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have been glad if the captains of ships of war had watched and intercepted Napoleon. We could not decide the difficulty, nor encounter the danger.” On the practicability of watching Elba, he should have been glad to have heard the observations of his hon. friend (Mr. Douglas) whose local knowledge would give weight to his opinion. Instead of that local information, his hon. friend had recourse to general reasoning, in which his superiority was not altogether so undisputed. He had indulged in some topics fit for more vulgar mouths, unworthy of his character, and beneath his rising talents. He had told the house, that apologies for Napoleon’s escape had originated here, and that from speeches made in parliament he had learnt to defend himself by urging the ininfraction of the convention of Fontainbleau on the other side, the design to remove him from Elba, the seizure of the property of his family in France, and the non-payment of his stipulated revenue by Louis XVIII. But he must appeal to his hon, friend's more accurate recollection, whether, in the societies where they met at Paris in December, they had not heard these things loudly stated before the facts were known to any gentleman in this house? He asked him, whether these charges were confined to the partizans of Napoleon, and whether, on the contrary, the conduct of the government was not deplored by its best friends, who considered these measures as acts, at least, of folly, which it was easy to represent as acts of injustice? But little had been said here on the subject of practicability, and, indeed, little could be said with effect, unless it could be absolutely demonstrated that no at
tempt could be made to watch the ports of Elba, which could in any degree diminish the chance of escape. Physical impossibility, absolute certainty of total failure, could be the only defence where even a
| little chance of a small diminution
was an object of great importance.
Would it be said that such vigilance was needless? Was it supposed that Napoleon could patiently bury all his projects and passions in a little island of the Tuscan sea? That he could renounce all the habits of his life, and relinquish for ever that fearful activity in which his stupendous faculties had been unceasingly exercised? Did any man expect that he, for whose boundlessambition the world seemed too narrow, should voluntarily submit to be cooped up in a rock; inverting the remark of the satirist on his great predecessor in conquest,
AEstuat infelix angusto limite mundi Ut Gyarae clausus scopulis, parvāque Seripho.
Did the state of France render precaution needless? Was the army so detached from Napoleon as to leave no fear of his throwing himself once more at the head of those whom he had so long led to victory? This apology no minister was at liberty to make who had made the convention of Fontainbleau, or who had assented to it, or who had acquiesced in it. That convention was evidently either a measure of magnanimous madness, or of necessary policy. The noble lord had employed the utmost labour to defend himself and his illustrious co-plenipotentiaries from the charge of magnanimity. The noble lord might have trusted to character against such a charge, and his defence on that head was perfectly unanswerable. But why? Because he considered the convention of Fontainbleau to have been produced by political necessity—by the temper of the French nation—and, above all, by the formidable army still devoted to their renowned commander. The gentlemen on the other side had mistaken the point of view in which his hon. and learned friend (Mr. Abercrombie) had considered the convention of Fontainbleau. It was not for the direct discussion of its merits that he had introduced it; it was for the inference which it afforded affecting this question. This inference was inevitable. If that cogent expediency, commonly called necessity, justified such a convention, it must follow that the state of France was in the highest degree dangerous, and was known to be so by those who assented to the convention. In that case the utmost vigilance was obviously necessary to prevent the return of Napoleon to a country full of such inflammable materials. His hon, friend had reduced ministers to a dilemma from which they could not escape. Either the treaty was voluntary, or it was necessary. If it was voluntary, the allies had created the danger. If it was necessary, they had neglected the greatest of all duties in not providing against so great a danger. They had vindicated themselves from voluntarily consenting to conditions pregnant with peril. But by that vindication they had still more imposed upon themselves the duty of vigilance, and established, beyond the possibility of contradiction, their guilt on this charge. It was said indeed, incidentally, that we were no parties to the original conditions granted to Napoleon, that the noble lord found them in substance concluded be
fore his arrival at Paris. Of this defence the noble lord could not avail himself; not only because he then acceded to the convention, but because he now defended it. And if he had, what sort of defence was it? It was an attempt to escape participation in guilt, by a confession of insignificance.— Though the noble lord was not at Paris, yet.'there were two or three British ministers in that city of the highest rank. One of them was ambassador to the emperor of Russia, the supposed author of the convention.—What are we to believe? That the sovereigns determined on such a measure without communicating their decision to these British ministers? What a national degradation! Was it thus that the policy of ministers had thrown away the renown earned by the army? At the moment that the British army, under their immortal leader, had traced their long line of glory from Torres Vedras, was it possible that the sovereigns of Europe had determined on the only important condition of the treaty without even the formality of communication to the English minister? If this would not be admitted, what was the other branch of the alternative? Were the two noble lords (Aberdeen and Cathcart) left unprovided with instructions respecting the disposal of Napoleon? Had they no discretionary power of expostulating, of remonstrating, of intreating time till they should consult the noble secretary? If they were thus destitute of powers and of instructions, did this arise from the incapacity of ministers to foresee the possibility of a case where such powers and instructions might be rendered most necessary, from the sudden occurrence of events which required immediate deci
sion during a temporary interruption of intercourse with the noble secretary? Was the fortune of war so certain as to make the want of such foresight pardonable? Or was the danger voluntarily incurred, for the sake of exalting the importance of the noble secretary at the expense of his colleagues, and of the public interest? In looking at every side of this part of the transaction, he professed that he could not discover any honourable explanation of it. But the most serious question undoubtedly remained! Napoleon was an independent prince. It would be an insult to his dignity to watch his movements. It would be a violation of his independence to restrain them. They who had starved Norway into subjection— they who sanctioned the annihilation of Poland, and the subjugation of Venice—they whose hands were scarcely withdrawn from the instrument which transferred Genoa to a hated master—were suddenly seized with the most profound rewerence for the independent sovereign of Elba, and shrunk with horror from the idea of saving the peace of Europe by preventing the departure of Napoleon Bonaparte from Porto Ferrajo! He must believe that if the danger had been discussed at the congress of Vienna, and if any paradoxical minister had made any scruples about the independence of Elba, his scruples would have been received with a general laugh. Count Nesselrode could quote the precedent of Stanislaus at Moscow. Prince Talleyrand would have been ready with that of Ferdinand at Valencay. The congress would scarcely have avowed that all their respect for independence was monopolised by Napoleon. Most assuredly Napoleon was Vol. I,
a sovereign prince. The faith of Europe was irrevocably pledged to him, and could not be questioned without dishonour. He was a sovereign for dignity; he was a sovereign for security: he was a sovereign in the theory of international law, and was entitled to all the immunities as well as honour of the sovereign character. But he was not a sovereign for the practical purpose of taking a part in the system of Europe. It was true, though it might seem quaint to say, that he was a legal, but not a political sovereign. The state of the world had, in effect, reduced the right of war in all small states to little more than an honorary distinction. He was a sovereign by the convention of Fontainbleau; and he could not carry his sovereign rights to the destruction of that compact from which his sovereignty was derived. The abdication of Napoleon, his perpetual renunciation of the crown of France, were so perfectly the essence of the treaty of Paris, that it is now universally acknowledged to be dissolved by their violation. But such conditions would have been nugatory if they had not implied the right of the parties interested to watch over their observance. Every legal right carries with it the legality of the means necessary to secure its exercise. When the demolition of the works at Dunkirk was stipulated by the treaty of Utrecht, it was a violation of the independence of France to stipulate that English commissaries should reside at Dunkirk to watch over the observance of that stipulation. It might be resented by France as a curb on her ambition, as a wound to her pride, as an affront to her dignity; but it continued in force for four-score years, without ever been called an invasion of her independence. Every precaution manifestly necessary to security, must be perfectly inoffensive to any prince against whom it is taken. The state of France was a permanent ground of apprehension; and as any nation in Europe has a right to ask an explanation of the ground of unusual armaments, and to require that they shall not seem to threaten the general tranquillity, so every power which had directly or indirectly participated in the convention of Fontainbleau, had a most indisputable right to require that Napoleon should consent to every precaution clearly necessary to the quiet of France, and consequently of Europe. His resistance would have converted apprehension into proof. It would have been a demonstration of his hostile designs, and a just ground of preventive war against him. He desired not to be misunderstood. He justified no discourtesy, no insult, no wanton inquisition, no attack under the false pretence of danger. God forbid! He justified only the vigilance and precaution necessary to prevent the sovereign authority of Elba, granted by the convention of Fontainbleau, from being turned into the means of remounting the throne of France, the renunciation of which was the grand, the essential, and almost the sole condition of the compact. These precautions were to be adopted with all the personal respect due to the faith of Europe, due also to the genius and renown of the individual, due to the dignity of the great nation whom he had governed, and due from the sovereigns of the continent to their own character, after the intimate connexion which they had formed with him. Hs, in the course of an ordinary war with France, our first infor
mation of a French fleet having sailed from Toulon, were to be that it had effected the capture of Jamaica, a cry of just indignation would infallibly drive a supine admiralty from their seats. It would be vain for them to say, that they had no information of the design. They would be truly told, that the want of information was their crime, not their justification. They would be told, that it was their duty to have information of the first preparations of such an armament, that it was the duty of the government to demand an expla. nation of their object, and that if no explanation, or no satisfactory explanation was given, it was their duty to send a squadron into the Mediterranean, and watch the movements of the French squadron, with such instructions as the circumstances of the case might justify, and the safety of the West Indies might demand. Could they make any defence on such a charge? But it differed from the present in no respect, but in the unspeakable inferiority of any colony, however valuable and respectable, to the general tranquillity and safety of the civilized world. What, then, was wanting to the completeness of this case? The ministers had avowed the fact of non-vigilance. They had not proved the impossibility of taking some precautions against the danger. It was demonstrated that such precautions were necessary, and that their necessity was obvious at the time. It was demonstrated also that such precautions were perfectly lawful. To all this no direct answer was in truth attempted. But it was said, that the whole was retrospective wisdom; that we were wise after the event, and that we as little foresaw it as the ministers. To this
retort, substituted for a defence, he should very shortly reply:— That the danger was seen and spoken of throughout Europe; that it was scarcely possible to enter a society where it was not discussed, and that it had been mentioned in almost every newspaper for months. What would have been thought of those on this side of the house, if they had made such a matter the subject of parliamentary discussion? They would have been told, that they showed an unwarrantable distrust of the common sense of ministers; that they dragged into light secrets of state, which were of a most delicate nature. They would have been told, as they were told on other occasions, with less speciousness, that this was not the affair of England, but of the sovereigns of Europe assembled at Vienna, where negotiations to remedy the defects, or to enforce the observance of the convention of Fontainbleau, might be altogether defeated by the premature and tumultuary debates of a popular assembly. Could they have discussed the question without noticing the breaches of treaty to Napoleon, and would they not, in that case, justly have incurred the imputation of stimulating him to escape? On the other hand, might they not have been justly charged with stimulating the congress of Vienna to acts of violence and perfidy towards him? Did not this seem much the more probable evil? Could any man have believed that the same congress which sacrificed all the nations of Europe to their ambition, should have shrunk from the exercise of their most legitimaterights against their only formidable enemy? In truth, it was the opinion of the greatest statesmen whom he had the good fortune of knowing,
that, notwithstanding the apparent negligence, or rather, as a natural inference from appearances otherwise so unaccountable, there must be some secret articles in the convention of Fontainbleau, which secured the world against the seeming improvidence of its public stipulations, the means of enforcing which were in the hands of the allies, and justified that security, without some such supposition incomprehensible, in which they appeared to be lulled. It was natural enough to believe that such conditions had been kept secret out of courtesy to Napoleon, or tenderness to the feelings of those great princes with whom he was connected. On the other side, credit was given to Napoleon for a moderation which would have been a miracle in Marcus Aurelius. On this side it was only believed that the English ministers would exercise common sense. And now they were told, that by this excess of confidence, they had forfeited their right of accusation. A robbery had been committed. The watchmen were asleep. The poor householders naturally complained of the negligence of their watchmen. The watchmen rather impudently answered, that the householders were asleep as well as they. The reply was final and fatal. The householders slept in persect security, because they trusted in their watchmen being awake.
Lord GRENv1 LI.E’s Sheech on the .Affairs of France, fronounced May 23, 1815. Lord Grenville said, he considered the present ruler of France as the common enemy of Europe, and had no doubt that if he had been placed in the situation the