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pressing no pledge. The opposition was thus divided against itself; and Mr. Whitbread's amendment was rejected on a division of 220 to 37. The address, if not a pledge, was a gentle step towards war. A further indication was given by a bill for the continuance of the income tax. On the 22d of May, the approach of war was proclaimed by the following message from the throne :
“ The prince regent, acting in the name and on the behalf of his majesty, thinks it right to inform the house of commons that, in consequence of the events which have occurred in France, in direct contravention of the treaties concluded at Paris, in the course of last year, his royal highness has judged it
necessary to enter into engagements with his majesty's allies, for the purpose of forming such cert as present circumstances indispensably require, and as may prevent the revival of a system which experience has proved to be incompatible with the peace and independence of the nations of Europe.
“ The prince regent has directed copies of the treaties which have been concluded to be laid before the house of commons; and he confidently relies on the support of this house in all measures which it may be necessary for him to adopt, in conjunction with his majesty's allies, against the common enemy at this important crisis."
This message was debated on the 23d in the house of lords, on the 25th in the house of commons ; and war ad internecionem against Napoleon approved, by majorities of 156 to 44 in the former, and 331 to 92 in the latter.
The palm of eloquence on this great occasion
was borne by two speakers, now opposed to each other for the first time, -- Mr. Grattan and lord Grey. The speech of Mr. Grattan was gratuitous, antithetical, and passionate*; that of lord Grey logical, deliberative, and wise. Fortune and the event decided in favour of the rhetorician, with a capricious disregard of the informed and informing spirit of the statesman. Lord Grenville, with more consistency than Mr. Grattan, also supported the warlike policy of the administration, and loosened, from that moment, his party connection with lord Grey.
Among the papers communicated with the royal message, were copies of treaties concluded at Vienna on the 25th of March, with the sovereigns of Russia, Prussia, and Austria ; a letter from M. Caulincourt, duke of Vicenza, conveying pacific overtures on the part of Napoleon; and a correspondence on the subject between lord Castlereagh and lord Clancarty.
* It may be collected, from the general tenour and some particular passages of this speech, that Mr. Grattan's views were disturbed, and his imagination fired, by the dominant vanity of making against Napoleon a rival oration to one of the most celebrated of Demosthenes against Philip. His speech, however, only proves the caducity of his faculties, and growing depravation of his taste. The following may be cited as an example of jingling antithesis and perverted fact: — “ The government of France is war. It is a stratocracy; elective, aggressive, and predatory. Her armies live to fight, and fight to live. He (Napoleon) reviewed the troops, and nothing could equal the shouts of the army, — except the silence of the people. It was a case in which the army deposed the civil government. It was the march of a military chief over a conquered people,” &c.
These documents were taken into consideration by the house of commons on the 26th of May. Lord Castlereagh stated the stipulations of the treaties. The first was an English subsidy, not only to the king of Prussia, an habitual military hireling, but to the haughty emperors of Austria and Russia. It was stated by lord Castlereagh, that his majesty's allies would bring into the field, against the common enemy, not the strict contingents of 150,000 men each, as stipulated by the treaty, but 300,000 Austrians, 225,000 Russians, and 236,000 Prussians. England, he said, had the beneficial option of furnishing an equivalent in money for two thirds of her contingent, at the rate of 201. each soldier for the infantry, and 301. for the cavalry; the whole amounting to two millions and a half, to be partitioned as a subsidy among the minor powers, whose contingents of 150,000 for the states of Germany, and 50,000 for Holland, would, with the 50,000 British, constitute an overwhelming force of one million, eleven thousand soldiers.
An armed confederacy bringing into the field a million of men, and this vast movement directed professedly against one individual, is a case without parallel. The allies declared themselves at war with Napoleon Bonaparte, and with him alone. Elected, they said, by the French army, he was repudiated by the French people. Upon this theme the British ministers dilated, and Mr. Grattan rang the changes of alliteration and epigram.
Mr. Grattan's confidence was overweening, and the fortune of Napoleon far from desperate. In the first place, the main armies of the allies, when Napoleon re-appeared in France, were remote, incomplete, and disorganised. The Russians were beyond the Niemen; the Prussians beyond the Elbe; the Austrians in Italy or on the Danube; the British for the most part recalled to England, or sent to conclude discreditably a disastrous war in America; and the Rhine occupied only by a weak and scattered force, incapable, not merely of attack, but of resistance. Secondly, the French people, far from repudiating, hailed Napoleon with enthusiasm, and identified themselves with his cause. This point was disposed of by a simple fact, referred to in
the speech of lord Grey :-“ Bonaparte," said he, “ has invaded France with 600 men; he has tịaversed that great kingdom from Antibes to Paris, in advance of his troops, escorted by the people, who thronged his path ; and, in the full assurance of his popularity, he has just put arms into the hands of the whole male population, between the ages of twenty and sixty.”
Napoleon, then, had the advantages of delay, distance, and surprise between him and the enemy, and he had at his disposal the military resources of a generous, powerful, and martial people.
It was the general opinion, when astonishment subsided, and men began to think, that he would halt at Paris merely to recover breath and readjust his crown; then move with his usual rapidity upon the northern frontier, rally the Belgian troops and people under his standard, and signalise the commencement of hostilities by crushing the inefficient miscellany of various nations which constituted the allied force cantoned on the Rhine. *
Napoleon deliberated on the very night of his arrival at the Tuileries, whether he should not adopt this course. The hopes of peace entertained by him, and by the French nation; the fear of being supposed to cherish still his views of war and con
* Sir Henry Hardinge, writing from Brussels, on the 27th of March, says : -“ We are not well prepared, either in the number or quality of the troops ;” and, after mentioning in detail their motley composition and want of discipline, he adds, “ the army is not unlike Lord Rancliffe's description of a French pack of hounds, pointers, poodles, turnspits, all mixed up together, and running in sad confusion.”