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OF THE FOURTH VOLUME,
IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, ON A MOTION FOR AN ADDRESS
TO HIS MAJESTY AT THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE SESSION OF PARLIAMENT, DELIVERED JANUARY 21, 1794.
THE ensuing speech is from one of those sagacious statesmen,* who, with Edmund Burke and William Pitt, early discerned and valiantly struggled against the march of the “anarch fiend,” that has since spread terrour and desolation over the fairest portions of the world, and which was prevented from raising its head of “ horrid portent” in England only, by the most steady, determined, and persevering resistance.
On the address, in answer to the king's speech at the opening of the session, an animated and well contested debate arose. The opposition, conformably to the policy which distinguished the whole of their parliamentary conduct with regard to French affairs, vehemently attacked that part of the address which pledged the house to a vigorous prosecution of the war till the objects of it were attained.
* Lord Mornington, now Marquis of Wellesley, late gor vernour general of Bengal.
As an amendment to the address, Mr. Fox moved, “ To recommend to his majesty to treat, as speedily as possible, for a peace with France upon safe and advantageous terms, without any reference to the nature or form of the government that might exist in that country.”
Lord Mornington in the present speech, displays a very minute knowledge of the subject, and sometimes eloquence of the highest order.
He draws an exact and full length picture of the genius and tendency of the French revolution, and shows from the characters, the dispositions, and the interests of those who then exercised the powers of government, and from the nature of the system they had established, that peace on secure and honourable terms was impracticable. The minister, Mr. Pitt, pursued the same course, but unfortunately, fragments only of his speech are preserved.
“ We are called on, he said, to witness in the present age the political and moral phenomenon of a mighty and civilized people formed into an artificial horde of banditti ; ; throwing off all the restraints which have influenced them in social life, displaying a savage valour directed by a sanguinary spirit, organizing rapine and destruction into a system, and perverting to their detestable purposes, all the talents and ingenuity which they derived from their advanced stage of civilization, all the refinements of art, and the discoveries of science. We behold them uniting the utmost savageness and ferocity of design, with consum mate contrivance and skill in execution, and seemingly engaged in no less than a conspiracy to exterminate from the face of the earth all honour, humanity, justice, and religion. In this state can there be any question but to resist where resistance alone can be effectual, till such time, as by the blessings of Providence on our endeavours, we shall have secured the independence of this country, and the general interests of Europe !”
The amendment was negatived by an immense majority
IF the present conjuncture of our affairs afforded us a free option between war and peace; if the neces. sity which originally compelled us to engage in the present contest had ceased, and the question for our deliberation on this day were merely, whether we should return to the secure and uninterrupted enjoyment of a flourishing commerce, of an overflowing revenue, of tranquil liberty at home, and of respect and honour abroad; or whether, on the other hand, we should wantonly commit to the doubtful chance of arms all those accumulated blessings; no man could hesitate one moment in deciding on such an alternative. To us more especially no other guide would be necessary than our own recent experience. Within our own memory, the country has passed with such rapid steps from the lowest state of adversity to the utmost degree of opulence, splendour, and power, that all our minds must be furnished with whatever useful lessons are to be drawn from either fortune. We all know, and have felt; what may be lost by the calamities of war, and what may be gained by a wise improvement of the advantages of peace. But whether I revert to the grounds and origin of this war, whether I look forward to the probable issue of the contest, or fix my attention on the inevitable effects of any attempt to abandon it in the present crisis, my judgment is driven to the painful but irresistible conclusion, that no such alternative is now before us. Our choice must now be made between the vigorous prosecution of our present exertions, and an ambiguous state neither of open hostility, nor of real repose; a state in which we should suffer most of the inconveniences of war, in which we should enjoy none of the solid advantages of peace, in which, even if we could purchase at the expense of our honour and of our faith, a short respite from the direct attacks of the enemy, we could never for