Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

CHAP. LXXVI.

Proceedings in Parliament-Declaration respecting America - East India Bill

Catholic question-Miscellaneous business Military measures preparatory to the ensuing Campaign.

[ocr errors]

N the 24th of November, the house in consequence of the approaching expira

of lords baving assembled, a com- tion of the East India company's charter. 1812.

mission was appointed for the new It adverted to the late disturbances in

parliament. The attendance of the the manufacturing districts, and, after excommons was then requested, the com- pressing a hope that atrocities so repugmission was read, and they proceeded to nant to the British character would never elect Mr. Abbot for their speaker. On recur, ended with the usual declaration the 30th, the prince regent came to the of confidence in the wisdom of parliament house of lords in state, and delivered a and the loyalty of the people.

In the speech from the throne. After touching debates on the address, lord Wellesley, in on his majesty's lamented indisposition, conformity with his former declarations, and the diminished hopes of his recovery, accused the ministers of having caused the his royal bigbvess adverted to the suc- protraction of the war in Spain by the cesses in the peninsula, under the conduct timidity and weakness of their conduct. of lord Wellington, and their final good He characterized their system as timid effects, notwithstanding his retreat from without prudence, and narrow without Burgos, and the evacuation of Madrid. economy, profuse without splendor, and He then mentioned the restoration of peace slow without the benefits of caution. Lord and friendship with the courts of Russia Liverpool observed, in reply, that it was and Stockholm, and spoke in terms of extremely easy for the noble lord to sit eology of the resistance made by Russia down in his closet and wish for or imagine . to the arms of the invaders, auguring a a particular effort of any given magnitude, happy termination of the contest. He endeavored to prove by various statements, informed parliament of a supplementary that all had been done to which the re- , treaty concluded with his Sicilian majesty, sources of the country were equal, and lamented the commencement of hostilities asserted that no request had been made with America, and noticed the defeat of by lord Wellington which had been rethe attempts against Canada. He ex- . fused. A similar line of argument was pressed his sincere desire for the restora- adopted in the lower house by lord Castletion of peace; but until this object should reagh and Mr. Canning; and Mr. Whitbe obtained, relied on their support for a bread, after ridiculing the high-wrought vigorous prosecution of the war. The descriptions and sanguine expectations conclusion of the speech recommended an of those who preceded hiin, proposed an early consideration of a provision for the amendment to the address, recomiending early government of the Indian provinces, to his royal highness the prince regent, in

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the present state of affairs when no dis- British people, that £110,000 were col. honorable object could be imputed to lected by subscription in addition to the

Great Britain, Russia, or France, parliañentary grant. After several finan1812.

the commencement of overtures cial discussions and arrangements, the two for the general pacification of Europe. houses adjourned for the Christmas recess. The original address was voted without a The day after the reassemblage of pardivision.

liament lord Castlereagh presentment to On the 10th of December lord Folk- the house of commons, the papers

relative stone rose in the house of coinnions, to to the discussions with America on the call the attention of the house to an im- subject of the French decrees, and the portant subject. He had in the last ses- orders of council, together with the followsion complained of an infraction of the ing declaration from the prince regent, reJaw by the employment of foreign of- specting the origin and causes of the war ficers in the British army, and a return had with America. been ordered which was incomplete as it only contained those at home and not

DECLARATION. those on foreign-service. His lordship then adverted to an order in the Gazette, The earnest endeavors of the prince relative to German officers which stated regent to preserve the relations of peace that in consideration of their services, par- and amity with the United States of Ameticularly at the battle of Salamanca, they rica having unfortunately failed, his royal should receive, instead of temporary, per- highness, acting in the name and on the manent rank in the army. This appeared behalf of his majesty, deems it proper pubto him an attempt to introduce permanently licly to declare the causes and origin of the and for ever in our army those officers who war, in which the government of the Uniwere, under an act of parliament, serving ted States has compelled him to engage. only in a temporary way. Lord Palmer- No desire of conquest, or other ordinary ston observed, that the arguments of the motive of aggression, has been, or can be noble lord were founded on misconception. with any colour of reason, in this case, Temporary and permanent rank in the imputed to Great Britain : that her comarmy were terms that merely designated mercial interests were on the side of peace, two different services. Permanent rank if war could have been avoided, without meant the ordinary rank and promotion of the sacrifice of her maritiine rights, or the arıny.. Temporary rank signified an without any injurious submission to France, exception, and was generally given to those is a truth which the American governinent who raised men for rank, and for other will not deny. reasons which occasioned the grant of His royal highness does not, however, these high commissions. All these officers, mean to rest on the favorable presumption, however, were serving ụnder a law which to which he is entitled. He is prepared declared a limit to their services, and when by an exposition of the circuinstances the operation of the law ceased, the com- which have led to the present war, to show mission must fall to the ground with that that Great Britain has throughout acted act in which they originated. Their honors towards the United States of America with and titles would still be retained, and their a spirit of amity, forbearance, and concili. names would remain for the encourage- ation ; and to demonstrate the inadmissible ment of others, on the list of permanent nature of those pretensions which have at and ordinary rank. The discussion on

The discussion on length unhappily involved the two countries lord Folkestone's inquiries was succeeded in war. by a vote of £200,000 to his majesty, to It is well known to the world, that it has be applied to the relief of the Russian suf- been the invariable object of the ruler of Jerers, au object which so powerfully ex- France to destroy the power and indepenejted the sympathy of every class of the dence of the British empire, as the chief

[ocr errors]

obstacle to the accomplishment of his am- endeavored in vain to rest her justification bitious designs.

upon the previous conduct of his majesty's He first conteniplated the possibility of government. assembling such a naval force in the chan- Under circumstances of unparalleled nel as, combined with a numerous flotilla, provocation, his majesty had abstained should enable him to disembark in England from any measure which the ordinary rules an army sufficient, in his conception, to of the law of nations did not fully warrant. subjugate this country; and through the Never was the maritime superiority of a conquest of Great Britain he hoped to belligerent over his enemy more complete realize his project of universal empire. and decided. Never was the opposite

By the adoption of an enlarged and belligerent so formidably dangerous in his provident system of internal defence, and power, and in his policy, to the liberties by the valor of his majesty's fleets and of all other nations. France had already armies, this design was entirely frustrated ; trampled so openly and systematically and the naval force of France, after the on the most sacred rights of neutral powers, most signal defeats, was compelled to retire as might well have justified the placing from the ocean.

her out of the pale of civilized nations. An attempt was then made to effectuate Yet in this extreme case, Great Britain the same purpose by other means; a system had so used her naval ascendency, that was brought forward, by which the ruler her enemy could find no just cause of of France hoped to annihilate the com- complaint : and in order to give to these merce of Great Britain, to shake her public lawless decrees the appearance of retaliacredit, and to destroy her revenue ; to tion, the ruler of France was obliged to render useless her maritime superiority, advance principles of maritime law unand to avail himself of his continental sanctioned by any other authority than his ascendency, as to constitute himself in own arbitrary will. a great measure the arbiter of the ocean, The pretexts for these decrees were, notwithstanding the destruction of his first, that Great Britain had exercised the fleets.

rights of war against private persons, their With this view, by the decree of Berlin, ships, and goods; as if the only object followed by that of Milan, he declared the of legitimate hostility on the ocean were British territories to be in a state of block- the public property of a state, or as if the ade ; and that all cominerce, or even cor- edicts and the courts of France itself had respondence, with Great Britain was pro- had not at all times enforced this right with hibited. He decreed that every vessel peculiar rigor ; secondly, that the British and cargo, which had entered, or was found orders of blockade, instead of being conproceeding to a British port, or which, fined to 'fortified towns, had, as France under any circumstances, had been visited asserted, been unlawfully extended to by a British ship of war, should be lawful commercial towns and ports, and to the prize: he declared all British goods and mouths of rivers ; and thirdly, that they produce, wherever found, and however had been applied to places, and to coasts, acquired, whether coming from the mother which neither were, nor could be actually country or from her colonies, subject to blockaded. The last of these charges is confiscation : he further declared to be not founded on fact; whilst the others, denationalized, the flag of all neutral ships even by the admission of the American that should be found offending against government, are utterly groundless in point these his decrees : and he gave to this pro- of law. ject of universal tyranny, the name of the Against these decrees, his majesty procontinental system.

tested and appealed ; he called upon the For these attempts to ruin the commerce United States to assert their own rights, of Great Britain, by means subversive of and to vindicate their independence, thus the clearest rights of neutral nations, France menaced and attacked; and as France

4 B

VOL. II.

}ad declared, that she would confiscate justly the same measure of resentment every vessel which should touch in Great to the aggressor, and to the party aggrieved, Britain, or be visited by British ships of they adopted measures of commercial rewar, his majesty, having previously issued sistance against both a systein of resistthe order of January, 1807, as an act of ance, which, however, varied in the sucinitigated retaliation, was at length com- cessive acts of embargo, non-intercourse, pelled, by the persevering violence of the or non-importation, was evidently unequal enemy, and the continued acquiescence in its operation, and principally levelled of neutral powers, to revisit upon France, against the superior commerce and maritiino 19 a more effectual manner, the measure power of Great Britain. of her own injustice; by declaring, in an The same partiality towards France was order in council, bearing date the 11th of observable in their negotiations, as in their November, 1807, that no neutral vessel measures of alleged resistance. should proceed to France, or to any of Application was made to both belligethe countries from which, in obedience to rents for a revocation of their respective the dictates of France, British commerce edicts ; but the terms in which they were was excluded, without first touching at a made, were widely different. port in Great Britain or her dependencies. Of France was required a revocation At the same time his majesty intimated his only of the Berlin and Milan decrees, alreadiness to repeal the orders in council, though many other edicts, grossly violating whenever France should rescind her de- the neutral commerce of the United States, crees, and return to the accustomed prin- had been promulgated by that power. No ciples of maritime warfare; and at a sub- security was demanded, that the Berlin sequent period, as a proof of his majesty's and Milan decrees, eveu if revoked, should sincere desire to accommodate, as far as not under some other form be re-establishpossible, his defensive measures to the ed : and a direct engagement was offered, , convenience of neutral powers, the opera- that upon such revocation, the American tion of the orders in council was, by an government would take part in the war order issued in April, 1809, limited to a against Great Britain, if Great Britain did blockade of France, and of the countries not immediately rescind her orders: whereas subjected to her immediate dominion. no corresponding engagement was offered

Systems of violence, oppression, and tu Great Britain, of whom it was required, tyranny, can never be suppressed, or even not only that the orders in council should checked, if the power against which such be repealed, but that no others of a similar injustice is exercised, be debarred from pature should be issued, and that the the right of full and adequate retaliation: blockade of May, 1806, should be also or, if the measures of the retaliating power abandoned. This blockade, established are to be considered as matters of just and enforced according to accustomed offence to neutral nations, whilst the mea- practice, had not been objected to by the sures of original aggression and violence are United States at the time it was issued. to be tolerated with indifference, submis. Its provisions were, on the contrary, resion, or complacency.

presented by the American minister resiThe government of the United States dent in London at the time, to have been did not fail to remonstrate against the so framed, as to afford in his judgment, a orders in council of Great Britain. Although proof of the friendly disposition of the they knew 'that these orders would be re- British cabinet towards the United States. voked, if the decrees of France, which had Great Britain was thus called upon to occasioned them, were repealed, they re- abandon one of her most important mari. solved at the same moment to resist the time rights, by acknowledging the order of conduct of both belligerents, instead of blockade in question, to be one of the edicts requiring France in the first instance to which violated the commerce of the United rescind her decrees. Applying most un. States, although it had never beeu 60

« PoprzedniaDalej »