§ This day, at three o'clock, his Majesty came down in state to the House of Peers and opened the session of parliament. His Majesty being seated upon the throne in his royal robes, Mr. Quarme, the deputy usher of the black rod, was sent to the commons to demand the immediate attendance of that house. The speaker, accompanied by several members, forthwith appeared at the bar, when his Majesty was pleased to deliver the following most gracious speech:
§ "My Lords and Gentlemen,
§ "Since the end of the last session, the preparations of the enemy for the invasion of this kingdom have been continued with incessant activity; but no attempt has been made to carry their repeated menaces into effect.—The skill and intrepidity of my Navy, the respectable and formidable state of my Army and Militia, the unabated zeal and improved discipline of a numerous Volunteer Force, and the general ardour manifested by all classes of my subjects, have indeed been sufficient to deter them from so presumptuous and desperate an enterprise. While this spirit continues to animate the country, and its voluntary exertions for its own defence subsist in their full vigour, we need not fear the consequences of the most powerful efforts on the part of the enemy. But let us never forget, that our security has arisen from the resolution with which we have met and provided against the danger, and that it can be preserved only by steady 2 perseverance and unremitting activity.— The conduct of the court of Spain, evidently under the predominant influence and control of France, compelled me to take prompt and decisive measures to guard against the effects of hostility. I have, at the same time, endeavoured, as long as it was possible, to prevent the necessity of a rupture; but, in consequence of the refusal of a satisfactory explanation, my minister quitted Madrid, and war has since been declared by Spain against this country.—I have directed a copy of the manifesto which I have caused to be prepared on this occasion, to be laid before you, together with such papers as are necessary to explain the discussions which have taken place between me and the court of Madrid. You will, I trust, be convinced by them that my forbearance has been carried to the utmost extent which the interests of my dominions would admit; and while I lament the situation of Spain, involved in hostilities contrary to its true interests, I rely with confidence on your vigorous support in a contest which can be attributed only to the unfortunate prevalence of French councils.—The general conduct of the French government on the continent of Europe has been marked by the utmost violence and outrage, and has shewn a wanton defiance of the rights of neutral territories, of the acknowledged privileges of accredited ministers, and of the established principles of the law of nations.—Notwithstanding these transactions, so repugnant to every sentiment of moderation and justice, I have recently received a communication from the French 3 government, containing professions of a pacific disposition. — I have, in consequence, expressed my earnest desire,, to embrace the first opportunity of restoring *he blessings of peace on such grounds as may be consistent with the permanent safety and interests of my dominions; but I am confident you will agree with me, that those objects are closely connected with the general security of Europe. I have therefore not thought it right to enter into any more particular explanation, without previous communication with those powers on the continent with whom I am engaged in confidential intercourse and connection, with a view to that important object, and especially with the emperor of Russia, who has given the strongest proofs of the wise and dignified sentiment, by which he is animated, and of the warm interest he takes in the safety and independence of Europe.
§ "Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
§ "I have directed the estimates for the public service to be laid before you. I regret the necessity of any additional burdens being imposed on my people; but I am sure you will be sensible how much their future safety and happiness depend on the vigour of our exertions, and that in the mode of raising the supplies, you will continue to shew your anxiety for the support of public credit, and for restraining, as much as possible, the accumulation of the national debt.
§ "My Lords and Gentlemen,
§ "In considering the great efforts and sacrifices which the nature of the contest requires, it is a peculiar satisfaction to me to observe the many proofs of the internal wealth and prosperity of the country. It will, I am sure, be your great object to maintain and improve these advantages, and at the same time to take all such measures as, by enabling me to prosecute the war with vigour, may afford the best prospect of bringing it to a safe and honourable termination."
§ After his Majesty had left the house, lord viscount Sidmouth, late the right hon. Henry Addington, was introduced with; the accustomed formalities, sworn, and took his seat. His lordship's supporters were viscounts Wentworth and Sydney.— Lord St. Asaph, son of the earl of Ashburnhum, lately called up to the house by that title, was also introduced with the usual forms, and supported by lords Rivers and Walsmgliam.—Lord Caledon, one of 4 the newly elected, Irish representative peers, took the oaths and his seat. After a short interval, the Lord Chancellor read a copy of his Majesty's, speech to both houses, and which was, as usual, afterwards read by the clerk at the table.
then rose for the purpose of moving an address to his Majesty, on his most gracious speech from the throne, and spoke as follows:—My Lords, it is not my wish to trouble your lordships at any great length in moving, as I shall have the honour to do, an humble address to his Majesty, in answer to the gracious communications his Majesty has just condescended to make to this house; but I think it necessary shortly to state the grounds on which I intend to found my motion for that address. The contest in which we are and which forms a Majesty's speech, is, the fate war, so closely connected with the cause of royalty, and so intimately interwoven with the essential interests of the country, that in adverting to the measures for supporting it, it seems to me, my lords, that the only question is, whether the address which I shall have the honour to move, be conformable to the usual practice of this house. I hope, in this point of view, it will not be considered as informal, and that it will receive the approbation of your lordships. The first point in his Majesty's speech is one on which, I am convinced, there can be but one opinion. That no invasion of this country has yet been attempted, notwithstanding the boast and menaces of the enemy, made even at the commencement of hostilities, is a subject which cannot fail to be gratifying to every person throughout the kingdom. Although it is true, that no apprehension need be entertained as to the event of an invasion, and convinced as I am, that no fear has been felt by the people as to the result of such an attempt, yet it ought not to be forgotten, that a desperate attempt at invasion made by a desperate enemy, would be productive of the most disastrous consequences. Notwithstanding the high state of preparation, however, in which our enemy has long been; notwithstanding it is a fact that, according to his own accounts, his armament for the purpose of invasion has long since been completed; notwithstanding the great display of ships and of forces on the opposite shore, our gasconading foe has never yet attempted to put his threat into execution. It must, 5 therefore, be a subject for just pride to your lordship?, and the country at large, that the enemy has been deterred from making the threatened attempt, by the vigour and decision displayed on our part, by the excellent arrangement and disposition of our forces, and by the admirable skill and judgment displayed in all our operations, both for home defence, and for the annoyance of the enemy; by which means he has not only been prevented from making the attempt, of the success of which he has so much boasted, but has been made to tremble in his turn for the safety of his own shores. It is not to any change in his purpose, but to our own energy und vigour that we are indebted for our safety. These advantages we owe to the excellent measures adopted for our defence, to the skill and gallantry of our officers and seamen, to the courage and admirable discipline of our army and militia, and to the patriotism and valour of another description of force unknown to former times, but which has been reserved to grace and adorn the present age. Formerly we relied upon the bravery and discipline of a regular army, and often had occasion to admire and congratulate their splendid achievements. Now, in addition to that great and essential support, another description of force has arisen in the persons of our brave and patriotic volunteers; who, actuated by the most fervid patriotism, have arranged themselves under the military banners of the country, for its defence against the attempts of a desperate enemy. A description of force this, which, whilst it is actuated by the most determined valour, far exceeds, in point of numbers, any former force of which this country could boast, and every previous calculation which could be formed as to its expected amount.— With regard to the war with Spain, my lords, I shall not now enlarge upon that subject, because we have not yet before us those documents and facts which can alone enable us to form a correct judgment as to the different bearings of the question. When, by the possession of those documents and facts, we are enabled to judge of the measures and conduct of his Majesty's ministers, then, of course, will be the time to go into the question m detail. It will not, however, he venturing to say too much in expressing my opinion, that the facts respecting the conduct of Spain which are already known, completely bear out 1iie conduct of ministers. Hostilities with 6 Spain were not, in my mind, so much a, question of justice as of policy; and when we consider the supplies sent by Spain to France, which contributed to enable the latter, to carry on war against this country, I cannot but think that no other course remained for his Majesty's ministers to pursue, than that which they have adopted; and their conduct appears to me so clearly entitled to confidence, that I think there can be no hesitation in agreeing to this part of the address.—With respect, my lords, to the other point in his Majesty' speech, namely, the communication from the French government, containing professions of a pacific disposition, I presume to think there can be but one opinion on the subject, and that that opinion must be to the effect contained in his Majesty's speech. The general conduct of the French govt. affords little hope of any sincere desire on its part for peace. The language of that govt. is now, however, very different from (that which it used at the commencement of the war, when it was boasted that England single-handed could not contend with France. That boast has now been given up, and an anxious desire for peace, has been substituted in its stead. I cannot pretend to explain the views with which these overtures have been made. The enemy may have various motives. He may hope to embarrass the govt. to create divisions in parliament, or discontent in the country, by exciting too eager a desire for peace. But, whatever his motives may be, your lordships must be convinced, that it is only by firmness and unanimity that a solid arid lasting peace can be. attained.— There only remains, my lords, one other topic for me to notice; namely, the flourishing state of our commerce. Upon this subject it is needless for me to enlarge, as it must be obvious to every one who bestows upon it the slightest portion of observation. These, my lords, are the grounds upon which I venture to offer an address to your lordship's notice, and which, I trust, will meet with your cordial approbation. His lordship concluded with moving an address to his Majesty, of which the following is a correct copy:—"Most gracious sovereign, we, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the lords spiritual and temporal, in parliament assembled, humbly beg leave to return your majesty our unfeigned thanks for your most gracious speech from the throne.—We beg leave to assure your Majesty, that this 7 house reflects with the greatest pride and satisfaction, that the skill and intrepidity of your Majesty's Navy, the respectable and formidable state of your Army and Militia, the unabated zeal and improved discipline of a numerous Volunteer Force, and the general ardour manifested by all classes of your Majesty's subjects, have, notwithstanding the incessant preparations for the invasion of this kingdom, been sufficient to deter the enemy from so presumptuous and desperate an enterprize. We fully concur and participate in your Majesty's sentiments, that while this spirit continues to animate the country, and its voluntary exertions for its own defence subsist in their full vigour, we need not fear the consequences of the most powerful efforts on the part of the enemy: and we in treat your Majesty to be assured that we shall never forget that our security has arisen from the resolution with which we have met and provided against the danger, and that it can be preserved only by steady perseverance and unremitting activity.—We request your Majesty to accept our warmest acknowledgments for the communication which your Majesty has been pleased to make to us, relative to the War which Spain has declared against this country; and we entreat your Majesty to allow us to express the just sense we entertain of your Majesty's gracious condescension in having directed a copy of the Manifesto which your Majesty has caused to be prepared on this occasion to be laid before us, together with such papers as are necessary to explain the discussions which have taken place between your Majesty and the court of Madrid, and to assure your Majesty that we shall take them into our immediate and serious consideration, with the full resolution of adopting all such measures as are necessary to maintain the honour and dignity of your Majesty's crown. and the security and interests of your dominions.—We entreat your Majesty to be persuaded, that it is impossible for us not to observe in common with all Europe, that the general conduct of the. French govt. on the continent has been marked by the utmost violence and outrage, and has shewn a wanton defiance of the rights of neutral territories, of the acknowledged privileges of accredited ministers, and of the established principles of the law of nations.—We return your Majesty our most grateful thanks for informing us, that notwithstanding these transactions, so repugnant to 8 every sentiment of moderation and justice, your Majesty has recently received a communication from the French govt. containing professions of a pacific disposition; and we humbly request your Majesty to be assured, that we are thoroughly persuaded of your Majesty's earnest wish to embrace the first opportunity of restoring the blessings of peace on such grounds as may be consistent with the permanent safety and interest of your dominions: we at the same time on our part, beg leave to be allowed to declare our entire concurrence in opinion with your Majesty, that those objects are closely connected with the general security of Europe.—We therefore rejoice to learn that your Majesty is engaged in confidential intercourse and connection with foreign powers with a view to that important object, and especially with the Emperor of Russia, who has given the strongest proof of the wise and dignified sentiments by which he is animated, and of the warm interest which he takes in the safety and independence of Europe, and we are fully satisfied of the propriety and wisdom of your Majesty's determination in declining to enter into any more particular explanations without a previous communication with those powers.—We beg leave, with every sentiment of respect and dutiful attachment to your Majesty, to testify our most grateful sense of your Majesty's uniform regard for the welfare of your people, and to assure your Majesty, that, in considering the great efforts and sacrifices which the nature of the contest requires, we most cordially participate with your Majesty in the satisfaction which your Majesty derives from the many proofs of the internal wealth and prosperity of the country; and your Majesty may depend upon our constant and animated endeavours to maintain and improve these advantages, and at the same time to take all such measures, as, by enabling your Majesty to prosecute the war with vigour, may afford the best prospect e of bringing it to a sale and honourable termination."
rose to second the address, and spoke as follows:—My lords; after the most gracious speech we have this day heard delivered from the throne, and the extensive view which the noble lord has just taken of the address he has proposed, it will be unnecessary for me to trouble you with a long discussion of the subject under debate. But, as an Englishman, it 9 is impossible not to view with exultation and confidence the exalted situation which this country at present enjoys.—Secure at home, and respected abroad, we may hear with tranquillity those vain-glorious boastings of our enemy, which in no single instance have been carried into effect: contented with a display of vessels and troops, he has not dared even to attempt the expedition he has so loudly proclaimed. His fleets and his flotilla have constantly remained under the protecting cannon of his own shores.—The long continuation of peace with Spain has been matter of much greater surprise to the public, than the declaration of war we have so lately heard. The declaration was reduced to a mere question of prudence: and our having so long abstained from that declaration, affords a strong presumption of our pacific disposition. Supplies in money, unauthorized by treaty, had been requested by Trance, and granted by Spain. Nor were they likely to be refused; her counsels and her riches, her Sleets and her armies had long, been subject to French despotism. Nor could peace with Spain continue for a moment after the interest's of France demanded war. Fresh engagements were entered into by France and Spain, and all explanation to us of the nature of, those engagements utterly refused.—In this state of things, were we quietly to wait the convenience of France and Spain? Were we to conduct the contest in the mode best suited to their wishes? Were we to become the willing dupes of fallacious promises, and by forbearance, almost assist in supplying-Spanish wealth for the payment of those armies, which within sight of our coasts were threatening our ruin? Or were we, by a manly and decisive conduct, to strike at the root of the evil, and anticipate the open hostility of Spain, by seizing those treasures which the French had put in requisition with the view of employing them for our destruction? Self-preservation seemed to demand the conduct which has been followed: and I have little doubt, that when the papers and documents are laid on your table, your lordships and the public will applaud the measure from a conviction of its justice.—With respect to the communications lately sent from France, it would be a waste of your lordships' time, were I to enter at large on a proposal the precise terms and extent of which are not made known to the house. But thus much at least we may decide: 10 that whatever may be the change of disposition which it may profess, our preparations and exertions should experience no relaxation. I would at this moment neither raise nor depress the hope of such a peace as the interest and humanity of this country equally demand; but peace to be a blessing must bring with it a moral and well-founded assurance of lasting and mutual benefit; not that false and hollow security which at best can tend only to feverish repose; peace in words, malignant hostility in actions.—In the conduct we adopt, we must not forget the lessons so recently taught by painful experience. It may neither be improper nor irrelevant to look back a little to the period of the last peace. From the concessions their made, and the eagerness shewn by this country, the first consul concluded, we were a vanquished nation; his conduct was in conformity to his opinion; insult was added to injury: and at the moment to which I allude, we had only to choose between instant hostilities, and lasting degradation. The nation felt, as I trust it always will feel, whenever its honour and dearest interests are attacked: so outraged and insulted, it preferred danger to disgrace, and unanimously approved of the renewal of the war.—The first consul, who had proposed peace only as a more efficacious and secure mode of carrying on the contest, who. knew he should obtain by concession what he had no hope of gaining by force, was not prepared for so early or so vigorous an exertion: his rage and disappointment should not be forgotten.—If we are now to presume that honourable and permanent peace is the real object of the recent communication from France, great and sudden must have been the change of disposition in the government of that country. It is unnecessary to state the events of the last few months which call for this observation. They are too deeply engraved on the recollections of your lordships to need any fresh detail. We may hope for peace, but we must prepare for war: if the necessary exertions and privations are beyond all former precedent, the object for which we have to contend is above all value. In this sentiment I trust we shall all' agree, that no sacrifices are too severe, no efforts too great or too powerful, to support and secure the honour, dignity, and true interests of the nation. Strongly and deeply impressed with these sentiments, I have presumed to support the address 11 which has been proposed. I have now only to return your lordships my most humble and sincere thanks for the indulgence and attention I have had the honour to receive.
§ The Earl of Carlisle.
—I do not rise, my lords, to disturb that unanimity by which I am aware it is so much to be wished the house should be actuated on a subject of so much importance as the present. When I heard his Majesty's most gracious speech read, so cordially did I agree in every sentiment expressed in it, that I did not think it would have been necessary for me to say a single word on the subject. Some observations, however, which have fallen from the two noble lords who moved and seconded the address, seem to require some explanation. I, for one, am anxious to enter my protest against the supposition, that in agreeing to the address as proposed, I thereby pledge myself on a subject as to which the house is not in possession of the facts necessary to enable them to form a judgment. I allude, my lords, to the war with Spain. On that subject, whatever may be my own private opinion, whatever I may know as an individual which may induce me to think that the conduct of the govt. of this country has been correct or otherwise, this house is not in possession of such parliamentary information as can warrant it at present in expressing any opinion on the subject. As, however, the subject has been started, though I think the noble lords would have acted more discreetly in waving it, I must be excused in saying a few words on that point. The noble lord who spoke last has said, that we were not bound to sit tamely by while the Spanish court were supplying our enemies with money and other requisites for waning against us. This I am by no means inclined to dispute. But then, my lords, it would have been but fair and reasonable, in order that a war might not unnecessarily be plunged into, that some precise requisition on the subject should have been made to the Spanish court, and a day fixed for them to give their decisive answer, before hostile measures had been resorted to. I am anxious to know if this has been the case. It is necessary not only that a thing should be fair, equitable, and justifiable in itself, but that the manner in which it is commenced should likewise be fair, just, and agreeable to the known and established law of nations. There is in one part of this business too, an occur- 12 rence of a very melancholy and deplorable kind, which, without imputing blame to any particular person, or at all inquiring into the immediate cause of the accident, I cannot help thinking might have been guarded against. If it was deemed fair and justifiable to detain the Spanish ships, might it hot have been so managed that they should have been met by a force of such superior magnitude, as to have made it not dishonourable in them to submit to the detention, rather than by one of such equal force, as would have entailed disgrace on them, had they surrendered without resistance? Again, if it was fair that ships of war having treasure on board should be detained, I am anxious to know where the policy or propriety could exist of allowing merchants' ships to pass unmolested? These, my lords, are some of the circumstances connected with the rupture with Spain, which appear to me to require explanation, and on account of which, I could not allow the address to pass, without stating that I by no means pledge" myself to say, when the necessary papers are before the house, that I shall think that that business has been properly conducted.— There is another part of the address which I cannot allow to pass without observation. It is said, that our army is on a respectable and formidable footing. This term our army was thought six months ago not to deserve, and under the administration of a noble lord (Sidmouth), it was strongly insisted that our army was greatly defective; nay, that was generally understood to have been the ground for that noble lord's retiring from office. It was not in one particular branch too, that this deficiency was said to exist, but in every department. The right hon. gent, who came in, promised us great things; and an act was passed, under his auspices, to effect this purpose. So far, however, from answering the end proposed, it is now allowed that this act has been found completely useless; indeed, a more ridiculous, absurd, and oppressive act, was never conceived. Scarcely a single soldier has been raised by it; nor is it calculated at all for that purpose. By what means, then, I should be glad to ask, has our state of defence, so defective under the noble lord's administration, become so respectable and effective under his right hon. successor's, without any aid but the ridiculous, absurd, and unproductive act to which I have just alluded?. But I suppose it will be insisted 13 by the right hon. gent. (Mr. Pitt), that every thing is now very well, and that there is nothing inefficient or defective in the govt. of the country. I beg it, however, to be understood, that in agreeing to the address, I do not mean to admit the respectability of the state of our army, whenever that shall become the subject of discussion.
§ Lord Hawkesbury.
—My Lords; I feel proper to trouble your lordships with a few observations, in consequence of a part of what has fallen from the noble earl. There never existed an occasion on which general unanimity could be more justifiably called for on the part of his Majesty's govt. than in the present moment. Upon the general sentiment, with respect to the leading topic in the communication from the throne, I trust no Englishman can entertain but one opinion. No doubt can exist as to the incumbent duty of using every exertion, under the present circumstances, to support the honour of his Majesty's crown, and the dignity of the country at large, in carrying on with vigour the important contest in which we are engaged, in order to bring it to an honourable and prosperous issue; such an issue as shall be consistent with the honour and dignity of this country, and the interests of these powers of Europe with whom we are connected by amity and good faith. Under such considerations alone can peace be deemed desirable, and whenever it can be secured upon such grounds, sensible I am, that it will be cheerfully embraced by his Majesty's govt. By too great an extent of concession, and by discovering too great an eagerness for negotiation, I fear it was, that we fell into the snare which led to the present war.— The noble earl has particularly touched upon two points, though not, as I understood him, with a view of opposing the address. The first related to the question of the war with Spain, which the noble earl seems to think would have been unnecessary, were it not for some apprehensions which had fell from the noble mover of the address. In these, however, I imagine, that the noble lord must have been misunderstood, because he did not say any thing that implied a wish that the house should be committed beyond the simple specification in the address. We must, as the royal communication informs us, have the manifesto and the other official documents before us, ere we can properly give 14 any opinion upon the subject. His Majesty trusts that these papers will be duly-considered; and all that is proposed by the address is to say, that your lordship will consider the subject, coupled with an assurance that we are willing to support the dignity of the crown, and the interests of his Majesty's subjects. I heard nothing that fell from either of the noble lords which went to justify the inference of the noble earl. With the latter, however, I agree, that the subject should be considered in its various bearings of justice and policy; and though a particular line of conduct, if adopted by his Majesty's govt. may be fully warranted by the justice of the case, still, under the existing circumstances, it might not have been politic, and, in the former view, the question of war might have been brought to a short issue. When this important question comes to be discussed, I shall give my opinion as to the policy of entering into hostilities at the period to which I allude, and this I shall found upon the circumstances and facts of the case. There is, I admit, a third point of view, independent of both the former, in which the question may be considered, viz. how far, in the progress of the affair, the conduct of ministers may have been inconsistent with the honour of his Majesty's crown, or militate against that character for generous liberality, which is the distinguished characteristic of the British nation? On these considerations, however interesting or important, I shall forber to expatiate until the papers are regularly before the house; but it is proper your lordships should feel assured, that no disposition existed on the part of govt. to do that which may wear an appearance of rashness or precipitation; it is also important it should even now be understood, that the transaction alluded to, though justified by every principle of the law of nations, or of self-defence; is not necessarily connected with the situation in which the two countries are now relatively placed. I am happy in the opportunity of informing your lordships, that the point on which the noble earl's principal doubt seems to hang, was literally acted on in the very manner he himself has suggested. An explanation was demanded from the Spanish govt. and a particular day fixed for the final answer of that court. The explanation demanded by our govt. was refused; intimation of our resolution to detain their Ships was made; 15 our minister at Madrid had applied for passports; had obtained them, and had actually taken his departure, before the news of the capture of their, ships had reached Spain, I agree, however, with the noble earl, that both the justice and policy of the measure, and the mode in which it has been executed and carried through, are all subjects proper for investigation, but they will come to be judged of more properly when the necessary papers, are on your lordship's table.—In regard to the state of the internal defence of the country, which forms the second part of the noble earl's animadversions, I will, without any reference to what has transpired on former occasions, venture to contend, that, considering the circumstances of the country at the period alluded to, a more formidable and effective military force has been constituted than was firmed at any corresponding period of any preceding war; and that the present state of our military preparations is positively unparalleled in the history of the country. It would be premature to go into minute details as to the state of the public force in the united kingdom, at this moment. I can, however, assure the noble earl, that in troops of the line, militia and volunteers, ready to take the field, it considerably exceeds 600,000 men; and that under the operation of an act of parliament passed the session before last, commonly called the army of reserve act, the disposable part of that force has been increased to an extent, and with a rapidity beyond all expectation, and has proved superior to every other expedient. Before I sit down, I cannot help expressing a sentiment of proud exultation, that after two years of war, in which the enemy has exhausted all his powers and resources to effect his determined purpose of invading our shores, he has been repelled by the menacing front which the vigour of this country has opposed to him. The spirit and zeal of the country never rose so high as it is at present, and that it has so risen, is owing to those blessings which every Englishman enjoys under the protection of our happy and glorious constitution.
§ The Duke of Clarence
did not expect, after what had fallen from his noble friend behind him (Earl Carlisle), that another word would have passed on the subject of the present address. As, however the noble secretary of state had thought proper to make some explanations 16 on the subject of the rupture with Spain, he must be excused for declaring that he Cordially agreed with the noble earl in thinking that it would have been more becoming the magnanimity and humanity of this great nation to have employed a fleet of double the strength, in the detention of the Spanish ships, when that detention was resolved on, by which means the unhappy accident which had occurred would have been avoided. The act by which it had been alledged that our army was to be rendered so completely effective, and by which such wonderful things were to have been produced, he also agreed with the noble earl in thinking absurd and ridiculous in the extreme, and completely inadequate to any good purpose, He hoped one of the first acts of the present session would be to repeal it.
—My Lords; I rise to give my entire and complete concurrence to every part of the address. It so perfectly coincides with every expression which I have used, and every sentiment which I have uniformly professed, upon the great question which it embraces, I mean the question of war, that it must of necessity command my full and entire consent. I hold it my duty, and the duty of every man, not only in this house, but in the country at large, to concur in the determination to support the war in which we are engaged, with that vigour and firmness from which alone we can expect a successful and prosperous issue; to support it not merely by words, but by the most strenuous and efficient exertions in his power. By these, general words, I do not mean, however, to pledge myself to all the detail of the several subjects which the address may embrace. With all the particulars of the state of the military force of the country, and other subjects, which it comprehends, I cannot be presumed so well acquainted as to be able, at this moment, to give a decided opinion. Upon these, then, I must reserve myself, until the necessary papers are laid before the house, and I shall have had time to consider them; but, with this reservation, I repeat, that the address has my full and complete concurrence, and that it becomes the duty of every man in this country to support the war by his most vigorous exertions. I am sure it will have the concurrence of every British heart; for it must be the feeling of every man, that we ought steadily, constantly, and vigo- 17 rously to persevere in the contest in which we are engaged; until we ban bring it to a safe and honourable termination; and towards that effect, that we ought all to surround the throne with an unanimous declaration of supporting his Majesty in the resolution which he has this day so graciously expressed, of maintaining the honour and interests of the empire inviolate. I do assure the noble sec. of state, that there is no individual who enters more earnestly into the wish which lie so warmly expressed oft this subject than myself. We can have but one sentiment on the principle of national honour and security. Whatever differences there may be as to the manner of attaining the great end, there can be none as to the end itself. I rejoice, therefore, that the address is drawn up in terms in which this house can unanimously agree. I shall only, therefore, detain you, my lords, by a remark on two points, which form the principal features of the speech. The first is the overture which his Majesty has been graciously pleased to signify has been made to him by the French government. It is impossible to say at this moment more than this; that, uninformed as to the tenor and extent of that overture, and uninformed of the basis, if any, winch it proposes for a negotiation; or of the disposition and temper with which it was made; or of any one circumstance connected with it; we can only join his Majesty in a general declaration that peace is undoubtedly desirable, provided that it can be obtained upon terms which shall give permanent security to the British empire; that it shall be honourable as well as secure; and that it shall be consistent with the general interests and tranquillity of Europe. This is the declaration which his Majesty has been graciously pleased to make in his speech, and in this declaration I most perfectly concur. It is candid, honourable, and magnanimous. It is the dignified, as well as the political language which this country ought to maintain; and I therefore congratulate the house on the reception which has been given to this overture. I understand by the speech, that his majesty thinks it essential to the honour and security of this empire, that he should enter into no negotiation, until he has advised with those powers on the continent, with whom he is in the habits of confidential intercourse and connection. I rejoice in this declaration, and wish even that in practice the principle 18 may be carried further. In my opinion, it is the wise policy of G. Britain, in the present state of Europe, to solicit communication with every power on this great and important subject; and to endeavour^ by every mean to obtain the co-operation of every power which has a community of interest, or a community of sentiment. There is no safe and no honourable peace to be obtained by other means. You must cultivate this understanding by every means; you must take no step without a constant, steady, and confidential communication, with every one who feels with you, that the very bonds of society, and of all just government, require this co-operation. Above all others, it is material to consult that great power who is represented as sympathising in your opinion; and who is, undoubtedly, by his position, interests, and capacity, your natural ally in this great work. These opinions I have never failed to express at every period of this war when I have had occasion to trouble your lordships, since I had the honour of a seat among you; and I rejoice to see that they now appear to be duly appreciated by the house in general. I have heard the noble lord's declaration to-night with the most heart-felt pride and satisfaction. They are such as he was heretofore accustomed to maintain, and they do him infinite honour. I wish I could repeat his words verbatim, that I might still further endeavour to enforce them on every heart; but I think his expression was, that it was by too great an extent of concession, and by shewing too great an eagerness for negotiation, that we had fallen into the snare which led to the present war, since it had taught our enemy to regard us as a conquered country. No reflection could be more true; no recollection could be more useful. It ought to be a warning to us in every step we take, and the experience of this fatal truth ought now to animate and guide our couucils,—As to the other subject, the new war in which we are involved with Spain, I perfectly agree with the noble? lord who moved the address; that we ought to lose no time in assuring his Majesty, that we will make every exertion to support his just rights, and the honour and dignity of his crown; but we cannot go one step further, until we have the papers laid before us, and have ascertained the grounds upon which we are called upon to enter into this war. I cannot agree that the mere naked fact, which is stated: by a 19 noble lord as being notorious, that money supplies have been given by Spain to France, affords in itself a satisfactory proof of the justice of the war. Admitting that fact simply, I must go farther for an explanation of the grounds of war. I by no means wish to weaken or to diminish in any degree the just rights of the realm, in maintaining the laws of nations. But, on the other hand, with every leaning towards our own claims and rights, we ought not to be betrayed into a temper that shall make us forget what is due to our enemies. It ought to be recollected, that by the law of nations, a supply of succours by a neutral power to an enemy, to a limited extent, previously ascertained, and that by treaty concluded before the war, is not to be considered as an act of hostility, nor made the ground of a rupture. This is not my individual opinion alone, but it is the recognized sentiment of civilized Europe; and therefore I say, the mere noted fact of Spain having fulfilled her mere treaty with France, is not upon the face of it a justification of the war. But it is impossible to speak until we shall see the papers. I must, however, concur with my noble friend (the earl of Carlisle), that there are two points of view in which the war with Spain is to be examined; namely, as to the question of right, and the question of expediency. It is not merely requisite that the house and the nation should be convinced that the war was actually provoked, but also that in the mode of conducting the explanations that were demanded, and in all the steps that led to it, there was no harshness that could have been avoided. It is necessary to shew us that we have not merely right on our side, but that we did not by any improper, violent, and unjustifiable precipitation on our part, hurry them to a rupture, that by prudence, respect, and dignified forbearance, might have been prevented. It is only by facts, as they shall come out in the papers to be laid on the table, that these two points can be ascertained. And I only say, therefore, for the present, that a very unfavourable impression has been made on the public mind by the manner in which this rupture first manifested itself. This unfavourable impression is universally felt, and it is essential to the British character that it should be removed. Facts only can remove it; and I therefore trust, that no time will be lost by ministers, in giving 20 us the means of forming a true, candid, and fair judgment. I have expressed no opinion that the capture of the Spanish frigates off Cape St. Mary is unwarranted by the law of nations; but the impression made by that proceeding is bad, nor is it in the least removed by what has been declared this day from authority; I mean that, before the capture was known at Madrid, our minister had demanded his passports, and quitted that city. God forbid that the departure of an ambassador from a country to which he was accredited, should be considered tantamount to a declaration of war, or a just ground for it! I shall, however, refrain from saying any thing farther upon the subject until a proper opportunity, and I hope that other noble lords will reserve themselves until the necessary documents shall be laid before the house. I shall only repeat, that I lament the unfavourable opinion which the capture of the Spanish squadron has produced. In a war like the present, when we avow the necessity of consulting the opinion of enlightened Europe, it becomes indispensable for us to show, that in our conduct we have not merely respected the rights of an independent state, but that we have observed all the respect that is due to the sovereign of a brave, a high-minded, and an honourable people.—With respect to other topics that have fallen from noble lords this day, I shall not detain you with any observations now. The state of our force, the magnitude of our preparations, and the security which we enjoy, will all be the subject of future discussion. In the mean time, I cannot hear it made the source of self-congratulation and of panegyric, that we have been near two years at war, and have not yet been invaded. I confess, that that is no great cause of triumph; and. I hope that we shall reap other laurels from the strength, spirit, and zeal of our armies and navies, than the mere boast that the enemy has not landed on our shores. My lords, I concur in the motion for the address, and I again express my sincere satisfaction at the sentiment which has been so unequivocally declared to-day, that it is only in communion with the great powers of Europe that we can listen to any terms of pacification with the govt. of France.
The Duke of Norfolk
could not give his cordial and implicit concurrence to an address, in answer to a speech on the first 21 day of this session, which contained not the slightest mention of a measure, which was very generally expected to have formed one of its most prominent features, namely, the measure of final emancipation of the Catholics of Ireland. When a right hon. gent. now at the head of his Majesty's councils, formerly retired from power, it was avowed by him and his friends, and universally understood, that he retired only because he was not allowed to carry that measure for which his administration stood pledged with the Catholics of Ireland. When that right hon. gent, returned to power, every one naturally conceived, that one of the first acts of his administration would have been to bring that measure forward. The advanced period of the last session, at which he was called to his Majesty's councils, might afford a reason for not then bringing the question forward; but no one doubted that he would propose it early in this; and that it would have been noticed in the speech from the throne. Having himself had no communication with any individual or body of men of that community, and understanding only from the public prints, that the principal Catholics in Ireland had held some meetings, and resolved to prefer their petition to parliament, he wished now only to know what was the intention of his Majesty's ministers upon the subject. If he should receive for answer, that his Majesty's ministers declined to bring it forward, because the Catholics themselves had resolved to press on their own petition; or if (which he did not expect) he should be told by ministers, that the Catholics, in the present circumstances of the country, were content with the concessions already-made to them for the security of property and freedom of religion, he should urge the subject no further: but if not, it must form the subject of a future discussion; for he was convinced, that the best mode of securing peace, and maintaining our respect abroad, was by conciliation and unanimity at home,
§ Lord Grenville
wished to know on what day it was likely that the papers connected with the several points in his Majesty's speech would be laid upon the table, and when they would probably be taken into consideration?
§ Lord Mulgrave.
—I cannot state any particular day for laying the papers, to which the noble lord alludes, upon the table; 22 but I am anxious for as early a day as is possible, because I am convinced they will be found perfectly satisfactory, that they will support every statement founded upon them, and make out a complete case for the govt. and the country. I am also anxious that there should be full time between the period of their being laid upon the table, and that for taking them into consideration. At the same time I must regret, that there should be any delay in removing the unfavourable impression, made upon the mind of the noble lord; being convinced, that a perusal of them will effectually do away any unfavourable idea which he now entertains.—The question was then put by the lord chancellor, and carried nem. dis.