HC Deb 01 February 1808 vol 10 cc218-21

The great value the Emperor Attached to the friendship of his Britannic Majesty, the greater was his regret at perceiving that that monarch altogether separated himself from him. Twice has the emperor taken up arms, in which his cause was most directly that of England; and he solicited in vain from England a co-operation which her interest required. He did not demand that her troops should be united with his; he desired only that they should effect a diversion. He was astonished that in her cause she did not act in union with him; but coolly contemplating a bloody spectacle, in a war which had been kindled at her will, she sent troops to attack Buenos Ayres. One part of her armies, which appeared destined to make a diversion in Italy, quitted at length Sicily where it was assembled. There was reason to believe that this was done to make an attack upon the coasts of Naples, when it was understood that it was occupied in attempting to seize and appropriate to itself Egypt.—But what sensibly touched the heart of his imperial majesty was, to perceive that England, contrary to her good faith and the express and precise terms of treaties, troubled at sea the commerce of his subjects. And at what an epoch! When the blood of the Russians was shedding in the most glorious warfares; which drew down, and fixed against the armies of his imperial majesty, all the military force of his majesty the emperor of the French, with whom England was, and is now at war. When the two emperors made peace, his majesty, in spite of his just resentments against England, did not refrain from rendering her service. His majesty stipulated, even in the very treaty, that he would become mediator between her and France; and finally he offered his mediation to the king of Great Britain. His majesty announced to the king, that it was with a view to obtain for him honourable conditions. But the British ministry, apparently faithful to that plan which was to loosen and break the bonds which had connected Russia and England, rejected the mediation. The peace between Russia and France was to prepare a general peace. Then it was that England suddenly quitted that apparent lethargy to which she had abandoned herself; but it was to cast upon the North of Europe new firebrands, which were to enkindle and nourish the flames of war, which she did not wish to see extinguished. Her fleets and her troops appeared upon the coasts of Denmark, to execute there an act of violence of which history, so fertile in examples, does not furnish a single parallel. A tranquil and moderate power, which by long and un- changing wisdom had obtained in the circle of monarchies a moral dignity, sees itself assaulted and treated as if it had been forging plots, and meditating the ruin of England; and all to justify its prompt and total spoliation. The emperor, wounded in his dignity, in the interests of his people, in his engagements with the courts of the North, by this act of violence committed in the Baltic, which is an enclosed sea, whose tranquillity had been for a long period, and with the privity of the cabinet of St. James's, the subject of reciprocal guarantee, did not dissemble his resentment against England, and announced to her that he could not remain insensible to it. His majesty did not foresee that when England, having employed her force successfully, was about to bear away her prey, she would commit anew outrage against Denmark, and that his majesty was to share in it. New proposals were made, each more insidious than the foregoing, which were to connect with the British power, Denmark subjected, disgraced, and affecting to applaud what had been wrought against her. The emperor still less foresaw that it would be proposed to him that he should guarantee this submission, and that he should pledge himself that this act of violence should have no unpleasant consequences to England. Her ambassador believed that it was possible to propose to his majesty's ministry, that his majesty should become the apologist and the protector of what he had so loudly blamed. To this proceeding of the cabinet of St. James's, the emperor paid no other attention than it deserved. He thought it time to put limits to his moderation. The prince royal of Denmark, endowed with a character full of energy and nobleness, and possessing from providence a dignity equal to his high rank, had informed the emperor, that justly incensed at what had taken place at Copenhagen, he had not ratified the convention, and considered it as of no effect. At this moment he has just communicated to his imperial majesty new proposals which have been made to him, which serve only to inflame his resistance instead of appeasing it; because they tend to impress upon his actions the seal of degradation, the impression of which they have never borne. The emperor, touched with the confidence which the prince royal placed in him, and having considered his own peculiar complaints against England; having maturely examined, too, the engagements which he had entered into with the powers of the North—engagements formed by the empress Catharine, and by his late majesty the emperor, both of glorious memory—has resolved to fulfil them. His imperial majesty, therefore, breaks off all communication with England; he recals the whole of the mission which he has sent thither; and no longer chuses to keep with him that of his Britannic majesty. There shall from henceforth be no con- nection between the two countries. The emperor declares, that he annuls, and for ever, every preceding convention between England and Russia, and particularly that entered into in 1801, the 5th (17th) of the month of June. He proclaims anew the principles of the armed neutrality, that monument of the wisdom of the empress Catharine, and engages never to recede from that system. He demands of England complete satisfaction to all his subjects, for their just reclamations of vessels and merehandize, detained against the express tenor of treaties concluded in his own reign. The emperor engages, there shall be no re-establishment of concord between Russia and England, till satisfaction shall have been given to Denmark. The emperor expects that his Britannic majesty, instead of suffering his ministers, as he does, to scatter the seeds of fresh war, listening only to his own feelings, will be disposed to conclude such treaty, with his majesty the emperor of France, as shall prolong (to use the expression) interminably (à toute la terme), the invaluable blessings of peace.—When the emperor shall be satisfied upon all the preceding points, and especially upon that of peace between France and England, without which no part of Europe can promise itself real tranquillity, his imperial majesty will then gladly resume with Great Britain those relations of amity, which, under the just discontent which he could not but feel, he has, perhaps, preserved too long.—Given at St. Petersburgh 20th (31st) October.