« AnteriorContinuar »
which, he seemed lo he in no doubt. Thi* question, he laid, was, whether we were- to permit the navy of oar enemy to be supplied and recruited r whether we were to suffer blockaded sorts to be furnished with stores and provisions? whether we were to suffer neutral nations, by hoisting a flagon a sloop ora fishing-boat, to convey the treasures of South America to Spain, or the na»»! stores of the Baltic to Brest or Toulon? Were these the proposition* that gentlemen meant to confend for? They talked of the destruction os the naval power of France; but could it really be believed, that her marine would have been decreased to the degree that it now was reduced, if, during the whole os the war, the principle now contended for had not been acted en? If her commerce had not been destroyed, if the fraudulent (\stem of neutrals had not been prevented, would not her navy have been in a very dissc-rent situation from that in which it now was?
A* to what had been said on oilier topic*, of the (ensures which ought to be cast on ministers for the counsel they had any jhare in giving for the prosecution of the war, he had the consolation of knowing what these were likely so be, from a recollection os what they had repeatecHv been. They would most probably be put in the lame way, and woald admit os being anlwered in "the lame way as they had already been answered, as often a< they had been brought forward.
The Solicitor-general observed, that the honourable mover of the amendment Irnd told the house that they were in a situation os difficulty and danger, which required vigpjr, sjxerrion, and promptitude; yet,
that he proposed doubt, hesitation, and inquiry. He was really amazed, when he reflected on the origin and progress of those doubls, which now leemed to exist, respecting the question in dispute between this country and the nations of she north. Before the confederacy recently concluded between Russia, Sweeten, and Denmark, was actually executed, no man in that house, he was fully certain, had she subject been brought into discussion, would have uttered a doubt upon it. The doubts of Mr. Grey, he apprehended, were not the effect of investigation or calm inquiry. They were offered merely as an argument against the address, and suggested by his fears; a species of reasoning that was calculated to produce indecision, to throw a damp on the spirit of the country, and to encourage the hopes of our enemies — The hesitation he recommended, would he a victory to the coalesced powers, as it would give them lime and opportunity to collect and invigorate the means nocessm to maintain their unjust and extraordinary pretensions. His K-arned friend (Dr. Lawrence) seemed to him to have much mistaken the tenor and purport os the address. We must not, (bid the learned doctor, pledge ourselves lo support his mnjesty in a system of warsaie, into which there is, perhips, no ablolute neceslity to cnlcr; but the address requiredno such pledge: it merely stated the readiness of the house to co-operate with his majesty in defending our claims, sliould the northern powers persist in (heir plans ot aggression. His honourable Irier.d would not recommend a pusillanimous surrender of a right, so essential to our existence as a maritime state, from any consideration ot' circumstance*. [E 3 J Never Never had a case occurred, in which, by act or treaty, we had abandoned the claim os searching neutral bottoms for enemies property. By the existing treaties between this country and the states of Denmark and Sweden, it would he fraud in them to convey enemies goods; but the convention which Denmark avowed to have signed, asserted that right: this, therefore, was a departure from treaty, and an act of hostility. The convention allowed, indeed, the right of search, and confiscation of what was called contraband goods, though the advocates of that convention contended against any search whatever; but the solicitor-general contended, that is we Humid consent to any modification of our rights, the next step of the powers engaged in that convention, in obedience to the advice of their philosophical advocates, would be to insist, that all kinds of property on board merchant-Hups, should be protected from detention, and free from search. The whole of that pretension would be most assuredly advanced, for the present distinction of pontrabaiul was artificial. There was no such distinction, correctly speaking. All articles designed for, and conducive to, the advantage of our enemy, were inadmissible to he freely conveyed, and therefore contraband. If preposterous distinctions between one kind of goods and another were once admitted, the next step would be, that we could not take our enemies goods. It would be contended, that the intercourse of merchants ought not, on any account, to be interrupted. "Against whom, then," laid the solicitor, " are we to make war? Why, against a metaphysical being called the state, as if the state were
any thing but the aggregate of the people." We attack their property, in order to reduce the resources of the state, which derives from them all its vigour. And if it was allowed that we have a right to rapture the enemy's property at all, why should that right be done away, and the property be protected, because it was enclosed in a piece os wood? On the interpretation of that prin» ciple, Grotius did not conceive it possible that there should ariseany doubt. Dr. Lawrence had (aid, that, it the northern powers had entered into a confederacy against England, they had received much provocation. If such cases os grievance had been introduced into the inferior courts, the parties could have been redressed by an appeal to the proper tribunal. They had the security os the BritiHi character for a strictly upright and fair decision ; but, whatever that decision might have been, no nation would be justified in arming, in consequence os the decree of an admiralty court, without previous application to the state by whom that court was appointed. As lo the policy of our ministry in not directly resisting, but for a time giving way to the combination of 1780, we now felt the ill effects of that policy. A similar compromise of our rights would, perhaps, expose us to some still greater evil on a suture day. Had the pretension of the armed neutrality been resisted then, we should not now be disturbed by the repetition os it; but, he admitted, that the circumstances of the country in 1780 were different from what they are now.
With regard to the exemption of convoys, he considered this as an absurdity. The faith of a state might be pledged that no enemy's goudj.
1 on board; but that could not be pledged. When a state granted passport*, it could only take the affidavit* of the parties. The captor, in b« seairh, might find many article? not specified in those affidavits. Toe papers the captain mutt hove on board, describing the good* on hoard, and the destination os the ship, might enable the captor to come at particular*, seldom communicated to the state which granted tbe passports, therefore a convoy oogfit to be no protection. As to plunging into war precipitately, deprecated by his learned friend, administration had not been Ibrward to take hostile measure*, not until an application to the northern courts had produced an explicit avoA-al of ibeir purposes. So soon as we understood that a convention ivas signed, which we had every realon to think hostile to our right* and interests, we had put ourselves in a posture to be prepared against the contequer.ee*—consequences which were pointed at our maritime luperisjritv and existence (long the la▼ounte and avowed object of French ambition), and, of course, against our national existence: against (uch consequences we had put ourselves in a posture to be prepared. We were only guarding ourselves against the determinations we had observed. Th«f pretension* os the northern confederacy might not be pulhed to the extent apprehended; if so, hostilities woutd not ensue: at all events, measures ought to be taken for security.
The solicitor-general having thus established the justice of our claims, and the necessity of asserting and maintaining them, thought it necessary, before he fat down, to make skjtne observation* on the general
tone and tendency of the speech, by which the amendment was introduced. Among other strictures, he' asked, whether we ought, deliberately, to lay plans for frustrating our own hopes? To labour U> di(hearten and disunite those on whose union and courage our safety wholly depended? What could gentlemen propose or promise to themselves by holding out to view t lie most gloomy and exaggerated pictures of our situation? What could be their aim in this strange display and application os their eloquence? Could the reputation of being thought clever outwe:gh all regard to their stake in the state? Supposing that they slionld completely succeed in persuading the people lo distrust their government, their strength, and their resources, and to admire and dread the enemv with whom we had to contend, whit advance would they have made towards bettering our condition, towards increasing our strength, and improving our security? Were gentlemen afraid that we should be led, by a generous enthusiasm, to exert ourselves in the public cause, beyond what might be perlectly consistent with our individual interests? Was that so much the bent and temper of mankind, that prudent philosophers thought it necessary to interpose their salutary admonitions, lest a disinterested public spirit should acquire too powerful an ascendant' Was it for that purpose that honourable gentlemen thought themselves called upon, in, policy and in prudence, to endeavour to draw oss the attention of a large portion of the people Irom the dangers that threatened their country, tothe evils that threatened themselves?" I do not fee," laid the solicitor, '* how, by dipicting those [E +] evil*;
s evils in the gloomiest colours we, in any wav, contribute to their alleviation. I with to God that all the upper classes of life would display the lame sober fortitude that has characterized the lower orders ot the community. They have real ami lerious evils to struggle with and to endure. There are thole who are obliged to talk their imaginations for lubjects of complaint, which, if they would confess the honest truth, never broke in on one moment os their repose, or robbed them of one moment of their t-njovments. Yet, not contented with giving vent to their own mock lamentations, they are angry that those who really suffered mould shew any degree of patience under their sufferings, and should not be readv to break out into insurrection against that government which was exerting its ut moil endeavours for their relief."—-:Thc important cjueilion of
the principle of the northern confederaev, the great and leading question in the counsels and conduct of nations at this time, was agitated in this session, on several occasions, again- and again. It was discussed with so much precision, perspicuity, soliditv.andgood (ense,byMr.Granr, on the motion for an amendment to the address, that we have-judged it proper lo give more room to his reasoning, than it is permit ted by our limits to give to most speeches in parliament, because it will prevent the necessity of our entering again jnto the subsequent debates on that subject. On a division os the house, the amendment was. rejected bv 2ki against 63. The original motion for an address was carried without a division, and having been carried through the usual stages of bills apd resolutions, was presented to |is, majesty on the Hh qs February.
THAT event which, to the eye os a Briton, appeared the molt prominent at this time, in the fluffing; scene ot" European politics and war, and which, of all that pasted witiicot (lie British empire, was noticed first in his majefu's speech irom the throne, we lhnuM now proceed to relate, if it were not necesiary, in t!ie first r.lace, to conclude nur narrative os the gr<-at affair* os IMIO, in the loath of Europe: by which the formation and the progress o* the northern confederacy against the maritime claims of Britain were so much influenced.
Inordertoimproxe disadvantage gained bv the great victory at Hobenlindcn, on the 3d of December, JboO, general Moreau, keeping his face toward* the capital ol the Austrian dominions, pushed on with the greatest rapidity to Saltaburgh: by tbe occupancy of which poll, he would double in the Tyrol, cut off from the main army of the imperialms in Germany the corpi employ
ed in (lie valley of the Inn, from Kosteen, ns far as the Engadine, menace the direct roads from Vienna to Italv, and, with the co-operation of the army under general Brune, if it fliouid be victorious, of which no doubt was entertained, on the Adige and the Mincio, drive the Austrians into Hungary. In his route to Saltzburgh it was necessary to pals two rivers; which enabled the retreating Austrians to retard his march, and, in lome degree, to weaken his force, by a vigorous resistance. These were the Inn and the Salza. The Inn, rising in the country of the GriIons, and pasting through Tyrol and Bavaria, falls into tne Danulie near Pastaw. The bed ol this river is deep, its current rapid, and its right bank, from the Alps to its junction with the Danube, fortified by ach'iin of rocks. It was considered by the marshal Turenne as one of Ihe strongest military barriers in Europe. The Salza, though neither so large nor quite so rapid as