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FrRevol_301-350.indd 46 3/16/12 1:08 PM CHAPTER XIV Tltzr Between France and England. Mr. Pitt and Mr. Fox. During many centuries the rivalries between France and England have been the source of misery to those two countries. It used to be a contest for power; but the struggle caused by the Revolution cannot be considered under the same aspect. If there have been, in the course of twenty-three years,' circumstances in which England might have treated with France, it must also be allowed that during that time she has had strong reasons for making war upon her rival, and more frequently still, for defending herself against attack. The first rupture, which broke out in 1793, proceeded from motives the most just. Ifthe Convention, while guilty ofthe murder of Louis XVI, had not professed and propagated principles subversive of all governments, if it had not attacked Belgium and Holland, the English might have taken no more concern in the death ofLouis XVI than Louis XIV did in that of Charles I. But at the moment when the government dismissed the Ambassador of France, the English nation wished for war still more eagerly than its government.2 I think I have sufficiently shown, in the preceding chapters, that in 1791, during the continuance of the Constituent Assembly, and even in 1792, under the Legislative Assembly, foreign powers ought not to have acceded to the Convention of Pilnitz. If, then, English diplomacy had any share 1. Since ' 793· This part of the book was written in 1816. 2. After the battle of Valmy (September 20, 1792), the French armies advanced beyond the borders of France. Dumouriez occupied Belgium and gained possession of Anvers's strategic location. The war between France and England began on February 1, ' 793· Economic reasons played an important role, as the French occupation ofAnvers threatened the commerce of the English in the North Sea. FrRevol_301-350.indd 47 3/16/12 1:08 PM cHAPTER xI v. War Between France and England in that great political act, it interfered too soon in the affairs of France, and Europe found itself in a bad situation because of it, since immense military forces were thus acquired by the French. But at the moment when England formally declared war against France, in 1793, the Jacobins were in complete possession of the supreme power; and not only their invasion of Holland, but their crimes and the principles which they proclaimed, made it a duty to break off all communication with them. The perseverance of England at this epoch preserved her from the troubles which threatened her internal tranquillity at the time of the mutiny of the fleet, and of the fermentation of the popular societies/ and likewise supported the hopes of the well-meaning, by showing them a spot upon the earth where morality and liberty were united to great power. Had the English nation been seen sending ambassadors to assassins, the true strength of that wonderful island would have abandoned her; the confidence which she inspires would have been lost. It does not follow from these views that the Opposition, who wished for peace, and Mr. Fox,4 who by his astonishing talents represented a party in his own person, were not actuated by the most honorable sentiments. Mr. Fox complained, and with reason, that the friends of liberty were incessantly confounded with those who polluted it; and he feared lest the reaction ofso unfortunate an attempt should weaken the spirit offreedom which is the vital principle of England. In fact, if the Reformation had failed three centuries ago, what would have become of Europe? And in what state would Europe now be, ifFrance were to be deprived ofall that she has gained by her political reform? Mr. Pitt5 at this epoch rendered great services to England by holding with a firm hand the helm ofaffairs. But notwithstanding the perfect simplicity of his tastes and habits, he leaned too much to the love of power; 3· T he mutiny of the fleet occurred from April I) to June 30, 1797. Revolutionary societies also began to appear in England in 1789, and they were regarded with skepticism by Whigs (like Burke) and Tories alike. According to Burke, there were some forty thousand Jacobin sympathizers in England in 1793· 4· Fox was opposed to the war with France. ). William Pitt (1759- r8o6), famous Tory leader and opponent of the French Revolution , served as prime minister from 1783 to 18oo...


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