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again crippled by collecting troops under the command of the Earl of Moira, for a descent upon the coast of France -a descent, for which an opportunity has never yet been found. The consequence was, that Toulon was lost, and that a number of troops was sent to the West Indies, sufficient to take the islands, but not to keep them. Guadaloupe is already gone! There is little hope of retaining any part of St. Domingo ; and even Martinico and St. Lucia cannot be considered as in a state of security. The error of the last campaign has been confidence in the king of Prussia, in the Belgians, and the Dutch. We told the people of the Austrian Netherlands, that they were fighting for their religion; and the people of the United Provinces, that they were fighting for their liberties ; but neither of them believed us. We drew the Dutch into a war, which they had no inclination to undertake, even in defence of the Scheldt. When their protection was alledged as the principal cause for going to war, I asked, whether they had demanded our assistance ? To this it was answered, that they durst not demand it; but if it was offered to them, they would not refuse it. I then believed and stated the case to be the reverse ; that if our assistance, which they did not wish for, was offered, they durst not refuse it. All that has happened since confirms my opinion. While we were fighting in the Auf. trian Netherlands, the Dutch gave us but a feeble aid. When we were driven out of the Austrian Netherlands, and the United Provinces were to be defended, the Dutch joined in welcoming the French ;-a clear proof they were forced into what we called a defensive war. We ought to have known before hand, that the people of the United Provinces did not wish to be defended by us, and therefore were not to be depended upon as allies. We ought to have taken one of two lines of conduct; to have
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either mons ?
either withdrawn our mischievous and oppressive protection, and said, defend yourselves ; or to have taken pos. session of the country with an army, and defended it like a conquered province.”
Mr. Fox next took a view of the naval part of the campaign ; and contended that the captures by the enemy were greater than in any former war, and that our trade was not greater in the same proportion. “By documents," said he, “ which I conceive to be tolerably correct, it appears that in the second year after France took part in the American war, the number of captures was 499. Of these, perhaps, one half were taken by the Americans. In the second year of this war, when we have France alone to contend with, the number of captures is 860. Until I hear this extraordinary difference, under circumstances so much less unfavourable, accounted for, I must either suppose a defect in the force and number of our navy, or mismanagement in the direction of it. His Majesty's speech from the throne in 1794, held out many topics of past success as arguments for future hope. We had driven the French out of Holland :
:-we had recovered the Austrian Netherlands :-we had taken several strong fortresses on the frontiers of France, which would facilitate our farther progress :—and, while we had annoyed the enemy's contracted trade, our own had been effectually protected. Yet, in the course of that very year, 860 of our ships were taken ! Every article of consolation held out in that speech is gone. We have lost the fortresses on the French frontier ;---we have lost the Austrian Netherlands ;-we have lost Holland ; trade has suffered more than in any former war within the same period; and the recaptures bear no greater proportion to the ships taken than in former times. Are, or are not these grounds of inquiry for the House of Com
mons? In what light do gentlemen consider themselves ? Have they been sent here only to vote taxes, as has been too often the case with the parliaments of former kings, or to act as a national council, and to see that the executive government is not only incorrupt, but judicious ? It might have been supposed, that, after the memorable first of June, we shouid be masters of the sea ; but of this we have no reason to boast. Our fleet came into port in November ; and the French fleet put to sea, no doubt, because they knew that ours was returned. So little foresight had been shewn in preparing our fleet for sea again, that it could not go out till late in January ; and for two months the French were thus masters of the sea. It will be said, that our fleet cannot be always out. To this I must answer, that, under proper management, a great part of it always may. But will any man contend that it could not have been ready for sea in less than two months, during great part of which time it was known that the French fleet was out? It was even reported, that, after the ships were ready, they were detained for want of biscuit, which it became necessary to send to them by land carriage. How true these reports may be, I know not; but all the circumstances are such as to demand inquiry, unless gentlemen are prepared to say, either that ministers have steered us so steadily, and piloted us so surely, as to deserve implicit confidence; or that we are in a situation so prosperous, as to be of itself a sufficient proof of their good conduct. Is our present situation such, I will ask the minister himself, as to afford any rational ground for confidence? I am not, I hope, a man to give to success more credit than is due to it: I çan reverence unsuccessful wisdom : my own life has not been such as leads me to think that success should be considered as the criterion of skill. Let the minister say, that the hand of God was upon us when human prudence could avail us nothing ; but let him not say, that Great Britain has been declining in every quarter,--that all her exertions, and the most lavish profusion of treasure and of blood, have availed ber nothing ; and yet deny the propriety of an inquiry by the House of Commons, to discover, if possible, the source of so melancholy a reverse of fortune. In such a case, it is the duty of every member of this House, of the friends of ministers themselves, to give up their private confidence, and to promote inquiry. Then, if they find that ministers have been pursuing an impracticable object, or endeavouring to obtain it by inadequate means, they well know how to apply the remedy. If they find that ministers have been conducting the affairs of the state with ability and wisdom, they will be able to say, with satisfaction to themselves and their constituents, " We will continue our confidence in these ministers."
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What little claim they had to such confidence was far. ther illustrated by Mr. Fox, in a single glance at the, situation of Ireland. “ Fatigued,” said he, “ as I feel myself, and long as I have trespassed on the patience of the House, I purposely omit many incidental points, trusting to the force of the general argument. There is, however, one so closely connected with the prosecution of the war, that I cannot pass it over. I mean the irritated state of the sister kingdom. When the war first became the subject of discussion, I know I was blamed by many of my friends, both in this House and out of it, for repeatedly, though ineffectually pressing upon the House a variety of considerations :- I harrassed the House with questions, which they were unwilling to debate ; not, as was said by an author [CARDANUS] now very
little read, Nunquam libentius loquor, quam' cum quod lequor auditoribus displicet. I felt ņo pleasạre in addres
sing myself to unwilling hearers : but I persevered, because I felt it my duty to do so; and I stated many
cir. cumstances that ought to discourage from going to war ; among others, that the Austrian Netherlands could not be retained while the Emperor's government was hated; that Holland could not be defended while the Dutch did not wish to defend it; and that the king of Prussia, by his conduct in his very first campaign against France, had proved that he was not to be depended upon.
I then told, that my speech was a libel upon all our actual and all our possible allies. If it was a libel, experience has proved that it had in it what has been held the strongest ingredient of libel, TRUTH; and I hope that that speech will go down to posterity as a convicted libel. On the same occasion I adverted to Ireland, and was told, touch not upon Ireland. I answered then, as I should do now, that I must touch upon every thing that demanded the attention of the House, in a discussion so important as peace or war. Ireland is an important part of His Majesty's dominions, in regard to the supplies of men it affords for the army and navy in time of war.
in time of war. It is important in another point of view; from the identity of constitution, and its being under the same executive goyernment. We may look to it for information with regard to the disposition of ministers, and for examples to imitate or shun. Formerly I saw great difficulty in giving to the catholics of Ireland all that they had a right to claim as subjects of the same constitution, namely, equality of civil rights with every other subject. A strange jargon of protestant ascendancy had been set up, as if upon that depended the constitution of Ireland. Ministers some time since got over the difficulty in part; and although not in a way calculated to obtain much respect, united the affections of the catholics for the time. When the