have responsible the author or publisher. This regulation is
strictly in the spirit of the constitution. If in its application it
is new, it is because the evil is likewise new, while the remedy-
is so unexceptionable in its nature, that it must be approved by
all who value public morals and public tranquillity.,


A provision, the object of which is so legitimate, cannot be
felt as a-restraint by those who are engaged in the regular trade
connected with the press. What is required, is to have the name
of a publisher affixed to every hand-bill, as in every other. spe-
cies of publication. To prevent their being issued from private
presses, it will be necessary to obtain some knowledge of those
who may have such implements in their possession. To obtain
this, it is proposed to have a register kept at those places where
types are fabricated, (which are not very numerous, ) to discover
who acquire them, to make those who now have presses register
them, and make it necessary for every publication circulated to
bear the name of the publisher affixed to it. This regulation, I
am sure, will not injure the cause of science, literature, and im-
provement, or even interfere with any innocent amusement,
while it twill secure the public against the circulation of anony-
mous treason, sedition, or impiety, by which, in the quarters
most exposed, the pillars of morality, religion, and government
are attacked.


Such is the third object of the measure which I shall propose.
The report of the committee will remain for further consider-


1799.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 79


ation, and it will be for the House to consider whether the nature
of the dangers to which we are exposed, demands any fresh
precautions. The circumstances of the times require a vigil-
ance always ready to accommodate our measures of security to
the degree of malignity which danger may assume, and to vary
their remedies with the changing character of the evil by which
we are threatened. Fortunate shall we be if the wise, moderate,
and salutary provisions already adopted or proposed, shall prove
adequate to the inveteracy of the disease, the virulence of which
neither detection nor punishment, isor a sense of the blessings


we enjoy, nor of the horrible calamities with which the princi-
ples of jacobinism have desolated Europe, has been able to
abate. In spite of every discouragement and every obstacle,
treason has pursued its purposes. Happily, this country has
been shielded from the calamities of French principles and
French treason's, by the well-tempered vigour of its government,
and the prevalent active loyalty of its people. Yet, against all
this opposition conspiracy has struggled. Vigilance and energy
are still requisite to secure the blessings so firmly maintained.
Upon every occasion it has been the honourable character of
parliament to have exerted a vigour limited to the necessity of
the case. It has kept up to the urgency of the danger, and
never overstepped the bounds of moderation. Preserving the
liberties of the country sacred and unimpaired, it has displayed
an energy proportioned to the magnitude of the crisis; and,
guided by the same principles, I trust it will continue to pursue
that course which has secured the constitution, the liberties,
the prosperity, and the happiness of this country. I shall now
move, Sir, " That it is the opinion of this committee, that a
bill be brought in to renew and amend the bill passed in the
thirty-eighth of His present Majesty, for securing and detain-
ing persons accused of treason and sedition ; and that a
bill be brought in to suppress seditious societies and seditious
practices."


The resolutions were passed without a division.


yin




81
vIR. PITT'S
[JUNE 7.


June 7. 1799.
THE House having resolved itself into a Committee of Supply,


Majesty's message, which had been referred to the committee the pre-
ceding day, acquainting the House with the engagements entered into
between His Majesty and the Emperor of Russia, was read.


Mr. PITT then rose, and in a short speech moved, " That the sum of
825,000i. be granted to His Majesty, to enable His Majesty to fulfil his
engagements with Russia in such a manner as may be best adapted to
the exigencies of the case."


Mr. Tierney opposed the motion on the ground of its object being
undefined. He called upon ministers to declare what was the common
cause they talked of, and what was meant by the deliverance of Europe ;
asserting, that he would not vote any sums for a purpose which he did
not understand, and in aid of a power whose object he did not know,
,
.%hich might be appropriated to her own views exclusively, and to the
injury instead of the welfare of England.


Mr. PITT. - I wish, Sir, to offer such an explanation on
some of the topics dwelt upon by the honourable gentleman* who
has just sat down, as will, I think, satisfy the committee and the.
honourable gentleman. The nature of the engagement to which
the message would pledge the House is simply, that, fat, for the
purpose of setting the Russian army in motion, we shall advance
to that country 225,0007. part of which, by instalments, to ac-
company the subsidy to be paid when the army is in actual ser-
vice. And I believe no one, who has been the least attentive
to the progress of affairs in the world, who can appreciate worth,
and admire superior zeal and activity, will doubt the sincerity
of the sovereign of Russia, or make a question of his integrity
in any compact. The zd head of distribution is 75,0001. per
month, to be paid at the expiration of every succeeding month
of service ; and, lastly, a subsidy of 37,5001. to be paid after
the war, on the conclusion of a peace by common consent.
Now, I think it strange that the honourable gentleman should
charge us with want of prudence, while it cannot be unknown to
him that the principal subsidies are not to be paid until the ser,


Mr. Tierney,


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.
1799,]
vice has been performed, and that in one remarkable instance
the present subsidy differs from every other, in as much as a
part of it is not to be paid until after the conclusion of a peace
by common consent. I think gentlemen would act more con
sistently, if they would openly give their opposition on the prin-
ciple that they cannot support the war under any circumstances
of the country and of Europe, than in this equivocal and cold
manner to embarrass our deliberations, and ,throw obstacles in
the way of all vigorous co-operation. There is no reason, no
ground to fear that that magnanimous prince will act with infi-
delity, in a cause in which he is so sincerely engaged, and which
he knows to be the cause of all good government, of religion
and humanity, against a monstrous medley of tyranny, injustice,
vanity, irreligion, ignorance, and folly. Of such an ally there
can be no reason to be jealous ; and least of all have the honour-
able gentlemen opposite me grounds of jealousy, considering the
nature and circumstances of our engagements with that monarch.
As to the sum itself, I think no man can find fault with it. In fact,
it is comparatively small. We take into our pay 45,000 of the
troops of Russia, and I believe, if any gentleman will look to all
former subsidies, the result will be, that never was so large a
body of men subsidised for so small a sum. This fact cannot
considered without feeling that this magnanimous and powerful
prince has undertaken to supply at a very trifling expense a
most essential force, and that for the deliverance of Europe. I
still must use this phrase, notwithstanding the sneers of the
honourable gentleman. Does it not promise the deliverance of
Europe, when we find the armies of our allies rapidl y advancing
in a career of victory at once the most brilliant and auspicious
that perhaps ever signalised the exertions of any combination?
Will it be regarded with apathy, that that wise and vigorous and
exalted prince has already, by his promptness and decision,
given a turn to the affairs of the continent? Is the House to be
called upon to refuse succours to our ally, who, by his prowess
and. the bravery of his arms, has attracted so much of the atten-
tion and admiration of Europe ?


VOL.


80




82 AIR. PITT'S
[JuN.E


The honourable gentleman says he wishes for peace, and that
he approved more of what I said on this subject towards the
close of my speech, than of the opening. Now what I said was,
that if by powerfully seconding the efforts of our allies, we could
only look for peace with any prospect of realising our hopes,
whatever would enable us to do so promptly and effectually
would be true economy. I must, indeed, be much misunder-
stood, if generally it was not perceived that I meant, that whe-
ther the period which is to carry us to-peace be shorter or longer,
what we have to look to is not so much when we make peace, as
whether we shall derive from it complete and solid security;
and that whatever other nations may do, whether they shall per-
severe in the contest, or untimely abandon it, we have to look
to ourselves for the means of defence, we are to look to the
means to secure our constitution, preserve our character, and
maintain our independence, in the virtue and perseverance of
the people. There is a high-spirited pride, an elevated loyalty,
a generous warmth of heart, a nobleness of spirit, a hearty,
manly gaiety, which distinguish our nation, in which we are to
look for the best pledges of general safety, and of that security
against an aggressing usurpation, which other nations in their
weakness or in their folly have yet no where found. With re-
spect to that which appears so much to embarrass certain gen-
tlemen—the deliverance of Europe—I will not say particularly
what it is. Whether it is to be its deliverance from that under
which it suffers, or that from which it is in danger ; whether
from the infection of fa/se principles, the corroding cares of


a
period of distraction and dismay, or that dissolution of all govern-
ments, and that death of religion and social order which are
to signalise the triumph of the French republic, if unfortu,
nately for mankind she should, in spite of


all opposition, pre-
vail in the contest ;— from whichsoever of these Europe is to be
delivered, it will not be difficult to prove, that what she suffers,
and what is her danger, are the power and existence of the
French government. If any man says that the government is not
a tyranny, he miserably mistakes the character


of that body. It


1799.] PA ELI A.MENTARY SPEECHES.


is an insupportable and odious tyranny, holding within its grasp
the lives, the characters, and the fortunes of all who are forced to
own i t s sway, and only holding these that it may at will measure
out of each the portion, which from time to time it sacrifices to
its avarice, its cruelty, and injustice. The French republic is
dyked and fenced round with crime, and owes much of its pre-
sent security to its being regarded with a horror which appals
men in their approaches to its impious battlements.


The honourable gentleman. says, that he does not know whe-
ther the Emperor of Russia understands what we mean by the
deliverance of Europe. I do not think it proper here to dwell
much at length on this curious doubt: But whatever may be
the meaning which that august personage attaches to our phrase
" the deliverance of Europe," at least he has shown that he
is no stranger to the condition of the world ; that whatever be
the specific object of the contest he has learned rightly to consider
the character of the common enemy, and shows by his public
proceedings that he is determined to take measures of more than
ordinary precaution against the common disturbers of Europe,
and the common Miemy of man. Will the honourable gentle-
man continue in his state of doubt ? Let him look to the conduct
of that prince during what has passed • of the present campaign.
If in such conduct there be not unfolded some solicitude for the
deliverance of Europe from the tyranny of France, I know not,
Sir, in what we are to look for it.


But the honourable gentleman seems to think no alliance
can long be preserved against France. I do not deny that
unfortunately some of the nations of Europe have shamefully
crouched to that power, and receded from the common cause,
at a moment when it was due to their own dignity, to what
they owed to that civilised community of which they are Still
a part, to persevere in the struggle, to reanimate their legions
with that spirit of just detestation and vengeance which sueh
inhumanity and cruelty might so well provoke. I do not say
that the powers of Europe have not acted improperly in many
other instances and Russia in her turn: for, during a period


G2




AIR. PITT'S
C.inNE '7,


of infinite peril to this country, she saw our danger advance
upon us, and four different treaties entered into of offensive
alliance against us without comment, and without a single ex,
pression of its disapprobation. This was the conduct of that
power in former times. The conduct of His present Majesty
raises quite other emotions, and excites altogether a different
interest. His Majesty, since his accession, has unequivocally
declared his attachment to Great Britain; and abandoning those
projects of ambition which formed the occupation of his pre-
decessor, he chose rather to join in the cause of religion and
order against France, than to pursue the plan marked out for
him to humble and destroy a power, which he was taught to
consider as his common enemy. He turned aside from all hos-
tility against the Ottoman Porte, and united his force to the
power of' that prince, the more effectually to check the progress
of the common enemy. Will, then, gentlemen continue to
regard with suspicion the conduct of that prince ? Has he not
sufficiently shown his devotion to the cause in which we are
engaged, by the kind, and number, and value of his sacri-
fices, ultimately to prevail in the struggle against a tyranny
which, in changing our point of vision, we every where find ac-
companied in its desolating progress by degradation, misery, and
nakedness, to the unhappy victims of its power —a tyranny
which has magnified and strengthened its


.powers to do mischief,
in the proportion that the legitimate and venerable fabrics of
civilised and polished society have declined from the meridian of
their glory, and lost the power of doing good—a tyranny which.
strides across the ill-fated domain of France, its foot armed with
the scythe of' oppression and indiscriminate proscription, that
touches only to blight, and rests only to destroy; the reproach
and the curse of the infatuated people who still continue to ac-
knowledge it. When we consider that it is against this monster
the Emperor of Russia has sent down his legions, shall we say
that he is not entitled to our confidence ?


But what is the constitutional state of the question ? It
is 17,}1


competent, undoubtedly, to any gentleman to make the charac-
i6


1799.] PARLIAMENTARY .SPEECHES.


ter of an ally the subject of consideration ; but in this case it is
not to the Emperor of Russia we vote a subsidy, but to His
Majesty. The question, therefore, is, whether His Majesty's
government affix any undue object to the message, whether they
draw any undue,inference from the deliverance of Europe. The
honourable gentleman has told us, that his deliverance of Europe
is the driving of France within her ancient limits—that he is not
indifferent to the restoration of the other states of Europe to in-
dependence, as connected with the independence of this country;
but itis assumed by the honourable gentleman, that we are not
content with wishing to drive France within her ancient limits,
that, on the contrary, we seek to overthrow the government of
France ; and he would make us say, that we never will treat
with it as a republic. Now I neither meant any thing like this,
nor expressed myself so as to lead to such inferences. ' What-
ever I may in the abstract think of the kind of government called
a republic, whatever may be its fitness to the nation where it
prevails, there may be times when it would not be dangerous to
exist in its vicinity. But while the spirit of France remains what
at present it is, its, government despotic, vindictive, unjust, with
a temper untamed, a character unchanged, if its power to do
wrong at all remains, there does not exist any security for this
country or Europe. In my view of security, every object of am-
bition and aggrandisement is abandoned. Our simple object is
security, just security, with a little mixture of indemnification.
These are the legitimate 'objects of war at all times ; and when
we have attained that end, we are in a condition to derive from
peace its beneficent advantages ; but until then, our duty and
our interest require that we should persevere unappalled in the
struggle to which we were provoked. We shall not be satisfied
with a false security. War, with all its evils, is better than a
peace in which there is nothing to be seen but usurpation and
injustice, dwelling with savage delight on the humble, prostrate
condition of some timid suppliant people. It is not to be dis-
sembled, that in the changes and chances to which the fortunes
of individuals, as well as of states, are continually subject, we


c 3


84




r.ItniT
may have the misfortune, and great it would be, of Seeing


our
allies decline the contest. I hope this will not happen. I hope
it is not reserved for us to behold the mortifying spectacle of two
mighty nations abandoning a contest, in which they have sacri-
ficed so much, and made such brilliant progress.


In the application of this principle, I have no doubt but the
honourable gentleman admits the security of the country to bethe l


egitimate object of the contest ; and I must think I am
sufficiently intelligible on this topic. But wishing to be fully
un


derstood, I answer the honourable gentleman when he asks,
Does the right honourable gentleman mean to prosecute the


war until the French republic is overthrown ? Is it his determi-
nation not to treat with France while it continues a republic ?"
—I answer, I do not confine my views to the territorial limitsof France; I co


ntemplate the principles; character, and
conduct


of France; I consider what these are; I see in them the issues
of distraction, of infamy and ruin, to every state in her alliance ;
and therefore I say, that until the aspect of that mighty mass of
iniquity and folly is entirely changed ;— until the character of the
government is totally reversed ;— until, by the common consent
of the g


eneral voice of all men, I can with truth tell pa
rliament,France is no longer terrible for her contempt of the rights of


every other nation —she no longer avows schemes of universal
empire—she has settled into a state whose government can


main-tain those relations in their integrity, in which alone civilised
communities


are to find their security, and from which they are to
derive their distinction and their glory ;—until in the situation of
France we have exhibited to us those features of a wise, a just,
and a liberal policy, I cannot treat with her. The time to come
to the discussion of a peace can only be the time when you can
look with confidence to an h onourable issue ; to such a peace as
shall at once restore to Europe her settled and balanced


consti-tution of general polity, and to every n egotiating power in par-
ticular, that weight in the scale of general empire which has


everbeen found the best guarantee and pledge of local independenceand general security. Such are my
sentiments. I am net


1799.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


87


afraid to avow them. I commit them to the thinking part of
and if they have not been poisoned by the stream of


mF:ennkci lii
d ;


sophistry, and prejudiced by her falsehood, I am sure
they will approve of the determination I have avowed, for those
grave and mature reasons on which I found it. I earnestly pray
that all the powers engaged in the contest may thinleas I do, and
particularly the Emperor of Russia, which, indeed, I do not
doubt ; and therefore I do contend, that with that power it is fit
that the House should enter into the engagement recommended
in His Majesty's message.


Mr. Tierney, in reply, commented on the last speech of the Chancel-
lor of the Exchequer, and contended that the explanation he had given
made it clear, that it was not merely against the power of France we


were struggling, but against her system ; —not merely to repel her within
her ancient limits, but to drive her back from her present to her ancienj,
opinions; — in fact, to prosecute the war until the existing government
of France should be overthrown. Upon which grounds he should re-
fuse voting any subsidy for foreign service.


Mr. PITT once more


Sir, I cannot agree to the interpretation the honourable gen-
tleman has thought proper to give to parts of my speech. He
has supposed that I said, we persevere in the war, and increase
our activity, and extend our alliances, to impose a government
on another country, and to restore monarchy to France. I never
once uttered any such intention. What I said was, and the
House must be in the recollection of it, that the France which
now exists, affords no promise of security against aggression and
injustice in peace, and is destitute of all justice and integrity in
war. I observed also, and I think the honourable gentleman
must agree with me when I repeat it, that the character and
conduct of that government must enter into the calculation of
security to other governments against wrong, and for the due
and liberal observance of political engagements. The honour-
able gentleman says, that he has too much good sense, and that
every man must have too much good sense, to suppose that ter-
ritorial limits can, of themselves,. be made to constitute the


G


86
MR. PITT'S




MR. PITT'S
[JUNE


security estates. He does well to add his sanction to a doctrine
that is as old as political society itself. In the civilised and regular
community, states find their mutual security against wrong, not
in territory only, they have the guarantee of fleets, of armies,
of acknowledged integrity, and tried good faith ; it is to be
judged of by the character, the talents, and the virtues of the
men who guide the councils of states, who arc the advisers of
princes : but what is it in the situation of the French republic,
On which can be founded a confidence which is to be in itself
some proof that she can afford security against wrong ? She has
territory, she has the remains of a navy, she has armies ; but
what is her character as a moral being ? who is there to testify
her integrity ? The Swiss nation! — Who bears testimony to her


nut
good faith ? The states she has plundered, under the delusive


captivating masks of deliverers from tyranny! — What is the
character of her advisers ? what the aspect of her councils
They are the authors of all that misery, the fountain-head of all
those calamities, which, marching by the side of an unblushing
tyranny, have saddened and obscured the fairest and the gayest
portions of Europe, which have deformed the face of nature
wherever their pestiferous genius has acquired an ascendency.
In fine, we are to look for security from a government which is
constantly making professions of different kinds of sentiments,
and is constantly receding from every thing it professes; —a
government that has professed, and in its general conduct still
manifests, enmity to every institution and state in Europe,


andparticularly to this country, the best regulated in its govern-
ment, the happiest in itself, of all the empires that form that
great comm unity.


Having said thus much on those matters, I shall now shortly
notice a continued confusion in the honourable gentleman's
ideas. On another occasion he could not understand what I.
Meant by the tkiiverance of Europe ; and in this second effort
Of his inquisitive Mind he is not more happy. He tells us, hecannot see .any thing in the present principles of France but WOO
abstract metaphysical dogmas. What are those principles which


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 89


1 .3d the arms of France in their unprincipled attack
on the


independence of Switzerland, which the honourable gentleman
has reprobated ? Was the degradation, without trial, of the
members of the assemblies of France were, in short, those
excesses


, and that wickedness, in the contemplation of which the
honourable gentleman says he first learned to regard France as an
odious tyranny — will he class the principles which could lead
to all these things with the mere metaphysical obstructions of
heated, over-zealous theorists ? He will still persist, at least he
has given the promise of considerable resistance to all arguments
to the contrary, in saying that we have an intention to wage war
against opinion. It is not so. We are not in arms against the
opinions of the closet, nor the speculations of the school. We
are at war with armed opinions ; we are at war with those opi-
nions which the sword of audacious, unprincipled, and impious
innovation seeks to propagate amidst the ruin of empires, the
demolition of the altars of all religion, the destruction of every
venerable, and good, and liberal institution, under whatever form
of polity they have been raised ; and this, in spite of the dis-
senting reason of men, in contempt of that lawful authority
which, in the settled order, superior talents and superior virtues
attain, crying out to them not to enter on holy ground, nor to
pollute the stream of eternal justice;—admonishing them of their
danger, whilst, like the genius of evil, they mimic their voice,
and, having succeeded in drawing upon them the ridicule of the
-vulgar, close their day of wickedness and savage triumph with
the massacre and waste of whatever is amiable, learned, and


Pious, in the districts they have overrun. Whilst the prin-
ciples avowed by France, and acted upon so wildly, held their
legitimate place, confined to the circles of a few ingenious and
learned men ; — whilst these men continued to occupy those
heights which vulgar minds could not mount ;— whilst they con-
tented themselves with abstract enquiries concerning the laws of
matter or time progress of mind, it was pleasing to regard them
with respect ; for while the simplicity of the man of geniue
is preserved untouched, if we will not pay homage to




*it
90


[Jut*: 7,
eccentricity, there is at least much in it to be admired. Whilst
these principles were confined in that way, and had not yet
bounded over the common sense and reason of mankind, we saw
nothing in them to alarm, nothing to terrify ; but their appear-
ance in arms changed their character. We will not leave the
monster to prowl the world unopposed. He must cease to annoy
the abode of peaceful men. If he retire into the cell, whether
of solitude or r


epentance, thither we will not pursue him ; but
we cannot leave him on the throne of power.


I shall now give some farther instances of the confusion of the
honourable gentleman's ideas. He says, that the French repub-
lic and liberty cannot exist together ; therefore as a friend to
liberty, he cannot be a friend to France. Yet he tells us almost
in the same breath, that he will not vote for any thing that does
not tend to secure the liberties of that country, though to give
him the benefit of his own proposition, not to wish the over-
throw of France is not to wish for the preservation of English
liberty. Indeed, he says, he will vote nothing for the purpose
of overthrowing that tyranny, or, as he very strangely adds, the
rights and liberties of others—the rights and liberties of France !
But how will the gentleman maintain his character for con-
sistency, while he will not vote for any measure that seeks to
overthrow the power of a government, in the contemplation of
which he has discovered a gulf in his mind between the ideas
of its existence and the existence of liberty ! It never, however,
entered his mind to say that he made the overthrow of the
French republic the sine quii non.


Here another example arises of that confusion of ideas into
which, contrary to his usual custom, the honourable gentleman
has fallen this evening ; he says be is one of those who think,
that a republic in France is not contrary to the safety of other
countries, and not incongruous to the state of France itself.
How strange is this ! whilst we have it from the honourable gen-
tleman, that liberty and the French republic cannot exist
together. I am ready to say, that if the republican regimen was
characterised by the sobriety of reason, affording nourishment,


1799.3 PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 91


strength, and health to the members of the community ; if the
government was just and unambitious, as wisdom and sound
policy dictate ; if order reigned in her senates, morals in the
private walk of life, and in their public places there were to be
tbund the temples of their God, supported in dignity, and
resorted to with pious awe, and strengthening veneration by the
people, there would be in France the reality of a well• regulated
state, under whatever denomination, but obruit male partum,


male retentuni, male gestum imperium. Whilst republican France
continues what it is, then I make war against republican France;
but if I should see any chance of the return of a government
that did not threaten to endanger the existence of other govern-
ments, far be it from me to breathe hostility to it. I must
first see this change of fortune to France and to Europe make
its progress with rapid and certain steps, before I relax in the
assertion of those rights, which, dearer to Britons than all the
world, because by them better understood and snore fully
enjoyed, arc the common property, the links of union of the
regular governments of Europe. I must regard as an enemy,
and treat as such, a government which is founded on those
principles of universal anarchy and frightful injustice, which,
sometimes awkwardly dissembled, and sometimes insolently
avowed, but always destructive, distinguish it from every other
government of Europe.


The motion passed without a division.


February 3. 1800.
The order of the day being read for taking His Majesty's message into


consideration, Mr. Dundas moved an address to the throne approving
of the answers that had been returned to the late communications from
France, relative to a negotiation for peace.


After Mr. Whitbread and Mr. Erskine had delivered their sentiments
against the address, and Mr. Canning in support of it, Mr. PITT rose,
and spoke as follows:


Sir, I am induced, at this period of the debate, to offer my
sentiments to the House, both from an apprehension that, at a


MR. PITT'S




EFEB.


later hour, the attention of the House much necessarily be
exhausted, and because the sentiment with which the honourable
and learned gentleman '^ began his speech, and with which he has
thought proper to conclude it, places the question precisely on
that ground on which I am most desirous of discussing it. The
learned gentleman seems to assume, as the foundation of his
reasoning, and as the great argument for immediate treaty, that
every effort to overturn the system of the French revolution must
be unavailing ; and that it would be not only imprudent, but
almost impious, to struggle longer against that order of things,
which, on I know not what principle of p redestination, he appearsto consider as i


mmortal. Little as I am inclined to accede to
this opinion, lam not sorry that the honourable gentleman has con-
templated the subject in this serious view. I do, indeed, consider
the French revolution as the severest trial which the visitation of
Providence has ever yet inflicted upon the nations of the earth ;
but I cannot help reflecting, with satisfaction, that this country,
even under such a trial, has not only been exempted from those
calamities which have covered almost every other part of Europe,
but appears to have been reserved as a refuge and asylum to those
who fled from its persecution, as a barrier to oppose its progress,
and, perhaps, ultimately as an instrument to deliver the world
from the crimes and miseries which have attended it.


Under this impression, I trust, the House will forgive me, if I
endeavour, as far as I am able, to take a large and


comprehensive
view of this important question. In doing so, I agree with my
honourable friend, that it would, in any case, be i mpossible to
separate the present discussion from the former crimes and atroci-
ties of the French r


evolution; because both the papers now on the
table, and the whole of the learned gentleman's argument, force
upon our consideration the origin of the war, and all the material
facts which have occurred during its continuance. The learned
gentleman has revived and retailed all those arguments from his
own pamphlet, which had before passed through thirty-seven or
thirty-eight editions in print ; and now ,


2-ives them to the House
* Mr. Erskine.


I300.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. . 93


embellished by the graces of his personal . delivery. The First
Consul has also thought fit to revive and retail the chief argu-
ments used by all the opposition speakers, and all the opposition'
publishers, in this country during the last seven years. And
(what is still more material) the question itself, which is now
immediately at issue — the question, whether, under the present
circumstances, there is such a prospect of security from any
treaty with France as ought to induce us to negotiate, cannot be
properly decided upon, without retracing, both from our own
experience, and from that of other nations, the nature, the causes,
and the magnitude of the danger against which we have to guard,
in order to judge of the security which we ought to accept.


I say, then, that before any man can concur in opinion with
that learned gentleman ; before any man can think that the
substance of His Majesty's answer is any other than the safety of
the country required ; before any man-can be of opinion, that to
the overtures made by the enemy, at such a time, and under such
circumstances, it would have been safe to have returned an an,
swer concurring in the negotiation—he must come within one
of the three following descriptions : He must either believe, that
the French revolution neither does now exhibit, nor has at any
time exhibited, such circumstances of danger, arising out of the
very nature of the system and the internal state and condition of
France, as to leave to foreign powers no adequate ground of
security in negotiation ; or, secondly, he must be of opinion, that
the change which has recently taken place, has given that secu-
rity, which, in the former stages of the revolution, was wanting ;
or' thirdly, he must be one who, believing that the danger
existed, not undervaluing its extent, nor mistaking its nature,
nevertheless thinks, from his view of the present pressure on
the country, from his view of its situation and its prospects,
compared with the situation and prospects of its enemies, that
we are, with our eyes open, bound to accept of inadequate
security for every thing that is valuable and sacred, rather than
endure the pressure, or incur the risk, which would result from
a farther prolongation of the contest.


92
MR. PITT'S




94 MR. PITT'S
[FEn. 3.


In discussing the last of these questions, we shall be led to
consider, what inference is to be drawn from the circumstances
and the result of our own negotiations in former periods of the
war ;— whether, in the comparative state of this country and
France, we now see the same reason for repeating our then
unsuccessful experiments ; — or whether we have not thence
derived the lessons of experience, added to the deductions of
reason, marking the inefficacy and danger of the very measures
which are quoted to us as precedents for our adoption.


Unwilling, Sir, as I am, to go into much detail on ground
which has been so often trodden before ; yet, when I find the
learned gentleman, after all the information which he must have
received, if he has read any of the answers to his work, (however
ignorant he might be when he wrote it,) still giving the sanction
of his authority to the supposition, that the order to M. Chauve-
lin to depart from this kingdom was the cause of the war between
this country and France, I do feel it necessary to say a few words
on that part of the subject.


-Inaccuracy in dates seems to be a sort of fatality common to
all who have written on that side of the question ; for even the
writer of the note to His Majesty is not more correct in this
respect, than if he had taken his information only from the
pamphlet of the learned-gentleman. The House will recollect the
first professions of the French republic, which are enumerated,
and enumerated truly, in that note— they are tests of every thing
which would best recommend a government to the esteem and
confidence of foreign powers, and the reverse of every thing which
has been the system and practice of France now for near ten years.
It is there stated, that their first principles were love of peace,
aversion to conquest, and respect for the independence of other
countries. In the same note, it seems indeed admitted, that they
since have violated all those principles ; but it is alleged that they
have done so, only in consequence of the provocation of other
powers. One of the first of those provocations is stated to have
consisted in the various outrages offered to their ministers, of
which the example is said to have been set by the King of Great


I SOO.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 9.5


Britain in his conduct to M. Chauvelin. In answer to this sup-
position, it is only necessary to remark, that before the example
was given, before Austria and Prussia are supposed to have been
thus encouraged to combine in a plan for the partition of France ;-
that plan, if it ever existed at all, had existed and been acted
upon for above eight months : France and Prussia had been at
war eight months before the dismissal of M. Chauvelin. So much
for the accuracy of the statement.


[Mr. Erskine here observed that this was not the statement of
his argument.]


I have been hitherto commenting on the arguments contained
in the notes : I come now to those of the learned gentleman. I
understand him to say, that the dismissal of M. Chauvelin was the
real cause, I do not say of the general war, but of the rupture
between France and England; and the learned gentleman states,
particularly, that this dismissal rendered all discussion of the points
in dispute impossible. Now I desire to meet distinctly every part
of this assertion : I maintain, on the contrary, that an opportunity
was given for discussing every matter in dispute between France
and Great Britain, as fully as if a regular and accredited French
minister had been resident here; —that the causes of war which
existed at the beginning, or arose during the course of this dis-
cussion, were such as would have justified, twenty times over, a
declaration of war on the part of this country ; that all the
explanations on the part of France were evidently unsatisfactory
and inadmissible ; and that M. Chauvelin had given in a peremp-
tory ultimatum, declaring, that if these explanations were not
received as sufficient, and if we did not immediately disarm, our
refusal would be considered as a declaration of war.


After this followed that scene which no man can even now
speak - of without horror, or think of without indignation ; that
murder and regicide from which I was sorry to hear the
learned gentleman date the beginning of the legal government
of France.


Having thus given in their ultimatum, they added, as a further
demand (while Ivc were smarting under accumulated injuries,




1J.


96 MR. PITT'S
[Fen. 3,


for which all satisfaction was denied), that we should instantly
receive M. Chauvelin as their ambassador, with new credentials,
representing them in the character which they had just derived
from the murder of their sovereign. We replied, " he came
here as the representative of a sovereign whom you have put to
a cruel and illegal death ; we have no satisfaction for the injuries
we have received, no security from the danger with which we
are threatened. Under these circumstances we will not receive
your new credentials ; the former credentials you have yourselves
recalled by the sacrifice of your king."


What, from that moment, was the situation of M. Chauvelin ?
He was reduced to the situation of a private individual, and was
required to quit the kingdom, under the provisions of the Alien
Act, which, for the purpose of securing domestic tranquillity, had
recently invested His Majesty with the power of removing out of
this kingdom all foreigners suspected of revolutionary principles.
Is-it contended that he was, then, less liable to the provisions of
that act than any other individual foreigner, whose conduct
afforded to government just ground of objection or suspicion ?
Did his conduct and connections here afford no such ground ? or
will it be pretended that the bare act of refusing to receive fresh
credentials from an infant republic, not then acknowleged by any
one power of Europe, and in .the very act of heaping upon us in-
juries and insults, was of itself a cause of war? So far from it, that
even the very nations of Europe, whose wisdom and moderation
have been repeatedly extolled for maintaining neutrality, and pre-
serving friendship, with the French republic, remained for years
subsequent to this period, without receiving from it any accredited
minister, or doing any one act to acknowlege its political exist-
ence. In answer to a representation from the belligerent powers,
in December, 1793, Count Bernstorff, the minister of Denmark,
officially declared, that " It was well known, that the national
convention had appointed M. Grouville minister-plenipotentiary
at Denmark, but that it was also well known, that he had neither
been received nor acknowlegcd in that quality." And as late as
Februar y , 1796, when the same minister was at length, for the


1800.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


first time, received in his official capacity, Count Bernstorff, in a
public note, assigned this reason for that change of' conduct
g ‘ So long as no other than a revolutionary government existed in
France, His Majesty could not acknowledge the minister of that
government; but new that the French constitution is completely
organised, and a regular government established in France, His
Majesty's obligation ceases in that respect, and M. Grouville will
therefore be acknowleged in the usual form." How far the
court of Denmark was justified in the opinion, that a revolutionary
government then no longer existed in France, it is not now
necessary to enquire ; but whatever may have been the fact, in.
that respect, the principle on which they acted is clear and
intelligible, and is a decisive instance in. favour!of:the-proposition
which I have maintained. .


Is it then necessary to examine what .were the terms of that •
ultimatum, with which we refused to comply? Acts of' hostility
had been openly threatened against our alliesom hostility founded
upon the assumption of a right which would at once supersede
the whole law of nations :—a demand was made by:France upon
Holland, to open the navigation. of the Scheldt, on the ground of
a general and national right, in violation_of positive treaty ; this
claim we discussed, at the time, not so much on account of its
immediate importance (though it was important both in a mari-
time and commercial view ), as on account of the general principle
on which it was founded. Onthe same arbitrary notion they
soon afterwards discovered that sacred . lawof nature, which made
the Rhine and the Alps the legitimate boundaries of France, and
assumed the power which they have affeeteAM exercise through
th e Whole of the Revolu tion, of superseding, by a new code of their
own, all the recognised principles of the law of nations. They
were actually advancing towards the republic of Holland, by
rapid strides, after the victory of Jemappe, and they'had ordered
their generals to pursue the Austrian troops into any neutral
country ; thereby explicitly avowing an intention of invading
Holland. They had already shown their moderation and self::
denial, by incorporating Belgium with the French republic.


VOL. III.




98 MR. PITT'S
[FEB. 3.


These lovers of peace, who set out with a sworn aversion to con-
quest, and professions of respect for the independence of other
nations ; who pretend that they departed from this system, only
in consequence of your aggression, themselves in time of peace
while you were still confessedly neutral, without the pretence or
shadow of provocation, wrested Savoy from the King of Sardinia,
and had proceeded to incorporate it likewise with France. These
were their aggressions at this period ; and more than these. They
had issued an universal declaration of war against all the thrones of
Europe; and they had, by their conduct, applied it particularly
and specifically to you ; they had passed the decree of the 19th of
November, 1792, proclaiming the promise ofFrench succour to all
nations who should manifest a wish to become free : they had, by
all their language, as well as their example, shown what they un-
derstood to be freedom : they had sealed their principles by the
deposition of their sovereign : they had applied them to England,
by inviting and encouraging the addresses of those seditious and
traitorous societies, who, from the beginning, favoured their views,
and who, encouraged by your forbearance, were even then pub-
licly avowing French doctrines, and anticipating their success in
this country ; who were hailing the progress of those proceedings
in France, which led to the murder of its King : they were even
then looking to the clay when they should behold a national con-
vention in England, formed upon similar principles.


And what were the explanations they offered on these different
grounds of offence ? As to Holland; they contented themselves
with telling us, that the Scheldt was too insignificant for us to
trouble ourselves about, and therefore it was to be decided as they
chose, in breach of a positive treaty, which they had themselves
guaranteed, and which we, by our alliance, were bound to sup-
port. If, however, after the war was over, Belgium should have
consolidated its liberty, (a term of which we now know the mean-
ing, from the fate of every nation into which the arms of France
have penetrated,) then Belgium and Holland might, if they
pleased, settle the question of the Scheldt, by separate negotiation
between themselves. With respect to aggrandisement, they is,


ISM] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 99


sured us, that they would retain possession of Belgium by arms
no longer than they should find it necessary, for the purpose
already stated, of consolidating its liberty. And with respect
to the decree of the 19th of November, applied as it was point-
edly to you, by all the intercourse I have stated with all the sedi-
tious and traitorous part of this country, and particularly by the
speeches of every leading man among them, they contented them,
selves with asserting, that the declaration conveyed no such
meaning as was imputed to it, and that so far from encouraging
sedition, it could apply only to countries where a great majority
of the people should have already declared itself in favour of a
revolution ; a supposition which, as they asserted, necessarily
implied a total absence of all sedition. .


What would have been the effect of admitting this explanation?
To suffer a nation, and an armed nation, to preach to the inha-


bitants of all the countries in the world, that themselves were
slaves, and their rulers tyrants : to encourage and invite them to
revolution, by a previous promise of French support.; to what,
ever might call itself a majority, or to whatever France might
declare to be so. This was their explanation ; and this they told
you, was their ultimatum.


But was this all ? Even at that very moment, when they were
endeavouring to induce you to admit these explanations, to be
contented with the avowal, that France .offered herself as a
general guarantee for every successful revolution, and would
interfere only to sanction and confirm whatever the free and
>uninfluenced choice of the people might have decided, what
were their orders to their generals on the same subject? In the
midst of these amicable explanations with you, came forth a
decree, which I really believe must be effaced from the minds of
gentlemen opposite to me, if they can prevail upon,themselves
for a moment to hint even a doubt .upon the origin of this quar-
rel, not only as to.this country, but as to all the nations.of Europe
with whom France has been subsequently engaged in liostility..
I speak of the decree of the 15th of December. This decree,
more even than all the previous transactions, amounted to an




lkX) MR. PITT'S
[PPE. B.


universal declaration of war against all thrones, and against all ci-
vilized governments. It said, wherever the armies of France shall
come (whether within countries then at war or at peace is not
distinguished), in all those countries it shall be the first care of
their generals to introduce the principles and ,the practice of the
French revolution ; to demolish all privileged•orders, and every.
thing which obstructs the establishment of their new system.


If any doubt is entertained, whither the armies of .France were
intended to come ; if it is -contended that they referred only to
those nations with whom they were then at war, or with whom,
in the course of this contest, they might lie driven into war; Jet
it. be remembered, that,- at this very moment, they had actually.
given orders to their generals to pursue the Austrian army from
the Netherlands into Holland, with whom they were at that time
in peace. Or, even if' the construction contended for is admitted,
let us see what would have been its application ; let us look at
the list of their aggressions, which was read by my right honour-
able friend* near me. With whom have they been at war since
the period of this declaration? With all the nations of Europe
save two and if not-with those two, it is only because, with
every provocation that could justify defensive war, those coun-
tries have hitherto acquiesced in repeated violations of their
rights, rather than recur to war for their-vindication. Wherever
their arms have been carried, it will be a matter of short subse-
quent enquiry to tracewhether they have faithfully applied these
principles. If in terms, this decree is a declaration of war
against all governments ; if in practice, it has been applied
against every one with which France has come into contact ;
what is it but the deliberate code of the French revolution, from
the birth of the republic, which has never once been departed
from, which has been enforced with unremitted rigour against
all the nations that have come into their power ?


If there could otherwise he any doubt whether the application
of this decree was intended to be universal, whether it applied to
all nations, and to England particularly; there is one cireum-


* Mr. Dundas.
j' Sweden and Denmark.


1800.1 PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


istance which alone would be decisive — that nearly at the san-IT
period it was proposed, in the national convention*, to declare
expressly, that the decree of the nineteenth of November was:
confined to the nations with whom they were then at war ; and
that proposal was rejected by a- great majority of that very con-
vention from whom we were desired to receive these explanations
as satisfactory.


Such, Sir, was the nature of the system. Let us examine a
little finther, whether it was from the beginning intended to be
acted upon, in the extent which I have stated. At the very
moment when their threats appeared to many little else than the
ravings of madmen, they were digesting and meth odi zing th e means
of execution, as accurately as if they had actually foreseen the
extent to which they have since been able to realise their crimi-
nal projects ; theysat down coolly to devise the most regular and
effectual mode of making the application of this system the cur-
rent business of the day, and incorporating it with the general
orders of their army ; for (will the House believe it ?) this con-
firmation of the decree of the nineteenth of November was accom-
panied by an exposition and commentary addressed to the general
of every army of France, containing a schedule as coolly con-
ceived, and as methodically reduced, as any by which the most
quiet business of a justice of peace, or the most regular routine of
any department of state in this country could be conducted. Each
commander was furnished with one general blank formula of a
letter for all the nations of the world! The people of France to
the people of greeting : " We are come to expel your
tyrants." Even this was not all ; one of the articles of the decree
of the fifteenth of December was expressly, " that those who
should show themselves so brutish and so enamoured of their
chains as to refuse the restoration of their rights, to renounce
liberty and equality, or to preserve, recal, or treat with their
Prince -or privileged orders, were not entitled to the distinction
which France, in other cases, had justly established between
government and people; and that such a people ought to be treated.


On a motion of M. Baraillon.
It 3




It


Og
MR. PITT'S


[Fan. g
according to the rigour of war, and of conquest,"" Here is their
love of peace ; here is their aversion to conquest ; here is their
respect for the independence of other nations !


It was then, after receiving such explanations as these, after
receiving the ultimatum of France, and after M. Chauvelin's cre-
dentials had ceased, that he was required to depart. Even after
that period, I am almost ashamed to record it, we did not on our
part shut the door against other attempts to negotiate ; but this
transaction was immediately followed by the declaration of war,
proceeding not from England in vindication of its rights, hut from
France as the completion of the injuries and insults they had
offered. And on a war thus originating, can it be doubted, by an
English House of Commons, whether the aggression was on the
part of this country, or of France ? Or whether the manifest
aggression on the part of France was the result of any thing but
the principles which characterise the French revolution ?


What then are the resources and subterfuges by which those
who agree with the learned gentleman are prevented from sink-
ing under the force of this simple statement of facts ? None but
what are found in the insinuation contained in the note from
France, that this country had, previous to the transactions to
which I have referred, encouraged and supported the combi-
nation of other powers directed against them.


Upon this part of the subject, the proofs which contradict such
an insinuation arc innumerable. In the first place, the evidence
of dates ; in the second place, the admission of all the different
parties in France ; of the friends of Brissot charging on Robe-
spierre the war with this country; and of the friends ofRobespierre
charging it on Brissot ; but both acquitting England; the testi-
monies of the French government during the whole interval, since
the declaration of Filnitz,- and the date assigned to the pretended
treaty of Pavia; the first of which had not the slightest relation to
any project of partition or dismemberment ; the second of which
I firmly believe to be an absolute fabrication and forgery; and in
neither of which, even as they are represented, any reason has


ri Vide Decree of 15th December, 1792‘


1600.J PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


1OS


been assigned for believing that this country had any share. Even
M. Talleyrand himself was sent by the constitutional King of the
French, after the period when that concert, which is now charged,
must have existed, if it existed at all, with a letter from the King
of France, expressly'thanking His Majesty for the neutrality which
he had uniformly observed. The same fact is confirmed by the
concurring evidence of every person who knew any thing of the
plans of the King of Sweden in 1791 ; the only sovereign who, I
believe, at that time meditated any hostile measures against
France, and whose utmost hopes were expressly stated to be, that
England would not oppose his intended expedition ; by all those,
also, who knew any thing of the conduct of the Emperor, or the
King of Prussia; by the clear and decisive testimony of M. Chau-
vclin himself, in his dispatches from hence to 0,0,French govern-
ment, since published by their authority ; DyieY.ety_ thing which
has occurred since the war : by the publications of_Durnourier ;
by the publications of Brissot ; by the facts that have•since come
to light in America, with respect to the mission of M. Ganet ;
which show that hostility against this country was decided on the
part of France long before -the period when M. Chauvelin was
sent from hence. Besides this, the reduction of our peace-esta-
blishment in the year 1791, and continued to the subsequent year,
is a fact from which the inference is indisputable ; a fact which,
I am afraid, shews, not only that we were not waiting for the
occasion of war, but that, in our partiality for a pacific system, we
had indulged ourselves in'a fond and credulous security, which
wisdom and discretion would not have dictated. In addition to
every other proof, it is singular enough, that in a decree, on the
eve of the declaration of war on the part of France, it is express-
ly stated, as for the first time, that England was then departing
from that system of neutrality which she had hitherto observed.


But, Sir, I will not rest merely on these testimonies or argu-
ments, however strong and decisive. I assert distinctly and posit
direly, and I have the documents in my hand to prove it, that from
the middle of the year 1791, upon the first rumour of any mea.
;sure taken by the Emperor of Germany, and till late in the year


II 1




10 MR. PITT'S [Frg. S.
1792, we not only were no parties to any of the projects imputed
to the Emperor, but, from the political cirumstances in which
we then stood with relation to that court, we wholly declined all
communications with him on the subject of France. To Prussia,
with whom we were in connection, and still more decisively to
Holland, with whom we were in close and intimate correspon-
dence, we uniformly stated our unalterable resolution to maintain
neutrality, and avoid interference in the internal affairs of France,
as long as France should refrain from hostile measures against us
and our allies. No minister of England had any authority to
treat with foreign states, even provisionally-, for any warlike con-
i:ert, till after the battle ofJemappe ; till a period subsequent to
the repeated provocations which had been offered to us, and sub-
sequent particularly•to the decree of fraternity of the 19th of No-
vember: eriet7thanoo:ithat object was it that the concert which
WC . wish t6iettablisli- Bias`


be directed ? If we had then rightly
'east ;the (tint ;Charaelei :ne the French re


-volution, I cannot now
deny that we . should r have been better justified- in a very different
conduct. But it is material to the present argument to declare
what that conduct actually was, because it is of itself sufficient to
confute all the pretexts by which the advocates of France have
so long laboured to perplex the question of aggression.


At that period, Russia had at length-conceived, as well as our-
selves, a natural and just alarm for the balance of Europe, and
applied to us to learn our sentiments on the subject. In our answer
to this application, we imparted to Russia the principles upon
which we then acted, and we communicated this answer to Prus-
sia, with whom we were connected in defensive alliance. I will
state shortly the leading part of those principles. A dispatch was
sent from Lord Grenville to His Majesty's minister in Russia,
dated the 29th of December, 1792, stating a desire to have an
explanation set on foot on the subject of the war with Prance.
1 will read the material parts of it.


" The two leading points on which such explanation will natu-
rally turn, are the line of conduct to be followed previous to the
commencement of hostilities, and with a view, if possible, to


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 10.1;


la8v7althem ; and the nature and amount of the forces which the
powers engaged in this concert might be enabled to use, suppo-
sing such extremities unavoidable.


cc With respect to the first, it appears, on the whole, subject
however to future consideration and discussion with the other
powers, that the most advisable step to be taken would be, that
sufficient explanation should be had with the powers at war with
France, in order to enable those, not hitherto engaged in the war
to propose to that country terms of peace. That these terms
should be, the withdrawing their arms within the limits of the
French territory ; the abandoning their conquests ; the rescinding
any acts injurious to the sovereignty or rights elan) , other nations,
and the giving in some public and unequivocal manner a pledge
of their intention no longer to foment troubles, or to excite dis.
turbances against other governments. In return for these stipti
lations, the different powers of Europe, who should'be parties to
this' meaStife;141ight engage td :litiandon all measures, or vieWs'a
hostility against France, or interference in their internal affairs,
and to maintain a correspondence and intercourse of amitY, with
the existing powers in that country, with whom such a treaty may
be concluded. If, on the result of this proposal so made by the
powers acting in concert, these terms should not be accepted by
France, or being accepted, should not be satisfactorily performed,
the different powers might then engage themselves to each other
to enter into active measures, for the purpose of obtaining the ends
in view; and it may be to be considered, whether, in such case,
they mightnotreasonably look to some indemnity for the expenses
and hazards to which they would necessarily be exposed."


The dispatch then proceeded to the second point, that of the
forces to be employed, on which it is unnecessary now to speak.


Now, Sir, I would really ask any person who has been, from
the beginning, the most desirous of avoiding hostilities, whether it
is possible to conceive any measure to be adopted in the situation
in which we then stood, which could more evidently demonstrate
our desire, after repeated provocations, to preserve peace, on any
terms consistent with our safety; or whether any sentiment could




106
MR. PIT r S


VEB. 3.
now be suggested which would have more plainly marked our
moderation, forbearance, and sincerity ? In Saying this, I am not
challenging the applause and approbation of my country, because
I must now confess that we were too slow in anticipating that
danger of which we had, perhaps, even then sufficient experience,
though far short, indeed, of that which we now possess, and that
we might even, then have seen, what facts have since but too in-
contestably proved, that nothing but vigorous and open hostility
can afford complete and adequate security against revolutionary
principles, while they retain a proportion of power sufficient to
furnish the means of war.


I will enlarge no farther on the origin of the war, I have read
and detailed to you a system which was in itself a declaration of
war against all nations, which was so intended, and which has been
so applied, which has been exemplified in the extreme, peril and
hazard of almost all who for a moment have trusted to treaty,
and which has not at this hour overwhelmed Europe in one indis-
criminate mass of ruin, only because we have not indulged, to a
fatal eNtremity, that disposition, which we have however indulged
too far ; because we have not consented to trust to profession
and compromise, rather than to our own valour and exertion, for
security against a system, from which we never shall be deliver-
ed, till either the principle is ex tinguished, or till its strength is
exhausted.


I might, Sir, if I found it necessary, enter into much detail
upon this part of the subject ; but at present I only beg leave to
express my readiness at any time to enter upon it, when


either
my own strength, or the patience of the House will admit of it
but, I say, without distinction, against every nation in Europe,
and against some out of Europe, the principle has been faithfully
applied. You cannot look at the map of Europe, and lay your
hand upon that country against which France has not either de-
clared an open and aggressive war, or violated some positive
treaty, or broken some recognised principle of the law of nations.


This subject may be divided into various periods. There were
sense acts of hostility committed previous to the war with this


1800.]
PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 107


and very little indeed subsequent to that declaration,
abjured the love of conquest. The attack upon the Papal


State, the seizure of Avignon, in-1791, was accompanied by


‘chuai Fa,bybr


a series of the most atrocious crimes and outrages that ever
aced a revolution. Avignon was separated from its lawful


sovereign, with whom not even the pretence of quarrel existed,
and forcibly incorporate d in the tyranny of one and indivisible
France. The same system led, in the same year, to an aggression
against the whole German empire, by the seizure of Porentrui,
part of the dominions of the Bishop of Basle. Afterwards, in
1792, unpreceded by any declaration of war, or any cause of
hostility, and in direct violation of the solemn pledge to abstain
from conquest, an attack was made upon the King of Sardinia, by
the seizure of Savoy, for the purpose of incorporating it, in like
manner, with France. In the same year, they had proceeded to
the declaration of war against Austria, against Prussia, and
against the German empire, in Which they have been justified
only on a ground of rooted hostility, combination, and league
of sovereigns for the dismemberment of France. I say, that
some of the documents, brought to support this pretence, arc
spurious and false ; I say, that even in those that are not so, there
is not one word to prove the charge principally relied upon, that
of an intention to effect the dismemberment of France, or to
impose upon it, by force, any particular constitution. I say,
that as far as we have been able to trace what passed at Pilnitz,
the declaration there signed referred to the imprisonment of
Louis XVI.; its immediate view was to effect his deliverance, if
a concert sufficiently extensive could be formed with other
s:overeigns, for that purpose. It left the internal state of France
to be decided by the King restored to his liberty, with the free
consent of the states of his kingdom, and it did not contain one
word relative to the dismemberment of France.


In the subsequent discussions which took place in 1792, and
which embraced at the same time all the other points of jealousy
which had arisen between the two countries, the declaration of
Pilnitz was referred to, and explained on the part of Austria in a




108 MR. Pars
manner precisely conformable to what I. have now stated ; and the
amicable explanations which took place, both on this subject
and on all the matters in dispute, will be found in the official
correspondence between the two courts, which has been made
public ; and it will he found also, that, as long as the negotiation.
continued to he conducted through M. Delessart, then minister
for foreign affairs, there was a great prospect that those discus-
sions would be amicably terminated; but it is notorious, and has
since been clearly proved, on the authority of Brissot himself,
that the violent party in France considered such an issue of the
negotiation as likely to be fatal to their projects, and thought,
to use his own words, that " war was necessary to consolidate
the Revolution." For the express purpose of producing the war,.
they excited a popular tumult in Paris ; they insisted upon and
obtained -the dismissal-of M. Delessart. t A new minister was . ap-
pointed iii nhiS room, the tone of the negotiation was immediately
Changed, rand an ultimatum was sent to the Emperor r similar to
that which was afterwards sent to this country, affording him no
satisfaction on his just grounds of complaint, and requiring him,
.under those Circumstances, to disarm. The first events of the
contest proved how much more France was prepared for war
than Austria, and afford a strong confirmation of the proposition
which I maintain; that no offensive intention was entertained on
the part of the latter power.


War was then declared against Austria; a war which I state
to be a war of aggression on the part. of France. The King of
Prussia had declared, that he should consider war against the
Emperor or empire, as war against himself. He had declared,
that, as a co-estate of the empire, he was determined to defend
their rights ; that, as an ally of the Emperor, he would support
him to the utmost against any attack ; and that, for the sake of
his own dominions, he felt himself called upon ta resist the pro-
gress of French principles, and to maintain the balance of power
in Europe. With this notice before them, France declared war
upon the Emperor, and the war with Prussia was the necessary
consequence of this aggression, both against the Emperor and
the empire.


MO.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 109


The war against the King of Sardinia follows next. The de-
claration of that war was the seizure of Savoy, by an invading
army ; and on what ground ? On that which has been stated
already. They had found out, by some light of nature, that the
Rhine and the Alps were the-natural limits of France. Upon
that. ground Savoy was seized ; and Savoy was also incorporated
with France.


Here finishes the history of the wars in which France was en-
gaged, antecedent to the war with Great Britain r with Holland,
and with Spain. With respect to Spain, we have seen nothing
in any part of its conduct, which leads us to suspect, that either
attachment-to religion, or the ties of consanguinity, or regard to
the ancient system of Europe, was likely to induce that court to
connect itself in offensive war against France. The war was
evidently and incontestably begun by France against Spain.


The case of Holland is so fresh in every man's recollection, and
so connected with the immediate causes of the war with this
country, that it cannot require one word of observation. What
shall I say then on the case of Portugal? I cannot indeed say,
that France ever declared war against that country ; I can hardly
say even that she ever made war, but she required them to make
a treaty of peace, as if they had been at war ; she obliged them
to purchase that treaty.; she broke it as soon as it was purchased,
and she had originally no other ground of complaint than this, —
that Portugal had performed, though inadequately, the engage-
ment of its ancient defensive alliance with this country, in the
character of an auxiliary ; a conduct which cannot of itself make
any power a principal in -a war.


I have now enumerated all the nations at war at that period,
with the exception only of Naples. It can hardly:be necessary to
call to the recollection of the House, the characteristic feature
of revolutionary principles which was shewn, even at this early
period, in the personal insult offered to the King of Naples by
the . commander of a French squadron, riding uncontrolled in
the Mediterranean, and (while our fleets were yet . unarmed)
threatening destruction to all the coast of Italy.




Ito MR. PITT'S
[Pm 3,


It was not till a considerably later period that almost all the
other nations of Europe found themselves equally involved in
actual hostility : but it is not a little material to the whole of my
argument, compared with the statement of the learned gentleman,
and with that contained in the French note, to examine at what
period this hostility extended itself. It extended itself, in the
course of 1796, to the states of Italy which had hitherto been ex-
empted from it. In 1797, it had ended in the destruction of most
of them; it had ended in the virtual deposition of the King of
Sardinia, it had ended in the conversion of Genoa and Tuscany
into democratic republics ; it had ended in the revolution of
Venice, in the violation of treaties with the new Venetian
republic ; and finally, in transferring that very republic, the
creature and vassal of France, to the dominion of Austria.


I observe from the gestures of some honourable gentlemen, that
they think we are precluded from the use of any argument found-
ed on this last transaction. I already hear them saying, that it
was as criminal in Austria to receive, as it was in France to give.
I aim far from defending or palliating the conduct of Austria upon
this occasion but because Austria, unable at last to contend
with the arms of France, was forced to accept an unjust and in-
sufficient indemnification from the conquests France had made
from it, are we to be debarred from stating what, on the part of
France, was not merely an unjust acquisition, hut an act of the
grossest and most aggravated perfidy and cruelty, and one of the
most striking specimens of that system which has been uniformly
and indiscriminately applied to all the countries which France
has had within its grasp ? This can only be said in vindication
of France (and it is still more a vindication of Austria), that,
practically speaking, if there is any part of this transaction for
which Venice itself has reason to be grateful, it can only be for
the permission to exchange the embraces of French fraternity
for what is called the despotism of Vienna.


Let these facts, and these dates, be compared with what we
have heard. The honourable gentleman has told us, and the
author of the note from France has told us also, that all the French


1800.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 111


conquests were produced by the operations of the allies. It was
when they were pressed on all sides, when their own territory was
in danger, when their own independence was in question, when


the confederacy appeared too strong ; it was then they used the
means with which their power and their courage furnished them ;
and, " attacked upon all sides, they carried every where their
defensive arms." I do not wish to misrepresent the learned
gentleman, but I understood him to speak of this sentiment with
approbation the sentiment itself is this, that if a nation is un-
justly attacked in any one quarter by others, she cannot stop to
consider by whom, but must find means of strength in other
quarters, no matter where ; and is justified in attacking, in her
turn, those with whom she is at peace, and from whom she
has received no species of provocation.


Sir, I hope I have already proved, in a great measure, that no
such attack was made upon France ; but if it was made, I
maintain, that the whole ground on which that argument is
founded cannot be tolerated. In the name of the laws of nature
and nations, in the name of every thing that is sacred and honour-
able, I demur to that plea, and I tell that honourable and learned
gentleman that he would do well to look again into the law of
nations, before he ventures to come to this House to give the
sanction of his authority to so dreadful and execrable a system.


[Mr. Erskine here said across the House, that he had never
maintained such a proposition.]


I certainly understood this to be distinctly the tenour of the
learned gentleman's argument ; but as he tells me he did not use
"it, I take it for granted he did not intend to use it : I rejoice that
he did not : but, at least, then I have a right to expect, that the
learned gentleman should now transfer to the French note some
of the indignation which he has hitherto lavished upon the decla-
rations of this country. This principle, which the learned gentle-
man disclaims, the French note avows : and I contend, without
the fear of contradiction, it is the principle upon which France
has uniformly acted. But while the learned gentleman disclaims


Vide M. naturalist's note,




112 1‘11t. NTT' S
[Eta. 3:1.1.


this proposition, he certainly will admit, that he has himself
asserted, and maintained in the whole course of his argument,
that the pressure of the war upon France, imposed upon her the
necessity of those exertions which produced. most of the enor-
mities of the Revolution, and most of the enormities practised,
against the other countries of Europe. The House will recollect,
that, in the year 1796, when all these horrors. in Italy were.
beginning, which are the strongest illustrations of the general.
character of the French revolution, we had begun that negotia-
tion to which the learned gentleman has referred. England then
possessed numerous conquests ; England, though not having at
that time had the advantage of three of her most splendid victo-
ries, England, even then, appeared undisputed mistress of the sea ;
England, having then engrossed the whole wealth of the colonial
world ; England, having lost nothing of its original possessions ;
England then comes forward, proposing general peace, and offer-
ing — what ? offering the surrender of all that it had acquired, in
order to obtain—what? not the dismemberment, not the partition
of ancient France, but the return of a part of those conquests,
no one of which could be retained, but in direct contradiction to
that original and solemn pledge which is now referred to, as the
proof of the just and moderate disposition of the French republic.
Yet even this offer was not sufficient to procure peace, or to arrest
the progress of France in her defensive operations against other
unoftending countries. From the pages, however, of the learned.
gentleman's pamphlet, ( which, after all its editions, is now fresher
in his memory than in that of any other person in this House, or:
in the country, ) be is furnished with an argument on the result
of the negotiation, on which he appears confidently to rely. He


An,aintains, that the single point on which the negotiation was
broken off, was the question of the possession of the Austrian
Netherlands ; and that it is, therefore, on that ground only, that
the war has, since that time, been 'continued. .When this sub-
ject was before under discussion, I stated, and I shall state again
(notwithstanding the learned gentleman's accusation of my having
endeavoured to shift the question from its true point), that the


7


1800.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 113


question then at issue, was not, whether the Netherlan4s should,
in fact, be restored ; though even on that question I am not, like
the learned gentleman, unprepared to give any opinion ; I am
ready to say, that to leave that territory in the possession of France
would be obviously dangerous to the interests of this country, and
is inconsistent with the policy which it has uniformly pursued, at
every period in which it has concerned itself in the general system
of the continent ; but it was not on the decision of this question
of expediency and policy, that the issue of the negotiation then
turned ; what was required of us by France was, not merely that
we should acquiesce in her retaining the Netherlands, but that
as a preliminary to all treaty, and before entering upon the
discussion of terms, we should recognise the principle, that what-
ever France, in time of war, had annexed to the republic, must
remain inseparable for ever, and could not become the subject of
negotiation. I say, that, in refusing such a preliminary, we were
only resisting the claim of France, to arrogate to itself the power
of controlling, by its own separate and municipal acts, the rights
and interests of other countries, and moulding, at its discretion,
a new and general code of the law of nations.


In reviewing the issue of this negotiation, it is important to
observe, that France, who began by abjuring a love of conquest,
was desired to give up nothing of her own, not even to give up all
that she had conquered ; that it was offered to her to receive back
all that had been conquered from her ; and when she rejected the
negotiation for peace upon these grounds, are we then to be told
of the unrelenting hostility of the combined powers, for which
France was to revenge itself upon other countries, and which is
to justify the subversion of every established government, and the
destruction of property, religion, and domestic comfort, from
one end of Italy to the other ? Such was the effect of the war
against Modena, against Genoa, against Tuscany, against Venice,
against Rome, and against Naples ; all of which she engaged in,
or prosecuted, subsequent to this very period.


After this, in the year 1797, Austria had made peace, Eng-
VOL.


iI




114 MR. PITT'S
[FEB. 3,


land, ant its ally Portugal (from whom we could expect little
active assistance, but whom we felt it our duty to defend), alone
remained in the war. In that situation, under the pressure of
necessity, which I shall not disguise, we made another attempt
to negotiate. In 1797, Prussia, Spain, Austria, and Naples,
having successively made peace, the princes of Italy having been
destroyed, France having surrounded itself. in almost every part
in which it is not surrounded by the sea, with revolutionary
republics, England made another offer of a different nature. It
was not now a demand that France should restore any thing.
Austria having made peace upon her own terms, England had
nothing to require with regard to her allies ; she asked no resti-
tution of the dominions added to France in Europe. So far from
retaining any thing French out of Europe, we freely offered them
all, demanding only, as a poor compensation, to retain a part of
what we had acquired by arms, from Holland, then identified with
France, and that part, useless to Holland, and necessary for the 419
security of our Indian possessions. This proposal also, Sir, was
proudly refused, in a way which the learned gentleman himself
has not attempted to justify, indeed of which he has spoken with
detestation. I wish, since he has not finally abjured his duty in
this House, that that detestation had been stated earlier, that he
had mixed his own voice with the general voice of his country,
on the result of that negotiation.


Let us look at the conduct of France immediately subsequent
to this period. She had spurned at the offers of Great Britain, she
had reduced her continental enemies to the necessity ofaccepting
a precarious peace ; she had (in spite of those pledges repeatedly
made and uniformly violated) surrounded herself by new con
quests, on every part of her frontier but one ; that one was
Switzerland. The first effect of being relieved from the war with
Austria, of being secured against all fears of continental invasion
on the ancient territory of France, was their unprovoked attack
against this unoffending and devoted country. This was one of the
scenes which satisfied even those who were the most incredulous,


1.800.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 115


that France had thrown off the mask, " ffindeed she had ever worn
Ft" # It collected, in one view, many of the characteristic fea-
tures of that revolutionary system which I have endeavoured to
trace. The perfidy which alone rendered their arms successful.,
the pretext of which they availed themselves to produce division
and prepare the entrance of jacobinism in that country, the pro-
posal of armistice, one of the known and regular engines of the
Revolution, which was, as usual, the immediate prelude to mili-
tary execution, attended with cruelty and barbarity, of which
there are few examples ; all these are known to the world. The
country they attacked was one which had long been the faithful
ally of France, which, instead of giving cause of jealousy to any
other power, had been for ages proverbial for the simplicity and
innocence of its manners, and which had acquired and preserved
the esteem of all the nations of Europe ; which had almost, by
the common consent of mankind, been exempted from the sound
of war, and marked out as a laud of Goshen, safe and untouched
in the midst of surrounding calamities.


Look then at the fate of Switzerland, at -the circumstances
which led to its destruction, add this instance to the catalogue
of aggression against all Europe, and then tell me, whether the
system I have described has not been prosecuted with an unre-
lenting spirit, which cannot be subdued in adversity, which can-
not be appeased in prosperity, which neither solemn professions,
nor the general law of natioits, nor the obligation of treaties
(whether previous to the Revolution or subsequent to it), could
restrain from the subversion of every state into which, either by
force or fraud, their arms could penetrate. Then tell me,
whether the disasters of Europe are to be charged upon the
provocation of this country and its allies, or on the inherent.


•• principle of the French revolution, of which the natural result
produced so much misery and carnage in France, and carried
desolation and terror over so large a portion of the world.


Sir, much as I have now stated, I have not finished the
catalogue. America almost as much as Switzerland, perhaps,


Vide Speeches at the Whig Club.
2




116 MR. PITT'S
[Fari. 3.


contributed to that change which has taken place in the minds-
of those who were originally partial to the principles of the French
government. The hostility against America followed a long
course of neutrality adhered to under the strongest provocations.
or rather of repeated compliance to France, with which we
might well have been dissatisfied. It was, on the face of it,
unjust and wanton ; and it was accompanied by those instances
of sordid corruption which shocked and disgusted even the
enthusiastic admirers of revolutionary purity, and threw a new
light on the genius of revolutionary government.


After this, it remains only shortly to remind gentlemen of the
aggression against Egypt, not omitting, however, to notice the
capture of Malta, in the way to Egypt. Inconsiderable as that
island may he thought, compared with the scenes we have wit-
nessed, let it be remembered, that it is an island of which the
government had long been recognised by every state of Europe,
against which France pretended no cause of war, and whose
independence was as dear to itself and as sacred as that of any
country in Europe. It was in fact not unimportant from its local
situation to the other powers of Europe, but in proportion as any
man may diminish its importance, the instance will only serve
the more to illustrate and confirm the proposition which I have
maintained. — The all-searching eye of the French revolution
looks to every part. of Europe, and every quarter of the world, in
which can he found an object either of acquisition or plunder.
Nothing is too great for the temerity of its ambition, nothing too
small or insignificant for the grasp of its rapacity. From hence
Buonaparte and his army proceeded to Egypt. The attack was
made, pretences were held out to the natives of that country in
the name of the French king, whom they had murdered; they
pretended to have the approbation of the Grand Seignior, whose
territories they were violating ; their project was carried on
under the profession of a zeal for 1VIahometanism; it was carried
on by proclaiming that France had been reconciled to the
Mussulman faith, had abjured that of Christianity, or, as he in
his impious language termed it, of " Me sect of the Messiah."


180(y.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 117


The only plea which they have since held out to colour this
atrocio us invasion of a neutral and friendly territory, is, that it
was the road to attack the English power in India. It is most
unquestionably true, that this was one and a principal cause of
this unparalleled outrage; but another, and an equally substantial
cause (as appears by their own statements), was the division and
partition of the territories of what they thought a falling power.
It is impossible to dismiss this subject without observing that this
attack against Egypt was accompanied by an attack upon the
British possessions in India, made on true revolutionary prin..
ciples. In Europe, the propagation of the principles of France
had uniformly prepared the way for the progress of its arms. To
India, the lovers of peace had sent the messengers of jacobinism,
for the purpose of inculcating war in those distant regions, on
jacobin principles, and of forming jacobin clubs, which they
actually succeeded in establishing, and which in most respects
resembled the European model, but which were distinguished
by this peculiarity, that they were required to swear in one
breath, hatred to tyranny, the love of liberty, and Me destruction
of all kings and sovereigns — except the good and faithful ally of
the French republic, CITIZEN TIPPOO.


What then was the nature of this system ? Was it any thing but
what I have stated it to be ; an insatiable - love of aggrandisement,
an implacable spirit of destruction directed against all the civil
and religious institutions of, every country ? This is the first
moving and acting spirit of the French revolution ; this is the
spirit which animated it at its birth, and this is the spirit which
will not desert it till the moment of its dissolutibn, " which grew
with its growth, which strengthened with its strength," but
which has not abated under its misfortunes, nor declined in its
decay ; it has been invariably the same in every period, operat-
ing more or less, according as accident or circumstances might
assist it ; but it has been inherent in the Revolution in all its
stages, it has equally belonged to Brissot, to Robespierre, to
Tallien, to Reubel, to Barras, and to every one of the leaders of
the directory, but to none more than to Buonaparte, in whom now


3




118 MR. PITT'S
[FEB. 3.


all their powers are united. What arc its characters ? Can it be
accident that produced them ? No, it is only from the alliance
of the most horrid principles with the most horrid means, that
such miseries could have been brought upon Europe. It is this
paradox, which we must always keep in mind when we are dis-
cussing any question relative to the effects of the French revo-
lution. Groaning under every degree of misery, the victim of
its own crimes, and as I once before expressed it in this House,
asking pardon of God and of man for the miseries which it has
brought upon itself and others, France still retains (while it has
.neither left means of comfort, nor almost of subsistence to its
own inhabitants) new and unexampled means of annoyance and
destruction against all the other powers of Europe.


Its first fundamental principle was to bribe the poor against the
rich, by proposing to transfer into new hands, on the delusive'
notion of equality, and in breach of every principle of justice, the
whole property of the country ; the practical application of this
principle was to devote the whole of that property to indiscrimi-
nate.


plunder, and to make it the foundation of a revolutionary
system of finance, productive in proportion to the misery and de-
solation which it created. It has been accompanied by an un-
wearied spirit of proselytism, diffusing itself over all the nations
of the earth ; a spirit which can apply itself to all circumstances
and all situations, which can furnish a list of grievances, and hold
out a promise of redress equally to all nations, which inspired
the teachers of French liberty with the hope of alike recom-
mending themselves to those who live under the feudal code of
the German empire ; to the various states of Italy, under all their
different institutions ; to the old republicans of Holland, and to
the new republicans of America ; to the catholic of Ireland,
whom it was to deliver from protestant usurpation ; to the pro-
testant of Switzerland, whom it was to deliver from popish super-
stition ; and to the mussulman of Egypt, whom it was to deliver
from Christian persecution ; to the remote Indian, blindly bigotted
to his ancient institutions; and to the natives of Great Britain,
enjoying the perfection of practical freedom, and justly attached


1800,1 PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 119


to their constitution, from the joint result of habit, of reason,
and of experience. The last and distinguishing feature is a
perfidy, which nothing can bind, which no tie of treaty, no sense
of the principles generally received among nations, no obligation,
human or divine, can restrain. Thus qualified, thus armed for
destruction, the genius of the French revolution marched forth,
the terror and dismay of the world. Every nation has in its turn
been the witness, many have been the victims of its principles,
and it is left for us to decide, whether we will compromise with
such a danger, while we have yet resources to supply the sinews
of war, while the heart and spirit of the country is yet unbroken,
and while we have the means of calling forth and supporting a
a powerful co-operation in Europe.


Much more might be said on this part of the subject; but if
what I have said already is a faithful, though only an imperfect
sketch of those excesses and outrages, which even history itself
will hereafter be unable fully to record, and a just represent-
ation of the principle and source from which they originated, will
any man say that we ought to accept a precarious security
against so tremendous a danger ? Much more will he pretend,
after the experience of all that has passed, in the different stages
of the French revolution, that we ought to be deterred from
probing this great question to the bottom, and from examining,
without ceremony or disguise, whether the change which has
recently taken place in France, is sufficientaow to give security,
not against a common danger, but against such a danger as that
which I have described ?


In examining this part of the subject, let it be remembered,
that there is one other characteristic of the French revolution,
as striking as its dreadful and destructive principles, I mean the
instability of its government, which has been of itself sufficient
to destroy all reliance, if any such reliance could, at any time,
have been placed on the good faith of any of its rulers. Such
has been the incredible rapidity with which the revolutions in
France have succeeded each other, that I believe the names of
those who have successively exercised absolute power, under the




120 M R. PITT'S
IFEB. 3.


pretence of liberty, are to be numbered by the years of the
Revolution ; and each of the new constitutions, which, under
the same pretence, has, in its turn, hLen imposed by force on
France, every one of which alike was founded upon principles
which professed to be universal, and was intended to be esta-
blished and perpetuated among all the nations of the earth —
each of these will be found, upon an average, to have had about.
two years, as the period of its duration.


Under this revolutionary system, accompanied with this per-
petual fluctuation and change, both in the form of the govern-
ment and in the persons of the rulers, what is the security which
has hitherto existed, and what new security is now offered ? Be-
fore an answer is given to this question, let me sum up the history
of all the revolutionary governments of France, and of their
characters in relation to other powers, in words more emphatical
than any which I could use— the memorable words pronounced,
.on the eve of this last constitution, by the orator * who was
selected to report to an assembly, surrounded by a file of grena-
diers, the new form. of liberty which it was destined to enjoy
under the auspices of General Buonaparte. From this reporter,
the mouth and organ pf the new government, we learn this im-
portant lesson : —" It is easy to conceive why peace was not
concluded before the establishment of the constitutional govern-
ment. The only government which then existed, described
itself as revolutionary; it was, in fact, only the tyranny of a few
men who were soon overthrown by others, and it consequently
presented no stability of principles or of views, no security either
with respect to men, or with respect to things.


" It should seem that that stability and that security ought to
have existed from the establishment, and as the effect, of the
constitutional system ; and yet they did not exist more, perhaps
even less, than they had done before. In truth, we did make
some partial treaties, we signed a continental peace, and a ge-
neral congress was held to confirm it ; but these treaties, these


Vide Speech of Boulay de la Meurthe, in the Council of Five Hun-
dred, at St. Cloud, 19th Brumaire (9th November), 1799.


00:21 PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


121


diplomatic conferences, appear to have been the source of a new
war, more inveterate and more bloody than before.


" Before the 18th Fructidor (4th September) of the 5th year,
the French government exhibited to foreign nations so uncertain
an existence, that they refused to treat with it. After this great
event, the whole power was absorbed in the directory : the legis'-
lative body can hardly be said to have existed : treaties of peace
•Nere broken, and war carried every where, without that body
having any share in those measures. The same directory, after
having intimidated all Europe, and destroyed, at its pleasure,
several governments, neither knowing how to make peace or
war, or how even to establish itself, was overturned by a breath,
on the 13th Prairial (18th June), to make room for other 'men,
influenced, perhaps, by different views, or who might be governed
by different principles.


" Judging, then, only from notorious facts, the French go-
vernment must be considered as exhibiting nothing fixed, neither
in respect to men or to things."


Here, then, is the picture, down to the period of the last re-
volution, of the state of France, under all its successive govern-
ments I


Having taken a view of what it was, let us now examine what it
is. In the first place, we see, as has been truly stated, a change
in the description and form of the sovereign authority.;) a supreme
power is placed at the head of this nominal republic, with a more
open avowal of military despotism than at any former period ;
with a more open and undisguised abandonment of the names
and pretences under which that despotism long attempted to
conceal itself. The different institutions, republican in their
form and appearance, which were before the instruments of that
despotism, are now annihilated ; they have given way to the ab-
solute power of one man, concentrating in himself all the autho-
rity of the state, and differing from other monarchs only in this,
that, as my honourable friend * truly stated it, he wields a sword
instead of a sceptre. What, then, is the confidence we ate to


* Mr. Canning,




[Fan. S.
derive either from the frame of the government, or from the
character and past conduct of the person who is now the abso-
lute ruler of France ?


Had we seen a man, of whom we had no previous knowledge,
suddenly invested with the sovereign authority of the country ;
invested with the power of taxation, with the power of the sword,
the power of war and peace, the unlimited power of


commanding
the resources, of disposing of the lives andfortunes of every man
in France


. ; if
we had seen, at the same moment, all the interior


machinery of the Revolution, which, under the variety of succes-
sive shocks, had kept the system in motion, still remaining entire,
•ell that, by r


equisition and plunder, had given activity to the
re


volutionary system of finance, and had furnished the means of
creating an army, by converting every man, who was of age


tobear arms, into a soldier, not for the defence of his own country,
but for the sake of carrying unprovoked war into


surroundingcountries ; if we had seen all the subordinate instruments ofjacobin power subsisting in their full force, and retaining (to use
the French phrase) all their original organisation ; and had then
observed this single change in the conduct of their affairs, that
there was now one man with no rival to thwart his


measures,
no colleague to divide his powers, no council to control his
operations, no liberty of speaking or writing, no expression of
public opinion to check or influence his conduct ; under such
ci


rcumstances, should we be wrong to pause, or wait for the
evidence of facts and experience, before we consented to trust
our safety to the forbearance of a single man, in such a situ-
ation, and to relinquish those means of defence which have
hitherto carried us safe through all the storms of the Revolution?
if we were to ask what are the principles and character of this
s.t.ranger, to whom fortune has


suddenly-committed the concernsof a great and powerful nation ?
But is this the actual state of the present question ? Are we


talking of a stranger of whom we have heard nothing?
we have heard of him ; we, and Europe, and the world, have
heard both of him and of the satellites by whom he is surrounded;


1800.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


123


and it is impossible to discuss fairly the propriety of any answer
which could be returned to his overtures of negotiation, without
taking into consideration the inferences to be drawn from his
personal character and conduct. I know it is the fashion with
some gentlemen to represent any reference to topics of this nature
as invidious and irritating; but the truth is, that they rise un-
avoidably out of the very nature of the question. Would it have
been possible for ministers to discharge their duty, in offering
their advice to their Sovereign, either for accepting or declining
negotiation, without taking into their account the reliance to be
placed on the disposition and the principles of the person ? on
whose disposition and principles the security to be obtained by
treaty must, in the present circumstances, principally depend ? or
would they act honestly or candidly towards parliament and to-
wards the country, if, having been guided by these considerations,
they forbore to state publicly and distinctly the real grounds
which have influenced their decision ; and if, from a false delicacy
and groundless timidity, they purposely declined an examination
of a point, the most essential towards enabling parliament to
form a just determination on so important a subject ?


What opinion, then, are we led to form of the pretensions of
the Consul to those particular qualities which, in the official note,
are represented as affording us, from his personal character, the
surest pledge of peace? We are -told, this is his second attempt at
general pacification. Let us see, for a moment, how this second


attempt has been conducted. There is, indeed, as the learned
gentleman has said, a word in. the first declaration which refers
to general peace, and which states this to be the second time in
Which the Consul has endeavoured to accomplish that object.
We thought fit, for the reasons which have been assigned, to
decline altogether the proposal of treating, under the present
circumstances ; but we, at the same time, expressly stated, that,
whenever the moment for treaty should arrive, we would in no
case treat but in conjunction with our allies. Our gusieral refusal
to negotiate at the present moment did not prevent the Consul
from renewing his overtures ; but were they renewed for the


122
AIR. PITT'S




124 Mit. NTT'S LFEt. 3,
purpose of general pacification ? Though he had hinted at general
peace in the terms of his first note ; though we had shown by
our answer, that we deemed negotiation, even for general peace,
at this moment, inadmissible ; though we added, that, even at
any future period, we would treat only in conjunction with our
allies ; what was the proposal contained in his last. note ? To
treat, not for general peace, but for a separate peace between
Great Britain and France.


Such was the second attempt to effect general pacXcation
proposal for a separate treaty with Great Britain. What had been
the first ?— The conclusion of a separate treaty with Austria; and
in addition to this fact, there are two anecdotes connected with
the conclusion of this treaty, which are sufficient to illustrate the
disposition of this pacificator of Europe. This very treaty ,


of
Campo Formic) was ostentatiously professed to be concluded with
the Emperor, for the purpose of enabling Buonaparte to take the
command of the army of England, and to dictate a separate peace
with this country on the banks of the Thames. But there is this
additional circumstance, singular beyond all conception, consi-
dering that we are now referred to the treaty of Campo Formic,
as a proof of the personal disposition of the Consul to general
peace; he sent his two confidential and chosen friends, Bert bier
ma. .1.Vonge, charged to communicate to the directory this treaty
of Campo Formio ; to announce to them, that one enemy was
humbled, that the war with Austria was terminated, and, there-
fore, that now was the moment to prosecute their operations
against this country; they used, on this occasion, the memorable
words, 44 the Kingdom of Great Britain and the 'French Republic
cannot exist together." This, I say, was the solemn declaration
of the deputies and ambassadors of Buonaparte himself, offering
to the directory the first fruits of this first attempt at general
pacification.


So much for his disposition towards general pacification : let
us look next at the part he has taken in the different stages of
the French revolution, and let us then judge whether we are to
look to him as the security against revolutionary principles ; let


1800.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 125


•us 'determine what reliance we can place on his engagements with
.other countries, when we see how he has observed his engage-
ments to his own. When the constitution of the third year was
established under Barras, that constitution was imposed by the
arms of Buonaparte, then commanding the army of the Triumvi-
rate in Paris. To that constitution he then swore fidelity. How
often he has repeated the same oath, I know not ; but twice, at
least, we know that he has not only repeated it himself, buttend.ered
it to others, under circumstances too striking not to be stated.


Sir, the House cannot have forgotten the revolution of the fourth
of September, which produced the dismissal of Lord MalmsburF
from Lisle. How was that revolution procured ? It was pro-
cured chiefly by the promise of Buonaparte, (in the name of his
army,) decidedly to support the directory in those measures
which led to the. infringement and violation of every thing that
the authors of the constitution of 1795, or its adherents, could
consider as fundamental, and which established a system of
despotism inferior only to that now realised in his own person.
Immediately before this event, in the midst of the desolation and
bloodshed of Italy, he had received the sacred present of new
banners from the directory ; he delivered them to his army with
this exhortation : " Let us swear, fellow-soldiers, by the manes
of the patriots who have died by our side, eternal hatred to the
enemies of the constitution of the third year :" that very consti-
tution which he soon after enabled the directory to violate, and.
which, at the head of his grenadiers, he has now finally destroyed.
Sir, that oath was again renewed, in the midst of that very scene
to which I have last referred ; the oath of fidelity to the consti-
tution of the third year was administered to all the members of
the assembly then sitting (under the terror of the bayonet), as the
solemn preparation for the business of the day ; and the morning
was ushered. in with swearing attachment to the constitution, that
the evening might close with its destruction.


if we carry our views out of France, and look at the dreadful
catalogue of all the breaches of treaty, all the acts of perfidy at
which I have only glanced, and which are precisely commensurate




I


126 MR. PITT'S"
[FEB.


with the number of treaties which the republic have made (for
I have sought in vain for any one which it has made and which it
has not broken ) ; if we trace the history of them all from the be-
ginning of the Revolution to the present time, or if we select those
which have been accompanied by the most atrocious cruelty, and
marked the most strongly with the characteristic features of the
Revolution, the name of Buonaparte will be found allied to more
of them than that of any other that can be handed down in the
history of the crimes and miseries of the last ten years. His name
will be recorded with the horrors committed in Italy, in the
memorable campaign of 1796 and 1797, in the Milanese, in
Genoa, in Modena, in Tuscany, in Rome, and in Venice.


His entrance into Lombardy was announced by a solemn pro-
clamation, issued on the 27th of April, 1796, which terminated
with these words: " Nations of Italy ! the French army is come
to break your chains; the French arc the friends of the people in
every country ; your religion, your property, your customs, shall
be respected." This was followed by a second proclamation,
dated from Milan, 20th of May, and signed " Buonaparte," in
these terms: " Respect for property and personal security, respect
for the religion of countries ; these are the sentiments of the
government el the French republic, and of the army of Italy. The
French, victorious, consider the nations of Lombardy as their
brothers." In testimony of this fraternity, and to fulfil the solemn
pledge of respecting property, this very proclamation imposed on
the Milanese a provisional contribution to the amount of twenty
millions of livres, or near one million sterling ; and successive ex-
actions were afterwards levied on that single state to the amount,
in the whole, of near six millions sterling. The regard to religion
and to the customs of the country was manifested with the same
scrupulous fidelity. The churches were given up to indiscrimi-
nate plunder. Every religious and charitable fund, every public
treasure was confiscated. The country was made the scene of
every species of disorder and rapine. The priests, the established
form of worship, all the objects of religious reverence, were openly
insulted by the French troops; at Pavia, particularly, the tomb


tz


1800.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 127


of St Augustine, which the inhabitants were accustomed to view
with peculiar veneration, was mutilated and defaced. This last
provocation having roused the resentment of the people, theyftew
to arms, surrounded the French garrison, and took them prisoners,
but carefully abstained from offering any violence to a single sol-
dier. In revenge for this conduct, Buonaparte, then on his march
to the Mincio, suddenly returned, collected his troops, and car-
ried the extremity of military execution over the country : he
burnt the town of Benasco, and massacred eight hundred of its
inhabitants : he marched to Pavia, took it by storm, and delivered
it over to general plunder ; and published, at the same moment,
a proclamation, of the 26th of May, ordering his troops to shoot
all those who had not laid down their arms, and taken an oath
of obedience, and to burn every village where the tocsin should
be sounded, and to put its inhabitants to death.


The transactions with Modena were on a smaller scale, but in
the same character. Buonaparte began by signing a treaty, by
which the Duke of Modena was to pay twelve millions of livres,
and neutrality was promised him in return; this was soon follow-
ed by the personal arrest of the Duke, and by a fresh extortion
of two hundred thousand sequins ; after this he was permitted,
on the payment of a further sum, to sign another treaty, called a
Convention de &rag, which of course was only the prelude to
the repetition of similar exactions.


Nearly at the same period, in violation of the rights of neutra-
lity, and of the treaty which had been concluded between the
French republic and the Grand Duke of Tuscany in the preceding
year, and in breach of a positive promise given only a few days
before, the French army forcibly took possession of Leghorn, for
the purpose of seizing the British property which was deposited
there, and confiscating it as prize ; and shortly after, when
Buonaparte agreed to evacuate Leghorn in return for the evacua-
tion of the island of Elbe, which was in the possession of the
British troops, he insisted upon a separate article, by which, in
addition to the plunder before obtained, by the infraction of the
law of nations, it was stipulated, that the Grand Duke should pay





to-the French the expense which they had incurred by this in-
vasion of his territory.


In the proceedings towards Genoa, we shall find not only a con-
' tinuation of the same system of extortion and plunder, (in violation


of the solemn pledge contained in the proclamations already re-
ferred to,) but a striking instance of the revolutionary means em-
ployed for the destruction of independen t governments. A French
minister was at that time resident at Genoa, which was acknow...
!edged by France to be in a state of neutrality and friendship: in
breach of this neutrality, Buonaparte began, in the year 1796,
with the demand of a loan ; he afterwards, from the month of
September, required and enforced the payment of a monthly
subsidy, to the amount which he thought proper to stipulate ;
these exactions were accompanied by repeated assurances and.
protestations of friendship ; they were followed, h May 1797,
by a conspiracy against the government, fomented by the emissa-
ries of the French embassy, and conducted by the partisans of
France, encouraged and afterwards protected by the French
minister. The conspirators failed in their first attempt ; over-
powered by the courage and voluntary exertions of the inhabitants,
their force was dispersed, and many of their number were arrest-
ed. Buonaparte instantly considered the defeat of the con-
spirators as an act of' aggression against the French republic : he
dispatched an aid-de-camp with an order to the senate of this
independent state; first, to release all the French who were detain-
ed ; secondly, to punish those who had arrested them ; thirdly,
to declare that they had had no share in the insurrection ; and
fourthly, to disarm the people. Several French prisoners were
immediately released, and a proclamation was preparing to disarm
the inhabitants, when, by a second note, Buonaparte required the
arrest of the three inquisitors of state, and immediate alterations
in the constitution ; he accompanied this with an order to the
French minister to quit Genoa, if his commands were not imme-
diately carried into execution ; at the same moment his troops
entered the territory of the republic, and shortly after the
councils, intimidated and overpowered, abdicated their functions.


1800.1 PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.
129


Three deputies were then sent to Buonaparte to receive from him
a neW constitution : on the 6th of June, after the cenferences,at
illontebello, he signed a convention, or rather issued a decree,
by which he fixed the new form of their -government ; he himself
named provisionally all the members who were to compose it, and
he required the payment of seven millions of livres, as the price
of the subversion, of their constitution, and their independence.
These transactions require but one short comment : it is to be
found in the official account given of them at Paris, which is in
these memorable words : " General Buonaparte has pursued the


onl y line of conduct which could be allowed in the representative
of a nation, which has supported the war only to procure the
solemn acknowledgement of the right of nations, to change the
form of their government. He contributed nothing towards the
revolution of Genoa, but he seized the first moment to acknow-
ledge the new government, as soon as he saw that it was the


result of the wishes of the people."*
It is unnecessary to dwell on the wanton attacks against Rome


under the direction of Buonaparte himself, in the year 1796, and
in the beginning of 1797, which led first, to the treaty of Tolen-
tino, concluded by Buonaparte, in which by enormous sacrifices,
the Pope was allowed to purchase the acknowledgement of his
authority, as a sovereign prince ; and secondly, to the violation
of that very treaty, and to the subversion of the papal authority
by Joseph Buonaparte, the brother and the agent of the general,
and the minister of the French republic to the holy see : A trans-
action accompanied by outrages- and insults towards the pious
and venerable Pontiff (in spite of the sanctity of his age and the
unsullied purity of his character), which even to a protestant,
seemed hardly short of the guilt of sacrilege.


But of all the disgusting and tragical scenes which took place in
Italy, in the course of the period Lam describing, those which
passed at Venice are perhaps the most striking, and the most
characteristic : in - May; 1796, • the French army, under Buona-
parte, in the full tide. of its success against the -Austrians, first


Redacteur Official, June 30. 1797.
VOL; III.


128 MR. PITT'S [Fst.




1 3() MR. PITT'S
[FEE. 3.


approached the territories of this republic, which, from the com-
mencement of the war, had observed a rigid neutrality. Their
entrance on these territories was, as usual, accompanied by a
solemn proclamation in the name of their general. " Buonaparte
to the republic of Venice." " It is to deliver the finest country
in Europe from the iron yoke of the proud house of .A.ustvia, that
the French army has braved obstacles the most difficult to sur-
mount. Victory in union with justice has crowned its eflbrts.
The wreck of the enemy's army has retired behind the Mincio.
The French army, in order to follow them, passes over the ter-
ritory of the republic of Venice ; but it will never forget, that
ancient friendship unites the two republics. Religion, govern-
ment, customs, and property, shall be respected. That the peo-
ple may be without apprehension, the most severe discipline shall
be maintained. All that may be provided for the army shall be
faithfully paid for in money. The general-in-chief engages the
officers of the republic of Venice, the magistrates, and the priests,
to make known these sentiments to the people, in order that
confidence may cement that friendship which has so long united
the two nations, faithful in the path of honour as in that of vic-
tory. The French soldier is terrible only to the enemies of his
liberty and his government. Buonaparte."


This proclamation was followed by exactions similar to those
which were practised against Genoa, by the renewal of similar
professions of friendship, and the use of similar means to excite in-
surrections. At length, in the spring of 1797, occasion was taken
from disturbances thus excited, to forge, in the name of the Ve-
netian government, a proclamation* hostile to France ; and this
proceeding was made the ground for military execution against
the country, and for effecting by force the subversion of its ancient
government and the establishment of the democratic forms of the
French revolution. This revolution was sealed by a treaty, signed
in May, 1797, between Buonaparte and commissioners appointed
on the part of the new and revolutionary government of Venice.


* Vide Account of this transaction, in the Proclamation of the Senate
of Venice, April 12. 1798.


1800:3 PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


151


By the second and third secret articles of this treaty, Venice
agreed to give as a ransom, to secure itself against all farther
exactions or demands, the sum of three millions oflivres in money,
the value of three millions more in articles of naval supply, and
three ships of the line ; and it received in return the assurances of
the friendship and support of the French republic. Immediately
after the signature of this treaty, the arsenal, the library, and
the palace of St. Mare, were ransacked and plundered, and heavy
additional contributions were imposed upon its inhabitants : and,
in not more than four months afterwards, this very republic of
Venice, united by alliance to France, the creature of Buonaparte
himself, from whom it had received the present of French liberty,
was by the same Buonaparte transferred, under the treaty of
Campo Formic., to " that iron yoke of the proud house of Aus-
tria," to deliver it from which he had represented in his first
proclamation to be the great object of all his operations.


Sir, all this is followed by the memorable expedition into Egypt,
which I mention, not merely because it forms a principal article
in the catalogue of those acts of violence and perfidy in which
Buonaparte has been engaged ; not merely because it was an en-
terprise peculiarly his own, of which he was himself the planner,
the executor, and the betrayer ; but chiefly because, when from
thence he retires to a different scene to take possession of' a new
throne, from which he is to speak upon an equality with the kings
and governors of Europe, he leaves behind him, at the moment of
his departure, a specimen, which cannot be mistaken, of his prin-
ciples of negotiation. The intercepted correspondence, which has
been alluded to in this debate, seems to afford the strongest
ground to believe, that his offers to the Turkish government to
evacuate Egypt were made solely with a view " to gain time s;"
that the ratification of any treaty on this subject was to be delayed
with the view of finally eluding its performance, if any change of
circumstances favourable to the French should occur in the inter-
val. But whatever gentlemen may think of the intention with
which these offers were made, there will at least he no question


Vide " Intercepted Letters from Egypt,
It. 2




132 133MR. PITT'S
[FEIL 3;


with respect to the credit due to those professions by which he'
endeavoured to prove, in Egypt, his pacific dispositions. He
expressly enjoins his successor, strongly and steadily to insist in
all his intercourse with the Turks, that he came to Egypt with
no hostile design, and that he never meant to keep possession of
the country ; while, on the opposite page of the same instructions,
he states, in the most unequivocal manner, his regret at the dis-
comfiture of his favourite project. of colonising Egypt, and of
maintaining it as a territorial acquisition. Now, Sir, if in any
note addressed to the Grand Vizier, or the Sultan, Buonaparte
had claimed credit for the sincerity of his professions, that he
forcibly invaded Egypt with no view hostile to Turkey, and
solely for the purpose of molesting the British interests ; is there
any one argument now used to induce us to believe his present
professions to us, which might not have been equally urged on
that occasion to the Turkish government ? Would not those
professions have been equally supported by solemn asseverations,
by the same reference ,


which is now made to personal character,
with this single difference, that they would then have been
accom panied with one instance less of that perfidy, which we
have had occasion to trace in this very transaction ?


It is unnecessary to say more with respect to the credit due to
his professions, or the reliance to be placed on his general cha-
racter: but it will perhaps be argued, that, whatever may be his
character, or whatever has been his past conduct, he has now an
interest in making and preserving peace. That he has an interest
in making peace is at best but a doubtful proposition, and that he
has an interest in preserving it is still more uncertain. That it is
his interestto negotiate, I do not indeed deny : it is his interest
above all to engage this country in separate negotiation, in order
to loosen and dissolve the whole system of confederacy on the
Continent, to palsy, at once, the arms of Russia or of Austria, or
of any other country that might look to you for support ; and
then either to break off his separate treaty, or if he should
have concluded if, to apply the lesson which is taught in his
school of policy in Egypt ; and to revive, at his pleasure, those


1800.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


claims of indemnification which may have been reserved to some


happier 'period.*
This is precisely the interest which he has in negotiation; but on


what grounds arc we to be convinced that he has an interest in
concluding and observing a solid and permanent pacification?
Under all the circumstances of his personal character, and his
newly acquired power, what other security has he for retaining
that power, but the sword ? His hold upon France is the sword,
and he has no other. Is he connected with the soil, or with the
habits, the affections, or the prejudices of the country ? He is a
stranger, a foreigner, and an usurper; he unites in his own person
every thing that a pure Republican must detest; every thing that
an enraged Jacobin has abjured ; every thing that a sincere and
faithful Royalist must feel as an insult. If he is opposed at any time
in his career, what is his appeal ? He appeals to his fortune ; in
other words, to his army and his sword. Placing, then, his whole
reliance upon military support, can he afford to let his military re-
nown pass away, to let his laurels wither, to let the memory of his
achievements sink in obscurity ? Is it certain that with his army
confined within France, and restrained from inroads upon her
neighbours, he can maintain, at his devotion, a force sufficiently
numerous to support his power ? Having no object but the pos.
session of absolute dominion, no passion but military glory, is it
certain, that he can feel such an interest in permanent peace, as
would justify us in laying down our arms, reducing our expense,
and relinquishing our means of security, on the faith of his
engagements? Do we believe, that after the conclusion of peace,
he would not still sigh over the lost trophies of Egypt, wrested
from him by the celebrated victory of Aboukir, and the brilliant
exertions of that heroic band of British seamen, whose influence
and example rendered the Turkish troops invincible at Acre ?
Can he forget, that the effect of these exploits enabled Austria
and Russia, in one campaign, to recover from France all which
she had acquired by his victories, to dissolve the charm, which,
for a time, fascinated Europe, and to show that their generals,,


Vide "Intercepted Letters from Egypt,"
K 3




131 MR. PITT'S
[Fan. 3.


contending in a just cause, could efface, even by their success
and their military glory, the most dazzling triumphs of his
victories and desolating ambition ?


Can we believe, with these impressions on his mind, that if, after
a year, eighteen months, or two years, of peace had elapsed, he
should be tempted by the appearance of a fresh insurrection in
Ireland, encouraged by renewed and unrestrained communication
with France, and fomented by the fresh infusion of jacobin prin-
ciples; if we were at such a moment without a fleet to watch the
ports of France, or to guard the coasts of Ireland, without a dis-
posable army, or an embodied militia, capable of supplying a
speedy and adequate reinforcement, and that he had suddenly the
means of transporting thither a body of twenty or thirty thousand
French troops ; can we believe that at such a moment his am-
bition and vindictive spirit would be restrained by the recollection
of engagements, or the obligation of treaty ? Or, if in some new
crisis of difficulty and danger to the Ottoman empire, with no
British navy in the Mediterranean, no confederacy formed, no force
collected to support it, an opportunity should present itself for
resuming the abandoned expedition to Egypt, for renewing the
avowed and favourite project of conquering and colonising that
rich and fertile country, and of opening the way to wound some
of the vital interests of England, and to plunder the treasures of
the East, in order to fill the bankrupt coffers of France, would it
be the interest of Buonaparte, under such circumstances, or his
principles, his moderation, his love of peace, his aversion to con-
quest, and his regard for the independence of other nations —
would it be all, or any of these that would secure us against an
attempt, which would leave us only the option of submitting,
without a struggle, to certain loss and disgrace, or of renewing the
contest which we had prematurely terminated, and renewing it
without allies, without preparation, with diminished means, and
with increased difficulty and hazard ?


Hitherto I have spoken only of the reliance which we can place
on the professions, the character, and the conduct of the present
First Consul; but it remains to consider the stability of his power.


I WO-] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 135


The Revolution has been marked throughout by a rapid succession
. of new depositaries of public authority, each supplanting his pre-


decessor; what grounds have we as yet to believe that this new
usurpation, more odious and more undisguised than all that
preceded it, will be more durable ? Is it that we rely on. the
particular provisions contained in the code of the pretended
constitution, which was proclaimed as accepted by the French
people, as soon as the garrison of Paris declared their deter-
mination to exterminate all its enemies, and before any of its
articles could even be known to half the country, whose consent
was required for its establishment ?


I will not pretend to enquire deeply into the nature and effects
of a constitution, which can hardly be regarded but as a farce and
a mockery. If, however, it could be supposed that its provisions
were to have any effect, it seems equally adapted to two purposes;
that of giving to its founder for a time an absolute and uncontrol-
led authority, and that of laying the certain foundation of future
disunion and discord, which, if they once prevail, must render the
exercise of all the authority under the constitution impossible,
and leave no appeal but to the sword.


Is then military despotism that which we are accustomed to
consider as a stable form of government? In all ages of the world,
it has been attended with the least stability to the persons who
exercised it, and with the most rapid succession of changes and
revolutions. The advocates of the French revolution boasted in its
outset, that by their new system they had furnished a security for
ever, not to France only, but to all countries in the world, against
military despotism ; that the force of standing armies was vain and
delusive; that no artificial power could resist public Opinion; and
that it was upon the foundation of public opinion alone that any
government could stand. I believe, that in this instance, as in
every other, the progress of the French revolution has belied its
professions ; but so far from its being a proof' of the prevalence of
public opinion against military force, it is, instead of the proof;
the strongest exception from that doctrine, which appears in the
history of the world. Through all the stages of the Revolution


K




[FEB. 3
136 MR. PITT'S




.


military force has governed ; public opinion has scarcely been
heard. But still I consider this as only an exception from a
general truth ; I still believe, that in every civilised country (not
enslaved by a jacobin faction), public opinion is the only sure
support of any government ; I believe this with the more satisfac-
tion, from a conviction, that if this contest is happily terminated,
the established governments of Europe will stand upon that rock
firmer than ever : and whatever may be the defects of any
particular constitution, those who live under it will prefer its
continuance to the experiment of changes which may plunge
them in the unfathomable abyss of revolution, or extricate them
front it, only to expose them to the terrors of military despotism.
And to apply this to France, I.see no reason to believe, that the
present usurpation will be more permanent than any other
military despotism, which has been established by the same
means, and with the same defiance of public opinion.


What, then, is the inference I draw from all that I have now
stated ? Is it, that we will in no case treat with Buonaparte ? I
say no such thing. But I say, as has been said in the answer
returned to the French note, that we ought to wait for


experience,
and the evidenee


. nf facts, before we are convinced that such a
treaty is admissible. The circumstances I have stated, would well
justify us if we should be slow in being convinced ; but on a ques-
tion of peacetutd war, every thing depends upon degree, and upon
comparison. If, on the one hand, there should be an appearance
that the policy of France is at length guided by different maxims
from those which have hitherto prevailed; if we should hereafter
see signs of stability in the government, which are not now to be
traced ; if the progress of the allied army should not call forth
such a spirit in France, as to make it probable that theact of the
country itself will destroy the system now prevailing; if the danger,
the difficulty, the risk of continuing thecontcst, should increase,
while the hope of complete ultimate success should be diminished;
all these, in their due place, are considerations, which, with


my-
self and (I can answer for it) with every one of my colleagues, will
have their just Weight. But at present these considerations all


1800.3 PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


137


operate one way ; at present there is nothing from which we can
presage a favourable disposition to change in the French coun-
cils: there is the greatest reason to rely on powerful co-operation
from our allies ; there are the strongest marks of a disposition in
the interior of France to active resistance against this new
tyranny ; and there is every ground to believe, on reviewing our
situation, and that of the enemy, that if we are ultimately dis-
appointed of that complete success which we are at present
entitled to hope, the continuance of the contest, instead of
making our situation comparatively worse, will have made it
comparatively better.


If then I am asked, how long are we to persevere in the war?
I can only say, that no period can be accurately assigned before-
hand. Considering the importance of obtaining complete secu-
rity for the objects for which we contend, we ought not to be
discouraged too soon : but, on the other hand, considering the
importance of not impairing and exhausting the radical strength
of the country, thereare limits beyond which we ought not to per-
sist, and which we can determine only by estimating and comparing
fairly, from time to time, the degree of security to be obtained by
treaty, and the risk and disadvantage of continuing the contest.


But, Sir, there are some gentlemen in the House, who seem to
consider it already certain, that the ultimate success to which I
am looking is unattainable : they suppose us contending only for
the restoration of the French monarchy, which they believe to be
impracticable, and deny to be desirable for this country. We have
been asked in the course of this debate, do you think you can
impose monarchy upon France, against the will of the nation ?
I never thought it, I never hoped it, I never wished it; I have
thought, I have hoped, I have wished; that the time might come
when the effect of the arms of the allies might so far overpower
the military force which keeps France in bondage, as to give vent
and scope to the thoughts and actions of its inhabitants. We
have, indeed, already seen abundant proof of what is the dispo-
sition of a large part of the country ; we have seen almost through
the whole of the Revolution, the western provinces of France


fl




138
MR. PITT'S


[FEB. 3.
deluged with the blood of its inhabitants, obstinately contending
for their ancient laws and religion. We have recently seen, in the
revival of that war, a fresh instance of the zeal which still animates
those countries in the same cause. These efforts (I state it dis-
tinctly, and there are those near me who can bear witness to the
truth of the assertion ) were not produced by any instigation from
hence ; they were the effects of a rooted sentiment prevailing
through all those provinces, forced into action by the Law of Me
Hostages and the other tyrannical measures of the directory, at
the moment when we were endeavouring to discourage so
hazardous an enterprise. If, under such circumstances, we find
them giving proofs of their unalterable perseverance in their prin-
ciples ; if there is every reason to believe that the same disposition
prevails in many other extensive provinces of France ; if every
party appears at length equally wearied and disappointed with all
the successive changes which the Revolution has produced; if the
question is no longer between monarchy, and even the pretence and
name of liberty, but between the ancient line of hereditary princes
on the one hand, and a military tyrant, a foreign usurper, on the
other ; if the armies of that usurper are likely to find sufficient
occupation on the frontiers, and to be forced at length to leave the
interior of the country at liberty to manifest its real feeling and
disposition ; what reason have we to anticipate, that the restor-
ation of monarchy, under such circumstances, is impracticable ?


The learned gentleman has indeed told us, that almost every
man now possessed of property in France must necessarily be
interested in resistingsuch a change, and that therefore itnever can
be effected. If that single consideration were conclusive against
the possibility of a change, for the same reason the Revolution
itself, by which the whole property of the country was taken from
its ancient possessors, could never have taken place. But though
I deny it to be an insuperable obstacle, I admit it to be a point of
considerable delicacy and difficulty. It is not, indeed, for us to
discuss minutely what arrangement might be formed on this point
to conciliate and unite opposite interests ; but whoever considers
the precarious tenure and depreciated value of lands held under


1800.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 139


the revolutionary title, and the low price for which they have
generally been obtained, will think it, perhaps, not impossible that
an ample compensation might be made to the bulk of the present
possessors, both for the purchase-money they have paid, and for
the actual value of what they now enjoy ; and that the ancient
proprietors might be reinstated in the possession of their former
rights, with only such a temporary sacrifice as reasonable men
would willingly make to obtain so essential an object.


The honourable and learned gentleman, however, has supported
his reasoning on this part of the subject, by an argument which he
undoubtedly considers as unanswerable — a reference to what
would be his own conduct in similar circumstances ; and he tells
us, that every landed proprietor in France must support the pre-
sent order of things in that country from the same motive that le.
and every proprietor of three per cent. stock would join in the
defence of the constitution of Great Britain. I must do the learned
gentleman the justice to believe, that the habits of his profession
must supply him with better and nobler motives, for defending a
constitution which he has had so much occasion to study and
examine, than any which he can derive from the value of his pro-
portion (however large) of three per cents. even supposing them to
continue to increase in price as rapidly as they have done, during
the last three years, in which the security and prosperity of the
country has been established by following a system directly oppo-
site to the counsels of the learned gentleman and his friends.


The learned gentleman's illustration, however, though it fails
with respect to himself, is happily and aptly applied to the state of
France ; and let us see what inference it furnishes with respect to
the probable attachment of monied men to the continuance of the
revolutionary system, as well as with respect to the general state
of public credit in that country. I do not indeed know that
there exists precisely any fund of three per cents. in France, to
furnish a test for the patriotism and public spirit of the lovers of
French liberty. But there is another fund which may equally
answer our purpose the capital of three per cent. stock which
formerly existed in France has undergone a whimsical operation,




MR. PITT'S
[FEB. 3.


similar to many other expedients of finance which we have seen
in the course of the Revolution— this was performed by a decree,
which, as they termed it, republicanised their debt ; that is, in
other words, struck off; at once, two-thirds of the capital, and left
the proprietors to take their chance for the payment of interest
on the remainder. This remnant was afterwards converted into
the present five per cent, stock. I had the curiosity very lately
to enquire what price it bore in the market, and I was told
that the price had somewhat risen from confidence in the new
government, and was actually as high as


seventeen. I really at first
supposed that my informer meant seventeen years' purchase for
every pound of interest, and I began to be almost jealous of
r
evolutionary credit ; but I soon found that he literally meant


seventeen pounds for every hundred pounds capital stock of five
per cent. that is, alittle more than three and a hal years'purehase.So much for the value of revolutionary property, and for the
attachment with which it must inspire its possessors towards the
system of government to which that value is to be ascribed!.


On the question, Sir, how far the restoration of the French mo-
narchy, if practicable, is desirable, I shall not think it necessary
to say much. Can it be supposed to be indifferent to us or to the
world, whether the throne of' France is to be filled by a prinee•of
the house of Bourbon, or by him whose principles and conduct I
have endeavoured to develope ? Is it nothing, with a view to in-
fluence and example, whether the fortune of this last adventurer
in the lottery of revolutions shall appear to be permanent? Is it
nothing, whether a system shall be sanctioned, which confirms by
one of its fundamental articles that general transfer of property
from its ancient and lawful possessors, which holds out one of
the most terrible examples of national injustice, and which has
furnished the great source of revolutionary finance and revolu-
tionary strength against all the powers of Europe ?


In the exhausted and impoverished state of France, it seems for
a time impossible that any system but that of robbery and con-
fiscation, any thing but the continued torture, which can.he
applied only by the engines of the Revolution, can extort from its


12


190.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 141


ruined inhabitants inure than the means of supporting, in peace,
the yearly expenditure of its government. Suppose, then, the
heir of the house of Bourbon reinstated on the throne, he will
have sufficient occupation in endeavouring, if possible, to heal the
wounds, and-gradually to repair the losses of ten years of civil
convulsion ; to reanimate the drooping commerce, to rekindle the
industry, to replace the capital, and to revive the manufactures of
the country.. Under such circumstances, there must probably be
a considerable interval before such a monarch, whatever may be
his views, can possess the power which can make him formidable
to Europe ; but while the system of the Revolution continues, the
case is quite different. It is true, indeed, that even the gigantic
and unnatural means by which that revolution has been support-
ed, are so far impaired; the influence of its principles, and the
terror of its anus; so far weakened ; and its power of action so
much contracted and circumscribed, that against the embodied
force of Europe, prosecuting a vigorous war, we may justly hope
that the remnant and wreck of this system cannot long oppose an
effectual resistance. But, supposing the confederacy of Europe
prematurely dissolved; supposing our armies disbanded, our fleets
laid up in our harbours, our exertions relaxed, and our means of
precaution and defence relinquished ; do we believe that the re-
volutionary power, with this restand breathing-time given it to re-
cover from the pressure under which it is now sinking, possessing
still the means of calling suddenly and violently into action what-
ever is the remaining physical force of France, under the guidance
of military despotism ; do we believe that this power, the terror
of which is now beginning to vanish, will not again prove formi-
dable to Europe? Can we forget, that in the ten years in which that
power has subsisted, it has brought more misery on surrounding
nations, and produced more acts of aggression, cruelty, perfidy,
and enormous ambition, than can be traced in the history of France
for the centuries which have elapsed since the foundation of its.
monarchy, including all the wars which, in the course of that
period, have been waged by any of those sovereigns, whose pro-
jects of aggrandisement, and violations of treaty, afford a constant





4


1412


MR. PITT'S
[FE-8. 3.


theme of general reproach against the ancient government of
France ? And with these considerations before us, can we hesitate
whether we have the best prospect of permanent peace, the best
security fbr the independence and safety of Europe, from the
restoration of the lawful government, or from the continuance of
revolutionary power in the hands of Buonaparte ?


In compromise and treaty with such a power, placed in such
hands as now exercise it, and retaining the same means of annoy-
ance which it now possesses, I see little hope of permanent se-
curity. I see no possibility at this moment, of concluding such a
peace as would justify that liberal intercourse which is the es-
sence of real amity no chance of terminating the expenses 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 desi-
rous 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 pacent nolo? Quia infida est, quia periculosa, quia
esse 710%t 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 ih negotiation, 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 the subject on
which gentlemen have been so fond of dwelling; I mean our for-
mer negotiations, and particularly that at Lisle in 1797. I am


1800.) • PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.
desirous of stating frankly and openly the true motives which


induced me to concur in then recommending negotiation ; 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 b'
which we are guided at present. That revolutionary policy which
I have endeavoured to describe, that gigantic system of prodiga-'
lity and bloodshed by which the efforts of France were supported,
and which counts for nothing the lives and the property of a na-
tion, 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 principles, to doubt the possibility
of persisting in it, till complete and adequate security could be
obtained. There seemed, too, much reason to believe, that with-
out sonic 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 neces-




sary for the purpose could not then be expected, but from sa-
tisfying 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 ne-
gotiation, 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 inade-
quote means. The result of those negotiations 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




MR. PITT'S
[FEB. 3.


the efforts to which we are indebted for the subsequent change in
our situation. Having witnessed that happy change, having ob-
served 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 success-
ful result of negotiation, I have not scrupled to declare, that I
consider the rupture of the negotiation, 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 en-
deavouring to obtain peace ? The learned gentleman, indeed, as-
sumes that we were; and he even makes a concession, of which I
desire not to claim the benefit ; he is willing to admit, that on our
principles, and our view of the subject, insincerity would have
been justifiable. I know, Sir, no plea that would justify those
who are intrusted with the conduct of public affairs, in holding
out to parliament and to the nation one object while they were,
in fact, pursuing another. I did, in fact, 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 la-
boured 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 ex-
perience, 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 ob-
tained by treaty, we have the means of prosecuting the contest
without material difficulty or danger, and with a reasonable pro-
spect of completely attaining our object ? I will not dwell on the
improved state of public credit, on the continually increasing


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 115


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 ofpeace, which
we are deriving, in the midst of war, from our extended and
flourishing commerce ; on the progressive improvement and
growth of our manufactures ; on the proofs which 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 addi-
tional 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 to a height
unexampled in any period of our history.


In addition to these grounds of reliance on our own strength and
exertions, we have seen the consummate skill and valour of the
arms of our allies proved by that series of unexampled success
which distinguished the last campaign, and we have every reason
to expect a co-operation on the continent, even to a greater ex-
tent, 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 the force of the enemy, 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


VOL. L




144




116
MR. PITT'S- r [FEB. S.


articles of military supply, but almost of the necessaries of life ;
if


we see them now driven back within their own frontiers, and con-
fined 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 autho-
rised to conclude from it, not that we are entitled to consider
ourselves certain of ultimate success, not that we are to suppose
ourselves exempted from the unforeseen vicissitudes of war ; but
that, considering the value of the object for which we are con-
tending, the means for supporting the contest, and the probable
course of human events, we should be inexcusable, if at this mo-
ment. we were to relinquish the struggle on any grounds short of
entire and complete security against the greatest danger which
has ever yet threatened the world ; that from perseverance in
our efforts under such cir


cumstances, 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
jacohin 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 negotiation with the present Rulerof


France ; but that we are not therefore pledged to any unalter-
able det


ermination as to our future conduct ; that in this we
must be regulated by the course of events; and that it will be
the duty of His Majesty's ministers from time to time to adapt


1800.1
PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 147


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 farther continuance,
and to be governed by the result of all these considerations, in
the opinion and advice which they may offer to their sovereign.


The address was carried,
Ayes 265
Noes.......; 64


February 17. 1800.


Mr..PITT having moved the order of the day, for referring His Majesty's
message* to a committee of the whole House, to consider of a supply
to be granted to His Majesty ; and the House having resolved itself into
a committee accordingly, he then rose and said:—


The motion which I shall submit to the committee this day, is
founded upon a principle which has been often, and has recently
been recognised in this House, that we are to proceed in a
vigorous prosecution of the war ; a measure which we in corn-,
mon feel to be necessary for the safety, honour, and happiness


* " GEORGE R.


"
His Majesty is at present employed in concerting such engagements


with the Emperor of Germany, the Elector of Bavaria, and other powers
of the empire, as may strengthen the efforts of His Imperial Majesty, and
mlaterially conduce to the advantage of the common cause in the course
of the ensuing campaign; and His Majesty will give directions, that these
engagements, as soon as they shall have been completed and ratified;
shall be laid before the House. But, in order to ensure the benefit of
this co-operation at an early period, His Majesty is desirous of autho-
rising his minister to make (provisionally) such advances as may be
necessary, in the first instance, for this purpose; and His Majesty recom-
mends it to the House to enable him to make such provision accordingly.


G. -




1+8 MR. PITT'S
[FE:11. 17.


of this country. Those who were of opinion that His Majesty's
government acted wisely in declining negotiation at this period.
with the enemy, will not be backward in consenting to continue,
or, if necessary, to augment the force that may be deemed
proper to be used in the common cause, such as was employed
last year, or may be employed this, and which affords the best
prospect of success on the frontier of France. This gives, even
to France, an opportunity of relieving itself from a galling yoke
and obtaining a happy repose, and to its neighbours a hope of
permanent tranquillity. It affords a prospect of delivering the
remainder of the continent (for much of it was delivered during


- the last campaign) from the horror of a system which once
threatened even more than all Europe with total destruction.
These are among the great objects which we must endeavour to
accomplish. A hove all, we have to crush and disable the system of
jacobinism, or if we even fail in completely destroying that mon-
ster, we should at least persevere till we have weakened the instru-
ments and engines by which it propagates its principles ; for it is
generally agreed, that there can be no safety for Europe as long
as jacobinism remains strong and triumphant. Those, therefore,
I say, who were of opinion that His Majesty's ministers acted
wisely in declining to negotiate with the enemy at this moment,
will not be unwilling to assent to the motion with which I shall
have the honour of concluding. But I should hope that even
those who recommended negotiation, and who, I believe,
recommended it without much confidence of ultimate success,
if it were attempted, will acquiesce in the measure that I am
now going to propose. The majority of this House, and the
great majority of the people of this country, will, I am confident,
agree, that if the war is to be carried on at all, it should be
carried on upon that scale which is most likely to bring it to
an honourable, if possible a speedy, but at all events, to a secure
conclusion.


After what I have seen of the brilliant achievements last year,
it is not for me to say how much is to be expected from the exer-
tions of the Imperial arms; this is not for me to argue —it rests


1800.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 14'


upon a much better foundation than any argument can be. I am
aware, that there is fresh in the minds of those who are most


anxious for the honour of the common cause, a supposition that
there may not he the same co-operation of both the Imperial
courts, or that the same force will not be employed against France
in the present year, or the ensuing campaign, as there was the last


campaign. I take this opportunity of stating, that there is reason
to believe the Emperor of Russia will not employ his arms to the
same extent, if to any extent, against France, in conjunction
with Austria. I stated this on a former night. I stated also,
that there was no reason to believe that His Imperial Majesty, the
Emperor of Russia, will withdraw from the most cordial co-oper-
ation with this country, or cease to show his resolution not to
acquiesce with France, whilst it pursues a system, such as it does
now, that endangers the tranquillity of Europe and all its estab-
lishments. But if there were any grounds of apprehension that
His Imperial Majesty would withdraw all co-operation, I should
then take the liberty of urging that as an additional reason for the
measure which His Majesty has taken, and which was communi-
cated to us by his gracious message, part of which the committee
has just heard read ; and the committee will learn with satisfac-
tion, that the force from the power of Germany will be greater in
the ensuing campaign than it was in the last, great and brilliant
as its victories were : I should therefore expect the concurrence
of this committee to any measure which may be likely to further.
so very desirable an object. If the general object, therefore, be.
likely to meet the concurrence of the House, ashy recent discus-
sion the House has already declared and pledged itself it should,


might now proceed to my motion ; but there are some other
points upon which it is perhaps expected that I should touch
briefly. At this period of the year, and from circumstances
which I need not enumerate, we cannot have the treaties ready,
to be laid before parliament, therefore the House cannot judge
ultimately on the scheme, part only of which is now laid before
it; but I say there is already enough before us to make it incum-
bent on parliament, at this crisis, to enable His Majesty to make


/.3




MR. PITT'S


'EPEE. 17.
advances such as may prevent the enemy from having any advan-
tage by postponing the efforts of the allies beyond an early period,
or ofpreventing the campaign from being opened with that vigour
which the friends of the common cause against the common
enemy could wish : the great object of the present measure is to
gite spirit to the campaign at its commencement, and afterwards
due strength for its continuance on the part of the allies.


These are the two principles on which His Majesty's message
is founded; and the motion with which I shall have the honour
of concluding, is to give His Majesty's intention effect. I am not
aware of any objections that are likely to be made to this measure,irr should hear any, I shall endeavour to give them an answer.
There is only one point more to which I beg leave to allude, and
which was hinted at on a former day : I have stated, that from
the circumstances of the continent, the negotiations between us
and our allies are not fully concluded ; it is therefore impossible
for me to name the whole force to be employed, or the total
amount of the pecuniary assistance which this country is to afford
to His Imperial Majesty. I have already said, it is proposed in
the mean time that 500,0001. should be advanced by way of com-
mencement. At the same time, I am aware that gentlemen
would naturally expect I should state some general heads of what
we have in view by the measure now about to be submitted to the
committee. The object of it is to secure the co-operation of such
a force as His Majesty's ministers have reason to believe is likely
to be superior to any force the French can bring to the frontier.
The total amount of the advance upon this subject will probably
be two millions and a half; for the whole force to be employed
against France is considerably larger than it was last year. The
sum which is now proposed to be voted is only 500,0001. shall
therefore move, "That it is the opinion of this committee, that a
sum not exceeding; 500,0001. be granted to His Majesty, to enable
HisMajesty to make such advances as may be necessary for the
purpose of insuring, at an early period, a vigorous co-operation
of the Emperor of Germany; the Elector of Bavaria, and other
powers, in the ensuing campaign against the common enemy."


1800.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. lMr. Tierney in strong terms objected to the motion, challenging minis-
ters to define, if it were possible, the real aim and object of the war.
It is not, concluded he, the destruction of jacobin principles; it may
be the restoration of the house of Bourbon; but I would wish the right
honourable gentleman in one sentence to state, if he can, without his
ifs and buts, and special pleading ambiguity, what this object is. I ampersuaded he cannot; and that he calls us to prosecute a war, and to
lavish our treasure and blood in its support, when no one plain satis-
factory reason can be given for its continuance.


Mr. PITT. - The observation with which the honourable gen-
tleman concluded his speech, appears to the one of the strangest
I ever heard advanced, and first challenges my attention. He
defies me to state, in one sentence, what is the object of the
war. I know not whether I can do it in one sentence ; but in
one word, I can tell him that it is SECURITY; security against a
danger, the greatest that ever threatened the world. It is security
against a danger which never existed in any past period of society.
It is security against a danger which in degree and extent was
never equalled ; against a danger which threatened all the nations
of the earth ; against a danger which has been resisted by all the
nations of Europe, and resisted by none with so much success as
by this nation, because by none has it been resisted so uniformly,
and with so much energy. This country alone, of all the nations
of Europe, presented barriers the best fitted to resist its progress.


We alone recognised the necessity of open war, as well with the
principles, as the practice of the French revolution. We saw
that it was to be resisted no less by arms abroad, than by pre--
caution at home; that we were to look for protection no less to
the courage of our forces, than to the wisdom of our councils; no
less to military effort, than to legislative enactment. At the
moment when those, who now admit the dangers of jacobinism
while they contend that it is extinct, used to palliate its atrocity,
and extenuate its mischief, this House wisely saw that it was ne-
cessary to erect a double safeguard against a danger that wrought
no less by undisguised hostility than by secret machination. But
how long is it since the honourable gentleman and his friends have
discovered that the dangers of jacobinism have ceased to exist ?


L


J50




15'2
MR. PITT'S


R [FEB. 17
ow long is it since they have found that the cause of the Frenchrevolution is


not the cause of liberty ? How or where did thehonourable gentleman di
scover that the jaeobinism of Robes-pierre, of B


arrere, the jacohinism of the Triu mvirate, the jaco-binism of the Five Directors, which he
ackn


owledged to be real,has all v
anished and disappeared, because it has all been cen-tered and con


densed into one man who was reared and nursed
inits bosom, whose celebrity was gained under its


auspices, whowas at once the child and the champion of all its atrocities andhorrors ? Our security in n negotiation
who is now the sole or




is to be this Buonaparte,an of


erous
and pestiferous in the Revolution.


all


gJ that bin
was


ism
formerly dun
is allowed formerlyto have existed, because the power was


divided. Now it issingle, and it no longer lives. This discovery is new, and Iknow not how it has been made.
But the honourable gen tleman asks, What is our intention ? Heasks, Whether the war is to be carried on till jacobinistn is finallyextinguished ? If he means that war is to be carried on till jaco-bin ism has either lost its sting or is


abridged in its power to doevil, I say that this is the object of our
exertions. I do not


saythat we must wage war until the principle of j


-


acobinism is extinguished in the mind of every individual ; were that the objectof the contest, I am afraid it would not
terminate but with thepresent ge


neration. I am afraid that a mind once tainted withthat infection, never recovers its h
ealthful state. I am afraid thatno purification is sufficient to e


radicate the poison of that fouldistemper. Even those, we
see,


who so loudly tell us now thatthe danger of jacobinism is past, are endeavouring to disarmus of the means of carrying
on the war we now wage againstits remnant, by those arts
which they employed to bend usdown before its meridians


plendour. They tell us again, that,by resisting that pestilent mischief, we are promoting distress,that we are despising humanity. They
tell us that we havespent two hundred millions for


a phrase—for the words " justand necessary." hope, Sir,
that the people of this country %yinnot begoverned by words. No, Sir, the people of


England


1800.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.
163


will not be so misled. We have spent two hundred millions : but
what has been the object what have been the fruits of this ex.
penditure ? If this country has spent two hundred millions, they
have been spent to preserve the sources of its prosperity, its
happiness, its glory, its freedom. Yes, Sir, we have spent that
sum ; and I trust we are ready, as I am sure we are able, to
spend two hundred millions more for purposes so great and im-
portant. I trust this country is ready to exert its efforts to avail
ourselves of the assistance of our allies to obtain real security,
and to attain solid peace.


It is true that in this contest different opinions may exist as to
the means by which the danger is to be resisted; the Emperor of
Russia may approve of one course ; the Emperor of Germany
may adopt another. But is it not strange that the honourable
gentleman should be so particularly displeased that we should be
desirous of the co-operation of the Emperor of Germany, who
has not gone so flar in his declarations on the subject of the war
as the Emperor of Russia? Is it a ground of objection with the
honourable gentleman, that we should avail ourselves of the as-
sistance of those who do not declare themselves in favour of that
object which he professes himself particularly to disapprove ? If,
as I do not believe, the Emperor of Germany did not see any
danger in French principles; if, as I do not believe, the Emperor
of Germany considers it as no desirable object to overthrow that
government by which they are embodied and organised, yet are
we to refuse the co-operation of that, power which may so essen-
tially contribute to promote that security which we have in view ?
Without changing our own objects, may we not avail ourselves of
the aid of other powers, though the motives of the co-operation
may not be those which dictate our own exertions ? Admitting
that the Emperor of Germany has no other view but to regain
possession of the Netherlands, to drive the enemy back to the
Rhine, to recover the fortresses which it was for a moment forced
-to abandon, are these objects which we have no interest to pro-
mote? are these designs which have no relation to British policy


no connection with British safety? Whatever be the pro-




I:;4.
MR. PITT'S
[Fes. 17'fessions


of Austria, she must dread the h ostility of French prin-
ciples, she must distrust the security of


republican peace. Why,then, should we be unwilling to employ the
co


-operation ofAustrian arms for objects in which we ourselves are so
nearlyconcerned ? It is our duty, it is our highest interest to


encouragethe exertions, and to promote the views of Austria, with
whichour own security is so materially concerned.


The h
onourable gentleman took another ground of


argument,to which I shall now follow him. He said, that the war could
not be just, because it was carried on for the


restoration of the
house of Bourbon ; and, secondly, that it could not be necessary,
because we had refused to n


egotiate for peace when an oppor-tunity for negotiation was offered us. As to the first proposition,that it cannot be just, because it is carried on for the restoration
of the house of Bourbon, he has assumed the foundation of theargument, and has left no ground for con troverting it, or for
explanation, because he says that any attempt at


explanation
upon this subject is the mere ambiguous unintelligible language


ifs and buts, and of
special pleading. Now, Sir, I never had


much liking to special pleading ; and if ever I had any, it TS by
this time almost entirely gone. He has besides so abridged me of
the use of particles, that though I am not particularly attached
to the sound of an for a but, I would be much obliged to thehonourable gentleman if he would give me some others to supply
their places. Is this, however, a light matter, that it should be
treated in so light a manner ? The restoration of the French mo-narchy, I


will still tell the honourable gentleman, I consider as a
most desirable object, because I think that it would afford the
strongest and best security to this country and to Europe.


Butthis object may not be attainable; and if it be not attainable, we
must be satisfied with the best security which we can find index
pendent of it. Peace is


most desirable to this country ; butnegotiation may be attended with greater
evils than could beco


unterbalancedby any benefits Which would result from it. Andif
this be found to be the case; Vitafford no prospect of security ;/fit


threaten all the evils which we have been struggling to avert ;


1800J
PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 155


if the prosecution of the war afford the prospect of attaining com-plete security ; and Vit may be prosecuted with increasing com-
merce, with increasing means, and with increasing prosperity,
except what may result from the visitations of the seasons; then


'I
say,. that it is prudent in us not to negotiate at the present


moment. These are my buts and my Vs. This is my plea, and


on no other do I wish to be tried, by God and my country.


The honourable gentleman says, that we reduce our own means
in the same proportion that we exhaust those of the enemy. Is
this, indeed, the conclusion which we must draw from a survey of
the respective situations of France and England, since the nego-


...tiation at Paris, and particularly those as Lisle? Does the honour-
able gentleman really think, that the means of this country have
been exhausted in the same proportion with those of the enemy ?
Does he think that the expense of a new campaign will produce
that effect? On these grounds of comparison the question is to
be decided, and not upon those topics, which are adduced to
create a prejudice against the war, and those insidious represent-
ations employed to render it unpopular. It is, indeed, to be-
come the allies of jacobinism ; to connect, as some affect to do,
the present scarcity with the subject of the war. It is, indeed,
to resort to its most destructive weapons, thus to appeal to the
feelings of the multitude and call upon them to decide on such-
a ground upon a question, of which, in their coolest state, they
are, perhaps, unqualified to judge. When we see such arts
eniployed, I think it pretty strong proof that jacobinism is nor
extinct. If indeed we find that it is still alive even in the minds
of spectators, what influence must it not possess with those who
are involved in its scenes, and who rule by its influence?


It is said, however, that I endeavour to prevent the freedom of
deliberation, by saying, that parliament, by its former vote, is
pledged to this particular measure. Most certainly I have no such
intention; on the contrary, I stated only, that those who think the
war should be continued, must approve of every means by which
it can he carried on with vigour and success. The question then
is, whether the measure is calculated for that end ? if it is, it would




156
MR. PITT'S


[FEB. 17
be to suppose parliament guided by no consistent view, if it did
not meet with its approbation. That the honourable gentleman
and his friends should oppose the measure, I should be disposed
to ascribe, not so much to their disapproving it, as to their op-
position to the war itself. I took it for granted, indeed, that
even some of those who opposed the war itself, might


acquiesce
in this measure, because I trust their sentiment is sincere ; they
cannot prevent the war they must be desirous to see it carried
on with vigour and success. If they had no other object but to
palsy our efforts, to disarm our force in the prosecution of a
contest, which their votes cannot prevent ; their objects would be
criminal, their language would be mischievous. I hope, however,
that the feelings, which, in candour, I supposed gentlemen on,
the other side to possess, will net be belied by their conduct.


The honourable gentleman says, that though his friends are
few, they have represented the opinions of the country on a former
occasion, and that they now represent it in their expressed desire
of peace. If lie meant this in the full sense of his expressions, it
is another proof that jacobinisrn is not yet overthrown ; for it
one of its most favourite principles, that the few who compose the
sect, represent the opinion of the many. I recollect an expression
of an honourable gentleman *, who now seldom favours us with
his presence, when speaking of himself and his friends, " the few
who express the voice of the people," which is nearly the same
with the language of the honourable gentleman this night. But I
must require a little more evidence than either of them ever pro-
duced, to prove that they speak, or ever have spoken, the voice
of the country. On the occasion alluded to, when government
thought it expedient to make an attempt at negotiation, I deny
that the voice of the majority of the country was for peace : but
many entertained a hope that there was some chance of security
in negotiation, and wished the attempt to be made. Government'
coincided with them in opinion ; but very few now regret, from
what has since occurred in France, and from every part of her
conduct, that the attempt did fail ; and I am confident, that the


'* Mr. Fox.


1800.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 157


majority of the country is not now represented 13y those gentle-
men who are eager for negotiation, and who wish for peace with-
out security and without stability. I am no enemy to peace ; but
I must think that the danger of patching up a peace without •
any probable ground of permanency, is greater even than that of.
carrying on a war. With respect to the negotiation at Lisle, I
believed at that moment that the prosecution of the war was
fraught with more danger to the country than the establishment of
peace, if peace could have been concluded on such terms as were
then proposed to the enemy. It was the result of a comparison
between the farther prosecution of the war, and the then existing
state of the country ; a state different from that in which, I am
happy to say, the country finds itself at this moment. I tun free,
Sir, to say, that the prevalence ofjacobinical principles in France
does not at present allow me to hope for a secure peace. As I de-
clared upon a former occasion, without that attempt to obtain
peace, we could not have made those subsequent exertions which
have proved so successful. But because of our present increased
means for carrying on the war, I ask the honourable gentleman,
is it fair in him to argue that I was insincere in labouring for
peace at a time, when the circumstances of the country dictated
the expedience of attempting it?


We are told, however, that our policy ought to be changed, as
the Russians are no longer to co-operate with Austria. But may
not the Russians be employed with advantage in the common
cause, though they no longer act immediately in conjunction with
the Austrians ? It is not for me to point out the particular way in
which their force may be directed in conjunction with the move,
able maritime force which this country possesses. I need not,
say how, while the frontiers of France are invested by a power-
ful military force, the Russians may co-operate in supporting
those insurrections which actually prevail, and, which threaten to
break out in every part of France. May not these efforts produce
a great and valuable diversion for the Russians ? This is sufficient
to show that their co-operation may still he extremely valuable.




To say more would be no less improper than unnecessary.




I5$
MR. PITT': [Fse. 17.


If, however, the Russians are not to assist the cause by their
efforts upon the continental frontier of France, does it not be-
come the policy of England, does it not consist with the wisdom
of parliament, to employ every means to supply the loss which
their departure will occasion ? The measure in question aims at
that object. It aims at procuring such reinforcements to the
military exertions of our allies, as promise a vigorous and suc-
cessful campaign. Upon a comparison, indeed, of the forces of
France, with those which our allies will he enabled to bring
against her, we will find that the latter are greatly superior. I
cannot absolutely pledge myself that the forces orTrance shall
not be increased in such a manner as to equal, if not outnumber
those of the allies, but on every ground of conjecture the
will maintain that superiority which they possessed last cam-
paign. The measure in question is intended to secure that ef-
fectual co-operation, those military exertions which promise
success ; and if the propriety of persevering in the contest be
admitted, as it has been, by the House, I cannot conceive whV
argument can be 1450d against that which seems so necessaryto
its favourable issue.


An honourable gentleman* stated with a gravity which seemed
to testify his sincerity in what he advanced, that twelve millions
will be necessary to procure that supply of grain which this coun-
try_ requires. I trust that it will appear in the consideration of
the.'report of the corn-committee, that there has already been a
very considerable supply of corn obtained, and that there is not
so much to be apprehended on the score of scarcity as some sup-
pose. But, besides that the honourable gentleman exaggerates
the supply that will be required, he infers that we shall not be
able to find pecuniary resources both for the war and to obviate
the danger of scarcity. Doubtless, however, there is no difficulty
in supplying both demands. No man who thinks the war right
and politic will suppose that we ought to. withhold those supplies
which are neeeary to sApport, the contest with vigour, and
bring it to a successful. termination, because there happens to


Nr. 'Nicholls,


1800.1 PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. IS;


exist a scarcity which has no connection with the war, and
which the prosecution of it can in no way affect- The-fallacy
of ascribing that scarcity to the war is no less unfounded in
reasoning than it is mischievous in its consequences.


It is for the House, then, to decide whether, in supporting this
measure, we have judged on good grounds. If any man thinks he
sees the means of bringing the contest to an earlier termination
than by vigorous effort and military operations, he is justified in
opposing the measures which are necessary to carry it on with
energy. Those who consider the war to be expedient, cannot,
with consistency, refuse their assent to measures calculated to
bring it to a successful issue. Even those who may disapprove
of the contest, which they cannot prevent by their votes, cannot
honestly pursue that conduct which could tend only to render
its termination favourable to the enemy. God forbid I should
question the freedom of thought, or the liberty of speech! but
I cannot see how gentlemen can justify a language and a con-
duct which can have no tendency but to disarm our exertions,
and to defeat our hopes in the prosecution of the contest. They
ought to limit themselves to those arguments which could in-
fluence the House against the war altogether, not.dwell upon
topics which can tend only to weaken our efforts and betray ow
cause. Above all, nothing can be more unfair in reasoning,
than to ally the present scarcity with the war, or to insinuate
that its prosecution will interfere with those supplies which 17,T
may require. I am the more induced to testify thus publicly
the disapprobation which such language exacts in ray mind,
when I observe the insidious use that is made of it, in promoting
certain measures out of doors; a language, indeed, contrary
to all honest principle, and, repugnant to every sentiment of
public duty.


For the motion......... /se
Against it......„ .... .. ..




hi° MR. PITT'S
[Aram 21. It00.3


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 161


April 21. 1800.
THE House, pursuant to the order of thc day, resolved itself into a


committee, to consider of His Majesty's message relative to the proposi-
tions of the Irish parliament, for an incorporating Union with Great Bri-
tain; and Mr. Sylvester Douglas having taken thc chair of the committee,


Mr. PITT rose:


Sir, — The sentiments of this and the other House have
been so clearly and decisively expressed in the vote which was
given on this important subject during the last session of par-
liament, that I feel it altogether unnecessary to resew the
arguments then advanced and acceded to with respect to the ad-
vantage, expedience, and necessity of the measure. Recollecting,
that the grounds then offered for the union of both kingdoms were
so solid and unalterable as to meet with an almost universal con-
currence; and also recollecting that the subsequent discussions
which have taken place in the parliament of the sister kingdom,
must have confirmed and riveted the decision so unequivocally,
manifested in this country, 1 shall only trouble the committe o
far as to Fecal the magnitude of the question which is noiii sub-
mitted to their consideration, and to remind them, that it is not
one partial consideration, not a single provision, however great
it might he, which claims their attention, but a consideration in
which the dearest and most essential interests of both countries
are most intimately connected. If we wish to accomplish the great
work that we have undertaken, we must look to the whole of this
important and complicated question ; we must look at it in a large
and comprehensive point of view ; we must consider it as a mea-
sure of great national policy, the object of which is effectually to
counteract the restless machinations of an inveterate enemy, who
has uniformly and anxiously endeavoured to effect a separation
between two countries, whose connection is as necessary for the
safety of the one, as it is for the prosperity of the other. We
must look to this as the only measure we can adopt which can
calm the dissentions, allay the animosities, and dissipate the
jealousies which have unfortunately existed; as a measure whose


object is to communicate to the sister kingdom the skill, the capi-
tal, and the industry, which have raised this countr y to such a
pitch of opulence ; to give to her a full participation of the corn- ,
merce and of the constitution of England ; to unite the affections
and resources of two powerful nations, and to place under one
public will the direction of the whole force of the empire : We.
must consider this as a measure, Sir, the object of which is'to
afford an effectual remedy for those imperfections which exist in
that precarious system that at present binds the two countries to-
gether ; a system which, if an incorporate union should unfortu-
nately not take place, may ultimately. tend to their separation.


Sir, when these are the objects which are to be obtained by
this measure, the committee will not, I am sure, consider it as a
measure of partial or local convenience, or of partial or local
sacrifice ; but in forming their opinions they will consider its:
general effect upon the whole of the aggregate of the empire. In
deciding on this question, we ought to be actuated by another
feeling, a feeling which it is not - necessary- for me to state, be-
cause the magnanimity of every gentleman must have suggested
it to his own mind. In the union of a great nation with a less,
we must feel that we ought not to be influenced by any selfish
policy, that we ought not to be actuated by any narrow views of
partial advantage. We must refute by our conduct (what indeed
we might have hoped our terms had already refuted, if what fell
from an honourable gentleman this day did not unfortunately
prove.that a degree of unaccountable prejudice still existed) the,
idea that we have any other object in view than that of promoting
the mutual advantage of both kingdoms. We 'mist show that we
are not grasping at financial advantages, that we are not looking
for commercial monopoly ; we must show that we wish to make
the empire more powerful and more secure, by making Ireland
more free and more happy. These, Sir, are the views — these
are the only views with which I could ever have proposed this
measure ; and it iswith these views alone'that it can be rendered
effectual to its object, and establish mutual harmony and con-
fidence between the two nations.


VOL. III.




162 MR. PITT'S
[APRIL 21.


–.9,terri is not merely a sentiment of generosity and magnanimity
influences her conduct ; in thus striking a balance between


two nations, justice requires that the greater share of advantage
should fall to the less powerful one. Fortunately such has been
the rapid progress which this country has made in commerce and
in capital, that it has arrived at a degree of prosperity unexam.-
pied in the history of the world ; that it is in a situation in which
perhaps no other country ever was, either to treat with a friend,
or to contend with an enemy ; such are the rapid and unprece-
dented advantages which we are makingin commercial prosperity,
that, admitting that the adoption of this measure might be at tend-
ed with particular inconvenience and local disadvantage, the
wealth which the country will acquire, even while this discussion
is going on, would much more than compensate for such parti-
cular loss. It is not necessary for me to detain the committee by-
dilating any more upon this part of the subject ; I flatter myself
that every gentleman who hears me, concurs with me in every
sentiment which I have advanced. If, with feelings such as these,
we proceed to the examination of these articles, with an intention
of not overlooking any pert of them, of examining them With a
view to see whether they may require any alteration, but at the
same time with a firm determination not to suffer small difficulties
to stand in the way of important national arrangements and
advantages ; if, Sir, I say, we are actuated by these feelings, I
hope the century will not conclude without the accomplishing of
this great national work, which will give a full participation of our
wealth and happiness to millions of our fellow-subjects


which
*ill place upon a firm basis the connection between the two
countries, and will augment and secure the strength and pros-
perity of the empire.


I will not trouble the committee with any further observations
of a general nature ; I will now take a view of the resolutions
which have been laid before us, and which- have been agreed to
by the.parliament of Ireland. Itwill be necessary for us to see how
far they accord with those which were agreed to last sessions in the
British parliament ; and how far that which they have altered,


1800.] PA P,LIAMENTA RY SPEECHES. 163


or added, is objectionable. In looking at them with this view, it
will be seen that the first article merely relates to the name of the
United Kingcloms,:upon which I apprehend no difference of opinion
can subsist. The second article relates to the succession of the
crown, and which is precisely the same as that which was agreed
to by the parliament of Great Britain. In the third article is the
beginning of the detail which must necessarily take place in
treaties of this sort between independent nations. It divides itself
into five leading branches, viz. the regulations with respect to the
imperial legislature ; the provisions for the security of the estab-
lished church ; the regulation of the commercial intercourse
between the two countries ; the arrangement of their respective
proportions with respect to revenue ; and finally, the provisions
relative to courts of justice. In examiningand deciding upon these
resolutions, I must beg gentlemen to compare them with those
which were agreed to by the parliament of Great Britain, and
transmitted to Ireland. In our resolutions we agreed that the
whole of the United Kingdom should be represented in one im-
perial parliament — we stated, that the number and proportion
which the members from Ireland should bear to those of Great
Britain, and the regulations respecting the mode of their election,
should be such as might be finally agreed upon by the respective
parliaments of the two kingdoms. In these resolutions the par-
liament of Ireland have stated their opinions upon these points ;
the first and most important of which is, the share which they
ought to have in the representation in the House of Commons.


Upon a full consideration of the subject, the parliament of
Ireland are of opinion, that the number of representatives for
Ireland in the House of Commons ought to be one hundred.
Upon this subject, the first question to which I have to call the
attention of gentlemen (supposing that they adhere to the resolu-
tions of last session) is, whether the number so mentioned by the
parliament of Ireland is so reasonable, and founded in such fair
proportions, that we ought to agree to it ? For my own part,
Sir, I will fairly confess, that upon this part of the subject it does
appear to me extremely difficult to find any precise ground upon


.12 2




' M'ITT'S
[Amur, 21.


which to form -a correct calculation, or to entertain a positive
preference for any one specific number-of tnenibers rather than
another : but I am the less anxious -about it, because I do not
consider the consequences as very important. In my view of re-.
presentation, founded upon the experience of our constitution,
think we are entitled to say, that if a nation becomes united with
us in interests and in affection, it is a-matter of but small import-
ance-whether the number of representatives from one part


. of the
United•Empire be greater or less. If there are enough to flake
known the local wants, to state the interests, and convey the sen-
timents of the part of the empire they represent, it will produce
that degree of general security, which-will be wanting in.any vain
attempt to obtain that degree of theoretical perfection, about
which in modern times we have heard so much. Considering it
in this point of view, (if the _interests of the tivo countries are


- identified, and the number of representatives are adequate to the
purposes I have mentioned,) I really think' the precise number is
not a matter of great importance. At the same time, when it
is necessary


• that the number should be fixed, it is necessa,
tohave-recourse to-some p rinciple-to.guide our determination; and


I am not aware of any one that can more properly be adopted,
than that which was laid down in the discussions upon this part of
the subject in the parliament of Ireland.; I mean a reference to


- the supposed population of the two countries, and to the proposed
rate.


of.contribution. I do not think that the proportion of the
population, or the capability of contribution, taken separately,
would either of tlient form so good a criterion as when taken
together; but even when combined, I do not mean to say that they
are perfectly accurate. Taking this principle, it will appear that
the proportion of contribution proposed to be established, is


seven
and a half for Great Britain, •and one for Ireland


.; and that, inthe proportion of population, Great Britain is to Ireland as two
and a half, or three to one : so that the result, upon a combina-
tion of these two, will be something more than five to one in favour
of Great Britain, which is about the proportion that it is proposed
to establish between the representatives of the two countries.


PARLIAMENTARY- SPEECHES. rtI5I800.]
respect to the mode in which these memberb are to be


selected in order to be sent over to the imperial parliament, it is
such as in my opinion must prevent the possibility of any suspi-
cion arising in the minds of gentlemen. It is obvious that no wish
was entertained by those by whom these articles were proposed,
to introduce an additional number of members, with any view to
an augmentation of the influence of the crown. If it is admitted
that it would be highly inconvenient to add the whole of the House
of Commons of Ireland, which consists of three hundred members,
to that of Great Britain, it is obvious that some principle of se-
lection must be resorted to ; and I cannot conceive any one that
could havebeen adopted more equitable or satisfactory for Ireland,
or less liable to objection. The plan proposed is, that the mem-
bers of the counties, and of the principal commercial cities, should
remain entire. With respect to the remaining members to make
up the number of a hundred, without thinking of abstract princi-
ples, without talking about the difference between one description
of boroughs and another, being obliged to make a selection; the
plainest and most obvious mode is resorted to, with a view to the
obtaining of local information, and to the security of the landed
interest. The remaining members are to be selected from those
places which are the most considerable in point of population and
wealth. Those gentlemen who have objected to the introduc-
tion of theoretical reforms in the constitution, and in the repre-
sentation of tins country, will find that there is nothing in this


. plan which has a tendency towards that object, or which makes
a distinction between different parliamentary rights. The plan
which it is proposed to adopt, is the only one that could have
been recurred to, without trenching upon the constitution. The
committee must perceive, that, in acquiescing in this regulation,
they will consent to an addition to the existing House of Com-
mons, without making any, the slightest, alteration in our inter-
nal forms ; that this regulation is conformable to the resolution-
which last year met with the approbation of the parliament of
Great Britain ; and that no alteration is proposed in the num-
bers of the British House of Commons.


I'd 3




• 166
MR. PITT'S


EAPitn, 21,
It would not, perhaps, be neeessary'for me to say any thing


more upon this topic; yet knowing, Sir, how strong some opinions
are on the subject, and knowing the share I formerly had myself
in sentiments of that nature, I must declare that I (lb not wish
to avoid the discussion. I rather desire to disclose my most
secret thoughts upon the question of reform, as I do not think my-
self authorised, from a firm conviction of their purity and justice,
to decline any investigation upon that topic, respecting which I
did once entertain a different opinion. Whatever change iiay be
found necessary in the parliament of Ireland, I maintair?, Sir,
that, by preserving the frame of the British parliament, we have
one great and very peculiar advantage, of which it is impossible
for any sophistry, for any arts, for any violence to deprive us.
We have found this vast benefit in our adherence to practice in
two distinguished instances; I mean with respect to Wales and
Scotland. The union of England with both those countries was
effected without anyinjury to the frame of the English parliament,
and the effects resulting from that system have been productive
of the most permanent utility. It might have been urged an
objection a priori, that the frame of parliament should be altered,
but, fortunately for us, our ancestors preferred the preservation
of that which experience had rendered dear to them. But, Sir,


subjwhatever may have been the opinions of different men upon theect of reform, since it was first agitated in this country, I
do not assume too much in saying it is now generally admitted,
that we ought not to alter any thing beyond the immediate object
of the alteration itself, and that we are called upon to do that
with as little change as is consistent with the efficacy of the mea-
sure. In other words, Sir, I contend that it is necessary to confine
the proposed change to that which requires to be changed, leaving
every thing else entire. We are therefore to limit our altera-
tions to Ireland, whose situation so imperiously calls for alteration,
and to leave England untouched, and entire in the enjoyment of
that which has uniform constituted its certain defence and pro.
tection. But this is,riot all, and I beg leave to trouble the com-
mittee with a few more remarks, since this consideration he


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.1S00-] 167


occurred in the discussion of the articles of union. - If any gen-
tleman recollects how little the friends of reform have at any
time agreed upon a specific plan, how little the sense of the pub-
lic has ever declared in favour of reform, how difficult the mea-
sure has been at all times allowed to be by its most enlightened
and zealous supporters ; how jarring and contradictory the opi-
nions of those persons who patronised it must have been ; I say,
Sir, if gentlemen recollect all these striking and unanswerable
circumstances; I shall only ask them, would it be wise and con-
sistent to connect the question of union with the question of re-
form ? If the union be of itself a measure of great difficulty, as it
is generally admitted, I appeal to the candour of every man,
would it be prudent, would it be safe, to involve it in a question
of the greatest perplexity, of the most embarrassing nature, and
attended with fatal consequences as to our internal interest?


On the ground then of prudence, what I have said must I think
alone be sufficient : but as I do not wish tdhave the least reserve
with the House, I must say, that if any thing could throw a doubt
upon the question of union — if any thing could in my mind
counterbalance the advantages that must result from it, it would
be the necessity of disturbing the representation of England:. but
that necessity fortunately does not exist. Iu stating this, Sir, I
have not forgotten what I have myself formerly said and sincerely
felt upon this subject ; but I know that ail opinions must neces-
sarily be subservient to times and circumstances ; and that Man
who talks of his consistency merely because he holds the same
opinion for ten or fifteen years, when the circumstances under
which that opinion was originally formed are totally changed, is a
slave to the most idle vanity. Seeing all that I have seen since the
period to which I allude ; considering how little chance there is
of that species of reform to which alone I looked, and which is as
different from the modern schemes of reform ; as the latter are from
the constitution; seeing that where the greatest changes havetaken
place, the most dreadful consequences have ensued, and which
have not been confined to that country where the change teak
place, but have spread their malignantinfluence almost in every


IA




3 68 AIL PIT 'S
FAPRIL 21,


quarter of the globe, and shaken the fabric of every government;
seeing that in this general shock the constitution of Great Britain
has alone remained pure and untouched in its vital principles
[A cry of " Hear ! Hear !" on the opposition side] — I wish gen-
tlemen would hear me, and then answer rte — when I see that it
has resisted all the efforts of jacobinism, sheltering itself under the
pretence of a love of liberty ; when I see that it has supported
itself against the open attacks of its enemies, and against more
dangerous reforms of its professed friends ; that it has defeated
the unwearied machinations of France, and the no lesipersever-
ing efforts of jacobins in England, and that during the whole
of the contest it has uniformly maintained the confidence of the
people of England ;—I say, Sir, when I consider all these circum-
stances, I should be ashamed of myself, if any former opinions of
mine could now induce me to think that the form of represent-
ation.


which, in such times as the present, has been
roll d amply


sufficient purpose of protecting the interests and s ming
the happiness of the people, should be idly and wanton y dis-turbed from any love of ex periment, or any predilectiomfor heory.
U on this subject, think it right to state the inmost t lought•
of my mind ; I think it right to declare my most decided opinion,
that, even if the times were proper for experiments, any, even
the slightest change in such a constitution must be considered
as an evil. I have been led farther into this subject, from the
temporary i


nterruption which I met with, than I intended : but
I did not mean to have passed by the subject of the Irish mem-
bers, without accompanying it with some observations on British
representation.


I have next to state, that however these members may be cho-
sen, there is one consideration which cannot fail to press itself
upon oar minds ; I mean, that by the laws of England care has
been taken to prevent the influence of the crown from becoming
too great, by too many offices being held by mernbersof parliament.
In Ireland there are laws of a similar nature, but not quite to the
same extent; so that it might happen that in the hundred Mall-
bers to be chosen, there may be a great number bolding places.


1800.3 PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


169


It will occur to gentlemen that some provision ought to be made
upon this subject. I feel this sentiment as strongly as any man
but gentlemen must be aware that it is impossible to provide
against it by an article of union, to be binding upon the united par-
liament, because we have found from experience, that the num-
ber of offices to be held by members must always remain in the
discretion of parliament, to be regulated front time to time as
circumstances may require. On the other hand. if no regulation
upon this subject is at present made, it may happen that in the
first hundred members chosen there may be a great number hold-
ing places,. and consequently under the influence of the crown,
who will have to decide in the imperial parliament, upon the ex-
tent to which that influence ought to extend. The committee will
recollect, that the greater number of the members that are to come
over, will be the representatives of counties and the great com-
mercial towns. Of these I believe there are not above five or six
who hold offices. With respect to the remainder, it must be ob-
vious., from the manner in which they are to be chosen; that it is
impossible to ascertain exactly the number of offices they may
hold ; they cannot, however, exceed the number of twenty. Un-
less, therefore, the numbers of those holding places were so great
as to excite real jealousy, it would not be necessary to deprive
them of their places in the first instance, as their numbers would
not be sufficient to have any great effect in deciding upon the
question of the extent of the influence of the crown. 1 understand
that a motion was made by a gentleman last week for an estimate
upon this subject; but he must beware that such an estimate could
not be made up in this country, nor even in Ireland, without
great difficulty. I think nothing can be more fair than what I
shall propose, viz. that no more than twenty of the persons so
coming over shall hold places ; and if it shall happen that a great-
er number of them than twenty hold places during pleasure, then
these who have last accepted them shall vacate their seats; this
will, upon the whole, 1 think, obviate every objection that can
be made in point of principle.


We then proceed to the number of the other House of pasha-
meat; and their precise number, I own, does not appearto me a




170 MR. PITT'S
[APRIL 21,


matter that calls for close investigation or minute enquiry. The
number for Scotland, as we all know, is sixteen to represent the
peerage, and for the commons forty-five. There


may, indeed, be
another view of considering it on the


.part of Ireland, different
from that of Scotland, which is true to a given extent, and on
which I shall observe hereafter ; but in the view in which I take
it at present, and thinking as I do, that the whole should be a
r
epresentation having for its object the general welfare of the


empire, the number cannot be very material ; besides, we are to
look at Ireland as represented locally by thirty peers, aril also
by those peers in England who possess great part of their pro-•
perty in Ireland ; so that in comparison of the thirty-two Irish
peers, there may be said to be no less than one-fifth to be added
from the peers of Great Britain. 'With respect to the manner in
which they are to be chosen, I can only say, that I have never
heard of any objection to the arrangement which is proposed in
the resolutions of the Irish parliament ; should any opposition
be offered to that branch of the subject, I should say, that,the
choice of the peers to represent the Irish nobility for life, is
mode that is more congenial to the general spirit and system of
the establishment of a peerage, than that of their being septen-
nially elected, as the nobility of Scotland are : upon the whole
of that topic, I am satisfied that no gentleman in this House will
think this part of the arrangement in any degree improper.


Another part branching out of this subject, is that which has
attracted a great deal of observation —I mean the right reserved
for the peers of Ireland, who are not elected to represent their
own peerage, to the members of the House of Commons of the
united parliament in Great Britain, until they shall happen to be
elected to represent the nobility of their own country. This has
been described and stated as a subject fit for ridicule ; I own I
see it in no such light. If, indeed, they were subject to be chosen
alternately to represent the lords and commons of Ireland, the ol›,
jection would be well founded; but here they are not so ; for when
they are chosen to represent the nobility, they are so for life, and'
can never return to the House of Commons : and by the way, I


IS00.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 171


consider this a better mode than that which was adopted with
regard to the nobility of Scotland ; and my reason for it is this,
that a nobleman in Ireland, if not chosen by his own order, may
be chosen as a legislator by a class of inferior rank, and which I am
so far from regarding as improper, that I deem it in a high degree
advantageous to the empire, analogous to the practice, as well
as friendly to the spirit, of the British constitution. We know
full well the advantages we have experienced from having, in this
House, those who in the course of descent, as well as in hopes of
merit, have had a prospect of sitting in our House of Peers.
Those, therefore, who object to this part of the arrangement, can
only do so from the want of due attention to the true character
of our constitution, one of the great leading advantages of which
is, that a person may, for a long time, be a member of one.
branch of the legislature, and have it in view to become a mem-
ber of another branch of it; this it is which constitutes the
leading difference between the nobility of Great Britain and those
of other countries. With us, they are permitted to have legis-
lative power before they arrive at their higher stations ; and as
they are, like all the rest of mankind, to be improved by ex-
perience in the science of legislation as well as that of every
other, our constitution affords that opportunity, by their being
eligible to seats in this House from the time of their majority,
until, in the course of nature, their ancestors make way for them
in another House of legislation. This is one of those circumstances
which arise frequently in practice ; but the advantages of which
do not appear in theory, until chance happens to cast them before
%Ls, and makes them subjects of discussion. These are the shades
of the British constitution, in which its latent beauties consist.
Now, upon this principle, and with this experience, I would ask,
if any Irish peer should come to his fortune, and who was well
qualified to take a seat in this House, whether any man would
feel it an improper thing, and in any way inconsistent with the
practice of our constitution, or the general system of our legis-
lature, for such a person to have a seat in this House ? I would ask
any man what objection he had against such a person mixing with
us in this House? I say there can be none. I say further: that




172 MR. PITYS[Aprtie 2,L
this is an advantage to the nobility of Ireland, and an improve-
ment in the system of representation in the House.


The next point is, the power reserved for His Majesty to create
.new peers. The objection is, that they may be too large for the
constituent body, and occasion a great deal of inconvenience to
that which is elective. To this I answer, that they can never
exceed a given number, and that it is necessary to give this power
to the crown ; for that the titles in Ireland are under very dif-
ferent circumstances from those of Scotland. In Scotland, the
titles of nobility are much more. ancient, under very differev
limitations, and must, from that very difference of limitatiot,
continue much longer than those of Ireland : iu the one, the titles
are to descend to collateral branches; in the other, the patents
are more limited, are confined to immediate male descendants
and consequently must much sooner expire. In the one, the
probability of extinction is very small in the course of a vast
period of time ; in the other, it would certainly happen 'in a
short time, if the power of adding to, or making up the number,
were not given to the crown. The other part of this articl,
the frame of the parliament of Ireland, relates to contrperted
elections, and the privileges of peerage to such as are not chosen
to represent it ; they continue under the same regulation as the
peerage of Scotland.


The next article relates to the continuance of the church of
Ireland, and of England, and of Scotland; upon which the articles
differ in nothing from the articles which we ourselves have sent
to Ireland, except under the head of a convocation, to which, I
apprehend, there can be no objection. I shall only say this, on
so interesting a subject, that the prosperity of the church of
Ireland never can be permanent, unless it be a part of the union
to leave as a guard, a power to the united parliament to make
some provision in this respect, as a fence beyond any act of
their own that can at present be agreed on. It may be proper to
leave to parliament an opportunity of considering what may be
fit to be done for His Majesty's catholic subjects, without seeking
at present any rule to govern the protestant establishment, or to
ma.ke any provision upon that subject.


so0.]
PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 173


The next is an article of more detail, and on which the discus-
sion may be more large hereafter than I can expect it to be at
present — It is extremely interesting ; I mean the article or
Commerce. I am sure every gentleman in this House is ready
to say, that the consequence of the union ought to be a perfect
freedom of trade, whether of produce or of manufacture, without:
exception if possible ; or that a deviation from that principle
ought to be made only where adhering to it may possibly shake
some large capital, or materially diminish the effect of the labour
of the inhabitants, or suddenly and violently shock the received
opinion or popular prejudices of a large portion of the people ;
but that, on the whole, the communication between the two king-
doms should in their spirit be free.; that no jealousy should be
attempted to be created between the manufacturers of one place
and the other, upon the subject of " raw materials," or any other
article : for it would surely be considered very narrow policy,
and as such would be treated with derision, were an attempt
made to create a jealousy between Devonshire and Cornwall,
between Lancaster and Durham, between Northumberland and
Scotland, between Wales and Chester, Hereford, or any other
county. I say then, the principle of the union on this head
should be liberal and free, and that no departure from it should
ever take place, but upon some point of present unavoidable
necessity. That perfect freedom of trade is your object and
your end ; and if in any instance You turn aside from that road,
you only do it because you are convinced that on the whole
matter you follow the shortest way to arrive at the end of yowe
journey. I ought also to say, that some degree of local incon-
venience is not to be set in the way of a great national arrange-
ment ; and happy am 1 to observe, that such is the enlarged
judgment, and just and patriotic feeling, of the enterprising
merchants of both nations, that they will be found, generally
speaking, as forward as any member of this House to act up to
the spirit of which I have just taken notice. All regulations,
therefore, under the heads of bounties or prohibitions, and all
subjects of that nature, should be made as moderate and
equitable as possible.




[APRIL 21.
74,
ParS


The parliament of Ireland have added an article of great
importance, which is, however, consistent with the resolutions.
transmitted from this country ; it is, that there shall not only be
no new prohibition, but those now in existence, with a few
exceptions, shall be repealed. It is a great satisfaction to me,
that the articles are few, and that the duties do not exceed ten
per cent. With respect to the woollen, they propose a pro-
tecting duty for the period of twenty years. With respect to the
cotton manufacture, they also propose a protecting duty of ten
per cent.; but on two important branches of it, viz, the calico and
the muslin, for the encouragement of which they are very anxious,
the duties which they propose are considerably higher. In the
whole of these alterations, I do not think there is any thing
which can give any uneasiness to our manufacturers, except in
the single case of the woollen trade. The m anufacturers of this
country do not, I believe, wish for any protecting duties ; all
they desire is a free intercourse with all the world : and though
the want of protecting duties may occasion partial loss, they
think that amply compensated by general advantage. In the
article of wool, I understand, there is much difficulty enter-
ained. In the case of manufactures, where capital is invested,


protecting duties may for a time be required ; but can any man
believe that the exportation of manufactured wool from this
country could be productive of any serious in convenience in the
present unexampled prosperity of our trade ? Can any man be-
lieve that, by permitting this exportation, capital can be so
immediately transferred as to occasion a sudden shock in any
part of the country ? This is a subject upon which I am anxious
to obtain every information ; but I am inclined to think, that
the effect of this arrangement will be to encourage the growth
of wool in Ireland, and that we may draw supplies of it from
that country. I do not fear that there will be trade enough for
both countries in the markets of the world, and in the market
which each country will afford to the other ; and I have no doubt
but that the capitals of Great Britain and Ireland will be em-
ployed in that species of trade to which it can be applied with
the most advantage.


1800•] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


175


I beg pardon of the committee for anticipating with more parti-
cularity than was necessary, what may be hereafter said upon
some of the subjects on which I have spoken, especially on that
of trade ; but I have done so because I wished to take a short
survey of the general outline of this important subject. I am
not aware of any thing very material which I have omitted ; but
if there should he, it may be supplied hereafter.


The next article, and the only one consisting of minute details,
relates to apportioning the shares of the revenue of each country
respectively. It were a circumstance much to be wished, that
the finances of both countries were so nearly alike, that the system
of both could be identified ; but as from the different proportions
of debt, and the different stages of civilisation and commerce, and
the different wealth of the countries, that desirable object is ren-
dered impracticable, at least for some time to come, it becomes
an important question, Would youdefer the advanta ge of the union
because you cannot at once carry it to the extent you would wish?
Or will you defer it until, by the increase of the debt of Ireland,
and the decrease of the debt of England through the means of
the sinking fund, the two countries had so far approximated to
each other, that an identity of finance might be established in the
first instance? But it had been said, What security can you give to
Ireland for the performance of the conditions ? If I were asked
what security were necessary, without hesitation I would answer,
None. The liberality, the justice, the honour of the people of
Great Britain have never yet been found deficient. I would refer
them to former precedents ; I would desire them to look at our
conduct towards those nations who have already incorporated with
us, to Wales and to Scotland ; that will convince them that there
is the most perfect safety, even if there were no stipulation.
`But to avoid all suspicion of unduly loading our sister kingdom
with more than her due share of the expenses of the state, to ob-
viate all imputation of partiality, particularly as on that objection
the opposers of the union grounded one of their most important
objections, the parliament of both countries have fixed the pro-
portions to be paid by each for a limited time at the expiration of




176 MR. PITT'S
[APRIL 2L


which it is presumed the finances of each may so far approximate,
that they may be assimilated and identified : with a provision,
nevertheless, that if that desirable event can be effected sooner, the
imperial parliament shall have power to make any future revision
or alteration. It most certainly will be desirable to ascertain,
in as exact a proportion as possible, the quantity to be paid by
each country. The plan 1 have already proposed is, as I think,
the best that can be devised, not taking it from any one criterion,
but from a blended and mixed consideration of the population and
the revenue. Upon this the proportions are founded, and 'e
ratio fixed for twenty years, unless the imperial parliament shall
make future regulations. And here it maybe necessary to observe,
that the finances cif both countries may be identified, although the
debt of England should exceed by a large proportion the debt of
Ireland, because, by the rapid increase of the sinking fund, it may
be as soon discharged as the debt of Ireland, and a Ikge debt
sooner discharged will be equivalent to a smaller debt rkuiring
a longer term for payment. I have already stated, irethat
the proportion of contribution of Ireland is to Englan , as about
seven and one-half to one; and this is calculated u on the con-
sumption of the several articles


., considered both as to their value,
and their value compared with their bulk, and upon those articles
of general use which seem to afford the materials for the surest
ground of calculation, such as malt, tea, sugar, and others of that
description. It has appeared from this investigation, that the
proportion proposed in this resolution, has been the proportion,
as nearly as can be ascertained, in which Ireland has contributed
during the present war. It must be most satisfactory, Sir, to con-
sider, that in adopting this arrangement, the present existing sys-
tem is not at all disturbed. It will continue in its accustomed
proportion ; and at the same time, for the security of Ireland, it is
provided that any article shall not pay a greater tax than the same
article pays at the same in England. If there shall remain any -
surplus revenue after the current expenses are paid, it is to be
appropriated either to the liquidation of the debt, or for the pur-
poses of national improvement for that country. There then re-


8


1800-]. PARLIAMENTA tlY SPEECHES. 177


main some other regulations, which have for their object the gray
dual abolition of all distinction in finance and revenue between the
two countries, and to accelerate the time when both countries form
but one fund, and pay one uniform proportion of taxes through-
out each. it is obvious, while there remains a disproportion of
debt, they cannot form one fund, that event cannot take place till
by the operation of circumstances that disproportion is destroyed:
yet, Sir, as I have already observed, the real value of the respec-
tive debts may be alike before they are of the same magnitude,
because if our sinking fund will discharge our larger debt, before
the debt of Ireland can be discharged, though not of equal magni-
tude, the greater debt discharged in the shorter time may not
surpass the less debt remaining a longer time unpaid ; and when-
ever the real value shall be alike, the finances of both countries
may be assimilated and identified, and it will remain in the discre-
tion of the united parliaments to abolish all distinction of quotas
and contributions, and. fix one rate of taxation throughout the
United Kingdoms, subject merely to such local abatements as
from circumstances may become necessary.


The remaining provisions are such as I conceive no gentleman
in this House can object to ; they relate to agriculture, and to
the allowance to Ireland of a participation of your territorial re-
venue from India. I hope and trust that this plan is equitable
on a large scale ; favourable I know it is, satisfactory I hope, to
Ireland ; and I trust also, that in the main it will appear to this
House that the whole has a tendency to accelerate the period of
identity as well-as union. The last article is one that has in it
nothing new ; it relates to the courts of justice in -Ireland ; it
preserves to Ireland its civil and ecclesiastical courts, subject to
the regulations which the wisdom of the united parliament may
adopt.


I 'trust I have made myself understood in what I have stated
to the committee under general heads, which will require detail
hereafter. I have said enough to satisfy this committee, that the
Irish parliament's resolutions arc consistent with those Wehith you'
laid at the foot of the throne, and pledged yourselves- to carat


;app. III.




178
MR. ?ITrs


fa9.2,2tra 24
into effect on your part, if ever, by His Majesty's command, they
came again to you for consideration. When I recollect also, that
the objection to the resolutions, when they were before the par-
liament of this country, was not so much to the substance of the
tesolutions themselves, nor the manner in which they were to
be submitted to the parliament of Ireland, as that the subject
should not then be agitated, because neither the parliament aor
the people were in a state to agree to the measure; I trust I may
say, that the fears which were expressed on that occasion were
illusive, and the hope that was entertained has been vele&
The ample discussion which every part of this subject has met
with (so ample that nothing like its deliberation was ever known
before in any legislature) has silenced clamour, —has rooted
out prejudice, — has over-ruled objections, has answered all
arguments, — has refuted all cavils, and caused the plan to be-


.


entirely approved of. Both branches of the legislature, after
long discussion, mature deliberation, and laborious enquiry,
have expressed themselves clearly and decidedly in its favour.
The opinion of the people who, from their means of information,
were most likely, because best enabled, to form a correct jtidg-
meat, is decidedly in its favour.


Let me not say, however, for I do not intend it, that there
were among the intelligent part of the public none who were
against the measure; I know there were, and I know too, that,
M a question involving so many interests, the same thing will, todifferent individuals, appear in different points of view: henc4arises


a diversity of opinion. That has been the case in almost
every thing that ever was argued, and must be so in every thing
that is contested ; but after all, it is clear that the parliament was
in a situation, that the people of Ireland were in a situation, tojudge of this measure. It was not because the measure was not
vigorously opposed : the friends of the measure have had to stand
against the threats of popular violence,— against the enemies of
the government under the lead of protestants,— against the violent
and inflamed spirit and fierce attack of the Irish catholies,—and
against the aggregate of ail evils, the spirit of all mischief, the


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.
I 800.]
implacable opposition and determined hostility of furious jaco.
bimsm ; they had to meet the inflamed passions of disappointed
ambition, which under the name and pretext of superior patriot-
ism, under colour of jealousy for others' freedom, under unaf-
fected tenderness for landed interest, affected care for commercial
welfare, would reduce the state to ruin because they were not


its rulers- Notwithstanding all this opposition, the parties
en-


gaged in it have not been able to prove any thing, but that their
own


fury was ungovernable, their predictions chimerical, and
their hopes delusive. The friends of the measure have had to
stand against the principles which fomented and unhappily in-
flamed the late Irish rebellion ; they had to contend against the
active but mischievous efforts of the friends and champions ofjacubinism, to whom it was enough to make them hate the union,
that it had a tendency to preserve order, because any thing like
order was an extinction of their hopes. We have seen, that the
wisdom of parliament and the good sense of the people of Ireland
have prevailed over this mighty host of foes ; we have seen the
friends who supported, and the enemies who opposed this great
national object; and are enabled, by all that has happened, to
judge pretty accurately of the sentiments of both, with their
tendency or effect on the fate of the British empire. It is under


that confidence that I do what I am now doing, and will con-


tinue to do what ever may depend on me, to submit to the com-
mittee all necessary measures to carry this great and important
work to its full, and, I trust, speedy accomplishment.


Mr. Prrx then proposed the resolutions voted by the Irish parliament
for the adoption of the committee.


Upon which Mr. Grey immediately moved an amendment; "That an
humble address be presented to His Majesty, praying that he will be
graciously pleased to direct his ministers to suspend all proceedings on


the Irish Union, till the sentiments of the Irish people respecting
that


measure can be ascertained."
Mr. Pm concluded the debate with a short reply:


We were told, Sir, by honourable gentlemen last year, when
the parliament was against the union, " Rojeet it :" they tell ue


N 2


179




180
MR. PITI"S


[Apart: 2r,
this night, •when we 'khOW'the parliament have voted the union.,
" Appeal to the people."' -I never can consent to such doctrine.
There may be occasions, 'but they will ever be few, 'when an
appeal to the people is the just mode of proceeding on import-
ant subjects. The present is not a fit moment to appeal to the
people of Ireland, when, if we do s9, the whole economy of our
legislative system, the customary proceedings in cases which
involve the rights and liberties of the people, the jurisprudence
Of the eountry, would be thrown into confusion, and all this at
a moment when we are about to effect that which the Orna-
ment of Great Britain has declared essential to the peace of
'Ireland and to the safety of the empire.


The. grotind that honourable gentlemen take to press this appeal
is not less remarkable. They do it because they would know
what is the opinion of the people of Ireland, which they assume
beforehand is against the u'itien. If they believe this, let them
give us the -prOOf,'-for theirs is' the assertion. But, Sir, I adhere
to 'the opinion of the parliament of Ireland, and will not therefore
:consent to a convocation of primaTy assemblies, and of bodies of
men to vote addresses founded on French principles, arrayed as
they would be against legislative authority and constitutional
freedom. However, did we even resort to the people, who
would take the expression of their opinion, given amidst tumult,
in the fury of passion ? Who, would assume that opinion as
fitting to be aclOpted for. the ruleof conduct in a great political
undertakineOri the subjectefany appeal in the present instance,
it would be. gentlemen recollected what was very properly,
and, as far as it affected to go, conclusively stated by the noble
lord Wliwspoke last.• It cannot be unknown that the House
never has' adopted the determination of adverse parties imme-
diately, but ''has acted on an opinion subsequently formed ac-
cording to the change of time and circumstances. I know
many who have entertained peculiar opinions on the• affairs
both of Ireland and England, especially during the present war,
.Wholaveseen those opinions exploded by events ; insomuch that
certain gentlemen, under the conviction of the entire approbation


* Lord Carysfort,


Ism] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 1.4


of the people of the measures of His Majesty's government, have ,
retired from this House, have chosen to neglect their duty to. their
constituents, to desert the post of honour, or of danger, because
those measures are approved of by the people.


Such then is the fallacy of the general opinions of those
honourable persons who, added to the weight of their own very
grave authority, ask us this night to resort to public meetings, there
to collect the sentiments of a mixed populace. Could the appeal
be made, what pledge do the honourable gentlemen give that
the meeting shall be orderly, decent, and temperate ? Those
gentlemen have a ruling passion, which seems on all great occa-
sions to incline them to unfurl the banners of popularity to the
mob ; but leaders have not less frequently paid the forfeit than
i'ollowers. The honourable member has quoted a great master
of human nature*, to illustrate his opinion of a popular election.
Thai poet, as if he had. foreseen the period — as if the political in-
trigues of common halls had been familiar tO'hitn, has well pour-
trayed the character of such a scene. The returns of members by
common halls, and the subsequent return by scrutiny, have shown
how practised are certain politicians in the art of swelling
the number of a popular meeting. Yet such ' seems to be
the necessary consequence of popular appeals. When I con-
sider how defective must be an opinion that is ale result of
an appeal to a people wholly influenced by a few factious
demagogues, I must tell the honourable gentleman, I could
not adopt the opinion of the people of Ireland collected at
primary assemblies. But the people Of Ireland approve of the


Mr. Grey, in describing the clandestine manner in which the Irish
-petitions had been obtained in favour of the union, had quoted the


lin,os of Buckingham in Shakespeare's King Richard the Third:
Some followers of mine own,


" At lower end o' the hall, hurl'd up their caps, .
" And some ten voices cried, God save King Richard !


And thus I took . the 'vantage of those few-
" 'Thanks, gentle citizens and friends, tin* I ;
" This general . applause„ and cheerful shoat,


Argues your wisdom; and your love •to-Rich art]."
N




182 MR. PITT'S [Noe. IL


union ; they have in effect concurred in it ; and it becomes the
wisdom of the parliament of Great Britain to consolidate the
interests of the two countries, by agreeing to a measure of which
the certain operation will be to promote and perpetuate the
prosperity, the power, the resources, and the independence ofthe empire.


The amendment was rejected;
Ayec
30


Noes
And the three first resolutions were
further opposition.


236
then moved and carried wit/4a


November 11. 1800.
DE$ATE


on the address in answer to His Majesty's most gracious
speech * on opening the session.


Mr. PITT


Whatever variety of opinion may occur in the progress of the
discussion of those points to which the speech from the throne,
and the address to His Majesty, direct the attention of parliament,


" My Lords and Gentlemen,
My tender concern for the welfare of my subjects, and the sense of


the difficulties with which the poorer classes particularly have to struggle,
from the present high price of provisions, have induced me to call you
together at an earlier period than I had otherwise intended. No object
can be nearer my heart, than that, by your care and wisdom, all such
measures may be adopted, as may, upon full consideration, appear best
calculated to alleviate this severe pressure, and to prevent the danger of


.its recurrence, by promoting, as far as possible, the permanent exten-
sion and improvement of our agriculture.


" For the object of immediate relief, your attention will naturally be
directed, in the first instance, to the best mode of affording the earliest
and the most ample encouragement for the importation of all descrip-
tions of grain from abroad. Such a supply, aided by the examples which
von have set on former occasions, of attention to economy and frugalityin the consumption of corn, is most likely to contribute to a reduction
in the present high price, and to ensure, at the same time, the means of
meeting the demands for the necessary consumption of the year,


;SON] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


18S


I flatter myself, that when the real question for the decision of the
House is fairly explained, all differences must cease, and all topics


of division be suspended. Believing it to be equally the object of
" The present circumstances will also, I am persuaded, render the statt


of the laws respecting the commerce in the various articles of proeision,


the
object of your serious deliberation. If, on the result of that deli-


beration, it shall appear to you that the evil necessarily arising from
unfavourable seasons has been increased by any undue combinations or
fraudulent practices, for the sake of adding unfairly to the price, you will
feel an earnest desire of effectually preventing such abuses; but you
will, I am sure, be careful to distinguish any practices of this nature from
that regular and long established course of trade which experience has
shewn to be indispensable, in the present state of society, for the supply
of the markets, and for the subsistence of my people.


" You will have seen with concern the temporary disturbances which
have taken place in some parts of the kingdom, Those malicious and
disaffected persons who cruelly take advantage of the present difficulties
to excite any of my subjects to acts in violation of the laws and of the
public peace, are, in the present circumstances, doubly criminal, as such
proceedings must necessarily and immediately tend to increase, in the
highest degree, the evil complained of; while they, at the same time,
endanger the permanent tranquillity of the country, on which the well-
being of the industrious classes of the community must always prin-
cipally depend.


" The voluntary exertions which have on this occasion been made for
the immediate repression of these outrages, and in support of the laws
:Ind public-peace, are therefore entitled to my highest praise..


" Gentlemen of the House of COM112071S,
"


Under the circumstances of the present meeting, I am desirous of
asking of you such supplies only as may be necessary for carrying on
the public service, till the parliament of the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Ireland may conveniently be assembled.


" The estimates for that purpose will be laid before you ; and I have
no doubt of your readiness to make such provision as the public interests
may appear to require.


" My Lords and Gentlemen,
"I have directed copies to be laid before you, Of those communications


which have recently passed between me and the French governmen%
respecting the commencement of negotiations for peace. You will see
in them fresh and striking proofs of my earnest desire to contribute to
the re-establishment of general tranquillity. That desire, on my part,
has hitherto been unhappily frustrated by the determination of the


N




M it; PITT'S
ti\Tov,


every man present to promote, -to the utmost of his power, and
to the best of his judgment, the alleviation of that distress under
which the community labours, I cannot suppose that gentlemen
will find any ground of dissension in an address, the chief pur.
port of Which is merely to thank His Majesty for the opportu-
nity which he, has given to parliament, of entering upon the
consideration of the subject,


The speech, and the address founded upon it, comprehend two
great leading topics. They state and propose for the deliber-
ation of parliament, the difficulties under which the public 11.4
labour from a succession of unfavourable seasons. They na-
turally point to an investigation of the causes of the calamity, and
the remedies of which it is susceptible ; and in allusion to the
recent c


ommunications which have taken place with the enemy,
they bring under review, in regular progress, the important
question of peace or war. These, however, are questions which
are rather to be entered for future deliberation, than brought
forward for specific opinion and i mmediate resolve.


Upon the first of these objects, what does the speech recoil],
mend as necessary ? What does the address desire the House to
do ? In both, a strong and t],pxious feeling is expressed for the
miseries of the various classes who suffer by the high price of pro-


enemy to enter only on a separate negotiation, in which it
was impossibleCur me to engage, consistently either with public fInth, or with a due


regard to the permanent security of Europe. My anxiety for the speedy
restoration of peace remains unaltered; and there will be no obstacle or
delay on my part, to the adoption of such measures as may best tend to
promote and accelerate that desirable end, consistently with the honour
of this country, and the true interests of my people; but if the dispo-
sition of our enemies should continue


.
to render this great object of all


my wishes unattainable, without the sacrifice
of these essential consi-derations, on the maintenance of which all itsadvantages


. must depend,
.you will, I em confident, persevere in afibrding me the 'same loyal and
steady_ support which I have experienced through the whole of this.im,
portent contest, and which has, under the blessing of Providence,
enabled me, ,


during a period of such unexampled difficulty and calamity
to all the surrounding nation:, to maintain unimpaired the security and
hOnour of these kingdoms."


1800. 7
PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 185


visions, and the remedy proposed is an early, expeditious, and
effectual mode of obtaining supply by importation, aided by a
narrowed and economical application of the resources which our


own
means afford. Whatever difference of sentiment may exist


respecting the causes of the evil ; whatever views may be enter.
tamed respecting the most effectual remedies, all I am persuaded,
must feel how delicate the subject is, how difficult the discussion,
how careful the legislature must be in the adoption of specific
measures of remedial policy. But, aware of these circumstances,
all must at the same time be sensible that two modes of relief,
simple, practical, safe, and effectual, are placed within our reach.
The first of these is importation from abroad. Experience has
sufficiently proved the efficacy of this resource. We know, by
the most authentic documents, that the importation last year ex-
ceeded any thing that had ever taken place within the same space
of time. The importance and necessity of this expedient must at
once be recognised. We have likewise the satisfaction of know-
ing that we possess the means of rendering this aid effectual.
Great as the last year's importation was, it is in our power to
render that of the present more extensive.. This is to be done by
the use of bounties, on the principle acted upon last year, by which
provision - was effectually made that the 'expense of the bounty
should never be imposed on the country, but when the necessity
for it existed, andwhen the advantage of it was ascertained. That
principle will be again applied, with the benefit of former ex-
perience. The assistance derived from it will be increased in
proportion to the more favourable harvest in foreign countries ;
it is consolatory to know, that, on the continent of Europe, as
well as in America, the crops have been productive; and. no
doubt can be entertained, that the wealth of this country must
command a supply that cannot fail to relieve the difficulties
under which we labour.


As to the other object, the diminution of consumption, and the
employment of substitutes, the unfortunate experience we have
had of the efficacy of these expedients enables us to call them into
action with new advantage and effect. In 1795 and 1796, and in.




186 MR. PITT`;
[Nov. 11.


the course of last year, we had derived much relief from the ex-
amples of economy which were set, and it will be our business
now to practise upon the knowledge we have acquired. We shall
now be able, upon an enlarged observation, to render substitutes
available, to turn every thing to profit.


Thus much I have said upon the nature of the remedies pointed
-out in the speech and address, to show that in their nature they
cannot produce any difference of opinion. They must be admit-
ted by all to be salutary and indispensable. I hope too, that what
I have urged will be considered as a full justification for proleed-
ing with all possible expedition to give effect to them. I trust that
it will be considered as a ground sufficient for me to propose, that
even before we separate, the House should resolve itself into a
committee of the whole House, to ascertain and vote the amount
of the bounties which it will be proper to grant. It must be felt,
that no measure presses so much as this ; nothing can he more
important than immediately to animate and to fix the exertions
of the importer, by specifying the allowance to which he will
be entitled. The second object is one which requires no snore
delay in the adoption; but it is less a matter for legislative arrange-
ment, though in that way something may be done by regulation.
From example it is most likely, however, to obtain its full oper..
ation. Upon the consideration ofthese simple and easy remedies,
every man must see, that whether the harvest has been deficient
in a greater or less degree, more will be done to afford effec-
tual relief to the community than any doubtful experiment of
regulation to reduce the price of commodities, and to obtain the
supply of the market with all the effect which the most confident
might ascribe to it, could ever produce.


I trust, therefore, that I have completely shown the necessity
of the measures recommended in the speech, and the propriety of
adopting them without delay. Our agreeing to these preliminary
Steps by no means precludes farther enquiry, or more deliberate
determination. But at present no procrastination, no


.eigity can
be necessary to authorisethe expedients which are proposed. Let
investigation however be pursued — let remedies be suggested;


1800.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.
187


the House will hear with impartiality, and decide upon conviction.
I do not hesitate at the same time to declare, that, to go beyond
the remedy which is plain, practical, sanctioned by the soundest
principles, and confirmed by the surest experience, must ever be a
dangerous course : — it is unsafe in the attempt, it is unworthy of


a statesman in the design, to abandon the system which practice
has explained and experience has confirmed, for the visionary
advantages of a crude, untried theory. It is no less unsafe, no less
unworthy of the active politician, to adhere to any theory, how-
ever just in its general principle, which excludes from its view
those particular details, those unexpected situations, which must
render the scheme of the philosophic politician in the closet inap-
plicable to the actual circumstances of human affairs. But, if it
be unwise to be guided solely by speculative systems of political
economy, surely it is something worse te draw theories of regula-
tion from clamour and alarm. If we ought not to bend observ-
ation and experience to any theory, surely we ought much lest to
make just principles and tried courses yield to wild projects, struck
out from temporary distress, the offspring, not of argument, but
of fear ; not of enquiry, but of passion ; not of cool reflection,
but of inflamed prejudice. No man, therefore, who duly con-
sidered the causes from which the prosperity of the country has
arisen, who well understood the foundation on which it stood,
zould think for a moment that, to redress any supposed mischief
-which, in times of peculiar scarcity and distress, monopoly might
be supposed to have occasioned, it would be right to strike at the
freedom of trade, and the application of industry and capital.
To do so, would be to bring us back to something worse than the
system that prevailed five hundred years ago ; inasmuch as the
state of the country, the distribution of property, and the em-
ployments of industry were so infinitely different from what
obtained at the period when that system prevailed. Indeed
nothing could be more absurd than to suppose that such a
scheme, even though suited to the Tra from which it is derived,
could be applicable to the new interests and demands of another
state of society.




189188 MR. NITS
riCoV. 11.


But the system recommended by His Majesty is equally re-
moved from these opposite extremes. It is that which true
wisdom and enlarged policy alone will recognise ; it is that alone,
I am convinced, which the House Will pursue in the application
of the remedies which the case may require. Parliament will
enquire, it will collect facts, it will seek information, it will ex-
amine evidence ; and if an abuse is proved to exist, the remedy
will be canvassed upon its own merits.


It is not my wish, in this stage of the business, to state any.
opinions which I may have already conceived upon the subject.
in proceeding to the minute investigation of the subject, however,
it is not ,amiss to point out the errors on both sides, from which
remedial policy:ought to he exempt. There are some sorts of
remedies which it is right to show can in no case be employed, as
there may be abuses which it will be the desire of parliament to
correct by every means in its power to employ. All, however,
that the present question requires, is to express our readiness to
concur in the measures necessary to promote importation and
economy. For this purpose no time for deliberation can be re-
ouisite ; we'must already be prepared on these points with a clear
opinion, and ready to pledge ourselves to give them the utmost
effect.


On the causes by which the present high price is occasioned,,
there are no doubt, many opinions ; both the extent of the evils
and the remedy have been disputed. The question is embarrassed
by many 'prejudices. Some, whose motives are unquestionable,
and the humanity of whose views is conspicuous, may have been
led to give encouragement to the errors, and sanction to the
clamours which have prevailed on the subject. Others, whose
motives are more doubtful, have endeavoured to combine two
distinct grounds of prejudice, and to connect the scarcitywith the
war. Thus upon two subjects, each in itself liable to much mis-
conception, and in its nature demanding a cool examination,
violent clamour has been raised ; I trust, however, that there are
but few who think it wise or useful to connect the discussion of
these two topics. The causes of the scarcity, and the policy-and


3800.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


necessity of the war, present distinct subjects of consideration ;
and none will blend the discussion of the latter with the former,
who wish only to communicate information, and to suggest
remedies.


An honourable baronet* and an honourable gentleman -t near
him, have, indeed, attempted to connect the argument : but, with
all deference to their talents, I confess I should, before advancing
any thing in reply, wish to hear what more weighty arguments
might be urged in support of the same side. It appears to me,
that, on a general view, no man can contend that the war has any
material tendency to increase an evil which can be traced to other
causes. But I perceive from the gestures of gentlemen opposite,
that the doctrine of which I had given the credit to the honour-
able baronet and the honourable gentleman who spoke last, is
more generally entertained. On this point, then; we shall have
an opportunity of a more detailed discussion on a future day. I
must think, however, that it is not too much to expect from the
candour, from the good sense, from the prudence of gentlemen
on the other side, that the consideration of the high price of
provisions should be guided only by views of public benefit ;
that no matter should be introduced into it . for the purpose of
collateral effect ; for the purpose of creating undue feeling and
unfounded clamours. By this candour I shall endeavour to guide
my own conduct, and I shall be sorry to remark any deviation
from it in others.


But, since this question has been started, I beg leave to hint a
few general observations, which seem completely to overthrow
the argument of those (if there be any) who seriously impute the
dearness of provisions to the war. In a more detailed discussion I
shall be ready to examine separately the effect of every tax which
has been imposed since the year 1793 ; to state the utmost effect
which it could be supposed to have produced directly or indirectly
on the price of grain ; and to prove that these taxes could form.
even on the most exaggerated computation, a very inconsiderable
part of the increased price of provisions. To shew that the war


Sir Francis Burdett. -1.• Mr. Robz,on,




190 MR. PITT'S
f Nov. 11.


has not any general effect to raise the price of grain, consider only
the price of grain at different periods of the present war, though
the argument would be strengthened by a review of former wars.
Three or four years have been years of comparative high price.
In the years 1794 and 1795, the price was high ; but in the in-
terval of nearly three years that succeeded, that is, from about
Michaelmas 1796 to Midsummer 1799, the price sunk perhaps
too low for the fair profit of the fanner. The general price then
in England (to which I confine my remarks) was from 48s. to 49s.
a quarter. From Michaelmas 1798 to Lady-day 1799, it was
not above 48a. How then, if the war were the cause of de dear-
ness, did it happen that the effect, which on the hypothesis
should have been increasing, was suspended during an interval of
nearly three years; and when likewise during these years, some
of the taxes to which the effect is chiefly ascribed had been im-
posed? Previous to the last-mentioned period (one of great
cheapness) the triple assessment had existed a twelvemonth, and
rn'ost have produced its full effect. This plain fact is alone worth


- a thousand inferences deduced by circuitous reasonings. I know
net whether this fact will be an answer to the arguments that I
have not yet heard, but I think it is at least a sufficient answer to
thole of the honourable baronet. In matters of this kind, it is the)
shortest way to employ such plain and familiar reasoning; an
though it may not always be a safe and solid mode of argument to
presume against the validity of an objection, I am persuaded that
aegunients like that which I have mentioned will often be found
to answer by anticipation the statements by which they are op-
posed. I shall not enter into any comparative statement of the
prices in former wars, nor insist on the ingenious arguments that
have been adduced to show that war is favourable to lowness of
price. It is deserving of remark, however, that this country,
which from the period of the Revolution, for a great part of the
present century, had been used to export great quantities of grain,
ceased to export and began to import in the middle of that peace
which succeeded the most successful war in which this country
ever was engaged. Thus it is clear, from a deduction of facts,


_ _


1800.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 191


that war of itself has no evident and necessary connection with
the dearness of provisions, and that there can be no reason for
at aU combining the question of scarcity with the distinct
enquiry respecting the policy of the war.


There may, indeed, arise much difference on particular facts,
on points of inference, and the nature of legislative operation.;
but there are leading principles that must be common to all wbs.
enter upon the discussion with candid and liberal sentiments.
In the consideration of the present calamity we ought, as men_
of humanity, to looleat it with the deepest feelings of compassion
for the distresses of our fellow-creatures : as public men, with a
profound sense of the importance of watching over the welfare of
the industrious classes of the community ; as men of prudence.
who are bound to provide for their interests, and who will not
stoop to flatter their errors, we ought to consider it as a malady
affecting the state ; but one in a delicate spot, not to be in-
cautiously touched not to be treated with new and violent
remedies: to follow untried theories must be peculiarly fatal
in a matter of so much nicety, and wherein errors must be of
the most malignant and extensive mischief. In the prosecution
of the enquiry, we ought to be open to information ; indefa-
tigable to examine, but careful to weigh, and cautious to pro-
ceed when the speculation of corrective regulation would lead.
to overthrow the good that we have proved, for projects not
even recommended by plausibility.


As to the extent of the deficiency of the late harvest, it would
be no less rash than unnecessary to give any opinion. For the
practical remedies proposed, a knowledge of the precise deficit is
not required. This, however, we know, that notwithstanding the
clamour about monopoly previous to the harvest, it is now uni-
versally admitted that the old stock was very nearly exhausted,
An early harvest, therefore, found us with less stock than usual;
of course that stock, unless aided by importation from abroad and
economy of our own resources, must be applicable to the con-
sumption of a shorter period of time than usual. Having already
mentioned substitutes, and remarked that experience had ren-




192
MR. PITT'S


dered us more familiar with their utility and the mode of their
application, I shall just mention how they may be rendered more
effectual on- the present occassion. We know that last year the
crops failed almost generally in all the articles ofprovision. This
year, though wheat is short, several other kinds (particularly
barley) are plentiful both at home and abroad. By the due appli-
cation of the resources of economy and of substitutes, joined to
importation, I am satisfied that the supply of the year will be
made to answer the consumption. 1 do not wish to under-rate
the difficulties of our situation ; but this I will assert, that, if we
employ proper precaution, and exercise becoming firm/less, we
have in our own power the remedy for the distress under which
the country labours. I do not imagine indeed that any extra-
ordinary and rapid diminution of price is to be expected ; but if
we abstain from all rash experiment in the established course of
trade, there is the best reason to think that there will be a con-
siderable reduction of price, a reduction gradual and permanent,
one that will alleviate the distresses of the poor, without risking
that increase of consumption which ought so much in the pre-
sent circumstances to be avoided. Besides the actual deficiency
this year, the late high prices might be accounteefor on reflect-
ing that the stock of last year was exhausted; that the farmer
must have been unable both to provide for


. the demands of the
market, and to prepare for the supplies of seed which a more
favourable season had required.


This of itself is sufficient to explain the high price for several
weeks, without supposing any great deficiency of crop, or any
improper arts to keep back grain and to starve the market. It
certainly was an unfortunate error to ascribe the prices too much
either to the deficiency on the one hand, or to monopoly-on the
other. In the one case it gave a sanction to high price; and in the
other to unfounded popular clamour. The past prices, however,
I am fully convinced, ought not to be taken as a proof' and index
of what future prices may be. If the order of things by which the,
market has so long been regularly supplied be not disturbed by


interference; if we are prudent to encoura,ge•import


1800:] • PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 193


tion, and firm to oppose all useless waste, there must in the course
of the year be a gradual abatement of price. Its fact, as soon as
the effect ofimportation and economy begin to be felt, no regula-
tion will be necessary to supply the market and to reduce thepriec;
The most prejudiced will see, that the surest remedy for mono-
poly, if it has existed, (and I do not believe it has existed to any
considerable extent,) is to increase the quantity and to diminish
the consumption, to which highness of price must essentially con-
tribute. If corn has been kept up, it will be sufficient to bring
it out, to show both to the grower and consumer that we have the
means of rendering the supply of the whole year adequateto the
demand. A proper diminution of price will then ensue : for no
man who truly estimates the difficulty of our real situation,' and
the means by which alone it can be relieved, would desire that,
in a time of scarcity, the price should experience a temporary
depression to what it would be in a time of plenty. This would be
to remove the necessary and most effectual corrective•of scarcity.


I trust, therefore, that one of' our first measures will be, to go
into a committee of the whole House, to fix the quantum of bounty
to be allowed on importation. I should next propose, that a
select committee be appointed. to investigate the subject of the
scarcity, and to this committee will be referred that part of the
King's speech which refers to this point. I should propose, like-
wise, that the committee shall from time to time recommend such
measures as seem on the result of its enquiry fit to be adopted.
do not wish to anticipate any of their measures; but one suggests
itself, which may be of great benefit as a regulation, particularly
if sanctioned by example.. This would be, to direct that all pa-
rochial relief, instead of being given in money, or wheaten bread,
shall be given in bread partly made up of some wholesome sub-
stitutes. I believe that this practice has already made its way-
in some parts, and it appears to me that its extension would be
attended with the most. beneficial effects.


Thus much I have thought it necessary to state on the two
leading points respecting the scarcity. On the question of peace
or war, l shall only observe, that, as the papers on which the merits


VOL. 111.




194
MR. PITT'S


[Nov. 1
of the case must be decided are not yet before the House, it would
be premature to enter at large into the discussion. There certainly
is nothing in the address which pledges any opinion of the House
on. that point : this pledge it gives indeed, which no man I hope
will shrink from, that if peace cannot be concluded on terms con-
sistent with public faith, with the national honour and interests,
we shall continue to support His Majesty with that firmness,
decision, and energy, which this House has uniformly displayed.
I cannot anticipate any difference of opinion on this head. The
speech states what will no doubt appear distinctly from theicom-
munications that are about to be laid before parliament, that His
Majesty could not negotiate without separating his interests from
those of his allies ; and the importance of those alliances is justi-
fied by the desire of the enemy to dissolve them. If,


,
then, the


enemy advanced a pretension so unheard of, as that His Majesty,
as the price of connection with them, should break his faith to
those allies with whom he was connected.; if, as theprice of being
united in amity with His Majesty, France wished to Olt an end to
the union which subsisted between him and his allies, surely I
ought not to presume, that in such a preliminary to a negotiation,
any member of this House will find conditions, prove the
sincerity of those who pretend to be the friends-6 general tran-
quillity, or conditions to which His Majesty could have acceded.
I trust, therefore, that as unanimity is desirable on every occasion,
the I-Iousewill without delay, and with a concurrence approaching
to unanimity, proceed to declareits readiness to adopt such mea-
sures as alone are calculated to afford relief to the community.
This is the only way to prove a sincere and enlightened regard


.
to


the interests and. well-being of the poor. By showing a real and
substantial regard to their happiness, we shall guard against the
consequences of the'falseand dangerous expectations with which,
by factious persons,. they have been deluded on the subject of the
remedies of which their sufferings admit. Parliament cannot by
any charm convert scarcity into plenty ; but it is something to
show that no time is lost in adopting every practicable means of
alleviating the present distress, and ensuring the regular subsist-


S00..] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


195


tence of the people. In the further discussion let us proceed
with caution, and examine with impartiality. Let us act with
proper temper, firmness, and sobriety, that we may be able to
discover where the cause of the evil really rests, and apply the
remedy which will be truly serviceable.


The House, after negativing an amendment proposed by Mr. Grey,
agreed to the address without a division.


November 27. 1800.
0i4 a motion Of Mr. Tierney for the House- to resolve itself into a


committee, to enquire into the State of the Nation,
Mr. PITT spoke to the following effect
Sir— The honourable gentleman*, in the speech which he has


just concluded, has gone over a most extensive range of argument,
and indeed has extended the topics of discussion beyond the
notice which he first gave of his intention. It seemed to be his
original view to confine the object of the enquiry he proposed
to move, to points connected with the high price of provisions.
He talked of moving to have the governor of the bank examined
respecting the influence which the operations of the hank and of
paper-circulation might have produced upon the price : but he
has now abandoned these restrictive views ; he has not mentioned
a word of the examination of the governor of the bank, and has
thought it better to move for a committee of the whole House
on the state of the nation, as best fitted to investigate that infinite
variety of subjects which he has dwelt upon as the grounds of
enquiry. It is natural, therefore, that the honourable gentleman's
topics should be numerous. The question of peace and war ;
the operations of our military force ; the conduct of those by
whom they are planned or executed ; our alliances ; our financial
situation ; the state of our constitutional rights, though intro-
duced by the honourable gentleman in a parenthesis ; our internal


Mr. Tierney.
02




196


• MR. PITT'S [Nov. 27.
circumstances, with which the dearness of provisions and its
remedies are all connected, thus form the natural topics to which
a motion, like that which has been made, must be directed.


The honourable gentleman has said what is true, undoubtedly,
of every important occasion in which this House is called upon
to deliberate, that the eyes of the country are upon us. The eyes
of the country indeed are most earnestly fixed upon us. They
look with expectation, as they must feel the good or the bad
consequences which result from our decisions. The measures in
which the House has been occupied during the preceding part of
the session have, in the highest degree, engrossed the attention
of the public, and their hopes have not been disappointed. They
see the attention of parliament directed to the consideration of the
difficulties under which the community labours, and employing
every practical remedy to alleviate their distress. I am convinced
too that the people are well aware that those do most for their
cause, and are most sincerely impressed Svit h their sufferings,
who confine themselves most closely to the immediate object of
relieving the calamities under which they labour. I \


not sayjthat the whole situation of the country may not form a fit sub-ect for enquiry in a committee of the whole House, if strong
and conclusive grounds for it can be established. But I must
contend that a committee on the state of the nation is that which,
for the last hundred years, has very rarely been moved, and still
more rarely complied with. The instances when it led to any
practical advantage, are fewer still. It has indeed been
ployed in some urgent cases, where ,the topic of enquiry had a
direct influence on the whole frame of the government. Such
were the committee on the India bills, and, more recently, during
the unfortunate illness of His Majesty, when the question of the
regency was to be determined. At present the only thing to be
considered is, whether the circumstances of our situation he web
as to demand that general. enquiry which the honourable gen-
tleman recommends, or specific investigations directly leading
to practical measures.


With respect to the large and complicated question of peace and


.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


197
1500•
war, I believe that upon that, as upon every other point of
national interest, the eyes of the people are turned upon par-
liament ; but I do believe that at the present period they do not
expect that they can form the subject of our decision or of our
discussion. I believe, that the general feelin g of the House and


of the public upon the subject of peace and war is, that the
question is no otherwise changed since we were last assembled,
than in this respect, that since that period His Majesty has given
the strongest and most unequivocal proofs of his sincere desire
for peace ; he has shown his willingness to make great sacrifices
for the attainment of so desirable an object ; and his efforts have'
been frustrated by the unreasonable and unexampled demands of
the enemy, which have prevented the setting on foot such a
negotiation. Under these circumstances, those who are anxious
for the attainment of peace, if they want one consistent with the
honour and safety of this country, will feel that the best way of
contributing to that object will be to continue to place that con-
fidence in His Majesty's government which they have hitherto
done ; to strengthen his hands ; and to teach our enemies, that
the support which has been given to His Majesty will be con-
tinued with that firmness and determinatio n which has hitherto
been attended with such happy effects. Having stated thus
much, I think, upon these general grounds, it rests with the
gentlemen on the other side of the House to prove, that when
parliament is assembled for a particular purpose, and" when the
general state of things seems only to confirm us.iti the deter-
mination, with which we. so lately separated, of supporting this
contest with steadiness, it rests, I say, with the gentlemen on the
other side, to state what are the new grounds upon which they
call upon us to enquire. When, Sir, I ask for new grounds, it
may perhaps be a little uncandid with respect to the motion
itself, because the greater part of the objects which the honour-
able gentleman has represented as calling for enquiry, are objects
with respect to which it is impossible to give new grounds ; for
the House must have perceived, that most of the events to which
he has alluded are such as he has had frequent opportunities (and


0 3




198
MR. PITT'S
[Nov. 27.


the honourable gentleman cannot be accused justly of having
neglected many of them) of bringing under the consideration ofthe


House. He has frequently made them the subjects
of motions,


and stated them as fit cases of enquiry; and the House has as oftenhad opportunities of expressing its opinion on these points. Thus
every part of his argument respecting the conduct of the war
(except only that part of it which relates to events which have
happened since the month of July last) has been over and over
again di


scussed and decided upon. I might, therefore, upon all
these topics, unless the honourable gentleman had advanced some-
thing new, which he certainly has not, have contented myself with
r
eferring to the former decisions of parliament upon them, when


the events were still fresh in the memory of every one.
But, Sir, I confess that the mode of recapitulation which the


honourable gentleman has employed I cannot allow to pass with-
out ani


madversion. The honourable gentleman begins withr
emarking upon a declaration of my right honourable friend *,


that the present was a war of unexampled success ; but he didinjustice to the assertion by omitting the limitation with which it
was coupled, namely, that it was a war of unexampled success,
in relation to the share which Great Britain had taken, and with
regard to her peculiar interests. That my right honourable
friend's position is strictly just, appears even from the admissions
of the h


onourable gentleman. He allows that that part of our
national force, that which he himself and his friends have extolled
as the only service on which we should rely for defence, has
been glorious and successful beyond any former example. Does
not this prove that in regard to the peculiar share of this country
in the contest, it has been most successful ? Why then, even
upon the view of a joint war of various success, and embracing so
many objects, does the honourable gentleman choose to keep out
of con


sideration that part of it recognised to he our particular pro-
vince, and implying an exclusive merit ? How can he affirm that
the war has been full of disgrace, when our navy, by his own con-
fession, has acquired such unrivalled distinction ?. This then is
the candour with which the honourable gentleman commences a


Mr. Dundas.


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 1;:i9


motion for such various and extensive enquiry. But does the ho-
nourable gentleman say, that, on the general view which he takes,
those naval exertions in which he exults have been attended with
no advantage to the cause of Europe? Does he think it nothing
to have completely destroyed the navy and commerce of our rival ?
Is it nothing to have protected our own trade, to have augmented
our own resources, by the spoil of the enemy's possessions? But
not to dwell on these clear and undeniable testimonies of separate
success and peculiar advantage, will it be said that our allies
have derived no advantage from the victories of the British fleets ?
If our military operations were even to be laid out of view ; if
we were to forget for a moment that our armies have, on dif-
ferent occasions, given the most important aid to the common
cause; that they have never encountered in the field the force
of the enemy without reaping their full share of glory ; con-
sidering the benefits that have resulted from our naval exploits


alone, have we had no share in contributing to the defence of
Europe ? Does the honourable gentleman recollect the achieve-
ment of the gallant Lord Nelson, whose merit he so highly
extolled ? Does he think that, great as was our share of the
glory and success of that gallant admirals exploits, we engrossed
them all ? Does he think that the fame of the battle at Aboukir
did not pervade all Europe ? Does he think that it was partial
in its effects, or fleeting in its glory ? No ! The fame of that day
spread itself to the remotest corner of' the globe. It added a
new lustre to the British character, and inspired a new reverence
for the British name; which I will not say the honourable gen-
tleman's speeches, but not even the effect of any future calamity,
can ever be able to efface. The noble commander deserved the
panegyric the honourable gentleman pronounced on him. It was
he that gave the direction to the bravery of his companions, and
to the force with which he was entrusted, which carried so plen-
tiful a harvest of glory to the country. But it is no derogation
from the merit of Lord Nelson or from the zeal and courage of
those who seconded his enterprises, to ask whose exertions made
that fleet disposable? Was there no merit in supplying the means
by which the battle of Aboukir was fought ? The honourable


4




200 MR. PITT'S
[Nov. 27.


gentleman asked, was not intelligence to be purchased ? Might
not ministers have ascertained the destination of the fleet that
sailed from Toulon ? To that species of foresight which deter..
mines by the event, there may seem no judgment requisite to
weigh and to compare intelligence, and to draw a just conclu-
sion from contradictory or doubtful information. Can, it be
forgotten with what unparalleled secrecy Sir Roger Curtis was
detached to the Mediterranean, on pretence of being sent to
guard Ireland against threatened invasion ; and that he had
actually arrived there before his coming was suspected — before
it was known in this country that he had gone thither ? Does
the honourable gentleman think that this vigilance and precau-
tion had no share in producing that achievement to which'he
pays so just a tribute of admiration ? It is impossible. It requires
but the short enumeration I have made to draw from the honour-
able gentleman's admissions a testimony in favour of the vigilance
and conduct of administration. Review our operations ; let us
consider whether they have been of advantage to Europe. Can
it be forgotten how often our successes have animated ourallies,
•depressed and discouraged, to new efforts in their own defence ?
How often have the achievements of our navy enabled our allies




to combine new measures of resistance against the. con on
enemy ? How often has the greatest separate success bees
and recognised as a new impulse given to Europe —us new
courage and confidence to those nations who had the fortitude
to bear up against danger, and to prefer strenuous resistance to
dastardly submission ? When was it ever known in the history
of the'world, that the exploits of a nation, limited by its insular
situation to a certain sphere of operation, have produced such
decisive results, and


- communicated such important advantages
to remote and distant allies ?


But the honourable gentleman says that the principal advan-
tages we have obtained, in the view that he admits any advantages
at,a11, have been at the expense of nations lately our


allies.Are:we to be told that the successes we have obtained over the
Dutch and Spaniards are not to he viewed as acquisitions, not
Celebrated as triumphs ? Is it nothing to have gained advantages


1800.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


201


over the vassals of France ; over states that pusillanimously gave
up their means and their resources to a power which they had
not the courage boldly to resist? If the Dutch were forcibly con-
verted into the allies of France, as I think they are, though the
honourable gentleman on former occasions found it convenient -
to view them as willing ones, it might in particular circumstances


have been disagreeable to direct against them the destruction of
hostile operation. If they had boldly exerted the courage and
perseverance of their ancestors in the defence of their indepen-
dence—if they had demanded in vain the assistance of this country
to combine its efforts with theirs against the enemy of their liber-
ties, and those of Europe—if, as some of the honourable gentle-
man's friends advised, we had, in defiance of the sacredness of
treaties, refused to fulfil our engagements — if we had refused to
lend them our troops to fight by their side, as in former times,
against these invaders, then might we have been accused of
turning against them our arms, when acting in a compulsive hos-
tility, which we had contributed no friendly assistance to avert:
But when we saw those resources, which, if manfully drawn
forth, would have secured independence, employed to increase
the wealth and to support the hostility of France, were we to he-
sitate to deprive them of that which was to be employed to our
annoyance and destruction ? If the wealth, the resources, the
naval and military resources of the Dutch were identified with
those of France, who will deny that it was politic and necessary
to prevent the possessions of the Dutch from being converted
into instruments of hostility in the hands of their subduers,
against a people who had disinterested l y exerted themselves for


their protection ?
The same course of argument Was employed in regard to


Spain ; we were told by the honourable gentleman that we had
rendered Spain, but little inclined to annoy us, an active and
important ally of our enemy. Spain, he says, was our friend.
Well ! Did she not abandon us in defiance of the most solemn
engagements ? I do not recollect that, in the discussions which
the subject of the war has so often produced, a single voice was




202 ,MR. PITT'S flgov 27.


ever .heard in this House to :doubt the pusillanimity, the want of
faith, the atrocity, which distinguished. thetreacherous departure
of the councils of Madrid from the cause of Europe. Never was
there a single voice heard to doubt the justice of our warfare
against 'a state, that basely shrunk from the ties of a generous
confederacy to the degradation of a hollow alliance with the foe
she detested. If then Spain, like Holland, ingloriously forsook a
manly, though a dangerous struggle, and became the humble
vassal of France, were we to allow the p reponderance of the ene-
my to .draw'forth.and embody against us all the means of Spain?
Were we to see _the navy of Spain united to that of France
without an effort to disconcert or to punish that foul associ.t.
tion ? Can we forget that the only achievement of the Fren&
fleet, escaped for a moment from years of blockade, was to sail
to Cadiz, and bring off, in triumph, the Spanish fleet, to be
retained in Brest, partly as an hostage against Spain, and as an
instrument of hostility against this country ? And does the ho-
nourable gentleman think it provoking the Spaniards ; that it is
unmanly, unnecessary hostility, to prevent the remnant of the
navy of Spain from being surrendered into the hands of the
enemy —no less as a badge of the ruin and submission of that
wretched kingdom, than as affording additional means to our
rivals to execute their plans of inveterate acrimony towards the
peace and prosperity of the British empire ?


The honourablegentleman ran over the catalogue of the colonial
possessions we had acquired with a strange air of i ndifference, as
if what he enumerated had been something too vile and worthless
to dwell upon. I do not intend merely more than tho honour-
able gentleman to dwell upon these points, though the consider-
ation that it was a review of our triumphs, of the memorials of
our glory, might. render the survey not unpleasant or unprofit-
able. Martinique, St. Lucie, Tobago! And does the honour-
able gentleman really proceed through the enumeration with that '
sovereign contempt which he professes? I recollect that, in the Alo
last peace, in which I had some share, these islands in the West-
Jndies


were 4upposed to have no small importance. The ho-


1800.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 203


pourable gentleman was not then in parliament, and there is
nothing of system or connection in his opinion to lead me to
conjecture what might have been his sentiments on the topics
then disputed. But I remember well that some of those gentle-
men, whom I have long been accustomed to see opposite to me,
and one or two of whom I still perceive, particularly one ho-
nourable gentleman*, whose accuracy will correct me if I am
wrong, contended strenuously for the importance of these
islands. St. Lucie alone was represented to be something equal
in value to Martinique, which was called the key of the West-
Indies. I know not, indeed, how their value may now have
been sunk; though in all the circumstances which attended the
last peace, the cession of Tobago alone was ' considered as a
shameful abandonment of our national interests. Those who
clamoured for that peace, were, I confess, sufficiently disposed
in object to its provisions after it was concluded. But not-
withstanding, however, the situation of the country, and the
circumstances under which the American war terminated, all
authorities admitted the importance of those islands which the
honourable gentleman now holds so cheap.


The honourable gentleman mentions Newfoundland as another
of our conquests. Newfoundland we could not conquer, because
we had not lost it; but we took the islands of St. Pierre and
Miquelon. I need not, I am sure, Sir, inform the House, that
the fisheries of Newfoundland have been for a century the con-
:taut object of rivalship between France and England from the
peace of Utrecht to the present time, it has formed one of the
most important points in every negotiation; and one of the
strongest objections to the last peace was, that the district
reserved for our fisheries was not large enough : and therefore,
Sir, I cannot think the catalogue of our conquests quite so tri-


.


.iing and unimportant as the honourable gentleman seems in-
clined to represent it.


May I venture to ask the honourable gentleman, whether the
possession of Minorca is of importance to this country, though


\1r. Sheridan.




MR. Pin" S
[Nov. 27.


in enumerating our acquisitions it almost escaped his notice ?
The honourable gentleman did not indeed forget the capture of
Matta: but he says, we must not mention it as an acquisition,
because it did not belong to France at the beginning of the war.
The honourable gentleman seems, indeed, to have set down a
very extraordinary and whimsical regulation with respect to
what wp are to call acquisitions. He enlarges upon the injury
which this country will sustain from the French being in posses-
sion of Egypt but if it is an injury, surely our possessing
Malta moat be in our favour, either to facilitate our efforts for
driving them out of Egypt, or to render their possession of it
less disadvantageous to us. But mark the singularity and col
sistency of the honourable gentleman's argument ; we must not
take any credit from the conquest of Malta, because the French.
did not possess it before the war ; yet the advantage which the
French will derive from the possession of Egypt is strenuously
insisted upon, though they were not in possession of it at the
commencement of hostilities! But it is said that we have ab-
sorbed all the possessions of the Dutch. It is true that we have
obtained possession of those places which, however little their
intrinsic value to us, may be an object of great importance as
the keys of the East. Will it be denied that, if ever the Dutch
should again be disposed to renew that alliance with us, which in
former times has proved no less beneficial to both countries than
to Europe in general, it will be more advantageous for them to
have those possessions under the guardianship and keep of Great
Britain, than in the hands of France? We know that, in 1787,
they would have been seized as instruments of annoyance to this
country : they would now have been employed to the same pur-
pose. We were bound by self-defence to anticipate the enemy's
designs—we were bound to prevent the wealth and resources of
the Dutch, the means of feeding their riches, from being trans-
ferred to the enemy by whom they were oppressed.


Reviewing then the circumstances and success of this war,
with the events of former wars, even those to which the public
may look with particular triumph, or individuals with a fond


16


1800.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 205


partiality, I cannot think' that the present yields, in the import-
ance of its success, to the most brilliant period of our history.
I shall not compare it minutely with the glory of the Duke of
Marlborough's war, nor with the glorious successes of the seven
years' war. Its advantages have been as extensive as solid, and
as important as any that ever were purchased by our armies.
There is one point which I have omitted, and which the honour-
able gentleman nearly forgot altogether, and that is, the glori-
ous success which has attended our arms in India, under the
direction of a noble friend of mine ; successes which have
increased and consolidated our empire in that quarter of the
world. The honourable gentleman wishes to compare what-has
been done lately in India with former achievements .there : it is
impossible to make the comparison. The noble Marquis has
performed every thing that could be done in the present moment.
Will the honourable gentleman not admit, that the destruction
of the power of Tippoo Saib was an event of the greatest and
most important advantage to this country ? Our conquests from
Holland and Spain are to be laid out of the question, because
they were our friends : but was Tippoo our friend? Was he
forced. by France into the war against us? Was he not in India,
what France is in Europe, the inveterate enemy of the liappi-
isess, the power, and the independence of Great Britain ? Was
he not in alliance with France? Did he not act in concert with
her in the Egyptian expedition, the importance of which he
extols so much ?— Away then with such sophistries! they can-
not have the slightest effect upon any man who has been a
witness to the events which have happened since the commence-
ment of the war.


I have now, Sir, stated my view of the general subject of the
war. But there is another point of view in which we must con-
sider it, and in which it must make a deep impression upon us ;
we are not merely to consider what we have taken from France,
but what we have preserved. The honourable. gentleman says,
we entered into the war to curb the power of France.. Sir, there


4s Marquis Wellesley:


201




206 ME. PITT'S [Nov.
is no end to the various definitions which those gentlemen give
of the object of war : but we know why we entered into it ;
we entered into the war because the French would not let us
be at peace. We entered into the war because the French would
not let us remain in tranquility, unless we consented to sacrifice
the independence of Europe, and the happiness, the safety, and
the honour of this country. In the course of the contest, we have
had to contend with great difficulties foreign to the war. One
of these difficulties was such an one as we now experience, I
mean that of scarcity: we had the misfortune four times in the
present war to experience unfavourable seasons. We have had
besides, to contend with convulsions in the mercantile part
of the public. This subject was discussed at the time whet, it
happened, and it was then found not to have been in any ma-
terial degree caused by the war. We have had, E admit, to con-
tend against reverses and disasters ; and I will venture to say,
that those who lamented over them because they disappointed
their hopes and wishes for the success of their country, and
those who lamented over them for the purpose of depressing
the public spirit, were equally- unprepared for, and little ex-
pected, that extraordinary and unfortunate turn which the affairs -
of our allies took at the opening of the present campaign. But
having to contend with all these events, we have had besides,
and I am sorry I am obliged to admit it, to contend with an
undue performance of stipulations by some of our allies ; with
a dereliction of their engagement by others ; with a complete
violation of the most solemn treaties by others) as in the case of
Spain) ; and with an unaccountable and unforeseen change of
conduct in others, from whose exertions, however, in sohie
periods of the war, we have derived the greatest advantage —
I allude, now, Sir, to the conduct of the court of Petersburgh.
We have had, Sir, all these things to contend with ; but can
they, with any justice, be attributed as crimes to this country ?
And is it nothing that, in a contest into which we have been
forced against our will, we have preserved our empire undimi-
nished, maintained our constitution inviolate, and decreased, or,


1800.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 207


as the honourable gentleman thinks, destroyed that spirit of jaco-
binism which originated in, and has been supported by France ?
But this is not all : you have not only maintained your possessions
entire, but have destroyed the maritime power, and taken the
most valuable maritime possessions of your enemy ; and in the
course of all the changes and revolutions of surrounding nations,
you have stood firm and even to the confederacy as you entered
into it, and did not desert it in the hour of danger, or of peril,
even while others were deserting you. Are these considerations
nothing ? Is it nothing that, having had to struggle, not for
imaginary objects, but for our very existence as a free state,
with our commerce marked out as an object of destruction,
our constitution threatened, we have preserved the one unim-
paired, and most materially augmented the other ; and, in many
particulars, increased our national wealth, as well as its glory ?
I say,' it is thus the matter stands with regard to this country ;
and yet these are the topics, or at least some of the topics, on
which the honourable gentleman chooses to say he has laid fair
grounds before the House to call upon it to conclude with him
(for so his motion would in its spirit indicate), that there is
great misconddct in His Majesty's government.


The honourable gentleman has taken a general view of the
affairs of this country; and I shall, without being too minute,
endeavour to follow him over the outline of his observations.
Some of them I need hardly touch upon, because they have been
the subjects of repeated discussions in this House, in various
stages of the present war. On all those points which were dis-
cussed before parliament, parliament have determined; and. were
I to argue them, I could only expect to tire the patience of the
House with unnecessary repetition : I need therefore, with re-
ference to many of the topics insisted upon so vehemently by
the honourable gentleman to-night, only remind the House of
what it has already done, presuming that it will not now think
otherwise than it has thought already, where no fresh argu-
ment, nor any new circumstance has appeared- to alter its
opinion. Many of the observations, however, of the honour,




208 MR. PITT'S
[Noy. 27,


able gentleman, although fallacious and inconsistent, I shall
take notice of, not on account of their force, but of their ex-
traordinary tendency. I hope the honourable gentleman used
hasty words, such as may possibly escape a person in the heat
of speaking, and that he himself considers the words that he
used of that description —I mean the expression implying,
" that he thought our honour was lost and our character de-
graded in the course of the present war, and that by the man-
ner in which our army had been employed under the present
administration." It will be seen, however, when the subject is
enquired into— [hear ! hear from the other side]—The gentle-
men opposite are anxious to seize on a word which is employed
to signify discussed when the matter then is discussed, it will
be seen to lehom the blame of it is imputable, or rather, it wilt
be proved that there is not the least foundation for the charges
which the honourable gentleman has advanced. An enquiry is
demanded ; but is it possible that the House could listen to
motions of this kind every moment some persons thought pro-
per to bring a vague and general charge of misconduct ? It is
enough, that, on general grounds of argument and presumption,
it can Ife shown that there is no necessity for supposing any
thing wrong. It can never be the duty of this House to en-
courage such a disposition.


But the honourable gentleman is pleased to revive a phrase
which was made use of by my right. honourable friend*, who,
with all the excellent qualities which belong to him, is more re-
markable for the accuracy of his plans than for the measure of a
sentence, and that the more especially when he happens to speak
of what relates to his own conduct. He did not mean to say,
that he wished to enter into a minute enquiry into every plan
which he has been concerned in advising ; he meant to profess,
what he felt, a readiness to defend the measures of administration,
if any one had a desire to object to any part of such measures:
not that he thought it would be right that the time of the House


4hould be taken up in discussing all the measures of administra-.


Mr. Dundas.


1800.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


209


tion, one by one, until the whole was examined ; that would be


$,n endless task, although I am confident it would be triumphant
to my right honourable friend. He was


.
ready then, and so he is


now, to defend His Majesty's ministers in every measure adopted
this war, provided somebody imputed any thing that was improper


to us, and laid some ground which might call for an enquiry. I
was therefore a little surprised to find such a construction put
upon my right honourable friend's declaration as I have heard
to-night, which was, that he wished from day to. day to discuss all


the measures of administration during the war. I should be glad
to know what evidence it is of guilt for a man to deny a charge
which is exhibited against him, and to argue upon the plain un-
derstanding of it, without any formal enquiry, which can never
alter the facts that are obvious to all who see and hear ? This is
the common-place course with which loose charges of this kind
are attempted, and have for the last hundred years been attempted
to be supported upon these occasions ; and they are generally
maintained with a degree of vehemence in declamation, which is
proportioned only to their weakness in point of reason. A loose,
unconnected charge is made ; and then, because those who are
accused by it assign reasons why it should not occupy the time
of the House, the party accused is immediately pronounced
guilty.— I do not complain of this : the honourable gentleman
has many precedents to plead in favour of this mode of argument,
and I am not without some authorities on the part which I take
in opposing him ; neither is the honourable gentleman to take it
for granted, that the public will think he is right, because he
alleges that he is so ; nor am I to expect a favourable sentiment
in my behalf, on account of what I urge in vindication of
ministers : the impartial part of the public will judge from the
assertions of neither, but fairly on facts between both. Let it not
be understood, that I admit there is any general rule to decide
a question like this ; all that the House can do now, is to con-
sider whether they will say that what they have already done
was wrong : that will be the case, if they go into a committee to
enquire into what they have already determined ; for that is the


VOL. M.




.210 MR. PITT'S
[Nov. 27.


case inin most of the points to which the honourable ge
ntlemanrefers.


The honourable gentleman has alluded to former wars, not only
as to the force employed in them, but also to the expense


withwhich they were
attended. In the first place, we should consider,that, as to the article of expense, that has been in a p


rogressive
state of advancement for the last forty years ; i t is found to be so
in all the common and ordinary affairs of life, and therefore it
would be an extraordinary thing if the expense of war, which con-
sists in paying for articles of use in common life, were exempt
from advancement more than other things are. The army and
the navy are fed like other men, and most of the expenses of a
Military station are like other expenses, formed chiefly on cora-
mon articles of consumption. But what is rather curious is,
that the honourable gentleman says we have double the force
we had in a former war


'to which he alluded, and yet he affects
to be surprised at the expense being double, although, upon his
own reasoning, the same force ought to be allowed double the
expense. Such is the argument of the honourable gentleman,
and that is what he calls a conclusive argument. The honotsr-
able gentleman thinks otn present military


establishment tee
much : and yet I have heard him, and those with whom he has
been in the habit of acting, state with some animation, the pro-
digious exertions which France had made in the thee of all the


•powers of Europe who opposed her. I have often considered
those efforts of the French exaggerated pretty much in this
House; but I always thought, and I have never attempted to
disguise it, that France, from its very stale,


unfavourable as it
was to any useful purpose, bad advantages over others


in the
way of raising forces for the support of the war. The whole of
their revolutionary policy was well adapted to this end ; and now,
although the objects which were pretended to be in view from
'that Revolution are


. gone away, yet it possesses that strength in
a considerable degree for the purpose of violent efforts. For
the violent principle of taking, without regard either to justice
or to


still remains in full force ; they are still in a state


1800.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 211


to lay violent hands on any property they can find, for the pur.
pose they want; and men they put in requisition wherever they
are wanted. This has made me feel, and I have repeatedly said,
that, in respect to sudden efforts to gain their object by force,
they have an advantage over every legitimate government in
Europe ; and therefore it is not a matter of wonder that. their
exertions have sometimes surpassed any that were made under
the reign of Louis the Fourteenth. But although this be the case,
will any man tell me, that, because France has such means of
making great exertions by violence, we, having to contend with
such an enemy, are culpable because their violence is gigantic ;
and that it must be said that our affairs are ill-directed because
we have not had twice the success we had in former wars, since we
had twice the force we had in a former war ? All this is insisted
upon, as if the French force was not at all augmented; whereas
the very arguments of the honourable gentleman, and indeed all
others on the same side with him, have always had for their basis
the tremendous force of the French. It is then asked, what have
we done in the present war? ? I would answer, " You have given
your enemy considerable annoyance, and might have done more,
if others had adhered to the cause as you have done." There
was a time when, if the combination had in all its parts been as
true to its profession, and as steady to the general interest, as it
is your glory to have been, you might have made, in conjunction
altogether, a formidable attack in the interior of France— there
was a time when, in my opinion, that might have been done ;
but it did not happen that the opportunity was seized as it might
have been : what then ? It will hardly be said that the fault of
neglecting it is imputable to His Majesty's ministers. Why then,
under these circumstances, and in this condition of things, I
would ask, what other object had we to look to, but that of en-
deavouring to diminish the force of the enemy ? I do not mean
to dwell on this point now, because it is one which the honour-
able gentleman did not dwell upon in his opening, and I am
unwilling to take up the time of the House in the discussion of
matters which are not insisted upon as those which require to be


2




Nov. 27.MR. PITT'S


discussed. But the honourable gentleman says, that so many
thousand British troops went upon an expedition, and so many
thousand British troops returned. Now, upon that point I have
to observe, that if you have in view an object which you have
reason to conceive you are competent to carry, which it is im-
portant for you to carry, which by good information you are
led to believe you could carry, or upon a full view of which
there is a chance of success, and that there appears no great
risk, and yet you find upon trial you are not able to succeed in
your point, but can nevertheless, after all, retire without loss:
1 want to know where the great. blame is that ought to attach
to you for such a proceeding, or wherein is the folly of your con-
duct ? This is the utmost that can be said against any thing
that we have undertaken ; and this I am ready to maintain in Life
presence of any number of military men in Europe. It is not
a point of military tactics, but of plain common sense ; and I
have mentioned this because I could not avoid feeling a little
on some of these points. As to the merit of any measures
which may have been adopted by His Majesty's ministers, I feel




it does not become me to say much : Whatever that merit may
be, a very large share of it falls to the lot of my right honourable
friend*; but if there be any thing to blame, I have only to


say,
1 will not admit that all the responsibility shall be exclusively
cast on him. If there be any ground for criminality or for cen-
sure, I beg leave to say, that it must be divided among His.
Majesty's ministers, and that I am ready to take my share : and
therefore the honourable gentleman will do well not to select
my right honourable friend as an individual against whom to
direct his objections. I wish the public to know, that it is not
to one individual, but the whole of His Majesty's councils, that
censure or applause should be given for any measure that


may
come before them to be judged.




The next point I shall take notice of, as brought forward by
-


the honourable gentleman, is the state and condition of our
allies. He has asked, what were our allies at one time, and what


=4' Mr. Dundas.


1800.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


213


t
hey are now ? I consider this as a very important point. He
has said, that we set out with Spain and Holland for our allies,
together with a favourable disposition towards us on the part of
Russia, whose court had expressed a strong desire of a just con-
duct to be observed towards neutral nations, together with a
determined hostility towards France. Prussia and France were


engaged in war before we became parties in this contest. Prussia
was ready to enter into an alliance with you when you were, I
will not say led, but forced into the war. I will not dwell on
the conduct of that power, but I would ask, in what part of the
government of this country was there to be found any blame for
the steps which were taken by Prussia upon the occasion? That
power stopped short, and got out of the confederacy on a


sudden ; but how was that imputable to us ? The honourable
gentleman laid great stress on this; and asked, on whom we were
to look as a perpetual ally ? But if none of them are to be
regarded, the fault is none of ours; we availed ourselves of their
assistance while we could have it ; if they have been less atten-
tive to their own interest than we have been to them and the
common cause, the blame is not with us ; we did not, nor had
we the means of entering into their speculations; our object was
to preserve good faith, and we did so; and if any of them at any
time wavered, the concern is theirs; as to the question of honour,
ours is entire. — I would ask, whether any man now doubts
of the propriety of our availing ourselves of the aid of Austria
and Prussia while we could obtain it ? As to Spain, I have said
already what I think of the shameful dereliction of that court ;
but that power is now in a condition that renders it very im-
probable that its hostility can be important to this country. In
a word, as far as the question of' alliance is applied to us, we
have the satisfaction to feel that we have more than once rallied
all the powers of Europe to make efforts in the common cause,


to which we have contributed an ample share, and kept good
faith inviolate. This is the real state of the case.


There is one objection which the honourable gentleman has
stated to the conduct of His Majesty's ministers, and I admit, if


r 3




214, MR. PITI"S
[Nov.


there is any ground for it, they ought not only to be
censured,but this House ought, without any delicacy, or apprehension for


the present condition of things, to address His Majesty to dismiss
them from his service at once ; that, is, that His Majesty's mi-
nisters form an obstacle to the attainment of a safe and honour-
able peace. — That we are to look for this, more from


ourselvesthan from our allies, is unquestionably true; but what peace is it
that we are to make ? The honourable gentleman says, we have
no security with regard to our allies ; let us suppose, for the sake
of the argument, that we have not ; what then is to follow ? That
we are to try to obtain peace at all events ? Shall we tell Buona-
parte that we have no confidence in our allies, and that therefore
we wish to treat with him for peace ? I


say, No ! I say, if I had
no confidence in our allies, I would not make that humble


suprt-
cation for peace. I would at worst put forward the best resource
of this country to maintain the contest until we should be able
to obtain a safe and honourable peace ; and I am persuaded
that cringing for it is not the way to obtain an honourable peace.
Having said this, I will add, by the way, that when gentlemen
talk of peace, I cannot persuade myself they mean any but a safe
and honourable one; and yet to bring forward into debate, in this
House, topics which are calculated to impress upon ourselves at
home, and our enemies abroad, an idea that we are distressed,
and that we distrust our government, I cannot help thinking is a
mode but ill adapted to the accomplishment of that object. It
was indeed, if the-House adopted this motion, the way to make the
people distrust, and our enemies despise, our government.


A's to
the conduct of our ally the Emperor, I will repeat ivhat I had oc-
casion to state on a former night. I said, I had no idea, that, pre-
vious to the battle of Marengo, there was any intention on behalf
of His Imperial Majesty to enter on a renewal ofnegotiation with
France, separately and distinctly. I did distinctly state, that at
and from that period the First Consul of France made some pro-
posals for that purpose ; that, previous to the battle of Marengo,
there was a proposal made to His Imperial Majesty, but that there
was not any disposition shown in the whole of that time, in the


100.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


215


•court of Vienna, to make a separate peace. I do declare that I
believe we have the whole intelligence that belongs to that subject,
nor have I the least distrust of the sincerity of His Imperial Ma-
jesty in refusing to enter into a separate negotiation. Since that
time we have assurances from the court of Vienna, of the most
rigid adherence to the same principle of refusal to enter into a se-
parate negotiation, and to pursue the same plan as that on which
that refusal was founded. I stated this the other night. to come
up to the 4th of November : I am able now to carry the same
intelligence to a later period by a few days, that is, up to the 9th
of November. I have no reason to distrust the sincerity of the
professions of His Imperial Majesty, as conveyed by that intelli-
gence. So stands that part of the case upon our alliance with
Austria. But I know also, that great and extraordinary exertions
have been made. I should add, that I will not make myself a
guarantee for what may hereafter happen ; I will not be answer-
able, for I cannot prophesy what new events may happen, or
whether any or what over-ruling necessity may change either the
conduct or the councils of the court of Vienna. I can only say,


ghat as far as I have known, and I have no reason to distrust my
information, the court of Vienna is hitherto explicit. III should
be disappointed in my expectation, I can only say I cannot
help it; but hitherto I have no reason to think I shall. The
question therefore is, what is prudent for us to do in the prose-
cution of this contest ? I say, the wisest course we can take is to
preserve the character that we have for honour and good faith,
on which may yet depend the safety of Europe.


I should now come, in order, to the parenthesis of the honour-
able gentleman on the state of our constitution. But, first, for
the sake of connection on the subject of our allies, I will say a
word or two respecting the Emperor of Russia. Concerning the
embargo, to which the honourable gentleman has alluded, though
I have received no information on the subject, I am disposed to
believe the intelligence true ; particularly as we know that not
long ago a similar measure was adopted; an embargo was laid on
:and taken off in a few days—a circumstance by no means unlikely


4




216
MR. PITrS


[Nov. 27.
to take place on the present occasion. Whatever may have die-
tated this rash and precipitate step, 'this much I can say, that
nothing on the conduct of this government ever gave any cause
why the


magnanimity of the Emperor Paul should eo suddenly
have been withdrawn from the confederacy, in which his co-
operation must have been attended with so much benefit to
Europe ; and that no ground of difference has ever existed
between the two governments in any points, upon which any
variety of opinions can take place in this country.


And now 1 come to observe upon the state of our constitution,
as it was alluded to by the honourable gentleman. It is a point
on which I feel it would be improper for me to say much, for it
has been discussed over and over again in this House. I contend
that provisions have been adopted for the preservation of the


cony
stitution, which, but for such provisions, would have been destroy.
ed, and the honourable gentleman would not to-night have been


this House to expatiate upon these topics, nor should 1 have
been here to answer him. As to the influence of the crown, I will
only say, that its increase is a topic often resorted to for the pur-
poses of declamation ; but I can hardly think that any


.
man ever


seriously regards it as matter for alarm ; but even supposing it
to be increasing, which I deny, there certainly is no necessity
for going into a committee of the whole House to consider
of the state of the nation ; in order to consider of that subject,
there is, if necessary, a much more compendious way of arriving
at it.


The next point to which the honourable gentleman adverted,
was that of tine statement of finance and the internal state of the
country, particularly the price acorn. As to the corn, I find the
honourable gentleman wishes to inculcate this as an established
principle, that the war is the principal cause of the high price of
provisions, for which he stated three causes ; the increase of the
consumption, arising from waste partly of the army and navy;
the increase of expense, from importation; and the influence that
the issue of paper has occasioned, which has arisen from the stop-
page of the bank from payment in specie. These were the points,


7
1800] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.




21
500.


and the last was the principal one on which he dwelt. Now,
:Ton each of these I shall make some general observations ; but
as I did on the first day of the session, so I shall at the present mo-
ment, avoid detail upon these topics, partly because a minuteness
in general is dry and tedious, arid partly because I speak in the
hearing of many who have betterjudgmen ts than I have, especially
on the subject of paper-money. The preliminary observations are,
that there is waste in the consumption of the army and navy ;
there is great expense in importation from abroad; and there is a


depreciation in the relative value of the circulating medium by the
increase of the paper. First, I will observe, that all these causes
are not peculiar to the present year ; for many of them have been
stated to exist in as great, and some of' them in a greater degree
than they-do at present. In the years 1798 and 1790, we had a
greater number of military forces than we have at present; and as
to the stoppage of the payment of the bank, that stoppage has
taken place for some time, and the difference between thy paper
circulating medium of that time and the present is very inconsi-
derable. As to the taxes, which are supposed most to operate to
raise the price of articles, there are none of them that bear hard
upon the farmer, and can therefore have no immediate effect on
the price of corn. None of these can have been the . great cause
of the high price of provisions, because when these were at their
height, provisions were infinitely cheaper than they are at present;
nor can the war be the cause of the price, because the taxes have
been felt as severely as they are now, (within about 4-00,0001.
which was added last year,) and yet the high price of provisions
was not known when all these causes operated.


Here Mr. Pitt took aview of the beneficial effectsof the land-tax
redemption bill, the operation of the sinking fund, and the policy
of raising supplies within the year, as had been done by the assessed
taxes and the income bill, which he considered indeed as a solid
system of finance, but which he did not apprehend would become
perpetual in time of peace, as the honourable gentl eman had stated,


for it was capable • of modification as it now stood ; and, it would
perhaps he prudent, after a given interval of peace, to relax its




218 MR. PITT'S [Nov.27.
present exaction ; it would otherwise in some respects change
its character, being only a war-tax; however opportunities would
occur hereafter to consider these topics. As to exchequer bills, he
had to observe, that they ought not to be considered as currency,
except such of them as were of short dates. It was much talked
of, that the exchequer bills were a mass of paper which was inju-
rious to the public ; but this year they had been circulated at a
premium instead of a discount, which they usually were at ; this,
he contended, proved beyond dispute that the market was not, as
the honourable gentleman contended, overstocked with a circu-
lating medium, for if that were so, these bills could not possibly
be at a premium, they must of necessity be at a discount : from
these points the honourable gentleman had given a general state
of the finance of the country. He did not conceive that this was/
a time for going into a minute detail upon this subject; and he
thought the House would feel no difficulty in deciding that it was
not necessary to go into a committee on the state of the nation,
in order to enquire into these things ; for many of them had
already not only been discussed generally, but particularly, and
very much in detail, in a committee of the whole House ;
resolutions had been founded on them, and there had not been
offered in this discussion any thing that ought to change the
sentiments of the House upon the subject.


But the honourable gentleman had made one observation
which merited particular attention ; he had stated, by way of'
alternative, that either the present system must continue, and
the bank-payment in specie remain suspended, (which he said
would by-and-by ruin the country altogether, ) or else the
bank should resume its payments in cash, and then it would be
impossible to continue the contest. Now, this was a dilemma in
which he hoped the House would never find this country. He
hoped and trusted that we were neither reduced to the one nor
the other of these two points, but that we should be able to
continue that system by which we had hitherto avoided danger,
and that we were far from being under any necessity of changing
it ; nor did he believe the House would adopt any such doctrine


1800.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 219


as this ; they would, on the contrary, explode it, for the
tendency of it was to proclaim to the enemy our inability to
continue the contest, in which our existence as a free nation was
at stake. A feeling was always ready to manifest itself on the
consideration of this subject, which required no aid from the
eloquence of any man ; the bare statement of it was sufficient.
In one word, the motion of the honourable gentleman contained
a naked proposition, which was this — " Whether the House
would now, without reason, abandon a proposition which they
had so often, and with the best reason, adopted, and uniformly
acted upon ?" As to the calculation of the probable expense
of continuing the war, he should not now go into it ; he was
of opinion that it could not be materially different from that
which attended it the last year ; nor was this any thing of a
reason for going into a committee on the state of the nation.


I therefore submit, Mr. Pitt continued, that, upon the whole
of what has been laid before the House to-night, I have said
enough to satisfy it, that upon none of the grounds stated by
the honourable gentleman is he justified in calling upon this
House to institute an enquiry into the state of the nation ; that
much of what the honourable gentleman has stated to-night
arises out of matter which has been discussed over and over
again, and well decided ; that his facts are misplaced ; and that,
as far as he proceeds on reasoning, his reasoning is fallacious :
and therefore do I conclude, that there is no just ground laid
before you for a committee to enquire into the state of the
nation. That is the general ground of opposition which I state
on the one hand : — on the other, I say that the internal state of
the country requires your attention in a special manner to other
topics, and that your time ought not to be consumed in unneces-
sary discussions upon points which lead to no practical conclu-
sion ; that you will have a committee up stairs, which will take
due care of the most immediate interests of the country at this
important crisis ; that this motion leads to no immediate or
remote advantage ; that it may do mischief, by holding out
encouragement to the enemy, and by causing a diffidence, if not


so




220 MR. PITT'S [FEE. 2.
despondency, in the people of this country, by teaching them
to suspect that there is something in the state of the nation
which is alarming — for which there is no foundation. For all
these reasons I do give my decided opposition to this motion.


The motion was negatived;
Ayes 37
Noes


157


February 2. 1801.
Down on the address of thanks to His Majesty for his most gracious


Speech*. on opening the session.
The address being moved by Sir Watkin Williams Wynne, and second-


ed by Mr. Cornwallis,
Mr. Grey proposed the following amendment : —
" And that this House will proceed with all possible dispatch to make


such enquiries into the general state of the nation, but more especially
into the conduct ofthc war, and into our relations with foreign powers,
as May enable us to offer to His Majesty such advice as we may think most
conducive to the honour of his crown, and the general interests of his
people.


" And further, to assure His Majesty, that if; owing to any unjust and
unreasonable pretensions on the part of the enemy, peace cannot be
obtained on such terms as are consistent with security; if the represent-
ations which His Majesty has directed to be made to the court of Pe-
tersburgh, in consequence of the outrages committed against the ships,
property, and persons of his subjects, have not received that reparation
which the nature of the case requires ; and if the differences which appear
unhappily to have arisen between His,Majesty and the other Northern
Powers, are of a nature which presses for innnediate decision ; and the
impossibility of any equitable adjustment renders new and more extend-
ed wars inevitable, we will give His Majesty every support which the
means of the country can afford; in the just hope and confidence that
His Majesty's paternal care for the welfare of his people will induce
him to take such measures as shall prevent henceforward a calamitous
waste of their remaining strength-and resources, either by improvident
and ineffectual projects, or by general negligence and profusion ; and
shall ensure a wise and vigorous administration of their affairs, under
the unexampled difficulties in which they are now involved."


Sec next page.


1801.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 921


Mr. PITT then rose :
Sir, in rising to make some observations upon what has fallen


from the honourable gentlemant , I cannot avoid noticing a curious
proposition which he advanced in the early part of his speech,


" My Lords and Gentlemen,
"


At a crisis so important to the interests of my people, I derive great
satisfaction from being enabled, for the first time, to avail myself of the
adsice and assistance of the parliament of my United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Ireland.


" This memorable mra, distinguished by the accomplishment of a mea-
sure calculated to augment and consolidate the strength and resources of
the empire, and to cement more closely the interests and affections of my
subjects, will, I trust, be equally marked by that vigour, energy, and firm-
ness, which the circumstances of our present situation peculiarly require.


" The unfortunate course of events on the continent, and the con-
sequences which must be expected to result from it, cannot fail to be
matter of anxiety and concern to all who have a just feeling for the
security and independence of Europe.


" Your astonishment, as well as your regret, must be excited by the-
conduct of those powers, whose attention, at such a period, appears to
be more engaged in endeavours to weaken the naval force of the British
empire, which has hitherto opposed so powerful an obstacle to the
inordinate ambition of France, than in concerting the means of mutual
defence against their common and increasing danger.


" The representations which I directed to be made to the court of
Petersburgh, in consequence of the outrages committed against the ships,
property, and persons of my subjects, have been treated with the utmo st
disrespect ; and the proceedings of which I complained have been aggra-
vated by subsequent acts of injustice and violence.


" Under these circumstances, a convention has been concluded by that
court with those of Copenhagen and Stockholm, the object of which, as
avowed by one of the contracting parties, is to renew their former en-
gagements for establishing, by force, a new code of maritime law, incon-
sistent with the rights and hostile to the interests of this country.


" In this situation, I could not hesitate as to the conduct which it
became me to pursue. I have taken the earliest measures to repel the
aggression of this hostile confederacy, and to support those principles
which are essential to the maintenance of our naval strength, and which
are grounded on the system of public laws, so long established and
recognised in Europe.


1• Mr. Grey.




222 MR. prrts
[FEB. 2.


and which he repeater
.
towards the conclusion of it, but with less.


confidence, viz. that the minority in this House, in point of fact,
speak the sense of the majority of the people. Upon what. ground
the honourable gentleman has made that assertion, I am utterly
incapable of guessing: but if it be true, every one of those great


I have, at the same time, given such assurances as manifest my dis-
position to renew my ancient relations with those powers whenever it
can be done consistently with the honour of my crown, and with a just
regard to the safety of my subjects. You will, I am persuaded, omit
nothing on your part that can afford me the most vigorous and effectual
support in my firm determination to maintain, to the utmost, against
every attack, the naval rights and the interests of my empire.


" Gentlemen of the House of•Commons,
"I have directed the estimates for the several branches of the pudic


service to be laid before you : deeply as I lament the continued necessits:
of adding to the burdens of my people, I am persuaded you will feel with
me the importance of providing effectual means for those exertions which
are indispensably requisite for the honour and security of the country.


" My Lords and Gentlemen,
" I am confident that your deliberations will be uniformly directed to


the great object of improving the benefits of that happy union, which,
by the blessing of Providence, has now been effected; and ofpromoting,
to the utmost, the prosperity of every part of my dominions.


" You will, I doubt not, resume the enquiries which were so diligently
prosecuted in the last session of parliament, as to the best means of re-
lieving my subjects from the pressure of the present high price of pro-
visions; and of preventing, as far as it can be done by human foresight,
the recurrence of similar difficulties. In these endeavours, and in every
measure that can contribute to the happiness of my people, the great
end of all my wishes, you may be assured of my cordial concurrence,


" You may rely on my availing myself of the earliest opportunity which
shall afford a prospect of terminating the present contest, on grounds con-


• sistent with our security and honour, and with the maintenance of those es-
sential rights on which our naval strength must always principally depend.


" It will afford me the truest and most heartfelt satisfaction, whenever
the disposition of our enemies shall enable me thus to restore to the sub-
jects of my United Kingdom the blessings of peace, and thereby confirm
and augment those advantages which result from our internal situation,
and which, even under all the difficulties of war, have carried to so great
an extent the agriculture, manufactures, commerce, and revenue of the
country."


1801.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 223


and honourable efforts by which, in the course of nine years, we
have secured the independence and exalted the character of' this
country, which have enabled us to withstand the dangers and vi-
cissitudes of this most arduous contest, which have afforded the
means of security to Europe, at the same time that they have
hitherto saved this country from the calamities which have visited-
almost all the rest of the globe — if; I say, the honourable gentle-
man's proposition be true, then all these noble efforts have been
made for n ine years, not only without the consent, but against the
opinion of a majority of this House and of this country. Before
the honourable gentleman can establish that proposition, he must
convince the majority that they ought. now to act in direct oppo-
sition to every principle upon which their conduct has hitherto
been founded ; and I confess 1 do not expect that he will succeed
in such an attempt. I do not believe there are any among us who
sat in this House in the last session of parliament, who do not
recollect the discussions which took place upon every subject
which the honourable gentleman has commented upon in his
speech, (except one, which forms the more immediate question
before the House, and to which I shall come by-and-by) ; I do
not believe, I say, that any of these gentlemen can lightly forget
the opinions which they formed, and the principles upon which
they acted. I do not believe, Sir, (being one of those who think
as highly as my honourable friends who moved and seconded the
Motion for the address, of that important measure which has con-
solidated the strength of the empire,) that these honourable
gentlemen whom we have this day, for the first time, the happi-
ness of seeing among us, will disappoint the sanguine expect-
ations that we formed of benefits to result from that important
event. I am sure they have brought with them the same zeal,
and the same principles which have supported us against. an host
of enemies. These gentlemen have had, in another place, the
severe duty imposed upon them of contending with jacobinism
on their own soil, and I am sure they would not wish to infuse
that timidity into us, the least mixture of which would have been
certain ruin to them. Whatever may be the confident language
which the honourable gentleman may think proper to use upon




224 225MR. PITT'S
[FES. 2.


this occasion, I cannot but believe that the present is a proper
time for the discussion of that great and important question •
which is prepared for us by events, which we could not control,
but which we must meet.


The honourable gentleman has, in the course of his speech,
introduced several topics which, he says, have been frequently
discussed before, and which he expresses his hope will again be
investigated. Upon both these grounds, I am not disposed-to
trouble the House at length, upon any of these subjects, at
present. There is, indeed, but one new question before the
House, I mean that which has been announced to us in His
Majesty's most gracious speech from the throne, respecting our
differences with the Northern Powers. Sir, I must confess tat
the manner in which the honourable gentleman has treated
every part of this subject has really filled me with astonish-
ment, both when I consider the general plan of his speech, and
the particular statements into which he went in support of his
argument. The honourable gentleman thought it right, in the
first place, to express his doubts of the justice of our claim,:
with respect to neutral vessels ; and in the next place (which
appeared to me fully as singular) to question the importance of
the point now at issue. But though the honourable gentleman
seemed disposed to entertain doubts on points upon which
believe there is hardly another man to be found in this country
rho would hesitate for a moment, yet there were other points
upon which his mind appeared to be free from doubt, and his
opinions completely made up. If, after a full discussion of this
question, it should appear that the claim which this country
has made is founded on the clearest and most indisputable jus-
tice— if it should he proved that our greatness, nay, our very
existence as a nation, and every thing that has raised us to the
exalted situation which we hold, depends upon our possessing and
exercising this — if, I say, all this should be proved in the most
satisfactory manner, still the honourable gentleman is prepared
seriously to declare in this House, that such arc the circumstances
in which we stand, that we ought publicly and explicitly to state
to the world that we are unequal to the contest, and that we must


1801.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.
quietly -give up for ever an unquestionable right, and one upon
which not only our character, but our very-existence as a mari-
time power depends. This is the conduct which the honourable
gentleman advises us to pursue at once, without determining,
without investigating, whether it is compatible with our safety.
I really find much difficulty, Sir, in reconciling this language to
that sort of spirit which the honourable gentleman talks of in
another part of his speech, in which he says, he is far from wish-
ing to make the country despond. — [Mr. Grey here said across
the table, that he had been misunderstood.]—S ir , I am stating
what the honourable gentleman said, and I shall be happy to
find that he did not mean what he said.


I shall now, Sir, endeavour to follow the honourable gentle-
man through his argument, as far as I can recollect it, upon the
important question of the Northern confederacy. In following
the order which he took, I must begin with his doubts, and end
with his certainties ; and I cannot avoid observing that the ho,
nourable gentleman was singularl y unfortunate upon this subject,
for -he entertained doubts where there was not the slightest ground
for hesitation ; and he contrives to make up his mind to absolute
certainty, upon points in which both argument and fact are de-
cidedly against him. That part of the question upon which the
honourable gentleman appears to be involved in doubt, is with
respect to the justice of our claim in regard to neutral vessels.
In commenting upon this part of the subject, the honourable gen-
tleman gave us a lesson in politics, which is more remarkable-for
its soundness than its novelty, viz. that a nation ought not to
enforce a claim that is not founded in justice, and that nothing
would be found to be consistent with true policy that was not
conformable to strict justice. I thought, however, I heard the
honourable gentleman in another part.of his speech, where he
was arguing the question of the expediency and propriety of our
negotiating a separate peace with France, contend that no con-
sideration of good faith to Austria ought to prevent us from en-
tering into such a negotiation.— [Mr. Grey said, he had not laid
that down , as a principle, but Merely with respect to the,. eir.


VOL. III.




'226 MR. PITT'S
[FEB. 2,


cumstances under which we stood with regard to Austria.] —
I am glad to hear the honourable gentleman contradict me,
but I certainly understood him to say so. I am also glad to find,
that when the issue of fact is found against him, he has no
demurrer in reserve upon the principle. Upon the justice, how-
ever, of our claim, the honourable gentleman states himself to be
wholly in doubt. There is, Sir, in general, a degree of modesty
in doubting, that conciliates very much, and a man is seldom
inclined to bear hard. upon an antagonist whose attack does not
exceed the limits of a doubt. But, Sir, when a gentleman doubts
that which has been indisputably established for more than a
century— when he doubts that which has been an acknowledged
principle of law in all the tribunals of the kingdom, whichpre
alone competent to decide upon the subject, and which parlia-
ment has constantly known them to act upon — when he doubts
principles which the ablest and wisest statesmen have uniformlt
adopted—I say, Sir, the doubt that calls in question principles so.
established, without offering the slightest ground for so doing,
shows a great deal of that pert presumption which, as often as
modesty, leads to scepticism. I wish to ask every gentleman in
the House whether it has not been always known that such was
the principle upon which our courts were acting from the corn- )sie,
mencement of the present war up to the moment that I am spealea
ing ? I ask whether that principle has not been maintainedein
every war ? Let me at the same time ask, whether, in the course
of the speeches of the gentlemen on the other side of the House,
any one topic of alarm has been omitted, which either fact could
furnish or ingenuity supply ? I believe I shall not be answered
in the negative, and yet I believe I may safely assert, that it never
occurred to any one member to increase the difficulties of the


CYO


country by stating a doubt upon the question of right ; and it
will be . a. most singular circumstance, that the honourable gentle-
man and his friends should only have begun to doubt when our
enemies are ready to begin to combat. But though I have heard
dotibts expressed upon a subject on which it appeared to me that
a doubt could hardly have entered the mind of an Englishman,


12


1801.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 227


have not heard one word to show on what ground there can exist
a doubt upon the justice of our claim—a claim which, until this
House decides the contrar y , I shall consider as part of the law of
the land; for I consider the maritime law, and the law of nations,
as acted upon in our courts, to be part of the law of the land.
I speak in the presence of some learned gentlemen who are con-
versant in the practice of the courts to which I allude, and who,
I am sure, will contradict me if I state that-which is incorrect.
I ask any of these learned gentlemen whether they would suffer
the principle upon which our claim rests, to be called in luestion
in any of their courts ? But when we come to consider this
question as applying to the contest in which we may be engaged,
there are so many considerations that are decisive upon the sub-ject, that I am really convinced by the manner in which the
honourable gentleman treated it, that Iris. doubts have all arisen
from his not having looked into the question.


There *are two Ways in which this subject is to be considered ;
the first is, What has been the general law of nations upon this
subject, independent of any particular treaties which may have
been made ? The next is, how far any precise treaties affect it,
with regard to the particular powers who are the objects of the
present dispute? With respect to the law of nations, I know
that the principle upon which we are now acting, and for which
I am now contending, has been universally admitted and acted
upon, except in cases where it has been restrained or modified by
particular treaties between- different states. And here I must
observe, that. the honourable gentleman has fallen into the same
error which constitutes the .great fallacy in the reasoning of the
advocates for the Northern powers, namely, that every excep-
tion from the general law by a particular treaty, proves the law
to be as it is stated in that treaty ; whereas the very circumstance
of making an exception by treaty, proves what the general law of
nations would be, if no such treaty were made to modify or alter
it. The honourable gentleirian alludes to the treaty made be-
tween this country and France in the year 1787, known by the
name of the Commercial treaty. In that treaty it certainly was


Q 2




228
MR. PITT'S


[ZEE.
E. 2.


stipulated, that in the event of Great Britain being engaged in a
war, and France being neutral, she should have the advantage
now claimed, and vice versa ; but the honourable gentleman con-
fesses that he recollects that the very same objection was made
at, that time, and was fully answered, and that it was clearly
proved, that no part of our stipulation in that treaty tended to a
dereliction of the principle for which we are now contending.
Besides, when it is considered how far the interests of this coon.
try can be implicated in a naval war in which France is neutral.
it Will not afford any proof either that we considered the principle
as unimportant, or that we gave it up. I could, without in the
slightest degree weakening the cause which I am endeavouring to
support, give to the honourable gentleman all the benefitlie car,
possibly derive from the commercial treaty with France, and
from particular treaties with other states, and I should be glad to
know what advantage he could derive from such an admission,.
If he could show treaties with any given number of states, still,
if there were any state in Europe with whom no such treaty was
in existence, with that state the law of nations, such as I emnow
contending for, must be in full force. Still more it will be
lowed to me, that if there is any nation that has forborne to be
party of these treaties, that maintained this principle and has en"
forced its rights; in such a case, no inference that can be dray4
from treaties with other powers, can have any weight. The /ut-
most the honourable gentleman could argue, and even in that
do not think he would be founded in justice, would be this—that,
if there was no general consent with respect to the principles, par-
ticular treaties ought to serve as a guide in other cases. But
what will the honourable gentleman say, if, instead of my stating
an imaginary case, I give to him this short answer, that with
every one of the three Northern powers with whom we are at
present in dispute, independent of the law of nations, of' our
uniform practice, and of the opinions of our courts, we have the
strict letter of engagements by which they are bound to us
What will he say, if I shew that their present conduct to us its
as much a violation of positive treaties with us, as it is of the


1801.3 PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


229


law of nations ? With respect to Denmark and Sweden,. nobody
here, I am sure, has to learn that the treaties of 1661 and 1670
,.re now in full force, and nobody can read those treaties with-
out seeing that the right of carrying enemies' property is com-
pletely given up. With regard to Russia, the right of this
country never was given by us. It undoubtedly was very much.
discussed during the time that the treaty of commerce with
Russia was negotiating ; but I will not rest my argument upon
negative evidence. In the convention signed between Great
Britain and Russia at the commencement of the present war,
the latter bound herself not merely to observe this.principle by
a convention, (not done away, unless we have unjustly corn.
mcnced hostilities against her,) but she engaged to use her efforts
to prevent neutral powers from protecting the commerce of
France on the seas or in the ports of France. Laying aside
then every other ground upon which I contend that the
principle I am now maintaining is, supported, still I say, that
the treaties with these three powers, Russia, Sweden, and Den-
mark, are now in full force, and I ask, whether it is possible to
suggest any one ground, upon which it can be contended that
these powers are released from their engagements to us ? So
much for the justice of the claim.


I will not, Sir, take up much more of the time of the House,
because there will be papers laid before the House, which will
place the subject in a clearer point of view than can be done in
the course of a debate: — but I must say, that with regard to
these powers the case does not stop here. What will the ho-
nourable gentleman say if I shew him, that in the course of the
present war, both Denmark and Sweden have distinctly ex-
pressed their readiness to agree in that very principle, against
which they are disposed to contend, and that they made ac-
knowledgments to us for not carrying the claim so far as Russia
was disposed to carry it? What will the honourable gentleman
say, if I shew him that Sweden, who in the year 1780 agreed to
the armed neutrality, has since then•been at war herself, and'
then acted upon a principle directly contraryto that which she


Q3




230
MR. PITrS
[FEB. 2.


agreed to in
the year 1780, and to that upon which she- is now


disposed to act? In the war between Sweden and Russia, the
former distinctly acted upon that very principle for which we


are
now contending. What will the honourable gentleman say,


if Ishow him that in the last autumn, Denmark,. with her fleets
and arsenals at our mercy, entered into a


solemnpledge not
again to send vessels with convoy, until the principle was set-
tied; and that, notwithstanding this solemn pledge, this state
has entered into a new convention, similar to that which was
agreed to in 1780? One of the engagements of that treaty is,
that its stipulations are to be maintained by force of arms. Here
then is a nation bound to .us by treaty, and who has recently
engaged not even to send a convoy until the point should be
determined, that tells us she has entered into an


engagement,by which she is bound to support that principle by force of
arms. Is this, or is it not, war ? Is it not that which, if' we had
not heard the honourable gentleman this night, would lead a
man to think he insulted an Englishman by questioning his feel-
ings upon the subject ? But, Sir,


when all these circumstances
-are accompanied by ar


maments, prepared at a period of the
year when they think they have -time for preparation without
being exposed to our navy, His Majesty informs you, that thee
courts have avowed the principles of the 4eaty of 1780, known
by the name of the Armed Neutrality ; but then the honourable
gentleman says, "


we do not know the precise terms of thepre-
,.sent treaty, and therefore we ought to take no steps until we


are completely apprised of its contents." It-is true, we do not
know the exact terms of the treaty ; but I should think


if wedemand to know, whether they have made
engagements whichwe consider as hostile to our interests, and they tell us they


have, but do not tell us what exceptions are made in Our favour,
we are not, I should think, bound td guess them, or to


givethem credit for them until they are shown to us. How far
.0" would the honourable gentleman push his


argument? Will he say,
that we ought to wait quietly for the treaty, that we ought to
take no step, until we have read it paragraph by paragraph, and


1801.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEE CH E S. "231


that then we should acknowledge to those powers that we are
now dispirited and not prepared to dispute the point? Does he
mean that we should give them time to assemble all their forces,
and enable them to produce something like a substitute for the
fallen navy of France? Is this the conduct which the honour-
able gentleman would recommend to the adoption of this
country? Are we to wait till we see the article itself, until we
see the seal to the contract of our destruction, before we take
any means to insure our defence?


Sir, I will not trouble the House any longer upon the question
of right, I come now to the question of expedience, and upon
this part of the subject the honourable gentleman is not-so much


doubt. The question is, whether we are to permit the navy of
our enemy to be supplied and recruited—whether we are to suffer
blockaded forts to he furnished with warlike stores and provisions
— whether we are to suffer neutral nations, by hoisting a flag
upon a sloop, or a fishing-boat, to convey the treasures of South
America to the harbours of Spain, or the naval stores of the
Baltic to Brest or Toulon ? Are these the propositions which
gentlemen mean to contend for ? I really have heard no argu-
ment upon the subject, yet. [Mr. Sheridan and Dr. Laurence
entered the House together, and sat down upon the opposite
bench.1 I suppose I shall be answered by-and-by, as I see
there is an accession of new members to the confederacy, who
will, I have no doubt, add to the severity and to the length- of
the contest. I would ask, Sir, has there been any period since
we have been a naval country, in which we have not acted upon
this principle ? The honourable gentleman talks of the destruc-
tion of the naval power of France; but does he really believe that
her marine would have been decreased to the degree that it now
is,. if, during the whole of the war, this very principle had not
been acted upon? and if the commerce of France had- not been
destroyed, does he believe that, if the fratteltdent system of
neutrals had not been prevented, her navy wonid hot have been
in antery different situation from that in which it now is ? Does
he not know that the naval preponderance, which we have by


it




1801.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 2?.35


only in a secondary degree. I think the question of right in
dispute between us and the confederated powers, so eminently
important, that it claims, at this hour, the undivided attention
of this House. As to what has been said on other topics, of
the censures which ought to be cast on the counsel we have had
any share in giving, for the prosecution of the war, I have the
consolation of knowing what they are likely to be, from areeol-
lection of what they have repeatedly been — that they will most
probably be put in the same way, and will admit of being an-
swered in the same way, as they have been already answered as
often as they were brought forward, and I cannot help flatter-
ing myself with the same success. I hope also that the public
will feel, as they have repeatedly felt, that the calamities which
have overspread Europe, and which have affected, to a certain
degree, this country, though much less than any other, have
not been owing to any defect on our part, but that we have
pursued principles best calculated for the welfare of human so-
ciety, the nature and effect of which have been frequently com-
mented upon by those who have opposed, and by those who
have supported these principles, and with whom I had the
honour to act, and still have the honour of acting; on which,
I say, the power, the security, the honour of this nation has
depended, and which, I trust, the perseverance and firmness of
parliament and the nation will not cease to pursue, while
Majesty's servants discharge their duty.


Mr. Grey's amendment was negatived;
Ayes 63
Noes 215


end the address was then put and carried.


232 MR. PITT'S [FEE. 2.
these means acquired, has given security to this country, and_
has more than once afforded chances for the salvation of Europe ?
In the wreck of the continent, and the disappointment of our
hopes there, what has been the security of this country, but its.
naval preponderance ?— and if that were once gone, the spirit
of the country would go with it. If we had no


-other guide, if
we had nothing else to look to but the experience of the present
war, , that alone proves, not the utility, but the necessity of
maintaining a principle so important to the power, and even to
the existence of this country.


There was something rather singular in the manner in which
the honourable gentleman commented upon, and argued from,
the destruction of the naval power of France ; he says, hr ma-
rine is now so much weakened, that we may now relinquish the
means by which we have so nearly destroyed it ; and, at the
very same moment, he holds out the terrors of an invasion of
Ireland. The honourable gentleman says, " We are not now,
as we were in the year 1780, shrinking from the fleets of
France arid Spain in the Channel :" but, if that was our 'only
excuse for not asserting the principle in the year 1780, wnhaye
not now, happily for this country, the same reason for not pel\.
silting in our rights ; and the question rkw is, whether, witl
increased proofs of the necessity of acting upon that principl,,
and with increased means of supporting it, we are for ever/to
give it up ? •


As to the necessity of making enquiries into charges which are
to be exhibited against any part of the conduct of administra-
tion, and which are to be founded upon a review of- their past
conduct, it is announced by the honourable gentleman, that we
are to have them laid before us. We shall have opportunity of
discussing them abundantly : none of them touch the 'point


r which is now before us ; for the amendment, as it stands; would
only be embarrassed by reference to these topics. I think the
amendment calculated to obstruct the proceedings of this coun-
try, on which its safety depends. Many other topics alluded
to by the honourable 'gentleman are important, but they are so




MR. PITT'S EIVIAitcH IZ


March 12. 1801.


Loan C A STLERZAG.II having moved, as a preliminary to another mo_
Lion, of which he had given notice, respecting the necessity of continu,
ing to enforce martial law in Ireland, "That the act for the suppression
of the lse rebellion in Ireland be read,"


Mr. Sheridan rose, and, after expressing his objections to the mea-
sure proposed, moved, " That the House do now adjourn."


Mr. PITT:-


I feel that the debate in which we are now engaged involves
the whole merits of the proposal which my noble friend has an-
nounced his intention to submit, though by the singular use
which the honourable gentleman opposite` has made of a mete
of proceeding within the order of the House, we are nominally
discussing his motion for adjournment. That course which the
honourable gentleman has adopted is the more extraordinary, as
every thing that he said, every argument he adduced, would
have applied as well after the proposition had been explained,
as it did before my noble friend's motion was anticipated...-


Before I proceed to the main question, however, I beg leave'.
to take notice of an observation of the honourable gentleman, t
on which he seemed to lay great stress, as be pronounced it with
uncommon emphasis. The honourable gentiernat appeared to,
be surprised at a remark of my noble friend, that the necessity
which demanded a measure so unexampled as that which he was
about to propose, was the effect of the malignant character
of the jacobin principle. The honourable gentleman spoke of
jacobins in power, and jacobins out


,
of power, but he did not


condescend to explain distinctly these allusions. He seemed
indeed to point obscurely to some share which my noble friend
had, at some period, taken in the question of parliamentary
reform. Surely, however, the honourable gentleman will not
contend that there is not some distinction between the subject
of parliamentary reform and jacobinical principles ; surely, he


Mr. Sheridan.
:n.1r. Grey.


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 235


will contend that there can be no situation in which a friend
to parliamentary reform may be free from the taint of those
doctrines which have spread such confusion throughout
Europe. If the honourable gentleman himself has supported the
cause of parliamentary reform at a period when he had little
support in the country, except from those who professed that
object to conceal deeper and more dangerous views, he cannot
find any suspicion of jacobinism in the conduct of him who
maintained that cause at a period when it was connected with
no such deceitful alloy, and threatened no such fatal conse-
quences. I am not so uncharitable as to suppose that every
man who is now a friend to parliamentary reform must he a
friend to jacobin principles ; I only crave that the honourable
gentleman would allow that indulgence to those who embraced
that cause at a time less liable to suspicion and misconstruction
than that in which some others have agitated the question. If
those who brought it forward, connected as it is with the doc-
trines of the rights of man and the French revolution, when
detected and exposed as the pretext of those who were en-
gaged in a traitorous conspiracy in Ireland to overturn the
government, and when some of its most zealous supporters
here were suspected of similar machinations, could claim a fair
construction of their motives, they cannot refuse . the same
charitable interpretation to those who have less occasion for
the indulgence. If, however, the honourable gentleman is
more studious to 'accuse himself than to acquit others in his
views upon this subject, .it is a very strange species of candour.;
the full credit of which leave undisputed to the honourable
gentleman.


Returning, however, from this digression to the principal
question, I must presume that it seems presumptuous to attempt
adding any thing to the able, perspicuous, and convincing speech,
with which my noble friend opened the case — a speech which,
I trust, will not merely be sufficient to satisfy the House of the
vote which they ought. to give -to-night, but afford ground of
congratulation, and on all questions connected with the affairs




MR. PITTS
CMARcH 12.


of Ireland, and indeed all other topics of deliberation, we shall
have the assistance of the same talents in an enemy of jaco-
binistn. I shall take the liberty to offer a few remarks on
the answer which the honourable gentleman endeavoured to
give to the arguments of my noble friend. The honourable
gentleman observed, that my noble friend had said, that the
measure was " unexampled," and yet, almost in the same breath,
he complained that he had advanced no precedents in support
of it ! My honourable friend did say that the measure was unex-
ampled ; but how unexampled ? It is indeed a measure


. unex-
ampled in the necessity by which it is called for, and yet, I will
assert, unexampled in the lenity by which it is distinguished.
In former times, when it was found necessary to resort to mar-
tial law, the contests were soon decided in the field. They did.
not, on the present cause of its application, pervade


?Try


part of the machine of government, every artery of the social
system ; they did not enter into all the concerns of the


,commit-
Lity, poison all the comforts of private life, and all the sources
of public security. The mischief and the danger came armed
into the field ; and, the


• battle won, the victors and the van-
quished again enjoyed, though in different proportions, the com-
forts and the advantages of the social state. In this cage,
however, the danger is of another and more malignant species.
Here, under the baneful influence of jacobinismAyour enemies,
although defeated in the field, only separate ; the vital principle
of enmity to order and social comfort still remains, confin4
indeed, in scantier bounds, and with diminished means, though
with undiminished rancour. The prerogative of exercising mar-
tial law, which was adequate to a sudden attack, and to a pass-
ing danger, is not equal to contend with a rebellion founded
on principles so secret, so disseminated, so powerful, and so
persevering. To obviate the defects of martial law, extended
upon prerogative, it is necessary to improve and to enfore it
by legislative provisions.


Having settled what is the description of the measure, it is
asked, what is the call for it.? To this we answer, that the pub


-


1801.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


237


lic safety imperiously demands it ; we contend that it is ne-
cessary for the defence of the government, for the safety of the


lives-an d the property of His Majesty's faithful subjects. If we
had trusted to the operation of martial law, introduced and main-
tained by prerogative alone, we should have established it in
concurrence with the jurisdiction of the civil courts ; or rather,
in order to meet the designs of the desperate and disaffected, we
should have been compelled to withdraw the benefits of the law
from the whole of His Majesty's peaceable subjects in Ireland.
Which course then is to be preferred? Shall the government re-
nounce its guard and-control over the designs of the disaffected?
Shall it give room for rebellion, contracted in its sphere and
broken in its concert, to rally its courage and reunite its scat-
tered parts? Or shall we have recourse to that system of martial
law which Would deprive the unoffiending of its protection ? Or


shall we not act more wisely in preferring a system which com-
bines the benefits of law with the vigour of precaution ; which
obtains the safety of the state and leaves the ordinary administra-
tion of justice ? Such a system which does not in a single point
overstep the immediate necessity ; that leaves untouched every.
thing which it is safe to leave, amidst circumstances so critical
and so difficult, deserves to be considered what I have charac-
terised it a system of unexampled lenity.


But, Sir, some gentlemen seem to suppose that nothing can be
a rebellion 'but an army in the field, disputing the right to power
in the constituted authorities. Let us examine this — Is it under
any notion of either law or policy that this is to be so contended ?
Is it policy .— is it justice — is it mercy to those who are loyal, to
have this stand as the definition of rebellion ? It will have the
effect of putting oil a level with the loyal all those who are not
actually in the field in open rebellion. Civil tribunals, when
they can be kept up to decide upon civil rights, are certainly
superior to other tribunals, but it does not thence follow that all
military tribunals are unnecessary ; nor does it follow, that, be-.
cause, generally speaking, they are inferior to civil tribunals,
they are therefore of no use ; it does not follow, because all the




23t, P/711"S
[MARCH 12.


procedings of the civil power are taken upon oath, that there is
no such thing as an oath in the proceeding of the military courts.
They do not proceed without oath to the judges, nor without oath
of the accusing party, nor without oath of the witnesses ; and
therefore, although I admit the proceedings of a court-martial;
in general cases, to be a less advantageous mode Of administer-
ing justice than that of a civil tribunal, I cannot assent to the




assertion, that courts-martial are totally destitute of form and
system ; and when the honourable baronet h asks me, as a person
bred to the law, and therefore one from whom he expects to find
a great attachment to that law, whether I do not prefer the civil
to the military tribunal, I must be allowed to


say that I have
a sincere attachment to the laws of my country, but not more
attachment than any other honest subject of the realm. In truth,
although bred to the learned profession in a very early pal of my
life, I had but a short acquaintance with it— enough, however,
to admire the excellence of it, but not enough to make me de-
spise any other system which the ,


necessities of a state may require.
As a general proposition, I do not contend that a court-martial is
a preferable mode of trial to that of the civil tribunal ; but I say,
that by a constant practice of this country, in the management of
its public concerns, there have been occasions, and there always
will be occasions, where,the trial by a court-martial is preferable
even to that of a trial by jury, because better aapted to the case
to be tried. If this be not so, for what reason is it that we are,
year after year, in the constant habit of passing the mutiny bill ?
Let it not be supposed that I wish the martial course of proceed-
ing to be extended beyond its necessity, to the diminution of the
civil power : I only say it proves this, that parliament have con-
sidered what forms are best adapted to cases, instead of following
one uniform course for them all ; and even in ordinary times of
peace and public tranquillity, it was considered that the martial
law is better adapted to some cases than the civil authority. If
parliament have been in the habit of adapting military law for the
decision of some cases, what will they not do when the public


4 Sir Lawrence Parsons.


1801.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 239


safety depends upon adopting such a system ? When the first


object is the public safety ; and when civil process cannot be
resorted to, or the ordinary mode of civil process cannot be
carried on without this military aid, I ask, what is it that par-
liament will not assent to, for the purpose of accomplishing this
system of protection ? If this be so, will any man tell me, that
retaining, as I do, an enthusiastic reverence for the trial by
jury, it is not better to have a partial military law, for the pre-
servation of the essence of that very trial, than, by clinging to
the name of a trial , by jury, lose both the spirit and the sub-
stance of it?


Sir, if we come to the question of law, I shall not presume to
argue it ; I have not been long enough in the profession to possess
mach knowledge of it ; there are others in this House ready and.
competent to that task, if it be necessary to discuss it. But I
would ask, whether any man will tell me that the crime of rebel-
lion depends on five or six, or fifty, or five thousand men assem-
bling together ? I say, no ; that is not the standard to which to
refer the question of rebellion. If there be a systematic plan
formed for the destruction of a country, and there is a concert of
men, whether three or five, or any other number, to accomplish
that end, whether by burglary, or robbery, or murder, or any
species of criminality whatever, or, in furtherance of that plan, to
deter the loyal and peaceable part of the community from being
true to their allegiance, for the purpose of executing with more
facility their martial law, as a system either of terror or other-
wise, to rob triumphantly, or take away by stealth —whether it be


the pestilence that walked' in the darkness, or the sword that
wasteth in the noon-day," if its character be rebellion, rebellion
be it called ; if its effect be to defeat the purposes of civil pro-
cess, whether by skulking with the dagger of the assassin in its
hand, or by assuming -the parade, the pomp, and the circum-
stance of, I will not say glorious, war, it is still rebellion. Whether
flagitious, bold, and open, or sly, insinuating, and crafty ---
whether with much or with little bloodshed, may be points that
may constitute- a difference in the degree ; but, which is most




24.0
MR. PIT1"S


[MAncn 12,
detestable, is a thing not worth debating. What then is the
question before us ? Whether you will now take a qualified,
restrained, limited, governed martial law, and preserve the great
mass of the civil rights of the subjects in Ireland ; or will hazard
an opinion in which the whole may be thrown under the un-
qualified, unrestrained, unlimited, and ungovernable spirit and
uncontrollable practice of martial law ?— I say, that on such a
question no honest intelligent man can possibly hesitate.


The honourable gentleman has alluded to the character of the
noble Marquis, who is at the head of the executive power. Upon
the merits of that great and illustrious personage, I feel more than


am.able to express ; but I have the satisfaction of knowing that
my sentiments are in unison with those of every friend to real'
virtue and enlightened patriotism, in admiration of the noble Mar-
quis. My noble friend has produced the authority of that hip
and respected character, as evidence of the necessity of martial
law, in the situation of Ireland. Lord Cornwallis, since the re-
bellion, has '


issued many warrants for holding such courts ; even
these courts have tried and condemned personsfor various offences.


' Thcy have tried and convicted men, not merely of offences con-
structively- amounting to what is called furtherance of rebellion,
but of the crimes of murder and rebellion. But the honourable
gentleman says, a court-martial may judge ill ; and he gives/0u
a solitary instance as a proof of this. Why, Sir, so he may of the
conduct of a jury : but what would be said to me, if, after giving
an instance in which a jury had convicted where they ought to
have acquitted, or had acquitted where they ought to have cat-
vieted, I were from thence to conclude that the trial by jury is
an evil, and that you ought to have no more of it ? I believe I
should not have many supporters hi this House, or in this coun-
try ; and yet the honourable gentleman's instance of the mistake
made by one court-martial amounts to no more than that which


have stated.
BP it is said that the courts of law arc open ! True ; the


courts of law have been open ; the judges have been enabled to
hold their assizes, because the wise and benevolent measures


1801.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECIIES. 214


that have been pursued, because. the very measure now in dis-
cussion afforded that protection and security which justice
could not otherwise have obtained. It is owing to their salutary
precautions that civil process has been preserved to the peace-
able. If, amidst such perilous circumstances, the laws have
maintained their course as in time of peace ; if individuals have
been protected, and the constitution of the state defended, it is
by a continuance of the same vigorous, but tempered system,
that Ireland can be maintained in the enjoyment of tranquillity,
and secured from a recurrence of those disastrous scenes, of
which the calamities must be fresh in every man's recollection.


The motion of adjournment was negatived, and Lord Castlereagh's
motion passed without a division. •


On the 14th of March Mr. Pitt resigned the offices of First Lord of
the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer ; and other changes in
the ministerial departments at the same time took place. The new Ad-
ministration consisted of,


First Lord of the Treasury and Chan-
cellor of the Exchequer.


President of the Council.
Lord Chancellor.
Lord Privy Seal.
First Lord of the Admiralty.
Master-General of the Ordnance.


C Secretary of State for the Home De-
partment.


Ditto for Foreign Affairs.
C Ditto for the Department of War and


the Colonies.
Lord Viscount Lewisham


(new Earl of Dartmouth) suc-
ceeded by Lord Castlereagh


Right Hon. Charles Yorke
Earl of Liverpool
Right Hon. Dudley Ryder


(now Lord Harrowby)
Right Hon. Thomas Steele
Lord Glenbervie


VOL. III.


Right Hon. Henry Addington
Duke of Portland
Lord Eldon
Earl of Westmoreland
Earl St. Vincent
Earl of Chatham


Lord Pelham
Lord Hawkesbury .....
Lord Hobart


President of the Board of Control for
the Affairs of India.


Secretary at War.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.


} Treasurer of the Navy. -
t Joint Paymasters of His Majesty's
S Forces.


a




242
MR. PITT'S [IVIARCIf 25, 1801.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


245


March 25. 1801.
ON a motion by Mr. Grey, for the House to resolve itself into a Com-


mittee of the whole House, to enquire into the State of the
Nation,Mr. PITT said,


That after what the 'louse had heard from his right honour-able friend *, and much
as he was interested in the question,


and in some of the topics which were opened by the
honourablegentleman whose motion was


now before the House, he should
have felt that he had but little excuse for troubling the


Housemuch at large upon the present subject, if the debate had not,from a few words which fell from another honourable gentleman,
taken a turn totally different from that which was introducedby the h


onourable mover. The principal part of the time
which he employed in the discussion was consumed in endea-
vouring to satisfy the House, that, as he


now suspected some
gentlemen had improperly resigned their situations under go-
v
ernment, that was sufficient to induce the House to go into an


enquiry into the state of the nation. If it had tot been for
some observations that were made upon those


resignations, andhe had been aware that no gentleman would
give his vote this


Lord Auckland


Lord Charles Spencer


John Hiley Addington, Esq


Nicholas Vansittart, Esq.


Si
Sir William Grant


r Edward Law


(now Lord Ellenboro4)
Hon. Spencer Perceval
Earl of Hardwicke


Earl of Clare


Lord Castlereagh, succeeded by ?
Right Ron. W. Wickham j


night upon any but a consideration of this simple question :-
<< Do the arguments this night alter the principles on which
you yourselves have acted for nearly nine years 9" — if, he said,
it had not been for some observations which were independent


of that question; simply so stated, he should have felt it hardly
necessary for him to luive troubled the House at all, but to pass
by in silence, and refer to the judgment of the House, every
thing which related to his own personal conduct. He hoped
that this language would not be mistaken for indifference in him
as to the opinion of the House, or of the country ; for a con-
tempt for either he had no wish to express. He pretended to
no such philosophy as that which led to the species of indif-
ference as to the opinion of others, which some persons chose
to affect ; nor was he indifferent to the circumstances of this
country, nor to the opinion which the public might entertain of
the share, the too large share, he had taken in them : on the
contrary, he confessed, that these topics occupied his attention
much, for events had happened which disappointed his
warmest wishes, and frustrated the most favourite hopes of his
heart ; and he could have desired to have continued to pursue
the objects of such hopes and wishes to the end of that struggle,
which he had worked for with anxiety and care. There never
was a period in his life in which these topics were indifferent to
him. Much less could he be indifferent to the good opinion of
those who had been induced, on so many occasions, to show so
much confidence in him — a confidence, however, which had
always been constitutionally given, and to which he begged
leave to say, every servant of the crown was entitled, until
forfeited 'by his conduct. Neither was he indifferent to the
many marked instances he had observed of the personal con-
fidence in him, upon various occasions, and which he could not
flatter himself with having merited.


Much, however, as he felt these sentiments, there were others
which he felt still more strongly ; and therefore he was under
the necessity of submitting some ideas upon the subject before
the -House. This was not a question solely applicable to him.


R 9


Joint Postmasters-General.


Secretaries of the Treasury,
Master of the Rolls.


Attorney-General.
Solicitor-General.
Lord Lieutenant
Lord Chancellor
Chief Secretary


Right Hon, Isaac Corry


Chancellor ofthe Exchequer


Mr. Dundas.


of Ire-
land.




1so1.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 245


that there was some ground for the prediction which had been
uttered of the downfall of this empire : but, thank God ! there
was no appearance of any suchdownfall, because there was no
probability that the advice and counsel he had just alluded to
was to be taken as a remedy for any evil which was alleged to
afflict us.


He therefore spoke with less apprehension of danger than he
should do if these things were doubtful, upon the motion of the
honourable gentleman, and with the less anxiety as to many
parts of that gentleman's speech, when he reflected on the man-
ner in which it had been answered by his right honourable friend ;
indeed, he thought he perceived something which conveyed an
idea, that the honourable gentleman opposite to him did not
entertain any very sanguine hope that they would be able to
prevail on the House to assent to the motion now before it; they
did not seem to think they had laid before it materials to call
upon it to retract all it had hitherto asserted, or reverse all it
had hitherto done in the course of the present war. This con-
sideration, therefore, supposing he felt no other, would have
induced him to remain silent on this debate ; but he felt a mixed
sensation, from what had fallen from an honourable gentleman,
and from a noble lord*, with whom he had the honour of
being connected in kindred, as he had hitherto been in political
sentiments. He felt grateful for the unmerited expressions of
good opinion which his noble kinsman, and those with whom he
was most immediately connected, had directed towards him; but
be must confess, he should have been better pleased, both as a
public man, and a private individual, if he had heard sentiments
that were less favourable to himself, and more favourable to
others, who were now in His Majesty's service ; and if he felt
any other than such wishes, he apprehended he should have been
unworthy of the good opinion which the noble lord had been
pleased to express of him. Nor could he help saying, that those
who, like the noble lord, were to vote for this motion, were,
without intending it, adopting a course the most unfair, the


Lord Temple.
It 3


244
MR. PITT'S
EMArtca 2'5.


self or to his colleagues ; for if it were, however dear the
topics of such a case might be to him, he should have been
induced to give the House but little trouble on that account. No,
this was a que'st'


ion which involved the honour of that House,
and the character of the nation ; the honour of the one, and the
constitutional freedom of the other.


This motion taken in
that view of the subject, he would put to the House this ques-
tion: — Whether it was prepared to retract all that it had
declared and done for the last nine most eventful years, and had
changed its mind on the nature of that struggle hi' which we
had for that period been engaged, and in which, not only so
large a


majority of that House had been so firm, but, as he bad
on a former occasion taken the liberty of expressing it, a greater
majority of the' people had supported uniformly and steadily,
and which they had considered as nothing less than a contest fori
ndependence with the enemy abroad, and for a constitutional


safety with the enemy at home ? lie believed, therefore, that
the House would conceive its honour to be implicated in the
question now before it, as well as the honour, and, in $ con-
siderable degree, the safety of the country. On these points,
the decision of the House, and the judgment of the public, had
been uniform and ,steady. If ever the moment should arrive,
in which, under whatever mask, the attempt should be made,
to induce the House to forget the principles by which it had been
so long guided — if ever the moment should arrive, in which the
principles of those should prevail who had, by


their argil-
. ments, supported the enemy, the counsels of those wh



hadso often e


mbarrassed our proceedings, and checked- our efforts
—counsels, which led to the surrender of our independence and
constitutional freedom, instead of the counsels which tended to
the preservation of both if ever the moment should arrive,
when the House, being told they should tread back their steps
to avoid a general havoc over all Europe, instead of pursuing
such steps uniformly and steadily should adopt the advice if
ever the moment should arrive, when the House would listen to
and follow such counsels, he should then indeed begin to think




MR. PITT'S
[MARCH 2


most unkind, towards those to whom they professed friendship,
that they possibly could pursue ; and at the same time, a course
that would be the most mischievous with regard to the interests
of the public.


Now, as to the word uViiir, which he perceived had an effect
on some gentlemen on the other side, which he did not intend
to produce, he meant nothing uncivil to these gentlemen; but
the House should judge Whether his ideas were just or not.
There were two sets of gentlemen who were desired to vote on
precisely the same question, on two grounds, that were not
only distinct, but opposite. Of this he thought himself entitled
to complain. He thought he had some reason to complain,
that his opponent was to have the benefit of the votes of some
of the friends of the late administration, while he who was oche
of such administration, had only the benefit of a speech from
his friends ; thus his noble relation expressed in him the fullest
confidence, and yet pursued him to condemnation, because he
did not choose to confide in those of His Majesty's servants tho
were now in office.


In the next place, he hoped he might be permitted to ob-
serve, that there was no point which had been more disputed
in that House, (although the thing itself never appeared to him
to be difficult,) than that of confidence in His Majesty's minis-
ters. But the case was not to stop here. The question of con-
fidence had nothing about it that was new. It attended the.
outset of his administration, and it had not deserted the dolt of
it. In the outset of his administration, he understood it to be
held by some people, that no person was entitled to common and
ordinary confidence, until he had given'proof of having deserved
it. It never could be carried in substance to the length it here
went in the letter ; for it was impossible to say that a man should
not have any confidence in a situation, because it was new to him,
for that must be made applicable for every human creature;
whenever he entered at first upon any employment, he must at
some time or other be new in his employment ; it was-not there-
fore, at that time, judged that he should have no confidence


1801.1 PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


247


personally, (for certainly that was not claimed for him,) but it
was said, that he came into administration with sentiments oppo-
site to those which had been held by men , who preceded him


in office, and who had enjoyed the confidence of the House,
(he meant the sentiments of the honourable gentleman opposite
to him",) and the question was then, whether he, who was
then said to hold sentiments different from those which were
said to have the confidence of the House, should have any of
that confidence placed in him ; that was the way in which the
point was put then. But the way in which it was put now was
absolutely whimsical for it was now stated, " Here is a mi-
nistry who have had the full confidence of the House of Com-
mons ;" — words which he did not presume to utter for himself,
but which, for the purposes of this debate, were uttered by
others for him —and gentlemen had said, that within a few hours
of his departure there was an appearance of stability in His
Majesty's government. But what was the complaint now ?
Not that the persons who now claimed the support of the House
differed from those who had received that support, as he was
stated to have done in 1783, (how correctly that was stated was
another question,) but that those who now claimed the confi-
dence of the House, ought not to have it, because they pro-
fessed the same principles as those who have so long possessed
that confidence. The reason for this was a very curious one;
it was stated by certain gentlemen to be that of their not know-
ing why His Majesty's late ministers had retired:— so that con-
fidence was to be withheld from His Majesty's present servants
till gentlemen knew why their predecessors went out of office,
and till the new ones were known. He did. not see why gentle-
men were to withhold their confidence from His Majesty's pre-
sent ministers, because they did not know why their predecessors
retired; he did not know why gentlemen wanted any more in-
formation on that subject than they possessed already. They
knew almost all they should know, and, he believed, all they
would know upon that subject. But here the public were to be


Mr. Fox.
11 4


246




218


• AIR. PI'T'S[ilArc;ri‘2,5
deprived of' the services of those who had been chosen by the
crown, merely because there was, about the retirement of their
predecessors, something which these gentlemen said they did
not understand ; and because the House did not know how the
new ministers would act. He understood that they were per-
sons who would act on their own judgment, as they ought to do
in each particular, but that their general principles were the
the same; and then it came to this that the supporters of the
present motion said the House ought to withhold its confidence
from the present ministers, not because they were the reverse,
but because they:


were the same in principle with those in whom
the House had confided.


But he would not stop here. If the House considered the
points on which it usually afforded its confidence, it would find
every reason for affording it to the present ministers. It was
said, that ministers should be men known to the House of Com-
mons before the House confided in them.- Be it so. That could
not be made applicable to the situation to which they were ztt
any time to be appointed, because that would go to the exclu-
sion of confidence in any man whenever he came into a new
situation. There could be no experience of him in that situ-
ation until he was tried. But when persons were tried in one
situation, and had acquitted themselves well, the rule was to
give them credit that they would do so in any other situation,
until proof of something to the contrary appeared. If this was
not correct doctrine, he was very much deceived. He 81)041
like to know on what principle it was, that the propriety of
supporting them should be questioned until they had shewn by
their actions that they did not deserve to he supported. Were
these gentlemen called to a situation that was new to them ?
'Yes; but were they new to the public ? Not so; for they were
not only not new to the House and the public, but they were not
new to the love and esteem of the House and the public, and
that from sufficient experience as to their principles and talents.
— One of them was a gentleman who was admired in private, as
-well as respected and esteemed in public, who had been long


1801.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 219


chosen into the situation of the first commoner in this country,
and had lately been unanimously re-elected to that high sta-
tion.* Was this the person of whom the House of Commons were
to say, they would not confide in him, because, at a moment of
difficulty, (dissembled by none, but exaggerated by some persons
who loved to dwell on any topic which gave any thing of a gloom
to our affairs,) lie quitted a situation of the highest authority that
a representative of the people could possess, for one of greater
trouble and perplexity, and at a moment when honourable gen-
tlemen were holding out the difficulties of the situation to be in-
superable ? To refuse confidence to such a person in such a
situation, appeared to him to be repugnant to common sense and
to common justice ; and lie could not help saying, that he was
astonished at what his noble friendt and the honourable baro-
net t had said that night on some parts of this subject.


Again he would say, that if lie saw a noble lord§ called to
the situation of a secretary of state, he was ready to ask, without
the fear of receiving any answer that would disappoint him, whe-
ther gentlemen on the other side knew any man, who was supe-
rior to that noble lord; who for the last ten years had more
experience of state affairs, and who had given greater proof of
steady attention to public business; of a better understanding;
of more information ; who possessed in a greater degree all
those qualities which go to qualify a man for great affairs? He
was ready to ask gentlemen on the other side, if they knew any
one among themselves who was superior to his noble friend ?
Let them give him the answer. He should like to take the
opinions of the different individuals on the other side, if it were
not a painful thing to put it to their modesty, whether any one
among them, except one honourable gentleman II whose atten-
dance was of late so rare that he might almost be considered as
a new member — whose transcendant talents, indeed, made him
an exception to almost any rule in every thing that required
uncommon powers, but whose conduct was also what ought,


t* Mr. Addington: ± Lord Temple. Sir William Young.


Lord Hawkesbury. II Mr. Fox.




250
MR. pars


[MArtcli 25.
generally speaking, to be an exception also to the rules which
ought to guide the affairs of this country; which conduct had
been at variance in some respects from. that of almost every
other public man, and which, if followed, must have been highly
injurious to the true interest' of this country—he repeated it,
he knew of no one on the opposite side of the House (except the
honourable gentleman he had alluded to, whose experience was
as great as his faculties were transcendant,) that was more than
equal to his noble friend in capacity for business. He did not
mean to offer any incivility to gentlemen on the other side ; but
he did not think that he had offered either of them any dispa-
ragement whatever, when he said, that neither of them was's-Imre
than equal to his noble friend.


Was it necessary for him to say much of the faculties and fit-
ness, in every particular, of a certain noble lord* who was likely
soon to have the custody of the great seal ? He was, surely, not
new to this country, whose character for legal knowledge, for
integrity, and for a cluster of those qualities which fit him for
that high office, had been long acknowledged, There was no
pledge necessary on behalf of such a character.


Of other individuals of the new administration, he could say
much; but if' lie were to indulge his feelings upon this topic, he
should be in danger of wearying the House. There was, however,
one character of whom he could not forbear speaking. It would
occur to the House, that it was not an easy thing to supply the
place of the late first lord of the admiralty, Earl Spencer ; and it
yet, he should think, that the name of Earl St.Vincent would ap-
pear in a satisfactory light to the House, even as the successor of
the noble earl, or of any other man known to this country ; and
that the more especially in a period of war, which called for all the
exertion of the executive government. Was this appointment not
such as to support the hope of this country, that it would come
soon to the termination of a contest which we had conducted
near to a conclusion — [" Hear! hear!" from the other side,]—
which he trusted we had conducted near to a conclusion. But


* Lord Eldon.


1801.]
PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 251


whether the contest was yet to be long or short, until the object
of it were secured, he hoped the spirit of the country would not
be impaired, nor in any degree slackened, but exerted with vi-
gour towards bringing it to a termination ; or, if we were still
to struggle with continued difficulties, he would ask, was not
the name of that noble earl a shield and bulwark to the nation
He would therefore say, that gentlemen spoke with but little


reflection, or
even consideration, when they said the present


administration were not. entitled to the confidence of that House,
or of the public — he meant, of course, no more than a consti-
tutional confidence. All he contended for was, that unless
some good reason were assigned to the contrary, the House was
bound, by the best principles of policy, as well as by the true
spirit of the constitution of this country, to wait to see the con-
duct of the ministers of the crown, before they should withhold
their confidence. On this subject of confidence, let not gentle-
men suppose that a committee on the state of the nation could
be of the least use, because nothing that could be there dis-
closed could give the House more information than the House
possessed already on that matter ; nor could any thing be done
in that committee that could alter the present posture of the
executive government, unless the committee should pass a reso-
lution to withdraw its confidence from the present ministers of
the crown, and to give it to their opponent* and his friends, in
order to make them successors to them ; which would be a
pretty strong measure, and border on an encroachment on the
prerogative, besides introducing principles the very reverse of
those which bad hitherto invariably had the sanction of par-
liament. He did not mean to use any opprobrious epithets
towards gentlemen on the other side; but he certainly did not
say more than was warranted by fact, when he said, that by
the constant course of the determination of parliament, the
principles of these gentlemen had been reprobated.


Having said this, he would now utter a word or two for his
colleagues, and for himself. With regard to their quitting their


* Mr. Fox.


I




252 MR. MPS [MAacit 25.
offices, he did not see any mystery about that subject, and he
thought he was entitled to rely on the candour of gentletnen on
the other side for believing the sincerity of their declarations on
the occasion. The honourable gentleman who spoke first, was
pleased to say, Ile would allow that, in case of a public measure of
importance which a minister found he could not propose with suc-
cess, or that lie was not able to propose as a measure which was
assuredly to receive the assistance of those who compose the exe-
cutive government, and that such a measure a minister could not
co


nscientiously give up or abandon — that such a condition of
things would be sufficient to excuse a minister for retiring, and
would, indeed, give a minister a right to retire. Now, after that
allowance of the honourable gentleman, it was matter of astonish-
ment to hitn that any doubt could have been entertained by that
honourable gentleman on that part of the subject, tir that he did
not at.once admit, that the circumstance which had been suffi-
ciently explained already, had amounted, in the opinion of that
honourable gentleman, to a complete justification of hitnself and
others who had retired. He admitted, however, to the


- honour-
able gentleman, that if a person who filled an office of important
trust under government had formed the project of proposing
some measure which did not appear to him to be of much public
importance, although he had made up his i»ind upon it, but
which he could not carry into effect, seeing clearly that the bent
of the government of which Ile made a part was against him,
then it was the duty of such a minister to forego that opinion,
and to sacrifice rather than withdraw his assistance from govern-
ment in the hour of peril.


Mr. Pitt said, it was extremely painful to him to be obliged to
say so much, and so long to occupy the attention of the House;
but Ile would observe, that he had lived to very little purpose for
the last seventeen years of his life, if it was necessary for him to
say, that he had not quitted his situation in order to shrink from
its difficulties; for, in the whole of that time, he had acted,
whether well or ill, it was not for him to say, but certainly in a


* Mr. Grey.


1801.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


253


manner that had no resemblance to shrinking from difficulty. He
might say this, if he were to strike the seventeen years out of the
account, and refer only to what had taken place within the last
two months ; and he would venture to allege, that enough had
happened within that time to wipe off the idea of his being dis-
posed to shrink from difficulty, or wishing to get rid of any re-
sponsibility. What had happened within that period had afforded
him an opportunity of shewing, in a particular manner, that he
was willing to be responsible to any extent which his situation cast
upon him : in that particular he had had the good fortune, how-
ever unfortunate the cause, to have shewn that he was not only
a party, but that he was the deepest of all parties in re-
sponsibility, in the adoption of a measure the most critical with
regard to himself and his colleagues. He was therefore led
to say, as to the measure which had induced him to quit
his situation, that he did believe the importance of it, and
the circumstances by which it was attended, to be such, that
while he remained in office he should have been unable to bring
it forward in the way which was likely to be eventually successful ;
and therefore he judged that he should serve less beneficially the
public, as well as the parties more immediately the objects of it,
in making the attempt, than in desisting from the measure. His
idea of the measure itself was, that it was one which upon the
whole had been better adopted than refused under all the circum-
stances: such was also the idea of those who had acted with him,
and they had therefore thought it better that they should quit
their offices than continue under such circumstances in His Ma-
jesty's service. In doing this, they had acted purely from prin-
ciple ; the.y had acted in such a manner as had satisfied their
own minds, which was to them important ; and he hoped they
had acted in such a manner as would, one day or other, be per-
fectly satisfactory to the public, so far as the public should ever
think it worth their while to be concerned in his conduct.


The measure to which he alluded, had he proposed it, as at
one time he wished, was not one which gentlemen on the other
side of the House were likely tolook on lightly, although he should




254 MR. HITS
itc H 25.


have had the good fortune to have their support if he had brought
it forward, that is, on one part : but he did not think that he
should upon the whole of it, nor did he believe those gentlemen
would have favoured the whole of the principle on which he should
have proposed the measure. He was not anxious to have the
question agitated at all at this moment. I do not think, said Mr.
Pitt, that this is a period in which it can be agitated beneficially


jects
to the public, or even to those who are more immediately the ob-


of it, and who are supposed to be so interested in its success;but whenever it is agitated, I shall be ready and I shall be wilting
to go fully into it, and to give at large my opinion on it. I will


say
only at present, that as to any thing which I and my colleagues
meditated to bring forward, I disclaim the very words in common
use, " the em


ancipation of the catholics," Or, " catholic emanci-
pation." I have never understood that subject so—I never un-
derstood the situation of the catholics to be such—I do not now
understand the situation of the catholics to be such as that any re-
lief from it could be correctly so described ; but 1 think the few
remaining benefits, of which they have not yet participated,


miglit
have been added safely to the many benefits which have been so
bounteously conferred on them in the course of the present reign.
I was of opinion, and I am still of opinion, that these benefits, if
they had gone before the union, would have been rash and de-
structive, I was of opinion then, — I am of opinion now, that the
very measure I allude to, as a claim of right cannot be maintain-
ed; and it is on the ground of liberality alone, and political erz---
pedience, (and in that sense wisdom, as connected with other,"
measures,) that I should have thought it desirable, advisable,
and important : but I would not have had it founded on a naked
proposition, to repeal any one thing which former policy had
deemed expedient for the safety of the church and state. No,
Sir, it was a c


omprehensive and an extensive system which I in-
tended to propose—to relinquish things certainly intended once
as a security, which I thought in some respect ineffectual, and
which were liable to additional objections, from the very circum-
stance of the object of the union having been accomplished, and


1501.3 PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


255


getting other security for the same objects, to have a more con.
sistent and rational security both in church and state, according
to the principle, but varying the mode, which the wisdom of our
ancestors had adopted to prevent danger. The measure I in-
tended to propose, I think, would give more safety to the church
and state, as well as more satisfaction to all classes and all
descriptions of the King's subjects, to take away that which no
man would wish to remain, provided there could be perfect
security without it. The House will, I am sure, forgive me for
this part of my address to it.


As to what might be the nature of the measure, I am sure the
House will in a moment feel, that what I am going to allege will
satisfy it, that nothing of this nature could ever be accomplished
by having a committee of the whole House on the state of the
nation ; for, independent of the many things which would be ne-
cessary to be done, if such a measure were set on foot, there is
one thing which will make it obvious how inefficient for such a
purpose a committee on the state of the nation would be. In the
first place, that committee would not have any power whatever
to interrogate any one member of parliament ; and therefore all
that part of the speech of the honourable gentleman which tended
to connect the committee on the state of the nation with the con-
dition of the catholics in Ireland, although it might serve the pur-
pose of engaging men's affections for a moment, had, in reality,
nothing whatever to do with it ; and gentlemen are not such no-
vices in the affairs of parliament as not to know that they may,
whenever they please, move this or any other subject, independ-
ent of any other consideration, and that there is no necessity for
a committee to enquire into the state of the nation for that pur-
pose. I think, however, that the. question with regard to the
condition of the catholics, according to my view of things, can-
not be improved by a committee on the state of the nation being
brought forward at this time. It will cast no light whatever on
any one subject connected with the catholic question. I am ab-
solutely certain, as little can it throw on the cause, or the pro-
priety or impropriety of our resignation this is too obvious to


10




256 -
MR. PITT'S


[MARCH 2.5%
require any argument. How can the Committee proceed to the
examirration of the cause of the resignation of His Majesty's mini-
sters, to which some gentlemen, for purposes, perhaps, not very
doubtful, have been pleased to attach so much importance ?
know of no right which the House of Commons itself, still less a
committee, can have to requite of any man to state his reasons
for tendering his resignation to his sovereign ; nor is it a common
thing for the public to require it. A man very often, indeed,
makes his appeal to the public on going out of office, and that
sometimes as much with a wish to be reinstated as any thing ;
but I never heard of a man being called on to exculpate himself
from the charge of resigning. But gentlemen say, that, by our
being silent on the subject of the catholic question, we have
brought the name of our sovereign into disrepute ; and the ho-
nourable gentleman chooses to put a construction on our remain-
ing silent, and then to ask a question, whether the catholics bad
or had not been deceived. And upon the obstacles to the mea-
sure, as they are stated in a paper, of which I shall take notice
shortly, the honourable gentleman says, that innumerable ob-
stacles are in the way of the measure. I do not know what pa pt
he took up; I cannot be responsible for it; nor, indeed, for f?re
verbal accuracy of any paper whatever. I believe the word which
the honourable gentleman has alluded to was really insuperable,
and not innumerable. Upon that subject, all I will say is this : —
That although I wished to submit the question of the catholics to
parliament, there were such objections stated as made me feel it
impossible, with propriety, to bring the measure forward as a
minister. These are the general words I choose to use upon tie
subject : the honourable gentleman shall draw from me no ad-
missions, and no denials on this subject. He may argue as he
pleases from the words I use. [" Hear! head" from the other
side.] Gentlemen may draw what inference they please.


But I shall say a few words more upon this subject. Gentle-
men say, that I left this case in a state in which the name of the
sovereign is brought into question ; and they appear to be angry,
because I will not tell them whether they ought to be angry ot


PA RLI ANENT ARY SPEECHES. 251


:jThey wonder why I do not make it a matter of question,
and they put distantly some points in the way of question ; but
I will not answer interrogatories . I will tell those gentlemen,
however, that upon this subject they deceive themselves grossly.
Should they be able to establish that the opinion of the sovereign
made it impossible to bring the subject forward, they would gain
nothing by it ; for, should the opinion of the sovereign be what it
might, or the opinion of his servants what it might ; of the sove-
reign to dispense with the services, or of the servant to tender his
resignation, it would still remain the same. Let these gentlemen
but once be able to shake this principle, and they will have done
more than they will be willing to avow towards the destruction of
the monarchy : they will have established the most extrava-
gant part of an oligarchy that ever was erected in any state ;, for
then neither. the sovereign could dismiss, nor the subject . resign,
without an explanation being made to the public. So that the


sovereign, the father of his people, could never part from his ser,
vants, unless he condescended to show that they gave him bad ad-
vice nor his servants tender their resignation, unless they could
prove that something was attempted to be imposed upon then
which they could not, in their consciences, approve. Now, I
would ask, is that the state, or is it desirable it should be the state,
of the monarchy of this country ? • Certainly it is not. The use
of the name of the sovereign for the purpose of influencing
opinions in this House, or in any deliberative assembly, is justly
deemed unconstitutional. The sovereign exercises his opinion
on the sentiments, as well as capacity, of his ministers ; and if,
upon either, he judges them to be incompetent, or in any degree
unfit, it is the prerogative, and, with perfect loyalty, let me add,
aye the duty, of the crown to dismiss such ministers. Allow
me also to say, that if a minister feels, that, from a sense lie
entertains of. his duty, he ought to propose a measure, •13ut is
convinced that his endeavours must be ineffectual, to that-his ser-
vices must be limited to a narrower compass-than he could desire,
and that success, in some. material point, is impossible, he
ought to be permitted to retire : but, in proportion to the diffi-


VOL. 111.




[MA ItCH 25.
958 M R. PITI"S


culty which the sovereign may have in accepting the resignation
of such a minister, ought to be his love for such a sovereigns.
I hope I am riot deficient in my duty to the best of sovereigns;;
and I hope the whole ground and motive of my actions will con-
tinue to be justified during the whole of his reign. This is all
I shall say upon this subject, which may perhaps be saying more
than I ought.


With respect, however, to the assurances said, or supposed, to Or
have been held out to the catholics of Ireland, 1 would add a few'
words. The honourable gentleman has alluded to a paper circus
lated in that part of His Majesty's dominions. It was a memoran-
dum sent in the name of a noble lord at the head of the executive
government of Ireland—a character revered by all who know him,
and whose name I am persuaded will not be profaned,. nor men-
tioned in this country with any disrespect. I know it to be true
that the noble lord did feel it right, as a matter of public duty, to
make a communication to persons most immediately among the
catholics, and to state the motives which led to the late change
that took place in His Majesty's councils, in order to prevent any
misrepresentation of that subject than adding to the danger ,3f
the public tranquillity. I beg to state that matter clearly


and
distinctly ; it was my express desire, not conveyed by myself,
but through a noble friend -tt of mine sitting near me, that the
noble lord should take the opportunity of doing this. I do not
arrogate any merit for it ; but I think it is an answer to any
charge against us upon this subject for remissness, that we lost
no time in making that representation and explanation of' our
motives ; and the principle of it was this, that the attempt
realise our wishes at this time would only be productive of public
embarrassment. The representation was therefore made ; but
with respect to the particular paper delivered, it was not pre-
viously consulted with Me how it should be perused, and there-
fore, for the particular phrases of it I do not hold myself
responsible. All the knowledge I derived or conveyed was
founded on verbal interpretation. As to the tenonr of thepaper


Lord Castlereagh.


1801.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


259


that I have alluded to, the sentiments in it are conformable to
those which I have already expressed in this House, and shall
again express vhenever I have occasion to deliver my sentiments
on that subject ; and it is fit, not only that this House should
know them, but also that the community at large should know
them. — I mean this: that a measure of that sort appeared to
me to be of much importance under all the circumstances ; and
that being unable to bring it forward as a measure of govern-
ment, I thought I could not_ therefore in honour remain in the
situation in which I then stood ; and that I was desirous of let-
ting it also be understood, that whenever the objection I alluded
to did not exist, the same obstacle did not interpose, every thing
depending on me, as well as those who thought with me, I should
(lo, for that I was desirous of carrying that measure, thinking it
of great importance to the empire at large; but that, in the mean
time, if any attempt to press it, so as to endanger the public
tranquillity, should be made, or to pervert the affection of any
part of His Majesty's subjects, we should take our full share
in resisting such attempts, and that we should do so with firm-
ness and resolution. These are the sentiments which I expressed,
and I did hope that the day would come when, on ;the part of
the catholics, should such a measure be revived, it would be
carried iu the only way in which I wished to see it carried, which
was .certainly conformable to the general tranquillity of the em-
pire. As to any other pledge, I beg leave to give none—I .am
engaged myself to give none—I will give none— either now or
at any time. I have contributed, as far as -peaceable endeavours
could.go, according to my judgment, in the best manner I could
at the moment, for the general interests of the country.


This is all !I shall say on this part of the subject, and I am
ashamed to have been obliged to trouble the House so much ,as
I have done, especially as another branch of it remains, and on
which ,I must still say a few words — it relates to a question,
Whether any of those who have retired from office, had ,se
pledged themselves to the catholics as to be under the necessity
of resigning their offices because they:Could .not :perform :their


:s 2




260'
MR. PITT'S


[IVIARmi
pledge? I beg leave to deny that; and, what is more satisfactory,
I believe I am authorised in denying that the catholics conceived
themselves to have received any such pledge. I know that the
noble lord to whom I have alluded, and my noble friend near
me, who must have been a party to such transaction, if any such
had passed, did not so convey to me. I do not now, nor ever did,
so conceive it. That the catholics might


.have conceived such
an expectation, is most natural. — Why ? Because the more
attentively I have reflected on it, especially after the union, the
measure has appeared to me to be salutary and expedient ; and
I. can have. no reason to think that they were less sanguine in
their expectations on that subject than I was. That they thought
there was a very probable chance for the measure, is most
certain ; for I believe there was no one in this House, nor, I
believe, in the other House of parliament, who, in a rgument,
has attempted to deny that the difficulties would he considerably-
diminished on this subject, after the measure of the union was.
accomplished : I was of that opinion when this subject was-
debated — I am of that opinion still and the reasons in favour
of it do very much preponderate ; this


., however, was afterwards
given up, on motives of expediency. An expectation in favour
of this measure there was ; but a pledge, I do distinctly state,
there was none.


Having said thus much on the change of His 'Majesty's ministers,
and the measure of extending the remaining privileges to the
catholics of Ireland, I shall not trouble the House, after the able
and convincing statements of my right honourable friend, with any
arguments as to the cause and progress of the war, which Ive
been the subject of repeated votes in this House. But, if it were
necessary, I could enter into a recapitulation of the same argu-ments


used on the other side of the House, with a repetition of the
same answers, and with a new force. I shall, however, say a few
words with respect to the general plan of the war. That, in the
origin of the contest, the re-establishment of royalty in France was
desirable in itself, r do not attempt to deny; for, that end accom-
plished would have necessarily restored tranquillity to Europe ;


1801.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 261


but I have never yet stated that its re-establishment was the sine
qua non of peace. I may class the objects of the war under three
different heads. The first was the restoration of royalty; and
consequently the restoration of peace ; the next was the security
of internal tranquillity, and the suppression of destructive and
anarchical principles ; and the third was, the preservation of the.
national independence and prosperity. If we:have failed in one
of these objects, we have most completely •accomplished the
others; and it is no inconsiderable consolation to us, that we have
at this moment, in..the wreck of surrounding nations, the glory
and satisfaction of maintaining the:dignity and happiness of the
country. We have kept our resources entire, our honour unim-
paired, •our integrity inviolate, amid all the discordant elements
of jarring:confederacies.; while those states which did not act in
unison with the manly protection which we a-lorded to their wants
and prayers,.became the victims of the common enemy. We have
not lost,-in the midst of all the dreadful convulsions which have
devastated Europe, a single foot of territory ; and we have given
to the rest of the world many chances of salvation. These, Sir,
Were the general objects of the war ; and the details of our ope-
rations and successes. have been so amply enumerated by my
right honourable friend, as to render any comment or observa-
tion from me unnecessary.
. have only one word to say on the state of the finances, as a
charge has been :thrown out that it has been a war of unexampled
profusion. If on this head any specific charge be made, I can
only:say that.I.Shall be at all times ready to meet it. I can,' how.
ever, say, that I have at least the merit of rendering the system
more plain than on any former occasion, even when the sums ne,
pessary to provide for the exigencies of the public service did not
amountto one-tenth of the present disbursements. That consi-
deration', however, wants no.committee on the state of the nation,
It is a fair comparison made between the expenses of the present
war, and that which-preceded-it.; and it is considered at the same
time, that the last.war was one carried on and conducted by re,
gular means and with accustomed method, and that the present


s 3




26'2 MR. PITT'S
[MA c,tt- 25,


is with a country which stakes its capital in the contest, which,
unable to support the warfare with any regular revenue, is com-
pelled to make an inroad upon its stock, and diminish the very
source of revenue; and it will be found that the present war has
been conducted with unexampled economy and frugality. That
an universal pressure has been produced, bearing upon all orders
of the people, cannot be denied ; but the fact of economical ex-
penditure during the present war must at the same time be admit-
ted. I wish not to go deeply into the subject ; but if' gentlemen
will look at the state of the revenue, excluding the taxes imposed
during the present contest, and taking only the taxes which existed
at the conclusion of the last peace, they will find that, allowing
for some deficiency upon'


beer and malt, those permanent taxes
have increased in produce about 4,000,0001. per annum since the
period of that peace. They will also find, that, if they look a
little further, the taxes appropriated to the sinking fund now pro-
duce little less than 5 ,000,000/. per annum, making together the
sum of 9,000,0001. by which the amount of the permanent reve-
nue has been increased since the conclusion of the last peace—a
sum which is within 10,000,0001. of the amount of the interest of
all the sums borrowed during the nine years that the war has un-
fortunately continued ; that the expenditure of the present was
been very considerably less than in all other former wars, cannot
for a moment be disputed. The knowledge of this fact is, I hope,
sufficient to operate as some antidote to that despondency which
might be derived from a general mention of these topics without
bringing them to the test of particular detail. This information
is surely competent to annihilate all the alarm of lavish exper4di-
ture, and ruinous expenditure, which are so frequently sounded,
and from which I know of no benefit that can ensue, but only
that species of despondency, the tendency of which is immedi-
ately to impair the energy of the country, and rob it of half its
vigour.


Late as the hoar is, I must advert to one other topic ;
on which


I thiiik it necessary to make some observations, although I shall
&Cline all minute investigation : I mean the subject of neutral


801,] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 2(33


laws and neutral nations, respecting which gentlemen on the other
side seem so much inclined to impute rashness, precipitancy, and
impolicy to His Majesty's late ministers. They speak as if the
blow was already struck, or had been inevitably decided on ; but
no man can say that all hopes of pacification with the Northern
powers are wholly excluded. It was the earnest wish of those
ministers, that the extremity of war might be avoided ; at the
same time they were prepared for both — either to commence
a war with vigour and energy, in defence of the dearest rights
and interests of the country, or finally to settle the question in
dispute on terms consistent with the honour and dignity of the
country. Were His Majesty's ministers tamely to suffer the
country to be borne down by the hostility of the Northern
powers, or were they quietly to allow those powers to abuse and
kick it out of its right ?. They wished to bring the question to a
prompt decision, whilst at the same time they rendered the fall
smooth for pacific negotiation — [Here Mr. Pitt went over the
grounds of the question relative to neutral bottoms, denying that
free bottoms make free goods ; contending that contraband of
war ought to include naval as well as military stores ; maintain-
ing that ports ought to be considered in a state of blockade
when it was unsafe for vessels to enter them, although the ports
were not actually blocked up ; and denying the right of convoy
to preclude neutral ships from being searched. In support of
these opinions, he quoted the decisions of courts of law, and
treaties entered into between this country and various other


powers; in which he contended the rights now claimed by this
country had been expressly acknowledged. He then proceeded
as follows :] — It was during the short time, Sir, that the right
honourable gentleman filled the office of secretary of state, who,
from the greatness of his genius, might have been led to those
bold attempts which by common minds would be denominated
rashness — it was during that short period that he advised •His
Majesty to cede these rights in behalf of the Empress of Russia,
for the purpose of purchasing her friendship, and preventing-that


Mr. Fox.
s




264
MR. PIT'S


[MA z[d' 25.
'sovereign from joining France, with whom we were then at war.
How 'far this was good policy I will not now pretend to discuss :
but in this, as in every other cession of the same nature, it is plain


• the right rested in this country, since it could not give what it
did not possess ; it was ceded as a matter of favour, not given up
as a matter of right. Let it, however, be granted, that, it was an
act of sound policy to -make that cession to Russia, that it was
so at that time when our naval inferiority was too unfortunately
Conspicuous — when we were at war with France, with Spain,
and with Holland, and when the addition of Russian hostility
might have been a serious evil ; does it follow that, at the present
moment, when the fleets of all the Northern powers combined
with those of France and Spain, and of Holland, would be un...
equal to a contest with the great and superior naval power of
England— does it follow, that we are to sacrifice the maritime
greatness of Britain at the shrine of Russia? Shall we allow entire
freedom to the trade of' France ?— shall we suffer that country to
send out her 1'2,000,000 of exports, and receive her imports in
return, to enlarge private capital, and increase the public stock ?—
shall we allow her to receive naval stores undisturbed, and to re-
build and refit that navy which the valour of our seamen has de-
stroyed ?— shall we voluntarily give up our maritime consequence's
and expose ourselves to scorn, to derision, and contempt ? No
man can deplore more than I do the loss of human blood — the
calamities and the distresses of war; but will you silently stand by,


-and, acknowledging these monstrous and unheard-of principlesof
neutrality, ensure your enemy against the effects ofyour hostility ?
Four nations have leagued to produce a new code of maritime


qelaws, in defiance of the established law of' nations, and in
defiance of the most solemn treaties and engagements, which


-they endeavour arbitrarily to force upon Europe ; what is this
'hut 'the same jacobin principle which proclaimed the Rights
•Of•Man, which produced the French revolution, which generated
the wildest anarchy, and spread horror and devastation through
that unfortunate country? Whatever shape it assumes, it is a
violation of public faith, it is a violation of the rights of England,


1801.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


265


and imperiously calls upon Englishmen to resist it even to the
last shilling and the last drop of blood, rather than tamely sub-


mit. to degrading concession, or meanly yield the rights of
. the


country to shameful usurpation.


The motion, upon a division, was negatived.;
Ayes 105
Noes eat


Xovember :3. 1801.


.


..fns House having proceeded to the order of the day for taking into
.consideration the preliminary articles of peace with"theFrench RepUblic,
that part of His Majesty's speech which related to the preliminary
treaty, and also the treaty itself were read.


ft was then moved by Sir Edmund Hartop, —"' That an humble
address be presented to His , Majesty, -thanking His Majesty for being
graciously pleased to order the preliminaries of peace with France to he
laid before that House — To assure His Majesty of their just sense of
this fresh instance of his paternal care for the welfare and happiness of
his


people ; and to express their firm reliance, that the final ratification
of those preliminaries will be highly advantageous to the interests, and
honourable to the character, of the British nation."


Mr. Prrz delivered his sentiments in support of the address :


He said, that upon a subject in itself of such importance,
and one upon which it was unfortunately his lot to differ from
Tome with whom it had been his happiness to have been connect-
ed by the strictest ties of friendship, for the greater .part of his
life, he was anxious to deliver his sentiments, before the atten-
tion of the House, and his owii powers, should be exhausted by
fatigue. In considering the question, whether these terms
should be accepted or rejected, there was one proposition which
Ile might lay down, with, he believed, but little danger of con-
tradiction, and that was, that for some time past, all.rational,
all thinking men, had concurred in an opinion, that whatever
their wishes might have been, whatever hopes might at different




[Nov. 3,
periods of the war have been entertained, yet, that after the
events which had taken place on the continent of Europe, the
question of peace or war between Great Britain and France,
became a question of terms only. In laying down this proposi-
tion, he desired not to have it admitted in words, and rejected
in substance. After the conclusion of the peace between France
and the great continental powers, after the dissolution of the
confederacy of the states of Europe — a confederacy which he
had supported to the utmost of his power, and with respect to
which he still retained the same sentiments ;—after the dissolu-
tion, however, of that confederacy, it became merely a ques-
tion of the terms to be obtained for ourselves, and for those
allies who still remained faithful Co us and to their own interests:
In saying this, lie was aware that he differed from many, of
whose judgments he had the highest opinion, and whom he both
loved and honoured; but it was the firm conviction of his mind,
and it was his duty both to the House and the public, fully
and candidly to state his sentiments upon the subject. When he
said, that the question of peace or war between this country
and France was a question of terms only, he wished to be un-
derstood as being more anxious about the general complexion of,
peace, as affecting the character of this country for good faith,
honour, and generosity, than he was about any particular acqui-
sition that might be made, or any specific object that might


beattained.


In considering the terms that ought to be accepted, it would
be necessary to enquire, in the first instance, what would be
the expense of continuing the contest, what were the difficull„,
ties with which it would be attended, and what hopes could be
entertained of its ultimate success ? It was undoubtedly the
duty of every government, in negotiating a treaty of peace, to
obtain the best possible terms ; but it was sometimes difficult to
know how far particular points might be pressed without run-
ning the risk of breaking off the negotiation. For his own part,
he had no hesitation to declare, that he would rather close with
an enemy upon terms short even of the fair pretensions of the


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 267


le7u1n.t]ry, provided they were not inconsistent with honour and
security, than continue the contest for any particular posses-
sion• He knew. that when he had the honour of a seat in His


Majes
ty's councils, if it had come to a question of terms, and


the pacific dispositions of the enemy corresponded with ours,
he for one should have acted upon that principle ; and knowing
that to be his own feeling upon the subject, he should neither
act with fairness nor candour if he did not apply it to another
administration. He did not pretend to state to the House, that
this peace fully answered all his wishes; but the government had
undoubtedly endeavoured to obtain the best terms they could
for the country ; and he was ready to contend, that the dif-
ference between the terms we had obtained and those of retain-
ing all which we had given up, would not have justified minis-
ters in protracting the war. He was anxious upon this subject
to speak plainly, because it was one on which he ought to have
no reserve, either with the House or with the country. What
the terms were to which this country ought to look in the pre-
sent state of Europe, had been, in his opinion, most accurately
and most ably described by his noble friend.* The principle


upon which administration acted, and in which he perfectly con-
curred with them, was, that in selecting those acquisitions which
we wished to retain, it was our interest not to aim so much at
keeping possession of any fresh conquest which we did not ma-
terially want, as to endeavour to retain those acquisitions which,
from their situation, or from other causes, were the best cal-
culated for confirming and securing our antient territories. The
object which must naturally first present itself to every minis-
ter, must be to give additional vigour to our maritime strength,
and security to our colonial possessions. It was to them we
were indebted for the unparalleled exertions which we have
been enabled to make in the course of this long and eventful


contest ; it was by them that we were enabled, in the wreck of
Europe, not only to effect our own security, but to hold out te,


Lord Hawkesbury.


266 PITT'S




268 ME. PITT'S [Nov. 3.
our allies the means of safety, if they had been but true to,
themselves.


In thus considering the subject, it was necessary to look to
the leading quarters of the world in which we were to seek for
this security.
It was evident that our acquisitions were all


in the Mediterranean, in the East and in the West Indies.
Those who thought that this country ought to retain all its
acquisitions, would of course consider any cession made by us as
incompatible either with our safety or with our honour. But
those who did not go that length, would agree with him in
thinking, that when we were to give back a part, and retain a
part of our conquests, it was our duty to consider, which of
them were the best calculated to promote the two great leading




objects to which he had before alluded ; and if it should
appear, upon examining the present treaty of peace, that in two
out of the three quarters which he had mentioned, viz, in the
East and West Indies, we had retained such possessions, as were
the best calculated to effect the security of our ancient posses-
shills, we .had, every circumstance considered, done as much as
could be expected. Without undervaluing our conquests in the
Mediterranean, and the gallant achievements by which they had
b.een.effected, especially the capture of 140.1ta, (and certainly
no man was less inclined to undervalue them than he was,)
yet it must be admitted by every man acquainted with the
real interest& of this country, that, compared with the East and
West Indies, the


• Mediterranean is but a secon.dary con-
sideration ; indeed this- was a proposition so obvious, that it
was unnecessary for him to enter into any arguments upon the .6
subject.


Of the importance of the Levant trade, much had formerly
'been said : volumes had been written upon it., and even nations
had gone to war to .obtain it. The value of that trade, even in
the: periods to which he had alluded, had been much exaggems
ted ; 'hut even


• supposing those statements to
. have been correct,


they applied to times when the other great branches of our
trade, to which we owed our present ecatness and our naval


1801.1 PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


superiority, did not exist—he alluded to the great increase of our
manufactures — to our great internal trade — to our commerce
with Ireland, with the United States of America, with the East
and the West Indies ; it was these which formed the sinews of our
strength, and compared with which the Levant trade was trifling.
In another point of view, he admitted that possessions in the
Mediterranean were of importance to enable us to co-operate with
any continental power or powers, with whom we might happen
to be in alliance. He agreed with his noble friend, that when
there was not apowerful confederacy onthe continentin our favour,
this country, with all its naval superiority, could not make any
very serious efforts on the continent ; yet, in case of such a con-
federacy, much undoubtedly would be done by the co-operation
of the British navy in the Mediterranean. But at the present
moment, and situated as Europe at present is, we ought not, upon
any one principle of wisdom or policy, to prefer acquisitions in
the Mediterranean, to the attainment of the means of giving addi-
tional security to our possessions in the East and West Indies.
It was upon this principle that he heartily approved of the choice.
which ministers had made, in preferring our security in the West
Indies to any acquisitions that we might have made in the Medi-
terranean ; because he considered it as a rule of prudence which
ought never to be deviated from, not unnecessarily to mortify
the feelings or pride of an enemy — [" Hear ! hear !" from the
other side.:1.— Gentlemen, from their manner, seemed to think
that he had not always adhered to that maxim : he would not
interrupt his argument by entering into a personal defence of
himself ; but, whenever gentlemen were inclined to discuss that
point, he was perfectly ready to meet them, giving them the full
benefit of any expressions that he had ever used. Supposing the
events of the war to be equally balanced, and. in negotiating for
one of two possessions, both of equal value, but that our possess-
ing one of them would hurt the feelings or mortify the pride of
the enemy. more than the other, he should think that a justifiable
reason for selecting the other he did not say this from any afrec-


* Lord Castlereagh.


269




[Nov. 3.
270
MR. PITT'S


Cation of sentiment, or peculiar tenderness towards the enemy,
but because an enemy would not give up such a possession with-
out obtaining from us more than an equivalent. Upon this
principle, he hoped the House would concur with him in think-
ing, that we ought not to insist upon retaining the island of
Malta. If our object had been to retain any possession which
bad formerly belonged to the enemy, and which we had captured
,ti• tim them, with the view of adding to the security of our old do-
Minions, then Malta did not come under the description, because
it was not an ancient possession of the enemy, but had been
acquired by him unjustly from a third power. It therefore ap-
peared to him more -consistent with -wisdom and sound policy,
rather to put Malta under the protection of a third power, ca-
pable of protecting it, than, by retaining it ourselves, to mortify
the pride and attract the jealousy of the enemy.


The other possession which we had acquired, and upon the
propriety of retaining which, much had been said, was Minorca.
With respect to this island, he perfectly concurred in the opinion
of his noble friend that it would always belong to the power
who possessed the-greatest maritime strength : the experience of
the four last wars proved the justice of this observation ; for Mi-


61'
norca-had regularly shifted hands according to the preponderance
of maritime strength in the Mediterranean. In time of peace,
Minorca was a possession of no great importance or utility ; in
-time of war, it could be of no use whatever, unless we possessed
a triarititne .superiority ; and if we did possess that superiority,
experience had shown that it would probably fall into our hands.
Upon these grounds, he, for one, would not have advised much to


1*
be given in another quarter for the purpose of enabling us to re-
tain the island of Minorca, doubting, as he did, whether in time
of peace it was -worth the expense of a garrison. He thought,
therefore, that we were justified in looking to the East and West
Indies for the possessions which it was our interest to retain ;
but he could not help expressing his regret, that circumstances
were such .as to prevent us from retaining a place so important,


Lord Hawk esbury-


1801.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


2'71


in many points of view, as the island of Malta : he lamented also,
that it was not possible for us to have made a more definitive.
arrangement respecting its future fate ; but unless we had been
prepared to say that we would retain it ourselves, he 'did not


know any' etter plan that could be adopted, than to make it in-
dependent both of England and France.


In turning his attention to the East Indies, he certainly saw
cause for regret, because the opinion he had been taught to enter,
tain of the value of the Cape of Good Hope was much lighter than
that expressed by his noble friend. He knew there were great
authorities against him, but, on the other hand, from what he had
heard from a noble marquis and from a right honourable friend t
of his, who had long presided over the affairs of India, he was
induced to think the Cape of Good Hope a more important place
than it had been represented on this occasion. But thinking thus
highly as he did -of the Cape, he considered it as far inferior in-
deed to Ceylon, which he looked upon to be, of all the places
upon the face of the globe, the one- which would add most to
the security of our East-Indian possessions, and as placing our
dominions in that quarter in a greater degree of safety than they


had been in !from the first hour that we set our foot on the con-
tinent of India. An honourable friend of his, on the other side
of the House, had lamented that we had not stipulated for the
retention of Cochin, and stated, that in the former negotiations
Lord Malmesbury had been instructed to insist upon its attuain-
ing in our possession. How far Lord Malmesbury was instructed
to insist upon, or recede from, certain points contained in that


projet, he did . not feel himself now at liberty to state ;
but he


believed no man would be inclined to say, that it must of


necessity be an 'ultimatum,
because it was contained in a prgjet.


Indeed one of the complaints which we had against the French
upon that occasion was, that they wanted us, contrary to every
diplomatic form, to give in our ultimatum first. He knew that


it was I tlie opinion, at that time, of -a noble marquis to whom he


Marquis Cornwallis. t Mr. Dundas.


1. Mr. T. Grenville.




272 MR. PITTS
[Nov. 8;


bad before alluded, and who had rendered'sueh essential set..
vices in India—but he was wrong in particularising India, for
there .was scarcely.a quarter of the globe in which this country
had not derived important advantages from the exalted talents
and virtues of that noble person; who was now about to receive
the last reward of his services, in putting the finishing hand to a
treaty which would give peace to the world, after a war in which
he had had so large a share in averting from this country the
dangers which threatened the most vulnerable part of our pos-
sessions— that the retaining of Cochin was necessary to the se-
curity of our Indian dominions. But the noble marquis, he was
sure, did not now retain the same opinion, because its importance
then depended upon its being a frontier post, to secure us from
an enemy whom we had since completely destroyed. It would
not surely be contended for a moment, that, when the power. of
Tippoo Sultaun was entire, and when there was a direct road from
his dominions into our's, Cochin was not of infinitely more im-
portance than it could be now when his dominions were in our
possession. He did not wish to give a ludicrous illustration of
this argument, but he was really so much astonished at what had
.been said upon this point, that he could not help stating a case


.4,


which appeared to him directly in point with the present. If we
were to look into the ancient periods of our history, when Scot-
land was a separate kingdom, hostile to .us, and in strict alliance
.with France, the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed was a place of the
greatest importance to us as a fortified frontier post;. but surely
it could not be said to be of equal importance now, when Scot-
land and England are united into one kingdom. This parallels


•did not appear to him to be exaggerated; and if Cochin was of
no. importance as a military post, he was inclined to


.
think that


its commercial value was not very great. As to the advantages
that we


must derive from the possession of Ceylon, it was unne-
cessary for.him to enlarge upon them — they were too obvious
not to be felt by every body. With regard to the Cape, he


.
had


.before ,stated his opinion of its value ; but if we could not retain
it without continuing the war, he thought ministers had acted


7


1801.] - PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. f275


wisely in giving it up upon the terms they had, because, in point
of value, it was inferior to Ceylon and Trinidad.


He now came to the consideration of our situation in the West:.
Indies ; and he was decidedly of opinion, that, of all the islands
which the fortune of war had put into our hands in that quarter,




Trinidad was the most valuable—he should prefer it even to Mar-
tinico — undoubtedly as a protection to our Leeward Islands it
was the better of the two, and, in point of intrinsic value, then
more important. As to its value as a post from which we might
direct our future operations against the possessions of Spain in
South-America, it must be felt by every one to be the best
situated of any part in the West-Indies. He had always been of
opinion, that when it came to be a question merely of terms be-
tween England and France, we ought to retain the possession of
one of the great naval stations in the \Vest-Indies, because our
great want in that quarter was a naval port. The four great
naval stations were Guadaloupe, Martinico, St. Lucia, and
Trinidad ; and those of Trinidad and Martinico were the best,
anti the former the better of the two.


He would now trouble the House shortly upon the subject of
our allies. With respect to the Porte we


had done every thing


that we were bound to do : nay more had compelled the •
French to the evacuation of Egypt, and had stipulated for the
integrity of her dominions. There was another object which we
had obtained, and to which he did not think so much importance
had been given as it deserved ; he meant the establishment of an


infant power, viz. the republic of the Seven Islands, which would
perhaps have otherwise fallen under the dominion of' France : this
certainly was an acquisition of great importance for this country,
not inferior, perhaps, to the possession of Malta itself. The
only answer he had heard upon the subject was, that there. had
been a treaty concluded between France and the Porte, by which
the evacuation of Egypt was stipulated for ; but it could not be


for a moment doubted that it was
to the exertions of this country-,


and to the brilliant achievements of •
our army and navy, that the


evacuation of Egypt must be attributed ; and if France had, by a


VOL. III. 3:




21.5271 MR. PITT'S
[Nov. g,


dipl
omatic.trick, taken the advantage of this in two treaties,


that


could not derogate from the merit of this country.
With regard to Naples, we were not bound to do any thing for


• her. She had even desired to be released from her engagements
to us : but she was compelled to this by an overruling necessity ;
and the government of this country,.in its conduct towardsNaples,
had only acted in conformity to its own interests, and that upon
large and liberal grounds, in endeavouring to repair the fortunes
of an ally who had given way only to force. The honourable
gentleman* had argued, that we ought to have guaranteed to
Naples her dominions, because, from the contiguity of the
Cisalpine republic to Naples, the French might, in pursuance of
the treaty, evacuate their territories one day, and re-enter them


p
the next ; but if, from the situation of Europe, the present sti-


ulation could not effect the security of Naples, it must be obvi-
ous that any guarantee would he equally unavailing.


With regard to Sardinia, the same observations were applica-
ble; for.


we were not hound to interfere for her, unless it was to be
maintained that we were to take upon ourselves the task of set-
tling the affairs of the continent. But if we were unable to settle
the affairs of that part of the continent which was in our olfri
neighbourhood, with what effect of propriety could we attempt
it in Italy? He was ready to grant that we ought to have claim-
ed Piedmont for its sovereign, but could we have obtained it?
Could we have procured its restoration, unless we could have
disposed of the King of Etruria, unless we could have gained the
Cisalpine and Ligurian republics, and driven the French from the
mountains of Switzerland ? Unless we could have done all tkis,
it would have been in vain to restore the King of Sardinia to his
capital, surrounded as he would have been by the French, and
by their dependent and affiliated republics.


As to Portugal, every body must lament her misfortunes. But-.
if it vas right in her to ask to be released from her engagements
to us, and if it Was right in us to consent to it, then clearly we
were absolved from any obligation to her, because an obligation


* Mr. T. Grenville.
xs


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


which is put an end to on the one side; can, upon no fair rea-
soning, be said to continue on the other. As to the cession of
Olivenza, it certainly was not. of any great importance; but
much had been. said about the territory which France had ob-
tained from Portugal in South-America,. and a considerable
degree of geographical knowledge had been displayed in tracing
the course of rivers ; but gentlemen should recollect, that a
South-American and an European river were materially diffe-
rent ; for when you were talking of- the banks of a river in
South-America, it was in fact very often little less than the
coasts of an ocean. It had been said, " You affect to guarantee
the integrity of Portugal, but it is only after France and Spain
have taken every thing they wished for." But this again was
not correct. The treaty of Badajos certainly did not give to
France all she desired, because France, by a subsequent treaty,
extorts another cession of still greater importance to her. What




happens then ? Portugal has given up this second portion of her
territory by force, when you interfere and cancel the second
treaty, and bring- them back to the stipulations


in the first. To


you, then, Portugal
owes this difference in the limits of her


South-American empire, and to her you have acted not only
with good faith, but with dignified liberality.


The only remaining ally was the Prince of Orange. Front our
ancient connections, from our gratitude for the services of the
house of Orange at the period of the Revolution, from his con-


nection with our sovereign, we
could not but take a lively in


terest in his fate, and we bad shown it by our conduct : he was
not to be told of the guarantee of the constitution of Holland,
without recalling to the recollectio n


of the House the efforts we


had made to defend, the unparalleled exertions we had used to
restore him to his dominions. Even on the present occasion his.


interests had not been neglected : we
did interfere for him ; and


we were told that his interests were at that time the subject of
negotiation, and that he would receive an indemnity. Even


if


we were to take that upon ourselves, it ought not to stand in the
T


a




[Nv.
276


MR. PITT'S
way of a great. national arrangement. Thus stood the case


o


withregard to our acquisitions and to our allies.
But it had been said, that we ought to have obtained more ;


that we ought to have obtained something to balance the great in-
crease of power which France had obtained ; that we have


given
France the means of increasing her maritime strength, and, in
short, that " we have signed the death-warrant of the country.."Now, in the first place, if


we had retained all our conquests, it
would not have made any difference to us in point of


.security.
:He did not mean to say, he would not have retained them all if
he could ; but they were no more important than as they


wouldgive us a little more or a little less of colonial power, and only
tended to promote our security by increasing our finance.


Butwould the a
cquisition of all these islands have enabled us tocoun


terbalance the power which France had acquired on the
con-


tinent? They would only give us a little more wealth ; but a
little more wealth would be badly purchased by a little more war :
he should think so, even if


we could be surethat one year's more
war would give it to us, particularly when it was recollected how
many years we had now been engaged in this contest. In


speak-ing, however, about our r
esources, he would take upon himself /


to state, (and he hoped the House would give him credit for somekn
owledge upon the subject,) that if any case of necessity


shouldraise, or if
our honour should require another contest, we


werefar; very far indeed, from the end of our pecuniary
resources,


which, he was happy to say, were greater than the enemy, or
even the people of this country themselves, had an idea of. For
the purpose of defence, or for the security of our honour,


we hadstill r
esources in abundance : but they ought to be kept for those


purposes, and not lavished away in continuing a contest with the
Certainty of enormous expense. We might sit down in a worse
relative situation than we were in at present, our object not ob-
tained, our security not effected. As to thegeneral point, we could
not now think of balancing the powers on the continent. It was
undoubtedly right, that if the French had conquered much, we


1301.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES: '217


ought also to endeavour- to retain much ; but in treating with


France we
were not to consider what France had get from other


countries, but what was the relative situation between us and


France.
Gentlemen had talked of the uti possidetis ;


but France had not


-insisted upon the principle in her treaties with the powers on the
continent ;—she had not retained the possession of all she had
conquered, and consequently we could not be justified in insisting
upon that principle. IIx admitted, that if a country had in-
crease& in power and territory faster than its natural rival, (for,
without speaking hastily, he must consider France in that cha


n-
racter,) that might justify the engaging lila confederacy to brig
him back to his ancient strength ; hut if he had been able to dis-
solve that confederacy, that would perhaps be the worst reason
in the world why, when we came to make peace with him, we
were to expect the more favourable terms. It would be but bad
reasoning, if one.power were to say to another, " You are much
too powerful for us, we have not the means of reducing that
power by force, and therefore you must cede to us a portion of
your territories, in order to make us equalin point of strength."
Gentlemen might undoubtedly wish this, but that which regu-
lated wishes would not regulate actions : many things might be
prayed for, that were hardly to be expecte d


in reality. But he


did not see that we were giving to the enemy all this colonial
wealth and maritime power which had been represented ; what
We gave back was not only smaller than what we retained, but
much of it was in a ruined state. He was therefore inclined to
think, that, for many years at least, we should have the colonial




trade, and that too increasing in extent and value. That we
should not have been justified in asking for more, he did not mean•
to assert ; but that we should have got more, or that we ought
to have continued the war to increase our possessions, was a
proposition to which he could not give his assent.


Allusions had been made to former opinions and language ;
upon this subject he should only say, that, peace having been
restored between England and France, forbearance of language


x 3




MR. PITT'S
[Nov.


and terms of respect were proper ; bnt it would be
affectationand hypocrisy in him to say that he had changed, or could


change, his opinion of the character of the person presiding in
.France, until he saw a train of conduct which would justify that


change. He would not now occupy the attention of the House by
entering into a discussion of the origin of the war ; the unjust ag_
gression which was made upon us was established by recent evi-
dence ; but it was unnecessary to enter into it now, because upon
that subject the opinion of the House and of the country was
fixed. The great object of the war on our part was defence for
ourselves and for the rest of the world, in a war waged against
most of the nations of Europe, but against us with particular
malignity. Security was our great object ; there were different
means of accomplishing it, with better or worse prospects of
success ; and, according to the different variations of policy oc-
casioned by a change of c i rcumstances, we still pursued our
great object, security. In order to obtain it we certainly did
look for the subversion of that government which was founded
upon revolutionary principles. We never at any one period
said, that, as a sine guti non,


we insisted upon the restoration of
the old government of France, — we only said, there was no go/
vernment with which we could treat. This was our language
up to 1796 : but in no one instance did we ever insist upon re-
storing the monarchy ; though, said Mr. Pitt, I do not hesitate
to acknowledge, that it would have been more consistent with
the wishes of ministers, and with the interest and security of
this country. I am equally ready to confess, that I gave up .


7ray hopes with the greatest reluctance ; and I shall, to mw '
dying day, lament that there were not, on the part of the. other
powers of Europe, efforts corresponding to our own, for the
accomplichment of that great work. There were periods during
the continuance of the war in which I had hopes of our being
able to put together the scattered fragments of that great and
venerable edifice.; to have restored the exiled nobility of France;
to have restored a government, certainly not free from defects,
but built upon sober and regular foundations, in the stead of


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 279


that mad system:of innovation which threatened, and had nearly
accomplished, the destruction of Europe,


Kyle si fata meis paterentar clucere vitant,
Auspiciis, et sponte mei) componere curas ;
Urbent Trojanam primion (Masque meorum
Relliquias colerem, Priami tecta cilia .manerent;
Et recidiva mann posuissem Pergama victis-


This, it was true, had been found unattainable ; but we had the


satisfaction of knowing, that wehad survived the violence of the


revolutionary fever, and we had_ seen the extent of its principles
abated; hadseen jacolinism deprived of its fascination; we
had seen it stripped of the name and pretext of liberty ; it had.
sliwon itself to be capable only of destroying, not of building, and
that it must necessarily end in a Military despotism. He,trusted
this important lesson would not be thrown away upon the world.
I.eing disappointed in our hopes. of being able to drive France
within her ancient limits, and even to make barriers against her
further incursions, it became then necessary, with the change of
circumstances, change our objects ; for he did not know a
more fatal erron„than to look only at one object, and obstinately
to pursue it, when the hope of accomplishing it no longer re-
mained. If it became impossible for us to obtain the full object
.of our wishes, wisdom and policy both required that we should
endeavour to obtain that which was next best. In saying this, he
was not sensible of inconsistency, either in his former language or
conduct, in refusing to treat with the person who new holds the
destinies of France; because when he formerly declined treating
with him, he then said, that if events should talte..the turn they


had since done, he .should4ave no objection to treat with him.
He would now add but very little. more to .what he had said.


He could not agree with those, gentlemen who seemed to think


that France had grown so much stronger in proportion to what
we had ; these gloomy apprehensions seemed to him to be almost
wholly without foundation. This country always was, and he


T


278
1-801.]




• :3
280 MR. PITT'S


• [Nov. .
trusted always would be, able to check the ambitious projects of
France, and to give that degree of assistance to the rest of Europe
which they had done upon this occasion ; and he wished it had
been done with more effect. But lilhen the immense acquisitions
which France had made were taken into consideration on the one
hand, it was but fair, on the other, to consider what she had lost
in population, in commerce, in capital, and in habits of industry
the desolation produced by convulsions, such as France had un-
dergone, could not be repaired even by large acquisitions of terri-
tory. Comparing, therefore, what France has gained with what she
had lost,,


this enormous increase of power was not quite so apparent
as some gentlemen on the other side seemed to apprehend. When
he took into consideration the immense wealth of this country,
and the natural and legitimate growth of that wealth, so much
superior to the produce of rapacity and plunder, he could not but
entertain the hope, founded in justice and in nature, of its solidity.
This hope was strengthened by collateral considerations, when
he looked to the great increase of our maritime power; when he
contemplated the additional naval triumphs that we had obtained;
when he looked to the brilliant victories of our armies, gained
over the flower of the troops of France, — troops which, in tht$
opinion of many, were invincible,—when he reflected upon these
glorious achievements, though he could not but lament our dis-
appointment in some objects, he had the satisfaction of think--
ing that we had added strength to our security, and lustre to our
national character. Since the treaty which had taken place at
Lisle, we had increased in wealth and commerce. But there --
were some important events which had given the greatest•conselb
lidation to our strength, and as such should not be forgotten.
The destruction of the power of Tippoo Sultaun in India, who had
fallen a victim to his attachment to France, and his perfidy to us,
would surely be thought an important achievement. It had fre-quently been observed, that great dangers frequently produced, in
nations of a manly cast of mind, great and noble exertions : so
when the most unparalleled danger threatened the sister-kingdom,
the feelings of a common cause between the people of both coun-


1801.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 281


tries had enabled them to overcome prejudices, some of them
perhaps laudable, and all of them deep-rooted, and led to that
happy union, which adds more to the power and strength of the
British empire, than all the conquests of one and indivisible
France do to that country. These were consolations which he
wished to recal to the recollection of those who entertained
gloomy apprehensions about the strength and resources of Great


Britain.
If any additional proofs were wanting to prove her ability to


protect her honour and maintain her interests, let gentlemen.
look to the last campaign, and they would see Great Britain
contending against a powerful confederacy in the North ; they
would sec her fighting for those objects at once in Egypt and in
the Baltic, and they would see her successful in both. We had
shown, that we were ready to meet the threatened invasion at
home, and could send troops to triumph over the French in the
barren sands of Egypt, before a man could escape from Toulon,
to reinforce their blocked-up army ; we had met the menaced in-
vasion by attacking France on her own coasts, and we had seen
those ships which were destined for the invasion of this country
moored and chained to their shores, and finding protection only
in their batteries. These were not only sources of justifiable
pride, but grounds of solid security. What might be the future
object of the Chief Consul of France, he knew not ; but if it were
to exercise a military despotism, he would venture to predict, that
he would not select this country for the first object of his attack ;
and if we were true to ourselves, we had little to fear from that
attack, let it come when it would. But though he did not enter-
tain apprehensions, yet he could not concur with those who
thought we ought to lay aside all caution ; if such policy were
adopted, there would indeed be ground for most serious appre-
hensions : he hoped every measure would be adopted, which pru-
dence could suggest, to do away animosity between the two coun-
tries, and to avoid every ground of irritation by sincerity on our
part. This, however, on the other hand, was not to be done by
paying abject court to France. We must depend for security only




282


Jane 3. 1803.


Cor.oxim Piarmi, having previously given notice of nmotion of cen-
sure against His Majesty's ministers, this day submitted to the Ilouse thefollowing resolutions:-


1.
" That it appears to this House, from the declaration issued by HisMajesty on the 1 sth day of May last, and laid before this House by


HisMajesty's command, -that the conduct of the French republic, during. the
whole period which has elapsed since the conclusion of .the definitive
treaty of peace, is considered by His Majesty's ministors as having been ,
altogether inconsistent with every principle ofgood faith,moderation, and IF


_ justice; as having exhibited one continued series of aggression, violence,


•and insult, and as necessarily creating a thorough conviction of a system
deliberately adopted by France for the purpose of degrading, _vilifying,
and insulting His Mtkesty and his government.


2. " That His Majesty's ministers having throughout the whole period,from the conclusion of the definitive. treaty of peace, to the issuing
of His


Majesty's declaration of the lsth day of May last, neither communicated


- -to parliament any knowledge of the sense which they now appear tofiave-
entertained r


especting the conduct and system of France, nor any-regular
information of the particulars on which the same was founded, or of the
steps taken by His Majesty's government thereupon, have thereby-with-held from this House the necessary materials fbr a due and full discharge
of its constitutional functions; and that, by encouraging throughou


t
the .country an unfounded security and confidence in the permanence of peace,they haveembarrassed and perplexed our commeree,have deceived the ex-pectations, and uunecess


arilyharassed the spirit of the people, and have ma-
•terially increased and, aggravated the difficulties of


our actual, situation.


M R. PITT'S [JuNT 3.,
upon ourselves. If, however, the views .of France were corre-
spondent with our own,


we had every prospect of enjoying a long
,


peace. He saw some symptoms that they wore, though upon
this _he had no certain knowledge ; but he would never rely ,upon


.personal character for the security of his country. He was in-
clined to hope every thing that was good, 'but he was bound to
act as if he feared otherwise.


He concluded by giving his assent to the motion.


The question upon the address was afterwards put, and agreed to
without a division.


1803.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. . 283


a. "
That it was the duty of His Majesty's ministers to make timely and


adequate representations against such acts as have, in their judgment,
constituted a series of aggressions, violence, and insult on the part of
France. That, by dignified and temperate remonstrances, followed up
with consistency, and sustained with firmness, either the course and pro-
gress of such acts would have been arrested, without the necessity of re-
curring to arms, or the determination of the French government to persist
therein would have been distinctly ascertained, before His Majesty had,
by the reduction of his forces, and the surrender of his conquests, put out
of his hands the most effectual means of obtaining redress and reparation.
That this essential duty appears to have been, in a very great degree, 110.
glected by His Majesty's ministers; and that such their neglect and
omission have been highly injurious to the public interests.


" That it appears to this House, that on the 17th of October last,
counter-orders were dispatched by Ills Majesty's government, revoking
the orders before given for the surrender of the Cape of Good IIope, and
of the other conquests then held by His Majesty ; and that the final order,
by virtue of which His Majesty's forces actually evacuated the Cape, was
sent on the 1Gth of November. That on the said 1Gth of November, the
hostile spirit of France had (in the judgment of His Majesty's ministers, as
now avowed by them) already been manifested, for more than six months,
by one continued series of aggression, violence, and insult, for 'which nei-
ther reparation nor redress had, down to that moment, been obtained.
That the offensive principle had already been distinctly advanced, of ex-
cluding His Majesty from all concern iii the atiltirs of the Continent ; that
the Spanish and other priories had already been withdrawn from the Or-
der of Malta; Piedmont, Parma, Placentia, and Elba, had been. annexed
to France; Switzerland had been attacked and subjugated, and the re.
monstrance of His Majesty's government upon that subject had been
treated with indignity and contempt; the territory of the Batavian re-
public was at that very moment still occupied by the armies of the Chief
Consul of France, and its internal administration still controlled by his•n-
terference : and the French government was then actually engaged in the
pursuit of those plans and measures for the subversion of the Turkish em-
pire, to which His Majesty's declaration refers, as a violation of the treaty
of peace. That in directing, under such circumstances, the final surren-
der of the Cape, without having previously explained or arranged the nu-
merous points of difference and complaint which then actually subsisted
between the two governments, His Majesty's ministers acted in contra-
diction to the sense which they had themselves manifested of their
own duty, and have improvidently exposed to danger some of the most
important interests of His Majesty's dominions.


5. " That, by all these instances of misconduct in the present ministers




284 MR. PITT'S [JUNE 3.
of His Majesty's government, they have proved themselves unworthy of
the confidence reposed in them in such an important crisis as the present."'


As soon as the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Addington) sat down,
Mr. PITT rose :


If I possessed a full and clear opinion on the merits of the ease,
to the extent of either directly negativing or adopting the resolu-
tions which have been proposed, I should, following the unbiassed
dictates of my conscience, give my vote on that side to which my


judgment inclined. If I agreed with my right honourable friend*,
in thinking that the first steps we ought to take in duty to the
public, were, by a retrospective survey of the conduct of minis-
ters, to judge of their fitness to exercise the functions to which
they are called; and if, upon that result, I were forced to con-
clude, that the papers on the table afforded evidence of crimi-
nality, of incapacity, of misconduct, then, however painful the
sacrifice of private feelings might be, in taking such a part in the
case of individuals whom I respect, I should feel myself bound
to concur in an address to His Majesty for the removal of his
ministers. • On the other hand, if I were one of those who con-
sidered the explanation afforded by ministers upon general points
so clear as to .


justify a decided negative of the propositions moved /
by the honourable gentleman over the way—a negative which
would imply approbation, (for in such a matter to avoid ground
of censure may be considered the same as to have deserved ap-
plause,) I should feel myself happy in joining in a decided nega-
tive to the motion. But to this extent, either of approbation or
of censure, I am unable to go. I cannot concur in the latter, or
in the extent of the charges involved in the propositions which


.
'"°


have been moved.
Besides, I am aware of the inconveniences that would result


-from supporting any measure which has the tendency of the pre-
sent motion, unless the clearest necessity exists for it. Though I
do not dispute the right of this House to address the King for the
removal of ministers, yet nothing is more mischievous than a par-
liamentary interference by declared censure, rendering the con-


* Mr. Grenville,


1S03.] - PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 285:


tinuance of ministers in office impossible, unless that interference
is justified by extraordinary exigency of affairs. Not disputing
the right of the House, I contend that the right is to be governed
by a sound discretion and by the public interest. We must look
to considerations of public expediency and of public safety.
There are some questions, in the discussion of which gentlemen
must feel more than they can well express, and this, with regard
to the interference of parliament for removing ministers, is one
of them. Admitting even that there were considerable grounds
of dissatisfaction at the conduct of ministers, would it tend to
promote those exertions, to encourage those sacrifices, which the
difficulty and danger of our situation require ? Would our means •
of sustaining the struggle in which wea.re engaged; and of calling
forth those resources necessary for our defence, be improved by
cutting short the date of administration, and unsettling the whole
system of government ? To displace one administration, and to
introduce a new one, is not the work of a day. With all the func-
tions of executive power -suspended; with the regular means of
communication between parliament and the throne interrupted ;
weeks, nay months, wasted in doubt, uncertainty, and inaction,
how could tile public safety consent to a state of things so violent
and unnatural, as would result from parliament rendering one
administration incapable of exercising any public functions, with-
out any other efficient government being obtained in its stead ?
I will venture to hint also, that after such a step any administra-
tion that should succeed, be it. what it might, and what it would
be must still depend upon the crown, would feel itself placed in
a most. delicate situation. To put the matter as conscientiously
and delicately as possible, would any set of men feel their intro••
duction to power in these circumstances to be such as to enable
them to discharge, in a manner satisfactory to themselves, the
duties which so eventful a period must impose ? These are con-
siderations for the crown and the public, and they outweigh all
those which present themselves, on a partial view of the advan-
tages which could be hoped front a prosecution of that censure
and dissolution of administration to which the propositions tend.


r




286
MR. PITT'S


[JuNE 3'.
I am aware that the right honourable gentleman on the floor,


and my friends on the same bench with him, must feel their
situation irksome under the weight of a question .so important,
in which they are personally involved, remaining undecided.
Nevertheless, when other sacrifices are demanded for the public
interest, personal feelings must be overlooked. Those who with
me have not made up their minds to the extent of censuring mi-
nisters by the adoption of the propositions, or of approving their
conduct by agreeing to, a direct negative, must pursue some
middle course. They cannot do that which must imply appro-
bation, when they do not find from the case made out that
approbation has been deserved ;' neither 'can they vote severe
censure, leading to an address for removal, when they do not
consider the charges made as completely sustained.


Having stated the opposite lines of conduct which present them-
selves in deciding upon the propositions, I do not intend to enter
into any detailed discussion of the papers. I wish, if good cannot
be obtained by continuing to discuss them comparable to the evil
of interrupting the course of our parliamentary duty, to suspend
them altogether. Since things more urgent and more important
demand our care, let us make good the parliamentary pledge we /
have given. I shall behold with much greater satisfaction as first
proofs of our determination to support His Majesty with our lives
and fortunes, you, Sir, presenting a strong bill of supply pro-




viding




resources, not merely for every demand of public service,
but adequate to every scale of exertion ; a measure that will dis-
play and call forth the means of sustaining the struggle, not merely


•for one year, .but till we shall have brought it to a successful is
issue.; some measures by which we shall be enabled to complete
caar army, and to call into action the national strength, and give
activity to all the military skill, discipline, and experience we
possess. I do not know if gentlemen feel as I do upon this occa-
sion, or if I have been successful in making my feelings under-
stood. Impressed as I am with those feelings, and unprepared
for the decisive vote which is offered in the direct negative or


The Chancellor of the Exchequer.


803.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


-
affirmative of the propositions before the House, I move
the other orders of the day be now read."


:qr. Pitt's motion was rejected;
Ayes 56
Noes -55


The original question was then put and negatived.;
Ayes 54
Noes 41-5


July 22. 1803.


TIIE General Defence bill was this .day read a -third time. On the
question that " The bill should pass," and after Colonel Crawford and
the Secretary at War had delivered their sentiments upon it,


Mr. PITT rose:


It is not my intention, Mr. Speaker, to trouble the House at
any considerable length, but I cannot avoid submitting a few
observations upon what fell from the honourable officer r3c', and
from my right honourable friend. Much, Sir, of what has
fallen from the gallant officer is entitled to great attention, and
entirely meets my approbation ; but I must observe, that these
considerations are not now for the first • time introduced. With
regard to the best means of national defence, such as a selection
of the great leading posts, an examination of the most effectual
means of operation to resist the progress of an enemy if he had
landed ;— upon all these points, though perhaps much may
remain to be done, yet certainly government is not without
ample foundation of information upon this subject, which has
been long since obtained, and which I hope is every day in-


It is impossible but that considerations of this kindcreasing.
must have occurred to government formerly ; for though the
danger of invasion was never so imminent or so pressing in the
last war as it is at present ; though the enemy had not then so
long an opportunity of fixing his attention to this one object,
that is to say, the destruction of this country, without being dig,.


Colonel Crawford. -I- The Secretary at War,.


287


C' That




4


288
MR. PITT'S


[JULY 22.
tubed by the danger of continental attack ; though the scale of
action which was found necessary at that period can be no cri-
terion of the degree of preparation which is now necessary ; yet
even then it could not be supposed that His Majesty's ministers,
in their general superintendence of the defensive means of the
country, which was all that belonged to the civil servants of the
crown, or that the illustrious personage who fortunately for the
country then presided and 110W presides over the military depart-
ment, that the variety of very able generals who had commands
in the different districts of the kingdom, did not turn their most
serious attention to a subject of such infinite importance


as that
of securing the kingdom against the possibility of foreign invasion,
and to adopt such means as, with the force the country then
possessed, would secure the defeat of any enterprise which
might be attempted. There is hardly one military district in
the kingdom, of which the government have not at this moment
in its possession ample memorials, prepared a considerable time
before the termination of the late war, under the auspices of the
illustrious commander-in-chief of His Majesty's land-forces, con-
taining a minute statement of the various points of resistance
which are to be found on the coasts, and also all the intermediate/
points of military defence between the different coasts and the
capital. Ministers, I know, have now in their possession similar
reports with regard 'to those counties which contain the great
naval arsenals of the-kingdom. They have also memorials upon
the very subject alluded to by the honourable gentleman*, that
of protecting the moutlwf our harbours, and particularly that
of the mouth of the Humber ; and, what I think of more






portance still, though more remote, I mean the defence of New-
castle, which, from its connection with tho wants of the capital,
is obviously of such importance that it cannot be necessary to
enlarge upon it.


It is hardly necessary, Sir; to recal to the recollection of the
House the names of the gallant officers who had the commands of
the different districts in the last war ; but if I do state them, it


* Colonel Crawford.


1803.]


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 289


must be immediately seen that in such hands it was utterly impos-
sible that the best means of providing for the national security
should not have been maturely discussed and arranged. It will be
recollected, that in the course of the last war we had the advan-
tage of the talents of Sir Charles Grey, who commanded in the
north. In the southern districts we had. the advantage, at one
period of the war at least, of all the suggestions of the Duke of
Richmond ; of whom, whatever differences of opinion may be en
tertained on some points, yet, with respect to the accuracy of his
researches, the length of his experience, and to the extensiveness
of his knowledge, there can be no difference of opinion. Besides
these officers, we had General Dundas, who, from his situation,
had the means of extending his views over all the districts. During
a period of the war also, the Marquis Cornwallis had the com-
mand, besides many other very able officers, whom it is not now
necessary. to . enumerate. Having the benefit of such assistance
and distinguished military talents, it is impossible to suppose that
we had not at that time a great mass of military information, and
which must furnish ample and abundant foundation for the officers
now employed to work upon : when we have all these means of
information, I cannot suppose but. that we must have also the
means of bringing forward whatever may be considered as neces-
sary to improve the defence of the country. I have already
admitted, that although much has been done, still much material
improvement may be ingrafted upon these plans which have
been alreadyprocured. I hope and trust they will experience
new improvements from day to day ; that they will receive
new forms and consistency ; that ministers will not stop short
until they have arranged a scheme of national safety that shall
for ever set to rest the vaunts and threats of a foe whose ambi-
tion knows no limits, and whose spirit of insolence and aggres-
sion knows no end. There are many changes that may be made,
there are many improvements that may be adopted at a •proper
period, but there are many of them such as I should not think it
prudent to attempt, in the course of this contest, and at a Lima
so pregnant with danger.


VOL.111.




290 MR. PITT'S
[JULY 22.


I cannot here, Sir, avoid, for my own satisfaction, making a few
observations upon some of the advantages which the army has
received from the indefatigable attention of the illustrious person
now at its head, combined with the measures which have been
adopted by parliament : I think we may be said to have laid the
foundation of means to obtain intelligent officers,'' We have laid
the foundation of military education and instruction, not only for
young men who may enter into that profession, but even for com-
municating information to men of long standing and high rank in
the army, who, much to their honour, have eagerly availed them,
Selves of this opportunity of perfecting their military education.
The advantages arising from the military academies do not now
rest on calculation or prediction ; they have been felt and ex-
perienced ; the study of a few months has made many officers


• almost proficients in the details of war : many officers who. in
Egypt gave the most splendid proof, not only of their courage, but
also of their military skill, had the advantage only of a few months
instruction in that military academy. We have, besides, laid the
foundation of a • great regular army : we have provided another
most extensive force to support that army. I am ready to admit
to the honourable officer that our regular army is not quit!, so
great as we could wish in this country, but we have provided means
for augmenting it to a degree much greater than was ever known
in this country ; and in addition to all this, we are now providing
an immense irregular force, the advantages to be derived from
which are admitted and confirmed by the honourable officer him-
self;


being indeee? too obvious to be disputed by any one. As far,
therefore, as relates to the description and to the extent Mit our
force, parliament has provided means, which, to the honourable
officer himself, (cautious, honourably cautious, and anxious as he
.is for the safety, Of his country,) appear sufficient to place this
country in a state of absolute safety. All this is undoubtedly
matter ofgreat consolation ; but at the same time it will not jus-
tify us in diminishing our anxiety, or in relaxing our efforts, for
its completion, because there must remain some interval before all


Colonel Crawford.


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 291


h


80,


73


PARLIAMENTA


are completely arranged and organised, and brought


tto8e0ts9le:at state of perfection at which I hope they will, however,
soon arrive ; but even supposing that all the measures. which I
have stated were brought to perfection, still it would not dispense
us from the necessity of adopting other means of defence, particu
larly in two points of view. Suppose all the objects attained at
this moment, yet the foundation of our security would not be these
objects, however completely attained ; against the arduous and
most desperate struggle in which we may be engaged, all these
kinds of strength can only give us this kind of security, that if we
aro not wanting to ourselves, if we have not forgotten our national
character, but remember who we are, and what we are contending
for, the contest will be glorious to us, and must terminate in the
complete discomfiture of the enemy, and ultimate security to this
kingdom : but if there remain any measure, by the adoption of
which our safety niay be yet rendered, not only more certain per-
haps, but more easy ; by which our defence can be secured with
less effusion of blood, less anxiety of mind, less interruption of
the industry of the nation, less, I will not say of alarm, but of the
evils, the inconveniencies, the agitation that necessarily belong to
a great struggle of this kind, however short, or however certain
its issue may be ;—in a contest of such a nature it certainly
would be most unwise to run any hazard of protracting it, or to
neglect any means of shortening it still more, if possible : if, upon
these grounds, I say; it can be pointed out to me that there are
any _means by which our regular army could be immediately in-
creased; and all our regiments completed, I should say that, al-
though we are safe without it, yet our interest, our prosperity,
and every object that can influence us, would require that such
a measure should be adopted.


Much, however, as I should rejoice in seeing that object at-
tained, and much as I am inclined to attend to the knowledge and
experience of the honourable officer whose plan it was to take the
militia at once into the regulars, I cannot bring my mind to con-
cur in the idea which he has suggested for the attainment of that
object; I cannot think of so deranging our immediate system of


u




292 MR. PI'T'S
PuLv 22:


defenc4 if there were no other objections to it ; I cannot think of
breaking in upon the spirit of the militia as it now stands, for the
purpose of transferring them into the regular army. I know that
the privates in the militia feel, in common with the rest of their
countrymen, the value of the sacred object for which they are to
contend ; that they are anxious to have an opportunitylof show-
ng that they would not give place to any other troops in His


Majesty's service in the ardour of their devotion to their country;
but I know, at the same time, it is impossible to divest men of
eelings and motives by which they have been long actuated, and


I know that if a measure of this kind were adopted, from the par-
tiality and affection which the officers bear towards the men whom
they have trained, and have long had under their command, they
would suffer much mutual regret in being separated. I should
be sorry if there was one militia officer who did not feel proud in
having his troops complete, and making his corps vie with the best
disciplined troops in His .Majesty's service. As. such, then, are
their feelings, in the same proportion must be their reluctance to
seethose men transferred from their officers into other regiments.
I think I may venture to assert, that if you take a number of
Englishmen under the command of proper officers, and with a
proper degree of discipline, they must and will, especially wen
under the superintendence of regular generals, and mixed with
regular troops, furnish for the present occasion a force so great,
so respectable, and so useful, that it would be very unwise to ha-
zard the making it less so, either by reducing their number, or
by wounding their feelings ; by making them think worse of
themselves by your showing that you thought worse of' them ; by
making an invidious comparison between different kindsNof
troops ; and by Areating that worst of all feelings, a rivalship
tinctured- with animosity.


The honourable officer, however, not only wishes for this strong
measure with regard to the militia, but. calls upon the militia of-
ficers to do that which must naturally be highly repugnant to
their inclinations, viz. to give their aid in transferring over to re-
giments of the line those men on' whose discipline they had be-


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 293


s1t3O7veld so much pains this is a sacrifice that can hardly be ex-
pected ; but even if it could, there are other arguments against
the adoption of this plan, the weight of which I am sure thehonour-
able officer will upon reflection admit. In the first place, the dan-
ger is immediate, and the measure now proposed is one that must
take up some time in its operation, and during that time the dis-
cipline of the corps must be necessarily loosened ; and, therefore,
I very much doubt whether, in such a pressing danger, the remedy
suggested by the honourable gentleman could be with safety
adopted. I confess that the measures which have lately been
adopted by parliament, have in my mind taken off very much of
the weight. of the arguments which have been drawn from the
necessity of augmenting the army of the line, by transferring the
militia into it; because, means have already b een taken for increas-
ing the army of the line very considerably, by means less violent
and less grating to the feelings of individuals than that now pro-
posed. By placing a large proportion of the 40,000 men that are
to be raised as the army of reserve in Great Britain, with regi-
ments of the line, by permitting such of them as think proper to
enter into the regulars for general service, parliament certainly
has done much to increase the regular army, and to preclude
them from the necessity of adopting the rough and hazardous
experiment which the honourable gentleman recommends. 'Un-
doubtedly, much will depend on the fullest use being made of the
power which has been given to fill up regiments of the line, by
means of the army of reserve.


I .."C'ertainly feel, as I ought to do, great distrust of my own
opinion upon military subjects, and I always state those opinions
with great deference; but I believe that it is universally admitted
by all officers, that new recruits poured into an old. corps which
has a number of experienced officers, will much sooner acquire a
knowledge of discipline and become good soldiers, than they will
if they are left in a corps by themselves, whatever pains may be
taken in their instruction. Taking that as an established point, I
Was, therefore, surprised and disappointed when I heard my right
honourable friend the secretary at war, instead of proposing to


u





291
MR. PITT'S


[JuLY 22.
diffuse the 40,000 men of the army of reserve over the-thirty-
nine or forty battalions that are in England, in which case they
would have all the advantages of all the officers of those old
corps— instead of this he talks of dividing them among thirteen
battalions, by which means all the advantage which they would
derive from the instruction of a great number of old and ex-
perienced officers would be very much diminished. I know it•
may be said that the commissions in the army of reserve will


in


a great degree be filled up from the half-pay list, which certainly
contains a great number of officers perfectly well qualified to
instruct and discipline any men placed under their command.
But in the first place, it must be recollected, that the half-pay list
would not furnish any non-commissioned officers, who are cer-
tainly the most essential in training raw recruits : there is, how-
ever, another consideration which strikes my mind, and which
I believe has not yet been suggested to the House. Our situ-
ation in point of security will certainly be improved by the adop-
tion of the measure which is now before us : but it must be
recollected, that while it improves, it alters our situation : if we
had voted only the army of reserve, undoubtedly it might


• be
filled with able and experienced officers from the half-pay list;
but we must recollect, that, in addition to the army of reserve(
we have voted an army of between three and four hundred
thousand men. That we shall have no difficulty in procuring
the men who are to compose this force, I am perfectly satisfied,
because the spirit of the country is now raised in the capital,
and will from thence rapidly pervade all the extremities of the
empire. That spirit was first kindled in the north, from thence
it has extended to the metropolis, and is now catching from
town to town, from village to village, and very shortly the
whole kingdom will, I ain convinced, manifest one scene of
activity, of animation, and of energy, displaying in its native
lustre the character of Englishmen. That the men, therefore,
will be procured with the greatest facility," have not the small-
est doubt ;• but we shall then want the means of preparing and
drilling them, with all the accuracy that the shortness of the


i6


1803.1 PARLIAMENTARY SPEECH ES.


295


time will admit. Does it not then occur to the House that we
shall have infinitely more use for the services of officers not at-
tached to regiments? Does it not occur to gentlemen, that,
in addition to the noblemen, the gentry, and the yeomanry of
the country, many of whom will serve as officers, it would be
advisable, to every three or four officers of this description,.
to add one or two from the half-pay list? Would not the adop-
tion of this plan greatly accelerate the training and perfecting
of this new force ? It therefore does appear most clearly to
me, that by allowing a greater number of battalions of the
line to receive the army of reserve, you would have a greater
number of officers on the half-pay to discipline the irregular
force.


I ought, Sir, to apologise for taking up so much of the time
of the House upon this subject, but I conceive it to be the duty
of every member to state to the House every idea which occurs
to him, by which he thinks the general means of the defence of
the country can be improved. I therefore certainly do applaud
the honourable officer for having given us this night the general
outlines of what he conceives to be the best plan that can at the
present crisis be adopted for national defence. The opinions of
an officer of so much experience are certainly entitled to great.
weight. There was not, I confess, Sir, any opinions delivered
by the honourable officer which I heard withmore pleasure than
those which related to the propriety and practicability of having
recourse to field fortification on the present occasion, of taking


__the necessary measures to secure our naval arsenals, not from
capture, for that I apprehend has already been done, but to
secure them from a bombardment, even from the greatest pos-
sible distance. Upon these points we have, as I before stated,
the opinions of many able and experienced officers ; and I trust
that we should not for a moment be - so far influenced by any
feelings of false pride as to neglect or despise any means of this
sort, that would so obviously add to our security ; much less
can I suppose that these means :may be rejected from any mis-
taken ideas of economy, or rather of penury, for penury it


ts




29
MR. PITT!'S


would be indeed to run the hazard of a great waste of blood for
the purpose of saving a few pounds and shillings. I therefore
confidently hope that no feelings of this kind will interfere to
prevent a great national object of this sort from being pursued
and adopted.


There was another point advanced by the honourable officer,
in which I am not sure that he was not misunderstood by my
right honourable friend *, I mean that part of the honourable
gentleman's speech in which he argued upon the propriety of
erecting fortifications upon some parts of our coasts. I know
very well, Sir, the common and general prejudice which pre-
vails upon this subject ; I know very well that when such a pro-
position is made, the answer will be, What, fortify the whole
coast of England! will you build a wall round the whole island ?
No, Sir, that was not the proposition made by the honourable
officer ; no man in his senses could make such a proposition.
Ile spoke only of the propriety of fortifying particular places
which are peculiarly accessible, or the mouths of great rivers,
such as the Humber: if I am right in my construction of what
fell from the honourable officer, then I perfectly concur with
him. I see the propriety, and even the necessity, of partial
fortifications of this kind ; and I believe he will agree with


/
me in the suggestion I threw out, of the propriety of erecting
some additional works for the security of Newcastle. When
the honourable officer talks of making certain points secure, he
does not mean that they are to be placed in such an absolute
state of security as to defy all kinds of attack, nor does he
mean that there ought to be erected on the coasts one regular
series of fortifications; he means, as I imagine, a judicious se-
lection of given situations, the best calculated to prevent the
landing of an enemy, or to prevent them from penetrating into
the country after they had landed. It is an absurdity to sup-
pose that fifty miles of coast require fifty miles of fortification.
But if in that extent of coast there are but few points on which the
enemy could land with security, those points ought to be fortified;


The Secretary at War.


1303.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES . 297


while those points which were difficult of access, and in some


degree fortified by nature, might be left untouched. The con,
sequence of this would be, either that the landing of the enemy
would be obstructed, or else he would be compelled to land at
an inconvenient and disadvantageous place. This certainly
would be obtaining a great deal : and, though I pretend to very
little knowledge upon the subject, I believe that in many
stances it would not be necessary to erect great fortifications;
it would be sufficient to profit by the natural advantages of the
situation. There are, in many parts of England, valleys with
large rivulets flowing through them : these I apprehend might.
be inundated so as to separate two corps of an enemy's army,
or to prevent communication between them. I really beg par-
don, Sir, for talking upon a subject upon which I know so
little, but I think that for a very small expense a great extent
of the coast might be put into such a situation of defence as I
have described ; and then, instead of being obliged to look to
such an immense extent of coast, your attention would be nar-
rowed and your force concentrated. If you are obliged at once
to look to the whole extent of your coast, the consequence must
either be that your army must be collected in some central po-
sition, equally distant from all parts of the coast, and in that
case some time must elapse after our enemy land, before you
can bring your army to meet him ; or else you must fritter away
your army in small divisions along the whole line of coast.
But by the adoption of the plan of the honourable officer, at


-- least as I understand it, you would be able in the first instance


to olvose the landing of the enemy, and, if he should effect a
landing, be able to meet him immediately. This system of
fortification is one that is not liable to that foolish, though com-
mon objection, that it would be building a wall round the
island. It.would diminish much of the danger with which we
are threatened ; for while on the one hand the people of
England are desirous not to be spared in a necessary contest, we
on the other hand ought to show every desire not to make an


unnecessary use of that courage which we applaud and admire,




298 MR. PITT'S
EJtmx 22.•.


but which we should manage and spare by every precaution thathuman foresight can inspire.
The third object to which the honourable officer alluded, was


that of employing fortification on the lines of internal defence.This rests upon a -principle so plain, that though it requires.
military knowledge to state it distinctly, yet


only requires the"plainest common sense to see the advantage that must result
from it ; it is as clear as


.
any demonstration in mathematics.


If; then, this plan does Promise such advantages, I am sure I
shall not hear any objections started on the ground of expense.
I would not enlarge any more upon this subject, if it were not
for something that fell from my right honourable friend, upon -0'
the fourth point suggested by the honourable officer. I know
very well that the manly feelings, and, if I may say so, the ob-
stinate courage, of my right honourable friend, will not let him
believe that the French would offer us such an insult as to come
over here to fight us for our capital. I am sure I shall not be
suspected of depreciating or of not placing due confidence in
the army, in the navy, or in the courage of the people of Eng-
land; on the contrary, I am firmly convinced that the enemy
will find us to be invincible : but it must be admitted, that in
war there are accidents depending sometimes upon a day or


►lour, in which, with the bravest and most numerous army,
tire


enemy, by hazarding an operation for which in any other service
a general would be broke or shot, but which a French general
would attempt, because he knows he would be broke or shot if he
did not, might obtain an advantage, the consequences .of which
might be most serious if some such measure as that recom-
mended by the honourable officer was not adopted. We unfor-
tunately know that attempts of this kind may be made, however
rash or desperate, for those who will make them know that they
will not appear so to Buonaparte. The proud despot of France
will, however, have reason to tremble on his usurped throne,
when the people of France find that they have sacrificed
hundreds of thousands of men to gratify his ambition and his
revenge. With respect to that despot himself; lie would, I am


1.803.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 299


sure, feel as little hesitation in sacrificing 100,000 Frenchmen,
as he would millions of Englishmen if he had them within his


gra.
arranging therefore the plan of national defence, we ought


Isnp a


not to estimate upon probabilities merely. It is not enough for
us to say that if he is eccentric and mad, he will pay the price
of his madness and folly; we must take care that we do not pay
for it first ; we must not now disdain to adopt precautions which
were formerly thought unnecessary. 1 cannot therefore agree
with the short and decisive opinion of my right honourable
friend, who, when the honourable officer recommended it to
government to fortify London, replied, " I say, do not fortify


it." I must enter my protest against such language. He says,
he would not affront the people of England by supposing, that,
while they have 80,000 seamen on board their fleet, and have
such an army as is now on foot, it could be necessary to fortify
the capital. Why, Sir, in the first place as to the navy, we
must remember, that although we have 80,000 seamen, a great.
part of them are detached on service to different quarters of the
world, and consequently could not in any degree prevent an
invasion at home. I am certainly not denying that the enemy
would find great difficulty and danger in transporting his army
to this country, but it is by running desperate risks that he can
alone hope for success. We may have a proud navy of ships
of the line and frigates-1 will not now stop to enquire whe-
ther that navy-might not have been in readiness sooner—but I


--ekn conceive a , case in which ships -of that kind would not be
sufficient to meet an innumerable flotilla of boats issuing from
all the ports, harbours, and creeks, on the opposite coast of
France, and covering the channel for several miles in length.
Whether, in order to meet a force of this kind, it would not be
wise to multiply the smaller sort of our naval force, and to
mount them with guns of heavy metal and with carronades, I do
not know ; I hope something of this kind has been done already.
It is admitted indeed, that our navy, great and powerful as it' is,
cannot be relied on with absolute certainty to prevent an inva.




300
[JULY 22.


sion; because if it could, there would be no occasion for all the
precautions which we are adopting.


But it is said, we ought not to fortify London because our an-
cestors did not fortify it. Why, Sir, that is no argument, unless
you can show me that our ancestors were in the same situation
that we are. Look hack to the days when the genius, the wisdom,
and the fortitude of Elizabeth, defeated the proud and invincible
Armada, fitted out by Spain to conquer us—and I trust that the
invincible battalion from France will meet with the same fate ;—
we must admit that not only the situation 'of this country, but of
all Europe, is changed ; and it is absurd to say, that when the
circumstances are changed, the means of defence should be pre-
cisely the same. We might as well be told that, because out an-
cestors fought with arrows and with lances, we ought to use them
now, and that we ought to consider shields and corslets as
affording a secure defence against musketry and artillery. It is
however a very great historical mistake to say that our ancestors
in England, and particularly in Ireland, had not fortifications
much more numerous than any it is now proposed to erect. If,
then, the fortification of the capital can add to the reasonable se-
curity of the country, I think it ought to be done. But here
again I do not understand the honourable officer to mean thAt
London should be encompassed with a regular fortification, but
only that proper use should be made of the natural advantages
of defence, which it possesses in a greater degree than any ca-
pital in Europe. The only difference of opinion that can exist
upon this subject, must proceed from gentlemen imagining that
we arc recommending the erection of great regular fortifications;
there is a great difference between regular fortifications and


field works; such as now recommended: we do not want regular
fortresses capable ofstanding a regular siege, like Lisle or Tour-
nay. But if by the erection of works such as I am recommend-
ing, you can delay the progress of the enemy for three days, it
may make the difference between the safety and the destruction
of the capital. It will not, I admit, make a difference between
the conquest and the independence of the country,. for that will


ISO.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


SU:


not depend upon one nor upon ten battles; but it may make the
difference between the loss of thousands of lives, with misery,
havoc, and desolation, spread over the country on the one hand
—or on the other, of frustrating the efforts of confounding the
exertions, and of chastising the insolence of the enemy.


If, then, I am right in my general view of this subject, the ex-
pense and the time of constructing these works are so diminished,
that, late as it is, there is nothing that ought to prevent us from
now making the attempt. I do not on such a subject as this rely
upon my own opinion alone, but upon the opinions of officers
high in the confidence of the present government. It is well
known that in the course of last war this system was minutely
contemplated, that a detailed plan was prepared, resembling in
many particulars the plan recommended by the honourable
officer. A plan was, I say, completely digested, a survey taken,
and the works actually traced by that great and able officer,
General Dundas. This plan is not therefore new to military
men, it is not new to the King's councils, it is not founded upon
any want of confidence in our army, our navy, or ourselves ;
it does not arise from any apprehensions of the enemy, but it
is founded upon this principle—that while we set no limits to
the exertions of the people, we ought to omit no opportunity of
diminishing their danger and shortening the contest, of making
its continuance less perilous, and of preventing that havoc, de-
vastation, and misery, which must attend a lengthened con-
test, even though it may end most successfully for this
country.


Englishmen must look to this as a species of contest from
which, by the extraordinary favour of Divine Providence, we
have been for a long series of years exempted. If we are now
at length called upon to take our share in it, we must meet
it with just gratitude for the exemptions we have hitherto en.,.
joyed, and with a firm determination to support it with courage
and resolution ; we must show ourselves worthy, by our con-
duct on this occasion, of the happiness which we have hitherto


enjoyed, and which, by the blessing of God, I hope we shall


MR. PITT'S




302 MR. PITT'S [JULY 22.
continue to enjoy. We ought to. have a due sense of the magni-
tude of the danger with which we are threatened; we ought to
meet it in that temper of mind which produces just confidence,
which neither despises nor dreads the enemy ; and while on the
one hand we accurately estimate the danger with which we are
threatened at this awful crisis, we must recollect on the other
hand what it is we have at stake, what it is we have to contend
for. It is for our property, it is for our liberty, it is for our in-
dependence, nay, for our existence as a nation; it is for our
character, it is for our very name as Englishmen, it is for every
thing dear and valuable to man on this side of the grave. Par-
liament has now provided ample means for our defence ; it re-
mains for the executive government to employ them to the
best advantage. The regular army must be augmented to that
point to which the means are now given to raise it ; the militia
must be kept high ilu numbers, and unbroken in spirit; the auxi-
liary force must be as promptly raised and disciplined as the
nature of things will admit; nothing-must be omitted that mili-
tary skill can suggest to render the contest certain as to its lue-
cess, and short in its duration. If government show the same
determination to apply all those means that parliament has
shown in providing them; if the people follow up the example
which the legislature has set them, we are safe. Then I may
say, without being too sanguine, that the result of this great
contest will ensure the permanent security, the eternal glory of
this country ; that it will terminate iu the confusion, the dis-
may, and the shame, of our vaunting enemy ; that it will afford
the means of animating the spirits, of rousing the courage, of
breaking the lethargy, of the surrounding nations of Europe ;
and I trust, that if a fugitive French army should reach its own
shores after being driven from our coasts, it will find the peo-
ple of Europe reviving in spirits, and anxious to retaliate upon
France ail the wrongs, all the oppressions, they have suffered
from her ; and that we shall at length see that wicked fabric de-
stroyed which was raised upon the prostitution of liberty, and
which has caused more miseries, more horrors to France and to


3.3 PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


303
180
the surrounding nations, than are to be paralleled in any part of


the annals of mankind.
The question passed nenkc contradicenle.


February 27. 1804.


ON a motion for the second reading of the Volunteer Regulation bill,


Mr. PITT addressed the House as follows:
Sir—From the opinion of the right honourable secretary of


state, that this discussion should be confined within narrow li-
mits, and should apply solely to the consideration of the mea-


sure immediately before the House, I decidedly differ; and with
the sentiments of my right honourable friend-` on the lower
bench, that we are now called upon to take into view every
thing connected with the national defence, I entirely concur.
Although the volunteer system naturally forms the first subject
for our deliberation, as it is the principal feature in the picture,
and that upon which we must, under all the circumst naces,


ground our reliance for ultimate security, yet the army, the mi-
litia, and all the other branches of our public force press upon
our attention, and require to he examined upon the present


occasion.
Whether the•volunteer system be radically wrong, or inade-


quate to its object, is not the question proper for the House now
-to?iconsider


; but how far any defects, which experience has ren-
dered manifest in its original formation, may be removed, and
how the detail of the measure may be improved; how far, in n
word, it may be rendered efficient—this, in my judgment, is the
turn which the debate should take. With a sense of the situa-
tion in which the country is placed, of the danger which has been
so long suspended over us, and of the crisis which, according to
all appearances and information, is so rapidly approaching, we
should devote ourselves to the consideration of the best means
of amending and advancing to perfection the only force of equal


Mr. Windham.




301 MR. PITT'S
[Pm M".


magnitude now within our reach ; to devise, not only how this
force is to be prepared for the first approach of the danger which
menaces us, but how its spirit'and efficacy may be preserved and
made competent to meet the full extent of the danger, and
effectually to guard the country.


That the enthusiasm which may enable men to meet the first
attack, can last long, it might be permitted to hope; but that it
would, no rational man would be very sanguine in calculating
upon. It becomes, therefore, necessary to communicate to the
volunteers every instruction that is practicable, in order to assi-
milate them to a regular army. That it is impossible fairly to
investigate the nature and tendency of the volunteer system,
without referring to the regular army and militia, I readily admit,
and that it is proper to enquire how far any farther argument-
ations of the one or the other is practicable or desirable; also how
far the volunteer system interferes with either of these objects.
But these are topics upon which I shall trouble the House by-and-
bye. At present I wish, principally, to dwell upon the methods to
be resorted to, in order to communicate to the volunteers all the1
instruction they want, and to the system all the improvement of
which it may be susceptible; for I am certain that this must form
the great basis of our strength, the important instrument of our
defence, the medium by which we must contrive to bring the
country safely out of its dangers, and to lay asleep those appre-
hensions, which, from the calamitous destinies of the present times,
have been excited by a gigantic power suddenly erected, to dis-
turb the world, to desolate a large portion of Europe, and to lay
the foundation, if not resolutely and vigorously resisted, of future
and incalculable misery. Such resistance it is become the fine
of this emmtry to make, and I trust it will be its glory effectually
to accomplish. That its resources and the zeal of the people are
competent to the undertaking and the achievement, no man can
doubt;—that zeal which has been displayed in a manner so ex-
traordinary as to surprise even the most ardent admirers of the
British character, and to gratify the most anxious friends


of
British independence ; that zeal which 'has not merely seconded


1.804,] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 305


but far outrun the wants of the country, and very much indeed
the wishes of the government.


Into the principle of the system, upon which the force produced
by this zeal has been constructed, I shall not now enquire. That
is a point which has been already amply discussed and satisfac-
torily settled. The question fairly is, whether, in addition to our
regular army and militia, it is practicable to procure, from the
population of the country, a force sufficiently large to meet the
magnitude of the dangers which threaten us, by any other and
better means ? It does not appear to me that we could. .Cer-
tainly, as to the amount of the force, an equal number could not
be collected by any other than compulsory means ; and if the vo-
lunteer plan were abandoned, those means, however obnoxious,
must have been resorted to, or the security of the country would
have been very precarious. From those considerations I approved
of the volunteer system. At all events, whatever the imperfec-
tions of that system may be, I feel that I cannot he contradicted,
in the assertion that no other can be now looked to as a substi-
tute. The thing cannot be done away. The danger is too near
and. imminent to allow of a total change. It is the system to
which we must resort to meet the present difficulty ; and I will
go further and say, that it is that, if carried to the degree of per-
fection of which it is capable, upon which we might calculate, in
combination with other descriptions of ordinary force, for the
future and permanent security of the empire.


But, whether this system may or may not be brought to that.
staieeNliscipline which seems necessary to reconcile my right
honourable 'friend* to its existence, I contend that this is not the
time to think of removing it altogether, of treading back the steps
we have taken, of providing another force at a time when the
danger is at our gates—when, as one might say, we are within
gun-shot of the enemy. This, surely, then, is not the moment
to entertain such a proposition ; and if not, the improvement of
the system that is established is, of course; the object for our
deliberation. Whatever differences of opinion, 'therefore, may


Mr. Windham.
x


'VOL. III.




MR. PITTS
[FEB. 27.


prevail between the right honourable gentleman * on the opposite
bench, or my right honourable friend- on the bench below him
and myself; I must naturally expect from them, that they will
3,1 ot differ with me on this point, whatever they may wish to do at
a future period,—that, when we are in expectation of an imme-
diate attack from the enemy,—when the danger is announced
from the highest authority to be close upon us, and when we are
about to encounter a tremendous storm raised by a power the most
gigantic perhaps the world has ever seen, —when we are threatened
by an attempt on our liberty and existence, dictated by slavish
power and inordinate ambition, it behoves us to consult our
immediate security, and not to allow of even the idea of dis-
banding so large a body as 400,000 men, however imperfectly
constructed they maybe. We should rather examine how far
this force may be rendered effective ; and, with this view, I shall
state to the House the mode that, in my judgment, ought to be
pursued.


How far ministers have failed, heretofore, in the performance
of their duty with respect to the volunteers ; how far they have
wished to carry into complete execution the system of which they
appear to approve, I will not now stop to enquire, farther than to
say, that they should have been more attentive to promote the
regulation of the several volunteer corps. They should have
communicated more precise instructions, through the medium of
the lord-lieutenants of counties, as to the best method of train-
ing the volunteers, of procuring a regular attendance at drills, and
enforcing attention to discipline when there. These are points of
arrangement very material to consider, and ministers should even
now, and I hope it is not too late, look to objects of so much con-
sequence. I do not mean that any superfluous directions should
be given to the volunteers, nor do I ask to have them trained up
in the way in which the advocates of an armed peasantry would
recommend, who seem to imagine that such peasantry could be
converted into that quality of force, namely, light troops, for
which, of all others, they are least qualified. But I would hal.:


Mr. Fox.
1• Mr, Windham.


1801•] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECH ES. 307


the volunteers instructed in all the necessary evolutions ; and this;
I am decidedly of opinion, would be far the best course to pursue,
particularly as it must be admitted, that, under existing circum-
stances, it would be quite absurd, if not dangerous, to think of
proposing a new system to supersede that of the volunteers. To
promote this improvement in the discipline of the volunteers, is a
thing so obviously necessary, and so highly desirable, that I should
hope no minor difficulties will be allowed to stand in the way,
that no mistaken or narrow notions of econotny will operate to
impede such an important object, but that the volunteer force
will be rendered as perfect in military discipline, as the nature of
the institution, the peculiar character of its members, and the
proximity of our dangers will admit.


When I speak of the dangers of the country, I do not mean it
to be understood, although I think the system of our defence has
made a progress far short of what it might and ought to have done,
that even with our volunteer force, so imperfectly instructed as
they are, with our other resources, I should feel any dread for the
result of meeting with the most formidable attack the enemy can
possibly contrive to make ; but yet I feel that the House will not
have performed its duty if, after the solemn warning it has received
from ministers themselves of the near approach of the enemy, any
thing that can be done shall by any possibility be neglected ; that
Any contrivance shall be overlooked which can at all enable us to
contend, I will say collectively and individually, with the powerful
and inveterate enemy -that disturbs us, and to contend with such
effect as not only to accomplish his final discomfiture, but to con-
vincAim and his infatuated adherents, that any attempt to invade
and subjugate England can only originate in the wildest ambition,
And must terminate in disgrace and ruin to the army that has the
hardihood to venture it. We must make such efforts as to fix a
lasting impression, not only on the enemy himself, 1)1 • on the rest
of Europe, that the man who, led on by confidence, shall dare
to attempt the subjection of England, shall meet the fate that the
pride and courage of Englishmen, animated by a just estimate of


x2


306




SOS
PITT'S
[FEE. 27.


their liberty and other advantages, must ever prepare for any in-
vading foe. We must leave in this contest such an example to
our posterity, as shall be honourable to ourselves and conducive
to their security. We must not look alone to


our defence against
danger. Much more important consequences must be achieved.
As to the extent of time which the contest is likely to occupy,
should the enemy succeed in making good a landing in any con-
siderable force, no man can pretend to say positively ; but it is
the peculiar duty of parliament and government to provide fbr
every event. It will not be enough that such provision should
enable us to come victorious out of our contest with the enemy ;
our triumph must he signal and decisive. We must resist the
enemy at every foot of his progress ; but we must take every care
that no unnecessary sacrifices shall be made, that the blood of
Our countrymen shall, on every possible occasion, be spared. To
these points it is our imperative duty to attend ; for, surely, if
ever there was a great trust confided to the liberality and justice
of parliament, it is the ineKis of protecting the lives and blood of
their fellow-citizens, who have rushed forward to the post of dan-
ger when the safety of their country was menaced. We should
not consent to purchase our security by the sacrifice of our




countrymen, if such a sacrifice could at all be avoided.
From these considerations, I conjure the House to point their


attention particularly to the consideration of the means of ren-
dering the volunteer force as efficient as possible. That much yet
remains to be done, and for which this bill does not provide, I feel
the most perfect conviction ; and although I am of opinion that
it would be better the alterations in detail, which I think neces-
sary, should originate with His Majesty's ministers, who are best
qualified to give complete effect to such alterations ; yet my sense
of duty will not suffer me to neglect the propositions. which ap-
pear to me eligible. To these propositions I shall strictly con-
fine myself, and, abstaining from all allusions to whatever I
may think on the present state of politics, or to the conduct of
ministers hitherto, I shall apply myself solely to the examination


1804.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 309


of our national defence. That appears to me to be the first and
most interesting subject. It ought to occupy the attention of
every man. It is quite enough to fill the minds of all.


This, therefore, claiming my consideration in preference to
every other subject, I look with great concern to the imperfections
of the volunteer system, recollectin g that it is pushed to an extent
far beyond any thing that was foreseen when the country was first
declared in danger ; and, considering its present magnitude, I're-
gret to find that it is not more advanced in military quality, that
it is still extremely inadequate to its object, and that the proper
means of promoting its discipline have not.been as yet adopted.
These means, which I deem most material, I conceive to be,
ist, the opportunity of regular instructions ; 2dly, the securing
of attendance at drill ; and, idly, the enforcing of silence, stea-
diness, &c. when at drill.


On the first of these points, I beg to ask of any thinking man,
whether it is possible for the volunteer to acquire a sufficient
knowledge of the simplest part of military discipline by attending
drill only twenty days in a year, and, generally, not more than
two or three hours each day—particularly taking into account
the inadequacy of the instructions, &e. I am aware that these
arguments maybe said to offer objections to the system altogether;
but these objections I feel to be removable by attending to the
alterations I have suggested, and shall hereafter propose. What
may be clone at a future time I shall not now enter into, but
merely confine myself to the manner in which they should
make the best use of their time that yet remains to prepare them
for the. impending danger ; and this preparation should be stimu-
lated and encouraged by the conduct of parliament. The spirit
of our gallant volunteers, so long tried by suspense, maybe other-
wise relaxed. Danger being so often menaced, and so long sus-
pended, their zeal may be weakened, unless parliament shall do
its duty by giving to those valiant patriots every possible means
of rendering their exertions in the cause of their country com-
pletely effectual. This done, and your views fully explained, I
am persuaded. that the volunteers will accede to any proposal


x 3




319 : MIL PITT'S'
[FEB. 27_


that the necessity of the case may suggest. Such is the nature
of the minds of Englishmen, that I have not the shadow of doubt,
that there is no difficulty which they would not encounter, and
no privation to which they would not submit, when they shall
understand that such difficulties and privations are necessary to
succeed in the glorious cause committed to their charge, of res-
cuing their country from danger, and establishing the security of
their countrymen.




In order, then, to promote the efficiency which I have in view, I
would, propose, that the volunteer corps should be encouraged to
go ,


on permanent duty, suppose for a week, or two, or three, as
was the case last summer in particular districts on the coast,
always taking care to assemble the corps in the place convenient
to their native home. For this purpose, I should propose that
a small bounty be given to each volunteer who would consent. to
march on such permanent duty, namely, seven shillings per week,
independently of one shilling per day to every volunteer who
should so march. This plan woad, I am persuaded, do more
towards promoting discipline and military habits among the. men,
than any drilling at different and detached periods. I had an
opportunity of witnessing the salutary effects of such a system
last summer. About 2 or 300,0001. would be quite sufficient to
defray the expense of it. Surely it cannot be pretended that
parliament manage with judgment and integrity the purse of
their constituents, if they refuse to open it in order to advance.
.pkiis sum for a purpose of such high importance, to save the lives
and property of the people, and to bring the contest in which we
are-engaged to a speedy and glorious conclusion.


Now, as to.the mode of instructing the volunteer corps, I men-
tioned before Christmas very fully, the propriety of appointing
field-officers, &c. to such battalions as applied for them, and I
am still of the same opinion; as none of the arguments which
have been advanced against my recommendation appear to me
to have any weight, and as I know, from my own observation,
the advantages that would result from it. I would propose that
the instruction of volunteer corps should be assisted by the re-


1801.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 311


gular officers stationed in the several districts, particularly those
on the coast, on some parts of which no less than from 80 to
100,000 men might be speedily collected. I would also recom-
mend the adoption of some system, not harsh, to enforce attend-
ance at drill, which is particularly necessary. This might be
done by regulations, to which each man might subscribe, im-
posing fines on defaulters ., rendering the inattention at parades
liable to arrest and detention, until tried before a magistrate,
who should have the power of commuting any fine for a short
imprisonment of two or throe days. I agree with the right
honourable mover, that no change should be made in, the volun-
teer regulations that is not called for by absolute necessity, and
of such a nature do I conceive the proposition I have submitted ;•
so I believe almost every man who has witnessed their parades.
must confess ; and when the cause and object of this change
should be explained to the volunteers themselves, I am satisfied
none of them would be found to murmur, much less to resign,
particularly when such communication should be accompanied.
by the intimation contained in this bill, that they might resign.
if they did not think proper to remain on such conditions.


As to the right of volunteers to recommend their officers, abon
which so much has-been said, it strikes me that there is no mate-
rial difference upon that point, if gentlemen would endeavour-
truly to understand it. While a control was acknowledged to
exist in the commanding officer of each corps, in the lord-lieu-
tenants of counties, and finally in ministers, the claim was frivo-
lottato insist upon ; and yet it would be dangerous to concede,.
it; even in appearance. I have at the same time a wish and a
hope, that a commanding officer will, upon occasion of any
vacancy; consult with temper the sentiments of the corps, but
not in any thing like the forms of a popular election, to take
their individual suffrages.


Here Mr. Pitt entered into a comprehensive review of the
progress of the regular army and militia since the commence-
ment of the war, and contended that neither the recruiting of
the one, nor the ballotting of the other, was so much impeded


x




31'2 MR. PITT'S
[FEB. 27.


by the increase of the volunteers as some gentlemen seemect
anxious to impress on the minds of the House ; while he thought,
on the contrary, that the volunteer system would, by proper
modifications, tend to the regular maintenance and progressive
augmentation of our public force. The complained-of slowness
in the ballot for the army of reserve and militia might be easily
accounted for, from the circumstance of the great number to be
ballotted for in the first year of the war ; and this, independently
of the volunteer system, was sufficient to produce a considerable
difficulty in recruiting for the army. To provide a resource to
recruit the regular army he would propose that a system, some-
what modelled on the principle of the army of reserve, should
be kept up, and that from that body any that should volunteer
for general service should be supplied by fresh ballot. One
reason for this plan was, that the army should not altogether
depend on the contingency of an ordinary recruiting ; and
another, that the militia should be held sacred, and that no
volunteers for general service should be sought for from that
body in future. The proportion between this army of reserve and
the militia to be fixed, and that the militia should be gradually
reduced from its present establishment to its old standard, and
that, according as vacancies may occur iv that body, a ballot
should take place for an equal number, not Ito fill up such vacan-
cies, but to go to the army of reserve. Thus, as the one body
was reduced, the other would be augmented, that the change
having a gradual operation would not be likely to produce con-
fusion in any branch of our public force.


He was aware, however, that this proposed change would incur
some unpopularity, and some pressure on the parishes ; but to
this he would say, that such pressure ought to he softened, if a
remedy could be found, and, if it could not be remedied, it ought
to be endured. To this he had no doubt the people would


' submit cheerfully, when they reflected on the value of the object
for which they had to contend, and that nothing could diminish
their devout gratitude to Providence upon a comparison of their.
Situations with those countries which, neglecting timely precint-


1 /304.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 313


tion, and refusing perhaps to suffer small losses in the first in-
stance, committed themselves to the will of that power which
now employed all its resources to assail this country. He par,
ticularly urged the introduction of a plan to limit the bounties


to be given to substitutes, that it should be always less than that
to recruits for the regular army ; the bounties to which also
should be limited, in order to put 'a stop to the proceedings of
those pests of society called crimps. He thought it would be
•,vise to allot a certain number of regiments to be recruited in
certain counties ; and that the recruiting officers should be
stationary in such counties. Thus, he conceived, the recruits
would be more easily obtained, through tilt connection that
would grow up between the people, the recruiting officers, and
the regiments to which they might belong ; and the consequence
of the system would produce an esprit- de corps that would be


highly advantageous.
Mr. Pitt took notice of the propriety of attending somewhat


more to the system of fortifications, and also improving our.
naval defence, which he stated from his own knowledge to be
very defective. While our danger was greater, and our resources
also, than at any former period, he complained that our state
of naval preparation was much lower. He declared, that in
this statement he was not influenced by the slightest prejudice
against any man ; on the contrary, in the whole of his observa-
tions he wished to keep aloof from every description of asperity,
which he thought ought not, upon any account, to be introduced
-in the course of this discussion. This was not a time for the
operation of any party-spirit. Every mind should be engaged,
every heart should be devoted to the consideration of the public
defence ; and in the prosecution of it he hoped that ministers
would weigh well the sacred duty they had to perform, the awful
responsibility of their situation. It would not be enough for
them to say that our preparations were great—they ought to he
complete. He might be told that the danger was not so great
as he imagined, and that the state of our preparations was much
greater perhaps such was the fact ; but he spoke the sentiments




914
MR. PITT'S


[MARCH 15.
which all appearances, among which were the declarations of
ministers themselves, fully justified.


He concluded with stating that he had many other observations
to make on the several projects he had mentioned, but should
wave them till a future opportunity. In the mean time he de-
clared that he was not so obstinately attached to any opinion of
his own as to decline, upon such an important subject, giving
the utmost attention to the suggestion of others.


The bill was read a second time, and committed.


March 15. 1804.


Ma. PITT this day brought forward his proinisett motion on the pre-
sent state of the naval defence of the country.


In introducing the subject to the House, he spoke to the following
purport :—


Sir—As I have reason to believe that a part, and I must con-
fess a very important part, of the information which it is my
wish the House should be in possession of, with respect to the
state and means of our naval defence, is not likely to meet with
any opposition on the part of His Majesty's ministers, I shall
not detain the time of the House with any detailrtr observations
which do not apply, as closely as possible, to the papers which
constitute the object of my enquiry. I shall, therefore, state
generally the grounds and ends of the different motions I have
to bring forward, but I beg leave to add, that if they are, as it




will appear to me, unexpectedly objected to, I shall claim the
indulgence of the House in explaining more fully, and calling
their attention to the importance of the information in detail,
which I conceive essentially necessary to the safety of the
country.


The object of the first motion I shall have the honour of
making, will be an humble address to His Majesty, " That he
may be pleased to give directions to have laid before the House,


iz


18(4.]
PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 315


an account of the number of ships of the line, ships of 50 guns,
frigates, sloops of war, bombs, hired armed vessels, &c. in
commission on the 31st of December 1793, on the 30th of


September 1801, and on the 31st of December 1303, speci-


fying
the service in which they were respectively employed.."


Gentlemen will perceive that this motion calls for the produc-
tion of papers, distinguishing what is absolutely necessary for
their information, the state of three different periods, in which
the naval means of the country's defence were called into ac-
tion. When the question is properly considered, with respect
to the necessity of making great preparations, in order to meet
with vigour and efficacy those carrying on by the enemy, and
openly avowed to be intended against the existence of this na-
tion, I believe it will be found that the number of that descrip-
tion of our naval force, fit to repel the actual attempts of
the enemy, is at the present moment much inferior, and less
adequate to the exigency of the danger, than at any period in
former times. Shall I, Sir, detain the Hodse with a tedious
recital of the great and extraordinary changes which have taken
place, and which call for increased activity and exertion? Such
an appeal is rendered unnecessary by the actual state of things,
and by facts which cannot be controverted. If, on former oc-
casions, we have been called upon to make preparations of de-
fence in their magnitude superior to preceding cases, it does not
require from me any arguments to convince the House, that, in


our present situation, our means of security shouldbe much greater
in a comparative point of view, and that, in , proportion as


we'are threatened, not only with the acknowledged determi-
nation of the enemy, but with his increased power of effecting
an invasion, we should redouble our efforts, and be ready to
guard against every possible risk which may be hazarded against
our independence and happiness.


The next point to which I shall beg leave to call the atten-
tion of the House, is that species of naval force which is best
calculated to meet and defeat that preparing by the enemy, to
accomplish the great and favourite object of invasion. 1 believe




CMAlteli
316
MR. PITT'S-


that at the commencement of the last year, it. occurred to the
lords of the admiralty, that the kind of force best calculated to
act against the attempts which might be made to effect a descent,
was that more peculiarly fitted to display itself in shoal water,
and I have good grounds to believe, that the lords of the ad-


, miralty, thinking so, were of opinion that it ought to be consider-
ably augmented. But although they were of that opinion in the
month of January 1803, yet I can state to the House without
the fear of contradiction, that only twenty-three gun-vessels
were provided for, as an augmentation to this species of naval
force, five of which were to be completed in three, and the re-
mainder in six months. I mean, Sir, that this provision against
invasion was undertaken to be.carried into effect in the month
of January 1304.. Yet of all the vessels likely to be employed
with success, this craft was, of all others, the most eligible,
whether its means of defence and annoyance are to


.
be consider-


ed, or the water on which it is destined to act. The lords
of


the admiralty, convinced, however, of the necessity of em-
ploying it, took some measures for an establishment of that na-
ture; and I am naturally led to enquire into the steps which they
pursued to complete so desirable an object. They determined to
have five gun-boats ready in three months, and the whole, con-
stituting twenty-three, finished for actual service in six months.
It is undoubtedly a very material point to enquire why this aug-
mentation was not thought of at an earlier period. Am I, Sir,
to recapitulate the various motives which should have accele-
rated increased exertion ? Were I to do so, I should merely re-
state what has been obvious to every man of common sense and
common observation. In the month of August, when we saw •
the necessity of augmented efforts ; when we saw transports for
the conveyance of troops collecting daily in the port of Bou-
logne; when we saw them gaining new strength and new ad-
ditions, during the fine weather, to the months of November
and December, and when we knew that they had increased to
upwards of 1000 in the same port, independent of the arma-
ments in Heivoet, in the Texel, in Brest, and other points of


1801.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 317


attack ; what reason, let me ask, can be assigned for the gross
neglect which has taken place in this respect ? But above all,
Sir, let me ask what defence can be set up for this extraordinary
conduct, when we were told by government itself, that we were
threatened with invasion from day to day ; when we had, if I
ani not very much misinformed, reason to believe that 100
strong gun-boats were collected at Boulogne ready to convoy
and protect the enemy's flotilla assembled in that same port?


In stating all these circumstances, it is hardly necessary for
me, I think, to apply them to the subject under our discussion.
Having, as I have observed, all these proofs before us, I wish
to know, and I trust I shall not be considered as asking too
much, why we can have but a force to meet the enemy in his
own way, a part of which is to be ready only in three months,
and the remainder, the greater part, to be completed in not
less than 'six ? If we have been preparing for a considerable
time, with all the efforts of which the country is capable, an
immense land force ; if government be serious in the notice
which it has given, and in the alarm which it has diffused, of
the attack that menaces our independence and even our exis-
tence; if we are , now ready to contend on our native soil with
an enemy waiting for a favourable moment to Inake a descent
in that class of vessels peculiarly adapted to cross the Channel,
I hope I shall not he thought unreasonable in asking, why the
best and most effectual means of meeting and triumphing over
the danger have been so long suspended ; and why a part of our
counteracting exertions, in the naval department of our strength,
has been deferred for three months, and the more considerable
part has been postponed for the space of six months ? This
will constitute the object of the second motion, with which I
shall trouble the House.


I shall not, thinking as I do, that it Would be an unprofitable
waste of time, undertake to show that the means of our na-
tional defence, with respect to the use of gun-boats, have been
improperly used ; and that when it was found necessary to re-
sort to them, they were only attempted too. late to be effectual,




[MA nut 15.318 MR. NITS


I have now to state what has been done in the course of the
last war, when the occasion was less pressing, and the circum-
stances were, under every point of view, of a less imperious
nature ; and I have to assure the House that if the proper docu-
ments he granted, I shall undertake to prove the truth of the
assertions, which I may feel it my duty to bring forward. Gen-
tlemen will, no doubt, recollect, that in 1794, 1797, and 1801,
it was found necessary to augment the same species of naval
force, to which I have this evening alluded. What was the
conduct of government at each of these periods ? A considerable
number of gun-boats was got ready in the two first periods,
within ten weeks only ; and the same activity of preparation
was carried on with success in the year 1801, within the space
of from twelve to fourteen weeks. Instead of any exertion
now, similar to those instances which I have mentioned, we
ate informed, that the greater part of our means of defence is to
be completed within six months, and that a few gun-boats will
be ready at the end of three.


Thus, Sir, I am warranted in maintaining that here we have
sufficient grounds for a motion to address His Majesty, that he
might be graciously pleased to use additional vigour and expe-
dition in preparing and maturing our naval means of defence
against the enemy's armaments ; for employing redoubled ac-
tivity against the danger with which we arNthreatened ; . and
for guarding the narrow seas with more strictness and vigilance.
These, it will not be denied, are objects of true constitutional en-
quiry, and they form a most satisfactory ground for me to demand
the information which I desire may be laid before this House.


In the like manner I also propose,- " that an humble address
be presented to His Majesty, for a copy of the contracts made,
and the orders given, by the lords of the admiralty, in 1793,
1797, and 1803, with respect to the number of gun-vessels to be
built, distinguishing the time at which each contract was made,
the period in which it was to be brought to a conclusion, and the
amount of the sum to be paid for the performance of it." These
accounts are the more important and material, as they will give


1801.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 319


to the House the opportunity of not only seeing the opinion of
the lords of the admiralty on the subject, but they will also
afford the means of comparing our naval strength in this re-
spect, as it actually exists, with what it was in former instances,
and tend most essentially to promote that end for which we can-
not be too zealous in our wishes— the security of the country.
It is not for me to anticipate the opinion of gentlemen upon
these questions ; but most certainly no man will undertake to
tell me, that this is not a proper mode for satisfying the House,
whether the preparations which have been made by His Majesty's
ministers, in the direction of naval affairs, have been commen-
surate to the magnitude of the crisis in which we are placed.
As the measures I have thought proper to touch upon, are de-
cisively necessary for the defence of the country, I will not fa-
tigue the House with dwelling on them at a length that must be
uninstructive and tedious. There is, I am confident, no man
who hears me, that is not convinced of the ;vast importance. of
these objects, which are superior in magnitude to any that can
occupy our attention. They can receive no embellishment or
illustration from any words which it is in my power to use, for
they press themselves irresistibly on the minds of all.


Another object to which I shall call the attention of the House
is, however remote it may appear to some, not less essential to
the permanent security and happiness of the country. I mean,
Sir, not what relates to our present danger, and our actual
exertions, but to what should be our system of conduct, even
wete..peace to be concluded, with respect to any future war. It
is a consideration, let me say, in which not only our own dearest
interests, but the interests and destiny of Europe, are involved.
Next to the two first points which I have noticed, it remains
with the House to determine whether the state of our navy, at
the commencement of the war, was such as to call for aug-
mentation, or diminution. In the year 1801, it was impossible
to suppose that the navy did not require more exertion than
in 1793 ; for every thing indicated that it was not so promising
as in the beginning of the former war. I have no desire to




I6.
320 MR. PITT'S


EMAnert


disclose-the precise condition of our present force, but the truth
is, that you were bound to make every- possible exertion, and
even efforts altogether unprecedented, to augment and repair
your navy at the beginning of the present war, from motives
and causes which did not exist in the commencement of the
former war. It is almost needless for me, Sir, to remark, that
there are two modes of increasing our naval strength, with re-
spect to our shipping; the one by building vessels in the King's
yards, the other by building them in consequence of private con-
tracts in the merchants' yards. If we look to the progress of
our naval improvement for a very long time, we shall find that
no less than two-thirds of it have been built in the merchants'
yards ; and, undoubtedly, it is not necessary for me to state
to the House that which must be known to every person con-
versant with the subject, that building in the King's yards in
time of war is nearly suspended altogether. I have also to re-
mark, what I am convinced will not escape the attention of
gentlemen, that the great augmentation of our navy does not
arise from ships begun in a period of war, but from ships
vhich have been laid upon the stocks for several years antece-


dent. During the last war, I. can state, without the possibility
of contradiction, that out of twenty-four ships of the line, pre-
pared and finished for actual service, two alone were supplied
from His Majesty's yards. What conclusion then, it may he
said, do I intend to draw from these facts ? I wi h to establish
it as a system tha should be acted upon, that wOri the circum-.
stances of the times require extraordinary efforts, you should look
to the building of ships by contract ; and that you should also
look to the augmentation of your navy, not in the precise mo-
ment when necessity calls for exertion, but many years antece-
dent to the pressure of any unforeseen exigency. As to the
difference of building between the King's and the merchants'
yards, it was evident that no material difference arose in point
of expense, since, in the latter, the amount of the expense was-
regulated by public advertisement, and the work was to be exe-
cuted in the best manner. Now, Sir, if I am not very much


ISM.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 221


mistaken, I am enabled to state, that, since the present lord of
the admiralty have come into office, only two ships of the line
have been contracted for, to be built in the merchants' yards.
Mean to show that entering on the present war, when our nave/
could not be in so good a condition as at the- beginning Of the
former war, every possible means should have been taken to
augment and strengthen it ; that it was a period which required
greater exertion, and that only two ships of the line have been Con-
tracted for, while, during the last war, out of twenty-nine ships
of the line, the King's yards furnished but two. But if the admi-
ralty be liable to censure for these omissions, it will be found
still more so from details which I can pledge myself to prove
in the most satisfactory way. I have explicitly to statenthat
there are at this moment docks and slips in the river unoccupied,
which are calculated for building fourteen or fifteen ships of the
line. When, therefore, all these circumstances are put together,
and fairly considered, I hope I shall not be told, that they do
not constitute grounds for an address to His Majesty.


The next motion I have to make is, " That there be laid be-
fore the House a list of such ships as have been built in the King's
yards in 1793 and 1801." But if gentlemen should think any
information on this head might be the channel of improper- in-
telligence to the enemy, I shall feel it my duty to abstain from
pressing the motion on the House ; for I am aware that there
will still be grounds sufficiently strong to convince the House,
that. the construction of vessels in the merchants' yards is pre-
ferable-to that which is now adopted in those of His Majesty's.
I shall afterwards submit a motion for the production of a list,
similar in substance and time, of the vessels built by contract-in
private yards ; and to this, I conceive, . no material objection
can be made. A noble friend of mine, on the bench below
sue; has, on a former night, entered into a comparative view of
the state of our naval force in different years ; but it was so ge-
nerally couched, as to bevery little suited to the present enquiries
which form the objects of my motions. It is material for the


* Lord Castlereagh.




322 'MR.
PIT 'S [MARCH 15.,


House to remark, that in the former war we set out with 16,000,
men, who were soon after augmented with 2,000 more, and in
the course of the- year were increased to the number of 75 or
76,000, including marines. In the present war we started with
50,000 men, and it should not pass unnoticed that we also en-
gaged in it when our mercantile marine was increased in a ma-
terial proportion. Yet, what was done ? Why, although we.
began with 50,000 men, and had all the great advantages arising
from an unprecedented prosperity of trade and commerce, our
naval force did not exceed, in the number of men, 86,000 at
the end of the year. Thus, in the first. year of the former war,
we had an increase of 60,000 seamen, and on the first year of
the present war, an augmentation of 36,000 only.


In the few plain statements I have made, the House will per-
ceive that I have cautiously abstained from all general reason-
ing, and that I have carefully confined myself to such grounds
as I have thought sufficient to justify the motions I have to
bring forward. Should the motions be refused, I trust, how-
ever, that I shall be 'indulged by the House in any- further rea-
soning and explanation which I may be called upon to employ ;
and should they be granted, I shall reserve, for a future day,
the remarks and illustrations to which their objects must natu-
rally lead me. The considerations which they involve are


. of
the first importance, and render it, in my mind, the indispens-
able duty of parliament to agree in an address to His Majesty.
I. shall therefore conclude with moving, " That an humble ad-
dress be presented to His Majesty, praying that HisiVajesty may
be graciously pleased to give orders, that an account of the num-
ber of ships of the line, of ships of 50 guns, frigates, sloops of
war, bombs, hired armed vessels, &-c. as have been in commis..
sion, with the distribution of


• their respective services on the
Slst•of December, 1793, on the 30th of September, 1801, and
the 3Ist of December, 1803; be laid before the House."


After the question had undergone considerable discussion, Mr. Pura
rose to reply :


He declared, that he would endeavour to detain the House, at
that late hour, as short a time as possible. It must, however,. be


1804-3 P ARIA AMENTARY SPEECHES
.323


evident that he was bound to answer Seine of the remarks which
had been brought forward. lie agreed With a learned gentleman
that any vote Which Was given that night for the papers did not
absolutely proceed the length of censuring his lordehip. They
were called upon to grant Certain papers, d eemed requisite for ail
enquiry into the conduct of his lordship, and the honourable board
of which he was the head. They *eke called bit,tin to view, with
the eye of candour and impartiality, the merits of the case which
he had presented for the consideration of theHouse. To grant the
documents for which he moved, would be the best means of esta-
blishing the character and conduct of his lordship, by the enquiry
which he proposed to institute. To refuse them would create
those doubts which must always be injurious to a public charae,
ter, however pure it might he considered by his-friends. To refuse


them would also have an evil tendency —it would serve to ex-


cite doubts as to the real strength of the nation. And what
doubts? Doubts as to our capacity for the resistance of a very
powerful enemy, *hose visit to this country we are taught to be-


lieve Will take place in the course of a very feW weeks. Before
such a terrible emergency arrives, all doubts ought to be re-


inovéd, by the production of such papers ee Would demonstrate
at once the real strength 6f the country.


If these papers be deemed necessary to ascertain our capacity
for the resistance of the- enemy, why deny them ? Is parliament;


.for the sake of protecting the board, to be left doubtful of our
strength and power at this great end awful crisis? Is that very
parliament, Which makes a liberal expenditure for the security


---


ogle country, to be left in a state of doubt and dismay, because
ministers do not choose to gratify their moderate wishes? The
greater the danger, the greater the necessity for knowing the ar-
rangements and Strength of the country at the eve of one of the
most serious events about to be recorded in our history. Should
the papers be refused, which, froth the disposition of those con-
nected with administration, appeared likely to be the result of his
efforts, our doubts would be increased, not only respecting our


Me.Foliblarique.




321
- MR. PITTS
[MA RCH


15.
capacity to meet the enemy, but Our doubts would also be in-
creased respecting the conduct of the nobleman who presided at
the admiralty. It was as much as to say, "Do not enquire into
our conduct, for there are certain facts which cannot bear public
investigation." It was as much as to say, " Give us unlimited
confidence, believe in our professions of vigilance and activity,
but do not attempt to institute an enquiry, for we can never con-
sent to such a measure."


What sort of confidence does the board want.? That blind and
false confidence which exposes the safety of our country f That
confidence which sacrifices our public security for the sake of,
screening from censure a department of government the most im-
portant at this particular period to the interests of the country
Is this the kind of security which the honourable baronet * boasts
of as operating so powerfully on his mind, as to induce him to
retire this.


evening, and lay down his head on his pillow with.
confidence? It is a dangerous and alarming confidence—a con-
fidence which benumbs our senses, and lulls us to sleep, while
the enemy is at our gates--a confidence which cannot fail to
excite the most lively emotions in the minds of men of serious
reflection, when contrasting the terrible activity of the enemy
with the alarming supineness of our government.


But let it not be said I am trifling with the feelings of the
House by these melancholy views. I believe,. with a fit applica-
tion of the resources, the country may not only be rendered se-
cure, but triumphant. My only wish is to remove the evil of
deception from before our eyes, to scout that fake. confidence
under which ministers shelter themselves—a confidence which,
if passed over in silence, may endanger the very existence of
the nation, because it avows and cherishes a trick upon itself.
Let the honourable baronet, therefore, retire to his pillow, if he
please, and wrap himself up in his charm of naval confidence


I have been very much astonished at the extraordinary turn
this debate has taken. Ministers had previously applied to be.
informed of the nature of the motions I meant to propose. I int


* Sir William Curtis.


1 -804:.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 325


formed them ; and I certainly understood it was their intention
to accede to two of the motions, without any objections being
suggested. With this persuasion, as I have lately often intruded
very much on the time, and, I fear, the patience of the House, I


thought it unnecessary to enlarge on the nature, circumstances,
and object of the motion. Consistently with this reflection, I
merely stated the leading object, from doing which I had no
sooner retired, than the right honourable gentleman below me
rises and asserts, that I have made out no case on which the pre-
sent application can be founded. I must confess this is not
treating me with that candour I had reason to expect. A case
opened, and a case proved, are two very different things ; but it
is not at least a necessary consequence that these two stages in
the same cause should not succeed each other. I should be very
much surprised if the case, even as it now stands, should by any
gentleman be considered feeble. The first prominent feature of
it is, to possess such a naval force, under the present danger of
invasion, as- would be fully competent to guard these islands. I
F.ay the force ought to be greater ; that it is less than it ought to
he, and than it might be, if the means of the country were put
in requisition and activity. Are not these, then, grave and im-
portant considerations, and are they not directed to provide
against the greatest possible calamity, and for the security; nay,
the existence of the country ? The next distinguishing feature
of the present motion is to lay a sufficient foundation to keep
the navy under such an establishment, that, whatever may be
its present condition, a permanent force may be in future sup•
poqed, adequate to the accumulating perils to which the nation -


may be exposed. These preparations are the more necessary,
because the present war succeeds a recent one of great length,
in which the naval force had unavoidably received considerable
damage. Can I, consistently with the respect I owe to this
House, enquire if these matters, which immediately concern the
present safety and future strength of the country, are subjects . of
importance ? or if any materials can be supplied, on which- a case
may be more firmly supported ?


Mr.-Tierney.
Y 3




326 MR. P1 TT'S r nen 15.


The right honourabie gentleman below me has refused the
main object of this motion, and he is to be a powerful sup-
porter of the present measures. Whether his aptitude be great
iu the support of an administration, as it was in opposition,
we have to learn—we have yet to learn what his abilities are as
a defender. He has been instructed already in a severe school ;
but I very much question if he has distinguished himself, or will
de so, under the new character he has been induced to assume ;
and he certainly has enjoyed sufficient opportunity to remove our
uncertainty in this particular, of which, however, he has not been
disposed to avail himself. I am told by the honourable gentle=
man, I have been seized with a panic to which the gallant heart
of the noble lord could not be liable. Am I to understand that
the.


right honourable gentleman speaks the sentiments of his
neighbours on the same bench, when he affects to ridicule this
panic as idle and absurd ? I know that the noble lord alluded
to is above all ignoble fear ; but he would be-wholly unfit for
the station he occupies, if he were not to entertain a rational
conviction of danger ; if he did not know that difficulties were to
be encountered under the mighty system of hostility adopted by
France. If ministers have felt none of these apprehensions ; if
to this alarm or panic they have been wholly superior, how are
we to explain their recent conduct? For what purpose have
they been engaging the time of parliament with prolix and ener-
getic discussions on the military force necessary to defend the
sacred soil of our country from insult and violation ? Whence,
if this be the case, all this bustle and activity, this volvinous
correspondence with the most eminent characters in military
life ; and whence this variety of measures, which I will not say
they have proposed, but to which they have acceded ? Is this
too all vain delusion ; or have they, with me, been degraded
by a panic which they assume when military matters are under
consideration, and reject with indignation when the naval force
is the subject. of debate ? It has been truly said by my honour,
able friend*, that the naval defence of the land is our national
passion, in which we indulge all the excesses of instinctive pride.


* Mr. 'Wilberforce.


3801.]
PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 327


With this generous propensity, let us look to the collective
strength of the enemy on the opposite coast, which seems to
realise the fictions of ancient story. Can it be supposed, with
this view before us, we can for a moment forget all the advan-
tages of our insular situation ; the glories of our maritime
strength ; the navy which has extended our commerce, which
has established our authority, which has raised us to the rank we
enjoy amongst surrounding empires, and which has conduced to
our command and aggrandisement in every quarter of the earth ?
Can we, I say, in the moment of danger, fail to remember this
:;rand source of public security ? In such a crisis as this, am I,
with all the indifference of a cold comparison, to be referred to
the commencement of the former war with France, when she was
torn by civil dissensions — when she was encompassed by hostile
nations in array against her—when all Europe was leagued for
her destruction ? Is that period to be assimilated to the present,
when we are to meet her single-handed, without the co-oper-
ation of one ally ; -,and are we to limit our exertions to what they
were at the time when circumstances were thus totally different?
Yet it will be recollected, that then the navy of this country, at
least, was so far prepared, that scarcely one fleet ventured to
forsake the ports of France that did not supply new laurels to
the gallant defenders of their country, on the tempestuous ele-
ment by which we are surrounded. The enemy, who have lost
their internal trade, their exterior commerce, their fisheries, the
very foundation of their navy, have, in the prosecution of a
gigantic enterprise, created an artificial marine of prodigious ex-
_


fent; and are we not to proportion our means to the new cir-
cumstances in which we are placed, to the new perils to which
we are exposed ; and are we to have the ardour of all our
generous passions dissipated by the application of this " cold
comparison ?" I trust, therefore, I shall not be accused of dis-
graceful fear, of idle panic, if I contend our exertions ought at
this moment to exceed all former precedent ; because the dangers
by which we are encompassed exceed all former peril. Unless
I am much mistaken, the kind of minor marine I have recom-


y




328 MR. F/TTS
PIAAcn 15.


,mended, is a force easily prepared, neither of tedious nor
expensive construction.


But, gentlemen have argued as if I wished to lay aside the
floating castles by which this country is protected, and to disband
the.


British navy. I 'was sorry -to hear an honourable admiral *
deviate-into this gross misapprehension. True it is, I have ex-
pressed some confidence in


- gun-vessels, for a particular pur-
pose; but have I ever been insane enough to express a doubt,
that for the blockade of Brest, Toulon, Ferrol, and the various
ports occupied by the ships of the enemy, our men of war and
our frigates should not be employed ? Even should the flotilla
of the enemy venture toward our coasts, I have no doubt that a
wide destruction and- general confusion will be. occasioned by
the annoyance they will receive from our regular navy : but_
some will probably escape among the vast multitude ; and am I
'culpable in recommending that this minor navy should be pre-
pared, under such an emergency, to render certain that security
which would otherwise be only probable ? Our first defence
then is by our larger ships ; our next in the shallows by our
fiotiila; the third expedient is, to prevent the landing of the
enemy; and the fourth and least convenient is, when they have


.gained.a footing on English ground, to meet them in the field of
slaughter. Will gentlemen, who affect to despise these gun-
vessels, not admit, that ,


between the ports of Harwich and
Portsmouth there are numerous banks and shallows where ships
of the line are incapable of approaching the shore ? I am not
ashamed to say, before professional gentlemen, howeveswminent,
that if we neglect to provide against contingencies, by the kind
of force to which I have. now adverted, we do not do all in our
power to conduce to the national safety.


Terms of derision have been employed to render this species
of marine defence contemptible, and it has been called a Mos-
quito fleet ; but when gentlemen are pressed a little more on
the subject, then we are told there are 500 or 700 volunteer gun-
boats:— These boats, we are to recollect, are not under the inn.


4.- Sir Edward Pellew.


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 325


mediate command of the admiralty, and have actually been
forced into its service by the enthusiasm of the people. A great
proportion of these are engaged on an extent of coast with which
I mu particularly acquainted, and I know this force would have
'been ready much sooner, and would have been in a much better
condition, if the admiralty had given them due encouragement.
Honourable gentlemen have dilated on the distinction of gun-
boats and gun-brigs, and the latter have, it seems, received
some commendation from high professional authority. It is to
gun-vessels of this last description that I have all along ad-
verted; and twenty of these, which have had the foremost duty
under Lord Keith, are those which were fitted out in the time
of Lord Spencer : so that the utility of these is acknowledged
by Lord St. Vincent ; and as a further proof, those that have
been lately ordered, under the circumstances stated, are pre-
cisely of the same kind, and differ only in the delay, I contend,
needless delay, in their .construction. I have then the satisfac-
tion to reflect, that my sentiments are sanctioned by the appro-
bation of the admiralty ; and all I regret is, the procrastination.


But we are amused with a brilliant flash of eloquence, (not
lately a source of ordinary entertainment in this House,) and we
are told by an honourable gentleman*, "all this scheme of gun-
vessels is a job." This sentiment, clothed in a wandering me-
teor, which fixed its ray of indignation upon me, shall not so far
dazzle my organs of vision., as to prevent my discovering the
way by which I may relieve myself from the terrors of its efful-
gence. It is not necessary to conclude, because a service has
been converted into a job, that it is an useless service. If per-
nicious. food had been given to the honourable gentleman, he
would not conceive it to be a reason for abstaining from all
nourishment ; so in the former case we must learn to distinguish
between accident and substance, and, rejecting what is injurious,
retain what is valuable. But as ministers have boasted of the•
comparative force, let us for a moment examine what it is. In
1801, we had 101 sloops, we have now 81; we then had 69 gun-


Mr. Sheridan.




330
MIL PITr8


[Ma Reif 5.
vessels, we have now 37 ; we then had 101 cutters, we have
now 52. It is conceived to be a fatal objection to these smaller
vessels, that they will engage those men who would be more
usefully employed to supply the crews of the regular navy. Does
it occur to the House how small a number these vessels require ?
How many that are free from the impress would gladly engage
in a service of this kind ? When the enemy approach, it is highly
probable we shall have some days' notice, for so vast a machine
cannot be put in motion without giving us full opportunity of
observation. This notice would give us ample means of supplya
ing this flotilla from a thousand sources. If ministers have not
•a sufficient number of seamen, they might have applied to parlia-
ment for more, and no hesitation would have occurred in a com-
pliance with their request.


It is said, much has been argued on this frivolous subject of
twenty-three gun-boats, and that it did not deserve notice, much
less to have been made a ground for the present application to the
House. The smallness of the quantity is the very ground of the
objection ; in all I have said I must have been wholly misunder-
stood, if gentlemen are not aware that the objection is stronger in
proportion to the insignificance and contemptibility of the affair to
which it is directed. All the motive of this discussion on my part
is to show that the exertions in the naval department arc inade-
quate. Great as may be my respect for Lord St. Vincent,
cannot be guilty of the hypocrisy to say, this department of the
service has been wisely conducted. I have a greater stake, even
than the reputation of the noble lord ; it is no less than the safety
and existence of the country, and the fulfilment of my duty at
this critical juncture, as a member of the British parliament.
What in nature can induce the admiralty, acknowledging as they
do the utility of this force, thus to circumscribe it? This con-
duct seems to be governed by some such motives as influenced
the aith Harry, when he would not have another hero to share in
the victory. Are they fearful of adding another gun-brig to par-
take the glory ? The building in merchants' yards, they say, is
subject to serious objections. As far as my experience can inform


1864.1 Pa'aRLI.AMENTAR'Y iREECHES
.


331


me, none of those that have been stated are capable of being
supported. Have we not the best mercantile marine in the world,
and is not that erected in these yards ? The ships of the East-
India company, which are as perfect and complete as any applied
to the purposes of navigation on any service whatever, are built.
in these yards. Why then are these extensive depots of private
property and public industry to be so mercilessly decried? The
honourable gentleman who was so severe in his censures on the
merchants' yards, was not less so in his remarks on the peculation
in His Majesty's yards, and these he introduced as a defence of
the noble lord : but he was not aware that he by this defeated
his own purpose, and tended to show that the navy could no
where be supplied ; for both in the private and public institu-
tions for its maintenance, there was such a system of nefarious
dealing, as to make them both equally unfit to be employed.


I admire the uncommon valour, I extol the vast renown, the
glorious achievements of Lord St. Vincent. To him we are highly
indebted for shedding extraordinary lustre on our national glory.


did. believe that when his lordship took upon himself the chrec7
don of our naval affairs, the public service would derive great
benefit from his patriotic exertions and professional skill. I did
believe that his name, in whatever naval capacity, was a tower of
strength ;---but I am apt to think that between his lordship as a
commander on the sea, and his lordship as first lord of the ad-
miralty, there is a very wide difference. It cannot, surely, be a
subject of surprise, that Lord St. Vincent should be less brilliant,
and less able in a civil capacity than in that of a warlike one.


Aid with all my lofty ideas of his character, as a brave and suc-
cessful naval commander, I shall not shrink from my duty in cen-
suring him when presiding at the board of the admiralty, if he
deserve it. I do not deny but that my motion for the production


Of the papers' imply blame on his lordship. I, therefore, candidly
avow, that I do not come forward on this occasion from a tender
regard to the character or conduct of his lordship, while at the
board of admiralty. I claim this right of censure as a member
of parliament, if I can make out good grounds for the enquiry ;




i32
[Anil". 23.


bill without I am allowed the official documents, I cannot prove
the validity . of my grounds, I cannot follow up-my enquiry. If
ministers choose to make this a question of confidence, they
cannot, they shall not, induce me to the surrender of the inesti-
mable privileges transmitted to every member of parliament by
his predecassors in the House. In bringing forward the subject
of this present discussion, I have no other motive than merely
to discharge my duty to my country, whose safety-, in- such a
crisis as the present, is the first object of my heart.


The House divided on the question :
Ayes
130


Noes 201


April 23. 1804.


Mr. Fox, in pursuance of the notice he had previously given, this day
moved, "That it he referred to a committee of the whole Home to
revise the several bills for the defence of the


country, and to consider of
such further measures as may be necessary to make that defence more
complete and permanent."


Mr. Par rose immediately after the Chancellor of the Exchequer :


I cannot agree, Sir, with the right honourable gentleman who
has just spoken, in the description- of the motion which is now
before the House. It is a motion, in my view of it, which is nei-
ther calculated to embrace opinions hostile to government nor to
any ministers whatever, nor to embrace opinions that may hay/
been entertained on small and minute points, and thereby pro-
duce a general concurrence against ministers, to criticise upon
their conduct, when such members might have buttmall and mi-
nute differences in their opinions as to the detail of a system to
which they generally assent ; but it is a motion calculated to em-
brace all those .


, who- consider that such a measure ought to be
adopted and substituted for that which they consider to be inade-
quate for our defence, and to call the attention of those who are


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 353


disposed to take a grave and radical review of our public affairs ;
a review of all the resources which government have brought for-
ward ; who think that no part of our defence is adequate to what
we ought to expect, — all those who are convinced by experience,


that, after twelve months have been given to these gentlemen to
exhaust all the resources of their minds, and to amend and im-
prove their plans from the suggestions of others, nothing satis-
factory has been accomplishe d, — all those who are convinced
upon mature reflection, that from the present ministers, or under
them, nothing is likely to originate to give to this country any
fair chance of having what is due to its own zeal and its own
exertion, at the most important and the. most critical period that


ever existed in . its history ; and I confess I am one of those who.
look at this subject in that point of view, and I am inclined to
support. this motion on almost all the grounds which the honour-
able gentleman urged who moved it. I feel it my duty to my
sovereign and to my country to do so, not only on all the reasons
which that honourable gentleman has urged in support of it, but
also _for many which he omitted t7c, state, and which I shah.


slightly touch upon.
But the right honourable gentleman who spoke last, with all.


his recollection of the records of parliament, and with' all the
force of his imagination, which he indulged to supply his recol-
lection, has only proved, that he luiew of no motion like the pre-
sent ; and also by the same authority, which is himself, that when
circumstances are extraordinary, the measures to provide - for
them are likewise extraordinary ;. and I think we may add, that
whatever extraordinary measures may be adopted, the present
crisis which requires them is also extraordinary. And this the,
right honourable gentleman appears.to be surprised at ; as if it •


were. extraordinary to propose a committee of this House, to con,


Sider of the means for providing for the defence of the country ;
as if it were extraordinary, that after twelve months of war, pre-
ceded. by a peace which, by the confession of ministers themselves,
was a mere notice of that war, and a war in which they .themselves
have been exhausted in their skill, (and yet in the . course of the


MR..PITT'S




334 MR. PITT'S
LApate 23. ,


Last twelva eloeths, they have brought forward nothing in which
there has not been a variety of contradiction in the plans,
repugnancies in the measures, and imbecility in the execution,—
nothing in which every step has not been marked by unnecessary
delay ; and at last the measures adopted amounting almost to a
retraction of the principle upon which it was founded;)—I should
say it is extraordinary indeed, if, after having Sixth and so many
melancholy proofs that ministers themselves, after repeated trials,
have proved what is to be expected from then, by what they
have produced, this House did not enquire into this important
subject, in the hope of being able to devise scnie better meafts
for the defence of the country than any which they have brought
forward for that purpose ; a course in which if they are permitted
to go on, there can be no hope of safety to this country. such
has been the mode in which they have managed the important
charge of defending the country ! I feel that I am compelled to
Make this strong and explicit declaration of my sentiments. I do
consider the measure for the increase of the regular army as a
measure for which ministers are unable to provide; for it is only
a few nights ago, since we had the confession of ministers them-
selves, that the necessity was so great for the making of a provi-
sion for this purpose, that the measures they themselves had fot-
znerly brought forward they would consent to abandon, if by
any other measure the increase of the regular army could be
produced.


I do not mean to say any thing of the propriety of the mea-
sure proposed upon the subject of ail armed peasantry, nor of
substituting an armed peasantry for the volunteers, which the
right honourable gentleman who spoke last at one timeAvas.
about to state,. as being the idea of the honourable gentleman
who has brought forward this motion ; but he set himself right
afterwards, and admitted of a difference, not a very slight one,
that of adding an armed peasantry to the volunteers, instead
of substituting them for the volunteers. And if there are per-
sons who think, that, in point of substance; the volunteers are
more essential for the actaal and efficient service of the etiuntry


1301.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 33:5


than the armed peasantry, as certainly there are great numbers
that would be for altering the quality of our mode of defence,
then they may assent to having the aid of the peasantry, but
not in the way in which it was stated by the right honourable
gentleman : and as to the volunteers, we have a full right to
avail ourselves of the full benefit of that force — a force which
has often been, and justly is, a favourite with this House and
the public a force, which, whatever it may have been in its
origin, has now the advantage of being formed, and of being
in a great state of efficiency as a force, though none of its effici-
ency has been owing to ministers. Often it has produced among
us sonic difference of opinion, as to the precise extent to which
you should carry it, and as to the circumstances under which
you should render it most effectual ; but it is a force which all
of us allowed to be an extremely valuable force. And now
that there is hardly any difference between the honourable gen-
tleman who made this motion, and His Majesty's government,
on the subject of the armed peasantry, he says it may he a
proper thing if ministers and parliament shall think it right.
So the right honourable gentleman has gone the length of admit-
ting the measure may be right, if lie shall hereafter think so. I say,
I think it clearly right that you should institute an enquiry whe-
ther it is right or not. Have we not been told by ministers for
these six months past, that the invasion might take place, per-
haps within 24 hours? Is it a time to procrastinate any wise
measures, any efficient plans of defence, at a time when we see that
the enemy have surmounted many of those preliminary difficul-
ties-which some months ago were deemed invincible ? Have
not the enemy supplied those means of conveyance which it
was at first thought must render all their threats vain and fit-
tile ? Have they not, in the face of that navy which ministers:
so confidently boast has been carried to its utmost strength, and
has been distributed with the most perfect judgment—have they-
not, within sight of our shores, and in.defiance . of our obstruc-
tion, assembled in one port between 13 and 1400 vessels, ca
pable of conveying from 50 to 100 and 150 men each ? Have





336
MR. PIT!" S


[Apart. 23.
they not proved that all our reasonings about the impossibility
of sailing from one port, the difficulty of a concerted attack,
the obstacle of winds and tides, were unfounded, and that the
contempt we entertained for their pre parations and for their
menaces was ill-founded and unwarranted ? With such facts
before us, ought we to suspend or delay any means that can
contribute to our safety ? We ought not to treat with contempt,
or with a false security pronounce impracticable, the projects
of a bold, enterprising, and desperate, though often fortunate
enemy, and one, too, that never stood in the way of good'
fortune by a dread of bad. If then an armed peasantry is cal-
culated to be of any utility in Essex, Kent, or Sussex, in oppos-
ing an enemy, and retarding their progress to the metropolis,
it is fit that no time should be lost in devising a plan for obtain-
ing this additional aid.


The honourable gentleman next contends, that the motion is
unconstitutional; but what is there unconstitutional in referring
to the consideration of a committee of the Whole House, which
I understand to be the object of the motion, [Mr. Fox nodded
assent,] certain acts passed by the legislature, so that they may
be modified, altered, and improved ? Is the honourable gen-
tleman, who so long filled that chair, with so much credit to
himself and advantage to the House, so little acquainted with
parliamentary usages, as not to know, that in a committee of the
whole House alone several proceedings can regularly originate?
Matters of religion, grievance, trade, finance, &c. must first
be discussed in a committee of the whole House. If, then,
cie estions on those subjects must originate in a committee, can
there be any scruple to refer to a similar committee measu,
the object of which is to defend every thing that'is dear and
valuable to a state, the religion which exalts, the commerce
which enriches, the laws which regulate and protect ? Is there
anv . thing extraordinary, any thing dangerous, then, in the pre-..
sent motion ? Will it be said that the system . of defence is so
good that there i$ nothing to be added to it? . Is the experience
of it. in its fruit:: arid effect, such as to encourage us to rely with


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 337


lim8:4•Ii.cjit confidence in the energy and resources of ministers?
What measures have they ever adopted that have not been


t
hwarted by some other of their measures? What efficient plan


has been proposed for the recruiting of the regular army? Can
we indulge the vain and chimerical hope, that without any new


regulations as to the period of service, such as those proposed.
by the right honourable gentleman, recruits will be obtained for
eight guineas, when they can hardly be procured for forty and
fifty pounds? Is it upon the wisdom, the vigilance, and the
energy of these ministers that we can rely, when we have seen
that no one measure for the public defence can they be truly
said to have originated, when several they have retarded or
enfeebled? I am satisfied that some plan for the permanent re-
cruiting of the army ought to be settled, and that we ought
with all dispatch to proceed to that important subject.


But, neglecting the regular army, have ministers improved
and perfected that system of the volunteers in which they have
spent so much time? I venture to affirm, that the volunteer
system is still far from that state of perfection to which it might
be carried. The army of reserve, instead of being suspended,
should be modified. In regard to fortifications, too, in which,
hitherto, ,so little has been done, I will venture to state, that
due precautions in that department have been much neglected,
and that many things have been omitted to be done, which, in
case of invasion, would tend both to save the lives of men, and


to check the progress of an invader. From all
, that I have


heard, too, on the subject of the navy, and in spite of that
-magnificent catalogue of ships which ministers have produced,
and which I shall not at present dissect, I must repeat, that
the conduct of that branch of our defence has not been suck
as the public had , a right to expect; and upon this subject I
may take an opportunity to state circumstances that will
astonish the House and the country. These, and many other
considerations, form the most conclusive argument in favour of
the motion; and though the right honourable gentleman who
made it, did not. dilate on these topics, he naturally expected,


OL. 111.




558
l).1 PITI"8 [Apart. 23,


and stated his expectation, that they would be taken up
other speakers in the course of the debate. It is true that
ministers on this, as on former occasions, have given us a pom-
pous enumeration of the force of the country. I have heard
that statement with pride. It affords the most consolatory evi-
dence of what the country is capable of doing. But I and other
members of this House have at least as good a right to exult
that survey of our strength, as ministers. We have not been
wanting in our exertions to contribute to call forth the spirit of
the country, and to organise its strength. That spirit and
exertion, however, belong to the country, and are not to be
ascribed to the direction or the energy of the government. In-
deed, if there be any who ought peculiarly to separate that
pride from any feeling of personal merit, it is the present
ministers, who have had so little share in the national energy.
No one measure can they claim as their own ; no one measure
have they improved and perfected: very many they have weak-
ened by their delays, and destroyed by their incongruities. What-
ever then the spirit and zeal of a free and brave people may
have been, under the sense of danger, ought fairly to be se-
parated, from the tardiness, languor, and imbecility of ministers
in every thing of which they have assumed the direction:


Ministers boast of what. others have suggested, or voluntary
public zeal has effected, as if what was done was perfectly ade-
quate to our security. But is it enough to have provided against
the danger of a final conquest? Enough has not been done uu-
less we have adopted every practicable and rational means of
checking the enemy, should, they invade our shores, with theleast
sacrifice of life, with the least waste of the public resources, with
a rapidity that will disappoint the enemy's projects of deev'enstae
tion. Enough has not been done, unless every thing has been
provided, by which, in the shortest space, we may be enabled to
defeat the enemy with such signal overthrow and destruction, as
will for ever deter them from a repetition of the attack, and for
ever relieve the country from the


.alarm and anxiety of invasion.
I do not _mean to say that thesenemywould, according to all


801.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.
S9f3


I .


human calculation, succeed in their designs; even had we no other


means of defence but those which now exist; but have we reason
to believe that our strength is yet arrayed in the best manner,
that our forces are distributed at the proper points, so as to act
with the most decisive effect? Unless this be done (as I fear
iris not), it is not enough to say - that we have 184,000 regulars
and militia, and 400,000 volunteers ; and, indeed, when it is
proved by their own statements, that the resources of the coun-
try are so great, it forms art additional ground of censure against
ministers, if our system of defence be not adequate to every


demand.
As to the observations which have been made upon the amount


of force Which should have been kept up during the peace, and
the proportion which existed at the renewal of the war, whatever
I may think with respect to the opinion held by the honourable
gentleman who opened the debate upon a former occasion, I can-
not, without surprise, hear from the right honourable gentleman
who has just sat <.-own, that he conceived the force which was
maintained during the peace as amply sufficient to meet any
probable emergency ; for that right honourable gentleman was
in possession of much knowledge of the disposition of the enemy,
which must have satisfied his mind of the propriety of making
more extensive preparations for a state of hostility. That know-
ledge the right honourable gentleman to be sure studiously con-
cealed from parliament, and therefore the honourable gentleman
upon the opposite bench was, with many others, incompetent to
form any opinion of the impending danger ; but not so His


----Majesty's ministers, who had yet neglected to provide against it.
They who, by a manifesto, since published to the world, explain-
ed that there were grounds, almost from immediately after the
conclusion of the peace, to complain of the conduct and to sus-
pect the intentions of Buonaparte, had yet omitted to devise
measures to counteract his designs, and to put the country in a
-state fitted for the description of hostility to be apprehended. In
this.state the country is not, in point of fact, even now placed;
and this forme one of my reasons for concurring in the motion


z




340 MR. PITT'S
[Apnrr. 23.


before tiie House, because as they who thought the peace not
likely to continue, did not prepare for war, and who, since the
war has commenced, have not preserved that course of vigorous
exertion which the situation of the empire called for, they are
not those in whom I would confide for the establishment of our
.security. Ministers foresaw the war, and yet they did not at-
tempt to ballot for the militia, as they should have done during
the peace. They should have availed themselves of that period,
when they must, according to their own confessions, since so
repeatedly made, have contemplated war as something more
than probable, and set every means in motion of defending the
country against invasion.


The observations they were enabled to make, at the close of
the last war, of the plans and purpose of Buonaparte, were suffi-
cient to assure them that his first notion was an invasion of this
country, which the short period that elapsed between the establish-
ment of peace upon the continent, and the conclusion of the treaty
of Amiens, did not qualify him to attempt; but the progress of
his then preparation served to show that his resolution was not
to make desultory attacks upon us, but to do that which he has
since accomplished, viz. to collect a large force upon some part
of the coast most convenient for the purpose of making a descent
upon this country. What, then, are we to think of those minis-
ters who, with such an opportunity of observation, overlooked
renewing the ballot for that important part of our force, the
militia, during peace? And how did they act towards the volun-
teers, on whose gallantry they now profess so much to rely ?
The House must have in recollection the letters which ministers
addressed to that body of men during the peace, which letters
were so much calculated rather to damp than to animate and
encourage the zeal of those corps. But this was not all; for, un-
der circumstances peculiarly auspicious for the purpose, and with
the prospects before them I have already mentioned, they re--
fused to attend to a plan suggested to them for providing a cer-
tain resource for the recruiting and supply of our regular army.
This plan was founded upon the same principle as that of the


804.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


•341


army of reserve, with the addition of that which I took occasion
lately to lay before the House, and which, if adopted when my
opinion was first urged to ministers, would have furnished the
means of adding to our army, with all possible expedition, net
less than 40 or 50,000 men. This plan has, I admit, been since
adopted in part, and I shall certainly feel it my duty to urge the
adoption of the whole of it again and again. The committee
proposed by the motion, I conceive to be the most convenient
place for entering into the detail of this, and other measures for
the public defence, to no branch of which, I perceive with regret,
have ministers attended in due time, and to the execution of


none,
of which do they appear to be adequate. Passing by all


the omissions I complain of during the period of peace ; drawing
a veil over their conduct on that occasion altogether ; and sup-
posing the war recommence d as much to tile surprise of minis-
ters, as to that of many persons in this House and the country ;
supposing that they were not at all prepared to expect it, let us
only look at their proceeding s since that event, and let us exa-
mine how far their measures have been so contrived or executed


as
to justify a hope, much less an opinion, of safety to be


derived from their exertion.
The first part of their plan of defence, and that to which they


seemed principally to look, related to volunteers. This topic
has, I am aware, been already very fully discussed, and on that
account overlooked by the honourable mover of the proposition
before the House ; but upon this point I would wish to ask of mi-
nisters, whether they foresaw, or had even a remote idea, at the
cogtmencement of hostilities, that this description of our force
would have extended so far ? whether they contemplated that
it ever should be so numerous ? It was known by those who had
any knowledge of their sentiments, who had any conversation with
ministers, that they had no such intentions, and that, on the con-
trary, they expressed their disapprobatio n of the policy of their
predecessors, in allowing the volunteer system to enlarge so much.
This fact I allude to merely to show that they are entitled to no
praise for the multiplication of the volunteers ; and to state that


z3




312 ME. PITT'S [APRIL 23.
the spirit which produced the increase of that body, arose out of
the discussions of this House—a spirit which, as ministers them-
selves, admitted, far o.utvies their calculation or hopes, and also,
as it seemed, exceeded their power of direction, for they after-
wards thought proper to check and restrain it.—So much as to
the origin of the volunteer system. But how did ministers pro-
ceed to carry that system into execution ? Why, without going
much at length into this part, of the subject, which I do not
mean at present, I will merely remark on the case of exemp-
tions, which have been much and very justly- objected to. The
propriety of granting these exemptions I never could see : cer-
tain it. is, that they were never necessary ; for the volunteers, for
the most part, required no such thing in the shape of encou-
ragement to offer their services, and many of them were not at
all aware, when they -did engage, that any exemptions were to
he granted ; on the contrary, it is notorious that they were in
several districts actually subscribing a certain sum each to pur-
chase substitutes for any of their body which might be ballotted
for the militia.


Such was the state of the volunteers when the act of parliament
was passed, with the strong recommendation of ministers, for
allowing exemptions, clogged, however, with such conditions,
that the measure was not to be well understood. In another part
of this act of ministers, there was something still less intelligible
with respect to a volunteer's right of resignation, upon which


.


ministers had evinced the most complete want of penetration
and foresight. Had they judged wisely, they never would have
attempted to dispute this right, for, paradoxical as it may seem,
nothing tends more to preserve discipline among those corps, than
the undisputed exercise of this right ; and the reason is -this, th,p,t
while a volunteer has the right of leaving a corps, he cannot
object to any regulation that may be deemed necessary by a com-
manding officer for the promotion of order and discipline in
such corps, the private having his choice to submit or resign.
But as to the act of ministers, the attorney-general, for whose
judgment and learning I entertain the most unfeigned respect,


1S01.] P ARMAMENT ARY SPEECHES.


34


interpreted the law upon resignations in one way, and the court. of
king's bench in another. Ministers, in this contradiction, thought
proper to circulate the opinion of the former as that to be acted.
upon by the volunteers, although they have since avowed that
they did not agree with that opinion, and that they intended to
introduce a declaratory law upon the subject. This I must class
among the most unaccountable proceedings of ministers.


As to the volunteer system generally, according to its present
constitution, it appears to me to have several radical errors, and


principal ly as to the made in which the volunteers are distri*-
buted over the face of the country. When they were forming,
and particularly when it was determined to limit their numbers,
regard should have been had to the proportion proper to be
assigned to each district. With that view it would have been
right to consider the difference between the inland and maritime
counties, which were the more probable points of attack, and
which it was the most important to preserve. Our great naval
arsenals, and those places which are most contiguous to our
principal manufactories, ought of course to be the first objects
of government in settling the relative proportion of volunteers


-which the several districts should be allowed to furnish—allow-
ed, I call it, for it was at the discretion of government to accept
the services of many corps which they rejected, and generally
without any reference to the consideration of local defence
which I have mentioned. When they thought ,proper to
limit the volunteers to six times the number of the militia, and
for what reason I cannot divine, they put Staffordshire and


_ Perbyshire quite on a par with the maritime counties. No
distinction was made in favour of those districts which lie most


e,convenient to the enemy's coast, and which are most likely
to be the first points of attack. Can any man say that there
was any thing like policy in such an arrangement, or that
indeed there is to be found in any part of the structure or exe-
cution of the volunteer system, so . far as ministers are con_
corned, that which can deserve the character of discretion, or
'die approval of a statesman ? There was, in fact, no part of


z




-or


043 MR. PITT'S [Areau, 23.
the conduct pursued by government towards the volunteers,
which did not form some ground for complaint, which did not
offer some evidence of wavering and inconsistency.


The House has witnessed the part they took at the close of the
last session, when an honourable gentleman * on the other side
undertook to panegyrise the zeal and gallantry of the volunteers.
When that honourable gentleman, two days before the session
closed, thought proper, and, in the opinion of many intelli-
gent respectable members, very prematurely, to move a vote
of thanks to the volunteers, he stated that such vote was not
only a just acknowledgement for the patriotism which they
who were then embodied had manifested, but that it would ope-
rate to encourage further voluntary offers of service. Ministers
applauded warmly the motion of the..honourable gentleman;
but how did they after


,ards act ? The honourable gentleman
moved at the same time, that there-should be laid before the
House, at its meeting after the recess, a list of such new corps
as should volunteer ; but there was another list which the ho-
nourable gentleman neglected to move for, namely, of all the
corps which should be reduced or rejected in the same interval.
Had the honourable gentleman done so, he would have seen
what use had been made of his motion ; for the first step taken by
ministers almost immediately after its adoption was, to suspend
the progress of that voluntary zeal which the honourable gentle-
man, in common with every man who valued the character and
safety of the country, so much admired. Ministers determined
at once that the volunteers should not be increased any farther,
but that, on the contrary, their numbers should he 'diminished.
The notice of this determination was speedily circulated among
the volunteers, accompained by the honourable gentleman


3
vote of thanks. Thus the volunteers were complimented for
that which government at the same time told them they did not
wish for, they would not accept. There is a word in French,
renzercier, which literally implies returning thanks for proffered
services, which it is not intended to accept ; and this word has


:kir. Sheridan.


ISO4.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 34.5


close analogy to the conduct of ministers in the communication
of the motion of thanks, which they agreed in, in company with
the strange resolution which I have already mentioned.


In regard to the enrolment of volunteer corps, as far as such
enrolment is connected with the provisions of the defence act.
I must again repeat the complaint I have often made, of the
total omission of government to execute the powers vested in it
by that act ; and any difficulties that have arisen in the pro-
gress of the ballot, I do conceive to be attributable to the non-
exercise of the power I have referred to. As to the refusal of
adequate pecuniary and military aid to the volunteers, I must
observe, that it is amongst the most culpable and inconsistent
part of the conduct of ministers. Without going minutely into


the consequences , of such conduct, which it would be more con-
venient to detail in the proposed committee, I have only at present
to remark, that whatever difference of opinion may exist between
my honourable friend* on the lower bench and me, with respect
to the volunteers, and the practicability of rendering them perfect'
in military discipline, there can be no difference between us as to
this point, that they ought to be furnished with the best instruction
that is attainable, and both he and I have a right to complain of
ministers in not following up their own principle, by giving the
necessary aid to promote the improvement of the volunteers. My
honourable friend has always maintained, that the volunteers
cannot be rendered equal to, or fit to act with regular troops ; but
ministers have uniformly resisted this opinion. Why, then, have
they not provided adequately for the execution of their own
ideas ? No ; they have only allowed pay for twenty days in a
-ear, although, in the opinion of all military men, no new-raised


regiment of the regular army, with all the advantages of subordi-
nation, martial law, &c. could be disciplined fit for service in less
than six weeks or two months. Will any man say, that so short
a period should be deemed sufficient for the discipline of the vo-
lunteers ? But I shall be told, probably, that it was expected
the volunteers would, independently of the twenty days, attend


'fr Mr. Windham.




MR: PITT'S
-
EAPrtrn 23.,


to drill on every Sunday. If they were, still should I maintain
that, Sundays included, the time was not sufficient to instruct
them, and should not be,relied on in the existing circumstances
of the country, when we are daily menaced with invasion—that
invasion which ministers have been perpetually telling us was.
daily to be expected since the middle of last summer. Notwith-
standing this apprehension, such has been the behaviour of mi-
nisters, that I much fear, if the enemy should not attack us until.
even the middle of next summer, he would find the volunteers
very imperfectly disciplined.


I cannot help expressing' my surprisle that ministers could have
ever seriously calculated upon the probability that the labouring
classes, of whom so many of the volunteers consist, would be so
prompt to devote the only day they have for recreation and
repose to the study of military discipline. It certainly did not
betray any policy or consideration so to calculate ; but even sup-
posing they were so to assemble, and also to attend the twenty
days, how were "they to attain the instruction desired from the
present mode, and from that which has prevailed uniformly ? I
suggested to ministers a plan of instruction, which I was told
should be considered ; but as they have never yet acted upon it,
nor appear at all to consider it, their promise of consideration
upon this, as well as upon other points, reminds me of a practice
in the legislative assembly of a neighbouring nation (the United
States of Holland), in which, when it was determined to get rid
of a question, the resolution was ad referendum, which meant to
take no more notice of it. The nature of the project I thought it
my duty to recommend to ministers, related particularly to that
which I have often mentioned in this House. For the advance-
ment of the discipline of the volunteers, I urged the necessity of"
appointing adjutants to a certain number of men. This has been
in part acceded to, but in what manner ? An adjutant is a.p-
pointed to such corps only as amount to 400 men, and to them
only in case they exercise eighty days in the year, although the
men are allowed pay but for twenty days. Where, I would put
it to the common sense of any man, can be found a stronger in-


PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 3471801.]
stance of weakness and inconsistency than this order furnishes?
No provision is :nade for the pay of the adjutant, unless the
corps exercise eighty days, for one-fourth of which only the men
are made any allowance. Is not this alone enough to expose the
mind of ministers—to show their disacquaintance with the means
of executing their own purposes ? Indeed, I am perfectly con-
vinced of their want of vigour ; every circumstance serves to
show it ; and I have therefore the strongest conviction upon my
mind, that they are incapable of acting upon any thing like
system, of adopting or executing any well-digested or energetic
plan for the defence of the country. I do not of course place.
any hope on their exertions, and there-fore concur in the pro-i
priety pf the proposed committee, where every question con-
nected with our security may be fully investigated.


One reason, I recollect, for so tardily adopting the plan for
the appointment of adjutants, was the difficulty of procuring
officers from the line to fill those stations. I recommended that
serjeant-majors should be chosen ; but to this I was told, that
serjeant-majors could not be persuaded to give up their situa-
tions for such adjutancies, unless they were allowed half-pay.
I saw no good reason for declining to make this allowance, and
I therefore advised it in December last. I was promised that
the subject would be taken into consideration. I afterwards-
applied, in March, to know the result of the consideration, but
I was• told that no decision was made ; and I understand it is
undecided still, while the discipline of the volunteers does and
has for months back so imperatively called for an immediate de-
cision respecting it, although this was one of the defects in the
volunteer system, which government promised to cure.


When, before last Christmas, an application was made to mi-
nisters with regard to the confusion which prevailed among the
volunteers, the gentlemen who applied were desired to wait
until after the Christmas recess, when a digested plan would be
brought. forward by ministers, which. should remove and pre-
vent the recurrence of the evils complained of, and communicate
to the volunteer system all the perfection of which it was sus-




4'


318 MR. PITT'S
[APRIL 23.


ceptible. This digested plan has been laid before the House,
and at length made its way, after various alterations, through
it. Those alterations were added in the House of Lords ; and
now that it is returned to us, there is scarcely one -feature re-
maining of the original measure, of the well-digested plan of
ministers. The suggestions made to them by others they re-
luctantly adopted, and the object of those suggestions they in
some instances have almost defeated, as in the case of inviting
the volunteers to permanent duty, and applying the guineapro7
posed to be given them as bounty, which is to be distributed
in such a way as to hold out no inducement to the men, or
benefit to their families.


Ministers have been equally injudicious in every other project
of defence, from the army of reserve, to the enrolment of classes
under the general defence act ;—an act which I had the honour
of a large share in suggesting, and I lament much that ministers
did not adopt it at a more early period ; but the fact is, that so
Far from ministers having spontaneously taken any vigorous pro-
ceeding for the defence of the country since the commencement
of the war, I state broadly, that no part of the measures for
the increase of our military establishment has originated with
them. If the right honourable gentleman means to deny my
assertion, I shall appeal to the recollection of the House, whether
in June last, when the army-estimates were under discussion, I
did not ask the right honourable secretary at war 4', after he had.
finished his statement—I did not ask if what he had mentioned
comprehended all the provision that ministers meant to make
for the defence of the country ? To this I was answered in the
affirmative, and I accordingly gave notice of my intentiodto
submit a measure founded on the same principle with that of
the army of reserve. Any benefit that may have resulted from
that measure is not, I assert, attributable to ministers, who
were quite at a loss what course to take—who knew not, in
fact, what measures were applicable to the dangers of the
country.


* Mr. Brugge.


1804.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 349


I will not dwell on the execution of the army of reserve act,
as I shall go into that subject very fully on Wednesday next,
and if I should not then have the good fortune of persuading the
House to accede to the proposition which I would wish to have
ingrafted on the many of reserve bill, in order to provide a con-
stant and regular supply of recruits for our regular army, I shall
feel an advantage -in the existence of such a committee as the
motion before the House proposes to establish, as I may thus
have an opportunity of again pressing the project upon the con-
sideration of the House ; — a project which, if I am able to de-
monstrate its practicability for great objects in view, I am sure
that every man will feel to be desirable, and all will be ready to
give it their concurrence. If 1 can show that even a . small in-
crease can be derived from this project to our regular army, it is
impossible to doubt that any member will refuse it his support
The mode proposed by ministers to raise any addition to the re-
gular army, to supply the suspension of the army of reserve, I
confess I cannot understand: They have not stated any induce-
ment to men to enlist beyond eight guineas bounty, and how
they can procure them for such a sum, while thirty guineas and
more are given for militia substitutes, it is difficult to imagine,
unless the intention be that which no one has yet avowed,
because all have been unanimous in condemning the practice,
viz> that of raising men for rank.


It may be said that this practice has prevailed when I was in
power : but then the experience of that practice afforded.a com-
plete warning against it. I am quite ready to declare, that I am


st.ry for the share I had in that measure, and experience con-
vinces me, that:it ought never again to be resorted to. Other
gentlemen have appeared, and .professed to be equally adverse
to that measure, and their minds must be of a strange character
if what they have observed is not sufficient to dissuade them
from it. Nothing can be more absurd. than to suppose, that if
they persist in the old and scandalous practice of. crimping, all
its attendant frauds and impositions will not return ;. and it is
equallyabsurd to fancy that only eight guineas bounty will be


.n •




f:1!",0 MR. PITT'S
[Aanit. 180.4.] PARLIAMENTARY SPIX,CHES. 2.51


given. Why not let the army of reserve go on along with this
new plan, whatever it may be? rf officers are to run a race
together for rank, as I understand they are, (for although the in-
tention is not avowed in this House by ministers, applications
ate known to be made to and by several officers,) why- take away
the competition of the army of reserve ? I cannot conceive any
thing more irrational. When a new mode of raising recruits
for the regular army is proposed, it naturally brings to my mind
an opinion which is much disputed, and upon which, because
it is so disputed by some great military authorities, I cannot pre-
aurae to pronounce a decided sentiment, I mean the propriety
of raising men for limited service ; although I certainly should I
think it the more eligible policy, and best calculated to render
the army respectable and efficient. However, military objec-
tions as to the difficulty, if such a system existed, of supplying
our foreign stations, must be overcome before the system be
attempted.


As to the plan for bringing the Irish militia over here, I do
not approve of it under existing circumstances. No argument
can be drawn in favour .of such a plan at present, from a pre-
eedent which occurred in quite a different .


situation of things.
With respect to the interchange of the militias of the two
.countries, there are many physical objections to it that would
render it a measure very disagreeable to the officers connected,.
With both militias : and here I must notice a. rumour which has
-gone abroad; that applications have been lately made to the
privates of the West Kent militia without the knowledge of their
-officers, to volunteer their services for Ireland: this practice
deserves to; be . strongly reprobated. What, to try to preisil
on men to quit their own coast, within half a day's sail of -the
enemy, to proceed to the distance of Ireland?


The honourable mover of the proposition under debate hat --
alluded, • in the course of his speech, to the power which, in my
opinion, belongs to the crown, to call out the population of the
country in the event of an invasion as expressed in the preamble
to the general defence act. IperceiVe that the honourablesgen-


tleman's sentiment differs from mine. I do not Mean to discuss
this subject at present ; but I must observe, that nothing appears
clearer to me than this proposition,—that the state has a right
to call on the people to defend it, and that in the crown, being
the depositary of the power of the state, is vested the right of
so calling out the people upon a great emergency. This right
think I. could show from a series of precedents., to be recognised
by the constitution and custom of this country; that it is a right
inherent in the crown to exercise this power, according to the
necessity of such case as may arise, and to be limited by that
necessity. The crown, it must be admitted, possesses the power
of putting any district of the kingdom ender martial. law, in case
of invasion ; subject, however, to that responsibility to which
ministers would be liable for the abuse of any such power.


Upon the respective interchange of the services of the two
militias of England . and Ireland,, I think, considering the peculiar
principles on which they are, officered, it would put the landed
gentlemen of both countries to great andiunexpeeteclinconyeni-
eace ; and therefore would operate iftiuti,ously on that constitu-
tional establishment. If,; however, shis,in.terchange. csf . service
is right at all, it must be on genexaj. .inciples, or on
particular and pressing utagen,cytet,haafowpersedes all regulareespa-
blishment, such as aliessefaegRAe>situla.tionufArelati4orhen,i du-
ring the former administratipin riglishamilitia 'volunteered
their services to that countkesinjf stheo present ministers doeiswit
advance any general prineipleetoe justify the, measure, (and.w-
tainly no idea of urgency presents itaelf on eithq.side of the water.;
that there is no necessity, is obvious, fro


m
m,the very argutuents,91


ministers, for they say, " do, not be, afraid to,lcotpvi0F, nss osj.P
subject, as it is not our intention to. carry it into.eysenutioutrit
partial and discretionary measure,lit must courmbe. unjuotj,
fiable and wrong. Oa general principles they have no atteraptefl
to defend it. This last measure of His lYfajeAys,s.ratnisters show:
dearly that the regular army isonot yet:adequate to the necqs,ity
of the state, and implies that raeana should, be taken to .Morea.se
it. The method of so d.oiee tray i3 ,; subject to some variety of




552 MR. PITT'S
[APRIL 23.


opinion ; perhaps I may not see it exactly in the same light as
the honourable gentleman*, yet I do not perceive any material
practical difference between us. The general principal and out-
line of our national defence appears to me good, regarding as it
does the regulars, army of reserve, militia, and volunteers.
Were they less defensible in principle than they are, I should
consider them as existing establishments, in the present moment,
more agreeable to confirm and improve, than abolish and sub-
stitute by new.


Thus I declare my opinion on this subject, without at this time
entering into a more particular defence of it.„ With respect to the
power of the crown to call on every subject under its dominion
in case of absolute need, this, I take, under some form or other,
to be incident to the very establishment of civil society, and, in
fact, whenever occasion required, has been exercised. The prin..
ciple is, however, limited by its necessity, which scarcely can
arise but when the state of things would authorise the crown of
itself to proclaim martial law ; and if the constitution should sur-
vive that urgent state of thing's; the counsellors of His Majesty
would, doubtless, be as amenable


-to constitutional responsibility
for that, as any other act of their adininiStration. As such is the
undoubted right and prerogative of the crown, I should think,
with a view to possible emergencies, 'that legislative provision
should, in the present juncture; a little anticipate the justifiable
necessity to which I have referred, at least so far as to put every
man in the maritime counties, likely to be the seat of the enemy's
attempt, under the immediate power of the crown, in case of
actual or imminent danger of invasion. In those counties most
likely to be the seat of war,- such as Kent, Essex, SusseA
fhtffolk, Devonshire, Cornwall, -andthe vicinity of Newcastle, .1
also think a greater proportion'-of volunteers should he allowed
than in others, at least so far as the convenience and voluntary
offers of individuals will allow. But I shall not stop here. I
must say, that our naval means are insufficient for our defence ;
and that there is a great deficiency of the means for keeping up


Vr. For..


1804.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 355


our navy. Into these points I shall enter minutely, upon some
future occasion. At present I shall only say, in vindication of
myself from all the obloquy thrown upon me by officers, brought
from distant stations to support the present system, that, as to
the specific force which I recommended, I did not recommend
barges, and lighters, and such sort of trash as they reproached
me with advising. I recommended good stout gun-brigs, and I
have had the pleasure of seeing great activity of late to increase
that very species of force. •


Another objection has been made to my system. I recom-
mended fortifications, and I have on this account been reproached
with an attempt to lessen the spirit of the country, and to involve
a great and unnecessary expense. What I recommended was,mot
a general system of fortification, but that, where there were great
districts possessing great local bulwarks, there a judicious mixture
of art and nature, which, at a small expense in money, might
spare many thousands of men, would be the best and wisest
policy. I know many places in which a few thousand pounds
expended, would give more security than as many thousand men
could afford. This is obvious to all military men, and the system
is beginning to be acted upon ; but at the same time it must be
admitted, that it was as obvious last summer as it is now. I do
not wish, by these observations, to interfere with the department.
to which this system may seem to belong. I believe, however,
that it does not rest with the department of the commander-in-
chief, or any other, but with the cabinet. I have discharged my
duty by delivering this my sincere and undisguised opinion. I
hope it is not hastily or inconsiderately entertained; but sure I
am that I should consider it treason to the best interests of my
country, if, such as it is, I did not openly declare it.


The motion was negatived;
Ayes 204
Noes 256


4'


vet,. Ht. , A A




MR. PITT'S
[Aram 25.


April 25. 1804.


Me. Secretary Yorke having moved the order of the day for the
House to ao into a Committee on the Bill for


.
the Suspension of the


Army of Reserve Act,
Mr. PrrT rose, and addressed the House as follows:


In rising, Sir, to oppose the motion for your leaving the chair,
it is not my wish to occupy the attention of the House longer than
appears to me absolutely necessary; and therefore I have no de-
sire to enlarge on topics connected with the general subject, which
have, in the course of late debates, undergone the most ample dis-
cussion. Before I proceed to the description of the plan of which
I. have given notice to the /louse on a former day, it is my wish to
say a few words on the nature and complexion of the bill which
it is the object of the right honourable gentleman's motion to bring.
under our consideration in a committee. As far as I am able to
understand it, the only effect of its adoption would be to relinquish
all chance of the benefit of that augmentation of our disposable
force, which, in the unanimous opinion of all persons in this
House, ought to. be the principal object of attention with His.
Majesty's government. It would be to relinquish all chance of
the continuance of future benefit, arising from a measure which,
though in many points of view impeded and retarded, has had.
the effect of procuring, within the space of twelve months, a more
Considerable augmentation of our regular force, than could. pep,
haps have been obtained in any other way, at the time and under
the circumstances in which the measure was carried intt) acti-
vity. It appears to me that all these chances of benefit are given
up, without substituting in their room any system by which the
great object of the augmentation of the regular army is to be.-
obtained.


If I understood the statement of the right honourable secretary
of state below me, there were three measures, by the adoption of
which His Majesty's ministers flattered themselves that they would


8


1804•.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. S55


be able to augment the regular disposable force of the country.
The first of these measures was, the acceptance of the voluntary
offers of a certain proportion of the Irish militia to extend their
services to this country. The second measure had in view the
augmentation of the militia of Ireland. The last of the measures,
directed to the great object in view, was the formation of a num-
ber of new regiments, to be raised independent of that competi-
tion which is at this moment admitted to be most fatal to the
speedy recruiting of the regular army. On these different mea-
sures proposed for the augmentation of our disposable force, it is
not now my intention to enlarge ; but I must be permitted to
observe, that in none of them does there seem to be any thing
which is at all calculated to be effectual in producing the com-
pletion of this object which, without exception, is admitted to be
of the last consequence in the present circumstances of the
empire. It is true that a certain proportion of the Irish militia
have volunteered their services to this country. In this offer it
is doubtful whether there is less of policy than of national ad-
vantage. Before the House can admit the policy of receiving
such offers, it becomes. necessary to look a little to the degree in
which the interchange of the services of the militia of both coun-
tries is to be conducted, and I may add, whether, in extraordi
nary circumstances, this interchange ought to be encouraged. It
cannot, in reason, be denied, that such an interchange must de-
pend on circumstances of special emergency ; and what I main-
tain is, that the acceptance of the voluntary offers of the militia
of Ireland, at this time, is not only productive of all the evils
arising from an undefined interchange of services, but can be at-
tended with none of the advantages arising from such a measure,
originating from well-considered views of national interest. On
the subject of the augmentation of the militia of Ireland, my
opinions are not by any means different. It will not be disputed
by His Majesty's ministers, that the offers of extended services
by a certain proportion of the militia of Ireland, depends for ac-
ceptance, in a great measure, on this subsequent measure. It is
allowed on all hands, that Ireland cannot lose such a proportion


A t





-Nr


• MR, PITT'S [.'een 25.
of • the means of its defence, without receiving something like an
adequate return. We must understand, that the augmentation
proposed is meant to form the return to which I have referred.
But will any gentleman in this house for a moment affirm, that a
mere resolution for the augmentation of the Irish militia will at
all compensate for the loss of a considerable proportion of troops,
allowed on all hands to be adequate to the defence of Ireland,
combined with the regular military force ? In fact, Sir, if mi-
nisters act consistently, the offers of the Irish militia cannot be
accepted, unless some return be made to Ireland. By the sys-
tem of augmenting the militia, this return cannot be expected
-for a considerable period, and therefore the one measure is not
only inconsistent with the other, but utterly inefficient for any
object of obtaining a greater disposable force.


No man will go beyond me in maintaining that the militia are
a constitutional, a respectable, and a most useful force, when
kept within proper limits, and applied to the specific object of
their formation. It must, however, be with every man a ques-
tion of peculiar jealousy,. to find the militia come in competition
with the regular army under any circumstances, but more pecu-
liarly under the circumstances in which the proposed measures
cif ministers necessarily placed that competition. They admit that
there is a necessity for the augmentation of the disposable force
of the country. They fix on Ireland as that part of the empire.
where that disposable force is to be more readily procured ; and
at the time they are holding this language, they are determined
that the militia of Ireland shall be, to a considerable degree, in-
creased. It must, Sir, appear singular, that when the deficiency
of the quota of the army of reserve to be furnished by Ireland is
materially deficient, it should be proposed to augmentehe mi-
litia;-_a species of force confessedly limited to services less
applicable to cur present circumstances. If new levies arc to be
made, why are these deficiencies in the army of reserve, or why-
arc not the new levies to have the precedency ? The mischief
of competition is allowed. The professed object of ministers is
to have a-disposable force ; yet, with these admissions, the militia


180•1.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 357


of Ireland, allowed on all hands to be limited in their terms
of service, are to counteract the new regular levies, for which, on
a former occasion, so much merit was claimed. It is admitted
that, by the measure of the army of reserve, we have obtained a
very considerable augmentation of our disposable force. In
Ireland it is proposed that the militia shall be augmented. On
what principle, then, is it that the operation of the reserve bill
is not suspended in that country ? [Here Mr. Yorke signified
that a bill Was brought in for suspending the act in Ireland.] —If
the law is to be preserved in force, on what principle is it, that
though .there arc now deficiencies in the army of reserve for Ire-
land, to the amount of 6 or 7,000 men, the augmentation of the
militia is to be preferred to this force ? Will it be pretended that
the augmentation of the militia will so materially contribute to
the object in view, as the augmentation of the army of reserve,
'from which constant supplies for the regular disposable force of
the country may be fairly and reasonably expected ? It is really
not easy to ascertain on what ground a force, though not gene-
-rally disposable in the first instance, yet not indisposed to general
service, should be lost sight of, while a species of force which, by
their constitution, is confined to limited service, should be pre-
ferred. Must the system which ministers have so much favoured,
as calculated to add to the disposable force of the country, be al-
together abandoned, because it may not have accomplished ail
that was expected from it in their sanguine expectations? I. really
cannot consider it in any other view than as a measure inimical
to that which ministers hold out to our observation. On the one
hand, if the militia of Ireland is augmented, the levies for the
regular army must, in a great measure, be suspended. On the
other hand, if the levies for the regular force are to be carried
forward, the proposition for augmenting the Irish militia is alto-
gether preposterous. The language of ministers is, that they want
to have men at a reduced bounty. But how is it that they carry
their object into practice ? They- do not pretend to deny, that
their first object is to have men for disposable•parposes ; and this
tile), hold forth as the object which ought to have the precedence


A 3


856




211


358 Mk. PITT'S
[Avail, 26,


of every other consideration. It is rather curious, however, to
look at the mode in which they reduce the plan to practice. They
wish recruits for the regulars in Ireland, and they are desirous of
having an augmentation of the militia in the same country. It is
in vain, Sir, to deny, that the competition in these cases is alto-
gether unequal, and that, where it is proposed to raise 10,000
additional militia in Ireland, the plan of raising a number of new
regiments is quite impracticable and impolitic.
• On every general principle, then, I do most heartily contend,
that the suspension of the army of reserve act is not at all called
for on principles of necessity, of policy, or of utility. In stating
this, I wish it to be fairly- understood, that my opinion is founded
on general principles. A great deal of argument will not be ne-
cessary to show that those who most zealously objected to the
army of reserve, ought not to agree to the motion now before the
House. If they objected to the act, in consequence of the high
bounties which it encouraged ; if they think that the principle of
the ballot, which it promoted, did not proceed on constitutional
principles ; if they are convinced that it did not proceed on con-
stitutional principles, then, Sir, they surely cannot give their as-
sent to the motion now submitted to our consideration. If the bill
is so much liable to censure ; if it is so little in consonance with
the opinions of these gentlemen, they cannot surely be satisfied
with the suspension of such a measure, which, according to their
own principles, ought to he totally repealed. This is a proposi-
tion which cannot be fairly denied; and therefore it is the less
necessary to enlarge on it. But, Sir, if the-system of the army
of reserve, as now existing, can be modified ; if a description of
persons not all likely to enter into the regular army, can be
brought into limited service ; if this temporary plan of reuniting
can be managed, so as to promote the great end in view, without
increasing either national inconvenience or private misery,Aere
will not, I am sure, exist a doubt that such a system ought to--
meet with every degree of support and encouragement. If such
a system can be brought forward, it must at least, Sir, be one
to which the


• House could not, consistently with their duty. refuse


1804.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECIIES. 259


their most serious consideration. Though, on the present oc-
casion, my object in rising was to explain the outlines of such
plan, I' o not so much flatter myself as to suppose that it will
be perfect; but it is not too much presumption to imagine that
it is a plan not altogether unworthy of the consideration of
parliament.


Before I go on very shortly to state to the I•louse the nature of
the plan, it may not be improper merely to advert to the grounds
,on which the suspension of the army of reserve act ought to be
eionsidered. The first question that presents itself is, whether the
reserve act ought to be suspended, or whether it might not be mo-
dified in such a manner as to render its application more advar-
eageous? The second question is, whether, if the idea of suspend-


the act is entertained, this is not too little ; and whether, if
tire idea of suspension is at all entertained, the act ought not to
he totally abolished? Conceiving ehese to be the twa great pre-
liminary views of the subject, I hope I shall meet with the indul-
gence of the House, while I state the outlines of a plan, the result
.of long and careful examination, the effect of digested and care-
ful comparison of the wants and. circumstances of the country.
Without going into any details on the subject, which I shall have
ample means of doing hereafter, it will be sufficient for me at pre-
sent to give an outline of the plan I propose- Allow me then.,
Sir, to introduce the subject generally, by observing that, under
the present circumstances of society, under the present extension
of comineree, under all the new openings offered to labour in all
its branches, it is not going too far to say that the-encouragements
to enter on a military life must be very materially diminished.
Looking, then, to the difficulties attendant on the recruiting of
the army ; looking to the difficulties of obtaining men for unli-
mited service, compared with service for a short period, and on
'their native soil, I must be allowed to assume it as a fair supposi-
tion, that a number of men would be induced to accept of offers
of limited service, who would not listen to any idea of military
service for life. With this view, then, it will not be denied, Sir,
that the services of those who are far from willing to enter iota


A A. 4.




360 MR. PITT'S
[Aaiun 2 5


the regular army, should be encouraged for that limited species
of service to which they are by no means disinclined. The House
will not suppose that I am going too tin' when I affirm, that such
a mode of recruiting for the regular army in a commercial coun-
try, is that most fully justified by the whole history of human
affairs. Every man knows that limited service must, in the first
instance, be preferred to service knowing no limitation of place or
time. But while this is allowed, it is not less clear, that if men
have once entered into the army for a limited period, military
habits are soon contracted, and those who, in the first instance,
would never have thought of indefinite military service, enter
into this enlarged engagement with the greatest possible alacrity.
The transition from limited to permanent military service is,
therefore, what every man, in the least acquainted in military
affairs, can anticipate without the smallest difficulty.


But, Sir, I would not even put the question on this ground.
Even independent of any legislative interference, independent of
the acceptance of any offers of those, who, originally engaging for
limited service, might afterwards enter into the regular army, the
House, I am sure, will agree with me in thinking, that there may
occur periods of patriotic ardour, when all idea of limited service
will be lost sight of; that the native courage and heroism of the
English character will display itself ; that Englishmen will look
not only alone to the safety, but to the honour, to the dignity, and
to the glory of their country. Under such circumstances as these,
it is not presuming too far to suppose, that voluntary offers of ex-
tension of service will be numerous. If, Sir, we can suppose that,
the national spirit of the people, even unassisted, will produce
these effects, how much more may its influence be expected to be
when it is supported, directed, and encouraged by judicious regu-
lations? On these principles, then, I object to the acceptance
of the offers of the Irish militia to extend their service to this
country, because the same object may be obtained without any
violation of constitutional principles. That the extension of the
services of the militia of both countries may be desirable under
an emergency of peculiar danger, no man can reasonably deny.


1804.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 361


But, however the zeal and the alacrity of those making the offer
may be commended, the policy of accepting must still be . a


ground of grave deliberation with those who pretend to guide
their public conduct by any principle of wisdom or of policy.
Before the services of the militia of Ireland can with propriety
be accepted, we have to ascertain whether, by this measure, the
general security of the whole empire is consulted. But, revert-
ing particularly to the augmentation of the Irish militia, as an
addition to the military force of the empire, I must be permit-
ted to make a few observations. The. idea of disparaging the
services or importance of the militia-establishment, is certainly
the farthest from my contemplation. At the same time, Sir, it
has been allowed by its most zealous friends, that, in many in-
stances, it has been carried to an extent inconsistent with,the
general circumstances of the country. With this idea, I do most
cordially agree, and beg leave, at the same time, to add, that in
my judgment the militia of England ought not to exceed 48,000.
If the number is carried beyond that, then there is a danger that
the number of officers fit to discipline the different corps will not
be sufficient for that purpose. The importance of regular re-
spectable officers no man will deny ; and if the augmentation goes
beyond the proportion of officers which can be afforded them,
unquestionably that augmentation is impolitic. My first view.
then, Sir, is, that the militia of England should, as soon as pos-
siblt, be reduced to 48,000. If we are to keep up a considerable
limited force, all the descriptions, of which it is composed, ought
to bear sonic proportion. The militia-establish ment of the coun-
try now amounts to about 72,000, and we ought to have had
40,000 of the army of reserve in Great Britain. What I would,
in the first instance, propose, would be„ that the militia 'Should
not exceed 48,000, and that from 40,000 the army of reserve
should be extended to 64,000 men. In this arrangement, I
should propose that there should be an augmentation to the army
of reserve in England of 24,000, and that 4,000 should be the
augmentation for Scotland. In submitting this arrangement, the
House Will understand, that I do not at all allude to any sudden




vg!


362 MR. PITT'S
LAPrtir. 2,5‘


and abrupt dismantling of the.miiitia. It is equally far from my
wish to interfere with their progress in discipline. All that I pro-
pose is, that the vacancies in the militia, as they successively oc-
cur, shall not be filled up for that species of the public force ; and
one important advantage of this arrangement would he, that com-
petition to a material degree would be destroyed. By this ar-
rangement, the number of persons liable to the army of reserve
would be enlarged ; and it would not require much labour to
show that, by this enlargement, a very material advantage would
be gained. I may merely call the attention of the House to the
experience of last year. If, out of 37,000 raised by the army
of reserve act, upwards of 9,000, according to the returns on the
table, have, within considerably less than twelve months, volun7
teered into the regular army, I am surely not presuming too
much in supposing, that a similar cause would be accompanied
with a similar result.


In proposing to the House the permanent establishment of the
army of reserve, though certainly on a very modified system, Lam
sensible that objections may be readily started against the propo-
-sition. But, Sir, let it be remembered, that the times in which
we live are not ordinary times. When we are called to encounter
extraordinary and unprecedented dangers, we must lay our ac-
count to submitting to extraordinary and unprecedented difficul-
ties. If we are called on to undergo great sacrifices, we must
bear in mind the interesting objects which- these sacrifices may
enable us to defend and to secure. I need not remind the House
that we are come to a new zei• in the history of nations ; that we
are called to struggle for the destiny, not of"This country alone,
but of the civilised world. We must remember that it is not for
ourselves alone that we submit to unexampled privations. We
have for ourselves the great duty of self-preservation to perform ;
but the duty of the people of England now is of a nobler and
higher order. We are in the first place to provide for our sccu-
rity against an enemy whose malignity to this country knows no
bonds : but this is not to close the views or the efforts of our
exertion in so sacred a cause. Amid the wreck and the misery


1801.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES,
Sof nations, it is our just exultation, that we have continued super


rim- to all that ambition or that despotism could effect, and our still
higher exultation ought to be, that we provide not only for mar
own safety, but hold out a prospect to nations now bending under
the iron yoke of tyranny, what the exertions of a free people can
effect; and that at least in this corner of the world, the name of
liberty is still revered, cherished, and sanctified. Viewing thus
the pressure to which the measure I propose may give rise, I con-
tend these are fair considerations. The object of attention then
will be, that what is unnecessary shall be removed, that what is
oppressive shall be mitigated. On these principles my whole plan
proceeds. Mitigated, however, as it may be, still the pressure
must be severe. But let it be remembered, that the object is nol
only to repel from our shores a danger that threatens our exist-
ence as an independent nation, but to restore to Europe the
chance of regaining all that is most dignified,in the condition
and in the relations of civilised nations. To any question of
pressure, I conceive that is a most satisfactory answer with
every reflecting mind.


But having said so much on the subject of the pressure attend-
ant on the plan I mean to propose, I shall now mention generally
the number which appears to me to be necessary to complete the
establishment, as the foundation of a regular, permanent, military
establishment. I shall go on the supposition that 60 or 70,000
men should be kept up every year, according to the proportion of
the different counties, regulated on the principles of the ballot
for the militia-establishment. In the detail of the system there
must of course be a great deal of modification; but I would beg
leave to state generally, that, in my opinion, the regular army
would receive an addition of 14 or 15,000 men annually, by vo-
luntary offers. In the first instance, you would be sure to pro-
cure a large number of men who could not be otherwise obtained,
and the same men would be induced to enter the army on the
general principles of human nature, founded on habit and expe-
rience. The ordinary recruiting of the army would not be im-
peded or interrupted, All the means of a defensive and an offon-




S61 MR. PITT'S
[Apart. 25.


sive system would be united. By following the system, we should
not only be secure at home, but be provided with the means of
holding out hopes for the restoration of states now sinking under
the most odious tyranny. It has often occurred to me, Sir, that
the indiscriminate manner in which volunteering from the army
of reserve has hitherto been allowed, is highly ruinous to the best
interests of the army. By the plan which I wish to propose, a cer-
tain degree of shape and consistency would he given even to the
volunteering from the army of reserve into the regular army.
What I would in the first instance suggest would be, that the
quota furnished by each parish and county should be attached to
the corresponding regiment in Great Britain or Ireland. If this
plan were once reduced to practice, and judiciously acted on, I
have no doubt that one of the greatest obstacles to the recruiting
would' be removed. It is obvious, that by such a plan all the in-
fluence of domestic feeling and local connection would be obtained,
if those entering into the army of reserve were connected with
the particular regiment for which they must feel a peculiar
predilection. But this would not happen alone in the case of
recruits attached to old battalions. If sup plementary battalions
were formed, the same effects would result from the same consi-
derations. Similar feelings betwixt both battalions would he
encouraged, and similar ardour would be created. But, Sir, the
good effects of such an arrangement would not be so limited. It
will not be denied that the present system of indiscriminate volun-
teering from the army of reserve is extremely discouraging to the
officers employed in drilling the raw recruits. After Ile has wasted
all his labour in bringing the men to some kind of perfection, I
put it to the candour and the good sense of the House, whether it
must not he painful to the feelings of anrnan to think that all his
labour is to pass without reward, that those whom he has prepared
to advance into the field, are to follow the banners of some other
leader. It is not, however, Sir, as a painful consideration that this
indiscriminate system of volunteering is to be reprobated. It is
evidently calculated to undermine all discipline as well as
attachment to officers. If soldiers arc attached to officers, this


1801e] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 365


feeling cannot be of long duration, because the connection
is hardly formed before it is dissolved. If, on the other hand,
soldiers are dissatisfied with their commanders, they know
that while indiscriminate volunteering is allowed, they have the
speedy prospect of retiring from the control of men whom they
may choose to detest and to calumniate. But, Sir, if the system
I recommend were followed, all these evils would be done away.
Knowing that their connection with their officers was of a perma-
nent nature, the men would learn both awe and regard ; and the
officers, firmly attached to their recruits, would spare no time to
render them perfect in all the duties of a military life. The con-
sequences that would result from this system are obvious. We
should have the men in an intermediate state more efficient for the
purposes of defence, and we should have them more disposed to
enter into the regular disposable force of the country. If a
thousand regular troops were wanted, we should have a thousand
troops of the reserve perfectly qualified to supply their place for
every purpose of internal defence. We might have men for limited
service, but then they would be under officers of no limited views ;
Men who had seen service in every part of the globe, and who
knew most perfectly to qualify men to advance into the field of
battle, with that confidence which is the best pledge of success. •
Indeed, in a short time the whole of your defensive force would
tilts become as good and efficient as your regular force ; by that
means the men will, as it were, become worth double their num-
ber, with a view to the defence of the country ; they will be
changed in a short time to ready-made soldiers, while, at the
same time, the plan of regular recruiting may be enlarged and
made more effectual. It thus unites several advantages in every
point of view, finless in so far as the mode in which it is to be
raised may increase a competition. Considering, however, the
numerous benefits to be derived by the adoption of such a plan,
perhaps gentlemen may consent to admit of a certain degree of
competition, seeing that it will be materially narrowed. It ap-
'ears clearly to my mind, that by the plan I have suggested ; fire
inadvaigagems competition in the recruiting of the regular army




71Ir


n(36 MR. PITTS [APRIL 25.


will be avoided. As the ballot is now regulated, if it falls upon a
person, whose engagements in life, mother circumstances, render
it unfit that he should serve, he must find a substitute, and no
limit is assigned to the sum he must give to procure one ; he is t


.


sacrifice, perhaps, 40/.. or 501. and expose himself and his family
to numerous privations, not for the benefit of the state, but from
the impolitic plan adopted to supply its exigencies. The effect
is obvious: it. has occasioned a species of subscription-club, which
converts the matter into a sort of parochial rate, by which the
important military duty of recruiting is committed to parish
officers, instead of being intrusted to- officers who are competent
to discharge it ; and being in such hands, they bid against each
other without limit or discretion, to the utter ruin of the service.
What I have proposed requires, that if the person on whom the
ballot falls will not serve, he shall pay a certain moderate fixed
sum ; but if he serves, then he shall receive the same amount he
would otherwise pay. Another precaution in the scheme is, that
the substitute should be found by the parish, and not by the indi-
vidual; and further, the person so provided is to be taken from
the hundred and not from the great market towns, unless under
the predicament I shall presently explain. The bounty given
will also, according to these arrangements, be examined by the..
magistrates of the respective counties, who will prevent any


de-,
viation from the limits prescribed by law. It will immediately
Occur on the review of this plan, that there will be no possibility
of surpassing the bounty, and from the local limitation, that
there will be no danger of interfering, in places of extensive
population, with the recruiting of the regular army.


The next consideration to which I request the attention of the
House is, the supply of the vacancy, or to provide for those cases
where the hundred can procure no substitute; which inability may
accrue from a great variety of causes In such circumstances,
the bounty is to be made over to the colonel, who is to pay the
limited sum he so receives for the more limited service he re-
quires; that is, that the recruiting parties he employs are to pro-
cure men for this particular service ; and regulating the quantum


PARLIAMENT.A.BY SPEECHES. a67


of bounty to the nature of the duty, no pernicious competition
will arise, as the larger bounty will always be given for enlisting
into . the regular army. There must, in a country like this, where
the sources of comfort and enjoyment in life are so well under-
stood, he a great variety of persons who will enlist for a much
smaller. bounty into a temporary service, but who would not,
for any emolument whatever, engage for life in a military occu-
pation. Thus, I conceive, I leave undisturbed. the mode of re-
cruiting now employed, and I add a new mode which I will
presume to be capable of doubling the supply from the ordinary
sources.


Such, Sir, is the nature of the plan ; the tendency, I flatter
myself, is to improve and enlarge the regular army, by presenting
novel expedients for the purpose, and then to conduce essentially
to the. means of internal defence, and external warfare. It has
been justly complained, that the measures for this purpose lately-
resorted to, so materially interfere with each other, that they suc-
cessively obstruct whatever is adopted,: it has been my endea-
vour to avoid this error, and to combine the several parts of thin
extensive system in such a way, that a mutual co-operation may
be produced, and that what is good and eligible in itself may be
rendered better and more desirable by this connection. Objec-
tions have been stated to the introduction, at this time, of any
great scheme of improvement in the service; it is, however, true
that the moment of public difficulty is often the crisis of public
improvement ; the sense of danger inspires men with a portion
of zeal and enthusiasm which enables them to surmount the ob-
structions by which they are surrounded, and they are capable of
performing what, under other circumstances, they could scarcely
contemplate. What is now recommended seems to me benefi-
cial,. whether the country be exposed to the horrors of war, or is
in the enjoyment of the blessings of peace. In the present cir-
cumstances of Europe, should hostilities terminate, the perma-
nence of such a situation would depend upon the respectable
.state.of your peace-establishment, more than on any other cir-
cumstance: this I felt, and I recommended on 'a recent occasion




Secretary at War.
Treasurer of the Navy.
Joint Paymasters of His Majesty's


5 Forces.


Joint Postmasters-General.


} Secretaries of the Treasury.
Master of the Rolls.
Attorney-General.
Solicitor-General.
Lord Lieutenant
Lord Chancellor
Chief Secretary
Chancellor ofthe Exchequer


of Ire-


I
land.


'Fr


g68
...\TR. NITS
[Aparr, 25.


the necessity of preserving a competent force. By the present
proposal, this advantage would be secured ; a body of' men,
with liberty to recruit into the regular army ivould be provided ;
and, without any ballot, 10 or 15,000 recruits would be ready
to supply the ranks in the troops of the line, and able to act with
them on the most difficult service; without disgracing their com-
panions in the field of danger. If all or any of these benefits be
unavoidably connected with the measure, the House, I am sure,
will be disposed to give it an attentive consideration ; but I am
fhr from having exhausted all its merits. By the plan it appears,
that the officers attached to those provisional troops would be
those who are most capable of bringing their discipline to per-
fection, and in consequence they will he much more ready to act
with the troops of the line, than the supplies from the militia,
or from the army of reserve. It will not be necessary to
abandon the sound maxims of state policy, by which the
militias of Great Britain and Ireland are confined to their native
territory, and the disposable force of the country may be dis-
missed to those situations where its gallantry and conduct will
redound most to the advantage and glory of the country. I have,
Sir, on all these grounds, thought it right to resist your leaving
the 'chair, to convert this House into a committee for the consi-
deration of the propriety of suspending the bill of the army of re-
serve; and I hope it will not be thought. that., on a question of
this magnitude, I have intruded too much on your indulgence.


Mr. Pitt's motion was rejected;
Ayes


203
Noes


240*


immediate change in Ili; Majesty's government. The new administration
This small majority in favour of the minister, was succeeded by an


was composed as follows :


Cabinet Ministers.
5 First Lord of the Treasury and Chan-Right Hon. William Pitt




cellor of the Exchequer.
Luke of Portland
President of the Council.


1804.]
PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 2.89


June 18. 1804.


Ma. PITT having moved the order of the day for the second reading of
the amendments made. in the additional force and the amendments
being brought up, read, and inserted in the bill, he then moved, " That the
bill with its amendments be engrossed;"—upon which a debate ensued.


As soon as Mr. Sheridan had sat down, Mr. PITT rose :


Sir—In the observations which I mean to offer to the House,
I shall confine myself to the latter part of the speech of the


Lord Viscount
Earl of Chatham


Earl of Westmoreland
Lord Eldon


Lord Hawkesbury




Lord Chancellor.


c Secretary of State for the Home De-


First Lord of the Admiralty.
Master-General of the Ordnance.


Lord Privy Seal.


pertinent.
Ditto for Foreign Affairs.Lord Harrowby


c Ditto for the Department of War and
Earl Camden


the Colonies.
S President of the Board of Control for


Lord Castlereagh the Affairs of India.


Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.Lord Mulgrave
N'ot of the Cabinet.


Right Hon. William Dundas
Right Hon. George Canning
Right Hon. George Rose
Rt.Hon.Lord Charles Somerset
Duke of Montrose
Lord Charles Spencer
William Huskisson, Esq..— • • •
William Sturges Bourne, Esq
Sir William Grant
Hon. Spencer Perceval
Sir Thomas Manners Sutton
Earl of Hardwicke
Lord Rcdesdalc
Sir Evan Nepean
Right Hon.-Isaac Corry


VOL. III.


I




570 MR. PITT'S
[JUNE. 18.


honourable gentleman's ; because, extricated from the variety
of desultory remarks and extraneous matter which he has pro-
duced, it is the only part that comes at all near to the real
question. .I mean the view of the question, as it affects the con-
stitution, the character, and genius of the country. Upon
this subject, a great many doctrines have been broached, and
many theories have been brought forward to dazzle the imagin-
ation. The honourable gentleman who spoke last, has, in the most
beautiful language, and that captivating style of eloquence pecu-
liar to himself, laid it down as the privilege and prerogative of


-our happy constitution, and the characteristic quality of the genius
and spirit of the nation, that the people can be blended and conso-
lidated into amilitary mass, more fit for its protection than a regular
standing army. Now this is the very principle for which every one
of us has contended, the very system which we all wish to establish.
We always admitted the zeal of the country, and applauded its
noble and patriotic devotion. In these feelings we perfectly
agree with the honourable gentleman : but, much as we admire
that military spirit and enthusiasm, few, I believe, would be in-
clined to push it to the extent which the honourable gentleman
wishes; for his argument, in its full latitude, is neither more
nor less than this, that, in the present state of Europe, we are
not to look up to a standing army. Now, Sir, without examin-
ing that position too minutely, I say, whatever may be the suf-
ficiency of the spirit and courage of the mass of the people for
their own protection, it is our duty, in justice to our country,
to protect the spirit, to spare the courage, and, by the form-
ation of a regular force, to save, as much as possible, the blood
of those brave volunteers who have come forward with so much
alacrity, and shown themselves so ready to risk their lives in
our defence. Now, in order to attain this end, I do not be-
lieve it will be supposed that we are to exclude a regular force
from among the necessary means. If not, fftri the question is
only to what degree a regular force is to be maintained ; and
from hence two other questions necessarily arise : first, whe-


if' Mr. Sheridan.


1804.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES.


ther We have at present a standing army of sufficient strength,
under all the circumstances in which we are placed ? and,
secondly, if we have not, whether the present measure is not
the best mode that can be devised to supply the deficiency ?


As to the first question, it would be idle to argue it. Every
gentleman who has spoken this night, as well the honourable
gentleman* opposite, as the right honourable gentlemant on
the floor, admits the necessity of further exertions, not merely for
the purpose of a general defence, nor the extension of our military
system, in all possible ways which ingenuity might devise and
contrive ; but in the very line and course now recommended,
and for the very specific and identical purpose of a regular
army. If then the necessity of an increased regular force be
admitted, I wish to know how the objection upon the ground
of the constitution applies ? A great part of the argument in
favour of an armed mass was, that. it added to the variety of
our force ; but this is in the very spirit of my plan, as it pro-
poses to place all the leading and principal members of that
force upon their proper and respective foundations. Now, if
we are to look to the keeping up of these different species of
force, we must also look to what are to be their proper propor-
tions. Some say the militia ought to be raised to exactly that
extent which should make it a balance to the regular army. 1.
disapprove of this view of the subject; the balance and the
warfare to which I look, and by which I estimate, are, as it re-
lates to the. enemy, as it is more or less competent to resist the
foe, and defend the country from attack, and not in relation to
any equipoise between the regular and irregular force, or the
policy of dividing and subdividing them with a view to produce
an equality. Of the militia I will say, that its officers have
conducted themselves in a manner as constitutional towards
the country as its men have proved themselves vigorous and
brave against the enemy ; but if it be not a force as available as
the regular army, what are you to do ? Why, you are desired
to carry it higher than its constitutional limits would admit.


* Mr. Sheridan. Mr. Addington.
B .6




372
• MR. PITT'S


[JUNE 18.
Some insinuate that I mean to reduce the militia below its con-
stitutional principle ; but the fact is, that though I wish to re-
duce it, yet still I mean to leave it higher than even those who
complain of the reduction think, according to their own argu-
ments, upon constitutional principles, it ought to stand. I only
mean, that the excess shall be taken off, and applied to a more
available force.


We are next told, that there is something in this measure that
violates the bill of rights, so far as the same respects a standing
army. According to the bill of rights, I have always under-
stood that to keep up a standing army in time of peace,
without the consent of parliament, is contrary to law. This I
conceive to be the principle of that bill. But how do I violate it
by proposing to maintain a standing army in time of war, with
the consent of parliament ;—an army too, amenable to the mu-
tiny-bill, and unobjectionable, I think, in many other respects,
particularly after the clause which I moved this day, that it was
not to remain embodied longer than six months after the signing
of a definitive treaty of peace, and to be subject, while so em-
bodied, to martial law ? Such being the case, I give gentlemen
all the benefit of the arguments derived from the bill of rights
and the spirit and practice of our ancestors.


Now, Sir, in reference to the state of Europe, let us see
how this measure operates upon our future safety. Unless we
can be perfectly sure, and indeed I know not any degree of
foresight and sagacity that should tempt us to suppose that it
would not be folly and presumption to be sure— unless, I say,
we can be perfectly sure that at the end of the present war,
and when that period shall arrive we have no means to calcu-
late or ascertain, we shall see Europe and France reduced to
such a state, that we may return to our own system ; unless we
shut our eyes and are wilfully blind to our destruction, we may
find ourselves obliged for years, to mare the country a more
military nation than it has ever been before thought necessary.
Now, if this be the case, there are only two ways by which it.
can be effected ; either by laying the foundation of a large sup-


1801.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES 37g


ply in peace, that may be brought forward in a prepared state
upon a sudden emergency, or by creating a large force, which,
though disembodied when its services are not necessary, may be
reproduced as occasion shall require. Those who look back to
the public feeling at the commencement of the present war,
cannot surely forget how desirable it would have been, had. we
attained that state at which we have only now arrived, after
several months of anxiety and protracted danger. With this
experience will you then have a regular force which is only effi-
cient while embodied, or a force which may be produced for
the necessary occasion without the constitutional objection to a
large regular army ? Even the very persons who are jealous of
a standing army in peace, recommend it in war ; and the present
measure is such as may be easily efficient when necessary, and
facilitates the filling up of the regular force. Upon every ground.
of public safety and economy, it is particularly recommended
to those who would have a large force in war, and a small one
in peace. It is the means of a provisional force, which is at-
tended with no expense in peace, and. may in time of war be
rapidly brought forward for the emergency.


A right honourable gentleman* says, it is not wise to change -
the character, manners, and habits of the people. The general
principle is right ; but if it be necessary to have a large force, I
ask, what is so little likely to interfere with the habits and man--
ners of the people as the present measure, which establishes no
permanent force, and only requires a month's exercise in the
year ? To hear him, one would suppose it would operate so great
a change, that the plough was to stop, and the country was to be
converted into a nation of Spartan soldiers; and yet the measure
is neither more nor less than to raise by a milder mode that very
number of men which the parliament thinks necessary, I mean
16,000 in England, and 3,000 in Ireland, being the amount of the
present deficiency ; and when that is completed, to raise annually
a force of 12,000. Now, whether this is likely to produce a
change in the genius and habits of the nation, I leave to the


' Mr. Addington.
as 3




374 MR. ITI1"S
EJux.n 1S,


understanding of the House. As to the difficulty stated, of pro-
curing a sufficient number of commissioned and non-commis-
sioned officers for the number of men proposed to be raised, this
certainly applied with equal force to the former plan, and,
indeed, is essential to any mode of recruiting, to any considerable
extent, the regular army : and, therefore, it amounts to nothing
as a particular objection to this bill. If, as it is generally admit-
ted, it is necessary to enlarge the army, it is surely right, in the
present circumstances of the country, to begin that increase as
soon as possible. Every experience under the army of reserve
act shows, that the present bill is likely to be successful, and
attract men to enter, when they would have objections to do so
for general service. Being once entered, they will gradually
become acquainted with the military life, and will, by a natural
operation of causes, without any kind of deception, be the more
readily induced to enter into the regular service. Without, how-
ever, attending in the first instance to its effect in recruiting the
regular army, it will immediately have one beneficial conse-
quence, namely, that of setting free a portion of the regulars,
nearly corresponding to the numbers raised, which are now
locked up in defensive service. The next consequence will be,
that, by a slight and natural transition, great numbers will enter
into the regular army, and constantly supply its wasting num-
bers. That it will be successful to its objects, the example of the
army of reserve system holds out. the best-grounded hope. The
plan promises to raise men more expeditiously than any other
mode we are acquainted with ; at the same time it is free from the


. evil consequence of high bounty incident to the army of reserve
system, which induced many to desert from the regulars to enlist
in the army of reserve, and then to desert again for the repetition
of the bounty. This great and increasing evil, it is manifest, will
be totally corrected by means of the regulations of the present
plan, which diminishes, and renders fixed the bounty both for
limited and unlimited service. From the first effect of a reduc-
tion of bounty, it is natural to expect some check in the num-
bers recruited, but this circumstance will soon corret't itself;
and when the recollection of high bounties is worn away, the


18(4.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 375


service will thrive as much, with a diminished and fixed bounty,
as it does at present with a higher twd uncertain one. Be this,
however, as it may, the House having already come to a reso-
lution against high bounties, the experiment must be made. It
is obvious they have no other choice, having once made up their
minds that high and fluctuating bounties are to be diminished
and rendered stationary.


Against this diminution of bounty it is to be seen under this
plan, what may be the inducement of limited service and local
influence, the benefit of which, I doubt not, will fully counteract
the evil otherwise to be apprehended from a decrease of bounty.
This measure being already determined on by the House, I must
take it for granted that there will be no objection to this plan on
that account, but rather, on the contrary, that it will therefore
meet with general approbation. It has, however, been said, that
by striking out the ballot, I had destroyed the only effectual part
of my own plan. I must, however, ask gentlemen gravely to
consider the subject a little farther before they urge objections
of that nature : whatever the plan was originally in my mind,
the House has decidedly expressed its dissent, both to high
bounties and ballot ; so that however desirable either might be
on general principles, yet, with respect to this measure, they are
equally inadmissible ; and therefore, though efficiency is desi-
rable, it is only to be expected in proportion to the opportunity
left us to make use of'.


With respect to recruiting the army, let it be recollected, there
were only four possible modes : 1st, the usual mode of recruiting
for bounty by the officers of the regular service ; 2d, recruiting
by limited bounty, and local influence, as pointed out by this
plan ; 3d, recruiting by ballot and compulsion, now generally ex-
ploded as an oppressive system ; and 4th, recruiting by personal
ballot, without the possibility of substitution, a mode yet more
objectionable. In times of great emergency, this latter mode
may doubtless be resorted to, but, in general, it has a rigour not
suited to the habits and feelings of the country. Supposing, as
is the case, that the first of these modes is not sufficiently pro-


a s 4,




376 MR. PITT'S [Jtn 3 18.
ductive, and a greater force is wanted, we must of necessity have
recourse to the second, the third and fourth being, as has been
shown, of a nature not, at least in the first instance, to be re-
sorted to. In adopting the second mode it is also evident, that
the first, that of mere simple recruiting, remains wholly unmo-
lested, and has a concurrent operation. Under the present plan
we have all the benefit of what may be called regular recruiting,
and add to that, whatever may be obtained by the secondary
mode. If any other plan equally productive, and as little ob-
jectionable, can be suggested, I can have no possible wish but to
adopt it : none such, however, has been suggested, and, perhaps,
it is not presuming too far to conclude, that none such can be
found. According to the regulations as laid down in the provi-
sions of this bill, the newly adopted system with respect to the
army of reserve bill, will in no degree interfere with the higher
bounties left to the regular service.


Before I sit down, I shall say a few words with respect to the
expectations which I have held out to the country, Gentlemen
have said, that they have expected something from me very fir
beyond the present bill. I am not conscious that I ever en-
couraged the idea, that I had discovered some miraculous mode
of providing for the defence of the country. I say this is the very
measure of which I gave notice, except so far as it is improved by
the omission of the ballot entirely, and the imposing of the pay-
ment of the bounty upon the parish instead of the individual.
Whether the measure be worthy of my situation I do not say, but
that it is the identical measure which I held out, and taught the
public to expect from me, I must contend. That there were other
points within my contemplation I also admit, I mean in the naval
department, with regard to the proper craft to be used in the
narrow seas, and the means necessary to ensure a succession of
ships to a proper extent. These subjects, however, as I said before,
cannot be comprehended in the present bill ; but it does not
thence follow that they are neglected by His Majesty's ministers.
There were other points, 1 also admit, which were the subject of
my observations before I came into office. If gentlemeNvill look


1804.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 877


back, they will see that I did propose a measure for our future
defence, but that as to immediate defence, I considered that all
that could be done was, to improve the discipline of the force
then subsisting. But has nothing been clone since ? I recom-
mended originally, that the volunteers should be called out
upon permanent duty. That system has been adopted ; and not
less than from 150,000 to 160,000 volunteers have been placed
in that state for improving their discipline. Now I would ap-
peal to every officer of experience, whether the result of this pro-
ceeding, by the improvement of their discipline, has not increased
their strength more than if their number had been increased one
half? I will not, therefore, have it said, that administration have
been wholly idle, and that nothing has been done for the defence
of the country. That being the ease, I know nothing on my
part inconsistent with any rational expectation that the House,
or any man who has attended to the notices I gave, could have
formed. I am ready to have my measure decided by experience,
and I am confident that every discussion will be beneficial to
it, as it will place it more and more in its true light. Of the
mode of opposition which it has experienced, I have a right to
complain. There has been a disposition to draw into argument
foreign topics, which divert the attention from the real subject,
and in such hands as those of the honourable gentleman who
spoke last, may be productive of entertainment, and relieve the
tediousness of debate by the brilliant display of wit which we
have just witnessed.


As to the argument that the administration is not worthy of
confidence, I am at a loss to conjecture upon what ground
it rests. This, its first measure, surely cannot be the cause,
for it looks to an object upon which all persons of all parties
and all descriptions are agreed. There must then be something
awkward or unfortunate in the manner of bringing it forward,
if' it he the cause of this loss of confidence. I confess this is a
very delicate subject, and I know not well how to deliver myself'
upon it. But whatever opinions some. people may entertain of
the advantages of an administration formed on a broad basis, I


14




378 MR. mrs
EJuNE


am satisfied that the principle, that it. is the prerogative of His
Majesty to choose his ministers, will not be denied. I am the
more convinced of this, when I remember that some weeks ago,
the honourable gentleman* opposite stated in this House, when
it was thrown out as a matter of speculation, who were to be the
new ministers, if the late ministry were obliged to retire, that it
was not within the province of the House to take any notice of
such a circumstance ; and if it would have been unconstitu-
tional to agitate such a topic before the removal of that ministry,
it is equally unconstitutional to deny the King's prerogative as
to selection in every instance : and is it reconcilable with any
ideas of constitutional principle and of public duty, that, when a
ministry has been changed, their successors should be obstructed
in their very first. operations, by any combination founded upon
any circumstances connected with the recent. exercise of His
Majesty's prerogative?


-An honourable gentleman - has said, I have received a hroad
hint to retire after this recent experiment. I beg leave to say,
broad as the hint may be, it is not broad enough for me to take it.
I am yet sanguine enough to believe the bill will pass ; if it should
not, all I have to lament is, that the country will be deprived of the
increased means of security which I flattered myself I had pro-
vided for it. Should I be disappointed in this respect, let notgentle-
men suppose I shall consider it as a defeat. I shall merely treat
it as the decision of this House on the dry merits of the bill. If
this scheme be rejected, another project, which I trust will be
less objectionable, shall be submitted, and the hint shall not be
taken, until I find my attempts to promote the public security ut-
terly nugatory and ineffectual ;— then I shall retire, not with mor-
tification but with triumph, confident of having exerted my best
endeavours to serve my country. I will not discuss how far a
wider basis for the formation of His Majesty's government would
have evinced the wisdom of the sovereign ; but I should not
think the prerogative entire, if we were permitted here to deli-.,,
berate on its exercise, so far as to examine the propriety or ime,.


* Mr. Fox. Mr. Sheridan


1801.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 379


policy of inviting a principal person on the opposite bench to
participate in the, public councils of the state. Thus to interfere
would be to alter the constitution of the land, which, although
free, is yet monarchical, and for the preservation of its liberties
and immunities all its parts should be protected from violation.


From different parts of the House, I have listened to observ-
ations, not only applied personally to myself, but to those with
whom I have been so recently connected. As to my sufficiency,
or to the sufficiency of those in office with me, it is not necessary
to say a great deal upon that subject ; but I am surprised at the
language that has fallen from a noble lord. * I think it a little
singular that my acting in concert with a part of the late admi-
nistration should be made a bar to the confidence of him and his
friends. Does my noble relative think, that, on this account, I
have justly forfeited the confidence of him and of his friends ? I
do remember the time when, in the moment of his bitterest oppo-
sition to the honourable gentleman +, the noble lord and his friends
were so partial to me, that they declared that my admission to
a share of the executive power would, in a considerable degree,
remove their apprehensions of the public danger. I hope that
since that time I have not, by concurring very frequently and
acting very cordially with my noble relative and his friends, for-
feited the good opinion they were then so partial as to express of
me. I confess my surprise too, that, after such public declara-
tions concerning me, they so soon find themselves compelled to
withhold their services from the public, on account of the exclu-
sion of an honourable gentleman + with whom they have been
so little accustomed to think or to act in unison.


Much has been said of the inefficiency of the members of the
present cabinet. But is it to be asserted that the present mi-
nisters are unequal to the duties of the station they fill ? With
respect to the members of the present ministry, and who were
members of the last, being liable to the charge of inconsistency,
I cannot see the least foundation for it. The present bill is
better than that which it supersedes, and aiming at the same end


Lord Temple. • + Mr. Fox.




880 MR. PI T T'S
[.TUNE I&


by juster means, is fairly entitled to the support of those who.
supported the former bill. It is said, however, though not quite.
correctly, that the members of the last administration are a ma-
jority of the present. But what, if it were so, would be the in-
ference ? There is no reason why those who sat in a former cabi-
net should not sit in this. I hope the present cabinet is not one
in which there will always be a necessity of counting noses, and
of coming to a vote upon every measure. When differences of
opinion exist, there is room for mutual concession and accom-
modation where men agree in a general object. if this were not
the case, how could any administration go on ? far more an ad-
ministration formed on the broad basis which some gentlemen
consider so desirable ? Were I to take the broad hint which has
been given me, and had that sort of administration been formed,
the failure of which is represented as having struck such despair
throughout the country, how could any measure have been car-
ried in the cabinet among men, who have had long and important
_differences, unless mutual accommodation and concession had
taken place ? It is said, however, that there has not been a suf-
ficient change in the ministry. But, surely, the right honourable
gentleman * below me at least must be satisfied that the change
is sufficient, and that the present is really a new administration.—
And, notwithstanding all that has been said of it, I hold it be
substantial enough to answer the purposes for which it was
formed.


Many objections have been urged against it by the honourable
gentleman who spoke last., who has indulged himself in that vein
of pleasantry and humour, for which he has most deservedly ac-
quired so much celebrity, in comparing some of the members of
the present administration with those whom they have succeeded
in office, and has indulged himselfparticularly in contrasting Lord
Melville with the Earl of St. Vincent. I should unquestionably
think myself extremely wrong, were I to Say that Lord Melville
was as good a sailor, or understood how to work or fight a ship of
war as well as Earl St. Vincent : but yet I can have no hesitation


Mr. Addington.


1804, ] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 381


to say, that, in my opinion, there is every reason to suppose that
Lord Melville will make a better first lord of the admiralty ; for
experience has often forcibly shown us, that it is by no means
necessary that a first lord of the admiralty should be a naval
character. And, though it may not be fit to speak of myself, it
surely will not be considered that it is no change, that the office
of first lord of the treasury, reckoned that which has a leading
influence in the executive government, is now held by me. Few
will doubt that a very real change has taken place. With respect
to any differences of opinion which I may have had with the late
administration, it will- not be pretended that they were of such a
nature as to prevent us from acting in the most cordial and satis-
factory manner upon general affairs. For those, my right
honourable and noble friends, I have uniformly entertained the
utmost private friendship and esteem. With them I have thought
and acted almost without interruption on every public question
since our acquaintance commenced. Neither is there the slight-
est ground to imagine that another noble friend of mine ', whom
I have always esteemed and loved, is degraded by taking the
home instead of the foreign department ; though I confess there
were some parts of the foreign system which I did not approve,
and of which it is not now necessary to say more. Those who
know the fact, know how far that change was from any motive
that could infer degradation. Indeed, Sir, I cannot see with
what view such a thing could be mentioned, unless it were for
the purpose of sowing jealousies and dissensions among His
Majesty's present ministers, and, as such, it deserves my severest
animadversion.


If the present bill should be lost, I shall be sorry for it, because
the House and the country will thereby lose a good measure ; but
the honourable gentlemen opposite will be much mistaken if they
think they will thereby be any thing the nearer getting rid of me.
It is well known, and has ever been allowed to be one of the first
and most established privileges and prerogatives of the crown,
that His. Majesty has a right to choose and nominate his own


Lord Hawkesbury.




382 MR. PF1"1"8
[FEB. 11.


ministers ; and with that conviction on my mind, I shall not be
deterred from bringing forward such measures as may be neces-
sary in aid and support of the present bill, which I have no
doubt will meet the approbation of a considerable majority, not-
withstanding all the opposition it has met with from the honour-
able gentleman on the opposite side of the House.


The motion for engrossing the bill was carried ;
Ayes..... ....265
Noes..... -.223


Februau 11. 1805.


THE orde •
of the day being read, for taking into consideration the


papers relative to the war with Spain,
Mr. PITT rose, and addressed the House as follows :


I feel great satisfaction, Sir, that the day is at length arrived.
when we can enter into that full and ample discussion of the
papers before the House, which the magnitude of the subject re-
quires ; and though I am satisfied that a perusal of these papers,
and an impartial consideration of the transactions to which they
refer, would be sufficient to convince every rational mind of the
rectitude of the measures pursued by His Majesty's government,
and of the justice of the war in which we are engaged, yet, re-
flecting how much the complete illustration of the policy by
which we have been guided, and the vindication of the steps
Which have been adopted, are necessary to the credit of His
Majesty's government, and to the honour of the British nation, I
trust I shall he excused if I go soiiiewhat at length into a review
of the different aspects of our relations, and the progress of the
discussions with Spain previous to the war. In the course of
What I shall have'the honour to submit to the House, I hope that


shall be able, not only to establish that which I believe few can
he now disposed to question, the ultimate justice and neces-


1805.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 383


sky of the war ; but also, the exemplary moderation, liberality,
and forbearance of the ministers of this country in every period
of our relation with Spain since the breaking out of the war with
France; and when unexpected circumstances required the depar-
ture from the system of lenity which it was always the desire of
the British government to exercise, that though they were not
deficient in vigour to vindicate the rights, and to avenge the
cause of the country, they never deviated from the law of nations
or the principles Of good-faith.


In the first place, then, it is necessary to take into consider-
ation the relative situation in which Spain stood towards this
country at the breaking out of the war, in consequence of her
antecedent engagements with France. I need hardly say more to
characterise that situation, than barely mention the treaty of
St: Ildefonso, and the stipulations it contained. Spain was bound
to France by a treaty, on the face of it both offensive and defen-
sive ; and, in fact, a treaty which was by the contracting parties
so entitled. Besides guaranteeing neutrality, their territories,
&c. they agree to assist each other with 15 ships of the line, and
21,000 men ; and this assistance, too, as appears from the 8th
article, is to be given upon the demand of the requiring party,
and the demand is to be taken as conclusive evidence of the ne-
cessity, precluding the party required from making any investi-
gation or enquiry as to the justice of the war, or the policy.of the
object for which the succours were to be granted. Nay, by the
1 1 th article of this treaty, the contracting parties are to assist
each other with their whole forces, in case the stipulated succours
should be insufficient. This treaty it is most important to keep in
view, as the foundation of all the proceedings which it was
thought incumbent on this government to adopt. The, Spanish
ambassador in this country, in several of the notes before the
House, it will he seen, endeavours to set up his_own, as appears
too, in the first instance, unauthorised reasonings, to show that
this treaty was not offensive. To such reasonings I oppose the
treaty itself, which expressly puts at the disposal of France the
whole power and resources of the Spanish monarchy by sea and




384 MR. PITT'S
[FEB. 11.


land ; which strips Spain of the right to ask a question, or ex-
ercise any judgment as to the purpose of the succours she is to
furnish. Such a treaty, unless distinctly disclaimed, I contend
must ipso facto have rendered Spain a principal in the war.
On the face of it such is the treaty of St. Ildefonso ; and if any
thing were wanting to explain its tendency, it would be the
example of what happened in the year 1796, in which the offen-
sive provisions were specifically directed against England. In-
deed, who that recollects the circumstances in which the treaty
-was concluded, and when Spain was compelled to subscribe and
ratify that record of her vassalage to France, can doubt the
spirit of the contract, or its hostility to the British nation ?


Such was the situation in which His Majesty's ministers found
themselves, when the aggressions and injustice of the present ruler
of France forced them into the present rupture. This was the situ-
ation of the relations between both countries when His Majesty's
ministers, actuated by sentiments which I cannot but applaud,
resolved to delay their determination with respect to the light in
which they should regard Spain, till they should see in what man-
ner, and to what extent, Spain would, .be disposed to carry its ob-
servance of the terms of the treaty. In whatever light the treaty
should be viewed, it could not be considered on the part of
Spain, but as a reluctant tribute to the overbearing dictates of
its ambitious and tyrannic ally ; yet, while stipulations so
directly hostile to the interests and security of this country
remained in force, no man, I am confident, in this House, will
deny, that it could be attributed only to extreme pusillanimity
on the part of His Majesty's government, if they had not re-
quired the clear, distinct, and explicit renunciation of the offen-
sive articles. But the feelings to which I have alluded, for the
degraded and humiliating situation of that country, and which
so justly influenced His Majesty's ministers on the occasion,
dictated a spirit of moderation and forbearance in the measures
they adopted with respect to a court, of which, though an
enemy, I am not disposed to speak with severity, at the same
time that I cannot but admit that in its present state it seems to


1805.]
PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 385


possess very little of that honourable spirit, and those high-
minded sentiments, by which the Spanish nation has been so
long characterised. On this ground, I am convinced that, the
tenderness, moderation, and forbearance shown by His Majesty's
ministers, from the impulse of such generous sentiments, not
upon any principles of Arne or sound policy, for the degrading
situation to which necessity, not choice, had reduced Spain,
will meet with the decided approbation of the House. I state
this particularly, because it was, in the first instance, deemed
expedient to gain time, and the Spanish court seemed -as desi-
rous to get rid of their engagements as we were to detach them
from their ally. But, considering the situation in which Spain
was placed, considering the situation and circumstances of
Europe, considering also that the intemperate and precipitate
conduct of the French ruler might compel Spain to take an ac-
tive part with him in the war, the same sentiment to spare, the
same generous feeling for its degraded situation, could no longer
be suffered to influence His Majesty's government to a perseve-
rance in the system of moderation upon which they had hitherto
acted. To act longer upon such a system, under such discou-
raging circumstances, would not be to give way to the influence
of generous sentiments, or honourable feelings, but to enable
Spain, under the dictation of France, to accumulate resources,
and armies, and fleets, and arsenals, to be at the disposal of
France : and for what purpose ? France might at once demand
the contingent of 15 sail of the line, and. 2+,000 men ; she
could moreover demand, that Spain should put into activity the
whole force that she could command. At any moment it was
in the power of France to call for the whole, either of the
treasure of Spain, or of the blood of her subjects, unless the
contingent succours should be deemed sufficient : and for what
purpose ? The purpose of aiding the French in a war against
this country ; for a purpose announced at the very outset of the
war, continued through every stage of its progress, and never
once suspended, but in practice, for the purpose of destroying
the power and independence of this country ; for the purpose


VOL. III. C




386 MR. PITT'S [Fee. 11.
of overthrowing this noble harrier against the encroachments of
French ambition on the liberties and independence of mankind.'
The duties of the ministers of this country were, by all these
circumstances, rendered extremely delicate and difficult. Stand-
ing at the head of the affairs of a nation like this, to be at once
moderate and forbearing towards Spain, and wise and provident
to Great Britain ; to feel and to vindicate the justice of their
cause, yet to mitigate the rigour of justice, as far as true policy
and the safety of the state would admit of, was indeed a trying
situation, and required the utmost prudence; particularly when
they were sensible that Spain might be pushed on to war with
us, though ruin might be the consequence to her, provided her
co-operation could in any manner facilitate the projects of the
ruler of France for our destruction.


Having stated these general principles as applicable to the
state of our relations with Spain, it remains to consider how
they have been followed up. Gentlemen will see in the papers
on the table the instructions by Lord Hawkesbury to our minis-
ter at Madrid, so far back as October 1802, instructions which.
I am confident all must approve. They will there see that the
first object of our policy was, if possible, to detach Spain from
her degrading connection with France, and if that was imprac-
ticable, at least to endeavour, that, in case of any future war,
either a system of neutrality should be settled, or at least that
hostilities with her might be deferred as long as possible. It
cannot be questioned these principles were acted upon by our
minister, and that every effort was made to prepare the minds of
the Spanish government for these alternatives. In June 1803,
instructions were given to Mr. Frere to demand from the Spanish
government a renunciation of the treaty of St. Ildefonso ; nor
will any man, I believe, dispute that the instructions to which
I allude, as to the points to be insisted on, are fully justified by
the law of nations.


It is needless for me to dwell upon the question, how far the
limited succours in the treaty of St. Ildefonso, would have
been consistent with the neutrality of Spain, as that makes no


5


1805.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 587


part of the case. I must say, however, that it never was a&
mitted that we were bound to acquiesce in those succours being
given: so that all arguments founded upon the commutation of
assistance in kind into pecuniary aid are inapplicable, because, if'
we did not admit the one, we were certainly no way bound to
acquiesce in the other. The conduct which a nation is bound to
follow in the case of limited succour, furnished in pursuance of a
defensive treaty, must depend upon the extent of the assistance ;
and that extent must be taken in proportion to the whole strength
and resources of the nation furnishing. Much will depend, too,
upon whether the treaty is recent or ancient, whether it is gene-
ral in its provisions, or concluded with direct reference to hosti-
lities with a particular state. His Majesty's government at the
time wisely gave no opinion upon the question of limited succour
in kind to be furnished by Spain to France, because that case did
not occur. They did what was necessary for the protection of
our interests, had it taken place, and the Spanish government
were apprised that our forces would attack their auxiliary fleet,
and prevent their junction with the enemy. That to do so would
have been consistent with the clearest principles of the law of
nations, and of self-defence, cannot admit of a dispute. But
while the moderation of this country was unwilling to drive Spain
into war, it was unquestionably necessary to obtain some pledge
that the treaty of Ildefonso should not be acted upon. Ii' they
:did not make it a specific ground of war, they were entitled to
insist that its hostile principle should be abandoned. In thedis-
patches of Mr. Frere will be found the answer which he received
to the applications he had made upon this subject, and in which
he stated, that unless satisfactory explanations and assurances
were given, the treaty of Ildefonso could not but be regarded as
hostile. It was not till August that these dispatches reached this
country. The answer of the Prince of Peace was vague and in-
conclusive, but still it evinced a disposition to delay, and, if pos,
sible, to elude compliance with the demands of France. Much
ill humour existed in the court of Madrid against the latter, and
an inclinatinifiiiresist her domination seemed to prevail ; while


,cc




388 MR. PITT'S r FEB. 1


every disposition was manifested to give satisfaction to the just
representations of this government. Things remained in this
state till September ; nor was it known here, at least, up to that
time, that France had made a formal demand of the stipulated
succours. At that period a note was presented by M. d'Anduaga,
the Spanish minister here, in which he endeavours to prove that
the treaty of St. Ildefonso contained nothing hostile to this coun-
try. And here I cannot but remark upon a whimsical circum-
stance in those reasonings of the Spanish ambassador. He en-
deavours to show that the treaty in question was, in reality, two
treaties, the one defensive, the other offensive, but applicable
only to the case in which both France and Spain should, by
common consent, enter into war against any other country. It
so happens, however, that the first part of the treaty, which M.
d'Anduaga contends to be defensive, is precisely that which con-


- tains the offensive provisions ; and. that part which he describes
as offensive, is that which is defensive. For, under the first part
is included the stipulation that Spain, in case the limited succours
shall he insufficient, shall put her whole forces at the disposal
of France ; words which M. d'Anduaga argues do not mean that
Spain should join France with all her power, though words more
synonymous I do not think it would be possible to select. This,
however, by the way ; and now to pursue the course of the
negotiation.


In September, a dispatch was received from Mr. Frere, dated
in August, in which he announces that France had made a for-
mal demand of the stipulated succours. Mr. Frere was then
informed by the Prince of Peace, that, to preserve the neutrality
of Spain, they were willing to make a pecuniary sacrifice. The
demands of France were urgent ; and Mr. Frere writes that a
sum of not less than 250,0001. a month, or 3,000,0001. a-year,
were the terms ; and though Spain had pleaded for a decrease, it
appears to have been the sum settled, and indeed rather with in-
crease than diminution. This event, in which the influence of
France over Spain was so manifest, must have led ministers to
conclude, that the hopes of the neutrality of Spain would prove


1805.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 38


visionary. Mr. Frere, in dispatches dated 12th of September,.
mentions, that the Spanish government, in answer to his remon-
strances on this subject, had stated, that it was better for this
country that they should make pecuniary sacrifice to preserve
their neutrality, (though it appeared from every account, that
this pecuniary commutation was no less than 3,000,0001.) than
that they should have supplied the stipulated succours in kind,
and a nominal declaration of war which must have ensued. This
mode of reasoning is undoubtedly absurd and ridiculous, for
how could the Spanish government have expected that this
country would have considered the declaration merely nominal,
and have abstained from active hostility ? But I mention this,
in order to show that the Spanish government themselves, far
from thinking even the limited succour consistent with neutra-
lity, considered that at least a nominal declaration of war must
be the inevitable consequence of supplying them. In a subse-
quent dispatch from Mr. Frere, dated 20th of September, he
mentions, that he had heard that the subsidy demanded by Prance
was 700,0001. a-year, and that this was considered too much by
Spain, who offered 600,0001. If then the Spanish government
considered 700,0001. as excessive, is it not clear, by their own
confession, that three millions was infinitely more than this
country was bound to consider compatible with any principle of
neutrality ?


Nothing further of importance took place in the discussion ex-
cept a note, respecting the passage of French seamen to Ferrol,
to reinforce the crews of the fleet there.; — a subject on which I
forbear at present to comment. On the 9th of October, Mr.
Frere writes, that the negotiation with France was concluded.
Mr. Frere, however, was unable to procure any official commu-
nication of the arrangement with France, though, from every
information he could procure, it amounted to three millions ster-
ling a-year. What we know of that convention, however, is suf-
ficient to stamp the conduct of Spain as hostile, and the refusal
of a communication of its terms up to the very date of the rup--
ture, was =irSelf sufficient to justify war. What we know, then,


c c 3




890


MR. PITT'S [FEB. 11.
is itself a distinct and specific ground of war, unless it be con-
tended, as I cannot suppose it will be in this House, that a war
subsidy of three millions is not an infringement of neutrality,
and does not render Spain a principal in the war. The Spanish
government, indeed, all along contended, that the subsidy, the ex-
tent of which they refused to communicate, was only an equiva7
lent for the succours stipulated ; but we are not told, whether
it was to be considered an equivalent for the limited, or for the
unlimited succours. If to the latter, nothing can be more ab-
surd; and, if as to the former, on what principles of calculation
is the equivalent estimated ? Under the name of an equivalent,
any sum might have been paid. In different nations, different
estimates of that equivalent would be formed. In this country,
owing to circumstances connected with our prosperity, though
sometimes burdensome in their operation, the pecuniary equiva-
lent for military aid would be higher than in any other country,
probably, in the world. What then might be the rated equiva-
lent in England for fifteen sail of the line and twenty-four thou-
sand land forces ? At the highest estimate, the pay and charges
for fifteen sail of the line for a twelvemonth, would not exceed
one miilion, leaving two for the land forces. This would be al-
lowing between 801. or 901. for every man. It is well known
that this is infinitely beyond the allowance necessary in any ser-
vice, or in any treaty. Of what is allowed as pecuniary com-
mutation for service in kind, we may take an instance from the
treaty between this country and Holland, in the year 1788, in
which it is stipulated that between 8/. and 9/. shall be paid for
each man in the infantry,- and 117. and 121. for each man in the
cavalry. By this calculation of equivalent, however, Spain pays
between 801. and 901. for each man,—an allowance extravagant.
and unreasonable in the extreme. Can it be doubted, then, that a
pecuniary subsidy, to the annual amount of three millions, made
Spain a principal in the war, and could never be considered as a
fair equivalent for any moderate extent of military assistance ?


If this be the general principle, as it most unquestionably is,
why did this government forbear to make it a ground of war ?


1805.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 391


I have already touched upon the reasons. They believed that
Spain rather submitted to adverse circumstances, than acted
from choice. They believed that she looked to circumstances
that might enable her to escape from the thraldom in which she
was kept, and to pursue a course more suited to her interests
and to her dignity. There were, indeed, circumstances in the
state of Europe known to those at the head of affairs here, cir-
cumstances on which I cannot at present enlarge, which seemed
to justify the hopes which Spain was naturally supposed to enter-
tain, and which sufficiently account for the forbearance manifested
by this government. It appearing, however, that nothing had ac-
tually been signed between France and Spain, instructions were,
on the 24th of November, sent to Mr. Frere, in which he is autho-
rised to declare to the Spanish government, that the acquiescence
of His Majesty in the payment of a war-subsidy to France, could
be no more than a temporary connivance ; that it. must depend
upon the amount of that subsidy, and the disposition of Spain in
other respects to maintain a strict neutrality. Mr. Frere is in-
structed also to protest against the measure as hostile ; arrd that
forbearance of actual war could be continued on the expect-
ation that the subsidy was to be temporary ; and the most express
reservation of our right to go to war is made. The Spanish go-
vernment received distinct notice, that should His Majesty be
induced to connive at the payment of a subsidy as a temporary
measure, he would naturally look with the utmost jealousy to any
naval preparations in the ports of Spain. A dispatch was received
from Mr. Frere, on the 27th of December, announcing that the
convention between France and Spain was finally concluded on
the 19th of October. In this dispatch Mr. Frere informs this
government, that he had represented the convention to M. Ce-
vallos, as a war-subsidy, which had given this country an un-
doubted right to go to war. On this occasion, M. Cevallos
argues, that the limited succours had not been objected to, and
adds, that we ought not to complain of the pecuniary subsidy,
because we did not know what it was. This reasoning of M.
Cevallos is worthy of remark. When we urged a communication


c c 4




392 MR. PITT'S
[FEB. 11.


. of the convention, we were told it was unnecessary, because, as
it was an equivalent for the succours stipulated, we must know
what it was : but when we complain of this payment to France
as a war-subsidy, we are answered, " No, you have no reason of
complaint, because you do not know what we pay." Thus, be-
cause the Spanish government wrongfully refuses the communi-
cation of a treaty, in which we are directly interested, we are to
have no redress ; nor must we be displeased when a subsidy is
paid ten times the amount of any stipulated succours in kind,
had the furnishing of these been admitted, as they were not, to
be consistent with neutrality.


The first period of the negotiation begins with the discussions
respecting the treaty of I ldefonso ; the second, with those respect-
ing the convention of subsidy ; the third era of the negotiation
commences with the instructions sent by Lord Hawkesbury to
Mr. Frere after that convention was known to be concludett
Lord Hawkesbury, in his letter of the 21st January 1804, says
distinctly, that the convention of the 19th October was a sum-
cient cause of war, but that, from views of forbearance and of
policy, His Majesty was unwilling, yet, to act upon the right
which that measure conferred, if satisfactory explanations can be
obtained. 'Mr. Frere, therefore, was instructed to require ex-
planations respecting the other stipulations of the convention of
the 19th October, and, secondly, to obtain satisfaction as to na-
val preparations. The forbearance of ministers, therefore, is
not founded either upon blindness to the danger which the fu-
ture hostility of Spain, under the guidance of France, might pro-
duce, but upon motives of policy, adopting due precaution
against that event. Their forbearance was conditional, and it
required as a sine quiz' non, that no naval preparations should
be undertaken in the Spanish ports. Without this condition the
generosity and the lenity of government would have been criminal,
had there been any danger that Spain, besides contributing a
pecuniary subsidy, would have made any _preparations for co-
operating with France, whenever the moment arrived, that her
military aid would have been useful. When Mr. Frere received


1805.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 393


these instructions, he was engaged in a discussion respecting the •
sale of prizes, on which at a later period satisfaction was ob-
tained, and also respecting armaments at Ferrol. As to these, he
received assurances that no hostile armaments were going on in
that port. Agreeably to his instructions, Mr. Frere proceeded to
demand a communication of the convention of the 19th of Oc-
t ober. Now, for the first time, however, the Spanish government
began, in their turn, to demand an explanation of the intentions
of Great Britain. Mr. Frere insisted, that a communication of
the convention must be made preliminary to any agreement for
the neutrality of Spain. On this, the Prince of Peace referred
hint to M. Cevallos, and nothing was obtained but vague assur-
ances, that the treaty contained nothing hostile to the interests
of this country. The reason, however, assigned for the refusal
to communicate the treaty is peculiarly deserving of attention.
It is expressly said that it had been proposed to communicate it,
but " General Bournonville had overruled it." Here is evidence
incontestable of the control exercised by the French over the
Spanish government, evidence furnished inadvertently by - the
latter themselves. The court of Spain admit that the demand
made by us was just, and they excuse themselves for non-com-
pliance by an apology, of itself highly alarming, and affording
the best criterion how precarious must be the reliance on the
neutrality of Spain while the ascendancy of France continued.
That we had a right to the communication of a treaty, in which
we were so nearly interested, I believe no man will dispute. And
can it be contended that we ought to have acquiesced in that re-
fusal, without at the same time saying that we ought to abandon
whatever is most essential to the assertion of our dignity, and_
the maintenance of our rights ? In vain is it contended that
the connivance of this government in the neutrality of Spain was
an acknowledgment 'of it. On the contrary, in every one of
his notes and conferences, Mr. Frere studiously reserved the
right of this country to go to war, and accurately distinguished
between temporary connivance and positive recognition. The
connivance too was conditional. It depended on the communi-




S94 MR. PIrf'S
[FEB. I


Cation of the treaty with France, on the discontinuance of all
naval armaments, and the prohibition of the sale of prizes in
Spanish ports. That the Spanish government were aware that
their neutrality was not recognized, is obvious from the discus-
sions which took place, and from their anxiety to learn what
were our intentions.


It appears that some mistake has occurred from the use of
the word convention, in some of the Spanish notes, as if there
had been a convention of neutrality between this country and
Spain. It is plain, however, that the word refers in most cases
to the convention with France; though, to be sure, it is not sur-
prising it should be thought that such a convention as that was,
could not be meant to be characterised as a convention of neu-
trality. And here, Sir, I may take notice of a circumstance that
escaped me in a former part of my speech. Let us consider
what proportion of the whole revenue of Spain the subsidy paid
to France forms. It will be found, I believe, that as the whole
revenue of Spain, for every purpose, is not estimated at more
than eight millions, the subsidy is between one third and one
half of its pecuniary resources. And is not that a strange sort
of neutrality, in which one power contributes near a half of its
whole annual revenue to another power, to carry on war against
a third? If the proportion of aid in a defensive treaty is a consi-
deration of great importance in deciding whether it is to be deem-
ed a violation of neutrality, surely the proportion of a pecuniary
commutation to the whole means of a state, is not to be held in-
different. Suppose, for instance, that Prussia or Austria were en-
gaged in a war with France, would it be considered a convention
of neutrality, if England were to stipulate and pay fifteen millions
to one of the belligerents ? And fifteen millions paid by Eng-
land probably forms no larger proportion of her means, than
three millions annually paid by Spain to France—and by a con-
vention so ridiculously described as a convention of neutrality !
It is evident, however, that M. d'Anduaga, who, in a note pre-
sented to this government, speaks of a convention of neutrality
of the 19th of October between Spain and England, is altogether


1805.3 PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 295


unacquainted with the progress and state of the negotiation. It
is clear, that no such treaty ever did exist, for if it had, would
M. Cevallos, in February and March, have talked of the under-
standing which prevailed on the subject, if they could at once
have settled the dispute by referring to the written document ?
But in my view of the subject, it would have been of little con-
sequence whether such a convention had existed or not. It is
manifest that it could have recognized the neutrality of Spain
only conditionally, and if the condition was violated, the neutra-
lity of course expired, and we should have- been placed in the
same right of war that belonged to us prior to its conclusion.
But still, though ministers were disposed to prolong their for-
bearance and lenity, no satisfaction was obtained as to the com-
munication of the treaty. Desirous, however, of affording every
facility, and removing every obstacle to an amicable arrange-
ment, it was resolved to recal Mr. Frere, in consequence of cir-
cumstances having occurred, that made it impossible for him any
longer to communicate personally with the Prince of Peace.
Upon the nature of that difference, which has no relation to the
present subject, it is not necessary for me to enlarge. In jus-
tice to Mr. Frere, however, I must say, that it arose without
any fault on his part, from a most unprovoked, unwarrant-
able conduct in that person, who, though without ostensible
office, is known to have the most leading influence in the coun-
cils of Spain. Nevertheless, much as ministers respected the
talents and were sensible of the services of that gentleman who
had so ably filled the place of ambassador to the court of Ma-
drid, during a difficult and critical period, they were determined
that no collateral obstacles should stand in the way of a friendly
termination of discussions, in which the public interest was so
much concerned. They had reasons of policy for not driving
matters precipitately to extremity, and reserving the right of
war, should circumstances demand its exercise, they continued
to leave an opening for conciliation and arrangement.


It was intended to send another gentleman to succeed Mr.Frere,
the latter returning home on leave of absence. The same vessel,




396
MR. PITT'S


[FEB. 11.


however, which brought Mr. Frere home on the 17th of Septem-
ber, brought letters from Admiral Cochrane, which proved in the
clearest manner the violation of that condition, on which the for-
bearance of His Majesty's government had particularly been
founded. That the clear and precise information communicated
by Admiral Cochrane, proved, that a violation of the condition on
which the neutrality of Spain was connived at, had been com-
mitted by the armaments in the port of Ferrol, and that it was
incumbent on government to act upon it, I think cannot be de-
nied. The dispatches of Admiral Cochrane pointed out many
important facts. The preparations in the ports of Spain were
collateral with the equipment of the French squadron and the
Dutch men of war : they happened at the moment when French
sailors and soldiers were conveyed through Spain to reinforce the
crews of the French ships ; the packets were armed as in time of
war. After our forbearance, so long founded on the express con-
dition, that no armaments were to be undertaken in the Spanish
ports, could the government of this country shut its eyes to an
armament begun in circumstances so suspicious ; or ought they
to have so far forgot their duty as to neglect the precautions which
the case demanded ? After Spain had been warned in what light
an armament would be viewed, and of the consequences to which
it would lead, what would have been thought of the vigour or
good sense of ministers, had they, on this occasion, taken no steps
in consequence of such information? What would have been
said if the enemy, joining their forces, had come out of Fer-
rol, and proved too strong for the squadron under Admiral
Cochrane ? though that I do not believe, notwithstanding any
difference of numerical strength, would have happened. What
would have been said, if the treasure-ships had arrived safe, and
replenished with dollars the coffers of Spain, to be placed at the
disposal of France, and employed for our destruction ? What
would have been said, had the Ferrol squadron proceeded to
any enterprise that would either have struck a blow at our in-
terests, or facilitated those plans which the enemy meditated
against this country ? If any of these things had happened,


1805.] PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES. 997


what defence could ministers urge this day for their negligence,
their weakness, and their pusillanimity ? I believe they would
have been universally and deservedly condemned, not only at
home, but in every quarter of Europe and the world, where
honourable, sound, and patriotic principles have still any influ-
ence on the views, wishes, and sentiments of mankind.


I cannot believe that any man in this nation would ever have
thought otherwise than with horror and detestation of the conti-
nuance of forbearance in such a posture of affairs; but if, con-
trary to my belief, there were majorities to applaud forbearance, I
declare to you, Sir, and to this House, that there is no censure
which I should not be proud to receive, rather than the praise
of men, who could applaud such forbearance, or could even
praise hesitation at