HC Deb 31 May 1809 vol 14 cc810-30

The Report of the Committee of Supply and of the Vote of Credit was brought up. On the question that the Resolutions be agreed to,

Mr. Whitbread

rose. He felt himself under a difficulty as to the line of conduct he should adopt in this case. In one part of the vote he could agree, in the other he could not; and he saw no way of extricating himself but by a step which he had taken once before, and which he must now again resort to, if he found any person of the same opinion with himself, namely by proposing an Address to his majesty on the Message, which should be expressive of the opinion he entertained en the subject, and record it upon the Journals of the house. He agreed that it was right, that ministers should be vested with a power to assist Spain and Portugal, though he doubted much, from appearances, and from the exaggerated statements both of our commander and minis- ters, that the contest would terminate in the subjugation of the one country, and in the other being wrested out of cur hands. He did not wish, however, that ministers should have no power to afford to those countries such assistance as they thought proper, and might be necessary; While there was life there was hope. The peninsula was engaged in a glorious cause, and after the share we had taken in it, he could not say that we ought, till the very last moment, to abandon men who were fighting for what, was as dear as life itself—liberty and independence. He could not agree with a member of administration, in another place, that the cause was as hopeful as ever, but still he did not wish it to be abandoned without another effort. He understood a right hon. friend of his (Mr. Ponsonby) not now present, was to have said something on the present question as to Austria; and in the absence of that right hon. friend he felt himself called upon to state his own views upon the subject. If the struggle in which she was now engaged was not forced upon her by France, she seemed to have chosen an improper time for it. It appeared that it had been entered into without any concert or advice of this government; that every thing had been conducted on the part of his majesty's ministers, in the language of coldness; that they had even dissuaded her from the contest. But whether she had been compelled by necessity to adopt the measure, or had resorted to it from choice, the events which had taken place during the short period she had been engaged in war, plainly shewed that she had gone to war without making a good calculation of her own strength, or any correct estimate of that of the enemy she had to encounter. Flattering accounts were circulated of insurrections having taken place in favour of Austria, but every one knew that Buonaparté had marched from the Rhine to Vienna in a shorter time than he did when he subdued the country before, without experiencing any opposition from the people of Austria or of Vienna, who had been represented as glowing with the most ardent enthusiasm in the cause. Some faint resistance had been made by the archduke Maximilian with a small body of troops, by whom some even of the inhabitants of the city had been destroyed, but the people had taken no part in the struggle. In the same manner we had been pompously told of the enthusiasm of the people of Oporto; yet they, it appeared, had received the French troops as willingly as they did the English army. We were now amused in it similar manner by accounts from Austria, but in his opinion no rational hopes could be grounded on such information, and whatever might be the motive which again induced Austria to brave the power of France, he thought such an ill-advised step would end in her subjugation and ruin. With respect to the conduct which this country under such circumstances ought to pursue, he trusted he should not be thought ungenerous in his sentiments, or niggardly in disposing of the country's resources, nor yet as furthering the views of France, as in some of the public prints under the control of the Treasury, he had been libellously represented, when he asserted that Austria could not successfully withstand the force of France. [The allusion to the public prints produced a cry of order, order!] He insisted that he was perfectly in order; and, if any gentleman thought otherwise, he should repeat his words, to afford an opportunity for their being taken down for the purpose of making him justify them. Notwithstanding the libellous misrepresentations of the prints under the control of the Treasury, he would still assert as his unalterable opinion, that, as from the events which had already taken place, and from those which he thought would certainly take place (God grant that he might be mistaken), it was probable that Austria, as well as Spain and Portugal, would shortly be crushed beneath the power of France, and we alone should have to wage war with fearful odds against the enemy, our resources ought to be most carefully husbanded, that we might be enabled to make the firmer stand. What, then, remained for us, but to enter into the struggle with the undivided and augmented power of France, single-handed? With the prospect, then, of what might be the possible event, were we not called upon to husband our resources against the day of need? the more especially, as, by looking into the Treaty recently concluded with that power, it appeared that we were not pledged to any specific advance to Austria; and considering that although no aid of money would or could afford her any effectual assistance, under her immediate difficulties; yet, that very advance would operate as a most severe pressure upon us. Contemplating, therefore, the enormous sums that had been already lavished upon that power, whether under the name of subsidy, or that more specious one of loan, he thought it his duty, as a member of parliament, to make a stand against granting any further subsidy or loan to assist her. Conscious of his own rectitude, and regardless of what might be said of his conduct, he would say for his own part, that lie would not consent that a single shilling should be expended to support the cause of the Austrian empire. Austria, it was true, might be considered as having been always a faithful ally to England. In 1805, she was seduced by Russia and England to break her faith with France. The engagements of nations were generally regarded only as far as they were connected with the interests of the powers who contracted them, or the coalition between Russia, Austria, and England would not have been avowed openly as it was: a coalition entered into on the principle of restraining France within her ancient limits, in violation of the faith of existing treaties. England was to have paid for this violation of good faith, and largely was she to have paid, had not the rapid successes of Buonaparté rendered it impossible to fulfil the contract. Austria was completely subjugated through the treachery of some of her generals, as it was said, but certainly by the preponderating power and genius of her adversary. The Prussian empire was next overturned by the armies of France; that led to the battle of Friedland, which, followed by the Treaty of Tilsit, had united Russia and France against England, and most probably against Austria. Where, then, remained the hopes of success in the present contest, when already her capital, as before, had been conquered? or could they really entertain any expectation of being able to restore Austria merely by opening our purse-strings? After the rapidity of movement of the last month, could we expect that the assistance which we should be able to dole out, could do any good, or could even protract the contest. He would not therefore consent to impose burdens on his constituents, which great as their sacrifices might be, could not exceed a scanty pittance, which at best could only serve to protract the struggle four or five days. He thought independently of all those circumstances, he could not agree to grant the sums requited, as they were moved for. It would be establishing a most dangerous prece- dent to pay bills which Austria without any authority had drawn on this country. Were he for giving the sum required for her assistance, he would never consent to vote it in that form. Whether Austria or France was in the right, he would not take upon himself to say, though, for the sake of argument, he was ready to admit, that the good faith in this instance was all against France: yet he would assert that from the period of the Revolution down to the rupture with Spain, France had almost always been attacked, and never the attacker. Every one must know, that France, immediately after the Revolution, was attacked by the coalesced powers of Europe. Their plan was to drive France within her ancient limits, and curtail her territories. The war of the first coalition enabled her, however, to extend her territories; and was continued with the object of driving her again within her old limits. He did not say France was in the right. He had never said so. Yet he was not persuaded that Austria was not to blame. Her territory, even her capital had been restored to her; and he could not find himself prepared to say that she was correct in forgetting these, supposing them only to be, nominal obligations. That France might have had it in view, at some convenient season, to swallow tip Austria, it was not in his power to deny, as ambition was a growing quality. He could not think, however, that the present was exactly the time he would choose for putting such a purpose into execution. It might be a moment convenient for Austria, but could hardly have been so selected by Buonaparté. Whatever the plans of Buonaparté might have been; however connected with the future fate of Austria, the present war could not be thought to be one of his seeking. The presumption therefore was, that Austria, from the circumstances of the French armies being employed in Spain, thought it a good opportunity to commence hostilities. Under all the circumstances of the case, and upon these grounds, he was decidedly against granting money to Austria, but he did not oppose the grant to Spain and Portugal. At a time when the people of England were every where talking of the injustice of Buonaparté towards Spain (which he did not defend), he was surprized at the national blindness to our own feelings and aggressions, recently manifested in the choice and approbation of our ambassador to that country. If there were a man in the universe who in another part of the globe had acted as Buonaparté had done with respect to Spain, it was the marquis Wellesley. His conduct in the East Indies was perfectly similar to that of the French emperor. He knew many would scout these notions, and assert that what the marquis Wellesley did was from zeal for the public service. The people of Spain, if they knew any thing of the affairs of this country, must know what that noble lord had done in India; but, then, all he did there proceeded from an ardent zeal for the public service, while Buonaparté, in acting the same part, was said to have been urged on by the instigation of the devil. They were doubtless the same acts, however dictated by different motives. Be that, however, as it might, the nomination of his lordship was certainly a bad omen, as the people of Spain must know that the marquis Wellesley would, if the opportunity should offer, take both Spain and Portugal as Buonaparté had done, through his ardent zeal for the service of his country. He had not had the advantage of hearing the right hon. gent, opposite (Mr. Canning) nor his hon. friend (Mr. Ponsonby) prior to his rising, but he had an advantage which he could not have expected; for after having heard so much about gentlemen making speeches at the Crown and Anchor tavern, amidst shouts, huzzas, &c. which of course were excluded from the London Tavern, he did not expect to find a taverner among the gentlemen opposite in the right hon. secretary. He only knew of the circumstance from the papers;—perhaps there might be some mistake; it might be some other Mr. Canning; but it was somewhat remarkable, that on the day on which that favourite actor, Mr. Lewis, was announced by the play bills as intending to take his leave of the stage, the newspapers should contain so fair an account of the debut of so promising a performer at the London Tavern, when after three toasts had been drank with three times three, Mr. Canning arose, amidst loud cries of hear! hear! hear! to declare, what he believed no other minister had ever before done in such a place, the intentions of the government with respect to Austria, Spain, and Portugal, at the suggestion of the chairman, Mr. John Inglis, who had greater authority there than the Speaker had in that house. [Here the hon. gentleman produced a newspaper, to prove that Mr. Canning rose at the suggestion of the chair.] The Father of the Administra- tion (the Lord Chancellor) had declined that office—his feelings would not suffer him to enter into the detail—but one of his sons, with stronger nerves, had taken the task upon himself, and gone through it to the admiration of the company. That right hon. gent, had stated, he believed, more than had ever been stated in a tavern before. Persons out of office had been censured for speaking of what passed in parliament on a table at a tavern, but he did not believe a right hon. secretary had ever been censured for developing the intentions of government on a table at a tavern before. He did not know whether the right hon. gent, stood on a table (on which circumstance so much had on some occasions been said); but whether he stood on a table or a chair, or on the floor, was not of much importance. A right hon. secretary's expounding the mysteries of the government to the multitude assembled at a tavern dinner, was a sufficient novelty to attract a crowded house, whenever the exhibition might be expected to be repeated. He could not refrain from remarking that of all misrepresentations, that was the basest which unreasonably elevated the public mind, by holding forth the expectation of happy results, which never could be realized. A gallant officer, to whom, whether absent or present, he should pay the sincerest tribute of respect, (Sir A. Wellesley) had gone out to Portugal, and in the late accounts received from him had certainly made some exaggerations; but these were nothing when compared to the exaggerations contained in the letter of a noble lord to the Lord Mayor, on the subject of that communication. In fact, it had been stated by that noble lord, that Marshal Soult was vanquished in three successive battles. In his opinion, our army was only engaged with the rear guard of the enemy, and not with its main body under Soult. He would wish to ask, what force on our part, would be efficient to ensure ultimate success, if not mainly, and in principle, supported by the people to whom we were giving assistance? Within a few days, accounts had gone abroad of a second evacuation of Madrid; but he really believed no diminution of the French force in Spain had taken place, on account of the French Emperor's attention being called to Austria; on the contrary, he conceived their force in that country to be much more than equal to the resistance opposed to them.—The hon. gent, remarked on the dissensions of Spain as at- tended with considerable danger to its cause, and particularly adverted to the accounts lately received with respect to dissolving the Junta of Oviedo. Were we not compelled he would ask to husband our resources for the last contest we might be engaged in for the preservation of ourselves? Whatever heart-breaking there might be in the case, upon these grounds, he felt it impossible to acquiesce in the vote so far as regarded Austria, at a time when it might happen that we should have to contend against the enemy, not in Spain or Germany, but at home.—On the subject of peace he would say, that the ways of providence were inscrutable, and that in the most desperate cases were frequently perceived the openings to safety. As long as he lived he should never despair of that valuable object, which was the greatest blessing a country could receive, and which on the first practicable opening should be eagerly embraced. He should propose instead of the resolution, the following address to his majesty—"That an humble Address be presented to his majesty, to return to his majesty the thanks of this house, for his majesty's most gracious message, wherein his majesty has been pleased to inform his faithful commons, that the ancient relations between his majesty and the emperor of Austria have been happily restored, and that his majesty will be graciously pleased to direct the treaty, whereby such relations have been confirmed, to be laid before the house, when the ratifications should have been exchanged. To assure his majesty that this house will lose no time in taking such treaty into its most serious consideration, in the earnest hope that it may be found, that the stipulations of such treaty have been concerted with wisdom, and that the interests and existence of the Austrian empire may not have been put to increased hazard, by the adoption of rash and precipitate counsels.—To acquaint his majesty that this house sees with satisfaction, that the provisions of the treaty with the emperor of Austria, do not include any stipulation for pecuniary assistance from this country. That his faithful commons have learnt with surprise, that without any authority given on the part of his majesty, the Austrian government has thought proper to draw upon his majesty's treasury, for certain sums of money, in aid of her warlike operations: that with whatever regret such refusal may be accompanied, his majesty's faithful commons do nevertheless feel themselves bound to refuse the payment of such bills, or to give countenance to such an unauthorised act on the part of a foreign power, which, being totally without precedent, might itself go to the establishment of a precedent of a most dangerous nature, and such as the house of commons, as guardians of the public purse, can in no way consent to sanction.—And further to acquaint his majesty, that upon a review of the enormous sums of money, which, under the direct title of subsidies, and under the most specious denomination of loans, have been advanced by this country to foreign powers, by far the largest part of which has been given to the house of Austria, and the result of such exertions, as manifested in the present state of Europe, his majesty's faithful commons do not feel themselves justified in consenting to the advance of any further sums of money for the emperor of Austria. The view taken by his majesty of other intended demands likely to be made upon the resources of the country, plainly shew that his majesty does not contemplate the propriety or possibility of making any such large advance as could be likely to give any great additional support to the internal resources of the. Austrian empire; whilst at the same time every additional burden upon the subjects of these kingdoms must be severely felt, and ought not to be imposed, except where the national faith is pledged, the advantage to be derived probable, and the expectation of such advantage grounded upon wise and well matured calculation.—To assure his majesty, that so long as a hope can be entertained of a successful issue to the Spanish cause, and consistency and effect can be given to the exertions of the people of Portugal by pecuniary assistance from this country, his majesty's faithful commons will cheerfully grant to his majesty the means of furthering so great and glorious an object; but in making such sacrifice, on the part of the people, his majesty's faithful commons earnestly recommend it to his majesty, that the application of the money entrusted to his majesty's disposal, should be made with the greatest care and the most attentive discrimination; always recollecting, that the events of each succeeding day shew the necessity of strict economy in the management of the resources of the state, in order to be prepared for that last and most arduous struggle, to which, as it appears to this house, these events are but too likely to lead."

Mr. William Smith

said, that he was inclined to pay the utmost respect to every thing that fell from his hon. friend, not only on account of his talents, but on account of that industry with which he was known to attend to subjects of this nature; and he had no doubt, but that the country held in just estimation the motives by which the conduct of his hon. friend was, in every instance, influenced. It was, therefore, with the utmost pain that he differed from him upon any subject, still more, in the present instance. For his part, he did not see any great distinction between standing on a table at the Crown and Anchor, and standing on the floor at the London Tavern. He did not see any great distinction between meeting to celebrate the birth-day of Mr. Pitt, and meeting to celebrate that measure (Parliamentary Reform) most prominent in his politics, and one which perhaps those who supported him would be inclined to regard as the most distinguishing feature of his character. He (Mr. Smith) was one of those who firmly believed, that the war at the commencement of the French Revolution was a defensive war on her part; but it appeared to him that the aggressions of France, since that period, particularly in the instance of the attack upon Spain, which was accompanied with such enormous aggravations, entirely altered the complexion of the politics of Europe, and the nature and character of the war. He believed that France had a disposition to attack Austria. He was extremely ready to agree, that his hon. friend had brought forward strong arguments in favour of the side of the question which he espoused; at the same time, he considered them all reducible to one ground, namely, whether under any circumstances, any step should be taken for the preservation of Austria? He was averse to saying, that under any circumstances he would not agree that his majesty's ministers should afford any such protection and support. If the gentlemen who had some time ago conducted the affairs of government were still in power, he would be willing to confide in them; to the gentlemen now on the opposite side he was willing to give credit for integrity and honesty of intention; and therefore, under the present circumstances, he thought himself bound to give them his confidence, and entrust them with the means necessary to the object they had in view.—He thought there would be an inconvenience and mischief to Austria attending the sending back those bills, undischarged, infinitely greater than any ill consequence that was likely to arise from the precedent; and he was willing to contribute his sanction to the payment of them.—Before he sat down,, he would take the liberty to advert to some other points. He had formerly made some observations upon Sicily, which had given some offence. It was done in compliance with his parliamentary duty. He thought it of the utmost importance, that that country should be capable of resistance, and he much doubted whether it was placed in that situation which was calculated to admit of successful resistance. There was another topic upon which he would touch, that of America. He could not sufficiently deprecate a practice which, he was sorry to say, obtained some kind of sanction from the conduct of this country, that of condemning, as Droits of Admiralty, vessels that had the misfortune to approach her shore, under the confidence of an amicable disposition; but which on war breaking out in the mean time, were detained as prizes. The hon. member concluded his speech with expressing a hope that his majesty's ministers would hereafter give way to a more enlightened policy.

Mr. C. Hutchinson

spoke in favour of the vote of Credit, and thought a supply should be afforded to Austria, even although it enabled her to hold out but for one week longer against the common enemy. He condemned the tedious and ill-concerted military operations of this government, who contrived to send our armies into the field always out of place and time.

Mr. Ponsonby.

The question before us. Sir, I take to be this; whether we shall grant three millions of money in the shape of a Vote of Credit, and leave it to the discretion of his majesty's ministers to apply some part of it in support of the contest in which Spain, Portugal, and Austria are engaged against France? This, although much of other matter has been introduced into the discussion, is certainly the only point we have particularly to consider upon the present occasion. That we should enable his majesty's ministers to assist Spain and Portugal with part of this money, every body seems to allow, as being reasonable, politic, and proper; the only doubt started is, as to how far we should go, or whether we should go any length at all, in assisting Austria? My own opinion, sir, upon this point, certainly is, that ministers must be vested with a discretionary power. I cannot say positively whether it be wise or not to assist Austria with money in our present circumstances. It is impossible for me, with the limited information I am possessed of, to give a positive opinion at the present moment; but thus far I am disposed to state, that in my opinion, any assistance we can afford to give her in that way, will not be of any real utility to her. If, however, ministers do advance any of that money to Austria, and can shew, upon another and a future occasion, that there was good reason to imagine advantage was likely to arise from it, even although Austria should ultimately be unsuccessful, I shall not be then disposed to blame them. As to the mode in which this money has been asked for by Austria, I must observe that I perfectly agree with my hon. friend (Mr. Whit-bread) in thinking it most extraordinary. At the same time I am bound to add, that his majesty's ministers will be deeply responsible, if it should be found that any great encouragement had been held out by them to Austria, to induce her so confidently to rely upon our assistance, though it may perhaps be justified, when we consider the nature and character of that power against whom she is contending. When we are involved in the same struggle, I am not disposed to condemn ministers for not protesting those bills which Austria has lately drawn upon this country, but my firm opinion is, that Austria, in her present situation, is irretrievably ruined. I thought she would be reduced to that condition, before she drew the sword, and now when she has drawn it, I find no reason to alter that opinion. I am much afraid it is not now in the power of this country to avert that calamity. If it could have been done it was our duty to have done it. As that power has undoubtedly been our great stay upon the continent of Europe, our object should be to maintain her to the utmost, as the greatest continental power competent to contend with France, and maintain a balance in Europe; but now it is too late, when we find that France is determined to seize the opportunity of a favourable moment to crush her, and render her incapable of further resistance.—With regard to Portugal and Spain, the case is quite otherwise. We have already so far engaged ourselves with those countries, and have acted with them so long; have given them so much encouragement, and are so bound by stipulation and alliance with themselves and their cause, that it is impossible to retract, or that any one can say that we ought not to leave the money at the discretion of ministers, to bestow upon those powers as it may be necessary; and they shall think fit. Upon such an occasion as the present, it would be, perhaps, most discreet, to abstain from offering any opinion as to what may happen, or as to what may be most for the interest of this country in the proceedings of government; but I cannot, Sir, consistently with my own feelings, and the duty I owe to the country, refrain from hazarding one by way of caution, as to their future conduct. My opinion is, that the contest of Spain and Portugal will wholly fail of the wished-for success, and that the power of France will become as completely predominant in these countries, as it is over any other part of Europe. What, then, does this country require on the part of ministers? It requires that they, as the government of the country, should, at a time when there is yet the means of doing it, take care to secure the insular and American possessions of Spain and Portugal, so as to place them out of the reach of France. When I say secure, I do not mean that this country should exercise any act of dominion over these possessions, or steal them as plunder arising from the wreck of the Spanish cause. No; but I say that this country should, by the employment of its counsels and advice, together with the application of all its strength and means, place South America, in particular, in that state, in which it shall not be possible for France to make Joseph Buonaparté in reality, as he is already by assumed title, king of the Indies. I hope we are not so entangled by any of our engagements, as to Ferdinand VII, (who, although the lawful monarch of Spain, is at present nothing more than a prisoner of Buonaparté,) as to be prevented from availing ourselves of doing that which necessity might teach us we ought to do; I mean, of supporting any disposition that may be evinced by the people of South America to set up a government of their own. If they choose to set up the government of Ferdinand the VIIth, be it so. This country should support them in following their own inclination, so far as is compatible with their interest and our security. But if we put off taking our steps till a distant day, when the power of France becomes thoroughly established in Old Spain, she will find the means of drawing a part of South America along with it, under her dominion and controul.—I take the present opportunity of making this observation, as, before the next session of parliament commences, perhaps the time may actually be past, in which this country can take any steps at all upon the subject. Every one knows, that it is not in the power of gentlemen on this side of the house to have all that information that can enable us to form a correct opinion; but I only suggest, for the consideration of ministers, previous to that period, what I conceive to be for the real interests of the country.— There is also another subject upon which I wish to hazard an opinion by way of suggestion to his majesty's ministers. If France succeed in Spain and Portugal, what will lie the situation of those countries? All those individuals who have resisted the power of France, must expect from her that treatment which she has never failed to deal out towards those in other countries that have resisted her. Whatever promises may be made to them in the moment of difficulty, France will never look upon them but with a jealous eye; and will govern them with an overbearing hand, and it is therefore the interest of these individuals to unite with us in effecting whatever object may tend to the permanent interest of England; for in doing so, they effect their own safely. If, therefore, we must quit those countries entirely, we should render their resources of as little avail as possible to the naval power of France. When that crisis occurs, we should have it concerted with the inhabitants of those countries, that they should agree with us to destroy their maritime power and ports as effectually as possible. France should be disabled from fitting out fleets from the ports of Lisbon, Cadiz, and Carthagena, against this country. If the inhabitants should lose, or yield those fleets and naval arsenals, they ought to know that they are yielding them to the enemy of their ally; and that if they are sincerely our friends, they ought to surrender them to those who will and can manage them for their advantage. I desire not that this country should by this procedure and advice act the part of a pirate or of a treacherous ally: nor that we should forcibly destroy those ports I have mentioned. I mean no such thing. But I do mean, that the government should be upon its guard to use all possible means, in a proper season, to induce those, who now resist the power of France, to present the evil consequences that might subsequently result from their subjugation, by rendering their naval force of as little advantage to the enemy as possible, and to enter into all our views; for it is manifest to every body, that the first thing that any statesman at the head of the councils of this country ought to look to is, to increase, as much as possible, the maritime power of England, and to destroy or diminish that of France. We must look upon ourselves as wholly independent of the continent of Europe, cultivating the commerce of all other countries in the world, and by our maritime force directing our efforts to exclude France from that enjoyment.—I have thus, from a strong sense of duty, taken this opportunity of exciting the attention of ministers, between this period and next session, to what appears to me to be the only means of ultimate safety for this country by securing what it possesses; and increasing its power in the same proportion as that of France, as the only means of enabling this country to close successfully the contest in which we are engaged.

Mr. Secretary Canning

said, that whatever shades of difference there might have been in the speeches of the hon. gentlemen, yet the general result of them all was so much in favour of the proposed resolution, that he might agree with their general matter, and be dispensed from making any further observations. He should incline to act thus, were it not that he stood liable to be challenged by the right hon. gent, who last spoke as not having attended to his call, though on many other occasions it might be said he had attended to calls of a more irregular tendency. There was hut one part of the right hon. gent.'s speech which in detail he should consider it necessary to oppose, for in fact an hon. gent. opposite (Mr. W. Smith) had, in what he said, dismissed the other points which the right hon. gent, had stated. The sum which on this occasion was voted was the same which was usual in war time, and upon the like occasions to grant. There could be no great jealousy in the house with respect to the sum or the method of its application. The specific mention of Austria in his majesty's Message had not been, in fact considered as by any means necessary. If it had not been for the peculiar exigencies of that country, she would not have preceded to draw for pecuniary advances in the manner she had done. There were three grounds stated for this vote of credit, any one even of which he should have thought sufficient to induce the acquiescence of the house, and to insure the accustomed confidence in the discretion of his majesty's government, that the sum would be properly applied to any exigency that might arise. With regard to the sums for which the Austrian government had thought proper, without any authority, to draw upon this country, he could assure the house, although it was determined to pay them, that such measures had been taken by remonstrance and other means, as were calculated to guard against such a case being drawn into precedent. In the remonstrance, however, which had been made to Austria upon this occasion, care was taken that nothing should occur, which could have the complexion of harshness, for the nature of the exigency and the difficult circumstances of the communication with this country must, independently of other considerations, forbad the slightest resort to any thing of that description. From the manner in which something that escaped from him on a former occasion had been interpreted by the gentlemen on the other side, he thought it necessary to repeat, that ministers left it entirely to Austria herself to consider the capacity of her own resources to engage in the present contest, and to determine the question whether the situation in which he was placed with relation to the enemy, was tolerable, or whether it was preferable to make a struggle for her liberation. Such, indeed, was the conduct of this country with every other state. Austria was advised to examine her own internal strength, to compare it with the resources of the enemy with which she had to contend, and not to look to any auxiliary support this country was capable of affording, to enable her to rise out of such a war with safety. His majesty's government, therefore, although it did not discourage Austria from making an effort which she deemed necessary to her own honour and safety, could not be said to offer any counsels that could commit itself in the undertaking. But when Austria had embarked in the contest, it was thought wise by our government to furnish every assistance in its power. It was not that Austria, engaged in the war exclusively to the aid of England, acting as a conductor to withdraw from its shores the influence of the dreaded lightning, but it was under the impression, that as she had entered into, so she should either come whole out of the contest, or expect that her ruin would be the consequence.—Austria sought self-preservation. She determined rather to attack the enemy beyond her frontiers, than by waiting his approach, to afford facilities for her destruction. Under the impression made by this situation of Austria it was, that every hon. gent. save one, had made an allowance for the manner in which she acted, respecting the advances demanded from this country. The hon. gent, had not perhaps, in so decided a manner as on a former occasion, expressed his opinions on the question of justice on the side of Austria; though not content with other presumptions in favour of France, he had collected from the early periods of the revolutionary war materials to show that all Europe had not acted with any other view than the partition of unoffending France. The hon. gent, here rested only on exploded documents, which were known to be forgeries, representing the princes of Europe in the light of partitioned, and which documents were current at that period when all Europe was inundated by representations against the crowned heads and old establishments of the continent. On this occasion there was the precedent of the oppressed rising against the oppressor. The hon. gent. had said much of Austria not turning round till she saw France engaged in another quarter. Was it to be expected that Austria should patiently and unresistingly wait till France had thought proper to swallow her up? He could not persuade himself to acquiesce in the gloomy forebodings of the hon. gent.; because though Austria might ultimately fall, it would he setting an example of hopelessness and submission even then to despair. He would say, that the powers which now assisted the enemy in his exertions would perhaps, ere the last act was accomplished, regret that they had ever united their means with his. If it should prove, that even after the capture of its capital, the heart of Austria had yet remained entire, then was her situation much superior to what it was at any former period. If the example of the contest in Spain, in which alone the arms of France had been as yet opposed with effect, should be imitated in Austria, he saw no reason to justify despondency as to the Austrian cause. With respect to Spain and Portugal, all were of one opinion as to the propriety and policy of the assistance to be rendered to them. He could not, however, but observe, that the speech of the right hon. gent. (Mr. Ponsonby) would place ministers in a situation of considerable difficulty. The last session a warning came from the other side of the house on this subject, to the effect that ministers should abstain from any thing which would look like the exclusive consideration of British interests. They now were bequeathing a legacy of caution rather to provide for a reverse than for success, and thus encouraged in this instance what they on a former occasion disavowed. The advice of the right hon. gent, might in fact, if followed, furnish him with a certain ground of attack against ministers. Between these two contradictory courses, ministers were placed in such a situation, that he had no doubt that which ever should be pursued, the party to which the right hon. gent, belonged would contrive to find materials for censure. Thus the right hon. gent. would in either point of the dilemma have the best of the argument over ministers. With respect to the observations that had fallen from an hon. gent., in relation to the maritime rights exercised by Great Britain in the detention of neutral vessels: he besought those philosophers and theorists, who were so fond of recommending their abstract notions of justice to the adoption of ministers, particularly respecting our maritime ascendancy, which might, and no doubt was sometimes abused, to consider the character of the enemy whom we had to encounter, and to reflect whether we ought to disarm ourselves of any retaliation upon him, by whom no principle of justice whatever was held sacred. When it was considered that in all the countries of Europe British property had been confiscated; when it was considered that contrary to the mitigated practice of the law of nations in modern times, if not contrary to the recorded law, the persons of unoffending travellers had been seized nut only in France but in every country under the direction of France, it must be manifest that if there was any thing in the maritime practice of this country which ought to be modified, it should be so modified, not by an act of the parliament, but by a mutual arrangement with the other powers of Europe. It would be most unwise to seize a moment of unexampled violence as the fittest for disarming ourselves of a practice so long adhered to, and which had woven itself into the principles of our maritime warfare. As to the connections between this country and the island of Sicily, he had formerly made some observations to the house relative to the right which it was asserted Great Britain had acquired by defending Sicily to interfere in the melioration of her internal affairs. He differed widely from the hon. gent, opposite in thinking, that a period when a British garrison was in a country was the period when recommendations of the nature alluded to ought to be made. The blessings enjoyed under the British constitution were the effect of gradual, not of sudden improvement. It was not because we carried in our bosoms the image of that constitution, that we should expect to see it reflected in every other country. It was to be hoped that any nation whose intercourse and union with Great Britain were intimate, would gradually imbibe the feelings of Great Britain; but it could not be expected that 16,000 bayonetted philosophers would suddenly produce the effect which in Great Britain had been the result of the Revolutions, and the accumulated wisdom of ages.—After adverting to the allusions made to the speech imputed to him at a late Meeting, at the London Tavern, to the formation of which he declared he gave no assistance whatever, the right hon. gent, begged it to be understood, that he never expressed any disapprobation of the discussion of politics at such meetings, his observations always applying to the nature and character of such discussions. He did not object to tire practice but to the matter. Before he sat down, he could not avoid saying a few words on what had fallen from the hon. gent, respecting the appointment of a British minister to Spain. The hon. gent. had said, that this country had given the worst proof of its intentions towards Spain by the choice that had been made: and he had grounded this assertion on the presumption that the charges which had been made against that noble lord's conduct in India were well founded. But whatever might be the hon. gent.'s opinion of the noble lord's conduct, he had no right to presume that the house or that his majesty's ministers would be influenced by that opinion. For his part, he believed there could scarcely be found another individual to deny that marquis Wellesley possessed all those great and splendid endowments which must qualify any man to act a distinguished part on the political theatre; nor did he believe that there would be found in the empire another individual to assert that any thing had passed in that house, by which the country ought to be induced to forego the advantage of lord Wellesley's talents.

Mr. Ponsonby

in explanation said, that, last session, he refused to give any opinion or advice, as to what conduct ought to be pursued towards Spain and Portugal: he then declined, because he was in perfect ignorance of the actual situation of affairs, nothing having transpired. He was not so at the present time; he therefore gave his advice, and his decided opinion was, that if far other measures were not taken by his majesty's ministers, France would ultimately subdue the peninsula.

Lord H. Petty

said, he was surprized that on a former night so much stress should have been laid on speeches at public dinners, when one of the ministers of the crown, had, at a tavern, made a declaration as to foreign politics, and excused himself in that house, by saying, it was the first time he was led into the indiscretion He hoped the right hon. Secretary (Mr. Canning) would reap the same benefit from his first night's experience, as a noted person, who was eternally exclaiming against gambling, and who stated that he was so inveterate against that vicious practice, because he had once attempted it, and lost the chief part of his fortune, from which time he never gambled. He trusted, therefore, the right hon. Secretary had exhibited for the first and last time. With respect to Austria, he considered it a matter of great importance, how they laid down a precedent, which might put parliament in a situation in which it would be obliged to grant succour against its will. He was inclined to take the word of the right hon. gent., that no improper inducement was held forth to Austria, to incline her to go to war. Information, however, should be laid before the house, or submitted to the inspection of a committee on the subject. With respect to the assistance which it might be deemed expedient to afford Austria, for the further prosecution of the war, it was quite another matter. He felt that she was left no other alternative than war or subjugation; she found herself in the last gasp of her existence, and it became her to make a last struggle; but this country was bound to consider of what use the degree of assistance which she was able to contribute, was likely to be; whether the very small and limited supply in her power to bestow, was likely to enable that country to resist the power of France? and whether what would be much for England to give, might not be little for Austria to receive?—From this view of the subject, he saw the strong necessity for economising our resources; it was not economising merely for ourselves, but for Europe and the world at large. The period might arrive when the restoration of a new order of things would depend upon England alone; in the prospect of which she ought to be studious of economy.—With regard to the dilemma in which they were placed respecting Spain, if his majesty's ministers took the wrong side it would not be extraordinary; if the right, they still might not be exempted from reproaches—(Hear! hear! from the Ministerial side.) "I mean, said his lordship, if they choose the right side, and determine to give assistance to Spain, they may yet make such an application of the force—they may so divide, scatter and delay it, as to expose themselves to the just reproaches of the country" (Hear! hear! from the opposition.) He agreed in the principle which the right hon. gent. had laid down (though it was a new one for that gentleman to adopt) that they should suffer any thing rather than compromise the honour of the country. The warning of his right hon. friend was a good one; they should not lightly hazard an expenditure of money and of blood; but reserve them for that great effort which they might be called upon to make, and he hoped would succeed in making, at no distant period.

Mr. Whitbread

then moved the Address, which was negatived without a division, and the Resolutions of the Committee were agreed to.