HC Deb 07 September 1831 vol 6 cc1216-8
Colonel Evans

presented a Petition from the Inhabitants of Westminster, complaining of the injury the trade of this country had sustained in its commerce with Germany, in consequence of the war carried on by Russia against the Poles. The petitioners also complained, that there was no accredited person from the British Government, resident at Warsaw, to protect the interests of British subjects; they also complained of the dreadful effects of the war which was going on, in consequence of the alarming disease which was communicated by the invading army. He was fully aware of the difficulty of the subject to which the petition referred; but, notwithstanding, he thought that something might be done to rescue those brave people from the evils which pressed upon them in consequence of the destructive war in which they were engaged. Negotiations had been now carried on for six or seven months, and it was not unreasonable to expect, that the Government of this country could make some disclosures relative to the future prospects of Poland, and the effect of the negotiations to which he had alluded. If there ever was a time when the interference of this country was called for to stop the progress of this calamitous war, it was the present. As the subject, however, would come before the House in a more formal manner, he should not at present enter into any further observations, fearing that it might be inconvenient to press the subject on the attention of the House. He would therefore merely move, that the petition be brought up.

Sir Francis Burdett

said, he had great pleasure in seconding the motion of the hon. and gallant Member: he entirely coincided in the feelings of sympathy expressed by the hon. Member in favour of the gallant Poles. He entertained a firm belief and conviction, that the Government of this country felt deeply interested in the affairs of Poland. And he had no hesitation in expressing his opinion, that this country, in concert with the military power of France, should interfere to preserve the integrity of that unfortunate country. He thought it was high time that something should be done, by remonstrance, and for that purpose the present moment was peculiarly favourable. A reciprocity of feeling had sprung up between this country and France, which had never before existed; they were no longer jealous of each other's power, and could now enter upon a more generous rivalship, in remonstrating against the unjust aggressions of a powerful nation, which sought to oppress Poland, in violation of the treaty of 1815, which guaranteed the constitutional rights of the Poles. He knew it might be incompatible with the interests of this country to take an active part to reinstate the Poles in their rights, and re-establish the independence of Poland; but this he would say, that no cause more just ever called forth the sympathy of nations. All liberal people entertained but one opinion on the merits of this cause; and he thought it was the bounden duty of our Government to secure the execution of those treaties by which the several Governments of Europe were pledged to guarantee a constitution to Poland. Such a course was perfectly consistent with the law of nations. This was a case which excited the sympathy of generous minds; but politicians were said to have no bowels, and politicians were not prone to be sentimental. It could not be expected, that such persons should act from such motives. But there was in this instance a motive which in general had some weight with such men. It was the interest of every country to put an end to this war, and he sincerely hoped, that the subject would excite, as it deserved, the sympathy of Parliament. Of this he was quite certain, that any steps which his Majesty's Ministers might take to afford relief to the suffering Poles, would receive the unanimous approval and support of the country. He felt the warmest sympathy for that people, and hoped they would be rescued from the fangs of Russia.

Mr. O'Connell

said, that it was from no feeling of apathy that silence had so long prevailed in that House upon the cause of the Poles. The despots of Europe found advocates in other cases—in this they had none. There was no voice raised in their favour. All nations were unanimous in reprobating the conduct of Russia. The Press was unanimous on this subject, however it might act on other occasions. In other cases he could only account for the manner in which it had been conducted, by believing that it was bribed. All concurred in one sentiment of sympathy for the sufferings of the Poles, and an anxious wish for the success of their cause. The situation of Ministers was an excuse for their not interfering. The time had, however, now arrived when all Europe should stand forth to secure the constitution to Poland which had been given to it by treaty, if it were only to protect the rest of Europe from the barbarism of her invader.

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