The Second Session of the Fourth Parliament of the United Kingdom was opened this day, by commission; the commissioners were, the archbishop of Canterbury, the lord chancellor, and the earls Camden, Aylesford, and Dartmouth. At three o'clock the lords commissioners took their seats upon the woolsack; and the Commons, pursuant to message, having attended, with their Speaker, at the bar, the Lord Chancellor informed them, that his Majesty had been pleased to direct his commission to certain lords, therein named, to open the session; which commission they should hear read, and afterwards his majesty's most gracious Speech. The commission was then read by the clerk at the table; after which, the Lord Chancellor read the Speech, as it here follows:
"My Lords and Gentlemen,
"We have received his majesty's commands to assure you, that in calling you together at this important conjuncture of affairs, he entertains the most perfect conviction, that he shall find in you the same determination with which his majesty himself is animated, to uphold the honour of his crown, and the just rights and interests of his people.—We are commanded by his majesty to inform you, that no sooner 2 had the result of the Negotiations at Tilsit confirmed the influence and controul of France over the powers of the continent, than his majesty was apprized of the intention of the enemy to combine those powers in one general confederacy, to be directed either to the entire subjugation of this kingdom, or to the imposing upon his majesty an insecure and ignominious peace.—That, for this purpose, it was determined to force into hostility against his majesty, states which had hitherto been allowed by France to maintain or to purchase their neutrality, and to bring to bear against different points of his majesty's dominions the whole of the Naval Force of Europe; and specifically the Fleets of Portugal and Denmark. To place those fleets out of the power of such a confederacy became therefore the indispensable duty of his majesty.—In the execution of this duty, so far as related to the Danish Fleet, his majesty has commanded us to assure you, that it was with the deepest reluctance that his majesty found himself compelled, after his earnest endeavours to open a Negotiation with the Danish government had failed, to authorize his commanders to resort to the extremity of force; but that he has the greatest satisfaction in congratulating you upon the successful execution of this painful but necessary service.—We are commanded further to acquaint you, that the course which his majesty had to pursue 3 with respect to Portugal was happily of a nature more congenial to his majesty's feelings: That the timely and unreserved communication by the Court of Lisbon of the demands and designs of France, while it, confirmed to his majesty the authenticity of the advices which he had received from other quarters, entitled that court to his majesty's confidence in the sincerity of the assurances by which that communication was accompanied.—The Fleet of Portugal was destined by France to be employed as in instrument of vengeance against Great Britain; that Fleet has been secured from the grasp of France, and is now employed in conveying to its American dominions the hopes and fortunes of the Portuguese monarchy.—His majesty implores the protection of Divine Providence upon that enterprize, rejoicing in the preservation of a power so long the friend and ally of Great Britain, and in the prospect of its establishment in the New World, with augmented strength and splendour.— We have it in command from his majesty to inform you, that the determination of the enemy to excite hostilities between his majesty and his late allies, the emperors of Russia and Austria, and the king of Prussia, has been but too successful; and that the ministers from those powers have demanded and received their passports. —?This measure, on the part of Russia, has been attempted to be justified by a statement of wrongs and grievances which have no real foundation. The emperor of Russia had indeed proffered his mediation between his majesty and France; his majesty did not refuse that mediation; but he is confident you will feel the propriety of its not having been accepted, until his majesty should have been enabled to ascertain that Russia was in a condition to mediate impartially, and until the principles and the basis on which France was ready to negotiate were made known to his majesty.—No pretence of justification has been alleged for the hostile conduct of the emperor of Austria, or for that of his Prussian majesty. His majesty has not given the slightest ground of complaint to either of those sovereigns, nor even at the moment when they have respectively withdrawn their ministers have they assigned to his majesty any distinct cause for that proceeding.—His majesty has directed, that Copies of the Official Notes which passed between his majesty's ambassador and the minister for foreign affairs of his imperial majesty the empe- 4 ror of Russia, pending the Negotiations at Tilsit, as well as of the Official Note of the Russian minister at this court, which contain the offer of his Imperial majesty's mediation, and of the Answer returned to that Note by his majesty's command; and also Copies of the Official Notes of the Austrian minister at this court, and of the Answers which his majesty commanded to be returned to them, shall be laid before you.—It is with concern that his majesty commands us to inform you, that, notwithstanding his earnest wishes to terminate the war in which he is engaged with the Ottoman Porte, his majesty's endeavours, unhappily for the Turkish empire, have been defeated by the machinations of France, not less the enemy of the Porte than of Great Britain.—But while the influence of France has been thus unfortunately successful in preventing the termination of existing hostilities, and in exciting new wars against this country, his majesty commands us to inform you, that the king of Sweden has resisted every attempt to induce him to abandon his alliance with Great Britain; and that his majesty entertains no doubt that you will feel with him, the sacredness of the duty which the firmness and fidelity of the king of Sweden impose upon his majesty, and that you will concur in enabling his majesty to discharge it in a manner worthy of this country.—?It remains for us, according to his majesty's commands, to state to you, that the Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation between his majesty and the United States of America, which was concluded and signed by commissioners, duly authorized for that purpose, on the 31st of December 1806, has not taken effect, in consequence of the refusal of the President of the United States to ratify that instrument.—For an unauthorized act of force committed against an American ship of war, his majesty did not hesitate to offer immediate and spontaneous reparation: but an attempt has been made by the American government to connect with the question which has arisen out of this act, pretensions inconsistent with the maritime rights of Great Britain: such pretensions his majesty is determined never to admit. His majesty nevertheless hopes, that the American government will be actuated by the same desire to preserve the relations of peace and friendship between the two countries, which has ever influenced his majesty's conduct, and that any difficulties in the discussion now depend- 5 ing may be effectually removed.—His majesty has commanded us to state to you, that, in consequence of the Decree by which France declared the whole of his majesty's dominions to be in a state of blockade, and subjected to seizure and confiscation the produce and manufactures of his kingdom, his majesty resorted in the first instance to a measure of mitigated retaliation; and that, this measure having proved ineffectual for its object, his majesty has since found it necessary to adopt others of greater rigour, which he commands us to state to you will require the aid of parliament to give them complete and effectual operation.—His majesty has directed copies of the Orders which he has issued (with the advice of his privy council) upon this subject, to be laid before you; and he commands us to recommend them to your early attention.
"Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
"His majesty has directed the Estimates for the year to be laid before you, in the fullest confidence that your loyalty and public spirit will induce you to make such provision for the public service as the urgency of affairs may require.—His majesty has great satisfaction in informing you, that notwithstanding the difficulties which the enemy has endeavoured to impose upon the Commerce of his subjects, and upon their intercourse with other nations, the resources of the country have continued in the last year to be so abundant, as to have produced both from the permanent and temporary revenue a receipt considerably larger than that of the preceding year.—The satisfaction which his majesty feels assured you will derive, in common with his majesty, from this proof of the solidity of these resources, cannot but he greatly increased, if, as his majesty confidently hopes, it shall be found possible to raise the necessary supplies for the present year without any material additions to the public burdens.
"My Lords and Gentlemen,
"We are especially commanded to say to you, in the name of his majesty, that if ever there was a just and national war, it is that which his majesty is now compelled to prosecute. —This war is in its principle purely defensive: his majesty looks but to the attainment of a secure and honourable Peace; but such a peace can only be negotiated upon a footing of perfect equality.—The eyes of Europe and of the world are fixed upon the British parliament. If, as his majesty confidently trusts, you dis- 6 play in this crisis of the fate of the country the? characteristic spirit of the British nation, and face unappalled the unnatural combination which is gathered around us, his majesty bids us to assure you of his firm persuasion, that, under the blessing of Divine Providence, the struggle will prove ultimately successful and glorious to Great Britain.—We are lastly commanded to assure you, that in this awful and momentous contest you may rely upon the firmness of his majesty, who has no cause but that of his people, and that his majesty reciprocally relies upon the wisdom, the constancy, and the affectionate support of his parliament."
The commons having retired, the lords commissioners withdrew to unrobe. Lord viscount Lake and lord Gambier were introduced with the accustomed formalities, and took the oaths and their seats. The archbishop of York and earl Grey, also took the oaths and their seats. Their lordships then adjourned during pleasure. At five o'clock the house resumed. His majesty's most gracious Speech was then read by the lord chancellor from the woolsack, and afterwards by the clerk at the table, after which
The Earl of Galloway rose, and addressed their lordships as follows:—My lords; after the Speech which your lordships have heard delivered by his majesty's command, it is expected some member of this house should present himself to your notice, to solicit that attention which the importance of the subject demands; and by endeavouring to obtain your cordial concurrence in an Address of thanks to his majesty, for his gracious communication, to mark your approval of the sentiments it contains. I can assure your lordships I am perfectly aware of the inadequacy of my abilities to open subjects of the magnitude and importance of those now offered for your discussion; but you will separate the advocate from the cause, and, I trust, be disposed to extend to the former that indulgence, which it is your lordships invariable practice to do, at the same time doing ample justice to the serious import of the other I must claim also your lordships indulgence in consideration of my habits and pursuits, which have differed widely from those which are requisite to qualify me to make an adequate appeal to an assembly like this; but again I trust this deficiency on my part will in some measure be supplied by the goodness of the cause I have to 7 advance. I will not consume more of your lordship's time by a longer preamble, being sensible many noble lords will be extremely anxious to deliver their opinions also; I shall therefore proceed to animadvert shortly upon the prominent features of the Speech, leaving to others the detail, who will be better able to do justice to the same. In the first place, my lords, we are informed in the speech, that. soon after the Treaty of Tilsit had announced the dereliction of Russia to the cause she had espoused, his majesty's ministers received the most clear and positive information, that it was the intention of the enemy to compel the courts of Denmark and Portugal to subscribe their navies to a general confederacy about to be formed against this country, and with a promptitude and decision that does them infinite credit, they immediately resolved to frustrate so formidable a combination. It is known to your lordships that this has been effected, with respect to Denmark, by force of arms. The hostile sentiments of that court, evinced in many ways during some years past, rendered fruitless every other mode of proceeding. It was an unfortunate circumstance, my lords, that the Danish fleet, the only object of our solicitude, should be encircled by the walls of the capital, thereby causing misfortune, which every humane mind would wish to have avoided; but it is creditable to the arms of this country, and meritorious in the officers commanding the expedition, that every attempt was made to prevent a loss that was inevitable. As soon as success, my lords, enabled you to judge for yourselves, you found verified every prediction of the government; an arsenal over supplied with every material of equipment, magazines replete with stores, ascertained to 'have been purchased by the agents of France, and those demonstrations which could not escape the eye of seamen, that the fleet was on the eve of being fitted out. The result I need not add; that fleet is now safe and secure in the harbours of England, ready, if necessary, to be employed in her defence; and by so many ships of the line of which it is composed, by so many degrees do I consider the liberties of this envied country secure.—My lords, it is justly said in the speech, "That to place out of the reach of this confederacy the fleets of Portugal and Denmark was the indispensable duty of his majesty."And yet, my lords, I have heard it rumoured, 8 that a difference of opinion exists upon this subject (not in the country), but with some members of your lordships' house. If that is the case, I own I am curious to learn the argument that is to be advanced. Is it possible, my lords, that arty candid and impartial person can doubt the paramount necessity of this expedition? Permit me, my lords, to put the case the other way, and to suppose that his majesty's ministers, confiding in what is termed the faith of treaties, and refusing all other evidence, had neglected to avail themselves of the naval superiority of this country to secure the Danish fleet, what would have been the result Will any man doubt that the speech would now direct us to prepare against a naval confederacy composed of a force equal to forty sail of the line, from supposing the independent monarch of Sweden had been able to remain a quiet spectator, and that this force was destined against the most vulnerable parts of our empire. My lords, would not indignation have swelled the breast of every man in this country against a government so deficient and remiss? Censure would then have been appropriate; and at present I cannot admit it to be so; if the idea does exist. It is gratifying, my lords, to reflect upon the means employed to secure the navy of Portugal from the grasp of France, by recommending to that court to transfer the seat of their government to the Brazils? It is gratifying to see one government of Europe prefer emigration to submission to France. My lords, I consider that event (next to securing the Danish fleet) the most consequential that has occurred since the commencement of this eventful war, and provided a strict friendship and liberal policy is pursued by both nations, the most beneficial result may be seen. It is gratifying also to reflect, my lords, that at the very moment when our merchants are deprived of their trade with Russia, so large a portion of the continent of America is thrown open to their enterprise. Upon our late transactions with Russia, my lords, I do not mean to dwell; every one of your lordships must have read his majesty's reply to the aspersions of the court of Petersburgh; and every candid and impartial mind must be satisfied that the conduct of England is justified in a manner as honourable for the nation as creditable to those who framed that state paper; but, my lords, I am anxious to extract some good out of this evil, and I 9 forebode a benefit to arise to this country from the dereliction of Russia; I hope, my lords, we shall become independent of her for ever. If the legislature of these kingdoms will grant a liberal bounty to encourage the cultivation of hemp and flax, both at home and in the British colonies, we may yet live to greet the day of our quarrel with Russia, and even hail with satisfaction the inauspicious Treaty of Tilsit. With respect to the other powers of Europe, my lords, with the single exception of Sweden, they are prostrate at the feet of France, and until national energy and spirit returns, they must obey the mandates of their domineering master. But the conduct and spirit of the independent monarch of Sweden merits every eulogium; may Ike be successful to the last, and may We grant him all that aid so pointedly recommended by his majesty, and which such constancy and courage deserve! I trust, my lords, a British force will aid him in the Baltic, to defy his enemies, and that British gratitude will compensate any loss that he may be obliged to suffer, by transferring to him some of those colonies we can so well spare, and must soon take from our joint foes. My lords, I wish it was possible to animadvert with satisfaction upon the conduct of the United States of America; local knowledge, obtained by me at the early periods of the French revolution, enables me to form a very decided opinion with respect to that country, and I am sorry to say, my lords, I cannot form a flattering one. I am, however, happy to learn, by the tenor of the speech, that it is not the intention of his majesty's government to concede one point more to that illiberal and prejudiced people. My lords, we must make a stand somewhere; and where can we do it better than in defence of our seamen and our trade; which they unequivocally demand? if America prefers French alliance to British connection, it is not in your lordships power to controul her choice; nor can you prevent that war, which I do not wish to see take place; but which, if it does take place, my lords, I am confident, if pursued by us with judgment and reference to the American character and situation, no man need fear. With respect to the affair of the Chesapeake frigate, my lords, as a naval officer I may be permitted to be a little prejudiced, and to hold an opinion in some small degree differing, perhaps, from his majesty's government. It is not, however, 10 my intention to dispute the accuracy of their proclamation lately issued, nor the principle of respect which is due to national ships of war, as applicable to the governments and nations of Europe; but as merited by America, if all the detail of that transaction was before your lordships, I am inclined to think you yourselves would question. However, my lords, while the American navy is confined to a few frigates, the compensation that has been made may not be of material import; how far it may affect us hereafter, time only can shew. But, my lords, our chief concern is with France, with whom some individuals would make a peace. I have taken the liberty, my lords, to write down some of her sentiments upon this subject, as described, in what we may call her official paper, and wherein she informs you, conformably to her practice since the earliest periods of her revolution, of the conduct she means to pursue, and from which she has never varied, but from necessity alone. She proclaims, my lords, "That she will not lay down her arms, but will augment her force, until she has conquered the liberties of the seas, the first right of all nations." In recommending to us an armed truce, which she calls a peace, she says, "It shall endure until she chuses to proclaim anew the principles of her armed neutrality, when she permits you to proclaim your principles of maritime law?"—Now, my lords, is this that which you are willing to accept as your peace? Have we already forgot the peace of Amiens? Do we wish to see her seamen all restored, and the pendants of her ships going up, when ours will necessarily be coming down? Never will I believe that the good sense of this country will entertain the idea of peace, until moderation marks the conduct of this enemy, for his professions are not worthy of reflection. I am glad to see a great commercial city think like me, and I hope her opinions and example will be imitated by others. My lords, although the arms of Europe may appear on the side of France, I cannot believe their hearts are against this country. If we remain firm and unappalled, as recommended by his majesty and exemplified by himself, some balance may yet be preserved in Europe; if we yield, no man can foresee the consequences. Having now, my lords, though in a very inadequate manner, animadverted upon the prominent features of the speech, I shall 11 conclude my address to your lordships, in what may be termed a trite and common manner; but it is neither, on that account, the less appropriate nor required. I allude, my lords, to my hopes, that I may receive the unanimous concurrence of your lordships to the Address I am about to propose. Parliament was never assembled, my lords, at a period when the example of unanimity would be so beneficial: I therefore solicit it. To mark to the enemy we are unanimous in our opposition to him; to manifest to the people of this country we are unanimous, when their first and most essential interests are concerned; and to shew to his majesty that undiminished respect and attachment so much his due; to do our duty, my lords, in imitation of him, who through a long, arduous, but a glorious reign, has so conspicuously done his.—The noble earl concluded by moving an Address to his Majesty, which Address was, as usual, an echo of his majesty's speech, and nearly the same as that which we insert in this day's proceedings of the house of commons.
rose, and in a speech of some length supported the address. We have to express our regret that the tone of voice was so low in which the noble lord delivered himself, as to render it inaudible below the bar. We understood him to applaud decisively the Expedition to Denmark, as a measure of wise and vigorous policy, and one productive of the most salutary consequences; sentiments which he thought must be felt by every individual in the kingdom. He also adverted to the unprincipled and ambitious projects of the enemy, among which he included the imminent danger of Turkey, a consideration which he seemed to think worthy of the serious attention of the British government. He thought the address, when he recollected the language held out by certain noble lords at successive periods, could not consistently meet with opposition from any quarter. He also adverted to our dispute with America, and applauded the spirit with which his majesty's ministers had conducted themselves in not surrendering the naval rights of the country to the claims of those people; and concluded by hoping that all trifling differences of opinion would, on this occasion, give way to the public good, and that all their lordships would be unanimous in voting for the address.
The Duke of Norfolk
felt as much as 12 any noble lord in the house the vast importance of their coming to an unanimous vote upon the present occasion, and therefore he was sorry that not the least tittle, of information had been' given to one of the most material points in his majesty's speech, as the want of that information might render the unanimity extremely doubtful. The point he alluded to was the expedition to Copenhagen, and he could not enforce its importance in stronger terms that those which his majesty had been advised to make use of in his speech; for it was therein stated, that it was with the utmost reluctance that the orders had been given; but of the nature of the cause for surmounting that reluctance, and attacking, even the capital of, he might say, an ally, their lordships were left in perfect ignorance, and to all appearance were so to remain; for although it was noticed that orders had been given for laying various other papers before parliament, not a single document relative to Denmark was alluded to. The noble lord who moved the address had said, he should listen with curiosity to any arguments which might be attempted against that transaction; for that noble lord he had the highest respect, and consequently could entertain no doubt but he sincerely approved of an action which he so much extolled; but then, he must suppose that noble lord had been made acquainted with those particulars, and that information, which he thought the whole house was entitled to have, nay, ought to have, before they came to a resolution for the approval of such a measure. The noble duke said, he did not wish it to be understood that he meant to condemn the expedition; for, perhaps, if he was as well informed as he presumed the noble lord must be, he might be as great an advocate for it as the noble lord himself; but until he had sufficient reason, he could not bring his mind to approve of attacking a power with whom we had been so long in amity, and who had given so many instances of attachment to this country; and therefore, as no information was either offered or promised, he should move as an Amendment to the Address, "That the whole paragraph approving the late expedition to Denmark should he omitted." There were other parts that he did not entirely approve, but he would not detain their lordships by animadverting upon them at present, and therefore concluded by moving the above amendment.
began with expressing his regret, that the speech had not been so constructed as to ensure the unanimity of all parties. He lamented that ministers had not abstained from introducing topics upon which a difference of opinion was likely to prevail. He fully agreed with the noble baron, who seconded the motion, that it was desirable in the highest degree, that all minor contests should be absorbed in the great contest in which we were engaged. He lamented exceedingly, that he found it impossible to concur in the expressions of approbation which were unfortunately introduced in the address; but he could not, consistently with his duty to his sovereign, or his respect for his own character, concur in approving what had taken place at Copenhagen, without further information. On that momentous measure, he trusted ministers would yet be able to lay such documents before the house as would justify an enter-prize deeply involving the honour and character of the nation. The noble earl had set out with stating, that Denmark, for several years past, had indicated an hostile disposition towards this country. In what were these indications manifested? Were they indicated in the conduct of that power when the British fleet entered the Baltic? At that time the Danish army was in Holstein; prepared to resist the French, or any other power that should attempt to violate their neutrality. Was the Danish navy prepared either to make or repel an attack? He should be told, that the quantity of naval stores collected in the arsenal of Copenhagen was a proof of the hostile intentions of that court. These, it was said, were collected on account of France, and for French purposes. But these could not have been the motives of the expedition to the Baltic. When did this perfect understanding between Denmark and France take place? Was it before or after the peace of Tilsit? The Definitive Treaty between France and Russia was signed on the 8th of July, and lord Gambier entered the Baltic on the 3d of August. This circumstance was sufficient to prove that ministers did not act upon any information they had obtained of the secret engagements entered into between France and Russia, and in which they would have it to be understood Denmark concurred. To justify, therefore, the attack upon Copenhagen, it ought to have been proved that the danger was a danger of great magnitude, and such as could not be warded off 14 by any other means; for, certainly, the calamity inflicted was not proportioned to the calamity apprehended. He hoped, for the honour of the nation, it would be made evident that the danger was great. He could not give his assent to the opinion, that if Holstein were occupied by the French, Zealand would be at their mercy. Nothing but such a frost as would render the Great Belt passable by an army, could have endangered the safety of that island. He had conversed with many naval and military persons of great experience, and they fully acquiesced in this opinion. His lordship used many other arguments to prove the impracticability of the French getting to Zealand, and thereby obtaining possession of the Danish fleet; but, supposing they had, he would not so derogate from the valour, the activity, and the exalted character of the British navy, as to admit for one moment, that any well-grounded apprehenons was to be entertained from the addition of 16 sail of the line to the maritime strength of the enemy. The ships were much inferior to British, French, or Spanish: but it was not ships, but men, that this country wanted. If our dangers were not increased by the attack upon Copenhagen, those of our ally certainly were. Did ministers never contemplate the possibility of that measure being retorted upon powers for which they must feel interested? had they no apprehension that Russia, France and Denmark might be brought to coalesce against Sweden?—Having briefly touched upon them in the commencement of his speech, he would not lay any further stress upon the contradictory statements respecting the measures which were adopted in consequence of the result of the negotiations of Tilsit. He should have been more disposed to approve what they had done in the Baltic, if they had acted consistently. If they had attacked Cronstadt, taken possession of the Russian navy, and by such an enterprize made us the undisputed masters of that sea, such an act would have been consistent with the magnanimity of justice, and it was much more practicable than might be conceived. All the wars, from the accession of king William to the present hour, in which this country, was engaged, had been founded upon the principle of upholding the law of nations; 'and this was particularly the case with respect to the war which commenced in 1793, and which had continued with little interrup- 15 tion ever since. From that great principle, he could admit no deviation. On these grounds, therefore, he could not, with the present means of information which he had on the subject, vote for an unqualified approbation of the expedition to Copenhagen. There was one part of the address, however, from which he could not withhold his unqualified approbation. He could not speak in terms of adequate applause of the emigration of the court of Lisbon. It was a measure which reflected immortal honour upon the sovereign of that country, and which promised the greatest advantages to England, not immediately indeed, but ultimately. That measure, in every view which lie had been able to take of it, opened the most cheering prospect to this nation. With regard to the dispute with America, on the question of our maritime rights, he thought the government had acted wisely in the late Order issued by them, in which they did not insist on the right to search ships of war. We should not be carried away with an idea of our power; and our restrictive policy should be commensurate to the exigency of the case. He wished it had been long before made known that it was not right to search ships of war on the high seas. He earnestly recommended to ministers to inquire into the state of the West India colonies; and to afford them some relief in their distressed situation. The noble viscount, adverting to the subject of peace, took occasion to applaud the conduct of a noble lord (Milton) in Yorkshire, who had exalted his character, by dissuading the people there from petitioning for peace. There was no ground for calling in question the disposition of ministers to make peace, when it could be done with security and honour to the country: The way to restore peace was, to adopt a plan of expenditure that should enable us to carry on the war, and to convince the enemy of the hopelessness of his pursuing it with a view of ruining our finances. It was in vain to look for a secure peace, unless a military system should be adopted, that would be available in peace as well as in war. The noble lord again declared, that he could not concur in the address, unless the part alluded to was omitted.
The Earl of Aberdeen
defended the expedition to Copenhagen; and maintained, that self-protection was a leading principle of the law of nations. There wanted no greater proof of the inability of the Danish government to resist the power of 16 France, and the determination of the latter power to compel it to join in hostility against this country, than their joining the Northern confederacy, in 1801, and alleging as a reason for it, their inability to resist the power of Russia. It was in vain, therefore, to urge, that Denmark might have resisted the power of France, and thus draw an inference against the expedition, as it was evident she could not; added to which, she had repeatedly evinced hostility against this country. Much had been said against the extraordinary and unprecedented nature of this expedition; but there was a precedent of a very recent date, in the conduct of the late administration, with respect to Turkey; and he did not conceive it more probable that the Turkish fleet should sail into the English channel than the Danish.
§ Lord Grenville
rose and spoke as follows:—There are so many points, my lords, in the speech which has been this day delivered to the house, that appear to me necessary to be adverted to, that I should do injustice to my feelings if I did not endeavour to state them to your lordships. No noble lord could come into this house with a more anxious wish and expectation, with a more sincere desire than I did this night, that at a period like the present, every petty contest and private difference should be sacrificed to the greater object of unanimity, in an address to the throne. At a period which, as the speech expresses it, may be called the crisis of our fate; when. it becomes now a question, whether the British empire, the growth of so many ages; whether the British constitution, which has for so long a period promoted and extended the interests and happiness of the empire, whether these shall now be overthrown and crumbled into ruins. At such a period, I was led anxiously to expect, it was my most earnest wish and desire, that every petty triumph, that every little feeling, would have been given up and merged in the great cause of the country; that the house would not have been called upon to pledge itself upon disputed points, or to approve of measures without any evidence of their necessity or utility. It was to have been expected, particularly from those who were the friends of our illustrious statesman, now no more (Mr. Pitt), whose name can never be mentioned without that tribute which is due to his great and exalted merits, that they would have followed his example, in abstaining from those points which so immediately 17 tend to prevent that unanimity so desirable at the present crisis. From the commencement of the war in the year 1793, down to the termination of the administration of that illustrious statesman, in no speech delivered to parliament at the commencement of a session were parliament called upon to pledge. themselves in support of measures, without evidence before them of the propriety or utility of such measures; in no case were they called upon to approve of measures, before the papers relating to, them were produced, whereon a judgment might be formed, according to the evidence of the case. Yet, in this instance have ministers, departing from so salutary a rule, and in violation of every principle that ought to actuate their conduct upon such an occasion, not only called upon parliament to approve of measures which nothing but absolute necessity could justify, and respecting the necessity of which not a tittle of evidence is produced, but have even called upon parliament to applaud other measures now, respecting which papers are hereafter to be produced, upon which alone the propriety of such measures can be justified. Thus have they called upon this house to approve of the expedition to Copenhagen, although not the slightest evidence is before your lordships, to enable you to judge of its necessity, and to congratulate his majesty on the refusal of the Russian mediation, respecting which the documents, providing the grounds of that refusal, and upon which alone we can form our judgment, are promised to be laid before the house. ? Even were we to give our approbation of the former measure without any evidence before us, it would be no sanction; it would be no testimony of its necessity, or its policy; for even a righteous' judgment would be an unrighteous one, if given without evidence; nor can I conceive any thing more incongruous, than to call upon your lordships already, to approve of a measure, before the documents respecting it, which are promised, are laid before the house. With respect to Denmark, my lords, I have hitherto refrained, as was my duty, from expressing an opinion; I have refrained from ? even forming an opinion, Willing to believe that there were circumstances which justified the expedition to Copenhagen, and anxiously expecting, that at the meeting of parliament, evidence respecting those circumstances would be laid before your lordships' house; or, at least, that some information would be pro- 18 duced, enabling your lordships to judge of the necessity of that measure. It is truly said, my lords, in the speech, that the eyes of Europe and of the world are fixed upon the British parliament. There is on the continent of Europe a great' reliance in the integrity and in the justice of the British parliament; they look with anxiety for its, decision upon the motives and the policy of that expedition. It has already made an impression throughout the continent unfavourable to this country. How Much greater will that impression 'be, if parliament gives its decision, approving of that expedition; and still more, if it does so, without any evidence or information upon the subject. What must then be the opinion on the continent of Europe, when they find the British parliament not only approving of such an expedition, but giving their approbation without an iota of evidence before them; without the slightest information that could tend to establish its justification? When I first heard of the expedition, I conceived that there might exist circumstances 'to justify it, although none but those of the most urgent nature could. I received, at a considerable distance from town, his majesty's Declaration respecting that expedition, and found that secret articles were stated to exist in the Treaty of Tilsit, which proved the determination to form a hostile' confederacy against this country, of which Denmark Was to form a part. Then came the Declaration 'respecting Russia, in which we were told not of secret articles, but of arrangements made at Tilsit; and now the speech, which we have this day heard, says not one word about either. When the grounds upon which the expedition to Copenhagen is justified, are thus shifted, is it not of the utmost importance, that we should have some information as to the real state of the case? We find ministers making a strong assertion in the outset; that assertion is afterwards weakened, and now, is not at all mentioned in the speech this day; namely, respecting the secret articles or arrangements at Tilsit, which formed the ground-work of the justification of the Copenhagen expedition, and yet no information upon the subject is laid before the house. Ministers have asserted, that there were secret articles in the Treaty of Tilsit, affecting the interests of this country, and the French government have asserted that there were none. Here, then, was a challenge; and it was incumbent upon ministers to prove their former assertion; 19 but this they have not attempted to do, and have given up the assertion in the speech. I am well aware, that there might be circumstances expedition would imperatively justify an expedition like that to Copenhagen: it is laid down by the most approved writers on the law of nations, that where you have certain evidence of the intention of an enemy to seize upon a neutral territory, neutral vessels, or property, such neural being incapable of resisting, and thereby to place you in imminent danger, you have a right to seize such neutral territory, vessels, or property, in order to insure your own safety. The same writers, however, state the dreadful consequences which would result from the application of such a doctrine, unless the imperative circumstances are clearly proved and accurately defined; the danger ought to be clearly established, and the incapability of the neutral to defend itself. We are told in the speech, that his majesty had information that France intended to collect a large force to bear against this country. My lords, can any one of us doubt this, or that this country would be equally desirous to bring a large force to bear against France? But how does this bear upon the point? Even if Denmark had become a party to a treaty against this country, could that be a justification for seizing her fleet or her territories? We know how France has acted upon this principle on the case of Naples which became a party to the coalition against France, which I fear is lost to its sovereign for ever; and in the case of Hesse, where there was only a suspicion that the sovereign was favourable to the cause of the coalition against France. It is said, however, that the hostility of Denmark is clearly proved; and in what manner? because her fleet was in a state of preparation, and because she had, at different times, evinced a hostile feeling towards this ? country. With respect to her fleet, was it not natural, when all the powers around her were at war, that she should be in-a state of preparation? But, my lords, if I am not grossly misinformed, so far from that being the case, the greater part of the Danish ships were laid up in ordinary. Upon this part of the subject, however, I trust that parliament will call for information; as in this respect information may be easily obtained, and may certainly be imparted without the slightest danger. As to the acts evincing the hostile feeling of Denmark, is it to be con- 20 tended, that acts, long since buried in oblivion, are now to be raised up again to prove the hostility of Denmark? Is it because she was hostile in 1801, that she must be hostile in 1807? But, it is said, that Denmark was not disposed to resist the demands of France, and yet it was owing to her sending her troops into Holstein to resist the encroachments of France, that our expedition conquered Zealand, and seized the Danish fleet. It is said, however, that, had Denmark been disposed to resist France, she was unable; and an inference of this nature has been drawn from an allegation, stated to have been made by that power in 1801, that she joined the coalition against this country, because she was unable to resist the power of Russia. This statement, I am inclined to think, is incorrect. In those transactions in 1801, I bore a part, until about February or March in that year; and I am positive that no such Declaration was then made by Denmark, nor do I think, from the facts of the case, that it could be made afterwards; because Denmark was not incidentally drawn into the coalition, but was the main instrument in forming the league; but, although she might make such an assertion, for the purpose of softening her conduct towards England, yet it does not at all bear upon the present case. It is contended, however, that if the French troops occupied Holstein, Zealand must fall of course; but this is not at all proved. On the contrary, there are between Holstein and Zealand two passages of the sea, the one six and the other sixteen miles wide, which a French army must cross to invade Zealand, and where they might be met with effect by British or Danish ships. If it is to be contended that Zealand must fall, if Holstein were occupied by French troops, it might as well be said, that England must be conquered by the French, because they occupy the continent of France, there being only a channel 21 miles broad between Dover and Calais, only five miles wider than the passage between Holstein, and Zealand. I am aware that the latter' passage is sometimes frozen over; but still the difficulties of transporting a large army over such a breadth of ice, and with all the articles necessary for such a force, would be a most insuperable obstacle.—Thus, the case with respect to Denmark rests entirely upon assumptions in the first instance, which are afterwards magnified into assertions, and at length introduced, by ministers, as facts into the speech delivered this 21 day to parliament; a conduct highly reprehensible, and deserving the severest reprobation. It has been argued, however, by the noble earl who spoke last, that the expedition to Copenhagen had a precedent in the expedition to Constantinople. If it is meant to be contended, that the expedition to Constantinople was an instance of bad faith, how is that to justify another instance of bad faith? if the late ministers were wrong in advising the expedition to Turkey, let them be condemned; but do not let them have the mortification of having it quoted as a justification of an act of bad faith. The facts, however, are, that the expedition to Turkey was chiefly in conformity with the treaty with Russia, and that its object was, not to seize the Turkish fleet, but to compel the execution of treaties.— With respect to the other points of the speech, I cannot help lamenting, that, on the subject of peace, it should be so worded as to tend to induce a belief that peace would be rejected. Upon this subject the noble viscount (Sid-mouth) has nearly anticipated all the arguments which I meant to urge. When we contemplate the crisis in which we are placed, and the information derived from the speech, by which we learn, that in addition to the hostility of France, Spain, Holland and Italy, which we knew before, Russia, Austria and Denmark are also hostile, and Portugal lost, we surely may be excused for considering, whether any means exist of obtaining a just and honourable peace. I agree perfectly in the praise given by the noble viscount to the noble lord (Milton), who, in spite of clamour and delusion, manfully declared sentiments which evinced a just and magnanimous, as well as a judicious and correct mind. I would be the last man to call in question the right of the people to petition, but I do not think that peace is to be obtained by petitioning the throne. Petitions of such a nature are injurious, not because they impart to Bonaparte any new fact with respect to the situation of the country; but, because they tend to convey to the enemy an exaggerated representation of that situation, which rather tends to retard than accelerate peace. Anxiety must, however, naturally be produced, when in addition to the enemies already enumerated, when nearly the whole coast of the continent is a hostile shore, we find that there is a probability of a war with the United States of America. Such an unexampled crisis calls for the exertion of 22 every energy of the country, whilst at the same time one cannot help looking forward with great anxiety to the future.—With regard to the two propositions asserted by ministers; first, that we should not enter into a negotiation, unless the basis of that negotiation be previously stated; and, secondly, that we should not avail ourselves of ale 'mediation of any power, not perfectly impartial, or suspected of partiality to the enemy, I cannot conceive any thing more preposterous. The second proposition is peculiarly untenable, because we do not accept a mediator as an umpire, but merely as a medium for facilitating our communications with the enemy. If the mediator be partial to the enemy, what injury can result to us? we are not bound by his sentiments; and we may avail ourselves of his interposition, by rejecting which we may provoke him to declare against us. Such, precisely, has been the case with respect to Russia. That there might be reasons for rejecting the mediation of Russia, and that we had the right to make that rejection, if adequate reasons existed, do not mean to deny. But let us not promulgate new doctrines, which are equally irreconcileable with practice and principle. Now, as to the first proposition, I contend, that in the whole history of this country, or of the negotiations of other civilized nations, no precedents can be found to sustain it. If ministers can produce me one instance in which the statement of a basis has Teen insisted upon, as a preliminary to negociation, I pledge myself to produce ten instances of a contrary practice; and, as to the precedent of the last negociation, I should draw from it quite a different conclusion from that which ministers seem disposed to press; for I think it must be manifest, that the case of that negociation proves how unimportant it is to the object of a negociation to obtain the previous statement of a basis. In fact, such a thing is a matter of no consequence, and ought not to be insisted upon.—As to that topic of the speech which relates to Portugal, it appears to me, that ministers have appreciated the subject very erroneously indeed. The simple questions are, what have we lost, and what have we gained by the emigration of the court to the Brazils? We have lost, as a publication of the enemy recently stated, two of the most important ports for us on the whole coast of the continent of Europe (Lisbon and Oporto). And what have we gained? sir George Staunton 23 states, that when be was at Rio de Janeiro, the shops Were glutted with English goods. What then are we to obtain in addition by the presence of the prince of Brazils in that settlement? How, I would ask ministers, are the Brazils to be made more productive for this country, than they have been, by any other means than t hose which would tend to the consummate ruin of our own colonies? I do not mean to revive the question of the Slave Trade with this or any other topic. But, I contend, that the increased culture of the Brazils, far from being of service, would be injurious to you; and I cannot conceive, how the emigration of the court of Portugal to that territory, can extend the market Portugal your goods, which it had already afforded you. Indeed, I am rather of opinion, with, a late demi-official declaration of the enemy, that the transfer of the Portuguese government to the Brazils will turn out more advantageous for France, than for this country. In so far as this emigration shews any friendship for us, or as it presents a contrast to the conduct of other powers, it certainly forms a grateful subject for the contemplation of mankind. But, as to the commercial or political advantages to be derived from it to this country, I cannot consent to delude my, countrymen by holding out such an idea.—In all that I have said, my lords, I have carefully abstained from any personal reference to the conduct of those by whom his majesty's government is at present directed. My object is to consider their measures, and by those measures to appreciate their merits. I must, however, take notice of some at least apparent contradictions in the language and conduct of the noble lords on the' other side. In reviewing the dreadful catalogue of evils which menace this country, I do believe that I speak the universal sentiment when I say, that the greatest additional calamity for us, and the greatest advantage for France that can well be imagined, would be a war with America. Such, indeed, is the language of ministers themselves; and yet what has been their conduct? Why, at the very time when it is most material to avoid such a war, they, as I am ready to maintain, absolutely alter the law of the land to promote it. Ministers state, and in that I agree with them, that no difficulty or danger can befal, the country equal to that of acquiescing in the surrender of our maritime rights. If America were to put forth such a claim, then a call upon parliament and the country to resist it would 24 be, unanimously answered in the affirmative. But America has not asserted any such claim. It has, indeed, been stated that she has, and we have been told by some noble lords on the other side, that too much concession has been already made to that power. What do noble lords mean by concession? I wish when such assertions are made, those who make them would state some particulars. If they refer to the late Treaty with America, which the American government refused to ratify, I contend, that so far from too much concession being made in that treaty, it absolutely went to impose restrictions upon American commerce far greater than those mentioned in the Declaration of the Secretary of State. But, yet, the late ministers felt the force, and were alive to the importance of all the reasons which should urge this country to avoid a war with America. The identity of language, the similarity of habits, the old, the commercial, the family connections, had ail their just weight in our consideration of the jubject. We, therefore, determined to preserve the old laws which regulated our intercourse; and I entertain not the smallest doubt, that had the course we commenced been consistently pursued, it would have answered the end in view, by preserving the amicable relations and just interests of both countries.—The speech, I observe, studiously separates the two questions involved in our controversy with America; namely, that of the affair of the Chesapeake, and that relating to our Orders of Council. But, does any man suppose, that those questions will be separated in America? No: nor can they be separated in discussion here. In examining the Orders of Council, they must be considered in three points of view; first, as they affect our commerce; secondly, as they affect the constitution; and lastly, as they affect our negociations with America. When all the papers relative to this important question 'are laid before the house, it will be for us particularly to inquire, whether his majesty's government can constitutionally enact such prohibitions, as these Orders of Council contain; next, whether the time chosen for issuing those orders was not peculiarly exceptionable, as they must serve so much to inflame the minds of the Americans, already so strongly excited against us; and also, whether we had any right thus to annihilate the whole trade of America—thus to say to that power, as our Orders 25 distinctly expressed, "Not a ship of yours shall sail which shall not be subject to confiscation by us, or to conditions which shall subject it to confiscation by the enemy?" I repeat, that this is the language which the decree of ministers proclaims to America, and I would ask, whether such language is reconcileable with any law, or usage, or principle of equity? Let me, then, intreat your lordships deeply to consider this subject; to examine its policy; to interpose your authority and influence for the purpose of restoring moderation and justice to your government. What the late ministers did in consequence of Bonaparte's Decree of blockading of the British isles is in the recollection of the house. They retaliated, not Upon America or the neutral powers, but upon France. The Orders of Council, however, commence with an assertion, which I find echoed in his majesty's speech. In that speech I see, for the first time, a thing unparalleled in any production of this nature upon record; namely, an imputation cast upon the conduct of his majesty's government for the last 15 years. But, when such an imputation is cast, I would call for proofs to sustain it. When Bonaparte issued his blockading Decree, we expressed a hope that such a decree would not be acted upon. We might be thought too sanguine in that hope; and yet we were not altogether disappointed. But, what have the present ministers done by their Orders of Council? Why, instead of urging Bonaparte to revoke his decree, they have produced the issue of other decrees, to strengthen and confirm that which, in fact, could never have been executed, if it were not for the aid derived from our Orders of Council. What did we do? We adhered to the principles of the law of nations. It has always been a principle of that law, that the trade between the enemy's ports should be interdicted during war, and we extended that interdict to Holland, Spain, and the other nations, which we found to be subservient to the commands of the enemy. We did not attempt to extend a system of blockade for all Europe, by taking the course which the present ministers have done in their Orders of Council, and in which I maintain they have actually violated an article of Magna Charta. They could not, I contend, upon the king's authority, constitutionally decree such extraordinary prohibitions. But, their mode, of proceeding has been altogether excep- 26 tionable. Our course ought to be, to ask the neutral powers whether they meant to submit to Bonaparte's blockading decree? and if so, that we must act accordingly. Now, this course we did take; but the present ministers did not wait for any reply to this requisition, at least from America, before they issued their Orders of Council. Now, it turns out, as I am informed, that America received the most satisfactory assurances from the French government, that its blockading decree would not be acted upon against American shipping. In point of fact, it appears, that it never was so acted upon. Why, then, the whole foundation upon which our Orders of Council profess to rest, is done away, and ministers, by their indiscreet precipitancy, have put unnecessary fetters upon our own commerce, and most unjust restrictions, or rather a total prohibition, upon the commerce of America. But, what the farther consequences of such precipitancy may be, it is painful to contemplate. What must be their operation in America! now, much must this aid the views of the French party, if such a party be there! Had you waited for the answer of the American government, before you issued these Orders of Council, and had such answer implied an acquiescence in the French decree, then your friends in America might have maintained that any restrictions imposed through you upon American trade were attributable to the hostility of France and the connivance of the American government. This impression would have been highly serviceable to you in America, and prejudicial to France. But, your haste has rendered that hopeless. France; however, never did, as I have already said, act under its extravagant decree, against any American ship. Indeed, I do not think that it ever meant to enforce such a decree. That and all the other decrees of the same character which have since followed, were, A firmly believe, but mere experiments upon the wisdom and discretion of the British government; and these experiments have unfortunately had but too much success. France irritated you to come forward and execute decrees which, if it were not for your aid, must have been a mere dead letter, except in her own ports, in which you could not at any time interfere with her jurisdiction. The French decrees could in fact avail nothing, if you had acted prudently. But, in aggravation of the other mischiefs resulting from your conduct, you 27 have placed this country in that state, with respect to America, in which France would have been, had your course been different. For, although France, by its decree, originated the system of restriction, yet all the odium of the system will attach to you in America, in consequence, of your inconsiderate haste. Your conduct must be viewed with reference to this, as well as the other topics I have referred to, when we come to consider those Orders of Council. I hope I shall always be found to stand up, and, I trust, firmly, for the rights and privileges of my country; but, yet, I would ask, does any privilege belong to us, is any principle to be found that can warrant the restrictions which ministers have imposed upon American commerce? And I would also ask, upon what grounds the paragraph in the speech, which refers to these restrictions, can he justified? I allude to that paragraph which implies a censure upon the conduct of his majesty's government for a series of years, by regretting his adherence to justice and moderation. Such, I am certain, are not the personal sentiments of his majesty: no, they are contrary to every principle of his life; they are, indeed, in that proportion, unfit to be put into such a declaration. The plain interpretation, in fact, of this paragraph is this, "that we have been too long carrying on a most unequal contest of justice against injustice." But, if so, I maintain, that all the advantages of the contest have been on our side. Is this the day, then, in which we are to be told, that for the last 15 years we have suffered by following the principles of justice? Could that great man, (Mr. Pitt) whose opinion has had such influence on our councils during that period, could he, my lords, look down upon this declaration, how much would he deprecate the sentiment, that we ought to terminate the "unequal contest in which we have been engaged, of justice against injustice!"—The noble baron here shortly recapitulated the topics upon which he had touched, and concluded with an impressive appeal to the house, as to the necessity of an immediate inquiry into the state of Ireland, with a view to the adoption of measures, calculated to conciliate the population of that country. The principal points to which he would direct the attention of the house upon this subject were familiar to their lordships, and he conjured his majesty's ministers to use their utmost endeavours to remove every obstruction to the attainment of those objects; 28 for, compared to the question of Ireland, every other subject which called for their attention—?every topic that had been alluded to in the course of the debate, was trifling—?was, in fact, little else than driving nails into the sheathing of a ship, while her main timbers were on the point of starting.
§ Lord Hawkesbury
said, he should not have considered the conduct of his majesty's ministers justified, if they had not taken the first opportunity at the meeting of parliament, to ask for the support and unanimity of parliament. It had been demanded by a noble lord (Grenville), on what principles had ministers undertaken the attack on Copenhagen? Unless there were circumstances to make the noble lord disbelieve what his majesty's speech contained on that subject, the noble lord ought to believe it; there were facts and proofs before he world to justify the conduct of his majesty's ministers. The noble lord had misunderstood the facts, when he asserted that this country did not acquire its information by legitimate means. If the government had acquired it by illegitimate means, they had done an act which merited reprehension in the eyes of the world. No sooner had Austria and Russia fallen, than France became ruler of the continent of Europe. Our enemy had the power and the will to injure us, and the situation of Europe justified ministers in adopting any offensive or defensive measures, necessary for the protection of this country against the power of France. When France declared our ports in a state of blockade, the interests of neutral states were reciprocal; but neutral states were bound to protect themselves; and if they did not do so, England was entitled, by the law of nations, to adopt principles necessary to support her commerce, and for her preservation. He would ask the noble lord, whether there was any state on the continent of Europe where justice was to be had on the established law of nations? The law was the will of the French, and consequently the law of Great Britain must be to provide for her preservation. He had no hesitation in saying, his majesty's government did receive information that there were secret engagements in the treaty of Tilsit to employ the navies of Denmark and Portugal against this country. The evidence required by the noble lord to prove this fact, was of a description which could not possibly be produced. If government were to communicate private in- 29 formation there would be an end of all confidence, and at this time, when Europe was under the controul of France, the lives of individuals, friendly to this country, would inevitably fall a sacrifice. There were, however, facts in corroboration, which proved that his majesty's ministers did receive private information of the nature alluded to, and no statement appeared, even in the papers published by order of the French government, to contradict the assertion. That information was corroborated by a variety of other channels wholly unconnected with each other. It was corroborated by the testimony of the government of Portugal, to whom it was proposed to make common cause with the continent against England, and to unite their fleet with that of Spain, of France, and of Denmark, to enable the confederacy to make a general attack upon these islands. It was corroborated by the testimony of different persons in Ireland, where, strange to say, all the designs and projects of the enemy were most speedily known, and where it was promised that the combined fleets of Spain, Portugal, and Denmark, would make a descent both on Ireland and this country. Nay, what was more, not only were these means pointed out to the disaffected in Ireland, but they were, moreover, made acquainted with the period of time when the design was to be carried into execution. As to the intentions of Denmark towards this country, as little doubt could be entertained. It was now well known that Denmark, upon a comparison of the inconveniences that would result from a rupture with this country and with France, was of opinion that the disadvantages of a war with France would be less than those of a war with England; and, as to the state of forward preparation of her fleet, certain circumstances appeared to our naval officers, which proved to them that the fleet was intended soon to put to sea.—Now, as to the question, why we did not also attack the Russian fleet, there were abundant reasons for not doing it. Was it wished that we should have proceeded to Cronstadt and seize the Russian fleet, while we left the Danish fleet of 16 sail of the line behind us? The Russian fleet, besides, was not so ready for sea, nor so well calculated in any respect as the Danish fleet to carry the designs of the enemy into execution. Moreover, there were many circumstances in the Treaty of Tilsit, which indisposed the people of 30 Russia against that treaty, and even at the time the seizure of the banish fleet was known at Petersburg, the emperor of Russia seemed more disposed than before' to renew his relations with this country.—As to all that had been urged against the Orders in Council, and against the dispute with America, those were questions he should not now enter into. While negociation with America was pending, it was doubtless better to abstain from any discussion that would only tend more to inflame the minds of the two countries.—He lamented the uncalled-for mention of the state of Ireland. The concessions alluded to by the noble baron could not now be thought of Indeed, even if those concessions were made, still greater ones would be called for, and there would be no end to such demands. He had made it his business to trace the evil in Ireland to its remotest source; and he was convinced that the concessions alluded to would not quiet the people of that country for one single month.
§ The Earl of Buckinghamshire
said, he gave the noble lord credit for the truth of the information he had received, but he had not seen any document to prove that Denmark was in league with France, or that the Danish fleet was to be employed by the enemy. He referred to Mr. Pitt's opinions respecting the rights of independent states, and contended, that that great statesman would never have countenanced such a proceeding as the attack upon Denmark.
The Earl of Lauderdale
considered it an extraordinary mode of endeavouring to procure unanimity, by withholding all documents, if there were any that could give authenticity to the statement of ministers. Why were not the Secret Articles of the Treaty of Tilsit produced? It would not be necessary to give the names of the persons who communicated to ministers their information; but, if it existed, surely they might give the information itself to the house. The fact was, however, that the Treaty of Tilsit had nothing to do with the attack upon Copenhagen. That treaty was concluded in July; the attack on Copenhagen took place early in August, and the Expedition must have been at least some weeks in preparation. With respect to the stores said to have been collecting at Copenhagen, it was well known, that the Danish government annually expended a certain sum in laying in naval stores, but not more this year 31 than usual. The Danish fleet was far from being well equipped, even when sent over here. But the Danes were said to be in hostility with us. Surely, when we attacked a man's property, we had no right to consider it as an aggression that he endeavoured to repel us. The noble lord then took a view of the conduct of ministers with regard to Portugal. He thought, the flattering prospects held out respecting the, trade to the Brazils extremely delusive, and observed, that notwithstanding the secret understanding which ministers pretended they had with Portugal, the Prince Regent would have remained at Lisbon, had not an article appeared in the Moniteur stating that the House of Braganza had "ceased to reign." The Plate Orders of Council he declared to be highly unconstitutional, as they confiscated property, and dispensed with the Navigation Act, without the authority of parliament.
§ Lord Mulgrave
said, that ministers never pretended to have possession of any Secret Articles of the Treaty of Tilsit; but they were possessed of secret projects and agreements entered into at Tilsit. With regard to Portugal, he assured the noble earl, that there was not only an understanding with that power, but that a secret treaty had been concluded between his majesty and the Prince Regent. The, only reason why that treaty was not laid on the table was, that it contained an article, stipulating that, it should not be made public without the consent of both the contracting parties. He could not communicate it until that authority was given.—The motion for the amendment moved by the duke of Norfolk was then put and negatived.
§ Lord Grenville
rose to move another amendment. The address implied an approbation of the rejection of the offered mediation of Russia. Instead of which he proposed to insert words, which would have the effect of stating, that their lordships could not but feel that their approbation must depend upon the circumstances of the case; and that they therefore could not express any opinion upon the subject, until the necessary information was submitted to them.—This amendment was put, and also negatived without a division. The original Address was then agreed to, and ordered to be presented to his majesty in the usual form.