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ferent hostile resolutions adopted in his council, both by nomi-
Another ground which they had assigned was the grief which had been expressed in the British court at the fate of their unhappy monarch. Of all the reasons he ever heard for making war against another country, that of the French upon this occasion was the most extraordinary: they said they would make war on us, first, because we loved our own constitution, secondly, because we detested their proceedings; and lastly, because we presumed to grieve at the death of their murdered king. Thus would they even destroy those principles of justice, and those sentiments of compassion, which led us to reprobate their crimes, and to be afflicted at their cruelties. Thus would they deprive us of that last resource of humanity – to mourn over the misfortunes and sufferings of the victims of their injustice. If such was the case, it might be asked, in the emphatic words of the Roman writer, Quis gemitus Populo Romano liber erit! They would not only endeavour to destroy our political existence, and to deprive us of the privileges which we enjoyed under our excellent constitution, but they would eradi. cate our feelings as men; they would make crimes of those sympathies which were excited by the distresses of our common nature; they would repress our sighs and restrain our tears. Thus, except the specific fact, which was alleged as a groand
of their declaration of war, namely, the accession of His Majesty to the treaty between Austria and Prussia, which had turned out to be entirely false and unfounded, or the augmentation of our armament, a measure of precaution indispensably requisite for the safety of the country, and the protection of its allies, all the others were merely unjust, unfounded, absurd, and frivolous pretexts — pretexts which never could have been brought to justify a measure of which they were not previously strongly desirous, and which shewed that, instead of waiting for provocation, they only sought a pretence of aggression. The death of Louis, though it only affected the individual, was aimed against all sovereignty, and shewed their determination to carry into execution that intention, which they had so often professed, of exterminating all monarchy. As a consequence of that monstrous system of inconsistency which they pursued, even while they professed their desire to maintain a good understanding with this country, the minister of the marine had written a letter to the sea-port towns, ordering them to fit out privateers : for what purpose but the projected view of making depredations on our commerce? While they affected to complain of our armament, they had passed a decree to fit out fifty sail of the linean armament which, however, it was to be observed, existed only in the decree.
He feared that, by this long detail, he had wearied the patience of the House, and occupied more of their time than he at first intended. The pretexts, which he had been led to examine, alleged as grounds for the declaration of war, were of a nature that required no refutation. They were such as every man could see through; and in many of his remarks he doubted not he had been anticipated by that contempt with which the House would naturally regard the weak reasoning, but wicked policy, of these pretexts.
He now came to bis conclusion. - We, said Mr. Pitt, have, in every instance, observed the strictest neutrality with respect to the French : we have pushed, to its utmost extent, the system of temperance and moderation : we have held out the means of accommodation: we have waited to the last moment for satis. factory explanation. These means of accommodation have been slighted and abused, and all along there has appeared to disposition to give any satisfactory explanation. They have now, at last, come to an actual aggression, by seizing our vessels in our very ports, without any provocation given on our part; without any preparations having been adopted but those of necessary precaution, they have declared, and are now waging war. Such is the conduct which they have pursued; such is the situation in which we stand. It now remains to be seen whether, under Providence, the efforts of a free, brave, loyal, and happy people, aided by their allies, will not be successful in cheeking the progress of a system, the principles of which, if not opposed, threaten the most fatal consequences to the tran. quillity of this country, the security of its allies, the good order of every European government, and the happiness of the whole of the human race!
Mr. Pitt then proceeded to move the following address in answer to His Majesty's message:
" That an humble address be presented to His Majesty, to return His Majesty the thanks of this House for his most gracious message, informing us, that the assembly, now exercising the powers of government in France, have, without previous notice, directed acts of hostility to be committed against the persons and property of His Majesty's subjects, in breach of the law of nations, and of the most positive stipulations of treaty; and have since, on the most groundless pretences, actually declared war against His Majesty and the United Provinces ; to assure His Majesty that, under the circumstances of this wanton and unprovoked aggression, we most gratefully acknowledge His Majesty's care and vigilance in taking the necessary steps for main taining the honour of his crown, and vindicating the rights of his people: that His Majesty may rely on the firm and effectual support of the representatives of a brave and loyal people, in the prosecution of a just and necessary war, and in endeavouring, under the blessing of Providence, to oppose an effectual barrier
to the farther progress of a system which strikes at the security and peace of all independent nations, and is pursued in open defiance of every principle of moderation, good faith, humanity, and justice.
“ That, in a cause of such general concern, it must afford us great satisfaction to learn that His Majesty has every reason to hope for the cordial co-operation of those powers who are united with His Majesty by the ties of alliance, or who feel an interest in preventing the extension of anarchy and confusion, and in contributing to the security and tranquillity of Europe.
“ That we are persuaded, that whatever His Majesty's faithful subjects must consider as most dear and sacred, the stability of our happy constitution, the security and honour of His Majesty's crown, and the preservation of our laws, our liberty, and our religion, are all involved in the issue of the present contest; and that our zeal and exertions shall be proportioned to the importance of the conjuncture, and to the magnitude and value of the objects for which we have to contend."
After the address had been seconded by Mr. Powys, Mr. Fox spoke at considerable length against the motion, concluding with moving an amendment to the following purport :
“ We learn, with the utmost concern, that the assembly, who now exercise the powers of government in France, have directed the commission of acts of hostility against the persons and property of Your Majesty's subjects, and that they have since actually declared war against Your Majesty, and the United Provinces.
“ We humbly beg leave to assure Your Majesty, that Your Majesty's faithful Commons will exert themselves with the utmost zeal in the maintenance of the honour of Your Majesty's crown, the vindication of the rights of your people, and nothing shall be wanting on our part that can contribute to that firm and effectual support which Your Majesty has so much reason to expect from a brave and loyal people, in repelling every hostile attempt against this country, and in such other exertions as may be necessary to induce France to consent to such terms of pacification as may be consistent with the honour of Your Majesty's crown, the security of your allies, and the interests of your people.”
The amendment was negatived, and the address, as moved by Mr. Pitt, was agreed to without a division.
May 7. 1793.
On a motion by Mr. Grey, for referring to a committee various peritions that had been presented to the House, praying for a Reform in the representation of the people in Parliament,
Mr. Pitt spoke to the following effect :
I am anxious to deliver my opinion before, from the lateness of the hour, and the length to which the discussion has been carried, the attention of the House shall be exhausted. I feel more particularly desirous, on account of the share which I have had in agitating the question of a parliamentary reform, to state fully and distinctly the reasons which induce me to resist the motion, which is now brought forward. The question at the present time involves the fate of all those who have hitherto been so long protected by the British constitution; nay, it involves the fundamental principles of every society and form of government. But first I shall beg leave to remind the House of the grounds upon which I opposed the notice of a parliamentary reform, when brought forward last session. The opinion which I then entertained, is confirmed by what has since occurred, and has even received strength from the petition now on the table, and the motion before the House. I then considered the agitation of the question as capable of producing much mischief, and likely to be attended with no good. Such was the conclusion which I formed from experience. I had myself, on different occasions, proposed a reform, in situations which seemed favour. able to my object, and supported by persons of the highest respectability, and had even then failed. Several gentlemen, from a dread of the consequences of innovation, and from a doubt whether the advantage to be obtained was such as would compensate for the risk incurred, opposed my views. If such arguments had formerly succeeded, how much force had they last year acquired from the dreadful lesson afforded in the example of a neighbouring kingdom! The scene of horrors which it then presented, exceeded imagination, far short, as it stopped, of what