§ The Speaker having reported the Speech of the Lords Commissioners, and read it to the House,
§ Lord Francis Leveson Gower
spoke to the following effect:—
I rise, Sir, for the purpose of moving an Address to his Majesty, to express to his majesty the sense which this House entertains of the gracious Speech which which we have just heard. I believe, Sir, there are sometimes periods in a nation's career when the national prosperity is 32 either raised so high, or depressed so low, that but one general sensation as to the real state of the country pervades every class of the community; when one uniform feeling springing up spontaneously, and arising from no process of reason or argument, exists in every bosom; when those who are uninitiated in the mysteries of government, or the details of Administration, are conscious of the same great truths as those to whom the direction of our political machinery is committed. I believe the present epoch, to which it has fallen to my lot to direct the attention of the House, to be one of those to which I have alluded. Classing myself, Sir, among the uninitiated persons to whom I have just alluded—laying no claim to that extent and accuracy of knowledge with regard to the interests of the country, which I respect and envy in the many honourable gentlemen whom I see before me and around me, it is my own share of that general feeling which I believe to pervade the country, on which I ground my confident anticipation, that this House will meet with its cordial concurrence, the language expressed in his majesty's Speech, with respect to the general prosperity of the country. I am happy to think, Sir, that the present circumstances of the country render it unnecessary for me to enter into any minute details. At periods when any particular interest, or any peculiar source of the wealth, prosperity, and power of the country is depressed below the level of others, it may be the duty of a member of this House, to call its attention to such a particular subject separately and distinctly. But, at the present moment, such is the general state of prosperity at which the country has arrived, that I feel in some measure at a loss how to proceed; whether to give precedence to our agriculture, which is the main support of the country; to our manufactures, which have increased, and are increasing to a most unexampled extent; or to our commerce, which distributes them to the ends of the earth, which finds daily new outlets for their distribution, and new sources of national wealth and prosperity. With the distress, Sir, under which the country lately laboured, and which has vanished from the face of it, the too frequent concomitants of distress—exasperation and sedition—have happily disappeared. Those whom the immediate pressure of the times may have induced to listen to the evil suggestions 33 of others, and who may have been betrayed into acts of crime, have returned to habits of honest industry; while the few—and few, I trust, comparatively, they are—who, wicked in principle, may still walk the land—walk it comparatively despised, unknown, and unregarded. The torch of sedition, for aught I know, may still be lighted, but the fuel is wanting on which that torch can fall.
In speaking, Sir, of the general prosperity of the country, I know of no local or geographical exception, if I may be allowed that expression. I know of no exception as to any particular district or province of the British dominions, whether in England, Wales, Scotland, or, I am happy to add, Ireland. Honourable gentlemen have been so accustomed to the voice of lamentation, whenever the state of Ireland has been alluded to, that some may feel disposed to start at language more cheering and consolatory. I think, however, Sir, that the indications of improvement in that country fully bear out the language of his Majesty's Speech. British enterprise is already beginning to exercise a salutary operation in that country, by giving increased energy and activity to those pursuits which tend to the improvement and civilization of mankind. British capital, the instrument of that enterprise, is already insinuating its salutary juices into the exhausted veins of that country. Above all, Sir, that tranquillity which is the only basis on which improvement can permanently rest, reigns, I believe, in Ireland to a degree which is unparalleled in our recollection. These are the indications of improvement which warrant us in indulging the hope, that ere long the tide of affluence and prosperity which is fertilising the land in this country, will set in all its strength and richness upon the shores of Ireland. So far, Sir, I have approached a name, which is too often the watchword of all the virulence of debate, and which is apt to give rise to the angry expression of every conflicting opinion, without touching on any topic which is calculated to elicit any material difference of opinion. But it cannot be disguised, Sir, that there are features in the present situation of Ireland—that there are topics connected with its present circumstances, on which I do not feel myself at liberty to be entirely silent, although they may be less pleasing than those to which I have hitherto adverted. If, Sir, any hon. gentleman who hears me should indulge a 34 hope that any alleviation of the evils which may still exist in that country is likely to be effected by the proceedings of the body which calls itself the Catholic Association—if any hon. gentleman should found his hopes of the regeneration of that country on the efficacy of such particular means—I cannot but express the strong feeling which I entertain of the visionary and chimerical nature of such an expectation. As a friend to every measure which can promote the happiness of that country—as a steady friend to one measure, which though not a panacea for all its evils, ranks high among the remedies which may be applied to them; as a friend to Catholic Emancipation, I cannot omit the opportunity which the present occasion affords me of expressing my feeling with regard to the Catholic Association—of expressing, not any animosity, not any unbecoming contempt of that body or its members, nor, I will add, any undue degree of fear of its power and influence, which I believe to have been grossly exaggerated, but my regret, my sincere regret, at its existence, and my ardent wishes for its speedy annihilation. I think it would be difficult for the wit of man to devise any more effectual method, at the present time, for checking every measure of improvement, and counteracting every remedy which can be applied to the evils of Ireland. I grudge the orators of that country no vent for the exuberance of their diction, and the richness of imagination, which so honourably distinguish them; but I anticipate no possible beneficial result from the proceedings of this body, and see many evils likely to arise from a continuance of the power of indulging in the flow of their eloquence, and the richness of their periods. I have no wish to exaggerate, on the one hand, the indications of improvement which I think may be observed in the aspect of Ireland, nor, on the other hand, to exaggerate the evils which may spring from the Catholic Association; but I cannot but express my hope, that neither the violence of that body, nor the equally pernicious virulence of Orange insanity, may long be allowed to check the progress of improvement in that country. I know that the power and influence of that body have been grossly, and I think cruelly, exaggerated throughout the country. Every phantom which terror can conjure up, has been employed to excite alarm. Ireland, it is said, may be tranquil for the moment; some rents are paid; some landlords sleep 35 in their beds with the hope of rising in the morning; but this is only the calm which is the precursor of a hurricane. I can only say, Sir, that whatever information his majesty's ministers have received with regard to the state of Ireland, has not supplied the grounds of any such visionary fears But we may be told that fresh troops are to be raised. It is true that fresh troops are to be raised but not for Ireland. I believe I am correct in stating, that it is not in the contemplation of his majesty's government to increase the forces in Ireland by a single man.
The observation, Sir, which I have just made leads me to that portion of his Majesty's Speech which I think calculated to excite considerable interest; I mean that in which his majesty announces his intention of requesting this House to supply the means of increasing the armed force of the country. I have hitherto, Sir, endeavoured to make myself the temporary organ for expressing the satisfaction which I believe is very generally felt throughout the country, at the continuance and progress of those blessings which derive their origin mainly from the preservation of the tranquillity of Europe. But this House cannot forget, that while the main trunk of the empire is digesting its strength and recruiting its energies by repose, its extremities have not been allowed to participate in that salutary inaction. In India, a large force has been necessarily put in motion to repel the unjust aggression of a barbarous neighbour. The distance of the scene of operations and the want of information on the subject in consequence of that distance, have precluded us from obtaining any minute details. Suffice it, however, to say, that wherever the British arm has been raised, either to smite or to save, its terrible reputation has been upheld in that, as in every other quarter of the world. But it will be obvious to the House and the country, that a war, such as that which existed in India at the time the last accounts reached us, called for arrangements, by which the ordinary system by which exchange of regiments between this country and India was conducted, must necessarily be deranged, and I am sure the House will see the necessity of supplying the vacancies which must have been produced from this cause. The increased supply of troops destined for the service of India will not, however, add to the burthens of this country, since 36 India is capable of supporting her own expenditure, I think, Sir, upon examining the numerical strength of the forces in other parts of our foreign possessions, we shall be equally convinced of the expediency of the proposed increase. With a war raging in the immediate neighbourhood of our possessions in the Mediterranean, it may be supposed expedient, that, without attempting to rival the standing armies of the Continent, we should have some more disposable force than would be strictly necessary for mounting guard at Gibraltar, and doing garrison duty at Malta or Corfu. On the other hand, in other quarters of the world—for instance, in the West Indies—troops have naturally been drawn away from the complement which was necessary for the protection of Canada. Upon these local grounds I feel confident, Sir, that the House will fully concur in the necessity of a further increase of the forces of the country. There is this additional reason for such an increase. We must all remember that during a period of distress, his majesty's ministers did their duty in paring down the establishments of the country to the smallest possible area commensurate with the national security. But, Sir, I have said that it is only on local grounds that I consider this measure necessary; and I feel that I am fairly borne out in asserting, that his majesty's ministers in requesting this sacrifice of a portion of revenue which might have been applied to other purposes, do not anticipate the necessity of resorting to any other than peaceful measures, for the purpose of supporting that line of policy which his majesty chooses to pursue in our commercial relations.
There is no reason to suppose that there will be any interruption in our amicable relations with other powers; but there is one observation which must be so obvious to every Member of this House and every subject in his majesty's dominions, that he who runs may read; namely, that a variety of causes have contributed to alter very materially the face of Europe in politics, and that, though the time may have existed when something like calculation, something like a prophetic spirit might have been applied to them, he must be a bold astrologer who can venture to predict what will happen, and a still bolder one who will venture to form any prognostic as to what will not happen in a system where the figures are so complicated, and 37 the motions so excentric and confused. At such a period, it is satisfactory to know, that the good offices of England have been available in every quarter of the world, to draw closer the bonds of friendly communication between nation and nation. The House will have pleasure in the information which his Majesty's Speech conveys, that the mediation of this country has been successfully exerted between Russia and Turkey, and that the efforts of this country have been gratefully acknowledged by both those powers. The House must also have learnt with pleasure, that his Majesty's endeavours to effect the abolition of the Slave Trade in every part of the world, have continued unremitted and unabated, and that a treaty between this country and Sweden has been concluded for the promotion of that object. It cannot but be deeply lamented, that an obstacle arising from the nature of the Constitution of the United States of America should have prevented the completion of a similar treaty. The diplomatic papers relative to this subject are, I believe, in the hands of the House, from which they will been abled to form their own judgment, as to the transactions which have taken place. In this instance, a treaty which had already been ratified by his Majesty, was returned, not only with alterations, but one of those alterations, a vital one, and which originated entirely with America itself—I allude to the alteration relative to the right of search, inadmissible in its own nature, and utterly inadmissible from the circumstances under which it was introduced. I perfectly concur in the course which has been pursued by his majesty's government, which was, I believe, to annul that treaty entirely, and to open a new negotiation, the basis of which negotiation was essentially the treaty which had been returned by America, with the single exception of the article which had originated with herself. The time has not yet permitted us to receive an answer to that proposition, which will, I trust, be as satisfactory as its fairness deserves.
I now, Sir, proceed to notice a part of his majesty's speech, which cannot fail to excite the most intense interest in, this country, and in every part of the civilized world—I allude to the announcement of his majesty's intention to enter into commercial treaties with certain newly-organized states of South America, which, it appears, have established their own form of 38 government. The object of these treaties is one of which I need not point out the necessity to the representative Assembly of the greatest commercial nation that ever existed in the world: it is that of consolidating those regulations of commercial intercourse, without which the merchant is apt to assume the character of an adventurer, and trade become a speculation. But, Sir, while I acknowledge and feel, as deeply as any man can do, the necessity of such regulations—a necessity which has been felt by those who are practically interested, and which must be obvious to the nation at large—I think both the politician and the merchant, the warmest advocate for political liberty, and the most zealous guardian of our commercial interest, must acknowledge, that circumstances did exist, which rendered it imperative on the government of the country to act with caution, to deliberate on the measures by which they would afterwards be bound, and on the time and manner of executing them. No one can be surprised that, in cases such as these, a government may be led on to adopt a course of policy, in pursuance of her own fair and honourable interest, which policy may subsequently lead to measures perfectly compatible with the rights of every human being; and yet it may be such a course of policy as another government, under different circumstances, would find it difficult to carry into execution. It is needless to remind the House, that in no one instance did the consideration of this subject lead his majesty's government to contemplate, for a moment, any interference in the struggle between these provinces and the mother country. A bill, Sir, which was much disputed and argued upon in this House, whatever may be its original merits, is a further standing testimony, that the government of this country did not sanction any British enterprise, any unusual exertion of that valour which its possessors carry about them to every quarter of the world, and which has, in some instances, assisted those provinces against the mother country. But, his majesty's ministers while pursuing this course, could not avoid foreseeing that the period would probably arrive, when the measures now in progress, or similar ones, would eventually be called for. The course of policy which they would then feel themselves bound to pursue, was traced out with mathematical accuracy, was laid before the power most interested; 39 if any objections were made, they were answered; if any explanation was requested, it was given; and, in the fulness of time, the political prediction is now in the progress of accomplishment. This, Sir, is what I mean by the manner in which our government has acted. In asserting that the essence of that policy is free from any just cause of offence to God or man, I know that I coincide with the general feeling of this country—I know that I assert a proposition which is too palpable to require proof. But, I have no wish of disguising the fact, that the opinions of some of the continental cabinets are at variance on this subject as they have been on others, with our own. But, I have no apprehension, that any such difference will induce any breach of those friendly relations which it is the wish of this country, and the interests of all parties, to cultivate. If even violence of language, if menace, could have been deemed, by any power, an expedient weapon for inducing this country to change its opinion, I cannot but think that weapon Would have been used when its application might, by supposition, have availed—when no irrevocable step had yet been taken. The surest test that can be applied to the conduct of man to man, or nation to nation, is that which supposes the application of our conduct to ourselves. We may be told, Sir, that we are a nation possessing a large colonial empire—that those colonies may revolt. They may, Sir. If they do, then I say, let every power which is interested in a commercial intercourse with those colonies, pursue a course towards us, which we have pursued towards Spain. I ask no more. We may be told, 'Sir, that we are merely pursuing our own interests. We are, Sir: and that is the interest of the whole world, though all nations may not be equally well situated for it. But, Sir, I can suppose a case, in which we might have followed the views of that interest, and taken a course which would have given just cause of offence to Spain—which would have irritated the pride of the king of that country, and of the council of the Indies—which would have given them just cause for calling upon whatever allies they had to make common cause against our aggression—which would have given them a ground for rearing the standard of a war, and that war, Sir, a war of principle—next to a religious contest, the most inextinguishable source of 40 misery and destruction. We might, Sir, have thrown in the weight of our, recognition, at a time when the struggle was yet in its progress. We might have proclaimed the constitution wherever the insurgent flag had been hoisted—by that conduct, the mere act of recognition, without sending forth fleets or armies, would have been an essential act of hostility. If I wished, in this point of view, to set the conduct of his majesty's government in a light in which I thought it would look best, I would wander from imaginary suppositions of my own; I would appeal to history; I would place it side by side with the conduct of France throughout the American war—from the first moment when she began to tamper with the American agents, to the moment when, "willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike," her timidity was forced into the struggle by the fear, not of our conquest of those states, but of our reconciliation with them. I would refer to the state papers and speeches of that day, the declaration of France, the reply of Gibbon, and that admirable specimen of political narrative, the speech delivered in this House by governor Pownall.* I trust, Sir, the House will acquit me of absolute recrimination against France. I mention the fact, because I think it bears directly on the present case. I trust these treaties will fully attain the important object for which they are in progress. I trust they will tend still further to increase the commercial prosperity, which has even now attained a height unparalleled in our history. Of our internal trade, it is difficult to obtain any test which amounts to any thing like arithmetical accuracy, but every indication exists, which can afford a proof, short of what the exact sciences furnish, to induce us to believe it stands higher than it ever did before. To our foreign trade a test may be applied, even amounting to such accuracy; and I believe it will be found to exceed, by one-tenth, the scale, of the preceding year. On the subject of the newly-acknowledged states of South America, I wish to make one observation, which I have seen in two different works on the subject. The one is the production of a Frenchman; the other is written by a citizen of the United States, and in both there is a very strong,* For the speech of governor Pownall, referred to by the noble lord, see Parliamentary History, Vol. XVI. p. 494.41 and at the same time, a very natural national jealousy expressed at the direction which the trade of those countries was taking towards England. I sincerely hope that those treaties will foster and improve this fortunate tendency. Our commerce is now happily in the progress of being freed from many restrictions, which, bottomed upon false principles, impeded its free course. Those absurd enactments are now expunged from the text-book of the political economist. To what extent our commerce may reach—what or whether any limits can be affixed to the spirit of British industry—is a subject for the speculations of the political philosopher, or ingenious traveller. I shall therefore leave these matters to the Halls and the Humboldts of the day: and shall remain satisfied with the conviction, that England has not yet run her course; that the soil is not exhausted, out of which the sturdy growth of this great empire has sprung up and that many rich harvests still remain to be reaped by generations yet unborn [loud cheers].—The noble lord concluded with moving,
"That an humble Address be presented to his majesty, to return his majesty the thanks of this House, for his most gracious Speech delivered by the lords commissioners; and to assure his majesty, that we sincerely participate in the gratification which his majesty derives from the continuance and progressive increase of that public prosperity upon which his majesty congratulated us at the opening of the last session of parliament, from the thriving condition of all the great interests of the nation, and from the feeling of content and satisfaction so widely diffused through all classes of the British people:
"That it is to us, as to his majesty, no small additional gratification that Ireland is participating in the general prosperity; that the outrages, for the suppression of which extraordinary powers were confided to his majesty, have so far ceased as to warrant the suspension of the exercise of those powers in most of the districts heretofore disturbed; and that industry and commercial enterprize are extending themselves in that, part of the United Kingdom; we regret therefore the more deeply the existence in Ireland of Associations which have adopted proceedings irreconcileable with the spirit of the constitution, and calculated by exciting alarm, and by exasperating animosities, to endanger the peace of society, and to, retard the course, of na- 42 tional improvement; and that his majesty may rely upon our readiness to consider without delay the means of applying a remedy to this evil:
"To assure his majesty, that we will lose no time in renewing the inquiries instituted last Session into the state of Ireland:
"That we learn with regret the interruption of tranquillity in India, by the unprovoked aggression and extravagant pretensions of the Burmese Government, which rendered hostile operations against that state unavoidable; but that, as none of the other native Powers have manifested any unfriendly disposition, we look to a speedy termination of the contest from a continuance of that bravery and conduct which has already been displayed by the British army:
"To thank his majesty for directing the Estimates of the year to be forthwith laid before us:
"To assure his majesty that we will give our best attention to the proposal which his majesty announces to us, for an augmentation in his majesty's military establishment, required by the state of India, and circumstances connected with other parts of his majesty's foreign possessions:
"That it is the highest gratification to us to be informed by his majesty that, after providing for any expense that may be incurred by such augmentation of force, the flourishing state and progressive improvement of the revenue will still enable us to give additional facilities to the national industry, and to make a further reduction in the burthens of his people:
"To thank his majesty for the information that his majesty continues to receive from his allies, and generally from all princes and states, assurances of their unabated desire to maintain and cultivate the relations of peace with his majesty, and with each other; and to acknowledge his majesty's goodness and wisdom, in his majesty's constant endeavours to preserve the general tranquillity:
"To congratulate his majesty on the amicable termination of the negotiations between the emperor of Russia and the Ottoman Forte, through his majesty's ambassadors at Constantinople; and to thank his majesty for having directed to be laid before us copies of arrangements which have been entered into with the Kingdoms of Denmark and: Hanover, for improving the commercial intercourse between those states and the United Kingdom, and of the 43 treaty for the more effectual suppression of the slave trade, which has been concluded between his majesty and Sweden:
"To express our anxious hope that any difficulties which have arisen with respect to the treaty for the same object, which was negociated last year between his majesty and the United States of America, may not finally impede the conclusion of so beneficial an arrangement:
"To express the satisfaction and the acknowledgments which we feel to be due to his majesty for having, in conformity with the declarations which have been repeatedly made in his majesty's name, taken measures for confirming by treaties the commercial relations already subsisting between this Kingdom and those countries of America which appear to have established their separation from Spain, and for his majesty's gracious promise that so soon as these treaties shall be completed his majesty will direct copies of them to be laid before us:
"To assure his majesty that we contemplate with the same feelings as his majesty the continued improvement in the agricultural interests, the solid foundation of our national prosperity:
"To express to his majesty the pleasure that it affords us to hear that evident advantage has been derived from the relief which we have recently given to commerce, by the removal of inconvenient restrictions; and to assure his majesty that we will, in obedience to his majesty's most gracious recommendation, persevere (as circumstances may allow) in the removal of similar restrictions, confidently relying on his majesty's cordial co-operation, in fostering and extending that commerce, which, whilst it is under the blessing of Providence a main source of strength and power to this country, contributes in no less degree to the happiness and civilisation of mankind."
Mr. Alderman Thompson
rose, and addressed the House to the following effect:—Mr. Speaker; I rise to second the address, which has been moved by my noble friend; and in presenting myself to the notice of the House, I feel conscious that I stand in need of a greater portion of its indulgence than it has usually been called upon to extend to any individual upon similar occasions; at the same time, I must, in justice to the noble mover, acknowledge, that the very able and eloquent manner in which he has illustrated the various important topics 44 contained in his majesty's most gracious speech, has relieved me from much of the arduous task I have undertaken. I shall, therefore, abstain from trespassing upon the indulgence of the House, being most anxious to avoid the risk of weakening the favourable impression which the noble lord appears to have so successfully made upon both sides of the House; an impression which justifies me in fondly anticipating, that the address, in answer to the speech from the throne, will meet with the unanimous approbation of the House, distinguished as that speech is, by matter of the deepest interest and of proud exultation, furnishing a theme of congratulation for a state of things more gratifying than it ever fell to the lot of the monarch of this or any other country to communicate to his people.—It cannot fail, Sir, to be highly satisfactory to the country, that his majesty continues to receive from foreign powers assurances of continued friendship, and of their disposition to cultivate with his majesty those friendly relations, which it is equally the interest as well as the sincere desire of the British empire to maintain, and in furtherance of this object, it must be highly gratifying to the country to learn, that through the mediation of his majesty, the differences which existed between the emperor of Russia, and the Ottoman Porte have been brought to an amicable issue; that there is no prospect of the harmony and friendly intercourse which subsist between this country and foreign powers being disturbed; but that, on the contrary, there is a well-founded expectation of a continuance of that good understanding which has now existed for many years, and which has chiefly contributed to raise this country to a state of unexampled prosperity.—Whilst upon this branch of the subject, the House, I hope, will permit me to advert to an event which has lately occurred in France, the circumstances connected with which have afforded strong evidence of the happy change which has taken place in the feelings and opinions of the people of that country, and offers a substantial pledge of permanent tranquillity, I allude to the demise of the king of France, an event which was contemplated with no inconsiderable degree of anxiety by the people of every state in Europe, and which, by the common course of nature, considering the age and bodily infirmities with which Louis 18th was bitterly 45 afflicted, could not be very distant. The termination of the eventful life of that monarch was regarded as the last hope of the advocates for revolution; but, thanks to a benign Providence, their expectations have been disappointed; we have witnessed the sceptre of France pass into the hands of his legitimate successor without the slightest disorder, thus satisfactorily exhibiting to the world, that the present dynasty of France rests on the most solid foundation. I am led to these observations, to show how permanent are likely to be the advantages of peace we now enjoy, and that the country is rapidly advancing to a state which may be viewed as affording an indemnity for the vast sacrifices she has made in the accomplishment of that great purpose—the general peace and tranquillity of Europe. With respect to the fallen state of Spain, the declarations of the government of France regarding that country, may, I think, safely be confided in. I believe Charles 10th to be sincere, when he declares, that his object in maintaining a military occupation of a part of Spain, is not for the purpose of territorial aggrandizement, but with a view of protection to his own dominions; and in proportion as that danger subsides, in the same ratio, will he, no doubt, withdraw his army from Spain; and I think the House will admit the conduct of the king of France, during the short time he has occupied the throne of that country, offers the most satisfactory pledge of the future. His accession to the crown has been distinguished by a liberal policy, exemplified, indeed, strongly in the restoration of the liberty of the press, and other institutions, which are in unison with a progressive state of tranquillity and civilization. But, Sir, while our relations with the continental powers of Europe have acquired so auspicious a character, and great and unprecedented as have been the benefits which Great Britain has derived from this happy state of peace, his majesty's ministers have not been inattentive to the opportunity, when they could consistently with existing circumstances, increase the advantages, and extend the means of commercial intercourse, by forming a connection with the new Transatlantic States. Three centuries have now elapsed since those states fell under European dominion, unfortunately not of the Protestant part of Europe, nor of a country like Great Britain, capable of imparting useful institutions 46 to its colonies, and cultivating a mutually beneficial intercourse; they fell under the dominion of the Spanish government—a government unfortunately blind both to its political and commercial interest. What a picture of the baneful effects of monopoly in trade and bigotry in religion has been exhibited in the case of Spanish America, how different the prospect which is now opened to these countries! the removal of all restrictions on their trade with other parts of the world—a passage of two months wafting to the western hemisphere the manufactures of England, and thus laying the foundation, by means of an interchange of commodities, for sound principles of trade, advantageous to both; whilst we receive in return supplies of produce, adapted both to the luxury of the higher classes and the industry of the lower. Had the councils of Spain been guided by enlightened men, she never would have suffered so valuable a portion of the globe, inhabited by twenty one millions of people, to be held in a bondage disgraceful to civilized nations; she would not have suffered the contest for liberal institutions, and an emancipation from colonial monopoly and oppression, to be prolonged for a period of fourteen years, but have acquiesced in a change corresponding with the improvement of the times. Spain, however, pursued a different course, and fortunately an unsuccessful one; but, while the struggle was doubtful, England prudently remained neutral. The contest being virtually ended, his majesty's ministers have adopted decisive measures; they have taken steps to form a diplomatic intercourse with those states, which will contribute to give them stability and a confirmed influential station amongst the independent nations of the world. If there are any among those whom I have the honour of addressing who were of opinion that measures for the recognition of those countries were too long delayed; if there are any who doubted the friendly disposition of his majesty's ministers towards those new states, I think they will now readily acknowledge that parliament acted wisely in confiding in the government; and when reflecting on the events which have occurred within the last six or nine months, they will also be of opinion, that the administration have selected the most suitable period for the opening of a diplomatic intercourse with those states—a period indeed, when the Spanish forces 47 in that country have been vanquished in almost every engagement, and Spain no longer can lay claim even to the seeming title of a military occupation; when a system of government has been established in Colombia, Mexico, and Buenos Ayres, exhibiting conclusive evidence of a knowledge of liberal systems of government, and evincing a desire to cultivate the advantages derivable from the experience of a part of the globe deeply skilled in arts, and most advanced in general civilization.—Having now given a sketch (and I fear an imperfect one) of the happy state of our foreign relations generally, and the advantages which we are likely to acquire from an intercourse with the South American states, I must also notice the war which has unexpectedly sprung up in India; the measures which have, however, been taken, will, I trust, speedily lead to an adjustment of the differences; if not, we may safely confide in the tried valour of our army in that quarter, and look forward to an early and satisfactory termination of hostilities. The House has been apprized of his majesty's intention to augment the army. A more efficient force in British India has rendered this necessary. The reductions also which took place in the military force of the country since the peace, regiments having been reduced from 1,000 to about 600 men, has pressed inconveniently upon the service in our distant possessions. The proposed augmentation will afford much relief upon those stations; and it is gratifying to reflect, that from the flourishing state of the revenue, no additional burthens on account of such increase will be imposed upon the people.—With respect to the slave trade, from the perseverance, temper, and firmness with which that important subject has been espoused by his majesty's government, I think the House may safely confide in their continued exertions towards the completion of the wishes of the country. The state of Ireland is a topic which has been at various periods recommended to the attention of parliament, and has successively occupied its deliberate consideration. It is to be lamented, that, at a moment when British capital is beginning to diffuse itself throughout that fertile country, when the benefits of an unrestricted commercial intercourse between the two countries are daily exemplified, whilst measures are also in progress which cannot fail to ameliorate the condition of 48 the lower order of the Irish population; I say, it is to be lamented, that those beneficial effects should be impeded in their rapid march by the obtrusive interference of misguided individuals; who by their acts are exasperating animosities, diverting the attention of certain classes of his majesty's faithful subjects from honest industry, and levying a species of tax upon a portion of the people of that country, with no other object than to enable those mistaken individuals to attempt to overawe the parliament of the united kingdom. Whatever difference of opinion, Sir, may exist in this House with respect to a question which is now made the protecting mantle for covering the errors and false notions of certain infatuated persons, I apprehend, that under existing circumstances, but one opinion will be entertained in this House, as to the course it will be fitting to pursue. For myself, I will take this opportunity of declaring, that my opinions are decidedly adverse to further concessions; my reasons for which I shall, upon a suitable opportunity, be ready to assign.—I trust the House will grant me its attention, while I advert to that part of his majesty's speech which relates to the improved and improving state of our agricultural interests, of our trade, commerce, manufactures, and negotiation, presenting a faithful picture which cannot fail to be most gratifying to the mind of every Englishman, to behold our country after a war of unprecedented length, carried on at an expense to the people to which history affords no parallel; not merely recovered from the state of unavoidable exhaustion attendant upon such an unexampled struggle, but actually raised to a degree of prosperity and glory unknown at any period. In proof whereof, I will advert to the increase of our revenue. The branch of Excise, which affords the best test of internal prosperity, alone has exceeded the amount of the preceding year, by upwards of 1,100 000l.; and the Customs, after deducting the repeal of duties within the year, to the amount of 1,250,000l., only falls short of that of the preceding year 166,485l.; consequently, there is an increase in this department of our revenue nearly equal to that in the Excise. These form a just and unerring criterion of the increasing prosperity of our foreign and domestic trade: but, indeed, it is unnecessary to have reference to such proofs—whatever 49 part of England you visit there are presented to your view a happy, contented, and industrious population; whether they are employed in the manufactories of our great staples, or in the cultivation of the soil, the scene is equally gratifying. What a pleasing contrast does the present state of the country form to that of the year 1820, a period within the age of the present Parliament. Yes, Sir, within the short period of five years I have heard gentlemen, whose opinions have justly been entitled to great weight and authority, declare, that England was a declining country; that in commerce, manufactures, and navigation, she was incapable to enter into successful competition with any foreign rivals; that the means by which she must sustain her public credit were rapidly diminishing. I take leave, Sir, to remind the House of the gloomy predictions with which it was assailed from certain of the manufacturing and shipping interests, at a period when the important improvements in our navigation law, warehouse system, duties, &c. were under the consideration of Parliament; predictions which had no other foundation than in the hereditary attachment to ancient prejudices, unsuited to the present times, and unsound in principle. And may I not now ask, triumphantly, how have those gloomy predictions been verified? Are those Members of this House, few indeed, who advocated a continuance of the restrictive policy, become converts at last to the liberal system of trade? Are they now prepared to co-operate in the encouragement of open competition, the discontinuance of monopolies and restraints upon our trade and navigation? If not, let me entreat their attention for a short time, whilst I detail to the House the happy effects which have resulted to the country, principally from the improved state of our commercial code. In the first place, Sir, the official value of the exports of British manufactured goods during the year 1824, ending in October last, being the latest period at which the public accounts have been made up, as compared with the preceding year 1823, exhibit an increase of no less than 4,500,000l. sterling, bringing the total value of exports in 1824 to 50,758,800l., being by far the largest export ever made by this country. The Transit trade has also, under the beneficial influence of the improving warehousing system, experienced a marked increase: the Act only took effect in 50 July, 1823, and in 1824, as compared with a like period of twelve months preceding, in 1823, there is an increase in value of upwards of 1,200,000l. The sound policy of diminishing duties on the raw material, and acted upon by the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has been most fully exemplified in the following articles. In consequence of that diminution, and the increased encouragement thereby given to the industry of the country, duties were paid upon nearly half a million of pounds weight of silk more than in 1823, and on sheep's wool upwards of five millions of pounds weight since the last session of Parliament. The consumption of colonial rum has also increased during the same period 165,700 gallons. With respect to our shipping interests, they are all in a state of rapid improvement. About two hundred more merchant vessels, yielding about 40,000 tons, have been constructed during the last twelve months in England and Scotland alone, as compared with the preceding year. The value of shipping, according to their respective tonnages, has risen from twenty to forty per cent.; and ships employed in the timber trade, the owners of which it was predicted would be ruined by the alteration of the Timber duties, and reciprocity of duties' act, have risen full 60 per cent in value; freights have increased 20 per cent, and there is plenty of employment. Of the increased trade of the country the port of London has had its full share. During the last year, as compared with the preceding, 2,800 more vessels entered the port from foreign and home ports; and if but due encouragement be given to an extension of the wet-dock accommodation, so highly essential to the trade of the metropolis, and the places of deposit for landing, the rates and charges of the port will undergo material reduction, and thus, by inviting the foreign merchant to avail himself of our capital, and the facilities offered to trade under our improved commercial code, we shall soon compete with our neighbouring continental rivals. The improved and improving state of the revenue of the country will, it is hoped, enable his majesty's government to proceed progressively with a diminution of taxation. The right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer most decidedly enjoys the full confidence of the country, and I am satisfied he will not disappoint the just expectations the country may have 51 formed. The prosperous state and improving condition of our agricultural interest form a topic of pleasing reflection. I am anxious, however, to state my opinion, that such prosperity is not in any manner attributable to the existing Corn Laws, which I believe is admitted by all parties, ought to undergo alteration. I am an advocate for their repeal, and the substitution of a protecting duty equal to a fair equivalent of the poor-rates, tithes, &c. paid by our farmers as compared with other countries. I repeat, Sir, if the situation of the country in 1820 was correctly portrayed (the period to which I have first alluded), how pleasing is the present contrast! Our trade last year has increased to an extent unprecedented; and happily England no longer cherishes visionary notions of advantage from commercial monopoly. The men who guide our councils, the merchants who invigorate our national industry, concur in disclaiming the doctrines of prohibition and restrictions. I will venture, without flattery, to say of England what the people of Rome said of one of their Emperors with a great deal of flattery—Nil oriturum alias, nil ortum tale fatentes.
§ Mr. Brougham
regretted to state, that he was under the necessity, not only of expressing his dissent from, but also of entering his solemn protest against, some, and those not the least important, parts of the Speech which had just been read to them. He felt, however, great satisfaction in being able, before he stated them, to take notice, which he should do as shortly and clearly as he could, of those parts of the address to which he could give his most cordial and willing assent. In giving that assent, and in joining his congratulations to those contained in the address upon many of the points noticed in the Speech, he could not claim for himself any extraordinary stretch of candour. He was rather withheld, as indeed were many of the friends around him, by a feeling of modesty, from giving their due meed of praise to the measures alluded to, since those measures which were now the theme of so much praise and so many congratulations, were measures which the gentlemen on his side of the House years ago had urged, but in vain, upon those who at that time were intrusted with the administration of the country. He was rather restrained by this feeling of modesty, from praising the wisdom and vigour of the legislature in 52 making the great mercantile reforms which had been recently effected; he was afraid, lest in bestowing any commendations of his upon them, he should seem to be bestowing commendation upon himself. He was, however, encouraged to get rid of his modesty; and to bestow upon them the honour that they merited, by the recollection that they were not so much his own propositions as the propositions of those friends with whom he had been in the habit of acting, both in parliament and out of parliament, ever since he had had the honour of being returned to it. The principles, let it be said in parliament, and be heard with rejoicing and edification throughout the country—the principles were at end which had so long hampered the industry and cramped the energies of the people of England. Those doctrines of narrow, shop-keeping, hux-tering policy, which wise men had for many years treated with contempt, both at home and abroad, but which for ages had been reverenced by the ignorant as the only base upon which commercial property could be firmly established—those doctrines which, for two generations back, had been the topic of unqualified scorn, and the theme of unmixed reprobation with all writers of enlightened understanding, but which had been regularly defended by each successive minister during that period as the real foundation of national greatness—those doctrines, he was happy to say, were now exploded for ever, and could never more be advanced to obstruct the welfare and prosperity of the country. For years the House had been told, that it was either a wild chimera, or a dangerous innovation, to talk of the doctrines of a free trade, and of the right of men to employ their capital and their industry according to their interests, their wishes—ay, or even according to their caprices. At one time, when it pleased the ministry to view them with contempt, these doctrines were described as a visionary code, specious in theory, but impossible in practice; and at another, when it pleased it to excite alarm against them, they were viewed with as much detestation and abhorrence, as if they had been a leaf taken out of that book which some men thought they could never sufficiently detest and abhor, he meant "The Rights of Man," by Thomas Paine. He had himself heard them treated as idle chimeras by one set of ministers, and as Jacobinical innovations 53 by another, just as it was the fashion of the day to treat them as objects of contempt or of abhorrence; and yet he, who had seen them first contemned and then abhorred, had now the happiness to say, that they had reached the consummation of their glory, not merely in being adopted by ministers, but in being publicly recognized, not only in the Speech which had just been delivered to them from a high quarter, but also in the addresses which were going to be returned to it by both Houses of Parliament. The House would see that it required but little candour in him to approve those parts of the Speech which referred to the late mercantile reforms. Let them look, for instance, at the recent modification of the navigation laws. Eight years ago he had himself expounded—very inadequately, he admitted, but still he had expounded—the very alterations which had lately been adopted. He claimed no merit for them, the invention was not his own, but that of greater and much wiser men. He had, however, proposed them, and by so doing had drawn down upon himself the heavy disapprobation of a right hon. gentleman, a great guardian of the commercial interests of the country. That right hon. gentleman was now no more. He had been blamed by that right hon. gentleman, the late Mr. Rose, for advocating such doctrines; he had ventured, however, to preach them more than once—ineffectually, indeed, at the time, but, as it now appeared, with undeniable ultimate success. At the same time he had also proposed the changes which had recently been adopted with regard to the silk trade. They were assailed, on his first propounding them, with great and extraordinary severity. He was told over and over again, that nothing could be more speculative, nothing more absurd: he was informed, that though they might appear very plausible in theory, every person in the trade considered them inapplicable to practice: he was even met by the taunt, that what he advanced might be very true, but that it looked very much like "an ingenious sophism." I trust, "said one hon. gentleman, whom he now saw before him, "that I shall never see any ministry attempting to legislate upon such a subject." "God protect us," said another, "if any man should attempt to withdraw this corner-stone of our commercial policy. Let no man meddle with it by day or by night;" and he might 54 have added, "in the interval between midnight and morning," which of all times for meddling was certainly the worst and most objectionable. "The moment it is withdrawn," continued he, "confusion and ruin will be at no great distance." "Thank God," said a third, in a fit of pious enthusiasm, "we shall never live to see the day, when the principles avowed by the gentlemen opposite shall be sanctioned by those who hold the highest place in his majesty's councils, or when those who hold such principles shall dare to act upon them as his majesty's ministers." Ministers had, however, sanctioned such principles: they had carried into effect all the detestable nostrums of that side of the House: they had taken an entire leaf out of the book of their opponents: they had even enacted measures to legalize the damnable heresies of Adam Smith and the Scotch economists, and to stamp with that odious name the opinions of their adversaries: nay more, the country was now called to thank God for having ministers who had courage to support such measures, though it was formerly called upon to thank God for having ministers who had courage to oppose them. Though he could not formerly concur in the gratitude which the country had been called upon to feel towards his majesty's ministers, he could now concur in it cordially and sincerely. He thanked God that measures had been taken by them to recognize the principles for which he, and those who thought with him, had long contended with so little immediate success. He thanked God that they were never more likely to be troubled even with the visions of those old, mean, absurd, senseless, inconsistent, shopkeeper-like, huckster-like, beggar-like doctrines, which had at last given way before the manly, generous, and philosophical principles, which the king's ministers had been compelled to adopt, by the almost unanimous sense of the country.
He trusted that the House would allow him, now that he had pointed out the concessions which his majesty's ministers had made to doctrines which they had formerly reprobated, to express a hope that they would go on in the course on which they had entered. If they did not, their work would be only half accomplished. What they had done was chiefly to be prized as a pledge that a better policy than the past would be pursued in future. For example, they had adopted 55 the recommendations which he had proposed in 1817 regarding the navigation and the silk laws. Now, another of the measures which he had recommended was one that had never been described as either so chimerical or so abominable, as either of those which had been recently adopted, and might be easily and successfully, if willingly, carried into effect. It was a well-known observation of Dr. Swift, that in political arithmetic, two and two did not always make four. Now, this observation he had applied to the consumption of commodities which were heavily taxed; for instance, wines. Now, there it was quite clear, that by increasing the tax upon the article they did not find that two and two made four; but different was the result in the case of coffee, for there, by lowering the duty, they had increased the consumption; so that where they meant to add two-and-two in the arithmetic of taxation, in the case of wine they had failed, and had not doubled the amount of duty; whereas, when they reduced the duties upon coffee one-half, they found they had doubled, or nearly doubled, the consumption, and, necessarily, maintained the full amount of the revenue. He hoped, therefore, that in the article of wines, as in that of coffee, they would profit by a departure from an unproductive estimate of calculating their amount of revenue. Why not do so speedily in the article of wines? Why not, in the path of reduction, make that the next step? Let the wine duty, then, at once be reduced; and, above all, let there be not only a reduction, but an equalization of these different wine duties for all foreign countries—he meant, in fact, a general and total revision of that arrangement which was made under the name of the Methuen treaty, in a time, and under circumstances, when a far different foreign and domestic policy prevailed from that which ought at present to regulate the affairs of such a kingdom as Great Britain. One good effect which Would immediately arise from such a revision, would be the establishment of a better understanding with the French government, the lowering of the duties upon other French articles, and the increase, which he had no doubt would be consequent upon such a reduction, of the foreign consumption of British manufacture. These instances of better policy were, he hoped, on the eve of consummation; so that whatever amelioration had been already effected, he was quite sure they had 56 not yet seen the last of those reformatory measures, which had been so long delayed, although so essentially called for by the best interests of the community.
There was another branch of his majesty's Speech which gave him sincere satisfaction: he alluded to the approach lately made by the king's government to that sound, and not more sound than expedient, and no less expedient than just and liberal policy, so often recommended from that side of the House, and so unanimously called for by the general voice of the country—he meant the recognition of some of the great empires in South America. How much of this policy, great as it undoubtedly was, belonged to the country, which had so strongly and repeatedly called for it—how much of it belonged to the executive government—how far the ministers had been driven into it—how little was the speed of their march—how small was their reluctance, or what was the measure or degree of their readiness, to do this justice to the country and to those new states, it were now, perhaps, unnecessary, if not invidious, to inquire. But, all men would know and feel how much of it belonged to his hon. and learned friend (sir J. Mackintosh) who had shown himself the uniform, powerful, learned, and consistent advocate of those early and liberal views of enlightened colonial policy which now met at length the assent of his majesty's government. How much of it was due to the inimitable speech delivered by his hon. and learned friend upon the foreign enlistment bill—a speech than which there never had been one delivered within their walls more deserving the admiration of every wise and liberal mind—how much of it was, he repeated, due to that eloquent and powerful speech, as well as to his learned friend's equally great, though more elaborate address, during the last session, upon the state of South America—it was not easy to say: but sure he was, that there was no man, either within or without that House, who could fail to ascribe a portion—a large portion—of this great triumph of right policy over wrong policy, to his learned and excellent friend [hear, hear] He would not, however, on this occasion, quarrel with the share which the government had had in promoting the recent improvement. It was a great good to the country, at all events: if done by the ministers themselves, they deserved thanks for it; if done in obedience to the voice 57 of the country, equally ought they to be praised for listening to the suggestion. The good was done, and by whatever process it had been effected, it was gratifying to find, that there was now a government ready to yield to the wishes of the people; so that upon this subject he would not criticize too nicely the operation by which the improvement was effected. The recognition had luckily taken place at last; it was an act of justice following the undoubted fact of the assertion of their independence by the people of the South American States; and, however tardy the acknowledgment, still it would be gratifying to find, that it was not the price of any unworthy traffic, or paltry barter for mere commercial views. He was glad it was done at all events; for it was a measure fraught with justice, and calculated to produce the most beneficial results; and right was it, therefore, that both in the King's Speech, and the Address, the subject should have been introduced in the manner in which it had been. When touching upon this branch of the Speech, it could not fail to recur to him, that many a long year before Mexico, Colombia, Buenos Ayres, or Peru, had even dreamt of nobly struggling for, and establishing their independence, there was a struggle for liberty, a fighting stand to conquer national independence, made by another people, who had embarked in a successful contest for personal and individual freedom—he meant the great island of St. Domingo, which had long and long since succeeded in establishing its entire independence, upon a more peaceable, and now a more assured footing, than even Buenos Ayres or Colombia, the best established of the new South American States. His belief was, that at the onset of the St. Domingo revolution, England was hostile to the interests of the natives of that island; she became so from the cruel situation of her people as slave-masters. This it was which blindly led her to dislike the emancipation of the slaves of St. Domingo. But, a new state of things had since arisen, and the question of slavery, so far as St. Domingo could be connected with it, had been long since set at rest; for the natives had entirely emancipated themselves, and the island had become a thriving and powerful empire—one which had a right to be included in the protecting branch of the British colonial system: it was clearly the interest of their own colonies that it should be so: they owed this policy as 58 well to the protection of their own colonial whites as they did to their own unhappy slaves; and, in carrying it into effect, they ought to lose no more time than was actually necessary for arranging the acknowledgment, in the same manner as they had lately, in the South American States, and for more than the same reasons which had, at length, produced—some might say extorted—that just and salutary policy. Now, he would ask, was this display of liberal policy to stop here? Was this essential administration of justice to be confined to their foreign colonies? Was it to be restricted to the operations of their foreign trade, the branches of which were guided by men who were at the elbow of the government, and supposed to have a certain degree of colonial influence in certain quarters? Was this to be the circumference of their liberal sphere of action? Were they never to do justice nearer home? Were they never to listen to the voice of Ireland? [Hear, hear]. Was it there alone that sound policy was to be overlooked; and that, too, where one half of the empire, or thereabouts, was concerned; where a great population was oppressed by a continuance of matchless impolicy, and worse injustice, where a state of things prevailed, which put to imminent peril the responsibility of any British minister, who suffered the whole civil fabric of a large portion of the king's subjects to remain in jeopardy, because he withdrew from the adjustment of a question, which ere long must be definitively settled. He hoped that, upon the state of Ireland, they were not to be met by any crooked policy of expediency—he hoped the time was now past when they were to be told, "O, touch not such a topic, it is too delicate, there are too many, and too irreconcileable, and too various opinions afloat upon it: we must leave that alone—it is too harassing and complicating to be mooted. All other difficulties you will find us ready to meet and overcome, hut, by common consent, we have arranged to steer clear of this question: the fact is, what can we do with it?—we have not two members who think alike upon this topic." Was this the way, he would ask, in which the government of this country ought to be conducted? Could they tolerate this exception from the general policy, in the case of a country so inseparably identified with their internal interests, when they had an absolute right to have upon it the undivided opinion, clearly expressed, of an 59 intelligible and distinct cabinet? It was worse than idle to say that the condition of Ireland was the only question on which a cabinet might be divided. We had proof, that there were too many opinions in which they were far from concurrence. It was no later than the last session, that the House witnessed—the country witnessed—one honourable colleague introducing in that House, a change in the silk laws; and witnessing also, the same measure thrown out in the upper House by another noble colleague; upheld also in that object by other members of the same administration. We had seen also measures since adopted by all the members of that cabinet which once were designated by some of its members as Jacobinical, when they were suggested by those who surround me, carried, I will say, by the wisdom and manliness of the right hon. gentleman opposite (Mr. Secretary Canning); because, backed as he is by public opinion on this question—backed by the hon. friends who fill the benches around me, and on which he would have triumphed even had he been obliged to have left office on such grounds. Is he not bound, then, to follow up his principles? Is Ireland, I again ask, bound as we are to that near, that intimate connexion, on whose peace and security such momentous interests hang, on which so much danger stares us in the very front; danger, I would say, growing out of our own neglect, and on which we are probably on the verge of a great crisis, never to be approached? Sir, it can no longer be said, or insinuated, as it was formerly said or insinuated, that scruples exist in a certain quarter which destroy all hope of giving to the Catholics the relief which they seek. Such language, indeed, I always held to be most unconstitutional—most unjustifiable—most factious. It was language of which even the ministers of Charles II. would have been ashamed. It was language which, in the better times that preceded the reign of Charles H., would have brought the minister who dared to utter it to the block [hear, hear! from Mr. W. Lamb]. I should like to hear my hon. friend, who by his cheer challenges the justice of that observation, refute it. Accomplished as my hon. friend is in constitutional knowledge, having examined every opinion respecting it—for I am sure no man is better informed on the subject than my hon. friend—I should like to hear 60 what he could say in reply to that which I have advanced. This I know, that the greatest statesman this country ever saw, would cheerfully have gone to death rather than use such language; and yet, when so humble an individual as myself, temperately, and I trust, not immodestly repeats a doctrine which has been invariably maintained by those statesmen, to whom the constitution is so highly indebted, he is to be met with a cheer. My hon. friend cheers because a whig ventures to say, that the king's name ought not to be mentioned in this House, for the purpose of overawing or influencing our determinations. And yet, that is a principle which was never departed from, until the period to which I have alluded, and the propriety of a departure from which was never openly avowed in parliament until this night. In ancient times, it was invariably admitted, that of every act that was gracious and conciliatory, his majesty ought to have the credit; but, that whenever odious and unpopular measures were proposed, the ministers of the Crown should take the responsibility of them upon their own shoulders. This principle has been laid down by all our writers, and has been invariably acted upon even in the very worst periods of our monarchy. Yet I was only drawing a corollary from this principle when I was interrupted by my hon. friend's cheer. Unquestionably, it is a principle which has been departed from by many of the individuals of whom the present administration is formed. If any odious step is to be taken, any measure by which, perhaps, a political opponent is to be run down and injured—nothing is more common than to hear them exclaim, "Oh! I assure you it is no fault of ours, that Mr. So and So is thus used. You may easily guess who is at the bottom of the treatment he has received. It is our wish to do what is right. We are above all petty personal jealousies: we have no inclination to injure a political adversary: but there are impressions existing in a certain high quarter which prevent us from acting as we would otherwise do." And thus, Sir, is it constantly attempted to throw the load of odium on the sovereign and his immediate friends. Even when creditable measures are proposed by these individuals, the same system is resorted to; They talk of the difficulties they have experienced; and declare that God only knows the prejudices they have had to 61 conquer. So it used to be in the late reign with respect to Ireland The language was (I thank God that it cannot be now held), "We are free from prejudice on the subject; we acknowledge that the proposition to emancipate the Catholics is just and reasonable; but there exist in a certain illustrious quarter objections which it is impossible to obviate, although the precise nature of those objections our solemn oath as state councillors forbids us to divulge." Sir, it is a source of great satisfaction to me that that argument is at an end. No one who has marked the course of the illustrious individual who is now seated on the throne of these realms, more especially on that gratifying occasion, his visit to the sister kingdom, can doubt for a moment, that his opinion respecting the policy that ought to be pursued towards Ireland is consistent with the soundest and most enlightened principles. But this is a fact of which we cannot regularly have any knowledge of here. The private opinion of his majesty is in this country of no weight. The royal acts are the acts of the ministry. The speeches from the throne are the speeches of the ministry. But, there is a country in which such is not the case. I may advert, in support of my conviction of his majesty's opinion on the question of religious liberty, to his conduct in a country in which he acts not through his ministers, but directly as a sovereign. England has had frequent occasion to lament her connexion with Hanover. It is an ill wind, however, that blows nobody good. That connexion has proved highly serviceable to the cause of Ireland, by showing the sentiments entertained by the king, on the subject which now agitates Ireland. I allude to the royal proclamation issued last December, at Hanover, for the purpose of removing doubts respecting one of the articles of the act of the German confederation of June 1815. This, Sir, is the proclamation of George the 4th king of Hanover. It is his proclamation individually. It does not proceed from responsible advisers. Whatever blame or credit belongs to it, belongs to his majesty personally. It was, therefore, with no small delight that I read this, which I consider as a test of his majesty's real opinion. It is a proclamation deserving of the highest praise. Our government has too frequently been in the habit of imitating the governments of the continent. I 62 wish they would do so in the present case. I hope they will take this whole leaf out of the volume of the practice of Hanover. It is a valuable hint which has been given to them—a useful admonition—a sound example of liberal policy. At least, it will for ever stop ministers from insinuating, that any one is to blame but themselves for whatever fate may await Ireland. The annunciation of the king of Hanover is one which ought to be echoed in this country. It is most wise and most enlightened. "The several professors of the Christian faith," it declares, "enjoy a perfect equality of civil and political rights in the kingdom; and in conformity with the said article, the notion of a predominant and of a merely tolerated church is entirely abolished." This, Sir, is indeed the real doctrine of toleration. The man who really means to tolerate, does not use the word. He never speaks of it as a boon. He considers it as a right, not as a favour, that every man should worship his maker in whatever mode he conscientiously prefers. He holds, that a man may be erroneous in his religious opinions, but that if he be sincere in them, it is an insult to him to say that he shall be tolerated in professing them. When, therefore, his majesty, in this proclamation, says, that the idea of a predominant and of a merely tolerated church is not to be endured, he speaks the language of a wise and liberal policy. More is added in the same sound spirit. "All Christian religious communities" (ALL;—the expression is not confined to Hanover; it is equally applicable to Ireland) "have a right to the unobstructed and free exercise of their religious worship." More than this cannot be desired. Further than this no man would wish to go. But I ask, why not apply to Ireland the principle which has been thus wisely applied to Hanover? Why will his majesty's ministers in this country, in spite of this noble example, persevere in their present offensive and unjust policy? Why do not at least some of them manfully, frankly, and boldly maintain the necessity of concession to the Catholics? I will for the present put aside altogether the consideration of the Catholic Association. I will for a moment suppose that the refusal to grant the claims of the Catholics has not produced this, its natural and genuine fruit [hear, hear!]. Sir, I have no doubt of the fact. I never had a doubt that, sooner 63 or later, that refusal would be productive of the most injurious consequences. I told the House so last year. I then said, "If harsh language, if extravagant propositions, if a vehement spirit, if proceedings which may be termed violent and alarming, have emanated from, and been manifested by the Catholic Association, do not blame the Association itself; but blame those who have made the Association what it is, by treating the Catholics as they have been treated; blame those who by their conduct have turned reasonable to unreasonable expectations, and converted a dutiful request into an insolent demand."
I will now, however, lay aside all consideration of the Catholic Association. I will suppose that that association, and the evils arising from it have not been created by yourselves; that they are not your handy-work. I proceed, then, to ask the friends of Catholic emancipation in his majesty's government, why, having as councillors of the king, been enabled to carry measures which were opposed by the self-same persons, who refuse Catholic concession, they do not exercise the power which has been triumphant in the one case, in the other? They have not made the experiment. How, then, can they tell that it would not be successful? Of what are they afraid? What is their ground of alarm? Are they apprehensive that the result would be the resignation of any of their colleagues? Do they think that any one of their co-adjutors, some man of splendid talents, of profound learning, of unwearied industry would give up his place? Do they think he would resign his office; that he would quit the great seal? Prince Hohenloe is nothing to the man who could effect such a miracle [hear, and a laugh]. A more chimerical apprehension never entered the brain of a distempered poet. Any thing but that. Many things may surprise me, but nothing would so much surprise me as that the noble and learned individual to whom I allude, should quit his hold of office while life remains. A more superfluous fear than such an event never crossed the wildest visionary in his dreams. Indeed, Sir, I cannot refrain from saying, that I think the right hon. gentlemen opposite greatly underrate the steadiness of mind of the noble and learned individual in question. I think they greatly underrate the firmness and courage with which he bears, and will continue to bear, 64 the burthens of his high and important station. In these qualities the noble and learned lord has never been excelled—has never perhaps been paralleled. Nothing can equal the forbearance which he has manifested. Nothing can equal the constancy with which he has borne the thwarts that he has lately received on the questions of trade. His patience under such painful circumstances can be rivalled only by the fortitude with which he bears the prolonged distress of the suitors in his own court; but, to apprehend that any defeat would induce him to quit office, is one of the vainest fears-one of the most fantastic apprehensions—that was ever entertained by man. Let him be tried. In his generous mind, expanded as it has been by his long official character, there is no propensity so strong as a love of the service of his country. He is no doubt convinced, that the higher an office, the more unjustifiable it is to abandon it. The more splendid the emoluments of a situation—the more extensive its patronage—the more he is persuaded that it is not allowed to a wise and good man to tear himself from it. I contend, therefore, that the right hon. gentlemen opposite underrate the firmness of their noble and learned colleague. Let them make the experiment; and if they succeed in wrenching power from his gripe, I shall thenceforward estimate them as nothing short of miracle-mongers. His present station the noble and learned lord holds as an estate for life. That is universally admitted. The only question is, whether he is to appoint his successor. By some it is supposed that he has actually appointed him, and I own I have observed several symptoms of such being the case. If it be so, I warn that successor, that he will be exceedingly disappointed if he expects to step into the office a single moment before the decease of its present holder [a laugh]. However, I do intreat, that the perseverance of this eminent person may be put to the test. Let the right hon. gentleman say, he will resign, if the Catholic question is not carried in the cabinet: let the noble and learned lord say, that he will resign if it is carried. I am quite sure of the result. The Catholic question would be carried; but the noble and learned lord would retain his place. He would behave with the fortitude, which has distinguished him in the other instances in which he has been defeated; and the country would 65 not be deprived, for a single hour, of the inestimable benefit of his services [a laugh].
To return, however, to the state of Ireland. Wearied by the disappointment of the expectations which they have year after year indulged; the country experiencing one crisis of distress after another; it is not surprising that the Catholics of Ireland have at length become impatient; and that, out of that impatience has arisen that Association which we are called upon in his majesty's Speech, to put down by strong legislative measures. The Speech talks of "Associations" in the plural. That is not without an object. I warn the House, however, net to be taken in by the contrivance. That little letters, is one of the slyest introductions that Belial ever resorted to, in any of those speeches which are calculated to——make the worse appearThe better reason, to perplex and dashMaturest counsels: for his thoughts are low.I am perfectly aware, Sir, by whom that s was added. I know the handwriting. I know the reflection which passed through the mind of the writer. "I must put the word in the plural. It will then be considered as applicable to Orange as to Catholic Associations, and the adversaries of both will be conciliated." Let not that little letter s, however, deceive a single person. However it may be pretended to hold the balance even between the Catholic and the Orange Associations, depend upon it it will be only a nominal equity. It will be like one of those "subtile equities" so well known in the court over which the noble and learned lord to whom I have been alluding presides. Let the proposed measures be carried, and the Catholic Association will be strongly put down with one hand, while the Orange Association will receive only a gentle tap with the other. That will be the result, if we allow ourselves to be deceived by this apparent equity. I will, therefore, not assent to the proposition, come in what shape it may. Unquestionably, it is to be regretted that the proceedings of any Association in Ireland should be irreconcileable with the constitution, or calculated to create alarm by exciting animosities. For my owe part, I do riot entirely approve the measures of any of the Associations. I never that I remember, approved of all the measures of any public body; especially where religious were mixed up with civil 66 considerations. When the feelings of men are roused, it is not surprising that they should go a step beyond strict propriety. But, making the allowance which it is but just to make under the peculiar circumstances of the case, I take upon myself conscientiously to say, after the most attentive observation and vigilant inspection of all which the Catholic Association have done and said, that I cannot discover a single word or act which justifies the charge conveyed in his majesty's Speech. The language used by the Association has been sneered at by the noble lord who moved the Address. It would be more prudent on the part of the noble lord to endeavour to imitate their eloquence, instead of venting sarcasms upon it. At the same time, the noble lord observed, that he was not disposed to treat the Association with contempt. That the noble lord should not be disposed to treat with contempt the most respectable members of the Catholic church, in Ireland, and through them, a population of six millions of persons, who will now, probably for the first time, hear of the existence of the noble lord, does not surprise me. Surprised I certainly should have been had he said he was disposed to treat them with contempt, especially when I took into the account the noble lord's good sense, moderation, and liberality. To treat such a body of men with contempt, would require a degree of superciliousness greater than even signior Pococurante could boast. Is there any one who can deny that the leading members of the Catholic Association are men of great influence in Ireland? Is there any one who can contradict my assertion, that the Association receives the hearty support of the whole body of the Catholics in Ireland? Sir, I am greatly misinformed—and; I am misinformed by those too who must possess the best means of knowledge—if the Catholic Association in Ireland does not actually and virtually represent the wishes and feelings of almost all the Catholic body in that country. It is true that the whole of the proceedings of that Association may not be approved by every body. The right hon. and learned attorney-general for Ireland thought (I, for one, certainly did not agree with him) that one of the members of that Association, in the warmth of his eloquence, had gone beyond what moderation would have dictated. But when the right hon. and learned gentleman submitted that ob- 67 noxious speech to the consideration of 23 impartial individuals, they differed from him. To that right lion, and learned gentleman the Catholics are, however, indebted for the most inestimable services. If any man in England, or in Ireland, has contributed more than any other to place the Catholics in the condition of power in which they are now placed, he is that man. If not the father of the Association, he has armed them with their present authority. For who, after the venerated Grattan, ever pleaded the cause of the Catholics with half the strength of reasoning and brilliancy of eloquence? There are many who may not approve of all the measures adopted by the Association—of the rent for instance—but who may still be ready to adhere to the Association with their lives. To attack, by act of parliament, an Association thus representing the sentiments, wishes, and feelings of the people of Ireland, would be to attack the people of Ireland themselves. And, how are you to draw the line? How can you put down that body, and not put down, at the same time, hundreds of bodies of similar construction? Subscriptions are raised by other bodies. They are raised by other than Catholics, and for other purposes than to prevent the circulation of the bible. What is to become of the bible societies, the annual contribution of which is, I understand, ninety or a hundred thousand pounds; and which spread their branches all over the realm? These societies have enlisted under their banners many of the leaders of the great sects. They include many dignitaries of the church. At their head is a peer of the realm. One of the most active members of the Auxiliary Bible Societies is a noble lord with whom In his commercial policy I have now so often the honour to act; I mean the earl of Liverpool [a laugh]; not to mention another noble lord (Bexley), who, however we formerly differed on questions of trade, would now, I suppose, be ready to meet me at least half way upon such questions. There are other Associations which ought to be put down on the principle on which it is sought to put down the Catholic Association. Some of them are of a much more pernicious character. How can those individuals attack the Catholic Association who supported an association to which the duke of Wellington was a subscriber—the Bridge-street Association? "Oh, but," they will say, "that Association merely 68 prosecuted the writers of libels; they did not attempt to regain the rights of their countrymen." But, is the latter a less laudable purpose than the former? Are they only to be punished who complain of the grievances they suffer? But, Sir, I mention these things merely to show the extreme difficulty of legislating on the subject. I fear I shall have but too many occasions for being more diffuse respecting it. From the very first to the very last of the proposed proceedings—on the first reading of the projected bill—nay, on the production of the papers on which the motion for leave to bring in the bill will probably be founded, I, for one, will take my stand, and give to it every opposition which a man so indifferently endowed for so great a task as I can make, to what appears to me to be an enormous mischief, bottomed in the grossest injustice, pregnant with the most fatal consequences; and which, in my opinion, must lead, sooner or later, to the severance of the two kingdoms [hear, hear,]. Sir, it would at present be no difficult task to alienate the minds of the people of Ireland from this country. They were taught to look to the British parliament for support; that support has failed them. They were advised to look up to their representatives, but there again they found themselves deceived. There is not in this House any man who more laments the fact than I do; but so it is, that the peace of Ireland is secured by the Catholic Association, and the Catholic Association alone. Ireland is at this moment tranquil. Never were the laws of the land more regularly enforced, more cheerfully obeyed in that country, than they are at present. It is true that some abuses of the administration of the laws are still complained of; yet, such is the luxury of even an approach to an equal distribution of justice amongst these poor people, that they already rejoice and feel comparatively happy. But has this feeling been produced by the government of the country? I deny it; it would be but to cloak the truth to make such an assertion—it has been produced by the exertions of the Catholic Association [hear, hear]. The people of Ireland placed their trust in you. They found themselves disappointed. They threw themselves upon their former friends, those friends who had supported and flattered them at a period when we were surrounded by war and by danger, and they found that the war being over, and the 69 danger subsided, their friends took to office and to power, and deserted them. Having found this, I then ask, Sir, what resource had this body? They discovered that they had no hope from parliament; that they could not trust their friends; at least those leading friends who forsook them for office: what then, I ask, could they do, but throw themselves upon those persons who continued to advocate their cause and support their interests? But, his majesty's ministers complained of this; and why? just because it is their own handy work; a piece of machinery of their own creation, and, therefore, they hate and abuse it. They say, and very naturally, "this is our own work; we may thank ourselves for allowing this Catholic Association, this new power to grow up; but now that it has grown, we dread and would crush it." Let me ask, Sir, how can they do this? It has been well said by Swift, that nothing is more common in society than that men should first render themselves ridiculous by their actions, and then turn round and feel angry because other men laughed at them. And, Sir, there is nothing more unreasonable, and yet more common, than that bad rulers should create mischiefs, and afterwards turn round, and find fault with, and feel enraged at, those who, whilst they complained of the evil, pointed out the remedy. But, what is to be done? They tell us that the government must be kept in motion, while at the same time they vituperate and find fault with some of the members who are connected with it, and the alarm of rebellion is spread abroad. Sir, I mean to cast no reflections on any set of persons. I thank God there never was a period when disaffection was less to be apprehended in Ireland, than at present; and, in my opinion, there is only one way by which those unfortunate disturbances can be rekindled: namely, by taking legal steps to put down the Catholic Association. If, Sir, you introduce such a measure as this; if you turn a deaf ear to the complaints and sufferings of that unhappy country, if, I say, you annihilate that body which your own negligence and misgovernment have allowed to grow up, you will give an additional proof of the impolicy of your measures, and the want of attention to the interests and happiness of Ireland [hear, hear!]. This House, as well as his majesty's ministers must know, Sir, that the system sow complained of, has so grown up in 70 Ireland; they must know the strength which it has attained, and the deep root which it has taken: they may try to put it down by an act of parliament; and they may do so, in twenty-four hours they may do so; but, if they do it, or attempt to do it, then I say they are unworthy of the smallest portion of that praise which they have received, for the removal of even the most trifling restriction, which in their liberal policy, they have removed from our foreign commerce, and for the which no man is more ready to give them credit than myself. I say you may put down the Catholic Association in twenty-four hours, but if you do, it is your own fault. You are conscious of the injuries you have inflicted on that body; you feel that you have denied to it even common justice, and now its ghost haunts you. If however, you really wish to put that body down; if you wish to annihilate it for ever; then, I say, let the Roman Catholics know that you are determined to carry the question of emancipation. Let them know that you are determined, though late, to do them justice, and there is at once an end to the Catholic Association. That you may be so wise, so just, as to do this, instead of waging a harsh and impolitic war against six millions of oppressed subjects is my most sincere wish; would I could say my most sanguine hope. I beg pardon for having trespassed at such length upon the House. I have little more to add, than that I have, upon this occasion, been prevented from taking a more decided course, solely by the reflection, that at this period it would be injudicious, in my view of the question, to take the sense of the House upon it, many of its most sincere and zealous supporters being absent. So convinced, however, was I of the justice of my cause, that I could not refrain from giving this warning, and thus liberating my own mind from the guilty responsibility of an acquiescence in the measures alluded to in his majesty's Speech.
Lord F. L. Gower
, in explanation, disclaimed any thing like an intention to cast ridicule upon any of the gentlemen who were considered orators in the Catholic Association.
§ Mr. Brougham
rejoiced that he had given the noble lord an opportunity of explaining a matter which had been misapprehended both by himself and some friends who sat round him.
The Hon. William Lamb
said, he would not have intruded himself so upon the House were it not for the observation that had been so pointedly directed against him by the hon. and learned gentleman. The cheer to which the hon. and learned gentleman alluded had been drawn from him for no other reason but this, that he thought the hon. and learned gentleman's language somewhat too exaggerated when speaking of the effect that would have been produced in the times preceding those of Charles 2nd if any person dared to talk of scruples in a high quarter. This he had thought tended to weaken the hon. and learned gentleman's argument; and that was his only motive for expressing what he felt, in the usual manner, by a cheer. The hon. and learned gentleman was pleased to observe, that he had tried all parties and opinions. He was not aware on what facts this assertion was founded. As he had never been one of those who despaired of the resources of the country, even when most depressed, so he did not wish to encourage a too sanguine feeling with respect to the extent to which our prosperity was likely to go. In the one case, as in the other, he would recommend moderation, both in aclation and in expectations. With respect to the Catholic Association, he begged to observe, that he conceived a case was likely to be made out against it, sufficiently strong to induce him to vote for its regulation, if not suppression. There were, it was true, other Associations of a nearly similar description, but they differed in this, that they did not interfere in political subjects. If an assembly of persons met, and, under the pretence of seeking redress for particular grievances, proceeded to discuss the whole political affairs of the empire, then he maintained, that such a society was a fit subject for legislative interference. Again, subscriptions for particular public purposes were perfectly legal; but, if he found that the Roman Catholic clergy were actively engaged in collecting what was called Catholic rent, he should say that it was a symptom to be viewed with great alarm. When it was considered, that the Roman Catholic clergy arrogated to themselves the power of absolution—the power of totally for living sins—then he maintained, that their operations ought to be looked to with great caution, and only tolerated hen directed to purposes purely spiritual, notwithstanding these opinions, however, 72 he was now, as he had ever been, the staunch friend of Catholic emancipation. Let the conduct of the Catholic Association be what it might, still he felt that all religious distinctions ought to be removed. Whenever that, question came forward, he should be found its firm supporter; but he could not help observing, that the success of it was in a great degree endangered by the imprudence, if not the violence, of some of its advocates. It should not be forgotten, that there were in this country deep and well-founded objections to that question, and that however time and circumstances might have quieted or removed those prejudices, they ought not to be aroused by any injudicious conduct on the part of those, or the friends of those, who seek for emancipation.
Mr. Secretary Canning
said, he considered the speech of the hon. and learned gentleman opposite as directed rather against errors, supposed or imputed, which were not of so serious a nature as to tempt him to violate the unanimity which at present prevailed. It might be taken in the light of notices for discussion for the future, of the various topics upon which he touched. The hon. and learned gentleman had reviewed the principal topics of the Speech from the throne, visiting some with no very gracious approbation, and treating others with no very sparing reprobation. With respect to one subject—that of Catholic emancipation—professing as he had at all times to support it, he must still reserve to himself the right of judging as to the time the most proper for giving effect to that support; nor could he on any account consent to take his instructions from the hon. and learned gentleman. Upon that part of the Speech from the throne which referred to the Catholic Association, he had no hesitation in expressing his entire accordance with his hon. friend who spoke last—that, so far from the Association being identified with the interests of the Catholic people, its institution, and the conduct of its members, more resembled the scheme of an enemy, who had devised this as the best invention for throwing back and thwarting the further progress of the question of emancipation. It the worst enemy of Catholic emancipation had purposely sat down to devise means to exasperate the people against that measure, he could not have hit upon means more certain—he could not have imagined a plan so successfully mischievous—as the institution and conduct 73 of the Catholic Association. To one argument of the hon. and learned gentleman he would advert, as particularly deserving of an answer, connected as it was with a subject to which he and his colleagues had given their most serious consideration. They had asked themselves, if no steps were taken by the government for that purpose, might not the mischief die away of itself? That, for a time, was his sincere opinion: and he appealed for proofs of it to his conduct during the last session of parliament. Had the hon. and learned gentleman forgotten how ministers were then goaded to bring forward some measure to stifle the restless spirit which was then said to prevail? Had he forgotten the answer then given—that they (the ministers) thought it better to wait until it should die away of itself: and that at all events they declined calling upon the House or any extraordinary expedient until the effect of patience should have been fairly tried? The mode of treating this subject taken by the hon. and learned member was a singular one. To prove that the existence of the Catholic Association was admissible, he ought to have shown that they were a body perfectly harmless—a meeting of a few zealous individuals, who did not in any manner profess to represent the whole people of Ireland—who had no design of assuming the character of a government. On the contrary, the hon. and learned gentleman had exaggerated even beyond their own most gross and exaggerated account. He had told the House that the Catholic Association was the government of the country. "You are indebted," said he, "to the Catholic Association for the peace and tranquillity of Ireland." He remembered correctly the extent of his own prophesies with respect to the fate of Ireland. He forgot entirely, or else overlooked, the administration of the last three years. He left out of view the eminent talents and merits of the marquis Wellesley, in retrieving, by the firm and equal justice of his government, the respect and authority due to the laws. The steps taken by that great man to secure the enjoyment equally for Catholics and Protestants of the sunshine of government and the favours of the Crown, were nothing. It was to nothing of all this, that the comparative tranquillity of Ireland was attributable. No: her repose was the work of the Catholic Association! Most earnestly was it to be wished, that the current of that wise and benevolent admini- 74 stration had been suffered to pursue its course unimpeded, and to have flowed through the land, unmixed with any of these waters of bitterness.Doris amara suam non intcrinisceat undam.Whatever disappointment awaited the greater measure of emancipation must be ascribed to that body. It was well for the Catholics that they had no more consideration in the public mind. He as much confided in the eventual carrying of that measure, as he was convinced of the certainty that it would be opposed, if now brought forward, by this whole country as by one man. It seemed that the Catholic Association was the cause of the peace which prevailed. By what charm had they brought about this object. Whence did they obtain their magical elements of concord? From the pit of Acheron! Their combination was cemented by an adjuration of horror and loathing—"Be peaceable, by the hatred which you bear the Orangemen!" This was the charm by which they worked—These the means by which they proposed to extract peace out of hatred. Good God! was it for reasoning men deliberately to put such a bond of union into writing, and when called upon to explain themselves, deliberately to affirm the deed? To inculcate peace among themselves, through their steadfast hatred of their fellow subjects? Could this be Catholicism? He trusted that it was not. Sure he was it was not Christianity. He protested against any measure which might be brought down to keep the proceedings of that body within the proper limits of the laws and the constitution being treated as a measure directed against the Catholic people of Ireland, or as any device to throw impediments in the way of discussing that great question. Did the hon. and learned gentleman know—did the Catholic Association know—so little of the English people as to suppose that menace and intimidation could avail them? Could they really suppose that these would be as arms in the hands of their advocates? Did they not feel that every sentence of that kind must operate as an injunction to their advocates to hold their peace, till the impression of that violence could be effaced from the minds of the English people? Let no one consider him, therefore, as opposing the just claims of the Catholics. He did them good in every thing which he did towards ridding them of that incubus which now rode them. 75 He made their cause look better by removing all that was unsightly and unbecoming, and advanced it in the estimation of every man who hated to be bullied and brow-beaten. He wished to separate the Catholic Association and the Catholic question: the hon. and learned gentleman wished to confound them.—There were parts of the speech of the hon. and learned gentleman which from being addressed to himself so personally, placed him in a difficult situation, inasmuch as he must either pass by that which obviously meant to apply to him, from affected indifference, or he must detain the House with explanations which referred chiefly to his own conduct. The hon. and learned gentleman had—almost in so many words—asked him "Why do not you, who have felt your power in carrying a particular question against the views of an opposing minister, adhere to the same means" (probably alluding to a supposed alternative of resigning office), "and insist upon carrying the Catholic question also?" He objected to both premises and conclusion. Suppose the premises true, did the hon. and learned gentleman see no difference between the South American and the Catholic question? "What had a minister to fear," asked the hon. and learned gentleman, "with this House, these benches the country, all England, at his back?" To which he would propose another question, "What would a minister do with only these benches, and with no England at his back?" [Cheers.] His answer to the hon. and learned gentleman was, that he must reserve to himself the right of judging how, when, at what period, and in what manner, to give up either his office or his life in support of that or any other cause: he would not consent to have the opportunity chosen for him, especially by one who might happen to have some collateral interest in the event. One assumption of the hon. and learned gentleman's he must positively deny. He assumed the notion of a cabinet divided into two parties, and that a certain member of it who was opposed to him upon the Catholic question, was also opposed to him on that of South America. He was entirely mistaken. He assured the hon. and learned gentleman that the line which was frequently drawn between the supposed liberals and illiberals of the cabinet council was by no means a straight but a serpentine line. As it regarded the Catholic question, it 76 was nearly straight, and direct; but, wherever habit did not arbitrarily prevail, or personal honour was not pledged, the members brought their minds to the discussion totally disengaged. The project of breaking it up and forming a completely new one from the different benches of that House, would be found not quite so easy in practice. No doubt a competent ministry might be selected from the benches opposite; but if the hon. and learned gentleman could have the satisfaction of ousting him, he would not, in all probability, have the satisfaction of succeeding him. All he desired, either of him or the House, was to consider rightly the terms which were objected to in the Address. The king stated in his Speech, that associations existed in Ireland which had adopted proceedings not reconcileable with the laws and the constitution. As those proceedings tended to public mischief, it was recommended to parliament to consider of an adequate remedy. The House of Commons was about to reply by promising that it would do so. What less could the House do, unless they took the description given by the hon. and learned gentleman of the Catholic Association, as a body possessing the whole authority in Ireland, enjoying undivided allegiance, exercising all the powers of government, issuing the only commands which were effectually obeyed, and levying revenues? Unless they were prepared to say, that a power thus formidable ought to exist—that it had a right to sit beside the government, or to tower above it—they could not refuse their assurance to the Crown, that they would take an early opportunity of considering the means of putting down so enormous an evil. Nothing less could be proposed in reply to the Speech, unless they were prepared to say, that the Catholic Association ought to exist in this unlimited authority and plenitude of power.—The hon. and learned gentleman seemed to treat lightly all those measures which the prevalence of a liberal policy had adopted for the advantage of the silk and other trades, and the steps taken towards the recognition of the new South American States. The hon. and learned gentleman was not an unfrequent speaker in that house, and when he did favour them, he was not generally remarkable for being concise; having, in the course of his parliamentary life, proposed and supported almost every species and degree of innova- 77 tion, which could be practised towards the constitution, it was not very easy for ministers to do any thing in the affair of South America, without borrowing, or seeming to borrow, something from the hon. and learned gentleman. Their views might be shut up—by circumstances which they must consult, though he need not—like as among ice in a northern winter. In time the thawing proceeds so that they were able to come out. But, break away in what direction they would, whether they took to the left or right, it was all alike. "Oho!" said the hon. and learned gentleman, "I was there before you—you would not have thought of that, now, if I had not given you a hint." In the reign of queen Anne there was a sage and grave critic of the name of Dennis, who, in his old age, got it into his head, that he wrote all the good plays that were acted at that time. At last, a tragedy came forth with a most imposing storm of hail and thunder. At the first peal, "That's my thunder," said Dennis. So, with the hon. and learned gentleman there was no noise or stir for the good of mankind, in any part of the globe, but he instantly claimed it for his thunder. All the commercial advantages which the country had reaped by the repeal of the duties on silk or cotton, or the reduction of the taxes; in fact, all popular measures whatever, were selected by the hon. and learned gentleman as his peculiar handy work. One thing, he had, however, kindly thrown overboard, which was to be divided between government and his hon. and learned friend the member for Knaresborough, and that was the subject of South America. He wished to hear from the member for Knaresborough to what degree he claimed South America for his thunder. The hon. and learned gentleman was very cautious in his praise. Much had been done to which he could not object; but then, for fear that ministers should feel too proud, he suggested that things might have been better, especially as to time. Now, if he piqued himself upon any thing in the South American negotiations, it was upon the subject of time. As to the propriety of admitting states which had successfully shaken off their dependence on the mother country to the rights of nations, there could be no dispute. There were two ways of proceeding where the case was more questionable—recklessly, and with a hurried course, to the object, 78 which might be soon reached, and almost as soon lost—or by another course, so strictly guarded, that no principle was violated, and no strict offence given to other powers. The three States with which the British government had to deal, were Buenos-Ayres, Colombia, and Mexico. He flattered himself that he could satisfy the House, that no earlier could either of them have been recognised. As to Buenos Ayres, it was undoubtedly true, that the Spanish forces were sent away many years since. Long ago the contest with the mother country had ceased. But his hon. and learned friend knew well, that Buenos Ayres comprised thirteen or fourteen small and separate states, which were not till very lately collected into any federal union. Would it not have been an absurdity to have treated with a power which was incapable of answering for the conduct of the communities of which it was composed? So soon as it was known that a consolidation had taken place, the treaty with Buenos Ayres was signed. Next, as to Colombia. As late as 1822, the last of the Spanish forces were sent away from Porto Cabello, which was, up till that time, held for the king of Spain. It was only since that time that Colombia could have been admitted as a state of separate existence. Some time after that, however, Colombia chose to risk her whole force, and a great part of her treasure, in a distant war with Spain in Peru. Had that enterprise proved disastrous, the expedition would have returned with the troops to re-establish the royal authority. The danger was now at an end. The case of Mexico was still more striking. Not nine months ago, an adventurer who had wielded the sceptre of Mexico left these shores to return thither, and re-possess his abdicated throne. Was that a moment at which this country ought to have interfered to decide, by recognition, the government for Mexico? The failure of the attempt of that adventurer afforded the opportunity for recognition; and, the instant the failure was known, the decision of the British cabinet was taken. Therefore, so far from the time being ill chosen—so far from the measures being tardily adopted—it was not physically or morally possible to have anticipated them, even by a few weeks. Now, with respect to the mode in which this great object has been effected, he was bound to say, whatever fault had been found with it, 79 that it was the best and wisest that could have been, adopted. His noble friend, who had opened this debate so creditably to himself, and who, be would add, had discovered, in his subsequent observations, short as they were, powers to vindicate himself, which proved that he was perfectly able to take a conspicuous part in the deliberations of that assembly, had already touched upon this topic in a very satisfactory manner. Still, however, he felt it necessary to say something further on the subject. The hon. and learned gentleman had said, that there was something mean and paltry in negociating a treaty, as the prelude to recognition. He wished the business to have been concluded in a more summary way. He approved of the act itself in the abstract, but he objected to the mode in which it was effected. Now, to go back to a period of British history which was perfectly well known to all, he would ask what was the conduct of France with respect to the United States of America? The fact was, that the ambassadors of the United States were not admitted to the court of France, until the signature of a treaty. Such was the mode of recognition in that case; and the treaty was quoted to this country as a confession of that act. But, this was not all. France not only acknowledged the independence of the United States before it was recognised by the mother country; she entered into a treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive, with those states; and thus she became the enemy of England, with whom she had previously maintained relations of amity. He wished that those who opposed the course adopted by his majesty's ministers would speak out: he wished they would state explicitly why they objected to the mode in which the recognition was effected. Did they intend to argue, that this measure was imperfect, because it was not accompanied by war? Did they dislike it, because it was not accompanied by military preparation? The task which he had to perform was, to arrive at this great object—an object in unison with the wishes of the country—without giving just cause of war to France of any other power. There might be something mean and huckstering in this mode of proceeding, at least so the hon. and learned gentleman seemed to suppose; but, if he thought that war was not to be had, without some little dexterity (a laugh), he was exceed- 80 ingly mistaken. War lay here and here; it was on the right and on the left of our path; our course lay in the middle: we took that course, and arrived at the object of our solicitude honourably and peaceably. Was this mode of proceeding unsatisfactory, because there did not exist in the archives of his office a single document relative to this question which Spain had not seen, and of which the powers in alliance with this country had not been supplied with copies? Was this transaction deemed unsatisfactory, because Spain was told, that if she would take the precedence, in recognising the independence of the colonies, this country would be content to follow her steps, and to allow to her a priority in the markets of those colonies? Was the arrangement unsatisfactory, because, proceeding alone, England disdained to take any unfair advantages of a friendly state? Was it unsatisfactory, because we saw, that whoever, might follow us in recognizing the independence of those states, would be placed by our side, and would enjoy equal, advantages with ourselves? The hon. and learned gentleman admitted that he approved of the measure, but stated that he disapproved both of the mode and the time. Now, he would say to the hon. and learned gentleman in return, that the credit of the measure might be his, or it might be that of his hon. and learned friend (sir J. Mackintosh); but he (Mr. C.) would claim for himself the merit of that to which the hon. and learned gentleman affixed blame—namely, selecting the time, and devising the mode, in which this object was to be effected. And he trusted, that by this plain conduct, by this temperate—this tardy policy, if they pleased so to call it—the country had got rid of all the dangers which otherwise would have accompanied the recognition. Did they not know—could he attempt to conceal—that by this step England had offended many interests? Had she not called forth many regrets? Had she not excited much anger? Had she not raised up considerable ill-feeling? Had she not created passions of no favourable nature? This was the fact. Still, however, he entertained the most sanguine hopes, that those evil feelings and angry passions would exhale themselves, and subside in mere words, and that the peace of the world would continue to be preserved. Notwithstanding the unsparing blame, which the hon. and learned gentleman 81 had cast on the work which had been just completed, he (Mr. C.) thought that ministers had done their duty, on this point at least; and he was ready to abide the judgment of the House and of the country. He did not think there was in the speech of the hon. and learned gentleman any other topic that called for particular notice. The hon. and learned gentleman had satisfied himself by entering his protest, with respect to the only matter of dispute that was likely to grow out of this Address. He was ready, when the proper time arrived, to meet the hon. and earned gentleman on that subject, feeling perfectly confident, that he should be able to show that the interposition of the legislature was absolutely necessary. There were one or two points which he was not exactly called on to notice, but on which it would, perhaps, be proper that he should say a few words. He alluded more particularly to the treaty with the United States of America relative to the slave-trade. The House would recollect that, at the beginning of the last session of parliament, a proposal was received from the United States of America, to carry into effect a measure for putting an end to the slave-trade, by giving to each power the right of mutual search. The treaty was drawn up by the ministers of the United States; and in the course of the negotiation, some alterations in the treaty were made in it here. By the constitution of the United States, the power of ratification was placed, not in the Executive, but in the Executive and the Senate also. This country, therefore, had no right to complain, when a treaty, regularly negociated and signed by his majesty, was refused by the American authorities, unless alterations were made in it by the United States. But, the singularity of the case was this—that the alteration proposed by the United States had no reference to the alteration introduced by the British Cabinet, but was an alteration of their own original draught of the treaty, by withdrawing the clause granting the reciprocity of search. The right of mutual search on the coast of America was the condition of the original treaty, but this the United States withdrew; the consequence of which, if we consented to it, would be, that the Americans would have the right of search in the West-India seas, while it would be denied to us on the coast of America. As a matter of justice to the West Indies, it 82 was impossible to acquiesce in this proposal; since it would admit, by implication, that the Slave laws were evaded by our colonists, which he denied, and were not evaded by the Americans on their own coast. The course we then took was this—the United States had made an alteration which we could not admit, and we proposed to cancel the first treaty, and had sent out full powers to negociate another treaty, verbatim like the former, with the single exception of the word America. The refusal to ratify such a new treaty on the part of the United States could not stand the test of public discussion. By raising the offence of slave-trading into piracy, we gave a test of our sincerity, which admitted of no contradiction. It seemed to him, therefore, that after a little cool reflection, the Americans would feel that they had no choice but to adopt the course we had recommended. He had much satisfaction in adding; that the whole discussion was carried on without the slightest breach of amity, and with the best personal feelings on the part of the Executive towards this country. He was not aware of any other topic that required explanation. He would abstain from going more into detail until some future period, when detail would be more necessary, and would therefore trouble the House no further.
§ The Address was unanimously agreed to, and a committee appointed to draw it up.