Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

HISTORY OF EUROPE,

1816.

CHAP. I.

Opening of the Session of Parliament.-Debates on the Address, and on the

Treaties concluded with Foreign Powers in 1815.- Motion for the production of the Christian Treaty." -Financial Exposition by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The peace of Europe being once, rials of a too military nation, that again established, and the attention of firebrand which had before been pluck. speculative, as well as of active men ed from its position by the united among us being released, in some strength of Russia, Germany, and measure, from the contemplation of England. The people were prepared external affairs, the opening of parlia. to congratulate the government, by the ment was this year expected by the mouths of their representatives, upon people of England with a well-ground the happy termination, to which a just, ed confidence, that the wisdom of the because a necessary, war had in so legislative bodies would be immediate- brief a space been conducted; but ly directed to the repair and alleviation they were chiefly anxious to see the of those dilapidations and distresses parliament re-assembled, by reason of which had been inflicted upon the re- the hopes which they built on the isFenue, and upon a very large part of sue of those interrupted investigations, the population of the empire, in con- which had for their object the imsequence of the unequalled exertions provement of our domestic revenue to which our country had been so and polity-more particularly, the relong exposed. Deliberations of such lief of those classes of the community, a nature, begun during the last ses. to whose share, as was universally felt sion, had been at once forgotten and and regretted, an unequal pressure of dismissed in the tumult of that mo. the national burden had fallen. That mentary and almost miraculous revo the public expectation was not disaplation, which had expelled the French pointed, will be seen in the history of king from the throne to which he the busy and laborious session which had so lately been restored, and re- ensued. placed, amidst the combustible mate Parliament assembled on the 1st of February, and the speech was deliver. House of Lords by the Marquis of ed by commission. The principal to. Huntly. This nobleman, after compic was very naturally the splendid menting in general terms on the splennature of the public exertions of Great did state of our external relations, Britain in the preceding year, and the went on to state that the country, in happy prospect of a permanent peace the course of its long and arduous among the continental nations, arising contest, had been subjected to many out of the speedy and glorious success heavy burdens and privations that with which these exertions had been these it would be the business of the crowned. The commercial treaty con- Prince Regent's ministers to alleviate cluded with the United States of Ame- as far as circumstances would allow rica, and the results of the war in Cey- -and that he had no doubt in this lon, and on the continent of India, were as in all other respects, whatever permentioned as affording additional cause sons in their situation could do for for congratulation. His Royal High. the public benefit would be done by ness had given orders, that copies of them. Parliament, likewise, would, the different treaties should be laid be- he trusted, unite its endeavours with fore parliament, and confidently trust those of the Prince and his ministers ed that their stipulations would receive to promote the welfare of the agriculunmingled approbation. The convul. tural and commercial classes of the sions which had agitated the Euro, community, that so, if possible, there pean states had been such, as it would might not remain one heavy heart in the be seen, that measures of precaution of British dominions. Lord Calthorp, no ordinary character had been deem- in seconding the address, enlarged uped indispensable by the allies. In on the liberal and unselfish character these measures, from a sense of their of the measures which the allies had justice and sound policy, his Royal adopted. “ These," said he, “ had Highness had concurred, and he had no not been directed by any narrow views doubt that parliament, regarding them of local interests ; they had proceeded in the same view, would willingly lend on the largest scale, and aimed at the their co-operation for carrying them most extensive objects. This,” coninto effect. The speech concluded tinued he, “ was a sort of pledge that with expressions of gratitude for that proper caution would be observed in wisdom and firmness of the British providing for the future tranquillity of parliament and people, to which, un- Europe. He was induced to cherish der providence, his Royal Highness this hope the more froin the spirit of considered himself as indebted for all forbearance which, in a peculiar manthe advantages with which his counsels ner, had characterized the counsels, and arms had been crowned ; of his and even the armies of our own counresolutiou to preserve, by the justice try, changing, as it were, those who and moderation of his conduct, the usually were the instruments of venhigh character which the country had geance into guardians of liberty and every where obtained and of hope repose ; as if it had been intended to that the same internal union and con- show the country, that our moderafidence which had enabled us to sur. tion in peace was as unrivalled as had mount so many dangers, might still been our perseverance in war." continue to strengthen our prosperity, · These sentiments were not shared and prolong the tranquillity of Eu. and expressed by the usual supporters fope.

of administration alone, Lord GrenThe address was moved in the ville, as he had approved the vigorous

measures adopted by government in which we are called this night to the preceding year, so now he cordial. come to a vote ; and I should have ly congratulated them upon the happy been wanting in justice to my own successes to which these measures had feelings, if I had not so far obtruded led. “ It gives me sincere pleasure," myself upon the notice of the House said he, “ to find, that there is not a (however unnecessarily with reference single word in the speech from the to the decision), as to request its atthrone which does not meet with my tention to the sentiments I have just most hearty concurrence; and I trust expressed." that the address which has been moved. The Marquis of Lansdown was in consequence of it, will meet the una. equally cordial in his congratulations ; nimous approbation of this House. but he expressed some anxiety, that, Under such circumstances, I should by concurring with the very general think it scarcely necessary to trouble terms of the address, he might not be your lordships, did I not feel that it supposed to give any opinion with rewas a duty incumbent upon us all to spect to papers not yet laid before parexpress our joy and gratitude to Provi- liament. Lord Liverpool relieved his dence, that the new war, in which we lordship from any idea of this nature : were so unexpectedly and so unwil- and, with the exception of Lord Hol. lingly involved, and the result of which land alone, (who asserted that the rea for some time, and to some minds, ap. storation of King Louis had been unpeared so doubtful, has terminated in warrantably effected by means of fo. a success unexampled in the annals of reign arms, and that, therefore, the the world. Such a triumph cannot whole of the measures which had terfail to excite the most vivid emotions minated in that event were worthy of of joy and gratitude in my breast ; condemnation, not applause from the joy, that the calamities of war, at British senate), the address was una. which we all shuddered, have been nimously agreed to--a rare and pleam concluded-gratitude, that the bless- sing omen of harmony in the public ings of peace, for which we all panted, deliberations have been secured. Those blessings, In the Lower House the address I trust, we sliall continue to enjoy; was moved by Sir Thomas Dyke and, in the hope that every measure Ackland, who, in a speech of much will be adopted to procure their con- eloquence, enlarged upon the same totinuance, it is my ardent wish that this pics to which allusion has already address should meet with the undivided been made ; and his motion was se. assent of your lordships. I can no conded by Mr Methuen. Mr Brande less refrain from the expression of my rose to move an amendment, but presatisfaction at the great leading fea- faced his motion with many expresa ture of the situation of our country ; I sions of regret, that he should feel allude to the means by which the peace, compelled to disturb, even in appear. at which I rejoice, has been obtained ; ance, the unanimity of the assembly ; it has been restored to us by what, I adding, that if, indeed, the speech from confess, always appeared to me the the throne had avowed the wishes most probable mode, both of its resto. and intention of government to relieve ration and continuance-the re.esta. by every possible means the distressed blishment of that government in France state of the country, with the same which by commotion had been over- disinterestedness wherewith the friends thrown, and by violence was excluded, of government had in their own pera These are the two main points upon sons stated that intention, he should

have conceived himself to be released relief, because he was convinced, that, from any such necessity. One of the by a steady application of our resourprincipal topics of his speech was the ces, and by a strict economy, the burunusual length of the adjournment of thens and distresses of the people might parliament, in circumstances of so re- be relieved. The country looked to markable interest and importance. them for some pledge, that the existe “This delay,” he alleged, “ was a se- ing system of partial and oppressive rious ground of complaint ; for, du- taxation should be revised, and he imring this protracted recess, it became plored his Majesty's ministers and the a matter of public notoriety, that trea. House not to disappoint it in 80 just ties and conventions of vast importance and natural an expectation.” He conto the interests of mankind, had been cluded by moving that the following entered upon and decided by his Ma- words should be added to the address : jesty's ministers, who, notwithstanding " And also to represent to his Royal the paramount necessity of the case, Highness, that it was the duty of his had, during the long discussion at- Majesty's ministers to have advised his tendant upon such proceedings, wholly Royal Highness, with the least possineglected to call upon the Commons of ble delay, to have convened parliament England for their necessary advice and for the purpose of communicating co-operation. This was disrespect to those important treaties with the allies the people, as vrell as to their repre. and with France, which after having sentatives in parliament. It was im- been acted upon for several months, possible not to fcel a more than ordi- are now about to be laid before this nary anxiety on this subject, when it House; and that the length of the was understood that treaties bad been late prorogation was the more extraorconcluded, raising doubtful questions dinary at a time when the unexampled of public law, and of constitutional domestic embarrassments, as well as principle; that provision had been the important foreign relations of the made for maintaining a large foreign country, required an early meeting of military establishment, which must parliament, and to assure his Koyal necessarily require a large domestic Highness, that this House will speedimilitary establishment for its support. ly undertake a careful revisal of our The subject involved not merely legal civil and military establishments acand constitutional, but financial consi. cording to the principles of the most derations, all of which were overlooked rigid economy, and a due regard to in the address of the honourable baro. the public interests ; and also at an net ;. and although it would not be early period take into its most serious proper to go deeply into them at pre- consideration the present state of the sent, be trusted he should hereafter be country.able successfully to contend, that they To the principal objection mention. ought to have directed whatever might ed by Mr Brande, a very satisfactory be the terms and provisions of those answer was given by the Chancellor of treaties. What he chiefly regretted, the Exchequer. " If the gentlemen,” however, in the able speech of the ho. said he, “who accused ministers of nourable baronet, was, the slight and protracting to an unjustifiable extent insufficient manner in which he had the adjournment of parliament, had touched upon the actual distresses of taken the trouble to pay attention to the country. He wished the House the dates of events which must have to pledge itself dictinctly, that they come under the notice of every indi. would enquire and admisister speedy vidual, they would have found that the treaty of peace, about to be laid before sistent with the safety of the country ; the House, was only signed on the and this was a point which ministers 20th of November, and it was nearly and the House would never cease to two months longer before the ratifica. keep in view. He believed, indeed, tions were exchanged. These did not that if we could be brought back to take place till the 20th of January, so the state we were in before the war that there was only a lapse of ten began, and on one side were placed all days between the time that ministers the dangers and difficulties which we had it in their power to make the had undergone, and the expence which communication to parliament, and the we had incurred, and on the other, assembling of them together. This the high station which we had attainwas the only cause of the great delay ed, there was no British heart so base complained of, and the ten days form as not to choose our present glorious ed the whole of the time that had been eminence, notwithstanding all it had suffered to elapse before parliament cost us. As so many opportunities was informed of what had taken place. would soon occur for the House maOut of this short period must also be turely to consider what could be done deducted whatever time was necessary to improve the state of the country, for the transmission of the treaty from he should touch but slightly on any Paris to London, as well as that re- thing relating to that topic. It must quired for the printing of the papers be evident, that several circumstances for the convenience of members. They contributed to produce this stagna. were now in such a state of forward. tion, which could not possibly be a. ness, that when they came to be laid voided. For example, a very consion the table, and when it would be derable difference arose in all commer. seen that their number, either as trea. cial transactions, as soon as the general ties, conventions, or proclamations, intercourse was renewed with the cona amounted to between sixty and seven- tinent, which had been interrupted by ty, every gentleman must be convin- the war; this caused a reduction in ced, that not an hour had been lost. the prices of all articles similar to This was the sole cause of the delay. those which were allowed to be imRespecting the internal situation of ported, and particularly in those which the country, he could assure the ho- formed the necessaries of life. On nourable gentleman who had moved Yooking back to the year 1801, it the amendment, that ministers had paid would be recollected that apprehenthe most anxious and unremitting at- sions were entertained of a great defi. tention to it ; and however laboriously ciency in the supply of bread.corn, and honourably some of his colleagues the produce of our own country; and had been employed abroad, he could these alarms at an approaching scarcisay for himself, that he had never ty were continued for several years passed a summer with less relaxation following. Thus the prices of corn or more anxiety in his life. He could and every necessary of life rose rapid. not but think that the speech which ly, and continued at a high rate ; but had been read.contained every pledge when, by the restoration of peace, which the House could reasonably de. channels of commerce were re.opened, sire on the subject in question. It the prices necessarily found their legave the strongest declaration from vel, and wheat, in particular, was re. the crown, that all possible measures duced to the price it formerly bore. for producing general economy in the Another caus: was the scarcity of state should be taken that were con- money, occasioned by the continental

« PoprzedniaDalej »