HC Deb 28 June 1832 vol 13 cc1115-52
Lord Ebrington

rose to present a Petition, coming from Polish refugees resident in London, praying the House to address the Crown, in order to obtain its interference in the affairs of Poland.

Sir Charles Wetherell

objected to the reception of the petition, on the ground of irregularity.

The Speaker

said, that the House might receive the petitions of foreigners residing in this country, when the subject of their complaints originated in the acts of British authorities; but he was of opinion that such a petition as that brought forward by the noble Lord could not be received.

Lord Ebrington

deferred to the rules of the House, and withdrew the petition. The noble Lord then presented petitions, of a similar character, from Sidmouth, Crediton, and another place in Devonshire.

Mr. Cutlar Fergusson

had once more to solicit the indulgence of the House, whilst he called its attention to the State of Poland, and to the claims which that brave and oppressed nation had on the justice, good faith, and honour of the Government of this country. When he had last an opportunity of addressing the House on this deeply interesting subject, he was told that he had come late; and that reproach was not without foundation, at least he did not feel himself free from blame, for having omitted to take a part in the discussion on the affairs of Poland, which was at an earlier period opened to the House by the hon. and gallant member for Rye, who was the first to raise his voice in this House in favour of the oppressed. But, if he was silent upon that occasion, it was not from want of feeling the deepest sympathy for the misfortunes, and indignation at the wrongs, which had been heaped upon that heroic people, in contempt of every principle of justice and humanity, and in violation of the faith of treaties, and of the acknowledged public law of Europe. He abstained, as did many other Members of this House, from urging upon Ministers, at that moment, the claims of injured Poland, and calling upon them to interfere on her behalf, as well from the confidence which they reposed in Government, as from a fear of embarrassing it in its course. But he was satisfied that this latter consideration had been pushed too far. If they were satisfied that the Government meant fairly towards Poland, surely the opinions, and sentiments, and feelings of the House, which had been of late so unanimously expressed in favour of that cause, could not embarrass the Government; but must, on the contrary, give it support, and strength, and encouragement, to proceed in the right path. If he had believed that Government had been wanting in its efforts to obtain justice for Poland—if he had believed that those efforts had not only been ineffectual at the time, but were to cease, and were not to be continued or renewed in a sincere and honest spirit, and with a firmness which the occasion called for—his Motion would not have been of that limited nature which appeared on the Notice-books. He should not only have called for papers, to establish a case of oppression and of breach of treaty and public faith on the part of Russia, but he should have demanded of this Government to show what it had done to obtain reparation for Poland, and to save from destruction a land whose destinies had awakened so deep and general an interest throughout the civilized world. He should have deemed it necessary to ascertain, whether the Government of this free country had kept that high ground of national honour and of public faith, from which he trusted she never would depart whilst she existed as a state. He was so sensible of the indulgence which the House had been pleased already to extend to him, when he formerly addressed it on the same subject, that he would endeavour to spare it as much as possible on this occasion. Indeed, the lateness of the hour, added to his indisposition, would make it a matter of as much inconvenience to himself, as it would be to the House, that he should address it at any length; and he would therefore, endeavour, as much as possible, to avoid repetition, or a reference to any documents which were not essential to substantiate the case which he had undertaken to make out on behalf of the Poles, which was this—that national rights, which were secured to them by a solemn treaty, had been violated by the emperor of Russia; and that those rights having been guaranteed to the Poles by a treaty, to which Great Britain was a party, she was bound, in good faith and in honour, to see to the maintenance of that treaty, and of the provisions which it contained in favour of Poland. He admitted that he must establish the double proposition, and that, unless he did so, he had no right to expect that he should carry along with him the assent and concurrence of the House. The foundation of his case was the Treaty of Vienna, in the preparing and settling of the provisions of which, as far as respected Poland, Great Britain, through her Minister, took an anxious and prominent part, from the commencement to the conclusion of the proceedings of the Congress. Lord Castlereagh, in the first instance, demanded the restoration of Ancient Poland, and declared that it was England's wish that an independent power should be established in Poland, under a distinct dynasty, in order to interpose something between the three great Powers of the North. Austria seemed willing to accede to the proposal, at the expense even of sacrifices to be made by her; but Russia not only opposed the re-establishment of Poland under a distinct dynasty, but insisted that the duchy of Warsaw should be added to, and become an integral part of her dominion. Lord Castlereagh, on the part of England, rejected the demand, and declared, that in preference to such an arrangement, it would be better to fall back on the provision of the treaty of Ruchenbach, and that the duchy of Warsaw should he divided among the three Powers, Russia, Prussia, and Austria, conformably to the second article of that treaty. Austria acquiesced in this proposal, in preference to delivering over the duchy of Warsaw to be added to and become au integral part of the dominions of Russia, the further aggrandisement of which it was one of the great objects of the Congress of Vienna to prevent. Could it be doubted, that this arrangement would have been less unfavourable to the European system than that which was proposed by Russia, and positively rejected by great Britain as well as Austria, but which Nicholas, by a stroke of his imperial pen, now attempted in defiance of the other Powers, and of the solemn stipulations of Russia, to force on submissive Europe, as a part of its public law? It was clear that the stipulations of the first article of the Treaty of Vienna, were the result of long and anxious deliberation, and at last of compromise, among the Powers who were parties to the act of the Congress of Vienna, including Great Britain, whose Minister took the lead in every consultation respecting the settlement of Poland under that treaty. What then, were the stipulations of that treaty? The House, would, he hoped bear with him, whilst he cited the words of the first article, on which everything might be said to depend. They were these—'The Duchy of Warsaw with the exception of the provinces which have been otherwise disposed of, in the following articles, is re-united to the empire of Russia. It shall be irrevocably bound to it by its constitution, and be possessed by his Majesty, the emperor of all the Russias, his heirs and successors in perpetuity. His imperial Majesty reserves to himself to give to this State, enjoying 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 used for his other possessions. Then came the stipulations in favour of the Polish provinces, distinct from the Duchy of Warsaw, as follows—'The Polish subjects of Russia, Austria, and Prussia shall enjoy a representative and national institution, regulated according to the mode of political existence which each of the governments to which they belong shall judge useful and fitting to grant them.' As he scarcely touched on the part of this case which respects the Polish provinces, distinct from the Duchy of Warsaw, when he had last the honour of addressing the House, and as the points were necessarily and inseparably connected with each other, he would commence with a few observations on the provisions here made in favour of the Polish provinces, which, besides those subject to Austria and Prussia, consisted of Lithuania, Volhynia, Podolia, and the Ukraine, provinces of great extent, and containing a population exceeding 8,000,000. These provinces, in the whole, or in part, it was once the intention of Alexander to have added to the kingdom of Poland; but, so much was the kingdom considered to be a creation of the Congress of Vienna, that it was thought necessary to reserve to the Emperor Alexander a power of adding to that kingdom; and the territorial extension contemplated by the Treaty of Vienna was to be found in the Polish provinces subject to Russia, to which, in the mean time, a Representation and national institutions were to be given. It might be observed here, that the giving of a Representation and national institutions to those provinces was an express stipulation of the Treaty of Vienna, binding on the emperor of Russia, and matter of compact between him and the other powers, parties to the treaty of Vienna, and which they had a right to see, and ought to have seen, carried into effect on the part of that prince. But, so far from this being the case, it appeared that, although some most imperfect institutions had been given by Austria to the province of Gallicia, and by Prussia to the Duchy of Posen, not only had no national institutions or Representation of any kind been given to the other parts, but their ancient institutions, which, to a certain degree, afforded protection to liberty and life, had been wrested from them. The law of Poland, with the tribunals in which it was administered, had been suppressed, and the inhabitants of the provinces had been left, without defence or protection of any kind, to the mercy of the Imperial Ukase. The system of persecution and oppression which had been exercised in the Polish provinces, had not been less atrocious than that of which the unhappy kingdom had been the victim. The subject however, which was first in order, and which must form the main subject of the night's deliberation—was the provision by which the Duchy of Warsaw was erected into a kingdom, and was conferred upon the emperor of Russia, subject to certain conditions, upon which, and which only, he received the sovereignty of Poland from the hands of the Congress of Vienna, and upon which conditions alone he had a right to hold that sovereignty for a single day. What, then, were the terms and conditions of the treaty in behalf of the Poles? It had been said, that they were vague If the House would be pleased to listen to him for a few minutes, he would undertake to show that the terms of the treaty were clear, definite, and precise; and that there was nothing in them vague or ambiguous, or that would admit of any mistake in respect of their meaning by any one who would give them a moment of fair and unprejudiced consideration. The House would be pleased to remark the difference in the provisions of the treaty which respect the Polish provinces, which were before subject to Russia, and those which respect the kingdom of Poland conferred upon that State. By the treaty itself the Polish provinces were to have a Representation and national institutions; but the Duchy of Warsaw, erected into a kingdom, was to have not merely a Representation, not merely national institutions, but a constitution by which the new kingdom was to be irrevocably hound, and without which constitution it was not, and could not be, bound to the emperor of Russia. It was the condition, the indispensable condition, of rule over that country by the emperor of Russia—the constitutional king of Poland—Poland, not a province, like those that were to have a Representation and national institutions, but a kingdom and a state enjoying a distinct administration, to which the emperor must give such territorial extension as he might judge fit. If the new state were not to be bound to the emperor of Russia by its Constitution, by what tie was it to be bound?—Not by divine right—not by hereditary descent, certainly, and as certainly not by conquest, although this right was put forth in the manifesto which speaks of Poland as having been conquered in 1815 by the victorious arms of Russia. Victorious arms of Russia? Where was there any account of these victories to be found? It was true, indeed, that after the retreat of Napoleon, the troops of Russia overran Poland, and Warsaw was taken possession of without firing a shot. The Russians entered Warsaw at one gate, whilst Poniatowsky, and Schwartzenburgh, with his Austrians, left it at another. The boasted conquest of Poland was no more than the unopposed occupation of that country by the troops of Russia. Poland was held to be at the disposal of the Congress of Vienna; it was, in fact, disposed of by the Powers who were assembled at that Congress. It was made over to the emperor of Russia—not to form an integral part of his dominions—not to be, at his will, converted into a province of Russia; it would have been easy to have given Poland to him free from all conditions, but it was given to him expressly on a condition, by which it was to be irrevocably bound to his empire—namely, its constitution. What was there vague or uncertain in the terms of this provision? But if the terms were vague or uncertain, who so fit to explain and clear them up as the emperor Alexander himself? Let the House then hear him, as to the terms on which he considered that he held the sovereignty of Poland. Alexander gave a constitution—a free constitution—to Poland. In his speech on the opening of the Diet, in March, 1818, he said—'Your restoration is defined by solemn treaties: it is sanctioned by the constitutional Charter. The inviolability of those external engagements, and of the fundamental law, assures henceforward to Poland an honourable rank among the nations of Europe.' Could it then be said, that the provisions of the Treaty of Vienna in respect of Poland and its constitution were vague and uncertain? They were neither vague nor uncertain; but, if they were, Alexander himself had sufficiently defined their meaning. The rank of Poland among the nations of Europe was secured to it by the inviolability of its constitutional Charter, and the solemn obligations of a treaty with foreign powers. Such was Alexander's own construction of the Treaty of Vienna, and of the rights which it conferred upon Poland. Alexander gave to Poland its constitution; and the emperor Nicholas, at his accession, swore to maintain and preserve it. In his proclamation on that occasion, Nicholas said—'we declare to you, that the institution which he (Alexander) gave to you shall remain without any change; I, therefore, promise, and swear before God, that I will observe the Constitutional Act, and that I will bestow all my care in maintaining the observance of it.' Surely no Prince was ever bound by a more solemn or sacred engagement to observe and protect the constitutional liberties of the people than that which bound the emperor of Russia to the subjects of the kingdom of Poland. The obligation was reciprocal. The Emperor reigned by the Charter, and he swore to its observance. On the observance of the Charter by the prince rested his right to the allegiance of the subject; and the subject accordingly swore fidelity, not to his King alone, but to his King and the constitutional Charter. But how was the constitutional Charter observed or maintained by Nicholas, or even by Alexander? The government of Poland was by both of these princes delivered over to the arbitrary will of the Grand Duke Constantine. He had, on a former occasion, imperfectly and inadequately described the atrocities committed by the orders of that prince, and he would not tire or disgust the House by a repetition of the description. Suffice it to say, that there was not one article of the constitution that was not grossly, openly, and shamefully violated. That constitution provided that a Diet should assemble every two years; five years were suffered to elapse, and no Diet was assembled. That constitution provided, that taxes should not be imposed on the people of Poland without the consent of their representatives, and that a budget should be submitted to the Diet every fourth year: yet taxes were imposed without the consent of those representatives, and no budget for fifteen years was ever submitted to, deliberated upon, or voted by, the Diet. By the same constitution the proceedings of the Diet were to be public. By an ordinance of the emperor Alexander, the publicity of its debates was prevented and prohibited. Personal liberty was provided for by the Charter; but personal liberty had no protection; it was constantly violated by the simple order of the Grand Duke. If a member of the Diet expressed himself in a manner that did not please that personage, he was seized by his order, and imprisoned during his pleasure. The constitution provided, that within three days every man who was arrested should know the charge against him, and should be brought before the proper authority, and, if not made good against him, within that period, he should be discharged. After the accession of Nicholas, the insurrection of St. Petersburg was made the pretext for numerous arrests for alleged state offences. How long were such prisoners detained without being brought before the proper authorities? For three days? No, for eighteen months. The prisons were filled with victims, who were assailed, during that time, by the agents and spies of Constantine, who endeavoured, by every art, to entrap them into the confession of imaginary crimes. Many sunk under the barbarous and cruel treatment they received; others fell by their own hands. After a period of eighteen months the survivors were brought to trial before the High Court of Justice, and were acquitted, as it were, in a mass, no suspicion of a state offence appearing against them; yet many of those unfortunate beings, instead of being liberated, were hurried off to Russian fortresses, and confined in dungeons, and had never since been seen or heard of. The National Tribunal, which had nobly and courageously done that duty which the oath imposed upon the Judges, was reprimanded by order of the Grand Duke, for conduct which was interpreted into an offence against the state. No one had attempted to deny that the constitution of Poland, before the insurrection broke out, had been violated in every one of its leading provisions, and that it was, in fact, wholly subverted and destroyed by the authority of the King, who had sworn to preserve and maintain it. The appeal to arms was justified in the eyes of God and man; if not, there never was a justification of resistance against oppression, and this country had lived for 150 years under an usurpation. On what ground was James 2nd declared to have forfeited all right to the allegiance of his subjects? On the ground that he had violated the fundamental law, and broken the solemn compact between him and them. The Prince of Orange came in upon that declaration, and the House of Brunswick held the Crown of these realms upon the same and no other title. But even if he were to admit, that the insurrection of Poland was a rebellion not to be justified, it could not be a reason for taking away the liberties of a whole nation. The Emperor Nicholas himself did not charge the Polish nation with rebellion—he stated it to have been the work of a faction, who had seduced a portion of his subjects from their allegiance. He had already admitted that those who took part in the insurrection exposed themselves to the consequences of its failure; but the constitution of Poland, and the rights of the people, continued as before. But he had laboured this case too much. The difficulty, indeed, was to suggest arguments to be answered; for those who supported the cause of the Poles, found no opponent in the field. There was only one publication which he had met with, which had ventured to defend the conduct of the emperor of Russia in issuing the manifesto, and the organic statute of the 26th of February, by which the constitution of Poland, and its political existence as a state, were sought to be annihilated. He alluded to an article in the Allgemeine Zeitung, of the 2nd of May last, and which article was stated therein to have been sent for insertion, by authority; he presumed, it came from the court of Russia. The writer did not deign to justify the emperor of Russia from the charge of having violated the constitution of Poland—he did not even deny the fact that the constitution was violated by the emperor of Russia; but he denied that the grant of a constitution was a condition on which Alexander held the crown of Poland. He denied, also, that either France or England contributed to the grant of a constitution to Poland, and stated it to be a perversion of the truth to ascribe to those powers the part of mediators on that occasion. He added that the Poles were indebted for their constitution to the Emperor Alexander, who generously granted it upon the entreaties and representations of the Poles themselves. The world had heard of treaties and other transactions being void by reason of the force or terror employed to procure the acquiescence of the parties to them; but this writer seemed to think that the more voluntary and generous the act, the less binding on the party. Alexander freely and voluntarily gave a constitution to Poland, and because the gift was free and voluntary, it was a gift, it was contended, which he had a right to revoke and take away. The charge, observe, was not merely that Nicholas, by the Ukase issued since the insurrection was put down, had taken away from the Polish nation their constitution; but that, by his acts, and those of Alexander, before the issuing of the Ukase, and before the breaking out of the insurrection, the constitution of Poland was, in fact, destroyed. This was not denied by the writer in the Allgemeine Zeitung, and was, indeed, of no consequence to his reasoning, and did not at all affect it, for his reasoning amounted to this, that the constitution of Poland proceeding from the generosity and magnanimity of the Emperor, was binding on the Poles who received it, but not on the Prince who gave it, or on the Prince who swore solemnly to maintain it. He agreed, however, with the writer that France and England did not act the part of mediators, for they were contracting parties on that occasion. The writer further said, that the powers at the Congress could not guarantee a constitution which was not granted till eight months after the Congress broke up. What! could there be no guarantee that a thing should be done, as well as that a thing that was done, should continue to exist? If Alexander was to give the constitution, according to the intent and meaning of the provision of the Treaty of Vienna, the constitution, when given, was to become the "tie" by which Poland was to be bound to Russia, and became, in fact, a part of, and was, as it were, incorporated into the very treaty itself. But there was another view which might be taken of this question. The writer of the article referred to, seemed to think that Poland had no constitution till one was granted to her by Alexander; or, at least, that she had no right to a free constitution at the time of that grant, and that, but for the generosity of Alexander, she never would have obtained one. But let it be remembered, that before the Treaty of Vienna, the Duchy of Warsaw was an independent state, subject to the king of Saxony as Grand Duke, and whose title was acknowledged by the Treaty of Tilsit. Poland had then, as she had always had, a free constitution; and the constitution which she enjoyed under the king of Saxony, had never been abrogated or taken away. It continued lawfully to exist, notwithstanding the provisional occupation of Poland by the Russians, up to, and at the time of, the Treaty of Vienna. That treaty spoke of Poland being bound by its constitution to the empire of Russia, speaking, as some have contended, of the constitution of the Duchy of Warsaw, and speaking of it as a constitution then existing. It spoke also of Poland, as a state then "enjoying" a distinct administration. It could not be denied that there was considerable force in the reasoning; but he used it only to show, that if Alexander did not bind himself to grant a constitution to the Duchy of Warsaw erected into a kingdom, he took upon him the government of that state, with the constitution which it then had—a constitution as free as that which he afterwards gave to Poland, and on the model of which the latter appears to have been framed. So that, in any way, it could not be denied that Poland was to have the benefit of a free constitution, and that the emperor of Russia, in becoming king of Poland, ascended the throne of a constitutional monarchy, and that, the imperial will could never convert the kingdom of Poland into a Russian province. Yet a Russian province, the imperial will had declared that Poland should in future be, and that her political existence and nationality were at an end. The writer in the Allgemeine Zeitung, or rather, the court of Russia, considered that the organic statute was a sufficient substitute for the constitution of Poland. He would not waste the time of the House by showing that the constitution of Poland had been taken away; and that nothing in the shape of national guarantee for liberty, public or private, had been substituted in its room. The power to make laws, and to raise taxes in Poland, had been transferred to the Russian Council of State; and the Diet of Poland, as well as the national army, had ceased to exist. This last was, perhaps, the point which went deepest into the hearts of the Poles. Alexander knew well what was the feeling of a Polish army, and what might be expected from their valour and heroism, which had shone forth in a hundred battles, whilst that feeling was respected. By an article of the constitution, "the army was to preserve the colour of its uniform, its particular customs, and all the badges of its nationality." By the Ukase, the Pole was to mingle in the same rank with the Russian—he was to become a Russian soldier; his uniform was to be Russian; his national colours, and all the badges of his nationality, were taken away from him. The white eagle was struck down; but he trusted only for a season! "May we see it again raised," said the hon. Member, "and, when occasion calls for it, winging its course to victory, in a just and righteous cause!" He feared he had exhausted the patience of the House, as he had his own strength, in dilating on this painful and heart-rending subject; but he craved the indulgence of the House for a very little longer, whilst he stated a few facts illustrative of the present unhappy and mosdistressing state of that devoted country and its inhabitants. Not only had the constitution and nationality of Poland been taken away, but means had been taken to destroy the very germ of her institutions. Her schools of instruction (all but the very lowest) had been abolished; her Universities shut up; her cabinets and collections carried away; her military schools emptied; whilst thousands of Poles, citizens of all ages, who had taken part in the revolution, or who were charged with having done so, were dragged into Siberia, to labour in the mines, or to undergo whatever other mercy their oppressors might have in store for them. The last accounts from the frontiers of Siberia stated, that along the whole line of road, columns of Polish subjects and Polish soldiers, were met as in procession, ten-and-ten, linked together by bars of iron. It was calculated that 80,000 Poles had been sent to Siberia, and the most distant parts of the Russian empire. In contempt of the amnesty granted to the military, they had been compelled, without exception, officers and men, to serve in the Russian armies, as private soldiers, or, at most, as officers of the very lowest grade, and were sent to distant and desert countries, probably never to return. Out of twenty-two Polish Generals included in the amnesty, but who were sent away, notwithstanding, to distant parts of the Russian empire, only four had yet been suffered to return to their homes. Children had been carried away by thousands—he said by thousands!—under the colour or pretence of an Imperial Ukase, which declared, that all infants who had neither father nor mother, belonged to the state, and that he, the Emperor, as father of the country, named himself their guardian. It was in vain to protest that these orphans had friends, protectors, relations, who were willing to take charge of them—nay, in whose charge they actually were—and that they were in want of nothing—such remonstrances were unheeded; and the young and innocent victims were torn away from the soil which had given them birth, to be brought up in distant parts of Russia, in another religion, and with other manners, with a view, as was pretended, of good towards the Polish children, but with the sole view, as he believed, of making them Muscovites, slaves, and enemies of Poland. The abuse to which the execution of the Imperial Ukase was liable, was sufficiently obvious; and it was said not to be confined to orphans, but to be extended to the children of the absent, including almost all those who had taken part, and had survived the revolutionary war. There was one case of more than ordinary severity, of which most hon. Members must have heard, but which he would take the liberty of shortly stating to the House. It was the case of Prince Roman Sangousko, a Pole of high birth, who joined the national army of Poland early in the revolution, and was taken prisoner, tried, and condemned to be degraded from the rank of noble, and to banishment and confiscation. He had served in the kingdom of Poland, and was taken prisoner there, but his chief estates were situated in the province of Lithuania, and he was condemned as a Lithuanian subject of the Emperor, and his estate in that province confiscated. This sentence was submitted to the Emperor, and it was laid before him on the festival day of his patron saint, with a view to propitiate his clemency and mercy. Of what he was about to state, he wished he could question the authenticity. Would it be believed, that in place of giving way to a feeling of mercy towards the unfortunate Prince, he wrote, with his own hand, and added to the sentence of banishment to Siberia, these words—"To be sent on foot;" and this dreadful sentence had been carried rigourously into execution. The mother of the Prince repaired to St. Petersburg, to implore from the Emperor, not pardon for her son, but pity, and a mitigation of his physical sufferings. It was insinuated that some mitigation might take place; but upon certain conditions—the Prince was expected to declare that he was drawn into rebellion from despair, occasioned by the death of his wife, or that he had been induced to take part in it by the injunctions of his mother, which accompanied her blessing. The Prince declined to receive a mitigation of his sentence on either of those conditions. He said, that he had acted on his own judgment, and a sense of duty which he owed his country, and that he was ready to abide the consequences of his act. The heart of a generous Prince would have been touched by this noble sentiment; but the sentence on Prince Sangousko was carried into rigorous execution, and his broken-hearted mother had not been able, to this day, to ascertain what colony in Siberia had been assigned to her unfortunate and gallant son, as the scene of his misery and degradation. The Prince left behind him a daughter of the age of eight years, who was under the care of her grandfather, the father of the Prince, one of the surviving fellow-soldiers of Kosciusko, who was allowed to occupy, under surveillance, one of the estates in Volhynia. A party of military entered the house of this aged Prince, with the intent, as it was supposed, of carrying away the infant. The old man seized the infant in his arms, and threatened to plunge a poignard into her breast, rather than deliver her up. This resolute conduct struck dismay into the hearts of the party, and time was gained to save the child, and convey her to the Austrian territory. It would be easy to multiply cases of oppression in the dominions of the emperor of Russia, wherever Poles were to be found. But cases of oppression were not confined to his own territories: by virtue of the supremacy which he assumed in Europe, he, or his ministers acting for him, called upon independent Governments, by base compliances, to aid him in his course of persecution. The case of M. Thours appeared to have been one of that description. It took place in the dominions of the king of Hanover. Were the minister of the king of Hanover in the House, he should demand of him an explanation of this transaction. It was this: M. Thours was employed officially in some capacity in the Diet of Poland, and was supposed to have in his possession certain papers implicating many Poles in the transactions of that period. The Russian minister at Dresden demanded that this person should be arrested, and that his papers should he seized; and it had been stated that this demand was complied with—that Thours was arrested in the Hanoverian dominions; and though he was not detained as a prisoner, yet his papers were taken from him and delivered up to the Russian minister at Dresden. This proceeding was defended in some newspapers, on the ground that every state belonging to the Germanic Confederation was bound by treaty to deliver up criminals. But this defence would not hold good in the present case, because Thours was not a criminal, nor was he considered or treated as such. He was not detained in custody; but his confidential papers were seized and taken from him. The supremacy asserted by Russia, and the tone of dictation assumed by her in every public transaction, sufficiently disclosed her views of attaining general domination throughout Europe. Her system of aggrandizement was pursued with a steady and successful policy, beyond any example in modern history. It was said, that the extent of her dominion was her weakness—that it must fall to pieces by its own weight. So it was said of the Roman empire; but let it be remembered that Britain succumbed to the Roman power, after it had been declared by Augustus that the strength of the empire depended on the confinement, not the extension, of its limits. The aggrandizement of Russia, and the increase of her power, ought to be a cause of the most watchful and unceasing jealousy to the other powers of Europe. She set at naught the faith of treaties, and the right of independent nations. By her Ukase she annuls treaties, and changes the public law of Europe—her present attempt was to destroy the political existence of a European kingdom, to the establishment and formation of which this country was a party. It imported the honour and character of Great Britain that Poland should not be abandoned; and, whatever might be the result of the attempts to save her, should they prove, in the end, unsuccessful, Britain could never acquiesce; but must, on the contrary, enter the most solemn protest against an act so unjust and so atrocious as the extinction of the political existence and nationality of Poland. He sought not, at the present moment, for the disclosure of any matters relating to negotiations, either pending, or about to be carried on between this country and Russia, in respect to Poland; but he begged leave to move for copies of the Manifesto of the emperor of Russia of the 26th of February last, and of the Organic Statute to which it referred; and also for a copy or extract from the Despatch of the British Minister at St. Petersburg, communicating the same to his Majesty's Government.

Lord Sandon

seconded the Motion, He cordially concurred in all which had fallen from his hon. friend, who had so completely exhausted the subject, that he should have said nothing were he not anxious to support the prayer of a petition which had been intrusted to him by a numerous and respectable body of men in the city of Bristol. He regretted that they were tied down to express their grief and sorrow, being unable to take a more active part in obtaining redress. He must say, that he was not prepared to assert that England should go to war for such a purpose as that of compelling Russia to do justice to Poland; but there was nothing to prevent England from setting herself free from the reproach of being indifferent to liberty—of raising her voice in support of the rights of that most deeply-injured nation, Under the Treaty of Vienna, she posessed the most perfect right to do so; and he hoped that that right would be speedily exercised. It was in the highest degree chimerical to expect that the Russians and the Poles would ever amalgamate or form one people—no matter how often the attempt might be made, it could not but end in failure and disappointment. There was one important consideration to which he wished particularly to call the attention of the House; it was, that the conduct of Russia had completely put an end to the arrangement made at the Congress of Vienna; and it was open to the Powers of Europe to make what settlement of the pending question the present circumstances might demand. He hoped that the time was not distant when the Crown of Poland would be declared independent, and when that country would be placed in such a situation as to enable her to fulfil her duties amongst the great family of the States of Europe. In the consideration of such a question as that, he had the satisfaction to think, that there did not exist a second opinion, either in that House or in the nation at large. It had been contended, on the part of the emperor of Russia, that the Poles had forfeited their right to a free constitution, as well might it be said, that the people of Scotland, after the events of 1745, had forfeited all right to personal or political liberty.

Viscount Palmerston

said, that if it were his intention to object to the present Motion, he should feel it his duty to enter into the subject somewhat in detail, and to discuss the question at full length; but that would be unnecessary, as he was prepared to accede to the production of the papers. And as his hon. and learned friend had had the good taste and judgment to say that, neither by his arguments, nor by the Motion with which he intended to conclude, did he mean to drive his Majesty's Government into any defence or explanation of the conduct which they had pursued in reference to the affairs of Poland, he should avail himself of what had fallen from his hon. and learned friend, and beg the House to excuse him from entering into any discussion or explanation of the conduct pursued by Government in those transactions. He was sure there was no person who must not see that, with reference to all the interests concerned, and on every ac- count, he should best discharge his duty by not entering into any statement of that nature. At the same time, he was bound in justice to add, that the Government of this country was not blind to the rights conferred upon us by the Treaty of Vienna. No man could entertain a doubt that Great Britain possessed a full right to express a decided opinion upon the performance or the non-performance of the stipulations contained in that treaty. Nevertheless, it could not be denied that England lay under no peculiar obligation, individually, and independently of the other contracting parties, to adopt measures of direct interference by force. For the reasons, then, which he had already stated, he took for granted that the House would not expect him to explain at length the communications which had taken place between his Majesty's Government and their agents at foreign Courts, upon the subject of Poland. The hon. and learned Gentleman, in the course of his speech had adverted to the severities practised by the Russian government towards the Poles, and expressed an apprehension that other and still more objectionable severities were likely to take place. He (Lord Palmerston) should not at that moment, enter into details, but he thought every man who heard him must feel that it was the interest of Russia to take a very different course, and to attach the people of Poland to her government, not more by the justice of her policy, than by the concession of those institutions which were known to be the most agreeable to their feelings. No man who heard him could doubt that it was the policy of the Russian government to win the attachment of the people for the sovereign appointed to rule over them; and he must say, that any idea of exterminating a whole people, in the manner represented by the hon. and learned Gentleman, seemed to him so improbable, that he really could not understand on what grounds the supposition rested; and, at all events, he was confident it would be found not to be correct. With respect to the case of Thours, which had been alluded to by the hon. and learned Gentleman, he felt it necessary to state, that he understood Thours to be a subject either of Prussia or of Saxony, and therefore the Hanoverian government, in arresting him, was merely performing a duty, which according to the constitution of Germany, it was not able to refuse. He did not conceive it to be his duty to make any further observations; and the more so, as he had already said he did not intend to refuse the papers which were moved for. If, however, any observations were made in the course of the evening, which required explanation on his part, he trusted the House would extend to him its indulgence, and permit him to say a few words in reply.

Lord Morpeth

Rising, as I do, to speak in behalf of Poland, I am, perhaps, in some measure differently situated from others who take the same view, because I am not without some personal predilection for Russia. It was my fortune to receive in that country much kindness and hospitality. I saw there much to amuse and interest me. I saw a good deal to admire and to like. I contracted a considerable kindness of feeling towards Russia. I have taken opportunities of expressing it, when the occasion allowed, in this House. I rejoiced most cordially over the joint glories of Navarino. I grudged not the trophies of Varna and Shumna. I had no wish to foresee in the chastisers of barbarous and infidel Turkey the oppressors of civilized and Christian Poland. Again, I conceived a very high opinion of the personal character of the Emperor. I know that his brow had not grown pale before the most imminent and critical peril that ever fronted a sovereign upon his entrance to dominion; and I remarked an attention and devotion to the business of his station, highly creditable to a person of any rank, much more so to the ruler of half the Continent. I say thus much to prove that I am not naturally indisposed, but quite the reverse, to Russia and her rulers; of course, in their maxims of policy and habits of government there must be many things not congenial to British feeling; but I hear of no country which has a wider field before her than Russia, if she had her true interests, and studied her real glory, for developing all her gigantic scale of resources, for extending gradually the soft and high influences of civilization, industry, and art, over her boundless and untried regions, for raising herself and benefitting the world. But I must arraign her policy, when she chooses that the sceptre she might wield with so much advantage to mankind, should be a weapon of aggression and a rod of iron. I must question her right to hold Poland on any other tenure but an independent nation, which she is bound to see righteously, lawfully and constitutionally governed. I will not enter into the delicate and intricate question of the precise meaning of the several treaties. Such as they are, I trust that my noble friend, acting, I hope, in conjunction with the other nations of Europe, will exact their faithful fulfilment, dealing impartially between the powerful and the weak. Neither do I feel willing to dwell upon those painful details of vengeance and suffering by which our minds are now so often harassed, without those better opportunities which others must possess of verifying their exact authenticity. I cannot, however, but remark, if all, or much of what we hear is true—and much, alas! we know must be—if the design is on foot, and in active progress, to annihilate the Polish nation, name, constitution, language—all but her immortal memory—and this, the land of the Casimers and Sigismunds, of Sobieski and Kosciusko—the land that first resisted the torrent of Mahomedan invasion, and secured the liberties and religion of Europe; if her princes, and nobles, anti senators are consigned to the dungeons, the mines, the graves of Siberia; if her noble ladies travel to the foot of the throne—and I am told their very presence has struck a chill into the festivities of the capital—and sue not for pardon, but. for pity upon those whose fault it was to act with conscientious and heroic, though perhaps despairing devotion, in the cause of their country, while they thought they had one; and that suit is denied them if, while in confiscation and exile, they teach the course of her Czartoriskys and her Sangouskos, her rising and spirited youth are daily drafted to swell the ranks of the Russian armies, and prepare new Te Deums for future triumphs over the freedom of the world; if, further—oh, crowning horror!—let it be well attested before we credit it—children are carried off to lose the memory of their noble country on the frozen banks of the Obe, or among the mountainous steeps of Caucasus; if these things be, we may, without much compromising' ourselves, say, that a case is made out for the energetic intervention of England and of Europe; we may, without much presuming, add, that whatever becomes of that intervention, great room is left for the righteous retribution of Heaven.

Sir George Warrender

was anxious to look at the question divested of all personal feelings, but he still could not altogether get rid of the impression produced on him by the statements of the hon. and learned member for Kirkcudbright (Mr. Fergusson). He looked, however, with confidence to the exertions of the Government, and he derived much consolation from the knowledge that they possessed a Secretary of State disposed to act on true British principles. In the year 1793, Earl Grey, on this very question of Poland, moved a Resolution to the effect, that the general principles on which the security of nations rested, were wounded through the side of Poland. If the principles on which the security of nations rests were wounded through the side of Poland, then how much more were they wounded now, when, as they had heard to-night, a solemn treaty with the Powers of Europe had been grossly violated? He derived consolation, however, from the fact, that the person nearly connected with the noble Premier from whom this resolution emanated, was about to proceed to St. Petersburg; and he felt confident, from the reputation of the noble Ambassador, that the honour and interests of England, as well as the wishes of her people, would be consulted in the remonstrances which his instructions would call on him to put forth. He was confident that the people of England would view with the greatest dissatisfaction any approach towards the policy of the school of Castlereagh; for, although other subjects had diverted their attention for some time past, he could assure the Government, that there existed throughout the country the greatest regret for the fate of Poland, and the warmest sympathy for her brave and suffering people.

Lord Ebrington

could not avoid saying a few words on behalf of a people whose patience, under the most grinding oppression, could only be equalled by the almost superhuman bravery with which they had contended against the power of their oppressors. Independent, however, of all considerations of humanity, there were considerations of policy which could not well be overlooked. Was it to be supposed that if the present aggression of Russia was suffered to pass unnoticed—if the perfidy of which she had been guilty to the country she was called to rule over, on conditions, every one of which she had violated, was suffered to go without punishment—there would be any permanent security for the peace of any of the neighbouring States? Could Austria or Prussia look with any confidence to a permanent peace, or to the security of their possessions, unless a check was given to the exorbitant pretensions of Russia? Allusion had been made to the Treaty of Vienna: he was one of those who thought the Treaty of Vienna the consummation of the combined efforts of the greater Powers against the weaker, and that the stipulations of the treaty were intended for the aggrandisement of the greater Powers at the expense of the lesser. On this account he had always looked at it with regret; but he confessed he felt gratified to learn that a British Minister at that time had laboured to restore Poland to her rank among nations. He was happy to have such an opportunity to do justice to the character of the Minister who at that time represented England at the Congress, and to learn that he, as well as the representative of the descendants of Maria Teresa, was anxious to preserve the integrity of that kingdom which had formed the barrier of Christendom against the utmost power of its Mahomedan assailants. If the present aggression was acquiesced in, he saw, however, no hopes of permanent peace; and it was, therefore, with no slight satisfaction that he viewed the appointment of a dear friend of his, and a near relation of the Premier, to the embassy to St. Petersburg. This appointment gave him confidence as to the result, and would infuse fresh courage in the hearts of the friends of freedom. He was as anxious as any man to avoid plunging his country into the horrors of war. He was anxious to avoid anything which could have the effect of precipitating the country into war, but he was satisfied, that firmness at the present moment was the best method of avoiding contests hereafter. Should they, however, be compelled to draw the sword in order to preserve the rights of nature, he hoped it would be in conjunction with their free neighbour and ally of France, and in support of free principles and free constitutions.

Mr. O'Connell

was almost afraid to trust himself to speak as he felt on this subject, in such a place, and among those by whom he was surrounded. They had been told of the violation of the rights of Poland, by the violation of the terms of the Treaty of Vienna, The rights of Po- land depended not on the Treaty of Vienna; and those who assumed at that Conference the power of disposing of that territory, had no more right to do so than a band of robbers at any time possessed to parcel out the spoil they obtained in their excursions in search of plunder. Poland was no conquered country. It had been run over by the troops of France, and by the troops of Russia, and of Austria, but it was not conquered; and as to its rights, they existed before the spoliation of 1772, or the division of 1791, and were not to be taken away or disposed of by any treaty which the Congress of Vienna might have thought proper to enter into. They had heard that night of the atrocities perpetrated by Russia. Wives were separated from their husbands—all the ties of humanity were severed, and 100,000 children had been sent into the interior of Russia, to forget their language, their kindred, and their country. The noble Lord (Lord Morpeth) had spoken of the gratification he felt in being known to the emperor of Russia, and in having visited his Court. For his (Mr. O'Connell's) part, he should be ashamed of such an acquaintance. If the emperor of Russia had been a smaller and more insignificant person, it would have been considered a disgrace to hold any communication with him; but because he had a horde of 300,000, or 400,000 barbarians at his back, was that a reason why mankind should not treat him as he deserved, and execrate him on account of his crimes? The miscreant conqueror had violated the treaty which placed Poland in his hands, in a manner such as no treaty was ever violated before. The miscreant barbarian had violated all compact—had trampled on all rights; and was this Attila—this scourge of God—to found a new claim to the kingdom of Poland, because barbarian force had crowned his perfidy and infamy with success? Look at the history of Poland from 1770, and say of what crime Attila, the scourge of God was guilty, of which the Russians had not been guilty in Poland. The debt with which this country was loaded had, it was said, prevented her taking that station amongst the nations of Europe which she ought to have taken; but he did not despair of England yet, for the effect of the Reform Bill would be, to give the democratic principle in this country an impulse it had not yet received, and that spirit, urged on by the sympathy the people had for liberty, would press upon the Government of this country—would press, too, upon the stock-jobbing government of France—and compel the unpopular monarch there (whom he took to be as great a traitor to the cause of liberty as any man could be) to sympathise with the feelings of the people of France, and encourage the people of Germany, who were not disposed to be much longer the mere passive instruments of their rulers, to range themselves along with every rational government, and insist upon justice being done to Poland. The same democratic spirit would enable all free governments to show to Russia, that if she persevered longer in the career of crime, the universal voice of Europe, and the arm of Europe would be too strong for her. It was a question not of argument but of natural feeling. No country had been so ill treated as Poland. On no country had such barbarities been exercised. The conduct of Russia was most atrocious, and the amount of her crimes daily increasing. He trusted, however, that the day was not far distant when the nationality of Poland should be once more restored.

Mr. Schonswar

expressed his abhorrence at the atrocities which had been perpetrated against Poland. He could personally confirm the statements made in the House that night, by the testimony of persons who had lately arrived from that unhappy country. He hoped it was not yet too late for the intervention of this country, and he trusted to the spirit of the people, backed by that House, to save the people of Poland from utter extinction.

Colonel Evans

said, he fully agreed with the hon. Member (Sir George Warrender) in the tribute of respect which he had paid to the noble Secretary for Foreign Affairs. That noble Lord, although only in a few words, had admitted the right of our demanding an explanation from Russia; and that very admission was tantamount to this, that if the explanations were not satisfactory, some other course would be adopted to vindicate the honour and consistency of this country. He was glad that this subject had been brought forward by the learned Gentleman (Mr. Cutlar Fergusson), and it must rejoice every friend to liberty and humanity to hear the denunciations which were uttered against the conduct of Russia. He hoped the House would not be satisfied with denunciations, but that they would act with the courage that became a free and generous people. He should not shrink from a war, if a war became necessary, although he was glad that the peace of Europe had hitherto been preserved. If, however, as a sad alternative, war should become necessary, both England and France were bound to enter into it. Russia was really at the mercy of France and England. Her new acquisitions in Asia and elsewhere could soon be wrested from her, and by-and-by she might be reduced to her proper dimensions. If the negotiations were to terminate in hostility between Russia, and France and England on the other side, the cause of liberty could have nothing to fear from the power of the Autocrat or his allies.

Mr. Gally Knight

felt under great obligation to the hon. member for Kirkcudbright, for bringing the subject of Poland again before the House; because he thought the House would be wanting to itself if it did not express an opinion upon this important subject—if it testified neither sympathy with the calamities, nor interest in the fate, of a nation, of which it appeared to be the destiny to offer to successive generations, the sad, but illustrious, spectacle of unsuccessful valour, and unrewarded virtue—of which it appeared to be the destiny to be always the victim of oppression, and always the admiration of the world. On the occasion of the last unhappy struggle, however much our feelings might have sided with Poland, it must be admitted, that it was a contest which belonged to Russia and Poland alone. The patriots, who appealed to the sword, took the chances of war; and, however much we might have admired the gallantry of their defence, and however much we might have wished that that defence might have proved successful—no ground existed on which it would have been justifiable for other nations to have recourse to military interference. But the war party of Paris had much to answer for. He feared they encouraged the patriots to expose themselves to an overwhelming force, by pledges of assistance which they had no power of redeeming, and by promises which no Minister could have attempted to fulfil. And now all was over. Colossal force had again prevailed. Poland had become the theatre of another tragedy. The curtain had dropped again upon a scene of anguish and of death; and weeping Fame could only record the struggles of the deserving, and blend in future eulogies the name of Czartorisky with that of Kosciusko. And here we might have expected that all would have been concluded, and that Russia, having vindicated her authority, would have proceeded to extract the germs of future disquiet, by removing the causes of just dissatisfaction. But what had been the case? The Russian Ukase of February dissipated all these dreams of mercy. Instead of being treated with lenity, Poland was deprived of her very existence as a nation; Poland was blotted out from the map of Europe, and lost amongst the provinces of an interminable empire. Under these circumstances, it became the duty of that House to express its dismay and consternation at the blow which had been inflicted on Poland, and to appeal to the faith of that treaty, which, if it had been observed to the letter in rivetting the chains of Italy, should, at least, be observed in securing the conditions which were obtained for Poland; and it would be strange indeed if the House were to hesitate in adopting this course on this particular day, when a Convention had been laid on its Table, securing to Russia advantages, at the expense of this country, in consideration of her firm adherence to the very treaty in question. England was especially bound to appeal; for what was the situation in which England stood when the Treaty of Vienna was framed? Was it not the most splendid position which this or any other country ever attained?—a position purchased by more than twenty years' struggle—by more than twenty years' magnanimity; purchased with a prodigality of treasure, purchased with the blood of the best and the clearest of her sons; a position which made England, for a moment, the permitted umpire and arbitress of the destiny of nations, and enabled her to "order peace, or war, her own majestic way." How far she made the best use of that golden opportunity he would not then stop to inquire; but, at least, he would say, that England, having thus presided over the formation of the Treaty of Vienna, was bound by all the ties of honour and good faith to protest against the violation of that treaty, when its violation was an inroad upon the happiness and independence of a nation. The Treaty of Vienna expressly mentioned, that Poland was to possess a constitution; and, in conformity with this stipulation, the Emperor Alexander erected Poland into a separate kingdom—gave her a charter, re-establish- ed the Diet, promised that Poles alone should be employed in the government of their country, and confirmed to Poland such other privileges and immunities as were necessary to her happiness and the preservation of her nationality. What, then, became of the maintenance of this part of the Treaty of Vienna, when the constitution of Poland was absolutely and entirely taken away—when the Charter was revoked—when the Diet was abolished—when strangers were to govern the land, and when Poland was made an integral part of the Russian empire. He acknowledged that Poland had been in a state of insurrection; but, when he acknowledged this, he must be permitted to say, that this insurrection was caused by repeated violations of the charter, and a series of unmerited wrongs. He acknowledged that Poland had been in a state of insurrection; but had not the penalty been abundantly paid? Could a whole nation be rightfully deprived of its constitution because a part of it had resisted? Confiscation, the scaffold, and the deserts of Siberia, had punished the act of disobedience; but were generations yet unborn to suffer for the error of their fathers? Were those who guaranteed the Treaty of Vienna to be for ever deprived of the redeeming part of their bargain? Insurrection was transitory—the penalty should be transitory also. A nation was eternal, and so were its rights. This was not the way for Russia to make Poland an useful part of her empire. The pen of autocracy might efface a name from the map, but the power of autocracy could not annihilate a country—could not teach the Poles to forget they once were a nation, or crush the recollections and the virtues which ages had confirmed. Not all the power of all the Russias would ever be able to Russianize Poland. If patriotism was the pride of the prosperous, it was the last support of the miserable—that consolation to which they clung the more, the more they were oppressed. If Greece, after centuries of Turkish tyranny, was again springing into life, could Russia hope ever to destroy Poland? No! she might make Poland a heap of ashes, but the embers would still be glowing beneath—she might stifle the very groans of her victims, but, though their curses might not be loud, they would be deep. All the kindly feelings of their hearts—all lofty aspirations—all the tender affections—ambition, duty, love—all would be lost, absorbed, in one wild, burning, thought, and that would be—revenge! Think of a gallant nation reduced to this extremity. Think of Poland reduced to this. Vengeance her only hope—hugged to her heart as a miser hugs his gold—transmitted, a fatal secret, from father to son—whispered in confidential meetings, acknowledged by conventional signs—always suspected, always existing—never discovered, till at last revealed in flame and in blood. Such a state of perpetual disquiet, such a source of lasting weakness would Russia prepare for herself if she persevered in her present severities; but, if generosity and sound policy re-assumed their sway in her councils, Poland might yet become the brightest gem in the Imperial crown. Something must be left to generous natures, something on which their feelings could repose; especially the feelings of those who had seen brighter days. Kindness might win where force could not subdue: let Russia reflect on this—let her see her own interest in its true point of view—let her pause—let her reconsider. Poland might yet be saved, and Europe satisfied.

Mr. Pigott

said, that the destruction of Poland was chiefly attributable to the culpable apathy of England and France in 1792. The annihilation of Poland then took place. He regretted it as much as any man in this House; and he hoped this Government would not pledge itself to pay any money on the Russian loan until the Treaty of Vienna was fully carried into effect.

Mr. Ruthven

was happy to hear, that the name of England had acquired a better character at the Treaty of Vienna than the world was inclined to attribute to the noble Lord who was our Ambassador on that occasion. He deprecated the barbarous atrocities of Russia, and thanked God the people of England and the Members of this House had spoken out so boldly upon the subject. The money of England should not be sent to the emperor of Russia, to pay those troops who had sacrificed the people, the nation, the laws, the language, and best institutions of Poland. The resources of this country should not be directed to the support of a despotism which the people of England abhorred.

Sir Robert Inglis

expressed his surprise at the language which had been held in that House towards the emperor of Russia. He was surprised that the right hon. Secretary opposite, and the other members of his Majesty's Government should have suffered seven Members to proceed with such language ["hear!" and "suffered,"]—he meant, without its being noticed. He considered such language to be a most improper use of the freedom of debate in that House. Such language was highly improper in relation to a private individual; but when a sovereign—one, too, with whom this country was in alliance—was termed a miscreant conqueror; when the hon. and learned Gentleman used such language as that—

Mr. Cutlar Fergusson

I did not say so.

Sir Robert Inglis

did not mean that hon. Gentleman, but another hon. and learned Member, who was then absent (the member for Kerry), he could not withhold his surprise that no comment was made by any member of his Majesty's Government He was not to be understood as giving any opinion for or against the Motion. He had an opinion, which he should reserve; but he must observe, that if such language were used in that House, there could be very little prospect of maintaining peace.

Viscount Palmerston

said, that no person could regret more than he did the expressions which had been uttered by the hon. member for Kerry. He had, however, previously spoken; and he did not conceive himself responsible for the language of hon. Members. He did not feel himself justified in interrupting the hon. Member, so long as he did not intrude upon the order of the House.

Mr. Beaumont

was surprised that the noble Lord should disapprove of the expressions which had been made use of towards the emperor of Russia. For his part, he was delighted with them. He entirely concurred with the hon. Member, that the emperor of Russia was a micreant. As a country gentleman, the Representative of a very large county, he would repeat those words. He relied on the spirit which would be evinced by the people of England, under a Reformed Parliament. They would speak in a voice that could not be mistaken.

Mr. Hume

agreed with the hon. Gentleman who spoke last. An hon. Member complained that the emperor of Russia was called a miscreant; why, he would call him a monster in human form. If he knew language by which he could more strongly express his detestation, he would use it. He wondered that the hon. member for the University of Oxford should venture in that House to address a Minister of the Crown, and ask him why he suffered such language to be used there. Why it was not in his power to prevent it.

Sir Robert Inglis

I said, "without noticing it."

Mr. Hume

I ask, what were the words to which the hon. Member alluded.

Sir Robert Inglis

I stated the words, "miscreant conqueror."

Mr. Hume

would repeat those words. They were too weak to express his feelings of detestation at the barbarities which had been exercised towards Poland. He would ask, were the accounts of the conduct of Russia untruly or unfairly stated? If anything stated by his hon. friend, the member for Kerry, was untrue, let any Member stand up in his place and deny it. If true, he asked any man possessing the feelings of a Briton, whether such language was not weak when compared to such atrocity? He had that day attended a large meeting of his fellow-countrymen, where the strongest sympathy was expressed towards unhappy Poland, and he was convinced that the whole nation participated in that sympathy.

Mr. Wyse

said, that this was not the first time that he had heard great tenderness recommended towards the emperor of Russia, who was, perhaps, the most questionable sovereign in Europe. Liberty of speech on such subjects as these was highly desirable; and it was an idle thing to suppose that it was possible, by diplomacy or cunning, to check the just indignation of the people of this country. He felt much pride in believing that, by such debates as these, they were raising a moral barrier against the inroads of Russian despotism, and he was, therefore, grieved to find that there was one man in that House who thought proper to deprecate such a discussion. The hon. Gentleman then went on to contend, that the constitution that had been given to Poland, pursuant to the Congress of Vienna had been violated in every respect; and in the place of liberty, oppression and despotism had been dealt out to them. It was sufficient to show what was the tendency of Russian policy towards Poland, by stating the one fact, that in spite of all remonstrance—in spite of all petitioning—Constantine had still been allowed to tyrannize over Poland, until at last the Poles had nothing left but the last appeal to the sword; and nobly had they made that appeal. Though the noble attempt of the Poles had failed, yet he did not despair: the force of moral influence would do much; and success must finally attend their cause, when it was known that the united voice of England was in favour of that magnanimous but unfortunate people.

Mr. Baring

said, that although the hon. Member who had just sat down thought proper to reprimand his hon. friend, the member for Oxford, for complaining of the strong language used by the hon. and learned member for Kerry, yet he (Mr. Baring) thought, that the tone of moderation and good taste with which the hon. Member himself always addressed the House, was at least a tacit reflection upon the language complained of. He concurred entirely with his hon. friend, the member for Oxford that it was not necessary to go into a discussion of the feelings of any Gentleman who might allow himself to use expressions of that description; but he must still maintain, that the old practice of that House had been, when speaking of the Sovereigns and other great Powers of Europe, especially those in alliance with this country, to do so with a decency and propriety of language. This practice had, at least, the utility that it tended to maintain the peace of the world; for it was a fact, that conflicts between nation and nation often originated from irritations of that description, and for the many years he had sat in that House, such expressions were not suffered to pass by without comment. Undoubtedly it showed that the great progress of civilization, of which the world so much boasted, had not operated there. When speaking thus of Sovereigns, he would not exclude from the same rule the President of the United Sates; in fact, the more that free governments were established in the world, the more sensitive they were to allusions of that kind, which were calculated on all occasions to rouse an unfriendly spirit amongst nations. Therefore he held the interference of his hon. friend was most useful, in bringing them back to the old rules of the House. He rose principally to express his opinion on that subject. The question of Poland, which had been raised by the hon. member for Kirkcudbright, as the hon. member for Kerry had said, was more a matter of feeling than of interest to this country; as a matter of feeling it was of great importance, but as a matter of national interest, he did not regard it of any great consequence; nor did he think the Russian power to be so threatening to the peace of the world as had been described. From considerations of humanity he could not suppose a case more affecting than that which Poland presented; and he admitted to the fullest extent the title of that nation to the sympathy of the world. Without looking into the question of the nature of the rebellion—and a more righteous rebellion never manifested itself in any country—he would merely notice the character of the government imposed upon Poland. What was that government? The empire of Russia had rejected the lawful heir, as being unfit to reign over that nation; and yet Poland—unhappy Poland—was the unfortunate victim over which that man was appointed to reign. Though he had himself condemned the use of strong language, yet he did not know in what terms to describe the character of that individual, whom all Europe, though at that period more peculiarly enamoured with the doctrines of legitimacy, still universally condemned. No person who heard what passed in Poland but knew that the greatest provocation had been given to the people of that country. At the same time he must add, that this country was not called upon, and would not be justified in attempting to redress the wrongs of other countries, nor could we be expected under any circumstances to sally forth to redress the injuries sustained by them. He, however, hoped that the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Department would use his influence, in conjunction with the parties to the Treaty of Vienna, to enforce with temperance, and at the same time with firmness, the stipulations of that agreement. The hon. Member concluded by observing, that those who voted for the payment of 5,000,000l. to Russia, on the score of policy could not justify that vote but by admitting the necessity of a conciliatory policy.

Mr. Sheil

said, that the member for Thetford would have them "mince their words, and mollify damnation with a phrase." He was right; but he should make allowance for others, who himself had had sometimes occasion for indulgence towards his vocabulary; and it would not be amiss for him to consider a man as pardonable for speaking of a miscreant on his throne, as for speaking of his fellow-citizens (a portion of the English people) as "blackguards in the streets." The hon. member for Oxford had been the first to find fault with this fervour in favour of the Poles. But was he not the man who had introduced the case of the Vaudois into that House? What were the bursts of eloquence that emanated from the hon. Baronet on that occasion? In what terms did he not denounce the oppression with which his fellow-religionists were treated? But this evening how soft, mellifluous, and gentle, had he become! His words had fallen like drops of honey from his lips in speaking of the emperor of all the Russias. The member for Thetford, however, had not followed his example. It was true, that he had no objection to pay reverence to an Emperor, perhaps on the principle that others were ready to "respect the Devil for his burning throne." But, nevertheless, he ventured to condemn the conduct of Nicholas, and would not trust himself with writing Constantine's epitaph. For his part, he (Mr. Sheil) would not call Nicholas a miscreant; because, when he saw a man delegating his brother, into whom the spirit of Nero must have transmigrated—if there was a metempsychosis among despots, to tread the heart of Poland out—when he saw him betraying a nation of heroes into submission, and then transporting them to Siberia, shaving off the grey hair of nobles with the blood of Europe's saviours in their veins; degrading and enslaving women, sparing neither age nor sex, and thrusting the hand of a ruthless and Herod-like infanticide into the cradle of Polish childhood. When he saw him acting thus, and leaving himself nothing to add to damnation, he would not call him "miscreant," because the word was too poor and incommensurate with his depravity, but exclaim, "Oh, thou art worse than words can give thee out."

Mr. Maurice O'Connell

expressed a hope that the hon. Baronet would explain away the terms that he had used towards the hon. and learned member for Kerry, which in his (Mr. M. O'Connell's) opinion, were highly unparliamentary. Did the hon. member for Oxford mean to say, that the hon. and learned member for Kerry would not say in the presence of the Ambassadors what he had said in that House? He remembered to have read the strong language used by Mr. Canning, in relation to the President of the United States of America, and that was quite as bad as any that had fallen from the hon. member for Kerry.

Sir Robert Inglis

did mean that the language used by the hon. member for Kerry was very improper. The hon. and learned Member had applied the word miscreant to an absent person, and such language was, in his opinion, unbecoming in any hon. Member; he merely stated his view of the matter without meaning to give any offence to any hon. Member.

Sir Robert Peel

could not help expressing his satisfaction that the Motion shortly to be put from the Chair was of a character so different from the tone of this debate. It pledged the House to no particular line of conduct, but called for that information, the possession of which, in an official shape, was necessary to enable it to form a judgment, and he must say, he wished many Members had waited for that information before they had expressed such decisive opinions. It was well for hon. Gentlemen to say that now was the time for France and England to unite, in order to compel the other Powers of Europe to adopt a certain line of policy; but the House must be sensible, that there was a moral obligation imposed upon a great country like this, to weigh well, before enteringin to it, the justice of a war, the probability of its success, and all its possible consequences. It was our duty, no doubt, also to consider what were our engagements to other countries, and no fear of war should prevent us from fulfilling those engagements; but, before they lightly determined on war, and undertook to predict its success and limit its consequences, let them well consider the position in which the country stood, and what it was bound in good faith to do. The hon. and learned Mover had, therefore, pursued the proper course, by calling, in the first instance, for information. He considered it important that no obligation contracted under the Treaty of Vienna ought to be kept out of view; but there was another document required in order to supply all the means for judging of this question—he meant the constitution granted to Poland by Alexander, the production of which he would suggest as an addition to this Motion. He should not have done this, had the noble Lord objected to the Motion as interfering with pending negotiations. The hon. and learned Gentleman had fortified his claim to the sympathy of Parliament and the country, by referring to the severities which had been inflicted by Russia subsequently to the insurrection. He was the last person to vindicate the infliction of those severities—that is to say, if it were clearly ascertained that they had been inflicted He could only consider them impolitic in the extreme, for he did not understand how the affections of any country could be conciliated by such a course of proceeding He doubted its justice as well as its policy; but, before he joined in the indignation which had been expressed, he wished to be quite certain that the allegations were true, and would suspend his judgment till he was satisfied upon that point. H had too often known accusations brought against persons in that House prove, on inquiry, to be erroneous, to give hasty credit to those preferred against persons at a distance, and living under another government. Statements had been even made of transactions taking place in the very streets of London, published in all the newspapers, and noticed in Parliament as undoubted facts, and then, the very next day, they had been contradicted, in the most positive manner, by the heads of public departments, and declared to b without the shadow of a foundation. If it were true, as had been asserted, that hundreds of young children had been daily removed from Poland—nay, if an number, however limited, had been torn from their parents, for the purpose of being transferred to a foreign land, it would be not only impossible to attempt a vindication of such proceedings, but impossible to avoid participating in the indignation which had been expressed. With respect to the language which had been applied to the emperor of Russia, he cordially concurred with his hon. friends, the member for the University of Oxford, and the member for Thetford, in deprecating such language. He must protest against the emperor of Russia—a foreign sovereign with whom the country was in alliance—being called a miscreant, and the king of France denounced as a stock jobbing sovereign and a traitor. The hon. member for Middlesex said, that the protests of his hon. friends and himself were attempts to interdict the freedom of speech. They were the very reverse: they were in themselves the exercise of that freedom. A Member might, if he thought fit, use such language, but other Members had as clear a right to enter their protest against it. He would venture to say, that the gallant Poles, the objects of their sympathy never indulged in such expressions: they felt the hand of oppression, and resorted to the most vigorous means of redress, and their dignified remonstrances excited more sympathy throughout Europe than if they had exhausted the whole vocabulary of Billingsgate for the purpose of abusing their opponents. He did not deny the right of the hon. member for Middlesex to apply these indecorous expressions of abuse, or the right of the member for Louth to abstain from using them, on the ground that, even with his copious command of language, he could find none adequate to express his feelings; but he doubted whether it were politic to rally round the Emperor of a powerful country the proud and independent feelings of his own subjects, through indignation at the insults offered to their Sovereign. Did hon. Members imagine that a continual tone of insult in the French Chambers, applied to King William 4th, would tend to conciliate the feelings of England, or obtain from England the redress of any wrong of which France might have to complain? Would not every man in the nation feel that his independence was insulted, if the sovereign, who was his organ of communication with foreign countries, was continually loaded by foreigners with opprobrious epithets? So far from such a mode of expressing their sentiments advancing the object in view, it must inevitably retard it, first by diminishing respect for their character, and next by making it almost impossible to yield to menace and insult that which might, readily be conceded to moderate and decorous remonstrance. We had had experience in the history of our own times, that, national disputes might be embittered by the incautious use of insulting language. The learned Gentleman who spoke last, justified the use of violent expressions by the example of Mr. Canning in our disputes with the United States. He doubted whether Mr. Canning himself, if he were now alive, would admit the justification. If the learned Gentleman would refer to an earlier period of our controversies with the United States, he might learn, that a whole nation resented the insulting tone assumed by Mr. Wedderburn towards Franklin. In short, all experience proved the policy of abstaining from the use of such language. Such, too, had been the usual practice of the House, and, when that practice had been violated, some Members of the House had always expressed their dissent from, and regret at, the violation. He did not think, then, that the noble Lord, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, could possibly have said less than he did in deprecation of the course that had been pursued. If the anticipations of hon. Gentlemen were, that a Reformed Parliament would be infinitely more abusive, he hoped the Members of a Reformed Parliament would follow the example of that hon. Member, who, in the course of the debate, had quoted the sentence of Bacon with respect to strawberry-beds. He was led to expect from the hon. Member himself some strong expression that would deeply embitter the animosities of the debate, but when the hon. Gentleman calmly referred to Lord Bacon's excellent chapter on gardens, and said that the victories of the Russians over the Poles would be like trampling upon strawberry-beds, he felt greatly relieved. The hon. Member would probably himself be in a Reformed Parliament, and he trusted he would set the example of inflicting censure in language so figurative, and so void of offence, that no foreign Power would probably understand, and certainly would never resent it. No man would more strenuously remonstrate against an infraction of public faith than he would; but there was no man who had a more cordial abhorrence of war, and no one who felt more strongly the public calamity which war would inflict upon the whole world, than himself; and he thought it would be prudent, if, before indulging their sympathies and feeling, they saw a clear case made out as to the extent of the obligations imposed upon this country, as to the chances of success, and the probability of aiding those who might be the objects of the national sympathy. It was impossible to avoid expressing admiration of the Poles; but, knowing what he did of the personal character of the Emperor Nicholas—understanding what had been his uniform conduct with respect to his own subjects—hearing the testimony in his favour of the noble Lord opposite, which he was sorry to find him disposed so hastily to retract—he could not credit, without full proof, the infliction of severities which would not only be unjust, but most impolitic. Upon this, then, as upon all other occasions, he entreated those who might be in a Reformed House of Commons, to consider well before they entered into any precipitate resolution likely to involve this country in war; but, if they should come to such a resolution, the more temperate the language in which it was couched, the more credit would the world give them for intending to abide by it.

Motion agreed to.