HC Deb 07 August 1832 vol 14 cc1209-30
Colonel Evans

rose, for the purpose of bringing forward the Motion of which he had given notice, on the subject of the infraction, by Russia, of the Treaty of Vienna, with respect to Poland. The condition of that country, and the atrocities which had been committed towards that unhappy nation, had been so ably discussed, and so amply set forth, on the occasion when a formal motion was brought forward by the hon. member for Kircudbright, that he should have contented himself with merely moving, on the present occasion, the Resolution which be had prepared, had he not become possessed of information of some importance, which, at the period to which he referred, had not transpired. He should, therefore, trouble the House with a few observations relative to the necessity which existed for the House to assert the rights of the country to call upon Russia to abide by the articles of the Treaty of Vienna, and also endeavour to show, by means of the additional knowledge of the conduct of Russia, with respect to the conquered Poles, which he had become possessed of, that she had broken every stipulation which had been made on behalf of that nation. The House would hold it in recollection, that, at the recent period when the Russian-Dutch Loan was discussed, his Motion, couched in still stronger language than the present one, was the next in succession, and at the request of a noble Lord opposite, he had refrained from bringing it forward then, consenting to postpone it to some subsequent night. Since that time his attention had been directed to the circumstances connected with the ukase which had been issued by Russia relative to the Poles. A right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel), whom he did not see in his place, had taken certain exceptions to the accusations which were brought against the emperor of Russia, charging him with cruelty and perfidy to those Poles who had submitted to him, and with having broken all the conditions of their capitulation. The right hon. Baronet stated, on the occasion to which he referred, that it was unjust and unbecoming conduct in Members of that House to use such language as had been uttered respecting the acts of the emperor of Russia, whilst there was yet no proof of his having acted in such a manner as even to justify the slightest of the charges against him. Those charges, however, were now confirmed by information and documents which had since arrived from that portion of Poland which was under the subjugation of the emperor of Austria; and whereby it was proved that the conquered Poles had been forced to enter the Russian army, in direct breach of the articles of capitulation. It appeared that Galicia (Austrian Poland) had conceived, from the first moment of the struggle, an ardent wish for the success of their countrymen, and this desire was encouraged by the Governor of that province, who was himself a Pole. So strongly was this feeling manifested by the Galicians, that Austria, rather than hazard a revolt of the whole province, consented that those Poles who were under her dominion, who chose to take part in the struggle with Russia should do so, without incurring the displeasure of the Austrian Government. This liberty was embraced by many; and when their efforts had proved unsuccessful, they returned to Galicia; when, so strong was the sympathy which they excited amongst their countrymen in favour of the unhappy and conquered Poles, that the Diet of Galicia was induced to exert its right of petitioning the emperor of Austria to prevent further cruelties being inflicted by the emperor of Russia on their conquered fellow-countrymen. This right which the Diet possessed of addressing the emperor was modified by the circumstance that the Governor of that province possessed the discretionary power of presenting the petition, or of suppressing it, in case he saw fit; but the facts of this particular petition simply were, that no less than 300 Members of the Diet had assented to this petition, and had presented it to their Governor, for it to be submitted to the emperor. He did not know whether that address had been transmitted to the emperor or not, but this he did know, that it was an authentic document—that it was signed by the principal persons in Galicia, resident on the frontiers of Poland, and who must be considered good authorities as to what had recently taken place in Poland, and it was a remarkable fact, that it corroborated all the satements which had been made in a former debate in that House, with regard to the atrocious conduct of Russia towards Poland. The document itself was so important, that he would beg leave to read such extracts as seemed to support the statement made by the hon. and learned member for Kircudbright, with respect to the tyrannical and cruel treatment experienced by the conquered Poles. The state of Galicia, after thanking the emperor of Austria for his conduct, proceeded thus:—'Let it now bring us. Sire, to the foot of your throne, that we may convey to the bosom of the august father of his people the profound grief we feel on witnessing the misfortunes and unheard-of persecutions of our brethren. You have deigned, Sire, to afford an asylum to those of our countrymen who sought refuge in this province; you have felt pity for their sufferings; your intercession with the emperor of Russia in their behalf obtained for them a full amnesty. Promises of peace and forgiveness were sent to them. Proclaimed by your Commissioners, these promises were believed by the unfortunate refugees. But they had scarcely begun to regain their devastated homes, and collect their dispersed families; a special deputation had scarcely carried to St. Petersburgh thanks extorted by terror; when a ukase, dated the 1st May, was suddenly issued, compelling all those who were pardoned to enter the Russian military service—if the name of service can be given to an exile worse than death. Led during fifteen years in the Steppes of Asia—confounded in Siberia, in the ranks of a barbarous soldiery—separated from all that can attach them to life—exposed to the most humiliating punishments—these unhappy men will never again see their country, nor even Europe! The groans of our expiring brethren will be lost among the rocks of the Caucasus and in the deserts of Tartary—groans of despair, at witnessing your Majesty's humane intentions and generous wishes so cruelly disappointed. But it is not enough that, under pretext of crime, there has been torn from some, more than death itself could rob them of; that they are deprived of their names, and numbered as cattle, that their heads are shaved, and that they are chained to long iron bars, in order to be conducted to the pestiferous mines of Siberia, or to people the icy regions of Kamschatka; it is not enough that, in contempt of the amnesty granted—in contempt of the solemn promises formerly given to the Poles, that they should never be removed beyond the frontiers of Europe—they were shamefully transported in whole masses into Asia, under the pretext of Russian military service—it is not enough, that a complete annihilation awaits the whole of the present race;—an implacable spirit of vengeance, exercised even against the youngest of the rising generation, aims at the total extermination of the future race! Infants, requiring all the tender care of their mothers, are, under a pretended solicitude, torn from their arms; and children are removed from the different benevolent institutions, and carried away far towards the north, there to be brought up in a new language, and under a foreign religion and foreign customs! Human nature recoils at these details, which have been proved by incontestible evidence. Mothers, too, driven to desperation by the atrocities they have witnessed, have been seen to plunge poniards into the bosoms of their own children! In short, in the old Polish provinces of Russia, when families attainted, in some instances for three successive generations, have wished, raising their eyes half-closed by grief, to seek for religious consolation at the foot of the altar, the approach to the sacred temple was forbidden; the churches were closed, and the pastors loaded with outrage, or condemned to enter the army as common soldiers! The union of the two churches—that fruit of several centuries of Christian concord—was violently broken; a great number of the churches of the united Greek ritual were appropriated to the Catholic worship—the schools were suppressed—the national language and customs overturned and the most violent measures employed in order to transplant one half of the nation to another part of the world; whilst, on the other half, a foreign language, customs, and religion were imposed, in the hope of thus forming, by violence and oppression, a population homogeneous with that of Russia! Such atrocities have not only deterred those who had not yet quitted our country from the idea of ever returning to their homes, but we daily witness the return of numbers of those who, misled by a fallacious amnesty, have avoided its terrible effects by escaping in a state of complete destitution.' That went far to prove the truth of what had been asserted with reference to the monstrous conduct of Russia. He then proceeded to say, that it was quite true, as had been eloquently said by an hon. and learned friend of his, the member for Louth (Mr. Sheil) in a former debate on the Russo-Dutch Loan, that "there was a time when we might have interfered—when an Admiral in the Baltic might have interceded with more eloquence than a Minister at St. Petersburgh," and that, now that Poland had perished, we could not avail ourselves of her misery, "to make an entry of her wrongs in our fiscal ledger, to convert them into items of sordid calculation, and to balance the account with Poland's best and noblest blood." All that was quite true, but it was equally true, that if the strong language employed in the course of that debate by several hon. Members had been employed only one year ago, the effect might have been to have saved Poland, at least, from the depths of misery and desolation to which the tyranny of her barbarous oppressor had now reduced her. He wished to remind the House, that the Convention of 1815, on the faith of which the payment of the Russian Dutch Loan was continued to Russia, was inseparably connected with the whole of the general treaties between the Allied Powers in 1814 and 1815; and that one of the stipulations of those treaties was the preservation of the national independence of Poland. He begged to ask what had been the conduct of Russia ever since 1815? Had it been that of a civil and faithful ally towards this country, or had it not been directly the reverse? Immediately after Napoleon had been put down, Russia at once declared that her armies should retain possession of Poland, and should not give it up until she had reestablished her power there, and her doing so at the moment that the general treaty was under consideration was, as the noble Lord opposite knew, almost the cause of the breaking out of a new war on that occasion. The subsequent conduct of Russia had been one series of unjustifiable aggressions on other nations—of territorial aggrandizement, and of violations of national law and national faith. The first case was that of the war with Persia, where, after having threatened the capital of that empire, the Shah was glad to purchase peace at the cost of some of the provinces on the borders of the Caspian Sea. The next war was with the same Power, and terminated in a similar way. Turkey was the next Power who was destined to suffer from her rapacious and quarrelsome neighbour; and the unprovoked war which ensued ended, as had all the preceding, in fresh territorial acquisitions on the part of Russia. Not contented, however, with interfering in the northern and eastern kingdoms of Europe and Asia, Russia must come into the Mediterranean, and, by means of her counsels and influence, prevent the formation of constitutional Governments in Italy. Russia, it was well known, was the principal moving Power in preventing the establishment of constitutional Governments in Naples, Piedmont, and the other States of Italy in 1823; and it was equally well known, that it was principally owing to the influence of Russia that France sent that unjustifiable expedition which she despatched into Spain. Next came the case of Poland, and it was not necessary for him to dwell upon the atrocious conduct of Russia in that instance. The truth was, that the conduct of Russia ever since the peace of 1815 had been one series of aggressions on Powers with whom we were united by treaties and the bonds of amity and good faith. The object of his Motion was to give support and strength to those negotiations which he knew were at present being carried on by one of our Cabinet Ministers with Russia, and, after those few observations, he should conclude by moving the Resolution of which he had given notice. The hon. Member then moved the following Resolution:—"That it is the opinion of this House, that, in conformity to the spirit, though contrary to the letter of a treaty, dated 19th May, 1815, his Majesty has agreed to renew certain obligations to the Emperor of Russia; that the said treaty and obligations were connected with, or arose out of, the general treaties between the Allied Powers of 1814 and 1815; that, therefore, in the opinion of this House, the Convention to the above effect affords his Majesty a special claim on the Power profiting by it, for a faithful interpretation of other engagements to which both Powers may have been contracting parties, and especially with regard to that concerning Poland."

Viscount Palmerston

was not prepared to acquiesce in the Motion of the hon. Member, and he should therefore ask the House to agree to the previous question. Me adopted that course, because, although there were many sentiments advanced by the hon. Member, the propriety of which, as abstract questions, it was impossible to deny, such perhaps as that the due performance of treaties on the part of England gave her an additional claim for the strict fulfilment of treaties on the part of other Powers; still there were reasons, in the particular case before the House, which did not, in his opinion, call for an affirmation of that principle, because the country had fulfilled its engagements with respect to the Russian-Dutch Loan. For this reason he should abstain from following the hon. Member through his reasoning on that subject, or from adverting to what had taken place in the former debates on the question of the loan. He could not, however, sit down without making one or two observations on the conduct which the hon. Member attributed to Russia in her negotiations, and in her contests with her neighbours or with the other powers of Europe. The hon. Member had particularly charged Russia with pursuing a continued system of aggression throughout the whole of her transactions with Persia and Turkey. Now, he happened to know that Russia had in neither of the cases mentioned by the hon. Member been in the slightest degree the aggressor. Persia had provoked a contest by a long series of aggressions, and Turkey had, in spite of all remonstrances, seized Russian subjects and Russian property, and evaded all demands for redress. If it had not been so, the Government of the Duke of Wellington would not have permitted either Persia or Turkey to fall unaided before the power of Russia; and although Turkey persisted, there was an understanding between Russia and her allies that she was not to take any accessions of territory in Europe in the event of a successful issue of the contest. He would not go into the questions raised by the hon. Member with respect to the supposed interference of Russia with Austria on the subject of Naples, nor with France in connection with Spain. The hon. Member could have nothing but surmise on which to found his opinions on these points, and he meant to confine himself purely to the facts. With respect to Poland, he could also say, without at all touching on the question of Russia having broken her faith to the Poles on the subject of a Constitution, that, in the late war, the Poles, not the Russians, were the aggressors, for they commenced the contest. Having said thus much, in justice to what he knew, with respect to the conduct of Russia on the points mentioned by the hon. Member, it did not appear to him necessary to add anything more. The noble Lord concluded by moving the previous question.

Sir Charles Wetherell

agreed with the noble Lord on the propriety of meeting the Motion with the previous question. He deprecated the language so frequently used in that House when the conduct of the emperor of Russia was the subject of debate; whatever might be said of that conduct, it did not appear to him that Russia had been guilty of any breach of treaty,

Mr. Hume

supported the Motion, and must say, notwithstanding the remarks of the noble Lord, that the whole conduct of Russia since 1816 had been marked by an unvarying spirit of aggression and duplicity. The noble Lord had given no answer to that part of the speech of the hon. member for Rye which touched on the non-fulfilment of the Treaty of Vienna on the subject of Poland. He hoped the noble Lord would give some reply to that. As to Persia, it was well known that it had been abandoned by Mr. Canning to its fate. The fact was, that Mr. Canning did not find it convenient for England to oppose Russia at that time: and it was well known to the Court of Directors, and to every one connected with India, that this was the case. He agreed most fully with what had been stated by the hon. member for Rye on the propriety of demanding a reciprocal fulfilment of treaties; and if the hon. member for Rye divided the House on the question, he would divide with him.

Lord Robert Grosvenor

conceived that, though Russia had a right to put down, as a sovereign state, the insurrection that broke out in Poland, as part of her territories, she had no right to inflict severe and cruel punishment upon the Poles, after having induced them to submit by promises of forgiveness and mild treatment on returning to a sense of duty; or to make her success in quelling the insurrection a means of destroying the liberties and the name of the Polish nation. It was now, perhaps, late to advert to a subject which had occasioned so general an interest at the time; but he would, before he sat down, acquaint the House with the pleasing and gratifying fact that he had, within the last three days, received intelligence, by letter, from Poland, that, owing, as it was believed, to the notice which had been taken of the sad condition and unmerited misfortunes of that brave people, the sentence of banishment to Siberia pronounced. on some Polish noblemen, and others of note, who had distinguished themselves in the late insurrection, had not been carried into execution, but their sentences had been mitigated by command of the Russian government. He doubted whether the Treaty of Vienna gave this country a right to interfere, particularly as he did not see what treaty had been broken, and he therefore should support the previous question.

Sir Charles Forbes

supported the Motion, and said that he concurred with the hon. member for Middlesex in his opinion as to the Persian war. The true policy of this country was abandoned when Persia, in its conflict with the overgrown power of Russia, was left by this country to her fate. The tranquillity and safety of India required that Russia should have been prevented from making territorial acquisitions there, though she could not be prevented from avenging her wrongs—if wrong she had really sustained.

Mr. Courtenay

said, he should not, on this occasion, touch upon the questions of the right of Russia to attack Persia or subjugate afresh Poland. He should only say it was singular to hear from the noble Lord (Lord Robert Grosvenor), who held an office in the Household, language which went to reprobate the conduct of the emperor of Russia, whilst he had exonerated him in his conduct to the Poles from the charge of having broken any existing treaty with Great Britain. He felt it his duty to vote for the previous question.

Lord Sandon

remarked, that the very act of the Congress of Vienna which had united the Grand Duchy of Warsaw to Russia, contained this article, that that Duchy should be re-united by the constitution it had to Russia. It must follow, of course, that when this constitution was gone and put an end to, the bond of union which united the Duchy to the empire of Russia was virtually dissolved. It would be recollected that when, at the Congress of Vienna, the Russian diplomatist laid claim to incorporate the whole of Poland with Russia, the minister of this country. Lord Castlereagh, with those of other states remonstrated, and, had that course been persisted in, war would have been the result, in order to prevent that annexation of the whole territory and power of Poland to Russia, which was tamely acquiesced in by this country and France, contrary to their former declared policy and their obvious interests. Such an annexation must add great strength to the already overwhelming force of that gigantic Power which this moment seemed ready to pour into the plains of Germany. How subtlely her intrigues and her policy had insinuated themselves into the lesser states of Germany, might be collected from the alarming fact, that a Polish gentleman of distinction had been, under the pretext of his being a Russian, surrendered up as a criminal, with his papers, by one of those lesser powers, from which it might have been hoped there was less reason to expect any mean truckling to any foreign dictation—he meant Hanover. It was, then, no idle terror which seemed to pervade the Congress of 1815, on the subject of the too gigantic power of Russia, and the dangers to be apprehended from the annexation of all Poland to the Russian empire. To prevent that was, then, an object of the just policy and true interests of England—but more especially was it our policy in the present case, of a despotic empire interfering with the small, independent, and free states of Germany. The almost avowed policy of Russia, speaking through its instrument, the Diet, was, that no amelioration-should take place in the governments of Europe. It became, therefore, the business of this country to express its feelings of dissatisfaction with the dark and mysterious policy of the new alliance formed against liberty in Germany, and on the Continent of Europe, by three of the greater European Powers. He did hope that, when the case of Poland had been mentioned, not a syllable would have been uttered, nor the slightest mention made, in that House of the good faith of Russia. Was there no infraction of the treaty alluded to alleged by the Poles ere they rose in revolt? Did the House really forget the pretended amnesty that was offered subsequent to the struggle, or the treacherous and hypocritical invitations which were held out to induce them, first to submit, and, lastly, to return from safety under the power of the cruel Russians? Would men of honour and proper feeling talk, after these things, of good faith on the part of Russia? God forbid! This he said in sincerity, because he was sorry to contemplate the possible effect which the assertions of two Members connected with his Majesty's Government might have if they went abroad without note or comment—one (the noble Lord) descanting on the good faith of that aggressive government, and the other expressing himself satisfied that, in these outrages against humanity by Russia, no positive treaty had been broken. Could it for a moment be questioned whether good faith had been kept in this instance by Russia with a Government that had gone so far to keep its engagements with Russia, as to the payment of the Russian-Dutch loan, and which kept all its engagements with the Russian and all other governments. He thought his Majesty's Government had given way to considerations which might not be in accordance with the general sentiment out of doors, and which might hereafter display itself, and burst forth very inconveniently to the interests of the present Ministry out of doors, when a fit opportunity for taking the sense of the public might arise. For the emperor of Russia he entertained respect enough to believe that, if truth reached him, something beneficial to the cause of humanity might arise, when he heard of that which possibly had not reached his ears, though inflicted by those sanguinary persons who were acting under his authority. If it could reach him, it was most likely to reach him through the debates of that House, and glad he was, to hear from the noble Lord that the Poles did attribute some of the mitigation of the sufferings and punishment to the debates that had already taken place within those walls. He could not go all the length of the hon. and gallant mover of the present Motion, nor did he wish to give it a decided negative. He should, however, put it to the discretion of that gallant Officer, whether it would not be better that the Motion should be withdrawn, after the debate that had taken place upon the subject.

Sir Francis Burdett

said, that, anxious as he was to support the Motion of his gallant friend, and difficult as he found it to discover expressions which would convey, with adequate strength, the feelings with which he regarded the recent treatment of Poland; he perfectly agreed with the noble Lord, that it was expedient to avoid the use of strong and harsh epithets towards the emperor of Russia. At the same time, it was necessary to use such words as might, in some degree, evince the indignation which the treatment of Poland by Russia must excite in every generous and honourable mind. He was convinced that there was not an honest man in the House—that there was not an honest man in the country—that there was not an honest man in the civilized world—who did not feel the deepest indignation at the conduct which Russia had pursued towards Poland. As, on the one hand, the conduct of Poland had created general admiration and sympathy, so, on the other hand, the conduct of her opponents had been so treacherous, so odious, so detestable, that, as he had already observed, he could not find words sufficiently powerful to express his abhorrence of it. How far one individual might be the author of these atrocities, and deserving of execration, it was impossible to say, nor would he stop to inquire; but from the commencement of the crime—for the crime was only now committing—the career was not yet completed, but from the first, when false hopes of terms were held out to the unfortunate Poles before Warsaw, and when they were induced to believe that something like justice would be dealt out to them, down to the present moment, the conduct of Russia had been one series of acts of the most barbarous and uncontrolled tyranny that had ever been exercised, and of which history could afford any example. It was true that in ancient history might be found one or two instances in which tyrants had engaged in the desperate attempt of extirpating a nation, but that, in the present times, any country could be found capable of endeavouring to commit such an atrocity with respect to another could not be believed, if proof of it were not too evident in the conduct which had been pursued by Russia towards the brave but unhappy Poles. And yet the hon. and learned member for Boroughbridge had had the—what should he call it?—the hardihood to assert, that in the contest which had taken place between Poland and Russia, the Poles were the aggressors: that Poland, by its conduct, drew upon it the vengeance of Russia. This was the first time, that he (Sir Francis Burdett) had heard such an assertion; and he most sincerely believed that the hon. and learned member for Boroughbridge stood single and alone in that House, and in the world, in declaring that Russia had not been the aggressor.

Sir Charles Wetherell

said, across the Table, that he had not said what the hon. Baronet imputed to him. What he had said was, that Russia had not been guilty of the breach of any treaty.

Sir Francis Burdett

was glad to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman's disclaimer; he was glad to be now enabled to declare his conviction, that there was not a single man in the country who would assert that Russia had not been the aggressor.

Sir Charles Wetherell

observed, that he had not expressed any opinion on the subject.

Sir Francis Burdett

could not help admiring the self-control which the hon. and learned Gentleman had manifested in abstaining from the expression of an opinion which it was impossible but that, in common with every humane and honourable man, he must entertain on the subject, although he did not think it prudent to state it. He (Sir Francis Burdett) felt deeply ashamed of the conduct which had been pursued by England, and by Europe, throughout the transaction to which he had been alluding. The time had now, perhaps, gone by, when any beneficial results of importance could be effected by their interference; but it was impossible for any one to say what might have been the happy consequences, had the Powers of Europe, which had guaranteed to Poland the possession of a constitution, such as it was (and which was far short of what it ought to have been), had determined, not for the benefit of Poland alone, but for objects which the common sense and the sound policy of all Europe manifestly pointed out, to press Russia to adhere to those arrangements towards Poland to which she was bound by the Treaty of Vienna. Instead of doing so, however, abandoning all honourable feeling towards Poland, abandoning all sense of what was due to their own interests, they humbled Europe to the insolent pretensions of Russia. Had a different course been pursued, had the faith of treaties been observed, had Prussia been considered as neutral ground for one party as for the other, the Poles would have succeeded, and the peace of Europe, instead of being threatened as it now was with momentary disturbance, would have been secured. The Poles would have been triumphant, and would have achieved their independence, instead of having lost everything but their character and their national glory, which former achievements had rendered imperishable. —"sunt hic etiam sua præmia laudi, Sunt lachrymæ rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt. The fate of Poland had roused the sympathies of all Europe, and the government of France had found it difficult to repress the generous sympathies of its subjects in favour of the Poles. Supported, then, by the whole of Europe, if, at the crisis of the fate of Poland, England had declared herself, and a French army had moved, Russia would not have ventured to continue the contest; and he was convinced, that, if she had ventured to continue it, she would have been defeated. But it might be said, that England was not in a state to go to war. If, indeed, we were so lowered and enfeebled, why did we retain our Ambassadors at the various Courts of Europe? Was it in order that we might have our influence disregarded—that England, once so respected, should be with impunity insulted? If such were, indeed, our sad condition, it would be much better to revert to the policy which had been pursued by the wise Elizabeth—to withdraw our Ambassadors, and not to pretend to interfere when we had no means of rendering such interference effectual. If so, how different was our present character from that described by the poet in the last century:— 'Tis Britain's care to watch o'er Europe's fate, And hold in balance each contending state; To threaten bold presumptuous kings with war, And answer her afflicted neighbour's pray'r. The Dane and Swede, rous'd up by fierce alarms, Bless the wise conduct of her pious arms; Soon as her fleets appear their terrors cease, And all the northern world lies hush'd in peace. He sincerely believed, however, that what he had supposed, would have been actually the case; he sincerely believed that we should not have been compelled to go to war; but, if we had been so compelled, of this he was convinced, that in a more glorious, and, in all human probability, a more triumphant contest, this country had never been, and could never be, engaged. He was persuaded, that the false colossal power of Russia was, in a great measure, owing to the intrigues, the treachery, the pusillanimity, the trickery, the cowardice, which had been manifested by the other nations of Europe, who quietly looked on while that power was accumulating. This country had lately unnecessarily—certainly generously, perhaps chivalrously—performed our part of the contract entered into in the year 1815. Was it too much to insist that Russia should perform her part of that contract, the most important portion of which related to the arrangements respecting Poland? How disgraceful was it to England, after having been, for a century and a half, considered as the great arbitrator of Europe, after having enjoyed the high character of being the protector of weak States against the oppression of the strong, to abstain from enforcing engagements towards a weak state to which engagement she was a party. How disgraceful, after having been thus principal, to become thus subordinate! We had been busy enough in other matters. But the independence of Poland was infinitely more essential to the welfare of Europe than the state of Belgium, about which we had been so long and deeply engaged. He by no means felt sure that Russia had not been playing us off on the subject of Belgium, in a manner that ought to and would render us the laughing-stock of Europe. Nothing was more probable than that she had engaged us in the pursuit of a minor object, that she might with the less interruption obtain solid advantages elsewhere. In his opinion, it was absolutely necessary that Russia should be called upon to fulfil her part of the agreement concluded in 1815. Poland had an undoubted right to call on the other Powers of Europe to maintain her in that state of independence, such as it was, although not such as it ought to have been, which was assured to her by the Treaty of 1815. Let it be recollected, that the noble Lord who was the English Minister on that occasion (Lord Castlereagh) was not likely to be influenced by motives of excessive generosity or any great attachment to freedom; but, that, looking at the subject with the cold eye of an English statesman, he insisted on Poland's being-made an independent state. In such a condition she had been placed by the Treaty of 1815; and from that condition she could not be displaced without the deepest shame to the rest of Europe. When we saw what was passing in Europe—when we saw the liberties of Germany annihilated—when we saw the (independence of Poland destroyed—when we saw Italy in the possession of a conqueror, when we saw the whole European Continent exposed to the risk of being subjugated by a new Holy Alliance of two or three great despotic powers, it was high time (unless indeed it was now too late), if we had not entirely abandoned our ancient character—if we still pretended to any influence in foreign policy—if we had not sunk from one of the greatest powers of Europe to one of the least—if we had not ceased to inspire the awe and respect with which the other nations used formerly to ask, "What will England do; what will England say?" If we had not forfeited all the attention which in no very remote days our power commanded—if we had not become mean, impotent, and pusillanimous, it was high time to show ourselves, and to assert our character. Unless we did so, the divine command would soon be reversed in Europe. Instead of "Let there be light," the general declaration would be "Let there be no light; let there be universal darkness; let everything be subjected to military power." It was not for England that he entertained any apprehension; even were all the nations of the world combined against her. But he could not avoid entertaining some feelings for humanity generally—some sympathy for the condition of other countries. He knew that sentimentality and politics had little connexion; nor, indeed, did he wish to be considered sentimental. But looking at the subject on other grounds, he contended, that we had a great interest in maintaining the independence of the smaller States of Europe. Could any one who duly considered the subject deny, that it was a most mistaken policy which had allowed Austria to ravage Italy that delightful country, the seat of so many classical recollections, the cradle of the arts—that country so full of genius, so abounding with all that tended to the refinement and civilization of society? Would any one deny that it was a most mistaken policy to allow Italy to be plundered and pillaged by the Austrian military—by men who had not the sense to see the irreparable evils which they were inflicting, and who, thinking of nothing but squeezing out of the unhappy Italians everything they could at the moment obtain, were utterly unconscious of the destructive results that must be the consequence of their cupidity? These were outrages which England ought never to have permitted. She ought never to have permitted Italy to be chained, like Prometheus, to a barren rock, while the Austrian vulture was preying on its vitals. Just and extensive views of our own interest would have prevented us allowing a nation to be enslaved, from the freedom of which the whole world, and no Power more assuredly than ourselves, would have derived the greatest benefits. Vain was the hope to keep up a good understanding with Governments capable of acting as Russia and Austria had acted, and prone to constant aggression, and which would parcel out the world between them if England permitted the continuance of such unwise, such impolitic, such atrocious proceedings. Hitherto, however, Russia had been most fortunate. She had been permitted to take what she pleased from every neighbour whom she chose to invade. Look at her conduct towards Persia. But, with our possessions in India, had we not a good right to say to Russia, "we know nothing of the merits of your quarrel with Persia, but you shall not take possession of provinces in Persia, the possession of which by you will endanger the security of the British provinces in India? In the present altered state of the civilized world, all the former notions respecting the balance of power had become obsolete; the only balance of power worth our thinking about was a strict alliance between France and England. That effected, England and France, independent of all treaties, had a right to say to the other Powers of Europe, "you may go to war if you please, but you shall not endanger the general peace and happiness of the world by any encroachments on territory. We do not pretend to be any judges of the merits of your quarrels, but we are very good judges of what is necessary for our own safety; and encroachments on territory you shall not make." In the next place, he begged to ask why it was, that England should pay for the establishment of Prince Otho on the throne of Greece? Was it not for the purpose of maintaining the balance of power in Europe, and the independence of nations throughout the world? Now, then, suppose that, after we had gone to all the expense of settling the affairs and government of Greece, the emperor of Russia should think proper to seize upon it, would they not be liable to have the same arguments urged against them, and the principle propounded that it was not worth while to go to war for Greece? For himself, he thought that this country would have been perfectly justified, even upon conservative principles, in going to war at the time the Poles were struggling, and struggling successfully against the tyranny of Russia. It would have been, in his opinion, at once a glorious, a politic, and a safe war. The mere appearance of a British fleet in the Baltic would, he was well convinced, have decided the question of Poland's independence. He concurred entirely with the hon. and gallant Colonel (Colonel Evans), and would support his Motion, even at this late period— There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. The favourable moment for action was gone by, and they had, perhaps, fallen among the shoals and quicksands; but let them at least come to an understanding, and determine either to save our honour or our money. He repeated that he was ready to support the gallant Member's Motion, and he hoped his Majesty's Government would insist upon the performance, upon their part, of the stipulations made at the Treaty of Vienna, in behalf of Poland. If that country were suffered to remain in its present state, it would be a disgrace to Europe.

Sir Charles Wetherell

explained, that he was not a Baronet, and that the hon. Baronet—whose compeer he could not claim the honour of being—had attributed sentiments to him which he had never uttered.

Lord John Russell

said, that his hon. friend had just favoured them with an unexpected oration upon all the foreign relations, and the whole foreign policy of this country. He made this observation, not for the purpose of remonstrating with his hon. friend—he rather envied him. He envied him for the easiness with which, after praising the moderation of the noble Lord (Lord Sandon) he passed to the most violent invectives against all the Governments of Europe with which we were in alliance. He envied him, too, the bellicose tone which he felt himself at liberty to assume. The hon. Baronet he believed, had laid down no less than eight questions, on which he would go to war. Persia, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, and Poland. His hon. friend would throw overboard all treaties, because, in fact, those arrangements, with respect to Italy, for instance, were made binding by the very treaties to which he appealed. He envied the hon. Baronet his enthusiasm: but for himself he certainly did not feel justified either as a Member of the Government or of the House of Commons, in giving utterance to such sentiments. On the contrary, he felt bound to shrink from sentiments, the tendency of which would lead us direct to war. However highly the liberties of Europe were to be prized, the blood of Englishmen was to be prized also, and it was not, above all, to be lavished in a cause in which the liberties of Europe might not prosper, but the interests of England were sure to suffer. The noble Lord then went over the history of the Treaty of Vienna, and proceeded to say, that he acknowledged there had been a breach of the Constitution granted to Poland on the part of Russia—that then a conspiracy was formed, and an insurrection took place in Warsaw rather than in Poland, and the Russian garrison was expelled. In the course of the struggle, the insurgent Poles afterwards proclaimed, that the throne of Poland had for ever passed from the house of the emperor of Russia; and from thenceforward it was evident, that the struggle was one of life and death. The emperor of Russia was pledged to use his whole military power to crush Poland, and the Poles to contend to the uttermost against the domination of Russia. The appeal, too, made by the Poles to their countrymen in Austria and Prussia naturally alarmed those governments; and he really was surprised when he heard his hon. friend talking of the mere appearance of a fleet in the Baltic putting an end to the struggle. On the contrary, there would inevitably have been a most desperate contest throughout Europe, in which Russia, Austria, and Prussia would be on one side, and England and France, with the States who were struggling for liberty, on the other. Therefore, although he grieved for Poland, he did not think that any British statesman could be found to undertake the responsibility of coming down to that House to ask the country to enter upon such a war. If the principles of the hon. Baronet were acted upon, the result would be that we should be bound to go to war to support any insurrection in favour of liberty whenever it might take place, without considering its prudence or its probability of success. Against such a proposition as that, he felt it his duty to enter his protest. He would not attempt to follow his hon. friend through the great diversity of topics introduced in his speech, but must observe, that it seemed rather inconsistent in his hon. friend, who censured the Government for not interfering even to the extent of a war, on behalf of Poland, it was rather inconsistent in him to blame the Government for having interfered in the case of Greece. Was the Greek loan, which held out a prospect of immense advantage to Greece, at little or no risk to this country, offensive to his hon. friend, on account of the economy of the measure, by which we put an end to Greek anarchy and disturbance? Would his hon. friend risk a war for Poland, and yet blame the Ministry for guaranteeing the interest of a loan of 800,000l to Greece? Did his hon. friend at one and the same time censure the Government for interfering, and for non-intervention? Ministers had pursued a wise and temperate course. They abstained from interference, where the risk was great, and the chance of successful intervention doubtful; they interposed their good offices, when they found that the result would be highly advantageous, and the cost insignificant. His hon. friend had described England as being the laughing-stock of the world, on account of her pacific policy; this was a charge so generally made against all moderate Governments, and made upon such insufficient grounds, as not to demand more than a simple denial. There were also a few persons to be found in every country, who exclaimed, if the Government refused to go to war on trifling occasions, that the foreign policy was weak and ridiculous. Such statements were seldom entitled to much attention; least of all in the present case, wherein the Government had pursued a wise and temperate line of policy. Far better was it to adopt such a course of moderation, than, for the sake of a feather or a trophy, to take steps that might have endangered the peace of Europe. With respect to the Motion of the hon. member for Rye, whatever propriety there might be in the British Government appealing to Russia for a liberal interpretation, and large performance of her treaties, on the ground of the good faith of England, with respect to her own engagements to Russia, it would be exceedingly wrong, and might be raised into an improper precedent, were the House of Commons to interfere in relation to such a subject. In conclusion, the noble Lord expressed his intention of vot- ing for the previous question, if the hon. and gallant Member refused to withdraw his Motion.

Mr. Ewart

said, he was always most anxious to preserve peace, because he thought the prosperity of the country depended upon it; but still he must call upon the gallant Member to press his Motion, because such discussions as these in the British House of Commons would tend to serve the cause of freedom all over Europe.

Sir Robert Inglis

did not believe, that the people of England, or the constituents of the hon. Baronet opposite, were willing to risk a general war for the sake of any abstract principle. This country had other duties to perform, besides aiding insurrections, however justifiable they might be in the eyes of those who originated them. He understood, that the present Ministry had come into office upon the principles of Reform, retrenchment, and non-interference, and it would be most inconsistent with that policy to embroil this country in the quarrels of others. If any thing could justify the insurrection of Poland, it was the atrocities committed by the Russians at Warsaw. At the same time, he could not allow that this country ought to be hurried into a war. He should therefore concur in the Motion for the previous question.

Mr. Ewart

wished to be understood, as deprecating war as much as any man, and he believed, that supporting the Motion was more likely to discourage than encourage war.

Sir John M. Doyle

said, that he should support the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member, with whose sentiments on this question he fully concurred.

Mr. Cresset Pelham

could not bring himself to agree to the Motion, which he thought was in substance a declaration of war against Russia. As far as he could trust the judgment of any of his Majesty's Ministers, he felt disposed to trust that of the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs upon the present occasion. Some hon. Members appeared to think, that a simple expression of sentiment on the part of England would have been sufficient to prevent Russia from pursuing the line of conduct which she had adopted with respect to Poland; but that was merely matter of conjecture, and he did not wish to witness any such expression of sentiment, unless we were fully prepared to act upon it in case of necessity. On the whole, he thought it would be better for us to endeavour to settle our own differences at home, than to adopt the dangerous course of entering into hostile resolutions against a power, which a few days ago we had attempted to conciliate, as a joint pacificator in the affairs of Holland and Belgium.

Sir Francis Vincent

said, that he did not wish the vote he should give to-night to be interpreted into a vote in favour of a war. He did not think, that the Resolutions now proposed at all bore the character just assigned to them. He believed, that its only effect would be to make the emperor of Russia more carefully consider the course he was about to pursue. That was an object which he thought all must be desirous to attain, and that object he was sure could not be attained by mean truckling to any power, because it was thought greater than some others. He should support the Resolutions as an expression of opinion that must have a beneficial effect.

Colonel Evans

, in reply, said, that he did not believe his Resolutions would have the effect of producing a war; if he did, he should not have proposed them, for he thought, that the object he had in view could be obtained in a more certain and better way by other means. He had the greatest respect for the general good judgment of the noble Lord, and he did not wish to embarrass the Government by any proceeding he now proposed; but he felt it his duty to take the sense of the House on this question.

No division, however, took place; the Motion having been withdrawn.