The Influence of Grenville on Pitt's Foreign Policy, 1787-1798

By Ephraim Douglass Adams | Go to book overview

outset of the Revolutionary wars, the influence of Grenville had proved all-important in saving the administration from a compromising declaration.*


THE PRUSSIAN WITHDRAWAL FROM THE WAR.

OCTOBER, 1793, TO SEPTEMBER, 1794.

At the very moment when England was outlining a plan of treatment for a conquered France, she was confronted with the danger of desertion by one of her allies, for Prussia, distracted by troubles in Poland, was threatening to withdraw her troops, urging as her excuse a bankrupt treasury. Shortly after the declaration of war by France Yarmouth had been sent to the continent with the purpose of deciding upon some common ground of action with Prussia and Austria, and on July 14, 1793, he had signed a treaty with Prussia at Mayence, pledging both countries to continue in arms against France. A similar agreement with Austria was signed in London, August 30, though the latter contained in addition a mutual guaranty of territory as against France.§ These treaties amounted to no more than pledges of good faith, and neither contained any exact specifications of the

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*
Fox led the attack upon what he termed Pitt's monarchical policy. "If we look at the declaration to the people of France, the first idea presented by it, although afterwards somewhat modified, but again confirmed by the declaration of Toulon, is that the restoration to monarchy must be the preliminary to peace." Parl. Hist., XXX, 1260, Jan. 21, 1794. The arguments of the opposition on this point do not bear the stamp of sincerity. They were put forward more to embarrass the government than for any other purpose, for it was impossible for Pitt to deny that the restoration of monarchy was at least an object hoped for. To have done so would have disgruntled the allies and have lessened the chances of a royalist rising in France. In the first debates in the Lords, therefore, Grenville wholly evaded the subject, while Pitt in the Commons pursued a like policy until pinned down by a direct question from Fox. Later, as the hopes of monarchy dwindled, both Pitt and Grenville exalted the wisdom of the ministry in not having pledged England to an impossible policy.
§
Ibid., 19; Sorel, III, 460.
Yarmouth went to Prussia in July, 1793. He thought Prussia could easily be brought to more active participation in the war by promising (1) that no idea of a Bavarian exchange would be brought forward at the conclusion of the war; (2) that England would "knot endeavour to interrupt the King of Prussia in the enjoyment of his new Polish acquisitions"--i. e., a negative guaranty of the partition of 1792. Beauchamp to Pitt, June 24, 1793. Dropmore, II, 399.
Koch, IV, 236; Debrett, I, 18.
Bourgoing, III, 161, makes an entirely erroneous statement of the London convention of August 30, 1793. He says that secret articles provided that "l'Autriche reçevait comme compensation de ses sacrifices pendant la guerre, une indemnité territoriale aux depens de la France, à savoir, la Lorraine, l'Alsace, la Flandre; elle renonçait à toute prétention sur la Bavière, et l'Angleterre en échange lui garantissait la possessione des provinces belges." The Dropmore letters disprove this and in fact show that while exact stipulations were under discussion they were all postponed because of the difficulty of reaching an agreement upon Dutch demands for indemnities. See also Morton Eden to Auckland, Nov. 16, 1793, Auckland, III, 144, and Auckland to Van der Spiegel, Jan. 24, 1794, ibid., 173.

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