HC Deb 20 June 1821 vol 5 cc1222-8
Mr. Hutchinson

said, that his object, in making the present motion, was, to support the cause of liberty all over Europe—that liberty which was seriously threatened by the conduct of the allied sovereigns. Indeed, he thought that the present state of Europe was most awful. He would refer back, but not in detail, to those events which had, in his view of the subject, been carried on for years, for the purpose of subverting liberty, and which had produced that confusion and dismay which now existed in many parts of the continent. If the allied sovereigns pursued the conduct lately pursued by them, and if the noble marquis opposite went on supporting them as he had done, instead of opposing their proceedings, then he would say that the noble marquis and his colleagues, were abetting and supporting that system which would, if not checked in time, be productive of the most fatal results. The whole of the continental system, of which the noble marquis was an active supporter, was in violation of all the principles upon which this country had engaged in the late wars. In 1793, it was declared by this country, in a declaration of ministers, that its object was, to put down military aggression. It was said that both the throne and the altar of this country were in danger, in consequence of what took place in France at that period. The same principles were pretended to be acted upon in the war of 1803. We engaged in that war, as it was said, to protect the liberties of mankind, and for the purpose of protecting the independence of the minor states of Europe. The same thing was repeated in 1814–15; but the peace of 1814–15 was in direct violation of the principles upon which we made war in 1793 and in 1803—wars which were carried on with the loss of so much blood and treasure. If the House would refer to the Treaty of Vienna, they would see that the peace was made on principles of spoliation and oppression. Belgium was given to Holland; the territories of Hanover were increased; Prussia was aggrandized by the annexation of a part of Saxony; Venice was given to Austria; Genoa was given to Sardinia; and the liberties of Sicily were destroyed. What, then, was this but a peace of spoliation? It was said that the overthrow of Buonaparte would put down tyranny. He had hoped that the sovereigns, profiting by experience, would have rewarded their subjects by restoring to them those rights which belonged to them, as they had solemnly sworn to do. But how did they proceed? The noble lord would say that he was not accountable for the conduct of the allied sovereigns. But the noble lord had made himself a party to those acts, as, according to the papers before him, the allied sovereigns declared that their whole proceedings were founded on the principles laid down at the Congress of Vienna, and that in those principles they were determined to persevere. What were those principles? Naples wished to establish, and did establish a, free constitution, Austria and Russia interfered, and what was the consequence? They put down the feelings and wishes of the people, and restored things to their former situa- tion. He maintained, that the object of the allies was aggrandizement. There was not in Europe a more ambitious power than Russia. The noble lord knew that the military establishments both of Russia and Austria were immense, and he (Mr. H.) maintained, that their only object was, to tyrannize over smaller states. The hon. member complained that ministers had not only done every thing in their power to countenance the holy alliance, but they had, in fact, endeavoured in some measure to imitate them in the measures introduced here. We had repeated suspensions of the Habeas Corpus act; ministers refused all inquiry into the most desperate outrage that had been committed upon the people of any country; we had also the bills of the noble lord, throwing the greatest difficulties in the way of the right of petition. They had also that system of espionage which had been encouraged of late years to a most lamentable extent; and lastly, they had that dreadful combination (the Constitutional Association) to which the names of men of rank and fortune, of peers and members of parliament were attached, by which the system was encouraged and carried on. The hon. member next condemned in strong terms the introduction of the Alien bill, which he observed was only for the purpose of making ministers the head police officers of the continental sovereigns, and to enable them the more effectually to carry on their despotic designs. He next adverted to a report which had reached him of an Italian priest, who, on his return from St. Helena, had been prevented from landing in this country. The noble lord had stigmatized those Italians, who struggled for liberty, with the name of Carbonari. He might as well call the hon. member for Aberdeen and those other members who sought to reform abuses here, the Carbonari of England; those who pointed out abuses in Ireland, the Carbonari of that country: and so of the friends of liberty in France, Germany, or any other part of Europe. He next alluded to the detention of Buonaparte in St. Helena, and condemned, the part which this country had taken in that transaction. It was said, that Napoleons detention in prison was to put down tyranny—but had it that effect? How could a pretence of this kind be urged, when the allies were daily committing acts of the greatest tyranny, without even a shadow of those excuses which might be pleaded for Napoleon? Had that imprisonment given peace or satisfaction to Europe? Were not Austria and Russia, in interfering with Naples, and in objecting to the constitution of Spain, guilty of greater tyranny than Buonaparte? Upon what ground, then, could we pretend to continue any longer the gaolers of that individual?—Adverting to the declaration from Troppau, he wished to know whether the noble lord approved of that paper? He did not hesitate to declare, that it was as unqualified tyranny as had ever been promulgated. The declaration from Laybach began by stating, that the conduct of the allies was founded upon the principles laid down at the Congress of Vienna. The hon. gentleman, after commenting on this state paper, observed, that, if he could suppose that the ministers of this country were to make an open attempt to put down the liberties of the people, the governments of Austria and of Russia, acting upon the principles avowed by those powers, would aid them in such an attempt, and would treat the people of England, if they resisted, as rebels. If the noble lord would, in such a case, send out ships, those legitimate monarchs would be ready to send over troops to crush the spirit of liberty. There could be no doubt but that the leading principle of the allied monarchs was, to suppress every attempt to correct ancient abuses, or to enlarge the liberties of mankind. Russia would have sent its mercenaries into Spain, with as much readiness as Austria sent her troops to Naples, if circumstances had not rendered such a step hazardous for the present. The hon. gentleman next adverted to the present state of Greece. Russia had an immense army hanging upon that country; and Austria had another prepared to march. No person could contemplate without horror, the atrocity perpetrated by the barbarous Turk in that devoted country; but much as he should rejoice to see the Greeks relieved from slavery, he was not yet satisfied with the conduct of Austria and Russia; the object of those powers was, not to give freedom to Greece, but by availing herself of the present commotion, Russia looked for an ascendancy in the states of Greece.—The hon. gentleman next adverted to the present state of Naples. Her gaols were filled with thousands of persons whose only crime was, that they acted under the authority of their king, whom the allied monarchs had, in the most disgraceful manner summoned before them at Laybach. All these odious proceedings were adopted under the eye of the Austrian force. Much as he deplored the present distresses of the country, he yet did riot see how England could any longer tolerate the insolent pretensions of foreign powers: better by far would it be for her to speak her sentiments boldly and openly at once; for if she remained silent much longer, Europe in all probability would suffer unheard of convulsions. The noble lord wanted peace; but peace purchased by an acquiescence in all the acts of ambitious and unprincipled governments, was not the peace for England. With respect to Spain, he believed that all the troubles of that country were to be attributed to the hostile views of the allies. The people were not, could not be contented. Europe must, indeed it ought to be, convulsed. If he were a subject of any of those countries which had been attacked, he would sooner die than submit. The allied powers made the proceedings at the Congress of Vienna, to which the noble lord was a party, the groundwork of their subsequent policy. It remained for the noble lord to disavow any participation in their acts—in their aggressions on independent states—in their barbarous proscription—in their undisguised hostility to the liberties of the world. The hon. gentleman concluded with moving, "That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, stating to his Majesty, that this House, the Representatives of a free and enlightened people, has witnessed with the greatest concern and alarm the events which have lately taken place on the Continent of Europe; and also the open and insulting avowal of pretensions as novel as they are dangerous, and which are in direct opposition to the principles of our own Revolution, and to the independence of all other nations; and humbly requesting his Majesty to use his influence and authority to secure to the Minor States of Europe their undoubted, and till now undisputed right to choose their own form of Government; and also, to remonstrate with his Majesty's Allies on the assumption of powers never before claimed, which introduce new principles into the Laws of Nations, in direct opposition to all former practice and precedent, and which, if persevered in and acted upon, would not only prevent the establishment of all rational liberty, but tend to render perpetual despotisms of the worst kind.

The Marquis of Londonderry

hoped the horn gentleman would not consider him wanting in respect, if he declined to follow him in his general attack upon the foreign and domestic policy of the government of this country for the last thirty years. He should consider the motion and the statement which accompanied it, as a protest against the policy pursued by the government in its domestic and foreign relations. With respect to himself, the hon. gentleman attributed to him a station of more importance in those transactions than properly belonged to him. He for a great part of the period which the views of the hon. gentleman embraced was not in a station which could enable him to influence the policy of the country. It certainly might be a satisfaction to the hon. gentleman to put upon record his protest, but more he could not do, because it was utterly impossible for the House to come to any conclusion upon the various topics touched on. The hon. gentleman ascribed to the government something like a disposition to encourage tyranny. He would only say, that whilst he considered the policy of government in a very different point of view from the hon. gentleman, he was yet as sincere a friend to rational liberty as the hon. gentleman or any other man. That House were the natural guardians of the liberties of England, not the regulators of the policy or conduct of other countries. However anxious this country might be to see the principles of liberty diffused, they surely could not wish to see the government take up every state paper issued by other governments to censure and disapprove of it. He protested against the mode of review adopted by the hon. member; and as the hon. member had protested against the system of government in this country, the House could not do better than leave the subject with protest against protest.

Sir. R. Wilson

said, the noble lord forgot that the manifestoes and documents alluded to were accompanied with arms, with invasion and occupation, with bloodshed and oppression. The allied powers stood condemned, not by documents, but by acts. They showed their love of independence by invading independent nations. They testified their love of liberty by proscribing a whole nation of the damnable heresy of a constitutional creed. They consigned to punishment in Italy more persons in two months, than the French government had done in two years. Their liberty of the press was, to suffer no book to be printed but at the government press. Their attachment to monarchy was manifested by placing on a throne, one who left his people pledged to support their rights, and returned to consign them to death or imprisonment. The allied powers had declared that they would recognize no change but such as should emanate from the well-weighed consideration of those whom God had made responsible for the exercise of power. This restored monarch was one of the enlightened persons whom God thus made responsible. As a proof of his enlightened wisdom he appointed two chambers, and reserved to himself to reward the second according to their services. This was the constitution which this enlightened and responsible monarch gave. It was a select vestry government. Such had been the treachery of that government, that all the circumstances of the dispersion of the army, had been the subject of official communications to the courts of foreign nations. He would support the motion of his hon. friend.

After a short reply, the House divided: Ayes, 28; Noes, 117.

List of the Minority.
Abercromby, hon. J. Maberly, W. L.
Allen, J. H. Macdonald, J.
Bennet, hon. H. G. Martin, J.
Bury, lord Monck, J. B.
Birch, Jos. Moore, Ab.
Carter, J. Ord, W.
Calcraft, J. Ossulston, lord
Duncannon, visct. Palmer, C. F.
Folkestone, visct. Rice, T. S.
Griffiths, J. W. Scarlett, J.
Haldimand, W. Sykes, D.
Harbord, hon. E. Whitbread, W.
Hume, Jos. Whitbread, S. C.
Honywood, W. P. TELLERS.
James, W. Hutchinson, hon. C.
Maberly, J. Wilson, sir R.