HC Deb 27 March 1823 vol 8 cc771-89

On the motion, "That the House will at its rising adjourn to Thursday the 10th of April,"

Lord A. Hamilton

rose to object to the motion. He considered the period of adjournment proposed by the right hon. gentleman too long, and he would attempt to curtail it, by moving, as an amendment, that the House should adjourn only to Monday se'nnight. He thought the peculiar circumstances of the session, the peculiar circumstances in which the House had been placed, and the peculiar situation in which Europe at present stood, all authorized him to suggest to the House, that the protracted adjournment which had been moved was not only unusual but unwise. He was, he must acknowledge, surprised that, after the suspense in which parliament and the country had been so long kept, with respect to the conduct of the English government in regard to the differences between the French government and Spain, and after the forbearance which parliament had exercised towards ministers—a forbearance which, he might say, was unparalleled in the annals of parliament—the right hon. secretary for foreign affairs should have declared last night, that it was not his intention to put the House in possession of the papers which were to explain what had been the policy of the government until the 14th of next month. If the papers were not to be presented to the House before the 14th of April, it might be calculated that at least three weeks from that time must elapse before any discussion could take place upon them. It would have been a more proper arrangement to have placed the papers in the hands of parliament before the recess; but that not having been done, he thought the House was particularly called upon to oppose the adjournment which had been moved. But, although he objected to the length of the adjournment which had been proposed, he wished it to be understood, that he should not have remained silent even if a shorter period had been fixed upon; because he considered a motion for adjournment a fair parliamentary opportunity of adverting to any subject which was connected with the policy of ministers. He begged, therefore, to remind the House, that ministers had brought forward no measure connected with the reduction of taxation which had not originated from that side of the House on which he sat. Ministers had recanted their errors, and adopted the opinions of their adversaries. It must be in the recollection of the House, that the very policy which the government now seemed determined to adopt with respect to the Orange clubs of Ireland, had over and over again, been recommended by the opponents of ministers. But, in returning to the question of our foreign rela- tions, he might premise, that in his opinion, the relative situation of France and Spain was in a great measure the result of the conduct pursued by ministers with regard to the holy alliance, from which the mischief originally sprung. The difficulties with which this country, as well as Spain, had to contend, were the legacy which had been left by the noble marquis who was lately at the head of his majesty's government; for if the British cabinet had pursued a different line of policy, one of two things would have happened—either England would have been more free to act, or, what would have been more fortunate, the conduct of the holy alliance would have been so different, that there would have existed no necessity for our interference. Since the right hon. gentleman opposite had accepted the office of secretary of state for foreign affairs, he had received many high compliments on the ground of the liberality of his sentiments and of his altered opinions. He (lord A. H.) had never joined in the praises which had been bestowed upon the right hon. gentleman. He could not give the right hon. gentleman credit for liberality of sentiment, until he saw a change in the conduct of his majesty's government, or an open avowal of an alteration of opinion. It would have been well if other gentlemen had been as prudent. Upon a recent occasion, when his hon. friend, the member for Westminster, had said something complimentary to the right hon. secretary, the right hon. gentleman had disclaimed the compliment, and had told the House, that his conduct had been guided by a document which he had found in his office, and which he (lord A. H.) supposed to be the celebrated circular of lord Londonderry. The House ought also to bear in mind, that when the case of Naples was referred to at the beginning of the session, the right hon. secretary had stood up and defended the invasion of that country. What had been the consequence? The French government had over and over again attempted to justify the invasion of Spain upon the precedent of the invasion of Naples. In no one instance since the fall of Buonaparté had the government of this country shown by its acts that it disapproved of the conduct of the holy alliance. It was in vain to answer him by a reference to the circular to which he had just alluded, whilst France was able to quote our conduct with respect to Naples, Genoa, and Sicily, as a justification of her own views against Spain. The holy alliance, without reference to the principles which it promulgated, was per se a public nuisance. It was impossible that a confederacy of kings could assemble in Europe to dictate laws to nations without exciting, not only the indignation of every free country; but also sowing the seeds of civil war in the very countries with which they interfered, in order, as they pretended, to establish tranquillity. He wished to know in what situation England stood with respect to the holy alliance. Was she a member of that alliance? In what character did she appear at the Congress of Verona, if not as a member of the alliance? Did not her representative participate in the discussions which were carried on there, and was he not bound by a majority of votes? He hoped to receive an answer to these questions. The right hon. secretary had stated to the House the treaties by which the foreign policy of this country was to be regulated. Now, he would beg the House to consider the situation in which this country stood with respect to Spain and France, and to declare whether, if the effect of the treaties was what had been stated by the right hon. gentleman, we might not he called upon to act on both sides. If Spain were to proclaim either a regency, or young Napoleon in France—and such a measure was by no means impossible; indeed, it appeared to him not to be au unnatural mode of conducting hostilities, considering that France had already adopted it towards Spain—what, in such a case, would be the condition of England? Would she not be bound to protect France against the insurrectionary designs of Spain? Again, it was a well-known fact, that Portugal had so far made common cause with Spain, as to give orders to her minister to leave Paris, as soon as the French troops entered the Spanish territories. Now, supposing that Portugal and Spain were both of them placed in a state of war with France, and that Portugal were invaded by a division of the French army, were we not engaged by existing treaties to protect Portugal against such an invasion; and, according to the construction which the right hon., gentleman had voluntarily put upon them, to interfere actively in her behalf? In what an anomalous situation, then, would the country be placed, supposing these two events, neither of which were improbable, should actually take place? On the one hand, we should have to defend Portugal from France, and on the other, to defend France from the insurrectionary movements which the very agents of Portugal might be endeavouring to excite in that country. We should have to act on both sides at once, and to fulfil engagements with both of the contending parties. In putting the questions which he had done to the right hon. gentleman, he had carefully abstained from anticipating any part of the discussion which was likely to take place at a future period on the negociations at Verona. He only wished to know in what situation this country stood, with regard to the powers who constituted that alliance, which, by a strange confusion and misapplication of terms, was denominated "holy?" Were we, or were we not parties to it? If we were, he thought that we ought immediately to subtract ourselves from it; and the ground on which he thought so was, that continuing in it could be productive of no good, must expose us frequently to the risk of war, and must always render us liable to the hatred and indignation of Europe. As long as that conspiracy of kings against the freedom of the world existed, so long would it be impossible for us to pursue such a line of policy as would be conducive to our own interests, and conciliatory of the feelings and good wishes of Europe. In these observations he wished not to be considered as giving any opinion as to the propriety of our taking a part in the war which was shortly about to commence: indeed, he had not at present information that would justify him in giving such an opinion; and even if he had, he should not now come forward to give it. This, however, he must say, that if he had been a declared advocate for our taking a part in the war, he would not have held his tongue till the present occasion—he would not have let the time pass by, when a single word from this country could have put a stop to the invasion of Spain. It was his opinion, that if ministers had publicly declared that they could not sanction—that they would not endure—the principles which the powers of the holy alliance had promulgated from Verona, Spain would never have been threatened with invasion. He had formed his opinion upon this circumstance, that, for the last two months, the government of France had been anxiously seeking for grounds on which it could recede from the contest it had provoked, if not with honour, at least without disgrace. He now called upon the right hon. gentleman to give him a distinct and specific answer to the questions he had put. If the right hon. gentleman had come to the resolution of changing the policy of this country towards Europe, and especially towards the holy alliance, let him seize the opportunity that was now afforded him, to come manfully forward and declare it. The right hon. gentleman must be aware, that any degree of praise which he might have received in that House, and any degree of popularity which be had gained out of it, had been founded on the hope, that his conduct would form a contrast to that of his noble predecessor; not that it would be in concert and conformity with it. He must hear from the right hon. gentleman a declaration of the policy he intended to pursue, before he could join in the encomium on his liberal principles. He was himself afraid that the support which ministers had given to the projects. of the holy alliance for so many years past, and especially in the recent invasion of Naples, had disqualified them from opposing those projects at present. Sure at least he was, that it would require six months of the most determined hostility to this confederation of despots to convince the nations of Europe, that the British cabinet was at last convinced of the necessity of opposing the impolitic, wicked, and detestable designs which they entertained against the liberty of mankind and the general independence of nations. The noble lord then concluded by moving, as an amendment, "That this House do adjourn till Monday se'nnight."

Mr. Macdonald,

in conjunction with his noble friend, declared, that he could by no means acquiesce in the propriety of so long an adjournment as the right hon. secretary had proposed, at the precise moment when a struggle of unexampled interest had commenced, which was lo decide whether the term "independence of nations" was any longer to be found in the vocabulary of mankind. For he thought he might say, that this struggle had commenced, seeing that a delicate prince had sallied forth, amid hail and snow, accompanied by a large retinue of led horses and soft carriages, to put himself at the head of 60,000 men, for the purpose of cutting the throats of his free and unoffending neighbours, or at least offending only, because they were free. He conceived, that when such a stride had been made towards the commencement of a war, of which no man could limit the extent, or foresee the duration—when it had been acknowledged, that in any four-and-twenty hours a complete change might be produced in the relations of the country with foreign powers—they ought not to be called upon to close their doors, and to retire home to their respective occupations. On what pretence, he would ask, was this adjournment extended to a longer period than had ever been known before? Was the reason of it to be found in the length or in the labour of the session? As for the length of the session, omitting the days in which a House had not been made, it did not exceed nine and twenty days at most: and, as for the labour, with the exception of two or three questions relating to the amelioration of the sister country, and two or three more relating to the new fiscal regulations, nothing had occurred which deserved the name. Large establishments had, indeed, been voted conditionally, almost without a discussion; and, what was more, with regard to the ways and means, the chancellor of the exchequer had stopped their mouths, by appropriating for ever to his sinking fund a sum of five millions, which, in his opinion, would have been better applied if it had gone to the remission of taxes; whilst he had contrived at the same time to silence the country gentlemen, who, before the session, had talked so loudly of what they would do on its commencement, by granting them some relaxation in certain matters which pressed rather hardly upon them. As far as granting money was concerned, the House had certainly done much; but it was absolutely ridicolous—and sure he was that no man would have the hardihood—to call such an employment by the nave of labour. The fact was, that the sound of something like liberal principles, from a quarter from which the House, for many years past, had not been much accustomed to hear them, had produced what his noble friend had happily called a paralyzing effect on the House. His noble friend, the member for Yorkshire, on first taking his seat in the House that session, had observed, that in consequence of the change in the language used by ministers, he scarcely knew the place in which he was. Those members, however, who had not been so much absent as the noble member for Yorkshire, knew well where they were, and had long been afraid that the flattering prospect by which he had been so much delighted, would not last. The halcyon days of confidence in misters, it now appeared, must shortly come to an end; and the right hon. secretary, therefore, proposed a longer adjournment than usual, either because he did not wish that the conclusion of them should be more abrupt than necessary, or because he wished to give the House a sort of school-boy treat. If he were actuated by the latter wish, and; looked upon the members of that House in the light of school-boys, why did he, not, along with their holidays, also give them their holiday task? If he had given them the papers which had passed at Verona, and the diplomatic correspondence which had since ensued, there might have been some pretence for this unusually long adjournment; for, unless his papers differed much from those of his noble predecessor, the time proposed would be scarcely sufficient to read and understand them. The course of the right hon. gentleman, however, was widely different: he said, "Go about; your business, retire to your homes, enjoy your holidays as much as you can; and when you meet again, I will give to the world the papers you require"—papers, for which, with all due deference to the right hon. gentleman, he did not believe that the world cared a single straw. The world was well aware, that the papers in question, however elegant and classical they might be in point of style, however superior to the verbose ambiguity of the right hon. gentleman's predecessor, and to the florid romance of the minister for foreign affairs in a neighbouring country, had effected nothing whatever for the public good. For those papers, he had presumed to say, that the world, comparatively speaking, cared not a flea-bite; but for England—England that had once been called the arbitress of nations—what must be the sensations of her sons, when they sat down to the perusal of documents, from which they must rise up, either deeply indignant or wofully humiliated? If the right hon. gentleman were to speak till doomsday, he would never be able to get out of this dilemma. Either the influence of England had been exerted, or it had not; and if it had been exerted in a manner worthy of the nation, it must have been exerted at Verona at the outset. If it had not been exerted, there was not a man in the country who would not join in calling for punishment on the head of the minister who had so far neglected his duty to England, to Europe, to the world. He would, however, suppose, that it had been exerted; and if it had, how did it happen, that when every man in this country was eager to check the unprincipled aggression which France was meditating upon Spain—when nineteen-twentieths of the French nation were earnestly deprecating the idea of allowing a miserable band of fanatics to plunge their infirm and aged sovereign into a war of unparalleled atrocity and oppression—when Prussia was openly deserting, Austria slowly abandoning, and the Corsican agent of Russia alone firmly abetting their iniquitous projects—how did it happen, he said, that, under such circumstances, England should have interfered with the conduct of France, and should have failed in the object of her interference? Her remonstrances had been scouted; her interposition had been rejected; and her boasted influence and authority positively laughed at. In such a situation, what must be the feelings of any Englishman who sat down to the perusal of the forthcoming documents? For his own part, he would confess, that he had no craving for these documents strong enough to induce him to call for their immediate production. He begged pardon: there was one case—a case, however, which he considered to be barely possible, though it was confidently stated to have already occurred—to the refutation of which the production of these papers was absolutely necessary. A calumny had gone forth to the world, that the English government, finding its influence nugatory with the powerful state, had employed it with the weaker; for the purpose of inducing it to consent to its own dishonour, by yielding the disputed points to presented bayonets. He wished that he could see any motion, however slight, in the right hon. gentleman to convince him that this was indeed a foul and atrocious calumny. He could hardly conceive it possible that, when the cannon of France was pointed to the Pyrenees—and the trumpet of invasion was sounding on the Spanish frontiers, the British government could advise submission to a nation preparing to bury itself amidst its blazing ruins, rather than surrender the liberty and independence which it had bravely acquired. That the government of a country which had purchased its liberty at the painful price of cashiering a king and the whole of his family—that the government of such a country should counsel dishonour to another, which, in imitation of its example, had also set limits to regal authority and despotic sway, was a circumstance which neither he nor any Englishman could willingly bring themselves to believe. However disgraceful such a counsel might be to the party which received it, it was still more so to the party which gave it; and he did trust that, though our power might have been impaired and our influence diminished—though we might have lost much of the moral and physical strength for which we had formerly been distinguished, we might still say, that our reputation was safe, that our character was untarnished, and that, whatever else we might have lost, we had still contrived not to lose our honour.—The hon. member then proceeded to observe, that, circumstanced as the House then was, in ignorance of the intentions not only of the French but of the British government; in the dark, too, on the actual state of things in Spain; he would not consume its time unnecessarily by offering any speculations upon the attitude which we ought to assume in case of a war breaking out which we had not been powerful enough to avert. Any man who looked at the enormous amount of our public debt, of which five-sixths was incurred in putting down the ambition of the Bourbons, and then in restoring them to the throne of which they had subsequently shown themselves unworthy—any man who looked to that stupendous memorial of the Tory governments which had ruled the country for the last sixty years, could not but pray that we might be spared as long as possible the necessity of again going to war. But a hundred cases came across the mind, any one of which would be sufficient to defeat so reasonable a prayer. He would specify one or two. He should be glad to know whether England would consent that the chief of the Bourbons—for so the king of France had been properly called on a recent occasion, by some of the fanatics and flatterers by whom he was surrounded—should maintain military possession of the kingdom of Spain; and if she would con- sent to such occupation on his part, for what period she would permit it to continue? Again, would she, with all her naval fame and commercial greatness, consent that the fleets of Russia and of France should blockade the ports of Spain, to the injury of her merchants, in order that they might more successfully achieve their own objects—objects that were so wicked and atrocious, that no Englishman even attempted to disguise the abhorrence he felt for them?—With regard to Portugal also, where the same persons who had been so busy in exciting rebellion and insurrection in Spain, were now plotting to divide from each other an united king and people—with regard to Portugal, our ancient and faithful ally—but these indeed were questions of difficulty, irrelevant perhaps to the present discussion, and he would therefore reject the observations which he had been going to offer to the House. Certain contingencies, however, had been spoken of for some time back, in which it might be possible that this country might be called upon to take up arms in conjunction with the members of the holy alliance; and others had likewise been mentioned, in which we might be called upon, if not to take up arms, at least to consult and to concert with them. He, for one, must confess, that a distinction was here made, of which he could hardly see the force; for he thought that these words "to concert and consult" were very nearly equivalent to taking up arms with them. Now, the first of these contingencies provided that, if the French government should call Buonaparté or any member of his family to the throne, the allied powers were to take up arms to dethrone him; and the second provided, that in case of any revolutionary movement taking place, unconnected with him or his family, then they should only concert and consult. Any man who read the treaties which contained these stipulations would see that they were all dependent on the natural existence of Napoleon Buonaparté. They were addressed against him personally, on the ground of the boundless ambition by which he was actuated, and the bad faith with which he observed even the most solemn treaties. Throughout the whole of them there was not a word of reference to any state of things that might arise after his death, nor any clause that affected any of his descendants. Not one single line could be found in the treaties of Chau- mont or of Vienna touching upon either of these two points. It was true that, in 1815, when an attempt was made to set young Napoleon upon the throne of France, the allies treating it, perhaps properly, as a mere juggle on the part of his father, and considering that, though the son might be the puppet, the father would still be the person who would pull the wires to make him move—it was true, that the allies did then, for the first time, introduce into the treaties the words "Napoleon or his descendants." But, did any man suppose that these words bound us either to guarantee the crown of France to the Bourbons for ever, or to join with the holy alliance to preclude any other individual from wearing it? He could have wished that the right hon. gentleman had incorporated this point into the speech which he had made on a former night. For his own part, looking at the declared objects for which all these treaties were entered into, he must say, that he considered all the conventional engagements which they mentioned to be abrogated by the subsequent conduct of the allied powers. Those objects, and he had taken the trouble of extracting the very words from the treaties themselves, were declared in the following terms, to which he begged leave to call the particular attention of the House. The first was—"putting an end to unjust and unprincipled invasions:" the next was—"enforcing due respect to the rights of independent states:" and the third and last was—"the preservation of the peace and happiness of all nations." These were the cases for which the treaties in question provided; for these objects, and for these objects only, had we bound ourselves; with these views, and with no others, had our bayonets placed the family of Bourbon a second time on the throne of France; and, lest the recollection of the restored princes should be treacherous, and the world knew but too well, that they were too much in the habit of forgetting what they ought to recollect, and recollecting what they ought to forget, he would take the liberty of reading an extract from a memorial which had been sent by lord Londonderry to the duke de Richelieu, from the ministers of the united cabinets. It was as follows:—"The lively interest which they take in the satisfaction of his most Christian majesty, as well as in the tranquillity and prosperity of his kingdom, makes them hope, that the fatal chances supposed in these engagements will never be realized. The allied cabinets find the first guarantee of this hope in the clear principles, magnanimous sentiments, and personal virtues, of his most Christian majesty. His majesty acknowledges with them, that, in a state torn during a quarter of a century by revolutionary convulsions, it is not by force alone that calm can be restored to the mind, confidence to the heart, and equilibrium to the different parts of the social body [laughter!]; but that wisdom should be united with vigour, and moderation with firmness, for producing these happy changes. Far from fearing that his most Christian majesty will ever lend an ear to imprudent or impassioned councils, tending to renew discontents and alarms—to excite hatred and divisions—the allied cabinets are entirely relieved from that anxiety by the wise as well as generous disposition which the king has evinced at every period of his reign, and especially at that of his return after the last criminal attempt. They know that his majesty will oppose, to all the enemies of the public good, and of the tranquillity of his kingdom, under whatever form they may present themselves, his adherence to the constitutional laws promulgated under his own auspices, his well-understood intention to be the father of all his subjects, to efface from remembrance the evils which they have suffered, and to preserve of times past, only the good which Providence has brought forth even from the bosom of public calamity. It is thus only that the views formed by the allied cabinets, for the preservation of the constitutional authority of his most Christian majesty, for the happiness of his country, and for the maintenance of the peace of the world, will be crowned with a complete success, and that France, established upon her ancient basis, will resume the eminent place to which she is called in the European system." If, then, the objects thus declared had been frustrated, not only frustrated, but contravened, not by Napoleon, not by his family, not by his adherents, but by his enemies—if they had contravened them, not only without the consent of England, but in the despite of England—if schemes the most iniquitous had developed themselves—if the hand that was now about to fire the torch that was to subject Europe to a new conflagration was the very hand of these conservators of the peace—then, as an Englishman, he asked, whether these compacts, these conventional engagements, framed with other views, and with different hopes and prospects, were not ipso facto annihilated? He should have been glad to have heard from the right hon. gentleman who had gone out of his way to tell the House that he had found the line of his conduct cut and dried, something that might have led to the indulgence of a hope, that he was resolved to consult nothing but the interests of liberty, and the honour of the country. Napoleon, indeed, was no more; but something worse than his spirit survived—something unmixed with a particle of greatness. But, whatever dynasty might be placed upon the throne of Spain, not one drop of their blood, not one shilling of their treasure, would the people of this country consent to expend either in putting down one family, or in setting up another. If, then, we could not afford to step forward in support of liberty, never again with our eyes open let us be found aiding and abetting the detestable cause of oppression. It should seem, that the noble earl at the head of his majesty's councils, and the right hon. secretary, had both no very defined views upon this subject; but, after pausing to feel their way and to learn the sentiments of country gentlemen, they had at last ventured to speak out the word "neutrality," avoiding all contingent questions, and the subjects upon which the minds of the people were made up. The right hon. gentleman must be prepared to tell the courts of Europe what was the universal feeling of the country, or to bear upon his own head all the indignation which the British public would inevitably heap upon it. A few words more with reference to Spain, and he would sit down. All that he was anxious that the House, circumstanced as it was, should recognize was this—that, whether we should or should not interfere—in what mode and upon what conditions—were questions to be decided by ourselves for ourselves—were questions solely of prudence and policy, totally independent of any matter of right. No man who had read that extraordinary manifesto, the speech of the king of France, could for a moment doubt that France had given Great Britain ample and abundant ground for war. In that document hostility was declared against all free institutions originating in any other source than that of the caprice and pleasure of the sovereign. In this there was no qualification, no exception of time or place; and the principle itself admitted none. Thus the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement were declared invalid; the Brunswick dynasty were declared usurpers; and the shores of this kingdom, according to this doctrine, might at any time be polluted by the foot of some Cossack questioner of the Revolution. That France had given us good cause of war, all felt and knew; but whether we thought fit to accept it, must depend merely upon our own views of our own interest, at any moment, as events were developed. Pledged neutrality, France could have none. She who had taken up arms in support of such a principle, as ridiculous as it was odious, could have no pledged neutrality. Pledged neutrality would be a compact; and into what compact could England enter with France, after such a declaration? If we thought it wisdom either to let France wear out her resources in this fanatic war—this dubious contest, as he hoped he might call it—until she was glad to cry out in language not to be misunderstood, "No more of this"—if we thought it prudent to avoid the collision and jealousy which might arise, and had arisen, between two great and neighbouring nations—if we thought that "War is a fury quickly conjured up, but hard indeed to lay,"—though, from his speech, such, it was clear, was not the opinion of the deluded monarch of France—if we abstained from the contest to which we were, in fact, invited, it was not neutrality. To be passive as long as our policy required it, was not to be neutral. These political considerations, if sincere and bonâfide, were, no doubt, well worthy of men of deep reflection. If, after expending fifteen hundred millions to secure tranquillity to Europe, we were reduced to the necessity of pausing to deliberate before we could again draw the sword in any cause, however just, why not manfully avow it? Such a declaration could never be discreditable nor disgraceful, unless it were disguised under false and unworthy pretences. The hearts and the prayers of the people of England were with the Spaniards: they never could be neutral when they saw, as they now saw, unmasked oppression striking at freedom: they, at least, would exclaim—"God prosper the righteous cause!" In heart and hope they could not stand indifferent spectators of a struggle so noble—so dignified: they could not coldly gaze upon the efforts of a brave, a generous nation, to keep the liberty it had conquered, against those who, profiting little by experience, would, sooner or later, rue the day when they commenced their guilty undertakings.

Mr. Warre,

after pointing out a seeming contradiction between the treaty of Vienna and that of Aix-la-Chapelle, begged to ask the right hon. gentleman, whether the treaties into which this country had entered did, in effect, guarantee to the Bourbon family possession of the throne of France? He expressed his perfect conviction, that, among the papers soon to be laid upon the table, it would be found that the duke of Wellington had recalled to the recollection of the sovereigns at Verona, the protocol of the 5th of November, 1815, signed by the names of Metternich, Richelieu, Castlereagh, Wellington, Hardenberg, Bernsdorf, Nesselrode, and Capo d'lstria. It concluded by stating, that "in the case of this meeting having for their object affairs specially connected with the interests of the other states of Europe, they shall only take place in pursuance of a formal invitation, on the part of such of those states as the said affairs may concern." He begged to know whether Spain had been represented at the congress at Verona, and whether the invitation spoken of had been given to her? If not, the allies had been guilty of a violation of their own treaty. Whoever wished to come to the discussion of this subject three weeks hence, properly prepared, must refresh his memory by looking into the documents laid upon the table by the late marquis of Londonderry. He hoped to find in the papers to be submitted to the House a strong protest on the part of our ministers against all meddling at the congress with the affairs of Spain. He did not wish to prejudge them; but, from the weighty matters the House had to discuss, he was in favour of the shorter adjournment.

Mr. Secretary Canning

said, he did not rise to enter into the various topics introduced upon the question of adjournment; indeed he doubted whether he should have risen at all, but for the question put to him by the hon. gentleman who spoke last, with reference to a conversation of a few nights ago upon the existing treaties to which this country was a party. The House would not expect that he should attempt to go through the speech of the hon. gentleman, or of the noble lord, the promoter of this disscussion; for they had both touched upon topics which, by a sort of common consent, were reserved for a future period. The question to which he wished to give a distinct answer was this—whether the treaties by which this country was bound, operated as a guarantee of the Bourbon family to the throne of France? The House would do him the justice to recollect, that in the way in which he was interrogated, the other night, he had no choice, but either not to answer at all, or to reply to a dry matter of fact. He had then answered correctly. There did exist a stipulation, by which, all who were parties to it, were bound to exclude the family of Buonaparté from the throne of France. There was also another stipulation, by which, in case of any revolutionary movements in France of another sort, the parties engaged to communicate together, but without any anticipation of the results. This stipulation was contained in the treaty of November, 1815; but it was, in fact, with certain additions, the repetition of a stipulation entered into on the 25th of March, 1815, previous to the short and decisive war, of which the treaty of November, 1815, was the conclusion. It was particularly directed against the designs of Napoleon Buonaparté and was as follows:

"The high contracting parties above mentioned solemnly engage to unite the resources of their respective states for the purpose of maintaining entire the conditions of the treaty of peace concluded at Paris, May 30, 1814, as also the stipulations determined upon and signed at the congress of Vienna, with a view to complete the dispositions of that treaty, and preserve them against all infringement, and particularly against the designs of Napoleon Buonaparté. For this purpose they engage in the spirit of the declaration of the 13th of March last, to direct in common, and with one accord, should the case require it, all their efforts against him, and against those who shall already have joined his faction, or may hereafter join it, in order to force him to desist from his projects, and to render unable to disturb in future the tranquillity of Europe and the general peace, under the protection of which, the rights, the liberty, and independence of nations have been recently placed and secured."

The treaty of alliance recited this stipulation, and was, in fact, a treaty to exclude Napoleon Buonaparté and his family from the throne of France. This was its provision:—

"The high contracting parties having engaged in the war which is just terminated, for the purpose of maintaining inviolably the arrangements seated, at Paris last year, for the safety and interest of Europe, have judged it advisable to renew the said engagements, particularly those by which Napoleon Buonaparté and his family, in pursuance of the treaty of April 11, 1814, have been for ever excluded from supreme power in France, which exclusion the contracting powers bind themselves by the present act to maintain in full vigour, and, should it be necessary, with the whole of their forces."—"And as the same revolutionary principles which upheld the last criminal usurpation might again, under other forms, convulse France, and there by endanger the repose of other states; under; these circumstances, the high contracting parties, solemnly admitting it to be their duty to redouble their watchfulness for the tranquillity and interests of their people, engage, in case so unfortunate an event should again occur, to concert amongst themselves, and with his most christian majesty, the measures which they may judge necessary to be pursued for the safety of their respective states, and for the general tranquillity of Europe."

But, in order to put the House in complete possession of the whole business, he would refer to a declaration made by the minister of this country in March, 1815. That declaration was as follows:—

"The undersigned, on the exchange of the ratifications of the treaty of the 25th of March last, on the part of his court, is hereby commanded to declare, that the 8th article of the said treaty, wherein his most christian majesty is invited to accede under certain stipulations, is to be understood as binding the contracting parties, upon principles of mutual security, to a common effort against Napoleon Buonaparté, in pursuance of the 3rd Article, of the said treaty, but is not to be understood as binding his Britannic majesty to prosecute the war, with a view of imposing upon France any particular government. However solicitous the prince regent must be to see his most christian majesty restored to the throne, and however anxious he is to contribute, in conjunction with his allies, to so auspicious an event, he nevertheless deems himself called upon to make this declaration on the exchange of the ratifications, as well in consideration of what is due to his most christian majesty's interests in France, as in conformity to the principles upon which the British government has invariably regulated its conduct."

It was to this declaration that he had referred on a former night. It was a negative, not a positive, obligation—it was to prevent the accession of Buonaparté, but it was not a positive obligation as to any other family. As to the rest of the discussion of that evening, he had heard nothing that called upon him for an answer. Ina state of the world, in which all first principles, it seemed, were liable to be called in question, he was not surprised at being asked "Why the House adjourned at Easter?" He did not know whether—not having deeply considered the subject—he was prepared to give any very profound reason for it. It had, however, been the usual custom, and he did not, indeed, recollect any instance to the contrary. Neither did he hope, with gentlemen unwilling to be convinced, to be able to assign any sufficient cause why the adjournment should be so long. One reason, perhaps, was, that it was for the same period last year: another might be, that the week in which parliament would otherwise meet would be a week of sessions, when gentlemen would be detained in the country. Perhaps, therefore, Thursday, the 10th of April, was as early a day as they could be expected to arrive. A third reason was, the sort of understanding that prevailed on the point; for no notice appeared on the books for an earlier day. No public business, therefore, would be impeded. As gentlemen had taken advantage of the present opportunity to state their general feelings upon the state of the country, and that was now all over, perhaps the adjournment might be passed saga motion of course. He trusted that neither the House, the noble lord, nor the hon. gentleman, would think that he treated them with disrespect; for, as soon as the House did again assemble, it would be his duty to obtrude upon them the various topics which had been urged that evening.

The amendment was negatived, and the House adjourned to the 10th of April.