Mr. C. W. Wynn
rose, according to the notice on this subject, and said, that he had willingly waved the precedence which his motion was entitled to, in favour of the propositions in honour of those who had gallantly and successfully contended in the defence of their country. Though, his motion was on a subject similar to those which had preceded it, he would willingly have abstained from it, if any assurance, or even hope, were given that it would not be attempted to subjugate the brave people of Norway to a rival and hostile nation. But when he saw, on the part of the king of Denmark, a declaration that he should throw no obstacles in the way of the cession of Norway to Sweden, and when he (Mr. W.) found that the commissioners from the allied powers, who were to proceed to Copenhagen and to Norway, were gone, not to negociate, but to attempt to conciliate the people of Norway to the projects which had been formed for their subjugation, and when these proceedings were accompanied by acts of hostility, he could no longer abstain from appealing to the justice and feelings of the House. But if, even at the present moment, an assurance were given, that the blockade of the kingdom of Norway should be suspended during the negociation of the commissioners, he would be content to withdraw his motion. 835 It was clearly consistent with the privilege of the House to recommend any subject to the crown, on a point which, in negotiations pending, should be insisted on. This was recently exemplified in the Address of the House relative to the Slave Trade. It was therefore not only competent to the House, but regular, to recommend to the crown the interests of any particular body of men, if they should be deemed worthy of support. Having premised thus much, the first point that naturally occurred in the consideration of the question was, the state of our engagements to Sweden by Treaty, and whether we were to assist that power in the subjugation of a free people; an obligation which even those who thought it existed would acknowledge to be one of the most odious nature. What were the engagements in the words of the Treaty? That his Britannic Majesty engaged, not only not to oppose, but to assist by his good offices in procuring the cession of the kingdom of Norway to the crown of Sweden, or by employing, if necessary, his naval force in co-operation with the force of Russia and Sweden; but that force should not be resorted to, unless the king of Denmark previously refused to join the allied powers. Could it now be contended, that the object of this Treaty had not been fulfilled, when the king of Denmark had joined the Allies with twelve thousand men; that we were justified in using force; or, when the king of Sweden had declared that he was so well satisfied with the cession of Norway by Denmark, that he had given to this last power a suitable indemnity? Could it be more fully expressed than it had been by that Treaty, that the cession of Norway was the only object of it? Not only had Norway been ceded by Denmark by Treaty, but all the stipulations of that Treaty had been most fully complied with. It was stipulated, that the king of Denmark should, for himself and his successors, renounce all sovereignty over Norway—that he should, by proclamation, inform the Norwegians of his renunciation—that he should recal all the Danish functionaries, and evacuate all the fortresses. All these articles had been most fully complied with. It could not, he believed, be said that any Danish troops were now remaining in Norway. The natural interpretation of our Treaty with Sweden was, that we were not called on further to assist in the subjugation of Norway. This construction was fortified 836 by the explanation of the noble lord, secretary for foreign affairs (lord Castlereagh), during the debate last year on the same subject, who then stated, that we had thought proper to refuse to guarantee to Sweden the possession of Norway; that it was true, that Russia had guaranteed the possession, but that we had merely engaged not to oppose it. If yet it was supposed that the meaning of the Treaty was dubious, what was the course to be taken? We could call in to our assistance the writers on the laws of nations; for it was natural to suppose, that all we had agreed by treaty to perform was agreeable to the law of nations; or that, if any new course were taken, it would not be left doubtful, but most clearly and distinctly be expressed. He would not tire the House with all the authorities on the subject; but all the considerable writers, Grotius, Puffendorff, and Vattel, had held, that though a sovereign might cede any part of his dominions for the security of the rest, yet that the part ceded was by no means bound to submit to the cession. Stronger authorities than these need not be quoted. It was true, that many instances might be adduced of aggression of every species arising from undisguised ambition; but these authors had uniformly been looked on as the landmark of public law, according to which, if any doubt arose in a treaty, it must be presumed that the agreement was concluded. In what light were we to consider the people of Norway? as an independent state, or as a revolted part of the dominions of the king of Denmark, or as a part of the dominions of the king of Sweden? Viewing them in either of these lights, we were not obliged, or justified in our attempt to subjugate them. Was it, however, to be said, that we had been at war with the crowns of Denmark and Norway; and that having made peace with the former, we continued at war with the latter? If this were admitted, yet as there were laws of war as well as of peace, it would be proper for us to look at the grounds on which we had first commenced hostilities. We had entered into a war with Denmark in order to get possession of her fleets, which we supposed might be turned against us; having obtained them, we were willing to make peace, which Denmark then refused to do, but pursued the war for the purpose of obtaining a restitution or indemnity. She had at last, however, made peace, and we continued 837 the war with Norway. Now supposing, for the sake of the argument, that we had begun the war on justifiable grounds, yet had we any reason to proceed to an absolute subjugation of that country when she implored peace? If we recurred to the examples of ancient times, we might find that war then authorized every species of barbarity; but at present, consistently with the maxims of Christianity, we were obliged to contend that we carried on war merely for self-defence. In feudal times it was always at the discretion of a conqueror, whether he would give quarter; and so late as the 10th century, it was deemed justifiable in a captor to kill his captive; but now quarter was demanded as a matter of absolute right, and it was only justifiable to deprive a captive of personal liberty. We were not, therefore, justified, on the ground of our original war with Denmark, to pursue to extermination the hapless people of Norway. As it was always the right of a people over whom their sovereign had renounced his allegiance, to refuse to be transferred to a foreign prince, so their resistance ought only to be restrained by prudence; as a man, to whose breast a pistol is presented by a highwayman, merely considers whether he has such a chance of success as warrants him in hazarding his life in resisting him. This right of resistance had in all times been exercised by nations. When, by a base act of submission on the part of their monarch, the Scottish nation was delivered up to Edward 1, they refused to submit to this treaty, and were finally successful in their resistance. When also, about the same time, Snowdon and the other strong parts of Wales were ceded by Llewellyn to the English monarch, the men of Snowdon asserted, in a declaration which yet remains in the Tower, that their prince had no right to deliver them up to subjection to a people whose language, laws, and manners, were different from their own. True it was, that the Welch were at last subdued by an overwhelming force; but what was the prize thus gained, what were the advantages which accrued to England? During 200 years of constant war and bloodshed, Wales was to England a weakness instead of a strength; and by constant rebellions and inroads diverted the best part of her force until by the junction of the two lines in Henry 7, the two countries became united. Such, he was persuaded, would be the case, if Norway by superior force 838 were brought into subjection; No subjection to a foreign yoke could be more odious than submission to Sweden would be to the people of Norway. Every person who had travelled through Norway, knew that the tradition of the peasants—all their national songs, had for their subjects the victories obtained by their forefathers over the Swedes; and the manner in which they had repelled the invasion of that nation, which, whether justly or not, they had always considered as their most bitter enemies. We had heard of late, that the people of Brazil were unwilling that the Prince Regent of Portugal should return to his native country;—suppose then that he should be persuaded to yield, up Portugal to Spain, would it be contended that that cession would be binding on the people? Whether the enmity of the Portuguese were softened since the commencement of the last contest, he did not know; but it was well known that they would formerly have submitted to political annihilation, rather than be united to Spain. Norway had been united to the kingdom of Denmark by the heir male to the former crown having married the heiress of Denmark—a case exactly parallel to the Union of Scotland to England in the time of James 1, whose ancestor had married a female, in whose line at last the right of the English crown vested. Suppose that in the time of this monarch, or his successors, an invading force had spread itself in England and occupied London, so that the sovereign was obliged to cede Scotland for the safety of England: would not the brave and high-spirited people of that country declare that the safety or danger of London did not regard them, but that they would maintain their own independence while their arms had strength? would not every freeman hear this declaration with joy?—It was said, however, that the Swedish government intended to bestow on the Norwegians the blessings of a free constitution—What freedom could be given a nation by compulsion? What were the terms on which, this constitution was to be obtained? The Norwegians were to abandon their resistance, their fortresses were to be occupied by Swedish troops; and their troops were to lay down their arms. After these preliminaries, what constitution was there which would, be worth the paper on which it was written? In no constitution was the security against despotism in the statutes, but in the strength of the people. If all 839 the towns of England were occupied by foreign troops, what freedom of debate or decision would the House of Commons possess? It might be alleged, that the legislative body in France was a proof that freedom might be enjoyed in the presence of an overwhelming force. But this instance of moderation, which had no parallel, could have no influence on the question; as on no other occasion was it supposed that a deliberative body, under such circumstances, vented any thing but the commands of the military force under the name of decrees, and we could only wonder this was not the case now. In all the unprincipled aggressions of the French since the time of the Revolution, they always began by offering the people, whose independence, they intended to attack, a free constitution. You may have, said they, Councils of Ancients, and of Five Hundred; but for the present the French troops must be admitted, to preserve order. What if the Norwegians suspected, as they had to do with a pupil of Buonaparié, and one who had imitated him in many things, that in this also Charles John might follow the example of his master?—Who, when the Swedes were admitted, could bind them to their promises?—Who then would be found to sue on the King's bond? The Norwegians were told, that all the Swedes did was for their interest, although they thought otherwise. The Swedes told them, we negociate for your interest; meanwhile you may starve. Subsist if you can on the bark of trees or the moss of the bogs, and all things will be soon satisfactorily explained. So the Spaniard, who was ordered by Philip the second to strangle Don Carlos, when that prince made some resistance, begged him to be quiet for a short time, "as all that he did was for his Royal Highness's good." It was said, that Denmark had not bona fide yielded up Norway. If any assistance were given by Denmark to the Norwegians, it would be a just ground of war against the former power; but Denmark, he believed, had fulfilled its treaty. All the military force remaining in Norway were Norwegians, being either the militia or commanded by Norwegians, and recruited among that people. It was asked then, whether, Prince, Christian was a Danish functionary, or an usurper?—He was neither the one nor the other. When the king of Denmark renounced the sovereignty of the Norwegians, the heir apparent had rightly considered himself as 840 their sovereign. It was then asked, why he had not renounced the Danish crown? Such a step he (Mr. W.) believed had been taken; but, if not, we had a right to demand from Denmark that he should be excluded from the succession. Although Norway had not been a separate and independent kingdom, but merely a province, and had exercised its natural right of resistance, he should have rejoiced at its success against a transfer such as had taken place in the present instance. But that kingdom, until 1660, was governed by its own states, and was as free as any northern nation. On its renouncing at that time its free constitution, its rights of independence remained the same as before. Nor would it be considered, that if even the emperor of Russia alienated any part of his dominions, the people were more bound to submit to a foreign yoke, than those of a freer state. Even if a country were transferred by its representative body, he should not hold the people in that case bound to submit; human nature would resume its rights, and who would not rejoice in its success? If therefore the Treaty with Sweden were inconsistent with the laws of nations, we were not bound to submit to it; for what treaty could bind a nation to approve of such a deed, for instance, as the partition of Poland? If Sweden attempted to bind us to the harshest letter of our contract, it would become us to enquire how she had performed her engagement. Her army was, by treaty, to have been placed at the disposal of the allies. Was it not quite notorious, that they did not follow the plans of the allies? Where, he asked, had the Swedish troops of late been engaged? In Holstein, and that for the benefit of Sweden. He did not wish to undervalue the services of the Swedes, or to say that it might not have been most fatal to us, if they had been employed against us. He agreed that the advantage arising from their co-operation justified the subsidy which had been granted to them. But was the cession of Guadaloupe to be considered as nothing? It was, indeed, no argument against granting to Sweden every thing that she had stipulated for, to say that she had already got all that she was fairly entitled to. But if she had in any respect violated any of the terms of the treaty on her part, it was too much to say that she was, at the same time, entitled to the extremest farthing in her bond. To shew that the Crown Prince of Sweden had 841 of late been remiss in the co-operation to be afforded to the cause of the allies, the hon. gentleman read an extract from the Liege-Gazette, relative to the inactivity of the Hanseatic Legion; and, in confirmation of that statement, observed, that in reality the Crown Prince of Sweden had not proceeded towards France till after Paris had been for a week in the possession of the allies. After this tardiness on his own part, the hon. gentleman thought the Crown Prince of Sweden could hardly complain if the Treaty was not strictly fulfilled in every part by this country. The policy of Great Britain had hitherto been to preserve a balance of power among the northern states. An alliance between this country and Russia had been long considered as almost necessary for the well being of both countries; and even when war had at any time been declared by the one against the other, it had never been a war which was waged with a spirit of animosity. From circumstances which he should not now touch upon, when the empress Catherine had chosen to conclude a treaty of commerce with France, and to decline one with England, still the trade was by the people carried on with England, and not with France. He might be told, no doubt, that we were now at peace with France. He was happy to think so, and hoped that such a state of things would long continue; but he was afraid that this was a friendship which was not likely to endore longer than it was for the interest of both nations. The interests of Britain and of France were, in so many instances, opposite to each other, that a peace of any very long continuance between the two countries was hardly to be calculated upon. He did not know that the circumstance of having a Frenchman at their head was more likely to render the Swedish nation favourable to this country: and in this situation, the independence of Norway, abstracted from every other consideration, was for this country a thing highly desirable. In that event, we should have been at no loss for a supply of those naval stores, which we were not so likely to get if Sweden and she were connected together under one head. If Norway were independent, she would naturally look to Britain for support; nay for food, and most other necessaries. Now for twenty-two years we had been contending for the independence of Europe; and when we had so fortunately accomplished our ob- 842 ject, we now sought to continue the horrors of war, with the object of imposing a foreign and detested yoke on an independent kingdom. Mr. W. concluded by moving,
"That an humble Address be presented to his royal highness the Prince Regent; humbly to request that his Royal Highness would be graciously pleased to interpose his mediation to rescue the unoffending people of Norway from the dreadful alternative of famine, or of subjection to the yoke of a foreign and hostile power: and that during the discussion of such proposals as his Royal Highness may be advised to make for this most desirable object, all hostile operations on the part of this country, against a people struggling for the sacred right of national independence, may be discontinued."
§ Mr. Lambton
, in seconding the motion, said, he was one of those, who, venerating the great principles which their ancestors had bled in maintaining, could not look on calmly, and behold a magnanimous people offered up on the altar of diplomatic convenience. It had been strenuously contended, that we were bound by the stipulations of our treaty. But this argument could not be supported, unless it was clearly shewn, that Sweden had completely fulfilled the conditions into which she had entered. Now, where was the Prince Royal of Sweden to be found when the late events were passing on the continent? Was he in Germany, at the head of his army? Certainly not. Having left off his former minor system of plunder, he was to be found in another quarter, enslaving a people, and pillaging a nation. Did those gentlemen, who had so often panegyrised the invincible spirit which the people of Spain and Portugal had displayed, hope that so virtuous a feeling would not be imitated by the inhabitants of other countries? He, on the contrary, anxiously desired, that so noble a spirit should extend through every part of Europe—and, he trusted, that, in the case of Norway, as in that of Spain and Portugal, the spirit of national independence would triumph over every difficulty. Much as he disliked the Treaty itself, by which the cession of Norway was recognized—still more did he dislike the time when it was entered into. At a time when the horrors of war were almost at an end—when the Allied Powers had recognised the right of the French people to form their own constitution—at that moment, which ought to be most auspi- 843 cious for the interests of mankind, did his Majesty's ministers determine to compel a brave nation to bow beneath a detested foreign yoke.—What did the world now see?—It saw that England, which had held its head so high as the asserter of the liberties of Europe, become the oppressor of an inoffensive people; they saw her, not employing her arms against the Norwegians, but resorting to that which he thought England would have never stooped to—a system of starvation. In the year 1813, they had returned thanks to Providence for an abundant harvest—and, in 1814, they impiously attempted to withhold from a brave and spirited people a participation in that plenty which they themselves enjoyed. He hoped, however, those who supported such a system would be disappointed—and that the people of Norway would find as bold and as successful a defender, in some native warrior, as the inhabitants of Spain and Portugal had done in the duke of Wellington.
§ Mr. Stephen
said, that if, as was argued on the other side, the conduct of Great Britain, in enforcing the cession of Sweden, was contrary to the immutable laws of justice, he certainly should be one of the first to accede to the motion. The agreeing to a treaty which proceeded on so bad a principle must, in his view of the subject, militate against the interests of the country—for no country could ever find its interests supported by a violation of the laws of God—or, what was the same thing, by opposing those doctrines on which the law of nations was founded. Such an opposition was, as it were, throwing down the gauntlet to Almighty Providence, which would not fail, at one time or other, to take it up. But this country did not stand in such a situation. The Treaty recognized no such principles; and this country, he contended, was called on to fulfil it. It was the imperative duty of Great Britain, even if she were obliged to use force, to see that Norway was, in the most extensive sense of the word, ceded to Sweden, unless the latter power absolved her from the condition. He was sorry to observe, that the hon. mover put a very limited construction on the terms of the Treaty. According to his interpretation, Sweden had a right to rest satisfied with the cession of Norway by Denmark, even though that cession were successfully resisted by the Norwegian people—and, this country, he argued, was freed 844 from any farther obligation. Now the Treaty stipulated for "the annexation and union, in perpetuity, of the kingdom of Norway as an integral part of Sweden;" and Great Britain was bound to assist in procuring that annexation, if necessary, by "a naval co-operation." Was it then possible for any gentleman to say, that this only meant, that a seal should be put to an instrument ceding Norway to Sweden, and that then the obligations of this country were perfectly discharged?—He should have felt surprised if a person unacquainted with the law of nations had defended such a position; but his wonder was very much increased when he recollected the research and knowledge of the hon. gentleman (Mr. Wynn). In quoting from, the writers on the law of nations, the hon. gentleman had completely overlooked the chapter of Vattel, in which he spoke of the solemn obligation by which a state was bound to observe its treaties. That author observed, how unworthy it was in a state, how destructive of its character, to equivocate with, or falsify, the language of a treaty—which, he particularly stated, should be construed according to its literal meaning, and should not be influenced by any subsequent event. This passage directly met the present Treaty. The hon. gentleman said, if the people of Norway are willing to become Swedish subjects, it is very well—but, if not, you must not use force against them. Now, by looking back to the circumstances under which the Treaty was concluded, it would appear evident, that the contracting parties had a very different feeling. If, when that Treaty was drawn up, our minister had said, "Norway shall be ceded to you, but we will not use force to compel the cession," would such a condition have been accepted by Sweden? Would it not have been looked on as an insult? Would not the Swedish minister, considering the incurable hatred which was said to exist between the Norwegian and the Swedish people, have said, "You are proposing that which cannot, be carried into effect?" Such, naturally, would have been his language. The hon. gentleman had also argued, that Sweden had not performed her stipulations, and, therefore, we were absolved from ours. Because the Crown Prince had not pressed forward to Paris so quick as the other Allies, he was viewed with distrust and suspicion. — But, were they to forget his great services at the battle of Leipsic; 845 were they to overlook his defence of Berlin; actions which, at the time they occurred, were spoken of in the highest terms of praise? No part of the conduct of ministers, in his opinion, deserved greater approbation, than the constancy they shewed in continuing to place confidence in the Crown Prince, when gentlemen were in the habit of insinuating that he would not fulfil the promise he had given. And were they now, because they could do it with safety, to equivocate and elude the terms of this Treaty? Were they to say to the Crown Prince—"Because you have not done every thing that human imagination could form an idea of, you have not acted up to your stipulations; and, therefore, we are freed from the obligation we entered into?" He would contend, that the terms of the Treaty were conclusive; and unless gentlemen on the other side could prove, that, in its inchoation, and when we put our seal to it, it contained an infraction of the law of nations, it ought to be strictly complied with. Now, he protested against the line of argument pursued by the hon. gentleman, who, having admitted that we were at war with Denmark, entered into an examination of the circumstances which led to that state of hostility. The cause of war between Great Britain and Denmark did not bear at all on the question. We were at war with that country, no matter whether justly or unjustly—and, having entered into this covenant with Sweden, could the hon. gentleman point out any writer on the law of nations who laid it down as a maxim, that a belligerent power should not distress an enemy? Neither Grotius, nor Puffendorff, nor any other writer on public law, held it criminal in a belligerent to seize part of the territory of an enemy.—Much had been said against blockading the ports of Norway—but, he confessed, that, in his opinion, the system of blockade, on the present occasion, was the best that could be resorted to, because it would tend to deliver the Norwegians from a protracted warfare, which, with their scanty means, might be productive of the most calamitous consequences.
§ Sir James Mackintosh
said, he did not rise to examine the injustice or impolicy of the Treaty entered into between Russia and Sweden in 1812, nor to dispute the solemn, decision of parliament with respect to the partial accession of Great Britain to that, convention; he admitted the 846 binding authority and force of that convention: and least of all did he rise in a British House of Commons to advise any evasion of it. The question was, not whether there existed any doubts as to its justice or injustice, but whether we were bound by its letter and spirit to carry on a system of hostility most odious and abominable against a new party—against a party who had not a political existence at the time the Treaty was signed—against the unoffending people of Norway. In rising to address the House, it was more from a desire to do justice to his own conscience, than from any hope that he could do justice to the cause; for after the concise and intelligent exposition of the hon. mover—after the able speech of the hon. seconder—and after the splendour of eloquence in another place, to which, indeed, he could not allude, but which he never could forget, it would be idle and foolish in him to address the House from any other motive than a wish to discharge his duty. If they looked at the Treaty, they must be convinced that the whole of it was made to depend upon certain acts that were to be done, or not done, by Denmark, who was solely and exclusively contemplated at the time the Treaty was made. It was not, indeed, possible to enter into any contract the performance of which depended upon, events not only unforeseen, but, if he might coin a word, unforeseeable. Much stress had been laid by the hon. member who preceded him upon the authority of Vattel, from whom he had read a long extract. He did not quarrel with its length. It was well said by an ancient philosopher, that he never knew a man against reason until reason was against him; and in like manner the hon. member never opposed, the opinions of jurists unless they were hostile to his own arguments. The ancient writers upon public law were not infallible, he admitted; but still they were the digests of those great principles which influenced every state, and constituted the permanent and embodied voice of Europe. Vattel was a high authority; but Grotius and Puffendorff were higher, perhaps; at least they were more consulted, because they were more ancient, and had been longer referred to by statesmen. And what was the doctrine of Grotius, in regard to ceded territories? That such cession was not compulsory upon the inhabitants, until they had acknowledged it by some act of acquiescence. Puffendorff held, that a prince might withdraw his garrisons, 847 might recal his officers, and might transfer his own right to another, but that he could not cede or sell men. He could not, in fact, carry on a white slave trade. The commonwealth, no matter under what form it was administered, whether by a senate, a king, or any other authority, was the patrimony of the people. Their rights could not be transferred without their consent. A thousand instances of silent acquiescence proved nothing, in support of the contrary doctrine, equal to a single instance of resistance. What was the case with regard to Corsica? When we aided that brave but persecuted people, were we assisting rebels, or befriending an ardent, high-minded race who disdained to be placed under a foreign power? What were the feelings excited in this country in 1806 by the cession of the Tyrol? Yet the Tyrol was not an independent state, like Norway, but dependent upon the House of Austria. It was ceded, he allowed, under circumstances of sore and humiliating necessity, nominally to France, and afterwards to Bavaria. When it became necessary to subdue the lofty spirit of those brave mountaineers, did the late ruler of France compel Austria to bathe her paternal hands in the blood of the Tyrolese, writhing beneath the indignity offered to their independence?—No: insensible as he was to justice, he was not insolent enough to make such a demand. He sent his own troops to crush their glorious efforts; and he sent Hoffer, that patriot who sealed his country's cause with his blood, to an ignominious death. Would any man be bold enough to say, that he perished in an infamous rebellion? and yet, technically speaking, he was as guilty of high treason as Sydney and Russell were Treason was either the blackest of crimes or the highest of virtues; and Hoffer was either to be ranked with Russell and Sydney, or, by their vote that night, to be confounded with the foulest rebels that had ever resisted just and legitimate authority. But he would descend from the high ground which he was entitled to take from the sanction of the most eminent jurists, and admit for the sake of argument, that it was the general duty of the inhabitants of a ceded territory to obey the last request of their sovereign, and transfer their allegiance to another power,—might there be no exceptions to that rule?—might there be no cases in which the people would be justified in resisting such a cession? Suppose the king of Spain were 848 disposed to cede his beautiful province of Andalusia to the emperor of Morocco; would the inhabitants of Andalusia be rebels if they protested against such a measure, and if they opposed it by flying to their arms? If ever there existed an exception, Norway was that exception; and he was willing that the question should be reasoned upon that ground. Reference had been made to other territories: the Germanic body, the states of Italy, Sicily, &c. where cessions were frequent. But they were only nominally independent: they were attached to larger kingdoms; they were the infirm and palsied limbs of Europe, and became invariably the first points of attack in every war. Had it not been the case with Lombardy and the Austrian Netherlands; and would any one rise and say, that the case of those countries was at all analogous to that of the ancient kingdom of Norway, who had given kings to other nations, and had never worn the scar of foreign bonds and fetters? A reference had been made to Scotland. He believed his hon. friend was from that country; for himself, he was proud to acknowledge that he had the honour of being a Scotsman. He was astonished, however, to find a parallel drawn between Scotland at the period of the Union, and the present situation of Norway. He would tell his hon. friend, that if Scotland had not been incapable of slavery, it would have been incapable of a beneficial alliance with the great nation it now belonged to. It was because Wallace suffered martyrdom in defence of that sacred principle he was now contending for, because he despised the cession which had been made of his country, that England had since received the services of a Moore, an Abercrombie, and a Graham. Was it for the advantage of the world—was it beneficial to the general order of society, that the bands between the sovereign and the people should be made tight?—Nothing tended more to relax them than the levity with which, cessions of territory were performed. It had been argued by the hon. member, that we were not bound to guarantee the possession of Norway to Sweden. He should like to know how long our duty in that respect was understood to be obligatory. Suppose Norway had feigned to submit: suppose she had deceived Sweden into a belief that she yielded to the desire of Denmark, and was anxious to be annexed to Sweden; and suppose Sweden, in conese- 849 quence, had sent into Norway only a small number of troops to take possession of it, would his hon. friend say, that we should have been bound to send out our fleets to starve Norway into subjection only one week after it had so yielded, and when she manifested her determination not to continue under the power of Sweden? If so, where was the difference between that obligation and a complete guarantee of the quiet possession of Norway? and if not so, where was the difference, on the other hand, between stratagem and open force? Denmark had ceded Norway; and to cede it as she had done, was all she had power to do. Norway, as an independent state, was not in contemplation when the Treaty with Sweden was signed. She had now become such, and surely could not be said to inherit the hostilities that were directed against Denmark, and Denmark only. The protection of the sovereign being withdrawn from Norway, she could not, when she lost all the privileges of Danish subjects, retain only the pains and penalties that belonged to her former condition.
Whether the insurrection in Norway were the act of the Norwegian people, or the work of a mere faction, had, it seemed, become a question; and this question the British ministers proposed truly to decide by starving the whole in order to render them unanimous. Yet this was denominated by his learned friend who spoke last a merciful war. What! that war merciful which threatened to famish a people, only because they loved their country and refused to submit to a foreign power which they detested—only because they preferred independence to subjugation, and he heartily wished they might succeed in maintaining that independence. That the British navy should be employed in seconding the object of such a war, he could not but reflect on with peculiar pain, in which he was persuaded all the officers in the service must participate; for that body, which comprehended not only liberty, valour, professional skill, and literary attainment, but the most accomplished gentlemen, must feel that they have so fallen, when so ingloriously occupied; that they who had so long borne in triumph the standard of glory, and the symbol of liberality, should be engaged in spreading famine and desolation among an unoffending people, and that too under the prostituted and profaned name of mercy. Was it thus that England was to sustain 850 her reputation in the world, which had heretofore regarded her as just, generous, and humane; that, under the name of blockade—a word used to hide the horror of the deed—she should so act as to provoke the Norwegian nation to exclaim, in the affliction of her heart, "here are those boasted advocates of human liberty, those deliverers of mankind, come to starve our infants, because our countrymen, will not submit to slavery!"
said, that in the view which his hon. and learned friend professed to take of this subject, he was glad to perceive that he delivered opinions to which he had no hesitation in agreeing. He was glad also, because it gave him an opportunity of congratulating the House on so splendid an acquisition, the value of which he well knew before, but had not the pleasure of witnessing until that night. His opinions were by no means in conflict with the hon. knt.'s as to the Treaty itself. If the question now was, whether consent should be given to the Treaty? he had no hesitation in saying that he would refuse it. When that was the question upon a former occasion, he endeavoured to persuade the House not to sanction the engagement. But, strong as his opinion was against it, he yet felt that when the engagement was once entered into, he considered himself as bound by it; and the question now was, whether, the Treaty being once sanctioned, parliament was bound to adhere to it according to the proper construction of the Treaty? It was unfortunate, that their good faith and their feelings should be placed in opposition; but in such a case good faith was to be observed even in opposition to feeling. In the latter part of his speech his hon. and learned friend endeavoured to seize on the feelings of the House. He drew a glowing picture of the miseries that must arise from a blockade, which, in other words, he said, was a famine. He was too good an historian, however, not to know that any term may be easily spread out in this manner. It would be easy to lead his audience to an hospital, to represent the weeping mother and the bleeding child; but representations of this kind would apply to legitimate as well as to illegitimate horror. He commenced his examination of this subject, as some of his friends well knew, with the hope that the construction of the Treaty did not bind to the blockade of Norway; but, after diligent examination, the conclusion on his mind 851 was, that the Treaty was binding in the sense he should explain. It was said, that all our engagements with Sweden were directed against Denmark, not against Norway. Norway, it would appear, started up a new being, with all the properties of an independent kingdom about her; and it was said, that she was represented as such in the Treaty. It was true, that in all the articles of the Treaty between Sweden and Russia, there was an ostentatious putting forth of the kingdom of Norway. The word cession, however, was not to be found in the Treaty. The stipulation was, that Russia should effect the union of Norway and Sweden, not that she should procure the cession from Denmark. To this Treaty, Great Britain acceded; and Sweden was careful to bind her, not against opposing any obstacle to the annexation, but to active co-operation. Could there be any co-operation in merely procuring the cession from Denmark? The lofty ships of Britain could not climb the mountains of Norway, to effect such co-operation. How then was she to employ her ships for that object, but by blockade? They who wielded the weapons of war, however they might feel for the miseries they inflicted, were obliged, notwithstanding, to employ them. Part of the Treaty with Sweden was, that this country should contribute to the annexation of Norway; keeping in view, as much as possible, the liberty and happiness of Norway. These words proved, that mere cession on the part of Denmark was not the only thing to which Great Britain was bound. If Denmark acceded to the coalition then forming, that would have freed this country from the obligation; but Denmark did not do so until she lost all her possessions on the continent. The Treaty between Sweden and this country, as it regarded Norway, could only be softened by the previous accession of Denmark to the coalition. Sweden stood better, with respect to her object, before than after the Treaty: for before the Treaty this country was bound to assist her by immediate force—this Sweden exchanged for a distant and contingent aid. That this country might co-operate with Russia, Sweden, and Denmark, was indispensable to cement the alliance. Denmark could not be prevailed upon to do it. Sweden then was the only country that remained by which this object could be obtained. The point to which he called the attention of the House, when he op- 852 posed the Treaty with Sweden, was, that the war with Norway might survive a peace in all other parts of Europe; and he then moved an amendment, with a view to this difficulty, which was negatived. The Treaty was sanctioned, and the hazard was disregarded. He did not then—no man could then—look for the events which had since taken place. No man could look for such an overwhelming accomplishment of the hopes and desires of Europe; but, at least, he saw the possibility of it. That the Treaty was fulfilled on the part of Sweden, no man could doubt. She kept 30,000 men in the field; and if the co-operation of Russia with Sweden produced such beneficial effects to Europe, her services were not now to be estimated lightly. Even the words of Austria herself proved that Sweden had performed her part. She represented the alliance between Sweden and Russia as the circumstance which saved Europe.—This one sentence from Austria was sufficient testimony of the services of Sweden. The question was not now, whether the engagements were wise; but it was at least a fact, that the engagements between Russia, Sweden, and England, were what led to the present state of Europe. It would be ungracious, if, in the moment of difficulty, Sweden was called upon to fulfil her part of the Treaty; and when the difficulty and danger were removed, the other party refused to fulfil theirs. Wise politicians should go back to consider the value of engagements. If they held back the price of her services from Sweden, on the plea of immorality, that immorality was as apparent when the Treaty was entered into as now, and it was then deliberately agreed to. This being his view of the case, he wished to lay out of his consideration the general arguments which had been employed. As to the cession on the part of Denmark, it was an otiosa questio. The cession by Denmark did not alter the nature of the case.—They were not at the time of the Treaty, nor were they since, at peace with Norway. The first part of the declaration of Prince Christian himself proved this; wherein he said, that he then gave the Norwegians peace with Great Britain. This was dated on the 14th of January. Prince Christian was not to take advantage only of the first article of the Treaty, and entirely neglect the 10th. He and the people of Norway had a right to oppose the cession; but did that take away the right to enforce 853 it on the part of those who had stipulated for its enforcement? He was not one of those who had cried up the man that stands upon the steps of the Swedish throne. Having, therefore, never given an opinion upon his merits, he had nothing to unsay. He was, however, now free to confess, that he had been over-rated and raised too high; but he must also confess that he did not think so lowly of him as some among his former admirers. On the subject of a guarantee, his opinion having been adverted to, he would use a few words. As a mode of ascertaining the real sense of the Treaty, he had compared it with others, particularly the Partition Treaty, which bears a closer resemblance than any other. By that Treaty the contracting parties undertake to put each other in possession of the territories severally allotted to them, by force, if necessary, and so far he considered the Treaty with Sweden equally binding upon England. But the Partition Treaty goes farther, and guarantees the security of the possessions, whereas there is no such clause in the present Treaty. It is not therefore commensurate with, and equally extensive as the Partition Treaty. It goes only to the putting of Sweden into possession. He regretted that it went even so far, and would be glad to pay any price in our power to get rid of the obligation; but he could not consent to allow the good faith of the country to be called in question, and therefore could not agree to the motion.
§ Mr. Whitbread
said, from the anxious feeling expressed by the right hon. gentleman that Great Britain should be freed from the odious obligation she had contracted—from the vehemence with which he declared, that there was no price which he would not willingly pay to get rid of the condition imposed upon her—it did appear to him, that he would have proposed a motion precisely similar to that before the House. Now, what price did those who supported that motion call upon the crown to pay, in order to relieve the country from so unpleasant a situation? They only requested that good offices might be resorted to—they only demanded that the Norwegians should be rescued from the horrible alternative of a yoke they detested—or the less horrible choice of famine!.—He said, the less horrible choice, because, sooner than submit to Sweden, he was convinced they would perish. He was always extremely happy 854 when the right hon. gentleman coincided with him in opinion—and he regretted very much that, on the present occasion, their sentiments were opposed to each other. Had the right hon. gentleman taken that side of the question which he (Mr. Whitbread) supported, he was sure the friends to the motion would have derived great advantage from his eloquence, and from the facility with which he persuaded others to adopt the opinions he had himself formed. But, on that night, the abilities of the right hon. gentleman appeared to be tied down and trammelled by the view he had taken of the subject; and if any young member, who had heard much of his powers, attended the House in the expectation that he would witness a great display of eloquence, he must have been miserably disappointed. He would say, after he had heard the speech of the right hon. gentleman, that he certainly must have forgotten himself! His little metaphors—his pebbly stream—his rushing torrent—his dark clouds—his tempestuous atmosphere—fell very far short of those bold flights of imagination to which he sometimes rose—and to which he would, no doubt, have risen that evening, but that the subject fettered and confined his genius. It did appear to him, that the right hon. gentleman had misquoted the Treaty—particularly when he contended that it bound Great Britain to the fulfilment of terms such as were never before exacted from any state. He felt with those who supported the motion, that every means ought to be taken to inflame the House, and if not the House, the people at large, to go to the foot of the throne, and to exclaim against a participation in an act which sullied the hitherto unspotted character of the country. Many gentlemen had expressed a wish to find, upon examination, that Great Britain was not bound by this iniquitous Treaty. He was convinced that we were not bound by it—and, if we chose to commence hostilities against Norway, we should do it gratuitously—for there was nothing in the Treaty that bound us to such an act—we were as free as air on that subject. He would beg leave to bring the recollection of the right hon. gentleman back to the origin of the Treaty; and, in doing so, he could not avoid observing, that he had confined himself to a scrupulous examination of particular words, instead of looking to the general complexion of the measure, 855 When the original treaty was entered into between Sweden and Russia, it did not arise from any apprehension that the former country would be invaded by Denmark, through Norway (for these powers were then at peace); but the fact was, that Russia, to indemnify Sweden for the loss of Finland, offered to guarantee Norway to her as an equivalent. But, said the right hon. gentleman, England stepped in just at that time, and, in consequence, the stipulations of that treaty were postponed until other operations had taken place. But, if the right hon. gentleman would consult the dates of the different treaties, he would find that this was not the fact. What, he would ask, did England agree to do? To obtain the cession of Norway from Denmark—and in case the king of Denmark refused, or declined joining the Allies, in that event, to make use of force. The junction which ultimately did take place between the king of Denmark and the Allies, after the former had been deprived of great part of his dominions, was not, be was willing to allow, of that description which was originally contemplated, and which would allow him to say to the Allies, "I have joined you, according to your own conditions, and, therefore, you cannot call upon me to cede Norway." But Denmark having, as far as she could, ceded that country, we were completely freed from the operation of the condition into which we had entered. The honourable gentleman had alluded to the Partition Treaty, as a proof that territories were occasionally ceded. He might have adverted, with the same view, to the Treaty at present in progress. Innumerable instances might be adduced, where cessions were made, and no resistance was offered them; but would the right hon. gentleman contend, that, where a people were absolved from their allegiance, they had not a right to form a government for themselves, and to resist those who endeavoured to prevent them? There was not a people on the face of the earth, to whom that right did not belong. And, when a nation, like Norway, secured from attack, on one side by its mountains, and on the other by its iron-bound coasts—inhabited by a brave, hardy, and, he hoped, a free people, determined to assert that right, every man who possessed any claim to patriotism ought to applaud them. That people had expressed to their sovereign the king of Denmark, their determi- 856 nation to submit to all the horrors of war and famine, sooner than become the subjects of Sweden; at length Denmark was obliged, the sword being put to her throat, to cede the country. Under these circumstances, were not the Norwegians fully justified in renouncing the throne of Denmark, in declaring they would never return to it, and in opposing the yoke of Sweden, which they viewed with detestation? The right hon. gentleman said, the word 'cession' was not used in the Treaty—there the term 'annexation' was alone to be found. He was really surprised that a gentleman possessing such a comprehensive mind should have recourse to such a petty distinction. But, if he looked to the Treaty entered into at Kiel, on the 10th of January last, he would find in the 10th article, that the cession of Norway was expressly mentioned. By that article, it was admitted, that the king of Denmark had fulfilled the stipulation into which he had entered, to give up Norway; and therefore the business was entirely taken out of our hands. The right hon. gentleman spoke of Prince Christian as a rebel to the crown of Denmark. Now, it was true, he might have forfeited that crown; but still he had acted as every patriotic man should do, when called upon by a brave people struggling for their rights, regardless of personal consequences, to put himself at their head. He had conducted himself with a degree of fortitude and magnanimity which shewed that he was worthy of ruling over a free nation. Now, suppose England was placed in a situation so unfortunate, that, to retrieve herself, she should be obliged to cede Ireland to a foreign enemy—in such a case, was there an Irishman whose indignant heart would not burst at the mere mention of such a degrading transfer, And, when they had before them those heroes who had achieved such glories in Spain and Portugal (the greater number of whom, he believed, were natives of Ireland), could it, be doubted, that the people of that country would find leaders who would establish their independence in spite of the world? The hon. gentleman then proceeded to argue, that "the man now on the steps of the throne of Sweden" (as Mr. Canning termed him) had not given that effective co-operation to the allied powers which he had stipulated to do; and, therefore, upon that ground, as the conditions entered into by Sweden were not fulfilled, we could not be fairly 857 called upon, allowing that we were otherwise bound, to compel Norway to receive a new sovereign, to carry that stipulation into effect. He should like to hear what sir C. Stewart, or marshal Blucher, would say upon the subject of the assistance granted by Sweden. The gentlemen who argued on the other side appeared very unwilling to examine this point. Yes, although the right horn gentleman would give any price to free this country from the trammels of the Treaty, yet neither be, nor any of those who coincided in opinion with him, thought it all necessary to examine whether Sweden had performed her part of the contract. He then proceeded to argue on the inconsistency of supporting the Spanish people, who were transferred by the act of their sovereign to France, but who opposed that transfer; and yet, in the case of Norway, not only refusing to assist her exertions, but absolutely using force to crush them.—What did the inhabitants of that country want? They did not ask for arms or ammunition. They only requested barley and oats—the coarsest fare contented them—their luxuries were of so humble a nature, that the people of this country would scorn to put up with them, even on the most meagre days. Surely Great Britain would not stain her national character, by refusing such a demand. The learned gentleman (Mr. Stephen) made a number of observations that greatly surprised him. With respect to his half pious and half profane illustration of his argument, about throwing down the gauntlet to Divine Providence, which the Almighty would certainly take up, he should say nothing—But he would tell the learned gentleman, that, although he appeared very moderate, although he was by no means wicked, yet his tender mercies (as developed in his speech that night) seemed to be most cruel. If he had not been well acquainted with the learned gentleman's voice and manner, he never could have supposed, that the identical man whom he had heard descanting on the miseries of the Slave Trade was the individual who that night laboured to shew the necessity of starving the Norwegians! If he did not know him well, he should have supposed him to be one of those friends of freedom and happiness, who, some years ago, were in the habit of stating to the House, that the natives of Africa ought to be transported from their barbarous country to taste of liberty and comfort in the West Indies. If he were 858 not perfectly convinced, that the learned gentleman abhorred the French Revolution, he should that night have mistaken him for one of the old constituent body, offering the people of Norway a new form of government, with the book in one hand, and the sword in the other. He called upon the House to examine, and to spurn from them, this hardened, this unfeeling, this iron kindness! He wished to God a flame of fire would enter every breast in that House, and in the country, and excite the utmost energies of the people in behalf of the Norwegians, for whose success he most fervently prayed. In conclusion, the hon. gentleman observed, that those who thought the Treaty was binding, and those who had formed a different opinion, might concur in the present motion, which only went to procure a pause from action, before this country proceeded to hostile measures.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
contended, that this country was bound, in compliance with the stipulations in her Treaty with Sweden, to put the Crown Prince in possession of Norway. He remarked, that the Crown Prince had fulfilled all the terms which had been proposed to him by Denmark for this cession—he abandoned the fortresses which he had taken, advanced a considerable sum of money, and, in fact, had neglected no one of those acts which were necessary to entitle him to the fulfilment of the contract on the part of the king of Denmark. Not so with the king of Denmark; he had not acted with that good faith, which it was just he should have done; and hence arose the necessity, as well as the duty of this country, to take care that her ally received that recompence for her sacrifices which she had a right to expect. The right hon. gentleman on the floor (Mr. Canning) had put the subject on the proper ground; and acquiescing as he did in the arguments that right hon. gentleman had adduced, he did not think it necessary longer to occupy the attention of the House.
said, the right hon. gentleman who had just sat down had said, that his right hon. friend (Mr. Canning) had put this question upon its proper ground—that was to say, we had entered into a Treaty to secure the possession of Norway to Sweden, and to employ our naval force in the attainment of that object. This was the first time that he had heard any nation could bind itself to an act of 859 tyranny and injustice. No doubt, if a treaty was entered into, whether inconvenient or onerous, we were bound to abide by its stipulations. If we had undertaken to pay a sum of money, if the last shilling was wrung from the pockets of the nation by taxes, it ought to be and should be paid. If we had undertaken to give to Sweden commercial advantages, however incompatible with our own interests and those of posterity, that stipulation ought to be religiously performed; but no stipulation could be binding which was contrary to justice itself. Who had ever heard that it was right to do that which was in itself wrong, and which was destructive of the natural rights of nations? He denied that it had ever been in the contemplation of this country to use force towards the Norwegians; all that was intended was, to force Denmark to cede Norway to Sweden, and this had been effectually done. With respect to the Treaty itself, which had been first entered into between Russia and Sweden, and to which Great Britain had afterwards acceded, he considered it as one which, in point of atrocity, had not been equalled by any former transaction of mankind. In confirmation of this remark, it was only necessary to refer to the speech of the right hon. gentleman opposite (Mr. Canning), who, although he had opposed the motion of his hon; friend (Mr. W. Wynn), had not hesitated to say, that there was no sacrifice which he would not make to be freed from the obligations of this Treaty. These obligations were, notwithstanding their revolting nature, he would repeat, fully performed. Denmark had ceded, by compulsion indeed, her rights over the sovereignty of Norway; but the Norwegians themselves, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said, refused to sanction this transfer; they had, as they were entitled to do, resisted the oppression with which they were threatened: and, although they were justly so resisting, the navy of this country was to be employed to force them to obedience. Such a misapplication of the British arms, he contended, had not been stipulated for, and, consequently, ought not to be permitted. It had been said, that this was an illusory construction of the Treaty; and it was contended, that we were bound to see Norway annexed to Sweden. As far as the cession of the sovereignty of Denmark could go, that annexation had been accomplished, and not one step further was 860 this country bound to go. The king of Denmark had ceded his sovereignty, had ceded his rights over Norway, and, as far as he could force her people, had compelled them to become the slaves of a nation for which they felt the strongest hatred. The people themselves had, however, refused to sanction the transfer. It had been said, that Prince Christian had been instrumental to this spirit of resistance; and it had been further insinuated, that the Danish government themselves had, in an underhand manner, given encouragement to the feelings which had been displayed. If this had been the case, let Prince Christian be punished—let Denmark be again visited by the ravages of war; but there was no principle of justice or humanity which could bind this country to perform towards Norway an act of national injustice. [The Chancellor of the Exchequer here said across the table, "Our good faith ought"]—Our good faith (said Mr. Ponsonby) might call upon us to perform stipulations inconsistent with our interests, but nothing could authorise us to commit an act of downright tyranny and oppression. What would be the state of the human race, if governments were allowed to transfer their subjects at pleasure, and if no right to resist such transfers existed? Would it not be degraded—fallen—contemptible? The present case was not new to the people of England—they had always been ready to assist nations struggling for their own liberty.—What had happened on the partition of Poland? What was the conduct which England then pursued? When the partitioning powers entered Poland, Stanislaus Sobieski, overwhelmed and alarmed by the force with which he was surrounded, called a diet, and gave up to the empress Catharine of Russia all that she required. Did the people of Poland subscribe to this sacrifice? No; a great part of the Polish nation, led by Poniatowski, determined to maintain the independence and the liberty of their country, and made long and glorious struggles for that purpose. That conduct was not thought, by England, rebellious. That was not deemed a perfidious act. No; but it received the approbation, the countenance, and the sympathy of this country. Our merchants, our bankers, and our traders, assembled together, with their lord mayor at their, head, and in a few days subscribed a large sum of money to support a people, 861 who, in despite of their own government, refused to be transferred. True it was, the brave and gallant people were at length overcome; but though they had failed, no man who had ever written said, that in what they did, they had not done right. No man had been heard to say, that the assistance of this country had been improperly bestowed. A later instance had been afforded in the case of the inhabitants of Tyrol, who, when transferred by the Austrians to the French, refused to be thus transferred, and, headed by Hoffer, a poor innkeeper to be sure, but a man that was not to be terrified by dangers however great, or opposition however powerful, resisted the slavery to which they were destined, and bravely fought for that liberty which had been so basely bartered. They, however, unfortunately shared the fate of Poland, and were obliged to yield to their conquerors. No man, however, had thought that they were not justified in their conduct. This country felt for the Tyrolese as they had for the Poles, and had contributed by pecuniary means towards their encouragement; and it was then, as it ever would be, maintained as an incontrovertible truth, that the right of resistance under such circumstances was common to all mankind. It might be said, as with Corsica, that such resistance was foolish and imprudent; but its folly or its imprudence did not lessen the noble motives from which it had arisen. So now with respect to the people of Norway, whom it was falsely stated we were bound by a treaty to starve into compliance, it was an act of tyranny which we had ever been the instruments to oppose. Starvation was, in fact, the only way in which war was to be made upon these unfortunate people. They had no fleets, they had no commerce, to which our efforts could be directed—and now the navy of England—that navy which had swept the seas of every other navy in the world—so great, so glorious, so triumphant, was to be employed in starving the inhabitants of Norway into compliance with a demand inconsistent with all moral and natural obligations, and directly at variance with those principles of which Great Britain had at all times been the champion. Here would be a charming service on which to send a lord Nelson. It might be said, that first-rate ships would not be employed in this honourable warfare. Perhaps, then, captain Broke, and his gal- 862 lant crew, who had humbled the pride of the American navy, and in fifteen minutes had forced the Chesapeake to strike to his superior skill and bravery, would be sent to assist in starving an independent, free, and gallant nation into submission and slavery—a glorious reward for such an officer—a pleasant employment for the naval force of England! It was in vain to disguise from themselves the truth of this matter. The Treaty which had been acceded to was iniquitous and unjust. The stipulations, however, it was clear had been complied with, and there was no tie of honour or honesty by which we were bound to do more than had been done. We could, arraign other countries for their offences—we could be loud in our condemnation of acts of injustice committed by other states; but he knew not whether Buonaparte, in the plenitude of all his power—in the full exercise of all his despotism, had ever committed an act of such atrocity as that of which we were now the abettors. Whatever we might think of ourselves—whatever judgment we might pass upon our own conduct—the rest of the world could not but pronounce us unjust, unprincipled, inhuman; and that England, which amidst so many storms of adversity had maintained her dignity—that England, which had ever stood foremost in the chastisement of injustice—that England, which had heretofore supported the highest rank in the civilized world, was about to do that which would sully her name and sully her glory for ever!
§ Mr. Wilberforce
was compelled, from a sense of duty, to resist the motion, on the ground stated by his right hon. friend (Mr. Canning). He gave ministers credit for their good intentions; yet he could not admit that the proceeding towards Norway was just or liberal. On those principles which he had ever observed, and on which he had formerly deprecated the Slave Trade, he considered the partitioning of states against their will a most despotic sacrifice of public rights. He hoped his Majesty's ministers, who did not appear to be the projectors of this cession, would do all they could to avert the calamities of the Norwegians. There was no sacrifice that he would not make, to prevent an act of such flagrant injustice.
§ Lord John Russell spoke in favour of the Address; as did Mr. W. Smith.
§ Mr. Bathurst
spoke in favour of the 863 measures adopted by his Majesty's ministers, and in support of the necessity of Great Britain placing Norway in the possession of Sweden.
§ Sir Thomas D. Acland
, although from the first moment he saw the Treaty with Sweden, he felt for it the utmost detestation, yet felt himself bound to say, that its stipulations ought to be carried into effect; and, therefore, reluctantly he must oppose the motion of his hon. friend. Before he sat down, however, he begged he might be permitted to state some information which came within his own personal knowledge, and which might have some weight with his Majesty's ministers. At this time, and the whole of the next month, was the seed-time in Norway. The inhabitants, he believed, had scarcely sufficient to sow the land for a crop; and yet he feared that even this little their necessities would oblige them to devote to their present sustenance, whereby hereafter they would inevitably be reduced to famine. This circumstance, he conceived, ought to induce some relaxation towards these unhappy people. Though we were bound by our Treaty to co-operate with our naval force in attaining the objects of Sweden, we were not bound to carry on the war with the utmost rigour. There were no sinews of war to be crippled, no commerce to be impeded; all that could be done was, to starve not alone the rich but the poor—the soldier and the peasant—the women and the children—the infirm and the aged. These were circumstances which ought not to be forgotten—we should not lose sight of the miseries which were inflicted on the innocent.—He had himself, while a prisoner in Norway, experienced the greatest kindness and liberality; and at a time when this country was making her attack on Copenhagen, when every family in Norway was anxious for the fate of some one of their relatives and friends, and when the post by which that intelligence was to be conveyed was stopped by our cruizers, he, accompanied by others, passed through the streets of Christianstadt, amidst crowds of the enquiring and anxious inhabitants, yet not one of them received the slightest insult. Again, at a period when the king of Denmark had forbidden, under the most severe penalties, all communication with England, or connection with English mercantile houses, he, among others, went to a Norwegian merchant to apply 864 for money—when they were told, bills upon England were prohibited; but the person to whom they addressed themselves expressed his love and veneration for England; he called it the friend and protector of his country, and, without hesitation, gave up his money without security, saying, "You are Englishmen; I know you will be honourable." Such were the sentiments entertained of, and confidence placed in, this country by Norway; and he could not but lament, that we were now repaying that confidence by the blackest ingratitude.
Mr. C. W. Wynn
now rose, amid loud cries of Question! and having shortly replied to the arguments which had been urged against him, a division took place—when the numbers were:
For the Address 71 Against it 229 Majority — 158
|List of the Minority.|
|Aubrey, sir John||Mackintosh, sir. J.|
|Abercromby, hon. J.||Monck, sir C.|
|Anson, general||Melgund, lord|
|Baring, sir T.||Moore, P.|
|Burdett, sir F.||Mostyn, sir T.|
|Bernard, Scrope||Mewport, Sir J.|
|Bewick, col.||Nugent, lord|
|Bennet, hon. H.||North, D.|
|Brand, hon. T.||Ord, W.|
|Creevey, T.||O'Hara, C.|
|Combe, H.||Ponsonby, rt. hon. G.|
|Calvert, C.||Piggot, sir A.|
|Campbell, hon. J.||Phillips, G.|
|Campbell, lord J.||Prittie, hon. F.|
|Dundas, hon. L.||Parnell, sir H.|
|Douglas, hon. S.||Paulet, hon. V.|
|Ebrington, lord||Ridley, sir M.|
|Foley, T.||Romilly, sir S.|
|Fremantle, W. H.||Rancliff, lord|
|Fitzgerald, lord W.||Rowley, sir W.|
|Greenhill, R.||Russell, lord J.|
|Grant, J. P.||Smith, J.|
|Gordon, R.||Smith, J. Cambridge University.|
|Guise, Sir W.||Stanley, lord|
|Hamilton, sir H.||Scudamore, R.|
|Horner, F.||Tierney, rt. hon. G.|
|Halsey, J.||Tavistock, marquis of|
|Hughes, W.||Whitbread, S.|
|Hornby, E.||Williams, O.|
|Howard, H.||Wharton, J.|
|Lambton, J. G.||Western, C.|
|Lloyd, M.||Winnington, sir T.|
|Lemon, sir W.||Williams, sir R.|
|Leader, W.||Wynn, C. W.|
|Martin, H.||Smith, W.|