§ Earl Grey
rose and said, that when he recollected the importance of the war now carrying on by France against Spain—when he adverted to the consequences likely to result from it, and the manner in which it would affect this country, as well as the dangers which threatened the peace of Europe, he was assured their lordships would feel with him the necessity of having before them every paper on a subject of such para- 171 mount importance. He should not, therefore, trouble the House with any further apology for the motions which he intended to make, with a view of throwing a light on the subject. The first point on which he wished to obtain some information was one which had created some sensation; and he should be glad if any thing satisfactory could be added to what had been said in explanation of the transaction in another place. He alluded to the capture of a Spanish ship by a French man of war, which must have sailed from France before the advance of the French army, and must, therefore, have had her orders whilst the French government were making those pacific assurances on which his majesty's ministers had relied for the preservation of peace, and on the faith of which they had induced this and the other House of Parliament to abstain from all inquiries with a view to the accomplishment of their hopes. It was with a view of enabling his majesty's ministers to contradict, on the part of the French government, what at present appeared an act of the greatest perfidy, that he now mentioned the matter. If this country could stand by, and see the greater infamy of the invasion of Spain by France, because the former had made alterations in her constitution which concerned herself alone—if we could see this odious and indefensible aggression, and think the interests of this country required us to maintain a strict neutrality, he did not think we had any right to interfere in that lesser act of robbery and plunder—the seizure of the Spanish ship before the French army had marched, and whilst negotiations were still pending. It was with the view, therefore, of relieving the French government from this act of perfidy and villainy that he thought himself now called upon to ask for some explanation, and with a view also to relieve his majesty's ministers from the odium of having been so grossly deluded. He had before alluded to what had passed in another place, when a secretary of state was stated to have said, "that a representation was immediately made to the French government, the answer to which was, to a certain extent, satisfactory:" but as all the facts must have been long since ascertained, he thought there was no reasonable ground for refusing, the papers which he now wished for, in order to a full understanding of the transaction.
172 The next point to which he wished to call the attention of the House related to an act of the provisional government established in Spain, he believed, by the duke ďAngoulême, but certainly under the protection of the French government and army. He had read in the public papers a proclamation by that provisional government, in which they declared, that all acts done by the present government of Spain, since 1820, should be null and void. The consequence of this would be, that not only all acts of an internal nature, but all engagements with foreign powers, including the engagements made with this country, to render satisfaction for injuries done to our trade in the West Indies would be null and void. This proclamation was made by the provisional government, and must be supposed to have the sanction of the duke ďAngoulême. He should be glad if it were not so; but he thought his majesty's ministers were bound to show that they had made representations to the French government on a subject so deeply affecting our interests, and to show also what satisfaction they had obtained. This was a point on which he thought representations ought to have been made, and respecting which, he should wish the House to be in possession of the answers given; of course limiting his motion to copies or extracts, which would enable his majesty's ministers to withhold any thing of a secret nature which it might be improper to make public.
The third point was one which he considered of very great importance. It related to the state in which France stood with respect to the sovereigns assembled at Verona, and went to show whether France was acting with the assurance of their assistance and support, or whether France was engaged in a strictly national war, to which those great powers were no parties. This appeared to him a point of very great importance, and one in which the interests of this country and of the world were essentially concerned. The consideration of this point necessarily led him to what had passed in the course of the late negotiations; and, after every attention which he had paid to the subject before the discussion, and since, he was confirmed in the opinion which he had already stated, that on no occasion in the history of this country, had its interests been so betrayed, its honour so tarnished, and its power and prosperity 173 exposed to so much danger, as they had been by his majesty's government in the course of that negotiation. He felt that he was called upon, not only to establish the propriety of granting the papers for which he asked, but also to establish his own right to call for them. On a former night the noble earl opposite had alluded to opinions of his (earl Grey's) stated on another occasion. The noble earl had not stated them very distinctly, and he (earl Grey) had only given a short explanation, in which he undertook to show that there was no variation in the opinions he had held at the time to which the noble earl had alluded, and at the present moment. That was the position which he had undertaken to maintain, and which he felt it necessary to maintain, in consequence of the attack which had been made upon him in another place. For what purpose he would not now stop to inquire; but he felt that some apology was due to their lordships, as it was of no importance to them what his opinions were, either now or at any former period; since it was not by the opinion of any individual that their lordships would govern themselves, but by the reason and circumstances of the case. But it was of some consequence to him that he should not be thought to entertain opinions liable to change and vary with every slight alteration of the political compass; and it was of some consequence, also, to the cause which he undertook to advocate. He was now adverting to the opinions which he held in the year 1810, and he wished to recall to their lordships' recollection the grounds of the policy which he had recommended to their lordships, when the subject was then brought before them. He had then stated, that to justify this country in a warlike interference, there should not only be a just cause of war—and that an essential interest of this country should be involved in it, but that, after we were satisfied on these points, we should also be assured that we had probable means of acting with effect and success. Those were the principles he had then stated; and they were so incontrovertible, that he need waste no time in illustrating them. They were not principles of to-day or yesterday, but were applicable to all times, and all circumstances. It was to the supposed contrast of those principles that he would now call their lordships' attention; and in reading that speech, he begged to assure their 174 lordships that for the publication of it he was in no degree responsible, though he believed it stated his sentiments correctly, as he felt assured that they were then, and now, the opinions which he entertained; though, probably, better expressed than he had expressed them. He had no hesitation in avowing, that he had never corrected but two of his speeches; one of which he delivered in 1807, and the other was a speech on the circular of the noble viscount (Sidmouth) whom he did hot now see in his place. The noble earl then read the following extract from the Parliamentary Debates of 1810:
"But I cannot concede to the sentiments of the noble marquis, the inference which his declarations assumed, that in order to warrant this country to embark in a military co-operation with Spain, nothing more was necessary than to show that her cause was just. In my mind, my lords, in passing judgment upon such a policy, it was not enough that the attack of France upon the Spanish nation was unprincipled, perfidious, and cruel; that the resistance of Spain was dictated by every principle, and sanctioned by every motive honourable to human nature; that it made every English heart burn with a holy zeal to lend its assistance against the oppressor: there were other considerations of a less brilliant and enthusiastic, but not less necessary and commanding nature, which should have preceded the determination of putting to hazard the most valuable interests of the country. It is not, my lords, with nations as with individuals. Those heroic virtues which shed a lustre upon individual man, must in their application to the conduct of nations be chastened by reflections of a more cautious and calculating cast. That generous magnanimity and high-minded disinterestedness, proud distinctions of national virtue (and happy are the people whom they characterize!) which, when exercised at the risk of every personal interest, in the prospect of every danger, at the sacrifice even of life itself, justly immortalize the hero, cannot and ought not to be considered justifiable motives of political action, because nations cannot afford to be chivalrous and romantic. Before they engage in any enterprise which is to be supported by the exertions and energies of the people, it is the duty of the government to see, first, that there exist the means of rendering them effectual; secondy, that 175 there is sufficient policy to warrant the application of the means; and, lastly, that there are grounds of probability to induce a hope of success. It is only by an attention to such preliminary considerations as have stated, that the affairs of nations can be prosperously or even safely conducted."
This had been relied upon, in another place, as exhibiting a contrast to the opinions which he held at the present moment; with what view he could not imagine, except to induce a belief that he had then recommended something like a shrinking from the cause of Spain which he at present advocated; but on this subject he could confidently appeal to those with whom he had private communications at the time, that when that most unprincipled, that unparalleled (he had almost said) attack on Spain took place (but now no longer unequalled), he had from the first moment of resistance, wished success to the Spaniards. There was no assistance likely to contribute to that end, and within the means of the country to afford, that he was not desirous of giving them. And in that opinion he differed from a friend of his, with whom he was connected by the ties of relationship and mutual regard, and with whom he had often fought, under Mr. Fox, the battles of the constitution. The noble earl here read the following extract from the address to his majesty, with which he had concluded his speech on the occasion referred to:—"To state to his majesty that we cannot doubt his majesty's readiness to embrace the first opportunity of concluding a peace on just and reasonable terms; but that looking to the nature of the contest in which we are engaged, to the power of France, now unhappily established over the greater part of Europe, and to the spirit and character of the government of that country, we are convinced that this event, so anxiously desired by his majesty's loyal people, will be best promoted by proving to the world, that while his majesty is actuated by the most just and moderate views, we possess the means of permanently supporting the honour and independence of our country against every species of attack by which the enemy may hope to assail them." He could confidently appeal to that very speech to show that his feeling, as to the attack on Spain, was the same then as it was now. Whatever of difference there was, arose only from dif- 176 ference of circumstances, and related solely to the most advantageous mode of carrying on the war in which we were engaged, and which we were bound to support. He thought he had sufficiently proved the uniformity of his opinions as to the case of Spain, and that the only difference could be as to the mode in which it was to be supported. Looking to the situation of Spain and Europe in the years 1809 and 1810, it did not appear to him that the employment of all the disposable military force on which we had to depend for our own preservation against the most alarming power that ever threatened the peace of the world, was the best mode of maintaining the cause of Spain; and, taking the same data, he should still entertain the same opinion. What, in the year 1810, was the situation of Europe? Holland was at the disposal of France; from Italy she drew, some of her finest soldiers; Sweden had declared war against us; and Denmark, by an unjustifiable aggression which he should never cease to reprobate, indulged the bitterest enmity against us. Austria, after the defeat of Wagram, had concluded a peace with France, and the emperor Francis, as a confirmation of it, had married his daughter, Maria Louisa, to Napoleon, Russia also followed in the train of vassal states, having submitted to Buonaparté, who was at the head of armies that had conquered the world. He possessed not merely the forces of France, but of the whole peninsula of Italy, as the instruments of his ambition, and passively subservient to his purposes: he threatened the extinction of the last remains of independence in Spain. What, too, was the situation of Spain? The passes of the Sierra Morena had been forced, and so completely had the French troops overrun that noble kingdom, that they were quartered in Seville. True it was, that they had at last been driven from the Peninsula, and it was at the present moment highly encouraging to reflect, that notwithstanding all the disasters they had at that time suffered, they had been still able to afford an apparently desperate but an effectual resistance. The expectations of the French in 1810. might be gathered from a dispatch of marshal Soult, dated on the 27th of January in that year, which was couched in such terms as almost led to the supposition that the duke ďAngoulême was at this moment provided with the identical se- 177 cretary Marshal Soult talked of the happy and placid countenances of the people indicating the delight with which their deliverers were hailed, adding "that king Joseph was every where received with enthusiastic joy; in short, the whole nation appeared desirous of submitting, being sick and tired of the sufferings to which they had been so long exposed." The French were then in military possession of the whole of Spain, with the exception of the Isle of Leon, and even there the French had established a fort from which they bombarded Cadiz. Under such circumstances, he would ask whether any reasonable hope could at that time be entertained that the French would be finally expelled from the Peninsula; particularly when the House recollected, that the result of the most brilliant victory of Talavera had been, that the noble duke opposite had been obliged to retire to the lines of Torres Vedras, leaving his sick and wounded at the mercy of the enemy? He had there, indeed, conducted himself with a degree of skill that had subsequently raised the military renown of his country to the loftiest height; but he felt justified in saying, that while affairs were thus situated, any man might have reasonably objected to the burthen-some and almost hopeless sacrifice of sending an additional army to Spain. He had objected to it, but events had disappointed him; and when he said this, he hoped that the fit sense would be put upon the word he employed; for, in the issue of the contest, no man more sincerely rejoiced than himself. There were three events that he had not foreseen. First, that Napoleon would in this instance, for the first time, depart from that principle which in former cases had been the main cause of his success; namely, that of finishing that one enterprise before he began another. After the retreat of sir John Moore he had not expected that Napoleon would divert his forces towards Austria—that before he had completed the subjugation of Spain, he would have laboured to establish what had been termed the continental system against the trade and commerce of Great Britain, or that he would have meditated and commenced a hew attack upon Russia. Pleading guilty to the charge of having limited his views to the ordinary extent of human faculties, he would observe that in the second place, he had not foreseen that the government of Spain, driven to the Isle of Leon, 178 would be able to make the heroic resistance which the world had subsequently witnessed. When he considered the courage, the perseverance, the unconquerable resolution displayed by the people of Spain in that memorable struggle—When he recollected that the cause for which she fought was not only her own, but the cause of the world—when he reflected that Louis 18th owed the crown he wore to the bravery of Spain, and that Great Britain was indebted to that land both for her renown and her security—when he remembered that the invincible spirit displayed to an admiring world by the Spaniards in the Isle of Leon, was not less to be admired than the bravery of Rome when Hannibal was at her gates, he could scarcely restrain his indignation within the bounds of parliamentary decency. He had said, that the invasion of Spain by Napoleon was unprincipled, perfidious, and unjust; the invasion of Spain by Louis 18th was not less unprincipled, less perfidious, or less unjust, with this additional distinguishing and odious quality—that it was marked by the blackest ingratitude. He did not wish needlessly to speak of sovereigns with personal disrespect, nor did he mean to apply the words which he had used personally to the king of France; but the government of that monarch had induced him to turn his arms against that very people whose heroic exertions had restored him to his throne. There was also a third point which he had not foreseen. In 1810, he had witnessed the disgraceful convention of Cintra, the calamitous expedition to Walcheren, and the unfortunate retreat of sir John Moore to Corunna. These instances of mismanagement had led him to entertain little hope of the future efforts of the then administration; he had not looked forward to the display of that great military genius on the part of the noble duke opposite which had finally re-established the independence of Europe.
Such was his justification—if a justification were necessary—of the opinions he had then held as to the state of this country, as to the dangers of the Peninsula, and as to the mode in which the war should be conducted. That justification was complete, unless the absurd principle could be established, that where Spain was concerned, it was necessary to act by certain fixed and invariable rules, and not to vary the system of policy according to the circumstances of the times. He had 179 been often taunted with the failure of his predictions; but he should have been surprised if he had not entertained the opinions he had expressed, knowing, as he did, that they were sanctioned by the approbation of every military man he had at that time consulted. Admitting, then, that he had been mistaken in 1810, there were subsequent periods in which he had qualified, and explained, and even changed his sentiments. Nobody could know better than the very person who had made this charge, what had subsequently fallen from him (earl Grey) upon this subject. After the year 1810, a great change of circumstances occurred. Before 1812, the noble duke opposite had opened a new and a brighter prospect of success. In 1812, the right hon. gentleman who now arraigned his consistency was out of office, and in the March of that year, a noble baron, now a noble earl, and who sat on the opposite side (Borringdon) made a motion for a more efficient administration. That motion he (earl Grey) had supported; and here he begged leave to refer to the speech he had then made, observing, in the first instance, that the motion was not made without the concurrence of the present secretary for foreign affairs. He (earl Grey) had said—"With respect to the policy which the circumstances of the present crisis demanded to be maintained in the affairs of the Peninsula, he certainly was not prepared to say that it was expedient to recall our troops immediately home; but he certainly did not wish to proceed on that expensive mode of warfare, without having some military authority, as to the probable result of it; and he wished, above all, to see the opinion of the illustrious commander of the forces in that country on the subject. No part of national policy was more open to repeated discussion, or more calculated to engender a diversity of opinion, than the most proper mode of carrying on foreign warfare. The first principle in the policy of all wars was, to inflict the utmost possible injury on the enemy, at the expense of the least possible injury to ourselves. Such a question, therefore, as that which related to the continuance of the present contest in the Peninsula, depended on a variety of considerations arising out of recent events, and the consequent and relative situations of ourselves and of the enemy. In determining on the expediency of any measure of this nature, he was to 180 be guided upon calculations formed on an extensive combination and comparison of circumstances. He thought, and thought most decidedly, that a reduction of our expenditure was called for by reflections of the most urgent and powerful kind; and he should feel it to be his duty, before he could agree to the continuance of any continental enterprises like those in which we were now engaged, to take a wide survey of our own resources, to measure their extent, and the means of their application to the objects for the attainment or promotion of which they were proposed to be exerted. If the result of such an estimate were to establish any thing like a certainty of success in the schemes that were devised, all his hesitations and difficulties would be removed, and he should consider even the most extensive scale of foreign operations as recommended and supported by the principles of economy itself." That speech certainly had the vote and approbation of the noble marquis now at the head of the Irish government, who, of all men, was least likely to support opinions hostile to the vigorous prosecution of the war in Spain. With this document before him, it was a little singular that the person to whom he had alluded should have attacked his consistency, and, in order to do so, should have made a partial extract, which even taken by itself, did not bear that right hon. person out in the attempt he had made to contrast opposite opinions. It did not, however, rest there, for a further and more accurate explanation had been given. Their lordships would remember that in 1812, the death of Mr. Ferceval unfortunately took place. Upon that event, the noble earl opposite, thus deprived of such powerful support, found it necessary to seek for new strength for his ministry. His first application had been to Mr. Canning, who thought it necessary to consult his friends, and the conclusion at which he arrived was stated in a letter dated the 18th of May 1812, addressed to the noble earl opposite (Liverpool.) Mr. Canning said—"The result of their opinion is, that by entering into the administration upon the terms proposed to me, should incur such a loss of personal and public character as would disappoint the object which his royal highness the Prince Regent has at heart; and must render my accession to his government a new source of weakness, rather than an addition of strength. To 181 become a part of your administration with the previous knowledge of your unaltered opinions as to the policy of resisting all consideration of the state of the laws affecting his majesty's Roman Catholic subjects, would, it is felt, be to lend myself to the defeating of my own declared opinions on that most important question—opinions which are as far as those of any man from being favourable to precipitate and unqualified concession; but which rest on the conviction, that it is the duty of the advisers of the Crown, with a view to the peace, tranquillity, and strength of the empire, to take that whole question into their early and serious consideration, and earnestly to endeavour to bring it to a final and satisfactory settlement." He did not stop to inquire whether the right hon. secretary had or had not changed his opinions with regard to the Roman Catholics, or whether the different circumstances of the times had induced him not to act upon them so strictly and rigidly as he expected of others. He did not expect that the noble earl opposite, with whom Mr. Canning could not then act because he would not "lend himself to the defeating of his own declared opinions," had changed his determination on the Roman Catholic claims. He did suppose that the noble and learned lord on the woolsack had relaxed from the severity of his tenets upon this "most important question." When it was proposed to send the right hon. secretary to India, the pain the learned lord had expressed could not be forgotten, and all must remember the valediction he had pronounced at his supposed departure. [Hear, and a laugh!]. It had been found necessary, however, to secure the services of the right hon. gentleman at home; but, in order to attain that important object, that summum bonum, he (earl Grey) did not believe that the learned lord on the woolsack had changed his notions as to the inexpediency of concession to the Roman Catholics. Who, then, had changed? for if any credit were due to the letter of Mr. Canning, it was quite evident that then, at least, he had made the "early and serious consideration" of that "most important question" a sine qua non of his acceptance of office. All he would say was, that when he read Mr. Canning's speech at Liverpool, he had told a friend who had been incredulous from the outset, that Mr. Canning would not go to India, and that the Roman Catholics would be 182 abandoned. He alluded to these matters merely historically, and to show what right such a man had to set himself up as a judge of the consistency of others. This attempt to acquire strength having failed, lord Wellesley was empowered to enter into negotiations, and he, in conjunction with Mr. Canning and a noble friend now absent, made two propositions: first, that the state of the laws affecting the Roman Catholics should be taken into consideration with a view to a conciliatory adjustment; and, secondly, that the war in the Peninsula should be vigorously prosecuted with an adequate force. The first great object of the new ministry was, to lay the foundation of internal peace by a measure that would have avoided the million of woes by which Ireland had since been afflicted; and the second, the prosecution of the war in Spain, with a view to its conclusion, by measures of vigour and decision. Further explanations took places and, without going more at length into what passed, he (earl Grey) would merely state, that the result appeared highly satisfactory to the marquis Wellesley and Mr. Canning, and the negotiation was concluded in a letter, addressed by the former, to him (earl Grey), which, contained the following passage:—"But can not omit this opportunity of assuring your lordship, that have derived from the sentiments, so justly expressed in your letter, a firm expectation, that if the advice which have humbly offered to the Prince Regent should be ultimately approved, a happy prospect will open to the country of recovering internal peace, and of prosecuting the war with success, under an administration worthy of the confidence of the prince and of the people, and equal to the arduous charge of public affairs, amidst all the difficulties and dangers of the present crisis." That the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Canning), in the teeth of such evidence should have made such a charge, was one of the most extraordinary occurrences that had ever taken place in the history of debate; he must add, that the proceeding was not only most extra ordinary but most unfair [Hear, hear!]. But enough, and too much of this. In deed, he should not thus long have detained their lordships, had he not felt that whatever weight he possessed with either party did not arise from any abilities he possessed, but from the consistency he had maintained.
He now came to the last branch of the 183 question, and should take the liberty of reading the motion with which he should conclude; it was "for copies or extracts of any communications made by the governments, of Russia, Austria, or Prussia, as to their, determination to make common cause with France in the present war against Spain, with any representations made on the part of his majesty against it; together with copies or extracts of any information transmitted to his majesty's government respecting the assembly of a Russian army on the Vistula, and of any representations made in consequence to the Russian ministry." For the production of the information here required, there appeared the strongest necessity. It was highly important for parliament to know whether the hostilities now waging in Spain was a war between nation and nation, or whether it had been undertaken on a common principle, and was to be supported by the forces of the coalesced powers. In the progress of the negotiations, he had observed many things with surprise. In the first place, he had been much surprised at being told, that ministers, previous to the interview of the duke of Wellington with M. de Villèle, had no expectation that the affairs of Spain would become a prominent feature of discussion at the congress of Verona. He had collected from the papers first produced, various passages which were at variance with such a statement; and lord Castle-reagh's letter, as early as 1820, implied, at least, that some debate must take place regarding the state of Spain. A speech by the duke de Montmorency had been put into his hand since he entered the House, in which that noble personage expressed his astonishment at the professed ignorance of the British cabinet, because, as he contended, the question regarding Russia and the Porte having been in a great degree settled, and the British ministry refusing to take part in any discussions regarding Italy, there was in fact no topic left but the affairs of Spain to require the presence of a plenipotentiary from England. One of two conclusions must therefore be formed—either that ministers had been the most egregious dupes, and had intentionally shut their eyes to the truth; or that, rather than make no excuse for the course they had pursued, they had contented themselves with a bad one, and had thus endeavoured to impose upon the public. Of the last he was far from accusing them. The duke 184 de Montmorency, contended even that there was no occasion for France to commence the discussion with England, because it was all along well known to her to be the great subject to be decided at Verona. Another thing that surprised him was, that the noble duke opposite and his colleagues at home, on the three questions proposed by the cabinet of Paris, seemed to think that the apprehension, ought to be, that Spain would make war upon France. Such an impression was most extraordinary; for the whole conduct of the allies showed that the intention was, from the first, to compel Spain to change the form of her government. It had appeared to him, that though France, from her proximity and greater convenience, was left to prosecute the war against Spain, yet that it was a common cause, and that the allied powers were bound to support France, should that support become necessary. Looking at these circumstances, he had not been a little astonished to find Mr. Secretary Canning taking great credit to himself for the success of the negotiations at Verona. That right hon. gentleman had appeared very indignant at the ridicule thrown upon his famous instruction of "come what may," although he (earl Grey) fully concurred in all the ridicule it had met with here and elsewhere. However, the right hon. gentleman insisted that that instruction had produced its effect—that it had prevented a joint declaration—that the congress broke up without a joint declaration in consequence of it—that though the ministers of Russia, Austria, and Prussia, presented their three notes, they were mere bruta fulmina, and that the question was reduced to a point between France and Spain only, with which the alliance had nothing to do. If such were the result, he (earl Grey) was very much deceived, and he should be most agreeably surprised to find that the neutrality of the allies had been secured; for, unless it went to that extent, it was good for nothing. Had not parliament, then, a right to call upon ministers to declare whether in their judgment this beneficial result had been obtained—whether France was engaged solely in a national war, and whether the allies were to be neutral on the one hand, and Great Britain neutral on the other?
But, the statement of the neutrality of the allies seemed at variance with the contents of the papers on the table 185 First, he found the following passages in a minute from the noble duke to the right; hon. secretary, dated the 12th of November:—"On the 20th of October, the French minister gave in a paper requiring; from the ministers of the allies to know, whether, if France should be under the necessity of withdrawing her minister from Spain, the Other allied powers would do the same? In case France should be involved in war with Spain, what countenance the allies would give the former? And, in case France should require it, what assistance? To these questions the three continental allies answered on the 30th of October, that they would act as France should, in respect to their ministers in Spain, and would give to France every countenance and assistance she should require; the cause for such assistance, and the period, and the mode of giving it, being reserved to be specified in a treaty." Hence it seemed fair to conclude, that the impression of the noble duke was, that though France was put forward to commence the war, yet that the allied powers were engaged to give her what assistance she might require. In the despatch of the 20th of November, there was a further explanation to the same effect; and, though it might be true, that the allies made no joint declaration, yet they agreed with France, that if she engaged in a war, they would support her with their armies. [Lord Liverpool, across the table, indicated his dissent.] He should be glad to hear the noble earl's explanation of these documents, but what he had stated appeared to be their obvious and undeniable construction. In pursuance of their resolution, the three powers ordered their ambassadors to present their notes to the Spanish minister, and these notes, in no measured terms, reprobated the Spanish constitution, declaring it inconsistent with the happiness and peace of Europe. The allies then desired their envoys to leave the court of Madrid. They did so. Hitherto such a 6tep had been considered the preliminary of a declaration of war: all amicable intercourse was suspended, and the step supposed a grievance not being remedied, rendered war an almost necessary consequence. The question, however, did not by any means rest here. What, then, did this country gain? "She gained," said the right hon. secretary, "this advantage, that the allies made no joint declaration." But, instead of this circumstance being an 186 advantage, it seemed to him (earl Grey) a disadvantage. Looking, in a national point of view, to danger from the ascendancy of France the putting her forward as the sole arbitress of the destiny of Spain was an injury to this country. He could not shut his eyes to facts. No doubt the war partly originated in hostility to liberty, in a detestation of freedom, in a resolution to suppress the efforts of mankind to ameliorate their condition by the establishment of free institutions, yet it was scarcely disguised on the part of the Bourbons, that they had also another object in view. Did not the noble earl know, that propositions had been made by France to Spain which bore on the face of them marks of the most determined animosity towards this country? Did not the noble earl know, that the French government had avowed itself bound to establish the system of Louis 14th? Did not the noble earl know, that at this moment the French ministry were daily employing a thousand men to enlarge and complete the basin of Dunkirk, as an advantageous station for the marine of France to be employed against the British navy? The war against Spain had been termed the effect of infatuation. He saw something worse in it: he saw in it injustice, perfidy, ingratitude; and he ardently hoped that the promoters of it would be visited by exemplary punishment. France was playing a great game; for if she succeeded, the power of the Bourbons would be placed upon a firmer foundation than it had hitherto occupied. The prevention of a joint declaration was at least only a formal advantage. But, had we gained even that? No: the authority of the duke ďAngoulême, in his declaration upon entering Spain, was decisive upon this point. He said, "The French government has for two entire years endured, with a forbearance without example, the most unmerited provocations; the revolutionary faction which has destroyed the royal authority in your country—which holds your king captive—which calls for his dethronement—which menaces his life and that of his family, has carried beyond your frontiers its guilty efforts. It has tried all means to corrupt the army of his most Christian majesty, and to excite troubles in France, in the same manner as it had succeeded by the contagion of its doctrines and of its example to produce the insurrection of Naples and Piedmont. Deceived in 187 its expectations, it has invited traitors condemned by our tribunals to consume mate, under the protection of triumphant rebellion, the plots which they had formed against their country. It is time to put a stop to the anarchy which tears Spain in pieces, which takes from it the power of settling its colonial disputes, which separates it from Europe, which has broken all its relations with the august sovereigns whom the same intentions and the same views unite with his most Christian majesty, and which compromises the repose and interests of France." The circular of the allied courts was in much the same terms, and it was signed separately by prince Metternich on the part of Austria; by count Nesselrode for Russia; and count Bernstorff for Prussia. They there spoke of the deplorable situation of western Europe, and of the state of confusion and disorganization in Spain, which was "hostile to the basis of the European alliance, which would dedicate to the safety of Europe ail the means Providence had placed in their hands." He put it to the House, whether such a declaration would bear more than one interpretation, that interpretation being, that the allies would, by means of force, put down that form of government which they asserted to be in direct hostility to the principles on which the alliance was established. What ground, then, was there for the boast that that notable instruction "come what may," had produced a dissolution of the congress, had prevented a joint declaration, and had reduced the struggle in Spain from a war of alliance to a mere contest between France and Spain?
The noble earl proceeded to remind their lordships, that it was rumoured that the emperor of Russia had assembled an army of 120,000 men on the banks of the Vistula. What was the intention of such an armament as this? How was it destined to act? Did it bear no connexion with the attempt which had been made by France upon Spain? Their lordships would readily see that here alone a strong ground was furnished for that part of his motion which related to the production of all communications between this government and Russia, on the subject of the affairs Spain. When they saw, too, that Austria was withdrawing her troops from Italy, and concentrating them in the Milanese, while in Prussia similar movements were carrying on on the fron- 188 tiers, could it be denied that the strongest reasons existed for the production of all our communications with Prussia and Austria on the same subject? Let it be clearly shown whether or no these powers were pledged to make common cause with France in her iniquitous invasion of Spain. He was no advocate for needless hostility with any country. He dreaded war more than anything else, except the sacrifice of the national honour and integrity. No man, perhaps, had seen more of the miseries which were produced by war, or had stronger cause than he had for wishing that the remainder of a life, which could not be of much longer duration, should be passed in peace; but he felt strongly, that had our government conducted themselves more firmly and more wisely, the necessity of war might have been obviated. Had our representations been made in a proper tone, we should have had with us the feelings of all Europe, as well as of France herself. He was as convinced as the noble lord opposite could be, that if the Spaniards were an united people, success by France alone—(and perhaps he was not prepared to say that the same event would follow the union of all the allied powers, acting in concert)—was not to be obtained. She would, in such a case, possess not the most remote chance of success. Now, if this were true, with how much greater ease than was now practicable, could we have rendered that success yet more doubtful; and with how much greater certainty could we have relieved the Spanish people from the difficulties of resistance to France, or from those she was likely to experience from us! On a recent occasion, the noble lord had had recourse to an argument, not perhaps very consistent with his former feeling in the matter, namely, that Spain was a divided nation, insomuch that were he called on to take a part, he should not know whether to side with the party that was in favour of or against the government of Spain. He (earl Grey) had no hesitation in admitting the possibility, that if there were very many of those Spaniards who Were disaffected to the present government, they might, assisted by French intrigues, French money, and French forces; succeed in working a counter-revolution in Spain; but his hopes, he confessed, still tended entirely the other way. He was bound, as upon this point, to give credit to the accounts relative to Spain which 189 were received from France; and in these it was, that he observed the indisputable fact, that hitherto no Spaniard of any consequence had taken part, with France. Still, he could not disguise from himself the possibility, that by such means as he had adverted to, a counter-revolution might be effected in Spain. And, what would be the consequences of such a counter-revolution? Ferdinand 7th might be restored to his throne, and reinstated in his despotic power; for as to the mockery of a constitution which might be given by him to his subjects, after being restored (as it was termed) by the French, that was a deception too gross, a delusion too idle, to be dwelt upon; nor would lie detain their lordships upon a speculation so absurd, as that any thing like freedom or happiness could be voluntarily tendered by such a monarch to his people. The consequence of a counter-revolution, so effected by French interest, exercised under the sanction and in the presence of a French army in Spain, would be, that Ferdinand, restored to absolute power, and loosened from the restraints of all wholesome government, would become another member of the grand confederacy of monarchs allied against the liberties of mankind. He said, the liberties of mankind; for when he saw the efforts which they were making against every thing which bore the promise of happiness or liberty to man—when he saw the exertions that they made to repress every rising institution which rejected the fetters of ancient oppression, and proposed the diffusion of public freedom and prosperity—he feared that a conspiracy was indeed about to be entered into, more formidable to popular liberty than had ever yet existed: and more dangerous in its character, than even the despotism to which the late emperor of France bad so nearly attained. For himself, he considered that the present aspect of the confederacy menaced the welfare of this country with greater peril than it had ever yet been exposed to. He well remembered the prophetic words of Mr. Fox, in a debate which took place in the other House, relative to the war that was undertaken for the purpose of replacing the present reigning family of France on the throne of that kingdom. Mr. Fox then said, that if a coalition for the restoration of the Bourbons had succeeded, the consequence would have been a perpetual ban upon all the people 190 who might be oppressed in any part of the world. Such a coalition no people would have been more interested in opposing than the people of this kingdom. The fatal consequences which might yet ensue to Spain, should they unhappily occur, would be owing to the, misconduct of his majesty's ministers. "Oh! my lords (continued the noble earl), "what have they not neglected! what that it concerned the welfare of their country to preserve, have they not omitted to secure? What a great—what a noble part had they to perform at the conclusion of a war which succeeded beyond all expectation!" The war being thus happily concluded, what a mighty part it remained for this country to fill, in order to perfect the work, not merely of her own happiness, but of the happiness of Europe. It was unnecessary; for him to state what the character was which the government had chosen to sustain. Far different was it from that which had thus been presented for their acceptance. Examples were not wanting, even in our history, to prove the dangers which resulted to free nations from alliances like that which now existed in Europe. Had the combination of sovereigns which was formed in the time of Charles 1st been successful, could the liberties of the people have been long preserved against the encroachments of the house of Stuart? He could attribute the existence of any remaining portion of public liberty in Europe, solely to our enjoyment of a free constitution. Nor could he bring himself to believe, that, when the allied monarchs should have accomplished their designs against Spain, they would forbear from carrying on the same designs against Portugal. If it should be said, that at present there was no danger, he would merely request noble lords to look at her position. Did the noble earl mean to uphold the principle of supporting monarchs against their people, and opposing every constitution, that did not come from the sovereign? That principle had in the other house of parliament been avowed for the first time, in respect to the attack on Naples. While that attack was making we sat by, idle and tame spectators. There were even those who justified that measure, and who said that Austria had fair cause to apprehend danger. But among their lordships, no one had expressed a similar sentiment in regard to the case of Spain, excepting a noble duke on the cross-bench. 191 But the extinction of the Spanish constitution could not be accomplished by the allied sovereigns, without the reduction, on the continent of Europe, of the last remaining post, the last surviving bulwark of its freedom. No man had less inclination than himself to underrate the power of this country; but he confessed that his hopes and his confidence were diminished, since he had witnessed the poorness of spirit which had been manifested by his majesty's ministers. His confidence could not but be diminished when he reflected in what hands the honour of the country was.placed—in the hands of those ministers who had not only tamely witnessed, but even, justified the subjugation of Naples. How could he feel any assurance, under such circumstances, or what security was there for the country, that further encroachments might not be attempted, and tamely submitted to by ministers who had already so deeply injured the honour and interests of the country. It had been urged in defence of the policy which had been pursued by I the government, that our neutrality was the price of the neutrality of the other powers; that a great advantage had been obtained by preventing a joint declaration of the allies against Spain, and that the contest had, in point of fact, been reduced from a contest between Spain and the Holy Alliance, to a contest between' nation and nation. The production of; the papers for which he now moved, would; prove the validity of these assertions. He should not occupy the time of their lordships' further than by repeating, that I he was not recommending a romantic or chivalrous enterprise, or losing sight of those sound distinctions by which the conduct of a statesman ought to be guided. The justice of the Spanish cause was undeniable; but we were bound no less by our interest than by the justice of that cause, if interest and justice could be separated, to support the independence of the Peninsula—The noble earl concluded by moving, that the said papers be laid upon the table.
The Earl of Liverpool,
in rising to oppose the motion, said, he believed he should be able to convince their lordships that the noble earl had laid no parliamentary ground for it. There were some points on which he felt it necessary to give a short explanation before he entered into the general question. With regard to the capture of the Spanish corvette by 192 a French ship, the Jean Bart, he was able to state what he believed would be completely satisfactory to their lordships He did not stand up there as the apologist of the French government; but, where justice was due, he would give it to that or to any other foreign government. He had to state, then, in answer to the noble lord, that as soon as the report was made, and before any explanation was asked on the part of this country, the French government was anxious to declare, that they had no knowledge whatever of the transaction referred to in the public papers. Nor was this all; for the most distinct assurances were afterwards given to sir Charles Stewart, that the French admiralty had issued no orders whatever to make captures, either in the West Indies or in any other part of the world. Thus the facts stood, as far as the French government was concerned; but information of the particulars of this transaction had since been received from our own commander, from which it appeared, that an attack had been made on the Jean Bart by a vessel having a Spanish letter of marque; that the Spanish corvette fired into the Jean Bart; and that, in consequence of this attack, the French Ship had captured her; which she was of course justified in doing. With respect to the question put by the noble lord as to the proclamation of the provisional government of Spain, he need scarcely say that there was no communication between the government of: this country and the provisional government; and it was well known that that proclamation had been completely disavowed by the French government. Having disposed of these points, he should now proceed to the two other questions put by the noble lord. First, whether any communications had been made by the governments of Russia, Austria, and Prussia, as to their intention of making common war with France; and, secondly, whether any information had been received, as to the armies assembled on the Russian, Austrian, and Prussian frontiers? One of the principal objects which, the noble lord appeared to have in making the present motion, was, to vindicate himself against a supposed charge of inconsistency in his political opinions. He was the last man to make such a charge against the noble lord, and he believed that if his right hon. friend, who was supposed to have made such a charge, had 193 heard the noble lord this night, there would have been no difference of opinion between them as to the correctness of the noble lord's explanation. The noble lord had, undoubtedly, at the time which had been referred to, used the language of caution and of prudence; he had endeavoured to induce their lordships to abandon those vigorous exertions, which ultimately led to the glorious conclusion of the war in which we were engaged, though it was never meant to be imputed to the noble lord, that he did not participate in those feelings which every Englishman must have felt with regard to the atrocious invasion of Spain during the last war. All that was meant was, to compare the opinions and conduct of the noble lord at that time with the opinions and conduct which he held now. The question now was, as far as the noble lord was concerned, whether, entertaining the opinions which he did with regard to Spain, he was prepared to give effect to those opinions in the only way in which effect could be given to them? The noble lord felt, in the year 1810, for the sufferings of the Spanish nation: he felt what was due to a gallant people struggling for freedom and independence: but he would ask whether, if the policy recommended by the noble lord at that period had been pursued, Spain could have effectually resisted the whole power of France? Spain was saved by the position taken by his noble friend (the duke of Wellington) at the head of the British army in Portugal; Spain was saved by the exertions made by this country in her behalf. It was not the good wishes or the feelings of the noble lord which could have effected her deliverance; and he would now ask who were right—those who by making these exertions delivered Spain and destroyed the power of Buonaparte, or those who would have left Spain to her own unaided efforts, and to the ruin which would inevitably have awaited her? Buonaparte was aware at that period that he could never conquer Spain so long as she was supported by a British army; and it was to repair, his loss of reputation in Spain that he directed his efforts against Germany and Russia. He was aware that the noble lord, after considering the war against France as at one time desperate, and after comparing the contest in Spain with that in America, in which every town indeed might be captured, but with fresh loss to the victorious party, had in 194 some degree changed his opinion, after the glorious defence made by his noble friend, at Torres Vedras; but even so late as the negotiations in the year 1812, he recollected that, though the noble lord was not prepared to withdraw our army at once from the Peninsula, yet the whole tenor of his speech was calculated to throw cold water on the contest. Let that memorable crisis never be forgotten. The noble lord objected at that time to sending the whole of our disposable military force to Spain; yet, where could that force have been so advantageously employed as in that part of Europe, where, in the judgment of the government and of one of the greatest commanders of the age, the cause of Europe could best be fought? He did not say that the victory of Europe was completed, but he would say, that it was determined in that country. It was the knowledge of the issue of the battle of Salamanca which had encouraged Russia in her glorious resistance; it was the battle of Vitoria which had put an end to the armistice and produced the glorious day at Leipsic, and all its important consequences.—He wished to say a few words with regard to what had passed at the congress of Verona. The noble lord had expressed great surprise that the government should not have been aware that the affairs of Spain were to form a prominent part of the discussions. He would state, however, in proof of the fact, that the government believed the question between Russia and Turkey was to be the principal subject of discussion, that directions were sent to the noble lord who acted as our ambassador to the Ottoman Porte, to proceed to Verona, for the purpose of rendering more effectual service in the intended mediation.—With regard to the feeling of the allied powers, in the question between France and Spain, he did not mean to say that it was not the policy of those powers to condemn the Spanish revolution, or that it was not their object to enter into eventual engagements; but there had been no joint declaration, nor any circumstances or stipulations, leading directly to the invasion of Spain by France. The noble lord had quoted some passages which had been alluded to by his noble friend, the duke of Wellington, in the protocol which was signed by the several powers at Verona. The stipulations in that protocol were, however, entirely defensive, and no hos- 195 tilities were contemplated, except in one of three contingencies; first, in case Spain should attack France, or endeavour to propagate her opinions by force of arms; secondly, if any violence should be offered to the king or the royal family; and thirdly, if any attempt should be made to change the reigning dynasty. In any of these contingencies, the allies bound themselves to make common cause with France against Spain; but there were no engagements, as far as he believed, on the part of the holy alliance, which pledged them to make common cause with prance, in any case except those contemplated in the protocol.—With regard to the armies assembled on the frontiers of the different powers, he believed the noble earl's information to be correct, except with regard to Prussia. It was undoubtedly true that the emperor of Russia had assembled an army on the banks of the Vistula, and that the troops which had evacuated Piedmont and Naples were now in the Milanese; but it should be recollected, that these armies were assembled on their own territories, and with objects, he believed, of a nature entirely defensive. Let it not be supposed that he was the apologist of those powers, in a recent transaction, any more than he was the apologist of France; but he really did think that circumstances might grow out of the present state of Europe which would render the assembling of the armies which had been alluded to a prudential measure.—He would now remind the House of the difference between the reasoning of the noble earl with respect to the former Spanish war and the present. When the Spaniards were formerly contending against France, the noble earl said he felt for them, but he then recommended a cautious and prudent line of conduct to this country, and advised us not to take part with Spain. What was the conduct of the noble earl upon the present occasion? The noble earl said, that he felt for Spain now, but he recommended a different line of policy from that which he had formerly advocated, for he advised (he begged the attention of the House to this point) that we should pursue a course of policy which would involve, us in war without affording the slightest assistance to the Spaniards—not any assistance, that would have the weight of a feather. He (lord Liverpool) declared that if he were convinced it was the policy of this country to embark in a 196 war for Spain, he would look the question fairly in the face, and would advise their lordships to render the Spaniards every assistance in their power; and no assistance could they render them, unless they sent a British army into the Peninsula. The line of policy which the noble earl would have had the British government pursue ought to be considered as involving two questions: first, the moral effect which our remonstrances might have had in preventing the attack upon Spain; and secondly, the necessity of an active co-operation with Spain, if war should actually take place. He thought that no person would deny that we must have been prepared for the second case before we entered upon the first. We might have succeeded in the first case, but we must have been prepared for the second, which was the alternative. There might appear to be something in favour of the moral effect of a menacing tone in preventing a war, but he was of opinion that it would have created a counteracting feeling. He believed, if this country had shown that she was disposed to embark in a war in favour of Spain, that that very circumstance would have excited a strong national feeling in France in favour of the attack upon Spain. Supposing, then, that this country had failed in the first case, and had been reduced to the necessity of going to war in support of Spain, how did the noble earl propose to carry on hostilities? Why, by annoying the commerce of the enemy—by capturing their shipping, and perhaps a colony. Really, he did not expect, at this time of day, to find the noble earl possessed of such antiquated notions. The time had been, when the capture of a West Indian island would have determined the question of war or peace; but, in the present circumstances of the world, such an event would not weigh the smallest part of a feather. Could it possibly enter into the imagination of the noble earl, that if France were, as he said, desirous of bringing back the times of Louis 14th, and of uniting the two crowns, they would be frightened into an abandonment of their policy, by being told that we would destroy their fishing boats, capture their merchantmen, or take a colony? Such an idea would be absurd and preposterous. It would be an insult to the Spanish nation to say to it. "We have gone to war for you; we will furnish you with arms, but then we will leave you 197 to fight alone, and will give you none of that assistance which we found so serviceable to you in the late war." The noble earl had accused him and his colleagues of being wanting in statesmanlike views; but what could be more unstatesman-like than the policy recommended by the noble earl? It would be like spitting in the face of France, when we could do her no harm—an expression of feeling unbecoming a great nation. If the noble earl's policy were acted upon, this country would be deprived of all the advantages which attached to a state of peace; her rising prosperity would be checked; and after all, she would not have arrived one inch nearer the object which she had in view. He agreed with the noble earl in the view which he took of the difficulties with which the French would have to contend in the present contest. Whether they would surmount those difficulties, experience only could prove but, did any man believe that the species of war which the noble earl recommended would add to the difficulties of the French? In the question between France and Spain, three things were to be considered, on which the success of the former must depend—first, the amount of her army; secondly, the means which she possessed of providing for that army; thirdly, the degree of support which she would receive from Spain. If it were supposed that the situation of France with respect to these three points was just what she herself could wish, he could understand, though he might not approve of, the policy of sending the noble duke near him at the head of an army into Spain, whence the country might gain additional glory from his efforts; but, to recommend that we should subject ourselves to all the inconveniences of war, for the purpose of sweeping away the French commerce, was like an act of insanity. The noble earl said, that the more he considered the conduct of the government, the more impolitic and unwise he considered it to be. He (lord Liverpool) would also state, with sincerity of heart, that the more he reflected upon what the noble earl had proposed, the more convinced he became, that it would be considered by every man who examined coolly, and without party prejudice, as well as by posterity, as mere folly. At the time when our armies maintained the loftiest situation during the last Spanish war, the noble lords opposite were constantly telling ministers to hus- 198 band their resources. He (lord Liverpool) would husband those resources, but he would husband them, not by making an ineffectual war, but by remaining at peace. If they went to war, they should enter upon it like men, and in a way to produce effect. He was now expressing the feelings of his noble friend near him, and of another noble person to whom, next to the noble duke, the country was most indebted for the success of its arms during the late Spanish war. They would be the last persons to vote for going to war like children, and the first to reprobate going to war all, unless it was absolutely necessary to support the honour of the country. In 1810, the noble earl had entertained quite different opinions with respect to the policy of going to war with Spain. If the noble earl at that period, when we were already embarked in war, thought it advisable that we should make peace, how much stronger was our reason for pursuing a pacific policy at present, when we were actually at peace? He begged their lordships to consider the difference between the present state of Spain and that in which she stood in 1808. At the latter period, Spain was a united country. The noble earl opposite could not mention a part of Spain in which any difference of sentiment then prevailed. Was that the case now? Was not Spain now a divided country? Was it not a country where two parties were at least equally divided? Was it not a country where the enthusiasm of those who wished to pull down the existing constitution was equal to that those who wished to maintain it? He thought it could not be denied that the energy of those who had enrolled themselves under the banners of religion in Spain, was greater than that of the party which was attached to the constitution. He did not state this as a justification of the policy of France, but he mentioned it as a fact, and a most serious One; for it proved, that if this country had embarked in war, it must have done so, not With Spain against France, but with one part of Spain against another part. This country might have advocated the cause of the government de facto of Spain; but how would it know that that was the cause of Spain? Whatever might be thought of the injustice of France, there was no principle of common sense or statesmanlike policy, which would justify this, country in entering upon a Spanish 199 war, under existing circumstances. It was, absurd to refer to the conduct of government with respect to Spain in lb08 as a precedent that ought to be followed at the present time, seeing that the circumstances of the two periods were quite different. Upon this point it was also necessary to consider, under how very different circumstances France now made war upon Spain, from those under which she formerly attacked that country. The individual who led the former attack upon Spain, not only was enabled to pour forth myriads of men, but he made every war in which he embarked pay for itself. He never entered a country without making it support his armies; and when he had united any country to his own, he employed the soldiers of the annexed country, in carrying on war in another. Thus war fed war. By the conquest of one country, he was enabled to carry on war in another. France could not now follow the system of its former government. Which, then, would stand in the best situation—France, who had embarked in a contest of a doubtful character, which would exhaust her resources, or Great Britain who remained at peace? The doctrine of the noble earl opposite was, that this country ought to go to war, because something, God knew what, might happen that would be injurious to her. Well, he (lord Liverpool) would, for two reasons, wait until that something, God knew what, did happen. In the first place, the unknown something might never happen; and if it did, the country would then enter upon war in the possession of greater resources than those of the power against whom she would have to contend. He would have the country enjoy the present advantages of peace; but he was convinced that if we should, some time hence, be compelled to go to war, the people possessed spirit and firmness sufficient to enable them to overcome any danger. Let the country enjoy as long as it could the blessings of peace; but if it were compelled to go to war, let it put forth all its power, and not embark in a mere show of war. It should not be imagined that, if this country were to take a part in the present war, it would be a cheap or a short one. When once the scabbard was thrown away, it was impossible to foresee when hostilities would end or what expense they would create. He felt the importance of the question between France and Spain as deeply as 200 any man, because he knew that when war was once lighted up in any corner of Europe, there was no knowing where it would end. He was impressed with the same feelings, though less strongly, upon the occasion of the dispute between Russia and the Porte. It was the first wish of the government to prevent war in Europe. They had no desire to excite dissensions in other countries, in order to profit by them. The noble earl, in the course of his speech, had made some extraordinary observations respecting the allied powers. He had said, that the object of those powers was, to destroy the liberties of every country of Europe, and of England amongst the rest. He could not believe that the noble earl really entertained such a chimerical idea, He (lord Liverpool) was not one of those who approved of the principles which had been promulgated by the allied sovereigns. His majesty's government had, both in verbal and written communications, condemned the policy which those sovereigns had adopted. He desired, as strongly as any one could do, that every country should be left to govern itself, and to discover what laws were best calculated for its interest; but he could not conceal from himself, that, in the present state of the world, if there was danger on one side from arbitrary doctrines, there was danger from new opinions and revolutionary doctrines on the other. The policy of this country should lead her to maintain that situation, moral and political, which would enable her to restrain the excesses of either. For these reasons, he should vote against the present motion.
said, that the speech of the noble earl who had just sat down, was one of the most extraordinary he had ever heard. In one part of his speech the noble earl had endeavoured to persuade the House that it was neither wise nor prudent for England to go to war in support of the just cause of Spain; while another part of it consisted of a pompous description of the great success which had attended our arms during the last Spanish war. In another part of his harangue, the noble earl had told a British House of Lords, that a naval war was of no use; that the value which had heretofore been attached to the wooden walls of Old England, was entirely an antiquated notion; that to talk of giving a maritime support to Spain, was nothing but a farce; and that this country could only hope to ob- 201 tain an influence on the continent, by means of an army. He must confess that he thought the noble earl's opinion upon that point, as well as most of the opinions which he had that night delivered, was founded in the grossest fallacy. The noble earl had confounded two distinct points. He had got hold of an opinion that a war for the protection of Spain must be a war in Spain. The noble earl had fallen into a similar error when he attempted to show that his noble friend had been inconsistent in his opinions with regard Spain. It would be utterly impossible to suppose that his noble friend should not feel a strong interest in the former struggle in which the Spaniards had been engaged against the French. It so happened that he had in his possession letters which he had received from his noble friend, at the time the event alluded to took place, recommending that whatever succour might be considered most advantageous to the Spaniards, ships, money, or even men, should be sent to them from this country. He had these letters in his pocket, but it was unnecessary to read them. He would say that they were conceived in the same warm and eloquent language which had fallen from his noble friend that night. The only difference which had formerly prevailed between the noble earl opposite and his noble friend was with respect to the mode of carrying on the war. After the disastrous campaign of sir John Moore, his noble friend had doubted the expediency of employing a large military force in the Peninsula, and had thought that there was no probability that the Spanish cause would be successful. He perfectly recollected the circumstance, because he had in a slight degree differed in opinion from his noble friend. He had thought that the Spanish cause was more likely to succeed than his noble friend did; but he acknowledged, that, upon a review of the situation of Spain and of this country at that time, he was not sure that his noble friend's opinion was not sounder than his own. The noble earl over the way, who had attacked his noble friend for this imagined inconsistency, must have had a great desire to annoy a political opponent; because, if the noble earl substantiated the charge, it would make directly against his own argument for the noble earl would be saying, "You formerly said we should have no success, when we had the greatest possible 202 cess; therefore, now that you who are more disposed to despond than we will not go to war." Through out the whole of his speech, the noble earl had run into a train of inconsistencies and contradictions. At one time he had said, that unless we sent the whole of our army into Spain, we should do nothing for them; that the war would be a mere cheat; and that there could be no hopes of success. But, at another time, when he was replying to an argument, that if France should be successful against Spain, it would be dangerous to this country, the noble earl turned round and said, "France successful-nonsense! France cannot succeed. See what Spain can do without the assistance of Great Britain! Depend upon it, it will be a dangerous thing for France to get into Spain. If you leave the Spaniards alone, they will do much better than they would if you were to assist them." The noble earl over the way underrated the effect of the alliance of this country with Spain. In one of the debates which had taken place on the subject of our foreign policy, the noble earl had said, that when England landed the first brigade in the Peninsula, she would become a principal in the war, and the whole expense or it would fall upon her. There was some acuteness and some truth in that argument. The noble earl must have taken a leaf out of the book of the noble duke; his colleague, whose past experience would show him that such would, in all probability, be the event; if England sent an army into Spain. However, the argument, let it come from where it might, was no reason for not going to war; but it was a reason for considering, after we had gone to war, where we should land the first brigade, and whether, by so doing, we should destroy the advantages of the Spanish mode of warfare. Good God! could it be said that Great Britain in standing forward as the friend of Spain: would produce no effect?Let but Achilles o'er yon trench appear,Proud Troy shall tremble and consent to fear.A noble earl Opposite (lord Harrowby), on a former night, in answering an hypothetical case of the policy of defending Portugal if she should be attacked by France, had said, that France would not, dare to attack our ally, because she knew that if she did we should attack her commerce, and send a fleet into the West Indies. The noble earl at the head of the Treasury 203 treated the idea of attacking the French colonies with perfect scorn. He would leave the noble earl to settle that point with his colleague: but he would advert to the observation which the noble earl had made about our becoming a principal in the war; if we landed an army in Spain. He should always look back to the last Spanish war with feelings of pride and gratification; but, he entertained considerable doubts whether the mode in which we had carried on that war was the best that could be adopted. The experience of history had shown, that the Spaniards, if left to carry on war in their own way, were almost unconquerable. The noble earl told the House, that the present situation of Spain was greatly different from her situation in 1808; and he said, that there was more division of sentiment among the people of that country now, than at the former period. But the noble earl should recollect, that when the war began, the French were in possession of every fortress in Spain. They had an army in Madrid, and they were marching another army upon Seville. The more he considered the habits of the people of Spain, the more he was convinced that they were better adapted than any other nation for that species of warfare which was most capable of annoying an invading army. He could almost fancy that poetry had pointed out the mode of warfare which the Spanish people had adopted. Homer had described the Goddess of Wisdom descending from Heaven to instigate Menelaus to attack Hector, and inspiring him, not with the strength of the paid, the hon. or the bear, but with the courage of the fly, and with its insatiable thirst of human blood, which induced it, though often driven from its prey, to return with unflagging pertinacity to the charge. This, the fastidious criticism, and he would add bad taste, of Mr. Pope, had caused to be entirely passed over in his translation.—The noble lord then proceeded to reprobate the policy which government had pursued in the negotiations at Verona, What practical benefit the Spaniards were to derive from the absence of a joint declaration, he was at a loss to conceive. How was France affected by the fact? If she beat Spain single-handed, she had all that she sought without the assistance of any joint declaration; but if she failed in that attempt alone, was she not certain of being aided by those powers who now, for form's sake, hung behind 204 her? Would not the defeat of France, singly, in her enterprise against Spain, be the signal for overwhelming Europe with the barbarians of the north? For himself, if Spain—which Heaven forbid!—was to be conquered, he would prefer seeing her occupied by four or five European states, who would quickly quarrel amongst themselves about the division of the spoil, to seeing her fall into the hands of any single power. The stress laid upon the absence of a joint declaration was incomprehensible. It reminded him of the story of the Frenchman and the quack. A gentleman having the misfortune to fall into a severe fit of illness, had the further misfortune to apply to a quack for assistance. The quack prescribed on his first visit. The remedy proposed was an immediate swallowing of forty pills. Forty pills was a great many at one dose. The invalid asked the opinion of a Frenchman, his friend. The French gentleman was astonished. "Forty pills, sir! consider what you do. Be ruled by me and take but five." The patient was ruled and took only five; but such was the drastic property of the medicine, that even the mitigated dose in three days destroyed him. Upon this up got the Frenchman in raptures at his own sagacity—"My friend is dead with taking only the five; conceive what must have happened to him if he had taken the forty!" Now this was exactly the condition of the noble earl opposite and his colleagues. They took credit for having prevented a joint declaration. Without the joint declaration, France had marched into Spain, and threatened the total subjugation of the Peninsula. And now ministers got up in delight, like the Frenchman, and said—"Think what would have happened if there had been a joint declaration!" Where was the practical difference between a joint declaration and a stipulation?
supposed, that the noble earl's information upon that point came from the same "good men and true" on whom in other matters he had relied. But, if there was not an open stipulation by the continental powers, to aid, might there not be an. implied one? The declaration, if it 205 was not a declaration of war, was it not a declaration eo termino? Did it not declare, that it was in the spirit of the treaties of the Holy Alliance to take up arms against Spain; that the principles of the new Spanish constitution were hostile to the basis upon which that alliance was built; and that all supreme governments of whatever conformation, were bound to assist against it, not merely according to the letter, but according to the spirit of those treaties on which the peace of Europe was founded? Let those who found fault with the new constitution of Spain examine whether the main errors of which they complained were not in the very points upon-which they had adhered to the old constitution. There could be no doubt, that as far as English interests were concerned, the constitution of Spain could never be too democratic. Perhaps from their connexion with France, under the former government—perhaps, from the similarity of the French and Spanish languages—perhaps from the circumstance of the Spanish literature being in a great measure derived from France—from some cause, certainly, the higher orders of the Spaniards were disposed to look towards France as an ally. But, among the lower classes, the feeling was directly in an opposite course. The lower we went, the more devoted we found the people to English principles and English alliance. The very proverb of the country was, "Peace with England, and war with all the world."—He was loth to detain the House, but there was one other point upon which he found it impossible to sit down without commenting. Much as he disapproved the pusillanimous, the impolitic, conduct of England towards Spain, the cruelty of her conduct to her old and faithful ally, Portugal, filled him with still deeper indignation. Here was Portugal, who relied upon us; Portugal, with whom we had been so long in treaty—she had formed for herself a constitution after that of Spain—a constitution upon which she relied for freedom and for happiness. She now saw that very constitution about to form the pretext of an attack upon her by France; for if France succeeded with respect to Spain, no one could doubt that Portugal would be the next victim to her tyranny. And what, under such circumstances, did England say to her? We said—" Mind what you are about. If you are attacked, we are bound to support you: but, if you think it essential for 206 your safety to go now to the assistance of your faithful friend—if you think it better to carry on a war upon the Pyrenees than upon the Tagus—then we are no longer called upon to assist you; we abandon you to your fate—that is, we leave you to be destroyed." And this was the language that we were holding towards one of our oldest friends! Such language was so abhorrent to his nature, that he should prefer to see England at once breaking the treaties she had formed, than thus seeking, upon forms, to get out of the spirit of them. But he wished, upon this point, to ask the noble earl opposite a question. He was averse to hard names, even as applied to those to whose opinions he stood most opposed. He would not talk, therefore, of traitors or rebels; but there had been an insurrection in Portugal against the new constitution of that country. He wished to know supposing there to be proof—not strict legal proof, but such proof as statesmen and practical men were accustomed to act upon and be satisfied with—supposing there to be such reasonable proof, that the insurrection in Portugal had been fomented by the aid of French money—would' that fact, if Portugal took arms, be held sufficient to bring her within our treaty? He wished to be satisfied upon that particular point. If Amarante joined the French army, would Portugal be able to say, that war with a country which received her insurgents, entitled her to an army from England to her assistance?—The noble earl opposite had put two words into the mouth of his noble friend which he had not used. The noble earl assumed his noble friend to have said, "Something will happen—God knows what—and then we shall have war;" and to this the noble earl replied, "I will wait until that something—God knows what—dees happen." What, then, had nothing happened? He might almost use the language of Demosthenes, and say, was it nothing that the man of Macedon reigned in Greece? Was it nothing that the man of Muscovy was driving on the despot of France to trample down the independence of Europe? Was a war between France and Portugal nothing? Did the noble lord mean to weigh in such nice scales the question of aggression between Portugal and France, as not to admit that France, by attacking Spain, must threaten Portugal? The noble earl asked him and his friends, "Do you mean to go to war?" 207 Why, rather than see Spain under the military domination of France, he would go to war. Rather than see Portugal exposed to be overrun by France, he would go to war. Rather than see the whole coast of the Peninsula—the coast opposite to Ireland—filled wish fanatics and slaves, he would go to war. And he would rather go to war before all this happened, than after; Nay, he would ask the noble earl opposite, whether, under such circumstance's, with the whole of the Peninsula in the occupation of the French army, that army opposite to the Irish coast, ready to make a descent on that part of our empire, with an array of fanatic missionaries, and legions of soldiers of the faith, he was not prepared to go to was also? These were plain' questions, and such was the language which it became our representative to hold,' not to the French government, but to the allied powers. If that language was considered too strong to be used by the British representative, then we should have withdrawn altogether from the deliberations of Verona. There were two modes of proceeding: either we should not have allowed the attack on Spain at all, or, the moment we understood such an aggression was contemplated, we should have declared our disapprobation practically, by a proof that at such a meeting the minister of England had no business Whatever.
observed, that agreeing with the noble earl opposite most fully as to the systematic design of the allied sovereigns, he must still contend that it was impossible not to discover in the French government a spirit, not only of hostility to the liberties of mankind, which it felt in common with the allied sovereigns, but a lust of aggrandisement more particularly opposed to the feelings and interests of this country. It was, therefore, an inconsistency irrecoricileable, not only with the conduct of the noble earl in the management of the late war, but irreconcileable with the principles of his whole life, to hear the noble earl make the admissions he had made, and not arrive at the same conclusion with those with whom he (lord E.) concurred. The noble earl heed not rest his inferences on the foreign policy of these sovereigns. It was neither at Portugal or Naples, at Verona Troppau, or Laybach, that such a determination was manifested; it was discoverable was the internal regulations of he respective governments of these mili- 208 tary monarchies. The noble earl might have discovered it in the promised but the denied constitution of Prussia—he might have discovered it in the mock constitution offered, after such pompous preparations, to Poland—he might have discovered it in the conduct of Austria to Italy—but, if lie were yet incredulous, he might have discovered it in the acts of the French government towards Spain; for there he had a proof of the systematic hostility that all these powers entertained against the liberties of mankind and the independence of nations. But, he would go further and ask, what were the real views of the French government as to Spain? Was it not to re-create the French army, to consolidate French power, to bring again under French influence the resources of the Spanish peninsula, to gain for France What its foreign minister, M. Chateaubriand, admitted was an object of French policy, namely, that no hostile frontier should exist on its southern position—but, above all, to prevent those alliances which Spain, as a free state, looking to her constitutional interests, would naturally form with the free states of the world? It was against that spirit of aggrandizement, that destruction of the balance of the power of Europe, that it became the duty of the government of England to interpose. It should have felt, as the noble earl himself admitted, that the designs of the sovereigns of continental Europe were directed against the independence of nations, and that in defence of these great interests, Spain was the vanguard of constitutional freedom. It was argued by the noble earl, that no other course remained to this country but peace or war. But that was not the alternative in discussing the merits of the late negotiation. The first question then t was, had ministers done all they could to prevent the war against Spain? The next consideration was, whether if England had put herself in the peril of engaging in war, the result of such a policy; would hot have prevented war altogether? But the noble earl thought there was no choice. It was acknowledged by all; parties, that the moment the French, army I crossed the Bidassoa, there was a justifiable ground of war. That was undeniable; but, it by no means followed, that, because there existed a just ground of war, therefore war was to be commenced by this country. That decision must depend many reasons, both of political and 209 military nature. "But," said the noble earl, you go to war, you must send an army. That was not a necessary consequence. Such was not the ancient policy of this country, in her continental alliances. Until the late war, it was new, to send an English army to act in chief in the support of an ally. Taking for granted his own statement, the noble earl argued, that while intestine divisions existed—while Spaniard was in array against Spaniard—to send a subsidiary military force was not to be thought of. Such a course had never been recommended. But then said the noble earl, the assistance of a fleet would be perfectly nugatory." That he disputed. Would not the presence of a naval force afford considerable support to the military exertions of the Spanish army? He had only to appeal to the noble duke opposite, to prove of what avail, during the last war, the presence of a small British naval armament was to Spanish exertion on the coast of Catalonia. The two main roads on the eastern and western extremity of Spain were actually under the guns of a fleet. Under such circumstances, could naval co-operation be nugatory? The three great military points of Spain were at this moment in the possession of the Spanish army, and capable of being supported by naval co-operation. With these facts before their lordships, could any man deny that the presence of a British fleet would not afford the most effectual support? He still felt that it was mainly in opinion as to the nature of the present contest, that he differed from the noble earl opposite and his colleagues; but still his opinion upon that question was a fixed one. He did not take the war to be a war by France against Spain. He took it to be a war in which France acted with an executive army—an army executive of the views and intentions of the holy alliance. It was a war which touched in principle the liberty of all European states; and above all of England; for, if that alliance were jealous of the efforts for freedom made by Spain, what would it say to England? For himself, he protested against the policy of neutrality, as derogatory to British character and destructive of British interest. The noble earl opposite thought that, standing with folded arms, England would be enabled to moderate the excesses to which either party might be disposed. A Jaw-giver of old had made it treason for 210 any citizen, in matters of public dispute, not to take part with one side or with the other. He had held, and rightly, that If wise men were the most likely to shun contention, it was only by mixing up those wise men in the quarrel, so that their precepts and example might correct extravagance in others, that any contest could be brought to a happy termination. If it was to be the policy of this' country to take no part in the present contest between despotism on the one hand arid rising liberty on the other—if we were to stand in idle neutrality, and witness the conflict between a government' on' the one part growing out of the will of the people, and a government on the other part which denied to the will of the people influence—if England was to be bound to such a course, it was a course in which no endeavours would long enable her to persevere. Before the struggle was over, she would be compelled to take a part; and she would then have lost the advantage which would arise from her doing so in the beginning.
said, he deprecated war as much as the noble earl opposite could do. He looked at it in no other light than as a resort in case of necessity; but he could not help thinking that that necessity had arrived. The course which ministers had taken was not at all surprising. They knew that war would be against the feelings of the country; and they knew also that, by avoiding it they should gain a momentary triumph. His belief was, that the hope of this triumph—and he would call it a delusive triumphs-had led them too far. Their wish for peace had been too anxious, and too openly displayed. In the commencement of the late negotiations, a tone hot of anger, but of just and firm remonstrance, not of menace towards France, but of friendly expostulation; would have produced beneficial effects. If it had been neglected, England would not have been compelled to go to war. But, it would not have been neglected, if it had been urged with an eye to the condition of France, who was then vacillating between doubt of her own subjects on the one hand, and fear of the consequences of her oppression on the other. The noble lord at down, with professing his belief, that it would be impossible for England long to remain in amity with states which discovered opposition to every thing in the shape of rational liberty.
§ The motion was negatived without a division.