Графични страници
PDF файл

whose blood did not boil with resentment at the bare suggestion of a single foreign power interposing in our domestic government, or a single foreign bayonet interfering in our private quarrels. From the highest visionary or enthusiast in the country, (if any such existed on the side of liberty,) to the lowest and most humble labourer it contained, such a proposal would meet with indignant and immediate rejection. He would pray the house to observe the manner in which this proposal of these great military powers was put forward. Not content with laying down in theory a principle which they described as applicable in practice to all states, they dared to propose it to England. Upon the whole it appeared, then, that they had required the suppression of that which had been framed and instituted upon the greatest authority; that their proposal went to annihilate a sacred law which had existed for ages in this country, a corner stone of that venerable constitution around which so many trophies and memorials of its greatness and its policy had been reared in the lapse of centuries. This was the demand of those who had waged war upon the liberties of states, and had violated the rights of man. If this were so, as he had stated it, the most serious part of the matter before the house remained untold. These sovereigns, or their ministers, told us, in their circular, that they had no doubt of the assent of the British government to the principles which it contained; that is, to a system of measures which would reduce Great Britain to

the state of a new province—to a miserable and infamous dependency on the despots of the Continent. This was the plain English, the plain inference: which would only be weakened by any language of his, after the language used in the circular. After so many of these demonstrations and declarations, and “abouchements des rois,” all made in the true spirit of that holy alliance which fostered these just and virtuous and equitable maxims, the result was, that those courts were taught to understand that Great Britain would consent not only to sacrifice the liberties of all Europe, but to a principle that should justify the landing of 100,000 Croats and Germans at Dover. Those courts would surely be very much aggrieved and irritated at the sudden desertion of the noble lord: they would now treat him—nay, they had already begun to denounce him, as one of the hostile party. It was always to be remarked, that when gentlemen of a certain calling and description got much together, and embarked on many such enterprises as were generally undertaken by persons in their profession, some quarrel arose between them, which ended in very unfortunate discoveries. These were attended, sometimes, with unpleasant consequences; and the seceders, and those before whom the parties had to appear, were equally objects of resentment and disgust to those who still remained the faithful companions of former adventures. While he was on this subject he could not help observing that it recalled to his mind a very sensible observation made by the biographer of Jonathan

Wild, of honourable memory, in the year 1781. He said, that in the time of Charles the first, there were certain cavaliers and good fellows, who kept the field a little longer than their brethren, and who, from their extreme gallantry, and fondness of action, not feeling themselves bound by the truces and compacts which sent their companions quietly to their homes, were at last secured, and infamously left for death by the arbitrary sentence of twelve men of the opposite faction. Now, in the case before the house, they had not only an impeachment of prince Metternich and baron Hardenberg from the noble lord, but a counter impeachment of the noble lord by those two very rime ministers. This, then, was #. (sir J. Macintosh's) first ground; and as it was necessary, in the case of absentees, to manifest a more than usual impartiality, it was requisite that he should now say something on behalf of baron Hardenberg and prince Metternich. , , Not only could he produce those two witnesses at the bar of the house, but he could produce against the noble lord a third person—a Russian minister, with a very hard name. Count Capo d'Istria said, that the noble lord had induced them all to expect the assent of the British government to their proposition, This expectation they entertained, either from the language or the consenting silence of the noble lord, or from that sort of language which diplomatists so well understood. The maintained that, up to the . of January last, his lordship had dissembled with them—had kept them in ignorance of this unlooked

for issue, and had not only taught them that he would put into their hands the rights of Europe and the liberties of mankind, but further that he would receive into the county of Middlesex whole armies of Russians and Croats. Now the noble lord, whose peculiar character it was to remain calm and undisturbed through every discussion, however it might personally or politically relate to him, would not induce him (sir J. Macintosh) to suppose that he felt uninterested at that moment: for he rather thought that that silence was the result of agitation on the part of the noble lord, which agitation had perhaps led him to suppose that this was his (sir J. Macintosh's) language. But it was not, it was the language of his colleagues, (for he would not call them his accomplices,) the language of prince Metternich and baron Hardenberg. Here was a document (the foreign circular,) in which the world was told that such had been the noble lord's language to them, as had led them to expect a different kind of support from him; and really he thought that if that was the fact, they had, as regarded themselves, reason to complain. But how stood the noble lord upon his own showing ! It was a maxim “habemus confitentem reum:" and more than all this, they had seen that another noble lord, being himself to attempt an explanation of the conduct of government, had stated most candidly and eloquently all the facts, all the heinousness of this detestable proceeding on the part of the allied powers. It was not, however, the introduction of

Cossacks

w

Cossacks and Croats into England which was commented on by the noble lord (Castlereagh) in his circular, but the indictment of prince Metternich. His lord

ship declared the prince's propo

sals to be contrary to the fundainental laws of this realm. What laws? What, but the bill of rights, which our ancestors had providently enacted into a law, and which, thank God, down to our day, had been effectual in restraining the illegal exertion of ministerial power. It was now clear, he supposed, that what language he had held was only a familiar commentary upon the expressions of the noble lord himself. To proceed, however, he did conceive that the noble lord's late allies must have had some reason, he would not say were justified, in making this charge, for it had been very strongly denied by the noble lord. But he begged to ask him, whether the solemn, public declaration of the three greatest powers of continental Europe formed no prima facie ground for inquiring into the conduct of administration ? or, supposing they had not made any such promise of assent, for inquiring into the history of so flagitious a falsehood as the ministers of the allies must, in that case, have published to the world. The ministers of the crown were therefore in this dilemma—they must either prove that negative, or on the other hand they must show upon what grounds “they ventured to hold out such an expectation to foreign courts. Either the noble lord must have made some promise to the allies, or the allies had been guilty of the foulest calumnies,

and it would be too much for the house of commons to leave this matter without inquiring for and examining such documents as must prove either the one case or the other. Having stated this charge, as made by the allies in reply to the noble lord's circular, as he might say, he would now remark, that the expressions in which it was conveyed meant that in some way or other the British minister had given some cause for such an expectation. The enly way to ascertain whether the British ministers had been guilty of the greatest of all crimes to their country, or those of the allied powers of the greatest of all falsehoods, was to produce all communications that had taken • place on the subject, and this, in brief, was the object of his motion. He wished that he knew whether there might not be some circumstances which the allied powers might urge in their own defence; and prince Metternich and baron Hardenberg being absent, and it being to be feared that the noble lord would desert his ancient friends, it was for him (sir J. Macintosh) to see whether there was not some colour, some argument for their charge, some slight degree of toleration on the part of the noble lord (he would not say connivance) of the proposal in question. If the allied powers had observed on the part of England a behaviour towards Naples similar to their own, they might very reasonably infer that our intentions with respect to that power were not very dissimilar from theirs. This government refused to admit or entertain the new Neapolitan ambassador, prince Cimiteli; now what more more had the governments of Austria or Russia done in that respect? They did the self-same thing—they gave the prince the same refusal. He (sir J. Macintosh), as a plain man, unacquainted with the forms of diplomacy, or matters of etiquette, or the observances of these state matters, wished to ask, whether it was customary to refuse audience to the ambassador of a government, in which the same kingly authority prevailed as in the time of the ambassador's predecessor, and in which no alteration had taken place, but in some limitations placed, with the consent of all parties, upon the kingly authority? As to the part taken by this country in the present unwarrantable proceeding of Austria, it had been already described with more humiliating eloquence than he could command; but what he inferred from the speeches made on that occasion, in another place, was, that we were to stand aloof from the strife; that we were to refuse that assistance which our strict neutrality required us to withhold, to the suffering and the weaker party; but that we were to be ready to give as much moral, or as he should call it, immoral encouragement to the aggressor, as could be conveyed in the mysterious phraseology of diplomatic pedantry. But, returning to the subject

of the Neapolitan envoy, let him refer to the case of Mons. Chauvelin. Was not Mons. Chauvelin received as the ambassador of Louis the sixteenth, after the revolution; after the flight and degradation, and return of that unfortunate monarch : after his deposition was complete, and perhaps his death resolved on, was

not M. Chauvelin, the national convention sitting at the time, received as the ambassador of the French king, by those very honourable gentlemen on the other side, who excused themselves for acknowledging prince Cimitelion account of a change in the government of Naples, of a kind infinitely less extensive 2 In cases of the change of the actual sovereign of a country, or the transfer of the crown, either by death or any other event, such a conduct as his majesty's ministers had pursued might be justified; but a mere limitation of kingly power, as he had before said, never could excuse them. However abominable he considered the principles of the holy alliance to be; however destructive of all principles of human happiness; however subversive of private and public rights; and however injurious to the progress of human society; yet still they must be acknowledged to have acted at least consistently with themselves, and with those execrable principles. But this country had acted in a very different manner; she, who still, in the history of Europe, claimed some respect and love for her unshaken attachment to liberty, and national honour, how had she acted ? Did any body hesitate to receive, in 1782, the ambassador of Gustavus, the king of Sweden, when he had subverted the liberties of his native land, and changed her limited monarchy into a military despotism? He (sir J. Macintosh) never heard that the voice of government was raised against that ambassador; but the voice of power was only raised when it was to denounce the presence of liberty. By the most scandalous treachery, by the most iniquitous

perfidya

perfidy, supported by a large military force, that tyrant surrounded the deliberative assembly of his kingdom, and compelled them to change a limited monarchy into an absolute despotism; and this was the system on which these kings were allied to act; kings who had entered into an alliance, proffering themselves as mediators between nations 2 The house would remember, that, within the last century, the crown prince of Denmark had been elected into a despotic monarch; a most dangerous precedent of the facility with which men will sometimes lightly part with the best safeguards of their freedom; and which alteration, no doubt for that very reason, was made a pretext by the allied sovereigns for depriving this sovereign, at the congress at Vienna, of his dominions in Norway. His majesty's ministers had said, in justification of themselves, that they did feel called upon to express a necessary disapprobation of the measures taken in consequence of the revolution at Naples. And what did they do? Instead of making their disapprobation known to the Neapolitans, they communicated it to the allied powers. He remembered, before he had the honour of a seat in that house, being once present at a debate, through a breach of its privileges. An hon. friend of his, in the course of a speech he was then making, quoted a very splendid passage from Dr. Johnson, upon the subject of war. The remark made on that speech by the celebrated Mr. Burke was this: — “ The speech of the hon. gent. is admirable; the invective against war most spirited; and the instruc

tion it, contains beyond dispute: but I really do not see that the house of commons is so quarrelsome a party in the case, as to render it necessary to address to it this homily; but let the hon. gentleman take it to the jacobins of Paris, or the convention, and there it will have this other beauty—it will be applicable.” So, too, ministers ought to have preached their homily to the holy alliance, and not have notified their censure in a different quarter. But they rested their defence on two principal grounds: first the adoption, by Naples, of the Spanish constitution; and secondly, her conduct towards Sicily. What the conduct towards Sicily had to do with the relations between England and Naples, or what it had to do with those of Naples and Austria, he was at a loss to know. The noble lord must excuse him for saying, that in defending the liberties of a nation, he (sir J. Macintosh) was not bound to defend her through every fault and for every particular part of her conduct. He defended only her independence. In the eyes of morality, in the judgment of pos. terity, her conduct to Sicily was a stain upon the character of Naples. But this was not the object of the revolution, for that very conduct occurred subsequently to the revolution. Foreign nations could have nothing to do with it. What would have been thought if any such representation had been made to William III. when he levied war against Ireland 7 And yet that monarch was fighting against a people who were defending themselves upon principles pretty much the same

as

« ПредишнаНапред »