Page images

the sceond, to direct those efforts in a way which shall bệ most beneficial to our new ally; the third, to direct them in a manner conducive 10 peculiarly British interests.' Bul, sir, of those objects, the lasi will be out of the question as compared with the other two. Thesc are the senti. menity with which his majesty's government are inspired. To the measures which tliese sentiments may dictate, they confidently look for the support of parlianient and of the country: It canno, sir, be expected that I should say whether we think he crisis arrived, or whether we anticipate its speedy approach, when the sentiments which I have described must be call d into action. It is sufficient tbat I have stated what we feel, and wllat we intend. For the reasons, sir, which I have before-mentioned, I am compelled to dissent trom my right honourable friend's motion.

Mr. Ponsonby perfectly agreed with the right honourable gentleman in ihe objections he had made to the mo.. tion of his right honourable friend, and early foresaw those objec ions. He thought there was much of the information sought for they could not grant; and of the little they had perhaps, none that it would be prudent to communicate. In such circumstances, he, nor no man as ignorant apon the subject as he acknowledged himself to be, could attempt to advise his majesty's ministers what course to pursue, when their course was ultimately to be regulated by that information of which they were exclu. sively possessed. He therefore conld not divine the object of the motion of his right honourable friend. He denied, for himself, that it would operate upon him as a pledge of his future opinions upon the conduct of his majesty's ministers in this important crisis ; as, until he had witnessed it, he could not possibly judge of it.

Mr. Whitbread said that, as his right honourable friend had devoted the greater part of the exordiam of his speech upon him, he hoped he should be allowed to say a very few w rds. In the first place, his right honourable friend bad mistaken him, when he had represented him as anxious to load ministers with all the responsibility of acting in the present insta .ce, and not willing to share in that responsibili!y. He had not expressed any such sentiment : but though his right honourable friend had done so much jerstice to his privale probity, he had accused him of pertinacity. He should certainly, in the

[ocr errors]

present instance, so far adhere to this pertinacity, that as he had uniformly arraigned the measures of the present ad. ministration since they came into office, as he had uniform. ly distrusted and doubted them, he should not now begin to give them gratuitously his confidence upon a great and most important crisis. At the same time he was positively against giving the information required. He had been often reproyed as a man too prompt in calling for information, &c.: in the present case, he knew how to draw the line. It was, however, a topic of national feeling ; and he was well aware, when his right honourable friend, like another Timotheus, seized the golden lyre, what an en thusiasm he would excite: but he doub ed very much if such enthusiasm might not be productive of more ill than good, if prematurely called forth before the brave Spas niards were furnished with means of resisting their torinidable foe. When he heard so much said in the usual tone of Buonaparte, calling him the merciless despot, se vere tyrant, plunderer, common enemy of mankind, he wished from his heart that England could come into the cause with clean hands. He coomented upon the third object of this country, in case of a co-operation with Spain, and wished it had been altogether omiited ; it was the narrow policy of postponing the interests of the great cause in which they were engaged to the minor concerns of British objects, British views, and British interests exclusively.

Mr. Canning rose to explain a misconception which the honourable gentleman seemed to feel, as to what he had stated respecting the objects to be prosecuted in the contest. He had meniioned British objects on that occasion, for the purpose only of disclaiming them as any part of tbe considerations which influenced his majesiy's government. In this contest in which Spain was embarked, no interest could be so purely British as Spanish success; 110 conquest so advantageons for Great Britain, as conquering from France the complete integrity of the dominions of Spain in every quarter of the world.

Mr. Whitbread was glad that he had given the right honourable gentleman the opportunity of making that ex. planation.

Mr. Herbert made a few observations, which we were not able to collect.

Mr. Windham, though there were many important to

pics belonging to this question, and arising out of the discussion as far as it had hitherto gone, did not mean only to offer any observation upon them. He had then risen to louch upon one or two particulars, which were more per. sonal than any general reference to the general situation of the country; the one that it might not be misunderstood, and the other to rectify a mistake that might prevail re. specting it. And here he must observe the gloomy proa spect held up at the onset by the bad specimens of candour, openness, and ingentiousness, with which the right ho. nourable gentleman had endeavoured to construe the senti.. ments expressed by his right honourable friend, as pledg. ing the whole of those who acted with him to a general support of the measures of administration. (No, from the treasury bench.)

If no: to their other measures, to those at least wbich may be connected with the object which bis right honourable friend had in view. He had felt it necessary on his part to disclaim being included in any such pledge, and he hoped this construction of the right honourable gentleman was not a specimen of the openness which the house was to expect in the progress of this transaction. The points upon which he wished to touch were, first, the advice which had been given by his right honourable friend to ministers, either to do a great deal, or do nothing in this case. If his right honourable friend meant by doing a great deal, to send a large force to the assistance of Spain, he feared that we should not be able to do that. But it was not thence to be concluded that nothing was to be done. Though we could not assist them in the highest degree, it did not follow that we might not do what would be extremely serviceable to them. The part of his right bonourable friend's sentiments in which he completely concurred, was that in which he recommended not to adopt the conduct that had been pursued in former wars since the commencement of the French revolution. It was his decided opinion, that we should not mix little British interests with this important question. He was happy to agree with his right bonourable friend on this point; though he could not concur with him as to the alternative, or admit his conclusion, that if a great deal could not be done, nothing was to be done. The other point upon which he wished to touch, related to the general censure which his right honourable friend bad passed upon the conduct of all late administrations. He was ready to admit that this censure was just in general, but he denied that it would apply to the last adininistration, of which he had the honour of being a member. He defied any gentleman to prove one instance in which it would apply. If they could not show any such instance, they should receive his statement with more temper. He did not claim any praise for that adininistration, because it had not an opportunity of incurring the censure.

Fle was anxious to urge as strongly as his right honourable friend the propriety of prosecuting hopes for the restoration of Europe, in that way alone in which they were likely to be realised. He had often been reprocherl for enthusiasm on this subject ; but he trusted he sliould not be readily reproached again, inasmuch as his impressions, though late, yet not slowly, had been adop:ed. It seemned now to be adınitted, that the only way of overturning revolu. tionary despotism, was by ailing the internal means of a country with external co-operation. Now there was no thing external but England; it was Buona parte and France every where beside, and those who would not take to the pinnace or the long-boat in the late storm, were now glad to catch at any broken oar, or fragment of a plank. When Europe was unsubdued; when Austria was entire; wben Prussia was a formidable military power; when Italy was not yet parcelled out; and Spain itself was whole; the interpal state of La Vendée held out the fairest hope of arresting the progress of the revolution. What then had been neglected, was now looked up to with sanguine exo pectation; and the only hope now was, that this iusurrection in Spain, might prove a La Vendéc. Here he should recur to the expectation, or rather deprecation of his right honourable friend, that we should inix no little interest in the contest, but conduct it on the principles stated by the right lionourable gentleman in his second speech. We should remember how great an arrear we had to settle; how much Spain had to forget in consequence of the outrage which she sustained in the capture of her frigates. Were they prepared to restore then, und prove to Spain the disinterestedness with which we were to embark in her cause? Heloped that we should keep clear of every thing of this kind. As to the advantage or disadvantage of bringing this motion forward at this time, he owned he did not agree with the sentiments of his honourable friend.

Vol. III.--1808. 3L

He thought that a demonstration of the disposition to promote the cause of Spain made to that house, to tbe country, and to the Spanish nation, might be productive of advantage. But though he felt this impression, it was still to be apprehended, that such a demonstration might have the effect of influencing the Spanish nation to its ruin. He had no objection however, to the expression of a disposition on the part of the country, to support all rational measures that might be necessary to aid the efforts of the Spanish people.

Lord Casilereagh observed, that enough bad been said as to the discussion of the motion, in what had falleu from the right honourable gentleman who brought it forward, and from his right honourable friend who followed him; yet certain topics had been touched upon by other genilemen in the course of the debate, which rendered it impossible in him to pass them over without observation. Undoubtedly a difference of opinion may exist as to the propriety of bringing forward the motion; but of this he was convinced, that in the view which the right honourable gentleman had taken of the subject, no mischief could possibly arise from the discussion. He did not press any proposition upon his majesty's ministers which required aby improper disclosure. It had been brought forward by an eminent gentleman, who, on all occasions of difficwty, in every crisis of the country, waving all political hostility, had uniformly come forward in support of the government. The right honourable gentlemen were unquestionably not pledged by the sentiments expressed by that right honourable gentleman to a general support of govern ment. It was not an irrational pledge of that description to which his right honourable friend had adverted ; and, if the gentlemen on the other side were not disposed to concur in the feelings and sentiments of that right honourable gentleman, if they felt not a disposition to assist the Spanish nation on this opening for resistance to the tyranny of France, they certainly were at liberty to purs sue what cause they might deem most expedient. But on this, as on every former occasion, they seemed in language to have disowned the right honourable gentleman, who bad from such laudable motives brought forward this question. The house and the country would not fail to contrast thie tone of that right honourabe gentleman's speech with the chilling language of the honourable gentlemen

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »