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The Editor returns his sincere thanks to those friends, who have obliged him by their communications, and he will at all times be happy to receive the favours of those who have promised him similar assistance.
Three. Volumes of the PoliTICAL Review are now contpleted; and it is hoped they will not be deemed unworthy of a place in the libraries of those who may wish to refer to a work, containing a faithful record of the important events which distinguish the present period, a standing protest against the vices of the times, and a firm defence of those principles which have characterised the GREAT and the good in all ages.
Harlow, June 29, 1808.
P. S. As several numbers of the present Volume are nearly out of print, those persons who may wish to complete their sets, are requested to give the requisite orders to their respective booksellers.
FREEDOM of discussion of the acts of government on all occa
sions, is one of the most sacred and unalienable rights of Britons ; and however severe may be the language of reprobation when applied to the conduct. of ministers, the maxims of the British constitution prevent its application to the Sovereign in the constitutional exercise of his authority. We are confirmed in the correctness of this statement, by the late Declaration against Russia, in which our ministers, in an appeal to every civilised state, cast a censure on their predecessors for acts which were expressly committed in his Majesty's name. Whatever may be the follies or crimes of the present cabinet, it is to their credit that they have not discovered any inclination to deprive us of the freedom of the press, and that they have avoided following the worst part of the conduct of their great master in other respects, WILLIAM Pitt ; the major part of whose administration was one continued attack on the rights of his countrymen, and whose system of persecution against the assertors of the privileges of Britons, will ever render his name and his memory odious to every genuine friend of the British constitution.
There is an additional reason to justify freedom of discussion respecting the Speech which has been recently delivered by the Lords Cominissioners ; a copy of which will be found in our following pages. Lord GRENVILLE in his observations on the address expressed it as his decided opinion, “ that some of the “ sentiments contained in the speech are not those of his Ma
jesty." Holding with his lordship, the sentiments alluded to in the utmost abhorrence, we earnestly hope that his opinion will prove to be correct.
The principal points in the speech to which we have to request the attention of our countrymen are the following-The Danish expedition. The offers of mediation from Russia and Austria The sentiments of ministers respecting the nature of the war, and the state of the country.
THE DANISH EXPEDITION.
We hope our readers will excuse us for recalling to their minds the sentiments we early and uniformly expressed on this subject. After reading the accounts of the commanders off Copenhagen, and the British declaration which professed to be “ a fravk exposition" of the notives of ininisters, we had not on our minds the shadow of à doubt, that the measure was contrary to the maxims of sound policy, and to the plainest principles of justice and morality, held by every honest man in private life, and professed by all civilised states, ancient and modern, heathen and christian. Although we wanted no farther evidence to convince us of the justness of our sentiments, and the propriety of our language when reprobating this act of national atrocity, yet the speech of the lords commissioners, the address, together with a document inserted in our following pages,* afford to an honest and impartial mind evidence, amounting almost to demonstration, of the inexcusable folly and criminality of ministers!
In the proclamation first addressed to the inhabitants of Copenhagen, the British Admiral assigned no other reason for the hostile expedition than '" that the increased influence of France rendered “ it impossible for Denmark, though it desired to be neutral, * to maintain its neutrality." Not a syllable is mentioned, not the slightest hint given that France had entered into any engagements to compel Denmark to depart from her neutrality; and as to any hostile design on the part of Denmark, it was not even pretended. Ministers however, sensible that so miserable an apology for their violent proceedings would not satisfy any man of common sense or common honesty, in a few days after the bloody business was accomplished, issued their “ frank exposition," in which they for the first time asserted—" That his Majesty had received, the most “ positive information of the determination of France to seize the “ territory of Holstein, and to compel Denmark to surrender her “ marine for the purpose of aiding France in the invasion of Great “ Britain and Ireland.” Although, as we observed to our readers, had this been the fact it would not have justified the violence committed, as other methods might have been easily pursued to prevent the seizure of the Danish feet by France; yet if ministers had been in possession of such " positive information,” their publishing it to the world might have taken off something from the blackness of the deed ; but from this circumstance not having been mentioned by our commanders, as a justification of their conduct, there was reason to conclude that ministers were destitute of such « positive
information," and that they had added FA'LSEHOOD to INJUSTICE. In their declaration against Russia, the ".secret articles of the "treaty of Tilsit," are urged in defence of their conduct, and they
assure us that the Danish expedition, was resolved on in conse
quence of the arrangement then agreed on between Russia and “ France." To this new ground of justification the most positive contradiction has been given, by the parties coucerned. The Crown Prince of Denmark had before in the most explicit terms contradicted the assertion of our ministers as to the designs of France; and now France herself in language equally explicit, deelares “ that there were no secret articles, in the treaty of Tilsit “ which had any relation to Britain ;” and triumphantly demands
Why does not the cabinet of London make known those secret
engagements which are contrary to the interests of England if it “ be acquainted with them ?--Why if secret stipulations had been " made at Tilsit, to the disadvantage of England, did the cabinet “ of London have recourse to the niediation of Russia in order to “ to copciliate those differences with Denmark ?"* All Europe, yea, every civilized state under heaven, have anxiously waited for an answer to these questions. The different answers given by our ministers in the senate of the nation, however they may excite astonishinent in others, were such as we had prepared our readers to expect. In their answer to the Russian declaration they declared, “ they were not unaware of those secret engagements which had -“ been imposed upon Russia in the conferences at Tilsit ;" in another paragraph of the same declaration they acknowledge that they had only cause for suspicion, and that “ they deemed it necessary " to require explanations with respect to those arrangements with
France, the concealment of which could not but contirm the “ impression already received of their character and tendency." What we then conjectured proves to be the fact :t-Ministers are to this day ignorant of these articles. Mr. CANNING acknowledged"
" that ministers are not in possession of any one secret " article of the treaty of Tilsit, but that the substance of such “ secret articles had been communicated.” Lord MulGRAVE confessed," that neither at the time of rejecting the Russian media" tion, nor at this moment, lad government any copy of the “ secret articles of the treaty: they were in possession of some “ secret projects, but they could only assert, not adduce proof “ of their nature,” Lord HAWKESBURY informed the house, " that although ministers could not state their authority, nor lay “ their information on the table, they learned that there were secret
engagements at the treaty of Tilsit, and that the view of the “ parties was to confederate all the powers of Europe, and parti" cularly to engage, or seize on the fleets of Denmark and Portugal " to annoy this country.” Mr. PERCIVAL stated “ that he never * See the forcible remarks on this subject, Pol. Reg. p. 17.
† Pok Rev. Vol. II. p. xci.
" had alleged that ministers were in possession of the secret articles " of the treaty of Tilsit ; they were in possession only of the “ general substance, and not the precise terms. He should rest “ his defence on this test—Whether it was not the design of Bona: “ parte to direct the force of a maritime confederacy against this
country, and to make the naval force of Denmark more imme“ diately instrumental in effecting that great object." From hence it is evident that all the boasted information of ministers, and on which they rest their justification consists of-Reports of the designs, or of the projects, or of the engagements, or of the substance of such designs, projects, or engagements, of the framers of the secret articles of the treaty of Tilsit! The Crown Prince of Denmark appears to have had accurate ideas of the conduct of our ministers when he declared—“ Europe will with ditficulty believe what it will “ hear! The basest, tbe most violent, and cruel object which could “ have been designed, has no other foundation than soine pretended “ information, or rather that of a mere rumour of an attempt, wbich “according to the English ministry, was to have taken place in or“ der to draw Denmark into an hostile alliance against Great Bri
The various channels through wbich ministers pretend to have de, rived their information, are not unworthy of notice. Lord HAWKESBURY informed the house—“ That they heard this from their pub“ lic ministers abroad ; they beard it from Portugal: but they also “ received information of the hostile intentions of Denmark from a
quarter, to which they had often been indebted for the first know“ ledge of the designs of Bonaparte, from or rather through the “ disaffected in Ireland.” Is it possible for a man who has any claims to rationality to pay attention to such pretences! It is not even intimated that the French Emperor had any design of seizing the Danish fleet, for the purpose mentioned till the ensuing spring; and yet a man of his consummate wisdoin, whose plans are scarcely ever known till they are on the point of execution, communicates those which require the greatest secrecy, before the least preparations are made to mature them, nine months before hand; and so carelessly, that ministers at distant courts, and the “ disaffected in “ Ireland” are well acquainted with thein!!! Lord HAWKESBURY, however, may be certain at all times of obtaining information the most convenient for the purposes of ministers, on application to his favourite informers-Irish traitors! Such are the honourable allies of the British cabinet, who “ dever deceive” ministers; which it must be confessed is more than can be said of some of their royal allies. It is a pity that the people of Great Britain cannot have their
* Pol. Rey. Vol. II. p. 212.