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LETTER XI.: TO THE EDITOR OF THE SCOTS CHRONICLE. - John Millar, Letters of Crito, on the Causes, Objects, and Consequences, of the Present War 
Letters of Crito, on the Causes, Objects, and Consequences, of the Present War, Second Edition (Edinburgh:the Office of the Scots Chronicle, 1796).
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TO THE EDITOR OF THE SCOTS CHRONICLE.
August 9. 1796.
After giving such reasons as were judged expedient for entering into the war, it was further necessary to inform the public of the precise object for which it was undertaken. The former was requisite, that we might receive some satisfaction concerning the propriety of the measure; the latter, that we might have an idea of the magnitude and duration of the enterprise, and of the hazard or expence which it might occasion. It may easily be imagined, that the explanation of this latter point was a matter of some delicacy. There are many cases where the naked truth ought not rashly to be exposed to the view of every by-stander. To avow all at once the real object of the war, considering the circumstances formerly mentioned, was inconsistent with that reserve and caution which the nature of the case appeared to demand, and might have prevented that future variation of purpose which the uncertain course of events might possibly suggest. Were it not for the serious consequences which have been produced, and which are still likely to follow, the various juggling tricks that have been practised, the different views which have been held up at different periods, and the sudden shifting of the ground upon the several unexpected turns of fortune, would be highly ludicrous. They present a chequered scene of dissimulation and embarrassment, a sort of tragic distress interwoven with a degree of comic dexterity, something resembling the clergyman, in the farce, who preaches against popery, at the same time that he is picking your pocket; which, though not perfectly consistent with the unities of Aristotle, can hardly fail to exercise the risible muscles of the most phlegmatic spectator.
The real and ultimate object of the war, as was formerly observed, has been invariably the preventing of a reform in our parliamentary representation; and this, it was thought, required a counter-revolution in France, by pulling down the new constitution, and restoring the ancient despotism; measures which could not be effected without an entire conquest of the country. But this purpose, which would, at the first proposal, have startled, perhaps, the most determined adherent of prerogative, and have sunk in despair the panic-struck alarmist, was carefully concealed. The Jesuitical pretences which were assumed, at the beginning, will for a long time be remembered. To prepare the minds of people for engaging in the contest, and to preclude the scruples which, in the first moments of deliberation, were likely to occur, positive assurances were given that our government had no intention to join in the objects of those foreign potentates who had entered into the treaty of Pilnitz. The war in which we were about to engage was merely a defensive war, and had no other aim than to secure ourselves, and our allies from the aggression of the French. After the nation had once actually engaged in the war, the national passions, in the progress of the contest, were likely to be inflamed; and, in the eagerness of victory, scruples, which appeared at first insurmountable, would probably vanish. Having passed the Rubicon, our retreat was, by every new step, rendered more difficult, and our path more intricate and perplexed. The minister then ventured to open his mind more fully, and to acknowledge that his object in the war included, not only an indemnification for our expences, but the establishment of such a government in France as could afford to Great Britain a sufficient security for the maintenance of her future tranquillity.
Such were the progressive views held out, in particular by Mr. Pitt, in his speech on the opening of the budget in 1793, and in that upon the motion for an address to his Majesty, in January 1794. It was not difficult to see, that upon the supposition of the continuance of the war till our ministry were satisfied with the security afforded by the government in France, the interpretation of this article being reserved to themselves, a peace might be deferred as long as they should find convenient. But, if any doubt had remained upon that subject, it was afterwards, in the debate concerning the employment of the French Emigrants in our military service, removed by a positive declaration. The alarmists having then arrived at that pitch of enthusiasm to be ripe for the direct avowal, it was at length plainly admitted by a minister, from the northern part of the island; a minister who, in case it should prove disagreeable, had not much popularity to lose; that the war must be continued, until we shall be in a condition to re-instate the Emigrants in their former possessions; that is, until we have not only overturned the present order of things, but have by force of arms, restored the ancient despotism. The frankness of this avowal deserves commendation; and, if I mistake not, it was accompanied with some kind of apology, from considerations of policy, for not having been made at the beginning.
But that, from the beginning, the conquest of France, and the restoration of the ancient despotism were intended, is manifest from a variety of circumstances. Not long after the commencement of the war, I think in the beginning of April 1793, a proposal was made to Lord Grenville by Le Brun the French minister, for the re-establishment of peace by an amicable negociation; and to this end a passport was demanded for an envoy upon the part of France. But though the letters, containing this application, sufficiently authenticated, were laid before the Honourable Secretary of State, they were totally disregarded, and, it should appear, as much as possible buried in silence. So favourable an opportunity of attempting at least to terminate the war, with honour to the nation and crown, would not have been overlooked, unless a fixed resolution had been formed of prosecuting the contest to the last extremity.
The success of our arms towards the beginning of the first campaign, when, by the treachery of Dumourier, the French were driven from Holland, and from the Austrian Netherlands, and their armies were almost completely disorganised, presented another opportunity, no less favourable, for putting an end to the war; an opportunity which, had our views terminated upon any thing short of the entire conquest of France, we should certainly have been eager to seize. We had then recovered all the possessions of our allies; and we had reduced our enemy to such distress as appeared to lay the foundation for an advantageous treaty. But though negociation was continually rung in the ears of our ministry, by the party in opposition at home, it was uniformly rejected with indignation.
The tone and language, indeed, of the combined powers varied a good deal, according to the exigency of their affairs. They had no objection, occasionally, to the employment of stratagem for promoting their ends; and it should seem that they even suffered, inadvertently, such terms of accommodation to be offered, in their name, as they had no serious intention to fulfil. Upon the agreement between the Prince of Saxe-Cobourg and Dumourier, the latter published a manifesto, declaring, that his sole purpose, in marching with his army to Paris, was to restore the constitution 1789; and the Prince of Cobourg, in another manifesto, relative to the foregoing, declares, “that he will support, by all the force which is entrusted to him, the generous and beneficent intentions of General Dumourier and his brave army.” But the enterprise of Dumourier having totally failed of success, there was held at Antwerp, on the 8th of April, that is, three days after the above declaration was published, a congress of the representatives of the combined powers, at which the Duke of York and Lord Auckland were present on the part of Great Britain. Here it was again resolved to prosecute the conquest of France; in consequence of which, the former manifesto of Prince Cobourg was withdrawn; and, agreeable to this resolution, a new manifesto, in terms very different from the former, was, on the day following, published by that general.
These are facts which proclaim the intention of parties, in a manner less ambiguous, and more forcible, than can be done by mere verbal declarations.
Another instance of a similar nature occurs in the transactions relative to the capture of Toulon. As it was thought of great importance that the English forces should be admitted into that place, an agreement was made with the inhabitants, conformable to what appeared, at the time, to be their prevailing inclinations. Let us hear the proclamation of Lord Hood upon that subject, dated 28th August 1793, when he obtained possession of Toulon.
“Whereas the Sections of Toulon have, by their commissioners to me, made a solemn declaration in favour of Monarchy; have proclaimed Louis the XVII. son of the late Louis the XVI. their lawful king; and have sworn to acknowledge him, and no longer suffer the despotism of the tyrants which at this time govern France, but will do their utmost to establish monarchy, as accepted by their late sovereign in 1789, and restore peace to their distracted and calamitous country; I do hereby repeat, what I have already declared to the people of the south of France, that I take possession of Toulon, and hold it in trust only for Louis the XVII. until peace shall be re-established in France, which I hope and trust will be soon.”
After obtaining possession of that place, however, and weighing the matter more fully, a declaration, in somewhat a different strain, was sent by his Majesty’s command, to the commanders of his fleets and armies employed against France, and to his ministers employed at foreign courts, dated 29th October 1793. It is there said, that “his Majesty by no means disputes the right of France to reform its laws.”—And afterwards it goes on as follows: “The King demands that some legitimate and stable government should be established, founded on the acknowledged principles of universal justice, and capable of maintaining with other powers the accustomed relations of union and of peace. His Majesty wishes ardently to be enabled to treat for the re-establishment of general tranquillity with such a government, exercising a legal and permanent authority, and possessing power to enforce the observance of its engagements. The King would propose none other than equitable and moderate conditions; not such as the expences, the risk, and the sacrifices of the war might justify, but such as his Majesty thinks himself under the indispensible necessity of requiring with a view to these considerations, and still more to that of his own security and of the future tranquillity of Europe.”—And referring to the calamities and disorders prevailing in that country, “It is then in order to deliver themselves from this unheard-of oppression, to put an end to a system of unparalleled crimes, and to restore at length tranquillity to France, and security to all Europe, that his Majesty invites the co-operation of the people of France. It is for these objects that he calls upon them to join the standard of an hereditary monarchy, not for the purpose of deciding, in this moment of disorder, calamity, and public danger, on all the modifications of which this form of government may hereafter be susceptible; but in order to unite themselves once more under the empire of law, of morality, and of religion,” &c.
In short, the inhabitants of France, instead of the constitution 1789, promised them by Lord Hood, and upon the faith of which they had delivered Toulon into the hands of the English, are referred to such a government as they themselves, at the termination of the war, might frame under the direction of England, with whom, at the same time, they were then to settle the account of expences. This requires no comment. Had we, in consequence of this transaction, or by whatever means, been finally victorious, we should have procured a government to our liking in France, with as much ease as the French have lately done in Holland.
But though there can be no doubt that the combined powers intended to conquer France, we are not so certain that they intended to conquer it for the benefit of the Bourbon family. It has been asserted that the treaty of Pilnitz proposed to dismember that country; and the behaviour of the Allies, in the hour of their success, tends to confirm that assertion. When Valenciennes furrendered to the Duke of York, his Royal Highness took possession of that place, not for the benefit of Louis the XVII. but in behalf of the Emperor of Germany. Generous and wise administrators of Britain! Happy people, under the auspicious direction of such able and prudent Ministers!!! With what a laudable spirit have we spent our blood and treasure for the benefit of so firm, so useful, and so disinterested an ally! May we not expect also, in the partition of that vast and fertile country, to obtain, for our share, a few towns or districts, the maintenance and government of which will improve our economy, as the revenue to be drawn from thence will contribute to discharge our national debt, and to alleviate our burdens?
Our success, however, was but of short duration; and we have now experienced almost three years of uninterrupted defeat and disaster. During this long period, the most remarkable circumstance has been that inflexible obstinacy with which our Ministry have persevered in the primitive object of the war. They seem to have thought, that
Their behaviour puts one in mind of the warrior in Ariosto, who does not observe that his head has been cut off, but continues fighting as if nothing had happened to him. This immoveable intrepidity has been most conspicuous in that branch of administration containing the deserters from the ancient Whigs, among whom no change of countenance, no voice, or gesture, unbecoming their former professions, has hitherto been observable. A late Lord Lieutenant has, even recently, in a public debate, recommended our perseverance in the conquest of France, with a warmth that does great honour to the sincerity of his feelings; and old Truepenny, it is said, reposing upon his pensions, still swears against a regicide peace.
Our Prime Minister, indeed, has been brought to admit, that the form of government in France presents no insuperable objection to our concluding a peace with that nation; an admission which appears to have been extorted, not without some wry faces, and much hesitation; and which, after all his vain boasting, was, doubtless, to him, if that were of any importance, abundantly humiliating. But this declaration seems to produce no alteration in his measures; and peace is apparently as remote as ever. What is now his object in continuing the war, the Lord only knows. But if any sagacious projector could, in our very critical situation, hit upon the plan of a peace, which would not threaten to drive our present Ministers from the possession of their places, it is probable he would meet with due encouragement. I am, &c.