HC Deb 18 April 1832 vol 12 cc636-64
Lord Althorp

moved that the House at its rising do adjourn to May 7th.

Mr. Cutlar Fergusson

said, in pursuance of the notice he had given, he thought that was a proper time for him to bespeak the attention of the House, while he made some few remarks relating to the state of Poland. It was not a subject to which he felt himself peculiarly adapted, as it required knowledge and information which he did not possess, to enable him to discharge the duty he had taken on himself. He could unfeignedly declare that no task he had ever undertaken had pressed more severely on his mind, and on no occasion had he more need of the indulgence of the House. The deep interest which he felt in the fate of unhappy and heroic Poland, had rendered it impossible for him, however inadequate he was to the task, not to lend such aid as he could offer, to bring the subject fairly before Parliament. Since he had given notice of his intentions, some delay had taken place owing to accidental circumstances, which he did not however regret, because it had given an opportunity for two important documents materially bearing upon the question to reach this country, without the aid of which the discussion must have been premature, and therefore incomplete. He alluded to the ukase or manifesto of the Emperor of Russia, and the statute of organization accompanying it, both dated the 26th of February last, by which the political existence and nationality of Poland were attempted to be extinguished. In neither of those documents was there any reference to the Treaty of Vienna. The right of the Emperor to rule over the country was made to rest not upon treaty but upon conquest. The proposition which he was about to submit to the House, and which would be discussed throughout Europe, was, that the Emperor of Russia held the sovereignty of Poland on the terms and conditions on which he received it from the Congress at Vienna, and by no other title, and on no other right. The great question was not merely a Russian or a Polish question, but it was a question common to all Europe, and it was one in which the honour and good faith of every Power, and of none more than Great Britain, were directly involved. If the house would refer to the proceedings that took place at the Congress of Vienna, it would be found, that the late Lord Castlereagh took the initiation, as it were, in the discussion: much to his honour, he made a manly stand for the restoration of the ancient territory and independence of Poland. Had he been supported as he ought to have been, Poland would, probably, have been restored to her ancient independence and rank among the nations of Europe. The House would perhaps bear with him, whilst he referred, not merely to the Treaty of Vienna itself, but to the previous proceedings that took place at the Congress. It was necessary to take a short review of a part of those proceedings, in order to put hon. Gentlemen in possession of the real state of the question, and to show that it was the bounden duty of Great. Britain, in respect of her honour and her plighted faith, to do whatever might depend on her to prevent the threatened extinction of the nationality of Poland. At the Congress of Vienna, Lord Castlereagh, on behalf of England, required that ancient Poland should be restored to her independence and to all her territory. Finding that the object was not to be attained, he declared "that it was Eng- land's wish to see some independent Power (whether more or less in extent) established in Poland under a distinct dynasty of its own, and as a separation between the three great empires of Europe." Russia, as it might be believed, opposed this arrangement as far as respected the distinct dynasty; but the Emperor of Austria, at first, not only opposed the proposition of Russia, that the Duchy of Warsaw should be united to his empire, but touched perhaps with something akin to that feeling of remorse which was said to have haunted the breast of Maria Theresa to her dying day, for the part which she had taken in that flagitious act, the partition of Poland—the Emperor of Austria declared that he should be disposed to sacrifice some of his own possessions for the sake of the entire re-establishment of Poland as an independent kingdom. France was represented at the Congress by that eminent statesman and diplomatist, Prince Talley-rand, who took occasion in a note to Prince Metternich, dated December 19th, to express himself thus:—'Of all the questions to be discussed at this Congress, the King would, undoubtedly, consider the affair of Poland as incomparably the most important to the interests of Europe, if there be any chance (if he could hope as much as he wished) that this nation, so worthy of regard by its antiquity, its valour, its misfortunes, and the services it has formerly rendered to Europe, might be restored to complete independence.' It was, in truth, impossible ever to forget that Christendom was rescued and saved from the yoke of the barbarian, by John Sobieski and his heroic Poles; and without their aid, the Crescent of the Moslem might now be glittering in the church of St. Peter. But, to resume his narrative, it was, after much negotiation and compromise between the parties, agreed that the Duchy of Warsaw should be erected into a kingdom, and that Poland, thus constituted, should exist as a distinct independent state, having the same sovereign as Russia, and to be united to that empire, and bound to it by a constitution of its own. The House would listen, he was sure, with interest, to the words of Lord Castlereagh on that subject, in a note addressed by him to the committee for Polish and Saxon affairs, dated the 12th of January, 1813:—'Experience has shown, that the happiness of Poland and the tranquillity of this important portion of Europe, cannot be secured by thwarting the national customs and habits. An attempt of this kind would only excite amongst the Poles a spirit of disaffection and degradation; it would occasion revolts, and awaken the remembrance of past misfortunes.' His Lordship then went on to entreat the sovereigns not to leave Vienna till they had agreed that the Poles, under whatever government they might be placed, should still be treated as Poles; and added, if that was effected, there would no longer be any fear of danger to the liberty of Europe from the union of Poland with the Russian empire, already so powerful—a danger which would not be imaginary, if the military force of the two countries should ever be united under the command of an ambitious and warlike monarch. On the 19th of January, the Russian plenipotentiary (Count Rasoumofski) replied, "that the just and liberal principles which the note contained, was received by his imperial majesty with the most cordial approbation, and that he had been delighted to recognise the generous sentiments which characterise the British nation, and the enlarged and enlightened views of its Government." Prince Hardenberg, on the part of Prussia, on the 20th of January, declared, "that the principles laid down by Lord Castlereagh, as to the method of governing the Polish provinces, were in perfect conformity with the sentiments of his Prussian Majesty on the subject." The Emperor of Austria, on the 21st of February, by his plenipotentiary, gave in a declaration to this effect, "That his conduct in the important negotiation, which had just determined the fate of the Duchy of Warsaw, could have left no doubt on the minds of the Allied Powers, that the re-establishment of Poland, as an independent state, with a national administration of its own, would have fully accomplished the wishes of his imperial majesty, and he would even have been willing to make the greatest sacrifice to obtain the restoration of that ancient and beneficial arrangement. The emperor having, in the course of the present negotiation, sacrificed his wishes, as to the restoration of Poland, to the important considerations which have induced the other Powers to sanction the union of the larger part of the Duchy of Russia with the Russian empire, his imperial majesty concurs, nevertheless, with the Emperor Alexander, in his liberal views, and approves of the national institutions which it is the intention of that monarch to grant to the Polish nation." And again, "Russia has declared that the best security for the repose and the vigour of nations, consists in the happiness of the people, and that this happiness is inseparable from the righteous care of the rulers over the nationality and customs of their subjects. The emperor is of opinion that he cannot better express the conformity of his own intentions, in the present instance, with the maxim laid down, than by directing the plenipotentiary to declare, that he entirely concurs with the sentiments expressed by Lord Castlereagh, in the memorial of the wishes of his court, as to the future lot of the Poles, and with the reply made on the 19th of January last, by the Emperor of Russia to that declaration." Would it, after this, be said, that the rights of this prince over Poland rested, not on treaty, but on conquest? What, then, were the rights of Poland as resting upon treaty? By positive stipulation, a constitution was guaranteed to that country; that constitution was formally given to it; and Russia could not destroy it, without committing an infraction of the treaty, and without forfeiting her faith, both to her own subjects and to the powers of Europe, parties of the treaty. He did not intend to detain the House by going into the two preliminary treaties between Russia and Austria, and Russia and Prussia, but would call its attention to the general act of the Congress of Vienna, which, after the preamble, run thus:—"Wishing now to comprise, in a single act, the results of their various negotiations, in order that they may receive the ratification of all, the contracting parties have authorised their plenipotentiaries to condense into one general act all arrangements of primary and permanent importance:" and this act was signed by no less than three persons on the part of Great Britain,—"Clancarty, Cathcart, Stewart, L.G." The first article was this:—"The Duchy of Warsaw (with exceptions afterwards mentioned) is united to Russia; it shall be irrevocably bound to the Russian empire by its constitution, to be enjoyed by his majesty the Emperor of all the Russias, his heirs and successors for ever. His imperial majesty reserves to himself the power of giving to that state, possessed of a distinct administration, the territorial extension which he shall deem fit. He will take with his other titles, that of Czar, King of Poland, according to the customary formula for his other possessions." There was then a provision for giving to the Polish subjects of Russia, Austria, and Prussia, a representation and national institution, but with which he would not trouble the House. At the period of the Treaty of Vienna, and for some short time after, the Emperor Alexander he believed was sincere in his intention of securing liberty to Poland; for, shortly afterwards, he promulgated the constitution of Poland, which certainly contained the foundation of as free a government as was to be found in any country in the world. It was in November, 1815, that the charter was given to Poland, and he would state to the House the terms in which the emperor expressed himself in a letter to Count Ostrouski, the President of the senate, on the 30th of April, 1815, which was just before the time when the Treaty of Vienna was to be signed:—'It is with peculiar satisfaction that I announce to you that the destiny of your country is about to be fixed by the concurrence of all the Powers assembled at the Congress of Vienna. The kingdom of Poland shall be united to the empire of Russia, by the title of its own constitution, on which I am desirous of founding the happiness of the country. If the great interests involved in general tranquillity, have not permitted all the Poles to be united under one sceptre, I have at least endeavoured, to the utmost of my power, to soften the hardships of the separation, and every-where to obtain for them, as far as practicable, the enjoyment of their nationality.' At the time that the Emperor Alexander made use of these words, he was no doubt sincere in his intentions; but, very shortly after, he was induced, by the pernicious counsels of others, to adopt that course which his own heart condemned. Above all things, it was unfortunate for Poland, that there should have been sent to govern it a prince whose capricious and cruel acts were the main cause of the dreadful calamities which had lately befallen that unhappy land. There were no insults that Constantine did not offer to the inhabitants of Warsaw—there was no affront that he did not put upon the ancient nobility of the devoted nation—there was no breach of the Constitution that he did not commit—in short, such was his conduct, that he left no alternative to the Poles but that to which they at length resorted; for so far did he carry his acts of cruelty, oppression, and tyranny, that human endurance could bear it no longer, and the people rose in resistance. It was this brutal prince who continued to pursue his atrocious conduct till he left nothing for unfortunate Poland to do but that which her citizens afterwards did, not through the result of a regularly organized conspiracy of a few, but by a strong feeling of public indignation at the wrongs they had suffered, and the impossibility of longer submitting to a course of conduct so wantonly outrageous. The Grand Duke Constantine it was, who laid a train which one accidental spark ignited, and the flames of revolt enwrapped the whole kingdom of Poland. The Emperor of Russia gave to Poland a Constitution; which, having given, he could not take away without sufficient cause. The Emperor bound himself to maintain and preserve that Constitution, and the Poles swore allegiance, not to the Emperor alone, but to the Emperor and the Constitution. By that Constitution liberty of person was guaranteed—so was the liberty of the Press—the Diet was to be frequently convoked—the right of granting supplies was vested in the people—the nationality of Poland was to be preserved, and no Russians were to be placed in office—no Russian army was to be quartered in Poland, nor was any Russian army even to pass through the country without the whole expense being borne by Russia. Now, there was not one article of this compact that had not been grossly violated. The Polish Constitution was even more tender of personal liberty than that of England; for, by its provisions, if any man was apprehended for any cause whatever, he must, within three days, be brought before the regular authorities—must know his accusation and his accuser—and if there was not sufficient ground to detain him, he must be discharged. The independence of the Judges was also provided for; but all these provisions of the Constitution were shamefully trampled on by the Grand Duke, who confined within the fortresses, by his own authority alone, the most illustrious Poles, without ever bringing them before the Judges, or taking any legal proceedings whatever against them. Without the form of trial, he condemned the inhabitants of Warsaw, and degraded many of the highest of them to the office of cleaning away the dirt in the streets. As to the liberty of the Press, it did not exist for a single day. It was in every instance violated, and was made subject to restrictions wholly inconsistent with, and subversive of, its freedom. The rights of the people of Poland were disregarded, and the privileges of the Diet were constantly sacrificed. By the charter, a Diet was to be held at least once in two years—five years passed without any being assembled. The budget was to be submitted to the Diet once in four years—during fifteen years no budget was ever submitted to, deliberated upon, or voted by, that assembly; but everything relating to the subject was done arbitrarily and by royal decrees. According to the letter and spirit of the Constitution, it was clearly intended that the Russian troops were only to be admitted in particular cases, and in such cases they were to be supported by Russia; notwithstanding which, 10,000 Russian troops were permanently quartered at Warsaw, at the expense chiefly of the inhabitants, whilst they served to support the encroachments on Polish liberty. Again, the people had a right to attend the discussions in the two Chambers, for one of the articles specially stipulated that all the proceedings should be public; but, notwithstanding this, the doors were ordered to be closed, and the publicity of the debates suppressed by an ordinance of the Emperor. He was not one of those who estimated the importance of publicity at a low rate; he was convinced that, if the public were excluded from having cognizance of the debates in that House, the Constitution of England would not exist for twelvemonths; on that account he condemned most strongly this arbitrary proceeding on the part of the Emperor. The liberty of the subject, too, was constantly violated, and persons of all classes were imprisoned without any legal forms being observed. Members of the Diet were seized and imprisoned in consequence of the expression of their opinions in that capacity. One of them was condemned to perpetual imprisonment by a Commission nominated by the Grand Duke. Another, that distinguished man Vincent Niemoiewski, was confined to his own estate, for having expressed, in the Diet, opinions which were not contrary to the constitutional state of things as established by the Charter. In every important article, therefore, the Constitution had been grossly infringed, and by that infringement the insurrection was occasioned. He said, then, that, in the eyes of every nation in Europe, the Polish insurrection was fully justified. But, if it had been otherwise, he would contend that, when the insurrection was put down by force of arms, the Constitution still remained. The Government was not justified by the law of nations in taking away the Constitution. The actors in the insurrection had exposed themselves to punishment; but the nation and the Constitution were in the same position as before. He challenged any one conversant with the law of nations to maintain that an unsuccessful insurrection could justify the punishment of a whole nation. The Russians, however, had deprived four millions of Poles of their Constitution, and had punished a whole nation for the acts of a few men. Was this the conduct pursued by England towards Ireland after the Rebellion of 1798? Ireland was in nearly a similar position to us as Poland to Russia; there was the same ground to sweep away and destroy the Parliament of Ireland as there was to abrogate the Constitution of Poland. When that rebellion, however, was put down, the law and the Constitution were not changed—such, also, was the conduct of this country in the two rebellions in Scotland. The rights of the Irish nation were not forfeited by the Rebellion of 1798, nor were the rights of Scotland affected by what was done in support of the Pretender in 1745. Yet, his was more than a common insurrection—that Prince having the affections of a large portion of the Scottish nation, and having been proclaimed King in the capital of Scotland; he opposed and defeated the King's troops, and marched into the heart of this kingdom, and the King shook on his throne; yet, when that insurrection was put down, though the chief actors in it were punished, Scotland herself was not held to have forfeited her national rights. It did not appear to him that there was a difference between an insurrection in one country or another. He asserted, then, that, even if there was nothing to justify the conduct of the Poles in this insurrection, there was nothing to justify the stripping the nation of its rights. The Constitution was guaranteed by those who signed the Treaty of Vienna. In the letter already referred to, dated April, 1815, and directed to Count Ostrouski, the President of the Senate, the Emperor Alexander promised that, although the kingdom of Poland was to be united to the empire of Russia, it was to be so united by the title of its own Constitution, on which he said he was desirous of founding the happiness of the country. Again, in a proclamation, dated May, 1815, Alexander promised to give the Poles 'A Constitution adapted to your wants and localities, and your character; the use of your language preserved in public acts; public functions, and employments conferred on Poles only; liberty of commerce and navigation, the facility of communication with the parts of ancient Poland which remain under another power; your national army; all means guaranteed for improving your laws; the free circulation of knowledge in your country: such are the advantages which you will enjoy under our dominion and that of our successors, and which you will transmit as a patriotic inheritance to your descendants.' None of these promises had been observed—what, then, was to be done? There was not one power a party to the Treaty of Vienna but was bound, including France and England, to protect the Poles. He knew that such a feeling existed in the breasts of the French people, whatever might be the opinion of other nations. The declaration, also, of the French Government should be recollected. He was prepared to contend, that that Government could not, after its conduct, permit Poland to be blotted from the nations of Europe. This country was called upon, equally with France, to see that the stipulations of the Treaty of Vienna were fulfilled. Had, however, anything been done? He did not call upon the Government to go to war with Russia; but there was much that might be done. With regard to the performance of the stipulations in a treaty by a rigorous remonstrance, much might be done by measures short of resorting to war. It was by a measure of this sort that the triumphant course of the Russians was stopped in their march to Constantinople. He trusted that England and France would join in remonstrance on this occasion, and that they would act in union for the preservation of the liberties of Europe. Nothing was more alarming in the state of Europe than the great increase and concentration of the power of Russia. At the period of the Treaty of Vienna, the power of Russia was much less than it was now. That Power had made immense strides on the side of Turkey and Persia, and now, by the destruction of Poland and the annexation of that kingdom to the empire of Russia, had prepared for an increase of her power on the western frontier. Unless care was taken in time, the Western States of Europe would have everything to fear from the aggrandizement of Russia, and in such a case we should have only to trust to her moderation. He remembered the time when the encroachments of Russia were looked upon with alarm. He recollected the armament that was prepared, in consequence of the taking of Oczacow—a place now, and even then, of the most trifling importance. If there was one circumstance more formidable than another in the present aspect of affairs, it was the species of terror which seemed to pervade the powers of Europe with respect to the strength of Russia, and the fact, that while they appeared to dread a war with Russia, that power, on all occasions, declared its readiness to go to war; and that readiness it would always manifest, unless it was one day taught that that course of dealing with the civilized powers must no longer continue without interruption. He was convinced that the views of Russia never would be moderated, until a different policy was pursued. Nothing was so calculated to sacrifice the interests of England, and of the Continent, as yielding to a fear of the power of Russia. He did not say that we had yet arrived at that point; but we were fast verging to it, but he hoped we were not yet, got so far that Poland was to be allowed to perish under the influence of that terror. What did the King of the French express in his speech of the 23rd of July, 1830, on this subject? Let the House recollect the remarkable words that were then used—that the nationality of Poland shall not perish! But, if this manifesto of Russia was allowed to be enforced, it had perished already, contrary to his hopes and that declaration. At present, according to the dictum of the autocrat, the Poles—of whom it might be said, as of one of Napoleon's great captains, that, as a nation they were brave among the brave—were no longer to have an existence as a nation. Whatever might have been the conduct of the different governments, there was no feeling in the human heart throughout Europe that was not awakened in favour of that unfortu- nate and gallant people. They had with them the sympathy of all men—they deserved the use of power for their preservation. In the Speech of the king of France I find the memorable words: 'Une lutte sanglante et acharnée se prolonge en Pologne. Cette lutte entretient de vives émotions au sein de I'Europe. Je me suis pressé d'en hâter le terme. Après avoir offert ma médiation, j'ai provoqué celle des grandes Puissances; j'ai tenté arrêter I'effusion du sang; préserver le midi de I'Europe du fléau de la contagion que la guerre propage, et surtout assurer à la Pologne, dont le courage a reveillé les vieilles affections de la France, cette nationalité qui résiste au tems et à ses vicissitudes.' Such was the language used by Louis Phillippe. The Polish nation relied on the promises then given, for they recollected that their best blood had been liberally poured out in fighting the battles of France. It was only the selfish policy of Napoleon, in whose service they had performed prodigies of valour, that prevented their becoming an independent state, and in obtaining that rank among the nations of Europe to which they were entitled. Napoleon gave them a Grand Duke who was a Saxon: he ought to have given them a king, who was a Pole. Those brave and unfortunate men, who left their homes to fight his battles, were faithful to him, notwithstanding, to the last, and they perished in his cause on the banks of the Beresina. The language of the king of France, to which he had alluded, was re-echoed by the Chamber of Deputies, on the address presented in answer to the speech from the throne. He said, "In the touching language of your majesty respecting the independence of Poland, the Chamber of Deputies rejoices to hear the assurance which is dear to it, that the nationality of Poland shall not perish." He was sure every liberal-minded man in Europe rejoiced at that declaration. The Chamber of Deputies from that hour was pledged to the nationality of Poland. He had reason to know that there was an intense feeling in France in favour of Poland, and the people of France were almost as anxious for the independence of that nation as they were for their own. It had been stated, that, an intimation was given to the Polish generals that if they delayed attacking the Russian army for two months, their security should be guaranteed. The Polish general did delay —that fatal delay—and Poland was ruined. Poland was subdued, it had been said, not by the arms of Russia, but by the promises of other powers. England, he hoped and believed, had not this delusion to answer for. France had been directly charged with it, but whether justly or not she had given pledges in favour of the cause of Poland, which it would be disgraceful in her not to redeem. Her king, her ministers, the legislature in both its branches, were pledged to the nationality of Poland. Nay, her ministers had pledged themselves further, they had pledged themselves to the recognition of Polish nationality by Russia herself. It would be recollected that General Sebastiani, the Secretary for foreign affairs in France, on the 19th of September last, stated to the Chamber of Deputies, that the French government, after the battle of Ostralimked, found at St. Petersburg a Cabinet irritated against Poland, but that it made Russia to understand that there were two questions—one domestic and personal to Russia, and the other European—that the French government added, that the stipulations at the Congress of Vienna had created a kingdom, and that that kingdom of European creation, ought to continue to exist. The French foreign secretary then went on to state that explanations had been demanded—that they were clear and precise—that, assurances of the conservation of Poland had been given to all the great Powers, for that all of them had united themselves to France. He added, that the assurance expressed to the Chamber—that the nationality of Poland, of that heroic people, would be preserved to them—was founded on the formal and reiterated promises of the emperor of Russia to that effect. He would now allude to the language of M. Casimir Perier—that powerful and able minister, who seemed to have that decision and energy of character which were suited to the times, and who appeared also to have in view the true interests of his country, and in nothing more than in cultivating, as he did, a good understanding with England. That minister, on the 7th of March, 1832, made a speech in the Chamber of Deputies, in which he declared, that Poland had not lost the rights she had acquired by treaties, yet, upon the 26th of the preceding February, the manifesto to which he was now directing the attention of the House was issued. There could not have been sufficient time between the 26th of February and the 7th of March for this document to reach the French capital. When it reached the hands of the minister, it must have occasioned to him no small surprise, and perhaps embarrassment, after the assurances which the French government had received and given, that the nationality of Poland should be preserved. The president of the council, in the speech to which I am now referring, says—'One political question only arises out of these events—that of the nullity of Polland: it is the question of the maintenance of treaties; and France does not abandon her on those points more than she has disavowed her upon others. By the result of these events, Poland is still subject to a provisional regíme, but she has not lost the rights which she holds under treaties. These rights are not contended by the Court of Russia, and already Europe has the assurance that the basis laid by the treaty will be respected.' This was at once a proof that guarantees had been given to France on the subject. This was a distinct declaration of the prime minister of France, that the independence of Poland was to be preserved; but at the time he made his speech, the manifesto was in existence, and by it the rights which had been secured to Poland by treaties were to be destroyed, and the nationality and independence of that kingdom to be for ever extinguished. By the manifesto of the emperor, it was stated that, by the statute of organization a new form and order of things was to be introduced into Poland, which was for ever to form an integral part of the kingdom of Poland, or become a Russian province—the king of Poland is to be crowned at Moscow—the making of laws and the raising of taxes is definitively to rest with the Council of State of Russia—every bulwark of Polish liberty and independence is overthrown. The Polish Diets, instead of being the free legislative assemblies of that country, were to be no more than so many county meetings of the chief men of the district—not to examine and redress evils, and to make the laws that are to govern their country, but merely to report to the Russian authorities the state of Poland. By this manifesto, too, Poland was no longer to have a national army. Before the Poles would have consented to such a condition, they would have shed the last drop of their blood. But they were now powerless, and this condition was imposed upon them. The emperor promised to his Polish subjects, by his manifesto, personal liberty and freedom of worship, but where was the security for either? The Roman Catholic religion was, indeed, placed, by the statute of organization under the special protection of government. What protection the religion of Poland, the Roman Catholic, was to expect, might be collected from the contents of an ukase, dated so late as the 5th of November last, and which was as follows:—'Having learnt, from the Eparch Paul, bishop of Meastan, that the Lieutenant Kolinski has built, in his district, a Roman Catholic church which may become prejudicial to the believers of our holy Greek religion—having been informed that several Roman Catholic churches and chapels have been built in the province of Padolia, which is contrary to the Ukase of the 19th of October, 1831—we ordain that, henceforward, the ecclesiastical authority shall not name any more curates for the churches, or permit any priest, not domiciliated in those places to perform divine service; and, as it has come to our knowledge that the funds that have been appropriated to the keeping up of the church of Kretinia had been registered in the books of the same districts, we enjoin that the same be struck off, and that no act of the kind be in future admitted in the register. A single Catholic priest ought to visit, from time to time, all those churches, and to celebrate divine service, particularly in the time of Lent. The same regulation extends to the Roman Catholic church, Maskowsa, built by the Lieutenant Maskowsa, as to all others which may be discovered.' Such was the regard of the emperor Nicholas for religious liberty—such was the special protection afforded by him to the Roman Catholic religion—the national religion of his Polish subjects. Much had been said of the moderation and clemency of the emperor Nicholas. He wished he could doubt the authenticity of a document, to which he was now about to call the attention of the House. Its authenticity, however, could not, he feared, be questioned. It was the copy of a letter printed in the Courier de Wilne, of the 3rd of December, 1831, and professing to be from his Majesty, the emperor of all the Russias, to the governor general of Wilna. That Sovereign writes to this officer as follows:—'It is with great pain that I learn, from the report of the chief of my staff, that the tranquillity of the government committed to your care is still troubled by the excursions of the banditti, the remains of the rebel armies, who, concealing themselves in the forest, and infesting the high roads, commit all sorts of crimes. In approving of the energetic measures which you have taken to exterminate them, particularly your proclamation to the inhabitants of the government, in which you give them notice of the most severe punishments to which every person would expose himself by affording them an asylum; in everything I authorize you to act against those brigands as if, for a second time, they had become guilty of a revolt, wishing, by prompt and severe measures, to prevent others from joining the guilty. We order you not to be stopped by the formalities of the criminal law, but to proceed against them according to the rules of courts-martial; and if you should find that their execution is stopped by the forms of the tribunals, and if, in your opinion, you find them guilty, you will make them forthwith suffer the pain of death in the place where they shall have been arrested, or on the spot where the crime shall have been committed.' He would not attempt, for it was unnecessary, to excite the indignation of the House, at this dreadful death-warrant issued by a sovereign of Europe against his subjects. Whilst the mildness and mercy of the emperor Nicholas were the theme of some persons' praise, he had transported his Polish subjects by thousands from their own country to the barren wilds of Siberia. Poles of the highest rank and character were consigned to the Russian prisons, to pass the remainder of their lives in the most abject state of misery. The brave soldiers of Poland, and the high and patriotic nobles of that land were treated in the most degrading manner. Their children were sent to the military colonies, where they were to be brought up and educated with the serfs of Russia. Numbers of the Polish soldiers—some even of the officers of the Polish army, had been marched on foot with their heads shaven to Tobolsk and Irkubol. This was to be the punishment of all who took part in the war. The engagements that were entered into with these unhappy men had been violated, and they were hurried away by thousands to Siberia, instead of being allowed to return to their houses. He willingly turned away from the heart-rending subject, and would now put it to the Government of the country, whether something might not still be done for Poland? He contended that England, as well as France was called upon to interfere, and that it was not yet too late; and they would be justified in interfering by the conduct of Russia itself. Greece had been in the possession of the Turks for 300 years, when Russia united with France and England to secure the independence of insurgent Greece. Again the possession of Belgium was guaranteed to the king of Holland, yet with the other powers of Europe we interfered, and Belgium was declared independent of Holland. In the first instance, the powers of Europe interfered without the obligation of any treaty; and, in the second, against the obligation of a treaty. Was Poland, then, which had justice and the obligation of the most solemn treaty in her favour, to be treated on a different principle. Nothing could prevent the other governments of Europe from interfering, if it was not the dread of the power of Russia; and he would say, that unless some check was imposed to the grasping ambition of Russia, she would go on adding to her empire, for which purpose she never neglected any opportunity nor lacked a pretext, and would soon make the nations of Europe feel, that, in neglecting to check her, they had neglected the means of securing their own safety. The whole policy of Russia, for the last fifty or eighty years, had been her own aggrandizement, and this had been steadily and successfully pursued. Her policy had been that of the Roman empire, and her ambition, like that of the Romans, knew no bounds. Russia, above all powers that now existed should be an object of watchful jealousy. He admitted that this country was much indebted to his Majesty's Government for the exertions they had used to preserve peace, and he was sure in what he had now said, he had not urged them to abandon a policy, which they had hitherto conducted so successfully. In spite of difficulties they had preserved peace, which was of great consequence. At the same time, he trusted they would never suffer the national honour to be tarnished. The manifesto, the act of the emperor of Russia, was in direct opposition to the stipulation of a treaty, to which Great Britain was a party, and to the observance of which her faith was pledged. Not to feel for the treatment of Poland by Russia, a man must be lost to every sense of honour and justice, and be utterly indifferent to the welfare of his fellow men. Her truest and best citizens had been sacrificed, the most solemn compacts violated, thousands of her people had been sent to perish in the wilds of Siberia, and Poland would cease to exist unless the powers of Europe interfered at once in her behalf. He believed a feeling in favour of that country pervaded all ranks and classes of men, and he trusted the Government would see the necessity of uniting with the other European Powers to rescue that unhappy nation from the iron grasp of its oppressors. He would conclude by calling the attention of the House and the Government to the fate of these illustrious men, the flower of the nobility of Poland, many of whom would perish in dungeons, and others were wandering as exiles over the face of the earth, some of them had been in the councils of the emperor Alexander, and had advised him faithfully. Would to God he had profited by their sentiments, it would have been much better for Poland, for Russia, and the world. He had now only to thank the House for the indulgence with which it had listened to him. He would not move an amendment on the Motion of the noble Lord, but would, by a separate motion hereafter ask for the production of a copy of the manifesto of the emperor Nicholas of the 26th of January, and of the statute of organization to which it referred.

Lord Althorp

said, before he made any remarks on the subject of his hon. friend's address, he must apologize for the absence of his noble friend, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who was unavoidably kept away by very important business; it, therefore, devolved upon him to say the few words that might be expected to come from some Member of his Majesty's Government upon an occasion such as that, when a most important subject had been brought under the notice of the House with so much ability by his hon. friend. They had as yet received no official information of the occurrences which had recently taken place in Poland; and, for that, as well as for other reasons, it was not to be expected that he should at that moment enter into any explanation relating to the views entertained by his Majesty's Government with respect to this most inter- esting and important question; and he, therefore, hoped that the House would excuse his entering into any details whatever. At the same time it was impossible for him even to touch upon such a subject without expressing the profound sympathy which the sufferings of the unhappy Poles must excite in the breast of every man of common humanity; in that sympathy he trusted the House would do his colleagues and himself the justice to believe that they fully participated. Beyond that it was impossible for him at the present moment to go, unless he were merely allowed to observe, that the Government of this country had at no time held out any encouragement whatever, tending to incite the Polish nation to the late contest, which ended so fatally for their interests. He regretted that it was not in his power to say more upon the subject, that a sense of duty compelled him to be silent; but he hoped that the brevity of his remarks would not be construed into any indifference to the condition of Poland.

Sir George Warrender

was anxious to record his opinion upon this interesting and important question: he fully agreed with the remarks made by his hon. and learned friend, and with the sympathy he expressed for the state to which Poland was reduced. He had the happiness of knowing some of the illustrious men who were now exiles from their native country; and he believed more enlightened patriots or more disinterested persons, did not exist; but the question went far beyond any influence of private feeling; it was most intimately connected with the best interests of every independent state in Europe. However anxious he was, still to preserve peace, he trusted there was yet so much feeling in the House of Commons as to echo the general sentiments of the country, which was so loudly expressed in behalf of the oppressed Poles, so as to induce the Government to make the strongest remonstrances in behalf of that nation, connected as we were with their cause, from having become a party to the treaties which guaranteed the independence of' Poland, we could not abandon them, or suffer the conditions of the treaty to be evaded, if we had any regard to the maintenance of the national honour.

Mr. Labouchere

said, it was impossible for any man, possessed of the common feelings of humanity, not to be indignant at the shameless and arrogant conduct of Russia with regard to Poland. The treatment that oppressed country had sustained at the hands of the Russian autocrat, besides its cruelty, was the most alarming circumstance which had occurred since the Treaty of Vienna to disturb the peace of Europe, as it had a manifest tendency to extend the already overgrown power of Russia. If the sovereign of that country, merely by a stroke of his pen, could erase Poland from the list of independent nations, he would not stop there with his aggressions, and Poland would only form the basis for more extended operations. It, therefore, became the duty of every other state to check his career, by the most urgent remonstrances, at least, and upon no occasion could they have a better cause, or a more favourable opportunity, for an universal sympathy prevailed throughout Europe for the fate of Poland; and it was impossible those feelings could be allayed until this most unjust and violent act had been repaired. There could be no doubt that Russia had become a party to the restoration of independence to Poland by the Treaty of Vienna; but, if any further proof of that fact was wanted, it would be found in the following speech of the Emperor Alexander, to the Polish diet, in 1818. He said, "Your restoration is defended by solemn treaties; it is sanctioned by the constitutional charter. The immutability of these external engagements, and of the fundamental law, assures henceforward to Poland an honourable rank among the nations of Europe." He felt that it was dangerous to speak of the perfidy of sovereigns, but he could not forget, that the Emperor of Russia, engaged by oath to maintain the constitution of Poland, and his hon. friend had clearly shewn that every article of the constitution had been broken. There was one point in particular in which the nationality of the Poles was infringed, and upon which they felt extremely sensitive. According to one of the articles of the constitution, no Russian soldiers were to be in the country, unless with the consent of the Diet. Notwithstanding this, however, not less than 10,000 soldiers, were garrisoned at Warsaw, and Russian officers were appointed to every place of trust in the kingdom. The liberty of the Press, which was guaranteed, was most shamefully violated, and the most strict censorship was instituted. Personal liberty was constantly sacrificed, and persons were committed to prison, or sent to the distant provinces of Russia, from whence they never could return, on the most trifling pretences. Indeed, the insults the Poles had to put up with were of such a description that human nature could not bear them. They were goaded to resistance, and he only regretted, from the result, that the Poles had somewhat prematurely made the attempt to free themselves from the yoke of the despot. He would conclude by expressing his satisfaction at the few words which fell from his noble friend, and to express his hope that Government would not lose sight of this subject; until redress was obtained for Poland, there could be no security for the preservation of the peace of Europe.

Dr. Lushington

said, his hon. and learned friend, who had brought the question forward, had put it in such a clear light, that little remained for others to do than to express their hearty concurrence in the observations made by him. He felt it, however, necessary to allude to one or two of the topics touched upon by his hon. and learned friend, with a view to urge them more closely upon the attention of the House. In his opinion, it was of the utmost importance that the British Government should never interfere with the affairs of foreign nations, unless they were clearly justified by the law of nations, and bound by treaties. The present was certainly a case in which both were bound by treaty, and justified by the laws of nations to interfere, at least, so far as to make it absolutely necessary for the British Government to make a solemn protest against the conduct of Russia. He was sure no man could regard the recent conduct of the sovereign of Russia towards Poland, without entertaining feelings of abhorrence at his cruelty. By the Treaty of Vienna, the independence of Poland was guaranteed, and Great Britain had a right to interfere, as she was a party to the pacification of Europe in 1815. Russia was bound to adhere to the treaty which guaranteed the independence of Poland; but what had been her conduct? Every article of the constitution of that country had been violated and destroyed, at the caprice of an arbitrary and furious despot, and the most patriotic men had been subjected to the most violent and tyrannical punishments, in violation of all law. The nation was exasperated; it was impossible for human nature to bear such treatment, and they endeavoured to throw off the chains which bound them. The people took up arms against the oppressor; and, from the patriotism and courage they displayed, he regretted with no better success, for they were fully entitled to rank among free and independent states. Their exertions to achieve independence surpassed all praise; and their patriotism—that virtue which excelled all others, and which, as Cicero says, "Quo omnes omnium caritates patria una complexaest"—had not been excelled at any time by any people. They were prepared to sacrifice all for their country, and it was only through treachery that they did not succeed in their attempt. He said, that, both by the law of God, and the law of nations, they were justified in their insurrection—would to God they had been successful! Although we might acquiesce in the result, we were bound to soften the bitterness of their sufferings. Under these circumstances the Government was justified in calling upon Russia to desist from the present course of her policy. It ought to say, "You must not make an increase to your territory in consequence of conduct which you occasioned. You must not make your own crimes a pretence for your own aggrandizement. We call upon you to fulfil the Treaty of Vienna; we call upon you to perform those engagements you entered into with us; we call upon you to act in accordance with every principle of the law of nations; we call upon you, in the name of justice and honour, not to sacrifice those solemn pledges you gave to the people of Poland. This is not merely a case of humanity, but a due regard for the national honour compels us to interfere." He saw no reason why the nations of Europe should not unite in the strongest remonstrances on this breach of faith. And, above all, he thought that France and Great Britain should, by a solemn record of their opinions, denounce to future times their opinion of those transactions; for he was persuaded there could be but one opinion in both countries as to the atrocity of the transactions. They ought to declare to the Emperor of Russia, that the two most enlightened nations of Europe felt themselves bound to express their detestation of the cruelty that had been used, and to record their utter abhorrence of such conduct.

Lord Viscount Sandon

rose to express what he was sure was the common feeling of every man and every party in this country—a full concurrence in the sentiments which had been expressed on both sides of the House. The hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last, expressed his confidence that England and France would join together in remonstrance against the atrocious act of destroying the independence of Poland. However that might be, he thought it highly desirable at least that a marked expression of public feeling should emanate from that House upon this subject. Russia ought to be made to know that her conduct towards a heroic but unfortunate nation excited the greatest indignation throughout the whole British empire; and he also hoped that might induce other nations to follow her example in reprobating this outrage upon national independence.—Those powers, indeed, who were parties with us in the solemn compact which united Poland to the crown of Russia, ought to make a general remonstrance against this infraction of the fundamental conditions of that union, and should express individually their opinion upon the unblushing manner in which Russia had recently violated that treaty. He could not bring himself to believe that such a protest would pass unheeded, as public opinion was gaining every day a more powerful influence over the policy of nations. Above all other things, however, he must condemn the deportation of the Poles to Siberia as an act of unparalleled atrocity, and the destruction of the nationality of Poland, as an act of unexampled insolence to the other powers of Europe. He was sorry to use such language towards one of the leading powers of Europe; but justice would not allow him to use more measured language; and he knew that, in thus denouncing the conduct of Russia, he was only speaking the sentiments of his numerous and intelligent constituents.

Mr. Courtenay

said, that if he did not preface his observations with expressions of sympathy with the Poles, and admiration of the conduct of their heroic leaders, it was because he was unable to clothe his sentiments in language equal to that which had already been addressed to the House. He was anxious, however, to say a few words to guard the Poles against being led to form any delusive hopes, such as they had before formed, much to their own injury. He accused not the Government of exciting those hopes, but he thought the proposition of his hon. and learned friend for an address to his Majesty might have that effect. He certainly never would concur in any such address, unless it were to be followed up by a declaration, on the part of the House, that it was ready to obtain the object for which it addressed the Crown by employing the whole strength and force of the country. He was not prepared to do that, but he had learned from Mr. Canning never to put forth a threat which he was not prepared to carry into execution. Mr. Canning, in his defence of the policy which he pursued towards Spain during the last invasion of that country by the French armies, expressly said, that we ought not to make a powerful remonstrance against the proceedings of another nation, unless we were prepared, if the remonstrance was unsuccessful, to follow it up by war. The Poles, to whom the debate of that night would be known, would form expectations of receiving, assistance which must be unfounded, for he was sure that the nation, however much it might sympathise with unfortunate Poland, was not disposed to go to war to restore its nationality. He hoped that Ministers would be prepared, at an early day after the recess, to state, not only what they had done, but also what they intended to do, with regard to Poland. Till that time came, he should abstain from giving any opinion. By the first article of the Treaty of Vienna, it was provided, that Poland should have a national existence. That article was inserted at the particular recommendation of our Minister (Lord Castlereagh), which increased the interest he took in the debate. It appeared, therefore, that the late decree of the emperor Nicholas, destroying the national existence of Poland, was a contravention of the Treaty of Vienna, and Ministers ought to state, when they had official cognizance of the proceeding, whether they were prepared to acquiesce in that contravention of the treaty or not. He begged to be understood as not asserting that the article referred to guaranteed to Poland a free constitution: unless, as the hon. member for Taunton had inferred, a national existence could not well be preserved without a free and independent government; but Lord Castlereagh had neither asked nor given any such guaranty. He looked only, as he (Mr. Courtenay) would always contend he was right in looking, to the interests of England. The Government might not be prepared to enforce the Treaty of Vienna, and that was a point upon which the House ought to be informed. Certainly, in conformity with the policy which had been pursued with respect to Belgium, there might, perhaps, be reasons for not insisting on the strict execution of the Treaty of Vienna regarding Poland, especially as fifteen years had elapsed since the signature of that treaty. He should have entered further into a discussion on the principle of interference, and our conduct in other parts of the world, had his noble friend, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, been present; but, in the absence of his noble friend, he should think it right to withhold his observations.

Sir Francis Vincent

said, that the Poles who had fought under the walls of Warsaw were not less worthy of admiration than the Poles who had driven the infidels from the walls of Vienna. He thought that Europe, in the nineteenth century was not less indebted to them than it was in the seventeenth century, for the heroic valour with which they had struggled against the common enemy of all its free states and liberal institutions. The parties to the Treaty of Vienna would compromise their honour beyond all powers of redemption if they did not insist upon the maintenance of the nationality of Poland. The present was, in his opinion, a fit time for standing up against the colossal power of Russia, for we were now secure of the co-operation of France, and of all the friends of liberty in Europe. Let Russia beware lest Europe should determine to atone for its participation in the crime of partitioning Poland, by restoring it once more to a national existence.

Mr. Hume

could not allow the present discussion to pass without expressing his gratitude to his hon. and learned friend for the statement which he had made. For his part, he thought that, as the Treaty of Vienna was the first in which England recognized the partition of Poland, the engagements into which we then entered compelled us to use every means in our power by way of remonstrance, to vindicate the limited nationality of Poland. Previously to their last noble struggle for national freedom and independence the Poles had endured grievances, until it became a sacred duty to resist the infliction of them. The world knew well the part which the French government had played in these transactions; but it knew nothing of the part which had been played by the British Government. He had received numberless applications from his constituents to demand some information on that point from his Majesty's Ministers, and he thought that the time was now at length come in which the country must have a statement from those Ministers, explaining whether they had fulfilled their duty in a manner worthy of the character of this country as an European power. He thought that we should have no occasion to proceed to hostilities in vindication of the nationality of Poland. There was a great difference between making a remonstrance and entering into hostilities—and he was decidedly convinced that the expression of a strong opinion by the Powers of Europe would preclude the necessity of going to war. There was an unanimity of opinion among his constituents on the subject of Poland which he had never witnessed on any other subject. He was sure that they would be most anxious to assist the Government in any measures which it might take to relieve the misfortunes of Poland. He augured from the speech of the noble Lord (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), that the country would have no reason to complain of the policy pursued by Government on this most interesting question.

Sir Charles Forbes

sympathised as deeply as any Member in the House with the misfortunes of the brave and unfortunate Poles. He always wished them success, and he was only surprised that they had let that monster Constantine escape, instead of hanging him up, as they would have been justified in doing, to the highest pinnacle in Warsaw. He lamented that the interference of this country, if made at all, would now be too late to be of the slightest advantage to Poland.

Colonel Fox

said, that he fully agreed with every sentiment which had been so ably expressed on this subject by the hon. and learned member for Kirkcudbright. He could affirm that the recent treatment of the Poles by Russia had excited in all parts of Germany as much indignation as it had in either Great Britain or France; and he must further express a hope that the people of that country would be found ready to assist the other civilized states of Europe in atoning for the crime of partitioning Poland, in which they had all participated.

Mr. Ewart

concurred with the hon. and gallant Officer in thinking that, if we remonstrated against the recent proceedings of Russia, we should have the sincere and cordial co-operation of the people of Germany; but, he was also fully persuaded that we ought not to make any remonstrance against the proceedings of Russia which we were not prepared to follow up by vigorous measures. He called upon the House to consider whether France would not gladly join us in any remonstrance which we might make against the unjust oppression which Russia was now exercising over Poland. He was convinced that if Ministers would only take a strong and decided part in vindication not only of the rights of Poland, but he might also add the liberties of Europe, they would be supported by the unanimous approbation of every man who deserved the name in Great Britain and Ireland.

Mr. Sheil

said, that the hon. and learned civilian had expressed a conviction that there existed but one feeling through Great Britain with respect to the wrongs of Poland, and had added, that he believed that it extended to the sister island. He could assure him that it did. It were strange if Ireland should not sympathize with national misfortune. He considered that this discussion had been attended with a useful result. The eloquence of the Gentleman who had brought it forward was not only the medium by which his own unaffected feelings were expressed, but he had given utterance to the emotions of the entire country. He had not opened a new source of national sensibility, but had unlocked a fountain which had remained too long sealed. The hon. Gentleman had the merit of calling up the Representative of his Majesty's Government, who had proved that the principles and feelings of Lord Althorp were not merged in the official formalities and precautions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The eye and the intonations of the noble Lord supplied any want of distinct declaration that Poland should not be allowed to perish. An hon. Gentleman had said, that it was little consolation to the exiles from Poland to receive this late and valueless sympathy. True it was, that the pains of exile were almost ir- remediable, but yet it must be to those gallant and illustrious men a source of mournful satisfaction to know, that while England blushed at her having permitted Poland to fall, her blushes were mingled with her tears. This subject had been so amply treated, the case was so clearly established, that he should avoid reiterating what had been already so perspicuously expressed. It had been proved that the Treaty of Vienna had been violated, that the wrongs of Poland had been unendurable, and that her resistance to oppression was not matter of choice, but of absolute and unavoidable necessity. "Gallant, chivalrous, high-minded people—nation of heroes," exclaimed the hon. and learned Gentleman "you are fallen; but your disasters are encompassed with a glory so surpassing, that the most splendid and successful achievements of ancient or modern times fade and grow dim before it." And shall nothing be done to save the remnant of that illustrious race, and will England, France Europe, stand by and permit this outrage on all law, on all justice, on all honour, on all humanity? No; the cause of Poland is that of the world, against whose interests, against whose civilization, against whose liberties, the great autocrat of the north will aim a deadly blow, if this flagitious proceeding be allowed to pass with impunity, and converted into a precedent for unlimited aggression. Let it not be imagined that France and England, if they stand together, will plead for Poland without avail. But, if we shall be slow to appeal to arms for Poland, there is a duty which no prudential regards ought to induce us to delay. France has given the example. She has given to the illustrious exiles from that glorious and yet unhappy country a noble national welcome. The coffers of the state have been thrown open. Let England imitate her generosity, or rather let England look to her own conduct in other instances as a model; and as to the refugees of Spain and Portugal, she gave a prompt and honourable succour, let her with a hand of hospitable liberality lift those men from destitution, who may seek a shelter on her shores, and prove that while England shall last liberty shall never want a home.

Mr. Hunt

had reason to believe that, if the British Government had not held back, France would have afforded assistance to the Poles at a period when assistance was useful. He regretted that the Motion had not been brought forward at an earlier period. The Poles were misled by the public Press of this and other countries, which urged them on to resistance. He believed the Government itself had not misled the Poles, but they allowed the public Press to mislead them, and the same observation was applicable to the government of France.

The question that the House, on its rising, adjourn to the 7th of May, carried.

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