« AnteriorContinuar »
dregs. Basle and Berlin were not sufficient. After so many and so diversified repulses, we were resolved to make another trial, and to try another Mediator, among the unhappy gentlemen in whose persons Royalty is insulted and degraded at the seat of plebeian pride and upstart insolence. There is a minister from Denmark at Paris. Without any previous encouragement to that, any more than the other steps, we sent through this turnpike to demand a passport for a person who on our part was to solicit peace in the metropolis, at the footstool of Regicide itself. It was not to be expected that any one of those degraded beings could have influence enough to settle any part of the terms in favour of the candidates for further degradation; besides, such intervention would be a direct breach in their system, which did not permit one sovereign power to utter a word in the concerns of his equal.-Another repulse. We were desired to apply directly in our persons.-We submitted and made the application.
It might be thought that here, at length, we had touched the bottom of humiliation; our lead was brought up covered with mud. But in the lowest deep, a lower deep' was to open for us still more profound abysses of disgrace and shame. However, in we leaped. We came forward in our own name. The passport, such a passport and safeconduct as would be granted to thieves who might come in to betray their accomplices, and no better, was granted to British supplication. To leave no doubt of it's spirit, as soon as the rumour of this act of condescension could get abroad, it was formally announced, with an explanation from authority, containing an invective against the Ministry of Great Britain, their habitual frauds, their proverbial, Punick perfidy. No such State Paper, as a preliminary to a negociation for peace, has ever yet appeared. Very
few declarations of war have ever shewn so much and so unqualified animosity. I place it belowl as a diplomatick Official Note, extracted from the Journal of the Defenders of the Country.
• EXECUTIVE DIRECTORY. • Different Journals have advanced that an English Plenipotentiary had reached Paris, and had presented himself to the Executive Directory, but that his propositions not having appeared satisfactory, he had received orders instantly to quit France.
All these assertions are equally false.
The notices given, in the English Papers, of a Minister having been sent to Paris, there to treat of peace, bring to recollection the overtures of Mr. Wickham to the Ambassador of the Republick at Basle, and the rumours circulated relative to the mission of Mr. Hammond to the Court of Prussia. The insignificance, or rather the subtle duplicity, the PUNICK stile of Mr. Wickham's note, is not forgotten. According to the partizans of the English Ministry, it was to Paris that Mr. Hammond was to come to speak for peace : when his destination became publick, and it was known that he went to Prussia, the same writer repeated that it was to accelerate a peace, and notwithstanding the object, now well known, of this negociation, was to engage Prussia to break her treaties with the Republick, and to return into the coalition. The Court of Berlin, faithful to its engagements, repulsed these perfidious propositions. But in converting this intrigue into a mission for peace, the English Ministry joined to the hope of giving a new enemy to France, that of justifying the continuance of the war in the eyes of the English nation, and of throwing all the odium of it on the French Government. Such was also the aim of Mr. Wickham's note. Such is still that of the notices given at this time in the English papers.
• This aim will appear evident, if we reflect how difficult it is, that the ambitious Government of England should sincerely wish for a peace that would snatch from it it's maritime preponderancy, would re-establish the freedom of the seas, would give a new impulse to the Spanish, Dutch, and French marines, and would carry to the highest degree of prosperity the industry and commerce of those nations in which it has always found rivals, and which it has considered as enemies of it's commerce, when they were tired of being it's dupes.
But there will no longer be any credit given to the pacific intentions of the English Ministry, when it is known, that it's gold and it's intrigues, it's open practices, and it's insinuations, besiege more than ever the Cabinet of Vienna, and are one of the principal obstacles to the negotiation which that Cabinet would of itself be induced to enter on for peace.
• They will no longer be credited, finally, when the moment of the rumour of these overtures being circulated is considered. The English nation supports impatiently the continuance of the war, a reply must be made to it's complaints, it's reproaches: the Parliament is about to re-open it's sittings, the mouths of the orators who will declaim against the war must be shut, the demand of new taxes must be justified; and to obtain these results, it is necessary to be enabled to advance, that the French Government refuses every reasonable proposition of peace.'
curiosity: and in order to be better understood, in the few remarks I have to make upon a piece which indeed defies all description; None but itself can be it's parallel.'
I pass by all the insolence and contumely of the performance as it comes from them. The question is not now how we are to be affected with it in regard to our dignity. That is gone. I shall say no more about it. Light lie the earth on the ashes of English pride. I shall only observe upon it politically, and as furnishing a direction for our own conduct in this low business.
The very idea of a negociation for peace, whatever the inward sentiments of the parties may be, implies some confidence in their faith, some degree of belief in the professions which are made concerning it. A temporary and occasional credit, at least, is granted. Otherwise men stumble on the very threshold. I therefore wish to ask what hope we can have of their good faith, who, as the very basis of the negociation, assume the ill faith and treachery of those they have to deal with? The terms, as against us, must be such as imply a full security against a treacherous conductthat is, what this Directory stated in it's first declaration, to place us 'in an utter impossibility of executing our wretched projects. This is the omen, and the sole omen, under which we have consented to open our treaty.
The second observation I have to make upon it, (much connected undoubtedly with the first,) is, that they have informed you of the result they propose from the kind of peace they mean to grant you; that is to say, the union they propose among nations with the view of rivalling our trade and destroying our naval power: and this they suppose (and with good reason too) must be the inevitable effect of their peace. . It forms one of their principal grounds for suspecting our Ministers could not be in good earnest in their proposition. They make no scruple beforehand to tell you the whole of what they intend; and this is what we call, in the modern style, the acceptance of a proposition for peace ! In old language it would be called a most haughty, offensive, and insolent rejection of all treaty.
THIRDLY, they tell you what they conceive to be the perfidious policy which dictates your delusive offer; that is, the design of cheating not only them, but the people of England, against whose interest and inclination this war is supposed to be carried on.
If we proceed in this business, under this preliminary declaration, it seems to me that we admit, (now for the third time) by something a great deal stronger than words, the truth of the charges of every kind which they make upon
the British Ministry, and the grounds of those foul imputations. The language used by us, which in other circumstances would not be exceptionable, in this case tends very strongly to confirm and realize the suspicion of our enemy.
I mean the declaration, that if we do not obtain such terms of peace as suits our opinion of what our interests require, then, and in that case, we shall continue the war with vigour. This offer, so reasoned, plainly implies, that without it, our leaders themselves entertain great doubts of the opinion and good affections of the British people; otherwise there does not appear any cause, why we should proceed under the scandalous construction of our enemy, upon the former offer made by Mr. Wickham, and on the new offer made directly at Paris. It is not, therefore, from a sense of dignity, but from the danger of radicating that false sentiment in the breasts of the enemy, that I think, under the auspices of this declaration, we cannot, with the least hope of a good event, or, indeed, with any regard to the common safety, proceed
in the train of this negociation. I wish Ministry would seriously consider the importance of their seeming to confirm the enemy in an opinion, that his frequent appeals to the people against their Government have not been without their effect. If it puts an end to this war, it will render another impracticable.
Whoever goes to the directorial presence under this passport, with this offensive comment, and foul explanation, goes in the avowed sense of the Court to which he is sent; as the instrument of a Government dissociated from the interests and wishes of the Nation, for the purpose of cheating both the people of France and the people of England. He goes out the declared emissary of a faithless Ministry. He has perfidy for his credentials. He has national weakness for his full powers. I yet doubt whether any one can be found to invest himself with that character. If there should, it would be pleasant to read his instructions on the answer which he is to give to the Directory, in case they should repeat to him the substance of the Manifesto which he carries with him in his portfolio.
So much for the first Manifesto of the Regicide Court which went along with the passport. Lest this declaration should seem the effect of haste, or a mere sudden effusion of pride and insolence, on full deliberation about a week after comes out a second. In this manifesto, which is dated the fifth of October, one day before the speech from the Throne, on the vigil of the festive day of cordial unanimity so happily celebrated by all parties in the British Parliament, the Regicides, our worthy friends, (I call them by advance and by courtesy what by law I shall be obliged to call them hereafter) our worthy friends, I say, renew and enforce the former declaration concerning our faith and sincerity, which they pinned to our passport. On three other points which