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CAUSES AND OBJECTS OF THE WAR-SECESSIONS FROM THE OPPOSITION—
REVERSES IN HOLLAND-DISASTERS OF THE ALLIES-STATE OF FRANCE AT THE CLOSE OF THE YEAR.
The policy of England in reference to the proceedings in France had hitherto been that of a conservative neutrality. The letter of Lord Grenville to the Marquis of Buckingham, dated 7th November, 1792, to which attention has been specially directed, clearly and unequivocally establishes that fact. Had the motive commonly imputed to Ministers, of having entered into the war for the vindication of the monarchical principle and the restoration of the Bourbons, been really the actuating object, it would have appeared in these confidential communications. Not only, however, is there no such motive avowed or contemplated, but, on the contrary, Lord Grenville declares that the greatest source of pride and satisfaction he finds on reviewing the line of conduct he had acted upon throughout that reign of anarchy, is in the reflection that he had kept
England out of it. Up to the last moment, so long as France confined her public acts and the dissemination of her new doctrines to her own territory, the English Government remained merely a spectator of events in which she took no part, and evinced no concern. The case was altered when France invaded Holland, and passed a decree fraternizing with the people of other countries, and offering them assistance to procure their liberties. These were the measures of oppression and aggrandizement referred to by Lord Grenville in his communications with the French Envoy; and upon these grounds, and these grounds alone, England accepted and prosecuted the war.
Immediately after the declaration of hostilities by the Convention, the King sent a message to Parliament explicitly declaring the causes of the war, which were, the occupation by the French of the Scheldt, the exclusive navigation of which had been guaranteed by treaty to the Dutch; the fraternizing decree which invited the people of other countries to revolutionize their Governments; and the danger with which Europe was threatened by the progress of the French arms. In one aspect this was a war of principles; in another, it was a war of self-defence. In both, it was just and inevitable. Even the Opposition admitted the validity of the grounds on which it proceeded, although they could not resist the temptation of assailing the Minister, while they adopted his measures. The resolutions founded on the message were carried with scarcely a shadow of objection in either House of Parliament. The people of all classes were wholly with Mr. Pitt. Amongst the last to be convinced was Mr. Wilberforce, who had a moral aversion to all wars, but who ultimately expressed himself converted to the necessity of war on this occasion.
The effect of the message from the King was remarkable. Numbers of the most influential men, who had previously voted with the Opposition, passed over to the Ministerial benches, including Burke and Wyndham, and the Lords Portland, Spencer, Fitzwilliam, Loughborough, and many other peers and commoners. Lord Loughborough, who had so often run in couples with Thurlow, was now appointed to succeed him on the Woolsack; and Ministers, acquiring augmented strength from all quarters, addressed themselves vigorously to the task of preparation.
The letters of this year are scanty, but not unimportant, in their references to passing events. Taken in connection with the history of the period, which is too familiar to require any further elucidation, they will be found to throw a new light upon some points of contemporary interest.
LORD GRENVILLE TO THE MARQUIS OF BUCKINGHAM.
Whitehall, Jan. 19th, 1793. MY DEAREST BROTHER,
It is at length settled that Lord Loughborough shall take the Seals on Wednesday. He has written a long letter to the Duke of Portland, which has not been answered. It is as yet very difficult to say what proportion of the ci-devant Opposition will follow Lord Loughborough's example, and join Government avowedly, but I am inclined to hope a pretty large one. The Prince of Wales has also written to the Duke of Portland, and sent a message to us, declaring his intention to join Government. I have not seen the letter, but my informant, to whom
it was shown yesterday morning by the Duke of York, told me it was proper and explicit.
424 against the referring the judgment to the Assemblées Primaires, 283 for it.
The first question, of guilty, decided almost unanimously; the third, that punishment should be inflicted, was deferred to the 10th.
Brissot's report, which you will see in the French papers, seems well enough calculated for our purpose. The thing must now come to its point in a few days; and we shall, I trust, have appeared to the public here to have put the French completely dans leur tort. Ever most affectionately yours,
LORD GRENVILLE TO THE MARQUIS OF BUCKINGHAM.
Whitehall, June 12th, 1793. MY DEAREST BROTHER,
In consequence of what you requested in the conversation we had at Dropmore, I write to mention to you that the vacant Ribands are to-day to be given to Lord Salisbury, Lord Westmoreland, and Lord Carlisle. I did not learn this yesterday till it was too late to write to you. With respect to what you mentioned to me of your own intentions, you know too well what my opinion is, and how anxiously I am impressed with that opinion, to make me feel it right to urge you with what could only be a repetition of all I have already stated. But I wish to make it my earnest request to you that you will not take any actual step till you have seen Pitt. I have not told him anything of your idea of taking any measure on this occasion but I have stated to him in general terms the uneasiness you still seemed to feel on the subject of the former request, and the possibility that this impression might be strengthened, supposing Lord Camden's death to produce that sort of arrangement to which you had so handsomely consented, but which might, nevertheless, bring the other idea more forward in your mind.
His plan was (if he had not been hindered by the gout) to have run down to Somersetshire for a week, at the close of the business in the House of Commons, and to have been back before he could almost be known to be gone. He had then intended to take Winchester in his way. I have not seen him for several days, and cannot therefore say whether this idea still holds, but at all events there could be no difficulty in your coming to town for a day or two for that purpose.
I urge this because I know you may fully rely upon his friendship, and that even if he should not be able to alter the thing itself, which I am sure I know not how he can, it is still, in my opinion, very desirable that you should not take so marked a step without hearing the advice of those who love you best, supposing even that after all you should not be influenced by their reasoning upon it.
I say nothing about myself in all this, because I am sure you believe me truly sensible of your constant and unvaried affection to me, and unwilling to intrude upon you repetitions which I must fear would be useless. But you will not attribute it to indifference or unconcern about the thing itself, which, God knows, are sentiments the reverse of what I feel upon it.
We have no news of any material event at the army. The siege was to be opened on Monday, and they seem to entertain very sanguine ideas indeed as to its speedy success. I have some doubt whether the report from Paris, respecting Marat's new revolution, is to be credited, though all the late accounts from thence seemed to indicate an approaching crisis. I have a confused account from the Hague, of the Duke of Brunswick having gained a decisive advantage over the ariny that was Custine's. But it is not distinct enough to place much reliance upon it.