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Negotiation—Debates on that Subject in the House of Lords—In the House - - of Commons.

A LL attempts at negotiation A. having proved unfortunately fruitless, as will be explained in a succeeding chapter, when we come to treat of the affairs of France, on the 6th of May lord Pelham communicated to the house of peers, that the French -ambassador had that day sent for his passports, in order, as soon as it was known that lord Whitworth had left Paris to come to England, that he might leave London with his suite, and depart for Paris. His lordship said lord Whitworth had been ordered to press the bringing the negotiation pending between the two countries to a conclusion; and he had also had instructions sent to him, that, in case he could not succeed in attaiying that object, he should quit Paris as on Tuesday. Whether he had quitted Paris, and was on his way home, his majesty’s confidential servants were uninformed, as the messenger had not then arrived; and could only conjecture from

the incident he had mentioned of the French ambassador's having sent for his passports that day. His lordship concluded by moving an adjournment to Monday; which, after some opposition, was carried. Accordingly, lord Pelham, on the Monday, rose to make a communication to the house, such as the circumstances of the case would admit. His lordship said, since Friday a change of circumstances had induced lord Whitworth to delay his leaving the capital of France; but this alteration had not been attended with any other change further than the necessary delay which arose from the fact itself; and he entertained a confident expectation that he would very shortly be enabled to come forward with a regular com

munication to the house. On Monday, the 16th of May, his lordship brought down a message from his majesty, importing that his majesty thought it proper to acquaint the house of peers that - the the discussions which he announced to them in his message of the 8th of March last, as then subsisting between his majesty and the French government, had been terminated; that the conduct of the French government had obliged his majesty to recall his ambassador from Paris; that the ambassador from the French republic had left London; and that his majesty had given directions for laying before the house, with as little delay as possible, copies of such papers as would afford the fullest information to his parliament at this important juncture. On taking the message into consideration on the 23d of May, lord Pelham rose to move the address. He observed: From a perusal of the papers on the table, the great, and indeed the only question was, Whether a distinct and legitimate ground of war had been establish

ed 2 The conclusion which those

documents, in his opinion, left on the minds of all unprejudiced men must be, that war was, by the conduct of the French government, rendered inevitable. #. lordship declared it not to be his wish or his intention to go minutely through the papers, because he had no doubt that their lordships had given them a very attentive consideration, and had formed the conclusion which a careful perusal was calculated to induce. It was only necessary for him to trace the outline of the conduct pursued by the two governments since the conclusion of the treaty of Amiens.

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conduct pursued on the part of this country was such as must prove the sincerest desire of peace. A very short period had elapsed, before, with a view of facilitating the evacuation of the island, an accredited officer was appointed to arrange the mode in which it was to take place. It would be seen from No. 1. of the printed papers, that, immediately on lord Hawkesbury's receiving a note from M. Otto, mentioning that the first consul had appointed general Vial to be minister-plenipotentiary to the order and island of Malta, lord Hawkesbury, in return, communicated (No. 2.) to M. Otto that his majesty, on his part, had appointed sir Alexander Ball, who had received full powers and instructions to concert with an agent on the part of the French government the means of executing the article of the treaty with the least possible difficulty. Previous to the evacuation, the election of a grand-master was an object of important consideration; and to this his majesty had given every possible facility. The grand-moster then chosen had seen reasons for not acceding to the election, and a new election became indispensable. Again, his majesty, actuated by the same desire of peace, and the same wish of carrying into effect the stipulations of the treaty with scrupulous fidelity, acceded to an arrangement for a subsequent election, with the view of removing every obstacle to the evacuation of the island. A body of Neapolitan troops were, in the first instance, to be admitted into the island; and to their ad-" mission on the part of his majesty not the smallest obstacle was opposed. In a word, without going

into any minuteness of detail, he would content himself with referring their lordships to the clear and unequivocal proofs of a pacific spirit, which had, throughout the whole of the stipulated arrangements relative to Malta, been exhibited on the part of this country. It was about the 27th of January that the French government began to press, in a very peremptory manner, the evacuation of Malta; and it was about that period that ministers thought themselves bound to demand some satisfactory explanation of the pretensions advanced, and the views disclosed, by the French government. Circumstances then existcd which rendered it necessary to refer back to what had been the conduct of the first consul from the period when the treaty was concluded. In the course of this review, the plain, the irresistible inference was, that the conduct of the French government had been one constant series of acts totally inconsistent with a sincere desire of preserving the peace of the two countries.—At an early period after the treaty was signed, representations were made about the freedom of the press in this country, the publications reflecting on the French government to which this freedom gave rise, and the necessity of subjecting not only the press, but the deliberative assemblies of the country, to a degree of restraint inconsistent with the genius of our excellent constitution. The stay of the princes of the house of Bourbon, of certain bishops particularly named, and of a number of emigrants who continucd to wear the badges of extinguished royalty, was made the subject of complaint. What the

answer of ministers to these complaints was, was sufficiently explained in the papers; and he entertained a confident expectation that it was of a nature to meet with universal support and approbation. Lord Pelham was convinced that it was unnecessary to remind their lordships of the various other proofs which the French government had given of a hostile and dangerous spirit. . It would be necessary only to refer to a few which were most prominent and worthy of consideration. At the period when the first consul began to be so very clamorous about the evacuation of Malta, it would not be forgotten by their lordships that an official document of a very extraordinary nature made its appearance in France. He meant to allude to the report of colonel Sebastiani, an agent dispatched by the first consul to make the tour of the greater part of the provinces of the Turkish empire. The publication of this report necessarily excited suspicion. It disclosed views and unfolded projects which could not fail to attract the peculiar notice of ministers. In every page, one most important lesson was to be collected—that the views of the first consul relative to Egypt had not been for a moment abandoned. If any doubt remained, this doubt must have been completely removed by subsequent circumstances. In an interview with our ambassador, the first consul had not thought it necessary to throw the slightest veil of secrecy over his designs. . In a formal conference with the ambassador of an independent power, the first consul had not hesitated to declare that Egypt must sooner or later be in

the

the possession of France. He would put it to the candour and feelings of their lordships, whether ministers were not entitled to demand from the French government some security for its future views relative to Egypt, beyond what the treaty of Amiens provided ?. In the continued possession of Malta ministers conceived this security might be found; and hence originated the discussions ,which this subject had created, and the importance which the possession of the island afterwards assumed. Malta, in the hands of this country, could only be viewed as a security. It could afford to France, or any other power, no reasonable ground of jealousy or alarm. No other place was liable to so little objection, and on this ground ministers rested their claim to its possession. But, independent of these considerations, there were others which justified ministers in retaining the island. When the treaty of Amiens was formed, and when, according to the stipulations of that treaty, the island was to be restored to 1he order of St. John of Jerusalem, certain revenues were understood to be appropriated to their support, in a way consistent with the objects which the treaty proposed to establish. Without this support, it was absurd to talk of that independence which the treaty professedly guaranteed. But their lordships could not have forgotten, that, in Spain, the revenues of the Spanish command had even been confiscated. The same thing had taken place in Italy and in Bavaria. The French government, so far from opposing any obstacle to this sequestration, had appeared to have encouraged it, in a way which showed a very great degree of disinclination to the execution of the treaty. After

pursuing this conduct, it was with a very bad grace that the first con- . sul came forward to insist on the peremptory execution ofthetreaty. As long as the hope of peace could, with the smallest degree of reason, be entertained, ministers had shown the utmost reluctance to resort to any measures which might hasten a renewal of hostilities. When, however, the conduct of the French government had become such as could no longer be tolerated, consistently with the national honour, dignity, or safety, it became parliament and the country to speak in terms of suitable indignation of their repeated acts of insult and aggression. If war had become inevitable, it ought to be a war in which the national spirit should be exerted in a way o would demonstrate to a proud and insolent foe, that, while the people of this country were not anxious for an

opportunity of taking offence, they

were sensibly alive to the least imputation of dishonour, and determined on punishing insults with the most exemplary vengeance. — His lordship concluded by moving the

address. The duke of Cumberland rose, notwithstanding the able and accurate statement of the noble secretary of state, to enter upon the unpleasing task of repeating the various indignities and insults which had been offered to this nation by the French government. Among their first acquisitions since the peace was Lombardy, which they pleased to call the Italian republic; then followed the isle of Elba, Piedmont, Parma, and lastly Switzerland. Holland, which was one of those nations whose independence they had acknowledged by their treaties, was now over-run by French troops; and as to this country, if it could submit to the insolence

insolence and unjust pretensions of France, it would soon be in as degraded and humiliating a situation as any of those small nations which were now obliged to bow to the mandates of a French minister, and obey his instructions. As to our commerce, which, in a country like this, must be an object of the first importance to the nation, and an object of the greatest solicitude to its government, the French government had, in a time of peace, acted with the most inveterate hostility. It was not by laying on any protecting duties, or any fair mode of rivalry, by which they endeavoured to depreciate our manufactures, and substitute their own in their stead. No ; it was by force and injustice, that they not only prohibited the entrance of our manufactures into their country; but excluded them also from every country which was under their influence ; or, rather, which could be terrified by the consideration of their power, joined to that of their rapacity and injustice. Their tribunals had confiscated our vessels on the most frivolous pretences; they had refused, in every instance, justice to all British claimants, and they were pleased to call this conduct the conduct of a nation at peace. The illustrious duke then adverted to the report of Sebastiani ; after which he proceeded— this country had also been told that it had nothing to do with the affairs of Europe, or with the oppressions and vexations that France might please to exercise on other nations, and that all our rights were derived from the treaty of Amiens. When did France make this discovery or when did Britain forfeit the rank and estimation she had hitherto held among the nations 2 But the French government were not content with endeavouring to

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affairs of all other countries; they wished much to be allowed to introduce their own theories, their impracticable systems, and destructive innovations, into the constitution and laws of this country. Of all the institutions of our country which had been dear to our ancestors and ourselves, there was none that displeased them more than that which had been always considered the pride of this free country—the tiberty of the press— established by the constitution, and regulated by the laws. This was more peculiarly galling to a government whose measures could not bear the light of free discussion. His royal highness concluded by reminding their lordships, that, if this war should be of any long continuance, the consequences of defeat would be the overthrowing of our altars, the destruction of our mobility, the degradation of the country, the extinction of the national honour, and the loss of that character which had hitherto made the people of this country respected among the nations : whereas, if we should prosecute it with that vigour with which our former wars had been conducted, there would be no doubt of the same success. We should convince the world that we had not degenerated from the patriotic spirit of our ancestors; and we should teach France, that there is still in Europe a powerful and unconquered nation, which, just and moderate in its own conduct, would not bear injustice and insult from any nation, and was always prepared to defend its own dignity, and to oppose unjust ambition, aggrandisement, and encroachment. Earl Stanhope, after a few prefatory remarks, said he should attempt

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