rose to make his promised motion. He began by saying, that no one, he apprehended, could entertain an expectation, or desire that communications of such momentous importance as those which had lately been laid, by his majesty's command, before both Houses of Parliament, and which had by this time found their way, as he hoped, into the hands of all his majesty's subjects, and which, if he mistook not, contained matter which would make them cling with redoubled zeal to those principles which they had previously avowed—no person, he thought, could desire that such papers should remain longer on the table of that House, unnoticed and unacknowledged. It might be well that they had not proceeded until the warmth of public feeling had in some degree abated; it might be well that they had delayed the expression of their opinion until they had recovered from the impression of their first feelings on reading matters from which their hearts so totally revolted—feelings of surprise and disgust which could never be entirely removed, though the papers were 1302 to lie before them until the dust covered them—feelings which could never wholly abandon them, as long as the people retained the name or the affections of Britons. He stood forward, though surrounded by many honourable friends, much better qualified for the task, to invite from the House an expression of the sentiments of the people of England, with regard to the recent negotiations, and to implore them to give effect to those sentiments, promptly, frankly, and fearlessly. They had arrived at one of those peculiar periods in a nation's affairs, when wisdom and sound policy required of them to review the past conduct of the government, and look well into their present condition—to see whether they had not placed themselves—to use the expressive language of the duke of Wellington—"in a false position; whether their influence and situation were those which they wished to possess, which before now they did possess, and which they still might and ought to possess, relatively to the other powers of Europe; or whether they had lost or departed from that station, and if they had done so, to what causes the change was to be attributed.
The House would, perhaps, allow him briefly to recall their recollection to the circumstances which had brought the country into the situation in which it at present stood. The war which commenced in 1793, and terminated in 1815 had driven the country from its natural situation, and had left it associated with all the despotic governments of the continent. He had nothing to say now upon the policy or the objects of that war. Differing from many upon the question with regard to the necessity of going into that war, he might for the sake of argument allow, that the policy of that war could not be called in question. But would that lead him to concur with M. de Chateaubriand, that the present interference of the French with Spain presented a case of the same nature as that which had in 1793, provoked the interference of the English government? The slightest reference to the authentic records of that period would lead to a directly reverse conclusion. This reminded him of the memorable words of a right hon. gentleman pronounced in that, House, during the last war:—"I fear the enemy less than our allies: do not deceive yourselves: you do not mean the same thing: you are engaged for the protection of the 1303 liberties of nations; but your allies against liberty itself. In the progress of that war, if there had been a period which united the hearts of all persons in this country, was that period when resistance to French tyranny in Spain began. The people then said in effect "Whether, the Bourbons or the Buonapartes prevail—Tros Tyriusve—is, comparatively, of small importance to us; but the neck of free Spain shall not become the footstool of the French monarchy." The war ended, and he wished he could say that the French people had been restored to the enjoyment of their liberties. But that he could not say, so long as they were without a free press. We had, however, by our bayonets, twice replaced the Bourbons upon their tottering throne. But that which followed was scarcely less afflicting than the circumstances of the war. Then succeeded a scrambling for territory; a cutting and parcelling out of lands and people, to make way for the families of the ancient monarchies, which had disgusted mankind. We were, unfortunately, too much mixed up in these proceedings to escape a share of the obloquy which fell on the continental governments upon that occasion; and so long as the names of Genoa, and Saxony, and the Italian republics were remembered, so long must this reproach continue to be applied to it. Peace, after such a war, should have been founded on lasting principles; but, instead of that, it had been founded on principles which laid the foundation of future wars. In time of peace, large armies were kept up by other powers, and this country, instead of discountenancing the practice, had unhappily followed the example. We had lost sight of our avowed principles, and had accepted, instead of a rigid compliance with them, the professions of our allies. And what professions? Professions given by those who had partitioned Poland, and who were parties to the spoliations which had terminated in the treaties of 1814. And why did he state these circumstances at the present moment? He did so, for the purpose of showing, that this country did not stand in the predicament of Cæsar's wife—that our conduct towards the weaker states of the continent had been more than suspicious; that we had too long connived at the iniquitous aggression of the powerful over the weak; and that, therefore, we could not afford to let so favourable an opportunity escape 1304 for righting ourselves in the opinion of the world, as that which the interference of France in the affairs of Spain afforded.:
One word he would state in the beginning, as to the freedom of the constitution of Spain. Let no man remain under the erroneous impression, that the constitution which was given to Spain in 1812, was founded on some vague, crude, abstract principle. It was no such thing. The constitution adopted, was the ancient constitution of Spain. He did not stand there to argue its merits or demerits, or to pronounce decidedly its aptitude to the state of modern society. But there never was, perhaps, so limited a monarchy as that of old Castile: and so it had continued until the union of the crown of Arragon and Castile, when, from the corruption of the Cortes itself, the liberties of the people were subverted. That was the constitution which Spain had re-established; and, with the necessary precaution of providing against those vacillations, to which all governments, the effect of revolution were subjected, in the period of their organization, it was determined, that its basis should undergo no alteration for the space of eight years. The allied powers seemed to vie with each other in expressions of delight and rapture at the state of the Spanish affairs, and of compliment to the Spanish government, The autocrat of all the Russias could scarcely control his expressions. He baptized the constitution by that one emphatic word, which, with him, implied the greatest excellence—which was his all in all—he pronounced it to be "legitimate." In the year 1814, Ferdinand was reconducted to his throne by his people; and the first act of his gratitude and love to those who had made so many sacrifices on his behalf, was to overthrow the constitution which they had established; and he, the slave of bigotry and monks, had proceeded to exile and incarcerate, nay, to execute, those who had laboured most for the liberation of that country which he had betrayed. In 1820, God be thanked! that fabric of tyranny which he had constructed, fell; Portugal followed the glorious example of Spain, and the peninsula was free. It was not to be expected that a country which had so long groaned under the double thraldom of despotism and priestcraft, should at once, in the first moment of its regeneration, settle into a calm; that it should not be disturbed by the factious murmurings of those, whose 1305 interests were effected by the new order of things. Still, in point of fact, the resistance, under the circumstances, were comparatively slight, until France—he would rather say the French government—recurring to their most detestable policy, of fomenting divisions by their money and their intrigues, contrived to bring up something like a show of it upon the frontiers of Spain; and, though nothing occurred there but that which was the immediate result of French agency, she had the effrontery to charge this as a crime upon the people whom she had thus wickedly injured. In 1820, the emperor of Russia, far as the Poles asunder" from the territory of Spain, having gained some new lights on the subject—God defend us from his northern lights!—bethought himself of interfering in the concerns of that part of western Europe. In consequence of that manifestation, the late lord Londonderry had addressed a confidential communication to the four allied courts; many parts of which—for it was a very unequal production—did him great honour. The Russian emperor, finding that his proposition was not warmly received, apparently renounced it. Thus affairs stood, until the menaced aggression against Spain at the congress of Verona.
It would, perhaps, be as well, that be should here revert at once to those divisions which were alleged to exist in Spain, with reference to the new order of things. From all that he had been able to collect from the most likely sources of information, he did believe, that a most malignant exaggeration had been put forth with regard to the existing dissentious amongst the Spanish people. Divisions did, unhappily, exist. But, in what country that had ever undergone a revolution did they not exist? How could revolutions be without them? Was our own revolution effected without divisions? Was it accomplished until after two civil wars? But as to any actual division of the Spanish people, what colour or pretext existed for affirming it? Taking, therefore, the two halves of the Spanish population, and how did the account stand? In favour of the constitution was the whole of the landed interest, the whole of the commercial, all the liberal professions, all the knowledge, science, and character of Spain. On the other side stood opposes a knot of bigotted nobles, the whole body of the priesthood, and that portion of the 1306 ignorant peasantry who were mere instruments in the hands of the former. In such a contest, unaffected by foreign violence and intrigue, where was the moral, the real equality? The right hon. secretary of state in his speech on a former occasion, seemed to anticipate objections to the conduct observed by his majesty's government in the course of the late negotiations, only from two descriptions of opponents; either those pugnacious individuals who would have made no other answer, but by striking a blow; or those who would menace war, but would not make it. It would, indeed, be fortunate for the right hon. secretary, if, out of the documents before the House, he could sea cure himself from no other opposition, than what was comprehended in that alternative. But, had the right hon. secretary never heard of the station which Great Britain held, and ought to bold, in the affairs of Europe? Had he never beard of the weight and authority, which, in former times was attached to her just representations and remonstrances? Could he not imagine to himself the influence which such a course of proceeding must have had in arresting the wicked career of a wrong-headed ally, indebted to this country for his very existence? In dealing with such a government, was there no alternative, but immediate war or cold-blooded neutrality? That alternative he had now to meet; and on the propriety of its adoption, it would be his duty to take the sense of the House of Commons. The charge against his majesty's government was, not that they had not precipitated Great Britain into a war, but that they had not interposed the weight of her character and influence, in the right quarter, and at the right season, with the almost certain prospect of preserving the general peace of Europe; that they had sacrificed the certainty of avoiding war, to some chimerical apprehension of having the war thrown upon us immediately, though with the imminent peril of being dragged into it hereafter. To that apprehension they had sacrificed the dignity and character of the nation, and had exhibited us to Europe, as the object of its ridicule and contempt.
The proceedings naturally divided themselves into three parts; namely, the proceedings at Verona, the proceedings at Paris, and the proceedings at Madrid. The right hon. gentleman opposite had 1307 said, it would surprise the House to hear, that our plenipotentiary, when he left England, did not know that the affairs of Spain were to be submitted to the congress. But the House was more surprised to find that, for two years and a half, our government had been totally ignorant of all that had passed between Spain and France—and that too, while we communicated to the French government all that passed between us and Spain. He wondered whether ministers were equally ignorant of what had been going on between France and Russia with respect to Spain? If he had not had this fact under the hands of his majesty's ministers, he should have supposed that this was a gross libel on the late marquis of Londonderry, and a bitter satire upon the Whole of the government. The duke of Wellington, however, arrived at Paris. When he reached that place, his grace was informed by M. de Villèle, that it was the intention of the French cabinet to put certain questions to the representatives of the four powers at the congress, in order to learn what part they would take, supposing a war to break out between France and Spain. The duke of Wellington, in consequence of this information, told M. de Villèle that he could not give him any answer, and that he could not say either yes or no to the proposition which was made to him. The duke of Wellington accordingly wrote home, and asked of the right hon. secretary opposite, not only what line of conduct he should follow, but also what arguments he should use, in case these questions were again put to him. The right hon. gentleman, it was only doing him justice to admit, did not pretend to misunderstand the hypothesis of M. de Villèle; for be immediately gave the following answer to the noble duke:—"If there be a determined project to interfere by force or by menace in the present struggle in Spain, so convinced are his majesty's government of the uselessness and danger of any such interference—so objectionable does it appear to them in principle, as well as utterly impracticable in execution, that when the necessity arises or (I would rather say) when the opportunity offers, I am to instruct your grace at once frankly and peremptorily to declare, that to any such interference, come what may, his majesty will not be a party." He (Mr. M.) could not help thinking, from the pompous manner in which this sentence commenced, and 1308 the lame and impotent manner in which it concluded, that it was a good specimen of the "Parturient montes." That was the sum total of all the instructions which the right hon. secretary had given; and from the perusal of those meagre lines, began his (Mr. M's.) misgivings, as to the conduct of the negotiations, and his disappointment at their final result. What! when the enormity of such a crime as France was then contemplating was brought, and unexpectedly brought to his mind—when the magnitude of the peril, not only to Europe in general, but to this country in particular, was forced upon his sight, could the right hon. secretary say nothing more than "to any such interference, come what may, his majesty will not be a party?" Really, he should have expected from the right hon. gentleman something more satisfactory than Such a phrase; he should have expected to have heard him say to the duke of Wellington, "Lose not a moment in deprecating so wicked and monstrous a proposition; hesitate not to make a declaration to M. de Villèle that you consider it a violation of all the most sacred princiciples of international law; and that you look upon it as an infringement on all the rights of independent states: tell him at once, that you feel it to be repugnant to every consideration of justice and of sound policy: and, above all things, in form him, that not only is the scheme one to which his majesty will not be a party—not only is it one at the execution of which he will not connive—but that it is also one of such extraordinary crime, that he will be compelled, by every means in his power, to disclaim even the suspicion of having any the slightest connexion with it." He should likewise have expected to have heard the right hon. gentleman say, "Let all your exertions be directed to negotiating at Paris upon this point, where you will only have the French ministry to contend with; and, at any rate, do not pretend to shelter yourself under a doubt as to the intention upon which they are acting. Remind them—for this is a point on which delicacy must give way to the important interests that are at stake—remind them of all that England has done for the Bourbon family, and show them how little you are asking of them in return, when you are only desiring them to abstain from the commission of wrong. Should they remind you of the engagements with which 1309 England is bound to maintain that family on the throne, tell them, that if the independence of Spain is any longer threatened, those engagements must be considered at an end. Bring it to their recoltion, that the continental engagements of England were made with a view of securing the rights and privileges of mankind, and of contributing to the peace and happiness of the world; that if she were frustrated in effecting that object, she would retire within herself, and that the king of England, free as air to separate from the future projects of the Bourbons, would consider himself accountable to his people, and to his people only, for any subsequent measures that he might think it expedient to take." Instead of acting in this manner, the duke of Wellington, wholly uninformed, and only half-instructed, as the House would see, set out from Paris for Verona. He contended, that to have attempted no, thing in the way of negotiation at Paris was the first error that had been committed; and that the next—though on that point he did not speak so confidently as on the first—was to have gone to Verona at all under such circumstances.
He now came to speak of the Holy Alliance. He did not know whether it might not be expected of him to approach the august members of the congress with feelings of awe and reverence. He would willingly do so, when he saw them, kings as they were, recollecting that they were also men—when he saw them treating those over whom they reigned, not as things, but as men—when he saw them taking delight in promoting instead of destroying the happiness and freedom of their subjects, and turning all their powers to the amelioration, instead of the degradation, of human society. Then, indeed, would be the time for a freeborn Englishman to kiss the hem of their imperial purple. But, until that time arrived, and until he observed them desisting from the pursuit of objects that were hostile to the liberty and moral dignity of man, he would designate them by words which, however unpalatable they might be, they must still submit for some time to hear in an English House of Commons—he would call them, what their conduct proved them to be, a confederacy of tyrants, and tyrants of the very worst description. The right hon. secretary opposite, in his speech the other evening had thought it necessary—and he (Mr. 1310 M.) could hardly see the reason, why—to vindicate his appointment of sir W. A'Court to the post of ambassador at Madrid. In doing so, he had allowed a curious fact to slip out. It appeared, forsooth, that now-a-days the ministers of foreign powers knocked at the door of the foreign office, to question the appointment of a British minister, not to their own courts, but to the courts of another; and that, too, an independent nation. He was rather inclined to believe, that their objection was not so much to the individual who was sent upon that mission, as to the sending of that mission altogether. With the selection of the duke of Wellington for the office which he had filled at the congress, he was not inclined to find any fault, provided the part assigned to him had been a proper part to play. He knew that there were some individuals who thought that he was too much mixed up with the allied sovereigns and their designs, to be a fit person for conducting such a negotiation: but did he not, covered as he was with badges of honour and distinction, most of them gained in consequence of his achievements in Spain—did he not present a living proof, not only of what had been done, but of what might be done, on Spanish ground for Spanish freedom? [Hear.] He would say, that considering the part which was assigned to the noble duke, it would have been better if some individual, obscure and undistinguished, had been sent to Verona to perform it. The right hon. secretary had warned them not to expect any display of diplomatic finesse and artifice, in the productions of the noble duke. He would tell the right hon. gentleman, that no such display of finesse or artifice was wanted. Plain speaking, frankness, decision—these were the qualities that were wanted for such a mission. Could it be, that the coldness of the cabinet at home had paralysed the exertions of the noble duke at Verona? Could any man who had read the papers, on the table, doubt, that if the noble duke had carried into that august conclave of despotic power, a portion of the great qualities which he had exhibited elsewhere, he would have prevented that massacre which was now perpetrating on the inhabitants of Spain, because they had dared to publish to the world that they were free, and that they were determined, cost what it would, to remain so? On the arrival of the duke at Verona, the queries which 1311 M. de Villèle had suggested at Paris were again put to him. And to what did they amount but this—"If we go to war with Spain, what support are we to receive from you?" Nay, the very object of the war was stated in them; for it was said to be contemplated, in order "to strike a salutary dread into the revolutionists of all countries." But what was the solution which the duke of Wellington himself put upon them? He would tell them in the duke's own words:—"On the 20th of October, the French minister gave in a paper, requiring from the ministers of the allies to know, whether, if France should be under the necessity of withdrawing her minister from Spain, the other allied powers would do the same? In case France should be involved in war with Spain, what countenance the allies would give the former? And in case France should require it, what assistance? Was not this the very same solution which M, de Villèle had previously given? And should not, as soon as the questions were proposed, the British plenipotentiary have furnished a direct and unequivocal answer? He would maintain, that it was the bounden duty of the British minister to have stated, in the most decisive terms" This must not be: Spain is not at your bar: the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle binds you to give notice to any power to attend, into whose situation, internal or external, you are going to inquire." And now he must be permitted to ask, why had not this been done? It had not been done, because, forsooth, the duke of Wellington could not see that the questions related to the invasion of Spain by France: he, good easy man! supposed that they alluded to the invasion of France by Spain; and in consequence, thought it fit to give the French government a ray of comfort. He told the French government, that he did not apprehend that Spain, had any notion of invading France—"A review of the obvious circumstances of the situation of France, as well as Spain, will show, that whatever may be the tone assumed towards France by the ruling powers in Spain, they are not in a state to carry into execution any plan of real hostility. "And again," Even revolutionary madness could not calculate upon the success of a serious attack by Spain upon France, under any circumstances which it is possible to suppose to exist at present in the latter kingdom." This ignorance, however, of the duke of Wel- 1312 lington appeared to be all got up for the occasion; for, in a few days afterwards, he was found to be drawing very nice distinctions indeed between the internal and the external quarrels of Spain. None of the allied powers even pretended a doubt as to the meaning of the questions. They said at once clearly and distinctly, "We will assist you, if you go to war." And, what did M. de Chateaubriand himself say? Let the House attend. "The cabinet of the Tuileries have not forgotten, that the principal motive alleged by his grace the duke of Wellington at Verona, for not explaining himself upon the casus fœderis, was, the ignorance of his government of the transactions which had taken place between France and Spain, from 1820 to 1822." What a disgrace was it to government to have such a fact publicly stated on record! M. de Chateaubriand went on—"That objection was removed at the congress, as it will be here, by the single observation, that the grievances of which France might have to complain, on the subject of the Spanish revolution, were, unfortunately, of public notoriety."
Now, after this declaration, he wished the House to observe the extraordinary view which the right hon. secretary opposite had taken of these transactions, in his speech of the former night. The right hon. gentleman had said, that "when the propositions of the French government were first brought forward, they were not directed to a hostile object, but that they were in their nature purely defensive, conditional, and hypothetical;" and again in his despatch to sir C. Stuart of the 31st March, he had called them "contingent and precautionary, and not in their nature offensive." Why, in the name of God, were they to be considered hypothetical? If one man said to another, "If I do so and so, what will you do?" and then took measures to do the very thing he mentioned, true it was, that the question was in its nature hypothetical, but it was still intelligible, and required a very intelligible answer. Never, no never, since England had been a country, had such an overture been made to her, or when made been misunderstood. Let the House imagine how a minister of queen Elizabeth, or even of queen Anne, would have received such an overture! Let them imagine how the Burleighs, the Godolphins, the Somersets, or the Chat-hams would have listened to it! He 1313 thought that lord Burleigh would have done something more than shake his head upon such an occasion; though all admitted, that there was something very significant in a shake of the head from lord Burleigh. But of our late plenipotentiary, it could hardly be said, that he had even done so much as shake his head upon it. For what did his grace of Wellington say?—"Without adverting to those principles which his majesty's government must I always consider the rule of their conduct, in relation to the internal affairs of other countries, they considered, that to whatever degree either the origin of the Spanish revolution, the system then established, or the conduct of those who have since had the management of the internal affairs of Spain might be disapproved of, any amelioration which might be desired in the Spanish system, for the sake of Spain herself, ought to be sought for in measures to be adopted in Spain, rather than abroad; and particularly in the confidence which the people should be taught to feel in the character and measures of the king." The confidence the people should be taught to feel in the character of their king! In very truth, he did not envy those individuals who should have the trouble of teaching such a lesson to the Spanish nation. But the noble duke proceeded— "They considered that an interference, with a view to assist the monarch on the throne to overturn that which had been settled, and which he had guaranteed, or to promote the establishment of any other form of government or constitution, particularly by force," [he wished the House to mark those words], "would only place that monarch in a false position, and prevent him from looking to the internal means of amelioration which might be within his reach."
Unfortunately, however, this veil of ignorance, this fine web of sophistry, was destined to be torn asunder a little more rudely than was expected: for forth came the thundering and never-to-be-forgotten declaration of the holy alliance. On those productions, as an hon. and learned friend of his (Mr. Brougham) had done them so much justice—as he had dissected them with so skilful and masterly a hand—as he had laid bare each nerve and artery of folly contained in them, and had pointed Amt in the most inimitable terms their mingled falsehood, insolence, and hypocrisy—on those productions he should 1314 not make more than a single observation. Though couched in different language, the object of them all was uniformly and precisely the same. The Russian note stated, that it was necessary that the king should be restored to personal liberty, and should be intrusted with "the means of putting an end to civil war, of preventing a foreign war, and of surrounding himself with the most enlightened and the most faithful of his subjects, in order to give Spain those institutions which her wants and her legitimate wishes require." As if this was not sufficient to shock the mind of every enlightened man, the note went on—"It only remains for the other portion of the Spanish nation to unite cordially with their king to deliver Spain, to save it, to assign it in the great European family a place"—The reward was undoubtedly great; if Spain would consent to give up her liberty to these haughty despots, and to her own would-be tyrant, the members of the holy alliance, in their kindness, would allow her a place in the great European family! But, to recur to the note—"to assign it in the great European family a place, so much the more honourable, because it would be snatched, as in 1814, from the disastrous triumph of military usurpation." The same, too, were the terms of the Austrian note. Spain was promised, that if she would permit the old tyranny to be once more established within her limits, she would be restored to those relations which united her to the European powers. Now, he would ask, did language so monstrous, and so utterly beyond all endurance as this, remove the film which obscured the noble duke's sight? That question would be best answered by looking to the language which the noble duke himself had after wards thought proper to assume. The right hon. gentleman opposite had made it matter of praise and commendation that the language of the noble duke had been of the same tendency on the last as it had been on the first day of the negotiation. Now, instead of considering that circumstance as a matter of praise, he considered it as a matter of strong complaint against the noble duke. What! was his language to be the same when he was acquainted with all the horrors of the scheme that was in agitation, as it was when he was ignorant of any of its atrocities? Surely, no man would be found to maintain so absurd a proposition! But in point of fact, the language of the noble duke had 1315 not been the same at the conclusion and at the commencement of the negotiations. There was this difference in it—that towards the conclusion of them, and when every thing they did proved that they were unworthy to receive any compliments, the noble duke filled his state papers with compliments to the allied sovereigns. He had now stated generally, what the dignity, the influence, and the character of Great Britain had called for at the hands of the king's ministers. In answer to this, he should be told, that such a course left no alternative but war. But, after all, it was a balance of chances. The right hon. secretary had given the chance of ultimate war with national discredit. Better, then, he would say, would have been the chance of immediate war with the nation's honour and character untarnished. That was not, however, the necessary result of a becoming and manly policy. The belief of almost every impartial man was, that if the British government had acted upon principles less equivocal, the peace of Europe would have been preserved. But even if the French government had, under such circumstances, felt disposed to take umbrage, so long as Great Britain sustained her dignity he would have cared little for that umbrage. He felt as sensibly as any man who heard him, could do, the expense that her exertions had already entailed upon her. He was deeply sensible of the necessity of recruiting those resources which she had lavished for the rescue of Europe; but he, nevertheless, felt that she had not lost so much as to have incapacitated herself from still taking that part in the affairs of the world, which became her station and her character. For her there was left open a plain and distinct line of conduct to follow. Under these circumstances, and in an emergency confessedly of the most interesting nature, it could not but surprise the reader of the correspondence on their table, to find, that the first thing that the British government was occupied with, was in placing in the hands of the French cabinet the offer of his majesty's mediation. Now, supposing for a moment that this was a case which admitted of mediation—and he fully agreed with M. de Montmorency that it was not—still, had we not lost the best opportunity for offering it? He should not refer to M. de Villèle's sending a messenger to Verona, to express the desire of the French go- 1316 vernment that the transmission of the despatches to Madrid should be suspended, with any view of building an argument upon it. It might be, and very likely it was, a mere trick on his part; but, if it were not so, he called upon the House to observe the uncertain and vacillating state of the French ministry, and then to judge, what might have been done by this country, supposing the representations of the British government had been properly pressed upon it by the duke of Wellington. He particularly called the attention of the House to the statement of M. de Montmorency. Speaking of the French king, he said, "But his majesty could not but feel that the situation of France with regard to Spain, was not of a nature to call for a mediation between the two courts. In fact, there exists no difference between them, no specific point of discussion, by the arrangement of which their relations might be placed on the footing on which they ought to stand. Spain, by the nature of her revolution, and by the circumstances with which it has been attended, has excited the apprehensions of several great powers." This despatch one would have thought quite decisive as to our mediation. But, not so; even after its recall the right hon. gentleman used his utmost endeavours to get the court of Madrid to solicit it. In one of his despatches to sir W. A'Court, he had stated, that he was to propose to Spain the mediation of England, in case Spain asked for it. Spain never did ask for it; and yet he had proposed it. A few days afterwards, lord Francis Somerset was sent to Madrid with the duke of Wellington's compliments to his old friends in Spain, and an intimation on his part, that he thought that they might safely give up to the French—not, indeed, every thing; but, only the principle on which every thing rested; and to this message was appended some abstract notions of what a king ought to be, and of the duties which he was called on to perform—notions, which he thought his grace would do well to collect into a treatise and to publish, with something like a dedication to the members of the holy alliance. [A laugh.]
What was the next event which occurred? Why, that M. de Chateaubriand, on the 23rd of January last, sent a despatch to the right hon. gentleman, couched in still stronger language than that which had been before used by M. de Montmorency. It stated the following 1317 fact, relative to what were called the French king's benevolent intention:—"His most Christian majesty demands, that his Catholic majesty should, of himself, and by his own authority, apply the necessary modifications to the institutions which have been imposed on the crown of Spain, by the revolt of a few soldiers." Even after the receipt of this despatch, the right hon. secretary did not desist. Two or three days after its date, but, as he was in justice bound to admit, a day before the right hon. gentleman received it, he sends another despatch to sir W. A'Court at Madrid, but gives him no further instructions as to his conduct; though events had occurred which seemed to render such instructions necessary. Immediately after all this came the extraordinary Speech of the King of France to his Chambers, and a despatch from sir C. Stuart, giving an account of its meaning and import. Regarding that speech, what language ought he to use in a British House of Commons to designate it justly? Fortunately, he had not to look about for terms to express his detestation of it. The right hon. gentleman himself had sufficiently described its merits, when he said, that it contained principles which struck at the root of the British constitution. Against those principles, Portugal, free and independent Portugal, had had the courage and the spirit to enter her protest. England, however—that Enaland which had been so often styled the nurse and patroness of freedom—took another and a very different course. She pretended that the speech was liable to a double construction; though undoubtedly there was only one which it either bore or suggested. The sentiment which gave most offence in it, was no isolated sentiment; neither was it inconsistent with or contradicted by, any of those which either preceded or followed it. On the contrary, it was the sequel and consequence of all those which had gone before, and early and naturally led to all those which came after it. M. de Marcellus, on the arrival of the speech in England, had carried a copy of it to the right hon. secretary, and along with it a formal and precise demand for the intervention of our good offices with Spain. How was that demand met? Did the right hon. gentleman demand any explanation of the speech? No such thing. He had resorted to his old stratagem of misunderstanding; as if the policy of the 1318 British cabinet was, to misunderstand every document that was addressed to it A new sense was to be furnished for it; not by the individual who had written or delivered the speech, but by the individual who had received a copy of it from the French government. He agreed with his noble friend (lord Folkestone) who had alluded to this part of the conduct of the British government on a former evening, and who, though accused of violence, had only spoken with a warmth of feeling which did honour to him as an Englishman—he agreed with his noble friend, he repeated, in thinking this part of their conduct nothing else than a disgraceful truckling to the French cabinet. A double construction in the king of France's speech! Where, in the name of Providence, was it to be found? Why, if there could be any doubt as to the meaning of the Speech, it was entirely dissipated by the construction which M. de Chateaubriand had put upon it himself, and which was to be found in sir C. Stuart's despatch of the 28th of January. "Under these circumstances," says sir C. Stuart, "M. de Chateaubriand added, that the king was compelled to assume a decisive tone in his discourse to the legislative bodies; and that in announcing the cessation of the diplomatic relations between the two governments, it was necessary to show that they could not be re-established until the origin of the mischief, with which the Spanish revolution menaces neighbouring countries, had been removed; by assimilating their institutions to those of other limited monarchies, under an act on the part of the king of Spain declaring the constitution to emanate from the crown." When such was the state of the case, why was the British government to go crawling to the cabinet of the Tuilieries with a tender of a double construction in the one hand, and the bonus of the intervention of our good offices with Spain in the other?
He now came to the last, but by no means the wisest, step in those most impolitic transactions—he meant, to our attempt to force our mediation upon the weaker, after we could not obtain its acceptance from the stronger power. In rejecting our profferred mediation, the language of France amounted to this: she said, "Go to Spain; carry, if you can, by fair means our point for us; if you cannot, we will carry it by foul means for ourselves." It was one thing to mediate, 1319 and another to lend our good offices, all on one side. This, beyond all dispute, we had done for France in the course of these negotiations. It was proved unequivocally to be the case, by the documents on the table. "At this moment, January 28, 1823," said Mr. Canning, "for the sake and at the desire of the French government, we are suggesting to Spain, in a tone of friendly counsel, alterations similar to those which France is proposing as the alternative of hostilities." Was he not, he would now ask, justified in the assertion, that we were making a hopeless trial to preserve peace between France and Spain, at the desire and for the advantage of the former power? After this effort came another note from M. de Chateaubriand, and a new version of the king of France's speech; and again we pressed on as before. From the despatch of sir W. A'Court it was, however, quite evident, that there had never been any chance of preserving peace. He knew not how any person could suppose that war could be avoided, when the Spanish minister was distinctly and repeatedly assured, over and over again, that it was the resolution of the allied powers not to tolerate the constitution of Spain, because it offended the Holy Alliance. In speaking on this point, M. de Chateaubriand used words, which purported, that in adopting the line she had done, France had only taken a just and appropriate course. When sir W. A'Court received a copy of sir C. Stuart's despatch to the secretary of state for the foreign department, of the date of the 28th of January, detailing his conversation with M. de Chateaubriand, he immediately proceeded to make known the contents of that despatch to M. de San Miguel. What did M. de San Miguel say on that occasion? He said, what every free-minded, what every honest man would say, "that Spain would never admit that the constitution emanated from the king, nor recognize any other sovereignty than that of the people." But, observed sir W. A'Court, in his despatch giving an account of this interview with M. de San Miguel, "he broke out into general exclamations against the French government." Well might he have indulged in such exclamations, against that government Was there no other government against the conduct of which he might not justly have broken out into exclamations and reproaches? Undoubtedly there was. But the Spanish ministers 1320 did not depart from that consistent dignity, that high-minded propriety, which they had preserved throughout the contest—which was not equalled in modern, and not surpassed in ancient, times. Had they not a right to exclaim against our minister? Had they not a right to censure that false friend, who, with such a paper in his hand, could continue to tease the Spanish government to make some concession? They found, however, that sir W. A'Court still continued that system of teasing, to which M. de San Miguel failed not to make the most spirited answers. So long ago as the 29th of December last, the right hon. secretary had stated to sir W. A'Court, that the object of France, since she had to a certain degree reconsidered for herself the measures framed at Verona, appeared to be, to induce us to concur in her separate and mitigated measure. If, however, the House would look at the correspondence, they would find that, on the 19th of February, sir W. A'Court, speaking of the extract which he had received of sir C. Stuart's despatch to Mr. Secretary Canning, of the 10th February, says, that by that, "he learns, for the first time, the exact concessions which will satisfy France, and engage her to put an end to her armaments." It was true, that, in January, it was proposed by M. de Chateaubriand, to get up a sort of grand melodrama on the banks of the Bidassoa. Animated, perhaps, by the recollection of his own former exploit in bringing water from the river Jordan to baptise the young Napoleon, the French minister proposed that Ferdinand should be allowed to advance to the banks of the Bidassoa, there to throw himself and the liberties of Spain into the arms of his cousin the duke d'Angoulêine, at the head of 100,000 men. Sir W. A'Court, however, denied that he had ever heard any such thing; and he seemed to have been eminently unsuccessful in obtaining any explanation whatsoever on this point. When sir C. Stuart's correspondence was placed in the hands of sir W. A'Court, the latter immediately set off to M. de San Miguel. And, what did he do? From his own statement it appeared, that he read to M. de San Miguel such parts of the correspondence as were most likely to produce a favourable effect. Now, observe the situation in which the Spanish government was placed. This was one friend advising another, and taking on himself, in some degree, the 1321 responsibility for the conduct which he might think proper to pursue. But, how did he proceed in the discharge of that duty? He read, not the whole correspondence, but such parts of the despatches as were most likely to produce a favourable effect. Was this fair? Was this language fitting to be held? Could this government be justified in keeping the government of Spain in the dark with respect to its real situation? Was it proper that such parts only of the correspondence between sir C. Stuart and the French government, as were calculated to produce a good effect, as it was denominated, should be laid before the Spanish minister? Was it just that our minister should conceal from him all the other parts? Was that fair? Was it honest? He had no hesitation in declaring, that, in his opinion, there was not an honourable man in the world who would say, that sir W. A'Court was justified in thus keeping M. de San Miguel in the dark, with respect to the real situation of Spain, and the real intentions of France towards her. Sir W. A'Court expressed himself much delighted with what he supposed to be M. de Chateaubriand's proposition for insuring the continuance of peace. But, from what sir C. Stuart said, it did not appear that the proposition was of such a nature as could be entertained. The proposition was contained in these words—"M. de Chateaubriand does not hesitate to admit, that, in order to give stability to any modification of the present system in Spain, and to afford sufficient assurance to France to justify her discontinuing her warlike preparations, the king of Spain must be a party, and consent to such modification." Upon this principle, a change which shall result from a thorough understanding between his Catholic majesty and the Cortes, will be considered to afford some prospect of the modifications which are indispensable to the security of neighbouring states. The French government will not only be satisfied with the opening which any act (such as the establishment of a second Chamber) may offer, to complete, through the intervention of Great Britain, the system which is necessary for the constitutional government of Spain; but, without waiting for any further proofs of the sincerity of the Spanish government, they will consider any such act as affording reasonable grounds for suspending their armaments, and replacing the relations between the two countries upon the 1322 footing usual in time of peace; though, since he cannot suppose that we consider mere fair assurances to be sufficient, we must not be surprised if preparations for war are, in the mean time, carried on without intermission." What was the meaning of this? The French minister talked of "suspending their armaments," and in the same breath he said, "this country must not be surprised if preparations for war were still carried on." Sir C. Stuart proceeded—"M. de Chateaubriand did not enter into any detail respecting the nature of the acts to which he alluded; but I understood him to refer to the project of allowing the king the nomination of councillors of state, and giving them a deliberative power, upon a similar principle with that of the American senate; to which might be added a regulation, fixing the amount of the qualification required to render a candidate eligible to the second, or representative Chamber." This was the despatch by which sir W. A'Court declared, that he had for the first time learnt the exact concessions, which would satisfy France, and—a singular slip in a diplomatic pen—"engage her,"—to suspend? No; but—"to put an end to her armaments!" What was the answer which M. de San Miguel gave to sir W. A'Court, after the latter had read to him "those parts of the despatch which he thought the most calculated to produce a favourable effect?" "M. de San Miguel listened with the greatest attention; but, as soon as I had concluded, observed, that the British government was labouring under a delusion, in supposing any sort of modification possible. It would be a much easier thing to overturn the whole constitutional system, and to re-establish absolute despotism, than to concede even the most insignificant of tire points which had been pointed out as the most likely to conciliate. He was fully aware that England asked no modifications on her own account. He knew that we wished to preserve to Spain her constitutional system; that our only object in trying to engage her to yield upon certain points was the conviction that if a war did break out, we must be, sooner or later, involved in it ourselves. He knew very well that we should not declare in favour of Spain at first; but nobody could be so blind as not to see, that, if the war was protracted, and otherpowers took part in it, England alone could not remain a passive spectator of what might be its results."
1323 The House would see by these remarks the impression upon the mind of the Spanish minister, with respect to what he conceived must be the policy of England. He was sorry to say, that he could find nothing in the whole of the documents which had been laid upon the table, that justified M. de San Miguel's estimate of our character. After reading those papers, he must say, it appeared to him, that no love of freedom, no hatred of unjust aggression could have actuated those by whom this mediation was entered into. It was a mediation all on one side. What must have been the feelings of M. de San Miguel when he discovered that all his anticipations of the generous character of England had been falsified by the conduct of her government towards Spain! Sir W. A'Court was delighted at receiving an account "for the first time" of "the exact concessions which would satisfy France." But, that delight did not last long. In eight and forty hours after he had expressed it, sir C. Stuart sent to Mr. Secretary Canning M. de Chateaubriand's explanation of the views of the French government in the following words:—"M. de Chateaubriand said, that he had turned over the subject in his own mind, with a view to decide upon what terms it might be possible to meet the proposals they might receive; and though he could not state the result of his reflections to be the expression of the sentiments of the French government, yet he thought the subject might be taken into consideration, if the Spanish negotiators should engage, at a future period, to modify their constitution, and, in the mean time, prove their good faith, by restoring the king to his physical liberty, and allowing him to frequent the Sitios, and to go to watering places; by a general amnesty; by the establishment of laws to regulate the press; and by a change of ministry." And yet sir W. A'Court, in a despatch of the 9th of March, wrote thus—"I saw M. de San Miguel this morning, and to my great astonishment, he asked me what were the precise conditions required by France, in case any question should be asked him in the cortes? I repeated to him the conditions stated in sir C. Stuart's despatch of the 10th of February, and those (hardly to be considered official) contained in the same ambassador's despatch of the 21st of February, and, according to his request, I sent him, upon my return home, an extract from the despatch of the 10th 1324 of February. What is in agitation I know not. He told me he should say nothing upon the subject, unless called upon by the cortes; and that if any negotiations were entered into, he would not be the person to negotiate." Thus it turned out that, whatever the English ministers might have been, the Spanish minister was not fooled by the pretences and proceedings of the French government.
He had already spoken of the concessions which were unceasingly required of Spain by the English government. The right hon. secretary of state, first required a confidential and spontaneous assurance, that his Catholic majesty and his family were altogether safe from violence. Now, he must say, that considering the uniform forbearance and temper which the cortes had manifested, ever since the Revolution of 1807, such a requisition appeared to involve an unnecessary insult. M. de San Miguel promptly replied, that, by the Spanish constitution, the person of the king was inviolable. The right hon. secretary next demanded, whether, at some future period, a change might not be effected in the Spanish constitution? In answer to this, sir W. A'Court wrote that the Spanish ministers were averse from hearing any thing on that subject. The right hon. gentleman then pressed for an amnesty, which the Spanish government immediately granted. That amnesty did not, indeed, go the length of including all who had attempted to subvert the constitution. But, was there any man sitting in that House who could say that it did not go far enough? It extended to those who, from honest but false and mistaken feelings, had arrayed themselves against the government; but it very properly excluded men who, from the mere love of lucre, from an eagerness to receive the money of France, would betray their country into the hands of a foreign enemy. This concession was freely made. But, while the British government were so earnest in urging the Spanish government to make concessions, did they make a single attempt to intimate to France, that she ought, for decency's sake to draw off, were it only for a few miles, that army which was assembled on the frontier to keep out all "moral contagion?" But, although there was abundant proof of our good offices in behalf of France; he was utterly at a loss where to look for any manifestation of our good offices in behalf of Spain. Not 1325 only did we abstain from any such good offices, but the right hon. secretary actually sat down, after the House had separated for the Easter recess, and relieved the uneasiness—little or great—which rested on the minds of the French government, with respect to the course of policy which Great Britain might adopt—an uneasiness which must, in some degree, have diminished the vigour of her exertions—by voluntarily tendering to France an ostentatious pledge of our neutrality.
He had now done with these papers. Would to God they had never found a place in the archives of our foreign diplomacy! One question only he would ask. Supposing an administration, professing itself to be hostile to liberty, rather than enthusiastic for it—supposing them in their hearts, to be decidedly friendly to the cause of France, how could they, with their utmost ingenuity, have better devised the means of assisting and supporting that cause, than by pursuing the course which his majesty's ministers had adopted? Whatever might be the contempt—and it was great—which he felt for the French ministers; he could not charge them with duplicity towards this country. Towards Portugal, indeed, they had been guilty of the grossest duplicity; but our ministers had deceived themselves. Could any one observe the spirit of quizzing, the persiflage, which pervaded these papers, and doubt what was the intention of the French ministers from the very first? The right hon. gentleman affected to think that the apprehensions of the Portuguese might be allayed, and that the ambitious projects of the French would not be carried into effect, with respect to that country. He knew not, however, on what ground the right hon. gentleman could sustain such an opinion. The right hon. gentleman had told the House, that if France succeeded, the government of Spain would still be administered in the person of Ferdinand. He did not coincide in that opinion. The House must recollect that when Joseph Bonaparte was king of Spain—and an absolute monarch too—his brother Napoleon, on account of the ties of consanguinity, made a survey of that country, and rendered it wholly dependent on France. What was to prevent a similar result now? Would not the fleets and resources of Spain be under the control of France? And could any person doubt that France would make use 1326 of them? The right hon. gentleman had stated, that the possession of the Spanish territory would be useless to France, now that Spain had lost her extensive commerce. But did the right hon. gentleman mean to contend, that the possession of a line of coast, from Holland to Gibraltar, and thence up the Straits, until they came to that part which was under the Austrian protection, was a matter of no importance? Why, only a few nights ago, an hon. member had made the horrible declaration in that House, that five million of the people of Ireland were ready to destroy the extremely small minority of their fellow-countrymen, and to unite themselves with any power who would assist them to separate the two countries. This stood uncontradicted. Now, if France were possessed of the whole coast of Spain, would she not possess a fair opportunity for fermenting those dissentions? What, he should be glad to know, would prevent those crusaders from acting against this country, by assisting those who were described to be disaffected in Ireland? They had no security whatsoever that France would not so proceed. Let the coquetting of ministers with the tyrants and despots of Europe have been what it might, the hatred they bore to this country was incurable and implacable. Those tyrants said, by their conduct, "Wait only till we have subjugated Spain—wait only till we have closed the doors of those legislative assemblies which have been formed in such of the German states, the princes of which have dared to redeem the pledge which they gave when they promised their people a free constitution —wait only till Austria is in possession of all Italy—wait only till France has trampled Spain under her feet—wait only till the Russian flag floats on the Dardanelles and in the Morea, and then, proud islanders, your time will come."
He was sorry to have been compelled to trespass so long on the attention of the House; but the subject was a most important one, and called for the most serious consideration. What would be the issue of this tremendous struggle, which was to decide whether Europe was to become one vast military despotism, it baffled all human foresight, and human wisdom to conjecture. It might be that the crime which Buonaparte, in the plenitude of his power, had failed to effect, a Bourbon, surrounded by bigots, would be able to accomplish. If it were so, the 1327 deep responsibility rested on the heads of the British ministry. He hoped in God that France might fail in her attempt. Still, however, the event was doubtful and she might succeed—MultiCommittunt eadem diverse crimina fato;Ille crucem pretium sceleris tulit, hic diadema.But, whatever might be the issue, he called on that House to do its duty that night, by stating to his majesty, in an humble address, that, in their opinion, his ministers had not done theirs. The motion he would conclude with was,
"That an humble Address be presented to his majesty, to inform his majesty, that this House has taken into its most serious consideration the Papers relating to the late Negotiation, which have been laid before them by his majesty's gracious command:
"To represent to his majesty, that the disappointment of his majesty's benevolent solicitude to preserve general peace, appears to this House to have, in a great measure, arisen from the failure of his majesty's ministers to make the most earnest, vigorous, and solemn protest against the pretended right of the sovereigns assembled at Verona to make war on Spain, in order to compel alterations in her political institutions, as well as against the subsequent pretensions of the French government, that nations cannot lawfully enjoy any civil privileges but from the spontaneous grant of their kings; principles destructive of the rights of all independent states, which strike at the root of the British constitution, and are subversive of his majesty's legitimate title to the throne:
"Further, to declare to his majesty, the surprise and sorrow with which this House has observed that his majesty's ministers should have advised the Spanish government, while so unwarrantably menaced, to alter their constitution, in the hope of averting invasion; a concession which alone would have involved the total sacrifice of national independence; and which was not even palliated by an assurance from France, that on receiving so dishonourable a submission, she would desist from her unprovoked aggression:
"Finally, to represent to his majesty, that, in the judgment of this House, a tone of more dignified remonstrance would have been better calculated to preserve the peace of the continent, and thereby 1328 to secure this nation more effectually from the hazard of being involved in the calamities of war."
§ Mr. Stuart Wortley
said, it was, his intention, before he submitted to the House an amendment to the motion of the hon. gentleman, to state, as briefly as possible, his view of the subject. In doing so, he would brig back the House to the true question; namely, whether they did or did not approve of the conduct of his majesty's ministers, in the course they had taken during the recent negotiations, after they had determined that this country should remain neutral. His feelings were totally different from those of the hon. gentleman; and he felt confident that the feelings which he entertained were in unison with those of the country at large. He should be ashamed, holding the opinions which he did, if he were not ready, in the very first instance, to call on the House to exercise their unbiassed judgment on the question. With respect to all that the hon. gentleman had said regarding the general conduct of the other powers towards Spain, and particularly of France herself, he believed that very little difference of opinion would be found to prevail. For himself, he felt as strongly as the hon. gentleman could do, that the conduct of those sovereigns, for the last two or three years, struck at all the principles on which our own constitution was founded, and was an attempt to shut the door against the admission into any state of any thing like rational liberty And, further, he would say, that with regard to the conduct of France, it seemed to him to be perfectly incomprehensible. In his opinion, the French government had manifested a degree of folly, greater than had ever been exhibited by any other government on the face of the earth. He was convinced, however, that those who guided her councils would be stopped in their career, and that the infamy of their acts would recoil on their own heads. He believed the efforts of France would fail; and, therefore, what the hon. mover had said with respect to the danger to be apprehended from the possession of Spain by France, appeared to him to be totally visionary and unfounded. With respect to the conduct of the duke of Wellington at Verona, he would contend, that unless when his majesty's government entered into remonstrances, they were determined and prepared to back those remonstrances by force, they would—to, 1329 use the expression of the noble duke, which the hon. mover had attempted to ridicule—"have placed this country in an entirely false position." The question was, "Shall we keep this country in a neutral situation? Or, if we remonstrate, shall we support that remonstrance by force?" This alternative having offered itself; it was judged wise and prudent to act as his majesty's ministers had done, by keeping up a strict neutrality; and, in his opinion, they would have acted unwisely, if they had had recourse to such a remonstrance as must have been backed by force, after they had, in the first instance, decided for neutrality. They had conducted themselves most properly, in abstaining from all irritating language. They had acted upon those principles which this government had clearly laid down on former occasions, with respect to the affairs of foreign nations. In conformity with those principles, they had felt it to be their first duty to show, that it was rot the interest of France to take those measures which she proposed to carry into effect; and, with respect to that point, he thought the duke of Wellington had discharged his duties at Verona most ably and judiciously. Gentlemen might find fault with the course of policy which his majesty's government had determined to adopt; but as their view was to preserve neutrality, he must contend, in spite of all that had been said of the duke of Wellington, that his measures were well taken, and his language well calculated to effect that purpose. Having at Verona failed in preventing the execution of those measures which the French government contemplated, still it appeared that he was enabled, on his return to Paris, to make such an impression on the French government, with respect to their policy, as to induce them to send to Verona, for the purpose of delaying the transmission of those despatches to Madrid, which undoubtedly were afterwards sent there. After having failed at Verona, what, he asked, was this government to do? The duke of Wellington stated very justly, that they could only show their desire to prevent hostilities, and that they certainly did. The hon. gentleman found fault with his majesty's government for offering a mediation, which, he said, was in favour of France, and against Spain. He was at issue with the hon. gentleman on that point; because, as appeared from the statement of 1330 M. de San Miguel, this country had been expressly called on to interfere. He would read a passage from the papers, to show that we had not entered into any attempt to accommodate matters of our own accord, but were induced to do so at the instance of Spain. And here it gave him great pleasure to observe in the despatches and conduct of M. de San Miguel a dignity, as if the spirit of liberty had given him at once a superiority over those to whom he was opposed. The passage to which he referred was as follows: Having requested acts of friendly interposition on the part of this country, M. de San Miguel thus proceeded:—"The acts to which I allude would in no wise compromise the most strictly-conceived system of neutrajity. Good offices, counsels, the reflections of one friend in favour of another, do not place a nation in concert of attack or defence with another—do not expose it to the enmity of the opposite party, even if they do not deserve its gratitude; they are not, in a word, effective aid, troops, arms, subsidies, which augment the force of one of the contending parties. It is of reason only that we are speaking, and it is with the pen of conciliation that a power situated like Great Britain might support Spain, without exposing herself to take part in a war which she may perhaps prevent with general utility." This passage afforded an indisputable proof that the government of one of the parties—of that party against which the hon. gentleman charged his majesty's ministers, with leaning—saw and approved the policy which this country was about to pursue. Having found fault with the principle of our mediation, the hon. mover of the address proceeded to find fault with the manner in which it was carried on, contending, that it was favourable to France, and of course unfavourable to Spain. He could, not, however, agree with the hon. mover. For, if France had, under the circumstances in which Spain was placed, a right to have a corps of observation on her frontier, it was but reasonable for her to expect some inducement, on the part of Spain, to withdraw that army from the position which it occupied. He was perfectly ready to agree, that if France had accompanied her demand with menaces, every Spaniard would have been bound to resist a demand made in that spirit. But, France had done no such thing; not would England have tolerated it. Eng- 1331 land, under the circumstances, had taken the prudent course, not of dictating, but, in the spirit of a friend, suggesting those defects in the Spanish constitution which every Spaniard was most ready to admit. If Spain had possessed the means of opposing effectual resistance to France, then she would probably have been right in the unyielding course she had adopted; but, if—which he feared—she had not at the moment adequate means to repel invasion, then he thought it would have been better for her to have adopted a different resolution. It was suggested to her by a friendly power, in a friendly manner; and, in his opinion, by yielding a little, and on points which she might have conceded without derogating from her character, she would have better consulted her interests. All this, however, related solely to the situation of Spain and France.—Then came the question, What ought to be the policy of England in this crisis? And he would contend, that his majesty's government had acted wisely in proclaiming to Europe that she was determined to maintain a neutrality—a strict neutrality. That was the proper policy of Great Britain. He could by no means see all the dangers to this country which the hon. gentleman had described in the latter part of his speech, even should France attain her immediate object. In the first place, he would ask the hon. gentleman and his friends, who had been so continually pressing the reduction of our estsblishments and the diminution of our taxation, in what situation this country would have now been placed, if the policy which they recommended with respect to France and Spain had been pursued? If, at Verona, we had remonstrated, and, finding our remonstrances in vain, had armed in support of our opinions, instead of having had any taxes taken off during the present session, we must before now have consented to the imposition of heavy additional taxes. And, after all, how could we have efficiently supported Spain? He knew it had been said, that it would only have been necessary for us to equip a fleet. But it was perfectly idle to talk of seriously supporting the cause of Spain, unless we supported it as we had done during the last war. He could not, however see any thing in the present state of Europe which would justify us in lightly entering upon such a contest. He was not ready to incur such a risk; not only 1332 with respect to this country, but even as if affected Spain herself. If Spain were, now united and determined to be free, the case might be different; but she contained a divided people. France could not embarrass England, unless she could command the whole resources of such a country as Spain, and for a considerable space of time. There was no likelihood of her being able to do so. Her possession of Spain, supposing she acquired any, could only be temporary. The entire possession of Spain was quite impracticable. In order to make the possession of Spain by France dangerous to England, she must remain in that possession for a considerable period. But, did not the experience of late years establish the hopelessness of any such expectation on the part of France? Did it not prove the insuperable difficulty of keeping what it was sufficiently difficult to obtain? Besides, if the Spaniards were not generally hostile to France, all our efforts in that country—limited as they must necessarily be in comparison with those of the late war—would be unavailing. Under all the possible circumstances of the case, he was decidedly of opinion that war was not our present policy. Having stated his conviction that a state of neutrality best befitted this country, he must be permitted to lament the language made use of by gentlemen opposite, on the first day of the session. It was impolitic to have used it; seeing that such language was only calculated to plunge the country into a war, which ought to be avoided. He must deprecate such warmth, and insist, that the neutrality wisely determined upon by his majesty's government, was that which the country called for, and circumstances justified. These being shortly his opinions, he would conclude with moving, by way of Amendment, to leave out from the word "commend," to the end of the question, in order to add the words, "To assure his majesty of our entire concurrence in the principles which his majesty has repeatedly declared with respect to interference in the internal concerns of independent nations, and in his majesty's just application of those principles in the course of the late negotiations to the case of Spain:
"To acknowledge with gratitude his majesty's earnest and unwearied endeavours to preserve the peace of Europe:
"To express our deep regret that those endeavours have proved unavailing, and, 1333 while we rejoice that his majesty has not become party to a war in which neither honour, nor treaty, nor the welfare of his majesty's dominions, required his majesty to engage, to assure his majesty, that, highly as we estimate the advantages of peace, particularly at the present moment, we shall be at all times ready to afford to his majesty our most zealous and affectionate support in any measures which his majesty may find necessary to fulfil the obligations of national faith, to vindicate the dignity of his crown, or to maintain the rights and interests of his people," instead thereof.
§ Mr. Thomas Wilson
said, that he rose with pleasure to second the amendment, concurring as he did in all that had fallen from the hon. member for Yorkshire, and more particularly in that part of it respecting the conduct of ministers in their prompt and steady decision upon the line of conduct which they had pursued in the course of these negotiations. He was sure that in these sentiments he represented the feeling of a great body of his constituents, and he was sure also that it was their desire, as it was his, that his majesty's government should persevere in their adherence to the principles of honest neutrality, and to a spirit of conciliation both towards Spain and France. He, therefore, strongly recommended to his majesty's government, to persevere in the course which they had begun, and, to pursue, in a spirit of conciliation, the means best adapted for maintaining the blessings of peace. By the adoption of such a course, they would keep themselves in that situation which was most likely to afford them the ultimate means of assisting either of the parties, and enabling them to escape from the perilous situation in which they, at present, stood. To expect that such a mass of papers would give universal satisfaction would be unreasonable; but, he had no hesitation in saying, when he looked at them as a whole, that he thought they proved that ministers had done every thing which honour, firmness, and consistency of character required from them, and that they deserved the thanks of the people. He had listened with attention to the speech of the hon. mover of the address, and he must say, that his sentiments in favour of neutrality had not been at all weakened by the arguments of the hon. gentleman. The hon. member had, indeed, strenuously contended, that his majesty's government had 1334 failed in conducting the negotiations with suitable energy; that they had lost the time of opposing with effect; and that had they threatened more active exertions in the cause of Spain, the war might have been avoided. He could not go along with the hon. member, in such a conclusion; nor did he think that such a result would have attended the determination of this country to throw away the scabbard. But, when he argued in favour of the policy of neutrality, he wished not to be understood as approving of the conduct of France towards Spain—It was a conduct which no Englishman, valuing the institutions of his country, could see without the greatest execration. [Cheers.] In no other terms did be wish to characterize the invasion of Spain, or the efforts of the Army of the Faith to organize revolt with French means. These were acts which no Englishman could contemplate without entertaining a constitutional disrespect for the government which had ventured to violate those principles which all freemen cherished. He did not mean to say that England had a right to assume the attitude of being the arbiter of the world, and that those persons who did not assent to her views were to be stigmatised by epithets, and in a tone which lowered the dignity of that House, and of its debates, and caused feelings of great irritation to mix themselves up in the consideration of public affairs. Those gentlemen who indulged in this invective should recollect the effect it was calculated to pro duce upon those who were the allies of Great Britain. The hon. mover had talked of the hatred of tyrants being invincible towards this country. He was not afraid of the feelings of other powers towards this country. He entertained no fear of the interference of the continental powers in the affairs of this country, in consequence of our not having adopted the chivalrous course of politics pointed out by the hon. member. He was confident she would always be in a situation to maintain her rank in the scale of nations. Nevertheless, his decided opinion was, that the line of policy best suited to Great Britain at this moment was neutrality, and a strict determination; on the part of the government, husband the national resources, for the purpose of placing the country in such a situation as would enable us to engage with all our energies in defence of the national honour and national interests of our country, 1335 should either the one, or the other be, menaced by the posture of affairs upon the continent.
said, he could not refrain from the expression of his feelings, in unison with those of every man who felt as an Englishman, in condemnation of what he conceived to be the gross failure of the negotiations, and the consequent degradation to which this country had been reduced by the measures adopted by the right hon. secretary opposite, and his colleagues in office. And, when he expressed those feelings, he begged at the same time to congratulate the House upon the tone and temper of the speeches which had been delivered both by the hon. mover and the seconder of the amendment. Here, at least, they had the consolation of not hearing language fostered by British hearts tainted by the base principles of foreign despots—language unfit to be heard by British ears, and in direct variance with every principle and feeling of which an Englishman ought tobe proud. Such language, he grieved to say, had been uttered elsewhere, in a place to which he could not, consistently with parliamentary order, more particularly allude, which it would have been better to have uttered among the despots at Verona, when sealing the destiny of freemen, than to have reserved for utterance in a British parliament. It was but justice to the hon. mover and seconder of the amendment to say, that they had not followed the offensive example which he had deprecated. They at least had saved themselves from the odium of such language; and had avowed the self same principles which he and those with whom he acted had declared. The only difference was, that they failed in arriving at the same conclusion. With this difference, they agreed upon terms. They had spoken out like Englishmen, in reprobation of despotism and injustice. Still, it was singular, that the very proper language of his hon. friend, who moved the original address, had been censured by the hon. member who spoke last, and more particularly after the language which he had applied to the outrage of France against Spain. The hon. member had properly said, that it deserved the "greatest execration." The hon. member could not, by possibility, have used an epithet better designating the feeling of every honest bosom at the invasion of Spain. And if, as it ought to be, it was followed up with the vote which 1336 was the natural consequence of it, then he would say, that the citizens of London had never a more proper representative than the hon. member, who now spoke, as it became him to do, the language of his constituents. He was convinced, however, that the hon member was incorrect, when he imputed to the great majority of his constituents a coincidence of opinion with himself on the subject of neutral policy. It was very difficult for the representative of a large city to catch the general opinion of his constituents; unless when that opinion was unequivocally expressed at a great public meeting. He (Mr. H.) had the honour of being one of the representatives of a larger part of the metropolis than the hon. gentleman opposite; and his experience of the sentiments of his constituents was directly the reverse of that of the hon. gentleman; for if be knew any thing of their feelings, he thought that, notwithstanding the exertions which his constituents had made during the late expensive and protracted war, notwithstanding the heavy burthens they were now bearing—not owing to any fault of their own, but to those of others over whom they had no control—they would gladly make any sacrifice for the maintenance of a firmer policy than the one which his majesty's government had adopted. [Hear, hear, from the Treasury benches.] He had no doubt of the fact; and that they would submit to any privations, if it could be clearly shown to them, that those privations were necessary for the maintenance of the liberties of Europe. The honour of England was involved in the preservation of the free institutions of, the continent; and Englishmen would be happy to afford the utmost support to a government bent on the preservation of the institutions of freedom. [Hear, hear.] He did not wish to be misunderstood upon this point. He did not mean to say that his constituents were ready to support any ministerial war which might be entered into, for the purpose of obtaining this or that province; for the purpose of obtaining the navigation of the Scheldt; or in order to recover this or that Swiss canton; but he meant to say that, in the event of any war against the tyrant kings of Europe, the people would undoubtedly go hand id, hand with ministers in support of such a war. These were his sentiments, and, he believed, those of his constituents also. But, even if he had the misfortune to differ from his, constituents, still he would 1337 entertain such sentiments; and, sooner than relinquish them, he would at once, proud as he was of the honour it conferred upon him, resign his seat in that House. He had to complain, among other things, that the hon. member who moved the amendment had, in the course of his speech, greatly misrepresented the language used by the Spanish minister, M. de San Miguel. He had declared that minister to have expressed himself as satisfied with the conduct of England. Now, that minister had, on the contrary, clearly pointed out to our government a widely different course; observing, that by doing so they would adopt a line worthy of them and worthy of the great nation over whose councils they presided. The following were the words made use by M. de San Miguel:—"The government of his majesty has received with gratitude, but without surprise, the verbal communication, purporting that the cabinet of his Britannic majesty, respecting the independence and the political institutions adopted by the (Spanish) nation, is determined not to interfere in our domestic affairs. Nothing else could be expected from the government of a nation which, like the British, knows its rights, and the primordial principles of public law; and it is only to be wondered at, that it should not think it expedient to give to a declaration of such obvious justice the solemnity which it deserves." Now, he at once objected to the course of argument pursued by the hon. mover of the amendment, and he founded his objection upon the following passage in M. de San Miguel's correspondence: "The ties of intimate regard, the principles of mutual convenience, and the analogy of the respective institutions which exist in Spain and in England—do they not positively entitle the former, overwhelmed by difficulties, to expect from the latter, whose political influence is of the greatest weight, some-thing more than simple and abstract justice—something more than a passive respect for universal laws, than a cold and insensible neutrality?" Here, certainly, was no disguise, no ambiguity. They saw a gallant nation avowing a gallant nation avowing the difficulties with which she was surrounded, candidly admitting the situation in which she was placed, and stating at the same time, something under such circumstances, she expected from us "something more than simple and abstract justice—something more than a passive respect for universal 1338 laws, than a cold and insensible neutrality" M. de San Miguel went on to show that we had done nothing more than pronounce an hypothetical theory; that while we offered our interference, we in fact, did nothing to prevent the mischief we apprehended For he went on to say—"And if some tender interest, such as befits two nations in similar circumstances, exist in the court of London, that it does not manifest itself in visible acts of friendly interposition to save its ally from evils in which humanity wisdom, and even cautious and provident state policy will sympathize? Or how is it that (if these benevolent acts exist) they are not communicated to the cabinet of his catholic majesty?"
Where, now, were the arguments of the hon. member for the county of York? Why one would hardly imagine that they had both alluded to the same document. Here was a direct accusation against his majesty's ministers, couched in the very language of complaint used by himself and his hon. friends; and even his hon. friend (Mr. Macdonald) who introduced the motion, did nothing more than amplify that which had been expressed with so much pathos by the Spanish minister, and which, whatever took place, would stamp indelible disgrace upon those ministers who had neglected to follow that direct and honourable course which lay open to them. M. de San Miguel, in asking, "if some tender interest exists, &c," evidently doubted that there existed any such. Did any doubt now remain as to the existence of such tender interest? "De non apparentibus et de non existentibus eadem est ratio." No such tender interest appeared; and, therefore, he was bound to conclude that no such existed. He begged pardon for troubling the House with so many quotations from the papers; but he really felt them necessary to his argument. He hoped, so far as he had gone, he had not misquoted any of the documents [No, no!—hear, hear!] Well, then she went on [a laugh] He knew not the ground for that laugh. He had used the term, she, as applied to Spain. Well, then, Spain, or her minister went on as follows;—"The acts to which I allude, would in no wise compromise the most strictly conceived system of neutrality. Good offices counsels the reflections of one friend in favour of another, do not place a nation in concert of attack or defence with another, do not 1339 Expose it to the enmity of the opposite party, even if they do not deserve its gratitude—they are not (in a word) effective aid, troops, arms, subsidies, which augment the force of one of the contending parties. It is of reason only that we are speaking, and—it is with the pen of conciliation that a power, situated like Great Britain, might support Spain, without exposing herself to take part in a war, which she may perhaps prevent with general utility. England might act in this manner; being able, ought she so to act? and if she ought, has she acted so? In the wise, just, and generous views of the government of St. James, no other answer can exist than the affirmative. Why then does she not notify to Spain what has been done, and what it is proposed to do, in that mediatory sense (en aquel sentido mediador)? Are there weighty inconveniences which enjoin discretion which show the necessity of secrecy? They do not appear to an ordinary penetration." Now, after having ventured to trouble the House with this extract, he would appeal to the candour of any member, who possessed the power of reading, whether the hon. member for Yorkshire had fairly quoted the documents in question, and whether the government of Spain had acquiesced in and approved of the course pursued by our government in this transaction? So far from it, that the very next paragraph distinctly pointed out what the whole matter hinged upon, and even the hon. member for the county of York himself would perceive what was the real state of the case. It was as follows:—"Nevertheless, in such uncertainty of what she has to thank the British ministry for, the government of his Catholic majesty thinks itself bound to manifest, in the face of the world, in order that it may regard it as its profession of faith, that whilst it respects the rights of others, it will never admit the least intervention in its internal concerns, nor execute an act which may compromise, in the least, the free exercise of national sovereignty."
After this declaration on the part of M. de San Miguel—after he had declared that Spain would not concede one iota of national sovereignty, or one principle of her political institutions—what did we do to convince Spain that we intended to mediate, in the same sense that he had considered that intention in. We sent over lord Fitzroy Somerset with a memorandum from the duke of Wellington. It 1340 would have been natural to suppose, from the character of the duke, and from all that he had before achieved in Spain, that the memorandum transmitted by his grace would have been couched in terms becoming any lover of independence, any lover at least of heroism. But, notwithstanding the comparison which had been instituted elsewhere between the duke of Wellington and another great general and statesman of former days; he (Mr. H) could not concur in one part of the eulogy, which a noble lord had pronounced upon, him. At least, it could not be said of the duke of Wellington, "eodem animo scripsit quo bellavit." This memorandum was but a poor performance after all; and therefore he would say no more upon, the matter of its composition. But our government thought, it seemed, that the duke of Wellington had a right, from the great and peculiar services which he had rendered to Spain, to give her his friendly counsel. Did, however, the noble duke offer that counsel in the only way in which M. de San Miguel had said it could have effect? namely, in such a way as might preserve the principle of national sovereignty? He did not. And not only was this the case, but the memorandum went to such lengths—it pointed to such concessions—it was contrived with so much sophistry—that it was quite impossible to learn from it what it was, that the duke himself wished Spain to do. It had been said, that the duke had some right to give her advice, by reason of the splendid services he had performed for Spain; but, was he not bound, on the self same principle, to offer his counsel to France? He should like to know, whether the services his grace had rendered to France were not at least equal to those which he had done to Spain? He should wish to be informed, whether the amazing services which the duke had performed for that ungrateful family—as he must ever call them—which sat upon the French throne, were not equal to any of those which the same distinguished individual had had the happiness of performing in behalf of Spain. Did the noble duke give the same advice to France then as he had favoured Spain with? In one of his speeches on this subject, the right hon. secretary of state (Mr. Canning) had, indeed, made use of the word, "remonstrance," and he (Mr. H.) was quite delighted in consequence. He had, however, looked through the whole of the 1341 papers, page by page, in the hope of finding that expression somewhere used; but with all his hopes and all his wishes, he could sec nothing like "remonstrance" in the entire collection. None, at least, as applying to France; but, as to Spain, remonstrance, certainly. Now, what was it that the English minister said to Spain? He said, that our mediation would be afforded to her on two grounds: "If Spain be disposed to solicit that mediation, she will entitle herself to it, first by redressing our grievances; and secondly, by a confidential and spontaneous assurance that his catholic majesty and his family are altogether safe from violence." Why, was this the time—the time in which Spain openly avowed herself to be distressed, when she said to England with a generous and gallant confidence, "Help us, or we sink,"—was this the time for a British minister to use such language?—to say to her, "Do this first; in order to entitle you to ask our mediation?" It was true, indeed, that the right hon. secretary, on a former night, had said, "he hoped the House would not suppose that he had taken such an opportunity to press that redress upon the government of Spain." But, what was the House to think of the expressions which he (Mr. H.) had quoted? Did it not amount to this:—"Redress our grievances first; and then we will tell you, whether we will assist you with our mediation or not." And, why was this proviso suggested about the king? What right had we to insist upon conditions with Spain, as to what she should do in respect to her king? But, thus it was:—we took care to make conditions for the king; but we never said a word about the people. In these days, an English minister scorned to stipulate for, or to consult the people. All that he asked was, security for that cursed monarchical principle—[Cries of "Hear, hear," from the ministerial benches, and repeated from the Opposition,]—that cursed monarchical principle, for which he (Mr. H.) supposed all was to be given up. [Hear!]. He knew very well what he was saying. He was addressing an English House of Commons; and surely, as this principle had lately been expounded by the despots of Europe, he had a right o complain of it. It had blasted all the fair hopes and promises that had been held out to the nations: it had rendered null and void all the mighty efforts which this country had put forth, and had de- 1342 feated the object of that vast expense of blood and treasure, which, was intended to ensure security for ourselves, and to establish the liberties of Europe.
The hon. member for Yorkshire had praised ministers that evening, for resolving to maintain "at all events," the peace of Europe. Now, what was the meaning of the phrase, "at all events?" It obviously meant something or nothing. If it meant the preservation of peace in any event whatever, that might arise, the hon. member himself knew not what he said. In that sense of the words, he was sure the hon. member had too much spirit to vote away the honour of the country, "at all events." The hon. member, then, must have intended to say, "at all events" as applying to any that—looking to the time at which ministers so determined—might then occur. And here be must take the liberty of repeating the observation of his hon. friend (Mr. Macdonald), that nothing else could be expected from the congress of Verona, but a continuation of those aggressions and encroachments on the liberties of states, which had been so long committed, and were so much to be deplored. The inevitable result and continuance of this system, had been foretold and deprecated, not only upon his (Mr. H.'s) side of the House, but even by the noble predecessor of the right hon. secretary. In proof of this assertion, he had only to refer to the state papers issued by the late lord Londonderry, at the congresses of Troppau and Laybach. He recollected very well, that when the occupation of Naples was the subject of discussion, the hon. member for Yorkshire was among the foremost in that House, to declare his abhorrence of the principle of intervention which at that time existed among the allied sovereigns. It had been said by the right hon. secretary on a former evening, that at the congress of Verona it was not at first expected that the affairs of Spain would form a prominent feature of discussion. But it should be recollected, that in the declaration of Troppau, it was stated, that he allied powers looked at the revolutions of Spain, Portugal, and Naples, in the same point of view. It was further stated, on their removal to Laybach, that the affairs of Naples were to be considered first. After the declaration of the 12th of May, and after the military occupation of Naples, was it consistent to suppose that these holy allies would ever slumber, or take 1343 their eyes off Spain, while a free constitution was to be found in that country? For his own part, he thought the kings perfectly right. True, be abhorred their principles; but still he maintained, that so long as Spain retained a free constitution, so long would it be impossible for these holy powers fully to establish their alliances, or to carry into complete effect their principle of universal despotism.
But it was now asked, how any one could suppose, that Spain would afterwards become the object of the discussions at Verona? He knew not whether so insignificant a fact was worth mentioning; but he himself happened to be at Verona at the time of the sitting of the congress; and he could undertake to say, that no man in Italy, that no man even in the south of Europe, of any intelligence, ever supposed at that time that Italy was really to be the subject of discussion. There was, indeed, in Italy something like a movement of corps; but what did it amount to? One corps crossed a mountain, and was succeeded by another corps, or took up a neighbouring position; and in this way, too, 17,000 men crossed from one bank of the Po to the other, where they encamped, in order to be in readiness to recross the river when necessary. But every body in Verona knew perfectly well, that the deliberations of the congress assembled there regarded Spain. He would, however, do the right hon. secretary the justice to say, that he did not think that right hon. gentleman was much mistaken about the feeling of congress, when it broke up. He (Mr. H) really thought that it was not then imagined there would be a war with Spain. He happened to know, that there was a general complaint on that occasion, in Verona, about the result of the congress. The aid-de-camps or other retainers of the monarchs were heard to murmur at the fruitless errand which had brought them from the walls of China, the banks of the Wolga, or the frontiers of Turkey, merely to make part of a pageant. But the fact which he had admitted only made the enormity of the thing the greater. Congress had broken up, being deterred from the meditated war, by their apprehensions of the indignation of Europe, and the menaces of offended justice; and yet we were to be made the victims of a wretched miserable intrigue, got up in the Tuileries; or of the cunning and influence of a contemptible Corsican ad- 1344 venturer, who, to make good some bet, perhaps, in the Salon des Etrangers at Paris, had at last so manœuvered as to drive the French minister into a war.
The part which the right hon. secretary (Mr. Canning) had been called upon to play was one of the greatest and the noblest that a minister ever had to perform. Unhappily, the right hon. gentleman preferred to follow in the path which had been trodden by his predecessor; and was willing to Sacrifice the glory of asserting the honour and character of the country to a perseverance in the fatal system to which that unfortunate nobleman had committed himself. He (Mr. H.) was aware of the delicate ground upon which he was treading; he knew that beneath it were the "cineres adhuc calentes" of the deceased minister, and he was willing and too minutely to scrutinize his demerits in that capacity. But death should not canonize his errors, and be must say, that the policy of that nobleman was of all others the most fatal ever adopted by a British minister. Whether he (Mr. H.) was right or no, he would only judge from the manner in which his opinion was backed by that of others. He had visited almost every country in Europe, and he knew that there was hardly one of those states which did not look up to the late lord Londonderry, as to one of the principal causes of their present condition. He could only tell the right hon. secretary, that when he succeeded to office, he succeeded with more hopes, more expectations, more wishes—good wishes, it might be added—than had ever in this country hailed the entrance of any foreign minister into office. This was quite true. He knew not how the right hon. gentleman happened to have collected round himself such a halo of hopes; but he (Mr. H.) did very well recollect to have heard in that territory which had most suffered through our disastrous policy—he meant the Milanese states—and to have heard, not from the common people, as they were called, but from persons of the first rank and importance there—much congratulation on the subject of the right hon. gentleman's becoming foreign secretary. "Well," it was said, "your lord Londonderry is now no more; and since you have that gentleman" (naming Mr. Canning) "for his successor, we do hope and trust that he will be neither influenced nor restrained by those gentlemen who form the company of the ante-chambers of foreign 1345 monarchs. We hope that he may know and feel that his lordship has been deceived, and that England, in abandoning the part of the people and taking the side of the sovereigns, has taken a fatal and ruinous step which nothing can retract or atone for, but a decided change of policy." Elsewhere, however, he (Mr. H.) had heard something which was even a great deal more to the right hon. gentleman's credit, for it was the excessive discontent and vexation with him, which was expressed by the under ministers and attendants, and retinue of prince Metternich and count Nesselrode, and all the other gentlemen of the ante-chambers of the allied sovereigns. "Oh," said they, "matters will go poorly with us now in England: the patron of legitimacy is no more; and in his place we find a liberal; nay, more, a very radical,"—to which he (Mr. H.) only replied, "I am afraid not quite" [A laugh!] Whether this was what the right hon. gentleman would accept in the light of a compliment he knew not; but so, undoubtedly, stood the facts. The same sentiment followed the right hon. gentleman, for he was held up by the followers of M. de Montmorenci, and by the ultras of the Fauxbourg St. Germain, to hatred and execration.
From all these circumstances he had formed some hopes, he confessed, of the right hon. gentleman. He did venture to think, that something was yet to be done for our honour and character, if only from the mere love of contraries, and if it was only that an opposite course to that which had been pursued by lord Londonderry was to be taken. But when he heard the Speech, delivered at the opening of the present session, from the throne, and the addresses that were voted—the language of which was very like that of the speeches to-night of the hon. members for York and for the city of London—he did gravely believe, that a radical had actually come into office. [A laugh.] He was sanguine enough to believe, that an honourable and manly conduct was at length to be pursued. If he was wrong, he could only say, that he would at any time rather be a dupe to his good opinion of any man, than be a prey to the pains of perpetual suspicion and mistrust. But, it appeared he had been wrong, and that the right hon. secretary had closely followed in the footsteps of his predecessor. The right hon. gentleman appeared to be a friend to Spain—he would 1346 not say for the designed purpose, for he could not believe any thing which would be so discreditable to the right hon. gentleman; but—with the effect of making her disgrace; herself That seemed to be the only effect which his friendship would produce. He well recollected, that on a recent occasion—the presenting a petition against the foreign enlistment bill—there was a rumour abroad, which he found it difficult to believe; he thought that some enemy to the right hon. gentleman must have put it into the public papers. It was, that at that period sir W. A'Court and lord Fitzroy Somerset were trying to make the Spaniards modify their constitution. When gentlemen on his (the Opposition) side of the House heard that such a report was abroad, they; said, "Oh no! it cannot be." [A laugh!] And yet, what had the fact turned out to be? Why, that the very interposition supposed to be so impossible—the effort, lot to save, but to degrade Spain—had actually been made by our recommendation to her to sacrifice her honour and her interests, by resigning her independence. He could not help thinking, that the late lord Londonderry, had he lived, would, in one respect, have acted a preferable part to the right hon. secretary. He would either have felt, that the first menace of France was clearly against the principles of his own circular in 1820, and would have resisted it at once—or he would have boldly resolved to adopt the principles of the alliance; but, in either determination, he would have assembled parliament and affected at least to consult us friends in that House. But, what did he right hon. gentlemen do?—Parliament was not assembled until the latest moment; and when it did assemble, especial care was taken in the king's speech, to omit all intimation of the policy which government had resolved to pursue. Rumour said, that the foreign secretary had prevailed over his brother ministers, in procuring the omission of he words "strict neutrality" in his majesty's speech—and likely enough; for, week after week, doubtful language fell from that gentleman, until the fatal phrase at last dropped from the lips of the prime minister in the other House; and, this country then knew the extent of her disgrace.
But, although ministers might have made up their own minds to thin base policy, what surprised him was, that they 1347 should ever have supposed Spain could consent to modify her constitution. What sort of modification would content France, no one could collect from the papers before the House. In fact, Spain had but one line to pursue; for in politics as in morals, "Linea recta velut sola est sed mille recuro." This straight forward course Spain had followed in spite of the menaces of foes—in spite of the base advice of friends; and, to contrast with this noble conduct what was the course adopted by England? When it was known that this injustice was to be attempted, the right hon. gentleman said—"Come what may, England will be no party to this matter." Suppose a man had two friends, and knew that one was going to rob the other: and instead of going to the former and saying that he knew a man who was going to rob him, he were to say, "I would advise you to give away a little bit of your property: put a little money under your door, and I think I can guarantee you from having your throat cut in the middle of the night." [Hear, hear!] He would here beg to recall to the right hon. gentleman's recollection what was his tone in 1808. He knew that an attempt had been made to separate, as distinct, the position of Spain at that time from what it was at present. In his opinion, the cases bore a very strong resemblance; and by a strange coincidence the new congresses of Laybach and Verona furnished a strong parallel to that of Erfurt. The latter was assembled, as Napoleon said, for the purposes of securing the peace of Europe, and of arranging the affairs of Spain; and, after that congress, peace was offered to England by Napoleon and the emperor of Russia. The right hon. gentleman, then secretary for foreign affairs, answered the proposition in the following language—at least such was the language of the king's declaration, dated, Westminster, Dec. 15, 1808. As the chief reason for declining the overtures, he says, "The universal Spanish nation is described by the degrading appellation of the Spanish insurgents, and the demand for the admission of the government of Spain as a party to any negotiation is rejected as inadmissible and insulting." What followed might well serve to show what was the real sincerity and friendship of those allies, for whom the right hon. gentleman was disposed to sacrifice so much. With astonishment, as well as 1348 with grief, his majesty has received from the emperor of Russia a reply similar in effect, though less indecorous in tone and manner. The emperor of Russia also stigmatises as 'insurrection' the glorious efforts of the Spanish people in behalf of their legitimate sovereign, and in defence of the independence of their country; thus giving the sanction of his imperial majesty's authority, to an usurpation which has no parallel in the history of the world." At that time France was united with Russia as she was now, and Austria would have joined her, but did not for the best of all reasons; namely, that Napoleon would not let her. This appears from a curious correspondence between prince Metternich and M. Champagny, the French minister for foreign affairs. To show the disposition of prince Metternich—the prince of all legitimate ministers—it was only necessary to observe, that he told the French minister, that if king Joseph had not been recognized as king of Spain, it must be attributed to the congress at Erfurt; for if the presence of his master or even of himself—this legitimate minister—had only been permitted, the claim of Joseph to be king would have been recognized. At this time, it was clear that the right hon. gentleman had a good knowledge of the persons on whose behalf he now showed so much interest. It was about two months after the breaking out of this struggle in Spain in 1808, that king George the third closed the parliament in these terms:—"His majesty views with lively interest the loyal and determined spirit manifested by the Spanish nation in resisting the violence and perfidy with which her dearest rights have been assailed. The Spanish nation, thus nobly struggling against invasion, can no longer be considered as the enemy of Great Britain, but is recognized by Great Britain as a natural friend and ally. We are commanded to inform you, that communications have been received from several provinces in Spain, soliciting the assistance of his majesty; which communications his majesty has received with every demonstration of good-will and attention. In contributing to the success of this great and glorious cause, his majesty has no other object than that of restoring, unimpaired, the independence and integrity of the Spanish nation; but he trusts that the same efforts that are employed in this great object may, under the blessing of Divine Providence, lead, 1349 by their effects and their example, to the restoration of the peace and liberties of Europe."
Now, what sentiments could be more magnanimous than these—what more proper for a British minister—what more fitting to be held up for future imitation? The right hon. gentleman would say, the present was an extremely different case—that we were not now at war with France. No doubt, it was a different case in point of interest, but not in point of honour. In the former instance, when any nation threw off her alliance with France, we took her into our alliance directly for that very reason; but he trusted that the right hon. gentleman had too much magnanimity and spirit to look only to the question of interest, and now, when we did not want Spain, but when Spain wanted us, to forget the peace and to desert the liberties of Europe—to forget her rights and the independence of nations, and every thing which the right hon. gentleman once found it so convenient to vindicate. It was said, that Spain was now divided, and that she was then united. This he denied. So far from being then united, all the members of the Spanish dynasty, many of the grandees, all the principal magistrates, the constituted authorities of Madrid, and the higher powers, particularly those exercising the great office of inquisitor-general, were every one of them against the independence of their country. One of the arguments then made use of by the right hon. gentleman in that House, and by lord Liverpool in the other—some premature motion having been made by the late Mr. Sheridan, calling upon the country to explain herself with regard to Spain—was, that at that period only five or six of the provinces of Spain had declared themselves. However, England shortly after did embrace the cause of Spain: the voice of that country spoke out—spoke out for freedom, and drowned in its swelling and triumphant shout the corrupt and feeble croaking of inquisitors and of slaves. At that period, the language used by the inquisitors was precisely the same as the language of Lows 18th at the present day. The inquisitors said, that the people of Spain were not to be trusted; that their enthusiasm unfitted them for grave considerations, of national policy; that the legitimate authorities of the country were to have the sole controul and direction. Such 1350 was the language of the inquisitors; such also was the language of Louis 18th when he said, "Let Ferdinand 7th be free to give a constitution to his people, which they cannot obtain but from him." With respect to the prospects of the Spanish patriots in 1808 and 1823, he was of opinion that the present prospects were by far the most promising. When the revolution broke out in 1808, there were 130,000 Frenchmen south of the Ebro, and 60,000 French soldiers in Madrid and its vicinity; but in two months after the revolution broke out, not a single Frenchman in arms was to be found south of the Ebro. Such was the effect of the brave and glorious efforts of the Spaniards in 1808. All he would say now was, that he would join with the right hon. gentleman in fervently praying for the assistance of heaven on behalf of the cause of the Spaniards. Whether the cause should fall or triumph, he hoped that an English House of Commons would that night show to the world that it appreciated our national character—that it appreciated the ancient glories of England—and that it would restore us to the proud and honourable situation we once held—that of being the friend and patron of the liberties of mankind. [Cheers!]
§ Sir W. De Crespigny
declared himself an advocate for a strict neutrality. Nobody could detest the conduct of France with regard to Spain more than he did; but, he also thought it his duty to consider, first of all, the honour and safety of his own country [coughing]. If the member, who appeared so afflicted with a cold, imagined that he was to be deterred from stating his sentiments, he was very much mistaken. That hon. member had better go home and nurse himself. He could not see why this country, which had spent six hundred millions to set the Bourbons up, should now spend as much more to pull them down again. He felt it his duty to protest against the principle of making England a party to every war which occurred, for which she was always addled with the expense and had to pay the piper. He should oppose any measure likely to embroil us in another war.
said, he had listened with great attention to ascertain, if possible, from the hon. mover and those who supported him, whether they wished the House to consider the passage of the French army into Spain as a good cause of war on our parts against France. He 1351 understood that those hon. members did not go that length; but confined themselves to stating, that a different course of negotiation on our parts would have preserved peace between France and Spain. It had, however, been admitted on all hands, that it would have been extremely unworthy of the British government to assume a menacing tone towards France, unless we were really determined to go to war with that power, provided it disregarded our advice. He entirely concurred in that opinion; and he was perfectly satisfied, that the infatuation of the court of France was so great, that nothing short of war, on the part of England, could have deterred her from the monstrous and horrid aggression upon Spain. He did not hesitate for one moment so to characterise the attack which France had made upon Spain. He believed that but one sentiment prevailed in that House, and in the country at large; and that was, a sentiment of strong indignation against the government of France, for its unjust attempt to trample upon the liberties of Spain. The case appeared to him to be this—the government of France was guilty of a gross violation of the laws of nations by invading a country, with which it was at peace, for the purpose of interference in its internal affairs. But, had England, on this ground, a right to enter upon hostilities with France. He decidedly thought, that she had not. He seriously questioned whether, had we gone to war, we should have been justified in doing so. We had no right, by any law of nations, to make ourselves the arbiters of the world.—In his opinion, we had no more right to intermeddle than France herself had. It would be perfectly monstrous to lay it down generally, as a rule, that when France declared herself on one side, we should immediately range ourselves on the other. With regard to Spain herself, no one knew—he was sure the hon. member for Westminster would not profess to know—the exact degree in which the Spaniards were divided among themselves; though it was certain that they were divided to some extent. Our taking up the subject, therefore, would be only taking it up in favour of one party against another. The Spanish minister had admitted, that all that was desired by Spain was neutrality. Mere views of interest were not a just cause of war; though he by no means admitted, that it would be our interest to go to war. We were now in the eighth year of peace, possessing a 1352 surplus revenue, and the means of relieving some of our burthens. He could not but ex press his surprise, that, with the same breath, hon. gentlemen should call for war, and also for that relief which could be obtained only by our refraining from war. He thought the danger, as between France and Spain, was greater to the dynasty of France than to the Spanish cause; and he should be as little surprised, as he should be sorry, to find that just punishment had overtaken the former. He thought that any fears of the union of France and Spain were altogether visionary. The Spanish constitution might be worth fighting for by the Spaniards themselves, but not by this country. He, nevertheless, admired the spirit of the Spaniards in refusing to make any alteration in that constitution, in compliance with a foreign menace. There had, however, been so much hesitation in the French councils, that he really thought it doubtful, whether they intended, in the first instance, to act as they now had. On the whole, he saw every thing to commend in the course which had been taken by his majesty's ministers to maintain a strict neutrality. He thought, too, that the war between France and Spain was very likely to become an unpopular war in France; but that, if it were once made an English war, it would immediately become popular. The hon. gentleman concluded by declaring, that he should vote for the amendment.
said, that if any attempt had been made at catching a few extra votes, it had not been on his (the Opposition) side of the House, but on the side over the way, where it was maintained, that the only question before them, was one of peace or war. He asserted, that no such decision was involved in an assent to the address of his hon. friend; and he was further prepared to maintain, that this country was more exposed to the probable chances of war, by the course which his majesty's government had pursued, than it could have been by the adoption of a tone of firm and vigorous remonstrance, from the beginning. What was the situation of this country, with reference to her continental allies? We had now been joined with them for some seven or eight years in treaties which had for their bases the general pacification of Europe. So far he was not disposed to object to the alliance; for we had, in fact, by our union with them, delivered Europe 1353 from the tyranny under which it had groaned: but that after this we should join with them, in any association having for its object an interference in the internal policy of other states, was what he strongly objected to. We should not only be no party to any such alliance; but it was not less our duty than our interest firmly to oppose it. In the negotiations respecting Saxony and the giving up of Genoa, there might have been great difference of opinion on our part, but not such as called upon us to interfere directly. But, that the principle of interference should have been extended to Spain, and that we should not have strongly remonstrated and threatened, was an absurdity which he found it impossible to comprehend. If, at the commencement of these negotiations, we had held this language to the allied powers: if we had said to Russia "The interest of Spain is one which concerns us particularly—you, Russia, separated as you are from us by a thousand or more miles, cannot have the same interest in what concerns Spain that we have—you may be interested in the concerns of Poland, or Austria in those of Italy, but the internal affairs of Spain cannot affect either of you materially, and therefore we must oppose ourselves to any such interference."—If language to this effect had been held at the commencement—and he maintained that such language and even stronger might have been held without the alternative of war; and further, he maintained, that the burden of showing that such an earnest tone had been adapted was thrown upon ministers—the result would have been very different from that which they had now to deplore. Looking at the correspondence which had been laid before the House, he saw no traces of any such earnestness on the part of government. The strongest expression in those papers was, that England would take no part in the affair. This cold and formal language was the strongest which ministers had used. He thought the case called for a much stronger and more earnest declaration of our opinions. But still he contended, it was unfair to suppose that, because he thought so, he and those who agreed with him were in favour of a war. It was said, that the conduct of France during these negotiations had been vacillating. But that very circumstance gave additional strength to his argument; for, if the councils of France and Austria were undecided, the probabi- 1354 lity was, that, a more strong and decided tone on our part would have been effectual in preserving peace. But, let the House look at the present state of affairs as they now were, and then ask themselves, whether the late negotiations had left any thing like a reasonable hope, that this country would not, at some stage of these transactions, be involved in hostilities? Putting out of view, for the moment, the chances of being involved for the support of our naval power, he begged it might be remembered, that we were bound by treaty to protect Portugal from aggression. Now, supposing France to be successful, and Ferdinand again seated on his throne, in the full possession of despotic power, could it be imagined that France and Spain would be such absolute idiots as to leave Portugal, which had the same constitution and acquired under nearly the same circumstances, unmolested? Was it possible, that they would be such idiots, avowing the principles which they did, as, having quenched the fire in Spain, to leave it still burning in the territories of their near neighbour, Portugal? The thing was not to be expected. Spain would consider that her work was not half done while that fire was left burning, which at some future period might again kindle up the Peninsula. It could not be the interest of despotic Spain to have a free government existing in Portugal. We should then hear of a cordon established on the frontiers of Portugal. And, if a handful of men could be got to raise a revolt in that country—and in any country newly-revolutionized the thing was not difficult—what would be the result? The French and Spanish troops would march into Portugal, on the same pretext with which the French were now marching into Spain. What, he would ask, under such circumstances, would be the conduct of this country? Should we step forward to aid our ancient ally to whom we were bound by treaty; or would ministers again, yielding to the sophisms of M. de Chateaubriand, leave Portugal to her fate, and observe a strict neutrality? The only conclusion, then, to which he could come, from the facts he had stated, and from their probable consequences which he had assumed, was, that a more vigorous and decisive conduct on the part of his majesty's ministers would have been effectual in checking the war, and would have left this country a much better chance of peace than she could now look forward to 1355 But, suppose France should not succeed—there would then, in all probability, occur a struggle within herself for the power of the reigning family—a struggle likely to involve the peace of Europe. If such an internal struggle should occur, he hoped to find those gentlemen who were now so fond of neutrality, acting upon their present principles. Looking at the question in whatever way he did, whether as tending to peace or war, he could not but think, that the adoption of strong language on the part of this country, at the commencement, would have averted the danger which now threatened us. The papers now before the House, he had no hesitation in describing as disgraceful to the talent of the country. There was not a child of ordinary capacity, who could not have put together arguments more conclusive, and better calculated to answer their ostensible object He never saw a set of public documents which showed such a want of common understanding as they did. If the House was prepared to pass a panegyric upon them, or even to say that they did not deserve censure, they must be prepared to sanction every thing that might originate with the ministerial side of the House.—If this question were viewed as far as it regarded the balance of power, he contended, that the influence of France in Spain—if she should succeed in obtaining an influence, would be most injurious in its tendency; that an intimate compact union between those two powers, established on the subversion of the constitution of the latter, would be more dangerous in its nature, than that which had been objected to in the reign of Louis 14th. That was a compact founded upon family ties, and upon a unity of religion; but here the bond of union would be an opposition to the spread of liberal principles, and to reform m every shape; and if, as was unfortunately but too well known to be the case, the other powers of Europe partook of this feeling, the consequences might be most dangerous to the best interests of this country. The disposition of the other powers of the continent was already proved, in their anxiety to get rid of liberal principles wherever they met them—a disposition which even the strongest Tory in this country must deprecate. They had already seen what attempts had been made to check every dawn of liberty in the German states; and how successful the enemies of free- 1356 dom had been, in procuring the violation, or the delay, of all the promises of constitutions which had been made. If, to the number of these enemies of independence, should be added two despotic monarchs of France and Spain, who had seen the inconvenience of admitting legislative assemblies into their system, it must he expected, that they would do every thing in their power, not merely to shut out the light from their own states, but to join the other despots of Europe, in keeping in check the only remaining power which had a free constitution—he meant England. It was no satisfactory answer to the rational fears entertained on this head to say, as had been said by one of his majesty's ministers in another place—"Why let them come." He thought it would be much better to ward off the danger in time, by preventing their having the power of coming. He thought that by a timely and spirited interference on the part of this country, all chance of a union would have been cut off. But his majesty's ministers had given up that opportunity; and, judging from the papers on the table, he could not but express his opinion, that they had not only neglected their duty, but neglected it in a manner disgraceful and dishonourable to the character of the country. He should therefore vote for the original motion.
§ Lord Francis Leveson Gower
said:—Sir, upon an occasion like the present, which naturally calls forth the talent and the eloquence of the most experienced members of this House, I feel that I owe it some apology for obtruding upon its attention a voice which I am fully conscious can have no real influence upon the result of its discussions. Fortuitous circumstances have induced me to take much interest in the affairs of Spain; and the House will perhaps indulge me so far as to allow that it is not unnatural, though it may be presumptuous in me, to wish to hazard the expression of my opinion this night. I shall give, Sir, my zealous vote against the motion of my hon. friend and relative who has proposed the original address to his majesty. I shall not attempt to defend that vole, however, by discussing the wide range of topics which have been necessarily dwelt open by that hon. gentleman; I shall not presume to expatiate on that extended circle which must be trodden by mightier spirits than myself. There is one point which has, to a certain extent, afforded a theme for de- 1357 clamation to my hon. friend and his supporters; though I confess, Sir, that from what I had heard in another place, I had anticipated more animadversion on the subject than has yet been bestowed. Be that as it may, my hon. friend has both expressed his own indignation and threatened ministers with a diffusion of that feeling through the country on account of certain measures, and to those measures or nearly to those, I shall confine myself. My hon. friend, Sir, accuses his majesty's ministers of having forfeited, or at least tarnished, the national honour, by recommending disgraceful concessions to a nation in distress. If, Sir, I thought that a minister of this country had united with France, or any other power, for the purpose of violating the rights of any third party inferior in force to both or to either, and with the fairer intention even of executing his own speculative ideas as to the better government of that country, I would give my vote to any motion calculated to inflict on that minister the disgrace which he merited. In this instance, I think the conduct of ministers is free from all such imputation, and I feel desirous of stating why I am led to such a conclusion.
It appears, Sir, from the papers on the table, that certain suggestions were thrown out to the Spanish government, the object of which was one for whose importance I shall simply refer to every speech from the other side of the House. That object was the prevention of war. Now, Sir, whatever was the advice which any one thought proper to give to a foreign state, the first question that I should ask that person, were he in any way responsible to me, would he, were you asked to interfere? Ministers are prepared for that interrogation. "We," they reply, "have obtruded no demand; we have acceded to a formal request, we were asked for our good offices for a specific object, the prevention of war; we gave them; we pointed out the only means by which we thought that object might be attained, and we left Spain to the free exercise of her judgment, as to their reception or rejection." This, Sir, is the simple manner in which the request of Spain was replied to, and it appears to me there was but one other equally simple mode of reply consistent with our friendship for Spain, a promise of armed interference in her favour. Neutrality, Sir, was our policy, a policy in which I heartily concur, but into the merits of which I shall not now 1358 enter, but shall take it for granted that it was decided on by the government and sanctioned by the country.
What were these suggestions? If, Sir, I may be allowed to suppose a case, I will for a moment indulge an imagination which I would fain see realized. I will suppose Spain in a state of security and prosperity. If in such a situation, threatened by no unjust aggression, she could, with the view of consolidating institutions founded at periods when action scarce left room for reflection, resolve to call on others for advice, if she could call on the general, who had fought her successful battles, or on any other, if another be, as warmly partial to her interests and as well qualified to assist her with his counsel, I cannot pronounce upon what such individuals might have recommended, but my conviction is, that their suggestions would have been essentially the same as those which were now proposed. I may possibly be told by those who voted, the other night, that our constitution needed improvement, that that of Spain needed none. I should be the last man to produce as argument or authority to this House the scanty information, and crude conceptions of an unpractised traveller, but I must say, that if, before I visited Spain, I could have yielded to such an argument, I cannot do so now.
With regard to the merit of these suggestions, theoretical politicians may differ. A pure republican might, for ought I. know, object to that clause in them which tended to invest an individual with some of the attributes as well as the mere name of monarch. I cannot, in deference to such politicians, admit the expediency of running counter to the spirit of a people. In spite of years of disgrace, humiliation and decay, under a succession of the weakest princes that ever reigned, Spain remains essentially royalist. However the frail creature who sways the sceptre of those realms may disgrace his office, his name is still the watchword which arms the most warlike of its population against his foreign enemy and his political adversary. In Spain, Sir, when the cause of any individual, however degraded, is upheld by the peasant, the guerrilla and the contrabandist, it is hard, even with reason on, our side, to quell such opponents.
These suggestions, whatever they were, were rejected, I think unfortunately. Unfortunately, because I think they would have prevented war. But not on that 1359 ground alone; for if they had failed in preventing hostilities, they were the most obvious means that human counsel could suggest for repelling the aggression. It might be difficult at once to soothe exasperated spirits; it might be impossible at once to unite Royalist and Constitutionalist against invading France; but, under such circumstances, "motor præstat componere fluctus," measures of such a tendency were not to be utterly neglected.
There may, however, be a difference of opinion as to the possibility of those measures attaining their object. Hon. gentlemen may think that an attempt, which to me appears to bear some of the features of a burst of insanity, was concerted with all the determined steadiness of reason; that in the French councils vacillation was unknown, that the rulers of those councils like the swine in scripture were so madly bent on the leap into that country which is the charnel house of half a million of their countrymen, that no such measures could have checked their progress. I Sir, think otherwise. I am convinced that before the die was thrown, before their honour—though I hesitate to give the name to the feelings of such politicians—was fully implicated; before their modern Rubicon was passed, they would have received with avidity from Spain any plausible means of conciliation. I believe, to use a vulgar phrase borrowed from no vulgar ceremony, they were desirous of backing out.
It was, however, Sir, I presume the time at which these measures were proposed that involved a point of honour which Spain could not get over. The Spaniards were certainly the best judges of this punctilio which must produce so vast a sum of human misery. I think that by yielding it they would have given as much satisfaction in Spain as in France. I think that those measures would have fallen heavily upon two parties; upon the fanatic who is contented with nothing less than despotism in the monarch and infallibility in the church, and on the revolutionist who sees in such a war some probability of the subversion of regular government in Europe. But, supposing that such measures could have had the confessedly disgusting effect of giving pleasure to such characters, was all amelioration to be set at rest because their enemies wished it? Was all discussion to be closed till the chances of a war under such circumstances had put it in their power to recommence 1360 it? Were they to overlook the risk of losing all, not instead of losing a little but of gaining much? Was the "hoc Ithacus velit, et magno mercentur Atridæ," to be the all prevailing figure of rhetorick that was to confute the arguments of friendly suggestion and silence the clamour of revolted provinces?
There is a peculiarity in the line of argument of my hon. friend which cannot have escaped the notice of the House. He exerts himself to point out the evils of the war, and he blames ministers for exerting their endeavours to prevent that war. What would my hon. friend have said, had those endeavours not been made? I can imagine, Sir, though I may be unequal to express the effusion of reproaches from which ministers would then have shrunk. "Oh you inactive ministers," would the hon. gentleman have said, "you have neutralized the power you possessed of recommending in Spain, your opinions on its interests; you incapable commanders, you have neglected to occupy the post of vantage which lies before for your taking. On your ministerial bench, in the highest council of your country, at your side, and sharer of your measures, there sat the man who had driven the French invader from Lisbon to Bordeaux. The man who by a series of unparalleled exertions had won his naturalization in the country which he had freed, had won a prouder rank among her boasted nobility, than all their blood, "rolling through nobles ever since the flood," could confer. Whatever were his opinions you were bound to give them their full weight at Madrid, you have neglected to do so; the voice of the prince of Cuidad Rodrigo might have been heard by those who were deaf to every other; he who swayed the whirlwind might now have directed the calm, you have lost him the opportunity. Yield in God's name your places to those who, if they are not your superiors in talent at least know better to avail themselves of the talent of others."
It is Sir, from imputations such as these that ministers have preserved themselves, by the measure which my hon. friend has deprecated.
I have taken the liberty of supposing the case of the prosperity of Spain. Into the real circumstances of her internal situation I will not enter. The task of dilating on her misfortunes would be invidious and hateful to my feelings. But I must observe, that though I may spare 1361 the House and myself the description of the calamities of Spain, ministers could not spare themselves the contemplation of them. They could not in justice to Spain or to England refrain from calculating the probable consequences of the invasion of that country by France. The Spanish government refused to do so. It may have done well, but I contend, that it acted as no one could have advised it to act who was not prepared to share her dangers, her triumph, or, should it so fall out, her defeat. Should Spain succeed, Sir, as heaven grant she may, I will not grudge that country one particle of her triumph; but at the same time, I will not join in casting the shadow of censure on those who suggested to her what appeared to them the only means of extrication from her difficulties.
§ Mr. Wilberforce
entreated the House to consider well the circumstances in which ministers had been placed, and the influence which those circumstances must necessarily have had upon their conduct during the late negotiations. He approved of the manly tone and the plainness of language which had been used in the present debate. Such language not only became the representatives of a free people, but was of manifest advantage, considering the moral jurisdiction which the debates of that House exercised over the public mind. No language could be too strong to apply to those principles which had been avowed by France in support of her unjustifiable aggression on Spain; because they were principles which would have the effect of repressing that rising liberty which the nations of the world at present enjoyed. The conduct of France with respect to the unfortunate Spaniards was marked by singular duplicity. When her attention was called to the affairs of Naples, not a word was said about Spain which could lead to a suspicion that France meditated an attack on that country. But, having thrown off the mask, his majesty's ministers had thought it right to step forward; and he must say, that on looking through the various papers before the House, it appeared to him that they had manifested a sincere and consistent desire to preserve the peace of Europe, and to prevent the unjust aggression against Spain. He could, indeed, have wished to have seen a higher moral tone preserved in those papers. His majesty's ministers seemed to him to have fallen into a mistake which was not un- 1362 common with persons who had to deal with unprincipled men: knowing that such men were bound by no ties of moral rectitude or justice, they had put in operation such a policy as they thought would best answer the purpose of their negotiations. Whereas, they ought to have relied on those high principles which had hitherto pervaded, and he hoped would long continue to direct, the councils of this country. He regretted, that they had not said from the first, not only that we would not co-operate, but that it was contrary to the principles of the British constitution—contrary to the principles I of justice, and to the common rights of humanity—that France should persevere in her designs against Spain. But there was one point which had not, he thought, been sufficiently attended to in the course of the present debate. It was this. The desire of ministers being to prevent the war, they were bound in the pursuit of that object, not to use language which might, by exciting in Spain the hopes of assistance from this country, induce her to refuse such concessions as were at once compatible with her interests and her honour, and thereby take away from France the very shadow of a pretext for the violation of her independence. That such concessions might be made, was the opinion of the duke of Wellington. The regard which the noble duke felt for the Spanish nation, the sobriety of his character, and the coolness of his judgment, combined to render his advice of the highest value; and he had advised such honourable concessions, although he distinctly disavowed the principle of national interference. His majesty's government, which had all along manifested a sincere wish to prevent any aggression on the part of France, had thought that, to accomplish that object, it would be sufficient to suggest the dangers and the injustice of her attempt, and by convincing her of our friendly feelings towards Spain, induce her to desist from her unprincipled attempt. With this view of the subject, they had not thought fit even to seem to encourage Spain to withhold that concession. He must remind his hon. friends on the Opposition side of the House, that the conduct of our government had not made that impression upon M. de San Miguel which it had made upon them. That minister had entertained no doubts of our sincerity. If his majesty's ministers had talked to Franca of jus- 1363 tice, could any one conceive that the appeal would have been successful? Their policy was, to induce France to, think kindly of their views, to prevent her aggression, and, at the same time, to hold out no encouragement to Spain which might have a tendency to prevent any arrangement favourable to the general tranquillity of Europe. As they had determined to adopt a neutral policy, which, under the circumstances of the country, it was obviously their duty to pursue, it followed of necessity that they should (always having in view the honour and interest of the country) take such a cautionary line of conduct as would avoid civin, offence to either. In no view whatever of the conduct of his majesty's ministers did he perceive that culpability which called for the severity which was contemplated by the original motion. It was his opinion that their language at the commencement of the negotiations might have been much stronger, and that with perfect consistency, and perhaps with mutual benefit to all parties. Still he confessed it gave him great pleasure to observe, that hitherto, although many hon. members had loudly contended that a higher tone ought to have been adopted, yet there were very few who had not entirely discountenanced the idea of our entering into the quarrel by arms. It was well known how willing every nation was, to enter into a war, but it was also well known how difficult it was to conclude a war when once it was entered into. Our own experience, and that of history, showed that all wars at their beginning were popular, and the same authorities proved how disadvantageous their results were to the best interests of the countries engaged in them. It was the duty of the king's ministers not to incur any risk of this sort; and consequently not to use any language which might be construed into a promise, or lead Spain to hope, that we would afford her assistance. It should not be forgotten, too, that whatever disinclination the French nation might have against the war with Spain in its present aspect, it was more than probable, that any interference on our part would so change the aspect of that war, as to make it highly popular in France. If France were actuated by any motives of aggrandizement in her unprincipled aggression on Spain, he thought the result would signally disappoint her. Even if her armies should reach Madrid, 1364 the difficulties she would have to encounter would only have begun. The people of Spain were emerging from the darkness of ignorance and the bondage of superstition; and it was such blessings as these that France was now endeavouring to perpetuate. With regard to Portugal, France had hitherto not shown any disposition to violate that territory; because she well knew that Portugal was under the protection of England. In case Portugal was attacked, we undoubtedly were bound to defend her. In that contingency England must go to war; and in support of such a war this country would doubtless afford the utmost assistance. In his conscience he was persuaded, that his majesty's government had intended fairly and honestly; and, though they might have erred, through their too great anxiety for the interests of the country, in not preserving that firm tone, which with perfect consistency they might have held, still he could not concur in the motion of censure which had been proposed that evening.
§ Mr. H. Sumner
said, he was perfectly satisfied with the line of strict neutrality which was laid down in the papers of the late lord Londonderry, and explained by him to the members of the holy alliance—that line which was perfectly consistent with the interests and honour of the country; and for the observance of which, in perfect sincerity during the late negotiations, he would give his majesty's ministers his warmest vote. It had been said, that ultimately we must be dragged into the war. If so, then he said, the later that event should happen the better. The danger which had been apprehended from the successes of France in Spain, and her placing an army of observation upon the Portuguese frontier, as she had done on that of Spain. seemed perfectly unfounded; because France knew that Portugal was under the protection of this country. Many other topics occurred to him to which he did not, at that late hour, propose to call the attention of the House; but he thought he should not have discharged his duty, if he had not expressed his satisfaction at the whole of the conduct of his majesty's ministers. He therefore gave the amendment his most cordial support.
§ Mr. Peter Moore
then rose amidst loud cries of "Question," "Adjourn," "Go on," from every part of the House, and said, that considering the intense interest 1365 of the question, and the number of gentlemen who were still anxious to deliver their sentiments upon it, he would move the adjournment of the debate until tomorrow.
§ The motion was agreed to, and the debate was adjourned till to-morrow.