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Conftitution of France. Disolution of the Convention. Treaty of Commerce figned between Great Britain and America. Defensive Treaty between Great Britain and Rusia. Sefion of Parliament held in Corsica. Petitions from the Cities of London, York, Norwich, &c. again the War. Disturbances in the City of Westminster. PopGun Plot revived. Popular Meetings attended by valt Multitudes at Chalk Farm, GC.
T the conclusion of the year 1794, the French, after repelling with heroic courage the early attack of the allied powers upon their northern frontier, found themselves in the poffeffion of the whole of Flanders and Brabant. The Austrians were driven by them, with dreadful slaughter, across the Meuse, and the English and Dutch beyond the Waal ; and they only waited for the setting-in of the frost, to pass the great rivers into the territory of the United Provinces. On the side of Germany they had conquered the three ecclefiaftical electorates of Mentz, Treves, and Cologne ; the principality of Liege; the duchies of Cleves, Juliers, and Deux-Ponts; the bishoprics of Spires and Worms ; the far greater part of the dominions of the elector-palatine ; and, in general, all the Hither Germany bounded by the Rhine. On the side of Italy they occupied the duchy of Savoy and a great part of Piedmont, the city and county of Nice, and the principality of Monaco. On that of Spain, the greater part of the frontier provinces of Biscay and Catalonia, with their ports, cities, magazines, arsenals, and founderies. The Spanish armies had been defeated in many bloody fuccessive contests ; no military force could now be collected in any degree competent to encounter the republican troops in the field; and the Catholic king, trembling upon his throne, seemed already to anticipate the horrors of an approaching revolution. The territories subdued by the arms of the republic were
computed to contain thirteen millions of inhabitants : and in twenty-seven pitched battles, besides an innumerable multitude of inferior actions, they had flain 80,000 of their enemies, and taken more than 90,000 prisoners ; also immense quantities of ammunition and stores, with 3,800 pieces of cannon.
On the 30th of December, 1794, the parliament of Great Britain was convened, when the monarch, whose natural beneficence of disposition and undeviating rectitude of intention were rendered wholly unavailing by the evil counsels of men, untaught by experience, and now grown obftinate in error, hesitated not to inform the two houses, « that, notwithstanding the disappointments and reverses which the allied armies had experienced in the course of the last campaign, he retained a firm conviction of the necessity of perlisting in a vigorous prosecution of the just and neceffary war in which the nation was engaged."-By way of encouragement to his faithful parliament, nevertheless, his majesty was pleased to remark, “ that, in considering the fituation of their enemies, they would not fail to observe that the efforts which had led to their successes, and the unexampled means by which alone those efforts could have been supported, have produced among themselves the pernicious effects which were to be expected ; and that every thing which had passed in the interior of the country had shown the progressive and rapid decay of their resources, and the instability of every part of that violent and unnatural system, which is equally ruinous to France and incompatible with the tranquillity of other nations."-His majesty farther declared, “ that he should omit no opportunity of concerting the operations of the next campaign with such of the powers of Europe as were impresled with the same sense of the necellity of vigor and exertion. He mentioned his acceptance of the crown and sovereignty of Corsica ; he announced to them the happy event of the marriage of his son, the prince of Wales, with the princess
Caroline, daughter of the duke of Brunswic; and he concluded with expressing his confident hope, that, under the protection of PROVIDENCE, and with constancy and perseverance on our part, the principles of social order, of mörclity and religion, would ultimately be successful; and that his faithful people would be rewarded for their present exertions and sacrifices by the deliverance of Europe from the greatest danger with which it had been threatened since the establishment of civilized society."
Addresses being brought forward, in the usual style of complaisance, an amendment was proposed in the house of peers by the earl of Guildford, who, at the close of a specch of excellent sense and found reasoning, moved “ that his majesty be requested and advised by that house to take the earliest means of securing a peace, and that no obstacle might arise from the nature of the French government. Holland,” his lordship affirmed, “could only be saved by a peace : and he urged the impracticability of attaining what appeared to be the present object of the war, the dictating of a government to France. In military operations, and in political negotiations, the ministry had equally failed; and, as he had never been satisfied of the wisdom of entering into the war, he could not now admit the necellity of perfevering in it.”—The marquis of Lansdown declared, “ that he could see no difficulty in treating with France at the present period, and adverted with contempt. to the old and hacknied objection that there was no power existing there to treat with.. When persons wanted to make up a quarrel, when there was a fincere defire for reconciliation on both sides, the means of effecting it would always be found. France, amidst all its change of parties, had not falsified its engagements, fince the revolution, with any foreign state.” The amendment was, after a fpirited debate, rejected by a majority of 107 to 12 voices only.
The debate on the same subject, in the house of commons, cxcited ftill more of the public attention. No fooner was the address read, than Mr. Wilberforce, an intimate friend of the minister, and who had hitherto warmly supported him in all his measures, rose and objected to it, as pledging the house to prosecute the war till there was a counter-revolution in France. He observed, " that there was nothing in his majesty's speech in the least pacificatory; although the Jacobine system, so hoftile to this country, was destroyed, and there appeared an assumption at least of moderation on the part of the new rulers of that country. The confederacy against France also was now diffolved, and her internal disorders appeased. How thien could we conquer a people who had resisted with such success, when affailed by the combined force of Europe from without, and when distracted with insurrections from within ? The retrospect of our affairs was bad, but the prospect before us was still worse. Like the waves of the ocean, the armies of France seem rapidly overthrowing every thing that stands in their way. Regardless of flighter differences, they look merely to the Convention, and thought themselves bound to adhere to what they perceived would alone keep the country together. This circumstance it was which had first staggered his opinion with relation to the probability of ultimate success in this contest. well aware of the impossibility of forcing a government apon France, when France was united in opinion and in act; and he ferupled not to add, that, though a friend to monarchy, he did not thixk that a monarchy would be the fittest form of government for France, in present circumstances, as the current of prejudice set so strongly against it.-Mr. Wilberforce said, he did not think the country would be at all debased by a declaration for peace. True magnanimity consisted in acting with propriety under every circumstance, refolutely determining to change the mode of conduct whenever it is required by an alteration in the
state of affairs. Those who thought it so easy to effect a counter-revolution in France should recollect that revolutionary principles had now been fix years prevalent in that country, and that a new generation was rising up who had been educated in and familiarized to them. Equitable proposals for a negotiation would at all events be beneficial to this kingdom. If rejected, every person would unite with government in carrying on with vigor what would then be a just and necessary war.” Mr. Wilberforce concluded a speech, candid from its acknowledgment of error, and impressive because it applied itself to the common sense and common feelings of his auditors, with moving an amendment to the address similar in purport to that of the earl of Guildford. In these sentiments he was supported very strongly by several most respectable independent members of the house, who had hitherto voted with administration. Mr. Bankes said,
the expectation of overturning the French republic was, in his opinion, absurd ; and if we were not to treat with France till the overthrow of that kind of government, the war might continue for ever.”—Sir Richard Hill strongly recommended peace; or, if that were unattainable, at least the withdrawment of our troops from the continent. The object of the continental war had been stated in one wordSECURITY. If it were asked what had we gained by that war, short as had been the period of its duration, it might be, answered in one word -RUIN."
Mr. Pitt arose in visible emotion to vindicate the language and sentiments contained in the address; and, in the course of a florid and plausible speech, put in practice all his insidious arts to make the worse appear the better reason, and thus, at the critical moment of resolve, to perplex and dath matureft counsels.
“ His majesty's speech," Mr. Pitt affirmed, “ did not pledge the house never to make peace with the republican government of France, though he had no idea of a no idea of a secure peace .till